More to ignore, Book 62........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine Update: HIMARS it is, as Ukraine gets the rocket artillery it's been begging for
kos

GettyImages-1233365794.jpg

HIMARS rocket artillery, at a training exercise in Morocco.

With partners and allies stepping up big, Ukraine’s once long list of weapons requests has gotten shorter and shorter over time, and has been whittled down these past two weeks to one final request: MLRS, MLRS, and MLRS. It doesn’t mean they don’t need everything else, and more of it, but long-range artillery has been Ukraine’s final missing piece toward putting together the kind of army that won’t just hold off Russia, but pushing them out of Ukraine.

MLRS is “multiple launch rocket system,” or rocket artillery, and as I’ve written about several times, this is what I did for three years in the Army. MLRS. And specifically, I was fire direction for a MLRS platoon, managing fire missions and, more importantly, its logistics—fuel, water, food, ammunition (for the three M270 launchers), and mechanics for all the things that broke down. There were around 60 vehicles supporting nine launchers in my batter, and it was rare when we had all nine operational. I read somewhere that a MLRS unit has the highest per-mile logistical cost in the entire Army. And while I haven’t verified that “fact,” my experience certainly backs up an extremely high operational challenge. I’ve been horrified at the idea of Ukraine having to manage that kind of logistical and mechanical challenge in the middle of a war, without an established NCO corps with MRLS experience. The alternative, the wheeled, simplified version of the M270, the M142 HIMARS, is objectively a better option. And it’s what the United States will send to Ukraine.





Hertling agreed with my assessment about HIMARS vs MLRS:



Theiner chimed in. Theiner was an artillery officer in the Italian army and clearly knows his shit....



Oh good, the swivel mechanism has been upgraded since my time, that’s big. The U.S. says they can train Ukrainians on HIMARS in two weeks. The maintenance/mechanics crowd, that won’t be enough time. But the guys inside the cab? They can train those in one day. I was fire direction, but I got to sit in the M270 and fire rockets several times, for fun, and it was a computer, type in the coordinates, and press a button. That was it. I can’t imagine things have gotten any more complicated than that in the last 30 years. The bigger learning task is loading the pods onto the launcher, so sure, that could take a day or two along with the ammo truck guys. Easy enough. They’ll get these on the front line in short order.

Let’s talk about range using standard rounds, which are by far the most common in the battlefield. Specialty extended-range rounds are rare and expensive.


Russian D30
: 15.4 km (9 mi)

Russian 2S19
: 25 km (16 mi)

NATO M777
: 29 km (18 mi)

Russian GRAD
(MLRS): 45 km (28 mi)

Russian SMERCH
(MLRS): 70 km (43 mi)

NATO M142 HIMARS
: 70+ km (43+ mi)

As far as I can tell, there aren’t many SMERCH systems in Ukraine, and they are nowhere near as mobile and flexible as HIMARS (read the Theiner thread above). Theiner also points out that HIMARS has a longer range than the official numbers. Back in my time, our fire direction computers let us plot targets beyond rated range, so that tracks.

As you can see above, the M777 howitzers that have been streaming into Ukraine already outgun everything except Russian rocket artillery. With HIMARS, no Russian artillery will be safe. No supply depot will be safe (Kupiansk, supplying the entire northern Donbas front, is in range!). No Russian advance will be safe.


There is a potential role for M270 MLRS if the U.S. decides to clear out obsolete early versions of the system—urban defense. Place a platoon, three M270 launchers, somewhere on the outskirts of frequently targeted towns like Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mykolaiv, in an abandoned barn. Pinpoint the source of any incoming artillery, roll them out, fire a volley, then have them roll into the neighbor’s barn (in case Russia counters with long-range ballistic missiles). As long as the M270s don’t have to move much, they might hold up well enough as semi-fixed local defense.

Let’s take a look at the battlefield. When you read this, Russia may have full control of Severodonetsk.

Good.


I spent way too much time (here, here, and here) wondering why Ukraine would try and hold a city surrounded on three sides, far from Ukrainian artillery support, with no strategic value, when there was a far more defensible position literally across the river. Seems like Ukraine had the same thought, and has been conducting a fighting retreat from the city over the last couple of days.

Lysychansk is everything you want in a defensive position.

lys.png

Look at those hills around Lysychansk, perfect for defense.

Not only is the town protected behind a river Russia has thus far proven incapable of crossing, but a network of bluffs and hills overlook Severodonetsk and the river between them, offering effective firing positions to any direct approaches. Hills on the south edge of town make any approach difficult if Russian forces ever manage to break out of the Popasna salient.

