1. Reginald Selkirk says

    Totally cool CEO says governments need to punish workers with unemployment to make them less arrogant

    Australian CEO of the Gurner Group, a real estate firm, called for governments to cause “pain in the economy” to remind workers that “they work for the employer, not the other way around.”

    I think the problem that we’ve had is that we’ve, you know, we have… People decided they didn’t really want to work so much anymore through Covid, and that has had a massive issue on productivity. You know, tradies have definitely pulled back on productivity. You know, they have been paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years, and we need to see that change.

    We need to see unemployment rise. Unemployment has to jump 40, 50 per cent in my view. We need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer not the other way around.

    I mean, there is a… there’s been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them, as opposed to the other way around. So it’s a dynamic that has to change. We’ve got to kill that attitude, and that has to come through hurting the economy. Which is what the whole global… you know, the world is trying to do. The governments around the world are trying to increase unemployment to get that to some sort of normality.

    It is stunning to hear someone say out loud that world governments should institute policies to hurt their economies, and deliberately throw families into economic catastrophe, in order to please one side of the employment-contract relationship.

    But throwing people into unemployment seems to be the favorite policy too of the most influential economists. Last summer, former Democratic treasury secretary Larry Summers argued that the U.S. must create unemployment, putting 10 million people out of work, in order to tame inflation. (He was wrong. Inflation has gone down without an increase in unemployment.)

  2. says

    I see that we have automatically rolled over to begin a new chapter of 500 comments on the Infinite Thread.

    For the convenience of readers, here is a link back to one of the comments posted in the previous chapter:

    @Reginald #483, @Lynna #486:
Speaking of unbelievable, this is from Jul 25, during the trial, over bribery.
    Video: Maddow – Unbelievable: Texas A.G.’s PAC makes [$3 million] donation to Lt. Gov. presiding over his impeachment trial

And who isn’t even up for reelection until 2026.

  3. says

    Then there were 2: Minnesota brings next major constitutional challenge to Trump’s candidacy

    There are now two high-profile lawsuits—now in Minnesota, after last week’s case in Colorado—seeking to bar Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot. Both lawsuits invoke a provision in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that bars people from holding office who engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. government.

    This approach is an untested legal theory that could find itself up against the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court.

    But, as CNN’s Marshall Cohen noted on Tuesday, “At the very least, these lawsuits have reinvigorated a national debate over whether Trump is an insurrectionist, and refocused attention on his unprecedented attempts to disrupt the lawful transfer of power.” […]

    Donald Trump violated his oath of office and incited a violent insurrection that attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatened the assassination of the Vice President and congressional leaders, and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation’s history. Our predecessors understood that oath-breaking insurrectionists will do it again, and worse, if allowed back into power, so they enacted the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to protect the republic from people like Trump. Trump is legally barred from the ballot and election officials must follow this constitutional mandate.

    […] The lawsuit seeks to keep Trump off of Minnesota’s March 5 Republican primary ballot and the general election ballot if he wins the GOP nomination.

    Last week, Simon said he doesn’t have the sole authority as Secretary of State to remove Trump from the ballot, but he acknowledged that Minnesota residents have the right under state law to challenge a candidate’s eligibility for office. He said he would honor any court ruling.

    Last week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a national watchdog group, filed a similar lawsuit, asking a Colorado state court to issue an order disqualifying Trump’s candidacy under the 14th Amendment, and barring Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold from taking any action that would allow him to access the ballot, including in the state’s GOP primary, which, like Minnesota’s, is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5.

    […] A number of prominent legal scholars on both the right and left have said the 14th Amendment does disqualify Trump.

    As a reminder, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, reads as follows:

    No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

    The New York Times reported last month that two distinguished conservative law professors, William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas, both members of the right-wing Federalist Society, have concluded that Trump is ineligible to be president under the 14th Amendment.

    And conservative J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appellate court judge, joined liberal Laurence Tribe, a professor emeritus of constitutional law at at Harvard University, in co-authoring an August article in The Atlantic titled: “The Constitution Prohibits Trump From Ever Being President Again.” […]

    Trump’s ridiculous response:

    […] Like Election Interference, it is just another ‘trick’ being used by the Radical Left Communists, Marxists, and Fascists, to again steal an Election that their candidate, the WORST, MOST INCOMPETENT, & MOST CORRUPT President in U.S. history, is incapable of winning in a Free and Fair Election.

  4. says

    This week in (actual) fake news

    CLAIM: COVID-19 only spikes during election seasons.

    THE FACTS: There is no connection between rising COVID-19 cases and the electoral process, epidemiology experts say. Since the first U.S. case was confirmed in January 2020, the virus has spiked near the end of the year, but also during summer, nowhere near major elections. But some on social media are falsely claiming the virus is a tool to control election outcomes. […] “It’s Called Election Interference by Mail In Ballots & the Machines. Wake-Up America.” […] While COVID-19 hospital admissions are currently rising — there were 18,871 for the week ending Sept. 2 — they’re a far cry from past peaks, like the 44,000 weekly hospital admissions in early January, the nearly 45,000 in late July 2022, or the 150,000 admissions during the omicron surge of January 2022. — Associated Press writer Melissa Goldin in New York contributed this report.

    CLAIM: The U.S. accidentally sent Ukraine $6 billion in military aid.

    THE FACTS: The claim misinterprets an announcement by a Pentagon spokesperson in June that the agency had overestimated the value of weapons it sent to Ukraine over the past two years by $6.2 billion. That meant more could be sent in the future without asking Congress for additional funds, not that billions of dollars had been sent in error. A recent episode of comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast has resurfaced the erroneous claim. […] Sabrina Singh, a spokesperson for the agency, said during the June press conference that the Pentagon had overestimated the value of weapons it sent to Ukraine since the start of the war by $6.2 billion, resulting in a surplus for future security packages. A detailed review of the accounting error found that replacement costs, rather than book value, were used to calculate the value of equipment pulled from Pentagon stocks for Ukraine, according to Singh. […] The Pentagon this month announced a new $600 million package of long-term aid to Ukraine, which will provide funding for an array of weapons and other equipment. The assistance comes from money previously approved by Congress. […] — Melissa Goldin

    CLAIM: Bill Gates is backing efforts to cut down 70 million acres of trees in order to fight global warming.

    THE FACTS: There is no plan to cut down 70 million acres of trees. The U.S. Forest Service has a ten-year plan to reduce the risk of wildfires across millions of acres of forests in the American West through a combination of controlled burns, selective tree culls and other forest management strategies. Gates, separately, is among the investors in a company proposing to help thin out California’s densely packed forests and bury tree remains in Nevada. But many social media users are sharing a video that features a woman speaking in front of a screenshot of a story on a website known to publish fake or misleading content. “Bill Gates Pushes Plan to Chop Down 70 Million Acres of Trees to ‘Fight Global Warming’,” the story headline reads. […] Gates, through his Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which invests in companies developing technology and other innovative solutions to global warming, is among a group of funders that have committed $6.6 million to the company, according to a December press release. […] The July article states the U.S. Forest Service aims to “thin” some 70 million acres of densely packed forest in the American West in order to mitigate the risk of severe wildfires. “As written, this does not mean cutting down all trees in those acres and was subsequently misconstrued, likely leading to the narrative that came across your radar,” Sedlak wrote in an email. What the Forest Service and Kodama are actually seeking to do is known as “ ecological forest thinning,” in which certain, at-risk trees are culled from dense patches of forest in order to allow mature ones to thrive, he explained. […] — Associated Press writer Philip Marcelo in New York contributed this report.

    CLAIM: A new study by Australian researchers shows that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine caused vaccine acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or “VAIDS.”

    THE FACTS: VAIDS is not a real condition, experts say. The co-authors of the study say their work is being misrepresented and doesn’t show that the vaccine is harmful to the immune system. The false claim is spreading as U.S. health officials recommend most Americans receive an updated COVID-19 vaccine. […] A post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, sharing the blog post relayed a quote from it, claiming: “‘Finally, we have scientific confirmation that vaccination against COVID-19 causes a marked decrease in immunity to heterologous pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi.’ A condition known as ‘VAIDS’ vaccine-induced AIDS.” The blog post references a study published in August in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, “BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccination in children alters cytokine responses to heterologous pathogens and Toll-like receptor agonists.” But that study’s findings are being misrepresented. Dr. Andrés Noé, a co-author of the study and researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia, pointed to a statement the authors published responding to such claims. “It has been brought to our attention that our recently published study is being misinterpreted and misused to claim that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous,” the statement reads. “Our research does not provide any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful to the immune system of children or adults. In particular, it is incorrect to suggest that our study results show that COVID-19 vaccines ‘suppress the immune system.’” […] “On the contrary, they suggest that vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 may provide protection against other infectious diseases, something that would have to be examined in another study,” he said in an email. “These ‘off-target’ effects of vaccination are viewed as beneficial, not as a risk.”

  5. says

    Fact Checking:

    […] Trump made a spate of false and misleading comments about immigration, foreign policy, abortion and more in a wide-ranging interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker that aired Sunday morning.

    “I have all the facts,” he said at one point, falsely claiming that the 2020 election was rigged and there was broad evidence of it.

    […] Trump claimed there were “millions of illegal immigrants coming into our country, flooding our cities, flooding the countryside. I think the number is going to be 15 million people by the time you end this, by the end of this year. I think the real number is going to be 15 million people.”

    Border crossings are up significantly in the last two years. In fiscal year 2023 so far, U.S. border patrol apprehended or turned away more than 2.5 million people. In fiscal year 2022, border crossings topped 2.7 million, breaking the previous record by more than a million. Because some migrants make multiple border crossings, these numbers are slightly higher than the true total of immigrants at the southern border.

    Still, there’s no evidence that 15 million people will cross the border this year. […]

    Speaking about immigration, Trump also said there was a surge in terrorists crossing the border […]

    “I saw some statistics and it said in 2019, there were no terrorists. They caught no terrorists,” he said. “And now this year, it’s a record number like they’ve never seen before.”

    Trump is right that border patrol is seeing an uptick of encounters with people on the terrorist watchlist at the southern border, but there were more such encounters in 2019, when he was president.

    The number of all people, including U.S. citizens, on the terrorist watchlist who were stopped at the southern border as of July of this fiscal year was 216, compared with 165 in all of fiscal year 2022.

    But the number of border crossers on the watchlist was higher in fiscal year 2019 — during the Trump administration — at 280 individuals.

    […] There is extensive proof that the 2020 election was not marred by fraud, but Trump nonetheless said more than a dozen times in his interview that the election was “rigged.”

    “If this were ever before a court, we would win so easy. There is so much evidence that the election was rigged,” he said at one point.

    Trump and his supporters brought more than 50 lawsuits aimed at overturning the results of the election; none were successful in overturning the results.

    Trump said said there was proof of fraud in “2000 Mules” and tapes of “ballot stuffing,” referring by name to the widely debunked film by conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, which showed people depositing multiple ballots into drop boxes in Atlanta’s suburbs. According to the Associated Press, a Georgia State Election Board investigation determined that they were following the law and submitting ballots for themselves and family members who lived with them.

    […]“Things are not going right now very well for the consumer. Bacon is up five times. Food is up horribly — worse than energy,” Trump said.

    […] In U.S. cities on average, the cost of sliced bacon is up by about 12% from the end of Trump’s term in office

    […] Trump’s claim linking his tax cuts to higher revenue is belied by independent studies. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the law would raise the deficit by $1.4 trillion in its first decade, even after factoring its boost to economic growth. When debt service costs are included, that deficit figure grows to $1.9 trillion. And those numbers will continue to grow if the temporary tax cut in Trump’s tax law are extended.

    […] His argument that the national debt rose only because of Covid-19 pressures is false. The national debt rose each year during the Trump presidency — in 2017, 2018 and 2019 — before the pandemic hit in 2020 […] Trump never seriously pursued a deficit-reduction deal over his four years.

    […] “They don’t report about the war anymore,” he continued. “You don’t find much reporting. That means that Ukraine’s losing. Okay? I see very little reporting from NBC, your network. I see very little reporting from NBC, ABC, from CBS, from anyone about the war.”

    This is demonstrably false. In the last two weeks alone, NBC News has published dozens of stories and broadcasts on all platforms about the Ukraine war, including Richard Engel’s exclusive interview with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Yahidne, Ukraine, which aired on NBC News’ Nightly News, and a 60-minute NBC News NOW documentary following the lives of five Ukrainian mothers.

    CBS News and ABC News have had dozens of articles and videos on their websites, too.

    Doesn’t matter how much Trump is fact-checked, even in real time by Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press,” he still has a platform on which to bloviate and lie his ass off. His base believes him. His base does not hear or see fact-checking. They tune it out. I am amazed that Trump is still getting away with this shit. I think that, for many people, it must be easier to believe him than it is to check the facts.

  6. says

    The Ken Paxton Verdict Is Not the Vindication Republicans Want, by Rachel Monroe

    New Yorker link

    The Texas attorney general was acquitted of corruption charges, but the trial further damaged the Republican brand.

    In 2018, when Ken Paxton ran for reëlection as Texas’s attorney general, he was under state and federal indictments for securities fraud, and he also had a reputation for pettier malfeasance. Justin Nelson, his Democratic opponent, decided to make Paxton’s questionable ethical judgment central to his campaign. “I really just tried to ridicule the dude, and highlight the base venality of the corruption,” Nelson told me recently. Not long before the election, Nelson’s campaign obtained security-camera footage from 2013 of the entrance to the courthouse in Collin County, where Paxton lives. In the grainy video, Paxton, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase, spies a Montblanc pen that someone has left behind at a metal detector. Paxton slips the thousand-dollar pen into his pocket, then walks away. (After a sheriff’s deputy contacted him a few days later, Paxton returned the pen, saying he took it by mistake.) The video was widely viewed; Paxton won the election anyway, by three points.

    Paxton has long been dogged by allegations of fraud, corruption, and general impropriety—his state securities-fraud charges date from 2015—but, until recently, he seemed impervious to them. (He pleaded not guilty to the state charges, and no trial date has been set.) In October, 2020, eight of Paxton’s ex-employees, all high-level staffers in the Texas attorney general’s office, accused their former boss of bribery, abuse of office, and other federal and state crimes. Last fall, Paxton was reëlected again, this time by a margin of nearly ten points.

    In the past six months, though, it seemed as though there might be a remarkable turn in Paxton’s political standing. In May, after a secret investigation into the allegations laid out by the whistle-blowers, the Republican-controlled Texas House overwhelmingly voted to impeach him. More than seventy per cent of the Republicans voted in favor of impeachment, including every House member from Paxton’s home county. […]

    For two weeks, Paxton was on trial in the Texas Senate […] In the lead-up to the vote, Paxton’s supporters attempted to link his fate to that of Donald Trump. “This feels a lot like what they’ve tried to do to President Trump,” Jonathan Stickland, the head of Defend Texas Liberty, a pac that supports far-right candidates, said on Steve Bannon’s show. Paxton denied wrongdoing and one of his lawyers called the impeachment a “political witch hunt.”

    […] the case against Paxton was both tawdry and consequential, spanning everything from illicit Uber rides to bribery—in the form of a home renovation—and accusations about Paxton’s “bizarre, obsessive” focus on using the power of the state to help a friend, the prominent real-estate developer Nate Paul. […] (One of the most-anticipated witnesses, a woman with whom Paxton was reportedly having an affair, did not end up testifying.) […]

    The trial was presided over by the state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, a political ally of Paxton’s. (Patrick, a former talk-show host with no formal legal training, seemed occasionally befuddled by the lawyerly jargon.) The two attorneys leading the prosecution, Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin, had never worked together before, […] DeGuerin and Hardin, who are both in their early eighties, have played a role in many of Texas’s most scandalous events, […] As prosecutors, both men affected the role of fond but stern country grandfathers. […]

    The testimony was at times dramatic, and the prosecution emphasized that the witnesses testifying against Paxton were not motivated by partisanship. […] On Saturday, Paxton was acquitted of the sixteen charges against him, in a largely party-line vote. [snipped history that included Paxton’s upbringing and education]

    […] While in office, Paxton aligned himself with an increasingly reactionary evangelical faction. As that cohort came to dominate Republican politics in Texas and across the nation, Paxton “rode that wave impeccably,” Henson said.

    […] Under Paxton, the attorney general’s office has issued guidance classifying gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse and supported legislation that incentivizes private citizens to sue anyone who helped someone get an abortion. Paxton has said that he would back Texas’s anti-sodomy law if the Supreme Court revisited Lawrence v. Texas. He has also been a key defender of Donald Trump. On January 6, 2021, Paxton spoke at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol, with Angela by his side. “Because we’re here today, the message goes on: We will not quit fighting,” he said. “We’re Texans. We’re Americans. And we’re not quitting.” He would go on to blame that afternoon’s violence on Antifa, and to spearhead a failed lawsuit that sought to overturn the election.

    […] Soon after taking over as attorney general, Paxton fired high-ranking employees and replaced them with aides with far-right pedigrees.

    […] The impeachment charges stemmed from Paxton’s relationship with Nate Paul, the developer. […] In 2018, Paul’s businesses began to default on reportedly hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of loans. The next year, his office and home were raided by the F.B.I. (In June, Paul was indicted on eight counts of lying to financial institutions in order to get loans. According to the indictment, he provided crudely doctored financial statements indicating, for example, that an account held $18.5 million when it actually held only twelve thousand dollars. Paul had previously denied wrongdoing in the case.)

    […] To explain why Paxton would go to such lengths to support Paul, the prosecution offered two theories: First, that Paul had hired a woman whom Paxton allegedly was involved with, and was helping to enable the affair. […] Second, that Paul paid for renovations to the Paxtons’ home […]

    Whatever the motivation, during the spring and summer of 2020, Paxton allegedly went to unusual lengths to assist Paul, according to the House investigation and witness testimony. He arranged meetings between Paul and top officials in his office, and sought to help Paul obtain documents that laid out the evidence against him, including the names of confidential sources.

    […] By September, Paxton had concluded that his employees were not giving Paul’s complaints the attention that they merited. He hired an outside counsel, without informing his deputies […] Even after some of the whistle-blowers made the broad outline of their complaints public, in a wrongful-termination lawsuit, in 2020, the fallout was limited. In the last two years, Paxton’s job approval among Republicans remained reasonably high; his alliance with Trump seemed to overshadow the scandals playing out in his office. In February, 2023, Paxton agreed to a three-million-dollar settlement in the wrongful-termination case. “I have chosen this path to save taxpayer dollars and ensure my third term as Attorney General is unburdened by unnecessary distractions,” he said in a statement.

    […] Paxton’s alliance with Trump, and with the maga wing of the party, remained strong. This summer, Paxton’s supporters poured money into a fund dedicated to defending him.

    […] Although Paxton will resume his position as attorney general (he had been suspended since the vote to impeach in May), his legal troubles are not over. He still faces state securities-fraud charges, and there may be further fallout from his association with Nate Paul.

    Paxton’s acquittal is further evidence that the Republican Party is captive to its most extreme voters. […]

    “From a very narrow partisan perspective, it’s almost better for the Democrats if he’s acquitted,” Justin Nelson, the former Democratic candidate, told me before the vote. “Then the entire Republican Party is tarred with this corruption, and you can’t separate it out.” ♦

    More at the link. I snipped lot, and I just presented excerpts.

  7. says

    Ukraine Update: Give Ukraine everything it needs, and promise it all at once

    The United States has announced individual aid packages as they are formulated and shipped, leading to weekly or twice-monthly announcements. This has allowed the U.S. to send whatever it is that Ukraine needs in that particular moment—heavy on anti-tank and anti-air missiles early on, sophisticated air defenses over the winter, to mostly artillery shells and rocket ammunition today.

    Every once in a while, a major new weapons system makes an appearance, be it HIMARS rocket artillery, Patriot air defenses, M2 infantry fighting vehicles, or M1 Abrams tanks. Maybe F16 fighter jets will make that list someday.

    Thing is, while the total amount of aid is set in advance by congressional authorization, the piecemeal announcements are becoming a political and practical problem. It’s time to promise it all, to give Ukraine the certainty it needs to plan its future operations, to shut up the pro-Putin MAGA seditionists who are trying to make Ukraine aid a political rallying cry, and to let Russia know that waiting for the 2024 presidential election isn’t a viable strategy. Donald Trump won’t bail him out.

    The Freedom Caucus is making Ukraine a key tenet of their government shutdown efforts. At a Family Research Council gathering a few days ago, arch-conservative Rep. Chip Roy got the biggest applause when he said, “We cannot continue to have a blank check going to Ukraine without dealing with what we need to do here at home first.” That got a bigger audience reaction than complaints about the deficit, crying about the “woke” military, anti-immigrant nonsense, b.s. about “weaponizing” the Department of Justice against Donald Trump, and anti-vaccine rhetoric.

    Reiterating: of all the current MAGA issues, including Donald Trump, anti-Ukraine sentiment got the biggest applause line.

    We cannot underestimate how quickly that will spread among the GOP faithful, and it won’t be long before it’s the mainstream party position. There’s a reason the Mitt Romneys are dropping like flies from the Republican Party. The Freedom Caucus has vowed to oppose any new government funding that includes Ukraine aid.

    But there’s a more pressing consideration—winning the war.

    Absent a coup or unexpected death, this war won’t end until Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decides to end it. As of now, he clearly hopes to fatigue Ukraine’s allies, outlasting Western resolve. And no country is more important in that calculation than the United States.

    To Putin’s clear delight, Republicans appear set on re-nominating virulent Ukraine-hating Trump. It’s easy to forget that Trump was initially impeached over his efforts to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, offering Javelin anti-tank guided missiles in exchange for a fake investigation into Hunter Biden. Trump wants the U.S. out of NATO. His re-ascension to the presidency would single-handedly pull Putin’s balls out of the fire, giving him a victory that he hasn’t earned.

    As such, Putin has no incentive to end the war until after the 2024 presidential election. And trickling out aid packages further underscores the transient nature of the aid.

    That’s why it’s time to go big, now, when there are still enough Republicans in the House and Senate willing to do the right thing on Ukraine. Pass the big aid package, yes, but then announce everything. Announce a delivery package so big, that Putin can’t count on Trump to bail him out. A package so big, that Putin understands the futility of his war. A package so big, that Ukraine’s Western allies are emboldened to follow suit.

    So what would that look like? Congress is currently debating a $24 billion aid package. Imagine if its passage was followed by this announcement:
    – 500 M1 Abrams tanks ($5 billion if new, including maintenance equipment).
    – 1,000 M2 Bradleys ($5.5 billion if new, but less since they’re surplus).
    – 1,000 M113 armored personnel carriers (Ancient, cost is near-zero).
    – 2,000 Mine-resistant armored vehicles (US has tens of thousands in service, many older variants being phased out).
    – 10,000 Humvees (US has around 160,000 of them, and plans to keep 50,000 after replacing most with the new JLTV. Surplus Hummers are cost-negligible. Send them all to Ukraine).
    – 100 F16s ($6.3 billion if new. I don’t know how many surplus F16s the U.S. has, but with over 2,200 F16s in service, and the U.S. awaiting deliveries of another 1,400 latest-generation F35s, there are plenty of them available to gift to Ukraine).

    Add all that up, even using new-equipment prices, and we’re still well under the $24 billion, leaving plenty for air defenses, ammunition, spare parts, and other combat support equipment and vehicles. And that doesn’t even take into consideration unspent money from the existing authorization, reportedly still in the billions […]

    Furthermore, execute contracts with industry for continued deliveries of HIMARS rockets, artillery shells, anti-tank and anti-air missiles, and all the other logistical needs for Ukraine’s armed forces. Lock it all in so Trump can’t undo anything if the worst-case scenario happens.

    Lock all of this in, and Putin will have a clearer picture of the gravity of his situation. Even now, Russia is barely hanging on to its ill-gotten territories. Its navy is being chased out of the Black Sea by a nation without a real navy. It is losing the artillery war. Ukraine has better drones, and it has proven the ability to strike Russian cities, including Moscow, in the inevitable winter missile war. It won’t be a one-sided affair this year.

    If we signal that Ukraine will have the tools it needs to continue retaking territory, Putin’s tone might suddenly change. Make this announcement now, and pro-Putin MAGA a-holes will have less material to work with over the coming year, as they continuously seek to undermine support for Ukraine. And for Ukraine, a concrete list of incoming equipment will allow it to better plan the equipping, training, and deployment of forces in the year ahead.

    Heck, we could easily double those amounts above using more realistic pricing for the surplus gear, getting Ukraine that much closer to victory (understanding it would take years to train enough crews to operate all that equipment and establish the logistical chains). But first things first. It’s time for President Joe Biden to signal that the U.S. is serious about helping Ukraine win the war, and stop with this piecemeal approach that has served no one’s interests, including Biden’s.

    Biden and Zelenskyy will meet at the White House on Thursday. For some reason, news reports continue to insist that the U.S. won’t announce the possible shipment of ATACMS long-range missiles until after the visit, which seems utterly idiotic. Freakin’ announce those things already.

    It’s been distressing seeing Biden go from one of the most aggressive supporters of Ukraine, early in the war last year, to one of the most timid today. “The U.S. official told Axios there is still a debate within the Biden administration about the supply of ATACMS,” reported Axios, which makes one wonder … who the heck is advising Biden against this, and why hasn’t Biden shut that down already.

    The weaker Russia gets, the more Biden’s advisors urge increasing restraint, rather than push the advantage and aim for a pre-election victory (imagine the TV optics of that!). What are they so afraid of? A fragmented Russia? A desperate Putin with nothing to lose? Someone taking power that might be worse than Putin?

    Meanwhile, once-timid European allies like France and Germany are now among Ukraine’s most aggressive supporters (not counting the Baltic nations and Poland, which understand Russia’s dangers more than anyone else).

    It sucks when freakin’ Sen. Tom Cotton is right on an issue, and Biden is wrong. [Tweet at the link]

    To be clear, most Democratic senators are also aboard. We actually have mostly bipartisan agreement on Ukraine, and yet here is Biden, refusing to embrace it all.

    More Ukraine updates coming soon.

  8. says

    Anti-Vax Aaron Rodgers Thinks The Sounds Of Dolphins Boning Can Heal His Achilles Tendon

    Aaron Rodgers, the American football guy who is famous for opposing vaccines and saying other dumb shit, made a real splash this week when he announced that he was in the process of repairing his Achilles tendon with some fairly unusual methods.

    In an interview on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday, Rodgers explained that he was exploring a variety of “modalities” — including the sweet, soothing sounds of dolphins fucking.

    “There’s ideas that some of the noises from the dolphins when they’re love-making, the frequency of that is actually healing to the body,” Rodgers said.

    Well, there are a lot of ideas about a lot of things.

    Modalities, for the unfamiliar, is one of those naturopathy/homeopathy terms meant to make nonsense seem very scientific and serious and real. Basically it just means trying a variety of expensive sugar pills and (I guess) dolphin sex noises until one of them does something to you in some way.

    This doesn’t seem to be a common belief, even among the Dolphin Woo faithful. There are a lot of “dolphin healing songs” available on YouTube, but none of them actually specify that they are dolphin “love-making” noises. [video at the link]

    Still, it’s not surprising, given the number of people who think dolphins are magic and the less supernatural fact that dolphins are known to enjoy recreational sex.

    There have, in fact, been a not-insignificant number of people who have been into sex with dolphins, notably Margaret Howe Lovatt, a linguist who worked with the Godfather of Dolphin Woo himself, John C. Lilly, trying to teach dolphins how to communicate with humans. There was also another guy, Malcolm Brenner, author of the book Wet Goddess, who had a sexual relationship with a dolphin named Dolly back in the ‘70s.

    However, it seems pretty messed up to listen to the sounds of dolphin sex to heal yourself in light of the fact that dolphins are notoriously vicious rapists with prehensile penises like monkey tails that they can use to drag you down to their dolphin rape caves. […]

    Incidentally, dolphins are (for real) very good at quickly healing themselves and scientists are studying the way that certain proteins they produce could help humans heal as well. This is very different, of course, from thinking that listening to them banging is going to heal your Achilles tendon or do any other kind of magic to you whatsoever.

  9. says

    Thousands of climate activists march in NYC, calling on Biden to declare climate emergency

    Tens of thousands of protestors kicked off a march Sunday in New York City, advocating for an end to fossil fuels while calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency.

    Hundreds of organizations, climate advocates, actors and political leaders attended the March to End Fossil Fuels ahead of New York’s Climate Week, which coincides with a special United Nations summit Wednesday focused on the climate crisis.

    […] Organizers estimated around 75,000 individuals participated in Sunday’s march, including actors like Ethan Hawke, Kevin Bacon and Susan Sarandon and political leaders including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

    Youth protest group Fridays for Future said thousands of youth participated in the march, aiming their message directly at Biden.

    “We are watching you approve pipelines, and we are watching as you delay declaring a climate emergency,” […] “We are watching as the Weather Channel repeats the same terrifying message, that this year, this week, this day, is the hottest ever recorded. We are watching our futures disappear, because how can we be the next president or author or scientist on a dying planet?”

    “We hold the power of the people, the power you need to win this election,” Emma Buretta, 17, of Brooklyn with Fridays for Future, told The Associated Press. “If you want to win in 2024, if you do not want the blood of my generation to be on your hands. End fossil fuels.”

    […] The march comes days before United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will host a special Climate Ambition Summit in New York City Wednesday, with the criteria that attending countries present their plans for phasing out fossil fuels and committing to no new oil, gas and coal.

    The White House said Biden and leaders of China, the United Kingdom, Russia or France — all major developers and users of fossil fuels — will not be attending the summit, according to the AP.

    Last month, Biden said he has “in practice” declared a national climate emergency, though he has not actually announced such a declaration. A national emergency declaration would allow other powers related to climate change, including potentially using the Defense Production Act to provide loans to bolster climate-energy sources and prevent oil exports. […]

  10. says

    Followup to comment 10.

    More Ukraine updates:

    [Tweet and images at the link: An unusual update on the Kakhovka Reservoir. Against expectations of it remaining deserted, recent on-site observations and satellite imagery have revealed an interesting development – nature is recovering rapidly as vegetation transforms the area into a flourishing reedbed]

    Not sure why this is “against expectations,” but it’s natural that this rich soil (full of fish poop and, well, dead fish) would prove such fertile ground. As of now, this is terrain is reportedly bog-like, not passable by vehicles, but as vegetation takes root and the ground continues to dry out, that might change. The winter freeze certainly will open up possibilities.

    The current narrative is that nothing can cross there because advancing Ukrainian troops would be too exposed. But that is predicated on Russia’s continued ability to lay down artillery. Given Ukraine’s aggressive counter-battery efforts, I wouldn’t consider that a given.

    Drones, on the other hand, would be a real challenge, though that’s the case whether it happens on the outskirts of Verbove or Robotyne, or across this open space. Drones give both sides full view of their enemy’s advances. No one is getting surprised along the contact line.

    So the actual question is, can Ukraine bypass some of the fortifications on the way to Tokmak and Melitopol by cutting across this new terrain using small unit tactics and crossing at night. Who the heck knows.
    Speaking of drones, this is a one-day snapshot of confirmed destroyed equipment on both sides. [Google Docs spreadsheet at the link]

    Almost all of that equipment has been destroyed by drones, on both sides. And it’s like that every single day.

    Whoever figures out how to best disable enemy drones will have a ginormous advantage.

    Also, if I’m Taiwan, I’m investing in a million drones and anti-air and anti-ship missiles. China has to be looking at this drone carnage and wondering how it would get through a Taiwanese drone and missile screen.
    Goddam it: [Tweet and video at the link: A Ukrainian soldier made his comrades promise that if he were to die in battle, they would gather at his grave and sing to him one last time. Today, his brothers in arms kept that promise… Rest easy soldier, your sacrifice is not in vain! 🇺🇦]

  11. says

    Out of curiosity, I decided to approximate how badly the Black Sea Fleet is getting mauled by Ukraine, a country without a Navy, in percentage terms in order to get some perspective on how such losses would go over in the US. I could be over or under counting by a ship or two depending upon who you believe, but here are the numbers I used.

    In 2014, the Black Sea Fleet had roughly 89 vessels. It consisted of 71 surface combat ships, 7 submarines, and 11 support and auxiliary ships.

    From what I can gather, it has since lost 14 surface combat ships and 1 sub. In terms of percentages that’s 19.2% of total combat vessels, 19.7% of its surface ships and 14.2% of its subs.

    Could you imagine how well that would have gone over in the US if the Fifth Fleet suffered 20% losses during the Iraq War?

    As Darth Putin put it the other day, the Black Sea Fleet is now the definition of a sunk cost fallacy. So long as this war goes on, it will continue to suffer losses that cannot be replaced.

    As Ukraine’s capabilities improve, no where, including ports, will be safe on the Black Sea for the Fleet. Its ships currently operating in the Mediterranean will have to think twice about returning home.

    Putin is fighting to retain a naval base that is pretty much unusable so long as he keeps fighting for it. It’s just another disaster for the Master Strategist.


  12. says

    TFG Admits Plans to Overturn Election Were His Own Plans

    […] Somehow, in his deranged brain, Trump figured now was a good time to admit to being the person behind what ultimately became an insurrection attempt.

    “It was my decision, but I listened to some people,” [TFG] told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview that aired Sunday.

    “You know who I listen to? Myself. I saw what happened,” [TFG] said.

    “You hire them, you’ve never met these people, you get a recommendation, they turn out to be RINOs, or they turn out to be not so good. In many cases, I didn’t respect them,” [TFG] said. “But I did respect others. I respected many others that said the election was rigged.”

    […] They are the ones that are indicted right along with him, including Cheseboro, Eastman, and Powell, to name a few. Those people, in his eyes, were “respectable”.

    […] I can only imagine his current crop of soon-to-be-previous lawyers love this admission on a national stage, on TV no less. Even better, this is one of the many things he has pleaded “not guilty” to in court. Nothing quite says, “I’m innocent!” than admitting the exact opposite in an interview.

  13. says

    Followup to comment 15.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    He prefaced what he said so that it amounts to nothing new that can be used in court, in my opinion. What he did do that limits his options is to say that he didn’t listen to his attorneys who told him that he lost the election.

    I don’t think that this interview changes anything that Jack Smith will do. He already has the goods.
    Whether he did it on his own or under the advice of others who he “respected” (i.e. who agreed with him), he did it. “Under the advice of counsel” doesn’t even have the pretense of authority that “I vass only followink orders” has […]
    “Many people are telling me, ‘Sir, the election was rigged.’”

    That follows the standard Trump format indicating that what follows is a lie.
    I believe it’s been said before: “I’m innocent because I chose not to believe my attorney general, the FBI, multiple courts, multiple lawyers, multiple advisors, multiple secretaries of state, even Fox News, and instead chose to believe this other handful of people whose opinion I liked a lot better”—ain’t gonna fly as a defense.

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    “But I did respect others. I respected many others that because they said the election was rigged.”

    textbook confirmation bias.

  15. StevoR says

    The federal government has released figures to try to shut down growing calls from the opposition to consider nuclear power as part of Australia’s future energy mix. Energy Minister Chris Bowen said new analysis showed that using nuclear power to replace retiring coal-fired power stations would cost $387 billion. “When you put the most expensive form of energy into the system, there is a massive cost to pay,” he told RN breakfast.”It’s a unicorn and a fantasy and someone has to pay for them if they are really serious about this plan.”

    The government’s current plan is to invest in clean energy projects through what is known as “Rewiring the Nation” at a cost of $20 billion.The release of the data follows Opposition Leader Peter Dutton describing nuclear power as the “most credible” pathway to reduce emissions. Mr Dutton has suggested small modular reactors (SMR) should be considered but Mr Bowen insists that is not a viable option. “[It is] an idea which is unproven, with only two [SMRs] operating anywhere in the world, neither of them commercially — one in Russia, one in China,” he said.”It strikes me as utterly bizarre that the opposition is hanging its hat on this unproven technology as the answer to our admittedly challenging task of reducing emissions and keeping reliability, but I can’t think of a worse fit for Australia than nuclear power.”

    Source :

  16. StevoR says

    One of the taxpayers helped by Australian Taxation Office (ATO) whistleblower Richard Boyle has spoken out for the first time, describing the pursuit of the person who gave him a lifeline as “insanity”…(snip).. Mr Boyle became an internal whistleblower in October 2017 but when his complaints were ignored, he went public and told Four Corners about a disturbing culture at the ATO which included his area being instructed to use more heavy-handed tactics on taxpayers who owed the tax office money. Mr Boyle’s wife, Louise Beaston, has also spoken to 7.30 about the couple’s “nightmare”, which began in April 2018 when their home was raided in the early hours of the morning by ATO and Australian Federal Police officers.

    Source :

  17. StevoR says

    Descendants of Pinjarra massacre survivors hope Voice to Parliament brings healing, truth-telling

    Ms Martin said her support for constitutional change was dependent on one condition as Australia edges closer to the historic Voice to Parliament referendum. She said a successful Yes campaign must lead the country to truth-telling and healing. “They tried to commit genocide and dehumanise us,” she said. “In our family, we tell the truth, and we pass down the truth from generation to generation.” With referendum day less than a month away, Ms Martin said she was undecided about the Voice but insisted it would need to help Australians understand the country’s history and heal old wounds.”If we’re going to have a Voice with truth-telling, I think it’s a good thing,” she said.

    In 1834, a band of soldiers, police and colonists led by Governor James Stirling, the leader of the Swan River Colony, attacked a group of Bindjareb Noongar people on the banks of the Murray River, killing many of them.

    Source :

  18. birgerjohansson says

    [A very rich guy ] who owns a social media company accuses [ a famous Jew] of wanting to destroy western civilisation.
    I leave it to you to figure out which people I am writing about.

  19. Reginald Selkirk says

    Majority Leader Chuck Schumer loosens Senate’s informal dress code

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has quietly changed the Senate’s informal dress code to allow senators to wear whatever they want on the floor, a person with direct knowledge said.

    A notice went out to the Senate sergeant-at-arms and relevant staff members late Friday, and the change will go into effect starting Monday, the source said.

    The change would let Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., who is often seen wearing a hoodie and baseball shorts, wear his casual attire on the Senate floor whenever he wants. Fetterman, who was elected in last year’s midterm elections, wore a suit and a tie at his swearing-in in January.

    However, he has worn his casual clothes after he returned to the Senate following treatment for clinical depression this year…

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    Hunter Biden sues the IRS over tax disclosures after agent testimony

    Hunter Biden has filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service, arguing that two agents violated his right to privacy when they publicly aired his tax information as they pressed claims that a federal investigation of him had been improperly handled.

    The lawsuit filed Monday says that his personal tax details shared during congressional hearings and interviews was not allowed by federal whistleblower protections…

  21. Reginald Selkirk says

    North Carolina Republicans seek control over state and local election boards ahead of 2024

    Republicans who control the North Carolina legislature with veto-proof majorities are close to wresting supervision of elections from the governor and the governor’s party — almost always the Democrats for over a century.

    A bill that could reach Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk this week would, among other changes, take away from him and future governors the power to appoint members of the State Board of Elections. It would give that authority to legislative leaders instead.

    The legislation also could lead to the ouster of the top elections administrator ahead of the next presidential election in a state where former President Donald Trump squeezed out a razor-thin win over Democrat Joe Biden in 2020. North Carolina was Trump’s narrowest victory that year, raising hopes among Democrats that Biden could win there in 2024.

    GOP attempts since 2016 to erode Cooper’s election board power have been struck down by courts or defeated by voters in a statewide referendum.

    Cooper plans to veto the bill. But Republican majorities are large enough to override his veto, and Republican justices now have a majority on the state Supreme Court. Here is what the Republican legislation would do:…

  22. says

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

    The Russian state news agency RIA reported on Monday that a series of blasts had been heard at the headquarters of the Russian-installed local authorities in the Russian-held city of Donetsk, in east Ukraine.

    The city’s Russian-installed mayor said in a statement on Telegram that central Donetsk was under fire, Reuters reports. These claims are yet to be independently verified.

    Noel on Tafkat:

    Big explosions in occupied Donetsk at this moment. It looks like the administration building of the self proclaimed ‘DPR’ is struck.

    Video at the link.

    Timothy Snyder in the Guardian – “Elon Musk likes to think he saved us from Armageddon. He’s just brought it closer”:

    …The oligarchs will be cowards, oriented to fantasies of escape to New Zealand or Mars or immortality or whatever, disinvested from the hard choices the rest of us have to make amid the crises they are making worse. Among other awful things, Putin’s war in Ukraine was oligarchical whimsy, based on the fantasy that Ukraine does not exist and its people wish to be Russian. There are things so stupid that you must be a multibillionaire to believe them; but when it all goes wrong, another multibillionaire will offer even more stupid succour, as Musk has done for Putin.

    It is hard to think of a more dangerous idea than the one that people like Musk and Putin are heroes saving the rest of us from our own limitations. The plotline about the oligarchical supermen is indeed fictional, but it does real harm in the real world.

  23. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    People’s rights in Russia have substantially worsened since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year, a top UN expert said on Monday.

    The UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in Russia, Mariana Katzarova, said Moscow had launched a systematic crackdown on critics since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

    “The situation of human rights in the Russian Federation has significantly deteriorated since its invasion of Ukraine,” Katzarova said in her first report.

    The dramatic degradation came after “the situation had already been on a steady decline over the past two decades,” she added.

    Last April, Katzarovabecame the first monitor appointed by the UN human rights council to examine the rights situation in Russia or any permanent member of the UN security council.

    She said Russian authorities had “severely curtailed the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression” and undermined the independence of the judiciary and the guarantees of fair trial.

    According to AFP, Katzarova said sanctions were “being applied arbitrarily against dissenters and force used against peaceful protesters”. She also decried the “persistent use of torture” and sexual violence.

    The report read:

    Both the harshness of recent criminal sentences and the number of people sentenced on politically motivated charges has increased.

    Katzarova said she had been granted no access to Russia, adding that Moscow tried to “obstruct” her work.

    Her findings were based on consultations with more than 60 Russian and international rights groups and individuals, in person, by phone or online, and nearly 100 written submissions.

  24. Reginald Selkirk says

    Donald Trump Wishes ‘Liberal Jews’ a Happy New Year by Accusing Them of Destroying America

    Donald Trump decided to take time during Rosh Hashanah — the start of the Jewish High Holy days and the celebration of the New Year — to blame “liberal Jews” for voting to destroy America and Israel.

    “Just a quick reminder for liberal Jews who voted to destroy America & Israel because you believed in false narratives!,” he wrote on Truth Social on Sunday, presumably referring to the American Jewish support for Joe Biden in the 2020 election. “Let’s hope you learned from your mistake & make better choices moving forward!”

    The leading Republican presidential candidate then shared what appeared to be a flyer boasting of Trump’s record on Israel and pro-Jewish causes. “Wake Up Sheep. What Nazi / Anti Semite ever did this for the Jewish people or Israel?” the flyer reads. The flyer goes on to crow about moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (“no other president had the balls to do it”) and endorsing “Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights” and “over settlements in Judea & Samaria” — also known as the West Bank. The flyer also mentions Trump’s signing the “Never Again” Education Bill into law, which funds Holocaust awareness — which was praised by organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League. “Clearly, one of the Greatest Anti Semites of our time!” the flyer jokes…

  25. says

    Trump turns to Putin for validation (yes, again)

    First, Donald Trump celebrated Vladimir Putin’s embrace of his election messaging. Now the two have linked arms on Trump’s rhetoric about Ukraine, too.

    Given the circumstances, it’s tempting to think Donald Trump would at least try to maintain some rhetorical distance from Russia’s Vladimir Putin. After all, the former American president has been dogged by serious allegations for many years about his benefactor in Moscow, including the fact that the Republican sought, received, benefited from, and lied about Russian assistance that helped elevate him to the White House.

    And yet, for reasons he hasn’t explained, Trump just can’t seem to help himself.

    Last week, for example, the former American president celebrated the fact that Putin was echoing his talking points about the 2024 election and Trump’s multiple criminal indictments. As we discussed soon after, given the atrocities and alleged war crimes Russia is committing in Ukraine, Trump might’ve even considered a stay-off-my-side posture. But Trump instead thought the smart move would be to highlight Putin’s condemnations of the United States and willingness to endorse his conspiratorial nonsense.

    As part of Trump’s “Meet the Press” interview with NBC News’ Kristen Welker, Trump went even further down the same road.

    Former President Donald Trump said Thursday that he appreciated recent praise from Russian leader Vladimir Putin. In an exclusive interview with NBC “Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker, Trump said it meant “what I’m saying is right,” referring to his positions on the war in Ukraine.

    In case anyone’s forgotten, in February 2022, as Putin faced international condemnations, the former American president offered rather enthusiastic praise for the Russian leader, touting Putin’s aggressive moves against Ukraine as “genius” and “very savvy.”

    In the months that followed, Trump repeatedly claimed he had a secret plan to negotiate a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine “within 24 hours,” going so far as to boast that it’d be “easy” to end the crisis.

    It was against this backdrop that the former president told Welker that he still won’t divulge the details of his secret plan — which almost certainly does not exist in reality — except to say that there are “certain things” he would tell Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

    […] Russia’s authoritarian leader recently said, “We surely hear that Mr. Trump says he will resolve all burning issues within several days, including the Ukrainian crisis. We cannot help but feel happy about it.” Evidently, Trump was delighted by the comments.

    “Well, I like that he said that,” he said on “Meet the Press,” adding, “Because that means what I’m saying is right.”

    No, actually it doesn’t. Putin’s validation of Trump’s absurd boasts does not mean Trump is “right”; what it means is that he and his Russian ally have linked arms — yet again. To see an endorsement from the Kremlin as evidence of merit is to abandon any sense of propriety.

    “If you are on the same side as Putin, you might want to rethink your position,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said last week. He wasn’t referring to U.S. policy in Ukraine, but it’s an observation with broad applicability.

  26. says

    The Saudi-Russian (Trumpy) Alliance

    Perhaps many of you simply assume this at this point. But it’s worth saying out loud before we get too much further into the election season. The government of Saudi Arabia is ecstatic about the possible return to power of Donald Trump. And there’s every reason to believe they will use their disproportionate power over oil prices to smooth his return to the White House. Indeed, it’s not just Saudi Arabia. It’s Russia too. The two countries are in a production alliance Bloomberg aptly calls a “crude, inflationary alliance.”

    […] In this article John Authers notes that over the last decade the big moves in oil prices have been driven not by supply and demand but by geopolitics.

    The Saudi Kingdom’s de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman’s coziness with the Trump family is notorious. Meanwhile, if Trump defeats Biden next year that would allow Vladimir Putin to escape the most monumental mistake of his two plus decades in power. We don’t even have to assume a new Trump administration would immediately switch sides or cut off support to Ukraine. Opposition from Congress would probably (maybe?) prevent anything quite so sudden and drastic. But both Ukraine and Russia would know that the clock was ticking on US support for Ukraine. That would greatly increase the odds of some stalemated, frozen conflict like the ones we see around the former Soviet periphery and indeed saw in Ukraine itself from 2014 to 2022.

    Of course, the Saudis put their finger on the scale in 2022 as well. It failed to produce quite the effect they likely wanted. But we can’t ignore the fact that both these governments have huge interests in Joe Biden being defeated next year. Together they can have an immense impact on the price of oil which drives both politically sensitive gas prices as well as complicates the fight against inflation.

  27. says

    Jack Smith Is Going Hard After Trump, Part I
    In a redacted motion unsealed Friday by order of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, Special Counsel Jack Smith is seeking to impose additional restrictions on Donald Trump’s out-of-court statements to prevent him from continuing to attack the legitimacy of the criminal proceedings against him and from tainting the jury pool in DC.

    Of the various filings referred to in today’s Morning Memo, this is probably the one worth reading yourself. It’s a blistering takedown of Trump’s conduct since his indictment, comparing it to his efforts to spread anger and misinformation in the aftermath of the 2020 election (editor’s note: citations removed):

    As set forth in the indictment, after election day in 2020, the defendant launched a disinformation campaign in which he publicly and widely broadcast knowingly false claims that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the presidential election, and that he had actually won. In service of his criminal conspiracies, through false public statements, the defendant sought to erode public faith in the administration of the election and intimidate individuals who refuted his lies. The defendant is now attempting to do the same thing in this criminal case—to undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prejudice the jury pool through disparaging and inflammatory attacks on the citizens of this District, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses.

    Stay tuned for rulings as early as this week from Judge Chutkan on this motion from Smith and on Trump’s motion for her to recuse herself.

    Jack Smith Is Going Hard After Trump, Part II
    A series of court documents were unsealed Friday in the effort by Elon Musk’s Twitter to alert Donald Trump that Special Counsel Jack Smith had a search warrant for his account. In pushing to keep Twitter from tipping off Trump, Smith argued that the disclosure could “could precipitate violence as occurred following the public disclosure of the search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago.” In that instance, a man tried to launch an attack on the FBI field office in Cincinnati before he was later shot and killed while fleeing law enforcement. […]


  28. says

    […] NBC News may have already launched internal investigations into whether Meet The Press staffers including Kristen Welker and executive producer David Gelles have violated NBC News’s own written guidelines in two serious ways by airing Welker’s ‘interview’ with Trump without significant fact-checking or warnings.

    The rules are contained on what is called “The NBC News Employee Handbook” and it prohibits the broadcasting (or if online, the publishing) of provable falsehoods by anyone, on NBC News in any format in which there is insufficient time to confirm those falsehoods and prepare fact-checking, caveats, etc. Obviously a pre-taped interview that provided NBC News three full days to document those falsehoods would constitute circumstances providing that sufficient time.

    There is a second, more remote issue: a fear among some at NBC that the lack of an on-TV fact-check was not mere dereliction but may have been part of the arrangement by which NBC got Trump to appear on their air for the first time in four years.

    […] I still cannot confirm with certainty that these investigations have begun or that they are going to. My sources conflict and I’m not confident I’m going to resolve their disagreements before the story fades behind the next Trump-related journalistic atrocity, so I saw no sense in holding this. What’s new is that the possibility of a deal with Trump to limit fact-checking to almost exclusively online stuff is directly tied to the possibility of an arrangement with the Trump campaign. There were contacts between Welker and senior Trump campaign officials last month in Milwaukee but even those might not be a violation of the NBC News Employee Handbook. Editorial agreements are made all the time (what the interview will be about, who will conduct it, where it will be recorded). The issue only becomes problematic if the agreements themselves (like sabotaging fact-checking) violate the Handbook.

    […] Did NBC News make a deal with Trump’s campaign to make sure that didn’t happen – to NOT materially fact-check him on-the-air during the disastrous Kristen Welker interview? Is NBC News conducting internal investigations, or does it plan to? I do not know for certain the answers to these questions today. I do know they are among many questions being asked inside NBC today, in part because of ONE tweet, and in part because of the awful realization that some sort of illicit pre-arrangement is an almost better explanation […]

    I also know veterans within NBC News are pushing for investigations based on the following timeline: Welker and NBC News reporter Dasha Burns were among a dozen Washington insiders who were quote “wining and dining” with Trump thugs Jason Miller, Steven Cheung and Chris LaCivita at a steakhouse called “Rare” the night before the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee. The dinner was August 22nd, Welker had been named the host-in-waiting for Meet The Press on June 5th, the interview was suddenly announced late in the day last Wednesday, the 13th, conducted on Thursday the 14th. The NBC News Employee handbook would have discouraged the Welker-Burns-Trump Staff dinner but if the reporting on it by Politico is correct – that the news employees who attended paid their own expenses – they would not be guilty of violating the code precluding accepting meals or other gifts or other items of value from a political campaign, politician, or officeholder.

    The more pressing problem is: at exactly 10 AM Eastern yesterday, NBC News posted on its website, a fact check of Welker’s interview. At 10:13 A-M its “Meet The Press” account tweeted this, verbatim: “Former President Trump made a spate of false and misleading comments about immigration, foreign policy, abortion and more in a wide-ranging interview with Meet The Press moderator Kristen Welker.”

    The complication here is that the NBC News Employee handbook requires […] that if NBC knowingly broadcast or publish lies false or misleading comments or information by anyone in any non-live format without a disclaimer or caveat or… a fact-check – they have violated the NBC News Employee codes and are potentially subject to punishment up to and including suspension and termination.

    […] The Meet The Press telecast, of course, skipped anything resembling the online fact-check, and instead had Peter Baker of The New York Times on for a self-rationalizing interview about why NBC News wasn’t committing journalistic suicide by platforming a skilled, practiced, professional, psychopathic liar. The Baker segment amounted to several minutes of the Shrug Emoji, only in a suit.

    Again: I cannot CONFIRM that NBC News is investigating Kristen Welker or Meet The Press Executive Producer David Gelles or anybody else within that unit or the news division as a whole for violating the written NBC News journalistic guidelines. I do know there is reason to believe those internal NBC News guidelines HAVE been violated.

    Amazingly, that is the GOOD news for NBC and Meet The Press and Welker. […] The NBC disasters sat there for nearly 72 hours after the interview was recorded and they were STILL put on the air. THAT is an extinction-level event. Reviewing the interview is like reaching for a book on the top shelf and two dozen of them falling on your head, one by one. Followed by the shelf. Trump lies and says Biden “told the justice department to indict me” and instead of pushing back in any way, and without NBC putting up any graphic warning they are transmitting provably false statements, and without NBC coming back to the studio for. Live fact-check, Welker instead then says quote “Let me ask you this, Mr. President. I just want to hear from YOU on this. I want to know what’s in your head. When you go to bed at night, do you worry about going to jail?”

    […] As an aside she called him “Mr. President” at least twice and that appellation is, journalistically, reserved for the sitting president. “President Trump” is maddening – but acceptable. She didn’t call him that.

