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HeadlinesJanuary 21, 2022

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U.S. Secretary of State Meets Russian Counterpart Amid Impasse over Buildup on Ukraine Border

Jan 21, 2022

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva today. It was the highest-level negotiation between the U.S. and Russia since President Biden warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine appears “likely” and that it would prompt “a severe and coordinated economic response.” The U.S. says 100,000 Russian troops have massed near the Ukrainian border. Russia denies it’s planning an invasion, but wants guarantees NATO will not expand to include Ukraine or any other former Soviet nations.

Ahead of today’s 90-minute meeting, Lavrov said he did not expect a “breakthrough.” Blinken also spoke before heading into the talks.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “This is a critical moment. You’re right: We don’t expect to resolve our differences here today. But I do hope and expect that we can test whether the path of diplomacy, of dialogue, remains open.”

As the U.S. continues to tout a diplomatic solution, Washington gave approval this week to three Baltic NATO members to send American-made arms to Ukraine.

Jan. 6 Committee Asks Ivanka Trump to Testify; Georgia DA Requests Grand Jury for Trump Probe

Jan 21, 2022

The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection has asked Ivanka Trump to voluntarily cooperate with its probe. The committee says Ivanka was present in the Oval Office when her father was trying to convince Vice President Mike Pence not to ratify results of the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has requested a special grand jury to probe whether Donald Trump or his allies committed a crime when they pressured Georgia election officials to overturn Joe Biden’s win.

Jamaal Bowman Among 28 Arrested at Peaceful Voting Rights Protest

Jan 21, 2022

In Washington, D.C., police arrested 28 nonviolent demonstrators Thursday after they held a sit-in protest outside the Capitol. Among those arrested was progressive New York Congressmember Jamaal Bowman. The activists had been holding a “hunger strike for democracy,” demanding Senate passage of voting rights legislation. The measure appears doomed after conservative Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin rejected a change to Senate rules that would have allowed its passage with a simple majority.

Sen. Mitch McConnell Suggests Black Voters Are Not “Americans”

Jan 21, 2022

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has sparked outrage over comments he made to reporters Wednesday, just before Republicans successfully filibustered voting rights legislation for the fifth time in six months.

Reporter: “What’s your message for voters of color who are concerned that without the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, they’re not going to be able to vote in the midterm?”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Well, the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

Kentucky Democrat Charles Booker, who unsuccessfully ran for McConnell’s Senate seat in the 2020 election, tweeted, “I am no less American than Mitch McConnell.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Proposes First-of-Its-Kind Election Police Force

Jan 21, 2022

In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed a special police force to monitor elections. DeSantis first floated the idea during his State of the State address in Tallahassee last week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: “To ensure that elections are conducted in accordance with the rule of law, I’ve proposed an election integrity unit whose sole focus will be the enforcement of Florida’s election laws.”

DeSantis has asked Florida’s GOP-controlled state Legislature to approve some $6 million to hire 52 people to “investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of election laws. Currently no state allows for such a police force.

FBI Searches Home of Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar

Jan 21, 2022

In Texas, the FBI entered and searched the home and campaign office of Democratic Congressmember Henry Cuellar this week. Details about the federal investigation, which involves the Justice Department’s Public Integrity unit, are not yet known, but several news outlets report the raid may be part of a federal probe into a group of U.S. businessmen with ties to the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

This comes just weeks before Texas’s March 1 primary election. Voters in the 28th Congressional District will decide between Cuellar and Jessica Cisneros, who narrowly lost a primary challenge to Cuellar in 2020. Cisneros has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She’s a supporter of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Cuellar is pro-gun, anti-choice, and has backed private prisons, drone surveillance and increased border militarization.

U.S. Bombed Syrian Dam in 2017 Despite Warning That Tens of Thousands Could Die

Jan 21, 2022

The U.S. military bombed a massive Euphrates River dam in Syria in 2017 despite a military report warning such an attack could lead to a flood that would kill tens of thousands of civilians. That’s according to The New York Times, which reports the attack on the 18-story Tabqa Dam led to critical equipment failure, causing a reservoir to rise and prompting panicked evacuations downstream. At the time, the commander of the U.S. offensive dismissed reports that the U.S. was responsible as “crazy reporting.” In fact, the U.S. was responsible, and even selected at least one concrete-penetrating bunker-buster bomb for the attack. A follow-up U.S. airstrike reportedly killed three workers who rushed to the dam to prevent a disaster.

Market Explosion in Lahore, Pakistan, Kills 3 People

Jan 21, 2022

In Pakistan, a powerful bomb blast tore through a crowded market in Lahore Thursday, killing three people and injuring another 20. The newly formed separatist group Baloch Nationalist Army claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Massive Blast and Fire Kills at Least 17, Causes Major Destruction in Ghanian Town

Jan 21, 2022

In Ghana, at least 17 people were killed after a collision between a motorcycle and a truck carrying explosives triggered a massive fire that leveled homes and businesses in the southwestern town of Apiate. Dozens more were injured, and the death toll could dramatically increase as rescue operations continue. The truck was headed to a gold mine operated by Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corporation.

14-Year-Old Indigenous Colombian Environmentalist Shot Dead in Ambush

Jan 21, 2022

In Colombia, advocates are demanding justice for Breiner David Cucuñame, a 14-year-old Indigenous Nasa environmentalist shot dead in the Cauca region last Friday. At the time of the attack, Cucuñame and his father were on patrol with the Indigenous Guard, an unarmed collective of land defenders in Colombia. Two other guard members were also killed in the ambush. Indigenous leaders blamed the murders on dissident members of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Colombia is one of the deadliest countries in the world for environmentalists.

Pope Benedict Mishandled at Least 4 Sexual Abuse Cases When He Was an Archbishop

Jan 21, 2022

In Germany, a damning new report finds former Pope Benedict failed to act in at least four cases of sexual abuse by priests when he was the archbishop of Munich. The report, which spans the period of 1945 to 2019, also accuses other senior figures in the diocese of mishandling sexual abuse cases and identifies at least 235 sexual predators, along with around 500 survivors. The majority of them were young boys under the age of 14 when the abuse occurred.

Civil Rights Trial of Ex-Cops Involved in George Floyd Murder Begins in St. Paul

Jan 21, 2022

In Minnesota, jury selection wrapped up Thursday in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with federal civil rights violations in George Floyd’s murder. The jury of 18 is made up of 10 women and eight men; most of them appear to be white, and none are Black. Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao stood by and watched as Derek Chauvin murdered Floyd, pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. The three face charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in a separate trial set to begin in a Hennepin County court in March.

DOJ Drops Case Against Chinese American MIT Professor Amid Accusations of Ethnic Profiling

Jan 21, 2022

The Justice Department dropped its case against MIT professor Gang Chen, who was accused of hiding research linked to the Chinese government. Prosecutors say they lacked evidence against Chen. The case has sparked renewed criticism of the “China Initiative,” launched in 2018, which has targeted some 20 academics, mostly of Chinese descent, for prosecution. Democrats from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus have called for an end to the program, and the ACLU said, “The Justice Department must end racial profiling in the name of national security.”

Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Kill Millions Worldwide

Jan 21, 2022

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections killed more than 1.2 million people in 2019, becoming a leading cause of death worldwide. That’s according to a new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, which warns bacteria are mutating to evade antibiotics at a much faster rate than previously known. Antibiotics are most widely used in the United States to promote the growth of pigs and cattle — rather than to treat infections in humans. Scientists have long warned that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics is pushing bacteria to evolve defenses against life-saving medications.

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Protesters Decry Femicides, Anti-LGBTQ Murders in Juárez

Jan 21, 2022

In Mexico, feminist and LGBTQ+ rights advocates took to the streets of Juárez Thursday denouncing rising femicides in the border city and the recent killing of a same-sex couple. The remains of Yulizsa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez were found Sunday. They were tortured, shot, dismembered and dumped in plastic trash bags along a highway. The couple was in Juárez visiting family, but reports say they lived in El Paso, Texas. Protesters Thursday demanded justice for all.

Miguel Jacome: “Unfortunately, Juárez is known for femicides and also for murders by criminal groups. I think that people sometimes want to minimize the fact that it was a gay couple that was killed here, because there are so many murders. But there is a pattern of violence in the documented cases against LGBT people.”

At least 11 women have been killed in Juárez in the first three weeks of 2022.

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