This was a historic day in a historic week. This afternoon, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to the Supreme Court. “For too long, our government, our courts haven’t looked like America,” Biden said in a speech introducing Jackson. “I believe it’s time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.”
Let’s be completely clear:
The opposition to Justice Brown is purely racist and sexist.
The central reason anyone has a problem with this fabulous woman is because she is not white, because she is not a man, and because she stands for democracy and for diversity, and not for the Neanderthal society that keeps whites in charge, keeps men in charge, keeps straights in charge, keeps rich people in charge, and keeps Christians in charge (thank you Christy for the last one).
Welcome to the Confederacy, Marsha Blackburn, you are just another person who might as well be a KKK supporter.
Ukraine is alone. The people do not know how they will survive.
Last night, on The Rachel Maddow Show, a man spoke with Rachel, a restaurant owner who is living with some neighbors in the basement of their apartment building, which was bombed by the Russian military. He said that he didn’t know whether to stay in Kyiv or to leave. ‘No place is safe.’ He asked the people of the world to help Ukraine. ‘We are a small country. We cannot match …’
‘Please, don’t be silent.’
‘My friends are in basements, in flight, and under fire. Help.’
By Timothy Snyder
‘Yesterday I sent out a list of charities and NGOs who are helping Ukrainians during Russia’s senseless and murderous invasion. Some of you asked for places where you could use your credit cards instead of bank transfers. The below list are international charities working in Ukraine who can take donations from credit cards:’
Libereco Partnership for Human Rights, evacuation and medical assistance
Caritas, humanitarian assistance
Malteser International, evacuation assistance. (Make sure you have selected "Ukraine")
‘And then others of you were intrigued by the mention of the crowdsourcing of the Ukrainian army. If you want to do that, go to
To fund protective and other defensive gear for the Ukrainian army, go to
Please help them.
A wonderful, inspiring letter Professor Richardson, thank you. I salute the Ukrainian people and their brave leader. I think of Allen who wrote here the past two days and I hope he’s safe with his wife and dog Lucky! I keep thinking of him and so many like him. Photos of women and children in hiding, the resignation of the little ones in contrast to our privileged schoolchildren in America who must not be made “uncomfortable” by what they are taught… it’s sickening. But as usual, Heather gives me a ray of hope.
Open letter from Russian scientists and researchers, published in Le Monde - I've found an English-language article about it. A quick quote: "Following the invasion, scientists in Russia swiftly circulated the letter, which was then published on TrV-Nauka – an independent Russian science news site. The letter states that having unleashed war, Russia has “doomed itself” to international isolation and to the position of a “pariah country”.
“This means that we, scientists, will no longer be able to do our job normally: after all, conducting scientific research is unthinkable without full cooperation with colleagues from other countries,” the letter states, adding that the isolation would result in further “cultural and technological degradation” of Russia with the war with Ukraine representing a “step to nowhere”.
“We respect Ukrainian statehood, which rests on really working democratic institutions,” the letter states. “We treat the European choice of our neighbours with understanding. We are convinced that all problems in relations between our countries can be resolved peacefully.”
Link to the article: https://physicsworld.com/a/russian-scientists-condemn-ukraine-invasion-as-international-projects-and-meetings-thrown-into-doubt/
"The Ghost of Kyiv" is entirely possible, since there are Ukrainian fighter pilots who have been trained at Top Gun, according to a good friend of mine who is a former commander of the training school and "in a position to know these things."
While so much anguish fills Ukraine, I love that the hopes and spirit of her people soar high above all of Putin's madness to manifest themselves in the courage and bravery of the Ghost of Kyiv!
"The Ukraine resistance has given rise to the Ghost of Kyiv, a fighter pilot who may or may not be real, and who may or may not be a woman, and who has shot down six Russian planes. Such a superhuman legend symbolizes Ukraine’s people this terrible week."
Thank you, Heather, for leaving us with this strengthening image.
My heart is with Allen, Tanya, and Lucky, the Ukrainian people, the 1800 Russians who were arrested for their anti-war protests, and all the innocents who suffer under autocratic governments around the world. Sending them love and light.
"...[the EU] and Britain froze the European assets of Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov..."
Something that will affect far more Russian oligarchs than just those two:
"Feb 25 (Reuters) - British transport minister Grant Shapps said in a tweet on Friday that no Russian private jet can fly in UK airspace or touch down, effective immediately."
Owning property in a stable country such as the UK is a classic method for laundering the proceeds of crime. It must be humiliating to have to use public transport to visit estates owned by Russian oligarchs.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is an excellent choice. Contrary to Senator Marsha Blackburn, I actually took solace that Biden was moving ahead despite the war in Ukraine - without hesitation, it is exactly what should be done! I suppose the republicans are now going to say there isn't enough time left in Biden's presidency.
The war in Ukraine is disturbing on so many levels and distressing for what the future might hold. Putin may have overplayed his hand but he is not going to back off (and lose face) no matter how much destruction is done or how many lives are taken and destroyed. Once again a narcissistic madman wreaks havoc. In today's world, there are enough unhinged people in power where the tactical use of nuclear weapons is a hair raising reality.
