Ten Thousan Marbles Thread watched More to ignore, Book 100....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Seniors, disabled people to get inflation relief with big boost in benefits

Joan McCarter

Seventy million Americans are getting a healthy raise in January, and it’s coming not a moment too soon. The Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2023 is 8.7%, the biggest increase in four decades. Unfortunately, it comes with persistent inflation and big increase in the consumer price index—8.5%. It also comes when Republican lawmakers and candidates are plotting how they’ll cut Social Security, already threatening to take the debt ceiling hostage to make it happen.

The increase will mean seniors and disabled people receiving benefits will get on average $140 to $145 more each month, the Social Security Administration estimated Thursday. There’s a second bit of good news for people on Social Security—the boost comes with a 3% drop in Medicare Part B premiums.

Generally, the annual increase in Social Security benefits with the cost of living adjustment are eaten up by Medicare premium increases before people even see them. But next year they’ll get the full benefit. In addition, people who are enrolled in Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit, will be able to get most vaccines at no cost and those with diabetes will pay less than $35 a month for insulin.

That’s because of the Inflation Reduction Act passed this summer. Thanks, Democrats!
......
AARP Chief Executive Officer Jo Ann Jenkins applauded the increase in a statement Thursday. “Social Security is the largest source of retirement income for most Americans and provides nearly all income for one in four seniors. Today’s announcement of an 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment, or about an average of $145 more per month, will provide much needed relief to millions of Americans.”

“The guaranteed benefits provided by Social Security, including the annual COLA, are more crucial than ever as high inflation remains a problem for older Americans,” she added. “The automatic adjustment is an essential part of Social Security that helps ensure the benefit does not erode over time due to rising prices.”

Which is an excellent point—this isn’t really a benefit increase. It, Nancy Altman, the President of Social Security Works points out “simply ensures that seniors and other beneficiaries can tread water.”

“Unfortunately, even with today’s COLA, many simply cannot make ends meet, because their earned Social Security benefits are inadequately low. Congress should pass legislation to protect and expand Social Security, and pay for it by requiring the wealthiest to contribute their fair share.”

To that point, the SSA also announced Thursday that the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security tax will go up from $147,000 to $160,200 next year. That’s good, but still kind of ridiculous. Any earnings above $160,200 aren’t subject to the payroll tax. Lifting or eliminating the cap is just common sense for shoring up the Social Security system. Which would take away one big basis of Republican attacks—that Social Security is going broke and therefore benefits have to be cut.

That’s the line taken by the libertarian think tank Cato Institute to the news that seniors and disabled people will be struggling just a little bit less in the year ahead. Romina Boccia, the director of budget and entitlement policy, said that the increase is too generous. “Social Security is using an outdated measure that’s driving up benefit costs,” Boccia said. “Reform is long overdue.

Of course the reform conservatives want is ending Social Security and Medicare as we know it and privatizing the whole thing so their buddies on Wall Street can capitalize. Republicans have gotten brazen enough and extreme enough that if they take the House, they’ll touch that third rail and try to undo even this modest gain.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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New research finds that watching Fox News during a pandemic really can be deadly

Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Some day, when my head’s removed from cryogenic storage after science discovers a cure for gouging out your own eyes with an oyster fork at the sight of Donald Trump, I’ll tell my grand-clones about that time thousands of people died painful, undignified deaths from watching television.

“But Aldous Prime,” they’ll say. “The Chevy Chase Show barely lasted five weeks! How can this be?” And I’ll tell them all about Fox News and the benighted era when a dread disease scourged the land and Tucker Carlson did his best to ensure as many people as possible died from it.

After the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in early 2020, Donald Trump wasn’t the only one who decided to take lemons and make some weird, semi-viscous murder drink out of flop sweat, dingo farts and, like, half a slice of lemon at the most. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson did his best to downplay the importance of getting vaccinated against the virus, and while he has a long way to go to catch his pal Vladimir Putin, new research shows that he likely ran up quite a butcher’s bill while stumping for the Grim Reaper (who, for the record, also thinks Tucker Carlson is an asshole).


In a recent Washington Post column, reporter Philip Bump attempted to quantify just how large an asshole Carlson is—and the answer appears to be “massive.”

Bump started off by citing previous research that identified a clear correlation between being a Republican and foolishly dying of COVID. That’s hardly surprising. Republicans have been killing themselves to own the libs for decades—most notably by opposing health care initiatives that would greatly improve their lives and their prospects of reaching old age. So this was just another data point in a long-term trend.

But there’s now evidence to show that, alone among the major TV networks, Fox News had an outsized effect in convincing Republicans to kill themselves even faster.

Bump started off by asking why Republicans have been less likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and he concluded that it’s not just because their hero Trump wanted to pretend the virus didn’t exist.

The Washington Post:

In part, we can point to the interplay of partisanship itself. As president, Trump tried to play down the danger of the virus and, with an eye to reelection, cast efforts to contain the virus as power plays from an overbearing government. This certainly helped influence behaviors among Republicans on vaccination, masking and social distancing.

Bump then quoted from a study published last week that found a significant Fox News effect when it came to vaccine refusal.

