Law And Borders
March 21, 2022
The Good News
- Most Medical Debts to Be Removed From Consumers’ Credit Reports (WSJ, $)
- Grassroots groups help rescue Holocaust survivors in Ukraine (AP)
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
Law And Borders
The crackdown on Russians who dare oppose their president is dangerously swift. Moscow teacher Irina Zolkina was arrested while attending an anti-war protest on February 24, the day Putin’s military forces invaded Ukraine. Luckily, she was released a few hours later, and the following week she left Russia with her four children and her daughter’s boyfriend.
The family passed through Uzbekistan and Turkey before reaching the Mexican beach resort of Cancun – a common jumping-off point for Russians heading to the U.S. border. From there, they traveled 2,700 miles northwest to the border town of Tijuana, just south of San Diego. After their grueling journey, they were elated to finally be so close to sanctuary. Zolkina’s joy was shattered Thursday when U.S. border officials ushered in six Ukrainian men, but told Zolkina her group would have to wait. “There are so many years of fear that we’re living in … it’s awful inside Russia too,” she cried.
Over 3 million Ukrainians have become refugees, but thousands of Russians have fled as well. So far, U.S. officials let in dozens of Ukrainians, some with permission to stay a year, yet Russians remain in limbo. The U.S.-Mexico border remains closed to most asylum seekers under a coronavirus pandemic policy. Asked about Ukrainians and Russians at the border, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the government was helping people fleeing Ukraine, and other programs were being considered to expand humanitarian aid. Exceptions to the order are made on a case-by-case basis for “particularly vulnerable individuals.”
Other Russians have remained for days at the border wall, hoping U.S. officials will hear their pleas to enter. In early March, 32-year-old restaurant manager Mark flew with his wife from Moscow to Mexico via Turkey and Germany. Both were arrested for three days last year after protesting in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Mark said going back to Russia wasn’t an option, with new legislation imposing up to 15 years in jail for “discrediting” Russia’s army. “It’s unfair that we can’t get in,” Mark said, seated on a blanket while watching hundreds of tourists and U.S. citizens enter San Diego. “This is our decision to … wait on the floor. If we leave … everyone will forget about this problem immediately.” (Reuters)
A Simple Yes Or NATO
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that if his country had been admitted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance earlier, Russia wouldn’t have invaded. “If we were a NATO member, a war wouldn’t have started. I’d like to receive security guarantees for my country, for my people,” Zelenskyy told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on “GPS.”
- Zelenskyy added that he was grateful for the aid NATO has provided since the invasion began, but appeared frustrated that his country was “in limbo” wondering if they would ever become part of the military alliance. “If NATO members are ready to see us in the alliance, then do it immediately because people are dying on a daily basis,” Zelenskyy said.
- He went on to push for a response, saying, “I requested them personally to say directly that we are going to accept you into NATO in a year or two or five, just say it directly and clearly, or just say no,” Zelenskyy said. “And the response was very clear, you’re not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open.” (CNN)
Burning At Both Ends
- Earth’s poles are undergoing simultaneous freakish extreme heat, with parts of Antarctica more than 70 degrees warmer than average and parts of the Arctic more than 50 degrees warmer than average. Antarctica weather stations shattered records Friday as the region neared autumn. The two-mile high Concordia station was at 10 degrees, about 70 degrees warmer than average, while the even higher Vostok station hit a shade above 0 degrees, beating its all-time record by about 27 degrees. The coastal Terra Nova Base was far above freezing at 44.6 degrees.
- It caught officials at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado by surprise. “They are opposite seasons. You don’t see the north and the south (poles) both melting at the same time,” center ice scientist Walt Meier said, adding, “It’s pretty stunning.” The Arctic has been warming two to three times faster than the rest of the globe. “Not a good sign when you see that sort of thing happen,” said University of Wisconsin meteorologist Matthew Lazzara. (NPR)
Additional World News
- Belgium carnival crash: Six people killed after car plows into crowd (CNN)
- China reports first COVID deaths in more than a year (Reuters)
- Japan PM urges Modi to take tougher line against Russian invasion (Al Jazeera)
- North Korea fires multiple-rocket launcher, South Korea says (Reuters)
- Algeria recalls Spain envoy over Western Sahara policy change (Al Jazeera)
- S. Korea’s next leader to abandon Blue House for new office (ABC)
- Pope Francis gives greater support for the Vatican to fight sexual abuse (NPR)
Trans Rights Activist Found Dead
- The body of a woman recovered by the fire department from Lake Michigan on March 17 was positively identified Saturday as 31-year-old transgender rights advocate Elise Malary. A family member reported Malary missing on March 11 after she was last seen near her apartment in Evanston.
