More to ignore, Book 50..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Friday, Apr 15, 2022 · 1:14:20 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
Ukraine has also lost something ship-shaped though not quite so large. What’s most amazing here is that Ukraine still had something afloat in the Sea of Azov.



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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Friday, Apr 15, 2022 · 1:19:18 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
Shortly after the Moskva was reported to have been damaged, radio and radar traffic showed a number of Russian vessels hurrying to its area, apparently attempting to rescue some of the 510 sailors of the cruiser’s crew. Water temperatures in the Black Sea are low, and conditions were very difficult that night. This news makes it likely that very few of the ship’s crew survived the attack.

At this point, you have to wonder how many life rafts remained unsold on the Moskva, and how many were in usable condition on the 45-year-old ship.

 

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Ukraine update: Russian media claims the EU is about to splinter, with Russia regaining East Germany
Mark Sumner

GettyImages-1239984234.jpg

Near Kyiv, Ukrainian tractors are working on their second job. April 15, 2022.

News out of Mariupol suggests that many of the remaining Ukrainian fighters are restricted to the Azovstal metal refinery on the southeast of the city. That may make it seem that Russia has these Ukrainian forces backed into a single building, which they can simply level with the next round of artillery.

But that plant is actually an enormous expanse of connected refineries, factories, offices, and shipping facilities. Overall, there’s about a square mile of Azovstal buildings, plus miles more of slag heaps, coal piles, and metal ore around them. It was easily the least scenic area in Mariupol, even before the bombing began—the kind of industrial hellscape seen in some American cities before the steel industry was made to clean up its act. It’s just that now the rest of the Mariupol has been reduced to match.

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Mariupol showing areas still thought to be under Ukrainian control

The blue area here represents most of the Azovstal buildings. This is also the area where a large number of surrenders were reported on Wednesday. This suggests that not everyone in this area—which is known to have held members of the 36th Marine Brigade—took part in the surrender. On the west side of the map, in the area colored yellow, is an area that was earlier known to be under the control of the Azov Battalion. Some members of the 36th earlier fought their way across that gap in between (a space that contains a lot of the slag heaps, coal piles, etc) to connect with Azov. At the start of the week, Ukrainian fighters were also said to hold positions in the north-central part of the city, but there have been few reports from that area and the current status isn’t known.

In any case, Russia seems focused on crushing the resistance that remains at Azovstal.



Sometime today, Oryx's page tracking equipment losses in Ukraine is likely to tally the 3,000th verified Russian loss. (At the time of this writing, it’s sitting at 2,899, including 507 tanks, but there are several vehicles known to not currently be included in those totals). It’s been a while now since we ran the report on Russian losses from the Ukrainian ministry of defense, but here are those numbers at this point.



While these numbers are higher than those at Oryx, that site only records the equipment that can be verified from images and videos released online, and which can be determined to not be a duplicate of some other image. That means the Oryx numbers are a minimum. For the most part, the Ukrainian MOD numbers seem entirely reasonable, with the possible exception of the aircraft, which is also understandable. A shot fired at a tank is likely to give somewhat definitive results, but a bullet fired at a jet or helicopter, even if it works, may not leave behind a wreck on Ukrainian territory. It’s easy to imagine soldiers reporting that they scored a hit, but don’t have a tail number on the ground to be recorded.
...........

A prisoner exchange reportedly took place between Russian and Ukrainian forces outside Kherson. The number of the prisoners exchanged was small—four Russian soldiers for five Ukrainians—but the location may tell us something.

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Prisoner exchange at Posad-Pokrovske

The location was the village of Posad-Pokrovske, along the M14 highway connecting Mykolaiv and Kherson. This position can likely be regarded as the current line between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the area, suggesting that despite an apparent Ukrainian attempt to take Kherson from the south, and an exchange of several towns and villages to the northeast, the border of occupied territory along this route hasn’t really changed in the last two weeks.
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Russian media is spinning further and further into their own kind of Pu-Anon.



