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As we continue to pray for the people of Ukraine, here’s today’s link to continually-updated news on the Russian invasion:

https://www.foxnews.com/live-news/zelenskyy-video-cheered-at-pro-ukraine-rallies-across-europe-live-updates

Among the major stories: A U.N. agency estimates that 1.45 million people have fled Ukraine since the invasion began. Russia denied an accusation that it violated a temporary ceasefire to protect safe humanitarian corridors for evacuees. NATO rejected imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, calling it a “painful decision” but saying that NATO has a responsibility not to escalate the conflict into a wider European war by engaging with Russia in the air or on the ground. Putin said that any no-fly zone imposed by a third party would be viewed as “participation in the armed conflict.”

A reminder that with any fast-breaking news from a war zone, some stories will turn out to be incorrect through honest mistakes and others may be spin or outright propaganda. If journalism is the “first draft of history,” then this is a first draft written under an impossible deadline while bombs are going off, so take everything with a grain of salt until it’s confirmed.

It’s hard to believe that Washington, DC, would have to worry about a fertilizer shortage, but that’s the latest serious threat. Russia produces about 13% of the world’s supply of potash, phosphate and nitrogen for fertilizer. Prices are already rising astronomically, and Russia is reportedly considering withholding exports, which could create worldwide food shortages, if other nations continue their crippling sanctions. All that reliance on imports still looking like a good idea?

https://www.westernjournal.com/russia-strikes-back-western-sanctions-threatens-world-food-supply-heinous-move/

In a dramatic show of defiance, the entire staff of Russia’s Dozhd or TV Rain news channel ended their broadcast by walking off the set in protest of the government crackdown on journalists reporting on the invasion of Ukraine.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/russian-news-walks-crackdown-media

Friday, Putin signed a new law that could fine or jail journalists for up to 15 years for reporting "fake" news about the military and invasion that conflicts with statements from Russian officials. This includes using the words “war” or “invasion” to describe the war and invasion. TV Rain has been accused of "inciting extremism, abusing Russian citizens, causing mass disruption of public calm and safety, and encouraging protests" by reporting on the attack on Ukraine.

I’m grateful we live in a nation with free speech and the Bill of Rights to protect us from out-of-control tyrants who would bully the media into helping silence people under the guise of them spreading “misinformation” that might “cause confusion or sow mistrust” in the government. Thank God that could never happen here.

https://news.yahoo.com/surgeon-general-demands-data-covid-162442216.html

In a related story, CNN announced that it will stop broadcasting in Russia due to the new law making it illegal to air “fake news.” Decide for yourselves whether this is a protest or an admission of guilt.

https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/matt-margolis/2022/03/04/cnn-to-stop-broadcasting-in-russia-and-the-reason-is-hilarious-n1563873

Special counsels can be appointed at the state level, too, and it appears that one in Wisconsin has found evidence to confirm widespread election fraud.

The Wisconsin Assembly appointed Special Counsel Michael Gableman, a retired State Supreme Court justice, to investigate concerns about the 2020 election, and on Tuesday, his office issued its second interim report, which runs 150 pages. In Chapter 7, it confirms the conclusion of the Racine County Sheriff’s Office last fall that fraud occurred at Wisconsin nursing homes.

https://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/22/brandtjen/media/1552/osc-second-interim-report.pdf

It was the sheriff’s investigation that led to this broader one. Sheriff Christopher Schmaling held a press conference last October 28 at which lead investigator Michael Luell presented their findings. (Note that this hour-long press conference got mostly crickets from national media.) Luell explained that under Wisconsin election law, local municipalities must dispatch two special voting deputies, or SVDs, to residential care facilities to supervise the voting. These officials are tasked with personally delivering ballots to residents and witnessing the voting process. Under law, only a relative or an SVD may assist a resident with the voting process. Once the resident has voted, the SVD seals the ballot envelope and delivers it to the elections clerk.

This sounds like a great plan to preserve the chain of custody and discourage undue influence. Unfortunately, the sheriff’s investigation found that the Ridgewood Care Center in Racine violated every one of those requirements. Amazingly, the blame for this can be traced back to the Wisconsin Election Commission, whose members had allegedly taken it upon themselves to tell municipalities not to use the SVD system and to instead just mail ballots to residents. Such a directive would be illegal.

So it was up to staffers to help residents complete their ballots, and according to the sheriff, they “helped” them, all right --- improperly completing sections of the ballots, mishandling ballots and failing to secure them, and going beyond just reading the ballots to actively discussing the elections and candidates. In legal parlance, that is a no-no.

As Sheriff Schmaling said during his press conference, his investigation had covered only the Ridgewood Care Center, when Racine County was home to 11 such facilities, and Racine County is just one of 72 counties. “There are literally hundreds and hundreds of these facilities throughout the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “We would be foolish to think for a moment that this integrity issue, this violation of the statute, occurred to just this small group of people at one care facility in one county in the entire state.”

