The emerging long term ramifications of the Ukraine War

With the war in the Ukraine now in the second half of its second year, with no clear outcome on the horizon, I thought it might be a good time to step back and look at what Russia’s invasion has wrought, not just on Russia and the Ukraine, but on the rest of the world, now and possibly into the long term future.

My goal in this essay is to look at the forest, not the trees, and to do so in very broad strokes, based on my experience as a historian who has taken this approach in all my histories.

First however it is necessary to give a short update on the war itself. In my previous two updates in April and July I concluded that the war was devolving into a stalemate, much like the ugly trench warfare of World War I. Nothing has changed that conclusion in the two months since July, a fact that is starkly illustrated by the two maps below, originally created by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and modified and annotated by me to highlight the most significant take-aways.
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The American Geophysical Union shows off its ignorance of the scientific method

Recently a climate scientist caused an uproar among scientists and peer-review journals when he admitted in an op-ed that the only way he could get his climate paper published in the journal Nature was to fake his results in order to fit them to the narrative that human-caused global warming is causing all our environmental problems.

In my paper, we didn’t bother to study the influence of these other obviously relevant factors. Did I know that including them would make for a more realistic and useful analysis? I did. But I also knew that it would detract from the clean narrative centered on the negative impact of climate change and thus decrease the odds that the paper would pass muster with Nature’s editors and reviewers.

While that op-ed brutally exposed the political biases at Nature that make it impossible to get honest research published, it only told a part of the story. Nature is only one journal, and if it was the only place this corruption of science was occurring, the problem would be manageable.

In truth it is only one example of a far more widespread problem, because it is now practically impossible for any skeptic of global warming to get his or her work published in almost any scientific journal. Worse, most of the major science organizations worldwide no longer simply favor pro-global warming climate research, they act aggressively to promote only one kind of result, to the point that the things they publish sometimes are little different than Soviet propaganda.

The American Geophysical Union, where science is no longer practiced
The American Geophysical Union, where
science is no longer practiced

As a prime example, I want to focus today on the American Geophysical Union (AGU), an scientific organization initially formed as an umbrella group to help American scientists publish and publicize their research on the study of the Earth, its interior, and its nature as a planet. To do so the AGU publishes a wide range of peer-review journals, all intended as fair-minded outlets for new research.

Sadly, in the past two decades the AG abandoned that primary function. For example, it has made its global-warming biases clear for several decades, essentially telling every climate scientist worldwide that if you submit any paper that raises any questions about global warming, it will be rejected outright.

More recently however the AGU has become even more up front and public about its close-minded approval of the as-yet unproven theory that humans are causing the climate to heat up. » Read more

Why are news organizations still asking advice from the COVID liars of 2020?

Fauci: Washington's top liar
Anthony Fauci: Washington’s liar-in-chief

Two stories in the past week got some notice in the conservative press as it reported on the increasing ramp up of fear-mongering about a new COVID epidemic (coincidently timed to arrive just before the 2024 election) by politicians, health officials, and the mainstream press.

The first story produced a lot of coverage because it involved the embarrassing appearance of Anthony Fauci on CNN, who when challenged directly on the recent research that has found masks accomplish nothing (which by the way simply confirms decades of earlier research that told us the same thing) still claimed that masks worked, and that this evidence should be ignored. You can watch Fauci’s moment of tragic black comedy here. His key response is at best incoherent, and at worst an utter lie and a denial of plain facts.

“Yes, but there are other studies, Michael, that show at an individual level, for individual, when you’re talking about the effect on the epidemic or the pandemic as a whole, the data are less strong. But when you talk about as an individual basis of someone protecting themselves or protecting themselves from spreading it to others, there’s no doubt that there are many studies that show that there is an advantage. When you took it at the broad population level like the Cochrane study, the data are less firm with regard to the effect on the overall pandemic. But we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about an individual’s effect on their own safety. That’s a bit different than the broad population level.”

Fauci refers to the “many studies” proving his position, but of course he can’t name them because they don’t exist. Even during the worst of the Wuhan panic the few studies that came out claiming some efficacy of masks were all found to be weak or flawed or downright fraudulent. He also makes the patently stupid claim that masks still work on an individual level, even though he admits the evidence for more than a century shows they don’t work at all.

This is what Michael Cantrell at PJMedia had to say about Fauci’s rationalizations:
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Starship and Superheavy: Ready for launch but still blocked by the White House

Starship stacked on Superheavy, September 5, 2023

Elon Musk yesterday tweeted a short video showing Starship prototype #25 as it was stacked on top of Superheavy prototype #9, stating that both were now ready for their orbital test launch, the second attempt by SpaceX to launch this new rocket.

The image to the right is a screen capture from that movie, showing the full rocket ready to go. When it will go however remains a complete unknown, as Musk himself noted in the tweet: “Starship is ready to launch, awaiting FAA license approval.”

