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HeadlinesOctober 27, 2023

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“Gaza Is Being Strangled”: U.N. Says Israel’s Siege Will Lead to More Palestinian Deaths

Oct 27, 2023

The United Nations has warned that many more Palestinians will die due to catastrophic shortages of food, water and medicine, as Israel’s nonstop bombardment of the Gaza Strip entered its 21st day. Earlier today Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, known as UNRWA, warned his agency’s operations are crumbling as Gazans starve. He called Israel’s siege “collective punishment” of more than 2 million people — a majority of them women and children. And he said the mere 84 aid trucks that Israel has so far allowed to cross into Gaza is totally inadequate to address the needs of the population.

Philippe Lazzarini: “These few trucks are nothing more than crumbs that will not make a difference for the 2 million people in the street. We should avoid conveying the message that a few trucks a day means the siege is lifted for humanitarian aid. This is not true.”

Gaza Health Ministry Publishes Names of Nearly 7,000 Palestinians Killed in Israeli Strikes

Oct 27, 2023

Gaza’s Health Ministry has published the names of more than 6,700 Palestinians killed since Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip three weeks ago. The 200-plus page report lists the name, age, gender and ID number of each victim of Israel’s bombardment. The toll does not include the names of 281 people whose bodies could not be identified, bringing the toll to more than 7,000, nor does it include more than 1,500 Palestinians missing and believed to be trapped under rubble. Two thousand six hundred sixty-five children are listed among the dead. The ministry made the names public after President Biden on Wednesday cast doubt on Gaza’s official death toll.

President Joe Biden: “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war.”

Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch said his organization has always found data from the Gaza Ministry of Health reliable. He said that until quite recently even the U.S. State Department cited the ministry’s data without caveat.

Omar Shakir: “I think it’s worth noting that this creates a fog of war, a fog of misinformation, which can provide political cover for more large-scale atrocities to take place. The conversation should focus on how world leaders can stop further mass atrocities, and not nitpicking whether a number that’s generally proven to be accurate may be a little bit off.”

Al Jazeera’s Wael al-Dahdouh Returns to Work One Day After Israeli Strike Kills 12 Family Members

Oct 27, 2023

Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief Wael al-Dahdouh returned to the airwaves Thursday, just one day after an Israeli airstrike killed 12 members of his family. Dahdouh resumed broadcasting from a Gaza rooftop hours after he led prayers at a funeral for his wife, son, daughter, grandson and other relatives.

Wael Dahdouh: “I saw it as my duty to get back to work as quickly as possible, despite everything, because, as you can see, the bombardment is still ongoing. There are airstrikes and artillery shelling, and things continue to develop.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports at least 27 journalists have been killed in Israel and Palestine since October 7 — four Israelis, one Lebanese and 22 Palestinians.

EU Appeals for “Humanitarian Pause” in Gaza But Stops Short of Ceasefire Call

Oct 27, 2023

European Union leaders called Thursday for a “humanitarian pause” to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed EU support for Israel, saying it had the right to self-defense in line with international law; she also blamed Hamas for provoking the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Her remarks came after Human Rights Watch director Tirana Hassan condemned both Hamas and Israel for targeting innocent civilians. Hassan testified on Wednesday to the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights.

Tirana Hassan: “You cannot wipe out entire families, let a health system be destroyed, raze entire districts to the ground, refer to people as animals. You can’t punish an entire population by preventing desperately needed aid from reaching them. International humanitarian law is clear: Atrocities from one side do not justify atrocities from the other side.”

“Vote to Stop This Madness”: Palestinian U.N. Envoy Implores UNGA Members to Back Ceasefire

Oct 27, 2023

At an emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, pleaded with representatives to vote in favor of a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the increased delivery of humanitarian aid.

Riyad Mansour: “Vote to stop the killing. Vote for humanitarian aid to reach those whose very survival depends on it. Vote to stop this madness.”

The U.N. General Assembly’s 193 member states are voting on the nonbinding resolution today, after the U.S. repeatedly vetoed Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire.

U.S. Forces Attack Iran-Linked Facilities in Syria

Oct 27, 2023

The Pentagon says U.S. forces attacked two facilities in Syria linked to Iranian armed groups, in response to earlier attacks on U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Syria. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. strikes were not connected to the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Nine hundred U.S. troops are also headed to the Middle East. This is Pentagon Press Secretary Patrick Ryder.

