In Ukraine, at least 44 people were killed, and dozens remain missing, after a missile attack tore through a high-rise apartment building in the city of Dnipro on Saturday. It was one of the deadliest single assaults of the war since Russia invaded nearly 11 months ago. Officials in Kyiv blamed Russian long-range missiles for the destruction. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the attack, calling it “another example of a suspected violation of the laws of war.” A Kremlin spokesperson denied Russia was responsible, suggesting the blast may have been caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile that went astray.
Elsewhere, fierce fighting continues to rage in the eastern province of Donetsk, where Russian forces are seeking to take full control of the city of Soledar.
Earlier today, the U.N. Human Rights Office confirmed more than 7,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, though the agency believes the true toll is likely “considerably higher.” In Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cited the latest Russian attacks as he appealed to allies to send even more heavy weaponry.
President Volodymyr Zelensky: “Can Russian terror be stopped? Yes. Is it possible to do it somehow differently than on the battlefield in Ukraine? Unfortunately, no. It can and must be done on our land, in our sky and on our seas. What is needed for this? Those weapons which are in the depots of our partners and which our soldiers are waiting for so much.”
The United States has launched an expanded combat training program for Ukrainian soldiers. The top U.S. general, Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, toured a U.S. military base in Germany on Monday as Pentagon advisers began training about 500 Ukrainian troops in the use of advanced weapons systems including artillery, tanks and missiles. General Milley’s trip came just days after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the U.K. would ship advanced tanks and hundreds of armored vehicles and howitzers to Ukraine, becoming the first Western nation to supply such offensive weaponry. On Sunday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he expects other allies will soon follow suit.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has resigned amid mounting criticism from some NATO members over the pace of Germany’s aid to Ukraine. On Monday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz toured a German weapons factory, promising to appoint a new defense minister soon.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz: “What is important is that when we set about the future of our country, we know that Germany needs a strong military and an efficient defense industry.”
Last year, the German chancellor pledged to spend over $100 billion to expand Germany’s military.
In Afghanistan, armed men shot and killed former Member of Parliament Mursal Nabizada on Sunday in an assault on her home in Kabul. One of Nabizada’s bodyguards was also killed in the attack, which also left her brother and another guard injured. Nabizada was elected in 2019 to represent Kabul and remained in office until the Taliban takeover in August of 2021. Her assassination came amid a massive crackdown on the rights of women and girls by the Taliban.
Over the weekend, the charity Save the Children reported it has resumed a small percentage of its activities in Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban banned women from working for nongovernmental organizations. The group added in a statement, “The ban on female NGO workers — on top of the existing humanitarian crisis — will drive up the needs of children and have a huge ripple effect. It will mean fewer women and girls are reached with essential support; it will mean more children are forced into labor and marriage … it will mean tens of thousands of jobs are put at risk across the sector.”
Burkina Faso’s government says armed men abducted more than 50 women in two separate incidents late last week in the town of Arbinda. The women were kidnapped as they foraged for leaves and wild fruit due to widespread food shortages in Burkina Faso’s northern Sahel region, which is under blockade by insurgents affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced about 2 million people across Burkina Faso since 2015.
In California, the death toll from two weeks of heavy storms and flooding has reached at least 20 after record rainfall and snow continued over the long weekend. The director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services described the storms as “among the most deadly natural disasters in the modern history of our state.” In Ventura County, 17 inches of rain fell over the past week. Helicopters were needed to evacuate some residents in the county after flooding and landslides cut off access to their homes. Nearly two inches of rain fell on downtown Los Angeles Saturday, setting a new record. Parts of the Sierra Mountains received over four feet of snow.
Over the weekend, President Biden approved a major disaster recovery declaration for California. Biden plans to visit part of California’s Central Coast on Thursday.
Climate scientists are predicting the world will see record heat waves over the next two years due to a combination of climate change and El Niño, a natural climate cycle that drives global temperatures higher. Climate scientist James Hansen and his colleagues recently said, “We suggest that 2024 is likely to be off the chart as the warmest year on record.”
In Germany, police say they have evicted all of the climate activists who were occupying the western village of Lützerath. Hundreds of activists have occupied the deserted town for months to prevent the area from being mined for lignite, a highly polluting type of coal. Over the weekend, police used tear gas, water cannons and batons to clear the encampment. Medics say at least 20 climate protesters were injured. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg joined the protests over the weekend. Video posted online show police pushed her and others from the site.
Greta Thunberg: “The fact that all of you are here is a sign of hope. This is only a part of a much larger global climate movement, a movement for climate and social justice and racial justice. Lützerath — what happens in Lützerath doesn’t stay in Lützerath. Germany, as one of the biggest polluters in the world, has an enormous responsibility. … You are showing clearly today that the changes will not come from the people in power, from governments, from corporations, from the so-called leaders. No, the real leaders are here. It is the people who are sitting in treehouses and those who have been defending Lützerath, for example, for years now. … The carbon is still in the ground. We are still here. Lützerath is still there. And as long as the carbon is in the ground, this struggle is not over.”
The World Economic Forum has begun in the luxury ski resort of Davos, Switzerland. On Monday, climate activists blocked a private jet airport used by many to reach the annual conference. According to Greenpeace, over 1,000 private jets flew in and out of Davos during last year’s gathering.