In May I predicted that though Musk predicted at that time that SpaceX would be ready to do this launch in August, it would not happen then or likely for months afterward, because the FAA under the Biden administration is slow-walking all launch approvals for SpaceX, as I showed in detail in a later June essay.

It is now September. SpaceX didn’t meet Musk’s original August ready date for launch, but it only missed that target by about five days. And as I predicted, the FAA has also not yet approved the launch license.
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The New York Times suddenly allows two scientists to admit the Big Bang theory might be wrong

Modern science
Modern science

The refusal by many in the scientific community to deny there is any uncertainty of science has been best illustrated for decades by the cosmologists who have put together the framework of the standard model for the creation of the universe, centered on the Big Bang, and their pitchmen in the mainstream press. Since the 1960s any skepticism of this model was generally treated as equivalent to believing in UFO’s, aliens, and the Face on Mars.

Thus, astronomers and astrophysicists did what necessary to protect their careers. Even if they had great doubts about the standard model and the Big Bang, they generally kept their mouths shut, saying nothing. Meanwhile, our increasingly corrupt press pushed this one explanation for the formation of the universe, treating the cosmologists who pushed it as Gods whose every word was equivalent of an oracle that must never be questioned.

This past weekend the New York Times suddenly admitted to the uncertainty surrounding the Big Bang, and for possibly the first time in decades allowed two scientists to write an op-ed that carefully outlined the problems with the standard model and the Big Bang theory, problems that have existed and been growing since the 1990s but have been poo-pooed as inconsequential and easily solved. Data from the Webb Space Telescope however has made that poo-pooing more and more difficult, as astrophysicists Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser make clear:
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Marilyn Lovell, wife of Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell, passes away at 93

Marilyn Lovell, holding son Jeffrey, watches the Saturn 5 lift-off with daughters Susan, right, and Barbara, left
Marilyn Lovell, holding son Jeffrey, watches Apollo 8 lift-off on
December 21, 1968 with daughters Susan, right, and Barbara, left

On August 27, 2023, Marilyn Lovell passed away at the age of 93 in Lake Forest, Illinois, where she and her astronaut husband had lived since he had retired from NASA following his last space mission, Apollo 13.

Jim Lovell of course is the famous one. In the 1960s space race he was the leading space cadet, spending more time in space than any other person, with flights on Gemini 7 (the longest mission yet), Gemini 12 (proved it was possible to do work on a spacewalk), Apollo 8 (first mission ever to another planet), and Apollo 13, which was supposed to be Lovell’s crowning achievement, a walk on the Moon. Unfortunately an explosion in the Apollo service module on the journey out to the Moon forced the crew to use its Lunar Module as a lifeboat so that the three astronauts could get back home safely. That failure meant Lovell would never step on the Moon, despite a life dedicated to taking the first tentative steps in the exploration and the eventual settlement of the solar system by the human race.

It could however be argued that none of that laudable career would have happened had he not had Marilyn Lovell for a wife.
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The sunspot count in August demonstrates fully the utter uncertainty of science

In doing these sunspot updates every month since I started Behind the Black thirteen years ago, one of the repeated common themes has been noting how little we really know about the basic fundamental processes within the Sun. We know the process involves nuclear fusion combined with fission, and that process also creates a powerful magnetic field that every eleven years flips in its polarity. We also know that this eleven year cycle corresponds to an eleven year cycle of rising and then falling sunspot activity.

The devil however is in the details, and we know very little about those details. How those larger processes link to the specific changing features on the Sun remains little understood, if at all. The sudden and entirely unexpected steep drop in sunspot activity in August, as noted in the release yesterday of NOAA’s monthly update of its graph that tracks the number of sunspots on the Sun’s Earth-facing hemisphere, demonstrates this level of ignorance quite starkly.
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Reviewing a book blacklisted by Amazon because it dared say things Amazon doesn’t like

The Plague of Models, blacklisted by Amazon
The Plague of Models, blacklisted by Amazon

They’re coming for you next: Last week I posted an essay on the over-use and misuse of computer modeling in today’s scientific community, focused specifically on the unreliability of all climate models to successfully predict any actual climate trends.

One of the individuals who read my essay, Kenneth Green, immediately commented here on Behind the Black to note that he had just published a book on this very subject, entitled The Plague of Models: How Computer Modeling Corrupted Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulations, describing how the misuse of models has resulted in the proliferation of government regulations based not on actual data but on computer models that in many ways are nothing more than the opinions of the computer programs.

Green also noted that Amazon has refused to make his book available for sale, essentially banning it for no justifiable reason. As he explained to me in an email,

My publisher, who is a start-up small Canadian publisher specializing in public policy books, tried to upload The Plague of Models to Amazon, as he had previously done with half a dozen other books while working at previous institutions as in-house publisher.

