More to ignore, Book 80.......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: 'A picture of every growing chaos and fear among Russian troops'
Mark Sumner

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Ukrainian children set up their own checkpoint in a village near Kharkiv, Ukraine. July 23, 2022,

One year, when I was in college, it snowed. At lot. And no, that’s not because it was during the Ice Age.

In any case, this was Kentucky, where snowplows were considered exotic beasts and 30” of white stuff was enough to literally call out the National Guard, declare a statewide emergency, and put the campus on a lockdown. Also, since this was Kentucky, and college, and the dorms were segregated by gender, it took roughly twelve hours before the dorm where I lived was missing big chunks of walls and ceilings. Twenty-four before someone on my floor decided that patterning a 12 gauge shotgun on the fire door was a keen idea.

Stick with me. This is going somewhere.

In order to distract the student body before our snow break generated a body count, the campus administration quickly came up with a series of competitions, from snow sculpture to a makeshift musical, in a desperate attempt to keep us from being the idiots that we were. And somehow, in that middle of that, I found myself playing in a campus-wide, winner-take-all, no-holds-barred tournament of that most time-consuming and monotonous game: Risk.

If you’ve never played Risk … don’t bother. But for anyone who has, you’re almost certainly familiar with the final stage of the game, when the last two players on the board are trying to drive each other to extinction. What I mostly remember from that tournament, again and again, was that the final stage looked like this: Player 1 tried to push player 2 off the map, but got carried away and fell short. What looked like a massive army at the outside dwindled as it fought and spread. That left their forces spread paper thin all over the map, easy pickings for Player 2 when that player mounted their own counteroffensive. If the first player didn’t start with enough to guarantee carrying them through, they often found the tables turning. Quickly.

The idea of “the hunter becoming the hunted” has long roots. Greek mythology has a very literal version of this, when the hunter, Actaeon, is transformed into a deer by the god Artemis and is then chased and torn apart by his own hunting dogs (yeeks). Real life rarely provides such clear examples as board games and myth, but what’s going on right now in Ukraine certainly seems pretty close.

Even though Russia spent much of last week floating claims that they were going to take more and more and more of Ukraine, the truth seems to be that Putin’s offensive in the Donbas has stalled out short of objectives. While there continues to be fierce exchanges at many points along the front line, and Russia continues to launch attacks toward positions like Bakhmut and Bohorodychne, there are no confirmed reports of a significant gain by Russian forces in over two weeks. In that same period, a number of villages either returned to Ukraine or have been thrown into dispute as Ukraine has refused to give Russian forces a chance to catch their breath.

At this point, the Ukrainian ministry of defense estimates the Russians have suffered 39,000 killed in action over the course of the invasion. U.S. intelligence estimates that 85% of the Russian military is already actively engaged in Ukraine. When Russia discovered it could not quickly take all of Ukraine, it withdrew and refocused on capturing a much smaller area. Months later, it hasn’t managed to accomplish even that.

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Vysokopillya area is effectively cut off from other Russian forces.

The biggest signal of a big change in the conflict continues to be in the west. That’s where Ukraine is demonstrating to a suddenly terrified Russia just who is in control of the situation. Ukrainian forces have isolated what’s reported to be over 1,000 Russian troops in the town of Vysokopillya. Ukraine has planted neat patterns of craters on both the Antonovskyi Bridge outside Kherson and the Kakhova Bridge 50km to the north, both to limit the utility of those bridges and to make it clear to Russia that they can close those bridges whenever they want. And Ukraine has taken down a series of bridges across the Inhulets River, showing that they can isolate Russian forces inside Kherson oblast, making it extremely difficult for Russia to move to points of conflict, or to get supplies to their troops.

Russia seems to be responding by attempting to build a series of pontoon bridges to cross the wide Dnipro River near Kherson, a tactic that cannot hope to keep the area adequately supplied, even if they make it work. Pontoon bridges are easy to take out. So are vehicles queuing to get onto a pontoon bridge, something Russia might remember from a place called Bilohorivka.

