1. StevoR says

    Huh, if I’d known this would be the first comment toppinmg the new page here, I would not have made it..

  2. StevoR says

    Just doggrel probly but still :

    So many gods and goddesses to choose from and who knows which is right?
    Of all the putative hells to choose from might all just be to fright?
    To make the people fear and so much easier to control
    Do they know they all are lying and just out to play the role?
    Perhaps religion(‘)s power can be broken if we think,
    That their impos-ed hierarchies really all do just plain stink!

    Me, just now FWIW, Some reaching for rhymes.

    Also tho’ sung by a religious band the line here in U2’s Bullet the Blue Sky – 4 min 54 secs onwards : “Well, the God I believe in isn’t short of cash MR!”

  3. says

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

    Russian troops have continued to “terrorise” civilians across Ukraine, according to Ukrainian governors, despite the Kremlin’s supposed 36-hour ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas.

    Attacks were reported in at least seven regions in Ukraine’s east and south over the past 24 hours, killing at least three people and injuring 14, the Kyiv Independent reports.

    Russian troops shelled the southern Kherson oblast 39 times on Friday. Residential buildings and a fire station building came under fire in the liberated city of Kherson, governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said on Telegram on Saturday.

    A first responder was killed in Kherson, and seven civilians were wounded across the liberated parts of the Kherson region on Friday, he added.

    In the eastern Donetsk oblast, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said two civilians were killed in Bakhmut and the nearby town of Krasna Hora on Friday. Seven others were wounded, he added.

    Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said Russian troops were “terrorising” civilians in the north-eastern region. No casualties have been reported, but residential and commercial buildings have continued to come under fire during the purported ceasefire period.

    Ukraine has updated the number of Russian troops it believes it has killed to 110,740.

    The general staff of the armed forces said another 490 were killed on Friday, in its early morning update on Saturday.

    The figures have not been independently verified by the Guardian, and Russian figures differ, although it is thought Kremlin figures are far below the real number of troops killed.

    A further two tanks were taken [out], along with three artillery systems.

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy has praised the US for including tank-killing armored vehicles in its latest multibillion-dollar package of military aid, saying they are “exactly what is needed” for troops locked in combat against Russian forces.

    The latest multi-billion dollar package of U.S. military assistance announced Friday by the White House was the biggest to date for Kyiv. For the first time, it included Bradley armored vehicles – known as tank-killers because of the anti-tank missiles they fire.

    In his nightly televised address on Friday, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy called it “a very powerful package.”

    “For the first time, we will get Bradley armoured vehicles – this is exactly what is needed. New guns and rounds, including high-precision ones, new rockets, new drones. It is timely and strong,” he said.

  4. says

    Guardian – “Israel’s far right hits ground running, and ripple effects are already being felt”:

    Glancing up and staring directly into the camera, the suspect who broke into the centuries-old Jerusalem cemetery appears to spot the CCTV equipment recording his hate crime. Seemingly unfazed, he looks down again, focusing on the task at hand – pushing over a stone cross and smashing it to pieces.

    The two young males who vandalised more than 30 Christian graves last weekend showed little concern about hiding their identities while carrying out a religiously motivated attack. They did not cover their faces as they systematically destroyed headstones on a bright Sunday afternoon in the heart of the holy city. Such is the confidence with which the suspects, believed to be teenage Israeli extremists arrested on Friday, now operate.

    And why not operate with confidence? The new ultranationalist religious rulers of Israel, sworn in just days before, include people who share their view of Jewish supremacy. One cabinet minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, made his name as an ideological firebrand lawyer defending exactly the same sort of far-right Jewish settlers who have conducted similar attacks against Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Now he oversees the very institution that is supposed to prevent such crimes – the police.

    There’s a “ripple effect” of a hard-right government coming to power, said the former Palestinian peace negotiator Diana Buttu. “The fact that they desecrated those graves, it’s not coming out of the blue – it’s because they can.”

    Israel’s new government is the most far-right in the country’s relatively short history, and it has hit the ground running. In little more than a week, the administration has made moves towards the largest expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank since the occupation began. It has allowed the hardline minister Ben-Gvir to stage a provocative visit to a sacred mosque compound – an act that has previously led to an intifada. It has announced a plan to gut the judiciary, which, despite already leaning to the hard right, is still seen as a thorn in the side of Israeli politicians who want direct control of Palestinian and Israeli life, with no checks.

    All this was made possible because political survivor Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, made deals with politicians once seen as radicals. He needed them to form a coalition government, and in the process, he mainstreamed the far right.

    Israel’s politics has not suddenly lurched to ideological extremes. In big picture terms, Ben-Gvir and other settlers in the new government share the same goals as Netanyahu, and even many of Israel’s self-proclaimed centrist and leftwing politicians: ultimate control in perpetuity.

    In a tweet in Hebrew, Netanyahu made very clear the ideological pillars of the new administration. “The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel,” he wrote. “The government will promote and develop settlement in all parts of the Land of Israel,” he added, including the occupied West Bank.

    “The difference is that with this government, their sole political platform is against Palestinians,” [Buttu] said. “There is no longer a veneer.”

    US diplomats in Jerusalem are squirming in their attempts to carry out difficult political contortions, talking about working towards a future Palestinian state while knowing very well that the Israeli government Washington claims to support seeks the opposite. It’s hard not to trip up.

    “With this government, there is no pretence,” wrote Hadar Susskind, the president of the nonprofit Americans for Peace Now. “De facto annexation is a part of its platform. It is explicitly a chief goal of its members. The occupation is the rot at the core of this putrid government.”

    Even the Israeli right wing, victorious after a decades-long political battle to snuff out domestic anti-occupation voices, is starting to fret that it may have overstepped.

    David Horovitz, the editor of the Times of Israel newspaper, wrote how Israelis were now worried that Netanyahu had made too many concessions to his far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies.

    But, he wrote: “That ship, voters and lovers of Israel, has sailed.”

  5. says

    NBC – “Conservative leader Matt Schlapp is accused of fondling a male campaign staffer in Georgia”:

    Matt Schlapp, one of the nation’s most prominent conservative leaders and a top ally of former President Donald Trump, is being accused of sexually groping a male aide on Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s campaign in October.

    “He reached in between my legs and fondled me,” the former Walker staffer told NBC News in a telephone interview Thursday night. “To my shame, I didn’t say anything” to stop Schlapp. NBC News is withholding the staffer’s name at his request because he fears the allegations against a powerful Republican could harm his own career in GOP politics.

    Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, is married to former Trump White House aide Mercedes Schlapp. His organization hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference, a crucial proving ground for Republican presidential hopefuls….

  6. says

    Countervortex – “Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions”:

    Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a brief visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Jan. 3, flanked by a heavy security detail and a fellow Orthodox Jewish worshipper—eliciting immediate outrage from both the Palestinian leadership and the Jewish state’s own allies….

    The fracas comes as Israeli authorities have launched another supposed archaeological project in East Jerusalem which critics say masks an ongoing program of “Judaization” of the Old City. This concerns the Pool of Siloam, a small reservoir that is believed to have served Jerusalem’s population in biblical times. Newly approved excavations will for the first time expose the entire reservoir, said to have been built during the reign of the Israelite King Hezekiah in the 8th century BCE, and to be the pool referenced in Kings II, 20:20. Announcement of the excavation was made Dec. 27 in a joint statement by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the City of David Foundation (also called the Elad Foundation) and the Israel Nature & Parks Authority. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion hailed the announcement, describing the pool as “a site of historic, national and international significance.”

    The excavated pool will be added to a controversial “Pilgrims Route” that starts at the Western Wall (directly below al-Aqsa compound, or the Temple Mount) and ending at the City of David, an archaeological complex within the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. The pool was supposedly used by Jewish pilgrims for ritual cleansing during the Second Temple period.

    In making the announcement, officials from the Elad Foundation visited the site, accompanied by a large detachment of police officers, including Border Police—sparking a spontaneous protest from local Palestinian residents. Three members of a Palestinian family that claims rights to the land in question were detained. A video of the incident has been circulating on social media.

    The joint Israel-Palestinian group Emek Shaveh, which works to oppose socially irresponsible archaeology, has been keeping track of the history of land tenure at the site. Part of the area to be excavated is on a terraced olive grove long owned by the Greek Patriarchate, and rented to a Palestinian family since 1931. This plot was sold to an offshore holding company as part of a controversial 2004 deal that also saw far-right Jewish groups take over two hotels in nearby areas of the Old City. After a decade of legal challenges, that deal was upheld by a decision of Israel’s Supreme Court in June.

    The Greek Patriarchate owns much property in Jerusalem and on the West Bank, and has been met with Palestinian protest for divesting lands to Jewish extremist groups.

    The steps to the Pool of Siloam were first excavated by British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the 1960s. The site is referenced in the Siloam Inscription, a 2,700-year-old Hebrew text looked to as historical support for the notion that the pool is that mentioned in the Bible, and fed a tunnel that supplied water to ancient Jerusalem. The artifact is currently held at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. According to recent reports, Turkish officials are considering returning the inscription to Jerusalem amid warming ties with Israel. (Times of Israel)

  7. StevoR says

    This government will not indiscriminately ‘make examples’ of boat refugees by turning some of them back… we wil not risk taking action against genuine refugees just to get a message across. That would be an utterly inhuman course of action.”

    Michael MacKellar, (Australian – ed) Minister for Immigration (1975-79.)

    Old fb meme / quote from back in the LNP Fraser govt of the1970’s.

    We’ve fallen so far from what we used to be here..

    ^ Now vs then :

    Wikipedia :

    Meanwhile in the land of the Statute of Lady Liberty and the famous awesome Emma Lazarus poem affixed to her base Is it really an emrgency that peope want tolive and seek shelter and new hope where we live now?

  8. says

    Yahoo!/AFP – “Thousands march in Paris in memory of 2013 murder of Kurds”:

    Thousands of demonstrators marched in central Paris on Saturday to pay tribute to three Kurdish activists murdered a decade ago.

    The march, an annual event since the killings on January 9, 2013, came two weeks after an eerily similar triple slaying on December 23 at the Kurdish Cultural Centre in Paris — just a few minutes’ walk from the site of the earlier shootings.

    The organisers said more than 25,000 people from all over Europe had joined the rally.

    They carried banners with the pictures of the 2013 victims and slogans such as “The Turkish government has massacred three more Kurds” as they walked from the Gare du Nord station in the north of the capital towards Place de la Republique, a popular spot for demonstrations.

    In 2013, Sakine Cansiz, 54, a founder of the PKK Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a long insurgency against Turkey, was killed execution-style with shots to the head.

    Two other women were killed in the same way: Fidan Dogan, 28 and Leyla Saylemez, 24 at the Kurdish Information Centre in Paris’ 10th district.

    The PKK, which fights for increased autonomy for the Kurdish population, is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

    Turkey is a member of the NATO and considered as crucial for the protection of the military alliance’s southeastern flank.

    A Turkish maintenance worker at Charles de Gaulle airport had been due to go on trial for the 2013 attack, but he died from a brain tumour shortly before his trial was due to start, in December 2016.

    Kurdish activists in France, home to the second-biggest Kurdish community in the European Union after Germany, have always alleged that the Turkish secret service ordered the killings.

    In May 2019, a French anti-terrorist judge was tasked with re-opening the investigation.

    The victims’ families say the probe has been hampered by lack of access to secret documents that they say France was refusing to declassify.

    “France has a debt of justice towards us,” Metin Cansiz, the brother of Sakine Cansiz, told AFP ahead of Saturday’s march.

    His family, he said, had lost a loved one “sacrificed” on the altar of Franco-Turkish relations.

    In last month’s attack, Abdurrahman Kizil, singer Mir Perwer and Emine Kara, leader of the Movement of Kurdish Women in France linked to the PKK, were shot dead by a man named as William Malet.

    French prosecutors say the suspect, a retired rail worker, had admitted to wanting to “murder migrants”, but several Kurds who spoke to AFP said they suspected a “terror” act orchestrated by the Turkish state.

    The murders sparked a major demonstration by Kurds in Paris on Decmeber 24.

  9. says

    France 24 – “Dismay in French Caribbean as Paris court dismisses pesticide case”:

    Nearly 20 years after Caribbean islanders sued to hold the French government criminally responsible for the banana industry’s extended use of a banned pesticide in Martinique and Guadeloupe, a panel of judges has dismissed their case, ruling that it’s too hard to determine who’s to blame for acts committed so long ago.

    The judges in Paris described the use of chlordecone from 1973-1993 as a scandalous “environmental attack whose human, economic and social consequences affect and will affect for many years the daily life of the inhabitants” of the two French Caribbean islands. But they also asserted that even in the 1990s, scientists had not established links between chlordecone and illnesses in people.

    “How dare they write such a historical and scientific untruth,” Christophe Lèguevaques, an attorney involved in the case, said in a statement issued Thursday.

    Chlordecone, also known as kepone, was patented in the 1950s by scientists working for Allied Chemical, a U.S. company based in New Jersey now called Allied Corporation, and millions of pounds of the pesticide were produced, nearly all of it exported for use outside the United States. 

    The US government banned the pesticide in 1976, a year after the Virginia health department permanently shut down a Life Science Products chemical plant in Hopewell, Va., whose workers developed slurred speech and other neurological problems blamed on the pesticide. 

    However, chlordecone was legally marketed in France from 1981 until the government banned it in 1990, and its use continued for three more years after that in Guadeloupe and Martinique to kill the banana weevil under an exemption granted by the French government. Decades later, it continues to contaminate the islands’ soil and water….

    Much more at the link.

  10. raven says

    The deal McCarthy made with the Fascist GOP includes cuts to national defense.
    “Lawmakers would have to contend with a $130 billion cut to discretionary spending, including a potential $75 billion cut to national security, ”

    This could be called treason and support for genocide. Russia is clearly our enemy now and conducting a genocidal invasion of Ukraine.

    This is going to be a hard sell though.
    We have 3 generations of hating and fearing Russia as part of the Cold War and that doesn’t just go away because a few GOP Fascists support Russia.

    McCarthy’s Speaker Deal Could Stymie Defense Spending Next Year

    McCarthy’s Speaker Deal Could Stymie Defense Spending Next Year
    His proposal would cap discretionary spending at 2022 levels
    Plan is likely to spur backlash from defense hawks in Congress
    Kevin McCarthy
    January 6, 2023 at 9:06 AM PST Updated onJanuary 6, 2023 at 3:00 PM PST

    The emerging deal Kevin McCarthy is discussing to make him speaker of the House could make agreements on new defense spending impossible next year, at a time when the US is intent on backing Ukraine against the Russian invasion and growing more wary of China’s stepped up aggression toward Taiwan.

    Part of the agreement being discussed would be to cap fiscal year 2024 discretionary spending across government at 2022 levels, according to three people familiar with the discussions. National defense spending, which primarily funds the Pentagon, was about $782 billion in fiscal 2022 and rose $75 billion to $857 billion in fiscal 2023.

    Lawmakers would have to contend with a $130 billion cut to discretionary spending, including a potential $75 billion cut to national security, if not more, as defense hawks want to increase the budget above this year’s levels.

    House Begins Voting on Speaker for Fourth Day
    Shares of defense contractors declined on the news. Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. erased gains and were down more than 1% as of 12:17 p.m. in New York, while Raytheon Technologies Corp. pared its advance to trade up 1.2%.

    The deal that McCarthy has agreed to would have the House commit to passing bills that would cap all discretionary spending at fiscal year 2022 levels, meaning roughly $1.47 trillion.

    His team is working to fill in members of the Republican caucus on what that could mean: If such a budget resolution is passed, lawmakers could divide that anyway they like, with a defense cut, or with a defense increase with cuts in other discretionary spending. A GOP aide said that the Appropriations Committee has no intention to cut defense spending.

    Even so, adhering to a total discretionary cap could lead to chaos and unpredictability since House Democrats and the Senate would not support anything that would significantly hobble domestic spending, leaving two possibilities: A cut in defense, but more likely that the US government being funded through continuing resolutions for a long time, handicapping the Pentagon.

    Slashing defense won’t sit well with most GOP defense hawks on the Armed Services and Appropriations panels, who for years have pushed for major increases in national security. Those lawmakers such as Michael McCaul of Texas and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin have so far backed McCarthy. It would also need to get signoff from Democrats and the Senate.

    “If report of this deal are accurate, it doesn’t reflect the will of the party or the will of Americans and imperils our national security,” said Roger Zakheim, the Washington director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute and former general counsel on the House Armed Services Committee.

    Indeed, one person familiar with the matter said the issue came up on a call McCarthy had with Republicans Friday and that defense hawks were concerned about it.

    The 2023 spending boost underscored bipartisan concerns about rising inflation, strategic competition with China and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was also the only way to receive Republican support for the annual defense authorization bill and the omnibus spending bill containing the Pentagon’s budget as well.

    “China and Russia are watching,” former Republican Representative Liz Cheney wrote in a tweet that included a link to the Bloomberg article. “If ⁦@GOPLeader agreed to weaken our national defense for his own personal gain, that will be his legacy, and our nation will suffer.”

    Some holdouts against McCarthy such as Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida are also fierce opponents of continued military assistance for Ukraine, and have threatened to try to block additional aid. Later Friday, the Biden administration was set to announce a new package of assistance including about 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, for Ukraine’s military.

    — With assistance by Erik Wasson

  11. raven says

    Belarus has no future as independent country – Kyiv Defense Commander

    That seems about right. Belarus is probably past the point of no return in terms of being absorbed by Russia.
    Their own government is now trying to eliminate their own language. And Belarus is occupied by large numbers of the Russian army.
    At 10 million people, they aren’t really in any position to resist the Russians.

    What happened to Belarus is what will happen to Ukraine, if Ukraine loses.

    Belarus has no future as independent country – Kyiv Defense Commander

    Ukrainian multimedia platform for broadcasting
    Saturday, 07 January 2023, 17:59

    Belarus has no future as independent country – Kyiv Defense Commander 07.01.2023 16:40

    Currently, Belarus is being occupied by the Russian forces, which are stationed on its training grounds, most likely for a long time, and there will be no future for Belarus as an independent state.
    That’s according to Oleksandr Pavliuk, Commander of Kyiv Defense Forces, who spoke in an interview with Suspilne, Ukrinform reports.

    “Belarus is being occupied by military forces that are stationed at training grounds, most likely for a long time. And there will be no future for Belarus as an independent country,” he said.

    Pavliuk expressed confidence that the leadership of Belarus can be held accountable for participating in the aggression against Ukraine – as an active accomplice in this full-scale war.

    Separately, the commander specified that Ukraine has an eternal enemy, the Russian Federation, and that as long as this country exists, Ukraine will have no peace.

    Read also: Commander on possible offensive on Kyiv: Defense forces not to allow enemy to go beyond Belarusian border
    “Ukrainians have fury, first of all. Second, we are fighting for our own land. Third, we enjoy the support of the world. Weapons are coming, we are not alone. Most European countries have already understood the essence of this war. Russia is under sanctions. It became a rogue country. This is an important support for us. The fate of Ukraine is decided not only on the front lines, but also on a strategic scale,” the official said.

    He said that conditions are being imposed on Russia in which it will not be able to maintain its forces in the near future.

    According to the commander, there is currently an understanding that the only chance to end the war is to advance to the Ukrainian borders as of 1991. In his opinion, it is impossible to give Russia a chance to have some rest, otherwise a year or two will pass before another war will be unleashed.

    “In order to advance to the borders of 1991, we need equipment and weapons. The number depends on the capabilities of our partners. Some countries do not have the potential that we need. We need the efforts of the entire international community. Countries will not disarm. We are given the surplus that can be offered. We are training our people, but there is not enough equipment,” said Pavliuk.

    The commander believes that in order to respond to Russia massively, weapons are needed.

    Read also: Several trains carrying Russian military equipment, soldiers arrive in Belarus Friday
    “But our partners do have an understanding that, if Russia is given a chance to win, the European principles of democracy will be leveled. Russia will not stop on Ukraine. The Baltic states and Poland will be their next targets. Everyone understands that. While we are a barrier between the civilized world and the horde that wants to redistribute the world,” the official said.

    As reported, on January 5, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated Ukraine believes Russia can use the territory of Belarus for the next invasion, and therefore is carefully monitoring the situation, bracing for a possible assault.

  12. raven says

    Human gene linked to bigger brains was born from seemingly useless DNA
    But some protein genes can also arise from stretches of the genome that once encoded aimless strands of RNA instead. How new protein genes surface this way has been a mystery, however.
    That isn’t quite true although it is close.
    We do know how one de novo gene, the corn T cytoplasmic sterility gene was evolved, since it was very recently. It is pieced together from a variety of sources.

    Human gene linked to bigger brains was born from seemingly useless DNA

    Human gene linked to bigger brains was born from seemingly useless DNA
    Researchers discover how DNA sequences must mutate to free their RNA to make proteins

    Scientists have traced the birth of dozens of human-specific genes—including some that may have expanded our brains beyond the size of other primates.J
    Biologists have long known that new protein-coding genes can arise through the duplication and modification of existing ones. But some protein genes can also arise from stretches of the genome that once encoded aimless strands of RNA instead. How new protein genes surface this way has been a mystery, however.

    Now, a study identifies mutations that transform seemingly useless DNA sequences into potential genes by endowing their encoded RNA with the skill to escape the cell nucleus—a critical step toward becoming translated into a protein. The study’s authors highlight 74 human protein genes that appear to have arisen in this de novo way—more than half of which emerged after the human lineage branched off from chimpanzees. Some of these newcomer genes may have played a role in the evolution of our relatively large and complex brains. When added to mice, one made the rodent brains grow bigger and more humanlike, the authors report this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

    “This work is a big advance,” says Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Pittsburgh, who was not involved with the research. It “suggests that de novo gene birth may have played a role in human brain evolution.”

    Although some genes encode RNAs that have structural or regulatory purposes themselves, those that encode proteins instead create an intermediary RNA. Made in the nucleus like other RNAs, these messenger RNAs (mRNAs) exit into the cytoplasm and travel to organelles called ribosomes to tell them how to build the gene’s proteins.

    A decade ago, Chuan-Yun Li, an evolutionary biologist at Peking University, and colleagues discovered that some human protein genes bore a striking resemblance to DNA sequences in rhesus monkeys that got transcribed into long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), which didn’t make proteins or have any other apparent purpose. Li couldn’t figure out what it had taken for those stretches of monkey DNA to become true protein-coding genes in humans.

    A clue emerged when Li’s postdoc, Ni A. An, discovered that many lncRNAs have a hard time exiting the nucleus. The researchers used a sophisticated computer program to identify differences between protein-coding genes whose mRNA got out of the nucleus and the DNA sequences that produced RNAs that did not. The program homed in on stretches of DNA known as U1 elements, which when transcribed into RNA make the strand too sticky to make a clean escape. In protein-coding genes, these elements have mutations that make the RNA less sticky. So, for an lncRNA to escape the nucleus and give its instructions to a ribosome, the parental DNA must acquire those key U1 mutations or somehow make that transcribed section get cut out of the RNA strands altogether.

    “This makes perfect sense because for an RNA to be translated, it needs to go the cytoplasm [where ribosomes are found] first,” says Maria Del Mar Albà, an evolutionary biologist at Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute.

    An illustration comparing the brain size of a macaque and human
    Newly formed genes helped make the human brain much bigger than the macaque brain.EVAN OTO/SCIENCE SOURCE
    Li’s team scoured the human and chimpanzee genomes for de novo protein-coding genes that had lncRNA counterparts in rhesus monkeys, as well as the crucial U1 element mutations needed to exit the nucleus. Eventually they came up with 45 exclusively human genes and 29 genes shared by humans and chimps that fit the bill. Next, the researchers homed in on nine of these protein genes that are active in the human brain to see whether they could learn what each was doing. Li’s collaborator Baoyang Hu, a neuroscientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Zoology, grew clumps of human brain tissue called cortical organoids with and without each of these genes and identified two that made the organoids grow slightly bigger than normal.

    When Hu introduced one of these genes into mice, their brains also grew larger than normal and developed a bigger cortex, the wrinkly outer layer of the mammalian brain that in humans is responsible for high-level functions such as reasoning and language. The second gene did likewise in mice, and also caused the animals’ brains to develop more humanlike ridges and grooves. Those mice performed better on tests of cognitive function and memory than mice lacking this gene, the team says it will report soon in Advanced Science.

    Overall, the findings suggest these de novo human genes “may have a role in brain development and may have been a driver of cognition during the evolution of humans,” says Erich Bornberg-Bauer, an evolutionary biophysicist at the University of Münster.

    Manyuan Long, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, calls the new study “a breakthrough in the understanding of the molecular evolutionary processes that generate [new] genes.” In an indication of how widespread those processes may be, Long’s group has found that most of the recognizable de novo genes in rice were once lncRNAs, and that lncRNAs also helped form new genes in bamboo. But he is more cautious about interpreting the role of de novo genes in brain evolution. Organoids are far simpler tissues than the brain itself, he notes, and human and mouse brains have evolved along very different paths.

    Xiaohua Shen, a molecular biologist at the Tsinghua University School of Medicine, adds that she wishes the authors had studied a larger sample of mice to be sure the differences in brain size from the gene additions couldn’t be explained by natural variation.

    The work suggests profoundly influential de novo genes might arise through subtle changes in their DNA sequence, Carvunis says, but there’s still much to be learned about how escaped lncRNAs eventually become true genes. “There are a lot of barriers to gene birth,” she says. “I hope this work will contribute to inspiring more research towards understanding what these barriers are and how emerging genes can overcome them.”

  13. says

    Capitol tour guides have been told to avoid mentioning the Jan. 6 coup attempt

    If you book a tour of the United States Capitol, there is one major historic event that you absolutely won’t be hearing about from your tour guides. The Washington Post reports that there is no mention of the Jan. 6, 2021 coup attempt during Capitol tours, in the Visitor Center’s exhibition hall, or in the pre-tour introductory film shown to tourists. It’s been two years, and … nope. Nothing.

    […] The Post reports that tour guides are “told to only refer to Jan. 6 if questioned on a tour.” In a rather ominous-sounding quote, Visitor Center officials claim this is “is in keeping with our history of deferring to congressional authorities on most issues.” And an anonymous Visitor Center official confirms that guides are instructed to “avoid bringing up Jan. 6, current events and any legislation under consideration by Congress.”

    […] There’s certainly a case to be made that the Jan. 6 coup attempt is still a “current event,” in that it’s not over yet and seemingly won’t be over for a good long while yet. The top architects of the attempt to block Congress from certifying a Republican election loss are all still walking free, with few signs that any are in any particular legal danger. The top backers of the conspiracy inside Congress aren’t just still walking the halls, they’re still blocking evidence collection and, currently, are engaged in a public battle to demand that the Republican Party grant them yet more powers not commensurate with their ranks.

    So then, point taken. If Capitol tour guides are told to avoid current events, it might be a bit dodgy to mention the reason for certain renovations in the building are because Oath Keeper Biff Treasonboy and a dozen of his closest friends put a dent in that wall or shattered the woodwork around this window during their attempts to capture or kill the former vice president.

    “And this is where Mr. Ohio Turdboy defecated on a chair in order to express his opposition to the peaceful transfer of power,” no tour guide can be expected to intone while leading a gaggle of families through Capitol halls.” And here is where Sen. Josh Hawley sprinted down the corridor like a newborn faun.”

    It’s the actually-official official answer that’s the more worrying one. A statement that avoiding mention of the Jan. 6 coup is “in keeping with our history of deferring to congressional authorities on most issues” implies that there’s “deferring” being done here. It suggests that either the decision to avoid mention of the violence on Jan. 6 is because Capitol Visitor Center officials consulted with “congressional authorities” about what they could say, or they didn’t consult with “congressional authorities” because they knew damn well what the answer would be before they asked.

    […] Republicans are in control of the House. And that means that if the Visitor Center doesn’t want to be closed indefinitely in a hastily arranged “budget cut,” tour guides will have to keep their mouths shut when it comes to mentioning any of the violence that Team Violent Sedition has been insisting never happened, or only happened because of “antifa,” or was an expression of great and wondrous conservative patriotism that absolutely must not be questioned, all hail President Golfcheat, and so forth. […]

  14. says

    The Daily Show on Why Kevin McCarthy Capitulated to Become Squeaker of the House. It’s Humiliating.

    Can only bang gavel on his own crotch

    Build the border wall and he has to be on the other side of it.

    Install those Wild West saloon doors on Capitol to make future insurrections easier.

    Subpoena Hunter Biden’s penis.

    Once a year, Lauren Boebert can hunt him for sport.

    First Friday of the month will be “Take Your Daughter to Matt Gaetz’s Office Day.”

    Many cartoons available at the link.

  15. says

    Ukraine update: Free the leopards! Western tanks could be headed for Ukraine in serious numbers

    For weeks now, Daily Kos has been cheering the idea of sending Ukraine some German-made Leopard 2 tanks. These are large tanks in the same class as the U.S. Abrams, however they have the advantage of being in use by Ukraine’s neighbors, so there are repair facilities and spare parts right across the border in Poland. This tank has been widely used across NATO and some nations even have stockpiles of these tanks standing idle.

    Poland was negotiating to send some Leopards to Ukraine early in the invasion, but Germany stepped in the quash the idea of running their tanks up against the Russian force. However, now that France is sending the AMX-10 RC, the U.S. is sending the Bradley fighting vehicle, and Germany itself has promised to send its Marder fighting vehicle, the dam seems to have broken open.

