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HeadlinesDecember 13, 2023

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Israel’s Brutal Assault on Gaza Destroys More Schools, Homes, Hospitals as Death Toll Tops 18,000

Dec 13, 2023

In Gaza, witnesses say Israeli soldiers shot displaced people at “point-blank” range after they raided Shadia Abu Ghazala School in the northern al-Faluja area. According to Al Jazeera, newborn babies were reportedly among the victims. Heavy bombardment continues throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah and Khan Younis, where homes, businesses and schools were leveled in Israeli attacks. In Rafah, resident Mohammed Obaid joined rescue efforts Tuesday, searching the rubble of a destroyed building that was attacked by Israeli rocketfire, killing at least four children.

Mohammed Obaid: “Whoever is left will battle with hunger, a battle of thirst, a survival battle in every sense of the word. There’s no electricity, no fuel, no water, no medicine. Even the hospitals are suffering in dire need. Even first aid kits are not present in the hospitals. The situation is disastrous in every sense of the word. We are not interested in what is said — a truce or no truce — because we are busy with the daily survival battle, with the water supply, either fit or unfit for drinking, electricity, medicine, fuel. The humanitarian situation is harder than the war with the rockets.”

At the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Gaza City, a doctor says over 70 medical staff were taken by Israeli forces during a raid on the facility earlier this week. Meanwhile, Save the Children announced a staffer and his family were killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Sameh Ewaida was 39 years old and the father of four young children aged 2 to 12 years old.

This comes as Israeli military raids continue in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, killing at least six people Tuesday. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces bulldozed a Palestinian residential building that housed 30 people.

IDF Uses Telegram Channel to Post Congratulatory Images of Killed and Abused Gazans

Dec 13, 2023

A Haaretz report about a Telegram channel said to be managed by the Israeli Defense Forces has provoked horror and comparisons to the Abu Ghraib military prison in Iraq. The channel, launched shortly after the start of the Israeli assault, is called “72 Virgins — Uncensored” and posts graphic videos and photos showing the killing and torture of Palestinians. The images are usually accompanied by racist text, such as “Exterminating the roaches,” and joyful emojis.

UNGA Overwhelmingly Backs Call for Ceasefire; U.S. Is Just One of 10 Nations to Oppose Resolution

Dec 13, 2023

The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza: 153 U.N. members approved the resolution, 23 abstained and just 10, including the United States, voted “no.” Though nonbinding, the U.N. vote is another indication of the mounting isolation of the U.S. as it continues to support Israel’s assault, which has killed at least 18,000 Palestinians in a little over two months.

Australia, which abstained from voting for the General Assembly ceasefire resolution in October, is one of the latest U.S. allies to split from the Biden administration’s position. This is Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

Penny Wong: “Australia, alongside 152 other countries, was among the countries which voted in favor. In doing so, we joined Canada, New Zealand, Japan, France and India, and many other countries. … And in doing so, we have said Israel must respect international humanitarian law.”

Biden Cites “Indiscriminate Bombing” of Gaza But Refuses to Halt Flow of Money and Arms to Israel

Dec 13, 2023

Separately, President Biden delivered his sharpest criticism yet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying at a donor event the Israeli leader “has to change” and that Israel is losing international support, citing its “indiscriminate bombing” in Gaza. Indiscriminate bombardment is a war crime. Biden is meeting at the White House today with families of U.S. hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7.

COP28 Ends with Historic Deal to Move Away from Fossil Fuels; Activists Say It’s Full of Loopholes

Dec 13, 2023

For the first time ever, the U.N. climate summit ended with a global agreement to transition away from fossil fuels. The deal was announced earlier today in Dubai as negotiations went into overtime, and hailed as “historic” by COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber. While the agreement was welcomed as a step forward, climate activists and nations worst hit by the climate catastrophe warned it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Anne Rasmussen of the Alliance of Small Island States called out fellow delegates for passing the agreement while representatives from the 39 states in her coalition were not in attendance, and noted some of the deal’s weaknesses.