Speaking of, the last I saw from Popasna was pro-Russia Telegram accounts screaming that Wagner mercenaries had been mauled trying to break out of the pocket to the north, and that they were forcing Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) troops to take the vanguard. Didn’t sound too promising for them, if real. What we do know for sure is that Russia is attempting to advance in three different directions out of Popasna, in case you thought Russia had finally learned to focus its efforts.


FTuOAFSWYAoPtmA.jpeg


Back to Lysychansk, its supply lines are threatened by Russian artillery, but they remain open. And there’s plenty of friendly territory to its west for artillery to operate. It’s still out on a limb, but a far more defensible one. Pretty soon, HIMARS will offer even more dramatic coverage of this entire area.

A well-supplied battery of nine launchers could easily cover the entire Donbas front, or even a platoon of three, raining a steady stream of rockets wherever Russia tried to advance. Ukraine isn’t lying when they say it’s going to be game-changing, and Russia really can’t afford any further attrition.




A Russian Battalion Tactical Group (BTG) is supposed to have 800-1,000 soldiers each. Mark talked yesterday about Russia running low, but still having bodies to throw into the meat grinder until it doesn’t. At some point, the tap will run dry.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Wednesday, Jun 1, 2022 · 1:31:49 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner
In yesterday’s discussion, I mentioned one more thing that Ukraine was still asking about—improved air defense systems. In recent days, Russia has been more willing to risk aircraft, so long as those aircraft are flying low over the Donbas or far out along the Russian border. That air support has been critical in Russia’s ability to make advances in eastern Ukraine, and while human-carried systems are capable of making a direct attack on nearby aircraft, Ukraine was looking for more systems capable of longer range defense.



This system, built by Diehl, incorporates a modified version of the IRIS-T missiles used by numerous fighter jets into a truck-based system that first rolled out in 2014. The system is rated to take out targets 40km (25 miles) away, and the ground-based version can chase down targets at altitudes up to 19km (12 miles).

The system is reportedly highly mobile and relatively simple to use. It offers a large improvement over the aging Soviet systems Ukraine now depends on. A few other air defense systems have been sent, but “few” is the word. Like … one S-300 system, and one Strela. Hopefully, the number of IRIS-T SLM systems will be more than one.

The question is: How quickly will Germany deliver? Slow action on the part of Germany in meeting past promises has generated a lot of (often unwarranted, sometimes warranted) criticism of Scholz.
 

Lion8286

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What do you think about all this Hunter Biden stuff, Marbles?? They really are a sicko family.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Kherson counteroffensive continues to expand
Mark Sumner

On Wednesday, Ukrainian officials in the area reported that Russia now occupies roughly 80% of the city of Severodonetsk as an intense block by block, house by house fight continues. There are also reports that Russia has bombed a chemical plant, raising clouds of nitric acid above the streets. Ukrainian forces are now isolated in a small area of the city and may be forced to soon retreat across the river to the much more defensible and supportable city of Lysychansk which kos discussed earlier today. And honestly … the sooner the better.

As in the fighting in the east continues, Ukraine is moving to take advantage of Russia’s reduced forces north and west of Kherson. The counteroffensive that began two days ago with Ukrainian forces crossing the Inhulets River near Davyid Brid appears to be expanding, both penetrating deeper into Russian-occupied territory and opening a new attack at a fourth location along the line.

screencap.jpg

Ukrainian forces are now reportedly engaged in a counteroffensive in at least four locations near Kherson

There have been some reports that Ukraine has taken Snihurivka at the southwest end of this counteroffensive, but there are other indications that the city is not yet completely free of Russian occupation. Still, Russia is reportedly shelling the town, which seems unlikely if they still had significant forces there. On the other hand, Russia has reportedly also shelled a location to the north that was held by DNR separatists and was 20km from the nearest Ukrainian forces.

At the original crossing point at Davyid Brid, it’s unclear who is in control. While original reports had the town liberated by Ukraine, it’s not certain that either army is actually in position inside the town. Instead, Ukrainian forces seem to be moving from location to location south of the town, capturing a string of small villages. Ukrainian forces have since moved southeast, moving not just along the road but also reportedly cutting across fields to engage the Russians in additional locations. Some reports suggest that Ukraine has captured the town of Bruskynske, but that continues to be unconfirmed.

At the north end of the line, the counteroffensive that began at Mykolayivka has spread to include Vysokopillya. And again, that might also have been taken by Ukraine, as Russia is now reportedly shelling the town.

Finally, there’s a new location along the western bank of the wide Dnipro River. Ukrainian forces have reportedly moved in on Russian positions at Zolota Balka and may have taken it because—see if you can name this tune—Russia is now reportedly shelling this location.

