Russia’s military says the flagship of its Black Sea fleet — the guided missile cruiser Moskva — sank as it was being towed to port Thursday, forcing some 500 sailors to abandon ship. The loss of the Moskva was reported hours after Ukraine’s military claimed it had successfully attacked the warship with cruise missiles. Russia contends the ship was damaged after a fire caused ammunition onboard to explode.
This comes as The Washington Post is reporting the Russian government has formally warned the Biden administration to stop arming Ukraine, claiming it was “adding fuel” to the conflict. Russia also warned the governments of Finland and Sweden against joining NATO, saying it’s prepared to station more nuclear weapons in the Baltic Sea region in response to further NATO expansion. The threat came as CIA Director William Burns warned the U.S. should not discount the threat of Russia potentially using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine out of desperation.
In occupied East Jerusalem, more than 150 people were injured after Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque shortly after morning prayers on Friday. Witnesses said troops fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and concussion grenades into the holy site’s prayer halls and courtyards.
Rami Al-Khatib: “They brutally emptied the compound. They were attacking the employees, normal people, elders and young people. There were many people injured. They fired rubber bullets inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. They were beating everyone, even the paramedics.”
One local hospital received 40 injured Palestinians, including two in critical condition. Israeli troops rounded up and arrested at least 300 people.
The raid follows a series of attacks by Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel that have killed people inside Israel since March 22. Meanwhile, Israeli raids on West Bank towns and villages have killed 29 Palestinians since March. Among the dead are a 34-year-old Palestinian lawyer who was shot in the chest Wednesday and a 14-year-old boy killed by Israeli troops who accused him of throwing a Molotov cocktail.
Six United States senators have arrived in Taiwan for a surprise visit, prompting an angry response from China. The delegation says it’s planning two days of talks on “U.S.-Taiwan relations” and regional security. New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke after he was welcomed by Taiwan’s president.
Sen. Bob Menendez: “With Taiwan producing 90% of the world’s high-end semiconductor products, it is a country of global significance, of global consequence, of global impact, and therefore it should be understood that the security of Taiwan has a global impact for those who would wish it ill.”
In response, China’s military sent naval ships, bombers and fighter planes to the East China Sea for war games. In a statement, the People’s Liberation Army warned, “U.S. bad actions and tricks are completely futile and very dangerous. Those who play with fire will burn themselves.”
The British government has announced it could soon resettle some asylum seekers to Rwanda as an attempt to deter more people from attempting to reach Britain for refuge. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke Thursday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “This innovative approach, driven by our shared humanitarian impulse and made possible by Brexit freedoms, will provide safe and legal routes for asylum while disrupting the business model of the gangs.”
Human rights groups condemned the plan as “shockingly ill-conceived.” Amnesty International UK said in a statement, “Sending people to another country — let alone one with such a dismal human rights record — for asylum 'processing' is the very height of irresponsibility and shows how far removed from humanity and reality the Government now is on asylum issues.”
In Michigan, the family of Patrick Lyoya is demanding that the white Grand Rapids police officer who killed the 26-year-old Congolese refugee be fired and charged with a crime. City officials have yet to name the officer, who is seen in video pulling his service pistol from a holster and firing a fatal shot into Lyoya’s head after a struggle. Patrick’s father, Peter Lyoya, said through an interpreter that he and his family had escaped war and persecution in the Democratic Republic of Congo only to see Patrick killed “like an animal” by a Michigan police officer.
Peter Lyoya: “My heart is really deeply broken. I didn’t know, I didn’t believe that in this country that there is a genocide in this country. I didn’t know. I didn’t know that here in America there can be an execution style to kill someone.”
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It’s modeled after a Mississippi abortion law that the Supreme Court is currently weighing and which could essentially undo Roe v. Wade. In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice America called Florida’s abortion ban a “shameless step towards what could be a terrifying new future for reproductive freedom in the country.”
A jury in Washington, D.C., has found an Ohio man guilty of felony obstruction of Congress after he joined the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Thirty-eight-year-old Dustin Thompson did not contest charges that he stole a bottle of whiskey and a coat rack from the Senate parliamentarian’s office and ran from a police officer seeking to question him. Thompson’s defense hinged on his claim that he was “following presidential orders” when he was swept up in the Capitol riot. He’s the third January 6 insurrectionist to be found guilty by a jury.
His conviction came as former senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller was questioned for eight hours Thursday by the House committee investigating the January 6 attack. Miller reportedly refused to answer questions about his conversations with Trump, claiming “executive privilege.”
The Republican National Committee has voted to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates. Thursday’s unanimous vote by the RNC came after numerous complaints by ex-President Trump over debate formats and the commission’s choice of moderators. The commission was formed by the Democratic and Republican parties in 1987 and quickly took control of the debates from the nonpartisan League of Women Voters. The commission has allowed just one third-party candidate — Ross Perot — to participate in presidential debates.
A bipartisan group of over 100 Texas lawmakers has joined calls to stop the execution of Melissa Lucio, who is scheduled to die in less than two weeks. Lucio says she was wrongfully convicted of killing her 2-year-old daughter Mariah after a tragic accident in 2007. Attorneys say Lucio faced a lifetime of abuse, was pressured to make a false confession and didn’t get a fair trial. This week, lawmakers asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Lucio clemency after a hearing in which they called on the district attorney to cancel her April 27 execution date. Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz testified that if Lucio does not get a stay, “Then I will do what I have to do and stop it.” Former trial juror Johnny Galvan also testified via his daughter that he opposed Lucio’s execution.
Johnny Galvan Jr.: “The idea that my decision to take another person’s life was not based on complete and accurate information in a fair trial is horrifying.”
Lucio would be the first Latina woman executed by Texas. Next week, the state plans to execute 77-year-old Carl Wayne Buntion, the oldest person on Texas’s death row.
In labor news, workers at two El Milagro tortilla plants in Chicago have won wage increases and other victories after months of fighting for better working conditions. The tortilla manufacturer said it would end a seven-day workweek, but workers are reporting El Milagro has yet to fulfill the demand to be closed on Sundays. El Milagro will now also provide anti-sexual harassment training for managers, air conditioning in the lunch rooms, and has promised to improve its sick days policies. But workers have vowed to keep organizing until El Milagro prioritizes workers’ safety and respect, and agrees to their other demands.
Here in New York City, a coalition of union leaders and workers led a protest Thursday outside the $40 million penthouse of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, denouncing the corporation’s ongoing retaliation and firing of workers fighting to unionize. Among the speakers at the rally were Charles Jenkins, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and Larry Holmes of the Workers Assembly Against Racism.
Charles Jenkins: “We demand the right for not some workers to be unionized like me, but we demand all workers — all workers — have a right to unionize.”
Larry Holmes: “All of your union busting, the Starbucks workers are just getting angrier, just organizing more stores. And if you keep your union busting up, all you’re going to do is wake up a sleeping giant: the working class in this country.”
Despite an aggressive union-busting campaign from Starbucks, thousands of workers at some 220 shops have filed for union elections, including a Starbucks at Mall of America. A total of 22 Starbucks stores have successfully unionized across the country.