    […] Trump lies again about Biden and says “Everything he says is like a lie, it’s terrible” and instead of pushing back against in any way, and again without any NBC caveat, Welker inanely says “I want to stay focused on you… because it’s important to hear from you. Mr. President? Tell me what you see when you look at your mugshot.” I mean they wouldn’t have run this tripe on Dateline.

    Trump lied about immigrants flooding this country. There was no factcheck on Meet The Press. Trump lied about a record number of terrorists among them. There was no factcheck on Meet The Press. Trump lied about the U-S giving the Taliban 85 billion dollars worth of equipment. There was no factcheck on Meet The Press. Trump lied about January 6th insurrectionists getting record sentences. There was no factcheck on Meet The Press. Trump lied about his tax cuts producing revenue. There was no factcheck on Meet The Press. Trump lied that the media is no longer covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There was no factcheck on Meet The Press. Trump lied that Covid and not HE drove up the defecit. There was no factcheck on Meet The Press. Trump lied more than a dozen times that the 2020 election was quote “rigged.” There was no factcheck on Meet The Press. […]

    All of those lies are fact checked in the NBC News digital piece — but weren’t on television. […] Why not more live in-studio interruptions of Trump’s lies? Or a longer item-by-item list of them after the taped interview instead of the Baker self-perpetuating Media-Political Industrial Complex auto-fluff segment? […]

    As my own caveat: a lot of coverage of the Welker-Trump disaster insisted that she got Trump to admit he had lost the 2020 election. In fact he said he needed more votes because the election was rigged. She then replied “Are you acknowledging you didn’t win?” He then replies “They rigged the election. I’m not acknowledging, no. I say we won the election.” Also: The Vice President of NBC News digital boasted that Welker got Trump to say he ignored legal advice from the attorneys who told him he lost and to continue to lie that he won, in 2020, “It was my decision,” he said. This has been presented in some quarters as excellent evidence for Special Counsel Jack Smith and while it can’t hurt, it merely echoes the evidence a Grand Jury has been hearing – quotes from Trump; testimony from others – for months.

    […] CNN’s new masters made no secret of their intent: to curry favor with Trump and to afford him an avenue to spread the corporate fascism they have openly endorsed. NBC’s motives may be more obscure and opaque but they are no less evil. They are either, like CNN, positioning themselves to survive in a world in which the Trumpists prevail and this nation goes FULLY fascist in the years to come, or – perhaps even more disgustingly – they are too greedy and too blind to see that Trump has exploited them and manipulated them into pimping for him and for evil. […]


    I think there is too much vengeance-against-NBC from Keith Olbermann in this essay. There are also too many unanswered, fundamental questions for this to count as good journalism. However, the point that NBC may have agreed to online-factchecking-only for the most part is a question that should be asked and answered. I do think that NBC gave Trump too cushy a platform for spewing lies, and I agree that the Peter Baker interview was not a good followup. I do also agree that even the online factchecking was not done in a timely manner.

  29. says

    On Friday, Donald Trump was in Washington, D.C., to appear at something called the “Pray Vote Stand Summit.” In a relatively brief speech, Trump repeatedly fumbled basic facts, made mistakes about his own elections, and devolved into what some observers accurately called a “word salad.”

    In the middle of this, Trump attacked President Joe Biden, using the same hot button the media can’t stop pressing: Biden’s age. “We have a man who is totally corrupt and the worst president in the history of our country, who is cognitively impaired, in no condition to lead, and is now in charge of dealing with Russia and possible nuclear war,” said Trump.

    He added, “Just think of it. We would be in World War Two very quickly if we’re going to be relying on this man, and far more devastating than any war.”

    I’ll just let that sit there with no comment.


  30. says

    Assorted links:

    Vanity Fair – “The Titan Submersible Disaster Was Years in the Making, New Details Reveal”:

    To many in the tight-knit deep-sea exploration community, OceanGate’s submersible dives were reckless and often dangerous, writes best-selling author Susan Casey….

    (They have an article limit, but I’m not sure how many it is…)

    Vanity Fair – “DeSantis Won’t Hesitate to Race Trump to the Bottom”:

    Take it from this native Floridian [Carl Hiaasen]….

    France 24 – “En Espagne, la justice entend pour la première fois une victime du régime franquiste”:

    Près de cinquante ans après la mort de Franco, une magistrate espagnole a entendu pour la première fois le témoignage d’une victime de tortures sous la la dictature. Un fait historique, car jusqu’à présent les tribunaux espagnols avaient toujours rejeté les plaintes contre les crimes du régime de Franco, en s’appuyant sur une loi d’amnistie approuvée après le rétablissement de la démocratie….

    Gizmodo – “Your Favorite TikTok Dietitian Might Be Paid Off by Big Food”:

    TikTok is the next generation of information, for better or (usually) for worse. A new report reveals that some major TikTok dietitians are being paid off by the food industry to shape viewers eating habits.

    The report comes from the Washington Post, which partnered with nonprofit newsroom The Examination to, well, examine popular TikTok dietitians and found that dozens of these influencers were peddling messages from the food, beverage, and supplement industries….

    …This phenomenon illustrates a major problem with self-produced content that offers advice or conducts journalism: payola. Self-proclaimed dietitians, movie critics, and journalists, for example, on platforms like TikTok are able to freely accept payouts from organizations and companies they may report on. The creators also face little to no recourse, allowing misinformation and guided opinions to run rampant amongst their millions of followers.

  31. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy in New York on Wednesday, two sources from the Brazilian government said on Monday.

    Lula has irked western leaders who support Ukraine’s fight against Russia with his refusal to take a clear side in the war or supply Kyiv with weapons.

    Lula has attempted to position himself as a potential peace broker between Moscow and Kyiv, arguing some countries must remain “neutral” if peace is to be achieved.

    Meduza – “Commander of Russian air assault brigade reportedly killed in Ukraine”:

    Colonel Andrey Kondrashkin (call sign “Dunay”), who commanded the 31st Guards Air Assault Brigade, has been killed in Ukraine, according to Alexander Khodakovsky, the Putin-appointed deputy commander of the National Guard in the Russian-annexed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR).

    No further information was provided about the circumstances of his death.

    Ukrainian journalist Yurii Butusov said that the 31st brigade participated in all major battles, starting with the Battle of Hostomel Airport near Kyiv. According to him, the unit is now located near Bakhmut. Kondrashkin was in charge of repelling attacks by Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade near the village of Andriivka. Butusov says that Ukraine’s Armed Forces were able to enter the village through Kondrashkin’s defense sector.

  32. says

    Arab News – “Thousands join anti-regime rally in southern Syria despite violence”:

    Thousands of Syrians protested on Friday in the southern city of Sweida, the largest in nearly a month of anti-regime demonstrations that have intensified despite one incidence of violence, activists said.

    “Between 3,500 and 4,000 people rallied,” a protester said, adding that it was “the biggest demonstration yet.”

    Another activist gave similar estimates. The demonstration took place days after three protesters were wounded by gunfire while trying to weld shut a branch of the ruling Baath Party.

    Activists blamed party members guarding the building for the violence.

    Sealing of the party’s offices has become a common act of defiance by protesters in recent weeks.

    “Today, in response to the gunfire, people turned out in larger numbers,” said the protester.

    “We are not afraid and we will keep protesting peacefully until the end.”

    Media outlet Suwayda24 shared videos on X, formerly known as Twitter, showing thousands of men and women chanting anti-regime slogans and waving Druze flags. Protesters chanted: “Syria wants freedom” and “Leave, Bashar, enemy of humanity,” one video showed.

    Rayan Maarouf of Suwayda24, an outlet run by citizen journalists, said the violence has “only increased people’s determination.”

    Smaller, sporadic protests have taken place in neighboring Daraa province, the cradle of Syria’s 2011 uprising, which Assad bloodily suppressed….

  33. says

    Reuters – “What are Republican U.S. presidential candidates saying about the UAW strike?”:

    Labor negotiations continued this week between union negotiators and representatives of the Detroit Three automakers days into a strike…

    Below are comments from some of the 10 Republican presidential candidates seeking their party’s 2024 nomination to take on Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden, who has backed the United Auto Workers….

    Nikki Haley:

    …I don’t think government should get involved in this. These are private sector matters….

    Next paragraph:

    …As governor, “I was a union buster. I didn’t want to bring in companies that were unionized simply because I didn’t want to have that change the environment in our state….”

  34. says

    […] overt anti-semitism is still considered gauche in some circles, so instead Trump calls out the “bad Jew,” which is most of us. By definition, “good Jews” support moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and the theft of Arab land. By sheer coincidence, this goal is shared by Trump’s evangelical supporters who look forward to the day when we all drown in a lake of fire. In another amazing coincidence, it allows Republicans to split a voting bloc that’s spent fifty years showing up to vote for Democrats in every election.

    It’s a neat trick, turning us against each other even as you remind us that we, soon, could go the way of other minorities, accused of bigotry for acknowledging historical facts that make people feel bad. “Nice Holocaust education program you got there,” the gangster intones, “be a shame if the war on woke happened to it.” After being radicalized by xenophobic “Great Replacement” rhetoric against the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Tree of Life shooter killed 11 Jews as they prayed in schul, but we should throw flowers at the Republican Party for protecting our children from a handful of BDS dipshits on campus.

    The message is clear, and so is the threat. You live among Americans, but you are not American. Any political or civil engagement by Jews, aside from grateful obeisance to the king, is improper interference. The Party will decide who is a “real” Jew and who is an imposter. And if you don’t like it, you can pack your bags and go to your own country, which sure as hell isn’t this one.

    And so in this season of spirituality, I turn to the language of my great-grandparents, who surely understood anti-semitism in ways that I never will, and would appreciate that wishing ill upon Haman is not the kind of sin you repent for.

    Zol es im onkumn vos ikh vintsh im (khotsh a helft, khotsh halb, khotsh a tsent kheylik).
    Let what I wish on him come true (most, even half, even just 10 percent).

    Speedily, and in our own days.

    I could not get a translation of the Yiddish? Hebrew?

  35. birgerjohansson says

    I just wanted to show an example to refute the stereotypical image of muslims. Even if I obviously do not buy into his religion, this guy is smarter than a bucketload of Xian fundies (the ‘dawah’ guys are a different matter-they are as dishonest as Creationists).

    Mufti Abu Layth: “The role of reason in religion”

  36. says

    Crisis and Bailout: The Tortuous Cycle Stalking Nations in Debt

    New York Times link

    The government of Ghana is essentially bankrupt, and has turned to the International Monetary Fund for its 17th financial rescue since 1957.

    Emmanuel Cherry, the chief executive of an association of Ghanaian construction companies, sat in a cafe at the edge of Accra Children’s Park, near the derelict Ferris wheel and kiddie train, as he tallied up how much money government entities owe thousands of contractors.

    Before interest, he said, the back payments add up to 15 billion cedis, roughly $1.3 billion. “Most of the contractors are home,” Mr. Cherry said. Their workers have been laid off.

    Like many others in this West African country, the contractors have to wait in line for their money. Teacher trainees complain they are owed two months of back pay. Independent power producers that have warned of major blackouts are owed $1.58 billion.

    The government is essentially bankrupt. After defaulting on billions of dollars owed to foreign lenders in December, the administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo had no choice but to agree to a $3 billion loan from the lender of last resort, the International Monetary Fund.

    It was the 17th time Ghana has been compelled to turn to the Fund since it gained independence in 1957.

    This latest crisis was partly prompted by the havoc of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and higher food and fuel prices. But the tortuous cycle of crisis and bailout has plagued dozens of poor and middle-income countries throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia for decades.

    These pitiless loops will be discussed at the latest United Nations General Assembly, which begins on Tuesday. The debt load for developing countries — now estimated to top $200 billion — threatens to upend economies and unravel painstaking gains in education, health care and incomes. But poor and low-income countries have struggled to gain sustained international attention.

    In Ghana, the I.M.F. laid out a detailed rescue plan to get the country back on its feet — reining in debt and spending, raising revenue and protecting the poorest — as Accra negotiates with foreign creditors.

    […] The last time Ghana turned to the fund was in 2015. Within three years, the country was on its way to paying back the loan, and was among the world’s fastest growing economies. Ghana was held up as a model for the rest of Africa.

    Agricultural production was up, and major exports — cocoa, oil and gold — were rising. The country had invested in infrastructure and education, and had begun a cleanup of the banking industry, which was riddled with distressed lenders.

    Yet Accra is once again desperately in need. The I.M.F. loan agreement, and the delivery of a $600,000 installment in May, has helped stabilize the economy, settle wild fluctuations in currency levels and restore a modicum of confidence. Inflation is still running above 40 percent but is down from its peak of 54 percent in January.

    […] The effects of devastating climate change loom over the problem. Within the next decade, a United Nations analysis estimates, trillions of dollars in new financing will be needed to mitigate the impact on developing countries.

    In Ghana, the government owed $63.3 billion at the end of 2022 not just to foreign creditors but also to homegrown lenders — pension funds, insurance companies and local banks that believed the government was a safe investment. The situation was so unusual that the I.M.F. for the first time made settling this domestic debt a prerequisite for a bailout. A partial restructuring, which cut returns and extended the due dates, was completed in February. While the haircut may have been necessary, it undermined confidence in the banks.

    As for foreign lenders, there are thousands of private, semipublic and governmental creditors, including China, which have different objectives, loan arrangements and regulatory controls.

    […] The dizzying proliferation of lenders now characterizes much of the debt burdening distressed countries around the globe — making it also more complex and difficult to resolve.

    [snipped details of inflation affecting people buying groceries, small shop owners struggling with the depreciating currency, etc.]

    […] When the pandemic struck in 2020, paralyzing economies, shrinking revenues and raising health care costs, fear of a global debt crisis mounted. Ghana, like many developing countries, had borrowed heavily, encouraged by years of low commercial rates.

    As the Federal Reserve and other central banks raised interest rates to combat inflation, developing countries’ external debt payments — priced in dollars or euros — unexpectedly ballooned at the same time that prices of imported food, fuel and fertilizer shot up.

    […] “The government is bloated and inefficient,” said E. Gyimah-Boadi, the board chair of Afrobarometer, a research network. Half-completed schools, hospitals and other projects are abandoned when a new administration comes in. Corruption and mismanagement are also problems, several economists and business leaders in Ghana said.

    […] “Ghana’s success story is real,” Aurelien Kruse, the lead country economist in the Accra office of the World Bank, said. “Where it may have been a bit oversold,” though, is that “the fast growth has not been diversified.” The economy is primarily dependent on exports of raw materials like cocoa, oil and gold, which peak and swoop in price.

    Manufacturing accounts for a mere 10 percent of the country’s total output — a decline from 2013. Without a thriving industrial sector to provide steady employment and produce exportable goods, Ghana has no other streams of revenue from abroad, which can build wealth and pay for needed imports.

    This model — the import of expensive goods and the export of cheap resources — characterized the colonial system.

    […] the problem of finding manageable amounts of low-cost investment capital remains.

    Where does an African country — or any developing country — get the type of financing it needs to grow, Mr. Ofori-Atta asked.

    Before the cycle of debt crises is broken, that question will have to be answered.

  37. says

    From ABC on the Welker interview:

    Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, at times grew angry when being interviewed by Welker, refusing to answer whether he called law enforcement on Jan. 6, 2021, who he called that day and how he watched the chaos unfold, claiming he “behaved so well.”

    I saw the video clip of this. The man is almost 80. His petulant insistence that he “behaved so well” says so much about him psychologically. I might have to check in on Mary Trump’s podcast to see if she notes it.

  38. says

    SC @45, “petulant” is a good way to describe Trump.

    Related to other news, (Ken Paxton), here is some satire written by Andy Borowitz:

    Thousands of hardened criminals poured into Texas over the weekend after learning how easy it is to secure an acquittal there.

    Interstate freeways were reportedly backed up for miles as acquittal-seeking perpetrators sought to put down roots in soft-on-crime Texas.

    Harland Dorrinson, a self-styled recidivist who has been convicted in Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin, said that he was heading to the Lone Star state because, “in Texas, no one is below the law.”

    “An acquittal is yours for the asking if you’re white, male, and nefarious,” he said. “I check all the boxes.”

    When told that one must also be elected as a Republican in order to qualify for Texas’s special “conviction exemption,” the career criminal was unfazed, noting that “even Greg Abbott” managed to do that.

    New Yorker link

  39. says

    Former GOP skeptics now support impeachment probe

    Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced an impeachment inquiry without a full House vote, at a time when he didn’t appear to have the votes. Republicans have a four-seat House majority, and currently, more than four Republicans indicated that they didn’t see grounds for an inquiry. But McCarthy spoke the support he needed into existence. The kind of ostensibly moderate Republican who didn’t want to see an impeachment inquiry will nonetheless go along with leadership for the sake of partisan advantage.

    See, for instance, Rep. Don Bacon. In August, Bacon told NBC News, “We should have more confidence that actual high crimes and misdemeanors occurred before starting a formal impeachment inquiry.” Last week, as McCarthy announced his voteless inquiry, Bacon said, “As of now I don’t support” an inquiry, because it “should be based on evidence of a crime that points directly to President Biden, or if the President doesn’t cooperate by not providing documents.”

    Less than a week later, Bacon’s position has shifted to cautious support. “I don’t think it’s healthy or good for our country. So I wanted to set a high bar. I want to do it carefully. I want to do it conscientiously, do it meticulously,” Bacon said. “But it’s been done. So, at this point, we’ll see what the facts are.”

    No person who has observed House Republicans over the past eight months could possibly believe that they will proceed carefully, conscientiously, or meticulously. But Bacon has shown how much his opposition is worth—and how much it will be worth if he ever has to decide how to vote on impeachment.

    Similarly, Rep. David Joyce said in August, “You hear a lot of rumor and innuendo … but that’s not fact to me. As a former prosecutor, I think there has to be facts, and I think there has to be due process that we follow, and I’ve not seen any of that today.” Now? In a statement, Joyce said, “I support Speaker McCarthy’s decision to direct the House Committees on Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” What’s more, he’s “confident” that the committee leaders conducting the inquiry—Oversight Chair James Comer, Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, and Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith—“will conduct thoughtful and thorough investigations into allegations against the President, which I will carefully review.” [JFC!]

    Saying you’re confident Comer and Jordan will be “thoughtful and thorough” is kind of a tell that nothing you’re saying should be believed. [Correct]

    People like Bacon and Joyce know there’s no there there, but once McCarthy said the inquiry was happening, they fell in line. Because they’re Republicans, and the only principle in the Republican Party is power. […]

  40. says

    NBC News:

    Five Americans wrongfully imprisoned in Iran for years were released Monday as part of a prisoner exchange agreement that gives Tehran access to $6 billion in oil revenues frozen under U.S. sanctions. A plane carrying the five Americans and two of their relatives touched down in Qatar, which had helped broker the swap.

  41. says

    NBC News:

    A U.S. fighter jet’s stealth abilities appear to be working too well, with authorities forced to ask the public for help finding an F-35 that went missing somewhere over South Carolina when the pilot ejected because of a ‘mishap.’ Joint Base Charleston, an air base in North Charleston, said it was working with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to ‘locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap’ Sunday afternoon.

  42. says

    NBC News:

    The death toll from the unprecedented flooding in northeastern Libya has risen to at least 11,300 people, the U.N. has said, with 10,100 more missing in the devastated city of Derna alone.

  43. says

    Associated Press:

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that Turkey may part ways with the European Union, implying that the country is thinking about ending its bid to join the 27-nation bloc.

  44. says

    I watched the new film on Netflix El Conde. It’s not amazing, but it is quite engaging. Probably the only vampire movie I’ll ever see. I agree generally with this review, but I would go even further in praising the cinematography by Edward Lachman. It’s delightful to look at, and (with the production and costume design) visually conveys reaction/greed/despotism, draining them of power and grandeur. It has a Gothic feel, but in a way that doesn’t so much deploy the look as de-romanticize and lead you to reflect on it. I’m sure I’ll watch it again on mute just to take it all in.

  45. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trudeau accuses India’s government of involvement in killing of Canadian Sikh leader

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accusing the government of India of involvement in the fatal shooting of a Canadian Sikh leader — a claim that will have seismic effects on an already shaky bilateral relationship.

    Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar was brazenly shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C. on June 18.

    Nijjar, a supporter of a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state, had been branded by the Indian government as a “terrorist” and accused of leading a militant separatist group — something his supporters have denied.

    Now, Trudeau said, Canada’s national security apparatus has reason to believe that “agents of the Indian government” carried out the killing of this Canadian citizen, who also served as the president of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara…

  46. Reginald Selkirk says

    Movie notice

    I have not seen this myself, so cannot recommend it, but it promotes a cause I support. The American Chestnut Foundation is involved in promoting the film, so you may presume it is not objective.

    Clear Day Thunder


    The new documentary film CLEAR DAY THUNDER: RESCUING THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT tells the story of passionate citizen scientists and researchers working to restore this ecologically and economically important species, during this pivotal moment…

  47. says

    Ukraine update: Bakhmut is, once again, the hottest spot on the front lines, by Mark Sumner

    There are some places in Ukraine that just never seem to get a break, and for over a year, Bakhmut has been at the top of the list. There were months during which Russia gradually surrounded the city, capturing locations like Soledar to the north and Opytne to the south. There were more months in which Wagner Group forces sent one human wave after another to crash against defenses on the city’s east side, turning every address along Patrisa Lumumby Street into a landmark of destruction. Finally, there came the slow, block-by-block withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut, with Russian artillery leveling the city in an effort to leave no position capable of defense.

    As Wagner forces moved through Bakhmut, there were a series of absolutely desperate weeks in which Ukraine seemed barely able to reach its forces remaining inside the city. Russia moved through Krasna Hora and Paraskoviivka, cutting off the city from the north. Wagner forces crossed the T0513 highway on the south, then reached Klishchiivka, pushed through the high ground west of the town, and made the T0504 highway on the southwest impassable.

    The last paved road into Bakhmut, from Chasiv Yar through Khromove, was briefly known as the “highway of life”—the sole means of getting supplies into Bakhmut and bringing both wounded and refugees out. Then, in the space of days, that same route became the “highway of death,” littered by burned-out hulks of vehicles struck by a rain of Russian artillery from captured Berkhivka and Yahidne.

    As the city fell, it seemed like Bakhmut was about to become another city in the backfield of Russia’s slow advance, like Severodonetsk to the north. At Daily Kos, we were already writing about Ukraine’s next defensive position along the roads to Russia’s big targets at Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. But that’s not the way it happened.

    For months, there was a grand argument boiling down to this: Why is Ukraine expending so much effort and so many lives defending Bakhmut? There was broad agreement when Russia first approached the city that it was not an important strategic target and hard as hell to defend, with approaches from every direction and the only natural barrier being a river so small it could almost be jumped.

    It seemed entirely reasonable for Ukraine to shift its forces west and north, taking position on more defensible and valuable higher ground. And we didn’t hesitate to say so.

    But clearly Ukraine’s leadership, right up to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, didn’t see it that way. They kept pouring resources into the city long after every armchair general and spreadsheet-driving analyst was declaring it a waste. Zelenskyy even made multiple personal visits to the city, with Russian forces very close at hand, to thank those defending Bakhmut and encourage them to hold out as long as possible.

    As Ukraine dug in its heels, what became clear was that, even though the cost to Ukraine was tremendous, the cost to Russia was absolutely outlandish. Those wave attacks were costing Russia thousands at first, then tens of thousands, with the prison recruits of the Wagner Group bearing the principal costs. There were times when it seemed Russia could not possibly keep this up. But they did. There were times when it seemed Ukraine had no choice but to leave. They didn’t.

    As Wagner forces moved to take the last “citadel” of Ukrainian holdouts in the city, and as Russian artillery pounded the final blocks into oblivion, it wasn’t just supporters of Ukraine looking for the next battlefield. Russian propagandists didn’t just say they were going to take Khromove and Chasiv Yar to Bakhmut’s west, they claimed they already had. Next stop: full Russian control of Donetsk oblast. With Ukraine down to a series of makeshift mud roads to get anything into or out of the area, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the area west of Bakhmut would soon be abandoned.

    Only … no. Wagner Group completed a token capture of the city, then immediately withdrew to their tents on the east side of Bakhmut to fume and plan their upcoming trip to Moscow. Without those forces, Russia not only couldn’t continue the advance, they also couldn’t hold everything they had taken.

    Ukraine counterattacked north, pushing back Russian troops in Berkhivka. It attacked on the northwest, regaining control of Orikhovo-Vasylivka. And most significantly, it pushed back on the south, driving Russian from the high ground west of Klishchiivka, crossing the canal near Andriivka, and eventually liberating both those towns. […]

    Ukraine hasn’t only liberated over 100 square kilometers from Russian occupation. At the moment, Bakhmut is reportedly the hottest point of conflict anywhere along the line.

    On Monday, there were two conflicting claims about the area, both found in this Telegram statement. “As a result of the successful actions of our troops, the enemy’s defense line was breached,” wrote a Ukrainian commander. Presumably, this doesn’t mean the main prepared defensive trenches, which are east of the line from Opytne to Odradivka as well as several kilometers from any known advance by Ukraine. Instead, he likely meant that in liberating Klishchiivka and Andrivka, Ukraine has placed Russia outside of defensible positions. Russia’s forces are now caught in a kind of trough east of Klishchiiva, with Ukraine able to fire down onto this lower ground.

    Still, breaking through Russia’s defenses implies the kind of thing that should result in either a rout or a retreat, and as the same message points out, neither of these things are happening.

    Fierce fighting continues in the Bakhmut region. After losing the settlements of Andriivka and Klishchiivka last week, the enemy is conducting numerous counterattacks from different directions, unsuccessfully trying to regain lost positions. After all, these small, at first glance, settlements were important elements of the enemy’s defensive line, which stretched from Bakhmut to Horlivka.

    Even with Wagner gone, Russia still has a large number of forces around Bakhmut. It’s hard to tell how exhausted, undersupplied, or incomplete any of them may be, but if Russia is trying to reclaim Klishchiivka, they are doing it from a terrible position, pushing uphill against Ukrainian positions.

    A relatively fresh Russian army might have pulled that off against a less experienced Ukraine a year ago. These are not those Russians. It’s not going to happen again.


    Every time we get a closer look at Kilo-class submarine Rostov-on-Don, the idea that it will soon be back in service becomes more laughable. If the images released on Monday are accurate, this isn’t something that’s going to buff out. It’s not something that is soon going to be repaired. In fact, it’s likely something that will never be repaired. [Tweet and images at the link]

    Oryx has moved the sub to the “destroyed” category. Which means it’s not merely dead, it’s really most sincerely dead […]
    Remember the Kinburn Spit? This is that narrow point of land, not much more than a glorified sand bar, that pokes out from the delta of the Dnipro like a finger pointing to Odessa. When it controlled much of Kherson west of the river, Russia was able to position artillery here, but anything that moves on the Kinburn is now subject to a very active drone patrol. [tweet and video at the link: A Russian BM-21 GRAD MLRS was destroyed on the Kinburn Spit]
    The modern way of war. [Tweet and video at the link, showing drone operators with goggles on]
    A pair of 2S9 “Nona” self-propelled guns go for a ride courtesy of HIMARS.

    Drone spotting. HIMARS precision. Scratch two.

    This is in an area northeast of Donetsk, about 7 kilometers from the current front lines. Russia remains at a huge counterbattery disadvantage, with Ukrainian guns dramatically outranging Russia’s. [Tweet and video at the link, showing destruction of Russian artillery] [Additional tweet and video, shows the battle for Urozhaine]
    The Ukrainian General Staff reports Ukrainian forces successfully repelled multiple Russian attacks at:





    Everything else on Monday was either artillery or air strikes.

  48. says

    Followup to comment 56.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I think it’s fair to say that the stubborn defense of Bakhmut ended up destroying the Wagner Group as the most effective ground force Russia had in Ukraine. Not a bad result in the end, though the true cost is yet to be determined.
    Nobody knows how to fight a drone-heavy war yet. Ukraine is learning that faster than anyone else. But we know at this point that sneak attacks are basically impossible and that neither side can gather large amounts of forces anywhere.
    with that level of damage to the sub, they’re better off just building a whole new one. Force depletion for their Black Sea assets is going to become a real problem at this rate. They already limit their operations due to the threat of Ukrainian missiles.

  49. says

    Trump used classified notecards to write to-do lists for his Mar-a-Lago assistant

    ABC News is reporting that among the classified documents found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and resort after FBI agents searched the premises on Aug. 8, 2022, was a set of classified “notecards” found and reported by one of Trump’s personal assistants.

    The details, however, are so bizarre as to be inexplicable.

    As described to ABC News, the aide, Molly Michael, told investigators that — more than once — she received requests or taskings from Trump that were written on the back of notecards, and she later recognized those notecards as sensitive White House materials — with visible classification markings — used to brief Trump while he was still in office about phone calls with foreign leaders or other international-related matters.

    Got that? So this was apparently a set of notecards with “classified” markings that were created to prepare Trump for important calls with international leaders. And somehow these classified notecards were, once Trump left office, being used by him as scratch paper and being handed off to his assistant.

    The next day, after the FBI search, Michael returned to work at Mar-a-Lago and found her desk in a bit of a mess, with drawers turned over, sources said. Buried underneath a drawer organizer were the to-do lists Trump had written for her on the backs of briefing notes with classification markings, Michael later recalled to investigators, according to sources.

    When Michael discovered that the FBI hadn’t taken those documents in their search of Mar-a-Lago, she helped make sure they were given to the FBI that same day, the sources told ABC News.

    ABC’s story also reveals that Michaels was one of the aides who Trump allegedly encouraged to lie about the presence of the boxes containing classified documents, but the pending courtroom trial will get to that evidence in due time. It’s the detail of Trump using classified “notecards” as an impromptu scratchpad that manages to be baffling, even in the midst of an unending stream of baffling Trump behaviors.

    The implication here is that Trump was getting classified information printed out on notecards to act as cheat sheets during his phone calls—no doubt a standard White House practice. But these classified cards then were somehow not collected after the phone calls, and instead kept by Trump.

    Not just kept, but apparently collected. So that by the time he left office, he had a neat little bundle of them that he then brought to Mar-a-Lago.

    And not as “keepsakes” or “mementos,” as he has previously insisted, but as scratch paper so he wouldn’t have to buy a $1 pack of notecards from Staples?

    […] How the hell does this sequence of events even work? Someone explain it to me like I’m 5 years old: How is it that Trump was able, just logistically, to hoard a whole set of classified cards about, apparently, different classified phone calls, such that he had enough to “repeatedly” hand them out to others? Where was he keeping them, that he had a pile of these things at his desk ready to be doled out? How is it that this guy was collecting classified notecards not because he wanted to keep them as memories of his administration, but because he didn’t want to have to buy new notecards?

    How many people have notecards from this classified stack? Were they just for one assistant, or for general doodling and scratch work?

    ABC News is reporting that Donald Trump was quite literally using classified national security documents as scratch paper […] What. The. F-ck?

  50. says

    Planned Parenthood resumes offering abortions in Wisconsin after more than a year

    Planned Parenthood resumed offering abortion services in Wisconsin on Monday after halting them for more than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

    Providers across the state stopped offering abortions following the June 2022 decision, fearing enforcement of an 1849 state law that appears to ban the procedure but had previously been nullified by the 1973 Roe ruling. A judge ruled last month that the 144-year-old law doesn’t apply to medical abortions.

    In light of the ruling, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin began offering abortions at clinics in Madison and Milwaukee again on Monday. The group did not say how many abortions it expected to perform but said appointments at its Milwaukee clinic on Monday were completely filled within 24 hours of announcing that services would resume.

    Without access to abortion care in Wisconsin for the past 15 months, many patients have sought assistance in neighboring Illinois, where abortions have remained widely available. According to Planned Parenthood of Illinois, its clinics have seen a seven-fold increase in patients from Wisconsin since the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

    The lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s 1849 law was brought by the state’s Democratic attorney general and is expected to end up in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which flipped to liberal control last month. […]

  51. says

    Nobody knows how to fight a drone-heavy war yet. Ukraine is learning that faster than anyone else.

    I was wondering if there were ground drones (which sounds like “land shark” and so makes me giggle), and apparently there are. I was thinking more like spy drones with tiny cameras andor microphones that looked and moved like small animals.

  52. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna… @ # 58, quoting a Kossack: … she later recognized those notecards as sensitive White House materials — with visible classification markings — used to brief Trump while he was still in office about phone calls with foreign leaders or other international-related matters. … classified information printed out on notecards to act as cheat sheets during his phone calls—no doubt a standard White House practice.

    Functionally (though maybe not legally) the equivalent of the (purportedly) most sensitive docs kept on Hillary Clinton’s server, described as talking points memos for meetings with heads of state; prob’ly for events already past. Many of us (including me) didn’t make that much of this in the former case, so don’t have much room for heavy indignation in the latter.

    As for Trump’s hanging on to these cards, then treating them like junk – totally in keeping with his pervasive infantilism. He has his staff too thoroughly broken in for any of them to try more than once to remove anything he claims for his binkie.

  53. says

    SC, that sounds kind of like a combination drone and robot. I don’t remember where I read it, but apparently the Ukrainians have robots they can use to help rescue wounded soldiers.

  54. says

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

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy is set to address the UN general assembly in-person on Tuesday for the first time since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, telling reporters: “For us it’s very important that all our words, all our messages will be heard”. The Ukrainian president made the remarks during a visit to Staten Island university hospital, where Ukrainian soldiers have been treated for amputations.

    Ukraine told the UN’s highest court in The Hague on Tuesday that Russia justified waging war against Ukraine by invoking “a terrible lie”, namely that Moscow’s invasion was to stop an alleged genocide. “The international community adopted the Genocide Convention to protect; Russia invokes the Genocide convention to destroy,” Ukraine’s representative Anton Korynevych told judges. He called on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to decide that it has jurisdiction to hear the case fully and eventually rule that Russia must pay reparations for invading under a false pretext.

    There are several reports of Ukrainians murdered in Russian air strikes on civilians, alongside various lies from the Russian propaganda machine. I would love to see an analysis of all of the Russian fact claims reported in the Guardian liveblogs since February 2022; I imagine the percentage that turned out to be true or accurate would be very small.

  55. Reginald Selkirk says

    @60,62 drones

    I have an idea for an anti-ship drone. It swims through the water to get to the ship, then climbs up thee side and moves to the most vulnerable location before setting off its charge. The idea is that if you can reach the right location, you probably don’t need as much explosive to disable a ship.

  56. StevoR says

    The player in the middle of the controversy that engulfed Spanish soccer after she was kissed on the lips by an official, has accused the country’s soccer federation of trying to intimidate the World Cup-winning players.Jenni Hermoso — who did not consent to the kiss by the federation’s former president Luis Rubiales during the World Cup awards ceremony last month — said the governing body’s decision to call up nearly half of the 39 players who said they would not play for the national team as a protest, was “irrefutable proof” that “nothing has changed”. The players had said they wouldn’t come back until their demands for deep reforms and new leadership in the federation were met. But, on Tuesday, new coach Montse Tomé picked 15 of the players who helped Spain win its first Women’s World Cup last month.Tomé left Hermoso off the list “as a way to protect her,” she said.
    “Protect me from what?” Hermoso said.

    Source :

  57. StevoR says

    A far-right US media figure who has made racist attacks on Indigenous Australians spoke at a conservative conference chaired by leading No campaigner Warren Mundine.

    The revelation comes amid growing concerns about the impact of racist commentary on Indigenous Australians as the Voice debate intensifies.

    The Conservative Political Action Conference, a not-for-profit group, featured prominent No campaigners at its annual event in August, including former prime minister Tony Abbott and shadow Indigenous Affairs minister Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.Among the speakers was Elijah Schaffer, an American podcaster living in Australia, who complained to the crowd that politicians spoke in support of “Aboriginals or the gay community” rather than “the Australian community”.

    Mr Schaffer’s social media shows him using a racist slur to describe Aboriginal people, while his podcast recently featured an Australian neo-Nazi who has spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Voice.

    Mr Schaffer launched into a racist diatribe about Aboriginal people on a podcast episode in July, speaking against the Voice.

    Spurce :

  58. StevoR says

    Good, nicely explained clip on Signs of life on an ocean exoplanet? by Harry Cliff on youtube 7 minutes long here. About this discovery hinting at juuu-uust maaaay-be life in the vastness of the ocean of the Hycean (thick Hydrogen atmosphere over deep water ocean and hot high pressure ices mantle) exoplanet K2-18b ( ) noted in this NASA news page here :

  59. Reginald Selkirk says

    World’s most powerful free-electron laser upgraded to fire a million X-rays per second

    The world’s most powerful publicly known X-ray laser at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has fired its first pulses with an upgrade that could see it scan our world in strange new ways.

    After a decade of effort, the lab’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) atomic X-ray free-electron laser has been upgraded and can deliver up to a million pulses per second, each up to 10,000 times brighter than those emitted by previous instruments – making it 8,000 times more powerful than its predecessor. Or so Uncle Sam says…

  60. Reginald Selkirk says

    Twitter down: X stops working hours after Elon Musk announces he wants people to pay to use it

    X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has stopped working.

    The site broke hours after Elon Musk said that he is planning to force everyone to pay for access to the site.

    Some parts of X continued to load, for some people. But users had problems with much of the site, including loading tweets and their timelines.

    Tracking website Down Detector showed a huge influx of reports of problems on Tuesday afternoon, across the world. That site depends on reports from X, and so may experience problems itself…

  61. Reginald Selkirk says


    Officials find debris from F-35 fighter jet that crashed in South Carolina after pilot ejected

    The crash site for a stealth fighter jet that went missing during the weekend after its pilot ejected was located Monday in rural South Carolina after the military asked the public for help finding an aircraft built to elude detection.

    The debris field was discovered in Williamsburg County, about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston. Residents were being asked to avoid the area while a recovery team worked to secure it…

    A detail of reportage – Specifying a distance in hours only makes sens if the mode of conveyance is clear. Is that two hours of F-35 jet flight, or a two hour drive by car?

  62. says

    Trump plans prime-time remarks to UAW workers in his second snub of a GOP debate

    Former President Donald Trump intends to deliver a prime-time speech to union workers in Detroit during next week’s Republican primary debate, three sources familiar with the planning confirmed to NBC News on Monday.

    The debate on Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California will be the second snubbed by Trump this election cycle in favor of a competing event. […]

    The counter-programming comes amid an ongoing labor dispute between autoworkers and car manufacturers that has drawn national attention. Thousands of United Auto Workers are on strike after Detroit’s three automakers failed to reach a contract agreement with the union last week.

    Trump said the United Auto Workers’ leadership had failed its members in an interview with NBC News’ Kristen Welker that aired over the weekend, but held back from criticizing its members.

    “The auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump,” he said.

    UAW President Shawn Fain has been critical of Trump, calling the prospect of a second Trump presidency “a disaster,” […]

    Asked to respond to Fain, Trump said, “I think he’s not doing a good job in representing his union, because he’s not going to have a union in three years from now.”

    […] A spokesperson for the Biden-Harris campaign responded Monday night saying Trump “is going to Michigan next week to lie to Michigan workers and pretend he didn’t spend his entire failed presidency selling them out at every turn.”

    “Instead of standing with workers, Trump cut taxes for the super-wealthy while auto companies shuttered their doors and shipped American jobs overseas,” Ammar Moussa said in a statement. “No self-serving photo op can erase Trump’s four years of abandoning union workers and standing with his ultra-rich friends.” […]

  63. Reginald Selkirk says

    @74 I did some work with Google maps. Williamsburg County is about 1:45 driving a car from Joint Base Charleston, at a distance of > 70 miles.

  64. says

    There’s a new $1 million ad campaign trying to get Republican members of Congress to support additional aid to Ukraine.

    That comes as there’s been strong resistance in some GOP quarters to further aid.

    Backers have launched a new $1 million ad campaign seeking to get Republicans in Congress behind a new push for aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

    The group, Republicans for Ukraine, unveiled a new report card evaluating GOP members on their support for Ukraine, as well as an ad on Fox & Friends and The Ingraham Angle.

    It also plans to air an ad during the second GOP presidential debate on Sept. 27, as well as four Sunday shows this weekend.

    Backdrop: The push comes as rank-and-file Republicans have cast doubt on the need for further assistance for Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due in Washington this week to rally support for additional funds amid the ongoing fight for government funding this fall.

  65. says

    […] It was in March 2022 when Trump had the bright idea of suing Hillary Clinton and several other Democrats, alleging they tried to rig the 2016 presidential election by bringing attention to his Russia scandal. The case, believe it or not, alleged “racketeering” and a “conspiracy to commit injurious falsehood,” among other things.

    By any fair measure, the lawsuit was utterly bonkers, though it had a serious goal: Trump claimed the Russia scandal cost him more than $24 million — and he wanted his legal targets to pay far more than that.

    The judge in the case didn’t just reject the underlying claims, Middlebrooks could barely contain his disgust with the inanity of the legal complaint. “These were political grievances masquerading as legal claims,” Middlebrooks concluded. “This cannot be attributed to incompetent lawyering. It was a deliberate use of the judicial system to pursue a political agenda.” He went on to cite the attorneys’ “cavalier attitude towards facts.”

    With that in mind, the judge sanctioned the former president and attorney Alina Habba nearly $1 million for having filed a case that “should never have been brought.” The jurist added, “Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it.”

    Last month, as Newsweek’s report explained, Habba nevertheless refiled the lawsuit, incorporating claims from special counsel John Durham’s report on the Russia scandal investigation. This did not go well.

    “Even if the Durham Report uncovered the sort of vast conspiracy alleged by Plaintiff (it plainly did not), it would not change the many legal conclusions I made in the Order dismissing Plaintiff’s lawsuit,” Middlebrooks wrote. “And whatever the Durham Report can be said to have uncovered, for purposes of this case, it does not change my findings that Movants acted in bad faith in bringing this lawsuit and that this case exemplifies Mr. Trump’s history of abusing the judicial process. Therefore, for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff and his lawyers’ Motion for Indicative Ruling Based Upon New Evidence is denied.”

    Habba told Fox News she might appeal. That seems like a ridiculously bad idea, but so too was filing this case in the first place.


    Classic case of “in a hole and still digging.”

  66. says

    Biden exhorts world leaders at the UN to stand up to Russia, warns not to let Ukraine ‘be carved up’

    President Joe Biden made a robust case before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that the world must remain united in defending Ukraine against Russian aggression, warning that no nation can be secure if “we allow Ukraine to be carved up” as he tries to rally support for Kyiv’s effort to repel a nearly 19-month-old Russian invasion […]

    The U.S. president called on world leaders to not let support for Ukraine diminish, arguing that Russia is counting on countries to grow tired of prolonged conflict in Kyiv which will “allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence.” Russia alone is standing in the way of a resolution, Biden argued, saying that Moscow’s price for peace was “Ukraine’s capitulation, Ukraine’s territory and Ukraine’s children.”

    “I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the United States to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?” Biden said in his address. “If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?

    He continued: “I’d respectfully suggest the answer is no.” He implored the leaders to stand up to “this naked aggression today to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.”

    During his address, Biden described the partnerships that the U.S. government was fostering around the globe — from Africa to the Indo-Pacific […]

    “When it comes to China, let me be clear and consistent,” Biden said. “We seek to responsibly manage the competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict.’

    In his 30-minute address, Biden repeatedly emphasized the value of institutions such as the United Nations and international coalitions that has helped the world confront significant challenges such as poverty and disease, as well as echoing his defense of democracy, a common theme of his presidency.

    “We will not retreat from the values that make us strong,” Biden said. “We will defend democracy — our best tool to meet the challenges that we face around the world. And we’re working to show how democracy can deliver in ways that matter to people’s lives.”

    The annual forum is a chance for Biden to showcase to other world leaders — and the 2024 U.S. electorate — that he’s reestablished U.S. leadership on the world stage that he says was diminished under former President Donald Trump.

    […] “I will not side with dictators like Putin. Maybe Trump and his MAGA friends can bow down but I won’t,” Biden told supporters at a Broadway fundraiser.

    There were some notable absences as Biden made his case before the General Assembly: British Prime Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Putin are all skipping the gathering.

    […] “We rallied the world to support Ukraine and united NATO because I was convinced from the beginning that Putin’s counting on NATO not being able to stick together,” Biden said at another Monday fundraiser. “He’s still trying. And our allies know once again, the United States can be counted on.”

    […] In addition to underscoring continued U.S. support for Ukraine, Biden is expected to touch on mobilizing global resources to combat climate change and bolstering multilateral organizations to help poor and middle-income countries, according to senior administration officials.

    […] After the speech, Biden planned to meet with António Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, as well as leaders from the so-called C5 group of Central Asian nations, which include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

    The meeting was expected to focus on regional security, trade, climate change, ongoing reforms to improve governance and other issues.

    Xi has stepped up his own courting of those countries. During his own summit in May with the Central Asian leaders, Xi promised to build more railway and other trade links with the region and proposed jointly developing oil and gas sources.

    […] Biden is scheduled to host talks Thursday at the White House with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

  67. says

    […] Republicans’ opening bid for negotiations: As a show of GOP unity, leaders of the Main Street Caucus and House Freedom Caucus crafted a bill to keep the government open — including spending cuts and a few GOP priorities. But more than a dozen conservative Republicans quickly denounced the bill.

    To give you a sense of just how tight the vote would be: “By the end of the day Monday, about 24 hours after the bill was unveiled, the list of Republicans saying they are definite or probable ‘no’ votes had grown to at least 16. In the narrow GOP majority, that opposition would be more than enough to sink the legislation.” […]


    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the floor: “Last night’s proposal in the House can be boiled down to two words: slapdash, reckless. Slapdash because it is not a serious proposal for avoiding a shutdown, and reckless because if passed it would cause immense harm to so many priorities that help the American people.”

  68. says

    Wonkette: LIVE: President Zelenskyy Is At The UN, So That’ll Piss Putin’s American FanboysOff

    Sorry, Tucker.

    Sorry, Glenn Greenwald.

    Sorry, other bad people.

    Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, is addressing the UN General Assembly. We know Putin’s asslickers in America don’t like that, but we guess they’ll have to deal with it.

    A lot of the reporting about today’s addresses suggests Presidents Biden and Zelenskyy have an uphill climb when it comes to sustaining support for Ukraine in the face of the genocidal war Vladimir Putin forced on our ally. This is fucking insane.

    This is of course also happening as the Republicans in the House begin a completely BS impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden, based on zero evidence, and rooted in lies about what Joe Biden did in Ukraine as vice president. It’s all in service of Donald Trump, to negate his multiple impeachments, and in its quest to rewrite the history of the fight to root out corruption in Ukraine — the pro-Russia elements that not coincidentally tried to help Trump steal the 2020 election — it’s also in service of Putin.

  69. Reginald Selkirk says

    The Ex-‘South Park’ Writer Taking On Moms for Liberty

    When ex-South Park writer Toby Morton set out to lampoon Moms for Liberty with a parody website this summer, he expected to receive hate mail.

    On Morton’s, visitors are greeted with swastikas encircling the “parental rights” juggernaut’s logo, a leadership page that boasts Hercules actor turned conservative pundit Kevin Sorbo as their minivan driver, and a listing of items the moms have “banned for fun” including the board game Sorry. “Those who are taught to say ‘sorry’ are weak,” the fake site for the far-right group declares. “NEVER apologize for your actions because your actions are probably warranted if you’re white.” …

  70. says

    Zelenskyy: Russia is weaponizing food, energy and abducted children in its war against Ukraine

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Russia is “weaponizing” everything from food and energy to abducted children in its war against Ukraine — and he warned world leaders that the same could happen to them.

    “When hatred is weaponized against one nation, it never stops there,” he said at the U.N. General Assembly’s annual top-level meeting. “The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into weapons against you — against the international rules-based order.”

    He pointed to the war’s effect on fuel and food supplies. And he highlighted what Ukraine says were at least tens of thousands of children taken from their families after Moscow’s invasion: “What will happen to them?”

    “Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine, and all ties with their families are broken. And this is clearly a genocide,” Zelenskyy said.

    The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in March for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another official, accusing them of abducting children from Ukraine. […]

    Russia gets its chance to address the General Assembly on Saturday, when Foreign Minister Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected on the rostrum. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky sat in Russia’s seat during Zelenskyy’s speech.

    Zelenskyy took to the world stage at a sensitive point in his country’s campaign to maintain international support for its fight. Nearly 19 months after Moscow launched a full-scale invasion, Ukrainian forces are three months into a counteroffensive that has not gone as fast or as well as initially hoped.

    Ukraine and its allies cast the country’s cause as a battle for the rule of international law, for the sovereignty of every country with a powerful and potentially expansionist neighbor, and for the stability of global supplies that have been rocked by the war. The commodity upheaval has triggered inflation and caused serious hardships for poor countries.

    “We must stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow,” U.S. President Joe Biden told the assembly Tuesday in his own speech. As he pledged support to Ukraine, there was a round of applause, and the U.N. cameras showed Zelenskyy, sitting in Ukraine’s seat in the General Assembly, clapping his hands. […]

    The war has raged longer and losses have been greater than Russia hoped, and the fighting has spurred widespread international condemnation and sanctions against Moscow.

    But the Kremlin also has influential friends that haven’t joined the chorus of censure: China and India, for instance, have staked out neutral positions. So have many Middle Eastern and African nations. Many Latin American and Caribbean countries prefer to focus world attention on other global issues, including climate change and conflict in Africa.

    […] Hours before Zelenskyy spoke at the U.N., allied defense leaders convened at a U.S. military base in Germany to discuss next steps.

    Some nations pledged further money and weapons. But a key sticking point is whether to supply longer-range missiles that Kyiv insists it needs in order to hit Russian troops and facilities from a safe distance — as far as about 180 miles (300 kilometers) away. […]

    The U.S. Congress is currently weighing Biden’s request to provide as much as $24 billion more in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, amid a growing partisan divide over spending on the conflict. Zelenskyy is scheduled to spend time Thursday on Capitol Hill and to meet with Biden at the White House.

    After landing Monday in New York, Zelenskyy suggested that the U.N. needs to answer for allowing his country’s invader a seat at the tables of power.

    “For us, it’s very important that all our words, all our messages, will be heard by our partners. And if in the United Nations still — it’s a pity, but still — there is a place for Russian terrorists, the question is not to me. I think it’s a question to all the members of the United Nations,” Zelenskyy said after visiting wounded Ukrainian service members at Staten Island University Hospital.

    Russia is a permanent, veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, which is entrusted with maintaining international peace and security.

    Zelenskyy has taken the United Nations to task before. In one memorable example, he lamented at the General Assembly in 2021 that the U.N. was ”a retired superhero who’s long forgotten how great they once were.”

    […] During his time at the Staten Island hospital, he awarded medals to military members who had lost limbs. With help from a New Jersey-based charity called Kind Deeds, 18 troops have been fitted for prostheses and are undergoing outpatient physical therapy at the hospital, according to its leaders.

    “We all will be waiting for you back home,” Zelenskyy told those he met. “We absolutely need every one of you.”

  71. says

    Followup to comment 84.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Just watched this. The guy from the Russian delegation could not have been ruder, playing with his phone while Zelenskyy talked about Russian genocide. Zelenskyy was as impressive and impassioned as always, and got a great response, with people applauding for a long time.
    [internet meme showing Russian official saying, “Why won’t the West let us rape, murder, torture, and steal toilets in peace!!!”]

  72. says

    Biden warns Trump is an existential threat to democracy. The media whiffs it

    In advance of his speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, President Joe Biden traveled to New York on Sunday and spent time at a fundraiser in a Broadway theater Monday night. In front of supporters there, he hammered at the threat Donald Trump presents to the nation’s democracy.

    “Let there be no question, Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy. And I will always defend, protect and fight for our democracy,” Biden said, according to the Associated Press.

    CNN has more from the speech:

    “I will not side with dictators like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Maybe Trump and his MAGA friends can bow down and praise him, but I won’t,” Biden said.

    “I don’t believe America is a dark, negative nation, a nation of carnage driven by anger, fear and revenge. Donald Trump does,” he added later.

    Citing Trump’s vow if reelection to act as “retribution” for his supporters, Biden asked: “Did you ever think you’d hear a president of the United States speak like that? Well, I believe we are a hopeful, optimistic nation driven by the proposition that everyone deserves a shot.”

    CNN describes the speech as “some of his fiercest condemnation to date” of coup conspirator Trump, but none of Biden’s remarks seem especially controversial. The AP itself has reported on Trump and his allies’ plan to overhaul the government on authoritarian premises. Trump has repeatedly told crowds he was their “retribution,” including at a Waco, Texas, rally that coincided with the 30th anniversary of the deadly Branch Davidian standoff. On a fundamental level, one cannot plausibly argue that a man who organized a mob of known-violent supporters, refused to support their disarming, and had them march on the Capitol in an attempt to block the certification of his opponent’s election victory is not a dangerous threat to democracy itself.

    Trump is pressing for fascist revolution, and nothing Biden said at the fundraiser is false. But instead of acknowledging that, the media writes stories that play off the potential ensconcing of an authoritarian cultist as one of many competing election factors. Here’s the AP’s take:

    It was the among the president’s strongest rebukes of the Republican front-runner and former president, who is facing criminal charges for his role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. And it comes as the political pressure is ramping up from Republicans in the House who have opened an impeachment inquiry into Biden in an effort to tie him to his son Hunter’s business dealings and distract from Trump’s legal peril.

    Biden said he wanted to send the “strongest and most powerful message possible, that political violence in America is never never never acceptable.”

    What the hell is that? [It’s both-sides-ism, that’s what. See below]

    On one hand, “criminal charges for [Trump’s] role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.” On the other hand, Biden is facing an “impeachment inquiry”—one that has editorially been determined to be a House Republican attempt to “distract from Trump’s legal peril,” even as the reporting excludes the crucial detail that the allegations against Biden are, to all available evidence, utterly false.