Patrick Ryder: “While I won’t talk specific deployment locations for these forces, I can confirm that they are not going to Israel and that, again, they are intended to support regional deterrence efforts and further bolster U.S. force protection capabilities.”

Florida Moves to Ban Chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine in State Colleges

Oct 27, 2023

Florida’s state university system, in collaboration with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, has issued a memo ordering college campuses to shut down a Palestinian solidarity student organization. Florida officials accused Students for Justice in Palestine of providing “harmful support for terrorist groups.” Palestine Legal, which defends the free speech of Palestinian rights activists, said in a statement the memo was “filled with erroneous factual and legal claims that seek to distract from, distort and silence the message of student activists across the United States the same way Israeli propaganda has sought to distract public attention from ongoing Israeli war crimes.” Meanwhile, Governor DeSantis said Thursday he’s made arrangements to send drones, weapons and ammunition to Israel as it prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza.

Hurricane Otis Kills at Least 27 in Mexico, Leaving Trail of Destruction in Acapulco

Oct 27, 2023

In Mexico, at least 27 people were killed and several others are missing in and around Acapulco, after Hurricane Otis ripped through Mexico’s Pacific coast, knocking out all communications and leaving behind a trail of destruction. The Category 5 storm was the strongest East Pacific hurricane on record to make landfall, with 165 mile-per-hour winds. A local cameraperson who filmed the devastating aftermath in Acapulco recounted living through the hurricane.

Jaime Villanueva: “There was a moment when the building was moving from side to side. Water was coming in. Water was entering. You could still hear a thousand and one things thundering up, down, left, right, everything. Everything was thundering. And then I remember that Barbara and I hugged each other and began to pray. We began to say goodbye with telepathy, literally, because we could not send messages.”

Major Protests in Panama Take Aim at Canadian Copper Mine

Oct 27, 2023

In Panama, nationwide Indigenous-led protests and blockades intensified this week, demanding the government reverse its approval of a 20-year contract for a foreign-owned open-pit copper mine. Police fired tear gas at demonstrators, who say the mine will poison fresh water sources. They also cited corruption allegations against lawmakers. Dozens have been arrested. Opponents say the new contract for the Cobre Panamá mine was fast-tracked with little public input or transparency. The mine is the largest in Central America. It’s owned by Canada’s First Quantum Minerals.

U.S. Seeks to Turn Page on Fraught Relations with China with High-Profile Official Meetings

Oct 27, 2023

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed his Chinese counterpart to Washington, D.C., on Thursday as the Biden administration seeks to repair fraught ties with Beijing. Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke briefly to reporters before his meeting with Blinken at the State Department.

Wang Yi: “Through dialogue, we can increase understanding, reduce misunderstanding and misjudgments, constantly seek to expand common ground and pursue cooperation that will benefit both sides.”

Wang Yi’s trip to Washington came after California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom held a surprise meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday. Newsom said after the talks he hoped the United States and China were at a turning point in their relations.

Maine Rep. Reverses Stance on Gun Laws, Calls for Ban on Assault Rifles, After Lewiston Massacre

Oct 27, 2023

In Maine, the manhunt continues for the suspect in Wednesday night’s shooting rampage that killed 18 people and wounded 13 others in Lewiston, Maine’s second-largest city. Residents have been instructed to continue sheltering in place, while many schools remain closed today, including schools like Bates and the Portland public school system. The suspect, 40-year-old Robert Card, is a white Army reservist and firearms trainer who was hospitalized in a mental health facility over the summer after he threatened to “shoot up” a National Guard base in New York. Investigators are reportedly looking into whether the shooter was targeting his partner or former partner. Maine does not require permits to carry guns, does not require background checks and has no red flag laws.

On social media, one of Maine’s most prominent residents, the author Stephen King, wrote, “It’s the rapid-fire killing machines, people. This is madness in the name of freedom. Stop electing apologists for murder.” And on Thursday, Maine Democratic Congressmember Jared Golden, a Marine Corps veteran who lives in Lewiston, said the massacre had changed his views on gun control.

Rep. Jared Golden: “I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime. The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing in my home town of Lewiston, Maine.”

In another mass shooting, police on Thursday found five people fatally shot in Clinton, North Carolina. A suspect and motive have not yet been identified. There have been close to 600 mass shootings in the United States this year alone.

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