• Breanna Crossman

Weekly News Blast | Mar. 21-27

A summary of important events from this past week.


1. President Biden traveled to Poland, issuing a strong warning to Putin.


Following Russian attacks on Ukraine, President Biden planned a diplomatic visit to Europe to meet with the G7, European Council, and NATO allies. President Biden also met with Ukrainian refugees and officials in Poland to discuss diplomacy and raise troop morale. As violence escalates in western Ukraine, the U.S. promised to protect its NATO allies against Russian encroachment.


Biden said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” in an address at Warsaw’s Royal Castle, referencing Cold War tensions between America and the USSR. His comments were met with backlash from Russian officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated, “That’s not for Biden to decide. The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”


Putin has called Russian military action a “special military operation” to “denazify the country.” Over a thousand Ukrainians have been killed so far, with thousands more injured and millions displaced. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed Ukrainian soldiers as “heroes” and said Ukrainian were “brilliantly defending the country against one of the most powerful nations in the world.”


While the U.S. has pledged support for Ukraine and outrage at Putin’s actions, military involvement remains unlikely.


As fighting escalates in Ukraine, protests against the war continue worldwide. (Karollyn Hubert/Unsplash)


2. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright passes away.


Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, passed away on Wednesday. Albright fled from the Nazis as a child from Czechoslovakia during World War II and served as U.S. delegate to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton’s administration. As the nation’s top diplomat, she advocated for the reduction of nuclear weapons and the expansion of NATO. Albright engineered U.S. foreign policy after the end of the Cold War and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


In her retirement, Albright was a harsh critic of President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom. Senator Chuck Grassley named Albright a “role model for women in public office and foreign service” following her passing.


3. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson completes Senate hearings.


President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate confirmation hearings ended on Thursday after several days of questioning. Jackson’s nomination is a historic milestone, as she is the first Black female to be nominated to the Supreme Court.


During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Jackson faced questioning from Republicans about her past sentencings in child pornography cases. Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Josh Hawley were the most vocal opponents of Jackson during the questioning, while representatives from the American Bar Association lauded Jackson’s career as a public defender and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.


On Friday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced he will vote for Jackson’s confirmation. His support completes the 50-member Democratic caucus, which is enough to get her confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. However, it remains to be seen if Jackson’s confirmation will be bipartisan. Three GOP senators ― Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Susan Collins, and Senator Lindsey Graham ― voted for Jackson’s confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court. A few Republicans have tentatively voiced support for Jackson, but many still believe GOP support for Jackson will be tenuous. Jackson, if appointed, would take Justice Stephen Breyer’s place, and would be the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.


After three days of Senate hearings, Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Jackson awaits voting results. (Alex Padilla/Flickr)


4. Utah bans transgender athletes in girls' sports as culture war continues.


On Friday, Utah lawmakers voted to override Republican Governor Cox’s veto of legislation banning transgender youth athletes from playing on girl’s teams. Utah, along with 11 other states, has issued a ban against transgender athletes in the past months. The decision comes as transgender presence in sports has become a nationwide debate.


University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas has been at the forefront of the culture war. Thomas, a transgender female, has faced scrutiny for perceived biological advantages over other swimmers. USA Swimming released new guidelines for swimmers on February 1 after intense backlash from Olympic swimmers, Penn parents, and members of the USA Swimming board of directors. However, after the NCAA subcommittee delayed confirming USA Swimming’s updated guidelines, Lia Thomas was permitted to complete the Ivy League championships. The University of Pennsylvania subsequently won their first third-place finish in history.


 

Sources & Further Reading