Stuff is happening in the Ukraine

Sometimes it strikes me how lucky we are to be able to sit back and say that, in America, right now the biggest stories revolve around an Oscars selfie and a humorous flub of a 42-year-old singer’s name. (See: yesterday’s blog.)

Speaking of which, I wrote yesterday that — because of said flub — Idina Menzel is now 100 times more famous than she was before the Menzel FallonOscars. She parlayed that fame into a spot on the Tonight Show, where she joined Jimmy Fallon and The Roots in their enjoyable segment where they play children’s instruments to contemporary songs. In this case, it was Frozen’s “Let It Go,” which Menzel performed at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday immediately after John Travolta butchered her name.

Travolta has since publicly apologized, by the way.

Anyway, my point is that, whether you care about this news or not, that it is arguably the most widely discussed topic in the United States right now is a very positive thing. I say this because it means there is no major discord or conflict occurring in our nation that would otherwise be the lead source of conversations.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case in other areas of the world, like the Ukraine.

Although I just spent the last 45 minutes giving myself a crash course reading various articles about the Ukrainian conflict in order to be up to speed, I’m not going to pretend like I know what’s going on. Its all apparently happened very quickly, and I’ve been a little out of the loop since I went to Israel for 10 days in mid-February. Admittedly, I didn’t even realize the severity of Ukraine’s situation until Jared Leto mentioned it his Oscar acceptance speech on Sunday. Thanks, Jared.

Ukrainian riot police officers stood guard, courtesy the New York Times

Ukrainian riot police officers stood guard, courtesy the New York Times

I won’t bother linking to a single article either, because there’s just too many out there, and the news apparently keeps changing by the hour.

In short, though, what I’ve gathered is that civil unrest that began at the end of last year in Ukraine hit its climax in late February, leading to a revolution in which protests turned violent and resulted in deaths, the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych — who may or may not be hiding in Russia — and the country is right now in that weird in-between phase where we don’t know what government is in control or who leads what.

On March 1, Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin’s request to invade Ukraine, and the country has since deployed troops in Crimea, which is an autonomous Republic within the Ukraine. The intervention has received quite the backlash from other countries’ leaders (including America), who for the most part are strongly against it. But Russian officials insist they are doing it to protect their people — Crimea’s population is 58 percent Russian. And reports are mixed as to whom Ukrainian armies are loyal to: Ukraine or Russia.

So that’s where we are at. Officials in both countries insist the situation(s) are under control, but who really knows. What we do know, however, is that in the past, interventions of one country into another usually lead to pretty bad things.

And at least one Russian journalist named Abby Martin is strongly against her country’s actions, who bravely admitted so during a broadcast on Monday night.

Again, I don’t want to bore you with such quandaries that are happening on the other side of the world, but it serves as a solid reminder that we, as Americans, are extremely fortunate that our top stories revolve around post-Oscars talk, Transformers 4, a snake eating a crocodile, and a bogus hover board that people actually thought was real.

Also, with names like Viktor Yanukovych, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, Oleksandr Turchynov and Sergey Aksynov at the forefront of the Ukrainian revolution, let’s just be grateful that John Travolta does not need to pronounce any of them.

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