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HeadlinesMarch 20, 2023

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Xi Jinping Visits Moscow Following ICC Arrest Warrant Against Putin, Defiant Visit to Mariupol

Mar 20, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin in his first visit to Russia since it invaded Ukraine. Beijing’s show of support for Putin comes days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes, for deporting Ukrainian children to Russia. This is ICC President Piotr Hofmanski.

Piotr Hofmanski: “The judges have reviewed the information and evidence submitted by the prosecutor and determined that there are credible allegations against these persons for the alleged crimes. The ICC is doing its part of work as a court of law. The judges issued arrest warrants. The execution depends on international cooperation.”

Putin could be arrested if he travels to a member country of the ICC. Russia is not a member, nor are China, the U.S. or India, which is hosting a G20 summit in New Delhi in December. In an apparent act of defiance, Putin visited the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol, a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. He also visited Crimea Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of its annexation.

In other news about the war, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the U.N. agreed Friday to extend a deal allowing for shipments of Ukrainian grain via Black Sea ports for 120 days.

Here in the U.S., The Guardian is reporting the Biden administration has quietly resumed deportations to Russia, after suspending them last year following the invasion of Ukraine. Many of those facing deportation could end up in prison or on the frontline if sent back home.

Protesters Call for End to U.S. Wars on 20th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

Mar 20, 2023

Over the weekend, protests took place across the U.S. calling for an end to U.S. involvement in the Ukraine war as the world marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In the nation’s capital, people rallied in front of the White House and marched in the streets of D.C. This is Claudia de la Cruz from The People’s Forum.

Claudia de la Cruz: “We’re here to let the world know that we are committed as a people to shut the war machine down. The planet and humanity depend on us. We’ve got to fight. We’ve got to continue to demand an end to NATO, an end to AFRICOM, an end to the Southern Command and the levels of sanctions that the U.S. has all across the globe. We need to continue to make the connections of working-class people in the United States to the working-class people all around the world. So we’re here making those demands. We’re also recommitting ourselves to lift up the antiwar movement once again.”

The Costs of War Project estimates up to 306,000 Iraqi civilians have died from direct war-related violence, while hundreds of thousands more Iraqi civilians have died from indirect causes and millions have been displaced. Some estimates put the death toll in Iraq at over 2 million. In the lead-up to the illegal 2003 invasion, tens of millions of people took to the streets in thousands of antiwar protests around the globe.

Protests in Gaza as Israeli, Palestinian Officials Pledge to Deescalate Ahead of Ramadan

Mar 20, 2023

In Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, representatives from Israel and Palestine agreed to deescalate tensions ahead of Ramadan, including an Israeli pledge to halt discussion of new settlement construction for four months. The talks were also attended by U.S., Egyptian and Jordanian officials. A similar pledge to curb violence was reached a month earlier but did little to quell the mounting violence. Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 85 Palestinians so far in 2023 as members of the extreme-right Israeli government have openly called for violence against Palestinians. In Gaza, protesters condemned Palestinian officials for taking part in the Egyptian meetings.

Protester: “Attending these kinds of summits while there are massacres, while there is this fascist government in Israel and during this critical time is disregarding the pain and dignity of the Palestinian people.”

Turkish and Egyptian Foreign Ministers Meet as Countries Relaunch Diplomatic Relations

Mar 20, 2023

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Egypt met in Cairo for their first official talks in a decade as the two countries move to restore ties. The pair agreed to reestablish ambassadorships “as soon as possible.” Turkey and Egypt severed ties in 2013 after President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was then army chief, led the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, a Turkish ally. Tensions have also simmered over the conflict in Libya and over maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean.

UBS Buys Credit Suisse Amid Turmoil, Consumer Fears in Global Banking

Mar 20, 2023

UBS has agreed to buy smaller rival bank Credit Suisse for $3.2 billion in a bid to stem global financial turmoil following the collapse of two U.S. banks a week and a half ago. The deal was brokered by the Swiss government. The U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and others welcomed the news as they sought to reassure investors of the stability of global financial markets.

Collapsed Signature Bank Acquired as Sen. Warren Calls for Bank Crisis Probe, Firing of Fed Chair

Mar 20, 2023

In the U.S., New York Community Bancorp reached a deal to take over the failed Signature Bank and assume all its deposits, a week after it was seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Signature’s 40 branches will now operate as Flagstar Banks, which New York Community Bancorp acquired in December.

Senator Elizabeth Warren called Sunday for an independent investigation into the collapse of Signature and Silicon Valley Bank. Warren also called for Biden to fire Fed Chair Jerome Powell, whom she blames for helping undo financial regulations and for continuing to raise interest rates despite forecasts it could cost 2 million people their jobs.

French Protests Continue, Hundreds Arrested, as Macron Faces No-Confidence Vote over Pension Law

Mar 20, 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron is facing no-confidence votes in Parliament today, after he pushed through a highly unpopular pension law using executive powers Friday, raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. Protests continued to rock France over the weekend, with over 300 people arrested. Garbage continues to pile up on city streets as sanitation workers have been on strike for two weeks.

Yoland Porfal: “We continue. We continue. We don’t give in. We resist it despite the fatigue. Our determination is more than reinforced since the reform was pushed through. So I hope that everywhere in France people will mobilize.”

More protests and labor strikes are planned for this week.

