The Biden administration and some of its European allies have pledged new heavy weaponry to Ukraine, including howitzers, missile defense systems and first-time shipments of armored vehicles. On Thursday, the Pentagon said its new $2.5 billion military aid package will include dozens of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Stryker armored personnel carriers. The Pentagon stopped short of shipping M1 Abrams battle tanks, as Ukraine had requested, and Germany has so far refused to send Leopard 2 tanks sought by Kyiv. In Moscow, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov warned the U.S. and NATO against arming Ukraine with tanks.
Dmitry Peskov: “This is potentially extremely dangerous. This would mean taking the conflict to a new level, which, of course, will not bode well from the point of view of global and European security.”
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports CIA Director William Burns traveled secretly to Kyiv last week to personally brief President Volodymyr Zelensky on Russia’s military plans in the coming weeks and months.
In Peru, thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of interim President Dina Boluarte took to the streets of the capital Lima Thursday, where they were met with brutal force from riot police and swirls of tear gas. This was the sixth straight week of mass protests since the ouster and arrest of leftist President Pedro Castillo in December. Over 50 people have been killed in clashes with Peruvian security forces. This is José de la Rosa, one of the protesters in Lima.
José de la Rosa: “We want the usurper Dina Boluarte to step down and call for new elections. The protests will continue. The south of the country is in an uprising at the moment. We came to Lima from all the southern regions.”
Boluarte spoke at a press conference Thursday where she praised police and accused protesters of instigating violence and chaos.
President Dina Boluarte: “That was not a peaceful protest. The violent acts that occurred in December and January will not go unpunished.”
In France, over 1 million people marched on the streets of cities including Paris, Marseille and Nice on Thursday, as labor unions held a nationwide strike against plans by President Emmanuel Macron to raise the age of retirement from 62 to 64. In Paris, more than three dozen people were arrested after police used tear gas to clear protesters from Bastille Square. This is trade union leader Laurent Escure.
Laurent Escure: “We want to have a good retirement. We don’t want to retire broke, tired, broken. We want to enjoy our last years with our children, our grandchildren, maybe with our parents, who have to be taken care of. So it is a message of social justice that we want today. If the government does not come to its senses, there will be more strikes to follow. That is why we appeal to reason and not to make the choice of irresponsibility, and to choose the voice of reason.”
In the United Kingdom, unions have condemned a bill proposed by Conservatives that would allow the state to break strikes of public sector workers by ensuring they maintain “minimum services” during work stoppages. Workers violating the bill could lose their jobs, and their unions could be sued. Labor leaders have condemned the bill as “undemocratic, unworkable and illegal.” They’re planning to mobilize over 100,000 civil servants in a one-day strike on February 1.
Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remove Aryeh Deri, the recently appointed far-right interior and health minister, saying he is not eligible to hold public office due to his multiple criminal convictions. This comes as Netanyahu’s new ultranationalist and ultrareligious coalition attempts to disempower the judiciary. Analysts say the decision could either lead to a constitutional crisis or the dissolution of the weeks-old government.
On Thursday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where Sullivan reiterated Biden’s “bone deep” commitment to Israel. Sullivan also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, who called on the U.S. to put pressure on the new government to halt the killing of Palestinians and its plans to expand illegal settlements.
The meeting came as Israeli forces killed two more Palestinians during a raid in Jenin Thursday. The victims were identified as 26-year-old Adham Jabarin and 57-year-old Jawad Farid Bawaqta, a high school teacher and father of six, who was delivering first aid to Jabarin when he was shot dead by a sniper. At least 17 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this year, including four children.
The Harvard Kennedy School has restored its fellowship offer to Kenneth Roth, the former director of Human Rights Watch, after Harvard was blasted for rescinding the offer over Roth’s and Human Rights Watch’s criticism of Israeli human rights abuses. Kenneth Roth appeared on Democracy Now! earlier this month to warn against the chilling effect of Harvard’s initial decision.
Kenneth Roth: “This is a very serious problem. I mean, it’s not just a problem for me personally. This is not, you know, impeding my career in a significant way. But I think about, you know, first of all, the younger academics, who don’t have the visibility that I do, who are going to take from this lesson the view that if you touch Israel, if you criticize Israel, that can be a career-killing move. You’ll get canceled. And that’s a disastrous signal to send.”
