More to ignore, Book 63........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The day before a mob of President Donald J. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff called Mr. Pence’s lead Secret Service agent to his West Wing office.
The chief of staff, Marc Short, had a message for the agent, Tim Giebels: The president was going to turn publicly against the vice president, and there could be a security risk to Mr. Pence because of it.

The stark warning — the only time Mr. Short flagged a security concern during his tenure as Mr. Pence’s top aide — was uncovered recently during research by this reporter for an upcoming book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” to be published in October.

Mr. Short did not know what form such a security risk might take, according to people familiar with the events. But after days of intensifying pressure from Mr. Trump on Mr. Pence to take the extraordinary step of intervening in the certification of the Electoral College count to forestall Mr. Trump’s defeat, Mr. Short seemed to have good reason for concern. The vice president’s refusal to go along was exploding into an open and bitter breach between the two men at a time when the president was stoking the fury of his supporters who were streaming into Washington.

Mr. Short’s previously unreported warning reflected the remarkable tension in the West Wing as Mr. Trump and a band of allies, with the clock running out, searched desperately for a means of overturning the election. Mr. Trump grew agitated as his options closed, and it became clear that he was failing in his last-ditch effort to muscle his previously compliant vice president into unilaterally rejecting the voting outcomes in key states.


The warning also shows the concern at the highest levels of the government about the danger that Mr. Trump’s anticipated actions and words might lead to violence on Jan. 6......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ted Cruz spends big bucks protecting himself from guns while striving to make the rest of less safe
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has a choice few other Americans ever face. He can either help make the country safer for everyone, or he can continue to make it safer for Ted Cruz. Gee, which option do you think he’ll choose? Honestly, if he picks the former, I’ll eat my “I Ate the Worm at the Congo Bar in Cancún While Texas Families Froze 2021” bucket hat.

While in Houston last week to celebrate the latest spate of mass shootings with some of his best NRA ghoul-friends, Cruz said this of “elite” gun control advocates in government and the media: “Many of these same people make their accusations from behind great bulwarks of safety, from gated communities equipped with private security or, at the very least, from safe and expensive neighborhoods protected by high home prices and low crime rates. Such people can afford an indulgent ideology that ignores reality.”

That’s particularly ironic, since ignoring reality is one of Ted’s favorite hobbies—right behind shrinking my scrotum like an industrial vacuum sealer via an unrelenting campaign of fear, intimidation, and being really ****ing gross. The other reason it’s ironic? Ted has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars transforming his own home into a fortress.


The Daily Beast:

Since October 2020, the Cruz campaign has paid Houston-area executive protection firm Atlas Glinn nearly half a million dollars to protect himself and his family—$499,661, almost all of it in monthly lump sums averaging around $30,000, according to federal disclosures. (The Atlas Glinn website features a photo of a security detail guarding Cruz in a parade car.)
Cruz—a Harvard Law School grad who in the aftermath of last week’s elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, attacked the Democratic politicians and the media for dominating the gun control narrative—also put more than $800 of his donors’ money toward “security equipment” last year from Houston-based boutique Caroline+Morgan Interiors. It’s not immediately clear from the company’s website exactly which of its wares would fit the bill as security equipment.

Oh, right. Did you forget that Cruz went to Harvard? Some might describe that as an “elite” school. But what do I know? I went to a public state university with the rest of the AR-15 fodder.

While Cruz is the biggest GOP spender, however, he also hauls in the most cash from pro-gun rights groups, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. But the threat of violence now appears to be outweighing those rewards, at least in financial terms. Cruz has spent so much donor money ensuring his own safety that he has fully exhausted the $442,343 he’s received over the years from the gun lobby, and then some.

Now, to be fair, I understand the point Ted was trying to make. So-called “elites” don’t have to worry so much about random gun violence because they live in nice neighborhoods and can afford state-of-the-art security systems. So it might seem hypocritical of them to call for gun control when they don’t need the perceived protection that a personal firearm might afford them. But is that really a fair point? In this country, you can avoid trouble to some degree if you have money, but we’re all vulnerable to rampaging mall, church, and theater shooters, and anyone’s children could find themselves in the crosshairs anytime they head for school.

So the question remains: What can “elites” do to make society safer for everyone, and not just for Ted Cruz and the people he likes to criticize?

