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HeadlinesMarch 11, 2022

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Russian Tanks and Artillery Take Firing Positions Within Range of Ukraine’s Capital

Mar 11, 2022

Russia’s withering assault on Ukraine has entered its 16th day. New satellite images show a column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles has dispersed north of Kyiv for a possible ground assault on the capital. Earlier today, Russian airstrikes hit the city of Dnipro in central-eastern Ukraine, killing at least one person. The airstrikes reportedly hit a kindergarten, an apartment building and a shoe factory. Long-range Russian missiles also hit airfields in two western cities. Some 400,000 people remain trapped by Russian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol. People in the region say they’ve endured near-constant artillery attacks amid freezing temperatures, with no heat, electricity or communications, and food and water in short supply.

Anadol resident 1: “There is nothing here. It’s the first time that we’ve got bread and food here. There was nothing before. It’s the first day. There is no information, no electricity. It’s just a vacuum.”

Anadol resident 2: “My children are in Mariupol and near Kyiv. I don’t know. There is no mobile connection so far, so we can’t get in touch. For two weeks we don’t know what is up with them and where they are — our children! It’s very scary.”

Ukraine’s President Calls Russia a “Terrorist State” Amid Civilian Attacks

Mar 11, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his government is working to secure humanitarian corridors for civilians trapped by fighting. He said Russian forces targeted an evacuation route Thursday in southeastern Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky: “Today they destroyed the building of the main department of the State Emergency Service in the Donetsk region. Right next to this building was the place where Mariupol residents were to gather for evacuation. This is outright terror, blatant terror, from experienced terrorists.”

IAEA Warns of Deteriorating Conditions at Ukrainian Nuclear Sites

Mar 11, 2022

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog says the situation at the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant is deteriorating. The International Atomic Energy Agency says it lost contact with staff working under Russian guard at the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster after power was cut on Wednesday. Ukrainian officials say operators have been forced to use backup diesel generators to power cooling systems that are needed to prevent a radioactive release. The IAEA says 210 technical staff and guards have not been allowed to rotate off shift or rest since Russian forces seized Chernobyl two weeks ago. The IAEA also says it was no longer receiving remote data transmissions from safety monitoring systems at Chernobyl, as well as the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. On Thursday, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi held talks in Turkey with foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia, urging them to reach a deal on the safety and security of Ukraine's nuclear sites.

Rafael Grossi: “Perhaps the gravity of my tone has to do with the gravity of the situation, because it’s a very dire situation, and we need to move fast.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials say Russian warplanes bombed a physics institute in the eastern city of Kharkiv which houses an experimental nuclear reactor.

White House Will Ask Congress to Revoke “Most Favored Nation” Status for Russia

Mar 11, 2022

The White House says President Biden will ask Congress to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia. Russian leaders hit back, ordering an export ban on more than 200 products until the end of the year. A top Kremlin official said Russia may respond by seizing the assets of foreign companies and nationalizing their Russian operations. Economists believe Russia could see a 15% decline in its gross domestic product this year as a result of sanctions. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Thursday accused the U.S. and its allies of waging an “economic war” on Russia.

Meanwhile, the World Bank’s chief economist is warning the Ukraine crisis will lead to soaring food and fuel prices that could trigger widespread hunger and social unrest, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, which are highly dependent on imports of Russian and Ukrainian commodities like wheat and cooking oil.

U.S. Inflation Jumps to 40-Year High

Mar 11, 2022

The Biden administration reports inflation has risen to a level not seen since 1982. The Labor Department said Thursday the Consumer Price Index rose by 7.9% over the 12-month period that ended in February. At the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that U.S. residents should expect more inflationary pressure in the weeks ahead as bans on Russian fossil fuels squeeze energy markets.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki: “In terms of prices going up, we do anticipate that gas prices and energy prices will go up. That is something that the president has conveyed very clearly to the American public. We also believe it will be temporary and not long-lasting.”

UAE Asks OPEC to Boost Oil Production as U.S. Presses Saudis over Oil Prices

Mar 11, 2022

The United Arab Emirates says it will press OPEC to pump more oil after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to soaring fuel prices. The move is a departure from the UAE’s position in recent months in support of higher oil prices that benefited major producers, including Russia and Saudi Arabia. This comes as Biden administration officials have been quietly holding talks with Saudi officials and are reportedly weighing a potential Biden visit to the kingdom to discuss global oil supply.

Pentagon Asks Biden to Deploy U.S. Commandos to Somalia

Mar 11, 2022

U.S. military commanders have reportedly asked President Biden to station hundreds of commandos in Somalia to counter al-Shabab. The move would reverse former President Trump’s transfer of some 700 U.S. combat forces from bases in Somalia to neighboring countries last January.

