More to ignore, Book 94.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Ukraine Update: What now after Kharkiv?

kos

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Last Sunday I went out on a limb and declared the culmination of Russia’s war effort. Two days later, Ukraine launched its surprise Kharkiv offensive in northeastern Ukraine, and yesterday Sunday, Russia cried “uncle!” and announced its withdrawal of the entire Kharkiv oblast, yet another humiliating defeat in a war that has featured several.

Vladimir Putin wanted the entire Donbas in Russian hands by September 15. He’ll be lucky to have much of Luhansk Oblast by then.

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Situation on September 11, 2022

The light yellow on that map is recently liberated territory. The light pink is questionable control. All of that should clear out in the next day or two as more settlements are confirmed liberated. Given the fact that Russia abandoned its fierce defensive positions at Kozacha Lopan, on the very Russian border itself, confirms that they are truly quitting the entire oblast. That will pull the yellow even further east (to the thin red border on the map above). Then there’s that massive expanse of red in the northeast corner, northern Luhansk oblast.

The region is agricultural steppe, with grain and sunflowers comprising fields dominating the landscape.

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Starobilsk and environs in northern Luhansk Oblast

The militarily logical thing for Russia to do would be to fall back to Svatove, east of the administrative border with Kharkiv Oblast, and build defenses to protect that mass to its east. Yet Russia isn’t bothering to try. Ukraine General Staff reported last night that “In Luhansk region, the Russian military and their families left the town of Svatove. Only soldiers of the so-called 'people's militia' from among the local residents remained." With Russia abandoning them, will the Donbas cannon fodder decide to fight? Hopefully not. And with Svatove liberated, Ukraine can look east to the vast empty nothing of northern Luhansk Oblast.

The town of Starobilsk (pop. 16,600) anchors the entire region’s transportation network—all the major roads cross through town, as well as the lone rail line east of Svatove. It’s wide, it’s open, it’s flat, with few settlements standing in the way. The Aidar River borders Starobilsk to the west, but that would be nothing more than a nuisance to Ukrainian forces, who could cross it with little interference to the north or south of the town.

So if Svatove falls, so does northern Luhansk, and we’re almost back to the pre-February borders in that region. Ukraine could station a small territorial defense force garrison in Starobilsk, just for early-warning if Russia decides to cross that long border again, but the bulk of the force could head south and lay siege to Luhansk city, pressuring it from both the north and west. If Luhansk were liberated, western Luhansk would be effectively cut off. Pushing further south would threaten Donetsk city from multiple directions.

As for Russian forces, reinforcements were seen heading toward Mariupol. Russia isn’t feeling too great about its “land bridge” to Crimea, and for good reason. Ukraine doesn’t want to just cut that land bridge, but wants its Azov Sea coastline back. Not only is it of upmost economic importance, but it would also threaten more of Russia’s Black Sea fleet as well as the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland.

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By some estimates, Russia has around 40% of its total combat capabilities between Mariupol and Melitopol. Kherson city is actually strategically insignificant. Melitpol? Liberate it, and Russia loses supply lines to Kherson Oblast (a major reason Russia wanted its land bridge in the first place) and shatters Russia’s dreams of expanding to Transnistria in Moldova, through Odesa.

Quite simply, taking Melitopol would cause that entire sector to collapse, the way we saw in Kharkiv, and would provide a staging area for the liberation of Crimea.

It’s all very exciting! But I’d expect things to slow down as Ukraine finishes mopping up around Kharkiv, while giving its units time to rest, refit, repair, and resupply. And then we see if Ukraine prioritizes Luhansk city, or shoots toward Melitopol. Or heck, maybe it gets back to Kherson and aims for Nova Kakhovka, cutting Crimea’s water supply and threatening Russians in Melitopol from two sides.
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That’s 32 tanks and 52 armored infantry vehicles of various kinds the last two days alone. In total, Ukraine has captured around 40 tanks and 76 armored infantry vehicles since the counteroffensive began. A full-strength Russian BTG is 10 tanks and 40 armored infantry vehicles. We’ve got over two BTGs worth of equipment over here. The tally will only go up as more territory is liberated, more weapons depots and bases are discovered, and more of the captured loot is documented and posted online.

