Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is claiming Ukraine’s military has recaptured areas in the Kherson, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk region as Ukraine continues to mount a large counteroffensive, including in areas that Russia has claimed to have annexed. This comes as the United States has announced a new $625 million military aid package for Ukraine, including four more HIMARS rocket launchers. Russia’s ambassador to the United States denounced the U.S. military aid, saying Moscow perceives it as an “immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country.”
A number of top Ukrainian officials have criticized the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, for floating a plan to end the war. In a widely read Twitter post, Musk proposed for Crimea to become formally part of Russia, for Ukraine to remain a neutral country and for the U.N. to supervise a redo of elections in areas annexed by Russia. Musk posted his plan a day after Pope Francis issued his strongest call yet for Russia and Ukraine to find a way to end the war.
Pope Francis: “My appeal goes, above all, to the president of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop this spiral of violence and death, even out of love for his own people. On the other side, pained by the enormous suffering of the Ukrainian population following the aggression it suffered, I address an equally hopeful appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to a serious peace proposal.”
That was Pope Francis on Sunday. On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree ruling out any talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could lead to the further gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Some legal analysts say it appears the conservative majority may vote to uphold Alabama’s racially gerrymandered congressional map while rejecting some of the state’s broader legal claims. Alabama has defended its new congressional map, describing it as “race neutral,” but critics say it was designed to dilute the power of Black voters. During oral arguments, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s first Black female justice, questioned Alabama’s claims and said the framers of the 14th Amendment did not intend it to be “race-neutral or race-blind.”
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson: “The entire point of the amendment was to secure rights of the freed former slaves. The legislator who introduced that amendment said that, quote, 'Unless the Constitution should restrain them, those states will all, I fear, keep up this discrimination and crush to death the hated freedmen.' That’s not — that’s not a race-neutral or race-blind idea in terms of the remedy.”
After oral arguments, NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Deuel Ross spoke outside the court. He is the attorney for the lead plaintiff in the Alabama case, Evan Milligan.
Deuel Ross: “It wouldn’t only gut Section 2, but it would essentially say that any time a state or plaintiffs here who are simply drawing example plans use race or think about race, that that in and of itself is unconstitutional. And so, what you would end up with is a lot fewer majority-minority districts and even a lot fewer districts where minority voters can join with white voters and elect candidates who are responsive to their needs.”
Former President Donald Trump has filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to intervene in the dispute over classified government documents that the FBI seized from his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. Trump has asked the justices to block a lower court’s ruling which allowed the Justice Department to resume its use of records marked as “classified.”
In news on the January 6 insurrection, the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four other members of the far-right group is continuing. On Tuesday, prosecutors played for the jury an audio recording of a meeting held by the Oath Keepers after the 2020 election where Rhodes talked about bringing weapons to Washington D.C., to help Donald Trump stay in power. In the recording, Rhodes is heard saying, “We’re not getting out of this without a fight. There’s going to be a fight.” Rhodes also talked about keeping some members of the group outside of the city who could provide backup support. He is heard saying, “I do want some Oath Keepers to stay on the outside and to stay fully armed and prepared to go in if they have to.” During opening arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said, “Their goal was to stop, by whatever means necessary, the lawful transfer of presidential power, including by taking up arms against the United States government. They concocted a plan for armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy.”
President Biden is heading to Florida today to see areas devastated by Hurricane Ian. The death toll from the storm has reached 109 and continues to rise. Authorities are concerned the storm could lead to a spike in homelessness in Florida as many residents, including those living in mobile homes, lost everything in the storm. We will have more on the hurricane after headlines.
In labor news, Amazon has suspended 50 workers who refused to go back to work after a fire broke out inside a warehouse in Staten Island, New York. Workers said it was not safe to go back due to smoke and flooding. The suspensions occurred at the only unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States. This comes as the Amazon Labor Union is calling on the company to stop stalling and start negotiating with the union.
The New York Times has confirmed the identity of a woman who played a key role in recruiting and tricking a group of 48 Venezuelan asylum seekers in Texas to board a flight to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts as part of a political ploy by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The Times identified the woman as Perla Huerta. She is a former combat medic and counterintelligence agent who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was discharged by the Army in August. The group Lawyers for Civil Rights has filed a class-action civil rights lawsuit against Huerta, DeSantis and others involved in the scheme.
A fire broke out today at a South Korean airbase after a South Korean missile malfunctioned and crashed during a live-fire drill with the United States. The incident occurred as tension is escalating in the region. On Tuesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years.
In the Philippines, a veteran 63-year-old broadcaster was shot dead near his home in suburban Manila on Tuesday. Percival Mabasa, who was also known as Percy Lapid, was a prominent critic of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte. He is the second Filipino journalist to have been murdered since Marcos took office on June 30.
A six-month ceasefire deal in Yemen has expired. The United Nations is calling for an extension to the truce, but the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis have yet to support the deal. The U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, urged both sides to avoid a new round of fighting.
Hans Grundberg: “I would urge all sides to exercise maximum restraint at this particularly sensitive period of time, because at this moment of time any small incident could spark something that could have devastating consequences.”
A group of 30 Palestinians prisoners held by Israel are now in their second week of an open-ended hunger strike to protest “administrative detention,” the Israeli policy of holding Palestinians without charge for up to years at a time. The hunger strikers include the French Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri, who has been held without charge for six months based on secret evidence.
In Ecuador, at least 15 people died Monday in the latest outbreak of violence inside Ecuador’s overcrowded prison system. On Tuesday, relatives gathered outside the prison in Latacunga trying to find out if their loved ones were still alive. At least 316 people were killed last year inside Ecuador’s prison system, which is more than 11% over capacity.
In Georgia, the son of Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker has publicly denounced his father in a series of social media posts that could shake up one of the most closely watched Senate races. Herschel Walker, who is a former football star, is in a tight race with Democratic Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock. The 23-year-old Christian Walker accused his father of threatening to kill his family and of running his campaign on a series of lies. Christian Walker spoke out shortly after The Daily Beast reported Herschel Walker had paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009. The anti-choice Republican has denied the report, despite the existence of physical evidence including a copy of a check from Walker and a receipt from an abortion clinic. On Tuesday, Christian Walker said he could no longer stay silent about his father’s actions.
Christian Walker: “I stayed silent as the atrocities committed against my mom were downplayed. I stayed silent when it came out that my father, Herschel Walker, had all these random kids across the country, none of whom he raised. And, you know my favorite issue to talk about is father absence. Surprise! Because it affected me. That’s why I talk about it all the time, because it affected me. Family values, people? He has four kids, four different women, wasn’t in the house raising one of them. He was out having sex with other women. Do you care about family values? I was silent, lie after lie after lie. The abortion card drops yesterday. It’s literally his handwriting in the card. They say they have receipts, whatever. He gets on Twitter, he lies about it. OK, I’m done. Done. Everything has been a lie.”