Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 17th, 2022

Behind Enemy Lines, Ukrainians Tell Russians ‘You Are Never Safe’

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Andrew E. Kramer has an interesting report (gift link, no paywall) in the NY Times. The report begins:

They sneak down darkened alleys to set explosives. They identify Russian targets for Ukrainian artillery and long-range rockets provided by the United States. They blow up rail lines and assassinate officials they consider collaborators with the Russians.

Slipping back and forth across the front lines, the guerrilla fighters are known in Ukraine as partisans, and in recent weeks they have taken an ever more prominent role in the war, rattling Russian forces by helping deliver humiliating blows in occupied areas they thought were safe.

Increasingly, Ukraine is taking the fight against Russian forces into Russian-controlled areas, whether with elite military units, like the one credited on Tuesday with a huge explosion at a Russian ammunition depot in the occupied Crimean Peninsula, or an underground network of the guerrillas.

Last week, Ukrainian officials said, the partisans had a hand in a successful strike on a Russian air base, also in Crimea, which Moscow annexed eight years ago. It destroyed eight fighter jets.

“The goal is to show the occupiers that they are not at home, that they should not settle in, that they should not sleep comfortably,” said one guerrilla fighter, who spoke on condition that, for security reasons, he only be identified by his code name, Svarog, after a pagan Slavic god of fire.

In recent days the Ukrainian military made Svarog and several other of the operatives available for interviews in person or online, hoping to highlight the partisans’ widening threat to Russian forces and signal to Western donors that Ukraine is successfully rallying local resources in the war, now nearly six months old. A senior Ukrainian military official familiar with the program also described the workings of the resistance.

Their accounts of attacks could not be verified completely but aligned with reports in the Ukrainian media and with descriptions from Ukrainians who had recently fled Russian-occupied areas.

Svarog and I met over lemonade and cheese pastries at a Georgian restaurant in Zaporizhzhia, a city under Ukrainian control about 65 miles north of the occupied town of Melitopol.

He spoke with intimate knowledge of partisan activities, providing a rare glimpse into one of the most hidden aspects of the war.

The Ukrainian military began training partisans in the months before the invasion, as Russia massed troops near the borders. The effort has paid off in recent weeks as . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

17 August 2022 at 2:19 pm

Saudi woman given 34-year prison sentence for using Twitter

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And, lest we forget, 15 of 19 terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks were Saudi nationals — just under 80%. And, of course, Saudi Arabia’s leader, Mohammed bin Salman, had a Washington Post journalist murdered and dismembered because MBS did not like what the journalist wrote. Saudi Arabia has a God-awful culture.

Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports in the Guardian:

A Saudi student at Leeds University who had returned home to the kingdom for a holiday has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting dissidents and activists.

The sentencing by Saudi’s special terrorist court was handed down weeks after the US president Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which human rights activists had warned could embolden the kingdom to escalate its crackdown on dissidents and other pro-democracy activists.

The case also marks the latest example of how the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has targeted Twitter users in his campaign of repression, while simultaneously controlling a major indirect stake in the US social media company through Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Salma al-Shehab, 34, a mother of two young children, was initially sentenced to serve three years in prison for the “crime” of using an internet website to “cause public unrest and destabilise civil and national security”. But an appeals court on Monday handed down the new sentence – 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel ban – after a public prosecutor asked the court to consider other alleged crimes.

According to a translation of the court records, which were seen by the Guardian, the new charges include the allegation that Shehab was “assisting those who seek to cause public unrest and destabilise civil and national security by following their Twitter accounts” and by re-tweeting their tweets. It is believed that Shehab may still be able to seek a new appeal in the case.

By all accounts, Shehab was not a leading or especially vocal Saudi activist, either inside the kingdom or in the UK. She described herself on Instagram – where she had 159 followers – as a dental hygienist, medical educator, PhD student at Leeds University and lecturer at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, and as a wife and a mother to her sons, Noah and Adam.

Her Twitter profile showed she had 2,597 followers. Among tweets about Covid burnout and pictures of her young children, Shehab sometimes retweeted tweets by Saudi dissidents living in exile, which called for the release of political prisoners in the kingdom. She seemed to . . .

Continue reading. The Saudi government seems to operate on principles of terrorism.

Later in the article (and do read the whole thing):

Twitter declined to comment on the case and did not respond to specific questions about what – if any – influence Saudi Arabia has over the company. Twitter previously did not respond to questions by the Guardian about why a senior aide to Prince Mohammed, Bader al-Asaker, has been allowed to keep a verified Twitter account with more than 2 million followers, despite US government allegations that he orchestrated an illegal infiltration of the company which led anonymous Twitter users to be identified and jailed by the Saudi government. One former Twitter employee has been convicted by a US court in connection to the case.

One of Twitter’s biggest investors is the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns more than 5% of Twitter through his investment company, Kingdom Holdings. While Prince Alwaleed still serves as chairman of the company, his control over the group faced questions in the US media, including the Wall Street Journal, after it emerged that the Saudi royal – a cousin of the crown prince – had been held captive at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh for 83 days. The incident was part of a broader purge led by Prince Mohammed against other members of the royal family and businessmen, and involved allegations of torture, coercion and expropriation of billions in assets into Saudi coffers.

The Trumps are good friends of MBS.

Written by Leisureguy

17 August 2022 at 1:56 pm

Another take on Miso-Tahini sauce, and miscellaneous cooking notes

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I liked the Miso-Tahini sauce enough to make it again, though of course somewhat differently. As always, my recipes are just descriptions of what I did; vary as you wish.

