Does Biden want nuclear war? Whether Russian President Vladimir Putin really believes it or merely wants the Russian people to believe it, he has repeatedly laid the blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the West. Putin suggests that the US and other Western countries have not only fomented anti-Russian sentiment in Ukraine but also made themselves part of the battle by providing Ukraine with weapons and aid. And it’s this last bit that seems to gall Putin the most—and most provoke his threats of nuclear war.
Despite all this, the US won’t stop escalating its support for the Ukrainian military. The latest: a new $625 million package of weapons, including missile launchers. The US will deliver four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), along with 16 Howitzers, armored vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition.
-16 105mm Howitzers;
-30,000 120mm mortar rounds;
-200 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles;
-200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
-Obstacle emplacement equipment;
Claymore anti-personnel munitions
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) October 4, 2022
President Joe Biden authorized the package by using Presidential Drawdown Authority, which “allows the US to transfer articles and services from stocks quickly without congressional approval in response to an emergency,” notes Reuters. “By using drawdown authority, the four HIMARS launchers and associated rockets, some 200 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, ammunition for Howitzers and mines, can be sent to Ukraine in the coming days.”
Russia considers the new weapons package an “immediate threat,” according to the Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov.
“The administration’s decision to continue pumping the Kiev regime with heavy weapons only secures Washington’s status as a participant of the conflict,” Antonov said in a statement. It continued:
We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country.
The supply of military products by the US and its allies not only entails protracted bloodshed and new consequence, but also increases the danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries.
We call on Washington to stop its provocative actions that could lead to the most serious consequences.
In late September, the Department of Defense announced “approximately $1.1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI),” calling the package a “multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s Armed” Forces as it continues to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory in the face of Russian aggression.”
“Unlike Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which DoD has continued to leverage to deliver equipment to Ukraine from DoD stocks at a historic pace, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry,” the department said. “This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term.”
“In total, the United States has now committed approximately $16.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021,” according to the Defense Department. “Since 2014, the United States has committed approximately $19 billion in security assistance to Ukraine,” with more than $16.2 billion of this coming since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
It looks like Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter may be back on—and (once again) some people are freaking out in the dumbest of ways. Reason‘s Robby Soave has more on the new hysteria here.
If Musk is really taking this site private, there are no real guardrails anymore. Rulemaking can be capricious.
He can elevate any idea or person he wants through recommendations and UX choices and there will be no oversight on this as a private company.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) October 4, 2022
Twitter’s content moderation decisions are already all over the place, and its recommendations and algorithms are not currently subject to oversight. So the idea that Musk buying Twitter somehow upsets the status quo in a dangerous way with regard to these things is silly.
Honestly, it seems unlikely that Musk buying Twitter will lead to many noticeable changes because Musk will be facing all of the same government pressures and technological constraints that other tech CEOs face. Even an unwavering commitment to free speech and unbiased moderation tends to wither in the face of these realities. (See, for instance, every right-wing Twitter spinoff that has started off touting its free speech absolutism only to quickly start moderating like mad or paying a price.) Besides, Musk has never been quite as big a supporter of free speech as some make him out to be. But Musk does at least profess more libertarian leanings when it comes to speech, and it’s telling how many media folks seem aghast at that idea.
Global deflation is upon us, warns Columbia University historian Adam Tooze. “There are moments when history-making creeps up on you. This is one of those moments,” Tooze writes:
The consequences of this global deflationary cycle are hard to predict. We have never done this before on this scale. Will it get inflation down? Very likely. But we are also courting the risk of a global recession that at its worst could bring down housing markets, bankrupt businesses and states, and throw hundreds of millions of people worldwide into unemployment and distress.
In light of this worst-case scenario, policymakers have to consider three questions: Are interest rates too blunt an instrument for dealing with our current economic imbalances? Can the central bankers pick up the right rate, so as to slow inflation but not strangle the economy? And can a debt-laden global economy survive a serious interest rate rise led by the Federal Reserve?
Inflation in much of the world has been driven by Covid-related supply-chain bottlenecks and energy price shocks. Raising interest rates is not going to bring more gas or microchips to market, but rather the contrary. Reducing investment will limit future capacity and thus future supply. In Europe, for this reason, modest interest rate increases by the European Central Bank are being flanked by caps on electricity and gas prices imposed by some European Union countries. What the monetary and fiscal squeeze does is to help ensure that inflation does not become entrenched and widespread. This is the main concern of the Fed right now.
But containment comes at a price. The primary means by which the Fed’s policy will work is by slowing the economy and increasing labor market slack, which is a euphemistic way of saying more illness. Is the global squeeze perhaps going too far?
• US gross national debt has topped $31 trillion.
• Why are search warrants for many of Mississippi’s no-knock raids missing?
• The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case concerning a no-knock raid gone fatally wrong:
Amid the many appeals the Supreme Court declined to hear today was another case in which an armed homeowner was shot and killed on his own property by police after they went to the wrong house. Cops got qualified immunity pic.twitter.com/Axio9LiQve
— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) October 3, 2022
• Another case—this one before the Georgia Supreme Court—challenges the validity of a “shaken baby syndrome” conviction. (More from Reason on these convictions here, here, and here.)
• Crypto goes to Washington: Molly Ball reports on how “DC has moved into crypto’s territory, with regulatory crackdowns, tax proposals, and demands for compliance. And crypto has pushed into DC’s terrain, standing up multiple trade associations, think tanks, and political action committees and hiring hundreds of lobbyists.”
• “To save downtowns, we need to embrace windowless bedrooms,” writes Matthew Yglesias.
• To save America’s coasts, don’t always rebuild them, suggests Western Carolina University professor Robert S. Young, who directs a program on developed shorelines. “Local emergency managers know all too well which places in their communities should not be built back after a storm. But they are rebuilt, because the federal government and states provide multiple incentives to rebuild rather than to relocate.”
• Jay Caspian Kang looks at homeless encampments in California and government responses to them.
• In Germany, making inflammatory statements online can bring the police to your door. (A good warning for Americans this week.)