This time, unlike his previous experiences, the book was taken down shortly after it was uploaded (and we know the upload process worked, since the book was available briefly for preview, so there was no technical issue with the manuscript file). The publisher got a form-letter email saying that the book had been taken down because it may have violated some (non-specific) Amazon Term of Service. When he sent a note back requesting clarification/appeal, he got another form letter, this one repeating that the book may have violated some term of service, and warning that any attempt to re-upload would get his entire account terminated.
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Reality strikes: Democrats in Democratically-controlled cities complain about the consequences of Democratic Party policies

The Democratic Party, always failing but always voted for
The Democratic Party, though always failing it remains
the only party the voters in these cities can support

You get what you vote for: The utter disaster of the Marxist policies of the modern radical Democratic Party are now coming home to roost in numerous cities across America, making them all increasingly “unlivable” in ways that are savage, violent, and devastating. Crime is up, shoplifting is now a sports event, and murderers go free while local prosecutors indict ordinary citizens for simply defending themselves.

These facts are not news however. Since the 1960s Democratic Party policies have routinely done damage to the livability of American cities. What makes this collapse in civilization now even more significant however is who is noticing, as shown by three recent articles in the past week.

Let’s start with Minneapolis, where numerous videos document a formerly pleasant midwest city that has now become a hellhole.
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I will NOT wear a mask, part two

Here we go again! When the first panic over COVID arrived in 2020 and government thugs and their leftist minions in the culture began demanding that everyone wear a mask, I wrote the following:

It apparently has not been enough that they have successfully destroyed a thriving economy, put millions out of work, destroyed the airline, entertainment, sports, and restaurant industries, over a disease that, at best is nothing more than a slight blip in the overall death rate, and at worst will be comparable to similar past epidemics that we lived through without government-imposed panic or economic disaster.

No, destroying millions of lives has not been enough. They need to do more. They need to find more ways to squelch our freedom, nullify the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and, to paraphrase Orwell, stamp a boot down on our faces, forever.

And in this case, they mean to do this, almost literally.

They are now beginning to demand that we wear masks at all times in public, in the mindless and stupid belief that this will somehow stop COVID-19 from spreading.

I also declared unequivocally that I would not wear a mask, “and if you demand it of me you will have a revolution on your hands.”
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It is time to devalue the software research of climate models

When the table of contents of the most recent issue of the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Geophysical Research Letters was released on August 16, 2023, I could not help noticing it contained a string of papers repeatedly showing that the models used to prove the coming fire of global warming continue to remain untrustworthy and unreliable. All of the following papers indicated biases and uncertainties of both climate models as well as the data they used, and each did so in their titles:

All of these papers considered the models valid for future research, and were instead focused on refining and increasing the accuracy of the models. All however showed once again how little we should trust these models.

What makes the publication of these papers significant is that it was the AGU that published them, even though the AGU has a decidedly biased editorial policy in favor of global warming. Despite the AGU’s insistence that “realistic and continually improving computer simulations of the global climate predict that global temperatures will continue to rise as a result of past and future greenhouse gas emissions,” it still cannot avoid publishing papers that repeatedly disprove that conclusion.
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Movies when our culture was not run by barbarians

Today’s essay will in a sense be part two of an essay I wrote earlier this week, entitled “We are becoming a nation of barbarians”. Then, I tried to show the decay in the western civilization by describing the accepted — almost encouraged — crudeness of modern language. While public cursing could easily be consider only a small and trivial issue, I think the increased use of obscene language in normal discourse is equivalent to the “broken windows theory” of psychology, which posits that minor visible signs of disorder and misbehavior encourage further and worse disorder and misbehavior, eventually leading to collapse.

Today I’d like to instead give some examples of the much more civilized nature of popular entertainment from only a half century ago, in order to contrast this with the present. To do this I will cite just four movie examples, and challenge everyone today who is a passionate fan of modern films to watch them (all of which are available for free on the internet) and recognize the differences that I will describe. If you like movies, you will enjoy the experience, but I warn you, modern popular entertainment films do not compare well with these mid-twentieth century pop movies.
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West Virginia University: to save money it eliminates 32 majors instead of its bloated overhead

West Virginia University logo
West Virginia University: An example of bankrupt academia?

Bankrupt academia: The bankruptcy of intellectual thought in modern American academia is finally beginning to percolate down to the bankbook, at least in West Virginia. On August 11, 2023 the administration at West Virginia University released a report proposing the elimination of 32 majors while also eliminating 169 faculty positions.

The preliminary recommendations, released Friday afternoon, said 12 of those programs are undergraduate majors and 20 are graduate-level majors. Other programs were told to reduce their faculty size — 169 faculty jobs are on the line for cuts.

Programs marked for discontinuation included: master’s and doctorate in Mathematics; master’s and doctorate in Higher Education Administration; master’s of Public Administration; master’s of fine arts in Creative Writing; and a bachelor’s in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources. The Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, which includes Spanish, Russian and Chinese studies, was marked to be completely dissolved.

