Ukraine’s government says more than 40,000 civilians have been killed or wounded in fighting since Russia invaded in late February, with some 3 million Ukrainians now living under Russian occupation. On Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were continuing to fight pitched battles in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, but that his troops are outnumbered and losing ground. Meanwhile, bombs and shells continue to rain down on rural communities near the frontlines. One person was killed and another injured in the town of Druzhkivka, where residents woke Sunday to the sound of explosions and shattering glass.
Elena: “You can see for yourself what happened. What else can I say? I have been left homeless in my old age.”
The United Nations is demanding an independent investigation into charges of rape and sexual assault committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Pramila Patten, the U.N.’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, told the Security Council Monday about multiple shocking reports, ranging from gang rape to coercion, where loved ones are forced to watch an act of sexual violence committed against a partner or a child. European Council President Charles Michel condemned the findings.
Charles Michel: “We hear reports of Russian forces wielding sexual violence as a weapon of war. Sexual violence is a war crime, a crime against humanity, a tactic of torture, terror and repression — shameful acts in a shameful war.”
Michel also said Russia was “solely responsible” for triggering a global food crisis by invading Ukraine. The accusations prompted Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. to storm out of the Security Council meeting in protest.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has confirmed he will not attend the Summit of the Americas after the Biden administration excluded the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador: “I am not going to the summit because not all the countries of America are invited. I believe in the need to change the policy imposed for centuries of exclusion, of wanting to dominate without any reason and not respecting each country’s sovereignty and independence. There cannot be a Summit of the Americas if all the American continent countries do not participate.”
The Summit of the Americas opened in Los Angeles Monday; it’s the first time it’s taking place in the United States since 1994. At the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Biden stood by his decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: “We just don’t believe dictators should be invited. And that’s — and so we don’t regret that, and we will stand — the president will stand by his principle.”
President Biden is still planning a trip to Saudi Arabia in July to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In immigration news, a caravan of at least 6,000 people departed from the southern Mexican city of Tapachula Monday hoping to reach the U.S.-Mexico border in search of refuge. Many of the caravan members are from Venezuela and Cuba, two nations that have been deeply affected by U.S. economic sanctions. The caravan coincides with the start of the Summit of the Americas, where leaders plan to discuss migration. This is caravan organizer Luis García Villagrán.
Luis García Villagrán: “We tell the leaders: We are not anyone’s currency. We are not going to wait until the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance decides on our fate in August. Today, we are not going to allow the National Institute for Migration to take until September to give us a solution. Today, the free citizens of Latin America walk out of this immigration prison that our officials are willing to turn Tapachula into.”
In London, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote of no confidence held Monday by members of his own Conservative Party.
Graham Brady: “The vote in favor of having confidence in Boris Johnson as leader was 211 votes, and the vote against was 148 votes. And therefore, I can announce that the parliamentary party does have confidence.”
Johnson faced widespread criticism after Scotland Yard found his government held at least a dozen parties at government buildings, including the prime minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street, during the first year of the pandemic — in violation of Johnson’s COVID lockdown orders. Johnson described Monday’s no-confidence vote as good news for the U.K. Meanwhile, Keir Starmer of the opposition Labour Party reiterated his call for Johnson to resign.
House Democrats are poised to pass new legislation this week that would raise the legal age of purchase for some semiautomatic rifles to 21, promote safe storage of firearms and ban the sale of large-capacity magazines. Those measures appear doomed in the Senate, where they would need the support of at least 10 Republicans to break a filibuster. On Monday, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said GOP senators needed at least another week to nail down a bipartisan deal on gun violence.
This comes amid a steady drumbeat of shootings across the United States. On Monday, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said a weekend mass shooting began when two men licensed to carry firearms traded 17 shots on a street packed with innocent bystanders. Three people were killed, and 11 others were struck by bullets. Krasner called on lawmakers to take action on gun violence immediately.
Larry Krasner: “Any legislator who is not willing to put the lives of innocent bystanders, of women and children and young adults, above their political future belongs out of office. And I don’t care whether they’re Republican or Democrat.”
Here in New York, Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a package of 10 new gun control bills. Hochul said at a signing ceremony Monday the new measures will close loopholes that allowed the Buffalo shooter to evade a red flag law that should have prevented him from purchasing the semiautomatic rifles used in last month’s assault.
Gov. Kathy Hochul: “In New York, we are taking bold, strong action. We’re tightening the red flag laws to keep guns away from dangerous people. And we’re raising the age of semiautomatic weapons so no 18-year-old can walk in on their birthday and walk out with an AR-15. Those days are over.”
Governor Hochul signed the legislation as the U.S. Supreme Court nears a ruling on whether to strike down a 108-year-old New York state law making it difficult for gun owners to get a permit to carry a firearm outside the home. During oral arguments in November, the court’s conservative majority appeared sympathetic to claims that the Second Amendment guarantees people the right to carry a gun for self-defense.
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four other members of the far-right group have been charged with seditious conspiracy over their roles in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Tarrio already faced charges of obstructing Congress, destruction of government property and other crimes. This comes just days after Proud Boys member Josh Pruitt pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding. Pruitt and another man were filmed on January 6 approaching Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and his security detail inside the Capitol Visitor Center after forcing their way into the building, prompting Senator Schumer to “run away.”
In Texas, progressive primary challenger Jessica Cisneros has formally requested a recount in her May runoff election with Democratic incumbent Congressmember Henry Cuellar. As of Monday, Cisneros trailed Cuellar by just 187 votes. Cuellar is a corporate-backed, anti-choice, pro-gun Democrat who’s twice declared victory in the race. The FBI raided his home and campaign office in January as part of a corruption investigation. Cisneros said in a statement, “Our movement was never just about the one politician—it was about taking on an unjust system that rewards corruption and corporate profits at the expense of the needs of working people.”
In Brazil, fear is growing over the safety of British journalist Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, a protector of Brazilian Indigenous communities, after the pair went missing in one of the most remote areas of the Amazon early Sunday. Phillips is a longtime freelance reporter for The Guardian and other publications. Pereira is a former Brazilian government official. The two were last seen while traveling by boat in the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas near the border with Peru. Phillips was doing research for a book on the Amazon and was in the region to interview Indigenous leaders patrolling the area for illegal miners and fishers. Pereira had recently received death threats over his work.