1. says

    whheydt @ #500 on the previous thread:

    Rather depends on what one means by “the counteroffensive has begun.” Ukraine appears to have been “shaping the battlefield” for some time now by attacking (and destroying) transport infrastructure, supplies, command & control points, and troop concentrations well behind the lines. Do those things count as part of the counteroffensive?

    Since that’s been going on for a while and since I assume the Russian MoD knows the difference between that and the “real” start of the counteroffensive, I assume they mean the latter. The question then is whether or not they’re lying. I would ordinarily not repeat anything from any Russian officials, but I figured people would take it with a grain of salt; as others have noted, they would probably like to claim attacks that they’ve repelled to make people think the counteroffensive is weak or failing. And they could believe it but be mistaken. But I thought it noteworthy.

  2. whheydt says

    Re: SC (Salty Current) @ #3…
    Reminds one of the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” posters from WW2.

  3. says

    Some podcast episodes:

    Bribe, Swindle[,] or Steal – “The Outlaw Ocean”:

    New York Times reporter Ian Urbina discusses his excellent but grim series about crime and impunity on the high seas. (This episode was originally published in 2020.)

    A horrifying web of oppression and destruction.

    Our Hen House – “Total Liberation w/ Yvette Baker”:

    Longtime animal advocates may be familiar with the term total liberation, but what exactly does this mean? Yvette Baker joins us today for an exploration of total liberation activism and its profound influence on her own animal advocacy. In our conversation, she sheds light on oppressive language commonly used when representing animals and urges everyone to unlearn and challenge it for the sake of progress. Yvette also tells how growing up in an Indigenous household impacted her perspective on animal activism, lending a unique lens to her advocacy work. We also explore the interconnectedness of various forms of oppression, illustrating how animal activism is an integral part of a broader continuum.

    Link to transcript at the link. (When she talks about advocating for rats at a local pet shop when she was a kid I thought of Caine and her photos which made me see rats in a different way.)

    Tech Won’t Save Us – “The Online Shopping Boom Is Over w/ Amanda Mull”:

    Paris Marx is joined by Amanda Mull to discuss the history of consumerism and where ecommerce goes in the next few years as interest rates rise and its market share stalls.

    Amanda Mull is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she writes the Material World column. She’s also a shop steward at The Atlantic Union….

    New Books Network – “Naoíse Mac Sweeney, The West: A New History of an Old Idea:

    Dr. Naoíse Mac Sweeney presents a radical new account of how the idea of the West has shaped our history, told through the stories of fourteen fascinating lives in her book The West: A New History of an Old Idea (Dutton, 2023).

    We tend to imagine Western Civilisation as a golden thread, leading through the centuries from classical antiquity to the countries of the modern West – a cultural genealogy that connects Plato to NATO. It is an idea often invoked in the speeches of politicians and the rhetoric of journalists, and which remains deeply embedded in popular culture. But what if it is wrong?

    In an epic sweep through the ages, prize-winning archaeologist and historian Naoíse Mac Sweeney charts the history of this idea – an idea of enormous political significance, but which is nonetheless factually incorrect and obscures the wondrous, rich diversity of our past. She reveals how this particular version of Western history was invented, how it has been used to justify imperialism and racism, and why it is no longer ideologically fit for purpose today.

    Told through the lives of fourteen fascinating historical figures – including a formidable Roman matriarch, an unconventional Islamic scholar, an enslaved African American poetess and a British prime minister with Homeric aspirations – The West is a groundbreaking retelling of Western history and a powerful corrective to one of the greatest myths of all: Western Civilisation.

    I look forward to reading this. The part about Troy is wild.

  4. whheydt says

    This relates, I think, to the earlier post about the Russian MoD claiming that Ukraine’s counter-offensive has started. It’s the BBC reporting on what the Russians are say, so take it with several pounds of salt…

    Russia’s defence ministry says it has thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive and killed 250 Ukrainian troops.

    There has been no comment from Kyiv and the Russian claim has not been independently verified.

    The ministry said Ukraine had launched the offensive in the Donetsk region on Sunday using six mechanised and two tank battalions.

    A Ukrainian counter-offensive has been promised, but on Sunday, Kyiv called for silence ahead of the operation.

    It is as yet unclear whether the alleged attacks indicate that the offensive to recapture Ukrainian land from Russian forces has started.

    “On the morning of 4 June, the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front in the South Donetsk direction,” the Russian defence ministry said on Telegram.

    The ministry said the Ukrainians tried to break through Russian defences in what Kyiv saw as the most vulnerable part of the frontline.

    “The enemy did not achieve its tasks, it had no success.”

    Video posted showed military vehicles being attacked from the air. Moscow claimed Ukraine had lost 250 troops as well as 16 tanks.

    Ukraine has been planning a counter-offensive for months. But it has wanted as much time as possible to train troops and to receive military equipment from Western allies.

    Officials in Kyiv have warned against public speculation over the offensive, saying it could help the enemy.

    “Plans love silence. There will be no announcement of the start,” the defence ministry said in a video posted to Telegram on Sunday.

    The footage featured masked and well-armed troops holding their fingers against their lips.

  5. says

    CNN – “Exclusive: Ukraine has cultivated sabotage agents inside Russia and is giving them drones to stage attacks, sources say”:

    …US officials believe that Ukraine has developed sabotage cells inside Russia made up of a mix of pro-Ukrainian sympathizers and operatives well-trained in this kind of warfare. Ukraine is believed to have provided them with Ukrainian-made drones, and two US officials told CNN there is no evidence that any of the drone strikes have been conducted using US-provided drones.

    Officials could not say conclusively how Ukraine has managed to get the drones behind enemy lines, but two of the sources told CNN that it has established well-practiced smuggling routes that could be used to send drones or drone components into Russia where they could then be assembled.

    A European intelligence official noted that the Russian-Ukrainian border is vast and very difficult to control, making it ripe for smuggling – something the official said the Ukrainians have been doing for the better part of the decade that they’ve been at war with pro-Russian forces.

    “You also have to consider that this is a peripheral area of Russia,” the official said. “Survival is everyone’s problem, so cash works wonders.”

    Who exactly is controlling these assets is also murky, the sources told CNN, though US officials believe that elements within Ukraine’s intelligence community are involved. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has set general parameters for what his intelligence and security services are allowed to do, two of the sources said, but not every operation requires his sign-off.

    Asked for comment, a spokesperson for the head of the Ukrainian Security Service suggested to CNN that the mysterious explosions and drone strikes inside Russia would continue.

    “We will comment on instances of ‘cotton’ only after our victory,” he said. Quoting the head of the Security Service, Vasyl Malyuk, the spokesperson added that regardless, “‘cotton’ has been burning, is burning, and will continue burning.”

    “Cotton” is a slang-word that Ukrainians use to mean explosions, usually in Russia or Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine. Its origins date back to the early weeks of the war and stem from the fact that the Russian word for a “pop” is very similar to the Ukrainian word for cotton.

    There has been a steady drumbeat of mysterious fires and explosions inside Russia over the last year, targeting oil and fuel depots, railways, military enlistment offices, warehouses and pipelines. But officials have noticed an uptick in these attacks on Russian soil in recent weeks, beginning with the attack on the Kremlin building. It appears to be “a culmination of months of effort” by the Ukrainians to set up the infrastructure for such sabotage, said one of the sources familiar with the intelligence.

    Publicly, senior US officials have condemned the strikes inside Russia, warning of the potential for an escalation of the war. But speaking privately to CNN, US and western officials said that they believe the cross-border attacks are a smart military strategy that could divert Russian resources to protecting its own territory, as Ukraine gears up for a major counteroffensive.

    On Tuesday, the UK’s Foreign Secretary told reporters that Ukraine has “the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia’s ability to project force into Ukraine itself. Legitimate military targets beyond its own borders are internationally recognized as being part of a nation’s self-defense…We should recognize that.”

    French Vice Admiral Nicolas Vaujour, chief of operations of the Joint Staff, told CNN on Friday that the attacks inside Russia are merely “part of war” and offer an opportunity to send a message to Russia’s population.

    “There is a war there and it could concern you [the Russian public] in the future,” Vaujour said of the attacks. “And so it’s a good way for Ukrainians to address a message not only to Vladimir Putin, but to the Russian population,” he added.

    Regarding the attacks, he said that it wasn’t “forbidden” for Ukraine to think about that.

    Ukrainian officials, moreover, have said privately that they plan to continue the attacks inside Russia because it is a good distraction tactic that is forcing Russia to be concerned with its own security at home, according to a US source who has spoken to Ukrainian officials in recent days.

    In an intelligence update, the UK Ministry of Defense said that attacks by pro-Ukrainian partisan groups and drone strikes in the border region of Belgorod have forced Russia to deploy “the full range of military firepower on its own territory.”

    “Russian commanders now face an acute dilemma,” the update said, “of whether to strength defences in Russia’s border regions or reinforce their lines in occupied Ukraine.”

  6. says

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

    A significant escalation in fighting along the frontlines in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions has been reported overnight, but there was no confirmation from Ukrainian officials that it marked the started of their long-planned counteroffensive.

    Russia claimed to have repelled a “major offensive” in the Donetsk region and to have killed hundreds of Ukrainian troops, but the claims could not be independently verified. The defence ministry in Moscow said Ukraine had attacked with six mechanised and two tank battalions from two brigades.

    The ministry claimed 250 Ukrainian troops had been killed, and 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armoured personnel carriers destroyed. It also claimed that Valery Gerasimov, the Russian chief of general staff, had been near the frontlines when the attack was repelled. The Russian defence ministry has consistently made exaggerated claims about the casualties its forces have inflicted.

    A Moscow-backed militia leader and Russian military bloggers admitted that Ukrainian forces had achieved a breakthrough in at least one point in south-western Donetsk. Ukrainian officials made no comment, and emphasised the need for secrecy about operations in recent days as anticipation grows for a major counteroffensive.

    Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Monday that Ukrainian forces had retaken part of the settlement of Berkhivka, north of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, calling it a “disgrace”….

  7. says

    Also in the Guardian:

    “Brazil police charge alleged mastermind behind murders of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira”:

    Alleged leader of ‘transnational criminal organisation’ and a supposed subordinate have been charged over the 2022 murders of journalist and Indigenous expert

    They are:

    – Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, the alleged leader of a transnational illegal fishing network that operated in the tri-border region between Brazil, Colombia and Peru

    – And Jânio Freitas de Souza, a fisher who was allegedly one of Silva Villar’s henchmen along the Itaquaí river where Phillips and Pereira were murdered.

    “Poland: hundreds of thousands march against rightwing populist government”:

    Hundreds of thousands of people have marched through central Warsaw to protest against Poland’s rightwing populist government before a delicately poised election due in the autumn.

    The Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in 2015, since when it has eroded democratic norms, attacked the independent judiciary and launched campaigns against the LGBTQ+ community and reproductive rights.

    “We’re half a million here, it’s a record,” said Donald Tusk, the former prime minister who leads the Civic Platform opposition grouping. He said the march on Sunday had been the biggest political gathering since Poland regained independence after the communist period.

    There was no official confirmation of the size of the rally, though Warsaw’s city hall also gave a 500,000 estimate, and central streets thronged with crowds of protesters. The city’s metro was overwhelmed as people converged on the centre. Many people waved Polish or EU flags and the mood was defiant but often festive.

    “The whole of Poland, the whole of Europe and the whole world sees how strong we are and how we are ready to fight for democracy and freedom again, like we did 30, 40 years ago,” Tusk told the crowds at the start of the rally….

    “War brings urgency to fight for LGBT rights in Ukraine”:

    The Ukrainian MP Andrii Kozhemiakin is a wiry, conservative ex-spy who likes to emphasise his Christian faith and large family. He is also an unlikely new recruit in the fight for LGBT rights in Ukraine.

    A draft civil union law that would give same-sex partnerships legal status for the first time was introduced this year to Ukraine’s parliament, which is still functioning despite the war.

    Kozhemiakin’s committee was the first to debate it and the team behind the legislation were bracing for defeat; they had even prepared a statement. He started with a script they recognised, talking about his Soviet-era KGB training, his religious beliefs and his “personal opinion about LGBT people”.

    And then he announced his wholehearted support for the legislation, referencing Vladimir Putin’s homophobic claim that there are no gay Russians.

    “Anything that our enemy hates … I will support,” Kozhemiakin said. “If it will never exist in Russia, it should exist and be supported here, to show them and signal to them that we are different. This law is like a smile towards Europe and a middle finger to Russia. So I support it.”

    Inna Sovsun, the MP who drafted the law and is now trying to shepherd it through parliament, said Kozhemiakin’s speech was “the most unexpected thing in my political career”.

    She would prefer allies who embrace the moral argument for equal marriage, but faces an uphill struggle to get the law passed, and that day showed “there are people who can support the bill for different reasons”….

    Schismogenesis: a case study.

    “Ben Roberts-Smith and four key witnesses were not honest or reliable, judge says in full verdict”:

    Ben Roberts-Smith and four key witnesses he called were not honest or reliable when it came to their evidence, a federal court justice has found in the full judgment of the war veteran’s defamation case.

    Justice Anthony Besanko’s complete judgment – 736 pages long – was published on Monday afternoon after he delivered an initial summary decision in court on Thursday….

    Link to their Australia liveblog at the link. Much more at all of the links.

  8. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine’s military said on Monday it had no information about a major offensive which Russia said Kyiv had launched in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk, Reuters reports.

    “We do not have such information and we do not comment on any kind of fake,” a spokesperson for the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff said in response to a question from Reuters.

    A two-day event has started in the European parliament that has brought together more than 200 Russian opposition and civil society activists to discuss how the EU can support Russian democratic forces.

    Convened by four MEPs, the conference is entitled “The Day After”, and is meant to discuss strategy for a hypothetical post-Putin Russia.

    “I would call this the first gathering of people who believe in the future of a democratic Russia,” said Andrius Kubilius, the Lithuanian MEP behind the forum.

    Speaking in the opening session, the exiled opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was the richest person in Russia until he was jailed for a decade in 2003, said the only hope for a future Russia that does not cause problems for the rest of the world was fundamental political change:

    “This regime should be destroyed, there is no other road to a peaceful normal future for Russia and for Europe and the whole world. The simple change of Putin to another person with a different name but no move to a federalised parliamentary system with free elections will not change anything,” he said

    How to get to that stage is a more difficult question, of course. “The conditions in Russia are certainly not ideal for the rise of democracy,” said Katarina Barley, vice-president of the European parliament, in what is perhaps the understatement of the day.

  9. says

    I’ve been looking into Constitutional interpretation and related areas lately, and thought this talk was excellent (YT link) – “Erwin Chemerinsky on Originalism and the Supreme Court”:

    As engaged citizens it is important for us all to understand the role the Supreme Court plays in our lives and its decisions impact us all. Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the nation’s foremost Constitutional scholars, covers these issues in a series of three Hammer Forums.

    This final installment concentrates on constitutional interpretation and the role originalism plays or doesn’t play in the Court’s decisions.

  10. says

    BBC – “Covid: Anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists guilty of 5G mast plot”:

    Two anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists have been found guilty of offences in connection with a plot to destroy 5G mobile phone masts.

    Darren Reynolds, of Newbould Crescent, Sheffield, was found guilty of six terror offences at Leeds Crown Court.

    Christine Grayson, of Boothwood Road, York, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

    Reynolds and Grayson discussed armed uprisings and advocated violence towards MPs, the jury heard.

    Grayson, 59, discussed “getting rid” of the masts with expanding foam and angle grinders during discussions online, the court heard.

    Both defendants regarded 5G masts as pieces of “enemy infrastructure” and Grayson said she needed a “sabotage team” to “get rid of these 5G bloody near me” in a message on social media on 7 August 2021.

    When police searched Grayson’s home they found a crossbow and a number of crossbow bolts, while at Reynolds’ property they discovered two replica assault rifles.

    Reynolds, 60, was found guilty of encouraging terrorism with online comments including calling for MPs to be killed.

    The court heard that Reynolds described murdered MP Sir David Amess as a “traitor” and reacted with approval to another user’s view that Thomas Mair had “rightly executed the murdered MP Jo Cox because of her alleged treason”.

    He was also convicted of disseminating a terrorist publication by sharing a link to a neo-Nazi document.

    He was found guilty of six offences of possessing material likely to be useful to a person committing an act of terrorism, including a manual on how to build a rifle, and a document called How To Become An Assassin….

  11. says

    Dmitri on Twitter:

    Khodakovsky claims Ukraine is stepping up efforts in the Vuhledar area, says first Leopards were sighted:

    “The situation on Novodonets’ke and to the left towards Velika Novosilka is difficult – the enemy, having felt our weak points, is stepping up his efforts. For the first time we saw leopards in our tactical area. As I expected yesterday – having a sense of success, the enemy will throw additional forces into the battle. Only in the area of ​​Novodonets’ke recorded up to thirty units of armored vehicles.”

  12. says

    Noel on Twitter:

    A map of the southern part of the Donetsk region where fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops has been reported since yesterday. Novodarivka, Neskuchne, Storozheve and Novodonets’ke are places which are reported to be contested. The actual situation is still unclear.

  13. says

    Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted:

    Russian news reports have long since become a separate virtual meta-universe. #Moscow is already actively involved in repelling… a global offensive that “does not yet exist.” The million-strong Russian army is actively repelling attacks, destroying thousands of tanks, hundreds of #HIMARS, and F-16 squadrons. The battle is on, in a word. #Ukraine is closely watching this epic battle, albeit with some surprise. We would not like to interrupt the classic “Russian performance”, but still: follow only official news from Ukraine if you want to know the truth.

  14. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A supposed radio address by Russian president Vladimir Putin heard on Monday on Russian stations in regions bordering Ukraine was fake and the result of a hack, the Kremlin said.

    RIA, the state-owned news agency, said a number of radio stations had carried the hoax address.

    Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, said: “All of these messages are an utter fake,” the RIA reports.

    Independent Russian media reported that the announcement had told residents of the Rostov, Belgorod and Voronezh regions, all of which adjoin Ukraine, that Kyiv’s forces had crossed the border with Russia.

    They cited the address as saying, wrongly, that martial law had been declared in border regions and a nationwide military mobilisation had begun for Russia’s war with Ukraine, and that residents should evacuate deeper into Russia.

    On Sunday, TV broadcasts in Crimea were reportedly hacked with a clip from a short film released by the Ukrainian government showing members of the military putting their fingers to their lips and saying “shh” followed by the words “Plans love silence. There will be no announcement about the start.”

    The radio address also took the form of a deepfake video (Twitter link).

    My colleague Dan Sabbagh, our defence and security editor, offers this analysis of developments in the ground on Ukraine:

    Ukraine may not have formally declared its counteroffensive has begun, but the attacks being reported on Russian lines overnight and into Monday morning look like the first steps of what is likely to be a tough military campaign.

    Individual reports should be viewed sceptically but taken together they can build up a picture. What is clear is that there is not an all-out assault, but also that the level of forces being committed are non-trivial. These are not exploratory raids, but most likely probing attacks, searching for local Russian weaknesses.

    If the Russian Ministry of Defence is correct, and Ukraine has attacked with two brigades, that amounts to a force of several thousand troops.

    There is also evidence of Ukraine undertaking attacks elsewhere on the 1,000km front. The leader of the Wagner mercenary forces, Yevgeny Prigozhin, complained that Russian troops had fled from part of Berkhivka, a village north of the recently taken Bakhmut, on the eastern front, suggesting that exploratory attacks may not only be taking place in the south.

    It is possible, too, that Ukraine does not even know where it wants to place its key counter-attack forces, until a point of weakness is found. The aim of the initial attacks would be to secure a breakthrough that a subsequent force, held in reserve, can exploit to then surround the defenders.

  15. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    NYTimes – What happened when a Brooklyn neighborhood policed itself

    letting neighbors, not the police, respond to low-level street crime.

    Several times a year, workers from Brownsville In Violence Out stand sentry on two blocks for five days. The police channel all 911 calls from that area to the civilians. Unless there is a major incident or a victim demands an arrest, officers, always in plainclothes, shadow the workers.
    no arrest powers. But they have persuaded people to turn in illegal guns, prevented shoplifting, kept a man from robbing a bodega
    The idea […] to rebuild the precinct’s relationship with a wary community. […] sometimes all that is needed to keep the peace is a person with credibility—not necessarily a badge—telling someone: “Get out of here. You’re bugging.” […] the “community responder model,” […] Similar programs are underway in Eugene, Ore.; Denver; and Rochester, N.Y., among other places

  16. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has claimed Russian reports that Ukraine has started a counteroffensive are intended to distract from losses Russia has sustained in the Bakhmut region.

    In a post on the Telegram messaging app, Hanna Maliar wrote:

    What is happening now? We are continuing the defence that began on 24 February, 2022.

    The defensive operation includes everything, including counteroffensive actions. Therefore, in some areas we are moving to offensive actions.

    In particular, the Bakhmut direction remains the epicenter of hostilities. There we are moving along a fairly wide front. We are successful. We occupy the dominant heights. The enemy is on the defensive and wants to hold his position.

    In the south – the enemy is on the defensive. Fighting of local importance continues.

    Why are the Russians actively releasing information about a counteroffensive?

    Because they need to divert attention from the defeat in the Bakhmut direction.

  17. StevoR says

    The graph here :

    By the University of Maine and its Climate Reanalyser :

    Literally terrifies me.

    This : *

    is where we are now..

    .* Quote : “The 2022 winners of the Environmental Photographer of the Year have been announced.” Gallery of award winning & caward contending for photos with accompanying info there.

  18. StevoR says

    The hell did that “c’ get there? Aaargh. Typos FFS.

    Also why is sea spelled s-e-a when we say c? Also lightspeed abbriev and ocean are the same proun-sea-ashon wise..

  19. StevoR says

    Here. My home city :

    Under the guise of cracking down on climate change protests that triggered a minor traffic delay, Labor joined hands with the Liberal Party opposition to pass laws that can effectively criminalise any protest, march, rally or demonstration. In fact, they ban any activity at all that allegedly disrupts “free passage of a public place.”

    That could include handing leaflets on a footpath or in a public mall, demonstrating outside parliament house, participating in a workers’ march against low pay and intolerable conditions, or joining a picket during a strike.

    The legislation was rammed through both houses of state parliament in a matter of hours, despite several hastily-called protests, and shock and condemnation voiced by a wide range of civil liberties, legal and other non-government organisations.

    With Labor now in office throughout Australia, except for Tasmania, these laws mark an escalation of repressive police-state type of powers introduced over the past several years by federal and state governments.

    The changes to South Australia’s Summary Offences Act dramatically increase maximum fines from $750 to $50,000. They add the prospect of imprisonment, for up to three months, as well as possible huge imposts to pay for the alleged costs incurred by police or other authorities in responding to the “obstruction.” ..

    .. here was a revealing display of unity between Premier Peter Malinauskas and the state Liberal leader David Speirs, who spearheaded the passage of the laws by agitating for them on talkback radio. Later, Speirs boasted that the legislation went through parliament in “near record time.” He caused outrage by declaring that people should be happy because they could be “beheaded” in other countries for joining protests.

    This week, the two parties conducted a 14-hour overnight session to push the changes through the upper house by early Wednesday morning, rejecting Greens amendments to include a reasonable excuse test and an expiry date.

