У 16 областях України понад 40% дорослого населення вакциновано двома дозами
У 16 областях України понад 40% дорослого населення вакциновано двома дозами
Донфрід говоритиме про можливості дипломатичного прогресу у врегулюванні конфлікту
For many rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, self-incriminating messages, photos and videos that they broadcast on social media before, during and after the insurrection are influencing even their criminal sentences.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson read aloud some of Russell Peterson’s posts about the riot before she sentenced the Pennsylvania man to 30 days imprisonment. “Overall I had fun lol,” Peterson posted on Facebook.
The judge told Peterson that his posts made it “extraordinarily difficult” for her to show him leniency.
The 'lol' particularly stuck in my craw because, as I hope you've come to understand, nothing about January 6th was funny,'' Jackson added.No one locked in a room, cowering under a table for hours, was laughing.”
Among the biggest takeaways so far from the Justice Department’s prosecution of the insurrection is how large a role social media has played, with much of the most damning evidence coming from rioters’ own words and videos.
FBI agents have identified scores of rioters from public posts and records subpoenaed from social media platforms. Prosecutors use the posts to build cases. Judge now are citing defendants’ words and images as factors weighing in favor of tougher sentences.
As of Friday, more than 50 people have been sentenced for federal crimes related to the insurrection. In at least 28 of those cases, prosecutors factored a defendant’s social media posts into their requests for stricter sentences, according to an Associated Press review of court records.
Many rioters used social media to celebrate the violence or spew hateful rhetoric. Others used it to spread misinformation, promote baseless conspiracy theories or play down their actions. Prosecutors also have accused a few defendants of trying to destroy evidence by deleting posts.
Approximately 700 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. About 150 of them have pleaded guilty. More than 20 defendants have been sentenced to jail or prison terms or to time already served behind bars. Over a dozen others received home confinement sentences.
Rioters’ statements, in person or on social media, aren’t the only consideration for prosecutors or judges. Justice Department sentencing memos say defendants also should be judged by whether they engaged in any violence or damaged property, whether they destroyed evidence, how long they spent inside the Capitol, where they went inside the building and whether they have shown sincere remorse.
Prosecutors recommended probation for Indiana hair salon owner Dona Sue Bissey, but Judge Tanya Chutkan sentenced her to two weeks in jail for her participation in the riot. The judge noted that Bisssey posted a screenshot of a Twitter post that read, “This is the First time the U.S. Capitol had been breached since it was attacked by the British in 1814.”
When Ms. Bissey got home, she was not struck with remorse or regret for what she had done,'' Chutkan said.She is celebrating and bragging about her participation in what amounted to an attempted overthrow of the government.”
FBI agents obtained a search warrant for Andrew Ryan Bennett’s Facebook account after getting a tip that the Maryland man live-streamed video from inside the Capitol. Two days before the riot, Bennett posted a Facebook message that said, “You better be ready chaos is coming and I will be in DC on 1/6/2021 fighting for my freedom!”
Judge James Boasberg singled out that post as an “aggravating” factor weighing in favor of house arrest instead of a fully probationary sentence.
The cornerstone of our democratic republic is the peaceful transfer of power after elections,'' the judge told Bennett.What you and others did on January 6th was nothing less than an attempt to undermine that system of government.”
Senior Judge Reggie Walton noted that Lori Ann Vinson publicly expressed pride in her actions at the Capitol during television news interviews and on Facebook.
“I understand that sometimes emotions get in the way and people do and say stupid things, because it was ridiculous what was said. But does that justify me giving a prison sentence or a jail sentence? That’s a hard question for me to ask,” Walton said.
In the case of Felipe Marquez, the judge found social media posts belied serious mental health issues that needed treatment rather than incarceration. Marquez recorded cellphone videos of himself with other rioters inside the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. Back at home in Florida, Marquez posted a YouTube video in which he rapped about his riot experience to the tune of Shaggy’s
It Wasn't Me.'' with lyrics that included,We even fist-bumped police,” and “We were taking selfies.”
In the video, Marquez wore a T-shirt that said, “Property of FBI.”
Prosecutors had recommended a four-month jail sentence, but U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras sentenced him instead to three months of home confinement with mental-health treatment, followed by probation.
I do think you have some serious issues you need to address. That played a large role in my sentencing decision, he said.
Prosecutors asked for a one-month jail sentence for Vinson, but the judge sentenced the Kentucky nurse to five years of probation and ordered her to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 120 hours of community service.
Judge Jackson gave Andrew Wrigley a history lesson before she sentenced the Pennsylvania man to 18 months of probation. Wrigley posted a photo on social media of him holding a 1776 flag during the riot. The judge said the gesture didn’t honor the nation’s founders.
