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HeadlinesFebruary 15, 2022

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Russia Withdraws Some Troops from Ukraine Border, Says It’s Open to More Diplomacy

Feb 15, 2022

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it is withdrawing some of its troops from near Ukraine’s border, in a sign the Kremlin may be deescalating the threat of an invasion. The announcement came as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in Moscow for meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and as Russia’s top diplomat said the prospect of a diplomatic solution was “far from exhausted.” At the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres said after talks with foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine that diplomacy remains the only option to resolving the crisis.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “The time is now to defuse tensions and deescalate actions on the ground. There is no place for incendiary rhetoric. Public statements should aim to reduce tensions, not inflame them.”

On Monday, the Biden administration ordered the evacuation of all remaining personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and urged all U.S. citizens to leave Belarus and part of Moldova, saying an invasion of Ukraine could still come at any time.

California Will Keep Mask Mandate for Schools as Universal Mask Mandate Ends

Feb 15, 2022

California health officials will preserve a statewide mask mandate for K-12 schools through at least the end of the month, even as they’re allowing a universal indoor mask mandate to expire today. Daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the U.S. are continuing to decline from January’s record highs but remain near the peak of last summer’s Delta-driven surge. An average of 2,400 people are dying of coronavirus infections each day in the U.S.

Canadian PM Invokes Emergency Powers as Police Say Anti-Vaccine Protesters Plotted Violence

Feb 15, 2022

In Canada, authorities in Alberta arrested 11 people Monday who they say were prepared to use violence to maintain a blockade of anti-vaccine protesters at a major border crossing into Montana. Police said they recovered guns, body armor and a machete from the group. Monday’s arrests came as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked a national public order emergency that will give him greater powers to quell protests and blockades.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “We are not limiting people’s freedom of speech. We are not limiting freedom of peaceful assembly. We are not preventing people from exercising their right to protest legally. We are reinforcing the principles, values and institutions that keep all Canadians free.”

Thousands of Nurses Go on Strike as Australia Suffers Its First COVID-19 Surge

Feb 15, 2022

In Australia, thousands of nurses in New South Wales have walked off the job in the first strike taken by Australian nurses in almost a decade. They’re demanding limits on nurse-to-patient ratios and better pay, as healthcare workers grapple with Australia’s first major surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cathy: “We deserve better. We need more staff on the wards. Our patients aren’t safe. Most of the time the staff are overworked, and it’s stressed. And it’s just not fair. It’s not fair. We don’t ask for much.”

Adrian: “We’ve been struggling. A lot of our nurses have been burnt out, doing doubles, struggling every day.”

Civil Society Groups Demand Moderna Drop Vaccine Patent Filings in South Africa

Feb 15, 2022

A coalition of more than 60 African civil society groups has written an open letter to Moderna, calling on billionaire CEO Stéphane Bancel to immediately withdraw vaccine patents his company has filed in South Africa. The groups say Moderna’s attempt to enforce intellectual property rights poses long-term barriers to the production of lifesaving mRNA vaccines on the African continent. For well over a year, Moderna, Pfizer and other drugmakers have lobbied successfully to block a waiver on COVID vaccine patent rights at the World Trade Organization.

Sudanese Forces Kill Two More Protesters Demanding End to Military Rule

Feb 15, 2022

In Sudan, government forces shot and killed two protesters Monday in the latest violent crackdown on demonstrations demanding an end to military rule and the establishment of a civilian government. Sudanese forces opened fire with live ammunition after protesters approached the presidential palace waving national flags and carrying red balloons to mark Valentine’s Day. The latest killings bring the number of people killed in protests to at least 81 since a coup by Sudan’s military in October.

Israeli PM Meets Bahrain’s Crown Prince in First-of-Its-Kind Visit

Feb 15, 2022

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett traveled to Bahrain Monday, becoming the first Israeli head of government ever to visit the Gulf kingdom. Bennett met earlier today with his counterpart, Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. Bahrain is widely seen as a proxy for Saudi Arabia, a country with which Israel has no formal diplomatic ties.

Mexican Media Workers Demand End to Impunity for Those Who Murder Journalists

Feb 15, 2022

In Mexico, members of the media took to the streets across the country for a second round of massive protests in response to ongoing murders of Mexican journalists. Five journalists have been assassinated in just the first six weeks of 2022: José Luis Gamboa, Margarito Martínez Esquivel, Heber López Vásquez, Lourdes Maldonado López and Roberto Toledo Barrera. Heber López is the latest victim, killed in the southern state of Oaxaca just last week. A vigil was held in their memory in Mexico City.

