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HeadlinesMarch 08, 2022

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Ukraine Accuses Russia of Shelling Evacuation Corridor as Civilian Deaths Mount

Mar 08, 2022

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of shelling evacuation routes for civilians seeking to flee the Russian invasion. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry says Russia violated a ceasefire agreement to grant safe passage to civilians in the southern coastal city of Mariupol for a fourth day in a row. Speaking from his office in the capital Kyiv Monday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed Russia for reneging on an agreement for a humanitarian corridor — and for the Kremlin’s offer to evacuate civilians only to Russia and Belarus.

President Volodymyr Zelensky: “They even mined the road that it was agreed would be used to bring in food, medicines for children, for the people of Mariupol. They even destroyed buses that are meant to evacuate people. At the same time, they opened a tiny corridor leading to the occupied territory for a couple dozen people.”

Residents of Mariupol describe a dire humanitarian situation with constant artillery fire and no heat or electricity despite freezing temperatures. Some residents have reportedly been forced to drink from puddles amid shortages of food and water.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, at least 21 people, including two children, were killed in an overnight strike in the northeastern city of Sumy. Another Russian attack killed 13 civilians at an industrial bakery in the town of Makariv west of Kyiv. Four civilians were killed by Russian mortar fire Sunday as they tried to cross a partially destroyed bridge over the Irpin River. Despite the killings, hundreds of civilians continued to make the journey on Monday.

Galya Fedorchuk: “We are from Irpin. There was heavy shelling in Irpin. They fired at houses, people. A woman and a 13-year-old child died. All houses were shelled. A few people left here. It is hard and scary. It is a war. It is fascism. It is genocide against the whole Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine.”

EU Leaders to Discuss Phaseout of Russian Fossil Fuels as Biden Weighs Russian Oil Ban

Mar 08, 2022

The European Union says leaders will meet at a summit this week to discuss ways to phase out the EU’s dependency on Russian fossil fuels as it seeks to punish Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The EU currently imports about half of its coal and gas from Russia, and about a third of its oil. In Washington, D.C., White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday President Biden had not yet reached a decision on whether to ban U.S. imports of Russian oil.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki: “I would note that what the president is most focused on is ensuring we are continuing to take steps to deliver punishing economic consequences on Putin, while taking all action necessary to limit the impact to prices at the gas pump.”

Over the weekend, the Biden administration sent a delegation to Venezuela to explore easing oil sanctions as it searches for new sources of energy to replace Russian fossil fuels.

U.N. Says More Than 2 Million Refugees Have Fled Ukraine

Mar 08, 2022

The United Nations says more than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion less than two weeks ago. It’s the largest and fastest displacement of people in Europe since World War II. More than half of the refugees have crossed into neighboring Poland. This comes as hundreds of members of Ukraine’s minority Roma population — many of whom are undocumented — report they’ve been turned around at border crossings and have faced discrimination while trying to flee Ukraine.

Advocates Demand Rescue of Haitian Refugees Stranded on Desecheo Island

Mar 08, 2022

In Puerto Rico, rights advocates are reporting a group of nine Haitian asylum seekers have been stranded on the island of Desecheo for days without food or water and are in need of urgent medical care. A scuba diving and sailing boat spotted the group over the weekend but was unable to navigate closer to the island, located off the west coast of Puerto Rico, so staff contacted the Coast Guard to rescue the group. Democracy Now! spoke to Catherine Edgerton, an abolition advocate who works with the crew that found the refugees.

Catherine Edgerton: “We saw some people waving a red cloth from the island. And we got closer to see that there were nine people on the beach waiting for assistance. So we called the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard directed us to not approach, to not offer assistance. … When they didn’t show up, we packed up some provisions, water into bags that I could carry, and I swam them in. There were nine people on the island, one of whom was very ill. All of them were very dehydrated and sunburned and quite desperate for help. They had been there for three days. So I swam back to the boat, and we called the Coast Guard again. They assured us that they were on the way. And yeah, we were horrified to see 24 hours go by with no Coast Guard.”

The Coast Guard has now involved Customs and Border Protection. In a statement, CBP told Democracy Now! agents were expected to retrieve the asylum seekers from Desecheo today. Advocates are demanding the asylum seekers be allowed to stay in the United States without the threat of detention or deportation.

U.N. Warns of Worsening Civilian Toll from Conflicts in Ethiopia, Afghanistan

Mar 08, 2022

The United Nations warns conflict in northern Ethiopia has escalated in recent months, with widespread reports of civilian deaths, rapes and other atrocities. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Monday her staff recorded 304 deaths and 373 injuries attributed to the Ethiopian Air Force since November.

