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FutureStarrLife and Death in Shattered Mariupol - A Survivor's Tale of War in Ukraine
For over a year, Russian forces have been in control of Mariupol, Ukraine's port city, in their campaign to take control of Ukraine's east.
Satellite imagery, hundreds of videos and documents from The Associated Press have revealed a campaign to erase Mariupol's history and people. This includes plans for demolish over 300 buildings designed in khrushchyovka style apartment blocks designed to house as many families as possible.
After an initial period of relative calm following Russian forces' invasion of Crimea, Russian forces took command and began encircling Mariupol, placing civilians at risk. They destroyed its infrastructure as well as power, water and medical supplies - leaving survivors with nothing but grief.
The conflict rapidly intensified, with artillery fire and air strikes devastating large sections of the city. According to the Red Cross, they have documented "apocalyptic" destruction to residential and commercial buildings - leaving some parts virtually unrecognizable.
Survivors described the attack as a full-scale nuclear war, complete with tanks and heavy artillery fire that left no civilians unharmed and claimed scores of lives.
It was also devastating for hospitals, which were destroyed or damaged and no longer able to treat injured patients. They were forced to close down their childcare departments and cease operations.
Many people were unable to access water or electricity, making it difficult to cook food, wash clothes and take a bath. Furthermore, many were unable to pay their bills.
But it was the loss of human life that truly turned the war in an unfavorable direction. It dealt a blow to "Azovstal" defenders, who had been engaged in battle for over 83 days to prevent Moscow from seizing the port city.
After Russian forces encircled Mariupol, many residents fled. A few thousand remained behind in crumbling apartment blocks - cold and dismal places to be in wintertime. They had no choice but to hide out in basements, stairwells or underground tunnels.
Even though they were trapped, Ivan and his gang did their best to fight back. They formed a "Nazi" battalion that intimidated Russians, but it wasn't enough to stop the tide from rising.
After several weeks of attacks on power and water supplies, the city began to crumble. No longer was it a bustling industrial hub.
Russia had left nothing to protect it from their onslaught, with videos posted online showing the devastation of shops, swimming pools and other government buildings.
One of the most brutal episodes in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been the siege of Mariupol, which has been cut off from the outside world. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, this city represents both a gateway to Crimea as well as an opportunity to drain Ukraine's resources.
Mariupol was a bustling Black Sea port with an estimated population of half a million residents before the invasion. It had an expansive steel plant and was seen by Ukrainian military as an essential strategic location.
As Russian forces encircled Mariupol in early March, its defenders faced an impending Russian army with their backs turned towards the sea. After weeks of fierce house-to-house combat, their last hope lay with Azovstal steel mill - home to 10,000 employees before the conflict started.
For months, the battle for Azovstal steel plant has raged on. Despite heavy losses on both sides, the defenders of Azovstal have managed to hold on - an amazing victory and a devastating blow for Russia's army.
Mariupol's residents have been trapped in a freezing hellscape caused by shelling and airstrikes that have devastated much of the city. Hundreds have died as a result of these attacks, while many more remain missing within Mariupol.
In early March, a partial ceasefire is broken and an agreement is made for a humanitarian corridor to be opened up. On 14 March, 160 civilian cars carry the first convoy of evacuees out of the city; however, many more are unable to leave.
By mid-March, the death toll had surpassed 2,100 according to the city council. Unfortunately, heavy Russian shelling had prevented any evacuations from taking place and bodies had been left behind after evacuations. According to The BBC, improvised burial sites were being dug in the city where bodies had been left behind after evacuations.
Vadym Boichenko, the city's mayor, has highlighted Mariupol as a symbol of Ukrainian strength and resilience. He appealed to the international community to assist with rescue operations and issued an urgent alert about potential dangers facing those trapped inside. Additionally, he commended Ukrainian soldiers' bravery in defending Mariupol, calling them heroes.
It has been more than eight weeks since Russian troops began their offensive against Ukraine, lasting longer than some analysts anticipated. It has caused more than five million people to flee abroad, leaving towns and cities in ruins.