    Ukraine has been asking for Western tanks. Everyone can see that they need Western tanks, and on Friday, Finland became the first to apparently offer Ukraine some of its Leopards. Demark wasn’t far behind. Poland also seems to have its hand up again. However it’s still unclear if NATO, and Germany in particular, are going to let the leopards prowl.

    Denmark has a reported 44 Leopard 2 tanks. Finland has over 200. However, many of the tanks in both countries have been in storage for years—that means leaking seals, crumbling wiring, and serious overhauls needed if great care wasn’t taken in prepping the tanks for storage. Some of the images of those Finnish tanks show them sitting in a field. Kind of like how the U.S. puts old gear out to pasture in a hot, dry desert. Except that Finnish fields are neither hot nor dry. No one should expect tanks that have been sitting there weathering through winter snows and summer rains in an open field to be joining the fight any time soon. Some of them won’t be joining at all. [video at the link]

    A pair of Finnish politicians have launched a “Free the Leopards!” campaign through which they hope to embarrass Germany enough to let its big cats go. To do so, they’re arguing that it’s time to stop having a separate stack of military vehicles for every NATO member and move to a pooled resource where tanks could be moved to where they are needed—and presumably not left rotting in a field when a particular nation doesn’t need them at the moment.

    “If we can give a political signal of the larger readiness to pool resource that would negate the argument against providing tanks to Ukraine, and instead be sure it would make a significant difference,” said Green Party MP Atte Harjanne.

    Assuming they get the go ahead, the tanks will have to be hauled in for retrofitting, updating, and general maintenance. Ukrainian soldiers will also need to be trained as this tank—unlike everything in Ukraine’s MBT arsenal at the moment—isn’t just a T-64 by another name.

    Updated and operational Leopards might come sooner from Poland, which is reportedly once again considering driving some of its 64-tonne tanks to the border at Lviv. The U.S. has already agreed to send Poland a new stock of Abrams, making the Leopards available to lend. Poland has already sent Ukraine an astounding 240 updated Soviet-designed tanks for the fight against Russia. They are certainly not concerned about what Vladimir Putin thinks, and they have over 200 Leopards in active service. However, there are two obstacles: Poland is unlikely to surrender a large number of Leopards until they get those Abrams to replace them, and Germany still has not given their nod.

    And some Polish politicians are pushing for the same kind of “shared tank pool” that Finland and Demark have been advocating. [Tweet and image at the link]

    That’s highly unlikely to happen overnight. Expect NATO to draw and erase several imaginary lines before getting there.

    Overall, there are good indications that Ukraine is going to get some sorely-needed Leopard 2 tanks. However, don’t expect them to arrive in time to be part of the battle for Svatove or Kreminna. Just hope they make it time to demonstrate a little of their winter prowess. [Tweet and video at the link: “Look at those Leopards fling over the snow.”]

    More updates from Ukraine coming soon.

  16. says

    Followup to comment 20.

    More Ukrainian updates:

    On Thursday there were reports that Russia had broken through positions at Bakhmutske and pushed Ukrainian forces back in parts of Soledar. By Friday, Russia was claiming to have taken all of Soledar. The frequency of such claims over the last few months has been so high that it was easy to ignore these Telegram channel brags at first, but over the last day Ukrainian sources have confirmed some of what Russian sources had been claiming. [video at the link in comment 20]

    Russia has reportedly pushed Ukraine completely out of the small suburb of Bakhmutske. In Soledar itself, they have neither taken the town completely, nor advanced as far as Russian sources claimed on Friday. As of Saturday morning, Ukrainian forces still held the area around the salt mine museum in the center of the town, and all of Soledar to the north and west. However, Russian forces had pushed to the area just east of the salt mine and fighting was going on in and around the large complex of buildings.

    South of Soledar, Ukraine reports repelling Russian attacks on both Pidhorodne and Krasna Hora. Reaching these positions would mean Russian forces crossed a large area of open fields; a surprising development, as those fields had been a no man’s land for months.

    One other thing that’s more than a little amazing is happening in the area this morning: Multiple sources are reporting that the Ukrainian Air Force is flying sorties over the area around Bakhmut, bombing Russian positions. That seems like both an incredible risk and an unmatched demonstration of just how incapable Russia has been when it comes to keeping Ukraine out of the skies. [Tweet and video at the link]

    According to publications of the Ukrainian military, Russian tactics in this advance haven’t changed—masses of people moving forward under fire while Ukrainian forces inflict maximum casualties at every step. However, the size of the assault has “ sometimes forced [Ukrainian forces] to change their positions.” Fierce fighting in the area continues after a reported ten Russian attempts to take central Soledar have been repulsed.

    Despite reports from the Ukrainian MOD that an attack on Pidhorodne had been repulsed, other Ukrainian sources indicated that Russian troops had entered the small town and occupied locations along the easternmost streets. [map at the link]

    Should Russia take Soledar, it would not mean that Bakhmut was immediately isolated, or that Ukraine would be forced to withdraw from the whole area. However, it would not be a trivial change. Ukraine would lose control of the north-south rail line and would need to establish new defensive positions west of that line if they didn’t want Russia to encircle the city.

    The fight currently going on north of Bakhmut is a serious push by Russia. […] this assault would seem to indicate the threat of a real, sizable Russian advance still exists. On the other hand, this could be a last-gasp, throw-everything-at-them attempt to move the needle around Bakhmut. Should whats left of Russian forces come tumbling back across those kilometers of fields in the next two days, chased by artillery as they run, it really could signal the end of Russia’s apparently endless series of attacks in this area. Or not.

    It’s worth noting that Russia launched this assault began during the period Vladimir Putin claimed would be a “Christmas ceasefire.” Because he’s just the kind of guy who thinks that declaring peace then attacking is a clever strategy.

    Take the “sensitive image” message on this next one seriously. After months of failed assaults, Russia has sown a terrible crop in the fields outside Bakhmut. [Images at the link]

    As kos has noted, all of Ukraine is now just one front. That’s certainly true in the east, where Bakhmut is less than 50km south of Kreminna. Had Ukraine broken through at Svatove or Kreminna before now, it’s almost certain the attack north of Bakhmut would not be happening.

    But it’s not as if Ukraine is just sitting there, waiting on Western tanks or some other wonder weapon. On Russian Telegram channels, reports say that the fiercest fighting underway isn’t north of Bakhmut. It’s south of Kreminna, where Ukrainian forces are still advancing through that forest / tree farm. The daily assessment by the UK Defense Ministry notes that Russia considers what’s happening at Kreminna as a direct threat to their plans at Bakhmut. That’s meant the redirection of some T-90M tanks to the Kreminna area in the last week. At least one of those T-90Ms has been destroyed, but this morning there are videos showing a pair of the tanks taking out a Ukrainian T-72 along a highway likely just west of Kreminna. At the same time, there are reports that Russia has lost positions on the southwest edge of the city, but those same reports insist Russia is fighting to get this area back and is not withdrawing from the city.

    Right now, I don’t have an updated map, because I don’t know where to draw the lines. But just as with Soledar, we may have some new reports from Kreminna by the end of the day.

    There are multiple reports this morning that Russia is considering blowing up a dam near Svatove to slow the Ukrainian advance. This may seem familiar from similar stories about possibly blowing the dam near Nova Kakhovka. However, that didn’t happen. It was only after Ukraine had secured Kherson that we learned that … Russia had been seriously considering blowing up the dam near Nova Kakhovka.

  17. says

    We’ve seen some stupid, stupid shit together over the years, you and I, but this week…hoo boy. The Republican Party simply will not stop stabbing itself in the brain. […]

    After squandering the most favorable midterm political environment any of them are likely to see, Republicans were eager to turn the page, to move on from the perverts n’ weirdos, but that’s not how it works, campers; you’re a MAGA party now, and for every Doug Mastriano or Herschel Walker you shove back under the bed, there’re ten Chip Roys looking to claw their way into the spotlight. There will always be another pervert. There will always be another weirdo. This is the life you asked for.

    […] Kevin’s terrible toddler caucus busted out of the nursery and clamped a vise around his nuts, and who could’ve seen that coming except everybody? It’s like running a day care center where you feed the kids nothing but Pixy Stix and espresso […]

    I’m drafting this after ballot #13, as Kevin parades around with his I Lost Slightly Less Humiliatingly This Time participation trophy […] I’m sure history will view this week’s drastic lowering of already low expectations as a savvy move on his part. […]

    Not sure how much of the store is left for ol’ Kev to give away at this point, but I have faith in his ability to find creative new ways to debase himself. […] a world-class capitulator. This season of Debt Ceiling Chicken is gonna be lit.

    […] Let me add, George Santos waddling around in the background, ducking reporters, voting McCarthy, getting his finger stuck in his ear every couple hours…it’s just an exquisite detail. My compliments, this is one lovingly crafted clusterfuck.

    I also thought it was a nice touch when the boondoggle lasted long enough to barrel into America’s insurrectiversary, in case the lessons about meddling with forces you can’t hope to control were still too subtle for anybody. […]

    Anyway, as much fun as it is watching Kevin McCarthy lose, one can endure just so many pointless floor votes before the thrill of waiting to see what Andy Ogles will do wears off. Luckily, this train wreck triggered many a MAGA meltdown, as the party of deranged idiots struggled to come to grips with the consequences of a being a party of deranged idiots.

    Even Ben Shapiro was forced to acknowledge the “general perception that Republicans are incompetent and foolish.”Yeah, Ben, you lower the standards a little at a time, until one day you wake up to a headline about Ali Alexander calling Marjorie Taylor Greene a “harlot,” and you realize, “wow, I’m in a political coalition with both of these people,” and I imagine the journey to “wait, are we dumbasses?” is fairly short from there.

    […] It’s kind of adorable, actually, watching Sean Hannity, cast as the stodgy, finger-wagging institutionalist, berate Lauren Boebert until she runs away screaming “I learned it by watching you!!!” […]

    Hope you caught the fantastic-if-chilling profile in the Failing New York Times of Elise Stefanik, who regrets she has but one soul to sell in her quest for power for its own sake. Every fascist movement needs a few hollow climbers to help the psychos find the light switches and fill out the paperwork. A few amoral enablers. A few Elise Stefaniks, if you will.

    […] Fun little details keep trickling out of the January 6th committee’s report…didja see where Off-Brand Orbán [Trump] somehow found time, mid-coup, to attempt to trademark the phrase “rigged election?” He’s like a truffle pig, only what he roots out, unerringly, in any situation, is the cheapest possible swindle. It’s breathtaking, in a way.

    […] Which brings us to manosphere icon Andrew Tate, whose famous fleet of luxury cars got seized by Romanian authoritiesin their sex-trafficking investigation. The cars achieved global notoriety recently, when Tate boasted of their mighty emissions on the internet, to a 19-year-old girl, which is the sort of thing only the manliest men do.

    What else, what ellllllllllse…oh, here’s a nifty headline: 2 Men Accidentally Set Themselves On Fire Trying to Burn Down an Immigration Center. That’s a solid little play-within-a-play for this week, innit? Reinforces several key themes. […]


  18. says

    When 14-year-old Kyonna Robinson saw her 12-year-old sister in a fight at their local Staten Island bus stop, her first instinct was to jump in and help her. Within minutes, according to the New York Daily News, Officer Nicholas Scalzo arrived on the scene—and that’s apparently when things got dangerous.

    “It happened so quick, I couldn’t even think straight,” Robinson told the Daily News. “I just thought they were going to break up the fight and take us to the precinct.”

    Video of the brutal eight-second-long beating has gone viral on social media, with many asking why Scalzo behaved so irrationally. [video available at the link]

    Christy Lou, 13, told the Daily News, “He was hitting her repeatedly in the head. … I tried to grab her and pull her under me. He ended up hitting me.”

    A police source reportedly said that Scalzo was punching in self-defense and to “gain compliance.”

    “The cops came and they were supposed to be breaking it up, but obviously me and a cop got into a fight,” Robinson explained. […]

    Scalzo, a 14-year veteran in the 121st Precinct, struck Robinson at least nine times, the video shows.

    NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Julian Phillips said in a statement that Robinson was obstructing the arrest when she attempted to stop Scalzo from putting handcuffs on her younger sister.

    Robinson and her younger sister were both arrested and charged with assault, the Daily News reports, and later taken to the hospital.

    Taneesha Robinson, the girl’s mother, says she wasn’t informed about her daughter’s whereabouts for several hours. […]

    It wasn’t until they got home and she saw the video that she learned of the beating by the officer. […]

    Robinson said she thought her daughters were at the hospital due to Kyonna’s asthma.

    New York Mayor Eric Adams praised Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell for swiftly suspending Scalzo.

    During an unrelated press conference, Adams said he wasn’t “pleased” with the video, but despite the brutality by the officer, New Yorkers should continue to trust law enforcement.

    “You could be the staunchest critic of a police officer, but you know three numbers in this city: 911,” he said. “You are happy when they pull up, you are happy to see them late at night, you’re happy if your child is out somewhere knowing that they are on the street.”

    The New York Times reports that Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, the city police officers’ union, has demanded further investigation.

    “The police officers involved are entitled to due process, not summary judgment based on a few seconds of video,” Lynch said.

    Scalzo’s case is being investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, per the Daily News.


  19. says

    Jeffries’ first speech as House Democratic Leader was pure poetry. My favorite part: “House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy. Benevolence over bigotry. The Constitution over the cult. Democracy over demagogues. Economic opportunity over extremism. Freedom over fascism, Governing over gaslighting. Hopefulness over hatred. Inclusion over isolation, Justice over judicial overreach. Knowledge over kangaroo courts, Liberty over limitation. Maturity over Mar-a-Lago. Normalcy over negativity. Opportunity over obstruction, People over politics. Quality of life issues over QAnon. Reason over racism. Substance over slander. Triumph over tyranny. Understanding over ugliness. Voting rights over voter suppression. Working families over the well connected. Xenia over xenophobia. “Yes, we can” over “you can’t do it,” and zealous representation over zero sum confrontation.” [video at the link]



  20. says

    Wall Street Journal:

    […] With one month remaining in 2022 (in terms of available data), inflation in the second half of the year has run vastly lower than in the first half. In fact — and this is astonishing — it’s almost back down to the Federal Reserve’s 2% target. Even more astonishing, hardly anyone seems to have noticed. […]

    NBC News:

    U.S. stocks advanced Friday after the December jobs report and an economic activity survey showed signs that inflation may be cooling, signaling that the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes are having their intended effect.

  21. says

    Associated Press:

    President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law a bill aimed at easing the cost for prisoners to call family and friends. The legislation clarifies that the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates interstate and international communications through cable, radio, television, satellite and wire, can set limits for fees on audio and video calls inside corrections facilities.

    Good news.

  22. says

    Associated Press:

    Former national security adviser Michael Flynn had his Twitter account reinstated on Friday as the United States marked the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

  23. says

    Canada and the U.S. both face labor shortages. One country is increasing immigration.

    Canada’s government plans to accept 1.45 million immigrants by 2025, many with badly needed job skills. In the U.S., immigration legislation is stalled.

    In as little as a decade, there will be one retiree for every two workers in Canada. To address the looming labor shortage, Canada’s government announced a new goal in November to accept 1.45 million immigrants by 2025, with 60 percent trained in health care and other urgently needed job skills.

    Meanwhile, in the U.S., similar immigration legislation has stalled as Republicans block Democratic efforts to spur an influx of skilled workers until more is done to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

    While the U.S. has almost 10 times as many people as Canada, the U.S. brought in the same number — about 275,000 — of legal, employment-based immigrants in fiscal year 2022 as Canada now plans to bring in each year over the next three years, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and drafters of Canada’s new policy.

    In the last session of the U.S. Congress, which ended in December, bills to increase the number of foreign-born entrepreneurs, high-skilled workers, microchip manufacturers and farm workers all failed to get enough votes to become law. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, the only one to make it out of House of Representatives, was opposed by 30 Republicans and one Democrat. It has still not been brought to a vote in the Senate.

    At the same time, Canada’s two biggest national political parties, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberals and the opposition Conservatives, both describe themselves as pro-immigration. Trudeau’s new immigration goal, which is focused not only on opening more pathways to refugees and low-skilled workers, but also attracting highly educated workers in sectors like health care and technology, enjoys broad-based support. […]

  24. says

    Mad in America:

    “Misleading Ads Fueled Rapid Growth of Online Mental Health Companies”:

    From The Wall Street Journal: “In an advertisement on Facebook and Instagram, a middle-aged man holding a dumbbell says testosterone ‘literally changed my life,’ restoring his energy and happiness.

    What the October ad from telehealth startup Hone Health doesn’t say is that the unidentified man is an actor who has never used the prescription drug. It doesn’t mention that testosterone is approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for men with specific disorders and that among its risks are heart attacks and stroke.

    Similar telehealth companies are flooding TikTok, Instagram and other platforms with ads that don’t conform to longtime standards governing the marketing of prescription drugs and healthcare treatments. They feature actors posing as customers, tout benefits of drugs with no mention of side effects and promote medications for uses not approved by the FDA.

    Since the pandemic, online advertising has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to telehealth companies such as Cerebral Inc. and Done Global Inc. for treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and other ‘medical’ conditions. Some employees and patients have said their marketing practices contributed to the abuse of controlled substances.

    In a four-week period spanning October and November, about 20 companies ran more than 2,100 ads on Facebook and Instagram that described benefits of prescription drugs without citing risks, promoted drugs for unapproved uses or featured testimonials without disclosing whether they came from actors or company employees, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of ads collected by the nonprofit Algorithmic Transparency Institute from Meta Platforms Inc.’s ad library.

    Those drugs included controlled substances, such as ketamine and testosterone, which are tightly regulated by the federal government due to their potential for abuse, and medications that normally carry boxed warnings, among the most serious types of safety warnings mandated by the FDA.

    In the two years since the government expanded the scope of medical services allowed via video calls, telehealth companies have been operating largely outside advertising rules that govern drugmakers, a gray area subject to little government oversight or guidance. Instead, the main gatekeepers exercising the power to review or remove telehealth advertising are the social-media giants paid to run the ads.”

    WSJ link at the link. I recommended the 4-part WSJ podcast series about Cerebral in the previous chapter. I remain gobsmacked.

    “Abortion Restrictions Increase Suicide Rates for Women”:

    JAMA Psychiatry recently published a study investigating the relationship between state-level access to reproductive care and suicide in the United States.

    Jonathan Zandberg and his team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found an association between the enforcement of TRAP (Target Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws and higher suicide rates. They found that suicide rates in reproductive-age women increased by 5.8% following abortion restrictions by comparing state-level suicide rates with the TRAP laws index, a tool for measuring states’ yearly restrictions to reproductive health….

    Discussion of the methods and limitations of the study at the link.

  25. says

    Lynna @ #27, the two things I’m still laughing about from the previous chapter are Murz’s “Pew pew pew! Hooray!” and Flynn’s “Hell, no. It’s freezing.”

  26. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Ukrainian border guards repel Russian attack near Bakhmut.

    Ukrainian border guards repelled the advance of Russian troops near Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, killing the unit’s commander, Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service reported on Jan. 7.

  27. Reginald Selkirk says

    Musk says he can’t get fair trial in California, wants Texas

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to shift a trial in a shareholder lawsuit out of San Francisco because he says negative local media coverage has biased potential jurors against him.
    Instead, in a filing submitted late Friday, Musk’s lawyers argue that the trial should be moved to a federal court in western Texas, which includes the state capital of Austin. Musk relocated his electric car company, Tesla, to Austin in late 2021…
    The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk’s tweets in August 2018 when he said he had sufficient financing to take Tesla private at $420 a share, an announcement that caused heavy volatility in Tesla’s share price.

  28. says

    Good news:

    Fulfilling a campaign promise, Barnstable County’s new sheriff officially terminated a widely criticized federal immigration enforcement agreement that allows local law enforcement to cosplay as mass deportation agents. Sheriff Donna Buckley ended the department’s 287(g) agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday, her first day in office.

    It’s a big fucking deal, folks: Not only was Barnstable County’s contract the final such agreement between ICE and a sheriff’s office in Massachusetts, it was the last one to be held by a sheriff’s office in all of New England. Buckley, who defeated her Republican law enforcement opponent this past November, terminated the policy surrounded by civil rights advocates who had sued over the contract last year.

    “This program has not proven to keep us safer and causes many living on Cape Cod to live in fear,” Buckley said in remarks reported by The Herald News. “That fear ends today.”

    “We applaud Sheriff Buckley for ending this unlawful agreement,” Oren Sellstrom, litigation director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “287(g) agreements have long been maligned, locally and nationally, as a significant source of fear for immigrant communities, and as a drain on state resources.”

    Lawyers for Civil Rights and Rights Behind Bars had previously sued over the policy on behalf of taxpayers, asking whether the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office even had the authority to enter into a 287(g) agreement with ICE in the first place. Lawsuits and public pressure have helped bring an end to the agreements in the region. “As recently as 2021, there were three such agreements, but all have now been terminated as a result of lawsuits by LCR and RBB and related advocacy,” the statement said.

    Buckley had unapologetically campaigned on ending this agreement if she won, saying colluding with ICE “is not the role of the Barnstable County sheriff,” and that the agreement “does not make Barnstable County safer.” There’s plenty of evidence that 287(g) agreements have actually only given shitty sheriffs the green light to be even shittier. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a report last year that ICE signed an agreement with a Maryland sheriff who threatened to shoot migrants moving to Frederick County. But it’s immigrants who we’re supposed to fear, right?

    [Not good news] “Across the country, 287(g) agreements turn local police and sheriffs into de facto ICE agents,” ACLU of Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose told The Herald News. “The result is that even the most minor interactions with local law enforcement can lead to detention, deportation, and family separation.” […]


  29. raven says

    Heart-disease risk soars after COVID — even with a mild case.

    It nearly doubles for heart failure at 1 year.
    Infection with Covid-19 virus is also an independent risk factor.

    We already knew that heart involvement with Covid-19 virus infections is common.
    What is new here, is that they used 150,000 patients and quantified the risk levels.

    Heart-disease risk soars after COVID — even with a mild case

    Heart-disease risk soars after COVID — even with a mild case
    Massive study shows a long-term, substantial rise in risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, after a SARS-CoV-2 infection.
    Saima May Sidik
    The risk of 20 diseases of the heart and blood vessels is high for at least a year after a COVID-19 diagnosis.Credit: Living Art Enterprises/Science Photo Library

    The risk of 20 diseases of the heart and blood vessels is high for at least a year after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
    Even a mild case of COVID-19 can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular problems for at least a year after diagnosis, a new study1 shows. Researchers found that rates of many conditions, such as heart failure and stroke, were substantially higher in people who had recovered from COVID-19 than in similar people who hadn’t had the disease.

    What’s more, the risk was elevated even for those who were under 65 years of age and lacked risk factors, such as obesity or diabetes.

    “It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, it doesn’t matter if you smoked, or you didn’t,” says study co-author Ziyad Al-Aly at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and the chief of research and development for the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System. “The risk was there.”

    Al-Aly and his colleagues based their research on an extensive health-record database curated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The researchers compared more than 150,000 veterans who survived for at least 30 days after contracting COVID-19 with two groups of uninfected people: a group of more than five million people who used the VA medical system during the pandemic, and a similarly sized group that used the system in 2017, before SARS-CoV-2 was circulating.

    Troubled hearts
    People who had recovered from COVID-19 showed stark increases in 20 cardiovascular problems over the year after infection. For example, they were 52% more likely to have had a stroke than the contemporary control group, meaning that, out of every 1,000 people studied, there were around 4 more people in the COVID-19 group than in the control group who experienced stroke.

    The risk of heart failure increased by 72%, or around 12 more people in the COVID-19 group per 1,000 studied. Hospitalization increased the likelihood of future cardiovascular complications, but even people who avoided hospitalization were at higher risk for many conditions.

    “I am actually surprised by these findings that cardiovascular complications of COVID can last so long,” Hossein Ardehali, a cardiologist at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, wrote in an e-mail to Nature. Because severe disease increased the risk of complications much more than mild disease, Ardehali wrote, “it is important that those who are not vaccinated get their vaccine immediately”.

    Ardehali cautions that the study’s observational nature comes with some limitations. For example, people in the contemporary control group weren’t tested for COVID-19, so it’s possible that some of them actually had mild infections. And because the authors considered only VA patients — a group that’s predominantly white and male — their results might not translate to all populations.

    Ardehali and Al-Aly agree that health-care providers around the world should be prepared to address an increase in cardiovascular conditions. But with high COVID-19 case counts still straining medical resources, Al-Aly worries that health authorities will delay preparing for the pandemic’s aftermath for too long. “We collectively dropped the ball on COVID,” he said. “And I feel we’re about to drop the ball on long COVID.”

    Nature 602, 560 (2022)

  30. says

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

    There has been growing concerns that Belarus – a staunch backer of Moscow – could be used as a staging post to attack Ukraine from the north after increasing military activity in the country and fresh transfer of Russian troops there, Reuters reports.

    Unofficial Telegram channels monitoring military activity in Belarus reported late on Saturday that some 1,400-1,600 Russian troops arrived from Russia into the northeastern city of Vitebsk in Belarus over the past two days. Reuters was not able to independently verify the information.

    Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday that Russia is planning a major new offensive. The Pentagon said on Friday that Vladimir Putin’s aim of seizing Ukrainian territory has not changed, even if his military continues to suffer blows….

    And from the Kyiv Independent – “ISW: Russian troops remain far from encircling Bakhmut”:

    Russia’s recent offensive in Soledar in Donetsk Oblast does not indicate an imminent encirclement of Bakhmut, contrary to Russian propagandists’ claims that Russia had taken Soledar, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update. 

    Russian sources on Jan. 7 claimed that Wagner Group, a Kremlin-controlled mercenary group, had allegedly broken through Ukrainian lines of defense in Soledar, just north of Bakhmut, and was fighting Ukrainian forces in the town. 

    Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian oligarch, Putin confidant, and former convict, also claimed that the group was about to capture the town.

    Later the Ukrainian military said it still controlled Soledar despite Russia’s violent assaults on the town. 

    According to the ISW, even the claims from Russian military bloggers that Russian forces are fighting on the outskirts of Razdolivka, about six kilometers northwest of Soledar, do not signal that Russian forces are close to being within striking distance to be able to encircle Bakhmut. 

    In order to cut Ukrainian ground lines of communication to access Bakhmut, Russian forces would have to establish control of the T0513 Siversk-Bakhmut highway, located seven kilometers west of the furthest point of confirmed Russian advances in the Soledar area, the ISW said. Russian troops would then have to reach the E40 Slovyansk-Bakhmut highway, 13 kilometers from the furthest point of confirmed Russian advance in the Soledar area. 

    Considering the recent rate of Russian gains in the area has been around a few hundred meters per day at most, it is highly unlikely that Russian forces will be able to organize themselves to push toward these lines and encircle Bakhmut, the ISW assessed. 

    At any rate, the ISW said, Ukrainian forces would still have other ground lines of communication available, so any discussion of encirclement is at this moment a moot point….

  31. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia claims it killed hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers in rocket attack

    Jan 8 (Reuters) – Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday it had killed more than 600 Ukrainian servicemen in a massive rocket strike on two buildings in eastern Ukraine temporarily housing Ukrainian forces.
    Reuters could not immediately verify the defence ministry’s assertion. There was no immediate comment on the Russian claim from Ukraine, though the mayor of Kramatorsk, the eastern Ukrainian town Russia said it had targeted, said earlier on Sunday on Facebook that nobody had been killed in an attack on various buildings in the city.

    Sounds like, “No I’m not, you are.”

  32. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘CORPORATE KINGDOM’: DeSantis-backed plan to take control of Disney’s land announced

    A plan was announced Friday to introduce a bill into the Florida Legislature that would replace Walt Disney World’s special self-governing power with a state-run board.
    The notice was posted on the website of Osceola County, which houses part of Disney World along with Orange County. Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing the effort, according to sources in his office, and the intended legislation will mandate that members of the board will be appointed by the governor, according to sources in the governor’s office…

    But remember, Republicans are in favor of ‘local control.’

  33. says

    Peter Gabriel, “Panopticom (Bright Side Mix).”

    About the song:

    …Friday 6 January, the first full moon of 2023, Peter Gabriel…revealed the first new song from his forthcoming album i/o. The track is accompanied by a cover image by the artist David Spriggs.

    Written and produced by Peter, Panopticom was recorded at Real World Studios in Wiltshire and The Beehive in London.

    ‘The first song is based on an idea I have been working on to initiate the creation of an infinitely expandable accessible data globe: The Panopticom,’ says Gabriel. ‘We are beginning to connect a like-minded group of people who might be able to bring this to life, to allow the world to see itself better and understand more of what’s really going on.’

    Musically, Panopticom drives along powered by the engine-room of long-time collaborators Tony Levin, David Rhodes and Manu Katché, underpinned by haunting electronics from Brian Eno. Additional backing vocals from Ríoghnach Connolly of The Breath. The lyric is, in part, inspired by the extraordinary work of three groups, Forensic Architecture, Bellingcat and the Gabriel co-founded pioneering human rights organisation WITNESS….

  34. says

    More re #42 – Guardian liveblog:

    A Russian rocket strike on the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk caused damage but did not destroy buildings and there were no obvious signs of casualties, a witness told Reuters on Sunday, after Russia said the attack killed 600 Ukrainian soldiers.

    The ministry said the strike was revenge for Ukraine’s New Year’s Day attack that killed at least 89 Russian soldiers at a barracks in part of the Donetsk region controlled by Moscow’s forces.

    Reuters reporters visited the two college dormitories Russia’s defence ministry said had been temporarily housing Ukrainian servicemen close to the front line of the war at the time of the overnight strike.

