…it’s not like it seems like a time to be taking one’s eye off the ball
A sudden flurry of Russian accusations about supposed Ukrainian plans has fueled new Western fears that President Vladimir Putin might be planning his own escalation to change the course of a war that reached eight months Monday and has not been going his way.
Putin’s embattled defense chief was busy this weekend making phone calls to Kyiv’s closest allies to voice Moscow’s latest evidence-free allegations.
Sergei Shoigu warned defense officials in France, Turkey, Britain and the United States that Ukraine was preparing a provocation and the use of what he termed a “dirty bomb.” The situation is steadily trending toward “a further, uncontrolled escalation,” he warned in one of the calls without elaborating.
It comes after Russia’s new chief commander in Ukraine warned last week that Kyiv could resort to “prohibited methods of war” as Russia faces a retreat in the southern region of Kherson after a slew of humiliating military setbacks. Gen. Sergei Surovikin specifically warned that Ukraine was preparing to attack a key dam in the region, threatening to flood the area.
“This is classic Russian ‘vranyo’ — a lie that I know you don’t believe, and I don’t believe it either. We both know that. But this is my story and I’m sticking to it,” Michael Clarke, a professor of war studies at King’s College London, told NBC News. “So it’s a clumsy double bluff,” he said, “trying to make the West frightened of pushing Moscow too hard.”
Moscow-installed officials have been evacuating civilians from the strategic and symbolic jewel of Kherson, urging residents to flee the city and parts of the broader region because Kyiv’s troops are preparing attacks that, they say, include blowing up a nearby hydroelectric dam. Zelenskyy said last week that Russian forces had in fact mined the dam, and that the result of a blast would be “catastrophic.”
“I think the dam is the same process — they are ‘thinking about it’ and want us to worry,” Clarke said. “But the dam is a bit more possible than a radiological event, insofar as Surovikin is brutal enough to do it as a tactical move to give his withdrawing troops a flood barrier to get behind.”
…of course more than one set of eyes would probably help
The Justice Department announced on Monday that it had indicted two Chinese intelligence officials who are believed to have unsuccessfully tried to obtain inside information about a federal investigation into a Chinese telecommunications company accused of stealing trade secrets, which people familiar with the situation later identified as Huawei Technologies.
The indictment was part of three unrelated legal actions against Chinese operatives in the United States that senior law enforcement officials announced on Monday, a day after President Xi Jinping of China solidified his grip on power as the Communist Party congress in Beijing closed.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., issued blunt denunciations of China during a news conference, accusing the country’s leaders of meddling in the American judicial system, stealing technology and bullying Chinese citizens who emigrate to the United States.
…not least to see who blinks
Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday temporarily shielded Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, from having to answer questions from a special grand jury in Georgia investigating efforts to overturn former President Donald J. Trump’s election loss in the state.
Justice Thomas’s brief order was an “administrative stay,” meant to give the court some breathing room to weigh the senator’s emergency application asking the Supreme Court to bar the grand jury from questioning him.
On Saturday, Justice Thomas, who oversees the appeals court whose ruling is at issue, ordered prosecutors to respond to the application by Thursday. Such a request for a response is almost always a sign that the full court will weigh in on the matter.
On Thursday, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, refused to block a trial judge’s ruling that Mr. Graham could be required to answer some but not all questions from the grand jury.
The panel, which included two judges appointed by President Donald J. Trump, drew a distinction between Mr. Graham’s activities in investigating supposed irregularities in the 2020 election and some of his other statements and conduct. Though the lower courts are divided over whether “an informal investigation by an individual legislator acting without committee authorization is ever protected legislative activity under the speech and debate clause,” the panel said, it would assume that the clause applied to such inquiries made by Mr. Graham.
But some other questions, the panel said, were fair game. “Activities that fall outside the clause’s scope include, for example, ‘cajoling’ executive officials and delivering speeches outside of Congress.”
The panel said it would not block questioning of Mr. Graham about “communications and coordination with the Trump campaign regarding its postelection efforts in Georgia, public statements regarding the 2020 election, and efforts to ‘cajole’ or ‘exhort’ Georgia election officials.”
…or what passes for consistent with the concept of justice
In a private meeting in 2005, Samuel Alito, who would become the US supreme court justice who wrote the ruling removing the federal right to abortion, assured Ted Kennedy of his respect for Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 court decision which made the procedure legal in the US.