The point of 1776 was to let the people decide who would rule them. But the point of the attack on the Capitol was to stop that from happening,” Jackson said.The point of the attack on the Capitol was to subvert democracy, to substitute the will of the people with the will of the mob.”
Videos captured New Jersey gym owner Scott Fairlamb punching a police officer outside the Capitol. His Facebook and Instagram posts showed he was prepared to commit violence in Washington, D.C., and had no remorse for his actions, prosecutors said.
Senior Judge Royce Lamberth said other rioters in Fairlamb’s position would be “well advised” to join him in pleading guilty.
“You couldn’t have beat this if you went to trial on the evidence that I saw,” Lamberth said before sentencing Fairlamb to 41 months in prison.
But it worked to the advantage of one. Virginia charter boat captain Jacob Hiles likely avoided a stricter sentence by posting videos and photos of him and his cousin at the Capitol. A day after the riot, Hiles received a private Facebook message from a Capitol police officer who said he agreed with Hiles’ “political stance” and encouraged him to delete his incriminating posts, according to prosecutors.
The officer, Michael Angelo Riley, deleted his communications with Hiles, but investigators recovered the messages from Hiles’ Facebook account, prosecutors said. Riley was indicted in October on obstruction charges.
On Monday, Jackson sentenced Hiles to two years of probation. Prosecutors said the case against Riley may have been impossible without Hiles’ cooperation.
Більш заразний, хворіють вакциновані, перебіг неважкий
The eldest daughter of pioneering U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard blasted off aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin commercial space tourism rocket on Saturday, 60 years after her late father’s famed suborbital NASA flight at the dawn of the Space Age.
Laura Shepard Churchley, 74, who was a schoolgirl when her father first streaked into space, was one of six passengers buckled into the cabin of Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft as it lifted off from a launch site outside the west Texas town of Van Horn.
The crew capsule at the top of the fully autonomous, six-story-tall spaceship is designed to soar to an altitude of about 350,000 feet (106 km) before falling back to Earth, descending under a canopy of parachutes to the desert floor for a gentle landing.
The entire flight, from liftoff to touchdown, was expected to last a little more than 10 minutes, with the crew experiencing a few minutes of weightlessness at the very apex of the suborbital flight.
The spacecraft itself is named for Alan Shepard, who in 1961 made history as the second person, and the first American, to travel into space—a 15-minute suborbital flight as one of NASA’s original “Mercury Seven” astronauts. A decade later, Shepard walked on the moon as commander of the Apollo 14 mission, famously hitting two golf galls on the lunar surface.
Churchley was one of two honorary, non-paying guest passengers chosen by Blue Origin for Saturday’s flight. The other is Michael Strahan, 50, a retired National Football League star and co-anchor of ABC television’s “Good Morning America” show.
They were joined by four lesser-known, wealthy customers who paid undisclosed but presumably hefty sums for their New Shepard seats—space industry executive Dylan Taylor, engineer-investor Evan Dick, venture capitalist Lane Bess and his 23-year-old son, Cameron Bess. The Besses made history as the first parent-child pair to fly in space together, according to Blue Origin.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is attending talks that began Saturday among Group of Seven foreign ministers in Liverpool, with a call from British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to unite against authoritarianism.
The appeal from Truss came as ministers from the world’s wealthiest democracies, informally known as the G-7, discuss Russia’s build-up of troops along the border it shares with Ukraine, containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and addressing the military’s seizure of Myanmar.
“We need to come together strongly to stand up to aggressors who are seeking to limit the bounds of freedom and democracy,” Truss said as she opened the two-day session without mentioning specific countries.
The top U.S. diplomat met Friday with Truss and their counterparts from France and Germany and discussed how to advance the Iran nuclear talks. Blinken meets separately Saturday with the foreign ministers of Japan, Italy and Australia.
Blinken will also have a series of in-person meetings with foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as part of a December 9-17 trip that also will take him to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Hawaii.
Blinken’s trip is part of a U.S. effort to further advance its “strategic partnership” with ASEAN as President Joe Biden’s administration aims to begin a new “Indo-Pacific economic framework” in early 2022.
This marks the first time ASEAN countries were included in the G-7 foreign and development ministers’ meeting, being held in Liverpool.
The top diplomats are discussing China’s efforts to increase its influence in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as Russia’s troop buildup in Ukraine and the global coronavirus pandemic.
In Jakarta, Indonesia next week, Blinken will deliver remarks on the significance of the Indo-Pacific region and underscore the importance of the U.S.-Indonesia Strategic Partnership.