At least one group of elites would tell you we need to do “something”—whereas Cruz’s exclusive right-wing Ivy League clique will tell you “nothing works, so don’t even bother.”


Who’s right? The preponderance of the evidence suggests it’s the “do something” crowd.

In a 2016 study published in Epidemiologic Reviews, Columbia University researcher Julian Santaella-Tenorio, et al., reviewed 130 studies published in 10 different countries and concluded that gun violence tends to drop after countries pass comprehensive gun control laws. “The simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple firearms restrictions is associated with reductions in firearm deaths,” the study noted.

But not all gun restrictions are created equal.

Vox:

This finding doesn't highlight one specific law, like an assault weapon ban, in isolation. There were "so many different kinds of laws," Santaella-Tenorio told me, that it was hard to make good international comparisons on every specific kind of gun restriction.
Rather, countries passed big packages of gun laws, which overhauled the nation's firearm code fairly broadly, which all tended to share similar features. According to Santaella-Tenorio, they generally included:
  • Banning powerful weapons, like automatic rifles.
  • Implementing a background check system.
  • Requiring people to get permits and licenses before buying a gun.

Meanwhile, a May 31 New York Times story came to a similar conclusion, citing California’s successful “Swiss cheese model” (i.e., stacking laws on top of each other to cover up the holes in individual gun safety regulations), which has helped drive down gun violence.

California’s rate of firearm mortality is among the nation’s lowest, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2020, compared with 13.7 per 100,000 nationally and 14.2 per 100,000 in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported. And Californians are about 25% less likely to die in mass shootings, compared with residents of other states, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California analysis.

There may not be anything we can do to put an end to gun violence, but California’s example proves that it can at least be robustly confronted.

In an interview with Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center in Sacramento, Wintemute noted, “The lower the prevalence of ownership, the lower the rate of firearm violence—that’s been one of the most robust research findings for decades. Rates of gun ownership are lower here, in part because of this bundle of state measures. In the United States overall, something like 25% to 30% of individuals own guns. In California, it’s about 15% to 18%.”

Hmm, fewer guns, less gun violence. Who could have ever predicted that? Well, elites who went to Harvard probably could—but not if they’re paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to pretend otherwise.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Lindsey Graham slammed over clueless idea to hire vets to protect schools from mass shootings
Walter Einenkel

GettyImages-1239815029.jpg


Sen. Lindsey Graham took time away from stuffing his face with free food at Mar-a-Lago to parrot the NRA, GOP, and Donald Trump’s position that the best way to protect schools from gun violence is to turn them into military prisons. Trump’s stance after 17 students and teachers died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida was to propose arming 20% of schoolteachers as well as hiring veterans to be armed school guards.

On Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham went to his Twitter account to propose reintroducing the idea of veterans who already have a brutal time not getting mental health support from the GOP becoming gun-carrying school security. “We have hundreds of thousands of well-trained former military members who could bring a lot to the table in terms of school security. [Reserve Officers Training Corps] ROTC instructors with firearms training should be allowed to possess weapons to enhance school security,” Graham wrote, in a four-post thread. This coming from one of the highest-ranking officials in the political party that has consistently chipped away at, delayed, and fought against funding and expanding health care to our country’s veterans.

The thread included the NRA myth that the real problem with having so many guns and so few gun safety laws is that it turns schools into “soft targets.” While this pseudo-sociology has been proven one hundred percent false by both data and people far smarter than Lindsey Graham, it is what passes for “common sense” politics from the conservative sector of our government.

Lindsey ended this short tirade, probably needing something to wash down that yap full of caviar, to write: “Schools should be treated like courthouses, banks, capital buildings, etc when it comes to security.” It is a ton of manure to wade through in so few words, I’ll give him that.

But do not be fooled. Sen. Graham’s version of the “soft-target” myth is simply a soft-power version of Rep. Thomas Massie’s gun-fetish fantasy of turning schoolyards into open carry spaces. It is an absurd idea, proven to not only be ineffective, but to in fact breed the kind of gun violence the country desperately needs to end. The responses to Graham’s weak-sauce were predictable. Here’s a post pointing out the absurdity of this “common sense” take.



To the more sci-fi version of absurdity.



But let’s take a moment to really consider what Sen. Graham is proposing.



I need more analysis.



“Capitol buildings,” Lindsey? Really? How about disgraced Republican former State Rep. Mike Nearman of Oregon who was expelled for conspiring to allow armed protesters into the Capitol building on Dec. 21, 2020?

