In Afghanistan, officials say at least 1,000 people have died, while some 1,500 have been injured, after a powerful earthquake early Wednesday. The epicenter of the quake was about 30 miles from the city of Khost near the Pakistan border. Aftershocks were felt as far away as Kabul. Survivors described seeing numerous homes destroyed.
Faisal: “It was about midnight when the quake struck. It destroyed the houses of our neighbors. When we arrived, there were many dead and wounded. They sent us to the hospital. I also saw many dead bodies.”
The earthquake comes at a time when Afghanistan is already facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian and economic crises. A recent report by the Red Cross found 70% of Afghan households are unable to meet basic food needs, and an estimated 3 million Afghan children are at risk of malnutrition.
The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has accused Donald Trump of playing a “direct and personal role” in pressuring state and local officials to help overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. This is the committee’s chair, Bennie Thompson.
Rep. Bennie Thompson: “What happened to Mike Pence wasn’t an isolated part of Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the election. In fact, pressuring public servants into betraying their oath was a fundamental part of the playbook.”
Part of Trump’s plan involved states sending fake slates of electors to be counted on January 6. The committee revealed Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson took part in the plot. On January 6, an aide to Johnson texted an aide to then-Vice President Mike Pence saying that Johnson wanted to hand Pence “alternate slates of electors” from Wisconsin and Michigan. Pence’s aide responded by writing, “Do not give that to him.” We will air highlights from Tuesday’s hearing after headlines.
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have captured several settlements near Lysychansk and Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine as Russia moves closer to seizing all of the Luhansk region. Meanwhile, at least 15 civilians have reportedly died in the Kharkiv region since Tuesday as Russia intensifies its shelling of the area.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced trip to Ukraine Tuesday. He announced the formation of a “war crimes accountability team.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland: “The United States is sending an unmistakable message: There is no place to hide. We will — we and our partners will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable.”
The wife of basketball superstar Brittney Griner says she has “zero trust” in the U.S. government after it botched a plan to have the couple speak on Saturday for the first time since Brittney Griner was detained by Russia in February. Brittney Griner tried calling 11 times on Saturday but could not reach her wife on what was their fourth anniversary. The plan was for the call to go through the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, but no one was working on Saturday to connect the call. Brittney’s wife Cherelle Griner told the Associated Press, “I find it unacceptable, and I have zero trust in our government right now. If I can’t trust you to catch a Saturday call outside of business hours, how can I trust you to actually be negotiating on my wife’s behalf to come home?”
The U.S. Senate has voted 64 to 34 to advance a new bipartisan gun safety bill based on an agreement reached by 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans. The bill includes enhanced background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21, and it closes the so-called boyfriend loophole. The Senate bill, however, does not include a number of gun control initiatives that were included in a recent bill approved by House Democrats which aimed to ban the sale of large-capacity magazines and raise the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21.
“An abject failure” — that’s how the head of the Texas state police has described the response of local authorities to last month’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, when an 18-year-old gunman shot dead 19 fourth graders and two teachers. Colonel Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, made the comment on Tuesday.
Col. Steven McCraw: “There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre. Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject. The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
Police had said they needed time to get a key to open the classroom’s locked door, but McCraw said the door was not locked and that no officer even checked to see if it was. McCraw also revealed one Uvalde police officer, who was inside the school, was detained while trying to save his wife, Eva Mireles, one of the two teachers shot dead. Ruben Ruiz was detained and had his gun taken away after he moved to approach the classroom where his wife was shot.
Primaries were held in Alabama, Virginia, Georgia and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. In Alabama, Katie Britt defeated Congressmember Mo Brooks in the Republican Senate primary to replace the retiring Senator Richard Shelby. Donald Trump had initially endorsed Brooks, who had helped organize the Stop the Steal rally where Trump spoke just prior to the January 6 insurrection. But Trump later withdrew his endorsement and backed Britt after Brooks told a crowd to put the 2020 election behind them.
In election news from Texas, a recount has confirmed Henry Cuellar — one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress — has defeated progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros in last month’s House primary. Cuellar won by just under 300 votes. Cuellar is a corporate-backed, anti-choice, pro-gun Democrat who received backing from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in the Democratic establishment. In January, the FBI raided his home as part of a corruption investigation. Cuellar’s campaign also got a major boost from AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The group’s super PAC spent over $1.8 million to get Cuellar reelected.
The Supreme Court has issued a significant ruling on the separation of church and state. The court’s six conservative justices ruled private religious schools in the state of Maine cannot be excluded from a program where the state pays tuition for some students attending private schools. Justice Sonia Sotomayor disagreed with the majority, writing, “Today, the Court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation.”
The Democratic Republic of Congo is preparing to soon hold three days of national mourning for slain independence leader Patrice Lumumba, who was assassinated in 1961. On Monday, Belgium, the former colonial power, handed over a tooth that a Belgian police officer said he took as a trophy after he helped cut up Lumumba’s body and then dissolved it in acid. The tooth is believed to be the only remains left of Lumumba, who was killed a year after he became the first elected prime minister of the Congo in 1960. The CIA had ordered his assassination but could not complete the job. Instead, the United States and Belgium covertly funneled cash and aid to rival politicians who seized power and killed Lumumba. A coffin holding Lumumba’s tooth is expected to fly from Brussels to Kinshasa today. Lumumba’s son Roland spoke on Tuesday.
Roland Lumumba: “In order for a soul to rest in peace, it needs to be buried, even if it’s just part of a person’s finger nail or hair, so that the mourning can be completed. And this can be done through this restitution.”
In Ecuador, thousands of Indigenous and social leaders took to the streets of the capital Quito and around the country for a ninth straight day Tuesday protesting right-wing President Guillermo Lasso’s economic policies and rising fuel prices. Reuters reports police fired tear gas and so-called nonlethal projectiles at protesters; at least two people have died, nearly 100 were injured, and dozens were arrested. President Lasso has extended a state of emergency to at least six Ecuadorian provinces. Meanwhile, Indigenous leaders said Tuesday they will not meet with government officials until security forces are withdrawn from certain areas of Quito.
Lawmakers in El Salvador have voted to extend a state of emergency for another 30 days. The decree was first imposed in late March in response to rising homicides attributed to gangs. Since then, Salvadoran authorities have arrested more than 40,000 people. According to Amnesty International, at least 40 people have also died in state custody during that time.
In Brazil, a third suspect in the murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Araújo Pereira was arrested over the weekend. The suspect pointed police to the location of the speedboat in which Phillips and Pereira were traveling before they were killed in early June. The bodies of the two were found buried last week near the banks of a river in the Javari Valley, a remote area of the Brazilian Amazon, where they were shot dead. Meanwhile, Brazil’s vice president said Phillips was “collateral damage” in an attack targeting Pereira.
A jury in California has found comedian Bill Cosby liable for sexually assaulting a woman at the Playboy Mansion in 1975 when she was a teenager. The jury ordered Cosby to pay $500,000. The woman, Judy Huth, says the incident occurred when she was just 16 years old. Huth was represented by the attorney Gloria Allred.
Gloria Allred: “Today our client Judy Huth won real change, because she fought Bill Cosby one step at a time for over seven-and-a-half years, and she proved with the jury’s verdict that Mr. Cosby did sexually assault her when she was a minor and that he should be held and was held accountable for what he did to her.”
Bill Cosby did not attend the civil trial and denied the charges. Eleven months ago, Cosby was released from prison in Pennsylvania after the state’s high court threw out a sexual assault conviction in a different case.