Sunday, July 23, 2023

Last Call For Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Ukraine has already retaken about 50 percent of the territory seized by Russia and that the counteroffensive is still in its “relatively early days.”

“In terms of what Russia sought to achieve, what Putin sought to achieve, they’ve already failed. They’ve already lost. The objective was to erase Ukraine from the map, to eliminate its independence, its sovereignty, to subsume it into Russia. That failed a long time ago,” Blinken told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview on “GPS.”

“Now Ukraine is in a battle to get back more of the land that Russia seized from it. It’s already taken back about 50 percent of what was initially seized. Now they’re in a very hard fight to take back more,” Blinken said. “These are still relatively early days of the counteroffensive. It is tough.”

Blinken projected optimism about Ukraine’s prospects in the counteroffensive attack, which it launched after months of preparation to retake land that Russia seized. 
There's still a long way to go however.
While the counteroffensive started off strong, Ukraine’s progress has slowed as it has quickly gone through its munitions and has had to navigate Russian minefields.

“The Russians have put in place strong defenses, but I’m convinced that with the equipment and support they’ve received now from more than 50 countries, with the training that their forces have gotten, and many of the forces who’ve gotten that training have not yet been put fully into this fight — and maybe more than anything else, with the fact that unlike the Russians, Ukrainians are fighting for their land, for their future, for their country, for their freedom. I think that is the decisive element, and that’s going to play out,” Blinken said.

“But it will not play out over the next week or two. We’re still looking, I think, at several months,” he added. 
Remember that the EU has basically given Ukraine until September to show progress. This is definitely progress if Kyiv can keep and hold it. Besides, the EU has no choice if Moscow is blocking grain shipments out of Ukraine, and Putin this weekend all but threatened to invade Poland next.

President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused NATO member Poland of having territorial ambitions in the former Soviet Union, and said any aggression against Russia's neighbour and close ally Belarus would be considered an attack on Russia.

Moscow would react to any aggression against Belarus, which forms a loose "Union State" with Russia, "with all the means at our disposal", Putin told a meeting of his Security Council in televised remarks.

Warsaw's Security Committee decided on Wednesday to move military units to eastern Poland after members of the Russian Wagner mercenary force arrived in Belarus, the state-run news agency PAP quoted its secretary as saying on Friday.

Poland denies any territorial ambitions in Belarus.

In his remarks Putin had also stated that the western part of Poland was a gift from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to the country and that Russia would remind Poles about it.

In apparent reference to that, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted on Friday evening that "Stalin was a war criminal, guilty of the death of hundreds of thousands of Poles. Historical truth is not debatable."

"The ambassador of the Russian Federation will be summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs", he said.

On Thursday, Belarus said Wagner mercenaries had started to train Belarusian special forces at a military range just a few miles from the Polish border.
No wonder Putin is trying to distract everyone from how bad he's losing in Ukraine this summer.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

President Biden will announce the designation of three historical sites as part of the Emmett Till National Monument this week, marking what would have been Till's 82nd birthday on Tuesday.
The new monument will be established across three locations in Illinois and Mississippi in an effort to protect places that tell Till's story, as well as reflect the activism of his mother, who was instrumental in keeping the story of Till's murder alive.

In August 1955, two white men abducted, tortured and killed Till, a 14-year-old Black boy, after he whistled at a white shopkeeper's wife in a grocery store in Mississippi. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were acquitted but later confessed to the killing in a magazine. Fifty years after the crime, the shopkeeper's wife, Carolyn Bryant Donham, also admitted to lying about Till touching her.

Among the sites that will be honored is Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago, where Till's funeral service was held in September 1955.

About 1,700 people filled the church to its capacity, while 10,000 more stood outside and listened to the service over loudspeakers. The ceremony was also remembered for Till-Mobley's brave decision to keep the casket open, showing Till's mutilated body.

In Mississippi, Graball Landing will become a monument. Locals believe it is the spot where Till's body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River. In 2008, a memorial sign dedicated to Till was installed near the site.

But over the years, the sign was routinely stolen, vandalized or shot at and forced to be replaced. A fourth edition now stands at the site — this time bulletproof and details the history of vandalism.

The third monument location will be the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse, also in Mississippi, where Till's killers were acquitted by an all-white jury. In October 2007, Till's family visited the courthouse to receive an apology from the town's leaders.
The million-dollar question in a country where one party is dedicated to erasing the entire civil rights era of the last 60-plus years: Will the existence of this monument, the history of the events being marked, and the reasons why the monument is being created be taught in states like Florida at all, or is that illegal? 

Someone in our national media should ask Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, and the rest of the GOP field if they agree with the national monument designation and if it's appropriate to teach this history in schools.
Even ten years ago this wouldn't have been controversial at all. Teaching that a Black man was lynched by white folk on the word of a white girl in the lifetimes of even some of you reading this right now should absolutely be taught as a lesson, and a national monument marking this tragedy, serving as a solemn reminder of America's dark past, would be universally agreed upon as necessary to prevent it from ever happening again.

But of course one political party doesn't see it that way, and the people running for president in that party should be made to answer about why that is, and why that history is being erased under penalty of law.
Black Lives Still Matter.