Michelle Bachelet: “During this period, Ethiopia’s human rights and security situation deteriorated significantly, in large part due to the extension of the conflict in Tigray to other parts of northern Ethiopia. Our office continued to receive reports of severe and wide-scale human rights violations in the context of expanding conflict in Afar and Amhara regions, as well as in Tigray.”

The U.N. also warned of a deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan, where nearly 400 civilians have been killed in attacks since the Taliban takeover last August.

U.S. Releases Mentally Ill Torture Survivor Held at Guantánamo for 20 Years

Mar 08, 2022

The Biden administration has released a mentally ill torture survivor who was held at the Guantánamo Bay prison for nearly 20 years, most of that time without charge. Mohammed al-Qahtani was diagnosed with schizophrenia long before his capture in Afghanistan in 2001. His condition deteriorated further after he was rendered to Guantánamo in 2002, where he was subjected to 20-hour-per-day interrogations for weeks, in which he suffered physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Al-Qahtani’s lawyer, Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “Mohammed has always belonged in the care of psychiatrists, not in a prison. He survived being tortured and detained at Guantánamo through enormous personal courage, and we are very hopeful that with proper treatment with his family nearby, he will learn to manage his symptoms and salvage the remainder of his life.”

Confirmed Global COVID-19 Death Toll Passes 6 Million

Mar 08, 2022

The number of confirmed deaths from coronavirus has passed 6 million worldwide, two years after the start of the pandemic. Researchers believe the true toll is far higher, with disease modelers at the University of Washington estimating more than 15 million people have died of COVID-19.

Florida Surgeon General Recommends Against COVID Vaccines for Children

Mar 08, 2022

Here in the United States, hospitalizations have fallen far below January’s record highs, but nearly 1,500 people a day continue to die of COVID-19, on average, each day. In Florida, Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo on Monday shrugged off advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children get vaccinated.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo: “The Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children.”

Dr. Ladapo is an anti-mask vaccine skeptic and a proponent of the widely discredited theory of achieving herd immunity through natural infection, which Dr. Anthony Fauci has called “nonsense and very dangerous.” He was appointed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who last week bullied high school students for wearing masks as they stood behind his lectern at a public event.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: “You do not have to wear those masks. I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything, and we’ve got to stop with this COVID theater. So, if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”

DeSantis has refused to apologize, and his campaign is using the incident to raise funds. Meanwhile, the mother of one of the teenagers whom he told to take off his mask is immunocompromised and has spoken out.

“We Say Gay!”: Florida Students Walk Out to Protest Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation

Mar 08, 2022

Elsewhere in Florida, protests continue against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation — known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — that would prohibit discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity at schools. Thousands of students led a massive walkout at Winter Park High School in Orange County yesterday, chanting “We say gay! We say gay!”

Student protesters: “We say gay! We say gay! We say gay! We say gay! We say gay! We say gay!”

Hundreds more students, teachers and allies gathered outside and inside the Florida state Capitol in Tallahassee Monday as the bill is now being considered by the Florida state Senate.

Supreme Court Rejects GOP Bid to Restore Gerrymandered Maps in NC, Pennsylvania

Mar 08, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a bid by North Carolina and Pennsylvania Republicans to restore electoral maps that were struck down by lower courts as illegally gerrymandered. In a 6-3 ruling, justices ruled electoral maps redrawn by courts should be used instead.

U.S. Navy to Shutter Pearl Harbor Fuel Depot That Caused Water Contamination

Mar 08, 2022

In Hawaii, the Defense Department is permanently shutting down the Navy’s Red Hill fuel storage facility on the island of Oahu. Native water protectors and environmentalists have long fought to close the underground fuel storage. Pressure mounted after a petroleum leak contaminated the water supply that serves over 90,000 families around the naval base of Pearl Harbor. The site also threatened the water safety of other communities as it’s located just 100 feet above the primary groundwater aquifer for Honolulu and the rest of Oahu. The Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility has been used since the 1940s to provide fuel to Pearl Harbor.

Protests and Celebrations Mark International Women’s Day

Mar 08, 2022

Thousands of women around the world are taking to the streets to mark International Women’s Day today. Actions took place across Turkey, India, Bangladesh and other regions in recent days. Marches in Pakistan were met with the threat of violence, but women’s rights advocates vowed to move forward with rallies in Islamabad and other cities. In Mexico, activists denounced the growing number of femicides in the country. A blimp was seen flying over Mexico City Monday with the words “10 femicides per day” and “No victim is forgotten.” Meanwhile, Bolivian feminist groups protested in the capital La Paz Monday.

Jimena Aruquipa: “Justice for us all! We have come to demand justice. We have sons and daughters who are crying in our homes, and the judges and prosecutors are not interested in justice. Are you not born of a mother? Do you not have sisters? We only ask for justice!”

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