  20. StevoR says

    Also on my state’s draconian new anti-Climate Activism laws :

    It took only 22 minutes for anti-protest legislation to pass one of the two houses needed for it to become law – and now a number of SA’s leading civil society groups are calling for the SA Government to spend another 22 minutes or even less this week to send the bill to committee for proper review.

    The coalition includes the South Australian Council of Social Service, SA Unions, the Working Women’s Centre, Conservation SA, Rights Resource Network SA, Amnesty International Australia, Australian Democracy Network, Human Rights Law Network, SA Abortion Action Coalition and many more. A total of 80 civil society groups signed an open letter to Parliament protesting the bill that appeared in Friday’s The Advertiser.

    ..(snip)… Quotes attributable to SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley:

    “This will be a bad law, badly made, and the result will be bad for all South Australians.

    “This legislation was drafted hastily by the Opposition, and then just as hastily seized by the Government and tabled in the Lower House where it was passed in just 22 minutes, with no debate or interrogation. Not even a single question about what it might mean.

    ..snip.. Quotes attributable to Human Rights Law Centre Senior Lawyer, David Mejia-Canales:

    “South Australia was the first place in the world to give women the right to be elected and the first in the country to give women the right to vote. These rights didn’t just appear. They were won because the suffragists protested and organised.

    “The proposed anti-protest laws before the Parliament are so broad and vague that even the suffragists could have been jailed under them- all because they wanted to have a say over their destiny.

    “A good government would not support these laws.”

    .. snip.. Quotes attributable to Working Women’s Centre Director Abbey Kendall:

    “South Australians should be able to protest without penalty and fear of jail time. Progress is, more often than not, won through protest, demonstrations and robust public debate.

    “Sometimes protest is obstructive, sometimes we have to take up more space than permitted. It is entirely undemocratic to change the law and slap on jail time in 22 minutes.”

    Quotes attributable to Amnesty International Australia SA/NT President Adelaide Xerri:

    “The right to protest is a foundational part of democracy. It’s how we hold those that represent us to account. Disruptive peaceful protests have been crucial to making the world a better place,..

    Source :

    “Premier” Malisantos, er, Malinauskas (yeah, bad form to pick on names but can’t resist..) has a brother whoworks for Santos, prettty high up I think. Dodgy as.

  21. says

    (((Tendar))) on Twitter:

    I have seen today so much where I could say something, but it is so hilariously good what Russians believe is happening. I will not spoil the fun, yet.

    But there are some things I can tell. Here we go…

    [“muffled screaming” GIF at the link]

  22. Pierce R. Butler says

    BBC update to SC…’s # 14:

    Reynolds, of Newbould Crescent, Sheffield, had been cleared of conspiracy to commit criminal damage in relation to 5G masts, but found guilty of terrorism offences.

    He was jailed for 12 years, with an additional year on licence, after being found guilty of offences linked to his “extreme right wing, antisemitic and racist views”. …

    … She [Grayson] was found guilty of conspiracy to commit criminal damage, while Reynolds was cleared of that charge. …

    … Grayson was told she would be released on licence, but failure to comply and she would be returned to prison to serve the remainder of her sentence. [Length of sentence not included in report]

    Hey, somebody’s got to make Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. look good!

  23. Reginald Selkirk says

    Linda Yaccarino Takes Over Hot Mess Twitter as Ad Revenue Plunges

    Former NBCUniversal advertising chief Linda Yaccarino assumed her role as Twitter CEO today…

    The same day, The New York Times reported that Twitter brought in $88 million in advertising revenue from April 1 to the first week of May, a decrease of 59% year-over-year. Ad sales make up to 90% of the company’s revenue, making these latest results a gut punch for the company.

    With Yaccarino at the helm focusing on business operations, Musk has stated he would become the company’s executive chairman and chief technology officer, overseeing product, software, and system operations…

  24. says

    CNBC – “Trump lawyers meet with DOJ after ex-president slams indictment speculation”:

    Lawyers for Donald Trump met Monday morning with Department of Justice officials, a day after the former president noted speculation that special counsel Jack Smith is moving closer to seeking an indictment of him.

    NBC News confirmed Trump lawyers on Monday met with officials at the DOJ headquarters in Washington, D.C., after CBS News tweeted a photo of three attorneys walking in to the building. The lawyers, John Rowley, James Trusty and Lindsey Halligan, left the DOJ shortly before noon ET, but declined to comment, NBC reported.

    Soon after the meeting ended, Trump posted an all-caps message to his Truth Social account, saying: “How can DOJ possibly charge me, who did nothing wrong, when no other presidents were charged.” [It was a whole rant.]

    Smith is investigating Trump in two separate cases.

    One relates to Trump’s retention of government documents, many of them classified, at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida when he left the White House, and possible obstruction of justice in thwarting the recovery of that material by the National Archives and Records Administration.

    NBC reported on Saturday that the federal grand jury that has been hearing evidence in that case is expected to resume proceedings this week in Washington.

    The other probe by Smith is focused on efforts by Trump and allies, including his campaign lawyers, to overturn his loss in the 2020 election of President Joe Biden, and effectively block confirmation of Biden’s victory in the Electoral College by a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021….

  25. says

    Ukraine Update: The calm before the storm isn’t so calm

    Ukraine claims 42,000 women currently serve in its armed forces [photo at the link]

    JUST when I write that Ukraine appears to have stopped pushing on Bakhmut’s flanks…

    Sladkov says Ukraine is pressing on Russia’s flanks in Bakhmut, including shelling Klishchiivka and Kurdyumivka south of Bakhmut (using UAVs for ISR and loitering munitions). He says Ukraine has infiltrated the SW corner of Bakhmut and is bringing armor. [Tweet at the link]

    Sladkov is a Russian “journalist,” aka war propagandist.

    If this is true, and Leopards have shown up, then this is it.

    Khodakovsky claims Ukraine is stepping up efforts in the Vuhledar area, says first Leopards were sighted: “The situation on Novodonets’ke and to the left towards Velika Novosilka is difficult – the enemy, having felt our weak points, is stepping up his efforts. For the first time we saw leopards in our tactical area. As I expected yesterday – having a sense of success, the enemy will throw additional forces into the battle. Only in the area of ​​Novodonets’ke recorded up to thirty units of armored vehicles.”

    And it this is it, then indeed, it’s still a spring counteroffensive.

    Everyone is waiting for Ukraine’s spring/summer counteroffensive to begin, but none more so than the Russians, who are so jumpy that they claimed a small probing action in Zaporizhzhia oblast was the beginning (and end) of the expected Ukrainian action. Let’s take a look at where things stand.

    First of all, Ukraine is telling people to … shush. [A reference to the video already noted upthread. See SC’s comment 4, video also available at the link for this article.]

    We’ll contrast that quiet confidence with the shit-show that is Russia in a moment, but first a word about what silence means in operational security (OpSec).

    It doesn’t mean that people don’t repost video clips, or geolocate them.

    If Russia posts a video, they know that 1) whatever is depicted took place, and 2) where it took place.

    If Ukraine posts a video, it is okay with that video being released. The soldiers and airmen with access to those videos know what the OpSec rules are. And as you’ll often see, if they don’t want the video geolocated, they will blur any background identifying features. They’re quite aware of the game.

    You will see people complain on Twitter, Telegram, or right here at Daily Kos when such videos are posted, misunderstanding the situation. Ukraine doesn’t want the locals posting videos of their troop movements, or pretty much any battlefield information that could endanger the troops. But if it’s on Twitter, where most of us see this stuff, it’s already been seen by millions on Telegram, where the Russians actually hang out.

    Getting back to Ukraine’s quiet confidence, let’s contrast that with the chaos of the Russian side. There was so much chaos this weekend.

    Wagner Group mercenaries actually got in a firefight with a Russian army unit, captured its commander, a lieutenant colonel, broke his nose in signs of torture, then filmed him admitting to targeting Wagner out of “personal animosity.” [Tweet at the link, with video]

    Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin must be feeling pretty untouchable to not just kidnap and beat a Russian army officer, but to post it online. […] As several people joked today (so not my joke), we may be getting to a place where Russia isn’t even the second best Army in Ukraine!

    Similarly, Wagner’s feud with pro-Moscow Chechen Kadyrovites is escalating, with a not-so-veiled threat posted on Wagner Telegram accounts. The meme features a picture of bombed out Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, with the caption: “Grozny, Chechnya 2000. We can repeat.” [image at the link]

    Meanwhile, pro-Ukrainian Russian forces and some Polish foreign legionaries have actually occupied a couple of border settlement on the Russian side of the border in Belgorod. No, they’re not marching on Moscow, and they might’ve retreated back to Ukraine by the time you read this, but they’re certainly making Russian dictator Vladimir Putin look impotent. Russia must either peels troops away from the Ukrainian front lines to stop these border excursions, or the Russian government keeps looking the fool as these marauders romp through the Russian countryside, playing whack-a-mole up and down that long border. This time, they even grabbed a couple of Russian POWs. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Kadyrovite leader Ramzan Kadyrov, fresh off promising to send troops to Bakhmut that never arrived, is now offering to secure Russia’s northern border. [Tweet at the link]

    To be clear, Kadyrov doesn’t have 70,000 troops [that’s his claim in the tweet]. Most estimates are around 10-12,000, of which only around 10% ever deployed to Ukraine. (When deployed, they mostly posted TikTok videos of themselves shooting at traffic lights and random empty buildings.) They certainly aren’t Spetsnaz—Russian special forces. Russia only has 17,000 of those, minus whatever they’ve lost in Ukraine.

    If Kadyrov had 70,000 Spetsnaz, he’d be able to declare independence and there’d be nothing Moscow could do about it. Mostly likely, he saw Prigozhin’s offer to secure the Belgorod border, and he decided he couldn’t be upstaged by his fierce nemesis. [Tweet and image at the link. “”We will not wait for an invitation.” Prigozhin declared his readiness to “protect” the Belgorod region. PMC “Wagner” fighters can come to the region, if the Russian Defense Ministry does not stop the “lawlessness” taking place there in the near future, said Yevgeny Prigozhin, adding that in such a case, the PMC will ask the authorities for munitions. The head of the “Wagner” mercenaries also claims that his conflict with Kadyrov is over.]
    I wish they’d just settle it all on the battlefield—it would be the ultimate expression of Russian toxic masculinity.

    Russia claimed the Ukrainian counteroffensive began today in southern Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia oblast, and they crushed it! It’s over! [LOL]

    On the morning of June 4, the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front in the South Donetsk direction by introducing into battle 23 and 31 mechanized brigades from the strategic reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the support of other military units and subunits.

    In total, six mechanized and two tank battalions of the enemy were involved […]

    As a result of the skillful and competent actions of the Eastern Group of Forces, the losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine amounted to more than 250 personnel, 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, 21 armored fighting vehicles. [As whheydt noted in comment 7]

    Actually, something is happening. Russia even released blurry video of what seems to be 9-10 stalled armored vehicles, including several on fire. It certainly doesn’t show 37 vehicles on fire. The video was geolocated in the direction of Mariupol, 1.2 kms inside the last assumed front lines. just west of Velika Novosilka. Ukraine released its own video claiming to show Ukrainian tanks destroying a Russian one. But honestly, I can’t tell what’s going on in that video.

    Still, Russian Telegram sources admit that Ukraine did manage to liberate settlements in that area, both at Novodarivka, and perhaps even at Neskuchne: [map at the link]

    For context, here is where we are on the map, pulled back: [map at the link]

    A Russian commander of the pro-Russian Donetsk militia, Alexander Khodakovsky, claims Ukraine took territory, took losses (as the video linked above would suggest), and—importantly—that this isn’t actually the big counteroffensive.

    On the Velikonovoselkovsky direction, the enemy is making an attempt to break through. Having grouped his shock fist, in the first half of the day he was able to achieve tactical success – he took one position from us, but suffered tangible losses. Now the enemy is building up his presence in the breakthrough sector – obviously, he is striving to increase his achievements.

    Neither action in the north in the direction of Novaya Tavolzhanka, nor action in the south is in itself the promised counter-offensive, but in the event of a breakthrough, more significant forces could be transferred to the site.

    This could be like the localized counteroffensive in Bakhmut’s flanks—territory regained on the initiative of local commanders. Or this could be probing actions, testing out Russia’s defenses and searching for weak spots along the lines. Or it could be a diversion, the way Ukraine signaled a Kherson offensive last September, when the real target was Kharkiv’s liberation.

    Which is it? No one knows outside a small group of people in Ukraine. All we can do is wait. Personally, I won’t believe the counteroffensive has started until we see Leopard main battle tanks on the prowl.

    Leopard main battle tanks may have shown up near Vuhledar.

  26. says

    Text quoted by Reginald @36:

    Musk has stated he would become the company’s executive chairman and chief technology officer, overseeing product, software, and system operations…

    That still sounds very bad. Musk is in position to wreak havoc on more of Twitter.

    SC @37, it’s almost not worth anyone’s time to read Trump’s rants anymore. He is still repeating the same lies and/or bluntly stupid misperceptions. As you indicated, what’s important is that lawyers for Trump met this morning with Department of Justice officials, so that indicates an indictment may be coming soon.

    Reginald 238, Nikki Haley is trying to walk a very narrow tightrope. She’s going to fall off soon. She can’t avoid offending MAGA trumpian cultists while she also runs a campaign for the presidency.

  27. says

    Republican leaders literally speechless about good news on jobs

    Job growth under President Joe Biden has been so strong that Republican leaders have to go out of their way to pretend not to notice the good news.

    It was tough to blame President Joe Biden for celebrating the latest numbers on job growth. The Democrat said in a statement on Friday:

    “Today is a good day for the American economy and American workers. We learned this morning that the economy created 339,000 jobs last month. We have now created over 13 million jobs since I took office. That is more jobs in 28 months than any president has created in an entire 4-year term.”

    Consider some of the details we learned on Friday morning:
    – Over 1.5 million jobs have been created in the United States so far this year — and that’s after just five months.
    – The unemployment rate has now been under 4% for 16 consecutive months, a stretch unseen since the 1960s.
    – The number of jobs created since January 2021 is more than double the combined total from Donald Trump’s first three years in the White House.

    And what, pray tell, do Republican leaders have to say about all of this? Not much.

    In keeping with the recent trend, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded to the job numbers by saying literally nothing about the good news. No press releases, no tweets, and no public comments. They literally found themselves speechless.

    This was hardly new: The GOP leadership in both chambers has spent nearly all of the Biden era pretending not to notice extraordinarily good job growth.

    […] There’s no great mystery here. McCarthy, McConnell, and their teams almost certainly believe that if they were to comment on the good news, more Americans might hear about it — and that’s the last thing Republicans want. There’s political utility in simply looking the other way.

    But the GOP’s silence doesn’t change the fact that by most measures, Americans simply have not seen a job market like this one in the last half-century.

  28. Reginald Selkirk says

    Airborne DNA accidentally collected by air-quality filters reveals state of species

    From owls to hedgehogs to fungi, genetic material from plants and animals is being inadvertently hoovered up by air-quality monitoring stations around the world, creating an untapped “vault of biodiversity data”, according to a new scientific paper.

    Globally, thousands of air filters are continually testing for heavy metals and other pollutants in the atmosphere. Scientists are now realising that this monitoring network is also picking up invisible traces of genetic material known as airborne environmental DNA (eDNA) from bits of hair, feathers, saliva and pollen…

  29. says

    Followup to comment Reginald’s comment 38:

    […] Former ambassador and governor Nikki Haley, at a Sunday CNN town hall, was the latest GOP candidate to squirm out of saying what degree of restriction she supports.

    Anchor Jake Tapper asked Haley whether she would sign a six-week gestational ban, if it came to her desk in the White House.

    “I will answer that when you ask Kamala and Biden if they would agree to 37 weeks, 38 weeks, 39 weeks,” she responded. “Then I’ll answer your question.”

    Demonizing “late-term abortions” is a common Republican tactic, seizing on an anti-abortion myth that women are frequently carrying their pregnancies almost completely to term before having an elective abortion divorced from a medical emergency. And elsewhere in her answers, Haley insisted that she supports a “consensus” decision on abortion, whatever can get 60 votes in the Senate.

    But her refusal to say what kind of ban she’d support […] reveals the political danger of the issue to Republicans.

    Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser, responding to similar comments Haley made in May on CBS, called her position “not acceptable.”

    “Ambassador Haley is uniquely gifted at communicating from a pro-life woman’s perspective,” Dannenfelser said in a statement. “I look forward to confirmation of her concrete goals.”

    Haley’s competitors aren’t faring much better. […]

  30. says

    No, Jack Smith Isn’t Leaking All The Damning Mar-A-Lago Evidence

    Where’s It Coming From?
    I’ve had quite a few questions in recents weeks from lay persons and readers about the stream of revelations coming out about the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

    The short answer is that the sources of the flurry of stories we’ve seen are witnesses in the case or, more precisely, their lawyers. Trump World figures, in responding and reacting to some of the disclosures, have divulged some new information, too, but that’s been less revealing of the underlying facts than of potential defenses they might use and the public narrative they want to create.

    None of the big reveals about the MAL evidence from the last few weeks bear much sign of having come from Smith, the FBI, or DOJ more broadly.

    Kurt Eichenwald, the veteran investigative reporter, had a good thread on the dynamics: [Tweet at the link]

    As Eichenwald notes, the timing of these revelations is probably another sign that we’re nearing the end of the pre-indictment phase of the case. […]

  31. says

    Migrants’ trip to Sacramento aboard private jet appears to have been arranged by state of Florida, officials say

    More than a dozen migrants from South America who were recently flown on a chartered jet from New Mexico and dropped off in Sacramento were carrying documents indicating that their transportation was arranged by the state of Florida, California’s attorney general said Sunday.

    The documents appear to show that the flight was arranged through the Florida Division of Emergency Management and that it was part of the state’s program to relocate migrants, mostly from Texas, to other states, Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said.

    The contractor for the program is Vertol Systems Co., which coordinated similar flights that took dozens of Venezuelan asylum seekers from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts last year, he said. […]

  32. Reginald Selkirk says

    A man wants to trademark ‘Trump too small’ for T-shirts. Now the Supreme Court will hear the case.

    The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear a case in which a man tried to trademark a phrase mocking former President Donald Trump as “too small.”

    The Justice Department is supporting President Joe Biden’s once and possibly future rival in urging the court to deny a trademark for the suggestive phrase “Trump too small” that a California man wants to put on T-shirts.

    The case will be argued in the fall, one of two disputes on the court’s upcoming agenda that involve Trump or one of his businesses. Government officials said the phrase “Trump too small” could still be used, just not trademarked because Trump had not consented to its use. But a federal appeals court said refusing trademark registration violated free speech rights…

  33. says

    Wonkette: “Actual Nazis Use Montana Drag Ban To Get Trans Authors Banned From Reading At Libraries, So That’s Bad”

    Friday, actual good news came out of a Trump judge’s courtroom, when US District Court Judge Thomas L. Parker ruled in the dead of night that Tennessee’s drag ban is not just unconstitutional, but LMAO Go Fuck Yourself Unconstitutional. (Legal term.) This made Memphis’s pride parade and festival the next day just that much sweeter, according to pretty much everyone we know, and we would know because we live there.

    Meanwhile in Montana, things took a turn for the more horrifying last week, in an entirely predictable way to anyone who’s been paying attention. The state’s own absurdly ridiculous anti-drag law was used to ban a transgender person from reading from their own book at the Butte-Silver Bow public library. Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed HB 359 just last week. Hopefully it will be treated like a wet turd in court just like Tennessee’s ban was. But until then!

    The library said it didn’t make the decision, but rather the county did. “The powers that be, they thought they would be in violation of the law if we held that event,” said Shari Curtis, the adult services librarian there. Author Adria Jawort, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, was to give a lecture on “Montana History of Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ peoples,” but some brain-addled bigot complained. In an email, Jawort was told that “Ou[r] local Chief Executive and County Attorney have decided that it is too much of a legal risk to have a transgendered person in the library.”

    The library’s full statement is in the tweets below: [available at the link]

    And here is the complaint, which NBC Montana reporter Josh Margolis said came from someone named Cory Allen, which may be an alias. Margolis reported in a later tweet that a group called “White Lives Matter” took credit on social media for the cancellation. And Jawort has more receipts on her Twitter showing that it was literal actual Nazis who made it happen. Congratulations, Montana! You’re taking orders from Nazis! [Tweet at the link]

    “Hello, there is a transsexual reading to children at the public library on Friday the 2nd,” the complaint says. “[T]he ‘performer’ has posted on Twitter that it will be discussing sexual acts and there may be children there.” They were referring to tweets from Jawort where she said she was going to be dressed “flamboyantly,” and that she would “def have a book & sexuality will be discussed & minors may be present, & the State of Montana doesn’t legally recognize people being trans, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” (It should be obvious to any moron that Jawort was remarking on the utter insanity of the anti-drag law Gianforte had just signed.)

    Obviously, a transgender person reading from their own book is not the same thing as a drag performer doing story hour, but Republicans’ anti-drag crusade was never really just about banning drag shows, although that’s part of it. They may be too stupid to understand that drag performers aren’t the same thing as trans people (although some drag performers are trans), but they definitely are trying to eliminate transgender people’s right to exist, under the auspices of pretending to care about protecting children. (If Republicans wanted to protect kids, they might for instance start by banning children from being alone with conservative Christian religious leaders, since statistically that’s who’s doing the molesting.)

    The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, who is probably currently the most prominent anti-trans hate activist in the country, has spent the last few days teamed up with Elon Musk to spread his anti-trans propaganda film What Is A Woman? to as many bigoted eyes as possible. Walsh, a father of six, is a fan of saying it would be a “fate worse than death” to have transgender kids, and that he’d “rather be dead” than for that to happen. He’s doing this because it’s Pride month.

    Meanwhile, Michael Knowles, also of the Daily Wire, insists that when he says he wants to eradicate “transgenderism” he isn’t issuing some kind of Hitler-esque call to eradicate transgender people. As if we cannot hear him loud and clear, as if the rhetorical games these people play aren’t the same exact rhetorical tropes conservative Christians deploy with every group they want to eliminate. As if literal actual Nazis don’t hear them loud and clear.

    So that’s what’s happening here. Nazis are using an anti-drag law in Montana to ban a transgender author from existing in a public space, just like state Rep. Zooey Zephyr and many others have said people would do using these bills: [Tweet and video at the link]

    For the latest on this story, keep up with that NBC Montana reporter Josh Margolis on Twitter, as he says he’ll be interviewing more Montana officials today.

    On one hand, it definitely does look like idiot Republicans have passed an idiot law and now they have to try to uphold and defend it, like idiots. Best wishes on all that. But on the other hand, the literal worst people in the entire country are emboldened right now, and it’s probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

  34. Reginald Selkirk says

    Left-wing philosopher Cornel West launches long-shot 2024 presidential bid

    Cornel West, a progressive political activist and philosopher, announced on Monday that he is launching a third-party 2024 bid for the U.S. presidency.

    West said on Twitter that he was running for the White House with the small, leftist People’s Party, “fighting to end poverty, mass incarceration, ending wars and ecological collapse, guaranteeing housing, health care, education and living wages for all!” …

  35. says

    Wonkette: “Rachel Campos-Duffy Thinks God Wants A Sacrifice, And It Is This Planet!”

