Russia’s military says it captured more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines defending the besieged city of Mariupol after they surrendered on Wednesday. Videos broadcast on Russian state TV appear to show Ukrainian soldiers marching with their hands up. Ukrainian officials have not verified Russia’s claim of a mass surrender. Russian troops have moved into the city center of Mariupol, where some 100,000 civilians remain trapped, with no power, water, telephone or internet access, and dwindling supplies of food and medicine. This is Valentina, an elderly Mariupol resident who’s survived weeks of heavy assaults.
Valentina Pletnyova: “Why are they killing us? Why are they destroying us? Why do this to our houses? Three 10-story buildings were burnt completely. People are sitting in the basement. There is no sewer there. Plastic tubes started burning. One bay of the 10-story building crumbled. Nineteen people dead.”
On Thursday, Mariupol’s mayor accused Russian troops of bringing mobile crematoria to the city to burn the bodies of civilians killed during Russia’s assault. Meanwhile, Russia’s Black Sea naval flagship has been heavily damaged in an explosion. Russia claims a fire aboard the vessel caused ammunition to explode, while Ukraine says it launched a successful missile attack on the ship.
On Thursday, the Biden administration authorized another $800 million in new military aid to Ukraine, including howitzers and armored personnel carriers.
The head of the World Health Organization says the world is failing to treat humanitarian crises in countries like Ethiopia and Yemen with the same concern provided to the people of Ukraine. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke during Wednesday’s weekly WHO press briefing in Geneva.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “All attention to Ukraine is very important, of course, because it impacts the whole world. But even a fraction of it is not being given to Tigray, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and the rest. A fraction. And I need to be blunt and honest that the world is not treating the human race same way.”
Dr. Tedros, who is originally from Ethiopia, said a three-week-old humanitarian ceasefire in the country’s Tigray region has failed to prevent widespread hunger and starvation. He said some 2,000 trucks were needed to supply millions in the region with food and medicine, but that only about 20 trucks have so far arrived.
In South Africa, the death toll from heavy flooding around the city of Durban has risen to more than 300 in what South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa called a “catastrophe of enormous proportions” and a “part of climate change.” The disaster struck as parts of KwaZulu-Natal province received several months’ worth of rain in a single day, triggering landslides that trapped people under buildings and floodwaters that swept away bridges and houses. This is a Durban resident who managed to save his children but lost all his possessions to the floods.
Jomba Phiri: “I got nowhere to go now. I got no house. I got no nothing. … The situation is very, very bad. I don’t know where we’re going to go to sleep now.”
In Britain, more than two dozen scientists used superglue to attach research papers and their own hands to the windows of a government building in London on Wednesday, the latest in a series of climate protests led by scientists and the group Extinction Rebellion. The protest at the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy came after the United Nations warned countries must rapidly curb their use of fossil fuels to prevent average global temperatures from increasing by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is Cardiff University ecologist, Dr. Aaron Thierry.
Aaron Thierry: “I’m having to do this because our government is basically ignoring all the evidence. And we have tried all the rational, normal, evidence-based policy approaches, and they’re just not acting according to it. The government is insane, and I don’t know what else to do, other than to do this to try and get the attention that we need, to wake the public up.”
In another protest, Extinction Rebellion activists occupied the Shell Oil Company’s London headquarters on Thursday, supergluing themselves to the building’s entrances and reception desk to demand a meeting with Shell’s CEO. Last week, the U.K. government unveiled a new energy strategy that calls for more North Sea oil and gas development and a larger role for nuclear power. The U.K. is also considering ending a moratorium on fracking that’s been in place since 2019.