There are now more reports of abandoned Russian positions, and of positions in the city of Kherson that have been handed on inexperienced troops and Russian sympathizers, as the experienced Russian forces have apparently gone out to powder their nose.



That thread also reports Russian soldiers shedding their uniforms, and Russian troops looting in the high end areas of the city. There are also reports of more explosions on the bridge and just outside the city. In essence, Vysokopillya is just a miniature version of Kherson. Or Kherson is a larger version of Vysokopillya. In both cases, they may not yet be physically surrounded, but the range and precision of Ukrainian weapons mean they are effectively surrounded.



One other thing you can pick up by playing Risk: Ukraine is a really difficult place to hold. It touches so many areas. Scandinavia. Southern Europe. Northern Europe. They can all reinforce Ukraine.

EXPLOSION AT HORLIVKA​

Showing that Ukraine’s new use of precision guided weapons that can hit well behind Russian lines, there was this explosion on Saturday in Horlivka, in Russian-occupied territory north of Donetsk. The target seems to have been a repair facility for Russian equipment, and past tense is definitely deserved.




The distance of this strike means it might have been drone-guided artillery, rather than HIMARS. Either way … what a shot.

THERMITE IN DONETSK​

At this point, there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of videos of Russia using white phosphorus munitions in this invasion, usually against urban areas. But this is just flat out strange. On Saturday evening, the sky over Russian-occupied Donetsk was weeping that all too familiar fire.



The best bet on this is that someone simply screwed up. There has also been a lot of speculation that this is a false flag operation, something that Moscow dreamed up in order to justify doing … something. Maybe issuing a general mobilization and sending people to the front with clubs.



It certainly could have come from Ukraine, especially from someone still boiling over Russia’s continued attacks on civilian areas. But if so, this is the first time Ukraine has been seen using incendiaries since the invasion began.

RUSSIAN AND FRIENDS FOLLIES​

Strike up the Liberty Bell March!

In this first one, the tank driver apparently forgets that tanks have a barrel, and that barrel can’t magically pass through trees.


This Belarus crew is out to show they are better showman than Kadyrov’s Chechens.



Proof that WWII era tanks just don’t want to go to Ukraine.



This instructional video on how to throw your own people off a tank, then repeatedly almost run over them, has been seen before, but is worth a repeat.



Missile go up, missile go down. Very close to where missile go up.



Showing Josh Hawley how it’s done.



And finally, the musical part of our program. Please stick with this one at least 30 seconds until you can see the expansive, enthusiastic audience.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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....Still, with the committee’s scheduled run now over, it’s worth reflecting on how it succeeded, not only substantively but also at what amounted, effectively, to an exercise in media production. In terms of format, any future hearings will be unlikely to deviate too much from what we’ve seen so far—indeed, the format has remained disciplined and consistent since the committee aired its first televised hearing, also in prime time, last month. As I wrote then, it’s a format that has innovated without being totally revolutionary, which I mean in a positive sense; each individual hearing has dispensed with the worst aspects of the genre—partisan mudslinging, preposterous grandstanding, a bloated running time—while retaining others, remaining recognizable as a Congressional hearing and thus retaining a basic aesthetic of institutional gravitas. (Not everyone will welcome this, but it makes sense for the committee given that its work is aimed at preserving institutions.) And the hearings arguably have been revolutionary when taken as a whole—radically reshaping the idea of what a long-running Congressional probe can look like.

I likened the first prime-time hearing to a long-form magazine article, in the sense that it synthesized things that were, for the most part, already public knowledge in a way that added fresh perspective and emotional depth. Since then, it’s been more common for media critics to compare the hearings to a prestige TV miniseries. Last night, that metaphor kicked into overdrive, with talk of a “finale” hearing and a possible “second-season pickup” (a reference to the prospect of future hearings). The structure of the final hearing, in fairness, invited such comparisons. It even featured a final-episode blooper reel of Trump struggling through a video message to supporters after January 6—though of course, what he said was scary, not funny.[...]

