[guest post by Dana]
First news item
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has expressed frustration over what he has labeled unrealistic expectations for rapid success on the battlefield amid concerns that slow progress against entrenched Russian forces will discourage Kyiv’s allies from sustaining military aid.
“The modern world quickly gets accustomed to success,” Mr. Zelensky said in his nightly address on Tuesday, complaining that Ukrainian troops’ achievements “are perceived as a given.”
Mr. Zelensky’s comments came as the Biden administration seeks congressional approval for a $105 billion aid package that includes assistance for both Israel and Ukraine. But some Republicans oppose sending more aid to Ukraine — and have moved to separate the funding request from aid for Israel.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III warned American senators on Tuesday that if they cut off funding to Ukraine, as some Republicans have vowed to do, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would win the war.
It appears that a number of House Republicans still fail to grasp why it is imperative that Ukraine win this war and Putin’s imperialistic visions be bluntly cut off:
“…among many in my party, it seems that there’s a willingness to support Putin. We’ve begun to hear Republicans talking about America’s role in the world and they sound more like Jane Fonda than Ronald Reagan. And this idea that somehow America is agnostic as between Ukraine and Russia is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the threat that freedom is under and how America’s adversaries and those who would threaten us, those who believe in authoritarian rule, are very much working together. Our adversaries are allied against us. And if we don’t maintain our commitment for the people of Ukraine, it’s going to have a domino effect. Countries will see our weakness and they will be tempted to take steps elsewhere. I think the Chinese will watch what happens and make determinations about whether or not they should move now on Taiwan…
Second news item
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appears to pull more support from former President Trump than President Biden in a hypothetical general election matchup, according to a new poll.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Biden narrowly ahead of Trump by 1 point — 47 percent to 46 percent, within the margin of error — in a head-to-head matchup. But with Kennedy in a three-way race, Biden is ahead with 39 percent to Trump’s 36 percent and Kennedy’s 22 percent.
Pollsters found independents are almost evenly split among the three candidates, with 36 percent supporting Kennedy, 31 percent backing Trump and 30 percent with Biden.
Third news item
A California State Bar Court judge on Thursday preliminarily found Trump attorney John Eastman culpable in the 11-count trial on moral and legal violations for allegedly conspiring to invalidate the 2020 presidential election.
After 32 days of testimony, Judge Yvette Roland made “a preliminary finding of culpability,” saying the case will “move forward with not only rebuttal testimony but aggravation.”
Fourth news item
That was then, this is now.
“We should have those hostages released and then we can talk,” Biden told reporters when asked about the potential for a ceasefire in exchange for Hamas releasing approximately 200 hostages, including Americans, believed to be in the Gaza Strip.
President Joe Biden said he thought there should be a humanitarian “pause” in the Israel-Hamas war, after his campaign speech Wednesday evening was interrupted by a protester calling for a cease-fire.
“I think we need a pause,” Biden said.
The AP adds:
The White House has refused to call for a cease-fire but has signaled that the Israelis should consider humanitarian pauses to allow civilians to receive aid and for foreign nationals trapped on the strip to leave Gaza.
However, Israel put the ball in Hamas’ court:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government opposes any temporary ceasefire in Gaza unless Hamas frees all the hostages it holds. Meanwhile, on the ground, Israel’s military said it is surrounding Gaza City as its bombardment of the enclave intensifies.
Meanwhile, the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah has entered the fray, with leader Hassan Nasrallah warning of an escalation of fighting in the region.
Q: According to the Biden administration, what is the difference between a “ceasefire” and a “pause”? Is it a matter of time? Because, while it’s very clear that humanitarian aid is desperately needed, why wouldn’t Hamas use a “pause” in the same way they would a “ceasefire”? In other words, it would be a gift to them to rearm and reorganize.
Which reminds me, Hillary Clinton came out with a firm statement against a ceasefire, saying that “People who are calling for a ceasefire now, don’t understand Hamas… It would be such a gift to Hamas because they would spend whatever time [that] there was a ceasefire in effect rebuilding their armaments… to be able to fend off an eventual assault by the Israelis.”
Fifth news item
High school students have had enough. Rightly so:
Students at a high school in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) walked out in protest of the district’s gender policy that allows non-binary, gender-fluid and transgender students to use whichever school bathrooms and locker rooms they want based on their chosen gender.
Around 50-100 students at Woodgrove High School participated in the walkout to protest Policy 8040, which the Loudoun County School Board implemented in 2021, ABC WJLA reported. The students said they wanted LCPS to revert to a policy that provided female and male-only spaces, including bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.
Students described their frustration with the policy:
“In the locker rooms in the morning it’s an invasion of privacy, as I said because when men and natural-born males are in our locker rooms, and they are showering in the morning, natural-born females can walk in there as they please,” one male high school student told WJLA. “And that is not OK…”
“We express these concerns and they ignore us and write us off as right-wing crazies,” [a female student] said. “We’re not crazy. We just don’t want to be in danger on a daily basis in this building. I think it’s people finally stepping up and just being sick of it. We’re sick of being here and just being completely ignored. I stopped using them [the bathrooms] because I don’t know what’s going to happen to me in there. And people can be like, ‘Oh, well, that’s paranoid’.”
“I’m telling you right now half the women in this building feel the same way,” she added. “We don’t use the bathrooms. We hold our pee until we can’t. I mean, there are girls in PE [Physical Education class] who still get changed in the bathroom stalls in there because they’re afraid of who might waltz in.”
Sixth news item
Resolution condemning support for Hamas and Hezbollah on campus passes with bipartisan vote:
House lawmakers approved a resolution condemning the support of terrorist organizations and antisemitism on college campuses on a 396-23 bipartisan vote Thursday.
The resolution — H. Res. 798 — is Congress’ latest response to the rise in pro-Palestinian student demonstrations on campuses around the Israel-Hamas conflict that started Oct. 7. Senators last week passed a similar resolution, S. Res. 418, by voice vote.
The resolution calls out college leaders for not speaking out in support of Jewish and pro-Israel students. It urges them to condemn all forms of antisemitism on their campuses and ensure Jewish faculty and students can exercise free speech without intimidation.
Rep. Thomas Massie was the only Republican to not vote for the resolution. He said that concerns about free speech and questions about who gets to determine what anti-Semitism prevented him from voting for the resolution.
The 22 Democrats who voted against it were:
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Summer Lee, D-Pa., Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Delia Ramirez, D-Ill., Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., Mark Takano, D-Calif., Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Jesus Garcia, D-Ill., Jonathan Jackson, D-Ill., Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., André Carson, D-Ind., Cori Bush, D-Mo., Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.
Seventh news item
A lovely “new” song by The Beatles:
Now and Then’s eventful journey to fruition took place over five decades…The long mythologised John Lennon demo was first worked on in February 1995 by Paul, George and Ringo as part of The Beatles Anthology project but it remained unfinished, partly because of the impossible technological challenges involved in working with the vocal John had recorded on tape in the 1970s…in 2022…software system developed by Peter Jackson and his team, used throughout the production of the documentary series Get Back, finally opened the way for the uncoupling of John’s vocal from his piano part. As a result, the original recording could be brought to life and worked on anew with contributions from all four Beatles…
Have a great weekend.