More to ignore, Book 58........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Ukraine update: Russia's incredibly shrinking ambitions
kos

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Donated American artillery shells, in action in Ukraine.

I had this image in my head last night and was ready to mock it up and write about it this morning, but it turns out someone on Reddit scooped me a few weeks ago:


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Now, the memester predicted that the tiniest encirclement wouldn’t be Russia’s stated goal until June of this year, but only because he underestimated Russia’s incompetence. Turns out that now, mid-May, was more like it.

Russia’s original stated goals are reflected in the March 2022 arrows—come down from the north, through Kyiv, and also from the south, from Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Kryvyi Rih. We’ve written at length on how unsound that plan was, particularly since Russia also split its small invading force (~180,000, only of which roughly 25,000 were actual combat troops) along three other axes—around Kherson in the northeast, the eastern Donbas front, and Mariupol in the southeast. The only way this might’ve worked is if Russian intelligence had been correct, and half of Ukraine’s army had defected to the Russian side while more city officials had surrendered their cities, which only happened in Kherson.

By April, we were onto the new plan, the one supposedly focused 100% on the eastern Donbas front. Russia had learned from its mistakes, and would now concentrate its efforts on a single axis! After weeks of hard fighting, they had captured Izyum and were thus supposedly primed to head south for a wide encirclement. This was important because about a third of Ukraine’s army is on a line of defensive trenches that Russia has been mostly unable to pierce.

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The idea, of course, was that Russia would not just cut off supply lines to those Ukrainian defenders, but would then be able to hit them from the backside. As you might imagine, most of these defenses point east. They’re generally not designed to protect against someone sneaking up on your weaker defenses. Furthermore, you can see that the avenue of attack would capture the administrative boundaries of the Donbas region (the dotted red line), which is made up of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts.

That plan always had a fatal flaw, however:

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Russia sucks at logistics, so the idea that they’d be able to manage a 300+ kilometer encirclement (~200 miles) was patently ludicrous. Furthermore, that entire line would be vulnerable to flank attacks from the other two-thirds of the Ukrainian army outside of that “cauldron.” Sure, spread your forces that far out, Russia! Ukraine would be able to puncture any part of it with concentrated force.

Anyway, the southern half of that pincer never budged. Russia was too fixated on killing the Mariupol Azov remnants in the Azovstal fortress/steel factory. Still is. And like everything else this whole war, Russia wasted units around Kherson, where it is still trying to push toward Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih, even though they have nothing to do with the Donbas. (It has its own “land bridge” dream to reach through Odesa to the Transnistria region in Moldova, but they could always pivot to that later in the war, instead of continuing to dilute themselves ineffectively.)

Remember that weird push westward from the Izyum salient? That was exactly geared toward the wider encirclement. But like everything else Russia has attempted this war, that effort stalled. And so they began to push into a yet tighter circle, this time toward Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

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Yet nothing moved, and hasn’t for weeks. Same with the southern edge of that pincer, around separatist-held Horlivka. And as with all the other plans, this was doomed to fail for one major reason—there was no way Russia would be able to handle Slovyansk (pre-war pop. 111,000) and Kramatorsk (pop. 157,000) in a timely manner. Both are much better fortified than Mariupol, and there’s been more time to stock its defenders with supplies. Also, they aren’t as isolated as Mariupol, giving Ukrainian forces ample opportunities to punch through any siege.

Furthermore, we now know full well Russia’s urban warfare strategy: Systematically level a town block by block, then march into the ruins claiming the rubble for Mighty Russia. Yet that strategy is slooooow, and any artillery targeting Slovyansk and Kramatorsk would be in range of Ukrainian artillery both on its western flank, but remember, also on its eastern flank.

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This new “Slovyansk salient” would be even more exposed than the Izyum salient, which has been under severe stress for weeks now. But ultimately, this strategy was doomed by Ukraine’s liberation of territory around Kharkiv, which put Russia’s key supply railhead into Ukraine in range of Ukrainian artillery. The Izyum salient was already stuck in the mud. Cutting off its main supply line from Russia is its death knell.

But then a funny thing happened—Russia finally started moving! And it happened in two fortuitous places, Rubizhne and Popasna:

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It took months of systematic obliteration, but Russia finally controls their rubble. By closing the loop around those two cities, Russia would essentially have the entire Luhansk Oblast under its control, allowing it to trumpet some sort of victory.

