Emmanuel Macron has been reelected president of France, defeating his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. Macron won about 58% of the vote in Sunday’s election. About 41% of voters backed Le Pen — an 8% increase over her vote count five years ago. Nearly 28% of French voters abstained. Many French voters opposed both candidates.
Caroline Coste: “I won’t be voting in this round, especially not for Macron, not Macron because he’s damaged the people too much and he only thinks about the rich. And in the second round, I’m not going to vote. I’ve come to do my shopping, and that’s more important than voting for Macron or Le Pen. That’s obvious.”
Fighting continued in Ukraine over the weekend despite calls for a truce to mark Orthodox Easter. In the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, at least eight people died in a reported Russian military strike on an apartment building. Earlier today, Russia bombed five train stations in western Ukraine. Russia is also continuing to bombard a steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are holed up. On Sunday, an Orthodox Ukrainian priest condemned the ongoing violence.
Father Feodosiy: “They are attacking. Unfortunately, as we were finishing our Easter Mass, we suddenly heard air raid sirens. It is tragic that people who call themselves Christians allow themselves to do such things. They don’t even stop on the biggest celebration in the world: the resurrection of Christ.”
In Russia, a huge fire erupted earlier today at an oil storage facility in the city of Bryansk about 60 miles north of Russia’s border with Ukraine. It is unclear what caused the blaze. Last month two Ukrainian helicopter gunships hit a Russian oil reservoir near the border, causing another fire.
Global military spending topped $2 trillion for the first time ever in 2021. That’s according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The United States spent over $800 billion — that’s more than the combined spending of the next nine nations, most of whom are U.S. allies. The report also shows the United States spent more than two-and-a-half times what China spent on its military and more than 10 times what Russia spent. The report also noted that nuclear-related spending was among the U.S. military budget items that saw the largest increases in 2021.
COVID vaccines could have saved the lives of 234,000 unvaccinated Americans who have died since last June, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The study suggests nearly a quarter of all COVID deaths in the United States could have been prevented if more people chose to get vaccinated.
In Washington, D.C., a gunman fired more than 100 shots at the private Edmund Burke School on Friday. Four people were injured. Police said the 23-year-old suspected shooter had a “sniper-type setup” in a nearby apartment. The gunman later shot himself. In related news, new research shows gun violence has become the leading cause of death for U.S. children and teenagers for the first time — surpassing car accidents.
Officials in northern Arizona have lifted evacuation orders for neighborhoods threatened by the Tunnel Fire but warn the conflagration remains largely uncontained. The fire has scorched more than 21,000 acres north of Flagstaff. It’s one of nearly two dozen wildfires in Arizona, Nebraska and New Mexico that have burned 150,000 acres and forced thousands to evacuate their homes in April, well ahead of the normal fire season.
In Pakistan, millions of people have faced blackouts of up to 14 hours a day during the holy month of Ramadan as a sizzling heat wave brought a surge of demand for electricity. This comes after India reported it experienced its hottest month of March in more than a century of record keeping. Extreme weather has taken a toll on India’s crop yields, with some states reporting a drop in wheat production by as much as 35% this year.
Climate activists around the world marked Earth Day on Friday with a series of protests demanding a rapid end to the burning of fossil fuels. Here in New York, police arrested 13 Extinction Rebellion activists who chained themselves together outside a New York Times distribution hub in Queens, delaying delivery trucks for several hours Friday morning. In London, protesters with Extinction Rebellion lit flares and staged street theater outside the London office of the asset management firm Vanguard, a major investor in coal, oil and gas. This is protester Aidan Knox.
Aidan Knox: “Vanguard is the world’s second-largest asset manager, managing over $8 trillion. And subsequently, it’s also the largest coal investor in the world at over $82 billion. And overall, in fossil fuels, it’s at over $300 billion.”
President Biden marked Earth Day in the Pacific Northwest, where he signed an executive order protecting old-growth forests on federal lands.
A Colorado man has died after setting himself on fire on Earth Day in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Wynn Bruce was a 50-year-old Buddhist who lived in Boulder, Colorado. His friend, the climate scientist and Buddhist monk Kritee Kanko, wrote on Twitter, “This act is not suicide. This is a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to climate crisis.”
Two men with ties to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon have pleaded guilty and admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors who supported their plan to privately build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Bannon had also been charged in the fraud case but was pardoned by Donald Trump last year. A fourth man connected to the group We Build the Wall is scheduled to go on trial next month.