    Republican presidential joke candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who is hilariously polling above Chris Christie and Tim Scott, recently pledged that he would let his faith guide him if elected president […] This is pathetic pandering that he spun into the typical rightwing smear against supposed godless liberals who don’t reference religion as much as Republicans, a party that twice nominated Donald Trump and will probably do so a third time. They stick with him more consistently than Trump does with his wives.

    The hosts on “Fox & Friends Sunday” added their own evangelical nonsense to Ramaswamy’s gross comments. Taking the lead in religious bigotry, Rachel Campos-Duffy claimed liberals are obsessed with boring old Earth in the here and now while conservatives are focused on the wonderful imaginary world that lies beyond. [Tweet and video at the link]

    “For them, where we live right now, this place, Earth is it,” she said. “So everything’s on the line here for them. They think, as you said, they can perfect this Earth. Those of us who have faith don’t believe that, and we believe how we act here determines where we go after. And so we got to behave.”

    Her primitive “don’t anger sky god” morality isn’t even internally consistent. If she believes the faithful must “behave” in order to snag a “skip the line” pass in Heaven, wouldn’t that also include how we treat each others on Earth? Right-wingers demonstrate nothing but contempt for the vast majority of God’s supposed creations. They’re obsessed with drag queen brunches while global warming is accelerating. […]

    The oh-so-godly Campos-Duffy once whined — on Mother’s Day, no less — that “gender-confused” men are apparently too sissified to protect women. […]

    Most liberals don’t want to “perfect” the Earth — that’s another right-wing straw man. We’d just like to leave the place in remotely habitable condition for our descendants. Republicans want their kids to dodge the estate tax, and we want our kids to avoid breathing smoke during “wildfire season.” The Christian God is a documented asshole but I don’t think another major extinction event — one that includes us shaved apes — is a mandatory part of God’s immediate plan.

    Campos-Duffy continued, “The ends justify the means is sort of the rules for radicals. That’s not how Christians act.”

    The Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, Manifest Destiny, the French Wars of Religion, witch hunts … I mean, there’s almost no point in correcting her because she’s so obviously full of crap.

    “We’re made for religion,” she said, which is an absurd statement. Humans have brain stems and the capacity for reason. We are geared toward curiosity and asking questions that require more convincing answers than “a wizard did it.”

    “So if you don’t have a faith, whether it’s Hindu, Islam, Christianity, you’re going to create one. And it could be climate, or it could be yourself.”

    […] Campos-Duffy also dismisses giving a damn about the climate as some sort of wacko fake religion, when a spiritual connection to nature is a key theme in many ancient religions. Arguably, living in service to the observable world around you is more practical and noble than worshipping some unhinged mob boss posing as a deity. [Tweet and video at the link]

    They also brought on some jerk from Notre Dame who suggested that progressive philosophy in general is rooted in narcissism and psychopathy. He seems reasonably educated, so he’s probably at least heard of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. These guys just can’t stop projecting.

  36. Reginald Selkirk says

    Rep. Jamie Raskin Says He Hopes To Decide On Senate Run By Fourth Of July

    Rep. Jamie Raskin said Sunday that he will decide whether to run for Senate before the Fourth of July, gearing up to potentially become the latest House Democrat to announce a Senate campaign.

    The Maryland Democrat — who gained national attention for serving on the committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and for his role in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial — told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s still mulling whether to enter the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin…

  37. says

    Air quality levels in parts of the U.S. plunge as Canada wildfires rage

    Canada is experiencing one of the worst starts to its wildfire season ever recorded.

    Millions of people across the Midwest are under dangerous air quality conditions Monday, as smoke from wildfires in eastern Canada wafts over the region.

    Hazy skies have blanketed a wide swath of the country from the Ohio Valley to as far south as the Carolinas. Air quality advisories are in effect Monday in southeastern Minnesota and parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as well as in more than 60 counties in Wisconsin.

    The spike in air pollution comes from wildfires that have been raging in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia.

    […] Canada is experiencing one of the worst starts to its wildfire season ever recorded. More than 6.7 million acres in the country have already burned in 2023, federal officials said last week.

    In Quebec, around 14,000 people were forced to evacuate, and more than 150 fires are still ablaze in the province, according to CBC News. Further east, in Nova Scotia, officials said Sunday that one wildfire had been contained but a second, covering nearly 100 square miles, was still burning out of control, The Associated Press reported. […]

  38. says

    Lynna @ #40:

    SC @37, it’s almost not worth anyone’s time to read Trump’s rants anymore. He is still repeating the same lies and/or bluntly stupid misperceptions. As you indicated, what’s important is that lawyers for Trump met this morning with Department of Justice officials, so that indicates an indictment may be coming soon.

    It’s funny that in the past we/people used to think his rants might be clues to what was going to happen with investigations or other non-public events. But even in this case it looks like he was unhinged by something he saw on the news or social media rather than anything conveyed to him by his lawyers. In fact, he would probably discount what his lawyers told him if it contradicted some random claim on television. That’s not to say an indictment isn’t imminent – one probably is – but that his rant isn’t even any indication of anything happening behind the scenes in the real world. So just totally unworthy of attention.

  39. says

    Josh Marshall:

    You’ve probably heard about The Atlantic article which has painted a devastating picture of network CEO Chris Licht and the state of the network on his watch. (CNN has had some time slots where Newsmax has managed to beat it of late.) There are several moving parts to this story. After what turned out to be a woefully mismanaged acquisition by AT&T, CNN and its parent Time Warner were picked up cheap by Discovery, a cable news heavyweight known for producing cheap shows with solid viewership. That was a bad sign for CNN and HBO — both in their in own spheres premium properties. The results for CNN, judged in viewership, have been abysmal. But for all the grief Licht is getting, this is fundamentally a failure not of execution but of strategy.

    Put simply, the theory behind the current revamp of CNN is the network got “too liberal” and gave on-air hosts too much leeway for personal commentary and advocacy. But did CNN get “too liberal”? […] We’re back to the old problem of whether to prioritize “balance” or “accuracy.” Which of those two is more important shapes everything about how you approach journalism.

    The revamp of CNN seemed to be based first on the “bothsidesist” theory of journalism that is still so common in elite media circles, albeit to a lesser degree. […] “fix” CNN […] largely by watching the evening line up on Fox. To a great degree that does seem like where the strategy came from […]

    the editorial realities of our present politics shouldn’t present a journalist challenge for CNN. But they definitely present a business challenge. CNN isn’t MSNBC or Fox. I don’t say that to equate the two. […] they each embrace being identified with one of the country’s two main political factions. CNN’s business model is based on access to the whole national population. That breaks down if one political party only allows friend and enemy journalists.

    My point in noting this is that the Trump and post-Trump era really are a challenging for a network like CNN’s business model. The problem, as Chris Licht and his boss David Zaslav had it, was that CNN had gotten “too liberal”. The solution was to make it less liberal. Then Trump would stop calling it “Fake News” and everything would be better again. Stated as such, it so sounds too simplistic to be real. But listen to how Licht and his supporters describe it. That’s their description.

    […] Licht is a hotshot TV guy. He was showrunner on Morning Joe and Colbert […] The real driver of all this appears to be his boss, Zaslav. He seems broadly reviled by a lot of people in media. But at least from his political giving I looked up he seems to be at least nominally a Democrat. Who executives give money to doesn’t necessarily tell you a lot. But it gives you some sense of the importance of their politics in shaping their business practices. But he’s not the only one in the mix. The real money player behind all of this is longtime media titan John Malone. And he’s definitely that Republican billionaire. His comments through this very much match what you’d expect if an octogenarian Fox viewer took ownership of CNN and tried to “fix” it in line with the Fox worldview.

    Wherever this plan came from, the salient point is that it’s not failing because Licht did a poor job implementing it. It’s simply based on a misunderstanding the contemporary media and political landscape and almost everything about cable news. What’s too bad is that CNN, which for all its shortcomings is or at least was a thing of great value, is in the process of being thoroughly trashed.

  40. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—As Mike Pence prepares to announce his bid for the Presidency, political insiders are questioning whether he has more to offer the nation than unbridled sexual magnetism.

    For years, the former Vice-President has wisely refused to dine alone with any woman other than his wife, fearing the havoc that his overpowering pheromones could wreak.

    But now, as he hopes to convince voters to elect him leader of the free world, he risks being perceived as little more than a smoldering slice of beefcake.

    “Whenever Mike Pence gives a speech, his crackling sexual energy is so palpable that all the women in the audience and a goodly number of men swoon,” Davis Logsdon, who teaches political science at the University of Minnesota, said. “But is that what people want in a President?”

    “Sex sells,” he added, “but Mike Pence might just be too smokin’ for the White House.”

    New Yorker link

  41. Reginald Selkirk says

    Funders thought watching bats wasn’t important. Then she helped solve the mystery of a deadly virus.

    Another horse in Australia had died from the dreaded Hendra virus that winter in 2011. For years, the brain-inflaming infectious disease had bedeviled the country, leaping from bats to horses and sometimes from horses to humans. Hendra was as fatal as it was mysterious, striking in a seemingly random fashion. Experts fear that if the virus mutates, it could jump from person to person and wreak havoc.

    So while government veterinarians screened other horses, Eby, a wildlife ecologist with a Ph.D., got to work, grubbing around the scene like a detective. Nobody knew flying foxes, the bats that spread Hendra, better. For nearly a quarter century, she’d studied the furry, fox-faced mammals with wingspans up to 3 feet. Eby deduced that the horse paddock wasn’t where the bats had transmitted Hendra. But the horse’s owners had picked mandarin oranges off the trees across the street. The peels ended up in the compost bin, where their horse liked to rummage. “Bingo,” Eby thought. Flying foxes liked mandarins. The bats’ saliva must have contaminated the peels, turning them into a deadly snack…

  42. says

    Ukraine Update: ‘We are moving to offensive actions’

    On Monday, the Ukrainian deputy minister of defense gave a statement translated by Tim Mak: “A defensive operation includes everything, including counteroffensive actions. Therefore, in some areas we are moving to offensive actions.”

    Right now, what we know is that there are Ukrainian advances going on both north and south of Bakhmut, and possibly in the city itself. There are also a number of Ukrainian actions underway along the southern front west of Vuhledar. Finally, the Russian Volunteer Corps and Freedom for Russia Legion appear to be holding both Russian territory and Russian prisoners.

    All this clearly represents a counteroffensive. But is it the counteroffensive? Is this the big push we’ve been anticipating since Ukrainian advances cooled down with the weather last fall, and talked about all through the stunted Russian winter offensive and months of mud? That’s unclear.

    Right now, more reports are coming in from Russian sources than from Ukrainian, and those reports are all over the map. There’s one report that Russia “crushed” a Ukrainian force and destroyed over thirty vehicles. Another has Ukraine busting through Russian defensive lines and liberating a town in southern Ukraine. The only thing certain at this moment is that this pattern, where Ukrainian sources are mostly silent and Russian forces are chattering a mile a minute, is one that has been seen before. It happened with Kharkiv last fall. And with Kherson.

    One thing that should be noted immediately: Because a lot of this information, even when reported through familiar names, is ultimately going back to reports on Russian Telegram channels, the level of trust in much of what’s coming out today should be low. Very low. The fact that Ukrainian sources are being quiet reflects well on Ukraine’s operational security, but secondhand info from Russian sources definitely deepens the fog of war.

    However, based on everything that is coming down the mile-a-minute pipeline, there are at least five offensive operations underway by Ukraine.


    That same deputy minister of defense that gave the “moving to offensive” quote also said that Bakhmut “remains at the center” of operations.

    In the Bakhmut area, Ukrainian forces have reportedly liberated a portion of the town of Berkhivka, northwest of the city. Russia initially captured this area back in February as part of the semi-encirclement that allowed them to place pressure on Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut from three sides. One very important factor about Berkivka is that it sits just south of the M03 highway that runs northwest to Slovyansk. When Russia captured that location, it cut off one of the biggest routes of supply into Bakhmut, making the situation there much more difficult for Ukraine. [map at the link]

    But if Ukraine is able to move through Berkhivka and reach the M03, it would put Russia in an even worse spot. Because several Russian units moved west along the highway, extending a salient 8 kilometers west to a point north of Orikhovo-Vasylivka. Russia has no other exit route for those forces, which are already pinned by Ukrainian forces on three sides. There’s a possibility that a large group of Russian forces could be completely cut off.

    Of course, the primary source for all this is … not the best. Much of this information is coming from the mercenary Wagner Group CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose relationship with the truth is barely nodding on his best day. Prigozhin could be overselling Ukraine’s advance in the area just to press his claims that only his Wagner forces are capable of holding positions around Bakhmut. However, Ukrainian forces had already made verified moves in this direction last week, and it seems reasonable that they should extend their gains.

    Then there’s Bakhmut itself. As in the city. Even as Prigozhin was claiming that Wagner had finally taken the city, Ukraine was still claiming that it was holding onto that extreme southwest corner of Bakhmut—the area just west of the highway at the city’s southern entrance (if you enlarge the image above, you can see there’s a large appliance factory and several industrial buildings in this area). Now the Ukrainian general staff is reporting progress “in the city.” Does this mean they are recapturing blocks and taking back portions of Bakhmut? It’s entirely possible, especially since Prigozhin reported last week that Wagner forces had withdrawn from 99% of the city. However, at the moment there are no details.

    South of Bakhmut, the town of Klishchiivka has been on the receiving end of shelling with a reported Ukrainian advance in the area. Again, much of this information is coming from Russian sources, and it’s hard to tell how much is real, how much is panic, and how much is false reports given out so they can claim to have “stopped the Ukrainians,” but there is a reported advance in this direction. The settlement is important because of heights overlooking its western border. If Ukraine occupies those, it both forces Russians out of Klishchiivka itself and territory farther east, and provides yet another high vantage point to fire on Russian forces inside Bakhmut itself.


    The fighting in the south appears to be underway at several locations, but Velyka Novosilka is near the center of the action, so for now I’m hanging that name on this section of the front. Fighting in this area appears to have begun on Sunday, with Ukrainian attacks reported near Novodarivka, Neskuchne, and Novodonetske. [map at the link]

    A tank battle took place east of Novodarivka on Sunday in which it appears that at least three tanks faced off. A Russian T-80 came out the loser, with the whole ammo supply cooking off seconds after the tank was hit. It’s unclear if Ukraine has continued to press the attack in this area. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Also on Sunday, Ukraine advanced several infantry fighting vehicles and MRAPS into the area south of Velyka Novosilka. This advance appears to have been stopped by Russian artillery, with Ukrainian forces apparently leaving damaged vehicles behind. At least one vehicle appears to have been hit over a kilometer to the north, reportedly by a Russian drone. [Tweet and video at the link]

    The Russian ministry of defense touted this incident on Monday morning, claiming that they had stopped a “major offensive” taking out “over thirty vehicles” and hundreds of troops. Russia seemed to be claiming the counteroffensive was over before it began—not to mention the Russian bloggers who claimed “all the Abrams tanks” had been destroyed in this thwarted attack.

    It now looks as if Ukraine has resumed the attack in this direction and that Sunday’s effort was more of a “reconnaissance in force.” There are reports that Ukraine has liberated the area west of Storozheve and broken through Russian trenches at that location, but this (like everything else this afternoon) is unconfirmed.

    The third prong of Ukraine’s attack in this area is southeast of Velyka Novosilka near Novodonetske. This town was formerly occupied by Russia, although the area around it had been in dispute and Russian trench lines are actually south of the town. On Sunday, Russia claimed to have stopped a Ukrainian advance in this area. On Monday, Russian sources are claiming that Ukraine has liberated Novodonetske, forcing them to retreat.

    One notable item in addition to this advance: Several Russian sources in the area claimed that they had spotted the first Leopard tanks being used on the front lines. However, images suggest that the new gear in the area is actually the small, wheeled French AMX-10rc. That would fit with other reports that the attack involved Ukraine’s 37th Marine Brigade, as that brigade trained on NATO equipment, including the AMX.

    There is a widely-circulating image that’s being reported as showing a Leopard 2 that has been destroyed. That image is a fake. Russian Telegram channels are also circulating another image claiming it’s an abandoned Leopard. It’s not a Leopard, but it may be an AMX-10rc lost as part of the recon south of Velyka Novosilka. However, the camo in the image suggests that the vehicle in question is painted in the tan, desert camo that the AMX-10rc typically wears for French operations in Africa and AMX in Ukrainian service were repainted months ago. So it may also be a fake. Or not. It’s very foggy. A second image reportedly shows two more AMX-10rc left behind, but those also look to be in the former desert tan color. Also foggy.

    Despite multiple claims, it’s not clear that any actual Leopard I or Leopard 2 is yet on the front lines. It’s also not clear that Ukraine has put together the kind of large, combined arms assault that many expected. The scale of actions so far suggests they may still be “feeling out” operations, but they’ve apparently been pretty successful. [Tweet at the link]

    Even if Ukraine did begin attacks in this area as a minor part of the overall plan, or even if this was intended as a diversionary tactic for an attack to be launched elsewhere, Ukraine seems to be meeting with some success. If they have actually punched through Russian defenses in two locations moving more forces into this location might be a good idea—it’s only 85 kilometers to Mariupol.


    Meanwhile, Ukraine-aligned Russian forces operating under the ”RDK” banner (the Russian initials for “Russian Volunteer Corps”), report that they continue to hold at least part of the Russian village of Novaya Tavolzhanka south of Belgorod. Over the weekend, they also took at least two Russian prisoners, who RDK leaders indicated would be used in prisoner exchanges with Russia.

    Multiple maps suggest that the anti-Putin forces are actually holding onto a much larger portion of Belgorod oblast. At the moment, there’s no visual confirmation of anything outside the Novaya Tavolzhanka area. Even so, that RDK has been able to apparently remain in control of Russian territory for a period of days goes a long way to indicating that not only is Russia’s border extremely porous, its home defense forces are dysfunctional.

  43. says

    Service member ordered to stop reading “The Catcher in the Rye” by offended Christian superior

    The book banning mania has apparently made its way into our military, at least as far as one offended “believing Christian” mid-level military commander is concerned. This “believing Christian” military commander, full of offendedness by seeing one of his subordinates reading “The Catcher in the Rye,” actually ordered the subordinate to stop reading the book.

    The offended “believing Christian” commander, according to the subordinate in their communications with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), saw nothing wrong with carrying around and publicly reading aloud from his Bible, one of the most sex-and-violence-ridden books ever written, but his subordinate quietly reading “The Catcher in the Rye” in the dining facility was a cause of great offense.

    Once the Salinger-reading subordinate contacted MRFF about their “believing Christian” commander’s preposterous order, MRFF’s Mikey Weinstein did what he always does, contacting a senior level commander above the offended “believing Christian,” and as the subordinate reported in the following thank you email to MRFF, they can now not only continue reading “The Catcher in the Rye,” but their “believing Christian” superior is no longer permitted to publicly read aloud from his Bible or display it at mandatory unit meetings.

    From: (Active Duty MRFF Client’s and Military Member’s E-mail Address Withheld)
    Subject: The Catcher in the Rye
    Date: June 2, 2023 at 2:09:41 PM MDT
    To: Information Weinstein

    Mr. Weinstein, I am stationed overseas in an active duty combat billet and wanted to finally thank you all the MRFF for intervening on my behalf to help me when my (mid-level military command title withheld) ordered me to stop reading the classic book “The Catcher in the Rye”. I only read it on my personal meal time at the DFAC (“dining facility”) at (military installation name withheld).

    He had told me that “as a believing Christian” it offended him to see me read it. He never ever said how it offended him. He outranked me by a lot so what could I do?

    I also want to stress that this (mid-level military command title withheld) is always reading aloud from his bible and carries it everywhere in front of all of us under his command and is almost always present with him at our (unit title withheld) meetings.

    After you contacted our (senior level commander’s title withheld) 2 things happened within a few days.

    First, I was informed that I could go back to reading my book “The Catcher in the Rye” by author J.D. Salinger at the DFAC or any other time I was not on mission duty.

    Second, Our (mid-level military command title withheld) was told to stop publicly reading from and displaying his bible at our mandatory unit meetings.

    This all happened back in mid-April and I’m sorry it took so long to thank you.

    I cannot stress enough how much I owe to the MRFF for making this mess go in the right direction.


    (Active duty military member’s name, rank, unit and installation all withheld)

  44. says

    Trump: “Congratulations to Kim Jong Un!” John Bolton angerly rips him: “Trump is unfit to lead.”

    Trump’s Republican rivals showed some rare unanimity with surprisingly harsh criticism of Donald Trump’s foreign policy blunders.

    From the Guardian:

    Republican 2024 candidates criticize Trump for praising Kim Jong-un

    Rivals condemn ex-president for posting a message of support on Truth Social after North Korea added to WHO board

    By Adam Gabbatt

    A number of Republican presidential candidates, including Ron DeSantis, have criticized Donald Trump after the former president again praised the dictatorial leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

    The intervention from Trump’s rivals, who have largely avoided attacking the influential frontrunner, comes as a rare moment of dissension during the campaign.

    Trump posted a message of support for Kim to his Truth Social site on Saturday, after North Korea was appointed to the board of the World Health Organization.

    “Congratulations to Kim Jung [sic] Un!” Trump wrote. He posted a link to an article about the appointment to the WHO, which is an agency of the UN.

    Joining the Republicans’ criticism of Trump is John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor who really ripped into Trump’s authoritarian friendly foreign policy. [Tweet at the link: “John Bolton SLAMS Trump’s love affair with the NK dictator:

    “No American president past, present or future, should ever utter the words, “Congratulations to Kim Jong Un!” It’s embarrassing for the United States and proves without question that Trump is unfit to lead.”]

    During the CNN ‘Town Hall’ interview Trump said he would still try to “break up” NATO. Fulfilling Putin’s fondest wish. [Tweet and video at the link]

    [Another tweet shows Trump babbling incoherently when asked by Fox News what he’s do differently from Biden in Ukraine.]

    More at the link, including Bolton documenting that it takes 25 minutes for a stylist to do Trump’s makeup and another hour and a halt to sculpt his hair “into a mop that obscures the reality that Trump is almost entirely bald.

  45. says

    From France 24:

    Dogged by accusations of proximity to the Kremlin, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party had hoped to clear its name by setting up a parliamentary inquiry to investigate foreign interference in French politics. But a draft report on the committee’s findings, which was leaked to the press this week, shows the move backfired spectacularly, finding instead that Le Pen’s policy stances sometimes echo the “official language of Putin’s regime.”

  46. says

    Associated Press:

    Fort Bragg shed its Confederate namesake Friday to become Fort Liberty in a ceremony some veterans said was a small but important step in making the U.S. Army more welcoming to current and prospective Black service members.

  47. says

    Let us be clear here. In no world does the fact that a tiny handful of trans kids play high school sports — no literally, it’s like somewhere between five and 15 nationwide [Nicolle Wallace reported a source saying perhaps a maximum of 100 individuals nationwide] — and want to compete accordingly with their gender identities have anything to do with teenage girls considering suicide. Nothing. Nikki Haley knows that. Or if she doesn’t, she’s a dumber, more fucking useless bigot than we gave her credit for. But we’re going to assume she knows that.

    But for today’s Republican Nazis, trans people are one of the primary targets, so Nikki Haley said at her CNN town hall (of course) last night that there was a connection. [video at the link]

    The question was how do you define “woke.” Instead of even trying to give an answer that would sound reasonable to Americans who are not lunatics, she just started argle-bargling about pronouns and said the thing about “our teenage girls” contemplating suicide.

