Comments

  1. says

    Appeals court upholds sanctions against former Trump lawyer

    Some Trump-allied lawyers were sanctioned after filing a misguided post-2020 case. The attorneys appealed, but they’re still having to pay a price.

    Sidney Powell’s efforts on behalf of Donald Trump didn’t fare well after the former president’s 2020 defeat, and a Reuters report suggests the attorney is still suffering related setbacks.

    A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the bulk of sanctions imposed against Sidney Powell and other lawyers who sued to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Michigan. The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the allegations of electoral fraud Powell and others had pushed were baseless, frivolous or even refuted by their own filings.

    […] in the wake of Trump’s loss, conspiracy-minded lawyers filed misguided lawsuits, hoping to help the former president. […] those cases failed spectacularly.

    What’s less appreciated is the fact that the demise of those cases was not the final word on the subject. In Michigan, for example, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration and the city of Detroit sought penalties against several attorneys — including prominent Trump allies Powell and L. Lin Wood — who filed an outlandish anti-election case. In 2021, a federal judge agreed and sanctioned the conspiratorial lawyers.

    U.S. District Judge Linda Parker concluded, “[D]espite the haze of confusion, commotion and chaos counsel intentionally attempted to create by filing this lawsuit, one thing is perfectly clear: Plaintiffs’ attorneys have scorned their oath, flouted the rules and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way. As such, the court is duty-bound to grant the motions for sanctions.”

    Not surprisingly, that ruling was appealed, but late last week, the 6th Circuit agreed that conspiratorial allegations were baseless, and while the sanctions were partially rolled back, they remained largely intact.

    If this outcome sounds at all familiar, it’s not your imagination. As we discussed two weeks ago, Michigan Republican Party Chair Kristina Karamo was recently sanctioned for filing a baseless anti-election lawsuit, and she has plenty of company: Arizona’s Mark Finchem, another failed right-wing secretary of state candidate, has been sanctioned twice for filing frivolous election-related cases. Also in Arizona, Kari Lake’s lawyers were ordered to pay sanctions for making “unequivocally false” election claims in court.

    Trump himself has also been sanctioned for filing frivolous litigation.

    Given the relevant details, this is encouraging. Courts should certainly exercise great caution before discouraging worthwhile litigation, but there’s also value in punishing those who clog the courts with cases that never should’ve been filed.

    Courtrooms are not supposed to be abused by those filing frivolous cases in pursuit of partisan theatrics. The judiciary is not a toy. There is a reasonable expectation that all litigation, even if ultimately unsuccessful, has at least some merit.

    When partisans file misguided cases in pursuit of scoring points, it’s hardly unreasonable to expect them to pay a price.

  2. says

    New York Times runs gossip item on Hunter Biden

    One of the common criticisms of political coverage in The New York Times is that it often reads like a gossip rag. The newspaper’s current star political reporter, Peter Baker, leans into that charge with yet another “some say but we’re not saying who” piece recycling Republican talking points about who else but Hunter Biden.

    “Hunter Biden Isn’t Hiding. Even Some Democrats Are Uncomfortable,” according to the headline. But the headline offers about as much evidence that “some Democrats are uncomfortable” as the entire article does. Baker’s basic premise here is that it is worthy of comment and even a possible topic of scandal that President Joe Biden has not shunned his son in the wake of Hunter’s deal to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges.

    Of course, if the president had shunned his oldest surviving child, that too would have been the subject of frowning analysis, the occasion to spread Republican rumors that maybe something worse was coming. […]

    As a Democrat, albeit not the kind who gets New York Times reporters to talk about my feelings, let me say that I don’t just bristle at Republicans who have shown little interest in the Trump family’s corruption, I personally bristle at seeing the same reporter who helped Jared Kushner distance himself from his father-in-law now laundering Republican attacks on the Bidens.

    Peter Baker would be an ongoing embarrassment to a New York Times that cared about serious political coverage rather than cloaking Republican attacks in gossipy “analysis.” And if the Times couldn’t get Democrats on the record to say they were uncomfortable about the president refusing to shun his son, the newspaper shouldn’t have run with a headline claiming that was the case.

  3. says

    Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp fought off Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams in 2022 in part on Medicaid expansion. The state is one of the remaining 10 holdouts refusing to adopt the expansion under the Affordable Care Act, leaving at least 400,000 people uninsured. Medicaid expansion was a key part of Abrams’ campaign, undercut by Kemp’s promise that he would continue pushing his plan for expansion called Georgia Pathways to Coverage. It helped get him reelected, but it won’t help the hundreds of thousands of uninsured people in Georgia. It’s not intended to. It’s a classic bait-and-switch, promising help and then yanking it away in the fine print—in this case, work requirements that will result in higher costs for Georgia taxpayers and fewer people with coverage. And it starts in a few days, at the beginning of July.

    It’s particularly cruel that the empty promise of Medicaid coverage for poor people in Georgia is coming as thousands are being dropped from the rolls with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic declaration. That declaration allowed for continuous enrollment; states weren’t allowed to disenroll people as long as the public health emergency lasted. Now between 245,000 to 454,000 non-elderly adults and children could be dropped, and Kemp’s Pathways to Coverage will only help a fraction of them.

    […] Belinda Sherley, 42, is the sole caregiver for her disabled husband. The two live on the ​​$914 per month from his disability payments, and SNAP food assistance. She has her own serious health issues, and has never had insurance as an adult. She knows about Kemp’s plan, “But I’m not going to be able to work,” she said. Even taking online classes isn’t possible because her rural home doesn’t have reliable internet coverage. “That’s what’s so frustrating,” she said. “I need help and can’t get the help I need.”

    She and thousands like her are shut out while the plan is promising to be a boondoggle, costing the state millions to implement and losing out on something like $1.3 billion over the next two years that could come from the federal government if the state simply expanded. The state itself estimates that only about 100,000 people will end up qualifying for coverage. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute estimates that covering those 100,000 will cost taxpayers $10 million more a year than covering the 482,000 uninsured people under simple Medicaid expansion.

    Georgia already has some of the strictest, cruelest Medicaid restrictions. A family of three has to earn less than $8,000 a year to qualify for traditional Medicaid. Childless adults aren’t eligible, period. The reality remains that the huge majority of people who would qualify for regular Medicaid are already working. They’re in low-paid jobs that may or may not provide them the required 80 hours per month, and certainly don’t provide health insurance.

    Atlanta physician Reed Pitre, who works in Atlanta at the charity clinic Mercy Care, explained just how cruel this new program is, and how hard it will be for people to meet the monthly requirement of wading through bureaucratic red tape. “People who are poor … we’re lucky if they have a smartphone. So the idea that they have to have an email address, have access to technology—these are presumptions,” he said. “These are routine parts of our lives now. But most of our [Mercy Care] people don’t even have a cell phone.”

    Cruelty is the point in Georgia’s new Medicaid program

  4. says

    Satire written by Andy Borowitz:

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (The Borowitz Report)—Americans are expressing astonishment and disbelief after the release of an audiotape that seems to prove that Donald J. Trump is capable of reading.

    On the tape, in which Trump is showing associates a series of classified documents, the former President appears to demonstrate reading comprehension at a rudimentary level, decoding letters as they combine to form words and sentences.

    This implausible performance dumbfounded many Americans, like Carol Foyler, who resides in Akron, Ohio. “This defies everything I thought I knew about Donald Trump,” she said. “If he can read, what else is he capable of?”

    But Harland Dorrinson, who lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, had a more cautious reaction. “Let’s not rush to judgment,” he said. “Any tape of Trump being able to read could be a hoax.”

  5. says

    Did Stephen Miller Want To Bomb Migrants? Did Trump Talk About [REDACTED] Ivanka? This Book Says Yep And UGH.

    https://www.wonkette.com/miles-taylor-stephen-miller-trump-ivanka

    Remember that Miles Taylor guy, who was “Anonymous” until he wasn’t anymore? He was chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, until he wasn’t anymore. And he wrote that very dramatic thingie about how he was part of the secret resistance inside the Trump administration, which on one hand sounded reassuring, but on the other hand felt really fucking weird. […] Then this “Miles Taylor” character debuted and started campaigning for Joe Biden in 2020 as a former member of the Trump administration, and it was like oh, this is maybe effective.

    […] NBC News’s Jacob Soboroff pointedly pointed out at the time that “Miles Taylor was a critical part of the team that decided to separate thousands of migrant kids from their parents, resulting in lifelong psychological trauma. He would like you to believe otherwise.” And if you remember watching news coverage of that monstrosity, you likely remember that Soboroff spent all his time reporting from the front lines of it, so he knows.

    Anyway, Miles Taylor wrote a book called Blowback and he claims some real gross shit in it. […]

    Surprise, surprise, Donald Trump’s prematurely bald sick fuck Nazi, the oldest 37-year-old man we have ever seen, wanted to use drone missiles to blow up boats full of innocent migrant people. At least that’s what the Miles Taylor book says.

    It would indeed be shocking to learn that the person who was the architect for the Trump administration’s Rip Babies From Their Parents’ Arms policy also wanted to blow up migrants in boats. He reportedly really liked watching the families being separated, why wouldn’t he be into this too?

    Rolling Stone reports that Stephen Miller denies it, so we’ll just take that into account while we read the story. The person Miller allegedly said it to, retired admiral Paul Zukunft, who was commandant of the Coast Guard at the time in question, also denies it. But RS says it has “reviewed written documentation from during the Trump administration that supports Taylor’s claim.” So that’s the tally of confirmations and denials.

    This was in 2018, a migrant boat was on its away to the United States, and Taylor says Miller was just thinking that since it was in international waters, why not just bomb it? Zukunft’s recollection is that he personally was advocating for going after the root causes of migrations that end up on the US border. And he’s very clear that he believes that “to use deadly force to thwart maritime migration would be preposterous and the antithesis of our nation’s vanguard for advancing human rights.”

    But nonetheless Taylor says this is what happened in the conversation:

    ‘Admiral, the military has aerial drones, correct?’ Stephen inquired.

    ‘Yes,’ Zukunft replied.

    ‘And some of those drones are equipped with missiles, correct?’

    ‘Sure,’ the commandant answered, clearly wondering where the line of questioning was going.

    ‘And when a boat full of migrants is in international waters, they aren’t protected by the U.S. Constitution, right?’

    ‘Technically, no, but I’m not sure what you’re getting at.’

    ‘Tell me why, then, can’t we use a Predator drone to obliterate that boat?’

    Admiral Zukunft looked nonplussed. ‘Because, Stephen, it would be against international law.’

    None of this sounds implausible. Stephen Miller is that much of a vile, evil piece of shit. And Zukunft doesn’t come across poorly, so if he was part of this conversation, he shouldn’t protect Stephen Miller.

    [The] United States launched airstrikes on terrorists in disputed areas all the time, Miller said, or retaliated against pirates commandeering ships off the coast of Somalia. The Coast Guard chief calmly explained the difference. America attacked enemy forces when they were armed and posed an imminent threat. Seafaring migrants were generally unarmed civilians. They quarreled for a few minutes. Stephen wasn’t interested in the moral conflict of drone-bombing migrants. He wanted to know whether anyone could stop America from doing it. […]

    ‘Admiral,’ [Miller] said to the military chief nearly thirty years his senior, ‘I don’t think you understand the limitations of international law.’

    As Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley note at Rolling Stone, if Donald Trump were to somehow snake his way back into the presidency, he would most definitely be staffing his second term with Miller and others like him.

    It’s important to talk about.
    ———————————————–
    Know How Donald Trump Has Always Been Weird About Ivanka’s Hotness? Well, Um … Allegedly!

    Miles Taylor says it’s worse than everything we already knew, and what we already knew was super gross.

    “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her,” he said in public. “Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?” he asked about her when she was 16 and hosting the Miss Teen USA pageant. “She’s got the best body,” he said to Howard Stern in 2003. Is it OK to call her a “piece of ass,” Howard Stern asked him in 2004? “Yeah.”

    And so forth.

    Miles Taylor says in his book that Trump talked about “what it might be like to have sex with her.”

    “Aides said he talked about Ivanka Trump’s breasts, her backside, and what it might be like to have sex with her, remarks that once led John Kelly to remind the president that Ivanka was his daughter,” Taylor writes.

    “Afterward, Kelly retold that story to me in visible disgust. Trump, he said, was ‘a very, very evil man.'”

    Newsweek says it’s reached out to Kelly for comment. We guess he just hasn’t had time to breathlessly deny it.

    Taylor dishes about lots of sexism he says he witnessed by Trump toward women, including former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was Taylor’s boss. He also says Kellyanne Conway once called Trump a “misogynistic bully.” (She says that’s a darn lie.)

    In related news, Trump has just countersued E. Jean Carroll for allegedly “defaming” him by saying he raped her, even after a jury only found him liable for sexually abusing her, and after she had to file another defamation lawsuit against him for things he said about her in his CNN town hall just after that verdict came out.

    If Miles Taylor is a great big liar, at least his great big lies are on point. […]

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    @500, @3 Hunter Biden isn’t hiding

    Do you know who else isn’t hiding? I’ll give you a hint. His orange prison jumpsuit is going to be redundant.

  7. says

    While Donald Trump and the Republicans who want to run against him keep competing to see who can be meanest to people Republicans hate, Joe Biden is rolling out campaign themes that emphasize how quickly the US has recovered from the economic morass that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic [and from Trump’s bad decisions.]. The White House yesterday released a statement touting the economic record of the Biden-Harris administration, with a title that’s a little big for a bumper sticker but gets the point across: “Bidenomics Is Working: The President’s Plan Grows the Economy from the Middle Out and Bottom Up—Not the Top Down.”

    […] the numbers bear that out; as Oliver Willis notes, a 2021 report from the Congressional Budget Office projected that it would take until 2026 to get the unemployment rate back down to pre-pandemic levels. At the time of the report, unemployment was around six percent. Biden’s policies brought unemployment down to the pre-pandemic rate of 3.9 percent by December 2021, and since then the unemployment rate has stayed under four percent for 18 straight months. In May, it was 3.7 percent, continuing a period of low unemployment that hasn’t been seen since 1969. […]

    continued job growth (12 million new jobs since Biden took office), inflation coming under control, and a real industry policy focused on creating good-paying union jobs for the clean energy transition, including 150 battery plants and 50 new solar manufacturing plants since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

    New data released just today shows the clean energy workforce added nearly 300,000 jobs in 2022 and clean energy jobs grew in every state in America, in part because of the investments in clean energy and manufacturing by the Biden-Harris Administration.

    On Monday, the administration rolled out one of the big achievements in 2001’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, announcing $40 billion in funding to “make sure everyone in the United States has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet by the end of the decade.”

    Other parts of the broadband program have been coming out in piecemeal allotments, such as the Agriculture Department’s programs to grow rural broadband, but now we’re getting the main course, to be administered by the Department of Commerce through the “Broadband Equity Access and Deployment” (BEAD) program, which will offer $42 billion in grants for broadband development and expansion in every state, territory, and whatever the District of Columbia is.

    Every state and territory will get a minimum of $107 million, with 19 states that need the most broadband development getting allocations of over $1 billion. We aren’t only talking rural broadband, although that’s often where there’s little or no fast internet available; the funding will also address areas all over the country where internet service is “limited or unreliable,” too, which often includes lower-income areas of cities where there’s a “digital divide” in too many neighborhoods. [All good news.]

    Monday’s announcement was the first event in a three-week “Investing in America” tour, which will involve Biden and Harris and their spouses as well as top administration officials going around the country to point at new investments and make darn sure people know where they came from.

    Like, say, right now in Chicago. Everybody say hi to Joe!

    Link

    Video at the link.

  8. says

    17 states face air quality alerts due to Canadian wildfire smoke.

    Washington Post link

    The alerts stretch from Iowa and Minnesota in the west to New York, Maryland, Delaware and North Carolina in the east.

    Dense smoke from wildfires burning in Canada continued to migrate eastward on Wednesday, swinging around a low-pressure area now moving offshore on the East Coast. In its wake, a channel of thick surface smoke draped across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, and increasingly over the Mid-Atlantic.

    Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis were among the cities with the worst air quality in the world early Wednesday, according to IQAir. Unhealthy Code Red and Purple conditions stretched from eastern Iowa across Chicago and lower Great Lakes region, then toward the Appalachian Mountains, according to AirNow.

    Cities seeing Code Purple air quality, very unhealthy with an increased health risk for the general public, on Wednesday morning included Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Cedar Rapids in Iowa. Air quality alerts related to wildfire smoke were in effect for parts of 17 states, covering nearly a third of the American population.

    The alerts stretch from Iowa and Minnesota in the west to New York, Maryland, Delaware and North Carolina in the east. “Unhealthy air will continue today due to Canadian wildfires,” the National Weather Service in Indianapolis tweeted. “Limit outdoor activity and avoid outdoor physical activities, especially those that are sensitive to smoke.”

    […] Primary pollutants from wildfire at distance are of the PM 2.5 variety, or carbon-based fine particulates of 2.5 microns and less in diameter. In Code Red or worse conditions, the best protection is staying indoors with the windows closed and going outside only as necessary while wearing an N95 type mask.

    […] Wildfire smoke is also spilling over the Appalachian Mountains, with air quality headed downhill in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Air quality in the Mid-Atlantic is also likely to worsen through Wednesday.

    Poor air is poised to remain over much of the same region through Thursday, though it will sink south slowly over the Great Lakes and perhaps diminish somewhat with time. Code Orange conditions are forecast from Georgia to the Mid-Atlantic on Thursday, as well as in spots west of the Appalachian Mountains. […]

    During the month of June, Canada’s wildfires generated over 100 megatons of carbon.

    Additional link: Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

  9. says

    “Megaton” in comment 9 refers to a million tons, and not necessarily to explosive energy equal to 4.184 petajoules, or “an explosive force equivalent to that of one million tons of TNT.” Use of the term is a bit confusing.

    We are not actually talking about blast energy, or at least I don’t think so. Words kiloton (1,000 tons) and megaton (1,000,000 tons) are often used to describe blast energy of nuclear explosions.

  10. says

    Ukraine Update: ‘Huge’ progress at Bakhmut, Ukraine liberates territory held by Russia since 2014

    On Wednesday, both Ukrainian and Russian sources are reporting that Ukraine has made significant advances around Bakhmut. That includes in the north, where Ukrainians are building off an earlier push into Berkhivka and are now driving both north and east into Yahidne. It includes in the south, where Ukraine has made progress near both Klishchiivka and Kurdyumivka. And it includes in the middle, in that area around Bakhmut that’s called … Bakhmut.

    A representative of the general staff calls Ukraine’s movements over the last 24 hours in the area a “tangible success.” Others are being more expansive, calling it “huge progress.” The daily update from the Ukrainian military lists progress at no fewer than seven settlements in the Bakhmut area. Not only have Ukrainian forces made substantial gains, there are reports that Russian forces near both Klishchiivka and west of Berkhivka are in danger of being surrounded. Right now, available videos show small groups of Russians who have surrendered or been taken captive, but there are reportedly many more.

    Meanwhile, 80 kilometers to the south, for the first time since the war began, Ukraine has reportedly liberated territory captured by Russia in 2014.

    Right now, things around Bakhmut are in a frustrating position where reports of “good news!” are pouring in, but details on locations are still sketchy. It’s clear that Ukraine has made gains both north and south of the city, and the word “huge” keeps coming up. But I’m unable to collect the geo-confirmed information necessary to accurately map the changes of control. [map at the link]

    At Klishchiivka, south of the city, there have been numerous videos over the last week showing elements of the Ukrainian military clearing Russian forces from a wooded area near the canal west of the town. On Tuesday it was reported that Ukrainian troops had crossed the canal and were moving toward Klishchiivka. Multiple Russian defensive positions had been reportedly been overrun by Ukrainian troops and the capture of the town was said to be “a matter of time.”

    However, it should be noted that claims Klishchiivka has already been surrounded, or that Ukrainian forces have moved past the town on the south, do not appear to be true. What seems to be true is that Russian defensive lines have been broken.

    A similar story appears to be happening 5 km to the south at Kurdyumivka. Ukrainian forces have been moving toward this position gradually over the last month, and had been advancing in an area between a small river and the southern extension of the same canal seen at Klishchiivka. Now they have pushed forward, likely through an area where the canal runs underground on the western edge of Kurdyumivka, and have entered the town. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Both of these southern forces are reportedly aimed at reaching the T0513 highway as part of a plan that would reverse the Russian scheme of capturing Bakhmut by gradually encircling the city. With that in mind, it’s possible part of Klishchiivka will be bypassed for now with the attack moving east, then north, leaving Klishchiivka in the rear. Right now, Ukrainian forces are known to hold positions on the eastern side of the canal, and that’s about all that can be said for sure.

    In the north, Ukrainian forces are reportedly pushing into Yahidne as well as continuing to pick up more control around Berkhivka. This, along with increased pressure from the west, appears to put the Russian forces remaining at Dubovo-Vasylivka in peril of being cut off (and that does seem to be the source of some of the Russian captive videos today). Ukrainian forces are also reportedly taking back blocks within Bakhmut itself, moving east in the area north of the Khromove road. Ukraine reportedly holds heights in the area just west of the city that provide a tactical advantage.

    Videos of damaged Russian equipment and of Russians taken prisoner are still coming in. Hopefully there will soon be better confirmation of actual Ukrainian gains. [Tweets and videos at the link]

    BREAKING THE 2014 LINES

    The little area of Ukrainian progress east of the town of Krasnohorivka looks very small on a large map of the front lines, and at around 6 square kilometers, it’s far from the largest gain Ukraine has made in the last three weeks. [map at the link]

    But this area has a special significance: British intelligence reports that a portion of this area, a couple of square kilometers, is across the line that has divided Ukraine from the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (i.e., Russian controlled territory) since the 2014 invasion.

    That angled road cuts through the middle of the blue area marking the old boundary. There were also Russian defensive structures and trenches here that appear to have been overrun. This is just one of several small gains around the city of Donetsk that Ukraine has made since the first of the month, but it’s the first that has crossed the old line to reclaim long-occupied territory.

    KRAMATOSK MISSILE ATTACK

    On Tuesday, a Russian missile struck a pizzeria in Kramatorsk. This was a well-known and popular location both for local residents and visitors to the city. It’s a place where foreign journalists have often met, and most importantly, a place where families often bring their children for a moment of respite in the midst of the constant fear and horror over the last year and a half.

    That ended with an explosion that has now killed at least 11, including three young girls. Another 40 are wounded. [That’s updated information, more deaths and injuries that we posted in the previous chapter of this thread.] [image at the link]

    The attack on this restaurant was so clearly not a legitimate military target that tankies have been forced to respond … by concocting an elaborate conspiracy in which this was actually a U.K. Storm Shadow, or some unnamed U.S. missile that “turned around” to hit the pizzeria accidentally. Or that U.S. agents did this intentionally to maintain support for the war. [JFC! Projection. Putin has used such tactic before … in Chechnya for example.]

    These claims are as ludicrous as they are hideous. Meanwhile, actual Russians aren’t exactly torn up about having once again blasted children. [Tweet with examples of Russians happy about killing civilians]

    Who needs a conspiracy theory when cruelty will do?

    CHAOS CONTINUES IN WAKE OF WAGNER’S ABORTED COUP

    It remains anyone’s guess what’s going on in Russia and Belarus now that (former?) Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is supposedly settled in Minsk, other Wagner troops are reportedly coming to join him, and Putin can’t seem to decide between stringing them all up or giving them medals.

    There are now reports that the man who Prigozhin had embraced as the only Russian officer he would report to, and who also was the only one who stepped up to try and talk Prigozhin down when his men were two hours from the Kremlin, has been jailed.. [Tweet at the link]

    And there are reports that some kind of purge is underway. This comes as there are repeated rumors about the Russian military command passing into new hands, with Putin’s approval. There are also reports of an internal purge underway within the Russian military with anti-Wagner forces coming for anyone who ever evinced anything less than disdain for the Wagner mercenaries. Since a number of units stationed in both Ukraine and Russia declared their allegiance to Prigozhin at some point before he called off Wagner’s drive on Moscow, seeking out all those soldiers could be quite a challenge.

    Just removing Wagner took a reported 25,000 men and associated gear out of Russia’s efforts in Ukraine. The effects on morale and unit cohesion could be even greater if Russia tries to punish those who remained insufficiently loyal to Putin in a crisis.

    How much of this is true is difficult to tell, but there is certainly a lot of finger-pointing, and a lot of fear. Maybe a historical reference can predict what happens next most accurately. [Tweet at the link]

  11. says

    Trump Wanted Him Executed. He’s Going To New York City Council And Trump’s Going To Jail.

    Yusef Salaam, who was one of the “Central Park Five” and spent seven years in prison before his exoneration, is the apparent winner of the Democratic primary for a seat on the New York City Council. Salaam got about 50 percent of the vote in a crowded field for the seat from Harlem, beating out two state Assembly members, Inez Dickens, who received 25 percent, and Al Taylor, who finished with about 15 percent. This being New York City, the primary win means he’ll likely win the general election and take the seat currently held by Councilmember Kristin Richardson Jordan, who ran but dropped out before the election, although her name remained on the ballot. The race won’t be over until all ballots are counted, and if Salaam’s total falls below 50 percent, then ranked-choice voting will determine the winner. Given his strong first-round tally, Salaam would have a big advantage in subsequent rounds.

    In 1989, Salaam and four other Black teenagers were coerced into false confessions and convicted of the brutal rape and beating of a 29-year-old white female jogger in Central Park. The case generated an insane amount of media panic about Black teenagers “wilding” because while the crime against the jogger truly was horrifying, it also gave tabloid media an excuse to paint all young Black men as inherently prone to violence and just barely human. Good Christ it was an ugly, racist media frenzy.

    During the media freakout, Donald Trump took out a full-page ad in multiple New York papers calling for the teens to be executed, although New York had no death penalty and you can’t pass laws to execute people after a crime has been committed. The man was never all that big on details.

    In 2002, convicted serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the rape and beating, saying he had acted alone, and once it was determined that only Reyes was a match to DNA samples taken from the victim, the convictions of the Five were vacated. When he ran for president in 2016, Trump told a CNN reporter he still thought the men were guilty, despite the exonerations, and despite the complete lack of DNA evidence, because it was a horrible crime and after all they confessed, didn’t they?

    Trump’s good pal Rudy Giuliani backed Trump up on that, because even if they didn’t assault the Central Park victim, they were probably criminals anyway.

    [Dr. Yusef Salaam’s acceptance speech video is available at the link.]

    Salaam went on to be a speaker, writer, and criminal justice reform advocate, and in his probably-victory speech last night, said,

    What has happened in this campaign has restored my faith in knowing that I was born for this. […] Having to be kidnapped from my home — as a 15-year-old child — to be lodged in the belly of the beast, I was gifted to turn that experience into the womb of America. I was gifted because I was able to see it for what it really was: a system that was trying to make me believe that I was my ancestors’ wildest nightmare, but I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.

    While running for the City Council seat, he also published his own full-page ad — on the day Trump was arraigned on state felony charges in New York. The ad excoriated Trump for his constant calls for violence, from his 2016 campaign to January 6 to his threats against prosecutor Alvin Bragg: “You were wrong then, and you are wrong now.”

    […] Salaam said he put his faith in the justice system “to seek out the truth” in Trump’s case, adding,

    I hope that you exercise your civil liberties to the fullest, and that you get what the Exonerated 5 did not get — a presumption of innocence, and a fair trial.

    Best of luck to Yusef Salaam in his new job. He seems like a good fit.

  12. says

    […] Though the Kremlin has so far apparently stuck to the deal to drop charges against Prigozhin and allow him to leave for Belarus, Putin has targeted the mercenary leader in speeches while notably praising Wagner fighters themselves.

    “Putin is trying to present Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin as corrupt and a liar to destroy his reputation among Wagner personnel and within Russian society,” said the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank.

    “The Kremlin needs to separate Prigozhin’s cause from his persona,” the institute said, adding that it would “likely continue to attack Prigozhin’s character to break Prigozhin’s popular support, discourage Wagner personnel from following him to Belarus, and destroy his financial power.”

    What Prigozhin ultimately gained from the brief revolt remains unclear.

    “The plan was to make a lot of noise and fuss, to attract Putin’s attention and bargain for comfortable conditions for further work — a role, security and money,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Sunday on Twitter.

    Prigozhin defiantly framed the mutiny as a bid to save Wagner from coming under the control of the defense ministry, but the Kremlin has now offered his fighters the chance to join the Russian military’s ranks, go home or follow their leader to an uncertain future in Belarus.

    It’s unclear how many will rush to join him.

    Link

  13. Oggie: Mathom says

    From pervious page:

    I’m a legitimate person.

    STOP THE PRESSES!!!! Donald J. Trump, Serial Sexual Abuser, indicted criminal, and all-around liar, has actually told the truth. He is a legitimate person. We can agree., all of us, that Donald J. Trump, Serial Sexual Abuser, indicted criminal and all-around liar is, legitimately, a person. Now if we could get him to raise his behaviour to human . . .

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russian General Surovikin arrested after Wagner Group’s rebellion

    Sergei Surovikin, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces and Deputy Commander of the Russian forces in Ukraine, has been arrested after a failed coup by Yevgeny Prigozhin, financier of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), The Moscow Times reports…

    “In the context of Prigozhin. Apparently, he [Surovikin] chose Prigozhin’s side during the uprising, and they got ahold of him.” …

  15. wzrd1 says

    Possible human remains were located in the imploded Titan submersible. Also found, the front dome, missing the viewport that was rated for 1/3 of the depth it was lost at.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-66049789

    Even more smoky here in Harrisburg, PA than at the beginning of the month, with the air quality alert level going to red today. Never saw it red, the worst I’ve saw around here was orange for ozone, but we’re at red for particulates and orange tomorrow.
    https://www.abc27.com/pennsylvania/wildfire-smoke-returns-to-pennsylvania-code-red-air-quality-alert-issued/
    I hate to see what it’s like in Canada! This is worse than the smog of the 1960’s!

  16. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The air quality is in the red at 180 here in Lake County IL just north of Chicago. We may get some temporary relief as rain is predicted after midnight.

  17. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    University of Waterloo (Ontario) – Stabbing at Hagey Hall

    a stabbing incident occurred toward the end of PHIL 202: Gender Issues […] a man of about 20-30 years of age entered the class and asked the professor what the class was about. The man closed the door, pulled two knives out of his backpack and proceeded to attack the professor.
    […]
    police had arrived and apprehended the suspect […] the victims—the professor and two students—are in non-life-threatening condition.

  18. StevoR says

    DOCO ALERT : The First Inventors’ on the amazing physical and social technology of Australia’s First Peoples is screening tonight – third episode, 8.40 pm (SA time), NITV c34 :

    The First Inventors
    Thursday, 29 Jun
    8:40 PM – 9:40 PM [60 mins]pgCC
    Vast communication networks, trade superhighways, and sophisticated kinship systems. How First Nations people built an extraordinarily connected society on this enormous, often inhospitable continent.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/tv/epg/ – plus my TV’s TV guide..

    More info here : https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/the-first-inventors-premieres-on-nitv/sdkjkq46n

    Its also on SBS on Demand for those who can access that here : https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/tv-series/the-first-inventors

  19. StevoR says

    Spaaace Neeeews – article on one extraordinary exoplanet that may have survived its sun ballooning into a red giant star or possibly even formed as a result of a stellar collision here :

    Today in Nature scientists confirmed the star is a red giant that should have at some stage swelled up to a point where it engulfed and destroyed the planet.

    The same fate is expected for Mercury, Venus, and likely Earth, as the Sun ages and expands.

    But Halla survived and is the first of its kind to be discovered.

    “This is a case where the planet in the system we report should really not exist, from what we understand about stars and planets,” said lead author Marc Hon, a NASA Hubble Fellow based at University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy.

    So how did it survive, and what does this mean for life, the Universe and everything?

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2023-06-29/halla-planet-survivor-baekdu-star-red-giant-white-dwarf-merger-/102534242

    See also : https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2023/06/29/astronomers-find-planet-that-should-not-exist-baekdu-halla-exoplanet.html

    Which notes this star named Baekdu is also designated 8 Ursae Minoris FWIW.

    In Cephalopod news :

    A new study has shown octopuses’ sleep might be more like humans than initially thought and could even include dreaming.A study from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in collaboration with the University of Washington, studied the brain activity and skin patterning in octopuses while they sleep.

    The study, published in scientific journal Nature, found like humans the cephalopod has two stages of sleep; quiet and active, the latter resembling REM where most mammals will dream.

    The study focused on nocturnal octopuses (Octopus Laqueus) who would close their eyes during daylight in a resting posture and have a white skin pattern — understood to be the quiet sleep. About every 60 minutes they would have rapid transitions of skin colours along with bursts of frenzied activity where their arms and eyes twitch, their breathing rate quickens; the active sleep stage.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-29/new-study-finds-octopuses-might-be-dreaming/102541360

  20. says

    Happy Thursday, all!

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

    Ukrainian forces are advancing “slowly but surely” on the front lines in the east and southeast of the country as well as around the longstanding flashpoint of Bakhmut, senior military officials have said, according to Reuters.

    The news wire reported:

    Ukrainian commander-in-chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi told chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff Mark Milley that the that his forces had “succeeded in seizing the strategic initiative.”

    “Ukraine‘s defence forces are proceeding with their offensive action and we have made advances. The enemy is offering strong resistance, while sustaining considerable losses,” Zaluzhnyi wrote on Telegram.

    He told Milley about weapons needed by Ukrainian forces as well as demining equipment – Ukrainian officials have cited large tracts of mined territory as an impediment to any advance.

    Reuters also reported that deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar, speaking on national television, had noted advances in sectors in the south designated by two occupied towns – Berdiansk and Mariupol.

    “Every day, there is an advance,” Maliar said. “Yes, the advances are slow, but they are sure.”

    She cited the recapture this week of the village of Rivnopol in the southeast, saying “mopping up operations were complete” and that the army was now well dug in.

    Ukrainian military analyst Oleksander Musiyenko said Ukrainian gains on the fringes of Bakhmut were probably a prelude for plans to recapture other areas, including the long-contested towns of Aviivka and Maryinka.

    “It makes no sense to enter Bakhmut itself now. The risk is too great,” he told Ukrainian NV Radio “But in the east, Ukraine has gradually taken over the initiative. Ukraine has improved its tactical positions without sending in significant reserves.”

  21. says

    Guardian – “Braverman plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda unlawful, appeal court rules”:

    Court of appeal judges have ruled by a majority of two to one that it is unlawful for the UK government to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their claims processed.

    The ruling from Lord Burnett, Sir Geoffrey Vos, and Lord Justice Underhill [no comment] follows a four-day hearing in April against a high court ruling last December that found it was lawful to send some asylum seekers, including small boat arrivals, to Rwanda to have their claims processed rather than dealing with their applications for sanctuary in the UK.

    The illegal migration bill, now passing through parliament, states that all asylum seekers arriving via “irregular means” could face being forcibly removed to Rwanda.

    Those who supported the appeal against the ruling include the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR, lawyers, charities and a group of asylum seekers.

    Ten asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania who arrived in the UK via irregular means crossing the Channel in small boats brought the case along with the charity Asylum Aid.

    The key issue before the court was whether Rwanda was capable of delivering reliable outcomes on asylum claims and whether there was a risk that asylum seekers would be forcibly removed to their home countries after arriving in Rwanda even if they had strong asylum claims.

    The court ruled that due to deficiencies in the Rwandan asylum system there was a real risk that people sent to Rwanda would be returned to their home countries, where they face persecution or other inhumane treatment, when in fact they had a good claim for asylum.

    The court’s conclusion was that Rwanda is not a “safe third country” even though assurances provided by the Rwandan government were provided in good faith.

    The judges found that sending asylum seekers to Rwanda would be a breach of article 3 of the European convention on human rights.

    The judges unanimously rejected other grounds of appeal in the case.

    Toufique Hossain of Duncan Lewis solicitors, who represented some of the appellants said: “The home secretary’s ‘dream’ and ‘obsession’ is in tatters. The court of appeal has ruled by a majority that Rwanda is not a safe third country. We speak on behalf of all our deeply vulnerable clients in thanking the court for its decision.”

    Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “We are relieved that the court of appeal has ruled that Rwanda is not a safe country for people who claim asylum. However, we’re disappointed that they have not concluded that the overall policy is unlawful.

    “Let’s remember that the UK made an international commitment under the refugee convention to provide a safe haven for those fleeing for their lives who seek protection on our soil. This is a source of pride for British people. We must not now turn our backs on this commitment and on the men, women and children from countries like Sudan and Afghanistan who come to us for safety.”…

  22. says

    France 24 – “Live: France to deploy 40,000 police officers overnight to quell violence”:

    Nanterre Prosecutor Pascal Prache told a press conference on Thursday that the police officer who shot Nahel M. did not meet the “legal conditions for the usage of firearms” and is being investigated for intentional homicide, recommending he be detained. France’s interior minister said 40,000 police officers will deployed overnight to quell any fresh outbreaks of violence.

    The 17-year-old victim, identified only as Nahel M., was shot in the chest at point-blank range during a traffic stop on Tuesday morning in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. He was driving a yellow Mercedes in Nanterre when he was pulled over for breaking traffic laws.

    Police initially reported that he was shot after driving his car at police, but this was contradicted by a video uploaded to social media and later authenticated by AFP. The footage shows the two policemen standing by the side of the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver. A voice is heard saying, “You are going to get a bullet in the head.” The police officer then appears to fire as the car abruptly drives off before gradually coming to a stop.

    The incident has so far caused two nights of violent unrest in Paris and cities around France that have seen protesters clashing with police. Authorities said at least 150 people had been arrested overnight.

    France’s interior minister said 40,000 police officers will deployed overnight to quell the violence.

    The teenager’s mother called for a silent march on Thursday in tribute to her only child.

    The Nanterre prosecutor announced, on Thursday morning, that the police officer who fatally shot Nahel would be detained on changes of intentional homicide.

    “Thats what people here in Nanterre were expecting and were hoping for,” said FRANCE 24’s Clovis Caseli reporting from Nanterre.

    The Paris suburb where Nahel lived will host a memorial march organised by the family of the dead teen on Thursday afternoon.

  23. Reginald Selkirk says

    Where are Russia’s top generals? Rumours swirl after mercenary mutiny

    Russia’s most senior generals have dropped out of public view after a failed mercenary mutiny aimed at toppling the top military brass, amid a drive by President Vladimir Putin to reassert his authority.

    Unconfirmed reports say that at least one person has been detained and is being questioned.

    Armed forces chief of staff General Valery Gerasimov has not appeared in public or on state TV since the aborted mutiny on Saturday when mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin demanded Gerasimov be handed over. Nor has he been mentioned in a defence ministry press release since June 9.

    Gerasimov, 67, is the commander of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the holder of one of Russia’s three “nuclear briefcases,” according to some Western military analysts.

    Absent from view too is General Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed “General Armageddon” by the Russian press for his aggressive tactics in the Syrian conflict, who is deputy commander of Russian forces in Ukraine…

    “Out of public view” – I’d be avoiding windows too if I were them.

  24. says

    Kyiv Independent – “Chechen veteran battalion fighting Russia: ‘When Chechens are independent, they pick this side’”:

    Moscow has fought bitterly to avoid giving up control over the lands it conquered over the centuries — and made many enemies in the process.

    Now, as Russia is leading yet another war of conquest, in Ukraine, many of those enemies have joined Ukrainians on the battlefield to fight their common foe, Russia.

    Many came from the region where Russia had fought its most recent wars before Ukraine — the Caucasus. Hence the presence of units like the Georgian Legion, as well as the Chechen battalion named after 18th century Chechen warlord and folk hero, Sheikh Mansur.

    Aslan Ocherkhadzhiev, 43, a Chechen veteran who lives in Norway, says he came to Ukraine to get a shot at the old enemy that crushed his people in the Chechen wars, and denied them an independent state.

    “We lost our independence as a result of this battle,” he said. “And this dream of independence lived on in me, as it lived on in many Chechen people who ended up in Europe and other countries.”

    The battalion, which may be closer in strength to a regiment, gets its name from a religious and military leader who sought to prevent Russian Empress Catherine the Great’s imperial expansion into the Caucasus during the late 1700s. Mansur is remembered for uniting the Caucasus against Russians’ growing presence.

    When Russia sent troops after him, he declared holy war against the empire. After fighting the Russians for years, he was captured and taken to Russia where he died in prison.

    Russia subsequently fought the peoples of the Caucasus over more than 60 years. It eventually annexed the regions that would become Chechnya and Ingushetia, a territory over which the Soviet Union would retain control. In 1991, a push towards more independence in part of this region began under the helm of Dzhokhar Dudayev. Another Chechen battalion fighting in Ukraine is named after him.

    The Sheikh Mansur Battalion consists mostly of veterans from both Chechen wars against Russia, mainly ethnic Chechens, but there are other nationalities. Most are Muslim but Ocherkhadzhiev said there are people of other faiths as well.

    “We don’t divide people by religion and nationality, that’s one of our principles,” he said. The unit’s many muslims follow the ordinary traditions like prayer, but there is nothing radical involved, according to Ocherkhadzhiev.

    Aslan said the battalion doesn’t get any financial support from the Ukrainian government, relying instead on volunteers and donors, who include Ukrainians and Chechens. While the unit coordinates with Ukraine’s regular military, it does not take orders from it.

    But the one enemy the Sheikh Mansur Battalion hasn’t faced in battle is other Chechens, the ones working for Russia and loyal to Putin’s pocket warlord Ramzan Kadyrov. Throughout the full-scale invasion, they became infamous for being more active on social media than the battlefield.

    “We haven’t run into them,” Ocherkhadzhiev says. “We were on the zero line, the first and second lines, while they were somewhere on the third or fifth, far away,” he said. “Instawarriors. [LOL] Sometimes they got lost and blundered into capture or died under artillery.”

    Still, the brutality towards civilians and mass looting allegedly committed by Kadyrov’s fighters earned them a foul reputation.

    It doesn’t feel good for the pro-Ukrainian fighters to know that when many people in the world open the news and read the word “Chechen,” they probably picture Kadyrovites or the Akhmat force, which are both fighting or pretending to fight for Russia.

    “Well, yes,” Ocherkhadzhiev says. “A huge government propaganda machine of the Russian empire works to create this image of these radical Chechen evildoers who attacked Ukraine, create the image that they’re some kind of independent allies for Russia.”

    “We all understand that they’re military service members of Russia. Russia’s police. These are not independent people.”

    “How do we see it? Yeah, it’s unpleasant for us, but from our side, we stand against it,” he continues. “We are volunteers who get no paycheck, no material motivation. We came here from quiet, measured lives, to risk our lives and I think that this must show the world that when Chechens are truly independent, they pick this side.”

    More at the link.

  25. says

    Noel on Twitter:

    “First of all, the counteroffensive is at an early stage. The Minister of Defense of Ukraine recently said that most units have not yet been involved in it. Without a doubt, the Russians have been preparing the defense for months, so it is very difficult to break through it,” the US Secretary of State noted…

    Video clip from Morning Joe at the link. Someone at MSNBC has decided that the line at the network about the counteroffensive is that it’s been a “tough slog” with little success. This view is promoted by the anchors regardless of any points made or evidence cited by their guests or correspondents. Ukrainians in Unarray.

  26. says

    Francis Scarr on Twitter:

    Russian state TV is pulling out all the stops to promote Putin as a leader beloved by the entire nation following the failed mutiny

    Presenter Olga Skabeyeva says that “even rock stars have nothing on him” after the welcome he was given by crowds in Derbent last night…

    Subtitled video, presumably edited by a chipmunk, at the link.

  27. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #4:

    Belinda Sherley, 42, is the sole caregiver for her disabled husband. The two live on the ​​$914 per month from his disability payments, and SNAP food assistance. She has her own serious health issues, and has never had insurance as an adult. She knows about Kemp’s plan, “But I’m not going to be able to work,” she said.

    She is working. Taking care of others is work.

  28. says

    Re: birgerjohansson 22
    They include nothing on what fanzor is doing on it’s own. Products are ok otherwise.

    There’s somatic hypermutation in making immune cells naturally, and they find more somatic hypermutation in brain cells than other cells. So far I see implications that this is bad but there’s nothing preventing brains from using hypermutation in normal functioning. This is the first paper I found that addressed it as possibly functional. I don’t know if fanzor is related yet, I just remember the phenomena.
    https://www.jbc.org/article/S0021-9258(17)49991-1/fulltext

  29. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Here is a picture of pro-Ukrainian protesters outside the European Council in Brussels on Thursday as EU leaders met to discuss “future security commitments” to Ukraine.

    The protest was held to call on the EU to outline Ukraine’s and Georgia’s way to become member states, to further sanction Russia, and to recognise the Wagner group as a terrorist organisation.

    Former US vice-president Mike Pence met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a surprise trip to Ukraine, NBC news reports.

    “I believe America’s the leader of the free world,” Pence told NBC News.

    “But coming here just as a private citizen – being able to really see first-hand the heroism of the Ukrainian soldiers holding the line in those woods, see the heroism of the people here in Irpin that held back the Russian army, to see families whose homes were literally shelled in the midst of an unconscionable and unprovoked Russian invasion – just steels my resolve to do my part, to continue to call for strong American support for our Ukrainian friends and allies.”

    Pence is the first Republican presidential candidate to meet with Zelenskyy during the campaign.

    Unlike Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, both of whom have expressed tepid support for Ukraine and US intervention, Pence has been unambiguous in his strong support for Ukraine and said “there can be no room in the leadership of the Republican Party for apologists for Putin.”

    A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday found that large majorities of Americans – 67% and 73% – are more likely to support a candidate in next year’s US presidential election who will continue military aid to Ukraine and one who backs the Nato alliance.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan slammed Sweden on Thursday over the burning of a Qur’an in Stockholm as tensions between the two countries heighten. In order to join Nato, Sweden needs the backing of Turkey who have been blocking their bid.

    “We will teach the arrogant western people that it is not freedom of expression to insult the sacred values of Muslims,” Erdogan told party members on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

    Erdogan said Turkey would show the possible strongest reaction to what he called the vile protest.

    Swedish police had granted permission for the anti-Qur’an protest to take place. But after the burning, police charged the man who carried it out with agitation against an ethnic or national group.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan condemned the protest and said it was unacceptable to allow anti-Islam protests in the name of freedom of expression.

    This month, a new anti-terrorism law targeted at Kurdish and anti-Turkish government groups, which include the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) and the Gülen movement, came into force in Sweden to appease demands from the Turkish government. In response, protests advocating for Kurdish rights were held.

    The US asked Ukrainian officials not to conduct covert attacks inside Russia as the Wagner group rebellion was under way and advised them not to do anything that would influence the outcome of events or take advantage of the chaos, American officials have told the New York Times.

    US officials did not want to give the Russian president Vladimir Putin an excuse to claim that the Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion was orchestrated by the US or Ukraine. They also said they believed that any high-profile operation by Ukrainian forces inside Russia was unlikely to have any major effect on Prigozhin’s goals, but would allow Putin to level accusations against the west, according to American assessments.

    US officials added that as far as they knew, Ukrainian intelligence units took heed of the advice.

  30. birgerjohansson says

    The Koran-burning guy in Sweden is a “useful idiot” who is messing up Sweden’s entry in NATO.
    I don’t care for “sacred” scriptures, but he is motivated by media coverage, not freedom of expression like the late Lars Vilks
    .

    From Britain: Tory Rwanda plan declared unlawful by court of appeal.
    https://youtu.be/uRehpuNtB14

  31. says

    SC @38: “She is working. Taking care of others is work.”

    Quite right, and a very good point to make. I know from experience that taking care of an ill or disabled elderly person is more than a full-time job.

  32. tomh says

    M Live
    Ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors in Michigan headed to governor
    By Alyssa Burr / Jun. 28, 2023

    Bills banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors in Michigan passed the state legislature, Tuesday, June 27 and are headed for the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

    Once signed by Whitmer, Michigan will join the 21 states, plus the District of Columbia, which have already enacted bans on administering conversion therapy to minors.

    “Michigan’s LGBTQ+ youth should be free from needless attacks and torture, and deserve to live in a state where they can be healthy, safe, and reach their full potential,” Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott said in a statement. “Ending the dangerous practice of conversion therapy for youth is a critical step in making Michigan a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ people and our families.”

    House Bill 4617, defines conversion therapy as “any practice or treatment by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behavior or gender expression or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward an individual of the same gender.”

    It’s companion bill, House Bill 4616, would not only prevent a therapist from using conversion therapy on a person under the age of 18, but it would also create penalties for those found guilty of participating in the practice.
    […]

    The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes conversion therapy has resulted in increased risk of suicide, self-loathing, anxiety, substance abuse and depression among LGBTQ people.

    Republicans in opposition questioned the influence the bills would have over medical professionals when providing care.

    [snipped: Quotes from lengthy Republican speeches.]

    Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, lambasted these remarks in his floor speech as the reason a ban on conversion therapy is needed.

    As a gay man, Moss told reporters after session that it’s painful for him to listen to the comments from his Republican colleagues, but that it’s something LGBTQ people encounter on an everyday basis.

    “Enduring these no-vote explanations… really just demonstrates that you have to be a compassionate, trained professional in order to assist somebody who’s struggling with their gender identity or sexual orientation,” he said.

  33. says

    Campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen from an NBC News article:

    […] in Arizona, where Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is slated to take on independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema next year, the congressman has picked up a prominent ally: Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be the special guest at a Gallego fundraising event tonight.

    Good news for Gallego. And, we like to see Kyrsten Sinema challenged. She should retire from politics.

    In other political news: Why Nancy Mace’s infrastructure hypocrisy was especially brazen

    When it comes to Republicans seeking credit for infrastructure investments they opposed, there are nuances. Nancy Mace’s style of hypocrisy is the worst.

    The Biden administration has seen quite a few Republicans seek credit for investments they voted against, and as Politico reported, the White House “seems intent to inflict a modicum of political pain” on hypocritical GOP members.

    Fortunately for the president and his team, the Republican Party is offering plenty of examples deserving of scorn.

    Yesterday, for example, we discussed Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who publicly celebrated broadband infrastructure investments in his home state of Alabama, calling the funding “crucial,” and adding the federal spending on broadband “is vital for the success of our rural communities and for our entire economy.”

    This, of course, is the same Tuberville who voted against the legislation that made the investments possible.

    It was against this backdrop that the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., published a report on an even more egregious example of the larger phenomenon.<a href="The Biden administration has seen quite a few Republicans seek credit for investments they voted against, and as Politico reported, the White House “seems intent to inflict a modicum of political pain” on hypocritical GOP members.

    Fortunately for the president and his team, the Republican Party is offering plenty of examples deserving of scorn.

    Yesterday, for example, we discussed Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who publicly celebrated broadband infrastructure investments in his home state of Alabama, calling the funding “crucial,” and adding the federal spending on broadband “is vital for the success of our rural communities and for our entire economy.”

    This, of course, is the same Tuberville who voted against the legislation that made the investments possible.

    It was against this backdrop that the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., published a report on an even more egregious example of the larger phenomenon.

    A routine press conference on a federal grant for Charleston’s bus system put Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace on the defensive after Democrats pounced on the fact she actually voted against the bill that made it happen.

    As the local report explained, at issue is a multi-million-dollar grant for a regional transit hub that will help the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority transition to a fully electric bus fleet. The $26 million investment was made possible by the infrastructure package negotiated and signed by President Joe Biden — a package Mace voted against.

    But as the Post and Courier noted, the South Carolinian didn’t just oppose the measure, she also condemned it as a “fiasco” and a “socialist wish list.” That did not, however, stop the GOP congresswoman from showing up at a press event yesterday in support of the local project. [LOL. Yep, very blatant hypocrisy.]

    Mace, naturally, went on to promote her appearance online and celebrate the federal spending. She neglected to mention the fact that the investment wouldn’t have happened if she’d successfully killed the underlying bill.

    […] Mace’s style of hypocrisy to be the toughest to defend.

    The GOP lawmaker defended herself by arguing, “If federal dollars are being appropriated, you better believe we’re going to do everything we can to make sure they are spent here in South Carolina.”

    On the surface, this isn’t absurd. As regular readers know, for as long as there’s been a Congress, there have been lawmakers seeking federal funds for their states and districts — even when those resources came from bills they voted against. The thinking behind the appeals is obvious: They opposed the spending, but if the government is going to make the investments anyway, these members figure they might as well make the case for directing some of those funds to their own constituents.

    I’m not unsympathetic to this argument. It’s certainly rooted in the American tradition.

    But the details matter. Mace saw the bipartisan bill as an example of “socialism.” Months later, Mace apparently concluded that funding from the infrastructure package would nevertheless improve the economy in her district and give the local community a boost. Several other GOP members said the same thing.

    It’d be one thing for Republicans to make the case that their constituents deserve their fair share of a larger federal pie, but it’s something else when Republicans condemn a bill as “socialism,” only to argue soon afterward that socialism would work wonders in their districts.

    Biden had a little fun at the GOP’s expense during remarks at an automobile plant last fall, saying to laughter, “I didn’t know there were that many socialist Republicans.” He added, “Folks, look, you can’t make this stuff up. I’ve got to say, I was surprised to see so many socialists in the Republican caucus.”

    The quote is every bit as applicable now as it was at the time.

  34. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Wall Street Journal reports that the US is close to approving a long-range missile system for Ukraine that could strike Russia targets from far behind the frontlines, according to a senior Ukrainian defence official.