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As with many such conspiracy theories, the biggest point is to claim that your enemy—in this case, both NATO and the EU—is very weak and soon going to fall apart, leaving your team in the driver’s seat. This kind of claim can be good at raising morale and confidence in the short term. In the long term, people begin to notice that your wonder team is always losing to a weak team.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Friday, Apr 15, 2022 · 4:08:40 PM EDT · Mark Sumner

TTM note: re the heavy bombers over Mariupol mentioned above..... the ones that reportedy carried out the bombing mission.......

These are “Backfire bombers” to use the Western term that was common coinage during the Cold War. They were once one of Russia’s most feared strategic weapons, a supersonic bomber capable of carrying nuclear missiles 4,000 kilometers to strike at distant targets.

Now it’s being used to drop bombs on a warehouse in Mariupol, thirty miles from the Russian border. There’s not just a “how the mighty have fallen” aspect to this, but a big … Huh. Why would they do that?


Tupolev_Tu-22M3M_GEFEST_%2819230388334%29.jpg

 

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Strike two: Trump's Oz endorsement quickly turning into his second disaster in Pennsylvania
Kerry Eleveld

The last time we checked in on Donald Trump's endorsement of celebrity healther Dr. Mehmet Oz for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat, right-wingers from Roger Stone to former OANN anchors were blasting the move. Even Trump's first pick in the state who was forced to bow out, alleged domestic abuser Sean Parnell, said the endorsement was "the antithesis of everything that made Trump the best president of my lifetime.”

Now Trumpworld is rushing to contain the fallout among his base, according to Politico. A bunch of Trump surrogates plan to hit the campaign trail—a show of force intended to reinforce "the depth of his MAGA backing." Ben Carson, former brain surgeon and one-time Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Trump, will be one of them.

But even Fox News is a house divided on the topic, a perfect reflection of how the Oz endorsement has confounded pro-Trumpers.
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On Monday, Sean Hannity featured Oz as a guest so the candidate could talk up his conservative cred. Hannity was reportedly one of the main people pulling for the Oz endorsement. But if one thing has come to light through Trump's pretty horrendous string of 2022 endorsements, it's that Trump toadies like Hannity haven't exactly given him the soundest advice.

On the show, Hannity proceeded to give Oz his personal seal of approval, claiming that the feedback he had gotten on Trump's backing was "99% supportive."

“When I supported Donald Trump pretty early, I got the crap beaten out of me—Glenn Beck, Ben Shapiro," Hannity recalled of 2016, "and I promised people he’d govern as a conservative, and he did. And I’m saying the same thing about you.”

But not all Fox hosts agree. Laura Ingraham followed Hannity's segment with one in which she interviewed Kellyanne Conway, who's now working with a Super PAC that supports Oz's No. 1 rival, businessman David McCormick.

“Kellyanne, do you think the Trump endorsement of Oz was a mistake?” Ingraham asked, before quickly adding, "You wouldn’t answer the question of whether it was a mistake. I think it was a mistake for Trump to endorse Oz. I’ll say it; I’m not afraid to say it.”

Parnell, who also backs McCormick, told Politico that his phone has been "ringing off the hook from committee chairs in Pennsylvania saying, ‘What the heck is going on? What was President Trump thinking?’”

The chaos that has erupted among Trump acolytes both within and outside the state has some Pennsylvania Republicans worried.

Oz backer Gloria “Lee” Snover, chair of the Northampton Republican Party, said of the criticism, “Unless you’re really wanting to damage us in the general, I don’t know why you’re continuing this. ... Okay, it happened. It’s done. You’re going to continue to trash the Republican Party? Please stop.”

The primary takes place on May 17. Oz and McCormick have been duking it out for first on the Republican side, where McCormick has held a slight but consistent edge and was also gunning for Trump's blessing. But recent polling has also suggested a sizable chunk of Keystone State Republicans remained undecided prior to Trump weighing in.

McCormick has lined up some prominent backers of his own, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has campaigned with McCormick.

But Trump, the thinnest skinned of them all, hasn't yet announced a visit to the state to rally behind Oz. Instead, he seems content to let the candidate dangle in the wind for a bit to see how he fares.

Of course, Trump could have simply waited out the primary after his first endorsee in the state went down in flames. Instead, he muddled the race by choosing the less popular candidate—a fellow TV huckster with dodgy political chops.