Several days after their press conference, the Sheriff’s Office announced that they had forwarded their conclusions to District Attorney Patricia Hanson, recommending that five members of the Wisconsin Election Commission be charged with election fraud, including two felony counts. (Only one member was not cited.) Margot Cleveland has details on the specific charges in her report for The Federalist.

https://thefederalist.com/2022/03/03/wisconsin-special-counsel-finds-widespread-election-fraud-in-2020-nursing-homes/

You can probably guess what happened next, which is to say nothing –- no charges were filed. After several months, DA Hanson concluded that she “lacked jurisdiction” and had no authority to prosecute the commissioners because they don’t live in Racine County and didn’t issue the “allegedly illegal directive doing away with SVD.” So, we're confused, as the sheriff's investigation had concluded they did do that.

And after deciding not to charge the commissioners, Hanson couldn’t very well charge the staff at the nursing homes, could she? She reasoned it this way: “[I]t would be unfair for me to expect these health care professionals would better understand the election law in Wisconsin than the Wisconsin Election Commission.” Never mind that she should have had higher expectations for the WEC; after lowering the bar for them, she was able to lower it even farther for the nursing home staff. Case dismissed!

Here’s some of the fallout as reported by a local news outlet, just a few days before the special counsel dropped his report.

https://journaltimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/four-wis-prosecutors-considering-whether-to-file-charges-against-elections-commissioners/article_b928849a-965f-512a-920c-62f9527b0844.html

Fortunately it didn’t end with that DA, and we now have an eye-opening special counsel report. This would not have happened without the sheriff’s investigation, which had stemmed from a complaint by some individual about potential violations at just one nursing home. Moral: one person speaking up CAN make a difference.

And now, the special counsel apparently has the goods. “Rampant fraud and abuse occurred statewide at Wisconsin’s nursing homes and other residential care facilities,” his report says.

This conclusion came after his investigation of more than 90 nursing homes in five different counties. We’re talking about blatant violations of the election code by nursing home staff and administrators, such as illegal handling of absentee ballots, illegal assistance in marking ballots, illegally “witnessing” the voting, and possible forgery. According to the report, the fraud and abuse resulted ultimately from the unlawful acts of the WEC’s members and staff, because on June 24, 2020, they did issue that directive to mail the ballots to the nursing homes and just follow the rules for regular absentee voting by mail.

The special counsel found “improbably high voting rates” at nursing homes. He was even able to determine that some of the filled-out ballots did not reflect the intent of the nursing home residents. He found suspected forgeries of signatures and votes by people who had been judged incompetent and could not legally vote. He found votes "cast" by people who were unaware of their surroundings and didn’t even know what year it was.

The WEC had tried to use COVID to justify what it had done, saying they didn’t want seniors ”disenfranchised.” Special Counsel Gableman was stern in his assessment of that: “In no way was WEC’s mandating illegal activity a ‘solution’ to ‘disenfranchisement’ and to suggest that WEC’s actions were a good faith effort at doing so ignores the facts and the law.” He went on to point out that the problems he had found, resulting from their directive, WERE examples of disenfranchisement.

Gableman said that to get the full picture of the significance of the fraud, “a state-wide, complete audit of all absentee votes from all facilities” required to use the SVD system is necessary.

In the 2020 election, Wisconsin went for Biden by a margin of just 20,682 votes. Since about 92,000 people reside in Wisconsin nursing homes, the findings of this investigation cast “doubt on the election result” according to the special counsel report. The Wisconsin State Assembly might authorize Gableman to expand his audit, but that’s not official at this writing. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul called the sheriff’s original investigation a “publicity stunt” and is highly unlikely to do anything with this one. That seems like a great reason for voters to show up in droves this fall and boot him out of office.

Incidentally, the report has chapters dealing with other issues in Wisconsin that we’ve discussed before, such as the infusion of money from Mark Zuckerberg and the Center for Tech and Civic Life, and potential violations of law concerning ballot security at dropboxes. Look for social media to flag discussions of this report as heretical and news outlets to trash it (Politico and BuzzFeed already have), even though it’s the product of a special counsel investigation and contains, presumably, facts.

Wisconsin 2020 Update

March 2, 2022

It’s too late to make any difference now, but in Wisconsin, which Biden won in 2020 by less than 21,000 votes, an audit led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman found so much corruption that Gableman said legislators should consider decertifying the vote.

https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/matt-margolis/2022/03/01/2020-wisconsin-vote-should-be-decertified-investigator-says-n1562797

Gableman’s investigation found problems with drop boxes, ballots gathered from nursing homes, and with the $9 million given to election officials solely in Democrat districts by Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, which violated the state’s bribery laws.

Margot Cleveland at the Federalist has more details.

https://thefederalist.com/2022/03/01/breaking-special-counsel-finds-mark-zuckerbergs-election-money-violated-wisconsin-bribery-laws/

While there’s no mechanism for changing the outcome of the election at this point, this report is valuable because it shows the weaknesses that were exploited in the last election and how the election system needs to be reformed and security tightened. Indeed, as Matt Margolis at PJ Media notes, at least 10 states have already moved to ban or restrict the “Zuck Bucks” that were used to influence partisan turnout in 2020.

It also gives Americans all the more reason to do a little suspicious grumbling when their social media accounts are shut down for spreading “dangerous misinformation” if they express any doubts about the integrity of the last election. I have doubts about the integrity of a lot of things, and that’s just one of them.