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HeadlinesDecember 22, 2023

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U.N. Warns One-Quarter of Gazans Are Starving Amid Israeli Assault and Siege

Dec 22, 2023

Palestinian officials report 390 people have been killed and more than 700 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza over the past two days. In one of the latest attacks, an Israeli air raid killed four people, including Bassem Ghaben, the director of the Israeli-controlled Karem Abu Salem border crossing, who’d been working to bring desperately needed aid into Gaza. This comes as the United Nations reports more than a half a million Palestinians are starving amid Israel’s siege and unrelenting bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Arif Hussain is chief economist with the U.N.’s World Food Programme.

Arif Hussain: “In the world right now there are about 130,000 people who are in catastrophic levels of hunger, meaning they are starving. In Gaza, more than half a million. That is four times more. And that is what makes this totally unprecedented.”

On Thursday, Hamas ruled out any more exchanges of captives until Israel agrees to a “full cessation of aggression.” Meanwhile, Israel has for the seventh time severed Gaza’s phone and internet connections.

Committee to Protect Journalists: Israel Is Killing Media Workers at Unprecedented Pace

Dec 22, 2023

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports more media workers have been killed in the first 10 weeks of Israel’s assault on Gaza than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year. CPJ said it was particularly concerned about a pattern of targeting journalists and their families by the Israeli military.

On Thursday, scores of Al Jazeera staffers held protests at the network’s headquarters in Doha, as well as the site of a school where camera operator Samer Abudaqa was killed in an Israeli drone strike last week. The same attack injured Al Jazeera Arabic’s Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh, who lost his wife, son, daughter and grandson in another strike in October. Dozens more rallied outside Al Jazeera’s office in Amman, Jordan. This is Al Jazeera correspondent Tamer al-Smadi.

Tamer al-Smadi: “We stand here at Al Jazeera’s office in Amman with a number representatives from local Arab and international media institutions to highlight what Israel did in killing journalists, not just Samer Abudaqa, but more than 90 journalists in the Gaza Strip, who were martyred due to Israeli airstrikes and deliberate targeting.”

U.N. Security Council Delays Vote on Watered-Down Gaza Resolution Again Amid U.S. Veto Threat

Dec 22, 2023

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has warned the failure of the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution on Gaza will mean “dangerous double standards,” as the U.S. delayed a vote Thursday for the fourth day in a row. The U.S. delegation has indicated it would back a new resolution with watered-down language, which is set for a vote today. An earlier Security Council resolution vetoed by the U.S. called for a “ceasefire”; subsequent texts called for a “suspension of hostilities,” and ultimately to “urgent steps” to allow safe and unhindered delivery of aid to Gaza’s civilians.

Facebook and Instagram Censor Voices in Support of Palestine

Dec 22, 2023

A Human Rights Watch investigation has found Meta’s content moderation policies are increasingly silencing voices in support of Palestine on its Facebook and Instagram social media platforms. The 51-page report, released this week, documents more than 1,000 cases of Meta censorship in 60 countries in what HRW calls “a pattern of undue removal and suppression of protected speech including peaceful expression in support of Palestine and public debate about Palestinian human rights.”

Labor-Led March Protests AIPAC Campaign Contributions to New York Politicians

Dec 22, 2023

Here in New York, thousands of protesters led by union organizers marched through the streets of Manhattan Thursday evening to demand a ceasefire and an end to the influence of the powerful lobby group AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Protesters marched past AIPAC’s offices holding banners displaying the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions received by New York lawmakers Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Hakeem Jeffries.

Meanwhile, dozens of Israeli Jewish activists gathered for a vigil today outside the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, calling for a ceasefire and mourning the 20,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza.

Last French Soldiers Depart Niger After Decadelong Occupation, But U.S. Troops Remain

Dec 22, 2023

France is closing its embassy in Niger indefinitely amid ongoing tensions between the two nations following the July military coup which ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. The French ambassador to Niger left in September. Around 150 French troops are departing Niger today, the last batch of soldiers to leave since the withdrawal started in October. But the military junta has not ordered U.S. military bases to close, where over 600 troops remain in the largely failed fight against jihadist groups.

Biden Administration Grants Two More Permits to Contested Mountain Valley Pipeline

Dec 22, 2023

The Biden administration has approved two more permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, or MVP, which would carry 2 billion cubic feet of fracked gas through Virginia and West Virginia. On Tuesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted MVP’s request to increase its gas transportation rates, after the company’s estimated construction costs ballooned to over $6.6 billion — nearly double its initial projection. The FERC also granted MVP more time to complete work on a proposed 75-mile extension into North Carolina. Indigenous environmental activist Jason Crazy Bear Keck said in a statement, “FERC’s decision to extend MVP Southgate’s certificate of 'public need,' which subjects our streams, rivers and community members to seizing of land and irreversible pollution, against our will, with no proof of need, is a crime against us and future generations.”