You can read the full report here. It is important to look closely at it, as it reveals some stark facts about how bankrupt academia remains. » Read more

We are becoming a nation of barbarians

From Netflix's Barbarians series
Making heroes of barbarians, on Netflix

I have previous railed against the decline in the use of language in the United States. Not only do Americans now routinely use obscenities in normal language, they have been meekly acquiescing to the demands of the radical and somewhat insane queer movement to accept its weasel words in order to hide what it really is.

The recent viral and passionate endorsement by conservatives of all stripes to a new song and the performance by a new country singer, Oliver Anthony, illustrates how this decline to barbarism is accelerating. The focus of Anthony’s song is the cruel destruction of the American way of life by the power-brokers in Washington, and how those power brokers are making life so difficult for ordinary people.

What makes Anthony’s song indicative however of society’s increasing barbarous trend is his language. Right from the start he nonchalantly uses obscenities that would have once been considered unacceptable by everyone, and until recently utterly unacceptable among our more conservative population.

Yet now, even conservatives see nothing wrong with Anthony’s use of obscenities. Apparently, it is now okay for everyone to spew curse words everywhere, in public, in songs, for all to hear, from children to adults. Anthony’s message condemning the tyranny coming from Washington is too important to ignore. It must be touted widely, no matter how obscenely he couches his statement.

In other words, now even conservatives don’t care if our culture is debased and damaged. It doesn’t matter if we teach young children that they can act like barbarians, cursing and expressing wild emotions without thinking. It is policy and political power that matters, not doing right and behaving properly.

For though curses and obscenities have their place and proper time, in a civilization of rational civil adults one does not encourage their use. » Read more

Retractions of peer-reviewed scientific papers has risen 13,750% in this century

Modern peer review in science
Modern peer review in science

The present and growing dark age: According to the watchdogs who run the website Retraction Watch, the number of peer-reviewed scientific papers that have been retracted each year has risen from 40 in 2000 to 5,500 in 2022, an astonishing increase of 13,750%.

According to these watchdogs, there are two reasons for this increase in research failure:

Retractions have risen sharply in recent years for two main reasons: first, sleuthing, largely by volunteers who comb academic literature for anomalies, and, second, major publishers’ (belated) recognition that their business models have made them susceptible to paper mills – scientific chop shops that sell everything from authorships to entire manuscripts to researchers who need to publish lest they perish.

These researchers are required – sometimes in stark terms – to publish papers in order to earn and keep jobs or to be promoted. The governments of some countries have even offered cash bonuses for publishing in certain journals. Any surprise, then, that some scientists cheat?

I think the watchdogs are missing the major and much more basic source for this problem. » Read more

A grateful thank you to all who contributed during July’s fund-raising campaign

My annual July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating the thirteenth anniversary of my first posts back in 2010, has now ended.

This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. I would like to email thanks to you all, but there are too many. Please accept this general thank you instead. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me, as it has raised the earnings so far this year to almost match last year’s numbers.

This thank you notice will remain at the top of the page for the next few days. Scroll down for new stories.

From the original post:
I sincerely dislike begging for donations and subscriptions, which is why I shortened my February campaign from its normal four weeks to only two. I wanted to spare both my readers and myself some of this pleading.

Sadly, that decision resulted in a total drop in donations, so that at this point in 2023 the website’s income is down 25% from last year, even though my traffic continues to be robust, in the range of four to five million hits per month. I am therefore forced to run this July campaign for the full four weeks, unless the donations and new subscriptions in the next few weeks make up this difference.

Please consider supporting my work, by using one of four methods (Zelle, Patreon, Paypal, or check) described in the tip jar elsewhere on this page. I take no advertisements nor accept any sponsors in order to keep the website clean, easy to read, and to avoid any accusations of conflict of interest. Your support leaves me entirely independent, able to say whatever I think while being free from censorship or reprisals.

Unless Congress acts soon, the unelected administrative state will rule unopposed

A dying document
A dying document

While much of the conservative press has been focusing on the illegal abuse of power by security agencies like the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Justice, in the past week a whole slew of stories having nothing to do with election politics or Donald Trump have even more starkly illustrated the growing power of the many alphabet agencies of the federal government’s executive branch, power that is cancelling the real constitutional power of Congress — even as Congress looks on impotently.

Unlike abusive and illegal indictments of Trump, or evidence that the Justice Department and FBI are acting to protect Joe Biden and his son Hunter, however, these others stories have generally gone unnoticed, except by your intrepid reporter here at Behind the Black.

First, on July 26th we had the Space Force proposing new regulations that would allow it to literally take control over all private space assets in any declared international emergency, without any need to compensate the owners.

The Space Force’s draft framework for how commercial satellite services could be called up in times of crisis or conflict to support military missions would allow the Defense Department to deny participating companies the right to sell their wares to any other client in times of “war, major conflict, national or international emergency.” [emphasis mine]

What is the point of owning anything if the U.S. military has the power to simply steal it from you, without paying you for it, anytime any president or Congress on a whim decides to declare an international emergency? Such declarations were once rare, but now they happen routinely, with dire consequences for private citizens, as we all learned during the COVID panic.

