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HeadlinesMarch 23, 2022

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Russia Pounds Mariupol, Kyiv Announces New Evacuation Routes as U.N. Urges End to “Unwinnable” War

Mar 23, 2022

The nonstop Russian bombardment of Mariupol continues, reducing the port city to ashes and making the rescue and evacuation of remaining residents treacherous, if not impossible. Ukrainian authorities said earlier today they reached a deal with Russia to create nine corridors to evacuate citizens in the regions of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv and Luhansk. On Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv accused Russia of kidnapping over 2,000 Ukrainian children from the country’s separatist regions.

Ukrainian forces continue to hold off Russian advances around Kyiv and other areas as a Pentagon official said Russia’s combat power declined below 90% of its pre-invasion levels. Meanwhile, U.S. and NATO officials say Belarus could soon join Russian troops in combat. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday said it’s time to negotiate an end to the “unwinnable” war.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house. The only outcome to all this is more suffering, more destruction and more horror as far as the eye can see. The Ukrainian people are enduring a living hell.”

Ukrainian officials say a series of forest fires near the Russian-occupied Chernobyl nuclear plant are further raising fears of radiation.

President Biden is traveling to Europe today, where he will meet with NATO allies and is expected to announce new sanctions on Russia. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expects to speak to Chinese leader Xi Jinping “very soon.”

“Oil Fuels War”: Greenpeace Protests Russian Oil Tanker

Mar 23, 2022

Greenpeace activists on Tuesday protested a tanker carrying Russian oil into New York before a ban on new imports takes effect next month. Protesters held up signs reading “Oil Fuels War.” Greenpeace says the Biden administration should invoke the Defense Production Act to build sustainable energy and achieve independence from fossil fuels.

This comes as a new report finds wealthy nations must completely end oil and gas production by 2034 to give the world a 50/50 chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Republicans Grill Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson over Critical Race Theory, Guantánamo, Trans Rights

Mar 23, 2022

Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson are continuing for a third day today. On Tuesday, Judge Jackson rejected Republican accusations that her sentences in child sexual abuse cases were lenient, saying she ordered “strict sentences and all of the additional restraints available in the law.” Republicans also went after Judge Jackson on a number of issues that have become recent flashpoints for the right. Senator Ted Cruz grilled Jackson over her views on critical race theory, while Senator Marsha Blackburn attacked transgender rights, at one point asking Jackson to define the word “woman.” Jackson declined to do so, asserting, “I’m not a biologist.” Senator Lindsey Graham asked Judge Jackson to rate how religious she is.

Sen. Lindsey Graham: “On a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion? You know, I go to church probably three times a year, so that speaks poorly of me. Or do you — do you attend church regularly?”

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: “Well, Senator, I am reluctant to talk about my faith in this way, just because I want to be mindful of the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”

Separately, Lindsey Graham stormed out of the hearing after he clashed with Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin over the ongoing detention of Guantánamo Bay prisoners, some of whom Jackson represented as an attorney.

BA.2 Subvariant Drives Uptick in NYC COVID Cases; Authorities Move Ahead with Easing of Restrictions

Mar 23, 2022

In coronavirus news, New York City and other parts of the Northeast have reported an uptick in cases as the Omicron subvariant BA.2 spreads. One genomics firm estimates BA.2 now represents between 50% to 70% of all U.S. cases, though many health experts say they do not expect a major surge. New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the city’s mask mandate for children under 5 will be dropped on April 4 if officials deem case numbers remain low enough. This comes as the Biden administration said this week it does not have sufficient funds to purchase a fourth vaccine dose for all U.S. residents, if called for, and urged lawmakers to pass a stalled $15 billion funding package.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has tested positive for the coronavirus for the second time in five months. Hillary Clinton also announced she has COVID and is experiencing mild cold symptoms.