Welcome to Trump’s club, Pennsylvania.
 

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Scott Pruitt, who left Trump's cabinet over many corruption scandals, to run for Senate in Oklahoma
Daily Kos

Shortly before Friday's deadline to run passed, former Trump administration Environmental Agency director Scott Pruitt, who previously served as Oklahoma state attorney general from 2011 until he joined Trump's cabinet in 2017, filed and indicated he would run in the upcoming special election to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe. Pruitt gained national notoriety for leading the EPA on a crusade to undermine its very mission by aggressively rolling back regulations against pollution in favor of the fossil fuel industry and denying human-made climate change, but it was his cartoonish level of corruption scandals that led to him resigning just over a year into his tenure.

Indeed, by the time Pruitt stepped down in July 2018, he was the subject of at least 15 federal investigations into his conduct as a Trump official. Among Pruitt's many dubious activities were his penchant for living high on the taxpayers' dime, including first-class airfare, luxury hotels, and other exorbitant travel spending; a pattern of financially benefiting from lobbyists such as renting a Capitol Hill condo from one for only $50 a night; $4.6 million in security spending that included a $42,000 soundproof phone booth in his office, his own 24-hour security detail, and $3,000 on "tactical pants;" and also using his office and aides to run personal errands and help advance his wife's business interests.

While Pruitt won plaudits from conservatives for rolling back Obama administration environmental protections, it remains to be seen just how willing voters will be to overlook his laundry list of corruption scandals. He joins a crowded June GOP primary that includes Rep. Markwayne Mullin, former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, state Sen. Nathan Dahm, former Inhofe chief of staff Luke Holland, and former white house staffer Alex Gray.
 

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Fox News says ‘verified’ account on Trump’s Truth Social is fake news
Walter Einenkel

On Tuesday afternoon, an Axios reporter tweeted about Fox News’ verified account on Truth Social, Donald Trump’s social media platform. Shares in the disastrous tech endeavor spiked, and then that Axios reporter deleted the tweet. According to Axios, this is because it turns out, the account—which was promoted by parody cow account litigator Devin Nunes himself, is fake news. No, not “fake news” in the way Fox News isn’t really news; fake news as in Fox News says they have no account on Truth Social.

To quote a Fox News spokesperson speaking to Axios: "We are not on Truth Social."

Devin Nunes, the CEO of Truth Social, reportedly tweeted out a screenshot of the account on the platform and lied, saying, "Great to have RSS feed for @FoxNews now LIVE here on TRUTH!" Nunes has not been available to comment on this news. I guess being the CEO of a social media company that just launched must mean hiding from news and social media outlets?
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This is just the latest stumble by the Trump media platform. The platform launched with major delays back in February, and the revelation that the application’s design might very well face a copyright infringement lawsuit. This was followed by the predictable, but still bad, news that for all Trump and other “freedom” warriors’ griping about “censorship,” the Truth Social app was fine with banning and censoring all kinds of folks.

This led to late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel saying, “Truth Social has been such a disappointment so far, Trump may have to rename it to ‘Don Jr.’” As funny as that joke is, the sentiment was echoed by reports that Donald Trump himself was heard barking, “What the **** is going on?” into a phone when discussing his social media platform.

Most recently, Josh Adams and Billy Boozer—the company’s chiefs of technology and product development—had resigned from Truth Social over the past couple of weeks. Adams and Boozer were considered technology architects for the Truth Social platform and their departures are yet another sign that the rats are fleeing the flaming garbage barge that is Truth Social.

According to Mashable’s Matt Binder, Truth Social seems to be in the bot-like practice of setting up big-company accounts, setting that company’s RSS feed to post, and making it look as if those companies have official accounts with the service. It’s a classic bit of propaganda with plausible deniability—if you don’t put a “verified” check on it, and add a small label that denotes this is a “bot” account. If one has the wherewithal to follow through on that small “bot” label, the app will explain that the account is not sanctioned or run by the company (i.e. NFL) represented in the account. However, the Fox News kerfuffle includes Truth Social’s CEO, Devin Nunes, promoting the new account as an officially sanctioned one.

