The Santa Fe, New Mexico District Attorney will say on 19 January whether a criminal case will be brought against Alec Baldwin for the shooting death on a movie set

By Robert Willmann

At 9:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time tomorrow in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the local District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, will announce whether a criminal case will be brought against actor Alec Baldwin, who fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a movie set on 21 October 2021. Quite a bit of activity has gone on in civil lawsuits and in other discussions since the event, but a possible criminal charge is the most significant, because all the other court action and maneuvering has been about money.

From a criminal law standpoint, the case has fascinating issues. It also poses more practical problems than usual for the investigation of what happened and for analyzing a possible prosecution. The glitz of Hollywood masks snake-like behavior.

http://abcnews.go.com/amp/Entertainment/da-reveal-charges-fatal-shooting-set-alec-baldwins/story?id=92278109

Rather than face the music herself, the DA has hired a communications consultant, Heather Brewer, who describes her business this way: “HB Strategies is a full-service public affairs firm, specializing in crisis communications, that can work with your campaign, business or nonprofit organization to get your message into the media and  in front of thought-leaders and policy makers”.

http://hbstrategiesnm.com/

The announcement apparently is not going to be a press conference, but instead will be presented as a written statement to the media. It is kind of odd that a DA will say in advance that an announcement will be made about whether there will be a prosecution, because usually you will not say that criminal charges will be filed in the future (if you are going to file them), but that they have already been filed.

Posted in Current Affairs, Film, Justice | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

“Ukraine credits local beavers for unwittingly bolstering its defenses” – TTG

Ukrainian servicemen from the Volyn Territorial Defence brigade are seen on their positions near the border with Belarus, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Volyn region, Ukraine, on January 12, 2023. Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images/Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Local beavers are helping Ukraine defend itself from a potential new front in Russia’s invasion, Reuters reported on Thursday. The animals are unwittingly helping Kyiv by building dams that keep the ground marshy and impassable, a military spokesman told the agency. This helps Ukraine by making it less likely that an attack could come via Belarus, which borders Ukraine not far north of the capital Kyiv.

Ukrainian officials had warned that Russia may wage an offensive through its ally Belarus into a region of Ukraine called Volyn. Defense forces there, however, have been reassured by conditions on the ground, left impassable by miles of burst river banks, thick mud, and waterlogged fields. The swampy conditions have given Ukrainians an advantage, and time to prepare: a local military unit called the Volyn territorial defense has been conducting daily training exercises in the area, according to Reuters.

Its spokesman, Serhiy Khominskyi, praised the beavers, which he told Reuters were more working unimpeded, unlike in other years. “When [the beavers] build their dams normally people destroy them, but they didn’t this year because of the war, so now there is water everywhere,” he said. Viktor Rokun, one of the brigade’s deputy commanders, told Reuters: “On your own land, everything will help you to defend it — the landscape, lots of rivers, which have burst their banks this year.” 

The unusually mild winter has created ideal conditions for Ukrainians to defend their country. Analyst Konrad Muzyka, who runs the defense consultancy Rochan Consulting, told Reuters that Volyn would be a “horrible place to conduct an offensive operation. There are many watercourses there, very few roads,” he said. “This makes it easy for Ukrainian forces to channel the movement of Russian forces into specific areas where they would be shelled by artillery.”

https://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-says-defenses-stronger-thanks-beavers-dams-2023-1

Comment: Sure this is more a human interest or moment of nature story than a war update, but it caught my eye because I just discovered the beavers are back in the small stream behind my house. We had an established family of beavers when I moved here in the mid-90s. They were a source of enjoyment and never bothered anybody. The first winter here, I watched them glide under the ice from their lodge to the far side of their small pond. They are graceful creatures in the water. I would often sit by a tree and quietly wait for them to appear at dusk and start to work. The quiet sitting and watching in the company of wild creatures is great medicine for body and soul. 