Miso-Tahini Sauce

Put into blender (or beaker that comes with immersion blender):

• 1 large lemon, peeled
• about 1″ fresh ginger root, sliced thinly
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped a bit
• 3-4 tablespoons genmai miso (really, any miso will do)
• about 1/4 cup Soom tahini (I really like that brand)
• about 1 tablespoon Kadoya toasted sesame oil
• about 1.5 tablespooon Kozlik’s Sweet & Smokey Mustard
• dash of tamari
• dash of rice vinegar
• pinch of MSG
• 1/4 cup water (I recently got a Brita filter, so I use filtered water)
• if you want spicy, add a fresh hot pepper, chopped (I didn’t, this time — I had included some yellow cayenne peppers in the stir-fry for which the sauce is intended)

Blend until smooth. Add water for thinner consistency. 

Miscellaneous cooking

Fermentation Starter
A week ago I started a fermentation starter, and today if finally seems to have taken off. I think now I’ll strain out the fruit, preserving the liquid, and add the liquid to another pint jar with some fresh fruit — some raisins, a chopped plum or two, some sliced ginger, and some chopped apple. Once that is going well, I’ll refrigerate and use the liquid to start fermentation as described in the video in my general fermenting post.

Fermented Potatoes
Now that I have a fermentation starter, I’m going to try fermenting some Stokes Purple® potatoes. The Yukon Gold experiment worked reasonably well, so I’m eager to try Stokes Purple (because purple potatoes are extremely nutritious). One thing that appeals to me is that all the starch in fermented raw potatoes is resistant starch. I’ll use the diced fermented potatoes as snacks and in salads. — I did start the purple potatoes. Unlike the Yukon Gold I made earlier, the purple potatoes tend to float. No problem: I just used a fermentation weight.

Red Cayenne Pepper Sauce
This is on the docket for today, and I expect to fill at least two 1-liter jars, perhaps more. I have been wanting to make this after reading a post about it, and now that red cayenne peppers are suddenly available in my market, this is the time to do it. I shall, of course, blog the effort.

Written by Leisureguy

17 August 2022 at 1:09 pm

The Loire River now dry – Update: Not so, it turns out. See post.

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Update 23 Aug 2022: One should not, it seems rely upon Facebook posts for news and information. I got a fact check, which notes:

Did the Loire River, the longest in France, run dry for the first time in at least 2,000 years due to an unprecedented drought in southwestern Europe? No, that’s not true: The Loire River did not run dry, nor did it fall to a record low flow rate. This photo shows a branch of the Loire that dries up when the water level falls. This fact check is intended to add context about the path of the river and the supplemental water from the reservoirs.

It is true that the river’s flow rate was extremely low, and at its lowest since dams had been installed in the 1980s. Drought conditions did require some crisis measures to conserve water in mid-August. The riverbed is engineered to contain the flow to one main channel. The Loire splits and flows to either side of an island, “île Batailleuse.” The trees visible on the right side of the photo are on the island. The road connecting the former communes of Varades on the north side of the river and Saint-Florent-le-Vieil to the south crosses the island by way of two bridges. The second bridge, not visible in this photo, spans the narrow but navigable portion of the Loire River hidden by the trees.

A series of photos of the Loire riverbed by press photographer @DubrayFranck was posted featuring just one of the photos began to get attention online around August 10, 2022. An August 14, 2022, Facebook post with a caption that claimed “nowhere in the past 2000 years has the Loire run dry” was shared over 30,000 times. That post was updated on . . .

Continue reading.    /update

I wonder how climate-change deniers (such as the Republican Party) will greet this news. The problem with denying reality is that reality endures and will ultimately prevail. The photo is from a Facebook post, which notes:

This is the current state of the Loire, the longest river in France. This has not happened before in at least the 2000 years since literate people inhabited France. The Romans would have written about this. The medieval Franks would have written about this. To the best of our historical knowledge, nowhere in the past 2000 years has the Loire run dry, and likely never long before that. The drought that now grips southwestern Europe may well be unprecedented in recorded human history.

This is in the heart of wine country where grapes grow in abundance and wheat waves like golden seas- but not now. Now the wheat burns and the grapes whither to raisins on the vine. This is the end of days. And on Monday morning I’ll return to work and pretend this isn’t happening. It’s complete madness.

More information on the Loire River situation (including many more photos in “Images”).

Written by Leisureguy

17 August 2022 at 9:08 am

Cavendish and the Baby Smooth

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I again loaded the brush — Phoenix Artisan’s Green Ray, a 24mm synthetic and a long-time favorite —  at length and was rewarded with an exceptional lather, but this tub of Cavendish is the CK-6 formula, so it tends toward luxury in lather in any event — and it also seems to contribute to an exceptional skin feel following the shaving, though credit for that must, I think, be shared with Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave before lathering and their Hydrating Gel after.

RazoRock’s Baby Smooth is for me a wonderful razor, extreme in both comfort and efficiency, and three passes put paid to every trace of stubble.

I cracked open my spare bottle of Cavendish aftershave. I’m mildly disappointed that it no longer sports the light amber color of my original bottle, but it has the same great fragrance and with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel finished the shave on a pleasurable note.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Black Currant Tea: “A blend of rich, smooth black teas enhanced with the zesty essence of black currants.”

Written by Leisureguy

17 August 2022 at 8:43 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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