On that same day we also learned that the FAA has refused to allow the private company Varda from bringing back to Earth a capsule it had launched to space several months ago, with the express intent to manufacture needed pharmaceuticals in weightlessness that can’t be made on Earth.
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Scientists increasingly put politics over uncertainty in their research papers

The modern scientific method
The modern scientific method

The death of uncertainty in science: According to a paper published this week in the peer-review journal Science, scientists in recent years are increasingly abandoning uncertainty in their research papers and are instead more willing to make claims of absolute certainty without hesitation or even proof.

If this trend holds across the scientific literature, it suggests a worrisome rise of unreliable, exaggerated claims, some observers say. Hedging and avoiding overconfidence “are vital to communicating what one’s data can actually say and what it merely implies,” says Melissa Wheeler, a social psychologist at the Swinburne University of Technology who was not involved in the study. “If academic writing becomes more about the rhetoric … it will become more difficult for readers to decipher what is groundbreaking and truly novel.”

The new analysis, one of the largest of its kind, examined more than 2600 research articles published from 1997 to 2021 in Science, which the team chose because it publishes articles from multiple disciplines. (Science’s news team is independent from the editorial side.) The team searched the papers for about 50 terms such as “could,” “appear to,” “approximately,” and “seem.” The frequency of these hedging words dropped from 115.8 instances per 10,000 words in 1997 to 67.42 per 10,000 words in 2021.

Those numbers represent a 40% decline, a trend that has been clear for decades, first becoming obvious in the climate field. » Read more

Democrats now favor oppression and censorship by almost 3 to 1

Key result from Pew survey
Click for original image.

Blacklists are back and the Democrats have got ’em: A poll released this week by the Pew Research Center has starkly revealed the dark oppressive mentality that now dominates supporters of the Democratic Party, and makes possible the enthusiasm for blacklisting and censorship by its leadership.

The graph to the right shows the big take-away from the poll, as indicated by the arrows and the red box. Democrats now favor censorship by 70 to 28 percent, a major rise since 2018, when their attitude towards free speech was almost identical to Republicans. Since then, while Republican support for the First Amendment and freedom has remained largely stable and strong, Democrats have almost entirely abandoned these American ideals. As Pew notes:

There was virtually no difference between the parties in 2018, but the share of Democrats who support government intervention has grown from 40% in 2018 to 70% in 2023, while the share of Republicans who hold this view hasn’t changed much.

There is a similar gap between the shares of Democrats and Republicans who say technology companies should restrict false information online. A large majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (81%) support technology companies taking such steps, while about half of Republicans (48%) say the same. The share of Democrats who support technology companies taking these steps has also increased steadily since 2018.

These partisan gaps persist when it comes to restricting extremely violent content online. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that the U.S. government (71% vs. 48%, respectively) and tech companies (83% vs. 61%) should take steps to restrict violent content online even if it limits freedom of information.

I must add that this is not a poll of the politicians of the Democratic Party. It is a poll of that party’s supporters, its rank and file, its grass roots. And though the poll showed a rise in the willingness to censor across all age groups, the cause of that rise is clearly coming from Democrats. As noted by Alex Berenson,
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The grassroots revolt led by mothers

The Liberty Bell
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and the
inhabitants thereof.” Photo credit: William Zhang

Bring a gun to a knife fight: The recent upheavals at school board meetings over the effort by public school officials to insert pornography in elementary schools — against the will of parents — points to a revolution that is likely not to end until either the public schools change drastically, or die because parent cease sending their kids to these schools.

The ramifications however could extend far beyond the classroom.

This revolution is best illustrated by Moms for Liberty, a new organization only three years old that has grown to become a major political factor in school board elections, and thus by proxy a major influence on larger elections on the local, state, and even national level.

Nor have they restricted themselves to protesting at school board meetings. [Moms for Liberty] have endorsed and actively supported parent-friendly candidates for school board seats nationwide. In 2022, they supported 500 candidates, 275 of whom won. Moreover, their candidates took control of 17 school boards in California, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Moms for Liberty has now set its sights on school board elections in 2024, even as the organization enjoys rapidly growing conservative support and donor funding.

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The trench war continues in the Ukraine

The continuing trench war in Ukraine
For the original maps, go here (April 16, 2023)
and here (July 23, 2023).

My last full update on the Ukraine War, on April 17, 2023, was written about the time that the Russian winter offensive had ended (with generally empty results) and a counter-offensive by the Ukrainians was expected to begin.

At that time I concluded as follows:

The Ukrainians have no hope of getting [sufficient] military aid from the rest of the world. Unless the Russians can bring [vastly larger] numbers to this battlefield, something that seems unlikely based on the present political situation in Russia, it now appears that this war is devolving into a World War I-style trench war. Neither side can make any significant gains militarily, and neither side is willing to negotiate a settlement.

