Pope Francis has apologized for the abuse of Indigenous children who were separated from their families and sent to church-run residential schools, where they faced psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Pope Francis made the apology Monday in Maskwacis, Alberta, the site of a former residential school.
Pope Francis: “I myself wish to reaffirm this, with shame and unambiguously; humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples.”
The pope’s apology comes seven years after Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission accused church-run residential schools of taking part in a form of “cultural genocide.” The commission also determined that more than 4,000 Indigenous children died from neglect or abuse in residential schools from the late 19th century through the 1940s. Unmarked graves are still being found. We’ll have the latest on the pope’s historic apology tour after headlines.
In Tunisia, President Kais Saied has claimed victory in his bid to gain sweeping new powers after winning a constitutional referendum in an election boycotted by most opposition parties. An exit poll showed over 93% of votes cast were in favor of changing Tunisia’s Constitution to grant the president broad executive power with greater control over the parliament and the judiciary. But turnout in Monday’s election was very low, with fewer than 2 million people casting ballots in a country of over 9 million registered voters. Opposition groups say Saied is bringing authoritarian rule back to Tunisia after an uprising against poverty and corruption swept aside longtime leader Ben Ali in 2011, inspiring Arab Spring protests across North Africa and the Middle East.
In Ukraine, Russia’s military has fired missiles at several targets on the Black Sea coast, including in Mykolaiv and the southern port city of Odessa. The attacks came even as Ukrainian officials said they were just days away from implementing a United Nations-brokered deal to export grain and cooking oil through Black Sea ports in order to help ease global food shortages. In the northern city of Chuhuiv near Kharkiv, rescuers combed through rubble looking for survivors of Russian missile attacks Monday that hit a local school, crushed homes and completely flattened the city’s House of Culture.
Mayor Halyna Minayeva: “We’re here in the very city center, where the House of Culture is located. There were no soldiers here. It’s simply the House of Culture. Now we see what’s left of it. The house is completely in ruins. There is no chance of rebuilding it.”
Russia’s state-controlled energy giant has reduced the flow of gas through its main pipeline to Europe. Gazprom said Monday it would slash gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 20% of normal operating capacity. That prompted the European Union to agree to a deal that grants Brussels the power to compel EU members to slash gas consumption by up to 15%. On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of committing “gas blackmail” against Europe.
In California, at least 3,000 people have been forced to evacuate the fast-moving Oak Fire near Yosemite National Park. As of this morning, the fire had burned nearly 17,000 acres and was just 10% contained. Smoke from the massive blaze triggered air quality alerts in the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of the region.
In the Pacific Northwest, forecasters are warning of a new heat wave that could push temperatures in some areas above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This follows record heat a year ago blamed for the deaths of 800 people across Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia.
On Capitol Hill, six congressional staffers were arrested Monday as they held a nonviolent civil disobedience protest inside the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The staffers are demanding Schumer reopen negotiations on a bill to combat the climate crisis, after West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin blocked Democrats’ latest efforts to pass new funding for green energy programs.
This week, 165+ federal and congressional staffers signed an open letter to President Biden and Chuck Schumer demanding they strip Senator Manchin of his chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They’re also demanding Biden declare a climate emergency and take other urgent actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The letter reads in part, “Even if Democrats control both chambers and the White House again in four years, inaction in this moment will cause an era of record temperatures, extreme drought, sea level rise, and other deadly climate disasters. We do not have years to waste. We have little more than a week.”
President Biden says he’s feeling better after testing positive for COVID-19 and expects to be working in person by the end of the week. Biden gave the update as he continued to work by video link on Monday.
President Joe Biden: “I’m feeling good. My voice is still raspy. I’ve had every morning [coughs] every afternoon — I mean, excuse me, every evening, I get a full-blown series of tests, everything from temperature to oxygen, the oxygen in my blood, to my pulse to — I mean, just across the board. And so far everything is good.”
On Monday, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced they, too, had tested positive for coronavirus. Democrats Tina Smith of Minnesota and Tom Carper of Delaware are also out of the Senate after testing positive last week. Their absences have left Democrats unable to move several pieces of legislation, including a bill protecting the right to marriage equality.
This comes as cases of the BA.5 coronavirus variant continue to rise across the U.S., with some cities, including Los Angeles and Seattle, considering reinstating indoor mask mandates.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting the U.S. has surpassed Spain to become the country with the most known monkeypox infections since an outbreak of the viral disease began earlier this year. The U.S. has reported more than 3,400 confirmed or suspected cases. The White House is reportedly preparing to name a federal monkeypox coordinator in the coming days. While the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency around monkeypox, the White House has yet to do this.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has revealed new details about how former President Trump resisted his speechwriters’ attempts to have him condemn the assault on the Capitol. A draft speech prepared by White House staffers for the president to deliver on January 7 shows Trump’s edits in black marker. Trump crossed out the line, “I am directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We must send a clear message — not with mercy, but with JUSTICE. Legal consequences must be swift and firm.” Trump also crossed out the phrase, “I want to be very clear you do not represent me. You do not represent our movement.” Finally, Trump edited, “If you broke the law, you belong in jail,” to instead read, “If you broke the law, you will pay.”
In reproductive rights news, dozens of incoming medical students at the University of Michigan walked out of their white-coat induction ceremony Sunday, protesting the keynote speaker, Dr. Kristin Collier, and her support for laws banning abortion.
In related news, thousands of people rallied outside and inside the Indiana Statehouse Monday as lawmakers began a special session to debate a Republican bill that would ban nearly all abortions. Indiana is the first state to hold a special session to consider abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month. This is obstetrician and abortion rights advocate Amy Caldwell.
Dr. Amy Caldwell: “My primary objective today in testifying is to relay that abortion is common, it is safe, and that all of the proposed restrictions in Senate Bill 1 are unnecessary and harmful. … My colleagues are fearful to do their jobs, fearful of being criminalized and fearful for criminalizing our patients.”
Here in New York, a man who was forced to plead guilty to theft in connection to the Central Park jogger case has been exonerated. Steven Lopez was just 15 years old when he was arrested and wrongfully accused of sexually assaulting a white woman along with five other Black and Latinx teenagers, who became known as the Central Park Five. At the time, Lopez, whose story is far less known than the rest of the group, pleaded guilty to robbery in a separate attack in order to avoid a more serious rape charge. Lopez is now 48. He served about three years in prison before his release in the early 1990s. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced Lopez’s exoneration Monday.
Alvin Bragg: “Many largely forgot that there were six who were falsely accused of rape of the Central Park jogger. Today, Mr. Lopez joined the other five who had their convictions vacated. What is so striking to me is how young Mr. Lopez was when both he was arrested and then when he pled guilty under extraordinary pressure.”