[guest post by Dana]
First news item
With 141 countries voting in favor, 7 voting against (Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria), and 32 voting in abstention (including China, India, Iran and South Africa), the UN called for Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine. During the meeting, Chinese deputy envoy to the UN, Dai Bing blamed the West for exacerbating the situation in Ukraine by supplying arms to the country, saying that the West is adding fuel to the fire will only exacerbate tensions.
Provoked by his comments, Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock rejected the accusation and reminded the world of a simple truth that is just as relevant today as it was on Day 1 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine one year ago:
The truth is that if Russia stops fighting, the war will end, If Ukraine stops this fighting, Ukraine ends.
Knowing that Bejing’s claims of neutrality are laughable, Bill Browder warns:
China has disingenuously come up with a 12-point “peace plan” at the same time as they’ve begun to discuss providing arms to Russia. If they do provide arms, it will be catastrophic for Ukraine and could lead to WW3.
Meanwhile, Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling explains why he believes Ukraine will win the war (hint: Russia can’t adapt…):
Looks have always been deceiving when it comes to Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine. From the start, Russia’s capacities were overestimated. Both the size of its army and the modernization it had supposedly undergone indicated to many observers that Russia would triumph easily. But since the invasion began, the Russian military has failed to adapt its strategy and operational objectives to battle conditions and circumstances…Ukraine’s armed forces have admirably adapted in each phase of this fight, learning lessons from training they received over the past decade, and from the scars earned on the battlefield itself. And Russia has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to do the same…It will remain difficult for Russia to change — simply because it can’t. A nation’s army is drawn from its people, and a nation’s army reflects the character and values of the society. While equipment, doctrine, training and leadership are important qualities of any army, the essence of a fighting force comes from what the nation represents. Putin’s autocratic kleptocracy is thus far proving no match for Ukraine’s agile democracy.
Related: At the one-year mark, the U.S., in coordination with G7 members, announced new sanctions against Russia and other entities supporting Russia in the war against Ukraine:
The sanctions…target over 200 individuals and entities, including a dozen Russian financial institutions.
President Biden is also set to sign a proclamation on Friday to raise tariffs on certain Russian products imported to the U.S., including 100 Russian metals, minerals and chemical products worth approximately $2.8 billion…Treasury Department…target[s] at least 12 Russian banks and the country’s mining industry…Department of Defense announced a $2 billion security assistance package for Ukraine…includes additional artillery rounds, munitions for laser-guided rocket systems and unmanned aerial systems…Department of Energy announced its third infrastructure package for Ukraine, which will include critical transmission grid equipment that will be delivered in early March.
Second news item
After causing a firestorm by announcing hundreds of edits to Roald Dahl’s classic stories and claiming that they had a “significant responsibility” to protect young readers, Puffin Books clearly felt the heat:
Puffin announces today the release of The Roald Dahl Classic Collection, to keep the author’s classic texts in print. These seventeen titles will be published under the Penguin logo, as individual titles in paperback, and will be available later this year…The Roald Dahl Classic Collection will sit alongside the newly released Puffin Roald Dahl books for young readers, which are designed for children who may be navigating written content independently for the first time.
Per Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Penguin Random House Children:
We’ve listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation…We also recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print. By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.”
Third news item
Some MAGA Republicans split from Fox over the war in Ukraine:
The war in Ukraine has moved from city to city: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson, Bakhmut. But its outcome, oddly, might be decided by a political contest thousands of miles away. The contest isn’t between Ukrainians and Russians. It’s between Republican hawks and Fox News.
Vladimir Putin is betting that the international alliance in defense of Ukraine will unravel. His best shot to win that bet is in the United States, where polls show that public support for arming Ukraine has declined, particularly among Republicans. War fatigue and unease in the Republican base are being channeled and fueled by Fox News, whose primetime anchors have worked to undermine America’s support for Ukraine.
The question now is whether congressional Republicans and GOP presidential candidates—the people who could cut off further aid to Kyiv—will withstand this pressure. The struggle is playing out on live TV, as Fox anchors press these politicians to disown or curtail our commitment to Ukraine.
Fourth news item
NTSB releases initial report on the East Palestine train derailment:
The report found that one of the train’s cars carrying plastic pellets was heated by a hot axle that sparked the initial fire, according to Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the safety board. As the temperature of the bearing got hotter, the train passed by two wayside defect detectors that did not trigger an audible alarm message because the heat threshold was not met at that point, Homendy explained. A third detector eventually picked up the high temperature, but it was already too late by then.