The accuracy of all these reports is challenged by the fact that there continue to be strikes against the city of Kryvyi Rih, 35km north of Mykolayivka. So Russia appears to retain some position to launch artillery, or at least MLRS, against this area. This makes it seem as if Ukraine hasn’t taken all of Russia’s positions at the northern end of the occupied area.

Geolocation suggests that this Russian BMP was taken out just north of Arkhanhel's'ke.



There have been reports today that Ukraine’s advance has been limited because of “lack of weapons.” Presumably, this means heavy weapons, like artillery or tanks. However, it seems extremely odd that Ukraine would even begin a counteroffensive without having on hand the equipment necessary to carry through. Some of the discussion is suggesting that Ukraine can’t move because it doesn’t have the HIMARS systems that were just announced today, which seems silly.

Meanwhile, Russian media is reporting that the counteroffensive at Davydiv Brid has been “destroyed” costing Ukraine 20 tanks and over 200 soldiers. A video is circulating that shows vehicles being taken out alongside a river in a night attack, but there is no reason to believe this is even from Ukraine, much less from recent fighting in the Kherson area. There is no indication of any truth to this video, or another that reportedly shows Ukrainian soldiers trying to surrender. Numerous reports and FIRMS data continue to show fighting taking place 8-9km east of the river.

By contrast, this video reportedly shows Ukrainian forces operating on the south side of the Inhulnets River.



KHARKIV​


There’s a nice soundtrack to go with this, and it’s good to see those Switchblades getting used, but this is essentially a “watch it launch and sail off across the field” video.



This launch is happening somewhere north of Kharkiv, but there continues to be no sign of a renewed counteroffensive in that area. Russia still holds positions close enough to direct shells and missiles into the city — for no reason other than to cause death and misery — and the bridgehead on the east of Staryi Saltiv has gone so quiet that there are now many claims that Ukraine never moved forces across the river at all. They did, though I confess to not knowing how. I’ve spent hours scanning the upper Siverskyi Donets for any sign of a barge (barges can seriously move some stuff). Best guess is that they erected some kind of temporary structure across the gap in the broken bridge, then took it down again.

KYIV​

Also on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly sat down for an interview with a reporter from Newsmax (we can only presume they don’t get Newsmax in Ukraine) where he said that Ukraine is, “losing 60 to 100 soldiers every day and something like 500 wounded in combat.” If these numbers are accurate, that’s a fearsome rate of loss—between 1,800 and 3,000 killed in a month. Ukraine estimates that 30,000 Russians have been killed since the war began, which would put Russia’s rate of loss over 300 a day. But what Ukraine is reportedly suffering is a tremendous loss.

Let’s send these folks some HIMARS.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Wednesday, Jun 1, 2022 · 4:30:32 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
Well, this is certainly surprising. The MQ-1C has been around since 2004, so it’s pretty long in the tooth as far as drones go. However, the electronics has been upgraded several times. It can carry four Hellfire or Stinger missiles as well as four precision-guided bombs. After engine upgrades in 2013, it can stay airborne for an astounding 36 hours at altitudes up to 29,000 feet.

It’s big. We’re talking bigger than a Cessna 150, definitely needs a runway.

It also has a cost of around $21M per copy, excluding the R&D expenses. Compare to the Turkish Bayraktar at < $2M.

So when it says Ukraine is buying four, it’s unclear if this is a straight cash transaction, or if the U.S. will be sending these as part of the new lend-lease agreement.



TTM note: This is the drone that Vindman was pushing for.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Wednesday, Jun 1, 2022 · 4:33:26 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
As kos has pointed out, the HIMARS system is large, and the ammo is even bulkier and heavier, so it’s unsurprising that the first allocation includes just four HIMARS systems, considering the difficulty in transporting all the necessary parts.

But it looks like the administration was on the ball in anticipating this decision.





FULulD_XEAAptid







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Ten Thousan Marbles

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As November approaches, the Republican Party focuses on hoaxes and sabotage
Hunter

After a failed coup attempt that led to deaths inside the U.S. Capitol and, at least so far, little to no repercussions for its Republican planners, we know precisely how Republican Party operatives and lawmakers intend to "contest" the outcome of any of the November midterm elections that do not go their way. Republican statehouses have put in new laws allowing partisan operators to overrule elections officials who report vote counts in Democratic-majority counties that Republicans declare to be somehow suspicious. Conservative media outlets have been inundating Americans with thoroughly false claims of election "fraud," hoaxes used by the seditionist coup plotters to demand that Democratic votes be tossed that are still being trotted out long after they were proven false. And in individual precincts, Republican volunteers groomed to believe every last batshit conspiracy the party throws their way will look to challenge voters who, in their minds, look like the sort of people who would be involved in such conspiracies.

