Russia has intensified its attacks on Ukraine’s major cities. The governor of Kharkiv oblast, including Ukraine’s second-largest city, said at least 21 people were killed and over 100 wounded in a 24-hour period under heavy Russian shelling. The city’s police headquarters and university were badly damaged and caught fire. Russia says it captured the southern port city of Kherson, though local officials deny the claim. Mariupol has also come under intense shelling.
In the capital Kyiv, a Russian missile strike on a television tower killed five civilians Tuesday. The attack also hit the site of Kyiv’s Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial. The memorial commemorates the more than 33,000 Jews who were shot dead by Nazis and Nazi-led forces over a two-day period in 1941, and the estimated 100,000 Jews, Roma and others killed near the site between 1941 and 1943. The memorial was partially funded by one of Putin’s Russian oligarchs, Mikhail Fridman. President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to the attack today.
President Volodymyr Zelensky: “It is beyond humanity. This rocket strike proves that for many people in Russia our Kyiv is absolutely foreign. They don’t know a thing about our capital, about our history, but they all have orders to erase our history, erase our country, erase us all.”
Zelensky added in his comments, “You killed Holocaust victims for the second time.”
The U.N. says some 836,000 people have fled Ukraine in the week since the invasion started, in what “looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century.” Poland says more than 450,000 people have crossed its border. This is a refugee from Kyiv who fled to Romania.
Ana Sohach: “In Ukraine, it’s like hell. We don’t know what to do. That’s why we cross into another country. So, we don’t know what would be tomorrow, so we are running. My husband is staying in Ukraine because there is no possibility to cross for man who is under 60 years, so of course he has stayed in Ukraine.”
On Tuesday, the U.N. launched a $1.7 billion aid appeal for Ukraine. Members of the U.N. General Assembly are voting today on a resolution demanding Russia immediately cease its military assault on Ukraine and condemning Moscow’s decision to put its nuclear forces on high alert. On Tuesday, U.N. diplomats staged a mass walkout as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed the Human Rights Council.
Apple is the latest multinational company to withdraw business from Russia, halting sales of all its products. Boeing, Exxon and Ford Motor also announced they were suspending some or all operations involving Russia.
At his first State of the Union address, President Biden also announced new U.S. measures against Russia.
President Joe Biden: “And tonight I’m announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding additional squeeze on their economy. He has no idea what’s coming.”
Biden also said the U.S. and international allies would release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic petroleum reserves to curb a surge in gas prices related to the war. On the domestic front, Biden addressed mounting inflation, education, the pandemic and pledged to support police forces around the country. We’ll have more on Biden’s speech later in the broadcast.
Texans voted in the country’s first primary election of 2022 Tuesday. In perhaps the most closely watched race of the night, 28-year-old Jessica Cisneros, an immigration lawyer and progressive Democrat, will head to a May runoff with incumbent Congressmember Henry Cuellar after neither secured the 50% threshold needed to move forward. Conservative Democrat Henry Cuellar’s home and office were raided by the FBI in January as part of a federal investigation. Former labor organizer and Austin City Councilmember Greg Casar won the Democratic primary for Congressional District 35.
In the governor’s vote, incumbent Greg Abbott won the Republican primary, while former congressmember and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke clinched the Democratic race.
In other news from Texas, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal have filed a lawsuit seeking to block a new Texas directive that orders state welfare officials to launch child abuse investigations against parents who seek gender-affirming care for their transgender children — care that is vital and lifesaving. The suit was filed on behalf of a family that received a home visit from an investigator last week demanding access to their trans child’s medical records, but the parents refused. The lawsuit accuses Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services of causing “terror and anxiety” and trampling on the constitutional rights of trans children. In a statement, the ACLU of Texas said, “No family should have to fear being torn apart because they are supporting their trans child.”
The White House is announcing a new phase in its coronavirus response today. The new strategy will focus on minimizing disruptions to daily life and easing public health measures. It reflects recently updated mask guidance by the CDC and the loosening of restrictions by cities and states around the country. President Biden reflected the shift during his State of the Union address yesterday.
President Joe Biden: “Thanks to the progress we’ve made in the past year, COVID-19 no longer need control our lives.”
Biden also announced a new program to provide people with antiviral treatment as soon as they test positive for COVID.
New York City is expected to end some of its mask and vaccine mandates starting next week, including an indoor mask mandate for public school children, and the city’s main contact-tracing program. On the West Coast, California, Oregon and Washington announced they are dropping school mask mandates after March 11. Some health experts, as well as more medically vulnerable populations, have warned against a premature lifting of protective measures.
In Canada, the Kapawe’no First Nation community has discovered at least 169 potential mass graves on the grounds of the former Grouard Mission residential school in northern Alberta. Hundreds of other unmarked graves have recently been found at former residential school sites across Canada. An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children attended these boarding schools between the late 1800s and 1990s, funded by the Canadian government and run by the Catholic Church. Children were ripped from their families and sent to the schools, where many were subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented at least 4,100 deaths.
In the occupied West Bank, three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in two separate attacks Tuesday. The youngest reported death was 18-year-old Shadi Khaled Najm.
In other news from the region, Israel’s Supreme Court has suspended, for now, the expulsion of four Palestinian families from their homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Israeli settlers were attempting to seize their land, but the dispute will now have to undergo a legal process that could take years or not be completed at all. Palestinian families have been resisting the dispossession of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah for generations.
Panama has enacted a law recognizing the legal rights of nature. Environmentalists are celebrating the legislation as a tool to fight against ecological destruction and the climate crisis. The law defines nature as a “unique, indivisible and self-regulating community of living beings” and guarantees nature’s rights to conserve its biodiversity and to be restored after it’s harmed by human activity.
Here in New York City, a 61-year-old woman, GuiYing Ma, died three months after she was violently attacked in Queens, leaving her comatose and attached to a ventilator and feeding tube. Ma, who came to New York from China four years ago, is at least the fourth person of Asian descent to die after a violent attack in New York since December.
Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for his hollow condemnation of far-right Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, who both spoke at a white nationalist event over the weekend. The New York Democrat tweeted, “McCarthy has been protecting his little KKK Caucus for years with these toothless statements … It’s how he covers for them.” Ocasio-Cortez reminded her followers that McCarthy “passionately defended” Gosar last year when he reposted a violent animated video showing himself killing her and attacking President Biden. “He works to protect them,” AOC added.