President Biden has met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Earlier today, Biden traveled from Israel to the Palestinian Authority’s presidential compound in Bethlehem. Along the way, his motorcade passed billboards and banners protesting U.S. support for Israel’s occupation, as well as the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by Israel’s military last May in the Jenin refugee camp. In a joint news conference with President Abbas, Biden claimed the U.S. continues to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also defended the U.S. response to the killing of Abu Akleh.
President Joe Biden: “She was an American, American citizen, and a proud Palestinian. … I hope that her legacy — her legacy will inspire more young people to carry on her work of reporting the truth and telling stories that are too often overlooked. The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death, and we’ll continue to stand up for media freedom everywhere in the world.”
Biden’s remarks came after he rejected a request by Shireen Abu Akleh’s family to meet with him during his visit to Israel. Abu Akleh’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh, wrote, “We would like Biden to do in Shireen’s case what his and previous US administrations have failed to do when other American citizens were killed by Israel: hold the killers accountable.”
Biden is traveling today from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on a direct flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he’ll meet senior Saudi officials including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Press freedom groups are demanding Biden confront the prince over the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi; in 2018, the CIA concluded bin Salman personally ordered the assassination.
The House of Representatives has approved $839 billion in new military spending for the coming fiscal year. The National Defense Authorization Act passed on a vote of 329 to 101, with the support of 180 Democrats. Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted down an amendment put forward by progressives that would have shaved $100 billion from the Pentagon budget. They also defeated an amendment to reverse an additional $37 billion piled onto President Biden’s record budget request.
Meanwhile, all 208 House Republicans voted against an amendment to the NDAA calling on the Pentagon and federal law enforcement agencies to combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity among government employees.
Texas has sued the Biden administration over new federal rules ordering physicians and hospitals to provide abortions in cases of medical emergencies — even in states where the procedure is banned. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement the Biden administration is seeking to “transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic.”
In Indiana, the doctor who recently provided abortion care to a 10-year-old rape survivor is now under investigation. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced the probe against Dr. Caitlin Bernard in an interview with Fox News’s Jesse Watters Wednesday night.
Attorney General Todd Rokita: “We’re gathering the information. We’re gathering the evidence as we speak. And we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure.”
“Jesse Watters Primetime” was among the shows on Fox News casting doubt on the 10-year-old child’s story. In response to the investigation, Dr. Caitlin Bernard tweeted, “My heart breaks for all survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I am so sad that our country is failing them when they need us most. Doctors must be able to give people the medical care they need, when and where they need it.” Abortion is still legal in Indiana up to 22 weeks into a pregnancy.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has resigned his post in a letter emailed from Singapore, saying Parliament would meet on Saturday to select a new president. Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka to the Maldives aboard a military jet early Wednesday amid massive protests demanding his ouster. His resignation from exile sparked jubilation in the streets of the capital Colombo Thursday, where protesters continue to demand an end to corruption and nepotism they blame for Sri Lanka’s economic collapse.
Damitha Abeyrathne: “The whole country is celebrating today, because it’s a big victory. Actually, this Rajapaksa corrupted family, we never thought we will get this country free from them.”
In Europe, a scorching heat wave fueled by the climate crisis has spawned massive wildfires — from Portugal and Spain to France, Croatia and beyond. Temperatures in Spain hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit this week, nearly breaking a record high set just last year. Much of China is experiencing record heat, with triple-digit temperatures affecting hundreds of millions of people. This comes after China recorded its hottest month of June in six decades.
On Capitol Hill, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin told Democratic leaders Thursday he will not support legislation to combat the climate emergency — or any tax increases on the wealthy and large corporations. It’s the latest blow by Manchin against Joe Biden’s legislative agenda and could spell the death knell for a watered-down version of the Build Back Better package in the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority. The youth-led climate justice group the Sunrise Movement called Manchin’s decision “nothing short of a death sentence,” and climate activist Bill McKibben tweeted in response, “Manchin has taken more money from the fossil fuel industry than anyone else in DC. And the return on that investment has been enormous. Big Oil got its money worth a thousand times over.”
The International Monetary Fund is warning the global economy could soon slip into a recession. IMF Director Kristalina Georgieva said this week price shocks from Russia’s war in Ukraine are making it harder for hundreds of millions of people to purchase food, fuel and other necessities.
China’s Bureau of Statistics said today the economy grew by just 0.4% last quarter compared to a year earlier. That’s China’s lowest rate of growth since the COVID-19 pandemic idled much of its economy in early 2020.
In Brussels, the European Union has asked member states to curb their use of natural gas, amid fears that Russia might further reduce supplies. The EU says nations that increase their reliance on coal will be exempted from carbon emissions reduction goals.
In Argentina, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Buenos Aires Thursday angered by worsening poverty and unemployment. Protesters denounced the government of President Alberto Fernández over its handling of debt with the International Monetary Fund that has hampered Argentina’s economy.
Nahuel Orellana: “Fifty percent of the population is below the poverty line, and the rates of severe poverty are increasing more and more. Inflation for food products is at 8%. They have just changed the minister of economy, and nothing has changed.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has agreed to spend $1.5 billion over the next two years to improve its border enforcement technology in joint efforts with the Biden administration to block asylum seekers from arriving to the United States. López Obrador made the announcement this week during a meeting at the White House with President Joe Biden — fulfilling demands first made by former President Trump, who said Mexico should pay for the border wall.
Three teenagers who were among the 53 asylum seekers who died inside an abandoned, sweltering truck in San Antonio, Texas, last month have been buried. Brothers Jair and Yovani Valencia Olivares, ages 19 and 16, and their cousin, 16-year-old Misael Olivares, were laid to rest Thursday in the state of Veracruz. This is Jair and Yovani’s mother.
Yolanda Valencia: “They wanted to build a house and start a business, not to spend their lives making shoes, because it is tiring work. There are jobs here, but they are very poorly paid. Things go up in price, but wages don’t go up. That’s why they went to look for a better life.”
Twenty-six of the victims were from Mexico.
Mother Jones magazine has published leaked audio of President Trump’s former chief strategist telling his associates Trump had a plan to declare victory on election night in 2020 — even if he was losing. Steve Bannon made the remarks just three days before the election.
Stephen Bannon: “If Trump is losing by 10:00 or 11:00 at night, it’s going to be even crazier. No, because he’s going to sit right there and say, 'They stole it. I'm directing the attorney general to shut down all ballot places in all 50 states.’ It’s going to be — no, he’s not going out easy. If Trump — if Biden is winning, Trump is going to do some crazy shit.”
The Intercept reports the U.S. Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and January 6, 2021 — around the time of the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to overturn the election. A government watchdog with the Homeland Security Department said in a letter to lawmakers this week that the erasure took place shortly after oversight officials requested electronic communications from the Secret Service.