Thursday, March 3, 2022

 -The head of Russia's foreign intelligence agency, a victim of cancel culture

Ukrainian forces have managed to maintain control of Kyiv through the first week of Russia’s unprovoked invasion, but Russian troops have launched nightmarish assaults on southern cities and Western officials fear the worst is still ahead. Here’s the latest:

  • The Ukrainian refugee crisis reached a grim milestone on Thursday, with the UN refugee agency estimating that one million people have fled the country in just a week. The UN has predicted that 10 million Ukrainians—about a quarter of the population—could ultimately be displaced, including four million who are likely to become refugees. Ukrainian and Russian delegations met for another round of peace talks in Belarus on Thursday and agreed to create “humanitarian corridors” to allow civilians to flee, but made no progress towards a ceasefire.
  • The outlook for a peace agreement is pretty bleak. After a Thursday phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron was reportedly left with the sense that “the worst is yet to come,” and that Putin was determined to invade the entire country. Putin has now sent 90 percent of his amassed military forces across the border into Ukraine, according to a senior Defense Department official.
  • While the 40-mile-long convoy outside Kyiv remained stalled on Thursday, Russian forces escalated their assault on southern Ukraine, and have marvelously begun shelling Europe's largest nuclear power plant. Troops have encircled the port city of Mariupol and cut off water, electricity, and food supplies, according to the city’s mayor. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his plea for NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine—a step the White House has ruled out, since it would amount to a declaration of war against Russia—or barring that, to provide Ukraine with more planes.

In lieu of a no-fly zone, the Biden administration has stepped up its sanctions and military assistance. 

Putin may have been full of it when he claimed on Thursday that the war in Ukraine was “going according to plan,” but no level of Ukrainian resistance can hold off the humanitarian crisis and indiscriminate destruction that’s unfolding. Here’s where you can help, if you’re able. 

Protect Democracy and Defend Voting Rights with the ACLU 

In 2021 alone, over 400 anti-voter measures were introduced by states and local jurisdictions across the country. Many of these bills blatantly targeted voters of color, from mass purges of voter rolls to racially gerrymandered electoral maps that systematically disenfranchise Black voters.

These measures were pushed forward in many instances by politicians using baseless and unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud around the election – but in reality, the aim is to limit who is part of the democratic process, how they get to participate, and when their participation counts.

Sign now to join the ACLU’s fight to defend voting rights.You can help the ACLU defend voting rights by urging your senators to pass the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Voting Rights Act. This legislation includes crucial provisions to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that will begin to root out voting barriers that discriminate against voters of color.

The ACLU and our affiliates have been fighting back – litigating against gerrymandered maps in 5 states and counting in this redistricting cycle, challenging discriminatory and illegal voter suppression attempts, and more.

Although the Senate failed to advance the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Voting Rights Act, Senators in support of federal voting rights legislation cannot give up. Given the attacks on our democracy in the last year and upcoming elections in November, this bill must be on President Biden’s desk. The Senate must continue the push to remove any and all obstacles preventing this bill from being signed into law.” 

Our democracy can't be taken for granted – it must be protected and fortified. And that cannot happen without fair and equal voting in this country. Take action today. Protect democracy and defend voting rights.

Thank you for taking action, 
The ACLU Team 

The January 6 committee said it had substantial evidence that disgraced former president Donald Trump and his allies committed Prosecutable Crimes™ when they tried to overturn the 2020 election—specifically, obstructing Congress and conspiring to defraud the American people. (U UP, MERRICK GARLAND?) The committee laid out some of its evidence against Trump in a Wednesday court filing responding to a lawsuit filed by pro-Trump attorney John Eastman. Eastman invoked attorney-client privilege to try to block the release of his subpoenaed emails, but that privilege doesn’t apply if Eastman and Trump were engaged in criminal activity. The panel detailed how Trump was informed multiple times that he had lost the election and that his voter fraud claims were baseless, making the case that Trump knew that the Big Lie was…a big lie.

The filing also includes a message that Eastman sent to then-Vice President Mike Pence’s aide after the mob stormed the Capitol, in which he once again pushed for Pence to stop the certification and characterized it as “a relatively minor violation” of the Electoral Count Act. Your move, Merrick! In other big developments, the Oath Keeper who yesterday pled guilty to seditious conspiracy was part of Roger Stone’s security detail on January 5 and 6, and may be about to rat on him.

The Biden administration has taken some aggressive steps to fight Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R-TX) directive to investigate the parents of trans kids for child abuse. President Biden released a statement on Wednesday calling Abbott’s order “government overreach at its worst,” and wrote, “Transgender children bring fulfillment to their parents, joy to their friends, and are made in the image of God. Affirming a transgender child’s identity is one of the best things a parent, teacher, or doctor can do to help keep children from harm, and parents who love and affirm their children should be applauded and supported, not threatened, investigated, or stigmatized.” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urged any targeted families to file a complaint with the department's Office of Civil Rights, and HHS has released guidance to state child welfare agencies specifying that they're responsible for making gender-affirming care available to trans youth. The department also released guidance clarifying that health-care providers are not required to turn over private patient information to Texas officials, and that denying health-care based on gender identity is against the law.

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The Biden administration will allow tens of thousands of Ukrainians in the U.S. to apply for temporary protected status, shielding them from deportation and allowing them to obtain work permits. 

REI workers at a Manhattan store have voted to form the company’s first union.

Washington, DC, is set to dramatically expand its paid family leave program for all private sector workers. 

Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) returned to work in the Senate on Thursday, a month after suffering a stroke.

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