Mariupol had been seen as a key battleground in this conflict, home to over one million soldiers with some of the best training in Russia and seen as an impassible fortress against any potential Russian advances. Yet after 82 days of relentless Russian shelling that destroyed vast areas of Mariupol, its defenders finally surrendered on Monday.
On Monday morning, the Ukrainian military declared its forces had completed their "combat mission" at Azovstal steel works - for weeks the last major holdout in a city otherwise controlled by Russian troops. Additionally, efforts were underway to evacuate hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers from the plant as well.
Inside the factory, a network of tunnels beneath the main building houses thousands of soldiers - including some members of Ukraine's far-right National Guard. They have been trapped since Russian forces surrounded Mariupol in early March.
But the men in Azov Battalion, which has deep-seated nationalist far-right roots and is now part of Ukraine's National Guard, refused to surrender. They kept up their resistance until the end despite losing their weapons and access to arms supply depots, according to Ukraine's defence ministry.
They eventually gained access to Western-made guns and ammunition, but still had a battle to maintain control of their positions as Russian troops moved in. Additionally, the Azov Battalion stood up for ethnic Georgians - who are majority in the region but denied entry to Mariupol by the Ukrainian government - who are fighting for their rights as citizens of Mariupol.
Putin sees Mariupol's occupation as a strategic land bridge to connect two enclaves in eastern Ukraine that Russia illegally seized in 2014 -- areas he claims are independent, though the United Nations has described them as "people's republics". This could allow Moscow to further extend its control across the region.
Mariupol was once Ukraine's biggest port and an important industrial center, boasting deep berths for exporting steel and coal to customers in the Middle East. But since Russia seized Crimea in 2014, this region has been under Russian control and its economy has suffered severely.
But during the conflict, Kiev was caught between two worlds - as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against Moscow and an important battleground in their wider conflict with pro-Russian separatists in Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Despite 86 days of indiscriminate shelling and bombing by Russian forces, the city stubbornly refused to surrender even when given no means for fighting back.
In March, Russian forces launched a full-scale assault on the city. Airstrikes hit civilian buildings such as maternity hospital and theatre, while Russian soldiers surrounded its power and water supplies.
That left residents such as Ivan Kalinin, a migrant worker who fled to the UK after his wife passed away during labor, trapped in the city. He had to make an unpopular choice: stay inside his bunker or venture out into the streets and face certain death.
After one month in the bunker, his health has begun to deteriorate. He experiences difficulty breathing and is frequently in pain. Coping with lack of doctors and medicine, he's trying to take care of his younger brother who's been suffering from a tooth infection for weeks.
But he isn't the only person feeling helpless in devastated Mariupol. Others live in ghettos with little medical care, no food or water to drink, and some wait to be sent home.
In Mariupol's devastated aftermath, life is far from ideal. While some are relieved to no longer be in the city, others yearn to return.
As Russian troops and their Chechen proxies engage in street battles around the city, the munitions have taken their toll on everything within its 166 square kilometers (64 square miles). Yet one thing remains unchanged: the cries of those who remain inside it who will not stop until Russia leaves.
The Royal Enfield Meteor 350 is the brand-new replacement for their Thunderbird model and uses their 350cc platform. This bike offers an exciting and attractive take on retro roadster styling.
The Meteor is a serious offering with tactile badging, retro switchgear, stylish 'Coke bottle' grips, bar ends and filler cap designed with precision. Additionally, there's an auxiliary gauge located on the right side of the instrument console for added convenience.
The Honda H'ness CB350 is Honda's newest offering to the sub-500cc retro cruiser bike segment and it packs a lot of features into an attractive package. Not only that, but its looks are quite attractive too.
This motorcycle features a classic design, reminiscent of CB350s from decades past. It is an aesthetically pleasing machine tailored for young riders and those seeking something different.
It is an incredibly comfortable ride that not only easy to maneuver but also secure and dependable. With its light and agile handling, it makes for a joyous journey both in town and on long drives alike.
