His face was pale and gaunt, his legs were wrapped in a blanket, and his eyes never seemed to make contact with the family members huddled around him. But on Tuesday, Jimmy Carter was there, in the front row of a church in Atlanta, just a few feet from the coffin holding Rosalynn Carter, his wife of 77 years.
Carter, 99, was some 164 miles from his home in Plains, Georgia, where he had been in hospice care since February. He was brought into the church in a wheelchair, as the crowd of mourners at the memorial service looked on, many of them catching their first glimpse of him in nine months.
That he would make such a trek in his condition was, to some, shocking — and, to his family, worrisome.
And yet, it was also very true to form: a display of the tenacity, bordering on stubbornness, that has been a defining characteristic of Carter, the longest-living president in U.S. history.
“Come hell or high water, Jimmy Carter was going to use his inner resources to be there,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said, adding that the former president “has the most intense willpower of any person I’ve ever known.”
A strain of determination has always been core to Carter’s identity, particularly when it came to Rosalynn, who rebuffed him when he first asked to marry her. But it has also evolved into a quiet intensity that has propelled him — and at times dismayed his family and aides — as he has repeatedly defied illness and infirmity.
“He is a man of enormous stamina and strength and will,” author Kai Bird, a Carter biographer, said on CNN, as the memorial service concluded Tuesday.
In 2019, after a fall left him with a black eye and stitches, he soon showed up to help build houses in Nashville, Tennessee, for Habitat for Humanity. “I had a No. 1 priority, and that was to come to Nashville to build houses,” Carter said at a gathering of volunteers, according to People magazine.
“One of the things Jesus taught was: If you have any talents, try to utilize them for the benefit of others,” Carter, then 95, told the magazine, which reported that he had 14 stitches on his head. “That’s what Rosa and I have both tried to do.”
Not long after that, he fractured his pelvis. He ignored pleas from his family and staff and showed up to teach Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church, carefully perching on a stool in front of the congregation to offer a simple sermon about being a kind and loving neighbor.
Afterward, he and his wife stayed in their seats, as dozens of visitors from around the world lined up for pictures with them.
Jimmy Carter has rarely been seen in public since he entered hospice care, and in May, the Carter Center announced that Rosalynn, a longtime advocate for greater access to mental health care, had dementia. She died on Nov. 19, at age 96.
Carter’s family expressed concerns that attending Tuesday’s service could be taxing for the former president. But they also recognized the importance of his presence at the church, where he joined some of his successors and every living presidential spouse.
“He has been this moral rock for so many people, but she really was that rock for him,” his grandson, Jason Carter, said. “He’s glad he’s not going to miss it, but we’re all worried about him.”
The Carters’ daughter, Amy Carter, said at the service that her father was not able to speak to the attendees. So she read a love letter he wrote to his wife while he served in the Navy more than seven decades ago.
“My darling, every time I have ever been away from you, I have been thrilled when I returned to discover just how wonderful you are,” Carter wrote in the letter. “While I’m away, I try to convince myself that you really are not, could not be, as sweet and beautiful as I remember. But when I see you, I fall in love with you all over again.”
“Does that seem strange to you?” he went on. “It doesn’t to me. Goodbye, darling. Until tomorrow, Jimmy.”
c.2023 The New York Times Company
Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul worth $2.5 billion, but even she has felt stuck and confused at different points throughout her career.
“I have been off course — I mean, in my 20s,” Winfrey, 69, said in a recent interview with Caroline Wanga, the president and CEO of Essence Ventures. “I just say the 20s are about figuring it out.”
Like many young people, Winfrey held jobs early in her career that did not bring purpose or meaning to her life.
In the late ’70s, Winfrey worked as a news anchor and reporter at Baltimore’s WJZ station. But, as she’s said on her eponymous network, she disliked interviewing people in times of tragedy as she felt she was “exploiting people.”
“I used to be exhausted all the time,” Winfrey said, “because I hated it.”
You might not realize you are stuck in your career until you burn out, Winfrey told Wanga.
But there’s a telltale sign you can watch out for: “It looks like giving your power over to somebody else,” Winfrey explained. “It looks like following somebody else’s lead and listening to what other people are saying your life should be, instead of paying attention to that still, small voice that is within every one of us, that is undeniable if you are still enough to listen.”
