Monday, July 31, 2023

Graphic Of The Day -- Scamming The Cult


Even if they figure it out, they don't care.

(click on image to enlarge)


Today's Tomorrow Cartoon: That Musk-y Smell


(click to enlarge)


Having suffered "huge reputational damage" and destroyed the universally-recognized brand for Twitter, the chief twit is envisioning greater things for his "X" brand. Welcoming anti-Semitic lunatic Kanye West back on the platform, along with other right-wing shitheels shows he's learned nothing about why advertisers left.

Please consider supporting Tom's work by going here.


Tweets/ Xeets Of The Day


Evergreen --



Meanwhile, cultist MAGAts are through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole --



Living off the MAGAt rubes' Social Security checks ...  --


... When he's not living off foreign interests' money --


They lie like a common Trump! --


What's that Musk-y smell?  Hey!  Hate speech is crucial to his business model! --


Republican racist appalled more swimming pools might be coming for ... blahs --




On the sexual gratification front --



Sign him up! --




Trump-Paid Lawyers Defending Nauta, De Oliveira

With last week's superseding indictment in the Merde O'Lardo classified documents case, a new participant in the Malignant Loser's theft and obstruction scheme, maintenance supervisor Carlos De Oliveira, was named as having asked for security camera evidence to be deleted at the request of "the Boss." Along with the Malignant Loser's valet Walt Nauta, De Oliveira faces felony charges, and is being defended by a lawyer paid by the Malignant Loser's super PAC. Amanda Marcotte points up the problem for the two men in

"As foolish as political loyalty to Trump may be, personal loyalty makes even less sense. Trump's sociopathic worldview, in which he expects loyalty but gives none in return, has been long-established. It's like the law of gravity, that Trump will throw anyone under the bus to save himself. As legal experts have repeatedly pointed out, it's in [Walt] Nauta and [Carlos] De Oliveira's interest to flip on Trump, testifying against him in exchange for leniency from the prosecution. 

That these two men may not see this suggests very strongly that the lawyers hired by Trump to supposedly advise these them are more focused on serving Trump's interests than those of their supposed clients. That's something White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson realized during the House committee's investigation into the events of January 6th. As she told the committee, she had started off with a lawyer provided by Trump, who she said advised her to focus on covering up for Trump, even as she worried it opened her up to prosecution. She decided to hire her own lawyer who, sure enough, told her to be honest with the committee and save herself, instead of saving Trump." (our emphasis)

Marcotte points out that paying for lawyers for Nauta and De Oliveira was not a generous or selfless act by the Malignant Loser. It's a matter of controlling their actions through legal "advice" provided by lawyers on the Malignant Loser's payroll. As in Cassidy Hutchinson's case, that "advice" will assuredly be to line up with the Malignant Loser's defense position.

Nauta, in particular, looks like he believes his destiny is to serve the Malignant Loser loyally, even from a prison cell that his loyalty put him in. De Oliveira may be different and may realize before it's too late that "the Boss" is only interested in saving his own hide, and not his.

BONUS: The New York Times adds further detail to the two men's legal defense.

BONUS II: A third employee, Yuscil Taveras, may also be represented by a Trump-paid lawyer.

(photo: Nauta with Trump-supplied lawyer Stanley Woodward/ Eva Marie Uzcategul | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images)

BREAKING: Judge Rejects Trump Effort To Stop Georgia Indictments


The Malignant Loser's long shot bid to stop "imminent" election interference indictments from Fulton County, GA, District Attorney Fani Willis has been rejected.

Here's the order, just issued:




See also post below ("the good").

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


The good:

Fani Willis, the Fulton Country district attorney who opened a wide-ranging investigation into Donald Trump and his allies’ efforts to undo the 2020 presidential election result in Georgia, said she is on track to deliver a decision on charges by Sept. 1.

Willis initiated the probe in early 2021, following the disclosure of then-President Donald Trump’s phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find 11,780 votes.”

“The work is accomplished,” Willis told Atlanta TV station 11Alive over the weekend. “We’ve been working for two-and-a-half years. We’re ready to go.”

