Mac In The Saddle
April 25, 2022
Some Good News
- Filmmakers behind ‘The Matrix’ are auctioning off memorabilia to support trans kids (NPR)
- Free bus travel for under-22s in Scotland begins (BBC)
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” – John Keats
In Moldova Their Heads
It’s safe to say Moldova would barely have been on anybody’s radar unless they followed 90-Day Fiancé and knew Libby’s husband Andrei was from there. Now, Putin’s war has put the tiny landlocked country, a former Soviet republic and one of Europe’s poorest nations, in a truly precarious position. Moldova is Eastern Europe’s smallest country, with less than 3 million residents and a landmass slightly larger than the state of Maryland. But in just eight weeks, it has been overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing Ukraine. “We are the most fragile neighbor of Ukraine because we are the country that is most affected and we are the country that has the fewest resources to deal with the situation and the fallout from the war,” Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicu Popescu told a table of think-tank experts at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, D.C. on April 19.
Moldova is bordered by Romania to the west and by Ukraine to the north and east. The country relaxed entry and visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals, and is currently working to provide long-term access to health care and education for the more than 400,000 people who have crossed over the border to escape the war. “This is much faster, much bigger than anything that has been seen,” Popescu said. The refugee crisis threatens Moldova’s stability and economic development.
On Friday, a Russian military commander suggested that Moscow’s plan was to take “full control” of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, then establish a land corridor through southern Ukraine and Crimea —- the peninsula on the Black Sea that Russia forcefully annexed in 2014 – to Transnistria, a breakaway republic in eastern Moldova with a Russian-speaking population. On Sunday, Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of the office of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the possibility of Russian troops moving into Moldova is high. “Now they want to capture the whole Donbas…they want to have the connection between Donbas and the Crimea,” Zhovkva said. Faced with that possibility, Moldovan officials have started the process for membership in the European Union. However, there are no plans to seek membership in NATO, as the Moldovan constitution requires military neutrality. (People, CNBC, WaPo ($), NBC, Washington Diplomat)
Mac In The Saddle
- French President Emmanuel Macron held off a far-right scare in the form of challenger Marine Le Pen. As of 10 p.m. ET Sunday, Macron had won reelection to a second term with 58.5% of the vote to Le Pen’s 41.5%. Macron’s victory was narrower than in 2017, when the margin was 66.1% to 33.9 %, but wider than appeared likely two weeks ago. Le Pen conceded defeat in her third attempt to become president, but vowed to fight on to secure a large number of representatives in legislative elections in June.
- The French people haven’t reelected a president to a second term in twenty years. Macron’s unusual achievement in securing five more years in power reflects his effective stewardship over the Covid-19 crisis, his rekindling of the economy, and his political agility in occupying the entire center of the political spectrum. Le Pen, a long-time sympathizer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, rode a wave of alienation and disenchantment to bring the extreme right closer to power than at any time since 1944. (CNN)
Crossing A Mine
- Thousands protested Saturday against plans to bulldoze a village in Western Germany to expand a coal mine that environmental activists say should be shut down, not enlarged. The demonstration took place in Luetzerath, about 25 miles west of Cologne, a few weeks after the last farmer had to sell his property to the utility company after losing his eviction battle.
- Activists remain in the village, some building tree houses in an effort to stop the expansion of the nearby Garzweiler mine. One protestor, a climate activist from Ukraine, criticized Germany for continuing to purchase coal, oil, and gas from Russia. Some German officials countered that to reduce the country’s imports of Russian fossil fuels, it must rely on other sources of energy, including its own lignite coal mined at Garzweiler.
- Coal-fired power stations near the mine are among the E.U.’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Recent polls show a significant increase in voter support for the Green Party ahead of the upcoming regional election. (AP News)
Additional World News
- Explosion at illegal oil refinery in Nigeria kills over 50 (ABC)
- Priest attacked with knife in Nice, France (Reuters)
- Russian mercenaries are Putin’s ‘coercive tool’ in Africa (Al Jazeera)
- Ukrainian steel plant bombed; Zelenskyy to meet US officials (NPR)
- As Finland considers NATO membership, citizens mobilize for an invasion by Russia (LAT, $)
- Sanctions Strand Thousands of Russia-Bound Luxury Cars (WSJ, $)
- PointCard™ Neon makes life rewarding. Get credit card rewards on debit, make instant transfers, earn points on your paycheck, and receive friendly SMS support — all with PointCard Neon. Get up to 20% cash-back on top brands, 5% cash-back on subscriptions, 3% on delivery and rideshare, and 1% on everything else.