As I (and others) have written before, none of this is a bad thing, even though talking about deadly serious events through the prism of television techniques instinctively sounds trivial; as James Poniewozik, the Times’s great TV critic, put it after the committee’s first hearing, “storytelling is a tool for engagement, not just distraction.” Ultimately, that’s what the committee has done these past few weeks: tell a story. What matters above all, in real-life storytelling, is that the story is true—and this one demonstrably has been. As I see it, the committee has laid down a blueprint for how Congress might rethink future hearings and investigations to better engage the public on all manner of questions of public concern. It has also shown that TV can still be a useful vehicle for that type of engagement. “Many analysts have downplayed its importance with the rise of the Internet and social media,” CNN’s David Zurawik noted last night. “But these hearings have shown the enduring political and cultural power of the medium.” (Not that this is an either/or question: the committee has proven adept at viral clip-making, too.).....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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In a rare moment on Fox News, its viewers heard the truth about Jan. 6 — thanks to Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two sitting Republicans on the committee investigating the Capitol attack. Despite Bret Baier’s attempts to push the Fox/Trump narrative that the Jan. 6 committee is biased and a sham, Cheney debunked talking point after talking point.

Early in the interview, Baier tried to pin some of the blame for Jan. 6 on Democratic leadership and Capitol Police. “What will the committee’s report have to say about why the assets, like the National Guard, weren’t prepped and ready? Is there testimony already gathered on Speaker Pelosi’s decisions or the Sergeant at Arms of the House and Senate on that regard?” he asked.

“We have an entire team — we have five different teams in the investigation — one of them is totally focused on all of those issues of security at the Capitol and the response of Capitol Police, the response of the National Guard, the response of the Capitol Police board, what was going on at the Pentagon that day,” Cheney said. “It’s an entire focus of the investigation, you will see it in our report, you will likely see an upcoming hearing.”

Then she brought down the hammer: “But what we aren’t gonna do, Bret, is blame the Capitol Police, blame those in law enforcement, for Donald Trump’s armed mob that he sent to the Capitol.”

“OK, but do you have…” Baier said, trying to interrupt.

But Cheney continued, “Clearly there were intelligence failures. Clearly the security should have operated better than it did. But this was a mob that Donald Trump sent to the Capitol, and I think that’s important to keep our eye on.”

Cheney also debunked Baier’s assertion that Trump offered National Guard troops to defend the Capitol, citing public testimony by Trump’s own acting secretary of defense at the time, Chris Miller.

“We also know that on Jan. 6 while the attack was underway, Donald Trump did not place a single phone call to anyone at the Pentagon. He didn’t place a single phone call to anyone at the Justice Department to say, ‘Deploy law enforcement,'” Cheney said, adding, “The notion that somehow he issued an order is not consistent with the facts.”

Cheney then shot down Baier’s attempts to paint the committee as unfair because the other side can’t “put forth a defense, there is no cross-examination” and because the Republican members of the committee were not nominated by their own party.

The congresswoman responded by pointing out that GOP House Minority Kevin McCarthy himself said that a “bipartisan outside committee” should investigate the attack but that he later withdrew his support and influenced the Senate’s rejection of a bill that would establish an outside investigation.

“After he negotiated with the Democrats and got all of the terms he wanted, he pulled the rug out from under the Republicans who were supporting it and made sure that it was defeated in the Senate,” Cheney said. “Once the outside, bipartisan commission was defeated, the only alternative left to us was this committee.” McCarthy also withdrew all of his nominations to the committee after Pelosi rejected two of them “with good reason,” she added.

“The notion now that somehow the committee is incapable of getting to the facts of what happened because Kevin McCarthy withdrew his nominees is nonsensical,” Cheney said before pointing out that all of the witnesses so far have been Republicans.

Later in the interview, Cheney pointedly noted that other conservative media outlets run by Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch have characterized Trump as unfit for office.

“Look, it’s not just me that is saying that Donald Trump is unfit for office. It’s other entities owned by Rupert Murdoch,” Cheney said. “It’s the New York Post in their editorial on Friday. It’s the Wall Street Journal — said the same thing after our hearing on Thursday night.”

Thursday night’s hearing included testimony from two former White House staff members who resigned in the wake of the attack and focused on Trump’s damning inaction while the Capitol was under siege. The committee has recessed for the month of August but has promised more hearings when it reconvenes in September.