Despite its small engine, the Meteor 350 feels powerful and capable of going fast. It will easily hit 120 km/h without breaking a sweat, though it may not be quite as fast as some of its rivals in its class.
At low speeds, there may be some engine vibration but it's minimal and doesn't affect the rider much. Furthermore, the Meteor 350 boasts excellent tyre grip so you can ride it for hours on end without any issue.
This bike offers several handy features like Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), which can be turned on or off. HSTC is an excellent feature and works well when riding over rough surfaces.
This Royal Enfield 349cc single is the ideal blend of old and new. Dynoed at Jett Tuning, its engine offers a smooth and refined power delivery that encourages riders to slow down and enjoy life around them without feeling overwhelmed or overpowered. This bike invites riders to slow down, unwind, and take in their surroundings without feeling overwhelmed or overpowered.
The Meteor 350 is an accessible motorcycle designed with cruiser-focused performance in mind that appeals to a variety of motorcyclists and riders. It makes an ideal starting point for new riders, providing them with fun while building up their riding confidence over time.
Experienced riders seeking a new cruising bike will love this model. It's comfortable, reliable and offers plenty of customization options.
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The Meteor is equipped with dual-channel ABS and an impressive set of brakes up front, including a large 270mm rotor and single piston sliding caliper. Furthermore, its rear braking performance is excellent when combined with that of the front brakes.
Experience a timeless combination of Royal Enfield classic thump and modern engineering with the Royal Enfield Meteor 350. Perfect for anyone searching for an old-school motorcycle at an unbeatable price, this bike provides plenty of charm to enjoy on-the-go.
This air/oil-cooled 349cc single offers the practicality of a single cylinder and the visceral feel of a V-twin. At idle, there's some pitter-patter sound but soon that is replaced by an intoxicating exhaust note as you twist the throttle into full throttle bliss.
With only 17.4 peak horsepower and 18.2 foot-pounds of torque, it may not have the most powerful motor in its class, but that doesn't stop it from being incredibly easy to ride and never sluggish on longer trips. While its low top speed makes it best suited for urban riding, its gentle power and relaxed handling will have you wanting to take it out on country lanes too.
Additionally, the Meteor's engine features an air-cooled valve train and balancing shaft to reduce vibration at higher revs. This helps muffle its signature Royal Enfield thump, which delivers plenty of low-end torque for zipping around town or powering through traffic on the freeway.
The Meteor 350's spacious seat and forward-swept handlebars offer a comfortable riding position for most riders. While it sits a bit high off the ground, its Bobber-style styling is not as prominent as some other bikes in its class.
It boasts some decent kit, and it looks good too. Inside the center console you'll find all the basics like a semi-digital dash and Tripper navigation pod, but if you want to customize your bike even further with over 30 official accessories including touring screens and luggage options - all with a three year warranty!
If you're searching for a motorcycle that will comfortably take you across long distances and still look great, the Meteor 350 is worth considering. This middleweight cruiser has been praised for its stylish appearance, comfortable riding position and reliable performance on the road.
This 349cc air-oil cooled single cylinder engine produces powerful yet smooth tractable power with plenty of torque at the bottom end. Moreover, its electronic fuel injection system and counterbalancer ensure a comfortable ride.
This bike features a low seat height that allows riders to put both feet on the ground when stopping, making it easier for those with limited legroom. Furthermore, there's a heel-and-toe shifter for added convenience, and foot pedals that are easily reachable even for new riders.
Another standout feature on this bike is the Tripper pod that comes with the Royal Enfield app and provides Google-powered turn-by-turn directions. This practical addition complements the bike's stylish appearance perfectly.
Overall, the Meteor 350 is an exciting addition to Royal Enfield's lineup. It's a midweight cruiser with a pleasant attitude and approachable power that will appeal to a variety of riders - from newcomers to veteran veterans.
The Meteor offers an unbeatable value at its price point, with a best-in-class warranty and unlimited mileage. Its ergonomics offer classic style combined with practicality, while the fuel economy is impressive for such a small cruiser.
Royal Enfield's Meteor 350 small heritage model is ideal for anyone seeking a retro-modern take on an affordable street bike. Combining classic styling with cutting-edge technology, it makes an ideal first rider or second addition to anyone's garage collection.
The Meteor 350 was initially thought of as a motorcycle tailored solely for Asia, but Royal Enfield has taken great strides to debunk that perception. With its small displacement and lack of power, many believed it had been designed with Asian markets in mind only; however, Royal Enfield is now selling throughout Europe and America.
It's an ideal bike for pedaling along rural highways, offering its tractable power and comfortable riding position. Additionally, it can be used in cities at speeds of up to 55 mph for comfort and nimble cruising.
In terms of comfort, the Meteor is an excellent option in the cruiser segment. With its pull-back handlebar, forward pegs, heel/toe shifting mechanism and lower seat height it makes it comfortable to ride for extended periods of time.
Unfortunately, the Tripper navigation system can be somewhat glitchy and the fuel gauge fluctuates randomly. On the plus side, however, riding this bike on sunny days makes for a pleasurable experience - perfect for commutes or weekend road trips!
On Presidents Day, Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene took to Twitter to promote her idea of a 'national divorce' between red and blue states. She asserted that dividing up the country along these lines would not lead to civil war.
Her remarks drew widespread condemnation, including from Democrats, media figures and anti-Trump Republicans alike. Despite this backlash, Greene has reiterated her support for the idea.
On President's Day, Georgia senator Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted her support for a 'national divorce' between red and blue states. She stated this was necessary in order to prevent civil war.
"It is time to take the first step toward a national divorce," she wrote in her tweet. She cited a recent Washington Post poll which revealed 30% to 44% of Americans depending on region support outright secession from the Union.
Our country is in crisis, and those in power are offering inadequate solutions to an ever-increasing issue. The only way to keep our nation together is by giving people more flexibility in how their governance is delivered - which means separating.
Richard Kreitner's book Break It Up recounts that "the idea of a united nation with distinct regions that could opt out of federal government has been part of American culture for over 150 years." However, when attempts were made to divide America in two, civil war broke out between North and South.
At the time of Abraham Lincoln's inauguration in March 1860, there was a deep-seated division within both major parties over slavery. Southern Democrats sought to establish a federal slave code that would legalize slavery throughout all of America while Northern Democrats opposed this plan. For this reason, in 1860 there was only one candidate running for President from each region: Stephen Douglas in Northern states and John Breckinridge for Southerners.
This split was emblematic of the divide between those who supported slavery and those opposed to it. During that campaign, a third of voters killed another voter or suffered serious illness as a direct result of political division.
The divisions were so severe that the South and Northern wings of the Democratic Party split apart, each nominating their own candidates. Thus, Lincoln was elected even though his name did not appear on any southern ballots.
However, the election of 1860 only marked the beginning of a long and bitter conflict over an institution that had been at the core of our politics since 1776 - one which ultimately resulted in its destruction.
Once upon a time, it was widely believed that married couples should stay together even if they weren't getting along, for the benefit of their children. A survey in 1950s America found about half of Americans agreed with this sentiment; however, by 1977 only 20% held this view.
Over the decades that followed, divorce laws began to erode this shared understanding. America's divorce revolution was particularly divided along class and educational lines; today college-educated men and women hold very different views about marriage than their lower-income counterparts.
This division in opinion has created a surge in divorces. Since 1980, the number of married couples has declined by 30%; moreover, most of those divorcing are among America's poorest citizens.
Meanwhile, the rate of cohabitation has skyrocketed - from 439,000 to more than 6.4 million. This dramatic shift in attitudes about marriage is the direct result of cultural shift.
A new model of marriage that emphasizes soul-mate love has replaced the outdated institutional one that saw divorce as a sign of moral weakness. As such, this shift has had an immense effect on American children's social and emotional health.