Willis will seek an indictment before Aug. 18 by a grand jury empaneled this month in Atlanta, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

Willis’ investigation has also looked at the fake elector scheme as well as baseless claims of election fraud made by Trump allies, including his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Willis told 11Alive she is prepared for her decisions to be unpopular with some Americans.

“Some people may not be happy with the decisions that I’m making,” she said. “And sometimes, when people are unhappy, they act in a way that could create harm.”

Last week, barricades were put up outside the Fulton County courthouse, raising anticipation that charging decisions are near...

Bring it on.

The bad:

... While you were turning up the air-conditioning or trying to find an open city pool, the brain trust of the conservative movement — including key officials of Donald Trump’s disastrous 2017-21 presidency — were spending $22 million to craft a 950-page plan called Project 2025 that (among other things) is a blueprint for unconditional surrender in the war on climate change. The scheme drafted by the Heritage Foundation and other think tanks that have guided GOP administrations since Ronald Reagan wouldn’t just halt the desperately needed transition to clean energy and electric cars, but restore the unchecked hegemony of burning fossil fuels.

While Trump’s 45th presidency was a disastrous pause button on climate action in the world’s largest economy, these proposed policies for a Trump 47th presidency, or a like-minded GOP POTUS, are a total rollback that go much, much deeper. Given 2023′s unmistakable jolts of an already-here planetary crisis from Antarctica to Sicily to Phoenix, Project 2025 sounds utterly insane for those of us living in the hotter, reality-based world.

Some specifics: Blocking the expansion of the electrical grid to accommodate clean energy sources like wind and solar. Eliminating three offices within the Department of Energy promoting the renewable power transition. Wiping out funding for environmental justice work in the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection. Massive growth of the natural gas infrastructure such as pipelines. Ensuring that no other states win approval for the kind of strict electric car guidelines being implemented in California. The EPA and other key agencies would be radically downsized and placed under the care of right-wing pro-fossil fuel zealots. It even includes restrictions on new scientific research...

The Christofascist Republicans want to go from "afflicting the afflicted" to "afflicting the world."

The ugly:

At a moment of growing legal peril, Donald Trump ramped up his calls for his GOP rivals to drop out of the 2024 presidential race as he threatened to go after Republican members of Congress who fail to focus on investigating Democratic President Joe Biden.

Trump also urged a halt to Ukrainian military aid until the White House cooperates with congressional investigations into Biden and his family.

“Every dollar spent attacking me by Republicans is a dollar given straight to the Biden campaign,” Trump said at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Saturday night.

The former president and GOP front-runner said it was time for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others he dismissed as “clowns” to clear the field, accusing them of “wasting hundreds of millions of dollars that Republicans should be using to build a massive vote-gathering operation” to take on Biden in November.  [snip]

In the meantime, Trump has embraced his legal woes, turning them into the core message of his bid to return to the White House as he accuses Biden of using the Justice Department to maim his chief political rival. The White House has said repeatedly that the president has had no involvement in the cases.

At rallies, Trump has tried to frame the charges, which come with serious threats of jail time, as an attack not just on him, but those who support him.

“They’re not indicting me, they’re indicting you. I just happen to be standing in the way,” he said in Erie, adding, “Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxists, communists and fascists indict me, I consider it actually a great badge of honor.... Because I’m being indicted for you.”

But the investigations are also sucking up enormous resources that are being diverted from the nuts and bolts of the campaign. The Washington Post first reported Saturday that Trump’s political action committee, Save America, will report Monday that it spent more than $40 million on legal fees during the first half of 2023 defending Trump and all of the current and former aides whose lawyers it is paying. The total is more than the campaign raised during the second quarter of the year...  (our emphasis)

The desperation is just oozing from his orange, Putin-supporting pores.  Because he sees everyone as disposable, he is happy to place as many of his cultists in harms way as long as it serves his interests.  The fact that so many are willing to do so, and are actually paying for this "billionaire's" legal bills is shocking but not surprising.  If his own PAC, using small donor funds, wasn't paying his enormous legal bills, it could be using the money to "go after" President Biden, as he whines his opponents aren't doing.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Star Forming


(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ESA, July 24, 2023: This image features NGC 346, one of the most dynamic star-forming regions in nearby galaxies, as seen by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.

NCG 346 is located in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a dwarf galaxy close to our Milky Way. 