Based on that assessment, I expected the Ukrainian spring/summer offensive to be as ineffective as the Russian winter campaign. This has proven true. The map above, adapted from maps created by the Institute for the Study of War, illustrates the general lack of change in either direction along the entire northern frontline. Though the Ukraine has made some minor gains north and south of Bakmut (as noted in ISW’s July 23, 2023 update), it has not succeeded in recapturing the city. Meanwhile, the Russians have made some minor gains to the north, west of the cities Svatova and Kreminna.

Similarly, though the Ukraine has made some small gains along the southern frontline (compare this April 16th map with this July 23rd map), none of those gains have been of any great significance. The Ukraine’s long pause in offensive operations, from November 2022 until April 2023, allowed the Russians to build a deep and extensive defensive set-up, including many minefields that have slowed Ukrainian advances to barely a crawl.

In addition, it appears that the flooding from the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in the south has almost entirely benefited the Russians, blocking what appears to have been a major Ukrainian plan to invade across the Dneiper River. Since the dam break, the Ukraine has been pushing at the one major bridge still standing, but with no real success. Since the Ukrainians do not appear to have the ability to make an amphibious assault, the Russians need only defend this one bridge, and have so far been able to.

In its June 14, 2023 update, ISW noted the following about the Russian defensive setup:
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Weekend repost: The Democratic Party of thugs and goons

The effort by Democrats to censor Democrat Robert Kennedy from speaking at a House hearing on July 20, 2023 focused expressly on documenting censorship and blacklisting not only illustrated the ugly totalitarian nature of the Democratic Party, it also illustrated their utter lack of self-awareness as well as their inability to think, in any way at all.

The moment he started talking, the Democrats went into censorship mode by making motions to censor Kennedy, points of order, accusations, and finally a vote to table Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s (D-Fla.) motion to cancel Kennedy’s “testimony and degradation” and put it behind closed doors so the poor American people would not be subjected to words spoken by Joe Biden’s primary opponent.

Their actions at that hearing are not exceptions to the rule, however, they are the rule. In order to make this fact clear, I think it worthwhile reposting an August 2022 essay, which documented their long term goonish storm-trooper behavior. It didn’t just start at that hearing, it has been going on for a long time.

The Democratic Party of thugs and goons

Rick, stating the truth in Casablanca
Will the Trump raid finally wake Americans up?

While the outrage and fury has only begun to rise over the unjustified raid of the home of former President Donald Trump yesterday by the FBI, ordered by Biden Justice Department with a warrant issued by an Obama-supporting judge with ties to Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex operation, nothing about that raid was anything new or startling. For the past seven years, since Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, the Democratic Party and its supporters have increasingly acted like Nazi storm-troopers, willing, able, and eager to crush their opponents at every opportunity, and to do so cruelly and with great viciousness.

I therefore ask, shouldn’t we have exhibited the same amount of rage and fury for the hundreds and hundreds of ordinary Americans these same thugs have harassed and ruined since 2016? Why did it take a raid on Trump to finally bring that rage to the forefront?

Two Americans committed suicide because of Biden administration persecution after they dared protest the questionable election of Joe Biden on January 6th. What about them?

Scores of conservative FBI agents in the past two years have been fired from their jobs, simply because they did not agree politically with the Democrats. What about them?

What about the arrest by the FBI of a Republican candidate for Michigan governor, simply because he had also protested on January 6th the questionable election of thug Joe Biden? Or the threats of violence and murder against Supreme Court justices by leftist Democratic Party allies?

What about the effort by Biden’s labor board to shut down the conservative outlet The Federalist, simply because its founder sent out an anti-union joke?

What about the former Trump lawyer whose career was destroyed, simply because he was a former lawyer of Trump?

These stories are only a small sampling of the political abuses of power exercised by Democrats and the Biden administration time after time against their political opponents in just the last eighteen months. The list is long and painful to read.
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Repost: Freedom is under siege, and the besiegers have now told us they have no mercy

Earlier today I posted a news item about the failure theater of Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz making a motion to “favorably” report the Biden administration’s FCC nominations for a full vote in the Senate, even as Cruz at the same time stated he was against their nomination. This absurd lack of real fight now prompts me to add this quick comment, and a repost of a January 2022 essay.

In that essay I quoted the words that open each volume of Winston Churchill’s memoirs of World War II:

In War: Resolution
In Defeat: Defiance
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will

Cruz’s actions are typical of our conservative leadership for decades. They are good at magnanimity and good will, but know nothing of resolution or defiance. To them, there is no war, and defeat is really just another word for victory.

We are in a war however, and we have been losing that war now for more than a century. We have reached a point where a sizeable part of the American population thinks it is okay to imprison its opponents, even as it firmly supports censorship and blacklisting.

