More to ignore, Book 94.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is worried about the problem of alcohol abuse among his "inner circle" and the top leadership of the Russian Federation, which he claims has become particularly acute since February this year.

Source:
Latvia-based Russian media outlet Meduza, referring to several sources close to the administration of the President of Russia

Details: According to two sources, Putin has begun to pay special attention to the problem of alcohol abuse, because amid the war against Ukraine, Russian officials have started drinking much more often. In particular, the President of the Russian Federation is particularly concerned about the condition of some people in his "inner circle".

Quote: "People have been relieving stress like this since February. Ministers, their deputies, even some vice prime ministers, employees of the presidential administration and the Security Council, some heads of state corporations, and governors."

More details: According to one of Meduza’s sources, the main cause of the "stress" is the damage caused to Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine, including sanctions: "They sat down [in February - ed.] for a glass. Some of them got sucked into it."


However, two sources claim that Russia’s problems on the front are not affecting the attitude of officials to alcohol, because they have "their own problems and their own war" there.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Strange days in Kherson Oblast

Mark Sumner

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Smoke rising over a field on the border of Mykolaiv and Kherson Oblasts.

As the lines get drawn a bit more clearly up in Kharkiv Oblast, there are signs that a big eraser is about to redraw everything down at the far end of the line in Kherson. That includes the Ukrainian military announcing that some of their forces are now holding an unexpected town in a very difficult position.

It was Kherson where the first rumblings of a major Ukrainian counteroffensive began in August. In the space of just over a week, Ukraine used HIMARS and other long-range precision weaponry to damage or disable both of the bridges that Russia used to move forces back and forth over the broad Dnipro River. Then Ukraine used the same weapons to slice up the bridges across the Inhulets River, cutting the Russian-occupied area in half. Since then, Russia has made various efforts to sustain its forces west of the Dnipro with barges or pontoon bridges. None of them seem to have been very effective, or lasted very long.

In the last week, as Ukraine was taking back Kharkiv Oblast, there were reports that Russian forces in Kherson were so starved for ammunition that they were either A) trying to pull back to a small perimeter around Kherson city, or B) negotiating with Ukraine to withdraw from the area entirely, so long as they got to keep their weapons. Neither of those things has happened so far, and considering how much investment Russia has placed in the idea that “Kherson is Russia forever,” the idea that they would decamp from the city without even an exchange of fire seems wildly unlikely.

Still, Ukraine has pressed against the lines in Kherson. So has Russia. Things there seem to be at a slow boil at the moment, with indications that anything like a stable front line is transient at best.

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The area around Vysokopillya is still in flux.

The biggest change in the northern part of the area in weeks if not months is the liberation of Vysokopillya by Ukrainian forces, which the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense made official on Sep. 12. This area was heavily fortified, strongly defended by Russian forces, and acted as both a supply and command center for Russian movements toward the city of Kryvyi Rih, 40 kilometers to the north. Kryvyi Rih is President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown, and Vladimir Putin has all but announced it’s a very special target for Russia. Surrendering Vysokopillya was more or less surrendering any hope that Russia would ever get to Kryvyi Rih. Pushing Russian forces from Vysokopillya was a big deal.

However, to the south of Vysokopillya two other towns—Olhyne and Arkhanhel's'ke—both of which had at one time been cleared of Russian forces—seem to be in dispute again, with Russian troops reported in at least part of both towns. This shows that Russia hasn’t given up on holding positions in this area, and the level of fighting suggests that Russia is not about to put down its weapons.

Ukraine’s bridgehead across the Inhulets River persists, aided by the capture of a Russian pontoon bridge that Ukraine used to capture Blahodativka. Russia has made daily attempts to push back on this area, but instead Ukraine seems to have solidified its hold. Just how many troops Ukraine has over the river isn’t known, but it’s enough to withstand everything Russia has sent at them so far.

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The strangest event is happening at the south end of the map.

In the area to the south and west of the Inhulets River, Snihurivka remains Russia’s biggest fortress town. Rumors that Russia was about to abandon it or that Ukraine was very close to liberating the town have all, so far, proven false. More than any other point on this or any map, Snihurivka seems to be a place where Ukraine is acting like Russia: launching daily assaults on the same position. Making daily retreats after suffering casualties.

To the south, Russia has captured the town of Blahodatne and is threatening that over Kyselivka. This bulge of Russian control has been slowly growing for weeks, and Ukraine doesn’t seem to be all that concerned. Maybe that’s because just to the south of that, Ukraine is growing its own pocket of control, liberating a number of small villages north of … also Kyselivka. Ukraine appears to be currently pressing in at this point, hitting towns like Bohordytske, which is part of Russia’s primary line.

