Breaking the Bubble (02/22/23)

Madison Kurtz, Staff Writer


Florida Gov. DeSantis is looking to reform education for his second term with the intention of protecting the state’s parents and students from “woke” ideologies. His plan that rolled out last Tuesday includes keeping “woke gender ideology out of schools,” eliminating critical race theory from the curriculum, supporting civics education and expanding workforce development and technical education. His 2024 school board target list features 14 school board members within the state who “do not protect parental rights and have failed to protect students from woke ideologies.”

Democrat Jennifer McClellan won Virginia’s special election last Tuesday making her the first black woman the state has ever sent to Congress. She won against Rep. Leon Benjamin and will succeed Democrat Rep. Donald McEachin who died last November. There will be 28 black women in Congress once McClellan is sworn in making this election a historical feat for the U.S. 

Norfolk Southern, the operator responsible for the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio on Feb. 3, received demands from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that took effect last Thursday. The demands ensure the operator handles and pays for all necessary cleanup in a legally binding order. Among other requirements, Norfolk Southern is ordered to identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources, reimburse the EPA for cleaning services offered to residents and businesses, participate in public meetings and post information online regarding the cleanup. 


President Joe Biden’s secretive meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine last Monday produced a singular image of U.S. support and a donation of half a billion dollars in new assistance to the Ukrainian war effort. This visit is particularly symbolic because it comes just a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s scheduled speech concerning the anniversary of the war. Already, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have all visited Ukraine during the war to express support. Hours before Biden’s departure, Kyiv’s persistent status as an active war zone prompted the U.S. to inform Russia of Biden’s plans to visit, stating that the visit was for “deconfliction purposes.” During the visit, Biden told Zelensky, “Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided… It’s not just about freedom in Ukraine… It’s about freedom of democracy at large.”

China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, met with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow last Monday after his European tour. The meeting comes just before Putin’s national address and symbolizes China’s commitment to diplomatic ties with Russia during a time when the Ukraine conflict is isolating Russia. This isolation creates high levels of economic dependence on China, assuring China that agendas will be backed by Russia in vetos within the United Nations Security Council, in pushing back against the West, and in having backing over the issue of Taiwan. The meeting produced assurance that China takes the middle ground on the Russia-Ukraine war by refusing to criticize Russia’s position and instead viewing the U.S. position as the greatest instigator. Further, China’s foreign policy initiative previewed the at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18. entails that the country will play a more active role in ending the Russia-Ukraine conflict and will reiterate its calls against the use of nuclear weapons. Diplomats in the West are skeptical of China’s motives as Putin has since suspended the last nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S. and accused the west of posing an existential threat to Russia.

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