[Image Description: A star forming region sweeps across the scene, dominated by hues of purple. Tones of yellow outline the region's irregular shape. Many bright stars dominate the scne, as well as countless smaller stars the scatter the image's background.]

Credit:  NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, A. Pagan (STScI)


QOTD -- Florida Dictionary


Satirist Alexandra Petri has her hands on the latest edition of a "Florida- approved dictionary".  Here are a few entries:

Free speech: (noun) When you shut up and I talk.

Gun violence: (noun) Simple, unalterable fact of life, like death but unlike taxes.

Immigration: (noun) When someone leaves their country of origin to seek a better life elsewhere; huge insult to the receiving country, to be prevented at all costs.

Independence Day: See Jan. 6.

Jan. 6: (noun) A day when some beautiful, beloved people took a nice, uneventful tour of the U.S. Capitol.

King Jr., Martin Luther: (figure) A man who, as far as we can discern, uttered only one famous quotation ever and it was about how actually anytime you tried to suggest that people were being treated differently based on skin color you were the real racist. Sample sentence: “Dr. King would be enraged at the existence of Black History Month.”

Liberty: (noun) My freedom to choose what you can read (see Moms for Liberty).

Moms for Liberty: (noun) Censors, but the good kind.

Sadly (for him), bumbling Bootsie will never get a chance to "Make America Florida." But as long as he's around, we will always have the chance to "Make Fun of Florida."

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)

(Phil Hands, Wisconsin State Journal)

(Robert Ariail, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, SC)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Ed Wexler,

(Lee Judge,

(John Buss, @repeat1968)

(Ed Hall,

(Nick Anderson, Reform Austin News, TX)

(Michael L. Martin, mmandmm1967)

(David Sipress, @dsipress)

"We Can Never Forgive This"

The brutal and criminal Russian missile and drone attacks on Odesa, Ukraine over the past week have destroyed numerous cultural and religious landmarks, seeking to erase Ukraine's history in revenge for its resistance to Russia's invasion. From the New York Times:

"Standing on a bridge overlooking the road to Odesa’s main port, Nina Sulzhenko surveyed the damage wrought by a recent Russian missile strike: The House of Scientists, one of the Ukrainian city’s best-loved buildings, was in shambles. The mansion’s destroyed gardens spilled down over a ruined residential complex, and burned bricks lay strewn across the sidewalk.

“I feel pain, and I want revenge,” said Ms. Sulzhenko, 74. “I don’t have the words to say what we should do to them.”

She gestured toward other buildings in various stages of ruin. “Look at the music school! Look at what they did! The fact that those who live next to us, and lived among us, could do this to us — we can never forgive this. Never.”  (our emphasis)

It was evil enough when Russia attacked the port and grain storage facilities in Odesa, causing growing shortages of grain and other agricultural products that would be shipped to Africa. Their attacks on churches, museums and other landmarks is deeply odious, even for Putin's henchmen. Another victim of Russia's brutality is restaurant owner Savva Libkin, who has seen a severe drop off in guests and limits on the type of food served at his restaurant:

"On a recent breezy summer evening, less than one-third of the tables were occupied. The menu no longer includes fish from the Black Sea waters, the staple of the region’s Jewish-infused cuisine. Mussels are also off the menu because of the environmental damage wrought by the explosion of the Kakhovka Dam. And with the regular air-raid alarms, many Odesans have been staying home.

'There is no one who is not scared,' said Mr. Libkin. 'But there is no Odesan who does not drink to Putin’s death. Every day in this country begins with a toast to Putin’s death.'

Mr. Libkin said that much of his staff had joined the army, but he wants to keep his restaurant open to maintain the pleasure-seeking character of the city. Each morning, his chefs prepare food for the soldiers trying to defend the skies over Odesa."  (our emphasis)

War criminal Putin has done a thorough job of making Ukrainians detest him and his Russian invaders for generations to come. Add to that a wrecked Russian economy, a stronger and larger NATO, and the International Criminal Court with a warrant out for his arrest. Now, the U.S. and its NATO (and Asian) allies need to commit themselves to providing Ukraine not only with defensive weapons to blunt Russia's heinous attacks, but offensive weapons in quality and quantity enough to enable them to push Russian forces out of their country and to keep them out.