Now if you look closely at the image, you’ll see the Donets River, and how important it has been to the area’s defense. Ukraine is left with just two major cities on the north bank—Severodonetsk and Lyman, both under fierce assault as I type this. Remember, Russia has lost a ghastly amount of personnel and equipment just to get to the river, and it hasn’t even finished doing that. Crossing it will be a challenge. Russia has tried twice in the last several days and has lost two battalion tactical groups in the process.

First attempt:



Second attempt:



Given the importance of the river, Ukraine can even afford to withdraw from Severodonetsk to Lysychansk on the other side of the river. I don’t understand why Ukraine is holding it so fiercely, whether out of pride or some broader tactical goal. Maybe it’s as simple as taking advantage of its prepared defensive positions to chew up more Russians before they evacuate.

But that southern prong, from Popasna, is the more concerning one, as it bypasses the Donets. Though, even there, all attempts to advance have been stymied in recent days. The Reddit meme does a good job of visualizing Russia’s shrinking ambitions, and here’s another way to do so:


togo.png

Big circle=Russia’s original goals. Small circle in top-right corner is their current operations.

There are more than 5,000 square miles of the Donbas’ territory still in Ukrainian hands. Despite broad attacks along that entire front, Russia has only managed to notch gains in that tiny northeastern corner. Yet that movement is precisely why Russia seems likely to give up that Izyum salient, moving much of the combat power it had amassed there to the east, where it might have some opportunities to press their advantage without depending on threatened supply lines near Kharkiv.

And still, what happens if Russia takes that corner of territory? What then? They must still traverse layers of Ukrainian defensive positions to crash upon Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. As always, there’s no scenario in which Russia has the manpower, equipment, and logistical juice to seriously challenge those cities, all the while Ukraine gets stronger, their reserves training and equipping with NATO gear.

Russia’s slow pace of advance now ensures this war will last well into this year (and likely longer), allowing time for a full Ukrainian transition to NATO-standard weapons. Indeed, Ukraine General Staff is arguing they can be fully transitioned by the end of summer. That may be little consolation to those who would rather see peace break out, global food deliveries reestablished, an end to needless death, and money spent on more fruitful endeavors than weaponry. But Vladimir Putin cannot retreat now without delivering the glorious (and easy) victory he promised his nation, and Ukraine sees no reason to surrender given Russia’s sorry battlefield performance. It really believes (and I agree) that with the right gear, it can recapture everything lost to Russia since 2014, including the entirety of Donbas and Crimea. And as long as the Ukrainian people are prepared to make that sacrifice (and they appear so), it makes perfect sense for the West to help it achieve its goals.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine's defense minister: The war is entering a new protracted phase, heavy weaponry will be key
Charles Jay

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Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexiy Reznikov

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Olexiy Reznikov says the war with Russia is entering a new protracted phase that will last until the Ukrainian defenders receive a critical amount of heavy weaponry from their Western partners.

Reznikov made his remarks in a Facebook post in which he offered his assessment of “what happened in the last 78 days of the war that started over eight years ago.”

In 2014, after the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Russia annexed Crimea and intensified support for pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region.

Reznikov noted that many Ukrainians had expected some dramatic development on May 9 when Russia marked Victory Day. But in his speech that day, Russian leader Vladimir Putin did not order a full mobilization or declare war on Ukraine.

Reznikov said:

By May 9, Russia had suffered a strategic defeat: it had failed to destroy the Ukrainian State by military intervention and organize a change of power in favor of Russian puppets. We forced Russia to reduce the scale of its objectives to the operational and tactical level.

Given that, we are entering a new, long-term phase of the war. To win it, we must plan resources carefully, avoid mistakes and project our strength in such a way that the enemy ultimately breaks.
...

“Extremely tough weeks are ahead. No one can say for sure how many of them there will be.

...

During this period, we will continue defending from the enraged aggressor mainly on our own.

Over 1,500 Ukrainian soldiers are already training or will start training in the next couple of days to master equipment from our partners and then return as instructors. Some of them, like artillerymen, will go straight into battle.