Meanwhile, over 700,000 people have signed an open letter to fossil fuel CEOs attending the World Economic Forum, urging them to “immediately stop opening any new oil, gas, or coal extraction sites, and stop blocking the clean energy transition.” The letter was written by a group of climate activists including Vanessa Nakate of Uganda and Greta Thunberg of Sweden.
In Nepal, an investigation is underway into the cause of a Yeti Airlines crash on Sunday that appears to have killed all 72 people on board. It was Nepal’s deadliest air disaster in more than three decades. The plane had been traveling from the capital Kathmandu to Nepal’s second-largest city, Pokhara, when it began rolling from side to side before crashing into a gorge and catching fire. Investigators were able to recover the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder on Monday.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli troops shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy on Monday as they carried out a raid in the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem. Omar Khmour was a student in the ninth grade at a United Nations refugee agency school. He was the 14th Palestinian killed by Israeli troops so far in 2023 and the fourth Palestinian child killed since the new year.
His death came less than two days after an estimated 80,000 Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv to protest plans by Israel’s new far-right government to overhaul the judicial system. Similar protests were held in Jerusalem and Haifa. A plan led by Benjamin Netanyahu would sharply limit judicial powers by allowing a simple majority of lawmakers to invalidate Supreme Court decisions.
In Britain, the government of Conservative U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vetoed a bill passed by Scotland’s Parliament that would have made it easier for people to change their legal gender. The legislation was approved by Scottish lawmakers last month. It would make it simpler and faster for transgender people to obtain legal documents establishing their gender, would end the need for a medical diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” and would extend those rights to teenagers as young as 16. It’s the first time since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999 that the U.K. government has used its veto power to block a Scottish law from taking effect. On Monday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the veto as a “full-frontal attack” on the Scottish Parliament.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon: “In my view, it will be, quite simply, a political decision, and I think it will be using trans people, already one of the most vulnerable, stigmatized groups in our society, as a political weapon. And I think that will be unconscionable and indefensible and really quite disgraceful.”
In New Mexico, a Republican candidate who lost his bid for a seat in the state House in November has been arrested for orchestrating shootings at the homes of four Democratic officials. According to the Albuquerque Police Department, Solomon Peña paid four men in cash to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators. Police say he also took part in at least one of the shootings but his gun malfunctioned. He was arrested by a SWAT team on Monday. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller described Peña as a “right-wing, radical election denier.” Peña refused to concede his election loss in November when he lost in a landslide. He also was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump.
The New York Times is revealing some Republican insiders knew over a year ago that then-Republican congressional candidate — and now-congressmember — George Santos had made up much of his résumé, including his educational background, employment history and religion. Santos’s lies were exposed when his campaign did a routine background report on him, but the findings were not made public. During his run, Santos would go on to pick up key endorsements, including Kevin McCarthy, who is now the House speaker. On Monday, New York Republican Congressmember Nick LaLota called on the Department of Justice and the Federal Elections Commission to freeze any money left in Santos’s campaign account due to fraudulent activity. It recently came to light that one of Santos’s aides impersonated Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff in fundraising efforts. On Monday, McCarthy admitted he “always had a few questions” about Santos, but McCarthy has so far refused to back calls for Santos to resign.
New York Mayor Eric Adams traveled to the border city of El Paso, Texas, Sunday and said New York City has no more room to house additional asylum seekers.
Mayor Eric Adams: “There’s a conversation among those who are asylum and migrants — asylum seekers and migrants who are given the false impression that if you come to New York City, everything is fine. … In New York, you go there, you’re going to be living in congregate settings, that there is no more room in New York.”
The New York mayor used his trip to El Paso to urge the Biden administration to provide more help to New York, which has accepted 40,000 asylum seekers over the past year, including 800 in a single day last week. Eric Adams’s trip was criticized by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who said the mayor’s trip “risks reinforcing a harmful narrative that new immigrants themselves are a problem.”
Oklahoma has carried out the first of what prison officials say will be 11 executions this year. Scott Eizember was pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m. local time last Thursday, after authorities at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary strapped him to a gurney and injected him with a lethal cocktail of three drugs. Eizember is the eighth death row prisoner to be killed since Oklahoma resumed capital punishment in late 2021 after a six-year moratorium.
His killing came as one of Alabama’s largest suppliers of packaged gas said it will refuse to supply nitrogen to state gas chambers. A spokesperson for the company Airgas said in a statement, “Notwithstanding the philosophical and intellectual debate of the death penalty itself, supplying nitrogen for the purpose of human execution is not consistent with our company values.”
The acclaimed novelist Russell Banks has died of cancer at the age of 82. Banks was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, known for drawing on his working-class background to write about criminals, outcasts and revolutionaries. His books “Rule of the Bone,” “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Affliction” were adapted into feature films, and his 1998 historical novel “Cloudsplitter” focuses on the revolutionary abolitionist John Brown. Russell Banks spoke to Democracy Now! in 2011 about John Brown’s life and legacy.
Russell Banks: “Brown sort of stood at that crossroads of religion and violence in the American imagination, and righteous wrath, if you will, or principled violence. And he was our homegrown terrorist, but he was a terrorist for a cause that certainly today we’re universally in support of, which is the ending of slavery. And so, his story is still a very complicated one for most Americans.”