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HeadlinesOctober 09, 2023

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Death Toll in Gaza and Israel Tops 1,300 as Israel Declares War on Hamas Following Surprise Attack

Oct 09, 2023

The death toll across Israel and Gaza has topped 1,300 as the bloody conflict stretches into its third day. Israel today announced a “total” blockade on Gaza, including food, water, electricity and fuel. On Sunday, Israel declared war on Hamas after Hamas fighters launched a surprise coordinated attack in Israel Saturday. Among the targets was a music festival, where Hamas gunmen killed some 260 mainly young people. Israel responded by pounding the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, which hit housing blocks, tunnels and a mosque. Over 800 people have been killed in Israel, over 500 in Gaza. Thousands more have been injured on both sides of the separation barrier. Hamas says it has taken over 100 hostages, including civilians and Israeli army officers. The Israeli prime minister has told Gazans to leave — though it’s unclear where they would be able to go — vowing to all but decimate the besieged territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “All of the places where Hamas are deployed, hiding and operating in, that wicked city, we will turn it into an island of ruins. I am telling Gaza’s people to leave those places now, because we will take action everywhere.”

Over 120,000 people in Gaza have already been displaced from the Israeli attacks. Sixty-five-year-old Saber Abu Hilal, who lost his home in an airstrike, says he refused to be uprooted.

Saber Abu Hilal: “I am not the only one left out on the street. There are 17 other families in this area made homeless following this barbaric strike, which killed around 17 or 18 people. Several families are on the street and left without refuge. This is not the first displacement, and it’s as if they are displacing the Palestinian people every now and then on purpose. There was the 1948 migration, and it was followed by similar waves of people leaving the country. Our children are also migrating. And now they are destroying homes over the heads of residents while they sleep, without any warning or reason, with the aim to displace and destroy and to uproot them from this land. However, we refuse to be uprooted. We have firm roots in this land.”

U.S. Beefing Up Military Support to Israel; U.N. Expert Blasts “Selective Outrage” over Conflict

Oct 09, 2023

The U.S. said it will send more military aid and munitions to Israel, already the largest annual recipient of U.S. military funding. It will also bring military ships and aircraft closer to Israel. The U.N. special rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories blasted the “selective outrage” of many Western nations following the conflict’s outbreak, as they failed to recognize the ongoing violence against Palestinians. Francesca Albanese said, “Human rights organizations have said it all along that continuing to oppress a population with total impunity would lead to a catastrophe, and this is what is happening. … The responsibility is also on the international community which has one opportunity now to be wise and be even-handed.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal is reporting Iran helped plan Hamas’s attack on Israel. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he has not seen any evidence to substantiate the claim.

“Apartheid Resistance Is Not Terrorism”: Protesters Stand in Solidarity with Palestinians

Oct 09, 2023

Solidarity protests with Gaza took place around the world over the weekend, including here in New York City’s Times Square.

Eugene Puryear: “The whole reason I’m yelling is because the powers that be in New York City and New York state don’t want this rally to happen. The mayor, Eric Adams, perhaps the police chief, we have seen that the governor has denounced this rally. But they don’t want us to have any amplified sound because they don’t want us to be heard by the people of New York, because they don’t want people to know that Palestinians are right to stand up against occupation. Apartheid resistance is not terrorism.”

Over 2,000 People Killed in Afghan Earthquake

Oct 09, 2023

In Afghanistan, Taliban officials say more than 2,000 people were killed and nearly 10,000 others injured after a magnitude-6.3 earthquake and several powerful aftershocks struck the western Herat province on Saturday morning. The quake flattened buildings in six villages, trapping hundreds of people in their homes. The death toll could rise as rescue workers continue to search for survivors using shovels and, in some cases, their bare hands. It’s one of the deadliest earthquakes to strike Afghanistan in two decades and risks further exacerbating the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Suspects in Killing of Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate Found Dead in Prison

Oct 09, 2023

In Ecuador, six suspects accused of being involved in the August murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio have been killed in prison. The six men, who were all Colombian, were being detained in the city of Guayaquil after their arrest two months ago. They were all alleged members of a drug trafficking group. Villavicencio was running on an anti-corruption platform and was critical of organized crime and its ties with the Ecuadorian government. This comes just days before voters take to the polls this Sunday for the presidential runoff between leftist Luisa González and wealthy businessman Daniel Noboa.

Colombia and Dissident Rebel Faction Agree to Ceasefire Ahead of Peace Talks

Oct 09, 2023

Colombia’s government has announced the start of long-anticipated peace talks with the largest faction of dissident members of FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. On Sunday, both sides said offensive actions had been suspended as the government of President Gustavo Petro prepares to issue a formal ceasefire decree in the coming days. The Estado Mayor Central is a group of former FARC members who rejected a 2016 peace accord with the Colombian state that removed FARC from the decades-long conflict. This is an EMC representative.

Andrey Avendaño: “We can’t disregard this historical moment, which will have a positive impact on our communities. Without a doubt, stopping killing each other is the wisest path to start constructing a better future. Ending the war and the rhetoric of violence will lead to a constructive peace discourse.”

