Comments

  1. says

    It looks like The Infinite Thread hit the 500-comment mark again.

    For the convenience of readers, here are a few links back to the previous chapter of The Infinite Thread.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2023/10/09/infinite-thread-xxix/#comment-2198945
    Biggest cervical cancer drug advance in 20 years hailed

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2023/10/09/infinite-thread-xxix/#comment-2198906
    close links to Bolsonaro and Trump – reveal the fascism that seems always just under the surface of “anarcho-capitalism”

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2023/10/09/infinite-thread-xxix/#comment-2198874
    Ukraine Update: Infernal Machines, by Mark Sumner.

  2. says

    James Comer’s latest Biden accusation has one glaring flaw

    It might be easier to shrug off House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s latest anti-Biden dud if it weren’t part of a larger series of other duds.

    It’s not exactly a secret that House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s crusade against President Joe Biden hasn’t gone especially well. After nearly a year of trying to uncover evidence of the Democrat receiving illicit payments before reaching the White House, the Kentucky Republican and his allies have come up empty.

    It was against this backdrop that Comer tried to make a little news late last week. The Washington Times, an overtly conservative media outlet, reported:

    House investigators say they have obtained bank records showing President Biden received a direct payment of $200,000 after his brother James Biden secured a business deal with a rural hospital operator. The money from Mr. Biden‘s younger brother was provided in the form of a personal check in 2018, between the time Mr. Biden left the vice presidency and when he announced he was running for president.

    The GOP-led Oversight Committee seemed quite excited about this, publishing a message via social media that read, “We have found a $200,000 DIRECT payment to Joe Biden.”

    Well, sort of.

    Based on the available information, Joe Biden — in his personal capacity, two years after serving as vice president — loaned his brother some money. Then, his brother paid him back. It’s why James Biden literally wrote on the check itself, “Loan repayment.”

    That’s just not that interesting. Indeed, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell on California noted online soon after, “[Comer] proves Joe Biden generously loaned his family money and they responsibly paid him back. Nice work, detective!”

    […] Evidently, Republicans hoped the public would take the story seriously because James Biden repaid his brother after receiving money from a hospital company he was working with. But again, this appears quite anodyne: James Biden needed a loan; Joe Biden helped his brother; and James Biden repaid the loan six weeks later when he had the money. (The future president did not charge any interest.)

    In other words, this latest pitch suffers from one glaring flaw: The story isn’t scandalous; it’s boring.

    Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the ranking member of the Oversight panel, added in a press statement, “The more than 1,400 pages of additional bank records just show what these witnesses and thousands of prior pages of records have already established: that the President was not involved in and did not profit from his family members’ business ventures.”

    […] It came on the heels of several related failures, with Comer making promises he couldn’t keep, holding hearings that undermined his own partisan efforts, and releasing ostensible “evidence” filled with factual errors.

    Reflecting on the cascading debacles, a senior GOP aide told Politico, in reference to Republicans’ concerns, “People are just not happy.”

    Team Comer’s latest misstep probably did little to change that.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    Off-Duty Pilot Allegedly Tried to Kill the Engines on Alaska Airlines Flight

    An off-duty pilot riding in the cockpit on an Alaska Airlines flight to San Francisco was reportedly arrested Sunday night after he allegedly tried to shut down the plane’s two engines mid-flight.

    The arrested pilot was identified Monday as 44-year-old Joseph Emerson, who is now staring down 83 felony counts of attempted murder and reckless endangerment, arrest records show…

  4. says

    On the Brink, by Josh Marshall

    I want to note several interconnected developments in the news coming out of the Middle East today.

    Already battered by his ongoing criminal prosecution and attempted judicial coup, Benjamin Netanyahu’s standing with the Israeli public appears to have been shattered by the October 7th massacres in southern Israel. In such a perilous position Netanayhu’s allies in and out of government have been spreading various stab-in-the-back type storylines seeking to evade responsibility for the events of October 7th.

    The best way I can describe this is that Israel has its own version of the Fox News-rooted right wing big lie machine that Americans are familiar with here. That has been in overdrive for the last three weeks. It has included the government briefing reporters against the country’s security establishment, placing the blame for the massacres squarely on the IDF and Shin Bet, the country’s domestic intelligence and security service.

    This is just one example of how Netanyahu’s continued tenure in office has genuinely existential stakes for Israel. Netanyahu has always been known as a conniving and manipulative figure. […] But in a moment of profound national crisis it is a huge liability for a country to be led by a man who faces dire risks to his reputation, power and liberty that have nothing to do with solving the crisis at hand. [Good point!]

    Today Anshel Pfeffer, a reporter with the liberal daily Haaretz, writes that the government’s briefing against the country’s defense establishment has started pushing a new line: the generals don’t care about limiting IDF casualties. They are trying to rush into a ground invasion before using bunker-busting bombs to do as much damage as possible to Hamas’s network of underground tunnels. In return, the defense establishment started briefing a counter-message. They didn’t attack or name Netanyahu directly but said simply that they are merely following the government’s orders.

    The gist seems to be this. The government ordered an all out mobilization with all that entails: a massive reserve call up, securing borders, assembling all the resources for a ground invasion. As a strictly military matter if you get everything prepared and ramped up and then wait, eventually your readiness and effectiveness starts to decline. So what the military seems to be saying is: You told us to get everything ready to move right away. We did. So we need to move now. But the government isn’t quite ready.

    […] The fact that there is so little trust between the two sides at such a moment of national crisis is a big deal in itself. But we can get some visibility into what’s happening here from what my seem like a very different side of the story.

    President Biden has made a huge and public show of support for Israel. Increasingly in both countries it’s been seen as a bear hug of sorts: an enveloping embrace, promises of money, arms, strategic military support and more and yet focused in many ways on not just on supporting but exercising control over Israel’s coming ground invasion. Key US goals are keeping Israel focused on limiting civilian casualties and figuring out a political solution for Gaza after Hamas. […]

    One is the desire, already getting some play in the US press, to negotiate the freedom of more hostages before a ground campaign begins. But a more immediate issue is beefing up the defenses of US military forces in the region. […]

    There is a huge fear in US military and defense policy circles today that the Israel-Hamas war will skid out of control into a regional war that will bring Iran and US directly into the conflict. […] The US is presently rushing lots of resources into the region both to deter attacks on US forces by Iranian proxy militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other countries and if necessary retaliate against them. […]

    Many factors figure into Israel’s decision when to begin a ground invasion. I can’t say delays are because of this specifically. But it seems certain that the US rush to reinforce its deployments in the region is playing at least some role in the delay. To return to our earlier topic, this is a clear reason why the political and military leaderships in Israel could be reacting to very different priorities at the moment.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/on-the-brink-4

  5. says

    LIVE COVERAGE

    Several GOP Speaker Nominees To Make Pitch That They Can Avoid Floor Vote Doom

    […] It’s notable that we have no idea when a floor vote on a potential new speaker nominee would even be. With House GOP conference back to square one, there’s no indication as to when ballot 4 will happen. It is unlikely though that Republicans would set the date and time for the floor vote until they have a candidate of their own.
    —————————

    This is obvious, but still striking — eight of the nine GOP candidates for speaker are white men. Byron Donalds is the only candidate of color. Women are nowhere to be seen.

    Republicans, to put it mildly, do not prize diversity in their ranks like Democrats do. The idea of Democrats putting up such a homogeneous slate in this position is ludicrous.
    ——————————–

    Ever since 2016, it’s still difficult for pundits to avoid instinctually endowing Trump with political savvy and power that he doesn’t really have. Is he influential in the Republican Party? Obviously. Do his endorsements (or lack thereof) have a 100 percent success rate? They decidedly do not.

    Trump was on team Jordan; that did not matter to the “moderate” block who thwarted him. Now, Trump is against Emmer. That’s weighty enough that team Emmer is pushing back against his disapproval with a laundry list of ways the congressman has loved and supported the former president. And, Trump has more sway with the harder right element of the Party, which could block Emmer.

    For now, we’ll wait and see. If Matt Gaetz et al, weary, depressed, drained of life and verve after a week out of the spotlight want a reason to become main characters again — and Emmer is able to rise to the top of the field — this could give them a rationale to which to cling. But there are so many variables at play right now and such a large field; Trump’s position, right now, is just another data point.
    ————————-
    […] Only Two Speaker Candidates Voted To Certify The 2020 Election

    Those are Emmer and Scott. The rest voted no. […]

  6. says

    Details of Trump’s alleged money-for-secrets deal are revealed

    On Monday morning, Donald Trump called Australian billionaire and Mar-a-Lago member Anthony Pratt a “red haired weirdo” and declared that he never spoke to Pratt about submarines. That one-two punch of strangeness follows strong evidence that Trump did exactly what he’s saying he never did: shared sensitive information about American nuclear submarines with Pratt. That information has since been spread widely among foreign officials, possibly weakening America’s nuclear defense.

    Now there’s a growing impression that not only did Trump provide Pratt with inside information on some of the most critical military secrets, Trump did so in response to the “red haired weirdo” opening up his extremely chunky wallet to slide money Trump’s way. That includes offering what amounted to an unlimited campaign contribution laundered through the Mar-a-Lago resort.

    Trump is trying to distance himself from Pratt because the evidence of his wrongdoing with the Australian billionaire seems clear. But even as Trump’s squirming to get away from one crime, he may have committed another. [Screen capture of Trump post on Truth Social]

    Anthony Pratt is one of the wealthiest men in Australia. Wherever you live in the world, there’s a fair chance that some of his products are in your home right now. That’s because what Pratt makes is primarily packing materials, and in this online-order/home-delivery world, he’s doing very well. Pratt and his family are worth an estimated $24 billion. That’s up by $5 billion in just the last three pandemic-centric years.

    After Trump won the 2016 election, Pratt invested heavily in his relationship with Donald Trump. He purchased a membership at Mar-a-Lago, bought high-cost tickets to spend holidays with Trump, and offered to provide an undefined level of funding for Trump’s reelection by renting an unlimited number of hotel rooms at Trump’s resort. Even after Trump lost the 2020 election, he and Pratt seemed to remain close, meeting at Mar-a-Lago and having lengthy conversations.

    That Pratt would think it worth almost any level of investment to keep Trump in office makes sense. For a billionaire whose primary business is paper mills, the guy who blows most of the budget on tax cuts for the wealthy and who is devoted to destroying environmental regulations might just be the ideal leader. That Trump also so mismanaged a deadly pandemic that he helped accelerate the transition from in-person to online shopping is just a bonus.

    But the thing that Trump and Pratt discussed that’s now the red-hot focus of special counsel Jack Smith isn’t whatever Trump may have promised Pratt about the Clean Water Act or undercutting health care. It’s submarines.

    On Oct. 5, ABC News broke the story that Pratt had been interviewed by members of Smith’s team “at least twice” regarding conversations that he and Trump had concerning potentially classified information about the capabilities of American submarines. Pratt then went on to share what he had learned from Trump with “scores of others, including more than a dozen foreign officials.”

    Among the information Trump is believed to have disclosed to Pratt are the exact number of nuclear warheads U.S. subs routinely carry, and how closely they can operate to Russian subs without being detected. Both pieces of information are critical in defining the capabilities of the U.S. submarine fleet.

    If Trump was accurate in relaying the information to Pratt, and Pratt repeated it to the “scores” of people he claims, it represents what could be an unprecedented unmasking of America’s most secretive power. This leak could seriously affect how the U.S. operates on both a tactical and strategic level. There are few pieces of military information that have—or at least had—more value.

    The New York Times story that Trump mentioned in his social media post ran on Sunday evening. It not only repeated the allegations of the earlier ABC News account but also expanded on them by showing how Pratt had kept money flowing to Trump’s campaign. That included offering to “book as many rooms as available” for any campaign event Trump wanted to hold at Mar-a-Lago.

    On another occasion, Pratt gave Trump $1 million for tickets to a New Year’s Eve event at Mar-a-Lago even though the actual price of those tickets was “$50,000 or less.” That certainly looks as if Pratt simply stuffed $1 million into Trump’s pocket—a contribution that’s unlikely to have appeared on Trump’s campaign finance reports.

    If what Pratt was after was access, he got it. Trump gave Pratt a seat in his motorcade, invited him to a state dinner, and toured one of his plants in Ohio. And in a series of recordings obtained by “60 Minutes Australia,” Pratt revealed that Trump talked about far more than submarines. [video at the link]

    According to Pratt, Trump also told him about his private phone conversations with Iraqi leaders following a U.S. missile strike. At a point when the strike had not even become public knowledge, Trump was happy to share how he had bullied Iraq’s then-President Barham Salih.

    “I just bombed Iraq today,” Trump reportedly told Pratt. “And the president of Iraq called me up and said, ‘You just leveled my city.’ And I said to him, ‘Okay, what are you going to do about it?’”

    Trump also talked to Pratt about the infamous call in which he attempted to blackmail Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That call led to Trump’s first impeachment, but Trump dismissed his actions as trivial. “You know that Ukraine phone call?” he reportedly told Pratt. “That was nothing compared to what I usually do. That Ukraine phone call was nothing compared to what we usually talk about.” Which certainly raises questions about just how often Trump used his private phone calls with foreign leaders to extract personal favors.

    Just to add a profound dollop of disgust on top of the flow of secrets, Pratt also says that Trump told his wife, Melania Trump, to strut around Mar-a-Lago in a bikini “so all the other guys could get a look at what they were missing.”

    As has happened with so many others, Pratt notes how Trump operates “like the Mafia,” and likes to make statements that skate around the law. “He’s outrageous,” Pratt said of Trump. “He just says whatever the f*ck he wants. And he loves to shock people.”

    Pratt repeatedly demonstrated his admiration for how Trump “… knows exactly what to say and what not to say so he avoids jail.” But that’s one place where Pratt was hopefully wrong. Trump seems to think so. That’s why his former pal has become a “red haired weirdo.”

    […] there’s the strong possibility that Trump’s attack on Pratt violates a standing gag order already in place on the classified documents case. That’s because Pratt is on the list of witnesses, and Trump’s statements could easily be read as an attempt to influence Pratt’s testimony.

    As the “60 Minutes Australia” piece says at the opening, Trump is in “a mess.” And he’s still making it messier.

  7. says

    In a letter written by future 1st Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, to his wife, in 1938, he writes what David Lloyd George of Great Britain, said of the British Colony that was then Palestine:

    “I’ll be frank with you. During the world war they gave Arabs and Jews conflicting assurances. We sold the same horse twice.”

    This is the epigram of a very important book by Ronald Florence, Lawrence and Aaronsohn: T.E. Lawrence, Aaron Aaronsohn, and the Seeds of the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

    The book shows the origins of Zionism created by necessity, as a pro-active idea that came about as Jews were denied citizenship in nation-states in Europe after Bismark, around 1880, starting with Romania deciding that 100,000 Jews were not citizens, could not own land or businesses, and had both land and businesses appropriated. hey were displaced. Other nation-states followed.

    Many went to America, of course, but others, who heard from relatives already here about ghettos and sweatshops, looked elsewhere. Some thought about Argentina. Others Uganda (this was, after all, the golden age of colonies and Colonization). And some went to Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire.

    The book notes that there were some Jews living in Palestine since the time of the Romans, and were pretty much left alone with enough baksheesh. There had not been a time in 2,000 years when the inhabitants had not been colonized, from the time they were oppressively ruled by the Romans to through their oppressive rule under the Ottoman Empire. During the war, the Turks who administered Palestine were extremely brutal and demanded increased crops for their troops from the natives who lived near subsistence-levels without that demand, both Jew and Arab.

    […] As “Lawrence of Arabia” was organizing the Arabs to fight against the Ottoman Empire to help the British Colonizers defeat the Turkish Colonizers, famed agrarian Aaron Aaronsohn, who had been ordered by the Turkish Magistrate to help quell a locust infestation, was told by the Magistrate that after the Turks exterminated the Armenians, “You’re next.” That forced Aaronsohn to desperately try also to help the British Colonizers defeat the Turkish Colonizers, through a British military that was considerably anti-Semitic and distrustful of Jews. The British reluctantly tolerated calls for Zionism because chemist Chaim Weissman figured out how to efficiently synthesize acetone which was used in creating explosives.

    In the end, the British Colonizers defeated the Ottoman Colonizers with the help of both Arabs organized under Lawrence, and Jews, who secretly provided the English with intelligence about Turkish positions, as Aaronsohn was given access to travel throughout the colony in his efforts to stem the hoards of locusts. As a geologist, he helped them figure out where to dig wells so that they didn’t have to bring water with them from Egypt.

    Still, the British ended up selling the same horse twice.

    I have read nothing that better explains how we got here, or at least up to 1947. To know something, we must know its history. It’s not enough to start with 1947. It begins long before.

    Jews and Arabs got along, more or less, side-by side in what was then the colony of Palestine until after the first world war, until after the British came in, and promised both the same horse. Aaronsohn died shortly after the war in what some believe was a suspicious plane crash with all of his maps with him, maps that, as an agronomist and geologist, would have divided water and resources equitably to sustain all sides.

    After the war, the British brought in bureaucrats with no knowledge of Arabic or Hebrew to sort things out. The Arabs hailed the British Colonizers for defeating the brutally oppressive Turks, and now they thought that they could live freely in their own land.

    The English had other ideas:

    “For Britain, Palestine still represented an age-old dream. Richard the Lion-Hearted and the Crusades were vivid to British Schoolboys, Jerusalem almost as integral a part of British history as the long wars with France. The Anglicans had built cathedrals and churches in Palestine, and missionary groups were active. The British forces in Palestine were fascinated by the biblical scenes of shepherds with their flocks of sheep, olive groves, rock-strewn slopes of the Judean Hills, and camel caravans; they had seen similar scenes in Sunday School evoking familiar passage from Scripture….”

    Arabs, having tasted victory, and Zionists, free of the threat of annihilation by the Turks, both started to claim the same horse, promised to each of them. Skirmishes and bloodshed did not start between native Palestinians and Zionists until after the British proclaimed their Mandate after the first world war, as the Allies, the victors, were divvying up the Middle East into European colonies. Palestine was still a Colony. This time it was British.

    […] It starts with Bismark and nation-states in Europe denying Jews citizenship, denying Jews the right to own land and the right to run businesses, appropriating land and property that was theirs, in the latter part of the 19th century. If that did not happen, there would have been no Zionist movement. […] what was known as Palestine, and the greater Middle East from Iran to Egypt, had been ruled by colonizers for two thousand years.

    […] I don’t need to tell you what happened to Jews between the world wars, and during the second one.

    […] Palestinians, in the West Bank, are living in a land Occupied oppressively by the nation-state of Israel, land which had previously been occupied by Jordan before before June,1967, as part of the post-colonization of the colonized world.

    Palestinians in Gaza, are living in a land Occupied by — Hamas, really. Israel pretty much withdrew from Gaza a while ago — which had previously been Occupied by Egypt before June, 1967, as part of the post-colonization of the colonized world.

    […] Professor Yeshayahu Liebowitz’ prescient understanding of what the Occupation would do to the psyche of Israel:

    Believing that the land was theirs to rule, both secular kibbutzniks and religious Jews too quickly accepted the role of occupier…. Leibowitz… shortly after the war, predicted that this decision to retain rule over the occupied territories would have tragic consequences. He suggested that religious traditionalists, in arguing that the land had traditional significance, were actually idolizing the land, and thus corrupting the very religion they strove to maintain. Instead of Jews working together on the land and in all levels of society, the process of maintaining rule over 1.5 million to 2 million foreigners within the territories would have significant social repercussions. […]

    Liebowitz proved in large part correct. Palestinians are subjugated, and yet Palestinians are also brutally oppressed by Hamas, but cannot say so for fear of giving fodder to Israel. And Israel is surrounded by enemies who not only want to destroy the nation-state, but some who also want to exterminate Jews as a people, including Hamas.

    At some point, both sides will have to recognize that their greivances are as a result of both being sold the same horse.

    In a rational world, when two sides have each been sold the same horse, or the same anything, each side was victimized by the seller, not each other. In a rational world, each side is a victim of these circumstances.

    […] In a rational world, while each party is a victim of fraud, neither one would be blaming the other victim. In a rational world, each party would attempt to negotiate an amicable settlement.

    But we don’t live in a rational world. […]

    when Jews have a common enemy, we stand shoulder to shoulder, as Israelis are now. A few weeks ago, before October 7th, in the absence of that enemy, our firing squad collapsed into a circle. Those fighting to keep Israel a secular Republic were in the streets fighting those who want Israel to become a theocracy. Those who want to end the Occupation were fighting those who want to build more settlements on the West Bank. Hamas has straightened the firing line with its attack that was so brutal words can’t even describe it […]

    None of this justifies rape, horrifying brutal murder or hostage-taking. None of this justifies the brutalizing of civilians.

    […] Palestinians, who are oppressed by both Hamas and Israel, are pawns, at times enduring collective punishment for the actions of a few.

    […] I leave you with a story I heard many years ago about a woman who heard about a very pious old man who prayed every day, without fail, at the Western Wall, the “Wailing Wall,” the last remaining vestige of the Temple destroyed in Israel almost 2,000 years ago. She heard about this man, and watched him for a few weeks, day after day, without fail, doven in the ruins of the old Temple.

    One day, as he was leaving, she asked him if it is true that he has been praying every day, as she has seen him do, for decades.

    “Yes, I have.”

    “What do you pray?”

    “I pray the same prayer, over and over.”

    “Really? If you don’t mind me asking, what is that prayer?”

    “I pray for peace in the Middle East, peace in Israel, peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and peace between Arabs and Jews.”

    “Wow. What’s that like?”

    “It’s like talking to a wall.”

    Right now, It the Hebrew Union College in Israel, they have stopped their scheduled curriculum to focus on the liturgy of funerals and the preparation for burials. There are 220 hostages being held in Gaza. And there are concerns about retaliation which might only make things worse. […]

    Link

  8. says

    This is a “we fucked up” apology, sort of, from the New York Times:

    On Oct. 17, The New York Times published news of an explosion at a hospital in Gaza City, leading its coverage with claims by Hamas government officials that an Israeli airstrike was the cause and that hundreds of people were dead or injured. The report included a large headline at the top of The Times’s website.

    Israel subsequently denied being at fault and blamed an errant rocket launch by the Palestinian faction group Islamic Jihad, which has in turn denied responsibility. American and other international officials have said their evidence indicates that the rocket came from Palestinian fighter positions.

    The Times’s initial accounts attributed the claim of Israeli responsibility to Palestinian officials, and noted that the Israeli military said it was investigating the blast. However, the early versions of the coverage — and the prominence it received in a headline, news alert and social media channels — relied too heavily on claims by Hamas, and did not make clear that those claims could not immediately be verified. The report left readers with an incorrect impression about what was known and how credible the account was.

    The Times continued to update its coverage as more information became available, reporting the disputed claims of responsibility and noting that the death toll might be lower than initially reported. Within two hours, the headline and other text at the top of the website reflected the scope of the explosion and the dispute over responsibility.

    Given the sensitive nature of the news during a widening conflict, and the prominent promotion it received, Times editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified. Newsroom leaders continue to examine procedures around the biggest breaking news events — including for the use of the largest headlines in the digital report — to determine what additional safeguards may be warranted.

    New York Times link

  9. says

    Israel-Hamas war live updates: Hamas releases two more hostages, U.S. advises Israel to delay ground invasion

    Two more hostages have been released by Hamas. In a statement, the Al-Qassam Brigades said the decision was made for “compelling humanitarian” reasons.

    The U.S. is advising Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza to allow for more time for hostage negotiations and humanitarian aid.
    Israel’s military has stepped up its aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip and renewed its call for civilians to flee south — though some are reluctant to leave their homes.

    The U.S. and Israel promised a “continued flow” of aid into Gaza after the first convoys entered through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt over the weekend. Health officials warned that far more aid is needed.

    The U.S. is boosting its military presence in the Middle East as it seeks to prevent a wider conflict. Clashes at the Lebanon border and what Israel said was a tank mistakenly striking an Egyptian position have added to fears of broader escalation.
    —————————–

    […] Two more hostages, identified as Nurit Yitzhak and Yocheved Lifshitz, have been released by Hamas, multiple sources confirmed to NBC News.

    The military wing of Hamas said it had decided to release the pair for “compelling humanitarian” reasons.

    The announcement comes three days after the release of two Americans who had been held captive by Hamas in Gaza: Judith Raanan and her teenage daughter, Natalie.

    NBC News has not seen images of the hostages being released.
    ———————————-
    Sky News has fact-checked documents that Israel’s president earlier said were instructions on how to make chemical weapons and that he said were found on the body of a Hamas fighter.

    President Isaac Herzog showed what he said was “al Qaeda material” found by the Israel Defense Forces on the body of a dead fighter in Kibbutz Be’eri, which was devastated in the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack.

    Herzog said it showed Israel was “dealing with ISIS, al Qaeda and Hamas” as he held up the document, which had “al Qaeda” written in English and a flag widely recognized as representing ISIS on the cover.

    NBC News has no reporting to corroborate his central claim, which is that the document proves some form of coordination among Hamas, ISIS and al Qaeda.
    ————————————
    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East announced that 35 of its staffers have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

    Many of the staffers were teachers in UNRWA schools.

    “We are lost for words,” the agency said in a post on X.

    “These are not just numbers. These are our friends and colleagues.”
    ——————————–
    The Palestinian Red Crescent says it has received the third humanitarian aid shipment from the Egyptian Red Crescent via the Rafah crossing, according to a post on its X account.

    The shipment includes “20 trucks with food, medicine, and supplies.”

  10. says

    As House Republicans enter a fourth leaderless week ripe for more intractable tumult, former Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming reminded the country of the original sin that landed us here: then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy kissing up to Donald Trump just weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    “What you’re seeing right now among the Republicans in the House is a direct result of the decisions that Kevin McCarthy made to embrace Donald Trump, to embrace the most radical and extreme members of our party—to elevate them,” Cheney said Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”

    […] Cheney added that whomever Republicans finally land upon, it’s particularly important the next speaker isn’t an election denier. She also said that everyone seeking the speaker nomination should be asked about their commitment to aiding Ukraine’s war against Russia’s invasion.

    “They should be asked from the perspective of: We face a global challenge, an existential threat, and how in the world could anybody defend at this moment, surrendering to one of our adversaries by walking away from Ukraine?” she said, pinpointing what are arguably the two most urgent questions facing the House Republican conference and the country.

    Link

    Yes. I think Cheney stated all of that correctly.

    I would track the current chaos in the House Republican caucus back to earlier errors in judgement, but to highlight the tipping point leading to the current failures is correct. Also, it might be helpful to blame the Trump/McCarthy coalition if we are to find a way past the Speaker-of-the-House impasse. Dump the most toxic parts … and then proceed.

  11. says

    Followup to comment 6.

    Sounds Like Trump Blabbed To That Australian Billionaire About A Whole Lot More Than Just Nuclear Subs

    Last night, Donald Trump got on Truth Social and babbled out this deranged screed:

    The Failing New York Times story, leaked by Deranged Jack Smith and the Biden “Political Opponent Abuser” DOJ, about a red haired weirdo from Australia, named Anthony Pratt, is Fake News.

    I never spoke to him about Submarines, but I did speak to him about creating jobs in Ohio and Pennsylvania, because that’s what I’m all about – JOBS, A GREAT ECONOMY, LOW TAXES, NO INFLATION, ENERGY DOMINANCE, STRONG BORDERS, NO ENDLESS WARS, LOW INTEREST RATES, and much more!

    Maggie Hagerman and the Misfits never called me for a comment. Why would they, they just write anything they want. Whether it’s correct or not is of ZERO importance to them. “All the News That’s Unfit To Print.” That’s why we call it the Fake News!

    Attacking the special counsel? Check.

    Attacking and attempting to discredit a potential witness? Check.

    Judge Tanya Chutkan temporarily lifted the gag order on Trump in his federal election-stealing case while his (baseless) appeal plays out. There aren’t any gag orders in the federal stolen classified docs case — the one that’s most pertinent here — so we guess it’s cool.

    As you can see, this is about Anthony Pratt, the Australian billionaire businessman upon whomTrump reportedly jizzed all kinds of hot intel about America’s nuclear submarines at Mar-a-Lago. As you can see, Trump denies it. Of course, Trump is one of the most prolific liars in human history, so we should take that into account.

    The New York Times came out with a big report this weekend that adds much to the Pratt story, based on leaked recordings, and “60 Minutes Australia” played those recordings on the TV on Sunday.

    This sets the scene for how masterfully Pratt played the Trump game, how he grasped how motivated Trump was by flattery and praise, something pretty much every hostile foreign government with spies was surely also keenly aware of.

    Mr. Pratt was hardly the only favor seeker circling Mar-a-Lago, which became the fulcrum of the president’s two overlapping worlds, and a marketplace of sorts where favors, secrets and opportunities to lobby the president over clubhouse burgers were treated as currency. But Mr. Pratt, who rode in Mr. Trump’s motorcade and attended a White House state dinner, played the game better than most.

    Mr. Trump, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, had almost no relationship with Mr. Pratt before the 2016 election. But after, Mr. Pratt used his money and flattery to get on Mr. Trump’s radar: He lavished praise on him in public appearances, bought newspaper ads that hyped Mr. Trump as a job creator and became a member of Mar-a-Lago. […]

    Behind closed doors […] Mr. Pratt described Mr. Trump’s business practices as being “like the mafia,” according to covert recordings obtained by “60 Minutes Australia” and shared with The Times.

    And oh boy, the things Trump blabbed to Pratt! ABC News’s earlier reporting says Trump told Pratt exactly how many nuclear warheads our subs can carry and how close they can sneak up to Russian subs without them knowing.

    The recordings add some new things, like for example:
    – Trump telling Pratt in December 2019 about this convo he just had with the leader of Iraq, sounds like right before the drone strike in Iraq that assassinated Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani.
    – Trump telling Pratt that his PERFECT CALL! with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — where he extorted Ukraine to make up fake investigations into the Bidens in exchange for the military defense aid it needed to protect itself from Russia, which Congress had already appropriated — was totally mild in comparison to some of his other behavior. “That was nothing compared to what I usually do,” said Trump.

    That was Trump trying to force Ukraine to help him steal the 2020 election. Wonder what he was thinking of right then that was worse.

    The recordings show Pratt, sounding like Starbursts are going all up and his down his legs, talking about how great Trump is at doing crime. This goes along with the mafia thing, which people have been testifying to about Trump for years now:

    “He’s got incredible balls,” Mr. Pratt says. “Trump says, ‘Would you go and tell that guy over there to steal for me?’ And so he can say, ‘I never told the guy to steal.’ And things like that is how Trump gets away with it.”

    Speaking of, did y’all hear this is the week where Michael Cohen testifies in Trump’s fraud trial in New York? Whee!

    Anyway, in the recordings, Pratt brags about how close he is to Rudy Giuliani, and says one time he paid Rudy like a million bucks to “come to his birthday party as a celebrity guest,” per the Times. OK, weirdo. Rudy couldn’t go because of COVID, but “now he rings me once a week.” Um, cool?

    There’s much more in the Times piece about all the goodies Pratt got in exchange for licking the royal taint. It sounds like he has spent just absolute shitloads of money to get close to Trump, and yet in every text he spells Mar-a-Lago like “MarLago.” Dumb.

    The Times also reports on this lovely charming romantic thing:

    Mr. Pratt also describes on the recording how Mr. Trump asked his wife, Melania, to strut around Mar-a-Lago in her bikini “so all the other guys could get a look at what they were missing.”

    Classy. That goes nicely with the story Mitt Romney told about Trump telling his son Josh Romney at a New England Patriots game what high demand Melania would be in once he “drops” her. (This was before Trump recited the sacred vows of third marriage.)

    Here’s the “60 Minutes Australia” report. We say it a lot, but we have to fight against becoming numb to how criminally evil it is that Donald Trump could be allowed anywhere near the presidency ever again. [video at the link]

  12. KG says

    Reginald Selkirk@499, previous chapter, linked to:
    Prominent German leftist to launch a new party that could eat into far-right’s support.
    The headline should probably be:

    Prominent German leftist shifts to far-right, crawls up Putin’s fundament.

    Here’s Yahoo’s description of her platform:

    Wagenknecht offers a combination of left-wing economic policy, with high wages and generous benefits, and a restrictive approach to migration. She also questions some environmentalists’ plans to combat climate change and opposes current sanctions against Russia, which was once Germany’s leading gas supplier, and German arms supplies to Ukraine.

    With regard to climate, Yahoo says:

    “We must also get away from a blind, haphazard eco-activism that makes people’s life even more expensive but doesn’t actually benefit the climate at all,” she said, adding that a more useful contribution would be developing new technologies for a climate-neutral future.

    IOW, do fuck-all about the climate.
    Just as telling is the name of her promised new party: “Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance — for Reason and Fairness.” So, it’s a personality cult. She claims she won’t collaborate with the AfD, but I’d bet a considerable amount she’ll be working with them if not joining them within a year or two.

  13. says

    Followup to comments 6 and 11.

    The Trump classified documents case has turned into an espionage case

    The New York Times’ new examination of the ties between the now-indicted Donald Trump and Australian multibillionaire Anthony Pratt, the man Trump is alleged to have divulged U.S. nuclear submarine secrets to, is full of more curiosities than it’s possible to sort out.

    The most consequential revelation, however, is that prosecutors working for special counsel Jack Smith who have been questioning witnesses about Trump’s revelation of classified information to Pratt may now have significant evidence that Trump offered the disclosure as part of a larger pattern of favor-trading between the two men. And that may turn what began as an investigation into retention of classified documents to a full-blown espionage case.

    […] When Pratt went on to widely brag of receiving the defense secrets both to his business contacts and to Australian government officials, it suggests that Pratt did believe Trump’s information could be used to boost his own credibility and apparent access.

    Smith’s prosecutors are known to have taken conspicuous interest in Trump’s conversation with Pratt and in Pratt’s own dissemination of the secrets, and it’s now clear why. Was Trump truly an incompetent, bragging about some of the most closely guarded military secrets the nation has because the man could not, in his mind, grasp that these were not topics for idle conversations with Mar-a-Lago members? Or was Trump offering classified military information in exchange for something?

    There’s now already a pretty good case to be made that the relationship was a transactional one—so says Pratt himself in conversations and documents—and that Trump did indeed offer the secrets up for his own monetary gain.

    And that exchange fits squarely into the Espionage Act.

    Prosecutors are no doubt probing to determine whether Pratt did any particular favor for Trump in return—but they may not necessarily have to. Not all espionage cases rely on a specific tit-for-tat of specific secrets for specific cash; espionage also describes transactions in which a mole or informant offers information broadly in exchange for favors or stipends. Any corrupt politician worth their salt knows that you do not publicly link the gold bars you have received from a benefactor to any particular favor provided on your part.

    Trump was not, in this relationship, blurting out military secrets for the sake of conversation. It was an obvious signal: I still know things. Your time here at Mar-a-Lago can still be of great value to you—assuming, of course, the gifts continue.

    Whether Smith’s prosecutors will bring such charges against Trump is anybody’s guess. It would be a more difficult case to prove than the discovery of arrays of classified documents scattered throughout Mar-a-Lago in bathrooms, utility closets, and desk drawers. The felony charges already leveled against Trump may not even be consequently enhanced by adding actual espionage to the indictment. It likely depends entirely on whether prosecutors find a second example of this secrets-for-favors relationship. If they do, it would become difficult to rationalize not adding espionage to Trump’s list of alleged crimes.

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    Chemists Unveil the Slickest Surface Ever to Ward Off Water

    A duck’s back is not the only slippery surface water is prone to slide off of. Researchers have developed a new method of coating surfaces in a liquid-like layer to make them extra slick.

    The Finland-based research team, led by Sakari Lepikko of Aalto University, developed a reactor to create the surfaces, which are referred to as self-assembled monolayers, or SAM. These monolayers feature a fluid-like surface resulting from layers of molecules that are covalently bound to a piece of silicon material, much in the same way that liquid molecules are held together.

    This dramatically reduces the surface’s friction, allowing droplets of water to glide across with ease. The researchers are referring to this manufacturing process as a first of its kind. The paper documenting their research was published today in Nature Chemistry…

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ancient empire thrived in Sahara Desert using ‘remarkable’ tunnel system, study says

    The ascendancy of the civilization, known as the Garamantian Empire, was “remarkable given a climate comparable to the modern-day Libyan Sahara Desert,” according to new research presented to the Geological Society of America on Oct. 16.

    The Garamantians occupied a southern swath of modern-day Libya and Algeria between 400 BC and 400 AD, researchers said…

    The Garamantians, the first urban society to appear in a riverless desert, survived using tunnels known as foggaras. These were hand-dug subterranean channels that, much like aqueducts, used gravity to deliver water from aquifers to agricultural areas.

    Using slave labor, the Garamantians constructed about 500 miles worth of 550 foggaras, researchers said…

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    U.S. Plans to Seize Russian Oligarch’s $300M Superyacht

    The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Monday to seize a $300 million superyacht belonging to a sanctioned oligarch known as the “Russian Gatsby.” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the ship, named Amadea, was owned by energy mogul Suleiman Kerimov and “was improved and maintained in violation of applicable sanctions.” …

  17. says

    NBC News:

    The United Auto Workers union says it expanded its strike again Monday, as 6,800 people stopped working at a plant that makes Ram 1500 trucks. That means this expansion of the strike targets one of Stellantis’ most important and profitable vehicles.

  18. says

    NBC News:

    The Supreme Court on Friday blocked in full a lower court ruling that would have curbed the Biden administration’s ability to communicate with social media companies about contentious content on such issues as Covid-19.

    Good news.

    New York Times:

    The Supreme Court refused on Friday to reinstate an expansive Missouri law that restricted state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal gun laws and allowed private lawsuits against law enforcement agencies that violated the state’s understanding of the Second Amendment.

    The court’s brief order gave no reasons, which is typical when the justices act on emergency applications asking them to intervene in an early stage of litigation. An appeal of a judge’s ruling striking down the law will proceed, and the case could again reach the Supreme Court after that appeal is decided.

    Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, giving no explanation.

    The Missouri law, the Second Amendment Preservation Act, was enacted in 2021 and had several unusual provisions. One declared various kinds of federal laws — including ones requiring the registration of weapons and making gun dealers keep records — to be “infringements on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.”

    A second provision prohibited the state from hiring former federal employees who had enforced such laws or given “material aid and support” to efforts to enforce them.

    A third allowed citizens to sue local police agencies for $50,000 for every incident in which they could prove that their right to bear arms had been violated. That last mechanism seemed to have been inspired by a novel Texas abortion law that provided bounties in lawsuits against abortion providers.

    In a brief statement on Friday, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, joined by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote that he agreed with the court’s ruling “under the present circumstances.” But he added that the court was powerless to block aspects of the Missouri law that resembled the one from Texas.

    Judge Brian C. Wimes of the Federal District Court in Kansas City ruled in March that the Missouri law was “an impermissible nullification attempt” at odds with the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which generally prohibits states from enacting measures at odds with federal law.

    “While purporting to protect citizens,” Judge Wimes wrote, the Missouri law “exposes citizens to greater harm by interfering with the federal government’s ability to enforce lawfully enacted firearms regulations designed by Congress for the purpose of protecting citizens within the limits of the Constitution.”

    Judge Wimes, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, expressed concern that some local and state police departments had withdrawn from joint federal task forces in light of the law and had refused to use weapons databases administered by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    […] “The Missouri legislature is free to express its opinions about the Second Amendment, and it is also free to prohibit state and local officials from assisting in the enforcement of federal law,” said the solicitor general, Elizabeth B. Prelogar. “But it is not free to purport to nullify federal statutes; to direct state officials and courts to treat those statutes as invalid and to protect against their enforcement; or to regulate and discriminate against federal officials enforcing those statutes.”

    Sounds like sort of good news that could change to bad news. All a bit iffy for now.

  19. says

    Wall Street Journal:

    Canada on Thursday said dozens of its diplomats in India have left the country after the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to remove their diplomatic immunity.

  20. says

    Washington Post:

    The social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, has removed the gold ‘verified’ badge from the New York Times’ account amid ongoing complaints about the news organization from X owner Elon Musk. The badge was the only symbol distinguishing the Times’ 55-million-follower account from impostors amid two major global conflicts in Israel and Ukraine.

  21. says

    Ukraine update: War accounting, by Mark Sumner.

    From the moment that Vladimir Putin launched this illegal, unprovoked invasion, open source intelligence from hundreds of sources has been vital for both reporters and the general public when it comes to understanding events in Ukraine. That applies to the politics within each nation, the shuffling of roles within the militaries, and the vital behind-the-scenes logistics.

    There are many different ways in which open source intelligence, known as OSINT, has helped to create a measuring stick for the relative strength and success of Russian invaders and Ukrainian defenders. Often that measurement has come in the form of maps and the calculation of distances as the two militaries vie over control of territory, and that may well be the most effective measure. However, those numbers have changed rapidly on occasion.

    The most common and most familiar measure of day-to-day action may be the one that is posted by the General Staff of the Ukrainian military. Their summary of Russian losses gives an estimate of Russian equipment and personnel going back to the start of the invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. It also breaks out the losses for the latest day. These numbers get repeated widely on social media, and (with some caveats) on Daily Kos. But how well do they measure real Russian losses, and how much does that matter?

    The second-best-known set of values when it comes to how much Russia has lost in this conflict is the OSINT site Oryx. The founder of the site put down his metaphorical pen on Oct. 1, and for months in advance of that date it seemed that this would be the end of updates. However, so far other analysts have continued to maintain Oryx’s list, so it’s (hopefully) up to date.

    The numbers from Oryx are documented losses. These are pieces of equipment that have been imaged, usually in videos, and can be confirmed as newly reported losses. The Oryx team does its best to eliminate instances in which the same loss is recorded from multiple angles, by different forms of imaging, or when older equipment is revisited days or weeks later. The Oryx numbers will not have everything. Not all losses are imaged, and not all images are of sufficient quality to ensure that they represent new losses. The numbers from this source are minimum losses, and even that is probably going too far.

    On the other hand, it’s understood that the numbers provided by the Ukrainian military are going to be on the high end. They’re not the maximum that could be estimated, but in many cases they are compilations of claims from individual soldiers and units. Those losses may falsely record the same piece of equipment. They may log the same loss twice because some of those pieces of equipment involved came off the line at different times. It’s not necessarily that the General Staff is deliberately overestimating Russian losses, but they’re also not holding up every reported loss to a cross-examination.

    Comparing the two sets of numbers can also be a bit difficult because of categorization. For both sources, a tank is a tank, but beyond that it gets slippery. What’s called an armored personnel vehicle in the daily military report is likely to overlap the categories of armored fighting vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers at Oryx. What shows up as generically labeled artillery systems at General Staff probably includes artillery support vehicles, towed artillery, self-propelled artillery, and self-propelled anti-tank missile systems at Oryx. But even when you’ve made these kinds of mappings, there are a lot of categories that are difficult to determine. Does that broad “armored” category in the military estimate also include engineering vehicles? Are radar installations considered part of anti-aircraft weapons?

    Using my best guesses, this is how things look at the moment: [graph at the link, showing a range of possible Russian losses using Oryx as a minimum and UA estimates as a maximum.]

    Comparing Russian losses as recorded at Oryx and by Ukrainian military [chart at the link] In the thankfully easy category of tanks, Ukrainian military estimates exceed those recorded by Oryx by 3,756. Or, from a different perspective, Oryx records 47% of the military’s estimated losses as confirmed. The armored vehicles category gives a similar result, with 44% of all reported losses being confirmed by Oryx.

    These seem like entirely reasonable values. In fact, having nearly half of all lost equipment be converted into confirmed losses seems very good. It makes the numbers reported by the Ukrainian military seem as if they’re pretty darn realistic.

    Things are uglier when it comes to artillery and MLRS. Even taking a generous view of how to map categories, just 15% of estimated artillery losses have been converted into confirmed images. MLRS systems are better, at 36% confirmed, but still well below the big front-line equipment.

    But of course, tanks and armored vehicles are just that: big and front-line. That makes it easier to confirm their loss. A piece of towed artillery parked a dozen kilometers from the front is unlikely to get the same level of attention. But then, much of the artillery lost in this conflict has either been taken down directly by FPV drones, or located by surveillance drones. That would seem to suggest that there should be imagery. That only 15% of those guns are ending up as confirmed losses is worrisome, especially considering how important artillery has been both in Russian advances and in locations where Russia has held against the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

    One item that Oryx doesn’t track is that most vital of military resources: people. Over the weekend, U.K. Defence Intelligence gave its most recent estimate of Russian losses. The numbers they posted (150,000-190,000 “permanent casualties” and 240,000-290,000 “temporarily wounded”) fall below the 294,700 estimated by the Ukrainian military, but not by much. Since the U.K. numbers do not include Wagner losses around Bakhmut, which have been estimated at 20,000, the numbers look remarkably good.

    Using the maximum U.K. estimate plus the Wagner numbers, that would be 210,000 Russians killed or wounded to an extent that they are unlikely to ever return to combat. That’s 71% of the number that Ukraine provides, and Ukraine’s number includes at least some wounded. Overall, this seems like a strong expression of confidence in the values provided by Ukraine. [Defense Intelligence Update available at the link]

    It’s easy to throw out the values that the Ukrainian military has provided, especially when it comes to places like Avdiivka, where they reported an astonishing 120 armored vehicles and as many as 45 tanks lost in a day. But the history of Ukraine’s reporting doesn’t suggest that these are gross exaggerations. It suggests that as more information comes in, many of these values will look very much in the ballpark, especially when it comes to personnel, tanks, and armored vehicles.

    But it would be interesting to know how Ukraine is calculating its estimates of artillery losses. Maybe we’ll just ask them.

    Does any of this matter? Yes, it matters. Because irrespective of what number or estimate you use, it’s clear that Russia can’t produce or repair some of these systems at the rate they are being lost. If conditions hold true, there will be a point where Russia can no longer proactively deploy equipment to attack […] That time isn’t here yet, but at least we have a pretty good clock.
    ——————————-
    Speaking of the daily report from the Ukrainian General Staff: [tweet and image at the link] The latest situation update indicates that Ukrainian forces beat back three attacks near Ivanivka, east of Kupyansk. Another attack took place near Nadiya, west of Svatove. Another 10 attacks took place along the line from Bakhmut south to Avdiivka. Then another 10 attacks were carried out at both Avdiivka and Marinka. After two weeks of attempted Russian attacks involving heavy losses, there remains a high level of activity.
    ——————————–
    More amazing footage out of Avdiivka. Seriously, it’s not so hard to believe those losses. [two videos at the link] Some Telegram accounts are saying that the trucks in this failed wave at Avdiivka are ancient GAZ-AA, though they may just be more of the same Urals that have been beaten up through the whole war. In any case, a transport truck column seems like a strange way to follow up two weeks of blasted-apart armor. [Another tweet, and image of 1930’s truck at the link: ‘According to plan 🤡. The #Russian Telegram “Z” channels are in an uproar that #Russia is now apparently using GAZ-AA trucks from the 1930’s to storm #Avdiivka. No wonder their casualties are high again.”]

    Finally, after sending tanks, then armored vehicles, then a wild array of trucks, could this be Russia’s next big means of assault? [tweet and video at the link: “Avdiivka, Donetsk region. Another russian suicide bombers are coming to storm [shows a column on men on foot]] Have they tried bicycles?

  22. says

    Donald Trump’s speeches are turning into incomprehensible, fascist pablum

    Donald Trump spent Monday in New Hampshire, formally filing his candidacy for the presidential primary before holding a rally in the town of Derry. Four indictments, multiple civil suits, and being a member of the Republican Party (which lives in a state of disarray without a speaker) may have taken their toll on Trump. Gone are the high-energy rallies of yesterday with never-ending chants of “Lock her up.” The sense of grievance remains, but the connection between Trump’s thoughts and his willingness to remember talking points has frayed.

    Some highlights from the Derry rally include:
    – Trump thinking second-grade wordplay makes him a genius.
    – Trump saying Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is the leader of Turkey.
    – Trump making sweeping Christofascist statements against immigrants.

    As eyebrow-raising as those bullet points may seem, they were delivered by a guy that looks like he wishes he could just be cheating at golf somewhere.

    Trump made sure he worked in his original recipe of xenophobia and racist ignorance, touching on immigration as a war on Christianity (or something), and offering up a real scary-sounding policy idea in which he promised to “implement strong ideological screening of all immigrants.” In case you thought Trump might try to finesse this bit of fascism, you would be wrong. He added:

    If you hate America, if you want to abolish Israel, if you don’t like our religion, which a lot of them don’t, if you sympathize with the jihadists, then we don’t want you in our country and you are not getting in, right? We don’t want you. Get out of here. Ya fired.

    [video at the link]

    Trump also talked about some of the great dictators he admired, like Viktor Orbán. Trump called the authoritarian prime minister of Hungary “one of the strongest leaders anywhere in the world,” adding, “He’s the leader of Turkey.” [video at the link]

    The top-line pablum from Trump was a run where he seemed to free-associate off of his attempt at an “America First” witticism, saying he told French President Emmanuel Macron that he, Donald Trump, was “for us.” Trump then added the rhetorical question: “You know how you spell us? You spell ‘us’ U.S.” Blarg!

    Trump kept at this riff for a while, asking another rhetorical question. “Has anyone ever thought of that?” He proceeded to take credit for inventing that bit of wordplay:

    I just picked that up. Couple of days [ago], I’m reading and it said, “Us.” And I said, “You know, if you think about it, us equals us.” Isn’t that, now, if we say something genius, they’ll never say it. You know, we get 25, 30, 40, 50, 80,000, 100,000 people to speeches. They’ve never said Trump’s a great speaker. Never said. I never heard it. I said to my people, “Do you think they’ll ever acknowledge? I must be doing okay.”

    [video at the link]

    The Derry rally was filled with so much incomprehensible drivel that it is still hard to believe that any political party could be so mired in manure and corruption that this vapid dirtbag continues to be the odds-on favorite to win the primary.

    That bit where Trump equated U.S. to the word “us” and then congratulated himself on his brilliance was just so fucking painful that I think I am traumatized. Trump is such an embarrassment .

    The Daily Beast:

    On Monday, Donald Trump took the stage at a Derry, New Hampshire campaign rally and told his fans that they didn’t need to worry about voting come election day next year. During his speech, Trump said he would have “plenty of votes”—enough that instead of voting, his fans should “get out there and watch those voters,” presumably referring to supporters of his eventual opponent. “You don’t have to vote, don’t worry about voting. The voting, we got plenty of votes.”

    Trump is circling the drain. I wonder how much longer we’ll have to watch this, how much longer we’ll have to point out his decline before he finally goes down.

  23. StevoR says

    For the past 40 years, Antarctic ecologist Dana Bergstrom has studied one of the wildest places on the planet.

    “Antarctica gets into your blood,” she says.

    “For somewhere so cold, it really makes your heart warm.”

    As a public servant with the Australian Antarctic Division, she operated inside a system where any outside communication about her scientific work was carefully calibrated, crafted and monitored.

    But, eventually, that calibration went beyond what Bergstrom thinks can be justified.

    “I was gagged,” she says.

    Recently retired, Bergstrom is now speaking out about being silenced.

    ..(Snip)..

    And she’s not alone. Ecologists and climate scientists have told the ABC of a widespread culture of suppression and self-censorship.

    Sometimes it’s insidious, driven by the fear of losing funding or contracts.

    Sometimes it’s overt, through active gagging or academic careers being threatened.

    All of that for attempting to “speak the truth” about environmental damage, ecosystem collapse and climate change.

    And it’s taking a toll, with scientists suffering mental anguish at their research being suppressed instead of being used to help save species on the brink of extinction, to help arrest the rapidly deteriorating state of the natural world.

    As one says: “It really impacts you, because how can it not?

    “You can’t look away.”

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-24/odyssey-climate-scientists-suppress-truth-or-risk-funds-careers/102968970

  24. StevoR says

    Sea-level rise: West Antarctic ice shelf melt ‘unavoidable’

    Increased melting of West Antarctica’s ice shelves is “unavoidable” in the coming decades, a new study has warned.

    These floating tongues of ice extend from the main ice sheet into the ocean, and play a key role in holding back the glaciers behind.

    But as ice shelves melt, it can mean that the ice behind speeds up, releasing more into the oceans.

    The study’s findings suggest that future sea-level rise may be greater than previously assumed.

    Source : https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-67171231

    Uh oh is an understatement here.

  25. Reginald Selkirk says

    Federal Judge Sides With Religious Clinic That Wants to Lie to Patients About Abortion Reversal

    On Saturday, a U.S. District Court judge in Colorado blocked a law that would have banned the abortion reversal pill in the state, siding instead with a Catholic medical clinic that wants to keep offering these “pills,” despite the very important fact that they don’t work and aren’t real.

    In April, Colorado Democrats passed Senate Bill 23-190, which would have made offering abortion pill reversal “unprofessional conduct” for medical professionals. The state’s pharmacy, nursing, and medical boards could have overruled it, but all agreed that doctors offering abortion reversal are performing activities outside “the generally accepted standard of practice.” Under the law, medical professionals offering such services would come under board investigation and face discipline on a case-by-case basis. The bill was part of a larger package to help expand access to reproductive care in Colorado.

    Hours after Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law on April 14, Bella Health and Wellness sued the state, saying that the abortion reversal part of the bill violated their First Amendment freedoms…

  26. Reginald Selkirk says

    Spanish police find archaeological treasures worth over $60 million stolen from Ukraine

    Police in Madrid have seized 60 million euros ($63.7 million) worth of ancient gold artifacts that had been stolen from Ukraine, the Spanish Interior Ministry announced on Oct. 23.

    In a joint operation with the the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the Spanish police seized 11 pieces of Scythian gold that had been “stolen and illicitly exported from Ukraine” in the first few months of 2016…

  27. says

    Tom Emmer prevails in GOP balloting, becomes speaker-designate

    Hoping to end weeks of chaos, House Republicans have chosen Majority Whip Tom Emmer as their speaker-designate. Now comes the hard part: electing him.

    NBC News:

    Republicans nominated Emmer to be House speaker, the third lawmaker to be nominated as the chamber enters its third week without a leader. Emmer defeated [GOP Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson of Louisiana] in the final round of voting.

    Commentary:

    […] For those keeping score, Plan A for Republicans was former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, but several of his own members helped force him from his position in a historic rebuke. Plan B was House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, but he too faced insurmountable opposition from GOP members and quit after one day. Plan C was House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, who managed to 200 votes on the House floor, before ultimately failing in the face of growing Republican opposition.

    All of which brings us to Emmer, who can fairly be seen as the party’s Plan D.

    Under normal circumstances, and in a healthy and mature political party, the next step would be entirely straightforward: Emmer is the choice of the majority party, so his speakership would be all but assured.

    Except, these aren’t normal circumstances […]

    This is a developing story.

  28. birgerjohansson says

    I want to plug the Youtube videos by Brit sceptic* Emma Thorne
    Here is one.
    “Conservative wants books burned: Matt Walsh versus the gay ”
    https://youtu.be/fFk9mFeOJh0

    *two nations divided by the same language. By a coincidence, Swedish spells “skeptic” the American way.

  29. says

    Followup to Reginald 234.

