More to ignore, Book 51..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russia inches forward, but larger Donbas campaign remains suspect
kos

Yesterday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was complaining about the “Groundhog Day” of having to repeat time and time again his nation’s critical defensive needs. What a difference a day makes, with hundreds of millions of dollars of aid streaming in daily. He now sounds … happy?



The New York Times has a great story on the massive logistical effort to move weapons to Ukraine. One of the big takeaways: nations are flooding gear into Ukraine, but few want to actually talk about it: “[N]ations are trying not to advertise to Moscow exactly what is being provided. France says it has supplied 100 million euros of military equipment to Ukraine, without specifying what it has sent. Some countries have no desire to goad the Russian bear.” There’s also this sentence, which is either the scoop of the week, or an embarrassing journalistic error:

The United States has also agreed to provide some 155-millimeter howitzers, along with 40,000 matching rounds, while trying to buy Soviet-standard ammunition from countries that use it, including nations outside of Europe, like Afghanistan and even India, a longstanding buyer of Russian arms.

The U.S. is trying to buy weapons from the Taliban? Did India, one of the few nations still happy and eager to do business with Russia, actually get approached to sell arms headed to Ukraine? Did they say “yes”? In any case, 30 countries are assisting Ukraine in its war effort, which is 30 more than are assisting Russia, all coordinated by the United States. No one does logistics like the United States.

Meanwhile, Russia’s broad-based assault along the entire Donbas front has netted them some small gains.



Losing any ground sucks, of course. But the tactical withdrawal is a legitimate tool in any army’s toolbox, and Ukraine has several layers of defensive lines set up. None of these losses are particularly strategic, the way Izyum was. If the plan is to fall back behind the Siverskyi Donets river, you better believe dug in positions are already in place, but with a river assisting in the defense—just like the Irpin halted the Russian advance toward northwest Kyiv. Ukraine’s Severodonetsk salient is unfortunately becoming more and more exposed, with a city that has been absolutely pummeled since the beginning of the war. There were celebrations in pro-Russian channels last night that Ukraine was falling back from Severodonetsk, but I’ve seen no real confirmation. Ukraine did announce that every single food storage site in the city had been destroyed by Russian shelling and the city was full cut off from supplies, which certainly seems ominous.

In total, Ukraine’s General Staff claimed 10 Russian attacks yesterday, which is double the intensity of the previous weeks, when we’d see four to six daily attacks. The Institute for the Study War noted that “Russian forces have not achieved any major breakthroughs, nor have they demonstrated any new capability to conduct multiple successful, simultaneous advances.” You know me, I don’t see how Russia gets its shit together. If a “major offensive” ever materializes, I suspect it’ll feature troops rushing forward as someone yells “charge!” except that half the troops won’t hear it because their radios won’t work or were sold for booze, while another quarter will be like “no thanks.” Ukrainian defenses will inevitably be pushed back from sheer numbers, but then what? Russian losses will continue to be horrific, while Ukrainian reserves gear up in the west, and heavy artillery, suicide drones, and more armor joins the fight.


Strelkov Igor Ivanovich is a Russian nationalist who formerly served as minister of defense of the Donetsk People's Republic (one of the two separatist regions in Donbas). He’s turned into a fierce critic of Russia’s management of the invasion: (Run through Google Translate)

If the enemy [Ukraine] had few forces, the protection of communications [supply lines] could be partially ignored. But the Armed Forces of Ukraine (thanks to mobilizations) already have enough forces—comparable to the number of our troops in the theater. In addition, the enemy has the ability to shorten the front line and transfer the released forces to threatened areas—the Russian Federation does not have complete air supremacy simply because of the insufficient number of strike aircraft and the negligible number of strike drones. At the same time, the enemy can hold the front line near Donetsk with relatively small forces due to the excellent engineering equipment [trenches] that has been produced for many years [...]
Thus, after some time in these areas, the situation will repeat itself, which already exists in the areas of Rubizhnoye-Severodonetsk, Popasnaya, Avdeevka and Marinka, where the Allied forces are moving forward very slowly and with very heavy losses (especially in the infantry). Or they don't advance at all (Avdeevka).
The enemy is "more than completely" satisfied with this method of warfare. Why? - Because the Armed Forces of Ukraine need another one and a half to two (maximum —three) months to prepare large reserves [...] while Russian forces "bleed", storming the fortified cities of Donbass [...]

