“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” ― Patrick Henry
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Happy Monday morning. This weekend, Putin’s advancements in Russia suggested a dramatic start to the upcoming two-week war mark. Early this morning, multiple ceasefires were announced in Ukrainian cities. As reported last week, the first set was not long-lasting.
The Russian government is coming down hard against dissidents. As Fox News reported,
The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation’s section on ‘hooliganism’ states that it is ‘is defined as grave violation of public order, which expresses open disrespect to society.’ … protesters would be charged with ‘hooliganism,’ and said that they could face up to five to eight years in jail.
Since the invasion began, over 13,000 anti-war protestors have been arrested at demonstrations. The charges and other consequences have yet to be clarified.
Meanwhile, Western companies including Apply, Disney, and Nike have attempted to take a stand against Russia. However, they are receiving backlash for picking and choosing their humanitarian cares based on politics.
Republican lawmakers have pointed out that these companies continue to manufacture, produce, and sell in countries like China where human rights abuses run rampant.
Representative Jim Banks said,
Corporations like Apple and Nike only seem to care about ‘human rights’ when it doesn’t seriously threaten their profit margin. These companies lobbied in favor of Uyghur slave labor. Recent PR stunts can’t erase their years of complicity in Communist China’s genocide.
Others are criticizing the Biden administration for continuing to buy Russian oil despite sanctions. Even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “I’m all for that. Ban it.” during a press conference at the Capitol. And, Senator Roger Marshall introduced a bill to ban the import of gas and petroleum products from Russia.
To close the Russia coverage on a positive note, an American ammo company is sending one million rounds to Ukraine.
On Saturday, President Zelenskyy asked 280 US Senators and House members for additional lethal aid, more planes, more sanctions and to shut down Russian oil exports during a virtual meeting.
And a bit of satire from former President Donald Trump: during a speech to RNC donors, Trump suggested the US put Chinese flags on F-22 fighter planes and “bomb the shit out of Russia.”
He continued, “And then we say, ‘China did it, we didn’t,’” he said. “‘China did it,’ and then they start fighting with each other and we sit back and watch.”
In other news:
The United Kingdom and France have suggested the Iran nuclear deal may come to a close within the next week. According to Reuters,
Negotiators have worked for 11 months to try to revive the 2015 deal under which Iran limited its nuclear program to make it harder to obtain fissile material for a bomb – an ambition Tehran denies – in return for relief from economic sanctions.
The Russia-Ukraine war has forced the negotiations to move quicker than expected in the fear that communication with Moscow may be limited.
In the United States, the January 6 investigation is still focused on former President Donald Trump and his supporters. The over 200-page legal brief concludes by claiming the former President “may have” committed crimes and/or fraud.
Lastly, with tax season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning American taxpayers of filing delays. While Democrats suggest the agency needs more funding, Republicans point to mismanagement and say otherwise.
The New York Times reports,
The agency’s work force of about 75,000 is the same size as it was in 1970. Its enforcement staff has fallen by over 30 percent since 2010, and audits of millionaires have declined by more than 70 percent. And its budget has declined by nearly 20 percent, when accounting for inflation, during the last decade.
At the same time, the tax code has become more byzantine, and the number of individuals filing tax returns has grown by about 7 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Tax season may be a tough one, but at least it’s almost spring.
Thank you for reading today’s briefing! Have a great week.