    The Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, has a range of about 190 miles. US president Joe Biden has not signed off on the transfer, partly over concerns among US officials that Ukraine could use it to strike Russian territory and escalate the conflict.

    A senior Ukrainian defence official told the newspaper that Kyiv had received positive signs in recent weeks that the US had come around on the ATACMS system. Ukrainian officials have argued that the long-range missiles are needed, in part, to strike into Crimea, the peninsula occupied by Russia that Russian forces are using as a base to launch Iranian-made drones, according to public statements by the US and its European allies.

  35. says

    Noel on Twitter:

    The Russian Ministry of Defense said that during the strike on Kramatorsk, 2 generals, up to 50 officers and up to 20 foreign mercenaries and advisers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were killed.

    Probably also 25 HIMARS, 2 spaceshuttles and 416 bio frogs (used for ground attacks).

  36. says

    SC @50, The Russians are not even good at lying.

    In other news: Conservative Supreme Court Majority Rules Against Affirmative Action, Overturning Decades Of Precedent

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/supreme-court-affirmative-action

    The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina are unconstitutional, overturning decades of precedent.

    “Harvard’s and UNC’s admissions programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

    He was joined by the rest of the right-wing justices. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justice Elena Kagan in full and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in part (Jackson had recused herself from Harvard’s case due to her ties to the school). Jackson also wrote in dissent, joined by Sotomayor and Kagan. Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch all also wrote concurring opinions.

    Roberts writes a couple lines that seem to all but eliminate race-conscious admissions completely: “Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin. This Nation’s constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.” [Oh, FFS]

    He spends considerable time critiquing the liberals’ dissents, at one point saying of Sotomayor’s position that the programs should continue: “That is a remarkable view of the judicial role — remarkably wrong.”

    Sotomayor squarely attacks the majority for feigning colorblindness in a way that will inevitably drain colleges and universities of minority students.

    “The Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter,” she writes. “The Court subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.” [She is correct.]

    She becomes particularly sharp when knocking down the majority’s characterization of the Brown v. Board of Education litigation.

    “The Court’s recharacterization of Brown is nothing but revisionist history and an affront to the legendary life of Justice Marshall, a great jurist who was a champion of true equal opportunity, not rhetorical flourishes about colorblindness,” she writes.

    Jackson devotes much of her dissent to tracking the many inequities that still plague Black Americans, from lagging home ownership to the persistent wealth and income gap between Black and white families.

    “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat,” she writes.

    In his concurrence, Thomas offers an “originalist defense of the colorblind Constitution,” including the amendments written specifically with race in mind after the Civil War. He also makes a similar case to the one Gorsuch lays out in his own concurrence: that college admissions are a zero-sum game.

    “Just as there is no question Harvard and UNC consider race in their admissions processes, there is no question both schools intentionally treat some applicants worse than others because of their race,” Gorsuch writes.

    Kavanaugh stakes his concurrence on his argument that “race-based affirmative action in higher education” may not “extend indefinitely into the future.”

    While the majority knocked down the schools’ use of race as one of many factors in determining eligibility, Roberts allows for some consideration of applicants’ race in the process.

    “Nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university,” he writes.

    That initial caveat was perhaps written in to placate a concern Jackson raised during oral arguments.

    “Now we’re entertaining a rule in which some people can say the things they want about who they are and have that valued in the system, but other people are not going to be able to because they won’t be able to reveal that they’re Latina or African American or whatever,” she said in October 2022. “And I’m worried that that creates an inequity in the system.”

    Sotomayor dismisses Roberts’ attempt to project moderation, calling it a “false promise to save face.”

    “No one is fooled,” she writes.

  37. says

    The role former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to play in the Republican presidential primary is that of Trump critic—but that doesn’t mean he’s letting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis off the hook, especially when he can get a double play. And boy, DeSantis made it easy for Christie with his answer to an audience question about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    Asked by a high school student if he believes “that Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power, a key principle of American democracy that we must uphold,” DeSantis sounded like a small child denying that they made a mess. “So, I wasn’t anywhere near Washington that day,” he said. “I have nothing to do with what happened that day. Obviously I didn’t enjoy seeing, you know, what happened, but we’ve got to go forward on this stuff. We cannot be looking backwards and be mired in the past.”

    No one is saying you personally invaded the Capitol, Ron. The question is whether you think Donald Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power.

    On Wednesday evening, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked Christie whether he thinks that’s how Republicans should respond to such questions. The answer is no.

    “He wasn’t anywhere near Washington. Did he have a TV? Was he alive that day? Did he see what was going on? I mean, that’s one of the most ridiculous answers I’ve heard in this race so far. You don’t have an opinion about January 6th except to say, I didn’t particularly enjoy what happened? People were killed.”

    “We had members of Congress who were running for their lives. We had people trying to hunt down the vice president of the United States chanting, ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ And Donald Trump the entire time sat outside the Oval Office in that little dining room of his eating a well done cheeseburger and watching TV, and doing nothing to stop what was going on until it got to the point where even he could no longer stand it, and he finally, at 4-something in the afternoon, put out a video asking people to leave the Capitol. And Ron DeSantis doesn’t have any opinion on that?”

    […] Chris Christie is no hero here. He governed New Jersey as an arrogant bully—in very much the kind of hectoring, posturing way DeSantis is governing Florida, down to their shared choice of teachers as targets. Once Christie concluded he wasn’t going to win the 2016 presidential primary, he sucked up to Trump as energetically as any other Republican. But the guy can talk, and if what he wants to say lays bare the corruption and anti-democratic slant of his own party and its leading candidates, and the cowardice of its number two candidate, that’s no bad thing.

    Link.

    Video of the Christie interview is available at the link.

  38. says

    Zelinsky trolls Putin:

    For Russia now, it would be right to ask that Ukraine be accepted into NATO, because NATO members defend themselves, do not destroy. NATO states protect peoples, and do not rush at their neighbors to destroy their future. Russia, as an aggressor, knows this better than others.

  39. says

    […] It’s undeniably true […] that Republican-controlled “Red” states, almost across the board, have higher rates of:

    — Spousal abuse
    — Obesity
    — Smoking
    — Teen pregnancy
    — Sexually transmitted diseases
    — Abortion (at least before Dobbs; now it would be “forced births”)
    — Bankruptcies and poverty
    — Homicide and suicide
    — Infant mortality
    — Maternal mortality
    — Forcible rape
    — Robbery and aggravated assault
    — Dropouts from high school
    — Divorce
    — Contaminated air and water
    — Opiate addiction and deaths
    — Unskilled workers
    — Parasitic infections
    — Income and wealth inequality
    — Covid deaths and unvaccinated people
    — Federal subsidies to states (“Red State Welfare”)
    — People on welfare
    — Child poverty
    — Homelessness
    — Spousal murder
    — Unemployment
    — Deaths from auto accidents
    — People living on disability
    — Gun deaths

    But are all these things, along with widespread GOP support for foreign fascist autocrats like Putin and Orbán, happening because Republicans simply hate their citizens and worship poverty, death, and disease?

    Or is there something in the GOP’s core beliefs and strategies that just inevitably leads to these outcomes?

    It turns out that’s very much the case: these terrible outcomes are the direct result of policies promoting greed and racism that the GOP has been using for forty years to get access to hundreds of billions of dollars that they then use to influence media and win elections.

    Using racism as a political strategy while promoting and defending the greed of oligarchs always leads to massive inequality: that, in turn, causes widespread poverty, pollution, illiteracy, and early death regardless of the nation […]

    Link

    Embedded links leading to data that supports the claims are available at the main link.

  40. says

    Overdose deaths involving illegally-manufactured fentanyl laced with xylazine have skyrocketed in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    New CDC data released Thursday found that between January 2019 and June 2022, the monthly percentage of overdose deaths from fentanyl combined with xylazine increased by 276 percent, from 2.9 percent to 10.9 percent.

    […] Xylazine, also known as “tranq,” is an easily accessible veterinary drug approved for use in animals as a sedative and pain reliever. But it is also being used by drug dealers as a low-cost cutting agent in drugs like fentanyl, possibly as a way to extend a user’s high.

    Veterinarians legitimately use drug products containing xylazine to sedate large animals such as horses and deer, but it is not safe for use in people and may cause serious and life-threatening side effects.

    […] Xylazine is not an opioid, so the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone does not work on it, and so, the CDC said xylazine detection was not associated with higher proportions of naloxone administration.

    Still, researchers stressed that naloxone should be administered in the case of a suspected overdose because it does reverse the effects of fentanyl. […]

    Link

  41. says

    George Monbiot in the Guardian – “Punishment without trial: Britain’s latest weapon in the war against dissent”: “Companies are taking out devastating ‘civil injunctions’ against climate activists – and making them pay the costs…”

    These measures are a blatant injustice, a parallel legal system operating without the defences available in criminal law, that can inflict ruinous and open-ended costs. They amount to a system of private fines, to be levied at will and out of the blue against political opponents.

  42. says

    The monstrous arrogance of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision

    What America will lose, now that affirmative action is effectively gone.

    The Supreme Court’s much-anticipated affirmative action decision Thursday does not explicitly overrule the Court’s previous decisions permitting race-conscious university admissions, but it will almost certainly have the same effect as a total ban.

    And that will “impair the military’s ability to maintain diverse leadership, and thereby seriously undermine its institutional legitimacy and operational effectiveness.”

    Those are not my words. That’s the view that a long list of former generals, admirals, and other senior national security officials laid out in a brief they filed when the case, Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, was being considered. That brief urged the justices not to end affirmative action in university admissions. And they are hardly the only ones to offer such a warning.

    Despite those warnings, six justices decided Thursday to effectively end race-conscious university admissions in a pair of cases considering Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s affirmative action programs.

    The Court’s decision is somewhat confusing, because it purports to simply apply past decisions that permitted some affirmative action programs, rather than explicitly overruling them. But the practical effect of the Harvard decision is that it bans the very kind of affirmative action that the Court has endorsed in the past.

    Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion for the Court’s six Republican appointees faults the two universities for having affirmative action programs that “lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race.” But there’s an obvious reason why they do not. The Court’s previous decisions permitted some limited forms of affirmative action, but they explicitly ban racial quotas and other mathematical formulas that could allow universities to determine whether they are achieving “focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race.”

    The Harvard case, in other words, is rooted in a Catch-22. Universities may neither have mathematically precise programs that violate the Court’s earlier decisions. Nor may they have the more vaguely defined programs that the Court prohibits in its newest decision.

    I wish that the Court had shown more humility instead.

    That’s because the military leaders’ views are shared by an equally long list of America’s largest employers — a list that includes companies as diverse as Apple, Levi Strauss, Northrop Grumman, Starbucks, and United Airlines — all of whom warn that American business will be less dominant because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions.

    To appeal to diverse markets, the business brief argues, major employers need “university admissions programs that lead to graduates educated in racially and ethnically diverse environments.” “Only in this way,” their brief emphasizes, “can America produce a pipeline of highly qualified future workers and business leaders prepared to meet the needs of the modern economy and workforce.”

    And then there’s the medical profession’s brief. This brief, filed on behalf of a wide range of medical organizations including the American Medical Association itself, argues that “an overwhelming body of scientific research compiled over decades confirms” that “diversity literally saves lives by ensuring that the Nation’s increasingly diverse population will be served by healthcare professionals competent to meet its needs.”

    Because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Harvard, the medical profession warned the justices, more people will die who otherwise would have lived.

    The Supreme Court, or rather the six justices appointed by Republican presidents, decided on Thursday to ignore the combined wisdom of many of the military’s seniormost former leaders, the shared wisdom of dozens of America’s greatest businesses, and the combined insights of the medical profession — not to mention the views of two of America’s greatest universities, both of which believed that students who are educated on more diverse campuses receive an inherently superior education that better prepares them for careers in business, medicine, the military, or elsewhere.

    […] today, six lawyers with little specialized expertise in business, education administration, national defense, or medicine, declared that they have found the answer to America’s longstanding questions about race and diversity — and that they know more than individuals and institutions with far greater expertise than someone who spends their days reading documents in a marble palace could ever have. […]

    The Court’s decision doesn’t simply prohibit the one kind of affirmative action program that the justices have historically allowed, it also raises a cloud of uncertainty over how, exactly, universities are supposed to run their admissions programs without being sued.

    Roberts writes, for example, that a university may consider “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise” when deciding who to admit. But, in the very next line of his opinion, he writes that “universities may not simply establish through application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today.”

    This appears to be an attempt to cut off a scenario where a university admits Black or Latino students in order to increase diversity on campus, then justifies those admissions decisions by pointing to applicant essays where the student wrote beautifully about their experience growing up as a person of color.

    But, as Justice Amy Coney Barrett warned at oral argument in the Harvard case, it is “slicing the salami very finely” to say that a university cannot give a slight preference to a student who checks a box on their application identifying themselves as Latino, but that the university can give a preference to the same student if they write an essay expressing pride in their Mexican American culture.

    Roberts’s opinion potentially subjects universities to lawsuits they cannot realistically defend against. How is a university that does admit a Mexican American student on the strength of such an essay supposed to prove in court that it did so because of the student’s eloquence, and not because of their race? […]

    More at the link.

    The Republican-appointed Supreme Court doofuses fucked up again.

  43. says

    Wonkette: “Supreme Court Strikes Down Affirmative Action For Everyone But Rich White People”

    The six rightwing justices on the US Supreme Court today ruled that affirmative action in college admissions violates the US Constitution, because they also want to believe the Constitution is magically “color blind,” despite its being written for and governing over a nation that has always been anything but.

    The Court’s decision specifically struck down affirmative action policies at Harvard and at the University of North Carolina that had been challenged by a rightwing legal group, but the ruling will apply to virtually all public and private universities and colleges, except for the weird ones like Hillsdale that reject all federal funding so they can discriminate all they want. The vote was 6-3 in the North Carolina case and 6-2 in the Harvard case. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who unlike some of her esteemed colleagues understands basic ethics rules, recused herself in the latter because she served on a board at Harvard.

    Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion that, in his fan fiction version of the United States of America, “the student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race.” He continued,

    Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.

    As with last year’s decision nullifying Roe v. Wade, the Court’s decision today erases decades of previous Supreme Court precedents going back to the 1970s, holding that the interests of having a diverse student body allows selective institutions of higher learning to make at least some consideration of race in admissions. In essence, the Supremes now agree with Tucker Carlson, who in 2018 just wanted to know why the hell diversity is even worth bothering with.

    […] Obviously, the only way to be fair is to go by students’ test scores and grades, which are completely objective and unbiased [/sarcasm], although of course it remains perfectly fine to give special treatment to children of alumni and big donors, because that’s how you guarantee a new Economics building gets funded. That’s not discrimination, it’s just a way of filling the Endowment’s quid pro quota.

    […] In a bizarre bit of hypocrisy, the decision carved out an exception for the nation’s service academies, because apparently having a diverse officer corps in the military is valuable in ways that eradicating white supremacy in medicine, law, science, and the liberal arts is not.

    In a furious 69-page dissent that she read from the bench — something justices only do when they’re well and truly pissed off at a majority’s terrible decision — Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Jackson and Justice Elena Kagan, castigated the majority, saying that it’s a “disturbing feature of today’s decision that the Court does not even attempt to make the extraordinary showing required” to overturn well-established precedent. But hey, that’s what Sam Alito did in the Dobbs decision, so obviously the rightwing majority can do what it wants.

    Getting right at the false premise at the heart of the majority decision — and at the center of pretty much every conservative fiction about race in America — Sotomayor wrote,

    The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment enshrines a guarantee of racial equality. The Court long ago concluded that this guarantee can be enforced through race-conscious means in a society that is not, and has never been, colorblind.

    She noted that ever since the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Court has recognized that discrimination is real and pernicious, and that prior decisions have affirmed affirmative action as a means of ensuring equal educational opportunity for all Americans. But in today’s decision, she said,

    the Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter. The Court subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.

    Sotomayor has described herself as “the perfect affirmative action child,” arguing that while affirmative action helped her gain admission to elite institutions like Princeton and Yale, her achievements are absolutely her own doing. She told students at Michigan State University in 2018, “Don’t look at how I got in. Look at what I did,” and urged them to focus on what they bring to their education:

    “You get in because you’re giving something of value to the community. […] And so is being different. So is coming from a background that a majority of students are not from. The question is not, how did I get in? It’s: What did I do when I got there? And with pride, I can say I graduated at the top of my class.”

    The Washington Post notes that in contrast to Sotomayor, Justice Clarence Thomas has said that

    he felt affirmative action made his diploma from Yale Law practically worthless; he has been a fierce opponent of racial preferences in his three decades on the court. “Racial paternalism … can be as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination,” he has written.

    Still as incredibly bitter as ever, Thomas read his own long concurrence with the majority opinion from the bench, claiming that the Harvard and UNC programs were “rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in the entering classes,” and that they “fly in the face of our colorblind Constitution and our nation’s equality ideal,” at least for the perfectly spherical, frictionless, colorless human beings in the airless zero-gravity environment he imagines America to be. While he was at it, he aimed particular scorn at Jackson, accusing her of believing that “almost all of life’s outcomes may be unhesitatingly ascribed to race.”

    In her own dissent (Page 209 in the opinion PDF) which she didn’t read from the bench, Justice Jackson specifically responded to Thomas’s “prolonged attack” and noted that Thomas

    “does not dispute any historical or present fact about the origins and continued existence of race-based disparity (nor could he), yet is somehow persuaded that these realities have no bearing on a fair assessment of ‘individual achievement.'”

    While she was at it, she wrote that Thomas “ignites too many more straw men to list, or fully extinguish, here,” and by golly she is definitely the far better writer, she wins. As to the majority’s declaration that the Constitution is colorblind, she added,

    “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”

    In conclusion, Jackson rules, Thomas drools, and things are now going to get a lot uglier before they get better, all in the name of an America that none of us actually live in, the end.

  44. says

    Newsmax Idiot Says Trump Couldn’t Have Done Crimes, He Was Drinking Diet Coke At The Time!

    https://www.wonkette.com/greg-kelly-trump-classified-documents

    The newest defense for Donald Trump stealing America’s secrets and then shaking them around at everybody like a senile 77-year-old […] is that he couldn’t possibly have been committing a crime on that Bedminster tape, because he was drinking Diet Coke at the time.

    Nobody drinks Diet Coke during crimes. Ever heard of somebody saying “Hey, wanna Diet Coke and Crime?” No you haven’t. Anybody ever sent you to the store for Diet Coke and crime tools? Nope. Because it is not possible.

    Mind you, this is not a defense Donald Trump came up with. Those are also very stupid. But this is the kind of stupid that can only come from Newsmax anchor Greg Kelly.

    Tell us, Normal Greg! [video at the link]

    GREG KELLY: Remember, what did The New York Times say about this kind of stuff? “The leaking of secrets has long been a favored tool of policy debate, political combat and diplomatic one-upmanship.” Finally, he asked for some refreshments. […]

    When you’re talking about, let’s have a few Diet Cokes, you don’t think you’re in the middle of a crime. And he was not in the middle of a crime.

    We’ll explain the Times reference in a second. Here’s how the segment ran:

    Greg excitedly exclaimed that for those who think they’ve got Trump dead to rights, “THEY DON’T!” He played the tape of Trump at Bedminster talking with the woman writing Mark Meadows’s biography, but cut it off before Trump pulled his pants down and started showing everybody his state secrets. Greg started babbling about the Steele Dossier and coups.

    After he bizarrely tried to start a conspiracy theory about troops at Trump’s inauguration turning their backs on him during his inaugural speech, Greg finally restarted the tape, then stopped again after Trump told Meadows’s biographer that his disclosure of the state secrets was “off the record.” Apparently Greg is under the impression that the disclosure of state secrets does not count if it is “off the record.”

    He tried to compare Trump disclosing state secrets to George W. Bush disclosing intelligence during the Iraq War, seemingly forgetting that Donald Trump is not president of the United States and does not have declassification or disclosure authority. He kept going back to this, because he knows the average Newsmax viewer’s IQ is too small to catch that glaring difference between the two situations. That’s what that New York Times thing in the block quote is about.

    After babbling a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton, he at last got to the part about Diet Coke, and how it’s physically impossible to crime while you are enjoying that refreshment. That’s just a scientific fact.

    You’d think Jack Smith would be filing emergency motions to drop his case and slinking away in shame right now, but he is not. He’s chugging along on this case, and also on his other case, which is focused on January 6 and Trump’s efforts to mount a coup to overthrow the government and overturn the election to retain power. He’s setting up meetings with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (“Find me 11,780 votes!”) and apparently Rudy Giuliani recently came in for a volunteer interview.

    […] Meanwhile, back on the classified docs homefront, ABC News reports that a prominent Trump aide named Susie Wiles is the person referenced in Smith’s indictment when it talks about Trump showing somebody a top secret classified map of a foreign country that they were not supposed to see. (She was called “PAC representative” in the indictment.) This is the other time in the indictment where Smith says Trump did show-and-tell with the documents he stole.

    Trump, in the indictment, is alleged to have shown the classified map of an unidentified country to Wiles while discussing a military operation that Trump said “was not going well,” while adding that he “should not be showing the map” to her and “not to get too close.”

    In response, Trump’s campaign spokesperson said unhinged North Korean news lady words about how Smith is somehow “attacking” Trump’s re-election campaign, we guess by mentioning that Trump disseminated state secrets to a top person working on his re-elect. It’s hard to parse their statement, it’s totally incoherent and hysterical.

    ABC News does note that if it was indeed Wiles Trump showed the map to, it could get kind of weird if one of the top people working to re-elect him also has to be a witness in his trial.

    Obviously none of this matters if Trump was drinking Diet Coke while he showed Wiles the map.

    Or if he said “Off the record.” […].

  45. says

    Sorry to hear that some of the people who regularly post on this thread live in areas that are seriously affected by awful air quality. I hope you get some rain that will diminish the awfulness.

    “Multiple U.S. cities suffer in air-quality index’s ‘very unhealthy’ purple zone.” Washington Post link

    As smoke from Canadian wildfires swept a thick haze and fueled dangerously poor air quality across the Midwestern and Eastern U.S. on Thursday, experts warn that this latest bout is unlikely to be the last.

    A historically intense wildfire season shows no signs of abating in Canada, and this week, some patches of the United States have experienced conditions unhealthy to anyone venturing outside in regions not accustomed to such hazards. While smoke stretching from the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic is forecast to clear in the coming days, out-of-control fires could continue to send plumes south and eastward for weeks to come.

    […] Wildfire smoke put nearly half of U.S. states under air quality alerts on Thursday, from Colorado to Vermont, Wisconsin to Georgia. Advisories were in place for all or parts of 23 states and the District of Columbia:

    Alabama, Colorado, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. […]

  46. says

    ‘Man Down!’: Surviving the Texas Heat in Prisons Without Air-Conditioning.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/29/us/texas-prisons-heat.html

    The record June heat has been particularly dangerous inside the state’s prisons, where indoor temperatures can top 110 degrees.

    On the third day of 100-degree temperatures last week, locked without air-conditioning in a Texas prison north of Houston, Joseph Martire said he began to feel overwhelmed. His breathing grew heavy.

    An inmate for nearly 16 years, Mr. Martire was expecting to be released in a few weeks. But it was so hot that day, he recalled, that he wondered if he would make it that long. He was covered in sweat and felt so lightheaded that he had to brace himself against a wall. At some point, he passed out.

    “It’s kind of weird getting woken up with fingers in your eyes and not knowing how you got there,” Mr. Martire, 35, said of the efforts to revive him by pressing on pressure points around his eyes. He was eventually moved to an air-conditioned emergency medical area. “They kept me there for two hours, drinking ice water, salt water, taking my temperature, making sure I was still alive,” he said.

    The weekslong June heat wave scorching Texas has been particularly brutal and dangerous inside the state’s sprawling prison system, where a majority of those incarcerated, and the guards who watch over them, have been struggling without air-conditioning.

    […] The superheated conditions inside many prisons — where temperatures can reach 110 degrees or above — have been a well-known problem for years, and not just in Texas. Across the South, prisons in habitually hot states like Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi also do not provide centralized air-conditioning in most cases, according to a 2019 report. And the heat dome that has settled in recent weeks over Texas has been increasingly shifting to the east, bringing extreme temperatures into those Southern states.

    In Texas, the Republican-controlled House this year proposed spending $545 million to install air-conditioning in the majority of state prisons that do not have it. The House also overwhelmingly approved a bill to require that the temperature in prisons be no higher than 85 degrees and no lower than 65. State law in Texas already requires county jails to keep the temperature within that range.

    The bill to require cooling died in the State Senate. And despite a record surplus, the final state budget did not include money specifically for prison air-conditioning, though state prison officials have been slowly expanding cooling facilities within their existing budgets.

    State Representative Terry Canales, a Democrat from South Texas, blamed the lack of action on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a conservative Republican who leads the Senate. Mr. Patrick’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

    “The narrative comes from the 1980s that we need to be tough on crime, and installing A.C. in prisons seems soft on inmates,” said Mr. Canales, who sponsored the temperature legislation and has brought bills to address prison heat in each of the last two legislative sessions.

    “The truth is the state is paying millions of dollars a year in heat-related lawsuits and we’re facing chronic corrections-officer shortages,” he added. “It’s not conservative. Being in prison in and of itself is a punishment. But nobody is signed up to be tortured.” […]

  47. Oggie: Mathom says

    Right now, it is about 80F, ‘sunny’, and so smokey that I can’t see the mountains on either side of the valley. I used to look forward to going to forest fires, working 16 or 17 hours a day (minus two 30-minute mandated breaks), smoking cigars, sweating, driving on scary-as-hell mountain roads, working checkpoints, and, of course, eating smoke. But I got paid for it. I was there voluntarily. I felt so sorry for the kids out for football practice in smoke so thick that visibility was down to a quarter of a mile. Weird to see these conditions in Northeastern PA. Luckily, this time, no smoke smell, but the burning eyes and scratchy throat are all there.

    But remember, this is Canada’s fault because they listened to the environmentalists. Or are woke. Or something.

  48. birgerjohansson says

    Homer Simpson may not need to endure his bald pate for much longer.
    The University of California at Irvine has identified the molecule osteopontin in hairy moles as a potential cure for hair loss.

    Irvine? Isn’t that where Gregory Benford (researcher, SF author) has been working?
    And Skeletor (aka senator Rick Scott, former Florida governor and allround bad person) will no longer look as scary as the withch-king of Angmar.

  49. Oggie: Mathom says

    Jack Smith looks to hit Trump with up to 45 new charges and indict attorneys: report
    Story by Gideon Rubin • 50m ago

    Donald Trump could soon be facing additional indictments from the Department of Justice, The Independent reports.

    The DOJ has made preparations for a “superseding indictment,” which are additional charges that may include allegations of more serious crimes against a defendant, according to the report, which cites sources familiar with the matter.

    Andrew Feinberg writes for The Independent that “Prosecutors are now prepared to ‘stack’ an ‘additional 30 to 45 charges’ on top of the 37-count indictment brought against Mr Trump on 8 June. They would do so using evidence against the ex-president that has not yet been publicly acknowledged by the department, including other recordings prosecutors have obtained which reveal Mr Trump making incriminating statements.”

    The decision over whether to pursue additional charges from a grand jury along with the venue in which they would be pursued, will likely hinge on the extent to which prosecutors believe the judge hearing the case is capable of acting as an impartial jurist, according to the report.

    Aileen Cannon’s impartiality is considered an open question after the Trump-appointed federal judge’s decisions in the case were overturned by the conservative 11th Circuit.

    Feinberg writes, “Additionally, it is understood that special counsel Jack Smith’s team is ready to bring charges against several of the attorneys who have worked for Mr. Trump, including those who aided the ex-president in his push to ignore the will of voters and remain in the White House despite having lost the 2020 election.”

    Among the most prominent potential indictment targets is Rudy Giuliani, who voluntarily met with prosecutors earlier this week, fueling speculation that the former Trump attorney and New York City mayor is looking to cut a deal.

    Trump and Giuliani are also believed to be targets of a Georgia probe focusing on efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

    Feinberg writes that “That probe, which is being conducted by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, is expected to result in multiple indictments which could be unveiled as early as next month. Ms Willis, who last year oversaw a special purpose grand jury probe into efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to reverse his loss to Mr Biden in Georgia, is reportedly considering indictments against the ex-president, his former attorney, top Republican figures in the state, as well as Mr Trump’s final White House chief of staff, ex-North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows.”

  50. Oggie: Mathom says

    Jack Smith looks to hit Trump with up to 45 new charges and indict attorneys: report
    Story by Gideon Rubin • 50m ago

    Donald Trump could soon be facing additional indictments from the Department of Justice, The Independent reports.

    The DOJ has made preparations for a “superseding indictment,” which are additional charges that may include allegations of more serious crimes against a defendant, according to the report, which cites sources familiar with the matter.

    Andrew Feinberg writes for The Independent that “Prosecutors are now prepared to ‘stack’ an ‘additional 30 to 45 charges’ on top of the 37-count indictment brought against Mr Trump on 8 June. They would do so using evidence against the ex-president that has not yet been publicly acknowledged by the department, including other recordings prosecutors have obtained which reveal Mr Trump making incriminating statements.”

    The decision over whether to pursue additional charges from a grand jury along with the venue in which they would be pursued, will likely hinge on the extent to which prosecutors believe the judge hearing the case is capable of acting as an impartial jurist, according to the report.

    Aileen Cannon’s impartiality is considered an open question after the Trump-appointed federal judge’s decisions in the case were overturned by the conservative 11th Circuit.

    Feinberg writes, “Additionally, it is understood that special counsel Jack Smith’s team is ready to bring charges against several of the attorneys who have worked for Mr. Trump, including those who aided the ex-president in his push to ignore the will of voters and remain in the White House despite having lost the 2020 election.”

    Among the most prominent potential indictment targets is Rudy Giuliani, who voluntarily met with prosecutors earlier this week, fueling speculation that the former Trump attorney and New York City mayor is looking to cut a deal.

    Trump and Giuliani are also believed to be targets of a Georgia probe focusing on efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

    Feinberg writes that “That probe, which is being conducted by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, is expected to result in multiple indictments which could be unveiled as early as next month. Ms Willis, who last year oversaw a special purpose grand jury probe into efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to reverse his loss to Mr Biden in Georgia, is reportedly considering indictments against the ex-president, his former attorney, top Republican figures in the state, as well as Mr Trump’s final White House chief of staff, ex-North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows.”

  51. Oggie: Mathom says

    Sorry for the double double double doub . . .

    [‘THUNK’]

    Sprry for the double post.

  52. birgerjohansson says

    “Joe Biden screws over car owners by blocking ‘right to repair’ law.”
    https://youtu.be/BfRPq_TC0t4
    Remember 2020 when Biden met corporate donors and assured them everything would remain as before? He kept that promise.
    The Young Turks are a good source of news as they are not affiliated with the Democratic party- they call out both sides.

  53. Reginald Selkirk says

    State Senator Arrested For Keying Car With ‘Biden Sucks’ Bumper Sticker

    Police arrested a Democratic Rhode Island State Senator last week after he allegedly keyed a car with a “Biden Sucks” bumper sticker.

    This incredibly stupid story comes from the Cranston Police Department in Rhode Island, which arrested State Senator Josh Miller for allegedly committing an act of vandalism/malicious injury to property on June 22. The incident occurred in a parking lot outside of a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop. The alleged victim caught Miller in the act, hearing the scraping sound and spotting Miller on the passenger side of his vehicle near a brand-new deep scratch. Miller denied it was him and made a quick getaway from the obviously pissed victim. In a fun twist of fate, it was the Re-Elect Josh Miller bumper sticker on Miller’s own vehicle which clued the victim in to the vandal’s identity…

  54. Reginald Selkirk says

    Turns Out the Supreme Court’s Gay Wedding Website Case May Be Based on a Lie

    The Supreme Court is set to deliver a ruling Friday—the final day of the term—about whether state anti-discrimination laws violate the First Amendment right to free speech. The decision could be a civil rights nightmare by allowing businesses open to the public to refuse to serve people based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation. The case at issue was already shady, but new reporting suggests it’s even more questionable than we knew.

    Lorie Smith is a Colorado website designer who, importantly, has never made wedding websites. However, she filed a lawsuit claiming that she wants to, but, because she opposes marriage equality, she disagrees with a state law that would make her accept gay clients. To be clear: This means Smith had not gotten in trouble with the state, she merely feared potential consequences down the line. She should not have standing to sue, but here we are. The court isn’t hearing the case on religious grounds, rather on free speech grounds, specifically whether state laws “compel an artist to speak or stay silent.” (Smith’s business name is 303 Creative; the case is 303 Creative v. Elenis.)

    In legal filings, Smith claimed that a man named Stewart contacted her on September 21, 2016, to do some wedding design work for him and his fiancé, Mike. On Thursday, the New Republic reported that the request was bogus—they contacted Stewart and he said he is straight, married to a woman (and was even in 2016), and never contacted Smith. And the timing is also suspect: Stewart’s purported request came in less than 24 hours after Smith first filed her lawsuit in state court…

  55. Reginald Selkirk says

    Decades-long Bet on Consciousness Ends

    A 25-year science wager has come to an end. In 1998, neuroscientist Christof Koch bet philosopher David Chalmers that the mechanism by which the brain’s neurons produce consciousness would be discovered by 2023. Both scientists agreed publicly on 23 June, at the annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) in New York City, that it is an ongoing quest — and declared Chalmers the winner…

  56. lumipuna says

    Re my 74,

    I haven’t commented on Finnish politics here for a while, in part because I’ve been busy and in part because the topic is so depressing.

    After the populism-driven election in early April, it took several weeks to confirm that the largest party Kok (National Coalition Party, fiscal conservatives) would indeed hold the prime minister’s seat, and form a rightwing coalition with the second largest party PS (the Finns Party, or whatever the fascists in question are called in English). The other option would’ve been a coalition between Kok and the SD (Social Democrats), who got almost as many seats as the fascists. Either way, it was going to be a difficult ideological compromise.

    It took until late June to finalize the new cabinet’s agenda, and to nominate and inaugurate the cabinet ministers. The agenda is heavy with anti-labor chipping and ill-advised austerity slashes, courtesy of the Kok. This betrays one of the core election promises by the PS, that there wouldn’t be cuts to worker’s rights or welfare benefits. In other words, the new coalition works exactly like the US Republican Party.

    Of course, the PS had sold their voters a vague populist fantasy that the (supposedly starving) economy could be saved by cutting billions from “immigration” and international development aid. This soon turned out to be fiction. Just like MAGA voters were shocked to learn that there’s no feasible way to make Mexico pay for the border wall, PS voters were shocked to learn that you can’t cut welfare for immigrants only, because that’d be blatantly unconstitutional.

    Overall, the agenda doesn’t seem to have much concrete to advance the PS agenda of dramatically curtailing immigration, free media and whatnot. Instead, several key cabinet positions have been given to the PS, and we can expect a lot of testing of the limits of the constitution, and testing the robustness of our institutions against fascism. Overall, the biggest concession to the PS fascist agenda seems to be that the Kok is accepting them as partners in serious mainstream politics (as mentioned in the Guardian story I linked), despite their increasingly on-the-nose open fascism, and the resulting shift of Overton Window with regard to fascism.

  57. says

    birgerjohansson @64, LOL!

    Oggie @65, people dear to me have COVID and live in areas where the smoke is prevalent. Terrible.

    Oggie @68, all good news. Bring on the indictments. It’s especially good if some of the attorneys are included.

    Reginald @75, it is gaslighting the public to even call themselves “No Labels.”

  58. says

    Ukraine Update: A Russian self-decapitation?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has frequently expressed admiration for Josef Stalin, very consciously linking his image with that of the late Soviet leader, whom Putin credits with “defeating Nazism” and saving Russia.

    This linkage—of the old regime with the new—has advanced to the point where RIA Novosti, the state-run news agency, has run opinion pieces suggesting that criticism of Stalin is “not just anti-Soviet but is also Russophobic, aimed at dividing and defeating Russia.” [Oh FFS]

    The mirroring of the Putin regime with that of Stalin may take an even darker turn in the wake of this past weekend’s Wagnerite attempted coup. Images of crowds cheering on the Wagnerites may be disturbing to Putin, but the images of border guards and Russian military units waving on the Wagnerite convoys en route to Moscow are an existential threat.

    Any dictator’s regime is dependent on a compliant military.

    Stalin’s response to any perceived threat to his regime was brutally direct. The Great Purge of 1936-38 is estimated to have claimed as many as 1.2 million victims. But one lesser-known impact of the Purge was how it left the Soviet Army woefully unprepared for the Nazi Invasion of 1941.

    Russia may be about to decapitate its already depleted and crucial mid-level officer corps even as Ukrainian attacks in numerous Russian sectors heat up. Ukraine has made additional tactical advances on the Tokmak and Velyka Novosilka fronts, and Ukraine has continued to reinforce a small force that has landed on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro River around Kherson.

    Russia has launched a local counterattack in the Donetsk region that has made minimal gains, and new Private Military Companies have reinforced Bakhmut. PMC Patriot (associated with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu), PMC Fakel (associated with multinational energy corporation Gazprom), and PMC Veterans are now known to be arriving in Bakhmut. [JFC, so many private military companies]

    We will focus on the Velyka Novosilka and Kherson fronts in today’s update. [map at the link]

    Velyka Novosilka represents a rapidly escalating battle. At the start of the counter-offensive in early June, Ukraine had committed three light infantry battalions to this sector of the front. Since that time, Ukraine has committed three armored brigades (4th Tank, 23rd/32nd Mechanized Brigades) with numerous additional heavy armored brigades geolocated to the rear of this area.

    Russia has similarly heavily reinforced this area starting with three infantry brigades, which have been strengthened by two brigades of “elite” naval infantry and a motor rifle battalion. A heavy commitment of reserves may represent as much as half of Russia’s operational reserve units. [map at the link]

    Two units committed in this area bear mentioning.

    First, the 501st Battalion of the 35th Marine Brigade, which has been detached from the main body and is operating independently at the far right (west) of the Ukrainian advance.

    The 501st BN has a rather infamous unit history and is in its second iteration during the Russo-Ukrainian War. The first iteration was fought as part of the defense of Mariupol in February and March 2022, but on April 4, the entire unit’s 277 surviving soldiers surrendered to Russian forces.

    A subsequent investigation of the incident by the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation absolved the soldiers who surrendered of any blame, stating they were misled by Sen. Lt. Kostiantyn Bezsmertnyi. [Yikes. That’s terrible.]

    Ukraine’s SBI alleges that Bezsmertnyi contacted Russian forces and was offered a cash reward for delivering the surrender of Ukrainian marines, which Bezsmertnyi delivered—by misleading the soldiers to believe they had been offered a humanitarian corridor through which to retreat. Bezsmertnyi is alleged to have continued to act in service of Russian forces, traveling to his native Berdyansk, where he contacted Ukrainian forces on two separate occasions, attempting to persuade them to surrender.

    Bezsmertnyi has been charged with treason and faces life imprisonment if captured and convicted. [Yes. He needs to be held accountable.]

    With the unit being wiped out at Mariupol, the 35th Marines gradually reconstituted the formation through transfers of veteran soldiers to serve as sergeants in the new unit as well as highly trained recruits. The 501st BN aims to restore its reputation as an elite Marine formation.

    Meanwhile, an entirely new unit with no history at all, the 31st Mechanized Brigade, liberated Rivnopil on June 26. Those new soldiers are now pressing down the left flank of the Russian main position at Staromaiorske.

    The 31st MB is a new brigade that stood up during spring 2023, but it is not NATO-equipped or trained. Having a collection of T-64BV tanks and U.S.-made MaxxPro Armored Transports in support, it is predominantly equipped with upgraded Soviet-era equipment, one of many new units that Ukraine prepared for the offensive.

    Russian command clearly recognized the importance of Rivnopil in defending the left flank of Russian positions along the T0518 highway, running south from Velyka Novosilka. The spokesman for the 31st MB described a complex maze of heavily mined positions encircling the village.

    Shortly after the 31st MB and 23rd MB appeared on the Russian left flank, Russian propaganda declared a great victory, saying that both brigades had suffered such crippling losses that Ukraine was forced to combine the two formations to keep functional numbers in the field.

    This bit of propaganda has proven laughably false as the 31st MB and its sappers (combat engineers) deftly penetrated the minefields protecting Rivnopil’s flanks. The Russian troops defending the village retreated, and the 31st MB secured the village without requiring a costly frontal assault.

    The fighting has now shifted to securing the small road that connects Rivnopil to Russia’s primary defensive positions around Staromaiorsk and Urozhaine as the 32nd MB and 35th Marines attempt to gain control of the roadway—and make a path to flank Staromaiorske. [satellite imagery at the link]

    With the road running through nothing but a series of farm fields, there’s some clarity as to why Russia heavily mined and protected the small village of Rivnopil, and why the loss of that position may seriously imperil the current Russian defensive position.

    Ukraine is getting closer to dislodging Russia from its defenses around Staromaiorske. Once the village falls, only the village of Zavitne Bazhannya and a mere 3 kilometers will be in the way before Ukraine reaches its initial goal of Staromlynivka.

    To the east of Staromlynivka, Ukraine’s 4th Tank Brigade has been trying to drive an attack into the flank of the Russian position at Oleshky. Ukrainian sources continue to report progress.

    The Russian defense line in this area lies just south of Staromlynivka. it consists of a single line of Russian defenses, a far cry from the multilayered rings of defenses north of Tokmak. [maps at the link]

    Meanwhile, pro-Russian blogger Rybar has been reporting an advance by a small group of Ukrainian troops that has crossed the Dnipro River close to Kherson by the remains of the Antonivskyi bridge. [Tweet at the link]

    To understand what is going on in this area, it is important to understand the geography of this position. [map at the link]

    The small village of Dachy is in this area, but this village has reportedly been abandoned by its residents. The remains of the Antonivka Road Bridge run between Dachi and Kherson to the north over the Dnipro River, which is around 1500 meters (just under a mile) wide at the location of the bridge.

    The river also narrows considerably to 500-600 m slightly downstream.

    We know it is feasible to construct a pontoon bridge in this area as the Russian army did so last fall, running one almost under the bridge, which partially shielded the pontoon bridge from missile attacks.

    Ukrainian troops have taken up positions in the area north of the Konka River. There is a network of small streams running through this area, and much marshland terrain. A road runs south into the town of Oleshky, with a pre-war population of 24,000.

    Ukrainian sources remain mum to an extreme on this topic, but pro-Russian bloggers like Rybar and Vladimir Romanov appear to be in agreement that Ukrainian forces have placed at least a company-level force (100-200 troops) in this area. They also report the presence of a platoon of three to four Ukrainian tanks operating in the area. I have yet to see any credible visual confirmation.

    A counterattack by Russia by company-level strength forces was attempted and defeated by Ukrainian forces. [Tweet and video at the link]

    So, what to make of this?

    First, I have seen Ukrainian sources I consider significantly less credible (due to past performance) claim that Ukrainian troops have pontoon bridges in place not only around Antonivka, but also a supposed second pontoon bridge around Nova Kakhovka. I do not consider these claims credible without some kind of visual confirmation that I doubt is forthcoming.

    Construction of a pontoon bridge, particularly one that spans hundreds of meters, is a hazardous and difficult undertaking. For example, in 1996, the U.S. Army built a pair of pontoon bridges totaling 550 m to cross the Sava River in order to secure a passage into Bosnia as NATO peacekeepers. The task took the U.S. engineers three days, which was considered exemplary.

    There are modern, more rapid bridging technologies available, but most cannot cross a span more than 200-300 m, and the Dnipro is so wide that even at its narrowest points, only a traditional pontoon bridge is sufficient to secure a crossing. Even assuming Ukrainian engineers can match the speed of the U.S. Engineering Corps, it would likely take a minimum of three to four days to build a pontoon bridge across the Dnipro.

    A pontoon bridge is a must, as sustaining an armored brigade or larger unit across the river is impractical without supplies. Furthermore, it would be wholly impractical to attempt to construct such a crossing under Russian artillery and mortar fire. Russian units have greater difficulties striking targets more than 10 km behind enemy lines, as it takes the target out of the range of Russian mortars, MLRS, and smaller-caliber artillery.

    Thus, at a minimum, to begin construction of a pontoon bridge, Ukraine likely needs to establish a defensive perimeter with at least a 10 km radius around the pontoon construction site. For Antonivka, this would involve capturing Oleshky and several small surrounding villages. [map at the link]

    Given the vulnerabilities of the beachhead to Russian mortar and artillery fire, I consider it highly unlikely that Ukraine has already established any kind of pontoon crossing. If Ukraine continues to reinforce the region and manages to capture Oleshky, or credible reports of Ukraine starting to establish a pontoon bridge emerge, I think it is worth paying attention to this area as a serious possible harbinger of a cross-Dnipro offensive.

    Conversely, if Ukrainian troops remain north of the Konka River and simply hold their positions, it seems likely that these operations are fixing operations intended to prevent Russia from moving its forces in this area to wherever they are needed.

    Until any evidence appears to the contrary, I consider this operation likely to be a slightly larger-scale harassment/fixing operation by Ukraine, perhaps intended to draw Russian artillery into counterbattery fire. Ukraine appears to have heavily emphasized degrading Russia’s artillery arm in recent weeks.

    More Ukraine updates coming soon.

  59. says

    CNBC:

    The U.S. economy showed much stronger-than-expected growth in the first quarter than previously thought, according to a big upward revision Thursday from the Commerce Department. Gross domestic product increased at a 2% annualized pace for the January-through-March period, up from the previous estimate of 1.3% and ahead of the 1.4% Dow Jones consensus forecast.

    Good economic news.

  60. Oggie: Mathom says

    Lynna:

    Oggie @65, people dear to me have COVID and live in areas where the smoke is prevalent. Terrible.

    I almost had recovered from COVID (I had it back in January) — it takes me a long time after COVID to get my lungs working at full tilt again. This smoke has taken me back to the way my lungs felt/worked back in February.

  61. says

    Politico:

    Jens Stoltenberg is set to stay on as NATO’s chief for another year, four people familiar with the decision told POLITICO. A U.S. official said the secretary general’s leadership extension is ‘a done deal.’ Asked if that was the case, a senior diplomat from Western Europe said ‘yes,’ adding it ‘will be formalized next week.

    In other international news, many thanks to lumipuna @77 for the update. Sorry to hear the “on-the-nose open fascism” confirmed.

  62. says

    Oggie @81, sorry to hear that. Perfectly understandable that the smoke would give your lungs a problem.

    In other news, here is an update on Trump’s proposed media merger:

    Against an avalanche of investigations surrounding Donald Trump, there’s the other one that’s easy to forget: Federal officials, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, have spent months examining a pending deal between Trump’s media company and a special purpose acquisition company.

    In fact, as CNBC reported this morning, there have been some developments in the probe.

    Three Florida men were charged Thursday with insider trading of a shell company’s stock before it announced plans to merge with a social media firm launched by former President Donald Trump. The men, Michael Shvartsman, Gerald Shvartsman, and Bruce Garelick, allegedly netted more than $22 million in illicit profits from trading in shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp

    The same report added that the Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a civil complaint against the trio — including Garelick, a DWAC board member — as well as Rocket One Capital LLC, a venture capital firm owned by Michael Shvartsman.

    According to prosecutors, this appears to be a relatively straightforward case of alleged insider trading: Garelick and the Shvartsmans had non-public information, including updates on DWAC’s plan to buy Trump Media & Technology Corp., and they allegedly used that information in their lucrative investment strategies.

    […] Two weeks earlier, The Washington Post reported that if DWAC and the Trump Media & Technology Corp. complete their deal, “an obscure financial entity with connections to a Caribbean-island bank that bills itself as a top payment service for adult entertainment sites would gain a sizable stake” in the former president’s media company.

    The report added that the entity — the ES Family Trust — had not officially disclosed the role it would assume in the Trump Media and Technology Group. The Post went on to report that the companies “also have not disclosed to shareholders or the SEC that Trump Media paid a $240,000 finder’s fee for helping to arrange the $8 million loan deal with ES Family Trust — or that the recipient of that fee was an outside brokerage associated with Patrick Orlando, then Digital World’s CEO.”

    I have a hunch some readers are saying right about now, “Um, Steve, I have no idea what you’re writing about.”

    […] It was nearly two years ago when the former president and his team launched the Trump Media & Technology Group, which appeared to have bold, multimedia ambitions: It said it intended to compete with both Twitter and Netflix. To that end, the operation even hired a high-profile CEO: Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, despite his lack of media experience, announced he’d resign from Congress to lead the nascent company.

    It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. The Twitter-like Truth Social app was plagued by technical difficulties and missed deadlines. Some top executives’ resignations made matters worse, and there’s little to suggest the platform is gaining traction in any meaningful way.

    But the most dramatic problem relates to the venture’s financing.

    Because the former president has a history of bankruptcies and loan defaults, he couldn’t simply go to a major American financial institution to help bankroll his media venture. So, Trump agreed to merge his operation with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), called Digital World Acquisition Corp. As The New York Times reported a while back, “To get his deal done, Mr. Trump ventured into an unregulated and sometimes shadowy corner of Wall Street, working with an unlikely cast of characters.”

    Investigators’ interest soon followed.

    As for why all of this matters, Trump really wants this deal to work out. Axios reported last year, “Truth Social’s financial prospects are heavily reliant on investment tied to the merger.”

    Whether the merger will ever happen remains uncertain. CNBC’s report added, “As of Thursday, more than 18 months after the heady days of DWAC’s brief surge, the promised merger had not happened yet. Instead, DWAC has struggled to raise money from investors amid multiple federal investigations into its practices and its funding.”

    Link

  63. says

    Followup to comment 79.

    More Ukraine updates:

    Some of the lasting memories of the Wagner Uprising may be the scene of so many people providing adoring applause to the Wagnerites as they left Rostov. Putin had just given several national addresses where he had branded those participating in the uprising as traitors, yet leader Yevgeny Prigozhin too was given a hero’s sendoff. [video at the link]

    Any illusion that Putin’s regime enjoyed broad popular support was shattered overnight. But for Putin, what ultimately may have been most disturbing of all may have been the sight of numerous Russian army units simply waving Wagner forces on as they drove past checkpoint after checkpoint, unopposed, on their way to Moscow.

    Yet Putin need not worry about the prospect of losing an election. A brief look at past “elections” in Russia shows how Putin systematically imprisons or exiles any realistic challengers to his power. When 14% ethnically Russian Kherson Oblast (per the Ukrainian Census) reportedly voted a supposed 88% in favor of annexation by Russia on 77% turnout, any conception of voting in Russia as a reflection of reality should be quickly tossed out, at least as it applies to any office or issue that Putin’s regime views as important.

    However, as the Wagner coup demonstrated, those with military power have the means of deposing Putin. Loyalty within the Russian military is quite literally a matter of life and death for Putin’s survival.

    One of those first major dominos may have fallen. Reports have begun to come in that Gen. Sergey Surovikin, also known as “General Armageddon” and “the Butcher of Syria,” has been removed from the Russian military. This information, along with prior reports of Surovikin’s arrest, remain unconfirmed. [Tweet and photo at the link]

    On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence believed that Surovikin knew of the Wagnerite uprising in advance, and may have participated in the planning. My personal opinion is that Surovikin’s participation in the planning of the Wagner uprising would explain some key questions that I had after the revolt, like:
    – Why was the Wagnerite uprising so strategically sound?
    – Why did Prigozhin seemingly abruptly give up so close to Moscow without a fight?

    First, I found the planning and execution of the Wagner uprising to be astonishingly competent. Rather than driving straight for Moscow, first securing Roston-on-Don to secure a key logistics hub to the entire southern theater was a sound first move in a coup.

    It simultaneously paralyzed any reserve elements directly to Wagner’s rear; implicitly threatened the destruction of armies of Russia in Crimea, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts; and secured the supplies and fuel stockpiled in the rail hub.

    Wagner appears to have done an excellent job of ensuring air cover with surface-to-air missile batteries, shooting down multiple fixed-wing and rotary aircraft en route toward Moscow. But having captured two major cities, advancing nearly unopposed for 800 km, and just a couple hours’ drive from Moscow, Prigozhin ordered the Wagner troops to turn around. A truce was negotiated.

    My big question was between the time Prigozhin announced his “March of Justice” and when he stood down on Saturday, what did he learn that convinced him to give up?

    It may have been Surovikin urging Wagner forces to give up, publicly signaling that Surovikin supported the Putin regime in the uprising. [Tweet and video at the link]

    It has been pointed out that even had Wagner succeeded in capturing Moscow, prospects of success looked unlikely without the support of the Russian military. Putin reported had already fled to his bunker outside St. Petersburg, and there is little reason to think that Prigozhin’s targets—Ministry of Defense leaders Gen. Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Shoigu—would idly sit by in Moscow waiting to be arrested by Wagner forces.

    But Wagner’s prospects might have been very different had Wagner had the support of key members of the Russian military. That may have been Prigozhin’s understanding when he launched the coup.

    Surovikin is the former overall commander of Russian forces in the “special operation,” and the commander of Russian Aerospace Forces. He is among a handful of the most powerful leaders in the Russian military.

    Surovikin was well known for his sympathy for Prigozhin and the Wagnerites, which was presented quite publicly in the past. U.S. intelligence suggests that Surovikin may have been motivated by antagonism of what he saw as incompetence at the highest levels of the Ministry of Defense, and a desire for reform that would not be forthcoming under Putin’s regime.

    But hypothetically, had Surovikin been part of the planning of the uprising, why would he abruptly abandon the uprising after it started?