It's all out in the open—you can't exactly pass legislation giving party partisans control over which votes will be counted in secret, after all—and is proceeding largely unimpeded, though few of the party operatives shepherding the effort are eager to talk to reporters about it.

A series of new reports today gives more detail, however. And buckle in, because there’s a whole lot going on.

From Politico, we learn about Republican Party efforts to install conspiracy-minded activists not as poll watchers, but as actual poll workers. That’s a key distinction: Partisan poll watchers have very little power, but poll workers, the ones handling the actual ballot boxes and voter rolls, have considerably more. Video recordings obtained by Politico show Republican National Committee "election integrity director for Michigan" Matthew Seifried emphasizing to Republican activists the importance of gaining spots as official poll workers, rather than observers, and promises "an army" of lawyers and friendly district attorneys ready to back them up when challenging precinct procedures or individual voters.

Because poll workers are nonpartisan officials, elections officials cannot refuse to hire Republicans for the roles. With that in mind, Seifried has already provided a list of over 850 Republican-trained volunteers for heavily Democratic Detroit-area precincts. Why Detroit? Because those are the votes the Republican Party believes to be most suspicious, because reasons. The Republicans will be trained into how to legally challenge individual voters, and the Republican plan is to insert those activists into Democratic precincts, then fish for alleged wrongdoing that can be used to challenge precinct results.

If fervent partisan activists working as poll workers just happen to voice enough objections to measurably impair precinct operations, slowing down the voting and making voting lines longer, that might be considered a happy little bonus. The main priority, however, is to fish for any excuse that Republican lawyers attached to the effort can use to dispute vote totals in Democratic precincts.

If you're wondering whether the party will even make token efforts to direct the same watchful eyes to Republican-majority precincts, you haven't gotten around much. The sedition-backing Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama recently piped up to insist that fraud doesn't happen in Republican primaries and is confined to "predominantly Democrat parts of the state."

The Republican Party's official efforts are aimed squarely at screwing with Democratic precincts while leaving Republican precincts unmolested, and the quite public rationale the party is using to justify this would-be sabotage is the same hoax the party used to promote an attempted coup. "Bamboo"-tainted ballots, supposed "trucks" or "suitcases" of ballots, Italian satellites, dead Venezuelan leaders—hoax after hoax after hoax, all proven false but all still being referred to by Republican operatives to delegitimize elections and create justifications for throwing out the votes and declaring Republican candidates to be the "true" winners.

If you're wondering why this isn't legally considered a thinly veiled attempt at voter suppression: It probably will be, anywhere it actually works. But it doesn’t matter. Politico notes that a decades-long consent decree barring the Republican National Committee from engaging in polling place "election integrity" shenanigans finally expired in 2018, freeing the party to again dip their toes into schemes to partisanize polling places. It may well be that a future Republican Party will be again barred from doing such things, based on their speedy return to the same vote suppression efforts that got federal judges involved the last time around, but that won't happen in time to do anyone any good.

Oh—and if you're wondering whether the Democratic elections clerk in Detroit has been made aware of the ratf--king operation involving 850 Republican-trained partisans, the answer is yes, and she's not impressed. "Apparently they think I'm stupid," she told Politico.

A second window into Republican Party efforts to toss the results of the next elections comes from The New York Times, which helpfully informs us that while the Republican National Committee may be focused on getting conspiracy-minded partisans hired on as poll workers on election day, the usual effort to recruit conspiracy-addled base members as election monitors is still going on alongside it, and because this is the Republican Party and the Republican Party has turned full-on fascist in their use of constructed hoaxes to delegitimize democracy itself, that effort still features Trump hoax-promoting "lawyer" Cleta Mitchell, one of the worst purveyors of false conspiracy theories the party used to justify what quickly spiraled into an attempted coup.

Yes, she's still around. She's also still in the middle of Republican efforts to groom the base into believing that Democrats, and only Democrats, are committing invisible fraud on a nationwide scale in ways so clever that nobody anywhere can come up with a damn bit of proof of it. Mitchell is working to recruit a "volunteer army" of poll watchers culled from the bubbling fever swamps of anyone sucker enough to believe her, and is part of an effort not just to collect those volunteers but to "research the backgrounds of local and state officials to determine whether each is a 'friend or foe' of the movement," says the Times.

