Cup of Joe – 3/8/22

“Ukraine criticized the Kremlin’s announcement of new humanitarian corridors to transport civilians to Russia and Belarus as an ‘immoral’ stunt ahead of a third round of peace talks set to begin Monday,” Axios reports.

Playbook: “You no doubt saw the horrific images of civilians being attacked in Irpin, outside Kyiv, as they tried to evacuate Sunday.”

“People around the world awoke to this ghastly photograph… of a mother and her two children lying dead on the ground while a Ukrainian soldier tried to save a male friend traveling with them. He later died.”

“As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heads toward the two week mark, the stakes for both sides in the ground war look set to rise, with potentially catastrophic implications for Ukrainian civilians and greater challenges for the country’s so far remarkably successful defense,” Bloomberg reports.

“President Vladimir Putin said again on Sunday the war will continue until Ukraine accepts his demands and halts resistance, dimming hopes for a negotiated settlement. Putin says Ukraine must ‘demilitarize’ and he has made clear his goal is to remove the current government.”

New York Times: “President Volodymyr Zelensky warned his nation to expect a renewed bombardment of major cities today.”

Jeremy Bowen: “Russia answers resistance with firepower. Rather than send in men to fight from house to house and room to room, their military doctrine calls for a bombardment by heavy weapons and from the air to destroy their enemies.”

“The depressing conclusion I’ve drawn from other wars in which I have seen Russians in action is that it could get much worse.”

“As Russian and Ukrainian delegations sat down for a third round of talks in Belarus, the Kremlin reiterated Monday its demands that Ukraine give up Crimea and a large slice of eastern Ukraine as a condition for Russia to stop its attacks,” the Washington Post reports. A further condition would require the Ukrainian constitution to be amended to ban the country from joining any alliance blocs like NATO or the EU. These conditions have been rejected. It is worth noting that this is a change in stance from Russia. Their first peace offer was unconditional surrender. They have come down from that. I sense that Ukraine is willing to declare neutrality (the President has offered that) and may be willing to let go of Crimea but not the Donbas.

“Moscow is recruiting Syrians skilled in urban combat to fight in Ukraine as Russia’s invasion is poised to expand deeper into cities,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “It is unclear how many fighters have been identified, but some are already in Russia preparing to enter the conflict.”

“Russia shelled civilian targets and prevented people from escaping some cities under attack during the war’s 12th day, while Kyiv’s military held fast along several fronts ahead of planned cease-fire talks,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Continuing campaigns to encircle Ukrainian cities Monday, Russian forces conducted missile and rocket strikes on cities and military targets in the country’s north and south, disrupting plans to evacuate civilians via humanitarian corridors… Ukrainian forces continued to frustrate Russia with counterattacks and sabotage operations.”

New York Times: “As Ukrainians deal with the devastation of the Russian attacks in their homeland, many are also encountering a confounding and almost surreal backlash from family members in Russia, who refuse to believe that Russian soldiers could bomb innocent people, or even that a war is taking place at all.”

“These relatives have essentially bought into the official Kremlin position: that President Vladimir Putin’s army is conducting a limited ‘special military operation’ with the honorable mission of ‘de-Nazifying’ Ukraine.”

“Despite the threat of yearslong prison terms, thousands of Russians joined antiwar rallies across the country on Sunday in a striking show of the pent-up anger in Russian society about President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” the New York Times reports.

“The police reported more than 3,000 arrests across the country — the highest nationwide total officially reported in any single day of protest in recent memory.”

“Evidence is mounting that Russia is committing war crimes in its invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday, making some of the Biden administration’s sharpest comments to date on the issue,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Blinken: “We’ve seen very credible reports of delivered attacks on civilians which would constitute a war crime. We’ve seen very credible reports about the use of certain weapons.”

Wall Street Journal: “President Biden said last week that it was clear Russians were deliberately targeting civilian areas but he stopped short of calling it a war crime, saying it was too soon to tell.”

“More than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees have arrived in neighboring countries since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” Axios reports.

“In less than a week, the United States and NATO have pushed more than 17,000 antitank weapons, including Javelin missiles, over the borders of Poland and Romania, unloading them from giant military cargo planes so they can make the trip by land to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and other major cities,” the New York Times reports.

“So far, Russian forces have been so preoccupied in other parts of the country that they have not targeted the arms supply lines, but few think that can last. But those are only the most visible contributions. Hidden away on bases around Eastern Europe, forces from United States Cyber Command known as ‘cyber-mission teams’ are in place to interfere with Russia’s digital attacks and communications — but measuring their success rate is difficult.”

“Members of Congress on Sunday emphasized what has become a widely held position on Capitol Hill: that the United States should respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by banning Russian oil imports, but not by imposing a no-fly zone over the country that could draw nuclear powers into war,” the New York Times reports.