Colombia’s government has pledged it will no longer award new contracts to drill for oil and gas, as President Gustavo Petro seeks to fulfill a campaign promise to transition Colombia away from fossil fuels. Colombia’s Energy and Mines Minister Irene Vélez spoke Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Irene Vélez Torres: “We have decided that we are not going to enter into new gas and oil exploration contracts. This has, of course, been very controversial at the national level. But, for us, this is a clear sign of our commitment to the fight against climate change, because we know that this decision is a planetary decision that is absolutely urgent and needs immediate action.”
In Brazil, two Indigenous Pataxó land defenders were murdered Tuesday in the municipality of Itabela. Seventeen-year-old Nawir Brito de Jesus and 25-year-old Samuel Cristiano do Amor Divino were traveling to a farm when gunmen on a motorcycle shot them in the back, according to witnesses. The Pataxó people have faced intense conflicts with local ranchers who’ve invaded their land. This comes as the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has launched a series of raids in search of illegal loggers and ranchers in the Amazon rainforest in an effort to halt deforestation, which skyrocketed under the far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro. This is the anti-deforestation mission’s leader, Givanildo Dos Santos.
Givanildo Dos Santos: “The rhetoric of the former government created a mindset among people that led many to invade areas and deforest them, planting farms and thinking that the government would eliminate Indigenous lands and legalize these invasions for cattle production.”
Back in the United States, the Supreme Court said Thursday it was unable to identify the person responsible for leaking the draft opinion on Dobbs last year, which overturned Roe v. Wade, or the constitutional right to an abortion. The court conducted over 100 interviews as part of the investigation into one of the worst breaches in its history. At least 90 people had access to the opinion before it was publicly released. This weekend would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe. v Wade. Since the ruling was overturned, 12 states have enacted total abortion bans.
In Texas, prisoners across the state have been on a hunger strike for 10 days to protest indefinite solitary confinement. In some cases, people have been held in solitary confinement for decades. Human rights groups, including the U.N., have said the practice amounts to torture.
In New Mexico, prosecutors in Santa Fe are charging Alec Baldwin with two counts of involuntary manslaughter over the killing last year of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by a loaded prop gun on the set of the film “Rust.” The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, will also be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Baldwin’s lawyers vowed to fight the charges; SAG-AFTRA, the union representing many Hollywood actors and other film and media professionals, also condemned the decision to hold Baldwin — who was also a producer on the film — responsible for Hutchins’s death, saying, “An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert.”
Google has announced plans to lay off 12,000 workers with immediate effect — affecting about 6% of the company’s workforce. Google’s CEO announced the layoffs this morning, just two days after Amazon and Microsoft announced layoffs affecting a combined 28,000 people.
The legendary musician David Crosby has died at the age of 81. The singer, guitarist and songwriter was a pivotal member of two of the most influential bands of the 1960s: The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. In 2011, David Crosby came into the Democracy Now! studio with longtime collaborator Graham Nash shortly after they performed at Occupy Wall Street in New York. He talked about his longtime opposition to nuclear power.
David Crosby: “The second part is that human beings make mistakes. That gave us Chernobyl. That gave us Three Mile Island. Mother Nature can kick our butts anytime she wants to. That gave us Fukushima. It’s not safe. There are two plants in California right on the beach. One of them is on a fault line. It’s 50 miles to, windward, my house. I keep — I sort of look that way to make sure I spot the plume when it happens. There’s nothing safe about it, and there’s nothing green about poisoning your country.”
During their appearance on Democracy Now!, David Crosby and Graham Nash also performed part of Crosby’s song “What Are Their Names.”
David Crosby and Graham Nash: [singing] “Who are the men
Who really run this land?
And why do they run it
With such a thoughtless hand?
What are their names?
And on what streets do they live?
I’d like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind.
Peace is not an awful lot to ask.”
David Crosby and Graham Nash in our Democracy Now! studios in 2011. Click here to see the whole interview. David Crosby has died at the age of 81.