Are there budgetary concerns about this from the political party that hates spending money on “entitlements” like public education?



Let’s open a discussion with this ancient bit of backward wisdom Mr. Graham is offering.



Here’s a reminder to Lindsey of how active shooter training works.



And finally, the proof of what banning guns, most especially from the “good people with guns” category, affords groups of people.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Battle of Severodonetsk continues, Russian forces are 'really suffering huge losses'
Mark Sumner

Russia—and specifically forces controlled by Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov—made a video to gloat about their capture of Severodonetsk. Twice. A week apart. The only problem is that it didn’t happen, either time. Chechen propagandists were also a little premature with that video that showed how happy the people of Severodonetsk were to be “liberated from Ukrainian Nazis” by their friends the Chechens.

On Saturday, Ukraine is still fighting in Severodonetsk, in spite of the intense pressure Russia has brought against the city from three directions. What’s more, throughout the day on Friday and into Saturday, Ukraine seems to have regained control of a majority of the city.



Russia has reportedly rushed even more forces to Severodonetsk, according to a briefing from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. But Ukraine also has additional forces in the city, including elements of the “Ukraine Foreign Legion.”

The regional governor of Luhansk issued a statement saying that the situation was “very difficult,” and that fighting is intense. “The Russian army, as we understand, is throwing all its power, all its reserves in this direction. This is now their main target.”


Because of the close proximity of forces, and the way that troops from either side are often entangled from one block to the next, Russia apparently cannot make effective use of its one real weapon in this war: artillery. A NASA FIRMS map of the area reveals a zone of intense fire at a few blocks in the city center, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces on Friday. Otherwise, artillery strikes on areas of the city have been scattered and sporadic.

The MOD did not seem to confirm unofficial claims that Severodonetsk had been set up as a trap, or that Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from the city center earlier in the week to lure Russian troops into a crossfire. But for the last two days, it does seem that Ukraine has not just held on to the areas of the city it controlled, but pushed back the Russians in block-by-block fighting. Ukraine seems to have driven Russian forces out of a string of outlying villages on the city’s east side, including the village of Metelkino.


screencap.jpg

In this detail, Ukraine controls the south and east of the city, Russia holds the northwest and a strip along the north.

Russian artillery has reportedly been directed at bridges over the last day with the intention of preventing Ukraine from bringing in more reinforcements or supplies. In the detail above, the black lines are rail lines running into the city center, which is now under Ukrainian control. The single highway bridge to Lysychansk reportedly has been damaged but the moment is still passable. The rail bridges seen in this images crossing the river near Rubizhne are reportedly out as are bridges to the south.

The small geographic extent of this battle, and the large number of forces being brought to bear, means that control in Severodonetsk is subject to potential rapid change. If Russian forces get the upper hand—or Russian leadership decides that dropping artillery fire on their own men is an acceptable action—Ukraine might still withdraw to the south. But so long as Ukraine is holding or gaining ground, and Russian forces are continuing to suffer disproportionate losses … they’re going to stay.

Just looking at this location on a map makes the last few days seem incredible. Russia has every advantage. They have a large numerical edge. They control the surrounding territory. They hold multiple highways and rail lines that reach into the city. Their control lines are short. They’ve even been able to overfly the area with bombers. Every day, every hour, that this fight continues is both a puzzle and a kind of military miracle.

Oh, and one of the most ironic things about this fight so far: the big complaint on pro-Russian media on Saturday is that Ukraine “brought in foreign mercenaries.” Upping the irony significantly is that some of these complaints are coming directly from Chechen fighters. Depending on the message, the foreign volunteers are all either “Polish Army” or “UK special forces.” Whoever they actually are, their presence in Severodonetsk certainly shows that foreign volunteers are not sitting back in western Ukraine handling menial tasks. This is as much “on the frontlines, in the heat of battle” as possible.

And if you’re worried that Kadyrov has paused in putting out those videos that show a perfectly peaceful Severodonetsk where Ukrainians happily greet their Chechen “liberators” … don’t be. Reality is never an obstacle.


One last statement from the Ukrainian regional governor of Luhansk. “Russia previously managed to capture most of the city, but now our military has pushed them back. They are really suffering huge losses”.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Saturday, Jun 4, 2022 · 10:19:11 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Here’s a prime artifact of both the confined scale of this battle, and the continued available of cell and satellite phone communication with those directly engaged in the fight.