(photo: Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa, Ukraine, Jae C. Hong / AP)

Sunday Reflection

"… I am here because in 1991, under the glare of intense political scrutiny and media scrutiny, I shared more of the whole of what it’s like to be a woman, to be black, and to be a black woman facing sexual harassment. Certainly more than my grandmother or mother could share, and more, unfortunately, than women, many women, and men, and people of all genders, can share today."  -- Attorney Anita Hill, in her 2019 commencement speech to Wellesley College. Hill, who turns 67 today, was the victim of sexual harassment by now "Justice" Clarence Thomas while working with him at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her 1991 testimony at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee alleged Thomas had repeatedly sexually harassed her. Thomas relied on a victimhood defense, claiming he was the subject of a "high-tech lynching for uppity blacks." 

In the years since, Thomas has shown himself to be a blind right-wing partisan with corrupt ties to wealthy Republican donors, while Hill's been subjected to character assassination by right-wing media, despite a polygraph indicating that her claim was truthful. Unfortunately, President Biden, who was then chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn't acquit himself well, suppressing her witnesses and cutting deals with Republicans to have Thomas confirmed; he later apologized for his role.

Anita Hill's experience presaged the "me too" movement decades later, where the tables are being turned on powerful men who had been abusing women without fear of reprisal. It's a pity that Anita Hill didn't benefit from that movement while she was "under the glare of intense political scrutiny" back in 1991.

(photo: Hill giving testimony. Laura Patterson / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images)


Long Ago And Far Away


Travel through London, Paris, Ostend, Bruges, Berlin (thankfully no Nazi flags), and Lucerne in 1936.  In one shot, the film on the London marquee is for a Francis Lederer picture, "One Rainy Afternoon," released in 1936, which helps us date these home movies.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

(Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News)

(Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News)

(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post)

(John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

(Darrin Bell,

(Kevin Siers,

(Paul Fell,

(Drew Sheneman, The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Christopher Weyant, @NarrativeMag)

Tweets / Xeets Of The Day

With apologies to Nixon's Watergate "plumbers" -- 

Other song choices might include "I Fought The Law,""Liar, Liar" and hundreds more -- 

Answer: because the MAGA base of the party is also racist, misogynist and treasonous --  

The Malignant Loser loses case over CNN's reference to his "Big Lie" --  

"Justice" Alito won't tolerate any interference with his grifting -- 


White supremacist Ron "Bootsie" DeSantis doubles down on his "slavery was a job training program" crap -- 

All in the cause of freedom and family values, of course -- 

See the irony --  

Jason Aldean has competition --  



QOTD - A Brief, Lonely Moment Of Truth


Donald Trump is not running for president to Make America Great Again. Donald Trump is not running for president to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 and 2020. Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison.” --  Republican presidential vanity candidate Will Hurd last night at the Iowa GOP Lincoln dinner (ed. -- it's reported Lincoln rotated violently in his grave at the sight of the MAGAt assemblage).  Of course, Hurd was lustily booed by the MAGAt knuckledraggers at the event.  In typical profiles of cowardice, none of the other Republican candidates dared to criticize the cult leader, who spoke later in the evening (Malignant Loser antagonist Chris Christie didn't show).

Hurd, being a Republican, couldn't help but tie his momentary truth- telling about the cult leader to keeping President Biden from another term, saying "America can't handle that."  Really?  Stop threatening us with good times!

Sentencing The Insurrectionists: The Badge Thief

A Trumpist thug who stole the badge and radio from Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone during the January 6 violent insurrection was sentenced to four years and two months in prison for his role. While Officer Fanone was being pulled down the Capitol steps, Thomas Sibick of Buffalo reached in and ripped off his badge and radio, rebuffing some in the crowd trying to help Fanone. From the Washington Post article:

"Sibick was part of the mob that formed on the Capitol’s West Terrace, trying to push past a line of police officers guarding that entrance to the building. He got hold of a police riot shield passed through the crowd and posed for a photo with it. He stepped back to clear tear gas out of his eyes just as Fanone was pulled out of the police line and down the Capitol steps.