Nunes_Truth_Social.jpg


The clearly right-wing media play by Trump and Nunes and whoever is pumping and dumping money behind the scenes has not gained the traction they hoped. Prominent right-wing and ultra-right-wing media personalities like Glenn Beck, Steve Bannon, and Tucker Carlson are still nowhere to be found on the platform.


But the good news for pump and dumpers, the “special acquisition company”—that is, the shell money behind Truth social—Digital World Acquisition saw its
publicly traded share price rise with Nunes’ fake news.
 

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Devin Nunes' latest goofball lawsuit is slapped into the dirt by panel of Trump-appointed judges
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Whenever I think about former Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, I can’t help but picture him living in a little wren’s nest inside Donald Trump’s neck wattle, occasionally poking his head out to catch cascading donut sprinkles on his lolling lemur tongue as he fecklessly plots his enemies’ downfall from the safety of his Lilliputian villain’s lair.

It’s no big revelation that Nunes—whom Trump tapped to run his latest business venture because he was the only thin-skinned dairy farmer left in his Rolodex—loves to sue both people and make-believe ungulates. Similarly, it’s no surprise when he loses the suits. Though it
is effing hilarious.

Case in point: Another of Nunes’ goofball lawsuits has been unceremoniously slapped down—this time by a majority of Trump-appointed judges. The 2nd U.S. District Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled on Thursday that Nunes “failed to seek a correction fast enough” in his $435 million (!) defamation suit against CNN, according to a Reuters report. The report also noted that Nunes was unable to show he deserved “special” economic damages. As a result, his suit was dismissed with prejudice.

Reuters:

Nunes sued over a Nov. 22, 2019 article that said Lev Parnas, a then-indicted associate of former Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, was willing to testify before Congress that Nunes met in 2018 with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss "digging up dirt" on [Joe] Biden, a Democrat and now U.S. president.
The former Republican congressman also objected to a broadcast of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," where the reporter and host Chris Cuomo discussed his alleged role in "looking for dirt" on Biden and his son Hunter.
Nunes denied the accusations, said his reputation was damaged, and branded CNN "the mother of fake news."

This 2-1 ruling comes on the heels of an April 1 federal appeals court decision upholding the dismissal of Nunes’ $250 million defamation suit against The Washington Post. And we’re already familiar with his rapidly accumulating losses against pretend Twitter cows.

But don’t laugh. Somewhere in a stark white room at the edge of eternity, a team of chimps banging on typewriters is almost certainly putting the finishing touches on a Nunes lawsuit against you. Because you get a lawsuit, and you get a lawsuit, and you and you and you! Everybody gets a lawsuit!

Presumably, all you have to do is say Trump’s floundering Truth Social platform, which Nunes is spearheading, is marginally less interesting than trying to chart the precise momentum, velocity, and trajectory of the Ping-Pong ball in Devin’s head.

Eventually, Nunes will run out of people to sue and be forced to focus on the business he’s presumably running. And after that fails, he can sue his mother for repeatedly dropping him on his head before his skull had fully fused. (Note to Devin: I don’t really think your mom dropped you on your head as a baby, so please don’t sue me. It would make me sick to my four-chambered stomach. Truly.)
 

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Driving the news: Trump in recent days began calling donors and advisers to weigh a Vance endorsement but held off after pressure from the GOP campaigns of Josh Mandel and Jane Timken, who had attempted to dissuade him from the endorsement, NBC News reported.
  • Trump advisers say that the former president sees an opportunity to propel Vance's campaign with an endorsement. Vance is currently running in about third place in recent polling, per NBC.
  • NBC was the first to report on Trump's endorsement.
What they're saying: "Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now," the former President said in a statement.
  • "In the Great State of Ohio, the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November is J.D. Vance. We cannot play games. It is all about winning," Trump added.
The big picture: Vance last summer announced his bid to succeed retiring Sen. Rob Portman.
  • Vance was a strong critic against Trump in 2016, but became a supporter in 2020. "f I actually care about these people and the things I say I care about, I need to just suck it up and support him," Vance told TIME's Molly Ball.
    [*]Vance has also has touted the warm words he has gotten from Fox News' Tucker Carlson and top MAGA personality Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA.