More to ignore, Book 56........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Mapping positions at the start of day 70
Mark Sumner

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Volunteers hand out supplies in the heavily damaged town of Borodyanka. May 3, 2022.

The action for the last few days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been at the two extreme ends of the long “front”—near Kherson in the southwest and near Kharkiv in the northeast. That was mostly true again on Tuesday.

KHARKIV AREA​

Ukrainian forces entered the area of Staryi Saltiv on Sunday, and fighting in the town continues. Because the bridge over the broad Siverskyi Donets River at Staryi Saltive was blown up by Ukrainian forces early in the war, Ukraine can’t use that bridge now to extend their push to the east bank of the river. On the other hand, Russian forces can’t use that bridge to escape. So instead, Russian forces are moving north while Ukrainian forces clean up and take control of the area to the south of the town.

On Tuesday, that included Ukrainian forces moving into the town of Molodova. Securing that location helps to straighten out what had been a rather crooked path for forces moving between Kharkiv and Staryi Saltiv, and seems a pretty good indicator that there remain little or no Russian forces on the west bank of the river south of the former bridge. However, there remain two settlements on the road running directly west from Staryi Saltiv that on Monday were still in Russian control. Based on Telegram messages (and generous use of Google Translate) there are reports that Russian forces have left both of these locations. There are other reports that battles are going on for these locations. Pending any kind of official announcement, I’ve labeled them both as “in dispute.”

On the extreme northwest of the Russian-occupied territory, Ukrainian forces have reportedly moved closer to the town of Kozacha Lopan. However, there seems to have been no real movement along the roads running directly north out of Kharkiv, with no reports of Russian forces being pushed back (or of failed attempts).

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Kharkiv area

IZYUM AREA​

The central part of the line is where Russia has most of its force allocated, with roughly 68 Battalion Tactical Groups squeezed in from Izyum down to Donetsk. The biggest change on the map today is that it more accurately reflects the number of points that are actually in dispute, because—as it has almost since the start of the war—Russia seems to be making a large number of attempted breakthroughs by relatively small forces.

The only one of these to make anything like significant progress in the last two days is that small salient jutting down east of Slovyansk starting at the town of Zarichne. That push has secured Russian forces a series of small villages, and on Monday they seem to have consolidated control of Yampil. They’re now on to the next village in the line, but where they’re going from there is still in question.

Further south, Russia is still trying to capture Popasna. It still doesn’t have it. I swear, when I first wrote about this little town, I had no idea it was going to be the absolute focus of Russian efforts for three solid weeks.

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Izyum area

KHERSON AREA​

The only thing I know for sure about activity in the Kherson area over the last 48 hours is that I spent a lot of time reading Twitter and Telegram posts about every single city, town, and village I could find in an effort to understand who currently controls what and where Russia is going.

Honestly, the Russian push toward Kryvyi Rih seems as pointless as ever—more an exercise in trying to taunt Volodomyr Zelenskyy by threatening his hometown than a serious military effort. But there is definitely activity in the area, and several villages under dispute. It can be assumed that Russia occupies a large number of villages and towns on the west bank of the Dnipro in the middle of the highlighted area, but I came up dry on anything indicating the status of any but a handful of locations. That may be related to reports that Russia is now channeling communication in the Kherson area through the Russian internet.

Expect this map to have fewer villages shown next time. It seemed necessary today to tag more locations to get a good definition of the current situation.

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Kherson area
........
That’s pretty much it from me, as far as the activities that I stumbled over the day. Let’s see what the other guys say.



  • The capture of Molodova and continued push around Staryi Saltiv is also the big story here.
  • Russia hit a number of cities with missiles on Tuesday, causing some fairly extensive damage to electrical facilities and train lines.
  • Russian troops attempted to advance towards Slovyansk, but “the attack wasn’t successful.”
  • Also noted is the withdrawal from Yampil towards Ozerne.
  • No change around Kherson so … good, I didn’t miss anything.
  • Russian forces have launched another attack on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, but no word yet on the outcome.

  • Ukrainian forces secured Molodova
  • Staryi Saltiv is still shown under Russian control.
  • Russian attacks in Rubizhne, Popasna, and Lyman, but none of those three were taken.

NASA FIRMS FIREMAP​

The only areas where there seem to be significant numbers of fires on the NASA FIRMS Firemap over the last 24 hours are in the area SW of Lyman—that’s the area of Yampil and the village of Ozerne that’s currently in dispute. A good deal of this fire seems to be the result of Ukrainian artillery firing into Russian positions. The patch of fires to the northwest of Slovyansk is in the little “valley” of Ukrainian control south of Oskil. That suggests this is Russian artillery firing in.