“Our results show that Fox News is reducing COVID-19 vaccination uptake in the United States, with no evidence of the other major networks having any effect,” the study from researchers at ETH Zurich concluded. “[T]here is an association between areas with higher Fox News viewership and lower vaccinations,” noting that “media emphasis on minority viewpoints against scientific consensus is linked to vaccination hesitancy.”

And in case you’re wondering if the study’s authors controlled for other variables—like Trump supporters’ proclivity for rejecting science, common courtesy, and CDC guidance on how to safely purple-nurple fruit bats—yes, they did. (Being mammals, bats do, in fact, have nipples. Thanks, Google! And science! And the brave, inquisitive bat-milkers who started it all!)

“We can rule out that the effect is due to differences in partisanship, to local health policies, or to local COVID-19 infections or death rates,” wrote the the study’s authors. “The other two major television networks, CNN and MSNBC, have no effect.”

So almost certainly—judging by the unambiguous survival advantage imparted by the COVID vaccines—Fox News has been killing its viewers. Full stop.

Of course, the biggest vaccine defamer at the network is Tucker Carlson, whose show freely traffics in vaccine disinformation (aka bullshit). Bump noted that, in May 2021, Carlson’s show was the second-most popular on cable news, and the most popular among viewers aged 25 to 54. And, hey, that was really bad news for people aged 25 to 54.

What was Carlson saying about the vaccine in May 2021? See for yourself. But it included his elevation of inaccurate numbers about purported deaths from coronavirus vaccines and touting the idea that natural immunity was as effective as vaccination — ignoring, of course, the risk posed by reaching natural immunity. Carlson played host to covid-vaccine opponent Alex Berenson more than once. (Berenson’s shaky grasp of the data had already earned him the apt title “the pandemic’s wrongest man.”)

So while it would be irresponsible to unequivocally state that Tucker Carlson killed at least some of his viewers, it’s nevertheless a pretty fair assumption. As Bump notes, the Department of Health and Human Services has reported that the COVID-19 vaccines likely saved 330,000 lives in 2021—just among those enrolled in Medicare. Imagine if fewer of them had watched Fox News. They might still be alive.

Then again, watching Tucker Carlson and dying of an excruciatingly painful, easily preventable disease are pretty much a horse apiece, aren’t they?
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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ScreenShot2022-10-10at12.27.36PM.png

www.scientificamerican.com/…
People in Republican Counties Have Higher Death Rates Than Those in Democratic Counties
A growing mortality gap between Republican and Democratic areas may largely stem from policy choices
By Lydia Denworth on July 18, 2022

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Chugging raw eggs, tanning testicles are how Tucker’s ‘bro scientists’ want to combat ‘globalists’

David Neiwert

Everyone got a good laugh back in April when Tucker Carlson released the trailer for his pseudo-documentary, “The End of Men,” which featured men tanning their testicles with what looked like a car charger and hunky muscle-bound weightlifters gazing at each other homoerotically while pumping iron. The ridicule that erupted on social media in response seems to have affected the film’s release; Carlson suddenly stopped promoting it, with a promise of a later release.

Carlson finally did so this week, streaming “The End of Men” on Fox Nation, and has been promoting it on Fox News via his nightly program. The “documentary” remains as absurd as ever, but it’s also become clear that it revolves almost entirely around the conspiracy theories promoted by a man who goes by the pseudonym Raw Egg Nationalist, based on his habit of consuming over 30 raw eggs daily, which he does as part of a diet he says will combat the “globalists” trying to control the world. What Carlson doesn’t tell his audience is that Raw Egg Nationalist is deeply enmeshed with racist white nationalists, including a publisher who specializes in reissuing old Nazi texts.



The identity of Raw Egg Nationalist, who speaks with a British accent, is currently unknown. But he has built a large social media following on Twitter and YouTube while promoting his theories about “soy globalism” attempting to control the population through diet. He touts pseudoscience to his followers, urging them to consume large amounts of raw eggs—called “slonking”—and uncooked foods, including meat, as a key to resisting their “tyranny.”

Before he turned up in Carlson’s pseudo-documentary, he had been featured on Infowars’ War Room with Owen Shroyer promoting the same claptrap. In addition to the underlying antisemitism of his rants about “globalists,” he regularly refers to “the Great Reset,” a QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theory concocted by COVID denialists and promoted heavily by Infowars’ Alex Jones, claiming that these “globalists” are using vaccines and health concerns to enslave the world. “Great Reset” theorists frequently use antisemitic themes to promote their claims.

“The enemy today is what I like to call soy globalism and the globalist aim is to destroy nations and local communities, and they do this by isolating and sickening the individual especially through food but also through so-called medicine and all the dreadful chemicals we're exposed to on a daily basis,” he told Shroyer. “Globalists want you to be fat, sick, depressed, and isolated. The better to control you and to milk you for as much economic value as they can before they kill you. That's the Great Reset in a nutshell. Own nothing. Live in the pod. Eat the soy.”