U.S. Claims North Korea Is Testing New Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

Mar 11, 2022

The Biden administration says North Korea has tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile system capable of delivering a nuclear warhead anywhere on Earth. North Korean media reports the recent launches were related to plans by leader Kim Jong-un to launch spy satellites into orbit to monitor the militaries of the United States and its allies. A Pentagon spokesperson rejected those claims, saying North Korea is instead preparing a test of a new ICBM at full range — disguised as a space launch.

Israeli Knesset Reinstates Racist “Citizenship Law”; Palestinian Lawmaker Salah Hamouri Arrested

Mar 11, 2022

Israeli legislators passed a law Thursday that denies citizenship rights to Palestinians from the occupied West Bank or Gaza who are married to Israelis. A similar measure had already been in place since 2003 but expired last year. Critics call it a racist law that singles out Arabs and forces thousands of families to move or live apart.

In other news from Israel, authorities raided and arrested French Palestinian activist and lawyer Salah Hamouri. The arrest came one day after Hamouri published an op-ed in Jacobin describing the “judicial harassment” he and his family have faced for years. In November, researchers revealed Hamouri’s phone had been hacked with the powerful Pegasus spyware, made by the Israeli firm NSO Group.

BJP Claims Key Victories in State Elections, Bolsters Right-Wing Head of Uttar Pradesh

Mar 11, 2022

In India, the ruling Hindu nationalist BJ Party has won elections in four key states, including northern Uttar Pradesh, which represents about a fifth of India’s population and has more members of Parliament than any other state. The results are a boon for Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of national elections in 2024. Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister is Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk who has made anti-Muslim statements. Critics warn he has allowed for the police killing of Dalits and Muslims in the state, as well as a crackdown on journalists and activists.

Guatemalan President Rejects Bill Banning Marriage Equality and Increasing Penalty for Abortion

Mar 11, 2022

In a surprise reversal, Guatemala’s conservative President Alejandro Giammattei came out against a recently passed bill increasing penalties for abortions and banning same-sex marriage.

President Alejandro Giammattei: “I have decided that if that law reaches my office, it will be vetoed. … It violates two conventions to which Guatemala is a signatory. Its wording has technical deficiencies, and, furthermore, it violates the republic’s political constitution.”

Guatemala’s Congress had approved the bill on Tuesday — International Women’s Day. It would increase prison sentences for people who have an abortion to 10 years.

2020 Census Significantly Undercounted U.S. Residents of Color

Mar 11, 2022

Back in the United States, the Census Bureau reported the Trump administration significantly undercounted Latinx, Black and Indigenous residents when it carried out the census in 2020. New data show an estimated 18.8 million people were left out of the most recent census, with communities of color undercounted at far higher rates than in previous censuses. This follows efforts by former President Trump to shorten the 2020 census and to add a citizenship question that rights groups say was aimed at discouraging immigrants from participating. Texas Democratic Congressmember Joaquin Castro tweeted, “This was intentional. … The undercount will strip Latino communities of government funding and electoral power. Congress must not allow this to happen again.”

Victims’ Families and Survivors of Opioids Epidemic Confront Sackler Family in Historic Hearing

Mar 11, 2022

In a watershed event in the ongoing reckoning over the opioid crisis, victims of the epidemic have directly confronted the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma. In a hearing Thursday as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy settlement, 26 people from 19 states shared with the Sacklers the pain and tragedy they and their families faced because of addiction to OxyContin. Ryan Hampton, opioids survivor, author and activist, said, “I hope that every single victim’s face haunts your every waking moment and your sleeping ones, too. I hope you hear our names in your dreams. I hope you hear the screams of the families who find their loved ones dead on the bathroom floor. … You poisoned our lives and had the audacity to blame us for dying.”

3 More Starbucks Locations Unionize; MLB Agrees to New Contract, Ending Lockout

Mar 11, 2022

In labor news, workers at three more Buffalo-area Starbucks voted to unionize. Six U.S.-based Starbucks now have a union; over 100 other locations across the country have filed for their own union elections.

Major League Baseball has reached an agreement with the MLB Players Association on a new union contract. The deal ends a 99-day lockout of players by team owners that had threatened to shorten the 2022 season. Opening Day is now set for April 7. In a statement, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders said, “It would be wrong for Congress to simply celebrate today’s agreement and move on. We must prevent the greed of baseball’s oligarchs from destroying the game. The best way to do that is to end Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption and I will be introducing legislation to do just that.”

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