In this regard, I remind you that the so-called "Ukraine" is finishing the THIRD STAGE OF GENERAL MOBILIZATION. It has a human resource (200-300 thousand people) and a technical capability (a huge flow of various weapons from Europe and the USA) to not only maintain a sufficient number of its troops at the front, but also create new reserves. And to create them "in quantity" (even 100 thousand people - this is about 50 battalion tactical groups, including reinforcements and rear infrastructure - that is, about 10 full-blooded divisions).

“So-called ‘Ukraine...’” My god these people are assholes.

Ivanovich does an audit of reserves available to Russia forces, and basically concludes they can’t keep up without a general mobilization in Russia itself, which Vladimir Putin seems wholly uninterested in pursuing. Now Ivanovich has an ulterior motive—to convince Russia to fully mobilize and fully commit to the war, instead of depending on his home region’s almost-depleted supply of cannon fodder, in Donbas. After all, they’re conscripting men as old as 60. They’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

But he is right—the best case scenario for Russia at this point is the conquest of the Donbas pocket still held by Ukraine:


best.png

Circled area is Ukrainian-held Donbas territory.

In reality, Russia likely doesn’t have enough troops to take that entire territory (from top to bottom it’s 200 kilometers of distance, or 120 miles), but if they did, they certainly won’t have manpower and logistical juice to push beyond. Meanwhile, Ukraine is building and modernizing its armed forces, and before long will have the offensive capability to seriously contest its lost territory—including territory lost in 2014.

The rain will end Sunday, and then it looks sunny and warm, in the mid-70s and 80s next week. That means the ground will start to dry out, which will make it easier for armor to move. Let’s hope rain returns to the forecast soon, keeping General Mud in the fight as long as Ukraine is on the defensive.


Looking to the south, however unlikely, it sure would be nice to liberate Kherson this week.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Russian troops tried to rebel against their military commanders in an occupied part of southeast Ukraine, but three of them were killed by Chechen fighters in response, according to Ukrainian intelligence…

“According to Ukrainian intelligence, yesterday in the Pologovsky district Russian troops started to rebel: Russia’s soldiers didn’t want to fight because they have not received their promised payouts. [Ramzan] Kadyrov’s men brutally killed three of the instigators of the riot who were ready to lay down their weapons and head home,” Arefyev wrote.


No further details were provided on the brigade said to be involved in the riot, but Chechen troops have widely been seen as playing the role of “enforcers” during the war, and many survivors of the Bucha massacre outside Kyiv said the mass execution of civilians only began after Chechen troops were sent in to replace Russian soldiers there…
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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........For Putin, winning here is essential. Experts say he wants to pronounce victory over Donbas on April 24 (Orthodox Easter) or May 9 (Russia’s anniversary of the defeat of Germany in 1945). “He needs a symbol of success,” explained a U.S. military official. That comment, in itself, is telling: that the murder of thousands of Orthodox Ukrainians by Easter would be considered a cause for celebration is incomprehensible. But so is Putin’s belief that Ukraine’s defeat would be equivalent to Hitler’s. Such twisted history ignores the fact that as many Ukrainians, Belorussians and Polish died fighting Germany in World War II as died from the rest of the former Soviet Union’s republics combined. Putin’s narrative that Russians defeated Nazism and saved the world from Hitler, is fantasy.

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Ironically, this Battle of Donbas will be fought where one of the bloodiest and most protracted World War II clashes took place, resulting in the defeat of an entrenched German army that had occupied the Donbas region for 22 months. Now Ukrainians fight the marauder from the east, a struggle which may also last months. Fortunately, Ukraine’s advantages today are its morale, mobility, knowledge of the terrain, mastery of innovations such as Turkey’s killer drones, a mountain of new weaponry, and ongoing intelligence provided by the U.S. and NATO. “Never underestimate the impact of morale in execution,” commented retired U.S. Major General Paul Eaton. “The Ukrainians want a piece of the Russians. My bet is on the Ukrainian defense of the region.”.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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McCarthy said he’d tell Trump to resign after Jan. 6. McConnell thought he’d be out, book reports
Rebekah Sager

What Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell said behind closed doors about President Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection and what they said to his face were in complete opposition, according to a book set to hit shelves next month.

This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future releases May 3, and with it will come a few surprises about the conversations key GOP members reportedly had about their leader.