    Neither appeared to have been directly hit by missiles or seriously damaged. There were no obvious signs that soldiers had been living there and no sign of bodies or traces of blood.

  35. says

    Guardian – “Palestinian foreign minister says Israel has revoked his travel permit”:

    The Palestinian foreign minister says Israel has revoked his travel permit, after the hardline Israeli government announced a series of punitive steps against the Palestinians days ago.

    Riad Malki said in a statement that he was returning from the Brazilian president’s inauguration when he was informed that Israel had rescinded his travel permit, which allows top Palestinian officials to travel easily in and out of the occupied West Bank, unlike ordinary Palestinians.

    Israel’s government on Friday approved the steps to penalise the Palestinians in retaliation for them pushing the UN’s highest judicial body to give its opinion on the Israeli occupation. The decision highlights the tough line the government is already taking toward the Palestinians just days into its tenure. It comes at a time of rising violence in the occupied West Bank, with peace talks a distant memory.

    In East Jerusalem, a flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Israeli police said they broke up a meeting of Palestinian parents about their children’s education, claiming it was unlawfully funded by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Police said the operation came at the behest of the national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist with a long record of anti-Arab rhetoric and stunts who now oversees the police.

    The Palestinians condemned the revoking of Malki’s permit, saying Israel should be the one being “punished for its violations against international law”….

  36. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The ‘Yurt of Invincibility’ opens in Bucha

    Kazakhstan has set up a yurt in Bucha – an area ouside of Kyiv that suffered a massacre last March – offering a space for residents to warm up and find food.

    The Odessa Journal reports that the “Yurt of Invincibility” was supported by the citizens of Kazakhstan, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Ukraine and Sergei Nagornyak, chair of Ukraine’s group on inter-parliamentary relations with Kazakhstan.

    The newspaper reports that six such yurts are due to be set up in cities across Ukraine.

    It was previously reported that the killings in Bucha in March last year were part of a deliberate and systematic effort to ruthlessly secure a route to the capital, Kyiv.

    The “Yurt of Invincibility” will serve as a heating point for the city’s residents during the blackout.

    Photo at the link (@ #40).

    I saw this on Twitter. I believe people can also charge their devices there. Love it.

  37. says

    Daniele Raineri, La Repubblica:

    Italian journalist in Kramatorsk here. Russia allegedly killed 600 Ukrainian soldiers “in dormitories 28 and 47”. I’m checking the first place, dormitory 28: the missile missed the target, made a big hole in the soft terrain and didn’t touch the buildings around

    checking the second place, dormitory 47: the Russian missile missed the target, again. There’s a big hole in front of the building, the place is empty. That’s all from Kramatorsk

    Photos at the (Twitter) link.

  38. says

    Der Spiegel – “‘Russians Have Little Compassion for the Ukrainians'”:

    Lev Gudkov investigates what makes Russians tick with his independent opinion research institute. In an interview, he discusses the lack of morals in his home country, Russia’s victim mentality and fears of nuclear war….

    Important interview.

    (I might have mentioned before that I loathe “Homo sovieticus” and all “Homo _____us” concepts. They’re annoying and sociologically and philosophically useless.)

  39. says

    White man wants to remove “reservations” from Native American control

    From Montana another land grab by Republican Sen. Keith Regier in this year’s legislative session:

    “The draft resolution argues that reservations have “failed to positively enhance the lives and well-being” of Native Americans, led to substance abuse, domestic violence, welfare dependence, poverty and substandard education. It also argues tribal members who don’t own land have the highest poverty rate and lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group in America.

    “It also argues reservations are “not in the best interests of either the Indians inside our borders or for our common Montana Citizens.”

    “Morigeau said that if legislators want to consider any alternative, it should be “giving the land back that was taken in the first place, not robbing the last bit of land and resources that we have.”

    The Associated Press:

    A white state lawmaker in Montana is questioning whether land set aside long ago for Native Americans should exist anymore.

    Republican Sen. Keith Regier is proposing asking Congress to study alternatives to reservations. The measure, submitted this week and riddled with racial stereotypes, is unlikely to pass and would have no practical effect if it did. But it’s causing tensions to surface at the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature that kicked off this week.

    Native American lawmakers say they’re now spending time responding to the proposed resolution rather than focusing on their own legislative priorities, including extending the state’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force for another two years, creating a grant program to train community-based groups to search for missing people and encouraging the state to determine the economic impact of reservations on the state’s economy.

    “I hate spending energy and time on this kind of stuff because I feel like it sidetracks us,” state Sen. Shane Morigeau, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said Thursday. “But at the same time, it clearly signals to me that we have a lot of educational work to do in this state.”

    Regier said the language in the resolution was written by Mark Agather, a retired businessman who is involved in conservative politics in Kalispell near the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana.

    […] Floyd Azure, chairman of the Fort Peck Tribe in northeastern Montana, said the draft resolution perpetuates racial stereotypes about life on the reservation when social ills, such as addiction, exist nationwide.

    “Why exaggerate the reservations?” he said. He thinks some people “make themselves feel better” by attacking Native Americans.

    Morigeau said the federal government over decades has failed to stamp out tribes, their culture and language through relocation programs and boarding schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, repeatedly has acknowledged the harm those policies that no longer exist caused and sought ways to address the trauma.

    “I’m tired of hearing what other people think is best for us,” Morigeau said. “Consult and seek the advice of Indian people,” rather than imposing on tribes.

    The solution to any social issues on reservations, including addiction or disproportionate rates of health problems, is not to diminish reservations, Morigueau said. “We should be building tribal sovereignty up.”

    More than half — or 326 — of the 574 federally recognized Native American and Alaska Native villages in the U.S. have land set aside that’s categorized as federal trust land. Often the land is referred to as a reservation, but also as rancherias in California and pueblos in New Mexico.

    The largest reservation is the Navajo Nation, which spans 27,000 square miles (69,000 square-kilometers) into parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Other reservations are tiny.

    All but one of Montana’s seven reservations were established prior to statehood.

    Federal policies at various points in history sought to disestablish reservations and force Native Americans into cities. Today, more than 70% of Native Americans live off reservation.

    Momentum has grown in recent years to restore land to Native American tribes. The Interior Department under Haaland also has opened the door for Alaska Native villages to seek trust land status.

    The resolution argues that Native American reservations were created based on race. The U.S. Constitution recognizes tribes as sovereign governments, which is a political classification.

    The federal government set the boundaries for reservations under the auspices of lessening conflicts between Native Americans and white settlers.

    The same race-based language used in Reiger’s draft resolution has shown up elsewhere. Most notably, from critics of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act who have argued the law is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection clause.

    The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling this year in a case challenging the law, which gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings of Native children. Tribes fear widespread impacts if the court attempts to dismantle their status as political sovereigns.

    The race-based language also appeared in a case challenging tribal gambling operations in Washington state.

    During the 2021 legislative session, Native American lawmakers saw discrimination and racism in legislative actions, such as tabling a bill to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day and threats to eliminate funding for a Native American language preservation program that was later restored.

    The Republican-controlled Legislature also passed bills similar to earlier laws that had been declared unconstitutional after a judge found they made it more difficult for Native Americans to vote. And the state Senate removed a member of the Montana Human Rights Commission, leaving it without Native American representation for the first time in at least 16 years.

    “Legislators, including the Indian Caucus, make every attempt to be civil. However, it’s hard when the Indian people are attacked over and over, day after day,” Democratic Sen. Susan Webber said at the time. […]


  40. says

    […] There’s a New Testament Bible verse that perfectly sums up Republicans’ current George Santos problem. Matthew 23:24: “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” With respect to the ongoing Santos saga, that’s a particularly relevant verse. […]

    even in the face of nominal GOP gnat-straining, it’s worth remembering that Republicans have never ostracized the Donald Trump camel: not when he claimed he’d won a Michigan Man of the Year Award that doesn’t exist, repeatedly took credit for a Veterans Choice bill Barack Obama signed, and—oh, I almost forgot about this one—insisted he won a presidential election he very clearly lost. […]


  41. says

    […] While Russia’s navy still maintains a scary strategic nuclear launch capability, it remains unclear if its conventional surface capability is good enough to fight off a drunken band of Somali pirates.

    It’s not just that Ukraine, a country without much of a navy at all, was able to sink the flagship of the Black Sea fleet. Russia seems incapable of keeping other flagships afloat.

    “The heavy nuclear cruiser Admiral Nakhimov of the Southern Fleet of the Russian Navy, which is under repair, will not be put into operation on time. It has been established that of the elements of on-board equipment, only the navigation system is in working order, all other equipment is not ready for operation, ”the intelligence service said.

    It is reported that it did not pass the necessary tests and the nuclear reactor was not launched, as well as the radiation protection system. It was found that the outdated protection of graphite rods, made in 1980, is damaged by corrosion.

    According to available information, most of the high-quality components are missing due to the inability of their production by Russian factories.

    And remember Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov? When last heard from, that bucket of bolts caught fire while it was in dock undergoing extensive repairs.

    Turns out fire damage might be the least of its problems.

    “In preparation for moving the aircraft carrier from the dock to the factory for further repairs, it was discovered that the ship could not move under its own power. It was decided to tow the ship, but it was found that the survivability standard could not be maintained due to deep corrosion of the decks below the third, outer hull of the ship, as well as the presence of water in the holds. Accordingly, there is a risk that during towing the ship will capsize to one side or sink, so the towing was postponed indefinitely, ”the source informed.

    Trying to fix this carrier is like continuing to pour money into your 80s Chrysler K car, Time to haul it somewhere, convert it into a museum and charge tourists $15 to tour it. Either that or list it on eBay. […]


  42. says

    France 24 – “Bolsonaro supporters storm into Brazil Congress, clash with authorities”:

    Hundreds of supporters of far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro stormed into Brazil’s Congress on Sunday one week after President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva’s inauguration. According to local media, large numbers of protesters managed to invade the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and the Supreme Court.

    According to Brazil’s CNN, far-right supporters, who have been demanding for a military coup since Jair Bolsonaro lost the country’s presidential election, managed to storm into the Presidential Palace, the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, as well as the Supreme Court.

    The area around the parliament building in Brasilia had been cordoned off by authorities, but ex-president Jair Bolsonaro backers who refuse to accept leftist Lula’s election victory broke through, marched up ramps and gathered on a roof of the modernist building.

    (This story is being continuously updated)

  43. says

    BBC – “Bolsonaro supporters storm Brazilian Congress”:

    Supporters of Brazilian far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro have stormed Congress and police have used tear gas in an attempt to repel them.

    The dramatic scenes came a week after left-wing veteran Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s inauguration.

    Supporters of Mr Bolsonaro – who refuse to accept that he lost the election – broke through barriers and entered the building in the capital, Brasília.

    Protesters – who smashed windows of the building – had been camping nearby.

    Mr da Silva – better known as Lula – defeated Jair Bolsonaro in October’s election.

    In his inauguration speech, Lula vowed to rebuild a country in “terrible ruins”.

    He decried the policies of his predecessor, who went to the US to avoid the handover ceremony.

  44. says

    David Biller, AP:

    Gov. of Brazil’s federal district has fired the head of his security secretariat, a Bolsonaro supporter. The local police resistance to this uprising appeared *at best* weak and unprepared — if not complicit.

    If the DoJ can get its shit together maybe they can go down to Florida and get Trump and Bolsonaro.

  45. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Zelensky: Bakhmut and Soledar ‘hold on in spite of everything,’ more units to be sent to defense of key cities.

    Zelensky also reported that Ivan Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, visited Bakhmut and Soledar on Jan. 8, giving out medals to soldiers and taking steps to improve the defense of both cities.

  46. says

    SC @69, and in previous comments, I imagine that Bolsonaro has found some kind of TV coverage to watch and is gloating, Trump-like, from Mar-a-Lago.

    @66, Elon Musk’s part in promoting this violence is despicable.

  47. says

    Fascist Bolsonaro supporters attack Congress, presidential palace in Brazilian capital

    Bloomberg now reports that law enforcement has retaken control of the Supreme Court building, but there is “extensive” damage.

    @LulaOficial addressing nation, begins by denouncing “fascists,” “vandals,” “nazis, stalinists…no, not stalinists, fascists” and criticizing security shortcomings. Everyone involved, he says, will be tracked down and arrested.

    […] Video shows the rioters breaking into government buildings and vandalizing exhibitions and offices after pushing through police lines. Bolsonaro’s fascist base has demanded the resignation of the new president and a military takeover of the country rather than abide Bolsonaro’s election loss; the claims are based on evidenceless claims of election fraud and are backed by many of the Republican coup plotters responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    Holy shit. While Bolsonaristas lead an insurrection on Congress, Supreme Court, and Presidential Palace, police officers hang out with the golpistas and take photos of their invasion.


  48. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Global leaders condemn Bolsonaro supporters’ assault

    Here are reactions from world leaders following, what one called, a “cowardly and vile attack on democracy”….

    Security forces have arrived in Brasilia following the assault by pro-Bolsonaro supporters.

    President Lula has given a televised address, in which he called the attack in Brasilia “barbarism” and warned that everyone involved would be “found and punished”.

    He also lashed out at police officers at the scene on Sunday, condemning their lack of action when the crowds turned violent.

    “The police didn’t do anything at all. They just let the protesters in,” he said.

    In his impassioned speech, the president was visibly angry.

    He said that there was no precedent for what happened in Brasilia on Sunday..

    He called those behind the storming of congress “fanatic fascists” who represented “everything that’s abominable” in politics.

    The president said that they would be found and punished “with all the force of the law”.

    He repeatedly said that “these fanatics have done something that’s never before been done in this country”.

    We’ll bring you more from his speech as we get it.

  49. Reginald Selkirk says

    Perry won’t recuse himself from possible GOP investigation of Jan. 6 probe investigating him

    Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., would not commit on Sunday to recusing himself from a possible House GOP investigation of the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation, even though federal investigators have looked at his role in the larger effort leading up to the insurrection and previously seized his cell phone.
    “Why should I be limited? Why should anybody be limited just because someone has made an accusation? Everybody in America is innocent until proven otherwise,” Perry told ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos.
    “We’re gonna investigate, and we need to we need to make sure that that these agencies aren’t running amok and aren’t out of control, which clearly they are,” said Perry, the leader of the hard-right Freedom Caucus.
    On Monday Republicans will vote to approve a package of rules governing the 118th House of Representatives that would establish a new panel to investigate what they call the “weaponization” of the federal government.

  50. Reginald Selkirk says

    Bosnian Serbs award Putin with medal of honor

    SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The Bosnian Serb separatist leader on Sunday awarded Russian President Vladimir Putin with the highest medal of honor for his “patriotic concern and love” for the Serb-controlled half of Bosnia.
    “Putin is responsible for developing and strengthening cooperation and political and friendly relations between RS (Republika Srpska) and Russia,” the Bosnian Serb president, Milorad Dodik, said at the awards ceremony in the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka…
    Moscow has often been accused by the West of seeking to destabilize Bosnia and the rest of the Balkans through its proxies in Serbia and Bosnia. Dodik has openly advocated tearing away the Serb-controlled half of Bosnia from a Bosniak-Croat federation to join it up with neighboring Serbia…

  51. Reginald Selkirk says

    Article that critiqued high-profile abortion study retracted

    The article, “The Turnaway Study: A Case of Self-Correction in Science Upended by Political Motivation and Unvetted Findings,” was originally published in Frontiers in Psychology in June of 2022.
    The Turnaway Study itself was an effort of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, which followed women who had received abortions and women who sought abortions but did not get them because they were too far along in their pregnancies “to describe the mental health, physical health, and socioeconomic consequences of receiving an abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term,” according to its website.
    As we reported in November, the journal placed an expression of concern on the paper after critics pointed out that the editor and all four reviewers (whose names Frontiers published on the first page of the paper) were associated with pro-life organizations. The researchers behind the Turnaway Study responded to the article’s critiques in a commentary published in December…

  52. Reginald Selkirk says

    Sweden Signals All Turkish Demands for NATO Entry Cannot Be Met

    While Turkey has confirmed that Sweden has done what it said it would do, “they also say that they want things that we cannot and do not want to give them,” Kristersson said at a security policy conference Folk och Forsvar in Sweden on Sunday. “And now the decision rests with Turkey,” he added.
    Turkey has objected to Sweden and Finland joining NATO since they put in bids in May, arguing that they need to do more to combat terrorism, including extraditing people who Turkey accuses of terrorist links. A recent poll showed that eight in 10 Swedes think that the Nordic country should refrain from compromising on its legal principles.

  53. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Guardian’s Brazil correspondent, Tom Phillips, reports that, according to Brazilian TV, 150 people have now been arrested.

    US president Joe Biden has called the storming of Brazil’s presidential palace and supreme court “outrageous,” according to Reuters, as White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden was “following the situation closely”.

    “The United States condemns any effort to undermine democracy in Brazil. President Biden is following the situation closely and our support for Brazil’s democratic institutions is unwavering. Brazil’s democracy will not be shaken by violence,” said Sullivan.

    Brazil’s GloboNews is reporting that the country’s Congress, supreme court and presidential palace have all been retaken by security forces.

    The Guardian has not verified this independently but we will let you know as soon as we have more detail.

    GloboNews has also shared footage of the aftermath of the attack on the palace taken by the Minister of Communications, Paulo Pimenta, in which he says, “Look what the vandals did here! The chaos. Unbelievable. They are criminals”.

    Brazil’s Folha newspaper is also reporting that the buildings have been secured, saying that police used stun bombs and pepper spray to get protesters out of the buildings.

    “The agents began to succeed in the operation at 4pm,” it reports, and the buildings were fully cleared by 6pm. It is currently 8pm in Brasília.

    Leftist leader Guilherme Boulos is saying that leftist groups are promising marches tomorrow “in defence of democracy and for the punishment of golpistas” (coup-mongers), the Guardian’s Andrew Downie reports.

    He said in a tweet (translated a little awkwardly by Google translate), “Social movements have just met and defined ACTS in defense of democracy and for the punishment of coup plotters for tomorrow, at 6 pm, in the main cities of the country. In São Paulo it will be in front of MASP. Let’s defeat coup in the streets!”

    The UK foreign secretary James Cleverly has pledged President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva the UK’s “full support” after raids also centred on the presidential palace and the supreme court in Brasília.

    Cleverly said Lula and “the government of Brazil have the full support of the UK”.

    “The violent attempts to undermine democracy in Brazil are unjustifiable,” the foreign secretary tweeted.

    Earlier, his Labour shadow David Lammy sent the party’s “full support and solidarity to President Lula and the Brazilian people at this troubling time”.

    “This is an appalling attack on democracy, with chilling parallels to the storming of the US Capitol,” he added.

  54. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    At least one member of the Bolsonaro clan was reportedly present as extremists ran riot in Brazil’s capital today. Brazilian media reports claim the ex-president’s nephew, Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, was among the crowds.

    Italy’s far-right prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has condemned today’s attack, calling it “unacceptable and incompatible with any form of democratic dissent”.

    “What is happening in Brazil cannot leave us indifferent. The images of the irruption in institutional offices are unacceptable and incompatible with any form of democratic dissent. A return to normality is urgently needed and we express solidarity with the Brazilian institutions,” she said on Twitter.

    The governor of Brasília, Ibaneis Rocha, has just said on Twitter that 400 people have now been arrested in connection with today’s attacks.

    “I come to inform you that more than 400 people have already been arrested and will pay for the crimes committed. We continue working to identify all the others who participated in these terrorist acts this afternoon in the Federal District. We continue to work to restore order,” he wrote.

  55. tomh says

    House Republicans Preparing Broad Inquiry Into F.B.I. and Security Agencies
    By Charlie Savage and Luke Broadwater / Jan. 8, 2023
    Republicans plan to create a special subcommittee, led by a Trump ally, with a mandate to scrutinize open criminal investigations and classified intelligence.

    WASHINGTON — Newly empowered House Republicans are preparing a wide-ranging investigation into law enforcement and national security agencies, raising the prospect of politically charged fights with the Biden administration over access to sensitive information like highly classified intelligence and the details of continuing criminal inquiries by the Justice Department.

    The House plans to vote this week on a resolution to create a special Judiciary subcommittee on what it calls the “weaponization of the federal government,” a topic that Republicans have signaled could include reviewing investigations into former President Donald J. Trump.

    The panel would be overseen by Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, who is also poised to become the Judiciary Committee’s chairman. It remains to be seen who else Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who made numerous concessions to a far-right faction of his party to win the speakership, will put on it.

    In a Fox News interview on Friday evening, Representative Chip Roy of Texas, a lead negotiator for hard-right lawmakers who pushed Mr. McCarthy’s team for concessions, portrayed the panel as part of the agreement they struck for their support. He said Mr. McCarthy had committed to giving the subcommittee at least as much funding and staffing as the House special committee in the last Congress that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

    The text of the resolution establishing the subcommittee would give the panel essentially open-ended jurisdiction to scrutinize any issue related to civil liberties or to examine how any agency of the federal government has collected, analyzed and used information about Americans — including “ongoing criminal investigations.”

    The Justice Department has traditionally resisted making information about open criminal investigations available to Congress, suggesting that legal and political fights over subpoenas and executive privilege are most likely looming.

    Republicans are promoting Mr. Jordan’s panel as a new “Church Committee,” referring to a 1970s investigation by Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho, that uncovered decades of intelligence and civil liberties abuses by presidents of both parties.

    Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the Church Committee had been “a serious and bipartisan attempt to reform the conduct of the intelligence community, based on hard and verifiable evidence.”

    By contrast, he said that “this new thing, fueled by conspiracy theories and slated to be run by the most extreme members of the MAGA caucus,” was likely to be more similar to the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee of the mid-20th century.

    The subcommittee investigation proposed by Mr. Jordan is just one of a number of inquiries House Republicans plan to approve this week.

    Included in a separate rules package scheduled to come up for a vote on Monday is a wide-ranging inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic, including the origins of the virus, so-called gain-of-function research, the production of vaccines and the conduct of Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Mr. Biden’s former chief medical adviser, whom Republicans have pledged to haul before them for questioning.

  56. says

    It’s been a while since I mentioned This Vast Southern Empire but I’m often reminded of it:

    When the United States emerged as a world power in the years before the Civil War, the men who presided over the nation’s triumphant territorial and economic expansion were largely southern slaveholders. As presidents, cabinet officers, and diplomats, slaveholding leaders controlled the main levers of foreign policy inside an increasingly powerful American state. This Vast Southern Empire explores the international vision and strategic operations of these southerners at the commanding heights of American politics.

    For proslavery leaders like John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis, the nineteenth-century world was torn between two hostile forces: a rising movement against bondage, and an Atlantic plantation system that was larger and more productive than ever before. In this great struggle, southern statesmen saw the United States as slavery’s most powerful champion. Overcoming traditional qualms about a strong central government, slaveholding leaders harnessed the power of the state to defend slavery abroad. During the antebellum years, they worked energetically to modernize the U.S. military, while steering American diplomacy to protect slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and the Republic of Texas.

    As Matthew Karp demonstrates, these leaders were nationalists, not separatists. Their “vast southern empire” was not an independent South but the entire United States, and only the election of Abraham Lincoln broke their grip on national power. Fortified by years at the helm of U.S. foreign affairs, slaveholding elites formed their own Confederacy—not only as a desperate effort to preserve their property but as a confident bid to shape the future of the Atlantic world.

  57. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia backs banning of maps disputing official ‘territorial integrity’

    (Reuters) – Russia’s government extended support to a legislative amendment that would classify maps that dispute the country’s official “territorial integrity” as punishable extremist materials, the state-owned TASS news agency reported on Sunday…
    The new amendment, TASS reports without citing sources, emerged after its authors pointed out that some maps distributed in Russia dispute the “territorial affiliation” of the Crimean Peninsula and the Kuril Islands…

  58. StevoR says

    @19. Lynna, OM : Thanks – some absolute classics in that The Daily Kos cartoon’s on the GOP speaker debacle.

    FWIW There’s also a meme seen on fb today setting up a new Liz Truss style contest :

    “Day one can Kevin McCarthy outlast this lettuce?” (The Progressivists.)


    Schaudenfreudelicious if also a bit plain sad :

    The trial of former One Nation (an Aussie far reich wing racist party- ed.) senator Rod Culleton, who allegedly breached Western Australia’s hard border last year, has been adjourned after beginning in farcical circumstances when the accused requested the magistrate take a sobriety test.

    The pair entered the courtroom and had not even approached the bar table before they began to test the patience of Magistrate Kevin Tavener.

    They repeatedly refused to identify themselves when asked if they were the people named on the charge sheet, and only took a seat after Ms Stewart had exclaimed three times that “we do not recognise the jurisdiction of this court”.Mr Culleton unsuccessfully attempted to make constitutional arguments, claiming the Eyre Highway was a Commonwealth jurisdiction, but the magistrate responded repeatedly that he did not understand Mr Culleton’s arguments.

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Magistrate Tavener said.

    Source :

    Sounds like “Sovereign Citizen” type BS to me but dunno for sure.

    Also, whilst a bushfire is causing evacuations and blazing through bushland in Queensland’s Darling Downs region; we have major record-breaking or very close to floods along the Murray river here in SA and up in the Kimberly in the top westerrn corner of Oz this :

    Emergency relief funding has been made available to assist with recovery efforts following WA’s worst-ever floods, which have caused vast swathes of land to virtually become an inland ocean. … (snip).. The flood plains of the Fitzroy River were overwhelmed with intense rainfall and damaging winds brought on by former tropical cyclone Ellie last week.

    The severe weather event caused WA’s worst-ever flooding, with the Fitzroy River peaking at a record 15.8 metres on Wednesday.

    Water levels have receded around Fitzroy Crossing after the former tropical cyclone travelled back into the Northern Territory over the weekend.

    However, flooding continues to reach new peaks downstream of the Fitzroy River.


    Mr McGowan said an estimated 100 homes had been damaged by the floods, and warned getting residents back into flood-impacted properties would be a “long and difficult process” due to a shortage of accommodation and other logistics.

    Source :

    Palate-cleanser as Phil Plait would’ve written and different, positive news here :

    With simply gorgeous accompanying photos of Sea Dragons and on a great citizen science idea.

  59. Reginald Selkirk says

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said ‘like a lot of people’ she had ‘easily gotten sucked into some things I had seen on the internet’ in regards to QAnon conspiracy theories

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said Sunday of QAnon conspiracy theories that she had gotten “sucked into” things she saw online, like many other Americans…

    Unlike ‘many other American’ she has a staff and resources available to elected representatives.
    Maybe with even wackier people now sworn into the House, she sees an opportunity to rebrand herself as an elder statesman.

  60. Reginald Selkirk says

    @95: “Day one can Kevin McCarthy outlast this lettuce?” (The Progressivists.)

    What are the alternatives? The FreeDumb Caucus isn’t big enough to actually field their own candidate for the job. The sane thing to do would be to hold a snap election, and perhaps some people are already regretting their votes. But that doesn’t happen in the USA. We are stuck with this for two years.

  61. says

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

    Ukraine is reinforcing its positions around Bakhmut in the eastern Donbas region after days of relentless assaults by Russian forces spearheaded by the Wagner mercenary group.

    Bakhmut and the neighbouring town of Soledar have been the focus of intense efforts by Moscow to make progress in an area where Russian forces have been trying desperately to advance since early summer.

    In recent days, Russian attacks have focused on Soledar in an apparent effort to cut off the town. “The enemy again made a desperate attempt to storm the city of Soledar from different directions and threw the most professional units of the Wagnerites into battle,” Ukraine’s military said on Monday, echoing comments made by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on Sunday.

    A top Ukrainian cyber official has said Russia’s cyber attacks on Ukrainian critical and civilian infrastructure could amount to war crimes.

    Speaking with Politico, Victor Zhora, chief digital transformation officer at the state service of special communication and information protection (SSSCIP) of Ukraine said Russia’s cyber attacks amounted to war crimes against Ukrainian citizens.

    Zhora, who told Politico that Ukrainian officials were sharing evidence with the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague, said:

    When we observe the situation in cyberspace we notice some coordination between kinetic strikes and cyber attacks, and since the majority of kinetic attacks are organized against civilians — being a direct act of war crime — supportive actions in cyber can be considered as war crime.

  62. says

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

    Joe Biden is making the first visit of a US president to Mexico since 2014, where he’ll discuss topics ranging from trade to climate change to migration with president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. They’ll be joined later in the day by prime minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.

    McCarthy and other top Republicans have yet to speak out against yesterday’s January 6-esque assault on Brazil’s government offices by supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro. Top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries has condemned the attack.

    The House will convene at 5 pm eastern time to vote on a rules package, typically a customary but crucial step for operating the chamber, but which today will serve as yet another barometer of how dysfunctional the new Republican majority will be over the coming two years.

    The package governs how the House will conduct its business, and would cement many of the procedural giveaways Kevin McCarthy made to win the support of rightwing insurgents who blocked his election for days last week. However, those concessions could spark a revolt among moderates and others unhappy with the deal the speaker made, again raising the possibility of another bout of standoff and legislative paralysis….

    A handful of establishment Republicans indicated on Sunday they may withhold their support for the rules unless more details of concessions made to ultraconservative lawmakers during a week of torrid negotiations are unveiled….

    House Republican leadership apparently does not want a repeat of last week’s dysfunction, CNN reports.

    They’re racing to make sure moderate GOP lawmakers like South Carolina’s Nancy Mace support the rules package when it comes up for a vote later today, so the chamber can make a much-belated start to its lawmaking….

