The United Nations World Food Programme is warning of a worsening humanitarian catastrophe, after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would halt a deal granting safe passage of food and fertilizer exports from Ukraine to the rest of the world. The U.N. says that since July the program has indirectly prevented about 100 million people from falling into extreme poverty. On Monday, Putin said Russia was not abandoning the deal — but would temporarily stop participating in it.
President Vladimir Putin: “So we are not saying that we are ending our participation in this deal. No, we are saying that we are suspending.”
Russia’s suspension from the Black Sea Grain Initiative triggered a steep rise in food prices. It came after Russian warships in the Port of Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea were attacked by drones on Saturday, and as Russia’s military accused the British Navy of blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines in September, cutting off supplies of Russian gas to European markets.
The United States and South Korea have begun massive war games off the Korean Peninsula. On Monday, the two nations opened Operation Vigilant Storm, a five-day joint drill involving hundreds of warplanes and thousands of troops. North Korea condemned the war games as “rehearsal for invasion and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul.” This comes as the U.S. says North Korea is preparing to carry out its first nuclear weapons test since 2017.
Elsewhere in the Pacific region, China has slammed plans by the United States to deploy six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to northern Australia, warning the move threatens to spark a new arms race. This is China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian.
Zhao Lijian: “Such a move by the U.S. and Australia escalates regional tensions, gravely undermines regional peace and stability, and may trigger an arms race in the region. China urges parties concerned to abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical mindset.”
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in two cases that aim to end race-conscious admissions decisions by colleges and universities. During nearly five hours of arguments, the court’s far-right supermajority appeared sympathetic to arguments that the admissions process violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act. This comes as at least nine states have already chosen to end consideration of race in university admissions. We’ll have more on the Supreme Court and the fight over affirmative action after headlines.
In California, prosecutors have filed federal and state charges against the man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home and assaulting her husband Paul Pelosi with a hammer. Investigators say 42-year-old David DePape told them he planned to take Speaker Pelosi hostage and intended to break her kneecaps in order to see her “wheeled into Congress” unless she told the truth about “lies told by the Democratic Party.” DePape faces up to 30 years in prison on a federal assault charge and up to 20 additional years for attempted kidnapping. He also faces a slew of state charges, including attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins spoke Monday.
Brooke Jenkins: “What we also have learned is that the defendant brought to the location of the Pelosi residence a second hammer, as well as zip ties, rope and a roll of tape. What is clear, based on the evidence that we have thus far, is that this house and the speaker herself were specifically targets of the defendant.”
Paul Pelosi remains in intensive care in San Francisco after surgeons repaired his fractured skull and serious injuries to his hands and right arm.
In Arizona, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake drew laughter from a friendly crowd Monday after she joked about the attack on Paul Pelosi. Lake was speaking at a campaign event in Scottsdale.
Kari Lake: “It is not impossible to protect our kids at school. They act like it is. Nancy Pelosi, well, she’s got protection when she’s in D.C. — apparently her house doesn’t have a lot of protection.”
Donald Trump Jr. has also mocked the attack on Paul Pelosi. On Sunday, he retweeted a photo of a pair of underwear and a hammer captioned, “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.”
Former President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to block the release of his tax returns ahead of a Wednesday deadline to turn them over to the House Ways and Means Committee. Trump’s request for an emergency order came on the first day of opening arguments in a criminal tax fraud trial in New York Supreme Court, where the Trump Organization faces charges of paying top executives millions of dollars’ worth of off-the-books compensation for 15 years.
President Biden has accused oil and gas companies of war profiteering, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to high energy prices and surging profits for companies like Shell and ExxonMobil. On Monday, Biden said the oil industry should pass profits on to consumers and lower the cost of fuel. If not, he said, they may soon face a higher tax rate on windfall profits.
President Joe Biden: “Give me a break. Enough is enough. Look, I’m a capitalist. You’ve heard me say this before. I have no problem with corporations turning a fair profit and getting a return on their investment and innovation. But this isn’t remotely what’s happening. Oil companies’ record profits today are not because they’re doing something new or innovative. Their profits are a windfall of war.”
Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, called a windfall profits tax long overdue, but said it should not be made dependent on more oil and gas drilling. Weissman added, “more investment in oil drilling will deepen our dependence on fossil fuels when the worsening climate catastrophe demands we speed the transition away from fossil fuels.”
The White House says President Joe Biden will attend the COP27 U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on November 11 as part of a larger overseas trip that will also take him to Cambodia and Indonesia. Biden’s trip comes as human rights defenders continue to urge the release of all political prisoners in Egypt ahead of the climate summit. Among them is human rights activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah, who has been on hunger strike for over 200 days protesting the horrific conditions he faces in an Egyptian jail. His sister and human rights advocate Mona Seif said on social media her brother is stopping his 100-calorie daily intake and will also begin a water strike starting this Sunday, which marks the beginning of COP27. On Facebook, Seif wrote, “This means if no urgent intervention happened, Alaa will die before the end of #Cop27. These are the actions of a man who’s had enough after nearly 9 years in arbitrary imprisonment.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is not attending COP27, accusing the summit of misleading the public into thinking polluters are committed to combating climate change.
Back in the United States, Border Patrol agents on Monday fired pepper balls at a group of Venezuelan migrants who were leading a protest along the El Paso, Texas-Juárez, Mexico, border after they were denied entry into the U.S. and blocked from seeking asylum. This is Yaneiri Hernández, a Venezuelan asylum seeker and protester who witnessed the assault.
Yaneiri Hernández: “They pulled out guns and started shooting. Things shouldn’t be like that. We are not animals; we are human beings. We want to go to the United States to work, not to do bad things. We’ve spent several days here sleeping like animals. The Mexicans are the ones who have helped us with food, clothes, shoes and blankets.”
In October, the Biden administration started expelling Venezuelan asylum seekers to Mexico under an expansion of the Trump-era pandemic policy Title 42, which has blocked at least 2 million people from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, in violation of international law.
In news from Britain, police in Kent are being urged to investigate a Sunday attack on a migrant center in the town of Dover as an act of terrorism. The man suspected of throwing at least two petrol bombs at the migrant center was found dead shortly after; he reportedly died by suicide. At least two people were injured after a fire broke out at the center, which is used to process asylum seekers who’ve taken on the dangerous journey to cross the English Channel on makeshift boats in the hopes of finding refuge in the U.K. After the attack, about 700 asylum seekers were moved from Dover to the Manston detention center in Kent, which advocates say is “catastrophically overcrowded.” They’ve since denounced squalid and inhumane conditions at the facility.
Immigrant justice and human rights advocates continue to denounce hate speech used by far-right British officials against asylum seekers and migrants. On Monday, British Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the country was facing an “invasion.”
Suella Braverman: “The British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not.”
In Michigan, the former Grand Rapids police officer who killed Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old Congolese refugee, will face trial on second-degree murder charges. Video of Lyoya’s killing showed former officer Christopher Schurr, a white man, wrestled Lyoya to the ground, kicked and hit him, attempted to electrocute him with a Taser and pinned him on his stomach, before pulling his pistol and firing a single round into Lyoya’s head at close range.
In Brazil, thousands of truckers have blockaded roads across the country in support of far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, after his narrow defeat to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Sunday’s presidential runoff election. Bolsonaro has so far refused to concede defeat and has remained silent — raising fears of political violence. Meanwhile, there are signs of a growing rift within the Bolsonaro family: Since the election, Brazilian first lady Michelle Bolsonaro and her husband have stopped following each other on Instagram.