“The Biden administration is considering whether to prohibit Russian oil imports into the U.S. without the participation of allies in Europe, at least initially,” Bloomberg reports.

Playbook: “If there’s one thing we’ve learned from covering this White House, it’s that they are extremely adverse to being out of step with their base and fellow Democrats. And though the White House has resisted appeals for a ban on Russian oil, that could change.”

“Since the video conference, multiple Democratic lawmakers have vowed to push the administration on the issue as soon as they return to Washington.”

The hacker group Anonymous on Sunday has hacked Russian streaming services and live TV channels to broadcast footage of the war with Ukraine, the Jerusalem Post reports.  Anonymous also allegedly posted photos on Twitter showing that instead of broadcasting a message that “ordinary Russians are against the war” and a call for Russians to oppose the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Netflix is shutting its operations in Russia, one of the largest media companies to pull out of the market following the attack on Ukraine, Bloomberg reports.

“Ukraine will receive another batch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite systems this coming week to help maintain the country’s access to Internet and ability to communicate,” the Washington Post reports.

Associated Press: “There is no other foreign leader that Macron has tried to bring closer to his corner than Putin. Macron, a staunch European, was confident that a mixture of personal charm and the splendor of France’s past would convince Putin to keep Russia within the European security habitat.”

“Macron first hosted Putin in the sumptuous Place of Versailles in 2017. Two years later they discussed stalled Ukraine peace talks in Macron’s summer residence at the Fort de Bregancon on the French Riviera as Macron tried to build on European diplomacy that had helped ease hostilities in the past.”

Hungary allowed NATO troops to be deployed in western Hungary and weapons shipments to cross its territory to other NATO member states, Reuters reports.

“Top European leaders said Monday that they recognize the need to reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian energy but stressed that an immediate embargo would not be feasible,” Axios reports.

“Under pressure from Congress and the Ukrainian government, the Biden administration may move to ban Russian oil imports on a unilateral basis if the U.S. cannot immediately bring along its European allies.”

Former President Trump rants against Bill Barr, his former attorney general, in a three-page letter to “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who interviewed Barr about his new book, One Damn Thing After Another, out tomorrow.  Wrote Trump: “I would imagine that if the book is anything like him, it will be long, slow, and very boring.”

“There’s no mystery why he lost. In Wisconsin, he ran 50,000 votes behind the Republican ticket. The Republican Party had a good day in Wisconsin; he was the weak sister on the ballot.”  — Former Attorney General William Barr, explaining to NBC News why Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election.

Despite his recent criticisms if Donald Trump, former Attorney General William Barr told the Today Show that he would still vote for Trump if he was the Republican nominee in 2024.

This admission came after Barr was read Trump’s letter this morning calling him a “coward” and after Barr said Trump “did a lot of damage” by lying about the election.

An investigation by the New Yorker discovered that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows registered to vote in the 2020 election with an address of a mobile home in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina that he’s apparently never spent a night in.

The person who used to own the property told the New Yorker that she’d rented it out to Meadows’ wife for two months within the past two years, but she only spent a night or two there during that time. The ex-Trump official “never spent a night in there,” the former property owner said.

The guy who now owns the property said it was “really weird” of Meadows to list it as his place of residence. “That’s weird that he would do that,” the owner said.

Meadows voted absentee by mail in the 2020 election.

This new New York Times report and its graph on Texas abortion rates after the state passed its six-week ban says it all.

Donald Trump joked about the war in Ukraine telling Republican donors that the U.S. should put the “put the Chinese flag” on F-22 fighter jets and “bomb the shit” out of Russia, CBS News reports. He added: “And then we say, China did it. Then they start fighting with each other, and we sit back and watch.”

Trump also praised North Korea’s brutal leader while addressing GOP donors marveling at how Kim Jong Un’s generals and aides “cowered” when the dictator spoke to them, the Washington Post reports.  Said Trump: “Total control. His people were sitting at attention.”  He added: “I looked at my people and said I want my people to act like that.”

John Harwood: “Americans rarely pay much attention to international events. Busy lives leave little time for distant events with unfamiliar protagonists.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has become a rare exception, its butchery in plain view via saturation coverage for anyone with a video screen. But Americans may not yet have absorbed this disturbing reality: The American president who left office just 14 months ago sided with the butcher.”

“That’s right: In the struggle now uniting the free world against an autocrat’s lawless aggression, America’s most recent ex-President sided with the autocrat.”

“A dark money group with ties to Democratic Party heavyweights will spend millions this year to expose and try to disbar more than 100 lawyers who worked on Donald Trump’s post-election lawsuits,” Axios reports.  “The 65 Project plans to begin filing complaints this week and will air ads in battleground states. It hopes to deter right-wing legal talent from signing on to any future GOP efforts to overturn elections — including the midterms or 2024.”