Anne Rasmussen: “We have come to the conclusion that the course correction that is needed has not been secured. We have made an incremental advancement over business as usual, when what we really needed is an exponential step change in our actions and support.”

We’ll have more on this story later in the broadcast.

Zelensky Fails to Gain Bipartisan Support for More Aid; Biden Weighs Immigration Concessions to GOP

Dec 13, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ended his high-stakes day in Washington, D.C., Tuesday with little progress on securing additional war funding. President Biden vowed the U.S. would support Ukraine “as long as we can” and urged Congress to pass his spending request of over $100 billion, which also includes funding for Israel and Taiwan and further militarization of the U.S. border.

President Joe Biden: “Congress needs to pass the supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for holiday recess, before they give Putin the greatest Christmas present they could possibly give him.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson has tied continued Ukraine aid to hard-line border requests that have been rejected by Democrats. But reports have emerged that the Biden administration is considering yielding to Republican demands in exchange for the funding. These include expanded immigration detention and deportations, and a new border authority to expel migrants without due process.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are expected to vote today on a resolution to formalize an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

Russian Antiwar Dissident Boris Kagarlitsky Freed from Detention

Dec 13, 2023

In Russia, prominent dissident and Marxist theorist Boris Kagarlitsky has been released from jail. Kagarlitsky was detained in July and accused of “justifying terrorism” for comments he made about the war in Ukraine. His arrest was met with international condemnation. A court this week found him guilty and fined him the equivalent of $6,600 but allowed him to walk free. Prosecutors had been seeking a five-year prison term. Click here to see our interview with Boris Kagarlitsky in December of last year.

Poland Swears In Donald Tusk as Prime Minister; Extremist Lawmaker Extinguishes Parliament Menorah

Dec 13, 2023

In Poland, Donald Tusk was sworn in today as the new prime minister, putting an end to eight years of right-wing nationalist rule. In a speech Tuesday, Tusk, the former European Council president, expressed unwavering support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and vowed to usher in smoother relations with the EU.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk: “Poland is and will be a key, strong, sovereign link of the North Atlantic Alliance, that Poland will be a loyal, stable ally to the United States, confident in its reasons, confident in its strength and importance, that Poland will regain the position of leader of the European Union.”

Hours before lawmakers voted Tuesday to confirm Tusk and his government, an extreme-right lawmaker used a fire extinguisher to put out the candles on the Polish Parliament’s Hanukkah menorah, sparking widespread outrage in Poland and beyond.

Pakistan Rejects Indian Supreme Court Ruling Revoking Special Status for Disputed Kashmir Region

Dec 13, 2023

India’s Supreme Court upheld a 2019 move by the government revoking special status for Indian-administered Kashmir. The disputed Muslim-majority region previously enjoyed a certain level of autonomy, but the government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi scrapped Article 370 four years ago in order to bring Jammu and Kashmir further under the central government’s control. Pakistan “categorically rejected” the ruling from India. This is the caretaker Pakistani Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani.

Jalil Abbas Jilani: “The final disposition of Jammu and Kashmir is to be made in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. India has no right to make unilateral decisions on the status of this disputed territory against the will of the Kashmiri people and Pakistan.”

Arizona, New Mexico Supreme Courts Hear Pivotal Abortion Cases This Week

Dec 13, 2023

The Arizona Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday over whether a Civil War-era, near-total abortion ban should be reinstated, overriding the current 15-week abortion ban. This is Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes.

Attorney General Kris Mayes: “This specific case is about the need to harmonize Arizona statutes to ensure that women aren’t saddled with an 1864 law that was passed before Arizona was a state, before women had the right to vote and while the Civil War was still raging.”

After Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, some Arizona counties reverted to the 1864 law, which remained on the books but was not enforced since Roe passed in 1973. The so-called zombie ban does not make exceptions for rape or incest and also bars anyone from assisting a pregnant person in getting abortion care.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of New Mexico is hearing arguments today over whether local governments can impose their own abortion bans even as the procedure remains legal in the state.

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