Florida’s Republican Govenor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill to rescind Disney World’s self-governing status, in what is widely seen as retaliation for Disney’s opposition to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. DeSantis signed the bill on Friday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis: “We believe an important component of freedom in the state of Florida is the freedom from having oppressive ideologies opposed upon you without your consent, whether it be in the classroom or whether it be in the workplace, and we decided to do something about it.”
In labor news, workers at a Starbucks coffee roastery in Seattle have voted to join Workers United, in the latest victory for union organizers at the coffee giant. Workers at more than 220 Starbucks stores nationwide have petitioned for union elections, and so far 28 locations have voted to unionize.
Here in New York, about 1,500 Amazon workers in Staten Island begin voting today on whether to join the Amazon Labor Union. On April 1, workers at an adjacent warehouse voted to form the first-ever unionized Amazon workplace in the United States. Progressive lawmakers including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders joined a union rally on Sunday, ahead of today’s vote. This is New York Democratic Socialist Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “If you can go to space, you can give our workers a bathroom break. Ain’t that right? If you can go to space, you can make sure that you’re treating people well and giving them solid healthcare benefits, that they don’t have a three-hour commute to and from work, that they can afford the house that they can live in, that people don’t have to be sleeping in their cars in order to work for Amazon. All of this is an indignity and an injustice, and that has no place in New York City. And we’re going to change that, and right here our workers out here are going to change that.”
In Nigeria, at least 109 people have died after a massive explosion Friday at an illegal oil refinery in southeastern Nigeria. It is unclear what sparked the explosion. In other news from Nigeria, the U.S. State Department has approved the sale of 12 high-tech attack helicopters to Nigeria in a deal worth about $1 billion. The deal had been delayed by lawmakers over human rights concerns.
In Sudan, the United Nations has received reports that between 150 and 200 people have died in western Darfur after a group of armed men attacked the village of Kreinik on Sunday. Thousands of people were displaced, and homes and shops were burned down. One group, the General Coordination for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur, put the death toll at 168.
The Biden administration has threatened the Solomon Islands it will “respond accordingly” if China develops a military presence in the Pacific state. Last week the Solomon Islands signed a security deal with China, sparking criticism from the United States, Australia and New Zealand. On Friday, the Biden administration sent a delegation to meet the prime minister of the Solomon Islands. In a statement Friday, the White House said, “If steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation, the delegation noted that the United States would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly.” Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also said that a Chinese military base on Solomon Islands would be a “red line” for Australia.
In Mexico City, hundreds of people took to the streets Sunday to protest femicides and violence against women, following the death of Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old law student who disappeared on April 9. Her body was found last week inside a water tank at a motel in the northern state of Nuevo León. Protesters called for justice for other women who have disappeared.
Liber Viridiana: “I have had friends who have gone missing, who have been raped, and nothing has been done about it. Specific cases have drawn attention from authorities, but this is a reality that has exceeded, because this is something that has been going on for many years.”
The ruling far-right party in Slovenia suffered a defeat in parliamentary elections Sunday. The newly formed environmentalist Freedom Movement party placed first, winning about 34% of the vote.
In U.S. voting news, a prosecutor in Memphis has dropped all charges against Pamela Moses, a Black Lives Matter activist who had been sentenced to six years in prison for trying to register to vote, not knowing she was ineligible due to a felony conviction. Moses had already served 82 days in jail.
The Washington Post has revealed Donald Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows recently broke voting laws by being simultaneously registered to vote in three states: Virginia and the two Carolinas. Meadows was recently removed from the rolls in North Carolina as part of an investigation into whether he committed voter fraud. Meadows now works with the Conservative Partnership Institute, which promotes so-called election integrity.
The funeral for Patrick Lyoya was held on Friday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On April 13, the 26-year-old Congolese refugee was shot in the head by a white Grand Rapids police officer. During the funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton called on the police department to release the name of the officer who shot Lyoya.
Rev. Al Sharpton: “Every time we are suspected of something, you put our name out there. How dare you hold the name of a man that killed this man? We want his name!”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump also spoke at Patrick Lyoya’s funeral.
Benjamin Crump: “See, you must understand that this is not just a legal issue. This is not just a civil rights issue. But truly, Peter, this is a human rights issue. Because world leaders can’t condemn Russian soldiers shooting unarmed citizens in the back of the head in the Ukraine but then refuse to condemn police officers shooting unarmed Black citizens here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If it’s wrong that you do it in the Ukraine, then it’s wrong that you do it in Grand Rapids.”