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HeadlinesMarch 18, 2022

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Russia Broadens Offensive on Ukraine with Strikes Near Polish Border 

Mar 18, 2022

Russia has widened its assault on Ukraine, more than three weeks after President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade. On Friday morning, Russian missiles struck an aircraft repair plant near the civilian airport in Lviv. The attack in western Ukraine came just 50 miles from the border with Poland — a NATO member.

Russian artillery fell on a secondary school and a city cultural center in a town near Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv. That attack killed 23 people. Russian shells also triggered a massive fire in Kharkiv that destroyed one of the largest markets in Eastern Europe, killing three people. More strikes have hit the capital Kyiv.

In southern Ukraine, Russian ships are shelling the Black Sea port city of Odessa. In Mariupol, officials say 30,000 residents have managed to escape, but more than 350,000 remained besieged without adequate food, water or medicine. This is Nadezdha, a Mariupol retiree who survived a Russian strike on her apartment block.

Nadezhda: “My grandson went outside. All of us went to the street, and I was left as the last one. And then there was an explosion. We were left without anything. We are living in basements. It’s a horror. What for? Tell me. What for? What are we guilty of? In whose eyes are we guilty?”

U.N. Says 726 Confirmed Civilian Deaths in Ukraine Is a Significant Undercount

Mar 18, 2022

At the United Nations, political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council Thursday the U.N. had confirmed 726 civilians killed and nearly 1,200 injured so far during Russia’s assault. Among the dead and wounded are 115 children.

Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo: “The actual number is likely much higher. Most of these casualties were caused by the use in populated areas of explosive weapons with a wide impact area. Hundreds of residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as have hospitals and schools.”

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence officials say more than 7,000 Russian troops have been killed during the first three weeks of fighting — including young conscripts forced into Russian military service. 

House Votes 424-8 Against Most Favored Trade Status for Russia, Belarus

Mar 18, 2022

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to sever normal trade relations with Russia over its assault on Ukraine and to further sanction Belarus over its support of Russia’s military. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised a speedy debate. 

U.S. Warns China Against Russia Aid Ahead of Phone Call Between Biden and Xi Jinping

Mar 18, 2022

President Biden is speaking by phone with Chinese leader Xi Jinping today. Ahead of the talks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China would face consequences if it moves to resupply Russia’s military or takes other steps to support the Ukraine invasion.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “And we’ll make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs.”

Global Coronavirus Cases Are Rising Again, as BA.2 Subvariant Spreads

Mar 18, 2022

The World Health Organization is warning the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, with the number of global daily cases again on the rise. Many European countries are experiencing a new surge in cases tied to BA.2, a fast-spreading subvariant of the Omicron variant. China has expanded lockdowns in major cities as it struggles to maintain its zero-COVID strategy amid its worst outbreak since early 2020. Meanwhile, South Korea reported more than 620,000 new cases and 429 deaths on Thursday alone. Until this year, South Korea had one of the world’s most successful responses to COVID-19. 

Dr. Ashish Jha to Replace Jeff Zients as Head of White House Coronavirus Task Force 

Mar 18, 2022

Here in the United States, the head of President Biden’s coronavirus task force is stepping down. The White House says Jeff Zients will be replaced by Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. Zients drew praise early in Biden’s presidency for his science-based approach to the pandemic, but drew fire for failing to make rapid antigen tests and N95 masks widely available and affordable to the public. He also killed a proposal that would have provided paid quarantine and isolation for most U.S. workers. In a statement, Public Citizen said, “The Zients-led Covid response refused to challenge Big Pharma’s monopoly control, in the U.S. and globally, over technologies that relied crucially on public support. As a result, the United States and other rich countries failed to expand vaccine supply sufficient to meet global need.”

Australian Court Overturns Landmark Ruling on Youth Climate Lawsuit

Mar 18, 2022

An Australian appeals court has overturned a historic 2021 ruling that found the government had a “duty of care” to protect children from the effects of the climate catastrophe. The case was brought by eight Australian teenagers in a bid to prevent the expansion of a coal mine. The young plaintiffs could still appeal the ruling.

This comes as seven youth climate activists in Utah launched a new suit against their state and Utah officials this week. They argue fossil fuel development violates their constitutional rights and “poses an existential threat to Utah’s children.”

U.S. Appeals Court Will Allow Biden Admin to Consider “Social Cost of Carbon”

Mar 18, 2022

A federal appeals court ruled the Biden administration can factor in the cost of the climate crisis in policy decisions. The decision stays a ruling from a lower court which banned the administration from considering what is referred to as the “social cost of carbon.” It could affect upcoming decisions on oil and gas drilling leases and regulatory practices.

Saharan Dust Storm Shrouds Southern Europe in Orange Haze

Mar 18, 2022

Sprawling Saharan sandstorms cast an orange glow across European skies this week. The effect was most dramatic in Spain, where authorities urged residents to stay indoors to avoid breathing in the coarse particulate matter. Scientists warned the climate crisis will intensify such events in the coming years.