The plan remains the same, then. Spread hoaxes. Target elections officials who refute the hoaxes, singling them out so that the conspiracy-minded right can target them and either vote them out of office or hound them out of office. Use an "army" of Republicans pre-selected for their belief in the hoaxes to monitor individual precincts and voters, looking for anything that can be used as the foundation for new hoaxes. Use the paranoia to justify doing what Republicans attempted to do in 2020, demanding votes be thrown away until the vote totals bent back in Donald Trump's favors, while making sure the officials who thwarted those demands are no longer around.

Oh, and just to cap things off: A CNN report reminds us of nationwide Republican efforts to ban the use of ballot-counting machines, mandating that ballots be hand-counted even in massive counties where such a count would take weeks to complete—even though elections experts agree that hand counting ballots is far more prone to error than machine counting the ballots while using limited manual counts to verify that the machines are working correctly.

Much of the press seems to be blowing Republican demands for hand counting as an offshoot of generic Republican Party contempt for experts and expertise, a natural outcome of the party's insistence that election fraud is rampant and the voters, the machines, the government, and Italian satellites are all in on it. That's not it. It's part of it, but it's not the actual scheme at play here.

Donald Trump, a traitorous lying git, has attempted to lead the party into the belief that any votes counted after the very first vote totals are released are somehow fraudulent or unfair, instead insisting (because, again, the man really is one of the stupidest Americans you can find, and that is saying something) that at midnight or some other time on election night, elections officials should just declare the winner and if they haven't gotten all the votes counted by then than it sucks to be you, every single American with a ballot that wasn't. This is an extremely profoundly stupid belief, one that you would have to be a human tree stump to even entertain, but he's had some success among the group of Republicans who realize that "don't count any vote that our elections officials didn't get around to" is in fact one of the best voter suppression schemes anyone could ever come up with.

How could you make sure the vast majority of votes are never counted? Slow down the count as much as you can. How can you slow down counts? Well, a demand that a team of elections officials lay eyes on every last sodding box of every last sodding ballot would effectively sabotage the whole system.

How would you use this to throw elections to Republicans nearly every single time? Underfund high-population areas with millions and millions of votes, the ones that reliably vote Democratic, so that they can count only a sliver of their votes in the hours after polls close. Give Republican areas more precincts, per capita, and the resources to count a much higher percentage of their own votes. There ya go.

It's the same segregationist funding ploy already in widespread use around the country to make sure that Democratic precincts face long, long lines on voting day while Republican districts are a quick in-and-out stop; this just adds a new way to toss out even the votes that voters do manage to turn in after those long waits. There's no way the Republican officials now demanding full manual counts for large population centers will tolerate hearing that, weeks after election day, new vote totals have come in that upend the previously Republican-leaning count turned in previously. They wouldn't abide it. They'd declare the hand counted ballots to be fraudulent, or illegal, or whatever it took, and the current Supreme Court would gladly decide that waiting a few weeks before knowing an election's outcome was so intolerable that officials must go with the election night counts and nothing else. You know they would, Republicans know they would, the Supreme Court justices themselves know they would. It's a scam.

There. Now you're caught up on most of of the behind-the-scenes plans the Republican Party is officially pursuing as means of promoting new hoaxes that will justify nullifying November elections that the party's candidates do not win. Keep in mind that each of these methods only needs to produce fodder to produce a new hoax—none actually have to produce actual evidence of any wrongdoing by anyone. The goal is to put conspiracy-minded people in positions where they can use their brains to invent new conspiracy theories, which will be delivered to the lawyers to be thrown out of new courtrooms just like the last time around, but will this time have new Republican laws that allow Republicans to commandeer election counting after the hoaxes have created "controversy" as to the reliability of vote totals in, as Mo Brooks told us, the "predominantly Democrat parts of the state."

Nobody's trying to hide it, and they're largely relying on the proven reluctance of the press to identify the hoaxes as an orchestrated Republican Party means of erasing elections. All that matters is that they create enough "uncertainty" about elections that their own base demands nullifying them, and if the political press wants to impotently point out that it was all a hoax from the beginning, so what? No repercussions have so far appeared that would make attempted insurrection a poor political move. It can be tried as many times as is necessary until the party gets its desired result.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Gov. Ron DeSantis begins recruiting for his own Florida army
Rebekah Sager

Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying his damnedest to win the award for the most fascist leader in the U.S., this time calling on fellow Floridians to join the state’s long-disbanded version of a second-string National Guard—a move critics (reasonably) fear could be used to enforce right-wing extremist goals without any real oversight.

