EU Open to Ukraine Membership - The Friday AM Quickie 12/15/23

If there are no UFO secrets worth knowing, then why did the Pentagon lobby to keep records on the subject classified? Ah, well, it's probably nothing! Jacob's got you covered Monday. - Corey

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Putin's Fanboys Sabotage Ukraine's Defense

Reporting from the front lines in eastern Ukraine, BBC News finds soldiers running low on ammunition for both rifles and artillery. They also find soldiers "angry that their lives and sacrifice might be wasted because of what they say is Europe and the US not fully comprehending the importance of military support for Ukraine.

"'Our western partners must understand that if we fail to stop Russians, then they will go further,' [a Ukrainian artillery gunner named] Kent said.
"'Then [Europe and America], instead of helping us, will be defending their own lands, and their own people will be dying.'"

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made the same point yesterday, telling reporters that military support for Ukraine "is not charity. It is an investment in our security." Aspiring Tsar Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, boasted that Russia now has the upper hand, despite losing an estimated 315,000 soldiers, because Ukraine's "freebies can run out at some point, and it looks like they're already starting to run out." So Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was correct when he told Congressional colleagues that "Putin [is] mocking our resolve."

While the Republican-led House called it quits for the holidays, the Senate is still working on a deal that will supply more military aid to Ukraine – possibly in exchange for signing off on what Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal calls "brutal and inhumane" Republican border policies. "If we want to deal with immigration, then we should deal with it in a proper way, not as a ransom demand," she says. President Joe Biden is in a bind here, but surely he can do better than relying on the flaky and unprincipled "independent" Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who yesterday suggested that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and others with humanitarian concerns "on the edges of the political spectrum," to help lead negotiations on this matter of true global import.

Also yesterday, Hungary's Putin-friendly Prime Minister Viktor Orban, seemingly "emboldened by the political gridlock over further Ukraine funding in Washington," walked out of a European Union meeting before the 26 other member countries voted to open membership talks with Ukraine. Orban did, however, block a $52 billion EU aid package to Ukraine. It seems he only declined to veto Ukraine's EU membership vote because the EU eased off its pressure campaign aimed at restoring some measure of democracy to Hungary. Funny, isn't it, how all Putin's friends, from Orban to Trump, operate like gangsters?

Child 'Ruferitos' Risk Life and Limb Across the U.S.

In a must-read story about America's worsening child labor problem, the New York Times "spoke with more than 100 child roofers in nearly two dozen states, including some who began at elementary-school age." One, Antoni Padilla, began working as a roofer at 15 in South Carolina after leaving Honduras, where his parents still live; after falling from the roof of a luxury beach house, he fractured his skull and lapsed into a three-month coma.

No rehabilitation facility would accept him without health insurance. Unable to speak or stand, he went back to the trailer he had been sharing with his uncle's family. [Testifying months later in a worker's compensation case,] Antoni could not remember what state he was in, or his father's name. His brain injuries have severely impaired his memory and speech.

State labor investigators eventually cited one of Padilla's employers for violating child-labor laws. "The fine was $500."

House Republican Leading Hunter Biden Probe Struggles to Explain His Own Shell Company

Kentucky GOP Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee and head of the party's fruitless investigation of President Joe Biden's son Hunter, which is central to the impeachment inquiry they just launched, has a problem – and it isn't just the lack of evidence connecting Hunter's business to his dad, or the fact that impeaching Biden could backfire on Republican incumbents. It's funnier. As the Associated Press reports, Comer himself controls a so-called shell company, the same thing that he says makes it seem like Hunter is up to something shady. Talking about this on Fox News yesterday, Comer lied and said the golf buddy donor who co-owns his shell company, Farm Team Properties, "wasn't a campaign contributor" when company purchased a "choice" six-acre property near a highway bypass. So what's he hiding?


  • Biden Tells Israel to Wrap Up the Indiscriminate Bombing in About 3 Weeks A U.S. intelligence assessment found that half of the more than 29,000 bombs the IDF has dropped on Gaza since Oct. 7 are unguided, which contradicts the propaganda about precision strikes and "helps explain the conflict's enormous civilian death toll." via the New York Times and the Washington Post.
  • New York GOP Picks Former IDF Paratrooper for Race to Replace George Santos Mazi Melesa Pilip, "a pro-Israel, Black, Orthodox Jew" and mother of seven, is actually registered to vote as a Democrat despite having run twice on the Republican ticket for state legislature. via NBC News and Politico.
  • Atlanta 'Stop Cop City' Petition Is Gonna Be Close An analysis by four news organizations found that around half of the signatures on a petition to force a referendum on the sprawling Cop City training center are valid, which could be enough for organizers to succeed, if only city officials would actually count the signatures. via the Associated Press.
  • Venezuela and Guyana Agree Not to Use Violence to Resolve Territorial Dispute "The U.S. Southern Command has conducted flight operations within Guyana in recent days," although it and Guyanese President Irfaan Ali deny that this is part of "a military operation aimed at Venezuela." via the AP.


$2 million

That's how much Florida Republican Party chairman Christian Ziegler is demanding as a payout in exchange for his resignation following a rape accusation, according to the Washington Post and Florida Politics. Ziegler, a Trump ally, draws an annual salary of $120,000; NBC News reports that Trump adviser Steve Bannon is urging Ziegler to hang on and become a "MAGA hero."


12/15: It's Casual Friday! Sam and Emma speak with David Dayen, executive editor at The American Prospect, to round up the week in news.


Trump's New Scam Is So F—ing Stupid Even He Can't Take It Seriously

This is indistinguishable from a late-night comedy sketch.

Right Feelings, Wrong Facts: How Libs Get Duped By Right-Wing Propaganda

Sam and Emma speak with Naomi Klein about her new book "Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World."


"I apologize for my actions in connection with the events in Coffee County."

-- Crackpot coup-plotting lawyer Sidney Powell, fulfilling one term of her plea deal with Fulton County, Georgia prosecutors with a terse one-sentence apology letter for her role in attempting to overthrow the 2020 election for her former employer, Donald Trump. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained Powell's letter, along with those of two other Trump co-defendants who took plea deals; District Attorney Fani Willis told the paper that she welcomed the brevity, saying "contrition doesn't have to be some poetic melody."

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