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HeadlinesFebruary 17, 2023

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Ukraine’s Zelensky Rules Out Trading Territory for Peace

Feb 17, 2023

Ukraine’s president has ruled out trading territory for peace as part of any negotiated settlement with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. President Volodymyr Zelensky made the remarks in an interview with the BBC.

President Volodymyr Zelensky: “Any territorial compromises would make us weaker as a state. It’s not about compromise itself. Why would we be afraid of that? We have millions of compromises in life every day. The question is with whom. With Putin? No. Because there’s no trust.” 

Ukraine’s military says it shot down 16 of 36 Russian missiles fired at targets across Ukraine Thursday, including its largest oil refinery, which reportedly sustained damage. Meanwhile, Russia has intensified ground attacks along the front in southern and eastern Ukraine in a spring offensive launched just ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion. 

U.N. Appeals for $1 Billion for Turkey Earthquake Relief

Feb 17, 2023

The United Nations is appealing to donors for $1 billion to scale up relief operations in Turkey, where the death toll from this month’s massive earthquakes has topped 38,000. Nearly 6,000 others have been confirmed dead in Syria, where the U.N. is appealing for an additional $400 million for humanitarian assistance. 

World Food Programme Plans to Slash Food Aid to Rohingya Refugees

Feb 17, 2023

There’s growing alarm over plans by the World Food Programme to slash aid to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled ethnic cleansing and genocide in Burma. The U.N. agency says it will be forced to cut rations to Rohingya living in camps in Bangladesh, due to a severe funding shortfall. In a statement, the humanitarian group Save the Children said, “Rohingya children and their families are at breaking point and need more support, not less.”

Biden Remarks on Unidentified Objects Shot Down Over North America

Feb 17, 2023

President Biden has made his first formal comments about the U.S. military’s downing of four objects flying over North America earlier this month. Biden said the first object shot down was a Chinese surveillance balloon that violated U.S. sovereignty — something he called “unacceptable” — but that the other three were not believed to be related to surveillance by a foreign power. Biden said Thursday he planned to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the surveillance balloon.

President Joe Biden: “This episode underscores the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals.” 

A possible source for one of the yet-to-be-identified objects is the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade. The hobbyist club believes one of its $12 inflatable balloons may have been shot down by a Lockheed Martin F-22 firing a $400,000 Sidewinder missile over Canada’s Yukon Territory on February 11. 

Israel Approves Law Allowing Palestinians to Be Stripped of Citizenship and Deported

Feb 17, 2023

Israel’s Knesset has passed a law allowing the government to revoke the citizenship or residency of Palestinians determined to have committed what Israel calls “acts of terror.” The new law exclusively targets Palestinians in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, allowing them to be deported to the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Legal experts say such deportations would constitute an act of forcible transfer, which is a war crime.

U.S. Won’t Rule Out Veto of U.N. Resolution on Illegal Israeli Settlements

Feb 17, 2023

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote next week on a Palestinian-backed resolution demanding an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement activities and condemning the annexation of illegal settlements and outposts. Diplomats told reporters the U.S. is seeking to replace the resolution with a weaker statement. In Washington, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel declined to say if the U.S. would veto the resolution.

Vedant Patel: “The introduction of this resolution is unhelpful in supporting the conditions necessary to advance negotiations for a two-state solution.”

Georgia Grand Jury Finds Evidence of Perjury in Testimony on Trump’s Bid to Overturn 2020 Election 

Feb 17, 2023

In Georgia, the special grand jury investigating attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election determined that at least one witness committed perjury during their testimony. That revelation came as part of a small five-page excerpt of the grand jury report made public on Thursday, though it’s not clear who the panel believed should be charged with crimes other than perjury, or which Georgia laws may have been violated. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said last month that decisions about whom to prosecute were “imminent.”

2024 Presidential Hopeful Nikki Haley Calls for “Mental Competency Tests” for Older Politicians

Feb 17, 2023

The White House dismissed Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s call for “mental competency tests” for politicians over the age of 75. Haley made the remark in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday during her first campaign rally since announcing her 2024 bid. It’s seen as an attack on both 80-year-old Biden and her primary challenger, 76-year-old Donald Trump. Nikki Haley also vowed to crack down on immigration and relegate “communist China [to] the ash heap of history.” 