He reiterated these claims in Carlson’s pseudo-documentary, and in his appearances this week on Fox News:


TUCKER CARLSON: If the bro scientists have a spiritual leader, it would be a man who calls himself Raw Egg Nationalist. Here's his message.
RAW EGG NATIONALIST: The enemy today is what I like to call soy globalism. The globalist aim is to destroy nations and local communities, and they do this by isolating communities and sickening through food and also through so-called medicine. And all the dreadful chemicals we're exposed to on a daily basis. The globalists want you to be fat, sick, depressed, and isolated. The better to control you and to milk you for as much economic value as they can before they kill you. That's soy globalism in a nutshell. Own nothing. Live in the pod. Eat the soy.
The best response to this is a strong politics of nationalism. The nation is only as strong as the individuals who make it up. And that's where raw eggs come in. Eggs are a superfood packed with protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and anabolic cholesterol, the absolute opposite of the disgusting rubbish that globalists want you to eat. Eggs are cheap. You can’t patent an egg. By making the individual strong, you make the nation strong.

Carlson repeated that final line in a tweet promoting the interview.

“The End of Men” is devoted mostly to exploring the ideas of “bro scientists”—a movement led by non-scientists who embrace New Age-ish pseudoscience—such as Raw Egg Nationalist. Largely incoherent, it explores how modernity has ostensibly rendered men impotent with lowered testosterone levels and sperm count.

It features footage of muscle-bound men lifting weights in the Texas desert and “slonking” with great gusto. It also features other “Great Reset” promoters such as alt-right troll Mike Cernovich, who tells Carlson’s viewers that “most doctors aren’t real scientists.” Anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—who has used antisemitic rhetoric while leading the resistance to COVID vaccines—is also featured.

Carlson neglects to describe Raw Egg Nationalist’s extensive associations with white nationalists and the far right. He has published several books, including a text about bodybuilders and a recipe book for raw eggs, as well as his
Raw Egg Nationalism in Theory and Practice. Another book, titled The Eggs Benedict Option, explores the effects of the “globalist plan for food” and their “preparations for a new worldwide diet.” It features a foreword by prominent QAnon conspiracy theorist Noor Bin Ladin.

All of these books, as Jared Holt of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue points out, are published by Antelope Hill, a Pennsylvania-based house whose catalogue is entirely comprised of far-right texts, particularly translations of historical works by Nazis and fascists of the early to mid-20th century. It also publishes original works by contemporary white nationalists and neofascists.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog exposed Antelope Hill in an in-depth report earlier this year. “Since 2020, Antelope Hill has profited from hate by translating historical works by 20th-century Nazis and fascists, offering a publishing platform to contemporary white power propagandists and shipping books around the world using selling platforms including Amazon,” it reports.

Raw Egg Nationalist has also propounded on the purported decline of testosterone levels and sperm count in men in
The American Mind, a publication of the far-right think tank the Claremont Institute, which has descended into Trumpian extremism over the past five years; other pieces in the same publication have extolled the virtues of proto-fascist political violence and dispensing with traditional conservatism.

The same week that Carlson promoted him, Raw Egg Nationalist also showed up as the guest on the podcast of Lauren Southern, a well-known white nationalist who has marched with the Proud Boys, and was a leading participant in the effort by European far-right Identitarians to prevent refugees from Syria reach European shores.

At the end of that interview, Raw Egg Nationalist explains what’s going on in the scene in Carlson’s film with the man tanning his testicles on an infrared unit:

There was a study done in the 1930s which showed that sunlight exposure on different parts of the body stimulated testosterone production by varying amounts, and that sunlight exposure to the testicles stimulated the most testosterone production—something like a 200 percent testosterone increase. So that’s basic what the ball-tanning thing is about, exposing the ladic cells in the testicles, which produce testosterone, to particular frequencies of light which basically energize the cells and, the idea is, make them stimulate more testosterone production. And anecdotally, people seem to feel good about it.

In reality, of course, this kind of pseudoscience is not only bogus, but the effects of this treatment—called “red light therapy”—are more likely to have the reverse effect. The therapy is mostly used for certain dermal treatments, but there has never been a study of its ability to increase testosterone. Doctors says its use on testicles could actually lower your testosterone by warming up the genital area.

“The risks of it come with temperature changes as you elevate the temperature of the scrotum. If there is a temperature increase, sperm production will diminish, testosterone production will diminish, so there's that potential,” Amin Herati, M.D., director of male infertility and men’s health at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told GW Medical Faculty Associates.


“I think the biggest risk of testosterone therapy that I worry about with these guys ... is that it can cause you to be infertile,” warns Jesse Mills of UCLA’s School of Urology. “Let’s say that testicular tanning does actually improve your [testosterone] levels by anywhere from 30 to 200 percent—if you’re quoting a study that was never a real study in the first place—we don’t know what's happening to those sperm counts.”

“If you’re improving your testosterone by killing your sperm, that may be one of these bro-science things, which actually may do more harm than good.”

There is, moreover, a deeper danger lurking in the spread of this pseudoscience, because it has historically played a role in recruiting followers into fascist belief systems. Joshua Molloy and Dr. Eviane Leidig explained this danger in a piece for the Global Network on Extremism and Technology, noting that “gastropolitics has long played a historical role within the far-right”:

Maintaining the ideal masculine and feminine body devoid of modern influences is a far-right fetish that aestheticizes the purity of racial reproduction. As indicated above, a healthy body is projected as a healthy nation, which is atomized into individual heteronormative family units. The contemporary far-right continues this legacy through raw meat and dairy, as well as anti-seed oils, production and consumption. No longer is a reliance on BigAg, representing state control, necessary for survival. However, one key aspect of situating the importance of this movement is its high visual and aesthetic reproduction within digital cultures. While its origins are esoteric and fringe, it has steadily become more visible and recognized as a form of in-group community building among the broader far-right ecosystem, largely mainstreamed through prevalent right-wing figures. This type of conspiratorial spread, when linked to the Great Reset, may present the potential for violent consequences.