When it comes to Kyselivka, it seems there is still no one there. Russia has left, Ukraine hasn’t come in. Something similar seems to be happening at Klapaya, where Russia forces are streaming away, with no sign that Ukraine is taking their place. Maybe this is a sign that Russia is repositioning forces closer to the city, but so far that only seems to be happening at this one spot.

Okay, now we get to the weirdness. The Ukrainian command has announced that its forces have moved into Sofiivka. See Sofiivka? It’s way down there at the bottom. And way over in the red.

Russia has another of its heavily fortified (i.e., lots of trenches, lots of mines, lots of pre-built pillboxes) at Tomyna Balka. Despite a false report from CNN as the Kharkiv counteroffensive was breaking loose, Ukraine doesn’t seem to have seriously threatened Tomyna Balka.

And yet … there they are at Sofiivka. Or at least, so says the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

How did they get there? It would have to be a cross-country trip. But then, the area is flat as a pancake and there are no villages between area held by Ukraine and that position at Sofiivka. So apparently they just got in their armored carriers, or possibly tanks, and headed across the country to grab this spot.

If Ukraine actually holds Sofiivka, it puts enormous pressure on the towns of Stanislav and Shyroka Balka in that southern tip of the area. Ukraine was already pressing in from Oleksandrivka on the west, but holding this area seemed almost impossible without cover and with too easy access from both sides.

Maybe this is Ukraine’s answer to the “who has Oleksandrivka today?” problem. If Ukraine can actually take the whole coastal region around to Sofiivka, that whole southern area might be more defensible. It also puts them on the flank of all that digging in Russia has down at Tomyna Balka.

Whatever the immediate goal, the positioning of forces at Sofiivka is daring—and possibly represents a heating up of the counteroffensive in Kherson.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Friday, Sep 16, 2022 · 11:50:45 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Remember how, all the way back about … 12 hours ago? When I was talking about how Ukrainian forces had apparently pulled back behind the Oskil River, and as a result Kupyansk was split down the middile?

Forget that.



This makes it difficult to believe that the river will long remain an effective boundary to Ukraine’s eastward push.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The counteroffensive in Kherson region is progressing more slowly than in Kharkiv region, since it is an agricultural region. This was reported by the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov, in a comment to Financial Times.​

Thus, Reznikov explained that the counteroffensive in Kharkiv region was similar to a "snowball" and went much "better than expected."

Reznikov also said that the almost simultaneous counteroffensive around Kherson is advancing more slowly because it is an agricultural region "with irrigation canals" that the Russians can use as defensive trenches.

Reznikov noted that Chechens in southern Ukraine are being used to prevent frontline troops from leaving their positions........
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Friday, Sep 16, 2022 · 3:18:34 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
A few updates on the situation in Kharkiv (you’ll need to do the “open in another tab” bit to see all these locations). Multiple reports indicate that Ukraine has in fact liberated the towns of Studenok and Sosnove southwest of Lyman. Ukrainian forces have reportedly pressed forward and struck Russian troops at Rubtsi. In the same area, there are some reports that Yarova has been liberated, but this is not yet confirmed.

Further north, as seen in the tweet above, Ukraine has successfully crossed the river at Kupyansk and taken the eastern half of that city. There are also reports that Ukrainian forces have advanced some distance south along the eastern bank of the Oskil.

And at the very top of the map, there are reports of Ukrainian troops making another river crossing at Dvorichna, possibly liberating a pair of villages on the east side of the river.

So far, the Oskil River is seeming like a very porous, and temporary boundary. There are reports again that Russian forces are moving back to a new line, one that runs north-south through Svatove. But this would, if anything, be even less defensible than current positions. Take this news with a whole shaker of salt.

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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New Hampshire Republican Senate nominee Don Bolduc on Thursday said the 2020 presidential election was not stolen, reversing course after claiming during his primary that … Trump won. […]

“Don Bolduc has spent the entire campaign touting the Big Lie, and he can’t hide from that record,” [Maggie] Hassan campaign spokesperson Kevin Donohue said in a statement. “He has even said that he supports overturning the results of the 2024 election if it doesn’t go his way. A word salad on Fox will not erase his record of election denial.”.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Bucks County Republicans voted this month to oust an elected committee person two months after she was sentenced to incarceration for participating in the Capitol riot.

Dawn Bancroft, a 60-year-old former CrossFit gym owner, narrowly won her seat against an opponent in the May primary after she admitted to a federal judge in Washington that she had filmed a video during the insurrection in which she said she’d been looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi so she could “shoot her in the friggin’ brain.”