- Her car was found by police in a nearby parking lot March 8. Malary was a recognized LGBTQ+ rights activist around the Chicago area. She was a Community Outreach Specialist at the Chicago Therapy Collective, a group dedicated to supporting mental health in the transgender community.
- Malary also spent time as a communications associate for Equality Illinois and interning for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Authorities discovered Malary’s apartment had been left unlocked, but police said they found nothing at her home or car to indicate foul play. Malary’s cause and manner of death are pending. (CNN)
Driven To Extremes
- Days before Afghanistan fell to the Taliban last August, President Ashraf Ghani took a helicopter to the United Arab Emirates, allegedly carrying with him $169 million from the country’s treasury. Ghani’s former finance minister, Khalid Payenda, also left Afghanistan, headed to the U.S. Six months later, Payenda is driving an Uber in Washington D.C. and barely making ends meet.
- “If I complete 50 trips in the next two days I receive a $95 bonus,” he said from behind the wheel of a Honda Accord. The 40-year-old once oversaw a U.S.- supported $6 billion budget. Payenda is grateful for the opportunity to support his family but feels as though he doesn’t have a place he really belongs.
- He became finance minister in late 2020, after his mother died of Covid-19 in an impoverished Kabul hospital. He now wishes he hadn’t taken the job. “I saw a lot of ugliness, and we failed. I was part of the failure. It’s difficult when you look at the misery of the people and you feel responsible,” he said. (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- 4 wounded in shooting in Austin, Texas; suspect in custody (ABC)
- Six injured in LA County rescue helicopter crash in Angeles National Forest (NBC)
- Southeast braces for ‘significant tornado event’ this week (CNN)
- US judge rules against Kentucky clerk who denied same-sex marriage licenses (Reuters)
- Surgeon general: No need to panic over latest Covid spike in Europe (Politico)
- Texas declares state of emergency as wildfire forces evacuations (Axios)
- New COVID-19 czar Dr. Ashish Jha brings visibility, scrutiny to role (ABC)
A Marvel-ous Purchase
- At the other end of the economic spectrum is the person who recently paid over $2.4 million in an online auction for a particularly prized copy of the first-ever Marvel comic book. Known as the Marvel Comics #1 “pay copy,” it’s “arguably one of the top three comic books in the world of comics collecting,” said Vincent Zurzolo, CEO of ComicConnect based in New York.
- Marvel Comics #1, published in 1939, introduced characters including Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch, an early version of the character by the same name that later became a member of Marvel’s Fantastic Four. The book launched what became the Marvel universe of comics, movies, TV shows, and video games.
- The very well-preserved “pay copy” bears the publisher’s handwritten notes recording how much the multiple writers and artists were paid. For example, Frank R. Paul earned $25 for drawing the cover of the book that sold Thursday night for $2,427,800. The buyer’s name wasn’t disclosed, but Zurzolo described him as “an extremely passionate comic book collector and investor” who also collects other items. (AP)
- Russia ridicules idea its cosmonauts wore yellow for Ukraine (Al Jazeera)
- Please stop putting COVID-19 test solution in your eyes and nose, FDA says (Ars Technica)
- Horridus the Triceratops is one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons on Earth (CNN)
- Scientists Watch a Memory Form in a Living Brain (Wired)
- The TikTok-Oracle Deal Would Set 2 Dangerous Precedents (Ars Technica)
- Weighty case: Alabama man charged in theft of 70-ton crane (AP)
Tim Hsia, Daily Pnut’s assistant editor, went down to SXSW this past week, and got to reconnect with some old friends. You can read his thoughts about it here.