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HeadlinesDecember 28, 2023

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Israel Raids 10 Cities Across Occupied West Bank

Dec 28, 2023

Israel’s military has launched its most intense raids in the occupied West Bank since Israel began its assault on the Gaza Strip following Hamas’s attack on October 7. Overnight, Israeli forces raided 10 cities, including Ramallah, where at least one Palestinian was shot and killed and 15 others wounded during confrontations with Israeli soldiers. The Palestine Monetary Authority says Israeli troops targeted at least six money exchange companies, seizing over $2 million worth of funds. Meanwhile, disturbing details are emerging about an Israeli drone strike on the Nur Shams refugee camp that killed six Palestinians. The head of the Tulkarem Medical Syndicate reports Israeli soldiers stopped and boarded ambulances carrying people injured in the bombing. One patient was reportedly stabbed in the neck, while two others were removed from ambulances and severely beaten.

Two Journalists Among at Least 50 Palestinians Killed in Latest Israeli Strikes on Gaza

Dec 28, 2023

The World Health Organization warns tens of thousands of Palestinians are fleeing Israeli attacks on central and southern Gaza as devastating airstrikes continue to kill civilians. Palestinian health officials say the latest assaults have killed at least 50 people in areas including Beit Lahia, Khan Younis and Maghazi. Among those killed are two more media workers. TV journalist Mohammad Khair al-Din and his camera operator Ahmed Khair al-Din were killed when Israel’s military attacked a residential square in Beit Lahia. Gaza’s Government Media Office says they are the 104th and 105th journalists killed in the Gaza Strip since October.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s public health crisis continues to deepen, with starving residents increasingly stopping aid shipments in search of food and drinkable water. Hundreds of thousands of Gazans have been effectively cut off from medical care. Sean Casey, emergency medical team coordinator for the World Health Organization, says hospital capacity is at about 20% of what it was in early October.

Sean Casey: “So, almost all of the hospital beds, almost all of the hospital services have stopped functioning, either because the facilities themselves have been affected, because the staff have been forced to flee, because they run out of power or they run out of medical supplies, or the staff have not been able to access them.”

300,000 Flee Sudan’s Jazeera State as RSF Paramilitaries Expand Control

Dec 28, 2023

The United Nations warns some 300,000 people in Sudan have been forced to flee the state of Jazeera as paramilitaries with the feared Rapid Support Forces have pressed further south from the capital Khartoum, expanding their war against Sudan’s army while pillaging supplies of food and valuables. On Wednesday, the leader of the RSF, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said he had met with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni in his first appearance outside Sudan since he launched a campaign of violence aimed at the ouster of Sudan’s ruling military junta. The RSF has since been accused of carrying out a genocide in West Darfur. Seven million people are displaced, and almost two-thirds of Sudan’s population, or about 30 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

AP: Russia Vastly Understated Death Toll from Floods Unleashed by Ukraine Dam Breach

Dec 28, 2023

An Associated Press investigation has found Russian occupation authorities vastly and deliberately undercounted the number of people killed by severe flooding that followed the catastrophic explosion last June at the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region. Ukraine blames Russian forces for blowing up the dam to counter Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive. Russia claims 59 people died in the disaster, but an AP report puts the true number far higher, with hundreds dead in the Russian-occupied town of Oleshky alone.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced a military aid package to Ukraine worth $250 million, including air defense systems, rockets for mobile launchers, anti-armor munitions and millions of rounds of ammunition. It’s the last aid package to Ukraine the U.S. will provide unless Congress approves the Biden administration’s request for billions of dollars in additional funding to Ukraine.

World’s Top 15 Largest Arms Makers Saw Revenues Soar in 2022-’23

Dec 28, 2023

The world’s 15 largest weapons manufacturers have seen revenues soar in the 2020s as governments placed new orders for heavy weaponry and record supplies of ammunition. That’s according to the Financial Times, which found in a new analysis that such expenditures soared in 2022 by more than 10%, compared two years prior, as the U.S. and NATO allies poured billions of dollars’ worth of arms into Ukraine. A global benchmark for the weapons industry’s share prices is up 25% over the past year, while a European arms and aerospace stock index is up by over 50% over the same period.

Protesters Block Roads to Airports in L.A., New York to Demand Gaza Ceasefire

Dec 28, 2023

Here in New York, at least 26 people were arrested Wednesday as they blocked an expressway leading to JFK Airport in a nonviolent civil disobedience protest demanding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Protesters linked arms and held banners reading “Right to Return, Right to Remain” and “Divest from Genocide,” snarling traffic to New York’s busiest airport for about 20 minutes during the busiest travel week of the year. In Los Angeles, 36 people were arrested at a simultaneous protest that blocked traffic near Los Angeles International Airport.

Argentine Unions Defy Ban to Protest Austerity Measures Imposed by President Milei

Dec 28, 2023

Argentina’s far-right President Javier Milei said Tuesday his government would not renew contracts for more than 5,000 employees hired this year before his inauguration earlier this month. The mass firings follow a presidential decree by Milei last week that seeks to massively deregulate Argentine businesses, privatize state-run industries, slash workers’ wages, while massively cracking down on civil liberties, including the right to hold protests. On Wednesday, thousands defied the ban on protests to take to the streets of Buenos Aires. This is Eduardo Belliboni, leader of the progressive workers’ rights organization Polo Obrero.

Eduardo Belliboni: “There’s a violation of workers’ fundamental rights in Argentina. They are attacking our wages. People are being denied the right to protest brutal adjustments that will affect the poor. Workers are suffering wage cuts by a government that benefits the interests of the big business owners.”

Michigan Court Rules Trump’s Name Can Remain on 2024 Ballot Despite Attempted Insurrection

Dec 28, 2023

Michigan’s Supreme Court has ruled Donald Trump can remain on the state’s primary ballot. The court declined to hear a lawsuit arguing that the former president was constitutionally ineligible for public office after inciting the January 6 insurrection. Last week, Colorado’s Supreme Court disqualified Trump, citing the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment, which was written to prevent Civil War Confederates from returning to government. The Republican Party in Colorado has appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, ensuring that Donald Trump’s name will remain on the Colorado primary ballot since it has to be printed up in the next few weeks. A number of other states, including Maine, are hearing similar cases. On Wednesday, Trump filed a request for the Democratic secretary of state of Maine to recuse herself from the case.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, the FBI and local police are investigating a slew of threats targeting judges who voted last week to disqualify Trump from the 2024 ballot.

In other Trump news, special counsel Jack Smith has asked a federal court to bar the former president from sowing disinformation in his federal 2020 election interference case. In a filing, prosecutors wrote, “The Court should not permit the defendant to turn the courtroom into a forum in which he propagates irrelevant disinformation, and should reject his attempt to inject politics into this proceeding.”

Presidential Hopeful Nikki Haley Won’t Cite Slavery as Cause of U.S. Civil War

Dec 28, 2023

On the campaign trial, Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley on Wednesday did not cite slavery when asked what she believed caused the U.S. Civil War. Haley was fielding a question from a participant of a town hall meeting in Berlin, New Hampshire.

Nikki Haley: “We need to have capitalism. We need to have economic freedom. We need to make sure that we do all things so that individuals have the liberties so that they can have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to do or be anything they want to be without government getting in the way.”

Town hall participant: “Thank you. And in the year 2023, it’s astonishing to me that you answered that question without mentioning the word 'slavery.'”

Nikki Haley: “What do you want me to say about slavery?”

Town hall participant: “No, you answered my question. Thank you.”

Nikki Haley: “Next question.”

Nikki Haley is the former governor of South Carolina.

Tom Smothers, Who Fought CBS Censorship of Civil Rights Leaders and Antiwar Voices, Dies at 86

Dec 28, 2023

The comedian and folk musician Tom Smothers has died at the age of 86. With his brother, he hosted “The Smothers Brothers,” a pioneering TV show in the 1960s which made headlines for its fights over censorship with CBS for tackling topics like the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. In 1967, the Smothers Brothers convinced CBS to allow Pete Seeger to appear on the show even though he had been blacklisted from TV since the 1950s. While CBS finally said yes, the network refused to air the segment after Pete Seeger sang out against the Vietnam War. In 2003, Pete Seeger appeared on Democracy Now! and talked about what happened.

Pete Seeger: “Finally, in October, they said, 'OK, you can have him on.' And I sang this song: 'Waste deep in the big muddy, the big fool says to push on.' The tape was made in California, flown to New York. And in New York they scissored the song out. And now the Smothers Brothers took to the print media and said, 'CBS is censoring our best jokes. They censored Seeger's best song.’ And they got some publicity.”

Click here to see the whole interview. CBS finally allowed Pete Seeger’s performance to air months later, thanks in part due to pressure from Tom Smothers. Smothers died at the age of 86 on Tuesday in Santa Rosa, California.

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