    CNN’s version is no better. “Biden takes on Trump and age questions in new fundraiser speech,” goes the article’s headline. The first paragraph focuses on Biden accusing Trump of being “determined to destroy democracy.” But paragraph two brings us the apparently similarly important news that:

    Biden also sought to rebut chronic questions about his age, claiming his long experience in Washington gave him the wisdom to steer the nation forward.

    Ah. On the one hand, a potential end to democracy. And on the other, Biden referenced attacks on his age. You can see how both of those things would perk up political journalism’s ears to roughly the same extent.

    On the same day Biden made these remarks, we learned that Trump has been using classified documents as scratch paper to pass messages to his assistant. It’s the sort of buffoonish incompetence or intentional criminality—it’s unclear which—that should disqualify anyone from government service.

    If press rooms can recognize that the House Republican “impeachment inquiry” of Biden is a straight-up attempt to “distract” from all the crimes Trump’s accused of, then the rest of it should follow. That means the House Republican attempt is crooked. That means the party itself, or at least its most powerful members, are attempting themselves to subvert democracy by propagating hoaxes.

    Follow the ball, here, reporters. Yes, we grant you that Biden is slightly older than his also-old opponent. But what is the thing future historians will be talking about when chronicling this election and its outcome? What are the threads that will be weaved together to explain these times, presuming a future Republican Party allows history books to accurately record them?

    It isn’t poll numbers on how many Americans think Joe Biden is old, CNN. It’s not a few paragraphs tacked on about Biden’s “tepid fundraising schedule,” AP, after getting bored with Biden’s warnings about our imperiled democracy a mere half-dozen paragraphs in. Figure this out.

  73. says

    Guardian – “Justice for Neanderthals! What the debate about our long-dead cousins reveals about us”:

    …The past few years have seen an abundance of works of popular science about a variety of human beings who once inhabited Eurasia: “Neanderthals”. They died out, it appears, 40,000 years ago. That number – 40,000 – is as totemic to Neanderthal specialists as that better known figure, 65 million, is to dinosaur fanciers.

    What distinguishes these new books isn’t just what they tell us about an extinct sub-species of humans, but the surprising passion they bring to their subject. Their authors are enraged that popular ideas about the Neanderthals lag so far behind the cutting edge of paleontological research – research that has brought the Neanderthals closer to us than they have been in 40,000 years.

    Dimitra Papagianni and Michael A Morse, authors of a fascinating recent survey of Neanderthal science, The Neanderthals Rediscovered, write in the hope that they might “restore some dignity to those we replaced”. But what could they mean? Since there are no Neanderthals around any more, the fight for Neanderthal dignity risks seeming not merely quixotic but absurd. What does it take to be indignant on behalf of the dead – no longer here to care much, if they ever did, for their own dignity?

    Some basic facts about the Neanderthals are now pretty well settled. Of the many species of hominin, they were the dominant ones from roughly 400,000 years ago until 40,000 years ago. (Hominin is the now orthodox scientific term for any member of the genus Homo: a group of species that includes all human-like creatures but excludes, for instance, gorillas.) Their brains were large, their physical strength considerable. Remains of their bodies have been found scattered widely across Europe, even as far south as Gibraltar. Why they aren’t still around remains a vexed question. There are plenty of plausible hypotheses – and conjectures galore about their psychology and behaviour – but nothing yet approaching a consensus.

    Our conjectures about the Neanderthals began in 1856…

    The fossil record was already beginning to show us how different a place the world of the mid-19th century was from the one that the Neanderthals inhabited. There were animals then that are no longer with us: enormous grazing cattle named aurochs, straight-tusked elephants, woolly rhinoceros, and the great auk, a giant penguin-like bird that died out around the time of the discoveries in the Neander valley.

    That world, barely a blink of an eye in geological time, was, as Wragg Sykes puts it with sincere excitement, “sparkling with hominins”: Homo antecessor, Homo bodoensis, Homo heidelbergensis, many of which inhabited the Earth during the very same periods. There are at least a half dozen now that are widely recognised, and more seem to be discovered all the time.

    The Neanderthals have been joined, much more recently, for instance, by such species as Homo floresiensis, irritatingly referred to as “hobbits” after the discovery of a diminutive skeleton in Indonesia in 2003. In 2010, we got decisive proof of the Denisovans, another hominin, in Siberia. In the years since, the hominin ranks have swelled yet further to include Homo naledi (South Africa) and Homo luzonensis (the Philippines). No one doubts that further archaeological work, particularly in Africa, will yield yet more hominins. [I did not know this!] But the parade of archaic humans all began with the most popular of our fellow hominins: the Neanderthals.

    It is beyond doubt now that the knuckle-dragging stereotype of the Neanderthal was based on a crude mistake. Marcellin Boule, a French pioneer in the subject, has much to answer for…

    The Neanderthals, in other words, walked erect, hunted big game and knew how to control fire: hardly the knuckle-draggers of stereotype.

    Last year, the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine was given to the scientist whose work has put a number to just how human the Neanderthals were. Svante Pääbo, a Swedish geneticist, was a pioneer in the study of “paleogenetics”, which began with the discovery of how DNA might be extracted from a range of sources: old bones and teeth, naturally, but also from cave sediments. The techniques he and his colleagues refined have enabled us to know vastly more about the Neanderthals, their bodies, their habits and their habitats, than their 19th-century discoverers could ever have imagined possible.

    The genome offered strong support to what had previously been only a hypothesis: that Homo sapiens and the Neanderthals had had a common ancestor who lived about 600,000 years ago. More significantly, it showed that when early Homo sapiens had walked from their original home in Africa into Eurasia, they had encountered Neanderthals there and interbred with them. The Neanderthals were among the genetic ancestors of modern Europeans and Asians (but not of modern Africans). Eurasians today have between 1.5 and 2.1% of Neanderthal DNA.

    There appear to be perils in both directions [emphasizing similarity and difference], perils that the analogy with racism brings out. These debates echo conversations that have haunted us since Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. But it is an essential part of our conversations about colonialism that enough of the colonised – and enough of their ways of life – have survived for them, or their descendants, to give their own answers to these questions about similarity and difference. Importantly, not every person in a colonised nation has given the same answer to these questions. Maybe we shouldn’t even assume it has a single correct answer.

    The Neanderthals cannot speak. As we put our insistent questions to their bones, their genes and their hearths, we can never be sure that the voice that answers isn’t just ours, echoing back to us from an ancient cave. But perhaps the mistake lies in thinking that the question “Are they like us or different?” presents a real choice. Perhaps the correct answer to that question is, quite simply, “Yes”. Maybe the best way to accord them their dignity is to treat them as we treat each other in at least one respect: by allowing them to be puzzling.

    In puzzling over them, we reveal something of ourselves. Why might some of us care so much about creatures so long extinct? No doubt part of the answer is that questions about the Neanderthals serve as proxies for questions about ourselves. The old fiction writer’s choice between a picture of the Neanderthals as thugs and one of them as prototypical flower children no doubt reflects anxieties about human nature that have haunted the last few centuries of our history…

    There is more to this than a projection of narcissistic concern. Contemporary scientists appear to be divided between those who think Neanderthal dignity calls for a recognition of their similarity to us, and those who think it calls for a recognition of their difference. It is striking that the camps are of one mind in thinking that dignity – or respect or something of that kind – is owed here, and that fact itself needs an explanation.

    But is it really all that eccentric? Is it really odder to want justice for extinct Neanderthals than it is to want a wrongly convicted friend to be posthumously exonerated? Thinkers dismissed in their lifetimes as kooks or cranks have been vindicated several centuries after their martyrdom, by those who rejoiced that justice had finally been done. It is, if anything, a part of human nature to resist the idea that our interests die with us: a part of our nature, and a beautiful one at that. And it makes one wonder: when the civilisations of Homo sapiens have been reduced to bones and rubble, will our successors on this planet, digging up our mounds of plastic waste, be as anxious to give us our due?

  74. Reginald Selkirk says

    Tuberville to try going around his own blockade to confirm Marine commandant

    Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) told senators that he will attempt to force a one-off vote on Wednesday to confirm Gen. Eric Smith to become the new commandant for the Marine Corps while he maintains his blockade on more than 300 military promotions.

    Tuberville told Senate Republicans on Tuesday during their weekly conference lunch that he will go to the floor and attempt to bring Smith’s nomination up for consideration, which would tee up a cloture vote unless Senate Democrats object to his effort…

  75. birgerjohansson says

    Trump makes an odd speech, even by his standards.
    (As my phone cannot show the difference between l and I , I must try several links)

  76. Reginald Selkirk says

    Acting Temple University president JoAnne A. Epps dies after falling ill on stage

    Temple University acting president JoAnne A. Epps died Tuesday shortly after becoming ill on stage during a memorial service, officials said, describing her loss as a gut punch and struggling through emotion as they recalled her nearly four decades of service.

    Epps was attending a memorial service at the university for Charles L. Blockson, a curator of a collection of African American artifacts, when she suffered what a doctor speaking at a news conference described as a “sudden episode.”

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Epps, who was scheduled to speak at the service, slumped in her chair shortly after the event began and was carried out in the arms of a uniformed officer after the announcer asked if there was a doctor in the house.

    Epps was taken to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, the university said. She was 72…

  77. whheydt says

    Re: SC (Salty Current) @ #89…
    My late wife did secretarial work for a lab on the UC Berkeley campus at which Svante Paabo spent some time as a post-doc. So she met him before he became famous.

    The basic mistake made with the Neanderthal type specimen is that he was an old man with arthritis. The mere fact that he lived long enough to get to that condition says quite a bit about Neanderthal society.

  78. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #90…
    Democrats should insist on following normal procedure and bring up whatever group the Marine Commandant is part of on the consent calendar. Of course…someone might “object” to bringing up only that group and state that the objection will be released if the entire set of promotion lists groups are brought on the consent calendar and approved, e.g. by bringing the Marine Commandant last.

  79. birgerjohansson says

    A question:
    If placozoans are 800 million years old, does not that mean they pre-date the last ‘snowball Earth’ episode?

    And -as they constitute several thousand cells and are less robust than single-celled animals, is not this a final evidence that open water must have existed even during the coldest periods?

  80. says

    The Neanderthal article @ #89 brought to mind the beautiful prologue to Giorgio Bassani’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis:

    For many years I wanted to write about the Finzi-Continis – about Micòl and Alberto, about Professor Ermanno and Signora Olga – and about all the others who inhabited or, like me, frequented the house in Corso Ercole I d’Este, in Ferrara, just before the outbreak of the last war. But the stimulus, the impulse to do it really came to me only a year ago, on a Sunday in April 1957.

    It was during one of those usual weekend excursions. I was with a group of friends, divined between two automobiles, and we had set off along the Via Aurelia immediately after midday dinner, without a specific destination….

    We walked up and down for perhaps twenty minutes, following the arc of the beach. The only jolly person of the company was a little girl of nine, daughter of the young couple in whose car I was riding. Thrilled by the same wind, the sea, the mad eddies of sand, Giannini gave her gay, expansive nature free rein….

    After we had reached the Via Aurelia again, in five minutes’ time we were in sight of the turnoff for Cerveteri….

    Thus we found ourselves driving along the smooth little paved road that quickly takes you to a small cluster of houses, mostly recent, and from there, proceeding tortuously towards the inland hills, to the famous Etruscan necropolis. Nobody asked for explanations, and I also remained silent.

    After the village, the road began to climb slightly, forcing the car to slow down. We were now passing, at a few yards’ distance, the so-called montarozzi, or mounds, which as far as Tarquinia, and even beyond, are scattered throughout that stretch of Latium north of Rome, more towards the hills than towards the sea. The area, really, is nothing but an immense, almost uninterrupted cemetery. Here the grass is greener, thicker, darker than that of the plain below, between the Aurelia and the Tyrrhenian: a sign that the ternal sirocco, blowing obliquely from the sea, when it arrives up here, has lost much of its brine along the way, and the moisture of the nearby mountains begins to exercise its beneficial influence on the vegetation.

    ‘Where are we going?” Giannini asked.

    Husband and wife were both sitting on the front seat, the child between them. The father took his hand off the wheel and placed it on his daughter’s dark curls.

    ‘We’re going to take a look at some tombs that date back four or five thousand years,’ he answered, in the tone of somebody beginning to tell a fairy tale, who therefore has no hesitation about exaggerating numbers. ‘Etruscan tombs.’

    ‘How sad!’ Giannini sighed, pressing her neck against the back of the seat.

    ‘Sad? Why? In school haven’t they told you about the Etruscans?’

    ‘In our history book the Etruscans are at the beginning, next to the Egyptians and the Jews. Tell me Papà: who do you think were more ancient, the Etruscans or the Jews?’

    Her father burst out laughing.

    ‘Ask that gentleman back there,’ he said, jerking his thumb towards me….

    “Papà,’ Gianninia asked again, ‘why is it that ancient tombs are not as sad as new ones?’

    ‘That’s obvious,’ he answered. ‘People who have just died are closer to us, and so we are fonder of them. The Etruscans, after all, have been dead for a long time’ – again he was telling a fairy tale – ‘so long it’s as if they had never lived, as if they had always been dead.’

    Another longer pause. At the end of it (we were already near the open space I front of the entrance to the necropolis, full of automobiles and buses), it was Giannina’s turn to impart the lesson.

    ‘But now, if you say that,’ she ventured softly, ‘you remind me that the Etruscans were also alive once, and so I’m fond of them, like everyone else.’

    Our visit then to the necropolis, I recall, was completely affected by the extraordinary tenderness of this sentence. Giannina had prepared us to understand. It was she, the youngest, who somehow guided us….

    Here’s an article about it.

  81. says

    Guardian – “European governments shrinking railways in favour of road-building, report finds”:

    European governments have “systematically” shrunk their railways and starved them of funding while pouring money into expanding their road network, a report has found.

    The length of motorways in Europe grew 60% between 1995 and 2020 while railways shrank 6.5%, according to research from the German thinktanks Wuppertal Institute and T3 Transportation. For every €1 governments spent building railways, they spent €1.6 building roads.

    “This is a political choice,” said Lorelei Limousin, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace, which commissioned the report. “We see the consequences today with the climate, but also with people who have been left without an alternative solution to cars.”

    The report found the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK spent €1.5tn (£1.29tn) between 1995 and 2018 to extend their roads – but just €0.93tn (£0.8tn) to extend their rail networks.

    In the four years that followed (2018-21), the average gap in investment in rail and road decreased from 66% to 34%. During that time, seven countries invested more in rail than roads – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the UK – while the rest spent more on roads than rail.

    Dr Giulio Mattioli, a transport researcher at the Technical University of Dortmund, who was not involved in the study, said: “Most European countries have been actually encouraging car use by investing large amounts of public money into expanding motorway infrastructure.”

    In the public and political debate, Mattioli added, small investments into bike lanes and railways were heavily scrutinised while investments in roads were taken for granted. “This absolutely needs to change if we are to meet climate mitigation targets in the transport sector.”

    The report found motorways grew most in Ireland, Romania and Poland, and least in Lithuania, Latvia and Belgium. In 15 of the 30 countries studied, the lengths of motorways more than doubled over the 25-year period.

    At the same time, the report found, European governments had shut down more than 2,500 train stations since the mid-90s. They also closed about 8,523 miles (13,717 km) of regional passenger railway lines. As a rough estimation, the researchers said, 4536 miles of these lines could be reopened “relatively easily”.

    The EU plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by the end of the decade from 1990 levels but has failed to make any headway in its transport sector. Road transport was responsible for three-quarters of the sector’s emissions in 2020….

    Greenpeace called on governments to move money away from roads and towards railways, public transport, cycle lanes and pavements. It also demanded an end to all new motorways and airports.

    Limousin said: “To help people shift from cars to public transport, which is really key to cut the emissions of transport, we need to make the infrastructure fit for that challenge. We need the government to stop closing train lines and stations, reopen those which have been closed and that we can easily reopen … and massively increase the public funding in real solutions.”

  82. says

    Ukraine Update: Russians in Ukraine are having a very bad time

    Today, we’re going to look at the war through Russian eyes. And no, not Russian propaganda, where they pretend that Ukraine is just the first step toward Russia’s glorious reconquest of its former eastern European colonies.

    We’re going to look at it from the viewpoint of people directly impacted by the war.

    The following story excerpts are from the Russian-language Radio Freedom (translated by Safari’s browser translator, hence the funky punctuation). Radio Freedom is an American-funded project of Radio Free Europe, started by the CIA in the 1950s, but under State Department purview since 1972. In this case, its journalists talked with the distraught wife of a mobilized Russian soldier, using pseudonyms to protect their identities. “Vera” talks about “Denis,” her mobilized husband.

    He called on Thursday and said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine take Andreevka, break through to Bakhmut, – says Vera. – And they are thrown into this Andreevka almost without weapons – he said: roughly speaking, we go to them with shovels and without artillery support. There is nowhere to retreat, because they are behind their own, who will not spare them either. He said that there were four hundred left of the regiment of a thousand people. Six hundred did not return from assignments. And all this in just two days. And in the official reports we are told that only 2-3 people died.

    He is talking about Andriivka, south of Bakhmut, liberated by Ukraine in the the past couple of days.

    Yesterday my mother-in-law wrote to a group of mothers and wives of the mobilized 94th regiment that our guys were in a difficult situation, – says Vera. – That they do not have weapons. And she suggested that this information be “distributed” on social networks. And everyone attacked her: you don’t have to set everyone up. They worry more because of their salary than because of their husbands. They are worried that if the names of the rebels come up, they will simply be “missing” and they will not be paid.

    Little Fedya, sitting on his mother’s lap, knocks his finger on the phone. The photo on the screensaver is a young man with a son on his shoulders.

    “Dad,” says the boy.

    – Yes, Dad, – Vera nods. – I don’t want my son to know his father only from photos.

    Russian dictator Vladimir Putin learned of the power of Russian mothers and wives during the Chechen War, when the Union of the Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia agitated against Russia’s effort to pacify its rebel province. He did not want a repeat, and has successfully neutralized their efforts by punishing the families of any vocal dissenters.

    If they speak up, Russia marks their loved ones as “missing in action,” meaning that no benefits pay out. Family members are blacklisted from working at state enterprises, and their children are denied survivors benefits. As Vera notes later in the interview, if her husband’s name goes public, “he will simply be recognized as an enemy of the people. And then this status will automatically go to the children. My husband is also afraid that this will affect his son.” Her husband is better off dying, for their son’s sake, than publicly fighting for change. [Holy shit!] This, in short, is why Russians are such sheep.

    The concept of “blocking” troops comes up regularly. It’s a supposed line of Russian officers (sometimes the claim is that they’re Chechen soldiers) who shoot any of their men attempting to retreat. I’ve yet to see evidence that this is real in this war. Russia doesn’t have enough troops to move forward; are they really going to waste manpower to shoot stragglers? If this happened, we’d have drone footage of it by now.

    What we have seen is Russia targeting its forces attempting to surrender. But even that might be inadvertent. Where is Russia shelling? Where Ukrainian soldiers are. Where are these surrendering Russian soldiers? On Ukraine’s side of the contact line. I’m not saying blocking forces aren’t real, but the evidence just isn’t there.

    It is one hell of a bogeyman, however, and if the threat of blocking troops is enough to keep hapless Russians from panicking in retreat, then those stories have served their purpose. As Denis notes at one point in the story:

    – I don’t know what it’s fraught with. Although, most likely, I know, but I can’t voice it. Nobody tried it. Because…

    – Will you face death, if not on one side, on the other?

    – Roughly speaking, yes.

    Nobody has tried it. It’s a scare tactic. What we do have is evidence of Russian commanders beating their soldiers for refusing to make suicidal charges or retreating. And rather than fight back—they do have rifles, after all—they sit there and take the beatings. […]

    Back to the Radio Freedom story: “Vera’s” husband says the sadistic commander of his brigade is an officer named Zaitsev, a local from either Luhansk or Donetsk. It is this officer who sends his troops on “meat attacks” that have killed hundreds in his brigade. This absolutely tracks. Remember, early in the war, Russian officers sent tens of thousands of residents of Russian-occupied Donbas to slaughter. They weren’t real Russians, so they didn’t show up in casualty figures back in Russia. It was all very convenient—until Russia literally ran out of men to conscript in their occupied territories.

    We’ve heard repeated stories of officers from Luhansk and Donetsk, now reinforced with Russian mobilized, returning the favor by sending their Russian charges to die in suicide charges. Whether it’s incompetence or intentional payback, who knows.

    – So the artillery doesn’t help you?

    – Not that it doesn’t help. The command does not allocate shells to them.

    – Are you promised help and support?

    People die for nothing. People go one way and don’t come back

    – We work here in the same helmet. There is no interaction with anyone else. Everything happens very slowly – either the artillery does not shoot, or you have to wait for the shot for a very long time.

    – What are you afraid of now?

    – The fact that we are thrown there like meat. People die for nothing. People go one way and don’t come back.

    Russia is certainly suffering from “shell hunger,” or the shortage of critical ammunition. There’s a reason Putin is groveling to North Korea for help. There was much fanfare this week when The New York Times reported that Russia had expanded its artillery shell production to 2 million shells per year—double its original output. That sounds terrible, for sure, but simple math tells us that’s … 5,500 shells per day. At one point, Russia was firing nine times that amount, or 40-50,000 shells per day. Given Russian doctrine’s overwhelming reliance on artillery, 5,500 is a pittance.

    Meanwhile, while this poor guy thinks it’s all shell hunger, it could very well be a shortage of actual artillery guns. As has been the case since the start of the summer counteroffensive, Ukraine is claiming an average of 30-40 destroyed Russian artillery guns every single day. We’ve seen Russia run low on self-propelled artillery, increasingly reliant on old, obsolete, unreliable towed guns.

    Not that it’s either/or—a lack of guns and a lack of shells could both be at fault. But this suggests it’s the former:

    – Are there more losses? – We have twenty-five people leaving for the task, six are coming back. Our artillerymen have now stormed. They were told: you don’t have any ammunition anyway, go as an infantry.

    Seems counterproductive to send trained artillerymen to slaughter if the issue is merely a lack of ammunition. If nothing else, they’d presumably wait for North Korea to replenish stocks. My guess is that the lack of guns is the bigger issue. Shells can eventually be replenished. Guns, not so much. And without guns, there’s no need for artillery men.

    Meanwhile, we’ve often asked why Russia keeps sending men out to die in the open, rather than holding defensive lines Ukraine has otherwise struggled to breach. One operating theory is that no officer wants to report to his superiors that they’ve lost territory. Instead, they keep fighting over lost ground so that they don’t have to deliver the bad news. This story certainly lends that theory support.

    – How are your comrades in the mood?

    – They’re not in the mood to die for nothing. If there is artillery support, interaction with other units and there is no ammunition famine, then everyone is ready to fight. But no one wants to fight like that. In direct text, they tell us: go, fix yourself there. And we see that it’s not our positions for a long time, we also raise the “bird”. And in general, you can see with the naked eye that our positions have not been there for a long time. And the command claims that it’s ours.

    They send Russians to die inside the town because they still claim, to their superiors, that the town is theirs. As long as there are Russian bodies in Andriivka (or wherever), Russian commanders can maintain the fiction that they haven’t lost the territory. They don’t care if they have to lose dozens or hundreds of men every day to keep up the charade.

    Now, let’s check in on Aleksander Kots, a Russian war blogger with over 600,000 followers on Telegram. The post is translated by Telegram’s translator, and deals with a Russian in Klishchiivka, just down the street from Andriivka above.

    In Kleshcheevka from a direct participant.

    “A small area on the Bakhmut side is still ours. Several houses in the north and northeast. The main battle is now to the east (Khokhol approached the railway line and is gaining a foothold, we are attacking) and to the north-west (we are gaining a foothold, they are attacking).

    [Artillery] works for them very accurately and competently. They don’t spare shells at all. Previously, they stopped working when they approached their positions within 150 meters. Now they charge us even when we are 50.

    There is no big offensive with heavy equipment. They work in small assault groups plus a strong reinforcement group. Overnight they build it up in such a way that it’s amazing – from scratch, a full-fledged indoor dugout or shelter for the foundation of a house.

    There are very few copters for the carousel and spare batteries – especially at night, a significant part of the movements and work takes place without our supervision. If we take a position away from them, they immediately raze them to the ground, sometimes to their own. And they come in again.

    The advantage in art, observation and adjustment from the air is decisive for them. Well, and the dominant heights, the undulating terrain is very bad for us. Plus, their electronic warfare is still stronger, although we also have fun moments for them in this regard.”

    It can sometimes be a challenge to work through some of these translations, but this participant is seemingly claiming that Ukrainian artillery keeps working, even when their infantry is 50 meters away. That’s hard to believe, given the nature of the beast. Even 150 meters is aggressive. They may be facing mortar or even grenade launchers, allowing for greater accuracy. Or maybe it’s tanks hitting Russian positions directly. It could even be anti-tank missiles fired at defensive positions. It’s important to note that the people in the trenches are sometimes the least capable of figuring out what’s going on. They see and feel explosions all around, and it might as well be artillery. [Good explanation]

    Regardless, the bigger takeaway is that Ukraine has that artillery advantage along this part of the front. And Russia certainly helps Ukraine out with their “meat assaults” out in the open.

    Here’s another one from a Telegram account focused on mobilization information. A group of family members are speaking out on video, showing some modicum of valor.

    Relatives of those mobilized from military unit No. 78064 from the village of Sakulovo, Chelyabinsk region, recorded a video message to Alexander Bastrykin [head of Russia’s Investigative Committee]. Mothers, wives, sisters and children of military personnel are asking for leave for their men, many of whom have not been home for almost a year.

    “Please give my son a vacation. It’s very hard for him there too, he’s tired,” one of the women asks through tears.

    Relatives of those mobilized said that the authorities not only did not respect the legal rights of the soldiers, but also threatened them with death.

    “The boys are trying to write reports, some complaints. They submit a vacation report to them, that is, they write it, give it to them, and they simply tear it up. Or they say: “If you want to live, it’s better not to bother with us.” Naturally, they don’t go after that,” said the sister of one of the mobilized.

    The commanders do not release the soldiers – they simply tear up the threatening reports:

    “Until half of you lie down here, we won’t let you go.”

    Women tried to write complaints and appeals to the military prosecutor’s office and this unit. Those who were able to contact this part received the following response:

    “If even one more request is received from you, then your guys will arrive in two hundred.” [“Two hundred” is Russian code for “killed in action.”]

    In a video message, the women said that the military was being held in inhumane conditions. The conscripts buy equipment and everything they need either themselves or their relatives.

    Another confirmation of the violation of the rights of soldiers and the bestial attitude towards them. The commanders, saving their lives, hide behind the mobilized.

    Bleak. So, so bleak.

    And the news for Russia isn’t likely to get better anytime soon: [Tweet at the link.]


    And unfortunately I have to admit that non-fatal, but very painful “difficult decisions” will be made quite soon. If this time they try to shift all the blame onto front- line officers (that is, the “middle link”), then I will reserve the right to move on to voicing the names, decisions and specific moments that led to such a situation. I realize that such specifics will be a holiday for the enemy. I realize that after something like this the channel can be buried.

    But maintaining the current order of things is no longer possible.

    “The channel can be buried” is a nod to Russia’s ongoing crackdown of critical Telegram bloggers.
    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in New York to address the United Nations. His first stop off the plane? He visited Ukrainian soldiers rehabilitating from severe combat injuries. [Tweets with many images at the link]
    Hmmm …[tweet and image at the link: #China has stopped supplying drones to the #Russian Federation
    It is prohibited to import drones weighing 4 kg or more or with a maximum takeoff weight of 7 kg with a flight duration of more than 30 minutes from China to Russia from September 1. Also under the ban are UAVs capable of "carrying cargo with the function of dropping or with the possibility of securing such a device."
    In addition, China has restricted the supply of a number of important drone components.]

    A friendship without boundaries, Russia and China said days before the invasion of Ukraine. After almost two years of war, China is still uninterested in going down with Russia’s ship.
    Remember all those gains Russia made around Kupyansk in northeast Ukraine, as they sought to tie up Ukrainian reserves in Kharkiv oblast? Well … [Tweet and map at the link] Basically, Russia has lost much of its gains, and we’re almost back to where we started at the beginning of the summer.

  83. says

    Jazzlet, thanks for the link. It is delightful.

    Followup to comment 100. Posted by readers of the article:

    Russian soldiers’ bleak future in the Ukrainian battlefield must be why Russian recruiting advertisements now feature videos of Russian soldiers under fire in trenches discussing “how they will live in property seized in Ukrainian cities”. Since the whole justification for the invasion of Ukraine is a lie, why not continue to lie when recruiting about how much loot the troops will get? After all, lying is what Putin’s Russia does best.
    Russia now has “Z-Youth” making propaganda videos and glorifying war.
    Shades of the Nazi Youth core.
    I remember seeing a drone video of the Russian blocking troops shooting their own. I did manage to find it again:
    A Russian colleague in my office heard through his grapevine that the “blocking” action often appears to be a simple and straightforward threat by officers to any troops tasked with moving forward that they will charge the first ten or twenty or whatever number of soldiers who retreat with desertion, which now carries a roughly ten-year prison sentence. No-one wants to be the first to be charged, so everybody sort of lingers in the combat zone where they become chicken fodder, tragic.
    It is typical of the Russians to lie to their own troops to scare them into fighting – just as they lie to them about the “torture” they face at the hands of the Ukrainians if they surrender.
    These poor souls are not dying for any gain; they are dying to try and avoid their family losing everything.
    What’s waiting for them back home? Poverty at best, prison or execution at worst.

    They could defect, but they usually have some people back home they love who would be punished.

    It’s all shit whichever direction they look. The Russians with money got out of the country early.

  84. StevoR says

    The Curiosity rover ahs reached one of its toughest destinations Gediz Vallis Ridge which may wellteach us about ancient martian landslides – see :

    Camptosaurus skeleton for sale :

    Not going cheap and sadly probly not to science or museum?

    Artemis 3 landing site imaged :

  85. StevoR says

    RNA has been recovered from an extinct species for the first time
    by Stockholm University

    A new study shows the isolation and sequencing of more than a century-old RNA molecules from a Tasmanian tiger specimen preserved at room temperature in a museum collection. This resulted in the reconstruction of skin and skeletal muscle transcriptomes from an extinct species for the first time.The researchers note that their findings have relevant implications for international efforts to resurrect extinct species, including both the Tasmanian tiger and the wooly mammoth, as well as for studying pandemic RNA viruses.

    The Tasmanian tiger, also known as the thylacine, was a remarkable apex carnivorous marsupial that was once distributed all across the Australian continent and the island of Tasmania. This extraordinary species found its final demise after European colonization, when it was declared as an agricultural pest and a bounty of £1 per each full-grown animal killed was set by 1888. The last known living Tasmanian tiger died in captivity in 1936 at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, Tasmania.

    Source :

  86. says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk 107
    There’s a place to refer to the supporters and enablers of this as “the liars”. They have to use words that don’t apply beyond casual public and political use.

    I’m thinking of a mocking series of observations that require the concept of the concepts > fetus to engage with. Things that I can use to demonstrate dishonesty through a legislative lie.

    This one isn’t technically fetus puppetry, it’s fetus outfit play like with dolls put a child characteristics on a fetus, and then play puppets.

  87. says

    Some Republican Congresspersons are saying the truth out loud:

    Congressional Republicans are clearly struggling with the most basic tasks of governing right now. The result is an increasingly likely government shutdown, chatter about GOP members fighting it out in an intra-party “civil war,” and an uncertain future for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

    But the current conditions are also leading some Republican lawmakers to take stock of what’s become of their conference. After one of yesterday’s failed votes, House Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers told Politico the failure was “illustrative that we’ve got five clowns that don’t know what they want except attention.” [Yep]

    Rep. Mike Lawler of New York — one of 18 House Republicans who represent a district President Joe Biden won in 2020 — spoke to Capitol Hill reporters late yesterday and went a little further:

    “I wouldn’t even call them my right flank. This is not conservative Republicanism. This is stupidity. The idea we are going to shut the government down when we don’t control the Senate, we don’t control the White House. … These people can’t define a win. They don’t know how to take yes for an answer. It is a clown show.”

    As part of the same informal Q&A on the Capitol steps, Lawler added, “If you want to have a stronger hand, run better candidates, and win more elections. If you keep running lunatics, you will be in this position.”

    On the surface, the congressman’s frustrations are understandable. Lawler is no doubt concerned about his future political prospects, and the challenges of running for re-election in a competitive district while being associated with a far-right political party that struggles to do the basics. He very likely wants to avoid a shutdown next week, and it’s tough to blame him for feeling exasperated.

    But I was struck by how the New York Republican characterized his concerns: Lawler didn’t just blame his radical GOP colleagues for their intransigence; he also suggested that the party and its voters ultimately share the blame.

    Indeed, Lawler’s assessment rings true: If the Republican Party runs “better candidates,” there will be better outcomes. When the GOP runs what the New Yorker described as “lunatics,” we’re left with the chaos and crises that are gripping Congress right now.

    In other words, it’s easy to blame the so-called “clowns,” and there’s no doubt that they’ve earned the criticisms they’re now facing. But Lawler referenced a party-wide problem that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.


  88. says

    House Republican chaos pushes U.S. closer to government shutdown

    As yesterday began on Capitol Hill, House Republican leaders had a relatively specific plan in mind for how the day would unfold. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his team intended to advance a stopgap spending bill — negotiated by two GOP factions — with the goal of preventing a government shutdown, which would then be followed by a procedural vote on a defense spending package.

    The first part of the plan was derailed when Republican leaders came to realize that they didn’t have the votes, because too many of their own members were opposed to their own party’s legislation. The second part of the plan fell apart soon after — for the same reason. As NBC News summarized:

    Republican divisions paralyzed the House again on Tuesday as a small band of conservative rebels blocked a motion to merely begin debate on a military funding bill and GOP leaders abandoned a separate vote to avert a shutdown at the end of the month.

    The failure to pass the defense spending bill was especially embarrassing for McCarthy — in part because he’s now failed to pass this measure twice in two weeks.

    A Politico report summarized last week’s developments this way: “To take a step back, this is a pretty dismal position for McCarthy to find himself in. He’s not stretching to pass a monumental piece of legislation. This is a routine spending bill — one that is typically the least controversial, seeing as it funds troop salaries and otherwise provides for the national defense. If he can’t pass this, what can he pass?”

    A week later, the House speaker tried again, only to see a handful of Republican members reject a procedural vote — known as a vote on the rule — on the same appropriations bill.

    For those who don’t follow Capitol Hill closely, the process of adopting a “rule” might be unfamiliar, but it’s a relatively straightforward step: Before a bill can be voted on, members adopt a measure to establish ground rules for the length of the debate, how it can be amended, etc. In nearly every instance, it’s little more than a procedural speed bump.

    In fact, up until very recently a House majority conference hasn’t lost a vote on adopting a rule in more than two decades. This year, thanks to House Republicans, it’s now happened twice since June.

    This came the same day in which the McCarthy-backed bill to prevent a shutdown was also derailed by members of his conference.

    NBC News’ report added, “The House GOP chaos is worse than it may appear. The bills Republicans are fighting over have no chance of becoming law — and if they passed the chamber they’d merely represent an opening bid to negotiate with the Democratic-led Senate and President Joe Biden, who oppose the spending cuts and conservative policies that House Republicans are pursuing.”

    It’s a key detail. Even if the measures the House speaker supports were to somehow pass, it wouldn’t matter: These are far-right plans that would face inevitable defeat in the Democratic-led Senate. But the fact that McCarthy can’t advance bad bills — because too many of his own members think they’re not quite radical enough — reinforces the increasingly obvious fact that electing a GOP majority in the House has brought a ridiculous level of chaos to Capitol Hill.

    The bad news is that Republicans are pushing the nation closer to a government shutdown, which would begin next week. The worse news is that there’s an obvious solution that the hapless House speaker is going out of his way to ignore.

    To prevent a shutdown, policymakers will need to craft a stopgap spending bill — known as a “continuing resolution,” or “CR” — that can pass both chambers and get President Biden’s signature. In theory, that should be easy: The recently approved debt ceiling agreement set spending levels that both parties agreed on.

    But in practice, many House Republicans are refusing to go along with appropriations bills unless they spend far less. McCarthy could simply ignore their intransigence and pass spending bills with Democratic votes, but at that point, the House speaker realizes that some of his own members would try to fire him.

    The deadline is 10 days away.

  89. Reginald Selkirk says


    As part of the same informal Q&A on the Capitol steps, Lawler added, “If you want to have a stronger hand, run better candidates, and win more elections. If you keep running lunatics, you will be in this position.”

    But Republican voters have made it clear they prefer to be represented by lunatics.

  90. says

    News about Democratic Party candidates winning at the state level … good news:

    * With control of Pennsylvania’s state House on the line, Democrat Lindsay Powell defeated Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith in a legislative special election yesterday. The results were not close: With nearly all of the votes counted, Powell’s advantage is roughly 30 points. [summarized from a New York Times article]

    * In related news, Democrat Hal Rafter defeated Republican James Guzofski in a New Hampshire state legislative special election, flipping the seat from “red” to “blue.” Though Rafter prevailed by 12 points, the outcome was hardly assured: This is a district that backed Donald Trump in the 2020 cycle. [summarized from WMUR New Hampshire website]

  91. says

    Was Trump Telling Aide To Lie When He Told Her To Lie? New York Times Helps ABC With The Hard Questions

    There was a funny moment in an otherwise good ABC News report this week, which revealed that Donald Trump liked to use the classified documents he stole as scratch paper. From the reporting, it seems like these were extremely dumbed down note cards that had been prepared for the purpose of briefing Trump when he was president […]

    The aide in question, Molly Michael, had also told investigators that last year, when Trump found out the FBI wanted to interview Michael about his stolen classified documents, he said to her, “You don’t know anything about the boxes.”

    And ABC News said, we shit you not, “It’s unclear exactly what he meant by that.”

    And everybody started laughing at ABC News for being such a naive idiot, and started coming up with funny things to tell ABC News to see if they would believe it.

    […] “Hey ABC News! It’s totally possible that when Donald Trump is clearly telling his underlings to lie and/or commit crimes, in the painfully obvious style of a mob boss, that he is not really telling them to lie and/or commit crimes, and we should probably give him the benefit of the doubt.”

    SMDH. [Shaking My Damn Head]

    Maggie Haberman and one of her Times buddies did ABC News a solid and did their own reporting, wherein they were sure to CLARIFY VERY SLOWLY that Trump meant to tell Michael to lie just then. The headline explains that Trump told Michael “not to acknowledge” that she knew about his stolen classified boxes.

    Then the first graf:

    A former assistant to Donald J. Trump has informed investigators that the former president told her to say she did not know anything about the boxes containing classified documents that he had stashed at his private club in Florida after leaving the White House, according to a person briefed on her comments.

    And then Haberman’s reporting goes back and confirms the rest of what ABC News had to say […]

    Trump’s spox Steven Cheung, who is paid to defend history’s most pointless American, is just apoplectic about all of this, in a statement that’s pretty much the same as what ABC News had:

    “These illegal leaks are coming from sources which totally lack proper context and relevant information,” said Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump. “The Department of Justice should investigate the criminal leaking, instead of perpetrating their baseless witch hunts.”

    Sure thing, Steven. Did Daddy write that for you on a classified notecard?

    It’s nice to see the New York Times helping somebody else out, though. Usually it’s the Times that’s totally missed the fucking point, writing shitty headlines like “Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link To Russia,” and everybody else (Wonkette) has to gently show the paper of record Journalism, How Does It Work?

    We guess they’re just paying it forward this time.

  92. says

    As the world finally starts the transition away from fossil fuels, and sales of electric vehicles are really taking off, there’s been predictable pushback from the fossil fuel industry, not to mention outright disinformation about EVs, as well as valid concerns about the supply chain for the minerals that go into building EV batteries. Many of those minerals are sourced from poor countries where the labor conditions are often terrible, including child labor […]

    (The solution is to demand improved labor conditions, not to say, “OK, guess we’ll keep fossil fuels” — especially considering the human rights record of Big Oil in developing countries.)

    And then there are the bullshit claims that because batteries require more rare metals than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, EVs are somehow “just as bad” for the environment as gasoline or diesel powered vehicles, or worse. On social media, such claims are generally illustrated with a photo of icky lithium leaching tanks in Chile, or a stock photo of a giant pit mine that turns out to be a gold mine somewhere. […]

    For the sake of lining up some facts, Washington Post climate columnist Michael Coren compares the supply chain for EV batteries to that for fossil fuels and, to the surprise of nobody I’d hope, discovers that clean energy is cleaner:

    I looked into the world’s evolving supply chains for the clean-energy economy. In every scenario, it turns out, the demand for battery minerals represents a tiny fraction of the amounts of fossil fuels now needed to power the world.

    What’s In The Car (And The Wind Turbines, Etc.)

    When it comes to the powertrain for EVs, it’s true that their battery packs require a fair amount of critical minerals, while the engine blocks of ICE vehicles are mostly iron or aluminum.

    A typical 200-mile range EV lugs around a lithium-ion battery pack that’s nearly a third of the weight of the vehicle. Much of that weight is the battery pack’s casing, structural materials and a liquid electrolyte that ferries electrons around to charge and discharge the battery.

    But roughly 353 pounds are crucial minerals or metals, including cobalt, nickel, manganese, graphite, aluminum and copper, […] Not counting steel and aluminum, says MIT, an EV requires six times more minerals than a conventional vehicle.

    And yes, mining those minerals requires digging into the earth, and as a WaPo podcast series detailed (I don’t think it’s paywalled), the labor conditions can be terrible, and absolutely need to be addressed. That said, as Coren points out, those very real “environmental and social impacts,” when compared to business as usual in the fossil fuels industry, “are a drop in the barrel.”

    The Dirty Details

    As a f’rinstance, just the raw amount of “stuff we pull out of the ground” for clean energy and fossil fuels is vastly different. For all clean energy manufacturing, of “wind turbines, solar panels, EVs,” and the like, the world extracted 7 million tons of various minerals in 2020. Seven million tons is a lot!

    At least until you compare it to the 15 billion tons extracted by coal, oil, and gas in 2019 — most of which got burned, adding still more CO2 to heat the atmosphere — part of the 33 billion tons of CO2 the world emitted in 2019 (obviously, it wasn’t all extracted or burned in the same year). And then they need to extract the same amount year after year to keep the fossil fuel economy fossil fueled. On t’other hand, Coren adds, “Clean-energy technology can use these materials for decades or, if recycled, in perpetuity.”

    He provides a helpful graphic to compare the two. If you’re colorblind, you might miss the tiny green pixel representing clean-energy extraction. [graphic at the link]

    But wait! the fossilheads may well exclaim, what about when you try to replace all fossil fuels with your supposedly “clean” energy? Then the green square will be just as huge, suck it libs!

    It might sound like an impressive gotcha, at least until you remember that fossil fuels get all burned up while electric infrastructure stuff — not only EV batteries, but also wind turbines, geothermal pipes, solar panels, all of it — is pretty durable, and mostly recyclable. Just in terms of raw materials at the end of production, then, the green square would get bigger, but it would remain a tiny fraction of the big black one. According to the International Energy Agency, an all-in effort to keep global warming below 2 degrees C since preindustrial times would require about 28 million tons of various minerals a year — and that shit wouldn’t be going into the atmosphere to cause additional warming, either; and a lot of it would be recycled at the end of its use.

    Coren acknowledges that the total of finished materials “isn’t a perfect gauge of environmental damage,” particularly when you consider that you have to mine a lot of rock to get to the minerals you need. He notes that a ton of copper requires mining about 100 tons of ore, for instance.

    But even accounting for this, estimates Sam Calisch, a scientist at the nonprofit Rewiring America, mining minerals for the clean-energy economy amounts to extracting about five times less matter than what’s extracted by the fossil fuel industry. “This is still massive,” Calisch says.

    (Fun digression: A big Canadian copper mine is already using giant electric dump trucks the size of houses, so even extraction can be much cleaner than it is today.)

    Things That Make Us Go

    The biggest difference between ICE vehicles and EVs is, of course, the amount of crap spewed into the atmosphere, which is the whole point of decarbonization in the first place. Even when you include emissions from manufacturing and mineral extraction, EVs come out on top, generating about half the lifetime emissions of ICE vehicles.

    Yes, that’s even when EVs are charged by powerplants that burn coal or gas, because EVs are simply that much more efficient. With the current US energy mix, EVs on the road emit less than a third of the CO2 per mile of ICE vehicles. And obviously, when they’re charged by clean energy, like hydroelectric or home rooftop solar, the advantage grows even greater. As the US grid — also in need of upgrades! — decarbonizes, the EV advantage on carbon emissions will become even greater. Joe Biden’s benchmarks are to get US energy generation decarbonized by 2035, and for the nation to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

    Let me just underline that one more time, because a good third of the WaPo comments seemed to be people asking “But what good are EVs when our power plants burn coal and?” The calculation that EVs emit a third of the carbon of ICE vehicles includes the US grid as it is today, and as the grid goes greener, so will EVs.

    I’m sometimes astonished at the number of people who pretend that technology will never change, as if we won’t green the grid and build charging stations everywhere —yes, even for apartments — or that the current range of EV models will never expand to include small cheap EVs as well as the pricier models that make up much of current EV sales. It’s like claiming that cell phones will forever be the size of bricks and can only be used in cities where rich people can afford them. Harrumph.

    Fossil Fuels Make Us Sick. Windmills *Don’t* Cause Cancer.

    Finally, there’s the impacts on health and society from clean and dirty energy. Here, there’s virtually no comparison, even if you set aside the vast global impact of extreme weather events resulting from climate change (which of course you can’t).

    Even the mundane nastiness of an economy that burns coal, oil, and methane gas is pretty horrific, so transitioning to clean energy will have huge benefits beyond merely keeping large parts of the planet habitable.

    Air pollution, one of the world’s leading killers, will decrease as well. Fossil fuels are responsible for 4 million to 8 million excess deaths each year tied to air pollution, report studies in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science and Environmental Research.

    The downsides of EV supply chains — the pollution from extracting minerals, and the human toll of mining practices in the developing world — are real, but unlike the health impacts of using fossil fuels, are generally not inherent to the materials themselves. Critical minerals can be mined with greater care, and with ethical labor practices that should absolutely be enforced through international agreements, not just slapping an “ethically sourced” sticker on the side of the finished battery.

    The chemical composition of EV batteries is already changing as manufacturers find ways to make them without nickel or cobalt, using instead “metals such as manganese and iron that are safer, abundant, nontoxic and cheap.”

    Manufacturers now use six times less cobalt in EV batteries, or have eliminated it entirely in recent years. Last year, half of the vehicles Tesla sold in the first quarter contained batteries with no cobalt or nickel.

    Then of course there’s recycling, which is certain to increase simply because it’ll become cheaper than extracting more stuff, and because the minerals in EV batteries are too valuable to throw away.

    And yes, a million times yes, it’s not simply a matter of replacing every ICE vehicle with an EV. That too is a red herring: we’ll need better housing policy, more walkable cities with public transit, the whole ball of decarbonized wax. EVs are part of the climate solution, not in any sense all of it.

    But don’t worry: Even as we solve more and more challenges of the clean energy transition, the wingnut chorus will still be with us, perhaps complaining that ethically sourcing minerals is taking away jobs from children who used to work the mines.

  93. tomh says

    Alabama voters tell justices to stay out of election map dispute
    By Amy Howe / Sep 19, 2023

    Lawyers for Alabama voters urged the justices to stay out of a dispute over the state’s congressional map. Eight days after the state asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block lower-court rulings holding that a map drawn earlier this year likely violates the Voting Rights Act, the voters told the justices that the state’s appeal evokes “our unfortunate history of States resisting civil rights remedies through ‘laws and practices which, though neutral on their face, serve to maintain the status quo.’”

    Tuesday’s filings were the latest in the ongoing dispute over efforts in Alabama to draw new congressional maps in the wake of the 2020 census. Nearly 27 percent of the state’s residents are Black, but the seven-district map that the state’s Republican-controlled legislature enacted in 2021 had only one majority-Black district. In January 2022, two federal courts agreed that the 2021 map likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bans racial discrimination in voting. The Supreme Court put that decision on hold in February 2022, clearing the way for the state to use the map in the November 2022 elections, but in June the court upheld the rulings in favor of the challengers.

    Alabama enacted a new map in July, once again with only one majority-Black district. The lower courts agreed with the challengers that the 2023 plan also likely violated the Voting Rights Act and appointed an expert to draw a new map.

    Alabama came to the Supreme Court on Sept. 11, asking the justices to step in again. The voters urged the justices to reject the state’s appeal and leave the lower-court rulings in place. Election officials and legislators “are free to make whatever arguments they wish to the” court-appointed experts “about their preferred redistricting criteria for formulating the final remedial map,” the challengers wrote. But they can’t “pretend this motion is something other than what it is: a request to defy this Court’s decision by implementing a ‘remedy’ that cures nothing and prevents Black voters from having an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in a second congressional district.”

    The voters cautioned that putting the lower courts’ orders on hold will make it “all but certain” that 2024 elections will use “an unlawful, dilutive” plan.


  94. Reginald Selkirk says

    @117: Lawyers for Alabama voters…

    There are over 3.5 million voters in Alabama. They all got together and hired lawyers? That article takes for granted that the Lawyers are representing the voters without identifying them. Is it some sort of public interest group?

    It seems like the “Lawyers for Alabama voters” are on the side of good, but that is very sloppy reporting.

  95. Reginald Selkirk says

    MAGA Lawyer Lin Wood Flips Against Trump in Georgia Racketeering Case

    One of Donald Trump’s former lawyers flipped on him in the Georgia indictment, new court documents revealed Wednesday.

    Lin Wood was one of the first to promote the falsehood that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen. He was part of Trump’s legal team that unsuccessfully tried to overthrow the election. The Georgia grand jury had recommended Wood be charged for trying to overturn the state’s election results, but Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis declined to do so.

    Turns out that was because Wood opted to flip on his former boss. “L. Lin Wood is a witness for the State in the present case,” Willis explained in a court filing…

  96. tomh says

    @ #118
    Challengers to the map (voters) are represented by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, the ACLU and others.

  97. tomh says

    @ Reginald Selkirk #118
    You’re right that voters was a poor choice of words, it should have said voting rights advocates or something similar (on behalf of voters.) ‘Voters’ was an unnecessary shortcut. This wasn’t a general news story, though, but a blog that only follows the SC, so most readers would have realized that. I should have quoted the CNN story which used different terms. The SC filing is here if you’re interested.

  98. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 121

    Why do I think this headline was ripped straight from the plot of some 80s cyberpunk thriller?

  99. says

    […] in a highly diplomatic statement sure to please everyone, Fetterman [Sen. John Fetterman] has delivered a simple proposal right from the big chair at the front of the Senate. “If those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine, then I will save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor next week,” he said.

    Fetterman’s bipartisan outreach comes even as Republicans keep lining up to get knocked down. Whether it’s ding-a-ling pic-waver Marjorie Taylor Greene or expert on dumbing things down Ron DeSantis, Fetterman is seeming to take delight in dismissing all comers with a single, deftly applied jab.

    Since announcing his candidacy in 2022, Fetterman has had to deal with both recovering from a stroke and wrestling with depression while being under heavy public scrutiny. At every turn, he’s displayed high levels of bravery and an unwillingness to let others tell his story. And whatever Fetterman’s position when it comes to dealing with those highly publicized problems, they haven’t stopped him from firing back sharply and powerfully when attacked.

    Most of all, Fetterman seems to have zero tolerance for bullshit. He’s more than willing to dig in and work on issues. He’s absolutely unwilling to engage in the kind of nonsense that seems to consume most of the time and effort on Capitol Hill.

    However, that doesn’t mean he’s not willing to have a little fun with it all. In response to the critics of his sartorial splendor, Fetterman has issued a line of merchandise that includes hoodies for all occasions. He’s also had a good time laughing over an ongoing right-wing conspiracy theory that claims Fetterman was replaced at some point by a “body double.” (And yes, you can buy a T-shirt that says “John Fetterman’s Body Double.”) […]


  100. says

    Democrats pummel Republicans at Jim Jordan’s circus show

    Rep. Jim Jordan held one of the weaponized circus House Committee hearings Wednesday, featuring Attorney General Merrick Garland. Superficially, the hearing is supposed to get to the bottom of … nothing. It is a chance for the Republican Party, made up of Trump sycophants, to muddy the waters around the disgraced former president’s four indictments, while getting a chance to say the name “Hunter Biden” a few times.

    Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell decided that enough was enough, and used their time to break down how much of a cow-pie circus this entire Republican enterprise is. Schiff painted the big picture: “We meet today at a momentous time in our history. The country is about to go through a great trial. By this, I do not mean any of the several trials of the former president, but rather a trial of the proposition that we are a nation of laws committed to the rule of law and that no one is above the law.”

    Schiff then broke down how this “essential ingredient” of any democracy was under threat by Jordan, whom Schiff said was “trying to use the committee’s power of subpoena to compel criminal discovery—in effect, making the committee a kind of criminal defense firm for the former president.” What Jordan is trying to accomplish, according to Schiff, “would establish the principle that the rule of law should apply to almost everyone, just not the leader of his party.”

    Continuing his remarks, Schiff said, “According to this alternate proposition, if you were the president of the United States and you lose your reelection, you can violate the law and Constitution to try to stay in power. And if you are successful, well, then maybe you get to be president for life. And if you fail, there is no repercussion. This proposition is also well-known to the world, and it is called dictatorship.”