Much of North America Won’t See a White Christmas Amid Hottest Year in Human History

Dec 22, 2023

Millions of residents of Southern California remain under flood advisories today after some areas received a month’s worth of precipitation in less than an hour, in what meteorologists called a once-in-a-millennium rainfall event. This comes as forecasters are predicting a snowless Christmas holiday for parts of Canada and much of the U.S. East Coast and Midwest, with rain and record highs forecast in Chicago and Minneapolis. This month, climate scientists confirmed 2023 will officially be the hottest year on record, with carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere at their highest level in about 14 million years.

Jury Acquits 3 Tacoma Officers Who Killed 33-Year-Old Unarmed Black Father Manuel Ellis

Dec 22, 2023

In Tacoma, Washington, a jury acquitted three police officers in the 2020 killing of 33-year-old Manuel Ellis, an unarmed Black man. The officers violently arrested and beat Ellis on the side of the road; he died while in handcuffs and telling officers “I can’t breathe.” The Pierce County medical examiner ruled the cause of death was homicide from oxygen deprivation “due to physical restraint.” Following the verdict Thursday, community members took to the streets to demand justice for Manuel Ellis. This is organizer and incoming City Councilmember Jamika Scott.

Jamika Scott: “We’re not going to sit here and cry. We’re not going to pout. We’re not going to let a 'not guilty' verdict in a kangaroo court deter us from what we know to be righteous, to be true.”

GOP Crackdown on “Voter Fraud” Targets Voters of Color, Democrats

Dec 22, 2023

A Washington Post investigation has found a Republican-led crackdown on alleged voter fraud has overwhelmingly targeted Democrats and people of color. The Post found Black and Latinx people made up more than 75% of defendants accused of voter fraud in states including Florida, Texas and Ohio, with registered Democrats more than two-and-a-half times as likely as Republicans to be prosecuted. So-called election integrity units in Virginia, Georgia and Arkansas failed to obtain a single guilty verdict despite millions of dollars spent investigating alleged irregularities.

Trump Audio Shows Ex-President Pressured Michigan Election Workers Not to Certify His 2020 Defeat

Dec 22, 2023

In Michigan, former President Donald Trump personally pressured two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers not to sign the certification of the 2020 presidential election after his loss to Joe Biden. That’s according to The Detroit News, which reviewed audio of a November 17, 2020, phone call in which Trump told the canvassers they’d look “terrible” if they signed the documents. After the call, the two officials tried but failed to rescind their votes to certify Biden’s election win, and filed legal affidavits saying they were pressured.

Giuliani Files for Bankruptcy After Judge Orders Him to Pay $148M to Defamed Election Workers

Dec 22, 2023

Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani filed for bankruptcy protection in New York on Thursday, just a day after a federal judge ruled that he must immediately pay the $148 million he owes to former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. Giuliani was found liable in August for defaming the African American mother and daughter after he falsely accused them of committing fraud as they tallied ballots in Atlanta during the 2020 election, leading to a torrent of death threats from Trump supporters. In his Chapter 11 filing, Giuliani listed debts of up to half a billion dollars — including nearly $1 million in unpaid taxes. However, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell remains skeptical, writing, “Such claims of Giuliani’s 'financial difficulties' — no matter how many times repeated or publicly disseminated and duly reported in the media — are difficult to square with the fact that Giuliani affords a spokesperson, who accompanied him daily to trial.”

Gunman Kills at Least 14 in Prague University Rampage, Czech Republic’s Worst Mass Shooting

Dec 22, 2023

The Czech Republic will observe a national day of mourning Saturday as the country reels following its worst-ever mass shooting. The gunman, believed to be 24-year-old student David Kozak, opened fire at Prague’s Charles University on Thursday, killing at least 14 people and wounding 25 others. He was confirmed dead at the scene. The shooter is also suspected of killing his father before the rampage at the university. Video shows a group of students balanced precariously on a building’s open ledge as they sought to escape the gunman. Kozak was reportedly inspired by recent mass shootings in Russia. This is a former student of Charles University, who was visiting her mother, who lives next to the school, at the time of the shooting.

Kristyna Borecka: “It looks like it’s something unprecedented in the country, and I think everybody is completely shaken. For us, it’s even worse because we’re locals and because we’re graduates of the Philosophy Faculty. We go there sometimes to visit.”

U.S. Judge Blocks Law That Would Ban Guns in Public Places

Dec 22, 2023

In California, a federal judge blocked a state law that would have banned carrying firearms in most public spaces, less than two weeks before it was due to go into effect. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the law in September, which would bar guns in parks, playgrounds, medical facilities, places of worship, banks and on public transportation, among other places. Judge Cormac Carney, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, said the law was “repugnant to the Second Amendment.” California Attorney General Rob Bonta is appealing the ruling.

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