    The Atlanta-area grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s campaign to overturn Joe Biden’s election win in the state has finished its work and been dissolved, Lawfare reports:

    A judge will hold a hearing on 24 January to determine whether to make its report public.

    The investigation spearheaded by Fulton county’s district attorney Fani Willis is one of several legal threats to the former president, and focuses on the pressure campaign by Trump and his allies to convince state officials to undo Biden’s victory in Georgia, one of several states crucial to his White House victory.

    From CNBC: “The end of the state grand jury’s work means it will now be up to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office to decide whether to file criminal charges in the case.”

    US president Joe Biden, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador have issued a joint statement condemning yesterday’s attack on Brazil’s congress and presidential palace by supporters of Jair Bolsonaro.

    Here’s the declaration, released by the White House:

    Canada, Mexico, and the United States condemn the January 8 attacks on Brazil’s democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power. We stand with Brazil as it safeguards its democratic institutions. Our governments support the free will of the people of Brazil. We look forward to working with President Lula on delivering for our countries, the Western Hemisphere, and beyond.

  63. Reginald Selkirk says

    Detonated for 5 hours: Russian ammunition storage point destroyed in Melitopol Mayor

    On the night of 8-9 January, a Russian ammunition storage point was destroyed in occupied Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The detonation lasted for at least five hours.
    Source: Ivan Fedorov, Melitopol Mayor, at a briefing on Monday, reports Interfax-Ukraine news agency
    Quote: “This weekend, on Sunday night, an ammunition depot was destroyed, which was located in the city centre, on the territory of one of the industrial enterprises. These are the state enterprise “Hidromash” and the “Melitopol compressor” enterprise that lie close to each other, almost across the fence. On Sunday night, there was a strike, the detonation lasted for at least five hours (from 1:00 to 6:00), and then, at 13:00 their ammunition depot was destroyed again.”

  64. says

    Also in today’s Guardian:

    “Protesters gather at Iranian prison in attempt to stop ‘imminent executions’”:

    Protesters gathered outside a prison near the Iranian capital on Sunday night in an attempt to prevent the rumoured imminent execution of two young detainees found guilty of running over a police officer in a car during protests in November.

    Over the weekend the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, attended memorials in Toronto for the 176 people killed on Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 that was shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on 8 January 2020.

    Trudeau said the Tehran regime did not represent its people, a position that takes him closer to expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada, one of the key demands of the protestors in the large and increasingly unified Iranian diaspora.

    The execution of two men, Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini, on Saturday led to protests around the world, but no immediate sanctions….

    “Israel security minister bans Palestinian flag-flying in public”:

    Israel’s national security minister has ordered police to ban Palestinian flags from public places in the latest crackdown by the country’s new hardline government.

    Itamar Ben-Gvir’s order follows a series of other punitive steps against the Palestinians since taking office late last month.

    “Today I directed the Israel police to enforce the prohibition of flying any PLO flag that shows identification with a terrorist organization from the public sphere and to stop any incitement against the State of Israel,” Ben-Gvir announced on Twitter.

    Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government has moved quickly against the Palestinians in retaliation for a Palestinian push for the UN’s highest judicial body to give its opinion on Israel’s 55-year military occupation of the West Bank….

    “‘Lack of respect’: outcry over Amazon employee’s death on warehouse floor”:

    On the morning of 27 December 2022 at the Amazon DEN4 warehouse in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 61-year-old Rick Jacobs died on the job after experiencing a cardiac event, right before a shift change. What happened next has angered his former colleagues.

    Witnesses say a makeshift barrier around the deceased worker using large cardboard bins was used to block off the area on the outbound shipping dock where the incident occurred, and workers criticized the response and lack of transparency about the incident….

    As workers arrived for their day shift, they say they were not notified about what was going on and continued working as usual while a deceased colleague remained in the facility and emergency responders awaited the arrival of a coroner….

  65. says

    SC @82: I agree with Rep. Gallego. “Any Brazilian official using Florida or any state in the US as a staging ground for a coup should be deported and handed over to Brazilian authorities.”

  66. raven says

    “Nearly half of top foreign policy experts think Russia will become a failed state or break up by 2033.” Leading experts, whoever they are.

    I wouldn’t take these predictions of the future too seriously.
    I doubt if anyone knows this for sure.

    And those aren’t the only two alternatives either.
    Russia could just stagger along like it is doing now, going nowhere with a dysfunctional society.

    About all we know is that Russia hasn’t been doing well for a while and that is unlikely to change.
    The leadership and the oligarchies have been bleeding the country out, siphoning the Russian GDP into their own bank accounts. It is a Third World model and it is starting to show.
    .1. They stopped funding their education system a decade or two ago. And it is starting to show. The schools are in disrepair, not well equipped, and the students aren’t well educated.
    .2. They haven’t maintained their infrastructure especially outside of Moscow/St Petersberg and it is falling apart.
    .3. Their industrial and manufacturing base seems to be falling apart.
    They don’t have many of their modern Hi Tech weapons such as advanced planes and tanks and they are very careful not to use them in Ukraine.
    I’m getting the idea that they can’t readily replace them and they know it.

    Carl Quintanilla @carlquintanilla

    (FT) – Nearly half of top foreign policy experts think Russia will become a failed state or break up by 2033 ..

    Russia at risk of becoming failed state, say foreign policy experts
    Atlantic Council report also forecasts China will invade Taiwan in decade of tumult

  67. says

    After House Speaker Kevin McCarthy finally won the gavel after midnight early Saturday morning, the California Republican delivered prepared remarks to his colleagues.

    “I know the night is late,” he declared from the dais, “but when we come back our very first bill will repeal the funding for 87,000 new IRS agents.” GOP members, convinced that the discredited claim is true, roared in approval.

    Or put another way, the first legislative priority for the new House Republican majority is to undermine law enforcement.

    […] as McCarthy has been told many times, the Democratic measure in question didn’t hire 87,000 IRS agents. It might seem outlandish to think Republicans are attacking a group of officials who do not actually exist.

    In reality, the IRS will be bolstered by new employees, but many of them will simply replace retiring workers, and many more will simply work in the building as IT technicians and folks who answer the phone. Repeating the lie about 87,000 new IRS agents doesn’t make it any less wrong.

    As a political matter, it’s also worth mentioning that even if this is the party’s “very first bill” of the new Congress, it won’t pass the Democratic-led Senate, President Joe Biden won’t sign it, and all of this posturing will amount to little more than hollow chest-thumping from a new GOP majority.

    But even if we put all of these relevant details aside — we shouldn’t, of course, but if we did for the sake of conversation — there’s a bigger picture to consider. As we discussed several months ago, according to McCarthy, the very first thing House Republicans want to do with power is, in effect, help criminals by defunding law enforcement.

    After all, let’s not forget why Democrats prioritized IRS funding in the first place: The governing party concluded that the government could collect more revenue without raising taxes by simply enforcing the laws already on the books. By making sure the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share, Uncle Sam could finance important priorities while leaving existing tax rates unchanged.

    According to the McCarthy and GOP leaders, Republicans are desperate to undo this by defunding the tax police.

    It’s going to be a long two years.


  68. says

    What House Republicans plan to do:

    […] The key things Gym Jordan and his buddies are interested in here are hamstringing the Biden administration and hampering any investigations into lawbreaking by Donald Trump and his allies.

    In November, just before Election Day, Jordan released a stunt report angling for headlines, claiming that the FBI “spied on President Trump’s campaign and ridiculed conservative Americans” and that the “rot within the F.B.I. festers in and proceeds from Washington.” Sure sounds like he’s planning a careful, impartial investigation!

    That report also characterized the FBI’s seizure of Rep. Scott Perry’s cell phone, which was backed by a court-authorized warrant, as the FBI having “stalked a Republican Congressman while on a family vacation to seize his cell phone.”

    […] The plan is to go after the government for having refused to allow Republicans to attempt a coup without investigating the crimes committed in the process. And also to talk a lot about Hunter Biden’s laptop and/or penis. This is Republican governance. This is who they are.


  69. says

    Oh, FFS.

    […] “Brazilian Freedom Fighters,” Steve Bannon, wrote Sunday on the right-wing social media app Gettr. His comment follows months of vocal support on his War Room podcast for Bolsonaro supporters who have camped out in Brazil to protest his defeat in October’s elections. Bannon has said that he is directly advising the former president’s son, Brazilian congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro. The younger Bolsonaro has touted Bannon’s calls for his father, who is reportedly now in Florida, not to accept defeat.

    […] Bannon was far from alone in supporting Brazil’s insurrectionists. Another MAGA figure involved in the January 6 attack also embraced their efforts on Sunday. Ali Alexander, the “Stop the Steal” organizer who claimed to have “schemed up,” along with three members of Congress, the plan to assemble Trump backers in Washington to pressure lawmakers not to certify Joe Biden’s victory on January 6, declared on social media, “I do NOT denounce unannounced impromptu Capitol tours by the people.” He also urged the Brazilian rioters to “do whatever is necessary!” […]


  70. says

    Ocasio-Cortez: US ‘must cease granting refuge’ to Brazil’s Bolsonaro

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined other lawmakers in calling for former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, whose supporters stormed Brazilian governmental offices Sunday, to not be allowed to stay in Florida.

    “Nearly 2 years to the day the US Capitol was attacked by fascists, we see fascist movements abroad attempt to do the same in Brazil,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet. “We must stand in solidarity with @LulaOficial’s democratically elected government. The US must cease granting refuge to Bolsonaro in Florida.”

    […] Many U.S. lawmakers compared the violence at Brazil’s government buildings to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol two years ago. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said Bolsonaro took a page out of the “Trump playbook.”

    “Bolsonaro was an authoritarian leader, and I stand with the democratically elected leadership in Brazil,” he said to CNN’s Jim Acosta. “He basically used the Trump playbook to inspire domestic terrorists to try to take over the government.”

    Castro also called on the Biden administration and local Florida authorities to send Bolsonaro back to his home country, saying that the U.S. should not be a “refuge” for him.

    “Bolsonaro should not be in Florida,” he added. “The United States should not be a refuge for this authoritarian, who has inspired domestic terrorism in Brazil. He should be sent back to Brazil.”

    Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) also demanded that the U.S. not allow Bolsonaro to stay in the country. […]

  71. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Guardian’s Kira Lerner reports that the GOP has been waging a legal assault on voting nationwide, with more lawsuits aimed at restricting ballot box access filed last year than ever before:

    The Republican party filed a record number of anti-voting lawsuits in 2022, a sign that they are shifting the battle over voting access and election administration to courtrooms in addition to state legislatures.

    Last year, Republican party groups filed 23 democracy-related lawsuits, according to a new report by Democracy Docket, a progressive media platform that tracks voting litigation. The lawsuits included efforts to challenge election results, attacks on mail-in voting and attempts to undermine the administration of elections. The Democratic party, the report found, filed only six voting lawsuits in 2022 and all sought to protect or expand the right to vote.

    The almost two dozen lawsuits filed by the GOP is an increase from 20 in 2020, the year of the presidential election in which Donald Trump’s loss was contested in courts for months. There were no new lawsuits by the Republican party in 2021, when there was no major election.

    “Evidently, the GOP establishment is becoming more litigious than ever and is turning to courts to achieve its anti-voting and anti-democracy ends,” the report says.

    Election meddling has consequences, and for proof of that, look no further than the now-concluded special grand jury investigation into what Donald Trump and his allies were up to in Georgia in the wake of the 2020 election.

    It’s unclear if Trump himself could face charges based on what the jurors determine, but they’ve already informed several of his allies they are targets of its investigation. These include Rudy Giuliani, one of his most prominent attorneys, as well as Georgia Republican party chair David Shafer and state senator Brandon Beach.

    It’s far from the only investigation into Trump, or his campaign to stop Joe Biden from taking office. The justice department is investigating that as well as the violent insurrection on January 6, and both cases have been handed to special prosecutor Jack Smith. Smith is also expected to decided whether to bring charges against Trump and others over the government secrets discovered at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

    There are reasons to believe the special grand jury investigation in Georgia is the most immediate threat Trump is facing….

    We’re in fact yet to see these alleged consequences. Jack Smith just returned to the US last week, and we haven’t seen any consequences since then, either, even as their attacks on democracy here and abroad continue.

  72. says


    […] Without a clear victory and awaiting the next session of rake-walking later today, House Republicans were left with no other option but to try and gaslight the public into believing their first example of “leadership” wasn’t a colossal failure. Let’s see how that went!

    Chip Roy Starts The Egg Timer On Speaker McCarthy’s Tenure

    After receiving so many concessions that the House “Freedom Caucus” is effectively the de facto leaders of the 118th Congress, Rep. Chip Roy from Texas gave a preview of their Nakatomi Plaza terrorist tactics on CNN’s “State Of The Union.” [Tweet and video at the link]

    Roy told Tapper, “We will use the rules of the House to enforce the terms of the agreement,” implying that he’ll vote to boot McCarthy if he offers a clean debt ceiling bill that doesn’t crash the economy. It’s as if the next two years for McCarthy (and the American people) will resemble the prediction Clubber Lang made for his fight against Rocky. [“Pain.”]

    […] Over on “Fox News Sunday,” host Shannon Bream had to deal with Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and his disdain for suit jackets. One of Jordan’s signature “traits” is his memorizing and spouting of talking points at a speed that makes it seem like he’s selling Micro Machine toys. It’s like a jock who had a gallon’s worth of talking points poured into a shot glass-sized brain.

    Jordan’s schtick almost made us miss his hints at more nefarious motives regarding the defense cuts Crenshaw was sad about. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Jordan said, “You had better look at everything. And frankly we better look at the money we send to Ukraine as well and say how can we best spend the money to protect America?” A little isolationism mixed with not-so-subtle support for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. This is peak Trumpism. […]

  73. says


    […] the publicist for former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller […] emailed us an excerpt of his recently released book, Soldier Secretary: Warnings from the Battlefield & the Pentagon about America’s Most Dangerous Enemies.

    Get a load of this horseshit:

    At 3:44 p.m. on January 6, 2021, I was sitting at my desk in the Pentagon holding a phone six inches away from my ear, trying my best to make sense of the incoherent shrieking blasting out of the receiver. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on the line, and she was in a state of total nuclear meltdown.

    To be fair, the other members of congressional leadership on the call weren’t exactly composed, either. Every time Pelosi paused to catch her breath, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Steny Hoyer took turns hyperventilating into the phone.

    Great job, PR lady. Send us an excerpt that begins with something verifiably false — skip to 4:00 of this video to witness what actually went down in the interaction Miller is describing. [video at the link]

    […] Here’s Miller blaming Democrats for the DOD’s failure to protect the seat of government, because lefties got mad when Trump used the National Guard to terrorize racial justice protestors:

    “Get troops to the Capitol now, Mr. Secretary,” Pelosi demanded. The irony wasn’t lost on me. Prior to that very moment, the speaker and her Democrat colleagues had spent months decrying the use of National Guard troops to quell left-wing riots following the death of George Floyd that caused countless deaths and billions of dollars in property damage nationwide. But as soon as it was her ass on the line, Pelosi had been miraculously born again as a passionate, if less than altruistic, champion of law and order.

    When I could finally wedge a comment in, I pointed out that I had already ordered the complete mobilization of the District of Columbia National Guard and that forces were on their way to the Capitol as soon as they were properly equipped and synchronized with the Capitol Police.

    […] In point of fact, it took Miller three hours to approve a plan to get the National Guard to the Capitol. And Miller himself put out a memo on January 4 explicitly barring the DC National Guard from making any preparations or move to stop potential violence without his personal sign off. Is he going to blame Nancy Pelosi for that one, too?

    […] Officer Brian Sicknick is dead. Ashli Babbitt is dead. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards suffered traumatic brain injury after Trump’s supporters stormed the barriers and threw her to the ground, where she struck her head on the concrete steps. The mob was shouting, “Hang Mike Pence.” Guy Reffitt, a member of the Three Percenters militia out of Texas, made a video of himself on that day saying, “I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every fucking stair on the way out, and Mitch McConnell too, fuck ‘em all. It’s time to take our country back.” The Oath Keepers, some of whom have been convicted of seditious conspiracy, marched in military formation and had a massive cache of weapons ready to go if and when Trump invoked the Insurrection Act and summoned them to keep him in power after he’d lost the election.

    And while we’re on the subject of the Insurrection Act, let’s not forget that Miller was only in the job because Trump fired Mark Esper, the former defense secretary, because he refused to invoke the Insurrection Act in response to Black Live Matters protestors. So for Miller to say that his hands were tied because of Pelosi is bloody rich.

    […] It was an attempted coup with hours of bloody, hand-to-hand combat, and it’s absolutely filthy for Miller to invoke his military service to denigrate the elected officials who demanded that the military step up and do its damn job when the nation was under attack.

    “But I had never seen anyone — not even the greenest, pimple-faced nineteen-year-old Army private — panic like our nation’s elder statesmen did on January 6 and in the months that followed,” he huffs, without acknowledging that teenage soldiers are heavily armed and surrounded by other heavily armed fighters. And not for nothing, but these soldiers signed up to defend American democracy and our Constitutional way of life, the very thing that was under attack on January 6, 2021.

    “Here were the most powerful men and women in the world — the leaders of the legislative branch of the mightiest nation in history — cowering like frightened children for all the world to see,” he goes on, without quite specifying what he thought the appropriate response should have been. Was Pelosi supposed to stay in the chamber and beat Refitt over the head with her gavel?

    […] this guy isn’t really much for thinking through the logical implications of his blustering.

    […] Miller goes on to praise his own hearty ancestors, who were “tough as nails, and they taught us to be just as tough.”

    “You sure as hell don’t run away when you’ve got a job to do,” he says, conveniently omitting to mention that McConnell and Pelosi made damn sure to get back into their chambers and finish the job that very night.

    […] “I’m not looking for fame or fortune or a lucrative deal as a talking head on cable news. Other than my family and a handful of friends, I don’t give two shits about what anybody thinks of me.”

    Sure, buddy. We’ll take it up with your publicist, who informs us that you’ll soon be available for speaking engagements, in the same message where you’re quoted saying, “I profoundly dislike talking about myself.”

    In summary and in conclusion, piss off, you self-important jackass.

  74. says


    Christopher Key is an anti-vaxxer and snake oil salesman (well, deer antler velvet salesman) who made headlines last year when he announced his plans to citizen’s arrest Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards for allowing children to get COVID vaccines. This weekend, he posted a video to Telegram that showed him harassing the pilots of a plane he was on over the fact that they were vaccinated.

    Key, who believes the vaccine is a bioweapon and apparently takes his hair styling tips from insipid Belgian cartoons, walked up to the cockpit to tell the pilots that he just “got word” that another pilot somewhere “dropped dead” and then proceeded to ask them if they were vaccinated.

    “This is scary, both of them have been vaccinated. God help us. Hope we don’t have another pilot drop dead. And again, we just got word that another pilot has dropped dead. So both my pilots are vaccinated … the one says that he’s young so I shouldn’t have anything to worry about, so pray for me,” Key said as he walked to his seat.

    At the end of the flight — which oddly enough occurred when it landed at its destination and not when it crashed into the ocean when both pilots keeled over dead at the exact same time from a vaccine-related heart issue — Key approached the pilots again to give them his card and implore them to watch conspiracy theorist Stew Peters’ documentary Died Suddenly.

    “You said you were young, brother?” he asked. “But again we’ve had over 1000 athletes drop dead on the football field, 23 years of age. Please go look at it.”

    “It’s a lie,” one of the pilots told him, correctly. Tucker Carlson made this same claim last week, and it was just as not true then as it is now. The figure comes from a random blog called, which includes not just cardiac arrest deaths of young footballers but cancer deaths and any and all deaths of anyone who ever did a sport in their life, including several senior citizens. The assumption the blog and rightwing anti-vaxxers make is that anyone whose obituary says they “died suddenly,” or for which a cause of death is not listed, died from complications of the COVID vaccine, whether or not they were actually vaccinated.

    For instance, one of the entries on the list reads, “Tom Browning (62), former Cincinnati Reds legendary Baseball pitcher was found unresponsive at home in Kentucky. Cause of death is not available,” while another reads, “Jerry Holland (66), legend of rugby in Munster, Ireland, where he excelled as a player, coach, team manager and administrator. He died after ‘an illness.'”

    “We have a team of over 7500 medical doctors,” Key continued. “We help anybody that’s willing to listen. We know they made you take the shot. We can help you guys. This is real. You guys saw what happened on ‘Monday Night Football,’ right?”

    Given Key’s history, this “help” will likely take the form of drinking bleach, drinking their own urine (which he claimed was a cure for COVID last year, though he says he’s been drinking his own urine for the past 23 years), putting magic hologram stickers on their body, or spraying their elbows with deer antler velvet endorsed by Frank Stallone and Mario Lopez. […]

  75. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Defense Ministry: Russia launches ‘powerful assault’ on Soledar, fierce battles continue.

    After an unsuccessful attempt to capture Soledar, Russian troops changed tactics and commenced another major assault, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported.

  76. raven says

    I’ve had a feeling based on nothing I can identify that Trump and Putin had a deal about Ukraine.They might have.

    Don’t forget, Trump was impeached the first time for throwing Ukraine under the bus.

    Trump, who was impeached for withholding nearly $400 … › news › articleshow

    Feb 25, 2022 — Former US President Donald Trump, who was impeached for withholding nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine, said the country’s ..

  77. says

    Ukraine update: Germany has done more for Ukraine than most know or acknowledge


    Spare a thought for #Ukraine’s forces today: Russia’s making another attempt to capture town of Soledar near Bakhmut. Deputy Defense Minister said massive artillery bombardment & new 🇷🇺 assault groups are attacking “literally on the corpses of 🇷🇺 soldiers”

    One would be hard-pressed to see any discussion about Germany in Ukraine-related forums and discussions without hearing people rip the country apart. “They are Putin’s best friends!” “When will they deliver this aid, 2025?” “We can’t trust anything they say!”

    While Germany was certainly late in providing significant support, they have gradually evolved into being Ukraine’s strongest European partner while weaning themselves off Russian gas in record time. In fact, their efforts have lacked in just two areas: providing leadership (they happily follow), and public relations to sell their contributions.

    Check out this chart of total aid commitments as of late November, including military and humanitarian aid as well as direct financial support to the Ukrainian government: [chart at the link]

    Germany has committed nearly double the aid of the next two countries, France and the United Kingdom. This is what it looks like accounting for just military aid: [chart at the link]

    If it looks like the U.S. is overly represented in terms of military aid, that’s what being the world’s policeman has wrought. Europe conveniently outsourced their defense to the U.S., leaving themselves lacking much military gear to offer. […] We’ll be better off in the long term if Europe takes responsibility for their own security. They can afford it. But that’s an argument for another time.

    Despite the bare cupboards, Germany has provided more direct weapons deliveries than any other country except ours. Critics will point to GDP, saying that Germany’s contributions lag in comparison to, say, Poland, or the Baltic nations. And it’s true! [chart at the link]

    […] Germany clocks in at only 0.33% of GDP compared to Estonia’s 1.3%, or Poland’s 0.7%. And yes, that’s a convenient way to attempt to shame larger nations intro contributing more. But in the end, what matters to Ukraine isn’t Estonia’s share of its GDP ($37.19 billion), as laudable as that is. (Germany’s GDP is $4.26 trillion, that of the U.S. is $23.3 trillion.) What matters to Ukraine is cold, hard cash, and the military hardware it needs to wage its defense.

    And on that front, Germany has delivered. […] Germany hasn’t just delivered critical hardware, it has also “backfilled” Eastern European countries’ armories, allowing them to send Ukraine their Soviet-era gear in exchange for German kit. That was particularly important in the earlier phases of the war when Ukraine didn’t have the logistical and sustainment capabilities to operate Western gear. Countries like Poland and Slovakia have gotten the public relations credit for the weapons deliveries (like T-72 tanks), but they only did so because Germany replaced those weapons with modern NATO gear. It’s easy to be generous when someone else is footing the bill.

    Ukrainians have been particularly thrilled with two German weapons systems: the Gepard (cheetah) anti-aircraft system, which has been exceptionally effective against Russian and Iranian suicide drones, and the PzH 2000 self-propelled artillery gun, considered among the best in the world. The Gepard has been so effective that Germany is rebuilding several near-scrapped vehicles and is trying to buy back units sold to Brazil and Qatar to gift to Ukraine. When Switzerland refused to authorize the transfer of Swiss-made ammunition to Ukraine from German stocks, Germany worked with a manufacturer in Norway to start a new production line as well as buying excess ammo from Brazil. (Germany is so furious at Switzerland’s obstruction, in fact, that it has threatened to stop all defense cooperation and procurement with the Swiss.)

    On top of that, Germany is joining the United States in sending Ukraine a $1.1 billion Patriot anti-missile battery. This stuff ain’t cheap, and Germany is stepping up.

    Meanwhile, Germany helped win Europe’s energy war against Russia. It seems funny now, but Putin and his supporters were convinced this summer that Europe would freeze this winter as Russia cut off shipments of gas and oil to Ukrainian-backing European nations (which is most of them). Putin wagered that cold Europeans would become restless, putting political pressure on their leaders to abandon Ukraine in favor of Russian fossil fuels. At the time polls showed that Europeans weren’t keen to cave to such blackmail, but it was easy to stand firm in the warmer summer and mild autumn. Would public sentiment shift as the weather turned bitter cold and higher energy prices fueled inflation on the continent? Putin wagered he’d come out ahead.

    […] Putin was wrong. Natural gas storage levels are rising, prices are lower now than before the Nordstream gas pipeline between Russia and German was shut, and the Russian ruble is finally caving as those lower (global) prices take a toll on the Russian economy. [Tweet and chart showing natural gas futures pricing available at the link]

    None of that is possible without Germany getting its shit together since it was Russia’s best client, almost entirely reliant on Russian fossil fuels. “More gas is being injected into storage than withdrawn from it,” reported the German government. “The total storage level in Germany is 90.72%. The storage level at the Rehden facility is 90.33%.” A warmer winter has helped for sure, but delaying the shutdown of several nuclear reactors slated for closure was a big factor, as well as cutting through Germany’s fabled bureaucratic red tape to build its first liquid natural gas terminal in a matter of months instead of the usual years. [Tweet and image at the link]

    Germany just received its first shipment at the terminal … with natural gas from Louisiana. Just as importantly, Germany sees this as a short-term solution as it helps drive the European Union toward greater reliance on renewable energy sources. No one is happy that the continent is more reliant on fossil fuels, but better it use American, Norwegian, and African natural gas for now.

    This has become yet another Putin miscalculation among many. Shut out of the lucrative European market, it has been forced to sell its products at a steep discount to India and China. [Tweet with details at the link]

    Russian petroleum is trading at half the price of Brent—Atlantic basin oil that sets the price for two-thirds of the world’s supply. That’s great for India and China, which are happy to profit off Russia’s misery, but it’s a nightmare for Russia.

    Russia’s budget deficit could be wider than a planned 2% of GDP in 2023 as an oil price cap squeezes export income, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said, an extra fiscal hurdle for Moscow as it spends heavily on its military activities in Ukraine.

    His comments represented Moscow’s clearest acknowledgement yet that the $60 per barrel cap, imposed on Dec. 5 by the Group of Seven, European Union and Australia with the aim of limiting Russia’s ability to fund the military campaign, could indeed hit state finances.

    Along with the economic challenges, Russia announced that lack of demand might force it to cut oil production another 5-7%. Meanwhile, China’s current economic troubles should further depress demand. Rather than freeze Europe and cause economic mayhem, it is Russia that is facing serious challenges. This isn’t all Germany’s doing, of course, but as the largest economy in Europe and the nation most reliant on Russian fossil fuels, its ability to wean itself off those products in record time has had an outsized role in these outcomes.

    People are rightfully frustrated at Germany’s refusal to lead during this crisis. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz kept talking to Putin way after it was obvious that doing so was futile (along with French President Emmanuel Macron). Also, like Macron, Scholz believes it’s imperative that Europe not punish Russia after the war ends, to Eastern Europe’s endless frustration. And Germany certainly won’t be the first to escalate military capabilities for Ukraine, deferring to the United States on M270 MLRS rocket artillery and to the U.S. and France on infantry fighting vehicles. Now as Ukraine desperately pleads for Western armor, a coalition of nations (Poland, Finland, and Denmark) is looking to Germany for the green light to send German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Germany isn’t rushing to approve. It wants others to go first.

    As frustrating as that it given current circumstances, such timidity stems from Germany’s very real guilt over World War II and a genuine fear that a remilitarized Germany could someday once again threaten its neighbors. As such, it would very much rather support everyone else’s decisions than ever be accused of using its economic might (and to a much lesser extent, its currently depleted military) to threaten anyone else. While Germany’s far right is currently a fringe movement, we’ve seen such parties elsewhere in Europe tap into anti-immigrant fervor to build popular support. Nothing says Germany is immune from such demagoguery.

    As such, Germany isn’t just afraid to step ahead of the European and allied consensus, but it is almost embarrassed to tout its Ukrainian aid. As a result, few are aware of just how substantial Germany’s contributions have been and how remarkable they are given their historical aversion to military engagement. Germany won’t have any problem enthusiastically helping Ukraine rebuild after the war. It’s the military side that makes it nervous.

    Can Germany do more? Of course. Everyone can. The United States’ refusal to send long-range ATACMS rockets is beyond frustrating, as has been the long delay in sending Bradleys infantry fighting vehicles. But Germany is doing a great deal. And if it can green-light delivers of Leopard 2s to Ukraine (perhaps at the Jan. 20 Ramstein meeting of Ukraine’s allies), that will go a long way toward assuaging the last lingering doubts about Germany’s commitment.

    But if nothing else, it’s time to retire the eye-rolling and cynicism German suffers when discussing Ukrainian support. They are a key Ukrainian ally and have done more than anyone for Ukraine than anyone else besides the United States.

  78. Reginald Selkirk says

    @117: Don’t forget, Trump was impeached the first time for throwing Ukraine under the bus.

    He was impeached for both interfering with US foreign policy, by withholding the aid to Ukraine, and undermining democracy within the U.S. by asking Zelensky to carry water for him by investigating the Bidens.

  79. says

    During Biden visit, Abbott cries he ‘desperately needs more money’ after wasting billions on stunts

    President Joe Biden traveled to the southern border for the first time during his term this past Sunday, meeting U.S. border officers and local elected officials at El Paso’s busiest port of entry and making an unannounced stop at the border wall.

    While the president didn’t meet any migrants on the heels of announcing a widely-condemned proposal further restricting the U.S. asylum rights of migrants, he toured the El Paso County Migrant Services Center, which aids newly arrived migrants processed and released by federal immigration officials.

    As previously mentioned, Republicans have been obsessed with the topic of Biden not yet visiting the region during his presidency. It’s a disingenuous obsession; their immigration plans consist mostly of border stunts. But, they finally got their wish. Biden went to the border. Their reaction? Predictable projection. Speaker-for-now Kevin McCarthy called the visit a “photo op,” falsely claiming the administration has created “the most dangerous border crisis in American history.”

    Big words from someone who has been a fan of border stunts when he needs some attention off himself. Then this nonsense about the “most dangerous border crisis” ever? Others might argue that the most dangerous breach in American history wasn’t carried out by vulnerable migrants and families seeking refuge in our nation, but rather by insurrectionists who scaled a wall outside the U.S. Capitol two years ago.

    House Republicans, now in power, have been seeking to keep a lid on documents related to the probe into this deadly attack on democracy. But, hey, they chanted “USA!” when they finally put Kevin out of his misery and gave him the gavel (for now) on the fifteenth vote. They just have a funny way of showing they love America.

    But Kevin’s wasn’t the most ridiculous Republican reaction to result from the president’s visit to El Paso. That distinct honor belongs to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. While former Arizona Gov. Jan “headless bodies in the desert” Brewer infamously greeted former President Barack Obama with a finger in his face, Abbott was prepared with a letter, which could have easily been sent to Washington. But he wanted to give it to the president on the tarmac, in front of cameras and eyes, because Republicans love their photo ops. Projection.

    As numerous pointed out on social media, the letter was like Abbott himself: ridiculous. The governor “told media he’d given President Biden a letter with proposed solutions,” El Paso Matters’ Bob Moore tweeted. Laughable. The political letter was loaded with demands that the president is already carrying out, like continuing to enforce the debunked Title 42 policy. Abbott also falsely claimed Biden is “sandbagging the implementation of the Remain-in-Mexico policy.” Sir, the Supreme Court said the president acted lawfully in attempting to end that policy. While a right-wing judge has since said the president can’t end it, Remain in Mexico can’t be fully reinstated without Mexico’s cooperation, and Mexico has said it’s done with the policy.

    Speaking of the Supreme Court, the president is not only continuing the Title 42 order pursuant to its ruling last month, he’s expanded it. That was curiously not mentioned in Abbott’s political letter. But then came a real doozy outside the political letter, when Abbott cried to reporters that his state “desperately needs more money.”

    “I know the Republicans in the US House have committed to providing Texas the money that we need,” Abbott said, according to Business Insider. “We just finished over the past two years spending 4 billion of Texas taxpayer dollars for Texas to fill the gap caused by the Biden administration.”

    This financial hole has been caused by you, Greg. You see, in his bid for political power, Abbott has carried out immigration-related stunt after immigration-related stunt that’s cost the state’s taxpayers billions and led to huge business ramifications for the state. Remember the disastrous stunt where Abbott forced truckers to undergo inspections by state police after their vehicles had already been inspected by U.S. officials? The losses to vegetable and fruit producers alone were estimated at over $240 million.

    Overall, the redundant inspections cost his state $4 billion in losses and turned up nothing. While state inspectors cited a couple of hundred drivers for minor infractions that included under-inflated tires and oil leaks, no migrants or drugs were uncovered. Mexico, by the way, as a result of these shenanigans, decided to reroute a proposed railway through New Mexico instead, pissed off over the stunt.

    None of these even touches on the unrelated, illegal Operation Lone Star, which has cost the state another $4 billion and is currently under investigation by both the Justice Department and the Treasury Department for possibly operating with misused federal pandemic funds. But we’re not quite done yet, folks, because Abbott’s busing of migrants—including sick children—has also cost as much as $20 million, Business Insider said.

    Rep. Veronica Escobar, a great champion of migrants and their rights, also had her own exchange with Abbott, Moore reported. He, at one point, told her that migrants should go to seek asylum at a port of entry, to which she responded that they’re currently not allowed to do that because of Title 42. “He said going between ports is illegal, and I reminded him seeking asylum is legal,” she continued. [Tweet and images at the link]

    […] an intimidation effort by Abbott that orders very corrupt state attorney general Ken Paxton to probe whether non-government groups aiding newly arrived migrants have been engaged in illegal behavior. Abbott, who admitted that he publicly lied about his busing of migrants to blue areas, provided zero evidence and “did not say what prompted the call,” The Texas Tribune reported.

    Texas Republicans have also focused their ire on a pro-migrant Catholic organization. Just like Jesus would do.

    “We were happy to have President Biden come and see first-hand the situation we are facing in El Paso,” said Maria Torres, Senior US Border Program Manager for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “While we know there is not an immediate fix or one that comes from the President alone, hopefully, his visit will shine a light on the dire situation we face and that the President will better understand the realities migrants and asylum seekers face. We urge him to work closely with Congress to develop a long-term solution.”

  80. Reginald Selkirk says

    Belarus Legalizes Piracy of Movies, Music and Software of ‘Unfriendly’ Nations

    Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has signed a new law that legalizes piracy of movies, music, TV shows and software owned by rightsholders from ‘unfriendly countries’. The law also allows goods protected by intellectual property law to be imported from any country without obtaining permission from rightsholders.
    Lukashenko’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to new sanctions being imposed by the EU, U.S. and other countries. In common with Russia, Belarus relies on intellectual property owned by foreign rightsholders that are currently unable or unwilling to supply and/or license it. So, to ensure legal access to pirated movies, music, TV shows and software, the government drafted a new law to restrict intellectual property rights.

  81. Reginald Selkirk says

    Georgia grand jury investigating Trump and 2020 election aftermath completes its work

    Special grand juries in Georgia are not authorized to issue indictments. But the panel will issue a final report that serves as a mechanism for the special grand jury to recommend whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis should pursue indictments in her election interference investigation. Willis can then go to a regularly empaneled grand jury to seek indictments.

  82. says

    […] meet freshman Rep. Cory Mills of Florida who celebrated Kevin McCarthy’s victory in the balloting for House Speaker by tweeting a sick, offensive joke about the attack on former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband: “Finally, one less gavel in the Pelosi house for Paul to fight with in his underwear.”

    Mills represents centrall Florida’s 7th C.D. The seat had been held by Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a member of the House Jan. 6 select committee, who chose not to seek re-election. Her district was gerrymandered in the map pushed through by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to turn it from a swing district into a solidly Republican one. […]

    [posted by Ted Lieu] Dear @SpeakerMcCarthy: Do you condone the below tweet from GOP Congressman @CoryMillsFL? Are you going to say anything about it?

    GOP Rep Mills makes fun of a crime victim of a violent assault who had to undergo emergency surgery to his skull from a hammer attack.

    Posted by Eric Brown:

    Rep Cory Mills, you owe Pelosi, her husband and Swalwell and your constituents an apology for that crude statement. Offensive and very violent in your meaning. Rude, and disrespectful. [The image of Cory Mills that accompanies this tweet has an overlay of text: “I’m a big bad soldier boy who makes fun of the elderly being beaten.”]


  83. says

    NBC News:

    Ben Sasse officially stepped down yesterday as a Republican senator from Nebraska, leaving Congress to become a university president in Florida. Republican Gov. Jim Pillen will appoint a successor, but in the meantime, Democrats will enjoy a 51-48 advantage in the chamber.

  84. says

    NBC News:

    As GOP officials try to embrace mail-in ballots, Donald Trump continues to lobby against postal balloting, clinging to conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact. In a social media missive published late Friday, the former president wrote, “All Republican Governors should immediately begin the process of ENDING MAIL IN BALLOTS (which are fraught with corruption, and always will be!) … Governors have the power and authority to do this. GET IT DONE, or we will never have honest elections in our Country again!”

    In addition to shooting themselves in the foot with blatant infighting and promotion of disinformation, Republicans are also taking incoming fire from Trump.

  85. says

    News summarized by Steve Benen:

    […] while House Speaker Kevin McCarthy finally won the gavel early Saturday morning, one of his fiercest intraparty opponents, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, sent an appeal to donors a day later, continuing to accuse McCarthy of being a “squatter” in the speaker’s office.


  86. Reginald Selkirk says

    Gov. Hochul defends LaSalle as Senate Dem leader Stewart-Cousins casts doubt on confirmation

    Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said Friday that she doesn’t see a path forward for Judge Hector LaSalle, chosen by Hochul to be the state’s next top judge, as a growing number of Senate Dems have voiced opposition to his appointment…
    Hochul said again on Friday that she has no intention of rescinding her pick…
    Critics, including politically-powerful labor unions, criminal justice advocates and progressive lawmakers, have pushed back on LaSalle’s nomination. They argue he is too conservative and that his past work as a prosecutor makes him a poor choice to oversee the state’s sprawling court system.

  87. says

    Reginald Selkirk @ #96:

    Maybe with even wackier people now sworn into the House, [Greene] sees an opportunity to rebrand herself as an elder statesman.

    That’s exactly what she’s trying to do. Her hair, voice, mannerisms,… – all have become more subdued over the past week. She and Stefanik are converging. Tune in for next week’s episodes of The Biggest Coupser and What Not to Wear When You Want to Hide That You’re a Fascist Grifter…

    FTR: “MTG has deleted this video from her Facebook page for 2 years ago, January 6, 2021. In it you can hear her calling Nancy Pelosi a traitor while also extolling the crowd that treason is punishable by death. I thought it was worth reposting.”

    Video at the (Twitter) link.

  88. says

    CBS – “GOP Rep. George Santos faces FEC complaint in first full week in office”:

    Newly sworn-in Congressman George Santos will begin his first week in office facing a formal ethics complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). 

    In a civil complaint filed Monday with the agency and reviewed by CBS News, the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center accused Santos, a Republican from New York, of illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses, including for an apartment rental, and for submitting false information about both the source of his campaign donations and his campaign’s expenses. 

    The D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center questioned how Santos was able to make a sizeable donation to his own campaign in the months before he won a competitive House race on Long Island. The complaint alleged Santos “purported to loan his campaign $705,000 during the 2022 election. But it is far from clear how he could have done so with his own funds, because financial disclosure reports indicate that Santos had only $55,000 to his name in 2020.”

    Monday’s FEC complaint also raised the prospect of international meddling in the election. It alleged: “The concealed true source behind $705,000 in contributions to Santos’s campaign could be a corporation or foreign national — both of which are categorically barred from contributing to federal candidates.”

    The Campaign Legal Center complaint also raised questions about the expenses listed by Santos’ campaign finance reports. Dozens of expenses are listed as costing $199.99 in the Santos campaign expenses filings, just one penny below the $200 threshold for which receipts or itemized details are required by the FEC. The complaint said, “The campaign reported an astounding 40 disbursements between $199 and $200, including 37 disbursements of exactly $199.99. The sheer number of these just-under-$200 disbursements is implausible, and some payments appear to be impossible given the nature of the item or service covered.”

    According to the Campaign Legal Center complaint, some of the listed $199.99 expenses on Santos’s campaign finance filings included Uber rides and hotel accommodations: “The Santos campaign reported making a $199.99 disbursement to the W Hotel South Beach of Miami, Florida on October 13, 2021, for ‘Hotel Stay,’ but the least expensive room available for a midweek stay in October — a one-night, one-room stay for one adult — is priced at more than $700.26.”

    The Santos campaign also reported a $199.99 disbursement to the identity verification company CLEAR for “Travel,” but CLEAR stated in an email that its non-discounted standard annual membership is $189.28. The Santos campaign reported a $199.99 disbursement to JFK Parking, but there is no combination of fees from that airport parking facility that would end in $99.99.

    “Voters deserve the truth. They have a right to know who is spending to influence their vote and their government and they have a right to know how the candidates competing for their vote are spending those funds,” said Adav Noti, senior vice president & legal director at Campaign Legal Center. 

    “George Santos has lied to voters about a lot of things, but while lying about your background might not be illegal, deceiving voters about your campaign’s funding and spending is a serious violation of federal law,” said Noti….

  89. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    White House chief of staff Ron Klain has rung alarm bells via Twitter on what Republicans in the House might try to do as they try to force deep national spending cuts.

    Here’s Klain after Florida Republican representative Michael Waltz went on Fox.

    [“They are going to try to cut Social Security and Medicare. It could not be clearer.”]

    Waltz told Fox: “We have to get spending under control.”

    But amid discussions about defense spending cuts, he added that that that was not his primary target and he was not going to press for cuts “on the backs of our troops.”

    He added: “We can work on reprioritizing defense spending but that’s nibbling around the margins. If you really want to talk about spending, it’s the entitlements program – that’s 70% of the entire budget…if you want to talk about big reforms, I look forward to hearing that from those folks who are pushing towards a balanced budget.”

    Social security is the federal US social insurance program consisting of retirement, disability and survivor benefits, while Medicare is chiefly the government health insurance program for those 65 and older.

    The Washington Post warned in a piece at the weekend that: House Republicans are set to steer the country toward a series of fiscal showdowns as they look to force the White House to agree to massive spending cuts, threatening a return to the political brinkmanship that once nearly crippled the economy and almost plunged the U.S. government into default.

    In a Guardian interview before he retired, Kentucky Democrat John Yarmuth told our Chris Stein last month that the Republican party is now so extreme it could cause the world’s largest economy to default on its debt for the first time ever in its quest to extract concessions from the Biden administration.

  90. says

    Great news:

    NEW: Damar Hamlin has been released from UCHealth & returned home to Buffalo where he will continue care.

    UCHealth doctors explain he’s completing physical & occupational therapy & has been maintaining a regular diet + meeting with family and members of care team.

  91. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The House GOP may eventually win cuts to government spending, but first they’re going to try to pass a bill that will add more than $114bn to the budget deficit.

    The Congressional Budget Office has released its evaluation of the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which would strip the Internal Revenue Service of $71bn in funding that was allocated last year in order to crack down on tax cheats.

    If the funding were withdrawn, revenues would decrease by almost $186bn in the 10 years from 2023, adding to the deficit by more than $114bn.

    The proposal is up for a vote today, assuming the House Republicans pass their proposed rules package.

  92. says

    Armin Arefi:

    BOULEVERSANT. Le père de Mohammad Mehdi Karami, manifestant pendu samedi 7 janvier, embrasse la tombe de Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, autre contestataire exécuté le même jour mais qui n’avait plus aucun parent.« Que je me sacrifie pour toi Seyed Mohammad », lui glisse-t-il en pleurs

    Video at the (Twitter) link. I read yesterday that little was known about this poor kid as he didn’t have any close family. Unbearably sad.

  93. says

    Brazilian authorities are again in control of government buildings attacked by fascist supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, but video from the scene shows extensive damage inside. Thousands of rioters pushed past police lines and broke windows to enter the nation’s Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential residence. Congress and the court were both in recess, and newly elected President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was touring flood damage elsewhere in the nation. Bolsonaro’s supporters instead vented their frustration on the buildings, furnishings, and exhibited artwork.

    Roughly 1,200 Bolsonaro supporters were detained after the attacks, and President Lula, who returned to the capital city of Brasília to survey the damage, promised that the “terrorists” responsible for the destruction “are being identified and punished.”

    The demands of the pro-Bolsonaro rioters remain the same: Fueled by hoaxes very similar to those used to incite the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in this country, Bolsonaro’s hard-right allies are demanding the Brazilian military seize power from Lula, nullifying the results of the nation’s last presidential election. The hoaxes have been boosted by Republican elected officials in this nation and by some of the same fascist provocateurs behind Trump’s attempted coup. Social media companies have also played a vital role, with disinformation running rampant on multiple platforms.

    The military did not step in, and Brazilian authorities now appear to be moving swiftly to investigate and respond to the attack. Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes has suspended the district’s governor for 90 days, publicly accusing district authorities of “consent, and even active participation” in the attacks. Lula, too, is accusing Brasília public security officials of “incompetence, ill will or bad faith.”

    The eagerness of Republican activists and elected officials to help export their anti-democracy hoaxes internationally is also now a consistent pattern; the current war in Ukraine, for example, was preceded by numerous acts to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty on behalf of pro-Russian oligarchs, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson and “conservative” outfits like the Conservative Political Action Committee have boosted anti-democratic Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.

    American conservatives have been heavily boosting the Brazilian far-right in specific, with former Trump adviser Jason Miller attending and co-sponsoring an event in Campinas; at the time of Sunday’s riots, former president Bolsonaro himself was in Florida after leaving to attend a New Year’s party in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club rather than attending Lula’s inauguration ceremonies.


  94. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] There’s such a thing as an A-1 visa which the U.S. reserves for heads of state and high-ranking government officials. Bolsonaro entered the U.S. on his second-to-last day as president. (He pulled a Trump, refusing to participate in the inauguration of his successor.) There’s no way to know specifically without more information from U.S. consular authorities. But according to consular officials and outside experts, Bolsonaro almost certainly entered the U.S. on his A-1 visa.

    Normally, these visas are canceled when an official leaves office. But Reuters sources speculate that since Bolsonaro entered as a head of state his visa probably hasn’t been canceled. Possibly by design, he put the U.S. in an awkward position. Normally, you cancel the visa. But since he’s here on that visa currently, canceling the visa would be tantamount to expelling him from the country.

    (I say this is quite possibly intentional because I want to note the fact that Bolsonaro would have good reason to leave just before leaving office as opposed to just after, quite apart from his visa. If he feared his successor planned his arrest or wouldn’t let him leave the country, leaving in advance of the hand off would make perfect sense. The visa issue would be an added benefit.) […]

  95. says

    Wonkette discusses a story with a Mormon twist:

    In an entirely unsurprising move (even with its current makeup), the Supreme Court has decided not to hear a case brought by three Utah brothers seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election and kick President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris out of office, along with almost 400 members of Congress, and then reinstate Donald Trump as president of the United States. The case was considered on Friday — coincidentally the two-year anniversary of Trump supporters invading the Capitol in hopes of preventing Congress from certifying the election — and on Monday it was announced that the Supreme Court had turned down their petition. [video of band of brothers playing trumpets is available at the link]

    The Brunson Brothers are not just a bunch of conspiracy-obsessed weirdos. They are a bunch of conspiracy-obsessed weirdos in a family band — a Mormon family trumpet band that once played on “The Tonight Show” with some regularity and also regularly performed with Jay Osmond, one of the lesser-known Osmonds.

    While all of the brothers are very upset about the 2020 election, the actual plaintiff in Brunson v. Adams is Raland Brunson, who intended to represent himself. His brother, Loy Brunson, also filed an identical lawsuit, and both of them were written by their other brother, Deron Brunson. Deron Brunson is not a lawyer but took an online course called “How To Win In Court Without A Lawyer,” which is just as good as going to law school. They also have a fourth brother, Gaynor, who was “too busy” to be involved […]

    The whole lawsuit is worth a read if you are looking for a good laugh, but this has to be my favorite part:

    Respondents were properly warned and were requested to make an investigation into a highly covert swift and powerful enemy, as stated below, seeking to destroy the Constitution and the United States, purposely thwarted all efforts to investigate this, whereupon this enemy was not checked or investigated, therefore the Respondents adhered to this enemy. Because of Respondents intentional refusal to investigate this enemy, Petitioner Raland J Brunson (“Brunson”) brought this action against Respondents because he was seriously personally damaged and violated by this action of Respondents, and consequently this action unilaterally violated the rights of every citizen of the U.S.A. and perhaps the rights of every person living, and all courts of law.

    On January 6, 2021, the 117th Congress held a proceeding and debate in Washington DC (“Proceeding”). Proceeding was for the purpose of counting votes under the 2020 Presidential election for the President and Vice President of the United States under Amendment XII. During this Proceeding over 100 members of U.S. Congress claimed factual evidence that the said election was rigged. The refusal of the Respondents to investigate this congressional claim (the enemy) is an act of treason and fraud by Respondents. A successfully rigged election has the same end result as an act of war; to place into power whom the victor wants, which in this case is Biden, who, if not stopped immediately, will continue to destroy the fundamental freedoms of Brunson and all U.S. Citizens and courts of law.

    The absolute drama.

    While you, a normal person, have likely not heard much about Brunson v. Adams, it has been a huge deal for QAnon idiots and conspiracy theorists over the past few months, many of whom truly did believe that this was the thing that was going to finally work. Loy Brunson made all the rounds on kook media, doing interviews on Mike Lindell’s FrankSpeech Internet streaming network, with Juan O Savin (whom some Q people believe is actually John F. Kennedy Jr), Johnny Enlow, Charlie Ward, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Kandiss “Babies and Guns” Taylor. Plus about 12,000 Rumble channels with the word “Patriot” in their name.

    Naturally, many of the faithful are deeply disappointed today and fear they may be running out of “hopium.” They expressed their disappointment on Telegram and other rightwing social media channels. […]

    “Of course. It’s time we stop believing anything is going to go our way. The system is rigged against us, and I’m sorry to say, noones [sic] coming to save us. Just look at Brazil.”

    “I am wondering what they mean by hanging in there at this point…. [they] want us in nooses. 🤬 This is just another bullshit hopium stunt. I agree… and I am done. I will just live my life going forward the best I can, and trust ONLY IN GOD. Good Luck All.The petition argued, essentially, that because people believed the election had been stolen, Congress had an obligation to investigate the claims, and because they didn’t do that, they violated their oaths of office.”


    “Has anyone mentioned that the bad stuff is out pacing the good stuff exponentially? Just an observation. I’m really starting to believe the only way to fix this is civil war. It is scary to think we will have to fight our own military. I’m praying they step in soon, but when they do, I can imagine that we could have elections 120 days later. We don’t even know who good candidates would be. We also need Constitutional law to replace the current law and full declass. That could easily take over a year.”


    Some, however, are still trusting in the plan. As one YouTube user with no inside knowledge of the matter wrote, “A lot going on behind the scenes, military is in control and we have been watching the biggest take down of our Gov. in history, so pray!”

  96. Reginald Selkirk says

    Camp for mobilised Russians burns down in Orenburg Oblast

    A tent camp for mobilised Russians has burned down in Orenburg Oblast, Russia, five days after a similar incident took place in Cheremushki, Omsk Oblast.
    Source: Russian independent media outlet 7×7 – Horizontal Russia
    Quote: “A fire broke out in the [military] training unit in Nizhnyaya Pavlovka on the morning of 9 January. According to one of the mobilised soldiers, the fire engine on duty had apparently run out of pressure.”
    Details: The soldiers had to wait for the emergency services to arrive from the city. The mobilised men also said that drunken officers were probably responsible for the fire. Among other things, tents belonging to mobilised men from Samara Oblast were damaged.

  97. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #140…
    No comment on the suit (though it’s good it got swatted away). As for the brass band aspect… If you want some good work scored for bass, look up Tina Thing Helseth and her Norwegian all-women brass ensemble, TenThing.

  98. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Nancy Mace, one of the moderate Republicans who had voiced hesitation over the rules package, will vote for it, NBC News reports:…

    LOL. “Moderate Republicans.”

  99. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Kevin McCarthy’s tenure as Speaker of the House got off to an awkward start as the California congressman asked “whatever joker” hid his gavel to return it at once.

    “O.K., guys, you’ve had your fun,” McCarthy said, his voice barely audible over the derisive hoots of his fellow-Republicans. “I’m going to count to ten, and then I expect to have my gavel back.”

    “Kev knows how count to ten?” Representative Matt Gaetz asked, after which members of the Freedom Caucus egged him on by chanting, “Gaetz! Gaetz! Gaetz! Gaetz!”

    “C’mon, Matt, stop being such an ass,” McCarthy retorted.

    “I know you are, but what am I?” the Florida congressman shot back.

    Seemingly losing his patience, McCarthy leapt from the podium and attempted to throttle Gaetz before the two were separated by congresswomen Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    In the scuffle’s aftermath, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio defended whoever hid the Speaker’s gavel. “Was today a little messy?” Jordan said. “Yes. But this was democracy at its best.”

    New Yorker link

  100. says

    Dr. Dre yanks Marjorie Taylor Greene’s video that used his music, calls her ‘hateful and divisive’

    Early on Monday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, best known for harassing people all over Washington, D.C., and now all over America, posted a pretty weak sauce video to her Twitter account, ripping the music of the famous Dr. Dre hip-hop song Still Dre. When asked for his opinion on the matter, Dr. Dre stated clearly he had not authorized the use of his music, and the last person in the world he would authorize would be someone “as divisive and hateful as this one (MTG).”

    TMZ is now reporting that Dr. Dre had his legal team take some action, asking Twitter to take the video down. And then guess what happened: Greene says she was locked out of her account. Oh no! Free speech disrupter Elon Musk continues his scattershot leadership! Greene, clearly feeling sad-faced emoji about how people truly detest her, no matter how much money she has and how much power she wields, told the gossip news site, “While I appreciate the creative chord progression, I would never play your words of violence against women and police officers, and your glorification of the thug life and drugs.”

    But you didn’t pick the song because you liked the chord progression, Marjorie. You picked it because of all the machismo and coolness and cultural currency it has. Otherwise you would have to choose between a Ted Nugent song (that hasn’t been cool since people were doing too many quaaludes), and a Kid Rock ditty (who was never actually talented or cool). […]


  101. says

    Travis View: “FYI: I documented the history of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s involvement in QAnon in this thread….” (Twitter link)

    She’s such an idiot.

    Lynna @ #146, OMG, a response to the Travis View thread pointed out that she had just tweeted something with Q language – “they can’t stop what’s coming” – but the link said the video had been removed after a complaint from the copyright holder. Wouldn’t have guessed Dr. Dre! I did see Dr. Dre trending on Twitter earlier, so everything makes sense now!

  102. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Zelensky: Army’s resilience in Soledar allows Ukraine to win time and gain strength.

    “And what did Russia want to gain there? Everything has been completely destroyed, there is almost no life left. And thousands of their people have been lost,” Zelensky said.

    Russian propagandists have reported recently that Wagner, a Kremlin-controlled mercenary group, had allegedly broken the front in Soledar and was fighting Ukrainian forces in the town. Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that the group was about to capture Soledar.

  103. tomh says

    Judge Blocks Much of New Jersey Law Limiting Guns in Public
    By Tracey Tully / Jan. 9, 2023

    A federal judge ruled on Monday that a central component of a new law that limited where handguns may be carried in New Jersey was unconstitutional, severely undercutting the state’s effort to create gun-free zones in public places where crowds gather.

    In a sharply worded decision, Judge Renée Marie Bumb of the U.S. District Court of New Jersey concluded that a half-dozen restrictions in the legislation, adopted less than three weeks ago, were “so extensive and burdensome” that they rendered the right to “armed self-defense in public a nullity.”

    New Jersey, like New York, established an extensive list of places where handgun owners were not permitted to carry weapons in response to a Supreme Court ruling in June that loosened restrictions on carrying guns in public.

    Judge Bumb’s order at least temporarily blocks New Jersey from enforcing much of the new law, and immediately permits licensed handgun owners to carry weapons in nightclubs, theaters, arenas, concert halls, racetracks and museums, among other places, pending further court action.

    “As plaintiffs lament, the challenged provisions force a person permitted to carry a firearm in New Jersey to ‘navigate a veritable minefield,’” wrote Judge Bumb, who was nominated to the lifetime position in 2006 by President George W. Bush.

    Monday’s decision underscores the difficulty facing states hoping to preserve strict handgun laws in the wake of the Supreme Court case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which upended decades of policy….

    Judge Bumb’s order also unraveled provisions in the New Jersey law that made it illegal to transport an unsecured, loaded handgun in a vehicle or carry one into any private establishment that had not posted signs explicitly stating that weapons were permitted.

    Her ruling was pointed, rejecting the state’s claim that blocking portions of the law would “short-circuit the democratic process.”

    “The state has had six months since Bruen to identify well-established and representative historical analogues,” she wrote, referring to a standard set by Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court who wrote for the majority in a 6-to-3 decision.

    “Their dragging of feet is evidence that no such historical tradition and evidence exists,” she added.

    She also wrote that the state had “presented no historical support to permit New Jersey to restrict concealed carry in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.”

    Before New Jersey adopted its revised law, for example, applicants for so-called carry permits needed to demonstrate a justifiable need for a gun in public places, a policy that eliminated most people other than law enforcement officers.

    New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation, has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. In 2020, it also had the country’s third-lowest rate of gun violence deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  104. says

    Chris Hayes is reporting (based on Punchbowl reporting) that there’s a secret addendum to the House rules package that the House Democrats haven’t been allowed to see; he said it’s unclear whether or not all of the Republicans in the House have seen it. And they voted to pass it. Is that even legal, WTF?

  105. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #154…
    That’s deeply concerned about balancing the budget when a Democrat is President or any time it looks like the IRS might start enforcing the tax laws on rich people. So this is a twofer.

  106. Reginald Selkirk says

    Police: Suspect in shootings targeting politicians’ homes, offices is in custody on unrelated charges

    Less than a week after Albuquerque police announced they were investigating whether shots fired into the homes of some elected officials and near the offices of others are connected to one another, they say they have a suspect in custody on unrelated charges.
    They have also recovered the firearm used in one of the shootings, Police Chief Harold Medina said.
    However, he remained tight-lipped on all other details, except to say the suspect is a man under the age of 50. He would not say what he is charged with, when he was arrested, if he was working with anyone else, or where he is being held.
    At a news conference announcing the development Monday afternoon, Medina said detectives are still executing search warrants and trying to determine whether the suspect is responsible for all the shootings, or just one…

    It seems a bit odd to hold a press conference in order to say that you can’t say anything.
    Otherwise, progress.

  107. KG says

    Reginald Selkirk@160,
    Cause of death “unknown”, and they were Covid disinformation spreaders. One has to wonder…

  108. raven says

    “Ukrainian military: Russia compiling lists of schoolchildren for future mobilization”
    No surprise.
    The Russians are taking heavy casualties and most likely few Russians are volunteering to by cannon fodder.

    The Russian dead are estimated by Ukraine at 110,000 and wounded would be 2-3 times that.
    I’m always struck by how passive the Russian people are.
    These are their children dying in Ukraine for nothing much.
    In the USA, we lost 58,000 Americans in Vietnam and it wrecked the USA. The majority of people turned against the war and funding the war without raising taxes set off the first vicious inflation in the USA.

    (We are still paying for that war. Half of the homeless in my area are military veterans. Some of them are from the Vietnam era. People who work with the homeless say that group is dying off rapidly.)

    Ukrainian military: Russia compiling lists of schoolchildren for future mobilization

    Ukrainian military: Russia compiling lists of schoolchildren for future mobilization
    by The Kyiv Independent news desk
    January 10, 2023 5:43 am

    Citing the local underground resistance, the Ukrainian military’s National Resistance Center said the Russian military is compiling lists of those who can be mobilized into the army after graduation, starting with those who will come of age in 2023.

    The center also said that children born in 2005-2006 in Russian-occupied territories in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts must already register for compulsory military service.

    In its report, the center called on the parents of school children in Russian-occupied territories to take their children to a safer location.

    Earlier on Jan. 6, the center reported that Russia is preparing a new wave of mobilization in occupied Ukrainian territories. In the Russian-occupied city of Horlivka in Donetsk Oblast, the Russian military is planning to mobilize 2,000 people and has increased patrols in the town to look for men of conscription age.

    To bolster its forces fighting near Sievierodonetsk in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk Oblast, Russia also stepped up mobilization in occupied parts of the oblast in early December, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said.

  109. says

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

    Two British men have gone missing in Ukraine, the UK Foreign Office has said. The men were named in reports as volunteers Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry. The pair were last known to have been travelling from Kramatorsk to Soledar on 6 January, according to Sky News. Images of Parry taken shortly before he disappeared have been published by Reuters.

    The Russian mercenary group Wagner has said it is fighting “heavy, bloody battles” for control of the town of Soledar as part of Moscow’s months-long offensive to capture Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

    Wagner’s claims appeared to be confirmed by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), which suggested that most of Soledar, a small town about six miles (10km) north of the key city of Bakhmut, was in Russian hands after Moscow continued to make “tactical advances”.

    The MoD said the efforts in Soledar over the past four days appeared to be aimed at encircling Bakhmut, although it added it believed that scenario was unlikely at present.

    Fighting in Soledar has reached its western outskirts as Ukrainian and Russian forces fight for control of the town’s salt mine, the tunnels of which have been eyed by Wagner as they can accommodate troops and armoured vehicles.

    A feature of the battle near Bakhmut is that some of the fighting has been around entrances to disused salt mine tunnels that honeycomb the area, with the MoD update adding:

    Both sides are likely concerned that [the tunnels] could be used for infiltration behind their lines.

    Beyond the salt mine, the Russian offensive appeared aimed at gaining control of the road beyond and the settlements of Blahodatne and Krasna Hora to the immediate north of Bakhmut.

  110. raven says

    Lynette Hardaway, Diamond of the pro-Trump commentators Diamond and Silk, has died aged 51.

    Likely actually did die from the Covid-19 virus.

    I looked around the net and apparently she caught Covid-19 virus in November and ended up in the hospital. It is for sure that she got sick with something at that time.
    She was in the hospital for weeks which is a sign that she had a severe case and wasn’t recovering from it.

  111. says

    Guardian – “Twelve European countries broke temperature records in 2022”:

    Twelve European countries broke monthly temperature records in 2022 as the continent recorded its hottest ever summer, new analysis shows.

    Of 27 European countries analysed by the Guardian, 12 recorded their highest ever temperature anomaly for at least one month in 2022. In each case, the anomalies were more than 1.9C above the average temperature recorded between 1991 and 2020 for at least one month.

    The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) released new data on Tuesday showing Europe recorded its second warmest year on record, and its hottest ever summer.

    [C3S deputy director Samantha] Burgess said that “right now we’re running globally at 1.2C of warming above the pre-industrial average. That means we’re very close to the Paris agreement’s cut-off of 1.5C of warming.

    “Every fraction of a degree matters. The warmer the global climate, the more extreme weather events we have. They’re more intense, they’re more frequent, and this has implications not only for people but also for ecosystems, biodiversity and habitats.”

    In response to the findings, Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, said: “Annual and monthly average temperature records are continuing to tumble across the world. This is entirely to be expected and fits in well with scientific predictions that have been made for several decades.

    “Big monthly increases in average temperature in individual locations show us how we, as individual people, how our wider society and economy, and the natural world, are going to be increasingly impacted by rising temperatures.

  112. says

    Guardian – “Ministers to unveil anti-strike laws as disputes continue to paralyse UK”:

    Ministers are to unveil controversial new legislation designed to curb the effectiveness of strike action as industrial disputes continue to paralyse services across the UK.

    The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has previously said the bill will enforce a “basic” level of service from different sectors if workers choose to strike.

    The legislation is likely to face a difficult passage in the House of Lords and a legal challenge by unions once it is passed – meaning minimum service levels are unlikely to be able to be enforced for many months….

    This article has a large selection of quotes from government representatives, including extensive quotes from Grant Shapps (introduced initially as “Shapps,” oddly enough), vs. a tiny number from union representatives.

  113. says

    CNN – “Russian artillery fire down nearly 75%, US officials say, in latest sign of struggles for Moscow”:

    As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its 11th month, US and Ukrainian officials tell CNN that Russia’s artillery fire is down dramatically from its wartime high, in some places by as much as 75 percent.

    US and Ukrainian officials don’t yet have a clear or singular explanation. Russia may be rationing artillery rounds due to low supplies, or it could be part of a broader reassessment of tactics in the face of successful Ukrainian offenses.

    Either way, the striking decline in artillery fire is further evidence of Russia’s increasingly weak position on the battlefield nearly a year into its invasion, US and Ukrainian officials told CNN. It also comes as Ukraine is enjoying increased military support from its western allies, with the US and Germany announcing last week that they will be providing Ukrainian forces for the first time with armored fighting vehicles, as well as another Patriot Defense missile battery that will help protect its skies.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is apparently clambering to shore up domestic political support, US intelligence officials believe, for a war he initially would only describe as a limited “special military operation.”

    US officials believe the 36-hour [fake] ceasefire Putin ordered in Ukraine last week to allow for the observance of Orthodox Christmas was an attempt to pander to Russia’s extensive Christian population, two people familiar with the intelligence told CNN, as well as an opportunity for Putin to blame Ukrainians for breaking it and paint them as heretical heathens.

    The Russians’ declining rate of fire is not linear, one US defense official noted, and there are days when Russians still fire far more artillery rounds – particularly around the eastern Ukrainian cities of Bakhmut and Kreminna, as well as some near Kherson in the south.

    US and Ukrainian officials have offered widely different estimates of Russian fire, with US officials saying the rate has dropped from 20,000 rounds per day to around 5,000 per day on average. Ukraine estimates that the rate has dropped from 60,000 to 20,000 per day.

    But both estimates point to a similar downward trend.

    While Russia still has more artillery ammunition available than Ukraine does, early US assessments vastly overestimated the amount that Russia had its disposal, a US military official said, and underestimated how well the Ukraimians would do at hitting Russian logistics sites.

    It appears now that Russia is focused more on bolstering its defense fortifications, particularly in central Zaporizhzhia, the UK Ministry of Defense reported in its regular intelligence update on Sunday. The movements suggest that Moscow is concerned about a potential Ukrainian offensive either there or in Luhansk, the ministry said.

    “A major Ukrainian breakthrough in Zaporizhzhia would seriously challenge the viability of Russia’s ‘land-bridge’ linking Russia’s Rostov region and Crimea,” the ministry said, while Ukrainian success in Luhansk would “undermine Russia’s professed war aim of ‘liberating’ the Donbas.”

    Ukraine’s counter-offensives last fall targeting Kherson in the south and Kharkiv in the north resulted in humiliating defeats for Russia – and were aided enormously by sophisticated western weaponry like HIMARS rocket launchers, Howitzer artillery systems and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that the US had previously been reluctant to provide.

    “The fact of the matter is we have been self-deterring ourselves for over a year now,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of US Army Europe and NATO Allied Land Command and currently a senior advisor for Human Rights First.

    “There’s been so much anxiety about the possibility of Russia’s escalation – I mean ten months ago, there was concern about giving Stingers…obviously that’s ridiculous, and it looks ridiculous now.”

    Prigozhin’s ambitions are not limited to greater political power,…the US believes. There are also indications that he wants to take control over the lucrative salt and gypsum from mines near Bakhmut, a senior administration official tells CNN.

    “This is consistent with Wagner’s modus operandi in Africa, where the group’s military activities often function hand in hand with control of mining assets,” the official said, adding that the US believes these monetary incentives are driving Prigozhin and Russia’s “obsession” with taking Bakhmut.

    The official also said that Wagner Group has suffered heavy casualties in its operations near Bakhmut since late November.

    “Out of its force of nearly 50,000 mercenaries (including 40,000 convicts), the company has sustained over 4,100 killed and 10,000 wounded, including over 1,000 killed between late November and early December near Bakhmut,” the official said, adding that about 90% of those killed were convicts.

    The official said that Russia “cannot sustain these kinds of losses.”

    “If Russia does eventually seize Bakhmut, Russia will surely characterize this, misleadingly, as a ‘major victory,” the official added. “But we know that is not the case. If the cost for each 36 square miles of Ukraine [the approximate size of Bakhmut] is thousands of Russians over seven months, this is the definition of Pyrrhic victory.”

  114. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Russian TV channel Dozhd, also known as TV Rain, has been granted a five-year broadcasting licence in the Netherlands after its licence had been cancelled in Latvia, the Dutch media authority announced.

    The permit will “provide a commercial television broadcasting service as a commercial media institution,” the regulator said….

  115. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Armenia has refused to host Russia-led military military drills this year, in a move that reflects Yerevan’s growing tensions with Moscow and Vladimir Putin’s increasingly loose grip on Russia’s regional allies in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

    Russia had announced earlier this month that Armenia would host the annual exercises of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a Russian-led alliance of post-Soviet countries which comprises Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

    But Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, was cited by Interfax news agency as saying:

    The Armenian defence minister has informed the CSTO Joint Staff that in the current situation, we consider it unreasonable to hold CSTO exercises on the territory of Armenia. At least, such exercises will not take place in Armenia this year.

    Pashinyan’s move followed his refusal to sign a summit declaration from a meeting of the leaders of CSTO member nations in his country’s capital in November.

    During a “family” photograph of CSTO leaders, Pashinyan stepped away from Putin [I adore this detail], later railing against the recent failures of the CSTO.

    He expressed frustration at the lack of a response to his formal request for the CSTO to intervene on Armenia’s behalf after his country came under fresh attack from across the border with Azerbaijan in September.

    Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in an on-and-off conflict for three decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but largely controlled by the majority ethnic Armenian population.

    Asked about Pashinyan’s announcement, the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would ask Yerevan to clarify its position.

  116. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, made a surprise trip to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv today and confirmed that Berlin had promised to send more weapons to Kyiv, the German foreign ministry said.

    Baerbock met with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, who said he had “no doubts further German military aid will come” after Berlin announced it would supply Kyiv with Marder infantry fighting vehicles and an additional Patriot air defence battery.

    Ukrainians “should know that they can rely on our solidarity and support,” Baerbock said in a statement on her ministry’s website.

    She also said it was important not to lose sight of Ukraine’s place in Europe and its desire to join the EU, as Ukrainians “see their future in Europe, in the EU”.

    That is why I would also like to talk about the progress made in the accession process. As the Federal Government, we want to make very concrete offers to Ukraine in order to make progress in strengthening the rule of law, independent institutions and the fight against corruption, as well as in aligning with EU standards.

  117. says

    McCarthy’s miniscule majority marches on to fascism in Day Two of legislative work

    It’s Day Two on the march to fascism in the House of Representatives under Republican rule, after their internal struggle last week to put a figurehead in the Speaker’s seat. On Monday, they passed a rules package that guarantees more chaos and a government shutdown. […]

    They also passed a series of budget rules that will guarantee a confrontation with the Democratic Senate and White House when it comes time to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government, guaranteeing a government shutdown. […] And because they are so fiscally conservative [/sarcasm], they also passed that bill to strip the IRS of the $70 billion it received last year in the big end-of-the-year funding package, a move that would add $114 billion to the deficit over the next decade. [As noted by Reginald in comment 154]

    They’re following up on Tuesday by authorizing Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan’s new McCarthy-style witch trial committee (Joe McCarthy, that is). They call it the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” in which they will weaponize the House against perceived political enemies.

    Those enemies would be the people investigating Donald Trump, the insurrectionists, and any other MAGA entity. This committee will have to fight the Department of Justice in courts, as Laura Clawson pointed out, because Justice will not just hand over information on its “ongoing criminal investigations.”

    Which is why, in addition to authorizing this committee, Republicans reinstated a thing called the Holman Rule in their rules package. That allows them to target and defund single individuals, offices, and agencies in the federal government. Any investigator or prosecutor of a MAGA Republican […] will be the target, the House GOP defunding their salaries and operating budgets. Except, of course, they can’t—because there’s a Democratic Senate and a White House which won’t go along with that. Here’s where people need to let the MAGA example be their guide—ignore the subpoenas. Force Jordan to go to court to enforce them and fight it out until this Congress is dissolved and Republicans are no longer in control, because this Republican House won’t survive the next election.

    By the way, while they’re trying to shut down criminal investigations of Donald Trump, the House GOP took the extraordinary measure of providing additional protection to the insurrectionists supporting him and that new guy [George Santos], the one who got there by—I am not making this up—having his campaign chief impersonate McCarthy’s chief of staff in fundraising calls. [LOL] They voted in that rules package to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which is as telling as it gets about this GOP.

    […] The rule imposes retroactive term limits on the governing board, immediately kicking three Democrats off the board. They can be replaced by Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, which is going to take time.

    In two days’ time, the “fiscally conservative” GOP House will have voted to increase the deficit, and the “drain the swamp” team will have voted to protect the people who tried to overthrow the government and give a free pass to anyone in Congress who wants to do it again.

  118. says

    Summarized by Steve Benen from an NBC News story:

    In California, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein hasn’t yet finalized her 2024 plans, but Rep. Katie Porter isn’t waiting for the incumbent’s decision: The Democratic congresswoman kicked off her own Senate campaign this morning.

    I really hope that Katie Porter does replace Feinstein. I hope Feinstein is wise enough to drop out of the race. It is time for her to retire.

  119. Reginald Selkirk says

    Madison Cawthorn never bothered to hand over constituent casework to the successor who beat him and it’s now a gigantic mess

    Members of Congress, outside of legislating, provide a series of services for members of their districts. This includes help obtaining government resources, casework, US Service Academy nominations, and more.
    And when a legislator departs Congress, they’re expected to pass along any casework and ongoing constituent services information to their successor in order to maintain guidance and leadership for their constituents. The deadline for signing over the database of information was December 23, 2022.
    Cawthorn, his successor said, failed to do that.
    Edwards is a fellow Republican who dispatched Cawthorn in a primary…

  120. Reginald Selkirk says

    Over 600 Russian agents and spies exposed since beginning of full-scale Russian invasion

    Quote: “Since the beginning of the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation, the Security Service has been investigating more than 1,500 criminal proceedings on the facts of treason and espionage. Over 340 of them have been sent to court.
    During this period, the SSU exposed more than 600 Russian agents and spies who were conducting intelligence and subversive activities against our state.”
    Details: In particular, a sabotage and reconnaissance group of Russian military intelligence was detained in August.
    Russian agents have been plotting the assassination of the Minister of Defence and the head of the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, as well as a well-known Ukrainian activist.
    A Russian intelligence group has been exposed in Kyiv; it included officials of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The officials handed Russia intelligence on the arrangement of the state border and personal data of Ukrainian law enforcement officers.
    In addition, Russian agents have been detained in the city of Khmelnytskyi, Volyn Oblast, and Mykolaiv.

  121. says

    SC @153, and that secret addendum is three pages long. You can fit a lot of nasty, fascistic rules into three pages.

    Punchbowl News:

    The rules package was at the center of McCarthy’s fight for the speakership. … However, there’s also a secret three-page addendum that McCarthy and his allies hashed out during several days of grueling negotiations with the House Freedom Caucus. This pact includes the most controversial concessions McCarthy made in order to become speaker — three seats on the Rules Committee for conservatives, freezing spending at FY2022 levels, a debt-ceiling strategy, coveted committee assignments and more.


    […] if this is correct, McCarthy struck two deals, not one. There’s the official rules package, which is publicly available and received a vote on the House floor, and then there’s the side deal, which is rumored to have circulated in the form of “a secret three-page addendum.”

    Complicating matters, there’s some disagreement as to whether such a document actually exists.

    Republican Rep. Ken Calvert, a member of the House Steering Committee, said on the record yesterday that he was “taking a look at” and “going through” the document. Asked about whether other members had received a copy of the three-page addendum, the Californian added, “I don’t know if everybody has.”

    Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina, the new chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also said he’s seen it.

    […] Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, [said] “I’m not at liberty to discuss whether I’ve seen it or not.” He added, however, that “there’s pretty widespread understanding of the context of it,” apparently referring to the agreement he was reluctant to acknowledge.

    The new House speaker, meanwhile, reportedly denied the existence of the addendum to his members this morning, saying there’s no “official document,” and some other House Republicans have said the same thing. [weasel words]

    McCarthy also boasted via Twitter this morning that the new GOP majority was increasing “transparency” and creating a “more open” Congress. [bullshit]

    It was certainly a nice sentiment, though the claims were belied by a disagreement among Republicans about the existence of “a secret three-page addendum” listing private deals the speaker allegedly struck with extremist lawmakers.

    […] A Wall Street Journal report, published late yesterday, “Two people familiar with the negotiations said that any agreement Mr. McCarthy made with his onetime detractors wouldn’t be released in writing ahead of the rules vote, and maybe not ever.”

    Fascists hiding behind closed doors and secret documents.

  122. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #176…
    Second that. Feinstein is well past her Sell By date. While she started out reasonably liberal, what liberal is has passed her by some time ago.

  123. Reginald Selkirk says

    Politico Reporter Out After ‘Hitler Youth’ Tweet About Pope Benedict

    Cybersecurity reporter Eric Geller is no longer with Politico after more than six years with the political news outlet. His sudden departure came after sparking controversy with a since-deleted tweet about the late Pope Benedict XVI.
    “Homophobic pedophile protector and Hitler Youth alumnus dead at 95,” Geller tweeted on December 31, sharing a story about the former pontiff’s death…

    Why should that be controversial? It is true.

  124. says

    What Republicans don’t seem to realize is that the story about Joe Biden’s classified documents makes Donald Trump look worse, not better.

    After the FBI executed a court-approved search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump and many of his Republican allies pushed a curious defense: The former president’s actions weren’t that serious, the argument went, because so many others had done the same thing.

    As regular readers might recall, this didn’t go well. Trump’s first push was to draw a connection between his controversy and Hillary Clinton’s emails, though this didn’t work because the stories have so little in common. This led Trump to shift gears and argue that Barack Obama also took classified secrets and clashed with the National Archives. This proved to be utterly bonkers.

    Trump also took an interest in George W. Bush’s emails, but the story proved irrelevant. He then tried to argue that George H.W. Bush took sensitive materials to an unsecured former bowling alley, but the entire line of attack quickly collapsed.

    The pattern was tough to miss: Trump kept looking for a parallel example that might help diminish the seriousness of his scandal. Every attempt failed spectacularly.

    Now, the boys who cried wolf are trying the same move once again. NBC News reported overnight:

    A “small number of documents” with classified markings that appear to be from the Obama administration were found at a think tank in Washington tied to President Joe Biden and are under review by the Justice Department and the National Archives, a White House lawyer said Monday. The documents were discovered in a locked closet by Biden’s attorneys days before the midterm elections as they prepared to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a statement.

    The report added that the incumbent Democratic president learned of the materials’ existence when his lawyers told Biden of their discovery.

    It didn’t take long for his predecessor to start the process — the one he tried with Clinton, Obama and both Bushes — all over again. “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?” Trump asked by way of his social media platform.

    Soon after, the Republican started making up new details that he thought sounded interesting and pretended that the claims were real. In one instance last night, for example, Trump insisted that Chinese officials “saw the Classified Documents!” An hour later, he suggested that Biden might’ve “given” the “Highly Classified Documents” to China.

    No sensible person could take such nonsense seriously, but Trump’s Republican allies nevertheless picked up on the former president’s general message: House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said Biden and Trump did “the same thing.”

    And just as these talking points failed before, they’re failing again now — because Biden and Trump clearly did not do “the same thing.”

    Look, this isn’t complicated, and there’s no reason to play silly games. Trump took hundreds of classified materials to his glorified country club. He ignored requests to return them. He failed to comply with a federal subpoena. He lied repeatedly. He returned some documents, but held onto others, all while refusing to cooperate in good faith. He even proposed a possible trade in which he’d consider giving the documents back, but only if officials gave him something else in return.

    To see the Biden story as identical is clearly insane. Based on all of the available information, the Democrat appears to have inadvertently moved a “small number of documents” with classified markings to the Penn Biden Center. The National Archives didn’t request the materials’ return because officials didn’t know they were missing.

    Biden’s representatives found the documents and immediately informed the Archives know about the discovery. The materials were then quickly returned to the authorities.

    If Trump had done the same thing, he wouldn’t be facing a criminal investigation. It’s not illegal to accidentally have classified documents; it’s illegal to take them and refuse to give them back. [Trump did not “accidentally” have classified documents.]

    Indeed, the great irony of last night’s hullabaloo is that it gets the bigger picture backwards: What Republicans don’t seem to realize is that the story about Biden’s classified documents makes Trump look worse, not better.


  125. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lawsuit Reveals Trump Can’t Stand Being Compared to Hitler

    Former President Donald Trump is doubling down on his “I am not Hitler” defamation lawsuit against CNN by adopting the Nazi strategy of attacking journalists as liars, with court papers claiming—without irony—that “Americans are split when asked if the media is actually an enemy of democracy.”
    Since October, Trump has been waging war against the Cable News Network over the way it has increasingly drawn comparisons between his Make America Great Again movement and the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Germany.
    But in the latest court filings, Trump’s lawyers paradoxically argued that now is the “perfect” time to peel back First Amendment protections for American journalists by asking courts to review legal precedent established in a 1964 case called New York Times v. Sullivan…

  126. tomh says

    @ #184
    I wouldn’t pay much attention to the “moderate” Rep. Nancy Mace. She’s built her career on attacking abortion rights (100% rating from Right to Life Committee.)

  127. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    “Heavy fighting continues for Soledar.

    “The enemy does not pay attention to its large losses.. the approaches to our positions are littered with the bodies of dead enemy fighters.

    “Our fighters bravely defend themselves” – deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar

  128. whheydt says

    Re: SC (Salty Current) @ #189…
    That’s the way I read it. Depression isn’t fatal, in and of itself.

  129. whheydt says

    ATHENS, Greece — Constantine, the former and last king of Greece, has died at a private hospital in Athens, his doctors announced late Tuesday. He was 82.

    Staff at the private Hygeia Hospital in Athens confirmed to The Associated Press that Constantine has died after treatment in an intensive care unit but had no further details pending an official announcement.

    When he acceded to the throne as Constantine II at the age of 23 in 1964, the youthful monarch, who had already achieved glory as an Olympic gold medalist in sailing, was hugely popular. By the following year he had squandered much of that support with his active involvement in the machinations that brought down the popularly elected Center Union government of prime minister George Papandreou.

    The episode, still widely known in Greece as the “apostasy,” or defection from the ruling party of several lawmakers, destabilized the constitutional order and led in 1967 to a military coup. Constantine eventually clashed with the military rulers and was forced into exile. The dictatorship abolished the monarchy in 1973 while a referendum after democracy was restored in 1974 dashed any hopes that Constantine had of ever reigning again.

    Reduced in the following decades to only fleeting visits to Greece that raised a political and media storm each time, he was able in his waning years to settle again in his home country, when opposing his presence no longer held currency as a badge of vigilant republicanism. With minimal nostalgia for the monarchy in Greece, Constantine became a relatively uncontroversial figure from the past.

    Constantine was born June 2, 1940 in Athens, to Prince Paul, younger brother to King George II and heir presumptive to the throne, and princess Federica of Hanover. His older sister Sophia is the wife of former King Juan Carlos I of Spain. The Greek-born Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh and husband of the United Kingdom’s late Queen Elizabeth II, was an uncle.

    The family, which had ruled in Greece from 1863 apart from a 12-year republican interlude between 1922-1935, was descended from Prince Christian, later Christian IX of Denmark, of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg branch of the Danish ruling family.

    Before Constantine’s first birthday, the royal family was forced to flee Greece during the German invasion in World War II, moving to Alexandria in Egypt, South Africa and back to Alexandria. King George II returned to Greece in 1946, following a disputed referendum, but died a few months later, making Constantine the heir to King Paul I.

    Constantine was educated at a boarding school and then attended all three military academies as well as Athens Law School classes as preparation for his future role. He also competed in various sports, including sailing and karate, in which he held a black belt.

    In 1960, aged 20, he and two other Greek sailors won a gold medal in the Dragon Class — now no longer an Olympic class — at the Rome Olympics. While still a prince, Constantine was elected a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1963, and became an honorary member for life in 1974.

    King Paul I died of cancer on March 6, 1964 and Constantine succeeded him, weeks after the Center Union party had triumphed over the conservatives with 53% of the vote.

    The prime minister, George Papandreou, and Constantine initially had a very close relationship, but it soon soured over Constantine’s insistence that control of the armed forces was the monarch’s prerogative.

    With many officers toying with the idea of a dictatorship and viewing any non-conservative government as soft on communism, Papandreou wanted to control the ministry of defense and eventually demanded to be appointed defense minister as well. After an acrimonious exchange of letters with Constantine, Papandreou resigned in July 1965.

    Constantine’s insistence on appointing a government composed of centrist defectors that won a narrow parliamentary majority on the third try was hugely unpopular. Many viewed him as being manipulated by his scheming mother, dowager Queen Frederica. “The people don’t want you, take your mother and go!” became the rallying cry in the protests, often violent, that rocked Greece in the summer of 1965.

    Eventually, Constantine made a truce of sorts with Papandreou and, with his agreement, appointed a government of technocrats and, then, a conservative-led government to hold an election in May 1967.

    But, with the polls heavily favoring the Center Union and with Papandreou’s left-leaning son, Andreas, gaining in popularity, Constantine and his courtiers feared revenge and with the aid of high-ranking officers prepared a coup.

    However, a group of lower-ranking officers, led by colonels, were preparing their own coup and, apprised of Constantine’s plans by a mole, a general whom they had won over to their side, proclaimed a dictatorship on April 21, 1967.

    Constantine was taken by surprise and his feelings toward the new rulers were obvious in the official photo of the new government. He pretended to go along with them, while preparing a counter-coup with the help of troops in northern Greece and the navy, which was loyal to him.

    On December 13, 1967, Constantine and his family flew to the northern city of Kavala with the intent to march on Thessaloniki and set up a government there. The counter-coup, badly managed and infiltrated, collapsed and Constantine was forced to flee to Rome the following day. He would never return as reigning king.

    The junta appointed a regent and, after an abortive Navy counter-coup in May 1973, abolished the monarchy on June 1, 1973. A July plebiscite, widely considered rigged, confirmed the decision.

    When the dictatorship collapsed in July 1974, Constantine was eager to return to Greece but was advised against it by veteran politician Constantine Karamanlis, who returned from exile to head a civilian government. Karamanlis, who had also headed the government between 1955-63, was a conservative but had clashed with the court over what he considered its excessive interference in politics.

    After his triumphal win in November elections, Karamanlis called for a plebiscite on the monarchy for December 8, 1974. Constantine was not allowed in the country to campaign, but the result was unambiguous and widely accepted: 69.2% voted in favor of a republic.

    Soon after, Karamanlis famously said that the nation had rid itself of a cancerous growth. Constantine said on the day following the referendum that “national unity must take precedence … I wholeheartedly wish that developments will justify the result of yesterday’s vote.”