The primary effect of divorce on children is that they tend to experience emotional turmoil. Even at a young age, many kids of divorce experience anger, resentment or regret over the split, worry about their futures and are reluctant to get married or have children themselves (Wallerstein & Kelly 1980; Di Bias 1996).
These feelings may not be fully resolved for years after a separation has ended, and they can have a substantial impact on a child's mental and physical wellbeing. A child's decreased self-esteem may cause short-term issues like low academic performance or behavioral difficulties at school; or more serious long-term consequences like delinquency, substance abuse problems and depression.
Children under age 12 who are heavily dependent on their parents when divorced may feel the brunt of this effect, as divorce can delay or accelerate adolescence and cause them to doubt their own self-image. Studies have shown that such children tend to be more aggressive, impulsive, anti-social and less compliant than their peers living in intact families; furthermore they have an increased risk for suicide and depression than other youth.
A "national divorce," or the breakup of the United States that would enable states to choose their own political leaders, has grown increasingly popular among conservatives. It's inspired numerous calls for help from both left and right alike; however, the most frequent voices come from doomsday conservative writers who believe that our nation is lost and cannot be saved.
Even before the Civil War, southerners had considered secession and even advocated for nullification - which would have allowed them to declare any law within their borders null and void. But as time passed in the 1860s, secession seemed increasingly unlikely due to intense polarization between northern and southern states over slavery, with both sides insisting their positions could not be compromised.
The Dred Scott decision, which declared slaves to be property, set the stage for what would ultimately become known as the Civil War. It rendered the question of abolition between North and South a non-negotiable point and increased abolitionists' concerns about federal control over the institution.
Though the Dred Scott decision dealt a blow to anti-slavery activists, it did nothing to quell secessionist sentiment. By 1860, southerners began asserting they were being enslaved by their own governments and federal agents were trying to enforce laws which extended slavery even further north.
One of the primary reasons the country split in two in 1860, and civil war ensued, was due to a lack of common ground on which to settle their differences. The only way to settle them was through physical confrontation - which ultimately proved successful.
Civil war was inevitable and its subsequent conflict destroyed the social order in southern Africa for all time. It left most people there destitute to lives of peonage and penury, while also decimating their economy.
However, the idea that national divorce is necessary to prevent civil war has gained ground on the right. Some prominent right-wing writers and activists have even advocated it, including Texas state rep Kyle Biedermann. Others like Allen West have discussed secession as a possible solution.
Recently, the idea of a 'national divorce' has gained momentum, and on Presidents Day Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene became the latest to voice her opposition. Her tweet was swiftly condemned by Democrats, Republicans and media figures alike - in short: this statement cannot stand.
The statement met with fierce opposition on both sides of the political divide, with some seeing it as a call for civil war and others labelling it as an act of xenophobia. Many also questioned if Greene's plan would be legal under current U.S. Constitution; however, she has assured her supporters that her plan is in keeping with America's founding fathers' vision for it.
On Tuesday, Greene laid out the principles of her "national divorce." She advocated for segregating America into red and blue states, shrinking the federal government, giving states more control over education and how elections are run. Greene listed several right-wing policies that conservative states could support such as prayer in schools and support of identity ideologies like Trans flag or Black Lives Matter (BLM).
Contrary to popular belief, the concept of a national divorce has been around for millennia - even considered by some Founders as a possible way to avoid civil war in the 1860s. And according to two books, it could be the ideal solution to today's political quandary.
One book, "The American Way of Division," gives an overview of this concept's history and shows how it can be employed as a strategy to combat toxic federal regimes and increase people's opportunities.
Another book, entitled "The Pandemic of State Leadership," suggests the United States may be entering a period in which state leadership will become more influential than federal leadership. This trend can be attributed to the federal government's inability to meet basic needs, according to its authors.
But it also implies that America is becoming increasingly divided and polarized. This trend began with Donald Trump's election in 2016, and it is likely to worsen in 2020 and beyond.