    Haley was initially asked to define the word “woke,” but subsequently went into a diatribe about gender identity and pronouns, claiming it is “too much.” “How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms?” she asked. “And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year.”

    On top of how that’s literally eliminationist rhetoric of the kind Nazis used to incite hatred and violence against Jewish people and others, it tells you how little Nikki Haley cares about “our teenage girls,” that she would use suicide statistics to bolster her attack on transgender kids.

    She complained about “gender pronoun classes in the military,” which we hear is a very tough part of boot camp these days. She said this is the “women’s issue of our time,” which would probably be surprising to a lot of voters who think the fact that they’re no longer allowed to decide in many states if they’d like to remain pregnant is the women’s issue of our time.

    She complained about “kids undergoing critical race theory,” which in the diseased conservative brain Haley says entails telling kindergartners, “If she’s white, you’re telling her she’s bad, if she’s brown or Black, you’re telling her she’s never going to be good enough and she’s always going to be a victim.” That sure does sound like kindergarten to us, if you’re a halfwit MAGA voter.

    To Jake Tapper’s credit, he noted some real statistics from the Trevor Project on actual suicide rates for LGBTQ+ kids, but he didn’t say anything like “Hey, you’re a full of shit liar and you know it,” so we’re not awarding many points. (Not awarding him a lot of points lately, TBH.) [Tweet from Aaron Rupar, and video, at the link] […]

  48. says

    Wonkette: “Robert Kennedy Jr Keeps Dreaming Up New Ways To Disgrace Family Name”

    “The real opposition is the media,” Steve Bannon famously boasted in 2018. “And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

    Bannon’s strategy is to spew such an endless firehose of invective and misinformation that journalists give up reporting on truth and simply document the spectacle. And if you do it successfully enough, eventually people believe in nothing. Or they believe in everything you tell them, no matter how facially preposterous. Or they give up believing that truth is knowable at all.

    As part of his plan for 2024, Bannon is backing the vanity presidential run of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an antivaxx loon […]

    Welcome to the sewer, RFK! And before you get it twisted, you’re not the rat swimming against the fecal tide. You are the shit.

    Kennedy toiled in relative obscurity for years as an environmental lawyer, but only got the spotlight when he threw his famous name behind the OG vaccine panic of the early aughts that routine immunizations cause autism. (They don’t!) Since then, he fed his voracious appetite for attention by flogging various conspiracy theories, delivered in his signature rasp, which he blames on the flu vaccine, of course. In 2020, he hit the motherlode with COVID-19, becoming one of the worst purveyors of coronavirus misinformation.

    But three left turns is a right, as they say, so naturally Kennedy wound up bedding down with stochastic terrorists like Tucker Carlson who wanted to make political hay out of pretending that public health measures were part of a Democratic plot to weaken the economy and defeat Trump — and who didn’t care how many people died because they believed the anti-mask, anti-vax, let’s-lick-each-other’s-faces-during-a-pandemic rhetoric. Because when your family name conjures up associations of unabashed liberalism and the civil rights movement, why not allow it to be coopted the nation’s premier white nationalist?

    But with Tuckkker temporarily out of commission, Kennedy has been making some new friends. And not the kind who might suggest that a little yoga and some therapy would be preferable to acting as a human shield as the very worst people in America try to soften Joe Biden up in the primaries so they can sneak Donald Trump back into the White House.

    Here he is whining that Instagram won’t let him flog vaccine misinformation on its platform. But never fear, Uncle Elon will ride to the rescue. [Tweet at the link]

    Are you listening to their Twitter space? Was it every bit the technical coup and celebration of Elon Musk’s leadership showcased two weeks ago in that coffee klatch with Ron DeSantis? […]

    The best Bannon and his pals can hope for is to take a bite out of Biden in the primary, then cast Kennedy as this season’s Jill Stein in the general. Literally no one earth thinks this guy is going to beat Biden out for the Democratic nomination.

    Well, okay, that’s not quite true. [Tweet at the link]

    Christ, these people. Let the record reflect that Jack Dorsey predicted that Elon Musk would be an amazing steward of Twitter and would use his power to actually promote free speech. So take his predictions with a giant grain of salt.

    But, hey, congrats to RFK, who transformed himself from a respected figure into a loon, and now a walking shitpost. Surely your family must be proud. (Or not.)

  49. says

    Oklahoma Approves First Religious Charter School in the U.S.

    New York Times link

    The approval of the school, which would offer online, Roman Catholic instruction funded by taxpayers, is almost certain to tee off a legal battle.

    The nation’s first religious charter school was approved in Oklahoma on Monday, handing a victory to Christian conservatives, but opening the door to a constitutional battle over whether taxpayer dollars can directly fund religious schools.

    The online school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, would be run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa, with religious teachings embedded in the curriculum, including in math and reading. Yet as a charter school — a type of public school that is independently managed — it would be funded by taxpayer dollars.

    After a nearly three-hour meeting, and despite concerns raised by its legal counsel, the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approved the school in a 3-to-2 vote, including a “yes” vote from a new member who was appointed on Friday.

    The relatively obscure board is made up of appointees by Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who supports religious charter schools, and leaders of the Republican-controlled State Legislature.

    The approval — which is almost certain to be challenged in court — comes amid a broader conservative push to allow taxpayer dollars to go toward religious schools, including in the form of universal school vouchers, which have been approved in five states in the last year. The movement has been bolstered by recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has increasingly signaled its support for directing taxpayer money to religious schools. […]

    In Supreme Court rulings in 2020 and 2022, the court ruled that religious schools could not be excluded from state programs that allowed parents to send their children to private schools using government-financed scholarship or tuition programs. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that while states were not required to support religious education, if a state chooses to subsidize any private schools, it may not discriminate against religious ones.

    Supporters in Oklahoma applied similar arguments to St. Isidore, contending that excluding religious schools from charter funding is a violation of the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom.

    “Not only may a charter school in Oklahoma be religious but indeed it would be unlawful to prohibit the operation of such a school,” the school’s organizers wrote in its application.

    The move for a religious charter school was opposed by a range of groups, including pastors and religious leaders in Oklahoma, who feared a blurring of the separation of church and state. Leaders in the charter school movement were also opposed.

    “Charter schools were conceived as, and have always been, innovative public schools,” Nina Rees, president and chief executive of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said in April. She added that, as public schools, charters cannot teach religious instruction.

    A key legal question is whether charter schools are “state actors,” representing the government, or “private actors,” more like a government contractor. That question is central to another case, out of North Carolina, which the Supreme Court is weighing whether to take up. […]

    More at the link.

  50. Reginald Selkirk says

    Wackos break cover:
    U.S. Recovered ‘Intact And Partially Intact Vehicles’ Of Non-Human Origin: Whistleblower

    David Charles Grusch isn’t just some guy waving signs on a street corner in D.C.; he’s a decorated war veteran who worked with both the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, where he worked as on the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force with top clearance levels.

    Grusch said the recoveries of partial fragments through and up to intact vehicles have been made for decades through the present day by the government, its allies, and defense contractors. Analysis has determined that the objects retrieved are “of exotic origin (non-human intelligence, whether extraterrestrial or unknown origin) based on the vehicle morphologies and material science testing and the possession of unique atomic arrangements and radiological signatures,” he said…

    According to reporting from Debrief, Grusch has the support of the intelligence community firmly on his side, as well as other whistleblowers who remain unidentified…

    Jonathan Grey is a generational officer of the United States Intelligence Community with a Top-Secret Clearance who currently works for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), where the analysis of UAP has been his focus…

    Wicky wacky. If there is such a long-running, serious effort to suppress the information, why haven’t these two been knocked off yet?

    Purity of essence.

  51. Reginald Selkirk says

    Texas seeks to bolster $1.8 billion fraud claim against Planned Parenthood

    Texas and an anonymous anti-abortion activist made a joint court filing over the weekend, urging a federal judge to decide a $1.8 billion fraud lawsuit they brought against Planned Parenthood in their favor, saying a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling strengthened the case.

    The lawsuit, before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, had been on hold awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision Friday, which gave a boost to whistleblower lawsuits accusing health care providers and others of defrauding the government.

    Texas and the anonymous plaintiff are seeking to force Planned Parenthood to return money it collected from Texas’ and Louisiana’s state Medicaid programs after the states tried to cut off its funding, plus heavy additional penalties…

  52. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #67…
    The red flag there is the judge. They’ve been judge shopping again.

  53. Reginald Selkirk says

    Inside the fundamentalist Christian movement that wants to remake Canadian politics

    Liberty Coalition Canada, a conservative Christian advocacy group, is trying to raise $1.3 million to recruit hundreds of Christian politicians and campaign staff to run at all levels of government.

    In a document marked “please keep classified” that was obtained by CBC News, the group says its ultimate goal is “the most powerful political disruption in Canadian history.”

    Working alongside Liberty Coalition Canada are dozens of churches across the country, a number of small media outlets and at least one well-funded think-tank.

    While theological and political differences exist among them, many supporters of this movement share a vocal opposition to LGBTQ rights and other social justice causes.

    Several Canadian pastors in the movement also have ties to a controversial branch of evangelical Christianity in the U.S. known as reconstructionism…

  54. StevoR says

    Huh? Just tried to post about a cassius the largest crocodile in capttivity but didn’t go through here…?

  55. whheydt says

    The reservoir behind the Kakhova dam supplies cooling water the Zaporishzia (sp) nuclear plant. It also supplies the water that is sent by canal to Crimea. However, the Russians have been filling up all the local reservoirs in Crimea.

    So who benefits from blowing the dam?

  56. KG says

    Reginald Selkirk@66,

    As someone says in the comments to your linked article, if there was anything in this, no way Trump would not have blabbed it! (Unless of course Trump is actually a transdimensional lizard…)

  57. says

    Zelenskyy tweeted:

    Russian terrorists. The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land. Not a single meter should be left to them, because they use every meter for terror. It’s only Ukraine’s victory that will return security. And this victory will come. The terrorists will not be able to stop Ukraine with water, missiles or anything else.

    All services are working. I have convened the National Security and Defense Council. Please spread official and verified information only.

  58. says

    Christopher Miller on Twitter:

    Ukrhydroenergo, Ukraine’s state-owned hydropower company, says “Russian occupation forces blew up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. As a result of the detonation of the engine room from the inside, the Kakhovka HPP was completely destroyed. The station cannot be restored.”

  59. KG says

    So who benefits from blowing the dam? – whheydt@74

    Hard to tell. Apparently the flooding will affect both banks, but predominantly the Russian-occupied left. The Russians may have filled the Crimean reservoirs, but how long will that water last them? I’ve seen claims both that the flooding will prevent any Ukrainian amphibious attack across the Dnipro, and that it would facilitate it by removing the Russian left-bank positions. I’m no sort of expert, but amphibious military operations are notoriously hard to bring off successfully. If we see such an operation in the next week or two, that would be pretty strong evidence Ukraine caused the collapse, as you can’t improvise that kind of major operation in a hurry: they would have to have planned for the flooding. But I think it’s very unlikely we will see this.

    According to Mark Sumner of Daily Kos:

    Based on images from the last week, it’s looking as if the dam didn’t blow up. It fell apart gradually from Russian neglect.

    Here is a link to images allegedly from Maxar of the same part of the dam from 28 May and 5 June. It seems quite a coincidence the collapse would happen just at the point when Ukraine seems to be launching its counteroffensive, but of course, coincidences do happen.

  60. says

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

    The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River, and called for people living downstream to evacuate in the face of catastrophic flooding. Ukrahydroenergo said the hydoelectric power plant at the dam had been blown up from the inside and was irreparable.

    The governor of the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, said about 16,000 people were in the “critical zone” on the Ukrainian-controlled right bank of the river. He said people were being evacuated for districts upstream of Kherson city and would be taken by bus to the city and then by train to Mykolaiv, and to other Ukrainian cities including Khmelnytskyi, Odesa, Kropyvnytskyi and Kyiv.

    Occupying Russian authorities in the town of Nova Kakhovka initially denied anything had happened to the dam, then blamed the collapse on Ukrainian shelling….

    The areas most under threat of flooding are the islands along the course of the Dnipro downstream of Nova Kakhovka and much of the Russian-held left bank in southern Kherson. Earlier modelling of such a disaster suggested Kherson city would not take the brunt of the flood, but the harbour, the docklands and an island in the south of the city are likely to be inundated. It is unclear how many people could lose their homes….

    There seems to be no immediate safety threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam 200km downstream, according to Ukrainian and UN experts. Water from the reservoir affected by the destruction of the dam is used to supply the plant’s cooling systems.

    Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called the destruction of the dam “probably Europe’s largest technological disaster in decades” and a “heinous war crime”.

    The British foreign secretary, James Cleverly, who is in Ukraine, blamed the destruction on Russia’s invasion. “I’ve heard reports of the explosion on the dam and the risk of flooding. It’s too early to make any kind of meaningful assessment of the details. But it’s worth remembering that the only reason this is an issue at all is because of Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” he said.

    The dam traverses Ukraine’s enormous Dnipro River, holding back a huge reservoir of water. The dam is 30 metres tall and hundreds of metres wide. It was built in 1956 as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. Water from the reservoir supplies the Crimean peninsula to the south, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

    Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has suggested that the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam was the fault of “Russian terrorists”. Zelenskiy said in a post on Twitter, “The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land. Not a single metre should be left to them, because they use every metre for terror.”

  61. KG says

    An analysis of the possible military repercussions of the dam’s destruction from the Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh. It’s not obvious who will benefit. The delta will widen making crossing it even harder, but the river further up will narrow, possibly giving Ukraine opportunities, but of course they would first need to deal with the immediate impact on civilians and infrastructure. The Russian defensive positions are apparently already on higher ground, but whether they are well-placed is impossible to say until the new course of the river is established.

  62. says

    Noel on Twitter:

    Before destroying the Kakhovka dam today, Russia reportedly raised the water level to a record 17.5 meters, leaving the gates closed. They created a flooding as large as possible in order to most likely prevent the Ukrainian army from conducting a counteroffensive in the area.

    Chart at the link.

  63. says

    Guardian – “Ukraine accuses Russia of blowing up Nova Kakhovka dam near Kherson”:

    The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River, as it called for people living downstream to evacuate in the face of catastrophic flooding.

    As aerial footage circulated on social media, showing most of the dam wall washed away and a massive surge of water heading downstream, the army’s Southern Operational Command put up a Facebook post accusing “Russian occupation troops” of blowing up the hydroelectric dam.

    The governor of the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, said about 16,000 people were in the “critical zone” on the Ukrainian-controlled right bank of the river. He said people were being evacuated for districts upstream of Kherson city and would be taken by bus to the city and then by train to Mykolaiv and other Ukrainian cities, including Khmelnytskyi, Odesa, Kropyvnytskyi and Kyiv.

    The disaster will have damaging effects that could last for generations, from the immediate potential for loss of life to the thousands of people forced to abandon their homes and farms. It is expected to have a catastrophic impact on the ecology of the region and will sweep mines from the banks of the Dnipro into villages and farmland downstream.

    It also robs Ukraine of long -term capacity for generating hydroelectric power. The loss of the upstream reservoir threatens water supplies to Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and Crimea, and has long-term implications for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant 120 miles (200km) upstream.

    The dam collapse happened on the second day of Ukrainian offensive operations likely to mark the early stages of a mass counteroffensive. It could affect any Ukrainian plans for an amphibious assault across the river.

    “The purpose is obvious: to create insurmountable obstacles on the way of the advancing [Ukrainian army] … to slow down the fair final of the war,” the Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “On a vast territory, all life will be destroyed; many settlements will be ruined; colossal damage will be done to the environment.”

    Interfax quoted an unnamed representative from regional emergency services as saying the collapse was the result of a catastrophic structural failure. “The dam could not stand it: one support collapsed, and flooding began,” the representative said, adding that there were no attacks on the hydroelectric power station overnight.

    Last month, it was reported that water levels in the reservoir had reached a 30-year high as the Russian occupiers had kept relatively few sluice gates open, according to experts.

    David Helms, a former US air force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist who has monitored the dam, said on Twitter: “The Russians allowed the reservoir to fill to record levels; if the dam failed ‘naturally’, it certainly failed due to 6 weeks of over-topping and stress on the structure.”

    The areas most under threat from flooding are the islands along the course of the Dnipro downstream of Nova Kakhovka and much of the Russian-held left bank in southern Kherson. Earlier modelling of such a disaster suggested Kherson city would not bear the brunt, but the harbour, the docklands and an island in the south of the city are likely to be inundated. It is unclear how many people could lose their homes.

    There could be two further serious side-effects: the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant upstream could lose access to water for cooling as the reservoir drains away, and the water supply to Crimea could also be severely affected.

    Four of the six reactors at the nuclear plant are completely shut down, and two are on “hot shutdown”, producing a small amount of energy for the plant itself and the neighbouring town. The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a tweet its experts at the plant were monitoring the situation. It said there was “no immediate nuclear safety risk at plant”.

    The dam, a Soviet power project, was completed in 1956 and was 30 metres’ high, holding back a vast reservoir of 18m cubic metres of water. It sits about 20 miles (32km) upstream from Ukrainian-held Kherson.

    Zelenskiy warned last November that Russia was plotting to blow up the two-mile structure and that doing so would cause “a large-scale disaster” affecting people living downstream.

    Blowing up a dam can be considered a war crime, the Geneva conventions say, if it “may cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population”.

    Ukrainian military intelligence said late last year that Russia had conducted the main mining works as long ago as April 2022, but warned that the floodgates and supports of the dam were further primed in November as Ukraine’s forces closed in on Kherson. “Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack,” Zelenskiy said at the time.

    The country’s military intelligence also said in November that “dozens of Ukrainian settlements, including Kherson” could be affected by a breach and that “the scale of the ecological disaster will go far beyond the borders of Ukraine and affect the entire Black Sea region”.

    The bridge over the dam was one of only two crossing points over the Dnipro south of Zaporizhzhia city before the war. The other, the Antonovsky road bridge at Kherson, was destroyed in November by the retreating Russians, and Russian snipers target anybody lingering on the waterside near the remaining bridge span.

  64. says

    Guardian – “Ukrainian dam collapse ‘no immediate risk’ to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant”:

    …Mariana Budjeryn, a Ukrainian nuclear scientist, said: “The fact that there’s an artificial pond next to the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant] where water can be maintained above the reservoir level, and the fact that the reactors are in cold shutdown, offers some reassurance and increased time to respond if ZNPP starts getting affected.”

    But Budjeryn, who is a senior research associate on the project on managing the atom at Harvard University, added: “The bigger problem – who is going to do it? ZNPP is already down-staffed to bare bones.”

    Oleksiy said that over time water would evaporate from the cooling lake and if it could not be filled from the vast reservoir created upstream of the Nova Kakhovka dam, the turbines and the power plant could not be operated.

    In his statement, Grossi said that the cooling pond should last “for some months” but it was imperative it was not damaged in fighting. The water is used to cool not just the reactor cores, but also the spent fuel and the diesel generators used for safety systems.

    “Absence of cooling water in the essential cooling water systems for an extended period of time would cause fuel melt and inoperability of the emergency diesel generators,” he warned.

    Budjeryn pointed to another implication of the dam collapse regarding the future of the Russian occupied nuclear plant, which Russian occupying forces have allegedly mined. “If the Russians would do this with Kakhovka, there’s no guarantee they won’t blow up the reactor units at ZNPP that are also reportedly mined – three of the six,” she said. “It wouldn’t cause a Chornobyl, but massive disruption, local contamination and long-term damage to Ukraine.”

  65. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    “Kuleba criticizes international media for entertaining Russian propaganda about Kakhovka dam explosion”:

    Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba called out international media on June 6 for entertaining Russian narratives about the Kakhovka dam explosion, saying it “puts facts and propaganda on equal footing.”

    “Infuriating to see some media report ‘Kyiv and Moscow accusing each other’ of ruining the Kakhovka dam. It puts facts and propaganda on equal footing. Ukraine is facing a huge humanitarian and environmental crisis. Ignoring this fact means playing Russia’s ‘not all obvious’ game,” Kuleba wrote.

    Russian forces blew up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant’s dam on the morning of June 6, sparking a large-scale humanitarian and environmental disaster across southern Ukraine.

    The Moscow-installed mayor in the occupied city of Nova Kakhovka initially downplayed the damage caused to the dam, claiming that it had been caused by Ukrainian shelling….

    “President’s Office: At least 150 tons of motor oil released into Dnipro River after Kakhovka dam explosion”:

    At least 150 tons of motor oil have been released into the Dnipro River after Russian forces blew up the Kakhovka dam on June 6, the President’s Office reported.

    According to the President’s Office, there is a risk of 300 additional tons of machine oil leaking into the river.

    President Volodymyr Zelensky convened an emergency meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine after Russian forces destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant’s dam on the morning of June 6, sparking a large-scale humanitarian and environmental disaster across southern Ukraine.

    The attack occurred around 2:50 a.m. local time, the President’s office wrote.

    No civilian or military casualties were reported as a result of the explosion, but 80 settlements are in the immediate flood zone.

    The Interior Ministry reported that as of 11:00 a.m. local time, 885 civilians have been evacuated from Kherson Oblast. However, some of the settlements which face the biggest risk of flooding are under Russian occupation….

  66. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s interior minister, claims that Russia is shelling areas in southern Kherson where people are being evacuated, leaving two police officers wounded.

    “The Russian military continue to shell territory where evacuation measures are being carried out. An hour ago, two police officers were wounded in the area. Shelling continues at the moment,” Klymenko told Ukrainian television.

  67. says

    Zelenskyy tweeted:

    Russia has been controlling the dam and the entire Kakhovka HPP for more than a year. It is physically impossible to blow it up somehow from the outside, by shelling. It was mined by the Russian occupiers. And they blew it up.

    Russia has detonated a bomb of mass environmental destruction. This is the largest man-made environmental disaster in Europe in decades. It is the most dangerous terrorist in the world. And that is why Russia’s defeat – a defeat that we’ll ensure anyway – will be the most significant contribution to the security of our region, our Europe and the entire world.

    However, don’t we know what constantly fuels Russian revanchism? This is the belief of Russia’s rulers that Europe will allegedly show weakness. Weakness is the main hope and bet of terrorists.

    No more weakness in Europe against the evil of aggression! No more uncertainty about security prospects in Europe! Every step, decision and summit of ours must strengthen us all in our defense against Russian terror. No doubt, the Vilnius #NATOSummit must ensure this.

    I said this addressing the Bucharest Nine Summit….

    [subtited video at the link]

  68. says


    Russia-appointed Kherson oblast governor Saldo, speaking right in front of the flooded streets of Novaya Kakhovka:

    “Everything is fine in Novaya Kakhovka, people go about their daily business like any day”

    Video at the (Twitter) link.

  69. says

    Noel on Twitter:

    Northern Bakhmut, based on multiple sources both open and closed, Ukrainian forces managed to take over large parts of Berkhivka, as well as fully drive out Russians from the outskirts of Orikhovo-Vasylivka and advance along the M03 while also attacking Zaliznyans’ke.

    Map at the link. There’s also activity/explosions in Mariupol, the occupied left bank in Kherson, and Bilhorod.

