On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Biden calls for war crimes trial against Putin
The latest horror comes in Bucha, Ukraine, outside Kyiv. White House reporter Rebecca Morin explains Biden’s comments. Plus, we look at other developments inside Ukraine, Amazon workers unionize in New York, politics reporter Dylan Wells has the latest on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court and Kansas wins the men’s college basketball championship.
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Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday the 5th of April, 2022. Today, the latest war crimes accusation surrounding Russian president Vladimir Putin. Plus, how Amazon workers in New York unionized, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- A suspect has been arrested after this weekend’s mass shooting in Sacramento that left six dead. 26 year old Dandrae Martin was taken into custody, though police say more arrests are expected.
- People living in poorer counties have died of COVID-19 at nearly two times the rate of those in wealthier counties, that’s according to a report out yesterday from a national civil rights group and research organizations.
- And an eight month old baby with a rare heart disease finally got a new heart last week. Elodie Carmen Baker had been waiting for 218 days.
President Joe Biden yesterday made his latest strong statement about Russian president Vladimir Putin.
President Joe Biden:
You may remember, I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal. Well, the truth of the matter, you saw what happened in Bucha, this warrants him… He is a war criminal. But we have to gather the information, we have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight, and we have to gather all the detail so this could be actual have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it.
So what would happen next if Putin were to be charged with war crimes? White House reporter Rebecca Morin has more.
President Joe Biden basically criticized Russian president Vladimir Putin as a war criminal for the recent reports of atrocities in Ukraine. He also said that he would like to see a war crimes trial against Putin. And there are discussions on more sanctions for Russia after these atrocities were reported.
So at the White House press briefing, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the next step is to talk with allies on how are they going to approach a war crimes trial, whether it’s with the International Criminal Court.
The next really big step is gathering facts, trying to gather as much evidence that they can have for a trial. Jake Sullivan, again at the White House press briefing, said that they are going to again talk with allies on how to approach new sanctions. He did say new sanctions will be announced later this week.
The West’s latest cries of war crimes committed by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine come after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the town of Bucha outside Kyiv yesterday. Ukrainian officials say the bodies of hundreds of civilians were found there and other towns around the capital after the recent retreat of Russian troops. Some of the bodies lying around Bucha have been buried in a mass grave outside a church in the center of town. Father Andrii Galavin, priest at the Church of St. Andrew and All Saints in Bucha, described recent scenes.
Taylor Wilson translating for Andrii Galavin:
“Under the Russian occupation, people were dying. A lot of people were killed in cars while trying to evacuate the city. A lot of people were killed by explosions and gunshots, and bodies were lying on streets. The morgue was full. It wasn’t possible to bury people at the cemetery since we were not able to physically reach the cemetery. Peaceful civilians going to the cemetery could have been killed on the way.”
Ukraine’s military says Russian forces are preparing an increased offensive on Ukraine’s Southeast as Russia looks to gain control of the country’s industrial heartland called the Donbas. Today, President Zelenskyy will speak to the UN Security Council amid demands for war crime investigations.
Amazon workers on Staten Island, New York voted to unionize on Friday. The move marked the first successful US organizing effort in the retail giant’s history. Reactions after the vote were mixed from employees. Zion Harrison voted for unionization, Catalina Flores voted against.
But this is a very hard working job. People do work a lot of hours. So working hard definitely pays off. Definitely.
I personally, for someone who’s saying no, it’s like, okay, they won. I’m not going to be like, “Ah, I’m going to leave Amazon,” because of it. It is what it is. So there are some employees that said… They were so non-employee. They were pro, for union, right? And there was others who I talked to and they said, “No, I’m not going to because nothing’s guaranteed. What’s the point? Nothing’s going to change.”
Beyond just making history at Amazon, the vote is historic in American labor history, and it might be a sign of what’s to come. Professor John Logan from San Francisco State University is an expert in labor and employment studies.
Professor John Logan:
I think it’s almost impossible to exaggerate the significance of that victory at Amazon. I mean, this really is the most important union victory in a hundred years. But the campaign itself was really remarkable because it was what I would call sort of worker-led self-organization.
I mean, all of the activists in the campaign, all of the key people for Amazon warehouse workers, I’m really not sure not just that the Amazon Labor Union would not have been successful two or three years ago, I actually don’t think any union would have been successful two or three years ago. We’re in a different moment right now, and they were able to take advantage of that. A lot of the workers at Staten Island and also at Bessemer – we had an election down there that was very, very close – simply felt that they weren’t being treated justly, they weren’t being treated with respect. And the Amazon Labor Union, to its great credit, was able to convince, to persuade them that the way to get respect at work was by having a seat at the bargaining table through the Amazon Labor Union.