The current price of oil (presumably also natural gas) should support all manner of alternatives to Russia's supply, provided the infrastructure to distribute it from other sources is there. I don't see why the US is withholding its leverage over this international system of money transfer. There's a full scale war going on in the Ukraine; what more provocation is needed to lock up their access to cash from the sale of oil and gas?
The world is full of guns for hire; why not funnel money to mercenaries who will fight alongside Ukrainians? It'll be awhile before we learn what our CIA, Britains secret service and other clandestine arms of other countries are doing during this time, but you can bet your last dollar that they are playing some sort of role, very likely in the cyber-realm.
Our MAGA crowd has now shot themselves in the foot so often it's a wonder they have any feet left at all as they publically admire Putin and label Biden "weak" when the US has galvanized all of Europe and other allied nations into coordinate sanctions against Russia. The GOP has boxed itself into a corner when it's only agenda is to criticize everything that Biden says and does, even when those things might otherwise fit nicely into a republican agenda. I feel terrible for Ukrainians, but oddly thankful for something "real" to draw our attention as an alternative to the endless drone of US national politics over the last 18 months or so.
From my current vantage point in Athens, studying Greek in the same time zone as Kyiv, it’s clear many Euro-Americans have become interested in The Current International Affair.
They marvel at what they try to imagine: modern warfare conducted in a European metropolitan area. They think they might be able to relate. “What would I do …?”
I wonder if many of them know what they’re witnessing.
The Euro-American economic system is based on the Big Lie that promises the freedom of massive overconsumption, as a proxy for progress toward social justice, for everyone. This is to be achieved through unsustainably endless economic expansion and technological innovation, providing a constantly growing pool of cheaper and cheaper consumer goods, and allowing all to enjoy the dream - if rarely the reality - of constantly increased access to those goods.
The inevitable outcome of this system is now clear: It is the destruction of the planet in our lifetimes, while producing deepening and irreversible inequality as its primary design feature. It’s ultimate end state is oligarchic, authoritarian Euro-American states, spinning into autocracy, on a dying planet. The ongoing pandemic has provided the cover in many Euro-American states to accelerate this process.
The difficulty in coming to this realization, is that there is nothing in human history or philosophy that has any possibility of successfully replacing it.
It’s not just that the current false ideology of “Freedom through Capitalism” is too deeply embedded in nearly every human being’s DNA for it to be challenged as The Way We Want Things To Be.
It’s also that everything humans have considered and tried to date - every other “-ism” known to humans - has produced, far more quickly, only even greater autocracy than the current system.
This doesn’t make Capitalism (especially when combined with the Abrahamic religions) the better system. It only makes it the more successful “con game” than all the others. It has the key feature of all successful cons:
The “mark” WANTS to believe.
We WANT to believe that we are free. And we are happy to confuse “freedom” with overconsumption, and with speaking without risking sanction (and frankly, not much else), especially when we are disappointed at our failure to access what we believe to be our entitlement to a constantly expanding pool of consumer goods.
Now, today, we add to this “con” in which we are willing “marks” the collapse of the international architecture that had assured the Euro-American populations of an absence of modern warfare on our national territories, in facilitation of the global extension of the “con.” (Even while we repeatedly conducted war all around the globe to control the resources required to sustain endless economic expansion for those lucky enough to reside in the Euro-American land masses, all the while convincing those being victimized that they, too, should want what we have.)
All this changed on February 24, 2022.
Yes, many know that The Rules For International Conduct as enshrined in such aspirational documents as the UN Charter, were unenforceable, and that the P-5 only pretended - unconvincingly - to abide by them. Especially the P-5 member whom I served my entire working life.
Above all others, the US pretense was the most brazen, painting our thievery as being within something we called The Rule Of Law. But when your stick swings in the widest arc, you know folks will likely stand back so’s not to get accidentally bonked on the head.
All the P-5 were clear that the place where we had to abide by the letter of the rules - no pretense - was Where White People Rule. The violent disintegration of my ancestral homeland (Grandpa was a Serb) we could accommodate under ideals of self determination. And intervene as P-5s when the determination seemed overzealous.
But no P-5 member sought territory through the intervention. Only the loosest of client relationships were pursued (and after all, one must choose carefully one’s clients - hence very few EU members to date have come from that pool).
Even a professional thief knows that stealing is against the law. And knows WHY it’s against the law. And perhaps avoids targeting his fellow thieves.
After testing The Rules in 2008 (Georgia) and 2014 (Crimea), and seen a response that amounted to pearl-clutching from a Euro-America addicted to his primary exports of fossil fuels and filthy money (often the same things), one P-5 member has now torn The Rules to shreds.
He has stated he’s ready to target his fellow thieves. He has stated it explicitly, via international broadcast media, for everyone to see and hear. No pretense here.
And if between-the-lines reading is allowed (along with interpretive dance), what he said was:
Three of you P-5s were covertly thieving in my plot. After already stealing three of my handsome baubles (the Baltics), and denying me the use of some problematic but much juicier chunks of What Was Mine (the Central European former Soviet Bloc).
So. F**k. You.
However one assesses the value of everyone pretending to obey the rules, there was at least the convention that said, “The Rules Exist.”