Several years later the juveniles started building dams further down the stream, but still lived with the one remaining parent in the old lodge. One family in the neighborhood complained that the dams were flooding their basement. It was bullshit. The water was never anywhere near the level of their basement. The problem was a faultily installed basement window that leaked in the rain. I learned that our proto-HOA at the time had the beavers removed. I threatened to burn the whole goddamned development to the ground. I didn’t, of course, but I left them with a final epithet, “And the Karela, the bitter karela, shall cover you all!”

The last I saw those beavers was one night when one juvenile was tenderly caring for the remaining parent streamside while the other juvenile was tending to the dam. Animal instinct? Sure, but I saw God’s divine mercy and sacred love that night.

So finally the beavers are back. Their dam and pond seem situated well enough to avoid arousing the fear of other surrounding home owners. Let’s hope it stays that way.

TTG

Posted in fauna, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 16 Comments

The Cat’s Meow

Happy New Year Everyone! Now sit back and get ready to enjoy a new, new, story from the New CNN, Chat Noir News. Nine lives, many tales.

Now I know you are probably wondering just where Ray Epps is vacationing right now, aren’t you? But are you gett’n ready, ready for a new story from the New CNN, Chat Noir News?

Posted in Current Affairs, Fred, government, Gun Control, Humor, Media Ignorance and Idiocy, Politics, Ukraine Crisis | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Soledar – TTG

Russian forces’ likely capture of Soledar on January 11 is not an operationally significant development and is unlikely to presage an imminent Russian encirclement of Bakhmut. Geolocated footage posted on January 11 and 12 indicates that Russian forces likely control most if not all of Soledar, and have likely pushed Ukrainian forces out of the western outskirts of the settlement. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks against Sil in Donetsk Oblast—a settlement over a kilometer northwest of Soledar and beyond previous Ukrainian positions. The Ukrainian General Staff and other senior military sources largely did not report that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults against Soledar on January 12 as they have previously. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces are still clearing Soledar of remaining Ukrainian forces as of January 12. Russian milbloggers posted footage on January 12 of Wagner Group fighters freely walking in Soledar and claimed that they visited the settlement alongside Russian forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has not announced that Russian forces have captured Soledar, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov congratulated Russian forces for successful offensive operations in the settlement. All available evidence indicates Ukrainian forces no longer maintain an organized defense in Soledar. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s January 12 statement that Ukrainian forces maintain positions in Soledar may be referring to defensive positions near but not in Soledar.

Russian information operations have over exaggerated the importance of Soledar, which is at best a Russian Pyrrhic tactical victory. ISW continues to assess that the capture of Soledar—a settlement smaller than 5.5 square miles—will not enable Russian forces to exert control over critical Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) into Bakhmut nor better position Russian forces to encircle the city in the short term. Russian forces likely captured Soledar after committing significant resources to a highly attritional tactical victory which will accelerate degraded Russian forces’ likely culmination near Bakhmut. Russian forces may decide to maintain a consistently high pace of assaults in the Bakhmut area, but Russian forces’ degraded combat power and cumulative exhaustion will prevent these assaults from producing operationally significant results.

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-12-2023

Comment: Prigozhin was claiming that Soledar was in his Wagner Group’s hands on 10 January and that the Ukrainian defenders were surrounded, surrendered or killed. It was a dramatic statement along with a dramatic photo of a tac’ed up Prigozhin with some of his boys in a mine tunnel. That photo could have been taken in a peripheral tunnel of the Soledar salt mines. It certainly wasn’t one of the main tunnels where concerts were often held prior to this war. It was more likely taken in some other mine tunnel in Donetsk. Prigozhin is certainly milking his conquest or near conquest of Soledar for all that it’s worth. A victory here is good news for the Kremlin. It would be even better news for Prigozhin’s prospects in the ongoing Kremlin palace intrigues.

As ISW explains, the capture of Soledar is not of great military significance, especially at the cost involved. However, I believe the capture of those expansive mine tunnels would give Prigozhin a well protected area to amass ammunition and other supplies and a place to house his mercenaries, mobiks and convict soldiers where the HIMARS can’t hit them. The mine entrances may not be so invulnerable though.  And the Ukrainians already know exactly where they are located.

