The Week in Review: Ohio is Angry, Google is on Trial, and Biden Surprises Everyone
One year ago today, Russia invaded Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin addressed the public for nearly two hours. During his speech – a large portion of which he dedicated to criticizing the West for prolonging the conflict – Putin announced that Russia would be suspending its participation in the New START Treaty. This treaty, signed by the U.S. and Russia in 2010, limits the number of nuclear warheads either nation can deploy.
On Monday, Biden surprised just about everyone and showed up in Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy. The Ukrainian president called it the most important visit in the history of U.S.-Ukraine relations. However, not everyone was impressed with Biden’s visit, with many calling it a publicity stunt and photo op. Whatever the case, it was a first for a standing U.S. president. Though other presidents have entered active war zones (such as Iraq) in the past, this marked the first time without a U.S. military presence on the ground.
In a cruel development, Turkey and Syria were struck by another large earthquake – this one a 6.4. The quake came just as rescue efforts were winding down from the initial event on the 6th. The first quake (a 7.8) was the second strongest to hit the region, leaving around 50,000 and counting dead. Six people in Turkey have been reported dead in the latest quake, according to Turkey’s disaster relief agency, AFAD.
Syria was also struck by Israeli airstrikes on Sunday, killing at least five in Damascus. The Syrian and Iranian governments have both asserted that ISIS and Israel are working together to coordinate these attacks. Israel’s policy is to decline to comment on reports in foreign media.
Back home, the train derailment in Ohio remains a hot topic. Though the EPA says the air and water remain safe in the area, residents still (naturally) want some of their concerns alleviated. On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health opened a Health Assessment Clinic in East Palestine. A primary objective of this clinic is to inform people of the dangers – or lack thereof.
As thousands took to social media to demand accountability for the spill, the EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to pay for and organize the clean-up operation. Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg also called on the rail industry to ensure the conditions that led to the derailment never happen again. The proposed steps include accelerating the phasing-in of safer tanker cars and providing workers with paid sick leave. As the week drew to a close, the NTSB released a preliminary report on the incident. They found that the derailment was “100% preventable.”
It’s been a busy week in the courts, too. And again, the previous president earns a mention. After the partial release of the Georgia grand jury’s report, the jury foreperson opened up to the press and hinted at a few possible outcomes. Speaking to CNN and other outlets, she confirmed over a dozen people face indictment.
However, Kohrs was not so transparent when asked whether Trump would face charges. “I don’t think there are any giant plot twists coming,” she said, adding, “I would not expect you to be shocked.” There are a lot of ways to read that. Former Justice Department official Harry Litman tweeted that Kohrs has a right to speak about the case, noting doing so was “not smart, but not illegal.”
Google also found itself in hot water this week. Not only have they come under fire for auto-deleting evidential chat logs, but they’ve also been accused of fueling the growth of terrorism online – which seems considerably worse than just emptying their recycling bin.
The Supreme Court spent two days hearing cases against Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter by relatives of terror-attack victims. The lawsuits allege that the platforms allowed for the propagation of material that led to their deaths. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, publishers are not liable for the content of their users. That’s how it stands now, but it’s currently under quite a bit of scrutiny. After all, the internet is a very different beast from what it was in ‘96. Then again, maybe the First Amendment is timeless.
It’s been a big week, and I’m ready for the weekend. I’ll leave you with this:
155 years ago today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 126-47 to impeach Andrew Johnson. I hope your day goes a little better than that.
Ben Byrne, News Editor