She pleaded guilty last year to one misdemeanor count of illegally demonstrating on Capitol grounds and was sentenced in July to 60 days…

Still, the vote taken by 100 members of the GOP executive committee last week was not unanimous… [and] did not bar Bancroft from running again for the post after she has served her time.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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DOJ: Ex-Army reservist, alleged Nazi sympathizer guilty of Jan. 6 obstruction should serve 6 years

Brandi Buchman

Tim Hale-Cusanelli, the former U.S. Army reservist and alleged white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer found guilty of obstructing Congress on Jan. 6 as well as a host of other crimes, should serve a little over six years in prison, prosecutors recommended Friday.

Hale-Cusanelli, a 32-year-old New Jersey resident, was found guilty of a single felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding as well as four other misdemeanor charges including disorderly conduct and entering a restricted area.

At trial before the Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, prosecutors recounted to jurors how Hale-Cusanelli led rioters on toward the Capitol and urged them with cries of “advance, advance!” to push past barriers and police officers defending the complex and lawmakers, staff and media inside.
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In the early hours of Jan. 6, Hale-Cusanelli clocked out of his overnight shift as a security guard at the Naval Weapons Station Earle in New Jersey and set out for Washington, D.C. The drive was just under four hours and he wanted to attend the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally organized by far-right extremist Ali Alexander.

Sporting a gray suit and a red “Make America Great Again” cap, once in town, he only stuck around for part of the rally, court records show. He quickly made his way to the Capitol afterward. Hale-Cusanelli—who was among some of the very first Jan. 6 defendants to go to trial—would be one of the first of former President Donald Trump’s supporters to breach the building.

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Prosecutors said he was inside less than 90 seconds after the very first rioter entered.

On Jan. 6, Hale-Cusanelli moved bike racks to let the mob pass. He shouted at officers—including calling one officer a “****” as he screamed that the “revolution will be televised”—and he was among those who flooded the Capitol Crypt, the building’s central hub and entry point for multiple pathways inside the Capitol.

Police were fending off armed rioters and a wave of chemical irritants. Brawls were active and police were scrambling to control the crowd and make arrests. Video footage from inside the Crypt shows Hale-Cusanelli preventing one Capitol Police officer from making an arrest before he marauded to the Capitol Visitor Center.

The goal for the time, prosecutors say, was met. The certification was stopped.

After he lingered near the Senate chamber, Hale-Cusanelli eventually left by way of a window. But before he returned to New Jersey, he collected a souvenir found on the ground outside the Capitol: a large Trump flag. He took it with him.

The FBI later seized the flag as evidence.

At trial, jurors heard jarring witness testimony about the former Army reservist. Appearing under a pseudonym, Hale-Cusanelli’s roommate known as “Mark Jacobs” recounted how Hale-Cusanielli was entrenched in antisemitic lore and conspiracy theory. Their conversations often turned dark.

Jacobs was approached by law enforcement a week after the insurrection and agreed to wear a wire.

On one recording captured by Jacobs, Hale-Cusanelli fawned over Jan. 6, saying he couldn’t believe how “exhilarating’ it was. He remarked, too, that it would have been possible to capture the building entirely “if we had more people.”

Another civil war, he continued, would give America a “clean slate.” When his wired-up roommate asked him whether he would participate in another Jan. 6-type event, Hale-Cusanelli offered his hearty approval. Especially if it would give him a chance to be part of “a historical event,” he said.

And when his roommate suggested that a second civil war would end with a “whole bunch of ****ing people [dying]” Hale-Cusanelli responded coolly: “Yeah. Well, you know, as Jefferson said, the price—the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

The conversation devolved into a ranting and raving about Jews controlling now-President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. If he were made “king of America,” he said, he would give Jews “24 hours to leave the country” and “purge Congress.”

Govt Sentencing Memo for Hale Cusanelli by Daily Kos on Scribd

Long before Jan. 6, prosecutors say Hale-Cusanelli was an open white supremacist with a violently nationalist worldview. He would dress up as Adolph Hitler at work, grooming his mustache to match. Work associates would later tell prosecutors that Hale-Cusanelli espoused extremist views on the job, intimidated Jewish coworkers, and at least one Navy petty officer told prosecutors that Hale-Cusanelli once said, “Hitler should have finished the job.”