    While Surovikin controls the Russian Aerospace Forces, he would not have any direct authority over key military units within striking distance of Moscow or St. Petersburg. To rapidly secure the political centers of Russia, Surovikin and Prigozhin would likely need more than just Wagner and the Russian Air Force.

    Surovikin likely would have been in the role of persuading other key commanders to join the uprising. A failure in such an effort may have persuaded Surovikin to abandon the venture. And Prigozhin would have been aware that Surovikin’s abandonment of the uprising likely spelled its ultimate failure.

    Surovikin was widely regarded by American intelligence as one of Russia’s most brutal and effective field commanders. His participation would go a long way toward explaining the uprising’s sound operational planning.

    Surovikin also was one of the only general officers in the Russian army to publicly take a stance on the uprising, urging the Wagnerites to lay down their arms. Most Russian officers appeared to be laying low, waiting to see how things would develop.

    […] Pro-Russian blogger Rybar, who has numerous contacts within the Russian military, reports that Surovikin has had no contact with his family since Sunday—the day after the end of the Wagner uprising. It now appears that Surovikin has been removed from the Russian military. His fate is unknown.

    It is important to remember, however, that many of the organizations that have a say in Surovikin’s fate have reasons to want to see him fall from grace.
    – The United States would like to see Putin degrade the abilities of the Russian Army through a politically motivated purge. As previously noted, Surovikin is widely regarded as a brutal and effective field commander, so his removal would weaken the Russian military.
    – The Russian Ministry of Defense’s leadership would like to see Surovikin fall, as Surovikin represents internal opposition to their domination, and a dangerous threat in the future.
    – Putin himself may want to remove Surovikin as a show of “strength.” Surovikin makes a convenient scapegoat for the uprising. Unable to punish Wagner’s leadership owing to the terms of his truce deal, Surovikin is one of the few high-profile individuals not protected under the terms of the deal who Putin can punish.

    Thus, statements by any of these parties regarding Surovikin should be regarded with a measure of skepticism without strong material proof and corroborating testimony from trustworthy individuals. There has been very little of that i[…]

    As noted above, if the Russian military had any role in the uprising, then Russian intelligence services are likely investigating links between Surovikin and other officers in the Russian military.

    Rybar reports: “The armed insurgency by the Wagner private military company has become a pretext for a massive purge in the ranks of the Russian armed forces.” These reports are also unconfirmed, but Rybar suggests a purge of mid-level officers (colonels and lieutenant colonels) is being conducted, focusing on units that showed reluctance to engage Wagner forces during the uprising.

    In the past, Putin has shown more readiness to punish mid-level officers over general officers. It may be that general officers in the Russian military have risen far enough to have political connections and protectors. […]

    If the Russian military comes to believe a larger network of supporters for the Wagner uprising exists among the Russian military, or if Putin questions the general loyalty of those who expressed past support for Wagner, a purge of mid-level officers might be forthcoming.

    Such a move would be straight out of Joseph Stalin’s playbook, a man for whom Putin has expressed frequent admiration. A Putinist purge may cripple the Russian military as badly as Stalin’s Great Purge once did.

    The impact of Stalin’s Great Purge of 1936-38 was far broader than what befell the Red Army.

    The Purge began with show trials and executions of opposition elements in the highest reaches of the Communist Party, but expanded to claim victims in every part of Soviet society. Victims were heaviest among ethnic or religious minorities and Soviet satellite states, but the 1.2 million victims of the Purge included numerous Russian victims as well.

    The palpable fear of this era is communicated by the great Russian writer and Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who relays a story he heard in a dissidents’ gulag in Siberia. Recorded in Solzhenitsyn’s memoir “The Gulag Archipelago,” it involves an elderly communist official who had been exiled to the same camp.

    The story goes that the man had gone to attend the Congress of the Communist Party in 1937, at the height of the Great Purge. Even among the Communist Party elite, the fear was palpable; everyone understood that their every move was being scrutinized by the KGB.

    Stalin of course gave a speech at the congress, and of course, every member of the congress stood to give a rousing standing ovation. Five minutes passed, then 10 minutes, yet the applause continued unabated.

    Every person in that room was terrified to be the first to stop clapping.

    Finally, that exhausted elderly party official stopped clapping and sat down. Shortly thereafter, the entire congress sat down. The elderly party official was arrested and subjected to brutal questioning by the KGB, then exiled to Siberia.

    Solzhenitsyn notes that a bell was installed in the Soviet Congress Building in 1937. Three minutes after the end of Stalin’s speeches, the bell would be rung. Then all the attendees would stop clapping and sit down in unison.

    Such was the atmosphere of fear that Stalin cultivated during the Purge. The military leadership might have been targeted hardest of all. Stalin understood that of all the elements of Soviet society, the military had the most potential to overthrow him. […]

    The numbers themselves tell enough of a story. Historian Catherine Merridale notes, in her seminal book “Ivan’s War,” the devastating impact the Purge had on the Red Army’s leadership.

    Between 1937 to 1938, 4 out of 5 generals, 13 of 15 lieutenant generals, 50 of 57 major generals, and 153 out of 186 brigadier generals were purged—whether executed, imprisoned, or exiled to Siberia. Clearing out a large proportion of the general officers of the Russian Army then permitted Stalin to install people whom Stalin believed to have the highest loyalty and political reliability.

    The impact on Soviet military readiness was devastating. The Red Army struggled mightily in the Winter War that Stalin started with Finland in 1939. Despite a massive advantage in men and materiel, the Finns fought the Red Army to a near-stalemate.

    But the greatest impact was felt through the utter collapse of the Red Army in its initial battles with Nazi Germany in 1941. It is a common misconception that the German Army’s push into the Soviet Union was somehow impossible to stop, and that the Soviet “strategy” of drawing the Germans deep into their territory was some kind of necessity.

    Soviet war plans did not contemplate any such move, and from a material standpoint, it seemed there was no reason to. In June 1941, the Soviets had nearly three times as many tanks as the Germans, more artillery, more aircraft, and near parity in the number of troops. While the Germans enjoyed some qualitative advantages in materiel, nothing indicates on paper that the Germans crushing Red Army positions was somehow inevitable.

    Yet the initial battles of the Red Army were utterly disastrous. Stalin’s complacency in his belief that Hitler would honor the nonaggression pact for a few more years was a factor, but the utter incompetence of the Red Army leadership is often pointed to as the critical issue with its collapse.

    In a matter of weeks, over a million Red Army troops were captured, front-line Red Army units were all but annihilated, and German troops advanced to the gates of Moscow and Leningrad by September. Only Hitler’s strategic indecision and incompetence in dispersing German combat power across three fronts, rather than a focused push on key strategic objectives, saved the Soviet Union.

    […] If Putin believes that he can purge the mid-level officers of the Russian Army without much consequence, he is likely deeply mistaken. Colonels and higher-ranked officers of the Russian Army have a significance unique to the Russian system of command.

    In the Russian army, unlike in NATO-style armies, personal initiative by lower-ranking officers is actively discouraged. Young officers are given strict and detailed instructions on how to carry out their missions, which they are expected to fulfill to the letter. Diversion from those orders results in punishment.

    The lowest level of officers given tactical discretion are colonel-level officers who hold battalion-level commands (600-1,000 troops). Much like in other militaries worldwide, colonel-level officers are sent to the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, where they ordinarily receive around two years of additional training to prepare them for their new command responsibilities. This is after generally 10-15 years of service and experience.

    However, Russia has been losing colonel-level officers at a rapid rate in the Russo-Ukrainian War. By November 2022, Russia had lost 160 officers of colonel level or higher, with losses among lieutenant colonels and colonels representing the vast majority.

    Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claims that Russia operated around 170 Battalion Tactical Groups in 2021, thus it’s reasonable to assume that Russia had perhaps 170 well trained front-line commanding officers of around colonel rank. Perhaps double that number, including their deputies or other officers awaiting command, would provide Russia with, at most, 400 or so trained colonels for battalion command.

    With HIMARS strikes actively targeting battalion headquarters (which ordinarily are relatively close to the front lines), Russia may have lost as much as nearly half of its competent front-line commanders.

    And Putin may be about to lobotomize the brains of the Russian Army’s front-line units.

    If Putin chooses to begin purging elements of the Russian mid-level officers seeking out those who are deemed less politically reliable, this degradation of Russia’s colonel-level officers may have fatal effects on the basic leadership competence of the Russian Army.

    Link.

    Scroll down to view updates.

  64. says

    Moscow Times – “Diplomatic Protest After Russian Strike Injures Colombians in Ukraine”:

    Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said Wednesday that his country would send a note of diplomatic protest to Russia after three Colombians were injured in a missile strike that killed 12 in Ukraine.

    Petro said on Twitter that “Russia has attacked three defenseless Colombian civilians. In so doing, it violated the protocols of war.”

    He added that Columbia’s foreign ministry will deliver a note of diplomatic protest to Moscow.

    Three children were among the dead and at least 60 people were injured in Tuesday’s rocket strike on the Ria Pizza restaurant in the town of Kramatorsk.

    The three injured Colombians are decorated writer Hector Abad Faciolince, former Colombian peace negotiator Sergio Jaramillo and journalist Catalina Gomez.

    Abad and Jaramillo were in Kramatorsk on a mission to express Latin American solidarity with the people of Ukraine amid Russia’s war.

    On social media, they said they had been with prominent Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina, who was critically injured in the strike.

    Petro had previously opposed sending weapons to support Ukraine against Russia’s aggression and has spoken in favor of a negotiated solution….

    Mykhailo Podolyak responded on Twitter to Petro’s tweet (setting aside the animal language…):

    Es importante que América Latina entienda por fin la esencia de la agresión rusa y por qué es desventajoso seguir “vitoreando” el prorrusismo. El presidente colombiano @petrogustavo capta con bastante claridad la bajeza de los rusos. El axioma es que al caníbal ruso no le importa a quién mata. Y esto es una clara señal para cualquiera que espere entrar en la jaula con la bestia y encontrar un terreno común con ella. La única manera de pacificar al agresor y hacerle responder por sus crímenes es ponerse del lado de Ucrania y ayudarnos a detener esta invasión.

  65. says

    Jewish Currents (no relation) – “The Hindu Nationalists Using the Pro-Israel Playbook”:

    Inspired by Jewish groups that cast criticism of Israel as antisemitism, Hindu American organizations are advancing a concept of “Hinduphobia” that puts India beyond reproach….

    Too much to excerpt, including a discussion of leftwing groups from both traditions allying to counter this effort. Another interesting section discusses this news, which I don’t recall seeing in February – “Seattle becomes first U.S. city to ban caste discrimination” (NBC):

    The Seattle City Council on Tuesday added caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws, becoming the first U.S. city to specifically ban caste discrimination.

    Calls to outlaw discrimination based on caste, a division of people based on birth or descent, have grown louder among South Asian diaspora communities in the United States. But the movement is getting pushback from some Hindu Americans who argue that such legislation maligns a specific community.

    Proponents of the ordinance that was approved by a 6-1 vote Tuesday say caste discrimination crosses national and religious boundaries and that without such laws, those facing caste discrimination in the U.S. will have no protections.

    The ordinance is a contentious issue, especially among the nation’s South Asian diaspora. Supporters argue it is needed because caste is not covered under existing civil rights protections. Groups opposing the measure say it will malign a community that is already the target of prejudice.

    Council member Kshama Sawant, a socialist and the only Indian American on the City Council, said the ordinance, which she proposed, does not single out one community, but it accounts for how caste discrimination crosses national and religious boundaries.

    Activists on different sides of the issue began arriving in Seattle well ahead of Tuesday’s City Council meeting. As early as last week, more than 100 people had put in requests to speak at the meeting. Early Tuesday, several activists braved cold temperatures and wind gusts to line up outside City Hall so they would get a chance to speak to the council before the vote. But the council restricted public comment at the meeting.

    The origins of the caste system in India can be traced back 3,000 years as a social hierarchy based on one’s occupation and birth. It is a system that has evolved over the centuries under Muslim and British rule. The suffering of those who are at the bottom of the caste pyramid — known as Dalits — has continued. Caste discrimination has been prohibited in India since 1948, a year after the nation’s independence from British rule.

    Dalit activists from Seattle and beyond rallied at Seattle City Hall in support of the ordinance, said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, founder and executive director of California-based Equality Labs.

    “The fact that we’re here, the fact that we had over 150 organizations sign in their support coming from every corner of movements … it is so clear that this is a workers’ issue, a feminist issue, a queer issue and Dalit people are not alone,” she told NBC News.

    The U.S. is the second most popular destination for Indians living abroad, according to the Migration Policy Institute, which estimates the U.S. diaspora grew from about 206,000 in 1980 to about 2.7 million in 2021. The group South Asian Americans Leading Together reports that nearly 5.4 million South Asians live in the U.S. — up from the 3.5 million counted in the 2010 census. Most trace their roots to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

    Over the past three years, several colleges and university systems have moved to prohibit caste discrimination.

    In December 2019, Brandeis University near Boston [love Brandeis] became the first U.S. college to include caste in its nondiscrimination policy. The California State University System, Colby College, Brown University and the University of California, Davis have all adopted similar measures. Harvard University instituted caste protections for student workers in 2021 as part of its contract with its graduate student union.

    The Seattle measure had the support of Dalit activist-led organizations like Equality Labs and others. The groups say caste discrimination is prevalent in diaspora communities manifesting itself in the form of social alienation and discrimination in housing, education and the tech sector where South Asians hold key roles.

    Opposition to the ordinance came from groups such as the Hindu American Foundation and the Coalition of Hindus of North America who say it unnecessarily singles-out a community already vulnerable to discrimination in the U.S.

    Fifty percent of Dalits in the U.S. live in fear of their caste being “outed,” according to research by Equality Labs.

    Soundararajan said that the source for discrimination isn’t strictly from higher castes like Hindus. Dalits are also targeted in other South Asian religions.

    “The South Asian community and Seattle want to heal and I think it’s such a profound thing to know that the democratic majority is in favor of this issue,” Soundararajan said.

    I’m having a hard time coming up with a more generic characterization of or term for “caste.” Isabel Wilkerson’s analysis in Caste could be helpful or totally unhelpful… Maybe it needs to be specific. Hm…

  66. Reginald Selkirk says

    Iran Admits Its Quantum Computer Had Zero Quantum in It

    A few weeks ago, Iran broke through worldwide media due to its announcement that the country had successfully developed and deployed quantum computing products to aid in its military operations. But even as Iran’s Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari smiled at the cameras present in the announcement, the tech world was quick to notice that the gold-plaqued board being showcased as an example of the country’s work on quantum computing was nothing more than an Amazon-available, ARM-based FPGA (Field-Programable Gate Array) development board…

  67. Reginald Selkirk says

    Missouri ordered to pay $242K for open records law violations while Josh Hawley was attorney general

    The Missouri attorney general’s office has been ordered to pay $242,000 in legal fees for violations of the state’s open records law that occurred when U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley held the office.

    Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled in November 2022 that the attorney general’s office violated the open records law when documents were withheld from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the Republican Hawley’s successful Senate campaign in 2018.

    Pedroli suggested that Hawley should apologize and pay the bill with proceeds from his book, “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs.” …

  68. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mississippi prosecutor who excluded Black jurors is resigning after more than 30 years

    A white Mississippi district attorney has resigned after more than 30 years on the job, during which he prosecuted a Black man six times in the shooting deaths of four people and excluded Black people from juries in a practice that led the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the man’s conviction and death sentence.

    Doug Evans is stepping down Friday, six months before his term ends. He did not immediately return a phone call Thursday seeking comment…

  69. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Seth Abramson’s rant about the affirmative action SCOTUS ruling

    […] dripping with studied ambiguities, feigned helplessness, burden-shifting, semiotic drift […] Every sentence in this opinion contradicts another one. Every maxim stated as unyielding is terminally flimsy or absurd on its face. Every historical precedent is misdrawn. Every analogy is bad. Every presumption is false. Every standard set immediately shifts.

    It’s all garbage. […]

  70. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cases of canine influenza increase in Minnesota, but vaccine in short supply

    Canine influenza is suspected of infecting nearly 300 dogs in Minnesota since April, when the outbreak of the highly contagious virus was first reported. It’s the largest canine disease outbreak in decades.

    “For dog disease in Minnesota, it’s the biggest news for the past 40 years at least,” said Graham Brayshaw, director of veterinarian medicine at the Animal Humane Society.

    That’s why the state Board of Animal Health this month encouraged dog owners to talk to their vets about the canine influenza vaccine to protect their pups and stop the spread.

    But there’s still a widespread shortage of shots in the state and nationwide, though supply has increased. Last week, a canine influenza vaccine clinic at the Animal Humane Society sold out immediately…

  71. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘They do not want our voice’: Idaho GOP OKs less power for women, young Republicans


    The party leaders adopted a new rule allowing central committees — statewide and local governing bodies, similar to boards of directors — to punish elected Republicans who deviate from the GOP platform. They also eliminated voting authority on the party’s executive committee for three groups that represent Republican women and young voters. And GOP leaders endorsed a plan to hold a caucus next year to select a Republican nominee for president…

  72. Reginald Selkirk says

    Finnish nationalist minister resigns over Nazi references

    Finland’s economy minister Vilhelm Junnila resigned on Friday just 10 days into his term in office, the nationalist Finns Party said, after being accused of making repeated Nazi references.

    “For the continuation of the government and the reputation of Finland, I see that it is impossible for me to continue as a minister in a satisfactory way,” Junnila said in a statement.

    He is a member of the Finns Party, part of a right-wing coalition that took office on June 20 after an April election…

  73. Reginald Selkirk says

    The fascists have a problem with black women.
    Jesse Watters’ Onstage Remark Questioning Gender of Kamala Harris Puts Event in Damage Control

    Fox News talk host Jesse Watters made a joke questioning the gender of Vice President Kamala Harris at an annual insurance industry conference earlier this year, prompting some nervous laughter but later sending the event into damage control, including the sidelining of the executive who conducted the interview, according to a CNN report…

    I remember all the conspiracy theories about how Michelle Obama was really a man.

  74. Oggie: Mathom says

    Trump 2024 campaign aide who viewed classified docs linked to Chinese lobbying firm

    Story by Gideon Rubin • Yesterday 6:34 PM

    But remember, folks, it is the libs who are always endangering national security . . .

    Former US President Donald Trump gestures after delivering remarks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey, on June 13, 2023. – ED JONES/Getty Images North America/TNS
    Former US President Donald Trump gestures after delivering remarks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey, on June 13, 2023. – ED JONES/Getty Images North America/TNS
    © Raw Story
    Atop Donald Trump 2024 campaign advisor who prosecutors allege viewed classified documents is employed by a firm with links to China that poses a potential national security threat and enables human rights abuses, The New York Post reports.

    Susan Wiles serves as co-chair of Mercury Public Affairs, which has taken millions of dollars from several high-profile Chinese companies including Yealink, Hikvision, and Alibaba.

    Wiles also served on the staff of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2018 gubernatorial run.

    Special counsel Jack Smith’ 37-count indictment against Trump over allegations the former president mishandled classified documents identifies Wiles as “PAC Representative” whom Trump showed classified documents to, ABC News reports, citing sources familiar with the matter.

    Josh Christenson writes for The Post, “If confirmed, the episode is further complicated by both Wiles’ high standing in the Trump campaign and her closeness to potential hostile entities through her firm’s lobbying work.”

    Mercury, the lobbying firm that employs Wiles, was paid $240,000 in 2022 by a telecommunications company that had been flagged for security issues, the report said. [. . . ]

  75. Oggie: Mathom says

    Newly Unearthed Emails Show Trump Attorneys Coordinating Fake Electors
    Story by Josh Kovensky • 57m ago
    (emphasis mine)

    Faced with loss in the 2020 election, Trump campaign attorneys built an elaborate mind palace in which the former president could steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

    The problem was, building that universe required persuading real people to lie — not in the imaginary world where Trump reversed his loss, but in the actual world where lying has consequences.

    Emails first released by the Jan. 6 Committee that have not previously been reported on in detail reveal how several key Trump attorneys coordinated the actions of two fake electors from the state of Nevada — both of whom have now reportedly received immunity in exchange for testimony in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation.

    The emails show Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro directing would-be fake electors Jim DeGraffenreid and Michael McDonald how to become fake electors — a topic now at the center of Smith’s review of Trump’s effort to reverse the 2020 election. Private messages, also released by the committee, show that McDonald, DeGraffenreid, and other Nevada fake electors were eager to participate in what Chesebro described to them as an effort to “keep alive the possibility that the votes could be flipped to Trump and Biden.”

    But the messages also show that the electors were aware, and at times concerned, about the potential legal issues at play. In one message that DeGraffenreid sent to another fake elector the day before they cast their ballots on Dec. 14 the two discussed the procedures needed under state law to cast the electoral votes, with DeGraffenreid writing that “facts and legalities don’t matter – only what you can burn someone with.”

    The next day, the fake electors would take the first step towards what may end up being a scheme to defraud the United States via the creation of fake legal documents submitted to Congress and the National Archives. DeGraffenreid and McDonald didn’t return TPM’s requests for comment. Chesebro did not return a request for comment.

    One GOP operative familiar with the fake electors effort told TPM that the electors themselves had been misled.

    “These guys were innocent people just doing what folks they trusted had asked them to do,” the person said, telling TPM that senior Trump campaign officials in the state understood that The Donald had lost Nevada. “They knew they couldn’t win in Nevada.”

    Legal experts and former federal prosecutors have long described the fake electors scheme as the most direct, provable crime in Trump’s attempt to reverse his 2020 loss. While filling out a document proclaiming yourself an elector for a losing candidate is not a crime, lying to the federal government — or presenting a document to federal agencies or Congress saying that you are an elector — is.

    The New York Times reported on Wednesday that one of the Trump allies involved in the scheme, Rudy Giuliani, spoke with Smith’s office this week under a proffer agreement — often, but not always, the prelude to a cooperation agreement. The paper also reported that Mike Roman, a Trump campaign official who delivered the fake elector ballots to Congress, was in preliminary cooperation talks.

    In the materials released by the January 6 Committee, the pace of messages — between DeGraffenreid, McDonald, other fake electors, RNC operatives, and Trump campaign attorneys including Chesebro — picked up on Dec. 10, 2020, as the Trump campaign organized fake electors in Nevada.

    Chesebro described Nevada in a Dec. 9, 2020 memo to Wisconsin Trump attorney Jim Troupis as “extremely problematic” because that state’s laws imposed more requirements on the electors than others did.

    The next day, Chesebro made his pitch to the Nevada electors themselves. Introducing himself as an attorney who was contacting them at Giuliani’s direction, Chesebro explained over a series of messages how they would become “alternate electors,” and how he would ensure that it was legal.

    Chesebro attached copies of the memos that he had circulated within the Trump campaign, telling the electors that their ballots would go to Congress with two purposes in mind: to debate “election irregularities,” and to “keep alive the possibility that the votes could be flipped to Trump and Biden.” In a separate message, Chesebro sent a manual on how to cast Electoral College votes in Nevada, drafts of Nevada Electoral College ballots, a draft certificate of Trump-Pence elector votes, and a form to fill Electoral College vacancies in Nevada to a group of RNC regional political directors. That message was forwarded on to DeGraffenreid and McDonald — both of whom have now received immunity.

    David Becker, executive director of the center for election innovation and research, told TPM that the ballots were bogus partly because, by Dec. 14, 2020, the courts had ruled decisively on the Trump campaign’s challenges to the election.

    “By that point, we already knew who won those elections,” he said.

    The messages show that Chesebro was aware of the issue, asking DeGraffenreid on Dec. 11 if he knew whether “all court challenges in Nevada are final.” DeGraffenreid forwarded the message to Jesse Binnall, another Trump campaign attorney involved in the 2020 election litigation.

    While the fake electors themselves at times seem to understand that what they were involved in was legally perilous and, at other times, appear to believe that the reasoning provided by Chesebro gave them a path forward.

    Later that day, DeGraffenreid forwarded Chesebro’s messages to other electors, saying that they explained the “process and the justification for our actions.”

    After receiving direction from Chesebro on how to become fake electors, and discussing it among themselves, DeGrafffenreid and others acted: they cast ballots presenting themselves as Nevada’s electors. Now, they’ve reportedly received immunity to testify about the experience.

    Dennis Aftergut, a former federal prosecutor and of counsel to Lawyers Defending Democracy, told TPM that the Trump attorneys could lead investigators further upwards.

    “Chesebro was working very closely with [John] Eastman and certainly [Boris] Epshteyn,” he said. “They are all one short step away from Trump.”

  76. Oggie: Mathom says

    “Far beyond simple narcissism”: Why Donald Trump can’t simply keep quite — even when facing prison
    Story by Chauncey DeVega • 2h ago

    One of my casual friends is an attorney. He is very good at getting people out of trouble – trouble that is usually of their own making. My attorney friend would often tell me stories about people who would get on the stand and talk themselves into prison. Why? I asked him. He explained that some people know that they are right and believe they can prove it, but don’t understand that winning in court is not about being right or the smartest person in the room. Sometimes you just need to be quiet. And if you must talk, be damn sure to let your attorney do it for you!

    The traitor ex-president Donald Trump is going to be put on trial for allegedly violating the Espionage Act and committing other serious crimes such as conspiracy and obstruction of justice. It also appears very likely that special counsel Jack Smith is going to charge Donald Trump and his cabal with other federal crimes in connection with the Jan. 6 coup attempt. If found guilty, Donald Trump could potentially spend the rest of his natural life in federal prison. As such, Trump has most certainly been told by his personal attorneys to be quiet. Trump has also received the same advice, publicly and for free, from other attorneys and experts in the law. It would appear, however, that Donald Trump lacks the ability to be quiet.

    “Trump’s behavior is far beyond simple narcissism.”

    For example, in a Tuesday morning post on his Truth Social disinformation social media website, Trump raged against special counsel Jack Smith, threatening his family like some type of mafia boss:

    COULD SOMEBODY PLEASE EXPLAIN TO THE DERANGED, TRUMP HATING JACK SMITH, HIS FAMILY, AND HIS FRIENDS, THAT AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I COME UNDER THE PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS ACT, AS AFFIRMED BY THE CLINTON SOCKS CASE, NOT BY THIS FANTASY OF THE NEVER USED BEFORE ESPIONAGE ACT OF 1917. [see my note below]

    In various interviews, speeches, and other communications, Trump and his spokespeople have offered up a range of “defenses” and “explanations” for why he stole many dozens of boxes reportedly containing some of the country’s most closely guarded secrets such as war plans, the identities of human assets, i.e. spies, documents detailing America’s nuclear capabilities (and vulnerabilities to attack), and other information that could cause the country cataclysmic harm if its enemies were able to access it. These “defenses” and “explanations” include that Trump was too busy and distracted to actually know what was in the boxes that he stole and refused to return to the United States government, that Trump has some type of psychic superpower to declassify top secret and other classified information with his “beautiful mind” and “big brain” and that he is a victim of a political “persecution” and the documents themselves don’t really matter. Of course, none of this is true.

    More than 2,000 people, mostly left and labour activists, were charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. Not sure where Trump gets the idea that he is the only one ever charged under the act (which was heavily amended in 1920)

  77. Oggie: Mathom says

    Mounting Death Toll: Russian Bank VP Dies After Mysteriously Falling From 11th-floor Moscow Apartment Window
    Story by Connor Surmonte • Yesterday 3:50 PM

    A Russian bank executive was found dead under mysterious circumstances last week after she fell out of her 11th-floor apartment window, RadarOnline.com can report.

    Kristina Baikova, 28, died at approximately 3 AM on the morning of June 24 in Moscow after she plunged from her 11th-floor apartment window down to the street below. [ . . . ]

    The RFNDT (Russian Federation National Defenestration Team) strikes again. And I bet Trump is so jealous.

  78. says

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

    Russia is scaling back its presence at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plower plant, Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate (GUR) warned on Friday, with staff told to relocate to Crimea and military patrols scaled back.

    The agency’s chief, Kyrlo Budanov, has said that Moscow approved a plan to blow up the station and has mined four out of six power units, as well as a cooling pond. Last week, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the Russians were plotting a “terrorist attack”.

    According to the GUR, several representatives of Russia’s state nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, have already left. Ukrainian employees who stayed at the plant and signed contracts with Rosatom have been told to evacuate by Monday, preferably to Crimea, it said.

    The intelligence agency named three senior individuals who had already departed: the plant’s chief inspector, the head of the legal department, and the deputy in charge of supplies. It said the number of Russian soldiers at the station and in the nearby town of Enerhodar had reduced.

    Since seizing the plant last year, the Russian army has turned it into a full-blown military base. It moved hardware into the turbine halls including armoured vehicles and ammunition. Soldiers used the territory to bombard Ukrainian towns across the Dnipro reservoir.

    This has mostly dried up after the Kakhovka dam downstream was blown up earlier this month. Western governments and Kyiv say Russia deliberately sabotaged the dam in order to impede Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

    Former plant workers said it would be difficult to damage the reactors, which were protected by thick steel and concrete. But they said the small cooling pond – which the Russians have allegedly mined – was more vulnerable, as was a dry storage area used for spent nuclear fuel.

    An explosion in the cooling pond could lead to a partial nuclear meltdown similar to the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the US state of Pennsylvania, said Oleksiy Kovynyev, a former senior engineer. In this scenario, most radiation would be contained.

    But he added: “Of course, if you are an absolute maniac and open the ventilation channels this would throw out radiation.” Kovynyev said the dry storage area at the plant contained 24 spent “fuel assemblies”, sealed in 120 “hermetic” thick steel casks.

    “In a normal situation they are absolutely safe. [But] if you wanted, you could destroy them. You could shell several times. This could cause a nuclear accident with radiation release.” He said he remained “optimistic” that no disaster would take place.

    Before the full-scale invasion, the plant employed 11,500 workers. An estimated 2,500 remain. Some, including the plant’s Ukrainian director, have signed contracts with Rosatom. Others have refused and have had their security passes revoked. Staff receive salaries from Russia as well as Ukraine.

    The GUR said on Friday that personnel remaining at the station had been instructed to “blame Ukraine in case of any emergencies”….

    Ukraine has urged the international community to pay attention to the alarming situation at the plant and to put pressure on Moscow to step back from the brink. Officials point out that Zelenskiy warned last year that the Kremlin was preparing to blow up the Kakhovka dam – something that happened seven months later.

    The chief rabbi of Ukraine, Moshe Azman, urged the “entire world community” to do everything in its power to stop a possible catastrophe. This week Russia told the UN security council it had no plans to blow up the plant. It previously assured the council it would not invade Ukraine.

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, ordered top military commanders on Friday to strengthen Ukraine’s northern military sector following the arrival of Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russian Wagner mercenary group, in Belarus.

    “The decision… is for commander-in-chief (Valeriy) Zaluzhnyi and ‘North’ commander (Serhiy) Naev to implement a set of measures to strengthen this direction,” Zelenskiy said on Telegram.

    He said government and military leaders had also heard a report from Ukrainian intelligence and security forces on the situation in Belarus, Ukraine’s northern neighbour, Reuters reports.

    On Thursday, satellite images emerged of a military base south-east of the Belarus capital, Minsk, that appeared to show new facilities set up in recent days, suggesting the swift construction of a base for Wagner.

    Russian media have reported that Wagner, whose leader, Prigozhin, arrived in Belarus on Tuesday, could set up a new base at a vacant military facility near the town of Osipovichi, about 50 miles (90km) from Minsk.

  79. says

    The Guardian has multiple liveblogs today:

    France liveblog (see #30 above):

    Marseille, France’s second-largest city, has decided to ban public demonstrations today, said the local authorities for the city. Reuters reports that all public transport in Marseille will also stop from 7pm local time (6pm BST).

    All trams and buses in Île-de-France – the region that includes Paris – are to be stopped after 9pm each evening until further notice, the local transport authority has announced….

    British tourists planning to travel to France have been warned of violent unrest and disruptions to road transport, including possible curfews, in official advice from the Foreign Office after nationwide protests over the fatal shooting of a teenager by French police.

    The advice reads:

    Since 27 June, riots have taken place across France. Many have turned violent. Shops, public buildings and parked cars have been targeted. There may be disruptions to road travel and local transport provision may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews. Locations and timing of riots are unpredictable. You should monitor the media, avoid areas where riots are taking place.

    Emmanuel Macron says social media is fuelling copycat violence in France and that state agencies would ask platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok to remove the most “sensitive content”.

    Speaking after a second government crisis meeting, the president said violence was being organised online. Commenting on the young people involved, he said: “We sometimes have the feeling that some of them are living in the streets of the video games that have intoxicated them.”

    Macron also urged parents to keep teenagers at home to quell rioting, saying many of those arrested are young. “It is the parents’ responsibility to keep them at home, and therefore it is important for everyone’s peace of mind that parental responsibility can be fully exercised,” he said.

    US liveblog:

    In its first decision of the day, the supreme court’s six conservatives ruled against a Colorado law meant to ban discrimination by businesses against members of the LGBTQ+ community.

    Sonia Sotomayor wrote the dissent in the Colorado LGTBQ+ rights case, which was joined by the court’s two other liberal justices.

    “Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class,” Sotomayor wrote.

    “Specifically, the Court holds that the First Amendment exempts a website design company from a state law that prohibits the company from denying wedding websites to same-sex couples if the company chooses to sell those websites to the public.”

    She continues:

    A business open to the public seeks to deny gay and lesbian customers the full and equal enjoyment of its services based on the owner’s religious belief that same-sex marriages are ‘false’. The business argues, and a majority of the Court agrees, that because the business offers services that are customized and expressive, the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment shields the business from a generally applicable law that prohibits discrimination in the sale of publicly available goods and services. That is wrong. Profoundly wrong.

    “Our Constitution contains no right to refuse service to a disfavored group,” Sotomayor writes. “I dissent.”

    In their second opinion, the supreme court’s conservative struck down Joe Biden’s program to relieve some federal student loan debt.

    The three liberal justices dissented.

    UK liveblog:

    …Zac Goldsmith has just announced he is resigning as a minister at the Foreign Office, saying that he can no longer carry on because of the government’s “apathy” on issues relating to climate and the environment.

    In his long resignation letter, posted on Twitter, he says he is “horrified” by how the government has abandoned commitments on animal welfare. He says the UK has “withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature”. And he says that Sunak personally is to blame.

    The problem is not that the government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our prime minister, are simply uninterested. That signal, or lack of it, has trickled down through Whitehall and caused a kind of paralysis.

  80. says

    Ukraine liveblog:

    Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor has blocked media outlets linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the Wagner mercenary group which staged a brief mutiny last Saturday, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on Friday….

    US liveblog:

    “In every respect, the Court today exceeds its proper, limited role in our Nation’s governance.”

    Thus begins justice Elena Kagan’s dissent against the conservative majority’s decision stopping Joe Biden from relieving some federal student loan debt. She was joined by her two fellow liberals on the court.

    It’s a long read with lots in it, but here’s a good encapsulation of Kagan’s counterargument:

    The Court reads statutes unnaturally, seeking to cabin their evident scope. And the Court applies heightened-specificity requirements, thwarting Congress’s efforts to ensure adequate responses to unforeseen events. The result here is that the Court substitutes itself for Congress and the Executive Branch in making national policy about student-loan forgiveness. Congress authorized the forgiveness plan (among many other actions); the Secretary put it in place; and the President would have been accountable for its success or failure. But this Court today decides that some 40 million Americans will not receive the benefits the plan provides, because (so says the Court) that assistance is too “significan[t].”

  81. says

    They also have a US weather liveblog:

    Welcome back to our live coverage of the extreme heatwaves and poor air quality spreading across the US.

    With smoke from over 450 Canadian wildfires continuing to drift southward, numerous states have labelled their air quality as “unhealthy” or “very unhealthy”. Numerous east coast cities including New York, Detroit, Chicago and Washington DC have been enveloped in a smoky haze in recent days, with authorities cautioning elderly people and those with respiratory issues from participating in outdoor activities.

    Meanwhile, southern states continue to grapple with a record-breaking heatwave that have propelled temperatures to the triple digits and put enormous strains on power grids, as seen in Texas. At least 13 deaths have occurred as a result of the deadly heatwave in Texas. According to meteorologists, the current heatwave expanding across the country has been made five times more likely by the climate crisis….

    With Texas struggling with the record heatwave currently enveloping the state, construction workers who continue to work outside are grappling with high temperatures while others have walked out on their jobs….

    Three US cities rank highest in the world for the worst air quality and pollution as of Friday morning.

    According to IQAir, New York City ranked number one with an air quality index of 157, which IQAir has categorized as “unhealthy.”

    Washington DC and Chicago came in fourth and fifth, with AQIs of 124 and 108, respectively. Both cities’ air qualities have been deemed as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

  82. says

    Guardian – “Revealed: Christian legal nonprofit funds US anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion organizations”:

    A rightwing Christian “hate group” which is behind a host of legal efforts to roll back abortion rights, remove LGBTQ+ protections and demonize trans people has seen a huge increase in its funding and has funneled some of that money to a slew of smaller anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion groups across the US, the Guardian can reveal.

    The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a registered nonprofit behind the ongoing 303 Creative supreme court case…saw its revenue surge by more than $25m between 2020 and 2021, a period in which a rightwing obsession with transgender rights and sexual orientation saw almost 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in states around the US.

    The surge in funding to the ADF, which has been termed an “anti-LGBTQ hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, saw it record revenue of $104.5m in 2021, according to filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

    It has handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars of that newfound wealth to fringe organizations which have sought to diminish the rights of trans students in schools and the right for trans people to participate in sports, an investigation by the watchdog group Accountable.US has found.

    The ADF, which was founded in 1994 by a group of “leaders in the Christian community”, according to its website, has also given money to groups involved in efforts to ban books which address LGBTQ+ topics, and to organizations which seek to ban abortion.

    It comes as Republican politicians and commentators continue to wage a culture war in the US. In June the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the country’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, declared a “state of emergency” for LGBTQ+ people in the US, citing “an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses this year”.

    An HRC report this month found that 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were signed into law in the first five months of 2023 – more than double the entire amount passed in 2022.

    “Alliance Defending Freedom is a recognized anti-LGBTQ hate group working to build a movement of far-right legal groups to force a dangerous, unpopular agenda on Americans,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable[dot]US, a progressive organization which researches the finances and activities of special interest groups.

    “From ADF’s involvement with a supreme court case contesting critical LGBTQ rights to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding ADF has granted to anti-democratic organizations, ADF’s goal is to strip Americans of their rights and undermine democracy.”

    Justin Unga, vice-president of strategic initiatives at the Human Rights Campaign, described the ADF as “one of the most dangerous elements in the anti-LGBTQ+ cause”, but said the group’s influence would not last forever.

    In 2022, the Pew Research Center found that only 64% of Americans identified as Christian, down from 90% 50 years prior, and predicted that the number of Christians in the US would fall below 50% in the next 40 years.

    The number of Americans who identify as LGBTQ+, meanwhile, is “surging dramatically, and will be an impact in future elections”, Unga said.

    “[Groups like the ADF] will burn bright for a time like this, but when public opinion catches up, when demography catches up, we will see them fizzle out,” he said.

    In the meantime, Unga said the Human Rights Campaign and other groups are engaged in efforts to highlight politicians’ record on LGBTQ+ rights, and to turn out the vote in key areas.

    “All elected officials are still beholden to their constituents and the people they serve, the people who elect them,” Unga said.

    “We’ve identified over 60 million what we call ‘equality voters’: voters who are motivated by issues of equality. They are people who pay attention to whether or not the candidate or elected official votes to advance protections for LGBTQ+ folks or votes to oppose them.”

    He added: “We will turn our voters out in support of our candidates and we intend to do that at every level of government from state legislatures to the White House.”

    More at the link.

  83. says

    US liveblog:

    Supreme court conservatives close term by stopping debt relief and affirmative action, curbing LGTBQ+ protections

    It took years of work and consecutive victories in crucial elections for Republican lawmakers to create the current conservative majority on the supreme court, but it paid off for the GOP over the past two days as the justices handed down multiple rulings in the party’s favor.

    Today, the six conservatives on the nation’s highest court blocked Joe Biden’s attempt to relieve some federal student loan debt at the request of a group of Republican attorneys general, and also ruled against a Colorado law intended to protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination by businesses.

    And yesterday, they issued a ruling that did away for good with race-conscious admissions at universities, a practices that has long been in the crosshairs of the American right.

    As is usually the case with the supreme court, the implications of these rulings will take months to filter across the country, but one things is clear: it has once again been a good term for Republicans and their policies at the nation’s highest court.

    GOP party leaders and presidential candidates are pleased as punch that the supreme court’s conservatives have stopped Joe Biden from relieving some federal student loan debt…. [quotes from Kevin McCarthy, Mike Pence, and Nikki Haley at the link]

    Public opinions polls have shown the supreme court is increasingly disliked by Americans, and chief justice John Roberts seems to know it.

    At the conclusion of his majority opinion in Biden v Nebraska, the case in which Roberts and the court’s five other conservative justices ruled against the president’s program to relieve some federal student loan debt, he inserts a plea for understanding.

    “It has become a disturbing feature of some recent opinions to criticize the decisions with which they disagree as going beyond the proper role of the judiciary,” writes Roberts, who was appointed to his post by Republican president George W Bush in 2005….

    Fuck you.

    The Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is out with a statement both condemning the supreme court’s ruling against Joe Biden’s student debt relief program and claiming that the court’s conservative justices are, essentially, in Donald Trump’s pocket:

    This disappointing and cruel ruling shows the callousness of the MAGA Republican-controlled Supreme Court. The hypocrisy is clear: as justices accept lavish, six-figure gifts, they don’t dare to help Americans saddled with student loan debt, instead siding with the powerful, big-monied interests.

    The fight will not end here….

    Joe Biden will today announce “new actions” to protect people who take out student loans, Reuters reports, citing a White House source.

  84. says

    US weather liveblog:

    Excessive heat warning and advisories have been issued across much of California into the desert southwest, the National Weather Service announced on Friday.

    The warnings and advisories also cover the lower and mid-Mississippi valley.

    “The interior valleys of central and northern California will see afternoon temperatures climbing well up into the 100s to near 110 degrees at the hottest locations on Saturday, while the Desert Southwest will see high temperatures reaching well up into the 110s. These temperatures will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses in these areas by this weekend,” the NWS said.

    That’s where I just came from!

  85. StevoR says

    Happy Asteroid Day everyone! See :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_Day

    (Here’s hoping they DON’T drop into celebrate it in rocky high velocity destructive “person” here.)

    Also anniversray of Tunguska Event 1908 probly caused by a massive asteroid airburst. Had the timing & thus impact point there been slightly different, well, our history would be very different..

  86. StevoR says

    Greenland is melting.

    Graph is on facebook so won’t share here but F ing L it looks dramatically, dramtaically way off the charts bad.

  87. says

    France liveblog:

    Unions representing half of French police officers have described those taking part in the rioting, which follows years of complaints of racial profiling and heavy handed policing, as “savage hordes” and “vermin”, saying they consider themselves “at war”.

    The language of the Alliance Police Nationale and UNSA Police unions, which echoed far-right phrasing, is being denounced as inflammatory and potentially dangerous. In a statement bearing the title “Now that’s enough”, they said:

    Faced with these savage hordes, asking for calm doesn’t go far enough. It must be imposed.

    Reestablishing order in the republic and putting those arrested somewhere they can do no harm must be the only political signals to send out.

    Our colleagues, like the majority of the public, can no longer have the law laid down to them by a violent minority.

    This is not the time for industrial action, but for fighting against these ‘vermin’. To submit, to capitulate, and to give them pleasure by laying down weapons are not solutions, given the gravity of the situation.

    [HOLY SHIT]

    They said: “Today, police officers are at the frontline because we are at war.” And they warned the government that, unless officers are given yet greater legal protections and more resources in the future, “tomorrow, we will be in resistance”.

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the former presidential candidate for the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party, said police unions “calling for civil war should learn to keep quiet. We’ve seen the fatal behaviour this kind of talk leads to. Politics needs to regain its grip on the police”.

    The Greens party leader Marine Tondelier said:

    Can we finally say that we have a structural problem in the police? This text is an appeal for civil war.

  88. says

    Guardian – “Judges ban Bolsonaro from running for office for eight years over ‘appalling lies’”:

    The political future of Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro has been cast into doubt after electoral judges voted to ban him from running for office for eight years for abusing his powers and peddling “immoral” and “appalling lies” during last year’s acrimonious election.

    Four of the superior electoral court’s seven judges voted to banish the far-right radical, who relentlessly vilified the South American country’s democratic institutions during his unsuccessful battle to win a second term in power. One voted against the decision while two were due to vote later on Friday afternoon, although their votes cannot change the result.

    The vote means Bolsonaro, who lost last year’s election to his leftist rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will only be able to seek elected office again in 2030, when he will be 75.

    The move to strip Bolsonaro of his political rights was based on his highly controversial decision to summon foreign ambassadors to his official residence last July, 11 weeks before the election’s 2 October first round.

    At the meeting, Bolsonaro made baseless claims against Brazil’s electronic voting system which caused a public outcry and were denounced by one supreme court judge as politically-motivated disinformation.

    Thursday’s ruling may only be the first in a series of blows to Jair Bolsonaro’s political fortunes. He also faces criminal investigations into claims he deliberately incited the 8 January riots, was involved in faking coronavirus vaccination certificates, and sought to take possession of expensive jewellery gifted by the government of Saudi Arabia.

    Bolsonaro has denied misconduct with allies painting efforts to force him from politics as a witch-hunt likely to boost his popularity. “My goodness gracious, this is an injustice,” Bolsonaro told reporters as he flew to Rio’s city airport, where one passerby was filmed berating him as a “coup-mongering crook”.

    More at the link.

  89. says

    France liveblog:

    We reported earlier that the UN had called on France to address “deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement”. The French government has now rejected that any such problems exist. The foreign ministry has said:

    Any accusation of racism or systemic discrimination in the police force in France is totally unfounded.

    [Look at the statement @ #113!]

    The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is a body of independent experts that monitors how states are implementing the convention on eliminating all forms of such discrimination.

    In December, it voiced its deep concerns about the frequent use in France of identity checks and alleged discriminatory stops, which the committee said disproportionately targeted members of certain minority groups.

  90. johnson catman says

    re SC @117: I experienced that yesterday when I tried to access your “Tweet o’ the day” link. I didn’t know at the time that that is what had happened. I have never had a Twitter (or Facebook, or . . .) account, and I never plan to get one.

  91. says

    BBC – “Moldova attack: Two dead as man opens fire inside Chisinau airport”:

    Two people have been killed after a man opened fire at Chisinau International Airport, the Moldovan Interior Ministry has said.

    The gunman was wounded and detained, said police.

    The interior ministry said the shooting had taken place after a foreign citizen was denied entry to the country.

    “Authorities confirm two victims”, the interior ministry said. President Maia Sandu said the two dead were a border guard and an airport security official.

    Unconfirmed reports said that the suspect was a Russian national who took hostages and holed himself up in a room. Videos from the scene showed passengers outside the airport on the grass, as the building was evacuated.

    Flights in and out of Chisinau airport, which is the country’s largest, have been grounded.

    Moldova has been on alert for months after President Sandu accused Russia of plotting to use foreign “saboteurs” to overthrow her pro-European Union government.

    Her warning in February came after a group of Serbian football fans were barred from entering the country through Chisinau airport to attend a Uefa Conference League match.

    President Sandu issued a statement on Friday offering condolences to the families of those killed, calling it “a sad day for all of us”.

    She said state security forces were on high alert across the country.

    Government press secretary Daniel Voda told Moldovan TV: “All measures have been taken to bring the situation back to normal. Law enforcers will continue to ensure security and public order at the airport.”

  92. says

    Meduza – “‘We want to live near the sea’ Russians are buying real estate in occupied Mariupol, where invading forces destroyed nearly everything last year”:

    After launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army effectively leveled the city of Mariupol before capturing it and starting to replace the buildings it destroyed. While the pro-Kremlin media regularly reports on how the occupied city is “coming back to life,” the Russian Internet has filled with advertisements for real estate there. The St. Petersburg outlet Bumaga spoke to Russians who are seeking homes and apartments in the city. Meduza is publishing an abridged translation of Bumaga’s report.

    The Russian social media site VKontakte has about 100 groups containing advertisements for buying, selling, and renting real estate in occupied Mariupol. In one of the largest, “Real Estate in Mariupol and Pryazovia,” messages from people seeking to buy houses or apartments began appearing in early May 2022, when heavy combat was still going on in the city.

    The people looking for real estate in Mariupol come from all over Russia, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, and Nizhny Novgorod. Many of them are open to buying houses and buildings “in any condition” and plan to repair whatever shelling damage they find.

    Some buyers told Bumaga that they see Mariupol as part of Russia and don’t consider purchasing real estate in an occupied city to be a risky decision. At the same time, the majority of people who spoke to the outlet said they’ve never been to Mariupol.

    Olesya

    From Omsk, searching for a house in Mariupol

    I consider it a good investment. It might seem strange to some, but I believe in the city’s future development. Under Russia’s wing, it will have a bright future. I think it will become a popular holiday and tourism destination. It holds a special significance for our country; it’s a Hero City.

    I’m not concerned about it being damaged by combat. The worst that could happen there has already happened.

    Eldar

    Searching for an apartment in Mariupol

    I want to buy real estate in Mariupol because I believe the city’s going to flourish and become a good vacation destination in the near future.

    I’m not worried about future damage to the city. Our borders our well-guarded by the armed forces, and the war is approaching its logical conclusion (at least in that region).

    Irina

    From Krasnoyarsk, searching for a house in Mariupol

    My family and I started looking for a place to live in Mariupol because we want to live near the sea and in a place with good environmental conditions. Mariupol also has fairly cheap real estate and more attractive salary offers for my husband, since he’s an electrician. And the environment there is much cleaner than in Krasnoyarsk.

    It’s scary to think that the fighting there could start up again, but the war won’t last forever.

    All of the people who spoke to Bumaga said they chose Mariupol because of its proximity to the sea, which they believe will make it an attractive travel destination. Most of the respondents said they’re not afraid of future combat in the city, despite Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive in that direction….

  93. says

    US liveblog:

    Joe Biden is accusing the Republicans who led the successful effort to block his plan to cancel some federal student loan debt of “stunning” hypocrisy, and vowed to keep fighting to help more Americans afford college degrees.

    “The hypocrisy of Republican elected officials is stunning,” the president said in a newly released statement.

    “They had no problem with billions in pandemic-related loans to businesses – including hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of dollars for their own businesses. And those loans were forgiven. But when it came to providing relief to millions of hard-working Americans, they did everything in their power to stop it.”

    “I believe that the Court’s decision to strike down our student debt relief plan is wrong. But I will stop at nothing to find other ways to deliver relief to hard-working middle-class families. My Administration will continue to work to bring the promise of higher education to every American,” the president said.

    Promising, “The fight is not over,” Biden said, “Later today, I will provide more detail on all that my Administration has done to help students and the next steps my Administration will take.”…

    They have a link to the full statement.

  94. lumipuna says

    More on the latest Finnish politics news quoted at comment 96, an update to my comments 74 and 77:

    The plot chickens! Vilhelm Junnila has indeed resigned, two days after his coalition partners held their noses and voted to keep him in a cabinet position. Presumably, it’s because the press and social media keep making the voting public more and more aware of his extensive neonazi ties.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/30/far-right-finnish-minister-vilhelm-junnila-resigns-after-10-days-over-nazi-comments

    The new Finnish coalition government has been plunged into crisis, as a key minister was forced to resign after it emerged he had called for Finland to support abortions in Africa to combat the climate crisis.

    Vilhelm Junnila, of the far-right Finns party, resigned after a week of fiercely criticised revelations, including that he made jokes about “Heil Hitler” and had given a speech at an event attended by neo-Nazis.

    On Thursday evening, a junior member of the coalition highlighted a parliamentary question Junnila had posed on the official record in 2019. Junnila, who as the economic affairs minister was one of 19 cabinet members, wrote at the time that “it would be justified for Finland to shoulder its responsibility by promoting climate abortion”, which he claimed would be “a great leap forward for humanity”.

    In official parliamentary records, his question states: “In the underdeveloped societies of Africa, the number of children can be huge, and the problem escalates even worse as climate change drives them, due to famine, disease and extreme weather, to seek a better life in areas with an even larger carbon footprint.”

    Junnila resigned on Friday, saying in a statement: “For the continuation of the government and the reputation of Finland, I see that it is impossible for me to continue as a minister in a satisfactory way.”

    He narrowly survived a vote of no confidence on Wednesday, after footage emerged of him addressing a 2019 event by the Coalition of Nationalists, a far-right umbrella group. In the same year, Junnila joked about the number 88 at a Finns party event…

    That last part barely begins to cover Junnila’s record of “humorous” nazi references and US-derived neonazi dogwhistles. The far right all over the Western world is extremely online, uses English as common networking language and shares the same raccoon and honey badger memes, expecting them to fly under the radar of normies.

    As for the 2019 parliamentary question (which I only heard about now), Junnila is generally not a fan of abortion, and this stunt was quite clearly intended for trolling the liberals. I forgot to mention previously that while the PS is primarily an anti-immigration and ethnonationalist party, they’re also bigly into general social conservatism (typical for fascists everywhere) and spiteful anti-environmentalism. However, now this incident has been picked up and criticized by some Christian-conservative anti-abortion cranks within the coalition, who clearly just want an “honorable” excuse to turn off their support for Junnila, so they’re pretending they only now heard about it.