    At one point, Republican Rep. Thomas Massie suggested the attorney general could be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about ongoing investigations—something Garland reminded Massie would fly in the face of our Constitution’s separation of powers. Swalwell jumped off of this during his time, reminding everyone that “the guy who’s leaving the hearing room right now, Mr. Jordan, is about 500 days into evading his subpoena, about 500 days.”

    Swalwell didn’t let up on Jordan, “So if we’re going to talk about contempt of Congress, let’s get real. I mean, are you serious that Jim Jordan, a witness to one of the greatest crimes ever committed in America, a crime where more prosecutions have occurred than any crime committed in America, refuses to help his country and we’re going to get lectured about subpoena compliance in contempt of Congress?” He continued, saying that there is no credibility coming from Republicans on the committee, and that Jordan and his fellow House Republicans were busy holding these “clown show” hearings instead of passing gun safety laws and helping support Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Swalwell used the rest of his time to detail how many of those investigating Hunter Biden were appointed by Trump, and how Garland has bent over backward for conservatives in this matter.

    Every pathetic conspiracy theory being peddled by the likes of Jordan is so easily refutable by the most basic logic at this point. One wonders if just the sound of conspiracy is all MAGA-Kool-Aid drinkers need in order to throw another $5 down the toilet of Republican fundraiser emails.

  101. says

    The more Donald Trump talks about the 25th Amendment, the clearer it becomes that he has no idea how it works — though he really should.

    Toward the end of Donald Trump’s first year in the White House, Vanity Fair published a memorable piece on the dysfunctional Republican administration. It noted, among other things, that some of the then-president’s team was worried that Trump’s behavior was so erratic that they feared Cabinet members might “take extraordinary constitutional measures to remove him from office.”

    In fact, according to the article, Trump heard Steve Bannon reference the 25th Amendment, at which point the then-president responded, “What’s that?”

    It’s safe to say [Trump] learned quite a bit about the amendment in the months and years that followed. In fact, in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, Trump came to believe that his own Cabinet members might try to remove him from office through the 25th Amendment, and that was not a paranoid assumption: The Jan. 6 committee uncovered evidence that Cabinet secretaries had, in fact, initiated some quiet conversations about the possibility.

    That was two-and-a-half-years ago. Now, as The Hill reported, the constitutional provision is still on t[Trump’s] mind, but not in a way that makes sense.

    Former President Trump is questioning why Republicans have not sought to remove President Biden under the 25th Amendment — a move that GOP lawmakers do not have the power to use.

    Trump seemed to get the ball rolling last week when he used his social media platform to ask, as part of an anti-Biden tirade, “Where is the call from Republicans for the 25th Amendment?” A day later, he added, “Republicans, call out the 25th Amendment, NOW!”

    But it wasn’t until earlier this week when the former president wrote, in an all-caps harangue, “I ask, why hasn’t the Republican Party begun the process of invoking the 25th Amendment” against Biden. Trump added that he thinks it should’ve happened “long ago.”

    Putting aside the details of the former president’s weak case against his successor, there’s a more pressing problem: Trump is talking about the 25th Amendment without understanding how it works. In fact, the Republican’s question is effectively gibberish.

    Trump’s line is rooted in the idea that GOP lawmakers have some authority to invoke the 25th Amendment. That authority does not exist. The 25th Amendment empowers Cabinet members, not members of Congress, to try to remove a sitting president if “the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

    So, when Trump asks why Republicans haven’t “begun the process of invoking the 25th Amendment,” it’s because Republicans, at least in 2023, have literally nothing to do with invoking the 25th Amendment.

    As for why the former president is flaunting his ignorance of a constitutional process he really ought to understand, your guess is as good as mine.

    As far as Trump’s mind goes, it’s always worse than we thought.

  102. says

    Ex-Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson claims Rudy Giuliani groped her on January 6

    Cassidy Hutchinson, the former Trump aide turned crucial January 6 witness, says in a new book she was groped by Rudy Giuliani, who was “like a wolf closing in on its prey”, on the day of the attack on the Capitol.

    Describing meeting with Giuliani backstage at Donald Trump’s speech near the White House before his supporters marched on Congress in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, Hutchinson says the former New York mayor turned Trump lawyer put his hand “under my blazer, then my skirt”.

    “I feel his frozen fingers trail up my thigh,” she writes. “He tilts his chin up. The whites of his eyes look jaundiced. My eyes dart to [Trump adviser] John Eastman, who flashes a leering grin.

    “I fight against the tension in my muscles and recoil from Rudy’s grip … filled with rage, I storm through the tent, on yet another quest for Mark.”

    Mark Meadows, Trump’s final chief of staff, was Hutchinson’s White House boss. Hutchinson’s memoir, Enough, describes the now 27-year-old’s journey from Trump supporter to disenchantment, and her role as a key witness for the House January 6 committee. It will be published in the US next Tuesday. The Guardian obtained a copy.

    […] Describing the backstage scene at Trump’s speech, she writes: “I find Rudy in the back of the tent with, among others, John Eastman. The corners of his mouth split into a Cheshire cat smile. Waving a stack of documents, he moves towards me, like a wolf closing in on its prey.

    “‘We have the evidence. It’s all here. We’re going to pull this off.’ Rudy wraps one arm around my body, closing the space that was separating us. I feel his stack of documents press into the small of my back. I lower my eyes and watch his free hand reach for the hem of my blazer.

    “‘By the way,’ he says, fingering the fabric, ‘I’m loving this leather jacket on you.’ His hand slips under my blazer, then my skirt.”


  103. says

    Taylor Swift encourages her fans to register to vote:

    Taylor Swift is currently one of the biggest stars in the country. She is still on her record-breaking “Eras” tour, ranks as the second-most-played artist on Spotify this year, and, in July, scored the biggest week of sales for an album this year with “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version).” She’s using that cultural clout to urge her fans, known as “Swifties,” to register to vote.

    Swift posted an Instagram story on Tuesday, marking National Voter Registration Day.

    “I’ve been so lucky to see so many of you guys at my US shows recently,” she wrote. “I’ve heard you raise your voices, and I know how powerful they are. Make sure you’re ready to use them in our elections this year!”

    She went on to offer concrete advice on how: “Register to vote in less than 2 minutes at” As a result,’s communications director tweeted, “our site was averaging 13,000 users every 30 minutes.”

    This isn’t a first for Swift. In 2018, she was credited with a surge in young voter registrations after she endorsed two Tennessee Democrats and promoted voter registration. She called on fans to vote in 2020, and just this July, she went local with a post about the Nashville mayoral race.

    The question is how much of a difference even arguably the biggest pop star in the country can make. Obviously, Swift’s powers are limited—she can’t propel a Democrat to a statewide win in Tennessee. But getting young people out to vote has historically been tough, and every little bit can help.

    In 2020, young voter turnout was up substantially from 2016. It typically drops way off in midterm elections, but 2018 set a record for youth turnout, at 28%. Youth turnout wasn’t quite as high in 2022, at 23%, but that was still significantly higher than the 13% who voted in 2014 […]

    Because, yes, young voters do lean Democratic. That may be particularly true in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, and all the ensuing state abortion bans: People ages 18 to 29 are the most likely to say abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

    It’s unlikely that Taylor Swift is the magical answer to decades of struggles in getting young people out to vote. But in a tight election—and many of them are so tight these days—young people can make a difference. And having Swift promoting voter registration and reminding Swifties to follow through and vote is definitely a plus.


  104. says

    Biden uses executive power to create a New Deal-style American Climate Corps

    After being thwarted by Congress, President Joe Biden will use his executive authority to create a New Deal-style American Climate Corps that will serve as a major green jobs training program.

    In an announcement Wednesday, the White House said the program will employ more than 20,000 young adults who will build trails, plant trees, help install solar panels and do other work to boost conservation and help prevent catastrophic wildfires.

    The climate corps had been proposed in early versions of the sweeping climate law approved last year but was jettisoned amid strong opposition from Republicans and concerns about cost.

  105. Reginald Selkirk says

    Schumer takes on Tuberville’s blockade, teeing up votes on top military picks

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has teed up votes for Wednesday night to advance three top military nominees who have been jammed up by Sen. Tommy Tuberville — a reversal after the Democratic leader said for months he wouldn’t hold standalone votes on confirmations.

    But with the Alabama Republican forcing his hand, Schumer filed cloture, a procedural motion to end debate, on three of President Joe Biden’s senior picks — Gen. C.Q. Brown to be Joint Chiefs chair, Gen. Randy George to be Army chief of staff and Gen. Eric Smith to be Marine commandant.

    The Senate will vote Wednesday afternoon to cut off debate on Brown’s nomination, followed by a vote in the evening to confirm him and then pivot to the other two nominees. Schumer locked in the votes after Tuberville said he wouldn’t stand in the way, portraying the Democratic leader’s push to hold votes as a cave.

    The move comes as Tuberville planned to force his own cloture vote on Smith’s nomination to lead the Marine Corps, which could have placed Democrats in the awkward position of blocking Biden’s nominees…

  106. Reginald Selkirk says

    White House brings back free at-home COVID test orders

    Update: This program is expected to start accepting orders again on Monday, Sept. 25. Here are some other options for people looking for free COVID tests. Read the latest here — our earlier story is below.

    American households will now be able to request four more free at-home COVID tests from the federal government. The White House announced it was reopening orders as part of a new “winter preparedness plan,” as cases and hospitalizations are rising around the country.

    One request from each household will be accepted for a “limited round of ordering this winter” through The first tests are set to be shipped out by the U.S. Postal Service during the week of December 19…

  107. Reginald Selkirk says

    Democrat Taunts GOP Leader With Bill To Block Lawmaker Pay During Government Shutdown

    Someone in the congressional office of Rep. Angie Craig is having fun with acronyms.

    On Wednesday, the Minnesota Democrat unveiled a bill taking aim at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as the federal government nears a shutdown at the end of the month. Party in-fighting has left the Republican leader struggling to pass a spending plan to fund government services.

    Craig’s bill would block members of Congress from receiving their scheduled pay if the government shuts down and federal workers are furloughed. She is calling the legislation the My Constituents Cannot Afford Rebellious Tantrums, Handle Your Shutdown Act, or the MCCARTHY Shutdown Act for short.

    The Democrat said her tribute to the House speaker, if passed, would make sure lawmakers experience the same lost paychecks as regular Americans…

  108. says

    While Trump’s Sunday interview was filled with lies, Zelenskyy’s was filled with hope</a

    We’ve had lots of coverage here Sunday and Monday about Donald Trump’s pre-taped interview on Kristen Welker’s debut as host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” in which the former president repeatedly lied without really being fact-checked on-air.

    But there was another pre-taped interview that aired later Sunday that has received barely any coverage here: on the season premiere of CBS’ “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv ahead of this week’s visit to the United States.

    […] In the “60 Minutes” interview, Zelenskyy said Ukraine tended to get what it asks for from the Biden administration, but generally six months too late, explaining ”If Ukraine had enough of these modern systems, we would have already restored the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We would have already done that. These systems exist.”

    […] In the “60 Minutes” interview, taped last Thursday, Zelenskyy declared that Ukrainians are dying every day to prevent World War III:

    “We’re defending the values of the whole world. And these are Ukrainian people who are paying the highest price. We are truly fighting for our freedom, we are dying we are not fiction, we are not a book. We are fighting for real with a nuclear state that threatens to destroy the world.”

    And he expressed gratitude for the billions of dollars the U.S. has contributed to the war effort, but emphasized that the U.S. is “not supporting only Ukraine alone.

    “If Ukraine falls, Putin will surely go further. What will the United States of America do when Putin reaches the Baltic states? When he reaches the Polish border? He will. This is a lot of money. We have a lot of gratitude. What else must Ukraine do for everyone to measure our huge gratitude? We are dying in this war. Look, if Ukraine falls, what will happen in ten years? Just think about it. If [the Russians] reach Poland, what’s next? A Third World War? […]

    “The whole world [has to] decide whether we want to stop Putin, or whether we want to start the beginning of a world war. We can’t change Putin. Russian society has [lost] the respect of the world. They elected him, and re-elected him and raised a second Hitler. They did this. We cannot go back in time. But we can stop it here.”

    […] On “60 Minutes,” Zelenskyy declared that he had no illusions about Putin. He said that Russia was trying to break Ukrainians by deliberately striking civilian targets: “This person who has made his way with such bloody actions, with everything he has said, cannot be trusted. There is no trust in such a person because he has not been a human being for a long time.”

    He said Ukraine has “every moral right” to strike targets inside Russia that are being used to launch missiles at Ukraine and warned Russians that “your sky is not as well protected, as you think.” He added that if Russia once again spends the winter targeting power plants and other infrastructure to deprive Ukrainians of electricity, water, and gasoline, Ukraine was now in a position to do the same to Russia.

    Zelenskyy said Ukraine had succeeded in stopping the Russian offensive and has now seized the initiative in the war by mounting a counter-offensive: “It’s not very fast. It is important that we are moving forward every day and liberating territory. … We need to liberate our territory as much as possible and move forward, even if it’s less than [half a mile or] a hundred [yards] we must do it. We can’t lose time. Forget about the weather, and the like. In places that we can’t get through in an armored vehicle—let’s fly. If we can’t fly—let’s send drones. We mustn’t give Putin a break.”

    Zelenskyy acknowledged that he is worried about the 2024 U.S. presidential election. He said he thinks Putin is going to continue threatening to use nuclear weapons in order to influence public opinion in the U.S. and Europe:

    “He is waiting for the United States to become less stable. He thinks that’s going to happen during the U.S. election. He will be looking for instability in Europe and the United States of America. He will use the risk of using nuclear weapons to fuel that [instability]. He will keep on threatening.”

    The “60 Minutes” report concluded with Zelenskyy referencing a medal-awarding ceremony that Pelley had witnessed during his visit to Kyiv:

    “Today you … saw me awarding people [medals]. [Well] today is a day like that. A week ago, I gave awards to parents [of soldiers who have been killed]. There were 24 families of the dead. There was a woman. She was with three children. There were parents, very old. They could barely walk and they had had only one son. One of the women was pregnant. She arrived holding a baby in her arms. And she was pregnant. And that baby will never see… what should I tell them? That all of them died so that we could say, `It’s okay, [Russia] you can take it all.’ It’s a difficult job. You understand me, right? Giving awards to people whose faces show their whole world has collapsed. And all I can give them, all I can give them—is victory.”

  109. says

    NBC News:

    The Federal Reserve left the main U.S. interest rate unchanged Wednesday, waiting to see if its historic series of rate hikes over the last 18 months gets inflation under control. The central bank kept its main policy rate in the range of 5.25% to 5.50%, citing an easing of economic conditions while also acknowledging that inflation is still higher than its 2% target.

  110. says

    NBC News:

    General Motors said Wednesday it idled a manufacturing plant in Kansas, and laid off almost all of the approximately 2,000 people working there. The automaker said in its announcement that there is no work available for most of the people at the Fairfax assembly plant because workers at another GM facility went on strike last Friday. Additionally, the company said, it cannot provide supplemental unemployment benefits “due to the specific circumstances of this situation.”

  111. says

    Senate gets around Tuberville to confirm Joint Chiefs chairman

    The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, filling a crucial position that was set to become vacant in the coming weeks and overcoming Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) months-long hold on military promotions.

    Senators voted 83-11 to confirm the Air Force general to the post after being nominated by President Biden in May to replace outgoing Chairman Mark Milley.

    Milley’s term expires on Oct. 1, and filling the post was a top priority for many lawmakers.

    All 11 senators who voted no were Republicans: Sens. Mike Braun (Ind.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Eric Schmitt (Mo.), JD Vance (Ohio), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Tuberville. [Group of unethical doofuses.]

    […] Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) earlier on Wednesday made the surprise announcement that he would tee up votes on a trio of military nominations. On top of Brown, the Senate is set to vote on Gen. Randy George to become Army chief of staff and Gen. Eric Smith to serve as the commandant of the Marine Corps.

    That came after Tuberville told Senate Republicans on Tuesday that he would attempt to force a cloture vote on Smith’s nomination over his own hold. Schumer kicked off debate on the three nominations just hours before that was set to happen.
    Speaking on the Senate floor, Tuberville declared victory after the first of the series of individual votes on these nominees.

    “This is not about me. This is about the Senate and the Constitution,” Tuberville said. “This is a win today for the legislative branch of government. Voting gives all senators a voice for their constituents.”

    Tuberville put the hold in place in March over the Pentagon’s new policy that allows the department to cover travel expenses for service members who seek abortion care.

    Military officials have attacked Tuberville in recent months and argue that his hold is harming readiness of U.S. forces and creating instability within military families.

    Many of the more than 300 promotions being held up are usually advanced en bloc via unanimous consent, and Democrats maintain that they will not move to confirm them one by one.

    “Taking these promotions one at a time would cost over 100 days on the Senate calendar,” Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters earlier on Wednesday prior to Schumer’s announcement. “This is not a solution to his challenge. It really is going to drag this out at the expense of everything else that needs to be done in the Senate.” [Yep]

    Democrats have also chided Republican leaders for not taking further action to find an offramp to end Tuberville’s blockade.

    Tuberville added in his floor remarks that he might bring additional cloture votes in the coming weeks on other top military officials but that his hold will continue for the foreseeable future.

    “To be clear, my hold is still in place,” Tuberville said. “I reserve the right to seek another cloture position on the nominees in the future, so that’s where we stand today.” [JFC. What an insufferable dunderhead.]

  112. says

    Awww. Tiny violins. Actually, this is a good schadenfreude moment.

    Rolling Stone has some joyful news to share, the kind that provides warm fuzzies, like those heartwarming stories where a lost dog is reunited with its owner after years, or like when there’s a story about an old white lady who accidentally meets a Black guy when she texts the wrong person on her Jitterbug phone, but there’s a happy ending because she’s not racist to him.

    Donald Trump is scared shitless of going to prison and having to wear the jumpsuit. Bless his heart. He’s probably scared he won’t look pretty. You know, the way he looks pretty in his normal play clothes he wears to the golf course.

    Trump told Kristen Welker this weekend that he’s not scared of prison at all, but according to reporting from Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng, that’s a lie. This is the sub-hed of their piece:

    Would he be sent to a “club fed” style prison — or a “bad” one? Would he have Secret Service protection? And what would they make him wear? Those are some of the questions Donald Trump is asking his lawyers as his many trials loom.

    Let’s answer as best as we can:
    – Bad prison, hopefully. You scared?[…]
    – Dunno, maybe. You scared? […]
    – The same thing the other inmates are wearing.

    Oh, also we bet whatever […] he puts in his hair to make it look like that won’t be available at the commissary either, so Eric will have to bake it into a cake and smuggle it in if Trump needs it.

    Specifically Trump has been asking his lawyers and whatever passes as his friends if he’s going to have to wear “one of those jumpsuits.” And maybe do they think a judge might let him do prison at home? What if he “wins” the election, by whatever clever means America’s enemies come up with to make that happen? Will he get to stay out of prison then?

    They probably don’t even have a Diet Coke button or a Big Mac slide in jail.

    Lots of good walls to fling ketchup at, though. Locked doors with tiny windows. […]

    Honestly, it’s really unclear what it would look like, trying to jail that fucker. First of all, he’s indicted under 91 felony counts. Would he get to go to a really gross Georgia jail for a while, and then transfer to the feds? Or would the feds get him first?

    And then there are the logistics of what an actual prison sentence might look like. […] Let’s not think about those things right now. He’s frightened, and that’s what matters.

    Rawnsley and Suebsaeng end their piece drawing one of the only parallels available, that of Nixon’s disgraced vice president Spiro Agnew:

    Like Trump, Agnew campaigned as a populist pugilist eager for conflict with the political left. But as the criminal investigation of him mounted, privately “Agnew was utterly terrified of going to jail,” his biographer Charles J. Holden told Rolling Stone. “He was still terrified of that and the humiliation of it haunted him as well.”

    […] Guess Trump will just have to wait and see along with the rest of us.

  113. says

    Ukraine Update: At the United Nations, Ukraine is everything, Russia is just Russia, by Mark Sumner

    On Tuesday, President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared before the U.N. General Assembly to deliver statements about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and call for united action in facing down territorial aggression.

    Biden’s statements denouncing the war drew applause from the assembly. “If you allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?” asked Biden. “I would respectfully suggest the answer is no. We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow. That’s why the United States, together with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their freedom.”

    The speech from Zelenskyy, which expanded on the theme of defeating Russia as a necessity to see that “no one in the world will dare attack any nation,” also drew widespread and sustained applause. But the more important meeting may have happened on Wednesday morning, when Zelenskyy appeared before the U.N. Security Council where Russia, undeservedly, holds one of the permanent seats.

    [video of Biden's speech, and video of Zelenskyy's speech]

    “Please, hear me,” said Zelenskyy. “Let unity decide everything openly. While Russia is pushing the world to the final war, Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that, after Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation. Weaponization must be restrained. War crimes must be punished. Deported people must come back home. And the occupier must return to their own land. We must be united to make it. And we will do it. Slava Ukraini.”

    Then came a critical meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday morning. It’s safe to say that were Russia not a member of that council, the situation in Ukraine would be vastly different. Without Russia’s presence to veto every action designed to limit its own aggression, the U.N. might have moved much more firmly from the outset of the war to make the invasion more costly for Russia

    But Russia, perched in the chair that formerly belonged to the Soviet Union, not only throttles even the most limited proposals, it regularly uses the Security Council as a platform to spread propaganda, excuses, and denial of the war crimes it has committed (and is committing) in Ukraine. Those are just some of the reasons Ukraine is not alone in seeking to have Russia removed from the Security Council.

    On Wednesday, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia tried to use that seat in a typical Russian way—he tried to interrupt Zelenskyy. Actually, Nebenzia interrupted four times before Zelenskyy had even started, protesting Ukraine’s right to speak and claiming that the Ukrainian president’s statement would be “nothing but a spectacle.”

    Nebenzia did not get applause. What he got was laughter, as Albanian President Edi Rama drew praise for handling the matter. [Tweet and video at the link: Dear @EdiRamaal, today at the UNSC you showed the world how to correctly handle Russia, its lies, and its hypocrisy. I thank you for steering the Presidency in such a principled manner.]

    When Zelenskyy got to speak, he told the council that he would not have come there if he didn’t have a plan for ending the war. He sketched his long-standing 10-point peace plan that includes security guarantees for Ukraine and a special commission for the prosecution of war crimes.

    But most of Zelenskyy’s plan can be relayed very simply, and isn’t far from the deal proposed by Rama (and Biden): Russia has to get completely out of Ukraine. Then there can be peace.
    Norway is sending 50 M548 transports to Ukraine. This is one of many vehicles that is based on the M113 armored personnel carrier, but none of the others do such a good job of looking like a cross between the Jupiter 2’s Chariot and the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Seriously, this thing wins the award for too-cute-to-shoot. Although that probably won’t work in the field. [Tweet and image at the link]

    Norway has really stepped up its support of Ukraine. It has not just become one of the leading nations in supplying Ukraine with what it needs to push Russia out, it has also pledged $7 billion to help Ukraine rebuild after the war is over. Whether you measure it per capita or based on GDP, they’re putting us to shame. [Graph showing commitments as % of donor GDP]
    […] analysis of where Russian units are positioned: [map at the link]

    Unsurprisingly, the bulk of Russian troops are engaged at the front line. However, not all red rectangles are created equal. Many of those units lined up around Verbove and Robotyne have been getting the #$@% kicked out of them since the spring. Some are operating at reduced strength, with poorly trained prisoners filling in vital gaps. But the biggest point, and the reason for scaling the map out to this point, is to make clear just how little Russia has left in the backfield.

    Why aren’t those third and fourth rows of trenches filled with waiting soldiers? Because there’s no one to fill them. What Russia has now is what Russia has on the line.

    Ukrainian forces have been battered as well, and the number and position of Ukrainian reserves has been kept deliberately vague. But one of the reasons that Ukraine has been making progress around Robotyne and Verbove is the simplest: fresher troops in more complete units.
    Once again, Ukrainian general staff reports nothing going on around Kupyansk. Remember that big Russian push, with over 100,000 men, that was going to fling Ukraine back across the Oskil? Didn’t happen. There’s also nothing but crickets from Svatove and Kreminna down to the area north of Bakhmut.

    South of Bakhmut, Russia reportedly made another failed attempt at regaining ground between Klishchiivka and Andriivka, as well as another failed assault about 5 kilometers to the south. Which sounds like the kind of action this Russian soldier was complaining about when he said that Russian commanders keep getting sucked into traps. [Tweet at the link]

    The key part:

    In addition to his actual advancement on the ground, the enemy worked out the situation with Andreevka in the media [space] quite well. As a result, we have hysterical attempts to recapture the ruins of Andreevka. Equally hysterical attempts to counterattack occur in the surrounding area.

    At Marinka, near Donetsk, Ukraine reportedly repelled 10 Russian attacks—which is about a daily average in this area. And … that’s it for Russian actions. This is a notably short list, one in which Russia doesn’t even seem to have made a run at regaining any ground in the south.

    But part of the reason that Russia is standing still is because Ukraine is not. [Tweets and maps at the link, showing NASA Firms fire data that suggest Zaporizhian battlespace is undergoing significant Ukrainian shaping operations via artillery and missile attacks reaching to Melitopol and beyond …]
    This Russian propagandist is right about two things: Building effective drones has become ridiculously easy and there will definitely be more in the future. Whether it will be effective to flood the zone with this kind of drone is something we don’t know yet. The whole world is watching what’s happening in Ukraine and strategy textbooks are being rewritten every day. [Tweet and image at the link: Russian propagandist Sladkov is so shocked by the ability of Ukrainians to create drones from the most simple materials, he even admits that NATO support does not and will not play any role in this.

    And he’s perplexed as to how the self-proclaimed second military in the world is unable to produce wooden or plastic drones en masse.]
    Watching the daily evaporation of Russian artillery is my new favorite pastime. There’s no doubt that, thanks to drones and better counter-battery fire, Russia could not engage in the kind of artillery march it used to capture cities like Mariupol, Severodonetsk, and Lysychansk. Russia is losing hundreds of artillery systems per month and the average rate of loss is still increasing (expect some math on this soon). [List at the link: Russian losses. Look at the numbers of destroyed artillery systems. It’s like that every single day.]

  114. says

    Republican gripes that Merrick Garland didn’t respond to his letter about ‘World Naked Bike Ride’

    On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland was forced to participate in Jim Jordan’s clown show Judiciary Committee hearing. Democratic representatives at the House hearing used their time to righteously lambaste Jordan and his party’s abject hypocrisy. But even the truth could not inure America to the pitiable attempts at “gotcha” questions lobbed by Republicans like Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin.

    Having asked Garland the hard-hitting question, “Do you support more crime?” (Garland said he did not), Tiffany decided to close his sad political performance with a gripe about something dead serious: The World Naked Bike Ride. Did I stutter?

    He literally said, “There is a World Naked Bike Ride in Madison, Wisconsin,” and then proceeded to claim he had sent the Department of Justice a letter ”two months ago” concerning reports that a 10-year-old girl might have participated in the naked bike ride through Madison, Wisconsin. “Do you think that’s a problem? And why did you not answer our letter two months ago?”

    Garland’s response is perfectly hilarious. “I’m sorry. I’ll have to ask the Office of Legislative Affairs to get back to you about this.” Tee-hee.

    Garland subsequently pointed out that what Tiffany was griping about seemed to be an issue for state and local law enforcement—which did investigate and found it was not illegal. [video at the link]

  115. says

    Russian “motivation”:

    […] 2/ ASTRA reports the account of Evgeny P., as told to his wife Evgeniya on 18 September. He says that while fighting with the 27th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade near Bakhmut in May, he suffered a shrapnel wound and was sent to hospital. However, he was not treated.

    3/ Instead, he was sent with other injured men to Naro-Fominsk in the Moscow region and confined to a barracks for a week. He says that a military doctor declared them all fit to fight, despite their unhealed wounds. The men were sent back to Ukraine under a new commander.

    4/ They were “taken in the direction of Svatove [in eastern Ukraine] and abandoned in the forest with no means of subsistence”. (Many Russian soldiers have reported similar stories of being dumped in the forest without food or water and surviving on berries and puddles.)

    5/ When the unit came under fire, the “commanders, senior company officers and everyone who was in charge there just ran away like rats, leaving the guys alone to die under shelling.” Not surprisingly, the injured men refused orders to go into an assault.

    6/ Evgeny says they were rounded up and taken to Zaitseve, where hundreds of soldiers are reported to have been imprisoned, starved and tortured to ‘remotivate’ them. […]


  116. says

    Satire written by Andy Borowitz:

    THE XVERSE (The Borowitz Report)—Users of X, the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter, are about to roll out a plan that would require Elon Musk to pay them a monthly fee to keep using the site.

    Tracy Klugian, a user who masterminded the plan, said that a monthly fee of $10.99 would compensate users for the toxic experience of being on X.

    Additionally, Klugian said, X users will demand that Musk set aside billions of dollars to compensate them for any psychiatric or other medical expenses that they incur as a result of their exposure to the platform.

    The proposal drew a harsh response from a legion of bots, who argued that Musk must also compensate them for their continued presence on the site.

    “Any plan that pays a monthly fee to X users but not to bots is deeply hurtful,” @TrumpBoebert2024 wrote. “Bots made X what it is today.”

    New Yorker link

  117. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mastodon’s latest release makes the open source Twitter alternative easier to use

    As changes at Elon Musk’s X continue to push former Twitter users to seek alternatives, the open-sourced, decentralized social network Mastodon — a popular Twitter/X rival — is releasing an update designed to make it easier for users to get started, use its network even when logged out, and more easily search for content across its platform. The web interface has also received a visual refresh and a number of other improvements.

    The release, aka Mastodon 4.2, is available today to all Mastodon server operators to install. Mastodon, unlike Twitter/X, is a network of interconnected servers, each with their own admins and rules. Though that means the upgrade may not be universally rolled out at exactly the same time across every Mastodon instance, most admins are typically excited about new releases and install them quickly — particularly those who run larger servers., the largest of these, will immediately update to Mastodon 4.2 with this release.

    Key among the changes is an overhauled search interface — something that Mastodon actually credits to inspiration from its third-party developer community, specifically the Mastodon client Ivory from Tapbots — a company that switched to supporting Mastodon after Twitter killed its Tweetbot app…

  118. Reginald Selkirk says

    A third party signed up 15,000 voters in Arizona. Democrats worry that’s enough for a Biden spoiler

    More than 15,000 people in Arizona have registered to join a new political party floating a possible bipartisan “unity ticket” against Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

    While that’s less than the population of each of the state’s 40 largest cities, it’s still a number big enough to tip the presidential election in a critical swing state. And that is alarming people trying to stop Trump from winning the White House again.

    The very existence of the No Labels group is fanning Democratic anxiety about Trump’s chances against an incumbent president facing questions about his age and record. While it hasn’t committed to running candidates for president and vice president, No Labels has already secured ballot access in Arizona and 10 other states. Its organizers say they are on track to reach 20 states by the end of this year and all 50 states by Election Day.

    “If they have someone on the ballot who is designed to bring the country together, that clearly draws votes away from Joe Biden and does not draw votes away from Donald Trump,” said Rodd McLeod, a Democratic strategist in Arizona…

  119. says

    Producing evidence is hard. Simply asserting that “everyone knows” how right you are is easy. Just ask House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee went about as well as expected, with a seemingly endless series of exchanges about the investigation into Hunter Biden. The New York Times noted:

    Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who leads the committee, repeatedly suggested that Mr. Garland had slow-walked the investigation into the president’s son, Hunter Biden, with an aim toward minimizing the political damage to his boss. “The fix is in,” Jordan said. “Even with the face-saving indictment last week of Hunter Biden, everyone knows the fix is in.”

    As the Times’ report added, neither Jordan nor his GOP colleagues “provided concrete proof for their claim — or elicited responses from the attorney general that backed up those conclusions.”

    Or put another way, it was another multi-hour Capitol Hill hearing featuring Republicans, certain of their righteousness and confident in their conspiracy theories, making a variety of unproven assertions without uncovering any new information that might bolster their dubious claims.

    And yet, there were several references to what “everyone knows.” Jordan declared with confidence that “everyone knows” about the attorney general’s secret scheme to help President Joe Biden’s son — an initiative that appears to only exist in Republicans’ imaginations. Later, in same hearing, the committee chairman added that “everyone knows” that Justice Department prosecutors also took deliberate steps to help Hunter Biden.

    Soon after, Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana added that “everybody can see” that the Justice Department gave “special treatment” to the president’s son. Republican Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas said that “everybody can see” that Joe Biden was part of a bribery scheme.

    Rep. Matt Gaetz also pointed to obscure details about Hunter Biden that the Florida Republican said “everybody knows.” So did Republican Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, who added that “everybody in the country” knows that the Justice Department helped Hunter Biden.

    Time and again, House Republicans took their turns at the microphone. Time and again, they told us what “everyone” and “everybody” is well aware of.

    What these GOP members neglected to do was point to any meaningful or credible evidence to support their claims.

    The fact of the matter is that producing evidence is hard. Simply asserting that “everyone knows” how right you are is easy.

    […] their incessant assertions don’t make baseless claims true.

  120. says

    To hear Ron DeSantis tell it, policies designed to address the climate crisis are “part of an agenda to control you.” That’s utterly bonkers.

    As a gubernatorial candidate in 2018, Ron DeSantis seemed eager to appear sensible on environmental issues. The Republican, hoping voters would overlook his record as a far-right congressman, assured Floridians that he not only intended to protect the Everglades, he also believed humans were contributing to climate change.

    After narrowly winning that race, the editorial board of The Tampa Bay Times applauded the fact that DeSantis was taking the climate crisis seriously in ways his Republican predecessor did not. The editors went so far as to describe DeSantis as “Florida’s green governor.”

    Five years later, the GOP governor is now a GOP presidential candidate, doing his best to appeal to a party base that’s been conditioned to believe that the climate crisis is an elaborate hoax. Predictably, it has led DeSantis to embrace climate denialism in ridiculous ways. The New York Times reported on the Floridian traveling to Texas yesterday to unveil his energy plan.

    In a policy rollout at an oil rig site in Midland — a West Texas city that derives much of its economy from oil production — Mr. DeSantis seemed to make a general-election argument, promising to roll back several of the Biden administration’s climate initiatives, calling them “part of an agenda to control you and to control our behavior.”

    The fact that a far-right presidential candidate took a far-right position while appealing to far-right voters was not especially interesting. The governor’s phrasing, however, stood out for me.

    To try to address the crisis, DeSantis said, is to pursue “an agenda to control you.”

    A few months ago, the Florida Republican pushed a similar line on Fox News. “You have an itch on the left, they want to control behavior,” DeSantis said. “We saw the same thing with Covid. A lot of that wasn’t about your health, it’s that they wanted to control your behavior. They just don’t want people to be happy and make their own decisions.”

    This comes up with unnerving frequency. It was just a couple of weeks ago, for example, when Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told Fox News viewers that those who believe climate science are “driven” by the desire to take “control over our lives.”

    In July, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise appeared on Fox Business and pushed the same line. “They don’t want to talk honestly about science; they just want to control your life,” the Louisiana Republican said in reference to the climate crisis, failing to identify who “they” might be.

    It appears, in other words, that a variety of prominent Republican leaders don’t just reject climate science, they’ve also convinced themselves that reality-based observers are secret totalitarians, hellbent on micromanaging Americans’ daily lives for nefarious purposes. [Projection!]

    At this point, we could marvel for a while at the tone-deaf hypocrisy, highlighting how ridiculous it is to hear the party of abortion bans, book bans and LGBTQ+ discrimination whine about those who would try to “control our behavior.”

    […] I’m obviously not in a position to speak on anyone else’s behalf, but I know plenty of folks who’d identify as themselves as “progressives” or “liberals,” and I’ve literally never heard any of them say, “You know what would be great? If government would control everyone’s lives. It’s annoying when people are happy and make their own decisions, so let’s pretend that planetary temperatures are rising as part of an elaborate ruse in order to get bureaucratic systems to crack down on everyone’s day-to-day activities.”

    This might surprise Republicans, but people on the left don’t think this way. We have no reason to think this way. We’re desperate for action on climate change, not because we’re proponents of government control over the public, but because the climate crisis risks catastrophic results for life on the planet.

    If GOP voices such as DeSantis know the truth but peddle nonsense anyway, such a cynical approach to politics is indefensible. But if Republicans like the Florida governor genuinely believe that the left has embraced totalitarianism, perhaps they should take a little time to talk to some progressive voters to learn otherwise.

  121. says

    GOP Contingent Throws Up Sound And Fury To More Ukraine Aid As Zelensky Visits

    As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Washington to seek more military aid to help fend off Russia’s invasion, a key bloc of Republicans stopped just short of preemptively saying no.

    Six Republican senators and 23 GOP House members sent a letter to the White House Thursday saying that, for now, they oppose a request for $24 billion in additional funding from Congress to support Kyiv.

    In the letter, Republican lawmakers outline a series of questions they have about the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression, including progress in the country’s counteroffensive, how the administration defines victory, and what direct assistance the U.S. military has provided.

    “For these reasons—and certainly until we receive answers to the questions above and others forthcoming—we oppose the additional expenditure for war in Ukraine included in your request,” the letter reads.

    Zelensky is on Capitol Hill today in an effort to maintain support for U.S. aid to his country. But the letter comes as a flank of far-right Republicans, concentrated in the House, try to tank Ukraine aid.

    That group is largely missing from the letter’s list of signatories, though members of the group, including Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-PA), have called for the U.S. to reduce its support. The same group of far-right Republicans have been publicly pressuring House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA ), pushing a short term spending bill that does not include additional aid for Ukraine.

    McCarthy told reporters on Thursday that he had declined a request to have Zelensky address another joint session of Congress during his visit, and in a bizarre attempt to bring a rhetorical point into reality, he suggested that Biden should support GOP border funding requests before House Republicans agree to pass more Ukraine aid. [WTF!]

    Republicans proposed a bill which would fund the Pentagon without appropriating money for Ukraine, which they failed to advance on the House floor for the second time this week on Thursday morning. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said it was a non-starter for the Senate.

    The letter itself stops short of saying outright that its signers will block further aid to Ukraine.

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) signed the letter, and said on Wednesday that he would use Senate procedural rules to slow down any additional Ukraine spending bills, citing long-debunked ideas around the national debt to justify more aid.

    “We have no extra money to send to Ukraine,” Paul said.

    Much of the letter is framed in the language of fiscal scarcity, and poses questions which have knowable answers, particularly to members of Congress with access to briefings from the defense and intelligence communities.

    “How is the counteroffensive going?” reads part of the letter. “What assistance has the United States provided Ukraine under Title 10? “It would be an absurd abdication of congressional responsibility to grant this request without knowing the answers to these questions.” [Full text of the letter is available at the link.]

  122. says

    Followup to comment 153.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    You don’t have to be an elected member of the House to serve as Speaker. Maybe Putin should be given the job.
    I do not even know the word to describe or explain the insensitivity to life by Republicans, but Republicans wanting “accountability” for aid to the Ukraine need only look at the towns, children and Ukrainian blood on the battlefield to know that whatever aid America provides for the Ukraine to hold off Russian and Putin it is more than paid for.
    “Sound and fury”
    Tales told by idiots, signifying nothing.
    Everyone needs to push back against the lack of humanity and positivity and vision that is whatever today’s GOP has become.
    Putin’s violent overturning of the post-WW2 security system in Europe is very much a concern of ours, and of our Western allies as well.
    I appreciate when Republicans are so open about being on Putin’s payroll. It makes it easier for the rest of us to know who is corrupt.

    [image showing Tommy Tuberville’s signature on the letter]

    His blockading of US military promotions making much more sense now.
    This news needs to be framed as “GOP faction supports Putin in Ukraine.”
    The Kremlin Caucus.
    How is the counteroffensive going?
    Slowly but steadily.

    Are the Ukrainians any closer to victory than they were 6 months ago?
    Yes, very much so. They’re killing Russian soldiers and destroying Russian materiel at an astounding clip.

    What is our strategy, and what is the president’s exit plan?
    Our strategy is to provide Ukraine with the weapons, training and other support needed for them to obtain success on the battlefield. And President Biden’s “exit plan” is to not deploy American troops in the first place.

    What does the administration define as victory in Ukraine?
    The administration does not define victory for Ukraine. Ukraine defines victory for Ukraine.

    What assistance has the United States provided Ukraine under Title 10?
    I’m the head of OMB. Please direct your inquiry to the Department of Defense.

  123. says

    Putin Republicans ready to rebuff Zelenskyy on aid to fight Russia

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, holding meetings with President Joe Biden, Pentagon officials, and Congress. He first met with the bipartisan leadership of the House, followed by a briefing with the Senate. In both chambers, Zelenskyy’s request for further assistance depends on the ability of Congress to overcome the Republican dysfunction in the House of Representatives.

    The signs aren’t auspicious. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy went into the meeting with a bad attitude, starting with his refusal of Zelenskyy’s request to speak to a joint session of Congress. “We just didn’t have time,” McCarthy told reporters. “He’s already given a joint session.” Then he reiterated that he would demand Zelenskyy justify his request for continued assistance. “What is the plan for victory? Where are we currently on the field? The accountability issues that a lot of members have questions, just walk through that.”

    Zelenskyy could very well turn those questions on McCarthy, who has no plan for victory over the dozen or so members of his own conference who are refusing to do their one basic job: keep the government funded and functioning.

    The Senate provided a more receptive audience. Zelenskyy has powerful allies there, including the Democratic majority, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the majority of Republican senators who realize the stakes in this war. [Photo of Zelensky addressing Senators inside the historic old Senate chamber. He received multiple standing ovations.]

    Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas spoke to the concern that the dysfunction in the House and the threat of the government shutdown fight is delaying assistance. “Am I worried that might be the case? Yes,” he told Politico. “It’s a terrible message, as we struggle to take care of assisting Ukraine in this war. Just even the process is damaging to the view of the stability of the United States and being an ally.”

    That’s not to say there aren’t problems in the Senate, as well. The usual suspect, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, threatened to help the House shut the government down Wednesday, by saying he would not allow the Senate to move a stopgap government funding bill through quickly if it included Ukraine aid. Not to be outdone, freshman Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio piled on with a letter to the Biden administration, rejecting the request. He had just five other senators on board, plus a bunch of House Freedom Caucus jerks.

    That attitude is deepening the divide in the Senate, where one Democrat is ready to blow. “These guys need to get goddamn with the program,” Sen. Jon Tester of Montana exclaimed. “These guys don’t want to protect democracy in the world? What the hell have we become?”

    That’s what the world is probably wondering now, watching one half of the Congress being held hostage by just a handful of nihilists.

  124. says

    David Brooks gets brutally mocked after complaint about $78 airport meal

    New York Times columnist David Brooks, supposedly a high-flown thinker who is above the social media stunts of his fellow right-wing pundits, was savagely mocked Wednesday night after trying to engage in the fad for pictures of underwhelming amounts of food with an outrageous price tag attached. While many social media posts in that vein are suspect and can be revealed as misleading or false with a little sleuthing, Brooks made it way too easy—and showed his cluelessness in the process. [Tweets and images at the link]

    Just a modest meal of a hamburger, some crinkle-cut fries, some packets of ketchup … and a large glass of what appears to be whiskey. Did Brooks think viewers would assume that was iced tea?

    Airport food is expensive—and not just because of price-gouging—but not $78-burger expensive. In response, someone tweeted a copy of their own receipt from what may well have been the same Newark airport restaurant, showing a $24.54 burger and a $13 beer. It wouldn’t be hard to spend $40 or more on a whiskey at the Newark airport, though.

    This was a ridiculous whiff—one so bad Brooks is likely to announce that he was joking all along—but what makes it interesting is that it was David Brooks. Brooks has long been framed as a public intellectual. His moralizing books are reviewed in serious publications. The American Sociological Association in 2011 gave him its Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues. He spent years as a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson School of Global Affairs. All of which goes to show how low the bar is for a conservative to be taken as intellectual. Brooks is a consistently lazy observer and thinker, and has been since fairly early in his career. [I agree.]

    Republicans like to rail against affirmative action, and yet being on the right means you can be an intellectual lightweight and still be celebrated as a great thinker. You can be a Supreme Court justice with nothing much to say. The gulf between the median level of thoughtfulness, originality, and rigor on the left, broadly speaking, and the right, broadly speaking, in the media and the courts and elsewhere is staggering, and the elevation of people like Brooks as weighty thinkers (no, really, so, so serious and smart) is a central part of that. Nice liberals who want to show their breadth of thinking and tolerance convince themselves that David Brooks is the intellectual equivalent of Ta-Nehisi Coates or Tressie McMillan Cottom because it makes them feel better about themselves and because it shields them a little from the reality of just how bleak the U.S. political landscape is. Brooks has made a lucrative career at playing to those impulses.

  125. says

    Followup to comment 153.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the most important message Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered to lawmakers was that failure to deliver more U.S. assistance would condemn Ukraine to a Russian takeover.

    “There was a single sentence that summed it all up and I’m quoting him verbatim. Mr. Zelensky said ‘If we don’t get the aid, we will lose the war.’ That’s a quote from him,” Schumer told reporters following a closed door meeting with the Ukrainian president. […]


  126. says

    Canadian Transphobes Thought Millions Would March For Them. It Didn’t Quite Work Out That Way.

    Counter-protesters supporting trans rights vastly outnumbered them.

    […] this Wednesday, Canadian transphobes tried to hold a multi-city 1 Million March 4 Children. They dreamt that busybodies in practically 100 cities and towns all over the Great White North would make their own kids walk out of school at 9 a.m. and take to the streets in order to chastise transgender people, children in particular, for existing. Indeed, to chastise the whole darn world for not being as shitty to trans people as they would like, under the guise of “protecting children,” who very likely do not give a flying shit what gender people identify as without the helpful assistance of weird, backwards, bigot parents from whom they will likely be estranged when they grow up.

    Specifically, the organizers — who were in cahoots with groups like Gays Against Groomers along with anti-abortion groups and groups supporting the anti-vax Freedom Convoys — said they were “advocating for the elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.” [Of course anti-vaccine and anti-abortion groups joined the transphobia. All of the ignorant doofuses flocking together.]

    One wonders what kind of English (or French, depending) classes they plan to have without pronouns. Or how they are going to avoid having mixed bathrooms when trans girls are forced to use the boys’ room and trans boys are supposed to use the girls’ room, which one imagines would create a whole lot more confusion and chaos than the opposite. (If their big fear is that cis boys are going to pretend to be trans girls in order to sneak into the girls’ bathroom … couldn’t they then also do that by claiming to be trans boys? And much more easily, as it would not require a costume change? Logic, clearly, is not a strong point for these types.)

    The protests, in most areas, did not turn out very well for them. [video at the link]

    Erin Reed of Erin In The Morning reports that in cities like Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver, only a sparse few turned out for the bigots, who were wildly outnumbered by supporters of trans rights. Democratic leaders and teachers unions showed their support in the streets, while mayors and city governments flew progress pride flags and tweeted their support for trans youth.

    Unfortunately, this was not the case everywhere, as some cities in more conservative areas of the country saw about an equal turnout on both sides.

    We often think of Canada as being a liberal wonderland — and in many respects, policy-wise, it can be. They have universal healthcare, an unusual number of peppy folk rock bands, a dog that travels from to town to town solving people’s problems and stopping Abe Vigoda from accidentally doing fur crimes, and it seems like they’re all super nice and polite. However, it’s not all sweetness and light. There was that guy who kept killing people and feeding them to his pigs, and there are conservative areas of the country that have started adopting anti-trans policies similar to those supported and enacted by US conservatives.

    From Erin In The Morning:

    Saskatchewan, for instance, has adopted a new policy alongside New Brunswick that requires transgender students to inform parents if they wish to change their pronouns in schools. The education minister of Ontario, Stephen Lecce, likewise indicated his support for parental notification. Meanwhile, Canadian conservatives, lead by Pierre Poilievre, have recently adopted a set of platform positions that include trans bathroom bans, sports bans, and gender affirming care bans.

    If there is any indication that these groups do not give one solitary damn about children, it is these parental notification laws, which put children at risk of abuse, being kicked out of their homes or worse. Kids know their own parents and know whether or not it is safe to tell them something like this — and the sick thing is that those advancing these laws know that and are hoping that fear of their parents finding out will keep kids in the closet at least until they graduate.

    It’s good (and important) that every time these people try to go out they are met with resistance, because it’s their belief that they represent the majority […] But 70 percent of Canadian parents say that if they had a trans child, they would do whatever they could to accommodate them, and while it’s certainly not perfect, that’s the real majority.

  127. says

    U.S. Will Allow Nearly 500,000 Venezuelan Migrants to Work Legally

    New York Times link

    The Biden administration said late Wednesday that it would allow hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans already in the United States to live and work legally in the country for 18 months.

    The decision followed intense advocacy by top New York Democrats, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams and party leaders in Congress. It will affect about 472,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country before July 31, temporarily protecting them from removal and waiving a monthslong waiting period for them to seek employment authorization.

    In an unusual break with a president of their party, the New York Democrats had argued that the city’s social safety net would tear under the weight of more than 110,000 recently arrived migrants unless they were allowed to work and support themselves more quickly.

    Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said that he made the decision because conditions in Venezuela “prevent their safe return” but stressed that immigrants who had entered the country since August were not protected and would be “removed when they are found to not have a legal basis to stay.”

    In a joint statement, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the top Democrats in the Senate and House, said that the Homeland Security Department had estimated that roughly half the migrants currently living in New York are Venezuelans who would be affected by the decision. They called it a “welcome step forward.”

    […] “As a result of this decision, immigrants will be temporarily allowed to work, fill needed jobs and support their families while awaiting an asylum determination,” they wrote. “The decision will also substantially reduce the cost to New York taxpayers with respect to the sheltering of asylum seekers.” […]

    The administration’s decision, which was part of a raft of actions to deal with the crush of migrants trying to cross the border, was announced on Wednesday […]

    The administration had already extended humanitarian protections to close to 250,000 Venezuelans who had arrived in the country by March 2021. But officials had been wary that extending it more broadly could create a new, longer-term incentive for migrants to attempt to cross into the country.

    […] The Biden administration helped secure $140 million in emergency funds for New York and has requested more from Congress. Dozens of federal officials are also on the ground in New York City trying to help identify other migrants who were already eligible for employment but had yet to file applications.

    White House officials argue that only Congress can meaningfully overhaul the nation’s immigration system […]

  128. says

    NBC News:

    For the second time this week, House Republicans on Thursday failed to start debate on a key military funding bill after five conservative rebels blocked the measure over demands for additional spending cuts. The defeat marked yet another public embarrassment for Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans as Washington barrels toward a government shutdown.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] Just so we’re all clear, this wasn’t a vote on a bill that would fund the Defense Department; it was a vote on beginning the debate on a bill that would fund the Defense Department.

    […] up until very recently a House majority conference hadn’t lost a vote on adopting a rule in more than two decades.

    McCarthy has now lost three such votes — in the last three months.

    […] The deadline for a government shutdown is just nine days away, and McCarthy appears to have no idea how to (a) prevent that from happening; and (b) avoid blame for his own party’s debacle.

    […] Postscript: Just as I was getting ready to publish, Sherman noted online that he’s received texts from inside the House Republican leadership in the last few minutes. One described conditions as “f—ing chaos,” while the other said the chamber has become “a total s— show.”

  129. says

    Brony @162, yes. That’s a good description.

    In other news: Israel-Saudi Peace Deal: What The F… Is in It for the US?

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, essentially frozen out by President Biden, is back in laudatory mode. In a long withheld sit-down with the President yesterday Netanyahu told Biden, “Under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.” Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s longtime chief agit-prop guy and hype man, says it could be a “reverse 9/11” for the U.S. That sounds kind of weird frankly and not necessarily something you’d want, given that 9/11 and everything that happened after it kinda sucked. But what he means is that whereas 9/11 led to one disaster after another for the U.S. in the region, this Israel-Saudi peace deal would make everything in the region suddenly awesome for the U.S.

    But who are we kidding here exactly?

    The price for the Saudis appears to be some sort of pretty ironclad security guarantee on the model we have with South Korea.

    As I said, who are we kidding here?

    What does the U.S. get from giving a strong security guarantee to a country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that is now largely hostile to the U.S. on behalf of another country, Israel, that is increasingly annoying and meddlesome at best? This isn’t the 1990s or even the aughts when the Middle East was a region made up mostly of various sorts of fairly-locked-in U.S. allies, albeit ones with major disagreements amongst themselves. In that world it was a matter of great value to have Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan sign peace treaties with each other. They may not be allies themselves. But if they had normal state to state relations that made our being allies with each of them individually far more manageable. If that rapprochement could be extended to the Gulf, and especially to Saudi Arabia, even better.

    But that’s hardly the case today.

    The U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia, stretching all the way back to the 1940s, was always uncomfortable and even unseemly. But for decades the Saudis were supporters of high level American interests and guarantors of price stability in global oil markets. At least that was the idea. Today they appear more in league with Russia than the United States, certainly in world oil markets and beyond that as well. They openly bid [join?] China against the United States for their favor.

    […] The Saudis have as much right to pursue their own interests as any other sovereign country. But again, what would the U.S. be getting in return for any of this?

    The only clear answer I can see is: nothing.

    I’m not even talking here about the Saudi Kingdom’s abysmal human rights record. That speaks for itself. Sometimes the U.S. must balance values with core interests. With the Saudis the values side of the ledger speaks for itself. What are the hard foreign policy or economic interests here balancing any of that out?

    There’s the additional matter that both [Israel and Saudi Arabia] have become increasingly open about the fact that their connection is with the Republican Party and/or the Trump family rather than the U.S. Even now it seems clear that the Saudis will do what they can to time a spike in global oil prices to coincide with President Biden’s reelection campaign.

