Hard Numbers: Russian artist pays “price” for anti-war campaign, West Bank settler violence surges, US “lawmakers” fail to live up to the name, Liberians make their choice, Starbucks employees go on strike
7: Numbers are not a crime! Except in Russia, where a St. Petersburg court has sentenced 33-year-old artist Sasha Skochilenko to seven years in prison for spreading “false information” about the Russian army. Skochilenko was arrested for replacing the price labels at a local supermarket with Hard Numbers-style stickers carrying new “prices” and descriptions like “The Russian army bombed an art school in Mariupol killing 400 people,” or “I haven’t heard from my sister in Ukraine in eight days.”
973: With the world’s attention on Gaza, attacks by Jewish settlers have driven at least 963 Palestinians from their West Bank homes since Oct. 7, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. That’s nearly double the number of expulsions that occurred in the two years prior to Hamas’ recent attack on Israel. Israel’s far-right security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, has been open about his aim to arm settlers with military-style rifles from the US.
21: What’s going on up on Capitol Hill these days? Not much, it seems. So far this year, Congress has written just 21 laws, the slowest pace for a Congress since the early 1930s. The multiple fiascos surrounding House leadership are part of it, sure, but still — you quite literally have one job, “lawmakers”! One job!
50.6: With some 87% of Liberia’s polling stations reporting, Liberian opposition leader Joseph Boakai late on Thursday had notched 50.6% of the presidential vote against incumbent George Weah’s 49.4%. The runoff is a rematch of the 2017 vote, which brought former soccer star Weah to office in the country’s first ever democratic transfer of power. Weah is credited with infrastructure improvements but has faced protests over corruption and inflation.
200: How about some frothy labor relations to go with that pumpkin spice latte? Thousands of unionized workers at as many as 200 Starbucks locations walked off the job Thursday, citing ongoing grievances about being overworked and understaffed, particularly during promotions when customer demands surge (Thursday was the annual “Red Cup” giveaway day). Starbucks Workers United represents workers at about 3% of the company’s 9,300 US locations.