Republican House Majority Will Try to Melt Down Global Economy Democrats need to sabotageproof the government while they still can.
....It is highly likely that the Republican Party will win control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. It is also highly likely that they will attempt to melt down the global economy as part of an extortion threat. And it is apparently the case that nobody has yet formulated a plan to avert this catastrophe.....
Congress is poised to approve more aid, but future deals may be caught up in Republican infighting over federal spending.
....“The CR will pass and with full Ukraine aid, I predict,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense expert with the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “But there is no doubt the era of large emergency supplemental spending bills for Ukraine end with this next one for a variety of reasons.
“It would be too simplistic to say it is one issue more than another at this point. But voters are speaking up to conservative members of Congress,” Eaglen added. “This is really driven from the grassroots to Washington and not the other way around.”.....
Trump had his chance and blew it. His supporters deserve better.
.....Both parties are so beholden to the extremes of their base that any hint of working with the other side risks fierce retribution. Don’t let President Barack Obama succeed. Don’t let Trump succeed. Don’t let President Biden succeed. It never ends. But instead of ignoring the pettiness and focusing on his agenda, Trump wallowed in self-pity. Instead of trying to expand his base, Trump chose to alienate even more Americans. And worst of all, when most Americans finally decided that Trump was never going to rise to the occasion and rejected him at the ballot box in 2020, he refused to accept the verdict, incited a riot at the Capitol and encouraged endless election challenges in state after state.
I don’t regret giving Trump a chance. I regret that he squandered the golden opportunity he was handed to be a transformative president. Trump is likely on the verge of declaring another White House run, but the millions of Americans who believed in him deserve someone more effective in fighting for the issues he highlighted. Trump had his chance, and he blew it. He should move on, as should his supporters......
BARS are Russian reservist units, LPR are the fake “Luhansk People’s Republican” proxies, and they mean the 20th Combined Arms Army. “Boiler” is a funny translation of “cauldron,” which is exactly what it sounds like—a strategically large concentration of trapped enemy forces. “Boiler” actually works as well. Estimates are that Russians had 2,500-3,500 troops inside the city, and they are now fully cut off from escape. No reason for Ukraine to engage in costly street-by-street urban fighting. They can keep a blocking force to keep them contained while the main spearhead keeps moving.
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin gives speech annexing four regions of Ukraine into Russia. September 30, 2022.
As of now (8:30 AM ET, 3:30 PM in Kyiv), Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is in the middle of his speech. As expected, Putin has announced the annexation of four areas of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. Also, he’s declared that Ukraine was always part of the old Russian empire, so Russia owns it anyway. He then announced that Russia was now open to negotiations—so long as Russia got to keep all the area it had claimed. It’s unclear from the way this was phrased if Putin means just the area now occupied by Russian forces, because it really sounds like he’s laying claim to the entire oblasts, cities and all, even in areas where Russia has never come close.
"I want the Kyiv government and their real bosses in the West to hear me,” said Putin. “Residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson are becoming our citizens forever."
Putin then called on Ukraine to lay down arms and realize that these territories are now part of “their true historical fatherland.” Any fighting in these areas will be the same as fighting in Russia, and Putin declared that he would defend “our people” with “all the means at our disposal.”
Following this section, Putin hasn’t so much as mentioned Ukraine over the last 15 minutes. Instead, he’s been on an extended rant about the horrors of the West, which, says Putin, “wants to turn Russia into a colony.” According to Putin, he is the real voice of democracy and freedom, and it’s the West which mistreats people who disagree with authority (quick, someone get Alexei Navalny on stage for a comment). This was followed by a litany of crimes, including the bombing of cities in World War II. There was a special focus on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but bombing Nazi Germany was apparently also a crime that needed to be repaid. Also the Korean War, where apparently the crime was not allowing the north to win. Oh, and Putin slipped in that the United States “forces people to change gender” and gets them hooked on drugs.
Putin could easily give this speech at a Trump rally and gather a lot of applause.
As might be expected, Putin has devoted a good deal of the speech to claiming the West is “racist” because it is "spreading Russophobia.” A pretty good argument might be made that fear of Russia was caused by Russia continually invading and subjugating its neighbors. But apparently, Putin missed that point.
Eventually, after a prolonged generalized attack on the colonial, racist, undemocratic, forced gender-changing, Nazi bombing West, Putin also got around to a specific grievance—the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines. It’s obvious that Russia bombed these pipelines to give itself another bloody shirt to wave, and Putin waved it. He blamed the sabotage on “Anglo Saxons,” which was followed by an extended attack not just on the U.S. and the U.K., but also on the AUKUS alliance. Shoutout to Australia!