  70. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has accused Russia of blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam as a distraction from ongoing border skirmishes in Russia’s Belgorod region, and suggested it will have a negative impact on Russia’s own ability to hold on to territory it occupies in Kherson region.

    On Telegram, Hanna Maliar posted:

    The Russian terrorist army has committed another crime that is capable of causing a serious ecological and humanitarian catastrophe.

    The purposeful undermining of the dam was carried out by the Russian occupiers in order to stop the process of de-occupation by the defence forces of Ukraine and shift the vector of public attention from the events taking place in the Belgorod region.

    Instead, the Russian occupiers had the opposite effect.

    Currently, civilians in the temporarily occupied settlements of Kherson region and Crimea are in a critical situation, as the destruction of the dam deprived them of fresh water. In addition, positions of Russian military units were flooded, which could lead to large-scale washing of Russian minefields and their detonation in a chaotic manner.

    Earlier the governor of Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, issued a denial in a video message that anti-Kremlin forces were in the settlement of Novaya Tavolzhanka, saying “there are many insinuations” but “today there is no enemy in the Belgorod region. People ask a lot about Novaya Tavolzhanka. There is no enemy on the territory of Novaya Tavolzhanka.”

  71. says

    (((Tendar))) on Twitter:

    The Russian rebels in Belgorod/Bilhorod oblast are rolling with MBTs through Novaya Tavolzhanka.

    The Russian Air Force has apparently gone full AWOL.

    Has anyone seen Russian governor Gladkov?

    I have geolocated that area. It is 100% on Russian soil. Not going further into details.

    Video at the link.

  72. says

    Anton Gerashchenko on Twitter:

    This is roughly the prevailing current mood among Russian “bloggers” and “war correspondents”:

    “I’m sitting in f**king shock, the situation in the country is fucked up, they’re only destabilizing it further, the situation in Belgorod region is getting worse, the Ministry of Defense almost entered into an open confrontation with Wagner, Wagner had a confrontation with Akhmat [Kadyrov’s forces], they don’t let us work at full strength on the waiting lists, drones fly over Moscow, they fly into Krasnodar, systematically visit Crimea, everyone fights with each other, even Telegram channels. How are we going to win like that?

    Nothing distinguishes Russia from other countries as much as competition and hostility of various structures to each other.

    The problem is deeper and deeper; people argue with each other in grocery shops, military argue in their locations, there is arguing between the types of military forces, arguing between structures, everyone f**king argues”

  73. says

    (((Tendar))) on Twitter:

    This is possible the dumbest kill video of this whole war and I really mean it.

    This Russian Ka-52 attack chopper crew thought that they have targeted and destroyed Leopard 2 tanks (you read this correctly).

    Even a semi-professional can clearly see that this are agricultural harvester and sprayer machines.

    And as if this is not dumb enough, Russian regime bloggers like Kotsnews plus Ria Novosti issued this footage claiming exactly that.

    Video/photos at the link.

  74. says

    Ukraine Update: Russia blows up Kakhovka dam, creating massive human and ecological disaster

    UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023 · 10:05:42 AM MDT · Mark Sumner
    Meanwhile … there are reports this morning that Ukraine has liberated the town of Berkhivka, just northwest of Bakhmut. This follows earlier reports that Ukrainian forces had reached the edge of the that town.

    Ukrainian troops have also reportedly pushed back from Orikhovo-Vasylivka and pushed Russia back several kilometers along the M03 highway. Russian artillery near the village of Dubovo-Vasylivka is in danger of being encircled.

    UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023 · 9:20:43 AM MDT · Mark Sumner
    One issue with flooding in Ukraine that’s very different from flooding in many areas. Those attempting rescues, and those attempting to escape from flooded areas, are also in danger from mines, many of which have been laid on and near the riverbank. [tweet and image at the link, (scary image of mines in the water)]

    In the early hours of Tuesday morning, residents who live near the town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region of Ukraine started sharing text messages about the unusual noises they were hearing. One reported “such explosions” and speculated it was a missile. Another replied, “How horrible. So loud.” The noise and shaking ground led some to run to the bathroom—a central room with no windows—the same way that people in the Midwest might react to a tornado warning.

    Soon after, one of the residents reported that the ground was still shaking and that there was a strange noise, an “incomprehensible sound.”

    “Why is the water so loud?” asked another.

    Some wondered if it was safe to go back to bed. Others worried about losing electricity again. But most were baffled by the sound of thundering water. “I never heard anything like it.” Above them, the Kakhovka Dam was in the middle of collapsing, spilling 18 billion cubic meters of water toward their homes and everywhere along the banks of the Dnipro River.

    Russia has been in control of the Kakhovka Dam for almost a year. In that time they have badly—and apparently intentionally—mismanaged water levels in the reservoir above the lake. Throughout most of the year they had two spillways open, which was too much over dry months last summer, leading to very low levels of water above the dam. But following the fall and winter rains, Russia failed to open the sluice gates, allowing water to accumulate, leading to flooding around the edges of the reservoir.

    As The New York Times reported on May 17,

    Water levels at a reservoir that supplies southern Ukraine with drinking water have reached a 30-year high, increasing the possibility of flooding in the area and signaling a lack of regulation. The sudden increase in levels at the Kakhovka reservoir appears in altimetry data — which uses satellites to measure height — published on Friday by Theia, a French earth data provider.

    Images from earlier this week show that by June 1, water that had overtopped the dam was beginning to damage a road that ran over the spillway. That damage is even more visible in images from the following day. Images from June 3 show that the road was swept away. However, the edge of the spillway itself did not seem to have been damaged by June 4. Images from later that day show that the road was also out on the western end, meaning that even if Ukrainian forces had approached the area from the west (right) bank of the Dnipro, they would not have been able to access the area around the hydroelectric power station control center. Only Russia could address the problems at the dam.

    The rate of water flow across that five-day period was clearly increasing, as was the damage to the dam structure. However, Russia did not act to open the sluice gates and release more water. [Tweet and video at the link]

    By daylight on June 6, it was clear that a large portion of Kakhovka Dam, including much of the control infrastructure, was gone and that a disaster was underway. [tweet and video at the link]

    The cleanness of the breaks in the dam, the still-crumbling structure, and the signs that a collapse might have already been underway led many to conjecture that there had been no explosion, and that the dam had ruptured due to the record high water levels and erosion caused by the water overtopping the spillway.

    However, other footage seems to indicate that an explosion did occur—a conclusion supported by those text messages from locals and other reports of a loud explosion at just the time of the dam failure. Ukrainian officials are criticizing media for downplaying the damage and failing to definitively pin the explosion on Russia. There are reports of the explosion at the dam being heard 80 km away, which would not be the case in even the most catastrophic collapse. [!!!]

    Kakhovka Dam was deliberately destroyed by an explosion that targeted the power plant and control structures, as well as breaking the structural integrity of the dam. That explosion is what locals in the area reported at 1:20 in the morning. The incomprehensible noise that came after has only gotten worse as the breach in the dam has continued to widen and water has poured down into the lower Dnipro basin.

    The deliberate destruction of a dam in order to flood civilian areas is a war crime—another to add to the thick stack of such crimes Russia has accumulated over the course of its illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. It’s hard to say if it’s worse than the destruction of Mariupol, or the mass graves at Bucha and Izyum, or the torture chambers found in basements across formerly Russian-occupied regions, or the deliberate bombing of hospitals and shelters. Such forms of evil are all so dark that it’s hard to distinguish a shade. [Tweet and video at the link]

    However, it seems that things can always be worse: On Tuesday there are reports that Russia is shelling Ukrainian rescue operations as Ukrainian police and military attempt to evacuate people, livestock, and wildlife from rapidly flooding areas below the shattered dam. [Tweet and video: “Civilians are helping to evacuate other civilians under shelling in Kherson.”]

    This is a massive humanitarian, ecological, and economic disaster, the impact of which will last for years. How it will affect structures upstream and downstream—including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant where water from the reservoir was vital for cooling—is still to be seen. This is the early hours of a disaster still unfolding.

    It also seems likely that the result of the dam failure will alter the flow along the canal that provides water to Crimea, though what that change will be isn’t yet clear. It seems likely that the canal infrastructure could also be damaged by the high levels of water now coming down the Dnipro. Bridges, roads, farms, buildings, homes … the damage is going to be absolutely enormous.

    It seems obvious from the available evidence that Russia has committed a deliberate, massive, and blatant war crime. There were warnings that Russia was planning such an act as early as last October, and further warnings shortly after Russia was forced to flee from the city of Kherson. Now it seems that the destruction was timed to signs that Ukraine was in the opening stages of its counteroffensive. Whether this action will affect Ukraine’s plans for the coming weeks is still to be seen. [tweet and video at the link: “the russians are turning occupied territories of Ukraine into deserts, ruins, and flood zones. […]”]

  75. says

    In US news:

    CNN – “Exclusive: Mar-a-Lago pool flood raises suspicions among prosecutors in Trump classified documents case”:

    An employee at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence drained the resort’s swimming pool last October and ended up flooding a room where computer servers containing surveillance video logs were kept, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

    While it’s unclear if the room was intentionally flooded or if it happened by mistake, the incident occurred amid a series of events that federal prosecutors found suspicious.

    At least one witness has been asked by prosecutors about the flooded server room as part of the federal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to one of the sources.

    The incident, which has not been previously reported, came roughly two months after the FBI retrieved hundreds of classified documents from the Florida residence and as prosecutors obtained surveillance footage to track how White House records were moved around the resort. Prosecutors have been examining any effort to obstruct the Justice Department’s investigation after Trump received a subpoena in May 2022 for classified documents.

    Prosecutors have heard testimony that the IT equipment in the room was not damaged in the flood, according to one source.

    Yet the flooded room as well as conversations and actions by Trump’s employees while the criminal investigation bore down on the club has caught the attention of prosecutors. The circumstances may factor into a possible obstruction conspiracy case, multiple sources tell CNN, as investigators try to determine whether the events of last year around Mar-a-Lago indicate that Trump or a small group of people working for him, took steps to try to interfere with the Justice Department’s evidence-gathering….

    Guardian – “Texas sheriff files criminal case over DeSantis flights to Martha’s Vineyard”:

    A Texas sheriff’s office has recommended criminal charges over flights that the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, arranged to deport 49 South American migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, last year.

    In a statement on Monday, the Bexar county sheriff’s office said it had filed a criminal case with the local district attorney over the flight. The Bexar county sheriff, Javier Salazar, has previously said the migrants were “lured under false pretenses” into traveling to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy liberal town.

    The recommendation comes after the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, threatened DeSantis with kidnapping charges on Monday, after Florida flew a group of people seeking asylum to Sacramento. It was the second time in four days Florida had used taxpayer money to fly asylum seekers to California.

    “The charge filed is unlawful restraint and several accounts were filed, both misdemeanor and felony,” the Bexar county sheriff’s office said in a statement provided to KSAT News.

    “At this time, the case is being reviewed by the DA’s office. Once an update is available, it will be provided to the public.”…

    “Second plane carrying migrants lands in Sacramento; officials say Florida was involved”:

    A plane carrying migrants landed in Sacramento on Monday, just days after a chartered flight with 16 migrants on board landed in the city Friday, officials said.

    About 20 people were on Monday’s flight, a spokesperson for the state’s attorney general said. Documentation indicated both flights were linked to the state of Florida.

    “The contractor operating the flight that arrived today appears to be the same contractor who transported the migrants last week,” a spokesperson for California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. “As was the case with the migrants who arrived on Friday, the migrants who arrived today carried documents indicating that their transportation to California involved the state of Florida.”

    After the first flight landed in Sacramento, Bonta said his office was looking into possible criminal or civil action against those who transported the migrants or arranged for the transportation.

    “While we continue to collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting,” Bonta said. “We are a nation built by immigrants and we must condemn the cruelty and hateful rhetoric of those, whether they are state leaders or private parties, who refuse to recognize humanity and who turn their backs on extending dignity and care to fellow human beings.”…

  76. says

    Followup to comment 98.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    “If I can’t have it, nobody can!” Putin is beginning to issue his own version of Hitler’s Nero Decree. He’s lost, he knows it, and now the only priority is to hurt the people who have “failed” him as much as he can.
    Hitler’s Nero Decree was deliberately disobeyed by Albert Speer, who saw it, correctly, as a desperate last gasp of a defeated madman.
    Russia is racking up massive amounts of debt to Ukraine and Eastern Europe in general. Let’s hope Russia will eventually be made to pay the bill.
    even a plant in a cold shutdown mode requires a constant supply of both fresh water and electricity to cool the reactors and spent fuel rod pools. While it appears that the onsite cooling pond is currently full and undamaged, the reservoir provides the ultimate parent source of cooling water for the plant. Its destruction further increases the already terrifyingly high risk profile associated with the ZNPP sitting in the middle of this war zone.
    It should be noted, that beyond the immediate effects of the dam breach and flood, this dam destruction removes the livelihood of an entire province, for the foreseeable future. (Until that time in the future when peace is restored and the dam can be rebuilt, which will be many many years off).
    Mark Sumner (a correction): now that I sort them ALL of the videos claiming to show an explosion at the dam, at least those I’ve seen so far, show older events — though some claim to show events overnight, they are clearly copies of the older videos. […]

    An explosion still fits with the evidence and the testimony of those in the area, but for now I have no definitive evidence that it was an explosion and not an abrupt failure resulting from Russia’s mismanagement of the water levels.
    #Ukraine 🇺🇦: Russians are now openly bragging and posting videos of their artillery targeting Ukrainian forces in the flooded area downstream in #Kherson.
    Such artillery attacks are making it impossible for the UA military to evacuate people stuck on the islands.
    “Ukraine and Russia trade blame over dam” -Washington Post

    “Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the attack on the Russian-held facility…” -New York Times
    Stupid to think Ukraine would blow up the dam and to equivocate like that is journalistic malpractice. Dam Breached with Massive Flooding, Evidence Points to Russian War Crime is the real headline…
    Drunk local Russian command, likely.

  77. says

    Defeated and deflated, Freedom Caucus backs off anti-McCarthy push

    Last week, the House Freedom Caucus made it sound as if Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s job is in jeopardy. This week, the hapless faction is slinking away.

    […] The Hill reported overnight:

    A spark of initial interest in forcing a vote to remove Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from his position as Speaker over the debt limit deal he negotiated with President Biden has not caught on in the House Freedom Caucus. … Multiple members leaving a Freedom Caucus meeting Monday — the first gathering of the group in Washington, D.C., since the debt limit bill passed — said there was no discussion of whether any member should make a motion to vacate the chair, which would force a vote to remove McCarthy.

    It was a week ago today when Rep. Dan Bishop became the first House Republican to publicly declare his intention to try to oust McCarthy from his post. Asked specifically if he was prepared to use procedural tactics to force a vote on the speaker’s future, the North Carolina Republican told Politico, “Absolutely. It is inescapable to me. It has to be done.”

    As we discussed soon after, he appeared to have some company. Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado broached the subject of McCarthy’s gavel during a House Freedom Caucus conference call, and he told NBC News that he raised the possibility “as a result of a broken promise.”

    Rep. Scott Perry, the contingent’s current chair, didn’t explicitly endorse moving against McCarthy, but the Pennsylvanian didn’t rule out the possibility, either.

    Rep. Chip Roy didn’t call out McCarthy by name, but the Texan declared at a Capitol Hill press conference, “We will continue to fight it today, tomorrow, and no matter what happens, there’s going to be a reckoning about what just occurred.”

    A week later, all of this talk has effectively evaporated. The House speaker is enjoying the best media coverage of his adult life — too much, by my estimation — and his far-right detractors who were gearing up for what would effectively be a no-confidence vote are quietly slinking away.

    The problem is not procedural. As we talked about last week, as the current Congress got underway, McCarthy was forced to beg his own members for their support during his protracted fight for the speaker’s gavel. As part of that process, he agreed to tweak the motion-to-vacate-the-chair rules, which at least in theory, would make it easier for angry House Republicans to try to oust McCarthy from his leadership position if he disappointed them.

    But what the Freedom Caucus’ members are finding is that while the tool is available, they lack the wherewithal to wield it effectively.

    All of this must come as something of a shock to the far-right contingent. Revisiting our earlier coverage, House Freedom Caucus members genuinely seemed to believe they were running the show. They thought their far-right ransom note was their party’s inviolable plan. They thought they had a secret Rules Committee deal that would give them veto power. They thought they’d persuade the rest of the GOP conference to oppose the bill. They thought McCarthy would be afraid of the proverbial motion-to-vacate-the-chair sword hanging overhead.

    But as a Washington Post analysis summarized last week, “The right-wing caucus emerges from [the clash over the debt ceiling] looking bruised, hapless and apparently without the leverage it thought it had over McCarthy.”

    To be sure, given the House Republicans’ tiny majority, the faction still has the votes to derail future measures as they reach the floor. But that would only put GOP leaders in a position of having to reach out to Democrats for votes — as previous House speakers such as John Boehner and Paul Ryan occasionally had to do — strengthening the hand of Republican opponents.

    In other words, the Freedom Caucus lost the year’s biggest fight, can’t find the leverage it thought it had, and has no credible plan to reassert its influence.

    Well, that’s good news.

  78. says

    Hmmm, what fresh dumbfuckery is this?

    Rep. George Santos (R-NY) has told a judge he’d rather be taken into custody pre-trial than reveal the donors who co-signed on his $500,000 bond.

  79. says

    […] My acquaintances in Crimea (Russian-annexed since 2014) are telling me that in Yevpatoria the local media are running a public service announcement to fill bathtubs, etc. with water — it may be cut off in the afternoon. Kerch is without water already.

    Most of Crimea’s fresh water came from the Nova Kakhovka Dam reservoir. This reservoir now has been destroyed, most likely by Russian troops from the 205th Armored Infantry Brigade. Whoever ordered the charges (which had been planted well in advance) to be blown must fully expect Russia to lose Crimea.

    What makes things worse is that the east coast of Dnieper river was heavily mined by the Russians in anticipation of Ukraine’s counteratack. These mines are now randomly carried by the floodwaters and occasionally exploding.

    Sorry — cannot identify my sources in Russian-occupied areas — too risky for them.


    Map of North Crimean canal at the link.

  80. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    NBC News reports that the US government has intelligence that indicates Russia is behind the blowing up of the Nova Kakhovka dam, according to two US officials and one western official.

    US president Joe Biden’s administration was working to declassify some of the intelligence and share it as early as Tuesday afternoon.

    The western official said the collapse appears likely to make it more difficult for Ukrainian forces to conduct a river crossing.

  81. says

    The Orlando Sentinel published a report yesterday that raised eyebrows for a reason.

    A Republican state attorney last May declined to prosecute six voter fraud cases that involved circumstances strikingly similar to the cases later brought against 20 ex-felons by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ election police unit and statewide prosecutors. The office of State Attorney Bill Gladson, whose district includes The Villages and five Republican counties, confirmed six convicted sex offenders in Lake County had voted in the 2020 general election, according to a determination letter obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

    And why is it, pray tell, that the local Republican prosecutor’s office passed on these fraud cases? According to the Sentinel’s report, Gladson and his staff concluded that the fraud wasn’t deliberate — and therefore couldn’t be prosecuted.

    At first blush, this wouldn’t be especially notable. Six former felons were caught casting ballots they weren’t supposed to cast, but these Floridians were under the mistaken impression that they could legally vote. Indeed, they were even given voter-ID cards by state agencies.

    They didn’t willfully break the law, so their Republican state attorney didn’t feel the need to file charges.

    But given the larger context, that’s not the end of the story.

    Revisiting our earlier coverage, it was roughly 10 months ago when Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference, making what he characterized as an important announcement: The Florida Office of Election Crimes and Security — an office he created to pursue a problem that didn’t appear to exist in any meaningful way — had found 20 people who voted illegally in 2020.

    The Republican governor, surrounded by uniformed officers, assured the public that the suspects were in custody and would be prosecuted.

    As we’ve discussed, DeSantis seemed quite pleased with himself. He had created an election crimes office and it uncovered election crimes, just like he said it would. His press conference was a victory lap for the ambitious governor’s “election integrity” campaign.

    It wasn’t long, however, before the cases went to court and started falling apart. Most of the initial 20 arrests — each targeting former convicts who weren’t eligible to vote — have either seen the charges dismissed or plea deals that resulted in no jail time. Among the most obvious problems with these dubious charges is that the Floridians who’d been arrested had been notified by government entities they were eligible to cast ballots.

    Indeed, The Tampa Bay Times highlighted the suspects who seemed utterly baffled as to why they were being taken away in handcuffs, insisting they had cast perfectly legal votes — not only because voters approved a state constitutional amendment in 2018, restoring voting rights to many felons, but also because they’d been told explicitly that they could participate in elections.

    Those targeted by DeSantis’ election police haven’t ended up behind bars, but many of them have nevertheless seen their lives uprooted as a result of their unnecessary arrests.

    We’re left with an unavoidable question: Why did DeSantis’ operation take 20 Floridians away in handcuffs for unknowingly casting improper ballots, while a Republican state attorney in a Republican area passed on prosecuting effectively identical cases?

    A local lawyer representing one of the suspects arrested by DeSantis’ election police told the Sentinel, “Laws of the state of Florida, as well as the United States, are designed to protect everybody equally. How can some people be prosecuted and others not?”

    This need not be a rhetorical question.


    Take another look at where the Republicans who actually committed voter fraud were NOT prosecuted: “The office of State Attorney Bill Gladson, whose district includes The Villages and five Republican counties […]” There’s your answer.

  82. says

    Followup to comment 103.

    Judge grants request for George Santos’s bond sponsors to be unsealed

    A federal judge Tuesday granted media organizations’ requests to unseal the names of the people who cosigned Rep. George Santos’s (R-N.Y.) $500,000 bond in his criminal fraud case.

    The order is a blow to Santos, whose attorney Monday asked a judge to keep the names of the bond cosigners sealed. The congressman’s lawyer, Joseph Murray, expressed concern for the sponsors should their identities be revealed, citing a “media frenzy” around the Santos case.

    […] Murray previously indicated Santos would rather go to jail ahead of trial rather than allow the suretors to face the public attention
    “My client would rather surrender to pretrial detainment than subject these suretors to what will inevitably come,” Murray said.
    Federal prosecutors took no position on the unsealing request.

    […] Last month, the panel [House Ethics panel] asked for information on the individuals who sponsored Santos’s bond.

    The request — outlined in a letter dated May 13 that was first made public on Monday — asks Santos to identify the individuals who co-signed his bond, inform the committee of any payments made on his behalf to the co-signers as compensation, lay out any exceptions to House rules that the congressman believes applies to the bond guarantors and provide all documents related to the bond, including communications with the co-signers.

    […] “I firmly believe that Congressman Santos has conducted himself honorably, lawfully, and ethically in keeping with the good order and finest traditions of an honorable members of the United States House of Representatives, in the manner in which the suretors who cosigned the unsecured $500,000.00 appearance bond, under oath in court were engaged,” Murray said. [LOL, LOL, LOL]

  83. says

    Two Western leaders have recently eaten crow.

    On April 4, former U.S. President Bill Clinton admitted to having been wrong to compel Ukraine to surrender its nuclear weapons to Russia.

    Then, on May 31, French President Emmanuel Macron told an audience in Bratislava that France, and by extension the West, should have listened to Eastern Europeans about Russia.