DeSantis’ office announced Tuesday the search for 400 people and one part-time director to join the newly revived Florida State Guard (FLSG), according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“If you love the state of Florida, have a desire to help your community, and have skills beneficial to protect the state from a disaster, we encourage you to apply to join the FLSG. Skilled Floridians with emergency response, law enforcement, or military training are encouraged to apply,” reads a statement from DeSantis’ office.
............
This state-funded organization was authorized in 1941 as a paramilitary group originally called the Florida Defense Force. The guards served under the command of the governor and were there to fill in for the state’s National Guard, who were fighting the Nazis overseas. The group was disbanded in 1947 after the end of World War II, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

DeSantis insists the guard will be helping out in state “emergencies” such as hurricanes. But as Robert Mayer of Boynton Beach pointed out in a letter to the editor: What if DeSantis’ version of an emergency includes “controlling voter turnout or people protesting the non-vaccinated?” Mayer’s concerns are valid, in light of a GOP that doesn’t bother following the rules. “What we don’t need more of is right-wing, gun-toting crazies in the streets, even if they are sanctioned by a governor desperate to prove how tough he is.”



Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called out DeSantis as an “authoritarian dictator,” and his Gestapo-like state guard as “alarming” and “scary.”

“Can't believe I have to say this, but Florida doesn't need a paramilitary force that only answers to @RonDeSantisFL. Millions of Floridians know what it's like to live under regimes like this—and came to our state to escape them. This must be stopped,” Fried tweeted.



Democratic Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo called DeSantis’ FLSG a “vigilante militia” last year when the idea was first floated. Taddeo is currently running for governor in the state.



DeSantis has allocated $10 million for the force, Bloomberg reports, but the state budget is still awaiting final approval.

According to the FLSG website, the director position comes with a $400- to $500-per-day stipend, and whoever is hired must have a “strong background in military operations and culture” in order to lead guard members.

Guard members must be between the ages of 18 and 60. “Ideal candidates will have demonstrated experience in military style operations, emergency management, leadership and problem solving,” says the memo.

Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, also running for governor in Florida, called the FLSG DeSantis’ “handpicked secret police.”


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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At least 4 killed, several injured in Tulsa, Oklahoma shooting; gunman also dead
April Siese

At least four people are dead as well as a gunman who is believed to have killed himself after opening fire at the Natalie Building of the Warren Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa City Councilman Jayme Fowler relayed the news to Tulsa NBC affiliate KJRH during a live segment on Wednesday night. Fowler said he’d been receiving live updates from law enforcement. “Here’s what I know so far, some of the details is that four are confirmed dead, including the shooter,” Fowler said. “And the shooter did take his own life, so our prayers go out to the victims and their families.”

“From what I understand is that there was an actual discussion of practices yesterday with TPD officers on just such a situation,” Fowler continued. It’s unclear what the gunman’s motives were and authorities are still going floor by floor sweeping the building........


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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With every new Uvalde update, everything looks worse and worse
Hunter

In the days after 19 children and two teachers were killed inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, every newly revealed detail manages to make both the political reaction and the law enforcement response look worse. Very little of the account first given by Texas law enforcement officials remains intact, and yet another claim was proven false when surveillance video proved that no, the mass shooter did not enter the school through a supposedly unsecured, "propped open" door. A door that had been propped open so that a teacher could carry in food was in fact closed by that same teacher, even as she called 911 to report the approaching shooter.

Why the door did not automatically lock behind her when she pulled it closed is now yet another question for investigators, but prior claims that it had been left ajar are now provably false. It was another claim from police that appeared to cast blame on the victims of the shooting while deflecting blame from the police departments that stood by while children inside called 911 to plead for help; it's not likely that revised information will do anything to dissuade pro-gun Republicans from insisting that it is our door technologies that are the problem, not new Texas laws that lowered the minimum age for purchasing an assault–style rifle to 18 and did away with any training or permit requirements. No, say malevolent and craven hacks who bragged loudly about each new law making AR-15 ownership easier, it must be the fault of the teachers, the schools, and the doors.

Speaking of malevolent and craven hacks: Ted Cruz. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been getting an earful from Texans in the wake of his state's latest mass murder, or rather his staff has been getting an earful while he remains in wherever the hell he has run off to. Texas teachers yesterday descended on his Austin office to shout "shame on you" in protest of Cruz's vigorously asinine and, quote, "abominable" theories about installing better doors while still sucking up to the pro-sedition, pro-mass-violence militia crowd. Mind you, Cruz doesn't care and never will, but the man managed to speedily dive into a mass tragedy only to pipe up with a take so sociopathically out-of-touch that it managed to stand out even in a Republican Party that burps up sociopathically bad takes on a daily basis. That requires a dedication to awfulness that few can muster.

