On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: World leaders call for war crime investigations in Ukraine
Russia has appeared to target civilian areas in their invasion. Plus, President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Supreme Court correspondent John Fritze looks at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s past decisions, cleanup efforts continue in Japan after an earthquake and national correspondent Marc Ramirez explains how young people are turning to things beyond the church for spiritual fulfillment.
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Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Friday, the18th of March 2022. Today calls of war crimes in Ukraine. Plus Biden speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- The National Transportation Safety Board has found that a 13 year old was driving the pickup truck that hit a van head on this week in West Texas. Nine people died in the crash, including members of a college golf team. The child was among those killed.
- Peru’s constitutional court has approved the release from prison of former president Alberto Fujimori. The former strong man was serving a 25 year sentence on murder and corruption charges.
- And the Green Bay Packers have traded star wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. They’ll get a pair of draft picks in return.
Russian forces have continued their assaults on Ukraine today, with new missile strikes on the edges of the capital of Kyiv and in the western city of Lviv. The city is just miles from the Polish border. And some 200,000 Ukrainians from other parts of the country have fled there looking for safety. But while some of the worst violence has been in the country’s east, Lviv has not been spared. And last weekend, nearly three dozen people were killed in a strike on a training facility, near the city. In Kyiv, at least one person was killed after shelling on Podil, a neighborhood just north of downtown. Meanwhile, some residents are finally fleeing Mariupol, a city on Ukraine’s southeastern coast, cut off from resources after constant shelling for weeks. Some were evacuated to a nearby village controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk’s People’s Republic on Wednesday. Mariupol evacuee, Andre Syrota, spoke of the nightmare in his city.
Taylor Wilson translating for Andre Syrota:
“It was impossible to get out of the basement. The house began to break down. We still have corpses there. I ran up there to find something, to get something. They don’t take the corpses away for seven days. It started to stink, already. It’s scary, very scary. There are bombs all the time. The shells do not stop at all. You sit in the basement and bounce.”
The latest shelling there hit a theater where hundreds of people were said to have taken shelter. More than a day later, there were no reports of deaths, but conflicting reports on whether anyone had emerged from the rubble. Satellite images showed huge white letters, spelling out the word, “children,” in Russian, to alert war planes of who was inside. There are more and more calls that attacks like that amount to war crimes. US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, made those claims yesterday.
President Biden said that, in his opinion, war crimes have been committed in Ukraine. Personally, I agree. Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction of the past three weeks, I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise. Our experts are in the process of documenting and evaluating potential war crimes being committed in Ukraine. We’ll make sure that our findings help international efforts to investigate war crimes and hold those responsible accountable.
The United Nations political chief under Secretary General, Rosemary DiCarlo, called for an investigation into civilian casualties.
President Joe Biden will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping, today. The meeting comes as China remains caught between two sides, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, last month. President Xi has avoided siding totally with either Russia or the West, even as Western leaders have co-signed massive sanctions isolating Russia from much of the world. Russia wants help from China to mitigate those sanctions and even to provide military support. But that means China also, has major leverage toward pushing Russia to stand down. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
This is an opportunity for President Biden to assess where President Xi stands. There’s been, of course, rhetorical support or the absence of clear rhetoric and denunciation, or the absence of enunciation by China of what Russia is doing. This flies in the face, of course, of everything China stands for, including the basic principles of the UN Charter, including the basic principles of respect for sovereignty of nations. So the fact that China has not denounced what Russia is doing, in and of itself, speaks volumes. And it also speaks volumes, not only in Russia and Ukraine, but around the world.
The leaders’ talk comes after National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met on Monday with Yang Jiechi, the Chinese director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission.
Soon after President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, her critics began casting her as a radical left wing activist. That characterization is based on a number of high profile opinions, when she ruled against President Donald Trump’s administration. But how accurate is that view? Supreme Court Correspondent John Fritze looked into it.
So a lot of the criticism that has emerged about Judge Jackson, so far, is focused on this one opinion that she authored involving the former White House Counsel Don McGahn, President Donald Trump’s, former White House counsel. And the case involved a dispute between Congress and the White House over whether McGahn had to testify as part of the congressional impeachment inquiry. This was the second impeachment dealing with Ukraine. Jackson ruled in 2019, that he did have to testify, and in some pretty strong language talked about the presidency not being a king. The President, at the time, was asserting broad immunity for all of his aids. And Jackson just struck that down. And she was partially overturned in the Appeals Court. And this is a thing that Republicans have talked a lot about. In the end, the legal issues weren’t really decided because McGahn struck a deal with congressional lawmakers to testify. And so the case went away on its own. But it’s definitely a case that Republicans are going to bring up at her hearing, and have brought up so far.
I just think that it’s worth pointing out that there have been cases where she has ruled against the Trump administration, but there are also several where she ruled for the Trump administration. And in this story, one of the cases we cite is a case that looks at a number of environmental groups that had challenged the Trump administration’s proposal to build the border wall. This was a section of the border wall in New Mexico. And Department of Homeland Security had sought to waive a bunch of environmental requirements for building that wall. Trump administration wanted to move more quickly. They wanted to waive these environmental rules. A bunch of environmental groups sued. And Jackson said, “Sorry, the law allows the Homeland Security Department to do this, and to waive. These rules are very clear in the law.” And it was a victory for the Trump administration, and not one often noted by her Republican critics.
John is one of the best in the business on the Supreme Court beat. We’ve posted a link in today’s show description to more of his work.
Cleanup efforts will continue today in Japan after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake killed at least four, and injured more than a hundred late Wednesday. The quake hit near Fukushima, in the same region devastated by a magnitude 9 quake and tsunami 11 years ago. That disaster caused nuclear reactor meltdowns, spewing radiation that still makes some parts unlivable. This time around, tsunami waves about a foot high reached shore more than 200 miles north of Tokyo. And more than 2 million homes were without electricity. Tokyo electric power operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where the cooling systems failed in 2011. It said workers at the site, which is being decommissioned, found that tanks holding treated radioactive water were out of alignment from the recent quake.
Across the country, teenagers and young adults are increasingly expanding or redefining their spiritual practices around nontraditional religious activities, that is, instead of a single institution or faith system, according to a recent survey. National Correspondent Marc Ramirez reports on young people turning to everything from activism to martial arts and more for spiritual fulfillment.
I guess for a while, there’s been a pattern overall, just putting in context of people in general falling away from Christianity – from say Protestant and Catholic religions in particular – and people increasingly embracing the idea of either being atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular when asked about the religion. And young people, Millennials specifically, have been leading that charge. But most recently, this survey done by a group called Springtide Research Institute – which is based in Minnesota and looks at the spirituality and religious beliefs of people aged 13 to 25, which is basically, Generation Z – found that they were basically on the same track. That like Millennials, they’re increasingly declaring themselves either atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular, when asked about their religion. Christians are still the majority, but I believe it was 40% of both millennials and Generation Z are describing themselves as not really adhering to any particular faith, or maybe not believing in any God, whatsoever. That’s been the trend.
What this survey also found was that, youths and young adults are citing things like martial arts, yoga, being outside in nature, creating art, participating in activism. They’re increasingly citing activities like those as part of their spiritual fulfillment. And that’s a new trend that Springtide thought was happening here was that, rather than considering traditionally religious things like reading the Bible, or going to Mosque, or being part of a religious group, that teens and young adults and youth were really looking to these other things for fulfillment.
You can find Marc’s full story in today’s episode description. And we’re here with new episodes of 5 Things, seven mornings a week, wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things, from USA TODAY.