“I am a believer in precedents,” Alito said, according to diary excerpts reported by the Massachusetts senator’s biographer, John A Farrell, on Monday. “People would find I adhere to that.”
Alito and Kennedy met regarding Alito’s nomination by George W Bush. The nominee also said: “I recognise there is a right to privacy. I think it’s settled.”
Seventeen years later, in his ruling removing the right to abortion, via the Mississippi case Dobbs v Jackson, Alito said the entitlement had wrongly been held to be protected as part of the right to privacy.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” he wrote this June.
…otherwise…where the hell would we be?
Six years after Margaret Thatcher became prime minister, I got a job as a writer at a strangely dysfunctional government department called the Central Office Of Information. Even though I lived in a squat, had the socialist historian EP Thompson’s Protest and Survive on my bookshelf and had been an organiser for a miners’ support group during the 1984 strike – when we put up some of the miners’ families during visits to London for marches, they found our earnest wholegrain lifestyle utterly ridiculous – I thought it was OK to join the COI for a number of reasons. Dylan Thomas and Somerset Maugham had worked for it during the war, for a start, and I considered myself to be a “writer”, too, even though the only thing I’d had published was a 20,000-word guidebook to Edinburgh under the imposed pseudonym of Elspeth Mackintosh (my own surname too clearly Cornish for a book on Scotland).
But the main reason I joined was that I discovered during the application process that the department’s role was to issue information that was not beholden to any political party. The COI was not Margaret Thatcher’s loudhailer, my new bosses told me; she had to use the Conservative party’s own funds for that. Our job was to describe clearly and objectively to the British people what it was that the government was doing. I liked that. I’d read George Orwell’s 1946 essay Politics and the English Language and I was filled with notions around the democratisation of language. Having spent the past three years writing blurbs for a small publisher (the books were westerns: “Peace wouldn’t reign in Vulture valley until six gunshots rang in the air!”), I was intrigued by the idea of cold truth set out in type. I thought I could learn my trade, and I was right about that at least. Also, I thought, Thatcher would soon be replaced by a Labour government and everything would be rosy.
[…that one’s arguably a tad indulgent…but it covers a lot of ground & might go a fair way to putting some of the current sound & fury in some sort of context…in some ways, anyway…if you can spare the time]
…anyway…while they hang on in there as the government of the day the tories are one big, happy family
Christopher Chope, the MP for Christchurch and a supporter of Johnson, warned on Monday that Sunak was seen as having undermined Johnson and Truss, and thus could not expect loyalty from Conservative MPs. To have a mandate, Chope said, Sunak needed to call a general election.
“We have got a parliamentary party which is completely riven, and it’s ungovernable,” Chope told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “In a sense, that is the reason why Boris has pulled out, because obviously Rishi Sunak wasn’t prepared to guarantee him his support in the event that he was elected as leader by the party and the country.
“Unless we can have somebody as our leader in parliament who commands the support and respect of the parliamentary party, we are in effect actually ungovernable.
“Unlike Boris, who did have a mandate, we now have the prospect of having a Conservative party leader who doesn’t have the mandate from the country and won’t even have a mandate from the membership either.”
Asked if he would back Sunak if [he] won, Chope replied: “I supported Boris Johnson and I supported Liz Truss, and I saw before my very eyes their authority being undermined by the people who now wish to take over and inherit the crown.
“Respect is a mutual thing. If the people who are now seeking the crown want to have the respect which comes from having a mandate, then what I am saying is that the best way they can get that respect is by winning a mandate with the people, and that’s why I think a general election is essentially the only answer.
“Otherwise we’re just going to go from bad to worse. We’re going to have continuing rebellions as we try to change policies.”
The Deltapoll survey of 4,000 voters found Mordaunt was more appealing to voters in seats the Tories had gained in 2019 than Sunak or Johnson. It also found she was seen as more trustworthy, “highlighting that she is the only candidate who can unite the country and restore trust in government”, her campaign said.
…so…I couldn’t tell you what the odds are on all this succeeding in staving off that pesky general election as long as they’d like…but there’s no shortage of takes out there…& on balance it seems like they fancy their chances of keeping the wheels on
…gotta love those scots, though
…&…while in some places in the UK it might be considered impolite to bring up money
More than $1.6 billion has been spent or booked on TV ads in a dozen Senate races, with $3 out of every $4 being spent in six states — Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada and Ohio, according to an NPR analysis of data provided by the ad-tracking firm AdImpact.