Time will pass until heavy weaponry will balance the scales and ensure a breakthrough in favor of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a Senate hearing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is prepared for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, betting that Russia is more willing and able to endure the impact of a long-term war than the Kremlin’s adversaries.

In the initial phase of the war, Reznikov said that Moscow had expected that Ukraine would surrender in a few days and many in the West shared that opinion. But instead, the whole Ukrainian nation thwarted the invaders’ plans, inflicting huge losses and defeating Russian forces near Kyiv.

Then, he said Russian troops changed their tactics and “set new goals to capture the south and east of Ukraine. But again that did not happen. … thanks to the mass heroism of our soldiers, the unity of Ukrainians and international support Ukraine has endured.”

In particular, he hailed the besieged defenders of Mariupol who have “bought us time and saved many lives.”

Now, he says the Ukrainian government has set a goal of arming and equipping a force of 1 million military personnel “to protect the state while a full-scale war continues.” He said that Ukraine is stimulating its own defense industry which is seeking foreign technical assistance.

On the international front, Reznikov said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his top aides have overcome many obstacles to convince Western partners to provide heavy weaponry of Western standards and speed up their delivery.

He said:

The main argument was that Ukraine is defending the whole Europe, and the enhancement of our defense is the strengthening of NATO's eastern flank. That is why ensuring the de facto mutual compatibility of the Alliance armies with the Ukrainian defense forces is in line with common interests.

Eventually, a tectonic shift took place. Within a month, Ukraine has completed a path of integration in the sphere of defense that it was not able to overcome for 30 years.

We are already receiving heavy weaponry from our partners. In particular, American 155-mm M777 howitzers are already working at the front lines.

Now most partners are confident in the ability of the Ukrainian forces to defeat the Russian invaders and cause irreparable damage to them.

Reznikov in particular praised UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for their roles in organizing and increasing military assistance for Ukraine. On April 26, Reznikov met with defense ministers from more than 40 countries met at the U.S. base in Ramstein, Germany, to coordinate efforts to meet Ukraine’s defense needs.

Reznikov also welcomed the lend-lease bill symbolically signed on May 9 by President Joe Biden to provide Ukraine with the same type of military assistance that helped defeat Hitler in World War II. He noted that the U.S. is now discussing another aid package for Ukraine. (Sen. Rand Paul has temporarily delayed Senate passage of the $40B humanitarian and military aid package.)

Reznikov tweeted that he had discussed implementation of the Lend-Lease package in another telelphone conversation with Austin on Thursday.



In his Facebook post, Reznikov said:

“The free world which was shocked by the atrocities of the Russian invaders on our land set a new common goal: not to stop, but to defeat the Kremlin,” he said. “This fully corresponds with our aspirations, because our goal is to restore our sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders.”

Reznikov noted that Russia has not only suffered defeats on the battlefield but also at the international level. The West is tightening economic sanctions, while Finland and Sweden are seeking NATO membership. The courage and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people, he said, has given the world “the chance to overcome dictatorship which constitutes a global threat.”

He concluded:

Time passes unspeakably slowly. … We remember that our citizens in temporary occupied territories are in danger. People are kidnapped, tortured, and killed. That is why we are doing everything possible and impossible to speed up the liberation of our land.
The growing pressure of sanctions against Russia and the increase of foreign aid to Ukraine in the next few months should create conditions under which the Kremlin will completely lose chances for any success.

Then a new window of opportunity for Ukraine should appear. In this extremely difficult period, we need unity, cohesion, will and patience. Ukraine will be victorious!
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Jen Psaki delivers her final White House press briefing
Walter Einenkel

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Today was White House Secretary Jen Psaki’s final day. Karine Jean-Pierre will be taking Psaki’s place in front of the press during the daily briefings. Jen Psaki has been a steady and welcome fixture in an administration that has been tasked with cleaning up the catastrophic destruction of the previous administration. It was a sad day in some respects, as Psaki has been a highlight for many, offering up witty and solid rebuttals to the steady fact-free propaganda of the right-wing media sphere.

Psaki began her final briefing by thanking the Biden administration, the Biden family, the press, and her husband, saying that anyone with children knows that they cannot execute any of their professional work without the support of a spouse. It was an emotional thank you that Psaki handled with the same level of grace that she has been able to apply to her daily press briefings over the past 16 months. Psaki opened the floor to questions and answered questions about abortion, inflation, supply shortages, and COVID-19, and then she signed off.