Add around a dozen total artillery guns, and dozens of assorted command vehicles, engineer vehicles, anti-aircraft guns, trucks, etc. There have been well in excess of 300 pieces of equipment captured.

And if you look closely, there are far more vehicles captured than destroyed. This was a Russian army that was completely routed, putting up little fight.
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The Bavarian newspaper got this information at the Ramstein gathering of nearly 50 nations supporting Ukraine’s war effort, led by the U.S. and the U.K. If the U.S. is ready to deliver M1 Abrams and M2 Bradleys to Ukraine, it’s because they think Ukraine’s logistics can finally handle the expensive requirements of those weapons systems. (The M1’s mileage is 2 gallons per mile.)

Perhaps they’re talking about German Leopard tanks, fielded by several NATO nations, but there just aren’t that many of those in operation, while the U.S. has thousands of Abrams tanks in storage.

Ukraine has two glaring holes in its war fighting capabilities left—modern armor, and aircraft. Ukraine will have M1s and F16s in its future. Only question is whether they’ll get those systems before or after the war is over.



Always so delightful seeing the Tractor Brigade in action!

Kherson wasn’t a diversion. There’s still lots of movement.



I’m writing this Sunday night. There are lots of rumors about a broader Russian pullback closer to Kherson, which I hope are confirmed and real when I wake up Monday morning.



More fight than any Russian in Kharkiv.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump asks judge to reject DOJ’s request to continue to review documents seized from Mar-a-Lago​


Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Monday urged a federal judge to reject the Justice Department’s attempt to continue to review classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago as part of its criminal investigation, saying that the materials may not be classified and that his Florida resort is secure.

Trump argues that he has broad authority as President to declassify records, and that a former President should have “absolute right of access” to presidential records – whether they are classified or not.

The filing is the latest attempt from Trump to muddy the perception of the investigation into the mishandling of national security documents after he left the presidency. The DOJ has continued to emphasize the stakes of their findings so far, calling for the need for a swift and private intelligence community review and flagging risks to national security.

Trump’s team continues to characterize the situation as a spat over presidential records.

“In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records,” Trump’s legal team writes......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Jan. 6 committee has delivered a series of bombshells. What else might be coming?

Laura Clawson

The criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s top secret documents stash at Mar-a-Lago has taken over the headlines where Trump is concerned, but the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol remains under investigation as well, with Trump as a focus. The Jan. 6 committee has been quiet since its last hearing on July 21, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been doing the work. With just 16 weeks left to finish its job, the committee is expected to hold two more public hearings and release a final report and legislative recommendations.

Last week, Rep. Jamie Raskin told a Maryland audience that the committee will hold “at least two more blockbuster hearings,” with one likely before the end of September. The committee’s hearings in June and July delivered bombshell after bombshell—but there remains a lot of ground to cover.

The committee has been in negotiations with former Vice President Mike Pence over whether he will testify. Additionally, Tony Ornato, who went from the Secret Service to serving as deputy chief of staff in Trump’s White House (and then back to the Secret Service before leaving the agency in August) has said he will cooperate with the investigation. Ornato and the Secret Service more generally became a significant focus after former Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump had lunged at a member of his protective detail in a dispute over whether he would be taken to the Capitol on Jan. 6. An anonymous Secret Service official denied that account on Ornato’s behalf and the Secret Service talked big about officials contradicting Hutchinson under oath, but that hasn’t happened. Also, the agency turned out to have deleted all of the texts from that time frame, so there are big questions to be answered about the Secret Service.

In recent weeks, the committee interviewed members of Trump’s Cabinet, focusing on whether they considered using the 25th Amendment to oust Trump. It also asked Newt Gingrich to testify, and staffers traveled to Copenhagen to see footage from a documentary filmmaker’s project on Roger Stone.