Whenever you have to stop and ask other people what you should do, “that is the number-one signal to yourself that you need to get still and hear what the true voice is saying to you,” Winfrey added.
In order to step into the most powerful version of yourself, you need to have clarity of intention, Winfrey told Wanga.
She first learned about the power of intention in 1989 when she read Gary Zukav’s best-selling book, “The Seat of the Soul.” It soon became the guiding principle of her life and career.
“I spent many years talking to my audiences after the show, and I would always say, ‘Tell me what you want. Tell me what you want,’” said Winfrey. “People always just say, ‘I just want to be happy.’ Well, what does that look like for you? Most people haven’t actually given it real thought.“
Before you make a big decision about your career or agree to do anything “that might add even the smallest amount of stress to your life,” Winfrey said in a 2020 Super Soul podcast, ask yourself these two questions :
- What is my truest intention?
- What’s the real reason I’m doing this?
Winfrey’s defining moment — when she got “unstuck” in her career — happened on Aug. 14, 1978, her first day working on the WJZ talk show “People are Talking.”
“I felt like this is what I’m supposed to do,” Winfrey said on OWN.
She launched “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1986, leveraging it into a booming media and entertainment empire.
Winfrey now wears many hats, from journalist and host to actress, author and entrepreneur — all of which helped her become the first Black woman billionaire in the U.S.
President Bola Tinubu has transmitted the 2022-2024 external borrowing plan to the national assembly.
Tinubu’s request was read on Tuesday on the floor of the lower legislative chamber by Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house of representatives.
In the borrowing plan, the president is seeking approval of the legislature to borrow $8,699,168,559 and €100,000,000
The plan also includes $1 billion from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and $1.5 billion from the World Bank group.
Tinubu said the 2022-2024 external borrowing rolling plan was approved by the federal executive council (FEC) on May 15, under former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The president said the projects in the borrowing plan cut across all sectors with “specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth, security and employment generation, as well as financial management reforms, among others”.
“Following the removal of the fuel subsidy and its attendant impact on our economy, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank Group (WBG) have indicated interest in assisting the country to mitigate the impact with the sum of USD1 billion and USD1.5 billion, respectively, in addition to the FEC approved 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing (rolling) plan,” the letter reads.
“Consequently, the required approval is USD8,699,168,559.00 and Euro 100,000,000.00. I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation, skills acquisition, support towards the emergence of more entrepreneurs, poverty reduction and food security to improve the livelihood in all 36 states of the federation and federal capital territory.
“Considering the huge infrastructure deficit in the country and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap in funding infrastructure in the face of dwindling financial resources, it has become imperative that we resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financial gap which will largely be applied to key infrastructure projects including power, railway health, among others.
“Given the nature of these facilities and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary to request the house of representatives to consider and approve the 2022-2024 External abridged borrowing (rolling) plan to enable the government to deliver its responsibility to Nigerians through expeditious disbursement and efficient Project Implementation.”
The president asked the lawmakers to give his request an “expeditious consideration and passage”.
Earlier in November, the president transmitted the borrowing plan to the national assembly. The request contained in the letter was $7.8 billion, €100 million.
The new sums indicate that the federal government has now increased its borrowing plan for 2022-2024.
In September, the Debt Management Office (DMO) said Nigeria’s total public debt rose to N87.38 trillion in the second quarter (Q2) of 2023, recording an increase of 75.29 percent.
In the report released by the DMO, the agency said the surge was occasioned by the N22.71 trillion ways and means advances obtained by the federal government from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In November, Wale Edun, minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, said the federal government needed to spend more but borrowing to fund its budgets was not sustainable.
“We have an existing borrowing profile. Our direction of tariff is to reduce the quantum of borrowing or intercepting deficit financing in the 2024 budget,” the minister had said.
“What is left for us to access those funds are expensive so it is the last thing that we must rely on.”
Senators from the Northern region of the country have asked President Bola Tinubu to restore electricity to Niger Republic.
They also asked the military junta in Niger Republic to return the country to democratic rule.
The lawmakers, under the aegis of Northern Senators Forum (NSF), said this in a communique issued at the end of their meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.
The appeal is coming about four months after Nigeria cut power supply to Niger Republic, as one of the sanctions against the coupists in the country.
NSF Chairman, Abdul Ningi, the senator representing Bauchi Central, read the communique to journalists on behalf of the forum.
