Blinken: ‘Putin will fail and Russia will suffer strategic defeat’ in Ukraine
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken just said that he believes that no matter Russia’s military might and any battle victories, that ultimately the superpower and its authoritarian leader Vladimir Putin will suffer “strategic defeat” in Ukraine.
“I’m convinced that Putin will fail and Russia will suffer strategic defeat” in Ukraine, he said, at an ongoing press conference with Britain’s foreign secretary Liz Truss, in Washington DC.
He signaled, however, that that does not mean Ukraine is going to win this military conflict, as the attacks on Ukrainian cities continue and Russia gathers its forces for whatever is the next stage of its offensive.
“You can take a country but you cannot take the hearts and minds of its people,” Blinken said, with an ominous message wrapped up in a defiant top line.
Observers are contemplating the longer term prospect of Russia defeating the Ukrainian military and leadership and imposing a Russian-backed puppet regime to run an essentially-occupied Ukraine.
Blinken said that Putin “has a clear plan to brutalize Ukraine, but to what end? He is now turning to a strategy of laying waste” to Ukrainian cities.
He warned that if even if Putin succeeds in installing a puppet regime in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Ukrainians will not acquiesce.
“I think it’s pretty evident that they will never accept that,” he said.
The Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio Jr. in the back last week is to be fired.
Police commissioner Danielle Outlaw called the officer’s actions excessive during a press conference Tuesday, saying that the cop violated the department’s use-of-force policy, Axios reports, quoting the chief saying: “I won’t say it was a difficult decision”, while adding that the fatal shooting was not reflective of the department or its values.
Outlaw’s move comes days after Thomas Siderio Sr., TJ’s father, filed a lawsuit in Common Pleas Court against the four officers involved in the shooting, his lawyer J. Conor Corcoran confirmed to Axios.
- “The Philadelphia police murdered his 12-year-old boy in cold blood,” Corcoran said.
Of note: Outlaw has declined to identify the officers due to concerns about potential threats to those involved.
Flashback: On March 1 around 7:20pm, four plainclothes officers were in an unmarked car on a firearms investigation around 18th and Johnston streets in South Philadelphia when they saw Siderio and a 17-year-old, who was wanted for questioning in the probe.
- Police drove toward the pair and activated their car’s emergency lights when they say they heard gunfire.
- A window of the unmarked police car shattered, injuring an officer with shards of broken glass. Siderio and the teen fled, and two officers gave chase, firing their weapons a total of four times, Outlaw said.
- Siderio was shot once in the back and later died at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Catch up fast: Police do not have body camera footage of the shooting from the officers involved.
- Police have recovered a loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun with a laser, which was reported stolen.
- Outlaw said yesterday that police believe Siderio shot the bullet that hit the police car.
- The three other officers involved in the fatal shooting have been placed on administrative duty.
What’s next: A viewing for Siderio, who was in seventh grade at Sharswood Elementary, will be held Wednesday and Thursday at Lighthouse Baptist Church.
- A burial will take place at Fernwood Cemetery on Thursday.
What to watch: The Philadelphia Police Department and District Attorney’s Office are conducting dual investigations into the fatal shooting.
- District Attorney Larry Krasner has yet to determine whether to file criminal charges against the officer.
- “The death of a child is always a tragedy, and in this instance, a factually complex and deeply troubling one based on preliminary investigative information,” Krasner said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 hasn’t commented on whether it would support the soon-to-be fired officer, a union spokesperson told Axios.
Meanwhile, police are reviewing policies, training, tactics and more following the fatal shooting, Outlaw said.
Here’s our post from earlier about how Minneapolis messed up its response to the initial riots that accompanied the mass uprising over the murder of Black resident George Floyd there by a white police officer in 2020.
A federal judge in New York has dismissed civil claims against Republican Alabama congressman Mo Brooks alleging he helped incite supporters of former president Donald Trump’s to attack the US Capitol in January 2021, noting that Brooks’ speech to the crowd immediately prior to the insurrection was constitutionally protected free speech.
The ruling by US district court judge Amit Mehta represents a setback for House Democrats, including California congressman Eric Swalwell, who last year filed the lawsuit against Trump and his allies alleging they encouraged the crowd to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021, as Congress met to formally certify Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over Trump.
Reuters further reports:
Mehta in February had dismissed claims against several of Brooks’ co-defendants, including former Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
But in that ruling, Mehta said he would allow the plaintiffs to continue to pursue their claims against the former president.
Trump, he determined, was not immune from the three lawsuits filed by Democratic members of Congress and two police officers over his actions on that January 6, because his fiery speech to supporters was not within the scope of his official presidential duties.
Trump, shortly before riots, repeated to the crowd of supporters his false claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him through widespread voting fraud, telling them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”
Trump was subsequently impeached for an historic second time, charged with inciting the insurrection, but was acquitted by the US Senate.
Here’s a heart-stopper. A plane carrying former president Donald Trump made an emergency landing in New Orleans on Saturday evening after experiencing engine failure over the Gulf of Mexico, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday.
