Roe v. Wade

Occupy Democrats – Post from Gail Mollett

Thomas Clay Jr. – May 3, 2022

May be an image of 2 people and people standing

“I have never uttered these words before because my mom swore me to never tell anyone. I think she’d want me to tell it now because in the end, all secrets stink. I had two brothers who were never born. My mom and dad dated when they were teens and dad knocked mom all the way up, twice. My mom looked like Marilyn Monroe in her youth. Several men at her funeral mentioned that she was the most beautiful woman they’d ever seen.

I was surprised my dad told me that as a teen after they’d been to war with one another. Mom was 16 the first time she had an abortion. She was lucky because Granny saved her money and bought her the tickets to go to New York to get it. Aunt Mickey married a big shot there so it was all easy peasy. Though my Granny was an evangelical, she knew the realities of being a teen mother and she wanted a better life for my mom.

The second one was almost the same. She went to New York quietly and came back. I never asked my dad if he knew but I suspect my Granny always hated him because of those two pregnancies. Mom told me she was lucky because she knew another girl who got pregnant and tried to use some Lysol to terminate her pregnancy. When that didn’t work, she perforated her uterus with a coat hanger. She bled to death.

Granny knew about this too which is why she didn’t get all high and mighty about it. You have to understand that I was as close to my mom as any other human being. We trusted each other. She told me everything. It was about two weeks before the cancer took her when she saw how ugly and spiteful my sisters were towards me and said, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t keep your brothers but I wasn’t ready to have them.’

It was the most intimate moment because she’d never told me they were boys. It was the moment when the reality of her impending death hit me like a bomb. She’d lived ten years past the three months they gave her to live and in that moment I knew she was telling me her deepest secret. I could feel the burden she carried floating away. In the moment, I was grateful I got to say all the things that mattered to her and that she said those things to me. I know how lucky I am to have known unconditional love. There is truly nothing like it. I miss it more than words can convey.

Mom was always a fighter. My mom was the kind of feminist that made Gloria Steinem look like Phyllis Schlafly. She was a 5’4” category 5 hurricane. Captain of the cheerleaders, she was loud too. I remember in 1976 when we went out to Poplar Level Road to the Board of Education when teachers were on strike in Louisville. She had her bullhorn leading everyone around the building. I got a blister on my foot and she carried me around hollering like only she could. She was a pistol.

When I awoke this morning to the news that Alito has written the majority decision to strike down Roe vs. Wade, I thought about what her NSFW response would be. All them Republican senators are lucky that she’s dead. She did not like men telling her what she could or could not do much to the chagrin of my Grandpa.

I cannot remember a day since I ran into Mitch McConnell in 1986 at a cocktail party where I did not absolutely hate the man. When Robert Bork was justly voted down to be a Supreme Court Justice, Mitch McConnell swore a blood oath that night that he would never lose another Supreme Court appointment and to the full horror of American women and corpse worms, Mitch has kept his blood oath.

If you are a semi-conscious sentient human being, it is important for you to understand now, at this moment, you are at war with the Republican Party and it is a just cause. It is important that we recognize our enemy and to not grant them the comfort of our silence.

So let us first recognize what overturning Roe v. Wade means. It means in no uncertain terms that if your mom or sister or wife are violently beaten and raped in the 30-odd states run by Republicans and they get pregnant, they have to give birth to the rapists’ child. If that happens in Oklahoma and the rape victim goes to a sane state to have an abortion, she can be sued by the rapist’s family. She will have to pay them $20,000 if she terminates her pregnancy. If any teenage girl is raped by any family member, she must give birth. If she tries to abort an incest baby, she will be prosecuted for murder.

In Alabama they are currently drafting legislation to make abortion a capital offense. There are no exceptions after 15 weeks. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, well it was nice knowing you, you die. It is important for now and forever to understand that literally *everything* a Republican says is a lie and it is meant to deceive. When Republicans bemoan ‘activist judges’ it is specifically because they only want *their* activists judges.

Remember how Republicans kept talking about cutting down on the ‘frivolous lawsuits’ but do not give a damn about Devin Nunes suing an imaginary cow? Or Trump suing to try and keep the people from knowing what he did while in office?

It’s because Republicans lie about big things and small. There is nothing valid in anything they say because they lie constantly. Marjorie Traitor Greene talked about Trump implementing ‘Marshall law” multiple times and when she’s put under oath and asked about that, ‘she doesn’t remember’. When they are caught lying, they lie even more.

Do not tolerate some ‘both sides are the same’ imbecile either. Democrats protect rights and Republicans strip them away if they offend their religious beliefs because they don’t care about the constitution! It’s like the Bible to them, they only care about the parts they like and throw the rest out because they don’t care. If you are upset about Republicans granting more rights to an actual corpse than living and breathing women then you have to stop pretending like the forces of evil are not determined to make the United States into the Gileade Margaret Atwood warned us about.

We have extremists Supreme Court Justices now who are more than willing to toss out the constitution because to them biblical law supersedes the constitution and that is exactly why Leonard Leo started the Federalist Society to get these perfectly coached Christian dominionists on the court.

Neil Gorsuch, Bret Kavanaugh, Sam Alito, Amy Barret and Clarence Thomas all testified that Roe v. Wade was ‘settled law’ in their confirmation hearings and each and every single one of them said that because Leonard Leo coached them to say that and whenever they were asked about some other case they were coached to say, ‘that case could be revisited by the court and it would be inappropriate for me to comment’ which isn’t an option to avoid answering questions you don’t want to answer.

They lied, all of them. They are political actors as dirty as Mitch McConnell bemoaning how people are talking about justices being political when they’re not. It’s a lie. They are gaslighting you. It is the only thing Republicans know to do.

When was the last time you heard any Republican say, ‘oops sorry I was wrong about that.’? It doesn’t happen because all of these cold-blooded miscreants think they are warriors in God’s service trying to bring the prophecy of the book of revelations to pass. They WANT war. They want all of the worst things in that disgusting book of fiction to happen like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Religious extremists have been on a crusade against Roe from the beginning and now they have succeeded in imposing their primitive religious beliefs on the entire nation under the moronic notion of ‘states rights.’ All women in the United States are now second class citizens who do not get to enjoy the bodily autonomy we grant a corpse because we still respect the right of a corpse to keep its organs. The reason our founders made the separation of church and state their very first amendment is because they fully understood that religion and civilizations cannot coexist for long.