    With Israel it is not so much Israel per se as Netanyahu and his nationalist bloc. [True] The other Israel has been on the streets weekly for the better part of a year protesting his judicial coup and the steady movement of the state under his aegis to Team Authoritarian. At the moment a majority of Israel is likely on the side of the protestors. But Netanyahu’s return to the premiership makes believing that Israel’s future isn’t his a matter of hope more than reason.

    There are of course a thousand complexities in these relationships […] But again, what exactly is in this for the U.S.? Will this peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia pry the latter free of Russia and China? If that were the case, that might conceivably hold some logic. But is there any sign of that?

    […] this seems more flimflam to get something out of the U.S. for nothing. It all seems very Trumpian.

    My fear here is that we went so long in U.S. foreign policy seeing something like this as crown jewel type breakthrough that we’re on a kind of autopilot. We haven’t stood back long enough or far enough to consider whether this is really a good deal for us now as opposed to 10, 20 or 30 years ago. On its face it looks like we agree to a committed relationship while the Saudis play the field. The Bibi-fied Israelis might not be far behind.

    I would imagine that foreign policy types think that the U.S. being the guarantor of a regional anchor relationship puts us back in the game, a status put in question by the recent Chinese brokering of a rapprochement between the Saudis and Iran and Russia’s virtual protectorate over Syria. But is that really what we’re getting? I have my doubts. They would likely also see it as a further counterweight to Iran. But again, is that really what we’re getting? Again, I have my doubts.

  130. tomh says

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Trump electors: ‘fake’ or ‘contingent’?
    Judge hears arguments from Trump electors seeking a move to federal court
    By Bill Rankin and David Wickert / Sept 20, 2023

    Three Republicans who cast Electoral College votes for Donald Trump after the 2020 presidential election were acting as federal officers and doing what the law allowed, defense lawyers told a federal judge on Wednesday.

    The Trump electors — former Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer, state Sen. Shawn Still and former Coffee County GOP Chairwoman Cathy Latham — are charged in Fulton County with conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election. They are seeking to get their cases removed from Fulton Superior Court to U.S. District Court in Atlanta…

    Special prosecutor Anna Cross called the defense’s contentions “untethered to any factual legal evidence.” She urged U.S. District Judge Steve Jones to keep the case in Fulton County.

    Attorneys for the defendants argued their clients were “contingent” electors under the federal Electoral Count Act. Among other things, the law requires states to resolve legal disputes about the outcome of elections six days before presidential electors cast their ballots — the so-called “safe harbor” deadline.

    When presidential electors met on Dec. 14, 2020, Trump’s lawsuit challenging the election in Georgia was still pending. That meant Gov. Brian Kemp’s certification of Democrat Joe Biden was no longer valid, argued Shafer’s attorney, Craig Gillen.

    Because of that, neither the Democratic nor Republican electors were official, Gillen said. At that point, it was up to Congress to pick the proper electors. If both houses of Congress agreed on the winner, that was the official slate, he said. If the houses couldn’t agree, then – and only then – would Kemp’s certified slate become official.

    Gillen argued that made the 16 Republicans “contingent” electors under federal law.

    Cross called Gillen’s arguments “novel,” “nonsense” and “fantasy.” She noted that, after correcting deficiencies, Trump refiled his lawsuit the day before the safe harbor deadline. Under the electors’ argument, that gave the court one day to resolve the dispute.

    Cross said the electors had presented no case law supporting the idea “that you can file a procedurally and substantively deficient challenge and, suddenly, everything’s up in the air.” She said the Republicans did not become federal officers simply by claiming to be official presidential electors.

    “They were fake electors,” Cross said. “They were impersonating electors. They were not electors at all.”

    At one point in the hearing, Jones asked Hollie Pierson, another lawyer representing Shafer, why he should disregard two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that said Electoral College electors are not federal officials.

    Pierson told Jones that the high court’s references to the electors was “dicta,” meaning the passage was an opinion of a court but not binding in subsequent cases as legal precedent.

    Jones agreed but then said, “There’s dicta, then there’s Supreme Court dicta.”

  131. says

    Republican congresswoman comes up with most bizarre defense yet for Jan. 6

    Move over, Rep. Andy Biggs. Stop vaping in that pregnant woman’s face, Rep. Lauren Boebert. We’ve got a new candidate for weirdest Republican in the House, and she is on a roll.

    On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland was summoned to the Capitol to be ranted at by House Republican Jim Jordan’s Special All-Clown Revue, or what used to be known as the House Judiciary Committee before Republicans turned it into a dumping ground for congressional crackpots.

    Whatever the original plan was, the hearing quickly devolved into the usual circus, with Garland on the receiving end of complaints about a “World Naked Bike Ride” and generally not being able to get a word in edgewise. But there was one Republican bent on making even those complaints look tame: a performatively furious Rep. Victoria Spartz, who took Garland to task over the Jan. 6 insurrection and resulting arrests.

    In the past, sedition-backing Republicans brushed off the violence and deaths on Jan. 6 as a typical “tourist visit.” Spartz, however, appears to have invented a whole extended universe twice removed from even those claims. The Indiana Republican is outraged that police were attacking families with “strollers and the kids” on that day, and it’s a complete mystery what the flying hell she thinks she’s talking about.

    “You talk about Jan. 6 people, some people came on Jan. 6 here that had bad intent but a lot of good Americans from my district came here because they are sick and tired of this government not serving them,” Spartz told Garland. “They came with strollers and the kids and there was a chaotic situation because proper security wasn’t provided.”

    Let’s back that trolley up a bit, because what? No seriously, what? Here’s the clip, via Aaron Rupar. [Video at the link. You can see AG Garland working hard to keep a straight face. He doesn’t even roll his eyes. He does look a bit puzzled.]

    There are several things going on with this, and all of them are muddled together into a great big pile of What The Hell. It’s gracious that Spartz is willing to allow that there were at least “some” people in the crowd that had bad intent, given that the crowd attacked and injured over 140 law enforcement officers as they made their way into the Capitol to hunt for lawmakers and ransack their offices—a few bad actors there!—but this is the first anyone has heard of the rioters supposedly wheeling in baby strollers so that their toddlers could get their own taste of the violence.

    Spartz, though, just kept on going. “They were throwing smoke bombs into the crowd with strollers with kids. People showed up, you know, FBI agents, to people’s houses. You had, in my district, in my town, FBI phone numbers all over the district.”

    While it’s conceivable that a handful of Trump supporters might actually have brought young children to Trump’s planned Jan. 6 march—because Trump supporters, by definition, have the worst judgment of anyone in America—if there’s footage out there of rioters bringing their children into the rioting mob, none of us have found it yet.

    […] Garland wasn’t in charge of the Justice Department back then, so if “proper security wasn’t provided,” then maybe Spartz should devote some of her apparently voluminous free time to figuring out who the hell did keep “proper security” away from Trump’s armed rally mob.

    Here is a tip: Witnesses say it was the White House itself.

    Curiously, or perhaps not, there doesn’t seem to be much of anything in Spartz’s rant that is true. She claims that “in my district” the FBI was allegedly running amok, but there appears to be only one Spartz constituent arrested after the riot, a bear spray-wielding Oath Keepers founder who’s been cooperating with the federal probe of the seditious conspiracy.

    If Spartz is going to argue that law enforcement overstepped in charging the militias that led the attacks on that day, she’s going to need to spell it out a lot more clearly. Because it’s a damn certainty that none of those Oath Keepers showed up with baby strollers.

    Spartz isn’t seeking reelection, so chastising a man who wasn’t in charge for an insufficiently baby-friendly environment inside the mob of violent attackers is evidently not a play for new votes. She just has really strong thoughts about imaginary babies and imaginary constituents being terrorized by, uh, “FBI phone numbers.” […]

  132. Reginald Selkirk says

    #164 Fake electors

    Supposing that, for the sake of argument, we accept their argument that they are ‘contingent electors’ rather than fakety fake electors. Wouldn’t that make them state officers, not federal?

  133. says

    Ukraine consolidates gains around Robotyne, and is primed for more

    Ukraine liberated Robotyne, in the southern Zaporizhzhia front, in late August. Since then, things seem to have slowed down, but Ukraine has been busy. And in the last few days, things have gotten truly interesting again.

    […] map of the southern front: [map at the link]

    Green marks the territory liberated since the start of Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive. Blue is the “gray area” between fronts, in which neither side has confirmed control. As is clear at this scale, the Robotyne axis, in the direction of the strategically important city of Tokmak, has proven most fruitful for Ukraine. Not only have its forces penetrated deeper into Russian lines than anywhere else, but it’s done so by piercing two of Russia’s major lines, including the (in)famous “Surovikin line.”

    After Robotyne’s liberation and the first confirmed puncturing of the Surovikin line, I wrote that ideally, Ukraine could begin rolling up the full line from that breach in the east, sweeping westward behind those lines. [map at the link]

    Well, that’s exactly what is now happening. Ukraine has consolidated its gains behind that line, outside of Verbove, and begins to push out from that beachhead (breachhead?). [map at the link]

    The map above comes from a credible pro-Russia source Suryak, but it may already be outdated. We now have geolocated confirmation that Ukraine is operating well into the gray area in the map above. And even more notably, Ukraine is moving armored vehicles into the breach. That means two key things:
    – Ukraine has cleared the area of mines, allowing armor to more freely operate in that backfield.
    – Ukrainian infantry has cleared the area of anti-tank traps—defensive emplacements equipped with anti-tank guided missiles—while pushing suicide-drone operators further from the contact line (making their drones both more susceptible to running out of power before finding a target, and more vulnerable to electronic countermeasures).

    Remember, rather than wage costly head-on charges with vulnerable armor (which bit them at the start of the counteroffensive), Ukraine has held back its heavy gear and painstakingly pushed forward using small-infantry tactics. This has made it harder for Russia’s strained artillery guns or massive minefields to stall the advance, at the expense of slower Ukrainian gains.

    Interestingly, a great number of those armored vehicles punching through the breach near Verbove aren’t tanks, and while we’ve seen Marder infantry fighting vehicles, the bulk of the armor are MRAP—mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. Those are the big heavy-wheeled vehicles, such as American Strykers.

    As much as Ukraine begged for armor, those have proven vulnerable to suicide drones and are expensive to equip, operate, and move. Their fuel needs are beyond comprehension. (An American M1 Abrams tank uses 2-3 gallons of fuel per mile, not a typo.) MRAPs are faster, more nimble, less difficult to maintain and support, and there are a lot more of them available to donate by allies.

    Their presence likely means that Russian armor has been depleted enough along the contact line that these vehicles are less exposed to tank fire—their biggest enemy. Sure, they are vulnerable to infantry-fired anti-tank guided missiles, but those can do only so much against a swarm of MRAPs, and Western vehicles do a good job of protecting the crews inside them. […]

    And Ukraine isn’t just advancing east of Robotyne. There have been methodical gains to the west as well. [map at the link]

    Just like the east, around Verbove, Ukraine has punctured two layers of the Surovikin Line in the high ground to Robotyne’s west. Russia’s defenses are starting to leak like a sieve. As Ukraine consolidates this territory, it will be able to more effectively sweep downhill toward Tokmak. There aren’t even that many mines in that direction, as Russians violated their own doctrine to frontload their entire mine supply in front of the first line. That has left little for the backfield, giving Ukraine a big mobility advantage as it continues widening that salient.

    The biggest danger, for now, is exactly that salient. Ukraine will need to figure out what to do about Verbove, which sits in a valley surrounded by hills crawling with Russian defenses. Ideally, it would bypass the settlement, maybe even cut off supply routes to its east, but those look safe for now. It can’t leave that hornets nest of Russians on an exposed flank. Or can it? Can Ukraine plop in some territorial defense forces on the now-occupied Surovikin line itself to protect that flank? Beats me. But as this counteroffensive has developed, it’s been clear that wherever Ukraine makes gains, it spends time flattening the front. It does not like salients—and probably for good reason.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine is putting pressure directly on the main line, south of Robotyne. [Tweet and maps at the link]

    I don’t know if Ukraine thinks it can breach the lines at those points while Russia holds the heights along the bottom of that salient, especially around the now-famous Hill 166, the highest point in that entire region. But as long as the line is pressured, Russia can’t shift forces toward Verbove or Robotyne to contain those breaches, so it makes perfect sense to keep pushing southward. Russia is forced with an unwinnable dilemma—attempt to plug the holes in the line, weakening its main line, or hold the middle of the lines and see them rolled up from behind.

    With Ukraine regaining lost territory up north around Kupyansk, it’s clear that Russia has shifted whatever it had up there to the south. It is running out of reserves. Meanwhile, Ukraine is reportedly ready to roll, preparing reserves to move into action. As Euromaidan Press writes:

    Russian analysts claimed that Ukrainians already started preparing for the next big push. Russian sources reported that Ukrainians are gradually reinforcing the region with elements from the 71st Jager Brigade, 82nd Assault Brigade, and 46 Airmobile Brigade.

    Russians claimed that Ukrainians were accumulating these forces in the Chubenkova gully, somewhere in the center of the bridgehead. Having forces in such close proximity to the front line increases the chances of successful exploitation of the element of surprise because the probability that Russians notice and react on time to a massive assault is low.

    On top of that, by keeping these forces right in the middle, Ukrainians create for Russians an unpleasant dilemma because the Russian defense line is breached not only near Verbove but in several places along the entire line. So, Russians must be prepared to face a big attack on Verbove, Novoprokopivka, between the two, and also near Kopani.

    All the while, Ukraine’s “shaping” operations continue, with counterbattery fire absolutely decimating Russian artillery, and suicide drones continuing to systematically attrit Russian tanks, armored vehicles, infantry, and their logistics (supply trucks and vehicles).

    And Russia being Russia, it continues to counterattack lost positions out in the open, rather than reinforcing their defensive lines. [Tweet and video at the link: Russian attack attempt on Robotyne direction. Repelled by the 47th brigade. Also, as stated, Russians mistakenly launched a TOS-1 strike at a position where Russian infantry had landed not long before.]

    In yesterday’s update, Mark Sumner included a snippet from Russian Telegram complaining about those suicidal efforts. “[Russia’s situation] is very difficult, mainly not because the enemy, in principle, managed to push through our defenses in this area,” wrote the account Philologist in the Gray Zone. “The key problem is the hysterical retaliatory actions that our command is taking in this Area. We have hysterical attempts to recapture the ruins of Andreevka. Equally hysterical attempts to counterattack occur in the surrounding area.”

    And the reason Russian commanders keep sending people to die in those fruitless counterattacks? I wrote about that a couple of days ago. “In direct text, [Russian commanders] tell us: go, fix yourself there,” said the wife of a mobilized soldier stationed around Bakhmut, relaying his reports from the front, according to Russian-language publication Radio Liberty. “We see that it’s not our position for a long time … And in general, you can see with the naked eye that our positions have not been there for a long time. And the command claims that it’s ours.”

    As long as a Russian soldier is moving in that contested territory, commanders can report back to Moscow that they retain control. So they keep sending wave after wave of soldiers to die, in order to maintain their charade. You can literally see that happening in the video posted above.

    Ukraine is breaching Russian lines […] The biggest question hanging over all of this is the question of reserves—how much, and how fresh, does each side have? The fog of war is thick, and it’s oftentimes hard to sift between reality and wishful thinking. So here’s hoping that Russia truly is running low, and Ukraine truly has multiple brigades ready to spring into action.
    [Tweet and images at the link: After receiving treatment and rehabilitation in Germany, 8-year-old Roman Oleksiv has returned home. On July 14, 2022, a russian missile struck a Vinnytsia clinic where he and his mother were waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Roman’s mother (along with 22 other people) died before his eyes.

    The boy suffered severe injuries. 45% of his body was burned, internal burns in some places reached his bones. After Ukrainian doctors stabilized his condition, Roman was taken to a clinic in Dresden. Doctors were amazed at the boy’s strength of character. Because of the burns on his leg, a muscle was removed.

    Roman began training and is now walking on his own. He went to a German school and continued his online studies in Ukrainian.

    His mask must be worn for two years to avoid scarring. Plastic surgeons vow that the boy’s face will be entirely restored later.]
    Oh man, this story.

  134. says

    New York Times:

    Russia’s missile attack on Thursday on targets across Ukraine, damaged energy facilities and caused power outages in several regions, a reminder of a Russian air campaign on infrastructure last winter that sought to break Ukrainians’ will by plunging them into cold and darkness.

  135. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna, OM
    I think we all know about Russian attitudes to terror bombing by now…
    If they still had chemical weapons in their stockpiles, they would be using it.

  136. says


    Following House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s second stunning defeat in just three days, he cried “uncle,” calling it quits for the day. There reportedly weren’t enough votes for the House to officially adjourn, possibly because some Republicans apparently didn’t want to hang around just to vote to leave. [Tweet at the link: Some members have already caught flights out of DC]

    That’s how seriously they take McCarthy, who declared on Monday, “I’ve told all of Congress you’re not going to go home. We’re going to continue to work through this.” On Wednesday, he told reporters there would be Saturday votes this week. Leadership is still threatening that the House may reconvene as soon as Friday. Since few in McCarthy’s conference seem to take him seriously, with some reportedly already booking it out of town, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be able to get enough of them back to the House chamber to pass anything.

    If they don’t come back this weekend, they won’t meet again until next Tuesday, after observing Yom Kippur on Monday.

    The defeat on moving forward with defense appropriations Thursday was a surprise. According to members who were in the meeting, McCarthy was certain after meetings Wednesday that he had enough votes to advance the defense spending bill. Two of his extremist caucus members—Marjorie Taylor Greene and Eli Crane—upended his plans when they voted against moving the defense bill forward. “Two people flipped so I got to figure out how to fix that,” McCarthy said after the vote. “That wasn’t the impression they had given us.”

    This is very much a moving target, but as of Thursday afternoon, McCarthy’s plan to salvage all this was to, in essence, hand the gavel to chief chaos agent Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. Gaetz proposed scrapping the effort to pass a stopgap funding bill and instead bring up the individual funding bills for each department—11 out of 12 of which are still outstanding (they passed one in July) at funding levels below what passed in the Appropriations Committee. Oh, and doing it between Tuesday and Sunday of next week, to meet the Sept. 30 deadline.

    If McCarthy follows that plan, and it looks like he intends to, it means no stopgap funding bill. Gaetz told reporters following a meeting with leadership Thursday afternoon that his plan had been adopted, and what’s more, he said that he wouldn’t ever vote for a continuing resolution. That precludes any effort to keep the government open as the House and Senate figure out the full appropriations bills for the new fiscal year. It means the government would definitely shut down, because the House would be working on new appropriations bills—a process that also requires a back-and-forth with the Senate—rather than the immediate funding.

    That’s if it happens, and with Gaetz apparently in charge now, all bets are off.

    The Senate finished work for the week early, as well, with no agreement from Republicans on moving its spending plan forward. The meltdown in the House could drive Senate Republicans to relent and work with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats on a continuing resolution next week. It seems that the only way to avoid a shutdown is for a united Senate to pass a continuing resolution and land it on McCarthy’s doorstep at the last possible minute, forcing him to either adopt it with the help of Democrats or shut the government down.


  137. says


    Christians who claim to be “ex-Satanists” are a lot like people who believe in past lives — not a schlub or a minion among them. Every single one was a “high priest” or a “high priestess,” just like people who believe in past lives were always royalty of some kind and never like, a random farmer or chambermaid.

    We can only assume that it is one of these “High Priests” or “High Priestesses” that gave Daily Wire host Michael Knowles his inside intel on What The Satanists Are Up To These Days.

    In a recent broadcast, as reported by Media Matters, Michael Knowles filmed himself doing reactions to a 2018 VICE short featuring an unnamed fella purporting to be the head of the UK branch of the Satanic Temple answering questions about Satanism. Though the Satanic Temple people are atheists and not literal devil worshipers, Knowles got pretty huffy over this Satanist fella’s assertion that he does not sacrifice or sex traffic children. [video at the link]

    Knowles swerved right from “You support sacrificing children because you support abortions and that is the same thing!” — a place where one can be wrong and stupid but still somewhat planted in this reality — to the place of “And all of the abortion clinics are attached to Satanic covens, I know because I heard this from an ex-Satanist.”

    He said:

    “If you support abortion as a political matter, which all of these people do, then you are involved in the killing of babies — wholesale slaughter of babies. And, by the way, every single abortion clinic in the United States has a satanic coven attached to it. And you might say, that’s crazy. That’s a cult. There’s no way that stuff really happens. Look at these people. You think these people wouldn’t do that? And maybe if it’s not these people, if it’s the more hardcore — if they’re the more semi-ironic Satanists, the hardcore ones are — you could speak — you hear testimony from former Satanists who — who talk about this frequently.”

    You know, I love this. I do. Abortion clinics across America partnering with “satanic covens” for unspecified reasons that I guess have something to do with baby sacrifice. They never really get into the details here. Do they eat the fetuses? Do they use them in rituals? And what, exactly, do the abortion clinics get out of this? What if a new one opens up? Do they have to go seek out some Satanists first?

    I mean, really, when you think of it, what are the Satanists even getting out of this besides a general “Yeah, this is a thing Christians think is bad!” From what I’ve seen, it seems like they’re usually far busier trying to get the antichrist born, either from Mia Farrow or a jackal. I mean, if we’re talking about definitely true things that are not fiction here.

    About a week ago, I actually came across the most hilarious video earnestly purporting to explain why “they” (by which I assume they mean “we”) are always sacrificing babies. It’s fair that they were curious, because let’s be real — this is something their thought leaders never really get into. Mostly it’s just “Because they are the bad guys.” Anyway, Lara Logan is pretty sure she has the answer. [video at the link]

    The formerly celebrated war correspondent explains that someone told her that “these people” sacrifice babies because their one purpose is to defeat God. Which is just like, the absolute height of Main Character Syndrome — thinking people are out there procuring and sacrificing babies (somehow without ever getting caught or anyone reporting any missing babies) just because they are trying to “defeat” your favorite immortal deity.

    But again … to what end? Like, what is it they think anyone would even get out of that? And who are these people who believe in the Christian religion but want to take it and their God down. I, for one, do not believe in their God, so why should I have to go around sacrificing babies in preparation for some sort of war with him? When are any of us even finding the time? [LOL]

    The fact is, Satanism, the way people like Michael Knowles or Mike Warnke or Jack Chick or Lara Logan conceive of it, literally just does not exist. This oddly corporate, multi-level marketing Satanism that only someone who has been a born again their whole lives could possible come up with. There is theistic Satanism, though even those groups are not “Worshiping the bad guy of the Christian Religion” and usually have a different understanding of what Satan is than do Christians. For instance, the Temple of Set venerates the Egyptian god Set, not the Christian devil. Perhaps ironically for Knowles, the vast majority of those groups — like the Order of Nine Angles and the Joy of Satan — are pretty right-wing (as in, they are literally neo-Nazis).

    I get that it makes their religion a lot more exciting if you imagine a highly organized group of franchised Satanists plotting against you than the very boring reality, which is that people who don’t belong to your religion don’t care what you do so long as you don’t bother anyone, and that the last time I encountered anyone claiming to love Satan, it was sophomore year of high school and some goth kid was on a lot of acid and also telling me he had a forest in his eyes. Actually had to kick that guy off of my Facebook for whining about “SJWs” a while back, so make of that what you will.

  138. says

    Biden announces new aid package during Zelensky meeting

    Washington Post link

    President Biden and first lady Jill Biden greeted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday afternoon as he arrived for the Ukrainian leader’s third visit to the White House. Earlier in the day, Zelensky met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon and with lawmakers at the Capitol. The Biden administration is seeking approval from Congress for an additional $24 billion in aid to Ukraine, but it announced that the United States would send “more artillery, more ammunition or antitank weapons” to the country. And next week, the first U.S. Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine.

    […] “We agreed to work on the future force of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian president said during his meeting at the White House. “It’s very important and is a strategic decision that will allow us to prevent any new aggression against us, against Ukraine, our people. And this will be one of the outcomes of the Vilnius G-7 declaration and our bilateral security arrangements. … We reached new agreement that will strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities.”

    […] House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) used his private meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ask a direct question on how open-ended the war in Ukraine might be and whether Kyiv’s military is using U.S.-provided weapons in a responsible manner, said people familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive exchange.

    […] President Biden noted that he has approved the next tranche of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, which he said includes “more artillery, more ammunition or antitank weapons.” Next week, he added, U.S. Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine.

    The United States, he said, will “continue to support Ukraine’s diplomatic effort to deliver a just, lasting peace, a peace that protects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

    […] In the Oval Office ahead of a private bilateral meeting, President Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, touted the strength of their alliance, with Biden calling Ukraine a “partner” and Zelensky calling their nations “really, truly allies.”

    In prepared remarks, Biden said that the United States is “formalizing our commitment to Ukraine’s long-term security,” alongside other partners. “We’re supporting a just and lasting peace,” he said, according to a pool report.

    […] At the White House for a bilateral meeting with President Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sidestepped a question from a reporter about whether Ukraine was worried about losing the support of Poland.

    “I want to thank the Polish people, Polish society, for their support. That’s it,” Zelensky said in response to the question, which was posited by a reporter from Polish radio, according to pool reports. […]

  139. birgerjohansson says

    While carbon has been discovered at the Jupiter moon Europa, the briny water in the subsurface ocean will hardly be hospitable for life.

  140. birgerjohansson says

    Russel Brand ha done for.
    More accusers are coming forth, and he has admitted things, this looks like a Jimmy Savile situation where a lot of people knew but protected a rich celebrity.

  141. Reginald Selkirk says

    White House Taunts ‘Worst Person’ Matt Gaetz With A Well-Timed Meme

    The White House found a rare moment of agreement with extremist Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), then let him know in the form of a pretty vicious meme.

    Gaetz on Wednesday said any government shutdown would “absolutely” be the fault of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

    “We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills,” he said, according to Fox News digital reporter Liz Elkind. “We cannot blame House Democrats. We can’t even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”

    Gaetz has been threatening to file a motion to get McCarthy booted from the speaker’s chair.

    The White House shared Elkind’s tweet with the Gaetz quote along with the meme “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point.”…

  142. Reginald Selkirk says

    California sues anti-abortion organizations for unproven treatment to reverse medication abortions

    California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Thursday sued an anti-abortion group and a chain of anti-abortion counseling centers, saying the organizations misled women when they offered them unproven treatments to reverse medication abortions.

    Heartbeat International, a national anti-abortion group, and RealOptions Obria, which has five anti-abortion counseling centers in Northern California, used “fraudulent and misleading claims” to advertise a procedure called abortion pill reversal, according to the lawsuit. Abortion pill reversal treatments are unproven, largely experimental and have no scientific backing, Bonta said in the lawsuit…

  143. StevoR says

    Powerful interview between David Marr ( and Laura Tingle fromlast night’;s 7.30 Report here :

    People who have seen what I have written are shocked to discover about the Native Police. They’d maybe heard the name, but it is a discovery for people who are even well read on the business of the Australian frontier – a killer, a band of killers, that operated for 60 years and killed. Well, all of their records have disappeared, presumed destroyed but scholars working on the kinds of ratios of how many blacks died for every white are now talking about the possibility that this band killed 40,000 people – 40,000 Aboriginal people in its time.

    LAURA TINGLE: Because you were tracing your family’s particular connection, you do sort of cut a swathe, shall we say, through a particular history from, shall we say, the Murrumbidgee north and it seems to get worse the further north it goes.

    DAVID MARR: What I have written is a narrative history of the Native Police through the eyes of a family that backed it, directed it and served in it and in this way by cutting a path, as you say, a swathe, through that history, … (snip)..And you’re right, the further it went north, really the worse it became, and the killings were notorious. This was an armed band of killers working for the Queensland government, which was quite happy to admit at the same time that there was no law to authorise them to do the killings they were doing.

    They didn’t care about that a bit.

    Plus this bit esp too :

    DAVID MARR: The arguments. I mean, I was under the delusion that the notion of, of sort of attacks on woke people were kind of invented maybe 15 or 20 years ago but they weren’t.

    In the 1830s, there are newspapers, one of them belonging to that appalling wind bag Wentworth, who attacked what he called the wailers for Aborigines. The people who were saying, “Don’t shoot, don’t steal, these are human beings.” They were attacked for living in the cities, being elite, not knowing what they were talking about and showing off their humanitarian views.

    It’s exactly the same. That same argument is still being used nearly two centuries later.

    Source :

    Note click on the trasncript button for, well, that.

    See also :

  144. Reginald Selkirk says

    The new FineWoven iPhone cases are very bad

    Folks, what you’ve heard so far is true. Apple’s new FineWoven iPhone cases and accessories are bad. Like, really bad. I’ve been puzzling over them for the past week, looking at them from different angles. Picking them up, setting them down, petting them. Seven days later, I still can’t make sense of them and have no other choice but to say it out loud: FineWoven is very bad.

    FineWoven is a new fabric option you’ll find on iPhone 15 cases, AirTag holders, and MagSafe wallets. Apple calls it a “luxurious and durable microtwill.” It’s silky, almost slippery to the touch, and costs $59 for any of the phone cases, $35 for an AirTag holder, and $99 for one of the new watch bands — not the most expensive phone cases you can buy, but pretty darn pricey.

    Apple is pitching them as a premium replacement of sorts for the leather accessories it discontinued. The company won’t sell leather iPhone cases and straps anymore because making them at Apple’s scale “has a significant carbon footprint,” according to Lisa Jackson, the company’s environmental policy VP. That’s fair; as my colleague Justine Calma puts it, “Cattle are a big source of greenhouse gas emissions because cows burp out methane, which is even more potent than CO2 when it comes to its ability to trap heat on the planet.” If you want a fancy first-party iPhone case, then your new, more sustainable option would be FineWoven.

    But FineWoven is very much not the premium material that leather is. When I popped the MagSafe wallet out of its box, I could clearly see some places where it was already showing wear along the edges. Little bits of lint immediately caught on the fabric, too. And then there’s the fingernail test…

  145. tomh says

    Clarence Thomas Secretly Participated in Koch Network Donor Events
    by Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott and Alex Mierjeski / Sept. 22, 2023

    On Jan. 25, 2018, dozens of private jets descended on Palm Springs International Airport. Some of the richest people in the country were arriving for the annual winter donor summit of the Koch network, the political organization founded by libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch. A long weekend of strategizing, relaxation in the California sun and high-dollar fundraising lay ahead.

    Just after 6 p.m., a Gulfstream G200 jet touched down on the tarmac. One of the Koch network’s most powerful allies was on board: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

    During the summit, the justice went to a private dinner for the network’s donors. Thomas has attended Koch donor events at least twice over the years, according to interviews with three former network employees and one major donor. The justice was brought in to speak, staffers said, in the hopes that such access would encourage donors to continue giving.

    That puts Thomas in the extraordinary position of having served as a fundraising draw for a network that has brought cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most closely watched of the upcoming term.

    Thomas never reported the 2018 flight to Palm Springs on his annual financial disclosure form, an apparent violation of federal law requiring justices to report most gifts. A Koch network spokesperson said the network did not pay for the private jet. Since Thomas didn’t disclose it, it’s not clear who did pay.

    Thomas’ involvement in the events is part of a yearslong, personal relationship with the Koch brothers that has remained almost entirely out of public view. It developed over years of trips to the Bohemian Grove, a secretive all-men’s retreat in Northern California. Thomas has been a regular at the Grove for two decades, where he stayed in a small camp with real estate billionaire Harlan Crow and the Kochs, according to records and people who’ve spent time with him there.

    The Koch network is among the largest and most influential political organizations of the last half century, and it’s underwritten a far-reaching campaign to influence the course of American law. In a case the Supreme Court will hear this coming term, the justices could give the network a historic victory: limiting federal agencies’ power to issue regulations in areas ranging from the environment to labor rights to consumer protection. After shepherding the case to the court, Koch network staff attorneys are now asking the justices to overturn a decades-old precedent. (Thomas used to support the precedent but flipped his position in recent years.)

  146. says

    Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is simply saying, “Yes,” in replies to Republican candidates that are criticizing him over his prioritization of union jobs.

    I like the ads that just let the Republicans hang themselves with their own words. Video at the link. Nikki Haley does not come off well in that video. Nor does Tim Scott. Joe Biden, on the other hand, looks really good to union workers,

  147. says

    Federal prosecutors indict Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez

    The last time federal prosecutors charged Sen. Bob Menendez, the case went to trial, but they couldn’t secure a conviction. The case ended in a mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, and those charges were ultimately dropped.

    Six years later, it appears the New Jersey Democrat is going to face the process again. As NBC News reported, Menendez has been indicted on federal bribery charges.

    Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has been indicted on federal bribery charges, the Justice Department announced Friday. The indictment alleges that Menendez and his wife, Nadine, received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes and used the senator’s influence to enrich several businessmen from New Jersey, as well as the Egyptian government.

    By all appearances, the allegations appear very serious. As NBC News’ report added, the court filing alleges that Menendez received, among other things, cash, gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low- or no-show job, and a luxury vehicle.

    In fact, to drive home the point of the seriousness of the case, according to the indictment, shortly after the senator returned from a trip to Egypt, he did a search for, “How much is one kilo of gold worth.”

    […] This is, in other words, no small matter. The conversation about whether Menendez should resign is likely to get quite loud, quite quickly. (It appears, under Senate rules, that the New Jersey Democrat will have no choice but to give up his gavel as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.)

    Time will tell, of course, what becomes of the case, which also comes with significant political implications: Menendez is up for re-election next year, and his indictment is likely to have a significant impact on his prospects.

    It’s also worth keeping a close eye on how Democratic officials respond to the developments — and whether we’ll soon hear chatter about other possible candidates for the Garden State ballot in 2024.

    […] Remember, as far as the GOP is concerned, the Justice Department under President Joe Biden is a corrupt and politicized institution, which has been turned into a partisan weapon used to advance Democrats’ electoral interests.

    In case this isn’t painfully obvious, today’s news points in the opposite direction: It doesn’t do Democrats any favors to have federal prosecutors charge an incumbent Democratic senator the year before his re-election campaign. If the Justice Department were a corrupt and politicized weapon, with a partisan White House pulling its strings, we’d see prosecutors doing the exact opposite of what they’re doing today.

    […] How will GOP conspiracy theorists incorporate Menendez’s latest charges into their preconceived assumptions? I can hardly wait

  148. says


    “Telling workers they’ll be fired for striking is violating federal labor law, and that’s not something becoming of a senator.”

    AFTER INVOKING THE legacy of Ronald Reagan to suggest that striking United Auto Workers members should be fired for demanding higher wages, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., may soon find himself before the National Labor Relations Board. On Thursday, Shawn Fain, the president of UAW, filed a complaint claiming that Scott’s utterance violated federal labor law. Under the National Labor Relations Act, anyone can file a charge against an employer, even if they do not work for that employer.

    The complaint accuses Scott of violating the section of the NLRA that lays out employees rights to participate in labor actions: “Within the past six months, the employer has interfered with, restrained, or coerced employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the Act. On Monday September 18, 2023 Tim Scott threatened employees with adverse consequences if they engage in protected, concerted activity by publicly responding to a question about striking workers as follows: ‘You strike, you’re fired.’”

    The complaint was filed against Scott in his capacity as a representative for Tim Scott for America. In addition to being a senator representing the state of South Carolina, Scott is running for president, making him an employer as well. The premise of the complaint is that Scott’s comments could be construed as a direct threat against his campaign staffers, whose right to strike is enshrined in federal law.

    Scott’s comments appear to violate those laws, said Benjamin Sachs, a professor of labor law at Harvard University. “A statement as direct as ‘if you strike, you’re fired’ is textbook unfair labor practice language because workers can’t be fired for striking,” Sachs told The Intercept. “If a reasonable employee could interpret the statement as ‘if I strike, I’m fired,’ then it is without a doubt an unfair labor practice violation.” […]

  149. says

    Ex Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson reveals Trump almost never wore a mask during the pandemic because it would mess with his makeup: “When he looked at the straps of his mask, he saw they were covered in bronzer. He wasn’t happy about that. ‘Why did no one else tell me that? I’m not wearing this thing.’

    The press would criticize him for not wearing a mask, not knowing that the depth of his vanity had caused him to reject masks – and then millions of his fans followed suit.” (The Guardian)

  150. says

    North Carolina Republicans Just Passed a Massive Power Grab to Seize Control of Elections

    A new law could give the GOP legislature the ability to overturn results and cut early voting in Democratic areas.

    North Carolina Republicans on Friday passed a major power grab, stripping the state’s Democratic governor of the authority to appoint a majority of members to state and county election boards and giving the heavily gerrymandered GOP legislature far more influence over how elections are run and certified in the battleground state.

    In North Carolina, the governor dictates the political makeup of the state and county election boards, which are each composed of five members. Under Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, the boards have three Democrats and two Republicans. The governor appoints the members of the state board and the chair of the county boards. Under the new bill, those bodies would be evenly divided, with legislative leaders choosing the members of the state and local boards.

    While that is theoretically more bipartisan, it is a recipe for gridlock that could hand sweeping new powers to Republicans in the legislature, who have a supermajority in both chambers due to the gerrymandered maps they drew in 2021.

    If the state election board deadlocks and cannot certify a winner of an election, that power would instead go to the legislature. That means Republicans could determine the state’s presidential electors and potentially subvert the popular vote winner of the state if a Democrat carries North Carolina. “The legislature now gets to decide the outcome of all of our elections,” says Melissa Price Kromm, executive director of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, a pro-democracy coalition in the state. “When people vote is the will of the people still going to be accepted in North Carolina?” (State and federal courts could still order that elections be certified, and in presidential elections the legislature would need to comply with the revamped Electoral Count Act passed by Congress in 2021, which makes it harder for rogue legislatures to overturn the will of the voters.)

    The bill also makes it easier to overturn elections in another way: only five of eight members of the new state board need to vote in favor of redoing an election, compared to four out of five members under the previous law (the board would grow in size from five members to eight under the new bill).

    In addition to subverting fair election outcomes, the bill could lead to a huge decrease in voter access as well. Local election boards currently determine the number of early voting sites in a county, but if those boards deadlock under the new legislation there would only be one early voting location per county. That would dramatically limit the number of early voting sites in large urban counties that favor Democrats, leading to much longer lines at the polls. In 2020, for example, Wake County, home to Raleigh, had 20 early voting sites used by 374,000 voters, according to WRAL News. “There would only be one early voting location in counties with more than a million people,” says Price Kromm. “Can you imagine how long the lines would be?”

    […] That’s not all. The legislation could also lead to the ouster of the current executive director of the state board of elections, Karen Brinson Bell, who is widely respected but has been targeted by election deniers for extending the deadline for returning mail ballots during the pandemic. If the state board cannot come to an agreement on the board’s executive director by July 15, 2024, Republicans in the legislature would get to make the selection, allowing them to put in place someone who is more allied with the GOP just months before the 2024 election.

    The new legislation follows similar moves by the GOP in other battleground states that are designed to give election deniers and conspiracy theorists more influence over how elections are run.

    Last week, Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted to oust the nonpartisan administrator of the state’s elections commission. In May, the GOP-controlled Texas legislature voted to abolish the position of election administrator and give the GOP-appointed secretary of state the power to take over election operations exclusively in Houston’s Harris County, the most populous blue county in the state.

    North Carolina Republicans are pursuing a multi-pronged strategy of election subversion and voter suppression to gain an electoral advantage in the state, which Trump narrowly won and which in recent years has seen close statewide races for governor and US Senate. They also passed another bill in August that undercuts Election Day registration, gives voters less time to cast ballots by mail, and expands voter challenges. That legislation was inspired, at least in part, by conservative activist Cleta Mitchell, one of the architects of Trump’s effort to overturn the election, who consulted with North Carolina Republicans on its drafting.

    […] Cooper has promised to veto both bills, but the legislature is expected to override them. “This legislation has nothing to do with election security and everything to do with Republicans keeping and gaining power,” the governor said.

    Republicans have been trying to undermine fair elections in North Carolina for years.

    GOP attempts to gain more control over election boards were previously blocked by the state Supreme Court and soundly rejected by 61 percent of voters through a ballot referendum in 2018. Similarly, a law passed by North Carolina Republicans shortly after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act that limited ballot access by adding strict ID requirements, cutting early voting, and ending same-day registration was found by a federal court to target Black voters with “almost surgical precision.”

    But with conservatives now comprising a majority on the state Supreme Court and Republicans holding supermajorities in the legislature, they’re emboldened to go to nearly any length to cement their grip on power.

  151. says

    Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced on Friday that he will strip funding for Ukraine out of a Pentagon spending bill after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) joined conservatives in blocking the legislation from advancing earlier this week.

    […] “Our defense appropriations bill should never be going to fund a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, so this is a victory for common sense,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene later added. “I’m proud to have made it happen.” […]

  152. says

    Followup to comment 190.

    […] “Our country is being invaded by the thousands every damn day and our Department of Defense does nothing,” Marjorie Taylor Greene posted Thursday on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Our Defense bill should not fund our DOD for blood money for the Ukraine war, that’s why I’m a NO. What did we get out of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan?” […]


  153. Reginald Selkirk says

    @184: Clarence Thomas Secretly Participated in Koch Network Donor Events

    Well, he didn’t really ‘participate’, he was just there as Ginny Thomas’ plus-one.

  154. says

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

    Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is about to address the Canadian parliament, where he will plea for continued support for his country. He is on his first visit to Canada since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. [He’s speaking now. They’re liveblogging the content.]

    A Russian missile strike on civilian infrastructure in Kremenchuk in the central Poltava region of Ukraine killed one person and injured 15 others, governor Dmytro Lunin said on Friday on Telegram.

    The US president, Joe Biden, has told his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that the US will provide a small number of long-range missiles to help in Ukraine’s fight against Russia, NBC News was told on Friday.

    At least one Ukrainian missile struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea navy in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Friday, Russian-installed officials said…. Ukraine’s military confirmed it had attacked the Russian Black Sea fleet’s headquarters, but gave few details.

    Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, has said that Russia has restarted a campaign of aerial attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, according to AFP.

    Dmitri on Tafkat earlier:

    Worrying news from Crimea. Russian sources are saying that a missile hit the Black Sea fleet headquarters in Sevastopol, that is, in the city centre.

    This would not have happened if it wasn’t there to begin with.

  155. says

    George Monbiot in the Guardian – “We are being poisoned every day, so why do we keep voting for more pollution? Ask a lobbyist”:

    Thanks to the Pollution Paradox – the dirtiest industries have the greatest incentive to invest in politics, so politics comes to be dominated by the dirtiest industries – such lobbies exert a vast impact on political choice. If people were asked to vote on whether they want their hearts and lungs damaged, their children’s cognitive development impaired, extra cancers, more stillbirths, a higher risk of dementia and earlier death, they’d be likely to reject these options. But, thanks to decades of spin, the stark nature of the choice has been obscured.

    The interests of some of the most powerful industries on Earth are represented as the interests of the working man and woman, trying to go about their business while greens and bureaucrats impede them. In reality, those who drive for their living – such as taxi drivers, couriers and rubbish collectors – have the greatest exposure to toxic diesel fumes. We could achieve cheaper, more effective mobility with a fraction of the pollution. With the right incentives, we could also heat our homes without poisoning our neighbours.

    If you don’t have the evidence required to win an argument, there’s a ready alternative: set people against each other by stoking a culture war. Low emission zones and low-traffic neighbourhoods have been the subjects of grotesque falsehoods in the media, lurid conspiracy theories and dark money lobbying. As the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, pointed out this week, hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on troll farms on social media attacking London’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez). We don’t know where this money came from, but it may have been decisive in securing a Conservative win in the Uxbridge byelection.

    Emboldened by the apparent success of such lobbying, the government is waging war on public health, announcing a “review” of low-traffic neighbourhoods and scrapping the commitment to stop the sale of polluting private vehicles by 2030. Across both the billionaire press and social media, those who seek cleaner air are demonised. Tory MPs who have called for severe penalties against environmental protesters are noticeably more relaxed about the the vandalism of Ulez cameras. It scarcely gets more perverse.

    The Guardian’s mapping of air pollution in Europe (including the UK) tells a shocking story. Only 2% of people live in places where the pollution caused by PM2.5s – tiny particles that cause a wide range of diseases – is within the limits recommended by the World Health Organization. Most people, including millions in the UK, are exposed to toxic particles at concentrations of at least twice this level. You would have to move to northern Scotland to escape the daily assault on your health.

    Many rural people will be surprised to see how polluted their air is, but that’s because the media seldom mention the major source of these particles: ammonia from farms. A study by researchers at University College London found that even in cities, ammonia from farms produces more particulate pollution than the cities themselves do….

    Where there is public silence, lobbyists rule. The ammonia comes from livestock farms and the manure and fertiliser spread on fields. There are several ways of greatly reducing its release: storing manure in sealed tanks rather than open lagoons, injecting it into soil instead of spreading it, banning the use of urea as a fertiliser, reducing [or eliminating] the animal products we eat. According to a paper in the journal Science, cutting ammonia pollution is 10 times more cost-effective than cutting nitrous oxide pollution, another major cause of airborne particulates. Halving ammonia emissions, another analysis suggests, could save 3,000 lives in the UK every year. Reducing ammonia, according to Andrea Pozzer of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, is the “most effective way to reduce mortality linked to air pollution”.

    But the government, lobbied by the National Farmers’ Union, has thwarted all such efforts. In a submission to parliament, the NFU appeared to admit that the purpose of much manure spreading is to dump surplus slurry rather than to fertilise crops: it needs to happen because “the production or import of manures far outstrips the immediate need of accessible soil and crops”. This is the issue that blights our rivers as well as our air: livestock farms produce far more manure than the land can absorb. The lobby group went on to argue against a ban on autumn spreading, which causes the worst pollution, and against a ban on the use of urea, a potent source of ammonia. The government gave it everything it wanted.

    The European parliament has now voted to bring EU legislation in line with the science, setting the WHO’s recommended level as the legal limit for PM2.5 pollution, but, thanks to the lobbyists and their stooges, not until 2035. There are, however, no such plans in the UK. As one of the great benefits of Brexit, the government merely aims to change the current “guidance” level of PM2.5 pollution from four times the WHO recommendation to twice the recommended level by 2040. The dates 2040 and 2050 are used by this government as synonyms for “never”.

    The idea that some people may freely poison others is one of the most astonishing but least contested aspects of modern life. It’s time we saw past the lies and the culture wars. It’s time to stop accepting our daily poisoning on behalf of corporate profits.

  156. says

    Guardian – “China fuels global surge in mpox cases as LGBTQ+ stigma hampers response”:

    China is fuelling a global surge in mpox cases, accounting for the majority of new cases reported in September, according to the World Health Organization.

    The number of weekly cases reported globally increased by 328% in the week to 10 September, data shows. Most of that rise came from China, where more than 500 new cases were reported in August. The WHO said China was experiencing “sustained community transmission” of the virus, which was first detected as an imported case in September last year.

    In July, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported for the first time that the disease was spreading domestically, with 106 cases recorded in June. Since then cases have surged by nearly 400%, with the true number of infections thought to be much higher than the official count.

    The majority of mpox cases since 2022 have been in men who have sex with men and 92.5% of cases in August were among that demographic. But in recent years the pressure on LGBTQ+ activists in China has increased, limiting their ability to advocate and increasing the social stigmatisation of LGBTQ+ people.

    Experts believe that this could make people less likely to get tested. Vaccinations are not available in mainland China, although state media reported that a domestic vaccine is being developed. “Public health concerns are one of the only ways of discussing gay men in public discourse,” said Chuncheng Liu, a medical sociologist. “[But] you cannot rely on scaring people to come to you for help.”

    In August, several accounts on the messaging app WeChat dedicated to gay, trans and feminist issues were closed down without explanation. In May, the Beijing LGBT Center, one of China’s best known LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, closed down for undisclosed reasons. It had been one of the last active civil society groups after LGBT Rights Advocacy China, another influential NGO, closed in 2021.

    The closures had a “huge influence for the community”, said one LGBTQ+ activist, who left China in recent years because of pressure from the authorities, “because it says that the government is still trying to target them”.

    While the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been publishing reports about mpox, and there is uncensored information on social media about recognising symptoms, Liu noted that LGBTQ+ people might not be following those accounts. “The problem is not about information or about a specific message,” Liu said. It is about how to “circulate this message to the community”.

    A report published in September by Outright International, a New York-based LGBTQ+ rights organisation, said activists in China were “increasingly restricted” by the government. One anonymous activist said police had encouraged them to “just focus on providing services like HIV prevention and care”, while groups that mention the words “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer” are often refused official registration.

    Many LGBTQ+ groups started out with a focus on HIV/Aids awareness, making their case to the authorities on the grounds of public health rather than political rights.

    In the early 2010s, as HIV/Aids prevention and treatment became more established in China, support from international donors such as the Global Fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, started to dry up. And in 2016, Beijing passed a foreign NGO law that restricted the ability of domestic groups to work with foreign organisations or receive international funding.

  157. says

    Also in today’s Guardian:

    “South Africa launches ‘unprecedented’ investigation of Johnson & Johnson over TB drug prices”:

    Competition watchdog probes claims of profiteering by US drugmaker in country where tuberculosis is biggest killer…

    “Marine Le Pen should stand trial over alleged misuse of EU funds, say prosecutors”:

    Request comes after a seven-year investigation into French far-right leader’s party…

    “No rides, but lots of rows: ‘reactionary’ French theme park plots expansion”:

    Puy du Fou has built its success on swashbuckling re-enactment shows. Is it changing how French people think about history?…

    “‘You could fill a museum with it’: the $963m Roman Abramovich art collection revealed”:

    Leak suggests the oil and gas tycoon and his ex-wife Dasha Zhukova amassed one of the most significant collections of modern art in private hands…

  158. says

    Tendar on Tafkat:

    Amazing footage [same as @ #197 – totally amazing] of the Ukrainian missile hitting the Russian Black Sea Fleet HQ, today. The Russian air defense seems to be completely AWOL, destroyed or beyond capacity. Either way, we are witnessing how much sideways this war has gone for the Russian aggression.

  159. says

    Followup to comment 186.

    Aye, Fugheddaboutit.

    The Justice Department on Friday unveiled a multi-count indictment against Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, his wife, and three business associates on charges of being so comically corrupt that all jokes anywhere involving stereotypes about shady New Jersey politicians and Sopranos characters and sad middle-aged gold diggers whiling away their lives in McMansions in South Orange or wherever must now and forever vanish from the discourse. Just as soon as we get our shots in, anyway.

    Because hoo boy, is there comedy gold in this 39-page indictment. Exploiting your position as a powerful United States senator to do favors for a foreign government (Egypt in this case)? Check. A businessman giving a no-show job to the senator’s wife? Check. That same businessman buying you and your wife a $60,000 Mercedes, for which he handed over the down payment to the wife in a parking lot? Check. (Was it at the Bada Bing? Please let us find out it was the parking lot of the Bada Bing.) Well over half a million dollars in cash and gold bars salted away in a safe deposit box and around your house, including stuffed in the pockets of your suits?

    Check, check, and fucking check.

    One of the three businessman even allegedly has ties to the Genovese crime family, because like we said, this is the most New Jersey indictment ever. […]

    In short, Menendez agreed to keep doing favors for Egypt’s military so long as his wife got to wet her beak or get her taste or whatever the current parlance is for taking payoffs. […]

    More details at the link.

  160. says

    Office of Management and Budget to initiate process of preparing for a shutdown

    While the House and Senate remain far apart on a spending deal, the federal government will soon formally initiate the process of preparing for a potential shutdown, participating in the mandatory but standard process of releasing shutdown guidance to agencies ahead of the September 30 funding deadline.

    The standard procedure laying out the steps toward bringing non-essential government functions to a halt is about to get underway.

    “One week prior to the expiration of appropriations bills, regardless of whether the enactment of appropriations appears imminent, OMB will communicate with agency senior officials to remind agencies of their responsibilities to review and update orderly shutdown plans, and will share a draft communication template to notify employees of the status of appropriations,” reads a budget circular document from the Office of Management and Budget.

    With a potential shutdown just one week away, that communication will be sent to agencies Friday [today], OMB officials told CNN.

    Every department and agency has its own set of plans and procedures. Those plans include information on how many employees would get furloughed, which employees are essential and would work without pay (for example, air traffic controllers, Secret Service agents and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory staff), how long it would take to wind down operations in the hours before a shutdown and which activities would come to a halt.

    It’s not the first time the government has been on the brink of a shutdown. The government shut down for 35 days, a record length, from December 2018 to January 2019 amid a congressional stalemate over funding for then-President Donald Trump’s border wall. [Republicans shut themselves down.]

    The government also shut down for three days over a deadlock during the Trump administration in January 2018. And in 2013, then-President Barack Obama presided over a 16-day partial government shutdown caused by a dispute over the Affordable Care Act and other budget disagreements.

  161. says

    Ukraine Update: Russian state TV is in raptures over Republican response to Zelenskyy visit

    Putin Republicans were cool to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the Capitol, and it didn’t go unnoticed or uncelebrated on Russian state TV. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Sens. Ron Johnson and J.D. Vance all featured in a Russian report on Zelenskyy’s U.S. trip.

    “Zelenskyy asked for a joint session,” McCarthy is shown saying. “We just didn’t have time. He’s already given a joint session.” McCarthy got top billing as speaker, but his fellow Republicans shown in the clip were more inflammatory. Vance, it noted, has called for the U.S. to stop sending weapons to Ukraine “and finally focus on Taiwan,” […] [US already focuses on Taiwan]

    “We have Zelenskyy in town and he’s going around begging and pleading for the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars, and at the same time, we learn of the news that more money-laundering is happening in Ukraine,” Marjorie Taylor Greene is shown saying. “Ukraine is such a long, drawn-out war. They won’t win it. It needs to end, I’m calling for it to end.” [JFC!!!] And of course, the way for the war to end, in Greene’s view and that of Russian state television, is for Ukraine to quit fighting for its independence, not for Russia to stop its invasion. McCarthy is reportedly considering Greene’s demand—a separate vote on Ukraine aid rather than including it in the broader Pentagon spending bill. While such a bill would have majority support in both chambers, there are many ways the minority could procedurally sabotage the aid. [See also comments 190 and 191.]