This report indicates that Russian forces are moving along the P-66 road at the edge of the industrial area of Severodonetsk. The frontline between Russian and Ukrainian forces now appears to run along Bohdana Lishchiny Street, with Ukrainian forces advancing east of that street.



‎Ukrainian forces are moving towards the P-66 road near the industrial zone. This road separates two Russian groups in the area of Severodonetsk and neighboring Vojvodivka. The front in the city, judging by the map, passes along Bogdan Lishchyna Street, and there is a advance of Ukrainian forces to the east of it.‎

Tracking those roads down on Google, you end up with something like this.

screencap.jpg
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Putin is counting on Trump and the GOP's pro-Russia lackeys to stab Ukraine in the back
Dartagnan

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman authored an interesting column this week in which he candidly acknowledged his surprise at the vehemence of Europe’s reaction to Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine. According to Friedman, far from seeing it as a contained, regional conflict, Europe has experienced a grim awakening to the prospect of yet another ruthless, power-mad dictator setting his sights on their lands and lives, in a way that evokes nothing so much as the horrors of World War II.

This invasion — with Russian soldiers indiscriminately shelling Ukrainian apartment buildings and hospitals, killing civilians, looting homes, raping women and creating the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II — is increasingly seen as a 21st-century rerun of Hitler’s onslaught against the rest of Europe, which started in September 1939 with the German attack on Poland. Add on top of that Putin’s seeming threat to use nuclear weapons, warning that any country that interfered with his unprovoked war would face “consequences you have never seen,” and it explains everything.

Friedman observes that the threat posed by Putin’s belligerence has prompted an unusually unified response by the powers that now dominate the European continent. Germany’s radical, almost overnight transformation of its military budget; the virtual stampede of Sweden and Finland towards NATO membership; Poland’s ready welcome and admittance of Ukrainian refugees; and the harsh economic sanctions imposed by EU member countries are all indicative of this new mindset: a collective realization that the implications of Putin’s actions go well beyond his claimed objectives.


But there is another subtext informing this European reaction, one which Friedman studiously sidesteps: the reality that the commitments of the United States can no longer be counted on to defend Europe, thanks in large part to the memory of Donald Trump’s administration, specifically Trump’s peculiar sycophancy towards Putin and the Russian Federation.

Catherine Belton, formerly the Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times, writing for the Washington Post, relies on Russian sources to explain how the long-term perspective of Putin’s aims reflect his perception of Western weakness and vacillation when faced with the prospect of the slow, grinding assault he envisions for Ukraine.

Putin “believes the West will become exhausted,” said one well-connected Russian billionaire, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Putin had not expected the West’s initially strong and united response, “but now he is trying to reshape the situation and he believes that in the longer term he will win,” the billionaire said. Western leaders are vulnerable to election cycles, and “he believes public opinion can flip in one day.”

Belton’s sources believe that the impact of global inflation, higher energy costs and potential food shortages will gradually erode public support in Europe for continuing punitive sanctions on Russia. She quotes close Putin ally and fellow former KGB head Nikolai Patrushev (who Putin briefly placed in charge of the country while he was undergoing surgery three weeks ago), expressing his conviction in multiple interviews since the Ukraine invasion that Europe will fall into crisis as a result of its sanctions against Russia --particularly its energy sanctions -- “in which rising inflation and falling living standards were already impacting the mood of Europeans, while a fresh migrant crisis would create new security threats.”

Of course Patrushev is an ideological bobblehead to Putin, infected with the same zealotry and delusional fanaticism in his hatred of Ukraine. But his opinions are not without basis. In the United States, despite what may be the most singular threat to the NATO alliance in seventy years, 57 Congressional Republicans voted against providing military and economic aid to Ukraine. In the Senate, Ky. Republican Rand Paul held up that aid for days, citing what he called his concerns about rising gas prices and economic fallout to the U.S. resultant from aiding the Ukrainian people. He was joined in opposing that aid by 11 Republican Senators, including Missouri Sen Josh Hawley, who claimed that the aid did not reflect the goals of what he believed should be a “nationalist” foreign policy.

Lurking in the shadows of these, Patrushev, Putin and Hawley’s, sentiments -- and still fresh in the mind of our European allies — is the specter of Donald Trump, and the unfortunate possibility that in 2024 he may once again, as Commander-in-chief, preside over the NATO alliance.