    The real tragic aspect here is that the PS still has dibs for filling the newly open position for the minister for economic affairs – and it’s pretty damn obvious anyone they can scrape up from among their ranks will also have extensive neonazi ties. Meanwhile, Finnish media is waking up to investigating the background of various other PS ministers. It’s gonna be rocky for the foreseeable future.

  95. says

    Ukraine liveblog:

    The Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces is “going slower than people had predicted”, but is making steady progress, US army general Mark Milley said on Friday.

    “It’s going slower than people had predicted. Doesn’t surprise me,” Miley told an audience at the National Press Club.

    “It is advancing steadily, deliberately, working it’s way through very difficult minefields, et cetera.”

    The comments came after Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, said earlier on Friday that Ukrainian troops were advancing in all directions of the counteroffensive they began against Russian forces this month.

    “If we talk about the entire frontline, both east and south, we have seized the strategic initiative and are advancing in all directions,” she told Ukrainian television.

    “In the south, we are moving with varying success, sometimes there are days when it is more than a kilometre, sometimes less than a kilometre, sometimes up to 2 kilometres,” she said. These claims could not immediately be independently verified.

  96. says

    Religion Dispatches – “Conservative Christians Insist the Toxic Theology Portrayed in the Duggar Family Doc is ‘Fringe’ — But is it Really All That Different?”:

    …If Gothard’s theology of authority structures continues to echo through politicians and organizations that have—knowingly or unknowingly—inherited his teachings, his strict theologies of gender and sexual control live on through the myriad conservative Christian churches and ministries whose own theologies of gender and sexuality don’t diverge meaningfully from the IBLP’s.

    As former IBLP members attest in Shiny Happy People, the organization’s strict behavioral guidelines and emphasis on immediate submission to authority enforced through corporal punishment, created an environment ripe for all kinds of abuse of power. What’s more, they argue, many of the beliefs and practices that endangered them as children being raised according to IBLP principles are—rather than being the regrettable excesses of some fringe movement—endemic to American evangelicalism itself. The final episode of the docuseries features a montage of popular conservative Christian “influencers” who, interviewees say, simply put a millennial pink gloss on the same conservative theologies of gendered authority and sexual control that animated the IBLP.

    In the days following Shiny Happy People’s release, the influencers featured in the series and plenty of outside commentators have decried what they argue is the series’ anti-Christian messaging. The IBLP is not representative of their faith, they say, and the organization went astray from its mission to the exact proportion that it twisted the gospel of Jesus Christ and strayed from “true” Christianity.

    The ongoing influence of Gothard’s theology might best be illustrated in the figure of Alex Harris, the son of Gregg Harris, one of the key architects of the U.S. homeschooling movement in the 1980s and the brother of Joshua Harris, whose 1997 book I Kissed Dating Goodbye made waves in American evangelical purity culture. Alex Harris—a lawyer who has clerked for both Justice Anthony Kennedy and then-Judge Neil Gorsuch—tweeted that he participated in the docuseries to tell the story of his own family’s involvement in the movement to “take America back for God” and to explain how his own religious views have shifted over time.

    In a review of the docuseries for The Gospel Coalition, Harris expressed his empathy for survivors of abuse within IBLP while also noting that he knows “people who had positive experiences with IBLP.” Harris also critiqued the filmmakers for “equating Gothard’s genuine extremism with beliefs held by the vast majority of evangelicals,” though, much like the series’ other conservative Christian critics, he did not elaborate on the differences between the two.

    In fact, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) itself platforms a number of pastors whose views seem more or less in line with Gothard’s….

    …Those interested in circling the wagons around “normal” evangelical beliefs might consider getting more specific about where and how their own theologies of authority, gender, and sexuality would protect against abuse of power. Otherwise, they feed into a no-true-Scotsman fallacy that dismisses the bad fruit of their beliefs as the exception to the rule.

    In the days following Shiny Happy People’s release, executive producer Cori Shepherd Stern says she’s received a deluge of messages from viewers “who weren’t directly involved with IBLP but who grew up in a wide variety of Christian churches, who related to the deep and lasting pain experienced by the survivors in the documentary.”

    Stern says she hopes viewers will stop and consider just how pervasive theologies of shame and anxiety are in American Christianity.

    “I’ve seen a few comments that we made this documentary ‘to make Christians look bad,’” Stern told Religion Dispatches. “No. The people who look bad are the ones who respond to suffering and mistreatment by saying ‘it’s not my responsibility. That’s not my community.’ We’re all each other’s community. I made this documentary because I’m my sister’s keeper…. I couldn’t turn away without hazarding my own soul.”

    As for what Stern hopes viewers take away from the documentary? In an extended Q&A session on Reddit, Stern answered:

    “Don’t be evil.”

    I recommend the documentary. It’s as much an indictment of Discovery/TLC as of the religious sect.

  97. says

    First, Fox settled with Dominion Voting Systems. Now, it’s settled with former Fox producer Abby Grossberg. The Smartmatic case, however, is still pending.

    The Dominion Voting Systems defamation case against Fox News was already a serious problem for the network, but a former Fox producer named Abby Grossberg added a new wrinkle to the network’s troubles by filing her own litigation in March.

    The Dominion case was resolved with a $787.5 million settlement in April, and two months later, as NBC News reported, Fox has now reached an agreement with Grossberg, too.

    [Grossberg] settled a pair of lawsuits against the network and Carlson for $12 million, her attorney said Friday. … “While I stand by my publicly filed claims and allegations, in light of today’s settlement of $12 million, pursuant to which I have now withdrawn those claims, I am heartened that Fox News has taken me and my legal claims seriously. I am hopeful, based on our discussions with Fox News today, that this resolution represents a positive step by the Network regarding its treatment of women and minorities in the workplace,” [Grossberg said in a written statement].

    […] Grossberg, who worked for Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo, alleged in March that she not only saw a “toxic” workplace culture at Fox News that included misogyny and discrimination, the producer also claimed that the network’s lawyers “coerced, intimidated, and misinformed” her as they prepared her to testify in the Dominion defamation case.

    Fox News denied her claims, calling the allegations “baseless.” Her lawyers nevertheless said that Grossberg was concerned about having given “false/misleading and evasive answers” during her deposition following prep sessions with Fox’s legal team.

    She was fired soon after.

    As NBC News’ report added, Grossberg was “an active character” in the Dominion litigation: “Her deposition and emails were released amid thousands of pages of evidence made public during the court proceedings.” Indeed, when a judge sanctioned Fox News for withholding evidence, it was because of revelations from the producer.

    I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that Grossberg’s concerns contributed, not only to the settlement with Dominion, but also to Fox’s decision to part ways with Carlson.

    With this in mind, perhaps it’s not too surprising that the network settled with Grossberg, in the hopes of putting its post-election mess behind it.

    Grossberg sat down with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace in April to discuss her experiences. [video at the link]

    As for the network, Fox News issued a statement today that said, “We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter without further litigation.”

    Speaking of further litigation, a separate lawsuit, filed by Smartmatic — another voting technology company — is still pending. Like the Dominion case, Smartmatic is suing Fox for $2.7 billion stemming from the network’s controversial coverage of the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.

  98. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Twitter is requiring a sign-in. Oh, well.

    There’s still nitter. Given any twitter url, edit the hostname to a nitter instance.

    * In the upper right: [MagGlass]=Search, [Arcs]=RSS feed for the current profile, [Bird]=Twitter link for current page.
     
    Grr. Correction. Nitter’s all broken too. There’s a GitHub discussion with a screenshot of Musk saying, “Temporary emergency measure. We were getting data pillaged”. Of course no one believes him.

  99. says

    Ukraine Update: Worrying news from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

    On Thursday evening, a Telegram account belonging to Ukrainian military intelligence reported that Russian forces were decreasing around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant. Rosatom employees brought in from Russia were reportedly the first to depart, soldiers in the area were being reassigned elsewhere, and Ukrainian workers at the plant were warned to get away.

    The Ukrainian military followed up on Friday morning, indicating that both plant personnel and Russian military forces in the area were departing. They also indicated that Ukraine had performed nuclear disaster drills in the area.

    Russia has reportedly given a deadline of July 5 for its forces to be out of the area, which is once again creating worries that Vladimir Putin is about to take drastic action to slow Ukraine’s counteroffensive. [map at the link]

    Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia plant just over a week after Russian forces crossed the border into Ukraine. That capture came after a spectacular, and terrifying, sequence of events in which fighting at the nuclear facility was visible around the world in video from Enerhodar residents and local security cameras. [video at the link]

    Since Russia took control of the plant, there have been numerous occasions on which disaster—ranging from a controlled loss of the plant to a massive discharge of radioactive material across the surrounding area—has seemingly been near. That includes occasions where Russia has reportedly loaded the plant with explosives, shelled the plant themselves, and cut electrical lines necessary to the plant’s stability. Just over a month ago, Ukraine warned that Russia was preparing to create an “accident” at the plant.

    In that last month, Russia has blown up the Kakhovka Dam, resulting in an enormous change in the center of Ukraine. The Dnipro Reservoir formerly covered an area over 2,100 kilometers and in some places was over 20 km wide. It’s now largely gone.

    One of the results of the dam being lost was that the pipes at the Zaporizhzhia NPP no longer reach the river to provide cooling water. This also placed the cooling pool for the plant at risk of collapse. An international safety organization reported that “the loss of the pool would not necessarily be catastrophic as other sources of water could be brought in, such as pumping trucks, to prevent a meltdown of the plant’s nuclear fuel, but a loss of the cooling pool would dramatically increase safety concerns at the plant.”

    The current status of that cooling pool isn’t known. It’s also not known if Russia has made any effort to see that other sources of water were brought in.

    Earlier concerns about Zaporizhzhia NPP have lead to multiple analyses of the consequences of a failure, either by accident or through sabotage, and how it might compare to the Chernobyl disaster in northern Ukraine. Though the design of Zaporzhzhia is intrinsically safer than that of the reactor that failed disastrously at Chernobyl, there are concerns that its integrity may have been damaged by months of shelling in the area, or that Russia might have intentionally created conditions to worsen any failure.

    A report from the IAEA compiled shortly after their inspectors had first visited the site was not reassuring: “Any further escalation affecting the six-reactor plant could lead to a severe nuclear accident with potentially grave radiological consequences for human health and the environment in Ukraine and elsewhere.”

    Any accident at the plant could easily force Ukraine to evacuate citizens from a broad area, including the city of Zaporizhzhia (pop. 750,000) that lies 50 km northeast of the plant. Such an evacuation would be difficult in peacetime, but it would be a nightmare in the current circumstances, particularly if Russia used the evacuation as a chance to either direct missiles into masses of civilians or to launch fresh offensives while Ukraine was busy trying to get people out of the hot zone.

    It’s difficult to know just how seriously to take this threat. This is far from the first time that such concerns have been raised about the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. It’s not even the first time such concerns have appeared in an official statement from Ukrainian military intelligence.

    However, the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam shows that Russia is more than willing to cause immense environmental destruction and a massive human catastrophe to protect its invasion efforts. [images at the link]

    If they did that, it’s hard to say they would not take an even more significant step. Besides, no matter how many times someone shouts about a nuclear wolf, ignoring the threat just seems like a bad idea.

    ANTONIVKA BRIDGE

    It’s difficult to believe the small Ukrainian position established on the east bank of the Dnipro River across from Kherson will turn into any kind of genuine push to regain territory in this region. Without any kind of functional bridge, and with Russian artillery in range of any pontoon bridge that might be established, it seems unlikely that what Ukraine has shuttled across the river on barges represents a force sufficient to move much beyond their literal bridgehead in the shadow of the Antonivka Bridge.

    However, even this small group sure does seem to be making a pest of itself. In addition to fighting with Russian forces along the road to Oleshky, the Ukrainian troops seem stubbornly hard to push back across the river.

    On Friday, Russia took a break from shelling the Ukrainian position long enough to hit the Ukrainian base with a pair of Iskander short-range ballistic missiles. The “short range” in this case is in ballistic missile terms, as this weapon is still good for about 500 km. It’s likely that this pair was fired from somewhere well down in Crimea, Each of the missiles carries a high explosive warhead massing between 700 and 800 kg. [Tweets, image and video at the link]

    However, following the strike the Ukrainian base still appears to be up and active, with both men and machines visibly moving about. Either the Iskanders missed, or the Ukrainian forces are really dug in well at their bridgehead position.

    It appears that Russia made another attempt to regain control of things along the Kherson waterfront using a different method. That one also did not go well. (Trigger warning for very visible violence against individuals.) [Tweet and video at the link]

    Ukraine’s ability to maintain this position so far is astounding, but if the Antonivka bridgehead is going to do more than absorb Russian attacks, Ukraine is going to need a way to reinforce this position and to establish other such bridgeheads along the “left” bank of the Dnipro.

    SOUTHERN UKRAINE FRONT

    For those who have itchy “come on, I want to put more blue on the map!” fingers, progress in southern Ukraine continues to be frustratingly slow. However, most of what’s happening seems to be good news. [map at the link]

    Ukrainian forces are reported to be on the outskirts of Robotyne after three weeks of hard fighting. This is the same area where Leopard tanks were lost in the first days of the counteroffensive, but it seems that Ukrainian troops have largely penetrated the extensive minefield in this area and are continuing to advance.

    Now that they’ve taken Rivnopil, Ukrainian forces are reportedly pressing south from that location as well as from the town of Makarivka, which was liberated last week. That’s allowing Ukraine to hit the town of Staromaiorske from two directions as the movement south of Velyka Novosilka continues. This remains the largest area of Ukrainian progress so far since the first of the month.

    There’s more mixed news at Pyatykhatky where images show a Ukrainian tank (a T-72, not a Western tank) being taken out along the approach to Zherebyanky. Ukraine appears to control more area both west and south of Pyatykhatky, but movement here is definitely slow as fighting along the same small stretch of road continues.

    BAKHMUT AREA

    There are conflicting narratives going on right now about what’s happening south of the city. Multiple accounts report continued Ukrainian progress at both Klishchiivka and Kurdyumivka, with Ukrainian forces either at the outskirts, or in partial control, of both towns. But one usually reputable account is reporting Progress with a capital “P,” as in Ukraine clearing the minefields along the canal, reaching Klishchiivka, and pushing Russia rapidly back. [map at the link]

    Supporting that narrative is news that Ukraine has captured an entire Russian airborne company that was formerly stationed between the canal and Klishchiivka, reportedly because the Ukrainian forces moved into the area before Russia could evacuate.

    If reports about the speed of movement in this area are accurate, the map to the south of the city should look significantly different in the next few days.

    Further south at Kurdyumivka, Ukrainian forces are reportedly working their way through the town after planting a flag on the water works at the western edge on Thursday. You can tell that the fight here has been carried out over several days, but is now hitting the point where Russian forces have stepped back, because the Ukrainian troops have had time to edit and produce a video of the fight leading up to the town. (This one gets another trigger warning for close-up personal violence.) [Tweet and video at the link]

    On the north side of Bakhmut, Ukraine continues to make progress around Yahidne and in the city east of Khromove. But fighting is also going on at the northern end of what remains of the Russian salient along the M03 highway.

    That fighting includes what appears to be a stock T-62 driving along the road through Zaliznyanske. That Russia has cracked out these rusty old tanks in the area around Bakhmut tells you how far down in the barrel they are reaching. Also this one seems to have forgotten about mines it had just finished laying. [tweet and video at the link]

    What kind of day has it been for Ukraine? This kind of day: [Lists of Russian equipment losses added on June 27, 2023; and an overview of Russian equipment losses added on June 30, 2023.]

    Okay, so Russia didn’t lose 17 tanks in a day, but […] that’s a lot of Russian rolling stock that has stopped rolling.

  100. Oggie: Mathom says

    META:

    Every time I read ‘Antonivka’, my mind inserts ‘Anatevka’. Of Fiddler on the Roof fame.

  101. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Follow-up to #128:
    AqueelMiq, Twitter dev: “this is a temporary restriction, we will re-enable logged out twitter access in the near future” (written 2023-06-30 14:13 EDT)

    Found via MetaFilter discussion.

    Mashable – Twitter now blocks visitors […] unless they’re logged in

    “This is very concerning,” [Musk] tweeted [June 17th] in the replies to one Twitter user walking his followers through how to use the [Twitter] web-scraping plugin with ChatGPT.

    Embeds in articles apparentlly work.

  102. Reginald Selkirk says

    North Carolina megachurch exits Southern Baptist Convention after expulsions over women pastors

    Less than a month after finalizing the ouster of one of its largest churches for having women pastors, the Southern Baptist Convention has lost another of its biggest congregations.

    Elevation Church — a North Carolina-based megachurch that draws thousands of worshippers to its multiple campuses and has wielded a strong influence on contemporary Christian worship music — sent notice to the SBC on June 26 that it was withdrawing its affiliation…

  103. Reginald Selkirk says

    RFK Jr.’s town hall showed the folly of trying to fact-check quackery in real time

    America’s cable news networks seem determined to prove that old adage defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    Case in point: The 90-minute town hall appearance that News Nation, an upward-scurrying cable news wannabe, granted Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Wednesday night. Kennedy says he’s running for the Democratic nomination for president.

    The program served largely to underscore a lesson that the media world should have absorbed from CNN’s misbegotten May 10 town hall with Donald Trump: Trying to fact-check anyone who pumps out misinformation and disinformation via a verbal fire hose is a fool’s errand.

    News Nation apparently didn’t get the message…

  104. Reginald Selkirk says

    Older Americans can get RSV vaccine this fall after consulting their doctor, CDC says

    Americans 60 and older can get a new RSV vaccine but should discuss it with their doctor first, U.S. health officials recommended Thursday.

    The newly approved vaccines are expected to be ready in the fall, a time when flu shots and updated COVID-19 shots also will be available. Those eligible for the RSV vaccine should talk with their doctor to see if it is right for them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

    The CDC said adults with chronic heart or lung disease, weakened immune systems and those living in long-term care facilities are at higher risk for the respiratory infection…

  105. says

    Plant Based News – “Another UK University Has Voted To Go Plant-Based”:

    The University of Kent student union has voted in favor of transitioning its campus to 100 percent plant-based catering.

    In what’s thought to be a record breaking voting turnout, 450 students supported the Plant-Based Universities notion to remove animal products from university-run catering facilities. Kent’s student union officially passed the motion on June 22. It will now lobby the catering services to make the transition to a fully plant-based menu by the year 2027-2028.

    “It is amazing to see universities taking concrete steps towards halting climate change and safeguarding our future,” Chris Chudley, Plant Based Universities campaigner at The University of Kent, told Plant Based News. “Based on climate science, professional medical advice, and economic trends, it is clear to see that a plant-based food system is not only necessary, but accessible to all.”

    This is just the latest in an ever-growing list of UK universities to have made similar moves. In November 2022, the University of Stirling’s student union voted to only serve plant-based food from 2025. Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, Birmingham, and London Metropolitan have all recently called for similar measures.

    Plant-Based Universities was set up in response to the catastrophic impact animal agriculture has on the planet. Livestock farming is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Some experts believe this figure has been underestimated, however. The industry is also driving deforestation, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

    Kent’s Student Union President, Zaid Mahmood, described the decision to move away from animal products as “an extremely important step in combating the climate crisis.” They added that we “must tackle” the crisis together….

    Also at PBN – “Meat-Eating In Germany Hits A Record Low.”

  106. says

    From last week:

    Guardian – “Groundbreaking youth-led climate trial comes to an end in Montana”:

    Ruling could take weeks to emerge in trial for Held v Montana, which is the first constitutional climate trial in US history…

    DeSmog – “Montana’s Narrow Defense in Youth Climate Trial Was Devoid of Climate Science”:

    The state canceled two of its three expert witnesses and those who testified repeatedly emphasized that they are not scientists….

  107. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Follow-up to p6 #363: It passed on the last day of the session.

    Delaware House approves bill allowing business entities to vote in town’s municipal elections

    Lawmakers voted 35-6 […] The Senate declined to take up the measure, although it could be revisited when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
    […]
    Seaford’s charter change […] drew national attention because of media campaigns by opposition groups including Common Cause and the American Civil Liberties Union. […] The bill was resurrected Friday following closed-door deal-making by GOP lawmakers and majority Democrats, who control both chambers of the Legislature.
    […]
    Any such entity would have only one vote, no matter how many properties it might own. […] an artificial entity would be required to certify the identities of all beneficial owners. Those names would be cross-referenced with voter registration lists to guard against multiple votes on behalf of related entities with common ownership.

  108. says

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

    The top US military officer, army general Mark Milley, has warned that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will be very difficult and that achieving gains will take a long time and be “very, very bloody”. “No one should have any illusions about any of that,” he said in Washington.

    The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has arrived in Kyiv to meet the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He addressed the Ukrainian parliament. He is visiting Kyiv on the first day of Spain’s six-month presidency of the European Council.

    Ukraine’s defence ministry claims its forces have killed more than 228,000 Russian military personnel since the invasion began last year. The ministry also claims Russia has lost about 4,041 tanks, 7,863 armoured vehicles and 3,519 drones. Figures from Ukraine’s defence ministry suggest there were almost 20,000 deaths among Russian military forces in June alone.

    The CIA director, William Burns, travelled to Ukraine recently and met with intelligence counterparts and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a trip that was not reported at the time, a US official has confirmed to Agence France-Presse. According to the Washington Post, which first reported the visit, Ukrainian officials shared plans to take back Russian-occupied territory and begin ceasefire negotiations by the end of the year….

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said a serious threat remains at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant because Russia is technically ready to provoke a localised explosion at the facility, Reuters reports….

    Media outlets from “unfriendly countries” are due to be banned from Belarus.

    The Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has signed a law allowing media from “unfriendly countries” – those that have imposed sanctions on Belarus – to be banned, Pul Pervovo, a state outlet that reports on Lukashenko’s activities, said on Saturday.

  109. says

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

    The funeral of Nahel, the teenager killed in a fatal police shooting on Tuesday, has started in the Paris suburb of Nanterre where he lived.

    A large crowd has gathered at the local cemetery and the atmosphere is tense, a reporter from Agence France-Presse observed….

    An academic has called for a discussion of the structural causes of the violence that has erupted in France after the police killing of a 17-year-old boy.

    Ariane Basthard-Bogain, a lecturer in French and politics at Northumbria University in England, told France 24:

    What we’ve seen over the past few days is a lot of discourse about law and order, about restoring order, about how awful this violence is.

    What we haven’t heard is a discussion of the structural causes of all of this and a long-term solution from it by the authorities.

    So it’s very much framed as a violent uprising but what we really need to focus on is why it was created in the first place.

    The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has postponed a state visit to Germany because of the ongoing unrest in France, German authorities have said.

    Macron was expected to arrive in the country on Sunday for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to discuss key policy areas….

    Also, Rokhaya Diallo in the Guardian – “France has ignored racist police violence for decades. This uprising is the price of that denial”:

    Since the video went viral of the brutal killing by a police officer of Nahel, a 17-year-old shot dead at point-blank range, the streets and housing estates of many poorer French neighbourhoods have been in a state of open revolt. “France faces George Floyd moment,” I read in the international media, as if we were suddenly waking up to the issue of racist police violence. This naive comparison itself reflects a denial of the systemic racist violence that for decades has been inherent to French policing.

    Nahel’s death is another chapter in a long and traumatic story. Whatever our age, many of us French who are descended from postcolonial immigration carry within us this fear combined with rage, the result of decades of accumulated injustice. This year, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of a seminal event. In 1983, Toumi Djaïdja, a 19-year-old from a Lyon banlieue, became the victim of police violence that left him in a coma for two weeks. This was the genesis of the March for Equality and Against Racism, the first antiracist demonstration on a national scale, in which 100,000 people took part.

    For 40 years this movement has not stopped calling out the violence we see targeted at working-class neighbourhoods and more broadly black people and people of north African origin. The crimes of the police are at the root of many of the uprisings in France’s most impoverished urban areas, and it is these crimes that must be condemned first. After years of marches, petitions, open letters and public requests, a disaffected youth finds no other way to be heard than by rioting. It is difficult to avoid asking if, without so many uprisings in cities across France, Nahel’s death would have garnered the attention it has. And as Martin Luther King rightly said: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

  110. says

    The Mysterious Case of the Fake Gay Marriage Website, the Real Straight Man, and the Supreme Court

    In filings in the 303 Creative v. Elenis case is a supposed request for a gay wedding website—but the man named in the request says he never filed it.

    Here is what we know—though, to be frank, I do not know what we have learned from this yearslong mystery, other than it looks like Smith and her attorneys have, perhaps unwittingly, invented a gay couple in need of a wedding website in a case in which they argue that same-sex marriages are “false.” [Why include “unwittingly”?]

    When Smith and her attorneys, the Christian right group Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, brought this case for the first time, it was to the United States District Court in Colorado in 2016, and they lost. Smith and ADF filed the case on September 20 of that year, asking the court to enjoin the state anti-discrimination law so that Smith could begin offering her wedding website design services to straight couples only.

    Up to this point, Smith had never designed any wedding website. (In fact, her website six months prior to the lawsuit being filed in 2016 does not include any of the Christian messaging that it did shortly afterward and today, archived versions of the site show.) The initial lawsuit did not mention the “Stewart” inquiry, which was submitted to Smith’s website on September 21, according to the date-stamp shown in later court filings, indicating that she received it the day after the suit was originally filed.

    […] This week, I decided to call Stewart and ask him about his inquiry.

    “I wouldn’t want anybody to … make me a wedding website?” he continued, sounding a bit puzzled but good-natured about the whole thing. “I’m married, I have a child—I’m not really sure where that came from? But somebody’s using false information in a Supreme Court filing document.”

    […] “I’m not really sure where that came from,” he told me of the mysterious 2016 inquiry that used his name, email address, and cell phone number to request a wedding website for a same-sex marriage nearly a decade after he married a woman. He is a designer himself, something of a known quantity in design circles—he’s spoken at conferences and on podcasts, and has a “decent Twitter following,” he said. The design world is small. But not small enough, he said, that he had heard of Lorie Smith—not until her case was already before the Supreme Court, and the design community began discussing its potential fallout.

    It didn’t make sense to him, he told me later via text message. Why would a web designer—as the website the inquiry referenced as his own made clear that he was—living in San Francisco, seek to hire someone in another state who has never built a wedding website, let alone a website for a same-sex wedding, to build his wedding website?

    […] Maybe it should not be a surprise, though, that this strange fake “request” popped up in a case in which the plaintiff’s main argument rested on the claim that someday, out there, a same-sex couple would want her to design a wedding website. The closest thing Smith had to an actual inquiry—the nonwedding of Stewart and Mike—arrived within 24 hours of her having filed a suit in which said inquiry would be potentially a helpful piece of supporting evidence.

    […] Their entire case, after all, is built around the idea of gay people doing something that they have not yet done, nor ever will do. […]

  111. says

    Wonkette: “Joe Biden’s Here With A Few Choice Words About The Supreme Court’s Student Debt Decision”

    […] In his White House statement, Biden said he believed the Supremes got it wrong, but also called attention to other measures his administration has taken to help ease the cost of higher education and get a handle on student debt:

    While today’s decision is disappointing, we should not lose sight of the progress we’ve made – making historic increases to Pell Grants; forgiving loans for teachers, firefighters, and others in public service; and creating a new debt repayment plan, so no one with an undergraduate loan has to pay more than 5 percent of their discretionary income.

    And that last part, a revision to the Income Driven Repayment (IDR) program, is pretty darned impressive, as we discussed when the administration rolled it out. Beyond that, the Education Department is doing a one-time adjustment to millions of student loan balances, to fix a stupid mess created by student loan processing companies that affected millions of borrowers; we’ll be posting a new guide to that not-very-publicized program […]

    We wonder if Biden’s going to talk about the one-time adjustment, or if that’s too weedsy for TV?

    In any case, this is probably going to shape up as a major issue for 2024: The Court said Congress would have to pass any student debt relief, so how about we elect a Congress and reelect a president who’ll get that done? Sure beats the GOP proposal to convert people with student debt into Soylent Green.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    The reason tuition is so high everywhere is a combination of Republicans cutting funding for education _and_ the colleges realizing that student loan providers will lend without limit and all loans are backstopped by the government and not dischargable in bankruptcy. So there is no reason to reduce tuition.

    And why were student loan rates so high when other interest rates were near zero? Because fuck you, that’s why.
    ———————–
    Here in Australia, under the short-lived Prime Ministership of Gough Whitlam (back in the 1970s) tertiary education was made free. A lot of other great measures were taken too. Of course, a drunken pompous clown of a governor-general from England dismissed Gough’s government and replaced him with the arrogant conservative, Malcolm Fraser, famous for the comment “Life wasn’t meant to be easy,” even though he’d been born with a silver spoon in his own snooty mouth, but it sure was nice while it lasted.
    ———————–
    The Supremacist court is the attack wing of the GOP.
    ———————–
    Of course the illegitimate party hacks voted to fuck the middle class. They wouldn’t do something to put their free Alaskan vacations at risk.
    ———————–
    Provide their itineraries to the Orcas🤔

    Statement from President Joe Biden on Supreme Court Decision on Student Loan Debt Relief

    This fight is not over. […]

    My Administration’s student debt relief plan would have been the lifeline tens of millions of hardworking Americans needed as they try to recover from a once-in-a-century pandemic. Nearly 90 percent of the relief from our plan would have gone to borrowers making less than $75,000 a year, and none of it would have gone to people making more than $125,000. It would have been life-changing for millions of Americans and their families. And it would have been good for economic growth, both in the short- and long-term.

    The hypocrisy of Republican elected officials is stunning. They had no problem with billions in pandemic-related loans to businesses – including hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of dollars for their own businesses. And those loans were forgiven. But when it came to providing relief to millions of hard-working Americans, they did everything in their power to stop it.

    While today’s decision is disappointing, we should not lose sight of the progress we’ve made – making historic increases to Pell Grants; forgiving loans for teachers, firefighters, and others in public service; and creating a new debt repayment plan, so no one with an undergraduate loan has to pay more than 5 percent of their discretionary income.

    I believe that the Court’s decision to strike down our student debt relief plan is wrong.

    But I will stop at nothing to find other ways to deliver relief to hard-working middle-class families. My Administration will continue to work to bring the promise of higher education to every American. […]

  112. says

    SC @148, that was excellent coverage of the issues by Chris Hayes.

    Followup to comment 147.

    […] President Joe Biden announced in an Oval Office speech that he’ll take a different pathway to forgive the loans.

    “We will ground this new approach in a different law than my original plan: the Higher Education Act,” Biden said. “That will allow Secretary Cardona, who is with me today, to compromise, waive or release loans under certain circumstances.”

    “This new path is legally sound,” he added. “It’s gonna take longer — but in my view, it’s the best path that remains to provide as many borrowers as possible with debt relief.”

    […] the Department of Education had already initiated the rulemaking process for the new student loan forgiveness program, which will start with a virtual public hearing on July 18.

    That plan, Biden said, will be coupled with another: a one-year “on-ramp repayment program.”

    According to the White House, the new repayment program will run from October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2024 so “financially vulnerable borrowers who miss monthly payments during this period are not considered delinquent, reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies.”

    The administration also finalized what it’s touting as the “most affordable repayment plan ever created” to cut the amount borrowers have to pay each month, forgive debts after 10 years of payments instead of 20 for certain borrowers and not charge borrowers unpaid monthly interest.

    The new path to relief seems to hinge on the Higher Education’s Act “compromise and settlement” authority, which some scholars have interpreted to give the Education Secretary broad latitude to waive debts. The longer process Biden alludes to is likely the rule-making and congressional review process for the agency action.

    If the new pathway is finalized, it will almost certainly also be challenged in court. The Supreme Court rejected Biden’s old student debt plan Friday in large part due to the major questions doctrine, a right-wing theory that lets the Court stop deferring to agencies when their actions are of “economic or political significance” — a vague threshold the right-wing majority has frequently used to knock down Biden administration agency actions.

    Biden juxtaposed his attempts to get relief Friday — heavily opposed by Republicans — with many of those congressional Republicans’ netting of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the pandemic. […]

    Link

  113. says

    Followup to comment 149.

    Kagan Decries Use Of Right-Wing ‘Doctrine’ In Student Loan Decision As ‘Danger To A Democratic Order’

    In knocking down President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, the right-wing Supreme Court majority does more than keep millions of American saddled with debt — it continues to shift enormous power away from Congress and the executive branch to itself.

    The majority — “as is becoming the norm,” Justice Elena Kagan narrates in her dissent — relies heavily on the major questions “doctrine,” a theory in vogue in right-wing legal circles. It dictates that when executive branch agencies take action of major “economic and political significance,” they lose the usual judicial deference they enjoy. That standard of significance is wholly in the eye of the beholder — an amorphousness the majority has continually taken advantage of. That has usually translated, in the hands of this conservative Court, into various Biden administration actions meeting their doom.

    While the Court often protests that it’s really shifting power back to Congress when it knocks down agency actions, it does so knowing that Congress is usually stalemated by various factors (split party control, the Senate filibuster) that make it extremely difficult for the legislature to pass many major laws.

    It also disrupts the usual separation of powers balance: Congress writes broad laws authorizing agencies to deal with issues (letting the Environmental Protection Agency regulate air pollution or the Education Department deal with federal student debt), passing on the responsibility of crafting the specifics to the expert-staffed agencies. But this Court continues to impose itself on that process, deciding that Congress didn’t meet some vague standard of specificity in its delegation and knocking down agency actions it doesn’t like.

    […] This is more than just a constant barrier for Democratic administrations that seek to limit pollution, regulate workplace safety, shore up housing stability or mitigate ballooning student debt. It’s also an unprecedented power grab, as the unelected justices substitute themselves for the much more democratically accountable entities meant to decide and craft policy.

    Kagan points out that Congress is directly elected by the people, and that agencies derive their power from the President.

    […] Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, seethes at Kagan’s candor, calling it a “disturbing feature” of recent opinions that the dissenting liberals have called out the Court’s appropriation of power.

    In a thinly veiled warning, he says that a “misperception” that such criticisms are “disparagement” rather than “heartfelt disagreement” would be “harmful to this institution and our country.”

    Kagan is unbowed by the reprimand to simmer down.

    “Justices throughout history have raised the alarm when the Court has overreached — when it has ‘exceed[ed] its proper, limited role in our Nation’s governance,’” she responds. “It would have been ‘disturbing,’ and indeed damaging, if they had not. The same is true in our own day.”

    Link

  114. says

    Followup to comment 150.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Administrative Law 101: the reason the regulatory agencies exist is that Congress has a limited capacity to enact laws with the specificity necessary to accomplish its broad goals. Can you imagine MTG and her cohort trying to set standards for permissible regulatory levels of hazardous pollutants in air or water? Or defining what “waters of the United States” should be regulated to protect drinking water drawn by wells from ground water?

    And now we see the arrogation of this power by the Supreme Court, which consists of nine people, not a single one of whom is expert in any of the areas for which the agencies enact rules to protect our citizens, whether it be from pollution or predatory lenders or any other threat.
    ——————–
    Where was the “major questions” disagreement when Trump’s Executive Order moved money from the Defense Department to build his “beautiful” wall?
    ————————–
    “Shifting power back to Congress” by trampling on the plain intent of legislation as passed by Congress that established the agencies and gave them regulatory authority in the first place.
    ————————
    The corrupt majority simply used the “despite the law allowing for it, and precedent should dictate here, however we don’t like it” clause in the Constitution.
    ————————-
    The true “doctrine” is simple: the true power of the government lies in any branch with a Republican majority at that moment.

  115. Reginald Selkirk says

    Pope names Argentine bishop, author of kissing book, to top Vatican post

    Pope Francis has named an Argentine theologian and prolific author who decades ago wrote a book on the healing properties of kissing to be the Catholic Church’s new doctrinal chief, one of the Vatican’s top posts.

    A Vatican statement on Saturday said Francis had chosen fellow Argentine Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez to be the head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF).

    The DDF, modern-day successor of the notorious Inquisition which persecuted heretics, is tasked with promoting and safeguarding doctrine on faith and morals. It monitors theological work to make sure it adheres to Church doctrine and issues guidance, clarifications, and corrections…

  116. says

    Ukraine Update: ‘Swedish Brigade’ deploys to Bakhmut; new long-range missiles possible for Ukraine

    Ukrainian CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles have been spotted deploying to the Bakhmut area, sporting unit patches of the 21st Mechanized Brigade. These Swedish-made IFVs are considered some of the most powerful ones in Ukraine’s arsenal, on a similar tier as American Bradley and German Marder IFVs.

    In the past week, Ukraine’s 22nd Mechanized, 30th Mechanized, and 57th Motorized Brigades have also been deployed north of Bakhmut. This follows a trend: Ukraine may be increasing its combat power in areas where it can engage Russian troops not currently behind fortified lines.

    Meanwhile, there are ongoing discussions of two new long-ranged missile systems that may be provided to Ukraine as soon as this month—systems that may have significant impacts on the battlefield.

    THE “SWEDISH BRIGADE” AND OTHER FORCES ARRIVE IN BAKHMUT

    In mid-May, there was a surprise announcement that an entire Ukrainian brigade had secretly been being trained by the Swedish Army, and was nearly ready to deploy. The brigade was to have been equipped with some of the best weaponry that Ukraine has in its possession:
    – Stridsvagn 122: The Strv 122 is a Swedish upgrade to the Leopard 2 tank considered a rough analog to the Leopard 2A5. Alongside the Challenger 2 and Leopard 2A6, the Strv 122 is considered one of Ukraine’s most powerful Western tanks, designed for enhanced mobility in snow or mud.
    – CV90 IFV: a highly mine-resistant, thermal-camouflaged, and heavily armored IFV capable of carrying eight troopers. While it lacks an integrated anti-tank missile system, like the Marder or Bradley IFVs, the CV90 has a 40mm auto-cannon that can quickly destroy any armored vehicle in the Russian army—short of a Main Battle Tank. The auto-cannon is devastating against enemy infantry, both in buildings or the open. The CV90 is also designed for enhanced mobility in snow or mud.
    – FH77BW L52 Archer Artillery System: This self-propelled long-ranged howitzer fires NATO standard 155mm artillery shells. It features a novel 21-shell, fully automatic, auto-loading system that gives it a rate of fire much faster than most of its contemporaries, making it ideal for modern shoot-and-scoot (to move and quickly relocate) tactics.

    The brigade was reportedly filled out with other NATO standard weaponry and vehicles, and trained in NATO-style tactics. It can be fairly described as one of the most powerful brigades in the Ukrainian military.

    As noted above, Ukrainian CV90s were spotted wearing 21st Mechanized Brigade patches traveling northwest of Bakhmut, indicating that the Swedish-trained brigade’s identity is the 21st Mechanized.

    The significance of the 21st Mechanized patch is that we finally have definitive evidence of the Swedish-trained brigade’s identity. It also confirms it was one of the nine NATO-trained and equipped heavy armored brigades identified in the leaked Pentagon papers. The names of eight such brigades were identified in the leaked papers: 7th, 21st, 32nd, 33rd, 37th, 82nd, 117th, and 118th Brigades, with a ninth name being illegible.

    As a NATO-trained/-equipped heavy armored brigade, the 21st “Swedish” Mechanized is the highest-profile unit deployed to the eastern front since the start of the summer counteroffensive.

    Russians have mirrored these movements by recently committing to Bakhmut Private Military Company veterans, Patriot, Potok, and Fakel, as well as the 11th and 31st Guards Air Assault Brigades. Both sides appear to be increasing their force commitments.

    In the broadest terms, Bakhmut is dominated by four different areas of high ground. I call these the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Heights, but to be clear, these are not what locals or any formal cartographer calls them, but my personal easy shorthand to understand the battle. [map at the link]

    Ukraine controls of the Western Heights, around the village of Khromove. Russia controls the Northern (Berkhivka) Heights, Southern (Klishchiivka) Heights, and Eastern (Vesela Dolyna) Heights.

    Ukraine has been driving for the town of Klishchiivka, around which are the Southern Heights.

    The below unit identities and positions are aggregated from Ukraine Control Map, Poulet Volent, and Andrew Perpetua. [map at the link]

    In the past week, Ukrainian forces have succeeded in forcing Russian units west of the canal to retreat east, and begun gaining positions on the east side.

    Ukrainian troops are pressing close to Kurdyumivka (to the south of the map above), and the key Southern Heights town of Klishchivka. The main objective, for now, is likely Klishchivka, but capturing Kurdyumivka will likely expose Klishchivka’s southern flank—representing major progress towards capturing the Southern Heights.

    The three key units driving the offensive action in this area are the 3rd Assault, the 80th Air Assault, and the 28th Mechanized Brigade. All three units have been engaged in the Bakhmut sector since at least February; the Third Assault Brigade arrived in this sector last fall. None of these units were tabbed for the counteroffensive—they have been deployed in this area for months.

    However, Ukraine has strengthened these attacks by deploying three Territorial Defense Brigades in the 104th, 112th, and 118th TDBs. Territorial Defense units are lesser-trained units than the regular army, generally receiving only four months of training, as opposed to the six-month minimum for regular army troops.

    Many TDF units have a high proportion of conscripts, whereas the regular army gets the highest motivated volunteers. Some TDF units even received conscripts sent to the front with only days of training, particularly when Ukraine was trying to hoard its trained units for the offensive in the late spring.

    However, on average, Ukraine’s TDF units tend to have higher training standards than their conscripted Russian counterparts, and have performed quite well in many theaters. They do tend to represent a lower standard of training and generally are lower in priority for advanced weaponry.

    Ukraine choosing to reinforce the southern attacks with TDF troops perhaps reflects an eagerness by the Ukrainian general staff to preserve the premier combat power of Ukraine’s reserves for other sectors, while still reinforcing the attack

    This approach contrasts very sharply with the numerous regular army units seen taking positions in Northern Bakhmut over the past several days. They include:
    – 21st Mechanized (“Swedish”): NATO trained & equipped elite brigade;
    – 22nd Mechanized: newly formed brigade with advanced Polish-made PT-91 tanks;
    – 30th Mechanized : A veteran unit that fought in the War in Donbas since 2014, fought in the Battle of Bakhmut since the summer of 2022 on regular rotation; the 30th rotated out of Bakhmut sometime during the late spring, and rotated back into position in the past few days. [map at the link]

    The 57th Motor Rifle Brigade has been leading the attack, pressing into parts of the key town of Bekhivka, on the eastern edge of what I call the Northern Heights. The 30th Mechanized Brigade has been attacking the salient from the north. The goal appears to be to pincer this salient and, if possible, converge on the area around Krasna Hora to eject the Russians out of the Northern flank of Bakhmut.

    While the 21st and 22nd MB have not been deployed—from what I can gather—whenever they are released into battle they should represent a powerful additional armored punch.

    Russia has deployed additional new troops in Bakhmut as well, including several Private Military Companies. These semi-independent groups are much like Wagner, but the mercenaries of these companies are made to sign contracts directly with the Ministry of Defense. This makes them much closer tied to the MoD than with Wagner. The quality and quantity of these PMCs are as yet unknown.

    The 11th and 31st Guards Air Assault Brigades were also spotted, which would represent the commitment by Russia of some of the few remaining reserve elite paratrooper units.

    More Ukraine updates coming soon.

  117. says

    Followup to Reginald @153.

    Trump says Lindsey Graham can help him get ‘liberal votes’ as crowd boos mention of senator

    […] “You know, you can make mistakes on occasion. Even Lindsey down here, Senator Lindsey Graham. We love Senator Graham,” Trump said at a rally in Pickens, S.C., drawing boos from the crowd.

    “I know, it’s half-and-half,” he continued. “But when I need some of those liberal votes, he’s always there to help me get them, okay. We got some pretty liberal people, but he’s good.”

    Graham, who has endorsed the former president’s 2024 bid for the presidency, spoke at the rally earlier on Saturday and was similarly met with a chorus of boos and shouts of “traitor” from the crowd.

    Trump has previously described Graham as a “progressive” on a several occasions.

    “Lindsey Graham, the progressive from South Carolina,” the former president said at a campaign event in New Hampshire in April, adding, “No, he’s a progressive, but he’s got some good things, too, okay?”

    Utterly ridiculous.

  118. says

    Update on Madonna news:

    Madonna has always been a subject of controversy. There are those of us who love her and those who just seem to be weirdly angry about the fact that she even exists. There’s been a lot of vitriol towards her lately from people who disapprove of the way she looks and the fact that she is still out here being sexy and doing tours with Sam Smith at the age of 64 instead of being a proper and respectable old lady — as if Madonna was ever trying to be a proper and respectable anything.

    But I digress! Because today we’re not going to talk about the mainstream vitriol towards Madge, or how a lot of over-criticism of Botox and fillers tends to veer into the misogyny lane, or even the ways in which she has been an icon for those of us with little gaps in our front teeth, but rather the totally bananas conspiracy theories about her that have been boppin’ around the weird part of internet this week.

    As you may or may not know, the Material Girl was admitted to the ICU for several days this week after contracting a bacterial illness. This could be a wide variety of things but what it’s definitely not is a reaction to the COVID vaccine. Why? Because it has literally nothing to do with bacteria. [Tweet at the link]

    Also, she would have had to have had the vaccine very recently in order to have experienced any complications at all from it.

    Ironically, Madonna herself had brief dalliances with some anti-vax nonsense, though it appears she’s gotten over that. Or we can hope she has, because she hasn’t brought it up in the last two years and no Madonna phase has ever lasted that long.

    The accusations are not surprising. There is a deep, deep desperation among the anti-vax crowd to link every possible illness or injury or death to the vaccine, in hopes that it will validate their nonsense. The account that posted that tweet, Died Suddenly, literally just publishes obituaries that say people “died suddenly” and concludes that their deaths were caused by the vaccine. Because no one ever used that phrase before 2021.

    That being said, the “Madonna got a bacterial infection from a vaccine she probably hasn’t taken in a while!” theories were really just the tip of the iceberg.

    There were also a lot of people out there who believed that this had something to do with either a lack of adrenochrome or the fact that this Madonna is a clone that was created after the real Madonna was tried by a military tribunal at Gitmo and executed for her crimes against humanity, and the clone is deteriorating. Or both, because the clone was also taking adrenochrome and suffering from health issues due to the fact that the adrenochrome supply has dwindled as a result of Donald Trump’s successes in destroying the child trafficking rings.

    (Adrenochrome is a real chemical substance that is made by oxidizing epinephrine, but QAnon people think it is a drug, made by scaring children with Satanic ritual abuse and then draining their adrenal glands, that is “ten times more potent than heroin” and also keeps all of the celebrities young-looking. In reality, adrenochrome will not get you high or keep you young looking.) [Thanks, Wonkette, for providing the facts.]

    [Tweets at the link] Several posted an official list of all celebrities that have been executed (or who are awaiting trial) at Gitmo for their crimes against humanity, on which Madonna is #172, as proof of her death. [list at the link] Because no way could anyone make an Excel spreadsheet like that if the claims were not true.

    For the unhep, the QAnon people believe that the “white hats” (what they call the people who are on their side, working to destroy “the cabal”) secretly arrested all of the bad celebrities and politicians while we were in lockdown in order to try them in military tribunals for crimes against humanity at Guantanamo Bay. We haven’t noticed this, because they have either been replaced by clones meant to die at opportune times or are under house arrest, and everything that seems like reality now is a “movie” that they are putting on in the time being before they blow our minds with what’s really been going on. At this point we will all be shocked and horrified and turn desperately to the QAnon people to help us understand.

    Many QAnon people think this has something to do with them, in particular, because of how Madonna posted a tweet with the phrase “The Calm Before The Storm” a couple days before going to the ICU. It was a reference to the fact that she was getting ready for her tour, but that’s one of their big sayings, so they believe it’s “comms.” Like, they think that Madonna (or her clone) is sending out a secret message to other celebrities (or their clones?) about how something is going to happen in Italy, which it probably will because things happen everywhere all of the time. […]

    I guess where I’m confused is that, if the real Madonna was executed for her “crimes” in 2020 and replaced by a clone … who did the replacing? Was it the “white hats?” And if so, why would they make a bad clone who, we can assume, still shoots up an imaginary drug made from the adrenal glands of frightened children? Isn’t that what they’re trying to stop? Why wouldn’t they make a good clone that works for them? I have many questions.

    Link

    Well, that was some Saturday-worthy fun.

  119. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    TheGuardian – Twitter applies reading limit after users report issues with platform

    Verified accounts were temporarily limited to reading 6,000 posts a day, Musk said, adding that unverified accounts and new unverified accounts were limited to reading 600 posts a day and 300 […] respectively.

    In a later tweet […] “Rate limits increasing soon to 8,000 for verified, 800 for unverified & 400 for new unverified.”

     
    Folks are getting limited after a few minutes of scrolling.
    Advertisers and blue checks, who paid to be seen, will surely appreciate this.

    “[…] Twitter is DDOSing itself. […] firing off about 10 requests a second to itself to try and fetch content that never arrives […]”

    There had been a Google Cloud contract due for renewal June 30. Twitter was delinquent, scrambling behind schedule to move off that infrastructure, then decided to resume the contract. So speculation blaming that is mistaken.

  120. says

    Wonkette: “Ron DeSantis Is A Proud Cannibal /Lizard Person” [The article is illustrated with an image of Ron’s head, in a swamp, with his fellow lizards, with lizard eyes (crocodile eyes?) and fangs for teeth. This is an image the Ron DeSantis campaign for President actually included in their latest ad.]

    On Friday, the Ron DeSantis campaign dropped a new, entirely batshit ad, the gist of which appears to be “Donald Trump is nowhere near enough of a raging bigot for you people — vote for Ron DeSantis, a sociopathic lizard person with a fondness for bodybuilders, who will fuck and/or eat some dead people, lock up all of the queers and … maybe even make them fight lions in a gladiator arena?”

    The ad, truly, is as confusing as it is viciously bigoted. [video available at the link]

    So it starts out with some real bad EDM [electronic dance music] and Donald Trump’s speech at the RNC in which he promised to “protect our LGBTQ community,” followed by a bunch cherry-picked quotes about LGBTQ people in which he, frankly, managed to not sound like a giant asshole. Where he said Caitlyn Jenner could use any bathroom she wanted in Trump Tower and he wouldn’t have a problem with it, and where he said he would be fine with trans women competing in Miss USA.

    But then, it switches to some equally bad, much darker sounding EDM, and starts showing clips of Ron DeSantis accompanied by various headlines about what a bad person he is and all of the horrible things he’s done to the LGBTQ+ community …

    … interspersed with clips from American Psycho, The Wolf of Wall Street, Brad Pitt as a gladiator and pictures of sexy, glistening bodybuilders. (Edit: Apparently the Brad Pitt part is actually him as Achilles in Troy, which I have not seen.)

    For real. [glistening bodybuilder image/screengrab]

    t also features the image of DeSantis as a lizard person pictured above, an interesting choice given that the “Believes Lizard People Are Controlling The World” demographic largely votes Republican.

    It’s really like he’s just leaning into the fact that Republican voters want to vote for a truly awful human being and making that his whole bit. Can’t say they won’t be into it.

  121. says

    Followup to comment 154.

    More Ukraine updates:

    WHY BAKHMUT?

    […] The city carries with it a very minimal strategic significance. For Russia, it is important only as a next step to further advances to important strategic locations like Sloviansk, 60km to the northwest.

    To Ukraine, securing Bakhmut might open a route to advance to Horlivka, which would then potentially open up a route to the flank; Ukraine could then secure the strategically important rail junction and major city of Donetsk. [map at the link]

    Liberating Donetsk would certainly be a huge strategic victory, but that would still leave Ukraine numerous steps away from a victory at Bakhmut. It would require an additional 60km of intensely fought advances […]

    So one question might be, why would Ukraine throw precious mechanized brigades at Bakhmut, much less one of Ukraine’s most powerful units (the 21st Mechanized)?

    Part of the answer lies in the nature of the CV90s that make up the backbone of the 21st MB. David Axe at Forbes points out that the Bradley and Marder IFVs anti-tank missile systems are ideal for long-ranged combat in flat obstacle-less plains. The flat plains and farmland of southern Ukraine are ideal for that type of combat.

    By contrast, the CV90’s 40mm auto-cannon is ideal for quick-reacting in close-quarters combat with lots of obstacles. The rapid-firing auto-cannon can fire anti-tank sabot rounds that cut through trees like a chainsaw, simply blasting through any obstacles. It would be similarly devastating in urban environments.

    Quite simply, the CV90 is designed to fight in terrain much like Eastern Ukraine.

    A second factor here is likely the difficulties Ukraine faces with minefields, which makes keeping too large a reserve in the south a waste of resources in the short- to mid-term.

    Tatarigami_UA, a Ukrainian field officer who posts regularly on Twitter, recently dropped a thread explaining how modern technology has made minefields considerably more troublesome than in the past. [Thread at the link]

    The thread is certainly worth reading in full, but to paraphrase it: In heavily mined areas, Russian troops enjoy surveillance that would have been only dreamed of as recently as 15-20 years ago. Because Russian surveillance drones give Russian defenders nearly full surveillance over vast areas, they can respond to Ukrainian incursions into remote areas that would have gone undetected for some time in the past.

    Tatarigami_UA says there are no easy solutions.
    – Shelling or explosives can clear areas of mines, but to make effective advances, Ukraine needs to clear broad areas that can amount to square kilometers of territory—and the amount of ammunition needed to clear such broad areas are impractical;
    – De-mining equipment is important, but those specialists need to be protected as they work—they are vulnerable to helicopter attacks, anti-tank guided missiles, and loitering munitions (suicide drones);
    – Explosive line charges, such as the MLCL, are effective, but they only provide a starting point. Because they clear only a small area about 100m deep, when Russian minefields extend for kilometers, it can be a very slow and repetitive process to advance.