It took 240 years for Republicans to forget this very bloody fact and here we are at war with religious zealots on the Supreme Court who have abrogated 240 years of constitutional law in lieu of Catholic doctrine. Every single one of the justices voting to overthrow Roe are Catholic. And make no mistake either that Catholics believe that any form of birth control is abortifacient and that will be next up on the agenda and it’s going to be outlawed by the Republican states because Republicans have never and will never give a damn about individual liberty. They care about fighting for their god who they believe is good and righteous; which god is Satan.

It is right that women should be terrified of losing their right to bodily autonomy. As a partisan man, I rejoice at this grievous mistake the Supreme Court will make. The storm that will come this November will change the body politic forever. Republicans will not retake the house now. Two senators keep Joe Biden from appointing the four additional justices to fix this injustice by the Supreme Court majority who were put there by a vast minority.

This can be fixed if women are angry enough to convert their anger into votes. The storm is taking form tonight and it will build into a Republican calamity of epic proportions come November. Let that passion and fury nourish us all until then.”

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Mexico to reroute trade railway connection from Texas to New Mexico due to Abbot’s $4 billion stunt.

Daily Kos

Mexico to reroute trade railway connection from Texas to New Mexico due to Abbot’s $4 billion stunt.

Gabe Ortiz, Daily Kos Staff – May 03, 2022 

PHARR, TX - APRIL 13: A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper inspects a commercial truck near the Pharr-Reynosa International bridge on April 13, 2022 in Pharr, Texas. The bridge reopened to commercial traffic after 5 p.m. after being closed since Monday because of Mexican truckers on strike. (Photo by Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images)
“A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper inspects a commercial truck near the Pharr-Reynosa International bridge on April 13, 2022 in Pharr, Texas.”

Mexico has been planning a trade railway that spans thousands of miles from Mazatlán to Winnipeg, with a connection in Texas. But while the T-MEC Corridor railway connecting the two nations is still happening, the stop in Texas is not.

Mexican officials have now decided to instead reroute the line through New Mexico, The Dallas Morning News reports. It’s a major loss for Texas, because border states thrive and depend on international trade. But the state has only one person to blame for this change: Greg Abbott.

RELATED STORY: Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star border stunt balloons by another $500 million

Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said Abbott’s political stunt forcing commercial vehicles to undergo redundant inspections caused officials to rethink the Texas connection, all but calling the right-wing governor too volatile to deal with. Abbott shut down his $4 billion stunt just ten days after announcing it, following intense bipartisan opposition ranging from fellow state Republicans to the White House.

“We’re now not going to use Texas,” Clouthier said in the report. “We can’t leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who wants to use trade as a political tool.”

But despite Texas’ own data showing that the governor’s redundant inspections turned up precisely zero migrants or drugs, he’s threatened to reinstate the policy. Not because of some new perceived threat—but because he didn’t like critical remarks by Mexico’s president. That threat probably didn’t help Abbott’s case when it came to the rail line—but why should Mexican officials further deal with a hostile actor when there are far friendlier neighbors?

“Jerry Pacheco, president of the Santa Teresa-based Border Industrial Association, called Clouthier’s announcement ‘a very positive step for New Mexico,’ but cautioned that such a project will take years to complete and ‘anything can happen in that time,’” The Dallas Morning News said. Pacheco told the outlet that they hope this fosters a continued relationship even if there’s a snag with the line.

“If this particular project doesn’t work out, there’ll be other projects that the Mexican government will have and they’ll speak favorably of New Mexico because they know we want to work with them in a constructive way,” Pacheco continued. He noted that Abbott’s stunt forcing massive commercial delays led to higher traffic numbers for his state.

Economists in Texas have said Texas’ now-rescinded policy “will cost the equivalent of 77,000 job years for the country and 36,300 for Texas’ economy,” The Dallas Morning News recently reported. Nationally, Abbott caused us roughly $9 billion in lost gross domestic product. But he’s also going to have to grapple with the interpersonal damage he created with his neighbor to the south (that is, if he even cares). The Dallas Morning News in its newer report said that Mexican Foreign Minster Marcelo Ebrard called Abbott’s policy extortion.

“I close the border and you have to sign whatever I say,” he said is what Abbott was forcing on them. “That’s not a deal; a deal is when you and I are in agreement on something.”

RELATED STORIES:  Angry over Mexico’s remarks, Abbott threatens to reinstate stunt that cost state $4 billion

Not Funny Elon: Elon Musk tweeted that he’d like to buy Coca-Cola to ‘put the cocaine back’ in the soft drink

Elon Musk tweeted that he’d like to buy Coca-Cola to ‘put the cocaine back’ in the soft drink

Cheryl Teh – April 27, 2022

Elon Musk Axel Springer Awards
Elon Musk’s tweet about Coca-Cola came two days after the billionaire acquired Twitter in a $44 billion deal. 
  • Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday that he’d like to buy Coca-Cola. 
  • His reason? He wants to “put the cocaine back” in the soft drink, the billionaire wrote.
  • Many Twitter users have been posting suggestions for other companies that Musk should purchase.

Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday that he would like to purchase Coca-Cola to “put the cocaine back in” the drink. 

Musk’s post came two days after the billionaire acquired Twitter in a $44 billion deal. “Let’s make Twitter maximum fun!” he tweeted less than an hour after voicing his plans for the beverage company.

While Musk’s comments about Coca-Cola were likely tongue-in-cheek, they bear some historical truth.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine was legal in 1885 when John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, first brewed the drink.

At the time, Pemberton’s recipe included a cocaine extract obtained from coca leaves. He described the drink as a “patent medicine” and “brain tonic and intellectual beverage.”

A 1988 New York Times article on The Coca-Cola Company also reported how cocaine was initially included in the drink but eliminated it by the 1900s. 

Representatives for The Coca-Cola Company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. 

Musk’s tweet about Coca-Cola, which went viral, prompted a response from Rep. Lauren Boebert, who took a jab at Hunter Biden’s documented drug use. “Has Hunter been asking you for favors?” she wrote.

Since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was announced, many of the platform’s users have tweeted suggestions at him on what companies he should buy next. 

One Twitter user wrote that Musk should “buy Fox” to get another season of the “Firefly” TV series greenlit, to which Musk responded: “Some sci-fi that actually features sci-fi would be great.” 

Another Twitter user wrote: “@elonmusk should buy the History Channel and make it about history,” to which Musk replied with a laugh-crying emoji.

Twitter has seen huge swings in its user numbers since the buyout, with politically left-leaning accounts losing thousands of followers and right-wing users gaining them in droves.