“The secretary will have an opportunity to discuss the president’s newly announced Indo-Pacific economic framework,” Daniel Kritenbrink, the State Department’s assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told reporters in a call briefing. “President Biden is committed to elevating U.S.-ASEAN engagement to unprecedented levels,” he added.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim majority nation. Kritenbrink told VOA on Wednesday that Blinken will attend a vaccine clinic hosted by the largest faith-based nongovernmental organization in Indonesia.
Blinken then heads to Malaysia and Thailand, where he will attempt to advance U.S. ties and address shared challenges, including fighting COVID-19, building resilient supply chains, dealing with the climate crisis, and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
The State Department said Blinken will “address the worsening crisis” in Myanmar in each country during his lengthy trip. The military in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, seized power in a February coup, overthrowing the civilian government.
U.S. officials had indicated the new Indo-Pacific economic framework would include broad partnerships with nations in the region in critical areas such as the digital economy and technology, supply chain resiliency, and clean energy.
“The Indo-Pacific region is a critical part of our economy. It’s not just that it accounts for over half of the world’s population and 60% of global GDP” (gross domestic product), Jose Fernandez, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, said in a recent briefing.
“Seven of the top 15 U.S. export markets are in the Indo-Pacific. Two-way trade between the U.S. and the region was over $1.75 trillion,” he added.
There are, however, concerns that the U.S. is lagging behind China in deepening economic and strategic ties with ASEAN.
“ASEAN countries want more from Washington on the economic side, but the Biden administration’s proposed Indo-Pacific economic framework is likely to fall short of their expectations,” said Susannah Patton, a research fellow in the foreign policy and defense program at the United States Studies Center in Sydney.
“After RCEP enters into force, there will be two megatrade pacts in Asia: RCEP and CPTPP, and the United States is in neither,” said Patton, referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“China’s application to join CPTPP, a vehicle that was designed to promote U.S. economic ties with Asia, highlights Washington’s absence,” Patton told VOA Wednesday. Signed in 2018, the CPTPP is a free-trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
In November 2020, 10 ASEAN member states and five additional countries (Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand) signed the RCEP, representing around 30% of the world’s GDP and population. RCEP will come into force in January.
Others said the new Indo-Pacific economic framework appears to be not just about traditional trade, as Washington is signaling strategic interests in the region.
Wayne Lee contributed to this report. Some information for this report was provided by Agence France-Presse, The Associated Press and Reuters.
Гогілашвілі висловив згоду з рішенням міністра Монастирського ініціювати щодо нього дисциплінарне провадження
Згідно з обвинуваченням, під час заворушень у Капітолії Ньюманн напав на офіцерів із металевою перегородкою
In Oslo, Norway, on Friday, dignitaries from around the world gathered to celebrate the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Filipina journalist Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. But as speeches were delivered and medals presented, voices outside Oslo City Hall were asking whether the most prestigious prize in the world, as many believe it to be, has lost its shine.
In recent decades, the prize has sometimes gone to individuals who, many believe, have failed to live up to the standard articulated by the founder of the prize, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. His instruction was that it should go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Perhaps most notably, that includes Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, who was awarded the prize in 2019 for helping to end his country’s long-running war with Eritrea. The prize committee cited his “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.”
Today, Abiy is conducting a brutal war in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region, in which both sides have been accused of a wide range of war crimes.
In 2019, the same year Abiy won the prize, a fellow laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, appeared before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. Suu Kyi, who was the head of Myanmar’s civilian government at the time, was there to insist that the widespread killing and displacement of the ethnic Rohingya people in her country was not a genocide.
Another controversial laureate is former U.S. President Barack Obama, who was nominated for the prize before he had been in office for a month and received the award before he had served even a year. Obama went on to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan during part of his presidency, and he accelerated the use of drone strikes against individuals and groups seen as enemies of the United States.
Controversial awards are nothing new to the Nobel committee. Two members resigned in 1973 when the award was given to then-U.S. national security adviser Henry Kissinger for supposedly helping to arrange a cease-fire in the Vietnam War. Kissinger offered to return the prize two years later, after the fall of Saigon.
In 1994, when Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin were given the prize for efforts to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians, one member of the committee denounced Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as a terrorist and resigned.
Opaque selection process
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is made up of five members selected by the Norwegian parliament. For generations, the committee has been made up primarily of retired politicians. They collect nominations at the beginning of each year and typically announce a winner in October.
All documents and records of the selection process are sealed for 50 years, making it difficult to know exactly what the committee members were thinking during recent deliberations.
This has not made the committee immune from criticism, however.
“The prize is losing credibility,” Unni Turrettini, author of the book Betraying the Nobel: The Secrets and Corruption Behind the Nobel Peace Prize, told VOA. “And when it loses credibility, it loses the potential impact that the prize can have on world peace.”