Fortunately, more and more Americans recognize this, and are no longer easily fooled by Republican failure theater. As a reminder to help strengthen that resolve and to remind the fence-sitters of the real war we are in, a war that now requires resolution and defiance by all who value freedom, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the rule of law, I give you my January 2022 essay, which outlined starkly what the other side wants:

Freedom is under siege, and the besiegers have now told us they have no mercy

Liberty under siege
Liberty under siege.

For many years I deeply and sincerely believed that many rank-and-file Democrat voters honestly did not know how corrupt and power-hungry the political leaders of their party had become. I thought that if I could simply get them to see the clear evidence of misbehavior and abuse of power that has been going on in the Democratic Party without check since Bill Clinton was president, they would reconsider their voting habits and abandon their support of that party.

I thought that the vast majority of Democrats were decent people who opposed oppression and intolerance and simply were unaware that they were voting for it when they supported the Democratic Party.

I now know unequivocally that I was wrong. Two stories in the past week illustrate bluntly that a large number of ordinary Democrats, maybe even a majority, are eager supporters of oppression and intolerance and dictatorship. They like the corruption and abuse-of-power coming from Democratic Party politicians. They even want more of it.
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The coming rise of an American royal class, as incompetent and as privileged as all past royalists

A modern Ivy League education: “But Brawndo’s got what plants crave.
It’s got electrolytes!”

The move by the general public away from public schools and universities has become well documented. I have noted this movement in a number of essays, the most recent of which in February showed with ample evidence that these government schools have done such an excellent job of smearing their own reputations so thoroughly that parents and students are fleeing from them in record-breaking and unprecedented numbers.

Similarly, Glenn Reynolds in an essay last week about the recent Supreme Court decision outlawing the use of racial quotas in universities noted this trend as well, and how the Court’s ruling only reinforced the decision by many to avoid these institutions and their routine bigotry.

[W]ho trusts higher education anymore? At the turn of the millennium, when Grutter [a 2003 Supreme Court decision that narrowly allowed university racial quotas] was decided, American higher ed was at its zenith. Since then a series of scandals – just today a famous “ethicist” at Harvard was charged with fraudulent ethics research – has undermined its reputation for probity (and the Hollywood admissions scandal of a few years back certainly undermined the perceived integrity of its admissions process), even as everything else about universities came to seem less serious. With 57 genders, coloring books and crying rooms for election results, endless crusades against “whiteness” and “heterosexism,” and the like, the notion of deferring to the educational seriousness and expertise of those in charge of the asylums of higher ed seemed much less appealing. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make ridiculous. But higher education has supplied the ridiculousness itself.

Both Reynolds and I missed however a much more fundamental point that was then made by one of the commenters to his essay. It isn’t so much that ordinary people are fleeing established universities for other colleges, it is that ordinary people are deciding in increasing numbers to forego a college education entirely, concluding that it is a waste of time. As this commenter noted:
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Why we really celebrate the Fourth of July

I posted this essay last year on July 4th. Time to repost it. I must add that my hopes for the November 2022 election were not realized, and we are now on the brink of losing our free country, forever, a fact that horrifies me beyond words.

Why we really celebrate the Fourth of July

The Declaration of Independence

If you really want to know why the Fourth of July has been the quintessential American holiday since the founding our this country, you need only return to the words of the document that became public to the world on that day.

Below the fold is the full text of the Declaration. Read it. It isn’t hard to understand, even if the style comes from the late 1700s. Its point however is clear. Governments that abuse the rights of the citizenry don’t deserve to be in power. The most important quote of course is right near the beginning:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. [emphasis mine]

What a radical concept — a nation founded on the principle of allowing its citizens to pursue happiness.

Right now, however, we have a federal government in America that more fits the description of King George III’s Great Britain in 1776 in the Declaration. The corrupt elitist uni-Party of federal elected officials and the federal bureaucracy in Washington has for too long run roughshod over the general population. If you take the time to read the full text of the Declaration, you will be astonished at the remarkable conceptual similarity between the abuses that Jefferson describes coming from Great Britain and the many abuses of power that are now legion and common by the uni-Party in Washington.

When November comes the American public will likely have its last chance to overthrow the political wing of the uni-Party, led by the Democratic Party. The Republicans are no saints, but at least that party contains within it many decent politicians who honor the Constitution, the rule of law, and the Bill of Rights. Many are right now campaigning on those ideals. Based on the past six years, we now know that no one in the Democratic Party honors those values. What they honor is blacklisting, racism, segregation, anti-American hate, and above all power. If they are not removed from office, they will ramp up that power, in league with quislings like Romney and Cornyn in the Republican Party, to further corrupt our Constitutional government.

These people do not like losing power. The longer they hold it, the more they will work to undermine the election system to make sure they do not lose. The corruption and election fraud in 2020 election was merely a dress rehearsal of what these goons will do if they have the chance next year.

In fact, November 2022 might very well be the last election that has any chance of producing legitimate results. Americans had better not waste this last chance.
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Sunspot update: June saw the most sunspots in more than two decades

Time for our monthly sunspot update, based on NOAA’s monthly graph that tracks the number of sunspots on the Sun’s Earth-facing hemisphere. I have posted that graph below, but have added some extra details to provide some context.