Putin then spent some time talking about how Russia now has Europe right where he wants them, because “you can’t heat homes with paper Euros.” And without Russian gas, Europeans are going to be freezing, their economies collapsing, and then he darted over to how they’re practicing “outright Satanism.” If you were hoping that Putin would expand on that last point, prepare to be disappointed, because that’s the only Satan appearance so far.
From there Putin has swung full force into how Russia has to take action against the West. How it has to “lead the anti-colonialism movement” by conquering territory and making it part of Russia. Which may not be quite the way most people think of anti-colonialism. But Putin is being extremely forceful in statements that Russia doesn’t just intend to take Ukraine, but to crush the entire West.
"We need to turn this disgraceful page. Western hegemony will be smashed. This is inevitable. We must do this for our people, the great historical Russia." Hopefully anyone who is cheering Russia for its anti-colonialism position is reading to the end of that sentence.
Finally, Putin has stepped away from the microphone, and the actual paperwork for annexation is underway. The dutiful crowd—which looks to have been imported from a Brezhnev speech circa 1964—is clapping and standing at all the right points.
As all this is going on, hundreds, if not thousands, of Russian forces, are engaged in either dying or being captured at Lyman. ........
As the first wave of the big counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast came to a thundering conclusion with the liberation of Izyum and Kupyansk, there were initial reports that Lyman had also been liberated, opening the way to a push into Luhansk. But it soon became apparent that Russia had positioned some of the forces fleeing from Izyum on the northern edge of Lyman. In the next few days, Russia pushed even more troops into the area, creating a line that was intended to block Ukrainian progress to the northeast. In Drobysheve, Lyman, and Yampil, Russia created a fortified location, with some of their best remaining troops in position, backed by ranks of artillery, and roads from both north and east capable of bringing in supplies and reinforcements. Then they waited for Ukraine to smash against this anvil.
Over the last two weeks, Ukrainian troops have set outside this line, and they have launched attacks on the Russian forces inside. But that was only a small part of the overall Ukrainian action. The greater part of Ukraine’s forces in the area moved north along the banks of the Oskil River, then turned east, then turned south, approaching Lyman from the opposite side. Then, just two days ago, a second Ukrainian force launched a surprise advance across the Silverskyi Donets River, cutting off the supply lines to the east, and approaching Lyman from yet another angle.
Lyman and Drobysheve cut off from resupply as Ukrainian forces move to complete encirclement.
On Friday, Ukrainian forces cleared Russian positions in both Yampil and Stavky. Russian troops in both those areas reportedly were unable to escape the tightening Ukrainian encirclement and instead retreated into Lyman. At last report, positions in Drobysheve had also been abandoned, though it’s not clear if Ukrainian forces had moved into that location.
Russian sources report that the forces inside Lyman—a number that ranges from 500 to 3,000 depending on the source—are now preparing an attempted breakout. A remaining Russian garrison at Torske had reportedly been instructed to hold the road open there for an attempted escape. Already a platoon of Russian forces has been seen making an unsuccessful attempt to flee into the woods north of the city.
Any attempt to withdraw is unlikely to be in any sense orderly. It may not even be possible. But if it’s going to happen, it has to happen very, very soon, or there will be no force remaining in Lyman to make the attempt. Considering the delay between events on the ground and reports trickling back through Telegram and Twitter, the battle of Lyman may have already been resolved.
Russian leader’s rambling speech focuses on western sins and leaves key Ukraine questions unanswered
Eight-and-a-half years after Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Crimea, he gathered the elites of Russia in the Kremlin’s St George Hall for another land-grab ceremony: this time laying claim to four more Ukrainian regions.
The annexation formalities were preceded by an angry, rambling speech that dwelled only briefly on either Ukraine or the four regions of which Russia now claims ownership. Instead, Putin railed at the west for a litany of sins, ranging from destabilising Russia in the 17th century to allowing gender reassignment surgery.
He also reiterated his threat to use nuclear weapons, claiming the US had “created a precedent” for the use of nuclear force in 1945.
Friday’s speech is likely to go down as another milestone in Putin’s long reign over Russia. And while it was the same hall, the same crowd and the same message as the Crimea annexation in March 2014, the context is very different.
Then, Putin carried much of Russia’s elite and society with him, on a wave of patriotic fervour boosted by state television propaganda. Outside Russia, while many were shocked at the naked land grab, others felt Putin had a point: after Iraq and Libya, how could the west lecture others on violating sovereignty? Many European politicians wanted to get back to business as usual with Russia as quickly as possible.