Some of this work may be highlighted at the final hearings, whenever they happen. Additionally, the committee will issue a final report and may publicly release many interview transcripts. All of that should make for fascinating reading. Another objective for the committee is to release legislative recommendations for preventing disruptions to the peaceful transition of power in the future. “People want to make sure that we fortify the democracy against coups and insurrections, political violence and other efforts to usurp the will of the people,” Raskin said recently. Will such legislation pass? Probably not, as long as Republicans have the power to stop it. But once again, it’s important for Democrats to make clear who stands where—even if (or especially if) that confronts Republicans with a tough vote.
 

McCloudersportLion

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That time in that Spike Lee joint where Samuel L calls Roger Guevener Smith a "high yella boi" and Roger had to smack his country ass back to Mississippi
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ari Fleischer gets job with Saudi LIV Golf, retires his annual 9/11 commemorative tweets

Walter Einenkel

Ari Fleischer’s claim to fame was being the press secretary under President George W. Bush. In recent months he’s been the kind of mouthpiece who calls the leaked Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade “an insurrection against the Supreme Court,” and then stays super duper quiet when it becomes much more probable that this judicial branch “insurrection” came from inside one of the right-wing Supreme Court judges’ chambers.

Sunday was the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Since Fleischer has been on Twitter, he has live-tweeted his experience that day, being one of a few White House staffers in Bush’s presence on that day. It’s a thing he has done every year since around 2011. Fleischer’s annual commemoration of 9/11 is followed by thousands with a mixture of thanks and criticism. On Saturday evening, Fleischer went to his Twitter account and wrote a thread that began: “For the last 10 years or so, I have live tweeted the events of September 11, 2001, sharing my perspective of what I saw standing at President Bush’s side for much of the day...” Fleischer explained that on the 20th anniversary, last year, he was unable to live-tweet his experience that day because he was in attendance at an event marking that fateful day down at Ground Zero in New York City. He then explained that he would also be missing live-tweeting again this year because he would be “on a plane.”

He added that he would no longer continue his annual commemoration on Twitter of the events of 9/11. “In truth, it is exhausting to relive the day. It wears me down to go through it, even though I am not the one who has suffered the most.” Fair enough. Except some people pointed out that Fleischer’s decision to stop using his social media account to try and highlight his dubious claims to fame and promote lame conservative talking points comes just three months after the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series hired Fleischer Communications to be their communications consultants promoting the new golf league.
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For those too young to remember, 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been working very hard over the years to try and make people forget the connection, as did people like George W. Bush and his warmongers. Last year, President Joe Biden declassified a 16-page FBI report of the 9/11 hijackers and their connections to Saudi nationals in the United States. It has added fuel to the fire for people who believe many people in the Saudi government were far more aware of the activities going on in the days, weeks, months, and years leading up to the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Environmental reporter Zack Budryk was one of the first people to point out the strange coincidence.



A juxtaposition to illustrate.



And finally.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Top officials from Donald Trump’s political fundraising and former campaign operation are among dozens of people in the former President’s orbit who received grand jury subpoenas in recent days – as the Justice Department intensifies its criminal investigation into January 6, 2021, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Among them are former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and Sean Dollman, who worked for Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign as chief financial officer, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. Neither Stepien nor Dollman responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

Dan Scavino, Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, also recently received a subpoena, according to a source familiar with the matter. Scavino did not respond to a request for comment.

In total, more than 30 individuals with connections to Trump have received subpoenas in recent days, according to two sources familiar with the subpoena targets. The subpoenas seek documents and in some cases testimony before a grand jury in Washington, DC.

The flurry of subpoenas and other investigative activity came in the days just before the Justice Department began its standard preelection quiet period, a 60-day period before the midterm election during which the department generally seeks to avoid taking overt investigative action in politically sensitive probes to avoid the appearance of trying to affect the election.

Some of the subpoenas, including one reviewed by CNN, were broad in scope, seeking information on a range of issues, including the fake elector scheme, Trump’s primary fundraising and political vehicle, Save America PAC, the organizing of the Trump rally on January 6, and any communications with a broad list of people who worked to overturn the 2020 election results.

