The Supreme Court has ordered the Biden administration to continue enforcing the Trump-era Title 42 pandemic policy while it prepares to hear oral arguments by Republican-led states challenging its termination. The court will determine the policy’s fate in its next session, which begins in February. This comes after a lower court had allowed Biden officials to end the policy earlier this month. Title 42 has been used to expel over 2 million migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border since March 2020, blocking them from seeking asylum. Thousands remain stranded in Mexico, often in extremely dangerous conditions.
In Buffalo, New York, the death toll from this weekend’s historic blizzard climbed to at least 31, with nationwide fatalities surpassing 60 people. State and military police were deployed to Buffalo Tuesday to enforce the city’s driving ban as road conditions remain treacherous. Erie County chief executive Mark Poloncarz pleaded with residents to stay off the roads.
Mark Poloncarz: “There’s a lot of roads that are completely blocked right now that have no access whatsoever, and people are trying to drive in on these roads or trying to get into these neighborhoods, and they can’t. Please, please — you heard the mayor beg, I’m begging — stay home.”
Meanwhile, the air travel chaos caused by the Christmas snowstorm has left thousands stuck at airports around the country. The Transportation Department said it will investigate flight cancellations and delays by Southwest Airlines, which has canceled around two-thirds of its flights since the storm. This is a Southwest passenger at Los Angeles International Airport.
LaKesia Barrett: “I was on the phone for like four hours on hold, no answer. So, we woke up this morning. I said, ’Let’s just come to the airport to see what’s going on.’ So, clearly, the flights are canceled, canceled, canceled and more canceled. … These amazing people that have come to work, they don’t deserve our frustration of having to get home.”
Southwest employees and union members say the company had ignored warnings its software is out of date and unable to handle such disruptions. Ninety percent of the cancellations were Southwest.
The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection released a new batch of transcripts Tuesday, including the explosive testimony from Trump staffer Cassidy Hutchinson, who said former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows burned documents in his office fireplace “once or twice a week” in the final weeks of the Trump administration. The transcripts confirm earlier reports that Hutchinson said at least two of the burnings came after meetings with Congressmember Scott Perry, who has been linked to a plan to use the Justice Department to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss. Meanwhile, Trump’s director of personnel testified the former president considered “blanket pardons” for people facing charges linked to the attack on the Capitol.
William Walker, the House sergeant-at-arms and then-head of the D.C. National Guard, told lawmakers, “I’m African American. I think it would have been a vastly different response if those were African Americans trying to breach the Capitol. You’re looking at someone who gets stopped by police for driving a high-value government vehicle. No other reason.” Last week, the House committee recommended the Justice Department issue criminal charges against Trump.
The Kremlin has banned oil sales to any country that adheres to a $60-per-barrel price cap on maritime imports of Russian crude imposed earlier this month by the G7. The EU and others have imposed their own bans on such imports, but the cap affects third parties that use G7 and European Union vessels and companies.
Meanwhile, climate activists in Germany have been staging protests to call out their government’s revival of coal burning to make up for the loss of Russian gas previously supplied by the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Kosovo has closed its largest border crossing after protesters blocked it amid mounting tensions between Serbia and Kosovo. Serbia said Tuesday its army has been put on high alert following weeks of protests and roadblocks. What started as a dispute over car license plates is now threatening to boil over, with Kosovo accusing Serbia of attempting to destabilize the country under the influence of Russia. Some 50,000 ethnic Serbs live in northern Kosovo but do not recognize Kosovo’s independence. The arrest of a former Serbian police officer in northern Kosovo earlier this month has refueled the simmering tensions.
In Indonesia, at least 185 Rohingya refugees reached western Aceh province Monday after their overcrowded wooden boat was adrift on the Andaman Sea for over a month without a working engine. Survivors said at least 26 refugees died at sea. The surviving passengers, including children, nearly starved, with many so malnourished and dehydrated they could barely walk. This is Shafiq Rahman, a Rohingya refugee, speaking from a makeshift shelter in Indonesia.
Shafiq Rahman: “From Myanmar, we became refugees in Bangladesh. We cannot read Bengali. We were provided assistance from Bangladesh, and we came to Indonesia in a boat to make our lives better.”
Just a day earlier, on Christmas, another boat carrying over 50 Rohingya refugees came ashore in Indonesia. The U.N. says the number of Rohingya refugees undertaking the dangerous trek by boat to Indonesia and other destinations in the region had increased sixfold in 2022. It’s estimated over 1 million Rohingya Muslims have fled persecution in Burma since 2017.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has begun removing Confederate monuments from its New York state campus following a congressional review and Pentagon orders to take down or rename 13 Confederate “assets and memorabilia.” The removal includes a portrait of General Robert E. Lee, who was a graduate and superintendent of West Point. The Southern Poverty Law Center says over 230 Confederate symbols have been removed or renamed in the U.S. since May 2020, when racial justice protests swept the country.
In Michigan, a federal judge sentenced a leader of the 2020 plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer to 16 years in prison. Adam Fox, who was convicted in August of kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, is a member of the far-right, anti-government Boogaloo Bois. Other Boogaloo members took part in the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Another leader in the Whitmer kidnapping plot, Barry Croft, is being sentenced today.
In labor news, University of California graduate student workers ratified a new contract last Friday, putting an end to their historic six-week strike. The strike involved 48,000 student workers at all 10 UC campuses. The contract includes increases in salary, more child care support, and new measures to protect against bullying and harassment.
But some union members rejected the new contract, including a majority of voters at the Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Merced campuses. Opponents say the economic gains don’t go nearly far enough; the new agreement weakens the ability to organize; and initial demands that would have benefited undocumented, international and disabled workers were sacrificed.
Meanwhile, here in New York, part-time and non-tenure-track full-time faculty at Fordham University have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike starting January 30 if they are unable to reach a tentative agreement and a commitment to fair wages.