June saw the highest sunspot count in a month since September 2002, when the Sun was just beginning its ramp down after its solar maximum that reached its peak in late 2001. From that time until now, the Sun has been in a very prolonged quiet period, with two solar minimums that were overly long and a single solar maximum that was very weak with a extended double peak lasting almost four years.
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The insidious presence of porn in K-12 public schools

The Harrisonburg school board
The Harrisonburg school board and its superintendent, just one of many
school boards nationwide that have been promoting the queer agenda to little
kids, against the wishes of parents.

In the past three years it has become routine to see stories almost weekly of school board meetings where parents arrive en masse complaining loudly about the pornography they have discovered openly available in school libraries. Similarly, there are numerous other stories of public school teachers and programs eagerly promoting the queer agenda in the classroom, sometimes doing so secretly when faced with parental opposition.

The situation however is far more insidious than suggested by these stories alone. It seems that this issue has been building for a long time, unnoticed by parents and kept quiet by school officials and teachers as they introduced these materials widely in school curriculums and libraries.

For example, why is it that these pornography books, clearly written to appeal to young minds, have appeared so widely in so many schools throughout the nation? The books haven’t just appeared in states controlled by Democrats, but many places, from Florida to Arizona to Georgia to Michigan to Pennsylvania to Maine to Rhode Island to Wisconsin to Virginia. It seems absurdly impossible that so many different and widely spaced school systems would so completely and all at once accept such graphic sexual materials, written for children under twelve.

And yet, these books have been purchased by schools everywhere, in every state in the union. Such widespread eagerness suggests a strong organized effort within the education community to promote the teaching of sex to little kids. This is confirmed by a review of the queer agenda books recommended to teachers and schools by Scholastic, which is one of the main sources for school librarians. From its own webpage, celebrating the queer agenda:
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Will the wreck of the submersible Titan and the death of its five passengers impact space tourism?

OceanGate's Titan submersible
OceanGate’s Titan submersible

Three articles today all asked the same question as I pose above in the headline, noting the similarity in the business model of the deepsea tourism company OceanGate Expeditions and the burgeoning space tourism business, including both suborbital and orbital flights.

Without question there will be many more such articles in the coming days, as more information is gathered about what caused the failure of the Titan. As these three articles do, all will note the similarities and differences between deep sea tourism and space tourism.

First the differences. » Read more

Biden administration announces India will sign Artemis Accords

Modi meeting Biden upon arrival at White House June 21, 2023
Modi meeting Biden upon arrival at White House
on June 21, 2023

As part of the visit of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to the U.S., the Biden administration today announced that India has agreed to sign Artemis Accords, becoming the 27th nation to join the American space alliance.

It appears India made this decision after the Biden administration agreed to foster a whole range of cooperative technology exchanges.

Cooperation in advanced computing, artificial intelligence, and quantum information science is also being fostered through the establishment of a joint Indo-US quantum coordination mechanism and the signing of an implementation arrangement on artificial intelligence, advanced wireless, and quantum technologies.

Both countries are working together on 5G and 6G technologies, including Open Radio Access Network (RAN) systems, with plans for field trials, rollouts, and scale deployments in both markets. “Here we’ll be announcing partnerships on open ran, field trials and rollouts, including scale deployments in both countries with operators and vendors of both markets. This will involve backing from the US International Development Finance, for cooperation and to promote the deployments in India,” the official said.

The US will support the removal of telecommunications equipment made by untrusted vendors through the US rip and replace program and welcomes Indian participation in this initiative.

The full list of signatories to the Artemis Accords is now as follows: Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the Ukraine, and the United States.

One would hope that this decision would help separate India from China and Russia, but this is unclear.

There are other questions. » Read more

Greta Thunberg: All humanity is now extinct on Earth, because we didn’t do anything about global warming

Greta Thunberg speaks!
Greta Thunberg speaks!

How dare you! On June 21, 2018, Greta Thunberg informed us — as shown in her tweet to the right — that we only had five years left to stop using fossil fuels, and if we didn’t “climate change will wipe out all of humanity.”

I am hardly the only person to note this example of global warming fraudulence. Numerous reporters have also gleefully noted it, with this essay today at American Thinker by Andrea Widburg probably the most damning, not so much for noting the ignorant rantings of this uneducated high school drop-out whom the left made their icon of knowledge and top global warming expert, but for the list she provides of the endless number of other failed doomsday predictions by global warming activists and politicians.

That list was compiled in 2019, and thus it did not yet include Thunberg’s absurd prediction. Nor did it include the endless string of additional false doomsday predictions that this crowd has continued to issue in the years since, all of which I guarantee without any uncertainty will all fail, just as their hundreds of past doomsday predictions have failed.

You see, the point of those predictions was not to educate, but to instill fear, so as to then justify a power grab by the government. As Widburg concludes:
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