In New York, a massive manhunt ended Wednesday when authorities arrested a 62-year-old man who is accused of shooting 10 passengers on a subway car in Brooklyn. At least 13 other people were injured in the attack, which began after the gunman released two smoke grenades in a crowded train during morning rush hour on Tuesday. The suspect, Frank James, was arrested shortly after calling a police tip line saying he was in a McDonald’s restaurant in Manhattan. Federal authorities have charged the 62-year-old man with carrying out a terrorist attack on a mass transit system. If convicted, he could face life in prison. Police have not yet established a motive for the attack. In a video posted online, James described himself as someone who was once locked up for mental health issues.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended a mask mandate for all public transit passengers through May 3. The Biden administration has come under increasing pressure from Republicans, airline executives and business leaders who want to allow the mask mandate to expire. On Thursday, the Biden administration formally extended the U.S. coronavirus public health emergency for another 90 days. Despite the declaration, many people without health insurance report they’re being charged $100 or more for coronavirus tests, and may face hospital bills for COVID treatment, after Congress allowed emergency pandemic aid to lapse.
Kentucky’s Republican-led Legislature has voted to effectively outlaw abortion. On Wednesday, Kentucky’s General Assembly voted to override Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of a bill that bans distribution of abortion pills by mail and creates onerous requirements for clinics, that reproductive rights groups say will make it impossible to access abortion services in Kentucky. The law has no exceptions for people who become pregnant by rape or incest. Separately, Kentucky Republicans overrode Governor Beshear’s veto of a bill that bans trans girls from girls’ athletics in public schools.
In Michigan, the Grand Rapids Police Department has released video showing the fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old Black man killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop last week. Lyoya died after the officer, who has not been named, wrestled him to the ground, kicked and hit him, attempted to electrocute him with a Taser and pinned him on his stomach, before pulling his pistol and firing a single round into Lyoya’s head. Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Lyoya’s family, said the video shows unnecessary and excessive force, and he called for the officer to be fired and prosecuted. Police have said the officer will not be publicly identified unless prosecutors bring criminal charges. Ahead of the video’s release, activists took their protests to Tuesday night’s meeting of the Grand Rapids City Commission, demanding all the officers involved in Lyoya’s killing be named and held accountable.
Activist: “I am ashamed. I am humiliated. The shame that this city, my only home, brought death to this young man who came here with dreams for a future. You, too, should be ashamed. You should be weeping. You should want to turn loose all associations with the city government, the sham of a city government, because you’re supposed to preserve and improve the life of the residents of this place, and instead, the folks who are obligated and are under your responsibility allowed for the extinguishing of a life instead. You share the blame. The blood is on your hands, too.”
Lyoya comes from a family of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo who moved to the United States in 2014. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has promised state police will conduct an independent investigation into his killing.
The Justice Department has agreed to settle four cases brought by Black Lives Matter activists who were brutally cleared from a peaceful protest outside the White House just days after the murder of George Floyd. On June 1, 2020, police beat and tear-gassed peaceful protesters gathered in Lafayette Park after then-Attorney General William Barr ordered police to clear a path for President Trump to walk to the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church for an infamous photo op holding a Bible. As part of a settlement announced Wednesday, the U.S. Park Police will update policies requiring that officers wear visible identifiers, and will require officers to attempt deescalation tactics before any moves to deploy so-called less lethal weapons.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is facing mounting criticism over his new policy ordering state authorities to inspect commercial vehicles crossing the state’s border with Mexico after the vehicles have already been checked by federal inspectors. Abbott’s plan for so-called enhanced inspections has caused massive gridlock at the border, delaying shipments of food and other products. The governor of Mexico’s Chihuahua state said the delays harmed the economies of both countries.
Gov. María Eugenia Campos: “Texas receives more than 3 million cargo trucks each year from Mexico. The delay in deliveries represents millions in losses in both perishable foods and serious damage to the supply chain for the U.S. and Mexican industries.”
On Wednesday, Governor Abbott said he would ease inspections at one border crossing after Mexican officials agreed to increase border security. Meanwhile, in a political stunt, Abbott bused about three dozen asylum seekers from Texas to Washington, D.C. The migrants were dropped off Wednesday near the headquarters of Fox News, which had live cameras on the scene to cover their arrival. One immigrant rights advocate described the governor’s actions as “deliberate cruelty that treats human beings like pawns.”
In breaking news, Elon Musk has made a $43 billion bid to buy the social media giant Twitter. Earlier this month, Musk disclosed he’d taken a more than 9% share in Twitter, but this latest bid would make Twitter a private company with Musk as its owner. Elon Musk is the world’s richest person, with a net worth estimated at $265 billion.