Belarus Jails 2 Prominent Journalists as U.N. Warns Belarus May Be Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity

Mar 20, 2023

Press freedom groups are condemning the 12-year jail sentence of two Belarusian journalists after a closed-doors trial. Liudmila Chekina and Maryna Zolatava worked for an independent outlet which was shut down by Belarusian authorities in 2021 and labeled “terrorists.” This comes as a new report by the U.N. says human rights violations and repression carried out by Belarusian authorities against protesters and dissidents could amount to crimes against humanity.

Pakistani Court Cancels Arrest Warrant for Imran Khan as Police Arrest His Supporters

Mar 20, 2023

In Pakistan, police have raided and arrested dozens of supporters and aides of former Prime Minister Imran Khan following protests over Khan’s attempted arrests. On Saturday, a court canceled arrest warrants for Khan after he appeared in person, and scheduled a hearing on March 30. Khan, who was removed from office by Parliament last year, denies the corruption charges against him and is calling for snap elections.

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16 People Killed After 6.8-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Ecuador and Peru

Mar 20, 2023

At least 16 people have died after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the southern coast of Ecuador Saturday, about 50 miles from Guayaquil. One of the deaths was reported in northern Peru. This comes as the region is still reeling from Cyclone Yaku, which killed at least eight people.

Survivor: “My house was filled with water up to the waist. It reached us. We have lost everything. I lost everything. I don’t even have anywhere to sleep or to sit.”

An estimated 60 people have died since the rainy season began in Peru.

Deadly Storms Cause More Misery in Earthquake-Stricken Turkey and Northwestern Syria

Mar 20, 2023

Elsewhere, intense flooding in Turkey’s earthquake-stricken southern provinces has killed at least 16 people. The torrential rains have also damaged dozens of camps in northwestern Syria, which housed many displaced survivors of the February 6 earthquakes.

In southeast Africa, the death toll from Tropical Cyclone Freddy — believed to be the longest ever in recorded history — has risen to 522 across Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.

California Hit by 12th Atmospheric River as Residents, Farmers Reel from Unrelenting Storms

Mar 20, 2023

California is bracing for more heavy storms this week, as the 12th atmospheric river this season hits the battered state. Thousands were ordered to evacuate Sunday in Central California. In the San Joaquin Valley, farmers say damage to crops could impact national and international food supply.

Brandon Dykstra: “Breaks everywhere, bridges, weirs, everything. I can’t even begin to put a number on that. Crop losses, my personal opinion is between hundreds of millions to billion-plus dollars. … And once those next storms hit, the flows will double, triple again, and it’s just going to keep coming and coming.”

Wyoming Bans Abortion Pill as Wider Abortion Ban Goes into Effect

Mar 20, 2023

Wyoming has become the first state to ban the use of abortion pills. The law goes into effect in July, making it a felony to prescribe, sell and use abortion medication — the most popular method to terminate a pregnancy. People found in violation would face up to six months in prison and a fine. Meanwhile, Republican Governor Mark Gordon allowed another sweeping anti-abortion measure to become law without his signature. The so-called Life Is a Human Right Act went into effect Sunday and prohibits abortion under most circumstances, punishable with up to five years in prison.

Maternal Mortality Rate Soared by 40% in 2021

Mar 20, 2023

The maternal mortality rate in the United States skyrocketed in 2021, with Black women more than twice as likely to die than white women. That’s according to new CDC data, which said the U.S. saw a 40% increase in maternal deaths in 2021 compared to the previous year, largely due to the compounding impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S.’s maternal mortality rate is more than 10 times higher than the estimated rates in other wealthy countries.

Trump Says He Expects to Be Arrested Tuesday, Calls on Supporters to Protest

Mar 20, 2023

Donald Trump said he expects to be arrested Tuesday in connection with the Manhattan DA investigation into hush money payments made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. In a post on his site, Truth Social, Trump called on his supporters to ”PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” Trump is expected to be indicted in the case, though the timing is unknown.

Veteran Sentenced to 2 Years for Rioting at the Capitol

Mar 20, 2023

A U.S. Air Force veteran from Texas was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Fifty-five-year-old Larry Brock entered the Senate chambers in full combat gear and rifled through senators’ desks.

Miami Beach Imposes Curfew After Deadly Shootings During Spring Break

Mar 20, 2023

In Florida, the city of Miami Beach declared a state of emergency, imposing an overnight curfew Sunday after two fatal shootings this weekend and “excessively large and unruly crowds” during spring break. Officials are meeting today to consider enforcing the measures again from Thursday to next Monday. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, “the overwhelming volume of visitors, a few that come with bad intentions in the presence of guns creates a wholly intolerable situation.”

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Farmworkers Demand Publix, Kroger, Wendy’s Back the Fair Food Program

Mar 20, 2023

In Florida, hundreds of farmworkers and their supporters led a five-day, 50-mile march demanding humane working conditions and better protections. Workers are calling on food retailers to join the Fair Food Program, an initiative launched by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 2011 to improve conditions for farmworkers and end modern-day slavery. The march began outside a labor camp in the agricultural community of Pahokee, where hundreds of farmworkers were forced into brutal working and living conditions under threats of violence, deportation and insurmountable debts. The owner of the labor camp was sentenced to nearly a decade in prison in 2022 for leading a federal racketeering and forced labor conspiracy across at least five states. The march ended in Palm Springs Saturday. This is Gerardo Reyes Chaves, a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which organized the action.

Gerardo Reyes Chaves: “We’ve come here to demand that Publix and Kroger — which is directly connected to the situation of modern slavery in Pahokee; they bought watermelons from there — and Wendy’s, for them to join the Fair Food Program and put an end to the extreme labor abuses in this country.”

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