Even a thief knows it is against the law to steal.
As of 5AM local time on 24 FEB 2022, there is no longer a rule that says P-5s cannot invade other Places Where White People Rule in order to take territory.
A P-5 member has done at the international level what The Last POTUS did domestically to the US:
There are no longer any norms for political or international behavior.
In short: The white people who rule the Euro-American land masses and have been thieving the rest of the world blind, in order that a tiny handful of them can be pornographically rich, with everyone else employed in the service of that minority, will now be tearing out each other’s throats in Europe while melting down their dysfunctional economies, without even the pretense of constraining rules by which to abide, delivering power into the hands of homegrown dictators, and rendering the Earth uninhabitable - all within the next 50 years. Charitably figured.
Which leaves us all with the question:
It’s gonna be exciting.
US State Department Foreign Service Officer (ret.)
Snake Island defenders, all 13 of them Ukrainian, when confronted by a Russian warship demanding surrender: “Russian warship: go F*** yourself.”
FROM CATHERINE THE GREAT TO PUTIN THE INGRATE
(Russian/Soviet/Russian history in five minutes)
Oh whatever glorious times for a poor German princess who became Catherine the Great. Initially it was not an easy journey. She slept through much of it—it might be called upward sleeping, because she chose her lovers carefully.
Eventually she became empress consort and her husband became emperor, which displeased her. She soon arranged for his ‘displacement’ (and convenient sudden death). Whether one of her lovers was involved in this royal switcharoo is unclear.
Catherine the Great was well read, a regal power, and well bedded. She was gracious to her former lovers, one of whom became king of Poland. Over her reign, through military victories and political legerdemain, she significantly expanded Russian territory. An admirer of Voltaire, she sparked the Russian Enlightenment. Russia was considered a great power. Education was touched with English pedagogy.
The serfs fared less well, There were various serf revolts, to which she responded unkindly. She had the habit, on royal occasions, of giving away up-to-100,000 serfs to favorite members of the nobility.
On balance the rule of Catherine was successful. Since then there have been major ups and downs in Russian history, including the assassination of the entire royal family soon after the Soviets seized power.
Stalin liked to kill and take countries. After his compadres let him die came Khrushchev, whose folky and volatile style obliged the Politburo to oust, but not kill, him. Brezhnev was boring and took years to die a slow death. The next several Russian leaders were sickly and soon died, passing the baton to a new type of communist—Gorbachev.
Gorby and Ronnie worked towards ending the Cold War. Gorby’ s efforts to retain communism and the Soviet empire while trying to transform the Russian economy went less well. An alcoholic jerk named Yeltsin pushed Gorby aside and, with the help of oligarchs, sought to govern. When Yeltsin started fading fast, he selected a once-obscure KGB officer as his successor.
Putin has ruled and then reigned since 2000. His first few years went quite well. Then he got quite full of himself and sought to become authoritarian, emulating such past Russian leaders as Ivan the Terrible.
Over time Putin seemed to care less and less about the Russian economy and the Russian people and more and more about himself. He attacked neighboring areas and savored the bloody results. He relished being among the Big Boys and was distressed that he wasn’t treated as a Russian emperor.
A growing fixation was his belief that the break up of the Soviet empire was ‘the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.’ Stealthily and then more callously he sought to restore Russian hegemony in ex-Soviet satellite states. The core of his Greater Russia was Russia/Belarus/Ukraine. Recently the leader of Belarus, who lost re-election, but ignored the results, slithered into Putin’s arm pit.
Ukraine was a less happy saga. A pro-Russian leader was forced out after massive protests. The pro-Western tenor of subsequent Ukrainian governments caused Putin increasing displeasure.
Personal pique led him to deliver an ultimatum:
1) the West must get its ass out of Eastern Europe;
2) Everyone must acknowledge Russian hegemony over the ex-Soviet satellite states; and
3) a Ukrainian military invasion was his Damocles sword, if he didn’t get 1) and 2).
Subsequently things haven’t worked out as he had imagined. Unable to accept the humiliation of public failure, Putin initiated a massive invasion of Ukraine. Depending on how this plays out in coming months and years, he could become Putin the Ingrate, which is quite distinct from Catherine the Great.
I am struck by the heroism of those Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island who, facing their inevitable deaths, still told a Russian warship where to go.
I am awed by the courage and bravery of President Zelenskyy who despite knowing that he has been marked for death, is still in Kyiv, leading his people.
Dr. Richardson, this is a stellar letter which is packed with inspiration on so many levels. Many thanks.
In rough terms, Russia invading the Ukraine could be Mexico invading California.
(per population; if you want to get technical, Mexico + Guatemala)
Think about that analogy. California was once part of Mexico. In Southern California, when I am working down there, I am the only person in my industry who is not fluent in Spanish.
There have been reports that Putin is so lost in his bubble that he thought Ukrainians were on his side. Obviously he expects that they want a return to the Soviet-era dictatorship that he still lives inside of, in his head, a delusion supreme. This guy has lost it.
Remember those stories of Japanese soldiers lost in the jungle somewhere in Southeast Asia, who thought the war was still going on decades later?