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HeadlinesDecember 13, 2022

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G7 Leaders Pledge More Aid to Ukraine as Zelensky Appeals for Weapons and Fuel

Dec 13, 2022

Leaders of the G7, including President Joe Biden, have agreed to set up a multiagency platform to coordinate aid to Ukraine. Monday’s agreement followed a virtual summit between G7 leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who appealed for new shipments of tanks, artillery, long-range rockets and other weapons. Zelensky also called on allies to ship natural gas to Ukraine amid rolling blackouts caused by a wave of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure.

President Volodymyr Zelensky: “The terrorism against our power stations resulted in the necessity of using more gas than we had planned. That’s why we need more support, especially this winter. We are talking about an additional 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas. This is the extra amount we need to buy.”

Overnight, Ukraine’s military damaged a key bridge near the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine, in the latest setback for Russian forces.

Viktor Bout Joins Russian Ultranationalist Party; Brittney Griner Resumes Playing Basketball

Dec 13, 2022

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin has canceled his annual end-of-the-year press conference for the first time in a decade amid rising domestic criticism over his handling of the war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Viktor Bout, the former Soviet military officer who became known as the “Merchant of Death” for trafficking arms to dictators, has joined the pro-Kremlin ultranationalist LDPR party.

Bout was released from a U.S. prison last week in exchange for WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner. Griner has not spoken publicly since her return, but her agent said she’s doing well and was able to play basketball on Sunday for the first time in nearly 10 months. Her first act on the court was reportedly a slam dunk.

Disgraced Cryptocurrency Executive Sam Bankman-Fried Arrested in Bahamas

Dec 13, 2022

The disgraced founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX was arrested in the Bahamas on Monday after U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against him including wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. The arrest of Sam Bankman-Fried came a month after FTX collapsed virtually overnight, revealing an $8 billion hole in the company’s balance sheet. This morning, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint accusing Bankman-Fried of “orchestrating a scheme to defraud equity investors in FTX.” The company’s rapid collapse has been compared to the Ponzi scheme overseen by disgraced financier Bernie Madoff. Bankman-Fried’s arrest came just one day before he was scheduled to testify to the House Financial Services Committee, and after he refused to accept another subpoena ordering him to testify to the Senate Banking Committee. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports bankruptcy lawyers may attempt to claw back at least $73 million of political donations tied to FTX. Federal Election Commission data show Bankman-Fried was the second-largest campaign contributor in the 2022 midterm elections, with nearly $40 million given to Democratic campaigns and super PACs.

Iranian Protester Publicly Hanged from Crane After Secretive Trial

Dec 13, 2022

Human rights groups are warning Iran’s government may be preparing to execute more protesters, after authorities publicly executed 23-year-old Majidreza Rahnavard early Monday morning. Rahnavard was hanged from a metal crane, with his hands and feet bound and a black bag over his head. He was convicted of killing two members of paramilitary forces in a secretive trial, where he wasn’t allowed to choose his own lawyer or challenge the evidence against him. When his mother visited him, she was reportedly not notified he’d be executed soon after. This comes as the European Union has imposed new sanctions on Iranian senior officials, religious leaders and top state media employees over human rights abuses as the brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters intensifies, and for supplying drones to Russia to use in Ukraine.

Attack on Kabul Hotel Kills 3; Taliban Resumes Public Executions and Floggings

Dec 13, 2022

In Afghanistan, at least three people were killed and 18 others injured Monday as gunmen attacked a hotel in the capital Kabul. The multistory Kabul Longan Hotel is popular among Chinese nationals, although all of the dead and most of the wounded were Afghan civilians. The Islamic State affiliate known as ISIS-K took responsibility for the assault.

Meanwhile, human rights groups are condemning the Taliban for bringing back public executions and floggings. Last week, a man convicted of murder was fatally shot in front of a crowd at a soccer stadium in Farah province by the victim’s father. In recent days, Taliban courts have also ordered dozens of men and women flogged in sports stadiums.

Israeli Troops Fatally Shoot 16-Year-Old Palestinian Girl on Roof of Her Own Home

Dec 13, 2022

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old girl Monday during a raid on the city of Jenin. Witnesses say Jana Majdi Zakarneh was standing on the roof of her home when she was struck by several bullets. This is her cousin, Yasser Zakarneh.

Yasser Zakarneh: “Thirteen shots were fired by the occupation forces at Jana. Four hit her body — two in the head and two in the chest. … She was killed by the occupation forces. Their bullets are here. And the occupation army was around 500 meters away from her, in the building in front of her. All the bullets shot were fired from the same building.”

Israel’s military acknowledged that its troops killed a teenage girl, claiming soldiers hit her unintentionally after allegedly firing at Palestinian gunmen in the area. According to the United Nations, this year has already seen the highest number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since 2006.

