Cup of Joe – 3/16/22

A top adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zylensky said the war is likely to be over by early May when Russia runs out of resources to attack its neighbor, Reuters reports.  Said Oleksiy Arestovich: “I think that no later than in May, early May, we should have a peace agreement, maybe much earlier, we will see, I am talking about the latest possible dates.”

“One of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies said Russia’s military operation in Ukraine had not all gone as quickly as the Kremlin had wanted, the strongest public acknowledgement yet from Moscow that things were not going to plan,” Reuters reports.  “National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov blamed the slower than expected progress on what he said were far-right Ukrainian forces hiding behind civilians, an accusation repeatedly made by officials in Russia.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to be conducting purges of military generals and intelligence personnel, including arrests of FSB (Federal Security Service) officers,” the Times of Israel reports.

“Putin had replaced at least eight generals ‘due to their failures in Ukraine.’”

“American intelligence officials have discovered that the barrage of ballistic missiles Russia has fired into Ukraine contain a surprise: decoys that trick air-defense radars and fool heat-seeking missiles,” the New York Times reports.  “The devices are each about a foot long, shaped like a dart and white with an orange tail, according to an American intelligence official. They are released by the Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles that Russia is firing from mobile launchers across the border, the official said, when the missile senses that it has been targeted by air defense systems.”

“Each is packed with electronics and produces radio signals to jam or spoof enemy radars attempting to locate the Iskander-M, and contains a heat source to attract incoming missiles.”

The U.S. said China will face consequences if it helps Russia evade sanctions in its invasion of Ukraine, the BBC reports.

CNN: “It is not yet clear whether China intends to provide Russia with that assistance.”

“The war in Ukraine is far from over, but a consensus is forming in Chinese policy circles that one country stands to emerge victorious from the turmoil: China,” the New York Times reports.

“After a confused initial response to Russia’s invasion, China has laid the building blocks of a strategy to shield itself from the worst economic and diplomatic consequences it could face, and to benefit from geopolitical shifts once the smoke clears.”

Richard Haass: “Chinese leaders should be made to understand that this is a defining moment for their country and its relationship with the US… In short, the US should make clear that the strategic costs for China of its alignment with Russia will far outweigh any benefits.”

Leaders from three European countries will travel to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal, CNN reports.  It’s not clear how Ukraine will ensure the safety of the leaders as Russian troops continue to bear down on the capital city.

“Nearly three weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration is still assessing the most effective way to get military aid into the country without triggering a wider war,” CNN reports.

“While administration officials say the effort to provide Ukrainian forces with American-made weapons such as Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles has been largely successful, the White House is under intense pressure to do more.”

The Hill: Zelensky virtual address raises pressure on Biden.

“The Russian government imposed sanctions on top U.S. officials including President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in retaliation for U.S. penalties,” Bloomberg reports.  “The measures would block entry to Russia and freeze any assets held there.”

“I want to thank the Russian Academy for this Lifetime Achievement Award.”  — Hillary Clinton, on Twitter, responding to sanctions placed on her by Russia.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing Russian airlines to keep foreign aircraft for use on domestic flights,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “Taking ownership of foreign aircraft will only have limited effect, though. Sanctions forbid maintenance, updates, support or the supply of spare parts for planes. Modern passenger jets require high levels of maintenance and flying them could pose risks to passengers.”

Washington Post: “A day after she burst onto a live news broadcast on Russian state television holding a sign denouncing the war in Ukraine, lawyers with human rights groups told The Washington Post they are unable to locate producer Marina Ovsyannikova, more than 12 hours after she was detained.”

“The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced additional sanctions targeting the president of Belarus, his wife and a number of Russian officials, the latest in a package of penalties intended to punish the Kremlin and its allies for Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” Politico reports.

Based on European case increases, former Biden adviser Andy Slavitt warned of a spring wave of Covid infections in the United States:  “An estimated 45% of the US has had omicron recently. That should be highly protective. Those fully vaccinated but who haven’t had omicron should be vulnerable to infection from BA2, but largely won’t be hospitalized or worse. Those without prior infection would be at most risk of infection. Those who haven’t been infected but also aren’t vaccinated or boosted will be at highest risk of hospitalization. So we could see lots of cases, but an even lower portion of ppl hospitalized than last wave.”

“China saw more than 5,000 new Covid-19 infections for the first time since the early days of the pandemic, as outbreaks of the highly contagious omicron variant prompt officials to lock down more cities and impose further restrictions,” Bloomberg reports.

Wall Street Journal: “Chinese local health officials say the surge in cases has been driven by the more infectious but milder Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which often infects and spreads without any obvious symptoms and can break through full vaccination. While the Omicron variant is less threatening for individual patients, it makes detecting and then tracking cases more difficult.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) “signed Republican-backed legislation to allow people in the state to carry a concealed handgun without a permit or training and no longer require them to proactively tell law enforcement during traffic stops that they’re armed,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“The Idaho House approved a Republican bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, becoming the first state to copy parts of the restrictive Texas law that has banned most abortions in the state,” the Washington Post reports.  “The Idaho Senate approved the bill earlier this month. The measure heads to Gov. Brad Little (R), who has supported similar abortion bans but has not commented on this particular bill, which includes exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies.”

“The heads of state representing NATO’s 30 member countries are discussing meeting in person in Brussels next week as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reaches the alliance’s doorstep with missiles fired just miles from the border of Poland,“ CNBC reports.  “The meeting, which would be labeled ‘extraordinary’ by the alliance since it falls outside regularly scheduled engagements, would dovetail with the White House’s tentative plans for President Joe Biden to travel to Europe.”