    “I feel personally involved because I forced them [Ukraine] to agree to refuse nuclear weapons,” Clinton said. The Ukrainians “were afraid to let them [the nuclear weapons] go because they thought it was the only thing that protected them from an expansionist Russia. Putin, when he saw an opportunity, broke the agreement and seized Crimea first. And I feel terrible because of this, because Ukraine is a very important country.”

    Macron, meanwhile, first criticized former French President Jacques Chirac for telling the Eastern Europeans in 2003 that they missed a “good opportunity to shut up” during the run-up to the attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He then admitted that “we also lost an opportunity to listen to you” when it came to assessing the Russian threat.

    Preceding both leaders was German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said back in April 2022 that “We failed on many points. It is true that we should have taken the warnings of our Eastern European partners more seriously, particularly regarding the time after 2014.” […]


    More at the link, including historical context.

  84. tomh says

    Judge Sides With Families Fighting Florida’s Ban on Gender Care for Minors
    A federal judge wrote that the plaintiffs suing to block the new law are “likely to prevail on their claim that the prohibition is unconstitutional.”
    By Rick Rojas and Azeen Ghorayshi / June 6, 2023

    A federal judge in Florida issued a scathing assessment on Tuesday of the state’s ban on gender transition care for minors, asserting in a ruling that the families with transgender children who sued the state are “likely to prevail on their claim that the prohibition is unconstitutional.”

    Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Federal District Court in Tallahassee ruled specifically that three transgender children can be prescribed puberty blockers despite the new state law, which also adds new hurdles for adults who seek similar care.

    But as legal challenges have been mounted to new restrictions on transition care that have been enacted across the country, Judge Hinkle’s ruling exemplifies the kind of chilly reception that the bans may receive from judges.

    “Gender identity is real,” Judge Hinkle wrote, adding that “proper treatment” can include mental health therapy followed by puberty blockers and hormone treatments. “Florida has adopted a statute and rules that prohibit these treatments even when medically appropriate.”

    The plaintiffs had urged Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Federal District Court in Tallahassee specifically to block one part of the law that bars doctors and nurses from prescribing or administering transition-related medication to children, and another part that exposes medical providers to criminal liability and professional discipline for doing so.

    The injunction granted by Judge Hinkle does not apply to other aspects of the far-reaching legislation, which also bars gender-transition surgery for minors, alters child custody statutes to treat transition care as equivalent to child abuse, and forbids the use of state funds to pay for transition care.

    Even so, the judge wrote dismissively of the arguments offered by the state, calling them “a laundry list of purported justifications for the statute and rules” that were “largely pretextual and, in any event, do not call for a different result.”

    Concerning the state’s claim that professional associations that endorsed gender transition care had done so for political reasons, the judge wrote: “If ever a pot called a kettle black, it is here. The statute and the rules were an exercise in politics, not good medicine.”

    Before he signed the legislation, Mr. DeSantis, who has since announced a presidential bid, criticized puberty blockers and other forms of gender transition care for children. “That is wrong, and we’re glad that we put a stop to that in the state of Florida,” he said.

    The legislation was part of an avalanche of measures focused on L.G.B.T.Q. people that Florida’s Republican-controlled State Legislature passed during its annual session.

  85. says

    Comer Tries To Run The First Trump Impeachment In Reverse

    After weeks of clamoring and buildup, House Oversight Committee chair Rep. James Comer (R-KY) on Thursday will oversee a vote to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress.

    But the staging for this move didn’t begin in April, when House Republicans started spreading outrageous fabrications about a foreign bribery scheme involving Joe Biden. Nor did the choreography begin when the GOP took the majority in the House last year.

    Rather, it started at the end of Trump’s first impeachment with Attorney General Bill Barr.

    At the time, Barr set up what he described as an “intake process” for material that was brought back from Ukraine by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney and a consummate flirter with shady Eastern European cash flows.

    Giuliani had helped get his client, President Trump, impeached in 2019 by demanding that the Ukrainian government produce damaging information about the Bidens. By early 2020, after months of impeachment proceedings and another trip to Kyiv, Giuliani had a binder of records full of fabrications that he wanted loudly and publicly investigated.

    Some of that information made its way to the FBI which, per the Washington Post, found it unworthy of further investigation.

    […] Comer is reviewing the FBI’s work following the 2019 impeachment. He claims that the FBI’s failure to say that the allegations are true — and refusal to give Comer a copy of a document from the investigation which he could then publicize — should warrant contempt of Congress.

    On Monday, the FBI brought the document — a second-hand report of an allegation about a $5 million bribe to Joe Biden — to Capitol Hill, and Comer and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) reviewed it.

    At a press conference afterwards, Raskin said that the FBI found the information not credible.

    But Comer, undeterred, used it as a springboard to schedule a vote to hold FBI Director Chris Wray in contempt for not letting Comer keep a copy.

    Old made new again
    When Barr first set up Giuliani’s special intake office, the President had faced months of investigations in the Democratic-controlled House and a subsequent speedy acquittal in the GOP-controlled Senate over his withholding of military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to extort Kyiv into manufacturing dirt on Trump’s then-potential 2020 presidential opponent, Biden.

    Giuliani had played a central role in the effort, […] receiving information from anyone who was willing to make an allegation. That included at least one person who has since been identified as a Russian agent: Ukrainian politician Andrii Derkach.

    The impeachment proceedings wrapped up in early February 2020. But according to records released by nonprofit watchdog American Oversight, the effort to create American investigations into the Bidens continued, with a top Barr deputy asking the then-U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh if he could take on a “possible discreet assignment.”

    At around the same time, Barr opened up the “intake process” — cases emanating from Ukraine were to go to Scott Brady, the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh.

    That resulted in a multi-month probe […] The claim was that the prosecutor was fired for not going after a gas company advised by Hunter Biden. It’s an allegation that’s been thoroughly refuted […]

    But like so many Trump-era efforts to rewrite history, Giuliani’s allegations continued to simmer. One of the investigations that Giuliani sparked through this “intake process” included the claim that Comer is now waving around — that a foreign government bribed Biden with a $5 million payment. Per Raskin and the Washington Post, the FBI immediately debunked the allegation.

    Investigate the investigation
    Comer has set Wray up for a contempt vote in part by taking up the strategy that Trump acolytes have used over the past several years of scandal: investigate the investigators.

    In Comer’s case, that’s meant examining how the FBI reacted to an allegation that, by all accounts, was complete nonsense and had no basis.

    It’s thanks to Barr’s “intake process” that the allegation existed in the archives for Comer to find […] they’ve used the nonsense bribery claim as a springboard to move forward the same allegations that the FBI has treated Trump very unfairly forward, this time by suggesting that it’s given Biden a light touch.

    Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), as ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, also got a peek at a copy of the record on Capitol Hill on Monday. At a press conference, he suggested that Comer had inflated the document’s importance, saying that it only showed what an FBI informant had heard someone else allege — “secondhand information.”

    “If there’s a complaint, the complaint is with Attorney General William Barr, the Trump Justice Department and the team that the Trump administration appointed to look into it,” Raskin said.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Just more performative bullshit from the GQP. It’s all they’ve got.
    So basically his complaint is that reality was unfair to tfg?
    I for one am thankful that Jamie Raskin is the ranking member on this committee.
    Comer is strikingly unsuited to his task. The aspect of the House GOP I most appreciate is their incompetence and Comer has it in spades

  86. says

    Republican presidential candidates are eager to appease Putin—and Putin’s surely listening

    The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake has a new piece analyzing future Republican presidential primary also-ran Vivek Ramaswamy’s proposal to cut off U.S. military aid to Ukraine and what it might mean for the Republican primaries at large. Ramaswamy’s “peace” plan for Ukraine boils down to cutting off U.S. aid so that the country no longer has hope of regaining its lost territory, after which Ukraine will be forced to accept the Russian annexation of that territory [yikes!]

    […] Ramaswamy is an unserious contender, a gadfly who will likely exist on the debate stage mainly as an excuse for the top contenders to take a few sips of water after trading newly invented insults, but advancing such proposals likely will encourage both seditionist Donald Trump and ambition-bot Ron DeSantis to express their anti-Ukraine views more fully. […] both top contenders have dismissed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as something beneath U.S. interest. […] whine about how upstanding Republican taxpayers shouldn’t be spending money to protect the world against Trump’s best authoritarian friend.

    Donald Trump was already impeached for withholding Ukraine aid once, […] and for nothing more than a Nixonish ratf-cking operation. […] It was Trump’s camp that pushed the Republican Party to rewrite its party platform to water down support for Ukraine during the 2016 presidential race, a move that almost certainly resulted from outright crookedness and Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s lobbying work against Ukraine’s government. We don’t need to speculate on Trump’s position; he has taken concrete steps to weaken Ukraine’s government and boost Russian efforts against the country for more than six years now. In fact, during a Fox News’ town hall’ just days ago, Trump floated the idea of breaking up NATO, which must have been music to Putin’s ears.

    As for DeSantis, his policies are more prosaic: He just doesn’t care. It is not in his electoral interests to care, and if later on it would move a few votes one way or the other, then he will decide what his position is according to what the polls say it should be. Until then, he remains laser-focused on attacking schoolchildren, teachers, and the Walt Disney Company.

    Ramaswamy might be a vanity candidate, but his ideas for “peace” are noncontroversial among the Republican base and the hardest-right and most sedition-agnostic House Republicans: stop supporting Ukraine, give Putin what Putin can take, and be done with it. […] the Republicans, still willing to back Trump even after an attempt to overthrow the United States government, do want to make cozy with dictatorial thugs, or at least want to not spend money getting in their way.

    […] NATO heads and other European leaders are already fretting that the Republican presidential campaigns will “shatter” already-brittle bipartisan support for Ukrainian aid […]

    […] That could mean that Putin orders his government to pull out all the stops in conducting espionage and online social engineering efforts to boost Republican candidates and damage Democratic ones. The future of Crimea may well depend on Russian efforts to again bend a presidential election toward a Russian-friendly Republican; how many more resources might Putin bring to bear on such an effort now, with Russia’s military forces being ground into a paste on a daily and hourly basis […]

  87. says

    Not since Chernobyl has Russian incompetence and stupidity had such devastating consequences on humanity and the planet in general.

    It seems that the Russians may have thought they were surgically blowing up just enough of the Kakhovka power plant to flood Ukraine’s military on islands in the Dnipro River further south near Kherson.

    Oops. […]

    At two o’clock in the morning, the Russians blow up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, but they don’t see how much. […]

    1. The Russians still think that they have neatly blown up a small part of the HPP and are flooding our military on the islands. At 6:06 a.m., the head of Nova Kakhovka, Leontyev, said that the explosion of the GES was nonsense. Like, we don’t know why the water rose there. Here is the link to Ria Novosti’s

    2. Russian OSINT intelligence community Rybar picks up the thesis and says a small area was blown up at 6:51 a.m. Link

    3. At 6:51 in Nova Kakhovka, they see that the dam is a complete [mess], and […] start to realize that they are in trouble. The mayor of Nova Kakhovka abruptly changes his rhetoric and says there was no explosion, it was a shelling by the Ukrainian army. Link

    4. But the propagandists, who do not know what the fuck has happened, continue to work according to the methodology and continue to throw into the information space that the dam was previously shelled, and then it got a little tired and broke a little. Here is a post by Podolyaki’s propagandist And the propaganda channel War on Fakes

    [Tweet and image at the link]

    Everything Russia touches turns to shit. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Add this to the already huge pile of Russian atrocities. [tweet and video at the link: "There used to be a zoo in temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka. About 300 animals lived there.

    This morning, it was flooded completely. Reportedly, all the animals except for swans and ducks died. Locals said that "authorities" did nothing to rescue the animals."]

    It’s gets me worked up and I’m not Ukrainian. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to see this being done to your country. [Tweet at the link] […]


  88. says

    In a geologic triumph, scientists drill a window into Earth’s mantle.

    Washington Post link

    At an underwater mountain in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, scientists have drilled nearly a mile beneath the ocean floor and pulled up an unprecedented scientific bounty — pieces of Earth’s rocky mantle.

    The record-breaking achievement has electrified geoscientists, who for decades have dreamed of punching through miles of Earth’s crust to sample the mysterious realm that makes up most of the planet. The heat-driven churn of the mantle is what fuels plate tectonics in the crust, giving rise to mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes.

    The new expedition, by an ocean drilling vessel called the JOIDES Resolution, did not technically drill into the mantle, and the hole isn’t the deepest ever drilled beneath the ocean floor. Instead, researchers cruised to a special “tectonic window” in the North Atlantic where drills don’t have to tunnel as far to strike pay dirt. Here, the rocks of the mantle have been pushed close to the surface as the ocean floor slowly pulls apart at the nearby Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

    On May 1, they began drilling the hole, known as U1601C. Andrew McCaig, the expedition’s co-chief scientist, expected to make a shallow “pinprick” because the record for drilling in mantle rock, set in the 1990s, was a mere tenth of a mile. The researchers hoped to recover enough samples to help elucidate how chemical reactions between mantle rocks and water could have given rise to life on our planet. But ocean drilling can be an uncertain enterprise — drills get stuck, or the long cores of rock being recovered may be only partial samples.

    This time, though, the drill yielded tube after tube of dark rock, many of them surprisingly complete.

    “It just kept going deeper, deeper and deeper. Then everyone in the science party said, ‘Hey, this is what we wanted all along. Since 1960, we wanted to get a hole this deep in mantle rock,’” McCaig said, speaking from the JOIDES Resolution minutes before another long section of dark rock was pulled on board. When the team stopped drilling on June 2, the team had taken rock samples from as deep as 4,157 feet below the seafloor. […]

    The drilling ship set out from Ponta Delgada in Portugal’s Azores Islands to reach the Atlantis massif, a large underwater mountain that offers a rare window into Earth’s mantle. [map at the link]

    In 1909, a Croatian seismologist named Andrija Mohorovičić discovered a boundary within Earth.

    Mohorovičić monitored how seismic waves generated by an earthquake traveled through the ground, similar to using X-rays to probe inside the human body. Closer to the surface, seismic waves traveled at one speed, but past a certain zone all around the globe, they traveled faster, suggesting the waves were moving through two distinct layers of rock.

    This discontinuity, called the Moho, is now recognized as the line between Earth’s crust and its mantle. Its depth varies, but the mantle generally begins about five miles beneath the ocean floor and roughly 20 miles beneath the continents.

    […] The mantle isn’t a complete unknown. Occasionally, volcanic eruptions spew out bits of it — chunks of greenish peridotite, the type of rock that dominates the upper mantle, embedded in basalt rock. But these samples, called mantle xenoliths, have their limits, because they are often chewed up and weathered from their trip to the surface. There are also ophiolites, sheets of oceanic crust tinged with some of the upper mantle that were uplifted and plastered onto the land. But they too have been altered by the trip.

    What scientists have long craved was a drilled sample of mantle rock. Project Mohole, a famous ocean expedition, set out to drill through the thinner crust on the ocean floor to reach the mantle in 1961 but failed.

    […] Most of the mantle is buried beneath the crust, not exposed to the ocean the way it is at this site. That raises the fundamental question: How closely do the latest samples mimic the rest of the mantle? Do the rocks truly represent mantle, or are they lower crust?

    […] The scientists have been so busy processing the enormous volume of rock they’ve recovered that they’ve had little opportunity to study the samples in detail, or even reflect on the magnitude of the achievement. The drill bits need to be switched out every 50 hours. The team aboard works in 12-hour shifts, not wasting a minute of time.

    […] “The deeper we get in there, the closer we’re getting to what we those rocks look like, closer to what the mantle looks like,” Warren said.

  89. says

    Chris Christie Formally Enters ’24 Race, as He Takes Square Aim at Trump

    New York Times link

    […] In making a second run for the presidency, Mr. Christie, 60, has positioned himself as the person most willing to attack both Mr. Trump, his former friend turned adversary, and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who has been in second place in nearly every public Republican primary poll for months. Mr. Christie’s presence in the race could be unwelcome for Mr. DeSantis, for whom every additional candidate harms his ability to consolidate support.

    Mr. Christie, who is set to announce his run at a town-hall-style event in New Hampshire Tuesday evening, has already begun laying out an aggressive case against Mr. Trump based on the former president’s policies — namely, that he made a number of promises that he never delivered. That case is one that other hopefuls have generally sidestepped, instead largely avoiding saying Mr. Trump’s name. By contrast, Mr. Christie has gone directly at him.

    He has mocked Mr. Trump’s dwindling crowd sizes, called him a loser and said that he crossed a line with his actions that led a pro-Trump mob to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. […]

  90. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Followup to #99:

    RawStory – Mar-a-Lago wasn’t the first time Trump ‘evidence’ was flooded

    New York City spent two years probing more than $3 million in unpaid rent the city was expecting from Trump’s Grand Hyatt hotel
    “In September, 1988, the Hotel informed us that it could not locate seven of the twelve monthly general ledgers, because they ‘were discarded after they were severely damaged by water when the room in which they were stored was flooded,'” the report said. […] “resistance to our review and the Hotel’s lapses in record keeping had substantial impact upon our inquiry’s scope and methodology,”
    auditors were investigating why the hotel paid $3.7 million for rent in 1985 and, although its gross revenues increased in 1986, it paid only $667,155.

    After lawsuits and the bankruptcy of an accounting firm used by Trump, the case was mistakenly labeled as disposed and later reopened. Trump had sold the hotel and the new owners reached an undisclosed settlement

  91. Reginald Selkirk says

    J&J’s COVID vaccine is dead in the US; FDA revokes authorization

    The Food and Drug Administration has withdrawn authorization for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, ending its short-lived but troubled existence amid the pandemic.

    In a letter last week, the FDA’s top vaccine regulator, Peter Marks, wrote to Janssen Biotech—the Johnson & Johnson-owned, Belgium-based company responsible for the vaccine—saying that the agency was revoking authorization. Marks opened the letter by noting that the withdrawal was at the request of the company…

  92. johnson catman says

    re Reginald Selkirk @119: You must have missed post #96 by SC earlier today. Still funny though.

  93. tomh says

    NBC News:
    Republicans angry with McCarthy over debt deal join Democrats to block gas stove bills

    WASHINGTON — A band of 11 House conservative rabble-rousers on Tuesday took the rare step of joining all Democrats to block a pair of GOP bills to protect gas stoves to express their anger over the debt deal cut by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

    The procedural vote was rejected, 206 to 220, stunning longtime lawmakers and reporters who have not seen a rule vote — a procedural measure typically widely supported by the majority party — go down in more than two decades.

    Members of the House Freedom Caucus, along with a conservative ally, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., gathered on the steps of the Capitol after voting to rail at how McCarthy and his leadership team handled negotiations to lift the debt ceiling.

    The group warned that all Republican legislation could come to a standstill unless they resolve their internal issues.

    Walking off the floor, Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, appeared downright giddy at the GOP dysfunction.

  94. whheydt says

    Today being the anniversary of D-Day (1944), the end of the Battle of Midway (`942), and my late wife’s birthday (also 1942),
    here is an article from the BBC about a Royal Marine who was involved in D-Day…

    One of Britain’s last remaining D-Day veterans has said he puts his survival down to “the luck of the draw”.

    Les Budding, 97, was 18 years old when he served on board Landing Craft Flak 34, charged with providing covering fire for the first wave of troops who stormed Sword Beach on 6 June 1944.

    Mr Budding said: “On this anniversary, I’m thinking about the veterans we’ve lost over the past few years.

    “I’m also thinking about all those men we lost that day.”

    The son of a steam locomotive driver, Mr Budding joined the Royal Marines at 17.

    Following intense training in Scotland, he found himself with 85 others boarding a 186ft landing craft in Portsmouth headed for the Normandy coast, 79 years ago.

    They were tasked with defending the main invasion force from attack from the Luftwaffe as well as surface vessels.

    He told the BBC: “I wasn’t nervous. We were kept busy. We knew we had an important job to do. Looking back, I think we had that attitude because of our youth. If we were 25 or 30 and had experience of death – of life, come to think of it – we would probably have seen things different.

    “Survival was luck of the draw. A lot of people were lost.”

    Mr Budding, who lives near Sleaford in his native Lincolnshire, recalled “the false start” when the invasion was put back a day due to bad weather.

    “There was a narrow weather window and off we went,” he said. “We all just wanted to get going, to get the job done.”

    Mr Budding saw his first enemy aircraft later that morning, but added the Luftwaffe posed little threat thanks to the efforts of the RAF who controlled the skies.

    “The RAF did a marvellous job that day, keeping the Luftwaffe away from us,” he recalled.

    He said: “Our role was protecting the landing forces. The Germans were firing at us from the upper windows of houses dotted along the shore. They had all these sandbags around the windows and you could see the muzzle flashes.”

    Mr Budding, although proud of his actions that day, insisted the more important task was the holding of the Trout Line – a defensive line ensuring supplies reached the first waves.

    After the war, Mr Budding returned to his childhood sweetheart Doris and they married soon after. They were married 71 years. Mrs Budding died five years ago.

    “I still miss her,” he said. “She was not a happy bunny when I joined the forces,” he said. “But I had to go and do my bit.”

    Mr Budding, a father to daughter Linda, grandfather to three and great-grandfather to six, believes it is “most important” the nation continues to remember the sacrifices of those who helped free the world from Nazi tyranny.

    He remains modest, insisting he was “just one of many”.

    Today, however, he is one of the few.

    With a wink, he added: “We’re getting a little thin on the ground now, aren’t we?”

  95. says

    Associated Press:

    The White House on Tuesday is launching a website to map and track tens of thousands of infrastructure projects and private manufacturing investments, an effort by the administration to show the positive impact of its policies on the U.S. economy to a skeptical public.

    The site,, documents roughly 32,000 infrastructure projects and more than $470 billion worth of investments in the production of electric vehicles, batteries, computer chips, biotech, clean energy and other sectors. […]

  96. says

    Ukraine Update: Meanwhile, in Bakhmut …

    UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023 · 7:10:59 PM MDT · Mark Sumner
    Unconfirmed reports that Ukrainian forces have moved south from Avdiivka and are fighting in the town of Optyne, just a kilometer from the Donetsk airport.

    Most of the attention today is focused on events related to Russia’s breach of the Kakhovka Dam. Considering that thousands of square kilometers are being flooded, thousands of people will be displaced, and both the ecology and economy of the area will be affected for decades, that level of attention is well-deserved.

    But across the country, fighting continues. Russia may have intended to slow the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive through an uncontestable war crime, but in places like Bakhmut, the guns have definitely not gone silent.

    Fighting continues both on the eastern front around Bakhmut, and on the southern front around Velyka Novosilka. There are reports of Ukrainian advances in several areas, and also of Russia recapturing an area that was liberated one day earlier. And across the Russian border in Belgorod, there’s another change in the situation as the Russian Volunteer Corps bring something new into their conflict: tanks.


    On Monday, there were reports that Ukraine had moved across the “road of death” to recapture the area just below Berkhivka, northwest of the city. On Tuesday Ukraine reportedly advanced again, taking most or all of the town while pushing Russian forces back from positions they held around the reservoir on the southwest edge of Berkhivka. [Map at the link]

    At the same time, other Ukrainian forces have pressed from the west, hitting the end of the Russian salient along highway M30 (top arrow on the map) and pushing it back around 3 kilometers.

