More to ignore, Book 82.......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine Update: All eyes on Kherson as Ukraine tightens the noose
kos

295750798_370766158569802_3154841695884098510_n.jpg


After a flurry of activity the last few days, things have settled down, if by “settled down” we mean “back to HIMARS systematically degrading Russia’s ability to wage its war.” Last night, the Russian-occupied cities of Ilovaisk, Nova Kakhovka, Brylivka, and Kherson all enjoyed dramatic fireworks displays at the expense of a great deal of Russian ammunition.

Illovaisk is a valuable railway hub for Russian logistics in Donetsk oblast, about 40 kilometers from the front lines.


Ilo.png


This ammo dump might’ve been feeding Russian artillery currently pounding Avdiivka, north west of Donetsk on the this map. Too bad, for Russia, they’re going to have to push out those ammo dumps even further away from the front lines.

Ilovaisk was also the location of the bloodiest day in Ukraine’s 2014 war, where treacherous Russians offered surrounded Ukrainian troops a “green corridor” to withdraw, then opened fire.

Negotiations were going on and a humanitarian corridor was being prepared for them to leave, they were told, and yet their withdrawal was repeatedly postponed.
Then, on the morning of 29 August 2014, came the command to gather and leave Ilovaisk in two columns [...]
They began to move, they passed the first ring of encirclement smoothly but within a few kilometres their column came under fire.
"It was just a shooting range and we were the targets," he said [...]
According to official Ukrainian data, 366 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the Ilovaisk battle.

The true figure may be at least 400, when you include soldiers registered missing or unidentified by their relatives.

The other three targets were all in Kherson Oblast, where Ukraine continues to shape the battlefield in preparation for a promised offensive that some say has already begun. Ukrainian presidential advisor Aleksey Arestovych clearly laid out the strategy:

There won’t be a single day, when you will be able to tell, that it had started. In a way – it already has started. It will be accurate destruction of Russian forces top-down, starting from operational, then operational-tactical, then tactical levels. Decisive forces – artillery (guided 155mm shells) , rocket artillery (HIMARS), aviation.
Ukraine will not throw solders in one large assault, they will first make sure Russia has no fuel, no ammo, no command, only then approach with infantry. Of course, there will be manoeuvres, forcing Russia to respond and deploy defence. This is not yet NATO level, when most damage can be done remotely, but close to that. Most emphasis is on remote fire, isolation of battlefields, and incremental destruction.
Ukrainian objective is for its infantry to encounter weakened Russian forces without supplies, fuel, ammo, command.

Russia shapes the battlefield by leveling everything in its path with artillery. The United States and NATO do so using aircraft to establish air superiority, then supporting infantry by surgically targeting and suppressing defenses from the air.

Ukraine doesn’t have the aircraft, and has no interest in leveling its own cities and killing civilians. So this is their version—using HIMARS and 155mm precision guided munitions to eliminate Russia’s ammo, fuel, supplies, and commanders, then denying them the ability to either resupply or retreat. Civilian partisans inside Kherson city and other defensive zones will feed target coordinates to Ukrainian artillery, allowing the erosion of those defenses from afar. Russia’s response will be their usual “spray it” style of artillery … until they run out of shells. No barge can keep hungry howitzers fed for long, and given the daily reports out of Kherson oblast, that Russian artillery is still blasting away. Here’s is last night’s report from Ukrainian General Staff. (The “South Buh” is Kherson oblast, referring to the South Bug river which flows down from Poland, around Mykolaiv, and into the Black Sea.)

In the South Buh direction, shelling from tanks, barrel and rocket artillery was recorded in the areas of the settlements of Ivanivka, Tokarevo, Kariyerne, Osokorivka, Blahodatne, Kobzartsi, Chervona Dolyna, Lepetiha, Andriivka, Velyke Artakove, Vesely Kut, Partyzanske, Shevchenko, Myrne, Shyroke , Prybuzke, Luch, Posad-Pokrovske, Lyubomyrivka, Stepova Dolyna, Tavriyske and Oleksandrivka. The enemy carried out airstrikes near Velike Artakove, Bilohirka and Potemkino.

