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One of Blanche's astute readers sent us an excellent analysis of what is going on in Russia regarding the mercenary Wagner group revolt against Putin last Saturday.

Let's start with the players. Vladimir Putin wants everyone in the world, especially those living in Russia, to think he is a strong and all powerful leader (sound familiar) and his country is happy and doing well. All of the above a fantasy.

Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin? For starters he is the CEO of the Wagner mercenary group. But who is he really? His background was that of Putin’s cook and the manager of grocery and gambling chains before being made the CEO of Wagner, a front man for the actual special operations veterans who ran the company on a day-to-day basis. He also has a criminal record.

What is the issue? According to this article, it is an error to blame the war in Ukraine on the prospect of NATO expansion. There was no near-term prospect with Hungarian and Turkish vetoes. Ukraine did not pose an existential threat to Russia.

However, a failure to subjugate Ukraine politically posed an existential threat to the myths that underpinned Putin’s rule. He needs to look strong, in control.

Putin believed he would take Ukraine in 36 hours. He thought Zelensky would run away, and the Russian army would overwhelm whoever was left. Clearly that didn't happen and now Putin is left with a huge problem.

Enter Prigozhin. He sold the narrative that of all the russian soldiers fighting in the Ukraine, his army (Wagner) is the only element of the Russian military or state which is patriotic, honest, and effective, and that Yevgeny Prigozhin is the man who made it so. And that made Putin look weak and ineffective.

As the article concludes: If Wagner is the only effectively run institution in Russia, and Prigozhin is the only effective manager, then the implication is that Putin presides over a system where nothing else runs. And that is something Putin will never swallow.

Where are we now? As one astute commentator said, he wouldn't take out life insurance on Prigozhin. In his mutiny, he got as close as 120 miles from Moscow. He stopped because he didn't have enough men to win a battle with the Russian army and would have had to rely on Russians and the West to help him which was not going to happen.

Prigozhin is finished and will have to hide for the rest of his life. Putin has been exposed to his own people as building an empire based on mafia and organized crime. Be happy you don't live there. It's not pretty and it's going to get a lot worse.

Many warned that closing schools for extended periods of time during covid was going to have serious, adverse effects on children.

Schools in very liberal states like New York and New Jersey kept their schools closed for a year and a half - from March 2020 until September 2021. They were keeping the children 'safe'.

Turns out, those states were wrong. It also turns out that black kids suffered way more than white kids. It also turns out that those black kids lives will be forever changed as many of them simply dropped out of school and will never be able to earn a decent living.

As well, those who remained in the system are years behind their grade level in basic skills such as reading and math.

Across New Jersey, families have shared concerns about their children falling behind after schools shifted to part-time or full-time remote learning during the COVID pandemic. Experts and educators say learning loss has been significant, especially for students from low-income households, which could widen achievement gaps.

Here's the main takeaway: No one will ever take responsibility for this. Politicians who made those erroneous, ill-advised decisions will either ignore the fallout or have long gone from their jobs.

Left holding the bag are the kids, victims of people who had no clue what they were doing.

Imagine that Quebec is now famous in Europe? And not because the word pasta has to be in french double of the size of English on every menu. Nope. It's the smoke from our forest fires that is traveling to the Iberian Peninsula, France and other parts of western Europe.

Has anyone heard anything from the czar legault? A peep? Nothing. Crickets chirping, that's what we hear.

In Chicago, the air quality ranked the worst in the world among major cities as winds carried smoke from Ontario and Quebec wildfires. Extra special.

Now for the real news: Quebec’s forest fire prevention agency says there are more than 100 wildfires across the province, including 77 in the southern half, where more than two dozen fires are considered out of control.

The czar is hiding away somewhere, waiting for these fires to go out. Unfortunately for him, he can't control this with a racist bill in the National Assembly. Nor can he pretend it's someone else's problem. It's his problem in great part caused by poor forestry management.

It appears the Joe Biden is not quite the best candidate for the democrats in the next presidential election. Duh.

He has three major strikes going against him: First is his age which, aside from him being in relatively good health, is showing up in his performance and one gaff after the other.

The second issue is how he got elected in the first place. Basically by default because there was no one else to run at the time.

And the third issue, which is going to get bigger and bigger at time goes on, is his corrupt business deals with his son, Hunter. Try as they may to change the channel or tell everyone to look over there or pretend it didn't happen, it did, his son is crooked and their family benefited financially.

Lest you think the money issue with Biden is all smoke and mirrors, ask yourself how exactly did he become so wealthy on his government salary? His net worth is listed at $9 million. And that's what we know. We are making an educated guess that he's worth much more than that.

All to say that unless the dems find a star vice president (read Obama), Biden's candidacy is going to be a liability.

We saved this for last because if you are reading this while you are eating, you may lose your cookies or dinner.

Blanche, did you know that using the wrong pronoun when addressing someone is an act of making an assumption (even if correct) that sends a potentially harmful message. And what is that harmful message? Those people will not feel inclusive.

As such, the University of Ottawa says refusing to use one’s preferred “they/them,” “ze/zir,” “xe/xir,” and “e/em” pronouns is a violation of its human rights policy, and has an online portal to report incidents of misgendering. Violating these human rights policies can lead to disciplinary action.

Now you're shaking your head. ze/zir? We'll help you with examples:

Ze/hir pronouns: Ze is a writer and wrote that book hirself. Those ideas are hirs. I like both hir and hir ideas.” Ze/zir pronouns: Ze is a writer and wrote that book zirself. Those ideas are zirs. I like both zir and zir ideas.”

Dizzy yet? Wait. Hold on to your head: In addition to a strict pronoun policy, Carleton University has an online portal to report incidents of transphobia, including misgendering and “dead naming” (referring to a transgender person by their pre-transition name).

Seriously peeps, the world has gone mad. If anyone from another planet landed here and read this stuff they would run away.

We'll talk...

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