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HeadlinesFebruary 21, 2023

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New Tremors Add to Misery of Earthquake Survivors in Turkey and Syria

Feb 21, 2023

In Turkey, at least six people were killed Monday as two powerful earthquakes shook the southern province of Hatay. The magnitude 6.3 and 5.8 quakes were felt across Turkey’s border region and into northern Syria, sparking panic among survivors of two even more massive quakes earlier this month, which killed more than 47,000 people in both countries — a toll that’s certain to rise in the days and weeks ahead. On Monday, Istanbul’s mayor warned that about 90,000 buildings are at risk of collapse if a massive earthquake were to strike Turkey’s largest city.

Meanwhile, a convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid crossed Turkey’s Bab al-Hawa border crossing into Syria on Monday, two days after the head of the World Food Programme criticized Syrian authorities for blocking access to the area. Aid workers say they are now contending with a shortage of tents for thousands of Syrians in need.

Louay Khalilo: “The United Nations and relief agencies have not reached us. In shelters, there are some 200 or 300 families, but we cannot secure tents for them. And if there are tents available, their prices have doubled.”

Vladimir Putin to Suspend New START Nuclear Arms Treaty

Feb 21, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suspended Russia’s role in the New START treaty — the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia. Putin made the pledge during his annual State of the Nation address earlier today, where he gave no sign Russia is preparing to end the war in Ukraine. Putin accused Western nations of provoking the conflict.

President Vladimir Putin: “The Western elites do not conceal their goals: as they say — it’s a direct quote — to bring Russia a 'strategic defeat.' What does that mean for us? It means to end us once and for all. It means they plan to turn a local conflict into a global confrontation. We understand it exactly like that. We will react to it accordingly. This is because, in this case, it is about the very existence of our country.”

Biden Travels to Warsaw for Major Speech on Ukraine and Talks with NATO Leaders

Feb 21, 2023

President Biden is in Warsaw, Poland, today, where he’s giving a major address on U.S. support for Ukraine ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion. Biden is also meeting with leaders of the nine countries on NATO’s eastern flank, including Polish President Andrzej Duda. Biden’s trip to Poland comes one day after he announced a half-billion dollars’ worth of additional U.S. weaponry for Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kyiv.

France Officially Withdraws Army from Burkina Faso

Feb 21, 2023

The French Army has left Burkina Faso, officially ending its military operation in the West African country less than a month after leaders asked France to withdraw its contingent of hundreds of troops. Their departure marked a significant step in scaling down France’s military presence in Africa’s Sahel region. Protesters had long denounced a 2018 military accord that allowed French soldiers to fight armed groups in Burkina Faso, saying France’s Army had done little to actually tackle violence that’s engulfed the country in recent years.

Amade Maïga: “We don’t want them on our territory, because when they are here and our people die, they do nothing. If they stay beyond the exit date, authorities should expect us in their base, because we are going to go there.”

The medical humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders has suspended its work in Burkina Faso after armed assailants killed two staff members earlier this month.

17 Asylum Seekers Killed as Bus Crashes in Southern Mexico 

Feb 21, 2023

In Mexico, at least 17 asylum seekers were killed in a bus crash in the state of Puebla Sunday afternoon. Most of them came from Venezuela, Colombia and Central America. The bus was carrying 45 passengers when it turned over on the highway as it headed north toward Mexico City. This comes just days after a bus carrying 66 U.S.-bound migrants plunged off a cliff in Panama last week, killing at least 39 people, including children.

Cambodia Shutters “Voice of Democracy” Broadcaster in Latest Crackdown on Dissent

Feb 21, 2023

Rights groups warn Cambodia is ratcheting up its crackdown on free speech and human rights after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered one of Cambodia’s last independent news organizations to shut down last week. He accused the outlet, Voice of Democracy, of attacking him and his son, who is also his presumed successor. This is Sothoeuth Ith, media director at Voice of Democracy.

Sothoeuth Ith: “We feel like VOD has been playing a key role or important role in Cambodia in bringing the voice to the voiceless and also vulnerable people and by bringing all the issues to the government. So, without VOD, we’re just afraid that this could be a big step back of press freedom in Cambodia.”

Iraqi Environmentalist Jassim Al-Asadi Freed from Kidnappers

Feb 21, 2023

In Iraq, prominent environmentalist Jassim Al-Asadi was released last week, two weeks after he was kidnapped near Baghdad. The motivation for his abduction remains unclear. The noted activist is head of the group Nature Iraq, which fights for the protection of the country’s southern wetlands as they face increasing challenges due to the climate crisis.

One Person Killed, 12 Others Injured in Ohio Metal Factory Explosion 

Feb 21, 2023

In Ohio, one person was killed and 12 others injured Monday as a large explosion tore through a metal factory outside Cleveland, shattering windows, scattering molten debris around the site and setting vehicles on fire. Residents of Oakwood Village reported a scent like “burning oil” after the explosion, which sent a huge plume of smoke billowing into the sky. Records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show the factory’s operator, I. Schumann & Co., was recently cited in several complaints. In one instance, a worker suffered third-degree burns. In another case, OSHA cited the company for a “serious violation” over its control of hazardous energy.

Ohio Opens Health Clinic for Residents Near Site of Toxic Train Crash

Feb 21, 2023

The Ohio Department of Health is opening a health clinic today for residents of East Palestine, who’ve reported health effects including headaches, sore throats and respiratory problems following the February 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train. The crash led to a massive fire and the release of toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan, is headed back to East Palestine today. His trip comes as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is coming under fire for not visiting the crash site. Buttigieg told reporters on Monday, “When the time is right, I do plan to visit East Palestine. I don’t have a date for you right now.” Click here to see our coverage of the Ohio rail disaster.

Michigan State University Classes Resume as Students Demand Gun Reforms After Mass Shooting 

Feb 21, 2023

Students at Michigan State University returned to classes on Monday, one week after a gunman’s rampage left three students dead and five others critically wounded. Many MSU students and faculty reported they weren’t ready to resume classes and need more time to heal. Meanwhile, hundreds of students and their supporters gathered at the Michigan state Capitol Monday for a sit-in protest demanding the state Legislature put new limits on guns. This is MSU senior Mahek Khangura.

Mahek Khangura: “I texted my family, friends and loved ones for what I thought would be the last time ever. The wifi and data kept going in and out, and for every minute over four hours I thought I was going to die. I didn’t think I was going to make it out alive anymore. While I’m standing here before you today lucky to be alive, I should not be lucky to be alive. The right to bear arms should have never come before our right to live. And my life matters more than guns.”

Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Colleagues Win George Polk Award for “The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh”

Feb 21, 2023

Journalism’s prestigious George Polk Awards have been announced. Among 2022’s winners is former Democracy Now! producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous, a reporter for the independent Egyptian outlet Mada Masr. Sharif won the foreign television award for “The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh” along with Al Jazeera “Fault Lines” senior producer Kavitha Chekuru and executive producer Laila Al-Arian. Their remarkable documentary investigates the killing of Palestinian American journalist and longtime Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces last May during a raid in the occupied West Bank. It draws on videos and eyewitness accounts of Abu Akleh’s killing to establish that she was fatally shot in the head by an Israeli sniper, a finding supported by numerous other press investigations. Shireen and other reporters were wearing blue helmets and blue flak jackets clearly emblazoned with the word “press.” Click here to see our interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Lina Abu Akleh, niece of Shireen Abu Akleh.

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