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News brief: Pelosi attacked arraigned; Russia sends missiles; Israeli election

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

David DePape will make his first appearance in court today. He's accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home in San Francisco on Friday and attacking her husband, Paul, with a hammer, fracturing his skull.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Paul Pelosi is recovering from his injuries. The suspect, DePape, has given a statement to investigators. And he told police he wanted to break Nancy Pelosi's kneecaps. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins says the attack was politically motivated.

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BROOKE JENKINS: What is clear based on the evidence that we have thus far is that this house and the speaker herself were specifically targets of the defendant.

INSKEEP: The DA charged DePape with attempted murder. And he is also facing federal charges of attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official.

MARTÍNEZ: Member station KQED's Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez is in San Francisco. He joins us now. DePape is facing charges from the city of San Francisco and the DOJ. Joe, what more do we know about what happened and what his intentions were?

JOE FITZGERALD RODRIGUEZ, BYLINE: Yeah, new charging documents told us a lot more about what happened that night. Monday, we got confirmation from the Department of Justice that DePape's true intention was to kidnap Speaker Nancy Pelosi, torture her, and see her rolled in a wheelchair in front of Congress. Charging documents revealed he had zip ties he intended to use to restrain Paul Pelosi, along with rope, a roll of tape, an extra hammer and a pair each of rubber and cloth gloves.

MARTÍNEZ: Wow. All right. So where's DePape from? What's his digital history?

RODRIGUEZ: DePape isn't from San Francisco. He lives in a nearby city called Richmond. He attended pro-nudism rallies in 2012 in San Francisco with noted local nudist activists. And while that may make him sound like a bit of a San Francisco hippie, blogs he published online show he took a rightward turn in recent years, embracing QAnon conspiracy theories. That connects with what he told police after the attack. He said he was punishing Speaker Pelosi for what he called Democratic Party lies.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So what's next for DePape? What's he facing now and that - now that he's been charged?

RODRIGUEZ: So today will be his first day in court. The public hasn't seen DePape in person since the attack. More evidence might materialize today. A journal was recovered among his belongings, and it may shed more light on his motivations. We also haven't seen the police-worn body camera footage of the incident. According to charging documents, he swung his hammer and struck Paul Pelosi right in front of officers. Yesterday, DA Jenkins described what police saw. First, Pelosi and DePape struggled over a hammer, each with a hand on it.

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JENKINS: The defendant then pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently struck him in the top of his head. The police then immediately apprehended the defendant.

RODRIGUEZ: Jenkins believes DePape is a danger to the public and asked the court to hold him without bail.

MARTÍNEZ: You know, we've seen and heard political leaders from both parties condemn the attack. But the reaction from the fringes, Joe - it's kind of been out there.

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, conspiracy theories have run rampant in right-wing circles after the attack on Pelosi, mostly seizing on early news reports that were later found to be largely inaccurate. DA Jenkins laid out facts that run counter to these conspiracy theories.

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JENKINS: He forced his way into the home through a rear glass door by breaking that glass.

RODRIGUEZ: That countered one conspiracy theory that Paul Pelosi let the assailant in. He didn't.

MARTÍNEZ: That's member station KQED's Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez in San Francisco. Joe, thanks.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

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MARTÍNEZ: Authorities in Ukraine's capital of Kyiv say water service has been restored a day after Russia launched another barrage of missiles across the country. More than 80% of residents in the capital temporarily had no running water after yesterday's attacks.

INSKEEP: Ukraine says it shot down most of these missiles, but enough got through to cause damage. That is one of the developments in the war. Another is on the shores of the Black Sea. Twelve ships safely departed Ukrainian ports yesterday. They carried hundreds of thousands of tons of grain, even though Russia has pulled out of a U.N.-backed agreement for safe passage.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR correspondent Franco Ordoñez is in Odesa, where several of the ships departed. Franco, what can you tell us about these latest attacks?

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Yeah, A, the Ukrainian military says Russia launched more than 50 cruise missiles across the country, but 45 were knocked down. But those that got through caused a lot of damage. You mentioned some of the water issues in Kyiv. The mayor, Vitali Klitschko, also said some 350,000 apartments lost power because of the attack. And the Ukrainians say the Russians are not going after military targets but civilian infrastructure, heat and water. All this as the winter is obviously drawing closer. Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, says the attacks are at least in part in response to the alleged drone strike on Russia's Black Sea fleet off the Crimean Peninsula. And he added, quote, "It wasn't all we could have done."

MARTÍNEZ: Wait. So tell us more about that because Putin also suspended Russia's participation in the grain deal in response to that attack. Some of the ships did get out yesterday, as we mentioned.