TTG

Posted in TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 101 Comments

Remember. Members of Congress are not cleared for secrets – republished 2023

Us-coversheets

I have written on this often.  Members of the US Congress do not have vetted information security clearances.  They have access to government secrets because of their constitutional office as elected representatives of the citizens of the US.  This is true in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  This is true because they are members of a part of government co-equal with the Executive Branch.  The Executive Branch controls the clearance process created by presidential executive order and the co-equal congress cannot in our system be denied information by the executive.  Congressional staffs, however, ARE required to submit themselves to the executive branch clearance process.

What brings this to mind is are the statements and behavior of Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional district, a jurisdiction wedged in between Minneapolis and St. Paul and probably not very typical of Minnesota. 

Members of Congress are immune from restrictions on their speech in Congress and generally during the sessions of their term in office.  “Treason, felony and breach of the peace” are exceptions to that immunity.

Ilhan Omar’s statements and attitude in her interrogation of the execrable Elliott Abrams yesterday raise the question for me of whether or not she can be trusted with US government secrets.  She spent four years of her childhood in a Somali refugee camp in Kenya.  She seems to have acquired there a deep antipathy to the US as a country.  She seems to regard herself as a Muslim penetrant in the US government, a penetrant who will automatically, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have a great deal of access to US Government secrets.  She is openly supportive of various jihadi movements and the Maduro government of Venezuela.  How can we know what she will communicate outside the government and to whom?

It is impossible know the exact motivations of anyone, but I will hazard a guess that Omar is falsely sworn as a member of Congress.  What did she think these words meant?

“I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.”   wiki

Was there a certain irony in yesterday’s confrontation between the arch neocon and the Muslim activist?  Of course, there was, and it was on many levels.

Nevertheless, you can be sure that the FBI will be watching and listening closely.  pl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_or_Debate_Clause

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_office

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilhan_Omar

Posted in government, Politics | 10 Comments

The president is the sole authority on declassification – republished 2023

  Top_secret_ver1

I wrote this in 2015 concerning HC’s e-mails but it still applies.  Restating the case, the classification system in the US exists solely by Executive Order.  It does not exist by law.  All classifications of information are derivative from the sitting president’s Executive Orders on the subject.  These are generally re-issued by each new president.  Classification is administrative in nature and not based in law although disclosures that are not authorized ultimately by POTUS’ authority ARE subject to criminal penalties. No cabinet secretary, Congressional body or other official has any legal authority to block a declassification order from the president.

” To be properly classified, a classification authority (an individual charged by the U.S. government with the right and responsibility to properly determine the level of classification and the reason for classification) must determine the appropriate classification level, as well as the reason information is to be classified. A determination must be made as to how and when the document will be declassified, and the document marked accordingly. Executive Order 13526 describes the reasons and requirements for information to be classified and declassified (Part 1). Individual agencies within the government develop guidelines for what information is classified and at what level”  Wiki on classification in the US.

—————-

 God himself does not personally “classify” information, not even in the US Government.  He leaves that task to mere mortals.  People who have security clearances and who are given access to documents marked with some jumble of letters indicating a degree of secrecy usually assume that there is something inherent in the information or the document that made it “classified.”  That is not the case.  Information does not become “classified” until a “classification authority” says it is classified.  In each department of the Executive Branch of the federal government the ultimate “classification authority” is the cabinet officer who heads that department, i.e., the Secretary of ——–. 

In the case of the State Department, that “classification authority” was Hillary Clinton whilst (I been watchin;’ Brit TV again) she was Secretary of State,  Sooo, unless she ruled that something circulating  within State was “classified,” it was not.