Before he went to trial, defense attorneys pushed hard to keep Hale-Cusanelli’s racist and sexist worldviews shrouded, arguing that those details were irrelevant to his charges. Though his internet search history and personal cell phone were steeped in white supremacist, pro-Hitler, pro-Nazi ephemera, Judge McFadden ruled that admitting those details into evidence would unfairly prejudice Hale-Cusanelli.

Per WUSA, McFadden said at the time: “The visceral reaction to the defendant’s statements is exactly the kind of response that could induce the jury into finding him guilty.”

In the end, jurors were not fully exposed to the extent of his Hitler fetish, but some of Hale-Cusanelli’s racist comments snuck in for consideration. In particular, a text where Hale-Cusanelli discussed the “theft” of the 2020 election. It would be done through “****** rigging,” he said.

The New Jersey man took the stand at trial this May and defended his remarks as jokes, albeit “disgusting” ones.

“I really like attention and I like talking a lot,” he said.

As a person who is half Jewish and Puerto Rican, he told jurors, his remarks were “self-deprecating humor,” according to NBC News.

“Hale-Cusanelli described being fueled by ‘adrenaline, the rush, the ****ing purpose.’ He constructed an elaborate vision of total regime change in the United States, which he viewed as necessary to root out entrenched interests—by which he principally meant shrouded Jewish interests puppeteering the media, major corporations, the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, and the government as a whole. He was not sorry; he was not deterred,” prosecutors wrote in its recommendation for sentencing Friday.

Prosecutors also took strong issue with how Hale-Cusanelli defended himself at trial. Before jurors, he admitted to being a history buff. Prosecutors had even unearthed text messages in which Hale-Cusanelli explained the nuances of the 17th Amendment. He answered a query from a friend about what, exactly, a ‘faithless elector” might be.

In the wiretapped conversations secured by prosecutors, Hale-Cusanelli expounded too on the purpose and function of the House and Senate.

When he was on the stand, however, he called himself an “idiot.” He declared that he didn’t even know whether the House and Senate sit inside the Capitol building.

“Further, Hale-Cusanelli testified that he heard President Trump’s command on January 6 to march to the Capitol to cheer on Congress. He was with rioters in the Crypt chanting ‘Stop the Steal.’ Another rioter informed Hale-Cusanelli about a tweet saying that Vice President [Mike] Pence ‘didn’t have the courage’ to overturn the results of the election,” the sentencing memorandum states. “He knew what that meant. Hale-Cusanelli texted a friend on December 14, 2020, explaining that in a case of ‘competing electors… Mike Pence decides who wins.’ In spite of all of this, despite having watched all of the government’s evidence establishing the depth of his knowledge about the United States Congress and the Presidential election process, Hale-Cusanelli testified that he did not know that Congress or the election certification proceeding was inside the Capitol building on January 6.”

He also told jurors that he didn’t know whether he had interfered with a police officer trying to make an arrest.

“Hale-Cusanelli lied, and the jury saw through his lies,” prosecutors wrote.

A 78-month sentence falls right between the recommended guidelines of 70 to 87 months.

The former Army reservist asked for a new trial this June and wants to be acquitted of all charges. Those motions are still pending.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A former high-level FBI agent who was involved in the investigation into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia during the 2016 election has himself come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors for his ties with Russia and other foreign governments.

Late last year, according to internal court documents obtained by Insider, US attorneys secretly convened a grand jury that examined the conduct of Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence at the FBI field office in New York City. The Justice Department declined to comment on what the grand jury was investigating or whether it remained ongoing. But a witness subpoena obtained by Insider seems to indicate that the government, in part, was looking into McGonigal's business dealings with a top aide to Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire Russian oligarch who was at the center of allegations that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to interfere in the 2016 election.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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How Trump lost one of his biggest fights — and nobody noticed

...We forget this now, but Trump tried to make [Confederate-named military bases] into a major battle in the culture wars, an existential test of whether the nation would succumb to the dark forces of political correctness.

Yet by doing that, Trump ended up pushing the country to take a firm stand — against his position. As long as almost nobody knew or cared who Braxton Bragg, Henry L. Benning, or John Bell Hood were, their names could be honored on military bases. A few names could be removed here or there without any sense of urgency.

But after Trump forced the issue, it could no longer continue under the radar. And no conservative could offer even a moderately persuasive argument for why U.S. soldiers should train and live at bases named for enemies of the United States who fought in support of one of the worst evils in human history.

Removing those names is a long overdue correction of an outright obscenity. But Trump seemed like the last Republican determined to keep the Confederate names on the bases.


One strange thing about this saga was how it combined Trump’s relentless race-baiting with his zeal for forcing the country into utterly needless social and political conflicts......
 

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