The Wider World

It’s a war of guns and money

ANTI-RUSSIAN protesters outside the White House earlier this month (Flickr/Victoria Pickering).

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is turning into two different, but intertwined struggles. The quick victory that Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly expected has turned into a slugging match as Ukrainian troops and armed civilian volunteers have fought effectively.

At the same time, economic sanctions against Russia are piling up and more may be coming soon, according to The New York Times.

Here are some developments:

  • The United States is committing to accept up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine and is pledging more humanitarian aid
  • The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution blaming Russia for creating a humanitarian crisis, criticizing the invaders for not protecting civilians and providing safe passage to non-combatants and aid workers.
  • President Joe Biden said he supported removing Russia from the Group of 20, an international forum of the world’s biggest economies that produce an estimated 90 percent of the world’s “gross domestic product” and two-thirds of the world’s population.
  • Ukrainian forces claimed Thursday they had destroyed a group of Russian military helicopters on the ground, attacked a supply depot and sunk a Russian warship in the Black Sea.

Court confirmation hearings done

JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON (White House photo).

The fourth and final day of Senate hearings of the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court concluded today (Thursday) and the decision will go to the full U.S. Senate before the planned recess of April 8, according to the Associated Press.

Brown, appointed by President Joe Biden to fill the spot now held by soon-to-retire Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, would be the first Black woman on the high court. Her confirmation is expected, probably on a party-line vote. The Senate is split 50-50 but Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the tie-breaking vote.

Harris received high marks from the American Bar Association, and some Republicans joined Democrats in confirming her appointment to a federal appeals court.

At the hearings, Republican Senators emphasized her decisions on child pornography and sentencing as “outside the mainstream,” as well as her earlier career as a public defender.

Sports: Sweet 16 bracket play starts

The third round of the NCAA men’s basketball Marathon known as the “Sweet 16” starts today (Thursday).

The pairings have Arkansas vs. Gonzaga, Michigan vs. Villanova, Duke vs. Texas Teach and Houston vs. Arizona.

UCLA is in action Friday against North Carolina. Purdue will take on Saint Peter’s and Providence will play Kansas.

Weather: We’re lucky; other areas are not

While we’re enjoying near-perfect weather in West Orange County (a daytime high of 81 is forecast for Friday and 76 on Saturday), much of the rest of the nation is suffering.

Storms – including swarms of tornadoes have left at least five people dead in the South and damaged or destroyed over 1,300 homes. Sunny and mild weather has returned to the area as of Thursday, but a blast of cold air is expected to bring below-average temperatures across the eastern part of the nation.

Business: Sanctions implode Russian economy

ST. BASIL’S CATHEDRAL in Moscow (Wikipedia).

The effort to destroy Ukrainian independence by Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces is backfiring into heavy damage to his nation’s economy.

According to Businessinsider.com, sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its Western allies have meant that the ruble has lost about 50 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar, the world’s reserve currency Brokerage houses have shut down and citizens lined up to empty their accounts at ATMs before Moscow cracked down on withdrawals.

Curiously, it’s led to a shopping boom to get valuable, durable goods like computers and automobiles instead of keeping it in a currency that may shortly become next to worthless.

In Moscow, panic buying is leading to shortages of some items, and several thousand Russians – and probably more – have fled the country.

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