The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria from last week’s massive earthquakes is nearing 42,000. Many more are expected to die or have not been counted. Earlier today, rescue workers pulled a 17-year-old girl out of the rubble of a collapsed building in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, 248 hours after the earthquake struck.
In Syria, relief workers blamed U.S.-led sanctions against the Syrian government for hindering rescue and recovery efforts. This is Mohammed Khalil, a medical worker in Aleppo.
Mohammed Khalil: “Sanctions on Syria led to a shortage of drugs for some chronic diseases and for cancer and chemotherapy treatments. Due to the disaster, we urge the U.S. and Western countries to lift those sanctions on us. Syria has been plagued with a grave humanitarian disaster for 13 years and is still struggling now.”
A Russian court on Wednesday sentenced journalist Maria Ponomarenko to six years in a penal colony for “spreading false information” after she accused Russian forces of bombing a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, last March. Amnesty International has accused Russia of a war crime over the bombing, which killed hundreds of people. Moscow blamed the explosion on Ukrainian nationalists. Addressing the court before her sentencing, Ponomarenko concluded with the defiant words, “No totalitarian regime has ever been as strong as before its collapse.”
In Buffalo, New York, the white teenager who murdered 10 people in a racially motivated attack in a predominantly Black neighborhood last May has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. There were dramatic scenes in the courtroom Wednesday, as family members of the victims confronted the gunman, who was just 18 years old when he published a racist manifesto online before using a legally purchased Bushmaster AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle to systematically seek out and murder Black people at a supermarket. The killer live-streamed the attack on social media. This is Barbara Massey, sister of shooting victim Katherine Massey.
Barbara Massey: “You’re going to come to our city and decide you don’t like Black people. Man, you don’t know a damn thing about Black people. We’re human. We like our kids to go to good schools. We love our kids. We never go to no neighborhoods and take people out.”
Massey was interrupted as a man lunged at the convicted mass murderer. He was restrained by court officers as the gunman was rushed from the courtroom. The Erie County district attorney later said the man would not be charged for the outburst. This is Simone Crawley, granddaughter of shooting victim Ruth Whitfield, speaking during victim impact statements.
Simone Crawley: “We all know the pure hatred and motivations behind your heinous crime, and we are here to tell you that you failed. We will continue to elevate and be everything that you are not, everything that you hate, and everything that you intended to destroy. … We are extremely aware that you are not a lone wolf, but a pawn of a larger organized network of domestic terrorists. And to that network, we say, 'We, as a people, are unbreakable.'”
The mass murderer apologized, saying, “I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me and what I did.”
In El Paso, Texas, gunfire killed one person and injured three others Wednesday at a shopping mall. The shooting took place at the Cielo Vista shopping center, which is located across a large parking lot from the Walmart where 23 people were killed in a 2019 racist shooting massacre. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 72 mass shootings since the start of 2023 — an average of more than one per day.
In Chicago, the father of the shooter at last year’s July Fourth parade was indicted Wednesday, accused of helping his son obtain a firearms license in 2019. Twenty-one-year-old Robert Crimo is charged with 117 felonies for the attack, which killed seven people and left 48 others wounded.
Hundreds of Michigan State University students in East Lansing rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday and held a silent sit-in protest to demand lawmakers enact new gun control laws following Monday’s mass shooting, which killed three people and critically wounded five others.
January 6 special counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed President Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to testify and provide documents about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election. Meadows was involved in an infamous phone call in which Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find 11,780 votes” after Trump’s narrow loss to Biden in Georgia. Meadows also reportedly burned documents in his office fireplace in the White House during the final weeks of the Trump administration.
This comes after former Vice President Mike Pence said this week he would invoke the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause to oppose his subpoena from special counsel Jack Smith.
Portions of a report by an Atlanta-area special grand jury into Trump’s actions to subvert the results of the 2020 election will be released today, after a Fulton County judge ordered them to be made public. District Attorney Fani Willis is considering whether to bring criminal charges against Trump and his allies. Grand jurors heard from 75 witnesses, including Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Mark Meadows. Willis is also investigating a group of 16 Georgia Republicans who served as fake presidential electors for Donald Trump.
In Virginia, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has blocked a bill that would ban search warrants to access personal data on menstrual tracking apps. The measure was put forward by Democrats in an effort to prevent private health information from being used in prosecutions related to abortions following the overturning last year of Roe v. Wade. Abortion is currently legal in Virginia until the 27th week of pregnancy, but Youngkin is pushing to enact a 15-week abortion ban and favors prosecuting providers who violate abortion laws.
The United Nations says 73 people are missing and presumed dead after their inflatable rubber boat deflated off the coast of Libya Tuesday. Eleven bodies were recovered along with the tattered remains of their boat. Last year the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration recorded 1,450 deaths of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean, and more than 130 people have died so far this year.
In Panama, a bus carrying 66 U.S.-bound migrants plunged off a cliff Wednesday, killing at least 39 people, including children. Some of the victims are believed to be from Ecuador and Cuba. The migrants had traveled through the Darién Gap, a perilous stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama.
A team of researchers reports Antarctica’s enormous Thwaites Glacier is on the verge of collapse, with warm water seeping under the weakest parts of the glacier and melting it from below. Researchers deployed a robotic submarine to penetrate the vast ice sheet, which is roughly the size of Florida. They found the glacier is susceptible to rapid and irreversible ice loss that could raise global sea levels by more than half a meter. Its collapse could destabilize surrounding glaciers that could raise the Earth’s oceans by a further three meters — or nearly 10 feet.
World Bank President David Malpass said Wednesday he will resign his post by the end of June, nearly a year before his five-year term is set to expire. Malpass was nominated to head the World Bank in 2019 by then-President Donald Trump. He previously served as chief economist at Bear Stearns for the six years leading up to the investment bank’s collapse at the start of the Great Recession in 2008. Last September, Malpass came under increased pressure from the Biden administration to resign, after he fumbled his answer to this question from David Gelles, The New York Times’s climate reporter.
David Gelles: “Vice President Gore was here earlier today, and I don’t know if you heard, but he referred to you in his remarks publicly on stage here as a climate denier. Would you clear the air? Do you accept the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is dangerously warming the planet?”
David Malpass: “You know, and some of the — I don’t know all of the — all of the instances that you’re talking about. I’ve been very pleased to have super strong U.S. government support across the board on the initiatives that we’ve been taking. Some people that are critical, I think, are unfounded. They may not know what the World Bank is doing.”
In a statement, the climate justice group Oil Change International said, “The World Bank Group still funds more fossil fuels than any other multilateral development bank. Ending this support for oil, gas and coal needs to be priority number one in the next six weeks ahead of the Bank’s Spring Meetings.”