Putin Brings Back The Draft — And Nukes
September 22, 2022
Drafting At Straws
Russian President Vladimir Putin fully committed to his new role as world enemy number one Wednesday, ordering the mobilization of Russian reservists and bringing the threat of the nuclear option to the table in the same speech. The escalation comes as Russia’s invasion loses gas in Ukraine, facing manpower shortages and territory losses.
“Russia will use all the instruments at its disposal to counter a threat against its territorial integrity – this is not a bluff,” stated Putin in a national address. In his speech, he also claimed, without evidence, that NATO powers supported the use of nuclear weapons against his country, and that attacks on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear-power plant were actually carried out by Ukrainian forces. “To those who allow themselves such statements, I would like to remind them, Russia also has many types of weapons of destruction, the components of which in some cases are more modern than those of the countries of NATO,” his threats continued.
Russia’s mobilization, the country’s first such action since World War 2, would call up 300,000 reservists and specialists for Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine. As for Putin waving around the nuclear option, experts remain skeptical. “The nuclear threat has been taken seriously from the outset, but you have to combine taking it seriously with not being intimidated by the mere mention of nuclear weapons,” said Matthew Harries, director of proliferation and nuclear policy at the Royal United Services Institute. Others believe Russia might use a smaller nuke on a key battlefield in Ukraine instead of launching a larger intercontinental missile.
In response to the reserve mobilization, Russia’s western neighbors look to be forcing the country to deal with the repercussions of its actions. Both Latvia and Finland have stated that any Russians fleeing the country would not be welcome in either nation. While both independent and state surveys still show that a majority of Russians support the invasion, enthusiasm for the annexation of Ukraine seems to have waned, especially since the annexation of Crimea eight years ago. (WSJ ($), Al Jazeera)
Some Good News
- Denmark first U.N. member to pay for ‘loss and damage’ from climate change (WaPo, $)
- Prisoners will soon be eligible for federal grants, opening new educational opportunities (PBS)
Are you registered to vote? Check your voter registration deadline for the midterm elections!
More Like Mortality Police
- Protests swept across Iran Tuesday night in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of a government unit literally named the morality police. Ordinary people aired their grievances with the Iranian government’s economic and social policies, and multiple clashes with government security forces ended in the deaths of up to seven people.
- The protests are the largest the country has seen since a gas price hike in 2019. Amini, the young woman whose death sparked the protests, was arrested by the morality police for wearing her hijab incorrectly last Tuesday before she died on Friday at a “re-education” center after suffering a “heart attack” and falling into a coma, according to Iranian officials.
- Her family reportedly stated that she had no pre-existing heart condition. Protests have continued into their fifth day with no signs of stopping. (CNN)
We Can Still Talk This Out
- As President Vladimir Putin ups the ante in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, his ally to the south is looking to de-escalate the conflict. In response to Putin’s reserve mobilization and threat of the nuclear option, China voiced its opinion that all parties involved in the situation should come together to work out the conflict diplomatically.
- “China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear,” stated Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin. “We call on the parties concerned to resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation and find a solution that accommodates all parties’ legitimate security concerns. We also hope the international community will create conditions and space for that.”
- The move comes as China softens its Taiwan rhetoric, calling for a peaceful “reunification” with the island nation after U.S. and Canadian warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait. Today, at least, China did not choose violence. (Reuters, NBC News)
Additional World News
- Uganda declares Ebola outbreak after finding rare strain (Axios)
- Europe burns cash to help businesses in energy crisis (Reuters)
- Young Palestinians Battle Israeli Troops and the Palestinian Authority, Deepening Unrest (WSJ, $)
- Exclusive: Turkey sells battle-tested drones to UAE as regional rivals mend ties (Reuters)
- A man sets himself on fire in an apparent protest of Japanese leader Abe’s funeral (NPR)
- Exclusive: NATO chief calls Putin’s nuclear threat a ‘dangerous’ escalation (Reuters)
- US dollar hits new 20-year high as Russia calls up reservists (CNN)
“The final test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.” – William Lyon Phelps
Fraudulently Funding Our Future
- 47 people have been charged for their part in a “brazen” pandemic fraud scheme. They are accused of creating companies that claimed to be offering food to tens of thousands of children across Minnesota, then seeking reimbursement for those meals through the USDA’s food nutrition programs.
- If you hadn’t already guessed the plot twist, very few meals were actually served. The money went to luxury cars, property, and jewelry – about $250 million worth. Andy Luger, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, said the government was billed for more than 125 million fake meals. Many of the companies were sponsored by the nonprofit Feeding Our Future, and its executive director Aimee Bock was among those indicted. (Guardian)
A Monumental Mural
- A man was arrested after vandalizing the Washington Monument on Tuesday. The area around the base of the monument was temporarily closed following the incident, as National Park Service conservators determined how to clean the statue.
- This wasn’t exactly a Banksy-level of artwork, unfortunately. A large splash of red paint was accompanied by the words “Have you been f***** by this … Gov says tough s***.” Police have not yet announced what charges face the artist. (NBC)
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Additional USA News
- New poll shows DeSantis leading Trump in hypothetical Florida primary (Axios)
- Judge Orders New Bankruptcy Officials in Alex Jones Case (NYT, $)
- Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane sentenced to 3 years in prison for aiding killing of George Floyd (CBS)
- Dan Cox takes aim at book that launched Wes Moore’s national profile (WaPo, $)
- Judge holds gun ban for felony defendants unconstitutional (AP)
- Panicked parents besiege Texas high school after report of shooting that turned out to be false (CBS)
- Rising homelessness is tearing California cities apart (Politico)
Raising Capital, Dropping Data
- Morgan Stanley’s website reads, “Morgan Stanley helps people, institutions and governments raise, manage and distribute the capital they need to achieve their goals.” In 2015, the finance firm went above and beyond distributing just capital, instead accidentally distributing the private data of around 15 million customers.
- On Tuesday, Morgan Stanley was slapped with a $35 million fine by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for “astonishing” and extensive failures to protect the personal information of its clients. The firm agreed to pay the fine without confirming nor denying the SEC’s findings. Morgan Stanley’s net revenue was $59.8 billion last year, up 23% year over year.
- One of Morgan Stanley’s security screw-ups highlighted by the SEC involved the firm hiring a moving company with “no experience or expertise” in data destruction to clean and destroy thousands of hard drives and servers holding customer information. Instead of removing the data from the drives, the moving company sold them to a third party, after which they ended up for sale online. Morgan Stanley eventually found and bought back the drives, which contained “thousands of pieces of unencrypted customer data,” according to the SEC. (CNN)
- 2 claim $1.34 billion Mega Millions lottery prize (CNN)
- Wait, Is Taylor Swift Just Giving Us Straight Answers? (Vulture)
- Smartphones and older users remain an uneasy match (Axios)
- U.S. health task force calls for routine anxiety screening in adults (WaPo, $)
- ‘This is what a river should look like’: Dutch rewilding project turns back the clock 500 years (Guardian)
- This Dangerous Meme in US Politics Is Over a Century Old (Wired)
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