The wire service writes:
The plane, a Dassault Falcon 900, had gone about 75 miles from a New Orleans airport before turning back to the city, the person said. Other passengers included Secret Service agents, support staff and some of Trump’s advisers.
A Trump representative did not immediately return a request for comment on the incident.
The plane was returning Trump to his home in Palm Beach, Florida, from a New Orleans hotel where he was speaking to Republican Party donors at a private event, the person said.
The plane belonged to a donor who loaned it to the former president for the evening, the source said, and Trump advisers secured another donor’s plane to take him back to Florida.
The incident was first reported today by Politico. Trump was returning from that Republican shindig where he joshed that the US should put Chinese flags on the side of American fighter jets and bomb the shit out of Russia.
The move, announced today, ends a years-long battle between the state and the federal government that caused uncertainty in the auto industry, and enables California – which has the largest car market in the US – to push vehicle manufacturers a greener direction, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Manufactures had looked to California’s emissions standards for guidance, which had been higher than the federal government’s since the state was granted a waiver under the Clean Air Act, attempting to limit the messiness of making cars for different standards set across the country. More than a dozen states also follow California’s lead when it comes to curbing tailpipe emissions, collectively representing more than 40% of the automobile market.
But the market was thrown when, in 2019, Trump oversaw the easing of regulations and barred California from controlling its own. At the time, officials claimed it would provide more market certainty and pave the way for cheaper and safer cars, but today leaders at the EPA said the decision was made in error.
“Our partnership with states to confront the climate crisis has never been more important,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. “With today’s action, we reinstate an approach that for years has helped advance clean technologies and cut air pollution for people not just in California, but for the U.S. as a whole.” California will also now be able to move forward with a plan requiring all new cars sold in the state to be electric by 2035.
Conservatives have pushed back against the reversal and 16 Republican state attorneys general have called California’s allowance to go beyond federal standards unconstitutional.
More from the LA Times:
The EPA’s Regan said the agency will team with CARB and the other states allied with California.
“It’s not only vital to California, but to the entire country,” he said. “We will work very closely with the State of California, with automakers, with the union, and the environmental stakeholders to make sure all of us are rolling together toward a clean vehicle future.”
Regan said he hopes the issue won’t land back in court, but the EPA is ready to defend itself if it does. “We took our time” justifying the decision, he said. “It’s legally complicated, and we wanted to get it right. We’re prepared for whatever comes our way.” Same for California, Sanchez said. “The legal team will do whatever’s necessary to defend our position.”
Attorneys present opening statements in trial over plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented their opening statements on Wednesday in the federal trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 over restrictions she had imposed to control the pandemic.
Adam Fox, Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft Jr and Daniel Harris are charged with conspiracy to kidnap the Democratic governor from her vacation home. If convicted by a 12-person jury seated on Tuesday, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
All the defendants except Caserta are also charged with knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property.
In their opening statement in a Grand Rapids, Michigan, courtroom, prosecutors told the jury they would offer evidence that would prove the men planned to break into Whitmer’s home, hog-tie her and take her away at gunpoint.
“To accomplish that, they would shoot, blow up and kill anybody who got in their way, in their own words, creating a war zone here in Michigan,” US Attorney Jonathan Roth said. Fox’s attorney Christopher Gibbons said during his opening statement that his client and the other men engaged in just talk. “There was no plan. There was no agreement. There was no conspiracy to kidnap the governor of Michigan or any other governor,” he said.
Prosecutors are expected to rely on the testimony of two witnesses, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks. Indicted along with the four defendants by a grand jury in December 2020, both struck plea deals with prosecutors and agreed to testify against the defendants. Garbin is currently serving a six-year sentence, while Franks is awaiting sentencing.
Hate groups continue to decline as extremist ideas grow in mainstream
The number of hate groups across the US declined for the third consecutive year in 2021, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The SPLC identified 733 active hate groups last year, down from the 838 identified in 2020 and 940 in 2019. In 2018, the number of hate groups nationwide was at its highest, peaking at 1,021.
The center also found that the number of anti-government groups declined from 566 in 2020 to 488 in 2021. In 2019, the group identified 576 anti-government groups. In 2012, the number of anti-government groups were at a record-breaking high of 1,360.
“Rather than demonstrating a decline in the power of the far right, the dropping numbers of organized hate and anti-government groups suggest that the extremist ideas that mobilize them now operate more openly in the political mainstream,” said the SPLC report.
In addition to calling upon elected leaders to embrace democratic institutions, the center urged for increased funding of radicalization prevention programs and more protection surrounding the right to vote for communities of color and other marginalized communities.
Biden signs cryptocurrency order to examine risks as popularity rises
Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order on government oversight of cryptocurrency that urges the Federal Reserve to explore whether the central bank should jump in and create its own digital currency.
The Biden administration views the explosive popularity of cryptocurrency as an opportunity to examine the risks and benefits of digital assets, the Associated Press reports, citing a senior administration official.
The action comes as lawmakers and administration officials are increasingly voicing concern that Russia may be using cryptocurrency to avoid the impact of sanctions imposed on its banks, oligarchs and oil industry due to the invasion of Ukraine.