ORDOÑEZ: Right. Twelve ships were - left Ukrainian ports yesterday, four from here in Odesa. They were carrying 350,000 tons of grain on their way to Istanbul for inspections before traveling further to Africa and Asia and Europe. There are more being loaded, but there are concerns about what will happen to them and their cargo. There was a huge international outcry from Western leaders calling out Russia's decision and charging them with contributing to rising food prices and global hunger. You know, the White House says Moscow is weaponizing food. President Biden called the actions purely outrageous. I will note, A, that Putin does seem to be leaving the door open a little bit. In a public appearance yesterday, he said, quote, "We are not saying that we are stopping our participation in this operation. We are saying that we are pausing it."

MARTÍNEZ: OK. So it appears the ships that left yesterday are safe. But, I mean, are Ukrainians worried about this ambiguity on the Russians' part?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, I mean, it is a risk. There is no question that people are looking at the fact that these ships got out safely as a positive thing. But what about the next ships that sail? I spoke about this with Elena Neroba. She's a Ukrainian analyst with the grain trading firm Maxigrain.

ELENA NEROBA: Everything looks OK so far, but there is a high risk that Russia can attack this vessel or attack Ukrainian port facilities.

ORDOÑEZ: So, A, there is a lot of uncertainty. It's a really tense time around here. But she points out that Russians have attacked ports in the past. In fact, on Sunday, Russia hit a marine terminal at the Mykolaiv Port, which is just 2 hours, about 2 hours away from Odesa.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Franco Ordoñez in Odesa, Ukraine. Frank, thanks.

ORDOÑEZ: Thanks, A.

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MARTÍNEZ: This past weekend, there was a stunning political defeat for the far right in Brazil's election. Now, today, halfway around the world, Israel is holding its own consequential election.

INSKEEP: Voting has begun. And right-wing candidate Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to stage a comeback. He was, you may recall, forced out of power just last year. But he is a frontrunner in this race, in large part by aligning himself with politicians even farther right.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Daniel Estrin is in Jerusalem. Daniel, what are you hearing so far from voters?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Well, I'm outside the polling place where Benjamin Netanyahu cast his vote this morning. And voters tell me they feel the stakes are really high. You have one group of voters that is really afraid Netanyahu will win and partner with far-right parties that are anti-Arab and anti-LGBTQ. Listen to one gay voter we met, Liron Gur (ph).

LIRON GUR: The right side don't like gay people, don't like Arabs. So I believe if they will be the power, my life will be very bad.

ESTRIN: Now, we've also met right-wing voters who are undecided as they're walking into the polling station. They'd usually vote for Netanyahu's right-wing allies, but this time, they're hesitant. They tell us they find Netanyahu's allies now too far to the right. But we've also met a pro-Netanyahu voter here who sounds very much like Trump supporters in the U.S., believing that Netanyahu's corruption trial is a left-wing attempt to keep him out of power. This is voter Ron Huffman (ph).

RON HUFFMAN: The same stuff they did to Trump with the stolen election, it's exactly like here. They try to steal. Here, the media control the whole things. The media for 15 years pumped that Bibi steal, Bibi corrupted. Now you have a trial, and everything is going down the tube.

ESTRIN: And elections in Israel are really complicated. There are about a dozen main parties running. And so the game is, can Netanyahu cobble together a coalition with enough lawmakers to have a majority in parliament?

MARTÍNEZ: This is Israel's fifth election in 3 1/2 years. Daniel, why does this keep happening?

ESTRIN: You know, there's a political crisis in Israel. About half of the political map supports Netanyahu as leader. The other half opposes him. And election after election, this question has not been resolved. But do not be fooled. This is not like every other election that's come before it in the last 3 1/2 years, not more of the same. This is a dramatic election in terms of Israeli democracy.

MARTÍNEZ: What makes it so? What are the stakes for this?

ESTRIN: Israel broadly is torn between those wanting liberal democracy without a religious Jewish monopoly over parts of public life - they want more joint partnership between Arab and Jewish citizens. And then on the other side, you have lawmakers and voters who want a more nationalistic, religious, Jewish, conservative country, that - they want more control over Arab citizens. They want to weaken the justice system, which could help Netanyahu avoid conviction in his ongoing corruption trial. The stakes are very high. And a lot of it is going to depend on the voter turnout. If enough Palestinian Arab citizens come out to vote, that could tip the scales away from Netanyahu winning. We could also see a stalemate. And in that case, centrist Prime Minister Yair Lapid would stay in power. And we could see a repeat election. That might be the best that the anti-Netanyahu bloc could hope for in this election.

MARTÍNEZ: And, Daniel, this looks like it's going to be a close one, right?

ESTRIN: It's going to be a really close race. It's going to depend on that voter turnout. And we may not even know the results of this election in days, or it might even take weeks before there's enough political maneuvering, negotiations between two parties to make it clear who is going to be Israel's next prime minister.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. When they do figure it out, Daniel, we'll check back in with you. That's NPR's Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem. Daniel, thanks.

ESTRIN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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