In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces killed at least nine Palestinians during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp. One of the victims was a 60-year-old woman, identified by a local hospital as Magda Obaid. At least 20 people were injured in the attack. Medics say Israeli forces at first blocked them from getting to the injured. The head of the Jenin public hospital reported Israeli soldiers also fired tear gas into the hospital, which reached the pediatric department, causing suffocation injuries to children.
General strikes have been called in Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah, as schools closed early and stores shut down. Palestinian leaders called on the U.N. and international actors to step in to prevent further bloodshed. Israelis have killed at least 29 Palestinians since the start of the year, including five children.
Ukraine’s military has retreated from the eastern town of Soledar as Russian forces attempt to encircle the nearby city of Bakhmut. It’s Russia’s largest battlefield victory since last summer. It came as Ukraine’s military chief said Russia fired 55 cruise missiles across Ukraine overnight, including 15 targeting Kyiv, where one person was killed and two others wounded.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is calling on its allies to supply it with modern warplanes, including advanced fighter jets, after the Biden administration said it will ship 31 U.S.-made M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine. The escalation came after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed to send Leopard 2 tanks. President Biden spoke at the White House Wednesday.
President Joe Biden: “Putin expected Europe and the United States to weaken our resolve. He expected our support for Ukraine to crumble with time. He was wrong.”
The British-based Stop the War Coalition blasted the move to arm Ukraine with tanks, tweeting, “This is not the path to peace & marks a serious escalation. Arming Ukraine & sending tanks is a step further away from negotiation.”
Meanwhile, a Russian court ordered the country’s oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, to be closed down. It’s the latest in Moscow’s crackdown on free speech and dissidents, which has intensified since the start of its invasion of Ukraine last February. After headlines, we’ll speak with Alexey Kovalov, investigative editor of Meduza, an independent Russian news outlet.
In Peru, thousands of people marched in the capital Lima after interim President Dina Boluarte called for a “national truce” amid ongoing protests since the ouster and arrest of her predecessor, Pedro Castillo, on December 7. This is a protester.
Protester: “How many people are dying? For the love of God, out Dina Boluarte. Get out of the government. Don’t hurt us anymore. We are suffering. Everything is becoming more expensive, and we don’t even have enough to eat. We are Peruvians, and we are asking for help.”
Over 50 people have died in the brutal crackdown on demonstrators. Meanwhile, leftist lawmakers allied with Castillo have submitted a motion of impeachment against Boluarte over her response to the protests.
In California, the 66-year-old farmworker accused of fatally shooting seven co-workers at two mushroom farms was denied bail Wednesday, as prosecutors charged him with seven counts of murder. San Mateo County’s sheriff said the gunman was not known to local law enforcement and had lawfully purchased the semiautomatic gun used in Monday’s massacre.
In Southern California, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park Wednesday, where she laid flowers at a memorial for victims of Saturday’s massacre. Investigators say the shooter did not personally know any of the 11 people killed and nine others injured in the attack. All of the victims were Asian, and most were Chinese Americans. The shooter was a 72-year-old gun enthusiast who in 1999 lawfully purchased the semiautomatic MAC-10 assault pistol used in the killings.
In Virginia, the Newport News School Board voted Wednesday to fire and replace the current schools superintendent, less than three weeks after a 6-year-old student shot his teacher at Richneck Elementary School. Twenty-five-year-old Abigail Zwerner faces a long road to recovery after the first-grader shot her in the abdomen as she sought to confiscate the weapon in her classroom on January 6. Zwerner’s lawyer said Wednesday school administrators repeatedly shrugged off warnings that the student was making threats and appeared to have a gun.
Diane Toscano: “On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times — three times — school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun on him at the school and was threatening people. But the administration could not be bothered.”
In news from Washington, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday ousted Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, carrying through on promised retaliation for the expulsion of far-right Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their congressional committees in 2021 after they called for violence against Democrats on social media. Gosar’s removal came after he posted an animated video where he murders Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacks President Biden. Gosar and Greene have both received committee assignments in the new Congress. McCarthy is also expected to hold a vote on removing Minnesota Congressmember Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, since he cannot unilaterally remove members from that panel. It’s not clear if McCarthy has enough support in his party to do so; two Republican lawmakers have already opposed the move, and McCarthy can only afford four defections. The three targeted Democrats condemned McCarthy’s “corrupt bargain” with the extreme right of his party. This is Congressmember Ilhan Omar.