Colombian Court Allows Fraud Trial of Ex-President Álvaro Uribe to Move Forward

Oct 09, 2023

Colombia’s Superior Court is allowing a witness tampering and fraud case against former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe to move forward. Uribe is accused of attempting to discredit allegations he had ties with right-wing paramilitary groups. During Uribe’s time in power from 2002 to 2010, there were thousands of extrajudicial killings of civilians, who were then purposely mislabeled as rebel fighters in what became known as the “false positives” scandal.

Tens of Thousands Rally Across Guatemala to Defend President-elect Bernardo Arévalo

Oct 09, 2023

In Guatemala, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent days as nationwide protests intensify over the ongoing persecution of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and his progressive Semilla party. Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Guatemala’s Attorney General Consuelo Porras and several prosecutors involved in efforts to disqualify Arévalo’s landslide victory in August’s runoff presidential election. Arévalo and Semilla are accused of election fraud and irregularities in the party’s registration; prosecutors have ordered raids on electoral offices and the seizure of ballots — without any evidence to support their claims. Porras, who’s backed by the Guatemalan political and business elites, has been repeatedly accused of corruption. Protests continued through the weekend across Guatemala, led by Indigenous groups, student activists, human rights defenders and workers angered by the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s decision Friday to uphold the suspension of Semilla over the fraud allegations.

Edgar Tuy: “To enter the democratic era, there has been bloodshed. So for a small group of people to come and destroy democracy overnight, we will not allow that.”

Meanwhile, the Organization of American States has named a delegation to mediate Bernardo Arévalo’s transition to power ahead of his scheduled inauguration in January. The OAS has itself been accused of meddling in democratic election results across Latin America — most recently in Bolivia’s 2019 election, where its unfounded fraud claims helped pave the way for the removal of leftist President Evo Morales.

U.N. Warns Worsening Climate Crisis Will Displace Millions More Children

Oct 09, 2023

A new report from UNICEF finds that over 43 million children were internally displaced in the past six years due to extreme weather events, the vast majority caused by floods and storms. The U.N. agency notes displacement can negatively impact children’s education, healthcare, food security and health. Children are also more likely to be separated from their families following a major disaster, increasing the risks of exploitation and child trafficking. UNICEF warns the situation will only worsen as the climate crisis intensifies.

Verena Knaus: “The report’s analysis also looks into the future, and it actually projects a truly terrifying future. With every additional one degree of warming, the IPCC believes the global risk of displacement by flooding — the largest driver — could rise by 50%. We are not prepared for this climate-changed future. And the displacement of children is barely on the radar of leaders.”

Study Finds U.S. Children Are Most at Risk of Eviction

Oct 09, 2023

A new study finds an average of 7.6 million renters face eviction across the United States every year — nearly 3 million of whom are children under the age of 18. Researchers at Princeton, Rutgers and the U.S. Census Bureau also found eviction filing rates for Black renters are four times higher than for white renters.

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Mack Truck Workers Reject Contract Offer and Strike as UAW Makes Gains in Strike Against Big 3

Oct 09, 2023

In labor news, nearly 4,000 United Auto Workers members employed by Volvo’s Mack Trucks are on strike after voting down a tentative agreement reached last week. Mack workers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida are joining some 25,000 fellow UAW members on the picket line as they continue their historic strike against Ford, GM and Stellantis. Mack workers say they were inspired to seek a better deal because of the historic strike against the Big Three. On Friday, UAW President Shawn Fain announced a major win in talks with GM.

Shawn Fain: “GM has now agreed, in writing, to place their electric battery manufacturing under our national master agreement. We’ve been told for months that this is impossible. We’ve been told the EV future must be a race to the bottom. And now we’ve called their bluff.”

Fain was wearing a T-shirt that said, “Eat the rich.” He did not announce any additional strike actions for now.

Meanwhile, 75,000 healthcare workers employed by Kaiser Permanente returned to work Saturday. More strikes could be on the horizon if no deal is reached on improvements to pay, staffing, pension plans and other benefits.

Officers Who Fatally Shot “Stop Cop City” Activist Won’t Be Charged

Oct 09, 2023

A Georgia prosecutor has declined to bring charges against state troopers who fatally shot environmental activist Manuel Esteban Terán, known as Tortuguita, during a raid on the Stop Cop City protest encampment outside Atlanta in January. On Friday, District Attorney George Christian released a 31-page report concluding that none of the six officers who fired shots that resulted in Tortuguita’s death acted unreasonably. An autopsy by the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Tortuguita was struck 57 times by police bullets. Although Tortuguita possessed a 9-millimeter pistol, an autopsy also found no traces of gunpowder residue on their hands — challenging police claims that Tortuguita fired a shot that injured a Georgia state trooper. In a statement, the Stop Cop City campaign wrote, “From the start, the state’s response to Tortuguita’s murder has been to lie and cover up the facts. Today’s announcement is just the latest in a long line of changing stories and withholding evidence.”

Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill to Replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Oct 09, 2023

Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Over 100 U.S. cities and a dozen states have adopted the holiday after longtime calls by Indigenous activists to stop celebrating the genocidal legacy of Christopher Columbus. Last week, over 50 U.S. senators and representatives again introduced a bill to formally replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a federal holiday.

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