Turrettini said that populating the prize committee with politicians has led to the impression that its choices are sometimes meant to further the interests of the Norwegian government and its relations with other nations.
“For our country, and as a Norwegian myself, it is in everyone’s interest that we keep the committee independent from Norwegian politics, and that we restore the trust that has been eroded,” she said.
Dispute over Nobel’s intentions
Some believe that the committee has, too often, strayed from Nobel’s original intent.
Norwegian attorney and peace activist Fredrik Heffermehl has been pressuring the committee for well over a decade, insisting that many of its selections have departed so far from Nobel’s instructions, as laid out in his will, that they are effectively illegal.
Heffermehl told VOA that this year’s awarding of the prize to Ressa and Muratov, two journalists who have courageously fought to overcome government repression of the media in their respective home countries, is yet another such departure. While they may be doing admirable work, neither is directly involved in efforts to further what Heffermehl believes to have been Nobel’s ultimate goal: widespread disarmament.
“I’m more disappointed than I’ve been for a very long time,” Heffermehl said. “Very few prizes, particularly the last 20 years, have met Alfred Nobel’s intention.”
Officials associated with the prize committee have vigorously disputed Heffermehl’s interpretation of the instructions for awarding the prize. Olav Njølstad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, has taken to the pages of the country’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten, to accuse Heffermehl of misreading the historical record.
“The Nobel Committee has never accepted this interpretation of the will,” Njølstad wrote. “It does not see that Alfred Nobel has anywhere stated that work for disarmament should be given greater weight than the other forms of peace work to which the will refers.”
An ‘aspirational’ prize
Ron Krebs, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, told VOA that it is important to understand that, particularly in the past 50 years, the Nobel Peace Prize has often had an “aspirational” quality to it. That is, it is sometimes awarded to people who are taking early steps toward goals that the Nobel committee sees as furthering the cause of peace in the world.
That could be said of the prizes awarded to individuals working to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and even the selection of Barack Obama, whose campaign rhetoric had focused on reducing conflict.
“These are the Nobel prize committee saying, ‘We wish to encourage them along this path. We wish to bolster their chances, and we will put our moral weight behind them,'” Krebs said.
Krebs said that can lead people to mistakenly believe that the prize is an endorsement of everything the recipient does or, effectively, will do.
“We need to remember that people who are granted the Nobel Peace Prize are granted it for particular accomplishments, or even particular aspirations,” he said. “But that does not mean that they share all those values that the Nobel prize committee espouses.”
ДПСУ не називає імен та прізвищ порушників, але російська співачка Mary Gu повідомила у Instagram, що їй заборонили в’їзд до України
Three people died in severe weather in Tennessee, one person died and several were injured in an apparent tornado at an Arkansas nursing home, and emergency crews in southern Illinois were responding to reports of workers trapped inside an Amazon warehouse after its roof collapsed from storm damage.
At least one fatality was also reported in Missouri as severe storms, some believed to be tornadoes, swept across the Midwest and parts of the South late Friday and into Saturday morning.
In Tennessee, two storm-related fatalities were reported in Lake County in the state’s northwestern corner, said Dean Flener, spokesperson for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. A third death was reported in neighboring Obion County. Flener said the Tennessee Department of Health confirmed the deaths, however there were no other details immediately released.
A tornado struck the Monette Manor nursing home in Arkansas on Friday night, killing one person and trapping 20 people inside as the building collapsed, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day told The Associated Press.
Five people had serious injuries, and a few others had minor ones, he said. The nursing home has 86 beds.
Day said another nursing home about 32 kilometers away in Truman was badly damaged, but no injuries were reported. The residents were being evacuated because the building is unsafe.
Workers at a National Weather Service office had to take shelter as a tornado passed near their office in Weldon Spring, Missouri, 48 kilometers west of St. Louis. One person died and two others were injured in building collapses near the towns of Defiance and New Melle, both just a few miles from the weather service office.
At least 100 emergency vehicles descended upon the Amazon warehouse near Edwardsville, Illinois, about 40 kilometers east of St. Louis, where a wall that was about the length of a football field collapsed, as did the roof above it.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were hurt, but one person was flown by helicopter to a hospital.
Edwardsville Police Chief Mike Fillback said several people who were in the building were taken by bus to the police station in nearby Pontoon Beach for evaluation. By early Saturday, rescue crews were still sorting through the rubble to determine if anyone was trapped inside. Fillback said the process would last for several more hours. Cranes and backhoes were brought in to help move debris.
“Please be patient with us. Our fire personnel are doing everything they can to reunite everyone with their loved ones,” Fillback said on KMOV-TV.
The Belleville News-Democrat reported that the Amazon fulfillment center in Edwardsville opened with two warehouses in 2016, with 1.5 million square feet of space. The warehouses are used to store items until they are shipped to mail-order customers.
“The safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority right now,” Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said in a written statement Friday night. “We’re assessing the situation and will share additional information when it’s available.”
In the southwestern Kentucky community of Mayfield, several buildings collapsed during the severe weather, said Sarah Burgess, a trooper with the Kentucky State Police.
She said several people were trapped inside a damaged candle factory in Mayfield and that a shift was ongoing when the storm hit.
“The entire building is essentially leveled,” she said.
Although no deaths were immediately reported in Mayfield, coroners were summoned to the community, Burgess said. “We do expect loss of life,” she said.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency early Saturday for what he said was major tornado damage in several western counties. Beshear said the National Guard has been summoned to respond to the region.
Beshear told television station WLKY that some people in the Mayfield factory when the storm hit were “rescued and are safe, but many others are not.”
Photos posted to social media from Mayfield showed uprooted trees, a courthouse steeple sheared off and business windows blown out in the storms.
Farther east in Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University said on Twitter that emergency crews were assessing significant storm damage and that no injuries were immediately reported.
«Це може бути щодо Донбасу, щодо Криму. Це може бути в цілому щодо припинення війни»
«Українські захисники відкривали вогонь у відповідь, не застосовуючи заборонене Мінськими домовленостями озброєння»
Протягом доби також вакцинували понад 168 тисяч людей, з них 112 561 людина – повністю імунізовані
The Justice Department’s decision this week to close its investigation of Emmett Till’s slaying all but ended the possibility of new charges in the teen’s death 66 years ago, yet agents are still probing as many as 20 other civil rights cold cases, including the police killings of 13 Black men in three Southern states decades ago.
The department is reviewing the killings of six men shot by police during a racial rebellion in Augusta, Georgia, in 1970, according to the agency’s latest report to Congress. The city best known for hosting golf’s Masters Tournament had been engulfed by riots after a Black teenager was beaten to death in the county jail.
The agency also is investigating the killings of seven other Black men involved in student protests in South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana during the societal upheaval of the late 1960s and early ’70s. And investigators are looking at cases in which seven more individuals were killed, including a girl in Pennsylvania, the report showed.
Suspects were already tried and acquitted in some of these killings, making prosecution on the same charges all but impossible. Fading memories, lost evidence and the death of potential witnesses almost always pose problems in the quest for justice in decades-old cases.
Still, in Georgia, a leader of a group formed to tell the story of the “Augusta Six” — John Bennett, Sammie L. McCullough, Charlie Mack Murphy, James Stokes, Mack Wilson and William Wright Jr. — hopes some type of justice will prevail for the victims’ families, even if it’s not a criminal conviction.
“With the Justice Department’s stamp on it, even a statement that the killings were wrongful would help even if there’s no prosecutions. I think that would be very helpful for the community,” said John Hayes of the 1970 Augusta Riot Observance Committee.
The Justice Department said Monday it had ended its investigation into the 1955 lynching of Till, the Black teenager from Chicago who was tortured, killed and thrown in a river in Mississippi after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman at a rural store. Two white men who were acquitted by all-white juries later confessed to the killing in a paid magazine interview, but both are dead and officials said no new charges were possible.
The Justice Department Cold Case Initiative began in 2006 and was formalized the following year under a law named for Till, whose slaying came to illustrate the depth and brutality of racial hatred in the Jim Crow South. Initially created to investigate other unresolved cases of the civil rights era, it was later expanded to include more recent cases, including killings that occurred in cities and on college campuses during demonstrations against the Vietnam War and racism.
In Augusta, as many as 3,000 people were estimated to have participated in protests and rioting that followed the death of 16-year-old Charles Oatman, who was beaten to death while being held in the jail. Frustration over his death and years of complaints over racial inequity erupted in unrest that left an estimated $1 million in damage across a wide area.
Once the gunfire ended early on May 12, 1970, six Black men were dead from shots fired by police, authorities said. Two white officers were charged, one with killing John Stokes and the other with wounding another person, but both were acquitted by all- or mostly white juries.
Families are still grieving, Hayes said, but the killings generally aren’t discussed much in Augusta.
“There’s a lot of trauma there and things people don’t want to bring up,” said Hayes, whose group is in contact with relatives of half the victims.
The other police shootings under review were sparked by campus demonstrations amid simmering resentment over mistreatment of Black people.
