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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

First Thing: US and allies to hit Russia with new sanctions | US news

Good morning.

The United States and its allies are preparing to impose new sanctions on Moscow over civilian killings in Ukraine as the west makes a fresh attempt to cripple Vladimir Putin’s economy and war effort.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described the atrocities in his country as “war crimes” while Ukraine authorities said more than 4,400 incidents were being investigated.

“Russia will be responsible for Bucha in The Hague,” Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said in a statement.

The White House said sanctions to be unveiled today were in part a response to what has happened in Bucha. The measures, coordinated between Washington, G7 economies and the European Union, will target Russian banks and officials and ban new investment in Russia.

  • What did Zelenskiy tell the UN security council? The president gave a vivid eyewitness account of what he had seen in Bucha, a town near the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. “They cut off limbs, slashed their throats, women were raped and killed in front of their children,” he said unsparingly.

  • What did he ask the UN to do? He called for Nuremberg-style trials – given Russia can veto any effort by the security council to prosecute Putin for war crimes, there may not be much hope of that.

  • What else is happening? Here’s what we know on day 42 of the Russian invasion.

Back to the future as Obama sprinkles some stardust on Biden White House

Joe Biden fist-bumps Barack Obama after Biden signed an executive order aimed at strengthening the Affordable Care Act.
Joe Biden fist-bumps Barack Obama after Biden signed an executive order aimed at strengthening the Affordable Care Act. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

It was Back to the Future at the White House. Starring Barack Obama as Marty McFly and Joe Biden as Doc Brown, writes David Smith. And ignoring Donald Trump as Biff Tannen, a four-year rupture in the space-time continuum.

Obama returned to the White House on Tuesday for the first time since the bleak winter morning in January 2017 when he departed it alongside Trump, who seemed intent on erasing the first Black president.

Like a star pupil going back to his old school, proud and shiny with career accomplishments, the 44th US president was greeted by gushing staff probably too polite to mention his ever-greying hair. He was hosted in the Oval Office by the protege who happens to be 19-years his senior.

They had lunch, just like they used to when Obama was in charge and Biden was vice-president. “We weren’t sure who was supposed to sit where,” the 46th president said later with a grin.

  • What did Obama say? After jokingly calling Biden “vice-president”, he talked about what had changed in the White House: “Coming back – even if I have to wear a tie, which I very rarely do these days – gives me a chance to visit with some of the incredible people who serve this White House and who serve this country every single day, a lot of times out of the limelight.”

Chris Smalls’ union win sparks a movement at other Amazon warehouses

Chris Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union, helped co-ordinate the triumphant unionization effort.
Chris Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union, helped co-ordinate the triumphant unionization effort. Photograph: Jason Szenes/EPA

Staff at more than 50 Amazon warehouses have contacted the organizers of last week’s historic vote establishing Amazon’s first union, expressing interest in setting up unions of their own.

“The revolution is here,” said Chris Smalls, who helped coordinate the triumphant campaign at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York.

In a win that shocked labor organizers and observers, Smalls and his co-organizer, Derrick Palmers, succeeded where many other attempts had failed, winning a staff-wide vote to establish the union by 2,654 to 2,131.

The union is a first for Amazon, which is the second largest employer in the US and fought hard to prevent the result. The company launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to stop their efforts, which began in March 2020 when Smalls led a walkout at a Staten Island warehouse over pandemic working conditions.

He was laid off the same day. Amazon alleged that Smalls violated quarantine requirements; Smalls says he was dismissed as retaliation for his protest.

In other news …

Ivanka Trump at a rally last year, just days before the violence of 6 January.
Ivanka Trump at a rally last year, just days before the violence of 6 January. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
  • Ivanka Trump testified before the January 6 committee yesterday, making her the first of Trump’s children known to speak to the committee. “She came in on her own and did not have to be subpoenaed,” Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman said.

  • Bobby Rydell, who enjoyed numerous US hits during the teen pop craze of the early 1960s, has died aged 79. He suffered complications from pneumonia, and died in hospital in his native Philadelphia.

  • US Capitol police have apprehended an “aggressive” suspect accused of attacking Ami Bera, a congressman from California, and others. The alleged assailant: an unusually bold fox. “I expect to get attacked if I go on Fox News; I don’t expect to get attacked by a fox,” Bera said.

  • The Covid-19 outbreak in Shanghai remains “extremely grim” with the continuing lockdown of China’s financial powerhouse threatening to devastate the country’s economy and “tear apart” already very stretched global supply chains.

  • Attacks against the press in Mexico have increased by 85% since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office, making it the most deadly period for journalists since records began, according to a report.

Stat of the day: Total wealth of world’s billionaires has fallen to $12.7tn, says Forbes

Rihanna has made the billionaire list for the first time. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna

The total wealth of the world’s billionaires has dipped from a record high last year amid a drop in global stock markets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite the planet’s richest people still holding a combined $12.7tn (£9.7tn) in assets. According to the annual Forbes magazine ranking of the world richest people, the number of billionaires worldwide fell by 329 to 2,668, with the total value of their combined assets falling slightly from $13.1tn on the 2021 list.

Don’t miss this: The photographer with 60,000 undeveloped images of rock history

Charles Daniels
Charles Daniels took intimate pictures of his friends the Rolling Stones, Hendrix and others – but few have seen the light of day until now. Photograph: Tony Luong/The Guardian

In Charles Daniels’ modest home in Somerville, Massachusetts, lie tens of thousands of undeveloped photos, sitting in molting canisters scrawled with cryptic markings. Most have been sitting there for over five decades, and while Daniels can’t be sure of everything that’s hidden in his trove, he knows for sure that much of it chronicles a pivotal moment in pop culture – when rock acts as impactful as the Who, the Faces, and Jimi Hendrix made their first mark in America.

Climate check: We can tackle climate change if big oil gets out of the way

The report made clear that the obstacles to action over the climate crisis are politics and fossil fuel interests.
The report made clear that the obstacles to action over the climate crisis are politics and fossil fuel interests. Photograph: Alain Pitton/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

The fossil fuel industry and its influence over policy was the major elephant in the room looming over the release of the third and final report, out this week, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading climate authority. The major source of contention: how do you talk about mitigating climate change without confronting the fossil fuel industry? “It’s like Star Wars without Darth Vader,” says environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, of Brown University.

Last Thing: Rare footage discovered of Prince, 11, at 1970 Minneapolis teachers’ strike

Prince performing in 2004.
Prince performing in 2004. Photograph: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Archival footage has been found of the singer Prince at a teachers’ strike in 1970 when he was 11. The video was discovered by WCCO, a CBS News affiliate in Minnesota, and shows film of an April 1970 teachers’ strike. While watching the footage, production manager Matt Liddy noticed a reporter interviewing children, and was particularly struck by one child. “I immediately just went out to the newsroom and started showing people, and saying, ‘I’m not gonna tell you who I think this is, but who do you think this is?’ And every single person [said]: Prince,” said Liddy.

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