The most direct comparison is probably Starbucks. They had two victories in Buffalo, New York last December. It’s now spread to over 170 stores have filed for union elections. They’ve won 10 out of the 11 elections that have taken place so far. So, Amazon desperately wants to avoid that type of contagion. First contracts can be really difficult for unions. Negotiations can drag on for months and months and months because the company’s deliberately through delaying tactics, through so-called hard bargaining… But Amazon is going to be in the spotlight like no other company. The American public has a far more direct relationship with Starbucks and Amazon than it ever did with General Motors or Ford in the 1930s and 1940s.
About 55% of votes went in favor of the union, which was started by former employee Chris Smalls. He initially led a walkout of employees in 2020 over safety conditions amid the pandemic. He was fired after that event, with Amazon claiming it was because he violated social distancing guidelines. Amazon has generally fought hard against organizing attempts. They’ve used a range of efforts leading up to elections, including holding mandatory meetings where unions were criticized.
Also, according to leaked company notes acquired by VICE News, Amazon had a strategy to smear Chris Smalls. A memo in response to regulatory or media inquiry about Smalls read, “We should spend the first part of our response strongly laying out the case for why the organizer’s conduct was immoral, unacceptable and arguably illegal in detail, and only then follow with our usual talking points about worker safety. He’s not smart or articulate. And to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers.” You can follow along with more coverage of the Amazon union at USATODAY.com.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic nomination to become the first Black woman on the Supreme Court moved one step closer yesterday. Politics reporter Dylan Wells has more.
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee met to vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court. And as expected, the committee split 50/50 Democrats versus Republicans on Jackson’s nomination, meaning that it was a tie. And because of that, then the Senate as a whole had to vote on a motion to discharge that nomination from the committee. And they did that successfully, with 53 voting in favor, including three Republicans: Senator Susan Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Mitt Romney. And Murkowski and Romney just announced their support for Jackson on Monday. And now that that vote has happened, Jackson’s nomination will be able to go in front of the full Senate this week for a vote on her confirmation.
We’re expecting Jackson to be confirmed when she goes before the full Senate, given that she now has these three Republicans on board, in addition to the Democratic Caucus. And it just takes a simple majority of supporters to get her over that threshold. The Senate breaks for recess on Friday, and Leader Schumer has said that this will be on the calendar before then. So she should be fully confirmed by the end of the week, barring any unexpected changes. That said, Justice Breyer, who she will be replacing on the court, has said that he will not step down until the end of the current Supreme Court term, which generally happens in the early summer. So for this short period of time, Judge Jackson will be this Supreme Court justice in the wings waiting to take her actual seat on the court until Justice Breyer steps down and officially retires.
The most recent couple of confirmation hearings we’ve seen for Supreme Court justices has been in the case of a death of a sitting justice. For example, Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. And so it is uncommon to have this kind of waiting period, which we now have because Breyer gave this notice that he would be stepping down at the end of this term.
You can find a link to more of Dylan’s work in today’s episode description.
The Kansas Jayhawks are men’s college basketball champions. They took down North Carolina last night in a classic 72 to 69. Carolina led by 15 at halftime before KU came storming back in the biggest comeback in national title game history. USA TODAY Sports’ Mackenzie Salmon and Scott Gleeson try to make sense of it all from New Orleans.
Now, before we get to can Kansas-UNC heartbreak, how did it all fall apart?
Right. So with North Carolina, I mean, being up 15 at half, basketball’s a game of momentum, and what we saw in the second half is Kansas came out a completely different team. And it was almost as if there was a knockout blow in the first half and then there was a counterpunch that Kansas delivered in the second half. And you could just sort of see how, for North Carolina in their head psychologically, it was almost as if they thought that they had the championship won. So to see how Kansas really just responded, and they came out with swagger, right? Kansas did. And so I think with North Carolina, one of the things that happened was they changed and they were able to get some of the momentum back themselves. But ultimately, you could just really feel that Kansas was showing more hunger all throughout the second half.
Bill Self gets his second title. What does this mean for his legacy and for the program?
Right. So the thing about Bill Self is that he wins one national championship in 2008, but for so long when you win a Big 12 regular season championship, he has 16 of them, they’ve had six number one seeds, and a lot of those times they didn’t even get to the Final Four. So he had this underachievement tag that was on him for so long, and this really sheds that. I mean, you could see the relief on Bill Self’s face. You could see him when he’s talking with the players what this means to him. He really just described in the press conference how this is the most special group that he’s ever coached, and that just really speaks volumes to what this team means and what a championship means to him. To get that label off his back and to really go into this upper echelon of coaches who have won multiple championships, it speaks to the program and it speaks to him just showing some resilience as a head coach.
For more wrapping up the college basketball season, head to USA TODAY Sports. And you can find 5 Things every morning wherever you like to get your podcast. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism