COVID-19 deaths in Russia have topped 900 per day this week for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Venezuela says the International Monetary Fund has not delivered funds that are part of a global program to help countries combat the pandemic, because of the ongoing refusal to recognize elected President Nicolás Maduro as the nation’s head of state. Venezuela blamed the U.S. for imposing a veto on Venezuela at the international body.
A new draft report from the Senate Judiciary Committee has revealed Donald Trump directly asked the Justice Department nine times for help to overturn the 2020 election. The report sheds new light on the role played by top DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump considered installing as attorney general in the final weeks of his presidency because he supported subverting the election. The report states, “Trump’s efforts to use DOJ as a means to overturn the election results was part of his interrelated efforts to retain the presidency by any means necessary.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin spoke on Thursday.
Sen. Dick Durbin: “This president, former President Donald Trump, would have shredded the Constitution to keep his office and the presidency.”
In related news, Trump has directed former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former adviser Steve Bannon and two other aides to ignore subpoenas issued by the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. On Thursday, the committee issued new subpoenas targeting the key planners of the so-called Stop the Steal rally.
Newly released bodycam footage shows Minneapolis police officers talked about “hunting” protesters in the days after the police killing of George Floyd last year. In one video, an officer is heard saying, “You guys are out hunting people now. It’s just a nice change of tempo.”
Police officer 1: “You guys are out hunting people now. It’s just a nice change of tempo.”
Police officer 2: “Yep.”
Police officer 1: “[bleep] these people.”
Police officer 3: “Be very, very quiet. We’re hunting activists.”
Police officer 4: “Let ’em have it, boys! Let ’em have it! Get out of here! Right there! Get ’em! Get ’em! Get ’em! Hit ’em! Hit ’em!”
In another video, officers are seen celebrating after firing rubber bullets at protesters.
Police officer 5: “Gotcha!”
Police officer 6: “Good hit, buddy.”
The videos came to light during the trial of Jaleel Stallings, a Black man who was recently acquitted of charges of shooting at Minneapolis police officers during the George Floyd protests. Stallings told the jury he was acting in self-defense after men in an unmarked van started shooting at him and others. He learned later the gunmen were police officers firing plastic rounds.
The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for “their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia.” Maria Ressa is the co-founder of investigative outlet Rappler, which has become one of the Philippines’ most widely read news sites despite being the frequent target of attacks by the government of Rodrigo Duterte. Dmitry Muratov is one of the founders and the editor-in-chief of independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Six of the newspaper’s reporters have been killed since its creation, including Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Chechen War.
The Wall Street Journal has revealed a small team of U.S. special operations forces and marines have been secretly operating in Taiwan for at least a year to help train Taiwanese military forces for a possible conflict with China. This comes as the CIA has set up a new mission center focused solely on China. On Thursday, CIA Director William Burns described China as “the most important geopolitical threat” facing the United States.
Two school teachers in the disputed region of Kashmir were killed Thursday by masked gunmen in what is believed to be the seventh deadly attack against civilians within the past week. A militant group known as the Resistance Front claimed responsibility for the killings. Police say suspected militants have killed 27 civilians in Kashmir this year, where tensions have been steadily growing. In 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tightened control of Kashmir, and groups have also accused the Modi government of repression and severe human rights abuses in the region.
The family of Argentinian journalist Sebastián Moro is demanding an investigation into his mysterious death, which took place in Bolivia during the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew President Evo Morales in November 2019. Moro was reportedly found “semi-unconscious” with signs of physical violence. His mother said, “Sebastián was the first journalist in the world to announce and denounce the military coup, and at the same time, he was its first fatal victim.”
The U.N. Human Rights Council has voted to shut down a war crimes probe into the U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen. A number of European countries wanted the probe to continue for another two years, but Saudi Arabia lobbied heavily against the resolution. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said the vote marked “a blatant attempt by Saudi Arabia and its allies to ensure blanket impunity for themselves after having been linked to war crimes and other grave violations of international law in the country.” Human Rights Watch’s John Fisher had urged the council to back the war crimes probe.
John Fisher: “Failing to renew the mandate when it is still urgently needed would be a stain on the credibility of the council and a slap in the face to victims. Rather than bowing to pressure by any party to the conflict seeking to evade scrutiny for its own abuses, HRC members should stand with the people of Yemen by renewing the experts’ mandate at this critical time.”
Immigrant justice advocates are denouncing the Biden administration over its plans to turn a private prison in Pennsylvania into a for-profit Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail. The facility could detain over 1,800 people and will be run by the GEO Group, one of the country’s largest private prison companies.
A coalition of rights groups is calling on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to intervene on behalf of expelled asylum seekers and demand the Biden administration stop using Title 42, the Trump-era policy which allows the U.S. to expel recently arrived migrants without due process.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he will appeal a federal judge’s ruling which temporarily blocked the state’s near-complete ban on abortions. The New York Times reports at least six clinics resumed performing abortions on Thursday, a day after the ruling. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has praised the judge’s ruling, saying it was a “victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law.”
A new investigation by Reuters has revealed AT&T, the world’s largest communications company, has played a major role creating and funding the far-right One America News Network, or OAN. Court records show AT&T has provided tens of millions of dollars to the network in exchange for the right to air the TV station on AT&T-owned platforms. The founder of OAN, Robert Herring Sr., has even admitted AT&T urged him to launch the station because “they wanted a conservative network.” OAN has played a leading role amplifying Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
The Biden administration is restoring federal protections for three national monuments that were drastically rolled back by Trump to allow for commercial exploitation and extraction. The monuments are Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the coast of New England. Over 3.2 million acres will come back under federal protection in Utah alone.