Three men were killed on Feb. 8, 1968, during protests to desegregate a bowling alley near South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Nine state police officers were acquitted in what came to be known as the “Orangeburg Massacre,” and a campus sports arena now honors the three victims, Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton and Henry Smith.
Phillip Gibbs and James Earl Green were killed by police during a student demonstration at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, on May 15, 1970, and Leonard Brown and Denver Smith were gunned down during a protest at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Nov. 16, 1972. No one was ever prosecuted for the killings in Jackson or Baton Rouge.
The seven other cases still under review by the Justice Department span the years 1959 through 1970 and involve individuals. The victims include 9-year-old Donna Reason, killed on May 18, 1970, when someone threw a Molotov cocktail into the home of her mixed-race family in Chester, Pennsylvania. No one was ever arrested.
A month after the U.N. climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, known as COP26, politicians, analysts and climate action advocates are taking stock of what was agreed to. And the consensus is that while substantial progress was made in a number of areas, there wasn’t enough.
The world still remains off track to avert a climate crisis and is falling short of limiting global warming to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a goal set at previous talks in Paris in 2015. And it remains off track despite deals to cut carbon and methane emissions, end deforestation, reduce the use of coal, and a renewed pledge of financing for poorer countries most vulnerable to extreme weather.
Britain’s own Climate Change Committee, an independent, statutory body established to advise the UK government on emission targets, says COP26 “marked a step forward in global efforts to address climate change.”
It says there was an increase in ambitions to reduce emissions across the world and it lists as achievements the “finalization of rules on reporting emissions and international carbon trading, and the launch of a range of new initiatives and sector deals.”
However, the committee added, “How far this can be considered a success will depend on follow-up actions over the coming year and beyond.”
For many climate activists, the two-week summit was just more noise. Teenage activist Greta Thunberg dubbed COP26 “a global north greenwash festival.”
But some serious analysts also agree the summit should be marked a failure, because it didn’t reach the goals it set itself.
“Was COP26 a failure? If we evaluate this using the summit’s original stated goals, the answer is yes, it fell short. Two big ticket items weren’t realized: renewing targets for 2030 that align with limiting warming to 1.5℃, and an agreement on accelerating the phase-out of coal,” Robert Hales and Brendan Mackey, academics from Australia’s Griffith University, concluded in a commentary for The Conversation website.
Because of a last-minute intervention by India, an agreement to accelerate the phasing-out of coal was watered down in the final communique to the much vaguer “phasing-down” of coal.
But Hales and Mackey also say at COP26 “there were important decisions and notable bright spots.” They say COP26 may well be seen later as the moment the world took “an unambiguous turn away from fossil fuel as a source of energy,” and they highlight COP26’s emphasis on the importance of mitigating damage to nature and ecosystems, including protecting forests and biodiversity.
In a side deal at Glasgow, 124 other countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030.Other analysts praise the final pact urging countries to deliver on an outstanding promise to deliver $100 billion per year for five years to developing countries vulnerable to climate damage to help them with adaptation and to develop resilient infrastructure. Many developing nations are already seeing dwindling crop yields and are experiencing devastating storms.
Rob Stavins, professor of Energy and Economic Development at Harvard University, remains cautiously optimistic and says assessing COP26’s success and failure is “both simplistic and obscures much of the purpose and function of these annual negotiations.”
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he told the Harvard Gazette. “To continue that metaphor: It’s a relay race and the fundamental thing about an individual Conference of the Parties in any given year is that you don’t drop the baton when you pass it off to the next one. And this was a reasonable pass off to the next Conference of the Parties.” The next global climate talks are scheduled next year in Egypt.
Stavins says before the 2015 Paris talks, the world was heading for 3.7 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of this century. After COP21, the trajectory was reduced to 2.7 degrees of warming. The updated emission reduction targets agreed to at Glasgow cut the trajectory further to 2.4 degrees Celsius.
“And then, if you add in all of the statements from countries about net zero emissions by the year 2050, as well as private industry statements, we could be at about 1.8 degrees centigrade,” he says.
That keeps the 1.5 Celsius goal within reach, the chairman of COP26, Alok Sharma, said in his concluding remarks in Glasgow, although he noted, its “pulse remains weak.”
Who will pay?
Weak or not, some worry that governments, especially Western ones, may be going too fast with decarbonizing and risk losing the support of their own populations by failing to take into account the economic impact of the monumental shifts envisaged.
Opinion polls suggest that across the globe, overwhelming majorities of people see climate change as an emergency requiring radical action. But some polls in recent weeks have also suggested that when people are told what the costs to them may be to curb global warming, they are reluctant to shoulder the financial burden.
