President Biden announced today that the U.S. will send 31 Abrams tanks to push back against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
From the New York Times: But by promising Abrams tanks — which John F. Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, said would take “many months” to be built by General Dynamics — Mr. Biden was able to give Mr. Scholz political cover to send Leopard tanks by early spring. And Germany’s decision opened the way for Spain, Poland and Finland to do the same, with Norway likely next to announce a similar contribution.
A little side benefit from buying stamps from sellers all over the world is that the senders sometimes paste whole sheets of stamps onto the envelope, instead of using a dreaded computer-generated black-and-white ‘stamp’ .
Why would the seller use these stamps from 30, 40 years ago, though?
He had an oversupply of stock?
Wow, great news that basketball star Brittney Griner will be home soon.
The Biden Administration could not (yet) secure the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who was detained in Moscow in 2018.
There are many other Americans being wrongfully detained by foreign governments as well. A State Department official remarked recently that the number is between 40 and 50.
It was Veterans Day in the United States today, the day to honor the the veterans that had served in our nation’s armed forces.
Wars end, but their costs— in blood and treasure— go on for a very, very long time.
The estimated amount of direct Afghanistan and Iraq war costs that the United States has debt-financed as of 2020: $2 trillion.
The estimated interest costs by 2050 to pay for health care, disability, burial and other costs for roughly 4 million Afghanistan and Iraq veterans: Up to $6.5 trillion.
[Data reported in the Boston Globe in Aug. 2021 from a study by Linda Bilmes of Harvard University’s Kennedy School and from the Brown University Costs of War project].
The Wall Street Journal reports that the wheels have been set in motion in the United Kingdom for a vast effort to (eventually) replace the 29 billion coins and 4.7 billion bank notes in circulation that are carrying the likeness of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The same will be true for stamps. The current definitive series first class mail stamps for the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom all feature the queen.
The Royal Mail has been around forever— well, almost. It was founded 506 years ago in 1516.
Stamps are a more recent invention: the first ones were printed in 1840.
Buckingham Palace said the queen, who was 96, died peacefully Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands.
Her son became Britain’s new monarch, King Charles III.
– From the New York Times
Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre historic and urban, cultural park in San Diego.
The park was originally called ‘City Park’, but was renamed after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, in honor of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, held in the park that year.
The architecture of the buildings in Balboa Park are a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial Revival style.
a medieval glove, made of leather or metal plates, worn by a knight in armor to protect the hand.
throw down the gauntlet idiom
issue a challenge to an opponent
Attorney-general Merrick Garland is calling Trump’s bluff. It turns out Trump was subpoenaed in June for classified documents and that he handed over some documents. More documents— that Trump had also stolen and had held onto after the subpoena— are related to nuclear secrets and could be a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.
From the New York Times: Speaking from a podium at the Justice Department, the attorney general said he had personally approved the request for a search warrant. He denounced the “unfounded attacks on the professionalism” and integrity of the F.B.I. and prosecutors. And — most importantly — he announced that the Justice Department had filed a motion to unseal the warrant used in the search, as well as the inventory of what the F.B.I. took away, so that the government could make them public.
Update, Fri 8/12: The FBI found 11 sets of classified documents, several of them top secret (‘Sensitive Compartmented Information’) at Mar-a-Lago. Trump’s lawyer was given receipts. Will Trump pay a price for his crimes?—that is the perennial question.
On Monday morning at 10 a.m. EST, two dozen FBI agents and technicians executed a raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence (with a search warrant signed off by a federal judge for probable cause)— a first for an ex-President.
There is an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, titled ‘The FBI’s Dangerous Trump Search: Merrick Garland is taking the U.S. down a perilous path’.
Here is Prof. Yascha Mounk from Johns Hopkins University (@Yascha_Mounk on Twitter):
A few thoughts and principles about the FBI raid in Miami: 1 The rule of law applies to everyone. If Trump committed a crime, he should be punished for it. 2 Prosecutions against possible political candidates always deserve special scrutiny to ensure they are above the board. 3 The best way to beat an authoritarian populist is at the ballot box, not by disqualifying him from running. 4 If Trump is to be prosecuted, it would ideally be for a morally highly significant crime (like 1/6), not a procedural one (like mishandling classified documents). 5 One overlooked political risk is Trump getting acquitted, allowing him to claim he was exonerated. 6 We know very little about the FBI’s case against Trump so far. Anyone declaring with certainty that it is either appropriate or inappropriate is getting ahead of themselves.
The American public learned shocking new details today, of the frenzied days in the White House in the run-up to Jan. 6, and on the day itself. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson was the only live witness at today’s Jan. 6 hearing, but boy— did she have things to tell.