    To his final days, Constantine, while accepting that Greece was now a republic, continued to style himself King of Greece and his children as princes and princesses even though Greece no longer recognized titles of nobility.

    For most of his years in exile he lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, and was said to be especially close to his second cousin Charles, the Prince of Wales and now King Charles III.

    While it took Constantine 14 years to return to his country, briefly, to bury his mother, Queen Federica in 1981, he multiplied his visits thereafter and, from 2010, made his home there. There were continued disputes: in 1994, the then socialist government stripped him of his nationality and expropriated what remained of the royal family’s property. Constantine sued at the European Court of Human Rights and was awarded 12 million euros in 2002, a fraction of the 500 million he had sought.

    Constantine travelled with a Danish passport, as a Danish prince.

    He is survived by his wife, the former Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, youngest sister of Queen Margrethe II; five children, Alexia, Pavlos, Nikolaos, Theodora and Philippos; and nine grandchildren.

  130. Reginald Selkirk says

    @80 Anderson Torres
    Brazil riots: Arrests ordered for top officials after capital stormed

    Brazil’s judicial authorities have ordered the arrest of top public officials after rioters stormed key government buildings in Brasília…
    Earlier on Tuesday, the federal intervenor in public security accused Mr Torres of “a structured sabotage operation”.
    Ricardo Cappelli, who has been appointed to run security in Brasília, said there was a “lack of command” from Mr Torres before government buildings were stormed.
    Lula’s inauguration on 1 January was “an extremely successful security operation,” Mr Cappelli told CNN.
    What changed before Sunday was that, on 2 January, “Anderson Torres took over as Secretary of Security, dismissed the entire command and travelled”, he said.
    “If this isn’t sabotage, I don’t know what is,” Mr Cappelli added…

  131. StevoR says

    Breaking news – child molesting scumbag, homophobic child rape enabler and coverer upper and convicted by a jury beyond reasonable doubt and Aussie politial far reichwing puppet-master Pell has died sheltered by the world’s largest sex-trafficking and abusive overgrown cult Good riddance but tragic that he never served more time and justice delayed was justice denied :

    Bet the bastards make it hard for people to piss on his grave.

  132. says

    whheydt @ #191, I’m not sure why I was trying to be so delicate. Didn’t occur to me that my post could be read in that way, but I very much didn’t want to give the impression that I thought that was possible, which I don’t, to put it mildly, so thank you for calling attention to it.

  133. Reginald Selkirk says

    Capitol riot trial starts for man with feet on Pelosi desk

    Richard “Bigo” Barnett had a stun gun tucked into his pants when he stormed the Capitol, invaded Pelosi’s office and posed for a photo that became one of the attack’s more well-known images, prosecutors said. He also took a piece of her mail and left behind a note that said, “Nancy, Bigo was here,” prosecutors said. Barnett punctuated the message with a sexist expletive…

  134. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russian Officials Throw a Tantrum After U.S. Diplomat Calls Putin ‘Small Man’

    The U.S. ambassador to Hungary is the latest American official to earn the Kremlin’s ire over remarks he made last week publicly deriding Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “small man” and “a holdover from a time that most of the world has tried to move beyond.”
    In a speech on Jan. 6 commemorating the 45th Anniversary of the Return of the Hungarian Holy Crown, Ambassador David Pressman took the opportunity to slam Russia’s war as the product of “tyranny” and “authoritarianism” before taking a jab directly aimed at Putin…

  135. tomh says

    I would change the order of the top 3, for me it’s, 1. Kareem, 2. MJ, 3 LBJ. But then, I watched Kareem play in my youth and that no doubt colors my opinion. Every list is obviously an opinion, and for anyone to say “It is so! PERIOD” makes no sense at all.

  136. Reginald Selkirk says

    Controversy erupts over non-consensual AI mental health experiment

    On Friday, Koko co-founder Rob Morris announced on Twitter that his company ran an experiment to provide AI-written mental health counseling for 4,000 people without informing them first, The Verge reports. Critics have called the experiment deeply unethical because Koko did not obtain informed consent from people seeking counseling.
    Koko is a nonprofit mental health platform that connects teens and adults who need mental health help to volunteers through messaging apps like Telegram and Discord…

  137. says

    Musk rolls out the welcome mat for insurrectionists, misinformation artists, and QAnoners … again

    Since taking over Twitter, billionaire Elon Musk has exposed himself as being a sort of slightly more intelligent version of Donald Trump. Musk’s thin skin and his predilection for promoting baseless conspiracy theories and right-wing anti-consumer policy aside, Elon has also proven to be something of a social media addict whose dopamine needs are fed by the power he feels online. As the melodramatic and ill-advised purchase of Twitter began roiling over months, Musk’s text exchanges were revealed to the public, showing a bubble of libertarian-leaning celebrities, right-wing politicians, and other wealthy elites all blabbering away in the most unimpressive fashion.

    It also included the vague architecture of a plan to reinstate right-wing misinformation operatives who had been suspended for everything from public health disinformation to promoting sedition against our government on Jan. 6, 2021. Donald Trump, referred to as the “boss” in one of these text exchanges, would obviously be the golden goose (covered in swamp water). Musk has since used his power to suspend journalists (before receiving obvious backlash) who were covering him and his businesses, as well as to reinstate people like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, other white nationalists like Patrick Casey and Andrew Anglin (a Neo-Nazi), and even Donald Trump. Trump has yet to post on his old-timey favorite misinformation platform because of his financial interests and stake in the failed social media project Truth Social.

    […] The most high-profile reinstatement has come with pardoned felon former LTG Michael Flynn. Flynn’s absolute absorption into the conspiracy theory world has been one of the most troubling indictments of the military in recent years. Since coming back online, Flynn has promoted the conspiracy theory that there is a “parallel Supreme Court” that is taking away your Fourth Amendment rights. Like all misinformation conspiracy theories, Flynn and his 1 million followers seem to have simply slid past the fact that the real Supreme Court is already taking away most Americans’ rights. Oh well! Flynn is also promoting anti-vaxxer mythology that athletes are collapsing and dying in record numbers due to COVID vaccines. And yes, Hunter Biden’s laptop stuff as well.

    Over the last couple of days, Ali Alexander, a co-creator of the “Stop the Steal” event most of us consider the sideshow of a coup attempt, was reinstated. Today? The guy most people who aren’t long-gone down a conspiracy abyss suspect is the actually “Q” of QAnon, Ron Watkins, got reinstated. […] here’s a reminder of what Twitter users were missing out on the past year. [video at the link]

    German software developer Travis Brown has kept a record of Elon Musk’s suspension reversals here. The files go through the end of November and include thousands of accounts unsuspended. Most of them are filled with people misinforming the public.

  138. says

    Good news: Democrats unveil major voting reform bill after regaining full control over Minnesota’s government

    Democratic legislators in Minnesota have introduced a bill this month that would enact a major overhaul of the state’s election laws covering voting access and campaign finance after the party won back the state Senate majority from Republicans in 2022 and in doing so regained full control over state government for the first time in nearly a decade. Reforming the state’s election process is a top priority for Democratic lawmakers, Gov. Tim Walz and Secretary of State Steve Simon, meaning this or similar legislation is likely to pass.

    The new bill, tiled the “Democracy for the People Act,” contains a number of provisions:

    Establish automatic voter registration at several state agencies such as those covering driver’s licenses, the state’s low-income health care program, and more.

    Allow 16 and 17 year olds to preregister to vote so that they will automatically be added to the rolls once they turn 18.

    Abolish felony disenfranchisement for people on parole or probation.

    Impose stronger penalties on voter intimidation.

    Allow voters to opt into permanently receiving an absentee ballot in every future election.

    Expand multilingual ballots and election materials.

    Create a public campaign finance system by giving voters two $25 “Democracy Dollar” vouchers that they can donate to a candidate or party.

    Require “dark money” independent campaign groups to disclose the identities of their donors. […]

  139. says

    NBC News:

    Thousands of Californians fled their homes as severe weather continued to batter the state, leaving one dead, a child missing and massive swaths of power outages on Tuesday. Moderate to heavy rains were expected to continue to hammer much of California on Tuesday as a fresh low-pressure system barreled toward the state as part of a ‘parade of cyclones’ that prompted a string of rescues […]

    Miami Herald:

    Scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) delivered a clear message Monday at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting in Denver, Colorado: Climate change is — unequivocally — making extreme weather events worse.

  140. says

    NBC News:

    The U.S. is planning to begin training Ukrainian troops on the Patriot air defense system at Fort Sill, Okla., later this month, according to three defense officials. The first group will consist of just under 100 Ukrainian service members with some experience in air defense systems. The training is expected to take several months, the officials said.

  141. says

    Good news.

    Wall Street Journal:

    The Biden administration on Tuesday released a detailed plan that will make it easier for student-loan holders to wipe out their debts using income-driven repayment plans.

  142. says


    The new House Republican majority managed to successfully pass a rules package Monday, and it’s even worse than their last one. You wonder why American voters (and often the Supreme Court) ever put these nitwits in charge.

    According to the stenographers at the New York Times:

    Republicans said the new rules empower individual lawmakers to have a greater voice in legislation and advance the party’s goal of limiting spending.

    Yeah, that’s what they said, but it’s all easily disproven nonsense. As even conservative Charlie Sykes reminded us, “It’s worth remembering that President 45 added more to the national debt in four years than either Barack Obama of George W. Bush did in their two terms. Even conservative analysts reported that [Donald] Trump added $7.8 trillion in ten-year budget deficits.”

    The mainstream media should stop pretending that Republicans care about the national deficit or that “fiscal conservatism” is even a thing. The Times does warn that the new Republican “rules could also make it difficult for the House to carry out even its most basic duties in the next two years, such as funding the government, including the military, or avoiding a catastrophic federal debt default.”

    […] Republicans shamelessly lie, so when (not if) they force a federal debt default, they’ll just blame Joe Biden and other Democrats, who wouldn’t let them gut Social Security and Medicaid. Trump is already rooting for a debt ceiling showdown because he’d love to run for president during a wrecked economy.

    Kevin McCarthy was so desperate to cosplay as speaker that he agreed to a provision that lets a single member force a vote to “vacate the chair.” […]

    As predicted, the rules hobble the Office of Congressional Ethics. Three of four Democratic-appointed OCE board members are on their way out due to term limits under the changes. This leaves Republican-appointed members in almost full control of the OCE until Democrats can hire new board members, but that could take months. Rep. “George Santos,” who’s likely facing multiple ethics complaints against him, said the changes were “fantastic.” (No, really.)

    The rules also end proxy voting and remote committee hearings that Democrats put in place during the pandemic. (They also made a lot of sense if you consider this is the 21st Century.) The rule might work against Republicans, who hold a narrow majority, and will have to hustle to ensure they have enough members physically on site to advance their awful legislation.

    Other rules in the package are boilerplate bwah-ha-ha Republican stuff, such as rolling back staff unionization and pushing fossil fuel development. The package specifically “allows consideration of legislation to require that any future release of oil from the [Strategic Petroleum Reserve] be contingent upon oil production on federal lands in the United States.” Translation: WE ARE SO MAD GAS PRICES WERE HIGH AND THEN JOE BIDEN FIXED THEM. This will go nowhere in the Senate.

    We can expect endless showboating investigations into the supposed “weaponization” of the Department of Justice, mad scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci’s creation of COVID-19, and Hunter Biden’s laptop, along with most of the Biden family, probably even Major the dog. [Tweet showing that Andy Biggs calls for Congress to investigate Jill Biden.]

    […] Yes, the new House Republican majority will get to the bottom of Dr. Jill Biden’s doctorate in education. Maybe they’ll put rising star “George Santos” on that investigatory committee.

  143. says


    Allen Weisselberg is the severely and stupidly loyal 75-year-old Trump Organization CFO who took the fall and pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud he committed with and for the Trump Organization. As part of that deal he testified against the Trump Organization, which was also found guilty in December of everything it was charged with. […]

    Allen Weisselberg, a longtime executive for Donald Trump ’s business empire was taken into custody Tuesday to begin serving a five-month jail term for dodging taxes on $1.7 million in job perks — a punishment the judge who sentenced him said was probably too lenient.

    Well then do some more, judge! (It was part of his deal for pleading guilty AF.)

    The judge, Juan Manuel Merchan, said if he hadn’t already agreed to the five-month sentence, “I would be imposing a sentence much greater than that.” He added, “I’m not going to deviate from the promise, though I believe a stiffer sentence is warranted, having heard the evidence.”

    […] This sentence in the AP’s report makes us laugh:

    Weisselberg, who came to court dressed casually for jail, rather than in his usual suit, was handcuffed and taken into custody moments after the sentence was announced.

    Let’s take a moment just to savor that this morning, Weisselberg or his lawyers or his handler or his wife had to be like “Remember, grandpa, no suit needed today! It might be Tuesday, but it might as well be Casual Friday, because it’s prison-thirty and you don’t get to come home anymore! This is happening because you hitched your wagon to Donald Trump.” It will be very Casual Friday for Weisselberg, attire-wise, for the next five months, or three if he is a very good boy in prison. After that he’ll be on probation for five years and presumably will be allowed to wear suits again.

    Did we mention he is going to Rikers? He is going to Rikers.

    The AP report ends with an explanation of how Rikers is a very different part of New York City from Fifth Avenue:

    Though just 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Trump Tower, it’s a veritable world away from the life of luxury Weisselberg schemed to build — a far cry from the gilded Fifth Avenue offices where he hatched his plot and the Hudson River-view apartment he reaped as a reward.

    Boy oh boy we hope Donald Trump gets to live there someday. […]

    Wonkette did a deep dive into the charges last year, against both the Trump Organization and Weisselberg. They were accused of defrauding the state of New York, the city of New York, and the federal government by knowingly creating schemes to enrich themselves through hiding large chunks of income in apartments, in cars, in private school tuition, hinky bonuses and more.

    For the longest time, Allen Weisselberg was loath to cooperate with the authorities, out of some ridiculously misguided sense of loyalty to the human dogshit that is Donald Trump. But he did, finally, end up pleading guilty in August and testifying against the Trump Organization.

    And now orange is the new Allen Weisselberg!

    And the Trump Organization gets sentenced on Friday!

    Unfortunately they will not sentenced to Rikers, but it will be very bad for them all the same.

  144. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Donald J. Trump alleged that President Biden’s possession of classified documents from his Vice-Presidency is “way worse” than his own hoarding of top-secret materials at Mar-a-Lago because “Joe actually reads.”

    “What would you rather have—classified documents in the hands of someone who reads, or someone who never reads?” Trump asked. “Hands down, the reader is way more dangerous.”

    “The American people know that any documents are safe with me because I would never read even one word of them,” he said. “But Joe reads like a demon, and that’s what makes him so scary.”

    “I call him Reading Joe,” the former President added.

    Trump urged that the Presidential and Vice-Presidential oaths of office be altered to include a promise “never to read anything” while in power.

    “When I was in the Oval Office, there was zero tolerance for reading—zero tolerance,” he said. “Now the White House is practically like a library, with everyone reading like crazy. This should never be allowed to happen in this country.”

    New Yorker link

  145. says

    Ukraine update: Russia is (probably) gaining around Soledar, but to no real end

    This is just east of the salt mines:

    The assault group of PMC Wagner was destroyed at the entrance to the Soledar industrial zone. [video at the link]

    A couple of weeks ago, pro-Ukrainian sources were ecstatic at the imminent fall of Russian-occupied Kreminna, but it wasn’t so. While Ukraine was advancing (and still is, at this time), Russia was in no imminent danger of losing Kreminna.

    The last couple of days, pro-Ukrainian sources have been in near panic at the fall of Ukrainian-held Soledar, northeast of Bakhmut, but as the sun came up today, turns out … well, who knows.

    Soledar does not appear to be in imminent danger of falling to Russia, though the situation is certainly described as “difficult” and Wagner released geolocated footage of soldiers in the city’s center (though bullets fly nearby, proving the situation remains fluid). Furthermore, the location remains outside the soon-to-be-famous salt mines—yet another industrial complex with deep underground tunnels that should tie up Russian forces for weeks or months, like the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, or the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk. [map at the link]

    Russian sources also claim that they have taken Podhorodne, just northeast of Bakhmut, and claim to be advancing across those open fields to Krasna Hora and Paraskovivka. Some of them claim Krasna Hora is already in Russian hands. There has been no visual confirmation of any of those claims, and it seems incredible that Russia has managed to cross those open fields under relentless Ukrainian artillery and machine gun fire. But I posted yesterday about their successful human-wave tactics, as reported by a Ukrainian officer on the ground:

    At first, the first group, usually of 8 people, is put forward to the finish line. The whole group is maximally loaded with [ammunition], each has a “Bumblebee” flamethrower. Their task is to get to the point and get a foothold. They are almost suicidal. Their [ammo] in case of failure is intended for the following groups.

    The group gets as close as possible to the Ukrainians and digs in as quickly as possible. A white cloth or other sign is left on the tree so that the next group can navigate in the event of the death of their predecessors and find where shelters have already been dug and where there are weapons.

    During the fire contact, the “Wagners” detect Ukrainian fire positions and transfer them to their artillery. As a rule, 120-mm and 82-mm mortars work in them. Up to 10 mortars simultaneously begin to suppress the discovered Ukrainian position. Artillery training can last several hours in a row.

    During this time, 500 meters from the first group, the second group concentrates. It has lighter equipment. And under the cover of artillery, this group begins an assault on the Ukrainian position. If the second group fails to take a position, it is followed by the third and even the fourth. That is, four waves of eight people for one Ukrainian position.

    Wagner mercenary group reportedly recruited up to 40,000 Russian prisoners to throw at Ukrainian positions. Some reports claim that half of them are out of the war—dead or grievously wounded. That seems too crazy to be true, but then you read what they’re doing above, you see pictures of fields littered with the Wagner dead, and suddenly it all seems plausible, if not probable.

    The frightful body count hasn’t deterred pro-Russian Twitter and Telegram from near-orgasmic levels of excitement. You’d think Russia was on the verge of an actual victory, not throwing everything they have left at attempting to take a town with a pre-war population of 10,000. This is it. After losing all of Kharkiv and half of Kherson oblasts (plus Kherson city itself), Russia thinks that taking Soledar and maybe Bakhmut somehow cancels out those humiliating losses. […] And yet it brings Russia nothing of real value. Let’s look at the remaining active front: [map at the link]

    Ukraine is pushing toward Svatove and Kreminna in the north, while Russia is pushing at Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and (not so much lately) Pavlivka/Vuhledar. Ukraine’s efforts have a strategic goal: If they can break through at Svatove, they can push east toward Starobilsk and cut off Russia’s entire northern supply line from Belgorod. If Ukraine eventually attacks toward Melitopol, it would cut Russia’s land bridge to Crimea and cut Russia’s forces in two.

    That’s called “strategy.” There is a strategic purpose to both those options. What is Russia’s strategy? Once upon a time, they had one! Remember this? [map at the link]

    Originally, Russia aimed to push north through Mykolaiv, and down from Kyiv, to cut off the bulk of Ukraine’s forces from their supply lines out west.

    When Russia failed in both directions, they redeployed the bulk of their forces to Izyum, which then intended to push down toward Zaporizhzhia oblast, cutting off the bulk of Ukrainian forces in Ukraine’s eastern third.

    Well oops, nothing was happening down south, so those forces in Izyum started pushing toward the twin fortress cities of Kramatorsk/Sloviansk while attempting to break Ukrainian defenses around Donetsk city. The goal at that point was to cut off Ukrainian defenses on that Donbas line of contact. But then the push out of Izyum fizzled, and by June, Russia was excited merely to capture Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

    So what’s the goal today? There is none, just a mindless push westward, regardless of the cost.

    The Soledar-Bakhmut push has become all-consuming at a time when Russia is running out of gear and ammunition. CNN reports that “Russia’s artillery fire is down dramatically from its wartime high, in some places by as much as 75 percent.” Also, this tracks with what I’ve written before:

    US and Ukrainian officials have offered widely different estimates of Russian fire, with US officials saying the rate has dropped from 20,000 rounds per day to around 5,000 per day on average. Ukraine estimates that the rate has dropped from 60,000 to 20,000 per day. [already reported by SC in comment 171]

    Ukraine has every reason to exaggerate Russia’s shell usage in order to spur aid deliveries. But regardless who is right, the trend is clear, and it’s confirmed anecdotally by both sides. Here’s some Wagner a-holes in the Bakhmut theater complaining about running out of shells: [video at the link]

    The reason some areas are seeing a 75% drop in Russian artillery is because the invaders are sending almost everything they have left to Soledar. It may not be their last gasp, but it’s certainly a massive gamble for little payoff.

    Soledar and Bakhmut are just two of many, many, well-entrenched Ukrainian cities. If Russia eventually manages to take these two, Ukraine merely falls back to the next position, while Russia must extend their supply lines yet further away from their all-important railheads. What then? Russia has been able to tolerate the human cost in large part because it’s been shouldered by jailed criminals. But Wagner is running out of prison conscripts. And Russia can only hide the overall death toll for so long, particularly as its economy is finally starting to buckle under the weight of sanctions and collapsing energy prices. [chart at the link]

    Over the summer, the price of Ural crude was nearly $100. Now India and China are viciously taking advantage of Russia’s woes to get an over-50% discount over the rest of the world. Ural crude is particularly expensive to extract, estimated at around $42 per barrel. Even if that estimate is high, it’s clear Russia’s profit margins are, at best, hovering around break-even.

    Putin knows he must keep his populace docile even as conditions worsen. Russia propaganda is starting to work on that.

    Mardan posed a startling question to his economic expert, Denis Raksha: “What are our chances? Do we even have them or not? Will we have to live like South Korea in the 1950s-1960s? Will we end up having to eat fire ants?”

    Raksha explained that if Russia intends to drastically rebuild its economy in order to be self-sustaining everyday life will become quite difficult, even if Russians won’t have to resort to eating ants. He added: “Currently, the industrialization reminiscent of that of the 19th century or the 1920s-1930s is practically impossible. In that case, we’d have to live not like South Koreans, but like North Koreans.” …

    Concluding the program, Mardan grimly noted: “To everyone who says that Russia should get up off its knees—myself included—my friends, I’m afraid that our former way of life is a thing of the past... It’s practically unavoidable… perhaps we’ll be reflecting upon the past year as our last fat year. On the other hand, a great victory is ahead of us!”

    “Don’t worry, comrades! Yeah, it might suck to live like North Koreans, but that’s okay. You may be thin and hungry, but we have Bakhmut, the most glorious victory of all!”

    Russia is the most absurd place on earth.

  146. says

    LOL – Rep. Gallego to Chris Hayes just now (after pointing out that there also isn’t a single black or Latino person among the new House committee chairs): “I do work well with some of these Mikes, to be honest.” Hayes: “There are some decent Mikes out there.” Gallego: “Yeah, there are some decent Mikes. You know, like, not all Mikes are gonna be the same, right? So, like, let’s not judge ’em all…”

    I needed that.

  147. says

    DKos (different post – the other one hasn’t updated) – “Democrats kick off 2023 special elections with a monster red-to-blue flip in Virginia”:

    Virginia Democrats scored a big pickup in the first major special election of 2023 as Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse beat his Republican opponent, Navy veteran Kevin Adams, 50.4-49.6 in the contest for the state Senate seat that Republican Jen Kiggans gave up after unseating Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in November. Rouse’s win increases the Democrats’ edge to 22-18 and ends self-described “unapologetically pro-life” Democrat Joe Morrissey’s status as the crucial vote in a chamber where Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears can break ties….

  148. whheydt says

    Holy Fvck indeed…

    A poster of Demi Lovato wearing a bondage-style outfit and lying on a crucifix-shaped bed has been banned for causing offence to Christians.

    *Warning: This article contains language that some readers may find offensive.

    The title of the singer’s new album clearly alluded to a swear word and, together with the image, linked sexuality to a sacred symbol, the advertising watchdog found.

    Polydor Records said it was artwork designed to promote the album and did not believe it to be offensive.

    The poster was removed after four days.

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received complaints relating to the “image of Ms Lovato bound up in a bondage-style outfit whilst lying on a mattress shaped like a crucifix”.

    The singer was “in a position with her legs bound to one side which was reminiscent of Christ on the cross,” it added.

    Together with title of the album “Holy Fvck”, the ASA found the poster was “likely to be viewed as linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion”. This was was likely to cause serious offence to Christians, it said.

    Demi Lovato’s eighth album, released in August 2022, documents her complicated journey through alcohol and drug addiction, mental health issues, treatment and recovery.

    She started writing it after a voluntary stint in rehab in December 2021 and told the BBC: “I’m not playing pop music anymore. This is a rock album.”

    Demi Lovato is back, and this time she’s angry

    The singer is not the first to spark controversy in religious circles. Madonna’s Like a Prayer video was condemned by Christian organisations as blasphemous when it was released in 1989.

    It showed the singer dancing around burning crosses and kissing a black Christ-like figure in a church. In 1992, her Erotica video saw her banned from the Vatican and the video could only be shown in the early hours.

    The ASA also received complaints that the poster promoting Demi Lovato’s album was irresponsibly placed where children could see it.

    It was put up in six places across London before being taken down on 23 August 2022.

    The ASA found that the title of the album would be clear to most readers that this alluded to a swear word.

    As the poster appeared in a public place where children were likely to be able to see it, the ASA “considered that the ad was likely to result in serious and widespread offence and had been targeted irresponsibly”.

    Polydor Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Ltd, said that before publication, they had checked with agency Brotherhood Media that the poster was acceptable to run on the proposed sites. The agency had provided an assurance that it was, and Polydor had proceeded on that basis, it said.

    The BBC has approached Brotherhood Media for comment.

    The ASA ruled that the poster must not appear again in the form complained of unless it was suitably targeted. It told Universal Music Operations Ltd to ensure their adverts did not cause serious or widespread offence in future.

  149. Reginald Selkirk says

    Birth control ruling to see fresh scrutiny at Texas Capitol

    But a December ruling by a federal judge in Amarillo has suddenly closed that avenue to other Texas teens. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that allowing minors to obtain free birth control without parental consent at federally funded clinics, under a program known as Title X, violated parental rights and state law…

    Zygotes have rights from the moment of conception, but teenagers are their parents’ property until they turn 18.

  150. Reginald Selkirk says

    Articles of impeachment introduced against DHS Secretary Mayorkas by Texas Republican

    Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, initially filed a resolution on Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress, to impeach Mayorkas. Fallon then reintroduced the resolution late Monday, once the new chamber rules were adopted.
    Republican leadership has not yet commented on whether they’ll take any further action on the resolution. Introducing articles of impeachment is the first step of what can be a lengthy process, including an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee, and does not mean Mayorkas will ultimately be impeached — or formally accused — by the House.
    If he were impeached, he would then be tried by the Senate.
    Fallon claims Mayorkas has failed to maintain “operational control over the border,” “willfully provided perjurious, false, and misleading testimony to Congress” and “knowingly slandered his own hardworking Border Patrol agents and mislead the general public.”

  151. Tethys says


    the ASA found the poster was “likely to be viewed as linking sexuality to the sacred symbol of the crucifix and the crucifixion”. This was was likely to cause serious offence to Christians, it said.

    I will concede their point on the expletive, but who cares if religious people get offended? The Christians call it the Passion of the Christ, so they can’t really have any basis to complain about sexy bondage gear or poses that don’t include nails or blood. They certainly don’t have any moral authority or legal right to complain about upsetting imagery. Every crucifix that exists is horribly offensive homage to death via torture. What gross idols!

  152. whheydt says

    Re: Tethys @ #218…
    IIRC, England, at least, still has an established religion. The image, on the other hand, might well be a play in “passion”, and–if so–clever.

  153. raven says

    “Russians brought their only aircraft carrier to critical condition and looking for those responsible”
    I don’t see that the Admiral Kuznersov aircraft carrier will even sail again, except to a scrap yard.
    This ship has never actually completed a mission without major problems coming up. And now it is all but a derelict in Murmansk, which is the middle of nowhere.

    “Completion of repairs and transfer to the Russian Navy is planned for 2024.” Very doubtful.

    FWIW, the Admiral Kuznetsov is powered by low grade petroleum fuel, heavy bunker oil. The US aircraft carriers are all nuclear powered.

    Russians brought their only aircraft carrier to critical condition and looking for those responsible

    JANUARY 10, 2023
    Russians brought their only aircraft carrier to critical condition and looking for those responsible
    9 JANUARY 2023

    The Russian military and shipbuilders are trying to shift responsibility to each other for bringing the only Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, to critical condition.

    Source: Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence

    Quote: “The military and shipbuilders of the Russian Federation are trying to shift responsibility to each other for bringing the only Russian aircraft carrier to a critical condition.

    The only Russian aircraft carrier, the heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, is in disrepair.”

    Details: The ship is located at the 35th Ship Repair Plant in Murmansk.

    Defence Intelligence reports that the Russians decided to move the ship from the dry dock to one of the piers of the ship repair plant to continue the repair works.

    However, even at the stage of preparation for movement, it turned out that the cruiser was not able to move on its own.

    The cruiser also tried to move with the help of several tugs, but this was impossible, too, due to the critical condition of the ship’s hull.

    Ship repairmen warned the military that the condition of Admiral Kuznetsov does not allow it to be deployed due to the high probability that it would sink or capsize.

    During the examination, it was revealed that the metal structures below the third deck of the ship were significantly corroded. The holds are filled with muddy water, which makes it impossible to examine the ship in detail from the inside.

    At the same time, Russian officials of the 35th Ship Repair Plant and the [Northern] fleet command are trying to shift responsibility to each other.

