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February 23, 2024 Heather Cox Richardson

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Two years ago today, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky made a passionate plea to the people of Russia, begging them to avoid war. He gave the speech in Russian, his own primary language, and, reminding Russians of their shared border and history, told them to “listen to the voice of reason”: Ukrainians want peace.  

“You’ve been told I’m going to bomb Donbass,” he said. “Bomb what? The Donetsk stadium where the locals and I cheered for our team at Euro 2012? The bar where we drank when they lost? Luhansk, where my best friend’s mom lives?” Zelensky tried to make the human cost of this conflict clear. Observers lauded the speech and contrasted its statesmanship with the ramblings in which Putin had recently engaged.

And yet Zelensky’s speech stood only as a marker. Early the next day, Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a “special military operation” involving dozens of missile strikes on Ukrainian cities before dawn. He claimed in a statement that was transparently false that he needed to defend the people in the “new republics” within Ukraine that he had recognized two days before from “persecution and genocide by the Kyiv regime.” He called for “demilitarization” of Ukraine, demanding that soldiers lay down their weapons and saying that any bloodshed would be on their hands. 

Putin called for the murder of Ukrainian leaders in the executive branch and parliament and intended to seize or kill those involved in the 2014 Maidan Revolution, which sought to turn the country away from Russia and toward a democratic government within Europe, and which itself prompted a Russian invasion. He planned for his troops to seize Ukraine’s electric, heating, and financial systems so the people would have to do as he wished. The operation was intended to be lightning fast.

But rather than collapsing, Ukrainians held firm. The day after Russia invaded, Zelensky and his cabinet recorded a video in Kyiv. “We are all here,” he said. “Our  soldiers are here. The citizens are here, and we are here. We will defend our independence…. Glory to Ukraine!” When the United States offered the next day to transport Zelensky outside the country, where he could lead a government in exile, he responded:

“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

That statement echoes powerfully two years later as Ukraine continues to stand against Russia’s invasion but now quite literally needs ammunition, as MAGA Republicans in Congress are refusing to take up a $95 billion national security supplemental measure that would provide aid to Ukraine. 

Instead, Republicans spent the day insisting that they do not oppose in vitro fertilization, the popular reproductive healthcare measure that the Alabama Supreme Court last Friday endangered by deciding that a fertilized human egg was a child—what they called an “extrauterine” child—and that people can be held legally responsible for destroying them. Since the decision, Alabama healthcare centers have halted their IVF programs out of fear of prosecution for their handling of embryos. 

Republicans who oppose abortion have embraced the idea that life begins at conception, an argument that leads naturally to the definition of IVF embryos as children. But this presents an enormous problem for Republicans, whose antiabortion stance is already creating warning signs for 2024. Today a memo from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) noted that 86% of the people they polled support increased, not reduced, access to IVF procedures.

The good news for the Republicans is that their frantic defense of IVF means that the media has largely stopped talking about the news of just two days ago, the fact that the man whose testimony congressional Republicans relied on to launch an impeachment process against President Joe Biden turned out to be working with Russian operatives. House leaders have quietly deleted from their House Impeachment website the Russian disinformation that previously was central to their case against Biden. 

But today, as Republican House members remain on vacation, President Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was in Ukraine, where he challenged House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to pass the national security supplemental bill. “The weight of history is on his shoulders,” Schumer told reporters in Lviv. “If he turns his back on history, he will regret it in future years.”

“Two years,” Ukraine president Zelensky wrote today. “We are all here…. Together with representatives of Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Egypt, Estonia, the EU, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, the Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Türkiye, the UAE, the United Kingdom, the USA, Viet Nam, as well as international organisations….”

Slava Ukraini.