Michigan state senator hits back at GOP colleague accusing her of ‘grooming’ kids

Yahoo! News

Michigan state senator hits back at GOP colleague accusing her of ‘grooming’ kids

Christopher Wilson, Senior Writer – April 20, 2022

Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow pushed back in a viral speech against the growing trend of Republicans labeling their Democratic opponents as groomers and pedophiles.

McMorrow responded Tuesday morning to accusations made in a fundraising email by Republican state Sen. Lana Theis that her Democratic colleague wanted to “groom and sexualize kindergarteners.”

“I didn’t expect to wake up yesterday to the news that the senator from the 22nd District had, overnight, accused me by name of grooming and sexualizing children in an email fundraising for herself,” McMorrow said at the beginning of her remarks. “So I sat on it for a while wondering: Why me? And then I realized: Because I am the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme. Because you can’t claim that you are targeting marginalized kids in the name of ‘parental rights’ if another parent is standing up to say no.”

Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow.
Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow. (Senate TV via Twitter)

Republicans have attempted to position themselves as the party of parental rights, with state legislatures across the country introducing a series of bills targeting the LGBTQ community, with those opposing the legislation being labeled as “groomers.” They’ve also targeted books that discuss race and gender while attempting to make it illegal for parents to seek gender-affirming care for transgender children. Prominent right-wing media figures have focused on anti-LGBTQ attacks in recent weeks.

“So then what?” continued McMorrow. “Then you dehumanize and marginalize me. You say that I’m one of them. You say she’s a groomer, she supports pedophilia, she wants children to believe that they were responsible for slavery and to feel bad about themselves because they’re white.”

McMorrow’s speech has been viewed over 9 million times in the less than 24 hours since she posted it to her Twitter account. During her comments, she talked about growing up being active in the church, working with her mother at a soup kitchen and the civil rights work of Father Ted Hesburgh, the former president of her alma mater, Notre Dame.

“I learned that service was far more important than performative nonsense like being seen in the same pew every Sunday or writing ‘Christian’ in your Twitter bio and using that as a shield to target and marginalize already marginalized people,” McMorrow said, emphasizing that she is a white, straight, Christian, suburban mom and that those promoting the attacks were using it to deflect from the fact that they weren’t working on the real issues.

“I know that hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen,” concluded McMorrow, who was first elected in 2018 and is on the ballot again this November. “So I want to be very clear right now: Call me whatever you want. I hope you brought in a few dollars. I hope it made you sleep good last night. I know who I am. I know what faith and service means and what it calls for in this moment. We will not let hate win.”

Theis’s rhetoric against McMorrow in the fundraising email sent out on Monday read, “These are the people we are up against. Progressive social media trolls like Senator Malloy McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom and sexualize kindergarteners or that 8-year-olds are responsible for slavery.” She added that “enlightened elites” believe parents “must surrender to the wisdom of teacher unions, trans-activists, and the education bureaucracy.”

Theis targeted McMorrow and other Democrats in the Senate after they walked out of a session last Wednesday due to the content of Theis’s invocation, which the legislators took as a precursor to action against LGBTQ educators.

“Dear Lord, across the country we’re seeing in the news that our children are under attack. That there are forces that desire things for them other than what their parents would have them see and hear and know. Dear Lord, I pray for your guidance in this chamber to protect the most vulnerable among us,” said Theis, who is chair of the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee.

Michigan state Sen. Lana Theis.
Michigan state Sen. Lana Theis in 2019. (David Eggert/AP)

“The ‘forces’ are, of course, public school teachers, and the ‘things’ are the LGBTQ community,” tweeted Democratic state Sen. Dayna Polehanki. “To pervert the Senate Invocation in this way is beyond the pale.”

“Without sharing or repeating closed-minded harmful words from a sitting Senator under the guise of a ‘prayer,’ to every child in Michigan — you are perfect and welcome and loved for being exactly who you are,” added McMorrow on Twitter.

A number of GOP senators used the confirmation hearings of new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to label her as soft on child pornography offenders, despite repeated analyses showing that Jackson’s rulings were within the mainstream of her fellow judges. When three Republican senators said they would vote to confirm Jackson, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., called them “pro-pedophile.” The following day, she referred to Democrats as the “party of pedophiles.”

Greene’s comments and the general trend toward accusations of pedophilia echo the QAnon conspiracy theory, supported by Greene in the past, which alleges that former President Donald Trump was working to take down a powerful cabal of child traffickers typically portrayed as the Democratic elite. Believers in the debunked theory frequently allege that their political opponents support pedophiles. Those pushing the accusations have a large audience, as a recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 16% of Americans believed that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., addresses Trump supporters in Commerce, Ga., on March 26. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

McMorrow’s direct response is a contrast to what the national Democratic strategy has been to the increase of Republicans claiming they are a party of “pedophiles” and “groomers.” Vice News spoke to a number of prominent House Democrats last week about Greene’s comments.

“I don’t even really pay attention to anything she says because she has nothing rational to say. It seems to me to be a ridiculous allegation,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., a member of House Democratic leadership. “We’re focused right now on getting things done for everyday Americans: lowering costs, addressing gas prices and inflation. They can continue to peddle lies and conspiracy theories.”

“I see polling that shows that that outrageous characterization is landing with some folks,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., told the outlet. “But you also don’t really want to give oxygen to the land of misfit toys, which is where this is coming [from].”

In Conference Call Before Riot, a Plea to ‘Descend on the Capitol

The New York Times

In Conference Call Before Riot, a Plea to ‘Descend on the Capitol’

Alan Feuer – April 13, 2022

One week before an angry mob stormed the Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger Stone, joined a conference call with a group of President Donald Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea.

After assuring his listeners that the 2020 election had been stolen, Sullivan told them that they had to go to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count — and “descend on the Capitol,” according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.

While Sullivan claimed that he was “not inciting violence or any kind of riots,” he urged those on the call to make their presence felt at the Capitol in a way that would intimidate members of Congress, telling the group that they had to ensure that lawmakers inside the building “understand that people are breathing down their necks.”

He also pledged that Trump was going to take action on his own; the president, he said, was going to impose a form of martial law on Jan. 6 and would not be leaving office.

“Biden will never be in that White House,” Sullivan declared. “That’s my promise to each and every one of you.”

The recording of the call, which took place on Dec. 30, 2020, emerged as the Justice Department has expanded its criminal investigation of the Capitol attack. It offers a glimpse of the planning that went on in the runup to the storming of the Capitol and the mindset of some of those who zeroed in on Jan. 6 as a kind of last stand for keeping Trump in office.