'In an act of cowardice, [he] stripped me of my badge, the emblem of my duty and what I had dedicated my life to for the past 20 years,' Fanone said in court. 'My radio was my lifeline; it was all I had in those moments to call for help. It was taken from me to be used as a trophy.'

Sibick denied that he kept the badge and radio as prizes, but he did not offer an alternative explanation. Nor did he explain why he came to D.C. at all, saying only that he was inspired by Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet that the “Stop the Steal” rally would 'be wild'......"  (our emphasis)

Presiding Judge Amy Berman Jackson wasn't buying multiple excuses offered by Sibick in attempts to make his offenses seem less than they were, saying:

“'This was a deliberate act,' she said. 'The videos just don’t show a person who is … wild and out of control.' Other people in the crowd, she noted, were 'horrified' by the attack on Fanone and yelled for the assaulters to stop; Sibick did not." (our emphasis)

Thus far the individual whose call to violence at the Capitol on January 6 Sibick answered hasn't been held accountable for his instigation and fomenting of the attack on our democracy. His time is coming.

Please visit the Department of Justice / FBI website to see if you can identify any of the at-large insurrectionists, and help cleanse the country of their stain by putting them behind bars.

(photo: Sibick on January 6. DOJ photo)


The Super Tall Apartment Towers Of West 57th Street


Here's architect Nick Potts telling us why the tallest apartment towers in the world are all clustered on West 57th Street in New York City, otherwise known as "Billionaire's Row." He also provides historical context for the location, including 19th Century landmarks.  

If you have vertigo, you may want to skip this!

Friday, July 28, 2023

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)

(Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(John Cole, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, PA)

(Bill Day,

(Peter Steiner, @plsteiner)

(Chris Britt,

(Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News)

(Gary Markstein,

(Rob Rogers,

(John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

(Clay Jones,

(Ellis Rosen, @EllisRosen)

House Adjourns Until September, Shutdown Likely


Squeaker of the House Kevin "Qevin" McCarthy continues to be jerked around by the extreme rightist so-called "Freedom Caucus" that's looking to shut the Federal Government down on September 30. To facilitate that effort, the House has adjourned until September 12, leaving only 11 legislative days to pass all 12 of Government's appropriation bills for fiscal 2024. Members of the radical Freedom Caucus are already saying that they'll block not only the appropriation bills, but any continuing resolution to keep the Government running to push their culture war agenda. From NPR:

"The House and Senate might not be able to agree to terms to fund the federal government by the Sept. 30 deadline, and that's OK to an influential bloc of hard-line House conservatives who are playing an outsize role in both the spending process and the fate of Kevin McCarthy's speakership.

'We should not fear a government shutdown,' Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., declared at an event outside the Capitol this week. 'Most of the American people won't even miss it if the government is shut down temporarily.'

Good is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and he never voted to elect McCarthy speaker in any of the 15 rounds of voting it took for the California Republican to secure the gavel in January. Good is one of about two dozen lawmakers on the right who intend to use their influence to pressure the speaker to hold the line on spending this fall.

'Our speaker has an opportunity to be a transformational historical speaker that stared down Democrats, that stared down the free spenders, that stared down the president and said, 'No, we're going to do what the American people elected us to do,' Good said."  (our emphasis)

By holding the appropriations bills hostage, the MAGAts in the House want to force the acceptance of a right-wing culture war agenda, such as elimination of funding related to LGBTQ+, and racial diversity:

"The appropriations dispute is complicated by the fact that for many Republicans both in and out of the House Freedom Caucus, the annual must-pass spending bills are about much more this year than saving taxpayers' money.

Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who is running for Senate, chairs a new 'Anti-Woke' Caucus made up of about two dozen Republicans who have lobbied appropriators to include additional policy riders to eliminate, prohibit or defund social programs or priorities that they say promote a 'far-left ideology' on race and gender with the federal government.

The group sent letters back in April to leaders of all 12 subcommittee chairs outlining programs they opposed. For example, they called for eliminating $3 million for the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the spending bill that funds Congress. The committee eliminated the funding in late June.

