Ukraine: Zelenskyy seeks more sanctions, fighting grinds on
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Fighting is grinding on in Ukraine after the country marked the anniversary of Russia’s invasion, with Ukrainian authorities on Saturday reporting dozens of new Russian strikes and attacks on cities in the east and south.
After a somber and naga902 defiant day of commemorations on Friday and a marathon news conference, Ukraine’s seemingly indefatigable president followed up with new video posts a day later in which he declared that “Russia must lose in Ukraine” and argued that its forces can be defeated this year.
In a separate tweet, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also pushed for more sanctions pressure on Russia after the U.K., U.S.and the European Union all announced new measures aimed at further choking off funding and support for Moscow.
“The pressure on Russian aggressor must increase,” Zelenskyy tweeted in English.
He said Ukraine wants to see “decisive steps” against Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the Russian nuclear industry as well as “more pressure on military and banking.”
Carter: Still a model for candidates asking ‘Why not me?’
ATLANTA (AP) – As the 2024 campaign season begins, political players are looking in the mirror and deciding whether they see an American president staring back.
It was no different for Jimmy Carter in the early 1970s.And it took meeting several presidential candidates and then encouragement from an esteemed elder statesman before the young governor of Georgia, who had never met a president himself, saw himself as something bigger.
He announced his White House bid on Dec.12, 1974, amid fallout from the Vietnam War and President Richard Nixon´s resignation. Then he leveraged his unknown – and politically untainted – status to become the 39th president. That whirlwind path has been a model, explicit and otherwise, for would-be contenders ever since.
“Jimmy Carter´s example absolutely created a 50-year window of people saying, `Why not me?´” said Steve Schale, who worked on President Barack Obama´s campaigns and is a longtime supporter of President Joe Biden.
Carter´s climb is getting new attention as the 98-year-old receives end-of-life care at home in Plains, Georgia.
Russia, Iran sending top envoys to UN’s human rights council
GENEVA (AP) – U.N.Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will help kick off the latest and longest-ever session of the U.N.’s top human rights body on Monday, with Iran’s foreign minister, a senior Russian envoy, and the top diplomats of France and Germany among scores of leaders set to take part.
The more than five-week session of the Human Rights Council opens as the world grapples with rights concerns including Russia’s war in Ukraine, repression of dissent in Russia and Belarus, new violence between Palestinians and Israelis, and efforts to solidify a peace deal in Ethiopia that ended two years of conflict between the national government and rebels in the Tigray region.
The council, made up of 47 members countries, takes up an extensive array of human rights issues – including discrimination, the freedom of religion, right to housing or the deleterious impact of economic sanctions targeting governments on regular people – as well as country “situations” like those in Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, Nicaragua and South Sudan. It usually meets three times a year.
Proponents say the Geneva-based rights body has grown in importance as a diplomatic venue because the U.N.Security Council in New York has been increasingly divided in recent years due to a major rift between affiliations among its five permanent members: China and Russia on one side, Britain, France and the United States on the other.
On Monday, among the speakers after Guterres and the presidents of Congo, Montenegro and Colombia, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will come up between Germany’s Annalena Baerbock and France’s Catherine Colonna.China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, is set to make a statement by video.
Justice Thomas wrote of ‘crushing weight’ of student loans
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court won’t have far to look if it wants a personal take on the “crushing weight” of student debt that underlies the Biden administration´s college loan forgiveness plan.
Justice Clarence Thomas was in his mid-40s and in his third year on the nation’s highest court when he paid off the last of his debt from his time at Yale Law School.
Thomas, the court’s longest-serving justice and staunchest conservative, has been skeptical of other Biden administration initiatives.And when the Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday involving President Joe Biden’s debt relief plan that would wipe away up to $20,000 in outstanding student loans, Thomas is not likely to be a vote in the administration’s favor.
But the justices’ own experiences can be relevant in how they approach a case, and alone among them, Thomas has written about the role student loans played in his financial struggles.
A fellow law school student even suggested Thomas declare bankruptcy after graduating “to get out from under the crushing weight of all my student loans,” the justice wrote in his best-selling 2007 memoir, “My Grandfather´s Son.” He rejected the idea.
Rights to ‘Crying Indian’ ad to go to Native American group
Since its debut in 1971, an anti-pollution ad showing a man in Native American attire shed a single tear at the sight of smokestacks and litter taking over a once unblemished landscape has become an indelible piece of TV pop culture.
It’s been referenced over the decades since on shows like “The Simpsons” and “South Park” and in internet memes.But now a Native American advocacy group that was given the rights to the long-parodied public service announcement is retiring it, saying it has always been inappropriate.
The so-called “Crying Indian” with his buckskins and long braids made the late actor Iron Eyes Cody a recognizable face in households nationwide.But to many Native Americans, the public service announcement has been a painful reminder of the enduring stereotypes they face.
The nonprofit that originally commissioned the advertisement, Keep America Beautiful, had long been considering how to retire the ad and announced this week that it’s doing so by transferring ownership of the rights to the National Congress of American Indians.
“Keep America Beautiful wanted to be careful and deliberate about how we transitioned this iconic advertisement/public service announcement to appropriate owners,” Noah Ullman, a spokesperson for the nonprofit, said via e-mail.”We spoke to several Indigenous peoples´ organizations and were pleased to identify the National Congress of American Indians as a potential caretaker.”