The New York Times exclusively reports that not only did McCarthy and McConnell believe that Trump was directly responsible for the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, but they told other GOP lawmakers they intended to ask the president to resign. “I’ve had it with this guy,” McCarthy reportedly told a group of Republican leaders. Naturally, a spokesperson for McCarthy, Mark Bednar, denied to the Times that the congressman ever “said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.”
.....
The book, co-written by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, two New York Times reporters, compiles interviews and records of hundreds of lawmakers and officials, according to the Times, and lays out a timeline where McCarthy and McConnell both lost their respective chutzpah—a great Yiddish word for nerve.

According to the Times, before McCarthy’s spine dissolved, he reportedly suggested that several GOP lawmakers should be banned from social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook following the insurrection.

“We can’t put up with that,” McCarthy reportedly said. “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”

Again, Bednar denied to the Times that Rep. McCarthy ever suggested any GOP leaders be banned from social media.

However, we know that McCarthy did publicly say in mid-January 2021 that Trump was at least partially responsible for the riot. "He told me personally that he does have some responsibility. I think a lot of people do."



McCarthy also blabbed about Trump to House Republicans during a private conference call on Jan. 11. CNN obtained a copy of a transcript of that call.

"Let me be clear to you, and I have been very clear to the President. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if, ands, or buts," McCarthy said. "I asked him personally today if he holds responsibility for what happened. If he feels bad about what happened. He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. But he needs to acknowledge that."

But four days later, McCarthy conveniently forgot all that he’d said.



According to the Times, McCarthy was told by Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio that Trump supporters did not want their president challenged on Jan. 6 events.

“I’m just telling you that that’s the kind of thing that we’re dealing with, with our base,” Johnson said.

As a result, by the end of January and after seeing that a scant 10 House Republicans would support a Trump impeachment, McCarthy reversed course and stepped away from any condemnation of HerrTrump. He shut his mouth and kept his job as the House Minority Leader.

As for McConnell, theTimes reports that he initially believed Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 were so heinous that he was convinced his GOP colleagues would surely break with the president. He reportedly even predicted a conviction vote for Trump’s impeachment.

“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” he reportedly said during a Jan. 11 meeting with Terry Carmack and Scott Jennings, two of his advisors. “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is,” he reportedly said.

McConnell was so convincing in his ire against Trump, the Times reports, that Senators John Thune and Rob Portman privately said they believed he’d vote to convict Trump.

But as we all know, McConnell eventually voted to acquit Trump, despite following it with a blistering speech against the president.

Then, he too, shut his mouth to keep his job and the support of a failed, twice-impeached president and his millions of supporters.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The company, headed by political mega-donor Charles Koch, would join hundreds of other multinationals, many that halted operations in Russia early on during its war on Ukraine.

President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson sent a company-wide memo on Thursday telling employees it is developing an “exit plan” for Guardian Industries after an attempt to completely shut down its factories led to threats against its employees from the government.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A decorated U.S. Air Force veteran who helped lead a fundraising campaign to build former President Donald Trump's promised wall along the U.S.-Mexican border pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring to defraud donors.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Brian Kolfage told prospective donors he would "not take a penny" as he raised more than $25 million for the "We Build the Wall" campaign, yet took more than $350,000 and spent money on a boat, a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry and cosmetic surgery.

Kolfage, who also pleaded guilty to three tax charges, created the private campaign in December 2018, 14 years after losing his legs and right hand in a rocket attack in Iraq.

The Miramar Beach, Florida, resident had led the fundraising push alongside former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was also charged in August 2020.

Bannon's case was dismissed after Trump granted him a presidential pardon during the final hours of his presidency.

At a remote hearing on Thursday, Kolfage said he told potential donors that their money would be used exclusively to build a wall, but instead kept a large sum for himself and concealed it from authorities to avoid paying taxes.

"I knew what I was doing was wrong and a crime," Kolfage told U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres.

A co-defendant, Andrew Badolato, also pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy on Thursday.

Kolfage could face 4-1/4 to 5-1/4 years in prison under recommended federal guidelines, while Badolato faces 41 to 51 months. Sentencings for both were scheduled for September.

The final defendant, Timothy Shea, has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer said this month that Shea would exercise "his constitutional right to a fair trial."

In a separate case, Bannon was charged in November with two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued by a committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.

Bannon has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor counts.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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LOSER Trump Celebrates (and Lies About) CNN+ Shutting Down While Ignoring His TRUTH Social Fiasco
News Corpse

Thursday morning the new management team at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), the newly merged combination of WarnerMedia and Discovery Networks, announced that CNN's streaming channel, CNN+, will be shutting down at the end of April. It was startling news about the new service that was only launched three weeks ago.

According to CNN's own reporting, the decision to end the venture was due to WBD's incoming CEO David Zaslav's plan to house all of the company's brands under one streaming service. Zaslav said that...

"In a complex streaming market, consumers want simplicity and an all-in service which provides a better experience and more value than stand-alone offerings [...] We have very exciting opportunities ahead in the streaming space and CNN, one of the world's premier reputational assets, will play an important role there."

While the strategic logic of that position is apparent, it cannot be understated how sloppily this matter was executed. The new CEO of CNN, Chris Licht, conceded that it was a "uniquely shitty situation." Elaborating, he said that CNN+ had an "incredibly successful launch" but that it was "simply incompatible with the newly merged company's plans." Despite the turmoil, there are expectations that much of the new programming will still be part of whatever eventually emerges.

To no one's surprise, Donald Trump weighed in on this news with his customary noxious bluster. He posted a tweet (via his Twitter ban defying spokes-shill) that completely distorted the facts and demonstrated his distinctive brand of flagrant dishonesty. Trump ranted...

“Congratulations to CNN+ on their decision to immediately FOLD for a lack of ratings, or viewers in any way, shape, or form. It was like an empty desert out there despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars and the hiring of low-rated Chris Wallace, a man who tried so hard to be his father, Mike, but lacked the talent and whatever else is necessary to be a star. In any event, it’s just one more piece of CNN and Fake News that we don’t have to bother with anymore!”

Trump's first lie in that outburst is that CNN+ folded "for a lack of ratings." And the way we know that's true is because there are no ratings for streaming apps. Trump is, once again, just making stuff up. The truth is that CNN+ signed up more than 100,000 viewers in three short weeks, well within their projections. And the service will undoubtedly relaunch when WBD finalizes the unified format for its streaming programming.

If Trump is really interested in identifying "an empty desert" in the media world, all he has to do is check in with his own parched and barren "TRUTH Social" Twitter clone. To date it has failed spectacularly. It cannot attract users. Even the users who have already signed up can't log on. Trump himself doesn't use the site.

Trump is said to be furious that his attempt at revenge against Twitter for banning him has cratered so badly. The Daily Beast reports that Trump has been overheard on the phone "swearing gratuitously" and asking "What the f*ck is going on?" with TRUTH Social.

That, however, is a question Trump should already know the answer to, considering that he has a notorious record for catastrophic business failures that is unparalleled in modern times. His numerous, and narcissistically self-branded projects – from casinos to airlines to games to steaks to vodka – all ended in humiliation and ruin. Even his prized real estate ventures have proven to be duds.

The man Trump put at the helm of TRUTH(less) Anti(Social), Devin Nunes has been making desperate trips to Fox News where he could lie unchallenged about the site's "success." But anyone foolish enough to invest in the venture has likely lost a bundle. The site keeps missing launch dates, and it is currently being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for "irregularities."

One fund manager is predicting that the stock serving as the investment vehicle for TRUTH Social will fall to $10.00 and will fail to complete its merger with Trump's company. It has already declined 67% from it's high at the beginning of March.

The mess that WBD has made of the CNN+ launch may be costly and embarrassing, but it is temporary and the parent corporation has deep pockets. It will recover and offer its media products in a new and profitable form. But Trump's ventures are permanently hobbled by his incompetence and inability to manage a successful business of any kind. The only thing he's any good at is whining and flinging impotent insults as his enemies. Which is all he's doing here.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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In a lengthy speech at Stanford University on Thursday, the former president said he felt that “one of the biggest reasons for democracy’s weakening is the profound change in how we communicate and consume information.”

Obama connected Russia’s war in Ukraine and the rise of autocrats around the world to public skepticism of democratic institutions fueled in part by the splintering of information and audiences online.

“Our new information ecosystem is turbocharging some of humanity’s worst impulses,” he said, noting that years ago, a person in rural Texas wouldn’t be impacted by events in a known gay neighborhood in San Francisco because you “wouldn’t know what was going on.”

He said this predicament was the result of “very specific choices” by tech companies, that, “intentionally or not have made democracies more vulnerable.”

He lamented false information peddled about the coronavirus vaccines and public health measures designed to curb the virus. “People are dying from misinformation,” he said....