This time, the domestic and international situations are far less favourable for Putin. At home, he has embarked on an unpopular mobilisation drive, prompting hundreds of thousands of Russians to try to leave the country. The improvements in quality of life that the first years of Putinism brought are drying up amid sanctions and international isolation.
Since February, the Russian leader has become an international outcast, with even non-western leaders rebuking his blatant aggression in Ukraine, undermining his claims on Friday to speak for the whole non-western world.
In 2014, he railed at the hypocrisy of western politicians who “call something white today and black tomorrow”, and many nodded along.
Today, he offered an angrier but less coherent denunciation of the west, more angry taxi driver than head of state. “They don’t want us to be free, they want us to be a colony; they don’t want equal partnership, they want to steal from us,” he said.
Putin veered from denouncing the “totalitarianism, despotism and apartheid” of today’s west, to bringing up the historical pillaging of India, the bombing of Dresden at the end of the second world war and the “many genders” in fashion in the west.
Russia’s mission, he said, was to “defend our children from monstrous experiments designed to destroy their consciousness and their souls”.
Andrei Kolesnikov, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote on Twitter: “Putin’s speech is a set of unbelievably illiterate conspiracy cliches that 30 years ago could be read in marginal national-patriotic newspapers.
“Now it has become the policy of the former superpower, which even in the days of the Soviet leaders could not afford such a discourse.”
On Ukraine, Putin said Russia was “ready for negotiations”, but immediately followed this with an insistence that the annexed territories would be part of Russia “forever” and could not be part of any talks.
Ukraine has already said it will ignore the annexations and continue its military campaign to regain territory. Kyiv believes any “ceasefire” would simply give Russia time to regroup before a renewed assault.
After all, in his March 2014 speech, Putin explicitly ruled out seizing more territory: “Don’t believe those who try to frighten you with Russia and who scream that other regions will follow after Crimea … We do not need this.”
And yet, here they were, back in the St George Hall, applauding as four more Moscow-appointed puppet leaders signed over their regions to Moscow.
But annexation involves more than pieces of paper, and while in 2014 Russia had just carried out a swift and stealthy military operation to seize Crimea, this time things are far less clear-cut. Fighting continues in and around all four of the regions Russia is claiming, prompting the mobilisation order.
Putin’s speech left unanswered almost all the key questions about what might happen next. His spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, could not say on Friday morning whether Russia was claiming all of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, or only the parts of them it already controls, promising to “clarify” this later. The speech left us none the wiser.
Friday’s audience, predominantly older men with security and military backgrounds, grimly applauded their leader. But many in the Russian political elite are aghast at the events of the past few months, even if they have not made their criticisms public. They also remain in the dark about how events might develop.
“Nobody knows what happens next, it’s clear there is no grand strategy,” said one Moscow source, a well-connected political insider. “If one thing doesn’t work, we will try something else, and nobody knows where it will lead. Decisions are taken in the head of one man.”
While Putin has talked for two decades about the west’s desire to destroy Russia, the intensity and repetition with which he tackled the subject on Friday suggests this is not just political theatre: he has become a true believer.
What this means for the biggest question of all remains unclear. Does this fervour make him more or less likely to use nuclear weapons? Are his threats a bluff, or not? Again, those in Moscow are no better informed than the rest of us.
“Nobody knows. I doubt if he knows yet either, to be honest,” the source said.
Following reports that Russian forces in Lyman intend to attempt a breakout to the east, there are now reports of heavy fighting near Zarichne as Ukraine moves to close the door on any Russian escape. There are reports on Telegram channels that Russian attempts to get reinforcements to Torske have failed.
Consider all of the above unverified, however things do seem to be moving quickly toward a conclusion at Lyman. There has been some discussion about the possibility of Russian forces negotiating for withdrawal. It’s not clear if this is based on anything actually happening or is more in the area of wishful thinking.
After rigorous review, jurors have finally been selected for the seditious conspiracy trial of ex-Oath Keeper ringleader Elmer Stewart Rhodes and four fellow members of the extremist network.
The trial—expected to stretch five weeks—will unfold just a half-mile from where Rhodes and his Oath Keeper cohorts Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, Thomas Caldwell and Kelly Meggs allegedly tried to stop the transfer of presidential power by force on Jan. 6, 2021.
Jurors weighing their fate are mostly white and mostly male. Many work in fields common for residents of Washington, D.C. One juror works in the State Department, another for the Government Accountability Office. At least two of the jurors selected are lawyers themselves. One works in patent law and the other in an administrative law capacity. Another juror works as a contractor for the Department of Defense.
The jury pool for the D.C.-based case was so laden with attorneys it prompted Caldwell’s lawyer David Fischer to crack wise in court Thursday.