Of course, Carlson has a long history of promoting white-nationalist ideas and apologizing for far-right violence, regardless of the often violent consequences. This is nothing new for him—but it does expand the range of harm he will inevitably inflict on the rest of us.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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LIVE: Follow along with the January 6 committee's final public hearing

Brandi Buchman

The hearing effectively caps off an investigation that has only grown more nuanced as new revelations have emerged from separate probes launched by the Department of Justice into former President Donald Trump and others in his immediate orbit during his attempted coup.

All members of the panel are expected to speak Thursday. New evidence will also be presented including materials the committee obtained from the Secret Service after the agency was subpoenaed for its records tied to Jan. 6. There will be no witnesses appearing in person; instead, the committee will focus on what it has learned about Trump’s state of mind as he hurtled the nation toward bloodshed and destruction.

Interviews of former Trump White House officials may also be featured. Several members of his cabinet met with the committee after the panel’s hearing in July.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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UPDATE: Thursday, Oct 13, 2022 · 1:32:51 PM EDT · Brandi Buchman
We see a draft memo passed fromTom Fitton, Judicial Watch/conservative activist memo to Trump aide Molly Michael and Dan Scavino from OCT 31. The speech: "We had an election today and I won"

Lofgren says Trump campaign staffer Brad Parscale testified: Trump told him that he would say he won the election even if he lost it. In July. 2020.

We see a clip of Roger Stone from the Danish film crew: "The key thing to do is claim victory. Possession is 9/10ths of the law."Stone says you have to tell people "No, we won, not you. We won, **** you."
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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House select committee votes to subpoena Donald Trump over Jan. 6 coup attempt

Hunter

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 coup attempt has voted to subpoena Donald J. Trump to give testimony and produce documents relating to the January 6, 2021 coup attempt instigated and abetted by Trump and his allies. “Every American is entitled to these answers,” Rep. Liz Cheney said before the vote. The vote was unanimous.

In evidence shown earlier today, the committee demonstrated through testimony that Trump knew he had lost the 2020 presidential election and yet engaged in willful efforts to mislead the public for the purpose of nullifying that election loss.

If subpoenaed, Trump could be asked to testify under oath about each detail of those plans the committee has uncovered. He could also potentially be prosecuted for any provable lies during his testimony—though the threat of legal consequences has seldom dissuaded Trump, a habitual and constant liar, from lying.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Ukraine approaches strategic Svatove, as Russian Telegram invents phantom wins

kos

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HIMARS rockets ready for payback, with the names of Ukrainian cities struck by Russia's terrorist missile attack

Yesterday I noted that Russian Telegram had been hyping up a supposed offensive out of Kreminna, pushing west toward Lyman.



Given Ukrainian advances across that entire front, all the way up to the strategic town of Svatove to the north, an actual successful Russian counterattack would be truly notable. It would mean that Russia had stemmed its losses, rallied its forces, and begun retaking the initiative. But as I also said yesterday, Russian Telegram is only truthful when they’re in blind-panic mode. Unsurprisingly, these Russian advances never happened. As far as I can tell, Russia never even tried. So how do these same propaganda sources explain Ukraine’s control of those towns? Well, there are lots of ways!

Maybe Ukraine counter-counterattacked and pushed the Russians out:



But wait, that’s embarrassing, suggesting yet another Russian military defeat. Those sting. Instead, how about Russians voluntarily retreated for the fun of it?



Hmm, retreat isn’t much better. It means they can’t hold their ground against advancing Ukrainian forces. So how about this—Russia isn’t retreating, Those towns are a “gray zone” and, you know, anyone can possibly occupy them at any given moment.



Meanwhile, Ukrainian sources roll their eyes and are like “it’s quiet in that direction.” The real action is up north, at Svatove. Ukrainian forces have been steadily, methodically, pushing closer and closer to this strategic transportation hub.

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This is how close the AFU is to Svatove.--Def Mon

Let’s pull back to get a sense of the broader strategic picture:


sva.png


It’s funny seeing Izyum so far from the front lines, around 40-50 kilometers depending on the exact location of the front lines. (@War_Mapper shows fewer Ukrainian advances than DefMon, who himself is very conservative in his map updates. War Mapper likes to wait for official confirmation.)

If you look closely at Svatove, you can see that almost every road in that region runs through Svatove, making it strategically important to both sides. But even more importantly, Svatove opens up the approach to Starobilsk, with almost no natural barriers to slow down a Ukrainian advance (except maybe for rainy season). Every road and railroad in that sparsely populated agricultural steppe region runs through Starobilsk.

That means if Svatove is retaken, a big chunk of Russian-held red territory in the middle of that map above automatically turns Ukrainian yellow. But if Starobilsk is liberated? The entire Russian presence in the northeast will clear out, cut off from supplies, down to the Luhansk purple on the map. And best of all, that dark line through Starobilsk is Russia’s last functional rail link into Ukraine from its main supply hub at Belgorod, just north of Kharkiv. Once Ukraine cuts that line, Russia’s logistics are truly f’d, and will need to be completely reconfigured toward eastern Ukraine.