U.S. Delegation Breaks Siege on Family of Activists in Western Sahara

Mar 18, 2022

In Western Sahara, a delegation of U.S.-based volunteers has arrived at the home of prominent Sahrawi human rights defender Sultana Khaya, her sister Luara and their family. It’s a rare visit by international human rights observers to the territory, which has suffered under Moroccan occupation since 1975. The U.S. delegation includes Adrienne Kinne, a former U.S. Army intelligence sergeant and president of Veterans for Peace. Their visit breaks a 482-day siege of the home, where family members have been forcibly confined by Moroccan security forces since November 2020. The Khaya sisters say they were raped last year by Moroccan agents in front of their 84-year-old mother. The agents also stole mobile phones, destroyed belongings, and threw trash, urine and a noxious black liquid into the family’s drinking water storage tank. To see our interview with Sultana Khaya, go to our website, democracynow.org, and link to our documentary, “Four Days in Western Sahara: Africa’s Last Colony.”

East Timor to Vote for President Ahead of 20th Anniversary of Its Independence 

Mar 18, 2022

In East Timor, voters are heading to the polls Saturday. Among a field of 16 presidential candidates are incumbent Francisco “Lú-Olo” Guterres of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor and former President José Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Ramos-Horta has been leading in the polls. The winner will take office on May 20, the 20th anniversary of East Timor’s independence from Indonesia.

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Peruvian Court Decision to Release Ex-President Fujimori Triggers Protests

Mar 18, 2022

Peru’s top court has authorized the release of 83-year-old former President Alberto Fujimori from prison. Fujimori has served less than 15 years of a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses and crimes committed during his rule in the 1990s, including kidnapping, bribery and ordering massacres by death squads. The government of President Pedro Castillo said it would appeal the ruling before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Protesters took to the streets following the news. This is Gisela Ortiz, former Peruvian culture minister, whose brother was murdered during Fujimori’s dictatorship.

Gisela Ortiz: “We spontaneously came out to react to this unjust and illegal decision from the Constitutional Tribunal which gives Fujimori freedom. He is a former president who violated human rights. We are demanding that our right to justice as massacre victims’ relatives is guaranteed.”

Honduras Will Extradite Ex-President Juan Orlando Hernández to U.S. to Face Drug Charges

Mar 18, 2022

A judge in Honduras has granted the extradition of former President Juan Orlando Hernández to the United States on drug trafficking and firearms charges. Hernández is a longtime U.S. ally who ended his presidential term less than two months ago. He’s also accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes to shield drug traffickers from the law. In a court filing, witnesses say the ex-president said he wanted to shove cocaine “right up the noses of the gringos.”

California Man Gasped “I Can’t Breathe” to CHP Officers as They Killed Him in March 2020

Mar 18, 2022

In Los Angeles, newly released video shows the death of Edward Bronstein at the hands of California Highway Patrol officers. The 38-year-old father of five was arrested in March of 2020 on suspicion of driving under the influence and brought to a CHP station in the Los Angeles suburb of Altadena. A 17-minute video recorded by a CHP sergeant opens with officers demanding Bronstein give a blood sample to measure his blood alcohol level.

Highway Patrol officer: “You’re bringing the fight to this, not us.”

Edward Bronstein: “I’m not fighting it at all.”

Highway Patrol officer: “Then have a seat and provide your arm. This is your last opportunity; otherwise, you’re going face down on the mat, and we’re going to keep on going.”

After Bronstein hesitates, five officers tackle and pin him to the ground, pressing their combined body weight into Bronstein’s back and neck.

Edward Bronstein: “I’ll do it willingly, I told you. Please, don’t! OK, I’ll do it willingly! I’ll do it willingly! I’ll do it willingly, I promise!”

The video shows officers ignoring Bronstein’s pleas to willingly give a blood sample. He screams repeatedly and gasps “I can’t breathe” 12 times.

Edward Bronstein: “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”
bq. Highway Patrol officer: “Then stop yelling!”
bq. Edward Bronstein: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”

Bronstein’s screams grow quieter, and he falls still. Two minutes pass as officers continue to draw blood. One officer checks for a pulse, calls Bronstein’s name and slaps him in the side of his head as he appears to be unconscious. Officers call for a paramedic but continue to draw blood from Bronstein’s limp body. More than 11 minutes after Bronstein’s last screams, officers finally begin administering CPR.

Bronstein’s family is suing the California Highway Patrol for wrongful death, assault and battery, civil rights violations and failure to render aid. A federal judge ruled Bronstein’s family had a right to view the video and make it public, after California state attorneys fought to prevent its release. Bronstein’s family is also demanding criminal charges for the officers involved.

Howard University Faculty Plan Strike over Working Conditions, Low Wages

Mar 18, 2022

In Washington, D.C., faculty at Howard University have announced they could go on strike next week over unresolved issues with their working conditions, including below-living wages for non-tenured educators. This is Cyrus Hampton, a contingent faculty member who teaches full-time in Howard’s English Department.

Cyrus Hampton: “We are calling on our tenured and tenure-track colleagues to stand with us and honor our picket lines during the strike. We’re calling on our students, alums and all of the HU community to support us in our effort to overcome the unfair labor practices of university leadership and to better the university as a whole.”

Howard is one of the top historically Black colleges and universities in the United States. Last fall, students won improvements to university housing and other concessions after they held a weeks-long sit-in protest occupying a student center on campus.

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