“It’s the Capitol’s election-year surprise: The 50-50 Senate is actually working,” Politico reports.  “After high-profile partisan failures on President Joe Biden’s signature domestic policy bill and on weakening the filibuster for voting reform, the chamber’s racked up a series of bipartisan accomplishments lately — some of which had eluded Congress for years.”

“Senators passed an anti-lynching law after literally 200 failed attempts, gave sexual misconduct claims firmer legal footing and approved sweeping postal reform. That’s on top of $14 billion for Ukraine as well as a long-awaited reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act as part of a massive spending bill, not to mention last year’s huge bipartisan infrastructure bill.”

“House and Senate officials are considering a phased reopening of the Capitol beginning March 28 after shutting down the complex because of the coronavirus pandemic,” the Washington Post reports.

“A document found by federal prosecutors in the possession of a far-right leader contained a detailed plan to surveil and storm government buildings around the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year,“ the New York Times reports. “The document, titled ‘1776 Returns,’ was cited by prosecutors last week in charging the far-right leader, Enrique Tarrio, the former head of the Proud Boys extremist group, with conspiracy.”

“The indictment of Mr. Tarrio described the document in general terms, but the people familiar with it added substantial new details about the scope and complexity of the plan it set out for directing an effort to occupy six House and Senate office buildings and the Supreme Court last Jan. 6.”

Prosecutors say a “documentary film crew” was present when Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes met for 30 minutes in an underground parking garage on Jan. 5, 2021, Politico reports.  From a Justice Department court filing: “While in the parking garage, Tarrio told another individual that he had cleared all of the messages on his phone before he was arrested. Tarrio further stated that no one would be able to get into his phone because there were ‘two steps’ to get into it.”

Former President Donald Trump told Jeanine Pirro there is “a lot of love” behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to “make his country larger.”  Said Trump: “You say, what’s the purpose of this? They had a country. You could see it was a country where there was a lot of love and we’re doing it because, you know, somebody wants to make his country larger or he wants to put it back the way it was when actually it didn’t work very well.”

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton told Bill Press that he thinks Vladimir Putin may have waited to invade Ukraine because he thought Donald Trump would win reelection and pull the U.S. out of NATO.  Said Bolton: “The Leninist phrase is ‘useful idiot,’ and they haven’t forgotten that in Moscow.”

In the face of what she described as “relentless attacks by special interests” who oppose her frank acknowledgment that climate change could pose a threat to economic stability, Sarah Bloom Raskin submitted a letter to President Joe Biden withdrawing as his nominee to become the vice-chair for supervision of the Federal Reserve Board, the New Yorker reports.

“A federal judge ordered Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio, a longtime leader of the Proud Boys far-right group, to remain jailed pending trial on charges that he conspired with followers who planned in advance to threaten Congress and battle police at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” the Washington Post reports.  “Tarrio is the second high-profile leader of a radical group to be jailed pending trial in the Jan. 6 attack though neither entered the building.”

The Wall Street Journal spoke to workers held captive by Russian soldiers inside the Chernobyl nuclear plant and reviewed texts they sent to family members.  “The picture that emerges is of a skeleton crew of nuclear technicians that has been working under duress for nearly three weeks. One has a thyroid problem and needs medicine, as do several with high blood pressure. In the one-minute calls Russian soldiers allow workers to place to family members, they have told of extreme fatigue, dizziness, nausea and terrible headaches.”

“That exhaustion is mutating into rebellion, with staff members arguing with their captors over the nature of Russia’s war and staging acts of defiance.”

“When Federal Reserve officials raise interest rates on Wednesday, they will do so amid an unfortunate economic reality: Many of the inflationary pressures they had long assumed would dissipate have instead lingered, and some are getting worse,” the New York Times reports.  “Now, as Fed officials prepare to begin a series of interest rate increases to try to bring inflation under control, they once again appear to be aiming at a moving target.”

“Two years after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic caused a round of mass layoffs not seen since the Great Depression, ten states have now set new record low unemployment rates as businesses scramble to hire new workers,” The Hill reports.

Politico has examples of Republican lawmakers taking credit for projects in the government spending bill even though they all voted against it:

  • Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY): She lists eight projects that she “secured” while noting: “While I could not support this portion of the bill, I am pleased that the bill includes several Community Funding Projects I advocated for to benefit our local communities.”
  • Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA): The Louisiana conservative lists four projects that will get funding “specifically requested and secured” by the congressman. “Despite my objections to the bill in its totality, we worked closely with the House Appropriations Committee to secure funding for several important Louisiana projects.”
  • Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-NY): He lists seven community projects while noting he opposed the overall legislation due to “partisan policies that erode the Second Amendment and grow domestic spending.”
  • Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA): He touts $14 million going to eight projects for his district in a press release. “Passage of this bill is the culmination of more than a year of working with stakeholders in our communities to identify and secure federal support for their critical needs.”

“A Senate panel is to vote Tuesday on whether to establish an independent task force to probe the U.S. response to the pandemic — the closest lawmakers have come to supporting such an investigation, two years into the crisis,” the Washington Post reports.

“The vote on that bipartisan legislation, part of the Prevent Pandemics Act before the Senate’s health committee, comes as Democrats and Republicans have pursued their own probes seeking to shape public perceptions ahead of midterm elections that could alter the balance of power in Washington.”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) “declared a victory today as he signed a bill into law that he claimed would ban the teaching of ‘critical race theory’ in the state’s public schools and community colleges,” the Mississippi Free Press reports.

Said Reeves: “Students are being force-fed an unhealthy dose of progressive fundamentalism that runs counter to the principles of America’s founding. Children are dragged to the front of the classroom and are coerced to declare themselves as oppressors, that that they should feel guilty because of the color of their skin, or that they are inherently a victim because of their race.”

“He did not point to any real-life examples of the scenario he described happening in Mississippi.”

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

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