Russia, for its part, is rushing its best and its brightest to Svatove’s defense, and some of them aren’t even 60 years old (the guy in the middle, at least):




These sad saps were called up from their hometowns, sent to Belgorod, then trucked to Svatove, where they were dumped into flooded trenches they said were “half destroyed, even with weapons lying around, as the guys before us also ran away from there.” They waited in those trenches, under constant Ukrainian mortar fire and without food or water for three days (because why would Russia care about its own), until water came up to their waist. They said screw it and walked down a road thinking they were walking back to Belgorod, until they came across a Ukrainian checkpoint and happily surrendered.

This is what “shaping the battlefield” current looks like for Ukraine—forcing Russian defenders from their entrenched defensive positions, and apparently the rain and Russian incompetence is assisting. Ideally, by the time Ukrainian forces are ready to march on Svatove itself, there won’t be many defenders left.
Russia’s inability to support and train its forces can lead to some … I want to say “hilarious” situations, but people are dying so that feels wrong. On the other hand, come on



Hitting a buried anti-tank mine? That’s bad luck. You can’t see them. But here, the Russian driver pulled onto the road, with two rows of neatly laid out mines, and didn’t even pause or slow down as he drove over them with the all-too-obvious result. Clearly, no one ever told this driver “those things go boom boom, so don’t drive on them if you see them.” He’s in a war zone, without even the most rudimentary education on what to expect. And yet they put this guy behind the wheel of an armored infantry vehicle, full of comrades in the back!

Stung by criticism in Russian media about the lack of training for the mobilized, their Ministry of Defense staged this Potemkin “training” to pretend otherwise. It’s quite hilarious (and this time, no one has died … yet).



They are literally pretending to shoot as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu “inspects” the training. (Turns out Shoigu hasn’t been ousted as some rumors suggested.) They superimpose small arms fire over the video to try and complete the illusion, but their clumsy effort pathetically fails. They don’t even care enough to give those trainees empty magazines to make the whole thing more believable!

If you want to see what competent infantry training looks like, here’s my son’s advanced infantry training unit doing live fire drills during the day, and at night (using night-vision gear Russia can only dream of having). Notice how it’s not a chaotic cluster****, and how they’re actually firing live rounds. (By the way, since I know you’ll ask, he’s doing great, still working his way through the pre-Ranger pipeline. Of the roughly 30 in his training unit that began the process, just
two are left. My kid is stubborn and refuses to quit. Assuming all goes well, he’ll start Ranger school on November 1. If you don’t know what that is, you can read this, or watch this.)

Meanwhile, on a more practical level, Russia’s indiscriminate mobilization threatens to bring its country’s educational system to a halt. With all male teachers and administrators hauled away, there are fewer teachers left to educate Russia’s children.
........
Russia’s diplomatic situation continues to deteriorate.




The four pro-Russian votes are the usual suspects: Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua, and Syria. Cuba and Serbia, close Russian allies, couldn’t bring themselves to support Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. The murderous North Korea-style regime in Eritrea, having voted for Russia in previous votes, weirdly abstained. All the nations in the CSTO—Russia’s supposed NATO-style military alliance—abstained in the vote. China and India abstained, both of them having already signaled their unhappiness with the war.

For a country that
still insists it is fighting “Nazis” in Ukraine, weird how the entire world doesn’t see it that way, not even most of Russia’s closest friends
............


Speaking of Potemkin, remember the day of the attack, how Russia published video of cars and trains crossing the bridge? That was their attempt at a “NICE TRY, UKRAINE!” Yet here we are, six days later, and Russia is still working to restore service. Too bad Ukraine doesn’t have HIMARS to take out that floating crane and finish the job on the clearly weakened rail bridge.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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U.S.-Saudi relationship crumbling quickly as U.S. accuses kingdom of siding with Putin

Hunter

The relationship between the United States and the journalist-killing Saudi Arabian monarchy is deteriorating quickly after the OPEC Plus decision to further cut world oil production, a move publicly blasted by the United States as an attempt to bolster consortium member Russia's efforts to starve Europe of energy in the coming winter as means of pressuring European nations into reducing their support for Ukraine.

National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby appears to be the official dispenser of the Biden administration's ire. In a Tuesday CNN appearance, Kirby strongly signaled that the Biden administration might be willing to support congressional calls for substantive retaliation against the kingdom, possibly including a partial or total freeze of U.S. arms sales. Sen. Richard Blumenthal introduced a bill this week calling for a one-year arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, halting even "spare and repair parts" and "technical and logistical support services."

That would be an enormous shift in the U.S.-Saudi relationship; the kingdom has been a big spender when it comes to U.S.-developed military gear, and a freeze of even spare parts shipments might significantly reduce Saudi military capabilities for the near future. That's a move that wasn't made when the United States came to the conclusion that the Saudi monarchy ordered the murder of a Washington Post columnist who had angered the kingdom, nor when the United States and the rest of the world were condemning Saudi atrocities against civilians in Yemen.