“Is there a tax credit for lawyers who live here or something?” Fischer remarked to presiding U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta during a lull in proceedings.
The moment of levity was welcome after three days of jury selection during which 150 prospective jurors were whittled down to a qualified group of 47, which was then reduced a final time.
Typically, the pool features just 12 jurors and two alternates.
But with the high-profile case so long in the works and the spread of COVID-19 still an issue, Judge Mehta took the extra precaution of adding two additional alternates to the mix, bringing the final pool to 16. Of the group, 11 are white, including alternates. Nine are men, including alternates.
This expanded pool, he said in court this week, will hopefully resolve any possible interruptions in the weeks ahead at the federal courthouse. Masking is required. .....
Two men were arrested Thursday for the shooting of two migrants in Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 27, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. One of the people who was shot died. Charged with manslaughter and booked in the El Paso County Jail without bond, the two men were identified as brothers Mike and Mark Sheppard, Texas Public Radio reported.
“The preliminary investigation shows that a truck with two men inside pulled over and shot at a group of illegal immigrants standing alongside the road getting water,” said DPS Lt. Elizabeth Carter.
According to affidavits filed Thursday, at least four people were walking along a roadway in the desert when the 60-year-old Sheppard brothers approached in a pickup truck. Surviving witnesses shared that the two men shouted profanities and fired at least two shots, one of which killed a man while the other injured a woman.
But that’s not all: One of the two brothers who shot at the migrants was a jail warden for the West Texas Detention Center in Sierra Blanca. According to Texas Public Radio, the center is a privately owned detention facility that previously worked with the federal government to detain migrants.
A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the station that the facility hasn't held detainees in federal custody since 2019.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Mike Sheppard was working for the detention center up until this week. “The warden at West Texas Detention Center, Sierra Blanca, TX, has been terminated due to an off-duty incident unrelated to his employment,” said Scott Sutterfield, a spokesperson for LaSalle Corrections.
The Intercept reported that Mike Sheppard had several allegations of abuse leading up to this week’s killing. Some of the allegations against him were so serious that the FBI got involved.
Reports dating back to 2018 found that, as warden, Mike Sheppard was accused of participating in and overseeing the abuse of a group of African migrants and asylum-seekers.
In interviews with legal advocates, 30 men from Somalia described a “week of hell” in which they were pepper-sprayed, beaten, threatened, taunted with racial slurs, and subjected to sexual abuse by officials under Sheppard’s guidance, The Intercept reported.
Sheppard himself also allegedly partook in these incidents and was said to have used racist language, including: “Shut your Black ass up. You don’t deserve nothing. You belong at the back of that cage”; “Boy, I’m going to show you. You’re my bitch”; and “Now you belong to me, boy.”
Despite complaints filed with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and local authorities, Sheppard still remained employed at the facility.
The complaints against Sheppard are documented in a lengthy 2018 report by a coalition of legal groups, including the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES; Texas A&M University School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic; and University of Texas School of Law’s Immigration Clinic.
“The pattern and practice of abuses LaSalle corrections officers engaged against the group of African detainees over the course of a week amounts to hate crimes, conspiracy against rights, and a deprivation of rights under color of law,” the report said. “The officers used epithets (‘terrorist’ and ‘boy’ and ‘n*’) in combination with beatings, broad and indiscriminate use of pepper spray, and routine and arbitrary use of segregation and other violations to demean and injure the men.”
Violence targeting migrants has been an ongoing issue, and it only increased amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. According to Texas Public Radio, another incident was reported on Wednesday morning when a man identified as 26-year-old Erik Garibaldi shot a migrant in the face. At this time, it is not clear whether the two shootings were connected.
The Democratic Party of Texas issued a statement blaming the incidents on political rhetoric around immigration policy.
“This killing in West Texas is the direct result of Texas Republicans’ violent fearmongering of undocumented migrants: when you continuously use language like ‘invasion’ to describe what is happening at our border, the only logical conclusion is that you want migrants and asylum-seekers to be treated like ‘invaders,’" said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party.
Hinojosa noted that this same rhetoric led to the Wal-Mart shooting in El Paso that killed 23 people. During that incident, the shooter said he was "targeting Mexicans."
“We saw this in El Paso, when a racist monster drove hundreds of miles just to slaughter innocent shoppers at a Wal-Mart, ginned up by the bigoted language that Texas Republicans use to rally their base," Hinojosa added.
Others also cited Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s language toward immigrants and migrants as a reason for increased anti-immigrant rhetoric in the state.
According to Texas Public Radio, 748 migrant deaths have been reported since October 2021, a majority attributable to extreme heat and drownings.