Ongoing Russian attacks on Ukrainian grain supplies have destroyed at least 60,000 tons of grain as global food security faces mounting threats. Russia’s Navy has also carried out live-fire military exercises in the Black Sea, days after Moscow withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal and both Moscow and Kyiv said ships traveling to either Russian or Ukrainian ports through the waterway constitute potential military targets. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said today he will be holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which could lead to restoring the grain deal.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has started using cluster munitions supplied by the United States on the battlefield. Over 100 countries have signed on to an international treaty banning their use due to the danger they pose to civilians — though it’s not signed by Russia, Ukraine or the United States.
In Nebraska, the teenager who used abortion pills to terminate her pregnancy was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Police charged 19-year-old Celeste Burgess and her mother, Jessica Burgess, who assisted her in getting the pills and disposing of the fetus, after Facebook handed over their private messages. Celeste was just 17 when her mother ordered the pills online. The events took place before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. At the time, abortion in Nebraska was banned after 20 weeks. Earlier this year, Governor Jim Pillen signed a 12-week ban into law.
Florida’s Board of Education approved new standards for teaching Black history after Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans passed new laws limiting what can be taught in classrooms as part of their “anti-woke” crusade. The standards include teaching children that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” It also instructs educators to teach about violence committed by Black people. The Florida Education Association blasted the new standards, saying, “Gov. DeSantis is pursuing a political agenda guaranteed to set good people against one another, and in the process he’s cheating our kids. They deserve the full truth of American history, the good and the bad.” Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling to Jacksonville today to speak out against Florida’s attack on Black history and education.
In more news from Florida, rights groups are suing over S.B. 1718, a new law targeting immigrants, making it more difficult to work and get medical care, among other things. One in five Florida residents is an immigrant. In a statement, the ACLU of Florida said, “This legislation is not the solution to any problem. It is an attempt to scapegoat and terrorize vulnerable families and workers already burdened by the difficulty of the federal immigration process.”
The Florida Rights Restoration Committee is suing Governor DeSantis for illegally intimidating people with felonies in order to prevent them from voting. The lawsuit accuses Florida of creating intentional obstacles to determine voting eligibility and creating an “election police” to go after people who may have cast ballots without knowing they were still not legally permitted to do so. Almost all those targeted by the police force were Black and Democrats.
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced another 191,000 people would be purged from state election rolls, even though they are registered voters. The move targets voters who are deemed “inactive” because mailed election materials were not able to be delivered and voters who may not have officially signaled an address change. Kendra Cotton, head of the New Georgia Project Action Fund, said, “Georgia is well-known for its wide-ranging and creative attempts at voter suppression. Voting is a right. If someone chooses not to use it, that doesn’t mean they lose it.”
Meanwhile, in Alabama, lawmakers passed a new congressional map this week that still does not include a second majority-Black district as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
In other news from Alabama, the state executed James Barber early this morning after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request for a stay. It’s the first execution by lethal injection in Alabama following a pause last year to review a series of botched executions. The group Reprieve said, “There’s no humane method of execution. Executions aren’t working — and it’s torture.”
In India, protesters have taken to the streets after a video went viral on social media showing dozens of men sexually assaulting two women in the northeastern state of Manipur. The incident took place in May, but the video surfaced just this week due to an internet ban in the region. The main suspect was arrested Thursday, accused of dragging the two women, aged 21 and 42, onto the street and inciting a mob of over two dozen men to assault them and then parade them on the streets naked. At least one of them was raped by the mob. Manipur has recently seen soaring ethnic violence between the majority Meitei group and the tribal Kuki minority. The two women assaulted in the video are Kuki. The families of the two survivors have denounced police misconduct, saying it took law enforcement months to address the case.
In Ecuador, some 1,200 barrels of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean Wednesday, contaminating over two miles of shoreline. Officials with Ecuador’s national oil company, Petroecuador, said a tank in a maritime terminal had surpassed its capacity, causing it to spill. The company was only able to contain about half of the spilled crude, while the rest collected on the oceanfront of the popular Las Palmas Beach. Cleanup efforts are underway as environmentalists warn of the effects the spill could have on local wildlife.
Here in New York City, lawyers, plaintiffs and city officials held a press conference Thursday following the announcement the city will settle for $13 million with racial justice protesters who were brutalized by the New York police during the 2020 uprising that followed the murder of George Floyd. This is attorney Wylie Stecklow.
Wylie Stecklow: “Today’s settlement is historic, and I’m very proud that it will bring some sense of justice to nearly 1,400 people who took to the streets and put their bodies on the line against police brutality. But as a New York City taxpayer, I am bothered. The payout is a red flag, but we still have NYPD executive officers, like Chief of Patrol John Chell, Inspector Elias Nikas, leading unconstitutional protest policing in this city. Their example to the rest of the 35,000 members of service is that the Constitution does not apply simply when these high-ranking members of the service say so.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation to mandate the Supreme Court adopt a code of ethics and stricter financial disclosure rules. The move comes following explosive revelations around several justices, most notably Clarence Thomas, who was lavished for decades with luxury travel and gifts by GOP megadonor Harlan Crow. No Republicans voted for the measure, though they did attempt to add amendments to make it easier for judges to carry weapons, and to ban reporters from publishing draft opinions without court approval. The amendments were defeated.