It also reflects the complexities that federal prosecutors are likely to face as they begin the task of figuring out how much — or even whether — people involved in the political rallies that preceded the assault can be held accountable for the violence that erupted.

After more than a year of focusing exclusively on rioters who took part in the storming of the Capitol, prosecutors have widened their gaze in recent weeks and have started to question whether those involved in encouraging protests — like the one that Sullivan was describing — can be held culpable for disrupting the work of Congress.

Sullivan’s remarks during the call appeared to be an effort to motivate a group of people aggrieved by the election to take direct action against members of Congress on Jan. 6, presaging what Trump himself would say in a speech that day. While it remains unclear whether anyone on Sullivan’s call went on to join the mob that breached the Capitol, he seemed to be exhorting his listeners to apply unusual pressure on lawmakers just as they were overseeing the final count of Electoral College votes.

In a statement provided by his lawyer, Sullivan played down the nature of the call, saying he had merely “shared some encouragement” with what he described as “people who all felt their votes had been disenfranchised in the 2020 elections.” Sullivan said he had been asked to participate in the call by a group of anti-vaccine activists — or what he called “health freedom advocate moms” — who were hosting “a small, permitted event” at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“I only promoted peaceful solutions where Americans could raise their voices and be heard as expressed in our First Amendment,” Sullivan said in the statement. “I in no way condone the violence of any protesters.”

Still, in the recording of the call, Sullivan can be heard telling his listeners that the lawmakers inside the Capitol “need to feel pressure.”

“If we make the people inside that building sweat and they understand that they may not be able to walk in the streets any longer if they do the wrong thing, then maybe they’ll do the right thing,” he said. “We have to put that pressure there.”

As the Justice Department widens its inquiry, federal prosecutors are using a grand jury in Washington to gather information on political organizers, speakers and so-called VIPs connected to a series of pro-Trump rallies after the 2020 election. One prominent planner of those rallies, Ali Alexander, received a subpoena from the grand jury and said last week that he intended to comply with its requests.

In the run-up to Jan. 6, Alexander publicly discussed a pressure campaign against lawmakers that was meant to stop the final electoral count, saying he was working with Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, all Republicans.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video on Periscope. The plan, he said, was to “change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”

It is unclear if the Justice Department is aware of Sullivan’s conference call; the department declined to comment. The House committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 was provided with a copy of the recording some months ago by the woman who made it, Staci Burk, a law student and Republican activist from Arizona.

Shortly after the election, Burk became convinced that phony ballots had been flown in bulk into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. She eventually submitted an anonymous affidavit concerning the ballots in an election fraud case filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix by pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell.

After becoming involved with Powell, Burk said she had been approached by several members of a right-wing paramilitary group, the 1st Amendment Praetorian, which was associated with a former legal client of Powell’s, Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

Burk said that members of the group then placed her under unwanted surveillance, insisting on moving into her home in what they described as an effort to protect her from people who might want to retaliate against her for coming forward about voter fraud.

It was a member of the 1st Amendment Praetorian, Burk said, who had joined the conference call that featured Sullivan. Burk said she recorded the call, much like she recorded other activities by the 1st Amendment Praetorian, because she felt threatened and unsafe by the group’s presence in her home.

At one point during the call, Sullivan was asked by an unknown questioner whether Trump intended to impose martial law on Jan. 6. That explosive notion had been raised publicly two weeks earlier by Flynn during an appearance on the right-wing television network Newsmax.

Sullivan answered the question by telling the man that he foresaw Trump putting in place “a limited form of martial law” on Jan. 6.

“I don’t see any other way around it, because he’s not going to allow an election fraud to take place,” Sullivan said. “It’s not going to happen.”

A social media consultant who calls himself “the Wizard of Twitter,” Sullivan worked for a political action committee run by Stone, a longtime confidant of Trump’s, during the 2016 presidential campaign. According to Reuters, one of the projects he did for Stone was a strategy document describing how to use Twitter “swarms” to amplify political messages.

More recently, Sullivan has taken an active role in promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that prominent liberals belong to a cult of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. At a public appearance last year with Powell and Flynn, Sullivan called Hillary Rodham Clinton a “god-awful woman” and then made a gesture suggesting she should be hanged.

On the conference call ahead of Jan. 6, Sullivan told his listeners that he was an expert at making things go viral online, but that it was not enough to simply spread the message that the election had been stolen.

“There has to be a multiple-front strategy, and that multiple-front strategy, I do think, is descend on the Capitol, without question,” he said. “Make those people feel it inside.”

Supreme Court reinstates Trump-era water rule, for now

Associated Press

Supreme Court reinstates Trump-era water rule, for now

Jessica Gresko – April 6, 2022

  • FILE - Visitors walk outside the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 21, 2022. The Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, reinstated for now a Trump-era rule that had curtailed the power of states and Native American tribes to block pipelines and other energy projects that can pollute rivers, streams and other waterways. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) Visitors walk outside the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 21, 2022. The Supreme Court reinstated for now a Trump-era rule that had curtailed the power of states and Native American tribes to block pipelines and other energy projects that can pollute rivers, streams and other waterways. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
  • FILE - Frozen water pools in a corn field near a Keystone pipeline pumping station in rural Milford, Neb., Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. The Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, reinstated for now a Trump-era rule that had curtailed the power of states and Native American tribes to block pipelines and other energy projects that can pollute rivers, streams and other waterways. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)Frozen water pools in a corn field near a Keystone pipeline pumping station in rural Milford, Neb., Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. The Supreme Court reinstated for now a Trump-era rule that had curtailed the power of states and Native American tribes to block pipelines and other energy projects that can pollute rivers, streams and other waterways. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated for now a Trump-era rule that curtails the power of states and Native American tribes to block pipelines and other energy projects that can pollute rivers, streams and other waterways.

In a decision that split the court 5-4, the justices agreed to halt a lower court judge’s order throwing out the rule. The high court’s action does not interfere with the Biden administration’s plan to rewrite the rule. Work on a revision has begun, but the administration has said a final rule is not expected until the spring of 2023. The Trump-era rule will remain in effect in the meantime.

The court’s three liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented. The court’s other conservative justices, including three nominated by President Donald Trump, voted to reinstate the rule.

Writing for the dissenters, Justice Elena Kagan said the group of states and industry associations that had asked for the lower court’s ruling to be put on hold had not shown the extraordinary circumstances necessary to grant that request.

Kagan said the group had failed to demonstrate their harm if the judge’s decision were left in place. She said the group had not identified a “single project that a State has obstructed” in the months since the judge’s decision and had twice delayed making a request, indicating it was not urgent.

Kagan said the court’s majority had gone “astray” in granting the emergency petition and was misusing the process for dealing with such requests. That process is sometimes called the court’s “shadow docket” because the court provides a decision quickly without the full briefing and argument. The liberal justices have recently been critical of its use.

As is typical, the justices in the majority did not explain their reasoning.

Kagan wrote that her colleagues’ decision “renders the Court’s emergency docket not for emergencies at all.”

The Biden administration had told the justices in a court filing that it agreed that the U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup lacked the authority to throw out the rule without first determining that it was invalid. But the administration had urged the court not to reinstate the rule, saying that in the months since the Alsup’s ruling, officials have adapted to the change, reverting to regulations in place for decades. Another change would “cause substantial disruption and disserve the public interest,” the administration said.

Alsup was nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton.

The section of federal law at issue in the case is Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. For decades, it had been the rule that a federal agency could not issue a license or permit to conduct any activity that could result in any discharge into navigable waters unless the affected state or tribe certified that the discharge was complied with the Clean Water Act and state law, or waived certification.

The Trump administration in 2020 curtailed that review power after complaints from Republicans in Congress and the fossil fuel industry that state officials had used the permitting process to stop new energy projects. The Trump administration said its actions would advance then-President Donald Trump’s goal to fast-track energy projects such as oil and natural gas pipelines.

States, Native American Tribes and environmental groups sued. Several mostly Republican-led states, a national trade association representing the oil and gas industry and others have intervened in the case to defend the Trump-era rule. The states involved in the case are: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, West Virginia, Wyoming and Texas.

Yes, Putin has already lost his war against humanity, but he’s still capable of devastating a world that see’s him as irrelevant.

John Hanno, – March 10, 2022

Putin and Ukraine backfire by Dave Granlund,

Putin has commenced blaming (firing, exiling to Siberia, jailing or who knows what else) those he believes failed his vision of a reborn Soviet Empire. Based on a keen sense of self preservation, browbeaten close advisors surely decided to refrain from trying to stop him blundering into the senseless and self destructive war/invasion of a Democratic, peaceful, industrious and successful neighbor, for merely exposing Putin and his Kleptocratic criminal enterprises tenuous hold on an emerging partially-woke Russian populace.

Putin believed Ukrainian’s would welcome his poorly trained military conscripts with open arms and kisses of gratitude for rounding-up all the Nazi’s left over from WWII. Unfortunately, no one with an ounce of authority dared remind him Ukraine was a Democratic nation led by a Democratically elected Jew, who’s great grand-parents died when the Nazis burned their village and his grandfather and his grandfather’s brothers all entered the Soviet Red Army, but only his grandfather survived.

He also believed those hoodwinked low paid conscripts would engender as much nationalistic determination as the patriotic Ukrainian’s fighting for their lives and loved ones and their nation and Democracy.

Likewise, the cowed generals seated at the block long conference table, peed their highly decorated uniforms every time they had to fend off taunts and darts fired by Putin at 60 paces. No one had the courage to stop a madman bent on destroying a peaceful neighbor, and with it their own Russian Federation.

Putin can’t blame the Russian zombie nation he keeps behind his Iron Curtain of propaganda, but the rest of the world can and will. His facade though, is showing as many cracks as the vaunted Russian war machine. In spite of Putin’s flashback to Czarist Russia, this is the 21st Century, where information grapevines steeped with minute-by-minute news and world views are influenced and possibly distorted by Facebook, Instagram, twitter, Snapchat etc. etc.

Putin’s information wack-a mole isn’t keeping pace with modern day technology. Each time he quashes another independent media source, a couple more pop up.

It could be Radio Free Europe broadcasting through the maze. It might be a courageous state sponsored news room producer dancing across the nightly news set behind an unaware spokesperson, with a sign begging viewers to open their eyes and ears.

Or Arnold Schwarzenegger using Twitter and Telegram to speak directly to his Russian followers, telling them about his fathers actions during the siege of Leningrad, which caused him a lifetime of both physical pain from a broken back and shrapnel and mental pain from guilt, for participating in an unjust war. He pleaded for the Russian soldiers to keep from making the same tragic mistakes his father made.

It might even be a few reformed self preserving oligarchs clearing their conscience and or spilling the beans in return for titles to their confiscated multimillion dollar condos, yachts and jets.

It could be the more than 200,000 Russians fleeing the country, a massive brain drain not witnessed since the worst of the Soviet Union’s dark days. It could be the growing thousands of Russian protestors courageous enough to risk a quick trip to a gulag and 15 years in prison for calling Putin’s invasion and war just what it is.

Yes, the lack of information/abundance of ignorance will be a challenge to overcome; approximately 65% of the Russian public believe Putin is acting responsibly, is standing up for and preserving the mother-land, is not a diabolical monster, is going god’s work faithfully endorsed by the State Sponsored Russian Orthodox Church Military Industrial Kleptocratic Complex, all based on what stories Putin jambs down their throat.

It’s unlikely Putin’s ultra ego will allow him to turn tail and flee back to Russia in disgrace; he will continue to pummel and plunder innocent civilians until the heavily sanctioned citizens of Russia get tired of living in terror, in financial depravation and in national disgrace. Will Putin take a bullet, fire himself, hang himself, flee the country, maybe to one of his yachts and just drift into oblivion.

During an interview, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked spokesperson for Putin, Dmitry Peskov, about his intension of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

“I need to ask you this, because the world is afraid, and I want to know whether Putin intends the world to be afraid of the nuclear option. Would he use it?” the CNN anchor asked Peskov.

Putin “intends to make the world listen to and understand our concerns” about the perceived “anti-Russia” threat from the West, said Peskov.

“I want to ask you again. Is President Putin, because, again, the Finnish president said to me that when he asked Putin directly about this, because President Putin has laid that (nuclear) card on the label, President Putin said that, if anybody tries to stop him, very bad things will happen. And I want to know whether you are convinced or confident that your boss will not use that option.”

“Well, we have a concept of domestic security, and, well, it’s public. You can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used,” Peskov responded. “So, if it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used, in accordance with our concept.”

But since the only existential threat to the Russian Federation is clearly Putin himself, I guess he should nuke himself and all the cowards in the Kremlin and the Federal Assembly, who failed to stop him from blundering into his existential threat to humanity.