That’s a lot of shelling. No one’s told them the bridges are out? Hopefully they burn through their entire ammo supply ASAP. Ukrainian infantry won’t be able to push forward until Russian guns run empty. When that happens, Russian defenders will have three choices—swim across a river in retreat, leaving equipment behind, surrender, or die for the dumbest stupid reason. Either option A or B will start looking really good before long.

None of this is breaking news, but Ukraine needs Kherson. It was the first real city to fall, the only regional capital in Russian hands since the start of this phase of the war. It was captured through treachery and treason. And while Russia isn’t pushing through to Odesa and Transnistria (in Moldova) anytime soon, its control and current efforts to annex the region feeds into Putin’s grand delusions.

Militarily, taking Kherson would pull this entire chunk of territory out of the war, allowing Ukraine to reposition forces in Zaporizhzhia oblast:

khers.png


It would further cut off a major supply route from Crimea, leaving Russians between Nova Kakhovka and Melitopol reliant on a single route from Crimea (which Ukraine will sever) and from a single rail line from the east which Ukraine can cut at Tokmak.

souk.jpg

Green lines are rail lines.

Taking Kherson would crush Putin’s grand delusions about Novorossiya (New Russia) stripping Ukraine of its entire Black Sea coast (and thus its main economic connection to the world). Crimea itself would be in danger of once again losing its water supply at Nova Kakhovka.

Ukraine would earn the ultimate propaganda victory, one that might break Russian support for the war. Arestovych noted that “Russian public opinions are going insane, seems like everyone got permission to write bad news.” Pro-Russian military bloggers are certainly voicing fierce criticisms of the war effort, and are themselves mocking Russian claims of “diversions” and “good will gestures” to explain away humiliating retreats.

“The first Ukrainian victory will be hard, but when it happens (and it will happen), the fall of Russia will be terrible,” Arestovych further predicted. “All Russian [morale] holds on them being able to exert pressure, when it stops, Russians would start questioning – why did we lost 50k solders, if land can be lost like that?”

Russia’s is gasping out a few last efforts in Donbas, but they are struggling to take small hamlets en route to more heavily fortified towns and cities. It won’t be long before their efforts “culminate,” that is, they run out of energy for offensive operations and dig in to defend what they’ve taken.

Russia’s best bet is to hunker down, defend their territory at all cost, and then sue for “peace,” a cease-fire that would lock their gains indefinitely into place. Then they’d hope for one of two things—Ukraine’s own counteroffensive efforts sputter, and both sides stalemate, exhausted and depleted, or Russia holds out into the winter when energy extortion might push skittish Europeans to demand a cease fire. Don’t blame the Europeans, we saw here how people lost their minds over a trip of cloth. Heck, Republicans are hoping that $5 gas is enough to win them the midterm elections. We are not a resilient people.

As for Ukraine, it has already functionally surrounded Kherson. It’s now a matter of how much punishment the Russian garrison will suffer before waving the white flag.
------------------—

The last couple of days I’ve been trying to determine the status of Pasika, a small settlement in the Izyum approach toward Sloviansk. The town is adjacent to an important pontoon river crossing—now gone—that was supplying attacks on Bohorodychne.

pas.png


There is nothing particularly strategic about either Pasika or Bohorodynche (which has a story I will get around to telling someday soon). It is interesting mostly because of rumors that the Russian garrison at the river crossing looted the two towns opposite the river and hightailed it out of there. But there have been conflicting reports, including from Ukrainian General Staff, over what’s going on, so I’m still looking for closure. Yesterday’s General Staff reports (morning and evening) didn’t mention any of those towns for the first time in a while, so that wasn’t helpful.

The OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) crowd is similarly confused. DefMon made his call:



Bohorodychne wasn’t quite fully occupied—Russians had the heights on one side, Ukraine had the heights on the other side. I really need to write the story of that town. It’s as great a story as Dovhen’ke. But regardless, seems clear that if the status of Pasika is contested, then all of Bohorodychne is likely cleansed of its Russian presence.

This isn’t as exciting a conclusion as “Russians are fleeing their posts,” or “Russians are being pulled from Izyum to support other fronts.” But it’s militarily the best possible outcome. We want Russians strung out and weak everywhere. Every Russian stuck in Izyum, on a front that hasn’t moved in 2-3 months, is a Russian that isn’t moving forward in Donbas, or reinforcing Kherson defenses (or those of Nova Kakhovka, Melitopol, etc).

But wait … what’s this?



.......
This is four updates in a row in which I used photos of female Ukrainian soldiers to illustrate the update, while taking care not to gender the caption. Ukraine claims around 40,000 women bravely serving in combat roles in the war effort, and I want the focus on their service.



I find it particularly salient given American conservative hostility toward women serving in our military. People like Ted Cruz praising the supposed manliness of the Russian army, while claiming ours is weak because of “woke culture.” Ukraine puts that bullshit to bed, not just with the women serving in its ranks, but with gay soldiers very publicly sewing unicorn patches on their uniforms to denote their pride.



To hell with any conservatives who impugn anyone’s service as somehow less effective or honorable than white straight men.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....Marc Short, Pence’s vice-presidential chief of staff, offered that, “If he were to run, he may not be the biggest celebrity. But if we’re going to go back to a principled conservative who represents the things we stand for, then there’s no one better than Mike.”

“If we’re going to go back.” Not likely. But Pence seems to think there’s a yearning for that. He’s blown the dust off yellowing copies of his Before Time speeches and sprinkled his text with the sort of Christian-y talk that got him a House seat and the Indiana governor’s chair: “Pray for our opponents,” he told a (small) audience at a South Carolina church, “that their hearts would soften and their minds would open to the unimaginable beauty that is life.”

Isn’t that nice? But there are a few flies in the ointment......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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War crime: Ukraine blames Russia for explosion at penal colony which killed 53 Ukrainian prisoners
Charles Jay

Ukrainian officials say Russian troops are responsible for an explosion Friday morning in the Olevnika penal colony in the occupied Donetsk province that killed at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners.

If Russia is proved responsible it would represent one of the worst war crimes committed by Russian forces since Feb. 24 invasion.

Among those held in the Olenivka penal colony are Ukrainian POWs, including defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol who surrendered in mid-May.


The Security Service of Ukraine said it had intercepted telephone conversations by Russian soldiers about the explosion.

"The Security Service of Ukraine intercepted telephone conversations in which the occupiers confirm that Russian troops are to blame for this tragedy. Thus, even the militants of the so-called "DPR" [self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic] do not believe the lies of Russian propaganda that the ‘shelling’ of the correctional facility institutions in Olenivka were implemented by Ukraine.
“Moreover, the SSU has several such audio recordings at its disposal – all of them will be included as evidence in the relevant criminal proceedings. The Ukrainian special service has already opened the criminal proceeding under Article 438 of the Criminal Code (violation of the laws and customs of war)."

The SSU said the intercepted conversations indicate “the Russians could have staged a tragedy due to the explosives they placed in the premises of the colony.”

“None of the eyewitnesses heard any rocket flying towards the correctional facility. There was no characteristic whistling, and the explosions occurred by themselves,” the SSU reported.

The SSU report accused Russian forces of placing Grad systems near the penal colony and firing them at Ukrainian-controlled territory, but said no counter-fire from Ukrainian batteries was observed. The report said that DNR fighters confirmed this.

The special service added that videos showed that the windows of some rooms in the penal colony were completely preserved, indicated that the epicenter of the explosion was inside the destroyed building and its walls absorbed the blast waves.