    There is still reportedly Russian artillery around the village of Dubovo-Vasylivka—right in the middle of these two Ukrainian advances. These forces are now in danger of being cut off or encircled. Forcing this group into retreat takes the heat off the “road of life” through Khromove, which has carried a lot of the supply burden in the area over the past six months, and brings Ukraine closer to regaining use of the M03, which was lost at the first of the year.

    In Bakhmut itself, there are more reports of gains, but no details. I’ve put a tiny blue polygon around the area of the appliance factory at Bakhmut’s southern entrance, but that’s not so much area regained from Russia as territory never really lost. Russia was in no hurry to occupy positions exposed to Ukrainian artillery, mortar, and direct fire. It would be nice to show portions of the city returning to Ukrainian control, but the details are not currently available and Ukraine might be in the same position: occupying that land would expose it to Russian fire, for little actual benefit.

    South of the city, there are more reports of Ukrainian forces moving toward Klishchiivka and its big prize—the high terrain west of the settlement. Videos are appearing of Ukrainian forces crossing the canal south of the city on Monday and moving up from the southwest. Other forces are pressing from the west toward the fortifications on the hill above the town. If Ukraine can gain those fortifications, they’d have a position shooting down on Russians to the east (and another excellent artillery position for firing at areas around Bakhmut from a new direction). Things seem to be moving in this area, so expect more updates.

    One thing very much worth noting in this map is the scale. After months of tracking change of control that happened block by block on maps zoomed in to have a scale of a couple of hundred meters, that scale bar over at the bottom right of this map is 10 kilometers. Ukraine has reportedly taken positions in the south that were captured by Russia in January. This is not a major counteroffensive, but it is having some fairly sizable results.


    This area received attention on Monday when Ukraine suddenly moved against the Russian line at three locations, but on Tuesday action in the area appears to be reduced. [map at the link]

    In the west. Russian sources report that Ukraine has liberated the town of Novodarivka. However, an attempt to reach Rivnopil, 5 kilometers to the east, resulted in the loss of as many as 10 Ukrainian vehicles and an unknown number of men.

    There are reports that fighting continues around Neskuchne at the center of this effort, However, there doesn’t seem to be any confirmed change in areas of control.

    To the east, Ukraine had reportedly liberated Novodonetske on Monday, but Russia reportedly pushed back into part of the town overnight. Ukrainian forces reportedly took an area to the west of that town, leaving an extended area in dispute.

    As with Monday, what’s interesting about these attacks is how big they are not. Despite Russian claims to have wiped out 1,500 men and 150 vehicles, it doesn’t seem that much gear has been invested in all these attacks combined. Also, despite Russian claims, there doesn’t seem to be evidence of a lot of new NATO gear being used in this area. Clearly, this is part of the counteroffensive, because everything Ukraine is doing at this point is part of their strategy for what comes next. But this is not at all the kind of large, combined arms action that many expect when thinking about all those new Western-trained and equipped Ukrainian brigades.


    The baffling thing with the move of Russian Volunteer Corps (known as RDK) and other anti-Putin Russian forces into the Belgorod area is just how slow Russia has been to respond. A week earlier, when the Russian opposition force moved through another border crossing 90 kilometers to the west, Russia made a huge show of sending in a high-ranking commander and elite airborne VDV forces to chase them out. But this time, the Ukrainian-aligned forces parked in Novaya Tavolzhanka seem to be considerably lower on Russia’s to-do list.

    RDK forces have repeatedly taken Russian soldiers prisoner, killed a Russian colonel at the head of a small force sent to meet them, and basically taunted Russian forces for six straight days. Circulating maps showing an expanding “Belgorod People’s Republic” are a joke … probably. But the fact that these guys have been able to sustain a small occupation force within Russia for nearly a week is hard to fathom.

    And now …[tweet and video at the link: "Tanks of Russia Free Legion entering Novaya Tavolzhanka settlement in Belgorod Oblast of Russia. Russian army seems to be unable to respond opposition's forces advance in the area."]

    As of Tuesday evening, RDK forces were claiming to control all of the border settlement of Novaya Tavolzhanka (pop. 5,300). That claim was backed up by statements on Russian Telegram channels.

    It’s enough to make it seem that the entire 400,000 Rosgvardia (“National Guard”) exists only to serve as Vladimir Putin’s personal army rather than for the defense of the nation.

  97. says

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sure has come a long way from 2014, when he angered fossil fuel lobbyists by saying that climate change deniers should be jailed. Or maybe not such a long way; by 2005 he was already spreading the anti-vax gospel and falsely claiming that childhood vaccines cause autism. And now he’s running for president and everyone is reminding you what a complete freakass whackaloon he is.

    We’ll do our part. Hey, remember that long-ago time in 2022 when he said, of COVID vaccine mandates, that at least in Nazi Germany “you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.”

    Kennedy did his part to help out that educational endeavor Monday night by sitting down with chief Twitter troll Elon Musk, who seems to love conspiratorial bullshit nearly as much as Kennedy does. He started out by thanking Musk for ending all the terrible “censorship” on the platform — by making it a free-for all for COVID and vaccine disinformation, not to mention for Nazis, far-Right conspiracy theories, and rampant hatred of transgender people, but also by actually censoring people on behalf of authoritarian governments. Kennedy also explained that in 2021, “the government pressured Mark Zuckerberg” to ban him from Instagram, although now his account has been restored because he’s running for president. Talk about ineffective censorship!

    Rolling Stone reports that for the first 40 minutes of the Twitter Spaces chat, Kennedy barely talked about his candidacy, because he and Musk were too busy telling each other how much they admired each other for being courageous and shit, which is honestly what free speech is for. [Yuck. Two narcissistic peas in a pod.]

    At one point, Kennedy asked where Musk got the courage to be like one of America’s Founders by being “willing to take this huge, massive, unspeakable economic hit on behalf of a principle for a country in which you weren’t even born?” Musk, who does kind of have US citizenship after all, replied, “I should say I do very much consider myself an American.” Musk also acknowledged that advertisers had deserted the platform because he was so very committed to democracy, at least for people who think he’s cool, so it’s been “frankly a struggle to break even” (he is not breaking even) and then everyone with an $8 blue checkmark felt very warm that they had done their part to save America and/or Twitter.

    After they both agreed that free speech is the very best, and that they both really love free speech the most, Kennedy bemoaned the sad fact that “we’re no longer living in a democratic system,” because Big Pharma controls the government and silences brave advocates of medical disinformation, which would explain why we only hear from anti-vaxxers everywhere on social media but not yet in (most) doctors’ offices.

    Among other great trolls, Musk and Kennedy were joined by Tulsi Gabbard and Michael Shellenberger, author of books about how environmentalism is bad for everyone and global warming is happening but is honestly no big deal, yeesh, calm down. […]

    Kennedy and Musk agreed that America shouldn’t be supporting the Ukrainian government, since as Kennedy put it, the Ukrainian people are “almost equally” victimized by America as by Russians. Musk added that the war was kind of our fault anyway, since “We are sending the flower of Ukrainian youth and Russian youth to die in the trenches, and it’s morally reprehensible,” and when you think about it, we probably shouldn’t be ordering Russia’s youth flowers around like that, how would we like it huh?

    The conversation got even more sane when Gabbard added that

    the U.S. had turned Ukraine into a “slaughterhouse” and blamed the conflict on an “elitist cabal of war-mongers” who had seized control of the Democratic Party.

    Those war-mongers, Kennedy warned, hadn’t just taken control of the Democratic party: They were in control of the Deep State as well.

    He recalled being told by Donald Trump’s former CIA Director Mike Pompeo that the “top layer of that agency is made up almost entirely of people who do not believe in the American institutions of democracy,” which is pretty rich coming from a top guy in the Trump administration.

    Kennedy also said he opposed an assault weapons ban, because the Second Amendment is pretty awesome, and anyway, the problem isn’t guns, it’s antidepressant meds, which turn people into mass shooters, explaining that

    “prior to the introduction of Prozac, we had almost none of these events in our country. […] The one thing that we have, it’s different than anybody in the world, is the amount of psychiatric drugs our children are taking.” He then alleged that the National Institutes of Health won’t research the supposed link between these drugs and shootings “because they’re working with the pharmaceutical industry.”

    It’s pretty convincing until you remember that antidepressants are prescribed worldwide, but in countries where there aren’t more guns than people, there aren’t a bunch of school shootings. Also, maybe someone could have pointed out that only about a quarter of mass shooters use antidepressants, while 100 percent of them use firearms, albeit not usually with a doctor’s prescription.

    Along the way, Kennedy also insisted that COVID was a “bioweapon,” lied that after the passage of the Affordable Care Act the “Democrats were getting more money from pharma than Republicans” (it’s the other way around, according to STAT News, but then STAT News believes vaccines work), and promised to go to the US-Mexico border to “try to formulate policies that will seal the border permanently,” so he really sounds like the mainstream Democrat that everyone on the far Right has been looking for […]

    Wonkette link


  98. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Gene therapy produces long-term contraception in female domestic cats

    potentially [an] alternative to surgical spaying.
    viral gene therapy vector with a slightly altered version of the feline [anti-Müllerian hormone] gene. […] A single injection […] causes […] muscles to produce AMH, which is normally only produced in the ovaries, and raises […] AMH about 100 times higher […] Suppressing ovarian follicle development and ovulation […] no adverse effects
    “A non-surgical sterilant […] will transform animal welfare,” […] infrastructure needed to produce enough doses to sterilize millions […] does not yet exist.

  99. Reginald Selkirk says

    North American lobster industry confronts ‘ropeless’ traps after whale entanglements

    An emerging technology to fish for lobsters virtually ropeless to prevent whale entanglements is exciting conservationists, but getting a frigid reception from harvesters worried it will drive them out of business and upend their way of life.

    Injuries to endangered North Atlantic Right Whales ensnared in fishing gear have fueled a prominent campaign by environmental groups to pressure the industry to adopt on-demand equipment that only suspends ropes in the water briefly before traps are pulled from the water…

  100. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mom warns about ‘margarita burns’ after baby eats celery in the sun

    Reanna Bendzak thought giving her teething seven-month-old daughter a celery stalk would be a simple and safe way to offer her some relief as they enjoyed the sun earlier this spring.

    She never expected it would result in burns and blisters around her baby’s mouth, the result of compounds found in certain foods coming into contact with sunlight…

    She later discovered that her child had suffered from phytophotodermatitis, commonly referred to as “margarita burns.” This condition occurs when the skin comes into contact with the sap or juice of plants including carrots, celery and limes and is then exposed to sunlight…

  101. Oggie: Mathom says

    Back from Maine. Wife and I, my daughter, my son and his wife and the twins, all went up to Maine on Sunday, went to the Memorial Service/Celebration of Life at the UU church, and drove home yesterday.

    The service was beautiful. No mention of God/gods. Or Jesus. Instead, a celebration of Mom’s almost 84 years — as an artist, mother, wife, grandmother, great grandmother, teacher, (the list of what she did during her life is extensive). Dad spoke about their childhood, and how they met, and how two children of severely dysfunctional families were able to fill in each other’s missing bits so both of them could become whole.

    All were asked to wear bright colours, and they did. Many spoke during the service. We laughed and cried. And it really helped the grieving process.

    Damnit, why can’t this be what churches are all about, rather than the othering and demands of conformity?

  102. StevoR says

    The world’s largest sand island off the coast of Queensland, formerly known as Fraser Island, has officially been renamed K’gari.The landmark decision by the state government to rename the island is being likened to the historic name change at Uluru.

    Pronounced “Gurrie”, K’gari means “paradise” in native Butchulla language.

    K’gari will now appear on official maps and road signs.

    Traditional owners say the name change symbolises something greater than labels.

    “It’s been an eight-year battle to actually get [here] … the fight was a journey of strength and courage,” Butchulla elder Chris Royan said.

    “As traditional owners, we have always called it K’gari – so for us to officially get the rest of Queensland and Australia to call it K’gari, is really important.”

    Source :


  103. Oggie: Mathom says

    While driving home yesterday, I hit smoke in Massachusetts. By the time we got to Pennsylvania, we had 1 or 2 kilometer visibility and the filtered sunlight had that beautiful orange glow. All from the fires in Quebec. Feels really weird to me. This is what days were often like when I worked wildland fires. Even smells like overtime out there. And in here.

    Here is a good map which shows both smoke and active large incidents.

  104. Oggie: Mathom says

    Russians have destroyed a Leopard. Well, maybe not.

    Russians have released a video in which they claim a Russian Ka-52 helicopter strikes on “Leopard 2 tanks.” Only for some reason this “Leopard” looks more like a tractor. For example, John Deere 4830.

  105. says

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

    Ukraine has not yet launched a planned counteroffensive to win back territory occupied by Russia, and its start will be obvious to everyone when it happens, a senior security official said on Wednesday.

    Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, dismissed statements by Russian officials who have said the counteroffensive has already begun.

    “All of this is not true. When all this will begin, it will be decided by our military,” Danilov told Reuters in an interview. “When we start the counteroffensive, everyone will know about it, they will see it.”

    Danilov said Russian officials had mistaken local Ukrainian advances in some frontline areas for the start of the larger operation.

    The occupied town of Oleshky appears to be the worst affected area on the left bank of the Dnipro river, with severe flooding and residents stranded on the roofs of their cottages.

    According to locals, the Russian authorities have set up checkpoints. They refuse to let volunteers enter the town to help with evacuation. Local Telegram channels are full of desperate messages from relatives, asking for their loved ones to be rescued.

    One message read:

    SOS!!! Can anyone with a boat help? Cottagers Anna .. and her husband have been sitting on their roof since morning, praying for rescue. They’ve raised a white flag. It’s the first house on the right. Help!!!

    Another said:

    Help! How can people in Oleshky be saved? Everyone in the Red Army district is sitting on the roof, waiting for assistance. Animals are sinking, drowning.

    Sergei, a local volunteer in the occupied city of Nova Kakhovka, described the situation in Oleshky as “bad”. “There is almost no contact with the people there. No one is allowed into the town and those who make it out on boats are placed into buses and driven away,” he said.

    “We tried reaching Oleshky but checkpoints have been set up all around the town. A lot of people are waiting to be evacuated. We have heard stories of people drowning, but we can’t confirm because there is no access. Those with Ukrainian passports who are being evacuated further to Russia are forced to go through filtration centres.”

    Helping to Leave, a new organisation that provides aid and services to Ukrainians fleeing the war, described the situation in Oleshky as “chaotic”. “They are not allowing volunteers on boats to enter. Some evacuation is being carried out by [Russian] emergency services but it’s very selective and it is not enough.”

    Ukraine’s military has released footage showing drones delivering water to Oleshky residents trapped in their homes.

    According to authorities, more than 42,000 people have been affected by catastrophic flooding caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.

    Re the video @ #90 above:

    If Vladimir Saldo was trying to project a sense of calm among the deluged frontline towns and villages of Russian-occupied Kherson region, he was failing miserably.

    The Kremlin-installed “governor”, dressed in camouflage and helmet and sitting in front of the flooded remains of the town centre of Nova Kakhovka, claimed that the city was “alive”.

    “People are calmly walking around the streets,” said Saldo, as the flood waters rose up the walls of the city hall behind him. “I’ve just driven around the streets, people are working, the gas stations are open, some stores are open.”

    The reality of the catastrophe was playing out around him: people stranded on the roofs of their houses and flats, begging for those with boats to come and save them.

    Dozens missing and whole towns downriver washed away. And reports that Russian troops were blocking access to the frontline towns on the left bank of the Dnipro river by installing new checkpoints even as the flood waters continued to rise.

    “Everyone is left to fend for themselves, there is no organised evacuation,” said Gleb, a resident of Nova Kakhova who was looking for ways to leave the city.

  106. says

    Michael Kofman on Twitter:

    A few thoughts on the dam’s destruction and its implications for Ukraine’s offensive. In brief, I doubt it will have a significant impact on UA mil operations. The Khakovka dam is at least 100 miles from where much of the activity might take place at its closest point.

    A Ukrainian cross-river operation in southern Kherson, below the dam, was always a risky and therefore low-probability prospect. There is no evidence that such an operation was under way, or would have necessarily been a part of the UA offensive plans.

    Destroying the dam does not substantially shorten Russian lines, or make defense much easier, although it does make a UA cross-river operation exceedingly difficult in that area. But, the flood will likely also destroy the initial line of Russian entrenchments along the river.

    If the Ukrainian plan is to break through RF lines in Zaporizhia and advance to the ground lines of communication from Crimea, or sever the ‘land bridge’ (and I won’t speculate as to what it might be), the resultant flooding is unlikely to impede such an operation.

    This is an ecological and humanitarian catastrophe, with long term economic implications for the region, for which Russia is responsible, but I’m skeptical that Ukraine’s military prospects in the short term will be negatively affected in a meaningful way.

  107. says

    Ukraine rushes drinking water to flooded areas as officials wrestle with impact of major dam breach

    Authorities on Wednesday rushed supplies of drinking water to flooded areas from a collapsed dam in southern Ukraine as officials weighed where they might have to resettle thousands of residents who relied on the breached reservoir that forms part of the front line in the 15-month war.

    About 3,000 people have been evacuated from flooded areas on both the Russian and Ukrainian-controlled sides of the river, officials said, but it was not clear whether the true scale of the disaster had yet emerged in an affected area that was home to more than 60,000 people. Russian-appointed authorities in the occupied parts of the Kherson region reported 15,000 homes were flooded.

    Some residents of Russian-occupied areas hit by high water complained that help was slow in arriving.

    The Kakhovka hydroelectric dam and reservoir, essential for drinking water and irrigation for a huge area of southern Ukraine, lies in a part of the Kherson region occupied by Moscow’s forces for the past year. It is also critical for water supplies to the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

    Ukraine holds the western bank of the Dnieper, while Russia controls the eastern side, which is lower and more vulnerable to flooding.

    Scenes of flooded communities and rescues by boat and from rooftops called to mind a natural disaster, rather than those usually seen in war.

    The flooding could wash away this season’s crops, while the depleted Kakhovka reservoir would deny adequate irrigation in the years ahead.

    […] Many residents had long ago fled the region due to the fighting, but others stayed despite shelling and drone attacks, making it hard to determine how many people remain at risk in an area where hundreds of thousands lived before Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

    Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he met with officials on the “urgent provision of drinking water and long-term solutions for settlements that were dependent on the reservoir,” as well as assessing damage to property and the environment in the region.

    Zelenskyy accused Moscow-installed officials in occupied areas of failing to respond adequately to the emergency.

    Russian-installed authorities said they evacuated fewer than 1,300 people in an area where at least 22,000 people were said to have been affected. That compared with about 1,700 evacuated on the Ukrainian side where the population was reportedly around 42,000.

    In the Moscow-controlled city of Oleshky, Lera told The Associated Press that the first floor of her home is flooded, confining her and her family to the second floor.

    “Everything around us is floating, people are standing on rooftops and asking for help, but no one is evacuating them,” said the 19-year-old, who declined to give her last name out of fear of reprisals.

    Most Russian troops fled from Oleshky shortly after the dam incident, Lera said, although a military checkpoint remains, and boats with people trying to leave have come under fire from soldiers. Her claim could not be independently verified.

    She said other residents are running out of food, with her own home without power or water.

    Civilians in Kherson clutched personal belongings as they waded through knee-deep water in the streets and rode rubber rafts. Video on social media showed rescuers carrying people to safety, and what looked like the triangular roof of a building floating downstream.

    Aerial footage showed flooded streets in the Russian-controlled city of Nova Kakhovska on the eastern side of the Dnieper, where Mayor Vladimir Leontyev said seven people were missing, although believed to be alive.

    Animals also were caught in the flood, with some pets trapped. Officials at the Kazkova Dibrova Zoo in Novaya Kakhovka said it was under water and that “only swans and ducks could escape.”

    Zelenskyy said Ukraine will appeal to international organizations for help.

    In his first public comments on the disaster, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated Moscow’s line that Ukraine is to blame for destroying the Kakhovka dam.

    In a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin alleged that Kyiv authorities had escalated “war crimes, openly using terrorist methods and staging acts of sabotage on the Russian territory,” the Kremlin said in its account of the call.

    It was unclear how the dam disaster would affect the war just as Ukraine appeared to be preparing for a counteroffensive against Russian troops. Amid the disaster response, artillery boomed as people scrambled to leave the danger zone.

    Addressing who might be to blame, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said Russia has “a greater and clearer interest in flooding the lower Dnieper despite the damage to their own prepared defensive positions.”

    Amid speculation that Ukraine might have begun its long-anticipated counteroffensive, the ISW said Russian forces may think breaching the dam could cover a possible retreat and delay Ukraine’s campaign.

    Experts noted that the 1950s-era dam, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) to the east of the city of Kherson, was believed to be in disrepair and vulnerable to collapse as water was already brimming over when the wall gave way. It hadn’t been producing power since November, according to officials.

    Britain’s Ministry of Defense said the Kakhovka reservoir was at record high levels before the breach. While the dam wasn’t entirely washed away, the ministry warned that its structure “is likely to deteriorate further over the next few days, causing additional flooding.”

    […] Authorities, meanwhiule, are holding water in upstream reservoirs to compensate in part for the loss of the dam, he said.

    Wheat and corn prices spiked Tuesday as the dam collapse raised fears about the fragility of Ukraine’s ability to ship its crucial grain supplies to developing nations where people are struggling with hunger and high food prices. Prices stabilized Wednesday after markets had reacted to signals of an escalation in the war that could upend a shaky agreement allowing Ukraine to export wheat, corn, sunflower oil and other food to the world through the Black Sea

    Both sides warned of environmental disaster from polluted waters, partly caused by oil leaking from the dam’s machinery.

    Ukrainian and Russian officials, as well as the U.N., have said it will take days to assess the damage, warning of a long recovery period.

  108. birgerjohansson says

    Fire By Night: A failed Christian attempt to copy SNL aka a mediocre humor show copied by the humorless.
    This episode is about scaaaary music.
    God Awful Movies.
    GAM407 Fire by nite episode 7

  109. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Tired of equating the FBI with the “Gestapo,” Donald Trump is breaking new ground, lashing out at “fascists” in federal law enforcement.

    Federal law enforcement has had plenty of critics over the years, but Donald Trump’s vigorous and enthusiastic public smear campaign has no modern parallels.

    In recent months, the former president has equated the FBI with “the Gestapo.” He’s told the public that the bureau is led by “Marxist Thugs.” He’s condemned the FBI as “corrupt” and “crooked.” He’s described FBI officials as “mobsters” and a “real threat to democracy.” He’s slammed the FBI as the “Fake Bureau of Investigation,” before accusing the bureau of secretly paying people to “steal” the 2020 election from him, as part of the FBI’s plot to “rig” the election and “illegally change” the results. [JFC]

    As recently as two months ago, Trump even endorsed congressional Republicans defunding federal law enforcement.

    Yesterday, however, the Republican broke new rhetorical ground: By way of his social media platform, Trump condemned “fascists” in federal law enforcement:

    “The Marxists and Fascists in the DOJ & FBI are going after me at a level and speed never seen before in our Country, and I did nothing wrong. Joe Biden kept (keeps) thousand of documents, in many locations, some illegally taken from skiffs while he was a Senator, a big portion of which were classified. He didn’t want to give them back, and still doesn’t.” [trumpian bullshit]

    About 10 minutes later, the former president repeated the line, insisting that Democrats “are using the DOJ & FBI against me to Rigg the 2024 Election. … Nothing about these Fascists is fair or honest.”