From Uvalde itself, none of the developments since the shooting have been anything but terrible, and Uvalde law enforcement at this point could not possibly look worse. There's assuredly a major federal investigation coming their way, and if at the end of it it turns out that a great deal of what the small town thought it was spending money on turned out to be a Putinesque fiction saddled with graft and vanity projects ... it would be hard at this point to act surprised.

Earlier we noted that Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Chief of Police Peter Arredondo was to have had his ceremonial swearing-in as new member of the city's City Council, after getting 126 votes to win his election to the post in early May, but the ceremony was being put off so that the mayor and other town leaders could better deal with the aftermath of the mass murder. Arredondo was the incident commander who is now reported to have ordered town and federal officers to stand by rather than engage the shooter, even though 911 calls were coming in that signaled surviving children were still hiding in those rooms.

Almost immediately after reports of the canceled ceremony went out, reporters also learned that Uvalde law enforcement was no longer cooperating with the Texas state investigation of the mass murder.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, however, soon clarified that it was Arredondo who was no longer responding to their inquiries, even as other officers continued that cooperation:



Today Arredondo's apparent efforts to hide from reporters took another turn, with police officials threatening arrest of reporters on the "private property" of ... the public school district's offices?



None of this is instilling confidence in the town's law enforcement operations, and there was little to no confidence there to begin with.

Taking a cursory glance toward the awful, terrible, absolutely useless United States Senate, it appears that Republican efforts to kill any and all attempts at actually getting America's favorite weapons of terrorism off the streets—or even slightly curtailed—are going just as expected.



So they're going to do the "doors" thing, but then pull back their support the moment the time comes to actually approve the money the schools would need to actually implement the make-work solution, and they're going to underscore "mental illness" while blocking all federal efforts to expand mental health coverage and boosting state Republican budgets that slash that coverage at every opportunity. Sen. Mitch McConnell is already sounding quite confident that he can slow-walk the Senate debate until the public no longer cares about the latest schoolroom deaths, and he has history on his side in thinking so. We wouldn't be talking about this today if McConnell and Senate Republicans had not buried gun safety reforms after the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders.

They did. Here we are. And they're going to do it again. It'll be up to voters to vote them out—if Republican statehouses even allow voters that outcome. But there will be more murders, because gun "activists" and their allied lawmakers have made it very, very clear that an ongoing flood of child deaths by gunfire isn't even remotely enough for them to consider doing anything different.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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QAnon leader desperate to control key elections unmasked as longtime conspiracy peddler
Walter Einenkel

Savin_Willcott.jpg


Wayne Willott is known in the QAnon community as “Juan O. Savin.” He has achieved some notoriety in QAnon circles because he’s been able to get the ear of “celebrities” like actor Jim Caviezel. He is also one of the architects of an actual conspiracy to control our country’s election system. While Willott has a semi-guru status among QAnon conmen, he has appeared in public rarely, but just enough so that he has become one of two possible QAnon candidates for being the secretly alive John F. Kennedy Jr. Does that not make much sense to you? No worries, we’ll get to it.

Willott and the QAnon world are running QAnon-friendly candidates across the country in key swing state races, as part of a bid for control of our elections system. A former private investigator for companies trying to get out of paying insurance claims, Willott is credited with cultivating the “slate of candidates running to control elections in battleground states in 2024.” The America First Secretary of State Coalition, the brainchild of Willott and former Republican state representative Jim Marchant, began its work in the hopes of overturning the 2020 election, but has quickly moved toward gaining control of the offices that can be used to overturn future elections. But besides probably not being the resurrected body of John F. Kennedy Jr., not a ton is known about Willott.

Until now.

.........
The Daily Beast reports that Willott seems to have grown up in the Seattle area, where he also
seems to still reside. It appears that the 65-year-old Willott spent from the 1970s up until about 10 years ago working as a private investigator, as well as working on insurance claims in Alaska. “Court records show Willott videotaping potential worker’s compensation claimants to see if they were really injured, checking if they were genuinely too injured to perform yard work.”

Willott worked as an investigator calling into a talk radio show hosted by Michael Reagan, one of Ronald Reagan’s sons. In one bizarre incident covered by the conservative magazine The American Spectator in 1997, Willott began surveilling an amateur sleuth in the Clinton-dirt demimonde, who was himself tailing another Clinton adversary who was friends with Willott. James Ring Adams, a reporter who covered the saga for the Spectator, compared the misadventures of Willott and his cohort to the Mad magazine feature “Spy vs. Spy.”

Adams describes Willott as having been “a bottom-dweller back then.” Of course, that’s an opinion that implies Willott is a top-shelf fellow these days. There’s an argument to be made that the bottom-dwelling con men and women across the country have simply been elevated in recent years.