    The Defence Intelligence added that now it is impossible to even establish who exactly decided to move the ship.

    The command of the Russian fleet imposed penalties of 1.5 billion roubles [roughly US$ 2.1 million] on the plant’s management for failure to meet repair deadlines and non-fulfilment of the contract.

    And the company’s management believes that the plant is not to blame for bringing the ship to its current state: “chances are the military representatives at the plant, which supervised the progress of work, will be found guilty.”

    According to available intelligence data, there are not even any approximate deadlines for completing the repair of Admiral Kuznetsov and returning it to service.

    For reference: Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier of the Russian Navy, the flagship of the Russian Navy and the Northern Fleet. In 2018, an accident occurred during the descent of Admiral Kuznetsov. In 2019, the vessel caught on fire during repair works. Completion of repairs and transfer to the Russian Navy is planned for 2024.

  154. Reginald Selkirk says

    Flights across the U.S. grounded after FAA experiences computer outage

    Flights across the United States were grounded Wednesday morning after the Federal Aviation Administration said it experienced a computer outage.
    All flights in the U.S. were grounded following the incident, a source with knowledge of the situation told NBC News. The FAA said later Wednesday morning it had ordered all airlines to pause domestic departures until 9 a.m. ET.
    More than 2,500 flights within, into and out of the U.S. were delayed as of around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to online flight tracker FlightAware. Nearly 250 flights were listed as cancelled.
    The FAA had said in a notice on its website that its Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system had “failed.” A NOTAM is a notice containing information essential to workers involved in flight operations…

  155. Reginald Selkirk says

    Zelenskyy Declares to Golden Globes Viewers: ‘There Will Be No Third World War, It Is Not a Trilogy’

    Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, made a virtual appearance during the Golden Globes telecast Tuesday evening…
    Zelenskyy then addressed the audience via recorded message recalling the start of the Golden Globes in the 1944. “The second World War wasn’t over yet, but the tide was turned, all knew who would win. There were still battles and tears ahead, it was then when the Golden Globes awards appeared to honor the best performers of 1943,” Zelenkyy said. “It is now 2023 the war in Ukraine is not over yet but the tide is turning. And it is already clear who will win. There are still battles and tears ahead, but now I can definitely tell you who are the best in the previous year, it was you. The free people of the free world. Those who united around the support of the free Ukrainian people in our common struggle for freedom.”
    The audience cheered when President Zelenskyy announced his projected victory.
    “There will be no third World War, it is not a trilogy,” Zelenkyy continued. “Ukraine will stop the Russian aggression on our land.”

  156. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine says mining town holding out against Russian assault

    Soledar was under heavy shelling by Russian forces using jets, mortars and rockets. A Ukrainian military officer near Soledar said the Russian assault was unrelenting.
    The Russians first send one or two waves of soldiers, many from the private Russian military contractor Wagner Group, who take heavy casualties as they probe the Ukrainian defenses, the officer told The Associated Press.
    After those first assaults, when Ukrainian troops have taken some casualties and are exhausted, the Russians send a fresh wave of highly-trained soldiers, paratroopers or special forces, said the Ukrainian officer, who insisted on anonymity for security reasons.

  157. says

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

    Russian forces are trying ‘without success’ to capture Soledar, a Ukrainian official said. “The enemy has again replaced its units after sustaining losses, has increased the number of Wagner (Russian mercenaries),” Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar wrote on Telegram.

    A Ukrainian soldier has told CNN that the situation in the eastern town of Soledar is “critical”, and that the death toll is so high that “no one counts the dead”.

    Estonia has demanded that the Russian government reduce the number of its embassy within the country, according to reports.

    According to the press release of the ministry of foreign affairs, the Russian embassy was warned on Wednesday 11 January that the diplomatic staff should be reduced by half by 1 February.

    The press release reportedly said: “Estonia considers the principle of parity very important in our relations with Russia. Considering that, in light of this war of aggression, the Russian embassy is not engaged in promoting Estonian-Russian relations, we believe that its (current) size is not justified. Now we have set a limit for the number of diplomats working in Estonia in order to achieve parity”.

    Currently, eight diplomats and 15 other officials work in the Estonian embassy in Moscow, while 21 Russian diplomats and 23 other officials are located in Tallinn.

    Poland plans to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition, the Polish president has said, according to reports.

    Kyiv has been requesting heavy military vehicles such as the German-made Leopard 2, which would represent a significant step up in western support to Ukraine.

    On a visit to Lviv, Andrzej Duda said:

    A company of Leopard tanks will be handed over as part of coalition building … We want it to be an international coalition.

    On Saturday, Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said the country did not intend to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine without the formation of a wider coalition.

    Earlier today, a German government spokesperson said that it was not aware of any requests from its allies to send Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine.

    Downing Street has confirmed that the British government is planning to provide tanks to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against the Russian invasion, the Financial Times reports.

    Journalists were told by a spokesperson for Number 10 that prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has asked defence secretary, Ben Wallace, to “work with partners” and to provide further support to Ukraine “including the provision of tanks”. [Hm…]

    Ukraine has been asking for British tanks “since summer”, a source previously told the Guardian. But the reality is that the UK, with a total fleet of 227, has a small supply compared with Germany and the US.

    Should the British government supply Ukraine with Challenger 2 tanks, it would be the first time a western country has provided Ukraine with modern heavy battle tanks, according to the FT.

  158. says

    Tom Phillips in the Guardian – “Security tightened in Brazil amid fear of attacks by Jair Bolsonaro supporters”:

    Security has been stepped up in Brazil’s capital amid concerns that hardcore supporters of the former president Jair Bolsonaro were planning to mobilise again, three days after thousands of extremists launched what the government has called a botched coup attempt.

    Reports in the Brazilian media said far-right activists had summoned “a mega nationwide protest to retake power” on Wednesday afternoon. On Tuesday night, members of the national public security force in black SUVs could be seen taking up position along the esplanade leading to Brazil’s congress, supreme court and presidential palace – the three buildings stormed and ransacked during Sunday’s turmoil in Brasília.

    As the capital braced for possible further outbreaks of unrest, federal police said they had arrested one of the alleged organisers of the 8 January invasions in a city 32 miles from Brasília.

    Ana Priscila Azevedo allegedly used a Telegram group to urge tens of thousands of Bolsonarista radicals to head to the capital to challenge the recent election of the leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, which Bolsonaro supporters refuse to accept. “Babylon will fall,” Azevedo reportedly declared.

    Senior members of Brazil’s security apparatus have also been implicated in the catastrophic security failure, which one of Lula’s top ministers on Tuesday called “an act of terrorism” designed to topple their week-old government.

    On Tuesday, federal police officers raided the home of Bolsonaro’s former justice minister, Anderson Torres, while the former commander of Brasília’s military police, Fábio Augusto Vieira, was arrested. A warrant for the arrest of Torres – the city’s public security chief at the time of Sunday’s attacks – has also been issued. Like Bolsonaro, who flew out of Brazil on the eve of Lula’s 1 January inauguration, Torres is currently in the US, purportedly on holiday, but said he would return to Brazil and present himself to authorities. “I’m certain the truth will prevail,” he wrote on social media.

    Despite the fears of further unrest, members of Lula’s government insist they are working to reestablish normality and prevent further insurrection attempts.

    Two new ministers will be sworn in at the presidential palace on Wednesday afternoon: the racial equality minister, Anielle Franco, and Sônia Guajajara, the head of Brazil’s first-ever ministry for Indigenous peoples.

    “All of Brazil’s black and Indigenous women will be taking office with us because this government is ours and the country is ours too,” Franco wrote on Facebook.

    More at the link. Well worth reading in full.

    Alex Wagner last night (YT link) – “How MAGA culture infected Brazilian politics”:

    Alex Wagner looks at the cozy relationship between Trump-supporting American conservatives and former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, and talks with Guga Chacra, international affairs analyst for Globo TV about how MAGA culture crept into Brazilian politics.

    A part of the discussion that likely won’t get enough attention because it comes at the end were the comments about how the government is investigating the potential involvement of the agribusiness sector (presumably primarily the exploiters of cows) in planning and funding Sunday’s coup attempt.

  159. says

    More from today’s Guardian:

    “Honduran environmental defenders shot dead in broad daylight”:

    Two environmental defenders have been shot dead in broad daylight in Honduras, triggering fresh calls for an independent investigation into the persecution and violence against a rural community battling to stop an illegally sanctioned mine.

    Aly Domínguez, 38, and Jairo Bonilla, 28, from Guapinol in northern Honduras, were murdered on Saturday afternoon as they returned home on a moped after finishing work collecting payments for a cable company. They were intercepted by armed assailants and died at the scene, according to relatives.

    Domínguez and Bonilla were co-founders of Guapinol’s grassroots resistance against an iron ore mine owned by one of the country’s most powerful couples….

    The mine was among hundreds of environmentally destructive extractive projects greenlit by National party leaders, several of whom now face drugs and arms trafficking charges in the US. After 2009, Honduras became one of the most dangerous countries in the world to defend natural resources.

    The highest-profile victim was the Indigenous defender Berta Cáceres, who was assassinated in March 2016 after suffering years of threats and harassment linked to her opposition to an internationally funded dam.

    The post-coup regime ended a year ago, when Xiomara Castro, the wife of Manuel Zelaya, the president ousted in 2009, came to power promising to reinstate the rule of law and protect defenders.

    Initially, there were high hopes after the supreme court freed Guapinol leaders who had been convicted on bogus charges. But the mine continues to operate, and the community have reported ongoing police harassment.

    Joaquín Mejía, a prominent Honduran human rights lawyer, said the new government was partially responsible for the murders as it had failed to suspend or cancel the illegal mining concessions granted by the former regime.

    Phoenix said: “Xiomara Castro came into government promising to protect human rights defenders. The imposition of extractive projects on communities without their consent is one of the root causes of attacks against defenders in Central America, but where there is political will, governments can address it. The Honduran government must do more.”

    “Tory MP Andrew Bridgen loses whip over ‘dangerous’ Covid vaccine claims”:

    The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has lost the party whip after comparing the use of Covid vaccines to the Holocaust, the latest in a series of recent anti-vaccine statements he has made.

    Tweeting a graph from Zero Hedge, a libertarian and conspiracy theory website, which purported to show the health risks from Covid vaccines, Bridgen wrote: “As one consultant cardiologist said to me this is the biggest crime against humanity since the holocaust.”

    The tweet is among a series of social media messages, and direct messages to journalists, that the North West Leicestershire MP has sent in recent weeks, baselessly arguing that the Covid vaccines seriously harm health….

    “Russia to launch mission to rescue stranded ISS crew after meteoroid strike”:

    Moscow will launch a rescue vessel to the International Space Station next month to bring home three crew members who are in effect stuck in orbit after their original capsule was hit by a [teeny, tiny] meteoroid.

    The docked Soyuz MS-22 sprang a major leak last month, spraying radiator coolant into space and prompting a pair of cosmonauts to abort a planned spacewalk.

    While Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, said the strike caused no immediate threat to the crew of the space station, it raised concerns about whether everyone on the orbital outpost could return to Earth in an emergency situation….

  160. says

    Nassau County Republicans just did a press conference calling for George Santos to resign. Democratic reps Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres earlier delivered their House ethics complaint to his office.

  161. says

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

    House Republicans will today introduce two measures concerning abortion, one being a bill that “secures medical protections for babies that survive an attempted abortion”, and the other a resolution condemning “attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches”. That the party opposes the procedure is no surprise, but they still have to tread carefully. After all, it was outrage to the supreme court’s decision last year allowing states to ban abortion entirely that led to the GOP’s underperformance in the midterms. The House will convene at 12pm eastern time, with votes on these two bills expected at 4pm….

    In Alabama, the state’s top prosecutor has reacted to the Biden administration’s expansion of access to abortion pills by warning that women who take the medication could be prosecuted under a law meant to protect children from methamphetamine fumes.

    “Promoting the remote prescription and administration of abortion pills endangers both women and unborn children,” Republican attorney general Steve Marshall said in a statement to Al[dot]com. “Elective abortion – including abortion pills – is illegal in Alabama. Nothing about the Justice Department’s guidance changes that. Anyone who remotely prescribes abortion pills in Alabama does so at their own peril: I will vigorously enforce Alabama law to protect unborn life.”

    Alabama’s governor in 2019 signed the Human Life Protection Act, which bans abortion except to protect the life of the mother [sic]. It only went into effect last year, when the supreme court overturned Roe v Wade. But the law allows for abortion providers to be punished, not recipients, which is why Marshall is threatening to use the state’s chemical endangerment law against women who end their pregnancies medically.

    “The Human Life Protection Act targets abortion providers, exempting women ‘upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed’ from liability under the law,” said Marshall, who has also threatened to prosecute veterans affair doctors who perform abortions in cases of incest or rape. “It does not provide an across-the-board exemption from all criminal laws, including the chemical-endangerment law – which the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed protects unborn children.”

    In Texas, some cities are moving to become havens for abortion access in a state where the procedure is otherwise banned, the Guardian’s Poppy Noor reports:

    Campaigners in San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday delivered more than 38,000 signatures to the city clerk’s office, petitioning for a May vote that would decriminalize abortion in the city.

    Abortion in Texas has been banned since August 2022, following the supreme court decision to overturn Roe v Wade last summer.

    The campaigners hope to pass what they are calling the San Antonio Justice Charter, which would also end criminalization for low-level marijuana possession, and put limits on police use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds.

    San Antonio, Austin and Waco – all in Texas – already passed resolutions to de-prioritize the investigation of abortion crimes through their city councils in 2022, at the same time as a string of progressive district attorneys across the country vowed to resist state abortion bans that came into effect when the federal right to abortion ended in June.

    House Republicans are making good on their promises to investigate the Biden administration and other perceived opponents, with the oversight committee chair James Comer today requesting the Treasury turn over documents related to the president’s son Hunter Biden, as well as calling for testimony from three former Twitter executives….

    Venture to certain corners of conservative media today and you’ll find lots of discussion of gas stoves. The Guardian’s Alaina Demopoulos explains why:

    After Joe Biden’s administration announced it was considering regulating – or banning – gas stoves, Richard Trumka of the US consumer product safety commission (CPSC) offered some words of clarity: “To be clear, CPSC isn’t coming for anyone’s gas stoves,” he tweeted.

    “You will have to pry my gas stove from my cold dead hands,” replied Matt Walsh, the rightwing political podcaster and Daily Wire columnist.

    Despite Trumka’s words of assurance, and the fact that no regulation or ban has been put in place or announced as a course of action, conservative figures are trying to turn gas stoves into the next culture war.

    Gas stoves have become a hot-button issue in the first weeks of 2022 [hee], as new research reveals that the appliances emit toxic chemicals and carcinogens, even while turned off. The report found that 12.7% of cases of childhood asthma in the US are due to the presence of gas stoves.

  162. says

    Here’s the full Guardian report about the San Antonio initiative – “San Antonio campaigners bid for ballot measure to buck Texas abortion ban”:

    …If the initiative passes in May, it will throw up novel legal questions over whether state law trumps local law in such cases. Those questions could be tested in court.

    “It essentially pits the city against the state,” said Rebouché. “It could be one of the first cases that we see litigated where the city is sued, or questioned by the state, which could assert its power that state law should override city policy.”

    Siegel believes the campaigners are on strong legal footing, because San Antonio is a so-called “home rule” city, which, under the Texas constitution, enjoys some autonomy from the state.

    Whatever its fate, Rebouché said the symbolic message of the effort is a powerful one. “It may not have legal force … but it certainly does something similar to Kansas, or Kentucky, where it became clear that there is popular antipathy for these abortion restrictions,” she said.

    Siegel said he hoped San Antonio will be a blueprint for similar ballots in other cities in Texas. If successful, he believes this could be a substantial roadblock to the Texas abortion ban, because the state relies heavily on city police.

    He said: “City police make up the vast majority of law enforcement in the state of Texas. If we can convince the big cities to say ‘we won’t use our police’, that will take away most of the state’s ability to enforce these laws.”

  163. says

    SC @214, that is good news.

    Here’s Steve Benin’s accurate summary:

    In a closely watched state Senate special election yesterday, Democratic Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse appears to have defeated Republican Kevin Adams, flipping a seat from “red” to “blue.” The results make it far less likely that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin will be able to advance a proposed abortion ban.

  164. says

    Followup to comments 176 and 180, concerning Katie Porter and Dianne Feinstein:

    In California, after Democratic Rep. Katie Porter launched a U.S. Senate candidacy yesterday, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a written statement, “Everyone is of course welcome to throw their hat in the ring, and I will make an announcement concerning my plans for 2024 at the appropriate time.” While that will keep some guessing about the senator’s intentions, the 89-year-old incumbent is not raising money like someone who intends to seek another term.

  165. says

    Related to several posts about Marjorie Taylor Greene above – Guardian – “‘It’s about showing we’re able to govern’: Le Pen looks to 2027 with plan to sanitise image”:

    …Le Pen’s strategy for the start of 2023 is to use the unprecedented presence of more than 80 far-right lawmakers in parliament as a crucial step in her long-running drive to sanitise her party’s image and move it away from the jackbooted antisemitic imagery of the past. She is seeking to counter opponents’ criticisms of party racism and xenophobia, ahead of a potential fourth attempt at the presidency in four years’ time….

  166. says

    Ryan Zinke apparently wants to be seen, not as an ethically challenged politician, but rather as a victim of secret “deep state” scoundrels. [“Ethically challenged” is too nice a way to describe Zinke.]

    As House Republicans prepared to create a new subcommittee to investigate conspiracy theories about the “weaponization” of government, one lawmaker seemed especially eager to endorse the panel’s goals. In fact, Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana said he has a lot of “first-hand” experience with the issue:

    “Despite the deep state’s repeated attempts to stop me, I stand before you as a duly elected member of the United State Congress and tell you that a deep state exists, and it is perhaps the strongest covert weapon the left has against the American people. There is no doubt the federal government deep state coordinates with liberal activists and uses politicians and willing media to carry their water. The deep state runs secret messaging campaigns with one goal in mind: to increase its power [and] to censor and persuade the American people.”

    Just so we’re clear, the GOP congressman didn’t appear to be kidding. Zinke, speaking from the floor of the House during a congressional debate, seriously asked people to believe that there are nefarious political actors, using the levers of federal power, coordinating plots with allies, and running secret campaigns to advance their insidious agenda.

    As for why in the world Zinke made such an argument, it probably has something to do with his extensive record of ethics scandals.

    [Zinke’s] tenure as Donald Trump’s interior secretary was almost cartoonishly provocative. Zinke came under at least 15 different investigations — not because a bunch of deep state rascals conspired against him, but because there was quite a bit of evidence of wrongdoing against him.

    […] In February 2022, the Interior Department’s inspector general concluded that Zinke lied to investigators about his involvement in a Montana land deal and ran afoul of federal ethics rules. In August 2022, the inspector general’s office released the findings of an entirely separate matter in which Zinke was also found to have knowingly — and “repeatedly” — made false statements to federal investigators.

    Voters in Montana’s 1st congressional district elected him anyway, though it was close, and the Republican didn’t quite crack the 50% threshold.

    As Zinke begins his congressional career anew — he served two years in the chamber before joining Trump’s cabinet — he apparently wants to be seen, not as a politician burdened by multiple ethics controversies, but rather as a victim of secret scoundrels who launch plots from the shadows. [Sheesh]


  167. Reginald Selkirk says

    @231: There is some confusing stuff about the Raspberry Rally cookies only obtainable by online order. Will have to see how it shakes out.

  168. says

    For the third time in eight days, Donald Trump went after Ruby Freeman with outrageous and potentially dangerous lies. It’s worth considering why.

    Late last week, on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, President Joe Biden hosted a special event at the White House to present Presidential Citizens Medals to a small group of Americans. The point, as NBC News reported, was to honor a select, bipartisan group of election workers, officials, and law enforcement officers for their “contributions to our democracy” before and during the riot.

    Among the deserving recipients were Shaye Moss, a clerical worker in a county election office in Georgia, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, who took a temp job helping count ballots in the 2020 election. Both women were the target of a baseless and dangerous right-wing smear campaign, and Biden took care to applaud Moss and Freeman for their work and perseverance.

    “Despite it all, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss found the courage to testify openly and honestly for the whole country and the world about their experience to set the record straight about the lies and defend the integrity of our elections,” the Democratic president said. “Ruby and Shaye, you don’t deserve what happened to you, but you do deserve the nation’s eternal thanks for showing the dignity and grace of We the People. [It’s] presumptuous of me, but I’m so proud of you both.”

    Late yesterday, Donald Trump returned once again to his social media platform to peddle lies about the women — and to argue that Freeman might not be able to keep her Presidential Citizens Medal.

    “Ruby, her daughter, and the others who ran back into the counting room, grabbing the cases from under the ‘skirted’ table, and then back to their counting machines where they came from prior to hearing ‘water main break’ (which never happened) have got a lot of explaining to do. I predict that this medal, at a minimum, will someday be withdrawn.”

    Once again, there is no doubt that the former president is brazenly lying. His made-up claims have been thoroughly discredited by, among others, state law enforcement and his own Justice Department appointees who scrutinized the allegations. There is simply no factual basis for the Republican to attack these women.

    Or more accurately, to keep attacking these women.

    […] 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 — all because of a ridiculous lie.

    In time, Trump’s interests shifted, right up until last week, when he began the offensive anew. Around midnight on Jan. 2, he published a trio of ridiculous missives, falsely accusing Freeman of having committed election crimes.

    Two days later, on Jan. 4, the former president kept the attacks going, pushing new, equally bonkers lies about Freeman. Last night, evidently, the Republican felt compelled to return to his fixation, apparently indifferent to the possible consequences for his undeserving target.

    It’s difficult to guess what precipitated this renewed campaign, but it’s worth noting for context that it roughly coincides with a related story out of Freeman’s hometown of Atlanta. NBC News reported this week:

    The Georgia grand jury conducting a criminal investigation into whether there were any “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections” in the state by former President Donald Trump and his allies has completed its work, a judge said in a ruling issued Monday.

    Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney explained in a ruling that the grand jury was convened for an investigation into “‘the facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the lawful administration of the 2020 elections in the State of Georgia’ and to prepare a report on whether anyone should be prosecuted for such potential crimes.”

    […] it’s clear that Trump is scared of being held accountable for his anti-election antics in Georgia.

    It hardly seems like a coincidence that as the threat of an indictment looms in Fulton County, the former president is pointing hysterically at imagined election crimes in Fulton County, specifically targeting Freeman, whose experiences were considered as part of the local investigation.


  169. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Zelenskiy says fighting in Soledar still ongoing

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy mocked Russian claims to have taken over parts of the eastern city of Soledar, saying that fighting was still going on in a video address on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

  170. says

    It’s Bad. Very Bad.

    The House GOP’s brazenness, its lack of shame, and its full-throated embrace of interfering with ongoing criminal investigations has the effect of almost normalizing what is an extraordinary level of systemic corruption and abuse of power.

    That would be true even if numerous House GOPers didn’t have vested personal interests in the investigations in question, but as we know an astonishing number of them are caught up in the investigations that they’re so loudly protesting and are now trying to sabotage.

    As Greg Sargent noted yesterday, giving incoming Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) a select subcommittee to target the FBI and DOJ is basically creating a propaganda machine.

    That resistance could serve as grist for Republicans and their allies in the right-wing media to scream “coverup” and paint investigations as corrupt. That could even be used to manufacture a fake rationale for impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland, and for attempts to use an obscure House rule to defund investigations of Trump.

    Jordan himself was deeply involved in Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election. But the list is long. Here is newly elected Rep. Daniel Goldman, the lead majority counsel in the first Trump impeachment, calling out Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), another GOP member already in DOJ’s crosshairs for his role in the election subversion effort: [Tweet and good video at the link]


  171. says

    Weakest speaker in history gives maniacs a floor vote on the worst defunding government idea ever

    With Kevin McCarthy holding the gavel in the House of Representatives, it’s anything goes time in that body. […] There is no right-wing proposal too wacky to make it to the House floor. Case in point: The Fair Tax Act, which is getting its first floor vote ever as part of the deal McCarthy made with the maniacs to end their opposition to his promotion.

    […] a bill to abolish the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), eliminate the tax code, replace income taxes, payroll taxes, and estate and gift taxes with a 23% national sales tax is going to the floor.

    By the way, it doesn’t just abolish the IRS, though that’s the only thing spelled out in the text. It threatens Social Security and Medicare, which run on payroll taxes. The bill would allocate the proceeds from the sales tax to “(1) the general revenue, (2) the old-age and survivors insurance trust fund, (3) the disability insurance trust fund, (4) the hospital insurance trust fund, and (5) the federal supplementary medical insurance trust fund,” but ends the dedicated funding source for the programs in the future. When all the functions of government are coming from one pot of money and social insurance programs have to compete with defense for money, guess what gets sacrificed?

    It also means a big regressive tax hike on low- and middle- income families, as President Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain tweeted. “New GOP plan: eliminate income tax on the rich, giant national sales tax on all middle class families.” It has a “monthly tax rebate” that’s supposed to go back to people “based upon criteria related to family size and poverty guidelines,” but there won’t be any IRS to figure out how to get that money back to people, so it puts the onus onto the states to administer. That would be an “unfunded mandate” in conservative speak.

    […] there are plenty of protections for rich people to get out of even paying this tax: “exemptions from the tax for used and intangible property; for property or services purchased for business, export, or investment purposes; and for state government functions.”

    The wackiest part? It includes a time bomb that sets the nation up to have zero revenue in 2030. Zero dollars going to federal coffers, with this provision: “the bill terminates the national sales tax if the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution (authorizing an income tax) is not repealed within seven years after the enactment of this bill.” No permanent repeal of the income tax, no tax at all.

    And it’s getting a floor vote. Because of Kevin McCarthy’s desperate need to be called speaker. Because the GOP of 2023 has no clue how any of this works.

    The bill, if it passes in the House, will get laughed out of the Senate and has no hope of passing. Which makes it a poison pill for the not-maniacs in the House GOP. One of the other reasons it’s never advanced to the floor is that leadership never wanted to force their members to have to vote on something so ridiculous, a vote that could either alienate the core Tea Party base on the one hand or their corporate funders on the other. Business does not like this idea.

    So thanks Kevin for yet another gift to Democrats in 2024.

  172. Reginald Selkirk says

    @232: Nassau County Republicans just did a press conference calling for George Santos to resign.

    Did they admit responsibility and apologize for not vetting their candidate in the first place?

  173. Reginald Selkirk says

    Putin Loses It in Taped Meeting With Russian Officials

    The Russian leader appeared to briefly lose it on Wednesday while meeting with government officials. The breaking point came when Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov publicly corrected Putin after he complained that some enterprises had not yet secured contracts for the construction of new aircraft this year—a formidable task given that the country has been cut off from many Western imports crucial to construction.
    Footage from the meeting shows Manturov quickly shot back that “investment projects” were underway, but Putin cut him off to gripe that it’s “taking too long.”
    “There are no orders even for 2023 at some enterprises,” he said—only to be corrected yet again when Manturov told him “all the enterprises” have orders for the year and “the Defense Ministry confirmed the number.”
    Putin, trying to keep his cool, responded by again insisting he was right and Manturov was wrong…

  174. says

    Ukraine acquiring cluster bombs from Turkey; life and death in Bakhmut

    When I first saw this video I wondered why the hell would that soldier be trying to catch a grenade being dropped by a drone. Turns out its a delivery of sugar to a Ukrainian soldier for tea. [video at the link]

    Russia has been using cluster munitions against Ukraine since the start of the war. The bombs, which release a cluster of many smaller bombs that detonate over a wide area, are controversial and banned because of the problems caused by unexploded munitions that are spread everywhere.

    Ukraine has wanted these weapons to use against Russia but the US has declined to supply them. Turkey agreed recently to supply them instead.

    After months of fruitless attempts to get the weapons from USA, Ukraine has managed to convince Ankara to sell Kyiv artillery-fired cluster bombs (DPICM).

    Turkey has been providing Ukraine with the powerful—but controversial—weapon since November according to Foreign Policy. [Illustration at the link, plus tweet and additional video]

    The Russians shelled a maternity hospital in Kherson today. [video at the link]

    This video shows an attack on a Russian trench in Bakhmut. Be warned, however.

    This video is very explicit and shows soldiers dying. [video at the link]

    The road to Bakhmut, a living hell. [video at the link]

    Imagine living in Bakhmut and not knowing when a shell might strike. The entire city should be evacuated. This link goes to a photo of a woman and her dog killed by Russian artillery as she was about to take the dog for a walk. It’s a powerful photo but it might disturb some, so I’m not embedding it. [Link available at the main link]

    Bakhmut is truly a killing field. [Tweet with a lot of additional text is available at the link, including this bit, “A few days ago a guy in Bakhmut told me he calls the Russians “death clowns” because they just run straight into machine guns to die one after the other.]

    [many tweets, videos, maps, etc.]

    When I see stuff like this I know it will be a very, very long time before Russia can be part of the peaceful world community again.

    “Kill the fascist scum forever!” – Russian children recite propagandist poems.

    A horrible sight. [video at the link. JFC]

    [Tweets, videos and images]

    There has been much speculation for many months that this war would lead to a breakup of the Russian Federation. This might be a first step of that in Ingushetia, a region in the Caucasus near Georgia and Chechnya.

    Congress of Supporters of the Independence of Ingushetia (now a part of Russia) took place in Istanbul.

    In their declaration Ingushetia elder condemned Russian annexation of Crimea, invasion to Ukraine and other Russian war crimes. Ingushetia will strive for independence. [video at the link]