 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on Sunday that the GOP will lose seats in this year’s midterm elections if former President Trump announces another presidential run before November.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Hogan told moderator Johnathan Karl that Trump had already cost the GOP the White House, the Senate and the House, and could do further damage by entering the 2024 race before this year’s midterms.

“Well, we had discussions about that at the Republican Governors Association last week, and I think most people are very concerned about the damage it does to the party if he announces now,” Hogan told Karl.

“And, you know, it may help in very red states or very red districts. But in competitive places and purple battlefields, it’s going to cost us seats if he were to do that.”

Hogan said it was “50/50” whether Trump decides to run, adding: “his ego probably can’t take another loss — after all he lost to Joe Biden, which is hard to do — but he likes to be the center of attention.”

Hogan, a frequent critic of Trump, has cast himself as a leader of the anti-Trump faction of the Republican Party. He told Karl that the midterms were the latest chapter in a long fight to seize control of the party back from Trump.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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JILL BIDEN Gets Attacked While Dining By Hostile Hecklers - FOX News Hypocrites Suddenly Don't Care
News Corp

Two and a half weeks ago the biggest story on Fox News was that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had been "accosted" by protesters while he was dining at Morton's Restaurant in Washington, D.C. Never mind that Kavanaugh never saw or heard the protesters, this exercise of the Constitution's First Amendment rights was viewed by Fox News as an intolerable invasion of Kavanaugh's privacy.

Fox News characterized the entirely peaceful event as something akin to domestic terrorism. Their outrage endured for several days and was featured on every one of their primetime programs. Their White House correspondent, Peter Doocy, humiliated himself by wasting the time of the Press Secretary, and the real journalists in the briefing room, by badgering her with petty and repetition inquiries about incident.

So you might think that Fox News would be furious about protesters harassing First Lady Jill Biden as she was getting ice cream at a shop in Connecticut. You would, however, be wrong. Fox reported this episode in a story saying that...

"First lady Jill Biden was heckled by unknown bystanders on Wednesday as she walked into a Connecticut ice cream shop. 'Your husband is the worst President we ever had, you owe us gas money,' a man shouted at Biden as she walked into the Arethusa Farms ice cream shop in New Haven.

"'Thank you! Thank you for your support, thank you!' Biden responded with a smile and a wave. A second heckler then shouted at Biden, 'You suck!'"

The protesters were not only rude and offensive, they were pitifully ignorant, blaming President Biden for high gas prices that are international commodities controlled by market factors and corporations that have been enjoying record profits.

More to the point, Fox News never expressed the slightest concern that Dr. Biden was confronted while engaged in a private activity, similar to what Fox complained Kavanaugh was subjected to. However, there were some stark differences. For one, Biden was well aware of the boorish protesters. She, nevertheless, responded pleasantly and with good humor.

Another difference is that, unlike Kavanaugh, Biden is not a political decision maker, making her an inappropriate target for such abuse. Protesting a Supreme Court justice who recently made an unprecedented ruling that will lead to great harm for millions of Americans is justifiable. Screaming at the First Lady, not so much. Especially because Dr. Biden, a teacher, was in Connecticut to bring attention to the learning loss suffered by children as a result of coronavirus lockdowns.

There is a distinct irony in the fact that Fox News considered the protests of Justice Kavanaugh an invasion of his privacy, considering that the concept of “privacy” in this context was the Constitutional right that Kavanaugh and his radically conservative colleagues took away with their irrational decision reversing Roe vs Wade. And yet, Fox couldn't find the same privacy argument to defend Biden on her ice cream outing.


The truth is that both Biden's and Kavanaugh's protesters were free to engage in peaceful demonstrations. The problem is that Fox News only has a problem with it when the subject is a right-winger. It's the same prejudice that Fox exhibits in their support for the violent January 6th insurrectionists, who they portray as law-abiding tourists. Meanwhile, Fox's Tucker Carlson maligns Stephen Colbert's comedy players as the "real" insurrections when they were invited to interview members of Congress. Hypocrisy is almost too mild a term for this.