“We asked the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and of course, the ECOWAS Chairman, Tinubu to as a matter of humanitarian gesture restore electricity in Niger Republic” Ningi said .
Ningi, a former deputy senate leader, stressed that the Northern senators condemned the coup in Niger Republic.
The senator called on the military junta in Niger to heed the demands of other African leaders to free deposed President Mohamed Bazoun and his family from detention as well as restore democracy in the country.
“The Northern Senators Forum in strong terms condemned military intervention in democratic spaces in some west African subregions. The forum condemned in totality the coup de tat in Niger, a Nigerian neighbouring country.
“We asked the military junta in Niger to heed the demand of other countries by freeing Bazoun and his immediate family to fully chose a country of his choice.
“The Northern Senators Forum further asked the junta in Niger to bring about a transition timetable that will last not more than two years period.
“The Northern Senators Forum asks ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business at our border communities. It is important that Nigeriens should not suffer as a result of coup in their country just as we are seeing what is happening in Gaza.
“We call on Niger and Nigeria that we remain brothers, we remain partners and we remain Africans,” the forum said.
House of Representatives Committee on Health has revealed that not less than five wards with about 150 beds, have been closed down at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba due to a shortage of health workers.
Chairman of the committee, Amos Magaji explained that the five wards had to be shut because there were no health workers to operate them despite the large number of patients received at the institutions on a daily basis.
While lamenting that the institution was under threat as a result of brain drain, the health committee chairman stated that many health workers in LUTH, especially nurses and doctors, had left the teaching hospital in search of greener pastures.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after an oversight visit to the teaching hospital, Magaji noted that the alarming rate of migration of health workers was becoming a national embarrassment to the country.
He, however, said that steps were being taken to halt the massive exodus of health professionals abroad.
“We saw significant problems here. Right now, there are five wards in LUTH, totalling about 150 beds that have been shut down because there are no nurses and doctors to work in those wards. And these are a result of the ‘japa’ syndrome we are having.
“As a committee, we will work together with the Federal Government and also with the teaching hospital to find a way out of these national embarrassments that have befallen this country.
“It’s not something that can be fixed in one day, but nevertheless, we are going to be approaching it piecemeal. We are going to do what we can do immediately and what we can do long-term approach to it.
“So, by the grace of God, some of the issues of the ‘japa’, we are actually looking at how to solve this problem, starting even from the enrollment in universities, and then how house officers are employed, and then of course, the residency programme.”
While admitting that many health professionals in the country work under stringent conditions, the health committee chairman further stressed, “We will also look at issues of funding. We are also looking at issues of infrastructure, because the truth is that, many health workers in Nigeria are working under stringent conditions.
“They have sacrificed so much for Nigerians to be healthy, for us to get proper health care. Our hands are on deck, and then that was the reason why if you were here earlier, you discovered that some of the key questions and some of the key things we attended here were things that have to do with delivering affordable and accessible health care to Nigerians.”
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Wasiu Adeyemo, urged corporate individuals and Nigerians to partner with the institution in delivering quality health care to the people.
The CMD noted that the hospital would continue to strive for public-private partnerships in cancer management, radio diagnosis, lab services, several ophthalmology services, and several dental services.
He maintained that partnership with the other stakeholders would go a long way in solving some of the major challenges the health sector was being faced with.
Godwin Emefiele, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), will remain in Kuje correctional facility, Abuja after he failed to meet his bail conditions.
The former CBN boss was brought into court by operatives of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) where he is being remanded.
On November 18, Emefiele was arraigned on a six-count charge bordering on procurement fraud.
Emefiele was accused of using his position to confer a corrupt advantage on Sa’adatu Yaro, a staff of CBN, by awarding a contract for the procurement of 43 vehicles worth N1.2 billion between 2018 and 2020.
The vehicles included 37 Toyota Hilux at the cost of N854.7 million, one Toyota Avalon at the cost of N99.9 million, one Toyota Landcruiser V8 at the cost of N73.8 million, two Toyota Hilux Shell Specification at the cost of N44,200,000.
He was also alleged to have awarded Yaro a contract for the procurement of two Toyota Landcruiser VXR V8 worth N138 million.
Emefiele pleaded “not guilty” to the amended charge and was later granted bail for N300 million.
According to the court, the former CBN governor must produce two sureties in like sum.
The sureties must have certificates of occupancy and titles of properties within the Maitama district in Abuja.
Emefiele is mandated to deposit all his travel documents with the registrar of the court and must remain within the Abuja Municipal Council.
Mathew Burkaa, Emefiele’s lead counsel, told journalists that his client was yet to meet the bail conditions.
After the court session on Tuesday, the former CBN governor was taken away by officials of the prison service.
A British-Nigerian national has pleaded guilty in New York to involvement in a more than seven-year scheme to hack into banks' and brokerages' computer servers, causing more than $6 million of losses for customers.
Idris Dayo Mustapha, 33, pleaded guilty to access device fraud, conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn.
Mustapha, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, had been arrested in the United Kingdom in August 2021, and was extradited to the United States in August.
He faces up to 20 years in prison at his scheduled April 3, 2024 sentencing but would likely receive much less time.
A lawyer for Mustapha was not immediately available for comment.
Mustapha and his accomplices allegedly used phishing and other means to obtain user names and passwords and access online accounts from January 2011 to March 2018.
Prosecutors said the conspirators transferred victims' money and securities to their own accounts, and made unauthorized stock trades in hacked accounts while simultaneously making profitable trades in the same stocks in their own accounts.
The case is U.S. v. Mustapha, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 23-cr-00440.
With deadline looming, diplomats seek to extend Gaza truce; more hostages, prisoners are freed
Hamas and Israel released more hostages and prisoners under terms of a fragile cease-fire that held for a fifth day Tuesday as international mediators in Qatar worked to extend the truce. The United States urged Israel to better protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza if it follows through on its promise to resume the war.
In the latest swap since the cease-fire began Friday, Israel said 10 of its citizens and two Thai nationals were freed by Hamas and had been returned to Israel. Soon after, Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners. The truce is due to end after one more exchange Wednesday night.
For the first time, Israel and Hamas blamed each other for an exchange of fire between troops and militants in northern Gaza. There was no indication it would endanger the truce, which has enabled humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza.
CIA director William Burns and David Barnea, who heads Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, were in Qatar, a key mediator with Hamas, to discuss extending the cease-fire and releasing more hostages, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to visit the region this week.
Israel has vowed to resume the war to end Hamas’ 16-year rule in Gaza and crush its military capabilities once it’s clear that no more hostages will be freed under the deal. That would almost certainly require expanding its ground offensive from northern Gaza to the south, where most of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million is now crowded. It’s unclear where they would go if Israel does so as Egypt has refused to accept refugees and Israel has sealed its border.
The Biden administration told Israel it must avoid “significant further displacement” of and mass casualties among Palestinian civilians if it resumes its offensive, and that it must operate with more precision in southern Gaza than it has in the north, according to U.S. officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House.
Hamas and other militants still hold about 160 hostages out of 240 seized in their Oct. 7 assault into southern Israel that ignited the war. Israel has said it is willing to extend the cease-fire by one day for every 10 additional hostages that Hamas releases, according to the deal brokered by the Qatar, Egypt and the U.S. But Hamas is expected to make much higher demands for the release of captive Israeli soldiers.
HOSTAGES AND PRISONERS RELEASED
The latest group of Israeli hostages freed from Gaza — nine women and a 17-year-old — was flown to hospitals in Israel, the Israeli military said. The hostages were handed over on a street crowded with cheering people, AP video showed. The 17-year-old girl could be seen walking alongside Hamas militants to a waiting Red Cross Jeep with her small, white-haired dog named Bella.
Tuesday’s hostage release brought to 60 the number of Israelis freed during the truce. An additional 21 hostages — 19 Thais, one Filipino and one Russian-Israeli — have been released in separate negotiations since the truce began.
Before the truce, Hamas released four Israeli hostages, and the Israeli army rescued one. Two other hostages were found dead in Gaza.
The latest swap brought to 180 the number of Palestinian women and teenagers freed from Israeli prisons. Most have been teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces. Several released women were convicted by Israeli military courts of attempting to carry out deadly attacks.
The prisoners are widely seen by Palestinians as heroes resisting occupation. Hundreds of Palestinians welcomed the prisoners freed Tuesday in the occupied West Bank.
The freed hostages have mostly stayed out of the public eye, but details of their captivity have started to emerge.