But President Joe Biden had been taking on significant political risks in an attempt to patch up U.S.-Saudi relations this summer, including with a July diplomatic trip to the kingdom, so the White House could well see the OPEC Plus move to shore up Putin as a specific rebuff. He wouldn't be wrong. The Saudi monarchy has cozied up tight to the remnants of the Trump administration, throwing money at both Trump himself and at Trump's solver-of-all-problems Jared Kushner. But their diplomatic efforts don't seem to extend to the current U.S. government, and there's been broad speculation that the Saudi government is trying to send gas prices soaring not necessarily to boost Putin, but to boost Republican chances in the rapidly nearing midterm elections.

Kirby's Tuesday statements
really put a bee in Saudi bonnets, however. Via CNN senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly, the kingdom has now released a long and snippy statement denying the accusation that the OPEC Plus decision was intended to boost Putin's attempted sabotage of European energy markets, and rejecting the notion that Saudi Arabia strong-armed smaller OPEC Plus members into going along.

Yeah, that didn't go over well. On the contrary, Kirby and the White House have now responded with the diplomatic equivalent of a flaming paper bag on the Saudi porch. They're
mad.

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That's very harsh language in diplomatic circles. The administration doesn't appear to be convinced that a move to spike oil prices right before an already-precarious European winter or an American election that will play a large role in determining whether America itself shifts toward authoritarianism was a purely economic decision.

To be blunt, the Saudi monarchy hasn't done much to convince U.S. diplomatic leaders that Saudi Arabia is willing to make concessions of its own, even as it demands U.S. forgiveness for the murder of a journalist, the whitewashing of atrocities in Yemen, decade upon decade of predatory manipulation of oil markets and omnipresent human rights abuses, and the overlooking of what appears to be a Putinesque decision to boost and bribe Trump-connected figures in order to tweak the U.S. elected government into something more favorable to its interests.

As of yet, however, all this is for show. The Biden administration’s threats to "reevaluate" Saudi relations are meant to provoke either some signal from the Saudi monarchy that they're willing to help thwart Putin's energy hostage-taking in Europe or, at the least, won't actively boost it.

Whether the Saudi dictatorship can offer any concession large enough to paper over state-sanctioned murders and newly brazen efforts to meddle in American politics is an open question. If Republicans prevail in the midterm elections, the Saudi monarchy might choose to stonewall U.S. diplomats for the next two years, banking on Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, and a possibly returning Donald Trump to re-reset our policies once again. Perhaps in exchange for financing another Kushner-led investment fund.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump’s ambassador to the EU says what we all know about his ex-boss: He’s a ‘dick’

Rebekah Sager

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A U.S. ambassador appointed by former President Donald Trump has written in his new memoir that his ex-boss was a “dick” and a “narcissist.” We hope there’s more, because that’s not revelatory news to anyone with a brain in their head.

Gordon Sondland was appointed to his role in 2018, two years after donating $1 million to Trump after the 2016 election. The former hotelier, like all of Trump’s appointees, had zero skills or experience for the job, but that didn’t stop him from taking it.

His new book, titled, The Envoy: Mastering the Art of Diplomacy with Trump and the World, will be published on Oct. 25, The Guardian (which got an advance copy of the book) reports.

Barnes and Noble describe Sondland’s book as a “behind-the-scenes look at Trump, his cabinet, and an international diplomacy you’ve never seen before—written by someone with no scores to settle, no hidden agenda, no check to cash, and no ****s to give.”

In the book, Sondland, 64, compares working for Trump to “staying at an all-inclusive resort. You’re thrilled when you first arrive, but things start to go downhill fast. Quality issues start to show. The people who work the place can be rude and not so bright. Attrition is a huge problem. And eventually, you begin to wonder why you agreed to the deal in the first place.”

That said, according to Sondland, he was following Trump’s order in the blackmail phone call of the recently elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He confirmed the whole quid pro quo with Trump and Zelenskyy during his 2019 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in Trump’s first impeachment hearing.

Sondland explained at the time that Trump wanted Zelenskyy to investigate Hunter Biden, and in exchange, Zelenskyy would get military aid to Kyiv and an Oval Office visit, The Washington Post reports.

In his book, Sondland brushes off the whole thing, writing that “Quid pro quos happen all the time,” adding that “studies that show when married men pitch in and clean the bathroom, they have more sex.” Who’s the dick now?

Sondland didn’t earn any friends by testifying about folks such as Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state, who was deeply connected to the infamous Trump-Zelenskyy phone call.

Mostly Sondland just drags his former boss, describing an Oval Office with loud country music “blasting from inside” and Trump spending more time “vetting the theme music for his next rally” than preparing for meetings with foreign dignitaries.

“Trump does focus on some details, and this is an important one,” Sondland writes. “Never mind that the Oval Office sounds like a country western bar, and we are supposed to be prepping for a visit with a foreign leader.”

At one point, Sondland writes that he once reminded Trump in 2016, “you were kind of a dick to me when we first met,” and, according to The Guardian, Sondland made reference to the former president’s narcissist tendencies.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump Lashes Out Impotently After January 6th Committee Votes to Subpoena Him

News Corpse

The January 6th Committee investigating the violent insurrection in Washington, D.C. that Donald Trump incited, held what is likely their last hearing before publishing their findings. Much of the hearing consisted of summations tying together the evidence that Trump knew about the violence taking place at the Capitol and not only approved of it, but deliberately inflamed it.

