A Ukrainian official is warning Russian forces are preparing for “the heaviest of battles” in the strategic southern region of Kherson as Ukrainian troops continue their advance on the occupied area. Thousands of residents are still evacuating. On Tuesday, President Biden warned Russia against using nuclear or radioactive weapons in Ukraine following Moscow’s unsupported allegation that Ukrainians would deploy a “dirty bomb.” The U.S., along with Kyiv and European allies, have rejected Russia’s accusation.
President Joe Biden: “Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake if it were to use a tactical nuclear weapon. I’m not guaranteeing you that it’s a false flag operation yet, don’t know, but it would be a serious, serious mistake.”
The White House said Tuesday they have no evidence Russia is preparing to use such weapons. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator said Russian forces occupying the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant could be “preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has withdrawn a letter to the White House — just one day after sending it — which urged the Biden administration to pursue direct negotiations with Russia for a ceasefire in Ukraine. The letter, signed by 30 liberal lawmakers, sparked a swift backlash among a number of Democrats for undermining support for Ukraine and for fracturing the Democratic response to the war ahead of November’s midterms, as some Republicans are calling into question how much the U.S. should be sending to Ukraine. Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal said in a statement Tuesday, “The letter was drafted several months ago but, unfortunately, was released by staff without vetting. … The letter … has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time.”
A Russian court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner, upholding her nine-year sentence on drug smuggling charges. Griner was arrested in February when airport customs officials found a small amount of cannabis oil in her luggage. The ruling increases pressure on the Biden administration to free Griner through negotiations. According to CNN, Griner’s attorneys say a prisoner exchange is likely her best chance.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz faced off Tuesday in their only debate in the race for U.S. Senate. The men sparred over abortion, the economy and fracking. Fetterman also addressed his health, as he recovers from a May stroke. During a heated exchange over reproductive rights, Republican candidate Mehmet Oz offered this response on who should be involved in abortion decisions.
Dr. Mehmet Oz: “I want women, doctors, local political leaders letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.”
In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul squared off with Republican Congressmember Lee Zeldin in their only gubernatorial debate. Governor Hochul called out Zeldin’s positions on abortion rights, gun control and his support of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Gov. Kathy Hochul: “You basically heard Lee Zeldin say he would vote once again to overturn a presidential election. I think that’s something everybody should know, and the fact that he sent text messages to the chief of staff of the White House to lay out the strategy on how to subvert public opinion and try to carve it into this idea that there’s a big lie out there. And I think that’s deeply troubling.”
Ahead of Tuesday’s debate, climate activists shut down traffic on Park Avenue as they called on Governor Hochul to tax the rich and pass a Green New Deal. Police arrested some of the activists who were protesting in front of BlackRock headquarters.
In Washington, D.C., activists from the group Rise St. James held a funeral procession in memory of those who lost their lives to cancer and other illnesses that have been plaguing residents of St. James Parish, Louisiana, which has been dubbed “Cancer Alley.” The majority-Black area has been deemed a so-called sacrifice zone and counts some 200 petrochemical plants over an 80-mile stretch of the Mississippi River. This is activist and Goldman Prize winner Sharon Lavigne, speaking in front of the White House yesterday.
Sharon Lavigne: “Cancer is taking over our lives, in the river parishes, down Cancer Alley and throughout the whole Gulf South. So we’re asking President Biden to declare St. James Parish, Cancer Alley — to declare this an emergency. If he will not declare this as an emergency, we are going to die. We are already dying.”
A new Greenpeace report finds only about 5% of all plastic products are recycled in the U.S., with the rest ending up in landfills. In fact, no plastic packaging in the U.S. meets the threshold to be called “recyclable,” according to one well-known standard. Greenpeace said, “it is time to accept that plastic recycling is a failed concept.” The group says more viable alternatives, such as reuse and refill systems, must be quickly scaled up, adding, “companies can no longer use recycling as a smokescreen to divert attention from the systemic changes that are needed.”
Adidas has ended its multimillion-dollar partnership with rapper Ye, more commonly known as Kanye West, amid mounting fallout over his recent antisemitic comments. On a recent podcast, West boasted, “I can say antisemitic things, and Adidas can’t drop me.” Adidas has its own history with antisemitism: The company was founded by a member of the Nazi Party. The rapper has also repeated antisemitic conspiracy theories. In recent days, West has also been dropped by his talent agency, CAA, and the Gap has pulled the remaining products from its Yeezy collaboration from retail.
Earlier this month, Twitter locked West’s account after he posted he was “going death con 3 [sic] On JEWISH PEOPLE.” After he was locked out by both Twitter and Instagram for violating its rules, the right-wing social media platform Parler announced it was being purchased by Kanye West. A few weeks ago, West was pictured with African American conservative pundit Candace Owens at his Paris fashion show, both of them wearing shirts emblazoned with the phrase “White Lives Matter.” He also said George Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose, not police brutality.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, members of a hate group hung banners over a busy freeway overpass Sunday as they gave the Nazi salute. One of the banners read, “Kanye is right about the Jews.” Several organizations have said the antisemitic hate group Goyim Defense League is behind the overpass stunt.
In Burma, the death toll from military air raids in the northern state of Kachin Sunday has risen to 80, while some 100 people were wounded. Sunday night’s attack came as hundreds of people had gathered to attend a concert celebrating the founding of the Kachin Independence Organization. It is likely the deadliest aerial assault launched by Burma’s military regime since it seized power in a February 2021 coup. Human rights advocates have accused the Burmese military junta of war crimes and have called on the international community to ban the sale of weapons and airplane fuel to Burma.
In Iran, university students in Tehran and across the country continue to defy heightened security and a bloody government crackdown on protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month. Students refused to return to class after Iranian authorities alleged a university student in Tehran had died of suicide. Authorities have been repeatedly accused of covering up the killing of student protesters by Iranian security forces.
Student-led demonstrations were held at several universities in Tehran Tuesday, on the eve of planned ceremonies commemorating 40 days since the death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the “morality police.” Mourners and protesters gathered at her grave today in her home city of Saqqez to mark the somber anniversary. It is also the end of the traditional mourning period in Iran. Protesters shouted, “Woman, life, freedom” and “Death to the dictator.” Iranian security forces had reportedly threatened Amini’s family if they held a ceremony, saying, “They should worry for their son’s life.” At least 215 people, including 27 children, have been killed by Iranian security forces since protests began. Thousands of others have been arrested.
In Uganda, at least 11 people, most of them children, have died in a fire that engulfed a dormitory at the Salama School for the Blind in the district of Mukono while students were asleep. Police have launched an investigation into the blaze.