    Tatarigami suggests that a combined arms approach—protecting de-mining equipment while making frequent use of line charges and different engineering vehicles—is the only way to succeed. And this takes time to do right, thus patience is of the essence. This may explain why Ukraine is interested in striking Russians wherever they are not behind fortifications—like in Bakhmut.

    Ideally, Ukraine slowly but steadily grinds its way past Russian defenses until it can break through and overwhelm any Russian reserves.

    […] Areas like Bakhmut, where large numbers of Russian troops currently sit upon freshly captured (and therefore not heavily mined or fortified) territory represents an ideal place for Ukraine to draw out Russian reserves, and destroy them. Otherwise, these troops will be being rotated into the fortified lines around Tokmak and Velyka Novosilka—which would be worse.

    A MOVE TOWARDS ATACMS FOR UKRAINE

    […] The U.S. is reportedly (finally) seriously considering giving Ukraine ATACMS missiles. A bipartisan group of senators, including Idaho Republican James Risch, have been pushing the Biden administration to deliver ATACMS for Ukraine and report that a decision is close.

    With up to a 300km range, the ATACMS is roughly analogous in range and capabilities to the Storm Shadow cruise missile that Ukraine has already received. It is a ballistic missile rather than a cruise missile, however, meaning it takes a ballistic trajectory to reach its target,

    While the Storm Shadow relies on stealth, by flying extremely low and hugging the ground at around Mach 0.8 to hit its targets, the ATACMS goes the opposite route. It flies up to 160,000 feet into the air (50km) before hurling down towards its target at Mach 3-4. It uses sheer speed to prevent interception and strikes its targets with tremendous kinetic energy.

    ATACMS come in three varieties. Block 1 and Block 1A (unitary) and Block 1A (submunition). Ukraine is most likely to get the unitary warhead Block 1A version, due to the controversy surrounding submunition varieties. Submunition missiles are also commonly known as cluster munitions. However, the cluster munition versions of the ATACMS may be being seriously considered as well, because the Biden administration is also strongly considering sending DPICM cluster munitions to Ukraine.

    The controversy over cluster munitions is owing in part to its international legal status. For nations that have voluntarily signed up for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, they are illegal to use, and over 100 nations have signed on to the convention. Russia, the United States, and Ukraine are not signatories, thus their use of cluster munitions is not restricted under international law. In fact, Russia has frequently deployed cluster munitions throughout the Russo-Ukrainian War, with unexploded cluster munitions recovered by Ukrainian forces even in urban areas. But the weapons remain highly controversial. I will explore this in greater detail in Sunday’s Update.

    The Block 1 missile is the “standard” ATACMS missile, and is a type of cluster munition. A heavy 560kg warhead carries nearly a thousand 0.59kg bomblets. The bomblets are 6cm in diameter (2.4”) and filled with explosive, incendiary pellets and a steel/tungsten fragmentation casing. The height at which the bomblets are deployed can be adjusted to give the missile a variable effect. A low-altitude deployment creates a concentrated deployment of bomblets, inflicting exceptionally heavy damage in a tight radius, whereas a higher-altitude deployment can cause lighter distribution of destruction to a broader area. [Sounds really bad]

    The Block 1 ATACMS has a range of 160km, a significantly shorter range than cruise missiles like the Storm Shadow missile, but it has several advantages.

    First, cluster munitions are far more effective when trying to destroy broadly distributed unarmored targets. The tungsten fragmentation bomblets are somewhat analogous to the M30A1 tungsten fragmentation GMLRS warhead for the HIMARS system, but the size of the warhead is on a different level.

    The M30A1 warhead is just 91kg, whereas the Block 1 ATACMS warhead is nearly six times bigger at 560kg, and the cluster munition format permits it to blanket an area with fragmentation more efficiently. The ballistic trajectory of the ATACMS also makes it easier to strike straight down with the fragmentation on a broad area—meaning it can fire straight down into even deep trenches.

    It is, arguably, the perfect weapon to clear broad areas of heavily entrenched infantry in trench positions.

    Deployed in a tight radius, the Block 1 ATACMS is also highly effective at destroying buildings and can be used as an anti-vehicle weapon. Although GPS-guided weapons are generally unsuitable for striking moving targets, the broader area of effect and the Mach 3.5 speed-reducing time-to-target of the ATACMS cluster munition makes it so the ATACMS is capable of hitting even moving targets.

    The Block 1A missile is also a submunition (cluster) missile, and is substantially similar to the Block 1 missile in design and effect, except it has a substantially smaller warhead (300 submunitions, about one-third the size of a Block 1) which allowed the range to be extended to 300km.

    Block 1A-Unitary is the final variant of the ATACMS that Ukraine is most likely to receive. It is not a cluster munition and is broadly similar to the capabilities and effects of say, the Storm Shadow cruise missile. Also has a 300km range, the Block 1A-Unitary ATACMS replaces the cluster munition warhead with one of two warheads. The 213kg antipersonnel/light vehicle warhead is identical to that equipped on AGM/RGM-84 harpoons, or the 247kg penetrative warhead also used on SLAM-ER missiles. The antipersonnel fragmentation missile is still designed to have a concentrated effect, aimed to reduce collateral damage—while not permitting the types of broad-area destruction the Block 1 or Block1A cluster munition missiles can offer.

    All ATACMS missiles are fired from either the M270 MLRS launchers or the HIMARS MLRS launcher. They are the U.S. Army’s standard tactical missile. There are plans to replace the ATACMS with the new Precision Strike Missile sometime during 2023, but the PrSM has undergone several delays, As a result, the U.S. Army has been reluctant to part with its stockpile of ATACMS missiles, fearing that providing substantial numbers of ATACMS to Ukraine would negatively impact U.S. military readiness.

    If the Biden administration has changed its stance on ATACMS for Ukraine, it may be a result of an update on the readiness of the PrSM for deployment to the U.S, Army, ameliorating military readiness concerns.

    Even if Ukraine only receives the Block 1A-unitary ATACMS, it would provide a substantial boost to Ukrainian long-range strike capabilities by simply increasing the stock of available missiles.

    However, the largest impact might be felt if the U.S. chooses to also send Block 1/1A ATACMS with cluster munition warheads. ATACMS cluster munitions are essentially perfectly designed to take out infantry positions in deep entrenchments due to the angle to entry, and their broadly distributed fragmentation damage on thin-skinned targets, like infantry or lightly armored vehicles.

    Which is perfect to take on heavily entrenched Russian positions in southern Ukraine.

    Ukraine Aiming to Purchase Naval Strike Missiles from Poland

    Another long-range missile Ukraine hopes to receive is the Norwegian-made Naval Strike Missiles, developed by Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace.

    KDM calls the NSM “the world’s first fifth-generation naval missile,” and it is broadly considered one of the most advanced anti-ship missiles in the world. KDM counts the United States Navy as one of its biggest export customers; the NSM is also used by Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia, and a number of other Western nations.

    While ATACMS relies on speed to evade enemy interception, the NSM is one of the stealthiest missiles in the world. Although it cruises at low altitudes at a relatively slower Mach 0.8, it is made of composite materials that reduce its radar cross-section, and its advanced navigation system allows it to skim the ground at tree-top heights.

    It is designed to be electronically near-undetectable, utilizing passive guidance technology and an infrared imaging recognition targeting system that makes the missile resistant to jamming and electronic countermeasures.

    The NSM also has a terminal maneuvering system, where the missile makes a series of randomized maneuvers to evade enemy defense systems’ interception attempts. The high thrust-to-weight ratio of the NSM makes the missile highly maneuverable, making interception extremely difficult.

    The NSM is capable of engaging littoral (brown/shallow water) targets or open-sea (blue/deep water) targets. The NSM is also designed to strike land targets, making it a highly versatile surface-to-surface missile.

    With a 120kg warhead, it would have a payload roughly half the size of a Storm Shadow cruise missile, but the NSM would provide a naval strike capability that may significantly improve its reach. Ukraine’s domestically designed and produced R-360 Neptune anti-ship missile has a reported range of 280km, but has not been seen since the Moskva’s sinking. It’s believed that Ukraine had a very small stock of such missiles at the opening of the conflict, and key production facilities for manufacturing the missile may have been damaged or lost.

    Ukraine has been reliant predominantly on coastal batteries armed with the U.S.-produced RGM-84 Harpoon missile in its truck-launched variant. These missiles only have a range of around 110km (70 miles). The NSM would vastly improve the reach of Ukrainian anti-ship batteries.

    Ukraine aims to obtain the missiles by purchasing them from staunch Ukrainian ally Poland. Polish sources quote government insiders that indicate that the negotiations are at a very advanced stage. The Polish army possesses two batteries, composed of three launchers each, and command/support elements. Each launcher can equip up to four NSM missiles at a time.

    Poland has made two purchases of systems: First, a purchase of undisclosed value for the first launcher in 2008, then a purchase valued at $173M announced in 2010, with delivery in 2017. KDM described the second deal as being similar in scope to the 2008 purchase.

    The total stock of Polish NSM missiles is unknown, but assuming Poland has purchased two batteries and spent around $300M on NSM systems, we can make an educated guess. Generally, missile launch systems tend to be relatively lower proportions of the total cost of the unit. For example, a HIMARS launcher is just $3.5M, thus the purchase of two batteries of three launchers each is likely in the $20M range. That leaves $280M left to spend on missiles that are valued at $2.1M each. Thus a stock of around 130-140 missiles is a reasonably educated guess.

    Assuming that Poland sells to Ukraine no more than half of its stock, Ukraine may be able to buy as many as 60-70 missiles and a battery of three launchers. That would be my guess.

    The step of obtaining advanced naval missiles may be driven by two factors: reducing the operational impact of the Black Sea Fleet on southern theater operations, and possibly an eye on interdicting the Crimean Peninsula if southern Ukraine can be liberated.

    Link. Scroll down to view updates.

    I never cease to be both amazed and appalled by the machinery of war.

  122. wzrd1 says

    So, Ron is actually still in the closet. That’s precisely what that advertisement told me.

    As for adrenochrome, the recipe to make is it simple enough. Run epinephrine (aka adrenaline) over silver oxide, you have adrenochrome. Oxidize it even more, you get a form of melanin. While, it is used as a precursor for coagulation drugs, no pharmaceutical purpose has been found for adrenochrome at all.
    Well, other than it curing schizophrenia for one doctor’s alleged patients, which was never able to be verified or replicated, despite quite a few studies.
    And human cloning hasn’t been done beyond a microscopic zygote, which was destroyed after the experiment was done. But, nature does it fairly routinely, we call them identical twins.
    Oddly, none have yet to be born adult, probably because no uterus is large enough to allow it, let alone support that much living tissue and support the mother’s body.
    But, what else can you expect from people who believe that some pornographer abroad has a US top secret equivalent nuclear weapons clearance, but knows all sorts of zany things that are decidedly not nuclear.
    As for GITMO, it’s illegal to transport US citizens accused of a crime in the US to a foreign nation for trial. It’s also unconstitutional for US military tribunals to hold US citizens arrested within the US for civilian crimes, let alone hold a trial and any orders to do so would be challenged as an unlawful order, ignored and reported above the idiot issuing that unlawful order.
    That anyone believes that is an outright indictment of our civics education in the US!
    But then, I am retired military and did hold a Q clearance when I worked on Pershing missiles.
    Something far more frightening than reptilian space aliens ruling anything is, the US government trusted me with nuclear weapons.
    I’ll not go into inebriated driving with a half dozen nuclear weapons in the rear of a truck, that obviously could never have happened in Germany.

    I’d consider convincing these dweebs that I’m God, but then I’d have to become an atheist, as I’d be utterly unable to believe in me.

    Just what would one call an atheist god?

  123. Reginald Selkirk says

    No charges for Oklahoma sheriff who talked of killing journalists, prosecutor says

    A sheriff in southeast Oklahoma who was among several county officials caught on tape discussing killing journalists and lynching Black people won’t face criminal charges or be removed from office, the state’s top prosecutor said Friday.

    In a letter to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, Attorney General Gentner Drummond said his office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation had completed their investigation and found no legal grounds to dismiss McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy…

    He added: “Regardless, there is no provision of law in Oklahoma to throw elected officials out of office merely for saying something offensive.”

    Credible threats of violence are not merely “offensive.”

  124. wzrd1 says

    No, they’re terroristic threats.
    But, that state now has its newest zero target for those concerned that he’ll follow through on his threats and they now have an affirmative defense in court.

  125. Reginald Selkirk says

    Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini treated for suspected poisoning

    South Africa’s Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini is being treated in hospital for suspected poisoning, his traditional prime minister has said.

    The king sought medical attention in Eswatini as he is uncomfortable with seeking treatment in South Africa, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi added.

    This follows the sudden death of one of his senior advisers, also of suspected poisoning, Chief Buthelezi said…

  126. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Outside’ report? Law firm that wrote it to defend Ken Paxton was paid $500K by Texas AG

    In May, moments after the Texas House voted to impeach state Attorney General Ken Paxton, his office released an “outside” report produced by a private law firm that asserted his innocence against some of the allegations levied against him.

    What Paxton and his office did not say: The law firm that produced the report, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, has been paid more than $500,000 in public money to defend him against whistleblowers who sued the agency for wrongful termination because they went to the FBI with allegations of corruption.

    The outside firm never interviewed Paxton or key agency leaders who attorneys acknowledged could have provided useful information. Nevertheless, findings from the 56-page report conclude that the firings were likely lawful…

    Ken Paxton up to shenanigans? I can’t believe it.

  127. birgerjohansson says

    Hundreds of migrants could have been saved by greek coast guard from doomed ship! 😡
    (Swedish-language link, so try google for english-language sources)
    BTW the deaths of more than 600 migrants at sea was completely obscured by the search for the submarine.

  128. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    ‘Absolutely epic’: Blackfeet release wild buffalo on tribal land

    Blackfeet Nation transferred 30 wild buffalo […] to tribal lands […] bordering Glacier National Park. […] formed a single-file line and rumbled toward a distant tree line. [video at the link] 120 acres in the foothills of Chief Mountain.

    “They’ve always been fenced in so we have no idea, as scholars and scientists, where they want to go when they roam. […” …] have collars and solar ear tags […] to […] know their location.
    […]
    buffalo have returned to tribal lands nationwide. Most tribes in Montana maintain their own herds, but […] none had released wild buffalo on their land.

  129. says

    New, Conservative Push To Weaken Child Labor Protections Is Gaining Steam

    It comes nearly 8 decades after the US government took kids out of the workforce.

    A movement to weaken American child labor protections at the state level began in 2022. By June 2023, Arkansas, Iowa, New Jersey and New Hampshire had enacted this kind of legislation, and lawmakers in at least another eight states had introduced similar measures.

    The laws generally make it easier for kids from 14 to 17 years old to work longer and later — and in occupations that were previously off-limits for minors.

    When Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed her state’s new, more permissive child labor law on May 26, 2023, the Republican leader said the measure would “allow young adults to develop their skills in the workforce.”

    As scholars of child labor, we find the arguments Reynolds and other like-minded politicians are using today to justify undoing child labor protections echo older justifications made decades ago.

    Many conservatives and business leaders have long argued, based on a combination of ideological and economic grounds, that federal child labor rules aren’t necessary. Some object to the government determining who can’t work. Cultural conservatives say working has moral value for young people and that parents should make decisions for their children. Many conservatives also say that teens, fewer of whom are in the workforce today than in past decades, could help fill empty jobs in tight labor markets.

    Opponents of child labor observe that when kids under 18 work long hours or do strenuous jobs, it can disrupt childhood development, interfere with their schooling and deprive them of the sleep they need. Expanding child labor can encourage kids to drop out of school and jeopardize young people’s health through injuries and work-related illnesses.

    Child labor protections, such as making many kinds of employment for children under 14 illegal and restricting the hours that teens under 18 can spend working, are guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. U.S. law also does not treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. The federal government deems many occupations to be too hazardous for anyone under 18.

    Until that law took effect, the lack of a federal standard always obstructed progress in the states toward keeping kids in school and out of mines, factories and other sometimes hazardous workplaces. […]

    In 1982, President Ronald Reagan sought to ease federal protections to allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work longer hours in fast-food and retail establishments and to pay young workers less than the minimum wage. A coalition of Democrats, labor unions, teachers, parents and child development groups blocked the proposed changes.

    […] A more ambitious attempt to roll back child labor laws in the early 2000s, led by a homeschooling group, ultimately failed, but conservatives continued to call for similar changes.

    […] Today, the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida-based think tank, is drafting state legislation to strip child labor protections, The Washington Post has reported. Its lobbying arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, has been helping push these bills through state legislatures, including in Arkansas and Missouri.

    In our view, Iowa has the most radical new law designed to roll back child labor protections. It allows children as young as 14 to work in meat coolers and industrial laundries, and teens 15 and older can work on assembly lines around dangerous machinery.

    Teens as young as 16 can now serve alcohol in Iowa restaurants, as long as two adults are present.

    […] Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed her state’s Youth Hiring Act of 2023 in March. It eliminated work permits for 14- and 15-year-olds.

    […] We find it puzzling that supporters touted the bill as enhancing parental rights because the law removes any formal role for parents in balancing their kids’ education and employment.

    […] Both federal and state laws govern the employment of minors, and all states have compulsory school attendance laws. Federal laws set a floor of regulations in youth employment that cover maximum hours, minimum ages, wages and protections from hazardous jobs.

    If states pass tougher laws, as many have, the stricter standards govern workplace practices. School attendance requirements vary by state, but once someone turns 18, they’re no longer covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act’s restrictions.

    […] Having child labor laws on the books at both the federal and state levels is only half the battle. Enforcement is another matter. Many violations in recent years have involved children who immigrated to the United States without their parents, only to wind up working long hours, sometimes in dangerous jobs, at young ages.

    […] Rep. Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican, seeks to revise federal regulations to permit 14- and 15-year-olds to work until 9 p.m. on school nights and up to 24 hours per week during the school year. We don’t expect his bill to pass in today’s divided Congress.

    There’s also a push in the House and the Senate to let 16- and 17-year-olds work in logging operations with parental supervision.

    […] several Democrats have introduced measures to strengthen federal child labor restrictions, especially in agriculture.

    With so many states seeking weaker child labor protections, we believe a federal-state showdown over the question of whether young people in the United States belong in the workforce is inevitable.

  130. says

    Followup to comments 159 and 161.

    […] “I’m going to choose my words carefully, partly because I’m appearing as secretary, so I can’t talk about campaigns,” Buttigieg, who is the first openly gay Cabinet member, said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “I’m going to leave aside the strangeness of trying to prove your manhood by putting up a video that splices images of you in between oiled-up, shirtless bodybuilders,” he added. “And just get to the bigger issue that is on my mind whenever I see this stuff in the policy space, which is, again: Who are you trying to help? Who are you trying to make better off? And what public policy problems do you get up in the morning thinking about how to solve?”

    After noting his recent travels to places around the country that are using funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that President Joe Biden signed into law in 2021, Buttigieg said: “I just don’t understand the mentality of somebody who gets up in the morning thinking that he’s going to prove his worth by competing over who can make life hardest for a hard-hit community that is already so vulnerable in America.”

    […] In a Friday tweet, Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten Gleeman Buttigieg, snarked: “This is actually very gay.”

    […] Log Cabin Republicans, a group that represents LGBTQ conservatives, tweeted that the video “ventured into homophobic territory.

    […] Chris Christie, another Republican presidential candidate, also took issue with the video. “[…] it is a teenage food fight between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump.”

    DeSantis signed a series of bills restricting LGBTQ rights this year, including a measure that expands what critics have called the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and another that will ban transition-related care for minors.

    The Florida governor and the state’s Board of Education have also been sued by LGBTQ students and parents, who said the Parental Rights in Education bill would “stigmatize, silence, and erase LGBTQ people in Florida’s public schools.”

    During his presidency, Trump also took heat from LGBTQ rights advocates for some of his policies, including banning transgender people from the military, withdrawing Title IX protections for transgender students and reversing plans to count LGBTQ people on the census.

    Link

    In an attempt to out-macho-man Trump, DeSantis put out a campaign ad that made him look gay. As wzrd1 noted in comment 161: “So, Ron is actually still in the closet. That’s precisely what that advertisement told me.”

  131. says

    Followup to Reginald @73, me @146,

    A right wing extremist, Lorie Smith, was thinking about creating websites. Lorie Smith also wanted her 15 minutes of fame, so she created a company called 303 Creative and then filed a lawsuit claiming that a gay couple known as Stewart and Mike had demanded she create a web site for them. This lawsuit ended up at the Supreme Court, and it overturned years of legal precedent which made discrimination illegal. There was just one problem with Lorie Smith’s lawsuit — The so-called email demanding that she create a web site for the gay couple was sent ONE DAY AFTER HER LAWSUIT WAS FILED. In addition, Lorie Smith and her company had never created ANY web site for ANY individual or company. So why was the company formed in the first place? We all know why. Eventually, Stewart was reached, and he not only said he never sent that email, but that he was a heterosexual who has been happily married to a woman for the last 15 years. By submitting false information to the courts, Lorie Smith committed perjury. And, as a result, Lorie Smith had no standing at all to file this lawsuit.

    And, because the justices at the Supreme Court knew of the perjury before they began deliberations, they suborned the perjury. In addition, several justices committed perjury during their Senate confirmations by stating that they would abide by precedent, known as Stare Decisis, and then did the opposite. This week, The Supreme Court of the United States officially became a corrupt criminal enterprise, and there is only one way to stop this criminality from continuing. The Supreme Court must be expanded to 13 justices, and the Supreme Court’s illegal actions must be overturned. Are you more pissed off right now than you have been in years, or even decades? Good for you. Now vote like your life depends on it, because it does. Democracy or Fascism? The decision is yours to make. Make it in 2024.

    Link

  132. says

    At Least 30 Shot, 2 Dead in Baltimore Mass Shooting.

    Just past midnight a mass shooting tragedy struck a neighborhood in Baltimore. This one appears to have target a local holiday weekend block party in the Brooklyn Homes neighborhood. Details are still sparse at this point.

    Police in the U.S. city of Baltimore confirmed on Sunday that two people had died in a “mass shooting incident” overnight at an apartment block in the city and three others were in a critical condition.

    The city’s police department said 30 people had been shot in the incident at 800 block of Gretna Avenue in Baltimore. An 18-year-old female was pronounced dead at the scene and a 20-year-old male was pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital, the police said.

    Three others were in a critical condition after nine people were transported from the scene to local hospitals, while 20 others affected walked into hospitals in the area, police said.

    […] there is nobody in custody. Of note, Mayor Brandon Scott is calling the perpetrators “cowards” suggesting that at this time it is believed there were mutiple shooters.

    […] Total shootings [so far in 2023]: 396 – Shootings per day: 2.16 – Killed: 520 – Wounded: 1560
    […]

  133. says

    Fox “News” spreads poisonous propaganda throughout the United States. Alas, many people are addicted to it; they even crave it. There’s evidence that when people are cut off, they do improve, becoming less angry and less ignorant.

    Now, I’m not going to tell you how to get your neighbors or your RW uncle to stop watching the channel. Because I don’t know how. […] It’s true that when they reduce their consumption of hate and lies, some of them do recover. Others just go off in search of more of their lies of choice.

    This diary is about unplugging Fox and reducing its power. In the past few months, we’ve had some amazing developments. The $787 million settlement with Dominion. The firing of Tucker Carlson and several others. The settlement with Amy Grossberg. There’s more to come.

    And, to give credit where credit is due, Fox did allow Bret Baier to do some real journalism in his interview with the twice-impeached, twice-indicted former president. However, this interview also shows that Fox is still linked to tRump. […]

    Link

    Posted by readers:

    There are 60 million cable subscriptions this year. Ten years ago it was 100 million.
    Many of those subscriptions are hotels, sports bars, hospitals and other locations where cable is a part of the business. Most households have cut the chord already.

    There is absolutely no excuse for our military to be paying cable subscriptions, however. Biden needs to use an Executive order to get cable out of our military installations. Since the right wing has become an anti-American cult the military should block right wing internet websites from its servers as well.
    ———————-
    Based on previous contract renewals, Spectrum/Charter, Xfinity/Comcast, and Cox could all be in negotiations RIGHT NOW.

    Tell them you want them to stand up to Fox’s strong-arming and say #NoFoxFee!
    ———————
    You should contact the FCC if you have complaints or questions about the following issues:

    Cable Consumer Complaints. File complaints at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us
    Suggested text:

    Dear FCC:

    I strongly object to being forced to subsidize FOX News via my cable subscription. They are pumping propaganda for the Republican party. Judge Eric Davis has even found that they are lying. I want my bill to be reduced by these fees.

    Also, if you could get them off the airwaves altogether, that would be great.

  134. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog, which is now closed. From their afternoon summary:

    Russia launched an overnight drone attack on Kyiv after a 12-day break, a Ukrainian military official said, with air defence systems destroying all targets on their approach. Ukraine’s air force said the attack included eight Iranian-made Shahed drones and three cruise missiles. One person was injured and three private houses were damaged.

    Four civilians, including two in a direct hit on a high-rise building, have been injured by Russian shelling in the southern city of Kherson, the prosecutor general’s office said. The attack on the residential area occurred at about 11.20am local time, with Russian forces firing from the occupied east bank of the Dnipro River to attack the city.

    Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was in Odesa, where he paid tribute to those serving in the navy on Ukrainian Navy Day in a video posted on Twitter.

    Ukrainian forces have continued to gradually advance on the flanks of Bakhmut in Donetsk oblast, the Eastern Command spokesperson Serhii Cherevatyi told national television. Ukrainian forces were “pressuring” Russian troops and liberating the territories, he said, though he did not mention how far the military had advanced, saying he would disclose it after the analysis on the ground.

    Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s media holding company is to shut down, the director of one of its outlets said. Patriot Media, whose most prominent outlet was the RIA FAN news site, had taken a strongly nationalist, pro-Kremlin editorial line while also providing positive coverage of Prigozhin and the Wagner group. “I am announcing our decision to close down and to leave the country’s information space,” the RIA FAN director, Yevgeny Zubarev, said in a video clip posted late on Saturday on the holding company’s social media accounts. Zubarev gave no reason for the decision.

    Poland will send 500 police officers to its border with Belarus, the Polish minister of the interior, Mariusz Kaminski, said. Last week, Warsaw announced a tightening of security because of concerns over the presence of the Wagner group in Belarus.

    Forty diplomats and Russian embassy staff in Bucharest were to leave Romania on Saturday after a request from the government, with ties reportedly worsening between the two countries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Eleven diplomats and 29 technical and administrative staff, accompanied by their families, “will leave Romania onboard a civilian aircraft belonging to a Russian airline”, the Romanian foreign ministry said.

    The ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic party of Russia is working on a bill that would temporarily ban the travel of close relatives of high-ranking officials to “unfriendly countries”, the RIA state news agency reported. Russia considers all countries that have imposed sanctions on it over the invasion of Ukraine to be “unfriendly”.

    Russia has cancelled its 2023 Maks international airshow, probably over security concerns after recent uncrewed aerial vehicle attacks inside the country, according to the latest intelligence report from the UK Ministry of Defence.

    Also from there:

    Two British peers were among 50 people who attended a party organised by the Russian ambassador to the UK at his opulent residence in west London last month, to mark the creation of a Russia independent of the Soviet Union [LOLWTF].

    Andrei Kelin, the Russian ambassador, spoke at the event where he sought to justify his country’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, while those attending included the Conservative Lord Balfe and cross-bencher Lord Skidelsky.

    An account of the event published by the Sunday Times includes pictures of Kelin, who is banned from the UK parliament, addressing an audience of about 50, including Russian embassy staff, foreign diplomats and a number of Britons.

    Kelin reportedly said “in order to develop normally, Russia must first deal with significant threats to its security” – a clear reference to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine last February aimed at overthrowing the elected government of Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

    The ambassador also accused Britain of making a “big strategic miscalculation” by engaging in a confrontational approach to Moscow. The UK, alongside other western countries, has strongly supported Ukraine, providing arms and aid since the start of the war to help Kyiv restore its internationally recognised borders.

  135. says

    Kyiv Independent – “Official: Ukrainian army advances in 2 southern directions”:

    Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on July 2 that Ukrainian forces had advanced in the direction of Berdyansk and Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

    According to her, Ukrainian forces are facing “intense enemy resistance, remote mining and redeployment of (Russian) military reserves.”

    At the same time, Maliar reported that Russians had advanced in several directions in Donetsk Oblast – Lyman, Avdiivka, and Marinka.

    In the Svatove direction, Luhansk Oblast, Russian forces have also conducted an offensive.

    Maliar called the situation there “quite difficult. She added that Russian troops had attacked two settlements near Svatove – Belohorivka and Serebryanka.

  136. birgerjohansson says

    High-octane fuel in WWII.
    During the battle of Britain, RAF had access to 100 octane fuel, instead of the 87 octane fuel used during the battle of France.
    The output of Rolls-Royce Merlin increased from 1000 hp to 1280 hp.
    The propellers were also improved.
    Aviation fuel are adressed at the 20 minute mark.

    “German C3 fuel, Uber octane or synthetic crap?”
    https://youtu.be/NJP7iouMwsE

  137. Reginald Selkirk says

    Judge awards Black church $1 million after BLM banner burned by Proud Boys during protest

    A judge on Friday awarded more than $1 million to a Black church in downtown Washington, D.C. that sued the far-right Proud Boys for tearing down and burning a Black Lives Matter banner during a 2020 protest.

    Superior Court Associated Judge Neal A. Kravitz also barred the extremist group and its leaders from coming near the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church or making threats or defamatory remarks against the church or its pastor for five years.

    The ruling was a default judgment issued after the defendants failed to show up in court to fight the case…

  138. says

    Ukraine Update: Cluster munitions for Ukraine—the controversy and why they’re needed. [The Update also provides details on many other aspects of the war.]

    Ukraine continues to press attacks, particularly on the Tokmak, Velyka Novosilka, and Bakhmut fronts. Ukraine controls a foothold on the east side of the Dnipro River near the remains of the Antonivka Road Bridge, despite Russian artillery and missile attacks. Russia continues to make ineffective attacks on the Lyman and Donetsk (Avdiivka/Marinka) fronts, but has made no measurable progress. [Map at the link]

    Russian Private Military Companies and Wagner Update

    In Saturday’s Ukraine Update, I noted that Russia had brought forward several PMCs (Private Military Companies) as reinforcements to the Bakhmut area. The PMCs deployed included PMC Patriot, Veterans, Potok, and Fakel.

    Professor Mark Galeotti, former NYU Professor of Political Science and presently a senior associate research fellow at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), is a world renowned expert in transnational criminal organizations and Russian security affairs.

    Prof. Galeotti provided a summary of the current state of PMCs in Russia. [tweet at the link]

    To paraphrase, Prof. Gaelotti notes there are broadly two types of organizations that term themselves “PMCs” in Russia. What he calls simply “PMCs,” are “reputable international businesses involved in mine-clearing, maritime security, training, and VIP protection. Not front-line fighting.”

    By contrast, Russia also has self-styled PMCs that are actually groups of mercenaries, or mercs. PMC Wagner would have been among the most famous and largest of such organizations.

    Prof. Gaelotti notes that the merc organizations that remain can be grouped into several buckets.
    – Ministry of Defense PMCs that are not truly independent, like Patriot, Shchit, and Redut. These are only a few hundred soldiers, usually better paid and experienced than the average Russian soldier.
    – FGUP Okharana, which is the corporate arm of Russia’s National Guard—again a state military institution’s offshoot masquerading as a private corporation, but firmly under Ministry of Defense control.
    – Newly formed organizations like Potok, Plamya, Fakel, or Uran. Major corporations like Gazprom or Roscosmos were essentially forced by the Ministry of Defense to bankroll additional units. Prof. Gaelotti considers them indistinguishable from ordinary Russian Army units and are not real mercenary companies, at least not yet. They number in the hundreds, not the thousands.
    – Small ideologically based mercenary companies like ultra-nationalist ENOT Corps that are not numerous and are now under close watch.
    – Territorial PMCs like the Chechen Kadyrovites, are smaller localized units whose ideas may not align with the Ministry of Defense or take orders.

    In short, none of these units seem likely to step in to take on the role Wagner did in recruiting and fielding division or larger-sized soldiers. Most of these units are essentially extensions of the Ministry of Defense, formed for political expedience. [Still weird when you consider organization and logistical military operations.]

    There is no “second Wagner” waiting to step in to take on the void left by the group’s de facto decapitation.

    Meanwhile, BBC reported that satellite photos from Belarus indicated that they are constructing a camp for Wagner large enough to house between 6,000-8,000 troops.

    Wagner essentially had two categories of soldiers: barely trained convict units of “disposable” infantry, who were used in small squads to run high-risk, near-suicidal reconnaissance missions to identify weak spots in Ukrainian defenses. […]

    However, Wagner started as an organization that hired ex-Spetnaz and VDV (Russian paratroopers), to form a small but elite mercenary troop, with perhaps 6,000-8,000 members by 2022. Equipped with heavy weaponry and carefully maintained, these elite troops were used to exploit the weakness identified by the convict suicide runs.

    Perhaps not coincidentally, the numbers of Wagnerites that appear to have gone to Belarus matches approximately the number of highly experienced “elite” Wagner troops that Prigozhin reportedly had remaining. With no further cash forthcoming from Russia’s Ministry of Defense, the Wagnerites may be shedding their convict troops to return to their core veterans that terrorized African battlefields in the days before Wagner became largely committed to the Ukrainian battlefield.

    The Ministry of Defense of Russia has already announced that Wagner’s heavy weapons and equipment will be transferred to the Russian Army, and it does not appear that there has been any major movement of heavy arms and equipment to Belarus to indicate the contrary.

    While speculation has abounded about the possibility that Wagner is being placed in Belarus to launch a new front to advance on Kyiv from the north, I assess this possibility to be quite remote. Belarussian President Lukashenko has called on Wagner to help train the Belarussian military.

    […] unclear if the remaining troops even have much combat value when separated from the Wagner elite.

    As to Prigozhin himself, he has not been photographed since departing Rostov-on-Don. Belarus claims he is now in the country, but Prigozhin’s whereabouts are unknown. Russian television producers consider Prigozhin persona-non-grata and consider his name too risky to even mention.
    ———————-
    Ukraine Advances North of Robotyne

    Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops are extending their control over the area north of the first of four Russian main defense lines north of Tokmak. [map at the link]

    Prominent pro-Russian blogger War Gonzo reports a general Ukrainian advance 1.5km deep that ran across a wide 6.5km front north of Robotyne. It’s not clear exactly to where he refers, but Ukraine has been gradually expanding their mine-cleared routes leading up near the Russian defense line around Robotyne. Ukraine appears to be being cautious and giving itself multiple vectors of approach when it moves to strike the Russian main defense line. [map at the link]
    ——————————-
    CNN and numerous other outlets report that the Biden administration is giving serious consideration to sending cluster munitions to Ukraine. Administration officials suggest a decision could be forthcoming in time to include the controversial munitions in the July, 2023 aid package. [photo of cluster munition]

    Cluster munitions, or submunition weapons, are a class of artillery shells and rocket/missile warheads that contain large numbers of smaller bombs, called bomblets.

    The shell or missile is designed to deploy the bomblets above the target, raining the surrounding area with hundreds of small bombs that are intended to explode on impact.

    The idea is instead of one concentrated explosion, the area is blanketed with numerous small explosives.

    When destroying a warehouse or a fortified bunker, it is often preferable to have one large “unitary” warhead explode to cause the most concentrated damage in one area.

    But particularly when aiming to destroy entrenched enemy infantry, cluster munitions are unparalleled in their effectiveness.

    For example, one primary weapon that is being considered for deployment is the M483 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM).

    It can be a 155mm artillery shell or on a GMLRS rocket deployed from a HIMARS system. Instead of a single explosive charge, the DPICM deploys 88 smaller bomblets. In field tests, it has been found to have the same effect as 5-15 conventional munitions when striking soft (i.e. unarmored) targets that are distributed broadly. It has been pointed out the DPICM is essentially designed to take on infantry in fixed fortified positions.

    For example, given enough tries to strike a position, Ukrainian gunners can obtain the right range and angle of fire to hit Russian trenches head-on for devastating results. [Tweet and video at the link]

    But a DPICM shell would remove much of this trial and error, as the first round fire would spray the area with bomblets, and as long as the weapon was fired in the vicinity of the trench, some of the bomblets will land inside, killing or injuring any defenders.

    This is what allows a single DPICM shell to take the place of as many as a dozen conventional artillery shells or more when attacking entrenched and widely distributed infantry. [video at the link]

    The DPICM GMLRS variant is arguably even more terrifying. Like other GMRLS missiles, the DPICM warhead GMRLS has a range of about 70km and a high level of precision accuracy. But instead of a unitary warhead, it has a DPICM warhead, containing 404 submunitions.

    Fired from a HIMARS system, the rocket can have its trajectory angled to plunge into even deep entrenchments. it can deploy the bomblets at different altitudes to vary the concentration and spread of the destructive effects.

    The US has large stockpiles of DPICM ammunition, and permitting Ukraine to access these stocks would significantly increase the available firepower for the ammunition-hungry Ukrainian offensive, particularly given their economies in eliminating targets compared to unitary munitions.

    There are two potential issues with the use of cluster munitions. First, the weapons are considered highly controversial and dangerous to civilians. Second, to export these weapons to Ukraine the Biden Administration would likely need Congress to pass legislation permitting their export.

    Before we get into the legal issues, people must understand why cluster munitions are considered problematic. It is frequently misunderstood that certain weapons of war that have been made illegal by international treaties, such as chemical weapons, were banned out of concern for troops. This is untrue.

    The background to the 1928 Geneva Protocol on chemical weapons and subsequent related treaties, the primary focus in the restriction of the weapons was based on the collateral effects of the weapons on civilians. During World War One when chemical warfare was used on an industrial scale, poison gasses affecting civilian populations was not uncommon.

    Similarly, when an international discussion of a ban on cluster weapons began, proponents focused on the effects of cluster weapons on civilians, primarily from unexploded munitions. Not out of some idea of the weapons being cruel to the soldiers upon which they were used.

    […] Five decades later, unexploded cluster bomb ordinances continue to claim Laotian lives and limbs—children are particularly affected as the bomb casing is so ubiquitous, they have lost any sense of danger when seeing signs of the bomblets.

    It is difficult to overstate how terrible the aftereffects of these weapons have been for civilians in Vietnam and Laos. In Laos alone, an estimated 20,000 people have been killed or injured by cluster bombs since the end of the Vietnam War. 40% of the victims have been children.

    In 2016, President Obama launched a 3-year $90M initiative to clean up cluster bomb munitions in Laos, but victims continue to be claimed. This underscores how difficult cluster munitions are to remove once they are scattered in a wide area.

    Aside from humanitarian concerns, an additional hurdle to sending them to Ukraine is that President Biden will likely need legislative action to make it happen. President Obama signed into law a near-total ban on U.S. exports of cluster munitions on March 11, 2009, as part of the omnibus budget bill.

    The law requires that only cluster munitions with a demonstrated dud rate of 1% or less can be exported. DCISM, for example, is considered to have a very low dud rate, but it’s estimated in the 3-4% range. Cold War era US cluster munitions had a dud rate of around 30%, and Russian cluster munitions currently in use are believed to have a dud rate of between 20%~40%.

    Unless there is some kind of loophole of which I am unaware, President Biden cannot legally export almost any American cluster munitions.

    The Case for Cluster Munitions

    Having described how terrible cluster munitions are, I would like to make clear that I am a reluctant but firm supporter of the idea of sending them to Ukraine as soon as possible for the following reasons.
    – The use of cluster munitions by Ukraine is legal under international law, as they are for the United States and Russia as non-signatories to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
    – Cluster munitions are uniquely well suited for the types of threats Ukraine is facing in abundance. it also addresses Ukraine’s munition shortage, which represents one of the biggest threats of failure for their counteroffensive.
    Cluster munitions are already in ubiquitous use by Russian forces in Ukraine. Defeating Russia faster will reduce attacks on Ukraine generally, and cluster munition duds’ distribution in Ukraine. Unilateral restraint by Ukraine is unhelpful.
    The humanitarian costs of deploying cluster munitions are borne exclusively by the people of Ukraine, thus they (through their government) should be the ones who decide for themselves how to balance military value with post-war ill effects.

    There is nothing illegal about Ukraine or Russia using cluster munitions provided they follow other rules of war in their deployment. […] With the extremely narrow exception of international laws that are considered to have universal jurisdiction, international laws are based on treaties and agreements. They are not applied to any nation that has not signed onto these agreements.

    The main reason to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine is that the weapons are […] perfect for taking on entrenched conventional military forces. That is compact defensive formations of heavily entrenched infantry that require enormous amounts of conventional munitions to dislodge.

    The only weapons that are capable of replacing cluster munitions are available in sharply limited quantities. For example, the M30A1 GMLRS rocket, which deploys over 100,000 tungsten balls over a wide area was intended to replicate the effects of a cluster munition, but without the harmful effects of leaving duds that impact civilians post-war. But these weapons are not available in bulk, nor can production be ramped up to meet Ukrainian needs in any reasonable timeframe.

    These weapons are likely to be crucial to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield in the near term. The single greatest shortage that Ukraine is likely to face in an extended counteroffensive is not military forces. […] Instead, it is a lack of ammunition that might force Ukraine to slow the pace of its attacks or to hold it all together.

    During any offensive, the rate of consumption of munitions, particularly artillery shells, and missiles, goes up dramatically It is clear that Ukraine has been judicious particularly in its use of guided munitions in the past seven months, and has hoarded a considerable supply, as they have devastated Russia’s artillery arm over the past month with precision counter-battery fire.

    Sustaining forward momentum and pressuring Russian positions as Russia runs out of reserves and artillery is critical, as Ukraine tries to push Russia to a breaking point. I used the analogy of the Battle of Normandy (1944) to explain how historical battles indicate how a well-entrenched adversary can be pushed into a compromised position, and once that happens, the real and rapid progression of an offensive can proceed like a dam-bursting.

    But this is dependent on available ammunition.

    […] Cluster munitions have a demonstrated ability in the right circumstances to reduce ammunition consumption by an order of five to 15 times. Ukraine is facing precisely those conditions.

    The United States military has a major stockpile of cluster munitions it has been reluctant to make use of for many years. The last time the United States used cluster munitions in any quantity was in 2003, during the battles against Iraq’s conventional armies. Since that time, only a single use of an anti-tank cluster munition in Yemen in 2008 has been noted.

    The US has a cluster munition stockpile of 5.5 million shells and missiles, composed predominantly of 155mm DPICM artillery shells. This represents arguably one of the largest untapped sources of badly needed munitions,

    […] Russian forces have not only made frequent use of them in field combat, but it has also deployed them in indiscriminate bombardments of Ukrainian cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Odesa, Mykolaiv, and numerous other smaller towns and villages. Russian forces particularly target areas of civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and electrical infrastructure. Over 50 Ukrainian hospitals have been damaged by Russian cluster munitions.

    The longer the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to be fought on Ukrainian soil, the more Russian cluster bomb munitions will be deployed against Ukrainian civilians—and leave more Russian duds behind. [True.]

    […] Russian forces have slaughtered Ukrainian civilians, such as the ethnic cleansing operation run by Russian forces in Bucha. Russian torture facilities have been discovered in Izium and Kherson, with survivors telling harrowing tales of abductions and electrocutions. Russia has engaged in cultural genocide, abducting thousands of children and engaging in illegal forced relocation programs to drive Ukrainian populations inside Russian-occupied territories. Russia’s extended bombardment campaign of Ukrainian civilians needs no introduction.

    These humanitarian costs are also being borne by Ukrainian citizens, and the longer the Russo-Ukrainian War lasts, the higher those costs will become.

    Thus, the decision of whether to use a weapon that carries a humanitarian cost is a complex one, that asks for the balancing of present humanitarian costs, with the potential future harm that the weapon may cause.

    I do not believe that question has any clear answer, and I think the decision should be made by the representatives of the Ukrainian people.

    In this, the Ukrainian government has been unambiguous—give us cluster munitions. I think the United States should do so.

  139. says

    Followup to comment 180.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    The Ukrainians must evict a well dug-in occupier from their own land. They aren’t going to be directly putting civilians in harm’s way. And they will know precisely where [cluster munitions have] been used so that the area can be properly sanitised before those civilians return. I’ve never seen a better argument for their use.
    ———————
    Ukraine simply doesn’t have the Air Force capabilities for combined warfare, thus they need other capabilities to do what a NATO Air Force would do prior to attempting to breach these defensive positions.
    ———————–
    How long before phosgene gas becomes OK?
    ———————
    Given that Ukraine and the US are signatories to the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons, this is a false equivalence.
    ————————-
    Ukraine’s offense appears off to a slow start, but once the initial stocks of supplies and personnel begins to dwindle, Russia’s poor logistics will result in widespread “good will gestures” along the entire front line. All we have to do is continue to destroy store houses and trucks, Russia’s defenders will have to retreat.

  140. says

    Despite clear benefits of free school meals, the Republican war on healthy, happy kids continues

    In 2020, Congress funded meals for all children enrolled in public school regardless of income as part of pandemic support. It was a rare, welcome moment of bipartisanship in an incredibly hostile political climate that helped to decrease food insecurity in households with children. By all accounts, the program was a success.

    However, like other anti-poverty pandemic programs, it expired. Republicans in Congress not only refused to extend universal school meals, they committed to rolling back food access for low-income kids.

    No one should be hungry, especially children. Providing nutrition for all is a practical solution that leads to lower food insecurity, healthier diets, improved academic performance, and more revenue for schools.

    Prior to 2020, many schools enacted “lunch-shaming” practices that separated children by income: Schools used colored tickets to determine who ate free lunch, or even gave low-income students an entirely different meal than students who paid out of pocket. In what can only be described as a nightmare scenario, some schools went as far as to deny kids meals when their balance was negative or overdue.

    Not only do these stomach-churning practices stigmatize children living in or near poverty and reinforce income inequality, they are bureaucratic messes. Means-testing requires collecting and tracking applications on an individual basis—another unnecessary nuisance for resource-strapped schools and families. Moreover, the more bureaucracy, the less likely the most vulnerable children—those in foster care or unstable households, English language learners, rural, disabled, undocumented or mixed status families, and others—will be able to access school nutrition.

    Like all poverty-related issues, lunch-shaming practices are a policy choice: Schools don’t have the budget to cover all basic classroom supplies, much less meals, without state and federal support. Decades of right-wing attacks have lead to budget cuts, and teacher and staff shortages. Public education needs more dedicated funding and better support. Universal meals ensure all young learners have access to food at school, reduces systemic barriers for those who will benefit the most, and helps to unburden our schools.

    Democratic-lead state governments in Vermont, Colorado, Maine, California, New Mexico, and Minnesota have enacted universal or near-universal food access for public school children to fill the void left by conservative intransigence. Many other states have introduced legislation to do the same. However, the country’s poorest states are controlled by Republicans. Our ability to ensure nutrition for kids who will benefit the most requires federal intervention.

    Not all hope is lost. The Keep Kids Fed Act, which allowed some states to extend their free meal programs and provided additional money for reimbursements, easily passed with bipartisan support in 2022. Polls show widespread support for universal school meals, with 74% of voters and 90% of parents favoring the idea. And with reauthorization of the Farm Bill coming up, now is the time to demand full funding for food access programs with demonstrated success.

    “Free” is not a dirty word. It is a sign of a healthy economy and a prosperous nation. […] An ideology that privileges tax breaks for the wealthy […] over caring for our communities doesn’t serve the nation’s best interests.

  141. says

    With all the bad decisions coming out of the Supreme Court last week, there is one decision that flew under the radar, and it is about to impact Jim Jordan in a major way. On Monday, June 26 , 2023, SCOTUS ruled that the lawsuit brought against Ohio State University by hundreds of athletes who claim sexual abuse by trainer Richard Strauss can go forward. Part of the lawsuit directly implicates Jordan, as it states that he not only turned a blind eye to this abuse, but also states that Jordan obstructed justice by tampering with witnesses. Jim Jordan’s days in Congress are numbered. [Maybe. It’s never a sure thing that Republicans will be held accountable for their crimes.] It is just a matter of time, as the trial against Ohio State moves forward.

    A very good analysis of this major scandal by David Feldman has been posted to Youtube. [video at the link]

    Link

    Jim Jordan currently serves as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

  142. says

    After voting against infrastructure, Lauren Boebert dimly wonders why we don’t spend more on it

    […] Rep. Lauren Boebert’s understanding of her job is tenuous at best. She appears to think it’s a steppingstone to a prime-time slot on Fox News, whereas we all know she’d be lucky to score a bimonthly pet-grooming column on Stormfront.org.

    But while Boebert is benighted all the time, there are moments when she really excels. And last week she was in rare form.

    Seriously, check out this effervescent fuckery [tweet at the link]

    For the nontweeters:

    An AMTRAK passenger train just derailed in California. Two weeks ago a highway collapsed in Philadelphia.

    Stuff like this is going on constantly in America.

    We’re sending our money all over the world but our own country is falling down around us.

    Okay, so who wants to tell Lauren what’s wrong with this tweet? Oh, I see everyone’s hand is up. Of course, we can’t hear from all of you, but here’s a nice, tidy heap of snark: [tweets at the link]:

    “If only Republicans had been in a position to pass an infrastructure bill and invest in America. If only. […]
    ——————-
    That’s why we passed the infrastructure bill to take care of the crumbling infrastructure in the United States. You know, the one you voted against. […]

    Okay, you get the gist. Boebert vehemently criticized, and ultimately voted against, the very same kinds of infrastructure investments that are currently solving the problems she cites. (By the way, the Amtrak train she referenced derailed because someone left a water truck on the tracks. […])

    These are the very kinds of investments her ocher overlord failed to secure during his four years in office, even though he’s universally acknowledged as the bestest negotiator in the wide world and everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Mitch McConnell desperately wanted to pass a long-overdue spending package.

    […] Of course, this isn’t the first time Boebert’s hypocrisy has been on lurid display. Last year, she requested $33.1 million in infrastructure funds from the very same administration she excoriated over its spending plans.

    The Durango Herald:

    Boebert wants $33.1 million for the South Bridge in Glenwood Springs, according to a newsletter from her office. She also sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg advocating construction of the Glenwood Springs bridge. …

    The city is requesting $33.1 million in Rural Surface Transportation grant money to complete the project, which would create a second point of access between Colorado State Highway 82 and the western side of the Roaring Fork River in the south Glenwood Springs area.

    Boebert voted against President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, calling the legislation “wasteful” and “garbage” on Twitter.

    Pretty brazen, huh? Sadly, she’s not alone. If there’s one thing Republicans like more than harassing LGBTQ+ people in exchange for votes, it’s taking credit for infrastructure projects they voted against. […]

  143. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino’s Non-Compete Clause

    unable to work on one of her main goals—bringing major advertisers back […]

    the former chair of global advertising at NBCUniversal, has been constrained […] by a noncompete clause that extended through her first few weeks […] The clause’s expiration date is not clear

     
    Yaccarino hosted an office ‘Tea Time’ with workers in effort to boost low morale

    while they work 80+ hours a week […] Morale at Twitter has been decimated under Musk, who in seven months of ownership has laid off or fired 90% of Twitter’s workforce and continues to fire people monthly, seemingly at random
    […]
    Tea Time may not have everyone rushing back to the office, but […] it was casual, with an “upbeat” tone

  144. says

    The Trump indictment detail nobody’s talking about

    The conversation detailed on page 16 of the federal indictment against Donald Trump is so compelling that there’s little wonder it has garnered a huge amount of attention from the press and public. In that conversation, not only does Trump reveal that he is willing to show classified defense intelligence information to people with no security clearance, he openly admits that what he is doing is wrong and that he has no ability to declassify the information. That the whole thing is available on audio, complete with the sound of Trump rustling through top secret documents, only makes it more amazing.

    It’s a one-stop shop for blowing holes in every claim Trump has ever made about the documents, a dream conversation for special counsel Jack Smith, and the kind of evidence that surely has other prosecutors swooning in jealousy.

    However, that conversation isn’t alone. There’s a second such conversation documented in the indictment. It also took place at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. It also involved classified defense documents. What’s provided about that conversation is much less detailed, but it may be worse in terms of its threat to national security than the conversation captured on tape. Because in this second instance, Trump was talking about an active, ongoing military operation, and he was spilling this information to a Republican elections operative with hundreds of connections and a reputation for leaking.

    That conversation is described in a single paragraph in section 35 of the indictment.

    In August or September 2021, when he was no longer president, TRUMP met in his office at The Bedminster Club with a representative of his political action committee (the “PAC Representative”). During the meeting, TRUMP commented that an ongoing military operation in Country B was not going well. TRUMP showed the PAC Representative a classified map of Country B and told the PAC Representative that he should not be showing the map to the PAC Representative and to not get too close. The PAC Representative did not have a security clearance or any need-to-know classified information about the military operation.

    Like the first conversation, Trump once again makes clear that the information he is showing is classified and that he shouldn’t be showing it to anyone. He even recognizes that the PAC representative doesn’t have a security clearance or any justification for seeing the sensitive military information. Even if the first conversation didn’t exist, this alone would be enough to check every box on a federal indictment.