- PointCard™ Neon also gives you phone insurance, new purchase insurance, travel insurance, and more. This is beautifully designed mobile banking, made to help you spend less and earn more. They’ll even give you a separate virtual card for increased privacy & convenience.
- You’ll be able to access a transparent view of all your spending inside Point app to help you stay on top of your finances. Sign up and start earning points today, no credit check required. * Banking services provided by Column N.A. Member FDIC.
On A Hot Streak
- New Mexico Governor Michelle Grisham declared a state of emergency Saturday as crews fight 20 active wildfires across half the state. “Our risk season is incredibly and dangerously early,” Grisham said. It’s only April, and the state is enduring fire activity resembling May and June.
- Meanwhile, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts activated over two dozen National Guard personnel to help fight wildfires whipped up in his state by high winds and dry conditions. In Arizona, the Tunnel Fire has burned more than 21,000 acres across northern Coconino County, just north of Flagstaff, since it started on April 17th. Last Thursday, Governor Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency in Coconino County which remains in effect.
- An estimated 2,068 people live in the evacuation area; of those, at least 766 households and more than 1,000 animals had been evacuated as of five days ago. A portion of U.S. Highway 89 in both directions north of Flagstaff remains closed, as do parts of the Coconino National Forest. The cause of the Tunnel Fire is still under investigation. (CNN)
Justice In Air Force Case
- (TW: sexual assault) For the first time in Air Force history, a high-ranking officer has been court-martialed and convicted of abusive sexual contact. On Saturday, in an Ohio military court, Major General William T. Cooley was found guilty by a senior military judge on one of three counts of sexual assault connected to a 2018 incident in New Mexico.
- The judge determined Cooley had “[kissed the victim] on the lips and tongue, with an intent to gratify his sexual desire.” In court testimony, the unnamed victim said Cooley asked for a ride after a day-long backyard social event. During the short ride, he told her that he fantasized about having sex with her, then pressed her up against the driver’s side window, and “forcibly kissed and groped her through her clothes.”
- The victim’s attorney praised the court-martial process as “fair” and commended his client’s bravery through the trial. “It is very hard to be a survivor in a criminal case… [It’s] one of the many reasons you see so few of these cases go to court-martial.” (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Orrin Hatch, Republican senator and fixture in Utah politics, dies at 88 (Guardian)
- Amid turmoil over his comments on Trump, McCarthy warns of ‘attacks’ on Republicans (LAT, $)
- Search continues for soldier who jumped into Rio Grande in Texas to save migrants (NBC)
- Michigan GOP moves forward with 2020 election-denying secretary of state and AG (NPR)
- Mark Meadows was warned of illegality of scheme to overturn 2020 election (Guardian)
- Climate Activists Rally at the White House to Demand Action (NYT, $)
Double, Double, Toilet Trouble
- Last Tuesday, a woman hiked to the top of Mount Walker in the Olympic National Forest northwest of Seattle, Washington. After such a long trip she had to use the “facilities,” which in a national forest is just an outhouse with a wooden bench with a hole in it. Apparently, visiting the outhouse required too much time away from her cellphone, so she brought it with her and accidentally dropped it into the toilet hole.
- She wasn’t about to leave her phone in an outhouse hole in a national forest, so she disassembled the toilet seat and tried using dog leashes to capture the phone. That didn’t work, so she then tried to use the leashes to anchor herself while reaching in to try to grab the phone. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t work either – the leashes snapped, and the woman fell headfirst into the toilet hole.
- She’s now reunited with her phone, but not wanting more embarrassment calling for help, she spent 10-15 minutes trying to extricate herself. Eventually, however, she had to dial 911. Responding firefighters from the Brinnon Fire Department passed her blocks to stand on to reach a harness that they were able to use to pull her out of the toilet hole. The woman said she wasn’t injured and washed herself off. And although she was “strongly encouraged to seek medical attention after being exposed to human waste,” the fire chief said she only wanted to leave. “I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and that was a first,” the fire chief said. (NBC News)
- More than 92 pounds of fentanyl seized in California (CBS)
- ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ that hung in the White House up for auction at Christie’s in May (CNN)
- Germany: No charges for Czech tycoon’s 257 mph stunt (AP)
- Five black bears were hibernating under a home for months. The homeowner had no idea (CNN)
- The Sun Just Unleashed the Strongest Solar Flare in Almost Five Years (CNET)
- Less advocacy, more journalism. Changes at CNN and New York Times may signal push to the centre (Guardian)
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU