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The United Nations has estimated up to 850 migrants perished when their boat capsized en route to Europe Sunday, confirming its place as the worst migrant disaster in the Mediterranean Sea. Survivors have put the death toll between 400 and 950 people, with reports hundreds were locked in a hold by smugglers. Italian authorities have arrested the captain and another crew member. On Monday, at least three people died when another boat ran aground off the Greek island of Rhodes, while Italian authorities said they rescued over 600. As the European Union vowed to launch military efforts against smugglers, protesters gathered in Paris, France, to demand urgent action. Amnesty International director Stephan Oberreit called for a robust rescue program, similar to Italy’s discontinued Mare Nostrum.
Stephan Oberreit: “We are saying that they need to take action now. They can’t just look the other way with hundreds of people dying in the Mediterranean. It’s non-assistance to people in danger. They need to take action and bring about an operation of rescue, like Mare Nostrum was an operation of rescue.”
The United States has deployed two additional warships off the coast of Yemen in what officials call a signal to Iran over its shipments of arms to Shiite Houthi rebels. The move is also seen as a show of support for Saudi Arabia over its bombing campaign against the rebels in Yemen. On Monday, a Saudi-led strike set off an earthquake-like blast in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, killing at least 25 people. Oxfam meanwhile has condemned a strike Sunday which hit one of its humanitarian storage facilities.
As tensions between the U.S. and Iran increase over the conflict in Yemen, Iranian authorities have charged jailed Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian with espionage.
U.S. paratroopers have begun training Ukrainian forces who are battling pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east. About 300 U.S. troops will train 900 Ukrainian counterparts, despite Russia’s warning the move could “destabilize” the situation.
In Oklahoma, Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz has apologized to the family of Eric Harris, the unarmed African-American man fatally shot by reserve deputy Robert Bates, who claims he mistook his gun for a Taser. Following a Tulsa World report three supervisors were reassigned after refusing to falsify Bates’ training records, Glanz said he was “not aware of” any falsification, but acknowledged records are missing.
In Baltimore, Maryland, six police officers have been suspended over the death of a man whose neck was broken in police custody. Freddie Gray died Sunday a week after his arrest. Police say an autopsy confirmed Gray died of spinal cord injuries and said he was apparently injured while inside a police van. Police said Gray was arrested after he ran away after a lieutenant “made eye contact” with him. He was charged with carrying a knife, although authorities acknowledged neither possessing a knife nor running away are necessarily crimes. Officials say Gray asked officers for an asthma inhaler, but a medic wasn’t called until over 40 minutes later.
In Illinois, an off-duty Chicago police detective who opened fire on a group of people, killing an unarmed, 22-year-old African-American woman, has been acquitted. Dante Servin killed Rekia Boyd and injured her friend Antonio Cross in 2012, claiming he thought Cross had a gun. No gun was found. The judge dismissed the case before the defense even called a witness, saying Servin’s actions were “beyond reckless,” but prosecutors failed to prove their case. Rekia Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton, mourned outside the courthouse.
Martinez Sutton: “She will never come back. We’ll never be able to hug and kiss her no more. We’ll never be able to say, 'Rekia, I love you.' We’ll never be able to say, 'Can you watch my children for me? You want to go here?' We’ll never be able to see that smile again.”
Over 50 disability rights activists have been arrested at a protest in Washington, D.C. The group ADAPT is demanding President Obama issue an executive order to end the “inhumane warehousing of people in nursing facilities” and implement policies to ensure living wages for healthcare attendants under Medicaid.
Wal-Mart workers have accused the retailer of closing down five stores in order to suppress growing calls for a living wage and benefits. The United Food and Commercial Workers union filed a complaint before the National Labor Relations Board over the closures, which include the California store that was the site of the first U.S. Wal-Mart strike in 2012. Wal-Mart says the closures are for plumbing issues.
And the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced. Winners include The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, which took the gold medal for public service for its series on domestic violence homicides; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for breaking news photography of protests in Ferguson; and writer Elizabeth Kolbert in general nonfiction for her book The Sixth Extinction, about climate change. Watch her interview on DemocracyNow.org.