Trump was aware that his supporters had deadly weapons, and he still encouraged them to march on the Capitol. He tried to go, too, but the Secret Service would not let him. (In the days before the attack, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was frantically warning staff that if anyone from the White House, let alone the president, went to the Capitol on Jan. 6, they’d be charged ‘with every crime imaginable’). Trump wrestled with a Secret Security agent in ‘The Beast’ (the heavily armored vehicle), wanting to go to the Capitol after his speech at The Ellipse, and not back to the West Wing. Trump threw dishes against the wall in the White House dining room, and would pull off the tablecloth with dinnerware and food and all onto the floor —regularly. Trump really, really did not want to call off the rioters.
From inside the White House, the President can go on national TV on a moment’s notice. Trump never did.
—2.24 pm: Sent the now-infamous tweet condemning Mike Pence.
—2.38 pm: Tweeted that ‘protestors should stay peaceful’, as the violent break-in into the Capitol with the loss of life unfolded.
—4.17 pm: Tweeted the ‘we love you, go home’ recording to the rioters.
It was Day 5 of the Jan. 6 Committee’s hearings, and man! – brazen, shameless, and flagrant are all words that come to mind, when one hears the testimony of what Trump was attempting to do, in the run-up to the Jan. 6 certification of the votes for President-elect Joe Biden.
On Jan. 3, 2021, with 17 days to go in his disastrous presidency, he pushed as hard as he can to replace former Acting Attorney General Rosen with a guy called Jeff Clark (so that Clark can contend the election was stolen).
Now: the AG oversees 115,000 people, including the FBI. Clark was utterly unqualified for the position.
Former DOJ officials Rosen, Donoghue, & Engel testified before the Jan. 6 committee that they had told Trump many DOJ officials would resign if Trump were to replace Rosen with Clark.
As Teri Kanefield notes on Twitter: What finally got through to Trump wasn’t the threats of resignation (and the damage it would do to the Dept of Justice), but persuading Trump that the con wouldn’t work.
It’s all very Title 18 U.S.Code § 371 a case of conspiracy against the United States.
This year’s Juneteenth* (June 19th) is the first one as a designated federal holiday. Since June 19th fell on a Sunday this year, today was a public holiday.
*Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
From blackpast.org: Following the Union Army victory at Antietam, Maryland on September 17, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation. This document gave the states of the Confederacy until January 1, 1863 to lay down their arms and peaceably reenter the Union; if these states continued their rebellion all slaves in those seceding states were declared free.
Fearing the secession of neutral border slaveholding states such as Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation excluded those states, which left almost one fifth of the four million slaves in bondage. Their freedom would come with the 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865.
The Jan. 6 committee of Congress held its first prime-time (televised) hearing tonight, about the attack on the Capitol and the events leading up to it.
There were clips of pre-taped testimony from Bill Barr (Trump’s former Attorney General that had interfered with the first impeachment trial), and even from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
Viewers were also shown new footage of the attack from the blood-thirsty mob that had been egged on by President Trump.
The Jan 6. insurrection at the U.S. Capitol now lies 18 months behind us, and more than 800 people across the U.S. have been charged.
Of these, 189 had been sentenced, with sentences ranging from probation to five years in jail. High-profile trials involving the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are expected to start in the fall.
Several of their members are charged with seditious conspiracy (a serious but lesser counterpart to treason).
Will any of the really big fish, or the Mob Boss himself, pay a serious price? Nobody knows— and ultimately that will be up to US Attorney General Merrick Garland and his Dept. of Justice, not the Jan. 6 committee.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.” – For the Fallen, a poem by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
The extended 40-mile parade of Russian armored vehicles, tanks and towed artillery headed from the north on a path toward Kyiv has both alarmed and befuddled watchers of this expanding war. It’s not just its sheer size. It’s also because that for days, it has not appreciably been moving.
U.S. officials attribute the apparent stall in part to logistical failures on the Russian side, including as a result of food and fuel shortages, that have slowed Moscow’s advance through various parts of the country. They have also credited Ukrainian efforts to attack selected parts of the convoy with contributing to its slowdown. Still, officials warn that the Russians could regroup at any moment and continue to press forward.
-Reported by the Washington Post
Russian attacks on nuclear sites could destabilize Ukraine’s energy supply
Russian forces attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on March 3 and are now reportedly pushing toward the South Ukraine nuclear power plant. These are Ukraine’s two largest nuclear power plants, together responsible for one-third of Ukraine’s electricity generation.
Ukraine has a total of four nuclear power plants consisting of 15 reactors that generate roughly 50 percent of the country’s electricity. After nuclear power, coal is the largest source of electricity generated in the country. Many of Ukraine’s coal-fired power plants lie in the Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.
-From the New York Times, as reported by Lazaro Gamio and Eleanor Lutz