EU Parliament Officials Accused of Accepting Bribes from Qatar

Dec 13, 2022

In Brussels, authorities have raided the homes and offices of European Parliament lawmakers, accusing them of accepting bribes from government officials in Qatar. Belgian police have so far arrested four people and recovered hundreds of thousands of euros in cash. Among those arrested is European Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili. In the lead-up to the World Cup, Kaili repeatedly defended Qatar against critics who pointed to the monarchy’s dismal record on workers’ rights and its persecution of LGBTQ people. Qatar has denied bribing European officials. Katarina Barley, head of the Socialists and Democrats bloc, on Monday called the scandal a major test of accountability for the European Parliament.

Katarina Barley: “For us, this of course is the greatest possible disaster. We, as the European Parliament, and especially we, as a party and a parliamentary group, have dedicated ourselves to the fight against corruption. And when something like this happens in our own ranks, it is a serious crisis for us.”

Protests Erupt in Tunisia Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

Dec 13, 2022

In Tunisia, protesters took to the streets of Tunis Saturday to oppose upcoming parliamentary elections, which are taking place under a new constitution enacted under President Kais Saied, who critics say has orchestrated a coup. This is opposition politician Jawher Ben Mbarek.

Jawher Ben Mbarek: “Every step Kais Saied has made in implementing the coup road map, the more the country’s crisis increases and the political suffocation closes in on the country. Today he is presenting elections and an attempt to lay the foundations for a legislative coup authority.”

Protests Spread in Peru as Anger Mounts over Impeachment and Arrest of Pedro Castillo

Dec 13, 2022

In Peru, protests have spread as anger mounts over the impeachment and jailing of leftist President Pedro Castillo. Thousands of people took to the streets of Lima, Arequipa and across northern Andean towns Monday, demanding newly appointed President Dina Boluarte hold new presidential elections early, after she said they’ll take place in April 2024. At least seven people have died in clashes with security forces. Hundreds gathered outside Peru’s Congress in Lima Monday and set up a barricade despite the threat of police violence.

María del Rosario: “The police have cornered us from all sides. They have thrown tear gas bombs at us. We are protesting because the Peruvian press is garbage and is not reporting this news.”

300+ People on Oath Keepers Membership Rolls Took Jobs with Homeland Security Dept.

Dec 13, 2022

Back in the United States, a federal jury in Washington, D.C., heard opening arguments Monday as the trial of four members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group got underway. They’re accused of joining a seditious conspiracy to stop the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. The trial follows the conviction last month of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on charges he conspired to overthrow the U.S. government on January 6, 2021. This comes as the Project on Government Oversight reports over 300 people listed on the Oath Keepers’ membership rolls have worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, taking up jobs with the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, ICE and the Secret Service.

Nevada Prisoners’ Hunger Strike Demands End to Abuses and Solitary Confinement

Dec 13, 2022

In Nevada, over a dozen people at the Ely State Prison remain on hunger strike protesting unsafe and inhumane conditions. The peaceful action began December 1 with at least 40 prisoners joining the hunger strike, according to the ACLU. Among other demands, they’re calling for an end to the extended use of solitary confinement, abuse from guards, due process violations, and for the prison to provide adequate healthcare and address safety concerns.

Three Democratic U.S. Congressmembers Meet with Cuban President in Havana 

Dec 13, 2022

In Cuba, three Democratic U.S. Congressmembers traveled to Havana over the weekend to meet with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and other Cuban officials in a rare visit to the island by U.S. lawmakers. After meeting with Congressmembers James McGovern, Mark Pocan and Troy Carter, the Cuban president repeated his call for an end of catastrophic U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba and expressed willingness from the two countries to improve bilateral relations.

Richmond, Virginia, Removes Last Public Confederate Monument

Dec 13, 2022

In Virginia, the city of Richmond removed its last Confederate statue Monday. The monument was of Confederate General A.P. Hill. Richmond began removing its Confederate statues amid the massive racial justice protests that erupted nationwide after the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy for most of the Civil War.

“Gate of the Exonerated”: NYC to Honor Central Park Five, Wrongfully Convicted of 1989 Crime

Dec 13, 2022

New York City is naming a gate in Central Park in honor of the five Black and Latino men who as teenagers were wrongfully convicted of the 1989 beating and rape of a white woman. The words “Gate of the Exonerated” will be carved on the entrance at the northern end of Central Park in the neighborhood of Harlem. The Central Park Five were exonerated in 2002 after the real perpetrator confessed and DNA evidence linked him to the assault. By then, the group had already served prison terms of up to 13 years. They were between 14 and 16 years old at the time of their arrest.

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