In one of the first interviews with a freed hostage, 78-year-old Ruti Munder told Israel’s Channel 13 television that she was initially fed well in captivity but that conditions worsened as shortages took hold. She said she was kept in a “suffocating” room and slept on plastic chairs with a sheet for nearly 50 days.
NORTHERN GAZA IN RUINS
The cease-fire has allowed residents who remained in Gaza City and other parts of the north to venture out to survey the destruction and try to locate and bury relatives.
In northern Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp, which Israel bombarded heavily for weeks and which troops surrounded in heavy fighting with militants, “you come across whole city blocks that have been demolished, just a pancake of concrete layered as buildings have collapsed,” said Thomas White, the Gaza director for the U.N. agency caring for Palestinian refugees.
The agency delivered six trucks of aid to the camp, including supplies for a medical center. Footage of White’s visit showed streets lined with destroyed buildings, cars, and piles of rubble.
A U.N.-led aid consortium estimates that, across Gaza, over 234,000 homes have been damaged and 46,000 completely destroyed, amounting to around 60% of the territory’s housing stock. In the north, the destruction “severely compromises the ability to meet basic requirements to sustain life,” it said.
More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. More than 1,200 people have been killed on the Israeli side, mostly civilians killed in the initial attack.
At least 77 soldiers have been killed in Israel’s ground offensive. Israel says it has killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence.
Authorities were able to reopen the dialysis department at Gaza City’s Shifa hospital after medical teams brought a small generator. Around 20 patients there had gone two or three weeks without dialysis, Dr. Mutasim Salah told Al-Jazeera TV from the hospital.
Two weeks ago, Israeli forces seized the hospital, which Israel contended was used as a major base by Hamas, an accusation that the group and hospital staff deny.
FEARS FOR THE SOUTH
Israel’s bombardment and ground offensive have displaced more than 1.8 million people, nearly 80% of Gaza’s population, and most have sought refuge in the south, according to the U.N. Hundreds of thousands of people have packed into U.N.-run schools and other facilities, with many forced to sleep on the streets outside because of overcrowding. Rain and cold winds sweeping across Gaza have made conditions even more miserable.
On Tuesday, Hanan Tayeh returned to her destroyed home in the central town of Johor al-Deek, searching for any belongings.
“I came to get anything for my daughters. Winter has come, and I have nothing for them to wear,” she said.
The cease-fire has allowed increased aid delivered by 160 to 200 trucks a day into Gaza, bringing desperately needed food, water and medicine, as well as fuel for homes, hospitals and water treatment plants. Still, it is less than half what Gaza was importing before the fighting, even as humanitarian needs have soared.
Juliette Toma, a spokesperson for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said people come to shelters asking for heavy clothes, mattresses and blankets, and that some are sleeping in damaged vehicles.
“The needs are overwhelming,” she told The Associated Press. “They lost everything, and they need everything.”
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday that the U.S. has airlifted over 27 tons of Gaza-bound medical items and food aid to a staging area in Egypt. Two more airlifts are planned in the coming days, Sullivan said.
Ukraine has used chemical weapons – Russian general
The Ukrainian military has used chemical agents to poison food on 17 occasions since the conflict escalated in February 2022, killing at least 15 people, Russian Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov said on Tuesday.
Kirillov heads the Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Protection Troops of the Russian Armed Forces. He made the revelation in a speech to the 3rd Congress of Young Scientists, currently meeting in Sochi.
“We have confirmed that officials of the administrations of the new constituent entities of the Russian Federation were poisoned,” Kirillov said. “Moreover, we found a number of chemical compounds were used that were made, in most cases, exclusively in one country.” He did not specify which country it was, however.
Kirillov’s speech comes a day after Russia presented evidence of Ukrainian poisonings to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.
“We possess irrefutable evidence of the US and their Euro-Atlantic allies supplying Ukraine with toxic chemicals and their delivery means,” Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Kirill Lysogorsky told the OPCW on Monday.
Kirillov also brought up the biological research the US had conducted in Ukraine, saying that Russian forces found strains of bacteria and viruses “from the American collection” of pathogens at some of these facilities.
There was a danger the Ukrainian military might start using biological weapons as well, having “failed to achieve any serious success” during its 100-day offensive this year, Kirillov said.