After covering all kinds of questions about subjects domestic and global, Psaki showed some of the flair that made her a hero to many Americans. A reporter asked a leading question about how President Biden’s Department of the Interior had recently canceled three oil and gas leases, and how this might be a sign that the Biden administration wasn’t doing what was needed to be done to lower oil prices (forget about the fact that fossil fuel companies are very clearly gouging consumers), Psaki gave a fact-filled extravaganza of an answer, detailing how oil and gas companies are sitting on fallow leases already, doing nothing but asking for more cheap public land leases.



At one point someone in the press asked Jen what wisdom she has gained in her position over the last year and a half. She reiterated what the nature of her job was, that she needed to make sure she spoke as frequently as possible with President Biden to understand what he wanted to say and what his policy ideas were. She also gave an important note to the press that learning about the policies being talked about, knowing exactly what are in any given policy, what it is trying to accomplish, and how, is fundamental in being able to ask meaningful questions or even criticizing those policies (I’m looking at you, Peter Doocy).

She said she was confident that Karine Jean-Pierre had also internalized many of those lessons as Deputy Press Secretary and that in the weeks ahead, she “will bring her own magic,” and style of communication to the position. Karine also assuaged many in the press by saying the plan was to continue holding daily press briefings, as being a fascistic dictatorial propaganda machine like the last administration is not an option.



Finally, Jen Psaki said her very quick good bye.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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TTM note: Good story........


The aim was to be the invisible man, says Igor Pedin, 61. It was to drift, as if a ghost, with his small trolley bag of supplies and dog Zhu-Zhu, a nine-year-old mongrel terrier, through the hellscape of the besieged port city of Mariupol, out into the badlands of Russian-occupied territories and on to the relative safety of the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia – a mere 225km walk away.

The equivalent of walking by foot from London to Sheffield but through a war unseen in its scale in Europe since 1945 and towards the oncoming convoys of tanks, armoured vehicles and nervous trigger-happy Russian soldiers racing towards Mariupol; it meant sidestepping mines and crossing destroyed bridges with his dog and luggage, where an erring step would lead to a 30ft drop to certain death; he would have to pass the smouldering homes and weeping men and women with their heartbreaking stories of death and suffering and their loss of will to live on.

Pedin, a former ship’s cook, could not have known any of this – and he did not prove to be invisible, he concedes, as he recounts his tale in the safety of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv........
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Starving Babies is the Pro-Life Position, You See
ShowerCap

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They were right, it truly is a mad, mad, mad, mad world; just not in a way that’s any ****ing fun at all. Slap that title on a horror film? Yeah, that’s where we live. Not gonna sugarcoat this, friends, this one’s real, real gross.

Before we dig in, big, fat congrats to America on that one millionth official Covid death, though if we’re honest, we padded the numbers with a petulance-based mass suicide movement. We’re the laughingstock of the afterlife, you know that, right?.........
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Let it be hereby proclaimed: whereas Donald Trump before him was known, within the confines of this (silly) blog, as the “Shart of the Deal,” henceforth Vladimir Putin shall be referred to, periodically at least, as the “Shart of War.” Why it took me two and half months to notice this low-hangingest of fruits is a matter for me to sort out with my fifth grade English teacher.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Putin, I’m sure your boy has other talents, but I don’t think war is a good fit. Next invasion, he should probably spend less time drafting his How I Conquered Ukraine While Shirtless and on Horseback speech, and more inspecting his army to make sure it, you know…works.

Coulda headed off a whole buncha trouble, right there. “Hey Sergey, before we launch this war of aggression, I just wanna check in real quick…does the army work?” “What do you mean, mein Führer?” “Like, can it do army stuff? Winning battles, running supply lines, that sort of thing?” “Ah. I understand now. No, mein Führer.” “Well, shit.”

Yeah, that probably wasn’t the “Victory Day” speech Vladkins had planned, (runnin’ out of jet fuel, kid?) back when he was fapping to fantasies of confetti and collaboration. You know you’ve got a completely unspinnable turd on your hands when a dude who runs a whole-ass police state treads so lightly. On the bright side, Genocidal ****ups Day is looking like an easy layup.