Last week, Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Mark Warner, and Jack Reed asked the treasury department to provide information on how it intends to inhibit cryptocurrency use for sanctions evasion.
Katherine Dowling, general counsel for Bitwise Asset Management, a cryptocurrency asset management firm, said an executive order that provides more legal clarity on government oversight would be “a long term positive for crypto”.
But Hilary Allen, a financial regulation professor at American University, cautioned against moving too fast to embrace cryptocurrencies. “As crypto becomes more integrated into our financial system it creates vulnerabilities not just to those who are investing in crypto but for everybody who participates in our economy.”
The White House is not opposed to Nato-member Poland donating some of its used fighter-jets to Ukraine, press secretary Jen Psaki said.
But Psaki has spelt out that the US is not eager to have that happen in the way suggested by Poland yesterday, whereby it would donate the jets to the US and the US would supply them to Ukraine from its massive US-Nato air base in south-western Germany.
Psaki is backing up secretary of state Antony Blinken in a press conference at the state department earlier. Both point out that the logistics are complex but, crucially, it risks the US being drawn in to direct military conflict with Russia.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki just warned that the latest official inflation figures, due out tomorrow, are expected to be high, particularly driven by what she called the “energy crisis” fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Yesterday, Joe Biden announced a US ban on Russian oil and gas, in an effort to punish Vladimir Putin. Petroleum prices at the pumps were already rising prior to the invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago, and are now rising steeply from there.
But meanwhile, Democratic Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, has this in mind:
White House press secretary Jen Psaki is due to hold her daily media briefing shortly. It’s been a busy morning dominated by US-Ukraine news, which we’ve been following and will continue to follow, as well as US domestic politics news. But if you want more in-depth, global live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, do tune into our round-the-clock Ukraine crisis blog here.
Here’s where things stand in US politics news so far:
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken just said that he believes that no matter Russia’s military might and any battle victories, that ultimately the superpower and its authoritarian leader Vladimir Putin will suffer “strategic defeat” in Ukraine.
- Donald Trump “admired” Vladimir Putin’s ability to kill anyone he wanted, according to his former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, but was also scared of him.
- There are ‘terrible implications’ for European and global security if Putin is not stopped, British foreign secretary Liz Truss said moments ago at a press conference in Washington, DC.
- Minneapolis failed to follow emergency protocols during protests and riots there in 2020 after the murder of Black resident George Floyd by a white police officer, according to an official report commissioned by the city.
- US vice president Kamala Harris is in the air on her way to Poland and Romania in a high-profile trip to talk to those Nato allies’ leaders amid the intensifying war of Russian aggression in neighboring Ukraine.
Trump admired Putin’s brutality but was also scared of him – ex-press sec
Donald Trump “admired” Vladimir Putin’s ability to kill anyone he wanted, according to his former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
In an interview with The View on Tuesday, Grisham discussed the former US president’s relationship with the Russian president, saying: “I think [Trump] feared [Putin]. I think he was afraid of him. I think that the man intimidated him. Because Putin is a scary man, just frankly, I think he was afraid of him.”
She went on to add: “I also think he admired him greatly. I think he wanted to be able to kill whoever spoke out against him. So I think it was a lot of that. In my experience with him, he loved the dictators, he loved the people who could kill anyone, including the press.”
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in more than 1,300 civilian casualties, including 474 killed and 861 injured, Trump has highly praised Putin for his actions, calling him a “genius”.
In an interview last month with a conservative radio show, Trump fawned over Putin, saying: “I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of … Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh that’s wonderful. So Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force. We could use that on our southern border.”
Trump continued, saying: “There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy, I know him very well. Very, very well.”
Trump’s comments were criticized by the two Republicans serving on the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot, who are among the few Republicans who have been critical of the former president. Liz Cheney tweeted that Trump’s statement “aids our enemies. Trump’s interests don’t seem to align with the interests of the United States of America.”
The debacle between Nato allies the US and Poland over the prospect of somehow supplying Ukraine with second-hand, Russian-built fighter jets – without drawing Nato into a war with Russia – is no more resolved now than it was yesterday, as a result of the Blinken-Truss meeting and press conference in Washington moments ago.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken said of the idea put forward by Poland yesterday: “Departing from a US Nato base in Germany to fly into airspace contested with Russia over Ukraine raises some serious concerns for the entire Nato alliance. So we have to work through the specifics of these things going forward. It’s simply not clear to us that there’s a substantive rationale for doing it in the way that was put forward yesterday.”
The idea isn’t officially dead but it’s hardly thriving at this point. Blinken, at a press conference with British foreign secretary Liz Truss, further remarked: “I think what we’re seeing is that Poland’s proposal shows that there are some complexities that the issue presents when it comes to providing security assistance. We have to make sure that we’re doing it in the right way.”
At the moment, the talk is of helping Ukraine with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and not a western-imposed no-fly zone over Ukraine or fleets of Polish MiGs and Sukhois for Ukrainian military pilots to fly up against Russia’s devastating air attacks.