    However, there’s reason to believe this conversion is even worse than the one that’s gotten so much attention, because in this case the information Trump is showing off describes an “ongoing military operation.”

    From the information provided, it’s not possible to determine exactly what operation that might be, but there is one obvious candidate: the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

    In February 2020, Trump signed an agreement with the Taliban to pull the United States out of Afghanistan. This agreement was made without the participation of the Afghan government. Trump’s deal would originally have had all troops out by the spring of 2021, but President Joe Biden delayed the timeline in April of that year, stretching the date for the last U.S. forces to leave until the end of August.

    If Trump was showing off documents concerning an active, ongoing military operation in August of 2021, including getting out maps, it was likely Afghanistan related.

    However, there are other candidates. It’s clear this wasn’t anything related to Iran, because Iran had already been designated “Country A” earlier in the indictment. Other good candidates for Country B might be Syria, where there had been an exchange of missiles earlier in the year, or even Ukraine, where an estimated 80,000 Russian forces had already gathered near the Russia-Ukraine border in advance of the February 2022 invasion.

    Whatever the location, Trump was evidently showing off documents and maps that likely detailed the capabilities and positions of troops in the field during a still-unfolding military operation. It’s hard to think of anything that represents more closely guarded, or more vital, information.

    ABC News has identified the person on the receiving end of this information as Susie Wiles, a longtime Florida political operative and a top adviser in Trump’s reelection effort. Wiles is described as “one of Trump’s most trusted advisers.” Predictably, the Trump campaign is claiming that by investigating this conversation between Wiles and Trump, Smith’s office is “openly engaging in outright election interference and meddling by attacking one of the leaders of President Trump’s re-election campaign.”

    But it wasn’t Smith who brought Wiles into a Bedminster conference room and unfolded a classified map to show her. That was all Trump. […]

    Whatever the reason, Trump was showing detailed information on an ongoing military operation to a woman who The Hill has described as “the most powerful Republican you don’t know.” Wiles is said to have a vast network of “Susie’s people,” and has been an operative in a number of campaigns. That includes being fired from the campaign of Ron DeSantis in 2019 following what were reported to be “some embarrassing leaks,” which DeSantis blamed on Wiles. […]

    What’s clear from this other Bedminster case is that:
    – There were classified documents, including maps, reflecting a military operation then in apparent difficulty.
    – Trump verified that these documents were classified, and that Wiles had no reason to see them.
    – Trump made it clear he was aware that Wiles didn’t have any form of clearance and shouldn’t see the documents.
    – Then he showed Wiles the documents anyway. Even though, in addition to all of the above, she had a reputation for leaks.

    The only way that this incident could have been worse is if Trump had been directly pointing out to Taliban leaders the best places to drop a bomb … instead of doing it indirectly.

  145. wzrd1 says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 179, another wonderful example of restriction of first amendment rights of free speech.
    Rights can be only restricted by orders of a court of law or specific criminal activities, such as sedition and conspiracy. Privileges can and are revoked by mere administrative action, such as a driver’s license being revoked due to significant and hazardous impairment, as attested to by a competent medical professional in good standing.
    There’s some idiotic confusion on that difference here in the US, where civics education is phenomenally lousy.

    It is a shame that it was only for $1 million. Better would’ve been an ACLU vs KKK level of scorched earth.

  146. says

    Ukrainian journalist dies:

    […] Hers has been one of the accounts I check regularly on Twitter. This is a terrible loss.

    Amelina was in Kramatorsk with a group of journalists from Colombia and was in the Ria Lounge restaurant when it was destroyed by a Russian Iskander missile, killing a dozen people and injured many more. Amelia was injured but later died from her wounds.

    [Posted by Volodymyr Yermolenko]

    Our dearest friend nd brilliant Ukrainian writer and human rights activist Victoria Amelina passed away … killed by a Russian missile. Since RU invasion she has been documenting RU war crimes. Now killed by one of them. Devastating.

    [Source for this background material is pen.org.ua]

    Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Victoria Amelina has expanded her work far beyond literature. In 2022 she joined the human rights organization Truth Hounds. She has been documenting Russian war crimes on de-occupied territories in the Eastern, Southern and Northern parts of Ukraine, in particular in Kapytolivka near Izyum where she found a diary of Volodymyr Vakulenko, a Ukrainian writer killed by the Russians.

    During this time Victoria also started working on her first non-fiction book in English. In War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War, which should soon be published abroad, Victoria tells stories of Ukrainian women who are documenting Russian war crimes, and their lives during the war. She also did advocacy work in other countries, calling on the governments of those countries to enhance Ukrainian defense against Russian aggression by supplying weapons to Ukraine, and demanding justice and the international tribunal for all those who organized and committed Russian war crimes in Ukraine. She also raised the issue of commonalities in the anti-colonial fight of Ukrainians and other nations of the world.

    Victoria Amelina was born on January 1st, 1986, in Lviv. While still in school, she moved to Canada with her father, but soon decided to come back to Ukraine. In 2007 she received her master’s in computer technology cum laude from Lviv Polytechnic University. In 2005-2015 she worked in international IT companies.

    In 2014 she published her first novel, The November Syndrom, or Homo Compatiens. The book was listed in the top 10 of the best prose books, according to the annual rating of LitAktsent, a Ukrainian literature website. It was republished the next year and entered the shortlist of Valeriy Shevchuk Prize.

    She had a son.

    In other war news, as posted by Jason Jay Smart:

    Russian railway authorities discovered that unknown partisans had set fire to the railway relay cabinets outside of Moscow. Arson of key infrastructure seems to be happening at a faster pace than ever before in Russia.

  147. wzrd1 says

    Lynna, OM, militarily speaking, I’m of mixed feelings over cluster munitions.
    While, they are invaluable for clearing significant real estate of combatants, they’re also highly non-selective as a regular bomb is – at much greater close proximity devastation over a large area. They’re also infamously difficult to clear an area of UXO’s (UneXploded Ordinance), leaving this cute baseball sized ball thingie on the ground for a child to kick years later – at a minimum, blowing legs off, more likely killing the child and small pieces remain to be buried by a bereaved family.
    The last literally gives me nightmares.
    As I reminded my guys in the war, “Always remember, your weapons and ordinance was made by the lowest bidder”.

    Oh, if any are confused about the phosgene comment, the proper name for the chemical agent is phosgene oxime, a WWI choking agent.
    By choking agent, I mean, it literally drowns a victim to death in their own bodily fluids. There is no cure for it at all. Other phosgene chemicals can be released from Halon type fire extinguishers when exposed to high temperatures, such as, oh, fire. Got a snoot full of phosegen compounds once from a Halon unit while putting out a trashcan fire.
    The instructions say to stand back a specific minimum distance for a reason. That was two weeks of pneumonia, totally uncool. The agent phosgene oxime is a fuck ton worse.
    I was trained in NBC recon, so yeah, as both a medic and NBC recon, I know my agents intimately.
    One good thing came from chemical warfare during WWI, mustard agents. Mustard gas causes massive, body section sized at times lesions full of fluid. They’re now currently fairly common chemotherapy agents that are sulfur derived and the only mustard is from their odor in trace quantities.
    I like anything that went from taking lives to saving lives!

  148. says

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

    An international office to investigate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine opened on Monday in The Hague, in the first step towards a possible tribunal for Moscow’s leadership. It will investigate and gather evidence in a move seen as an interim step before the creation of a special tribunal that could bring Kremlin officials to justice for starting the Ukraine war.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent comments about payments to the Wagner group was “like direct evidence” that Wagner’s mercenaries were an illegal arm of the Russian army in the war, Ukraine’s top prosecutor Andriy Kostin has said while in The Hague….

    Also from there:

    Ukraine’s chief prosecutor has issued a statement commending the opening of the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression (ICPA) in The Hague.

    On social media, Andriy Kostin wrote:

    The long-awaited day has arrived: the ICPA officially begins work!

    This is the beginning of the end of impunity for the crime of aggression. From today, Ukrainian prosecutors will work in The Hague.

    The ICPA is of particular importance to Ukraine — it is a clear signal that the world is united and steadfast in holding the Russian regime accountable for all its crimes: the crime of aggression, genocide, and war crimes.

    Unfortunately, there is a gap in the architecture of international criminal justice regarding responsibility for the crime of aggression. The ICPA will be one of the elements that will strengthen the legal mechanisms for the prohibition of aggression, complement and strengthen this architecture.

    We are sincerely grateful to each of the partners who contributed to the creation of the Centre.

    I am firmly convinced that together we will be able to restore justice. This means the inevitable punishment of the aggressor — Russia, which unleashed the bloodiest war in Europe and continues to violate international law and human rights every day.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, on Belarus’s independence day on Monday, Reuters reports the Kremlin said in a statement….

    Wikipedia:

    …3 July 1944 was the day of Soviet liberation of Minsk from the Wehrmacht during the Minsk Offensive (code-named “Bagration”). The decision to celebrate Independence Day on 3 July, the day of the liberation of Belarus from the Nazis, from 27 July, the day of the Declaration of Sovereignty of Belarus in breaking away from the Soviet Union, was made during a controversial national referendum held in 1996 proposed by President Alexander Lukashenko….

    There is a public debate in Belarus regarding the appropriate date to be considered Independence Day. Since the early 1920s, various Belarusian political movements and the Belarusian diaspora have been celebrating Independence Day on 25 March as the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of independence by the Belarusian Democratic Republic….

  149. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday that Ukrainian forces were making progress in its counteroffensive to retake Russian occupied territory.

    On Telegram, Zelenskiy wrote: “Last week was difficult on the frontline. But we are making progress.

    ”We are moving forward, step by step! I thank everyone who is defending Ukraine, everyone who is leading this war to Ukraine’s victory!”

  150. says

    Guardian – “Israel attacks Jenin in biggest West Bank incursion in 20 years”:

    Israel has launched a major aerial and ground offensive into the West Bank city of Jenin, its biggest military operation in the Palestinian territory in years, as violence continues to surge in the conflict.

    At least five Palestinians were killed and 28 injured in the attack that began at about 1am on Monday, with the death toll likely to rise, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

    Launching at least 10 drone strikes on buildings, a brigade of Israeli troops – suggesting between 1,000 to 2,000 soldiers – backed by armoured bulldozers and snipers on rooftops entered the city and its refugee camp, encountering fire from Palestinians after Israel informed the White House of its plans.

    A spokesperson for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, called the operation “a new war crime against our defenceless people”.

    In a joint statement, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet, said they attacked a command centre in the Jenin refugee camp that was used by a local militant group.

    Images from inside Jenin showed armed and masked Palestinian fighters on the streets as gun battles and explosions continued into Monday morning.

    The incursion into Jenin is the first since the 2002 Battle of Jenin during the second intifada, when more than 50 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed in over a week of fighting, including 13 Israeli soldiers in a single incident.

    Monday’s events bring the death toll of Palestinians killed this year in the West Bank to 133, part of more than a year-long spike in violence that has resulted in some of the worst bloodshed in that area in nearly two decades….

  151. Reginald Selkirk says

    What Sweden’s submarines bring to NATO

    When Sweden joins NATO, it will help the alliance redress its vulnerability in northwest Europe – the Baltic Sea, a shared waterway with Russia with a bottleneck for access to ports in eight states including Germany.

    Sweden’s key to keeping the waters navigable in a conflict is its world-leading submarine fleet, which analysts say holds some of the most advanced conventional submarines ever built…

    Interesting that they say “when”, not “if.”

  152. Reginald Selkirk says

    Michigan man accused of striking an officer during the US Capitol attack is arrested in Florida

    A Michigan man accused of attacking a police officer with a flagpole during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 has been arrested in Florida, officials said.

    Jeremy Rodgers, 28, of Midland, Michigan, faces several felony and misdemeanor charges, including assaulting a federal officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon, according to court records. He was arrested Friday in Orlando, Florida, and made his initial court appearance there. The case will be prosecuted in District of Columbia federal court….

    According to the criminal complaint, surveillance video shows Rodgers carrying a blue flag attached to a wooden flagpole as he approaches a line of law enforcement officers guarding the entrance to the East Rotunda Door. Investigators said Rodgers used his flagpole to strike a U.S. Capitol police officer three times on the helmet and then swung the flagpole twice more in the direction of officers.

  153. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mature American Chestnut trees found in Tribal Reserve

    During the summer of 2021, Tribal Reserve was surveyed for reproductively mature American chestnut (Tilĭ΄, Castanea dentata) trees. The survey supports a larger collaborative effort between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Natural Resources Department and The American Chestnut Foundation to restore this culturally significant tree to the Qualla Boundary (see the Cherokee One Feather Oct. 12, 2020 edition for more information about this collaboration). The Cherokee people have had a relationship with Tilĭ for thousands of years—a relationship that continues today with the making of chestnut bread every fall (though, Chinese chestnuts, Castanea mollissima, have mostly replaced American chestnuts in the recipe)…

    Jaime Van Leuven, field naturalist and then graduate research assistant at the University of Vermont (UVM), was hired by the EBCI Natural Resources Department to conduct the survey due to her background in plant biology and her experience with field surveys. Josh Istvan, EBCI GIS specialist, helped create a map of Tribal Reserve to facilitate Van Leuven’s search. Members of the EBCI Fisheries & Wildlife Management Program – specifically Dallas Bradley, Micah Walker, Caleb Hickman, Nicholas Reed, and Jessica Nagel – oriented Van Leuven to the roads and trails.

    … In the 20 days spent surveying the reserve, Jaime found eleven reproductively mature American chestnut trees. Consequently, these trees could play a role in the American chestnut restoration effort in the Qualla Boundary…

  154. says

    wzrd1 @192, (responding to comment 180 and 181) thanks for that additional information. I too am of two minds about cluster munitions, (and completely ignorant concerning the chemical agents you mentioned). I am appalled by the very idea of cluster munitions, and yet I acknowledge the situation in Ukraine. As already noted:

    […] Cluster munitions are already in ubiquitous use by Russian forces in Ukraine. Defeating Russia faster will reduce attacks on Ukraine generally, and cluster munition duds’ distribution in Ukraine. Unilateral restraint by Ukraine is unhelpful.

    [Russian cluster munitions have a high dud rate, which makes them particularly dangerous for children, as wzrd noted. Russians are using cluster munitions against Ukrainian civilian populations, while Ukraine would use cluster munitions against entrenched Russian military positions. That’s a big difference.]

    […] The humanitarian costs of deploying cluster munitions are borne exclusively by the people of Ukraine, thus they (through their government) should be the ones who decide for themselves how to balance military value with post-war ill effects.

    […] particularly when aiming to destroy entrenched enemy infantry, cluster munitions are unparalleled in their effectiveness.

    […] The only weapons that are capable of replacing cluster munitions are available in sharply limited quantities. [More details regarding ammunition supplies are in comment 180.]

    […] Ukraine simply doesn’t have the Air Force capabilities for combined warfare, thus they need other capabilities to do what a NATO Air Force would do prior to attempting to breach these defensive positions.

    Comment 180 also discusses the legal issues, the required cleanup after such weapons are used, and the devastating effects that still linger in countries like Laos.

  155. says

    Campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at a Moms for Liberty event, and the audience heard the Florida Republican use the word “woke” six times in 19 seconds. Earlier in the month, however, DeSantis said it seven times in just under 19 seconds, which seems like a tough record to break.

  156. says

    Trump says he’s not done moving the Supreme Court to the right

    Donald Trump named three Supreme Court justices, and he’s now eager to add several more. “Can you imagine?” he asked conservative voters.

    “You know many presidents never get the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice. I had three. They are not happy about that. And maybe we’ll get three or four more, can you imagine? […]”

    Commentary:

    […] It’s generally tough to make predictions about possible vacancies, but the fact remains that Justice Clarence Thomas has been on the Supreme Court for more than three decades, and the far-right jurist will turn 80 during the next presidential administration. Justice Samuel Alito, meanwhile, will turn 78 during the next administration.

    […] Ahead of the 2024 cycle, however, conditions have changed. The Supreme Court has become increasingly radical and regressive, and earlier Democratic warnings have come to fruition. It’s against this backdrop that Trump wants to name several additional justices, rhetorically asking conservative voters, “Can you imagine?”

    I think the answer is yes, many of us can imagine it. What’s more, it seems like the sort of thing that might help motivate quite a few voters over the next year or so.

  157. says

    Mike Pence may not have pulled the trigger, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t party to the crime

    When it came right down to it on Jan. 6, Mike Pence didn’t pull the trigger. Whether that was a demonstration of some sort of wisdom gleaned by consulting guru Dan Quayle or whether it just a fit of pique after several thousand Donald Trump supporters tried to lynch him, we don’t know. We likely never will know. But the sheer fact that Pence didn’t put a bullet into democracy when he had an opportunity has burnished his image as a Boy Scout who brushes his teeth with milk and Bible verses.

    That image is not deserved. Before he picked up his shiny tiara as the man who saved the Republic, Pence was neck-deep in the plans to end the Republic. That doesn’t just include participating in White House meetings with Trump and Republican members of Congress to plot how they could throw a wrench into the process. It included, by Pence’s own admission, calling governors across the country as part of Trump’s scheme to reverse the outcome of the election.

    And now Pence wants everyone to believe those calls came with “no pressure.”

    On Sunday, Pence sat down on CBS’ Face the Nation to explain why he “repeatedly” called then-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and others in the days after the election.

    Pence: “Well, I think the record reflects that I did check in, with not only Governor Ducey, but other governors in states that were going through the legal process of reviewing their election results, but there was no pressure involved, Margaret. I was- I was calling to get an update. I passed along that information to the president and as I said, I think the- I think the record from that time, confirms all of that. Look, these states were going through a process after- after so much uncertainty about the election outcome in places like Arizona, in places like Georgia, states around the country, were going through the legal process of engaging in a- in- in a review under state law. I got updates on that, passed that along, and it was no more, no less than that.”

    If this was supposed to be reassuring, it fails. If this is a contest to pack as many ridiculous claims as possible into a single statement, it’s a strong contender.

    The reason CBS asked the question was because of reporting from The Washington Post on Saturday, which follows the same utterly laughable sequence.

    Trump also repeatedly asked Vice President Mike Pence to call Ducey and prod him to find the evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims of fraud, according to two of these people. Pence called Ducey several times to discuss the election, they said, though he did not follow Trump’s directions to pressure the governor.

    So, according to both the Post report and Pence’s own statement, things went like this: Trump called Ducey and directly pressured him to change the results of the election, which President Joe Biden won by over 10,000 votes. Though the margin of victory was just 0.3%, it represented the first time a Democrat had won the state since Clinton carried it in 1996. It was only the second time a Democrat won Arizona since Harry Truman. It’s possible to read that as Biden being an exceptionally strong candidate in the state … or as Trump being particularly reviled.

    That 0.3% margin was far above the 0.1% threshold for a recount in Arizona. Arizona law also doesn’t allow candidates to request a recount. However, it does allow citizens to directly contest election results in state court on the basis of “misconduct” or the counting of “illegal votes.”

    Trump promptly found supporters to make such claims. The state attorney general, a Trump-supporting Republican, agreed to a recount. As a result, a hand audit of results was conducted. The election was Nov. 3. That hand audit of the ballots was completed by Nov. 7. That audit confirmed Biden’s victory.

    Exactly how Trump leaned on Ducey isn’t known. Unlike Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the call to Ducey wasn’t recorded, so we can’t be sure if Trump told the Arizona governor to “find the votes” or throw out some results. We only know that Trump wanted the numbers changed.

    And then Pence called Ducey “repeatedly” just to “check in” and “get an update.” Because being an errand boy was apparently his job.

    However … The idea that any call from the White House comes with “no pressure” is ludicrous.

    The idea that getting an update on the status of the election in Arizona meant that Mike Pence should be directly calling the governor is even more ludicrous.

    Had there been any updated results to deliver, this is something that might easily have been carried out by the lowest-level staffer.

    There were no updates.

    As of Nov. 7, the few ballots still in dispute at counties around Arizona were much less than the margin of Biden’s victory, making it utterly impossible for Trump to reverse the results. The hand audit was finalized on Nov. 17. Between then and Nov. 30 when the results in Arizona were officially certified by the secretary of state, there were no changes to the numbers in Arizona. There wasn’t even a mechanism for change.

    On Nov. 13, Trump’s legal team dropped the lawsuit it had filed in Arizona after a judge ruled that the hand audit of votes made it unnecessary. For all the claims about Sharpies, overvotes, and illegal ballots, there was no provision in Arizona for doing any further recount because there was no evidence to support it.

    Republicans would change that. A new law in Arizona now makes it much easier for a candidate to ask for a recall. And the Arizona legislature was behind the Maricopa County recount, conducted by Republican firms with no experience in recounts or voting machines, that would run all the way until the following September before determining, again, that Biden won. But all that was in the future.

    When Pence was calling Ducey “for updates,” there were no updates to be had. So why was Pence actually calling? What was he asking? And how in the hell can anyone believe this didn’t represent pressure on Ducey?

    Imagine this in any other setting. Your boss calls you and tells you he wants you to accept a position in a distant city. Then his assistant repeatedly calls you to ask how things are going with thinking about that new job. But, you know, no pressure. A local real estate developer calls you and leans on you to sell your property. Then one of his agents phones you up day by day to ask how the deal is coming along. But hey, no pressure.

    Whatever setting you’re imagining, don’t forget that the conversation starts with a call from a staffer who announces that there is an incoming call from the White House, and then asks you to “hold for the vice president.” Who then informs you he’s calling on behalf of the president.

    No pressure.

    Pence was repeatedly calling Ducey—we don’t know how many times, or on what dates, but it’s a pretty good bet that the number was more than two or three and the dates were well after there was no reason to check election results. We do know that Ducey said he had talked to Trump in December, weeks after the vote in Arizona had been certified and the slate of Biden electors was assembled. Was Pence still calling Ducey at that point? If so, exactly what kind of update was he asking about?

    After Nov. 7, there really was no update for Pence to obtain when it came to election results. The only update to be obtained was “what’s your status on knuckling under to Trump and helping him overturn the outcome?”

    Ducey has, for now at least, refused to answer specific questions about his calls with Trump and Pence. Considering the very real pressure Trump supporters in and out of government have applied to every Republican official who failed to go along with Trump’s overthrow attempts, it’s completely understandable that Ducey wouldn’t want to talk without the shield of some legal obligation to do so. So far, special counsel Jack Smith has not called on Ducey to appear before his Washington, D.C., grand jury.

    Smith should get on with that.

    In the meantime, it would be nice if journalists would stop pretending that Pence’s calls to Ducey and other Republicans who were engaged in fighting off Trump lawsuits and wading through angry Trump supporters didn’t represent pressure. Or that Pence was somehow uninvolved in the scheme to overturn the election.

  158. Pierce R. Butler says

    Reginald Selkirk quoting Yahoo News @ # 203: … video shows Rodgers carrying a blue flag attached to a wooden flagpole …

    The great majority of “blue flags” seen on 1/6/21 had one word on them (plus some small print): somebody’s name, a guy two weeks from unemployment. Don’t you wonder why the criminal complaint quoted by the reporter leaves that out?

  159. Oggie: Mathom says

    Trump’s boast about 75,000 fans at his South Carolina rally undercut by the Secret Service
    Story by Tom Boggioni • Yesterday 2:34 PM

    I admit I have lots to feel insecure about, but I am not even close to Serial Sex Abuser Donald Trump when it comes to level of personal insecurity.

    During his rally in Pickens, South Carolina on Saturday, and on his Truth Social platform on Sunday, Donald Trump boasted that 75,000 fans of his descended upon the tiny town to hear him talk but the Secret Service claimed otherwise \– by a lot.

    According to the Greenville News the former president made the claim during his speech that just ran over an hour in the sweltering heat that led to over 50 MAGA diehards seeking medical attention.

    On Saturday, the former president doubled down on the 75,000 claim by sharing an online post on Truth Social from Rep. Nancy Nace (R-SC) who posted online, “30,000 people inside the perimeter at the rally today. 45,000 people outside the perimeter trying to get in. For a total of 75,000 people.”

    According to the Greenville News, “Pickens Police Chief Randall Beach estimated a crowd of 50,000 showed up on a day when afternoon temperatures soared into the mid-90s, causing dozens of people to suffer from heat-related illness.”

    However, as Bob Montgomery of the Herald Journal wrote, the Secret Service has a slightly different count. in the town of just over 3,000 where parking spaces on Saturday were filled early.

    “Pre-rally estimates of 10,000 to 30,000 were made. During his remarks, Trump claimed the turnout was 75,000,” he wrote. “[Sheriff] Beach said he needed to get an accurate count from the Secret Service before providing a final number. Around 11 a.m., a secret service agent told the News there are 5,000 inside the gate and approximately 10,000 still in line.”

  160. Oggie: Mathom says

    Trump’s boast about 75,000 fans at his South Carolina rally undercut by the Secret Service
    Story by Tom Boggioni • Yesterday 2:34 PM

    I admit I have lots to feel insecure about, but I am not even close to Serial Sex Abuser Donald Trump when it comes to level of personal insecurity.

    During his rally in Pickens, South Carolina on Saturday, and on his Truth Social platform on Sunday, Donald Trump boasted that 75,000 fans of his descended upon the tiny town to hear him talk but the Secret Service claimed otherwise \– by a lot.

    According to the Greenville News the former president made the claim during his speech that just ran over an hour in the sweltering heat that led to over 50 MAGA diehards seeking medical attention.

    On Saturday, the former president doubled down on the 75,000 claim by sharing an online post on Truth Social from Rep. Nancy Nace (R-SC) who posted online, “30,000 people inside the perimeter at the rally today. 45,000 people outside the perimeter trying to get in. For a total of 75,000 people.”

    According to the Greenville News, “Pickens Police Chief Randall Beach estimated a crowd of 50,000 showed up on a day when afternoon temperatures soared into the mid-90s, causing dozens of people to suffer from heat-related illness.”

    However, as Bob Montgomery of the Herald Journal wrote, the Secret Service has a slightly different count. in the town of just over 3,000 where parking spaces on Saturday were filled early.

    “Pre-rally estimates of 10,000 to 30,000 were made. During his remarks, Trump claimed the turnout was 75,000,” he wrote. “[Sheriff] Beach said he needed to get an accurate count from the Secret Service before providing a final number. Around 11 a.m., a secret service agent told the News there are 5,000 inside the gate and approximately 10,000 still in line.”

  161. Pierce R. Butler says

    Haven’t heard much lately from or about the Scottish independence movement, but this AP story indicates one of their first problems if successful:

    Sick of being ignored by far-away politicians, officials on Scotland’s remote Orkney Islands are mulling a drastic solution: rejoining Norway, the Scandinavian country that gave them away as a royal wedding dowry more than 550 years ago.

    USAstanis might find it amusing that the “Orkney Islands Council is due to debate options for ‘alternative models of governance’ on” … July 4.

  162. Reginald Selkirk says

    Illegal service allowed Russians to make anonymous calls in Ukraine

    Kyiv’s law enforcement officers exposed the businessmen who carried out the re-routing of international calls to Ukraine: their services allowed anyone from abroad to make anonymous calls in this country.

    The organised gang included four people. The investigation team found out that the organiser of the scheme itself was a 26-year-old citizen of Kyiv, who brought to cooperation a native of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast born in 1987, a Zhytomyr citizen born in 1986 and a resident of Zaporizhzhia born in 1978.

    According to the investigation, the dealers used proxy servers, the latest IP telephony technologies and specialised software.

    The criminals provided connections between subscribers from different states, including the aggressor state of Russia with subscribers in Ukraine, masked the source of generation of telephone connections to the territory of Ukraine and, as a result, created communication channels uncontrolled by Ukrainian operators under martial law…

  163. Oggie: Mathom says

    Pot, kettle. Kettle, pot.

    Former President Donald Trump was deeply critical of the notion of a candidate running for president under indictment in 2016, seven years before he was arrested twice on felony charges during his 2024 presidential campaign.

    In 2016 comments unearthed by CNN’s KFile on Monday, Trump slammed his then-opponent, Hillary Clinton, saying she had “no right” to run for president because she was under federal investigation over her handling of classified information on a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

    “We could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial,” Trump said at a Nov. 5, 2016, campaign rally in Reno, Nevada. “It would grind government to a halt.”

    At another rally on Nov. 3, 2016, in Concord, North Carolina, Trump said it would “create an unprecedented constitutional crisis that would cripple the operations of our government” if Clinton won the election while under investigation.

    “She has no right to be running,” he said.

    Trump, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, was indicted last month on 37 felony counts in connection to his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Federal prosecutors presented evidence that he knowingly broke the law, obstructed their investigation and refused to return sensitive documents despite repeated government efforts to retrieve them.

    In April, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office charged him with 34 felony counts in a separate case involving an alleged scheme to cover up an affair via hush money payments in order to influence the 2016 presidential election.

    No charges were brought against Clinton. Though the Justice Department probe determined that her office had been “extremely careless” in its handling of classified information, investigators concluded she had not acted with criminal intent.

    Trump has repeatedly called for the prosecution and jailing of rivals and adversaries accused of mishandling classified information.

    Some of his public comments on the subject were cited by prosecutors in his indictment last month. The document listed Trump’s remarks from campaign speeches in 2016 about the importance of protecting classified information ― suggesting he was aware of how serious it was to fail to do so.

    “We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified,” Trump said on Sept. 6, 2016.

  164. says

    Conservative white women gaslighting America and getting away with it:

    A Moms for Liberty chapter recently had to apologize for quoting Adolf Hitler approvingly in its newsletter, and the national organization was described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-government organization spreading “messages of anti-inclusion and hate.” But that didn’t stop the group from drawing top Republican presidential candidates and favorable media coverage as it held its big conference in Philadelphia. […]

    ”You have proven beyond all doubt that there is no earthly force more powerful than the love of a mother for her children—that’s true,” Trump said. “In school board races, PTA meetings and town halls across the nation, you have taught the radical left Marxists and communists a lesson they will never forget: Don’t mess with America’s moms.”

    What they mean, of course, is conservative white women for whom “mom” is a useful political identity. Moms for Liberty is no grassroots group, either. One of the group’s original co-founders is married to the head of the Florida Republican Party, and within months of launching, the group had been featured by Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, and Breitbart News. In the first two years of its existence, it held fundraisers with ticket prices up to $20,000 featuring guests like former Fox News personality Megyn Kelly and musician John Rich. Its first annual conference, held last year, included Sen. Rick Scott, Ron and Casey DeSantis, former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and more big names. This is not what grassroots groups look like. Yet when media organizations like ABC News are covering the Moms for Liberty conference, the “regular moms” framing is what leads, while the big money and interesting connections are mentioned only in passing, if that.

    […] What are they mad about? Talk to us about that. Because it sounds less like righteous mom stuff if you say up front that they’re mad that schools are teaching the history of race and civil rights in the U.S. and that the existence of LGBTQ+ people is not being erased or treated as shameful.

    This weekend’s Moms for Liberty conference showcases how local issues like education can have tremendous, galvanizing national influence, as Gov. Ron DeSantis, former President Donald Trump, and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley tried to woo nearly 700 attendees of the over 150,000-member group Friday. [aaarrrggghhh, propaganda]

    The big national Republican money behind this shows that it’s not a question of local issues having a national influence. It’s a form of circular messaging Republicans have mastered: The first “local parent voices” are, if you dig a little bit, longtime right-wing activists with deep ties to the Republican Party, but when they go on Fox News within weeks of launching their new organization, they’re billed simply as “concerned parents.” The Fox News appearances draw in some people who are just regular angry conservatives, helping the new group, with its establishment ties and big donors, paint itself as “grassroots.”

    Moms for Liberty is—like Betsy DeVos—committed to undermining, defunding, and ultimately abolishing what they call “government schools.” That’s public schools. COVID-19 restrictions were the group’s first way into the public eye, but since then they’ve jumped on and helped promote every Republican attack on teachers and schools as it’s come up. It was critical race theory, with Moms for Liberty chapters loudly opposing children’s books on civil rights figures like Ruby Bridges and Martin Luther King Jr. Then there were attacks on teachers as “groomers” as Moms for Liberty sought to eliminate any mention of LGBTQ+ people from schools.

    You cannot talk responsibly about Moms for Liberty without mentioning their extremist ties, laid out clearly by the SPLC:

    One of the most notable connections is the association with several chapters with the Proud Boys, a White nationalist group. Pictures have circulated across social media of Moms for Liberty leaders and members posing with Proud Boys in their full regalia.

    Bridget Ziegler was recently elected to the Sarasota County school board – a victory due in part to local Proud Boys, who she was pictured celebrating with afterwards. She later attempted to downplay the connection.

    Moms for Liberty also teamed up with the controversial group, Gays Against Groomers, to host an anti-LGBTQ “Protect the Children” rally in Florida, which also included Proud Boys flashing White power signs. …

    Some Moms for Liberty members have turned to law enforcement for support, specifically members of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). Some Moms for Liberty member have called on the sheriffs, claiming “sex crimes,” further feeding their narrative of children being sexualized and also pushing into the area of QAnon conspiracies of children being groomed by progressives.

    “When they mentioned that this was a terrorist organization, I said ‘Well then, count me as a mom for liberty because that’s what I am,’” Nikki Haley—the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador and current Republican presidential candidate—said at the group’s Philadelphia convention. That’s who she was associating herself with.

    ”You’re not the threat to America,” Trump told them. “You’re the best thing that has ever happened to America.”

    It’s irresponsible reporting to cover these Republican candidates praising this group without putting its hate group connections and bigoted positions front and center.

    Link

  165. says

    Trump adds Georgia’s Raffensperger to his list of ‘real’ criminals

    First, Donald Trump said Jack Smith and Alvin Bragg were the “real” criminals. Now he’s adding Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to the list.

    Listen to Donald Trump long enough and one of his favorite rhetorical strategies becomes unavoidable. It’s called the I’m-rubber-you’re-glue tactic. As regular readers know, it’s juvenile and ineffective, but the former president has nevertheless relied on this throughout his relatively brief political career.

    He’s especially quick to rely on the tactic when pushing back against those who’ve implicated him in wrongdoing.

    Earlier this year, for example, as special counsel Jack Smith investigated some of the former president’s alleged crimes, Trump declared that it’s Smith who might “very well turn out to be a criminal.” A couple of months later, the Republican tried the same tack against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, insisting the New York prosecutor is the actual criminal.

    On Saturday, the former president spoke at a rally in South Carolina, where he seemed to add Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to the list. Describing the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which he told the Georgian he wanted someone to “find” enough votes to flip the state’s election results, Trump told supporters:

    “The call was supposedly taped in the state of Florida. And in Florida, you’re not allowed to do, you know, that’s a two-party state. In other words, you’re not allowed to tape phone calls. They taped the phone calls. To show you how nice they are, they taped the phone calls, and you’re not allowed. So that is the real crime here.”

    Remember, as we discussed earlier, after Trump lost in Georgia, the then-president called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, telling the Georgia Republican he wanted someone to “find” enough votes to flip the state’s election results, even if that meant overturning the will of the voters.

    The then-president added, while pressuring Raffensperger, “[T]here’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

    As regular readers know, Raffensperger recorded the call, offering the public the opportunity to hear Trump explore ways to cheat, begging others to participate in his scheme, and even make some subtle threats toward the state’s top elections official. There’s a very real chance that Trump crossed a legal line with this and related efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results, and he might soon be indicted.

    But as of Saturday, the frontrunner for the GOP’s 2024 nomination said the “real” problem wasn’t his apparent misconduct, but rather, the fact that Raffensperger recorded him engaging in the apparent misconduct.

    This is hardly better than Trump’s usual argument that since Raffensperger was polite during their phone meeting, the alleged election interference didn’t really count.

    For his part, Georgia’s secretary of state met last week with federal prosecutors examining Trump’s post-election schemes.

    We don’t yet have many details about the behind-closed-doors discussion, but Raffensperger’s office released a statement on Wednesday. “Georgia is a national leader in election security, integrity, and access,” it read. “Failed candidates and their enablers have peddled false narratives about our elections for personal gain for a long time and the voters of Georgia aren’t buying it.”

  166. says

    Wonkette: “GOP Celebrates ‘Freedom’ By Cheering Blowing Some Of It Up!”

    […] On ABC, host Jonathan Karl began asked about the possible loss of diverse college student in university with this undoing of a key part of the Civil Rights Act.

    Pence whitesplained what he considers the current state of race in America.

    PENCE: I think I couldn’t be more proud of the progress we’ve made toward a more perfect union in my lifetime, the Civil Rights Acts in the 1960s. And I think there was a time for affirmative action, Jon … to open the doors of our colleges and universities to minority students and particularly African Americans who may have been denied access. But I think those days are over. […]I really believe that the decision by the Supreme Court today was an acknowledgement of the incredible progress that minority Americans have made, their extraordinary educational achievements, and I have every confidence that – that African Americans and other minority Americans are going to continue to compete and succeed in universities around the country, but we’re going to do it with a colorblind society […]

    You heard it here, folks: Racism is OVER!!! Mike Pence said so!

    Pence even did the thing where conservatives quote Dr. Martin Luther King incorrectly to present the opposite of his actual views:

    PENCE: But we’re going to be able to do it with – with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision in place, that we’ll be judged not by the content – or judged by — not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character and by our own academic performance.

    I’m so glad that in 2023, unlike before apparently, all students will be judged strictly by their academic achievements! No longer will unqualified C students be admitted to Ivy League universities by having an unfair advantage. No Siree Bob, it’s a new day of equality for all to be judged strictly by the content of their wallets “character.” Now all students will fairly compete in a real American “meritocracy” … determined by donation size, family legacy or rich connections. Just as GOP Jesus intended! Amirite?

    Pence also took a moment to celebrate the right for a person who was never asked to design a website for same-sex marriages to deny them pre-emptively, which is (again) remarkable as no one asked.

    KARL: So — so let me ask you. You had also said that there is no place for discrimination based on race in the United States. I think everybody would absolutely agree with that. Do you also believe there is no place for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity?

    PENCE: Well, look, I’m — as you know, I’m a Bible-believing Christian. I’ll always believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. But the Supreme Court, now the better part of 10 years ago, recognized same-sex marriage. But now in […] this week that strong conservative majority also affirmed the right of every American to live, to work, to worship according to the dictates of their conscience.

    Pence is trying soooooo hard to not fully admit his hatred for the LGBTQ community while signaling he’d like to roll back all the progress that community has made.

    […] Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley stopped by “Fox News Sunday.” She has to go somewhere, we guess. [video at the link]

    Haley was asked about the Republican presidential primary race (she still thinks she can win) and about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s bigoted proposal to eliminate birthright citizenship (she agrees with Ron because, to paraphrase in our own words, “fuck them, I got mine”).

    “For the 5 million people who’ve entered our country illegally, I am against birthright citizenship,” she said, although the Constitution itself makes no such distinction. “For those that are in this country legally, of course, I think we go according to the Constitution, and that’s fine.”

    Host Shannon Bream later amused us all with the latest Fox News poll that revealed how delusional Haley is and why she doesn’t merit any more space in this post. [Fox News Poll showing Haley at 3%]

    LOL

  167. says

    Ukraine Update: Sorry, this is not a tank

    This morning, sources on the ground in Ukraine reported that Ukrainian forces had made significant progress in the area near the city of Donetsk.

    Since 2014, this city has been the so-called capital of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic.” Following that first Russian invasion, Russian-backed forces and the Ukrainian military were left facing each other over defensive lines that dipped to within 10 kilometers of Donetsk. All through the months of the invasion that started in February 2022, Russia has been unable to dislodge Ukrainian forces from the lines near Donetsk in its efforts to capture the remainder of Donetsk Oblast.

    Now it seems that things may have turned the other way. As part of the Ukrainian counteroffensive that began in June, its forces may have broken Russian defenses around Donetsk. The most likely area would be north of the much fought-over suburb of Marinka along the highway running east from the town of Krasnohorivka, where Ukrainian forces were known to have made progress earlier in the week. However, as with most things in this phase of the war, it’s going to be days before we know for sure what has happened.

    Throughout Russia’s illegal, unprovoked invasion, Ukraine has been very good on operational security. In a time when every soldier in the field carries a personal video studio and broadcasting system, it’s really quite amazing how well Ukraine does in restraining the spread of information about active battles. The Ministry of Defense has apparently done a very good job of selling the importance of not oversharing information that might be valuable to the Russians.

    In a war where Russia is facing a satellite and other intelligence deficit, keeping good operational security is necessary to maximize the value of that gap.

    If it sometimes seems that Russian Telegram sources, even those inside Russia, are being particularly chatty about events on the ground, it’s largely because they probably assume that Ukraine already knows about whatever they have to say. Between satellites, drones, and Ukrainian citizens monitoring every Russian unit, there’s almost nothing happening inside Ukraine that doesn’t swiftly make itself known to Kyiv.

    Which means that when trying to translate news of an advance toward Donetsk that at least one source has called “rapid,” producing a map today involves making a WAG. (That would be the acronym for “wild-ass guess.”) With that in mind, here’s what may have happened in the Donetsk area.

    On Friday there were reports that Ukraine had made an advance in the area east of Krasnohorivka. That advance reportedly brought Ukrainian forces to a tree line circled on this map. [map at the link]

    To get a better look we could go to the most recent satellite imagery of the area, but it’s been frustratingly cloudy over the last week. Instead, here’s how that area in the blue circle looked when Google Maps last took satellite images around the first of the year. [image at the link]

    Even at this scale, there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly special about this tree line. Such thin rows of trees commonly border fields around Ukraine and are frequently sought for cover—though with increased use of thermal cameras on both sides, the camouflage provided by these tree lines is often ineffective. But in this case, there is something else to be seen if we move in closer. [image at the link]

    This is how a section of that tree line looks at the maximum resolution of Google Maps, where each pixel is about 30 centimeters. At this scale, it’s easy to see that this is not so much a tree line as a long-established defensive line–a tangle of trees, shrubs, ditches, earth ramparts, artillery emplacements, and bunkers. You can see the tracks from vehicles that have passed along the area behind this screen of trees, and the circular craters that represent years of shelling in the area. That whole tree line is like this, all the way from about 250 meters from the road into Staromykhailivka on the north down to the road next to that quarry in the south.

    And … so what? There are so many lines of trenches and other fortifications in this area of Ukraine that it would be more surprising to look at this area and find it was only trees. But what makes this particular line of bunkers and ditches so interesting is that there’s not one at the next tree line. Or at the one after that. Or at the next dozen roads behind that. Unless Russia has dug some new barriers in this area in the last few weeks–which is entirely possible–there might not be any more defensive positions between the point Ukraine reached on Friday and the western edges of Donetsk.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean Ukraine can now just load up the wagon and head for downtown. There are large Russian forces on both flanks of this small salient, and we’ve already seen that even the most innocuous field in Ukraine may turn out to be holding a vast crop of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.

    However, if Ukraine is essentially behind Russian defensive positions at this point, it certainly opens an opportunity to strike other Russian forces in the flank, or to force Russian troops to abandon other positions and retreat toward Donetsk.

    This is the area where the Ukrainian military reported on Friday that it had, for the first time since this invasion began, liberated an area that Russia had captured during that 2014 invasion. It’s a small area, barely over 3 km square, so far as we know. But then, what we know is at least two days behind because Ukraine’s OpSec is that good.

    THE TANK THAT ISN’T … REALLY ISN’T

    From the moment France said it was sending the AMX-10rc to Ukraine, there have been questions about what role it could perform. The wheeled vehicle looks like a light tank from the waist up, and France has often used it very much like a tank when taking on lightly armed forces in Africa. But everything from how the AMX’s wheels would perform in Ukrainian mud to how well its armor would fare against Soviet-era tanks has made us question the wheeled vehicle’s job again, and again, and again.

    Now it seems that some of the answers are in, producing what may seem to be an obvious result: The AMX-10rc is not a tank. At least, not a tank that can perform the role of a main battle tank in pushing through a heavily mined and defended front line.

    As France 24 reports, a Ukrainian commander called the use of the AMX-10rc for a front-line tank “impractical.” In particular, that commander recounted a grim incident in which an artillery shell landed near the French vehicle and, despite not making a direct hit, the shrapnel from that shell still penetrated the thin armor of the AMX-10’s upper hull to kill all the crew members.

    Considering that Ukrainian crews have walked away from both Leopard tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles that have taken a hit from artillery, anti-tank weapons, or mines, that’s a very notable, and costly, difference.

    But it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. The AMX-10rc is the result of tradeoffs. It drops the heavy armor and all-terrain capabilities of a full-bore tank for speed and maneuverability. On an open battlefield where it can move quickly, the thing can be a terror, getting into positions that allow it to use its very punchy main gun to take out infantry transports and artillery. In such a battle it would likely acquit itself well enough against Soviet-era tanks.

    Only what Ukraine is facing now is not that kind of battle. It’s a hard slog through minefields toward heavy defensive positions, under constant artillery fire, with Russian armor and infantry coming forward to challenge vehicles that are, by the requirements of the battlefield, moving slowly.

    When a breakthrough comes, it’s easy to see the AMX-10rc moving in among waves of infantry transports, clearing out remaining Russian forces or the vehicles that managed to escape notice by the advancing front line. It’s even possible that Ukraine could again experience something like the counteroffensive in Kherson, where the AMX-10rc would have been very handy in those rapid advances up the highway toward Russian backline positions that lacked the fortifications or firepower to slow the Ukrainian advance.

    But for now, the AMX-10rc has to take a back seat, because the one thing far more valuable in Ukraine right now than a tank is a tank crew.

    AROUND THE FRONT

    There are reports that Ukraine has advanced southeast of Pyatykhatky, positioning itself in a wooded area. However, there is evidence for further advance in this area. FIRMS data shows the biggest area of artillery impacts to be about 8 km southwest, near the town of Hladke. Meanwhile, there are reports that the city of Vasylivka has come under artillery fire. Again, we should know more of what’s happening in about two days.

    Fighting is now going on at the edge of Robotyne. On Sunday, the fighting in this area was described as very heavy. Ukraine has also expanded its area of control to the east in this area. Maps and details coming up at the next update of the southern front.

    Along the T0815 highway, Ukrainian forces have liberated the town of Luhviske and are reportedly in combat at Novokarlivka. This road leads toward Polohy, one of the largest towns near the current front line.

    Late in June, Ukrainian sources said that Ukraine had actually liberated the town of Marfopil back on June 11. Now there are reports of Russian shelling at Stepanivka, the next village along the same road. This probably means that Ukraine has advanced to this position.

    Rivnopil was liberated last week. On Monday, Ukrainian forces are reported to be attacking from this area, and from the northwest, toward Pryyutne. It’s not clear how close to the town this attack is taking place. There are also reported advances directly south from Rivnopil, west of Staromaiorske. Ukraine is reportedly operating in the woods west of Staromaiorske. There’s high ground here that provides a significant tactical advantage.

    As Ukrainian forces continue to make advances around Bakhmut, the commander of the eastern region says that Russia has reduced forces in the area of Bakhmut to around 50,000. Where have they gone? Mostly to the area to the north, with a reported 120,000 on the line between Kupyansk and Kreminna.

    TANKS ARE NOT ARTILLERY

    This could also count as another episode of “why does Russia release these videos?” [video at the link: "russian tank receives a second hit from a FPV drone."] In this case, a Russian tank near Marinka takes up a position with the purpose of shelling Ukrainian forces. It’s hit by one FPV drone advancing to the position, then hit by a second soon after it fires a single shot. The video does seem to show the tank is still mobile after all this, but it also seems to not be perfectly healthy
    ————————
    Since I already beat up on that bastard Pickett, and it is that day, here’s an extra kick in the butt for his loathesome boss. Russia only wishes it had artillery coverage like this. [tweet and hand-drawn map of "Absolute artillery dominance, aka Henry Hunt's Revenge. It was the height of Lee's homicidal hubris that he thought he could successfully attack this."] [GIF of film excerpt, “Bayonets!” also at the link]

  168. says

    There are reports on Twitter that quote Girkin as saying that as a result of the arrival of the Russian world in the Donbas in 2014, famine began there. Russia has been starving the elderly that they supposedly came to liberate.

  169. says

    More re #s 22 and 24 above:

    The Conversation – “A subtle symphony of ripples in spacetime – astronomers use dead stars to measure gravitational waves produced by ancient black holes”:

    An international team of astronomers has detected a faint signal of gravitational waves reverberating through the universe. By using dead stars as a giant network of gravitational wave detectors, the collaboration – called NANOGrav – was able to measure a low-frequency hum from a chorus of ripples of spacetime.

    I’m an astronomer who studies and has written about cosmology, black holes and exoplanets. I’ve researched the evolution of supermassive black holes using the Hubble Space telescope.

    Though members of the team behind this new discovery aren’t yet certain, they strongly suspect that the background hum of gravitational waves they measured was caused by countless ancient merging events of supermassive black holes….

    Here’s NANOGrav’s announcement page, with the YT video of the livestreamed presentation at the NSF. (I love that one guy calls binary systems of supermassive black holes “the coolest objects in the universe.”) So exciting.

  170. Reginald Selkirk says

    Actor Hill Harper poised to challenge Slotkin in Michigan Senate primary

    Democratic leaders hoped Elissa Slotkin would clear the field in the Senate primary in Michigan, giving the battle-tested candidate extra time and money to prepare for the general election. Instead, a handful of Democrats have already jumped into the race — and one more is likely on the way.

    Actor Hill Harper is finalizing plans to launch his Senate campaign in the coming weeks. The Democrat is preparing for his kickoff event, according to a person close to Harper’s team. He has also shot his announcement video and ordered campaign T-shirts…

  171. Reginald Selkirk says

    Sanders appoints state GOP chair to Arkansas Supreme Court

    Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders appointed Cody Hiland Monday to the Arkansas Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Robin Wynne.

    Hiland, a native of Bee Branch, served as U.S. attorney from October 2017 until he resigned in December 2020 after being appointed to the position by former President Donald Trump.

    In December 2022, Hiland was elected Chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas.

    Before that, he worked on Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ gubernatorial campaign…

  172. says

    Francis Farrell in the Kyiv Independent – “Francis Farrell: As the world watches the counteroffensive, a sober hold on reality is Ukraine’s greatest weapon”:

    …For now, without knowing detailed figures on attrition or ammunition expenditure, there is only one conclusion that can be made with any surety: Ukraine’s counteroffensive has found limited success, but until the bulk of its reserve force is committed, it is simply too early to judge.

    More so, war is brutal and unpredictable, and rarely goes one side’s way all or even most of the time. Looking at how things have gone so far, the Ukrainian command could still decide that committing to an all-or-nothing attack is just too risky and, even if it does, it’s entirely possible that it could fail.

    For those rightly invested in this war and in the fate of an independent Ukraine, managing expectations and staying in touch with reality is paramount.

    The early phase of Russia’s war against Ukraine was defined by Russian incompetence on the battlefield, as huge columns of armored vehicles got stuck and were ambushed by anti-tank squads and artillery en masse.

    But even more, it was Moscow’s public disconnect from the reality on the ground that was most compelling to watch.

    The circus of Russian delusion, summed up by the often-repeated line of a Ukrainian soldier “We are so lucky that they are so f***ing stupid,” is all good fun for supporters of Ukraine observing the war.

    But now, with Ukraine embarking on one of the most objectively difficult military operations in modern history, going against lines of fortified, mined, and well-manned lines of defense without air superiority, one must avoid falling into the same trap.

    In its slow and careful approach to the counteroffensive, the Ukrainian command is a fine example of making sober, reality-based decisions.

    That, of course, is no surprise. There is nobody for whom the stakes of the counteroffensive are higher than for the Ukrainian military, burdened with the hopes and expectations of a nation and the free world, and with the lives of thousands of its own people on the line.

    Going forward, there are three key paradoxes looming over the Ukrainian counteroffensive that are hard to deny.

    First, Ukraine objectively needs success in a large-scale counteroffensive; it’s the only way to secure the country’s freedom short and long term. However, as its cautious approach has shown, Kyiv won’t throw the bulk of its reserves at Russian lines if it assesses the likelihood of success to be very low.

    Second, Ukraine’s chances going on the offensive, now and in the future, depend on the support of the West, both in quantity of ammunition, and in the delivery of new weapons systems that could change the game on the battlefield. Simultaneously, there is a lot of pressure from the West on Ukraine to produce success with what it already has, upon which the scale of future deliveries could depend.

    Finally, and most importantly: A successful Ukrainian breakthrough in the south could be decisive for the future of the war, for reasons much discussed already. Victory would dramatically increase pressure on Russia’s presence in occupied Crimea, while failure could herald a long-term military stalemate in which it is too difficult for either side to break through the other’s lines.

    But at the same time, whether Ukraine succeeds or not, the overall equation remains the same. Kyiv must soundly defeat the Russian military to liberate all its occupied territories and stop a fascist state from being able to conquer sovereign states, commit widespread war crimes, and get away with it. Kyiv’s partners, for whom their own future security is much dependent on a Ukrainian victory, need to give Ukraine what it needs to see this job to the end….

    More at the link. “Simultaneously, there is a lot of pressure from the West on Ukraine to produce success with what it already has, upon which the scale of future deliveries could depend.” I have no patience for this. They’ve shown their capabilities and potential over and over again: defending against the initial full-scale invasion, holding off the Russians for months after that, spectacularly liberating territory last fall (before which the same obtuse comments were being made by cable pundits and anonymous US officials that we’re hearing now), and defending against the Russian offensive this past winter (to the extent that it’s barely recognized as a success for Ukraine and just seen as a Russian failure). There should be no pressure on them to “prove” anything now. Just give them what they fucking need.