"In general, there is a lot of evidence that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not launch rocket and artillery strikes in the Olenivka area. Therefore, all statements of Russian propaganda about alleged shelling by the Armed Forces are outright lies and provocation,” the SSU report said.

The.acting head of the SBU, Vasyl Malyuk, said:

"No matter what nonsense the enemy invents to justify himself, it is obvious to everyone that the Russian Federation is guilty of the deliberate killing of Ukrainian prisoners.”

Malyuk said the Security Service will do everything possible to ensure that those guilty of the "Oleniv crime" are punished.

Among those killed were members of the Azov Regiment who were captured when the Azovstal defenders laid down their arms, said Andriy Biletskyi, the regiment’s founder. He called it a “pre-planned act” in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the rules of war carried out by a country “for which the concept of officers’ honor is unknown.”

“I, on behalf of the Azov units, announce a hunt for everyone involved in the mass murder. Every rank-and-file actor and every organizer, regardless of their position and location, will bear responsibility. Wherever you hide, you will be found and exterminated," Biletskyi said in a Telegram post.

Russia’s official TASS news agency claimed that it was the Ukrainian forces who fired on the detention center.

"I believe that it is a war crime because the Ukrainian authorities killed their own people as all the prisoners of war are Ukrainian nationals," said Deputy Militia Chief in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Eduard Basurin.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman claimed the strike was carried out by a “US-made HIMARS rocket system.”

And of course, Russia said it had opened its own criminal case into the strike.

Again, this is how Russian propaganda works — what stands out is the reference to U.S.-made HIMARS, which are high-precision weapons that have taken a devastating toll on Russian forces.

Ukraine’s General Staff said such claims by Russian propagandists “are outright lies and provocations.”

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine put out a statement on Facebook


"The Russian occupiers pursued their criminal goals in order to accuse Ukraine of committing ‘war crimes’, as well as to cover up the torture and executions of prisoners which they carried out there on the orders of the occupation administration and the command of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk Oblast.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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California secessionists don't need Russian help but got it in 2018 from a Florida Man
annieli


Federal authorities charged a Russian man Friday with a years-long malign influence campaign targeting American politics — alleging that he used American groups in Florida, Georgia and California to sow discord and push pro-Russia propaganda.

Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who lives in Moscow, worked for nearly eight years with Russian officials to fund and direct the U.S. groups, according to the indictment filed in Florida. The 24-page indictment does not name the groups but charges that Ionov also advised the campaigns of two unidentified political candidates in Florida.....

.....
Ionov is also accused of directing and controlling an unidentified political group in California that advocated for that state’s secession from the United States. In 2018, according to authorities, Ionov provided financial support for the group’s protest at the state capitol in Sacramento, and tried to persuade the leader of the group to physically enter the governor’s office.


After the protest, Ionov allegedly wrote to an FSB officer, saying the officer had asked for “turmoil,” and adding, “there you go.”

He is also accused of directing the efforts of a group based in Atlanta, paying in 2022 for members of the group to travel to San Francisco to protest at the headquarters of a social media company that had restricted posts supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ionov went so far as to provide designs for signs used at the protest, authorities said.

He is charged with conspiring to have U.S. citizens act as illegal agents of the Russian government......




 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republicans want to kill your spam filter, so every campaign email they send lands in your inbox
Mark Sumner

Marco Rubio is incompetent. Chuck Grassley is very old. Donald Trump is incredibly greedy. Put it all together and what do you get: a call to end the email spam filter so that every single campaign email that comes your way ends up at the top of your inbox. Because Republicans really think you’re not seeing enough campaign emails. Especially their emails.

As The Washington Post reports, Republicans got together at a recent luncheon and began whining that the campaign emails they were sending out just didn’t seem to get through to people. Why, they could send out five, 10, a dozen or more in a day, and they were lucky if just one showed up in someone’s inbox. And then they discovered that these emails were ending up in the spam box. Just because they were sending millions of them to people across the nation, outside their state or district, completely unsolicited. Which made Grassley very, very angry.