Sunday Long Read: Chip, Shot

Brexit has been a catastrophic economic disaster for the UK, and things have gotten so bad in the last few years with price spikes in food, energy, and housing that even Scotland's most famous fish and chips shops are facing what one British economist calls "an extinction event." The Guardian's Tom Lamont has our Sunday Long Read:

One summer ago, before the region’s fish and chip industry was shaken by closures, before a death that was hard for people to bear, a lorry heaped with the first fresh potatoes of the season drove along the east coast of Scotland. This lorry wound its way along the East Neuk of Fife, dodging washing lines, mooring bollards and seagulls, parking with impunity to make deliveries. There was an understanding in the East Neuk that nobody would ever get angry and honk at the inbound “tattie” lorry, fish and chips being a staple meal, vital to the region’s economy. Tourists come shocking distances to sit on old harbour walls and stab around in takeaway trays with wooden forks. The fish and chips sold in the East Neuk might be the best in the British Isles and because of that (it follows) the best on the planet. Even so, by July 2022, local friers were finding it harder and harder to balance their books.

The driver of the tattie lorry, a red-cheeked Scotsman named Richard Murray, carried keys for most of the businesses on his route, to save from waking any tired friers who’d been up late the night before, poring anxiously over their sums. War in Ukraine coupled with ongoing complications from Brexit had driven up prices of almost all the goods that fish and chip shops depended on, from live ingredients to oil and salt to packaging. More distressing was the problem of rising energy costs. This meal is prepared using a great guzzler of a range cooker that must be kept on and roiling at all hours of a trading day. As the price of gas and electricity threatened to double, then triple, through 2022, friers were opening their energy bills with gritted teeth. A trade association called the National Federation of Fish Friers said that as many as a third of the UK’s 10,500 shops might go dark, warning of a potential “extinction event”.

It was about 8am when Murray drove his tattie lorry into a village called Pittenweem. He was met on the road by Alec Wyse, a skilled frier, 59 years old and known as Eck, who ran a takeaway called the Pittenweem Fish Bar. The tiny shop had been bought by Wyse’s father using money from the sale of a family fishing boat. There were nautical portraits on the walls. A peg-letter menu listed eight unchanging menu items, one of which was described in its entirety as “FISH”. Working together, Wyse and Murray unloaded sacks of potatoes from the lorry, carrying them inside on their shoulders.

A mile along the shore from Pittenweem, in the smarter harbour town of Anstruther, Murray parked his lorry outside a fish and chip shop called the Wee Chippy. Founded by Ian Fleming, a 64-year-old seafood trader with a tattoo of a shark on his forearm, the Wee Chippy stood across from a seaweed-covered strip of beach and a cobbled jetty. Fleming later told me it ruined his marriage, this fish and chip shop. “The hours,” he growled in explanation. Daily operations had long since passed to his business partner, a chef in his 40s called Chris Lewis. But Fleming kept a close eye on the Wee Chippy, which had absorbed such a big part of his life.

Leaving Anstruther behind, the tattie round almost done, Murray swung his lorry inland, in the rough direction of Dundee and a fish and chip shop called the Popular. Bright and cramped, the Popular had an eye-catching facade that was painted brown and baize green, making it resemble a snooker table turned on one side. A family concern, the Popular was staffed six days a week by a man called Graham Forbes, his wife Angela, and their two adult children. Though Forbes was in his mid-70s, he was the one who rose early to let the tattie man in. He liked to get started at about the same time the sun came up, feeding potatoes into the Popular’s rumbling peeler.

These three businesses – the Pittenweem Fish Bar in Pittenweem, the Wee Chippy in Anstruther, the Popular in Dundee – shared not only a potato supplier but the near-religious devotion of the communities they serviced. They were run by men and women who had thick skins, literally so when it came to their fingertips, which had become so desensitised to heat that they could be brushed against boiling oil to better position a fillet of frying fish or test the readiness of chopped potatoes as they fizzed and crisped. But these people were not invulnerable to strain. By the following summer, two of the three businesses would be gone, forced to close against their owner’s will.

I visited the East Neuk several times during that difficult year: in high tourist season, in the eerie quiet of winter, in the limbo between. As a national industry foundered, I wanted to document what it was like for a group of friers as they were brought to the brink, competing against each other even as they helped each other out, always prepping for tomorrow, cooking for today, running their numbers at night, trying not to become yet another fish and chip shop that disappeared. Between July 2022 and July 2023, things got tougher and sadder in the East Neuk than anybody predicted they would. By the time I made my last visit, people were in mourning, having said goodbye to a beloved local figure who gave their all to a cherished, suddenly endangered trade; and it was no longer so difficult to imagine a world without fish and chips.

A perfect storm of Brexit, Ukraine's invasion by Russia causing massive food shortages and price spikes, ocean acidification wrecking the fish population, and energy prices out of control means that the venerable chippie doesn't have much time left, and that an internationally famous fast food staple is now on the edge of extinction. 

Here in the land of burgers and fries there's a lesson to be learned about sustainable food in the coming decades as the global population heads for ten billion and climate change makes feeding that population less and less viable. Imagine an America without burgers, steak and fries, and the realization is that we need to face that reality as well. Millenials will have to, and Gen Z will absolutely need to face it, even as the newest generation is being born into a world that will be far different than even ten years ago.

Food for thought. 
Related Posts with Thumbnails