The subpoenas seek communications with some of the same players previously identified in subpoenas served to fake electors in various states earlier this year, including former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Victoria Toensing and Boris Epshteyn, an adviser to Trump’s 2020 campaign, among others.

Some of the subpoenas also requested any information that recipients previously turned over to the House select committee investigating the January 6 US Capitol attack.

Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner who worked with Giuliani to find evidence of voter fraud in the weeks following the 2020 election, also received a subpoena for documents and testimony, his lawyer confirmed to CNN.

“I’ve seen plenty of subpoenas. This looks very different because there’s no direction to it,” said Kerik’s lawyer Timothy Parlatore. “Usually it’s very targeted.”

Brian Jack, the last White House political director under Trump, was subpoenaed as well, according to a source familiar. Jack did not respond to a request for comment.

The chair of Women for America First, Amy Kremer, which hosted the Trump rally outside the White House, said in a tweet over the weekend that her group, too, was sent a broad subpoena. Her attorney said the same publicly.

This story has been updated with additional details.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The fight against mass shootings just got a win ... from credit card companies

Laura Clawson

The effort to reduce mass shootings got a win over the weekend, as American Express, Mastercard, and Visa all said they would adopt a new code to categorize sales at gun shops. That in turn could help flag suspicious purchases that could be the prelude to a mass shooting—for instance, the shooter responsible for the Pulse Nightclub massacre in 2016 spent $26,000 on guns and ammunition just a week earlier.

The move by the credit card processing companies followed the announcement of the new code by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which Sen. Elizabeth Warren called “an important step towards improving coordination with law enforcement and preventing gun violence.”

Such codes are used to break out purchases at many types of business, including coffee shops, movie theaters, and salons. Gun lobbyists think it’s unfairly targeting guns to apply the same type of code to gun stores, but, as New York City Mayor Eric Adams has said, “When you buy an airline ticket or pay for your groceries, your credit card company has a special code for those retailers. It’s just common sense that we have the same policies in place for gun and ammunition stores.”

The adoption of the code by credit card processing companies is great news, and comes after advocacy by Amalgamated Bank, lawmakers like Warren, and some large public pension funds, as well as gun safety advocates. But it’s just the beginning. Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times, who reported on the role of credit cards in enabling mass shootings and helped develop the plan for the gun shop code, lays out the next steps:

  • Card networks like Mastercard and Visa need to not only adopt the code, but also enforce its use by merchants and payment processors.
  • Merchants must start using the code, and not obfuscate transactions by using other classifications.
  • Big retailers like Walmart and sporting goods stores—which themselves use different merchant codes—need to use the code at registers they use to ring up firearms.
  • Most crucially, the payments industry needs to develop and refine software algorithms for identifying suspicious activity based on the merchant codes. (Amalgamated has begun work on this.) Banks could then either allow those transactions, or block them and file suspicious activity reports with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which would ideally also create a system to quickly forward that information to local law enforcement and the F.B.I.

As that list shows, there’s still work to be done. But this is an important step, and testimony to the gains that are possible when people think creatively and don’t give up.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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  • The DOJ has agreed to one of Trump's nominees for special master in their probe of misplaced WH docs.
  • The DOJ said that a former NY District Judge appointed by Reagan was fit to play the role.
  • Trump's other choice was rejected by DOJ lawyers, who said he lacked experience.
.....Dearie, 78, was nominated by Ronald Reagan and served in the US District court from 1986 to 2011. In 2012, he was appointed by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to a 7-year term on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where he oversaw requests by federal investigators for surveillance warrants against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the United States.
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In his role as a judge in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Dearie was one of five Republican-appointed judges who signed off on FISA warrants to surveil a former Trump advisor, Carter Page, to investigate his ties to the Russian government. Two of the four approved warrants were later declared invalid after the Inspector General found a series of misstatements and omissions in the applications by the FBI to get the court warrants to eavesdrop on Page........

Justice Department open to one of Trump’s proposed candidates for special master review​

 

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