    […] Three of Trump’s key people are now admitting that they lied to try to steal the election. That’s never happened before. I know everyone is fatigued here and that we’ve become normalized to all this, but this should be a moment when the press attacks, and makes abundantly clear what the three of these flips together mean and asking hard questions of key Republicans. “Now that three of Trump’s inner circle have flipped – said under oath that their stolen election claims are fraudulent – do you continue to stand by former President Trump? Do you continue to assert that the election was stolen?”

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/powell-chesebro-ellis-guilty-pleas

  30. says

    Followup to Reginald @34, and me @39.

    Jenna Ellis’s statement of contrition … and mostly a statement blaming others:

    I endeavored to represent my client to the best of my ability. I relied on others, including lawyers with many more years of experience than I, to provide me with true and reliable information, especially since my role involved speaking to the media and to legislators in various states. What I did not do, but should have done, your Honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true.

    […] If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post election challenges.”

    […] I have taken responsibility already before the Colorado Bar who censured me, and I now take responsibility before this court and apologize to the people of Georgia.

    Commentary:

    It is important to note here that Ellis has a history of selling herself as a deeply moral Christian and has previously pleaded ignorance when faced with consequences for “mistakes” she has made in the past. She has demonstrably lied in all of those previous scenarios.

    Link

    Additional link, with details of Ellis lying previously when caught.

  31. says

    The Supreme Court confronts its own failure in an appalling case about guns

    The justices are seriously considering whether domestic abusers have a right to own a gun.

    The next gun rights case before the Supreme Court, United States v. Rahimi, involves an individual that no sensible society would allow to have a gun.

    Three years ago, according to the Justice Department, Zackey Rahimi and his girlfriend had an argument in a parking lot where Rahimi threatened to take away their mutual child. He then allegedly grabbed her wrist, knocked her to the ground, dragged her to the car, and hit her head on the dashboard. After he realized that a witness had seen this fight, Rahimi allegedly pulled a gun and fired at this bystander.

    He later called his girlfriend and allegedly threatened to shoot her if she told anyone that he’d assaulted her.

    This is one of a series of gun crimes allegedly committed by Rahimi. In 2020, he allegedly threatened another woman with a gun. According to the Justice Department, “Rahimi also participated in a series of five shootings in December 2020 and January 2021.” In one alleged incident, he “fired into the man’s house with an AR-15 rifle.” In another, he allegedly followed a truck and “fired multiple shots at another car that had been traveling behind the truck” after the truck’s driver flashed their headlights at Rahimi.

    Although Rahimi’s lawyers claim that these allegations are “disputed,” they do not deny any of the DOJ’s specific claims. Nor do they offer an alternative version of these events.

    Yet last February, a federal appeals court held that Rahimi and other domestic abusers have a constitutional right to own a gun. The Supreme Court will consider whether this decision was correct at a November 7 oral argument.

    The federal law at issue in Rahimi allows someone to be disarmed before they are actually convicted of a violent crime. But the law also provides several due process safeguards.

    Before anyone can be disarmed under this law, a court must have issued a restraining order against them, in a proceeding where the defendant was given an opportunity to appear and make their case. Federal law does not disarm anyone unless a court has either explicitly determined that they are a violent threat to their partner or to a child, or implicitly made such a determination by prohibiting them from engaging in violence against that partner or child.

    Nevertheless, the Fifth Circuit didn’t just strike down this law. It ruled that the law is unconstitutional on its face. That means that, if the Fifth Circuit’s decision is upheld by the Supreme Court, this federal ban on firearm possession by domestic abusers may never be applied to any individual, no matter how violent that individual may be and no matter how careful the court that issued a restraining order against such an individual was in ensuring that they received due process.

    And that brings us to the single worst aspect of the Fifth Circuit’s decision in United States v. Rahimi: It was correctly decided. Or, at least, it was correctly decided under the Supreme Court’s incompetently drafted decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022), which places an extraordinarily high burden on any government lawyer tasked with defending any gun law in court.

    Bruen was supposed to be the crown jewel of originalism — the belief, now ascendant among Republican lawyers and judges, that the only legitimate way to read the Constitution is to determine how it was understood when it was ratified. The Bruen opinion was the six GOP-appointed justices’ attempt to build an originalist framework from the ground up, one that forced judges to rely almost entirely on historical sources when deciding Second Amendment cases.

    A little more than a year after Bruen, it is clear that this approach is an unworkable failure that produces deeply immoral outcomes and that has fostered mass confusion within the federal judiciary.

    The core question in Rahimi, in other words, is whether the Court will back away from its decision in Bruen, which has led to all kinds of disastrous results, including the Fifth Circuit’s decision holding that abusive husbands have a right to keep a weapon they could use to murder their wives. […]

  32. lumipuna says

    Update on the Baltic Sea underwater infrastructure damage:

    Thus far this month, mysterious forces have broken a gas pipeline between Finland/Estonia and two data cables between Finland/Estonia/Sweden. Investigations are under way.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2023/oct/24/russia-ukraine-war-live-sabotage-attack-launched-on-sevastopol-says-occupation-governor

    Finnish police have said they retrieved a large anchor from the seabed near where a Baltic Sea gas pipeline ruptured earlier this month, and were investigating whether it belonged to a Chinese container vessel, Reuters reports.

    Police have previously said damage to the Balticconnector subsea gas pipeline and two Baltic Sea telecoms cables was caused by external mechanical force and were investigating whether this was a deliberate sabotage or caused by accident.

    Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday said they were focusing their probe on the Chinese NewNew Polar Bear container vessel which had travelled above the pipeline and the cables at the time of the damage.

    The NBI on Tuesday said they had established that the NewNew Polar Bear was in fact missing one of its front anchors, and said they had tried unsuccessfully to contact the ship to ask whether this was the one retrieved in the Gulf of Finland.

    This sounds almost comical. “Anchor, what missing anchor? La la la I can’t hear you”

    The damage to a telecommunications cable running under the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Estonia was “purposeful” [another source says “caused by external force or purposeful sabotage”], Sweden’s prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, has said.

    “We will not be more precise than that as of today,” Kristersson said at a press conference, after Swedish divers had investigated the seabed, the Associated Press reports.

    A spokesperson for the Swedish navy, Jimmie Adamsson, told the Swedish public broadcaster SVT that “we see seabed tracks nearby, but we don’t know if it’s deliberate or an accident”.

    On 17 October, Sweden reported damage to an undersea telecommunications cable that authorities believe occurred at the same time as damage to an undersea gas pipeline and telecommunications cable between Finland and Estonia.

    Sweden’s civil defence minister, Carl-Oskar Bohlin, said at the time that the cause of the damage was unclear, adding that it was “not a total cable break” but “partial damage”.

  33. says

    The United Auto Workers union expanded its strike against US car manufacturers Monday, with 6,800 workers walking out of a Stellantis pickup assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, to pressure the company to get its contract offer on par with those from General Motors and Ford. Stellantis, you’ll recall, is the weirdass international conglomerate based in the Netherlands that now owns the remnants of Chrysler Corporation, after partnerships with Mercedes, Fiat, and a series of Albanian arms dealers didn’t quite work out.

    The plant in Michigan manufactures the company’s popular RAM 1500 pickup trucks, which we just learned this morning haven’t been “Dodge”-branded pickups since 2009, after the Fiat merger. I bet I’m not the only one, huh? In the USA, Stellantis also make Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and we think Nutella. [:-)]

    In a statement, the UAW said it was time for Stellantis to get its shit together, and no, changing the company name again wouldn’t cut it.

    Despite having the highest revenue, the highest profits (North American and global), the highest profit margins, and the most cash in reserve, Stellantis lags behind both Ford and General Motors in addressing the demands of their UAW workforce. Currently, Stellantis has the worst proposal on the table regarding wage progression, temporary worker pay and conversion to full-time, cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), and more.

    […] With the latest walkouts, the total number of UAW members who’ve idled factories and distribution centers is up to 40,000, as the strike nears the six-week point.

    The union has called for a 40 percent pay increase for autoworkers, who accepted big concessions when automakers were struggling to stay in business during the 2007-2008 recession. According to Bloomberg News (we guess it’s just “Bloomberg” though, like “Business Insider” is calling itself just “Insider” and “Meet the Press” is now “Those Fucking Useless Shits”), insiders say the UAW hopes to actually get the manufacturers to agree to at least a 30 percent wage hike. But the poor sad manufacturers say they’re strapped, oh dear!

    So far, Ford says its offer of a 23% raise is as high as it can go, while GM and Stellantis have been reluctant to offer much more than roughly 20% increases.

    As that Bloomberg piece discusses in detail, autoworkers — union and non-union —have seen their real income drop about 30 percent since 2003, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics; that’s due to both the Great Recession agreement to allow lower wages for new hires, and also to the expansion of vehicle manufacturing in “right to work for nothing” states.

    But since 2010, the article notes, the various CEOs of the Big Three have done pretty well for themselves, with more than $1 billion in total compensation going to the 10 people who’ve been chief executives at the corporations in that time. During just those 13 years, autoworkers (again, all of ‘em) had a 17 percent drop in wages.

    Just to remind average working stiffs of all the ways corporate executives get money rubbed all over them, Bloomberg specifies,

    The $1 billion total that Detroit carmaker CEOs have taken home includes salaries, bonuses, the value of stock awards, fringe benefits and special payouts linked to retirement or corporate transactions. A spokesperson for Stellantis noted that recent mergers resulted in large one-time pay packages for the previous CEOs.

    But wait, the companies all reminded Bloomberg reporters, a lot of that compensation is tied to how well the corporations meet performance targets, so “If results worsen, payouts shrink.” That’s fair, huh? At least until you parse that and realize it means CEOs still rake in pretty good money even when the companies don’t. As Bloomberg notes, each of the current CEOs has a base salary of “at least $1.7 million, regardless of performance,” which suggests they just might be able to get by.

    […] General Motors’ third-quarter profits came in higher than analysts predicted, at $3.1 billion, despite a seven-percent decline in overall income due to the strike. […]

    Separate from the walkout at the big automakers, the UAW reached a tentative contract agreement with military contractor General Dynamics this weekend that, if ratified, should keep about 1,100 union workers on the assembly lines building Abrams tanks and other armored vehicles. Reuters reports that the four-year deal “provides a 14% wage hike, protection against inflation, reduces the time it takes to get to top pay and ‘beats back the company’s proposed healthcare concessions,’” according to the UAW. Tanks a lot!

    And finally here’s a nice thing: Dropkick Murphys dropped by the UAW picket line at a Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, on Sunday to sing a union song — through a bullhorn. This is the Way. [video at the link]

    We like the sweatshirt that says “No Justice, No Jeep” (It’s a picture of a Jeep.)

    We should note that while Dropkick Murphys have had many different band members — singer Ken Casey is the only member left from the band’s founding lineup in 1996 — they haven’t gone changing their name like some silly truck company might, so there.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/autoworkers-strike-expands-ceos-too

  34. says

    85-Year-Old Held Hostage in Gaza Says She ‘Went Through Hell’

    New York Times link

    Yocheved Lifshitz offered the first public account to emerge from the more than 200 hostages estimated to be held in Gaza.

    Yocheved Lifshitz, the 85-year-old woman who was released after being held hostage by Palestinian militants in Gaza for 17 days, on Tuesday described being beaten while her captors took her away on a motorcycle.

    Ms. Lifshitz said she was marched through a network of subterranean tunnels under Gaza that she likened to “a spider web.” She said that she was later treated relatively well, offering the first public account to emerge from the more than 200 hostages estimated to be held by Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza.

    “I went through hell,” Ms. Lifshitz told reporters the day after her release, sitting in a wheelchair at a hospital in Tel Aviv amid a thicket of microphones.

    She was freed along with Nurit Cooper, 79, on Monday and transferred from Hamas custody to Israeli forces via the International Committee for the Red Cross and Egypt. Both of their husbands are still being held hostage in Gaza.

    Her account of the tunnels offered a glimpse of the difficulties facing Israel as it weighs whether and how to launch a ground invasion of Gaza to eliminate Hamas, which led the devastating Oct. 7 attacks against Israel.

    […] Ms. Lifshitz’s voice at times faltered as she recalled her abduction and the horrors suffered by her neighbors when Hamas attacked her town of Kibbutz Nir Oz. Her daughter Sharone, who was crouched at her side on Tuesday, occasionally translated for foreign journalists.

    “Many people stormed our homes, they beat people, some of them they abducted, like me,” Ms. Lifshitz said. “It made no difference, they abducted the elderly and the young.”

    “In my memory, I have these images all the time,” she added later.

    She said her kidnappers hauled her onto a motorcycle and beat her painfully in the ribs, making it hard for her to breathe, and also took away her watch. They drove off through the fields surrounding Nir Oz.

    They took her through the network of tunnels until they reached a large hall where about 25 people were, she said. After about two to three hours, they separated five people from her kibbutz into their own room, where they were overseen by guards and a medic, she said.

    Ms. Lifshitz said that she and others were relatively well taken care of, given medicine and the same food as their captors. Fearing disease, her captors worked to sanitize the area, she said, and doctors would visit sporadically to check on them. […]

    Hamas has released four hostages, including Judith and Natalie Raanan, American-Israeli citizens who were freed last week. Ms. Lifshitz is the first released hostage to speak publicly about her ordeal.

    Ms. Lifshitz’s husband, Oded — an Israeli journalist and peace activist — remains in Hamas captivity, according to Israeli authorities. […]

  35. says

    More than 700 people were killed overnight, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said.

    New York Times link
     

    Gaza’s health care system is failing: Almost two-thirds of health facilities have ceased functioning, the World Health Organization said, and Gazan officials declared a “complete collapse.” NBC News link

    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, says it will be forced to stop operations in Gaza tomorrow night if it does not get fuel urgently.

    Hospitals in Gaza are hours away from being out of service because of a lack of fuel and the large numbers of injured people, according to Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra.

    “We are talking about a complete collapse of the health system, which has become unable to deal with the large number of wounded arriving at hospitals, with limited capabilities to treat the wounded, in addition to the rapid depletion of fuel, which will lead to a power outage,” he said. “We are only a few hours away from hospitals being out of service, and this was confirmed by international organizations familiar with the health situation in the Gaza Strip.”

    On Sunday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, said it will run out of fuel that is critical for its humanitarian response in the Gaza Strip in three days.

    “Without fuel, there will be no water, no functioning hospitals and bakeries,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement today. “Without fuel, aid will not reach those in desperate need. Without fuel, there will be no humanitarian assistance.”

    […] On Sunday, Al-Qudra said Gaza’s hospitals are in crisis amid a lack of fuel, which could put the lives of 1,100 kidney failure patients at risk, including 38 children.

  36. says

    Michael Cohen testifies Trump inflated asset values for ‘whatever number’ he wanted

    Donald Trump’s fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen faced off with him at the former president’s civil fraud trial Tuesday, testifying that he worked to boost asset values to “whatever number Trump told us to.”

    […] “I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets, based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected,” Cohen testified, saying that he and former Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg labored “to reverse-engineer the various different asset classes, increase those assets, in order to achieve a number that Mr. Trump had tasked us.”

    Asked what that number was, Cohen replied: “Whatever number Trump told us to.”

    […] Earlier this month, Trump dropped a $500 million lawsuit that accused Cohen of “spreading falsehoods,” causing “vast reputational harm” and breaking a confidentiality agreement for talking publicly about the hush-money payments. A Trump spokesperson said the former president was only pausing the lawsuit, while campaigning and fighting four criminal cases, and would refile later.

    Cohen took the stand after William Kelly, the attorney for Trump’s longtime former accounting firm, Mazars USA. The firm cut ties with Trump last year after James’ office raised questions about the reliability of his financial statements.

    Kelly said that the firm’s decision was based on the attorney general’s lawsuit and on Mazars’ own investigation, which suggested that the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, had provided “compromised” financial statements. […]

    Trump’s attorneys had sought to delay the trial on Tuesday, arguing that a rash of coronavirus cases in James’ office had put the former president’s health at risk.

    Trump lawyer Christopher Kise said it was “frankly irresponsible” not to postpone the proceeding. Another defense attorney, Alina Habba, objected to sharing a “contaminated” microphone with members of the attorney general’s office.

    James’ office, in a statement, said it had taken all steps to notify the relevant parties and had followed health guidance, adding that defense lawyers could wear masks if concerned. Trump and the attorneys at the defense table with him didn’t don masks.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Donald Trump showed up at a debate with Joe Biden knowing he had Covid, refused to take a test he had promised he would take, and risked infecting not only Biden but dozens of others who came near him. Hypocrisy meter is redlined.
    —————————
    Would it be rude to ask Trump’s attorneys or Trump himself if they have received the newest COVID vaccine which is more effective against the new variants?
    ————————-
    Trump isn’t actually required to be there.
    —————————
    Cohen learned the hard way that loyalty to Defendant Donnie is a one way street. Cohen has seemingly repented and turned his life around. Good for him. It it’s a credibility contest between Cohen and Defendant Donnie, Cohen wins, in my opinion. As for asking for a delay because of COVID, get real. If Defendant Donnie was really worried about his health, he wouldn’t voluntarily be in the courtroom, or he and his counsel would be wearing masks and asking for social distancing.

  37. says

    Trump makes everything worse … again.

    Two hours after House Majority Whip Tom Emmer secured the votes he needed to become the Republican conference’s speaker-designate, Donald Trump decided to weigh in on the developments. In fact, the former president published an unsubtle message to his social media platform, which read in part:

    “I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors. RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them. He never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement, or the breadth and scope of MAGA—MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! He fought me all the way, and actually spent more time defending Ilhan Omar, than he did me—He is totally out-of-touch with Republican Voters.”

    Trump’s missive concluded, “Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!”

    It’s worth noting for context that the former president published the message from a New York courthouse, in the midst of a difficult civil trial for the Trump Organization.

    There are a handful of angles to this that are worth keeping in mind. The first is that it was just 24 hours ago when Trump, while in New Hampshire, told reporters that he intended to steer clear of the House GOP’s process of choosing a new speaker. “I’m sort of trying to stay out of that as much as possible,” he told reporters.

    […] The second is that the timing of this public condemnation is especially brutal for the House majority whip. Emmer is facing a couple dozen intraparty opponents, whom he’s desperate to persuade, with the hopes of holding a floor vote before the end of the day. The fact that the party’s national leader just condemned him in no uncertain terms will make his pitch vastly more difficult.

    The third is that Emmer reached out to Trump directly ahead of the conference vote, making his case, and apparently telling the former president that he’s Trump’s “biggest fan.” Evidently, the lobbying didn’t have the intended effect.

    Finally, none of this comes as too big of a surprise. Politico reported late last week that the former president “privately conveyed to allies” that he opposed Emmer, and it was only a matter of time before that opposition went from oblique to overt.

    As for why, exactly, Trump has a problem with the Minnesota Republican, The Washington Post had a terrific report yesterday fleshing out the former president’s reasons, including the fact that Emmer voted to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory; Emmer encouraged GOP candidates in 2022 to focus less on Trump and more on local issues; and, according to sources close to the former president, “Emmer has not defended Trump enough on his indictments.” […]

    Link

  38. says

    Trump attorneys issue four midnight motions. None is likely to be successful

    Minutes ahead of a midnight deadline, Donald Trump’s attorneys made four separate filings in the D.C. District Court of Judge Tanya Chutkan. Each of these represents a separate motion to dismiss the indictment Trump is facing for conspiring to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election.

    The first motion seeks to dismiss the case on the basis that Trump really believes that he won the 2020 election, making everything he did protected by the First Amendment.

    The second motion seeks dismissal on the grounds that special counsel Jack Smith and his team did an insufficient job of explaining how Trump violated statues cited in the indictment.

    The third motion asks that Chutkan remove all language related to events on Jan. 6, arguing that since Trump isn’t charged with inciting these actions directly, their inclusion in the indictment is “inflammatory.”

    The fourth motion once again seeks a dismissal of the entire case, arguing that Smith engaged in “selective and vindictive prosecution” under pressure from President Joe Biden.

    Such requests for dismissal are routine in criminal cases. They are also routinely rejected.

    […] some of the motions filed on Monday night are really more run-of-the-mill despite being decorated with the usual level of Trump umbrage and chest-beating.

    The first motion comes down to drawing a line, as special counsel Jack Smith did in the indictment, between Trump’s ability to make claims about the 2020 election or seek a solution in the courts, and taking actions designed to overturn the election results. According to Trump’s team, that line doesn’t exist and everything Trump did was covered by the First Amendment.

    The New York Times calls this 31-page motion “some of the most substantial arguments” made by Trump’s team and describes it as a “rewrite [of] the underlying narrative” behind Smith’s case. In that rewrite, everything Trump did—including attempts to persuade state lawmakers to overturn the results of elections in their states, schemes to install slates of false electors, and pressure placed on Mike Pence to ignore electoral votes—was just Trump expressing himself in “the free marketplace of ideas.” The motion also includes a claim that there was “abundant public evidence” of fraud in the election, without providing any substance to support that claim.

    This motion isn’t just Trump’s attempt to get the case dismissed before it ever goes to trial, it can be expected to form the heart of his defense when the case does land in front of a jury. Trump will claim that since he believed he had actually won, anything he said—and any action he took—was a protected expression of that belief. This motion is the best preview of their case.

    The second motion is more of a stock-standard filing used in many indictments; basically, it’s a claim that prosecutors didn’t do an adequate job in preparing their filing. The weakness of this is underlined by how Trump’s attorneys spend time in the motion attacking not the indictment, but the underlying statutes, such as arguing that the law doesn’t clearly define what it means to “defraud the United States.” Such motions are very unlikely to lead to dismissal.

    […] the third motion from Trump’s team concerns the portions of the indictment that describe the violence of the mob assaulting the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump’s attorneys argue that because he’s not being directly charged with inciting these events, that language doesn’t belong in the indictment. Winning on this point might give Trump something to brag about, even if it didn’t materially affect the charges against Trump. However, it might shift the strength of the government’s case or limit potential penalties, so the results of this motion are still worth watching.

    The claim of selective enforcement raised in the fourth motion is another common motion and one that has been attempted by many Jan. 6 defendants over the past two years. Those claims have not been successful, in large part because prosecutors do tend to be a bit selective when it comes to going after people who are obviously guilty.

    Much of the reference of the fourth motion cites media appearances and past statements designed to show that prosecutors were biased against Trump. It also makes claims such as “Joe Biden pressured the DOJ to pursue the naked political indictment in this case” as well as insisting that Biden wants this prosecution to prevent Trump from running in 2024. Some of the evidence cited in this motion includes Trump’s own social media statements.

    Trump may well have raised this objection only because it does mirror the failed attempts by Jan. 6 defendants, drawing another connection for his followers. Whatever his reasons, this document stands out as more of a rant than a legal motion. This motion is more about creating a narrative than seriously expecting a dismissal.

    All of these motions seem designed to do the thing that Trump does regularly in legal proceedings: generate delay. Some, like the fourth, are likely to require no more time than it takes Chutkan to read them and pen a dismissal. But the first one is particularly interesting because it seems very much like a step-by-step walkthrough of the points Trump’s legal team will raise when all this is happening in front of a jury.

  39. says

    Emmer has shortest ‘speaker designee’ reign ever, drops out

    […] Where do they go from here? Hell if I know. There could be the McHenry Empowerment option, but too many on the right are too paranoid about that. The only way that happens is with a power-sharing agreement with Dems and I don’t know that McHenry would be open to that. They are well and truly stuck.

    EMMER just briskly walked out of the Longworth House Office Building.

    The meeting is ongoing and he’s gone.

    🚨🚨BREAKING — TOM EMMER has dropped out of the race for speaker.

  40. says

    Not just a shutdown, we may get to a shutdown that isn’t a display of political defiance with paying the national bills. We’ll get a shutdown from political dominance displays that mess up electing a person meant to make congress work on a basic level.

    They’ll still try to take credit for it too.

  41. says

    Looking at China from a different angle: China’s Age of Malaise

    New Yorker link

    Party officials are vanishing, young workers are “lying flat,” and entrepreneurs are fleeing the country. What does China’s inner turmoil mean for the world? By Evan Osnos

    […] When I return to China these days, the feeling of ineluctable ascent has waned. The streets of Beijing still show progress; armadas of electric cars glide by like props in a sci-fi film, and the smoke that used to impose a perpetual twilight is gone. But, in the alleys, most of the improvised cafés and galleries that used to enliven the city have been cleared away, in the name of order; overhead, the race to build new skyscrapers, which attracted designers from around the world, has stalled. This summer, I had a drink with an intellectual I’ve known for years. He recalled a time when he took inspiration from the dissidents of the Eastern Bloc: “Fifteen years ago, we were talking about Havel.” These days, he told me with a wince, “people don’t want to say anything.” […]

    The embodiment of this reversal is Xi Jinping, the General Secretary and President, who has come to be known among the Party rank and file by a succinct honorific: the Core. In the years before Xi rose to power, in 2012, some Party thinkers had pushed for political liberalization, but the leaders, who feared infighting and popular rebellion, chose stricter autocracy instead. Xi has proved stunningly harsh; though at first he urged young people to “dare to dream,” and gestured toward market-oriented reforms, he has abandoned Deng’s “courageous experiments” and ushered his country into a straitened new age. To spend time in China at the end of Xi’s first decade is to witness a nation slipping from motion to stagnation and, for the first time in a generation, questioning whether a Communist superpower can escape the contradictions that doomed the Soviet Union.

    At the age of seventy, Xi has removed term limits on his rule and eliminated even loyal opponents. He travels less than he used to, and reveals little of the emotion behind his thinking; there is no public ranting or tin-pot swagger. He moves so deliberately that he resembles a person underwater. […] censors vigilantly guard Xi’s honor; a leak from a Chinese social-media site last year revealed that it blocks no fewer than five hundred and sixty-four nicknames for him, including Caesar, the Last Emperor, and twenty-one variations of Winnie-the-Pooh.

    Unlike Deng and Jiang, Xi has never lived abroad, and he has become openly disparaging about the future of the U.S. and its democratic allies, declaring that “the East is rising and the West is declining.” He does not mask displeasure at the occasional run-in with a free press; on the sidelines of a G-20 summit last year, he complained to the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, “Everything we’ve discussed has been leaked to the papers, and that’s not appropriate.” In the exchange, captured by a Canadian television crew, Xi flashed a tense smile and demanded “mutual respect,” adding, “Otherwise, there might be unpredictable consequences.”

    Year by year, Xi appears more at home in the world of the man he calls his “best and closest friend,” Vladimir Putin. In March, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian President on war-crimes charges, Putin hosted Xi in Moscow, where they described relations as the best they have ever been. Clasping hands for a farewell in the doorway of the Kremlin, Xi told Putin, “Right now there are changes—the likes of which we haven’t seen for a hundred years—and we are the ones driving these changes together.” Putin responded, “I agree.”

    In China, as in much of the world, you can tell a lot about a place by its bookstores. For years, readers in Shanghai, the nation’s most cosmopolitan city, had Jifeng—“Monsoon”—which opened in 1997, just as Wang Xiaobo was breaking through. It was the city’s undisputed liberal outpost, where even the most esoteric speakers drew a crowd. But in 2017 the public library, which owned the building, cancelled the lease, citing “increased regulations” on state-owned property. The owner, Yu Miao, scouted new sites, but, every time, the landlord got a call and Yu was turned away. He ultimately realized that “Jifeng can’t get a foothold.” Even the farewell party, to sell off the last books, was plunged into darkness by sudden “equipment maintenance.” Buyers kept shopping in darkness, using cell phones as flashlights. Today, nobody would dare try to open a store like that. […]

    As a matter of scale, China is as formidable as ever: it is the largest trading partner for more than a hundred and twenty countries, it is home to at least eighty per cent of the supply chain for solar panels, and it is the world’s largest maker of electric vehicles. But the downturn has shaken citizens who have never experienced anything but improvements in their standard of living. People who shunted their life savings into contracts for new apartments are contending with unfinished concrete blocks in overgrown lots, because the developers ran out of money. Civil treasuries are similarly depleted, by the shutdowns required by China’s “zero-covid” policy; there are reports of teachers and civil servants going unpaid. […]

    I was struck by how many people have come to doubt that China will achieve the heights they once expected. “The word I use to describe China now is ‘grieving,’ ” an entrepreneur told me. “We’re grieving for what was an exceptional time.” […]

    The space for pop culture, high culture, and spontaneous interaction has narrowed to a pinhole. Chinese social media, which once was a chaotic hive, has been tamed, as powerful voices are silenced and discussions closed. Pop concerts and other performances have been cancelled for reasons described only as “force majeure.” Even standup comics are forced to submit videos of jokes for advance approval. This spring, a comedian was investigated for improvising a riff on a Chinese military slogan (“Fight well, win the battle”) in a joke about his dogs going crazy over a squirrel. His representatives were fined two million dollars and barred from hosting events. […]

    Disappearances, of one kind or another, have become the backbeat of Chinese public life under Xi Jinping. The head of China’s missile force, Li Yuchao, was secretly detained sometime during the summer. His political commissar vanished, too. Under the unwritten rules of these kinds of disappearances, an official report will eventually disclose what the two men did and what happened to them, but in the meantime there was little more than a rumor that they were being investigated for corruption or, perhaps, leaking state secrets.

    The missing generals marked an unusually busy summer of purges. […]

    Since 2012, when Xi launched an “anti-corruption” campaign that grew into a vast machine of arrest and detention, China has “investigated and punished 4.089 million people,” according to an official report from 2021. Some of the disappeared eventually go on trial in courts that have a ninety-nine-per-cent conviction rate; others are held indefinitely under murky rules known as “double restrictions.” The disappeared hail from every corner of life […]

    The return of disappearances and thought work on this scale has made clear that, for all of China’s modernizations, Xi is no longer pantomiming the rule of law; he has returned China to the rule of man. At his core, a longtime observer told me, Xi is “Mao with money.”

    […] In July, the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that youth unemployment had hit a record high of twenty-one per cent, nearly twice the rate four years earlier.

    […] In Xi’s China—like Putin’s Russia and Viktor Orbán’s Hungary—a war on democratic influence has brought about a resurgence of gender inequality; in 2021, the Party committed itself to “traditional virtues of the Chinese nation” and the “social value of childbearing.” Signs of regression are stark: for the first time in decades, the Politburo is composed entirely of men. Feminist activists are often prosecuted.

    […] In Xi’s China—like Putin’s Russia and Viktor Orbán’s Hungary—a war on democratic influence has brought about a resurgence of gender inequality; in 2021, the Party committed itself to “traditional virtues of the Chinese nation” and the “social value of childbearing.” Signs of regression are stark: for the first time in decades, the Politburo is composed entirely of men. Feminist activists are often prosecuted.

    […] people found ways out. More than three hundred thousand Chinese moved away last year, more than double the pace of migration a decade ago, according to the United Nations. Some are resorting to extraordinary measures. […] This summer, authorities at America’s southern border reported a record 17,894 encounters with Chinese migrants in the previous ten months—a thirteenfold increase from a year earlier.

    […] In June, Henley & Partners, which advises wealthy individuals on how to get residence and citizenship by investment, reported that China lost a net total of 10,800 rich residents in 2022, surpassing Russia as the world’s leading exporter of wealthy citizens.

    […] Since Malta started selling permanent residence, in 2015, eighty-seven per cent of applicants have been Chinese. Earlier this year, Ireland abandoned its investment-migration program, amid concerns over China’s domination of the process. […]

    Text above is an excerpt from a much longer article.

  42. says

    Mark Meadows flips, reportedly makes deal to testify against Trump

    ABC News is reporting that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has made a deal with special counsel Jack Smith to testify in the federal trial concerning Donald Trump’s schemes to overturn the 2020 election.

    The sources said Meadows informed Smith’s team that he repeatedly told Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election that the allegations of significant voting fraud coming to them were baseless, a striking break from Trump’s prolific rhetoric regarding the election. …

    “Obviously we didn’t win,” a source quoted Meadows as telling Smith’s team in hindsight.

    It was known that Meadows had met with Smith’s team several times, but this is the first report that Meadows has actually reached a deal to testify. According to ABC, Meadows has been granted immunity for this testimony. There’s no indication he is pleading guilty to any charges at this point.

    On a day when Trump was already facing a raft of flippers, this is the big one.

  43. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ex-NSA techie pleads guilty to selling state secrets to Russia

    A former US National Security Agency techie has plead guilty to six counts of violating the Espionage Act after being caught handing classified information to FBI agents he thought were Russian spies.

    Jareh Sebastian Dalke will be facing up to life in prison when sentenced in April 2024, though in his plea agreement [PDF] the government agreed to seek a sentence no greater than 262 months (just shy of 22 years) “if the government determines [Dalke] has cooperated fully … and the information [he] has provided has been truthful, complete, accurate and of value.” …

  44. Reginald Selkirk says

    Sidney Powell pushes claims that 2020 election was rigged and prosecutors ‘extorted’ her after she pleaded guilty to election interference

    Sidney Powell may have pleaded guilty to interfering in the 2020 presidential election, but she still seems to think President Joe Biden’s victory was illegitimate.

    On her social media accounts, Powell has continued to push claims that the 2020 election was rigged and that prosecutors in Georgia who brought the criminal case against her are politically motivated. The newsletter published by her dark money group has shared articles arguing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis “extorted” her guilty plea….

    That sounds like the sort of behavior that might endanger a plea bargain.

  45. says

    Reginald @55, I hope that behavior comes back to bite her. So far, Powell has a slap-on-the-wrist judgement. Looks like she is going to end up in more serious trouble if she keeps this up.

  46. says

    Ukraine Update: The new Bakhmut, by Mark Sumner

    At the Battle of the Somme in World War I, British troops were famously told to walk, not run, toward enemy positions on the other side of No Man’s Land. There were reasons for this that sounded good to commanders, and some military historians will defend those reasons to this day. But at the end of that day, 20,000 troops were dead and another 40,000 were wounded, turning it into one of the most horrific slaughters in a horrific war.

    Thoughts of that event were thoroughly in mind over the past two weeks as Russian commanders first sent troops forward in knots of tanks and armored transport, then a line of aging trucks, and finally on foot in an effort to capture positions near the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine.

    Just as at the Somme, the results of Russian efforts to advance have been jaw-dropping numbers of men killed and machines lost. But now, after more than two weeks of devastation, Russia finally has something to show for all its losses at Avdiivka.

    On Tuesday, Russia managed to plant its flag … on a mountain of waste.

    Over the past two weeks, an ugly piece of high ground near the town of Krasnohorivka has been the focus of Russian efforts. However, the repeated description of this location as a “waste heap” is likely to give the wrong impression.

    This isn’t a garbage dump, and it’s not a small mound of trash. The Avdiivka region has been an area of heavy coal mining, and the “mountain” in question is actually a pile of unreclaimed overburden (the rock from above the coal) removed from a large surface mine just to the south. That loose and broken rock has been mounded up tens of meters above the surrounding territory and left to weather.

    Because the area is also home to plants that turn coal into coke for use in steel production, some of the waste at this location seems to be leftover clinkers and baked bits of shale from this process.

    I grew up in Muhlenberg County, where cars were tagged with heart-shaped property tax stickers to remind us that we were “in the heart of the Western Kentucky Coalfield.” All around my hometown were hills just like those near Avdiivka: heaps of raw, dark, sulfur-laced shale fragments scattered with rubble from layers of siltstone, sandstone, and low-quality coal. Walking over them was much like trying to climb through the naked scree that sometimes decorates the slopes of mountains far above the tree line—with the added bonus of pools of yellowed water with pH mimicking that of battery acid cutting through steep eroded gullies whose banks included sections of shale descending into gooey, foot-sucking clay.

    In the decades since, those hills around my home have been heavily planted with acid-resistant pines and black locusts, and much of the toxic runoff has been treated. But that never happened at Avdiivka. The ground Russia has been fighting to control this past fortnight is as ugly as you can imagine. Barren. Broken. Unstable. Utterly devoid of anything that seems like decent cover.

    They want it, presumably, because it is high ground in an area where that’s a rare thing. But its value is, at best, debatable. You can get a sense of what this region is like by looking at the flag Russians so proudly planted in the area they’ve been struggling to reach. [Tweet and video at the link]

    What you don’t see in that picture is any sign of the people who planted that flag. On at least two other occasions, Russian forces reached the base of the waste mountain, only to end up having their vehicles (and men) shattered by a combination of precision artillery and FPV drones. Unlike positions to the north, there are no treelines here. The bumpy heaps of spoil may offer some protection from forces on the ground, but they don’t provide visual cover or any real protection from attacks from above. Any attempt to dig protective trenches here would likely be pointless.

    The little red star represents the location of the waste mountain flag. [map at the link]

    Still, this movement near Krasnohorivka represents a genuine Russian advance after days of effort. despite everything Ukraine has done to annihilate Russian columns in the area. In spite of messages of disgust from Russian soldiers and levels of loss that had Ukrainian defenders shaking their heads, Russia appears to have moved their area of control by a kilometer or more.

    This is just one of the factors that has many pundits and bloggers on both sides describing Avdiivka as “the new Bakhmut.” By that, they don’t just mean the latest area subject to slow destruction by Russian artillery, but the latest area that Russia is determined to capture, no matter what losses must be endured. [Tweet and imaged at the link, shows Avdiivka Coke Coal Plant in 2017]

    Vladimir Putin has been discussing Avdiivka in recent interviews, and some sources on Telegram are indicating that he aims to see the city captured in advance of Russian elections in 2024. It would not seem likely that any action in Ukraine short of utter defeat would seriously alter Putin’s reported plans, but the fact that he’s pointing to Avdiivka surely means that the Russian assault there is considered important. It’s unlikely to be abandoned any time soon. [Bad news for Russian soldiers.]

    For months, Russia has kept over 120,000 troops on the eastern front, probing for a location where they could make some show of “victory.” Avdiivka looks to be the chosen place.

    And now the question is: Can Russia, no matter how determined and how willing to sacrifice, still do what they did at Bakhmut six months ago, or at Severodonetsk the year before that? Can Russia still advance and capture a location in the face of determined opposition from Ukraine? With everything both sides have experienced and lost, can Russia still drive into Ukrainian forces on a wave of sacrificed troops? Can they do it without weakening their forces elsewhere so much that Ukraine captures far more than it loses?

    Avdiivka hasn’t really been a functioning city for some time. After the 2014 invasion, its proximity to the “rebel capital” at Donetsk made the city a frequent target for artillery and aircraft strikes. The population of Avdiivka, once over 30,000, had already drifted down to around 2,000 in the early days of Putin’s latest war. Most of the area’s mines, coke plants, and industrial sites have long been closed. As with Bakhmut, the capture of Avdiivka would give Russia blocks of empty buildings, most of which had already been shattered by their own artillery. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Videos of the city have an eerie resemblance to Bakhmut. But then … everywhere Russia goes eventually bears an eerie resemblance to the Moon.

    However, it could be argued that capturing Avdiivka would have significantly more strategic importance than Bakhmut, if only because it would provide a greater buffer to Donetsk.

    Things are still not going swimmingly for Russian forces at Avdiivka. On Tuesday, they again lost multiple armored vehicles in a reported six failed attacks from the north. There are also reports that Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive in the area, advancing in the south near Vodyane. This could potentially offset Russian gains in the north and counter any plan to surround Avdiivka. However, it’s not clear at this point how large or successful that Ukrainian counterattack has been.

    Stay tuned.
    ————————-
    In addition to Avdiivka, Russia has launched a major effort (again) near Kupyansk at the far north of the line.

    The Ukrainian General Staff reports repelled attacks near Synkivka, northeast of Kupyansk. Notably, the attacks in the area are reported as “major” and as having air support. This suggests something considerably larger than past efforts in the area, which have mostly been of the small-squad level.

    The Washington Post had correspondents in the area on Tuesday and described this as a “ferocious” attack. As at Avdiivka, they reported that Russia has recently bolstered its forces in the area with “Storm Z” units of prisoners, which suggests that Kupyansk may also soon be subject to “meat wave” attacks.

    […] this is definitely an area where Russia has tried to exert itself previously. Putin would love to recapture some of the ground lost in the Kharkiv counteroffensive a year ago and the goal of pushing Ukrainian forces back across the Oskil River was announced back in the spring.

    This is definitely another area to watch.
    —————————
    Meanwhile, on Sunday, there were reports that Ukrainian forces had once again crossed the Dnipro River north of Kherson and attacked Russian positions on the left bank. [map at the link]

    For months now, Ukraine has held the position around the eastern end of the Antonivka Bridge. The bombed-out nature of that bridge and Ukraine’s inability (so far) to construct any means of bringing armored forces across the river has prevented Ukrainian troops from making any serious move toward Oleshky. However, in spite of repeated efforts and heavy bombing by Russia, Ukraine has held to this location.

    Recently, Ukraine reportedly moved more forces across near an also impassable railroad bridge about 5 kilometers upstream. As with the Antonivka group, this seems to be a limited squad of special forces—six to eight small boats’ worth—which has expanded the area of Ukrainian control along the river but not made any significant inroads into nearby cities.

    Finally, a new group has now been reported as far north as Krynky, about 20 kilometers upstream from the original group. The river is narrower at this location (though still about 300 feet across) and again it doesn’t seem that Ukraine has made a move to create any kind of bridge or pontoon crossing. So this is likely additional small groups of men skirmishing outside population centers.

    Whether these small groups on the bank of the river are the start of something larger or whether they suggest the limit of Ukraine’s abilities in this area for the moment remains unclear.
    ——————————-
    Okay, so much for that. Seems like a waste of an FPV, but then again, they are cheap. [Tweet and video at the link: Update on the Russian flag and unit banner placed by the 114th Motorized Rifle Regiment on the slag heap north of Avdiivka, Ukrainian forces hit it with an FPV loitering munition.]
    ———————————-
    Glorious. [Tweet and video at the link: “Oy u luzi chervona kalyna”
    “Ой у лузі червона калина”
    Listen, this is an incredible performance by “Zhorzhyny”🫶
    💙💛💙💛💙💛]

  47. says

    Followup to comment 57.

    Posted by readers of the Ukraine Update:

    Meat waves are as psychologically damaging for those who are required to kill their enemy as much as for those who survive it. I hope that when this war finally ends there will be several organizations that step up to work with the servicemembers. They are going to need it.
    ——————————–
    I can’t think of the Battle of the Somme without thinking of this bit from the WWI-themed show “Blackadder Goes Forth”

    Gen. Melchett: Field Marshal Haig has formulated a brilliant new tactical plan to ensure final victory in the field.
    Capt. Blackadder: Would this brilliant plan involve us climbing out of our trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy?
    Capt. Darling: How could you possibly know that, Blackadder? It’s classified information!
    Capt. Blackadder: It’s the same plan that we used last time… and the 17 times before that.
    —————————
    so it kind of failed to include the end result, which was 100K Brits killed/missing, another 300K wounded, and a failure to achieve the main objectives, despite penetrating 6 miles into German territory
    —————————-
    “Still, this movement near Krasnohorivka represents a genuine Russian advance” — And that is the issue with which we should be concerned because it suggests that the Russians, still, can afford to burn material at a faster rate than Ukraine can dispose of it. Meanwhile, U.S. financial support stalls while Congress works out the election of a new Speaker — which may portend that Russia may be able to burn material for a longer duration than Ukraine can afford to dispose of it.
    ———————————
    Daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County?
    Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
    Well, I’m sorry, my son, but you’re too late in askin’
    Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away
    Paradise — John Prine

  48. says

    Follow up to comment 50.

    Okay, here’s yet another guy nominated to be Speaker of the House for Republicans.

    House GOP gives Mike Johnson Speaker nod after whirlwind Emmer dropout

    House Republicans nominated Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) for Speaker Tuesday evening, making him the fourth GOP lawmaker to win the conference’s nod — and its second nominee within a day after House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) dropped out of the running amid GOP opposition.

    The House GOP is becoming increasingly desperate in its quest to find a Republican who can win the Speaker’s gavel on the House floor, after passing the three-week mark […]

    Earlier in the day, Johnson came in second to Emmer in a nominating vote that spanned five ballots.

    Johnson’s nomination capped off the end of a whirlwind day — but forecasted signs of even more twists and turn in the Speaker saga as more than three dozen House lawmakers signaled allegiance to former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

    […] While Johnson won the nomination with 128 votes to 29 for Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), 43 members voted for McCarthy, according to a source in the room.

    Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) told reporters ahead of the vote that he and an undisclosed number of GOP lawmakers planned to vote for McCarthy on the first nomination ballot because the California Republican is the conference’s “best shot.”

    “I think all the candidates up there are qualified to be Speaker, I just don’t know that anyone can get closer than Kevin McCarthy can,” he told reporters. […]

    House Republicans are set to hold an internal roll call validation vote on Johnson’s speaker nomination at 9 a.m. on Wednesday — in which each member will say whether they can plan to vote for Johnson, or another candidate, on the House floor — to see if he can get the required number of 217 to win on the House floor. […]

    JFC

  49. says

    U.S. details intelligence it says clears Israel in Gaza hospital blast

    Washington Post link

    American officials claim ‘high confidence’ that the al-Ahli Hospital explosion was not Israel’s fault, but they are less certain a Palestinian group was to blame.

    […] The intelligence community reached its conclusion after examining multiple videos and using geolocation techniques to trace the Oct. 17 blast to a rocket launched inside Gaza that suffered a mechanical failure midflight before crashing into the hospital, three officials said. They spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the government.

    Analysts are unable to say for sure who launched the rocket, because of a lack of information that conclusively points to the culprit, the officials said. They have examined intercepted communications of fighters affiliated with Hamas, who can be heard speculating that Palestinian fighters were responsible for the rocket strike, one U.S. official said. The communication, which was provided to the United States by the Israeli government, is different from a recording that the Israel Defense Forces released publicly, the official noted.

    But absent other points of information and supporting material, analysts could only conclude with “low confidence” that Palestinian fighters were responsible. […]

  50. says

    New York Times:

    The Biden administration is concerned that Israel lacks achievable military objectives in Gaza, and that the Israel Defense Forces are not yet ready to launch a ground invasion with a plan that can work, senior administration officials said.

    Sounds too much like fog-of-war speculation. Not sure if I trust that report.

    Associated Press:

    The White House said Tuesday that ‘prudent contingency planning’ is underway to evacuate Americans from the Middle East in case the Israel-Hamas war spreads into a broad regional conflict. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stressed there are currently no ‘active efforts’ to evacuate Americans from the region beyond charter flights the U.S government began operating earlier this month out of Israel.

    NBC News:

    Blinken, speaking to the U.N. Security Council this morning, confirmed that 33 Americans have been killed in Israel amid the country’s war with Hamas.

  51. says

    NBC News:

    Seventy-six people were arrested for attending a birthday party for gay people in northern Nigeria, the country’s paramilitary agency said on Monday, adding that the organizer had also planned to hold a same-sex wedding, which is illegal.

    Not really directly related … but … Mike Johnson, (Republican from Louisiana), is an anti-LGBTQ doofus who is now the new guy nominated for Speaker. See comment 59.

  52. says

    Associated Press:

    The Biden administration on Monday designated 31 technology hubs spread across 32 states and Puerto Rico to help spur innovation and create jobs in the industries that are concentrated in these areas. … The tech hubs are the result of a process that the Commerce Department launched in May to distribute a total of $500 million in grants to cities.

  53. wzrd1 says

    Washington state Senator brought a pistol through the TSA checkpoint, then flew to Hong Kong with it, was arrested in Hong Kong. Possibly 14 year sentence, if convicted. Pistol was hidden inside of his briefcase.
    https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/24/asia/hong-kong-us-politician-charged-over-gun-intl-hnk/index.html
    Oddly, whenever I’ve gone through a TSA predeparture screening, they even tried to open a classified package I was couriering. That last didn’t end very well for them.
    Procedure to courier a classified package is to double wrap it in opaque wrapping, the inner wrapping properly marked with the item’s classification level, the outer wrapping concealing that. If challenged by authorities, they can only open to view the inner wrapping and classification marking, verify the presence of a courier ID card and the matter is closed.
    While they were talking about searching the package, I made a quick call, their checkpoint telephone rang shortly after and well, the matter was closed, with much blanched faces.
    So, howinhell did a state anyone carry a firearm inside of a carry on briefcase onto an international flight?
    Oh well, embarrassed feds are looking into it, as is the Hong Kong police, who are incensed about the firearm, as firearm violence and possession is pretty much unheard of there and State is involved as well.

  54. KG says

    Washington Post, quoted by Lynna, OM@60:

    Analysts are unable to say for sure who launched the rocket, because of a lack of information that conclusively points to the culprit, the officials said. They have examined intercepted communications of fighters affiliated with Hamas, who can be heard speculating that Palestinian fighters were responsible for the rocket strike, one U.S. official said. The communication, which was provided to the United States by the Israeli government, is different from a recording that the Israel Defense Forces released publicly, the official noted.

    That should read “alleged intercepted communications of fighters affiliated with Hamas”. There is absolutely no reason to trust anything from the Israeli government, and why would this “communication” be “different from a recording that the Israel Defense Forces released publicly”, if there really is such an intercepted communication?

  55. StevoR says

    Numerous global systems humans rely on for survival — including ecosystems, groundwater, insurance and the space industry — are on the precipice of catastrophic tipping points, according to a new report by the United Nations University.

    The report says the world is “perilously close” to triggering these tipping points that could have “irreversible, catastrophic impacts for people and the planet”.

    But there is some positive news.

    The authors of the Interconnected Disaster Risk report say that by knowing these thresholds are looming, we have an opportunity to avert their worst effects.

    To do that we must exploit “positive tipping points” — changes that have cascading and self-perpetuating positive impacts on society, and could bring about the shifts needed to ensure our survival, the authors say.

    “Our message with this report is that we are heading towards these tipping points, but the causes that we highlight have to do with our behaviours and our values,” lead author Dr Jack O’Connor says.

    “So we have the ability. We have the choice to make.”

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-25/un-report-warns-tipping-points-crisis-humanity-must-take-action/103014684

  56. whheydt says

    Here we go again?
    https://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/news/2023/10/25/4_5_size_earthquake_north_of_grindavik/

    An earthquake measuring 4.5 magnitude struck 4 km north of Grindavík at 8.18 this morning. It was felt in Grindavík and all of the Suðurnes area in the Reykjanes peninsula but also in the capital area. When the earthquake hit it was immediately perceived to be over 4 in magnitude by specialists.

    The earthquake follows another earthquake of magnitude 3.9 that hit a similar area around 5:30 this morning. A seismic swarm started in this area after midnight both near Þorbjörn mountain and Fagradalsfjall mountain.
    The map shows the location of the two biggest earthquakes …

    The map shows the location of the two biggest earthquakes this morning. Map/The Icelandic Met Office

    According to Einar Bessi Gestsson, a natural hazard specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, the final magnitude of the earthquake was measured at 4.5 magnitude.
    700 earthquakes since midnight

    Since last night, the Icelandic Met Office’s automatic system has detected about 700 earthquakes on the Reykjanes peninsula. Most of them have occurred north of Grindavík and near Fagradalsfjall.

    “There is still considerable small earthquake activity in the area and it is not impossible that tremors of similar magnitude as this morning will occur again. Last time tremors of similar magnitude were measured on the Reykjanes peninsula in July of this year,” says in an announcement from the Icelandic Met Office.

    This is an area that has had three–small–volcanic eruptions in as many years.

  57. Reginald Selkirk says

    Scientist, After Decades of Study, Concludes: We Don’t Have Free Will

    Corinne Purtill reports via Phys.Org:

    Before epilepsy was understood to be a neurological condition, people believed it was caused by the moon, or by phlegm in the brain. They condemned seizures as evidence of witchcraft or demonic possession, and killed or castrated sufferers to prevent them from passing tainted blood to a new generation. Today we know epilepsy is a disease. By and large, it’s accepted that a person who causes a fatal traffic accident while in the grip of a seizure should not be charged with murder. After more than 40 years studying humans and other primates, Sapolsky has reached the conclusion that virtually all human behavior is as far beyond our conscious control as the convulsions of a seizure, the division of cells or the beating of our hearts.

    This means accepting that a man who shoots into a crowd has no more control over his fate than the victims who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It means treating drunk drivers who barrel into pedestrians just like drivers who suffer a sudden heart attack and veer out of their lane. “The world is really screwed up and made much, much more unfair by the fact that we reward people and punish people for things they have no control over,” Sapolsky said. “We’ve got no free will. Stop attributing stuff to us that isn’t there.”

    Sapolsky, a MacArthur “genius” grant winner, is extremely aware that this is an out-there position. Most neuroscientists believe humans have at least some degree of free will. So do most philosophers and the vast majority of the general population…

    I question whether it is a matter for science or philosophy, but since philosophers cannot come to agreement… Also, “the vast majority of the general population” believes numerous things that are known to be false, so who cares about their opinions?

  58. Reginald Selkirk says

    Conservatives are increasingly knives out for the nation’s top cyber agency

    An agency set up under Donald Trump to protect elections and key U.S. infrastructure from foreign hackers is now fighting off increasingly intense threats from hard-right Republicans who argue it’s gone too far and are looking for ways to rein it in.

    These lawmakers insist work by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to combat online disinformation during elections singles out conservative voices and infringes upon free speech rights…

    Yes, fascists are more often the target of such efforts, since they rely to a much greater degree upon disinformation. The “freespeech rights” they are concerned about are the rights to lie to get their way.

  59. Reginald Selkirk says

    Man stopped near Michigan governor’s home worked on research against Democrats, report says

    A man dressed in black who works for a group specializing in opposition research about Democrats was stopped while climbing a bluff near Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s summer residence in August, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press.

    The man, whose name was redacted in the document, said he worked as a “political tracker” for America Rising. The police report links to two websites as potential employers, one at an America Rising corporation and one for an America Rising political action committee.

    The man said he was “climbing the hill to get a ‘view up here’ when he was stopped Aug. 26. When members of the Executive Protection Section advised there was no view to see where he was at, (the man) stated, ‘I guess I’m leaving now,’” state police said…

  60. KG says

    Reginald Selkirk quoting slashdot@69:

    “The world is really screwed up and made much, much more unfair by the fact that we reward people and punish people for things they have no control over,” Sapolsky said. “We’ve got no free will. Stop attributing stuff to us that isn’t there.”

    But if we don’t have “free will”, how can we “Stop attributing stuff to us that isn’t there.”?

    Having read the article, I think Sapolsky is just confused. Since “free will” cannot be coherently defined, “We have free will” is neither true nor false. What we do have is agency: we really do take decisions, and sometimes they really do have an effect outside ourselves; the fact that these decisions are affected by a range of factors beyond ourselves notwithstanding. But we don’t generally decide to keep our heart beating, because it happens without any decision being needed; while on the contrary, unless they are sleepwalking or in some similar state, someone who fires into a crowd does decide to do so. Sapolsky is collapsing real distinctions.

  61. says

    Marjorie Taylor Greene says supporting voting rights is ‘completely against what we stand for’

    Hours before Rep. Mike Johnson was announced as the next contestant on the House Republicans game show “Who Will Be Publicly Humiliated Next?”—since even if he wins the vote, he will inevitably be humiliated—the previous contestant, Rep. Tom Emmer, unceremoniously dropped out of the running. At the time, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was being interviewed on Fox Business with host Larry Kudlow.

    Greene broke the news to the Fox audience by saying so many of the quiet things out loud that it is hard to imagine a clearer presentation of the Republican Party’s embrace of authoritarian politics. Calling Emmer’s decision to drop out “good news,” Greene explained that while she thought Emmer “was a nice guy. I like him as a person,” she also thought his shows of support for human rights, civil rights, and voting rights disqualified him from leading the Republican Party:

    His voting record, he voted against President Trump’s transgender ban in the military. He voted for the Democrats’ gay marriage bill that allows churches to be sued if they don’t support gay marriages. He also, you know, once had supported the voting rights, the national voting movement that was completely against what we stand for [sic] so that we can’t have that for a speaker of the House.

    It is important to remember that Emmer is a guy who supported Trump’s inhumane “family separation” immigration policy, voted against the American Rescue Plan in 2021, and had signed on for trying to overturn the election in 2020. But protecting children and voting rights were a bridge too far, it seems.

    It’s always amazing to see far rightwing Republicans being fucking bugnuts ignorant on camera. Do they not hear what they are saying?

  62. says

    Followup to comment 74.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Time to retire the elephant as their mascot and go with a skunk or maybe a rotting opossum carcass.
    —————–
    One thing this mess has done is strip away the facade that the GOP is in any way, shape or form a proponent of democracy and representative government. Republicans are basically declaring that they are fascists and want a fascist government with themselves as the fascists in charge.
    ——————–
    Seems she is going to be starring in yet another political ad for the Democrats.

  63. says

    Republicans call press conference, then boo reporters for asking questions

    Late Tuesday night, the Republican Party got their act together enough to say they were ready to maybe vote for a new speaker of the House: Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana. It only took them a few weeks of grinding our government to a snail’s pace for them to get to a point where maybe they will agree on a speaker.

    House Republicans then called a press conference where they huddled very tightly behind the podium (and Johnson), and pretended to take questions from the press. The first question came from ABC News’ Rachel Scott, who asked, “Mr. Johnson, you helped to lead the efforts to overthrow the 2020 election—” before being cut off and booed by the gaggle of Republicans, most vociferously by Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, who told the reporter to “shut up” and “go away.”

    Undeterred, Scott asked a follow-up about whether Johnson would support more aid to Ukraine and Israel—an important question as to how both countries are engaged in serious military conflicts and are technically our allies. Scott was once again met with a chorus of boos, with people like Rep. Lauren Boebert yelling, “You already asked your question,” and Johnson smugly saying, “We’re not doing any policy tonight.”

    The potential speaker of the House calls a press conference but doesn’t want to discuss policy. In the end, like everything the Republican Party does now, this was simply a theatrical production. No substance. Nothing for the American people. What a “diverse” group this Republican Party is. You have everything from white hair to heavily dyed auburn-looking hair.

    I watched the video. The Republicans were so happy to boo a reporter! They all looked like they had just taken some kind of powerful happy juice. They reveled in their ability to hold a supposed press conference during which they shut down the free press. Trump wannabes.

  64. says

    Russian parliament’s upper house votes to revoke nuclear test ban treaty ratification

    Russia’s upper house of parliament voted to revoke the country’s ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty on Tuesday, an idea first floated by Russian President Vladimir Putin late last month.

    The bill removes Russia’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, signed in 1996 and ratified in 2000. The country’s lower house passed a similar bill last week, and it will now go to Putin to sign.

    […] State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin cited Western allies’ support for Ukraine against Russian invasion as another reason to consider going back on the ban.

    “Washington and Brussels have unleashed a war against our country,” Volodin said early this month. “Today’s challenges require new decisions.”

    […] But going back on the ban doesn’t mean that nuclear weapons tests will begin again. Ryabkov said Russia would only restart its nuclear testing program if the U.S. did first.

    Defense analysts have theorized the timing of the test ban change could put pressure on the U.S. and Western allies to stop backing Ukraine.

    Russian officials have repeatedly threatened escalation of conflict with the U.S. and Western allies over their support for Ukraine.

    “Imagine if the offensive, which is backed by NATO, was a success and they tore off a part of our land, then we would be forced to use a nuclear weapon according to the rules of a decree from the president of Russia,” former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in July.

    “There would simply be no other option. So our enemies should pray for our [warriors’ success]. They are making sure that a global nuclear fire is not ignited,” he added.

    JFC

  65. says

    24 US service members injured in Oct. 18 attacks in Iraq and Syria

    Some two dozen service members were wounded in drone and rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria last week, U.S. Central Command confirmed Wednesday.

    Twenty American personnel “sustained minor injuries” from multiple one-way attack drones launched against U.S. and Coalition forces at al-Tanf Garrison in Syria on Oct. 18, a CENTCOM spokesperson told The Hill.

    One drone was destroyed in the attack […] no damage to the base infrastructure, and all 20 personnel returned to duty, they said.

    The same day, four other U.S. personnel sustained minor injuries from two separate drone attacks, one of which was shot down, at al-Asad Airbase in Iraq.

    “One drone had effects on the base,” according to the spokesperson.

  66. says

    Jeffries calls Mike Johnson an ‘extreme right-wing ideologue’

    House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) criticized Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), the latest GOP nominee for Speaker, on Wednesday as appearing to be an “extreme right-wing ideologue” based on his legislative track record.

    “I don’t know Mike Johnson well. Based on his track record, he appears to be an extreme right-wing ideologue,” Jeffries said in an interview on “CNN This Morning.”

    Jeffries attacked Johnson for his positions on abortion access, Social Security and Medicare. He also attacked Johnson for his role in supporting then-President Trump’s efforts to remain in power in 2020.

    Johnson was the first of more than 100 Republican signatories listed on a 2020 amicus brief supporting a Texas lawsuit that aimed to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Johnson also voted with nearly two-thirds of his conference not to certify the 2020 election in Arizona and Pennsylvania on Jan. 6, 2021.

    “Mike Johnson wants to criminalize abortion care and impose a nationwide ban. Mike Johnson was one of the chief architects of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Mike Johnson also wants to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it.
    Those are extreme views,” Jeffries said. “And House Democrats will push back aggressively against that.”

    Jeffries said, however, that Democrats would be willing to work in a bipartisan way with Johnson, if he wins.

    “However, at the same period of time, we’ve said from the very beginning of this Congress — and demonstrated — that we are ready, willing and able to find common ground with our Republican colleagues in order to advance bipartisan solutions to solve problems for hardworking American taxpayers,” Jeffries said. […]

  67. tomh says

    NYT:
    Trump Ordered to Pay $10,000 in New Punishment for Breaking Gag Order
    By Jonah E. Bromwich and Kate Christobek / Oct. 25, 2023

    Donald J. Trump briefly took the stand in his own defense on Wednesday before the judge presiding over his civil fraud trial fined him $10,000 for violating a gag order that bars Mr. Trump from attacking court staff.

    Mr. Trump, wearing a navy suit and for the most part refraining from his usual lengthy monologues, testified that negative comments he had made earlier in the day had referred not to the judge’s law clerk — whom he is barred from attacking — but to Michael D. Cohen, who was testifying for a second day.

    From the stand, Mr. Trump said that he had not been referring to the clerk, Allison Greenfield. But he added that he thought the clerk was “maybe unfair and I think she’s very biased against me.”

    After Mr. Trump left the stand, having testified for about three minutes, the judge, Arthur F. Engoron, said that he had not found the former president credible and levied the fine.

  68. Reginald Selkirk says

    @81:

    This is where a smart person would STFU.
    Donald Trump is not a smart person.

  69. whheydt says

    Re: tomh @ #81…
    Hmmm… First penalty $5k. Second penalty $10k. If this is a pattern, it could get real interesting real fast.

  70. says

    tomh @81 and Reginald @82, I laughed. Trump as unintentional comedy is good.

    In other news, taking a closer look at the new Speaker of the House:

    Johnson’s far-right record: Johnson has a measured temperament, but by most measures, he’s the most far-right House speaker in modern times. One member described Johnson to NBC News as “Jim Jordan with a jacket and a smile.”

    We are, after all, talking about a congressman who spearheaded efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, co-sponsored legislation for a national abortion ban, endorsed trying to “expunge” Donald Trump’s first impeachment, worked as a lawyer for an organization that opposes the separation of church and state, positioned himself as an ardent culture warrior who introduced federal legislation modeled after Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill, and during his tenure as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the group touted budget plans that called for deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

    I realize the word “moderate” gets thrown around a bit too casually sometimes when talking about some congressional Republicans, but no one should use it in reference to the new House speaker.

    [Correct. He does smile a lot. He talks about his wife spending time on her knees, praying to God. He also talks about the USA being a Christian nation, as opposed to Russia, which is full of godless communists. Paraphrasing from his speech today.]

    Johnson’s inexperience: A variety of GOP senators conceded this morning that they have no idea who Johnson is. That’s in part because of his relatively low profile, but it also stems from the fact that he’s only been on Capitol Hill since 2017. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told NBC News, “Inexperience seems to be a qualification.”

    It’s a fair point. Traditionally, House speakers cultivate impressive resumes, over the course of many years, before holding a gavel. Johnson hasn’t quite finished his seventh year in Congress; he’s never chaired a legislative committee; and his list of legislative accomplishments is exceedingly thin.

    Johnson’s difficult future: The good news for the Louisiana congressman is that he’s now the speaker of the House. The bad news for Johnson is, well, he’s now the speaker of the House.

    As Kevin McCarthy can attest, given the current circumstances, this job is neither easy nor fun, and all of the challenges that burdened the ousted speaker remain unchanged. Johnson still has the same small majority. He still faces the same motion-to-vacate rules. He still needs to figure out how to prevent a government shutdown — with a mid-November deadline looming. He still needs to determine how, whether, and to what extent Congress will support U.S. allies abroad in the midst of military crises.

    A Washington Post report added as the day got underway, “[Johnson] has little experience in leadership and has only a small staff. It’s likely to take him weeks just to get staffed up if he’s elected speaker — and government funding is set to run out in a little more than three weeks. That’s a tough situation for any speaker — but for a brand-new one leading a deeply fractured Republican conference, it will be nearly impossible.”

    GOP members have repeatedly joked in recent weeks that being speaker in the current Congress is a terrible job. It probably won’t be long before Johnson stops finding those jokes funny

    Johnson also made a big deal out of “cutting government spending” while at the same time supporting Ukraine, and while supporting authoritarian-like actions at the southern border. I think we are in for an extension of the budget battles as the potential for a government shutdown looms on November 17.

  71. says

    Weather related Yikes!

    […] If we are going to look at the context of rapid intensification, we need to start with the fact that to qualify as rapid, a hurricane must gain 35 m.p.h. of sustained wind speed in 24 hours.

    Otis gained 115 m.p.h. […] in 12 hours.

    Hurricane Otis unleashed a “nightmare scenario” on Acapulco in southern Mexico Wednesday morning after the storm rapidly intensified into a Category 5 just before landfall and gave officials and residents little time to prepare.

    Otis strengthened from a tropical storm to an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane in just 12 hours before it slammed ashore near Acapulco as the strongest storm on record to hit this area and the Pacific coast of Mexico.

    The sudden burst of power gave people little time to prepare and get to safety as Otis bore down on Acapulco, a popular tourist destination that’s also a permanent home to roughly 800,000 people. [Yahoo News]

    When much of the world went to bed, a seemingly run of the mill Tropical Storm Otis became a monster while you were sleeping, and you woke up to a different world. [Tweet with images showing “terrible damage in Acapulco, Mexico after direct hit from category 5 Hurricane Otis.]

    From this point forward, there is no denying climate change. From this point forward, there should be no assumptions about the dangers it poses. In the coming days I will track this development […] and will bring information as to best help the people affected. […]

    Link

  72. says

    Ukrainian Pilots are now in the U.S. training on F-16s

    The U.S. has begun training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s, the U.S. Air Force announced Oct. 25.

    A “small number” of Ukrainian pilots began training with the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard earlier this week in “F-16 fundamentals,” according to a service spokesperson.

    “The training curriculum will align with the foundational knowledge and skills of each pilot and is expected to last several months,” a U.S. Air Force spokesperson said in a statement provided to Air & Space Forces Magazine.

    The 162nd Wing trains pilots at Morris Air National Guard Base, which is located at Tucson International Airport. It is the only unit of the U.S. Air Force tasked with training foreign pilots on F-16s, which is part of its day-to-day mission. The wing has trained over two dozen countries in how to operate the F-16.

    Commentary:

    A standard course is normally 6 months, though given the particular needs of Ukraine, it’s likely their course of instruction will be focused on what they need to fly in that conflict. It’s not expected that any of them will be flying F-16s in Ukraine before 2024. […]

    Other NATO countries are also training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16.

  73. says

    Followup to comment 84.

    […] First up: Cuts! Cuts to “entitlements.” Sadly, conservatives have been relatively successful in getting people across the media to discuss social safety net programs, which are paid for by American citizens in order to serve American citizens, as “entitlements.” Here’s Johnson on this topic:

    We have to get back to [entitlement reform] as a No. 1 priority. The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] says that entitlement spending, which they define as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, interest on the debt—those four obligations, we’ve eclipsed GDP in, what, a dozen years or something? I mean, this is not— this can no longer be kicked down the road. You can’t wait eight years to address this. It has to happen yesterday. So we have to have our hand at the wheel and do this. We are completely derelict in our duty. We’re rearranging furniture on the Titanic if we don’t get this problem under control.

    [Video at the link. This mild mannered doofus is super scary!]

    Here’s some more concrete information about Johnson’s “entitlements” policies.

    As chair of the RSC, Johnson spearheaded budgets resolutions that called for ~$2 trillion in cuts to Medicare, $3 trillion in cuts to Medicaid+ACA, & ~$750 billion in cuts to Social Security.

    Relevant to Collins on Approps, he called to immediately cut NDD ~50%. Unfathomable

    […] Rep. Elise Stefanik nominated Johnson on the House floor, saying that fellow Republicans would “humbly look in our hearts.” It seems they did and decided that an anti-abortion, pro-insurgency, anti-Social Security, anti-Medicare, and anti-Medicaid extremist was the perfect fit to lead them into the future.

    Lots more at the link, including additional video snippets, including one showing “a Republican yells ‘damn right!’ when Aguilar notes that Mike Johnson was an architect of the effort to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss.”]

  74. says

    Link for texted quoted in comment 87. Apologies for forgetting to include that link earlier.

    President Biden’s reelection campaign wasted no time going after the new Speaker, saying in a statement just after securing the gavel that the election of Mike Johnson (R-La.) bolsters the so-called MAGA takeover of the House Republicans.

    “MAGA Mike Johnson’s ascension to the speakership cements the extreme MAGA takeover of the House Republican Conference. Now, Donald Trump has his loyal foot soldier to ban abortion nationwide, lead efforts to deny free and fair election results, gut Social Security and Medicare, and advance the extreme MAGA agenda at the expense of middle-class families,” Biden-Harris 2024 spokesperson […]

    Link

    Yep. That assessment is correct.

  75. says

    Is Mike Johnson The Nerd Bigot Religious Extremist Seditionist House Republicans Have Been Waiting For?

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/is-mike-johnson-the-nerd-bigot-religious

    […] Mike Johnson is a rank seditionist — no really, look at that article — and a vile religious bigot with ties to the extremist hate group Alliance Defending Freedom. He was their spokesperson! American Atheists notes that he has been given an award by another extremist religious hate cell, the Family Research Council. He’s a dumbfuck who thinks marijuana is a gateway drug, he’s anti-abortion, and he’s an anti-LGBTQ+ bigot. He’s got a weird hard-on for school prayer.

    […] here is Johnson in December of 2020, and while he is babbling absolute hallucinatory white fascist bullshit about fraud in the election, he also concedes that there’s “no doubt” that Donald Trump “has to” concede to Joe Biden. [video at the link]

    We wish we had told somebody for the record, but DAYS ago, we had a sick feeling about this guy. […]

  76. birgerjohansson says

    Another video from Emma Thorne.

    Defeat an atheist in 2 minutes; Real atheist reacts.
    https://youtu.be/DLfNOdsSMdY
    BTW dimensions don’t work that way.
    There mat be eleven dimensions, but the extra ones are fortunately ‘curled up ‘ at a very, very small scale, which is good; if extra spatial dimensions manifested at larger scale literally everything would become unstable.

    So the god of the bloke in the video has to be really, really small.

  77. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #84…
    I’ve got to get my mind out of the gutter… When I read the bit about Johnson talking about his wife spending time on her knees “praying”, I could only wonder what he was doing that he saw her like that so much and exactly what sort of “god” was she “praying” to and how was she doing it. Inquiring minds do NOT want to know.

    As for Russia being full of “godless commies”…he might take a closer look and find out how entwined Putin is with the Russian Orthodox Church. Or, then again, maybe that’d be a bad idea. He might decide to try the same sort of combination here with whatever nut case fundamentalist church he belongs to.

  78. whheydt says

    Datum on Johnson… Wikipedia lists him as an “evangelical Christian” with no further detail.

  79. says

    Elon Musk Mocked Ukraine, and Russian Trolls Went Wild

    WIRED link

    Inauthentic accounts on X flocked to its owner’s post about Ukrainian president Vlodymr Zelensky, hailing “Comrade Musk” and boosting pro-Russia propaganda.

    Since Elon Musk spent $44 billion on Twitter (now X) last year, the billionaire has been determined to wipe out bots and spammy accounts [or so Musk claims]. Things haven’t gone smoothly. Amid the chaos, in recent weeks Russian trolls have jumped on one of Musk’s own posts and used it to push pro-Kremlin messaging, a new analysis shows.

    At the start of October, Musk used his platform to mock Ukrainian president Vlodymr Zelensky with a nine-year-old meme. “When it’s been five minutes and you haven’t asked for a billion dollars in aid,” says the text above the “Trying to Hold a Fart Next to a Cute Girl in Class” meme, which the X owner posted to his 160 million followers. The original image shows a teenage schoolboy visibly agitated while sitting in class next to a girl. Musk’s version swapped in Zelensky’s face. Ukrainians hit back at Musk, accusing him of trolling and posting Russian propaganda. [Musk is so much like a prepubescent human sometimes, focused on farts and poop emojis.]

    Now analysis by a volunteer group of researchers who track Russian-language information operations on X says Russian trolls flocked to Musk’s post and news accounts that reported on his meme. “The Zelensky tweet from Musk seems to be the most commented by Kremlin trolls over nearly three months,” says Antibot4Navalny, the anonymous group of volunteers behind the findings.

    In the days after the post, around 160 inauthentic accounts pushing pro-Russian messaging sent some 400 posts praising Musk as a “Russian patriot” and photoshopping him into Russian military uniforms, according to the group. They say the main messaging can be summarized, in part, as “Comrade Musk supports Russia.”

    Three independent experts, including one former disinformation researcher at Twitter, reviewed the findings from Antibot4Navalny and concluded that the accounts praising Musk and pushing Russian narratives are likely to be part of a coordinated campaign. […]

    […] Data gathered by the researchers shows the accounts replying both to Musk’s original tweet and also those from Russian-language news accounts, such as BBC Russian and DW Russian. The posts are mostly in Russian, but there are also a few in English. […]

    “Russia thanks you for your excellent work, Elon. And answers with memes,” one English language post says. “As usual, Musk is our comrade: like us, he ROFLs at the junkie,” a translated Russian post says. Others praise Musk for telling the “truth” and mocking the Ukrainian president.

    One former Twitter disinformation researcher, granted anonymity to allow them to speak freely without fear of retaliation, looked at a sample of the accounts highlighted by Antibot4Navalny. “Most accounts had multiple signs of inauthenticity,” the former staff member says, pointing out that their analysis was done using public-facing data, and only X would be able to make “hard findings” based on technical data available to the company. The former staff member says the accounts had repeated behavior in reposts and “inconsistent or clearly falsified” personal information. “There was a spectrum for how realistically or well chosen an account’s profile pic is,” they say, with some profile images being pulled from elsewhere online.

    Martin Innes, codirector of the Security Crime and Intelligence Innovation Institute at Cardiff University, who has led international disinformation research, reviewed a sample of the data with colleagues. He also says there are multiple signs that the accounts may not be genuine. “The accounts examined are newly created, in the main during the period of the Ukraine-Russia war, and exhibit behavior designed to target and polarize opinion, and gain popularity through interaction with larger accounts, many of which represent popular media outlets,” Innes says.

    Innes and the Cardiff University researchers say the accounts often have low or zero follower numbers, a lack of identifiable personal details, mostly just reply to other accounts’ posts, and produce anti-Ukraine and anti-Zelensky messaging, which mirror wider Russian narratives. Russia has long used social media to impact politics and divide opinions. In September, an EU report concluded that the “reach and influence” of Kremlin-backed accounts on social media had increased in 2023, particularly highlighting X.

    […] Russian propaganda has also focused on influencing African nations.

    Kyle Walter, head of research at misinformation- and disinformation-analysis company Logically, says Musk’s account has been targeted in the past, in particular with crypto scams. Walter also reviewed the accounts highlighted by Antibot4Navalny and says they appear to be inauthentic. […]

    When it comes to the Musk posts, the Antibot4Navalny researcher says the accounts could have been looking to boost Russian propaganda talking points or to “create an illusion” for those browsing replies to Musk’s tweet that people support the message. […]

    Logically’s Walter says that it is a critical time for social media platforms as they head toward a slate of elections in 2024—including those in the US, Canada, UK, India, and the European Union. “Bad actors are testing different tactics, testing different capabilities,” Walter says. […]

  80. Reginald Selkirk says

    @90: There may be eleven dimensions…

    That explains how they got all those animals on the Ark!

  81. says

    NBC News:

    President Joe Biden welcomed Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the White House for a visit on Wednesday in the shadows of wars in Israel and Ukraine, which the leaders addressed multiple times throughout their public events.

    NBC News:

    President Joe Biden said today that he was ‘alarmed about extremist settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank.’ Biden said those incidents were ‘pouring gasoline on fire’ and ‘they have to be held accountable. It has to stop.’ He also said Hamas ‘does not represent the vast majority of the Palestinian people on the Gaza Strip or anywhere else’ and Israel has ‘to do everything in its power’ to protect innocent civilians.

    NBC News:

    United Nations fuel supplies in the Gaza Strip will likely run out today or tomorrow, a spokesperson for the world body told NBC News, adding that ‘very painful’ choices about rationing are to come.

  82. says

    NBC News:

    The Senate voted 98-0 to approve President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday, ending a span of nearly 19 months in which the agency was without a Senate-confirmed chief. Michael Whitaker is a former deputy FAA administrator and most recently served as chief operating officer of a Hyundai affiliate that is developing an air taxi.

  83. says

    NBC News:

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has advanced Jack Lew’s nomination to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel. The Democratic-led panel reported the nomination out of the committee in a 12-9 vote Wednesday, a week after Lew — who served as treasury secretary and White House chief of staff under then-President Barack Obama — testified before lawmakers at his confirmation hearing.

  84. says

    Donald Trump Got Spanked, Gagged, And Fined In New York Court.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/donald-trump-got-spanked-gagged-and

    This afternoon, Donald Trump actually took the witness stand in the New York civil fraud trial taking place in Manhattan. It did not go well.

    Now, before we all get excited, he was only up there for five minutes. And he wasn’t there to testify about all the criming that took place at his company. This was purely to explain to the court why he’s SUCH A FUCKING IDIOT who cannot STFU for five goddamn minutes.

    To wit, Trump repeated attacks on Justice Arthur Engoron’s law clerk, after being ordered not once but twice not to do that. The first time was three weeks ago when he posted a photo of the clerk and falsely described her as Chuck Schumer’s “girlfriend.”

    In court the next day, Justice Engoron furiously ordered him to cut that shit out.

    “Consider this statement a gag order forbidding all parties from posting, emailing, or speaking publicly about any members of my staff,” he declared from the bench after a conference in chambers where Trump’s lawyers promised that the post was down and their client wouldn’t do it again. And that was half true, at least for a couple days.

    […] while Trump had indeed removed the post from Truth Social, it remained up at the mirror site at DonaldJTrump dot com which preserves his various bodily emanations for posterity. Justice Engoron threatened to throw Trump in jail, but wound up imposing a $5,000 fine and telling him not to do it again, AGAIN.

    Then today Trump did this: [video at the link]

    “This judge is a very partisan judge, with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is,” Trump babbled for the cameras outside the courtroom, in an extended rant on why he’d win if this case was before a jury.

    The implication was unmistakable: Trump was once again attacking the law clerk, after being told in no uncertain terms not to do that.

    “I am very protective of my staff, as I should be,” the Judge said this morning, according to Politico’s Erica Orden, adding, “I stated the last time that any future violations would be severely punished. Why should there not be severe sanctions for this blatant, dangerous disobeyal of a court order?”

    Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise objected limply that Trump had been referring to Michael Cohen, who testified this morning. And after lunch, Trump himself tried to convince the court of it as well.

    On the witness stand, the former president agreed that he had previously called the law clerk “unfair” and “very biased against us,” but insisted that he’d been referring to Michael Cohen in his remarks this morning. He did not explain why he would refer obliquely to Cohen, whom he just attacked last night on Truth Social, as “a person who is very partisan.” Nor did he explain what Michael Cohen had to do with the absence of a jury in this case.

    Justice Engoron was not impressed.

    “As you can see, my principal law clerk is very close to me,” Engoron said, noting that the witness stand is not alongside the judge’s bench, where the law clerk sits. “You and I see can see each other, we’re close, but we’re not as close, clearly. And there’s a barrier between us.”

    “As the trier of fact, I find that the witness is not credible, that he was referring to my law clerk, who is sitting much closer to me, who doesn’t have a barrier,” he ordered, according to the Daily Beast. “I hereby fine you $10,000, which is on the liberal side, to be paid within 30 days.”

    Kise objected, calling it “a dangerous place to go,” but Justice Engoron was unmoved.

    Once again, Donald Trump’s big mouth got him into trouble. And he lied on the witness stand. And meanwhile, his attorneys in DC are trying to get the appeals court to lift a gag order imposed by Judge Tanya Chutkan to stop him intimidating witnesses and court staff. The judge administratively stayed that order, giving prosecutors until this evening to respond, and then another three days for Trump’s lawyers to explain why their client doesn’t need to be muzzled.

    And just in the past 24 hours, the world’s worst client has attacked Michael Cohen, Jack Smith, Mark Meadows, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Justice Arthur Engoron, and Justice Engoron’s law clerk, violating the New York gag order a second time.

    Soooooo, yeah, good luck with that appeal.

  85. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukrainian hackers and intel officers partner up in apparent hack of a top Russian bank

    Two Ukrainian hacktivist groups are claiming to have broken into Russia’s largest private bank, Alfa-Bank.

    In a blog post last week, the hackers from groups called KibOrg and NLB shared screenshots of what appears to be an internal database belonging to Alfa-Bank, as well as personal details of several Russian individuals as “confirmation” of the breach. Within the database, the hackers say there are over 30 million records including names, birthdates, account numbers and phone numbers of Russian customers.

    Adding some legitimacy to those claims, a Ukrainian intelligence official who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation confirmed to NPR that Ukraine’s top counterintelligence agency, the SBU, helped the hacktivists breach Alfa-Bank…

  86. Reginald Selkirk says

    Most of Justice Thomas’ $267,000 loan for an RV seems to have been forgiven, Senate Democrats say

    All or most of a $267,000 loan obtained by Supreme CourtJustice Clarence Thomas to buy a high-end motorcoach appears to have been forgiven, raising tax and ethics questions, according to a new report by Senate Democrats.

    Anthony “Tony” Welters, a longtime friend of Thomas who made the loan in 1999, forgave the debt after nine years of what he called interest-only payments, says the report, which was released Wednesday by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee…

  87. Reginald Selkirk says

    Nashville Suburb Roundly Rejects Scandal-Scarred MAGA Mayoral Candidate

    The wealthy Nashville suburb of Franklin roundly rejected what is likely the most controversial mayoral candidate in its history, deciding Gabrielle Hanson’s myriad scandals—including several instances in which she cozied up to white supremacists—were too much to stomach.

    The local real estate developer lost with just 20 percent of the vote, records showed, keeping the city of 85,000’s longtime incumbent, Ken Moore, in office another four years…

  88. Reginald Selkirk says

    New House Speaker Once Blamed Abortions for Social Security, Medicare Cuts

    The new House speaker, Mike Johnson, has touted some extremely controversial opinions as a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus—but few as unsavory as his apparent hatred for a woman’s right to choose, sizing a woman’s worth up as her ability to create more workers for American businesses.

    In a clip that surfaced Tuesday, Johnson put the onus of Republican cuts to essential programs on unborn children, claiming that if American women were producing more bodies to churn the economy then Republicans wouldn’t have to cut essential social programs like Medicare and Medicaid…

  89. says

    Police say there’s an active shooter in Lewiston, Maine, and they are investigating multiple scenes

    Maine State Police ordered residents in the state’s second-largest city to shelter in place Wednesday night because of an active shooter situation in multiple locations.

    Lewiston Police said in a Facebook post that they were dealing with an active shooter incident at Schemengees Bar and Grille and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley.[…]

    Active shooter incident reported at 2 locations in Lewiston, Maine: Live updates

    Lewiston police said they were dealing with an active shooter situation at two businesses.

    A local medical center said it was responding to a “mass casualty” event.

    Officials have urged residents in Lewiston and Auburn to shelter in place.

    The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office released photos of a man with a rifle with the caption “suspect for identification.”

    Lewiston police said a “manhunt” is underway for a person allegedly connected to shootings.

    President Joe Biden has been briefed on what’s known so far about the active shooting incident in Lewiston, Maine, and will continue to receive updates, according to a senior White House official. […]

    MSNBC is reporting 15 fatalities so far. No details on the number of wounded.

  90. says

    Ukraine Update: UN Security Council vote highlights Israel’s failed diplomacy with Russia

    Today, the United Nations Security Council debated a resolution sponsored by the United States that called for a “humanitarian pause” on Israeli attacks on Gaza to allow aid to flow into the blockaded enclave, called on Hamas to release all prisoners, and reiterated an “inherent right of all states” to self-defense.

    It was supported by Albania, France, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S. Brazil and Mozambique abstained. China and Russia vetoed. (The United Arab Emirates also voted against it.)

    This follows the failure of a Russian resolution on Oct. 16 that refused to name or call out Hamas, other than to call for the release of all people taken into captivity since Oct. 7. That one received support from only five countries, including China and Russia. France, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. opposed it. Russia’s ambassador claimed their opposition came from “selfish and political” interests.

    None of this should be a surprise. No matter what you think of the Israel-Hamas war, it’s clear that it serves Russia’s interests. The more the world is destabilized, the better for Russia. It needs the West distracted from Ukraine, and for its people to tire of conflict and war.

    But it is surprising for one simple reason: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent the entire past two years keeping Ukraine at arm’s length, denying the kind of help Israel has been more than capable of delivering.

    The purpose was to curry favor with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. In a realpolitik way, it all made perfect sense. Russia has a battery of its most sophisticated S-400 air defense system in Damascus, yet it has remained curiously silent as Israeli aircraft periodically raid the city and its airport, targeting Iranian-backed militias. It wasn’t hard to conclude that the two nations had a quid pro quo—Israel stays out of Ukraine (other than some minor shipments of humanitarian aid), and Russia stays out of Israel’s way. [Interesting analysis!]

    Indeed, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, back in July 2022, explicitly noted, “The security threats to Israel, the threats to the lives of both Israeli soldiers and Israeli citizens, are enormous … We think first of all about our own interests and have to be careful.”

    Israel had much to offer Ukraine. Its Iron Dome air defense system is among the finest in the world, if not the best short-range air defense system. But not only did Israel not provide any of its own systems (with reason, as they’re using them all today), the country actually blocked the transfer of two systems owned by the United States.

    Furthermore, Israel has “hundreds” of an older model of its well-regarded Merkava tanks in storage, though many of them are now being sold to Cyprus and Morocco. With Ukraine’s desperate need for additional armor, Israel could’ve been a welcome source of older-generation vehicles. Instead, Ukraine was frozen out. And Israel’s arms industry goes well beyond that, exporting $12.5 billion worth of arms in 2022, ranking it 10th in the world. (Ironically, Arab nations accounted for 24% of that total.) The top Israeli weapons exports?

    Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones made up the largest chunk of exports at 25%—up from 9% in 2021—followed by missiles, rockets, and air defense systems at 19%.

    Exports of radar and electronic warfare systems amounted to 13% of arms sales.

    Ukraine could certainly use more of all of those things.

    Israel’s reticence was particularly odd given the growing closeness between Russia and Iran. There is much speculation that Iran is receiving weapons technology transfers in exchange for the Iranian-made drones currently pummeling Ukrainian cities. Along with North Korea, this new axis poses a significant threat to both Western nations, as well as Israel itself. Indeed, Hezbollah has already destroyed several Israeli armored vehicles over the past decade using Russian-made anti-tank Kornet guided missiles (via Syria or Iran). With Russia’s pariah-state status enduring and its military equipment performing so poorly on the Ukrainian battlefield, it’ll need new export markets for its arms industry. India might opt for better Western weaponry moving forward, but Iranian-backed militias will be thrilled with Russian gear.

    Given the events of the past several weeks, Israel may be done with Russia. While we haven’t seen an overt policy shift from the top of the Israeli government, this rant by a Likud member of Israel’s Parliament on Russian propaganda network RT was a social media sensation, and hopefully offers a preview of coming attractions: [Tweet and video at the link]

    Here’s a partial transcript:

    Russia is supporting the enemies of Israel. Russia is supporting Nazi people who want to commit genocide on us and Russia will pay the price. We’re gonna win this war. Afterwards, we’re not forgetting what you’re doing, we’re not forgetting, we will come, we will make sure Ukraine wins. We will make sure that you pay the price for what you have done, you as Russia.


    —————————–
    This is what cluster munitions look and sound like on the receiving end: [Tweet and video at the link]
    ————————-
    There’s been a question about the number of ATACMS long-range missiles delivered to Ukraine, and the lack of follow-up attacks after the spectacular decimation of the helicopter airbase in Berdyansk suggested Ukraine’s supply numbered around a dozen.

    We now have evidence of a new Ukrainian ATACMS attack: [Tweet, photos and map at the link]
    ——————————–
    There are few sights more satisfying than a Russian TOS-1A thermobaric MRLS system going up in flames. Those things are evil. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Did someone share this while I was on vacation? [Tweet and video at the link: “Booom!
    There was russian TOS-1A “Solntsepyok”, which costs $15 mln, but a $400 FPV drone blew it up] Remember, their effective firing range is 3 kilometers (I’ve seen claims that they can fire as far away as 6 kilometers). They have to operate close to the front line, rendering them vulnerable to counter-battery fire and drones.
    —————————
    Iranian-backed militias injured two dozen U.S. military personnel in drone attacks on bases in the Middle East.

    Injuries were minor, thankfully. But excuse me if I’m stressing about it. My son is currently deployed in the region.

  91. says

    Update to comment 103.

    22 killed, dozens wounded across several locations in Lewiston, Maine: Live updates

    […] At least 22 people have been killed, a Lewiston police source said.

    Fifty to 60 were wounded at several locations, including a local bowling alley, law enforcement officials said.

    […] Lewiston is a town of about 38,000 people located a 45 minute drive north of Portland, Maine. [map at the link]

    […] The believed death toll in tonight’s shooting of 22 is almost or more than the annual homicides in all of Maine.

    In 2022 there were 29 murders in Maine, which has a population of almost 1.4 million, according to statistics from the State Department of Public Safety. In 2020, there were 20 homicides.

    Recent earlier years have similar amounts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of around the high teens to low 20s.

    […] “This is a very active and dynamic situation. The image of at least one active killer has been released by police. He is armed with a tactical rifle,” Jim Cavanaugh, an NBC News law enforcement contributor and a former special agent in the ATF, said in a text message.

    “Law Enforcement is now swarming the area attempting to locate, isolate and eliminate the active killer or killers,” he said. […]

  92. says

    Mutinies spread in Russian army

    It is not surprising that mutinies are spreading in the Russian army. What’s surprising is that it doesn’t happen more often and that, when it does, it does not result in commanders getting fragged.

    If you were told you would be sent right back to the front and that you were nothing more than a means to an end, would you march off to your death compliantly?

    I have excerpted some of the thread below, or you can click on the Thread Reader below.

    Hundreds of Russian soldiers may have mutinied in recent weeks as the Russian army accumulates huge losses in offensives in several regions of Ukraine. At least 173 men are reported to have been detained for refusing orders, and this may be just the tip of the iceberg.

    ASTRA reports that it has received almost daily messages from the relatives of men who have been detained in occupied regions of Ukraine after refusing to join assaults. They have told similar stories of drunken commanders and a lack of ammunition, artillery, food and water.

    The ongoing heavy fighting around Kupiansk and Avdiivka is said to have been the cause of a number of revolts (see below for one example). Ex-convicts are also reported to have been detained to pressure them into signing new contracts.

    After a drunken Russian officer ordered his lightly armed unit into a disastrous assault in which 300 men were lost, the survivors mutinied and refused to carry out further orders. They were reportedly imprisoned in a notorious torture facility

    ASTRA has so far recorded the existence of at least 16 places in the occupied regions of Ukraine where Russian soldiers have been illegally detained – the largest and most notorious being at Zaitseve in the Luhansk region (see below). [video at the link]

    According to ASTRA, it’s likely that “the 173 military personnel that ASTRA knows about are just the tip of the iceberg.” It notes that because the detainees’ phones are confiscated, they often cannot contact the outside world.

    The suggestion of much larger numbers is given credence by the comment of a relative of one of the detainees that men being transferred to Zaitseve were turned away because the facility – which can accommodate at least 230 men – was already full.

    The Russian army is reportedly taking men from Zaitseve and other detention facilities in Ukraine to training grounds in Russia, where they are re-formed into units and sent, via Rostov, to front-line hotspots to carry out assaults.

    ASTRA reports that around 50 men from the 15th Motorized Rifle Regiment were taken from a detention facility in Rozsypne, Donetsk region, to a training ground in Russia’s Kursk region.

    The men were told that they would be sent to Rostov and from there to join the ongoing assault on Avdiivka. According to the lawyer of one of the men, who went to Ukraine to challenge the men’s illegal detention:

    “At first I went to Zaitseve, but there was no one in Zaitseve, and I found out that they were being held in Rozsypne. I drove up to the building, it looked like a school building. I went straight to the fence. A military man peeked out from behind the fence.

    “I went over, knocked, showed him my lawyer’s ID. I told him: I know for a fact that my clients are here, I want to talk to them, but he did not even look at me. He said: “Wait” and left. When he came back, he said: “There is no one here”.

    “I asked him: what are you doing here with weapons then? He repeated again: “there is no one here, leave here”.”

    The men later told relatives they had been sent to the Postoyalye Dvory training range in the Kursk region.

    A relative says: “According to my son, they will be formed into assault troops. The guys are dirty, not dressed, morally depressed. They don’t know what to do.”

    The wife of another man says: “My husband is a mobilised man, he refused to go on the offensive on Makiivka.”

    “They were placed in Zaitseve. Then, apparently, there was an inspection and they were driven around for 9 hours and returned back to the “LPR”. Today he managed to call from someone else’s number. They are near Kursk, waiting for a car to Rostov.

    “As I understand it, from there the plane will be heading towards Avdiivka. He said that they called the prosecutor’s office, but they were told: an order is an order.

    The local military police are threatening to bring in the riot police: they will still go to the front, but already beaten.”

    The men’s commanders said openly to them that they were merely “a means to an end”, according to another relative.

    “The guys understood that they wouldn’t take the position and would end up lying there [dead] themselves.”

    The detainees from Rozsypne joined dozens of other men who had been transported from Zaitseve.

    After the men’s whereabouts became known to their relatives and their lawyers, they were reportedly taken to Voronezh to be “hidden from their relatives and lawyers.”

    According to an ASTRA source, the men have been taken either to the Pogonovo training base in the Voronezh region or the Baltimor (Voronezh Malshevo) airbase in a convoy of trucks.

    Some of the men have attempted to stand firm. Relatives say that men who have already gone to Baltimor told their captors: “call anyone you want, we are not going anywhere from here”. They are said to have been denied medical care and access to lawyers.

    Others agreed under pressure to return to Ukraine, but around 30 are said to have then revolted again when they were about to board aircraft to take them to Rostov and from there back to Ukraine. One of them says: “We are standing here, they offer us some weapons to take, not ours at all, old, used. We refuse, we will not get on the plane. We are waiting for the military prosecutor’s office.”

    The wife of one of the refuseniks says: “They are given the wrong weapons, no one knows why, they take everything, half of them have already been sent on the plane. They were intimidated to such an extent that people stopped standing their ground.”

    “They sent them without documents. My husband is still waiting for the prosecutor, but it is unknown how this will end.”

    The men who have already been sent to Rostov have arrived in a dismal condition, according to relatives.

    The relative of a man from the 59th Tank Regiment says: “His phone, belongings and expensive equipment, which was bought with personal funds, were taken away from him.”

    “An hour ago he called and said that they are in Rostov, waiting for a flight to an unknown destination, stripped, hungry, dirty – the guys have not bathed for more than three weeks. He said there were about 100 people with him.”

    “The system is the same: from the storming of Makiivka [to] Zaitsevo – Kursk – Voronezh and Rostov airport.”

    One of the men has told relatives that if they refuse to follow their orders, they will be “reset” (shot).

    While the number of men who have apparently mutinied is small in relation to the overall size of the Russian army in Ukraine, the recent large increase in the number of refuseniks highlights the stresses that the Russian forces are currently experiencing.

  93. whheydt says

    https://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/news/2023/10/26/three_thousand_earthquakes_detected/

    Almost 3,000 earthquakes have occurred in the Reykjanes Peninsula earthquake swarm which began at midnight yesterday, most of them at Fagradalsfjall mountain and Þorbjörn mountain, close to Grindavík.

    Since midnight, there have been about 800 earthquakes, according to Minn­ey­ Sigur­dard­ur, a natural hazard specialist at the Icelandic Met­­ office. She adds­ that the seismic activity­ is still considerable.
    Uncertainty alert raised due to seismic swarm and possible magma intrusion
    Article on Iceland Monitor
    Uncertainty alert raised due to seismic swarm and possible magma intrusion

    A 3.4 magnitude earthquake occurred about 4:30 last night about five kilometres northwest of Grindavík but it hasn’t been examined by the Meteorological Office.

    The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, in agreement with the Commissioner of the South Iceland Police, declared yesterday the uncertainty level of civil protection due to the earthquake swarm.

  94. says

    […] How many of the alleged House GOP “centrists” ended up opposing House Speaker Mike Johnson’s far-right bid? Literally none of them. They could’ve exercised their power, but they all went along with their party’s wishes instead. As New York magazine’s Jon Chait summarized:

    “Moderate” Republicans, as the media has absurdly taken to labeling conservative Republicans who have qualms about seizing power through non-electoral means, have shown through the last few weeks precisely how serious they are about their principles. They are willing to fight for them, for a short period of time, before arriving at the same position as their right-wing coalition partners.

    Johnson prevailed, Chait added, the same way these disputes are usually resolved: with “the least extreme Republicans capitulating to the most extreme ones.”

    Link

  95. says

    Special counsel seizes on Trump’s provocative rhetoric about Meadows

    As Donald Trump goes after a key witness — again — the rhetorical offensive did not go unnoticed by special counsel Jack Smith’s office.

    Donald Trump is no stranger to allegations of witness tampering. Four years ago, for example, the then-president publicly went after former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during her congressional testimony as part of a House impeachment inquiry. As NBC News reported soon after, the Republican’s intimidation tactics raised questions about whether he’d crossed the line into witness tampering.

    Similarly, former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report highlighted multiple instances in which Trump had interactions with witnesses that might have met the threshold for charging obstruction of justice.

    As recently as two months ago, as former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan prepared to deliver grand jury testimony in his home state of Georgia, the former president publicly urged the Republican not to answer questions.

    But this week, Trump appeared to break new ground.

    Late Tuesday, ABC News reported that Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, has not only spoken multiple times to members of special counsel Jack Smith’s team, Meadows also appeared before a federal grand jury as part of an immunity agreement. (Meadows’ attorney disputed the reporting, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, calling it “largely inaccurate.”)

    Trump did not respond well to the news. The former president not only lashed out online, he also preemptively tried to argue that Meadows might’ve been pressured into making false claims. What’s more, Trump argued that those who agree to cooperate with prosecutors should be seen as “weaklings and cowards“ — sparking yet another round of discussion about the Republican’s willingness to push legal boundaries.

    Just as importantly, if not more so, the rhetoric did not go unnoticed in the special counsel’s office. The Washington Post reported:

    Special counsel Jack Smith argued in new court filings Wednesday that recent comments by Donald Trump show not only that a federal gag order should be reimposed, but that the court should weigh stricter sanctions, including sending him to jail, if he keeps talking about witnesses in his case.

    An NBC News report added that prosecutors, in their court filing, argued that Trump was “targeting a known witness in this case in an attempt to influence and intimidate him” and requested that the stay on the gag order be lifted and modified to protect witnesses from attacks.

    U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who imposed and then paused a gag order last week, has not yet responded to the latest filings.

  96. tomh says

    NYT:
    New House Speaker Champions Fossil Fuels and Dismisses Climate Concerns
    By Lisa Friedman / Oct. 26, 2023

    Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the newly elected House speaker, has questioned climate science, opposed clean energy and received more campaign contributions from oil and gas companies than from any other industry last year.
    […]

    … he has consistently voted against dozens of climate bills and amendments, opposing legislation that would require companies to disclose their risks from climate change and bills that would reduce leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells. He has voted for measures that would cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency.
    […]

    After Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Democrat of New York, and Senator Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, unsuccessfully filed “Green New Deal” legislation in 2019 to aggressively cut emissions, move the country toward 100 percent renewable energy and address a host of social issues, Mr. Johnson hit back.

    Then the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Mr. Johnson issued a 13-page paper dubbing the climate plan “A Greedy New Steal.” He called the Democrats’ plan “a thinly veiled attempt to implement the policies that would usher in a new socialist society in America.”

    Last year, when Democrats passed climate legislation that provided for investing $370 billion in clean energy, Mr. Johnson criticized it as a plan to send taxpayer dollars to “green energy slush funds.” Much of the private investment stemming from that law is taking hold in Republican-led states.
    […]

    The Independent Petroleum Association of America applauded Mr. Johnson’s election, saying that as a Louisiana representative, he “knows the importance of both Haynesville shale and Gulf of Mexico production to America’s energy future.” Steven J. Milloy, a prominent climate denialist, called Mr. Johnson “a quantum leap improvement” over Mr. McCarthy.

  97. says

    tomh @114, Mike Johnson embodies “the banality of evil.”

    Republicans have their election denier, and they’re not even trying to deny it

    One of the biggest objections that so-called moderate Republicans lodged against Rep. Jim Jordan as a candidate for speaker of the House was his election denial. For the 18 Republicans in districts won by President Joe Biden, staying away from those who embraced the worst of election denial seemed like a line in the sand.

    Then those same Republicans got out the broom and erased that line by voting for Rep. Mike Johnson.

    Because Johnson wasn’t just a Jan. 6 supporter, he was an architect of the entire scheme. From planning to steal the votes of millions of Americans to making false claims about voting machines, Johnson worked to support the Big Lie at every stage. No member of Congress did more to overturn the 2020 election. And every Republican who voted for him just voted to endorse Johnson’s efforts to end American democracy.

    Here’s Republican Rep. Ken Buck insisting that the next speaker of the House had to be someone who acknowledged President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 and claiming he wouldn’t support anyone who was involved in Jan. 6 [Tweet and video at the link]

    Here’s another statement from Buck explaining just how important it was to admit the truth of Biden’s victory. “If we don’t have the moral clarity to decide whether President Biden won or not, we don’t have the moral clarity to rule in this country, period,” Buck said.

    And here’s Buck congratulating Mike Johnson after Buck voted for him for speaker. [Screen capture at the link]

    Buck is emblematic of a group of Republicans who claimed to care deeply about upholding democracy … until they didn’t. Because there’s absolutely no mystery about Johnson’s positions. He wasn’t just another Republican who went along with Trump’s efforts. He was a leader and originator of some of the most dangerous efforts, and directly involved in attempts to overturn the election that have already netted felony indictments for other members of Trump’s circle.

    As The Washington Post reports, Johnson recruited 125 members of the Republican House into a scheme that included signing a Supreme Court brief. That brief supported throwing out the votes in four states that Trump lost on the basis that election officials had made changes to voting rules in response to the pandemic. Jordan and Rep. Steve Scalise might have signed onto that brief (as did former speaker Kevin McCarthy), but it was Johnson who wrote it and recruited the rest.

    By the time Jan. 6 rolled around, Johnson was a leader among the Republicans who were set to vote no on accepting the electors from multiple states. And he did.

    It’s no wonder that Donald Trump was so supportive of installing Johnson as speaker, Because Trump worked hand in hand with Johnson in planning these election denial efforts. According to the Post, Johnson was “directly solicited by Trump” to spearhead efforts on Capitol Hill. In Johnson, Trump has exactly what he wanted: Someone who will work to deny the outcome of an election, no matter what the voters say.

    After all, as Johnson has said plainly and repeatedly, he doesn’t believe in democracy. He believes America is a republic set up by founders who “followed a biblical admonition on what a civil society is supposed to look like.” [Tweet and video at the link: “You know, we don’t live in a democracy” but a “biblical” republic.]

    That admonition seemingly includes the ability to suppress the votes of tens of millions to obtain the desired outcome. Johnson believes that his elevation to speaker was “ordained by God” and that Republican House members were “raised up” by God to their current positions. But apparently, when a vote goes against Republicans, they’ve also been ordained to overturn that vote.

    It’s an extremely convenient view of God.

    Politico reports that on Jan. 5, 2021, Johnson huddled with other Republicans and explained to them God’s will. “This is a very weighty decision,” Johnson told them. “All of us have prayed for God’s discernment.” Then he led them in voting against accepting the election results in two states. Because for Johnson, God’s will and his own will are apparently inseparable.

    Johnson’s prayers have also given him insight into software programming that seems to bring knowledge straight from the Book of Sidney Powell. [Tweet and video at the link]

    “They know that in Georgia it really was rigged. It was set up for the Biden team to win. And they have a Republican secretary of state there that’s under massive fire because he kind of went along with all of it. Nobody knows why. … you have a software system that is used all around the country that is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela”

    That’s who the Republicans have put in charge. A theocratic Trump supporter who believes that any lie is acceptable because God picked him–-and Trump, and everyone who supports them—no matter what the voters say.

    That’s who Buck and every other Republican who claimed to have some concern about upholding the truth about the election selected. Only 125 Republicans may have signed onto Johnson’s efforts to overturn democracy in 2020. But this week, 220 of them signed onto his scheme. Every single one of them is now an election denier.

    Every Republican who voted for Johnson is a volunteer in the effort to end America. Mike Johnson would say that was God’s will. One thing is certain: They don’t give a damn about the people’s will.

  98. says

    Stonekettle:

    Well, you have to give Republicans credit.

    I mean, it was damned hard finding someone worse than Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and Steve Scalise combined, but they did it.

  99. says

    Mike Johnson, the new speaker, makes statement on Maine shooting.

    “This is a dark time in America. …Prayer is appropriate in a time like this, that the evil can end and this senseless violence can stop.“

    Mike Johnson has consistently voted against all gun safety legislation.

  100. tomh says

    “BREAKING: Judge throws out Georgia’s redistricting, orders new maps”
    October 26, 2023, 9:16 am / RICK HASEN

    AJC:

    A federal judge ruled Thursday that Georgia’s district lines must be redrawn to ensure adequate representation of Black voters in Congress and the General Assembly, finding that the state’s maps illegally weakened their political power.

    The decision could result in the election of additional Black representatives next year, with Democrats hoping to gain a seat in the U.S. House, where Republicans currently hold a 222-212 majority and a 9-5 lead among the state’s representatives. Before the 2021 redistricting, the GOP held an 8-6 advantage.

    U.S. District Judge Steve Jones concluded that the Republican-controlled General Assembly violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits racial discrimination in elections. Jones required legislators to create additional districts with Black majorities, or something close to it, by Dec. 8.
    Here is the 516-page (!) ruling.

    Election Law Blog

  101. says

    Ready to work? House Republicans opt for a five-day break instead

    “The people’s House is back in business,” Speaker Mike Johnson said Wednesday after his election ended more than three weeks of inaction by Republicans. Then House leadership announced a long—and I do mean long—weekend, with no votes on Friday, Monday, or Tuesday.

    Republicans kept talking about how they needed to elect a speaker so they could do the urgent work of the House, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much urgency now. A government shutdown is just over three weeks away if the House doesn’t pass funding legislation to prevent it, but sure, take a five-day weekend. […]

  102. says

    Michael Cohen describes what happened in court:

    Trump’s lawyer told the judge “We’re making a motion for a directed verdict” (Which is where one party asks the judge to settle the entire case). And the judge looked and he was like “What?” (The Lawyer) goes “We’re making a motion for a directed verdict based on the fact that Mr. Cohen is a convicted perjurer” and that — this was a Trump play — out of a playbook — and it fucking fell short like you can’t imagine. They thought they were going to get a directed verdict based on the fact that they took one line, which is actually not inaccurate though it’s not clear, but they thought they were going to get one line out of a 500-page Congressional hearing and use that to impeach my credibility and to get a directed verdict.

    Not once, but twice.

    They made motions for a directed verdict to which the judge said “Absolutely Not. Absolutely denied.” And with that Trump threw his hands in the air, and starts yelling like the Diaper Donald baby that he is. “Oh, I didn’t get my way. I didn’t get my way” thinking that Michael Cohen is the only witness, he’s the key witness.

    The judge turned around and said “Michael Cohen isn’t the only witness. He may or may not be the key witness, there are many witnesses here. In fact, there’s enough documentation already on this case to fill this courtroom.” So he goes “No. NO!” And Donald was so fucking angry, he picked himself up and he ran out. Kicking and screaming, yelling. […]

    If I tell you, If the record comes out — I’m going to do a search — that these fucking lawyers for Donald turned around and called me “perjurer”, a “convicted felon”, a “liar” it’s gotta be in the thousands. Every other word by each and every one of them was “felon”, “liar”, “convicted liar.” […]

    Commentary:

    […] To be accurate Cohen was convicted of lying when he told Donald Trump’s story the way he wanted it told. He denied that Donald was involved in the payoffs to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, he also lied about being involved in trying to establish Trump Tower Moscow with Dimitri Peskov the Kremlin Spokesman during the 2016 election. Those were lies that Trump wanted to be told.

    Cohen wouldn’t have told those lies if Trump hadn’t demanded it. And now, Trump is attacking Cohen for telling HIS lies? […]

    [The Trump team’s] reaction and disappointment at the end is what gets me. They really thought this stupid shithead idea was going to work. They were invested in this idea. They were betting the farm on it. This was a “Brilliant Wile-E-Coyote Super-Genius Plan” in their pea brains. ACME patent pending.

    Michael Cohen told TRUMP’S LIES and got caught. Eventually, he repented and he gradually came back to reality and common sense. These people are gone. It’s not just Trump alone — it’s all of them.

    They have a very clear cognitive dysfunction.

    They have a fantasy movie playing in their heads and they have that stupid fucking movie completely confused with actual reality. […]

    And the proof is that he totally had a great economy and great standing in the world — completely unlike the guy who shut down the economy, lost millions of jobs, had the worst economy since Herbert Hoover, drove the deficit through the roof to over $3 Trillion, had a negative GDP, and canceled the Iran deal which took their oil off the market then threatened the Saudis into cutting their production which drove oil and gas prices sky high, let the supply chain collapse, tried to downplay Covid and made millions of people distrust science, facts, and the vaccine, promoted Ivermectin and injecting bleach, and left our country crumbled up in the ditch without any plan to distribute a life-saving vaccine which caused 43% more deaths in the Red States. […]

    Link

  103. says

    “The swamp is on the run, MAGA is ascendant, and if you don’t think that moving from Kevin McCarthy to MAGA Mike Johnson shows the ascendance of this movement, and where the power of the Republican Party truly lies, then you’re not paying attention,” Matt Gaetz said.

  104. says

    Search Continues For Whichever Antifa Biden Lib Forced Maine Shooter To Pretend To Be A Right-Winger

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/search-continues-for-whichever-antifa

    America is picking its way through the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, this time in Lewiston, Maine, where at least 18 people died and at least 13 others were wounded last night when another previously law abiding gun owner stopped abiding the law and shot up a bowling alley and a restaurant. The reported casualty numbers last night and this morning have varied widely, and may well rise.

    The suspected shooter is still at large as we write this, as law enforcement from all over join in searching for the shooter or perhaps his body and cable news fills time with expert opinion. People in the area have been told to shelter in place until the shooter is found. Businesses and schools are closed in Lewiston and several other locations around the state.

    Law enforcement have identified the suspected shooter as Robert Card, “a firearms instructor believed to be in the U.S. Army Reserve and assigned to a training facility in Saco, Maine,” although police until recently preferred the term “person of interest” as if it were a useful distinction. Perhaps they just want to ask if he knows the real shooter.

    We’ll take a moment to note here that Card’s politics, which we will visit later in this post, seem to be of the right-wing shoot-em-up variety. This isn’t so much to score political points as to point out that as is so often the case, the people who want guns to be free and easy — hell, mandatory — are usually the ones killing lots of people with guns.

    Card was identified relatively quickly last night because he left his car, or his suspected car, in nearby Lisbon, Maine, where writer Stephen King went to high school, and Card’s alleged face was captured on multiple security cams. The AP adds that a police bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies in the area

    said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks in the summer of 2023. It did not provide details about his treatment or condition but said Card had reported “hearing voices and threats to shoot up” the military base. A telephone number listed for Card in public records was not in service.

    Oh, well, mental health! That means we can keep having more and more guns circulating, because the problem is absolutely not guns. We need everyone to have a gun so the sane gun people can take out the mentally ill ones.

    The AP reports that in July, during Army Reserve training at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, officers in Card’s battalion “became concerned” when Card began “acting erratically,” and called police to take him for evaluation at Keller Army Community Hospital in West Point. Hell no, nobody knows why he still had access to firearms after that; Maine doesn’t have a “red flag” law, however, and in America we only take your guns away — if at all — while you’re an active danger to yourself and others, because you might need to defend yourself from urban rioters or a tyrannical federal government once you’re no longer an immediate threat.

    An arrest warrant has been issued for Card on eight counts of murder, since that’s the number of victims who have so far been identified, although their names have not yet been released.

    The shooting spree started around 7 p.m. at Just-in-Time Recreation (formerly “Sparetime,” so you’ll see that name too), a bowling alley where a children’s bowling league was meeting. Seven people died there, according to a Maine State Police briefing. The second shooting site was about four miles away at Schemengees Bar and Grille, where another eight of the victims were found. The ages of the victims haven’t yet been released.

    NBC News reports that Liam Kent, who grew up near Card’s home in nearby Bowdoin, Maine, described the place as “basically a compound” where

    “The family and Robert, they’re all gun fanatics,” Kent said. “For all intents and purposes, they are very much associated with right-wing militias. It’s known in the town to stay away from them and not approach them.”

    Kent said he vividly remembers when he went to the store as a kid and saw Card at a nearby weigh station with a dead deer. Card was grinning, covered in blood with a gun strapped to his body still.

    “Also they would shoot guns all the time, you could hear them every day after school,” Kent added. “It was like clockwork.”

    That might make it a little difficult for rightwingers to say Card was some sort of liberal, but we’re sure that narrative will emerge anyway. [video at the link]

    Social media accounts on Xitter and Facebook that probably belonged to Card have been shut down; Newsweek reports that screenshots of the accounts indicate Card was a fan of several rightwing figures, and had “liked” posts by Donald Trump Jr., Dinesh D’Souza, and Tucker Carlson, as well as tweets by former House speaker candidates Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy.

    In a detail that seems remarkably on the nose, Card allegedly liked a Don Jr. tweet from March that read

    “Given the incredible rise of trans/non-binary mass shooters in the last few years… by far the largest group committing as a percentage of population… maybe, rather than talking about guns we should be talking about lunatics pushing their gender affirming bullsh*t on our kids?”

    He also reportedly liked another anti-trans tweet by Tucker Carlson that declared, “The trans movement, it turns out, is the mirror image of Christianity, and therefore its natural enemy. People who believe they’re God can’t stand to be reminded that they’re not.”

    Another “like” reportedly went to a Dinesh D’Souza tweet arguing that assault weapons shouldn’t be banned, because

    “cars kill more people than guns do. But we blame the drivers. We don’t ban large or fast cars. We understand that cars, like guns, don’t act by themselves. The blame lies with the people who operate these mechanical devices. Common sense 101.”

    So how’s that for some unbeatable wisdom? We feel compelled to point out that Mr. Card nonetheless did not use a car to kill at least 18 people, which sure is a logical puzzle that we may never fathom.

    President Biden has nonetheless called again on Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — and in fact had done so before the shooting, leading noted conspiracy enthusiast Laura Loomer to brand it Biden’s false flag — as well as to enact universal background checks, a safe storage law, and to repeal liability immunity for gun manufacturers. Gun humpers on Twitter explained in reply that there is no such thing as an assault weapon because you could still beat someone to death with a shoe.

  105. Reginald Selkirk says

    Newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson is scheduled to give a talk at a Christian anti-transgender event held at a full-scale recreation of Noah’s Ark

    Newly-elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is scheduled to speak next year at a Christian anti-transgender conference held at a life-size recreation of Noah’s Ark…

    According to the website of Answers for Genesis, a Christian apologetics ministry that runs a Creation Museum and a full-scale version of Noah’s Ark from the biblical story, the organization currently plans for Johnson and his wife, Kelly, to speak at its “Reclaim: Answers for Women 2024 Weekday Conference” on April 3rd.

    A spokesperson for Answers for Genesis told Insider on Thursday that due to Johnson becoming speaker so suddenly, they weren’t sure if he’d still be able to attend the April event…

  106. says

    Sorry My Wife Couldn’t Make It, She Blew Out Her Knees Praying

    The Creepy Religious Extremism Of Speaker Mike Johnson. The new speaker of the House is a theocratic fascist lunatic.

    We’ve been talking about how new House Speaker Mike Johnson is a bizarre religious extremist whose lunatic theocratic tendencies render him unfit for the job he thinks God chose him for.

    But really, y’all, this guy is goddamn weird.

    Yesterday, while he was doing his little tiara dance after the speaker vote, he made a weird crack about how his wife couldn’t be there that day because she had been on her knees for the past two weeks — praying! — and oh boy is she tired. Don’t you hate it when you blow out your knees praying? [video at the link]

    “She’s spent the last couple of weeks on her knees in prayer to the Lord. And, um, she’s a little worn out.”

    Just a little Christian humor for ya!

    Except no. Dude is a fucking creep. […]

    People have been digging into the history of this man who, before he was in Congress, worked for anti-LGBTQ+ hate cells like the Family Research Council and what’s now called the Alliance Defending Freedom (it used to be Alliance Defense Fund), the group that’s currently employing Josh Hawley’s wife to overturn the FDA’s longstanding approval on the extremely safe and popular abortion drug Mifepristone.

    Obviously he’s a severe white anti-gay, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-abortion bigot, who wants a national abortion ban and introduced a national Don’t Say Gay bill. Throwing around “Handmaid’s Tale” references is a bit passé these days, but if anybody’s got the energy of one of those “commanders,” it’s this guy.

    For evidence, we can look at all his past writings about his desire to criminalize homosexuality […]

    In 2003, Johnson fought hard for the continued criminalization of gay sex, just as the Supreme Court decriminalized it with Lawrence v. Texas. While working as a lawyer for Alliance Defense Fund, which filed an amicus in the case, he argued in an op-ed for the Shreveport Times that “[s]tates have many legitimate grounds to proscribe same-sex deviate sexual intercourse.” He prudishly sneered for the sake of states’ rights to “discourage the evils of sexual conduct outside marriage” — what a goddamned dork — and posited that since you couldn’t then have gay sex within a marriage, then “the state is right to discriminate.”

    “All are capable of changing their abnormal lifestyles,” he wrote. “By closing these bedroom doors, [the Supreme Court has] opened a Pandora’s box,” he wrote. Raise your hand if you think piece of shit Mike Johnson has earned the right to possess an opinion on what happens on either side of your bedroom door, or in the doorway if it’s sturdy enough.

    In another op-ed in 2004, he babbled that marriage equality could “place our entire democratic system in jeopardy by eroding its foundation.” (No mention of what plotting coups to overturn presidential elections and thereby overthrow the government might do to our democratic system.) He claimed it would lead to man-pet marriage, pedophile marriage, “chaos and sexual anarchy.”

    Try not to laugh as you read this one from 2004:

    If you were shocked by the moral lapses at the Super Bowl you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Experts project that homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic.

    “Experts.” LOL. Oh God. […]

    (The religious Right have always invented their own studies and experts and even fake medical associations, in order to make it look like there’s scholarly support for their bullshit. For an example, we again reference the Mifepristone case winding its way through the courts, brought by the “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine,” which sounds real, but really was formed last year and really is just a bunch of anti-abortion fascists who want you to think they’re mainstream doctors.) [Important background information! I didn’t know that.]

    […] “This is a free country, but we don’t give protection for every person’s bizarre choices,” he wrote. (Later, in 2015, while in the Louisiana legislature, Johnson sponsored a “fuck the gays” bill to legalize discrimination, because those were all the rage that year.)

    Mike Johnson didn’t just write for the Shreveport Times. He’s also been a contributor for Answers in Genesis, the crackpot creation Bible science organization that built that stupid fucking Noah’s Ark and Creation Museum in Kentucky. [As PZ noted.]

    […] Here’s Some More Weird Shit

    Judd Legum’s newsletter this morning casts a wide net, hoo boy. But y’all might be particularly interested in Johnson’s advocacy for the weird, creepy, patriarchal and abusive practice of so-called “Covenant Marriage.” Conservative Christian extremists love it because it makes divorce really hard. Like, not even if you both just agree you want to get a divorce. Legum explains:

    In Louisiana, for example – the first state to formally recognize covenant marriages – couples seeking a divorce “must go through marriage counseling,” submit evidence, and “be separated for at least a year before a divorce can be granted.” These requirements apply even in cases involving physical and sexual abuse, and increase the chance that a woman continues to experience violence at their hands of their partner.

    Even in cases of physical and sexual abuse.

    […] But don’t worry, y’all: Mike Johnson isn’t just the president of covenant marriages. He’s also a client!

    Johnson and his wife entered into a covenant marriage in Louisiana in 1999. They’re now “proponents of the cause.” In an interview with ABC in 2005, Johnson said that opting for a covenant marriage was “kind of a no-brainer.”

    Sorry his wife couldn’t make it today. The thing with the knees and the exhaustion.

    […] Not to harp on it, but again, his wife couldn’t be here today because she’s nursing that old prayer injury. When will she learn you’re supposed to lift your prayers WITH YOUR LEGS? All kinds of gnarly things will happen to your back if you don’t.

    Anyway, lest we think all this was a long time ago and perhaps Mike Johnson has grown the fuck up, KFile points out that part of the opposition to Tom Emmer’s recently failed bid for the speakership was that he voted to codify marriage equality protections into federal law, and Mike Johnson was part of that opposition.

    Johnson’s first speech as speaker was wildly Christian fascist. He said “God is the one that raises up those in authority,” within the context of how he had just been elected speaker after three weeks of Republican clownfucking and failure instigated by Matt Gaetz. The Lord works in all kinds of mysterious and inefficient ways, we guess.

    “I believe that God has allowed and ordained each and every one of us to be here at this specific moment,” he yapped. He bemoaned that children are no longer taught that “all men are created equal. Not ‘born equal.’ Created equal.”

    Here’s a whole creepy clip: [video at the link]

  107. says

    Resilient U.S. economy grew at a ‘stellar’ pace over the summer

    Over the summer, the economy grew faster than in any quarter from Donald Trump’s first three years in office. No wonder the White House is celebrating.

    Before the Commerce Department released its latest report on the strength of the U.S. economy, expectations were high that the data would show robust growth from the summer months. As NBC News reported, it turns out the economy “grew even faster than expected” in the third quarter.

    Gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced in the U.S., rose at a 4.9% annualized pace in the July-through-September period, up from an unrevised 2.1% pace in the second quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a 4.7% acceleration.

    The report added that the sharp increase in economic growth came as a result of strong consumer spending, businesses building up inventories, exports, residential investment, and government spending. The Washington Post’s Heather Long described the latest GDP report as “stellar.”

    The 4.9% figure — which will be revised in future months — reflects the strongest economic growth since the fourth quarter of 2021. It’s also stronger growth than in any quarter from Donald Trump’s first three years in office.

    […] “I always say it is a mistake to bet against the American people, and just today we learned the economy grew 4.9% in the third quarter,” President Joe Biden said in a written statement. “I never believed we would need a recession to bring inflation down — and today we saw again that the American economy continues to grow even as inflation has come down. It is a testament to the resilience of American consumers and American workers, supported by Bidenomics — my plan to grow the economy by growing the middle class.”

    As for the political implications, the Democratic president’s re-election campaign released a short video highlighting rhetoric from Biden’s Republican predecessor about lower GDP growth — which Trump tried to convince the public was exceptional. [Tweet and video at the link]

    As best as I can tell, the frontrunner for the Republicans’ 2024 nomination hasn’t yet commented on the latest economic news, though I’ll gladly update this post if that changes.

  108. Reginald Selkirk says

    NASA Plans to Visit a Toxic Moon—Here’s How It’s Testing a ‘Dragonfly’ for the Mission

    A car-sized rotorcraft is getting ready to soar through the thick atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon. Before it’s ready to explore the possible habitability of the bizarre methane-soaked world, Dragonfly was put to the test here on Earth, flying through intense wind tunnels that simulate the alien conditions on Titan.

    NASA engineers carried out a series of tests at the Subsonic Tunnel at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia to ensure that Dragonfly will be able to fly through Titan’s atmosphere, according to the space agency. A half-scale Dragonfly lander model, complete with eight rotors, was tested in the 14-by-22 Subsonic Tunnel…

  109. says

    Satire written by Andy Borowitz:

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a stirring acceptance speech after being elected Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson vowed to be “the greatest Speaker of the seventeenth century.”

    “For years, time travel was the stuff of science fiction,” he said. “Now, as I take this majestic nation back four hundred years, I will make that dream a reality.”

    Noting that L.G.B.T.Q. and women’s rights would be subject to his review, he said that he would also be taking a “hard look at some other so-called innovations, such as electricity and soap.”

    “My message to the American people is simple: I work for thee,” he said.

    When a reporter pointed out that there was no such thing as a Speaker of the House in the seventeenth century, Johnson replied, “I see you’ve been reading history books. Enjoy them while you can.”

    New Yorker link

  110. says

    I got curious about calcium and prokaryotes since my knowledge was biased by what it does in muscles and nervous systems.
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hlca.202200205
    “3 The Non-Proteinaceous Calcium/ Polyphosphate/Polyhydroxybutyrate (Ca-PPi-PHB) Channel
    When E. coli cells are incubated in calcium salt solutions, they become genetically competent, i. e., their cell wall becomes permeable to DNA (transformation).70-72 This process is performed numerous times every day worldwide in molecular biology laboratories, for instance to express large amounts of proteins or enzymes, or to perform site-directed mutagenesis. If asked how this transformation occurs, the average molecular biologist will shrug and admit ignorance – it works! I have done this test many times. The matter-of-fact answer is: R. Reusch showed in 1988 that PHB is involved,73 the Ca2+ ions induce the microorganism to form an ion channel consisting of calcium polyphosphate (PPi, ca. 60 residues) and PHB (ca. 135 residues). This non-proteinaceous channel can be extracted from E. coli and incorporated into PLBs for patch clamp experiments… ”
    Ion channels without proteins. Interesting.
    And our partners in eukaryotic amalgamation have them too.
    “The same channel (with somewhat longer polymer chains) has been isolated from rat liver mitochondria by water-free chloroform extraction.”

  111. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #126…
    I guess Johnson is too young to remember that “sexual anarchy” is what happened in the mid-1960s. Summer of Love and all that. (Hmm…. Just looked him up. Born in 1972. So he wasn’t around at the time.)

  112. Reginald Selkirk says

    Autoworkers reach a deal with Ford, a breakthrough toward ending strikes against Detroit automakers

    The United Auto Workers union said Wednesday it has reached a tentative contract agreement with Ford that could be a breakthrough toward ending the nearly six-week-old strikes against Detroit automakers.

    The four-year deal, which still has to be approved by 57,000 union members at the company, could bring a close to the union’s series of strikes at targeted factories run by Ford, General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis…

  113. Reginald Selkirk says

    @85 Hurricane Otis

    Hurricane Otis kills at least 27 in devastating blow to Acapulco, Mexico, that tore through high-rises and inundated roads

    Trying to make sense of why Otis exploded en route to Acapulco this week


    None of the best, most reliable tropical modeling had Otis as a hurricane, let alone a Category 5 storm. To put it bluntly, this was an absolutely catastrophic forecasting failure.

    By late Tuesday morning, the experts at the National Hurricane Center had it at 90 mph making landfall. This is well above any forecast data, and they concluded in their discussion that it seemed reasonable to potentially see further intensification adjustments upward before landfall. But even in their worst-case scenario, the NHC forecast would have still been off by probably two categories less than 18 hours before landfall. And this was using strong meteorological analysis to bias-correct the models upward, too. To their credit, they had it at 140 mph by the late afternoon advisory…

  114. says

    Confessions from Hamas militants, not verified by independent sources:

    A compilation of videotaped confessions by Hamas militants released this week by Israeli officials largely follows the same pattern. All of the men are seated and handcuffed as they recount — calmly and matter-of-factly — how they helped carry out the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel that killed more than 1,000 civilians, including women, children and the elderly.

    The interviews, each filmed individually and compiled into a grim, 12-minute clip reel, were released by Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service. They were part of a range of materials released by Israeli officials this week that appeared to be designed to remind the world of the savagery of the terrorist attacks.

    One of their other apparent goals, according to experts, was to show the cruelty and cynicism of Hamas leaders and to rebut the group’s claim that it does not intentionally target civilians. The release of the confessions also appeared to be an effort to show Palestinians that Hamas commanders had manipulated their members and then abandoned them.

    One of the militants interviewed in the videos said that Hamas leaders promised him a cash bounty for every hostage he brought back to Gaza. “Whoever kidnaps a hostage and brings them to Gaza gets a stipend … an apartment and $10,000,” said the man, who added that Hamas promised to pay him in U.S. currency.

    NBC News was not given access to unedited videos of the interviews by Israeli officials and could not independently verify the accounts or claims of the six men. Israeli officials said the men were not coerced into speaking or abused.

    Some of the militants appeared to be low-level fighters while two others said they were group leaders. Two of them expressed anger at Hamas leaders who they said had sent them into Israel and abandoned them.

    NBC News shared the video with experts who have experience interviewing terrorists. They said that the mens’ matter-of-fact descriptions of executing civilians did not surprise them.

    […] “I did interrogations on target and off target in both Iraq and Afghanistan, when we were embedded with special operation forces,” said Rob D’Amico who worked on counterterrorism at the FBI is now a principal at Sierra One Consulting. “It reminded me of how people could talk about killing other people in such a calm manner.”

    D’Amico noted it did not appear that the men had been trained to evade questions during an interrogation. “It’s not like you’re talking to a suspected Russian KGB agent who has been through a lot of training on how to get interrogated and how to not give information away until it’s absolutely likely necessary, and it’s not good anymore,” D’Amico said.

    Former FBI agent Stephanie Douglas said the men were admitting to acts that had obviously taken place, some of them caught on camera by Hamas’ own body cameras.

    “They admitted to killing civilians, setting fires and having hostages taken. So that is something that’s already very, very obvious,” said Douglas, who is now president of national security practice at Guidepost Solutions.

    According to Douglas, Shin Bet would want to know the names and locations of the commanders and how they are communicating with others to understand the command structure.

    “I’m sure there are a lot of other questions that are not being captured on this tape that they’re being asked.”

    Toward the end of the compilation the men are asked if killing women and children is allowed in Islam. They all answered no. The interrogators also asked if their actions were akin to those of the Islamic State terrorist group. All of the men answered yes.

    Douglas said the video was also meant to send a message to Hamas members in Gaza. “They’re doing this to put it on video. I think the whole ISIS and Hamas, equating those two organizations, is a good takeaway for Israel,” Douglas said, adding that other Hamas members are likely included in the target audience.

    “[Israel wants] them to know this is what’s happening. These are all your buddies that didn’t make it back to Gaza,” she said. “And they’ve been abandoned.”

    Link

  115. Reginald Selkirk says

    Maine Pol’s Stunning Mea Culpa After Gunman’s Rampage With Sniper Rifle

    The state lawmaker whose hometown in Maine was torn apart by a gunman wielding a sniper rifle on Wednesday issued a stunning mea culpa on Thursday, apologizing for previously voting against an assault rifle ban and vowing to do everything possible to outlaw “weapons of war.”

    “The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing,” said State Rep. Jared Golden, whose district includes Lewiston, where Army marksman Robert Card allegedly killed 18 people in a bowling alley and a nearby bar.

    Golden conceded his prior opposition to gun control measures was based on several “misjudgments,” among them, his “fear of this dangerous world,” his determination to protect his wife and daughter in their home, and his “false confidence that our community was above this and that we could be in full control.” …

  116. Reginald Selkirk says

    Breakthroughs in race to create lab models of human embryos raise hopes and concerns

    It’s still one of the biggest mysteries in science: How does a human cell — too small to see with the naked eye — divide and reproduce to ultimately become a human body made up of more than 30 trillion cells?

    From the moment sperm fuses with an egg, human embryo development involves a string of complex and little understood processes. Much of what is known about embryo development comes from animals such as mice, rabbits, chickens and frogs, with research on human embryos very tightly controlled and regulated in most countries.

    But animal studies can only tell researchers so much. What happens during human embryo development, particularly in the crucial first month, remains largely unknown…

    FFS.

    Some of the steps in human development may not be well-known, but it’s not like they defy the laws of physics or anything.

    And WE ARE ANIMALS – so their caveat about animal models not telling us everything seems wildly overstated. Yes, the details will be different in different branches of life. Once again, not anything that defies the laws of physics.

    This is a big nothing compared to some other scientific questions out there – such as how to reconcile quantum mechanics and relativity? Or is it even possible to know what happened before the Big Bang?

  117. says

    Ukraine Update: ATACMS missiles are doing even better than expected

    On Wednesday, kos noted that there was evidence that Ukraine had made additional use of the ATACMS long-range missiles recently delivered by the United States. Russia made note of it too, because Telegram and state media sources were both overrun with claims that ATACMS launches had been shot down.

    The problem was that the portion of the missile that the Russians kept showing was essentially the booster, not the payload. Rather than showing signs of being shredded by any air defense system, both of those ATACMS looked as if they had done their job, delivered their explosives, and simply dropped to the Earth, expended. It also seemed more than coincidental that there had been some significant explosions in the same area where the ATACMS boosters had been found.

    Now it seems that Russian Telegram is ‘fessing up. The two ATACMS rockets were destroyed … but not as the result of any air defense. Instead, “It is exactly like this. Two ATACMS missiles were destroyed as a result of a direct hit on the position of the Russian Armed Forces air defense group in Luhansk region and at the cost of 3 S-400 systems deployed there.” [LOL]

    Actually, this news has come in stages. At first, the thought was that Ukraine had managed to take down a pair of S-300 systems. Which is a big deal. [Tweet and video at the link]

    But if these missiles actually took out three $600 million S-400 air defense systems, then the investment in the ATACMS rockets was seriously worth it. This follows the targeting of at least one and possibly two S-400 systems that Ukraine reportedly took down in Crimea in September using a modified Neptune anti-ship cruise missile. If Russia has actually lost five S-400 systems over the past two months, that’s between $2.5 billion and $3 billion in direct losses.

    But really, it’s more than that. Because the S-400 has been a big international seller for Russia, and what customer is going to sign up for a missile defense system that has been directly taken out by both cruise and ballistic missiles? What exactly does the S-400 defend against?

    In any case, the recent successful uses of ATACMS are reportedly causing Russia to scramble, including removing aircraft from fields at both Berdyansk in the south and Luhansk in the east following the massively successful attack that knocked out 21 helicopters at Berdyansk last week. (That number may actually turn out to be an underestimate.)

    By forcing Russia to move its aircraft out of ATACMS range, Ukraine has also made them less effective in providing air support to Russian forces on the front. The increased distance to the front means they must carry less ordnance, have less time to loiter looking for targets, and have less flexibility in taking routes that avoid air defense threats. Exactly how many ATACMS Ukraine has isn’t known, but so far, they have made every shot count.
    ————————
    There’s been some debate over whether Avdiivka really is “the new Bakhmut”—a location that Russia is determined to capture at any cost, including “meat waves” of low-quality troops being sent to their deaths for minimal gains.

    Russia’s fierce Avdiivka assault is now in its third week. The number of videos showing wrecked tanks, smashed armored carriers, blasted trucks, and Russian infantry being taken out en masse is so prolific that it seems incredible. Over the past few days, as the number of Russian troops sent out without tanks or other armor to screen them from attacks has increased, some of those videos have become absolutely ghastly. I advise extreme caution if you go searching social media for action around Avdiivka at this point because there are many, many videos circulating right now that fall into the “you can’t unsee it” category. Yes, it’s Russian soldiers. No, that doesn’t make it any easier to watch or any better for your soul.

    This is also difficult, but in a very different way. [Tweet and video at the link: It’s hard to hold back tears🥺❤️‍🩹 This elderly woman, along with her beloved cat Mashka, lives in a war-damaged house in #Avdiivka. For 30 years, she worked as a teacher of the Ukrainian language and literature.]

    On Sunday and Monday, it seemed that Russia had made a significant advance in spite of extremely heavy losses. On the north side, they stretched out their area of control by over a kilometer, creating a growing salient around the town of Krasnohorivka. [map at the link]

    Since Wednesday, open source intelligence […] has marked the limit of the Russian advance at the rail line running between Krasnohorivka and Stepove. However, other sources have indicated a growing, if narrow, area of Russian control spreading west to the north of Stepove. The Ukrainian General Staff reported fighting near Stepove on Thursday as part of 15 assaults turned back in the Avdiivka area.

    Other sources have indicated that Russia is attempting to reach the heavily blast-damaged coke plant (that’s coke, like that used in making steel, rather than Coke as in served ice cold) about 500 meters south of the “waste mountain” which has come under sporadic Russian control.

    Continuing to push west would seem to open Russia’s salient to a counterattack from the north or south. However, if Russia can move south and reach the old coking plant, they might be able to parlay this into a foothold in the extreme northwest of Avdiivka. Then Russia could repeat exactly what happened at Bakhmut—advance slowly, block by block, trading heavy losses for gains.

    Up until now, the southern prong of the Russian attack seemed to be making little if any progress, with Ukrainian artillery suppressing any attempt to move much beyond Vodyane. But Russia has reportedly pulled additional reserves into the area in an effort to continue the attack. All of this makes it seem as if Avdiivka does bear a resemblance to events at Bakhmut.

    Vladimir Putin wants a win. Russian generals are trying to give him one. As we’ve seen in the past, Russia counts sacrificing tens of thousands to achieve a “victory” that leads to nothing as a win. [Tweet and video at the link]
    —————————————-
    It may not quite be the 55 Russian tanks that Ukraine reported destroyed on the first day of the Avdiivka offensive, but this still represents a sizable one-day loss. [List of losses at the link]

    It’s hard to say how much of this happened at Avdiivka. The Ukrainian military is also reporting a pair of failed Russian assaults north of Kupyansk, four attacks north of Bakhmut, and seven attacks in the Klishchiivka area south of Bakhmut. Russia has reportedly made some gains north of Bakhmut in the area near the Berkhivka reservoir, but the change doesn’t appear to be very large. Ukraine has continued to hold Klishchiivka and Andrivka in the south.

    South of Avdiivka, Russia reportedly made multiple failed attacks at Marinka. The dividing line in that city appears to be about where it was three months ago, despite literally dozens of reported assaults.

    Notably, Russia doesn’t appear to have conducted any attacks in Zaporizhzhia or to have made any attempt to regain control of the area lost along the Dnipro River in Kherson.
    ——————————–
    Ha, ha! He made a fumble and everyone scrambled to change so that he would be right. Funny. [Tweet and video at the link: Putin recalls fondly how a whole project was renamed when he misspoke its name. The dictator sees no problems with this attitude from his serfs.]

    Donald Trump surely envies that level of toadying.

  118. says

    Oh boy, have you seen this new House speaker? Just when you think Republicans can’t get worse, they dredge up something like Mike Johnson to be their public face. He’s so, so bad. […] In short, he literally doesn’t believe in democracy, saying, “You know, we don’t live in a democracy [but a] Biblical” republic. He views LGBTQ+ people as “a deviant group.” As Mark Sumner writes, “Johnson believes that Christians have an exclusive right to rule the United States.” When it comes to same-sex marriage and other rights, he doesn’t want to drag us back decades: He wants to drag us back centuries.

    Johnson is a zealot and he falters where party leaders usually excel—he doesn’t even know how to raise money. Since 2016, ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy raised $77 million for House campaign committees, funding Republican efforts nationwide. Johnson? He’s only raised $4 million in that period, and it was all money for himself. In a tough cycle for Republican House incumbents, 18 of whom represent districts carried by President Joe Biden in 2020, the lack of McCarthy’s money spigot will become a real hindrance to their efforts to retain the majority.

    Meanwhile, Donald Trump is taking all the credit for Johnson and celebrating the pick. This ensures more future pain for those Republican “moderates” in Biden districts, no matter how much they hysterically pretend to be a stabilizing force in their caucus. […]

    Link

  119. says

    A list of mass killings in the United States since January

    Associated Press link

    The latest mass killing in the U.S. happened Wednesday night in Lewiston, Maine, when a man opened fire at a bowling alley and a restaurant, killing at least 18 people, the state’s governor announced Thursday. At least 13 people were also wounded. […]

    So far this year, the nation has witnessed the second-highest number on record of mass killings and deaths to this point in a single year. Only 2019 had more mass killings. According to the database, there have been more than 560 mass killings since 2006, in which at least 2,900 people died and at least 2,000 were injured. […]

  120. John Morales says

    According to the database, there have been more than 560 mass killings since 2006, in which at least 2,900 people died and at least 2,000 were injured. […]

    Wow. Almost half as many as in Gaza over a couple of weeks.

  121. Jean says

    Re #148
    I guess you can play with statistics because according to the Gun Violence Archive the number of mass shooting this year is at 566 which is ‘slightly’ more than the 36 reported by AP.

  122. KG says

    Reginald Selkirk@144,

    Subject to correction by our host or others, I think you’re wrong. Human embryonic/fetal development is unusual, because human infants are born in a very helpless state relative to our nearest relatives – we’re “secondarily altricial” – because of the mismatch between the size of the infant head and the maternal pelvic opening. But clearly, the heart, lungs and other organs have to be ready for independent operation at birth. So a lot of the relative timing of aspects of development will be different.

  123. says

    Jean @150, I think the definition of “mass shooting” varies. The lack of consistency in reporting is irritating. We need a better database.

  124. says

    In recent years, as job growth has soared in the United States and the unemployment rate has dropped to levels unseen in more than 50 years, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have responded to the news by ignoring the data. Month after month, the economy adds hundreds of thousands of jobs, and I eagerly await the reactions from GOP congressional leaders.

    […] the Commerce Department released new data roughly 24 hours ago, pointing to robust economic growth in the United States over the summer (July through September). In fact, the gross domestic product reached 4.9% for the quarter — a level of growth unseen during Donald Trump’s first three years in office — exceeding expectations.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t bother to issue any kind of statement, and new House Speaker Mike Johnson was similarly silent — except to tell Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he believes the U.S. economy “is in the tank,” overwhelming evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The Republican National Committee sort of acknowledged the GDP report — it issued a statement arguing that “Bidenomics is a failure,” which appeared to be odds with the news Americans had just received — though it made no mention of the actual data.

    There’s no great mystery here. Party leaders have almost certainly concluded that if they were to comment on the good news, more Americans might hear about it — and that’s the last thing the GOP wants. There’s political utility in simply looking the other way.

    But the Republicans’ silence doesn’t change the fact that the latest economic data is fantastic.

    Link

  125. says

    Asked about mass shootings, House Speaker Mike Johnson said, “The problem is the human heart. It’s not guns.”

    As of Friday morning, a massive manhunt is still underway for an Army reservist who is suspected of killing 18 people in Lewiston, Maine. According to an NBC News report, the mass shooting was the 565th in the U.S. in 2023 and the deadliest so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. [With “mass shooting” defined as a shooting in which 4 or more people were killed.]

    It was against this backdrop that new House Speaker Mike Johnson sat down with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, and fielded a question about those advocating new safeguards to prevent future slayings. The Louisiana Republican responded:

    At the end of the day, the problem is the human heart. It’s not guns, it’s not the weapons. At the end of the day, we have to protect the right of the citizens to protect themselves, and that’s the Second Amendment. And that’s why our party stands so strongly for that. … This is not the time to be talking about legislation. We’re in the middle of that crisis right now.

    [Hogwash, and smugly delivered. FFS.]

    So, a few things.

    First, the idea that the problem is “the human heart” and not firearms is belied by the experiences of pretty much every other country on the planet. There are billions of human hearts in nations around the globe, but mass shootings like these are only common in the United States. Unless the Louisiana Republican is prepared to argue that American hearts are somehow worse than other people’s hearts, this is not an argument to be taken seriously. [correct]

    Second, it’s true that the crisis in Maine is still unfolding, and efforts to apprehend the suspected shooter are underway. But it’s also true that Johnson and his GOP colleagues will be no more interested in new safeguards after the immediate crisis has subsided than they are now.

    Third, the idea that the United States has to choose between the status quo and the Second Amendment is plainly false. There are a great many potentially lifesaving safeguards that policymakers can create that would fall well within constitutional boundaries. It would simply take some political will — which among Republicans, does not appear to exist.

    And finally, as disappointing as Johnson’s answer was, there was nothing surprising about it. […] he suggested school shootings could be attributed to divorce, “radical feminism,” and reproductive rights.

    In the same speech, delivered the year before he became a federal lawmaker, Johnson added, “[W]e’ve taught a whole generation, a couple generations now of Americans, that there’s no right or wrong, that it’s about survival of the fittest, and you evolve from the primordial slime.”

    In other words, the then-GOP candidate was complaining about lessons on evolutionary biology. [Head/Desk]

    Johnson proceeded to get elected to Congress anyway, at which point he started voting against every possible gun reform that reached the floor.

    If recent history is any guide, the heartbreaking death toll in Maine will again generate public support for new gun safeguards, but those looking to the Johnson-led House are going to be disappointed.

    Link

    Mike Johnson should be voted out of office.

  126. says

    Ivanka Trump will have to take the witness stand in the civil fraud case against her father, her brothers and the family business, a judge ruled Friday.

    The ruling came weeks into the trial of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, sons Don Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization and some executives.

    After Ivanka Trump was dismissed from the case months ago, lawyers for her and the defense contended that she shouldn’t have to take the stand, noting that she moved out of New York and stepped away from her Trump Organization job in 2017. The state’s lawyers argued that the former Trump Organization executive vice president has relevant information.

    Judge Arthur Engoron sided with the state, citing documents showing that Ivanka Trump has ownership or management ties to some businesses in New York and still owns Manhattan apartments.

    “Ms. Trump has clearly availed herself of the privilege of doing business in New York,” Engoron said. He said her testimony wouldn’t be scheduled before Nov. 1, to give her lawyers time to appeal. […]

    Link

  127. tomh says

    Mitt Romney Reveals Most Republicans Didn’t Impeach Trump Because They Feared Violent Attacks from His Supporters
    Colby Hall / Oct 27th, 2023

    Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) revealed to biographer McKay Coppins that the threat of physical violence effectively kept many elected Republicans from voting to impeach or convict President Donald Trump, even though they wanted to.

    Coppins is doing the media rounds to promote his new biography Reckoning and chatted with Brian Stelter for a thoughtful interview, which Vanity Fair published on Thursday.

    NYU Journalism professor Jay Rosen flagged one particular passage on social media, writing: “Read this paragraph and tell me that the 2024 election can be responsibly reported using the same tools and terms in use for every national election.”

    The passage in question reveals that many Republican members of Congress wanted to vote to impeach or convict the former president but that the threat of political violence by Trump supporters effectively kept them from doing what they thought was right. Stelter writes:

    “One of the biggest revelations to me in my conversations with Romney was just how important the threat of political violence was to the psychology of elected Republicans today,” said Coppins, who recalled Romney telling him “story after story about Republican members of Congress, Republican senators, who at various points wanted to vote for impeachment—vote to convict Trump or vote to impeach Trump—and decided not to, not because they thought he was innocent, but because they were afraid for their family’s safety. They were afraid of what Trump supporters might do to them or to their families.” That “raises a really uncomfortable question,” Coppins said, which is “how long can the American project last if elected officials from one of the major parties are making their political decisions based on fear of physical violence from their constituents?”

    Rosen’s question is extremely pertinent as we are closing in on being a year away from the 2024 general election, and the former president continues to ratchet up his dangerous rousing of rabble that creates the threat of violence that has been so effective for feckless members of Congress.

    Mediaite

  128. says

    More hogwash from Mike Johnson:

    You know, in Europe and in other places, they use vehicles to mow down crowds at parades. They’ve done that here in the United States. It’s not the weapon that’s the underlying problem. I believe we have to address the root problems of these things and mental health obviously, as in this case, is a big issue, and we’ve got to seriously address that as a society and as a government, and there’s lots of measures pending on that as well.

    Commentary:

    […] If Republicans wanted to fully fund a national mental health system available to everyone at low or no cost, that would be great! It wouldn’t end mass shootings, but it would be a wonderful thing.

    […] mass shooting entries go on much longer [than] cars-mowing-people-down entries.

    It’s safe to say that people are always going to kill other people. It is possible to force them to do it in less efficient ways. Our laws can say, “You can have cars or knives because they have uses other than killing people and are not actually the most effective way to kill large numbers of people at once, but you cannot have the guns that have no real uses other than killing people and can kill a large number of people within minutes.”

    Rebutting Republican talking points on guns is like banging your head against a wall, though. It’s easy to do but doesn’t accomplish much. Still, it’s worth noting Johnson’s style: The hackneyed talking points delivered so smoothly, the condescension oozing from every pore as he says just ridiculously false, stupid things. He truly is Jim Jordan in a less shouty package.

    Link

    That description of Johnson’s style is spot on.

  129. says

    Mike Johnson hates LGBTQ+ people. He hates them thoroughly. He has hated them for a long time.

    […] And where queer-hating Christians are concerned, Mike Johnson is top-notch. He cut his teeth as a legal advocate working for the anti-gay hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund. In the early aughts, ADF took the lead on mounting a legal battle against the freedom of same-sex couples to marry. Johnson memorialized all his truly heinous arguments and beliefs in a 2003 op-ed decrying the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision extending the right to privacy to persons engaging in gay sex. […]

    Within the op-ed, Johnson argued that states have public health reasons for proscribing same-sex relations, but the entire piece was undergirded by the moral superiority of heterosexuals.

    “States have always maintained the right to discourage the evils of sexual conduct outside marriage, and the state is right to discriminate between heterosexual and homosexual conduct since the latter cannot occur within the confines of marriage,” Johnson wrote.

    For Johnson, gay sex was evil and immoral because same-sex couples couldn’t legally marry, nor should they ever be able to.

    But let’s forget marriage equality for a second: Johnson really, really wanted gay sex to remain criminalized.

    […] [video to Mike Johnson condemning "same-sex live-in lovers"]

    Isn’t that nice, in the sense of Christians reigning supreme and everyone else just being here for them to claim moral superiority over?

    Link

    I would reword one phrase: “the moral superiority of heterosexuals” should be “the moral superiority of white, heterosexual Christian men.” That’s what Mike Johnson is really saying.

  130. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine develops drone for mine detection, works ‘four times faster than a human’

    Ukraine has unveiled the ST1 drone, specifically designed for mine detection, which can detect mines four times faster than a human, according to

    , the Vice Prime Minister for Innovation, Education, Science, and Technology Development, and Minister of Digital Transformation.

    The drone is equipped with an inductive coil* and sensors that enable it to navigate around obstacles at low altitudes. Additionally, it features a powerful microcomputer that processes data and transmits it to sappers in real-time…

    used as metal detector

  131. says

    With newly gerrymandered district maps, drawn by Republican legislators, democracy in North Carolina just took some dramatic steps backward.

    North Carolina tends to be seen as a “red” state, which is understandable given that in the 11 presidential elections, the state has backed the Republican ticket 10 times. But just below the surface, the Tar Heel State is more competitive than a casual glance might suggest.

    President Joe Biden, for example, only lost North Carolina by a single percentage point in 2020. The state also has a popular two-term Democratic governor and a popular two-term Democratic state attorney general. North Carolina has 14 congressional districts, and that delegation is divided evenly between seven Democrats and seven Republicans.

    At least, that’s the current delegation. The New York Times reported on the map that’s replacing the status quo.

    Republicans in North Carolina approved a heavily gerrymandered congressional map on Wednesday that is likely to knock out about half of the Democrats representing the state in the House of Representatives. It could result in as much as an 11-3 advantage for Republicans.

    In other words, in a state where Republicans will receive roughly half of the congressional votes, they’ve also created a map that will ensure that GOP congressional representatives receive roughly 71% — or more likely, closer to 79% — of the power.

    How brazen is the party’s gerrymandering? The News & Observer in Raleigh spoke to professor Jonathan Mattingly, a scholar at Duke who researched the map, who concluded that the new district lines “essentially negate the need to have elections for the U.S. House of Representatives.”

    Kareem Crayton, the senior director for voting and representation at the Brennan Center for Justice, told the Times the map was “among the most radical examples of gerrymandering that we’ve seen certainly this cycle.”

    Gov. Roy Cooper would love to veto the maps, but in North Carolina, governors lack the authority to reject redistricting plans.

    For democracy, this is the latest in a series of brutal setbacks. […]

    Democrats hope to reclaim the majority in the U.S. House after next year’s elections, and with the chamber narrowly divided, every seat matters. With North Carolina Republicans effectively defeating four or five incumbent Democrats now — not at the ballot box, but through redrawing district lines in an abusive way — it’s now even more likely that the House will have a far-right majority in 2025.

    What’s more, congressional races aren’t the only ones that matter here. […] the new maps will likely ensure that, in all but the most Democratic of election years, Republicans will maintain the three-fifths supermajorities they’d need to override gubernatorial vetoes and to place constitutional amendments on the ballot.

  132. says

    Followup to comment 166.

    […] A combination of state and federal factors make it very unlikely that the map will be taken down by the 2024 election. At the state level, North Carolina has seen the elbowing out of the (currently Democratic) governor from the process, a lack of any opportunity for direct citizen action and a newly extremist right-wing North Carolina Supreme Court. At the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court has closed the courthouse door to partisan gerrymandering cases.

    After the 2022 election, when the North Carolina Supreme Court was re-stocked with right-wing justices, the court rubber-stamped the legislature’s partisan gerrymander, reversing a mere months-old decision by its more liberal predecessor. With no recourse for a partisan gerrymandering claim available there, that leaves a racial dilution claim under the Voting Rights Act, which can still be adjudicated at the federal level.

    VRA cases, though, are long and intensive, centering on granular dives into the districts’ political and racial makeup, voting histories and community interests. They usually involve lengthy trials with pages and pages of expert testimony, model maps and lots of procedural stops and starts. It’s also not clear that the North Carolina map — while an unmistakable partisan gerrymander — is also a racial one (though some Democratic lawmakers and advocates are already planning to prove that it is).

    On top of those complications, the Supreme Court has made it all but impossible to gauge when is too close to an upcoming election to change election and voting laws.

    “Given the erratic Supreme Court decisions on when to press pause before elections, I don’t think there’s likely time to bring a case and get new maps before 2024, even if there are solid cases to be brought,” Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School and a former Biden White House senior policy advisor for democracy and voting rights, told TPM. […]

    Link

    And now the Republicans in North Carolina are absolutely giddy. They have succeeded. Democracy is not relevant, Republican power is entrenched.

  133. says

    Happy Halloween from Moscow, decadent candy-stuffed Western scum!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/it-is-vladimir-putins-favorite-time

    Boo! GRRRRRR! Werewolf noises!

    Did I scare you, effete fuck-donkeys of Wonkette? Yes, it is I, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, in this werewolf mask. I am told this frightens Americans. More than a Russian military cyber unit with lots of dummy social media accounts, even!

    You did not poop the pants? Ah, well. Vladimir is glad to see you anyway. We have not spoken in, how you say, quite a spell? But it is fall, and Halloween, Vladimir’s favorite time of year, when everything starts dying before bitterly cold Moscow winter sets in.

    You are perhaps saying, Vladimir Vladimirovich, why a werewolf? Why not a mummy, or a vampire, or the Frankenstein, which you already slightly resemble? You have same square face and cold, dead eyes. You are also an abomination driven by the basest instincts of man, stitched together from corpses and reanimated in a secret laboratory and let loose to terrorize the countryside! You also love cold weather!

    To which I say, yes to all except the corpse part. Is no truth to rumor all over news this week that Vladimir — what is expression? — Croaked? Kicked the bucket? Shuffled off mortal coil? As you can see, I am alive and well and strong like Russian bear, not dead like Yevgeny Prigozhin. Poor Yevgeny! Imagine you are cruising innocently through country you fomented rebellion against when BAM! Your plane just falls from sky. This is why your TSA does not allow you to carry hand grenades onto airplanes. Yevgeny liked to live dangerously, like Austin Powers or early Soviet cosmonauts or fly that hangs around spider webs.

    Nor is it true Vladimir was replaced by body double. For starters, who could fake this? No, no one else has or could possibly even duplicate Vladimir’s regimen of chopping wood, eating nothing but caviar blini at every meal, and ordering imprisonment and poisoning of enemies. What can I say? It keeps me young.

    No, Vladimir is one-hundred-percent original parts, like luxury Volga straight off glorious Soviet production line. Ask your President Bush about Volgas! Secret Service was not happy that day, but I tell them do not worry, Vladimir is excellent driver and tires almost never spontaneously fall off anymore.

    Ah, but I meander. Where was I? Oh, yes, the werewolf. A werewolf is most majestic and vicious of American animals. Perhaps not quite as majestic and vicious as Russian tundra lynx, but they don’t sell Russian tundra lynx costumes at Moscow Party City. I have ordered manager of Moscow Party City sent to Siberian labor camp until he can explain himself. Meanwhile, many Halloween parties to attend this weekend.

    You are surprised? Why? I love Halloween, and I love Halloween parties. Annual Kremlin party has big costume contest, which I have won now 17 years in a row. Even years I haven’t worn a costume. I have streak to keep going.

    And competition is always fierce. Last year Defence Minister Shoigu went as orphaned Ukrainian child. He wore torn clothes and no shoes and hobbled around party asking everyone if they could spare any food or a warm place to sleep with no holes in roof, and he cried pitiably when everyone said no. Very funny stuff! For extra realism, I ordered him kicked to Moscow sidewalk and then adopted by Maria Llova-Belova. As you know, Vladimir loves jokes.

    Usually, anyway. Except for year of wacky candy incident, when I mixed up regular candy with polonium-infused candy FSB was supposed to plant in your American grocery stores and Walmarts. Ha ha, they still laugh about it in FSB offices. And then I have them all shot.

    I even invite your president Donald Trump to Halloween party. Every year I tell him, “Donald, you must come to Kremlin for Halloween. There is much candy, and apple bobbing, and at end of night we all gather around fire pit full of Ossetian refugees and everyone guesses nuclear launch codes for one Western nation. You could tell us if we guess America’s, and if we don’t, what they are. Then we will watch ‘Charlie Brown Halloween Special’ together. Will be good time!”

    But no, he tells me you Americans are too busy persecuting him for simple crime of election interference and sedition and stealing classified documents and leaving classified documents in unlocked pool house and lying to federal government about it and conspiracy to commit fraud and dodging taxes and yelling about it to media and wearing so much bronzer he looks like a set of baby shoes. So it would “look bad” if he flew to Moscow and it would “look bad” if he requested asylum and it would “look bad” if he was so grateful to Vladimir when I grant it that he offered up Ivanka as a concubine and it would “look bad” if—

    Sorry, sorry, imperialist Western turnips of Wonkette! Is very stressful time, is all. What with special military operation in Ukraine dragging on and glorious Russian economy collapsing and “Abbott Elementary” premiere date being pushed back to 2024 because of writers’ strike. If it was Russian show I would simply tell writers if they do not like writing in comfortable Moscow studio, perhaps they would like it better if they relocated to abandoned oil rig in Barents Sea to juice creativity? I am fairly sure David Zaslav would have tried this if he had thought of it.

    Well. Happy Halloween to you, debased Wonkette cum mops! I hope you have a fun and restful and polonium-laced-candy-free holiday!

  134. says

    Divers and aerial crews will search the Androscoggin River near where shooting suspect Robert Card’s vehicle was found, authorities said Friday morning. Law enforcement officers have recovered the cellphone of Card, 40, according to officials, and they are still looking for him after the country’s deadliest mass killing this year. At least 18 people were killed and 13 injured Wednesday night in Lewiston, a town of about 38,000, when a shooter targeted a bowling alley and a bar. Three people were in critical condition Thursday night. Police blared warnings and surrounded a residence in the town of Bowdoin, where Card’s family is from, according to residents, before departing. […]

    Washington Post link

  135. says

    Just how fucking awful is Representative Mike Johnson? Here’s another detail:

    Rep. Mike Johnson, the newly elected House speaker, has repeatedly flirted with what’s known as the “great replacement theory,” the idea that Democrats are scheming to supplant American voters with immigrants. The Louisiana Republican’s views show how fringe conspiracy theories have gone mainstream in the Republican Party at the highest levels of power.

    “This is the plan of our friends on this side — to turn all the illegals into voters,” Johnson said at a congressional hearing in May 2022, gesturing at Democrats. “That’s why the border’s open.”

    The “open borders” trope is a lie, and while a few municipalities allow voting for noncitizens in local elections, in no sense do national Democrats have any such “plan” for “all the illegals.” As far as I can determine, no House speaker in recent memory has been quite as reckless and incendiary with this kind of language.

    Johnson employs it regularly. He reiterated the claim in an interview this year with the right-wing outlet Newsmax, accusing President Biden of “intentionally” encouraging undocumented migration to “turn all these illegals into voters for their side.” On numerous other occasions, he has made similar charges, even declaring that Democrats’ express goal is the “destruction of our country at the expense of our own people.” […]

    Washington Post link

  136. Reginald Selkirk says

    Study Finds Cyclists Are Better People Than Drivers

    Well, the comments section on this one should be fun: Cyclists are more interested in the common good than drivers are, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found. The study used four factors to define the common good — political participation, social participation, neighborhood solidarity and neighborly helpfulness. And as it turns out, drivers are less interested in all four of those things…

  137. says

    CNN is reporting that Fani Willis has offered up to six more defendents plea offers in the GA rico case over the 2020 Election Three of the six were named: Robert Cheeley, Mike Roman, and Misty Hampton. Roman and Hampton are still in talks with prosecutors. Cheeley turned down a plea deal which makes him a certified idiot. There are also names of people NOT offered any plea deals: Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, and John Eastman.

    (CNN) – Fulton County prosecutors have discussed potential plea deals with at least six additional co-defendants charged alongside Donald Trump for attempting to subvert the 2020 presidential election, multiple sources tell CNN.

    The strategy by District Attorney Fani Willis’ office is clear: get as many co-defendants as possible to flip on the former president, leaving Trump and perhaps a few close allies on the hot seat.

    Pro-Trump lawyer Robert Cheeley is among those who have been offered a plea deal in the Georgia case but, according to his lawyer, turned it down.

    “To say that we are currently in discussions with the DA’s office would be an inaccurate representation of what is going on. They made us an offer some time ago and we declined it,” Cheeley’s attorney Richard Rice said.

    I’m no lawyer, but this seems like a very stupid move on Cheeley’s part. Last time I checked, plea offers get WORSE as time goes on. They are not like fine wines that age well. Look at what Powell got. No felonies whatsover. Even Chesbro had to plead to a felony, and correct me if I amwrong, doesn’t a felony conviction mean you lose your law license?

    I had assumed that Misty Hampton would have gone for a plea deal earlier. She’s a foot soldier committing crimes for Trump, so she is a small potato with limited resources with a higher up who rolled on her (That would be Hill I’m talking about). I’m betting Hampton has to plead to a felony or two. And she might get some jail time.

    As for Mike Roman, he was involved with the fake electors, and they already had the goods on him. At least I think they have the goods on Roman. I know that several of the fake electors were cooperating with prosecutors to avoid any charges.

    So the big question is who are those other three unnamed defendents with potential plea offers?

    We can eliminate three other names from the list though. According to CNN, Willis is not interested in offering plea deals to some of the highest on this food chain. And three names were definitely mentioned as not receiving any offers for now.

    First up is Rudy Giuliani. Considering he is vile and the RICO Master, I can see why Willis is not interested in helping him out. Eastman is an arrogant prick, and I cannot see him accepting any plea deal. Therefore, why would Willis want to offer him anything? And finally, there is Mark Meadows, The Little Finger of Trumpland.

    So far, Meadows has skated in every legal situation so far. The DOJ didn’t go after him for blowing off a congressional subpoena. He hasn’t been indicted by Jack Smith, and if ABC News is to be believed, Smith has granted Meadows immunity to testifty. Maybe Willis has seen enough of Meadows bullshit and wants to send him to prison?

    So who is left, besides Trump?

    There is Jeffrey Clark, Ray Smith, David Shafer, Shawn Still, “Pastor” Lee, Harrison Floyd, Cathy Latham, and finally Trevian Kutti.
    – Considering he is a big fish, I will speculate that Clark will NOT get a plea offer.
    – I believe David Shafer was screaming that he was just following orders from Trump, so maybe?
    – Ray Smith and Shawn Still are both rotten characters and not little fish, so probably a “NO.”
    – This leaves Segregationist Lady Cathy Latham. If Hampton is trying to roll, I bet Latham is “YES.” Those two are thick as thieves.
    – This leaves the “Harass and threaten Ruby Freeman” Crew of Pastor Lee, Harrison Floyd, and Trevian Kutti. If Latham is a firm “Yes” to an offer of a plea deal, that leaves only two spots open. Therefore, one of those in this crew is SOL for now.

    That’s all the gossip for now.

    Link

  138. Jean says

    Lynna @#154 and #156

    Looking in more details at the link I gave, there is a distinction between mass shooting and mass murder where the former is 4 victims or more (not including the shooter) killed or not while mass murder is 4 victims or more killed (again not including the shooter). Both are useful but they get mixed up all the time and the former seems more useful when talking about gun violence because multiple surviving victims is still a big deal (certainly for the victims themselves) and should prompt action from the elected officials (which won’t happen because of God given rights… Assholes!)

  139. says

    Thanks, Jean, for that additional information.

    In other news, Matt Gaetz got a taste of power. Now he’s primed to terrorize the Republican conference with it

    The 24-hour show of comity among House Republicans following the election of Democratic dreamboat Speaker Mike Johnson is officially over. That’s bad news for the country, but even worse news for House Republicans.

    The declaration of war came from none other than Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, […] high off his successful takedown of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, decided his first order of business was to apparently out a Republican colleague as potentially gay in retaliation for accusing Gaetz of being a “foolish liar” amid the GOP speaker debacle.

    “There might not be another member of Congress who lives a lie every day more than [Rep.] Jason Smith,” Gaetz said, returning fire Thursday evening on his “Firebrand” podcast. “And Jason Smith knows exactly what I’m talking about and, by the way, so does almost every member of the House Republican caucus.” [video at the link]

    Welp, that momentary kumbaya ceasefire among House Republicans sure was blissful.

    Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, who has a history of taking anti-LGBTQ+ stances and casting anti-gay votes, chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

    The predictability of Gaetz taking petty personal swipes at his colleagues shouldn’t obscure the significance of what the House GOP’s nihilist-in-chief just did: He fired a warning shot at every single one of his Republican colleagues. Gaetz’s message? Don’t cross me, or I will come for you in whatever way maximizes your personal pain and jeopardizes your political future.

    Power doesn’t always corrupt, but it absolutely reveals. Matt Gaetz plans to terrorize his conference, and he’s just getting started. […]

  140. says

    The National Rifle Association is not in great financial shape, following years of scandals involving allegations of wild spending and a wee bit of alleged tax fraud by Wayne LaPierre, financial mismanagement, and a civil case brought by New York AG Letitia James accusing members of the board of helping NRA leaders to enrich themselves with donor cash.

    Those public-spirited busybodies at the watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) got their hands on an audit of the NRA’s 2021-22 finances, showing that, as the CREW crew states in the report’s lede:

    The National Rifle Association is bleeding money and members […] Last year, the organization saw its worst fundraising totals in more than a decade, fueled by member dues that have fallen to lows not seen since the early 2000s. The fall has been so swift that the gun organization’s income from its members has been halved in just six years, while its legal fees have remained stratospheric.

    [Good news.]

    The report includes this helpful chart showing the growth trend in NRA membership dues and other revenue since 2010. Traditionally, the NRA saw growth during Democratic presidencies, since the libs are always coming for your guns, but membership tended to level off or drop when a perceived “safe” Republican was in office.

    [revenue chart at the link]

    Part of that normal trend shows here: A revenue bulge that grows larger and larger during the Obama administration, since that monster wanted to ban freedom, especially after the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012 and LaPierre’s infamous “only a good guy with a gun” speech. Unlike with other Republican presidents, though, the bulge carries over into the early Trump years, when armed paranoia was actively promoted as national policy.

    But whoo-golly, look at the dropoff since 2018, even after the 2020 election (if you believe such things) of another Democratic president. Not even the fear of Joe Biden coming for your guns was enough to offset the steady loss of confidence in the group’s scandal-plagued leadership. […]

    So yeah, while the NRA is still bringing in a lot of money — more than $213 million in 2022, of which $83,274,950 came from member dues — that’s a drop of 52 percent in total revenues from the group’s richest year, 2016, and almost 59 percent less in member dues than in that flush election year. (All numbers adjusted for inflation.)

    How bad is a tad over $83 million in member dues? Pretty darn bad!

    A CREW analysis of NRA dues going back to 2004 could not find a single year where dues ever went below $100 million, in inflation-adjusted terms.

    And then there’s all those damn lawsuits since 2019, including paying out a “nearly $12.4 million settlement payment” in a fight with the NRA’s former public relations firm:

    In all, the NRA spent nearly $43.8 million on administrative “legal, audit, and taxes,” which is down from the nearly $46.8 million it spent in 2021, but still far higher than the $4.3 million it spent on the same costs in 2017, when its overall revenue was more than $319 million.

    If you’re into percentages, CREW points out that back in 2017, just one percent of NRA revenues went to cover legal costs. By 2021 and 2022, legal expenses made up 20 percent of the group’s revenues, which, oops, had fallen more than 40 percent in the same period.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/report-nra-bleeding-funds-members

  141. says

    […] The fractious House Republican majority cannot agree on how to fund the government. It cannot agree on whether to fund the government. It cannot agree on the scope of federal spending. It cannot even agree on whether it should do anything to govern the nation. But it can agree, it seems, to hand the reins of power to someone who showed no hesitation when asked to help overturn American democracy.

    […] The far-right extremism and open contempt for democracy that mark much of modern Republicanism are not aberrations. It’s not a spell that might fade with time. It is the Republican Party of 2023, and it will be the Republican Party of 2024. And while Trump may, for either legal or political reasons, eventually leave the scene, there’s no reason to think the Republican Party will revert to a state in which the Mike Johnsons are back on the sidelines.

    NYT link

  142. says

    NBC News:

    An IDF spokesperson said Israel is ‘increasing the ground operation’ in Gaza and that bombing has already ‘increased,’ after reports of widespread sirens and explosions.

    NBC News:

    The U.S. launched strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria on Thursday in retaliation for a series of drone attacks on American military bases in the region, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

  143. says

    Housing policy that is good news, as reported by Bloomberg:

    As cities across the US continue to struggle with climbing office vacancies and unaffordable rents, the White House on Friday released a new plan to help property owners convert empty offices into apartment units. By opening up significant financing resources to office-to-residential conversions, as well as by providing technical assistance, the Biden administration aims to make it easier for these challenging rehab projects to advance — with an eye toward both sustainability and affordability.

  144. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lawyers barred from practising law in Canada for 3 years after having Manitoba judge followed in 2021

    Two Alberta lawyers charged with attempting to obstruct justice have been banned from practising law anywhere in Canada for three years as part of a plea deal with Manitoba prosecutors that saw their charges stayed.

    Randal Jay Cameron and John Carpay were also charged with intimidation of a justice system participant after they hired a private investigator to follow the Manitoba judge who presided over their case challenging COVID-19 restrictions in 2021…

    Court heard Carpay hired a private investigation firm to tail officials, including Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin and then premier Brian Pallister, in addition to Joyal.

    Cameron, whose professional corporation had been retained by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, had proposed using any proof of public officials breaching public health rules in an affidavit to potentially support an argument that the orders were arbitrary, court heard…

  145. says

    Ukraine Update: New GOP House leadership puts Ukraine aid at risk

    Most of the world’s attention this afternoon is on Israel and events in the Gaza Strip. While U.S. media has given only slender coverage to events in Ukraine for more than a year, even European outlets and correspondents who had been dedicated to covering Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion have now turned cameras and pens toward events in the Middle East.

    All of that is completely understandable. But if Ukrainian officials understand why the media focus has moved elsewhere, so does Vladimir Putin.

    That the Russian attack on Avdiivka began just two days after the Hamas attack on Israel threw the region into turmoil is likely no coincidence. Putin understands that there is only so much attention—and funding—to go around. With Elon Musk mocking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and claiming that people in occupied territories “want to be part of Russia,” Russia supporters in the United States and elsewhere are feeling like this is their time.

    One of the most important battles of this war is about to be fought in the U.S. Congress.

    After meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel a week ago, President Joe Biden asked Congress for $106 billion in aid split between Ukraine, Israel, and additional security along the U.S. southern border.

    There’s absolutely no doubt that in tying together spending for Israel and Ukraine, Biden sought to prevent the two wars from being played against each other. The southern border funding was likely a sweetener to make the bill more attractive to Republicans—and harder for them to vote down.

    Unfortunately, that proposal landed not just in the vacuum of the House speaker fight, but came one month after Republicans in the House stepped up efforts to block additional funding for Ukraine. That included stripping $300 million for future Ukraine support out of the Defense Appropriations Bill.

    There’s no doubt that a substantial pro-Russian faction exists among Republicans in the House. The Washington Post reports that opposing funding for Ukraine has spread from a handful to a potential majority of Republicans in the House. Just the fact that Democrats stand against Putin and Biden supports Ukraine is enough to make many Republicans cheer for Moscow.

    Republican efforts to block Ukraine funding came right before the chaos of the speaker fight, and with Rep. Mike Johnson emerging from the pack as their new House leader, his position is key to what happens next.

    […] As Politico reports, Johnson “has consistently opposed more funding to assist Ukraine,” and he promised further opposition in his bid for speaker. Other than voting to allow the U.S. to implement lend-lease arrangements, he’s been against every effort to assist Ukraine in this conflict.

    Russian propagandists were certainly cheering his victory: [Tweet and video at the link: Meanwhile in Russia: state TV is celebrating Mike Johnson’s speakership, because of his anti-Ukrainian stance. They also appreciated Virginia Foxx yelling “Shut up!” to a reporter. This too is in total alignment with Russian values and interests.]

    However, after taking the speaker’s chair and holding meetings with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and, separately, with President Biden on Thursday, Johnson made remarks that seemed much more pro-Ukraine than in the past.

    “[W]e can’t allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there, and it would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan,” Johnson said in an interview on Fox News. “We have these concerns. We’re not going to abandon them.”

    These were welcome statements, and it seemed for the moment as if McConnell and Biden had been successful in getting across to Johnson the linkage between all these conflicts, as well as their importance to preventing even greater wars in the future. On Thursday morning, NBC News reported there was “new hope for Ukraine aid in Washington,” with Johnson’s words generating “fresh optimism” across Capitol Hill.

    But by Thursday afternoon, The New York Times was again reporting that Ukraine aid was in doubt, with Johnson insisting that any aid to Ukraine be split from assistance to Israel, and with the Israel legislation voted on first. This makes it likely that assistance to Ukraine could be delayed for some time or that the level of aid offered could be significantly reduced. Though Senate Minority Leader McConnell has spoken up in approval of Biden’s $106 billion proposal, there is also an effort on the Senate side, led by Ted Cruz, J.D. Vance, and Mike Lee to sunder any connection between aid to both Israel and Ukraine. Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott went as far as saying that “Americans should be disgusted” by Biden’s effort to place funding for both conflicts in one package.

    Many Republicans appear to be aiming for a separate vote on assistance to Israel, with no guarantee on either a timeline or an amount of assistance for Ukraine. If Biden’s proposal came up for a vote, it would pass. There are still enough Republicans in both the House and Senate who support Ukraine that, along with Democratic votes, the package would sail through both chambers. However, it seems clear that Johnson has no intention of allowing a joint package to move forward.

    Republicans want to force Democrats to vote on aid to Israel while withholding even the promise of assistance to Ukraine. That puts Democrats in the difficult position of either being called out for refusing to assist Israel, or voting for the package and seeing Ukraine assistance sidelined indefinitely. Some Republicans, like Rep. Bob Goode, are already suggesting a rule that Ukraine assistance can’t come up for a floor vote unless it first secures support from a majority of Republicans.

    The United States is in a position where roughly three-quarters of members in both the House and Senate support additional assistance to Ukraine … but it’s not enough. Because the one-quarter that opposes that assistance has control over the House. That’s what so-called moderate Republicans did when they handed the gavel to Johnson.

    There’s still a chance that it won’t go down this way given Johnson’s change of tone, as well as the efforts of Republicans in the House who strongly support Ukraine and are encouraging Johnson to move ahead with a package for both conflicts, even if they are not rolled into one bill.

    But it’s going to be a close thing, and anyone saying they can predict the outcome at this point was probably also busy last week predicting that Rep. Tom Emmer was going to be the next speaker. (Or that Johnson wouldn’t be.)

    Meanwhile, the actual war continues with Russia making a huge number of assaults at Avdiivka, as well as attempting to retake ground it recently lost near Verbove in the south. The Ukrainian General Staff reports 45 Russian assaults split between these two areas on Friday, all of them reportedly repelled.

    These attacks seem to be the smaller squad-level variety that Wagner mercenaries pioneered during their takeover of Bakhmut. Unlike earlier this month when the attacks at Avdiivka began with coordinated armor, infantry, artillery, and air support, none of these attacks seemed designed to create serious movement in the lines.

    […] Though it’s gotten little attention lately, Ukraine’s advance in this area moved their area of control over 1 kilometer, along a large section of the front line in this area. Their control also seems to have solidified, with Ukraine holding more trenches west of Verbove and eliminating Russian forces from a series of tree lines west of that town.

    Most of the attention in the past weeks has focused on Russia’s attempts to capture Avdiivka, but Ukraine is seeing renewed success in the south. Whether this is tied to the recent destruction of helicopters by newly arrived ATACMS long-range missiles at Berdyansk isn’t clear—but it can’t hurt.
    ——————————-
    The greatly reduced number of Russian losses is a good indication that, for the moment at least, Russia’s attempted assaults seem to have fizzled out. Ukraine is reporting no activity around Kupyansk on in the area from Svatove to Kreminna. All those efforts to “push Ukraine back across the Oskil River” have apparently gone quiet. [List of Russian losses at the link]

  146. says

    Followup to comment 181.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I am counting on the fact that Biden and team have far more experience in governing and back room deal making than the crazy caucus does—the GOP has at time begrudingly admitted that “Sleepy Joe” ran circles around McCarthy.

    Yes, Johnson has the gavel, but a razor-thin majority and a divided caucus. Fingers crossed that Biden will continue to outplay them.
    —————————
    I hope enough Democrats and old time Rethugs can push through the aid. And even if they can, there is greater worry about the next time.

    Meanwhile, Europe is failing in its drive to increase 155mm shell production as they pledged.

  147. says

    Moms for Liberty chair who pushed for removal of an Anne Frank book went on network that attacks “seditious Jews”

    A Moms for Liberty chair who previously fought a library for having an adaption of Anne Frank’s diary recently promoted her organization on an antisemitic network that warns viewers about “seditious Jews,” “Jewish tyrants,” and how Jewish people “have forsaken God.” She clearly had a positive effect on network leader Rick Wiles, who told her that he wants to “do everything I can to help you” and said that Moms for Liberty is doing “great work.”

    Jen Pippin is the chair of the Moms for Liberty chapter in Indian River County, Florida. Pippin was recently awarded the group’s “Abigail Adams Award for Public Policy” and the group wrote that she “stepped up to launch one of the first two Moms for Liberty chapters in the country.” The post celebrating Pippin’s award said she “has not only had an enormous impact on her community, she has served at the state level on committees to shape policies and guidelines for school libraries and teachers.”

    Pippin made national news after she forced a high school to remove Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation from its library because it allegedly had “sexually explicit” content and was “not a true adaptation of the Holocaust.”

    Media Matters has documented Moms for Liberty’s extremism as the group has gained influence among Republican politicians and in the right-wing media. Moms for Liberty also promoted rhetoric from Adolf Hitler to argue for its mission.

    Pippin appeared on TruNews on September 12 to promote Moms for Liberty and its mission. Evidence about the nature of the network is ample and readily available.

    TruNews is led by Rick Wiles, a virulent antisemite who has said of Jewish people: “That’s the way the Jews work. They are deceivers, they plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda. … You have been taken over by a Jewish cabal.” He has also claimed that “the American people are being oppressed by Jewish tyrants” and the impeachment of Donald Trump was a “Jew coup.”

    TruNews posts antisemitic content on its website such as:
    – “Jew Coup: Seditious Jews Orchestrating Trump Impeachment Lynching”;
    – “TruNews looks at Jewish contribution to legalized abortion … We Delve Deeper Into The Origins Of Abortion And How It Has Become America’s Jewish Holocaust”; and
    – “God has not forsaken the Jews. The Jews, however, have forsaken God.”

    National outlets have documented TruNews’ virulent antisemitism, including after the Trump White House gave the site press credentials and Donald Trump Jr. granted an interview to the outlet.

    Pippin appeared in a 30-plus-minute segment on TruNews with Wiles. The two promoted the work of Moms for Liberty and Wiles repeatedly praised and offered to help the organization. After complaining about allegedly inappropriate material in schools, Wiles asked Pippin: “I think, Jennifer, we should sue the school board. You want some help, you want some help in suing the school board?” He added:

    RICK WILES (HOST): I will do everything I can to help you. I will help raise money. I will help organize. I will help you get a lawsuit against the school board. I think you should sue the school board and the sheriff’s office for the violation of constitutional rights in a meeting. These people have to be taught a lesson. They must be taught a lesson. And I will help you. The remaining minutes we got, tell us about Moms for Liberty, because your group just suddenly appeared in the last couple of years and now you’re listed as domestic terrorists.

    He continued later: “We are on your side. We will help Moms for Liberty in anything that you need. … If you [in the audience] are interested in Moms for Liberty, go to their website, MomsforLiberty.org and become a member. Start a chapter. Do something. Help them and support them because they’re doing a great work and the leftist communists are smearing them and trying to take them down.”

    Pippin replied at the conclusion of the segment: “Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.”

  148. says

    Numerous verified X accounts are claiming that the Maine mass shootings were a “false flag”

    […] Following the deadly October 25 mass shootings in Maine, numerous verified X accounts with tens of thousands of followers claimed that they were a “false flag” or planned by the government.

    Rumble host and anti-Muslim bigot Laura Loomer, who seems to have the direct attention of former President Donald Trump, raised doubts about the shooting on her formerly banned X account, which has more than 630,000 followers […]

    more at the link.

  149. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 181

    Just the fact that Democrats stand against Putin and Biden supports Ukraine is enough to make many Republicans cheer for Moscow.

    Oh, the Republicans have been admiring the Putin’s cruelty and tyranny long before Biden was president.

  150. Reginald Selkirk says

    A pro-Russian former Ukrainian lawmaker who was lined up to be Putin’s puppet leader in Kyiv was shot in Crimea

    A former Ukrainian lawmaker who was tipped to be in line to lead a puppet government in Ukraine for Russian President Vladimir Putin was shot in Crimea.

    Oleg Tsaryov, 53, a pro-Russia politician, was shot twice and is in a critical condition following an apparent assassination attempt near his home, according to a Telegram post on his account…

  151. birgerjohansson says

    Fun fact
    The MAGA hats are already turning on the new speaker.
    Because he displayed empathy when he watched the video of George Floyd getting murdered.
    And he admitted that structural racism exists.
    https://youtu.be/vraJmRu_t1o

  152. says

    Followup to Reginald @186.

    The body was discovered only after the [recycling] center’s owner called local police to say that 40-year-old Army reservist Robert Card was familiar with the property, urging investigators to check the trailers in an overflow parking lot across the street from the main facility. Just before 8 p.m. Friday, a state police tactical team discovered the body in an unlocked trailer. Card had died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    Law enforcement separately found a letter addressed to a loved one with the passcode to Card’s phone and bank account numbers. Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck did not describe it as an “explicit” suicide note but added that its “tone and tenor is that the individual is not going to be around.”

    […] the shooter had indicated to family members, who have cooperated extensively with law enforcement, that he was experiencing some kind of paranoia, […]

    Washington Post link

  153. says

    FACT FOCUS: A baseless claim about Putin’s health came from an unreliable Telegram account

    An explosive claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin had suffered a heart attack spread across the globe this week, amplified by news outlets and social media users.

    The news didn’t come from the Kremlin, which dismissed it as a “hoax,” nor verified reporting in Russia. It came from a single anonymous account on the messaging service Telegram that provided no evidence, yet was viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

    Misinformation researchers warn the account isn’t credible and has spread baseless claims about Putin’s health in the past. But the case highlights the dangers of seeking information on the loosely moderated messaging platform that has surged in popularity amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

    Here is a closer look at the facts.

    CLAIM: Russian President Vladimir Putin suffered a serious heart attack on Sunday and needed to be resuscitated.

    THE FACTS: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday called the claim “just another hoax,” telling reporters that “everything is fine.”

    Photos released by Russian media that day showed Putin at a meeting at the Kremlin. On Wednesday, he was seen on state television directing a simulated nuclear strike drill via video call.

    The denial came after news of the supposed cardiac arrest was picked up earlier that day by multiple online and television news outlets around the world, including in Australia, the United Kingdom and India. It was also widely shared across social media.

    The source of all of these reports was a popular Telegram account, General SVR, which claims to have insider information from the Kremlin. But misinformation researchers warn it is not reliable.

    […] The Telegram post in Russian has nevertheless been viewed more than 400,000 times and has been forwarded to other channels around 22,000 times, according to data from Telegram analysis tool TGStat. The channel also gained at least 5,000 subscribers between Monday and Tuesday.

    […] Telegram, already a popular messaging service in Eastern Europe, has become especially prominent in Russia amid the war in Ukraine because Western social media has been restricted and state media is not a reliable source of information, experts said.

    […] But the platform, which is only lightly moderated, has been a hub of misinformation around the conflict. […]

  154. Reginald Selkirk says

    Norway’s Mowinckel becomes first skier to be disqualified under new rule banning fluorinated wax

    Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel left the finish area of the season-opening women’s World Cup race in tears Saturday after becoming the first skier to be disqualified for a forbidden type of wax on her skis…

    A rule in effect this season forbids the use of fluorinated wax in the pre-race preparation of skis.

    FIS banned the substance from its competitions after years of debate about the potential harm fluorinated wax can cause to health and the environment…

  155. Reginald Selkirk says

    Wisconsin judge rules that GOP-controlled Senate’s vote to fire top elections official had no effect

    A vote by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate last month to fire the state’s nonpartisan top elections official had no legal effect, and lawmakers are barred from ousting her while a lawsuit plays out, a Dane County judge ruled on Friday…

    Senate Republicans voted in September to fire Wolfe, despite objections from Democrats and the Legislature’s own nonpartisan attorneys, who said the Senate didn’t have the authority to vote at that time…

  156. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Of no actual use.’ Ohio election officials debunk Mike Lindell election devices

    Ohio election officials criticized Mike Lindell’s Wi-Fi monitoring devices for polling places, saying state election rules make them unnecessary…

    Most recently, Lindell announced the creation of wireless monitoring devices, called WMDs, which can be brought into a polling station or attached to a drone. The goal: to detect Wi-Fi usage, and what Lindell said would be possible election fraud, using voting machines connected to the internet.

    “While those machines could be brought in, they would be of no actual use,” said Alex Linser, Deputy Director of Elections at the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Ohio law dictates voting machines cannot be connected to internet networks, he said.

    “The voting machines that Hamilton County uses, that every Ohio county uses, undergoes third party testing to make sure it is not capable of connecting to the internet.”

    Mary Cianciolo, a press secretary for the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, echoed this sentiment. “Even if a polling location does have Wi-Fi, for an example a church or a school, Ohio’s voting machines don’t have the ability to connect to internet. That means these devices would have no purpose at the local BOEs.” …

  157. says

    Reginald @197, I think Mike Lindell is just desperate to make some money. That’s why he’s selling those devices. [shrug]

    In other news: Are Trump rallies dwindling because he’s busy or because they’re stale as week-old white bread?

    […] what were Hitler’s views on low-flow toilets, the ongoing scourge of CFC-free hair sprays, and the brutal depredations of whale-murdering windmills, anyway? Answer: He had none! Which may explain why he failed to take Stalingrad and no one in the Republican Party wants to name an airport after him. Well, not yet, anyway.

    According to a new analysis by Daily Beast political reporter Jake Lahut, Trump’s rallies, once a raging rash on the buttocks of our body politic, have cooled down in the run-up to the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses—for a variety of reasons.

    Taken as a whole, though, it makes one wonder how much Trump’s—and his most ardent fans’—hearts are still in this.

    In 2016, Trump held 323 rallies between the primary and general elections. In 2020, he managed to squeeze in almost 70 rallies between the Nov. 3 election and the COVID-era restart on June 20, sometimes going as high as three or four rallies in a single day.

    Now, Lahut writes, Trump’s rally schedule has shrunk significantly, to about two events per month.

    It’s a reduction due to a confluence of factors, ranging from his legal peril and crowded court schedule to the cost savings and messaging upside of keeping the MAGA festivals to a minimum. His events are increasingly billed as speeches instead of rallies, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 8 at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah, Florida on the night of the third GOP debate, marking only his seventh major venue rally this year.

    Of course, to some degree Lahut is making an apples-to-oranges comparison. Trump was still a political upstart during the 2016 cycle, when he held his 323 rallies. And the campaign season was in full swing in 2020 when he hosted his 70 superspreader loser-paloozas. (To be fair, only one of those rallies killed Herman Cain, but you know how the liberal media loves to exaggerate.)

    Also, he’s so far ahead of the rest of the GOP pack, he probably thinks he can phone it in, just like he did his pr*sidency. And he’s not entirely wrong.

    “President Trump has all the momentum in the GOP primary,” one Trump confederate told The Daily Beast. “He is dominating in fundraising, polling, and energy on the ground. The rallies serve as an opportunity to fire up his base, but aren’t necessary as he turns toward the general election.”

    That said, at this time during the 2015 presidential cycle, he was laying the groundwork for the 2016 election with a flurry of appearances. And now, as the Iowa caucuses approach, he’s showing up in court for civil trials he’s not required to attend (and which he’s already lost), whining that his legal problems are keeping him from campaigning in Iowa, and then taking the next day off to play golf. And it’s fair to ask whether Trump will be able to maintain any kind of consistent rally schedule when he actually is forced to show up in court for his criminal trials.

    ABC News has also noticed Trump’s comparatively blasé approach to his 2024 “Make America Release Me From Prison” campaign, noting in a Sept. 8 story that he’s been far less eager to campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire than his competitors.

    But 10 months into his third presidential bid, Trump has held only 12 campaign events in Iowa and just five in New Hampshire, while some of his top GOP primary challengers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, have been swarming the two key states with dozens of campaign events over the last few months.

    In total, Trump has held 42 campaign events across the country, a stark contrast from DeSantis and Ramaswamy each having hosted well over 100 campaign events so far this year.

    His month-long hiatus since the Iowa State Fair this year is also notable compared to his non-stop campaign in the later half of August 2015 during his first presidential bid, when he was hitting rally after rally, jumping from New Hampshire to Alabama to Iowa to South Carolina to Massachusetts in just two weeks.

    […] Occam’s razor would suggest another reason Trump’s rallies are dwindling in number: Every time he goes onstage, it’s like the last days of David Koresh, if Koresh had thought one of the signs of the apocalypse was the sudden proliferation of soggy McDonald’s wrappers […]

    As Lahut recounts in his piece, during a recent rally in Derry, New Hampshire, Trump talked about traveling the country and seeing “containers of McDonald’s where the container is six months old, cars have been riding on it, water has been raining on it.”

    “It’s disgusting, what happened,” Trump continued. “It will be a part of my election—you know, it’s been a part of my election platform.”

    When that pressing kitchen table issue somehow failed to engender wild applause, Trump went back to an old standby:

    “Does anybody want to hear ‘The Snake?’” Trump said to moderate applause—referring to the Al Wilson soul tune, which Trump delivers in his own version of beat poetry—after some attendees began to make their way for the exits. (Beating traffic is almost as revered a pastime at Trump rallies compared to sporting a MAGA hat.)

    According to Lahut, when Trump asked, “Who hasn’t heard ‘The Snake’?” one person clapped, prompting Trump to declare, “Okay, good, like 45 percent of the room.” He then reread the poem that all but one of them had apparently already heard ad nauseam.

    And if that’s not his 2024 campaign in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.

  158. says

    Ukraine Update: Avdiivka might be new to you, but we’re now in its ninth battle

    The Battle of Avdiivka, or what historians may eventually call “The Ninth Battle of Avdiivka” began on October 6th, 2023 when Russia attempted to encircle the city starting with a fierce bombardment, followed by a massive ground advance on October 10th.

    This is the “ninth battle” because, believe it or not, fighting over Avdiivka dates back to 2014.

    This is a brief rundown of major spikes in fighting in this region.
    – April 2014, Russian Separatist Forces (reportedly assisted by Spetznaz and Regular Russian Army forces) capture Avdiivka. (First Battle of Avdiivka)
    – July 2014, Ukrainian Forces counterattack, recapturing Avdiivka. (Second Battle of Avdiivka)
    – March 2016, Ukrainian forces begin constructing a series of fortifications at and around Avdiivka’s Industrial zone. Russian Separatist forces attack, attempting to disrupt the construction and/or recapture the city, but do not succeed. (Third Battle of Avdiivka).
    – January/Feb 2017: Russian Separatists launch another major attack at the Industrial Zone but fail to dislodge Ukrainian forces. Much of the city of Avdiivka is leveled at this time. Ukraine continues to bolster its line of fortifications. (Fourth Battle of Avdiivka).
    – April 2022: Russian forces launch a bombardment and intensified assaults on Avdiivka as part of the Donbas Offensive. Russia makes some marginal gains along the main highway but fail to capture the city. (Fifth Battle of Adviivka)
    – June-October 2022: Russian forces begin attempt to encircle Avdiivka, intensifying assaults north and south of the city. Russian forces make some gains but fail to complete the encirclement. (Sixth Battle of Adviivka).
    – January 2023: Russian forces launch a major attack toward Vodyane village, southwest of Avdiivka, as part of an ongoing encirclement attempt—the attack ends catastrophically. (Seventh Battle of Avdiivka)
    – March-May 2023: Russian forces launch a series of mechanized assaults south of Avdiivka in an attempt to encircle the city. The attacks are repulsed. (Eighth Battle of Adviivka).
    – October 2023 to Present: Russian forces renew their attempt to encircle Avdiivka with major assaults north and south of city. (Ninth Battle of Adviivka)

    Since Ukraine liberated Avdiivka from Separatist forces in July 2014 in the Second Battle of Avdiivka, this is arguably the seventh significant attempt by Russian forces to capture the city. I say “arguably” because numbering these “battles” simply refers to the spikes in the intensity of the fighting. Low-level conflict and skirmishes have persisted.

    No matter how you count things, Avdiivka is one of the longest-running contested cities in Ukraine.

    Which raises the question—why does Russia care so much about it?

    Avdiivka is a small town located just northwest of the major city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. [map at the link]

    The city had a pre-war population of over 30,000, but having been on the front lines of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict for nearly a decade, fewer than 2,000 residents still live in the blasted ruins today.

    Avdiivka’s importance lies not in the city itself, which has neither key natural resources nor any particular surviving industry, but rather its location, in the suburbs of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk.

    Donetsk is a key logistical hub for Russia, featuring the only direct rail land route from Russia to its occupied territories into southern Ukraine and Crimea. The only alternative rail route is across the Kerch Bridge through Crimea. We’ve talked about the importance of Tokmak in cutting Russia’s rail-based logistics. Donetsk is like the head of the beast. It cuts just about everything. [map at the link]

    Avdiivka is just 10-15 kilometers from this key rail hub. A small Ukrainian advance in this direction would have an outsized effect on Russian logistics, making their presence an existential threat to Russian commanders. [map at the link]

    Russian reliance on rail logistics is well known and has been much discussed in the past. Thus for Russia to sustain a significant advance, it was, and remains necessary to secure major rail lines along its route of advance. There are two westward rail lines from Donetsk—one heading west toward central Ukraine, which runs near Avdiivka, and the one you see in orange two images up, which supplies southern Ukraine.

    Avdiivka also sits alongside the H20 highway that runs north from Donetsk to Konstantynivka and Bakhmut. A Russian-occupied Avdiivka would open up the possibilities of sweeping behind Ukrainian defenses around Bakhmut, or punching westward along the rail lines to threaten Dnipro and Ukraine’s central plains. [map at the link]

    Of course, all of this assumes Russia would have the ability to advance at anything more than a glacial pace.

    Russia took over nine months to advance 14 kilometers at Bakhmut. Having captured the city, Russia has shown no indication that it can continue advancing from the city. [map at the link]

    Russia has been attempting to encircle Avdiivka since July 2022. It has been suffering crippling casualties in an attempt to advance in distances of a few hundred meters. Even should Russia succeed in capturing Avdiivka, Ukraine has had over a year to prepare a secondary line of defense in the towns lying just beyond Avdiivka. There is little reason to believe that Avdiivka poses any kind of major tactical obstacle that, if captured, would open the floodgates to a major Russian advance.

    A quick look at the topography of Avdiivka shows that the northern and southern battlefield terrain that Ukraine is currently defending doesn’t particularly differ from the terrain directly behind Avdiivka—just small rolling hills, where defensive value comes from Ukraine’s prepared defensive positions, rather than towering hills and deep valleys. [map at the link]

    There is very little reason to think that Russia will find an advance against the prepared defenses behind Avdiivka any easier to attack than the present attacks north and south of the town.

    After multiple sustained and large-scale assaults, Russia has made almost no progress south of Avdiivka. North of the town, it has only advanced about 1 kilometer along a narrow salient, including the capture of the now famous “slag heap,” a highly polluted mound of mining waste. [maps at the link]

    The biggest problem for Russia may not so much be the rate of progress, as the massive cost it has paid for these limited gains. The scale of the Russian disaster at Avdiivka is difficult to express. OSINT accounts tracking losses have tabulated immense losses using satellite imagery.

    These two threads detail around 60 desroyed Russian armored vehicles in just two small areas Avdiivka: [Threads and images at the link: Let’s read a short thread about the recent Russian advance near Avdiivka. […] Just facts about destroyed or abandoned Russian armor. And only in one place – near the slagheap.]

    Ukrainian General Staff have claimed over 400 armored vehicle losses for Russia in the Avdiivka front, while open source intelligence analysts have visually confirmed 109. OSINT tends to lag behind actual losses, thus more losses are likely to be confirmed in the coming days.

    During Russia’s two catastrophic attempts to capture Vuhledar in November and January 2023, Ukraine claimed the destruction of 130 armored vehicles. Of these, 88 were eventually confirmed by OSINT. Avdiivka is making those losses seem modest in comparison. Russian personnel losses in this fighting are undoubtedly in the thousands, and may amount to the loss of an entire brigade’s worth of troops or more (which is around 2,000 troops).

    What is even more shocking is that the bulk of these losses have been inflicted by a single Ukrainian brigade—the 110th Mechanized, positioned north of Avdiivka. [map at the link]

    The 110th Mechanized is not one of Ukraine’s premier brigades. It is predominantly equipped with a mix of older Soviet armored vehicles (BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicles), 1970s-era lightly protected Danish armored personnel carriers (YPR-765s, based on the M113), and some surplus Czech artillery (DANA self-propelled guns). It is not known to have any tanks, not even older Soviet models, relying on artillery and anti-tank guided missiles to counter Russian armor.

    What it does have are around 2,000 well-trained, experienced, and highly motivated regular army infantrymen and heavily fortified and mined defensive lines, and that has been enough to counter Russia’s three brigades of the 2nd Combined Arms Army, each with a few thousand soldiers and over a hundred armored vehicles.

    Despite being outnumbered 3-to-1, their only reinforcements was a single battalion from the elite 47th Mechanized Brigade. Although the superior anti-armor abilities of the 47th Mechanized’s M2 Bradleys have presumably been an important factor, 500 additional soldiers and a few dozen armored vehicles should hardly have been adequate to equalize the odds.

    Nonetheless, the 110th Mechanized has succeeded in holding the Russian advance to a mere single kilometer since the start of the assault, while claiming the destruction an estimated 200 armored vehicles. […]

    When Russia takes losses of this magnitude to advance 1 kilometer, it is clear that it is incapable of making sweeping strategic advances in the hundreds of kilometers.

    That being said, one question that might be asked is—do these losses matter?

    Some argue that despite horrific losses, Russian forces keep replacing their losses. Their army doesn’t appear to be collapsing, and continues to fight valiantly against Ukrainian counterattacks. Thus, by this line of reasoning, Russia’s big losses don’t matter. Yet we know they do matter by simply looking at the quality of the equipment they are now fielding.

    This is not to say that signs are uniformly bad for Russia. As a proportion of confirmed tank losses in Ukraine, Russian T-90 losses have been higher in the past few weeks than at any point since March 2022. This suggests that Russia may actually be producing more of their last-generation T-90 tanks as claimed.

    However, if Russia has a ready supply of modern equipment, it would not tax its logistics unnecessarily by deploying 40- or 50-year-old tanks and armored vehicles. The logistical demands of older vehicles can be less efficient, requiring different types of ammunition and spare parts. There’s simply no reason to send inferior equipment unless one is desperate.

    This is a 1960s-era T-62s with netting masquerading as “drone armor.” [image at the link]

    Here are even older 1950s-era BTR-50 Armored personnel carriers: [tweet and images at the link]

    These 1940s D-1 Howitzers was spotted in use around Avdiivka in October, 2023, indicating that Russia is also running low on towed artillery: [Tweet and images at the link]

    Russia wouldn’t deploy these ancient vehicles and guns unless they were out of the good stuff.

    For example, the WWII-era D-1 Howitzer is unwieldy and inaccurate. It has less than half the range of modern Russian 152mm howitzers, with inferior range finding and optics. Even compared to the similarly towed 2A65 Msta-B 152mm howitzer, it is inferior in virtually every way—and still requires the same 152mm artillery shells.

    That Russia is resorting to fielding older and older equipment is strongly indicative of real desperation, and their massive losses around Avdiivka will certainly compound the difficulties they have fielding capable equipment. This will limit Russia’s future offensive—and defensive—strength.

    Over the next weeks and months, it is not inconceivable that Russia could inch its way forward, meter by blood meter over the bodies of its soldiers and the wreckage of its armored forces. Russia may yet capture Avdiivka. But given its inability to make grander strategic moves, Avdiivka’s value to Russia appears to primarily be political, rather than strategic in nature.

    Putin made specific references to Avdiivka during a televised speeches on Oct. 15, widely seen as a signal that Russia intended to trumpet the capture of Avdiivka as a great and significant victory. “[The Russians’] apparent disregard for high casualty rates may reflect political priorities in Moscow, with Putin believed to be personally eager for proof that his invasion force is still capable of advancing,” wrote think tank analyst Olivia Yanchik at the Atlantic Council. “The strategically significant but relatively small town of Avdiivka is seen by many as a realistic objective for the depleted Russian military ahead of the coming winter season.”

    As Russia replaces its destroyed equipment with weapons and vehicles from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Ukraine can leverage its qualitative equipment advantages to accelerate its battle of attrition. The question becomes whether Ukraine’s Avdiivka defenders can hold—and continue to bleed the Russian forces at a future tenth, eleventh, or twelfth Avdiivka battle, and beyond.

  159. says

    […] Wow. Russia has religious nuts almost as crazy as the U.S.

    We’re talking about people driven by Orthodox fundamentalism but with a twist. Their main working theory for the war in Ukraine is that Putin, who was fooled into starting the “Sacred Military Operation”, is clearing the land of Novorossiya (i.e. Eastern Ukraine) to allow further resettlement of Jews into this area. Thus, Putin is making a mistake and is playing into the Jews’ hands. But they still love and pray for Putin who is “not without a sin” but has the tools to bring Russia to glory. Any accusations of war crimes and murder, they brush off to the side, explaining that Russia is sick and needs cleansing and killings as a way to find indulgence and repentance.

    [Tweet and video at the link: Had a chance to watch a Russian journalist’s interview with a prominent Russian singer Viktoria Tsyganova and her husband Vadim.

    These two reflect the shift to insanity among Russians I couldn’t foresee. We’re talking about people driven by Orthodox fundamentalism […] They cite the same exact sources as Putin does (Ushakov, Ilyin) when talking about Russian nationalism and the superiority of the Russian nation.

    Seemingly normal people on the outside, are just batshit crazy in reality. Scary stuff.]] […]

    Link

  160. says

    Israel on Saturday said it is recalling its diplomats from Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke out against Israel during a pro-Palestinian rally. […]

    “Israel has been openly committing war crimes for 22 days, but the Western leaders cannot even call on Israel for a cease-fire, let alone react to it,” Erdogan told the crowd, who waved Palestinian flags, according to the Associated Press (AP).

    “We will tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal,” he added. “We are making preparations for this. We will declare Israel a war criminal.”

    Turkey does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization and has offered to be a negotiator between the group and Israel in order to release hostages.

    Israel responded Saturday by saying it would reassess its diplomatic relations with Turkey and withdraw its diplomats from the country.

    “Given the grave statements coming from Turkey, I have ordered the return of diplomatic representatives there in order to conduct a reevaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. […]

    Link

  161. says

    Israeli troops push into Gaza for war’s ‘second stage,’ Netanyahu says.

    Washington Post link

    Israel has embarked on the “second stage” of its war in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, as ground troops pressed into the besieged territory and a near total communications blackout cut Palestinian residents off from the rest of the world.

    “We have one main goal: to beat the enemy and guarantee our existence,” Netanyahu said in a televised address, alongside Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

    Armored units were reportedly operating at multiple locations following a withering air assault, including 150 heavy munition strikes targeting Hamas’s tunnel network that lighted the night sky and shook the ground as far away as Egypt.

    Amid the barrage, Gazans — cut off from each other and the outside by a continuing phone and internet blackout — frantically searched for safety and news of their loved ones. The attacks overnight and Saturday killed 377, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas […]

  162. Reginald Selkirk says

    Louisiana and Amtrak agree to revive train service between New Orleans, Baton Rouge

    Louisiana is a step closer to connecting its capital city to New Orleans via a revived train line.

    Gov.

    has signed a service development agreement that will advance the return of intercity passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, about an hour-long commute.

    The agreement, signed Thursday, is a breakthrough for a project that has been in the works since 2008.

    “All eight years I’ve been governor, I’ve been working to reestablish rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans,” Edwards told WBRZ-TV.

    According to the agreement, passenger service could start as early as 2027. ..

    Steve Goodman could not be reached for comment.

  163. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia names new air force head, replacing rebellion-tied general

    Russia has named a replacement for the former head of the country’s Aerospace Forces, who was dismissed in the wake of this summer’s brief rebellion against the military establishment, according to information on the Defense Ministry website.

    The website on Friday showed Col. Gen. Viktor Afzalov, who reportedly had been acting head of the air force since mid-August, was given the full post. He replaces Gen. Sergei Surovikin…

  164. StevoR says

    A mission to study the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant, with a breif rocket flight is on today albiet – USA time so likely tomorrow in (Aussie) time :

    “Lifting off from New Mexico Sunday at 11:35 p.m. ET (0335 GMT on Oct. 30), the INFUSE mission (short for “Integral Field Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Experiment”) is expected to collect information about the remnant for a few minutes from a height of 150 miles (240 km).”

    Source : https://www.space.com/nasa-infuse-sounding-rocket-supernova-remnant-preview

  165. wzrd1 says

    Lead was found in WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches, which are sold nationally at multiple retailers, including Sam’s Club, Amazon and Dollar Tree, the FDA said.

    “Parents and caregivers of toddlers and young children who may have consumed WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches should contact their child’s healthcare provider about getting a blood test,” the FDA said.

    https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/29/us/fda-wanabana-fruit-recall-lead/index.html

    Nearly as bad as the Chinese melamine in the milk scandal that put tens of thousands of children on dialysis for life.

  166. Reginald Selkirk says

    Elon Musk Still Hasn’t Deleted X Post Falsely Showing 26 US Military Bases Around Iran: ‘Oh the Irany,’ He Writes

    Elon Musk tweeted a graphic early Saturday of a map showing Iran surrounded by over two dozen American flags, each of which meant to represent a U.S. military base. The graphic read, “Iran wants war. Look how close they put their country to our military bases.” Musk added, “Oh the Irany.”

    The problem with Musk’s post? It’s misinformation, the sharing of which has plagued his X social media platform since his takeover in October 2022. The map shows 26 U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan, none of which exist — as pointed out by BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh and others online…

  167. Reginald Selkirk says

    Inside the Clinic Where Being a Discredited Doctor Is a Plus

    A new “freedom-based” Florida clinic aimed at patients suspicious of the mainstream medical establishment and staffed by doctors who were fired or disciplined for controversial stances on COVID-19, has drawn hundreds of patients in its first month, according to its owners.

    The clinic, called We The People Health and Wellness Center, opened its doors in Venice, Florida on Sept. 7. In the last six weeks, 350 people have signed up to its subscription-model, which bypasses insurance companies, co-owner Vic Mellor told The Daily Beast…

    Of course they would build it in Florida.

  168. says

    Reginald @214, seems like that ought to be against the law.

    Reginald @213, Elon Musk is backing up his ignorance with a ton of money. It’s a dangerous situation.

  169. says

    Republican officials are undermining citizen-led ballot initiatives that seek to protect abortion rights. Ohio is the latest state to get protections on the November ballot.

    […] sweeping changes to reproductive health care access in America are affecting people, institutions and governments.

    In Ohio, a GOP-controlled agency rewrote language for a ballot measure that would guarantee access to abortion in the state constitution, swapping in new wording that opponents said was designed to confuse voters. In Missouri, a Republican official launched legal challenges that have stalled a citizen-led effort to pass a law guaranteeing reproductive health care. And in Michigan, a Republican lawmaker went one step further, introducing a bill that would undo a popular new access law.

    In the year since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Gallup polling shows that a majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal, with two-thirds of those polled saying it should be permitted in the first trimester.

    To protect access to reproductive care, coalitions across the country are organizing ballot initiatives — a democratic tool that enables proposed amendments to become state law with enough petition signatures.

    But abortion-rights advocates say their opponents are increasingly matching their efforts with an assortment of legal and political challenges that have stalled or even blocked their ability to introduce initiatives.

    To do so, anti-abortion lawmakers and others are using strategies from the playbook of conservatives who sought to restrict access to voting, even trying to change the rules for citizen-led initiatives. […]

    Sarah Walker, policy and legal advocacy director at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, said that efforts to make ballot initiatives harder to pass are not new, but they’ve intensified after several wins for abortion advocates. Last year, voters in red states such as Kentucky and Kansas rejected amendments that were intended to restrict the procedure.

    […] In at least one state, Missouri, voters in 2024 may face dueling ballot initiatives: one in favor of abortion access and another restricting the procedure.

    In Ohio, abortion-rights advocates said their opponents, including the secretary of state, were willing to upend the entire ballot initiative process to keep a reproductive freedom amendment off the ballot. Voters didn’t back the proposed changes, and the amendment, which would make abortion legal in some cases, is on the November ballot.

    […] Many of the same Republican lawmakers who supported laws limiting access to the ballot box also seek to prevent citizen-led drives to enshrine reproductive health care into state constitutions, advocates say.

    Walker said efforts to undermine ballot initiatives have played out in three ways: Officials have proposed laws changing the process, made legal challenges at each step of an initiative’s process or tried to make enacting the initiative more burdensome once it’s passed.

    Officials in at least four states, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Missouri, have used such tactics. […]

    More at the link.

  170. says

    While U.S. church attendance has dropped, prosperity gospel has risen—with a brutal take on poverty

    […] “I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the Earth today, he wouldn’t be riding a donkey,” Duplantis said in the 2018 video. “He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel, flying all over the world.” Granted, his ministry already owned three planes, but what’s one more? [video at the link]

    The Harvard Divinity School defines the so-called “prosperity gospel” as follows:

    The Prosperity Gospel (PG) is a fast-growing theologically conservative movement frequently associated with Pentecostalism, evangelicalism, and charismatic Christianity that emphasizes believers’ abilities to transcend poverty and/or illness through devotion and positive confession.

    The PG is popular among impoverished communities, where at best it is considered to offer the poor a means of imagining and reaching for better lives (at times accompanied by sound financial advice), and at worst is criticized as predatory and manipulative, particularly when churches or pastors require heavy tithing. Members of the socioeconomic elite may also be drawn to PG messages, which affirm the religious and spiritual legitimacy of wealth accumulation and reinforce a worldview in which financial success is an indicator of moral soundness.”

    Overall, fewer believers are attending church. […] 40 million Americans have stopped attending church in the past 25 years. […]

    emphasis on financial success among American Protestant believers has spurred more of them to embrace what writer Elle Hardy described in The New Republic on Monday as “a new antisocial strain of the prosperity gospel … making its way into pulpits and breeding new hostility toward the least fortunate Americans.”

    Hardy wrote:

    Chief among the new doctrines is the idea that God rewards “seeding”—that is, the “sowing” of financial donations to churches, or favored online preachers—with a material harvest in return. […]

    Hardy cited a recent study conducted by Lifeway Research, an evangelical research firm, that found that prosperity gospel beliefs are on the rise among American Protestant churchgoers.

    The study found that “52% of American Protestant churchgoers say their church teaches God will bless them if they give more money to their church and charities, with 24% strongly agreeing. This is up from 38% of churchgoers who agreed in a 2017 Lifeway Research study.”

    […] Hardy noted that prosperity gospel preachers have effectively used websites and social media, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when many churches were closed, to broadcast sermons and accept donations. She wrote:

    Proponents of the prosperity gospel, whether online or on television, can speak out from both sides of their mouths. For the well-heeled, success is an obvious reward of faith. […]

    […] while the prosperity gospel speaks to people in the most desperate economic straits, “it’s also being weaponized by some of the most right-wing elements in conservative religious circles as a form of retribution.” For example, she mentioned the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), which emerged from the Pentecostal-Charismatic tradition. This shadowy right-wing Christian sect is becoming increasingly influential within the Republican Party.

    Hardy, in an August 2022 article for The New Republic, wrote that NAR has “one clear goal in mind—ruling over the United States and, eventually, the world.” She wrote that the Republican with the closest ties to NAR is defeated Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano. Republicans who have some links to NAR include Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, former Donald Trump adviser Michael Flynn, convicted felon Roger Stone, and Turning Point USA leader Charlie Kirk.

    The Daily Beast wrote that new House Speaker Mike Johnson “has developed close relationships including with Christian Dominionist groups like the “7 Mountains” New Apostolic Reformation effort,” appearing on broadcasts in which he has been cited as one of their “favorites.” Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times that Johnson’s “reactionary economic agenda … calls for the evisceration of the social safety net.” And that means not just programs for the poor, but policies that support the middle class.

    In her latest story, Hardy cited an article outlining a new direction for prosperity theology written by conservative activist Jason Mattera titled “A Biblical View of Work and Welfare.” The gist of the article published on Liberty University’s Standing For Freedom website argued why Christians should support House Republicans’ push for more strenuous work requirements for welfare recipients. Mattera wrote:

    Christians are supposed to be at the tip of the spear in alleviating poverty, especially when it comes to other believers. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are under any obligation to help indolent bums. Such people are not entitled to our generosity. They have chosen the path of poverty.

    […] Mattera is advocating “a worldview that seeks to wage not a war against poverty but a war against the poor instead—those who have, in his view, shown insufficient faith.”

    […] Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the rise in support among churchgoers for the prosperity gospel coincides with Trump’s presidency and his MAGA cult’s growing dominance over the GOP. As a child, Trump attended church services with his family at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan where the pastor, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, was an advocate of the prosperity gospel.

    […] During his life, Trump has broken most of the Ten Commandments and committed nearly all of the Seven Deadly Sins, but he did find an appropriate White House spiritual adviser, the non-denominational Florida-based prosperity gospel preacher Paula White, who is linked to the NAR.

    In April 2016, White sold her followers “resurrection seeds” for $1,144—a price she claimed was set by God—that she promised to sow on their behalf, according to The Christian Post. White sent donors special prayer cloths that she said could possibly bring about special miracles […]

    White is now praying for a Trump victory in 2024. During a June visit to Israel following Trump’s first two criminal indictments, White told The Jerusalem Post, “I do believe that President Trump was God’s answer to so much prayer and fasting, and he was and is appointed [by God] to lead America.”

    […] In a September 2020 article for The Atlantic, McKay Coppins wrote that Trump mocked them in private conversations.

    Trump seemed to feel a kinship with prosperity preachers—often evincing a game-recognizes-game appreciation for their hustle. The former campaign adviser recalled showing his boss a YouTube video of the Israeli televangelist Benny Hinn performing “faith healings,” while Trump laughed at the spectacle and muttered, “Man, that’s some racket.” […]

    In (Michael) Cohen’s recent memoir, Disloyal, he recounts Trump returning from his 2011 meeting with the pastors who laid hands on him and sneering, “Can you believe that bullsh-t?” But if Trump found their rituals ridiculous, he followed their moneymaking ventures closely. “He was completely familiar with the business dealings of the leadership in many prosperity-gospel churches,” the adviser told me.

  171. says

    Mike Pence Ends Self-Loathing Quest To Lead The ‘Hang Mike Pence’ Party

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/mike-pence-ends-self-loathing-quest

    Once they build a gallows for you, that’s probably the end of your political career.

    Mike Pence finally caught up with the rest of us, including very small children, and realized that he’ll never be president. He officially ended his curious campaign for the White House on Saturday, when he delivered the news at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering in Las Vegas.

    “Traveling across the country over the past six months, I came here to say it’s become clear to me: This is not my time,” Pence told the audience, which seemed surprised — they might have forgotten he was running at all and thought he was about to sell them some Amway products. “So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today.”

    “We always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets,” Pence added, as he received multiple standing ovations. [They were just glad he was leaving?] [video at the link]

    So ends the sad career of one Michael Richard Pence. He claims the underdog mantle, but in (a normal) reality, the former vice president should’ve been a much stronger contender. Over the past 50 years, two vice presidents — Joe Biden and George H.W. Bush — went on to win the presidency. Former VPs Walter Mondale and Al Gore won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. […] This puts Pence in the less-than-esteemed company of fellow Hoosier Dan Quayle, whose 2000 presidential campaign also failed to catch fire.

    […] Republicans are full-on MAGA today and rejected Donald Trump’s loyal wingman primarily because of his single act of scruple — refusing to enable Trump’s coup attempt.

    It didn’t help that Trump was staging a comeback and hammered Pence as weak and a traitor to the only cause that matters to him — Trump himself. Pence would often speak about the glory days of the Trump/Pence administration, as if MAGA voters even care about policy, but Trump didn’t exactly provide glowing LinkedIn testimonials for his former running mate. The mad MAGA king vented back in August on social media:

    “I never said anything bad or even slightly inappropriate to Liddle’ Mike Pence. What I did do was make him, over the many people who wanted it, Vice President of the United States. Disloyalty in politics is alive and well. MAGA!!!”

    Pence’s polling average was a dismal 3.8 percent, below not just Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley but less than libertarian rapper Vivek Ramaswamy. Pence was selected for the 2016 ticket because of his social conservative, religious bigot bonafides so you’d think he’d at least have sparked some interest in Iowa, where Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz all prevailed, but he was polling in a distant sixth place. Iowa Republicans usually prefer Cotton Mather types to modern-day Caligulas, but Trump has exposed their baser instincts.

    The Pence campaign was also dead broke: He ended September with just $1.18 million in the bank, barely enough for a down payment on a modest house in Seattle. The campaign’s debt of $621,000 was more than half his cash on hand. Meanwhile, his former boss has $37.5 million in cash, far exceeding the candidates who delusionally consider themselves his rivals.

