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HeadlinesFebruary 20, 2023

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Biden Visits Ukraine, Pledges More Weapons Ahead of First Anniversary of Russian Invasion

Feb 20, 2023

President Biden landed in Ukraine earlier today, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and announced a new wave of sanctions against Russia, along with another half-billion dollars in U.S. assistance, including more military equipment.

President Joe Biden: “I’m here to show our unwavering support for the nation’s independence, their sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Air raid sirens blared as Biden visited Kyiv. The surprise visit came just days ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion on February 24.

Europe to Increase Flow of Weapons to Ukraine as Peace Protesters Call for Diplomacy Over War

Feb 20, 2023

Biden’s increased weapons commitment comes after the head of the European Commission said the bloc would take “extraordinary measures” to ramp up the production, purchase and supply of weapons to Ukraine. Ursula von der Leyen made the pledge during this weekend’s Munich Security Conference while intense battles continued in eastern Ukraine. Outside the conference, hundreds of people gathered to protest.

Protester: “Because it is simply important that we cannot permanently supply weapons, because then the war does not stop; every day that weapons are supplied, people die on both sides. And these people count. It is important to go into peace negotiations.”

Kamala Harris Accuses Russia of Crimes Against Humanity, Warns Beijing Against Supporting Russia

Feb 20, 2023

Also at the Munich Security Conference, Vice President Kamala Harris accused Russia of crimes against humanity in Ukraine. Both Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China against providing support to Moscow as reports emerged Beijing is supplying Russian forces with nonlethal military assistance. Beijing responded to the U.S. threats earlier today.

Wang Wenbin: “It is the U.S., not China, that is providing a steady stream of weapons on the battlefield. The United States is in no position to make demands of China. We will never accept the U.S. pointing fingers at Sino-Russian relations or even coercing us.”

Japan, U.S., South Korea Threaten More Sanctions After N. Korea Ballistic Missile Drills

Feb 20, 2023

Japan has requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile into the sea off of Japan’s coast on Saturday. North Korea fired two more long-range missiles earlier today. North Korea said the launches are a warning to the U.S. and South Korea as they prepare for joint military drills. Top diplomats of Japan, South Korea and the U.S. held emergency meetings on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference and threatened further isolation for Pyongyang.

Park Jin: “North Korea will face more severe sanctions by the international community. Pyongyang will gain nothing from its provocations.”

Turkey Winding Down Earthquake Rescue Operations as Anger Grows over Scale of Deaths & Destruction

Feb 20, 2023

Turkey says it is wrapping up rescue operations in all but two provinces, two weeks after a pair of massive earthquakes and their aftershocks devastated Turkey and neighboring Syria. The death toll now tops 46,000 and is expected to keep rising as more bodies are discovered.

This weekend, Ghanaian soccer star Christian Atsu was confirmed as one of the victims. Thirty-one-year-old Atsu played for a Turkish club and previously for teams in Saudi Arabia and Britain. Christian Atsu’s body was repatriated to Ghana as tributes poured in, with his former soccer clubs in the U.K. holding a minute’s applause before their weekend games.

Meanwhile, a union representing architects and engineers in Turkey has condemned the government and local authorities for ignoring their warnings about issues with building construction and their pleas for stronger regulations.

Thousands Protest as Extreme-Right Israeli Gov’t Presses Ahead with Attack on Judiciary

Feb 20, 2023

In Israel, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, blocking roads and massing in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem as the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu pushes ahead on highly contested legislation that would greatly disempower Israel’s judiciary. On Saturday, an estimated quarter-million people took to the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities to protest the plan for the seventh consecutive week.

Israeli Airstrikes Kill 15 in Damascus; U.S. Says It Killed ISIS Leader in Syria Raid

Feb 20, 2023

In Syria, at least 15 people were killed and a number of homes were destroyed early Sunday as Israel launched airstrikes on the capital Damascus. The bombings leveled a 10-story building and left behind a massive crater in a district that’s home to senior Syrian government officials. It’s believed to be Israel’s deadliest attack on Syria since the start of the civil war nearly 12 years ago.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military’s Central Command — CENTCOM — says it killed ISIS leader Hamza al-Homsi during an assault in northeastern Syria on Thursday. Four U.S. soldiers were reportedly injured in the helicopter raid. The assault came as Syria’s government said 53 people were shot and killed by ISIS fighters after an ambush in Homs province last week.

18 Afghan Refugees Found Dead Inside Abandoned Truck in Bulgaria

Feb 20, 2023

In Bulgaria, 18 Afghan refugees were found dead Friday inside an abandoned truck near the capital Sofia. Six Bulgarians have been indicted, including the alleged leader of a smuggling group. Thirty-four others were rescued, including five children, and remain hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning from inhaling exhaust fumes. The refugees were headed to Western Europe. Bulgaria’s harsh immigration policies are forcing people to rely on more dangerous methods, and refugees have accused Bulgarian security forces of abuse.

Tunisia Expels European Trade Union Official Amid Crackdown by President Kais Saied

Feb 20, 2023

Tunisian President Kais Saied has ordered Europe’s top trade union official to leave the country after she took part in a protest organized by a powerful labor union Saturday. This is the secretary general of Tunisia’s General Labor Union, Othman Jalouli, who spoke at the protest.