But let’s be clear: Willott is a full-blown QAnon conspiracy theorist—at least under his alias Juan O. Savin. If not, he’s just a straight confidence man who is will to pretend to espouse way out-there conspiracy theories in service of gaining power for himself. The kind of power to control hundreds of millions of people’s lives:


Savin’s beliefs are bizarre even by QAnon standards. In his book, Savin writes that Washington, D.C. is laid out for Masonic devil worship, with the Washington Monument meant to resemble the “missing penis” of an Egyptian god and the State Department’s Foggy Bottom location chosen for its “spells, rituals, and wizardry.” He claims that Dr. Anthony Fauci is making Satanic hand symbols during press conferences, and that the world is run by a cabal descended from the Biblical character Cain. Most importantly to his fans, he insists that the apocalyptic “Storm” promised by QAnon is still coming, even in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

Of course, the two things aren’t mutually exclusive. According to the report, Willott came back under various aliases during President Barack Obama’s second term, frequently appearing on Douglas Hagmann’s conspiracy talk radio show as “W the Intelligence Insider.” This helped Willott develop his own pretend, proto-Q insider credentials. Willott pretended he was independently wealthy (The Daily Beast says records show he seems to have mostly been in debt and default during that time), and that he held secret high positions behind the scenes in government, making moves that helped create world-changing events like the fall of the Soviet Union.

As “W,” Willott warned Hagmann that the Obama administration had decided to murder the radio host. He claimed Obama would soon crack down on freedom-loving Americans, an idea that was soon repeated by Glenn Beck, magnifying both Willott and Hagmann’s prominence on the right. Hagmann also interviewed Willott with a new Willott alias, “Juan O. Savin,” in which Willott laid out his globe-trotting adventures as an investigator and claimed he had uncovered proof that world elites share alien DNA strands.

The COVID-19 pandemic, bungled by the Trump administration and then undermined with a relentless barrage of misinformation by the entire right wing of the country, along with help from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (dots, baby!) and other anti-vaxxers, propelled people like Willott up the QAnon conspiracy list. It didn’t hurt that other top QAnon influencers, including Cristen Weldon (who promoted Willcott as an authority on who-knows-what), ended up dying from COVID-19.

However, as ludicrous as Willott and others might seem, they are running real candidates with real chances at winning secretary of state positions in California, Nevada, Michigan, and Arizona. In that position, they would have the power to investigate and control elections in a way they have shown would be anti-democracy, at best.

As for the whole JFK Jr. thing: The QAnon conspiracy theory is forever tied to an eschatological conservative Christian ‘end of days’ narrative. It helps with the more bloody and outrageous good and evil claims that QAnon conspiracy theorists must keep in their mind while they support obvious King Herod wannabes like Donald Trump, I guess. The long and short of it is that QAnon folks have tied the assassination of President John F Kennedy in Texas back in November 1963 with the rise of the “deep state” that continues to control the lives of all humans on the planet. These days they refer to that supposed cabal as “globalists,” though you can easily substitute “Jews” in there for them, as well.

The Clintons and George Soros and Anthony Fauci and others are all involved in some way, drinking the blood of babies and aborted fetuses (that’s not a snark comment, that’s the belief), and John F. Kennedy’s “death” was either a real thing or not a real thing (depending which coin you flip while buying into the theory). Luckily, all conspiracy theories can lead to the same twisted conclusion: The Kennedy family is the same blood line as Jesus of Nazareth and the biblical David, Moses, Abraham, and Noah. Frankly, if you don’t ask too many logical questions it all works out about as well as how evangelicals and fundamentalists have taught their flocks the stories of the Bible for about a century now.


So the line goes:

  1. God first tried to settle a covenant with humanity through Noah—flooding and washing away the rest of the world.
  2. Then God gets Abraham to move to the promised land of Canaan.
  3. Then God speaks face to face with Moses, rebuilds the covenant, gives them the laws to live by, and the power to retake the promised land of Caanan—which will become known as Israel.
  4. God then reunites Israel through a monarchy under David.
  5. Then God becomes his son, a spirit, and God simultaneously, as Jesus of Nazareth.
  6. Then God has John F. Kennedy assassinated (or pretend-assassinated) because something something God.
  7. Then John F. Kennedy’s son, anointed by God, fakes his death in a small aircraft crash on a weekend trip to his family’s vacation spot—waits a few decades, and reappears as this Willott guy.


Got it. These are the people behind a wide-ranging attempt to take over our country’s elected local offices in order to take away the majority-rule of our government.
 

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