Outside groups have poured in nearly $1 billion to buoy GOP Senate candidates. Just how important have these groups been to Republicans? Eighty-six percent of the money going toward pro-GOP TV ads is coming from these outside groups, compared to 55% for Democrats. (Below, see how much Republican and Democrats’ campaigns and outside groups are spending on TV ads in key states.)
The biggest outside spender is the Senate Leadership Fund, the group aligned with Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It has spent $219 million in eight states, with $110 million going to just three races — Georgia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Each of those states feature Trump-backed Republican candidates, who have been struggling.
Including all expenditures in addition to TV ad spending — like staffing, mailers, events and get-out-the-vote efforts — outside groups have so far spent more than $1.3 billion, a record for a midterm election, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks campaign finance spending. It continues a trend since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for outside spending.
…while you’re reading all about rishi’s folks’ humble beginnings…& what a loveable star wars geek he is…or how historic it is to have a hindu in the top job…spare a thought for which “other half” he really represents
Brits are used to being ruled by elites — Boris Johnson was about as elite as they come — but Sunak is not just rich, he is super rich, which has prompted some to ask whether his vast fortune makes him too rich to be prime minister.
Sunak, a former banker, and his wife, Indian tech heiress Akshata Murty, have an estimated fortune of about 730 million pounds ($830 million), according to the Sunday Times Rich List. On this year’s list, published before her death, Queen Elizabeth II was estimated to have about 370 million pounds ($420 million) by comparison.
…by way of the proverbial pinch of salt…whereas, say, elon musk may be spectacularly wealthy on paper but in the mathematically-convoluted sort of a way that invokes the fiscal equivalent of n-dimensional topographic principles to produce a number that could collapse faster than a pension fund after the truss mini-budget…pretty much the opposite is true of the wealth of the royal family…so…nominally richer than the monarch, maybe…actually wealthier than the crown…sorry…I was laughing…where were we?
Does any of that matter to voters?
“It’s not binary,” said Robert Ford, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester. “The British as a whole don’t think that being wealthy is a bad or disqualifying thing. There are lots of very wealthy individuals who are very popular with the public.
“People do care about wealthy people fixing the rules for themselves. It’s non-dom status for your wife while you are the chancellor, it’s green cards in the U.S. in case things go south, it’s family tax numbers being massaged down. People are like, ‘Well, I don’t mind so long as you pay your taxes, but it really annoys me if you don’t,’ ” he said.
In the last leadership election this summer, they circulated a video clip from a 2007 BBC documentary in which he suggests he doesn’t have any “working-class friends.”
He was also attacked for giving a speech to grass-roots Conservative Party members this summer where he said that, as chancellor, he tried to reverse funding formulas “that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas” so as to help wealthier towns.
Before becoming a lawmaker — only seven years ago, a rapid ascent in British political terms — Sunak worked as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs and as a hedge fund manager. He most recently served in government as chancellor, where he became hugely popular as he dished out money during the pandemic.
…who says money can’t buy you love…I guess the real question is what kind of yield you get as a return on your investment
Whatever the true numbers (the Sunaks could not be reached for comment and would hardly tell their exact fortune if they did), questions have swirled about whether, given his wealth, the multimillionaire and soon-to-be prime minister could relate to ordinary Britons grappling with a cost-of-living crisis. He is, after all, about to oversee tough measures to pull the country out of a deep financial hole and avoid a recession.
…you just have to play your position
This year, Mr. Sunak appeared to try to burnish his bona fides as an ordinary Briton, using a well-worn political trope by venturing into a store to pay for items. But what was clearly a photo opportunity went oh so wrong.
After delivering his mini-budget to the House of Commons in March, he walked into a gas station in New Cross, Lewisham, a mic clipped to his tie, cameras snapping and video cameras filming. Footage aired by Sky News showed the gas station worker raising a device to scan a can of Coke for Mr. Sunak. But the then-chancellor, not realizing the device wasn’t a card machine, awkwardly attempted to pay with his bank card through a plastic screen.
…ladies & gentlemen…a man of the people
…anyway…he gets the keys today…the financial statement is due to drop on monday…so…not to be indelicate…but something, something…next tuesday?
…best of luck with whatever today has in store for you