It doesn’t take a genius to project what that would mean for NATO, for Ukraine, and for the remainder of the Western world that still clings to the promise of democracy in the face of autocracy and incipient fascism. Trump — more than “arguably,” and despite the hysterical declamations of the American right — owes his first administration’s existence to Russian meddling. He very likely would not have been elected president without Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, and he made that fact abundantly clear in his obsequious pandering to the Russian leader during his four-year tenure in office. A second Trump term would be a gift to Putin like no other, and one can easily imagine a Republican Congress already prostrate in its gratitude to comply with whatever Trump directed — overtly or through intimidation — in terms of the “Ukraine question.” The people who guide Trump’s mercurial and infantile persuasions on foreign policy are not only anti-democratic, they are assiduously pro autocrat, and thus pro-Putin. Putin represents an unrealized ideal to them, in his blithe and cruel exercise of power, dominance and pseudo-religious nationalism.

This ethic of self-interest and treachery was already fully in bloom during Trump’s administration, and there is no reason to expect it not to resurface in full measure — with a vengeance — if Americans are foolish enough to give him a second opportunity. Stripped of its pretensions, NATO as it is currently constituted exists only because of U.S. leadership at its helm. Trump, who threatened to abandon NATO unless it complied with his spurious whims, will dissolve this country's commitment to that alliance with a small bit of prodding from his Russian benefactors, carefully coordinated with their complicit media allies. Putin knows this; in fact, he doubtlessly holds that certitude tenderly and close in his heart.

Europe also knows this, and that is why they are reacting to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine the way they are, by arming themselves in the prospect of an American abandonment of leadership like no other that has occurred since World War II. They are sensibly hedging their bets — and fortifying their defenses — against the face of a terrible, uncertain future: an America they can no longer trust.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump complains that he cannot provide his cronies for trial because they won't answer the phone
ca cokz

How about meteor showers or severed lines in telephone infrastructure… or both…?!

www.businessinsider.com/…
  • A lawyer for Donald Trump revealed why he could not find 12 former executive assistants.

  • Most would not return phone calls, the lawyer swore in an affidavit to the NY AG on Friday.

www.lawinsider.com/...

www.rawstory.com/…

On Friday, Business Insider revealed that former President Donald Trump is claiming in court that he is unable to produce 12 former executive assistants who worked for the Trump Organization whose testimony is being requested by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The reason, Trump's legal team claims, is that these people will not return the former president's calls.
"A defense lawyer has explained why so many of Donald Trump's former executive assistants can't be located: they won't return his phone calls," reported Laura Italiano. "New York Attorney General Letitia James demanded that Trump make his former secretaries available as she winds up her 3-year investigation of the former president's real estate and golf resort empire."
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....The resource is structured around the key prongs of the investigation itself — how the Select Committee has organized its investigative work — which mirror the key prongs of the campaign to overturn the election. The Committee’s investigative teams are color-coded in name (Gold, Blue, Purple, Red, and Green); this primer has in turn highlighted key facts and findings according to that same organizational structure.

Critically, “January 6th” has, like “Watergate,” become a useful shorthand. But as with Watergate, January 6th represents neither a single nor isolated event, but instead a much broader and more multifaceted effort to stop the transfer of power. We hope this resource is useful in distilling those components and what we critically know — and don’t yet know — about each. This resource was produced as a collaboration between Just Security and Protect Democracy.

The Primer is available in Scribd format below and also as a PDF.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Hawaii—surrounded by water, big water—has lowest gun death rate in U.S., and stricter gun control
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Whenever we experience one of those mass shootings that, for some reason, only ever seem to happen in this country, the gun fetishists trot out the fact that large American municipalities with strict gun control laws often have high rates of gun fatalities.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott—who, let’s not forget, once tried to blame the failure of his state’s power grid on a mutant race of chaotic-evil intergalactic space raccoons—is one of these disingenuous fellows. (Wait, no. That doesn’t make sense. He actually blamed it on wind turbines and solar energy. Wait, that makes even less sense. Did someone spike my coffee with bath salts, or am I just reading things Republicans say out loud in public again?)

