The U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency session today over ongoing tensions at the Russia-Ukraine border. Russia has massed some 100,000 troops near Ukraine but denies it plans to invade and continues to demand NATO commit to halting its eastward expansion. The U.S. Senate is expected to unveil a bill imposing possible new sanctions on Russia, including some that could take effect even before any possible invasion. The U.K. also threatened to impose new sanctions against Russia. On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Western “panic” over the situation was destabilizing Ukraine’s economy.
President Volodymyr Zelensky: “The politics have to be balanced. And the journalists, if they want to understand the situation, let them come to Kyiv. Are tanks driving here in our streets? No, but it feels like this if you’re reading the media. If you’re not here, then you feel like this.”
On Friday, President Biden told reporters he’ll soon move U.S. troops to NATO countries in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said members of its military alliance are offering training and equipment to Ukraine but that there are “no plans to deploy NATO combat troops to Ukraine.”
Nearly 2,000 child soldiers in Yemen have died in combat since 2020, according to U.N. investigators. Houthi rebels have pressed children as young as 7 into the fight against the Saudi-led coalition, with kids in one summer camp taught to clean weapons and evade rockets. The report also found Saudi-led forces continue to inflict heavy casualties on Yemen’s civilians. The U.N. says violations of international law have become “the norm rather than the exception” in Yemen.
This comes as the United Arab Emirates says it intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels amid the ongoing attacks between the parties. Israel’s president is on an official visit to Abu Dhabi for the first time, 16 months after the two nations normalized relations.
A new report from the U.N. finds over 100 people who previously worked for the Afghan government, its security forces or international military forces have been killed since last August’s takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. The U.N. says more than two-thirds of them were killed extrajudicially by the Taliban or its affiliates, despite promises of amnesty by Taliban leaders. Civil society activists and journalists have also been targeted and killed.
In Sudan, security forces killed a 27-year-old pro-democracy demonstrator Sunday as thousands of people defied a protest ban and took to the streets of Khartoum and other cities to call for an end to the military coup regime.
Weam: “Despite everything that is happening and despite all the martyrs who are dying — every day we lose a martyr — but people insist on their goal. We will gain victory. They are firing bullets now, and the revolution continues.”
At least 79 protesters have been killed since Sudan’s October 25 coup. In 2019, a popular uprising led to the ouster of former authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir, but Sudan’s transition to democratic rule has been derailed by the coup and leadership struggles.
North Korea tested what appeared to be its longest-range ballistic missile since 2017 Sunday, a move South Korea said was a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. It was North Korea’s third such test in the last week and seventh since the start of the year. Biden administration officials said they again appealed to Kim Jong-un to join direct talks following Sunday’s launch, but the U.S. has rejected North Korean demands for sanctions relief and imposed new ones in recent weeks.
In Ecuador, the operator of a privately held pipeline has shut down the flow of heavy crude oil after the pipeline ruptured in the Amazon. OCP Ecuador claimed the spill had burst in an area not connected to waterways, but members of the Kichwa Indigenous community shared video showing contamination on rivers in their territory. This is environmentalist Juan Pablo Fajardo.
Juan Pablo Fajardo: “We see that it’s a high-magnitude spill. It’s believed that water sources and third parties were affected. It’s considered a category 3 spill. That is what has happened, and contingency measures from the operator have been requested.”
In Peru, a judge has barred four executives with the Spanish oil company Repsol from leaving the country after nearly 12,000 barrels of oil leaked into the ocean on January 15. The spill was triggered by a tsunami from a massive volcanic eruption in Tonga. It was Peru’s largest environmental disaster in years.
Meanwhile, authorities in eastern Thailand are fighting to prevent a 13,000-gallon oil spill from damaging fragile coral reefs and reaching a popular resort island.
The audio streaming app Spotify announced it is adding content advisories to podcasts that discuss COVID-19 and directing listeners to external resources on the pandemic in order to “combat misinformation.” The move comes amid mounting controversy over Spotify’s decision to remove Neil Young’s songs after he told the streaming company to choose between his music or hosting the show of popular podcaster and COVID conspiracy theorist Joe Rogan. On Friday, Joni Mitchell announced she was removing her musical catalog from Spotify “in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities.” Meanwhile, Joe Rogan has apologized for the backlash, admitting his show is “an out-of-control juggernaut,” and vowed to “balance things out” in the future.
In Georgia, two of the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery reached a plea deal with the Justice Department in their federal hate crimes case, according to court documents. Lawyers and the family of Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased down and shot dead by the men while out jogging in 2020, condemned the “back-room plea deal” and are appearing in court today to oppose it. The deal would reportedly allow Gregory and Travis McMichael to serve the first 30 years of their life sentences in a federal prison instead of a state prison and avoid their federal trial.
Donald Trump held a rally in Texas Saturday where he teased a possible presidential run and defended people charged for their involvement in the deadly January 6 Capitol insurrection.
Donald Trump: “If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6th fairly. We will treat them fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly.”
Trump called for mass protests if prosecutors find him guilty of attempting to overturn the 2020 election results or of financial crimes through his businesses. On Sunday, Trump released a statement confirming he wanted then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 presidential election, falsely claiming Pence had the authority to do so.
In related news, the House committee investigating the insurrection subpoenaed 14 people Friday who lied about being electors for Trump in states that were won by Joe Biden.
In another blow to voting rights, a Pennsylvania court on Friday struck down a state law that expanded mail-in voting. The court ruled Pennsylvania’s Constitution requires voters cast their ballots in person on Election Day, unless they meet certain criteria. The law, called Act 77, will remain in place while an appeal is resolved. A group of 14 Pennsylvania Republicans sued over the legislation after former President Trump lost the state to President Biden in 2020. At least 11 of them had voted in favor of passing Act 77 in 2019.
In other voting news, New York state lawmakers unveiled a proposed redrawn congressional map Sunday that could give Democrats as many as three more seats in the U.S. House.
A Pennsylvania man who was cleared of a murder conviction and released from prison after 37 years has filed a lawsuit accusing the city of Philadelphia of “outrageous police misconduct.” Willie Stokes, an African American man, was convicted of murder in 1984. The two detectives who were involved in the case are accused of offering sex and drugs to a witness in exchange for false testimony against Stokes. The witness, who recanted his accusation during the murder trial, was charged with perjury just days after Stokes was convicted. But Stokes didn’t have access to this information until 2015 — decades into his life sentence. Stokes was released from prison earlier this month, and his murder conviction was formally dismissed last Thursday.
Here in New York, former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst died Sunday morning after jumping from a building in Manhattan. She won the pageant in 2019. Kryst was an attorney and an advocate for Black Lives Matter. She worked pro bono with prisoners, fighting for criminal justice reform. In a statement, her family said, “Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength. She cared, she loved, she laughed and she shined.” Cheslie Kryst was 30 years old.
In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.