The United Nations says more than 4 million refugees have now fled Ukraine as Russia’s invasion nears its sixth week. On Tuesday, Russia announced plans to “fundamentally” cut back military operations near Kyiv and the city of Chernihiv, but the claim was greeted by deep skepticism from Ukraine. Officials in Chernihiv say Russian forces carried out strikes throughout the night, while air raid sirens repeatedly went off in Kyiv. On Tuesday, at least 12 people died and 33 were injured in the southern city of Mykolaiv after a Russian rocket hit a government building, leaving a gaping hole in the nine-story structure. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has accused Russia of using banned anti-personnel landmines in the eastern Kharkiv region. This comes as the outlines of a possible peace deal have emerged from talks in Turkey. Ukraine has offered to become a neutral country and remain nuclear-free in exchange for security guarantees. But Ukrainian officials said a deal could only be reached once Russia withdraws its forces.
David Arakhamia: “So, in order for this agreement to be valid and for all sides to agree on it, there has to be full peace on Ukraine’s territory, no foreign troops. All have to leave.”
CNN is reporting U.S. troops in Poland are providing weapons instruction to Ukrainian soldiers as the Biden administration continues to funnel anti-tank missiles, machine guns, grenade launchers and drones into Ukraine. President Biden hinted at the training efforts on Monday.
President Joe Biden: “We’re talking about helping train the troops in — that are the Ukrainian troops that are in Poland.”
A top U.N. official in Ukraine is calling for a probe into Ukrainian and Russian forces mistreating prisoners of war. One widely circulated video appears to show Ukrainian soldiers shooting three hooded Russians in their legs. The video also shows Ukrainian soldiers kicking and hitting the captive Russians, some of whom are bleeding.
In other news, the CDC and FDA have given approval for a second COVID-19 booster shot for all adults in the United States 50 and older. The FDA also OK’d a second booster for many younger people who have certain immune deficiencies.
On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee held its first hearing on Medicare for All since the start of the pandemic. Speakers included the lawyer and healthcare activist Ady Barkan, who was diagnosed with terminal ALS in 2016. He testified from his home using a computerized system that tracks his eye movements and turns them into spoken words.
Ady Barkan: “It’s shameful that in the richest country in the world, we choose to inflict so much suffering. Since that first hearing about Medicare for All, our country has been through the worst public health crisis in a century. The pandemic has revealed and exacerbated the existing inequalities in our profit-driven healthcare system. It has hit hardest on disabled people, poor people, Black, Latino and Indigenous people, and especially people who live at the intersections of these categories. And one out of three COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are related to gaps in health insurance. Nearly a million Americans have already died from the coronavirus. How much more is necessary to shock our legislators into action?”
In international news, eight United Nations peacekeepers died Tuesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo after their helicopter crashed. The Congolese Army accused the rebel group M23 of shooting down the helicopter. This comes as the U.N. reports nearly 2,300 civilians have been killed in the first three months of the year in eastern Congo.
In news from Afghanistan, the World Bank has suspended four projects worth $600 million after the Taliban announced public high schools will remain closed to girls. In recent days the Taliban has issued a number of new rules. Women have been barred from flying without a male chaperone. Men and women will no longer be allowed in public parks on the same day. And all male government workers must grow beards or risk being fired.
Israeli authorities say a Palestinian man from the occupied West Bank shot dead five people in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak outside of Tel Aviv on Tuesday before he was fatally shot. It was the third deadly attack inside Israel over the past week. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Tuesday’s attack, saying, “The cycle of violence confirms that a comprehensive, just and stable peace is the shortest, most correct path to security and stability for both peoples.”
In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele says authorities have arrested over 2,000 people since a state of emergency was imposed following a violent weekend. Police say they are targeting suspected members of gangs by cordoning off entire neighborhoods and conducting house-by-house searches. Human Rights Watch has expressed concern about the crackdown, saying, “Instead of protecting Salvadorans, this broad state of emergency is a recipe for disaster that puts their rights at risk.”
A federal jury in Colorado has awarded $14 million to 12 people who were injured by Denver police during protests in 2020 calling for racial justice following the police killing of George Floyd. The plaintiffs included a man who suffered a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain after police shot him in the head with a projectile.
President Biden has signed into law a bill to make lynching a federal hate crime. The legislation was named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black teenager who was brutally abducted, tortured and killed in Mississippi in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in a store. Speakers at Tuesday’s bill signing included Michelle Duster, the great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells, the legendary anti-lynching journalist.
Michelle Duster: “Since my great-grandmother’s visit to the White House 124 years ago, there have been over 200 attempts to get legislation enacted. … But we finally stand here today, generations later, to witness this historic moment of President Biden signing the Emmett Till anti-lynching bill into law.”
On Tuesday, the United Nations marked the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of The New York Times’s groundbreaking 1619 Project, addressed the U.N. General Assembly.
Nikole Hannah-Jones: “It is time for the nations that engaged in and profited from the transatlantic slave trade to do what is right and what is just. It is time for them to make reparations to the descendants of chattel slavery in the Americas. This is our global truth, the truth we as human beings understand with stark clarity. There can be no atonement if there’s no repair.”
California is moving ahead with its plan to become the first state to offer reparations. On Tuesday, a state task force voted to limit reparations to the descendants of free and enslaved Black people who were in the United States in the 19th century. By a 5-4 vote, the task force rejected calls to offer reparations to all Black people regardless of when they came to the country.
The prominent Indian journalist Rana Ayyub was blocked Tuesday from flying out of Mumbai. She was scheduled to fly to London to give a speech about the intimidation of women journalists. Ayyub has faced severe repercussions for openly criticizing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including the freezing of her bank account.
YouTube has deleted the entire archive of “On Contact,” an Emmy-nominated television show hosted by Chris Hedges. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist hosted the show for six years on RT America, a news channel funded by the Russian government that recently closed down. In a new article, Hedges writes, “If this happens to me, it can happen to you, to any critic anywhere who challenges the dominant narrative.”
Workers at the publishing giant Condé Nast are unionizing with the NewsGuild of New York. The new Condé Nast Union will represent over 500 workers at Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Bon Appétit and other publications. In other labor news, workers at a Starbucks in Knoxville, Tennessee, have narrowly voted to become the first unionized Starbucks in the South. The company is disputing one ballot, in a move that could alter the election result.
In sports news, a deal has been approved by New York officials to spend a record-breaking $850 million in public subsidies to help the Buffalo Bills build a new football stadium. The deal includes $600 million from the state of New York and $250 million from Erie County. The Buffalo Bills are owned by the family of multibillionaire Terry Pegula, who made his fortune in the fracking industry. New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s husband could benefit from the deal: He is a top executive for the hospitality firm which sells concessions at Bills games.
The longtime activist Robert Rabin has died in Puerto Rico. He was a founding member of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques. He spent six months in prison for participating in the mass civil disobedience campaign that helped pressure the U.S. Navy to end its bombing exercises in Vieques, a separate island eight miles east of Puerto Rico and a municipality of the commonwealth. Rabin spoke to Democracy Now! in 2013.
Robert Rabin: “The people of Vieques and the Puerto Rican nation, in the archipelago and in the diaspora, with help from thousands of people throughout the world, peace-loving people, without firing a single shot, defeated the most powerful military force in history. But 10 years later, we continue to suffer the effects of the toxic legacy — highest cancer case rates in all of Puerto Rico.”
Robert Rabin died on Monday from cancer.