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HeadlinesDecember 14, 2023

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Israeli Attacks Kill 200 Palestinians in 24 Hours as Rains Increase Spread of Disease in Gaza

Dec 14, 2023

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports Israeli attacks on Gaza have killed 200 Palestinians in the past 24 hours. Among the dead are at least 20 people killed in overnight air raids on Rafah near the southern border with Egypt, where nearly half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million is sheltering from Israel’s unrelenting bombardment. Their misery was compounded Wednesday as the area was hit with heavy rains and cold winds. These are Palestinians forced to live in a tent city in al-Mawasi in southern Gaza, which Israel has designated as a so-called safe zone.

Jassir Barbach: “Children sleep in the tent, while some adults have no choice but to sleep on the streets. There is no food, no water. The children lack milk and diapers. The situation is dire, with no sanitary conditions or toilets.”

Mahmoud Ashour: “I have four children with gastrointestinal diseases and flu. My youngest son has a cold, but we don’t have any medicine. I have never felt as helpless and miserable in my life as I do now.”

The United Nations warns Gaza faces a “public health disaster.” Lynn Hastings is the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Lynn Hastings: “We’ve got a textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster. This is in part, of course, because the shelters have long ago exceeded their full capacity, with people lining up for hours just to get to a toilet, one toilet available for hundreds of people. You can imagine what the sanitation conditions are like as a result.”

The WHO says there have been 360,000 cases of infectious diseases recorded in Gaza’s shelters. That includes meningitis, jaundice, chickenpox, lice, scabies, upper respiratory tract infections, and diarrhea, which is a leading cause of death for young children. The World Food Programme says 83% of households in southern Gaza are going hungry; in the north, that figure is 97%.

Israeli Army Raids Jenin, Killing 11 Palestinians and Arresting Leaders of Freedom Theatre

Dec 14, 2023

In the occupied West Bank, Israel’s military has killed at least 11 Palestinians since Tuesday as it carries out its most intense raids since Hamas’s surprise attack on October 7. On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers raided the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, a renowned cultural institution whose mission is to fight for Palestinian justice, equality and self-determination. Two of the theater’s producers, Ahmed Tobasi and Mustafa Sheta, were reportedly taken away by Israeli troops.

U.S. Stalls Sale of 27,000 Rifles to Israel over Settler Violence

Dec 14, 2023

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron says the United Kingdom will deny visas to Israeli settlers who’ve committed violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The U.S. recently announced similar visa restrictions. This comes as the Biden administration delayed the planned sale of 27,000 U.S.-made M16 rifles to Israel over concerns they could be used in attacks by West Bank settlers. Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir ordered police not to arrest Israelis who commit violence in the West Bank, where more than 280 Palestinians, including 64 children, have been killed since October 7. 

Washington Post: Israel Used U.S.-Supplied White Phosphorus to Attack Civilians in Lebanon

Dec 14, 2023

The Washington Post has confirmed that Israel used U.S.-supplied white phosphorus in attacks on southern Lebanon. White phosphorus poses a high risk of excruciating burns and lifelong suffering, and its use as an incendiary weapon in civilian areas is a war crime — which under U.S. law should have implications for future military aid to Israel. The Post’s investigation found white phosphorus attacks left at least four people hospitalized and forced the evacuation of the town of Dheira in southern Lebanon. In Washington, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller addressed the reports.

Matthew Miller: “Anytime that we provide items like white phosphorus, or really anything, to another military, we do it with the expectation that it will be used for legitimate purposes and in full keeping with international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict. So we’re looking into this and looking for additional information.”

Bernie Sanders Calls on Biden to Cancel Request for $10 Billion in Military Aid to Israel

Dec 14, 2023

Senator Bernie Sanders has urged President Biden to end unconditional assistance to Israel’s military, saying the United States was complicit in a “mass atrocity” in Gaza. In a letter to the White House, Sanders urged Biden to slash his request for U.S. military aid to Israel by more than $10 billion, writing, “Israel’s military campaign will be remembered among some of the darkest chapters of our modern history. And it is being done with bombs and equipment produced and provided by the United States and heavily subsidized by American taxpayers.”

Bernie Sanders’s comments came as the Senate on Wednesday approved a record $886 billion military spending bill with bipartisan support. The House is expected to pass the bill as soon as today.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera has obtained a letter signed by 139 staffers at the Homeland Security Department denouncing Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other top officials’ response to Israel’s assault. The letter, dated November 22, reads, ”DHS leadership has seemingly turned a blind eye to the bombing of refugee camps, hospitals, ambulances, and civilians.”