Putin claimed he was invading Ukraine in order to save it from Nazi overlords who disdain Russian speaking Ukrainians. But what exactly does President Putin and the Russian war mongers have to offer Ukraine, or anyone for that matter? Terrorized families, more than 10 million refugees, millions of women and children fleeing for their lives, grand parents hiding in cellars because they’re too disabled or feeble to flee. Beautiful historic cities bombed into dust. Starving innocent people dogging rockets and missiles, and mass graves when they fail that. A ruling government that commanders 85% of a nations wealth and hands it over to a handful of connected oligarchs. Leadership that invests the balance of that GDP in military weapons of war and a domestic police state apparatus that suppresses descent, choice, individualism and above all, freedom. Ukraine has clearly seen this playbook before and are determined to fight with every ounce of their battered bodies to preserve their Democracy.

Putin has no one to blame but himself, for creating this Putinopia of his own imagination and for investing in a brutally structured Kleptocratic czarism, instead of in the Russian people.

When and if Putin finally cries uncle, there must be no plausible justifications or excuses condoned and no face saving plea deals negotiated this time. Ukraine, Europe and the entire world demands long overdue justice from this Russian marauder. Only a reckoning before the World Criminal Court for the perpetrators and supporters of this conflagration will suffice, and reparations for a plundered, innocent, sovereign nation must be exacted.

This time, for the good of the world and human existence, the civilized world cannot let this megalomaniac off the hook; the businesses who pulled out of Russia must refuse to return until Putin and his lot are disposed of. A free and fair election of all government officials supervised by a United Nations tribunal could go a long way to eventually returning Russia to some semblance of respect and legitimacy.

The crippling sanctions must remain in place until Ukraine is guaranteed security, reparations and justice. The thousands of war protestors, including political prisoners like Alexis Navalny must be exonerated. I guess it’s better late than never that countries who prospered from riches stolen from Russia are finally taking international money laundering laws serious, but if they and the U.S. had done more to crack down on Russia’s ruling Kleptocrats during the last two decades of Putin’s criminal reign, maybe he wouldn’t have had the means to launch this war.

America and the West must also come to terms with it’s own failings. Access to Russia’s oil and gas can no longer justify allowing Vladman the Madman to threaten the entire world order and existence with a nuclear holocaust. And if the Russian people and their cowed institutions can’t keep Putin or his successors in check, NATO and the United Nations must.

And blindly obedient Trump cult followers, far right government haters and our right wing media must also wake up. Idolizing, enabling and refusing to hold Autocrats and tyrants like Putin and his adoring want-a-be Donald J. Trump accountable for criminal conduct encourages and enables catastrophic tragedies like we’re witnessing in Ukraine today.

The blatant lies used by Putin to invade a peaceful, sovereign Democratic nation reminds us of the 2020 election “Big Lie” Trump still propagates to delude his faithful. But as Ukraine and the world tragically now realizes, condoning lies and ignoring the truth and facts can have apocalyptic consequences. In addition to Putin’s senseless war of choice, Trump and his sheeple used lies and conspiracies to try to overturn a free and fair election and attempt to overthrow our own Democracy. Putin and Trump are one in the same when it comes to truth telling.

Fake news collaborators can’t be ignored or downplayed. The Foxification of Russia’s state run media and the Russification of our own far right wing nationalistic media, undermines democratic fundamentals and the rule of law in both countries.

The Biden administration just finally passed a $1.2 trillion long overdue infrastructure bill. If Russia stopped the war today, it would probably cost more than that to rebuild Ukraine. And how many generations will it take before the millions of tons of forever chemicals and toxic military materials can be scrubbed and leached from Ukraine’s homeland soil and water. This war has set back environmental and climate change progress in Europe for a decade or more and self serving maniacs like Putin and Trump couldn’t care less.

I’ve written about tarbabys many times and said that a certain one might be the biggest one yet, but this Ukraine tarbaby latched on by Putin might just top all those others combined. Brer Rabbit Putin thought he could just waltz into his neighbors backyard and take by force what the industrious and forward thinking Ukrainians have nurtured since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But considering the crippling lasting sanctions on Russia’s economy and Russian society, Putin’s blatant disregard for anyone but himself, the consequential damages inflicted on Ukraine and it’s defenders, the pain and grief and misery suffered by so many, this tar on Russia’s national reputation will take many generations to erase.

Colwell: Things would surely be different in Ukraine if Trump were president

South Bend Tribune

Colwell: Things would surely be different in Ukraine if Trump were president

Jack Colwell – April 3, 2022

Donald Trump is right. If he were still president, the situation would be far different in Ukraine.

If Mike Pence had ignored his Hoosier values of truth, justice and the Constitution and cooperated in overturning the election results, Trump could now be president.

There would be no danger of armed conflict between Russia and NATO over Ukraine.

There would be no NATO. Trump contended throughout his first term that NATO was outdated. He belittled and insulted leaders of European nations in the alliance. He was reluctant to support the collective-defense agreement known as Article 5. By now in a second term, he would have pulled out of the alliance and scuttled it.

There would be no suggestion from a President Trump that Vladimir Putin is a butcher and must go after Russia invaded Ukraine. Trump praised the “genius” of Putin as Russia amassed troops for the invasion. And he wouldn’t let a little thing like Russia seeking to dominate its neighbor ruin his bromance with Putin. Hey, he pulled out of Syria and let Russia dominate there.

There would be no long, heroic stand by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He would have been dead a month ago. Trump holds a grudge. Zelenskyy didn’t announce an investigation of Joe Biden before the election, even when Trump held up needed defensive weapons for Ukraine to force it. Fervent Trump supporters like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn haven’t forgotten. They call Zelenskyy a “thug” and “corrupt.” Trump, if still president, wouldn’t forget and wouldn’t coordinate massive arms shipments and sanctions to save Zelenskyy and thwart friend Putin.

There would be no Ukraine. Without the United States and a unified NATO providing the help to stall the invasion, Russia would have smashed into Kyiv and disposed of Zelenskyy, still with a terrible toll in Ukraine civilian deaths but with less delay against an outgunned Ukrainian military left without needed weapons.

Trump, though no longer president, still speaks out, claiming that he really won re-election and demonstrating how he would be responding to Putin if still in the White House.

Trump calls for Putin to do something now, something very important.

It wasn’t a call for Putin to halt the massacres in Ukraine. It was a call for Putin to release possible dirt on President Biden’s black-sheep son Hunter.

Trump resurrected and embellished a controversial, last-minute 2020 campaign contention that Hunter Biden might have (or might not have) received money through funding of a firm by the wife of Moscow’s mayor.