Othman Jalouli: “There is an inability of the government and the authorities to put the country on the right track on the economic, social and political levels. Today there is a campaign aimed at undermining the union and silencing the voice of workers, with the intention of passing unpopular policies.”

The U.N.'s human rights chief last week warned against a mounting crackdown in Tunisia, where President Saied's government has arrested officials from the main opposition party Ennahda, former ministers, judges, lawyers and the head of a radio station. In July 2021, Saied dismissed the government, declared rule by decree and vowed to rewrite Tunisia’s constitution.

Extreme Weather Kills 36 in Brazil; Death Toll from New Zealand Cyclone Rises to 11

Feb 20, 2023

In southeastern Brazil, at least three dozen people were killed over the weekend as heavy rains triggered landslides and flash flooding in coastal São Paulo state. Some areas received more than two feet of rain in just 24 hours, in what meteorologists called an unprecedented extreme weather event.

In New Zealand, at least 11 people are dead and thousands remain unaccounted for, one week after Cyclone Gabrielle left a trail of devastation along New Zealand’s North Island. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins blamed climate change for the scale of the damage, calling it New Zealand’s worst natural disaster of the century.

Meanwhile, Madagascar is bracing for Cyclone Freddy, one month after a devastating tropical storm killed 30 people. Freddy is an extremely rare and long-lived cyclone — just the third ever recorded crossing the Indian Ocean.

Asylum Seekers at Two California ICE Detention Centers Hold Hunger Strike

Feb 20, 2023

Here in the U.S., at least 77 people held at two Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers in California have launched a hunger strike, demanding the facilities shut down and release all detainees. The hunger strike is an extension of an ongoing labor protest led by people held at the Mesa Verde-Golden State ICE jails, who are paid just $1 a day for their work, including janitorial services where they’ve been exposed to black mold. Officials at the detention centers, which are operated by the private prison contractor GEO Group, have retaliated against the strikers by putting them in solitary confinement.

Meanwhile, a new report by the group Innovation Law Lab describes how immigrants and asylum seekers held at the Torrance County Detention Facility in New Mexico are being subjected to torturous methods, including solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, medical neglect, and severe due process violations that lead to wrongful deportations.

For-Profit Prison Corporation CoreCivic Sued for Death of Bahamian Immigrant

Feb 20, 2023

The immigrant justice group Al Otro Lado has sued CoreCivic for the wrongful death of Anthony Jones, a Bahamian man who died of a heart attack at the Adams County Detention Center in Mississippi in December 2020. The suit says staff failed to send him to the hospital and waited at least nine minutes before administering CPR.

Five Memphis Ex-Cops Plead Not Guilty to Murdering Tyre Nichols

Feb 20, 2023

In Memphis, five former police officers pleaded not guilty Friday to murdering Tyre Nichols. Their brutal beating of the 29-year-old Black father, caught on tape, led to his death three days later. Tyre Nichols’s mother RowVaughn Wells spoke after the arraignment.

RowVaughn Wells: “I know my son is gone. I know I’ll never see him again. But we have to start this process of justice right now. And I want each and every one of those police officers to be able to look me in the face. They haven’t done that yet.”

U.S. Logs 80th Mass Shooting of 2023 After Another Bloody Weekend of Gun Violence

Feb 20, 2023

In northern Mississippi, a man armed with a shotgun and two handguns went on a killing spree Friday, fatally shooting his ex-wife, stepfather, stepsister and three other people, before police finally arrested him. The massacre came in a small town south of Memphis, Tennessee, where on Sunday one person was killed and 10 others were wounded by gunfire at a nightclub and a nearby residence.

Meanwhile, police in Columbus, Georgia, responded to calls of a shooting at a gas station on Friday, where they found nine children injured with gunshot wounds. And in Linden, New Jersey, four family members are dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Investigators believe the father fired on his wife and two teenage children on Sunday before turning the gun on himself. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 80 mass shootings in the United States since January 1.

Fox News Officials Pushed Conspiracy Theories About 2020 Election They Didn’t Believe

Feb 20, 2023

Fox News hosts and top executives, including Fox Corporation head Rupert Murdoch, thought former President Trump’s 2020 election fraud claims were completely unfounded, yet continued to push his conspiracy theories on air. The revelations come in a series of emails, text messages and testimony detailed in a court filing as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News. Fox News repeatedly reported Dominion changed votes to hand Biden the win.

Star hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham are all named in the filing. Among the charges, the filing says Tucker Carlson wrote fellow primetime host Laura Ingraham, saying, “[Trump’s lawyer] Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.” Carlson and Hannity also allegedly wanted to get Fox reporters who fact-checked Trump’s election claims fired. Fox News hosts and executives are cited as calling Trump’s election fraud lies “mind-blowingly nuts,” “totally off the rails” and “completely BS.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, 98, Enters Hospice Care

Feb 20, 2023

Jimmy Carter has entered hospice care at his home in Plains, Georgia, turning down any more medical treatment after a recent series of hospitalizations. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. The 98-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate is the longest-living president in U.S. history and known for his active post-presidency, including his work with Habitat for Humanity and the Carter Center. He most recently joined efforts to protect the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Click here to see our interviews with former President Jimmy Carter.

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