After doing nothing but watching the deadly riots on television at the White House for three hours, Trump eventually released a statement telling the rioters that he understood their anger and that he loved them. Further testimony found that he wanted to join them in their coup attempt, and that he knew that many of them came armed and prepared for battle.

The success of the bipartisan hearings in the the House drove Trump to attack them frequently, and even to threaten to sue them.

The most noteworthy news coming out of this hearing was that the committee voted to subpoena Trump to testify. There have already been hundreds of witnesses, most of them Republicans and veterans of the Trump administration. And the case against Trump is regarded by legal experts as overwhelming and airtight.

The last piece of the probe's puzzle would be Trump's perspective. Not that it's necessary at this point given the volume of testimony and documentary evidence already compiled. But if nothing else, it would give Trump an opportunity to make his own case. So naturally Trump blew up and posted an incoherent response on his fatally floundering social media scam, Truth social. Trump whined...


"Why didn’t the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago? Why did they wait until the very end, the final moments of their last meeting? Because the Committee is a total “BUST” that has only served to further divide our Country which, by the way, is doing very badly - A laughing stock all over the World?"

Trump is exhibiting his notorious ignorance of legal matters in this comment. The principle targets of any investigation are always interviewed at the end so that their version of events can be compared to those of other witnesses. What's more, Trump was actually invited to testify voluntarily, and told that he was welcome to come before the Committee at any time and at his convenience. He repeatedly declined and castigated the Committee with childish insults, including his pathetic nickname, the "Unselect" committee.

Trump is unlikely to comply with this subpoena without engaging in a drawn out and futile legal battle to quash it. That's his modus operandi to pursue perpetual delays. To date his efforts to avoid subpoenas in other cases have all failed. So when he was ultimately forced to comply, as with the New York Attorney General, he showed up and pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than 400 hundred times.

Clearly Trump doesn't believe that "the Committee is a total 'BUST'." If he did he would jump at the chance to appear with his allegedly irrefutable evidence of election fraud, and embarrass the Committee with his brilliantly constructed defense.

To the contrary, Cadet Bone Spurs is demonstrating again that he is a pitiful coward who is too scared to take a stand on his own behalf. Unlike his nemesis, Hillary Clinton, who testified before a Republican congressional committee for eleven hours, answering every question, and not complaining once about being persecuted, or calling her interrogators infantile names.


Trump's comment closed with the accusation that the Committee is trying to "divide our Country" and has made it "A laughing stock all over the world." As usual, he is projecting. Because that's exactly what Trump himself has done. And now that he is being offered yet another chance to state his case, he will surely continue to refuse in favor of inducing more division and laughter at his own expense.
.........
UPDATE:
Trump posted a couple of additional similarly feeble comments. One asked "Why didn’t Crazy Nancy Pelosi call out the 'troops' before January 6th, which I strongly recommended that she do." Of course, there is no evidence that he ever made such a recommendation, and Pelosi doesn't have jurisdiction over that anyway.

The other comment said that the "Committee knowingly failed to examine the massive voter fraud which took place during the 2020 Presidential Election." However, there isn't a shred of evidence of any voter fraud. And if Trump were really interested in presenting some, he could do it in front of millions of Americans watching him testify before the Committee, which he's too scared to do because he knows he's got nothing to say.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Jan. 6 committee votes to subpoena the 'center' of the insurrection: Donald Trump

Brandi Buchman

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Hat-Trick (Day) of Bad News for TFG

B obby Boucher

Kind of wrote this in a hurry, so forgive mistakes. Well today all the stars aligned to form a hat trick or triple threat of bad news for the Trumpster.
  • Supreme Court Rejects His Request to override the 11th circuit over the Mar-a-Lago Docs.
  • Jan 6 Committee Subpoenas TFG for documents and testimony.
  • TFG, who launched a Defense to the E. Jean Carroll Defamation Lawsuit based on acting in the scope of his duties when he denied the allegations, including when he dismissed his accuser as “not my type, as a Federal employee, wrote a statement in response to a ruling that he must testify; where he committed the same offense.
Trump doubled down on the comment in his statement Wednesday, saying: “And, while I am not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type!

While the latter happened yesterday, I’m saying he most likely didn’t know that he blew his “defense” at the time and probably found out from the overwhelming legal analysis of the enormity of his blunder. Of course, now he is a private citizen, he lost any protection if he ever had it as President. Open mouth, insert foot.

Lots of schadenfreude to go around!

More juicy dirt. This is
Significant. Video testimony of Cassidy Hutchison hearing TFG, after losing his final last gasp hope after the Supreme Court ruled against him on a key case about the 2020 election, “this is embarrassing,” and “I don’t want people to know that we lost”.

Several other juicy revelations I’ll leave for others to diary but here’s a short summary.