28 Million People in Eastern African Nations at Risk of Famine

Mar 23, 2022

Oxfam International is warning 28 million people in eastern Africa are at risk of famine as the region remains in the throes of an “unfolding full-scale catastrophe.” A historic years-long drought, coupled with conflict, has decimated agriculture in the Horn of Africa and caused massive displacement. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also threatened the region’s wheat imports, diverted international assistance and triggered global spikes in the cost of food, energy and fertilizer. Click here to see our conversation with Raj Patel on how the Ukraine war will affect world hunger.

Guatemalan Anti-Corruption Judge Goes into Exile

Mar 23, 2022

One of Guatemala’s most high-profile judges fighting against corruption has resigned and fled the country fearing for her life. Judge Erika Aifán presided over several corruption cases involving high-level Guatemalan officials, including Guatemala’s president. Aifán had reportedly learned from a colleague that Guatemala’s Supreme Court planned to strip her of her judicial immunity, putting her at risk of being detained. She’s now in exile in the United States.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton Met with Anti-Colonial Protests in Jamaica, Belize

Mar 23, 2022

In Jamaica, pressure is building to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state. As Prince William and Kate Middleton toured the Caribbean this week, a coalition of Jamaican politicians, business leaders and others wrote the royals a letter, accusing the queen of perpetuating slavery, and urging the British monarchy for reparations and to apologize for the destruction caused by colonialism. The royals’ visit to the capital Kingston Tuesday was met with protests. This is a Jamaican human rights activist.

Kay Osborne: “It is an insult to us for these young people to be here to try to persuade us to keep the status quo in place, when our goal is to loosen and remove the hands, the gloved hands, of the queen from around our necks so that we can breathe.”

Earlier on their Caribbean trip, Prince William and Kate were forced to cancel a visit to a cocoa farm in Belize amid protests over Indigenous rights and colonialism.

Warren and Khanna Unveil Bill to Protect Water from Corporations

Mar 23, 2022

Back in the United States, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressmember Ro Khanna have introduced a bill that would block large corporations from profiting off water and water rights. The legislation, known as the Future of Water Act, was introduced Tuesday on World Water Day and comes as drought conditions, triggered by the climate crisis, are worsening across the U.S. and the world. Meanwhile, in El Salvador, protesters on Tuesday called for the repeal of a water law passed last year that critics say allows corporations to control the country’s water resources.

Tornadoes Kill 2 in Texas and Louisiana as Authorities Issue More Warnings in Southern States

Mar 23, 2022

In Louisiana, at least one person is dead after a large tornado, triggered by a series of severe thunderstorms in the South, hit New Orleans Tuesday night. Power outages and severe damage were reported in communities also devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, including the Lower Ninth Ward. On Monday, at least 20 tornadoes tore through parts of Texas and Oklahoma. In Texas, at least one person was killed. Tornado warnings were issued in Mississippi and Alabama.

Seattle Starbucks Votes to Unionize; California Chevron Workers Go on Strike

Mar 23, 2022

Workers at a Seattle Starbucks unanimously voted to unionize Tuesday. It’s the first unionized shop in the coffee chain’s hometown and is just a 10-minute drive from Starbucks’ Seattle headquarters. Senator Bernie Sanders recently called on returning Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to end the company’s “massive union-busting campaign.”

In other labor news, over 500 Chevron employees in Richmond, California, are on strike after failing to agree on a contract that would provide safer working conditions, better wages and benefits. Chevron posted $15.6 billion in profits last year.

Workers Walk Out to Protest Disney’s Response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

Mar 23, 2022

In Southern California, Disney employees staged in-person and virtual walkouts Tuesday to protest the company’s response to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, which bans discussions of sexuality and gender identity in schools. Disney CEO Bob Chapek initially refused to condemn the bill and donated to politicians who back the anti-LGBTQ measure. This is a Disney worker.

Zach: “I feel like everything that’s happening right now with Disney could have really huge ripple effects not only for the company but also the entertainment industry as a whole. … So I just came here to show solidarity and hopefully get more representation, not only in front of the camera but behind the camera and in the upper echelons of leadership, as well.”

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