    Right off the bat, I’d be remiss if I neglected to highlight some of his more amusing typos. Trump not only misspelled “rig” — a relatively easy word to spell — he also accused Biden of taking documents “from skiffs.” [LOL]

    A skiff, of course, is a small, flat-bottomed rowboat. A “SCIF,” on the other hand, is a sensitive compartmented information facility, where officials routinely receive classified information and review sensitive documents. [LOL]

    I should also take a moment to note that Trump’s specific allegations against Biden appear to have been made up out of whole cloth. [Yep]

    But of particular interest was seeing the former president twice argue that there are “fascists” in the FBI and the Justice Department.

    I’m reminded of a story from 2009.

    In the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency, his opponents on the right found that incessant references to “socialism” weren’t making much of an impact. As regular readers might recall, GOP operatives started using “fascism” instead.

    There was nothing about the Democratic White House’s agenda that resembled fascism in any way, but Republicans thought it sounded harsh and negative, so they gave it a try.

    Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party who tried to become national party chairman, told The New York Times in April 2009, “We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.”

    Whether it made sense or not was irrelevant. What mattered was that talk of “socialism” had become tiresome, leading lazy voices on the right to look for the next rung on the rhetorical ladder.

    Fourteen years later, does Trump genuinely believe that federal law enforcement has been infiltrated by fascists? Probably not. Does the former president even know what fascism is? Again, probably not.

    But he’s apparently run out of insults, and he’s loath to repeat himself, fearing that the same old lines grow stale with repetition. And so, here we are, watching Trump raise the specter of “fascists” in the FBI — because “everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.”

  110. says

    NBC News:

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally, is calling on the Justice Department to provide lawmakers with internal documents laying out the scope of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents found last year at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.


    […] In a letter first reported by NBC News, Jordan told Garland that his committee wants “an unredacted copy of the memorandum outlining the scope of Mr. Smith’s probes regarding President Trump and any supporting documentation related to his appointment as special counsel.”

    The due date, evidently, is June 20.

    This comes roughly a week after Jordan wrote a different letter to Garland, complaining of an “institutional rot that pervades the FBI,” and seeking detailed information on the specific FBI personnel involved in the investigation into Trump’s classified documents scandal.

    So, a few things.

    First, I’m all for robust congressional oversight of the executive branch, but Jordan’s hysteria is plainly indefensible. There’s simply no way federal prosecutors — before a possible indictment is filed — will open its files in an ongoing investigation to a criminal suspect’s sycophantic ally. The very idea is absurd to the point of comedy.

    Second, if recent history is any guide, the Judiciary Committee chairman will respond to inevitable Justice Department resistance as evidence of law enforcement having “something to hide.” That will be ridiculous, but he’s made similar comments before.

    And finally, no one should be surprised if Jordan, desperate to use his gavel to assist Trump, takes these antics in some radical directions. Will he issue subpoenas? Should we expect contempt proceedings? Will impeachment talk soon follow?

    The possibilities might seem outlandish, but so too are the antics Jordan is already engaged in.


  111. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #138…
    A closer (at least in name) analogue to Gestapo (short for Geheime Staatspolizei) would be the Dept. of Homeland Security.

  112. says

    WH Sounds Alarm After McCarthy Tries To Buy Off Far-Right With Soc Security-Slashing Commission

    The White House put out a memo Tuesday evening warning that Republicans are once again coming after Social Security and Medicare, despite members loud pledges not to during President Biden’s State Of The Union speech this year.

    In a memo to the media, White House deputy press secretary and senior communications adviser Andrew Bates responded to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) announcement last week that after the debt ceiling bill cleared the House, he’d set up a “commission” to further examine the deficit and other potential cuts his party might push. He specifically cited Medicare and Social Security as programs to be examined.

    […] In the memo, Bates goes on to sound the alarm, pointing to recent reporting from the Wall Street Journal that confirmed that McCarthy does, in fact, intend to “organize a bipartisan commission to look at the entirety of government spending, including mandatory spending programs like Medicaid and Social Security.”

    More from Bates:

    These new statements from the Speaker demonstrate that the House GOP are reversing the promise they made to President Biden and the country in the State of the Union, and that to shield billionaires and multinational corporations from paying a cent more in taxes, they very much intend to slash Americans’ Medicare and Social Security benefits.

    The American people – including majorities of conservatives – reject that approach, and support President Biden’s work to stand up for the benefits they pay their entire lives to earn.

    While Bates seized on the State Of The Union episode — when President Biden was able to back Republicans into a corner and commit to opposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare, all on live television — McCarthy’s about-face last week is reflective of Republicans’ years-long split personality on the issue, supporting the popular programs publicly only to later advocate for gutting them under the guise of “reform.”

    […] far-right members have at least thus far backed off of threatening to put forward a motion-to-vacate, they’re finding other ways to punish McCarthy for not holding the national economy hostage for long enough.

    On Tuesday evening, 11 right-wing members mucked up McCarthy’s lib-owning gambit when they joined Democrats and successfully blocked two Republican leadership-lauded bills that would protect gas stoves from the Biden deep state.


  113. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Videos published online showed large numbers of dead fish in the Kakhovka reservoir after the destruction of a dam in southern Ukraine.

    Videos showed dead fish lining the banks of the reservoir, one of the largest in Europe.

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday he was “shocked” at what he said was the failure of the United Nations and the Red Cross to provide help after the destruction of the massive Kakhovka dam.

    Although the catastrophe happened many hours ago, “they aren’t here”, Zelenskiy told German newspapers Bild and Die Welt and also Politico. “We have had no response. I am shocked”.

    He also said Russian soldiers were shooting from a distance while rescue attempts were in progress. “As soon as our helpers try to save them, they are shot at,” he was quoted as saying.

  114. says

    The Guardian has a liveblog about the fires in Canada and smoke in the US:

    Over 200 “out of control” fires are currently burning across Canada as experts warn that air quality will continue to deteriorate….

    My colleague Adam Gabbatt has the full report on how smoke from Canada’s wildfires is having an impact on air quality in the US.

    He writes:

    Tens of millions of people in the US were under air quality alerts on Wednesday, as smoke from Canadian wildfires drifted south, turning the sky in some of the country’s biggest cities a murky brown and saturating the air with harmful pollution.

    States across the east, including New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, issued air quality alerts, with officials recommending that people limit outdoor activity.

    In New York City, where conditions were expected to deteriorate further through the day, residents were urged to limit their time outdoors, as public schools canceled outdoor activities.

    Smoke from wildfires in Canada has been moving south into the US since May. Hundreds of fires are burning in Canada, from the western provinces to Nova Scotia and Quebec in the east, where there are more than 150 active fires in a particularly fierce start to the summer season.

    It’s quite strange – hazy and pinkish and the winds feel unusual. Everything’s slightly…off.

  115. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    With New York City being ranked briefly this morning as the city with the world’s worst air pollution, mayor Eric Adams warned that climate change has accelerated the conditions surrounding the smokey haze that has shrouded the city.

    “While this may be the first time we’ve experienced something like this on this magnitude…it is not the last. Climate change accelerated these conditions.”

    Adams went on to urge for more action towards addressing climate change issues…

    Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and echoed similar sentiments towards climate change on Wednesday, tweeting:

    “Right now, 98 MILLION people on the East Coast are under air quality alerts from Canadian fires and, last night, NYC had the worst air quality in the world. Climate change makes wildfires more frequent and widespread. If we do nothing, this is our new reality. It’s time to act.”

    Meanwhile, during a press briefing this afternoon, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that “climate change [is] a top priority” as tens of millions of Americans remain under air quality alerts.

  116. says

    SC @143, I heard there was also a ground stop at New York City airports — that’s how bad the smoke is.

    Friends of mine in NYC are wearing the masks they stockpiled during the COVID epidemic. At least those masks provide some protection.

  117. says

    Josh Marshall:

    I was just reading this article in Roll Call and it contained this passage. It’s not at all surprising but still worth stepping back and absorbing for its sheer magnitude.

    In letters, statements and media comments over the past days and weeks, Republicans in both chambers previewed their criticism of a possible indictment that some legal experts say could come as soon as this week from grand jury probes supervised by Special Counsel John L. “Jack” Smith.

    Congressional Republicans have cast Attorney General Merrick B. Garland as biased, threatened to strip funding from the FBI, questioned the role of the FBI in that special counsel probe and moved to impeach FBI Director Christopher Wray.

    As I said, not surprising. This is after all the world of Trump we’ve been living in for years. But as I said, it’s worth stepping back, shaking off that impact of repetition, and seeing how totalizing it is. Just a few short years after Trump came on the political scene basically the entire GOP is ready to uproot the whole federal law enforcement system, even impeaching Trump’s own FBI director, to discredit any and all of what they expect will be the variety of charges he’ll face. [fealty to Hair Furor, the leader of the cult.]

    Needless to say this is just the federal charges — not the more mundane but still consequential indictments in New York City or the extremely serious ones that are expected in Atlanta. It’s stunning and worth remembering that it’s stunning, despite the fact that in some ways it now almost feels normal.

  118. says

    Related to comment 147.

    Reading the tea leaves on Jack Smith’s next move

    Special counsel Jack Smith was appointed on Nov. 18, 2022. Within the next two weeks, Smith had assembled a team of nearly two dozen federal prosecutors. Before the end of the month, Smith had empaneled two federal grand juries—one to hear testimony concerning Donald Trump’s actions in connection to the 2020 election, the second for the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents. Before November was out, dozens of subpoenas for testimony before those grand juries had already been delivered.

    More than two years after Trump left office, it’s easy to be upset about the speed with which federal authorities have moved to hold him responsible for his numerous and apparently obvious crimes. It’s much harder to be upset with Smith, who in seven months has conducted what appears to be a wide-ranging investigation into everything from Trump’s schemes to replace the attorney general with someone more coup-friendly, to claims that security video at Mar-a-Lago was lost because someone drained the swimming pool.

    One of Smith’s two grand juries, the one hearing the classified documents case, went into a reported hiatus earlier this month after hearing testimony from dozens, if not hundreds, of witnesses, ranging from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to 20 members of Trump’s Secret Service security detail. [20 members of the Secret Service!] Many observers regarded this as a sign that Smith was preparing to either issue indictments or make a statement that the investigation had not led to findings that could be charged. And considering the wealth of public evidence about how Trump hid documents, stonewalled investigators, and bragged about showing off classified information, the odds of indictment seemed very high.

    But now something has happened that no one was predicting: Smith has created grand jury number three.

    On Saturday, NBC News first reported that a new grand jury had been empaneled in Florida. While that report made the action seem like a continuation of the testimony before the Washington, D.C., jury hearing evidence on the classified document case, it raised the central concern about this new development.

    It’s unclear how the testimony expected in Florida will affect the grand jury that has been investigating in Washington or whether prosecutors are prepared to seek an indictment in either jurisdiction.

    It now appears this grand jury has been hearing testimony for at least a month. However, it has heard from many fewer witnesses, and apparently none of the high-profile names that attended the court in Washington.

    Looking at the possibilities raised by Smith’s creation of this third jury, The New York Times projects three possible meanings:

    – The Florida jury is hearing additional evidence from local witnesses rather than requiring those witnesses to fly to Washington, D.C. The Times appears to consider this a low-probability option, but it might make sense if there were something Smith needed from workers at Mar-a-Lago or at some other location in the state.

    – Trump, along with possibly some high-ranking members of his staff, might be indicted in Washington, D.C., while others—such as staff members involved in moving classified documents from a storage room where they had been kept in an arrangement with the FBI—might be indicted in Florida.

    – Smith has decided to move his entire case to Florida after determining that there was some undetermined issue with the Washington, D.C. venue, a move that might argue against an indictment of Trump since it appears to dump months of testimony from Meadows, those Secret Service agents, and hundreds of others who are unlikely to be called again before the Florida jury.

    […] While every article is quick to remind readers that Smith and his prosecutors have far more information than what has leaked to the public, it’s genuinely difficult to see how Trump could not be charged at this point. The two instructions given to Smith by Attorney General Merrick Garland were that he look at whether Trump wrongfully retained classified documents after he left the White House, and whether he obstructed lawful efforts to retrieve those documents.

    The answer to both these questions is a resounding “yes.” Even from the relatively small amount of information available to the public, it’s clear that Trump took documents he knew to be highly classified, that he lied to both the National Archives and FBI about holding these documents, that he bragged about showing classified documents to others, that he violated agreements to hand over documents, and that he made repeated false claims about having declassified documents. It seems impossible that Smith’s team would have any additional knowledge that somehow makes all this less than indictable.

    Some clue about what’s going on may be gleaned from looking at who is appearing before the Florida jury. CNN reports that one of those called to testify is former Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich.

    In addition to having previously held a position as Trump’s communications director, Budowich is the founder and operator of a political action committee called “MAGA Inc.” That PAC, formed just weeks before the 2020 election, stepped in at the last minute to reportedly “supersede Trump’s existing super PAC.” In those fading weeks of the campaign, MAGA Inc. was the recipient of some rather odd transfers of funds. That includes getting $32 million from other Trump PACs just before the election. It reported spending $12 million in the run up to the election, with most of that aimed at promoting Senate candidates supported by Trump.

    Currently, it seems that the Florida jury may have heard from no more than two other witnesses, and the appearance of Budowich brings in another possibility that doesn’t seem to be among the options so far mentioned. The Florida grand jury might not be about the classified documents at all, but about something that surfaced during Trump’s other two investigations. [Yep. Maybe so. The rot is deep. The layers of corruption are thick.]

    The Florida jury might be hearing testimony on how Trump scammed his supporters, both by false claims about the election, and by false claims about the investigations. That would mean that Smith convened a third grand jury to hear testimony in what is essentially a third case, one that has connections to his other two investigations, but one that also has a different set of potential witnesses, charges, and defendants.

    Back in April, The Washington Post reported Smith had issued a series of subpoenas “focused on money raised during the period between Nov. 3, 2020, and the end of Trump’s time in office on Jan. 20, 2021.” They called this the “fundraising prong” of Smith’s investigation and speculated on charges of felony fraud. However, if this investigation bore fruit, it makes absolute sense that Smith would want to separate that investigation from those into the classified documents and attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

    The best explanation for Smith’s third jury may be that it’s a third case. It’s not a substitute for either of the Washington juries. Just the fact that Budowich was called shows this is something altogether different from the charges Smith was looking into in those two investigations.

    Note that this idea doesn’t mesh with that of some very smart and legally savvy people like Marcy Wheeler, who connects the Florida jury and the classified documents case through Budowich being Trump’s spokesperson at the time he issued some pretty obvious lies about his actions in that case. Betting against Marcy is never a great idea on any kind of legal issue.

    But unless Smith has decided that there is some sort of venue issue that requires the document case to be heard in Florida, it’s hard to see how this works. And if that’s the case, and what we’re going to get now is a redo of the testimony heard over the last seven months, it’s hard to see starting with Budowich.

    If Smith would only get on with indicting Trump, maybe we can learn something. He can start with case number one, or case number two, or case number three. But he needs to get out the cuffs. Soon.

  119. says

    The wildfire season has started, perhaps the worst time of the year for those of us who enjoy fresh air and breathing. More than 400 fires have raged across Canada in the past month — half of them burning out of control, forcing the evacuation of more than 29,000 people from communities across Alberta. Officials described this as an “unprecedented situation” for the region.

    The impact has been significant and extends well beyond our northern neighbor. Poor air quality has been reported in states as far away as Missouri, Minnesota, and New York. As the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the bigger the fire, the more smoke it produces. This spring’s Canadian wildfires were especially big and hot, causing the smoke to travel farther up into the atmosphere. The higher the smoke rises, the farther it spreads. In this case, the winds in the atmosphere’s upper levels are spreading the smoke thousands of miles away.

    There were also extensive forest fires last week in Quebec and Ontario. As a result, the air quality in Toronto has become so polluted that officials warn residents against strenuous outdoor activities, unless they enjoy hacking up a lung. Smoke density is expected to only worsen by Thursday morning.

    Outbreaks as widespread as this in May and June are “virtually unheard of,”until now. This was sunrise over New York City Tuesday: [tweets and videos at the link]

    Wonkette: “Climate Change-Fueled Wildfires Draping Nation In Cloud Of Death”

  120. says

    Tucker’s Russian Propaganda Public Access Show ‘Live From A Strange Man’s Shed’ Not So Good, Y’all :(

    Well, now we know what it looks like when Tucker Carlson doesn’t have a budget or a name for his show or writers or talent or a bath or a purpose. It was “Tucker on Twitter,” which suddenly happened last night seemingly because Tucker hadn’t given Vladimir Putin a rimjob in a minute and we guess he was missing it.

    Welcome to SNOOOOOOOOOOZE TUCKER WITHOUT MAKEUP, a 10-minute Twitter show that came out of nowhere at 6 p.m. last night without warning or fanfare, because we guess he just needed to say some Russian propaganda about how Ukraine probably blew up the Nova Kakhova dam. [JFC]

    [video at the link]

    “Hey, it’s Tucker Carlson!” he shouted at the beginning, like a person doing an impression of “glad to be alive.”

    RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA RUSSIA PROPAGANDA! Vladimir Putin would never blow up dam! Vladimir Putin love dam! Dam make water for Crimea! Vladimir Putin love Crimea!

    That’s the first minute.

    He continued to babble about how wonderful Putin was, and how evil it was of the American media to accuse Putin of attacking himself. He was so mad nobody would blame Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Why does everybody love Zelenskyy!

    “Sweaty and rat-like, a comedian–turned-oligarch, a persecutor of Christians, a friend of Blackrock.” Yes, that is how Tucker talked about the Jewish Zelenskyy. (Another one of his old hits from back in earlier times of prosperity and employment.) “Our shifty, dead-eyed Ukrainian friend in the tracksuit.” So Tucker still has an exposed nerve about the guy […] “He’s literally a living saint, a man in whom there is no sin! That’s why Lindsey Graham is so attracted to him!”

    OK, Tucker. LOL.

    Remember how the Russians were mad because of that edited clip where Lindsey Graham said “the Russians are dying”? Tucker is mad about that too.

    Tucker is mad at Nikki Haley for supporting Ukraine. Tucker says Nikki Haley’s types of arguments are “tautologies” and “hilariously stupid” and “only dumb people talk like that.”

    Tucker is mad because “your average yak herder in Tajikistan knows who blew up the Nord Stream pipeline,” but Americans don’t. (Yeah he was probably right about the pipeline actually, we guess it had to happen at least once.) “Does he think some skinny dude in a dress is actually a girl?” (Still talking about the yak herder.) “That idea would never OCCUR to him.” To recap: Americans are dumber than yak herders because they don’t know who blew up pipeline and also believe that trans people exist. Matt Walsh should ask that yak herder: What is a woman?

    Tucker wants to know where our Ukraine aid money has gone. (Ukraine.) Who organized the Black Lives Matter protests, which he called “riots,” because obviously? “What exactly happened on 9/11? Well it’s still classified!” Jeffrey Epstein! JFK! Aliens!

    So basically at this point he’s Alex Jones but without the showmanship or the bedside manner.

    Not sure how this is going to survive in a world where any old incel Nazi can make an iPhone TikTok […] from their mom’s basement on their phone and upload it for free.

    Guess Tucker will just have to find out. By himself. In his shed.

  121. says

    The EPA recommends using a “particulate respirator” tested and approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health when trying to protect yourself from wildfire smoke or ash. It should have the words “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it. It should also have two straps to go above and below your ears — otherwise it will not seal well enough to protect your lungs.

    A good fit is important, the agency says, which may not be possible with facial hair. Respirator masks are also not available in children’s sizes, according to the EPA.

    The agency adds that respirator masks may make it harder to breathe, and those with heart or lung problems should speak to their doctor.

    Replace your mask if it becomes more difficult to breathe through or is visibly dirty.

    Keep in mind, though, that N95s and similar respirators “only protect against particles,” according to the CDC. “They do not protect against chemicals, gases, or vapors, and are intended only for low hazard levels,” it notes. That’s why on poorer air-quality days, some experts say the best thing to do is stay inside. […]

    Washington Post link

  122. says

    Julian Borger at the Guardian liveblog:

    The people living along Ukraine’s lower Dnipro River must contend with the immediate consequences of the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam and flee for safety with whatever they can salvage, but the wider impact could make itself felt for generations.

    Downstream, the flood waters will subside somewhat as the surge reaches the Black Sea, but many of the villages and towns along the course of the Dnipro may not be habitable again unless and until a new dam is built. Thousands of homes and livelihoods have been swept away, along with countless domesticated and wild animals.

    The ecological trauma of such an inundation of water and silt has changed the landscape in an instant, wiping away islands and wetlands. It could take years if not decades for the fauna and flora to bounce back. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called it the “largest man-made environmental disaster in Europe in decades”. It is the country’s misfortune to have also been the site of the Chornobyl disaster in 1986, arguably the last calamity on such a scale.

    With a reservoir of 18bn cubic metres, Nova Kakhovka was one the dams with the largest capacity in the world, according to Mohammad Heidarzadeh, a senior lecturer in the architecture and civil engineering department at the UK’s University of Bath. It was 90 times bigger than the largest dam reservoir in Britain, the Kielder dam in Northumberland.

    Heidarzadeh said:

    It is obvious that the failure of this dam will definitely have extensive long-term ecological and environmental negative consequences not only for Ukraine but for neighbouring countries and regions.

    Along with all the debris carried along by the rushing waters are tens of thousands of mines. The flood waters are rolling through a frontline in the war. The banks of the Dnipro have been frontlines since at least November, when Ukrainian forces drove the Russians across the river to the southern bank. Both sides laid mines along the waterfront and they have now been washed away and will be distributed randomly in towns, villages and farmland downstream. A flood means civilians can be blown up many kilometres from a conflict zone, many years after the war.

  123. says

    SC @154, horrifying.

    In other news, here is Andy Borowitz’s satirical response to Mike Pence:

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Just days after announcing his candidacy for President, Mike Pence has picked up the coveted endorsement of the National Association of Ass-Kissers.

    The N.A.A., a trade organization representing more than a hundred thousand of the nation’s leading toadies, minions, and lickspittles, heaped praise on the former Vice-President, calling him an “awe-inspiring tower of unctuousness.”

    “During his four years as Vice-President, Mike Pence brought flattery and obsequiousness to new heights,” the N.A.A. statement read. “We bow down to his utter magnificence.”

    Accepting the endorsement, a jubilant Pence praised the organization of abject flunkies, calling the N.A.A. “without question the finest collection of humans this planet has ever known.”

    But the endorsement drew a sour response from Chris Christie, who had hoped to receive the ass-kissers’ nod. “I thought I sucked up to Donald Trump as much as anybody did,” Christie said. “Maybe I should have sucked harder.”

    New Yorker link

  124. says

    Andrew Feinberg on Twitter:

    NEW: Prosecutors are ready to ask for grand jurors to vote on a Trump indictment as early as tomorrow, on charges of obstruction of justice and Espionage Act violations.

    MORE: It is understood that Mr Trump’s last White House chief of staff, @MarkMeadows, has agreed to plead guilty to several lesser federal crimes in exchange for his testimony under a limited grant of immunity.

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