The Sunday Subject – April 24, 2022

Former Senator Orrin Hatch died Saturday at 88.

The Utah Republican championed right-wing causes and helped build a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Hatch’s forty-two year tenure in the Senate lasted six presidents and corresponded to the rise of the conservative movement in America. He was the longest serving Republican, and the sixth longest serving member, in the history of the Senate.

Fighting has intensified in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

On April 18, President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that “Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas.” Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s security council, stated that Russian attacks occurred along the 400km front line in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv provinces. The escalation comes three weeks after Russia’s abandoned assault on Kyiv; some experts believe Putin is redirecting the army to the country’s East in hopes of salvaging a win from the war. The coming weeks are likely to see the most bloodshed since Russia first invaded the Donbas region in 2014.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin lll arrived in Kyiv today as Ukraine seeks “specific weapons.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky, bolstered by heavy weapons from Western nations, expressed increasing confidence that Ukraine was prepared to defeat Russian forces in what is likely to be a prolonged and brutal battle for control of the Donas. “We will be able to show the occupiers that the day when they will be forced to leave Ukraine is approaching,” he stated in an overnight address to the nation.

Explosions outside a Shiite school in Kabul on Tuesday killed at least six and wounded at least eighteen.

The blasts have again challenged the Taliban’s promise of security, especially for Afghanistan’s Shiite community. The Taliban, which is composed mostly of hard-line Sunni Muslims, previously pledged to end decades of bloodshed against Shiites. The Taliban considers Shiites heretics and killed many Afghan Shiites during their first period of rule in the 1990s. The recent bombings come several months after suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in different cities together killed almost 100 people.

Violence in Jerusalem broke out last week at one of the city’s holiest sites for both Jews and Muslims.

Video footage of the Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount, showed dozens of Palestinians being tear gassed after throwing stones at Israeli riot police. At least 31 Palestinians were injured, 14 of them hospitalized, while one Israeli police officer sustained injuries. The events are preceded by an Israeli military crackdown last month that killed 15 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The rare overlap of Ramadan, Passover and Easter this month has increased tensions.