“U.S. gasoline prices jumped 11% over the past week to the highest since 2008 as global sanctions cripple Russia’s ability to export crude oil after its invasion of Ukraine,” Reuters reports.

“Traders piled into options that oil could surge even further after rising to the highest since 2008, with some even placing low-cost bets that futures will rise above $200 before the end of March,” Bloomberg reports.

“President Biden’s advisers are discussing a possible visit to Saudi Arabia this spring to help repair relations and convince the Kingdom to pump more oil,” Axios reports.  “A hat-in-hand trip would illustrate the gravity of the global energy crisis driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

“The possibility also shows how Russia’s invasion is scrambling world’s alliances, forcing the U.S. to reorder its priorities — and potentially recalibrating its emphasis on human rights.”

“The Biden administration is seeking to ease oil sanctions on Venezuela as part of a broader U.S. strategy to temper oil prices that have skyrocketed because of Russia’s war in Ukraine,“ the Wall Street Journal reports.

“U.S. officials began rare face-to-face meetings with Venezuelan officials in Caracas over the weekend, with a view to allowing Venezuelan crude oil back on to the open international market.”

“More than a thousand large trucks, recreational vehicles and cars are gathering on the outskirts of Washington as part of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions that threatens to roll on the U.S. capital in the coming days,” Reuters reports.

However, the convoy was torn apart by Washington beltway’s normal traffic. I love it.

Christina Pushaw, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) spokesperson, is trying to whitewash the bill that would ban classroom discussions on LGBTQ+ topics as an “Anti-Grooming” bill.

Anyone who’s against the measure is “probably a groomer” or otherwise doesn’t “denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children,” Pushaw tweeted on Friday.

Pushaw suggested without evidence on Sunday that an LGBTQ+ Florida lawmaker who had slammed her tweets about the bill was a groomer himself, saying that “A hit dog hollers.”

The bill is slated to be put to a vote in the Florida Senate today, where it’s expected to pass and get sent over to DeSantis’ desk.

“Senate Republicans have issued a series of early threats against a still-forming deal to fund the federal government, signaling that they could delay the package — which may include emergency aid to Ukraine — over concerns about excessive spending and vaccine mandates,” the Washington Post reports.

Playbook: “Once again, Congress is facing down a possible shutdown showdown this week — surprise, surprise — with current government funding expiring at midnight Friday. But even though lawmakers have delayed passing new appropriations bills during the Biden presidency and instead simply extended Trump-era policies, this time, there’s new pressure to get the so-called omnibus nailed down.”

“The top motivator? Ukraine money. The White House recently asked Congress for $10 billion to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion — substantially more than the $6.4 billion it had requested a week ago. The plus-up has bipartisan support, and Democrats are hoping that Zelenskyy’s weekend plea to lawmakers will push a deal over the finish line.”

“A private, off-the-record gathering of conservative leaders and wealthy donors will convene this week in Sea Island, Georgia, with appearances by a Biden White House official and several critics of former President Donald Trump,” CBS News reports.  “Trump was not invited to the exclusive event, which will be attended by some of the Republican Party’s biggest donors.”

New York Times: “The criminal investigation into the former president crashed amid a disagreement about the merits of bringing a case. The debate pitted a new district attorney against two veteran prosecutors who had pursued a case against Mr. Trump for years.”

“A four-year-old boy from Jerusalem, who has not been vaccinated against Polio, was diagnosed with the virus, marking the first case in Israel since 1988,” Haaretz  reports.

“Russia faces a crushing economic recession on the scale of its 1998 financial crisis, top analysts have predicted, with savings wiped out and the currency devastated,” the London Telegraph reports.  “Sanctions imposed by western nations and their allies in response to the invasion of Ukraine will slash the size of the country’s economy by 11 percent in the coming months, according to forecasts by JP Morgan.”

“Russia’s biggest banks are scrambling to switch to a Chinese card system after global payment giants Visa and Mastercard suspended operations in the country as part of efforts to isolate Moscow from Western financial structures,” the London Telegraph reports.

“Russia is considered more likely to default on its debts than Iraq, Ecuador or Ethiopia after Moody’s slashed the country’s credit rating to the second-lowest rung,” the London Telegraph reports.

Times of London: “President Putin has issued a decree that holders of Russian debt must receive interest payments in roubles, an unpalatable prospect that will do little to stem the flow of western companies leaving the country.”

“Israel will continue trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine even if success seems unlikely, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday after returning from surprise talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Reuters reports.

“Ukraine has requested that Israel serve as intermediary, citing the Bennett government’s good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow. Bennett’s office said he spoke three times over the weekend with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.”

China’s foreign minister said the Taiwan issue is fundamentally different from the Ukraine situation as it is a “purely domestic affair” rather than between two countries, the South China Morning Post reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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