Grassley declared that sending emails to spam was the equivalent of the Post Office refusing to carry his campaign mail. “If you mail a letter, you expect it to be delivered,” said a reportedly “red-faced” Grassley. And because Republicans are Republicans, they immediately decided that Google was filtering out their stuff, because it’s a left-wing conspiracy.

So now Republicans are going to war with Google to remove Americans spam filters.
......
As it happens, the amount of campaign cash Republicans are raising through email is down. And they can’t understand it, because the number of emails they are sending it up, up, up. A single Trump-controlled PAC sends out a dozen a day. But somehow Republican fundraising is down 11% while Democratic fundraising is up by 21%. And Republican fundraising site WinRed continues to be trounced by Democratic site ActBlue.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Republicans that quantity of emails doesn’t guarantee success. It also doesn’t seem to have occured to them that after a season in which they’ve celebrated the triumph of removing the right to an abortion after 50 years, defended forcing a 10-year-old rape victim to carry her rapist’s child, invited people to sue teachers for daring to either recommend a classic book or accurately explain American history, and declared that the only thing that can be done about kids being shot in school is handing out more guns … maybe it’s just that no one wants to talk to them.

Never mind that. Republicans have introduced legislation in both chambers to strip away spam filters so that the full flood of their campaign emails can rain down on American’s inboxes just as God—and Chuck Grassley, who is older than God—intended.

The horrible thing is it’s already working. The barrage of complaints sent toward Google specifically actually has the biggest provider of email services talking to the Federal Election Commission about a program that would exempt campaign emails from spam filters.

If you would like to have an idea what it would be like, go to your spam filter right now and open it. Check how many campaign emails are in there. How many, many campaign emails.


And get out your hip waders. Because Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Chuck Grassley, and every other candidate for any office anywhere has a few hundred, or thousand, emails to send you.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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As gas prices drop, the GOP's hopes for a midterm wipeout may begin to fizzle
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Heading into the November midterms, Republicans appear to be counting almost entirely on continued economic tumult—particularly rampant inflation and high gas prices—to hide the refulgent stink lines pouring off the political carcass of Donald John Trump and his raging brigade of MAGA marmots.

In other words, they’re trying to turn Americans into one-issue voters, even as they invite openly racist protofascists to their events, take a sledgehammer to reproductive rights, and threaten the very foundations of our democracy. I suppose they figure if gas prices are still above $5 a gallon when voters are forced to drive their 10-year-old daughters three states over to get rid of their rapists’ babies, they’ll somehow be more angry at Biden and the Democrats than at the pro-rapist rights party.

Of course, the problem with putting most of your eggs in one basket is that they can be whipped into shit omelets in no time. And while Republicans enjoy a lot of advantages going into the midterms—history is on their side, for one thing—they’ve become such a pack of frothing weirdos they may have trouble keeping white suburban voters in the fold no matter how much avocados cost in November. And if gas prices begin trending down further, they may not get the red wave they’ve been counting on. Politico:

With just over 100 days to go until an election that could end Democratic control of both houses of Congress, it appears that gasoline prices may have peaked too soon to remain the lethal campaign weapon for Republicans that they seemed to be a month ago.
The national average price of a gallon of regular gas has shed more than 70 cents since its peak above $5 a gallon at the beginning of June, falling to $4.30 as of Wednesday. Market analysts generally expect prices to continue to fall through the end of the year, even if they’re likely to remain elevated compared with the pre-pandemic era.

Of course, when public health officials asked Americans to wear slightly uncomfortable strips of cloth over their faces to slow a pandemic that eventually killed more than a million of us, they acted like they were being asked to nail-gun medieval plague masks to their faces (which would have made your hometown parish’s Christmas midnight mass a lot more cool and fun, come to think of it). So asking those same Americans to help preserve our centuries-old American democracy even though they were forced to skip a summer trip to Disney World may be too big of an ask.

Then again, maybe they won’t need to choose between a free democracy and jaunty sojourns to the World’s Only Corn Palace after all.