    In the clip, Johnson—who in 2018 spent July 4 in Moscow—similarly complains that the war is going on too long and that Putin isn’t giving up, so the U.S. should stop funding Ukraine. After this, the Russian anchor brightly summarized, “Good signals from Washington!” The report then shifted to a Russian diplomat at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The diplomat unleashed a rant about Zelenskyy showing just what these Republicans are supporting.

    The U.S. and Western Europe, Maria Zakharova said,

    … took a barely literate person, whom they placed at the helm of Ukraine. They placed him at the Olympus, a barely literate, uneducated person, with substance dependency and wild ambitions. Not knowing history, having no knowledge in this area, he is totally obsessed with his own ambitions. Based on what his American advisors threw at him, he thinks he is the center of the universe, and since he was once used against Russia, now he is the Lord of the Rings.

    If a roach runs out to the middle of the kitchen, people see him and scream. This does not mean that the roach is almighty! No, it simply evokes a feeling of disgust! This is exactly the same story, you know? At some point, everyone yelled and made noise when they saw Zelenskyy in his dirty clothes, an outfit conjured up by U.S. intelligence services. They got excited, they invited him, but this moment is coming to an end!

    Saying that Zelenskyy is “barely literate, uneducated” is insulting and belittling. (For the record, Zelenskyy has a law degree and a past career as a successful film and television producer and actor.) Saying that he has substance dependency undermines his judgment and competence. But comparing him to a roach scuttling across the kitchen floor is another thing entirely.

    Dehumanizing rhetoric is a tactic with a long history, one that “has accompanied mass atrocities and conflict throughout history,” according to the organization Beyond Conflict. “Dehumanization removes the moral prohibition against violence, genocide, and systemic discrimination – thereby enabling them to occur.” The specific use of “roach” to describe Zelenskyy echoes how Rwanda’s Tutsi minority was labeled “cockroaches” in the run-up to the genocide there.

    That dehumanizing language and description of Zelenskyy as a clueless, drug-addled puppet of the U.S. tells the story, as do Russian actions like the alleged kidnapping of Ukrainian children. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not simply a war, as ugly and brutal as war is. And congressional Republicans are increasingly vocal about letting Putin have his genocidal way. [video at the link]

    Meanwhile, the GOP civil war has certainly extended to the Ukrainian question. Six Republican senators signed Vance’s letter against Ukraine assistance—Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Braun, Tommy Tuberville (of course), Mike Lee, and Roger Marshall—as did 22 House Republicans, many of whom are members of the Freedom Caucus. […] On the other side, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton, Roger Wicker, Susan Collins, and Lindsey Graham signed a letter demanding more aid for Ukraine, specifically ATACMS long-range missiles. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met with Zelenskyy alongside Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, in a bipartisan show of solidarity. [video at the link]

    And former Rep. Liz Cheney continues to infuriate the MAGA crowd by pointing out the obvious. [Tweet and image at the link] It’s been a long time since the mainstream Republican Party replaced Ronald Reagan with Donald Trump as their guiding deity. Ukraine has just put an exclamation point on it.
    The game of “The U.S. will send ATACMS missiles, no they won’t, yes they will, no they won’t” continues. “President Joe Biden has told his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that the United States will provide a small number of long-range missiles to aid the war with Russia, three U.S. officials and a congressional official familiar with the discussions told NBC News on Friday,” reported NBC News.

    Also, The Guardian reports that the 31 M1 Abrams tanks that the U.S. pledged to Ukraine are scheduled to arrive in Ukraine “next week,” giving Ukraine a nice offensive boost as they work to exploit breaches in Russia’s defensive lines in the south. Crews have been training for months in Germany, so they should be ready to hit the ground running.

    If history is any guide, this will hopefully be just the first delivery of many in the coming months and years.

  162. Reginald Selkirk says

    Howard Stern is woke

    But that was an old version of Howard Stern; the Howard Stern of 2023 is woke and proud. “I’ll tell you how I feel about it. To me the opposite of woke, is being asleep,” he said on his show this week (via Variety). And if woke means I can’t get behind Trump, which is what I think it means, or that I support people who want to be transgender or I’m for the vaccine, dude, call me woke as you fucking want.”

    Stern went on to praise access to updated COVID vaccines, adding, “This fucking country is so great… I am woke, motherfucker, and I love it. I want to be awake. I want to read legitimate news sources. Here’s how woke I am. I believe the election was not rigged. I am woke. I think that’s a compliment.” …

  163. says

    It looks increasingly like Tucker Carlson is going to have his own dubbed show on Russian state TV’s rolling news channel

    The same trailer as two weeks ago is now being shown on Rossiya 24 with the added caption of “at the weekend”
    “The high-profile American presenter is moving to another level. Here.”

    In a new ad, Russian state TV’s rolling news channel Rossiya 24 seems to say that Tucker Carlson has landed himself a new job there.

    Video and screen grab at the link.

    This is from the BBC:

    Russian TV news channel Rossiya 24 has aired a trailer for a weekend show featuring former Fox News journalist Tucker Carlson.

    The state-run broadcaster did not make clear whether it will feature original content or be a translation of his regular English-language videos on X.

    Carlson abruptly left Fox News in April where his populist conservative takes were renowned.

    Rossiya 24 has not yet said when the show will air.

  164. says

    […] A new analysis has found that mobilised Russians who have been sent to Ukraine have only survived, on average, for 4.5 months before being killed. One in five of the mobilised has not survived longer than eight weeks.

    3/[…] 20% were killed within two months, with the average mobik dying within 4.5 months. 0.2% lasted 11 months before they were killed.

    4/ Every tenth mobilised person who died was aged under 25, with half of the fatalities occurring between the ages of 30 and 45. Anton Getman from the Rostov region was the youngest at 19; he was mobilised three months after the end of his conscript service.

    5/ At the other end of the scale, 62-year-old Major Nikolai Isakov from the Tver region survived eight months in Ukraine. He was killed in Russia, in the Shebekinsky district of the Belgorod region, during the June 2023 incursion by the pro-Ukrainian Russian Volunteer Corps.

    Link. Scroll down at the link.

    So the four Russian officers killed by Azerbaijani forces yesterday after their car was shot included one Captain, one Lt. Colonel, and two Colonels.

    Reactions from Russians are obviously furious, recognising that nothing is being done about this by the Russian leadership.

    Russians exhibiting the usual slave-like behaviour despite being actually mad.

  165. says

    DeSantis vows to end federal funding of COVID-19 vaccines

    Say what you want about Republican presidential contender and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, but when it comes to keeping people alive through a pandemic that has claimed over 1 million American lives, the man has been nothing but consistent. He’s vowed not only to do absolutely nothing that might help, but also to make sure nobody else can do anything about it either.

    He’s at it again. In a new ABC News interview, DeSantis promises that if he’s elected president, he’ll end pandemic vaccine funding. That’s his promise: poof, no more COVID-19 vaccine funding. Because reasons. Whether that means DeSantis intends to end all federal funding of vaccine research or just target the ones specific to the current pandemic isn’t immediately clear. It would be strange for him to single out the vaccines we need most urgently for a new federal funding ban, but given that it’s DeSantis we’re talking about, maybe that’s exactly what he intends?

    Before we continue, we need to call out CNN here for some egregiously sloppy reporting. This needs some editing, big time.

    As some limited, local mask mandates have returned, DeSantis held a roundtable last week on the new Covid-19 shots from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, where his surgeon general recommended people under 65 against receiving them.

    DeSantis in the ABC interview doubled down on recent guidance from his state discouraging anyone under 65 from getting them, contradicting federal health officials’ recommendations.

    The governor said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot be trusted – a response that elicited a prolonged on-air clarification about the scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines from ABC anchor Linsey Davis.

    No, no, no. This is exactly what’s wrong with allegedly “political” reporting: the flat recitation of what DeSantis claims with no context on whether those claims are accurate, not even when it is of the utmost public interest to know whether he’s being truthful or lying. CNN dodges even the appearance of fact-checking here, opting instead for a weak both-sidesing reference to ABC having to “clarify” DeSantis’ claims, even as CNN lets them sail on by.

    Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, whom DeSantis appointed, is an infamous hoax-promoting anti-vaccine quack, one who engaged in scientific fraud to justify his claims of alleged vaccine dangers. The whole of Florida’s vaccine recommendations are scientifically fraudulent, not merely controversial. That’s already been established, and DeSantis and Ladapo are lying.

    […] DeSantis’ anti-vaccine fearmongering is estimated to have played a part in at least 16,000 pandemic deaths during the summer of 2021 alone, and Florida has the dubious distinction of having more of its residents die of COVID-19 after the vaccines became widely available than died beforehand. […]

  166. says

    The Biden administration is creating a new White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention as an effort to coordinate federal policy on guns, and if that also reminds people which party actually wants to do something to reduce gun violence with the 2024 election coming up, Biden won’t mind, either.

    Vice President Kamala Harris will oversee the office as part of her portfolio of executive branch duties, and the office’s director will be Stephanie Feldman, a longtime gun policy wonk and Biden adviser who, following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, helped then-VP Biden develop policies and legislative proposals aimed at reducing gun violence.

    […] Biden announced the new office this morning with a Tweet that says what most Americans have been thinking for a long time now: “Because thoughts and prayers are not enough […]”

    What’s needed more than anything is of course for enough Americans to become angry and sick enough of all the killing and maiming that they’ll finally vote in a Congress willing to do more than nibble around the edges of the gun problem — and of course for electoral politics more widely to make it possible to replace the current Supreme Court, which consists of three Democrats and six AR-16s that hide in human form most of the time.

    That said, It does feel like the increased activism among young people since Parkland … and Uvalde … and El Paso … — and all of the other human sacrifices on the altar of the Second Amendment — signals the start of a long term change. It doesn’t feel quite so much like the NRA has a monolithic veto against all progress on guns. We’re gonna go with hope, because the alternative is unthinkable.

    President Biden and Vice President Harris will hold a Rose Garden event to announce the new office [video available at the link]

  167. says

    UAW widens strike against GM and Stellantis but not Ford.

    Washington Post link

    Union President Shawn Fain said the UAW is broadening its strike to 38 warehouses in 20 states over lack of progress in contract talks.

    The United Auto Workers on Friday widened its strike against General Motors and Jeep-maker Stellantis out of frustration over contract talks but did not target more Ford locations because it said negotiations with the company are progressing.

    The union said it walked out of 38 GM and Stellantis parts distribution centers in 20 states just after noon. UAW President Shawn Fain said the aim is to “shut down parts distribution until those two companies come to their senses and come to the table with a serious offer.”

    The warehouses send parts to dealerships and others for vehicle repairs. The UAW shared videos on social media of newly striking workers chanting “No pay, no parts!”

    Speaking alongside striking workers at a Stellantis warehouse in Center Line, Mich., Fain said the distribution centers “generate a lot of profits, especially for Stellantis.”

    Fain said the union will not widen the strike against Ford for now because Ford has made further concessions and negotiations are progressing. He said Ford had agreed to reinstate cost-of-living adjustments to wages and offer new protections against plant closures.

    The union is continuing its current strike against one Ford factory in Michigan, however. […]

  168. says

    Federal officials promised the new covid shot would be free and covered by insurance, but some Americans have encountered a different reality this week as they tried to get vaccinated, only to be denied coverage or charged up to $200.

    They have faced myriad complications, from pharmacies being out of network, to the vaccine not showing up on lists of approved medical expenses, to needing prior authorization. Some Americans paid out of pocket to avoid waiting. Others say they weren’t even given that option.

    The hiccups reflect a new reality for covid vaccines as they go from being treated as a public good to a commercial product. Now that the federal government is no longer buying and distributing all the shots, Americans must endure the usual headaches of dealing with insurance companies and a for-profit health care system.

    […] Eric Allix Rogers forked over the $155.99 for the updated vaccine even though his Chicago pharmacy called ahead of his Monday appointment offering to reschedule because an insurance check showed the shot wasn’t covered by his Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois HMO plan. He had a bad case of covid in 2021 before he could get vaccinated and does not want to risk another infection when he travels to Minneapolis next week for a large work event.

    “We are being told we have to transition to treating covid as a routine matter and yet the people responsible for medical care have not figured out how to treat it as a routine matter,” said Rogers, 38. “This shouldn’t have been complicated.”

    A spokesman for Rogers’s insurer said members can get free vaccines at in-network pharmacies and can call customer service if they face challenges. It’s not clear how many people like Rogers have encountered trouble getting vaccinated, but social media outlets are flush with similar stories, and federal officials, insurers and pharmacy chains have acknowledged these are not isolated incidents. […]

    Washington Post link

  169. Reginald Selkirk says

    It’s a kayak with a grenade launcher. And it could be game-changer in Ukraine.

    In a quiet bay of the Dnipro River, a one-hour drive from Kyiv, a group of Ukrainian engineers and special forces soldiers tested what they believe can be a game-changer in the Ukrainian counteroffensive: the Poloz-M16 combat kayak.

    What otherwise looks like the familiar watercraft has been redesigned for special military purposes – in the Kherson region, for example, where the front line parallels the wide Dnipro, with multiple islands between its banks…

    “Poloz-M16 is similar to what the American and British soldiers have been using, but it’s ten times cheaper, around 2,500 dollars per item,” Ostaschenko explained to ABC News…

  170. Reginald Selkirk says

    Dallas mayor switches parties, making the city the nation’s largest with a GOP mayor

    Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced Friday that he is switching to the Republican Party, making the city the largest in the U.S. to be led by a GOP mayor.

    Although mayoral offices in Texas are nonpartisan, the switch is a boost for Texas Republicans who have been losing ground around the state’s major cities for more than a decade. Johnson was elected mayor in 2019 after serving more than a decade as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives.

    Making the announcement in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Johnson said he was never a favorite of Democrats in the Capitol and called on mayors to champion “law and order” and fiscal conservatism…

    Hoo boy, is he out of tune. Republicans these days are not about law and order and fiscal conservatism.

  171. Reginald Selkirk says

    “Not even in the ballpark”: Judge dismisses three “obviously unqualified” Kari Lake witnesses

    A Maricopa County, Arizona judge on Thursday rejected three of Kari Lake’s witnesses and their testimonies at the Republican’s third trial related to her 2022 defeat in Arizona’s gubernatorial race.

    As RawStory reports, Lake’s latest lawsuit’s trial kicked off with a Thursday hearing, for which her attorney, Brian Blehm, sought to have the state release ballot envelopes signed by about 1.3 million early voters.

    Superior Court Judge John Hannah, however, shook up those plans when he deemed two of Lake’s witnesses — Erich Speckin, a forensic document analyst, and Chris Handsel, a software consultant — irrelevant to the trial. He then homed in on witness Shelby Busch, a participant in the Cyber Ninjas computer security firm’s voting audit, whom Hannah singled out as an especially irrelevant witness.

    “On this one, I’m inclined to go a step further because she’s so obviously — she’s a medical office manager,” Hannah said. “I mean, she’s so obviously unqualified that I kind of find a need to make a finding about that, as well as that her testimony is irrelevant. I mean, she’s not even in the ballpark.” Though Blehm countered that Busch had a lot of experience “under her belt as someone who does investigations into elections,” including her work with the now-defunct Cyber Ninjas, Hannah was not impressed. He swiftly granted the motion to exclude Busch from the batch…

  172. Reginald Selkirk says

    Consciousness theory slammed as ‘pseudoscience’ — sparking uproar

    A letter, signed by 124 scholars and posted online last week, has caused an uproar in the consciousness-research community. It argues that a prominent theory describing what makes someone or something conscious — called the integrated information theory (IIT) — should be labelled as pseudoscience. Since its publication on 15 September in the preprint repository PsyArXiv, the letter has resulted in some researchers arguing over the label and others worrying that it will increase polarization in a field that has grappled with issues of credibility in the past…

  173. says

    President Joe Biden:

    Tuesday, I’ll go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create. It’s time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs.

  174. says


    The Biden administration is not violating any federal law by allowing acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to serve indefinitely despite her stalled Senate nomination, according to a Government Accountability Office report issued Thursday.

  175. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 191

    What did we get out of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan?

    Oh, you mean the wars YOUR side of the political spectrum demanded to fight “godless communism” and “Islamic terrorism?”

  176. Reginald Selkirk says

    More blasts rock Sevastopol, smoke billows from oil depot near Russian Black Sea Fleet base

    Explosions once again rocked Ukraine’s Russian-occupied city of Sevastopol in Crimea on Sept. 23, with residents reporting the sound of a missile flying overhead and a column of smoke seen rising over the city, the Telegram channel Crimean Wind has reported.

    The column of smoke was seen rising in the Inkerman area, presumably, after the missile struck there. There is an oil depot of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the area.

    A missile was also reported to have been seen flying at an altitude of 30 meters.

    Following the explosion, the city’s occupation administration closed Sevastopol Bay to marine traffic…

  177. Reginald Selkirk says

    Oklahoma judge arrested in Texas capital, accused of shooting parked cars and causing collision

    An Oklahoma judge was arrested in Austin, Texas, last week after authorities say he opened fire on parked vehicles while out driving, striking at least one of them, and intentionally crashed into a woman’s vehicle, telling officers later that she had cut him off.

    Brian Lovell, an associate district judge in Garfield County, Oklahoma, was arrested Sept. 11 on a misdemeanor count of reckless driving. A felony count of engaging in deadly conduct with a firearm was forwarded to a grand jury for consideration…

  178. says

    The Rapture Didn’t Happen Yesterday!

    Happy weekend!

    If you were paying attention to social media at all yesterday, then you probably know that the rapture was supposed to happen yesterday and it didn’t. Probably a lot of people are disappointed that they didn’t get vacuumed up into heaven, or because those they don’t especially care for didn’t get vacuumed up into heaven.

    This, I believe, is the 70 billionth rapture/apocalypse that didn’t happen. Surely, they’ll get it right someday.

    In commemoration of the 70 billionth apocalypse, your present this week is a video of a Jack Chick comic that lives rent free inside my brain. [Video “The Beast” is available at the link]

    The part I think about constantly is this part where all of the bad post-Rapture people are going around beheading the good post-Rapture people who refuse to say they hate Jesus, so that those people then have a chance to get into heaven afterwards. Because “martyrdom is now the price of salvation.” [pages 12 and 13 from the comic]

    Personally, I find this to be an incredible imposition. I faint at the sight of blood, am relatively lazy and don’t actually care what people believe so long as they’re not bothering anyone, so I really, really don’t want to have to drive a guillotine-mobile around beheading people so they can get into heaven. That’s rude. If they want their heads chopped off, they can do that themselves.

    Again, I don’t care what people believe so long as they are not bothering me about it, and this bothers me. It is an inconvenience. Don’t they think I have better things to do? That we all, perhaps, have better things to do?

    It’s like with the Satanic cults they’re so obsessed with that don’t really exist the way they think they exist. I have zero interest in eating a baby. I wouldn’t even eat a boar taco (or something to that effect) recently because I am a recovering picky eater and it is a bridge too far for me. I also do not believe in Satan. If Christians want people to believe in Satan and eat babies, they can also do that themselves. Though they will end up in prison for doing that, because contrary to Republican opinion it is definitely illegal to kill newborn babies, whether you eat them or not.

  179. says

    Northern lights activity is sky-high, and scientists say more is yet to come

    An increase in space weather could lead to the greatest display of the northern lights in the past two decades.

    Every glimmer of the northern lights begins as a spot on the sun’s surface. And if increased solar activity is any indication, the next year and a half will be filled with glimmers.

    Sunspot observations, a key indicator of the likelihood of northern lights, have increased dramatically since the end of 2022, surpassing recent forecasts and in some cases increasing the area the phenomenon is visible from. Scientists say that if the trend continues, the next 18 months will bring the strongest northern lights activity of both the coming decade and the past 20 years, with the show being viewable more often and from more places on Earth.

    “Skywatchers are excited,” said Mark Miesch, a research scientist at the University of Colorado – Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    The Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, an international scientific group sponsored by NASA and NOAA that forecasts sunspot activity, forecast in 2019 that the coming year would be below-average, with around 110 to 115 sunspots at its peak. But updated models from multiple scientists show the increase in solar activity could be much higher. [Graph at the link]

    Solar activity is expected to steadily increase until fall 2024, when the likelihood of aurora borealis, also known as northern lights, is highest, Miesch said.

    Sunspots — dark, lower temperature, strongly magnetic regions on the sun’s surface — create space weather when magnetic distortions hurl particles into space. This activity, called a coronal mass ejection, sends particles more than 94 million miles until they find vulnerabilities in the Earth’s magnetic field, where particles collide with the planet’s atmosphere and create the neon colors that fill the sky. [illustration at the link]

    The northern lights are most visible near the North and South poles, where the Earth’s magnetic field is weakest. But the additional solar activity has already increased the range the lights can be spotted from this year: The northern lights could be seen as far south as Minnesota and Wisconsin on Monday night, and the Arizona Daily Star reported that northern lights were seen in the state in April.

    Space weather isn’t the only factor: Autumnal and spring equinoxes lead to greater disruptions in the Earth’s magnetic field, Miesch said. This is because the orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field points its vulnerable part toward the sun, which allows space particles easier access to the Earth’s atmosphere. […]

  180. says

    Angelo Carusone, President & CEO of Media Matters for America, issued this statement following reports that Rupert Murdoch is retiring from the boards of Fox Corp. and News Corp. and will be replaced by his son Lachlan Murdoch:

    Rupert Murdoch’s legacy is one of deceit, destruction, and death.

    Wherever his media properties exist across the globe, they disregard basic journalistic practices and pump venomous misinformation into the public discourse.

    In Fox News, Murdoch created a uniquely destructive force in American democracy and public life, one that ushered in an era of division where racist and post-truth politics thrive.

    Rupert Murdoch’s media properties helped reshape the Republican Party into a Trumpist authoritarian death cult.

    Rupert Murdoch allowed Fox News to fuel the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, letting his stars intentionally and knowingly lie to undermine our democratic elections.

    Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets, especially Fox News, spread dangerous medical misinformation that not only worsened the global pandemic but also resulted in countless needless deaths — including those of many of the network’s own viewers.

    Given the unparalleled global scale of his media footprint, no one on the planet has done more to spread lies denying climate change and undermine efforts to address the crisis than Rupert Murdoch.

    The world is worse off because of Rupert Murdoch. No one should sugarcoat the damage he caused. Making matters worse, his parting act — handing the reins to Lachlan Murdoch — is akin to tossing a match onto the kindling he stacked.

    Lachlan certainly is a less competent leader than his father, but his worldview is considerably more brutal. His leadership will likely just intensify the misconduct, misinformation, and malevolence that have come to define Murdoch media.

    Since its founding in 2004, Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media watchdog, has been the leading force in countering Fox News’ right-wing misinformation and GOP propaganda, including naming Lachlan Murdoch and Fox Corp. among its Misinformers of the Year. Here are 400+ moments that have defined Fox News and the Murdochs’ legacy.


  181. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine used US-provided Strykers to break through a key Russian defensive line littered with minefields and trenches

    Ukrainian officials said they’ve broken through a key line of Russian defense in the country’s southeast thanks in part to US-provided armored vehicles.

    Ukrainian forces broke through the Surovikin Line, a series of Russian defenses littered with anti-vehicle spikes and minefields, a commanding officer told The Washington Post. Ukraine first sent these US-supplied vehicles — called Strykers — into battle last month in the southern Zaporizhzhia Region…

  182. tomh says

    Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks
    Naomi Nix, Cat Zakrzewski and Joseph Menn / September 23, 2023

    Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.

    The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoods but also the quality of medical information online.

    Facing litigation, Stanford University officials are discussing how they can continue tracking election-related misinformation through the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a prominent consortium that flagged social media conspiracies about voting in 2020 and 2022, several participants told The Washington Post. The coalition of disinformation researchers may shrink and also may stop communicating with X and Facebook about their findings.

    The National Institutes of Health froze a $150 million program intended to advance the communication of medical information, citing regulatory and legal threats. Physicians told The Post that they had planned to use the grants to fund projects on noncontroversial topics such as nutritional guidelines and not just politically charged issues such as vaccinations that have been the focus of the conservative allegations.

    NIH officials sent a memo in July to some employees, warning them not to flag misleading social media posts to tech companies and to limit their communication with the public to answering medical questions.

    “If the question relates in any way to misinformation or disinformation, please do not respond,” read the guidance email, sent in July after a Louisiana judge blocked many federal agencies from communicating with social media companies….

    “In the name of protecting free speech, the scientific community is not allowed to speak,” said Dean Schillinger, a health communication scientist who planned to apply to the NIH program to collaborate with a Tagalog-language newspaper to share accurate health information with Filipinos. “Science is being halted in its tracks.”

    Academics and government scientists say the campaign also is successfully throttling the years-long effort to study online falsehoods, which grew after Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election caught both social media sites and politicians unaware.

    Conservatives have long complained that social media platforms stifle their views, but the efforts to limit moderation have intensified in the past year.

    The most high-profile effort, a lawsuit known as Missouri v. Biden, is now before the Supreme Court, where the Biden administration seeks to have the high court block a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that found the White House, FBI and top federal health officials likely violated the First Amendment by improperly influencing tech companies’ decisions to remove or suppress posts on the coronavirus and elections. That ruling was narrower than a district court’s finding that also barred government officials from working with academic groups, including the Stanford Internet Observatory. But the Biden Justice Department argues the injunction still contradicts certain First Amendment principles, including that the president is entitled to use his bully pulpit to persuade American companies “to act in ways that the President believes would advance the public interest.”…

    Jordan has issued subpoenas and demands for researchers’ communications with the government and social media platforms as part of a larger congressional probe into the Biden administration’s alleged collusion with Big Tech.

    Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) in a statement said the federal government “silenced” information because “it didn’t fit their narrative.”

    “Missouri v. Biden is the most important First Amendment case in a generation, which is why we’re taking it to the nation’s highest court,” he said.

    NIH and other public health agencies have also sought to limit their employees’ communications with social media platforms amid the litigation, according to internal agency emails viewed by The Post that were sent in July after a Louisiana judge blocked many federal agencies from communicating with social media companies.

    In one instance, an NIH communications official told some employees not to flag misleading social media posts to tech companies — even if they impersonated government health officials or encouraged self-harm, according to a July email viewed by The Post. The employees were told they could not respond to questions about a disease area or clinical trial if it did “relate in any way to misinformation or disinformation.”

  183. says

    Ukraine Update: Russia was unprepared for a modern artillery war

    Everybody knows the Western movie trope: two gunmen on either side of a dusty road with cowboy hats, tumbleweed rolling between them. Both reach for their guns at the same time, but one is faster, and the other’s dead.

    On a fundamental level, warfare with guns is brutally simple: The one who shoots the fastest and most accurately wins. The other dies.

    But artillery upends that trope.

    War can be simply encapsulated in the theoretical concept of the “kill chain.”

    In its most simplistic conception, the kill chain can be reduced to just three key elements:
    – Identification;
    – Tracking/Deployment; and
    – Engagement.

    Identification means finding where your enemy is located. Tracking means following your enemy’s movement until force can be brought against it, while you deploy your forces into a position where they can launch an attack. Engagement is the act of attempting to destroy the enemy target.

    A gunman in a Western movie has a very simple kill chain. See the villain across the street. Watch his movements. Draw and shoot. The kill chain is completed when the target is neutralized.

    There are two ways to disrupt the enemy’s kill chain.

    First, you can “break” the kill chain by preventing the completion of any of the steps. Avoid detection in the first place, and the enemy cannot get started. If you are found, evasion, armor protection, electronic and physical countermeasures can also break the kill chain.

    Second, you can complete your own kill chain before the enemy can complete theirs—like a gunman drawing his revolver faster, and gunning down his opponent.

    The kill chain concept explains why the Russian forces are at such a severe disadvantage in the artillery war with Ukraine.


    Modern Russian artillery doctrine grew from Soviet artillery doctrine. And Soviet artillery doctrine philosophically dates back to the very roots of its formation, in the last days of World War One.

    The Red Army’s lessons from WWI were fundamentally different from the Germans’ blitzkrieg concepts later adopted by Western military forces. Instead of concentrating mass at a single point to achieve a breakthrough utilizing mobility, Soviet doctrine was built out of concepts known as “Deep Battle” and “Deep Operation.”

    “Deep Battle” meant engaging the enemy deep behind their front lines using artillery, and challenging their entire operational front. Meanwhile, front line positions would engage the enemy fluidly, while maintaining a static battle line as the artillery attrited the enemy’s rear positions.

    Then, a massive concentrated mechanized armor force would punch through weakened enemy lines. That was the “Deep Operation.”

    Deep Battle-Deep Operation doctrine necessitated massive armored formations, and conceived of movement in terms of corps- and division-sized operational units—numbering in the tens of thousands of soldiers.

    In the 1950s, atomic weapons and increased overall firepower of artillery, rocket artillery, and air forces rendered the massive armored concentrations obsolete. Recognizing that, the Zhukov Reforms adjusted Russian doctrine toward smaller operational units, while attempting to maintain the goals of the “Deep Battle”—that is, to degrade the enemy force at depth.

    The question for Soviet planners then became: How could they effectively engage Western armies with superior air power, without using large concentrations of forces that could be easily targeted and destroyed? Their answer, adopted in the 1970s and 1980s, was what became known as the “nonlinear warfare” concept.

    Maintenance of large division- and corps-sized formations and coordination was deemphasized. Divisions, corps, and combined arms armies would still maintain a semblance of control and coordination over the front line tactical units through the control of operational and strategic reserve forces. When and where to devote elite mechanized reserve forces remained an important consideration, both offensively and defensively.

    But while principle firepower—namely tube and rocket artillery—were controlled at the division and corps levels, artillery command was increasingly decentralized. A corps (25,000+ troops) or division (10,000+) no longer shared an artillery command; by the 1980s the battalion (800-1,000) became the tactical unit of choice.

    In the new nonlinear doctrine of deployment, Russian battalions were no longer expected to maintain a linear defensive position in cooperation with other elements of their division or corps. Each battalion was expected to protect its own flanks, maintain its own logistics, and thus had its own full contingents of anti-air forces, armor, mechanized infantry and artillery.

    This was a concept known as “tactical independence,” and evolved in the Battalion Tactical Group concept (known as BTG) adopted by the Russian army in the decade prior to the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which you might remember from early last year. Russia had largely abandoned the BTG concept as an organizational model by late 2022.

    However, while Russia has distributed new manuals and tactics aimed at changing their doctrinal modes of warfare, the extent to which any tactical reform has taken place remains on an ad hoc basis, due to lack of training. In particular, the artillery of Russia has continued to operate much the same way—that is, decentralized.

    As a matter of standard operational practice, Russian units attach artillery battalions to heavily engaged individual battalions at the front lines. This means that the “attached” artillery unit takes commands directly from the frontline battalion commander.

    Attaching BTG battalions to frontline units permits commanders to more easily access coordinated artillery firepower on queue. This reduces the need for commanders to coordinate and share artillery assists with each other, reducing the need for secure and reliable communications—a weakness of Russian military equipment. RUSI has noted that insufficient and poor-quality radios are an endemic problem for the Russian military.

    Furthermore, before Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russian military doctrine placed these Russian artillery units extremely physically close to the front lines—just 2km from the line of contact.

    This both maximized the range and depth of firepower that Russian artillery units could bring against reward enemy targets (“Deep Battle”), and allowed close coordination with frontline forces, by sheer proximity.

    Russia was able to deploy artillery this close to the frontlines because of their reliance on overwhelming firepower to overcome enemy counter battery firepower, and through a faster kill chain than enemy artillery.


    Russia devoted a great deal of effort to accelerating its artillery kill chain, to establish and maintain an overwhelming artillery advantage.

    It developed a variety of reconnaissance UAVs such as the Orlan-10, and numerous counter battery radars like the Zoopark-1M, to more quickly identify targets.

    Russian doctrine sought to minimize the tracking/deployment phase of the kill chain, by positioning its artillery units almost right behind the front lines, just 2km behind the front line units.

    In early 2022, well-trained Russian artillery crews could regularly bring Russian artillery firepower to bear on targets in as little as three minutes, obtaining target data from multiple sources (anti-battery radar, UAV reconnaissance, or auditory triangulation).

    Finally, Russian artillery aimed to achieve effective engagement through either precision munitions or “weight of fires.”

    Their primary precision-guided munition was the Krasnopol guided artillery shell, a laser-guided munition that could theoretically target Ukrainian artillery armored targets effectively.

    However, the Krasnopol’s guidance systems performed erratically and inconsistently. Low hanging cloud cover, certain terrain disruptions, and electronic warfare can severely disrupt the Krasnopol’s accuracy. Furthermore, the Russian munitions industry failed to provide the Krasnopol in sufficient quantities to provide a decisive effect in 2022.

    Thus, Russian artillery units predominantly relied on the classic solution to this problem: weight of fire. That is, Russia relied on the quantity of shells to make up for a lack of precision strike capability. Russian artillery might not be able to narrowly hit a target with an individual shot, but if they drop enough shells in an area, the chances of hitting the targets increased.

    For example, if a 12-gun Russian battery of self-propelled howitzers targets its 12-gun enemy counterpart with 600 rounds within 15-20 minutes, the odds are good at least one of those rounds will hit something. That’s how you end up with moonscapes like this one, around Dovhen’ke. [photo at the link]

    Russian howitzers cannot fire more than three rounds per minute without doing harm to their barrel longevity and accuracy; thus that 600-round target requires a 12-gun Russian battery to remain in place firing continuously—for a full 15 minutes.

    Russians anticipated fighting classic “artillery duels” where opposing gun batteries would spend 10-20 minutes exchanging fire, until one side was destroyed or forced to relocate. Russian planners were confident that the sheer weight (quantity) of fire from Russian artillery units would make up for any precision munitions by the enemy, maintaining Russian superiority.

    With sufficient ammunition, sufficient number of guns, sufficiently trained crews, sufficient reconnaissance and counterbattery radar assets, the Russian army could bring a fearsome amount of firepower down on Uranian positions. That’s why Ukraine’s first request of its Western partners was artillery, and that’s why American M777 howitzers were the first heavy Western system delivered. Few observers would dispute the idea that Russian artillery maintained a significant advantage over their Ukrainian counterparts on most engagements, and at some points, Ukraine pegged the disparity at 10:1, with Russia firing up to 50,000 shells per day.


    However, beginning in the summer of 2022, then more rapidly in 2023, this Russian advantage began to disappear. By this summer, at the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Russian observers were warning of a “genocide” of Russian artillery units.

    Oryx tracking of publicly available losses of both sides of the conflict began to show a massive disparity in artillery losses. Whereas earlier in the war, artillery losses remained largely even, by this summer, Ukraine was losing only a single artillery gun for every three to four Russian losses.

    What changed?

    First, and arguably one of the most important Ukrainian tactical innovations was to disperse its artillery assets. Placing a 12-gun battery in close proximity to each other would obviously make such coordinated and choreographed fire sequences simpler for a battery commander to execute. The first three to four minutes in a barrage are considered crucial, as they represent a golden opportunity to strike an unready enemy target, before crews have a chance to take cover, or even drive away.

    However, Ukrainian batteries tend to operate in much smaller groups, choosing to disperse their artillery assets over a broad area. So to coordinate, they employ radio communications and more sophisticated electronic tools to coordinate their fires, while maintaining dispersion.

    As such, rather than target fields with 12 Ukrainian guns with a decent chance of scoring kills, Russian artillery units have struggled to bring sufficient weight of fire on dispersed Ukrainian artillery. Instead of a single locale, Russian batteries may be forced to divide their attention among six, eight, or 10 separate targets. Saturating their vicinity with sufficient shells to obtain a hit would quickly drain Russian ammunition, thus Russian batteries are forced to shorten their barrages. This significantly reduces the effectiveness of Russian counterbattery fire.

    Second, particularly across the southern front, where the fighting has been heaviest, Ukraine has increasingly moved from relying on towed artillery, like the American M777 howitzer, to relying on self-propelled howitzers like the M109 Paladin. [images at the link]

    Towed artillery requires several minutes to pack up and hitch to its towing vehicle, leaving the crew vulnerable to counterbattery fire. Western self-propelled guns like the M109 Paladin can stop, fire several rounds, and then be ready to move again in under two minutes.

    By continuously staying on the move and not relying on long barrages of stationary and sustained artillery fire, Ukrainian artillery batteries remain elusive and difficult to target with conventional counter battery fire. The sustained “artillery duel” Russia planned for has simply ceased to exist. Artillery crews of both sides now consider lengthy stationary artillery positions to be impossible to survive. Dispersion and positional fluidity are the new norms.

    In essence, Ukrainian artillery breaks Russia’s kill chain by relocating before Russian artillery are prepared to engage. Ukrainian artillery have not similarly suffered for two reasons: precision munitions and DPICM shells (also known as cluster munitions).

    Precision munitions radically reduce Ukraine’s need for “deployment” and “engagement” as part of its kill chain, providing a decisive advantage.

    Precision munitions, like the 155mm Excalibur GPS guided shell, have a range of 50km, allowing Ukrainian guns to theoretically operate deep behind friendly lines, well outside the 20-25km range of Russian artillery. However, Ukraine is so confident in its ability to avoid Russian counterbattery fire, it chose to operate as close as 10km from the frontlines. allowing leaders to strike even deeper behind enemy lines if they so choose.

    And of course, Ukraine frequently uses GMLRS rocket artillery’s 70km range to destroy Russian guns. Those rockets, launched from either HIMARS or M270 launchers, so badly outrange Russian weaponry that Ukraine has yet to lose a single confirmed launcher—despite being in theater since last June, over a year ago, and being one of Russia’s highest priority targets.

    It is impossible for a Russian artillery gun to open fire without being in range of Ukrainian guns.

    Furthermore, while Russian artillery must generally sustain a barrage for several minutes to bring sufficient weight of firepower on a target to destroy it (recall the moonscape picture shared above), Ukrainian artillery can quickly and effectively respond with small numbers of guided munitions to take out their opposing counterparts with ruthless accuracy. Not only are these strikes more precise (and require fewer shells), the engagement phase is merely the time to load and fire a single precision round—as little as 15-20 seconds.

    As if things weren’t bad enough for Russia, the arrival of cluster munitions has made things even worse. Ukrainian artillery are making nearly constant use of cluster munitions shells against Russian soft targets (trucks, troops, trenches, anything without armor or concrete). A RUSI analysis showed that U.S. conventional shells required 13.6 rounds to obtain a hit, but a DPICM cluster munition—which scatters grenade-like bomblets over a wide area—could strike a target every 1.7 shells.

    Thanks to the wide area of effect, a Ukrainian howitzer does not need to remain stationary for an extended period, firing 10-15 shells at a target to destroy it. It can stop, fire two DPICM cluster rounds, then relocate. And there are millions of those rounds in U.S. stocks.

    The same way that precision munitions reduce the engagement time for Ukrainian artillery, DPICM shells improve both the deadliness of Ukrainian artillery, as well as reduce Russian opportunities for counterbattery fire.

    Furthermore, improvements in Ukrainian counterbattery radar equipment have made their identification portion of the kill chain faster, and sustained targeting of Russian counter battery radar assets have degraded Russians’ ability to identify Ukrainian artillery assets in turn. Drones have further changed the game, both in identifying targets, and in striking them.


    The net effect of these developments has been a major Ukrainian advantage in the artillery war.

    Massive losses have forced a change in how Russia uses its artillery guns. Whereas pre-war doctrine placed brigade artillery assets 4km from the front, Russian artillery units now hide 15-20km behind the frontlines, advancing only for brief periods to conduct fire missions.

    While this may improved the survivability of those Russian guns, their continued communication problems mean that Russian units on the contact line suffer from poorly timed and coordinated fire support.

    It is now Ukrainian artillery that operate close to the frontlines with impunity, and Russian batteries that have largely been forced back to a safer distance. [photo at the link]

    Russian batteries are struggling to provide sufficient weight of fire on Ukrainian guns due to ammunition issues, leading Russian strongman Vladimir Putin to beg North Korea for artillery supplies, an international humiliation. Recent reports claim that Russia will double its annual production of artillery shells to 2 million, which sounds impressive—until you do some math and realize that amounts to less than 5,500 shells per day. It’s a pittance, given Russia’s doctrinal needs.

    RUSI noted an increasing and overwhelming reliance on Russian loitering munitions like the Lancet drones for a counterbattery role. In fact, drones have become one of the only ways left for Russia to fight back in the artillery war.

    Still, Lancet drones and other loitering munitions are susceptible to electronic warfare countermeasures, or short-range air defenses like the Gephardt or the Viktor SHORAD system, providing inexpensive anti-drone firepower to protect key artillery assets. “Cope cages” made of chain-link can actually protect from much drone damage. And even when they hit, the smaller warheads mean that the chances of outright destroying the gun are far lower. Damaged systems can be towed to the rear and repaired.

    Nonetheless, due to doctrinal shortcomings that have left Russia unprepared for this highly disperse, highly mobile artillery battlefield in Ukraine, Russian artillery commanders have been left with fewer and fewer effective alternatives in 2023.

    A further problem for Russia is its loss of experienced artillery crews and battery commanders to counterbattery fire. Oryx has recorded over 1,000 lost Russian towed, self-propelled, and rocket artillery systems. And these are almost assuredly severely undercounted, as destroyed artillery guns aren’t as visible as frontline armor.

    As such, it is fair to say that Russia has already lost thousands of trained artillery crews and officers. And given the poor to nonexistent training policies of the Russian army, it’s entirely doubtful that the artillery crews are being replaced with anything but inexperienced and poorly trained personnel, which may help explain friendly fire incidents such as this one: [Tweet and video at the link, Russian artillery firing at their own positions. The video has English subtitles, and you can also hear the desperation in the voices of the Russians trying to get their own artillery to stop firing at them.]

    Or this incident. Or this incident, or this incident. [Embedded links available at the main link]

    These types of friendly fire incidents provide some of the most dramatic examples of poor Russian coordination and training, but ineffective fires or instances of poorly coordinated support likely represent a far more common form of Russian training issues in artillery.

    Furthermore, there are persistent reports of Russian artillerymen being repurposed as cannon fodder infantry for commanders desperate to hold ground in the face of Ukrainian advances.

    As Ukraine continues to severely degrade the Russian artillery corps—to the tune of 30-40 guns per day—its advantage is likely to only continue to grow. This is the end result, as relayed by a Russian on the front lines:

    So the artillery doesn’t help you?

    Not that it doesn’t help. The command does not allocate shells to them.

    Are you promised help and support?

    People die for nothing. People go one way and don’t come back.

    We work here in the same helmet. There is no interaction with anyone else. Everything happens very slowly; either the artillery does not shoot, or you have to wait for the shot for a very long time.

    In fact, this Russian claimed that the artillery shortage is so severe, that Russian commanders are sending their artillerymen as storm infantry on the front lines.

    Are there more losses?

    We have twenty-five people leaving for the task, six are coming back. Our artillerymen have now stormed. They were told: you don’t have any ammunition anyway, go as an infantry.

    This isn’t the first time we’ve seen claims that Russian commanders are using artillerymen as cannon fodder to desperately hold onto ground in the face of advancing Ukrainian forces.

    This degradation of Russian artillery will have a more dramatic impact on the eventual success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive than counting square kilometers thus far liberated.

  184. says

    Jennifer Rubin:

    Among the worst takes on the impeachment: “Biden’s words from 2020 fuel GOP’s impeachment push” (Axios); and on Hunter Biden’s indictment: “Biden allies worry son Hunter’s indictment could strain the president’s 2024 focus” (NBC News). The worst of the worst was from the Wall Street Journal: “Biden’s Rough September: Auto Strike, Son’s Indictment, Inflation, Impeachment Inquiry.” (Inflation is actually down, and there is no sign anything involving his son is a drag on his reelection.)

    These fit a common media pattern: Hammer an item and then castigate Democrats for getting distracted by or worrying about it. I find it hard to believe any significant number of people willing to vote for Biden would say, “Nope, his kid is being indicted, so I will go with Donald Trump” or “Even if there’s no evidence, Biden’s impeachment is as bad as Trump’s two.” Both the amount of and hysterical tone of coverage remind us how little self-awareness the media gained during the Trump years.

    If it were not so infuriating, it would be comical. The political media’s obsession with alleged problems for Biden frankly smacks of attempting to make its own coverage a self-fulfilling prophecy. [I agree.] Then, the media can safely claim “both sides have problems,” even though no negative issue on Biden’s side remotely matches the danger and lunacy in inviting an accused felon and twice-impeached former president back to the White House.

    As for the impeachment based on the utterly baseless charge that President Biden helped his son and/or benefited from his foreign business dealings, an unlikely source provided the definitive take on the entire gambit. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wrote for The Post: “What’s missing, despite years of investigation, is the smoking gun that connects Joe Biden to his ne’er-do-well son’s corruption.” That’s a simple statement of fact, one that should have been the news headline for the episode, not endless speculating about the “problem” it supposedly poses for the president.

    Moreover, as the media attempts to even the scales, it diverts from a near-collapse in House leadership as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) can find no feasible escape hatch from a shutdown that he knows will work to his and his party’s detriment. Maybe the most pressing story is not Hunter Biden’s gun charge but the utter incapacity of Republicans to govern.


    […] This is what we are up against: a media determined to make stories without two sides seem like two sides. A media obsessed with showing that they are “fair” by tearing down Democrats. A media obsessed with the clicks that bad news and sensationalism bring. […]

    Democrats are doing great things

    Biden’s new Climate Corps will train thousands of young people

    President Biden on Wednesday announced an initiative to train more than 20,000 young people in skills crucial to combating climate change, such as installing solar panels, restoring coastal wetlands and retrofitting homes to be more energy-efficient.

    In a TikTok video Monday that racked up more than 16,000 views, the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate group, declared that “Dark Brandon would pass a CCC” — a reference to a meme that Biden’s 2024 campaign has embraced.

    Biden’s move bypasses gridlock on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have introduced legislation to establish a Civilian Climate Corps that is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled House.

    […] This is what taking on election deniers really looks like

    Democrats won a whole lot of elections in 2022, in no small part on their vow to strengthen and defend democracy. But if they hope to turn the issue into a sustained political winner, they have to deliver on that promise by showing voters what a pro-democracy governing agenda actually looks like.

    Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro is set to make a big move in this direction by unveiling a big change on Tuesday that will implement what’s known as “automatic voter registration” statewide.

    Automatic registration makes getting on the voter rolls something you have to opt out of, rather than actively sign up for in advance. An underappreciated success story, it has been put into effect in two dozen states, mostly by Democrats. It typically works by automatically registering customers at state Department of Motor Vehicles offices (or other agencies) or by automatically extending them that option, while offering an opt-out alternative.

    “I see voter participation as key to strengthening democracy,” Shapiro told me in an interview, noting that he is “committed to ensuring free and fair elections, and to making sure every eligible voter can make their voice heard.”

    Link. More at the link.

    Barack Obama:

    Great news — starting today, Pennsylvania will begin automatic voter registration for folks getting a driver’s license or state ID card at the DMV. Hopefully even more states will follow.

  185. tomh says

    Lynna @225: Re: Misinformation story, indeed it is. I left out a lot and now I see that no WaPo subscription is required to read the entire article, so for anyone that wants the rest it’s here.

  186. Reginald Selkirk says

    National Cathedral replaces windows honoring Confederacy with stained-glass homage to racial justice

    The landmark Washington National Cathedral unveiled new stained-glass windows Saturday with a theme of racial justice, filling the space that had once held four windows honoring Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

    The new windows depict a march for justice by African Americans, descendants of the very people who would have remained in slavery after the Civil War if the side for which the officers fought had prevailed.

    The cathedral had removed the old windows after Confederate symbols featured prominently in recent racist violence…

  187. Reginald Selkirk says

    Two House Republicans say they might work with Democrats to fund government

    As the Republican stalemate over government funding continues, two freshman GOP House members opened the door Thursday to end-running their party’s leadership and working with Democrats to fund the government.

    Reps. Marc Molinaro and Mike Lawler, two New York Republicans who represent Hudson Valley-area districts that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, said they’re willing to consider a “discharge petition” to force votes on a short-term funding bill — if their party fails to get its act together.

    It would take a few more to get that done. According to Wikipedia, there are 221 Republicans in the House, 212 Democrats and 2 vacant positions. So 3 more defectors would do it.

  188. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lawler: I didn’t come to Congress to ‘play stupid games’

    Republican Rep. Mike Lawler on Friday criticized House GOP hardliners for “play[ing] stupid games” that are “screwing the American people” as the government heads toward a shutdown.

    “I didn’t come here to shut the government down or play stupid games so we could raise $5 donations by claiming we’re doing something and sticking it to the administration, when in fact all they would be doing is screwing the American people,” Lawler (R-N.Y.) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Friday…

  189. lumipuna says

    This is not terribly relevant to current politics, but the Finnish public broadcaster Yle has just published the only known video material of Vladimir Putin taken in a private setting (ie. not orchestrated as PR for him). It was taken in the early 1990s while he was on a business trip in Finland as an assistant of Anatoli Sobchak, the newly elected mayor of the newly re-named St. Petersburg. The material wasn’t entirely unknown before; it’s unclear why Yle made a story on it right now.

    Here’s an English language version of the original Finnish story:

    The two men with their families were recreating as guests at a villa owned by a Finnish company that wanted to establish good business relations with the New Russia’s new ascending elite (a form of soft bribery). I gather that a lot of video was taken there for PR purposes, for either Sobchak or the host company. In some clips, Putin looks relaxed, apparently unaware of the camera. In others, he looks grumpy and tries to hide his face from the camera, in the deeply ingrained habit of a KGB agent. He plays ping pong in the yard, throws darts and goes fishing with Sobchak.

    Yle has interviewed several people who were involved with the event, hiding their identities for safety reasons. There’s also some commentary from The Guardian’s Russia expert Luke Harding. The Finnish editors have repeated snide comments on how Putin dresses in a casual private setting – looking sloppy yet blingy in the latest Adidas sportswear, in stereotypic Russian noveau riche fashion. As an amusing detail, it is revealed that the 3.2 kg pike the men are shown bringing back from the fishing trip was caught beforehand. There’s obvious parallel to Putin’s more recent official vacation photos as president, for example a famous 2017 photo of him posing with a remarkably large perch he almost certainly didn’t catch on spot.

    The story is mainly interesting as a summary of Putin’s career and of his approach to publicity. There’s the cringey “monster shows a human face” commentary, which isn’t the least interesting to anyone who knows that human can be monsters, and therefore monsters are often humans. It also shouldn’t be surprising that Putin has aged a lot in 30 years, despite all the Botox, though it’s worth pondering that he’s been Russia’s leader for most of that time.

  190. tomh says

    Mississippi high court blocks appointment of some judges in majority-Black capital city and county
    BY EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS / September 21, 2023

    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday struck down part of a state law that would have authorized some circuit court judges to be appointed rather than elected in the capital city of Jackson and the surrounding county, which are both majority-Black.

    Critics said the law was an effort by the majority-white Legislature to stomp on voting rights and to treat Jackson and Hinds County residents unfairly in a state where most judges are elected….

    Justices noted in the ruling Thursday that a longstanding Mississippi law allows the chief justice to appoint some justices for specific reasons, such as to deal with a backlog of cases. But they wrote that “we see nothing special or unique” about the four appointed Hinds County circuit judges in the law this year, “certainly nothing expressly tethering them to a specific judicial need or exigency.”

  191. says

    Sen. John Fetterman gives moving speech at disability hearing

    On Thursday, a Senate Special Committee on Aging took place to discuss how people with disabilities, older adults, and veterans can be ensured access to government technology. Sen. John Fetterman gave a very moving speech on how much deeper his empathy has grown since suffering a stroke last year.

    Fetterman explained that as a result of the stroke, “I have lost my ability to fully process language.” He said he depended on a transcription app on his phone, which showed the audience. It allows him to understand more clearly what was being said around him, he said. “I can’t imagine if I didn’t have this kind of a bridge to allow me to communicate with other people effectively.”

    Fetterman became emotional when talking about the disrespectful public environment for people with disabilities, and his experience in office. “Because I live in a political environment, I was ridiculed and made fun of because I wasn’t able to process things sometimes or say things,” he said. “I’m so sorry that I’m sure many of you had to go through this kind of thing.”

    The video, which can be seen below, went viral because it exemplifies the kind of bravery and seriousness we all desire from our elected leaders. Fetterman’s wife retweeted the video, writing, “All heart, all goodness [heart emoji] my grandmother always used to say that John had to be made that tall to fit his whole heart.”

    Video available at the link.

  192. says

    Unhinged Navarro tweets about “pimp ladies” in the White House

    […] when I say that Peter Navarro is insane, I am using the lay definition – which means his mental processes are self-destructive, loathsome, and beyond the expected normal range of people who live in a society with others.

    The latest evidence for his parlous mental state is a tweet in which he said,

    Watched Hutchinson in West Wing suck candy daily outside Meadows office doing NOTHING. Pimping new “book” with White House loser alyssa farah. Hutchinson sold soul to J6 witch hunt. This her next 15 minutes of fame. @RudyGiuliani hero, Cassidy trash.


    He then quoted his own tweet to add:

    Why would White House men – prez, vp, senior aide – EVER hire a woman after watching book pimps Cassiday Hutchinson, Alyssa Farah, Stephanie Grisham, Kayleigh McEnany, Olivia Troye throw mud @realDonaldTrump @RudyGiuliani et. al. Pimp ladies be giving real MAGA WOMEN bad name

    […] We should not be surprised. That there was a trial in the first place is further proof Navarro is deranged. All this moron had to do was go to Congress and decline to answer their questions. But he fancies himself as some constitutional superhero. It is time for Petey to grow up.