EPA orders ‘pause’ of derailment contaminated waste removal
EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) – Federal environmental authorities have ordered a temporary halt in the shipment of contaminated waste from the site of a fiery train derailment earlier this month in eastern Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line.
Region 5 administrator Debra Shore of the Environmental Protection Agency said Saturday the agency ordered Norfolk Southern to “pause” shipments from the site of the Feb.3 derailment in East Palestine but vowed that removal of the material would resume “very soon.”
“Everyone wants this contamination gone from the community. They don´t want the worry, and they don´t want the smell, and we owe it to the people of East Palestine to move it out of the community as quickly as possible,” Shore said.
Until Friday, Shore said, the rail company had been solely responsible for the disposal of the waste and supplied Ohio environmental officials with a list of selected and utilized disposal sites.Going forward, disposal plans including locations and transportation routes for contaminated waste will be subject to EPA review and approval, she said.
“EPA will ensure that all waste is disposed of in a safe and lawful manner at EPA-certified facilities to prevent further release of hazardous substances and impacts to communities,” Shore said.She said officials had heard concerns from residents and others in a number of states and were reviewing “the transport of some of this waste over long distances and finding the appropriate permitted and certified sites to take the waste.”
Los Angeles area still blanketed by snow in rare heavy storm
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A powerful winter storm that swept down the West Coast with flooding and frigid temperatures shifted its focus to southern California on Saturday, swelling rivers to dangerous levels and dropping snow in even low-lying areas around Los Angeles.
The National Weather Service said it was one of the strongest storms to ever hit southwest California and even as the volume of wind and rain dropped, it continued to have significant impact including snowfall down to elevations as low as 1,000 feet (305 meters).Hills around suburban Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, were blanketed in white, and snow also surprised inland suburbs to the east.
Rare blizzard warnings for the mountains and widespread flood watches were ending late in the day as the storm tapered off in the region. Forecasters said there would be a one-day respite before the next storm arrives on Monday.
After days of fierce winds, toppled trees and downed wires, more than 120,000 California utility customers remained without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us.And Interstate 5, the West Coast´s major north-south highway, remained closed due to heavy snow and ice in Tejon Pass through the mountains north of Los Angeles.
Multiday precipitation totals as of Saturday morning included a staggering 81 inches (205 centimeters) of snow at the Mountain High resort in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles and up to 64 inches (160 centimeters) farther east at Snow Valley in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Angela Bassett, ‘Wakanda Forever’ top NAACP Image Awards
PASADENA, Calif.(AP) – Angela Bassett won entertainer of the year at Saturday’s NAACP Image Awards on a night that also saw her take home an acting trophy for the television series “9-1-1.”
The Bassett-led Marvel superhero sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” won best motion picture at the ceremony, which was broadcast live on BET from Pasadena, California.
Viola Davis won outstanding actress for the action epic “The Woman King,” a project she championed and starred in. Will Smith won for the slavery drama “Emancipation,” his first release since last year’s Academy Awards, where he slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage before winning his first best actor trophy.
“I never want to not be brave enough as a woman, as a Black woman, as an artist,” Davis said, referencing a quote from her character in the film, which she called her magnum opus.”I thank everyone who was involved with `The Woman King´ because that was just nothing but high-octane bravery.”
“Abbott Elementary” won for outstanding comedy series. Creator and series star Quinta Brunson invited her costars onstage and praised shows like “black-ish” for paving the way for her series.
Bills would let transgender people seal name-change requests
SEATTLE (AP) – You can change your name, but in many states you can´t completely shed your old one – something that´s of particular concern to transgender people and that legislators in at least two states are trying to change.
A bill in Washington would allow gender expression and identity as reasons to seal, or keep out of the public record, a future petition for a name change.And a California bill would require the sealing of petitions by minors to change their name and gender on identity documents.
In states where such petitions aren´t sealed, transgender people can be susceptible to cyberbullying or even physical violence because their previous names, and by extension their lives, are an open book in the public record, advocates warn. Students, for instance, can and do easily find and share such records when they are looking for background on a new kid in town, one advocate noted.
Maia Xiao, a University of Washington graduate student, has changed her name in that state and said the publication of a transgender friend’s name-change records in an online forum led to relentless harassment, including hate mail.She wrote last summer to Democratic state Sen. Jamie Pedersen to urge reform.
“It feels very close to me,” said Xiao, who would not disclose the name of her friend, citing privacy. “I don´t live a very online life, but it´s really scary to know that something so personal can be so easily accessed by transphobic trolls who want to cause harm.”
5 dead, including patient, in medical flight crash in Nevada
STAGECOACH, Nev.(AP) – All five people aboard a medical transport flight, including a patient, were killed in a plane crash Friday night in a mountainous area in northern Nevada.
The Lyon County Sheriff´s office said authorities began receiving calls about the crash near Stagecoach, Nevada, around 9:15 p.m.and found the wreckage two hours later. Stagecoach, a rural community home to around 2,500 residents, is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Reno.
Care Flight, which provides ambulance service by plane and helicopter, said the dead included the pilot, a flight nurse, a flight paramedic, a patient and a patient´s family member.
Barry Duplantis, president and CEO of the company, said Saturday afternoon that relatives of all five victims had been notified, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.”We send our deepest condolences to their families,” Duplantis said.
The crash occurred amid a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service in Reno for large swaths of Nevada, including parts of Lyon County.