  173. says

    Retraction Watch – “BMJ journal retracts e-cigarette paper after authors disclose tobacco industry funding late in the process.”

    Editor in chief of BMJ Open Adrian Aldcroft:

    This case has highlighted for us the link, which is not immediately apparent, between the tobacco industry and products intended to help smokers, such as e-cigarettes. Our editors are now more careful assessing the COIs of any study relating to smokers and smoking. BMJ is also revising the tobacco policy and related processes across the portfolio in an effort to avoid similar cases in the future.

    Philip Morris has a nonprofit front organization called the “Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.”

  174. says

    Tech Won’t Save Us – “Why AI is a Threat to Artists w/ Molly Crabapple”:

    Paris Marx is joined by Molly Crabapple to discuss why AI image generation tools are a threat to illustrators and why we need to refuse the idea that Silicon Valley’s visions of technology are inevitable.

    Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer based in New York. She is the author of two books, Drawing Blood and Brothers of the Gun with Marwan Hisham….

  175. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Toot:

    […] Musk is putting the shitty new version of TweetDeck behind his $8 paywall and shutting down the good one.

    So not only is it a much worse experience, it will cost you $96 a year to use what was formerly free. And it will track you and show ads too. […]

     
    TheVerge – Twitter’s ‘new’ Tweetdeck lives behind a verified paywall

    This updated version of TweetDeck has been in preview for nearly two years.
    […]
    [The good] TweetDeck has been useless recently […] after Twitter began rate-limiting tweets […] employees claim that the issues are because of […] removing legacy APIs […] Rate limits only apply to new TweetDeck and Twitter

  176. StevoR says

    There have been concerns expressed by some, particularly in the media but also by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that the Ukrainian campaign is going slowly or that it is “behind schedule”. But all military operations consist of pulses and pauses and there is much we do not see in this war. Even if it is occurring at a different pace than anticipated, the Ukrainian 2023 offensive is probably still unrolling roughly like the Ukrainian high command anticipated. How might this be the case?

    Analysis news article here : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-04/war-russia-is-ukraine-military-strategy-on-track/102554712

  177. StevoR says

    Sun breaks out with record number of sunspots, sparking solar storm concerns
    By Tereza Pultarova

    The sun hasn’t produced this many sunspots in a single month since 2002. The sun produced over 160 sunspots in June, the highest monthly number in more than two decades.

    The data confirm that the current solar cycle, the 25th since records began, is picking up intensity at a much quicker pace than NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasted, sparking concerns of severe space weather events in the months and years to come. While the space agencies predicted a maximum monthly number of sunspots during the 25th solar cycle’s maximum to reach a modest 125, the star is now on a trajectory to peak at just under 200 monthly sunspots, and some scientists think this peak may arrive in just one year.

    Source : https://www.space.com/sun-highest-sunspot-number-since-2002

  178. StevoR says

    Queensland scientists who have been altering clouds with tiny particles to try and limit the effects of global warming are presenting their findings for the first time at a milestone conference in Brisbane this week. The International Conference on Nucleation and Atmospheric Aerosols (ICNAA) will be looking at climate change and interventions, including cloud brightening.

    Cloud brightening is where clouds are modified to become more reflective, and last longer.

    Daniel Harrison, from the Southern Cross University’s Reefs and Oceans Research Cluster, heads the team, which has been shooting sea water from canons for three years to brighten clouds in a bid to help tackle global warming.

    They shoot spray over the reef “to see if we can create additional cloud condensation nuclei using sea water … to try and cool the reef down and protect the coral from bleaching”.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-28/tiny-cloud-brightening-particle-research-climate-change-icnaa/102524408

    Of course, clouds can also trap heat too so..?

  179. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Twitter-killer’ app Threads to launch in days as Zuckerberg-Musk rivalry heats up

    Instagram will launch its rival to Twitter on Thursday, as Mark Zuckerberg seeks to capitalise on a weekend of chaos at the Elon Musk-run social network.

    A listing for the app, called Threads, appeared on Apple’s App Store on Tuesday, saying it was expected to be available on July 6.

    Meta, the parent company of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, has been working on the app for several months and has sought to sign up celebrity users who have left Twitter in protest at Mr Musk’s leadership…

    The missing component of a mass Twitter exodus is a viable replacement. I don’t know if something from Meta is it. Zuckerberg may be more professional than Musk, but he is not really more likeable. Then there’s the issue of having one company control so many aspects of your social media experience. Eggs, baskets.

    But what do I know? I don’t use any of those apps.

  180. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ex-New York congressman pardoned by Trump is planning to run again in Florida

    Former US Rep Chris Collins, who was pardoned by former president Donald Trump, is reportedly contemplating a run for Congress in Florida.

    The former representative, who pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to commit securities fraud, told WGRZ’s Scott Levin that he is planning to run for the seat currently held by Rep Byron Donalds should Mr Donalds vacate it to make a run for higher office…

  181. Reginald Selkirk says

    First Brexit, now Orxit? Politicians on Scotland’s Orkney Islands vote to explore more autonomy

    Officials on the Orkney Islands, a corner of Scotland with Viking roots and an independent spirit, seized a moment in the global spotlight on Tuesday and voted to explore ways of seeking more autonomy — or even independence — from neglectful U.K. governments.

    Journalists from across Britain and around the world tuned in remotely as Orkney Islands Council voted to study “alternative models of governance” for the archipelago, which has a population of 22,000.

    The proposal from council leader James Stockan grabbed international headlines with its mention of potentially restoring Orkney’s “Nordic connections.” Orkney was under Norwegian and Danish control for centuries until 1472 when the islands were taken by the Scottish crown as part of Margaret of Denmark’s wedding dowry to King James III of Scotland.

    Stockan said his proposal “is not about us joining Norway,” but about countering the “discrimination that we’ve had against this community” from the Scottish and U.K. governments…

  182. says

    Happy Fourth of July, with certain exceptions

    Republicans like to yell about freedom a lot, but their idea of freedom often centers on their own right to deny other people’s rights. They get to say what medical decisions women can make. What books other people’s kids can read. What Disney movies teachers can show their classes.

    Pregnant? Well, the Trump-packed Supreme Court gave state politicians the freedom to choose what medical care you can get—whether you are not ready or willing to be pregnant at that time, or being pregnant is a danger to your health.

    To Republicans, colleges and universities can’t make admissions decisions the way they want to, but website designers and bakers can refuse to do business with LGBTQ+ couples getting married. It’s freedom!

    In this worldview, the right of employers to refuse to offer health insurance that covers birth control comes before women’s right to get affordable birth control. The right of big corporations to pollute the air comes before the right of average people to breathe clean air. The right of workers to join together in unions is superseded by the right of their bosses to fire them for any made-up reason whatsoever.

    So this Fourth of July, let’s wish a happy Independence Day to everyone but people whose idea of freedom has room for business owners to refuse to do business with people whose relationships they disapprove of but not for educators to decide what books and movies are conducive to teaching their students. Let’s celebrate the idea that the right to a decent quality of life for everyone, not just the rich and powerful, comes before the right of billion-dollar corporations to profit by lowering that quality of life. Happy Fourth of July, everyone who believes that women get to make decisions about their own bodies. Happy Fourth if you don’t think your freedom requires excluding or harming other people because of who they are.

  183. says

    […] Frederick Douglass delivered his blistering speech “What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?” to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in New York on July 5. Here is my favorite passage:

    What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

    Douglass predicted a racial reckoning that perhaps extends beyond the Civil War, which Douglass would live through, and looms large today […]

    Every July 4, I watch the 2003 HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. In the past, I’ve shared the scene when Belize (Jeffrey Wright) confronts Louis (Ben Shenkman) about his self-serving white liberal patriotism.

    I hate America. I hate this country. It’s just big ideas, and stories, and people dying, and people like you. The white cracker who wrote the national anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word ‘free’ to a note so high nobody can reach it. That was deliberate. Nothing on earth sounds less like freedom to me. You come to room 1013 over at the hospital, I’ll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean. I live in America, that’s hard enough, I don’t have to love it. You do that. Everybody’s got to love something.

    “Terminal, crazy, and mean” accurately defines the America that right-wingers want to impose on us. However, we have always fought for a better reality, and, as Langston Hughes once said, we, too, are America.

    So, this year, I leave us with Prior Walter’s final monologue from my favorite play.

    The fountain’s not flowing now, they turn it off in the winter. Ice in the pipes. But in the summer…it’s a sight to see, and I want to be around to see it. I plan to be, I hope to be. This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all. And the dead will be commemorated, and will struggle on with the living and we are not going away. We won’t die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward, we will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now, you are fabulous each and every one and I bless you. More life, the great work begins.

    Let’s follow Prior’s lead and choose “more life,” no matter what they throw at us.

    https://www.wonkette.com/this-july-4-the-world-still-only-spins-forward

  184. says

    […] Dr. King specifically said, “Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic. A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”

    He later told Alex Haley that he believed “preferential treatment for the Negro” was fair:

    Can any fair-minded citizen deny that the Negro has been deprived? Few people reflect that for two centuries the Negro was enslaved, and robbed of any wages–potential accrued wealth which would have been the legacy of his descendants. All of America’s wealth today could not adequately compensate its Negroes for his centuries of exploitation and humiliation. It is an economic fact that a program such as I propose would certainly cost far less than any computation of two centuries of unpaid wages plus accumulated interest. In any case, I do not intend that this program of economic aid should apply only to the Negro; it should benefit the disadvantaged of all races.

    So leave Dr. King out of your “color-blind Constitution” fantasies.

    Republican Rep. Bryon Donalds, who’s Black, claimed the Supreme Court’s “ruling is a massive win against the left’s equity agenda that seeks to achieve ‘equality’ through equal outcomes, not equal access.” This is something Republicans say a lot and it’s consistently bullshit. Donalds added, “There was clearly a time when affirmative action was needed to end racial discrimination, but that time is over.”

    Before you hang that “Mission Accomplished” banner, sir, could you please explain when racial discrimination ended? […]

    Seriously, though, white people were complaining about affirmative action during the distant past of my 1980s childhood. You’ll recall that paean to racial sensitivity Soul Man from 1986, where C. Thomas Howell’s character — the white son of a wealthy doctor — pretends he’s Black so he can win one of those easy-peasy scholarships Harvard Law School has for Black people. He does feel bad later about screwing over a Black woman for the scholarship so he just screws her the regular way. This was a real movie that ran in theaters.

    The next year, in Secret of My Success, Michael J. Fox‘s character, Brantley Foster, is desperately looking for work in New York, and at one point, he pleads with a hiring manager, “I want this job, I need it, I can do it. Everywhere I’ve been today there’s always been something wrong, too young, too old, too short, too tall. Whatever the exception is, I can fix it. I can be older, I can be taller, I can be anything.”

    The hiring manager responds, “Can you be a minority woman?”

    Apparently, in 1987, major corporations had all these cushy junior executive roles set aside for Black women and their natural hair.

    Brantley later gets a job at his uncle’s company and inadvertently sleeps with his aunt. Don’t worry, they’re not related […]

    Brantley, who’s also posing as executive Carlton Whitfield, leverages this relationship and his boyish good looks to convince wealthy investors to back his eventual takeover of the company. See, he worked his way to the top through his merits and impressive aunt-fucking, not through affirmative action. That’s the American way.

    How 1980s Movies Might’ve Poisoned Americans On Affirmative Action

  185. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Reginald Selkirk #234:
    Meta’s deploying a Mastodon clone into the fediverse, where it will interact with existing servers.

    The incursion of a large fash-aiding monopolistic surveillance server has caused much commotion: over whether to pre-emptively block them, or wait for an infraction whilst allowing connections to convince its users to migrate off. Instances are autonomous and can each decide for themselves.
     
    Should the Fediverse welcome its new surveillance-capitalism overlords?

    * For some people, the fediverse is about building a decentralized social network […] where anybody can talk to anybody else even if they’re not on sites run by big tech companies. […] more people in the network and broader adoption of ActivityPub is the priority.
    […]
    * For others, the fediverse is an opportunity to build a space that’s free of […] the exploitation, human rights violations, and discrimination […] “openness for the sake of openness is meaningless.”
    […]
    even the people advocating a “trust but verify” seem to agree […] Meta are untrustworthy. […] a strategy of trusting the company you don’t trust until you actually catch them trying to screw you over is… risky.
    […]
    the fediverse already has other schisms (for example, many instances block the so-called “freeze peach” instances who are known sources for hate speech and harassment) and most people are just fine with that. So if a schism happens, it’ll probably turn out to be a good thing.

    And more generally, I think that Meta’s potential arrival may well catalyze a lot of positive changes in the fediverse. […] will almost certainly upend the power structures that have hindered progress.

  186. says

    Happy Independence Day! Don’t shoot your eye out!

    […] Eleven people were killed in fireworks accidents last year—eleven! Which seems like a remarkable number because how in the hell could that many people not understand the dangers of handheld devices that literally explode in big, fiery ways? On the other hand, this is the USA and we tend to excel as a people who fail to avoid completely avoidable death. Yay, us?

    Anyway, be safe out there and don’t shoot your eye out. Happy Fourth of July!

    Safety video is available at the link.

  187. says

    US climate data pinpoints Monday as hottest recorded day on Earth

    Monday was the hottest day recorded on Earth, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    On July 3, the average global air temperature 2 meters above the planet’s surface reached 62.62 degrees Fahrenheit or 17.01 degrees Celsius, according to the data analyzed by the University of Maine.

    Robert Rohde, of the University of California, Berkely said the extreme heat was the result of both climate change, as well as the El Niño weather pattern, which can cause parts of the northern U.S. and Canada to become warmer and dryer than usual.

    Meanwhile, the effect can make Gulf Coast and the Southeastern U.S. wetter, according to NOAA.

    He also warned that humanity should expect more scorching temperatures over the next month and a half.
    “NCEP has placed Earth’s average temperature yesterday as the hottest single day thus far measured by humans,” Rohde, lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, tweeted Tuesday. “This is driven by the combination of El Niño on top of global warming, and we may well see a few even warmer days over the next 6 weeks.”

    Monday’s temperatures beat the last record-setting heat the previous record set in July 2022 and August 2016 of 62.46 degrees Fahrenheit or 16.92 degrees Celsius.

  188. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Judge blocks U.S. officials from tech contacts in First Amendment case
    By Cat Zakrzewski / July 4, 2023

    A federal judge on Tuesday blocked key Biden administration agencies and officials from meeting and communicating with social media companies about “protected speech,” in an extraordinary preliminary injunction in an ongoing case that could have profound effects on the First Amendment.

    The injunction came in response to a lawsuit brought by Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri, who allege that government officials went too far in their efforts to encourage social media companies to address posts that they worried could contribute to vaccine hesitancy during the pandemic or upend elections.

    The Trump-appointed judge’s move could undo years of efforts to enhance coordination between the government and social media companies. For more than a decade, the federal government has attempted to work with social media companies to address a wide range of criminal activity, including child sexual abuse images and terrorism.

    Over the last five years, coordination and communication between government officials and the companies increased as the federal government responded to rising election interference and voter suppression efforts after revelations that Russian actors had sowed disinformation on U.S. social sites during the 2016 election. Public health officials also frequently communicated with the companies during the coronavirus pandemic, as falsehoods about the virus and vaccines spread on social networks including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

    “The injunction is strikingly broad and clearly intended to chill any kind of contact between government actors and social media platforms,” said Evelyn Douek, an assistant professor at Stanford Law School.
    […]

    In addition to limiting the government’s communications with tech companies, Doughty also prohibited the agencies and officials from “collaborating, coordinating, partnering, switchboarding, and/or jointly working with” key academic groups that focus on social media, including the Election Integrity Partnership, a coalition of researchers led by the Stanford Internet Observatory and the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public. House Republicans have also been demanding documents from these academics, amid accusations that they have colluded with government officials to suppress conservative speech.
    […]

    The Republican state attorneys general argue that the Biden administration ran afoul of the First Amendment by threatening legal action against the tech companies amid disputes over speech on the platforms….

    “The deep state planted a seed of suppression of government censorship, but that seed was fertilized, germinated and grew rapidly once President Biden took office,” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said in an interview with The Washington Post prior to the decision.

    This is the same Trump judge that in 2021 blocked President Biden’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers and lifted Biden’s ban on new federal leases for oil and gas drilling.

  189. says

    […] This week brings us the news that a new startup backed in part by SpaceX, the place that Elon Musk once pretended to run before he turned to shitposting as his full-time hobby, has just received the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin flight testing its (sigh) new flying car. It’s the first time a flying car has received its Special Airworthiness Certification, says the company.

    That’s right, the future is here. For an estimated retail price of $300,000, you’ll be about to purchase your very own flying car, which may be available as soon as 2025, but don’t bet on it, and by flying car we mean flying golf cart because in order to get this thing off the ground it’s going to have to do away with most of the safety features that make a car a car.

    Alef reports that their Model A will hold up to two passengers, and have a driving range of 200 miles and a flying range of 110 miles on one charge. But to avoid automobile crash-test laws and other regulations, it will have a 25mph limit, and drive more like a golf cart than a car.

    […] Here’s a video promoting what this new version of the future looks like, and right off the bat you know they’re overselling it because there are lush green forests in their future and we know that’s a pipe dream and a half. [video at the link]

    […] Like most sports cars, there are some tradeoffs. It will fit only a driver and one (1) passenger, and God help you if you expect to cart along anything but a pair of sandwiches because there ain’t no trunk.

    Unlike most sports cars, it can only go 25 miles per hour because with this thing being mostly a wire-frame approximation of what a car would be, if you hit anything on the ground while going faster than 25mph, as one Jalopnik commenter pointed out, the crumple zone “appears to be your face.”

    Right off the bat, then, we’re stuck in a vision of the future that sees these things sharing our roadways with our burgeoning population of SUVs with front hoods too high to even see these things and front wheels that seem likely to crush your $300,000 flying car like a paper cup. And if that’s fine with you, as a consumer, I suppose I have no right to complain but I’m going to do it anyway because after a hundred years of dreaming about flying cars nobody has ever, ever been able to explain why a future of individually piloted hovercars would in any way work out, much less not be a dystopian nightmare in which you’re constantly dodging the sharp edges of falling debris as a nation full of barely-licensed new car pilots make our current highways look positively sedate in comparison.

    The premise of the flying car has always been simple. You are on the road, being a car. But ha! Something happens, and you do not want to be on the road any more! Possibly, as in the video above, there is a horrific traffic accident just up ahead and people are either dying or are already dead; wouldn’t you like to be able to push a button to turn your car into a helicopter, making a neat vertical takeoff and floating just over the heads of the victims and emergency responders so you can get on with your day?

    […] What will a drone the size of a sports car sound like, taking off? Can you imagine the noise created, if you’re a pedestrian on the sidewalk and suddenly the driver of a “flying car” starts spinning up eight high-powered propellers, creating sufficient thrust to lift a small car off the ground while incidentally pelting everyone in the general vicinity with the road debris kicked up in the process? […]

    Even the most mundane of considerations would turn this version of the future into hell on earth. “Ah, traffic is bad today,” you will say as you plod along at 23mph instead of your strictly regulated 25mph. So you will press the button, and slowly rise above the traffic and—whoops, it turns out there was an overhead power line there and your left and right eyeballs are now detached by 20 feet or so as your battery-powered luxury vehicle hits the lines and explodes into a lithium hellfire with you in it.

    Who’s going to pay to bury all the power lines, in this version of the future? We’re going to bet the future still has politicians, and that means it sure as hell isn’t going to be people who can afford $300,000 golf carts footing that bill.

    Now, I’m grumpy. I’m feeling mean and spiteful, and it’s all because even in the best versions of the future we can imagine now, all we can imagine is lining up for crowded morning commutes in tiny flying hovercars that each have the survivability of a billionaire’s custom-built deep ocean sub, if any of them hit anything larger than a seagull.

    […] “We’re excited to receive this certification from the FAA. It allows us to move closer to bringing people an environmentally friendly and faster commute, saving individuals and companies hours each week. This is a one small step for planes, one giant step for cars,” said the company’s CEO in a press release, and now I’m even angrier about the future because every private household owning their own flying car in order to speed up their “commute” is never going to be “environmentally friendly,” not ever, and it imagines a future in which technology is so advanced that we get flying cars and yet commercial real estate developers and large-scale employers are still going to insist that everybody “commute” to their office buildings rather than working online and doing no commuting at all.

    When I was a kid, sure. I used to dream about having a flying car. But even when I was a grade schooler, I instinctively understood that nobody else should have a flying car, because I mean c’mon. Look at the quality of our adults these days, and tell me that you’d trust even half of them with a stepladder.

    Link

  190. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Lynna:
    *sigh* Gyrocopters already existed. They even look cooler.
    Wait no, I mean.
    These flying cars are revolutionary. Aircraft on the highway is totally feasible. The coolest billionaires should fly in them, often.

  191. birgerjohansson says

    Cartercopter, a NT kind of high-speed gyrocopter is a very cool design that sadly has been without investors since 1994
    .
    Maybe you will find this entertaining. Myself I have developed a mental allergy to Joseph Smith.
    “God Awful Movies 411: Witnesses ”
    https://youtu.be/KtWE_oKba30

  192. Reginald Selkirk says

    Hong Kong leader says democracy activists exiled in the West will be ‘pursued for life’

    Hong Kong’s leader said Tuesday that eight pro-democracy activists who now live in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia will be “pursued for life” for alleged national security offences, dismissing criticism that the move to have them arrested was a dangerous precedent.

    Chief Executive John Lee expressed his support for the police efforts to arrest the eight. At his weekly media briefing, Lee said anyone, including their friends and relatives, who offered information leading to their arrests would be eligible for the bounties offered by the police…

  193. says

    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain @251, yes. We are looking at another venture backed by Elon Musk … another venture that is not really new, not original, and not really well-executed. Same as it ever was.

    birgerjohansson @253, we should all be allergic to Joseph Smith. Maybe a lot of people are developing an allergy: “Membership growth in 2020 down by almost 50% as decline continues.”
    https://www.mrm.org/declining-growth

    Over the first weekend of April, LDS Church leaders announced their lowest baptismal convert rate number in many decades due to COVID-19 sidelining thousands of its missionaries. A total of 126,000 new members were baptized in 2020, down from 249,000 in 2019, which is close to a 50% drop.

    With many members leaving the church as well, this is the first time in modern history that the membership gains did not grow by six figures, as the church grew in 2020 by a total of only 98,627. This translates into an anemic 0.6% growth rate to a total of 16.6 million, down from a less-than-impressive 1.54% growth rate from the previous year. […]

  194. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    TechCrunch – CJEU ruling on Meta referral could close the chapter on surveillance capitalism

    the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) looks to have comprehensively crushed the social media giant’s ability to keep flouting EU privacy law […] users must be offered a choice to deny this kind of tracking without having to forgo access to the core service.

     
    TheIndependent – No Instagram Threads app in the EU: Irish DPC says

    the [privacy regulator] has not actively blocked the service. Instead, the tech giant has not yet prepared the service for a European launch outside the UK, which is not fully governed by GDPR or EU privacy rules.

     
    Toot:

    Well-intentioned people: let’s wait and see if Threads is, for example, a privacy nightmare

    Facebook: we’re not launching in Europe yet because right now it would be illegal

    Right so. […] who wants to tell Mark Zuckerberg the bit about GDPR covering EU citizens anywhere in the world, and not just when they’re at home?

  195. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #257…
    When my kids were young, I used the cover of the 4th of July to teach them how to light a highway flare. Granted, it was a generally safer time. Yet, for all of you with kids old enough learn to do that, I think it’s a good idea to teach them (and, possibly, yourself) how to do that.

  196. Reginald Selkirk says

    Prigozhin arrives in St Petersburg, takes back seized weapons

    Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), personally arrived in St Petersburg on 4 July, where the weapons seized during the searches were returned to him.

    Quote: “On 4 July, at 17:00, a 7-Series BMW and a Land Cruiser with security guards accompanying it drove up to the building of the Federal Security Service Department of St Petersburg and [Leningrad] Oblast on Liteyny Prospekt.

    According to Fontanka, the motorcade was parked near Shpalernaya Street, 25. The back door of the BMW opened, Yevgeny Prigozhin got out and, after walking just a few metres, opened the massive doors with the sign ‘Reception’ to the right of them.

    Details: According to the outlet, on Tuesday, Prigozhin was returned two Saiga rifles, an Austrian Steyr Mannlicher rifle, an AR semi-automatic rifle and several other rifles and pistols.

    Soon he got out, and the people accompanying him took out their rifles and put them in the car. The motorcade left.

    A few hours earlier, the leader of Wagner PMC was officially invited to take back his weapons found during the searches on 24 June and seized in his country residence in the elite cottage village of Northern Versailles…

  197. says

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

    Situation at Zaporizhzhia ‘tense’ as Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of planning attack on nuclear plant

    Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of planning to attack one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants, which is located in southeastern Ukraine and occupied by Russian troops, but neither side provided evidence to support their claims.

    Citing intelligence reports, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Russian troops had placed “objects resembling explosives on the roof of several power units” of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The objects could be used to “simulate” an attack, he said, meaning a false flag attack, AP reported.

    A statement from the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said the “foreign objects” were placed on the outer roof of the plant’s third and fourth power units.

    “Their detonation should not damage power units but may create a picture of shelling from Ukraine,” the statement said.

    In Russia, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov raised the spectre of [blah blah blah bunch of lies]….

  198. says

    From the Guardian story about #259:

    …On Wednesday morning, a tweet of an image similar to the original GOP tweet, by the police department in Austin, Texas, remained live. [tweet at the link]

    Under the Austin tweet, referring to restrictive policies in Republican states regarding the teaching of issues including race in US history, one critic wrote: “That’s the Liberian national flag, not the American flag. This is what happens when you ban books.”…

  199. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump mocked for bizarre July 4 AI image: ‘He’d sell us out faster than Benedict Arnold’

    Former president Donald Trump has been mocked after he posted an AI-generated image of himself in place of George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

    The twice-indicted and twice-impeached former president posted the image on Truth Social Tuesday evening as the United States celebrated its 247th anniversary of declaring independence from Great Britain.

    The image features Mr Trump in colonial army regalia supposedly in the place of Washington, who led the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War before he became the first president of the United States…

  200. Reginald Selkirk says

    Massive seaweed blob that smells like rotten eggs suddenly srhinks

    Florida’s monthslong hit from a giant blob of seaweed that smells like rotten eggs may be over sooner than what was previously thought. Researchers have found that the massive clumps of sargassum that have been washing up on beaches in the state and other areas for months has suddenly shrunk “beyond expectation.” …

    But researchers from the University of South Florida said on June 30 that the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt – which is so large it extends from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico – has decreased since May, “with a total weight of about 9 million metric tons.”

    But it’s the decreasing amount of sargassum in the Gulf that has stunned researchers the most…

  201. Reginald Selkirk says

    Neutral Switzerland wants to take part in Sky Shield defence project

    Switzerland wants to participate in the European Sky Shield air defence umbrella, the government said on Tuesday, a move which critics say is incompatible with the country’s long-standing tradition of neutrality.

    European Sky Shield is a common air defence scheme set up by Germany in 2022 to boost European air defence, an issue which has come into sharper focus since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Swiss Defence Minister Viola Amherd is due to sign a declaration of intent to join the programme during a meeting with her counterparts from Austria and Germany on Friday.

    “Switzerland wishes to participate in the European Sky Shield Initiative and a declaration of intent is due to be signed in Bern,” the Defence Ministry told Reuters, confirming an earlier report by broadcaster SRF.

    Some 17 European countries have so far signed up to the Sky Shield project including Germany, Britain, Finland and Sweden.

    It aims to cut costs for countries by coordinating their procurement of air and missile defence systems such as the Patriot missile system. It also aims to enable cooperation in training, maintenance and logistics…

  202. says

    Some related links:

    Guardian – “‘We’re contemporary, we’re traditional, we’re unique’: the African photographers rewriting the rules”:

    From female bikers decked out in pink to dreamy desert tableaux, a new exhibition replaces two centuries of western influence with Africans’ own liberated visions…

    This show at the Tate, which opens tomorrow, looks fantastic.

    Granta – “Ocoee” by Kwame McPherson (winner of the Commonwealth [whatev] Short Story Prize).

    The winning story ‘Ocoee’ interweaves Caribbean folklore and stories from African American history. It centres on an exhausted driver who is pulled over by the police on a lonely road outside Ocoee. As he hears about the terrible history of the town, he also rediscovers a connection with his own past.

    Rolling Stone – “Netflix Exposes the Secret Gay History of Nazi Germany”:

    Netflix doc Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate examines the swinging LGBTQ haven in Berlin that was ultimately destroyed by the Nazis…

    Guardian – “‘Our government sees it as cute but unimportant’: the musicians keeping France’s Occitan language alive”:

    Post-revolutionary France tried to stamp it out, but working class communities kept speaking it. Now Occitan powers a vivacious and political music European music scene…

    One of the groups featured, Cocanha, is great.

  203. says

    whheydt @258, that sounds like a good use of the July 4th holiday.

    In my neighborhood, folks have been lighting off very loud fireworks for days. It sounds like cannons going off and bombs falling. They do this until approximately midnight. July 4th is now past, but I expect the same kind of noise assault tonight. I have been trying to survive by taking a nap in the afternoon, but I don’t always have time for that. I am … let’s be polite and say “disgruntled.”

    Fireworks that leave the ground are illegal in this neighborhood. The laws are not enforced at all. Big explosions are, seemingly, traditional. Screaming rockets fly far into the air. So far, they haven’t set my house on fire.

  204. Reginald Selkirk says

    Hostages Reported After Explosion at Kyiv Courthouse

    An explosion tore through a Kyiv courthouse on Wednesday, local police have confirmed.

    The National Police confirmed the blast at the Shevchenkivskyi District Court in a brief statement on Telegram, reporting that authorities have responded to the scene with help from bomb disposal experts. Several ambulances were also spotted responding to the scene, but there was no immediate word on any injuries.

    Local media reported that a defendant charged in connection with a deadly grenade attack outside the country’s parliament in 2015 detonated several grenades at the courthouse and took hostages. Police have yet to confirm that information.

    Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko released a statement saying a defendant at the courthouse for a hearing detonated an “unidentified explosive device.” The local military administration said the explosion was believed to have happened in a bathroom at the courthouse.

  205. says

    Trump-appointed judge injects some QAnon into the federal judiciary

    The MAGA/QAnon crowd celebrated Independence Day with one of their own, a federal district court judge in Louisiana who issued a broad injunction against President Joe Biden and a bunch of his administration officials from working with social media companies to combat disinformation. Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, ruled that the administration likely violated the First Amendment by censoring online free speech about the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 election, and Hunter Biden’s laptop.

    Doughty spared no hyperbole in his opinion: “If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history. In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech.” That’s a hell of a lot of work “if” is doing there.

    “Although this case is still relatively young, and at this stage the Court is only examining it in terms of Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits, the evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario,” Doughty writes. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’” Many, perhaps even most, would consider the pandemic a time of mass death.

    The defendants are everyone from President Joe Biden on down, including whole executive branch agencies—the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, Commerce, State, and Treasury—as well as their directors. The list includes the entire FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, Census Bureau, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and dozens of individuals in all of these departments and agencies. Oh, and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, because she clearly is a part of the “deep state” decision-making process. They are barred from flagging dangerous or problematic posts on Facebook (Meta), Instagram, Twitter, YouTube/Google, and many more social media sites.

    To get a sense of how out there this judge is, the notoriously extreme Fifth Circuit has already rebuked him several times over his efforts to force Biden officials to testify, including former Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly, and White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty.

    In the case of Psaki, the appeals court judges wrote: “As Press Secretary, Psaki’s role was to inform the media of the administration’s priorities, not to develop or execute policy. Unsurprisingly, then, the record does not demonstrate that Psaki has unique first-hand knowledge that would justify the extraordinary measure of deposing a high-ranking executive official.”

    Doughty also blocks agencies and officials from “collaborating, coordinating, partnering, switchboarding, and/or jointly working with” groups including the Election Integrity Partnership, researchers led by the Stanford Internet Observatory, and the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public to identify problematic social media posts. These organizations are working on internet safety, elections protection, and public health. The Stanford group, for example, is studying how to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children online, and now the FBI and Department of Justice are being blocked by this judge from working with that group.

    […] The case was brought by Republican attorneys general in Missouri and Louisiana, fed by all of the big lies that have been concocted by the far right in the past decade. To get a sense of what’s behind this challenge and this decision, here’s Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey in an interview conducted with The Washington Post before the injunction was issued: “The deep state planted a seed of suppression of government censorship, but that seed was fertilized, germinated and grew rapidly once President Biden took office … There are deep concerns here that the government’s unrepentant attitude demonstrates a willingness to continue to violate the First Amendment.”

    A White House official told the Post the Justice Department “is reviewing the court’s injunction and will evaluate its options in this case.”

    “This Administration has promoted responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on our elections,” the official said. “Our consistent view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take account of the effects their platforms are having on the American people, but make independent choices about the information they present.”

    A “holy shit” situation. Rightwing judges are backing the dissemination of misinformation via social media platforms. “Dystopian” for sure.

  206. says

    Followup to comment 272.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    All you need to know is that this judge considers lies and misinformation to be “conservative ideas”
    ———————–
    that’s what happens when americans give 1400 coordinated radio stations a free speech free ride to create alternate realities with unchallenged repetition
    ———————–
    We are barreling into the 2024 presidential election with the guardrails down for disinformation and misinformation. Putin and Trump have mutual interests in pulling out all stops for a Trump victory in 2024
    —————————-
    So the judge wants to save the 1st Amendment by eliminating the 1st Amendment rights of everyone who works for the government.

    Why does this judge still have a law license?
    ——————————
    If the repuli-cons can’t lie and spread disinformation, they got nothing. This is existential for them. They can’t create alternate realites where Christians are the real persecuted class in America, where global warming is a hoax, where there is no racism except against white people, where trans and drag queens groom and rape children, where war is peace, etc etc. How else will they be able to gaslight and scare the bejeebus out of people to convince the to vote for lunatics?
    ———————————
    especially in the context of Covid misinformation spread like wildfire amongst the Q types. Not to mention pizzagate. [and the “Deep State.”]
    ————————
    Short summary: the government can exist, but can’t communicate with the public.

  207. says

    Josh Hawley puts white nationalist words in the mouth of a Founding Father. FFS.

    Sen. Josh Hawley went looking for some patriotic and unmistakably right-wing sentiment to tweet out on the Fourth of July, and came up with a stirring quote from Patrick Henry, of “give me liberty or give me death” fame, about the centrality of Christianity in the founding of the United States. Or anyway, Hawley attributed the quote to Henry. That was false.

    In reality, the words came from a 1956 article about Henry in “The Virginian,” a white nationalist publication. Hawley is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School who clerked on the Supreme Court and in general has a reputation as one of the Republican Party’s most brilliant minds. One way or another, he’s telling on himself with this.

    “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Hawley claimed Henry had said. “For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [Tweets and context from historian Seth Collar]

    Patrick Henry was himself a slaveholder, so it’s a name with a giant asterisk if you want to celebrate freedom. But taking words from this specific source and attributing them to Henry is a whole other issue. It’s one that hints at where Hawley might be getting his news and memes: the places where white nationalist misinformation about Founding Fathers is circulating.

    Hawley’s claim about Christianity as an originating force in the United States is also worth looking at. Even if the quote had been real, Hawley was making a specific and very political choice in the wake of the Supreme Court decision giving Christian business owners license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people to claim that freedom in this country springs from Christianity.

    Steve Benen notes that Hawley isn’t just misrepresenting Patrick Henry here:

    The Constitution is a secular document that created a secular government. Thomas Jefferson — in an actual quote — wrote in 1802 that our First Amendment built “a wall of separation between church and state.” In 1797, John Adams agreed: “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”

    But Hawley, the man who gave a raised fist of solidarity to the Jan. 6 mob and then went on to try to fashion himself as a guru of masculinity, isn’t interested in any such inconvenient realities. He’s a case in point of how extremism and white nationalism in today’s Republican Party aren’t confined to the likes of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar. And his version of American history has to be rejected for the false vision it is on every level.

  208. says

    Followup to comment 274.

    Posted by Adam Cohen, Lawyers for Good Government:

    What’s it like to know that every time you open your mouth the people who conferred degrees on you at Stanford and Yale must be cringing at the vacuousness that spews from your lips. [accompanied by a page from the website “Fake History,” which plainly identifies the Patrick Henry “quote” that Hawley posted as false.]

    Posted by Andrew L. Seidel:

    15 hours and this fake quote is still up. Christian Nationalists’ identity depends on deliberately spreading disinformation about American history, especially the founders and the founding.

  209. Reginald Selkirk says

    Moms for Liberty Speaker Says It’s Time to Start Re-Reading Hitler, Stalin, & Mao

    While speaking to the crowd gathered for Moms for Liberty’s “Blessings of the Liberty Breakfast” event on Sunday, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) said it’s time to “start reading” some of the quotes from homicidal dictators like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin rather than automatically criticize Moms for Liberty having quoted Hitler in their June newsletter. I cannot stress enough how this Nazi referencing took place on a Sunday morning at what was essentially a prayer breakfast with a Rabbi present.

    “Here’s the thing,” Robinson said. “Whether you’re talking about Adolf Hitler, whether you’re talking about Chairman Mao, whether you’re talking about Stalin, whether you’re talking about Pol Pot, whether you’re talking about Castro in Cuba, or whether you’re talking about a dozen other despots all around the globe, it is time for us to get back and start reading some of those quotes.” …

  210. says

    Meduza:

    “More than 24 hours later, still no criminal case”:

    On the morning of July 4, journalist Elena Milashina and lawyer Alexander Nemov were attacked by masked men in Chechnya, where they had flown to attend the sentencing of Zarema Musaeva, the mother of human rights activist Abubakar Yangulbayev and the alleged co-founder of the Chechen opposition movement Adat, Ibrahim Yangulbayev. More than 24 hours later, the Russian Investigative Committee has still not announced any criminal proceedings in connection with the attack, despite numerous Russian officials demanding an investigation. Milashina and Nemov were transported from Chechnya to Beslan before being flown in a private jet to Moscow’s Botkinskaya Hospital. The flight was paid for by “private entities.”…

    More at the link.

    “Yandex general director hit with misdemeanor charge for ‘LGBT propaganda’”:

    The Russian authorities have opened a misdemeanor case against Yandex General Director Artyom Savinovsky for allegedly distributing “LGBT propaganda” among minors, the independent outlet Mediazona reported on Wednesday, citing the Moscow City Court database.

    The precise reason for the charges is unclear….

  211. says

    Trump Envied Putin’s Private Army. Would He Want His Own?

    Donald Trump’s affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin has been well documented. He hailed the man as “strong,” “tough,” and “very smart.” Less well known is the ex-president’s envy of private armies, like Putin’s wayward Wagner Group.
    The former president once sought his own mercenaries and might do so again if he wins back the White House. Conversations with dozens of my former colleagues from the Trump administration – for the forthcoming book “Blowback” – magnified my alarm over this possibility.

    White House aides told me the president was musing about privatizing the war and with his own team of mercenaries – like Putin had done or, more close to home, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who trained troops-for-hire.

    In the wake of events in Russia, the dangers are evident. Unaccountable private forces would create grave consequences for the rule of law, public trust, and democratic stability. Yet President Trump was desperate for greater control of lethal forces away from a chain of command that constantly told him “no” – such as when he repeatedly pressed us about invoking the Insurrection Act to have the military stop the “invasion” at the southern border.

    This is explicitly advertising for an upcoming book, so relevant caveats apply.

  212. says

    Kyiv Independent – more re #277 – “Media: Russian investigative journalist severely beaten in Chechnya, in ‘difficult’ condition”:

    The Russian investigative journalist Elena Milashina’s editor told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on July 5 that she was transferred to a Moscow hospital after being severely beaten in Chechnya and is in a “difficult” condition.

    Milashina, who works for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was with lawyer Alexander Nemov in Chechnya on July 4 when they were attacked by masked assailants not far from the Grozny Airport.

    Milashina previously reported on the kidnapping, torture, and killing of gay men in Chechnya and has been publicly critical of the Chechen leadership, including strongman Ramzan Kadyrov.

    In a video statement to the Russian human rights NGO Crew Against Torture, Milashina recounted how shortly after arriving in Grozny, her and Nemov’s taxi was stopped by three vehicles….

    More at the link.

  213. Reginald Selkirk says

    Attorney who challenged Trump’s 2020 loss gives up law license as states weigh disciplining him

    Attorney Lin Wood, who filed legal challenges seeking to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss, is relinquishing his law license, electing to retire from practicing rather than face possible disbarment. Multiple states have weighed disciplining him for pushing Trump’s false claims that he defeated Joe Biden.

    On Tuesday, Wood asked officials in his home state of Georgia to “retire” his law license in light of “disciplinary proceedings pending against me.” In the request, made in a letter and posted on his Telegram account, Wood acknowledges that he is “prohibited from practicing law in this State and in any other state or jurisdiction and that I may not reapply for admission.” …

  214. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ohio abortion rights supporters file more than 700K signatures to make the November ballot

    Proponents of abortion access filed more than 700,000 signatures Wednesday to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

    Backers of the measure filed 710,131 signatures − more than the required 413,487 to account for possible errors and mistakes. It will be several weeks before Ohioans know if this measure has officially made the fall ballot.

    The proposed amendment to the state constitution would ensure “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s reproductive decisions,” including abortion, contraception and miscarriage care.

    If the proposal makes the ballot, Ohio would be the only state voting on abortion this year. That will mean an expensive ballot battle as proponents expect to spend $35 million on their campaign and opponents gear up for an 88-county fight…

  215. Reginald Selkirk says

    Risk of major disruption as UPS strike looms in US

    Talks between delivery giant UPS and its workers in the US have broken down, raising the possibility of the first strike at the company in more than 25 years.

    The two sides have been negotiating for months over demands such as higher pay and better work conditions…

  216. Reginald Selkirk says

    Drones easily spotted Russian arms dump near a city where piles of ammo were lying in the open. Ukraine bombed it, causing massive explosions, video shows.

    Ukraine appeared to strike a Russian ammunition storage depot close to the occupied city of Makiivka, setting off massive explosions, videos show.

    A drone video that circulated on social media appears to show strikes hitting the site, which sets off multiple explosions and burning projectiles randomly firing off onto the surrounding city.

    The same video first shows the same site earlier in the day, appearing to show boxes of rockets or missiles lyinin the openhe courtyard.

    Many of the boxes were consistent with packing for the Soviet-era 122mm Grad rocket, a widely-used Russian army weapon, the Kyiv Post reported…

  217. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna… @ # 272: Rightwing judges are backing the dissemination of misinformation …

    Not to mention some allegedly/formerly progressive media venues. ConsortiumNews.com, f’rinstance, previously famous for exposing much of the Iran/Contra scandal drug-running, now has an article on this by its editor, Joe Lauria, telling us –

    In what is presented as a news story, the Times paints the issue in partisan terms, reporting incorrectly that Republicans alone are concerned about government-social media collusion and what it means for free speech. … The Times takes a glaringly clear Democratic Party line… there is little doubt that the Twitter Files have conclusively proven that U.S. government actors got private actors to censor people’s free speech …

    Seriously disappointing Republicanness from once-respectable sources (including, besides Lauria, Chris Hedges, John Pilger, Gareth Porter, John Kiriakou, and more-borderline names such as Diana Johnstone and Jill Stein). Apparently Max Blumenthal, Matt Taibbi, and Glenn Greenwald have too many prior commitments to join in, so far.

  218. says

    BBC – “Taliban order Afghanistan’s hair and beauty salons to shut”:

    The Taliban have ordered hair and beauty salons in Afghanistan to shut in the latest restriction faced by women.

    A Vice and Virtue Ministry [for the love of fuck] spokesman told the BBC businesses had one month to comply, starting from 2 July when they were first informed of the move.

    Women’s freedoms have steadily shrunk since the Taliban seized power in 2021.

    They have barred teenage girls and women from classrooms, gyms and parks, and most recently even banned them from working for the United Nations.

    The Taliban have also decreed that women should be dressed in a way that only reveals their eyes, and must be accompanied by a male relative if they are travelling more than 72km (48 miles).

    The restrictions have continued despite international condemnation and protests by women as well as activists speaking up on their behalf.

    Shutting beauty salons was part of a wide range of measure imposed by the Taliban when they were last in power between 1996 and 2001. But they reopened in the years after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

    Reacting to the new closure, an Afghan woman speaking anonymously told the BBC: “The Taliban are taking away the most basic human rights from Afghan women.

    “They are violating women’s rights. By this decision, they are now depriving women from serving another women. When I heard the news, I was completely shocked.

    “It seems the Taliban do not have any political plan other than focusing on women’s bodies. They are trying to eliminate women at every level of public life.”

  219. says

    Pierce @284, good points. Thanks for the additional information.

    In other news: Ukraine Update: The 3:1 rule of attack, and why it doesn’t apply to the counteroffensive

    On Monday, there were reports that Ukrainian forces had moved out of the recently liberated town of Rivnopil in the Zaporizhzhia area and were heading toward the village of Pryyutne, 7 kilometers to the south. On Tuesday, there were reports that there was fighting near that town. On Wednesday, there are unconfirmed reports that Pryyutne has been liberated. That might not be the same kind of lightning race across the landscape that was seen during the Kharkiv counteroffensive last year, but it’s pretty darn good by anyone’s measure. [agreed]

    Also on Monday, Ukrainian forces were at the edge of high ground to the west of the town of Klishchiivka, just south of Bakhmut. On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces took much of that high ground. On Wednesday, there are reports that Russian forces have abandoned positions in Klishchiivka and are retreating to “more defensible positions.”

    But the most amazing and encouraging thing about both these accomplishments is that Ukraine seems to be gaining ground while inflicting losses on Russia that are far greater than what Ukraine is suffering. In part, that’s because Russia is conducting their defense in a way that’s not just counterintuitive, but very costly. But it’s also because people keep making a claim about the cost of attack that’s just plain wrong.

    Based on the numbers from Oryx, since the counteroffensive got rolling on the first of June, Ukraine has confirmed losses of 302 vehicles and pieces of heavy equipment, including 49 tanks, six towed artillery, 10 self-propelled artillery, and one MLRS. Of those tanks, eight were the German-made Leopard 2. At least two of those Leopards have been recovered and sent for repairs. Still, the rate of tank loss was 50% higher than average for Ukraine in the last month than it has been over the period of the whole invasion, and it shows just how tanks have been taking the lead in pushing through the heavily mined fields in southern Ukraine.

    Over that same period, here’s how Russian losses have been structured: Russia has confirmed losses of 446 vehicles and pieces of heavy equipment overall. That includes 79 tanks, 23 towed artillery, 29 self-propelled artillery, and 22 MLRS.

    Those numbers are, of course, well below the estimates of the Ukrainian military, which would set Russia’s losses over this period at 258 tanks, 814 artillery pieces, and 81 MLRS. Even though these numbers seem high compared to what Oryx has been able to confirm through photos, it’s always worth remembering that the Ukrainian military has access to information, including photos and video of incidents that are not floating around the internet. Their numbers are almost certainly high, but they could easily be more accurate than those of Oryx. That’s especially the case with artillery systems, where destruction rates have been very high over the last week. Oryx generally runs several days behind in recording losses, and Ukraine has claimed over 30 artillery.

    But no matter where you feel the truth lies, one thing is clear: Russia is losing more equipment and more men defending against Ukraine’s counteroffensive than Ukraine is losing in conducting that counteroffensive.

    The big surprise to many may be that this is exactly how it’s supposed to work. All over the internet—especially in statements from Russian-supporting politicians and Twitter tankies—there are claims that anyone conducting an offensive can expect to lose three times as many men as the defending side. That’s usually accompanied by some claim that Ukraine has lost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people since the counteroffensive began. Oh, the humanity. Toss in a little performative hand-wringing. Finish up with a declaration that the only solution is for Ukraine to sign an agreement right now that cedes Russia a huge chunk of their nation.

    However, this idea that the attacker is going to lose more than the defender is a basic misunderstanding of what’s usually called the “3:1 rule of combat.” That rule actually says that although there are situations where the necessary ratio may be smaller or larger, in general an attacking force needs to bring about three times as many resources to bear on a front-line location than defenders can use in holding that point. There is an assumption that:
    – In any combat, there is a point where losses reach a level where unit cohesion collapses.
    – Being on the defense provides a tactical advantage.
    – Because of this, an attacking force needs to bring additional resources to the fight. Otherwise it is more likely to fall below the level of unit cohesion, ending the possibility of advance.

    How much more? It could be 1.5:1. It could be 10:1. It depends on how well prepared the defensive positions are, and how well defenders are deployed to use their tactical advantage. The 3:1 number has become a general rule of thumb widely spread in both military textbooks and general media that is based on experience across a wide variety of conditions. There are actually studies that indicate an appropriate ratio for attacking troops striking well-established defensive positions (think hitting the beaches at Normandy) should be closer to 6:1.

    This isn’t just an American rule. The Russians have also been big believers in the 3:1 rule, though they’ve also tended to add that the ratio of artillery should be a whopping 8:1 or 9:1, because their system of attack is based on simply pulverizing enemy positions.

    However, there are things about the 3:1 rule that are rarely mentioned when it makes it into the media–things that have a lot to say about what’s happening right now in UKraine.
    – This is a local rule. The generally accepted idea is that it involves the number of forces that can be concentrated over an area of the front line from 20-50 km wide. Having 100,000 men sitting around elsewhere doesn’t help. It’s what’s on the ground, at the position of attack, that counts.
    – The 3:1 ratio only applies to what’s known as a “breakthrough battle”–that is, a battle in which an attacker goes head on against a defender in an “extended and well-developed front.” It doesn’t apply to fights between isolated groups, or to attacks made against defenders holding recently captured territory. That’s why so many times, there are see-saw battles where small changes result in the same ground trading hands multiple times.
    – The rule does not apply to “envelopments” where the attacker is able to assault a position from multiple directions, cut off the defender’s lines of communication, or strike defending forces from the flank or rear.

    And here’s the big one, the one that really fits what’s happening right now in Ukraine: The 3:1 rule of combat does not apply to what are called “meeting engagements.” These are defined as fights where the defender leaves prepared positions and meets the attacker in the open. To quote from a 1989 study assessing the importance of the 3:1 rule:

    The 3:1 rule is not relevant in assessing [this type] of combat, because the defender is not fighting from prepared positions and surrenders his defensive advantage.

    Which is exactly what has been happening all along the Zaporizhzhia front line as Russia has repeatedly attempted to hold territory in advance of its defensive positions.

    The reason that “sit here and shoot everyone coming up the hill” is intrinsically easier than “take that ridge” is largely dependent on “here” being a spot with a trench, or sandbags, or pillboxes that make shooting more likely than being shot. Russia has given away that edge. Instead of sitting in the defensive positions a dozen kilometers south of places like Staromaiorske or Zherebyanky, Russia keeps rushing more forces to those locations and trying to retake ground that Ukraine has recently liberated.

    Here’s another quote from that 1989 study.

    During the breakthrough battle, the defender must fight largely from prepared positions, and not rely heavily on counterattacks as his means of defense. Otherwise he surrenders his defensive advantage. [Guess what the Russians are doing … they are surrendering their defensive advantage, a point I am repeating to make sure it is highlighted.]

    In this situation, the idea that the defending Russians are losing more than the attacking Ukrainians should not be a surprise. Not only does the 3:1 rule not predict the rate of casualties, it also explicitly does not apply to this situation.

    Russia reportedly has 120,000 men on the front lines between villages just north of Kupyansk and the woods bordering Kreminna. However, it only has 50,000 men remaining in the area around Bakhmut, where the fighting on the eastern front is taking place. In that area, Ukraine is able to provide a ratio of attacking force able to generate a level of losses necessary to destroy Russia’s unit cohesion.

    That’s why Ukraine is about to take Klishchiivka. It’s why they are successfully moving toward Yahidne. It’s why they are coming close to pushing Russian forces from the heights near Dubovo-Vasylivka.

    It’s unclear how many men Russia has on the southern front. It’s undoubtedly a lot, because Russia values this area above all the other territory it has taken in Ukraine and knows that Ukraine also desperately wants to liberate cities like Melitopol and Mariupol. Frankly, Russia would tut-tut sadly over the loss of the “Luhansk People’s Republic” and “Donetsk People’s Republic,” but so long as they had that land bridge to Crimea, Putin would be smiling.

    That’s why Zaporizhzhia Oblast is so heavily overrun with trenches, pillboxes, dragon’s teeth, mine fields, and whatever else could be erected that might slow a tank or trip up infantry.

    However, at the moment Russia seems to be counting on two things to slow the Ukrainian advance: minefields and artillery. So long as advancing Ukrainian vehicles are constrained by the need to move slowly, on defined lanes, through fields heavy with anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, and artillery is available to hit vehicles picking their way through those lanes, Russia seems to feel that they don’t need no stinkin’ trench.

    But despite Russia’s best efforts, not every approach to the south is mined and not every location is subject to crossing fire from multiple artillery positions. Ukraine has been inching forward for weeks at heavily defended Robotyne. It advanced on Pryyutne in a couple of days.

    No one on Ukraine’s side in the conflict is happy about the speed with which the counteroffensive has been able to regain territory, or about those Leopard tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles sitting in fields north of Robotyne. But what’s happening in this counteroffensive has other measures than just kilometers gained.