Aw, cheer up, Poots, at least your boys’re getting better at retreating. But do go on about all the objectives your Special Military Operation™️ keeps meeting. It’s all very convincing, and I’m sure your big, scawy thweats will keep Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, on account of how backupable they are.

In the relatively short history of superpowers, I feel like they don’t, generally speaking, tend to leave a lot of “tank graveyards” behind in the wake of humiliating retreats, but I’m certainly no expert. I’m speaking specifically of the tank graveyard that has become a tourist attraction in the country you thought you could conquer in a week. Oh, and the war crimes trials are already starting, that happens to superpowers all the time. Threaten away, though..........
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Rand Paul, having really settled into the “bloviating self-parody” phase of his career, single-handedly held up the latest round of bipartisan Ukraine aide, which won’t derail the bill, only delay it. You know, the sort of petty shit Rand pulls all the time, the way Susan Collins asserts her mewling, futile concern. SO WEIRD that Ron Paul’s kid has a pathological craving for attention-seeking misbehavior, innit?.........
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I can’t be the only one who pictures salivating cartoon hyenas when I read about all the rights America’s power-drunk white resentment cult is already targeting, now that the illegitimate theocrat SCOTUS majority has shown its hand on Roe v. Wade, can I?

Tate Reeves, who, as Governor of Mississippi, somehow led a state in the wealthiest, most advanced nation in human history to a third-world Covid death rate, practically wet himself on Jake Tapper, at the mere suggestion of banning contraception, like some tenth-rate Taliban warlord. Not even warlord. Does the Taliban have, like, shift managers?

And then there’s Stew “Best Buds with the Lt. Governor of Idaho” Peters, who doesn’t seem to feel the need to be quite so subtle about the world the American Right hopes to build.

Y’know, if Steve Daines had a lick of sense, he might’ve stopped himself from comparing women to reptiles on the Senate floor, but then, if Steve Daines had a lick of sense, he wouldn’t be a Republican Senator, now would he?.........
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So, it would appear the fearsome might of the U.S. presidency resided, for four goddamn years, with a fellow who believed China was shooting us with…lord, I’m embarrassed just typing it…with a hurricane gun.

He would be the dumbest person on any playground in America, and they’ve made him their king, and their God.

Incidentally, seems the hurricane gun guy wanted to court-martial a few retired generals, for the high crime of daring to criticize the Most Holy and Smart Acer of the Cognitive Test, Donald J. Trump, the “J” stands for, “Did I mention the HURRICANE GUN?”

He also proposed closing every single U.S. embassy on the African continent, but I’m sure if you just pass one more critical race theory ban, no one will notice how racist your white nationalist hate cult is.

…and this is the Party of Lincoln’s mighty kingmaker............
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At least the good people of Nebraska will be spared the gropey governorship of Chuck Herbster. But in West Virginia, Team Treason picked up a W, after successfully hanging a vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill around the incumbent’s neck, because only cucks want bridges that don’t collapse. My compliments to the disinformation chef; you’ve managed to make these rubes despise their own roads…once you break a human mind, the sky truly is the limit, isn’t it?.........
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Didja see that thing in the Washington Post, that laid out everything we know to date about Mark Meadows’ treacherous conduct during the Stoopid Coo? I remember each individual scandal, from months of steadily-trickling headlines, but when compiled like this, the shit reads like the plot synopsis of some sordid, straight-to-video, Tom-Clancy-meets-Joe-Eszterhas boondoggle. Which is essentially what it was.

First off, he and his shitbag wife pull their brazenly clumsy bit of voter fraud, and then from there, he spends two months careening through the federal government, swinging a ball peen hammer around his head, blindly hoping to smash enough shit to break American democracy forever. Which is not how I remember Leo McGarry behaving on the West Wing, frankly.