One GOP operative acknowledged that the drop could make a difference.
“If the market continues to respond as it has and gets back to year-ago prices, that will definitely blunt the criticism” over inflation, said Chuck Coughlin, a Republican political strategist in Arizona, which has experienced some of the highest inflation in the country. He said a decline to last year’s fuel prices may even “be in reach by early October when early ballots drop for the general” election.

Well, that would be nice. And if the Fed somehow manages to tame inflation without triggering a recession, Team Blue could actually be in decent shape come November. Fingers crossed.

Of course, gas prices are still elevated compared to where they were last year at this time—and particularly compared to where they were during the brutal Trump recession, which stifled demand for nearly everything, from gas to airline tickets to Fleet Farm next-door-neighbor repellent. But it’s much harder for Republicans to campaign on sinking gas prices—regardless of the heights they recently hit—than it is to make hay out of climbing costs and the uncertainty that comes with them. And it gives Democrats enough breathing room to get playful with their political jabs.



It also highlights the danger in blaming one guy for prices that are actually set by global markets. If you’re going to blame President Joe Biden for inflation and high gas prices, after all, it only makes sense to give him credit when those prices begin to settle down.

In fact, during a hearing last week, Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, taunted GOP Sen. John Barrasso over his party’s messaging going into the fall. “Gas prices have gone down 40 cents in the past month,” King asked. “Does the Biden administration get to take credit for that? Or do they only get blame when they go up?”

But while gas prices have dropped precipitously—and could go even lower before the midterms—it’s too early for either party to rest easy.

“We had several rocks thrown in the pond earlier this year,” RBN Energy analyst John Auers told Politico. “The ripples have subsided, though someone could throw another rock.”

That said, it was mostly bad economic luck that drove Biden’s approval rating to Trumpian depths. Some good luck could at least stanch the bleeding in November. And given the radical nature of today’s GOP, it’s not out of the question that we could actually maintain control of Congress.


But that all depends on you. If you want to do your part in preventing a future right-wing dystopia, there are steps you can take. Volunteer to send letters to voters, or contribute to Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. And most of all—remember to vote!
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Voters shrug off Biden, prefer Democrats in Senate races
kos

........How can we have a referendum on the incumbent president if the last president won’t go away? This election is suddenly more about Donald Trump than it is about Joe Biden. Not only is Trump already running for president, but the Jan. 6 committee has put his actions squarely in the public’s eye.

How can this be a normal midterm when the party in power isn’t the Democrats in the White House or Congress, but the unelected Supreme Court? And how can we take that Supreme Court seriously when five of its nine members were appointed by presidents who lost the national popular vote? If disenfranchisement drives turnout, well then, Democrats have every right to feel disenfranchised as the Republican minority.

And how can this be a normal midterm cycle when more than half of Americans have been stripped of previous privacy and medical rights by that unelected, unaccountable, illegitimate Supreme Court? This is something Kerry Eleveld and I saw coming in our podcast, The Brief, over a year ago—if midterms are turnout elections, stripping half of Americans of a hard-earned and necessary right to bodily autonomy wasn't going to go unnoticed electorally. And yet, the mostly male, mostly white elections punditry never saw it coming. I mean, when prominent Democrats like Rep. Jim Clyburn claimed the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade was “anticlimactic,” how were “non-partisan” white men supposed to factor abortion into their electoral predictions?

So now we’re in this weird place where the incumbent president’s ratings are in the gutter. And yet…



Look, no one gives two shits about “legislative agenda,” at least in a way that drives poll numbers. It could certainly help with volunteers, money, and, down the road, fodder for political advertising. But those effects wouldn’t be seen until much later in the cycle. Regular people aren’t watching CSPAN, and those who read political information like Daily Kos have already locked in their votes. This is maybe a little bit about Trump and Jan. 6, but it’s almost entirely about Dobbs. And that dynamic has essentially rendered Biden a non-issue in this cycle........
 

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