Heinous things going on in Ukraine

Two news reports out of Ukraine the last two days disturbed me. The first was on CBS’ “60 Minutes” and the second was on the regular newscast of BBC World News America. I will not go into detail, just highlight the gist of these heinous things.

The news of the Russian troops Bucha Massacre has already hit the news. But, on CBS this past Sunday, we saw President Zelenskyy touring the area with tears and anger on his face. Vladimir Putin says he is not targeting civilians. Like most of what Putin says, that is not to believed. Zelenskyy notes that downed Russian pilots have been found with maps of civilian targets. Putin was trained as a KGB agent in the art of disinformation. That speaks volumes.

The second news piece was of the raping and killing of Ukrainian women by Russian soldiers. It was not unusual for the husband to be killed while the wife was being raped in a house next door. It was not unusual for the wife to be killed after being raped, sometimes with her throat slit. I am not saying all Russian troops are doing this, nor are those telling the stories. One woman said some of the troops are bad, some are good and some are evil. The acts, though, are heinoous.

Followers take on the personality of its leaders. If the leaders support, tolerate or look the other way, the soldiers can do heinous things. Targeting civilians, especially hospitals, is criminal in my view. History shows that civilian sites sometimes got bombed by accident, but the magnitude and extent of the bombing in this case, reveals an amoral and malevolent autocrat at the top of the heap condoning, if not supporting the action.

Let me also note I am not too keen on American opinion hosts and conspiracy parrots helping to whitewash what is going on here. That includes the recurringly untruthful former president, who admires the amoral and malevolent autocrat. Why is a question that should be asked? Of course, I am not too keen on these folks, in general, as to me they are misusing their power to disinform and misinform. Like with Putin, take what these conspiracy parrots say with a grain of salt. Believing what folks like Trump, DeSantis, Greene, Cawthorn, Boehbert, Gosar, Carlson, Ingraham, Jones et al say is a fool’s errand. That is what I think.

Fox Reporters killed in Ukraine offer perspective

After the news earlier in the week that two people reporting for Fox News were killed in Ukraine, it should be a moment of clarity for some of their opinion colleagues back in the studio. Here is a letter I forwarded to my newspaper editorial section for consideration.

Per NPR, “A veteran video journalist for Fox News, Pierre Zakrzewski, and freelance journalist Oleksandra Kuvshynova were killed outside Kyiv after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by incoming fire on Monday, the network has announced.”

And, yet as they died seeking the truth, opinion hosts in the Fox News studio still spread pro-Putin disinformation. It dishonors the deceased when folks like Tucker Carlson and Brian Kilmeade purposefully spread propaganda that is being aired in Russia. People should not give credence to opinions disguised as news whether it is on MSNBC or Fox, but especially from these two opinion entertainers.

After I sent this, I did see where the Russian Foreign Minister applauded Fox News coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Coming from a country who is jailing people for dissenting views on the invasion, that is truly false praise. Former President Ronald Reagan is turning over in his grave at this point.

Over 13,000 Russian anti-war protestors now arrested

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/more-than-13-000-anti-war-protesters-arrested-in-russia/ar-AAUNN3r?ocid=msedgntp

In the above article, “…according to protest monitoring group OVD-Info…The group found that 13,022 protesters have been detained in 147 cities across Russia.

…This comes as Russia’s assault on Ukraine is in its second week. In addition to arresting protesters, Russia has cracked down on social media platforms and the press amid the ongoing invasion. The country has blocked access to Facebook and Twitter, and last week President Vladimir Putin signed legislation under which people found to be spreading ‘fake news’ about Russian forces could face up to 15 years in prison.”

And, just this morning, the Russian spokesperson said the hospital with women and children they bomb yesterday really held Ukrainian nationalist fighters. There is a reason Putin does not want his people paying attention to news. The lies mount – from not invading to invading, from not target civilians to admitting that civilians have been targeted, from not using conscripted soldiers to admitting using such fighters and so on.

The brutal truth is Putin is invading a country that has a lot of kinfolk in Russia, a move which many Russians are not to keen about. It is hard to lie about that. But, the key question among many is if Putin’s story is so correct and Ukraine was a danger to Russia, why is he arresting Russian anti-war protestors and blocking access to news?

Russian oil company calls for end to Putin’s war

This interesting headline caught my attention yesterday. As you read this, please remember oil is the number one industry in Russia, accounting for a large hunk of their GDP.

Lukoil: Russian oil company calls for an end to Putin’s war by Charles Riley, CNN Business is an article with a major statement. The article can be linked to below, but here are a few salient paragraphs:

Russia’s second largest oil company has broken ranks with President Vladimir Putin.

Lukoil, which produces more than 2% of the world’s crude oil and employs over 100,000 people, has called for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The company’s board of directors said in a statement to shareholders, staff and customers that it was ‘calling for the soonest termination of the armed conflict.

‘We express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy. We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy,’ the board added.”