“The Ministry of Defense expects a shift in their activity towards non-standard forms of warfare, including the use of biological agents,”according to the general.
In a briefing earlier this month, Kirillov revealed that 46 US-funded biological research laboratories had been located in Ukraine prior to the current conflict. While Moscow succeeded in exposing these activities and shutting them down, he said, Washington seems to have moved some of the research to Africa since.
The US and Ukraine have insisted that the research was perfectly legitimate and peaceful, part of a Western-funded initiative to reduce threats “through the development of a culture of biorisk management” and eliminate nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in the former Soviet Union.
Ukraine says bad weather slows Russian offensive in east
Bad weather has slowed Russia's campaign to secure eastern Ukraine and capture the shattered town of Avdiivka, Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday.
Russian troops, backed by air strikes, have been trying to seize control of Avdiivka since mid-October as part of their slow-moving advance through eastern Ukraine.
Officials say not a single building remains intact in the town - seen as a gateway to the regional centre of Donetsk, 20 km (12 miles) to the east.
After two days of storms - and snow in the south - the forecast was for more rain in the east, leaving the ground sodden and unsuitable for military manoeuvres.
"They've started to shell the town centre from Donetsk. Our brigade is holding its ground, but we can't see any equipment coming," Serhiy Tsekhotskyi, a Ukrainian officer in the town, told national television.
"The weather is unsuitable. But once the frosts come and the ground hardens, an attempted assault with equipment is possible."
Another military spokesperson, Volodymyr Fitio, said inclement weather had forced the Russians to make "adjustments".
"You cannot advance when the ground is like this," Fitio told the media outlet Espreso TV. "The Russians previously brought in reserves and threw them into battle. There are a lot fewer movements like that now because of the weather."
Much of the fighting in the past week has focused on the "industrial zone" outside the centre and on Aviivka's vast coking plant - abandoned earlier this month by Ukrainian defenders.
Unofficial Russian accounts of the fighting on Tuesday said Moscow's forces had made some headway to the north of Avdiivka and heavy fighting was engulfing the area around the plant.
Russia's Defence Ministry rarely refers to Avdiivka in its official reports and Reuters was unable to verify accounts from either side.
Fewer than 1,500 of the town's pre-war population of 32,000 remain.
Avdiivka was briefly seized in 2014 by Russian-financed separatists who captured large chunks of eastern Ukraine. Fortifications have since been erected around the town.
Military analyst Andriy Kramarov said shorter supply lines and faster Russian deployments made the campaign for control of Avdiivka different from the months-long drive to capture the equally devastated town of Bakhmut further north in May.
"The Russians are throwing in manpower and equipment much faster than even in Bakhmut," he told a programme linked to U.S.-funded Radio Liberty.
"Small assault groups just go in one after the other. Our fighters eliminate an assault group of 50-100 people and then the next one comes five minutes later."
Ukraine launched an offensive in June but has made only incremental gains in both the east and the south, though President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dismisses any notion that the war has entered into a "stalemate".
There is a quiet revolution going on among the younger generation in this country, marked by a dramatic erosion of support for America’s constitutional democracy.
The younger generation has good reason to be disillusioned with democracy. People in their 20s and 30s have grown up in an era marked by one crisis after another, including the attacks on 9/11, the global financial crisis of 2008, escalating climate disasters, growing economic inequality, and the Covid pandemic.
American government also has seemed paralyzed and/or unwilling to do the things necessary to respond to the everyday problems of ordinary Americans. While older Americans either lived through or knew well democracy’s triumphs, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the younger generation associates democracy with polarization and gridlock.
There is plenty of blame to go around.
Our democratic institutions have done little to address issues about which the younger generation is very concerned, including the epidemic of gun violence, systemic racism, homelessness and global warming. The current war in the Middle East is just the latest headline-grabbing event that is shaking young people’s faith in the way American democracy is responding.
Part of the blame for youthful disillusionment rests with educators at all levels, who have for too long failed to be advocates for democracy. Afraid of being caught up in culture wars or seen as politically incorrect apologists for racism, sexism, homophobia and the like, they have given up on civic education. Only seven states now require a full year of civics in the K-12 curriculum.
All of us, but especially those of us who teach, need to do our part. The erosion of support for democracy requires urgent attention and a clear strategy to alert young people to the dangers of their skepticism about democratic institutions.