After the recent shooting in—checks Excel spreadsheet—Uvalde, Texas, Abbott whatabouted the tragedy, noting the number of gun deaths cities like Chicago see every year: “I hate to say this, but there are more people who were shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas,” he said.
............
Well, yes, it’s true that Chicago has a gun problem—like most of the rest of the country. But in general, guns are a far bigger problem in some areas of the country—like, erm, Texas—than in others.

Following the Uvalde massacre, CNN took a look at individual states’ gun death rates, and one thing stood out: States with lots of guns tend to have lots of gun deaths.

Here’s the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 residents in the states that are most affected by gun violence, according to CNN:
  • Mississippi: 28.6
  • Louisiana: 26.3
  • Wyoming: 25.9
  • Missouri: 23.9
  • Alabama: 23.6
  • Alaska: 23.5
And here are those states’ rates of gun ownership, defined by the percentage of adults who live in a household with at least one gun:
  • Mississippi: 50%
  • Louisiana: 48%
  • Wyoming: 59%
  • Missouri: 48%
  • Alabama: 50%
  • Alaska: 59%
Meanwhile, here are the comparable numbers for the states least affected by gun violence:
  • Hawaii: 3.4 deaths per 100,000 residents (8% live in a household with a gun)
  • Massachusetts: 3.7 (10%)
  • New Jersey: 5 (8%)
  • Rhode Island: 5.1 (11%)
  • New York: 5.3 (14%)
Those are stark numbers—and particularly instructive is Hawaii’s example. After all, it’s enacted stricter anti-gun measures than most states and doesn’t have to worry nearly as much about guns streaming in from areas with lax gun laws. Because it’s an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.




According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention advocacy group, Hawaii has the second-strongest gun control laws in the union, after California (whose gun death rate is less than a third of Mississippi’s).

So it’s important to compare apples and oranges—or pineapples and oranges, as it were. Chicago is a big city, and for all intents and purposes, it’s bordered by relatively gun-friendly Wisconsin and Indiana. And as much as I’d like to put moats around all the blue states to keep guns and Kid Rock and seven-layer mayonnaise-based salads out, that’s just not realistic.

So maybe instead of a patchwork of gun laws, we could all follow Hawaii’s example and settle on the ones that really work. But before we do any of that, we’ll need to enact far stricter Republican control.

Make it so.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A Ukrainian military expert confirms much of the analysis you've read here and looks to the future
Charles Jay

On the 100th day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the independent Russian news website Meduza, now operating out of Latvia, published an interview with a top Ukrainian military expert.

Meduza correspondent Elena Vladimirova interviewed Mykhailo Samus of the Kyiv-based Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) about the progress of the war and the conditions for futurer negotiations to end the conflict.

Samus stated clearly what we know to be true: “Putin’s original plan has completely failed.”

Meduza has granted open access to all of its content about the war in Ukraine. The website states: “We believe people should be allowed to make their own judgements about what’s happening — on the basis of accurate information.”.......

 

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Ukraine update: Air strikes, intense fighting, and Ukraine is still kicking butt in Severodonetsk
Mark Sumner

GettyImages-1401005647.jpg

Exhibition of destroyed Russian equipment. Kyiv. June 4, 2022.

With the concentration of forces—and attention—on the Battle of Severodonetsk, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the war to expel Russian invaders continues from Kharkiv to Kherson. Nathan Ruser has prepared a pair of images to show the movements across the entire face of Ukraine over the last month, and what those images show is not only very little overall change, but as many Ukrainian advances as Russian advances. Anyone not fixated on particular small areas would call this attack “stalled.”




KHERSON

The biggest news in the Kherson region on Saturday may be that multiple Ukrainian aircraft have taken part in the counteroffensive along the line northwest of Kherson. Advancing without air support is much more difficult, and in this area at least, Ukraine appears to have used multirole aircraft to clear the way for advancing armor. Ukrainian aircraft have reportedly hit multiple Russian locations in villages at the center of the line.


screencap.jpg

Multiple areas of dispute in Kherson oblast

Keen-eyed observers might note that there’s a new bulge in the area of Russian control just south of Snihurivka. This doesn’t actually represent an advance on Russia’s part. It’s a mistake on mine. Going in to a closer view of this area, I noticed a pair of little villages I hadn’t previously marked, and checking on both found that Russia had controlled them at least since mid-April. Barring any reports of change, I moved the line.