Two comments. First, this is not just one CEO saying this. This statement comes from a Board of Directors, who would take a sober vote on such matters. Second, they would not make such a vote if they did not feel Putin was in the wrong. These folks know what they are risking, but seeing civilians in Ukraine being harmed, protests in Russia and global reaction to Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, they are making a statement to the world and too the Russian people.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/lukoil-russian-oil-company-calls-for-an-end-to-putin-s-war/ar-AAUBqH8?ocid=msedgntp

Wednesday wanderings in early March – Ukraine focused

It looks like a beautiful day here, but like many I am glued to the news of what is happening in Ukraine. As for here, last night all three of our adult children gathered with us and it was a delight to hear and participate in the conversation.

Here are a few wanderings for this first Wednesday in March.

-I read where China delegates are having conversation with Ukraine leaders. That has to stick in the craw of the malevolent acting autocrat in Moscow.

-I also read Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton said Trump would not have stood in Putin’s way if he invaded Ukraine on Trump’s watch. I have no trouble believing that to be true, as Putin could steer Trump any way he wanted.

-The Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky is doing what a leader should do. He is right there with his people telling the Russians and their malevolent acting autocrat we will not back down. Ukraine may not prevail, but one has to admire Zelensky and his people’s moxie.

-I read that Russia may start defaulting on debts if the invasion takes too long. Long military campaigns cost money and that is money Russia does not have a lot to spare. The Russian people know this even though they are mostly too scared to go out with the tens of thousands protestors and say so given the 6,000 arrests.

-Again, the malevolent acting autocrat may prevail on the military side, but he has already lost big time. In the course of two weeks, he has managed to galvanize NATO and the EU and show to the world the kind of person he is. Future investment in his country will return at some point, but it may take longer this time.

-Finally, per my previous post, please listen to and watch people on the news and opinion shows who know what they are talking about. Former Moscow bureau chief for Fox Jennfier Griffin and Dr. Fiona Hill are two experts on Russia and are among a handful worth listening to. The last people to listen to are opinion hosts who are more entertainers than news people, especially when they are not known for being truthful.

As Senator Mitt Romney said on Sunday, supporting a leader of another country who is bent on taking freedoms away is not something to admire. We should be firmly against this kind of tyranny. Sadly, those who are so doing are acquiescing to a former president who admires that type of aggression and that kind of leader.

Brazil, Russia and America – tell tale signs

Three countries that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic are Brazil, Russia and America. A key similarity is their three leaders down-played the pandemic. And, Messers. Jair Bolsonaro, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump continue their misinformation to this day.

A pandemic expert who participated in a Bush task force on pandemics, said mission one is to tell people the truth. He noted Singapore remained opened, but the leaders told people the truth, told them what they needed to do with social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, testing, and tracing, and because of being truthful, people did what they were asked. Singapore has had a far better handle on this than these three countries.

In an article in The HuffPost called “Brazil is the new epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic” by Travis Waldron, the following quote jumps off the screen, “Bolsonaro’s denial and incompetence have led to a predictable surge in cases.” Brazil has had national two health directors resign in the last two months over differences with the Bolsonaro who has been encouraging gatherings and shaking hands in public. Brazil has roughly 7% of the global COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin has also downplayed not only the virus, but has made sure the numbers are watered down. While publishing 7% of the global COVID-19 cases, the deaths have been published at only 1%. Per a Time article, “Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin admitted on May 7, the real number of infections in the capitol city was at least three times higher than the official figure.” Putin’s folks deny that the number fudging is happening. But, we should never forget how leaders in the predecessor Soviet Union denied the massive problem of the Chernobyl meltdown.

Not to be outdone, the US leads the way. With about 5% of the global population, the US has over 31% of the COVID-19 cases. The US president actually said this was a “badge of honor” due to our testing. Yet, we have not done near enough testing and people getting sick is not a badge of honor. Further, we have 28% of the reported global deaths. From the outset, the president naysayed, downplayed, even said the Democrats were making this into a hoax. The misinformation continues to this day with false bravado, failing to push national interventions on masks and testing, not wearing a mask, promoting cures, citing incorrect data and even stating we should try to ingest disinfectant. But, the key is we missed 6 weeks of planning to prepare ourselves and that failing rests on the shoulders of the person we needed to be presidential.

Fortunately, governors of both political parties have made more fact based decisions based on their states. And, for the most part, the American people have come together to help each other. The governors who have tried to follow the president’s lead, find themselves risking their populations more than they should. And, one that tried to read the president’s mind, found himself criticized by the president when the public reacted negatively. The sad truth is the US president’s mission one is not telling the truth – it never has been on any issue – it is to make himself look good and win the reelection. When someone makes decisions based on errant goals, the problem will continue.

The hard truth is COVID-19 will linger with us for some time and will spike again in cases and deaths. Some of that uptick is occurring now in areas. COVID-19 cares not about geography or party. The president is not incorrect when he says more testing increases the number of detected cases, but that is only part of the story. The more people gather together, the pandemic will rear its ugly head and increase occurrences. We must be smart about how we interact with society and others in the many months ahead. And, we need people in leadership positions to tell the truth.