Germany has announced it plans to send at least 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, after months of pleas from Kyiv. Germany also said it would soon allow other European countries to send their own Leopard tanks. The U.S. is also expected to announce today it will deliver Abrams tanks to Ukraine, though that process could take months. The heavy tanks could prove to be a major turning point in Ukraine’s fight against Russia, which is approaching its one-year mark next month. Moscow has warned such a move would be seen as a direct provocation.
In other news from Ukraine, the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky has fired a number of top officials, while others have resigned, as part of a growing corruption scandal, which includes reports that the military paid inflated food prices. The ousted officials include four deputy ministers and five regional governors. The EU has said Ukraine must meet anti-corruption standards in order to be granted membership.
Turkey has postponed scheduled talks on Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO amid mounting tensions with Sweden after it allowed a far-right politician to burn a Qur’an during a protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. Finland has said it would consider joining NATO without Sweden in the wake of the dispute.
The British government has admitted around 200 asylum-seeking children have gone missing since July 2021, prompting outrage and calls to fix the country’s immigration system. This is Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.
Robert Jenrick: “Of the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children still missing, 88% are Albanian nationals. The remaining 12% are from Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Turkey.”
Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has previously vowed to enact even harsher policies to block asylum seekers, taking aim at those who arrive on boats through the Channel.
In New Zealand, Chris Hipkins was sworn in as the nation’s new prime minister, after Jacinda Ardern announced last week she was stepping down. Hipkins, the architect of New Zealand’s pandemic response, will lead the ruling Labour Party into October’s election.
Carmel Sepuloni was also sworn in as new deputy prime minister, becoming the first official of Pacific Islander heritage to hold the office. Sepuloni is of Samoan, Tongan and European descent.
In Lebanon, Reuters reports former Prime Minister Hassan Diab has been charged with homicide with probable intent for the 2020 Port of Beirut blast, which killed at least 218 people, injured thousands and caused widespread destruction. The public prosecutor and head of the domestic intelligence agency at the time of the disaster were also charged. This comes after Judge Tarek Bitar unexpectedly resumed his investigation into the explosion Monday, after it was stalled for over a year due to political obstruction. But the probe is likely to face more resistance, as Lebanon’s chief prosecutor said Bitar had to pause his efforts until judicial authorities give him the go-ahead. Many survivors of the blast, victims’ families and legal advocates have supported Bitar’s investigation and continue to seek accountability for the tragedy.
In Eswatini, human rights advocates are condemning the assassination of prominent opposition politician and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko. Unknown attackers shot him dead inside his home Saturday. Maseko was a longtime critic of King Mswati III, who renamed the nation from Swaziland to Eswatini in 2018. In 2021, mass protests demanding the abolition of the monarchy erupted; the king’s security forces killed and tortured dozens of people. Maseko provided legal support to detained protesters. The U.N.'s human rights chief is demanding Eswatini authorities conduct an independent investigation into Maseko's murder.
In Cameroon, well-known journalist Martinez Zogo was found dead near the capital Yaounde Sunday, five days after he was kidnapped. Zogo was the director of the radio station Amplitude FM and frequently reported on corruption. Reporters Without Borders said he recently discussed a case of embezzlement involving a media outlet with government connections. Press freedom groups are calling for an impartial investigation and accountability for Zogo’s murder.
In Florida, racial justice advocates and educators have vowed to fight the blocking of a proposed new advanced placement course on African American studies. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday said he supports Florida’s Education Department after it claimed the class violated state law and pushed a “political agenda” by teaching high school students about the Black Lives Matter movement, Black queer studies, slavery and reparations, and other topics centering Black historical figures and events.
Meanwhile, teachers in Manatee County, Florida, have taken to covering up or removing books from their class libraries after a new law prohibiting classroom material that hasn’t been vetted and approved by so-called certified media specialists went into effect. Teachers found in violation of these guidelines face felony charges.
A lawyer for Mike Pence said a small number of classified documents were found at the former vice president’s Indiana home and were handed over to the FBI. The lawyer says Pence requested a review of materials at his house following news of classified documents being uncovered at President Biden’s residence and former office.
The Justice Department and eight states have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google for using its monopoly power to quash competition in the digital advertising industry. This is Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Attorney General Merrick Garland: “Google controls the technology used by nearly every major website publisher to offer advertising space for sale. Second, Google controls the leading tool used by advertisers to buy that advertising space. And third, Google controls the largest ad exchange that matches publishers and advertisers together each time that ad space is sold. As a result of this scheme, website creators earn less, and advertisers pay more.”
Senators on the Judiciary Committee grilled the president and CFO of Live Nation Tuesday, accusing the company of anti-competitive practices since their merger with Ticketmaster in 2010. The hearing was spurred by the Taylor Swift ticketing fiasco in November, when the Ticketmaster site crashed during pre-sales, which the company blamed on an onslaught of bots that purchase tickets to resell at higher cost. This is Senator Amy Klobuchar at Tuesday’s hearing.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “Today, Live Nation doesn’t just dominate the ticketing — it’s about 70% of the big concert market — but also they own many of the major venues. And for the venues that they don’t own, they tend to lock in on three-, five-, seven-year agreements, which means that the competitors that are out there aren’t able to even compete when it comes to the ticketing. Finally, they dominate the promoting. … This is all a definition of monopoly, because Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure. It doesn’t need to threaten, because people just fall in line.”
The FDA proposed new legal limits on the amount of lead permitted in foods for babies and toddlers. The agency estimates the new levels could reduce dietary exposure to lead by about 25%. Researchers say even low exposure can lead to learning disabilities and other health impacts.