Rep. Ilhan Omar: “It is about revenge. It’s about appeasing the former president. All three of us have been a thorn in the back of the previous disgraced president.”
In Tennessee, the chief of the Memphis Police Department has condemned the killing of Tyre Nichols, who died of kidney failure and cardiac arrest on January 10, three days after his violent arrest following a traffic stop. Five Memphis police officers and two fire department employees have been fired in the wake of Nichols’s killing. An independent autopsy found Tyre suffered extensive bleeding after officers pepper-sprayed, tased, restrained, kicked and beat him for three minutes. Police Chief C.J. Davis urged Memphis residents not to turn to violence or property destruction after body-camera video of the assault is released.
Police Chief C.J. Davis: “This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane. And in the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”
A federal prosecutor has launched a civil rights probe into the killing. A 2016 lawsuit says one of the five officers accused in Tyre’s beating allegedly assaulted a prisoner.
In New York, former Columbia University OB-GYN Robert Hadden has been convicted of federal sexual abuse charges, including sex trafficking. Hadden sexually assaulted dozens of women patients over two decades, including Evelyn Yang, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Among the convictions, Hadden was found guilty of luring patients across state lines for examinations during which he assaulted them. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called Hadden a “predator in a white coat.” Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital had previously settled with over 200 survivors for $236 million.
The social media giant Meta has reinstated former President Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Trump was barred from the platforms for two years over his comments to supporters who rioted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, wrote in a blog post, “The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box.” Clegg said Trump could be suspended again for up to two years if he once again violates Meta’s guidelines.
In India, police detained students at New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university before a planned screening of a new BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has sparked a growing firestorm and has been banned by Modi. At the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, also in New Delhi, authorities resorted to cutting power to the student union hall to thwart a screening. The film, in part, covers Modi’s time as chief minister of Gujarat, when he was accused of complicity in the deadly 2002 anti-Muslim riots which killed an estimated 1,000 people. Modi’s government, which is coming under mounting accusations of censorship, also ordered Twitter and YouTube to remove excerpts of the film from their sites.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis has criticized laws criminalizing LGBTQ people, in remarks hailed by rights groups as “historic.” Speaking to the Associated Press Tuesday, Pope Francis said, “Being homosexual is not a crime. It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. … But it’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.” Pope Francis added that Catholic bishops should play an active role in opposing and repealing anti-LGBTQ laws. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation responded in a statement, “Today’s statements from Pope Francis are a game changer in the fight to decriminalize LGBTQ people and also illustrate the work that needs to be done with religious leaders to finally show that being LGBTQ is not a sin.”
Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have strongly criticized the Church of England after the archbishop of Canterbury said bishops are set to uphold a ban on marriage equality when they meet next month to determine church policy. This month, the Church of England apologized for its past treatment of LGBTQ people and said priests will be allowed to bless civil unions of same-sex couples, even as it signaled those couples would still be barred from getting married in its churches. This is Labour Member of Parliament Chris Bryant speaking Tuesday in the House of Commons.
Chris Bryant: “I think there’s still a cruelty in what the bishops have brought forward. There’s a sort of hypocrisy. I know they’re trying to square everything off, but in the end, there’s a hypocrisy that will bless the individuals but not the relationship.”
Republican freshman Congressmember George Santos is coming under fresh scrutiny after he filed updated financial reports indicating that over $600,000 of campaign funds were not personal loans, as he had previously claimed. It’s not clear yet where the money came from. On Wednesday, Santos’s campaign notified the Federal Election Commission that it has a new treasurer. The person listed, Thomas Datwyler, denied working for Santos and said his electronic signature was submitted to the FEC without his consent. New York congressmember Santos has faced mounting calls to resign and triggered multiple investigations for lying about large portions of his résumé and life history.