- Kyiv – Even the statues are leaving. For decades, the stone and bronze busts of Fyodor Ushakov and Alexander Suvorov, a pair of 18th-century Russian commanders, looked over the centre of Kherson, a city in Ukraine’s south. In late October, under the cover of darkness, they disappeared, presumably carried off by the Russian troops who have occupied the city since March. The living are on the move, too. The puppet authorities installed by the Russians are evacuating thousands of the city’s remaining residents across the Dnieper river, deeper into Russian-controlled territory. Some Russian officers are following in their footsteps. They are not packing light. Ukrainian officials say cash has been removed from the vaults of Promsvyazbank, the biggest Russian bank in the city. Looting has become common.
The Ukrainian advances in the east and the south of the country looked like separate operations but in retrospect they appear to be part of a coordinated plan.“ukrainian strategy is running circles around russian forces” by stephen fidler, james marson and thomas grove, wall street journal, thursday, oct. 13, 2022, p. a1
Mr. Putin has reportedly insisted that his generals hold Kherson city at all costs. Ukraine has been exploiting this stubbornness by destroying bridges and so pinning Russian troops down in what appear to be indefensible positions with their backs against the Dnieper river. The Russian forces there are now in danger of encirclement with no obvious way to retreat. Surrender may be their only option.
On Wednesday, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report downgraded its outlook for the size of a GOP majority after the midterm elections and said it couldn’t rule out the possibility that Democrats maintain their majority, citing elevated Democratic turnout.— Wall Street journal, p. A4, “democrats’ house win lifts midterm hopes” by joshua jamerson
Wall Street Journal, 28 June 2022, Page One: SUPREME COURT RULES COACH CAN PRAY ON FIELD AFTER GAME
Byline: Jess Bravin
Writing for the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch said coach Joe Kennedy’s prayers were private speech that couldn’t be construed as representing the school district and were protected by the First Amendment.
The court rejected arguments that the public devotions could be seen as coercive particularly to the players, who depend on the coach’s approval on matters ranging from time on the field to college recommendations.
Students who might feel discomfort with Mr. Kennedy’s evangelical Christian prayers should consider it a lesson, for “learning how to tolerate speech or prayer of all kinds is part of learning how to live in a pluralistic society,” Justice Gorsuch wrote.
Dissenting Opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor:
- The First Amendment prohibits official “establishment of religion” to elevate another, in the clause protecting the “free exercise of faith.” The decision by the majority “elevates one individual’s interest in personal religious exercise, in the exact time and place of that individual’s choosing, over society’s interest in protecting the separation between church and state, eroding the protections for religious liberty for all.” This decision of the majority was “particularly misguided because it elevates the religious rights of a school official, who voluntarily accepted public employment and the limits that public employment entails, over those of his students, who are required to attend school and who this Court has long recognized are particularly vulnerable and deserving of protection.”
Self has such enormous respect for Reznikov. He was Defense Minister for only four months when Russia invaded. He expected “to busy himself with bureaucratic reforms.” Instead, on Feb. 24, he kissed his wife goodbye and went to work. For the next three weeks, he and his core team of advisers “moved around secret sites in the capital: One of the most uncomfortable things was waking up each morning in a new bed.”
No one expected Ukraine to survive. But those canny Ukrainians: in early February, they had already begun secretly moving military units out from their permanent bases. They “hid their air-defence systems and attack aircraft, replacing them with mock-ups.” They rapidly “enacted a new law on territorial defense to arm 100,000 civilians in three days.” Which means they never, not once, entertained the idea of surrendering. All of which would have been clear to Putin or to anyone who’d been paying attention.
Because of this level of preparation, Volodymyr Zelensky made his decision to stay in Kiev. He did not run and form a government in exile. And “with every victory on the battlefield, Western governments began to believe that Ukraine actually had a chance of winning.”
Four months of war. In February, Zelensky had no idea about the kind of wartime leader he would be. Talk about rising to the challenge! He became the leader Ukraine needed.
The Ukrainian people have shown such tremendous courage. “In some areas, Russian forces have ten times Ukraine’s firepower.” Ukraine has lost some territory (Severodonetsk), but whatever gains Russia has made have had to be ground out, inch by inch.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
Where are the Ukrainian POWs?, by Jillian Kay Melchior, wsj editorial page writer
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently said Russia had taken nearly 6,500 Ukrainian soldiers prisoner since February, Voice of America reported. Ukraine said in early April that it held some 600 Russian POWs. The Ukrainian government is tight-lipped about negotiations for prisoner exchanges, and the families of Mariupol’s defenders say they don’t know how Russia has treated their loved ones. But Ukrainian human-rights activists say Russia routinely tortures prisoners of war, deprives them of necessities, and holds them in deplorable conditions.
Mariupol’s defenders included the Azov Regiment . . . and the 36th Marine Brigade. After enduring weeks of siege and brutal attack, the Ukrainian soldiers laid down their arms in hope of saving lives. Many civilians were successfully evacuated from the Ukrainian soldiers’ last stronghold in the city. Bohdan Krotevych, the Azov Regiment’s 29-year-old chief of staff, said last month that the Ukrainians proposed that Russia would receive their severely wounded soldiers and release them in a prisoner exchange.
The Russians said no — “either everyone or no one” would have to surrender. Mr. Krotevych told me by text message on May 18. “So we were faced with a very tough choice . . . Those with serious wounds were basically rotting away and slowly dying in our hospitals, while the enemy was robbing the humanitarian convoys with medicine.” By May 20 he had stopped responding to messages, and the press reported the soldiers’ surrender.
“The only comfort is they are no longer under direct threat of dying from combat,” says Maria Netreba, 24.— The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, June 14, 2022, p. A19
The article was written by Zahra Joya:
Male TV presenters in Afghanistan are wearing face masks on screen to show solidarity after the Taliban issued an order that all women on news channels must cover their faces.
In a protest called #FreeHerFace, men on Tolo News wore masks to mimic the effect of the face veil their female colleagues have been forced to wear after a Taliban crackdown.
The Taliban’s ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice ordered all Afghan media outlets to use masks for female presenters. The decision was final and there was no room for debate, it said.
It follows a decree issued in early May that all women must cover their faces in public and male relatives face fines or jail if they do not adhere. Many women in cities such as Kabul defied the order.
Lema Spesali, 27, a news anchor for ITV in Kabul, said she was given the news of the Taliban’s latest decree on arrival at work on Sunday morning. “Two Taliban members came to our office and said the decision on compulsory masks for female anchors must be implemented.
“We had an office meeting and had to accept the Taliban order, but decided that male colleagues should also wear masks and stand by female colleagues.”
Rossglass Beach, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
For Uvalde, Texas.