The warning signs are plentiful, but so far they have not aroused the concern that they warrant. Let’s look at some of those signs.
In December 2021, a study of young people conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics showed that 52 percent “believe that the country’s democracy is either ‘in trouble’ or ‘a failed democracy.’” Just 7 percent said that democracy in the United States is “healthy.” Another poll, also conducted two years ago, found that “Not only do younger Americans express greater skepticism about American democracy, their doubts extend to feelings about being American and whether the US serves as a moral example in the world.”
Younger Americans, it turns out, “express far less pride in their nationality than older Americans…. (S)eniors are more than twice as likely as young adults to say they are extremely proud to be American (23 percent vs. 55 percent).”
A more recent study of the civic outlook of younger voters notes that “Young adults are dissatisfied with our political system (57%), and most have no or little trust in government institutions (52%).” Fewer than half (48%) plan to vote in the next general election, compared to about two-thirds of the general public.”
Most alarmingly, that study found that “Young adults, regardless of education level, lack basic civic knowledge.”
Another study, published in June of this year, shows that “Only one in four Americans between 18 and 39 years old is a consistent supporter of democracy—a full 16 percentage points below the mean support score for all citizens of voting age. By comparison, 65% of America’s septuagenarians, and their Greatest and Silent Generation brethren, support democracy consistently.”
Other research concludes that “nearly two-thirds of young Americans have more fear than hope about the future of democracy in America.” Many of them also don’t think that democracy is necessary for them to have things that they value, like freedom, community and social justice.
That may be why the Brookings Institution found that “29 percent of… young Americans say that democracy is not always preferable to other political forms, a far higher share than older Americans, who can remember the Cold War and even the fight against fascism in World War II.” Some of the young people who are disillusioned with democracy believe that a “strong leader who does not heed election results or acknowledge congressional authority is acceptable. Others say a non-democratic government can be preferable to real democracy. Some assert that democracy is a bad way to govern the United States.”
But the erosion of support for democracy among young people is not just an American problem. As Freedom House, a democracy advocacy group, puts it, “Democratic backsliding has become a global trend. Amid this environment comes a rash of statistics suggesting that the world’s young people are increasingly disengaged from political life: they’re voting less, rejecting party membership, and telling researchers that their country’s leaders aren’t working in their interests.”
A September 2023 survey of people in 30 countries found that 86 percent of its respondents “prefer to live in a democratic state and only 20% believe authoritarian regimes are more capable of delivering ‘what citizens want.’ However, only 57% of respondents aged 18 to 35 felt democracy was preferable to any other form of government, against 71% of those over 56, and 42% of younger people said they were supportive of military rule, against just 20% of older respondents.”
Back in this country, 55 percent of young people currently believe that “the country is heading in the wrong direction, with 16 percent saying it’s on the right track and the rest (28%) saying they’re not sure.”
Many younger voters are also “concerned about the country’s values and distrustful of major institutions. Nearly two-thirds of young people (62%) expressed concern about the values of the American people, and 45% said they believe that the country is failing to live up to its promises of freedom and fairness, compared to just 18% who believe the country has lived up to these promises.”
What all this research means is that, as Mark Malloch Brown, president of the Open Society Foundation and a former United Nations deputy secretary general, explains, “Generation by generation…faith (in democracy) is fading as doubts grow about its ability to deliver concrete changes to their lives.”
We must act now to arrest this troubling trend. We can and should own up to democracy’s failures and the need for improvement. It is clear that those of us who teach must become democracy’s active advocates. We must make sure our students understand that, as Winston Churchill famously said, “Democracy is the worst form of government—except for all the rest.”
At Amherst College, where I teach, such efforts are underway. We have launched a new initiative, titled “Thinking Democratically,” to seed the college’s offerings with courses about the history and current status of democracy in the United States and other nations. Students here also are beginning to take up democracy’s cause. They have created a new group, Amherst Students for Democracy, which has launched a campaign to get their peers to pledge to work with organizations dedicated to the preservation and improvement of democracy. More than 300 students have already taken that pledge.
These are small, but nonetheless significant, steps that deserve to be imitated around the country. They are one acknowledgement of the wisdom of what the philosopher John Dewey said more than a century ago: “Democracy has to be reborn every generation, and education is its midwife.”
Austin Sarat (@ljstprof) is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Amherst College.