Many of Meadows’ skeeviest co-insurrectionists now face subpoenas from the House committee investigating January 6th, having obstinately refused to align themselves with the forces of decency and democracy in the struggle against hatred, violence, and authoritarianism. Cuz they’re the party of law n’ order, y’see..........
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A court in California overturned a law forbidding the sale of semiautomatic firearms to anyone under the age of 21, and there’s certainly nothing insane about a society that prioritizes the rights of mass shooters over the lives of their victims. Nosireebob. Rational decisions only, here in 21st century America.*.........
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One America Nooz Network wants you to know that, unlike every other glob of septic waste they shovel into your brain, the stuff about 2020 election fraud is fake-ass news, and my GOD doesn’t it feel good, watching the Big Lie take such a stout legal spanking? Now, if we can just do something about all the Big Liars seeking control of the nation’s election infrastructure, we might just be able to hang onto our country.........
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Meanwhile, the Republican War on Disney For Not Hating Gay People Enough led a gang of swastika flag-waving asspimples to the Magic Kingdom, to screech about “grooming,” and, as you know, wherever American Nazis rear their subpar heads, Josh Hawley can’t be far behind….yeah, when Nazis and Senators are saying the same things, you KNOW you’re in a healthy democracy..........
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Like, lookit Dan Crenshaw and Marjorie Taylor Greene, clawing and puking and flinging poo at one another….there’s room for all kinds of maniacs under the GOP tent, with its profane, Lovecraftian angles.......

But Madison Cawthorn and this Kathy Barnette person are TOO crazy, I guess; and yeah, I imagine the job of death cult gatekeeper has its challenges, but then, each passing day is a fresh, new opportunity to come to your ****ing senses, and join us here on the side where insanity isn’t incentivized........
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Republicans’re mad at Joe Biden for shining a spotlight on Rick Scott’s “abandoning serfdom was a mistake” economic plan, but not mad enough to actually present the public with alternative party platform, don’t be silly........
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I guess there’s a new grand jury looking into that thing where the Deposed Dotard stuffed his pockets on the way out with as many classified documents as he could wrap those tiny, inadequate fingers around, that’s good. Say, we should get Trey Gowdy to head up an investigation into this poor, persecuted intel; he’s quite passionate about the issue, if I remember correctly........
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So, Elon Musk spent $44 billion to buy his fascist loser buddy’s Twitter account back for him, because emotionally stunted man-babies of a feather stick together, I guess. Wonder what he’d have to pay to reinstall Steve Schmidt on Meghan McCain’s Xmas card list?

Or maybe the little freak isn’t buying Twitter after all. Either way, I mostly just resent this inescapable toddler for the space his misanthropic antics take up in our culture. Can’t you just build a lair somewhere, and lure spies into death traps?........
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If anybody out there is somehow still reading this diatribe, I regret to inform you that, despite the preceding tales of atrocity and abuse, we are only just now arriving at the bottom of this week’s barrel. If anybody needs a moment to like, clean the projectile vomit off the wall, now would be a good time to take care of that.

And let me start by saying that I legitimately do not blame Republicans for hitting Biden on the formula shortage; (though of course the administration is doing all it can) that’s Politics 101, and we’re all adults here.

…but to frame the issue as RACE TRAITOR BIDEN STARVES WHITE INFANTS TO FEED INVADING BORDER HORDE, as so many prominent Republicans have, just…like, are you proud of yourself for fueling hatred of brown babies?

And I understand that one of the primary appeals of your creepy, post-shame culture is that such buffoonish hypocrisy no longer bothers you, but this hideous lurch, from sanctimonious lectures about “life” directly to DESPISE THESE BABIES THEY WANT TO REPLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE YOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUU…it’s a little much, guys.

That said, I would like to respectfully resubmit my request that y’all cut it out with all this Nazi shit.........
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All I want to know about this supermassive black hole is, is it a place where no one is around to shriek about toy potato gender, or the sacred right to chug livestock dewormer, and if so, how the **** do I get there? I will become an edgelord billionaire solely to build a rocket to take me to that place, if it exists, so help me God......
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So, if you’ll excuse me, I need a sandpaper-and-bleach bath now. ****. I’ll see you next week; try not to hate any babies while I’m out.
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* No, YOUR country’s right-wing extremists staged a terrorist assault on the seat of government! Shut up!

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Border Patrol agent arrested and charged with assaulting child in U.S. custody
Gabe Ortiz

A Border Patrol agent has been arrested “on a charge of Official Oppression,” accused of assaulting and mistreating a minor in U.S. custody, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said. The agency identified the agent only as belonging to the Del Rio Sector, and said they were arrested by Texas Rangers. No other details were given in the short statement, including any details about the alleged abuse.