    The timing of Pence’s exit is appropriate, considering that younger Christian fascist Mike Johnson has risen from relative obscurity and is now speaker of the House, which unlike the vice presidency is a position with some actual power.

    If you’re inclined to believe that Pence was ever a moral man and not a dull prig, you’d find tragic irony in Pence surrendering his morality to Trump so that he could become his boot-licking toady who suffered the fate of every supervillain henchman.

    According to journalist Michael Lewis, Pence’s faustian bargain disgusted his wife, Karen, who refused to even kiss him after Trump’s victory was announced on election night 2016. She simply turned away and said, “You got what you wanted, Mike. Now leave me alone.”

    Unfortunately, the Republican primary electorate also left Pence alone, but that’s an upgrade from actively trying to kill him. [LOL]

  172. says

    Netanyahu warns of ‘long and difficult war’ as internet is partially restored in Gaza

    Washington Post link

    […] Internet connectivity was partially restored in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after the besieged enclave was plunged into a near total communications blackout following Israeli strikes on telecoms infrastructure. The disruption to communications in Gaza severely impacted humanitarian work, aid agencies said.

    […] Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari said Sunday that more troops had entered Gaza, as Hamas’s military arm said it was engaged in clashes with Israeli forces in the far north of the enclave.

    […] National security adviser Jake Sullivan said to CNN that President Biden plans to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday. Sullivan stressed that the Israeli government “should be taking every possible means available to them to distinguish between Hamas, terrorists who are legitimate military targets, and civilians who are not.”

    […] The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said that thousands of people broke into several of its warehouses and took aid and survival items.

    […] Israeli airstrikes began in the vicinity of al-Quds hospital in Gaza City around 4 p.m. local time Sunday, hours after the Israeli military issued an immediate evacuation warning. The hospital is at capacity, including the children’s intensive care unit, and more than 12,000 people are sheltering within its grounds. Palestinian Red Crescent Society spokesperson Abdalla Elayyan said that several departments have sustained structural damage and that patients are at risk of suffocation from heavy smoke.

    […] Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday denounced what he described as “baseless” claims that Iran was linked to Hamas’s attacks against Israel. “We do support Palestine. We have always had political, media and international support for Palestine. We have never denied this. This is the truth,” he said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” “But in relation to this operation called the Al-Aqsa Storm, there was no connection between Iran and this Hamas operation.” […]

  173. wzrd1 says

    @ 219, interesting take by Iran on their own involvement, given the imagery of their training manuals carried by deceased Hamas attackers that were recovered from their remains, along with video cameras showing them using those manuals preparing for the attack.

    If one could market bullshit, one would be wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice from all sides in any war. For, the first casualty in war is the truth.

  174. whheydt says

    There is a LOLCat up today that poses the question: Is QAnon Scientology for hillbillies?

  175. says

    wzrd1 @220, “The first casualty in war is the truth.” All too true.

    Related analysis from Josh Marshall:

    One thing that is obscured in the current chaos and killing in Israel/Palestine is that the current government is essentially paralyzed. Benjamin Netanyahu remains Prime Minister despite a catastrophic loss of public support tied to his failure to prevent the October 7th massacres in southern Israel. In theory there’s a government of national unity now in place, with a war cabinet made up of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and opposition leader Benny Gantz. But just how much control Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, is exercising is unclear.

    Meanwhile many government ministers have been close to invisible since the war started. Some basic news about government policy comes out in the US first and only then gets reported in Israel. I should add that from a distance and without a subtle grasp of the textures of Israeli politics it’s difficult for me to judge the extent of this invisibility. But I’ve asked this question of numerous Israelis whose opinion I trust and all seem to agree with this basic read of the situation.

    On top of this you have a Prime Minister who is thoroughly discredited but seems to be spending most of his time or at least focus on a) keeping out of jail (for his longstanding criminal prosecution) and b) lining up his defenses for an inevitable post-conflict inquiry into the failure to prevent the October 7th massacres. Needless to say that’s not what you want your head of government focusing on at a time like this. Over the last three weeks most of the key stakeholders in the Israeli national security sector have come forward with public apologies for their failure to prevent the October 7th attacks. But Netanyahu has conspicuously refused to do so.

    Overnight Netanyahu tweeted explicitly blaming the country’s intelligence chiefs for failing to prevent the October 7th massacres. The response to this was so overwhelming that Netanyahu was compelled to delete the tweet and publicly apologize. For context, this is on a par with Donald Trump apologizing. It doesn’t happen. He hastily affirmed his confidence in the intelligence chief who are, needless to say, in charge of running a significant part of the current war. In short, Netanyahu is distracted, discredited and clearly focused in large part on saving himself.

    With all that, how is he remaining in power? Quite simply, there’s no viable mechanism to remove him. In theory, all that is required is a defeat in vote of no confidence. But that’s all but impossible to imagine under current circumstances. First, his coalition is made up extremists who are extremely dedicated to him personally and to the agenda he made synonymous with his continuation in power. […] As long as his coalition holds they are not required to hold a new election for more than three years.

    In practice an election at this moment is all but unthinkable, simply as a practical matter. The government has actually delayed local municipal elections until the beginning of next year because of the difficulty of holding them in wartime. But a new government doesn’t require an election. A different agglomeration of 61 Knesset seats could bring one into being. But the current 61 seats are locked in for the reasons I described above.

    I should add one point. Some assume that the collapse of support for Netanyahu means a collapse of support for the current war policy. Far from it. At the outset of this war, many in the US predicted a rally-round-the-flag effect which would buoy Netanyahu’s political fortunes. What you had was what one might call a literal rally-round-the-flag effect, in which war spurred a spike or social solidarity and support for aggressive military action without any of that support accruing to the leader in power.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/paralysis-at-the-top

  176. says

    Another Republican congratulates U.S. military using photo of a foreign ship. It’s a pattern

    Republicans sure do love the military! Or at least say they do—right up to the point where they’re asked to take care of our veterans’ health and well-being. Then they’re suddenly like Donald Trump and his cavalcade of coffee boys. Toxic burn pit victims? Who? Never heard of them!

    In fact, Republicans’ fervid, leg-humping embrace of our military is so clearly performative, they can’t even bother to check whether it’s our military they’re praising or, say, Indonesia’s. But hey, what’s the difference, really? Republicans don’t want to pay for Indonesian soldiers’ health care, either. Or much of anyone else’s, for that matter. After all, in their Elysian, health care-free coup-topia, even Lord Fetus gets the shaft.

    In what is now a well-established pattern, Rep. Ryan Zinke—the scandal-tainted former Trump administration interior secretary and ex-Navy SEAL—shared a tweet on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that was clearly meant to wish the U.S. Navy a happy birthday. And it did. Sort of.

    Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), whose political identity is closely associated with his background as a Navy SEAL, recently extended birthday wishes to the U.S. Navy on social media — using what appears to be an image of an Indonesian warship.

    In a birthday message on X, formerly known as Twitter, a transparent silhouette of the word “NAVY” was overlaid on the ship. …

    In the graphic, the numbers “3” and “5” are visible on the ship as is an anti-aircraft radar tower. These and other elements of the photo seem to match a Canva image of a ship with the number “358,” an anti-aircraft radar tower and an Indonesian flag.

    Good God, how hard is it to find a photo of a U.S. Navy warship? Our annual military budget is now north of $800 billion. Surely we have a frigate or two […]

    RawStory recently consulted Lyle Goldstein, a visiting professor at Brown University who spent 20 years teaching at the U.S. Naval War College, and he agreed that that ain’t no American ship. “I think you are correct,” Goldstein told RawStory. “I’m not aware of any [U.S. Navy] ship class of that type. It looks to be a light frigate or corvette. In that category, we’ve developed the Littoral Combat Ship, which looks very different.”

    Needless to say, if a Democrat did this, Sean Hannity would dispatch a fleet of news helicopters worthy of “Apocalypse Now,” and Marjorie Taylor Greene would be all over him like a face-hugging alien on a sketchy batch of bathtub mescaline.

    This kind of thing is hardly new for Republicans, though. For instance, a 2020 digital ad run by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee exhorted Americans to “support our troops,” presumably by saluting the “stock photo of Russian-made fighter jets and Russian models dressed as soldiers” that were featured in the spot.

    Last April, GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea of Colorado ran a pro-military campaign ad that included footage of several planes flying in formation. Unfortunately for O’Dea, they were Russian planes. (He lost his Senate bid.)

    Meanwhile, exactly four years before Zinke wished our Navy a happy birthday with a pic of an Indonesian ship, GOP Rep. Brian Mast of Florida did the same thing, but with a photo of a Russian battlecruiser. Again, this is an easy mistake to avoid, but they keep making it. It would be like wishing Trump a happy birthday alongside a photo of Vladimir Putin. Which, to be fair, would make a lot more sense than what Republicans keep doing with these planes and ships.

    And just last month, GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, an Air Force veteran, celebrated the Air Force’s birthday with a photo of several Russian MiG-29s flying in formation. She later deleted the post after RawStory called her out on it.

    “This post was published without approval from me as the comms director, via a junior staffer,” Edie Heipel, Luna’s communications director, later told RawStory in an email. “Rep. Luna is a U.S. Air Force veteran who worked in airfield management and her husband is a Bronze Star/Purple Heart Combat Controller. To suggest she doesn’t know the difference between American and Russian fighter jets is asinine.”

    Well, okay, but it’s a pretty big mistake, and one American lawmakers would be wise to avoid—especially since there are so many Putin fanboys and girls in Congress these days. Including, it would appear, Luna herself. After all, she tweeted this nonsense just two days before making her little MiG-stake: [Tweet and Putin fanboy text at the link, “Yesterday at a classified briefing over Ukraine, it became clear that America is being asked to fund an indefinite conflict with unlimited resources. Enough is enough. To these and future requests, my colleagues and I say: NO.”]

    Whether these are honest mistakes or not, wholeheartedly supporting Putin’s ongoing war on democracy surely isn’t one. Luna may be able to tell the difference between a MiG-29 and an F-18, but that doesn’t mean she fully grasps the difference between an autocracy and a liberal democracy. And, sadly, she’s by no means alone these days.

  177. says

    Heh:

    […] the entire oeuvre of Whole Earth publications, every Catalog, all of Co-Evolution Quarterly and Soft-Tech, will be available online, free, at The Whole Earth Index.

    Yup, kit and caboodle. Everything from safely digging a privy to founding a space colony to the entirety of “Divine Right’s Journey,” all in one place for your edification and endless amusement. […]

    Link

    See also: https://wholeearth.info/?ref=longnow.org

  178. says

    The Feds Need To Find a Prison Just For Trump, Like Was Done For NAZI Bigwig Rudolf Hess!

    Enough is Enough! Trump just doxed NY Attorney General James!

    […] house Trump in a separate building in Leavenworth Federal Prison, located in Kansas.

    If putting Trump in a red state is a bad idea, I’m sure he could be placed in house arrest on one of the many military bases located in a deep blue state.

    NO other person in history of the United States or under the Articles of Confederation or when we were a British Colony has ever gotten away with only tiny slaps on the wrist for repeatedly threatening our court system.

    Miniscule fines mean nothing to a man with relatively endless access to money.

    […] We need to be prepared for all hell to break loose if Trump succeeds in making a joke out of our laws and court systems.

    […] The judges and prosecutors who are dealing with Trump need to stick their necks out and start locking Trump up for Contempt of Court. That means preparing a secure place to put the bastard in jail JUST LIKE THEY WOULD DO TO ANYONE ELSE if they repeated and willfully violated their restraining orders!

    […] If Trump doesn’t get locked up for repeatedly doing the same thing the average American may do in court — then why should anyone else be locked up for Contempt of Court? Or, else the courts are conceeding the Rule of Law doesn’t apply to the rich and famous!

    Rudolph Hess was the last significant NAZI standing. He lived to be 93. He had for many years the 600-cell Spandou prison all to himself. If Trump is sentenced to what would amount to life in prison because of his advanced age then we need to create a Spandou prison just for him! He’s way too dangerous to be housed with other prisoners.

    I can only hope that someone currently in the court system is quietly making plans to find a secure place to put Trump away both for the short term and the long term! Our Democracy and our way of life will depend on it!

  179. says

    Followup to comment 225.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    How about the Dry Tortugas. It’s 70 miles South of Key West, there’s a US Fort Jefferson that was used as a prison before. It’s too far for cellphone connections too.
    ————————————-
    I don’t know just what the fuss is all about with regards to where to incarcerate this POS.

    There’s Administrative Maximum Facility (USP Florence ADMAX), commonly known as ADX Florence or Supermax. It’s 23 hours a day in your cell and NO contact with other prisoners. So Shitface won’t have to worry about being beaten or raped. The place was tailor made for him.
    —————————–
    One would think (hope) that being convicted of crimes approaching the severity of sedition and espionage would disqualify one from receiving a Secret Service detail.

    The man tried to over throw the government and is a walking national security threat. Why should he given a Secret Service detail when he’s in the clink? He doesn’t deserve one. He should be treated exactly the same as all of the other convicted felons.
    ————————–
    Trump proposed to designate migrants as ‘enemy combatants’ and send them to Guantanamo.

    He seems to love the place, so it would be perfect place for him to be locked up there. No doubt he’ll claim the value has increased and insist on renaming it ‘Trump Tower Guantanamo’.
    —————————–
    Just for the sake of irony, putting him in cell at Fort Buchanan in Puerto Rico would really piss him off.
    ——————————-
    Unfortunately, US citizens are not allowed to be incarcerated in Guantanamo.
    ———————–
    So strip him of his citizenship! It’s something we should do regardless.
    —————————–
    Store trump at the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site. It has excellent security and maximum dose rate due to the stored materials there is mandated by law to be 15 mrem/year (equivalent to what you are subject to from cosmic rays at sea level) at the site. Total dose rates from all sources in the US are typically many times that. So no actual harm to him
    ——————————–
    He should be jailed on a military base with no one else anywhere near him, no contact with the outside world and no incoming mail. He should be guarded by MP’s that are changed often and are not allowed to communicate with him.
    ———————————
    The military jails are the best idea. There’d be relatively little in the way of adaptation involved and the location(s) are easily secured without a lot of fuss. The absolutely most important thing is that he not have his damned phone.
    ——————————–
    I wish for neither cruel nor unusual punishments. I just wish him sequestered away from real folks and totally without cellular or internet connection to all social media.
    ————————
    Manuel Noreiga was safely and humanely confined at FCI Miami for nearly twenty years in a specially modified suite that provided for isolation from other prisoners without descending into the barbarity of say, ADMAX Florence. No reason something similar couldn’t be provided for Trump, preferably not in Florida.
    ————————–
    Build him a bungalow on North Brother Island, on the grounds on the sanitarium where Typhoid Mary spent her years. In the East River, NYC. He can look to the west and see Manhattan, where he longed to be part of the elite society, who never accepted him. He can loom to the east, to Queens, he hoped to put behind him. Provide a skeleton crew to burn his hamburgers and clean his aluminum toilet. But no internet.
    ——————————
    Rudolf Hess may have ended his years as the only prisoner in Spandau, but he didn’t start out that way. He was imprisoned with Albert Speer, Admiral Erich Raeder, Admiral Carl Donitz, Balder von Shirach, Walther Funk and Konstantin von Neuwirth. Raeder and Donitz spent their years there arguing over whether Raeder’s battleships or Donitz’s submarines were responsible for losing the war. They both disliked the other non military prisoners. Hess was considered the laziest prisoner in Spandau.
    ——————————–
    We need to walk away from the idea of retribution and vengeance. That’s just not a good path to walk down; it does us far more damage than it does any ‘good’. Just park him someplace reasonably humane, and forget about him. We have way too much that needs to be done. We don’t need to waste any more time on him than the minimum needed to protect society.
    ———————————-
    Speaking on behalf of (what’s left of) The British Empire, we still have St Helena available. It worked just fine for Napoleon, and there is a dire need for employment on the island.
    ———————————-
    He’s hoping that his incarceration will rally his followers. Personally, I doubt it causes anything like a groundswell. He failed to pardon his first set of insurrectionists. His followers, no matter what they say, can’t fail in knowing that.
    ——————————–
    One thing I don’t understand is the whole Secret Service protection argument. I mean if the guy is in prison, isn’t there ‘protection’ there by default? Cant the corrections afficers serve as the security detail? This simply doesn’t make sense to me. Another question I have regarding his post presidential benefits is, if he is guilty of a felony and epecially one related to overthrowing the government, doesn’t that invalidate any government services and benefits he has? It certainly should.
    ———————————-
    The real issue is Trump’s getting away with tiny little monetary slaps, when his blatant violation of court rule really deserves jail time

  180. says

    Sunday Four-Play: Mike Johnson is a skilled (as in sociopathic) liar, and the GOP still loves Putin

    Remember “The Dating Game”? It was one of those shows that folks of a certain age would watch when we stayed home from school pretending to be bleeding from our eyeballs with hemorrhagic fever. Even as a kid it seemed odd to me that 1) anyone would go on a beach trip vacation alone with a stranger they’d just met, 2) they’d select their date, sight unseen, based on generic softball questions like “What’s your idea of a fun first date?” and 3) the woman would often look utterly stricken when she finally met her chosen suitor face to face, even though only one of the contestants ever turned out to be a serial killer. (That we know of, anyway.)

    I couldn’t help but think of that show after Republicans chose Rep. Mike Johnson to lead the House for however long we have left until the rapture, when God finally calls Randy Quaid and his Igloo cooler full of squirrel heads home. […[ Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Johnson were the three eager bachelors and Republicans somehow decided Johnson was their least creepy option.

    I can almost picture a beaming Johnson declaring how super hard-core he’s going to love America as soon as he gets it alone: “For our first date, I’d like to fly you to Idaho, force you into a covenant marriage, and stare at you for the rest of your natural life with the baleful mien of a Christmas elf who doesn’t like to make toys but does have an oddly specific penchant for unlicensed taxidermy.”

    In other words, Republicans chose this guy with precious little forethought or vetting, and it sorta feels like it could backfire. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But we already know he’s all-in on forced birth, The Big Lie, criminalizing gay sex, and handing Ukraine over to Vladimir Putin, so naturally he’ll be an ideal brand ambassador for the GOP heading into the 2024 election cycle.

    This week on the Sunday shows, Johnson’s name came up more than it ever has before. In addition, Maria Bartiromo of “Sunday Morning Futures” scored an exclusive interview with the man himself. I fully expected her to ask about Johnson’s plan for governing and whether it’s easier for a Christian dominionist weirdo and real-life “Handmaid’s Tale” character to keep a show on Fox News or be elected speaker of the House with the unanimous support of his party, but Johnson was too busy lying to get into too much detail on any of that.

    He did have some important stuff to say, though. Mostly lies, but what else is new?

    So let’s dive in, shall we?

    Normally if I were cueing up a Tim Kaine clip I’d warn you well in advance so you had time to order smelling salts and a home defibrillator on Amazon, but in this case he’s exactly what we need. He’s the man for the hour. […]

    So you didn’t want industrious, conscientious, and serious leaders like Tim Kaine, eh, America? Well, look what you got instead. Kaine may be as exciting as plain oatmeal, but at least he’s good for you. You went with the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, and they turned out to be actual bombs.

    Kaine joined “The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” to discuss the yang to his yin, new House Speaker Mike Johnson—who’s also pretty boring, but in that lawful evil way Republicans have always loved. [tweet and video at the link]

    CAPEHART: “Before we get into the nitty-gritty, just generally your view of Speaker Mike Johnson, what he represents?”

    KAINE: “Well, Jonathan, he is the most powerful Republican in America. He is the face of today’s GOP. He’s second in line to the president, and you outlined the positions he had, from election denial to climate science denial to anti-LGBTQ, anti-women’s reproductive rights. This is who the Republican Party is now, and remember, he received the vote of every member of the Republican caucus to be speaker. So that is obviously a very different vision than Virginians have, a very different vision than Senate Democrats or Republicans have, and so it sets up some challenging times ahead. But all that said, it’s better to have a speaker than not have a speaker, because we have important work to do for the American public.”

    It is better to have a speaker than not to have a speaker. That is true. And it was better for the Titanic to have a captain, if only to tell the string quartet where to set up. But Kaine makes some great points, and even more importantly, he offers a living, breathing contrast to today’s GOP […]

    If you want sober, steady, and policy-focused, you’d do well to elect more Democrats like Kaine. If you want to have a child every 10 months and, seconds after giving birth, be forced to shout, “Thank you, Jesus, may I have another?!” then Mike Johnson is definitely your guy.

    Moving on.

    As Kaine said, it is important to have a speaker. Who else is going to try to impeach Joe Biden for no reason? New Speaker Mike Johnson, newly hatched from the Republican-pol pod farm miles below Koch Industries, appeared on “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo to further gaslight a weary nation that’s had just about enough of this nonsense already.

    Bartiromo asked the question that’s at the top of every American’s mind: Are you going to keep the Biden impeachment charade going through the 2024 election? [Tweet and video at the link]

    BARTIROMO: “What about the investigations into the potential Biden family influence peddling, potential bribery? Are you going to allocate the financial resources and human capital needed to do an in-depth investigation? And will an impeachment inquiry turn into an official impeachment?”

    JOHNSON: “We’ll see, Maria. I worked on the committees of jurisdiction, and Judiciary is one of those. I think our chairmen have done an exceptional job, you’ve spoken to all of them. Jamie Comer and Jim Jordan and Jason Smith, on Oversight and Judiciary and Ways and Means. They’ve continued those investigations. Even while we were going through the tumult of the speaker’s race, they were still working methodically through that. I’m encouraging that. I think we have a constitutional responsibility to follow this truth where it leads. We’re the rule-of-law team. We don’t use this for political partisan games like the Democrats have done and did against Donald Trump twice. [OMFG] We are going to follow the law and follow the Constitution, and you and I have a suspicion of where that may lead, but we’re going to let the evidence speak for itself, and I look forward to rolling that out over the coming days and weeks and letting the American people see exactly why we’re taking the next steps and where it’s headed.”

    Okay, no one has time to fully parse all the lies and barmy nonsense Johnson packed into that short clip. Suffice to say, Republicans have no evidence against Biden. In fact, their one big hearing on the subject was so effing embarrassing, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer recently told reporters, “I don’t know that I wanna hold any more hearings, to be honest with you.” Which is a weird thing to say if, as Johnson claims, they just want to let “the American people see exactly why we’re talking those next steps and where it is headed.”

    But flipping reality on its head is kind of the GOP’s brand now. Donald Trump may have extorted a foreign power in order to dig up dirt on Biden, and yes, he tried to illegally overturn the results of a free and fair election and was all-in when his feral mob decided it wanted to hang Mike Pence (he should have known Pence would hang himself eventually), but President Biden loaned some money to his brother. And his brother paid it back!

    Rule-of-Law Party to the rescue!

    Sadly, just based on the few clips we’ve seen, it’s clear that Johnson is the kind of liar who can lie straight to your face without flinching. And if I never watched anything on Sunday mornings besides Fox News and Alvin Styczynski’s Polka Palooza, I’d be pretty convinced by him, too. But I watch all the polka shows, and sample more than just one Sunday show, too. So I’m not fooled by him for a second, no matter how many outrageous fibs he tells for Jesus. […]

    More at the link, including analysis of Chris Christie’s and J.D. Vance’s appearances on the Sunday shows.

  181. says

    Link. Scroll down to view the sections.
    and video.

    […] Mob rule broke out in Dagestan, which is a Russian-governed republic north of Azerbaijan in the North Caucasus. Russian troops eventually broke up the mob at the airport and made arrests. I have not seen any reports yet on whether anyone was hurt.

    Twitter:

    A lynch mob of Dagestania looking for Jews at a hotel in Russia.

    Putin’s anti-Israeli propaganda is making things dangerous.

    https://twitter.com/visegrad24/status/1718597993371226541

    Additional tweet and video:

    A lynch mob was formed in front of Flamingo Hotel in Dagestan, Russia after a rumour was spread that Jews had arrived to stay at the hotel. The crowd dispersed after every room of the hotel was checked for Jews and the passports of all guests were inspected.

    https://twitter.com/visegrad24/status/1718574833041109060

    Additional tweet and video:

    A Lynch mob has stormed the airport in Dagestan, Russia and is now going from plane to plane looking for Jewish passengers.

    A plane from Tel Aviv was landing.

    In this video, they interrogate one of the plane technicians, asking him:

    “tell us where the Jews are”

    https://twitter.com/visegrad24/status/1718698752158888122

  182. says

    The Texas GOP has a serious antisemitism problem

    Faced with ongoing scandals this month involving his allies’ ties to antisemitic extremists, the leader of the Republican Party of Texas has come out strongly—to attack other conservatives who’ve criticized his friends.

    For three weeks, Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi has been defiant in the face of calls from members of his own party to cut ties with Defend Texas Liberty leader Jonathan Stickland, who recently hosted avowed white supremacist Nick Fuentes at his office for nearly seven hours. And he’s gone after those who’ve been critical of Defend Texas Liberty, a political action committee that is funded by two of the Texas GOP’s most prolific donors.

    Separately, Rinaldi is at the center of a parallel controversy involving a group for young conservatives that he recently embraced despite warnings about its leaders’ openly antisemitic views and ties to white nationalist figures.

    For some Republicans, the dual scandals have raised serious questions about the party’s willingness to denounce racists — and its leader’s proximity to those who embrace them.

    […] To be sure, Rinaldi was quick to distance himself from Fuentes. The Texas Tribune spotted Rinaldi earlier this month at the office building where Fuentes, an Adolf Hitler admirer who has called for a “holy war” against Jews and encouraged his followers to beat women, was being hosted by Stickland.

    Asked about the Oct. 6 meeting, Rinaldi told the Tribune that he had no idea Fuentes was inside and would never meet with him. As for Stickland? Rinaldi said he would wait until more facts came out before commenting on his longtime political kin.

    […] Since then, neither Rinaldi nor the Republican Party of Texas has commented on Stickland, even as other major figures — including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Kyle Rittenhouse — have issued statements that confirmed the Tribune’s reporting. Nor has Rinaldi responded to concerns from fellow Republicans and some party executive committee members who’ve called for a break with Defend Texas Liberty, which has donated $257,000 to the party since 2021.

    Instead, Rinaldi has reserved his ire for House Speaker Dade Phelan, accusing the Beaumont Republican of politicizing antisemitism before demanding his resignation. Phelan has also demanded Rinaldi step down as the party’s leader and give money the Texas GOP received from Defend Texas Liberty to pro-Israel charities.

    Since news of the Fuentes meeting broke, Rinaldi has posted or amplified attacks on Phelan or the Texas House on X, formerly Twitter, more than 40 times. He has not, however, publicly criticized Stickland or Defend Texas Liberty at all — even as new information continues to emerge about their close ties to white supremacists.

    On Monday, the Tribune reported that, in just the last month, at least five current and former Fuentes associates have worked with groups that are closely tied to Stickland, Rinaldi and Defend Texas Liberty. That includes True Texas Project, whose leaders have sympathized with the racist gunman who murdered 22 people at an El Paso WalMart in 2019, and who are set to host Rinaldi for a fundraiser and softball game this weekend.

    On Wednesday, the Texas Observer reported that a swastika-clad neo-Nazi who was spotted handing out antisemitic flyers in Fort Worth this month had previously interned for Luke Macias, a longtime GOP consultant and Rinaldi ally who just replaced Stickland as president of Defend Texas Liberty, according to the group’s website.

    And this week, the Tribune reported that the president of Texans For Strong Borders, Chris Russo, has for years been a prominent figure in Fuentes’ racist movement, and has continued to post on anonymous, hate-filled social media accounts as his group —with help from Rinaldi and Defend Texas Liberty — has emerged as an influential voice that’s pushed lawmakers to crack down on legal and illegal immigration.

    […] The controversies come amid an internecine fight between the state’s far right and the Texas GOP’s more moderate, but still deeply conservative, wing. That strife has exploded into all-out war since the impeachment and acquittal of Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Rinaldi ally who has received nearly $4.65 million from West Texas oil billionaires Tim Dunn and Farris and Dan and Farris Wilks. Those billionaires also fund Defend Texas Liberty and, before that, bankrolled Rinaldi’s career in the Texas House.

    Defend Texas Liberty has been one of the most important players in the state party’s ongoing civil war. Campaign finance records show that, since 2021, it has given nearly $15 million to right-wing movements and candidates. […]

    Meanwhile, the Texas GOP’s far right has continued to embrace groups and individuals that others have warned are a bridge too far. Fuentes was the best-known of those extreme figures; but his visit and the ensuing controversy were punctuated by a separate-but-related, scandal involving the party and white supremacists.

    That ordeal dates back to August, when the 66-year-old Texas Young Republican Federation voted to end its partnership with the Texas GOP until Rinaldi — who the group accused of initiating a “smear campaign” and partnering with far-right figures to undermine their newly-elected leadership — was removed from his position.

    Things escalated last month, when Rinaldi pushed for the Texas GOP to bring a newly-formed spinoff group into the party despite warnings that its leaders included avowed white nationalists.

    The warnings proved to be right: Days after the Tribune first reported on Fuentes’ visit with Stickland, an independent journalist reported that leaders of the new young Republicans group had praised Hitler online, and published photos of some of its leaders outside of an event for Fuentes’ vitriolically antisemitic “groyper” movement.

    “There was a time in my life when I hated Nick Fuentes and his white supremacy views,” one of the group’s leaders, Rylie Rae, reportedly wrote on social media last year. “Now I recognize that he is one of the smartest people in our country and we need white nationalism. Oh how the tides have turned.”

    […] “There is a tendency among the populist right to essentially say, ‘It doesn’t matter how awful the person is, as long as they are on our side,’“ said Matt Wiltshire, finance director for the Young Republican National Federation. “We believe that we have a moral and ethical duty to be uncompromising in our stance that there is right and there is wrong.”

    One of those removed was Konner Earnest, who led the group’s Parker County chapter and also recently became involved with the European American Community, a white nationalist group that argues American citizenship should be based on European ancestry.

    […] Meanwhile, the Texas GOP’s executive committee remains at an impasse over how to respond to the party’s ongoing white supremacist problem.

    Last week, after Stickland was quietly removed as Defend Texas Liberty’s president, roughly one-third of the executive committee’s 64 members, including Vice Chair Dana Myers, signed a letter saying that the party had a “moral obligation to speak boldly, publicly, and clearly on this matter” and demand an explanation for the Fuentes meeting.

    […] the party’s disagreements have continued to escalate in public view, as Rinaldi and his allies remain largely silent on the scandal. Two weeks ago — and after a Tribune reporter reached out to more than a dozen members of the party’s executive committee regarding Defend Texas Liberty — the Texas GOP removed contact information for executive committee members from its website.

    […] Stickland may no longer be leading the group, but his removal is likely cosmetic given that he also owns Pale Horse Strategies, a consulting firm that is used heavily by Defend Texas Liberty-funded groups and candidates. […]

  183. says

    Ukraine Update: The Gaza war serves Russia’s interests, and what is happening in Kherson?

    Former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, still very much involved in the organization’s leadership, spoke on Egyptian television about how its terrorist operations have benefitted Moscow.

    For your information, Russia has benefitted from our [attack], because we distracted the U.S. from them and from Ukraine. China saw [our attack] as a dazzling example. The Russians told us that what happened on October 7 would be taught in military academies. The Chinese are thinking of carrying out a plan in Taiwan, doing what the Al-Qassam Brigades did on October 7. The Arabs are giving the world a master class.

    […] the statement is right about one thing—the authoritarian anti-Western world is benefiting from the chaos each of them causes. That’s one of the reasons, perhaps the biggest reason, why Ukraine is so important to the free world.

    […] Russia’s targeting of civilians hasn’t served any strategic purpose, certainly, but Hamas’ butchery has. It stopped normalization talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia, halting momentum toward regional peace after successes with Morocco, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (joining Egypt and Jordan). It also squashed rapprochement between Israel and Turkey after 14 years of broken diplomatic relations. Furthermore, the attacks have inflamed passions in Western countries for and against each side in the conflict, adding societal stressors that Russia is keen to exacerbate. The Arab world was moving toward peace, and Hamas didn’t want to be left behind, clinging to its refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Their terrorist attack, along with Israel’s indiscriminately harsh response, have paused all that for the near future.

    Even as some students on college campuses and the old guy on my street corner celebrate paragliders murdering kids at a music peace festival, no one in the region wants anything to do with Hamas. [Tweet and image at the link: Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk: “There are members of the Palestinian Authority and some Arab countries who are secretly calling on the West to destroy Hamas.”]

    Israel gets all the grief for blockading Gaza, but no one nearby wants Gaza to export Hamas’ brand of violent Islamic fundamentalism. Egypt shares a border with the territory, yet it has also blocked all crossing points, going so far as to destroy smuggling tunnels running underneath their border. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank refuses to grant Gazans travel documents. Marzouk doesn’t name names beyond the Palestinian Authority, but the Arab world’s anti-Iran bloc (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf emirates) would be ecstatic to see Hamas gone.

    Meanwhile, Russia is gleeful at all this chaos.

    Pro-Putin Republicans in the House are trying to use Israel as an excuse to pull back support for Ukraine, and too many useful idiots are playing along. There are material consequences as well. For example, the United States diverted tens of thousands of desperately needed artillery shells destined for Ukraine to Israel. As Western arms storages remain depleted after over a year and a half of war in Ukraine, and ammunition manufacturing hasn’t caught up to the demand, Israel’s needs only worsen the crisis. The resulting “pick one or the other” argument benefits Russia either way. Either Israel gets the extra equipment and Ukraine is starved of the material it needs to eject Russia, or Ukraine gets the equipment, which helps Hamas and Russia’s closest ally, Iran, continue to sow chaos in the region.

    Meanwhile, in Dagestan, a mob stormed an airport hunting for Jews aboard an inbound flight from Tel Aviv, Israel. [Tweet and video at the link: Insane footage on Russian social media from Makhachkala in the North Caucasus region, where there have been several anti-Semitic protests this weekend. A crowd of people, some with Palestinian flags, broke into the airport in search of passengers on a flight from Tel Aviv.]

    It’s no accident that the word pogrom, defined by Oxford as “an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jewish people in Russia or eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” is a Russian word. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Dagestan is one of the poorest regions in Russia, and not coincidentally, it has delivered a disproportionate number of conscripts for the war in Ukraine. What better way to distract from rising anger and discontent than to blame everything on the Jews? So people who are not allowed to protest the systemic erasure of their youth are given open permission to hunt Jewish people. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Russian war propagandist and actual real-life Nazi Alexander Kots was upset at the riots, but for all the wrong reasons: “If you want to kill Jews, go to Gaza or Kyiv.” [Tweet and image at the link: Well-known Russian pro-Kremlin journalist Alexander Kots writes: “If you want to kill Jews, go to Gaza or Kyiv” Yes, these are people who call themselves “anti-fascists” and say that they are carrying out “denazification” in Ukraine.]

    Israel refused to provide meaningful support to Ukraine in a bid to maintain friendly relations with Moscow. The two countries had a wink-wink understanding that Ukraine stayed out of Moscow’s affairs in Europe, and in turn, Russian air defense systems in Damascus would remain blind to Israeli air strikes.

    Given the current situation, it doesn’t look like that status quo will hold. And Russia better root for a protracted Gaza war, because the alternative for them might very well look like this: [Tweet and video at the link: Amir Weitmann, powerful member of Netanyahu’s Likud party in Israel, went live on Russia Today and, oh Boy, tore into Russia’s stance. I was only waiting for him to step through the screen. What an epic statement. This is exactly what will resonate in Moscow, especially with Putin.]

    Partial transcript:

    Russia is supporting the enemies of Israel. Russia is supporting Nazi people who want to commit genocide on us and Russia will pay the price. We’re gonna win this war. Afterwards, we’re not forgetting what you’re doing, we’re not forgetting, we will come, we will make sure Ukraine wins. We will make sure that you pay the price for what you have done, you as Russia.

    [This quote was presented in an earlier update also, but it is worth repeating.]

    Back on the ground in Ukraine, the good guys appear to be expanding their bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnipro, south of the city of Kherson. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Krynka/Krynky is located roughly halfway between the (still destroyed) Antonovsky bridge by the city of Kherson, and Nova Kakhovka, home of the other bridge Ukraine destroyed to force Russia out of northern Kherson oblast. Nova Kakhovka was also important as the source of Crimea’s drinking water, but once Russia blew the dam, that’s no longer a thing. [map at the link]

    Kozachi Laheri, to Krynky’s west (I’ll use this spelling for now), has been periodically raided by Ukraine, but they have never attempted to defend any gains. Normally, we would assume the same for Krynky, except for that “liberated!” video.

    Still, the video seems fishy to me—it’s inside a building, so there’s no way to geolocate it, and liberation videos usually feature a triumphant defender tearing down the Russian flag and hoisting a Ukrainian one. We don’t see that here.

    But …

    On Friday, Russian war blogger Rybar released a map that specifically had Krisky in Ukrainian hands. (Look down to the bottom right.) [map at the link]

    It would be nice to think that Ukraine is stepping up activities on this front. With Russian defenses tied up in the Zaporizhzhia front (where the Ukrainian advance is stalled for now), and its offensive forces getting chewed up around Avdiivka, there may not be much of anything in southern Kherson to stop a serious Ukrainian push.

    By some indication, Russia doesn’t have any armor in this direction, making a Ukrainian advance using light infantry (marines, air assault, and special forces) possible. If they were able to somehow push down 10-15 kilometers, and if they were somehow able to logistically support that spearhead (all of them big “ifs”), that would push Russian artillery sufficiently back to allow Ukraine to build a pontoon bridge. And if that happened? It would be magical.

    For now, I’ll stick with the more obvious scenario: Ukraine is forcing Russia to make a difficult decision—either reinforce Kherson at the expense of the other fronts, or risk losing lightly defended ground.

    There is no Surovikhin network of defensive lines down here. Russia assumed the Dnipro River was good enough to protect its flank. Now we get to see if that was a smart bet.

  184. whheydt says

    Iceland volcanologist warning that the time to prepare for a possible eruption is NOW.
    https://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/news/2023/10/29/not_much_time_to_respond_in_case_of_an_eruption_so_/

    The Blue Lagoon, Svartsengi and Grindavík are close to the centre of the land that is rising and it would not be surprising if there were to be an evacuation, according to volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson.

    Land began rising yesterday near Svartsengi, northwest of Þorbjörn on Reykjanes peninsula, considerably west of Fagradalsfjall. The response time would be low if magma occurred, according to Þorvaldsson.

    “We have a land rise there and it’s quite fast, three centimeters in 24 hours,” says Þorvaldsson. Land has risen in the area five times since 2020, but the speed is now considerably higher than in the previous times.
    “People really need to sit down”

    “There was an eruption during the last eruption period, in the so-called Reykjanes peninsula volcanoes,” Þorvaldsson says, “and he adds:

    “The best thing we can do is to sit down and see how we can react if there’s a volcanic eruption in this area. What can we do to protect the infrastructure that’s there in the vicinity.”

    The power plant in Svartsengi is not far from this area and it powers the whole of the Reykjanes peninsula. Furthermore the Blue Lagoon is not far from the center of the land rising.
    Nothing is certain

    “And even more importantly, Grindavík. People really need to sit down and figure out what we can do if there’s a volcanic eruption at this place. But we cannot say an eruption will occur in this area,” Þorvaldsson says and in the last two days there have not been earthquakes above 3 in magnitude and the seismic swarm seems to be slowing down.
    Uncertainty alert raised due to seismic swarm and possible magma intrusion
    Article on Iceland Monitor
    Uncertainty alert raised due to seismic swarm and possible magma intrusion

    “If it erupts at the site where the volcano is now, it wouldn’t be surprising if the area had to be evacuated.”

    Þorvaldsson says that we need to think about how to respond sooner rather than later.

    “We need to be ready. If there were an eruption in this area, the response time would not be very long.”

    Since the seismic swarm began last week there have been over 8 thousand quakes detected in this area.

  185. says

    Parties are expected to pursue course-corrections after defeats. But every time Republicans fall short, their response is to move further to the right.

    The day after Mike Johnson was elected House speaker, the editorial board of The New York Times published a good summary of the Louisiana Republican’s radicalism on a wide range of issues. But in passing, the editors touched on an underappreciated point about the GOP’s trajectory.

    It has been disturbing to watch the slide from Republican speakers like Paul Ryan and John Boehner, who denounced attempts to challenge the election results, to the hemming and hawing of Kevin McCarthy to the full-blown antidemocratic stands of Mr. Johnson. And it has certainly been a long slide from the party of Ronald Reagan — whose 11th Commandment was not speaking ill of other Republicans and who envisioned the party as a big tent — to the extremism, purity tests and chaos of the House Republican conference this year.

    […]The Wall Street Journal, in a news report, described the Louisiana as “the most conservative speaker of the last century,” and I’m hard pressed to imagine how anyone could credibly draw a different conclusion.

    But among the reasons that’s relevant is the eagerness among House Republicans to keep finding new ways to move even further to the right.

    This also came to mind the other day when The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent highlighted Johnson’s radicalism on immigration, including the GOP congressman’s embrace of highly provocative conspiracy theories. It was, after all, at a Capitol Hill hearing last year when Johnson falsely asserted that the U.S./Mexico border is “open” because Democratic officials want to “turn all the illegals into voters.” Greg’s report added:

    The pro-immigrant group America’s Voice, which tracks lawmakers’ positions on the issue, has not documented any comparable rhetoric in Johnson’s predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy. “Johnson has gone farther than most of his Republican colleagues in elevating alarmist and dangerous rhetoric,” says Vanessa Cardenas, the group’s executive director.

    It’s not just immigration, of course. On everything from abortion rights to climate change, LGBTQ+ rights to the separation of church and state, Johnson is well to the right of McCarthy.

    Who was to the right of Paul Ryan.

    Who was to the right of John Boehner.

    There’s a school of thought in American politics that parties pursue course-corrections in the wake of electoral setbacks. Indeed, it probably seems like common sense: When a party fails to persuade voters and struggles at the ballot box, party leaders look for ways to become more popular in the hopes of winning the next time.

    For Republicans, the course-correction never comes. The party struggled mightily in 2006 and 2008, and its response was to move further to the right. The GOP struggled again in 2012, and its response was to move further to the right. Republicans lost the House in 2018, and its response was to move further to the right. The party lost the Senate and the White House in 2020, and its response was to move further to the right. The GOP assumed it’d ride a “red wave” in 2022, but the party instead underperformed to a historic degree.

    Its response — let’s all say it together — was to move further to the right.

  186. says

    Trump earns a second gag order after bullying potential witnesses

    On Sunday evening, Judge Tanya Chutkan moved to reinstate a gag order against Donald Trump in the election interference case being heard in Washington, D.C. The reinstatement followed another stream of messages from Trump that could easily be read as attempts to intimidate witnesses or encourage violence against court officials and prosecutors.

    Chutkan originally issued the order on Oct. 16 after prosecutors expressed concern that Trump’s statements created a threat to everyone involved in the trial and could be interpreted as encouraging violence. However, Chutkan agreed to stay implementation after Trump’s attorneys appealed the order. In a brief session on Sunday evening, Chutkan removed that stay, writing that Trump seemed unlikely to win on appeal and reinstating the gag order was in the public interest.

    Within two hours of the order being restored, Trump issued a lengthy series of insults directed at former Attorney General Bill Barr, who is a potential witness in the case. This could easily be read as a violation of the gag order. [Trump’s post on Truth Social is available at the link]

    Donald Trump is a bully. His everyday communication consists of insults, intimidation, and threats—both implicit and overt. A typical message from Trump involves explaining why someone that he once praised is actually “overrated,” “dumb as a rock,” or “a fucking idiot.” Those messages are also often laden with encouragement for Trump’s followers to engage in harassment, or hints that anyone who opposes him will suffer as a result.

    These are exactly the sorts of remarks that judges don’t tend to like, especially when they are directed at potential witnesses or court staff. They can also get upset over lies being spread about prosecutors and law enforcement that might well get someone killed. At a hearing in September, it was clear that Trump’s false claims had encouraged death threats against prosecutors and others.

    When she initially issued the gag order, Chutkan made it clear that Trump was not entitled to wage a “smear campaign” against prosecutors and court personnel. “No other criminal defendant would be allowed to do so,” Chutkan said, “and I’m not going to allow it in this case.”

    Following Chutkan’s removal of the stay, Trump immediately made a series of angry posts, blaming the gag order on “the Biden administration.” [Truth Social post available at the link]

    The claim that the gag order is designed to interfere with Trump’s campaign and violate his First Amendment rights form the basis of his appeal. Chutkan shot down that idea entirely, reminding his attorneys that “the First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice,” and making it clear that just because Trump was involved in a campaign, that doesn’t give him any additional rights.

    But Trump kept up a stream of claims overnight, attacking the Biden administration and leading up to this gem on Monday morning.

    The Obama appointed federal Judge in D.C, a TRUE TRUMP HATER, is incapable of giving me a fair trial. Her Hatred of President DONALD J. TRUMP is so great that she has been diagnosed with a major, and incurable, case of TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME!!!

    In general, judges are more tolerant of attacks on themselves and on prosecutors than they are on witnesses and court officials. But that doesn’t mean Chutkan is going to look favorably on Trump testing the boundaries of his ability to engage in intimidation and incitement.

    The gag order from Chutkan follows Trump’s second fine from Judge Arthur Engoron who is overseeing Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York City. Trump has twice made false claims about a court clerk, including sending out a message falsely calling her “Chuck Schumer’s girlfriend.” Trump has now been fined a total of $15,000 by an increasingly angry Engoron.

    Both gag orders are limited in scope. Trump could continue to proclaim his innocence, demean the court proceedings, and blame the whole thing on Biden or former President Barack Obama with no likely consequences. But that would require Trump to forego direct attacks on prosecutors, witnesses, and court officials. Based on existing evidence, Trump isn’t capable of that kind of restraint.

  187. says

    Partial transcript of Trump speaking at a rally in Iowa on Sunday:

    I can’t imagine myself being a politician — it has cost me a couple of billion dollars to be a politic — everyone else makes — they make — I said no we can’t do that — I could’ve made a fortune — countries are coming — we’ve got to build a job, and we’d like to have you involved — billions I say — I tell my kids, sorry kids, we can’t do it, I’m President — I respected the office — and then I get out, and I see the stuff Biden’s been doing, and I say, well I did it the right way — you know (tittering) — the money — and my kids say, dad could we build a job here or there — in the Middle East — certain countries — they got a lotta money — and they’d love to build a nice Trump job — no kids you can’t do that, it’s a conflict — I didn’t do that (sniff) — so I was willing — and the of course they made it much worse with legal fees — I have $100 million worth of legal fees — and they are doing good — at least I have a good lawyers — you could spend $100 million on lousy lawyers too — it happens (faint laughter from the crowd) — but no I said, I said, right from the beginning — I told Ben and Candy a long time ago — I said you know it’s incredible — as soon as you win, they start coming to you — wanna do this — and I told my kids you can’t do that, you can’t do that — too much respect for the office — and uh ..

    Yep. Those are Trump’s actual words, carefully transcribed.

    Commentary:

    […] The $2 billion claim can be discarded along with every valuation he has ever made. And even the $100 million in legal fees was at least a doubling of the truth.

    The actual money he has spent on lawyers since the beginning of 2022 — calculated by the AP from financial disclosure filings by Trump’s PAC — was far less. As they reported on October 11th:

    “Since the start of 2022, Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America, has spent nearly $37 million on legal costs for Trump, co-defendants and potential witnesses.”

    Of course, some bills have yet to be paid — and despite his reputation for chiseling, I suspect they are bills Trump will pay because his freedom is on the line, and the money is not his. But even if you double the number, you are still far short of the imaginary round number Trump threw up. […]

  188. Reginald Selkirk says

    Federal agents tackle Jan. 6 defendant during court hearing

    A physical altercation broke out during a hearing on Monday in the case of Vitali GossJankowski, a defendant convicted of several charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, resulting in toppled tables and multiple federal agents subduing the defendant on the ground.

    Judge Paul Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered GossJankowski jailed for a series of recent doxxing threats targeting federal agents. Moments later, GossJankowski stood and fought with agents who tried to handcuff him and take him into custody…

  189. says

    Speaker Mike Johnson’s Wife Also Religious Extremist Lunatic, Sounds Like

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/speaker-mike-johnsons-wife-also-religious

    If you are like most patriotic Americans, you have probably asked yourself at least once in the past week if Mike Johnson, the new House speaker Republicans just unanimously chose, is actually just Michele Bachmann in drag. And you know what? We haven’t seen Bachmann and Mike Johnson both in the same place, so maybe.

    More evidence for the yes column? Turns out Mike Johnson’s wife — the one he’s “covenant married” to — runs a Christian counseling practice that espouses prehistoric lunatic beliefs, such as that being gay is in the same category as bestiality and incest.

    Remember Marcus Bachmann and his Christian counseling service? Maybe Marcus Bachmann is just Kelly Johnson in drag, you don’t know.

    HuffPost has the details about Kelly Johnson’s psycho bigot “counseling” practice, called Onward Christian Counseling Services. She appears to have pulled the website down, but before that, the practice’s 2017 operating agreement was linked on the site, and here’s some of what it said (HuffPost grabbed the operating agreement, you can read it):

    The agreement states that Onward Christian Counseling Services is grounded in the belief that sex is offensive to God if it is not between a man and a woman married to each other. It puts being gay, bisexual or transgender in the same category as someone who has sex with animals or family members, calling all of these examples of “sexual immorality.”

    “We believe and the Bible teaches that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s sex, or disagreement with one’s biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God,” says the eight-page business document.

    This agreement also refers to “pre-born babies” and says the company is committed to defending and protecting all human life, “from conception through natural death.”

    Wow, definitely sounds like a professional counseling place full of professional adult counselors, where they help people and don’t scar them for life even a little bit.

    HuffPost underlines just how extremist it is to have a document on your website dated 2017 that says those things, reminding us of memories many people probably have repressed of Rick Santorum waxing poetic about “man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be,” back in 2003 when the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws. In 2017, we were two years into being a country with full marriage equality, which is insanely popular.

    It was bugfuck to be saying that shit 20 years ago. Now? Um, let’s just say we don’t think people who write things like that on their counseling websites are fit to be counseling anyone.

    A lot of people are talking right now about the quote Kelly Johnson’s covenant husband Mike gave Fox News the other night, where he had some responses to people pointing out what an unhinged religious extremist he is. He told Sean Hannity, “Go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it ― that’s my worldview. That’s what I believe, and so I make no apologies for it.” Of course, he left out the part where he interprets it through the lens of conservative white American Christian bigotry. You can find all kinds of messages in scripture, depending on how much of a piece of shit you are and what you’re looking for.

    We see what Mike Johnson is looking for.

    (Mike Johnson also whined about the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision to Hannity, saying SCOTUS had “changed the definition of marriage that had been used by every human society for 5,000 years.” Which just goes to show you how fundamentally ignorant conservative Christians tend to be of actual history, even in their own Bible. Of course, Johnson has thrills up his leg for the fake history taught by fake Christian historian David Barton, so it’s not surprising.)

    HuffPost notes that Mike and Kelly Johnson do a podcast together called Truth Be Told, and if you want to hear the episode where they splain how excited they were the week Roe v. Wade was overturned, it’s right here. HuffPost says they have done 69 episodes so far, so if you wanted this blog post to end with a hilarious sex covenant boning joke, you may now write one in the comments.

  190. Reginald Selkirk says

    Kevin McCarthy gets MAGA primary challenger

    Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is getting a primary challenger in his reelection race for his House seat representing the state’s 20th congressional district.

    David Giglio, who previously lost a congressional bid for the state’s 13th District, is running as an “America First Republican” who will “fight alongside President Donald Trump in 2024 as he WAGES WAR against the corrupt uniparty,” according to Giglio’s campaign website.

    Giglio also took direct aim at McCarthy, who was ousted from his post Oct. 3, when eight Republicans joined Democrats in favor of a motion to vacate the chair of Speaker. The rebel group of Republicans was angry about McCarthy’s last-minute, bipartisan deal to keep the government funded.

    “Kevin McCarthy FAILED the American people by not keeping his promises and capitulating to the corrupt Biden Regime and the radical Democrats,” Giglio said on the website…

  191. says

    Israel-Hamas war live updates: Gaza incursion will ‘continue and intensify,’ IDF says

    The Israel Defense Forces said it had struck over 600 “terror targets” over the past few days, including weapons depots and antitank missile launching positions.

    […] Telegram shut down “several dozens of channels that contained direct calls to violence against Palestinians and Jews in English, Arabic and Hebrew,” a spokesperson said.

    “Telegram condemns racial and religious hatred and calls to violence on its platform,” spokesperson Remi Vaughn said.

    Telegram also took down a Russian-language channel that encouraged violence against Jews arriving in Dagestan, Russia, Vaughn said.

    Vaughn said that “Utro Dagestan” was among the channels blocked today.

    “Such content violates Apple and Google guidelines and the Telegram Terms of Service,” Vaughn said.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls for a cease-fire in a news conference today and said that Israel’s main goal is to take down Hamas. He called the release of a hostage today a turning point in the war, saying that “Israel did not start this war. Israel did not want this war. But Israel will win this war.”

    He added that “Israel will fight until this battle is won.” He urged other countries to support Israel, saying, “Every civilized nation should stand with Israel.”

    He also called for the immediate release of hostages held by Hamas.

    “We cannot give immunity to these terrorists. We cannot give up the fight because this will have disastrous consequences not only for the future of my country [but for the world],” Netanyahu said. […]

    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security forces for rescuing a hostage and welcomed her home.

    “I congratulate the Shin Bet and the IDF for this important and exciting achievement, an achievement that expresses our commitment to the release of all the abductees. The entire nation of Israel salutes the Shin Bet and salutes the IDF,” Netanyahu said. […]

    Israel said it freed a hostage during the ground operation in Gaza today, per a joint statement from the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service.

    The hostage was identified as Private Ori Megidish.

    She was medically examined and found to be in good condition. She was reunited with her family. […]

  192. says

    Followup to comment 229

    Ukrainian officials are denying involvement in the antisemitic unrest in Dagestan.

    “The events in Makhachkala reflect the deep-rooted anti-Semitism of Russian elites and society,” Oleg Nikolenko, Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, wrote on Facebook. “Threats to exterminate the Jews are the result of the work of Russian state propaganda, which for decades cultivated among Russians feelings of hatred for other peoples. Let’s recall that not so long ago, President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov made offensive anti-Semitic statements.”

    Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called the events in Makhachkala “the absolutely Russian story with an inevitable crisis-ridden future.”

  193. says

    Good news: From Arkansas to the Arctic Circle, steel manufacturers are exploring ways to decarbonize the CO2-intensive steel industry.

    OSCEOLA, Arkansas — […] We’d come to mark the opening of a $450 million production line, which just started making a type of paper-thin steel for use in electric-vehicle motors, power generators and transformers — equipment that’s in high demand as the nation transitions to clean energy. […]

    The new plant is part of a multibillion-dollar expansion that U.S. Steel is undertaking at Big River Steel, a sprawling complex on the outskirts of the tiny city of Osceola. The company says the massive undertaking will allow it to supply much more lower-carbon material to automakers, construction firms and other companies looking to clean up their own supply chains.

    For nearly a decade, Big River Steel has been producing millions of tons of high-strength metal and using electricity to do it — instead of heating purified coal, like the nation’s oldest and most polluting steel furnaces do. Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel acquired the site in 2021, in part, it said to help create a more ​“secure, sustainable future” for the 122-year-old industrial giant.

    At the steel mill, heaps of recycled metal — from chopped-up cars, washing machines, structural beams and more — are placed inside two enormous ​“electric arc furnaces,” along with small amounts of iron pellets. The furnaces blast a bolt of electricity between internal electrodes, melting the contents into a glowing orange liquid at nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Other machines roll the material into sheets and curl it into coils, which are strapped to beds of trains and trucks and hauled across the country.

    Producing steel this way can curb carbon dioxide emissions by up to 75 percent, compared to traditional coal-based methods, according to the company and industry reports.

    “The future is toward electrification, and we can make some money with this green steel,” David Burritt, U.S. Steel’s president and CEO, told me as giant metal rolling pins droned loudly behind us. […]

    Globally, producing steel generates as much as 9 percent of human-caused CO2 emissions every year — more than any other heavy industry, including cement and chemical production.

    Part of the reason is simply that manufacturers make so much of it: nearly 2 billion metric tons of the stuff per year. The grayish alloy forms the hulls of cargo ships and parts of airplanes. It’s in buildings, bridges and roads; in vehicles, appliances and cookware. In 2022, the global iron and steel market was valued at nearly $1.7 trillion.

    But the main explanation for steel’s giant carbon footprint is that, globally, most steel is still made by heating fossil fuels to turn raw iron ore into finished metal — a process that generates 90 percent of CO2 emissions from steel, along with a toxic soup of heavy metals and air pollution. While recycled steel can displace some of the demand for ​“primary” steel, it doesn’t diminish the need to clean up or replace coal-fueled furnaces.

    […] dozens of projects involving hydrogen are in various stages of development worldwide. Sweden’s H2 Green Steel recently raised $1.6 billion to build the world’s first large-scale, hydrogen-fueled plant, while Chinese steelmaker HBIS Group said it produced its first batch of hydrogen-infused iron. […]

    More at the link, including a detailed description of the multistep process for making most of the primary steel made today; and including environmental issues resulting from that process.

    More details:

    […] Mini mills [using electric arc furnaces] do emit some toxic air pollution, dust and noise. When it comes to curbing CO2, at least, scrap-based steelmaking has a clear advantage. America’s electric arc furnaces generate about 0.37 metric tons of CO2 for every 1 metric ton of crude steel they produce, or roughly three-quarters less than primary steelmaking […]

    These days, the steel industry tends to slap the word ​“green” on any product that’s made from scrap metal in electric arc furnaces. But climate experts say the loosely defined label can be misleading if those energy-intensive furnaces are powered primarily by coal- and gas-fired electric grids — as is often the case. Generally, electric arc furnaces require around 400 kilowatt-hours for every short ton of steel produced.

    […] Big River Steel, for its part, is the only American steel facility so far to receive certification from ResponsibleSteel, a nonprofit global initiative that audits companies’ progress as they work toward achieving ​“net-zero steel” production.

    The Arkansas mini mill gets more than 60 percent of its electricity from ​“non-fossil-fuel” sources, including nuclear power. Next door to the complex, thousands of acres of flattened dirt indicate where a 250-megawatt solar power project will be installed. Once completed next year, the $237 million array will provide about 40 percent of the electricity needed to power Big River Steel’s expansion.

    […] Hybrit’s operations are located in Sweden’s Norrbotten County, a sparsely populated stretch of mining towns and coastal cities near the Arctic Circle that’s rich in wind and hydropower resources and iron ore. There, the partners have built a first-of-a-kind pilot plant and an adjoining facility for storing green hydrogen in rock caverns. [photo at the link]

    In the pilot plant, iron-ore pellets are dropped down the top of a shaft furnace. Next, hydrogen gas is introduced lower in the furnace. The vessel reaches up to 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832℉), causing the oxygen atoms in iron ore to combine with hydrogen and form water. Now freed of oxygen, the ​“direct reduced iron” (DRI) then moves into an electric arc furnace — where it’s zapped and melted to make high-strength steel.

    Fossil-free electricity powers Hybrit’s energy-hungry shaft. It also drives the electrolyzers that produce the plant’s ​“green” hydrogen. In electrolysis, electric currents split water into its constituent parts of hydrogen and oxygen. Today, very little of the world’s hydrogen supply is produced this way. Instead, most industrial hydrogen is derived from fossil gas or coal using energy-intensive methods.

    Hybrit’s method does result in some CO2 emissions, owing to the use of graphite electrodes and tiny amounts of coal in the second furnace. But it eliminates virtually all of the emissions associated with coal-fueled blast furnaces, according to the venture.

    […] The Midwest Hydrogen Hub aims to spur hydrogen production in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. The consortium includes steel giant ArcelorMittal, along with a variety of energy producers and industrial companies. The hub, which will receive up to $1 billion, has plans to use nuclear power to produce hydrogen, some of which will likely be slated for processing iron ore for steelmaking.

    […] Steel made using novel production routes would cost 40 percent more, on average, than ​“unabated” production today […] As green-steel production ramps up, however, by 2050, the material could ultimately cost 5 percent less than the fossil-based supply […]

  194. Reginald Selkirk says

    A Puritan’s Guide to Quieting Our ‘Inner Atheist’

    I recently had a conversation with a college sophomore who’s been struggling with his faith. He is a Christian who wants to believe, he said, but there are many days when he wakes up doubting that there’s enough proof to justify belief in God’s existence.

    I sympathized with the young man’s struggle because I’ve experienced it myself. Like me, he seems to be an intellectually-driven person who longs for logical reasons to believe—not inexplicit feelings or even experiential evidence.

    So I asked him, “On days when you wake up feeling like an atheist, what particular doubts do you find most troubling?” …

  195. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ohio Quietly Purges 27,000 Voters From Rolls Ahead of Abortion Vote

    In the latest example of Ohio Republicans showing they’ll do anything to thwart an abortion ballot measure, state officials canceled the registrations of nearly 27,000 inactive voters. On November 7, voting ends for Issue 1, which would amend the state constitution to enshrine the right to abortion. (The pro-choice position is to vote “yes.”)

    Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) ordered the purge of 26,666 voters in late September but didn’t announce the move. About 4,700 purged voters are from Franklin County, which includes the Democratic stronghold of Columbus. People who were purged can re-register to vote—but, importantly, not in time to vote on the ballot measure. The deadline for this election was October 10…

  196. says

    United Kingdom good news:

    Ministers are to scrap “outdated” IVF laws that deny access to people with HIV and force lesbians to pay extra for tests. Campaigners said the move would transform lives across the UK.

    Hundreds of couples hoping to become parents but going through the distress of fertility issues will have their chances improved, the government announced on Wednesday, as it outlined two law changes to IVF provision in the UK.

    Lesbian couples will no longer be required to pay for expensive screening before IVF, while couples with HIV will no longer be banned from having babies via IVF under the new laws.

    Link

  197. says

    Ivanka reportedly helped lie about her dad’s wealth and will have to answer to it in court

    Ivanka Trump is set to testify in person as part of her disgraced father’s New York City real estate fraud case. Ivanka’s position in Trump’s business world has always been prominent, and most experts believe her testimony may reveal itself to be rather damaging.

    According to Forbes, back in September of 2015, they conducted an interview with Donald and Ivanka Trump as well as former CFO of the Trump Organization (and tax fraud) Allen Weisselberg. The occasion was Trump’s promotional attempt to get onto the “Forbes 400” list. Ivanka’s active participation in inflating her father’s real estate wealth was very much on display, and the details of her participation will likely be the subject of many a prosecutor’s questions on Friday.

    It was during this interview with three financial specialists sent to assess what Trump was actually worth that Ivanka appeared nine minutes in, promoting how Trump’s recent acquisition—what would become Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami—was going swimmingly. While Forbes valued Doral at $225 million (before debt), Trump and Ivanka pooh-poohed this estimate as low since “we’ll make $74 million this year,” according to Donald. It made $14 million that year. [They lie bigly.]

    Ivanka pushed what has now been shown to be a Trump real estate trick of overvaluing acreage (and the amount of acres), in inflating the value of the property on said land.

    The three journalists inside Trump Tower that day, all specialists in investigating the fortunes of billionaires, were not about to fall for the same ruse. Trump had spent $150 million in 2012 buying Doral, which is less than 700 acres, according to property records—not the 800 that Ivanka and her father like to claim. Trump dumped more than $100 million into it, but his renovation did not seem to boost performance much. By 2015, Doral was earning only 13% more than it had in 2012, according to lending records, justifying the preliminary estimate of $225 million that Forbes’ number crunchers had calculated after consulting more than a half dozen golf and leisure experts.

    Ivanka then claimed there was very little debt attached to the acquisition of Doral. There was $125 million in debt still owed to the bank. She subsequently promoted the lie (a lie affirmed by Donald and Weisselberg) that the interest being paid was well below 2%. The real number was 2.1%. Forbes points out that these seemingly small details are huge when it comes to evaluating real estate, not simply in order to buy or sell it but also in how one pays or does not pay taxes on it.

    Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were ever-present fixtures as top advisers throughout the Trump administration. She has tried hard to disappear from her father’s general orbit as the legal walls have closed around The Donald. There was some hope that Ivanka and Jared might face more legal scrutiny. They walked away from the administration having reportedly increased their wealth by more than half a billion dollars. They then added $2 billion in suspected Saudi blood money.

  198. says

    Mike Johnson offers first crap sandwich … with poison pill: House GOP unveils $14.3 billion Israel aid package

    House Republicans unveiled a $14.3 billion aid package for Israel on Monday, a show of support for the embattled U.S. ally amid its war against Hamas.

    To pay for the foreign aid, however, the legislation includes $14.3 billion in cuts to funding for the Internal Revenue Service, a key detail that will likely be a nonstarter for Democrats.

    The cuts would affect funds included in the Democrats’ sweeping tax, health and climate bill — dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act — signed into law last year.

    The package also deviates from the White House’s strategy of linking aid for Ukraine and Israel in the same piece of legislation, a fact that could make it even more difficult to get the bill over the finish line.

    The legislation includes $4 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems and another $1.2 billion for development of the Iron Beam defense system.

    The package is one of the first pieces of legislation introduced under Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who assumed the top job last week […]

    The pay-for included in the House GOP’s Israel bill, and the absence of Ukraine funding in the legislation, will likely generate applause from conservative deficit hawks and Republicans skeptical of sending more aid to Ukraine.

    At the same time, however, those details are expected to drive at least some Democratic opposition to the aid package despite strong support for Tel Aviv, setting the stage for a fight over support for the U.S.’s close ally in the Middle East.

    White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the pay-for included in the House GOP’s aid bill, telling reporters on Monday that an emergency funding request does not require offsets.

    […] “Support for defending Israel should not come with conditions, be it cutting foreign military financing by 30% or offsetting aid in a time of crucial need,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement before the text was unveiled. “I am deeply disturbed by Speaker Johnson playing political games with Israeli emergency funding, something our nation has never done in a time of crisis.”

    The White House earlier this month unveiled a roughly $100 billion emergency funding request that included money for Israel, Ukraine, border security and allies in the Indo-Pacific.

    The House GOP bill matches the amount of money for Israel included in the White House’s supplemental.

    But the exclusion of Ukraine aid is likely to spark howls from the White House and congressional Democrats, who have been adamant about moving support for the two U.S. allies together. Some Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have also called for passing aid both for Israel and Ukraine.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday advocated for moving Biden’s entire supplemental request.

    “The way forward is exceptionally clear: we must pass the president’s supplemental request, which has funding for Israel, Ukraine, the South-Pacific, while also supplying critical humanitarian aid for Gaza,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “America does not have the luxury of burying our head in the sand or leaving our friends to fend for themselves. If we want the world to remain a safe place for freedom, for Democratic principles and for America’s prosperity, we must defend against those who are working hard to undermine us.” […]

  199. says

    Twitter Worth Less Than Half Of What Elon Paid, Trust Him With All Your Money!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/twitter-worth-less-than-half-of-what

    Twitter is going to be your bank and your Grindr and your Big Lots and your YouTube and your veterinarian and your …

    Here are three facts about Elon Musk and the artist formerly known as Twitter, which is now simply known as “NaziMingle.” Or X. One of those, we are almost certain.

    Fact The First: Twitter is OFFICIALLY worth less than half the dollars Elon paid for it, when he blew $44 billion to create a place where (he thought) people would finally treat him like a super cool guy who’s handsome and interesting. Instead it’s just incels, Nazis, that sad Libs of TikTok woman, and various other societal rejects and deplorables who pay Elon a monthly fee for a blue check […]

    The formal valuation Elon has just had done puts the value of his garbage website at $19 billion, which for context is a mere 10 or 13 times more than what Donald Trump thinks Mar-a-Lago is worth. Again, this is Elon’s number.

    The company is giving employees ownership shares, and they’re pegged to that value.

    That price is a 55 percent discount to Musk’s original purchase price, per the documents, which note that “the fair market value per share is determined by the Board of Directors based on a number of factors in a manner that complies with applicable tax rules.” (Musk is X’s chair and has yet to create a formal board.)

    Cool.

    The Verge notes that in the eyes of Fidelity, which was a major investor in Elon’s vanity/feelings purchase of Twitter, it might be more like $15 or $16 billion, which would suggest the $19 million number is a little bit rounded up. That’s a 65 percent devaluation, whereas Elon’s is only 55 percent.

    Fact the second: Old Business Guy Jones up there wants to be your bank!

    Last Thursday, Elon had an all-hands meeting, where he told everybody about his awesome plan for getting large numbers of people to trust him with their money. And he wants it done by the end of 2024, dammit!

    “When I say payments, I actually mean someone’s entire financial life,” Musk said, according to audio of the meeting obtained by The Verge. “If it involves money. It’ll be on our platform. Money or securities or whatever. So, it’s not just like send $20 to my friend. I’m talking about, like, you won’t need a bank account.”

    It’s not just Venmo. It’s Venmo AND bank. AND “money or securities or whatever.” So you can close your “money or securities or whatever” account and just stuff your IRA in Elon’s underpants. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine!

    X CEO Linda Yaccarino said the company sees this becoming a “full opportunity” in 2024. “It would blow my mind if we don’t have that rolled out by the end of next year,” Musk said.

    Yes, it would blow all our minds, definitely. For sure we can see people lining up around the block to give Elon the keys to their entire financial lives. You bet.

    Elon’s been dreaming of this ever since decades ago when he cooked up the original idea for an app called “X,” which would be the “everything app,” where everything happens. (The original incarnation failed so hard.)

    This is going to be great.

    Fact the Third: Elon wants the Twitter bank to be your Grindr too.

    Ya know, because if you’re gonna get fucked, GET FUCKED.

    (Yes, that is an outstanding slogan, and yes if Elon wants it, it is available for the low price of $44 billion. Cash.)

    This was announced at the same all-hands call, which coincided with the one-year anniversary of Elon buying Twitter and immediately commencing to running it into the ground:

    During the call, Musk attempted to take a tone of excitement for what X will look like over the next year, the people present said. X will in 2024 be a “fully fledged” dating site, he insisted, as well as a digital bank.

    […] This Insider article is so saucy:

    Musk did not get into details of how exactly X would become a dating app, if there was any user demand for such features, or what further product changes would be made to turn it into one, one of the people present said. However, the idea is in line with Musk’s push for features that require payment, as most dating apps today are some form of subscription service.

    Who asked for the privilege of hooking up with paid blue check idiots? No one!

    Getting more users to give X payment and banking information ties in with Musk’s long-held desire for X to offer full payment and banking services to users, part of his ambitions to create an “everything app” like WeChat, one of the people present said. “He wants people to pay for everything,” the person noted.

    Yeah, come on! Somebody, anybody give Elon your credit card number or your bank account login!* What could go wrong?

    One of Insider’s sources said of all Elon’s lofty goals that “It doesn’t seem to be what users really want,” but that source is obviously no fun. Also no fun? Twitter’s employees:

    Despite Musk’s attempt during the meeting to boost the future of X, its remaining employees are not convinced. Several employees submitted questions before the meeting regarding the company’s financial state as advertisers and users continue to flee the platform. People also asked about its current valuation, of which one of the people said there has still been “zero transparency.”

    Yeah, well, now Elon has transparently said that he has shat away approximately 55 percent of the purchase price of the company, isn’t that transparent?

    This is all going exactly how we thought it would, warmest regards all around.

  200. says

    American television networks exercised caution on Monday with a new video released by Hamas showing three Israeli hostages.

    Throughout the morning and afternoon, CNN anchors told viewers that the network had opted against showing the video. “We as a network are choosing not to broadcast those hostage videos from Hamas at this point,” anchor Dana Bash said.

    During the 1 p.m. hour, anchor Wolf Blitzer asked correspondent Nic Robertson to describe the video, in which one hostage heavily criticizes Israel’s leadership and strategy. “You begin to get the picture that this is the sort of language that Hamas wants to spread, and this unfortunate hostage may not have a great deal of choice about what she is saying,” Robertson said. (An on-screen graphic conveyed that the network was “unable to verify” the context of the video nor the condition of the three hostages.)

    MSNBC aired a brief snippet of the video, but excluded the audio. “We are still looking into this and whether this is sheer propaganda,” correspondent Josh Lederman explained.

    Lederman said it was unclear whether the hostages were forced to participate in the video. But anchor Andrea Mitchell concurred with an Israeli government spokesperson who appeared on her program to argue that the circumstances of the video represent “the definition of duress.”

    Mitchell added: “I want to point out that we’re not playing their comments or even quoting from them or showing them on screen for that very reason: They’re obviously under duress and it’s horrendous that it’s being used that way.”

    The Washington Post has not linked to or shared the video in its online coverage, though one story described its contents. A Post spokesperson said the company does not publish videos of hostages used for propaganda purposes.

    Across the pond, the BBC opted to use a still photograph from the video, with correspondent Lyse Doucet informing viewers that “the BBC doesn’t normally broadcast hostage videos.”

    Washington Post link

  201. says

    NBC News link

    An Israeli doctor expressed concern for the health of three female hostages who appeared in a video released earlier today by Hamas’ military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades.

    “You can see that they are living, they are conscious, they don’t have a clear sign of injuries,” said Dr. Hagai Levine, head of medicine for The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, a volunteer group that’s supporting the families of people held captive by Hamas.

    “We do see that they lost weight compared to their regular status,” Levine said. He noted that one of the women normally wears glasses but appears in the video without any.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified the three hostages on Monday as Rimon Buchshtab Kirsht, Danielle Aloni and Yelena Trupanob.

    Levine said their mental and physical conditions could deteriorate if they don’t receive independent medical care.

    “Clearly they are under extreme stress and even just filming them is a kind of torture,” he said. “The entire situation is un-human and very, extremely hazardous to health.”

  202. says

    NBC News:

    The United Auto Workers strike is set to end as the union and General Motors announced a tentative agreement on a new contract Monday, according to sources cited by CNBC. The breakthrough comes just days after similar deals with Ford and Stellantis.

  203. says

    NBC News:

    At least six people were killed and over 40 were injured in multiple mass shootings across the country during the Halloween weekend […]

  204. says

    Wall Street Journal:

    At least 43 people were killed and 36 have been reported missing after Hurricane Otis slammed into Mexico’s Pacific coast, bringing devastation to the popular beach resort of Acapulco […]

  205. says

    Oh FFS.
    False claim John Kerry pushed for mass human sacrifice as climate solution | Fact check

    The claim: John Kerry says billions of people must be sacrificed to save the planet

    An Oct. 25 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) shows a screenshot of an article purporting to quote U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

    “John Kerry: ‘We Must Sacrifice Billions Of Humans To Save Planet Earth,’” the headline reads.

    It was liked more than 600 times in two days.

    Our rating: False

    A spokesperson for Kerry said the claim was false. It distorts comments Kerry made during a summit in August. The claim originated on a website that has previously published misinformation.

    No mention of human sacrifice in Kerry’s speech in Scotland

    The screenshot is from an Oct. 22 story by The People’s Voice, a website known for publishing misinformation. It claims Kerry declared during an August speech in Scotland that “billions of human beings must be sacrificed in order to save planet Earth from imminent destruction.”

    Kerry spokesperson Chad Houghton called the claim “ridiculous” and “obviously false” in an email to USA TODAY.

    The U.S. special presidential envoy for climate gave the keynote address at the Scottish Global Dialogues in August in Edinburgh, Scotland. In his speech, he said limiting the planet’s average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius – an internationally agreed-upon goal – is possible. He also called out entities he said distort evidence of the climate emergency for political or personal gain.

    But the former secretary of state did not mention anything about mass human sacrifice, according to an official transcript of his remarks posted to the State Department’s website. The word “sacrifice” does not appear in it, and the word “billion” was used only in the context of dollar amounts.

  206. Reginald Selkirk says

    Judge rules Kansas can’t enforce new law on abortion pills or make patients wait 24 hours

    A Kansas judge on Monday put a new state law on medication abortions on hold and blocked older restrictions that for years have spelled out what providers must tell patients and forced patients to wait 24 hours to end their pregnancies.

    The ruling was another big victory for abortion rights advocates in Kansas, where a statewide vote in August 2022 decisively confirmed protections for abortion access under the state constitution. District Judge K. Christopher Jayaram’s order suspends some restrictions that have been in effect for years. The waiting period had been in place since 1997…

  207. StevoR says

    Apparently, the mighty social media algae rythmns are censoring or making much less visible any posts mentioning the grim events in the global region around the Africa-Asia border notably the nation with the blue star made of two triangles on its flag and the conflict there. Something some folks might want to note and use cicrcumlocution and subtle phrasing to get around. Seen several mentions of this on social media – specifically fb – from a number of people.

    I guess quite a lot of people here will already be aware of this? Still, PSA for those who might not be..

  208. StevoR says

    If police already aren’t accoutable and often racist what about the not actually police police?

    These are guards from the private security firms paid millions of dollars by the Northern Territory government. In Darwin’s northern suburbs and nearby Palmerston, guards from the Public Order Response Unit (PORU), a new division of the company Neptune NT, walk the streets with dogs. In Darwin’s CBD, it’s the “blue shirts” — guards from a company called Territory Protective Services (TPS). Day and night, they can be seen patrolling the CBD on foot.

    …(Snip).. “They don’t administer any by-laws,” Lord Mayor Kon Vatskallis says. “They can’t, legally; the only thing they do is they detect a problem.” But they seem to be doing more than that.
    ..(snip)..
    Nathias Young, a Ngarinman man from the remote Aboriginal community of Yarralin, says he was “singing out” to his uncle and charging his phone one afternoon in the Darwin CBD when he was approached by security patrolling the streets. “That blue shirt mob grabbed me by my shirt, nearly ripped my shirt off and nearly choked my neck, that’s wrong,” Nathias says. “That’s stupid you know, and I was really drunk … they pushed me and tell me to go, and they were telling me to jump in the bus.” His uncle, a Ngaliwurru man from Timber Creek, Claude Paddy, says Nathias was just minding his own business.“Then that security came and pushed him around,” says Claude. Nathias says security forced him on a bus out of town, in a direction he didn’t want to go. “They do that to a lot of people in Darwin … they do that for every Aboriginal person — tell us to go, tell us to, you know, f**k off or something.” He had to walk back into the CBD, where he met up with his uncle. Both say security guards told them they were banned from the CBD. “They just tell us we’re banned from the CBD for nothing,” Nathias says. TPS security did not respond to questions about the incident.

    Nyikina and Jabirra Jabirra woman Natalie Hunter, founder of the Territory’s Aboriginal legal aid, NAAJA, worries the patrols are harming some of the community’s most vulnerable. “Over the past year and a half, I would say I found security completely under-skilled, unqualified when dealing with families … just how they’re treating Aboriginal people,” she says.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-30/private-security-policing-darwin-city-four-corners/103013202

  209. says

    Ukraine Update: Five months in, Ukraine’s counteroffensive has not achieved a breakthrough

    From the start, Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has been a disaster. It’s been a disaster for dictator Vladimir Putin and Russia on every level. The vaunted “second-best army in the world” has been revealed as a creaking hulk whose aging gear is beset with neglect and corruption. Its command structure turns out to be a hollow shell, where commanders have been swapped out on political whims and the only two effective strategies have been advancing through an extraordinary expenditure of artillery or a sickening use of human “meat waves.”

    At one point, the Ukrainian military estimated that Russia was going through 60,000 artillery shells a day, with many of those shells over 30 years old. Western officials didn’t put the peak rate quite so high, but still estimated that Russia had burned through 10 million shells in the first year of fighting (an average of around 27,400 per day). More importantly, Ukraine estimates that Russia will soon pass 300,000 soldiers lost, a number that aligns well with recent estimates from British intelligence. At the same time, Russia has confirmed losses that include 2,400 tanks, thousands more armored vehicles, and 16 naval vessels. That last figure includes the guided missile cruiser Moskva and a kilo-class submarine.

    But this war has also been a disaster for Ukraine. Not only has Ukraine suffered terrible military losses and seen its economy pummeled, Russia has rained down destruction in the form of missiles and drones, causing damage and killing thousands of civilians all over Ukraine. At this moment, roughly 17% of Ukrainian territory remains occupied by Russian forces. And when, or how, Ukraine gets that territory back remains unclear.

    Even when all the military losses are added together, it doesn’t begin to cover the price Russia has paid for Putin’s folly. Russia might have enjoyed decades of solid income from European gas pipelines, built more economic ties, and worked toward solidifying a position at the head of an alternative to Western consortiums. The war took all that away and burned it beyond hope of recovery.

    It turned Russia into a pariah state that is forced to sell its oil and gas at a massive discount after being shut out of much of the world market. Russia’s central bank has essentially given up trying to halt the ruble’s plummeting value and has just raised interest rates to 15%. Russian defense spending is up by 70%, inflation is soaring, average income is collapsing, and Russia is unable to produce new military equipment at anywhere near the rate required to replace what’s being lost.

    None of this is improving. In Russia’s recent attempts to capture Avdiivka, they have lost an estimated 4.000 men. More tanks than can be produced in a month were reported lost in a single day.

    Russian military bloggers have played up the attempt to encircle Avdiivka as the “first step to capturing Kyiv.” That’s not going to happen. Russia has already been on the outskirts of Kyiv once, and they got their asses kicked.

    But—and this is a “but” no one is going to like—even if Russia has lost, that doesn’t mean Ukraine is about to win. Ukraine may have already passed up its opportunities for the kind of gains that would definitively eject Russian forces and achieve a thorough victory.

    It’s been five months since Ukraine opened its counteroffensive in the south. In that time, Ukrainian forces have made small advances at Lobkove and Pyatykhatky on the west, at Robotyne on the road to Tokmak, and along a 30-kilometer line south of Velyka Novosilka. Despite these gains, Ukraine achieved breakthroughs in none. Altogether, when all the areas of fighting in the south are added up, it amounts to around 200 square kilometers. Viewed from any distance, the change in lines of control between June and October is barely visible. [map at the link]

    Don’t take this the wrong way—Ukraine has come out ahead in every one of those directions. It has gained territory, moved through minefields and lines of defense, and lost far fewer vehicles and troops in the process than Russia has spent in a failed effort to hold on to every one of those lost kilometers.

    It’s just that Ukraine’s victories, no matter how costly for either side, have been tactical. They have not taken strategic prizes like Tokmak or Melitopol. They are not even close to doing so.

    The primary reason for Ukraine’s slow progress in the south isn’t hard to identify: Russia has constructed thousands of kilometers of overlapping trenches, minefields, and fortifications. When this construction project began in fall of 2022, with Russia constructing trenches dozens of kilometers away from what were then the front lines, it seemed completely laughable. But as Russia expanded these efforts into a project that walled off whole sections of Ukraine, it became obvious that any offensive in the south was going to be fighting its way through kilometers of minefields and dozens of defensive lines.

    Ukraine knew this. It watched those lines being built. And then it charged right in and attacked Russia in the areas where those minefields were widest and defensive lines most developed.

    It’s extremely easy to armchair-general that decision, and that’s exactly what dozens of analysts are doing on social media today. As easy as it is for those with literally no skin in the game to sit back and criticize decisions made with tens of thousands of lives on the line, it’s hard to get away from the idea that Ukraine made some choices that nearly guaranteed five months’ worth of churn was going to net minimal gains.

    First, the initial attack to the south, which was made in the area of Robotyne, was quickly withdrawn after several Western vehicles were lost in the first two days of fighting. Then, when Ukraine began fighting south of Kamyansk near the former edge of the Dnipro reservoir, it seemed to make more rapid progress, only to halt that attempt when Russia stiffened its resistance about 4 km from the previous front line.

    The area south of Velyka Novosilka seemed to offer a better opportunity to move into an area where Russia’s defensive lines were less well developed, and Ukraine moved to quickly take villages like Storozheve and Makarivka. In weeks of fighting, Ukrainian forces maneuvered to take high ground and solidified their hold on liberated villages against dozens of Russian attempts to push them back. However, after a difficult fight to take Staromaiorske and Urozhaine, Ukraine seemed to stop again. The fighting in this area continues, especially in the fields and treelines east of Urozhaine, but any drive to the south has slowed to a crawl.

    Finally, Ukraine settled on an attack at the same place where it started: Robotyne. A huge effort went into fully securing that town, and Russia’s losses attempting to halt Ukraine were high. Pressing east toward the town of Verbove, Ukraine succeeded in advancing not just across secondary defensive lines, but across the full panoply of minefield, dragon’s teeth, vehicle ditch, and personnel trenches. In the past two weeks, Ukraine has secured an expanded section of the Russian defensive lines, pushed Russian forces from the end of those lines, and taken firm control of the area about 1 kilometer west of Verbove. However, Russia remains in control of Verbove and of Novoprokopivka to the south of Robotyne.

    Since Oct. 9, some of the slow pace in the south can be attributed to the necessity of relocating resources to deal with Russia’s attempted encirclement of Avdiivka. Unlike Bakhmut, Avdiivka has considerable strategic importance in preserving Ukraine’s defensive positions and keeping the fight close to Russian-occupied Donetsk. Russia’s losses at Avdiivka have been jaw-dropping, and to the extent that forces moved from Zaporizhzhia contributed to the outcome so far, this falls under the category of Totally Worth It.

    However, this does not mean that progress before that date was not disappointing. Yes, Russia continues to lose forces at a furious rate. Yes, Ukraine is constantly improving both its homegrown technology and its integration of Western equipment. (American M1 Abrams tanks have been in the country for five weeks, and we’ve yet to see them in action.) Yes, Russia may have so weakened itself at Avdiivka, and so depleted reserves in other locations, that Ukraine may be days away from a genuine breakthrough.

    That’s possible. But we shouldn’t count on it.

    Fighting in the south will most likely continue to look like what we’ve seen so far—dense and difficult, with minefields and defensive positions increasing the effectiveness of artillery and drones.

    Ukraine did have other choices. It could have placed the bulk of its forces in the north and driven toward the transport hub at Starobilsk, picking up Svatove and Kreminna along the way. Russia moved considerable forces to the area over the winter and currently has a reported 120,000 troops north of Bakhmut. However, this area does not have the extensive fortifications seen in the south and Ukraine would be able to match its Western gear more directly and effectively with Russia’s increasingly aging lineup.

    This could still happen. However, even though fall in Ukraine has so far been exceptionally warm and relatively dry, mud season is still coming and nowhere gets muddier than Kharkiv and Luhansk. It was essentially that mud that slowed Ukraine’s movements after liberating Lyman one year ago. Russia was able to bring in reinforcements along the paved roads to Starobilsk and other points in the east. Ukraine was struggling through a series of villages connected mostly with dirt roads west of that Svatove to Kreminna line.

    Rather than pick up that fight in the spring, Ukraine moved its focus south. That probably seemed like a good idea. Drier, sandier soil in that region seems to offer more flexible use of armor. The strategic targets there, particularly Melitopol and Mariupol, are the most important in this war. Cutting a path to the sea would make the threat to Crimea infinitely more real. And if Ukraine had been able to brush aside Russia’s defensive lines, both the tactical victory and gain in morale would have been tremendous.

    Ukraine was likely encouraged by Western training and gear that, on paper at least, was more than capable of dealing with the old-school defenses Russia had prepared. Many (including me) derisively compared them to France’s Maginot Line fortifications, easily brushed aside by the Nazis in World War II. However, making the best use of that gear takes more training, more experience, and more coordinated units than has been possible with Ukraine’s hurriedly patched-together, Western-style battalions.

    Back in August, U.S. intelligence fretted that Ukraine wasn’t at a stalemate, but had been unable to achieve a breakthrough. The Pentagon reportedly criticized Ukraine on several points: a failure to concentrate forces in a single area, an unwillingness to give junior officers the flexibility to follow up on opportunities as they develop, and a reluctance to accept the level of losses necessary to sustain a breakthrough.

    Multiple analysts have pointed to how Ukraine moved to withdraw from the initial attack at Robotyne, rather than press forward despite losses, as a moment when initiative was lost. This, once again, is the kind of thing analysts say when they are far from the battlefield and not trying to safeguard a limited supply of Western-provided tanks driven by green recruits in a military that had no idea when it might get more of either.

    There seems little doubt that Ukraine has been trying to secure what it can while limiting its losses. That reduced-risk strategy may seem even more sensible when Ukraine looks up to see that additional funding and supplies from the United States are very much threatened by Republican leadership in the House.

    It’s one thing to charge ahead, heedless of danger, when you’re willing to pave the path to gaining a lone kilometer with enough bodies to line the route a dozen times over. But Volodymyr Zelenskyy is not Putin. As he has demonstrated again and again, Zelenskyy actually cares about the lives that are being lost in this war.

    Ukraine may make that breakthrough tomorrow. Russia’s reserves may be depleted. Russia’s air support has certainly been heavily thinned. The massive supply of old equipment and disdained prisoner brigades that have allowed Russia to act with such conspicuous consumption may be largely exhausted. It may not take years of slow grinding to wear Russia’s remaining military to the point where it’s a walkover.

    But at this point, the answer may simply be that for Ukraine to win this war in a reasonable time, it’s going to take a bigger bastard at the helm. That doesn’t mean replacing Zelenskyy, who may be the world’s genuinely most indispensable man at this point. But it may take a commander who is willing to accept higher levels of loss in a nation that’s already given so much.

  210. says

    Followup to comment 259.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    It is a rare day I totally disagree with Kos.

    “the answer may simply be that for Ukraine to win this war in a reasonable time…”

    Whut? Stretch out the war, bleed Russia dry. Long term, Ukraine cannot win without Russia falling apart. And that means not just going back to 1991 borders but making sure Russia burns from within. Win the war in reasonable time? No. Take all the time in the world but do it right.
    ———————————-
    Mark Sumner AUTHOR
    I pretty much knew everyone would hate this one before I began. Consider it a gift to all the folks who accuse me of being too optimistic.

    Honestly, I agree with US military analysts who suggest that Ukraine will win, but it’s going to take years to grind Russian forces down. The real question is whether they’ll be able to count on us over those years. I feel much less sanguine about that answer than I do the ability of Ukraine to keep fighting.
    ————————-
    This is another responsibility to add to all the other reasons Democrats have for doing everything possible to obliterate the Republican Party in the next election.
    —————————-
    The good news is Ukraines victory in the Black Sea and what seems like the ability to defeat Russian Air defense particularly in Crimea.
    —————————
    There has been a lot of Telegram chatter suggesting Putin is set on Avdiivka as something he can play up before the election. Could help to explain the strategy there … if you can call it a strategy.
    ——————————
    We want insta-war!! We already have speed dating, fast food and insta punditry, so why cant we have war in an hour, we have other things to do.
    —————————-
    Ukrainian deaths were close to 70,000, with 100,000 to 120,000 wounded [in August].

    We went through 7 years of war in Vietnam with fewer casualties, and we were a nation 5 times the size of Ukraine. We didn’t suffer proportionately a lot more deaths in World War II…and by the end of this, Ukraine will almost certainly have suffered proportionately as many deaths. And that is not even beginning to count the civilian suffering.

    Being more ruthless toward Ukraine’s soldiers will not win this war. As we have seen the ill effects on the morale of territorial defense forces that have endured some of the hardest fighting, it could break Ukraine’s will to resist.

    The only way ruthlessness would help is if directed toward Republican congressmen and senators.
    ————————————
    The USA lost about 405,000 killed in WWII. The USSR (which then included Ukraine) lost 28 million. Mostly civilians.
    ———————————–
    I’m putting this out there because it’s a much milder and more optimistic form of what’s circulating among the OSINT crowd at this point, and pretending that everything was going according to plan would be simply lying. The counteroffensive has been successful in terms of generating enormous losses on the Russian side, but it hasn’t made the territorial gains that either Ukraine or its allies wanted. That’s just how it is. Ukraine is frustrated that it sees wavering support, especially in the US. The US (and UK, and others) are frustrated because battlefield wins help keep politicians aligned in providing assistance. The slow pace of the counteroffensive makes it easier for the pro-Russian faction in both the US and Europe to forward their argument of a settlement—by which they mean abandoning Ukraine under a pretense of peace and then shrugging when Putin cranks up the war engine again. [Correct!]

    […] it’s important that we face the situation and maintain the pressure to keep assistance to Ukraine moving despite a frustrating situation that offers no quick solution.

    And who knows? That breakthrough could be tomorrow.

  211. StevoR says

    As the article here notes there are a few different speculative models of how future supercontinents may evolve so this is speculative if still rather ominously scary – albeit a very extremely long way into a future that none of us are going to see – without time machines anyhow :

    Earth has a supercontinent in its future. In about 250 million years, all of today’s major land masses will pile together into one, just as they did about 300 million years ago to form Pangaea. And when they do, new simulations suggest, it could tip our planet’s climate into an extremely hot state almost entirely uninhabitable for mammals. … (Snip!)..Baseline temperatures that hot would manifest in temperature swings wild enough to kill mammals, which die at temperatures as low as 35°C if it’s very humid. Even in dry air, sustained temperatures above 40°C are deadly. According to the study, just 8% to 25% of Pangaea Ultima would be suitable for mammals, compared with about 66% of Earth’s landmass before human-caused climate change. This would likely trigger a slow-moving mammal mass extinction over tens of millions of years, Mitchell says. Indeed, such a thing happened before. The Late Permian extinction, the Great Dying that killed off some 90% of all species on Earth, played out after the formation of Pangaea.

    Farnsworth doesn’t necessarily think every mammal species would die. Birds survived even as all other dinosaurs bit the dust 66 million years ago. Similarly, a subset of mammals could endure in the heat, Farnsworth says, although a return to the age of reptiles would be more likely.

    Source : https://www.science.org/content/article/earth-s-future-supercontinent-may-be-too-hot-most-mammals

    Of course, that’s assuming mammals make it that far and we haven’t wiped mammals out by then already ourselves.

  212. Silentbob says

    @ 261 StevoR

    As you are well aware, binary Kuiper belt objects Pluto/Charon are definitely not planets. The larger, Pluto, is far too tiny to have any internal heating – almost certainly what you describe is due to gravitational tides from other dominant bodies such as Neptune.

    It’s precisely being in a gravitational resonance with Neptune that disqualifies these tiny bodies as “planets”. The idiotic term “minor planet” was invented to appease schoolchildren crying about Pluto not being a planet, and should not be confused with an actual planet of which there are precisely eight in the solar system.

    IAU definition of planet – Wikipedia
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAU_definition_of_planet

  213. StevoR says

    @263. Silentbob : I am very well aware of the IAU definition – and completely reject it for a number of reasons. The orbital clearence criteria is absurd and it also limits planets to our solar system plus defining dwarf stars as stars – most stars being dwarfs our daytime one included yet dwarf planets somehow NOT planets for no good reason among them.

    Would Earth stop being a planet if it’s orbit suddenly wasn’t clear? If it didn’t orbit our star or was on a collision course? Or was as far out as Pluto is or further? Would Pluto become a planet if nothing else orbited wher eit did or it was moved closer inside our soalr system say replacing Mars?

    The IAU says no, I say don’t be so absurd.

    Personally my planet definintion is an astronomical body that is spherical by its own gravity so not a asteroid or comet, never self-luminous from core nuclear fusion so not a star or brown dwarf and not directly orbiting another planet sonot a moon. Simple, inclusive and reasonable I think.

  214. Reginald Selkirk says

    Kinzinger says family disowned him over loss of Hannity’s trust

    Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said he was disowned by his family after he left Congress and “lost the trust” of Fox News host Sean Hannity.

    “So, I had family that sent a certified letter disowning me,” Kinzinger said in a CNN interview Monday. “They said I’ve lost the trust of great men like Sean Hannity, which is funny, but they believe that. They said I was a member of the devil’s army.” …

    Bolding added to highlight humor
    … What? They weren’t joking?

  215. Reginald Selkirk says

    Graham calls UN the ‘most antisemitic body on the planet’

    Ridiculous. The UN is more antisemitic than Hamas? Or perhaps Hamas doesn’t qualify for his definition of a ‘body’. How about the Arab League? And also, this is more of the right wing posturing that any opposition to the actions of the Israeli government is “antisemitic.”

    Lindsey Graham is a very serious person. /s

  216. says

    Followup to Reginald @267.

    Blumenauer founded and co-chairs the Congressional Bike Caucus and advocated for funding for nationwide bike infrastructure.

  217. says

    WTF?

    ‘Write In Biden’ effort launched in NH

    […] Biden is not participating in New Hampshire’s unsanctioned (and still unscheduled) January primary, which will not comply with the new primary calendar set by the Democratic National Committee intended to give South Carolina the first say in picking presidential nominees. Despite the decision by the president’s campaign, his New Hampshire supporters are pushing voters to write his name in.

    “It’s important to show the world that thousands of New Hampshire voters are supporting President Joe Biden as he protects our freedoms, stands up to the MAGA extremists, keeps us safe and strong at home and abroad, and builds an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” a group called Write In Biden wrote in a launch email. “While misguided DNC rules will keep Joe Biden off the presidential primary ballot here in our state, New Hampshire Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents overwhelmingly support Joe Biden and plan to write him in when our state once again holds the first-in-the-nation primary this winter.” […]

  218. says

    […] The Republican National Committee’s online account intends to expose “the lies, hypocrisy, and failed far-left policies of Joe Biden.” It’s against this backdrop that the RNC has made a powerful case that the president likes dogs, ice cream, and joking around with children.

    If Biden were nearly as bad as his partisan critics like to suggest, wouldn’t the RNC’s account have better content?

    Link

  219. says

    GOP’s new Israel aid bill includes a ridiculous ‘poison pill’

    House Republicans have effectively declared, “We’ll only assist Israel if we can undermine the IRS and help tax cheats while making the deficit bigger.”

    […] For one thing, the funding doesn’t need to be offset. For another, the whole point of budget offsets is to prevent making the deficit worse, and taking money from the IRS necessarily has the opposite of the intended effect.

    […] the specific provisions of the House GOPs’ bill target, among other things, tax enforcement and IRS operations support.

    In other words, House Republicans have effectively declared, “We’ll assist Israel, but only if we can undermine federal law enforcement and help tax cheats in a way that makes the budget deficit bigger.”

    It’s likely that GOP leaders are simply playing a tiresome game. They’ll bring this bill to the floor, Democrats will reject its absurdities, and Republican strategists will start preparing attack ads that claim Democrats “voted against assisting Israel during a deadly war.”

    […] The next steps should come into focus fairly quickly. The House will return to work on Wednesday, at which point the Rules Committee will take up the GOP’s bill. A floor vote is expected before the end of the week.

    But stepping back, this is the first real governing test for the new House speaker and the overhauled Republican leadership team. It’s a test Johnson is failing.

    This is not the sort of step a governing party would take if it were serious about providing assistance to a foreign ally in the midst of a security crisis. Rather, this is what we’d expect from an unserious party that’s prioritizing partisan games […]

  220. says

    A federal grand jury in Atlanta has returned an indictment against Arthur Ray Hanson II, of Huntsville, Alabama, accusing him of transmitting interstate threats to injure Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Sheriff Patrick Labat in retaliation for the prosecution of Donald Trump. Hanson left two threatening voicemails after calling the Fulton County Government customer services line, prosecutors alleged.

    According to the Justice Department, Hanson’s threats against Willis in one voicemail included:
    – “watch it when you’re going to the car at night, when you’re going into your house, watch everywhere that you’re going”
    – “I would be very afraid if I were you because you can’t be around people all the time that are going to protect you”
    – “there’s gonna be moments when you’re gonna be vulnerable”
    – “when you charge Trump on that fourth indictment, anytime you’re alone, be looking over your shoulder”
    – “what you put out there, [expletive], comes back at you ten times harder, and don’t ever forget it.”

    Link

  221. says

    Nevada Man Charged With Alleged Anti-Semitic Threats To Jewish Senator

    John Anthony Miller of Las Vegas faces federal charges in Nevada for allegedly leaving threatening, anti-Semitic voicemails for Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who is Jewish. Among the threats Miller allegedly made in the voicemails, according to the criminal complaint:

    “All these fucking lies is in your fucking hands, you fucking [B-word], and I’m gonna fucking see you soon, you fucking sellout fucking [F-word that is a slur against gay men] [B-word].”

    “You just fucking woken up a motherfucking monster, you fucking piece of shit unhuman, subhuman, you’re vermin, [B-word], you are vermin, [B-word], and we’re gonna finish what Hitler started you fucking slut.”

    “You done picked your side [B-word] and you done chose evil. I don’t give a fuck if you were born into it or not, [B-word], you are fucking evil, [B-word] and we’re gonna exterminate you, fuck.”

    Same link as comment 274. Scroll down.

  222. Reginald Selkirk says

    Largest Christian university in US faces record fine after federal probe into alleged deception

    The country’s largest Christian university is being fined $37.7 million by the federal government amid accusations that it misled students about the cost of its graduate programs.

    Grand Canyon University, which has more than 100,000 students, mostly in online programs, faces the largest fine of its kind ever issued by the U.S. Education Department. The university dismissed the allegations as “lies and deceptive statements.” …

  223. says

    Ukraine update: A very, very close look at Avdiivka

    On Tuesday, Ukraine’s official tally of Russian troop losses topped 300,000. The toll on both sides in this failed, illegal, and unprovoked invasion is sickening, but Russia’s willingness to continue feeding men into a meat grinder, often for little or no visible achievement, is incredible—in the worst sense of that word.

    At Bakhmut, at Lyman, and at numerous locations in Kherson before its withdrawal west and south of the Dnipro River, Russia has demonstrated a capacity for wasting lives that is almost as puzzling as it is disturbing. Something similar is happening in southern Ukraine right now, as Russia continually tries to retake lost positions even when Ukraine is well positioned to defend the area. The result has been stunning losses.

    However, nowhere may illustrate Russia’s indifference to death more than the events that have taken place this month near the town of Avdiivka. In three weeks, Russia has thrown away between 4,000 and 6,500 men, hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, and trucks in an attempt to encircle this location. The result has been a scrapyard of wrecked machinery that exceeds even Russia’s disastrous assault on Vuhledar or the triple-down fiasco of the failed bridge at Bilohorivka.

    Unlike the battlefield at Bakhmut, which spreads out over 20 kilometers, with the city itself spanning more than 7 kilometers, the area at Avdiivka is relatively small. An advance of 6 kilometers in total would be enough to cut off the town and isolate any forces remaining inside. [map at the link]

    Russia’s losses at Avdiivka have been tremendous. Its gains have been minimal. However, it has made gains. The waste hill—also known as the “Terrikon”—now seems to be under Russian control after being disputed earlier in the month. Russia has spread out along the rail line on the north and threatens to move into the complex of factories associated with making coke from the coal mined in this location.

    This video from United24, a Ukraine-run platform for donations to support the country, does a good job of explaining both the importance of Avdiivka and the nature of Russian attacks in the area. [video at the link]

    Attacks in the area are continuing. A big part of pushing Russian losses above the 300,000 level on Tuesday is tied to five attempted assaults that were repulsed in the early part of the day. In these, Russia continued to attempt to move forces across the rail line in the north and out of Vodyane on the south. Ukrainian forces report that all these Russian attempts were repulsed. However, fighting in the area remains intense.

    On Monday, a Bradley fighting vehicle was lost, and on Tuesday, a Leopard 2A6 was damaged. Russian sources are celebrating these losses as if they vindicate the entire offensive, with one Russian state media source claiming that the “last” Leopard tanks had been sent to Avdiivka after Russia had devastated them elsewhere. At present, confirmed losses of Leopard tanks total 19, with about half of those being damaged tanks that may return to service. That’s out of 75 Leopard 2s and 165 Leopard 1s so far sent to Ukraine. So if Russians are expecting these tanks to disappear from the battlefield any time soon, they’re going to be disappointed. What has been lost at Avdiivka are a lot of Russian T-90s and at least two thermobaric rocket-carrying TOS-1s.

    Right now, Ukraine’s 53rd Mechanized Brigade seems to have movements on the south side of the Avdiivka salient under control. Russian forces trying to close the gap from this side are forced to move directly into open fields, and Ukrainian forces stationed near Tonenke have been taking them down with artillery and drones almost as soon as they appear. [Tweet and video at the link]

    It’s the north side where Russia has made some gains, even if the cost is high. It’s also the north side where Russia could be close to accomplishing something that will make the defense of Avdiivka more difficult. [map at the link]

    This is that “Terrikon” (which is a Ukrainian term for mine waste) mound of tailings and, right across the railroad tracks, the factories where the coal was turned into coke (not the drink) used in making steel. The colored areas of control have been removed from this image to make details more visible.

    Russia earlier managed to place a flag on top of the waste dump only to have it taken out by a Ukrainian drone. The area around the hill is now evaluated as under Russian control, and the Terrikon offers the highest ground in the area. However, it’s not clear that the Terrikon offers the kind of high-ground advantage that might otherwise be expected, which is why we don’t see any obvious Ukrainian defensive structures on it. Thanks to some nice satellite imagery from Maxar, Google Earth now offers resolution in this area down to about 30 cm, meaning that even the image above isn’t close to showing all the wrinkles, folds, and blocks of loose stone that can be seen. But this provides a good sense of what this hill is actually like: [Google Earth closeup view at the link]

    Ramps on either side show where large mining trucks hauled tons of material to the top and dumped it while bulldozers and scrapers flattened the top. The center of the Terrikon is a depressed section of the old mine pit, making the whole thing seem almost like a volcano in profile.

    That flat lip on the southwest corner seems like a dead-perfect place to position artillery and cover not just the factory complex but the highway 2 kilometers away as well as Ukrainian forces in the center of Avdiivka about 3.5 kilometers to the south. But the problem with this location as an artillery platform is that everything had to be dragged up those big ramps and positioned on top of the hill, without anything that even resembles cover. With the role that drones have played in this war, anything sitting up there will meet the same fate as that first Russian flag—despite the flag being planted in the more protected interior: [Tweets, image, and video at the link]

    As the many gullies and slumped areas show, this is also not the most stable pile of broken rocks and weathered clay in the world. Speaking from personal experience with decades of experience in the mining industry, I can say that this stuff is going to be goopier and slicker than a giant mound of snot when there is the least amount of rain in the area. Getting up to the high ground will not be easy. Staying up there will be harder.

    Russia’s immediate target is the complex of factories. If Russia can infiltrate these buildings and drive Ukrainian forces back, they will have a base from which they can expand toward Ukrainian forces in the center of Avdiivka, as well as protected positions from which they can fire on Ukrainian supply lines.

    The distance from the base of the Terrikon to the nearest large factory buildings is only about 600 meters. In that space, two large forested areas provide significant cover. This is exactly what makes this spot so very tempting for Russia. It’s also why this space now has more dead Russian equipment than the suburbs of Kyiv.

    Artillery—and, in particular, the cluster munitions that the United States began providing only recently—have been key to holding this location. Ukrainian sources have complained that if they had enough artillery and more precision-guided weapons, they could hit the Russian forces kilometers away from the area where they are forming up assaults. Instead, Ukraine waits for each wave to emerge and then tries to pulverize it before it can cross the open space.

    If you want to get a sense of what is happening to Russian forces at Avdiivka, this video is worth watching. It shows the 109 Russian destroyed vehicles geolocated from just the first two days (Oct. 9 and Oct. 10) of the Russian attack. [video at the link]

    Throughout October, Russia lost a lot more equipment in those same areas. In addition to the rising tally of tanks, armored vehicles, and trucks, Russia has paid another big cost: aircraft. Russia’s use of air support in their Avdiivka attacks was an early sign that this operation was more significant than their usual probing assaults. Since Oct. 9, at least 10 aircraft have been reported destroyed near Avdiivka, including a Su-25 reportedly shot down on Monday. For the moment, Ukraine seems to be holding. Russia may or may not actually control the Terrikon waste mound, but even if they do, its utility is in doubt.

    Heavy fighting continues. Russia’s strategy appears unchanged. There have been reports that Putin wants Avdiivka taken in time to celebrate its capture in advance of the Russian elections in March 2024. It would certainly be nice to disappoint him.
    ——————————–
    For months, it has been easy to ignore the Ukrainian presence on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River. Russia must have found Ukraine’s initial excursion force near the Antonivka Bridge irritating, and they certainly made repeated efforts to crush that small force, but Ukraine held on even though they lacked the heavy vehicles necessary to mount a significant attack on the town of Oleshky to the south.

    Then Ukraine managed to make another crossing near the railroad bridge at Prydniprovska. And another up near Krynky. At this point, Ukraine controls a section of the riverfront almost 60 kilometers long. Recent reports have indicated that the number of Ukrainian forces at each of these crossing points number in the hundreds, and there have been reports of Ukraine establishing a position in Krynky. [Tweet and video at the link]

    There still aren’t any indications that Ukraine has either repaired any of the damaged bridge infrastructure or created a pontoon crossing. But it seems as if Ukraine is reaching the point where the idea that they can’t liberate an occupied town without more heavy gear may soon be tested.

    I’m putting this here, but it is definitely not confirmed. [Tweet and video at the link: “Ukrainian flag raised in recently liberated village […] must be Krynky.]
    ———————————
    Meanwhile, 10 kilometers south of Avdiivka …[Tweet and video of fire in occupied Donetsk]
    ———————————–
    [List of Russian losses]

  224. says

    NBC News:

    The House and the Senate are at odds over how to proceed with President Joe Biden’s sweeping funding request for foreign aid and national security goals. On Tuesday, the Senate sought to bolster its position of approving the measure in one package at a hearing called ‘A Review of the National Security Supplemental Request,’ where Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made their case for the full spending measure.

  225. says

    NBC News:

    Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesperson, said in a post on X that the Houthis, a group of Iran-backed Shia rebels in Yemen, ‘launched a large number of ballistic and winged missiles’ at Israeli targets. He wrote that the group ‘will continue to carry out more qualitative missile and drone attacks’ until Israel’s ‘aggression’ against Palestinians in Gaza ends.

  226. says

    NBC News:

    The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Jack Lew to be the new U.S. ambassador to Israel as Congress gears up for a fight over how to provide funding to support Israel in its war against Hamas.

    Only two Republicans voted for Jack Lew.

  227. says

    Washington Post:

    Gen. Eric Smith, the Marine Corps’ top officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was hospitalized Sunday night after suffering what military officials said was a health emergency.