    ”Pimping” is providing prostitutes to Johns and taking a piece of the action. It is hard to see how promoting a book is “pimping.” For instance, who is the prostitute in this case? It cannot be the book. Navarro must see these female authors as both the procurer and the harlot. Note: If book promotion is the same as illegal commercial sex, Navarro is a well-seasoned practitioner of the art, as he has pimped 32 books.

    Navarro is also either a liar or a stalker. He says: “Watched Hutchinson in West Wing suck candy daily outside Meadows office doing NOTHING.” His office was on the second floor of the West Wing, Hutchinson was on the first floor beside her boss. Does Navarro have X-ray vision?

    Lastly, he calls Rudy Giuliani a “hero”. That is insane.

    […] Navarro ices his misogyny with some backhanded racism. “Pimp ladies be giving” is how a white guy wears vernacular black face. Navarro does not elucidate what qualities make his ladies “real MAGA WOMEN.” I am scared to imagine.

    […] Navarro was particularly fond of demeaning female staffers. WaPo reported:

    The trade adviser routinely exploded at his assistants while scheming to undermine other senior White House officials.

    Young women appeared to suffer the most verbal abuse. Some female White House employees complained that Navarro, 71, was habitually disrespectful, assigning professional women to act as note takers during policy meetings rather than allowing them to participate. [Sigh. Been there … have had that particular sign of disrespect inflicted on me.]

    […] Navarro is capable of messaging. And the message is clear. The man is a steaming pile of ego, anger, bile, and stupidity.

  193. says

    Trump threw a tantrum a 2:30 AM. Apparently, there were no babysitters there to stop him.

    […] The entire focus of his campaign is firmly rooted in his delusional and thoroughly debunked claims of election fraud, and his seething animus for his victorious opponent, President Biden. And to illustrate just how fixated Trump is on Biden, he posted a comment at 2:30 AM Saturday morning that was curdling with contempt. He obviously couldn’t sleep after Biden announced his plan to upstage Trump’s debate-dodging, phony union rally next week. What follows is an annotated transcription of Trump’s tantrum:

    “Crooked Joe Biden had no intention of going to visit the United Autoworkers, until I announced that I would be heading to Michigan to be with them, & help then (sic) out.”

    Needless to say, Trump had no idea of what Biden’s intentions were. And Biden surely doesn’t consult with Trump before setting his schedule. However, any fair observer would have presumed that Biden would show his support for the striking union workers. And Biden’s decision to do so the day before Trump’s bogus union rally is just smart strategic thinking.

    “Actually, Crooked Joe sold them down the river with his ridiculous all Electric Car Hoax. This wasn’t Biden’s idea, he can’t put two sentences together.”

    This is Trump’s 19th allegation that whatever is triggering his anxiety is a hoax. And with regard to who is able to put coherent sentences together, the following video will provide some relevant context. [video at the link]

    “It was the idea of the Radical Left Fascists, Marxists, & Communists who control him and who, in so doing, are DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY! Within 3 years, all of these cars will be made in China.”

    First of all, someone needs to inform Trump that fascists and Marxists are at polar opposites of the ideological spectrum. More to the point, Trump has lately been pushing this nonsense about all electric vehicles being made in China. The EV market in the U.S. is already huge, and not one of the major brands is Chinese. His twisted imagination is getting away from him, again.

    “That’s what Sleepy Joe wants, because China pays him and his family a FORTUNE. He is a Manchurian Candidate.”

    It is preposterous for Trump to peddle these baseless lies about Biden having any financial ties to China, when it’s Trump who has documented business in China, including his previously secret bank accounts.

    “If the UAW ‘leadership’ doesn’t ENDORSE me, and if I don’t win the Election, the Autoworkers are ‘toast,’ with our great truckers to follow.”

    Trump loves to issue impotent threats like this that have no basis in reality. The truth is that he, and his Republican Party, are longtime opponents of unions and the interests of the working class. They are beholden to the corporations who fund their campaigns in order to cut taxes and regulations, and weaken the bargaining power of unions. By contrast, Biden is lifelong union supporter, and is proud of it, […]

    “Crooked Joe Biden is the most Corrupt and Incompetent President in the history of the USA. If he is able to gather the energy to show up, tell him to go to the Southern Border instead, & to leave the Car Industry alone!”

    Trump closes his rant with some textbook projection. It is Trump whose corruption has resulted in four criminal indictments on 91 felony counts. And it is Trump’s incompetence that led to the loss of millions of jobs during his occupation of the White House. Not mention more than a million lives due to his deliberate mismanagement of the COVID pandemic.

    […] he might want to try and get some sleep, because these late night tantrums can’t be good for his already feeble cognitive state.


  194. says

    A NASA capsule carrying pieces of an asteroid successfully lands in Utah.

    Washington Post link

    NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft flung a capsule the size of a car tire onto a bombing range in Utah on Sunday, delivering safely to Earth a sample of the intriguing and potentially hazardous asteroid Bennu.

    The capsule, released four hours earlier by the spacecraft, parachuted onto the muddy Utah Test and Training Range. Recovery teams in four helicopters raced to the landing site in a carefully rehearsed effort designed to bag the capsule quickly to lower the risk of contamination and then spirit it to a hangar on a military base. It will be flown Monday to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Texas for future scientific study.

    Mission managers, pleased with the trajectory of the spacecraft, voted early Sunday morning to proceed with releasing the capsule, which spent four hours nearing Earth before plunging into the atmosphere. The parent spacecraft then fired thrusters to ensure that it would not wind up in Utah, but would instead move on to another target, the asteroid Apophis, with a scheduled encounter in 2029.

    […] Bennu contains rocks that date to the earliest epoch of the solar system. The mission is designed to give scientists samples of these “fossils” that date back 4 billion years. The molecular makeup of the material brought back to Earth could provide clues to how it became an ocean planet, with the kind of environment where life could appear (and eventually evolve into complex organisms such as astrobiologists). […]

    The sampler device at the end of a robotic arm of the spacecraft plunged into Bennu’s surface about 20 inches deep and emerged with a mixture of material known as regolith. How much is in the sample, exactly, is unknown. Some spilled during the maneuver, but mission leaders believe they have about 250 grams (about 8.8 ounces) of material, plus or minus 101 grams. To meet the mission’s stated goal, there needs to be at least 60 grams in the capsule.

    […] This was a triumph of aerospace engineering. The technical challenges were immense, including the complexities of guiding a spacecraft into orbit around a small object many millions of miles away.

    […] Because the acronym is much easier to say than the full name, which is Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. Osiris is the name of an ancient Egyptian god, and Dante Lauretta, the lead scientist on the mission, is a mythology buff who thought the name would work well. Now that the spacecraft has a new target, OSIRIS-REx has been renamed OSIRIS-APEX, for OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer.

  195. says

    Ukraine Update: Ukraine just had its best week of the year

    Let’s talk about Ukraine’s very good week.

    1. Ukraine liberated 32 square kilometers of territory around Robotyne

    After Robotyne’s liberation over the last few days of August, things seemed to slow a bit. However, the lack of progress on the ground did not mean a stalled campaign. Ukraine used the following two weeks to consolidate its gains and soften the next set of Russian defensive lines. The result? Last week, Ukraine made significant gains in all directions. [map at the link]

    Ukraine is systematically degrading Russian positions across the entire salient, preventing them from moving their reserves to plug any single hole.

    We’ve all been looking at Ukrainian advances west of Verbove, and Ukrainian forces are at the edge of the settlement today (if not deeper into it, as some more outlandish and unsupported rumors currently claim). But look at how, having beached the Surovikin line in that direction, Ukraine is now sweeping down and around it, as I suggested they would three weeks ago. Remember, that main defensive line is on a ridge, requiring Ukraine to attack uphill. If Ukraine can execute a pincer maneuver and cut off that line from behind, it could precipitate a Russian withdrawal or surrender.

    Still, I am most excited about that tiny sliver of liberated blue on the high ground west of Robotyne, because that’s the second major breach of the Surovikin line. Russia has struggled to contain one breach. A second one makes it an impossible task. The dam is bursting.

    Yesterday, Russia released video of one of its soldiers ambushing and killing two Ukrainians. It was a sad and devastating loss, but it provided visual evidence that Ukraine is now at the edge of Novoprokopivka, directly south of Robotyne. These are solid advances against fierce Russian resistance.

    2. Russian soldier admits to massive losses around Bakhmut

    We’ve wondered endlessly why both sides are so obsessed with Bakhmut, a city with little strategic value. Over 9 months, Russia lost tens of thousands of men to take it, while Ukraine lost multiple thousands resisting that advance. And now, Ukraine is expending valuable resources and men to claw back territory all around the city.

    Thanks to another Russian video, we know that Ukraine currently holds Khromove, literally on the western tip of Bakhmut. Only a small canal separates it from Bakhmut proper.

    Ukraine has made more significant advances to the south, further consolidating its hold around Klishchiivka and has advanced to the edge of Kurdyumivka further south, having crossed a canal that protects it from the west. [map at the link]

    This is the part of the discussion where I kvetch that Ukraine could better use those forces pretty much anywhere but here. But I’ll have to rethink that if this Russian dispatch from Russian television is true. [tweet and video at the link: […] The AFU keep almost all roads to Bakhmut under fire control. The 150th division’s medical unit receives from 100 to 150 wounded every day.]

    […] Given that half of Russia’s units around Bakhmut are VDV airborne or Spetsnaz special forces—the best trained units Russia can deploy—this would be catastrophic for the invaders.

    For better context, we’d need to know 1) are those numbers accurate, and 2) what are Ukraine’s rate of losses in this direction. But there would certainly be no reason for a Russian soldier to exaggerate losses on Russian propaganda TV. At this rate, Russia is losing around 1,000 soldiers per week for this strategically insignificant plot of land. If Ukraine’s losses are modest in comparison, it’s a trade Ukraine will be happy to make.

    3. ATACMS coming

    ATACMS long-range missiles are coming.

    Supposedly, U.S. President Joe Biden was always going to approve them, but it was supposed to be a big secret to catch Russia unawares, or something. “The decision was made before Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the US this week, but the Biden administration chose not to announce it publicly,” said the Financial Times report. “One person said this was to avoid tipping off the Russians.”

    Never seen something so consequential cited to “one person.” It could be some random person on the street, or National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The gamut of possibilities is large. And, it’s kind of stupid. Are we really going to believe that Russia would move its logistics back on the mere announcement that ATAMCS was coming? If so, they should’ve announced them a long time ago, even if they had no intention of sending them.

    […] But really, Ukraine already has long-range missiles. There’s nothing magical about ATACMS, other that it gives Ukraine more capabilities than it already has.

    So don’t expect these to be game changing. They will be game … helping. Ukraine is already doing a good job of disrupting Russian logistics and command and control centers, and ATACMS will help. More excitingly, this opens up the likelihood that Germany delivers its Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. They have a range of 500 kilometers (300 miles), are cloaked in stealth technology, and pack a serious 500 kilogram warhead. Now those could be game changing, insofar that they have the range and punch to take down the Kerch Bridge.

    Cutting Russia’s Crimean logistical lines would, indeed, change the game.

    4. Speaking of Crimea
    Earlier this month, Ukraine staged several daring missile and special forces raids to destroy Russian air defense capabilities in Crimea, including destroying two of its five billion-dollar S-400 batteries on the peninsula. And as a result, Ukraine now seems able to strike targets at will.

    It started 10 days ago, when Ukraine destroyed a submarine and landing ship on a dry dock at Sevastopol, the massive Russian naval base on the southern tip of Crimea. But that was just the beginning, as last week, Ukraine destroyed the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, as well as destroyed two additional naval ships.

    The Black Sea Fleet HQ was a particularly important strike, as Russian telegram sources claim the strike killed at least 34 officers, while Ukrainian intelligence claims the strike seriously injured two admirals and, plot twist, two key generals —Col. Gen. Alexander Romanchuck, who commands Russian forces in Zaporizhzhia, which is the southern front, and Lt. Gen. Oleg Tsekov, who has commanded various brigades, and might be serving as chief of staff for Romanchuck.

    This suggests that the strike wasn’t just a random target, but was chosen because Ukrainian intelligence knew of the gathering. The strike was specifically targeted to hit senior Russians during a meeting. Russian propaganda is stunned. [tweet and video at the link]

    Note, Russia has yet to strike any of Ukraine’s command and control buildings in Kyiv—the presidential palace, the legislature, the ministry of defense, etc. Given how eagerly they strike civilian targets, it’s bizarre how they’ve left Ukraine’s top governmental buildings alone. [Or, the air defense in Kyiv was improved before Russia could get the task done.]

    Meanwhile, we don’t know much about the two additional ships Ukraine reportedly struck, other than Russian Telegram coping hard. Rybar, for example, claimed that the two ships were “slated to be written off.” Well, they’re sure as heck written off now!

    Note, leadership decapitation is a key part of “shaping” operations. And Ukraine is systematically degrading Russia’s officer command. [tweet and images at the link]

    Destroy Russia’s leadership and supply lines, and rolling up those defensive lines becomes infinitely easier.

    5. M1 Abrams are arriving

    I’m kinda cheating here—the M1s Abrams main battle tanks are arriving next week. But it was confirmed this week. With Russian defensive lines crumbling around Robotyne, one of the big questions is whether Ukraine has the reserves to exploit the breakthroughs. Adding 31 of the best tanks in the world should provide some much appreciated backup at just the right time.

    There is no public information on what units will get them, but we are guessing they land with Ukraine’s 82nd airmobile brigade, currently fighting in that Robotyne salient. That unit operates T80BV tanks, which have the same kind of gas turbine engine as the Abrams. Their mechanics are already familiar with that kind of machinery, and their logistics are already built to sustain gas-guzzling tanks. An Abrams needs 2-3 gallons per mile. Not 2-3 miles per gallon, but 2-3 gallons per mile. Their logistical demands are astronomical.
    A reminder that this “good week” comes at a horrific price. [Photo at the link]

    “On the day of our victory, I’ll put away my uniform, don an elegant gown and heels, and celebrate. I’ll get married and have a big happy family. But I’ll never forget the men & women who died for our freedom,” Ivanna Lemeshko once wrote.

    Ivanna died in combat this week.

  196. says

    […] So as we steam toward yet another GOP-manufactured crisis, we can only hope that Americans are starting to understand who’s really fucking everything up. (Psst, it’s Republicans. It’s always been Republicans. The call is coming from inside the House!) […]

    Of course, it’s hard to argue—or negotiate—with political terrorists, which is precisely what Republicans are. We all witnessed their debt ceiling brinkmanship earlier this year, and now they’re fixing to impeach Joe Biden and shut down the government, largely to appease the Malignant Smegma Golem of Mar-a-Lago […]

    Rep. Maxine Waters appeared on “The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” and she made clear that she’s done with Republicans trying to claim patriotism as their exclusive bailiwick. […]

    CAPEHART: “Congressman [Brendan] Boyle, the ranking member on the Budget Committee, I think he said in one of the … Congressman Matt Gaetz is proposing cuts as high as 23%—budget cuts.”

    WATERS: “Oh, yes. Oh, absolutely. And when you take a look at what they’re doing it shows that—you know the Republicans who have claimed patriotism, claimed that they love this country, they don’t care. If they will allow seniors and veterans not to be able to get their disability checks, for example. They don’t care. If they were to allow education to be dismantled in this country—they don’t care. If they don’t care about the people sleeping on the streets, the homeless, and they’re cutting housing vouchers, they’re not patriots. They are basically not only disrupting this country, they’re destroying it. And they cannot claim patriotism anymore. We, who fight for the people, claim patriotism. We’re the patriots, not them. For the Republicans, patriotism is lost. It’s gone.”

    […] I don’t know if Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg would have made a good president—though as the former mayor of a midsized Midwestern town he still has more relevant experience than Trump, who spent the bulk of his tenure shopping for Supreme Court justices who’d make abortion illegal […]

    That said, Buttigieg is great on the teevee. If he ever gets tired of his transpo gig, he might want to think about advocating for Democrats and Democratic policies full time.

    He appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash and pointed out Republicans’ hypocrisy when it comes to … well, everything, really. But in this case, complaining about the dire repercussions of budget-slashing and deregulation when they’re the ones out on the wing ripping pieces off the engine. […]

    BUTTIGIEG: “And I would add, the shutdown is being used by some House Republicans as leverage to get budget cuts over and above the deal that was made, which would also have an incredibly negative effect on …

    BASH: “They didn’t like the deal in the first place.”

    BUTTIGIEG: “Yeah, but think about what this means for transportation again. Obviously, I’m speaking mostly to what’s in my lane, but some of the very same House Republicans who were lining up to try to make a partisan political issue of air travel disruptions are proposing cuts that would make it harder to modernize our systems. Some of the very same House Republicans who were lining up to try to make the pain of the people of East Palestine, Ohio, into a partisan political issue would cut railroad safety inspections. It makes no sense.”

    […] Republicans are not interested in governing. They just want to sow chaos and force John Fetterman to wear a suit. Because that’s what’s really important, isn’t it?

    George Takei:

    Breaking: Sen. John Letterman to wear a suit to the Senate but it will be a TAN one.

    […] Republicans are making the same mistake they made in 2016. Instead of rallying around a marginally coherent, intermittently lucid candidate like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, they’re splitting the primary vote a dozen different ways, leaving Trump all alone as the prohibitive favorite.

    Ah, but Chris Christie doesn’t see it that way. [video at the link]

    WELKER: “Former President Trump is solidifying his lead with GOP primary voters. You’ve been in this race since June, Governor. Why aren’t you gaining more traction?”

    CHRISTIE: “Well, Kristen, look, I know you all spent a whole lot of money on national polls, so I don’t mean to go after the polling folks. But the fact is that national polls don’t matter. We don’t have a national primary. If you look at Donald Trump in the latest polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the two earliest states, he is barely at 40 in Iowa and he is under 40, at 34 and at 38, in New Hampshire. That means that between 60 and 65% of Republican voters in those two very important early states want an alternative. And in a place like New Hampshire, I’m in second place behind Donald Trump. So, you know, this whole race is going to change when people actually vote, Kristen. And no offense to any poll that comes out now, but if it’s a national poll, we don’t have a national primary, and I don’t spend more than three minutes thinking about it.”

    Oh, come on, Kristen. You already know the answer to your question. It’s because Republican voters love chaos, autocracy, and merciless revenge against their enemies, which Trump is offering in spades. […]

    On the bright side, Welker seems marginally more dignified now that she’s not interviewing a venal tub of McNugget sauce.

    […] Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, […] joined Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures” to whine about Speaker Kevin McCarthy. […]

    Bartiromo somehow gets Matt to admit the Republican-controlled House is completely useless. We all knew this, of course, but it’s nice to hear it straight from the horse’s arse.

    BARTIROMO: “Well, [McCarthy’s] doing the four bills next week.”

    GAETZ: “Because we’re making him! Because we’re making him!”

    BARTIROMO: “But he’s doing it. So to push now, to blow up all of the wins that you all have had now …”

    GAETZ: “Which wins? Please enumerate them.”

    BARTIROMO: “Well, okay, well how about the fact that he has set up a weaponization committee to investigate the DOJ, whether they’re involved in a coverup?”

    GAETZ: “That’s process!”

    BARTIROMO: “Hold on. How about the fact that he has set up the China Select Committee to keep China to account and, of course, he has launched this inquiry into impeachment, potentially, for President Biden. Is that not what you want?”

    GAETZ: “None of those things are deliverables. Those are steps in a process. Setting up a committee is an end unto itself only in Washington, D.C. … These committees have done nothing to reduce inflation. They’ve done nothing to actually constrain the Biden government. We can set up committees and have hearings and yell at people, but at the end of the day if we still send the check to fund a weaponized government, having a weaponization subcommittee is little relief to the American people. And if any of this was serious, we would be sending out subpoenas and compelling process the way the Jan. 6 committee did. We should be operating like them. Instead, we’re playing patty-cake with the Bidens. We’re allowing them to get away with it. And we’re funding it. We’re sending the money. If we were serious, use the power of the purse.”

    We’re letting the Bidens get away with … that thing we’re sure they did, have no evidence for, and will surely discover just as soon as we impeach the president for high crimes and coffee cup-saluting. Oh, and we’re also taking a hard line against the weaponization of government. […]—we’re confident no one will notice the irony.

    But the big takeaway here? This Republican-led House has been a colossal waste of time.

    Link. There are many video snippets available at the link.

  197. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ethiopia’s Tigst Assefa smashes women’s marathon world record in Berlin

    Ethiopia’s Tigst Assefa smashed the women’s marathon world record as she won Sunday’s race in Berlin.

    Assefa, who also won last year’s race, crossed the line in a time of two hours, 11 minutes and 53 seconds.

    The 26-year-old took more than two minutes off the previous record of 2:14.04 – set by Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei in Chicago in 2019.

    Double Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge was the men’s winner for a record fifth time in Berlin with a run of 2:02.42…

  198. Reginald Selkirk says

    A Russian reserve army of 15,000 soldiers is pinned down near Bakhmut and will be destroyed, says Ukraine’s spy chief

    Ukraine is pinning down a newly created Russian reserve force near Bakhmut and is confident the 15,000-strong unit will be destroyed, Ukraine’s spy chief says.

    Kyrylo Budanov told The War Zone that Ukraine was pinning down Russian forces in Bakhmut to prevent them from being deployed to other axes where its counteroffensive is pushing forward.

    “The Russians recently redeployed their only reserve force – the 25th Army – which was just recently raised and hasn’t completed its creation,” he said.

    “Now it’s redeployed to roughly the north of Bakhmut, and that’s the place where it’s going to be buried.” …

  199. Reginald Selkirk says

    Michigan GOP leader tells critics to “pound sand” amid pleas for unity at Mackinac

    Even as attendance cratered and many elected Republicans steered clear, a faction of Michigan Republicans convened on Mackinac Island this weekend for the party’s biennial leadership conference, celebrating a community that embraced the same conspiracy theories and ultra-conservative policies.

    Chair Kristina Karamo, while lambasting the theory of evolution, dispelled rumors she was planning to resign.

    “Those who wish to maintain the status quo and manage inefficiently are angry that I’m chair,” she said. “Pound sand.” …

    Speakers pushed theories of widespread election fraud and railed against vaccines, globalists and the “uniparty.” Charles Thurston, a speaker that claimed to unify the bible and medicine, appeared at the podium wearing the mask of a medieval plague doctor and a tri-cornered hat, ringing a bell to skewer the pandemic response.

    Karamo introduced Kari Lake, the former Arizona gubernatorial candidate, as “the true governor of Arizona.” Like Karamo, Lake has been fined by a judge for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit baselessly alleging widespread election fraud in her election…

    The next day, a plane was flying over the Grand Hotel, reportedly sponsored by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, towing a banner that read “Mike Rogers (R-Deep State.)” …

  200. Reginald Selkirk says

    Machine gun-wielding judges fight off Russian drone attacks from Kyiv rooftops, report says

    Ukrainian judges are helping to defend Kyiv by shooting Russian drones out of the sky, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    Approximately 35 judges are part of a paramilitary squad called the Mriya, which comprises about 380 volunteers. Some of the judges are retired, while others still work within the judicial system of Ukraine.

    The judges joined air defense efforts last fall when Russia started firing Iranian-made Shahed drones at Ukraine. The volunteers defend their capital with machine guns, strategically positioning themselves on Kyiv’s rooftops.

    Their contributions complement the sophisticated Western air defense systems that have succeeded in thwarting many of the multiple attacks on Kyiv, per The Associated Press…

  201. StevoR says

    A future hydrogen terminal near Whyalla has secured funding commitments from the state and federal governments, with expectations of “large-scale” global exports before the end of the decade. The state and federal governments have ratified funding arrangements for a so-called “hydrogen hub” at Port Bonython, committing to a combined $100 million spend, in addition to private sector funding.

    The location, in South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf region, was earmarked by the previous federal government before last year’s election for future hydrogen projects.

    Among them is what Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has described as a “large-scale export terminal” for “green” hydrogen.

    “Because there’s such available land there of course, there’s abundant solar and wind resources, South Australia is primed to become a world-class low-cost hydrogen supplier, and the government has a comprehensive plan to develop a hydrogen industry in the Spencer Gulf,” Mr Albanese told ABC North and West SA this morning.

    Source :

  202. Reginald Selkirk says

    Writers Guild Reaches Tentative Agreement With Studios and Streamers

    After several long consecutive days of negotiations, the Writers Guild of America and the labor group representing studios and streamers have reached a tentative deal on a new contract in a major development that could precipitate the end of a historic, 146-day writers strike.

    The Writers Guild of America emailed strike captains the news on Sunday night, and shortly after, its negotiating committee informed all members. “We have reached a tentative agreement on a new 2023 MBA, which is to say an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to drafting final contract language,” the latter message stated. “We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.” …

  203. StevoR says

    One of the people responsible for imprisoning & mistreating refugees in Australia is in trouble – not for that secuifically but still :

    The secretary of the Home Affairs Department, Mike Pezzullo, has been asked to step aside as an investigation is conducted into text messages he is alleged to have sent to a Liberal Party powerbroker. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have published the texts said to have been sent over a number of years between Mr Pezzullo and Scott Briggs, an influential figure within the Liberal Party.

    Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil on Monday morning asked Mr Pezzullo to stand aside while the messages are investigated by the Australian public service commissioner. …(Snip)…In a message allegedly sent to Mr Briggs during the Liberal Party’s 2018 leadership contest, Mr Pezzullo advocated for the appointment of a prominent conservative as home affairs minister.

    “You need a right winger in there – people smugglers will be watching … Please feed that in [to Morrison and Turnbull],” the newspapers claim Mr Pezzullo said in one of the published messages.

    Other messages regard appointments like attorney-general and defence minister.

    Some of the conversations also appear to show disdain for parliamentary processes like Senate estimates, where senators are given the opportunity to grill departmental officials about policy.

    Source :

  204. Reginald Selkirk says

    A New App Lets You Video Chat With The Cop Thats Pulling You over

    Encountering the police in general can suck. It can be even worse when you’re a person of color. But LAs ABC7 reports that the Los Angeles County Sheriffs are trying something a bit different to improve interactions between the public and police. A new app is being tested that will allow people to video call the officer that’s pulling them over.

    The sheriff’s department in West Hollywood is using a new app from a company called SafeStop. While details on how exactly this all works are a little light, the gist of it is when an officer initiates a traffic stop on a motorist, the driver will open up the SafeStop app on their phones and initiate a video call that allows the officer and driver to talk without ever having to leave their vehicles. Data shows that the first few moments of a traffic stop are critical in how things go forward; even more so when the stops involve Black drivers.

    In a statement, SafeStop said that the app gives drivers “the ability to take the lead on alerting police to their presence and creating transparency in the process.” But why is something like that the job of the driver to do? But mostly it’s so these encounters with law enforcement can go well and cooler heads can prevail. LA County Sheriffs West Hollywood Capt. William Moulder called the app “an innovative new tool for our Deputies to use in appropriate situations during traffic stops.” And to incentivize drivers to use it, SafeStop says that for a limited time the company will pay a percentage of a driver’s ticket when they use the app…

  205. StevoR says

    @249. Reginald Selkirk : Phew! I hope so! I hope the Union wins and I’m really looking forward to having Colbert among others back on TV. Been missing that show – and I blame the bosses for every bit of this.

  206. StevoR says

    @249. Reginald Selkirk : Phew! I hope so! I hope the Union wins and I’m really looking forward to having Colbert among others back on TV. Been missing that show – and I blame the bosses for every bit of this.

  207. Reginald Selkirk says

    Far-right Marjorie Taylor Greene ridiculed for Yom Kippur error

    Far-right Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has drawn ridicule for using an image of a Hanukah menorah in an attempt to commemorate the unrelated Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

    The derision the Georgia representative brought upon herself comes after she was previously criticized for perpetuating antisemitic conspiracy theories.

    Green on Sunday posted a message on X – previously known as Twitter – on Sunday wishing observers a meaningful fast for Monday’s observation of Yom Kippur. She tried to add a traditional Yom Kippur greeting but mispelled it: “Gamar Chasima Tova!”

    The backlash soon ensued…

  208. says

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

    Ukrainian sources are claiming that Russian Black Sea fleet admiral Viktor Sokolov died in the missile strike on Sevastopol on Friday. It is important to note at this point it is a claim that has not been independently verified. The Russian ministry of defence is yet to make any comment.

    They link to a single source – Anton Gerashchenko – but they and other news outlets are reporting “Ukraine claims to have killed commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.” CNN attributes the claim to an update from Ukrainian Special Operations Forces:

    The Ukrainian Special Operations Forces said in an update that Friday’s attack killed Viktor Sokolov along with 33 other officers.

    “After the hit of the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers were killed, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” the Ukrainians said Monday, adding that more than 100 other Russian servicemen were wounded.

    This statement must exist since it’s quoted by other news organizations, but no one is linking to it. NBC says rumors that he was killed in the strike were circulating over the weekend.

  209. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The new death and casualty figures reported by Ukraine today following the missile strike that blasted the Crimean headquarters of Russia’s navy last week are a steep increase from the figures cited by its intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, at the weekend.

    He said at least nine people were killed and 16 others wounded in the attack that left the building smouldering. He also said Alexander Romanchuk, a Russian general commanding forces along the key southeastern front line, was “in a very serious condition.”

    Now, Ukraine claims 34 officers were killed, including the fleet commander, admiral Viktor Sokolov with 105 injured, but it has provided no evidence to support its claim and the claims have not yet been independently be verified. The figures are also vastly different from what Russia has reported. [Well, Russia lies.]

    Russia’s military announced the attack on the building and initially said one serviceman was killed but later said the person was not killed but missing. Moscow has provided no further updates, AP reports…. [Right.]

  210. birgerjohansson says

    Very rare Kelvin Helmholtz clouds formed over my home town Umeå. Also, at night there has been several opportunities to see northern lights.

    A statue of the dead cardinal and bishop Frans Hengsbach has been removed in Germany. And if you speculate about the reason, it is exactly what you think.

  211. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump demands MSNBC owner be investigated for ‘treason’

    Donald Trump has demanded that the parent company of MSNBC and NBC be investigated for “treason” over what he described as “one-side and vicious coverage”.

    In a Truth Social rant on Sunday, the former president threatened to launch a probe into Comcast if he wins the 2024 race.

    “They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!” he wrote.

    Mr Trump spent much of the weekend ranting on his social media platform.

    In another post on Sunday, he demanded that “all” Senate Democrats resign over the charges facing Senator Bob Menendez – at a time when Mr Trump is refusing to step aside from the 2024 race while facing four criminal cases…

  212. says

    More dangerous threats coming from Trump, and new threats also coming from Paul Gosar:

    First up, let’s see what Paul Gosar has to say:

    Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) used his weekly email newsletter — hosted on a .gov domain that is funded by American taxpayers — on Sunday to launch a thinly veiled, homophobic attack on Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, shockingly suggesting Milley should be put to death.

    (Text from The Daily Beast.)


    […] As part of a bizarre harangue related to Jan. 6, the Arizona congressman referred to Milley as “the homosexual-promoting-BLM-activist Chairman of the military joint chiefs.” Gosar’s newsletter went on to say, “Of course, we now know that the deviant Milley was coordinating with Nancy Pelosi to hurt President Trump, and treasonously working behind Trump’s back. In a better society, quislings like the strange sodomy-promoting General Milley would be hung.”

    I won’t bother to fact-check such a missive, except to note that Gosar’s claims are stark raving mad. […]


    And now we turn to Trump’s latest incendiary language. From The Atlantic:

    Late Friday night, the former president of the United States — and a leading candidate to be the next president — insinuated that America’s top general deserves to be put to death. That extraordinary sentence would be unthinkable in any other rich democracy.

    What Trump wrote in his online posts:

    This guy turned out to be a Woke train wreck who, if the Fake News reporting is correct, was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States.

    This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act. To be continued!!!


    […] To the extent that reality still has any meaning, Milley did contact Chinese officials in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, assuring Beijing that the United States was stable during the presidential transition process. The diplomatic outreach was, as The Washington Post reported, “authorized by Trump administration officials at the time.”

    Or put another way, there is no sane way to characterize what transpired as “treasonous” — a word Trump has casually thrown around in recent years without cause — and the Republican’s reference to “DEATH!” was needlessly provocative and potentially dangerous. […]

    More commentary from Steve Benen:

    The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg spoke at length with Milley, and his latest report included this memorable paragraph: “Milley has told friends that he expects that if Trump returns to the White House, the newly elected president will come after him. ‘He’ll start throwing people in jail, and I’d be on the top of the list,’ he has said.”

  213. says

    New York Times:

    It was, by her [Cassidy Hutchinson’s] telling, an administration awash in paranoia, with Mr. Meadows and others refusing to dispose of daily litter in “burn bags” for fear that someone from the “deep state” might intercept the contents. Instead, she writes, Mr. Meadows burned so many documents in his fireplace in the final days of the Trump presidency that his wife complained to Ms. Hutchinson about how expensive it had become to dry-clean the “bonfire” aroma from his suits.

    Trump posted last month:

    The January 6 unselect committee extinguished and destroyed all ‘evidence’ & records. Criminals!

    Steve Benen:

    […]More recently, Trump appeared on “Meet the Press” and told NBC News’ Kristen Welker, in reference to the Jan. 6 investigation, “They burned all the evidence. Okay? They burned all the evidence.”

    As it happens, there’s reason to believe someone burned evidence, but it wasn’t Jan. 6 investigators. […]


    Hutchinson is scheduled to appear tonight on “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

  214. says

    Some related links:

    NBN – “Padraic X. Scanlan, Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Modern Britain:

    The British empire, in sentimental myth, was more free, more just and more fair than its rivals. But this claim that the British empire was ‘free’ and that, for all its flaws, it promised liberty to all its subjects was never true. The British empire was built on slavery.

    Padraic X. Scanlan’s book Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Modern Britain (Robinson, 2021) puts enslaved people at the centre the British empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In intimate, human detail, the chapters show how British imperial power and industrial capitalism were inextricable from plantation slavery. With vivid original research and careful synthesis of innovative historical scholarship, Slave Empire shows that British freedom and British slavery were made together.

    In the nineteenth century, Britain abolished its slave trade, and then slavery in its colonial empire. Because Britain was the first European power to abolish slavery, many Victorian Britons believed theirs was a liberal empire, promoting universal freedom and civilisation. And yet, the shape of British liberty itself was shaped by the labour of enslaved African workers. There was no bright line between British imperial exploitation and the ‘civilisation’ that the empire promised to its subjects. Nineteenth-century liberals were blind to the ways more than two centuries of colonial slavery twisted the roots of ‘British liberty’.

    Freedom – free elections, free labour, free trade – were watchwords in the Victorian era, but the empire was still sustained by the labour of enslaved people, in the United States, Cuba and elsewhere. Modern Britain has inherited the legacies and contradictions of a liberal empire built on slavery. Modern capitalism and liberalism emphasise ‘freedom’ – for individuals and for markets – but are built on human bondage.

    Meredith Whittaker in Logic(s) – “Origin Stories: Plantations, Computers, and Industrial Control”:

    …Connecting [Charles] Babbage’s theories of worker control and his architectures for computation is a unified objective: the discipline of purportedly “free” labor such that it could continue to produce for the British empire. The templates for worker control that shaped Babbage’s contributions to computing draw on technologies created on the plantation, which were already actively applied to control rebellious workers in industrial factories. The links between computation, plantation technology, and industrial labor control raise questions well beyond who gets to control systems of automation and computation in the present, assuming that systems controlled by those with benevolent intentions will produce positive outcomes.They request that we engage in more fundamental inquiries, examining the technologies of control that structure the core logics of computation and attending to the enabling conditions in which computational technologies are designed to work…

    The Whittaker piece led me to this from 2020 (YT link) – “Slavery and the Law: Accounting for Slavery, with Prof. Caitlin Rosenthal”:

    This presentation was a guest lecture in the Business Associations class in October 2020. Professor Caitlin Rosenthal is a Professor of history at UC Berkeley.

    NBN – “Charlotte Lydia Riley, Imperial Island: An Alternative History of the British Empire:

    Can Britain escape from being a nation trapped in its past? In Imperial Island: A History of Empire in Modern Britain (Penguin, 2023), Charlotte Lydia Riley, an Associate Professor of History in the Department of History at the University of Southampton, and co-host of the Tomorrow Never Knows podcast explores the history of Britain as an imperial nation, both at home and abroad. The book shows how it is impossible to separate the history of post-war Britain from the history of empire, even as contemporary politics demands we misremember or deliberately forget. Moving chronologically from the 1940s to the present, but drawing on a wealth of themes and ideas, the book makes a compelling case for rethinking British, and global, identities in light of a reckoning with the role of empire in shaping society. An important historical and popular intervention, the book will be read widely beyond arts and humanities, and is essential reading for anyone keen to better understand the history of both Britain and the world today.

    NBN – “Erik Linstrum, Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire:

    When uprisings against colonial rule broke out across the world after 1945, Britain responded with overwhelming and brutal force. Although this period has conventionally been dubbed “postwar,” it was punctuated by a succession of hard-fought, long-running conflicts that were geographically diffuse, morally ambiguous, and impervious to neat endings or declarations of victory. Ruthless counterinsurgencies in Malaya, Kenya, and Cyprus rippled through British society, molding a home front defined not by the mass mobilization of resources, but by sentiments of uneasiness and the justifications they generated.

    Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire (Oxford UP, 2023) traces facts and feelings about violence as torture, summary executions, collective punishments, and other ruthless methods were employed in “states of emergency.” It examines how Britons at home learned to live with colonial warfare by examining activist campaigns, soldiers’ letters, missionary networks, newspaper stories, television dramas, sermons, novels, and plays. As knowledge of brutality spread, so did the tactics of accommodation aimed at undermining it. Some contemporaries cast doubt on facts about violence. Others stressed the unanticipated consequences of intervening to stop it. Still others aestheticized violence by celebrating visions of racial struggle or dramatizing the grim fatalism of dirty wars. Through their voices, Erik Linstrum narrates what violence looked, heard, and felt like as an empire ended, a history with unsettling echoes in our own time.

    Vividly analyzing how far-off atrocities became domestic problems, Age of Emergency shows that the compromising entanglements of war extended far beyond the conflict zones of empire.

    NBN – “Ian Sanjay Patel, We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire:

    What are the origins of the hostile environment against immigrants in the UK? In We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire (Verso, 2021), Patel retells Britain’s recent history in an often shocking account of state racism that still resonates today.

    In a series of post-war immigration laws from 1948 to 1971, arrivals from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa to Britain went from being citizens to being renamed immigrants. In the late 1960s, British officials drew upon an imperial vision of the world to contain what it saw as a vast immigration “crisis” involving British citizens, passing legislation to block their entry. As a result, British citizenship itself was redefined along racial lines, fatally compromising the Commonwealth and exposing the limits of Britain’s influence in world politics. Combining voices of so-called immigrants trying to make a home in Britain and the politicians, diplomats and commentators who were rethinking the nation, Ian Sanjay Patel excavates the reasons why Britain failed to create a post-imperial national identity….

  215. says

    A few more links:

    Beyond the Noise with Dr. Paul Offit (YT link) – “Beyond the Noise #16: The Freedom to Harm”:

    In this episode of Beyond the Noise, Dr. Paul Offit discusses a recent court ruling in Mississippi put children at greater risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

    OHH – “Veganism in Taiwan and China w/ Gina Song Lopez”:

    Gina Song Lopez is a PhD candidate at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies and a member of the Lund University Critical Animal Studies Network at Lund University in Sweden. Her research focuses on the Veg*n/plant-based movement in Taiwan and China. Meatless diets in East Asia have been traditionally associated with religious practice. However, in recent years there has been a noticeable expansion of motivations to adopt veganism and vegetarianism. The new generation of vegans and vegetarians are concerned about issues of animal protection, climate change, health, and self-cultivation. This shift brings attention to changing narratives around veg*n food and identity. As such, her project is also concerned with how ‘new’ veganism is translated into the regional cultural (and political) contexts and the actors involved in this translation.

    Drilled/DeSmog/TNR – “Meet the Shadowy Network Vilifying Climate Protestors”:

    The Atlas Network is behind the effort to brand climate activists as extremists and pass anti-protest legislation….

    (This is the written version at DeSmog, but there’s also a Drilled podcast version.)

  216. says

    […] The best way to interview Donald Trump is simply this: Don’t. Trump has been given more free air time, by far, than any candidate in history. That was true in 2016 and 2020, and it’s still true now. Bringing Trump on and allowing him to speak is nothing short of a campaign contribution. By now, everyone in the news business should be well aware that inviting Trump onto a program is inviting him to spread lies and attack democracy for the length of his appearance. Anyone who doesn’t know this shouldn’t be in the news business.

    But if Trump must be interviewed, the transcript of that “Meet the Press” interview offers a place to start in understanding how it should be done.

    Here’s Welker’s start.

    Welker: “There are a number of things that make your campaign unprecedented. You are the first former president to run for re-election in more than a hundred years. You are facing four indictments. You have an incredibly significant lead in the GOP primary polls. But I want to ask you this, Mr. President: Why do you want to be president again?”

    There’s a lot to not like even in that opening, because after tossing off that Trump is facing four indictments, “why do you want to be president” shouldn’t be the immediate follow-up. But the real fault of the interview is apparent just a few seconds later.

    Trump: “Well, it’s a very simple answer, and I can give it very easily. It’s called: “Make America Great Again.” Our country is in serious trouble. I don’t think we’ve ever been so low in terms of, certainly opinion, world opinion and country opinion.”

    There. Right there. That’s where Welker should have stepped in to say that this isn’t true. World opinion of the United States right now is extremely positive. That opinion represents a huge rebound since President Joe Biden took office, with a Pew Research survey of 16 nations showing that “75% expressed confidence in Biden, compared with 17% for Trump.”

    Welker should have interrupted Trump’s statement at this point and disputed his false characterization. Even if the numbers weren’t at her fingertips, certainly the broad knowledge that world opinion of the United States was vastly improved without Trump should have come readily. And she should not have left this point until that was clear.

    No “let’s move along” or simply asking the next question. Nothing else until the truth of this point was clear. And if that was the whole interview—either because Trump never admitted the truth, or because he walked off the set in a huff—that’s fine. Any interviewer unwilling to accept the possibility that an interview may be terminated by a subject unwilling to admit to facts should never be engaging in an interview to begin with.

    What actually happened is that Welker ignored this statement and allowed Trump to carry on lying about the state of immigration, about the economy, about the military, and about Afghanistan. She allowed him a side trip talking about how someone tried to keep him from saying “insane asylums,” and another excursion into lying about international terrorism. He was allowed to do it all uninterrupted.

    Is world opinion of the U.S. the most important issue facing the nation? No, but by making it the keystone of his pitch about why he should be handed the White House keys again, Trump made it important. Most of all, by allowing this first lie to sail past without ever being touched, Trump and Welker together set the terms for their discussion: He would get to make lengthy, lie-riddled statements, and she would trail along behind him, picking just one or two things to challenge.

    How many lies should journalists attempt to correct when confronting not just Trump, but any politician or candidate for public office? All of them. And especially the first of them, because letting that first one go is simply giving permission for an unlimited number to come.

    Trump is an existential threat to both democracy and journalism. Treating him as anything less is trying to normalize the apocalypse.

    How to interview Donald Trump

    More at the link.

  217. says

    How to order free Covid tests:

    Americans will once again be able to order free COVID-19 tests through the mail after the Biden administration announced last week it would relaunch its free-at-home COVID testing program ahead of a possible surge this winter.

    Starting Monday, those interested can head to a government website to order four free COVID tests directly to their home. [Website: ] Each household is allowed up to four tests, intended to be used through the end of 2023.

    […] This marks the fifth round of free COVID-19 tests to households across the country, with a total of more than 755 million distributed since the program began. The program was suspended at the end of May to preserve the existing supply, but Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said the stockpile has been replenished.

    The White House said it will also invest $600 million to purchase 200 million new tests from 12 domestic test manufacturers. […]


  218. birgerjohansson says

    (Google this if you are interested)

    “Newly discovered deep-sea enzyme breaks down PET plastic”
    The enzyme PET46

    “Waste colonies yield bacterium with 3 enzymes that may break down polyester”

  219. says

    Blood tests used to investigate long Covid:

    […] Several differences in the blood of people with long Covid stood out from the other groups.

    The activity of immune system cells called T cells and B cells — which help fight off germs — was “irregular” in long Covid patients, Putrino said. One of the strongest findings, he said, was that long Covid patients tended to have significantly lower levels of a hormone called cortisol.

    A major function of the hormone is to make people feel alert and awake. Low cortisol could help explain why many people with long Covid experience profound fatigue, he said.

    “It was one of the findings that most definitively separated the folks with long Covid from the people without long Covid,” Putrino said.

    The finding likely signals that the brain is having trouble regulating hormones. The research team plans to dig deeper into the role cortisol may play in long Covid in future studies.

    Meanwhile, doctors do not recommend simply boosting a person’s cortisol levels in an attempt to “fix” the problem.

    “There is no evidence that replacing cortisol in someone with long Covid would be a safe or effective thing to do,” Sala said.

    The study also found that dormant viruses, such as the one that causes mononucleosis, Epstein-Barr, come alive again in long Covid patients. It’s unclear, however, whether those old viruses are causing symptoms or flagging a problem within the immune system.

    “We were looking for signals, and we found them,” said Akiko Iwasaki, one of the researchers and a professor of immunobiology and molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the Yale School of Medicine. “Now what we need to do is home in on each of these signals and understand better how the disease has been driven by these signals.”

    The investigators did not find significant evidence that long Covid is the result of an autoimmune disorder, in which the body attacks itself.

    Dr. Clinton Wright, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s division of clinical research, said additional studies will be necessary to find other ways Covid may lead to long-term symptoms. One theory is that the virus is hiding in brain tissue or other organs.

    “We’re really interested in whether the virus still exists in reservoirs in the body,” he said. “It’s really hard to do that by measuring blood.” He was not involved with the new study.

    Long Covid affects 1 in 13 U.S. adults, or 7.5%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The findings offer hope to patients like Joshua Roman, 39, of New York City, who participated in the study.

    “We’re in such a mysterious swamp of symptoms,” he said. “My long Covid treatment is just management of symptoms.”

    Roman, a professional musician who plays the cello, takes daily medication to ease the lingering physical trembling that affects his ability to perform.

    “It would be great if we could get to the thing that’s causing me to shake in the first place, but we still don’t know exactly what that is,” he said.


  220. says

    Gossip, celebrity news, football stars, politics, and rightwing frothing madness: NFL star likes Bud Light, COVID shots, and Taylor Swift, and the right is raging

    Taylor Swift left Arrowhead Stadium with Kansas City NFL star Travis Kelce after cheering him on in his Sunday game while seated next to his mother. And yes, there’s a political angle here, thanks to the likes of right-wing personality Charlie Kirk—and thanks to Kelce’s own decisions. At age 33, he’s presumably contemplating what his life after the NFL will look like.

    Swift’s attendance at the game followed rumors that she and Kelce were dating, as well as him publicly reiterating an invitation to her to come to a game. All this focused attention on Kelce and his recent endorsement decisions, which are legitimately interesting. In the wake of the right-wing boycott of Bud Light for its promotion with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Kelce appeared in an ad for Bud Light. Last week, he appeared in a Pfizer commercial for COVID-19 and flu vaccination.

    “With my schedule, saving time is key,” Kelce wrote on Instagram, alongside the video. “The CDC says you can get this season’s updated COVID-19 shot when you get your flu shot if you’re due for both. That’s why I got two shots in one stop! Ask your doctor or pharmacist if it would be right for you. You can also visit CDC’s to learn more and schedule an appointment.”

    This is not a guy looking to steer clear of controversy—he’s making money while telling us something about his values. He surely had other, equally lucrative endorsement offers. Kelce had taken some incoming fire over the Bud Light endorsement, including predictable labels like “woke.” But having Swift show up cheering for him renewed the attention on those decisions in predictably gross ways. [examples at the link]

    […] With influencers like Clay Travis [who suggested that Kelce “just go ahead and cut his dick off”] and Charlie Kirk whipping things up, the outrage flowed freely.

    But here’s the thing: Swift and Kelce are huge stars—one a wee bit bigger than the other—in their respective fields, and they’ve made the decisions they’ve made, including Kelce’s endorsements and Swift pushing voter registration and making sure her “Eras” tour movie was made under an interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA, all with an understanding of the likely political fallout. The rage that we see at a big macho white guy daring to not stay in line with the right-wing culture wars is telling, as is the specific attack on his masculinity. But Kelce clearly decided that he was fine with that when he made his endorsement decisions. Basically, this is yet another thing Republicans are welcome to die mad about.

  221. says

    Meanwhile, doctors do not recommend simply boosting a person’s cortisol levels in an attempt to “fix” the problem.

    “There is no evidence that replacing cortisol in someone with long Covid would be a safe or effective thing to do,” Sala said.

    LOL. This is the US. People are 100% going to start trying that.

    “With my schedule, saving time is key,” Kelce wrote on Instagram, alongside the video. “The CDC says you can get this season’s updated COVID-19 shot when you get your flu shot if you’re due for both. That’s why I got two shots in one stop!…”

    I’m doing that this week!

  222. Reginald Selkirk says

    A judge has rewritten Missouri ballot summary language that described ‘dangerous’ abortions

    A Missouri judge tossed Republican-written ballot summary language Monday that described several proposed constitutional amendments as allowing “dangerous and unregulated abortions until live birth.”

    Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem rewrote the ballot summary to describe the language as establishing the “right to make decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception,” as well as undoing the state’s almost total ban on abortions.

    In Missouri, summaries are provided to voters on ballots to help quickly explain sometimes lengthy and complicated proposals. The office of Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, which wrote the summaries, plans to appeal…

  223. says

    SC @273:

    “With my schedule, saving time is key,” Kelce wrote on Instagram, alongside the video. “The CDC says you can get this season’s updated COVID-19 shot when you get your flu shot if you’re due for both. That’s why I got two shots in one stop!…”

    I’m doing that this week!

    Good. I have mine scheduled for the end of October. Trying to do the correct and reasonable things. :-)

  224. says

    What Climate Change Looks Like

    While scientists well understand the physics of climate change, they don’t completely understand the effects it will have on a wide range of geophysical systems and processes, meaning we are embarking on a planet-size laboratory experiment in which we and every other living thing are the guinea pigs.

    Take, for example, what is happening in New Orleans. Drought in the Midwest is contributing to record low river levels on the Mississippi that allows saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico upriver as far as New Orleans, threatening the drinking water supply of hundreds of thousands of people. Salt water is not only not potable but it can wreak havoc on drinking water infrastructure.

    Consider this remarkable mitigation strategy just casually dropped into news articles about the official response:

    The Corps of Engineers is also getting barges to transport water that can be combined with water at the treatment facilities for safe drinking. Colonel Jones said about 15 million gallons will be delivered in the coming days, but the demand at treatment facilities could ultimately rise to at least 36 million gallons per day. Colonel Jones said that the Army Corps was working to get access to more barges but that he was confident that figure could be met.

    The scale of that undertaking is remarkable. It’s not clear how sustainable it is, either as a one-time stopgap this year or as a recurring strategy for each future dry summer.

    In the meantime, as a temporary measure, the Army Corps is adding 25 feet of height to the underwater sill it built across the river below New Orleans over the summer. Because salt water is denser than fresh water, it sinks to the river bottom. A sill – like a dam but not breaching the surface of the water – is intended to keep the salt water from creeping further upstream while allowing fresh water to continue to flow downstream.

    Long-term forecasts suggest that rain levels in the Mississippi River drainage won’t be enough to raise river levels sufficiently to flush the salt water down stream for weeks or months. […]


  225. Reginald Selkirk says

    AP Interview: Jennifer Granholm says US aims to create nuclear fusion facility within 10 years

    U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Monday that nuclear fusion is a pioneering technology and the Biden administration wants to harness it as part of the transition to clean energy.

    As part of its energy agenda, the Biden administration wants to create a commercial nuclear fusion facility within 10 years, Granholm said in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press in Vienna…

    Ten years to commercially-produced fusion energy? That sounds ambitious and probably unlikely. And fusion facilities are very expensive, so if you start building before experimentation indicates a clear direction, there could be expensive setbacks.

  226. says

  227. says

    The U.S. sanctioned several Chinese and Russian companies on Monday for allegedly supplying a blacklisted Russian firm with parts to make drones for Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine.

    The Commerce Department announced sanctions against 28 entities in total, nine of which were implicated in the effort to sell parts to the blacklisted Special Technology Center to make drones for Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff.

    “Our actions send a clear message to those trying to evade our export controls that there will be consequences for behavior that seeks to undermine U.S. national security interests,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said in a statement.

    “We will not hesitate to take swift and meaningful action against those who continue seeking to supply and support Putin’s illegal and immoral war in Ukraine,” Estevez added.

    The China-based company Asia Pacific Links Ltd. and four Russian companies — Device Consulting, Grant Instrument, SMT-iLogic, and Streloy — were sanctioned on Monday for the alleged efforts to evade U.S. export controls.

    Three Finnish companies — Evolog Oy, Luminor Oy, and Siberica Oy — and ICW-Industrial Components Weirich from Germany were similarly added to the U.S. trade blacklist over the scheme.

    Another 10 additional companies from China, one other from Russia, five from Pakistan, two from Oman and one from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also sanctioned on Monday for their involvement in “activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy of the United States.”


  228. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Re fall shots. My pharmacy appears to allow me to make an appointment for up to three vaccines. I’ll try to get Covid, flu, and RSV done in one try.