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Significant fires in the area SE of Lyman
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022 · 10:29:39 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
One of the things that looks concerning this morning is the sheer amount of fire being poured into this small area.

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This little gap is seeing heavy artillery

Both Ukraine satellite flashes (@ukr_satflash) and the NASA FIRMS fire map have been tracking what looks to be heavy pounding of this area for the last two days. Though there’s been no official indication that Russian positions have advanced, the fire has move from Oleksandrivka on the east (shown here as that “in dispute” yellow marker) to the tiny crossroads village at Sosnove, just SE of the center of that circle.

This makes it seem very likely that Russia will attempt to cut across this area along the road between Oleksandrivka and Studenok on the west. What could hold this up? The bridge west of Studenok is reportedly out.

The Siverskyi Donets River looks to be about 250 wide at this point, and swiftly flowing after spring rains. It would be hard to span with a pontoon bridge. However, Russian engineering teams may be working to fix this bridge or create some other crossing. It’s hard to imagine that Sosnove and the surrounding area would be getting the kind of pounding it’s now receiving unless Russia intended to make some move in this area.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022 · 11:44:36 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
In case you missed it, earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that Hitler “had Jewish blood” in an effort to directly blame Jews for the Holocaust. It’s kind of the ultimate expression of Russia’s propaganda in which they’ve claimed that the government of Jewish president Volodomyr Zelenskyy is actually a “Nazi junta.”

This, as might be expected, angered Jewish communities around the world, and seemed directly connected to Israel’s recent announcement that it is planning to send some military assistance to Ukraine.

Naturally, pro-Russian social media took this as a challenge. They are now not just insisting that among those fighting inside the Azovstal plant are “Israeli mercenaries,” but that “Ukrainian Nazis” have been secretly trained and supplied by the Israeli military all along.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Top Republican talking point on leaked Supreme Court draft is one for the ages
Laura Clawson

Republicans were irate about the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion striking down Roe v. Wade, and it didn’t take them long to arrive at a talking point that is staggeringly dishonest even by Republican standards: the leak was the real insurrection.

Mind you, Republicans are getting what they want here, in the end of abortion rights at a federal level. Mind you, no one knows who leaked the draft and there are very good reasons to suspect it was a conservative. Mind you, the leak of a draft judicial opinion is not by any definition an insurrection. But, always on the search for ways to downplay the violence of their supporters on January 6 and to make themselves the victims of any event, this is where Republicans landed. For some odd reason, they don’t want people talking about the substance of the issue: widespread abortion bans. It’s almost like they realize that’s not actually going to be popular.
......
“You want to talk about an insurrection?” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “That’s a judicial insurrection, to be taking that out and trying to kneecap a potential majority through kind of extra-constitutional means.”

“For all the left’s cries of ‘threats to democracy’ and ‘insurrection’ about things like uncensored speech on Twitter or literally walking peacefully through a door, what happened Monday night appeared to be a far truer and more dangerous example of treasonous insurrection,” The Federalist railed.

According to right-wing podcaster Matt Walsh, it was “an actual insurrection,” one “100000000 times more serious than the Capitol riot.” Former George W. Bush staffer Ari Fleischer called the leak “an insurrection against the Supreme Court.” It goes on, because that’s how Republican talking points work. They come from everywhere all at once.

We are talking here about the leak of a non-classified draft document a few weeks ahead of when a final version of the document would have been publicly released. It is not the same thing as a mob violently storming the U.S. Capitol to prevent the Congress from doing its job and carrying out the peaceful transition of power. It is not the same thing as a sitting president and his aides trying to pressure state officials to “find” the votes needed to flip an election result.

The Republican hissy fit is ostensibly based on the idea that the leak was intended to intimidate the right-wing justices away from this position, but it sure looks like a big distraction—the dog caught the car and it turns out not to have been as desirable as expected. For that matter, many court observers say it could equally be intended to lock in initial votes to fully overturn Roe and prevent Chief Justice John Roberts from pulling votes to a slightly less extreme position in the interest of protecting the court’s ever-fading legitimacy as an institution.

The leak of the draft is under investigation. If it turns out to have been leaked by a conservative, you can confidently bet that Republicans will launch another distraction. But the real story will remain the tens of millions of people stripped of reproductive rights, the women who die from unsafe illegal abortions, the people whose lives are reshaped by unintended pregnancies for which they have no recourse. This Supreme Court decision—not the leak but the decision itself—kicks off a tragedy that will unfold for years with the most vulnerable as its victims.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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........The court leak rocked millions of Americans, especially women, in what felt like the closest thing to election night 2016. As I’ve researched and written, the sense of desperation, vulnerability, anger and fear then did not drive women to hide under their beds. Donald Trump’s election spurred a period of remarkable civic engagement, organizing, fundraising and network-building (across the aisle in some cases). The result was seen in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

That same emotional energy must once more be deployed in defense of freedom and democracy. Harris strikes me as exactly the right person to lead that fight.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Swing state Democrats vow to 'fight like hell' for abortion rights
Kerry Eleveld

If anyone is wondering whether Democrats in swing states view the Supreme Court draft opinion obliterating Roe v. Wade as an electoral asset, look no further than a sign-on letter from Democratic governors released Tuesday urging Congress to codify Roe into federal law.