Last week, the Ukrainian Air Force announced that a MiG-29 operating in the Kherson area had shot down a Russian Su-35. Despite the relative ages of the two planes—the first MiG-29s rolled out in 1983, while the Su-35 is one of Russia’s newest and most advanced fighters, first coming into service in 2014, this is more believable than it sounds at first. For one thing, most MiG-29s are a lot younger than that first-off-the-line date, and they have all been significantly upgraded. Second, the Su-35 is a multi-role fighter, designed to support forces on the ground as well as engage in air-to-air combat. The MiG-29 can do other things, but it primarily exists to kill planes.

MiG-29s are certainly not invulnerable. Ukraine has lost at least ten of them since the war began, all of them to ground-based air defenses. But they are nimble and capable. Also, Ukrainian pilots seem to have gotten at least some training in actual dogfighting. The total amount of time devoted to this training in the modern Russian Air Force is reportedly zero. Their pilots are trained to fly point A to point B, then release missile or bomb C. Return to A. Getting a MiG-29 in their grill is definitely not on their agenda.



But the big story in all this is just the continued presence and engagement of the Ukrainian Air Force. Getting these guys some more planes? Good idea.

Before we leave Kherson, take a look at this.

At some point in your life, you’re bound to have encountered one of those little “what’s different between these two images” games in the pages of a newspaper or puzzle book. Let’s try it now. Here’s a picture of the area just west of the town of Davydiv Brid in Kherson oblast. Most of the image is high resolution satellite imagery taken around the start of the year. The little inset on the left is lower resolution imagery of that section of river taken on May 21.


screencap.jpg

Detail of Davydiv Brid area. Inset dates to May 21, 2022.

Now, here’s a second image. Most of it should appear exactly the same. It’s just that the inset dates from May 31.


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Detail of Davydiv Brid area. Inset dates to May 31, 2022.

See the difference? Okay, even with this big of a bullseye directed to it, it can be tough. Here’s a closer look at that inset on the two different days.


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Sentinel satellite imagery, west of Davydiv Brid

The two pictures were taken at somewhat different times of day, resulting in slightly different shading and shadows, but the big difference — the important difference — is inside that yellow circle on the right. That’s a pontoon bridge that was erected previous to the Ukrainian advance across the Inhulets River, rendered in a couple of gloriously fuzzy 10m resolution pixels.

One of the things that seems to be different about the advance of Ukrainian armor in this area is that it looks like what all the textbooks predict when they talk about an armored advance rather than the kinds of movements we’re used to seeing in Ukraine up to this point. Thanks to relatively dry conditions when compared to the east, and a sandy, less muddy / swampy terrain, Ukrainian tanks across the Inhulets haven’t been restricted to moving along the roads. In fact, they seem to be more or less ignoring the roads, where Russian forces may already be dug in, and are moving across the flat fields. In the top images, you can pretty much see that there’s a ridge of hills off to the northwest, but all the rest of the terrain in the image is a river bottom, flat as an ironing board except for a few scattered mounds. Tank country.


For all this, not much really seemed to change hands today, through reports of fighting at multiple points continue.
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Since I’ve already given the Ukrainian Air Force some screen time, here’s a video for the Russian Air Force. Considering the quality of simulations these days, I absolutely can not guarantee this is real footage. Botashev’s death has been widely reported, and this video has been posted on multiple sites, but it could be a sort of inverse “ghost of Kyiv.”




KHARKIV​

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Ukraine continues to carve into remaining Russian area north of Kharkiv

On Thursday, Ukraine recaptured the town of Vesele and associated villages. That freed up travel along another of the main highway routes in the area and allowed Ukraine to continue pushing Russian forces back away from artillery range of Kharkiv.


The most interesting news on Saturday is reports out of the Ukrainian MOD indicating that Ukraine has taken positions at Hlyboke, a good 5km into what had been considered Russian occupied territory. It’s been clear for some time that Russia’s position at Lyptsi is actually on the west side of that town. Ukraine seems to have taken advantage of that to move up the highway, bypassing Lyptsi, hitting the next village north. This opens the possibility of Ukraine proceeding to the north, or attacking Lyptsi from a new direction.

Meanwhile, Russia has made another run at Ternova, and the area north of that town appears to be in dispute. Maybe the fifteenth time will be the charm for Russia … temporarily. Russia also lobbed artillery at several locations, including at a series of towns north of Kharkiv. Interestingly enough, there was also artillery fire north of Bohaivka on the east side of the river, which could be a good indicator that Ukrainian forces are still present and active in the area.