“She gave him $3.5 million,” Trump stated as fact. Why? “I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it,” Trump said. “I think we should know that answer.”

Putin would of course be believed if he announced, “Yes, the Bidens accepted millions in bribes along with that thug Zelenskyy to set up a Nazi government and germ warfare labs in Ukraine.”

Well, U.S. intelligence agencies didn’t believe Putin’s claims that troops on Ukraine’s border weren’t going to invade. They wouldn’t believe he had turned truthful now after a life of lies.

But Trump would believe. He famously declared at a meeting with the Russian leader that he believed the word of Putin over findings of his own intelligence agencies.

If Putin did provide dirt helpful for Trump’s election in 2024, it would pretty much cinch that Trump, if president again, would approve Putin’s conquest of Ukraine and signal no concern over Putin’s desire to return other countries, Poland, Hungary and the Baltics, to their status in the old Soviet Union.

While investigations continue into what Hunter Biden and Donald Trump Jr. might have done wrong, the possible transgressions of either child of a president, proven or not, shouldn’t hinder the efforts to save all those children in Ukraine.

Jack Colwell is a columnist for The Tribune. Write to him in care of The Tribune or by email at

Call Logs Underscore Trump’s Efforts to Sway Lawmakers on Jan. 6

The New York Times

Call Logs Underscore Trump’s Efforts to Sway Lawmakers on Jan. 6

Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman – March 30, 2022

 Peter Navarro, former trade advisor to the White House, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Oct. 30, 2020. (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times).
Peter Navarro, former trade advisor to the White House, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Oct. 30, 2020. (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times).

WASHINGTON — As part of his frenzied attempt to cling to power, President Donald Trump reached out repeatedly to members of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, both before and during the siege of the Capitol, according to White House call logs and evidence gathered by the House committee investigating the attack.

The logs, reported earlier by The Washington Post and CBS and authenticated by The New York Times, indicated that Trump had called Republican members of Congress, including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, as he sought to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes from several states.

But the logs also have a large gap with no record of calls by Trump from critical hours when investigators know that he was making them. The call logs were among documents turned over by the National Archives to the House committee examining the attack last year on the Capitol.

The New York Times reported last month that the committee had discovered gaps in official White House telephone logs from the day of the riot. The Washington Post and CBS reported Tuesday that a gap in the phone logs amounted to 7 hours and 37 minutes, including the period when the building was being assaulted.

Investigators have not uncovered evidence that any of the call logs were tampered with or deleted. It is well known that Trump routinely used his personal cellphone, and those of his aides, to talk with other aides, congressional allies and outside confidants, bypassing the normal channels of presidential communication and possibly explaining why the calls were not logged.

The logs appear to have captured calls that were routed through the White House switchboard. Three former officials who worked under Trump said that he mostly used the switchboard operator for outgoing calls when he was in the residence. He would occasionally use it from the Oval Office, the former officials said, but more often he would make calls through the assistants sitting outside the office, as well as from his cellphone or an aide’s cellphone. The assistants were supposed to keep records of the calls, but officials said the record keeping was not thorough.

People trying to reach Trump sometimes called the cellphone of Dan Scavino, former deputy chief of staff and omnipresent aide, one of the former officials said. (The House committee investigating the attack recommended Monday evening that Scavino be charged with criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a subpoena from the panel.)

But the call logs nevertheless show how personally involved Trump was in his last-ditch attempt to stay in office.

One of the calls made by Trump on Jan. 6, 2021 — at 9:16 a.m. — was to McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, who refused to go along with Trump’s pressure campaign. Trump checked with the White House switchboard operator at 10:40 a.m. to make sure a message had been left for McConnell.

McConnell declined to return the president’s calls, he told reporters Tuesday.

“The last time I spoke to the president was the day after the Electoral College declared President Biden the winner,” McConnell said. “I publicly congratulated President Biden on his victory and received a phone call after that from President Trump and that’s the last time we’ve spoke.”

The logs also show Trump reached out on the morning of Jan. 6 to Jordan, who had been among members of Congress organizing objections to Joe Biden’s election on the House floor.

The logs show Trump and Jordan spoke from 9:24 a.m. to 9:34 a.m. Jordan has acknowledged speaking with Trump on Jan. 6, although he has said he cannot remember how many times they spoke that day or when the calls occurred.

Trump called Hawley at 9:39 a.m., and Hawley returned his phone call. A spokesperson for Hawley said Tuesday that the two men did not connect and did not speak until March. Hawley had been the first senator to announce he would object to Biden’s victory, and continued his objections even after rioters stormed the building and other senators backed off the plan.

The logs also show that Trump spoke from 11:04 a.m. to 11:06 a.m. with former Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who had recently lost his reelection campaign to Sen. Jon Ossoff.

A spokesperson for Sen. Bill Hagerty, R- Tenn., confirmed he had called Trump on Jan. 6 but said they did not connect. Hagerty declined to comment.

Despite the lack of call records from the White House, the committee has learned that Trump spoke on the phone with other Republican lawmakers on the morning of Jan. 6.

For instance, Trump mistakenly called the phone of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, thinking it was the number of Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. Lee then passed the phone to Tuberville, who said he had spoken to Trump for less than 10 minutes as rioters were breaking into the building.

The president also fielded a call from Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the top House Republican, who told Trump that people were breaking into his office on Capitol Hill.

During that call, Trump was said to have sided with the rioters, telling the top House Republicans that members of the mob who had stormed the Capitol were “more upset about the election than you are.”

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, was also calling lawmakers that day and continued to do so even after rioters laid siege to the building. In an evening phone call, he made clear that the effort to fight the result of the election was still alive even after the riot.

“Sen. Tuberville, or I should say Coach Tuberville, this is Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer,” Giuliani said in a voicemail message intended for Tuberville, but mistakenly left on Lee’s phone. “I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down.”

The news of the call logs came the same day that the White House said Biden would not extend executive privilege to cover any testimony to the committee by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, who worked as his advisers.

“The president has spoken to the fact that Jan. 6 was one of the darkest days in our country’s history, and that we must have a full accounting of what happened to ensure that it never occurs again,” said White House spokesperson Kate Bedingfield. “And he’s been quite clear that they posed a unique threat to our democracy and that the constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information about an attack on the Constitution itself.”

Kushner is scheduled to testify before the committee this week, while Ivanka Trump has been negotiating the terms of her potential cooperation.