  • Testimony that Trump ordered immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Somalia vindicating in some sense it was going to be a disaster immediately, on any accelerated schedule, and demonstrated Trump knew he lost because why order this to be implemented before you left office unless you knew you were leaving office?
  • In today’s J6C hearing, video of Democratic Party leaders, Pelosi and Hoyer, taking charge, contacting governors, the Acting USAG, VP Pence, VP Elect Harris, working with McConnell and others in an American yet alone bipartisan fashion while the dumpster did NOTHING. Also kind of eliminates the Republican talking point that Nancy did nothing during the insurrection but could have ordered up the National Guard (untrue).
  • Secret Service and FBI were shown to be negligent in not acting on numerous warnings based on their own and other agency’s’ intelligence. More to come on this I’m sure.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
111,356
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Tip: If you're staking out elections offices with 'night vision goggles,' you're doing it wrong

Hunter

Reuters has an update on the influx of Republican Party-backed "election observers" looking for evidence of all that invisible election fraud their treason-backing party leaders keep bellowing about, and it's mostly more of the same. We learned earlier about Republican election training sessions that featured GOP partisans brazenly recommending ways to violate election laws by, for example, smuggling in smartphones or other recording devices.

Essentially there's a two-pronged approach. There's a Republican effort to recruit poll watchers in roughly the traditional way, albeit many more of them, and there's a cooperative effort by foaming Republican conspiracy cranks to put their fellow foaming conspiracy cranks into election offices so that they can ... foam. Where one ends and the other begins is muddy. For example, Reuters notes that seditious sack of crap Mark Meadows is the "senior partner" of the Conservative Partnership Institute acting as funder for rabid election hoax promoter Cleta Mitchell's alleged election "integrity" group, and that seditious sack of crap Donald Trump's Save America PAC handed over $1 million last year to assist those efforts.

So it's the most connected people in the Republican Party who are funding the most aggressive sedition-promoting election hoaxers in the party, as national pundits sit around wondering how much of the party's conspiracy promotion can be tied to Legitimate Republican Party Figures.

Uh, all of it, Charlie. That's the damn point. This stuff is all being funded by the same deep pockets that fund the anti-immigration hoaxes and the white nationalist hoaxes and the demands that elderly Americans choose between lifesaving medication and being able to eat tomorrow. From the "Tea Party" to the so-called detective searching a workman's truck at gunpoint because he's convinced the local air conditioner repair guy is smuggling fake ballots for China to the contents of Tucker Carlson's Neo-Nazi Funtime Revue, this is all on television because some specific team of longtime Republican backers decided that they would pay money to sure it happened.

Anyhow, Reuters has a few examples of how Republican "election monitoring" is going that really speak to the quality of monitors being shoved into our elections process.

There was the group praying for "evil to descend" on elections workers doing a recount of ballots in Colorado's July primaries after four(!) Republican candidates insisted that other Republicans had Done Fraud; no, we're not sure what's up with that. Was this a general appeal for God to send a plague of frogs down to interrupt the vote count? Maybe the frogs would jam the equipment, rendering further vote-counting impossible? Couldn't tell you.

But the one sure thing about top Republican shriekers shrieking out conspiracy theories about "stolen" elections is that the Americans who will respond the most to such talk will be other conspiracy theorists. The whole
point of spreading such hoaxes is to attract the most gullible brickheads in the country, and here they are.

"During early voting in Arizona's Pima County, an election observer was told to put away binoculars; another was caught looking at private voter data, and another was asked to stop making comments about 'fraudulent elections,'" reports Reuters. Great. Outstanding. So we've got a muttering weirdo, a person
intentionally looking to violate some election laws themselves, and somebody who, uh, brought binoculars to "observe" the voting.

Did this person confuse election observation with birdwatching? The point of the binoculars was what, now?


Oh, look at that voter's ballot. What lovely plumage! It's rare to see that pattern this far south, I hope somebody gets a picture.

Yeah, we know what the binoculars were for. Somebody was looking to peep at how certain people voted. No doubt to decide whether it was a ballot that should be considered "suspicious" by Republican Party standards.

This one, however, is a stumper.

"In Nevada's Washoe County, people with night vision goggles stood outside the registrar's building and aimed their cameras at election workers counting votes on primary night in June, two Washoe County officials told Reuters."

What. The Actual. Strawberries. People with
night vision goggles were trying to "observe" the vote count? Night vision goggles?

What the hell did they imagine "vote counting" to be, as they staked out the local registrar's office? Did they show up in their tactical vote counting pants? What did they drive up in, a Humvee camouflaged under an assortment of hanging chads? What is even going on with that?

Whatever Vote Team Six was up to, they were probably disappointed to learn that the vote counting went on in a fully lit building, thus rendering their night vision goggles pointless. But recording election officials as they counted votes, now that's a bit more dodgy. And none of it speaks to the perpetrators being anything less than
AHEM a few crudités short of a party platter, or however you want to phrase that. Yeesh.

So that's how things stand, a few weeks before the November elections. Republicans have been steadily funding a movement of weird American conspiracy cranks that don't understand the first thing about how
not to violate election laws but who consider themselves crack detectives who will uncover an alleged worldwide conspiracy to violate them via satellites and space lasers. It's probably going better than expected, in most election offices, but that doesn't mean it'll stay that way on the big day.

And the same Republican groups will be claiming "fraud" is responsible for any result they don't particularly like, whether or not their night-vision-goggles-wearing, binoculars-using, smartphone-smuggling election monitors find it or not, so we can expect this to get worse before it gets better.