In the case of something from another department that came to her already “classified” that would be a more complex “call,” but not a simple “call.”  Normally, information coming to a departmental secretary has more than one source.   Who can say what information came from where?  Sooo, let up, people.  pl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classified_information_in_the_United_States#Proper_procedure_for_classifying_U.S._government_documents

Posted in government | 6 Comments

” … joint resolution to give Biden military authority to combat cartels”

Crenshaw

“Crenshaw said the Mexican government “is fairly transactional and fairly prone to leverage” and said the joint resolution is “leverage,” adding the U.S. is “done having nice conversations where we all shake hands at the end and put our different flags behind us.”

“We are really, really serious about this. You guys have threats within your country that are becoming serious threats to our country, killing tens of thousands of Americans a year. And we need to address it. So it’s a carrot and a stick. We want to help them, but we need that strong language in there, too.”

Crenshaw said that his GOP colleagues in the House are showing interest in the resolution and quipped that his “message to Democrats” is he’s “giving the Democrat president authority to look good for the American people.”

“Why don’t you take me up on that? How about that? Because this is a problem that faces every American. This is not partisan,” Crenshaw said. “You know, this is not a partisan bill. This is a strong national security bill.”

Waltz told Fox News Digital that the resolution is needed because the cartels “have exceeded the capability of law enforcement” and are a “paramilitary arm armed with armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and billions at their disposal.”

“And we’ve even seen collaboration with international terrorist groups and the Chinese Communist Party with these groups,” Waltz said in a Wednesday phone interview. “So, we believe that we need to start using military assets to address this national security threat.”

“That does not have to mean troops on the ground,” the Florida Republican continued. “That can be cyber, that can be drones, that can be military surveillance assets, space assets, you name it.”

Comment: This should have been done long ago. pl

Crenshaw, Waltz introduce joint resolution to give Biden military authority to combat cartels | Fox News

Posted in Mexico | 3 Comments

Putin Replaces Russia’s Top Commander in Ukraine

Valery Gerasimov

“Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced the commander of his country’s forces in Ukraine.

Putin named Gen. Valery Gerasimov to take over Russia’s troops, NBC News reported. Gerasimov replaces Sergey Surovikin, the Russian defense ministry announced Wednesday on Telegram.

Three months ago, Surovikin became the first person to be put in sole command of the campaign since Putin began his unprovoked attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Surovikin, nicknamed “Armageddon,” had a reputation for “total ruthlessness,” and his willingness “to vigorously execute any orders trounced any potential questions” about his checkered qualifications.

Surovikin had replaced two Russian senior military commanders fired after Ukraine’s largely successful counteroffensive in the southern Kherson region and portions of the area surrounding Kharkiv in the northeast.

The news on Gerasimov being named came on a day in which Ukraine’s military denied that Russian forces had taken control of the eastern town of Soledar.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern military command, told Ukrainian television that Ukrainian forces had not allowed Russian forces to break through front lines.”

Comment: This is like succession to command on a Klingon War Bird. I wonder how long this one will last. pl

Putin Replaces Russia’s Top Commander in Ukraine | Newsmax.com

Posted in Russia, Ukraine Crisis | 26 Comments

Starlink Mission

” Scheduled for Jan 11, 2023SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, January 11 for a Falcon 9 launch of 51 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window is at 7:48 p.m. PT (03:48 UTC on January 11). Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth and land on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean. A live webcast of this mission will begin about five minutes prior to liftoff.”

(120) Starlink Mission – YouTube

Posted in Space | Comments Off on Starlink Mission

“Poland wants to give Ukraine Leopard tanks as part of coalition’

Used Wagnerites

“Poland is ready to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine that Kyiv requested, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced on a visit to the eastern Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Warsaw is willing to deliver the tanks “within the framework of an international coalition,” the EU member’s head of state said after meeting his Ukrainian and Lithuanian counterparts.’

Comment: Why not? The Ukrainians are fighting their battle for them. pl

Ukraine-Russia latest: Kremlin clashes with top mercenary leader over Soledar claims (telegraph.co.uk)

Posted in Russia, The Military Art, Ukraine Crisis, weapons | 4 Comments