Alongside the signatures from governors of progressive strongholds such as California, Washington, and New York were a handful of swing-state Democratic governors: Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, and Tony Evers of Wisconsin.

Of those five Democrats, three of them are incumbents running for reelection this cycle, including Whitmer, Sisolak, and Evers.

"I'm proud to join my fellow governors and call on Congress to immediately put protections offered by Roe v. Wade into federal law," Gov. Whitmer tweeted.

Whitmer also released a video calling on the Michigan Supreme Court to "immediately" resolve whether the state constitution protects abortion rights. The governor filed a lawsuit in April seeking to overturn a 1931 state law banning abortion that could become enforceable if Roe is struck down.

"In light of recent news," Whitmer explained, Roe could be overturned "any day now."

"I want every Michigander to know, that no matter what happens in [Washington,] D.C., I'm going to fight like hell to protect access to safe, legal abortion," she said.

Michigan is a split state, with a Democratic executive branch and a GOP-led state legislature. However, the state's new legislative maps, drawn by an independent commission, give Democrats at least a fighting chance to flip the upper chamber while chipping away at GOP majorities in the lower chamber.

But it's not just a battleground like Michigan where Democrats are going all-in on abortion. One state to the south, Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan quickly took up abortion in his bid for the state's open Senate seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman.

The stakes for the race "have never been higher," Ryan said, following news of the draft opinion overturning Roe.

"Every single one of my GOP opponents supports extreme, restrictive anti-abortion laws. We cannot let them near the Senate," Ryan tweeted. "Our only choice to protect abortion is to flip this seat blue and expand our Democratic Senate majority.

Tuesday was also primary day in the Buckeye State, where Ryan prevailed on the Democratic side, while venture capitalist and Trump endorsee JD Vance emerged from a seven-person scrum on the Republican side.

But Ryan's rapid focus on abortion was particularly telling given that he had released an ad one day prior disavowing culture war issues in the race. Abortion is an issue on which he and other Democrats are eager to fight, while Senate Republicans in Washington spent Tuesday ducking for cover.

Swing-state Democrats' urgency on protecting abortion rights is a reflection of the fact that roughly 55% to 70% of Americans oppose the Supreme Court overturning Roe. But what really makes the Roe revelation explosive is the fact that only about 20% of the public (or even less) considered the landmark 1973 ruling’s downfall to be a possibility.

For decades, Democrats have found it challenging to really rally Americans around the cause of preserving abortion rights because most of them considered it settled law.

But what Mitch McConnell's extremist court has now made patently clear is the fact that nothing is settled law, nothing is sacrosanct, and nothing is off the table regardless of how old the precedent or its overwhelming public support.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Senate Republicans' campaign arm is circulating a three-page memo, obtained by Axios, laying out how candidates and lawmakers can maximize their messaging on the U.S. Supreme Court's leaked draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) recognizes the decision will have major implications in this fall's midterms and the 2024 presidential race. The memo is its attempt to have its members speak to voters with a unified voice

  • "Be the compassionate, consensus-builder on abortion policy. ... While people have many different views on abortion policy, Americans are compassionate people who want to welcome every new baby into the world," it says.
  • "Expose the Democrats for the extreme views they hold," the document says, arguing, "Joe Biden and the Democrats have extreme and radical views on abortion that are outside of the mainstream of most Americans."
  • "Forcefully refute Democrat lies regarding GOP positions on abortion and women's health care," it adds, saying Republicans do not want to take away contraception, mammograms and female health care or throw doctors and women in jail.
Between the lines: The document includes sample language for anti-abortion ads.
  • "Sarah Republican," making an ad against "John Democrat," should say, "Here’s my view — I am pro-life, but, in reality, forget about the political labels, all of us are in favor of life."
  • An NRSC official told Axios the memo is "based on national polling and focus groups the NRSC has conducted across the country over the last few months.
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Nora Keefe told Axios: “Senate Republicans’ candidates have spent months campaigning on overturning Roe v. Wade — and now this election will determine whether the GOP is able to put in place new, cruel and punishing restrictions.”
  • ”No memo can change the fact that Republicans are grossly out of step with the voters that will decide the 2022 election, and it will lead their campaigns to defeat."