Still, we can say definitively that this charge is a rarity, considering how often border agents have abused and even killed migrants, and gotten away with it.
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Just this week, the Border Patrol’s union joined with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to openly argue that infants in federal immigration custody should be starved. The right-wing, including top GOP officials, are currently engaged in a racist outrage campaign over providing baby formula to migrant infants. Thousands of active border agents are members of this union. If they’re openly arguing against feeding brown children, what are they doing behind the scenes?

We have some idea. The Department of Homeland Security inspector general confirmed last September that border agents lied about the death of 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez, falsifying logs to make it look like they’d been regularly checking on him when in fact he died by himself, from flu, on his cell’s cement floor. His May 2019 death made him the fifth child to die after being taken into U.S. custody since December 2018.

However, no charges were filed against any officers, nor would CBP say if any agents were disciplined. Last week, officials also said no charges would be filed against a border agent who shot and killed an unarmed migrant, claiming that the shooting was justified because the migrant, 32-year-old dad Carmelo Cruz Marcos, supposedly had a rock. But CBP has lied about this very kind of accusation in the past.

Vital in helping shield agents from accountability have been Border Patrol Critical Incident Teams (BPCITs), the secretive units whose sole purpose has been to cover up abuses by officers. Following a push from advocates, the Biden administration said that it will disband these units and shift all investigative responsibilities to CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the same office that’s investigating the abuse allegations against the Del Rio Sector agent.

Border officials were also forced to hospitalize four severely sick migrant toddlers after pressure from attorneys conducting an inspection of a McAllen, Texas detention facility in 2019. “One 2-year-old’s eyes were rolled back in her head, and she was ‘completely unresponsive’ and limp, according to Toby Gialluca, a Florida-based attorney,” HuffPost reported at the time.



These children were rushed to care only because the attorneys, who had been inspecting a number of border facilities as part of the Flores Agreement, made detention officials provide care. The Flores Agreement requires humane care for children in U.S. custody, including nutrition. It shouldn’t take a law to ensure that children are fed, they should get fed because they’re human beings. But this is really what Republicans and right-wing media are really now fighting against.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Parents and caregivers looking for baby formula are facing increasingly dire shortages owing to supply chain challenges and a massive recall.

  • 29% of baby formula inventory was out of stock nationally the week of March 13, up from 18% when the year started and 3% a year earlier, according to data analyzed for Axios by consumer product data analytics firm Datasembly.
Why it matters: About 3 in 4 babies are fed formula by six months old as a complete or partial substitute for human milk.

What they're saying: “The out-of-stocks we’re seeing here are moving very quickly and affecting many shoppers,” Datasembly CEO Ben Reich tells Axios.

  • "Infant formula manufacturers are actively working with suppliers, distributors, retailers and state agencies to ensure availability and access to infant formula products, to quickly address the needs of babies everywhere," the Infant Nutrition Council of America said in a statement.
Between the lines: Production problems or distribution issues — depending on whom you ask — started the shortages in 2021. But a sweeping recall of Abbott Nutrition products has exacerbated the situation.
  • The FDA last week warned Americans not to use recalled Similac, Alimentum or EleCare powdered infant formulas made at Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan, plant after the agency found evidence of a food-borne pathogen there.
  • At least four babies have reportedly gotten ill after they consumed the products, the FDA says.
The other side: Abbott said in a statement that the FDA's testing and its own testing "have not found any Cronobacter Sakazakii or Salmonella in any of our ... distributed products."
  • "We hope that these findings give parents, caregivers and our other stakeholders renewed confidence in our products," Abbott said. "That said, we will continue to enhance our manufacturing and quality processes to ensure that our products remain free of Cronobacter Sakazakii and Salmonella.
Of note: Before the recall, manufacturers were blaming retailers for failing to adequately distribute the product, while retailers were blaming producers for not making enough, the Wall Street Journal reported in January.
  • The FDA says it's "intensified" its ongoing effort to ensure adequate supplies, "reaching out to infant formula manufacturers and their trade groups" to ensure adequate supplies and will "consider all tools available to support the supply of infant formula products."