Jaime Guerrero: “We journalists would like to see the federal and state governments show solidarity with the press. But instead, we see indifference and, in some cases, direct attacks.”

Honduran Police Surround Home of Ex-President as U.S. Requests His Extradition to Face Drug Charges

Feb 15, 2022

The United States government has formally requested the arrest and extradition of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández on drug trafficking charges. Overnight, Honduran police and military forces surrounded Hernández’s home in the capital Tegucigalpa. The Honduran Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a hearing this morning to rule on Hernández’s capture and extradition to the U.S. Hernández and his right-wing political party have for years been accused of human rights violations, corruption and ties to drug trafficking. Despite those reports, Hernández remained a key U.S. ally in Central America. Hernández’s presidential term ended less than a month ago.

House Democrats Demand Biden End Policy That’s Deported 1000s to Face Torture, Rape and Murder

Feb 15, 2022

House Democrats are asking the Biden administration to justify its use of Title 42, a Trump-era policy which allows the U.S. to expel recently arrived migrants without due process. Since 2020, it’s been used to expel more than 1.2 million asylum seekers. Thirty-three Democrats signed a letter to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky Monday demanding an end to the policy, which they write is directly responsible for sending thousands of immigrants back to situations where they faced assault, rape and even murder.

“A Day Without Immigrants”: U.S. Protests Demand Immigration Reforms

Feb 15, 2022

Immigrants from across the United States on Monday walked out of workplaces and schools — and didn’t spend any money — as they marked a Day Without Immigrants. Rallies took place in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Houston and dozens of other U.S. cities. The Valentine’s Day action was organized by 23-year-old TikTok star Carlos Eduardo Espina to pressure the Biden administration to enact immigration reform. Espina is an immigrant from Uruguay who came to the U.S. when he was 5 years old. He spoke from outside the White House Monday as crowds kept growing larger.

Carlos Eduardo Espina: “All these people are out here to support the fight for immigration reform. They came from all over the country to support. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, my people. We’ll keep fighting.”

Accounting Firm Breaks Ties with Trump, Saying Financial Statements Can’t Be Trusted

Feb 15, 2022

Donald Trump’s longtime accounting firm has broken ties with the Trump Organization, saying a decade of financial statements should “no longer be relied upon.” Newly revealed court documents show the accounting firm Mazars said it would no longer act as Trump’s accountant, citing a conflict of interest. This comes as New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether the Trump Organization inflated the values of its properties to obtain loans and then reduced them to evade taxes.

Judge to Throw Out Sarah Palin’s Libel Lawsuit Against New York Times

Feb 15, 2022

A New York district judge said Monday he’s prepared to throw out a lawsuit by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who sued The New York Times and its former editorial page editor for libel. The Times argued in court that its editorial falsely linking Palin to a 2011 mass shooting was an honest mistake that was corrected quickly. Judge Jed Rakoff said Monday Palin’s legal team failed to prove the Times showed “actual malice” — a high bar for defamation cases against public figures. He promised to throw out a jury’s verdict even if it decides in favor of Palin, who has said she may appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Manuel Oliver, Whose Son Joaquin Died in Parkland Massacre Four Years Ago, Arrested in D.C. Protest

Feb 15, 2022

In Washington, D.C., the father of one of the victims of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was arrested Monday during a peaceful protest demanding the Biden administration take action to curb gun violence. Manuel Oliver, the father of 17-year-old Parkland shooting victim Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, climbed a 150-foot-high construction crane and unfurled a banner that displayed a picture of his son and a message to President Biden reading, “45,000 people died from gun violence on your watch.”

His protest came on the fourth anniversary of the Parkland massacre — and as youth-led gun control groups launched an online tool called the “Shock Market” to track U.S. gun violence. A video unveiling the website features shocking statistics about U.S. firearm deaths and injuries in the year since Biden took office.

Manuel Oliver: “There is an explosive market to watch in America with numbers trending off the charts and forecasts that have no end in sight. And thanks to a lack of action from Congress and a lack of urgency from the White House, this is what it looked like after President Biden’s first year. We call it the Shock Market. And as the father of Joaquin Oliver, who was murdered four years ago in the Parkland shooting, President Biden, I call this unacceptable. The administration keeps an eye on a lot of numbers and indicators, so let’s remind them that when these go up, lives come crashing down. No one should have to experience gun violence like my family did.”

That was the voice of Manuel Oliver, who co-founded the gun control group Change the Ref with his wife Patricia.

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