“This was 100% preventable. … There is no accident. Every single event that we investigate is preventable,” Homendy said during a news conference Thursday. “The NTSB has one goal, and that is safety and ensuring that this never happens again.”
Fifth news item
A bill aimed at forcing Arizona’s public school students to recite the Pledge of Alliance each day passed the state House this week. Despite opponents citing that the measure is clearly unconstitutional, the House’s Republican majority is pressing forward…As much as Arizona Republicans want to enforce this “citizenship” exercise, the Supreme Court decisively ruled in 1943 that schoolchildren cannot be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance. In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Court ruled that the state cannot compel anyone—even schoolchildren—to profess or vow a belief they do not hold.
“Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard,” wrote Justice Robert H. Jackson in the Court’s opinion, famously adding, “if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in matters of politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
Sixth news item
Five months into the massive protests after the death of Mahsa Amini, this is an absolute slap in the face and betrayal of the courageous women in Iran who have removed their hijabs in protest:
Switzerland’s ambassador to Iran on Thursday faced accusations of betraying the women-led protest movement after she wore all-enveloping black Islamic dress on a visit to a holy shrine alongside clerics.
The Swiss foreign ministry has batted away the criticism, saying ambassador Nadine Olivieri Lozano was appropriately dressed in line with protocol for a visit to a holy site.
Iranian media had published images of Lozano dressed head-to-toe in black with a full headscarf and long black garment alongside turbaned clerics during a visit to the holy shrine city of Qom.
The ambassador’s act was not an act of neutrality.
Related: The barbaric inhumanity of Iran’s authorities (Note: the report is very graphic and disturbing.):
CNN has been able to pinpoint the location of more than three dozen black sites. Many are undeclared jails inside government facilities such as military and Revolutionary Guards bases, known to rights groups and lawyers for years. Others are makeshift, clandestine jails – sometimes warehouses, empty rooms in buildings or even the basements of mosques – that cropped up near protest sites during the Mahsa Amini uprising…According to dozens of testimonies from survivors of torture as well as legal experts, the torture used on protesters in these off-grid sites was “unprecedented” in its severity. These clandestine jails exist outside of whatever due process the Islamic Republic affords, seemingly enabling unfettered cruelty…Off-the-books detention centers are not a new phenomenon in Iran. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Kurdistan Human Rights Center have documented the abuse perpetrated in these places for years. Yet lawyers and activists say the proliferation of the sites during the Mahsa Amini protests was unprecedented.
“Not only has the use of secret detention centers increased significantly, but the torture used in them became more severe and the conditions of detention more restrictive,” said Ghassem Boedi, a lawyer from Tabriz, northwestern Iran.
The regime’s fear of being overthrown led to increasingly brutal tactics, observers say. “The major difference between these protests and the previous ones is the scale of the protests. They have been so widespread,” said Boedi, who sought refuge outside Iran. “The regime felt that it would be overthrown this time. They needed to stop the protests at any cost.”
This makes the Swiss ambassador’s actions all the more despicable.
A council meeting in Romania descended into hysterics on Friday after one councilor—supposedly “working” from home—turned his camera on while in the shower. The chairperson of the meeting was calling for attendance when Social Democratic (PSD) councilor Alberto-Iosif Caraian appeared on screen undressed in his shower. The soggy official was asked to turn his video feed off as colleagues could be heard cracking up. “But I can’t hang up,” Caraian said as he scrambled to turn the camera off. “I can’t hang up, I apologize profusely. I have a bad cold, but I don’t know how to hang up.” He later rejoined the meeting with his clothes on.
He messed with the wrong Grandma, and she messed him up:
“Next thing I know, he walked up talking about, ‘give me your keys, I got a gun.’ I said, ‘baby, you better shoot me, because you’re not taking my car.’”
She declined to go on camera, but she’s known in her 22nd Street Southeast neighborhood as “Grandma.” She was on her way to chemotherapy Friday when a 15-year-old boy tried to carjack her, MPD said.
“He pushed me to the door and I got up and I grabbed him and was hitting his ass, and hitting him and fighting him and I said, ‘you not going to take my car, youngin.””
Grandma said when she called for help, neighbors responded.
“They all came out to help me,” she said.
He ran across the street and that’s when they caught him.
“They caught him and I said, ‘oh, you going to jail today. You definitely going to jail, yes you are,” she said.
Have a great weekend!