Russia and Ukraine Trade Drone Attacks as Hungary’s Orbán Threatens to Block EU Aid to Ukraine

Dec 14, 2023

Russia launched a barrage of drone attacks on southern Ukraine overnight, wounding at least 11 people, including three children, and damaging port infrastructure in the Odesa region, as well as the Danube River, close to the Romanian border. The attacks came as Russia’s military said Russian air defenses shot down nine Ukrainian drones headed toward Moscow, just hours ahead of the start of a year-end news conference held by President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has arrived at a European Union summit in Brussels, where he has promised to block Ukraine’s bid to join the EU, as well as a deal to send an additional $54 billion worth of aid to Ukraine. This comes after the European Commission tried to soften Orbán’s opposition by offering to release more than $11 billion in funding to Hungary it had previously withheld after determining Orbán’s government failed to uphold the rule of law.

SCOTUS Will Hear Challenge to FDA Rules for Abortion Pill Mifepristone

Dec 14, 2023

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on the abortion pill mifepristone, the most widely used method of abortion in the U.S. In August, the 5th Circuit Court sided with a right-wing Texas judge who argued the FDA improperly eased regulations on the pill to make it more accessible, and that it should only be used up to seven weeks into a pregnancy and only issued in person. The Biden administration said the ruling “threatens to undermine the FDA’s scientific independent judgment and would reimpose outdated restrictions on access to safe and effective abortion medication.” For now, mifepristone remains available through telemedicine, mail delivery and via pharmacies — pending the Supreme Court’s decision, which is expected by the end of June next year.

SCOTUS to Hear Challenge to Obstruction Charge in Jan. 6 Insurrection Cases

Dec 14, 2023

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the felony obstruction statute that’s been used by the Justice Department to charge over 300 people in connection with the January 6 Capitol insurrection, including Donald Trump. The court’s decision could invalidate convictions against those involved in the insurrection and hamper special counsel Jack Smith’s case against Trump. Separately, justices are considering the special counsel’s request to expedite consideration of Trump’s claim of presidential immunity.

Tape Reveals Kenneth Chesebro Warned Trump over “Fake Electors” Scheme After 2020 Election

Dec 14, 2023

CNN has published recordings of former Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro revealing Trump was told about the “fake electors” scheme to keep him in office, and informed by lawyer Jim Troupis that he had lost the state of Wisconsin. The revelations come as part of interviews with Michigan state prosecutors.

Kenneth Chesebro: “It’s clear that Troupis personally told the president there was zero hope for Wisconsin, as part of this message, I think, crafted to try to get him to concede or just give up this long-shot challenge. … There was a conscious effort to deflect him from a sense of any possibility that he could pull out the election.”

Kenneth Chesebro, who has been dubbed the “architect” of the false electors plot, is cooperating with investigations in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada. In October, he pleaded guilty in Georgia’s sweeping election subversion case.

House GOP Formalizes Biden Impeachment Inquiry

Dec 14, 2023

House Republicans approved a resolution authorizing an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Republicans accuse Biden of abusing his position to advance his family’s business interests. A probe into the allegations has not returned any evidence. Democrat Jamie Raskin, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, said, “Everyone knows that the floundering Biden impeachment probe is designed to give Donald Trump something to say when it’s pointed out he has been twice impeached and is a proven fraudster, sexual assailant, and defamer of women who now faces 91 felony charges in federal and state court.”

Hunter Biden Defies GOP Subpoena, Makes Rare Public Comments 

Dec 14, 2023

Hunter Biden made rare public comments Wednesday. The president’s son defied a subpoena from House Republicans and instead spoke to press in front of the Capitol.

Hunter Biden: “For six years I’ve been the target of the unrelenting Trump attack machine shouting ’Where’s Hunter?’ Well, here’s my answer: I am here. Let me state as clearly as I can: My father was not financially involved in my business, not as a practicing lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not in my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home nor abroad, and certainly not as an artist.”

Republicans said they would move to hold Hunter Biden in contempt for defying their summons. Hunter Biden has said he is willing to testify at a public hearing, rather than a closed-door testimony.

Tesla Recalls 2 Million Vehicles over Flaws in Autopilot Software

Dec 14, 2023

Tesla has recalled software from nearly all of its 2 million vehicles on U.S. roads after regulators found the electric car manufacturer failed to ensure that drivers remain attentive while using Autopilot, a system that can drive autonomously. This follows a series of accidents involving self-driving Teslas — some of them fatal. Meanwhile, in Sweden, garbage has begun piling up at Tesla’s workshops after a major Transport Workers’ Union said it would stop collecting waste in support of Swedish mechanics who’ve been on strike since October to protest the anti-union policies of Tesla and its billionaire CEO, Elon Musk.

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