    Smith had been working 18-hour days, in large part due to Senator Tommy Tuberville’s blockage of military promotions.

    A D.C. police official linked the incident to the reported cardiac arrest of a man on Sunday evening about a block from Smith’s residence at Marine Barracks Washington. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, said he had no other information to provide.

    A senior spokesman with the D.C. fire department, Noah Gray, said in a statement that emergency responders treated “a cardiac arrest” on Sunday near 7th and G Streets in Southeast Washington. Bystanders called 911 and began CPR after witnessing “an adult male collapse on the sidewalk while running,” Gray said.

    Emergency medical technicians and paramedics transported the man to a nearby hospital, Gray said, adding that he could not comment on or identify the patient.

    Smith ascended to the Marine Corps’ top job in late September, attaining Senate approval amid an acrimonious and ongoing political feud that, for much of the year, has halted movement on nearly all other senior military nominations put forward by President Biden. The blockade, imposed by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) in protest of the Pentagon’s abortion policy, has affected hundreds of positions throughout the force.

    Smith was previously the service’s assistant commandant, a post that remains vacant amid the Senate’s ongoing gridlock. That has left the general to shoulder the responsibilities of both jobs since July, when his predecessor retired.

    Speaking at a conference days before last month’s confirmation vote, Smith described feeling exhausted by his daily work schedule, which at that time, he said, often began at 5 a.m. and did not conclude until 11:30 p.m. “It is not a sustainable thing,” the general told those in attendance, according to an account by the independent Marine Corps Times. […]

  228. Reginald Selkirk says

    Now Russians accused of pwning JFK taxi system to sell top spots to cabbies

    For a period of two years between September 2019 and September 2021, two Americans and two Russians allegedly compromising the taxi dispatch system at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to sell cabbies a place at the front of the dispatch line.

    The two Russian nationals, Aleksandr Derebenetc and Kirill Shipulin, were indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to commit computer intrusions, the US Justice Department said on Tuesday. They remain at large.

    In early October, the two American nationals, Daniel Abayev and Peter Leyman, who were indicted last year, pleaded guilty, each to one count of conspiring to commit computer intrusions.

    “As alleged in the indictment, these four defendants conspired to hack into the taxi dispatch system at JFK airport,” said US Attorney Damian Williams in a statement. “Cyber hacking can pose grave threats to infrastructure systems that we rely on every day, and our Office is dedicated to pursuing criminal hackers, whether they be in Russia or here in New York.” …

  229. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘There is no ban’: Republicans test-drive new abortion messaging

    The ad opens with the sound of a fetal heartbeat.

    “Most people believe that abortion at the moment of birth is wrong, far beyond any reasonable limit. Not Virginia Democrats,” a female narrator says, just before the sound of a baby cooing and crying. “They fought to make late-term abortions the rule, not the exception.”

    At the end of the ad, the heartbeat flatlines.

    The digital ad, released in the last few weeks by the Virginia Republican party, is part of a six-figure effort to win over voters ahead of Virginia’s state legislative elections on 7 November. It aims to portray Democrats as abortion extremists and Republicans as champions of a reasonable compromise on a notoriously controversial issue. And it’s a new, risky Republican strategy – led by Virginia’s Republican governor,
    – to recast abortion as a winning issue, after the supreme court’s overturning of Roe v Wade last year led the GOP to underperform in the 2022 midterms…

    Eric Arthur Blair died much too young.

  230. Reginald Selkirk says

    Virginia admits thousands of voters wrongly purged days before election

    Virginia election officials wrongly removed almost 3,400 eligible voters from the state’s voter rolls, a significant error that has caused alarm among voting rights groups just days before critical state elections that will determine which party controls the state legislature.

    Officials announced the number of voters affected by the purge on Friday – more than 10 times the number of people they had initially said were affected. Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for the governor, Glenn Youngkin, had told the Washington Post on 6 October that at least 270 people had been wrongly removed and that officials didn’t expect that number to rise much. Officials declined to provide updates on the number affected until Friday, when they announced that the actual number was “nearly 3,400” (they did not provide an exact figure). VPM, Virginia’s NPR affiliate, first reported on the issue in September…

  231. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 287

    Trust me, “I’m a Christian” was just as disturbing before the “Trump era” as it is during.

  232. Reginald Selkirk says

    Here’s a rare look at Google’s most lucrative search queries

    Not all Google searches make Google money. Google often says that it only shows ads on about 20 percent of queries, the ones it calls “commercial queries.” …

    Okay, here are the top 20 queries for that week ordered by revenue:

    iphone 8
    iphone 8 plus
    auto insurance
    car insurance
    cheap flights
    car insurance quotes
    direct tv
    online colleges
    at&t
    hulu
    iphone
    uber
    spectrum
    comcast
    xfinity
    insurance quotes
    free credit report
    cheap car insurance
    aarp
    lifelock

  233. says

    As Team Trump considers a possible second term, it’s reportedly concluded that lawyers associated with the Federalist Society simply aren’t radical enough.

    When Donald Trump and his team hired attorneys to work in the White House, they didn’t exactly turn to the ACLU or the American Constitution Society for applicants. The then-president and his aides hired exactly the kind of lawyers one would expect to find in a modern Republican administration: conservative legal professionals, with predictably partisan backgrounds, and associations with groups such as the Federalist Society.

    In theory, this should’ve worked well for everyone involved. In practice, Trump repeatedly clashed with his own legal team for the worst of all possible reasons: The attorneys told the then-president it was important to honor legal limits and acknowledge legal guardrails, and he didn’t want to.

    Indeed, these lawyers annoyed Trump greatly, not only by reminding him of laws he didn’t like, but also by threatening to resign and occasionally even ignoring his demands. It led the then-president to turn to attorneys who’d tell him what he wanted to hear, rather than give him sound legal advice.

    It’s a problem Team Trump is eager to prevent in the event that American voters reward the Republican with a second term. The New York Times reported:

    Close allies of Donald J. Trump are preparing to populate a new administration with a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term. The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration.

    […] Team Trump’s vision for a second term involves hiring lawyers — for the White House and other agencies throughout the federal government — who’d be willing to embrace “theories that more establishment lawyers would reject.”

    Under this approach, conservative Federalist Society attorneys simply aren’t radical enough. From the article:

    Hard-right allies of Mr. Trump increasingly speak of typical Federalist Society members as “squishes” too worried about maintaining their standing in polite society and their employment prospects at big law firms to advance their movement’s most contentious tactics and goals.
    Russell Vought, Trump’s final budget director, told the Times, “The Federalist Society doesn’t know what time it is.”

    Evidently, Team Trump believes it’s time for a right-wing administration staffed with unrestrained lawyers who’ll smile and nod every time Trump concocts radical plans without regard for the rule of law.

    John Mitnick, who served as a Trump-appointed general counsel of the Homeland Security Department, told the Times that “no qualified attorneys with integrity will have any desire to serve” in a second term. Perhaps not, but therein lies the problem: Is there any reason to believe Team Trump is eager to find qualified attorneys with integrity?

  234. says

    Republicans’ IRS-Slashing ‘Offset’ Adds To Deficit And Loses Revenue

    […] the CBO estimated Wednesday that House Republicans taking an ax to the IRS would both add to the deficit and decrease revenue.

    House Republicans’ Israeli aid bill, which includes what some credulous reporters faithfully parroted as “offsets” to the spending in the form of the IRS cuts, would cause the government to lose out on $26.8 billion in revenue and add $12.5 billion to the deficit over the next decade.

    The House bill — and new Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) first legislative test — was all but doomed from the first, as Democrats are strongly opposed to linking aid to Israel with Republicans’ decades-long quest to hobble the IRS. They made the bill’s inevitable death official in the last few hours.

    “Israel has suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “It needs help. But House Republicans are asking a price for helping them by cutting off funding that holds rich tax cheats accountable. That ain’t happening.”

    “It’s dead almost before it’s born,” he added.

    Schumer’s statement comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s veto threat, sent out Tuesday night.

    “The egregiousness of this particular offset is it adds to the deficit and would help some wealthy individuals and large corporations cheat on their taxes,” the statement said, ending with an underlined sentence: “If the President were presented with this bill, he would veto it.”

    This IRS cut, seemingly incongruous in a bill nominally focused on Israeli aid, is just the latest episode in Republicans’ never-ending thirst to defang the tax regulator.

    In the late ‘90s and again in the mid-2010s, Republicans ginned up scandals within the agency to justify massive cuts that left the agency hollowed out of personnel and bogged down by outdated technology.

    A weakened IRS then struggled to go after the very wealthy and corporations, both of whom have the resources and legal might to make their money hard to find and tax. A 2021 Treasury Department report revealed that the wealthiest one percent of Americans are avoiding paying as much as $163 billion in taxes each year.

    This age-old Republican animosity flared up again when the Inflation Reduction Act was moving through Congress last year, as it funneled some much-needed funding to the beleaguered agency. This time, Republicans cloaked their intent to keep paying taxes optional for the rich in a fantastical conspiracy theory.

    By their lights, the new funding would enable the hiring of 87,000 new armed IRS agents, who would break down the doors of middle America and shoot to kill. None of that, obviously, is true.

    It all drives in the same direction. This time, by linking the IRS cuts to Israeli aid — about as universal a cause as you can find in Congress these days — they tried to give it another shot at life. […]

  235. says

    ‘Deny, deny, deny’: By rejecting claims, Medicare Advantage plans threaten rural hospitals and patients, say CEOs

    Medicare Advantage plans “are taking over Medicare and they are taking advantage of elderly patients,” said the CEO of one Mississippi facility.

    […] Some 31 million Americans have Medicare Advantage plans, private-sector alternatives to Medicare introduced in 2003 by Congress to encourage greater efficiency in health care. Just over half of Americans on Medicare are enrolled in one of the plans offered by large insurance companies, including UnitedHealthcare and Humana.

    Problems are emerging with the plans, however. Last year, a federal audit from 2013 was released showing that 8 of the 10 largest plans had submitted inflated bills to Medicare. As for the quality of care, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a non-partisan agency of Congress, said in a March report that it could not conclude Medicare Advantage plans “systematically provide better quality” over regular Medicare.

    Even worse, because the plans routinely deny coverage for necessary care, they are threatening the existence of struggling rural hospitals nationwide, CEOs of facilities in six states told NBC News. While the number of older Americans who rely on Medicare Advantage in rural areas continues to rise, these denials force the hospitals to eat the increasing costs of care, causing some to close operations and leave residents without access to treatment.

    “They don’t want to reimburse for anything — deny, deny, deny,” Dr. Kenneth Williams, CEO of Alliance HealthCare, said of Medicare Advantage plans. “They are taking over Medicare and they are taking advantage of elderly patients.”

    Williams is something of a local hero in Holly Springs. When the area hospital was in danger of closing in 1999, he marshaled resources and bought it to keep it open. Alliance serves a county with 38,000 people.

    Still, this spring he had to shut down a long-time geriatric psychiatry program that had served the community for over eight years. Coverage denials from Medicare Advantage plans killed the program, Williams said.

    Medicare Advantage plans are sold assiduously by celebrity pitchmen — one is Joe Namath […]

    The U.S. government pays most of beneficiaries’ premiums to the insurers offering the plans.

    Medicare payments to the plans will total $27 billion more in 2023 than if patients were enrolled in traditional Medicare, the report projected.

    […] Humana, the next largest provider, counts 5.3 million Medicare Advantage customers; during the six months that ended June 30, almost 80% of Humana’s $51 billion in premium revenues came from individual Medicare Advantage plans, its filings show.

    Meanwhile, CEOs of rural nonprofit hospital systems in Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, South Dakota and Texas told NBC News that Medicare Advantage plans repeatedly refuse to reimburse them for the care they provide. Some 170 rural hospitals are at risk of closing in those six states alone, according to a report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform […]

    A report last year by the department’s Inspector General found that in June 2019, the 15 top Medicare Advantage plans denied authorization for 13 percent of claims that had met Medicare rules. The plans also denied payment for 18 percent of claims that met Medicare coverage and billing rules, the report said.

    Even when the plans pay, they reimburse providers far less than traditional Medicare, rural hospital CEOs and doctors told NBC News. The plans are effectively rationing health care, these providers said.

    […] They also deny routine tests and refuse to pay for rehabilitation, saying patients should go home before their doctors think it’s wise.

    “Any study we order — X-ray, CT scan, MRI, stress tests — they’re going to deny,” said Craig Pendergrass, a doctor at Ozarks Community Hospital, a nonprofit critical access hospital in Gravette, Arkansas, in the northwest corner of the state. “With straight Medicare we just schedule it.” He estimated that his staff spends one-quarter of each week trying to persuade the plans not to deny the tests or treatment.

    […] The coverage denials the CEOs described to NBC News are similar to those found in last year’s Health and Human Services report. They included erroneous rejections of MRIs and CT scans, paying only for “observation” rather than inpatient care, denials of long-term acute care, rehab, lab tests and medical equipment.

    […] the hospital executives NBC News spoke with say they believe the denials are a strategy by insurers to improve their profits by refusing to pay claims.

    “This world of medical billing is so automated if you’re denying a claim, you’re doing it intentionally,” said Martin, of San Luis Valley Health.

    […] A Medicare Advantage plan recently denied a referral to long-term acute care for a patient with sepsis. When the family practice doctor overseeing the case asked for a peer-to-peer review, the insurance company physician defending the denial was an ob-gyn specialist. “A surgeon that delivers babies maybe isn’t used to handling sepsis,” […]

  236. says

    […] “Trump Org’s Fraudulent Statements Cost Banks $168 Million in Interest, AG’s Financial Expert Testifies”

    […] calculations show approx $168M in lost interest in deals from 2014 to 2023 involving Trump’s Wall Street skyscraper, Doral resort in Florida, the Old Post Office in DC, and Trump’s Chicago hotel.

    […] the interest rates for borrowers increases with the credit risk of the enterprise/project/individual you are lending to. Had Trump’s statements of financial condition more accurately reflected the true value of his assets and liabilities, McCarty explains, the risk premiums for multiple loans would have increased as well. He cites the Doral, the Old Post Office, and Trump Chicago as three examples.

    It’s therefore his view that the banks and other lenders DID lose money. Had they priced the loans based on the real value of Trump’s assets and liabilities, they would have charged higher interest rates and made much more.

    […] Recall the defense has repeatedly argued that none of the banks or other entities that loaned to Trump were in any way injured by those transactions. It’s up to McCarty to demonstrate why that’s a red herring legally and perhaps factually as well.

    Live coverage: NYC civil fraud trial

  237. says

    Followup to comment 296.

    Alina Habba suggests the judge can’t put Trump in jail for violating the gag order because: “He’s protected by the Secret Service. Period.”

    […] Overheard in the elevator: Alina Habba takes a call from Trump. “Hi, sir, I am in the elevator in the courtroom.” Pause. “I will knock them dead.”

    Video at the link in comment 296. Scroll down. Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba was interviewed on NewsMax.

    One example of Ivanka Trump’s involvement:

    NYAG showed the witness another email: this time, Deutsche Banks’ Rosemary Vrablic to Ivanka Trump, dated Feb. 11, 2016.

    Subject: Doral

    “I spoke to the credit team on the $50mm request and we are thrilled to consider it for you.”

  238. says

    Stew Peters began the “died suddenly” covid conspiracy. He’s only just getting started.

    Almost as soon as news of actor Matthew Perry’s death broke last week, anti-vaccine activists began speculating that a Covid shot had caused his untimely passing (the cause of death is still undetermined). This was just the latest example of a trend that began last year, with the advent of the hashtag #DiedSuddenly. The origin of this phrase, as I wrote, was an eponymous film produced by far-right livestreamer Stew Peters:

    The film has been widely debunked, even by some people within the anti-vaccine movement, but that hasn’t stopped it from going viral. By late December, the phrase “died suddenly” was surging on Twitter, with an average of nearly 4,000 mentions per day. Then, on January 2, NFL player Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field from cardiac arrest after a relatively routine tackle. Experts believe the most likely cause was a rare phenomenon called commotio cordis, which can happen if a person receives a blow to the chest between beats of the heart. According to an analysis by the online extremism watchdog group Center for Countering Digital Hate, the morning after the game, the number of mentions skyrocketed to nearly 17,000—an increase of 328 percent. Hamlin did not die—after a week in the hospital, he was discharged—and neither did the hashtag: Months after Hamlin’s collapse, it’s still trending on Twitter. As of February, the phrase was getting a baseline of a couple thousand mentions every day, with spikes every time the internet started speculating about a celebrity death.

    The 16 million people who have watched the film Died Suddenly on the far-right platform Rumble may have been expecting more of what they saw on social media: titillating speculation about Covid vaccines’ role in celebrity deaths. Yet viewers of Died Suddenly encounter much more than just a tired and repeatedly discredited strain of medical misinformation. Its premise is that the vaccines are a tool of global elites who want to “depopulate” the world—a variation on the “Great Reset” narrative that “globalists” like George Soros and Bill Gates orchestrated the pandemic in order to reprogram people to accept a new age of Marxism. This conspiracy theory gained traction in neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups, which are increasingly intermingling with the anti-vaccine movement.

    But Peters, a former bounty hunter, isn’t restricting his work to anti-vaccine advocacy. His 448,000 followers on X and his 546,000 viewers on the far-right platform Rumble also tune in for his anti-LGBTQ anti-immigrant hate speech, as well as his endorsements of the spiraling QAnon conspiracy theory. His anti-vaccine hashtag may be having a resurgence, but since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, Peters has focused on producing a steady stream of content that appears to be in support of the people of Palestine—but really has more to do with his long history of antisemitism. On Tuesday, for example, he posted this on X: “I’ll take ‘the Jews’ for $1000, Alex.”

    Earlier this week he appears to have expanded his repertoire still further. Media Matters reported, Peters called for the execution of nonprofit workers advocating for immigrants at the southern border. Last Saturday, at a conference called the Stew Peters Fall Freedom Fest that he organized in Vero Beach, Florida, he thundered, “These people cross into Mexico and coach illegals on how to get admitted here…These are these, you know, not-for-profit charities. Catholic Charities is a very good example.” He continued: “We need troops on the border that will shoot people that are trying to invade our country. That’d be a good first step. But you know what a better second step would be? Shooting everyone involved with these fake charities.”

    […] In the same speech, Peters also described killing physicians who provide gender-affirming care as “a great idea.”

    […] The escalation of Peters’ expressions of antisemitism and calls for violence in recent months might be simply because interest in his pandemic-era obsession with vaccine conspiracy theories, at least before Perry’s death, had been waning. As Devin Burghart, executive director of the anti-extremism think tank Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, put it last week, Peters appears to be trying to “carve out some space to differentiate himself from a now crowded far-right media sphere.” Companies like X and Rumble seem all too eager to allow him to help make that happen.

  239. says

    Followup to comments 296 and 297.

    […] “There is no Victim (except me!). Leave my children alone, Engoron,” Trump added, addressing the judge. “You are a disgrace to the legal profession!” […]

    Link

  240. says

    Another day, another opportunity to please the Lord by exposing new Speaker Mike Johnson to the American people as the disturbed religious extremist creeper he is. And to do that, all you have to do is just find new examples of him opening his Christian fascist mouth.

    David Corn’s newsletter is a good starting place. From there we’ll take a light gander at Johnson’s drooling interview with Kayleigh McEnany on Fox News. You know, in case you wanted to watch two Aryan wackjob fundamentalist liars babble about Johnson starting every day in the Capitol’s “prayer room,” giant wanking motion dot gif.

    Corn finds a strong record of Mike Johnson believing there should be an explicit religious test for politicians. He cites a 2019 seminar Johnson did with his wife Kelly — the “Christian counselor” whose practice sounds just as abusive as “Christian counseling” pretty much always is — where he said “biblical Christianity” is the only “valid worldview.” Fundamentalist fascist trolls love the phrase “biblical Christianity” because they think it makes them sound like they’ve studied the Bible harder than other, more studied theologians have […]

    Corn points to that recent Hannity interview Johnson did where he said: “I am a Bible-believing Christian. Someone asked me today in the media, they said, ‘It’s curious, people are curious: What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’ I said, ‘Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my worldview.'”

    And if Mike Johnson’s Christian extremist reading of the Bible says God hates [f-word demeaning to gays], then that’s just what it says! Why? Um, because he said so and he’s a white Christian man in a place of power. Duh! […]

    Corn reports that Johnson called at that seminar for a “biblically sanctioned government.” And here is the quote Corn found that really nailed down what Johnson meant by that:

    “You better sit down any candidate who says they’re going to run for legislature and say, ‘I want to know what your worldview is. I want to know what, to know what you think about the Christian heritage of this country. I want to know what you think about God’s design for society. Have you even thought about that?’ If they hadn’t thought about it, you need to move on and find somebody who has…We have too many people in government who don’t know any of this stuff. They haven’t even thought about it.”

    OK, Christian nationalist lunatic.

    […] let’s look at something Mike Johnson told Kayleigh McEnany. [video at the link]

    JOHNSON: I’m not trying to establish Christianity as the national religion or something, that is not what this is about at all. If you truly believe in the Bible’s commands and you seek to follow those, it is impossible to be a hateful person. Because the greatest command in the Bible is that you love God with everything you have and you love your neighbor as you love yourself.

    See? He can’t be hateful, because according to Mike Johnson’s Perfect Christian Worldview, Perfect Christians can’t by definition be hateful, because the Bible says right here that they can’t! […]

    And if your wife’s “counseling practice” compares homosexuality to incest and bestiality and you spend your professional life trying to hurt LGBTQ+ people and criminalize homosexuality and claiming that marriage equality will lead to man-pet marriage and pedophile marriage, then those must just be more examples of God’s love!

    If you actively worked to attack gay kids by partnering with the so-called “ex-gay” group Exodus International — now disbanded — to try to force kids to pray away the gay in widely discredited “conversion therapy”? Which literally doubles the risk of suicide attempts in LGB people who have undergone it?

    Yeah, go fuck yourself in the cheap seats in hell, Mike.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/mike-johnsons-theocratic-gay-hating

  241. says

    […] CHARLIE KIRK: Halloween is coming up, which is All Saints Day, but let’s just be honest, Halloween is a dark, dark day. Not a fan of it. It’s what you do with it. Not a fan of all the kind of dressing up and all that nonsense. I don’t like it.

    […] KIRK: And if you are a Christian, you must be, and by the way, if you’re also a Jew, because this is a Old Testament law, you must not engage in any of these practices of the occult. […]

    […] KIRK: And by the way, this, again, this is an Old Testament law. So this goes for both Jews and Christians.

    […] KIRK: So that’s just a good word for Halloween. Don’t even play around with it. Stay away from it. It’s explicitly said. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/charlie-kirk-bans-halloween-for-everyone

  242. says

    […] Evacuations of people trapped in the Gaza Strip began through the Rafah border crossing for the first time since Israel imposed a siege on the Palestinian enclave after the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Some injured civilians crossed into Egypt, with hundreds of foreign passport-holders, including some Americans, also set to leave.

    The crossing was opened after Egypt, Hamas and Israel agreed that up to 500 people may cross daily. The deal was mediated by Qatar in coordination with U.S. officials, a diplomat briefed on the talks told NBC News.

    A new communications outage hit Gaza, with internet and phone services reported to be down while hospitals in the densely populated enclave were also running out of fuel.

    An Israeli airstrike on a Gaza refugee camp has drawn condemnation and fueled new anger about the civilian cost of its expanding military operation. Israel said a massive strike on the Jabaliya refugee camp killed a senior Hamas commander who was one of the architects of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack. Dozens of other people were killed and hundreds were wounded in the strike, according to a local hospital.

    More than 1 million people have been displaced in Gaza, where Palestinian health officials say more than 8,700 people have been killed. In Israel, 1,400 people were killed in the Hamas attack, and 240 are being held hostage.

    […] Since Oct. 17, U.S. and coalition forces have been attacked at least 28 times in Iraq and Syria.

    That includes a one-way attack drone launched against al-Tanf Garrison in Syria. The department said there was “one minor partner force casualty” and “minor damage” to partner force infrastructure.

    In total, there have been 16 separate attacks in Iraq and 12 in Syria by a mix of one-way attack drones and rockets.

    “Most of these attacks were successfully disrupted by our military. Most failed to reach their targets, thanks to our robust defenses,” the department said.

    […] Ayman Al-Safadi, Jordan’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, has recalled the Jordanian ambassador to Israel as a “expression of Jordan’s position rejecting and condemning the raging Israeli war on Gaza,” according to a post by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry on Facebook.

    […] A mediated deal has been struck to allow for the evacuation of up to 500 foreign and dual nationals per day, according to source briefed on the talks. The deal covers “several days” of transfers, including of critically injured civilians.

    The deal, by the U.S., Hamas, Israel and Egypt, was mediated by Qatar. Egypt will control who gets to cross and when, using an agreed-upon list of foreign nationals.

    As of today, 76 injured civilians have been taken by ambulance into Egypt and 335 foreign nationals been driven on buses through the crossing, Wael Abu Mohsen, head of communications for the Palestinian side of the crossing, told NBC News.

    This morning, a diplomat briefed on the deal who is not authorized to speak publicly, told NBC News that foreign passport-holders and some critically injured civilians would be allowed to leave the enclave. The diplomat stressed that there was “no link between the agreement of Gaza opening and other items under negotiation, including the release of hostages, cease-fires or pauses in the fighting, or the import of humanitarian goods.”

    […] Why can’t Facebook stop Hamas from posting grisly videos

    On the night of Oct. 6th, 24-year-old Yoav Shimoni stayed up late in Toronto to pack his bags for an early morning flight. When he checked his phone around midnight, Shimoni saw a WhatsApp message from his sister directing him to the Facebook page of his 74-year-old grandmother who lived in southern Israel.

    When he opened the page, he found a video of his grandmother, Bracha Levinson, lying on the floor of her home in the Nir Oz kibbutz. A Hamas gunman was standing over her, pointing a rifle and shouting as she bled to death. “I was in shock,” Shimoni recalled in a telephone interview. “I was confused about what I’m seeing.”

    Shimoni said he learned of the massive terror attack from the video on his grandmother’s Facebook page before Israeli news alerts popped up on his phone.

    “She was one of the first people to be murdered on Oct. 7” he said. “The video was the men pointing guns at her and her covered in blood.” […]

    Link

  243. says

    Trump:

    Why didn’t they start the totally political BIDEN INDICTMENTS & COURT CASES Three (3) Years Ago, instead of the MIDDLE OF MY CAMPAIGN??? Third World Country-ELECTION INTERFERENCE!!!

    Commentary:

    […] Three years ago, he was in office, not Biden. It’s also important to emphasize that Trump’s hysterics are rooted in the idea that the incumbent Democratic president is chiefly responsible for the pending criminal charges, but that’s absurd: Trump was indicted by grand jury members, an independent special counsel, and local prosecutors who have nothing to do with the White House.

    […] we’re left with a nagging detail Trump apparently doesn’t want to understand: Criminal investigations tend to be lengthy, time-consuming endeavors.

    […] The indictment in the classified documents scandal obviously couldn’t have been filed three years ago — Trump hadn’t finished committing the alleged crimes — but prosecutors also didn’t file the other cases in early 2021 because it took time to conduct thorough investigations, collect evidence, hear from witnesses, and work through the grand jury process.

    This isn’t evidence of a conspiracy; it’s the opposite.

    Link

  244. says

    Speaker of the House Mike Johnson spent an earlier part of his career working with a conversion therapy-backing “ex-gay” group to bully LGBTQ+ kids. Every day, more information comes out about just how extreme and hateful Johnson is. This one, from CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, is a doozy.

    During his time with the Alliance Defense Fund (now Alliance Defending Freedom), Johnson gave legal advice to the notorious Exodus International, working with the group on an annual “Day of Truth,” an event at which hateful kids could push back on the anti-bullying “Day of Silence.” The thinking behind the “Day of Truth” appears to have been, “Oh, kids are going to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ bullying? Well, let’s organize a day to make clear that bullying is not going anywhere.”

    “Day of Truth was really established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda in public schools,” Johnson said in a 2008 radio interview. And by “counter the promotion,” he meant “make sure LGBTQ+ kids knew they were loathed.” Johnson was a loud champion for a teen who went to school in a T-shirt reading, “Be ashamed. Our school has embraced what God has condemned,” and, “Homosexuality is shameful” after the Day of Silence. ADF represented the student in court after he was suspended.

    Johnson made one hateful statement after another, but it’s not just about what he said. He worked closely with Exodus International, an organization that existed to convince LGBTQ+ people to embrace “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ,” or, in translation, locking themselves firmly in the closet and insisting they were straight. In 2013, Exodus shut down after apologizing for “years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole.” […]

    Johnson is working hard to sell his mild-mannered, non-shouty persona as a counterpoint to so many House Republicans. But he was a professional purveyor and defender of hatred. Now he’s the speaker of the House—and there’s no reason to believe we’re anywhere close to knowing the extent of his record.

    Link

  245. Reginald Selkirk says

    “I saved the Senate filibuster by myself.”

    An unfortunate occurrence. She likes to think of it as a quaint Senatorial tradition with a long history. It is not. The filibuster in the senate was radically changed in 2005. Before that, a senator could block voting by getting up and talking for a long time. Now they don’t have to make hardly any effort at all. It is more like a personal veto for each and every senator than the old-fashioned filibuster.

  246. Akira MacKenzie says

    KIRK: And by the way, this, again, this is an Old Testament law. So this goes for both Jews and Christians.

    Cue the COEXIST bumper sicker crowd with their buckets of whitewash.

  247. says

    Followup, of sorts, to comment 116Ken Buck’s willingness to stick to some of his principles effectively ended his career, which says more about the state of his party than his positions.

    Rep. Ken Buck isn’t the first House Republican to announce his retirement this year, but the Coloradan’s declaration on MSNBC this afternoon was arguably the most significant. [video at the link]

    The news jolted the political world, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. […]

    For those unfamiliar with the Colorado Republican, after nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, Buck earned a reputation as one of Congress’ most far-right members. This posture, however, was not without limits.

    As a Washington Post analysis noted in July, Buck questioned the merits of GOP impeachment-related efforts, backed the FBI in the midst of a Republican offensive against federal law enforcement, and took Donald Trump’s indictments seriously when his party did the opposite.

    In the months that followed, the congressman ignored intra-party pressure and kept going.

    For many of his GOP colleagues, this could not stand. A variety of Republican insiders began working weeks ago on recruiting a primary challenger to take on Buck, and members such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she wanted Buck to be removed from the House Judiciary Committee and the conference’s whip team.

    The right-wing Georgian told CNN in September there was an “unbelievable” level of frustration with Buck within the conference, and CNN’s Melanie Zanona said the “knives are out” for the Coloradan.

    It’s against this backdrop that Buck decided it’s time to walk away.

    When it comes to the positions the Colorado Republican took that outraged his far-right colleagues, it’s important to keep in mind that everything he’s said has been true. But Buck’s GOP critics haven’t said that they caught him lying; they’ve said that they caught him rejecting Republican talking points — which in their eyes, is vastly worse than lying.

    For too much of the congressional GOP, dissent is neither welcome nor tolerated. […]

  248. says

    The New York Times publishes its most cowardly piece yet on the Republican march to fascism

    The New York Times has a long piece describing a new schism between coup plotter Donald Trump’s remaining allies and the Federalist Society, the group that has successfully dominated Republican legal theories and judicial nominations through multiple presidencies.

    There may be no other recent Times article that so cleanly demonstrates the Times’ failure to comprehend or contextualize a Republican Party that very nearly succeeded in overturning a U.S. presidential election rather than admitting defeat. This may be the most dodging, deflection-riddled, and cowardly political piece the Times has published in the last decade. It is misleading to the point of being propaganda itself. It will only be luck if the Times’ continued editorial gutlessness in painting all the markers of a war on American democracy as mere tittering partisanship does not once again lead to bloodshed.

    The piece is titled “Trump’s Allies Want a New Style of Lawyer if He Returns to Power,” and it is blunt enough about what sort of lawyer Trump’s allies are trying to find:

    The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others.

    Among the named allies are Stephen Miller, John McEntee, and Russell Vought. The goal is to rid any future Republican government of conservative enemies who are unwilling to help Trump commit acts they believe, based on their own legal research and expertise, to be criminal.

    People close to the former president say they are seeking out a different type of lawyer committed to his “America First” ideology and willing to endure the personal and professional risks of association with Mr. Trump. They want lawyers in federal agencies and in the White House who are willing to use theories that more establishment lawyers would reject to advance his cause. This new mind-set matches Mr. Trump’s declaration that he is waging a “final battle” against demonic “enemies” populating a “deep state” within the government that is bent on destroying America.

    Fascism. The word the Times is looking for but cannot find is “fascism.” This is not a loaded word but a plainly descriptive one. It refers to a movement of supposed national “rebirth” that believes a nation’s existing laws are too hindering and a nation’s internal enemies too entrenched and devious to dislodge except by national purge, legal or not.

    It claims religious justification for its methods and blames immigrants, educators, sexual “deviants,” other religions, “socialists,” journalists, and too-meek systems of justice for the supposed downfall of a “legitimate” national culture and citizenry. It winks at violence committed in the movement’s name, celebrating those who engage in violence as supposed martyrs and proclaiming that their prosecutions are illegitimate. And it lies with abandon, seeking to dominate the national culture with hoaxes that benefit it rather than truths that do not. [Correct]

    This is not a fucking game. If the Times cannot stomach its reporters looking squarely into the historic moment after the first presidentially led violent attempt to topple the national government in this nation’s history, there are any number of historians and experts who will say the “fascism” word, and quite loudly, without the Times having to admit to having the slightest bit of such wisdom itself. Pick up a phone; get your quote.

    But the premise of the entire article is not hidden, even if it is danced around for paragraphs of euphemisms seemingly designed to misdirect readers into believing this to be party politics as usual, another sneering spat among the dinner-party crowd. That premise is that Trump’s allies are focused on finding teams of pliant lawyers who would replace “establishment” conservatives who balked when Trump, Miller, or others in his administration proposed committing crimes.

    This is not theoretical, either. The Trump administration closed with a furious interdepartmental debate as to whether the administration’s vice president could nullify an American election by fiat, whether the president could then seize voting machines in multiple states and order a federally overseen do-over election, and whether the United States military would be used to enforce any such orders. The defining frustration of the Trump allies leading this charge is that conservative lawyers thwarted an attempted coup.

    The word is fascism.

    There were a few lawyers like that in Mr. Trump’s administration, but they were largely outnumbered, outranked and often blocked by more traditional legal conservatives. For those who went to work for Mr. Trump but grew disillusioned, the push to systematically install Trump loyalists who may see the law as malleable across a second Trump administration has been a cause for alarm.

    There are words for those who see laws as even more “malleable” than even the most hardcore members of the rest of the conservative movement are willing to stomach. It isn’t “America First,” and it isn’t “loyalists.” Sweet merciful crap, does the Times have access to any foreign journalists who might be able to weigh in here?

    [A]fter both the legal policy fights inside the Trump administration and the refusal by the group’s most respected luminaries to join Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, the phrase “Federalist Society” became a slur for some on the Trump-aligned right, a shorthand for a kind of lawyerly weakness.

    So the whole fight is, in fact, a battle to find new lawyers who will not balk in assisting an attempted coup. Trump allies are looking, specifically, for those willing to engage in sedition.

    Mr. Miller, who is not a lawyer, is known for his vehement opposition to immigration. Mr. Mitnick and Mr. Miller are said to have clashed, directly and indirectly, over legal risks raised by regulatory and policy actions emanating from the White House, including separating migrant children from their parents and transporting migrants to so-called sanctuary cities.

    A willingness to commit illegal acts and possible international crimes against refugees. There is a word for that.

    One first-term Trump lawyer who would most likely serve in a second term is Mark Paoletta, who served as general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget and worked closely with Mr. Vought, the agency’s director. The O.M.B. team saw itself as an island of facilitators within an executive branch they believed was too quick to tell Mr. Trump that his ideas were unachievable or illegal.

    We close out with as brazen a reference to fascist rule as any of the seditious backers of Trump’s attempted coup have uttered. It is the fascist creed: In “extraordinary times,” meaning even the slightest or most momentary loss of cultural influence, “legal creativity” is justified as means of righting what elections and democracy have injured, meaning it’s time to seize law enforcement powers and bend them into tools of the ruling party.

    [Now-indicted former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey] Clark will most likely be in contention for a senior Justice Department position in any second Trump administration, depending on the outcome of his legal travails. He has written a constitutional analysis, titled “The U.S. Justice Department Is Not Independent,” that amounts to an intellectual blueprint for direct presidential control of federal law enforcement.

    He declined to comment. On a conservative podcast last year, Mr. Clark said that “extraordinary times call for extraordinary, responsive legal creativity.”

    Allies to Donald Trump, an alleged felon who led an attempted coup that would have seen the nullification of a U.S. presidential election and the invocation of martial law, express the necessity of purging government of conservative quislings, seizing direct control over the Justice Department and other federal law enforcement, and undertaking a systemic overhaul of government centered around policies that the to-be-purged current government officials haave repeatedly warned of as “illegal.”

    It is a fascist agenda. Say the word. And stop couching the radical nature of a “movement” that attempted to justify the overthrow of the United States government as a tittering fight between B-ranked political celebrities. If you cannot tell the difference between ongoing seditious acts and Mar-a-Lago small talk, Times editaors, then relinquish your posts to any of the hundreds of experts and journalists who can. This historic moment is not one that can abide your eternal recklessness and cowardice.

  249. says

    Trigger warning for the graphic details of violence described in this Washington Post article:

    On Monday, the Israeli Embassy hosted a screening of the government’s 46-minute video about Hamas’s Oct. 7 rampage. Assembled in a wood-paneled conference room were a dozen journalists who decided we could stomach this gruesome material — compiled from cellphones, dash cams, GoPros and social media accounts of victims, perpetrators and first responders.

    Ground rules for the presentation forbade us to record. All I have are my notes, hastily scrawled as the scenes flashed by: “bodies lying in road”; “shooting randomly at passengers”; “calmly walk through kibbutz playground, unopposed”; “shoot a dog”; “father killed by grenade, children scream”; “fling dead children on the ground, take car they were in”; “roomful of dead”; “blood”; “many burned bodies.”
    Sickening, all of it. And yet the film mainly reinforces what is already known about these atrocities and cannot be denied or minimized, at least not by any decent person.

    What was revelatory — what you really do have to see and hear to believe — is the attitude of the terrorists. They are having the time of their lives. Some whoop with delight over dead civilians lying on a highway. A team of gunmen brings a dead Israeli soldier back to Gaza and stands triumphantly over his body, as a crowd spontaneously rushes forward to kick and stomp the corpse. Young, heavily armed members of Hamas’s elite Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades pose for a video selfie, shouting in Arabic, “that’s how it’s done.” (The embassy provided translations.)

    Surely, the most chilling part of the film is an audio-only clip: a terrorist calling home to tell his parents that he is in Israel and killing Jews — 10, he boasts, including a woman whose phone he is using. “Their blood is on my hands,” he cries, joyously. “Your son’s a hero.”

    To be sure, some Hamas gunmen proceeded coolly. At the outdoor concert venue they turned into a killing field, one fires carefully at each of about 10 portable toilets, in case anyone is hiding inside. There is occasional restraint. A terrorist pauses in front of the aforementioned screaming children to sip a bottle of Coca-Cola from the family’s refrigerator. But he does not shoot them.

    Yet, the fact that the killers were clearly having so much fun is a special aspect of the massacre that must be reckoned with in any historically and psychologically complete account.

    Overt pleasure-taking in Jew-killing inflames a sensitive place within the emotional centers of every Israeli and Jewish mind. It’s the same spot wherein lodge images of German soldiers on World War II’s Eastern Front, smiling for a camera, as they cut off the beard of a doomed Jewish captive. Or grinning as they force the Jewish men of Lukow, Poland to kneel with their hands up, before deporting them to Treblinka.

    […] Whatever Hamas’s precise intentions, Oct. 7 has foreseeably instilled in the Israelis terror, anguish and righteous fury. Israel, Hamas, the people of Gaza and the world are reaping the consequences.

    Washington Post link

  250. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cutting down on litter in style

    (video 01:34)
    The Gomi Hiroi Samurai or ‘Samurai Who Pick Up Trash’ are a small group of volunteers, three of whom operate in Tokyo, who dress in the style of samurai and help keep the streets of their city clean. Instead of swords, they wield large tongs with impressive swings and flourishes in hope that more people will be inspired to throw their garbage in the trash rather than on the ground.

    I couldn’t get the video to play.

  251. Rob Grigjanis says

    Lynna @311: The image that comes to mind is a photo of white Southerners (including women and children) smiling or laughing at the lynching of a black man. Humans often find dehumanizing horrifyingly easy.

  252. Reginald Selkirk says

    Maine Town Drives Out ‘Blood Tribe’ Nazi Encampment

    A Maine neo-Nazi is pulling up stakes on his planned white supremacist compound, after pressure from locals resulted in his ban from a local gym, and his friend’s ban from AirBnB.

    Christopher Pohlhaus is the founder of the fascist group “Blood Tribe,” which has held small hate rallies harassing minority groups across the country. Alongside those attention-seeking rallies, Pohlhaus has also advertised a property in rural Maine as a future headquarters for his Nazis. But Mainers were none too thrilled about their new neighbors, The Daily Beast reported this year. Now, after local opposition, Pohlhaus has sold the property, the Bangor Daily News first reported on Tuesday…

  253. Reginald Selkirk says

    In a reversal, Schumer says he will move forward to confirm hundreds military promotions previously held up by Tuberville

    In a reversal of a months-long stance, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that he will bring a resolution to the Senate floor that, if passed, would overcome the military promotions block from Sen. Tommy Tuberville.

    “Patience is wearing thin with Senator Tuberville on both sides of the aisle,” Schumer said in floor remarks Wednesday. “What happened with the Marine Commandant just showed many people how dangerous what Tuberville is doing is. And so I will call for a resolution on the floor to allow us to vote on all these people at once. And I’m very hopeful and optimistic about it.” …

    Schumer is not an amateur. If he is bringing the resolution to the floor, I assume that means he thinks he has the votes to pass it.

  254. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump lawyer claims “unfair” treatment after judge “snapped” at attorney during cross-examination

    Judge Arthur Engoron “snapped” at Trump lawyer Jesus Suarez just 15 minutes into a three-hour cross-examination for asking redundant questions during the former president’s fraud trial, according to ABC News. “I see why this is going to take two or three hours. Some questions become three or four more questions,” Engoron told the attorney as he interrupted the cross-examination to request he shorten his questions.

    The exchange prompted a protest from Trump attorney Chris Kise, who accused him of treating the defense team differently than the attorney general’s team. “You never give them speeches. You never limit their questions,” Kise said. “I think it’s unfair.” …

    These jerks must be really inexperienced if they think pissing off the judge is a good idea.

  255. Reginald Selkirk says

    These House Republicans voted to sink Marjorie Taylor Greene’s censure resolution accusing Rashida Tlaib of ‘leading an insurrection’

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s attempt to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib has failed — in major part thanks to her home-state Republican colleagues.

    On Wednesday, a majority of the Republican-led House voted to table the Georgia Republican’s censure resolution, which accused the Michigan Democrat of being antisemitic, sympathizing with terrorists, and “leading an insurrection.” …

  256. says

    Rob @313, Yes, unfortunately.

    Reginald @314, hope the Nazi doesn’t move to Idaho.

    Reginald @315, I hope Schumer has the votes to pass it. Perhaps the spectacle today of Tuberville’s Republican colleagues bringing up military personnel one by one in order to ask for votes to approve promotions … and Tuberville blockading very one of them … perhaps that revealing spectacle turned the tide against Tuberville. I hope so.

  257. says

    Ukraine Update: Russia fails at Avdiivka (again) as Ukraine advances at Robotyne

    Another day, another big Russian defeat at Avdiivka. It’s getting hard to even show pictures of the battlefield because those sections that don’t look like a parking lot for the smoking heaps of smashed Russian equipment look like an open-air morgue for the sad remains of complete Russian brigades. Which is exactly what they are.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine picked up more territory near Robotyne in the south while solidifying its area of control near Verbove. Russia made multiple attempts to regain ground in this area, but those attempts seemed to include a lot of small, disorganized attacks that differed from those around Avdiivka mostly in getting fewer Russian forces obliterated.

    Russia also stepped up attacks in the north, near Bakhmut, and in the pocket between Bakhmut and Avdiivka, which hasn’t seen a lot of action in recent weeks. Top that off with reports that Ukraine is taking advantage of Russia overextending itself in the effort to surround Avdiivka to make a counterstrike.

    All of this makes for a good day to go around the front lines and see what’s happening.

    KUPYANSK AREA

    Kupyansk is one of the locations where the Russian military announced a big push in August, with claims that they would force Ukraine back across the Oskil and take the portion of Kupyansk east of the river. Russia did make gains northeast of the city, but those gains appear to have been limited to recapturing a few villages that had few (or no) garrisoned forces. [map at the link]

    On Wednesday, Russia stepped up attacks in the area, making a total of eight runs at Synivka and along the road south of Lyman Pershyi. More attacks reportedly came to the east, near the town of Ivanivka where Russia attempted to reach the P07 highway. All these assaults were repelled. However, Russia gained a few hundred meters south and west of Lyman Pershyi.

    It remains unclear just how large any of the actions going on in this area really are. Back in August, Ukraine evacuated some civilians away from the front lines in anticipation of a major Russian offensive. But any major action seems to have fizzled, with Russia back to small, squad-level movements. That doesn’t mean Russia isn’t losing significant numbers of men and machines. They’re just doing it in smaller bites. [Tweet and images of destroyed Russian equipment.]

    South of Kupyansk, Russian activity in the Svatove and Kreminna area seems to be limited to lobbing artillery toward area villages. Russia continues to hold a small salient that extends west from Kreminna about 14 kilometers. Otherwise, the lines are remarkably close to where they were a year ago before Russia began its winter offensive in this area.

    BAKHMUT AREA [map at the link]

    While there has been some movement over the past few weeks to the north of Bakhmut, including Russia reportedly retaking a small area to the northwest, most of the action has continued south of the city.

    In continuing action that mimics what’s been seen at both Avdiivka and in the south, Russia continues trying to retake lost ground in the Klishchiivka and Andrivka areas. However, Ukraine holds well-defended high-ground positions west of Klishchiivka that give its artillery command over the region. There are also reports that Ukraine has moved north from Klishchiivka and crossed the rail lines north of town toward Bakhmut. No details on this advance.

    However, if you’ve been missing videos of upbeat Ukrainian soldiers, check out this clip from Klishchiivka. Nothing makes for happy troops like fighting against guys who keep trying to advance over the same stretch of open ground. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Well south of Klishchiivka, Russia reportedly mounted an attack along the highway east of Pivnichne. So far, this assault doesn’t seem to have moved the lines and Russia appears to have very few troops in this area. [map at the link]

    As it was through most of October, Avdiivka remains the center of action on Wednesday. And, as it did through most days of October, it remains the scene of incredible losses by Russia.

    Before getting onto the new action, here are some images representing an incredible amount of work by the folks behind the @GeoConfirmed on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter. Elon or no Elon, you need to click through on this one to see the whole thing, because these guys have carefully laid out the location of 197 destroyed Russian vehicles, breaking them down into the different phases of this attack. [Tweet and image at the link]

    But for anyone hoping to sort out this battlefield, a lot of work remains. Here’s another post reporting 32 previously undocumented Russian losses at Avdiivka not included in that epic thread above. Here are five more. And here’s some recent action in the area, adding to the incredible scrapyard of former Russian gear. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Fighting in the area remains intense, and Ukrainian forces near Avdiivka are by no means safe. But Russia needs to drive several kilometers across open fields under Ukrainian artillery control to achieve its goal of encircling the city. Just because it hasn’t worked for a month, doesn’t mean Russia is going to either slow down or change its tactics.

    In the last day, Russia has reportedly expanded its control in the area around the Terrikon spoil pile and advanced its area of control north of Vodyane on the south. These are both small gains of a few hundred square meters. However, those small movements do bring Russia closer to a pair of critical crossroads that could affect Ukraine’s ability to supply troops in Avdiivka. These advances may be enough to encourage Russia that if they just keep trying, they’ll eventually wear Ukraine down.

    The best news of the day may also be the most tentative. Ukrainian forces have reportedly moved down the highway north of Kranohorivka, moving about a kilometer through light resistance with Russian forces looking to the south. While this is reported by multiple sources, it is unconfirmed by the Ukrainian military or more cautious (thus credible) open source intelligence sites like Deep State. So take it with a grain of hopium. [Tweets, map and video at the link]

    One big note: In the last two days, there have been multiple videos of Russian soldiers caught out in the open approaches around Avdiivka and subsequently mauled by artillery and drones. If you see something with a warning from this area, take it seriously and think twice about watching.

    ROBOTYNE AREA [map at the link]

    Nothing says “this is not a stalemate” like seeing Ukraine liberate more territory. That little area of blue on the west side of Robotyne first appeared with a new push two days ago. It doubled in size over the past day.

    There’s some low ground in this area, as well as a steep ditch leading down to a small reservoir. But so far Ukraine seems to be moving effectively to drive Russian forces that were based in a series of tree lines. Maybe the coming of fall is helping to remove some of the cover that those trees have provided. Or maybe Russian reserves in the area have been drawn down to feed the hunger at Avdiivka.

    Whatever the reason, it’s good to see more area being liberated, even if it’s just 2 square kilometers so far. [Tweet and video at the link]

    This next video is so far behind the lines, I had to Google the location. It turns out to be a village about 30 kilometers south of Robotyne, one that’s actually further away from the front than the strategic target of Tokmak. Surveillance drones pinpoint the location of an electronic warfare system, but what strikes it is anyone’s guess. [Tweet and video at the link]

    We haven’t quite covered the field, because there is more to cover about Ukraine’s actions on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River. That includes the Ukrainian bridgehead driving a reported 2 km toward the town of Pishchanivka. But it will have to wait for now.

    If Ukraine breaks through at any point or liberates a town in this area, I promise we will be on it.
    —————————
    The Economist has an interview with Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, that includes some tough questions and hard answers. Here’s Zaluzhny talking about Ukraine’s inability to move forward at the expected pace during the counteroffensive.

    “First I thought there was something wrong with our commanders, so I changed some of them. Then I thought maybe our soldiers are not fit for purpose, so I moved soldiers in some brigades,” says General Zaluzhny. When those changes failed to make a difference, the commander told his staff to dig out a book he once saw as a student in a military academy in Ukraine. Its title was “Breaching Fortified Defence Lines”. It was published in 1941 by a Soviet major-general, P. S. Smirnov, who analyzed the battles of the First World War. “And before I got even halfway through it, I realized that is exactly where we are because just like then, the level of our technological development today has put both us and our enemies in a stupor.”

    ——————————–
    A Lancet goes for about $35,000. A HIMARS/M270-fired M31 rocket costs over $100,000 more. But the chance to take out the operator and ground equipment makes this shot priceless, not to mention the value of whatever it might have targeted. [Tweet and video at the link]
    ———————————
    According to The Hill, one well-known Russian military analyst is reporting that Vladimir Putin is dead. In fact, according to the source, Putin has been dead for days and since then, everyone has been watching a double.

    But if everyone treats Putin’s double like Putin … does it matter?

  258. says

    Followup to comment 321.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Unfortunately for the wishful thinkers, Putin was on television again today, telling Russian officials to crack down on the inflation that was caused by Putin’s own move in September to spend more on the war by cutting subsidies for oil refiners — an action that led to diesel and gasoline shortages, which led to inflation (currently 7%), which is deeply unpopular in Russia.
    ———————————
    Occam’s razor says that Solovey does not need protectors because he spews out fiction. He is not a crackpot or a snake-oil salesman. Just a perfectly sane and reasonable businessman whose purpose in life is to feed sensationalistic BS to British tabloids. By American media standards he is a legitimate journalist lol. Until there is evidence to the contrary, this is the simplest explanation that fits the facts.
    ————————————-
    The Putin is dead rumour comes from the Telegram channel General SVR, and paints a picture reminiscent of The Death of Stalin. As soon as I see General SVR as a source I move on — as far as I’m concerned it’s an entertaining frivolity.

  259. says

    Followup to Reginald @315, and me @320.

    Senate Republicans erupt in anger over Tuberville’s military freeze.

    Washington Post link

    A surprising public confrontation made clear that some of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s colleagues have hit their limit as hundreds of senior military promotions remain stalled.

    […] Concerns about Gen. Eric Smith’s apparent cardiac arrest on Sunday, coupled with fast-moving developments in the Middle East, have surfaced repeatedly this week as officials in Washington seek an off-ramp to the bitter political dispute between Tuberville (R-Ala.) and the Biden administration that centers on the Pentagon’s travel policy for troops seeking an abortion. Hundreds of senior military advancements have been stalled as a result, dating to February.

    On Wednesday night, a remarkable scene unfolded on the Senate floor as several Republicans, including Sens. Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa) Todd C. Young (Ind.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) confronted Tuberville, imploring him to lift his hold for the sake of national security and proposing votes on individual officers whose promotions have been delayed. Tuberville rebuffed them one by one, blocking each proposed nominee as his colleagues’ frustration continued to rise.

    The anger that has been brewing over the issue for months burst forth in dramatic fashion, as Sullivan and others criticized Tuberville’s tactics. “The key is you put a hold on someone who typically has some kind of control over the issue you’re trying to fix,” Sullivan said. “Why are we putting holds on war heroes?”

    The surprising public confrontation made clear that some of Tuberville’s Republican colleagues have hit their limit, but it remains unclear if there is enough GOP support for a Democratic plan to temporarily change Senate rules to neutralize his blockade. That proposal is set to come to a vote […] and would need nine Republicans to support it.

    […] In a brief interview Wednesday, Tuberville said he has no intent to change course. “We’re not going to start backing up now just because people are starting to start to get cold feet … on my side” of the political aisle. He held firmly to this position as the evening’s theatrics wore on, declaring “I object” each time as his GOP colleagues, most with military backgrounds themselves, proposed an individual officer for a promotion.

    As the standoff continued past 8 p.m., Sullivan and others said they would bring up all senior military officers due for a promotion — by name and regardless of how long it takes — and force Tuberville to object publicly to each. “We’re going to stay here,” Sullivan said, “until our list is done.”

    At one point, Graham, his voice rising, said there’s a reason that no other senator had pursued a move like this for so long. “No matter whether you believe it or not, Senator Tuberville, this is doing great damage to our military,” he said. “I don’t say that lightly; I’ve been trying to work with you for nine months.”

    Tuberville initiated the legislative blockade in February, preventing the Senate from using its typical process for approving uncontroversial nominees in batches of dozens or hundreds at a time. The number of military officers ensnared by the logjam has risen to 375 and includes positions spanning commands worldwide. The Pentagon estimates that by the end of the year, about three-quarters of the generals and admirals in the Defense Department — 650 of 852 — will be affected.

    The Senate can bypass Tuberville’s hold by voting on officers individually, which it has done in only three instances, but to do so now for every frozen nomination would take months and impede action on numerous other issues.

    Smith, 58, is the Marine Corps commandant and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He remains hospitalized in stable condition, the service said in a statement Wednesday. Officials have offered little publicly about his c