    Look again at that first bullet point describing the concepts behind the 3:1 rule: “In any combat, there is a point where losses reach a level where unit cohesion collapses.”

    When that happens to an attacking force it’s called culmination, and it represents an ideal time for a counterattack. When it happens to a defending force, it’s just called collapse. It’s also known as losing.

    By fighting outside of its defensive positions, attempting to hold ground where it surrenders most of its defending advantage, Russia is risking suffering a level of attrition that brings it to that point of collapse. In some areas, it may be bordering on that point already. When that happens, all the dragon’s teeth in the world won’t save it. [map at the link]
    —————————
    In the area around Bakmut, Ukrainian forces have reportedly withdrawn from the southern end of Berkhivka, finding it too costly to occupy so long as Russia still clings to the high ground near Dubovo-Vasylivka. That Russian position is close to being cut off and there are reports that some forces have been withdrawn, but it still represents a dangerous position, and one that Russia would very much like to hold. If Ukraine can surround the Russian artillery there, or force them to retreat, Berkhivka will come in a walkover.

    Instead of Berkhivka, Ukrainian forces have turned east to press into Yahidne where they are having apparent success advancing into the edges of the town. There are also reports of more Ukrainian forces moving east from Orikhovo-Vasylivka, possibly to join forces northwest of Bakhmut, but right now those reports are lacking detail. [map at the link]

    The counteroffensive northeast of Vasylivka appears to be just about where it was last week. FIRMS data shows likely artillery fire at positions just across the bay south of Kamyansk, and south of the highway about halfway between Pyatykhatky and Zherebyanky. Both of these likely represent Russian artillery firing at Ukrainian positions.

    However, for the third day in a row there is also a large collection of hotspots down near Hladke, though today activity appears east of the town rather than west. This may well represent Ukrainian fire on Russian positions near that settlement. If so, Ukraine is really pounding this area. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Images from the area show that Russia is still fighting, and still taking losses, in Zherebyanky. Russian sources claim Ukraine lost three tanks in the original assault on Zherebyanky back on June 27. They also report an assault “supported by armored vehicles” was stopped by fire from helicopters on July 4.

    The best bet is simply that fighting in this area is ongoing. Again, this is well in advance of Russia’s defensive lines in the area, which are closer to Vasylivka. [map at the link]

    Ukrainian forces continue to advance toward Robotyne and are reportedly just outside the town. Fighting in the area continues to be hard, but it has also been very hard on that Russian attrition rate. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Based on the units involved, this T-90M was likely lost at Robotyne. [tweet and video at the link]

    And it looks like Ukrainian forces have advanced sufficiently to pose with this liberated T-72. [Tweet and good photo at the link]

    Keen-eyed observers will note the new blue area around Luhviske. This is a genuine Ukrainian advance. It was not previously on the map because I somehow managed to miss that Russia had taken control of this village some months ago. Fighting in that area is now at Novokarlivka. Russia has reportedly rushed several units to defend this location, which is seen as an important highway intersection along the road to Polohy. Though again, this is well in advance of their prepared defensive positions.

    There are also some indications that Ukraine has moved south at two other points between Robotyne and Luhviske. No details as of yet, but that blue salient above Robotyne should likely extend at least as far as the next highway to the east. [map at the link]

    The push south toward Pryyutne reportedly concluded within the last few hours with the liberation of that location, but this remains unconfirmed. However, the capture of Rivnopil last week, and movement west from Makarivka, placed an area of high ground southeast of Rivnopil in Ukrainian control.

    This area looks down on the towns of Staromaiorske and Urozhaine that Russia has now been fighting to hold for almost three weeks. An attack on this area was reportedly underway at (checks watch) now o’clock.

    Russia has pushed a lot of material and troops into these towns in an effort to hold the line. Should Ukraine complete the liberation of these two towns, the next fight in this area will likely be at the actual defensive line near Staromlynivka—though I wouldn’t bet against Russia pushing forward more men and machines in an effort to hold the fields in between.

    Elsewhere there are reports that Ukraine has made an advance in the area of Vuhledar. No details. There are also reports that Russia has failed, again, to eliminate the Ukrainian bridgehead east of Kherson. An attempt at hitting Ukrainian forces with Russian “precision” weapons appears to have resulted in splashes located precisely in the middle of the river, hundreds of feet beyond Ukrainian positions. [Good news involving Russian incompetence.]

    CONTINUED CONCERNS ABOUT ZAPORIZHZHIA

    Make no mistake, any effort by Russia to deliberately damage the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia would be an extraordinary mistake. While even this would be unlikely to put American boots on the ground in Ukraine, it might be enough to put American pilots in the skies over the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

    Other nations have already made it clear they would treat any deliberate nuclear catastrophe in the same way they would treat deployment of a strategic nuclear weapon.

    Russia is losing in Ukraine. They’re losing in the counteroffensive. Whether they’re losing so badly that they would consider a move as desperate as blowing up the largest operating nuclear plant in Europe … let’s hope not.

    We’ve had situations before where Ukraine warned of a plan by Russia to damage the plant.

    We’ve had situations before where locals reported Russian forces leaving the area of the plant.

    We’ve had situations before where there were reports of explosives at the plant.

    Now we have all three. The IAEA says their most recent inspection found no signs of explosives, and that’s a good thing. But the Ukrainians appear to be genuinely and understandably concerned about Russia’s intentions toward the Zaporizhzhya NPP. Over the holiday, there were even reports of evacuations taking place as far away as Melitopol, which were attributed more to Russia’s plans to blow up the plant rather than fretting over Ukraine’s advance to the south.

    This falls in the category of, “I do not know.” But it’s definitely a threat that can’t be ignored.
    ———————–
    How to turn a collection of rifles into a makeshift anti-aircraft gun. [Tweet and video at the link]

  220. says

    Followup to Reginald @260:

    TV Rain has been reporting on this. Prigozhin has also been allowed to retrieve large amounts of money that was confiscated — one load was 9 billion rubles in cash dollars (about $90 million). He owns significant property in St. Petersburg and appears to be reorganizing his affiars.

    If he gets to keep most of his wealth, he can re-build his fighting forces. Indeed, some powerful people are allowing this to happen. Wagner centers in Russia are being shut down, but not all of them. The Petersburg opperation still has some important government contracts, for instance, so it is still open and functioning. One thing that organization does is build drones.

    I don’t know if Prigozhin will choose to re-build his army and make another coup attempt, but someone is sure ensuring that such a move would be possible.

    Link

  221. birgerjohansson says

    https://youtu.be/Msmzd5-Hgmg
    There is a rock inscription that seems to support the “revised position of the original Mecca” narrative.
    It will not convince any muslims, but I find the possibility that a major religion has their holy city In the wrong place hilarious.
    You will notice that the original qiblas (direction to the black stone in Mecca and built into the first mosques) were aimed at a point well north of the current Mecca.

  222. Reginald Selkirk says

    Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers thwarted Republicans with a creative veto that increases school funding for the next 400 years

    On Wednesday, Evers, a Democrat, used a creative line-item veto that would increase funding for public schools for the next 400 years, a flex of the Democrat’s power in a state where he’s often at loggerheads with Republicans…

    Evers was able to make the nearly 400-year-old addition by vetoing part of a phrase that had referred to the 2024-25 school year, by striking a hyphen and the “20.” When read together, the legislature’s previous proposals for the 2023-24 and the 2024-25 school years became 2023-2425.

  223. Oggie: Mathom says

    Trump Begins to Sour on ‘Spotlight Hound’ Kari Lake for VP
    Story by Zachary Petrizzo

    When the annual Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll was taken this year, Kari Lake handily came in first to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick.

    It hasn’t gone so well for Lake since.

    The failed Arizona governor candidate has stumbled repeatedly, both with MAGA diehards and with the one person who matters most in the decision: Trump himself.

    And it’s with Trump aides that Lake has particularly lost her footing.

    “She’s a shameless, ruthless demagogue who wants power and will do whatever she has to do to get it,”</b? a Trump adviser told The Daily Beast.[Go with a different pronoun and the advisor has just described Donald Serial Sexual Abuser Trump]

    This adviser added that, in recent months, Trump has been less enthusiastic about Lake himself.

    Two Trump advisers who spoke to The Daily Beast said the heart of Trump’s frustration with Lake is that, in his eyes, she always wants attention.

    As one of the advisers put it, she’s a “spotlight hound.”

    While Lake does check off the running-mate box of being an extremely “loyal” backer of Trump, her ability to outshine the ex-president might just be her downfall.

    One of the two Trump advisers, who has spoken with Trump about the matter, said the former president doesn’t appreciate Lake “running around saying she should be VP.”

    “Tells you all you need to know that he did not make her his national spokeswoman,” the same adviser added. “She was an obvious choice.”

    A third Trump adviser, who has likewise spoken to Trump about the matter, said they believe Trump “sees through her gambit for the vice presidency.”

    “You don’t have to be a wizard to figure that out,” this source continued. “She is a woman that knows what she wants and knows how to get it.”

    A Trumpworld operative agreed.

    “I think she is an effective surrogate, but I’m not sure she will be a VP pick,” this operative close to the Trump campaign said, suggesting instead that Lake could be a press secretary in a future administration.

    “But who knows?” they added.

    A spokesperson for Lake chalked up the drama to “pathetic attempts from Team DeSantis” to divide Trump from his biggest supporters. “MAGA world is more United [sic] than ever and ready to win big in 2024,” this spokesperson said.

    But it’s not DeSantis operatives who say Lake is starting to overstay her welcome—it’s Trump’s own people.

    One Trump adviser pointed to a recent headline from People magazine that alleged the MAGA firebrand spends more time at Mar-a-Lago than Trump’s wife, Melania.

    “Kari Lake is there all the time,” a source told the publication. “There’s a suite there that she practically lives in.”

    A Trump spokesperson did not return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment on this story.

    Publicly, Lake has sidestepped questions on the possibility of being Trump’s running mate.

    “I don’t think President Trump needs a vice president,” she said. “He is that powerful as a leader, he doesn’t really need anyone.”

    Her over-the-top adoration aside, Trump has continued to publicly support Lake.

    Trump apparently doesn’t ding her too much for her loss in the Arizona governor race, with one adviser saying Trump views Lake’s defeat as “similar” to his—with election fraud to blame.

    “He believes that Kari Lake’s election situation mirrors his own,” a third Trump adviser told The Daily Beast. “And in fact, he believes one of the reasons why he’s in the situation he is, is the same reason Kari Lake is in the situation she is in. He believes she should be governor as much as he believes he should be president.”

    Trump recently told supporters on his social media platform, Truth Social, to go out and buy Lake’s new book, which notably was published via Winning Team Publishing, a Trump-aligned book publisher.

    “Every day, Kari fights to Make America Great Again,” he said. “I know this book is great, because I wrote the foreword.”

    Later that evening, the former president appeared at a Lake book party hosted at Trump’s Bedminster club.

    While Trump’s advisers clearly have their issues with Lake and her forceful pitch for VP, Trump is developing criteria for the position that wouldn’t exactly exclude her.

    “He definitely wants someone who can defend him well on TV,” one of the Trump advisers said.

    The Daily Beast previously reported that a slate of female lawmakers—including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, even former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii—were names that Trump had been entertaining as possible 2024 running mates. But since then, Trump and advisers who have discussed the matter with him agree that needing to select a woman candidate might be a “false premise.”

    In recent weeks, some in Trump’s orbit have begun to rethink the former president’s VP needs—now considering how a potential running mate might preserve his legacy and pick up where Trump left off.

    “He’s thinking about the terms afterward, and he knows now more than ever that the United States cannot be led by a mealy-mouthed establishment Republican,” a previously mentioned Trump adviser said.

    Asked about a possible running mate, Trump said at an Iowa campaign stop last month that he’d thought about it “a little bit.”

    “I think about it. We have a lot of candidates, right?” the former president said, responding to a question from the crowd. “We have them running left and right.”

    “I don’t think from a voting standpoint it matters very much,” he added.

    And in other news, Websters has now replaced the definition of narcissist with Donald Serial Sexual Abuser Trump’s photo.

  224. Reginald Selkirk says

    Why Grillo’s Pickles Is Heading to Court

    In a complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, Grillo’s claims that Patriot Pickles, which is based in New Jersey, stole Grillo’s recipe and used it to produce pickles for Whole Foods. The pickles in question are now being sold under Whole Foods’ 365 label, priced roughly 30% less than Grillo’s…

  225. Reginald Selkirk says

    Bluesky announces its $8M seed round and first paid service, custom domains

    Hours before Meta launches its anticipated Instagram competitor, Threads, another Twitter rival — Bluesky — is announcing additional funding and its first paid service. In a blog post on Wednesday, the company shared that it raised seed funds totaling $8 million this summer, when it converted from being a public benefit LLC to a public benefit C Corp. In addition, Bluesky will now offer a paid service that provides custom domains for end users who want to have a unique domain as their handle on the service…

  226. lumipuna says

    Re: my 123 on Finnish political circus:

    The real tragic aspect here is that the PS still has dibs for filling the newly open position for the minister for economic affairs – and it’s pretty damn obvious anyone they can scrape up from among their ranks will also have extensive neonazi ties.

    So now the new minister of economic affairs is a guy who just months ago was disgraced for creeping on teenage girls, and consequently switched party from the Kok to PS. He also seems to have some neonazi ties, though not “extensive” thus far.

  227. lumipuna says

    Since 2022, various Western nations have gradually revoked permits for Russian diplomatic officers and offices, and Russia has retaliated in kind. Now, it seems the Finnish consular office in St. Petersburg will be shut in a couple months. This is in response to Finland deporting nine Russian diplomats last month. Now, in response, Finland will likely shut Russian consular offices in Turku and Mariehamn. Only the Russian embassy in Helsinki will remain open.

    Finland used to have three consular offices in northwestern Russia and Norway had one, IDK about Baltic countries, Sweden or Poland. Now, it seems likely that no Western countries will have diplomatic presence in Russia outside of their embassies in Moscow.

  228. johnson catman says

    re Oggie @293: SSAT:

    I know this book is great, because I wrote the foreword.

    Unless the foreword reads “Lake is a great person because she loves MEEEEE!!!”, I have doubts that he was the actual author of the foreword. And I have NO doubt that he didn’t read the book.

  229. Reginald Selkirk says

    Noem hits back at Ben & Jerry’s over ‘stolen’ Mount Rushmore message

    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) hit back at Ben & Jerry’s over the company’s call for Mount Rushmore to be returned to Indigenous populations whose land was “stolen” by the U.S. government.

    Noem said in an interview on Fox News she will not listen to “a bunch of liberal Vermont businessmen who think they know everything about this country and haven’t studied our history.”

    The ice cream company, which is based in Vermont and was founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, posted on its website on Independence Day that the United States must return the “stolen Indigenous land.”

    Ben & Jerry’s noted the history of the South Dakota land that became Mount Rushmore, which had been called Tunkasila Sakpe by the Lakota Sioux that lived near there in the Black Hills. The federal government signed treaties with the Lakota and other tribes after decades of fighting to give them an area of 35 million acres that included the Black Hills.

    But the government broke those treaties after gold was discovered, and settlers rushed into the area, the company recounted. The Sioux, a group of tribes that came to be known by that name, were then forced to move to smaller reservations in a different location.

    Ben & Jerry’s also noted the Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that the land was stolen and awarded the tribes financial compensation, but the tribes refused it because they only want the land back.

    Noem called Mount Rushmore “the greatest symbol of our freedom” in the country’s history.

    “We can learn from the men on that mountain. We can do better, but boy did they lead us through some challenging times,” she said, referring to the four presidents carved on the mountain — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

    Noem said the country needs to have inspiration and can gain it from monuments like Mount Rushmore.

    “We should be proud of America and knock off what Ben & Jerry’s is doing. They don’t have any idea what they’re doing,” she said.

    Sen. Mike Lee says he’ll never eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream again
    What a tremendous benefit for Ben & Jerry’s customers!

  230. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump valet Walt Nauta pleads not guilty in classified documents case

    Donald Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he helped the former president hide classified documents from federal authorities, appearing with a new Florida-based lawyer to represent him as the case moves forward…

    Ahead of his arraignment, Nauta hired Sasha Dadan, a criminal defense attorney and former public defender whose main law office is in Fort Pierce, where the judge who would be handling the trial is based. She appeared in court with Nauta, alongside his Washington lawyer, Stanley Woodward, who entered the not guilty plea on his behalf…

  231. Reginald Selkirk says

    France Passes New Bill Allowing Police to Remotely Activate Cameras on Citizens’ Phones

    Amidst ongoing protests in France, the country has just passed a new bill that will allow police to remotely access suspects’ cameras, microphones, and GPS on cell phones and other devices.

    As reported by Le Monde, the bill has been criticized by the French people as a “snoopers” charter that allows police unfettered access to the location of its citizens. Moreover, police can activate cameras and microphones to take video and audio recordings of suspects. The bill will reportedly only apply to suspects in crimes that are punishable by a minimum of five years in jail and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti claimed that the new provision would only affect a few dozen cases per year. During a debate over the bill yesterday, French politicians added an amendment that orders judge approval for any surveillance conducted under the scope of the bill and limits the duration of surveillance to six months, according to Le Monde…

  232. birgerjohansson says

    Heath, Noah and Eli at The Scathing Atheist have an idea of how to deal with the SCOTUS decision that the post office had broken the law when they required a Christian to work during Sunday;

    We should all become voltron pantheists and require the right to bring our lion to work in accordance with our sincerely held beliefs.
    .
    https://youtu.be/EQU68x8Xi9U

  233. says

    Text quoted by Oggie @293:

    “I don’t think President Trump needs a vice president,” she said. “He is that powerful as a leader, he doesn’t really need anyone.”

    Barf.

    Text quoted by Reginald @292:

    Ukraine plans to abandon conscription and move to a professional army after the war with Russia to bring Kyiv closer to NATO standards […]

    Sounds like a very good idea.

    Reginald @291, amusing and effective. :-)

    birger@289: “It will not convince any muslims, but I find the possibility that a major religion has their holy city In the wrong place hilarious.” That is funny. Mormons have the same problem. Sites that Joseph Smith declared to be sacred to mormons, and to be sites where treasure was found (golden plates), or proof of early mormon tribes, etc. … those sites turned out to be featureless and banal. Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, New York, for example. Mormons continue to hold huge gatherings there every summer.

  234. Reginald Selkirk says

    Secular coalition, FFRF chastise Trump’s anti-atheist comments

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation is one of 21 member groups belonging to the Secular Coalition of America that is calling out recent anti-atheist comments by Donald Trump.

    In remarks to the Faith and Freedom Conference on June 24, Trump stated, “Together, we’re warriors in a righteous crusade to stop the arsonists, the atheists, globalists and the Marxists.”

    The Secular Coalition of America objects to the defamation of atheists and this vilification of the nonbelieving population of America…

  235. says

    This could indicate that a competitive race for a Senate seat is underway in Texas. The Democratic candidate has raised a lot of money to fund his effort to defeat Ted Cruz. The news is summarized by Steve Benen, using the Texas Tribune as a source:

    In Texas, Rep. Colin Allred raised a massive $6.2 million in the second quarter and transferred an additional $2.4 million from his U.S. House campaign account. It means that Allred, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the race against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, has already raised more than Beto O’Rourke raised at a comparable point in his Senate race six years ago.

    Colin Allred looks like an exceptionally good political candidate.

  236. says

    An update on the cocaine story:

    Over the course of several decades, there have been quite a few stories related to drugs at the White House, during Democratic and Republican administrations, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise to learn that there’s a new installment in the larger saga.

    NBC News reported yesterday that a powdery substance was found Sunday evening in a small zippered bag in a highly trafficked part of the West Wing. This led to a brief evacuation, before officials determined that it was cocaine.

    It is unclear how long the bag was in the White House. The blurry timeline and the number of people who walk through the area where the cocaine was found could make it difficult to determine who was responsible, an official familiar with the investigation said. The bag containing the cocaine remains in a federal laboratory, where it will be tested for DNA and fingerprints, the official said. The substance will also undergo a full chemical analysis.

    The Secret Service is overseeing the investigation, and while we’ll learn more in a couple of weeks, NBC News’ report added that, according to officials, “there may not be a resolution if no forensic material is found to identify someone.”

    Or put another way, we might never know exactly what happened. In fact, a Politico report, citing an official familiar with the investigation, “cautioned that the source of the drug was unlikely to be determined given that it was discovered in a highly trafficked area of the West Wing.”

    I’m not in a position to make a prediction, but we are talking about a part of the White House near where plenty of people — staffers, visitors, Secret Service agents, and even interns — routinely pass on a daily basis. We might yet get a definitive answer, but it’s probably best to manage expectations.

    For the administration’s Republican critics, however, this isn’t a time to wait for an investigation to run its course, it’s instead time to make baseless accusations. Rep. Darrell Issa of California, for example, appeared on Fox News yesterday and implicated — who else? — Hunter Biden. [LOL]

    But it was Donald Trump who responded to the story as only he can. The former president published this missive to his social media platform yesterday afternoon:

    “Does anybody really believe that the COCAINE found in the West Wing of the White House, very close to the Oval Office, is for the use of anyone other than Hunter & Joe Biden. But watch, the Fake News Media will soon start saying that the amount found was ‘very small,’ & it wasn’t really COCAINE, but rather common ground up Aspirin, & the story will vanish. Has Deranged Jack Smith, the crazy, Trump hating Special Prosecutor, been seen in the area of the COCAINE? He looks like a crackhead to me!”

    [JFC. How irresponsible can Trump be?]

    Just so we’re all clear, this isn’t satire. I didn’t make this up as a way of making Trump appear foolish. He actually published this, apparently on purpose, for everyone to see.

    There’s no point in going through the former president’s bizarre rant in any detail, though I will briefly note two details that seem relevant. The first is that President Joe Biden doesn’t even drink alcohol, so the idea that the cocaine was intended for his “use” is difficult to take seriously.

    As for Trump’s suggestion that the cocaine might’ve belonged to special counsel Jack Smith — a man the former president believes “looks like a crackhead” — it’s worth emphasizing that Smith is running an independent investigation, and there’s no indication that he’s visited the West Wing.

    Link

  237. says

    Followup to comment 274.

    Sen. Josh Hawley was hardly the first prominent Republican to use social media to promote a fake quote from history, but the Missouri senator’s Fourth of July incident was noticeably more ridiculous than the usual mishaps.

    To briefly review, the GOP lawmaker — who majored in history at Stanford before getting a law degree from Yale — honored Independence Day by publishing a tweet that quoted Patrick Henry as saying the United States was “founded … on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Henry, however, never said any such thing: Hawley was actually quoting a report from a white nationalist publication that ran in 1956 — more than a century and a half after the Founding Father’s death.

    […] Hawley could’ve deleted the tweet and pretended he hadn’t promoted a false quote. He could’ve blamed a staffer. He could’ve shown some kind of contrition and vowed to do better in the future.

    Instead, the senator published a follow-up tweet, featuring a poorly written taunt.

    “I’m told the libs are major triggered by the connection between the Bible and the American Founding.”

    Right off the bat, it’s worth emphasizing that Hawley — who appears to be preoccupied with his unfortunate vision of masculinity — keeps trying too hard to sound cool. “I’m told the libs are major triggered”? It sounds like ham-fisted dialogue from a 1980s surfers movie.

    […] a senator tried to deceive the public. Then he got caught. Now he seems to find it amusing that people he disapproves of noticed his deception — which makes Hawley less of a senator and more of an online troll.

    But following up on Wednesday’s coverage, what matters most in this story is why the Missouri Republican misled people: Hawley wanted to honor the Fourth of July by arguing that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, with members of one faith tradition — his own — enjoying exalted status over others.

    Indeed, as part of his response Wednesday, the senator highlighted a handful of other historical quotes, which he apparently believed bolstered his original contention.

    At this point, we could go back and forth, playing an unsatisfying tit-for-tat game of quotes. I could cite Thomas Jefferson, while Hawley would reference Daniel Webster. I’d respond with a quote from James Madison, leading Hawley to counter with a quote from Benjamin Rush.

    This could go on for a while, and though I’m certain that my list of quotes would prevail — the historical record is, after all, on my side — the fact remains that the entire exercise is unnecessary. As historian Kevin Kruse explained in a terrific piece overnight:

    [I]t’s better, I think, to brush aside these politicians and partisans who cherry-pick their way through the founding era and simply remind them that in the Constitution of the United States — you know, the document that actually founded this country and established its rules and norms — none of their wish casting for a “Christian nation” finds any support at all.

    Quite right. I’ve long believed that this effectively ends any debate over whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation: The Constitution is a secular document that created a secular government. Period. Full stop.

    For opponents of church-state separation, this nagging detail must be terribly frustrating, but reality is stubborn. Either the nation’s founders created a secular constitutional system that guarantees religious liberty for all, or they meant to base our constitutional system of government on Christianity but somehow forgot.

    Link

  238. says

    Things look worse at TYT.
    In addition to Ana Kasparian with issues involving “Karen hunting” both she and Cenk Uyghur are trying to hold a group responsible for the actions of individuals with “trans activists” and more.
    https://youtu.be/Uk-O_PErl3w
    +Ana Kasparian and “Karen hunting”
    https://youtu.be/wrPYaiUFqCA

    So I guess TYT can shut it if there is bad behavior on the Left or among Ds? Probably not and that’s not the response. You criticize the bigot for acting like an example of activism means the issue is changed.
    And their positions about parents of LGBT+ kids is awful.

  239. says

    Donald Junior whines, Australian politician responds:

    […] The home affairs minister in Australia, whose name is Clare O’Neil, says Junior absolutely did get a visa, and that he is being a “big baby” about the postponement. But it’s even more than that.

    “Geez, Donald Trump Jr is a bit of a sore loser. His dad lost an election fair and square – but he says it was stolen. Now he’s trying to blame the Australian government for his poor ticket sales and cancelled tour,” the Labor minister wrote.

    “Donald Trump Jr has been given a visa to come to Australia. He didn’t get cancelled. He’s just a big baby, who isn’t very popular.”

    [LOL. Well said.]

    Well, if this “home affairs minister of Australia” thing doesn’t work out, O’Neil is certainly free to come work at Wonkette.

    For some TERRIBLE AWFUL REASON, O’Neil had to delete the tweets, but Guardian took a picture: [Screenshot at the link]

    […] We have no idea why O’Neil had to delete God’s honest truth from her Twitter. Turning Point Australia is obviously moaning up a storm, but what else do you expect from the Australian wing of Charlie Kirk’s outfit? Nigel Farage, who was supposed to appear with Junior, is also whining about O’Neil’s tweets, and reassuring everyone that Junior is very popular in Australia. Sure, Nigel. […]

    The Daily Mail, where the news comes from, is shrieking that the Labor Party in Australia is now in “damage control” over O’Neil’s good and true tweets. They’re calling her correct tweets an “extraordinary spray.” And according to the tabloid, “Labor government sources told Sky News the PM was ‘furious’ with the Tweets from the minister.”

    Blimey!

    It went on to note that Labor ministers are saying lots of things about the Trumps lately:

    It marks the second time in as many days a Labor minister has criticised the Trump family. Linda Burney deviated her prepared remarks of her speech explaining how the Voice to Parliament will work to slam the ‘importation of Trump-style politics’ to Australia.

    Oh. Pretty mild.

    Another Australian government official, “Shadow Home Affairs minister James Patterson,” complained that O’Neil’s comments could totally ruin Australia’s relationship with America if Junior’s (anti-American criminal terrorist-inciting) father is elected president next year:

    ‘Like it or not, Trump could be elected president again in less than 18 months,’ he said.

    ‘If that happens, I hope for the sake of the AUKUS agreement that cabinet ministers in national security portfolios are able to restrain themselves from juvenile tweets like these.’

    Get a fucking grip, weenus.

    The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, reportedly backed O’Neil up.

    Now, we at Wonkette are patriots, so we would have preferred that if Clare O’Neil were going to criticize Donald Trump Jr., she would make really cruel comments about how Junior’s father doesn’t love him, and wonder aloud if he was dropped on his face as a child.

    But that is our only note. Remember to make fun of Junior for having a face not even his dad can love. It is how Australia can be a true ally to America in these troubling times.

    Oh, and don’t let anybody intimidate you into deleting tweets about […] Donald Trump Jr.

    Wonkette link

  240. says

    Threads update:

    Instagram’s answer to Twitter, the Threads app, has attracted 30 million sign-ups by Thursday morning, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, as he argued that the new platform could transform the social media industry.

    “Feels like the beginning of something special, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead to build out the app,” Zuckerberg said in a post on the app.

    The launch of Meta’s free app comes as Twitter, which has been dramatically transformed by Elon Musk since he purchased it last year, introduced “emergency” measures to limit users’ experience on the platform
    .
    Within hours of the Threads launch, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Jack Black, Kylie Minogue, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gwen Stefani, Noah Beck and Shakira were among the artists and media personalities to join. Republican presidential hopeful Mike Pence, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has criticized Twitter under Musk’s leadership, were among the first politicians to sign up. “May this platform have good vibes, strong community, excellent humor and less harassment,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

    […] Although Threads developers are eager to distinguish it from Twitter, the apps share many functional similarities. Like Twitter, Threads is focused on text posts, limiting each to 500 characters. Users can also tag one another using the @ symbol, as well as reply to and “repost” a thread. Unlike Twitter, however, the current version of Threads does not have a direct message function.

    An early advantage for Threads is the app’s links to Instagram, giving it an easy-to-reach, built-in potential user base. Threads users can log in with one click using their Instagram credentials and are immediately given the option to carry over their existing username and follow some or all of the same accounts.

    The sign-up figures shared by Zuckerberg overnight would mean Threads was attracting more than 1 million new users per hour, although The Washington Post could not immediately authenticate how many of the sign-ups were made by real people. The app’s quick growth — building off Instagram’s established success — suggests that Threads has quickly positioned itself as a top contender against Twitter. Other would-be rivals to Musk’s platform, such as Mastodon and Bluesky, have yet to grow beyond single-digit millions of users — although a key test for Threads will be its ability to retain the loyalty and attention of its curious new users in the coming days weeks. […]

    In a Wednesday blog post, Meta said Threads was rolled out in more than 100 countries. But it is not available for download in the European Union, where Meta was recently fined $1.3 billion for breaching data privacy rules. The bloc’s recent Digital Markets Act also calls into question some of the firm’s data-sharing practices.

    […] In a blog post the same day, the social media giant said it would apply the same content guidelines on its new app as those it enforces on Instagram, where hate speech, harassment and content that degrades or shames private individuals is prohibited. The profiles of all users under 16 will be made private by default, it added.

    Over at Twitter, Musk attacked Instagram for promoting what he called fake positivity, appearing to lean into the contrast. “It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram,” he wrote on Twitter late Wednesday. [WTF?]

    In March, an analysis by The Post found that Twitter’s algorithms were amplifying hateful and extremist content to users on their “For You” pages, despite Musk’s pledge not to boost hate speech. […]

    Washington Post link.

  241. Reginald Selkirk says

    Topless sunbather in northern B.C. files complaint against RCMP after being warned of criminal charges

    A Prince George, B.C., woman who sunbathes topless in her backyard has filed a formal complaint against the RCMP after she says an officer knocked on her door and told her she could face criminal charges for going bare-breasted.

    Lynn Blatta’s experience brings to light a grey area in Canadian law, which contains language around nudity on both public and private property but also leans on provincial court judgments that have found nothing legally wrong with women going topless or nude in public…

  242. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    TheNation – Lessons From the Catastrophic Failure of the Metaverse

    the open-world virtual reality platform […] Citi valued it at no less than $13 trillion. There was only one problem: The whole thing was bullshit. […] There wasn’t anyone visiting the Metaverse at all.
    […]
    Decentraland, arguably the largest and most relevant Metaverse platform, had only 38 active daily users. […] one of the features designed to reward users in Meta’s flagship product Horizon Worlds produced no more than $470 in revenue globally. […] You’re not reading those numbers wrong.
    […]
    no one, even Zuckerberg himself, was ever really clear what the whole enterprise was for except being the future of the Internet and a kind of vague hanging out.

  243. Reginald Selkirk says

    @316:
    no one, even Zuckerberg himself, was ever really clear what the whole enterprise was for

    Don’t make them say pR0n out loud.

  244. Reginald Selkirk says

    United Methodists lose one-fifth of US churches in schism driven by growing defiance of LGBTQ bans

    More than 6,000 United Methodist congregations — a fifth of the U.S. total — have now received permission to leave the denomination amid a schism over theology and the role of LGBTQ people in the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination.

    Those figures emerge following the close of regular meetings in June for the denomination’s regional bodies, known as annual conferences. The departures began with a trickle in 2019 — when the church created a four-year window of opportunity for U.S. congregations to depart over LGBTQ-related issues — and cascaded to its highest level this year.

    Church law forbids the marriage or ordination of “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals,” but many conservatives have chosen to leave amid a growing defiance of those bans in many U.S. churches and conferences.

    Many of the departing congregations are joining the Global Methodist Church, a denomination created last year by conservatives breaking from the UMC, while others are going independent or joining different denominations…

    Isn’t it great how religion brings people together?

  245. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Trump posted […] Obama’s address […] An armed man was soon arrested there

    [The gunman] kept two firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition inside a van he had driven cross-country and had been living in […] already faces four misdemeanor counts related to the Capitol assault
    […]
    FBI had been monitoring […] because of […] the riot, and began searching for him […] after he asserted on his YouTube livestream that he […] intended to blow up the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

    The following day, he continued his livestream from […] where Obama lives—an area heavily monitored by the U.S. Secret Service—and said that he […] wanted to get a “good angle on a shot,”

  246. Reginald Selkirk says

  247. says

    Reginald @322, it will be fun to see if Elon Musk follows through on his threat to sue Meta. Elon is likely to lose.

  248. Reginald Selkirk says

    How Mississippi gamed its national reading test scores to produce ‘miracle’ gains

    Statistics show that Mississippi’s children have gone from having almost the worst scores on the standardized national reading test for fourth-graders in 2013 to narrowly exceeding the national average in the most recent test, administered last year. ..

    A close examination of the numbers suggests that it’s not true. Bob Somerby and Kevin Drum, two of the most adept myth busters in the blogosphere, have done yeomen’s work deconstructing the statistics. Their conclusion is that Mississippi’s program isn’t nearly as successful as its fans assert and may not have produced any improvement at all in fourth-grade reading scores. The apparent gains may be a statistical illusion.

    There is a lesson here, however. It’s not about how to effectively teach kids to read, but how difficult it is to teach journalists how to scrutinize statistical claims…

  249. says

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

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy has landed in the Czech capital Prague as part of a tour to drum up support for Ukraine’s fast track to Nato membership ahead of a summit of the alliance next week….

    The White House has declined to comment on reports that the Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has returned to Russia, despite a peace deal with the Kremlin under which Prigozhin had agreed to move to Belarus.

    According to the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin is “in St Petersburg. He is not on the territory of Belarus”.

    Lukashenko added that the Wagner boss may be headed to Moscow and that Wagner fighters were stationed at their camps in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine.

    The US will “continue to monitor the Wagner group”, CNN is quoting White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates as saying….

    At least six people were killed after a Russian missile slammed into a residential building in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, far from the front line of the war, earlier today.

    The roof and top floor of the building were destroyed in what the mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, called the biggest attack of the war on civilian areas of Lviv since Russian troops invaded Ukraine last year.

    Sadovyi said the body of a woman was pulled from the rubble late Thursday, bring the death toll to six. The youngest was 21 years old and the oldest was a 95-year-old woman, according to Lviv province governor Maksym Kozytskyi.

    The Biden administration is expected to announce a new Ukraine weapons aid package tomorrow – and it will include cluster munitions, two US officials have told Reuters….

  250. says

    Ukraine Update: Russia doesn’t have a backup plan when it runs out of artillery

    Joseph Stalin supposedly once called artillery “the God of War.” Regardless of the historicity of the comment, it gets at a certain truth about the Russian and Soviet armies since well before the time of Napoleon: Artillery has been, and continues to be, the backbone of the Russian army.

    In Wednesday’s Ukraine Update, I suggested there were concrete signs that counterbattery fire and 16 months of conflict were degrading the capabilities of Russia’s artillery. Yet it was difficult to explain my confidence in this belief without a full accounting of the background and known facts about Russian artillery that show this to be true.

    There are growing signs that Russia has already fallen back to its last practical artillery option, and likely has no backup plan. Russia’s relative disadvantage may get considerably worse if Ukraine receives cluster munitions, as was reported Thursday.

    Russia has many different types of artillery, but it’s really just two primary systems that are capable of producing artillery bombardment in volume: 152 millimeter howitzers and 122 mm mortars. The exceptions are either too few to have any strategic effect, and/or have sharply limited ammunition supplies.

    2S19 MSTA-S (152 MM SELF-PROPELLED HOWITZER)
    The “S” denotes “self-propelled.” The armored self-propelled Msta-S was the workhorse of the Russian army throughout 2022, supplying mobile firepower. Over 800 units were in service at the start of the war.

    2A65 MSTA-B (152 MM TOWED HOWITZER)
    The “B” denotes a towed artillery unit. The gun is identical to the type used in the Msta-S, but this is a truck-towed version of the gun. Russia had 250 units in service and several hundred in storage.

    2S5 GIATSINI-S (152 MM SELF-PROPELLED HOWITZER)
    A mid-Soviet era design self-propelled howitzer that was supposed to be replaced by the 2S19 Msta-S, but remains in service. Different engine and armor protection and targeting optics but functionally similar. There were 141 in active service at the start of the war.

    2S3 AKATSIYA (152 MM SELF-PROPELLED HOWITZER)

    An older, mid-Cold War self-propelled howitzer was supposed to be replaced by the 2S5 Giatsini-S and the 2S19 Msta-S; though they have different engine and armor protection as well as targeting optics, they’re functionally similar. About 800 units were active at the start of the conflict, with hundreds also in storage.

    2S23 NONA-SVK/2S9 NONA-S (120 MM SELF-PROPELLED MORTAR)
    Army and VDV (airborne) version of an armored self-propelled mortar. Considered highly modern, but only a combined 80-90 units are active.

    2S34 CHOSTA (120 MM SELF-PROPELLED MORTAR)
    Older, mid-Soviet era self-propelled mortar; there were around 70 in active service at the start of the war.

    2B16 NONA-K/2B11 2S12 SANI (120 MM TOWED MORTARS)
    Towed versions of 120 mm mortars. Over 700 units were active at the start of the war.

    2S1 GVOZDIKA (122 MM SELF-PROPELLED HOWITZER)
    Russia started the war with over 200 units of these self-propelled howitzers active in the Russian army. However, Russia planned to phase out the 122 mm howitzers for many years, thus production of artillery shells for the Gvozdika had long since been discontinued. Any production of 122 mm howitzer shells is considered to be so small as to be insignificant. Russia continues to rely on pre-war stockpiles that are of uncertain quality due to age.

    2S4 TYULIPAN (240MM SELF-PROPELLED MORTAR)
    This early Cold War era self-propelled mortar features one of the largest shells in the Russian army, but setting up the mortar reportedly takes well over half an hour: The massive shells must be reloaded manually, which takes a full minute. Disassembling the mortar for travel takes another 10-15 minutes. Thus, setting up, firing three or four rounds, then changing locations can take almost a full hour, making it extremely slow and vulnerable to counterbattery fire. Only 60 were in active service at the start of the war.

    2S7 PION/2S7 MAIKA (203 MM SELF-PROPELLED HOWITZER)
    Although these are powerful units with a long range and powerful shells, Russia only has an estimated 33 units active in Ukraine; due to an “insignificant” monthly production of shells, the Maika are not considered a strategic threat.

    This is only a sampling of the tube artillery that Russia has in active service. A number of other older towed 155 mm and 122 mm howitzers and 120 mm mortars are also in use, but the above weapon systems have seen the most active combat in the Russo-Ukrainian War.

    These can be further broken down into five categories:
    – 152 mm howitzers: These self-propelled guns number close to 1,000 units in service, along with numerous towed varieties.
    – 120 mm mortars: There were less than 200 self-propelled units in service at the start of the war, along with nearly 1,000 towed units.
    – 122 mm howitzers: Relatively few units still in service. Without a ready supply of ammunition, Russia is reliant entirely on existing stocks. This weapon remains in significant use, but the state of stocks is unknown.
    – 240 mm mortar: Only a few dozen units in service.
    – 203 mm howitzer: Not only are there very few active units, very little ammunition production still ongoing.

    From this rundown, it becomes clear that there are only two sources of “volume” artillery possible for Russia: 152 mm howitzers and 120 mm mortars. Russia lacks the number of units to provide volume fire support from any other tube artillery system.

    Of these two, Russia leaned hard on the 152 mm artillery at the start of the conflict. Many military experts noted that with more advanced counterbattery radars consistently and more quickly detecting firing locations of artillery units, the amount of time any given artillery piece can safely be set up and fire has gotten shorter and shorter.

    In this, self-propelled guns have a dramatic advantage in speed over their towed counterparts as far as setting up and reassembling the unit from a firing position.

    Many Western military experts predict that the Russo-Ukrainian War may be proving that towed artillery units are overly vulnerable and are reaching obsolescence. Thus, Russia would appear to have been well prepared for a major conflict, with around 1,200 self-propelled 152 mm artillery units.

    These big guns, with a range of over 20 kilometers, would prove devastating with their bombardments. Russia assembled massive batteries of guns during the battle of Severodonetsk, preventing Ukrainian units from forming concentrations to counterattack by simply bombarding any unit concentrations into submission and dispersal.

    The imprecise targeting required massive expenditures of artillery shells and wanton destruction of the surrounding towns, villages, and cities, but proved difficult to stop—at least over shorter distances. [Photo of the ruins of Bakhmut.]

    However, this was achieved by burning through around 20,000 152 mm artillery shells daily. This would require many howitzers to fire dozens, even over 100, shells a day to sustain this level of firepower. This posed two longer-term problems for Russia.</b.

    First, Russian artillery shell production has been estimated at around 733,000 shells per year (2,000 shells per day) at the very highest, or most conservative level. The Jamestown Foundation, an American-based European security think tank, created that estimate by projecting from publicly available revenue information from Russia’s artillery shell manufacturers. Many other projections estimate far lower production totals of around 700 per day, which would represent a fraction of the totals Russia was using.

    This likely explains how Russia managed to burn through ammunition stocks—believed to be in the millions of shells—in a bit more than a year.

    Russia may be alleviating these ammunition concerns through arms imports. Russian bloggers like Rybar claimed that Russia was importing large quantities of 152 mm ammunition from Iran, but these claims are not considered credible.

    The reason this claim is met with incredulity is because Iran has a radically different military philosophy than Russia. Iran has only 30 pieces of 152 mm artillery in its arsenal, relying instead on rocket artillery and drones. Thus the idea that Iran would have a significant stockpile of 152 mm ammunition that could supply Russia’s needs for any length of time simply defies logic.

    A much bigger potential source of 152 mm artillery ammunition could be found in North Korea, but U.S. intelligence does not believe Russia is purchasing bulk quantities of the ammunition from North Korea for a simple reason: quality, or a lack thereof.

    In 2010, North Korean artillery units launched a brief but intense bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island that killed four people. However, intelligence analysts suggest that only 80 out of 300-400 howitzers managed to hit their targets—a miserable success rate. It was suggested that poor and inconsistent manufacturing quality of the propellant in the 152 mm shells caused drastic accuracy problems, which would likely affect Russian artillery units equally. This likely explains why it is believed that Russia has purchased predominantly small arms ammunition from North Korea.

    The remaining wildcard is China. There have been unconfirmed rumors that Chinese 152 mm shells have been found to be in use by Russian troops. North Korean forces also likely have stockpiles of Chinese 152 mm shells, and China could send those shells to Russia itself.

    China has 500 Type 66 152 mm howitzers in service that use the same shells as the Russian 152 mm howitzers. But political pressure from the United States and a fear of economic sanctions that could adversely affect the already flagging Chinese economy have kept China thus far from overtly providing much direct material aid to Russia’s war efforts (which China seems to have little care for).

    However, regardless of the ammunition situation, Russia has another problem: replacement barrels. High-quality artillery barrels can withstand firing 2,000-3,000 shots, sometimes more. Poor quality barrels can burst after just 1,000 rounds or fewer.

    When Russian 152 mm howitzers are being called to lay down a few dozen rounds per day, they may require a new barrel after a month or two, or as little as every couple of weeks. At a firing rate of 20,000 rounds per day, Russia may be replacing as many as eight to 10 barrels daily. Russia may have needed around 3,000-4,000 replacement barrels per year, or somewhere around 6,000 barrels since the start of the conflict.

    The problem for Russia is that domestic barrel production is likely extremely low. In the early 2000s, shortly after Putin came to power, the Russian economy remained in a prolonged slump dating back to the collapse of the Soviet Union; the Russian GDP had fallen from $554 billion in 1988 to just $195 billion by 1999. The Russian military was hard-hit by the budget cuts, with Russian officers going unpaid for months during the 1990s, leading to a culture of endemic corruption.

    Motovilikha Plants in Perm and Barrikady in Volgograd Oblast are the only artillery barrel-making manufacturing plants remaining in Russia, which already limits production. Additionally, those factories need military-grade steel alloys to manufacture replacement barrels.

    Putin chose to make a series of military reforms aimed at addressing the budget shortfalls of the Russian army, with a clear aim of maintaining the size of the Russian army at the expense of other aspects of Russian military readiness.

    Among the sacrifices? Russia’s military-grade steel manufacturers. Russia had been subsidizing strategically important industries that could not otherwise compete with Western manufacturing, like electronic components, or small-batch high-quality military-grade steel.

    Steel alloys come in many grades, but military-grade steel requires certain hardness ratings, as measured by the Brinell Hardness Test rating, which is two to three times higher than commonly used commercial steel. [video at the link]

    This hardness is achieved through specialized manufacturing processes that introduce various alloys, and it’s generally manufactured in small, specialized batches. These specialized steel alloys are generally three to four times more expensive than their ordinary commercial counterparts.

    However, they have broad military applications: They are being used in artillery barrels, armored vehicles, body armor, and more. They cannot be substituted with ordinary bulk steel without catastrophically weakening the result.

    After Putin’s reforms cut off subsidized and “unprofitable” Russian military industries to cut costs, Russia’s military-grade steel industry essentially died entirely.

    As Novoya Gazeta reported in November:

    “Russia’s metal industry is dead,” our source says. “When a competition for barrel blanks was announced, all the samples put up for it turned out to be defective. The special thing about the new barrels is that they must withstand greater pressure, that is, be more durable. This requires special alloys and melting modes, as well as small-sized furnaces. The thing is: Russia’s metallurgy is focused on large volumes and mass grades of steel.

    Russia initially made up for its lack of domestic production by importing high-grade military steel from Europe and Japan. However, with sanctions restricting their access to military-grade steel since 2014, Russia has had a serious problem obtaining the raw materials necessary for the production of any barrels of any kind. India and China primarily deal in large-scale industrial commercial steel production, and military-grade steel production is aimed at domestic military use with very little available for export, if any. North Korea is not known for its specialized steel alloy exports.

    For example, Russia intended to replace the Msta-S 152 mm howitzer with the new 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV by the mid-2010s, but it only was able to manufacture 12 units. The primary issue was a lack of military steel—an issue that also plagued Russia’s ability to produce the T-14 Armata tank.

    Russia very likely has run through any stock of replacement barrels it may have stockpiled, and also has likely been keeping its 152 mm artillery fielded by cannibalizing parts from older towed howitzers.

    The Royal United Services Institute noted that a lack of 152 mm ammunition and replacement barrels was driving a shift from a primary reliance on 152 mm howitzers to increasing use of mortars to replace shortfalls in firepower. This mirrors reports from the front lines, such as Ukrainian officer Tatarigami_UA, who noted an overall shift in Russian tactics in February, when Russian units began operating with a greater emphasis on mortars. This also follows reports that 152 mm artillery usage had dropped by 75% or more.

    Furthermore, it was noted that Oryx verified losses of Russian artillery had always been predominantly 155 mm artillery as the most commonly used artillery unit until May and June, when it was surpassed by 122 mm howitzers and 120 mm mortars. This likely represents a significant drop-off in the number of 155 mm artillery being deployed, also suggesting the increasing reliance on mortars is real.

    This shift to an emphasis on mortars has three major issues for Russia.
    – 120 mm mortars range from 5-10 km in range, in contrast to 152 mm howitzers’ ranges beyond 20 km. This closer proximity makes mortar units more vulnerable to counterbattery fire.
    – Russian supplies of self-propelled mortars are very small, only about 100 vehicles in total. The vast majority of Russian heavy mortars are of the towed variety, with crews that are far more vulnerable to counterbattery fire.
    – Iran only has about 100 120 mm mortars (HM16/RAZM mortars), and thus may not have a large stockpile of shells it can export.

    For example, the Russians’ deployment of the massive 240 mm 2S4 Tyulpan mortar was seen as a fearsome development in Bakhmut, where Ukrainian forces had been restricted from using guided munitions earlier in the spring. However, many military analysts see it as a move of desperation.

    The Tyulpan takes around 25 minutes to deploy. It takes a full minute to reload, and another 15 minutes to disassemble and move. It also takes a crew of nine well-trained artillery men to operate. Tt could take close to an hour for a Tyulpan to fire seven to eight rounds and be ready to move again.

    By contrast, the Paladin self-propelled artillery used by the Ukrainian army can be deployed for firing in a single minute. It can quickly fire eight rounds in another minute, then be ready to move within 30 seconds. The whole process takes under three minutes. The Paladins are crewed by only four soldiers.

    Every minute an artillery piece stays in position is another minute its position can be identified by drone or counterbattery radar. Ukraine’s frequent use of HIMARS in a counterbattery role often means that a guided missile could be on its way to an artillery piece minutes after firing. [Photo at the link]

    In this environment a Tyulpan stands little chance, which may explain why Russia did not deploy these units consistently into combat in significant numbers until May. In about six weeks, Oryx has recorded 13 destroyed Tyulpan 240 mm mortars. Each destroyed Tyulpan likely represents a loss of nine precious, well-trained artillerymen who Russia will have to replace.

    The deployment of the Tyulpan, first introduced into the Red Army in 1959, arguably represents desperation by the Russian army for any artillery unit it can use to keep Russian firepower at sufficient levels. […]

    Given Russia’s relatively few numbers of self-propelled mortars, if Russia is forced to rely on slow-deploying towed heavy mortars, then Russian artillery specialists will likely experience higher casualties and be degraded further.

    Russia does not appear to have a long-term source of 120 mm mortar shells or replacement barrels it can readily obtain any more than 152 mm howitzers. However, as 120 mm mortars were not depleted already, they have become Russia’s weapon of choice by default.

    In effect, Russia’s artillery arm most likely has its back against the wall. It is throwing 1959-era siege mortars into a modern battlefield that requires shoot-and-scoot tactics. Those guns are predictably being destroyed at a rapid clip. Russian towed mortar crews are also slow to deploy and highly vulnerable to counterbattery fire, being virtually unprotected even from shrapnel.

    Lacking any significant source of military-grade steel, it is difficult to see where Russia obtains the materials it needs to replace 120 mm mortar barrels as those replacements become necessary.

    If Russia becomes limited in its use of both 152 mm howitzers and 120 mm mortars, it will have nowhere else to turn to provide the volume of firepower upon which the Russian army so badly depends.

    Furthermore, as noted above, Ukraine’s artillery arm just reportedly received a major boost, as NPR and The New York Times report that the Biden administration has approved the sending of cluster munitions. […]

  251. says

    Kyiv Post – “Ukraine Infantry Secures Kremlin Fortifications in Bakhmut Sector, Repels Counterattacks”:

    Ukrainian assault and airborne infantry units were consolidating around newly-captured terrain at locations across the frontline Bakhmut sector and repelled Russian attempts to recapture lost ground at two locations, according to news reports and official Ukrainian statements, on Thursday July 6.

    Pro-Russian information platforms reported that Ukrainian troops were digging in near the Berkhivka and Yahidne villages to the north-east of Bakhmut, after recapturing positions lost to Russian assaults as long ago as May. The early July successes marked continued progress on a wider front in a double axis offensive that was initially launched by Ukraine in the Bakhmut sector in early June.

    A Russian combined arms assault to push Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) units back on Wednesday failed to eject Ukrainian troops from the newly-gained positions, as pro-Russia combat correspondent Simon Pegov reported on Thursday on his Telegram channel. An official July 6 situation estimate published by Ukraine’s Army General Staff (AGS) confirmed Ukrainian units had repelled the Russian counterattacks against Berkhivka and Yahidne.

    Social media and news reports, in some cases backed up by video and geolocated photographs posted by soldiers themselves, showed Ukrainian daily progress measured in hundreds of meters. The AFU advances were based on deliberate, short-range assaults calculated to captured a single wood-line or a farm field, reports agreed….

  252. says

    Text quoted by SC in comment 326:

    The Biden administration is expected to announce a new Ukraine weapons aid package tomorrow – and it will include cluster munitions, two US officials have told Reuters….

    U.S. is expected to announce it will send cluster munitions to Ukraine (That’s an NPR link.)

    U.S. officials tell NPR that the Biden administration plans to send cluster bombs, or munitions, to Ukraine to target dug-in Russian forces. An announcement is expected tomorrow.

    The controversial weapons drop dozens of bomblets that human rights groups say endanger civilians.

    Ukraine and Russia are already using cluster munitions on the battlefield, but Ukraine is running low on ammunition and has