Finally, late on Friday someone absolutely pounded the snot out of an area east of the bridge at Starytysa to the north. This would seem to be well beyond the area of Ukraine’s concern at the moment, since all the available information suggests that Russia is largely in control of Rubizhne. However, this pattern of heavy fire east of the bridge exactly matches the pattern seen at Staryi Saltiv and then at Rubizhne as Ukrainian forces advanced along the river. This could be a good indicator that Starytsya is in dispute. For now, I’ve marked the location of the heavy fire with a fire icon on the map.

IZYUM​

This week, Russia captured Lyman, moved into Severodonetsk, and seemed on the verge of closing the “pocket” that had extended up to Oskil. But at the moment, Ukraine is continuing to press back in Severodonetsk, Studenok is still untaken, and there are still several uncaptured villages north of the river. Over on the east side of the area, Russia is still bouncing off of Komyshuvakha, north of Popasna, which Ukrainian forces recaptured last week and have held onto against multiple assaults. Russian forces reported that it had been captured on Friday, but that does not seem to be true.

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Russia makes small gains near Lyman

Ukrainian forces have reportedly withdrawn from the village of Sosnova, though there is no news that Russia has occupied the position at this point. However, Russia has engaged with Ukrainian forces at Svyatohirske, another of those wrong-side-of-the-river villages. Russian forces have reportedly taken parts of the town, while Ukrainian forces continue to fight back, including from the heights on the other side of the river.

These are Russian forces at another of those small, north of the river villages.



There is also news on Saturday that Russian forces are going to attempt another river crossing in the area of Bilohorivka. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the site of the previous disastrous attempting crossing that kos discussed in detail. Why would Russia return to the scene of this mess? There are not a lot of great candidates for crossing. Many areas on the Ukrainian side of the river are marked with steep bluffs, giving a extremely powerful firing position toward any attempted crossing. Also, many areas on the north or east side of the river are low-lying and swampy, with a lot of marshy woods, ox-bow lakes, and streams. Russia needs a spot where they can not just build a bridge, but get their vehicles to the bridge, across the bridge, and onto the opposite side without having to cross kilometers of swamp or driving into withering fire. There aren’t many such locations.

Pontoon vehicles were seen in the Rubizhne area on Saturday, reportedly headed for this new crossing attempt. Stay tuned.

At last reports, the fighting in Severodonetsk continues to be intense. Whether Ukraine is continuing to gain ground, or Russian reinforcements have reversed the flow, won’t be known for a few more hours. There are now reports that Ukrainian forces on the ground are directing precision fire for artillery located on the bluffs across the river at Lysychansk. When it comes to a trap … that may be the best that Ukraine could hope for.




But this effort certainly isn’t without cost. Of the international volunteer unit that entered the city yesterday, at least four have already been killed. That includes an Australian soldier seen in several videos on Friday.



ZAPHORIZHZHIA​

While no positions seem to have changed on the ground in this area, there has been a fairly extensive exchange of fire from the sky.

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Multiple exchanges of artillery, MLRS, bombs, and missiles

Russia fired several missiles into the area on Saturday and also conducted air strikes all the way up the river north of Zaporizhizhia. There were also peculiar reports of Russian forces firing multiple rocket-propelled grenades into the town of Hulyaipole, which seems like more of a fear tactic than anything with an actual military objective.

Meanwhile, Ukraine went on the offensive with air strikes of their own. It’s always been one of the peculiarities of the way the borders fell after the 2014 invasion that Donetsk—de facto capital of the DNR—is right on the edge of Russian-occupied territory. On Saturday Ukraine reportedly carried out an air strike on Donetsk, possibly accompanied by artillery fire from Ukrainian-held territory. These reports are coming out of Russian sources, so details are both vague and unreliable, but there does seem to have been a strike in the city of some kind.

That’s also true down at Pohony on the south edge of the map. Whether this is in advance of an general assault on the area … we should know shortly.



Meanwhile, as in Kherson, Ukraine seems to be more and more willing to fly its jets near Russian positions in eastern Ukraine.




RUSSIAN STUFF BLOWING UP THEATER​




AND AT THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM ...​



Trio Mandili is a Georgian musical group which currently consists of Tatuli Mgeladze, Tako Tsiklauri, and Mariam Kurasbediani.