COP26 saw plenty of discussions about how to fund the transition away from fossil fuel dependency to renewable, sustainable energy and how to finance projects to make countries more resilient to extreme weather. But there was little clarity about how the costs should be shared among governments (via taxation), consumers, households and the private sector.
At Glasgow, major banks, investors and insurers pledged trillions in green funding in a coordinated commitment to incorporate carbon emissions into their investment and lending decisions. The commitment was made by more than 450 financial institutions across 45 countries managing assets valued at $130 trillion.”
These seemingly arcane but essential changes to the plumbing of finance can move and are moving climate changes from the fringes to the forefront and transforming the financial system in the process,” Mark Carney, a former head of the central banks of England and Canada, said when announcing the pledge. “The architecture of the global financial system has been transformed to deliver net zero,” he added.
But some industry analysts and economists cautioned the private sector plans are far from concrete, and that significant problems remain on how to measure the carbon footprint of investment portfolios and align those measurements across international financial markets. Of particular concern is how to verify the accuracy of what banks and investors report.
Others worry that financial firms are there to maximize profits for clients and shareholders and that they risk losing customers or breaching their fiduciary obligations if they fail to maintain good returns. It remains unclear at this stage how profitable green investments will be.
President Joe Biden is seeking to reassure Ukraine that his strategy to prevent a Russian military invasion will work, amid continued tensions over a massive Russian troop buildup along their common border. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.
Camera: Nike Ching
When Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and threw its support behind separatists in the country’s east more than seven years ago, Kyiv’s underfunded and disorganized armed forces struggled to mount a credible response.
Now, amid fears that a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine’s border could signal a possible attack, military experts say Moscow would face stronger resistance this time. But they emphasize that Ukraine would be well short of what it needs to counter Russia’s overwhelming land, sea and air superiority.
Still, years of fighting the separatists have given Ukrainian veterans such as Colonel Viacheslav Vlasenko the battlefield experience for such a fight.
“In case of Russian aggression, I will have no choice — every Ukrainian is ready to die with arms in hands,” said the highly decorated 53-year-old Vlasenko. “Ukraine will never become a part of Russia. If we have to prove it to the Kremlin that Ukraine has the right for freedom and independence, we are ready for it.”
While Western military assistance has remained limited, Ukraine still received state-of-the-art foreign weaponry, including sophisticated U.S. anti-tank missiles and Turkish drones to provide a heavier punch than it had in years past.
Vlasenko, who spent 4½ years battling the rebels in the east in a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people, said the country now has thousands of highly motivated and battle-hardened troops.
“We Ukrainians are defending our land, and there is no place for us to retreat,” he said, adding that he takes his 13-year-old son to target practice so that he knows “who our enemy is and learns to defend himself and fight back.”
Earlier this week, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised Ukraine’s soldiers during a visit to an area near the conflict zone to mark a military holiday.
“Ukrainian servicemen are continuing to perform their most important mission — to protect the freedom and sovereignty of the state from the Russian aggressor,” Zelenskiy said.
Russian troop movements
U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russia has moved 70,000 troops near Ukraine’s border and has prepared for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow has denied any plans to attack Ukraine, rejecting Western concerns as part of a smear campaign.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a videoconference that Moscow would face “economic consequences like you’ve never seen” if it invades Ukraine, although he noted that Washington would not deploy its military forces there.
Putin reaffirmed his denial of planning to attack Ukraine but emphasized that NATO’s possible expansion to Ukraine was a “red line” for Moscow.
If Russia attacks its neighbor, the 1 million-member Russian military would inevitably overwhelm Ukraine’s armed forces, which number about 255,000. But in addition to a promised heavy economic blow from Western sanctions, Russia would also stand to suffer significant military losses that would dent Putin’s image at home.
Ukrainian veterans and military analysts say the country won’t surrender territory without a fight this time, unlike seven years ago in Crimea, where Russian troops in unmarked uniforms faced virtually no resistance in overtaking the Black Sea peninsula.
“Ukraine will not become easy prey for the Russians. There will be a bloodbath,” Vlasenko said. “Putin will get hundreds and thousands of coffins floating from Ukraine to Russia.”
Weeks after annexing Crimea, Russia began supporting the separatist uprising in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, known as the Donbass. Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of supplying the rebels with troops and weapons — accusations that Moscow has denied, saying that any Russians fighting there were volunteers.
A series of bruising military defeats forced Ukraine to sign a 2015 peace agreement brokered by France and Germany that envisaged broad autonomy for the separatist regions and a sweeping amnesty for the rebels. The deal was seen by many in Ukraine as a betrayal of its national interests. While it has helped end large-scale fighting, frequent skirmishes have continued amid a political deadlock as Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations.