The culture war divisions have also sparked contentious moments in committee. Last week during a markup of the spending bill for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, Republicans successfully stripped funding for three LGBTQ+ centers located in three separate Democrats' districts."  (our emphasis)

This group of radical MAGAts are delusional enough to think that the majority of the electorate   -- even those in Republican swing districts that voted for Biden -- favors their culture war agenda, having been gerrymandered into their solidly conservative districts where their views are popular. If the shutdown happens, Squeaker McCarthy will be looking at those swing districts for 2024, knowing they will be lost to Dems. Then he'll have to find a way of dealing with the "Freedom Caucus" he's foolishly given so much power to.


Tweets / Xeets Of The Day

The corporate media and Bidenomics --


It's the messenger, not the message --



Bwahahahahahaha πŸ˜†, oh Mrs. Trump #4!! --


They're out there (no, not aliens) --



On this episode of "Republicans Gone Wild," it's Wisconsin's drunk MAGAt Rep. Derrick Van Orden -- 

China providing lethal technology to war criminal Putin's regime --


Why is this Putin enabler still in NATO and the EU? --


What's that Musk-y smell?  Fraud and cover-up --


"Ammo" Bundy slapped with $56 million judgment --


Coda --



It's hot!  Stay cool!  (Happy Friday!) -- 



Weekend Birthday Music


We can't let the week pass without noting the 80th (!) birthday of the Rolling Stones' (Sir) Mick Jagger on July 26.  Although not our favorite Stone (RIP Charlie, ta Keef!), Jagger is unquestionably one of the key artists of the rock era of the past 50+ years.  Beyond that, he's in pretty remarkable physical shape, performing live weeks after having aortic valve replacement in 2019 and in 2022 continuing a tour after recovering from COVID.  Not your typical geriatric!  

Here's the first Jagger/ Richards composition to go to #1 in the UK (#9 in the US), 1965's "The Last Time," performed live in Ireland.

QOTD -- A Common Criminal


"If the allegations in the latest indictment of Donald Trump hold up, the former president is a common criminal — and an uncommonly stupid one.

"Everyone knows, as the Watergate scandal drove home: The coverup is always worse than the crime. Everyone, that is, but Trump.

"According to the superseding indictment handed up late Thursday, even after Trump knew the FBI was onto his improper retention of classified information, and even after he knew they were seeking security camera footage from the Mar-a-Lago storage areas where the material was kept — in other words, when any reasonably adept criminal would have known to stop digging holes — Trump made matters infinitely worse."... --  Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, on the Watergate lesson not learned by the "uncommonly stupid" Malignant Loser, as demonstrated in the superseding indictment issued yesterday.  His relentless lawlessness must be met with relentless accountability.

Russia's Poorly Attended African Summit


Yesterday and today, a handful of African autocrats met in St. Petersburg, Russia, with Russian dictator and war criminal Vladimir Putin in a noticeably diminished group from years past. These summits deal with economic ties between Russia and African nations (i.e., Russia's extraction of wealth from Africa via client autocrats who are protected by Russia's Wagner Group). This year's motley crowd numbered 17, versus 43 in 2019. The linked CNN report notes that Putin's blockade of Ukrainian grain is a sore point for the attendees this year:

'Putin has been seeking to strengthen ties with African countries and offered to send free grain to the continent, something the UN warned would not make up for Russia pulling out of a crucial grain deal. Russia has also been targeting Ukrainian ports.

Just 17 heads of African states are attending this year, the Kremlin has confirmed, less than half of the 43 heads of state that attended the 2019 conference.

In the run-up to the event, the Kremlin fumed over the poor turnout, and accused the United States and its Western allies of putting “unprecedented pressure” on African countries in an attempt to derail the summit.

Among those absent is Kenyan President William Ruto, whose government has been critical of Russia’s recent decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal, describing the move as a 'stab in the back of global food security prices.'” (our emphasis)

The list of attendees reads like a who's who of dysfunctional juntas and autocracies like Mali, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and the like. Most of their militaries are supplied and trained by Russia, and have relations going back to the Soviet Union days. 

Surprisingly, on the sidelines of the summit, Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was photographed shaking hands with a member of the Central African Republic delegation, one of the Wagner Group's propped up governments. The picture only undermined Putin's strongman image, as he had promised "traitor" Prigozhin would be held accountable for the Wagner mutiny just weeks ago. Then again, maybe he was catering for the summit.