PA Sen. John Fetterman Seeks Treatment for Depression 

Feb 17, 2023

Senator John Fetterman is seeking in-patient treatment for depression at Walter Reed hospital, his office announced. Senate Democrats rallied around their colleague, with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeting, “Happy to hear @SenFettermanPA is getting the help he needs and deserves. Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day.” The freshman senator from Pennsylvania has suffered a number of health challenges recently. Last week he was briefly hospitalized after feeling lightheaded during a Senate retreat. He was elected as U.S. senator in November, six months after suffering a life-threatening stroke.

Jeremy Corbyn Barred from Running on Labour Ticket in U.K.

Feb 17, 2023

In Britain, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has barred former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn from running for reelection as a Labour candidate. Corbyn slammed the move as an attack on democracy. Corbyn has been a member of Parliament since 1983, currently serving as an independent. Click here to see our interview with MP Jeremy Corbyn and his comments on Keir Starmer.

Nicola Sturgeon Resigns as Scottish Leader Amid Challenges over Independence

Feb 17, 2023

Nicola Sturgeon has announced she is stepping down as first minister of Scotland. Sturgeon is the first woman to hold the post, as well as the first woman to lead the Scottish National Party.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon: “Essentially, I’ve been trying to answer two questions: Is carrying on right for me? And, more importantly, is me carrying on right for the country, for my party and for the independence cause I have devoted my life to?”

Sturgeon will stay in her role until a successor is appointed. Her resignation comes amid stark divisions over Scottish independence. In November, the British Supreme Court ruled Scotland cannot hold another independence referendum without the green light from the British government. The U.K. government also recently vetoed a Scottish bill that would make it easier for people to change their legal gender. Sturgeon condemned the veto as a “full-frontal attack” on the Scottish Parliament.

NYT Writers Call Out Newspaper’s Bias in Coverage of Transgender Issues

Feb 17, 2023

Close to 200 New York Times contributors have published an open letter criticizing the Times’s recent coverage of stories involving transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people, in particular concerning medical issues. The letter says Republican lawmakers have cited the Times’s coverage to justify bans on gender-affirming care for youth. In response, the top editor of The New York Times on Thursday defended the paper’s coverage of trans issues, warning journalists that such public criticism will “not be tolerated.”

Norfolk Southern Train Derails in Michigan as EPA Chief Visits Site of Toxic Ohio Crash

Feb 17, 2023

In Michigan, a train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed on Thursday in Van Buren Township, 30 miles west of Detroit, causing more than two dozen rail cars to pile up and triggering fears of a toxic release. Local authorities reported one rail car contained liquid chlorine, a highly corrosive chemical. Norfolk Southern said no hazardous materials spilled.

The crash came as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan visited East Palestine, Ohio, to meet with residents affected by this month’s crash of a Norfolk Southern train carrying vinyl chloride and other toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, which were released in a so-called controlled burn that sent a toxic mushroom cloud high into the air.

Tesla Recalls 360,000 Self-Driving Cars; Worker Organizers Accuse EV Maker of Retaliatory Firings

Feb 17, 2023

Tesla has recalled more than 360,000 electric vehicles over the risks posed by their self-driving software. The recall follows several high-profile accidents, including an eight-car pileup on the San Francisco Bay Bridge last November, triggered when a self-driving Tesla Model S abruptly changed lanes and rapidly applied its brakes. Nine people were injured, including a 2-year-old child. On Thursday, Democratic Senator Ed Markey tweeted that Tesla’s recall is long overdue, adding, “We have been sounding the alarm on the critical flaws in Tesla’s software and its misleading advertising for years. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration must continue to protect the public against these safety risks, and Tesla must stop overstating the capabilities of its vehicles.”

Meanwhile, Tesla workers at a factory in Buffalo, New York, have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, saying Tesla managers fired more than 30 people this week after they announced their intention to form what would be the company’s first U.S.-based labor union. 

NY Senate Votes Down Gov. Hochul’s Judicial Pick After Backlash from Unions, Rights Groups

Feb 17, 2023

Here in New York, the state Senate has rejected Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul’s nominee to become the state’s top judge. Hector LaSalle came under fire from unions, as well as civil rights, immigrant rights and reproductive rights groups who opposed LaSalle’s nomination, citing what they described as his past anti-labor and anti-abortion rulings. 

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