Western aid to Ukraine
Mykola Sunhurovskyi, a top military analyst for the Kyiv-based Razumkov Center independent think tank, said the Ukrainian military has made much progress in recent years, thanks to Western equipment and training.
“The army today is much stronger than it was in early 2014, and Russia will face serious resistance,” he said.
The Western aid included Javelin anti-tank missiles and patrol boats supplied by the United States. The U.S. and other NATO forces have conducted joint drills with the Ukrainian military in exercises that have vexed Russia. Last month, Ukraine signed an agreement with the U.K. for building naval bases on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Still, Sunhurovskyi argued that the Western assistance was not enough.
“The military aid given by the West is far from what Ukraine needs,” Sunhurovskyi said, adding that its slow pace was also a key problem. “The assistance is needed within two months, not two or three years. There are huge gaps in the Ukrainian military potential that need to be taken care of.”
He pointed to Ukraine’s air defenses in particular.
“The air defense system isn’t ready for repelling massive airstrikes by Russia,” Sunhurovskyi said, adding that Ukraine also lacks advanced electronic warfare systems and has a shortage of artillery and missiles.
Morale is not a problem, he said.
“From the point of view of combat spirit, Ukraine is ready for war, but there are issues with the technological level of the Ukrainian military, which is below what is needed to deter Russia from launching an attack,” he said.
Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s military “has come a difficult way to the creation of a highly capable and highly organized combat structure that is confident of its potential and capable of derailing any aggressive plans by the enemy.” On Thursday, he spoke with Biden, who briefed him on the discussion with Putin.
The analysts also said Russia would have to be prepared for a nationwide resistance campaign from Ukrainian veterans after any invasion.
“If it launches an aggression, Russia will face a large-scale guerrilla war in Ukraine, and the infrastructure for it has already been set,” said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Kyiv-based Penta think tank. “Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers served in the east, and there is a local hero in every courtyard who fought the separatists and the Russians.”
More U.S. states desperate to fight COVID-19 are calling on the National Guard and other military personnel to assist virus-weary medical staffs at hospitals and other care centers.
Unvaccinated people are overwhelming hospitals in certain states, especially in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest. New York, meanwhile, announced a statewide indoor mask order, effective Monday and lasting five weeks through the holiday season.
“We’re entering a time of uncertainty, and we could either plateau here or our cases could get out of control,” Governor Kathy Hochul warned Friday.
In Michigan, health director Elizabeth Hertel was equally blunt: “I want to be absolutely clear: You are risking serious illness, hospitalization and even death” without a vaccination.
The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks to 117,677 by Thursday, compared to 84,756 on Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has soared to about 54,000 on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, the country is approaching a new milestone of 800,000 COVID-19 deaths. More than 200 million Americans, or about 60% of the population, are now fully vaccinated.
In Maine, which hit a pandemic high this week with nearly 400 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, as many as 75 members of the National Guard were being summoned to try to keep people out of critical care with monoclonal antibodies and to perform other non-clinical tasks.
Maine has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country – 73% – but that rate lags in many of the state’s rural pockets.
The New York National Guard said it had deployed 120 Army medics and Air Force medical technicians to 12 nursing homes and long-term care facilities to relieve fatigued staff.
Dr. Paolo Marciano, chief medical officer at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan, said it was a “tremendous lifeline” to get assistance from the Defense Department, which has more than 60 nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists assigned to the state.
“It allowed us to be able to care for the COVID patients and at the same time still maintain the level of care that cancer patients require or people with chronic illnesses,” Marciano said. “Where we are today is really just keeping our heads above water.”
New York’s mask order covers all indoor public places unless a business or venue has a vaccine requirement. The state reported more than 68,000 positive tests for the virus in a seven-day period that ended Wednesday, the most for any seven-day stretch since February.
New York City and several upstate New York counties already have mask mandates. Critics, however, said the governor’s announcement was another burden for businesses.
“Government overreach at its worst,” said Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler.
Michigan is sending more ventilators to hospitals and asking for even more from the national stockpile. Infection rates and hospitalizations are at record levels, 21 months into the pandemic. The first case of the omicron variant was confirmed Thursday in the Grand Rapids area.
The largest hospital system in Indiana enlisted the National Guard for support this week after the number of COVID-19 patients in the state more than doubled in the past month. The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are now higher than Indiana’s summer surge that peaked in September and are approaching the pandemic peak reached in late 2020.
As the two-day virtual Summit for Democracy hosted by President Joe Biden wrapped up on Friday, the U.S., Australia, Denmark and Norway announced an export control program to monitor and restrict the spread of technologies used to violate human rights. The U.S. is also launching programs to support independent media and anti-corruption efforts and defend free and fair elections. White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara has more.