First Thing: Biden accuses Putin of genocide in Ukraine

Show caption Joe Biden speaking to reporters while leaving Des Moines International Airport in Iowa on Monday. Photograph: Alexander Drago/Reuters First Thing First Thing: Biden accuses Putin of genocide in Ukraine US president says Russian leader ‘trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian’. Plus, the first youth-led climate case to go to trial Nicola Slawson Wed 13 Apr 2022 10.56 BST Share on Facebook

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Good morning.

Joe Biden has accused Russia of carrying out genocide in Ukraine, saying that Vladimir Putin is “trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian”.

Biden has been consistently outspoken in denouncing Russia’s wholesale killing of Ukrainian civilians, labelling Putin a “war criminal” in mid-March. Multiple investigations are under way into Russian atrocities in Ukraine, which include the razing of Mariupol and the executions of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

The prosecutor at the international criminal court in The Hague opened a case in February saying there was “a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine”.

Proving a case under the 1948 Genocide Convention requires an “intent [by the accused] to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

What did Biden say? “More evidence is coming out of the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine. And we’re going to only learn more and more about the devastation. We’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me.”

What else is happening? Here’s what we know on day 49 of the invasion.

Brooklyn shooting: police search for suspect after more than 20 injured

Members of the New York police department and emergency vehicles crowd the streets in Sunset Park after the shooting. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

A gunman wearing a gas mask filled a crowded New York subway car with thick black smoke from a canister and opened fire on morning rush-hour passengers, injuring more than 20, including 10 with gunshot wounds.

A hunt was under way yesterday after the shooter fled the scene. A 9mm semi-automatic handgun and extended magazines, a hatchet, a black garbage can, detonated and undetonated smoke grenades and a key to a U-Haul van were also found at the scene, authorities said. Officers located the vehicle, which will be examined by a bomb squad.

Injured passengers sustained bullet wounds, smoke inhalation and the physical effects of panic. Nobody was reported to be in life-threatening condition.

Biden said on Tuesday afternoon: “We’re not letting up until we find the perpetrator.” He thanked professional first responders and civilians who rushed to help their fellow travelers amid the panic.

Do we know anything about the suspect? As of late Tuesday night, officials had no one in police custody, but authorities named Frank James, 62, as a person of interest in connection to the shooting. A $50,000 reward has been offered for information.

Report raises alarm on ‘insidious’ effort to undermine US democracy

Kamala Harris and civil rights leaders commemorate the 57th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Photograph: Brynn Anderson/AP

An “insidious and coordinated” effort between lawmakers and extremist groups is under way to undermine American democracy, according to a new report.

On Tuesday, the nonpartisan civil rights organization National Urban League released the annual report in its analysis series The State of Black America. The report, called Under Siege: The Plot to Destroy Democracy, outlines the “conspiracy and the urgent case for a national mobilization to protect and defend our most sacred constitutional right”.

It focuses on four main tactics that it says are used in this effort: gerrymandering, voter suppression, misinformation and intimidation.

In 2021 alone, 20 states everaged census data to redraw congressional maps, it noted. The new maps proposed by Republican state lawmakers “are no more than modern-day gerrymandering that strips voting power away from communities with Black and brown voters”, the report said.

What else does the report say? “The burden of these laws – strict photo ID requirements, the elimination or restriction of Sunday voting, voting by mail and early voting, and the closing of polling locations – overwhelmingly falls on Black voters,” Marc Morial, the president and chief executive of NUL, said in the report.

In other news …

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson were fined for attending a party on 19 June 2020 in the cabinet room. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/PA

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, have been given fixed-penalty notices for contravening their own Covid law, becoming the first sitting prime minister and chancellor to face sanctions for breaking the law. Johnson has rejected furious calls to quit.

A former Xinjiang detainee has arrived in the US to testify over repeated torture he says he was subjected to in one of China’s mass detention camps . Ovalbek Turdakun was given special authorization to enter the US after he alleged he had been imprisoned without a fair trial and tortured repeatedly.

A Twitter shareholder is suing Elon Musk for failing to disclose that he had bought a substantial stake in the company, affecting share prices. The Tesla chief executive acquired a 9.2% stake in Twitter but it took several weeks for him to reveal this, violating federal law requiring disclosure within 10 days.

Sherri Papini, the northern California woman charged last month with faking her kidnapping in 2016, admitted she had made up the story that prompted a frantic search and international headlines. She accepted a plea bargain with prosecutors yesterday and said she was “deeply ashamed”.

Stat of the day: if Marilyn sells for $200m, Warhol will be worth more than Picasso

A press conference in front of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol, to announce the auction. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe, probably his most recognised work, will go on auction at Christie’s in New York in May. If Christie’s has got its estimate right, it will sell for about $200m (£150m). That will make it the most expensive 20th-century work of art ever auctioned. The current record is held by Picasso, so Andy will be established as bigger than Pablo and therefore the greatest artist of the modern age – at least according to an equation of artistic and monetary value he himself invented.

Don’t miss this: can we trust beauty products are safe?

The personal care products we consume, often without thought, are not nearly as safe as we may think. Photograph: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

A shocking new docu-series thrusts the highly unregulated and dangerous world of cosmetics into the spotlight. Not So Pretty, a new HBO Max documentary series from the investigative film-makers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, looks at toxic chemicals in the beauty industry and the lax regulation, lack of oversight and corporate lobbying that allows for routine US consumer exposure to dangerous substances.

Climate check: young Montanans wage historic climate fight

Youth climate activists march from the White House to the US Capitol earlier this year. Photograph: Bryan Olin Dozier/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Sixteen young people are suing the state of Montana for failing to protect their generation from irreversible harm brought by the climate crisis in what will be the first youth-led climate case to make it to trial. Their case, Held v State of Montana, argues that state lawmakers have prioritized the business interests of the fossil fuel industry over their future. Experts say a decision in favor of the 16 youth plaintiffs could have sweeping implications across the US.

Last Thing: elusive ivory-bill woodpecker not extinct, researchers say

A photo taken from movie footage recorded by Arthur Allen in Louisiana in 1935, showing an ivory-billed woodpecker. Photograph: Arthur Allen/Cornell Lab of Ornithology/AFP/Getty Images

In terms of elusiveness, it is the Bigfoot or Loch Ness monster of the bird world, so rare and undetectable that the US government declared it extinct last year. But the ivory-bill woodpecker is, in fact, still alive and pecking in the forests of Louisiana, a team of researchers has claimed. A series of grainy pictures and observations of the bird, which had its last widely accepted sighting in 1944, show that the furtive woodpecker is still holding on in the swampy forests of the US south.

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