Some Ukrainians believe Russia is targeting landmarks to erase country from the map

NBC News

Some Ukrainians believe Russia is targeting landmarks to erase country from the map

Conor Devlin – March 28, 2022

Kharkiv’s Fine Arts Museum was locked up tight and the workers had gone. It was after midnight on March 3, a week after the Russian army had invaded Ukraine. The two-story museum, with its 25,000 works of art, had seen no damage.

That changed in an instant. A Russian shell exploded nearby, shaking the building and shattering all its windows. Fortunately, the museum’s director, Myzgina Valentyna, and her staff had taken down the art and moved it to a secure location.

Kharkiv’s 17th century Holy Dormition Cathedral was not so lucky. A day before the museum was hit, Russian forces shelled the cathedral as residents hid inside. While no civilians were injured, the attack destroyed the church’s stained-glass windows and badly damaged some decorations.

Valentyna told NBC News the museum cannot be repaired right now. “The situation in the city is very, very difficult,” she said.

Image: Building of the Fine Art Museum damaged by shelling in Kharkiv (Oleksandr Lapshyn / Reuters)
Image: Building of the Fine Art Museum damaged by shelling in Kharkiv (Oleksandr Lapshyn / Reuters)

Ukraine is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and since the Russians launched their invasion, at least 39 landmarks across the country have been damaged, looted or reduced to ruins, according to the Transatlantic Dialogue Center, a Ukrainian political nonprofit based in Kyiv. On March 23, Mariupol’s city council confirmed via Telegram that the Russian military destroyed the city’s Arkhip Kuindzhi Art Museum, housing over 2,000 exhibits and an extensive collection of works by prominent Ukrainian artists. The fate of the artwork remains unclear.

Targeting historic monuments and cultural heritage sites is a war crime under international law, according to The Hague Convention of 1954. But that all seems to be part of Russia’s plansome cultural authorities say. “They just want to erase from the map Ukraine — our heritage, our history, our identity and Ukraine as an independent state,” said Iryna Podolyak, Ukraine’s former vice minister of culture, who said Russia’s military seems to be targeting cultural heritage sites in addition to houses, hospitals and schools.

Fire trucks near the Dormition Cathedral after shelling by Russian forces of Constitution Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 2, 2022. (Sergey Bobok / AFP - Getty Images)
Fire trucks near the Dormition Cathedral after shelling by Russian forces of Constitution Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 2, 2022. (Sergey Bobok / AFP – Getty Images)
Collateral or intentional damage?

Russia’s military tactics have made it harder to determine whether landmarks are being specifically targeted or whether damage is a byproduct of attacks on the civilian population. Russian forces have shelled nonmilitary areas from long distances in an attempt to demoralize Ukraine and drive civilians out of cities.

Russia has framed the invasion as a rescue of ethnic Russians and a purge of “Nazi” elements from a territory where it has blood and family ties.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told U.N. diplomats via video message on March 1 that “as President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly emphasized, we treat the Ukrainian people, their language and traditions with unfailing respect.”

But on Feb. 21, Putin said in a speech, “There is no nationhood in Ukraine. … Contemporary Ukraine was completely created by Russia … by Soviet Russia.”

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, a professor in Jewish studies at Northwestern University, believes the damage is both collateral and intentional, but “is more likely to be called deliberate destruction.” He notes that Russian authorities have been confiscating textbooks on Ukrainian history from libraries in occupied areas and burning them.

“Putin is absolutely confident, as many Russian bureaucrats [were] in the 1860s,” said Petrovsky-Shtern, “that Ukrainian language doesn’t exist, that Ukrainian people do not exist, that Ukraine is a nonentity and can never be sovereign because there is no such country as Ukraine.”

By leveling the country’s landmarks, some experts argue, Putin will try to redefine Ukraine’s history and culture as Russian. “If we are speaking about Russian politics, during the last few years, we could say that the Russian president and government says there is no Ukrainian culture and everybody is all Russian,” said Igor Kozhan, director general of the Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv.

Monument of city founder Duke de Richelieu is seen covered with sand bags for protection in Odessa (Liashonok Nina / Reuters)
Monument of city founder Duke de Richelieu is seen covered with sand bags for protection in Odessa (Liashonok Nina / Reuters)

This reappropriation is part of Putin’s justification for his war of choice, a belief that Ukrainian cultural experts assert is pure fiction. “It is just the imagination of a sick person,” said Podolyak.

Ukrainians have also hurled the Nazi charge right back at the Russians, as they did Saturday after Russia allegedly damaged an important reminder of genocide. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense tweeted on March 26 that the Russians had “fired on and damaged” the Holocaust Memorial at Drobitsky Yar, site of a German massacre of approximately 15,000 Jewish civilians during World War II. “The Nazis have returned,” said the tweet. “Exactly 80 years later.”

Protecting landmarks

As Ukraine’s museums, monuments and heritage sites come under siege, Ukrainians are banding together to protect their landmarks. Peter Voitsekhovsky, an analyst at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a nonprofit, said residents in Odesa had piled sandbags around the city’s famed 19th century Opera House and the iconic statue of Odesa’s founder, the Duke of Richelieu. Voitsekhovsky said that for Odesans, the Richelieu statue holds the same significance as the Statue of Liberty does for Americans. “With Ukraine’s rich history, there are so many places that are symbols for the soul of the nation,” he added. “But you cannot cover the whole country with all its temples, monuments and churches with sandbags.”

In Lviv, a city in western Ukraine that dates to 1237 and is a UNESCO world Heritage site, workers have covered historic statues in protective materials, installed metal sheets over the stained-glass windows in the town’s Latin Cathedral and removed religious icons from the churches. As the Russian army smashed across the border on Feb. 24, Igor Kozhan’s staff sprang into action, securing the windows, strengthening the walls and transporting the National Museum’s collection to a safe place.

Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum (Bernat Armangue / AP file)
Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum (Bernat Armangue / AP file)

Kozhan also helped draw plans to move the collection out of Ukraine to museums in Western Europe as needed. But he believes “the Russian army won’t be shown on our city streets.”

One of the most important heritage sites in all of Ukraine is St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv. Over 1,000 years old, this gold-domed church was once the center of Ukrainian Orthodox Christianity and is home to a spectacular collection of frescoes, icons and mosaics. But one mosaic stands out. It depicts the Virgin Mary on a gold background with her hands raised toward the sky.

Yuri Shevchuk, a lecturer of Ukrainian at Columbia University, explained that Ukrainians refer to this mosaic as the “Indestructible Wall.” Local legend says that as long as this wall remains standing, Ukraine will never perish.