Notes:

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/02/23/world/russia-ukraine-putin

https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/london-playbook/breaking-putin-bombs-kyiv-declares-war-blasts-rock-major-cities/

https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2022/02/russia-launches-heavy-attack-deep-ukraine-deep-ukraine-putin-warns-world-not-interfere/362368/

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/us-plans-sanctions-company-building-russias-nord-stream-2-pipeline-cnn-2022-02-23/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/02/23/statement-by-president-biden-on-russias-unprovoked-and-unjustified-attack-on-ukraine/

https://www.axios.com/putin-delares-war-on-ukraine-5a28dbd5-362f-4e97-91e1-84272f7390fd.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/putins-suit-war-declaration-ukraine-possibly-pre-taped-2022-2

https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/26/europe/ukraine-zelensky-evacuation-intl/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/video/president-zelenskyy-posts-defiant-selfie-video-from-ukraine-s-capital-134062661977

https://www.bu.edu/articles/2024/alabama-court-ruling-impact-on-future-ivf-treatment/

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/senators-now-defending-ivf-cosponsored-bill-to-outlaw-it

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/02/21/us/alabama-supreme-court-embryo-ruling.html

https://www.meidastouch.com/news/house-gop-quietly-deletes-russian-disinformation-from-impeachment-website

https://apnews.com/article/schumer-senate-ukraine-visit-d2af898d3b8d90869a40340a67e39974

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/02/23/statement-from-president-joe-biden-ahead-of-the-two-year-anniversary-of-russias-brutal-assault-against-ukraine/

https://apnews.com/article/alabama-frozen-embryos-ruling-ivf-pause-3ea72dd4494cad3f65c57e751e4c5c3b

Twitter (X):

RaduHossu/status/z1761216836069106006

JacobRubashkin/status/1761072516133539847

FoxReports/status/1761067735587394003

ZelenskyyUa/status/1760766644995887429

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Join Me at 6:00p.m. ET Tomorrow For a Q&A on Palestine Chris Hedges

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Join me tomorrow, Friday 6:00pm ET for a live Q&A on Palestine. We will be streaming on my Twitter account and on my YouTube channel.

We will be taking questions both live and from this post on Substack. To comment here, you must be a paid subscriber. Hope to see you there!

Thank you for reading The Chris Hedges Report. This post is public so feel free to share it.

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June 19, 2024 Heather Cox Richardson

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This Company Believes in “Protecting Women’s Sports.” TikTok Banned Its Ad. Julia Steinberg

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Jennifer Sey started an apparel company that believes in “protecting women’s sports and spaces.” Its ad was just banned on TikTok. (XX-XY Athletics)

This piece was first published in our news digest, The Front Page. To get our latest scoops, investigations, and columns in your inbox every morning, Monday through Thursday, become a Free Press subscriber today:

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In March, our friend Jennifer Sey, the former Levi’s exec and Covid-19 lockdown critic, told us she was starting an apparel company for women athletes, and since then she’s done exactly that. Her company XX-XY Athletics has put leggings, t-shirts, tank tops, and hats on the market, with both women’s (XX) and men’s (XY) collections. XX-XY Athletics counts its mission, according to Sey, as “protecting women’s sports and spaces and encouraging others to do the same.” 

“If you want your daughters to have the same opportunities you had, stand up,” a recent XX-XY ad says, adding, “If you don’t think it’s fair or safe to allow men to play women’s sports, stand up.”

It turns out that this is not the sort of thing one is allowed to say on TikTok. The Chinese-owned social media platform quickly banned the ad on the grounds that it “may violate TikTok’s advertising policies by featuring offensive content.” Sey posted on X, “When you run an ad standing up for women and girls’ sports, you get banned for life from @tiktok_us.” 

Sey, who was a champion gymnast herself, told me that the ads were on TikTok for less than a week before they were taken down—and that XX-XY’s account has been suspended from posting any ads on the platform. “They offered no reason for how we violated their policies,” Sey said. “Despite the fact that I find the ad quite uplifting, it’s anodyne.” (Watch it for yourself here.) 

Sey’s team will likely appeal TikTok’s decision, which has become a critically important platform for reaching young people. “Fifty percent of people under 30 are on TikTok,” she said. “You gotta fish where the fish are.” At the very least, Sey wants an explanation of what policy she violated.

Julia Steinberg is an intern at The Free Press. Read her piece on the college dropout who unlocked the secrets of ancient Rome using AI. And follow her on X @Juliaonatroika.

 

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