  229. says

    Ethnic Armenians flee Nagorno-Karabakh as Russia fails to uphold peace deal.

    Washington Post link

    Hundreds of Armenians waiting for gasoline to flee the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh were injured in an explosion at a fuel depot on Monday, according to local officials, as senior U.S. officials visited Armenia and pledged humanitarian support to deal with a flood of refugees that began Sunday ahead of an imminent takeover by Azerbaijan.

    Azerbaijan recaptured most of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous area that is internationally recognized as its territory, during a brief war in 2020 that ended decades of Armenian occupation and control of the region. A truce hastily brokered by Russia helped end the fighting but left tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians living in the region, especially in the capital city, Stepanakert, without a long-term plan, but ostensibly under the protection of Russian peacekeepers.

    A military offensive by Azerbaijan last week forced the self-declared government of Nagorno-Karabakh, which Armenians call Artsakh, to capitulate and agree to dismantle its armed forces. Warnings by local authorities that the advancing Azerbaijani forces would engage in “ethnic cleansing” have terrified residents and spurred thousands of people to evacuate to Armenia.

    Russia last week again claimed to broker a cease-fire, but events in recent days demonstrated a stunning failure by Moscow to fulfill its peacekeeping role. Moscow was unable to prevent the military operation by Azerbaijan, to protect the Armenians living in the region or to enforce the terms of the 2020 cease-fire, which called for maintaining a highway that connects Stepanakert and Armenia. The highway, known as the Lachin Corridor, has been blocked for nearly a year, and closed entirely since mid-June.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov bristled on Monday at suggestions that Russian peacekeepers had failed in their mission. “We understand the emotional intensity of the moment, but we categorically disagree with the attempt to put the responsibility on the Russian side, and especially on the Russian peacekeepers, who are showing real heroism, performing their functions in accordance with the mandate that is in place,” Peskov said.

    He insisted that “Armenia is a nation close to us,” and pledged continued dialogue with Yerevan.

    But other nations appeared to be bracing for a humanitarian disaster.

    More than 6,650 Armenians have left Nagorno-Karabakh since Sunday, according to Armenian officials, and thousands more want to leave. Residents are searching desperately for fuel and roads are choked. […]

    Baku’s success in its military operation last week marked a sweeping change in a strategic and fragile South Caucasus region, traversed by crucial oil and gas pipelines, where Russia, Turkey and the West all jostle for influence and leverage.

    Azerbaijan and Armenia have fought two wars over Nagorno-Karabakh, the first in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Armenia took control of Nagorno-Karabakh and several other regions of Azerbaijan, displacing more than half a million Azerbaijanis in a humiliating defeat for Baku. In the 44-day war in 2020, Azerbaijan reclaimed most of the territory it had lost.

    […] Moscow was deeply irritated by a U.S.-Armenia military training exercise that ended last week, and by Pashinyan’s recent announcement that Armenia would join the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court. The court, which is located in The Hague, last year indicted Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes over the forced deportation of Ukrainian children during Russia’s war in Ukraine.

    In her meeting with Pashinyan, she [Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development] spoke of Washington’s deep commitment “to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and democracy of Armenia,” signaling Washington’s support for Armenia as it faces a massive influx of displaced people, and the final loss of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that has immense political, cultural and emotional significance to Armenians. […] the United States would direct resources to help the government provide refuge and support for those leaving the area, and “also to encourage other countries to do the same.”

    […] Pashinyan initially claimed there was “no direct threat” to the Armenian population of Nagorno- Karabakh but in a televised address Sunday he said there was a risk of mass murder. [Genocide]

  230. Reginald Selkirk says


    Can COVID, Flu, and RSV Shots Be Given at the Same Time?

    … — so the big question is, can they get them all at once?

    Since there are no data on giving this trio of vaccines at the same time, most experts advise a different strategy.

    Take flu and COVID together, they told MedPage Today. The CDC endorses this, as there’s evidence and experience that people can take this combination just fine.

    There’s also some evidence from the clinical trials of the two RSV vaccines that it’s okay to give flu and RSV shots together, said William Schaffner, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, who is also a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).

    But Schaffner told MedPage Today that some practitioners may be “a little bit more cautious about giving RSV along with the others,” and there “may not be too many people who want to get all three at the same time.”

    “If there’s one [shot] that doctors might want to treat separately, it might be this newbie [RSV], because there simply hasn’t been that much experience with it,” he said…

  231. says

    Reginald @284, good information. Thanks.

    In other news, NBC News reports:

    President Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday that France will end its military presence in Niger and pull its ambassador out of the country as a result of the coup that removed the democratically elected president.

  232. says

    Weirdness, as reported by NBC News:

    Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan complained this week that he was uncomfortable with the use of what he described as ‘LGBT colors’ at the United Nations, which is decorated this week with bright colors promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. […]

    There are 17 colors. It’s a lovely display. Photo at the link.

  233. says

    Fox News host did not expect his Biden conspiracy to get blown apart on live TV

    At the heart of every single Republican conspiracy about both President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine is a single claim. The claim is that Joe Biden got Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin sacked in order to protect energy company Burisma, where Hunter Biden was on the board.

    That was the claim former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani brought back from Ukraine, and the basis on which Donald Trump tried to blackmail Ukraine and earned his first impeachment. Also, because Republicans keep saying things long after they know, we know, and they know we know that they’re lying, this claim is also behind the hearings being led by Rep. Jim Jordan in the House. It’s behind the messages being pushed by Rep. James Comer and Sen. Chuck Grassley. And it’s the basis of an improbable number of stories at Fox News.

    The idea that Shokin was fired to protect Burisma has been debunked so many times that de bunk is exhausted, but it has seldom gone down with as much grim satisfaction as it did on Sunday when Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade interviewed former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. [video at the link]

    Kilmeade: Is that why he got fired? Because of the billion dollars and the former vice president, now president?

    Poroshenko: First of all, this is a completely crazy person. This is something wrong with him. Second, there is not one single word of truth. And third, I hate the idea to make any comments and to make any intervention in the American election. We have very much enjoyed bipartisan support. Please do not use such person like Shokin to undermine the trust between bipartisan support and Ukraine.

    It helps to get the laughter flowing if you know that Kilmeade is a near-constant spouter of this false claim who has been treating Shokin as a fount of wisdom. As for Shokin, in his portion of the recording, he states the Republican claim quite succinctly.

    “Poroshenko fired me,” said Shokin, “at the insistence of the then-Vice President Biden because I was investigating Burisma. There were no complaints whatsoever and no problems with how I was performing at my job.”

    Well, that seems like something that might be checked out. We can start with a Financial Times article where officials from a number of nations (not just the U.S.) sought the removal of Shokin for months before Biden ever became involved because Shokin was not investigating potential corruption cases, including Burisma, and was suspected of being corrupt himself. In addition to U.S. and E.U. officials, senior officials from the International Monetary Fund called for reforms because widespread corruption in Ukraine was seen as the country’s biggest obstacle to growth and stability.

    And there was one other group really pushing for Shokin’s removal, as CNN reported in 2019. That group was the Senate Ukraine Caucus, where Republican member Sens. Rob Portman, Mark Kirk, and Ron Johnson dispatched a letter urging Poroshenko to “press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General’s Office.”

    Shokin’s own deputy testified that there was no active investigation into Burisma at the time of Biden’s actions. And not only was all this looked into as part of Trump’s impeachment, a Republican investigation launched in 2020 specifically to find any wrongdoing by Biden ended in an 87-page report that “contained no evidence that the elder Mr. Biden improperly manipulated American policy toward Ukraine or committed any other misdeed.”

    The claim that Biden did something wrong in Ukraine wasn’t true, isn’t true, and can’t be made true through repetition. Shokin was fired because he was corrupt, bad at his job, and everyone complained.

    As The Washington Post points out, Fox News and Republicans come out of this looking extremely foolish, though no one should expect them to admit it. They are deeply invested in this lie. In 2020, Republicans looked into this idea and realized it was baseless. But then, 2020 was a year when some Republicans still thought they could pull their party away from Trump and chart a course back to a world where they had both policies and a platform. Connections between Republicans and reality have become much more tenuous since then.

    They’ll keep promoting the lie, because without it everything that Jordan, Comer, Grassley, and the rest are doing is revealed as pointless political theater in support of a lie. They know that we know that they know they are lying.

    It helps that they don’t care.

    I should apologize for bolding so much text for emphasis, but I am well and heartily tired of hearing Fox News and Republicans repeating that particular set of lies. It was really nice to see Poroshenko be so blunt.

  234. says

    Ukraine Update: Abrams is in the house, by Mark Sumner.

    On Monday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted that American M1 Abrams tanks were “already in Ukraine and are preparing to reinforce our brigades.” This confirmed a statement that President Joe Biden made last week when he indicated the tanks were to arrive within days.

    It was only in May that Ukrainian troops began training in the operation and maintenance of the United States’ main battle tank, and some had suggested that the tanks were unlikely to see combat before the end of the year. However, it appears that timeline has now been busted. According to The New York Times, the arrival is “months ahead” of earlier estimates and means that the Abrams tanks are on hand in time to become involved in the counteroffensive Ukraine is conducting in Zaporizhzhia.

    However, it’s not clear how soon those tanks will make their way to the front. Other Western tanks have often been retrofitted with cages to help protect against drones and with additional armor to guard against anti-tank weapons. That’s true of even the British Challenger 2, which arrived in Ukraine as one of the most heavily armored tanks in use. It’s likely that the Abrams will also receive some Ukraine-centric upgrades before it sees combat.

    The 31 M1 Abrams tanks are unlikely to redefine operations along the front line any more than the Challenger 2, Leopard 2, or other Western-provided tanks. The pace of operations in the counteroffensive is being controlled at the moment by the difficulty of clearing thickly planted minefields and dealing with swarms of kamikaze drones. Those two things have gone a long way in turning operations in and around Robotyne and Verbove into an infantry-forward fight where tanks are not making as much impact as might be expected on either offense or defense.

    However, there are some indications that Russia expended the majority of its mines ahead of those first defensive lines, and that minefields are becoming rarer and sparser as Ukraine penetrates more of the “Surovikin lines,” strong defensive lines named after Russian Gen. Sergey Surovikin. For example, some satellite images show a large number of vehicle tracks crossing fields in multiple places south of Verbove—which would be unlikely if Russia had those fields heavily mined.

    There is still a chance, and maybe even a likelihood, that at some point in the future Ukraine could reach a point where those M1 Abrams could be used in a genuine tank-supported breakthrough.

    […] it’s amazing how much of the world’s rolling stock is currently represented on the front lines of Ukraine. Other than China’s Type 99 and the South Korean K2 Black Panther, just about the only representative of current main battle tanks not pulling up to the front lines in Zaporizhzhya is the French Leclerc (which France isn’t sending because their numbers are few and there’s no new tank ready to replace them).

    […] Tank designers are going to learn a lot from what happens in the coming weeks. A lot. Most of that won’t be about how these tanks perform in massed attacks against other tanks. It’s going to be about preserving the all-important crew when confronting mines, artillery, anti-tank weapons, and FPV drones. It’ll be about the changing role of armor on the battlefield.

    Still, every now and then one of these tanks is going to get the chance to direct its gun at some Russian counterpart. That will be interesting, if brief.

    In any case, the M1 Abrams has arrived in Ukraine. It’s unclear how many of the expected 31 tanks have been delivered. Regardless, expect Russia to announce it has destroyed 147 of them by Thursday. [Heh. Liking the dark humor.]
    [Tweet, videos, and map at the link: More information about yesterday’s Khalino military airfield incident. As per Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine: “At the airfield “Khalino” in the Kursk region, a Ukrainian drone was landed by Russian electronic warfare systems on the runway. When the leadership of the aviation regiment and FSB officers arrived for closer inspection drone exploded. As claimed, the following were killed or injured during the explosion”:
    → commander of the 14th aviation regiment;
    → one of his deputies;
    → a group of aviator officers;
    → a representative of the FSB military counterintelligence;
    → airport employees.]

    This story from concerning a drone reportedly brought down through electronic warfare near the city of Kursk, Russia, supposedly goes back to a source within Russian intelligence. It’s being widely reported, but there doesn’t seem to be any official confirmation of these events from either Ukraine or Russia, so keep in mind that some aspects of this story may represent either fanciful reporting or deliberate misinformation.

    Still, if true, it shows how a drone can end up doing more valuable damage after being “captured.” If not true … it’s a pretty good propaganda piece designed to make Russia think twice about closely inspecting Ukrainian drones.
    Republican Sen. Mike Lee wants to know who let the corgis out. [Tweet at the link: Someone’s behind the pro-Ukraine troll campaign known as “NAFO.” Who is it? A few possible candidates have been suggested. Which one seems most likely to you?
    Pentagon Contractor, 10.4%
    CIA Contractor, 43.9%
    Ukraine (using U.S. $), 20.7%

    Lee insists that there is some nefarious force—not skipping the side order of antisemitism—behind the online effort to troll Russian military bloggers, tankies, and bots. And it’s hard to decide if he’s being grotesque or merely harebrained. Maybe a little of both. In any case, it’s always interesting to see a U.S. senator so clearly taking directions from Russia.

    Once upon a time, when British secret service officers were being recruited to spy for the Soviet Union, they would occasionally be shown a glorious Order of Lenin or other big reward that was awaiting them on that day when their task was over and they were at last allowed to defect to the motherland. Considering some of Lee’s solo trips to Moscow, it seems possible that Vladimir Putin might have tipped open a box to give Lee a glimpse of an oh-so-shiny Hero of the Russian Federation just waiting for his special day. [Heh. More black humor. Unfortunately, probably on the nose this time. Putin wing of the Republican Party.]
    Fighting continues to be heavy in the area around Verbove, where Ukrainian forces have occupied the second Surovikin Line and reportedly moved into the western part of the village. […] Ukraine has consolidated its gains around Robotyne and north of the first line of defensive trenches. Now the struggle is to clear more of the defenses in that second line, secure the town of Verbove along with local high ground, and prepare to move on.

    Self-described Ukrainian military officer Tatarigami_UA has put together a thread showing the combined use of several forms of available data to determine the current situation. [Tweet and map at the link]

    Out of this, the most important message may be: “I want to emphasize that russian defense has not collapsed. Despite enduring substantial losses and being compelled to retreat, they still maintained control over their forces and afforded organized retreat, continuing to present a formidable challenge to our forces.”

    Russian hasn’t been routed, but it is retreating. Satellite imagery appears to show Russian vehicles heading south out of Verbove. However, if accurate, that shouldn’t be taken as any signal that the village has been abandoned, or that Russia has in any sense surrendered the area. Ukraine has also taken some heavy losses as it has moved into Verbove and the fight at the moment is described as exceptionally difficult. Ukraine may take Verbove in days, or they may be still working to control this area for some time. NASA FIRMS data suggests the area to the northeast of Verbove, where a series of trenches are known to exist, is currently being pounded. [List of losses at the link]

    The official areas of control are about where they were last week, but there are reasons to believe that Ukraine has taken areas both inside the town and to the north. On Saturday, it was reported that Ukraine had moved armored vehicles (reportedly including BMPs and Bradleys) across the second line of defenses and used them in the attack on Verbove, supposedly losing several vehicles in the process. The losses are definitely not good. However, that Ukraine is able to bring these vehicles to the fight shows that their control over those defensive lines has expanded and is solid at this point. It also suggests that the minefields around Verbove are not nearly as dense as those north of Robotyne. [Tweets at the link]

    In the area south of Bakhmut, Ukraine continues to hold Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the face of repeated Russian assaults. Considering the Ukrainian guns positioned on high ridges west of the town, dislodging Ukraine from this area would take a considerable effort, but Russians are reportedly lining up a big swing designed to recapture some of this territory. Ukraine’s public concerns about this reported upcoming assault could be real, or they could be taunting Russian commanders who have repeatedly launched failed and costly attacks from the east.
    In case you’re in the mood to start your own Russian military, you can snap up this MiG-21 for less than the cost of a late-model Cessna.

    Why show up at your next conference in a Learjet when you can smash some windows with your supersonic arrival? Missiles not included.
    Imagine lining up enough drones to have this coming across the battlefield Doctor Manhattan-style? [Tweet and video at the link, showing the Grand Opening Ceremony of the 19th Asian games in Hangzhou, china on September 23, 2023.]
    As this was being written, air raid sirens were sounding in Sevastopol. Ukraine is reportedly mounting another attack on Russian military targets in Crimea.

  235. says

    News flash for Republicans:

    House Republican extremists holding the government hostage want you to believe that they just want to “rein in” government spending and “get our fiscal house in order.” One former legislative counsel for Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul even advises, “A good old government shutdown is exactly what we need right now,” arguing that it will “push the budget closer to balance.”

    Then there’s reality: Shutting down the government costs taxpayers billions of dollars in lost fees, revenue, administrative costs to both shut down and start government agencies back up, and back pay for furloughed federal employees. It means small businesses can’t get loans from the federal government for the duration. It will delay people from getting federally backed home loans. And while the Republican-controlled House is fiddling around doing nothing to solve the pending shutdown, it’s also not reauthorizing a bunch of other programs with a direct impact on people’s lives.

    According to a 2019 investigation by a Senate subcommittee, “the last three government shutdowns cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion—at least $3.7 billion in back pay to furloughed federal workers, and at least $338 million in other costs associated with the shutdowns, including extra administrative work, lost revenue, and late fees on interest payments.” Everything from entrance fees at national parks to souvenir sales at gift shops shuts down, along with the government.

    Some of the largest agencies couldn’t provide estimates on the shutdowns’ cost to their operations, including the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Justice, and Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency. But among the agencies that did report, the figures for lost days of work are eye-popping and indicate “the combined total of furlough days during all three shutdowns was about 14,859,144, representing an estimated 56,938 years of lost productivity for those agency employees.”

    […] Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale, one of the GOP hard-liners pushing a shutdown over fiscal terms, downplayed the impact. “The government continues on, business as usual,” he said. “When we have these supposed shutdowns, it’s more like a slowdown.” It’s true that the government continues on, business as usual, for him and other members of Congress—they’ll still be getting paid. The hundreds of thousands of federal workers who will be furloughed, however, won’t get a paycheck for as long as the shutdown continues.

    Compounding the looming shutdown is the fact that the House has been too chaotic to accomplish most of what it was supposed to do by now. For instance, they haven’t passed a farm bill, which means that a bunch of programs—including crop insurance, nutrition programs such as SNAP, rural development funds, and agricultural research and conservation programs—expire at the end of the week. Flood insurance and disaster relief funds are also drying up as the clock ticks down.

    Grants and other funding for child care programs expire at the end of the week. The authorization for welfare benefits, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, expires as well. Without congressional action, hospitals around the country that take a disproportionate share of Medicaid patients will see as much as a 54% cut in reimbursements beginning next month.

    All of this has an impact not just on millions of lives, but on the economy. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 35-day shutdown in 2019 lowered the gross domestic product by a total of $11 billion for the first half of that year, and estimated that $3 billion of that would never be recovered. […]


    Hurting almost everyone, costing taxpayers billions of dollars, and not accomplishing the Republican’s stated goal of “reining in” government spending. As good an example of shooting themselves in foot (feet?) as we’ve seen.

  236. says

    So now Ramaswamy is also a proven plagiarist: Vivek Ramaswamy Plagiarized (Word for Word) from 2019 Article in Foreign Policy Magazine, Plus More

    [image of example at the link]

    Vivek Ramaswamy is a serial plagiarizer who has no original ideas so plagiarizes (steals) material. In his tweet, Vivek plagiarized (word-for-word) a 2019 article in Foreign Policy magazine, and that’s not all. Vivek’s main campaign slogans are plagiarized from successful politicians: President FDR, President Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders, & President FDR. In August, Vivek got caught plagiarizing from President Obama during the Maga/GOP debate. [More examples at the link]

    Vivek’s plagiarism of Bernie Sanders is particularly disturbing. Whereas Bernie’s “Revolution” was/is about improving the American experiment by pushing for equity for all Americans, in all facets: Wages, Healthcare, Education etc. Vivek’s “Revolution” requires destroying and ravaging the entire American experiment & being left with nothing but dust. [image at the link] Notice in his plagiarism of President Lincoln, the 38 year Vivek even uses the same ‘side profile’ photo as Lincoln.

    […] In Aug 2023, the 38-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy had spent his entire adult life as a hedge fund grifter. In fact, by August 2023, Vivek:
    – Vivek paid Wiki editors to scrub his wiki page,
    – His SuperPAC was formed (Feb 17, 2023)
    – Had never engaged in any public service in his entire life,
    – Had never advocated for any policy—ever,
    – Had never registered to vote as “Republican” (and still isn’t),
    – Had never voted in any primary election,
    – Had never voted in any state or local election,
    – He made millions Insider Trading: pump/dump scamming investors with his fake-Alzeheimer’s drugs
    – Incorporated his two main companies Roivant, and Axiovant in Bermuda to avoid paying US taxes, (not in America).

    That’s a lot of words to say Vivek Ramaswamy is a serial plagiarizer who has no original ideas so plagiarizes (steals) material.

  237. says

    Weird news!

    Trump spox idiot Steven Cheung posted a video earlier — link now go POOF! for some mysterious reason — from a campaign stop at the Palmetto State Armory in Summerville, South Carolina, saying Trump had bought a Glock.

    The meaning of the now deleted tweet isn’t really up for interpretation, unless you want to haggle over what the meaning of “purchase” is, or unless you make it a policy to never believe Donald Trump has actually paid for something unless you personally witnessed him actually handing over the money, in which case you are SMRT. [Tweet and image at the link]

    It was a whole thing. Here are some screengrabs from the video: [Screen grabs at the link]

    Oooooooooh! What do you have there? Is it Big Mac is it Diet Coke is it 11,780 votes is it [P-Word] is it gun?

    Smile with your new gun friend, Donald! No, a real smile.

    OK fine, guess that’s your real smile. Fuck it. School picture day must have been garbage in the Trump household.

    OK, time for a silly one! Gun friend will hold the real gun and you hold your finger like a gun and and we’ll both close our eyes and we’ll point them at each other like “PEW PEW PEW!” [JFC!]

    Gun friends like to joke around and have fun.

    […] So in the (now deleted) video, Trump says “I want to buy one.” But did he? And did they even have a Glock that would fit hands that little?

    Well, funny story! Or maybe not funny.

  238. Reginald Selkirk says


    No, Donald Trump did not buy a gun in South Carolina. Here’s what happened when he saw a Glock.

    No, Donald Trump did not buy a gun during his trip to South Carolina on Monday – he only said he wanted to.

    Social media lit up after the Trump campaign posted a video of him admiring a gun with a likeness of him branded onto it. A now-deleted post said the former president “purchases” a Glock, which was dubbed “Trump 45.”

    “I want to buy one,” Trump said at one point. “Isn’t a Glock a great gun?”

    Trump posed for pictures with the gun – his entourage included Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – but he did not actually buy it.

    That would have been illegal because Trump is under indictment in four criminal cases…

  239. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #294…
    Randall Garrett in his book Too Many Magicians does some word play on that. There is a character named Neapeler Einzig living on the Isle of Man, who sends word to his niece using a Manxman named Colin MacDaffyd as a courier. It all ties in with the series that was MacCallum’s first big hit.

  240. says

    Followup to comment 298.

    Cassidy Hutchinson says it’s a ‘make or break moment’ for the Republican Party to stand against Trump

    Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, said on Monday that it’s a “make-or-break” moment for the Republican Party to take a stand against former President Trump ahead of the 2024 election.

    During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Hutchinson told host Rachel Maddow that while she still considers herself a Republican, she doesn’t believe that her former employer is a “Strong Republican.”

    “I do not believe that Mr. Trump is a strong Republican. But in this election cycle, in my opinion, it’s a make-or-break moment for the Republican Party,” Hutchinson told Maddow. “Now is the time if these politicians, these men and some women, that are currently in Congress want to make the break and want to take the stand, they have to do it now.”

    Hutchinson also said that she doesn’t understand why Republican lawmakers are still willing to support Trump, even with the ongoing controversy and legal challenges that surround him.

    “I think it’s extremely disappointing, and it’s not a hard issue to take. We’re talking about a man who at the very essence of his being almost destroyed democracy in one day and he wants to do it again. He wants to run for President to do it again,” Hutchinson added.

    “He has been indicted four times since January 6. I would not have a clear conscience and be able to sleep at night if I were a Republican in Congress that supported Donald Trump,” she concluded. “And I think that if they’re not willing to split with that, then we’re in serious danger for the party.”

    It’s been a year since Hutchinson, who was an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the now defunct select committee investigating the Jan 6., 2021 attacks at the Capitol. She was the first member of the Trump administration to do so.

    Hutchinson’s remarks come a month after Trump, along with 18 of his allies, were indicted by a Georgia grand jury on charges tied to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

    […] Hutchinson’s appearance on Maddow’s program was focused on her new book, titled “Enough,” which details her experience working under the Trump administration and the events that lead to her testifying before Congress.

    Hutchinson’s new book is set to publish on Tuesday.

  241. KG says

    Ten years to commercially-produced fusion energy? That sounds ambitious and probably unlikely. – Reginald Selkirk@279

    I’d say “complete and utter crap” is nearer the mark.

  242. Reginald Selkirk says

    Supreme Court allows drawing of new Alabama congressional map to proceed, rejecting state’s plea

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the drawing of a new Alabama congressional map with greater representation for Black voters to proceed, rejecting the state’s plea to retain Republican-drawn lines that were struck down by a lower court.

    In refusing to intervene, the justices, without any noted dissent, allowed a court-appointed special master’s work to continue. On Monday, he submitted three proposals that would create a second congressional district where Black voters comprise a majority of the voting age population or close to it…

    Federal lawsuits over state and congressional districts also are pending in Georgia, Louisiana and Texas…

  243. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine’s Security Service directs HIMARS at meeting at Russians’ HQ near Kherson, 8 officers killed

    Ukraine’s Defence Forces targeted the temporary command post of the Russians in Kherson Oblast, following a tip-off from the Security Service of Ukraine.

    Source: Ukrainska Pravda source in the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU)

    Details: The video of the recent explosion in the temporary command post of the Russians near Kherson was provided by a source to the UP.

    Reportedly, thanks to the tip-off from the SSU, the HIMARS missile “visited” the daily meeting of Russian officers of the 24th Motorised Rifle Regiment of the 70th Motorised Rifle Division.

    Quote: “The meeting ended early: eight officers ended as 200 and seven ended as 300 [military slang terms; 200 means killed in action, and 300 means wounded – ed.].”

  244. says

    A discussion of how Trump is really worse than he was in 2019, … and still going downhill:

    In the same way that the United States is not immune from the ravages of political violence, it has no special ability to put the toothpaste of political violence back in the tube once it’s unleashed.

    Make no mistake: It has been unleashed.

    “Trump’s real, enduring legacy is his successful introduction of violence, the threat of violence, and targeted harassment into the dynamics of our political system, as if they were all just a natural extension of democratic disagreement,” Juliette Kayyem rightly observed in The Atlantic this summer.

    The past few days have reinforced how unhinged Trump has continued to become and how political violence is the core of his message and for many his central appeal. Since Friday, Trump has:
    – Suggested the country’s top general should be executed for treason;
    – Threatened retaliation against one of the country’s largest media companies for “Country Threatening Treason“;
    – Urged Republicans in Congress to shut down the government, as “the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me and other Patriots,” and later ominously said: “It’s time Republicans learned how to fight!” against “the Radical Left Marxists, Fascists and Thugs – THE DEMOCRATS.”

    The Trump of today is not the same as the Trump of 2019 or even the Trump of Jan. 6. He is cornered, under indictment, facing the deprivation of his liberty if convicted – and winning the presidency is his only way out. He will stop at nothing, do anything, and tear down everything to protect himself.

    I don’t usually find myself pointing you to Nick Catoggio, but he had a thoughtful post on these developments:

    Strive to resist numbness. Because despite all the blather about Biden and Trump being the two most known “known quantities” in politics, we actually don’t know how dangerous and destabilizing Trump might prove to be as his mind bends under the strain of an election and four indictments. Or whether it’ll break entirely once he’s back in power and surrounded by the most obsequious fascist toadies he can find.



  245. says

    Scroll down at the link in comment 303 to view interviews with Cassidy Hutchinson.

    She rejects Matt Gaetz’s claim that he dated her: “I have much higher standards in men.”

    She describes the reckless and careless handling of classified materials during the Trump administration.

    “Cass, I don’t want you to go to work on January 6th. Are you looking at the news? Crazy people are going to that rally.“ — Cassidy Hutchinson’s mom mastering open-source intelligence five days before Jan. 6.

  246. says

    What’s Aileen Cannon Up To Now?

    After weeks of delay, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has finally scheduled a Garcia hearing in the Mar-a-Lago case to address the conflicts of interest of defense counsel. But she did so in a way that renews concerns about her experience, competence, and diligence:
    – Cannon set the hearing for Oct. 12, meaning an additional delay of 2 1/2 weeks plus whatever time she needs after that to issue a ruling. Not having the witnesses or standby counsel present at the hearing risks further delays if she later decides she does need their participation.
    – Cannon denied Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request for the witnesses who have conflicted counsel to appear for the hearing.
    – Cannon denied Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request to have standby counsel available for defendants with conflicted counsel to confer.

    Big picture is these are routine matters that are usually handled expeditiously, and they’re not here. More granularly, Cannon seems grudging and resistant to even routine moves by the special counsel’s team. (For a deeper dive, read Joyce Vance.)

    In this instance, the prosecutor is trying to protect his case and the court’s resources from an attack on the verdict later by one of the defendants on the grounds that they had insufficient legal representation under the Sixth Amendment, so how she handles it is important even if it is, or should be, routine.

    Scroll down at the link in comment 303 to view “What’s Aileen Cannon Up To Now?”

  247. birgerjohansson says

    Half of North America is one big delta island.
    Orinoco and the Amazon river are also connected to one of these bifurcated rivers.
    Bifurcations are usually found at river deltas or at small river islands and very rarely elsewhere.

  248. says

    Previous Guy’s Clear and Present Danger affirmed by Cassidy Hutchinson

    With Monday’s Maddow interview of Cassidy Hutchinson, we know that Previous Guy, “…chanted along with insurrectionists demanding to “hang Mike Pence” as he watched on live TV during the January 6 attacks.

    “We all should want the republic to survive. But in the way that Mr. Trump’s trajectory is currently going, I am not confident he will have it survive and I would just encourage them to think about that.” […]

    Posted by Aaron Rupar, with accompanying video snippet:

    Cassidy Hutchinson on MSNBC: “Do we want people who have already shown that they are willing and want to overthrow an election for a duly elected president, which is the pinnacle of our democracy — do we want to put people like that back in power?”

  249. says

    EU warns Musk after X found to have highest rate of disinformation of all big social media platforms

    From today’s The Guardian and EURACTIV:

    Elon Musk has been warned by the EU Commission to comply with sweeping new laws on fake news and Russian propaganda after his site formerly known as Twitter was found to have the highest rate of disinformation posts of all large social media platforms.

    Facebook was the second-worst offender, according to the first-ever report recording posts that will be deemed illegal across the EU under the new Digital Services Act which came into force in August.

    However, Facebook and other tech giants such as Google, TikTok and Microsoft, have signed up to a code of practice which the EU has drawn up to ensure they could be ready in time to operate within the confines of the new laws.

    Twitter/X left the code of practice, but is obliged under the new law to comply with the rules or face a ban across the EU.

    Google-owned YouTube has told the EU that it has removed more than 400 channels involved in co-ordinated influence operations linked to the Russian state-sponsored Internet Research Agency.

    Google has removed advertising from almost 300 sites linked to state-funded propaganda sites.

    Meta has expanded its fact-checking to 26 partners covering 22 languages in the EU.

    TikTok fact-checking covers Russian, Ukrainian and 17 other languages via a new partnership with the Reuters news agency.

    Microsoft has downgraded questionable information in relation to 800,000 search queries. about the war in Ukraine.

    Commissioner Jourová said the Kremlin propaganda was a multimillion-euro weapon of mass manipulation aimed both internally at the Russians as well as Europeans and the rest of the world and the very large platforms must address this risk. The war in Ukraine was the most frequent topic for propaganda but the platforms also reported hate speech in relation to migration, LBGTQ+ communities and the climate crisis.

    “I think one of the advantages of disinformation is that they are so predictable,” said Jourová, making it easier for factcheckers to find. On Twitter/X, she said “disinformation actors were found to have significantly more followers than their non-disinformation counterparts and tend to have joined the platform more recently than non-disinformation users”.

    Failure to comply with the new EU law could lead to hefty fines of up to 6% of the company’s global annual turnover and in case of repeated offences or willful non-compliance to a complete ban across the entire EU.

    The decisive moment will come at the end of the year when very large online platforms must publish their first risk assessment to be audited by external auditors. However, Twitter/X’s ability to comply must be called into question after its wholesale dismantling of existing transparency and safety features.

    However, unlike the other large tech companies, Europe has never been a major market for Twitter/X — its market in the UK, which has now left the EU, is worth roughly as much, if not more, as the entire EU.

    Predicably, Twitter/X replied to both The Guardian’s and EURACTIV’s request for comment with a poop emoji.

  250. says

    EXCLUSIVE: 5th Circuit’s Craven Ruling In Biden Social Media Case Was A ‘Clerical Error’

    The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this morning abruptly withdrew Monday’s order giving red states a chance for an even bigger win in a case that has blocked much of the Biden administration from flagging misinformation on social media sites.

    The 5th Circuit’s Clerk of Court told TPM that the original order was a “clerical error.”

    A three-judge panel had on Monday quickly granted the red states a rehearing as they seek to get another couple government agencies blocked from communicating with the tech companies. The judges did so without giving the government a chance to respond, seeming to run afoul of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure that govern the court.

    After the court withdrew that order Tuesday in a stunning turnaround, the court’s clerk told TPM that the withdrawal corrected a staff error.

    “The order today cures a clerical error made by my staff,” Clerk Lyle Cayce said in an email. “The court intended yesterday only to permit the filing of a motion for panel rehearing — but the order we entered made it appear that a rehearing was granted. That was erroneous and not in accordance with direction.”

    “As you know, the mandate was issued forthwith, and the parties are still within the time permitted to request rehearing,” he added. “So, the order today withdrew the erroneous order and recalled the mandate, giving the court jurisdiction to consider any petition for rehearing filed by noon, September 28.”

    The about-face by the appeals court appeared to come after the Justice Department, which is defending the government in the case, had brought the latest developments to the attention of the Supreme Court, which was already considering its stay request. In a blistering memorandum to the high court, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar described the irregular move by the Fifth Circuit panel as a “procedural impropriety,” “unreasoned” and “unexplained.”

    “Although Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 40(a)(3) provides that ‘no response to a petition for panel rehearing is permitted’ ‘[u]nless the court requests’ one and that ‘[o]rdinarily, rehearing will not be granted in the absence of such a request,’ the Fifth Circuit never requested a response from the government,” Prelogar wrote. “And although the Fifth Circuit had already issued its mandate — thereby divesting itself of authority over the case — the court also did not purport to recall the mandate or explain why that step would be justified.”

    By late this morning, the 5th Circuit panel addressed Prelogar’s complaints by giving the government a chance to respond to the petition — due Thursday at noon — and recalling its mandate, essentially shifting jurisdiction back into its own hands. It also asserted that the district court ruling would remain on ice until the rehearing petition is resolved, which is something the Justice Department has originally asked for and been denied.

    In an additional procedural wrinkle, these flip-flopping orders come as the Biden administration had already appealed the panel’s ruling to the Supreme Court, where it’s also requesting a stay. In Monday’s filing, Prelogar asked that the government’s stay request be applied to any expansion of the panel’s original ruling.

    “A stay of any expanded injunction would also be warranted because of the procedural impropriety of substantially expanding the injunction after issuance of the mandate and without giving the government an opportunity to be heard,” she wrote.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Judges overshoot, hear about it from their bosses at FedSoc, then underbuss some staff…

  251. says

    Biden becomes first sitting US president to visit labor strike picket line

    When President Joe Biden arrived at a Michigan picket line Tuesday, it was the first time a sitting U.S. president is known to have done so, historians say. Biden made the trip at the invitation of United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain, who accompanied him as he spoke to striking workers.

    “You guys, UAW, you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before. You made a lot of sacrifices, gave a lot when the companies were in trouble, and now they’re doing incredibly well. And guess what, you should be doing incredibly well too,” Biden said, who was at times drowned out by applause. “You deserve a significant raise you need, and other benefits. Let’s get back what we lost, okay? We saved them, it’s about time for them to step up for us.” [video at the link]

    Biden’s visit to Michigan came a day ahead of a Donald Trump speech that was initially billed as outreach to union workers but is being held at a nonunion auto parts manufacturer. Trump is trying to play the populist and the stronger job-creator, but it rings false on both fronts:

    With Biden and Trump both courting auto workers in MI today, a quick refresher on auto industry jobs created/month under recent presidents.
    *Clinton: 1,800
    *Bush: -5,800
    *Obama: 2,800
    *Trump (pre-Covid): 600
    *Trump (total): -200
    *Biden: 4,000 [graph at the link]

    While the UAW has not yet endorsed Biden for reelection, Fain strongly rebuffed Trump’s efforts to portray himself as an ally of union workers.

    “Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” Fain said in a statement shared with news organizations when Trump announced his Michigan speech. “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don’t have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.”

    During Trump’s time in the White House, his record was one of hostility to workers and unions, even as he occasionally claimed to be on the side of workers for political advantage. Trump’s administration, the Economic Policy Institute summarized, “rolled back worker protections, proposed budgets that slash funding for agencies that safeguard workers’ rights, wages, and safety, and consistently attacked workers’ ability to organize and collectively bargain.”

    Yep. All correct.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Well done Mr. President. It’s hilarious that the former rancid Chee-toh guy is showing his support for the UAW and the strikers by giving a MAGA rally whine at a non-union parts supplier.
    Kudos to Biden. The real election issue boils down to BidenEconmics vs MAGAeconomics. MAGAeconomics is based on the “trickle down theory” brought to us by President Reagan. The trickle down theory has never worked for working people and never will. Let’s vote for BidenEconomics.
    “But he’s old” *snark* He’s gonna get my vote!
    One of my favorite Joe Biden moments of all time, happening right now. Yes!
    I hope the strike resolves soon, and on terms that are decent enough for the UAW.

  252. says

    On Monday, Sen. Josh Hawley became the rare high-profile Republican to visit a United Auto Workers picket line. But don’t rush to give him credit for supporting workers: Hawley used the occasion to slam efforts to fight climate change, pitting American workers against the environment.

    Hawley, like Donald Trump and some other Republicans, points to China’s big head start in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing to suggest that the U.S. shouldn’t promote electric vehicles, because they’ll just be manufactured in China. Democrats, on the other hand, are fighting—against fierce Republican resistance—to build the domestic supply chain and support U.S. manufacturing. The Inflation Reduction Act included provisions to support electric vehicle and battery production in this country. A shift to electric vehicles could cut jobs, it’s true—but doing it the right way, with policy supports in place, could mean more auto jobs, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis.

    Republicans want to block climate efforts and then wail about how Democrats are harming workers—and that was Hawley’s real intent in bragging about his support for the UAW strikers. [Tweet and images at the link]

    Hawley’s ulterior motive is clear when you look at his record: Hawley, a Missouri Republican, has a 0% agreement rating in the most recent United Autoworkers Labor Union scorecard.

    Hawley has a lifetime score of 12% on the AFL-CIO legislative scorecard, though he did score a whopping 17% in 2022. That’s below the Senate Republican average. One visit to the picket line to claim that he thinks autoworkers should be paid better—and that climate change initiatives are to blame for their situation—does not make him some hero of the working class.


  253. says

    Yes, Rudy Giuliani is being hit with yet another lawsuit.

    Hunter Biden has filed a civil suit against Rudy Giuliani, a number of shell companies through which Giuliani does business, and Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello. The suit charges Giuliani and Costello with violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, specifically accessing Hunter Biden’s personal information “without authorization or exceeding authorized access,” resulting in the “total annihilation” of his digital privacy.

    Additionally, the suit reminds the court—and everyone else—that for all the talk of “Hunter Biden’s laptop,” there is no laptop. There never was. Instead, “Defendants themselves admit that their purported possession of a ‘laptop’ is in fact not a ‘laptop’ at all. It is, according to their own public statements, an ‘external drive’ that Defendants were told contained hundreds of gigabytes of Plaintiff’s personal data.”

    According to Giuliani, the data on that drive came from John Paul Mac Isaac, the former owner of a computer repair shop, who claimed to have data taken from one of Hunter Biden’s laptops and who offered to send it to Giuliani. According to the lawsuit, neither Isaac nor Giuliani ever maintained any kind of chain of custody on this data, and the data they have has been not just accessed but also tampered with, manipulated, altered, and damaged.

    The basis of the lawsuit is the claim that Giuliani and Costello violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by accessing the data stored on the external drive sent to them by Isaac. Hunter Biden specifically does not admit that all the data on the drive was ever in his possession, or that Isaac was ever actually in possession of a laptop that Biden had owned.

    What the lawsuit alleges of Giuliani seems patently obvious.

    Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges for the past many months Defendant Giuliani has spent many hours hacking into and manipulating data that he claims to have been obtained from Plaintiff, making copies of the data for himself and others to access and analyze, and further altering, impairing and damaging the data through his unlawful hacking and manipulation. In public interviews and media appearances and during podcasts, Defendant Giuliani has not only admitted but bragged about downloading data from Plaintiff’s “laptop” (even though he only had a hard drive) onto his own computer; about using his own computer to access, tamper with and manipulate the downloaded data; and about maintaining multiple copies of the data for his and Defendant Costello’s personal use.

    [Yep, that sound like Giuliani’s modus operandi.]

    […] It’s clear that both men have repeatedly accessed the information, that Giuliani has hired others in an attempt to recover more information from the hard drive, and that the data has been altered and tampered with at least to the extent of being edited into pieces that Giuliani has provided to the media or used on his own podcast.

    The move to try the suit in California is particularly important for the second claim made in the suit, which addresses how Giuliani obtained information from the hard drive that allowed him to access more information that was stored on Hunter Biden’s “cloud” accounts. That kind of violation is specifically addressed in California’s penal code. Hunter Biden also notes that this data came from a computer used for business purposes, a critical point in providing protections under both federal and California law. […]


  254. says

    How Many Senate Democrats Calling For Corrupt Bob Menendez’s Resignation? Almost All Of Them, Katie!

    […] Sen. Bob Menendez from New Jersey was indicted last week for bribery, corruption, and a not-so-secret plan to aid Egypt’s authoritarian government. He allegedly was paid off in gold bars and cash-stuffed envelopes like a common gangster. This is obviously bad, even for a US Senate with a relaxed dress code, but Menendez refuses to resign. That makes sense, considering the Senate is how he gets all his gold bars. You don’t want to kill the golden goose job.

    Menendez claimed he was the true victim, a target of a “smear campaign” because his political opponents “simply cannot accept that a first generation Latin American from humble beginnings could rise to be a US senator.” No, I just can’t accept that anyone from anywhere would keep their bribe money stuffed in suit pockets, Goodfellas style. New Jersey deserves a corrupt senator with a brain in their head.

    Monday, a defiant Menendez denied keeping gold bars around the house like a Bond villain but he did offer a comically absurd explanation for all that cash the cops found. [video at the link]

    “For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba,” he said at a press conference in front of people who could see and hear him.

    This story moved me to tears, and I could barely compose myself to conduct a quick Google search: Menendez was born in New York to Cuban immigrants in 1954, five years before Castro assumed military and political power in Cuba, but we’re sure the second-hand experience was traumatizing. […]

    Menendez thinks we’re gullible enough to believe the $480,000 in cash found in his home came from his “personal savings.” Sure.

    [I don’t have an opinion on this … yet. Waiting for more facts. People are effing weird when it comes to money. One of my grandmothers hid money all over her house, and the cash was found after she died. If Menendez is telling the truth about that part of the story, then he should have records of those bank withdrawals. I note that Menendez did not talk about the gold bars, payments to his wife, etc.]

    […] As of today’s writing, 17 Democratic senators have joined Fetterman and called for Menendez’s resignation: Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Peter Welch, Elizabeth Warren, Jon Tester, Bob Casey, Tammy Baldwin, Jacky Rosen, Martin Heinrich, Amy Klobuchar, Mark Kelly, Michael Bennet, Ed Markey, Kirsten Gillibrand (don’t even start in the comments), Mazie Hirono, Maggie Hassan, and Raphael Warnock.

    Not sure what’s holding up the others, including (not a Dem) Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, who quickly defended Senate “decorum” from Fetterman’s shorts.

    Meanwhile, Menendez maintains support from the strangest people. [Tweet from Tom Cotton] Tom Cotton posted this morning: “Senator Menendez has a right to test the government’s evidence in court, just like any other citizen. He should be judged by jurors and New Jersey’s voters, not by Democratic politicians who now view him as inconvenient to their hold on power.”

    It’s predictably cynical of Republicans to refuse to believe that Democrats might have honorable motivations for their actions. However, you can also appreciate why Republicans might not want to take the public position that a federal indictment alone disqualifies you from political office.

  255. says

    Wonkette discusses more weird and misleading coverage of Joe Biden and age-related issues: “Axios Can Now Confidently Report That Joe Biden Wears Tennis Shoes.”

    Axios: it’s the website where paragraphs are too hard, but on the other hand the journalism is just OK.

    But not today.

    Today, Axios has a SCOOP! and it is that the entire national security apparatus of the United States of America has been mobilized to prevent President Falls-A-Lot from fall down go boom.

    President Biden and his campaign are working on a critical project for his re-election bid: Make sure he doesn’t trip.

    Is that what they’re doing?

    As voters express deep concerns about the 80-year-old president’s age and fitness for office, Biden’s team is taking extra steps to prevent him from stumbling in public — as he did in June, when he tripped over a sandbag at the Air Force Academy.

    Are they?

    – With a physical therapist, Biden has been doing exercises to improve his balance as far back as November 2021.

    Exercises, the bullet point says? How long has this madness been going on? Oh, it says almost two years. We should have read to the end of the bullet point.

    Since his stumble in June, he has been wearing tennis shoes more often to avoid slipping — and using the short stairs on Air Force One, entering the plane on a lower deck than before.

    Tennis shoes, heaven forfend! And he’s not even scaling the side of the plane with his sticky spider feet like he used to.

    Can we trust this man not to start a land war against NATO?

    Why it matters:


    Because again, the scoop is “tennis shoes.”

    Axios went to print because it got multiple sources (and publicly available pictures going back months) to confirm that “tennis shoes.” (We should note that Fox Business had the scoop of “tennis shoes” two months ago, as did Politico. We guess it took Axios two additional months to confirm its own independent reportage.)

    Axios includes the requisite anonymous quotes from “many Democrats” and “senior Democrats” who are furious with Biden, or terrified Biden will fall, or just generally having an ennui about Biden.

    Then Axios writes each one of these bullet points to explain that it’s uncovered incontrovertible evidence that an 80-year-old man has arthritis:

    – Biden works out many mornings with physical therapist Drew Contreras, who also worked with former President Obama.
    – Biden’s doctor has recommended exercises for balance, which he called “proprioceptive maintenance maneuvers.”
    – What the maneuvers entail is unclear.
    – “I have never heard the term ‘proprioceptive maintenance maneuvers.’ It is not a clinical term in standard use,” said Professor James Gordon, associate dean and chair of the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California.

    “What the maneuvers entail is unclear” is what a real human being employed by Axios typed about the president’s motherfuckin’ exercises.

    So this has been cool. What have we learned? We have learned that nobody wants Joe Biden to fall down and he has arthritis like a common 80-year-old and sometimes he does some exercises but Axios [doesn’t] know which ones he does.

    Oh yes, and we learned “tennis shoes.”

    Thanks for all your hard journalistic work, guys.

    At the bottom of the article Axios mentions in passing that youthful 77-year-old Donald Trump accused Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley of treason this weekend and accused NBC News of treason this weekend. Then it starts talking about Joe Biden being old again.

    Axios does not include the fact that Trump expressed awe and wonderment last night over migrants possessing cell phones, asked sincerely if the veterans of our armed forces possess cell phones, and then embarked on an extended soliloquy about windmills giving orcas clinical depression, anxiety, and probably erectile dysfunction.

    It could have included those things, but it was too busy linking to polls that show that when the Dunning Krugers of the Beltway Journalism and Polling Club incessantly call American voters and ask them if they’re worried about Joe Biden’s oldness, some Americans say they have concerns.

    The White House is making fun of Axios. “Move over, tan suit!” [Tweet at the link]

    White House Comms Director Ben LaBolt replied to Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates to confirm that this is “The single greatest scandal in presidential history (since President Obama wore a tan suit).”

    We are all stupider because Axios went to work this morning.

    We also have yet more repetition, repetition, repetition that Joe Biden is old. They are trying very hard to make this a major issue. One would think that they are having trouble landing any of their other accusations.

  256. says

    House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met with Elon Musk in his office a couple of weeks ago, and according to a message the California Republican published to social media, the GOP leader told Musk “he would have better luck” with the Justice Department “if he changed his last name to Biden.”

    This was, of course, intended to be amusing. In the political picture Republicans are desperate for the public to believe, the Justice Department has been corrupted to such a degree that the president’s relatives and allies can get away with crimes scot-free.

    It was literally the day after the McCarthy/Musk meeting, of course, when federal prosecutors charged Hunter Biden, the president’s son, doing obvious harm to the misguided GOP talking point.

    Last week, after the Justice Department indicted a sitting Democratic senator — the year ahead of his 2024 re-election campaign — NBC News’ Kristen Welker asked Rep. Don Bacon whether the charges undercut the partisan claims about two systems of justice. “I think it does to a degree,” the Nebraska Republican replied.

    Given the circumstances, the “to a degree” caveat was unnecessary. A New York Times report summarized the larger context nicely:

    On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly accused Attorney General Merrick B. Garland of singling out former President Donald J. Trump for selective prosecution, slamming him for what they call a “two-tiered system” of justice. Forty-eight hours later, the Justice Department indicted one of the most powerful Democrats in the Senate — Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee — on bribery charges, making public a trove of evidence, including cash and gold bars stashed at his house.

    The whole idea of a “two-tiered” justice system has long been a lazy argument, concocted to help respond to the Trump indictments, in large part because attacking federal prosecutors with baseless allegations has been easier than trying to deal with the substance of the allegations pending against the former president.

    […] This month’s indictments against Hunter Biden and Menendez did additional harm to the talking point that never should’ve been uttered.

    […] We know, of course, that it won’t silence those critics — assorted voices on the right are already incorporating the charges into their conspiracy theories about the Justice Department — but given the circumstances, it’s become effectively impossible to take those complaints seriously.


  257. says

    Oh JFC.

    Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. says he isn’t confident in the government’s explanation of what happened in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, continuing his penchant for entertaining conspiracy theories.

    “I don’t know what happened on 9/11,” Kennedy said in a podcast interview with journalist Peter Bergen released Tuesday. “I know there’s strange things that happened… One of the buildings came down that wasn’t hit by a plane.”

    Kennedy referred to the conspiracy theory surrounding World Trade Center Building 7, a smaller office building in the World Trade Center complex that collapsed after debris from the two towers started fires. […]


  258. Reginald Selkirk says

    Liberal group files open meetings lawsuit against secret panel studying Wisconsin justice’s impeachment

    A liberal watchdog group on Monday sued a secret panel investigating the criteria for impeaching a liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, asking a judge to order the panel to stop meeting behind closed doors.

    The panel is a government body and therefore required by state law to meet in public, attorneys for American Oversight argued in a complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

    Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos established the panel of three former state Supreme Court justices earlier this month as he considers taking the unprecedented step of impeaching Justice Janet Protasiewicz. He has refused to say who is on the panel…

  259. birgerjohansson says

    A famous ex-president claimed windmills drive whales batty, and seemed to confuse Jeb Bush with George W Bush.

  260. Reginald Selkirk says

    @ 187, 200, 313 Menendez

    So he’s just got a bunch of envelopes full of cash sitting around. Sounds entirely innocent‽
    Is there any indication that this is from criminal activity?

    U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, His Wife, And Three New Jersey Businessmen Charged With Bribery Offenses

    United States Attorney’s Office – Southern District of New York

    … Some of the envelopes contained the fingerprints and/or DNA of DAIBES or his driver.

    … During this same search, agents also found home furnishings provided by HANA and DAIBES, the luxury vehicle paid for by URIBE parked in the garage, as well as over one hundred thousand dollars’ worth of gold bars in the home, which were provided by either HANA or DAIBES.

    … For example, in or about July 2019, after the mortgage company for the residence of NADINE MENENDEZ initiated foreclosure proceedings, HANA caused IS EG Halal to pay approximately $23,000 to bring the mortgage current. HANA did so after a series of discussions with NADINE MENENDEZ, as well as URIBE and DAIBES, about various options for bringing the mortgage current. Later in 2019, HANA and DAIBES caused IS EG Halal to issue three $10,000 checks to NADINE MENENDEZ for a low-or-no-show job. As the scheme continued, including through the additional actions described below, MENENDEZ and NADINE MENENDEZ received additional bribes, including gold and cash.

    Also in 2019, HANA and URIBE offered to help buy a new Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible worth more than $60,000 for MENENDEZ and NADINE MENENDEZ. ..

    … Thereafter, URIBE made monthly payments to Mercedes-Benz for the convertible between 2019 and June 2022. URIBE only stopped making those monthly payments after the FBI approached MENENDEZ, NADINE MENENDEZ, and URIBE in connection with this investigation…

    Since these are serious prosecutors, when they say home furnishings or gold bars “were provided by either HANA or DAIBES” I expect they would be able to present specific evidence that is the case. And the DNA evidence is a nice touch.