Russia faces growing global outrage as mounting documentary evidence reveals war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine. On Monday, Ukrainian officials said the mayor of the town of Motyzhyn near the capital Kyiv was tortured and summarily executed by Russian soldiers, along with her husband and son. Local residents said the victims’ bodies were discovered bound and blindfolded in a pit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is addressing the United Nations Security Council today as members review allegations that Russian troops intentionally murdered civilians in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv. On Monday, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials said images out of Bucha showing Russian atrocities could be just the “tip of the iceberg.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky: “For now, only in Bucha, it is known that there have been more than 300 people killed and tortured. The number of casualties will probably be much higher when the entire town is checked. And this is only one town, one of many Ukrainian communities which the Russian forces managed to capture.”
Kremlin officials have rejected accusations that Russian soldiers killed civilians in northern Ukraine, saying images of graves and corpses had been manufactured in order to smear Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday U.S. leaders should examine their own consciences before accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes.
Sergey Lavrov: “First of all, what about those many American politicians who originated the Iraq War using well-known pretexts, who also ruined Libya together with NATO partners, who invaded Syria? Not all is well with the conscience of those politicians.”
Lavrov’s comments came as diplomatic ties between Russia and NATO members continued to deteriorate. German officials on Monday declared 40 Russian diplomats “undesirable persons” — effectively expelling them from Germany. France announced a similar move targeting 35 Russian diplomats.
The United States is seeking to have Russia removed from the U.N.’s Human Rights Council. On Monday, President Biden promised to impose additional sanctions on Russia, as he doubled down on his previous statement calling Vladimir Putin a war criminal.
President Joe Biden: “He is a war criminal. But we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight. And we have to gather all the detail so this can be an actual — have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal. And what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it.”
The United Nations warned Monday humanity has less than three years to slash greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half in order to prevent the most catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. In a major new report, scientists with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change find that without immediate and dramatic action, it will be impossible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said the report documented a litany of broken climate promises by nations.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “It is a file of shame, cataloging the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world. We are on a fast track to climate disaster — major cities underwater, unprecedented heat waves, terrifying storms, widespread water shortages, the extinction of a million species of plants and animals. And this is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies.”
The World Health Organization warned Monday that 99% of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds safe limits for air pollution, including fine particulates that can penetrate deep into the lungs. The WHO called on nations to slash fossil fuel use, saying the same pollution that’s triggering the climate emergency is responsible for most of the 7 million premature deaths each year due to indoor and outdoor air pollution.
In Brazil, hundreds of Indigenous leaders arrived in the capital Brasília Monday to begin a 10-day protest camp, demanding lawmakers reject a bill that would allow more mining and oil extraction on Indigenous lands. This is an Indigenous Pataxó leader.
Albiranan: “We are here together with other Indigenous people to fight to defend our people and for equality among our nations, to make it known that we, the Indigenous people, were the first inhabitants of Brazil. And we are here to show Brazil and the world that we are not dead and that we are living history. We are a living book.”
This comes as Brazilian health researchers say malaria cases among Yanomami Indigenous people have skyrocketed over the past decade due to a surge in illegal gold mining in the Amazon. The destructive practice contaminates the soil and rivers with mercury, destroys plants and disrupts the ecosystem, triggering ideal conditions for the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. Despite this, far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to encourage mining in protected areas of the Amazon rainforest.
Iranian officials say the United States is responsible for a delay in talks with world powers aimed at restoring the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, which was abandoned by ex-President Trump. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday talks in Vienna are deadlocked over a few outstanding issues, including Washington’s designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.
Saeed Khatibzadeh: “We are at a point where the United States must decide whether it wants to uphold Trump’s legacy, just as it has done so far, or if it wants to act as a semi-responsible, if not a fully responsible, government and have the agreement happen.”
The U.S. State Department said last week only a small number of outstanding issues remain in the talks, which would lift harsh sanctions in exchange for guarantees that Iran will not pursue nuclear weapons.
More than 90 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea over the weekend after their overcrowded boat capsized. The refugees had departed from Libya last week as they hoped to reach Europe for safety. Only four people survived. The humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders urged for the survivors not to be returned to Libya, where they likely face detention and abuse. Between January and the end of March, some 300 refugees died attempting to cross the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Back in the United States, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has ordered its lawyers to try to close cases that are considered “low priority” according to the agency’s enforcement guidelines. It’s a move that could potentially clear out hundreds of thousands of deportation and asylum cases pending in immigration courts. There’s currently a backlog of some 1.7 million cases. This comes as three states — Missouri, Arizona and Louisiana — have sued the Biden administration over its plan to terminate the contested Title 42 policy in May. Under the Trump-era measure, asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border are quickly expelled without due process or a review of their asylum claims.
The Senate has advanced the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Three Republicans joined all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus in a procedural vote Monday evening that sets up a final vote on Jackson’s confirmation by the end of the week. This comes despite 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voting earlier on Monday against recommending Jackson’s confirmation. Democrat Cory Booker had this response for his Republican colleagues.
Sen. Cory Booker: “How — how qualified do you have to be? Double Harvard. How qualified do you have to be? Clerking at all levels of the federal judiciary. How qualified do you have to be? Three times confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan manner.”
Republican Senators Romney, Murkowski and Collins have joined with their Democratic colleagues in support of the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. The Senate Judiciary debate on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson came on the 54th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If confirmed, Judge Jackson will become the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice.
The 2022 Izzy Award for outstanding achievement in independent media will be shared between the nonprofit newsrooms The City in New York, as well as Chicago’s Better Government Association and Block Club Chicago. The news outlets won for “exposing corruption that harmed low-income residents of those cities.” Independent journalist Jenni Monet is also being recognized for her weekly newsletter “Indigenously: Decolonizing Your Newsfeed.” And the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists won an Izzy for its Pandora Papers investigation exposing how the world’s richest hide their money and avoid paying taxes. The Izzy Award is named for legendary dissident journalist I.F. Stone.
In Washington, D.C., hundreds of protesters led a march to the Education Department for a national day of action Monday demanding the Biden administration cancel all student debt. This is Braxton Brewington, press secretary at the Debt Collective.
Braxton Brewington: “I have tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of student loan debt. My mother has student loan debt. My father has student loan debt. My brother has student loan debt. My sister has student loan debt. My aunts have student loan debt. This is a systemic problem. Black folks are bearing the burden of student debt. Women are bearing the burden of student debt.”
The Debt Collective is demanding President Biden fulfill a campaign promise to cancel student debt before federal student loan payments restart in May. Debt cancellation would give relief to some 45 million borrowers who owe nearly $1.8 trillion in student debt. Astra Taylor, co-director of the Debt Collective, said activists are preparing a nationwide student loan strike if their demands aren’t met.
Astra Taylor: “We can see that our debts are a source of power. Individually, they overwhelm us. But together, we can wield that power as leverage to push for a better system, to fight for the abolition of unjust debts, and the provision of the things that we need to survive, to thrive.”