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HeadlinesJanuary 10, 2024

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Antony Blinken Laments “Far Too Much Loss of Life” in Gaza as He Reasserts U.S. Support for Israel

Jan 10, 2024

Israel has intensified its bombing and ground assault in central and southern Gaza. Dozens of people were killed in overnight attacks, including in the so-called safe zone of Rafah city. In the occupied West Bank, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today as protesters outside condemned the U.S.'s funding and backing of Israel's devastating assault on Gaza, which has now killed over 23,000 Palestinians in just over three months. On Tuesday, Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reaffirming the U.S.’s “unique bond” with Israel and advocating for a regional resolution “that includes a pathway to a Palestinian state.” Blinken addressed reporters from Tel Aviv.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “We want this war to end as soon as possible. There’s been far too much loss of life, far too much suffering. But it’s vital that Israel achieve its very legitimate objectives of ensuring that October 7th can never happen again. … In today’s meetings, I was also crystal clear: Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow. They must not be pressed to leave Gaza.”

Blinken also rejected South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, which starts Thursday, as “meritless.”

A staggering 1.9 million Gazans have been displaced, over 85% of the territory’s population. This is 8-year-old Abdel Jaber Mohammed al-Farra in Khan Younis, who was forced to flee his home with his father and younger brother.

Abdel Jaber Mohammed al-Farra: “We were living safely. Now we are left on the streets, no tent or anything. We are staying in the street. We have no place or anything. … I never saw bombing like this in my life. I was in third grade. I did not complete my school year. This is something I never saw in my life. … The situation is very tragic. We’re asking all countries to send aid, open the Rafah border crossing to get all the aid in, to end the war, end this injustice against us.”

San Francisco; Bridgeport, CT; Albany Are Latest U.S. Municipalities to Pass Ceasefire Resolutions

Jan 10, 2024

Academics for Peace, a grassroots group of Israeli American and Jewish American scholars, has released a petition with over 2,000 signatories, including five Nobel laureates, calling on the U.S. to lead negotiations on an immediate ceasefire, a hostage-prisoner exchange, and getting humanitarian aid to Gaza. Academics for Peace writes, “75 years of displacement, 56 years of occupation, and 16 years of blockade have generated an ever-worsening spiral of violence that can only be stopped with a political solution.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution calling for a sustained ceasefire in Gaza. It’s the latest municipality to call for a ceasefire even as the U.S. government refuses to do so. Last week, Bridgeport became the first city in Connecticut to adopt such a measure, and the Albany Common Council also approved a ceasefire resolution.

Constituents of Reps. Katherine Clark, Elise Stefanik Accuse Lawmakers of Genocide

Jan 10, 2024

Meanwhile, protests continue against lawmakers who refuse to demand a ceasefire and an end to U.S. support for Israel’s assault. In Revere, Massachusetts, constituents of Democratic Whip Katherine Clark held a procession, carrying white bundles to represent the shrouded bodies of the more than 9,000 children who have been killed in Gaza. The protest ended in front of Clark’s home, where Palestinian Americans delivered speeches. This is Lea Kayali.

Lea Kayali: “I will not appeal to your false sense of morality. It is obvious that politicians like you only speak the language of power. So hear me when I say this: Do not underestimate our power. We, your constituents, are your bosses. And as people of conscience, we charge you, Representative Clark, with genocide.”

Here in New York, constituents of Congressmember Elise Stefanik sent a letter urging the Republican lawmaker to “resign immediately for your aiding and abetting genocide of Palestinians in Gaza by voting to send arms to the IDF to perpetrate the crime in violation of the Genocide Convention.” The letter also raised Stefanik’s role in the ouster of the presidents of Harvard and UPenn for allowing pro-Palestinian protests on campus.

Trump’s Immunity Claim in Election Subversion Case Met with Skepticism at Appeals Court Hearing

Jan 10, 2024

Judges for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals expressed skepticism as they heard arguments from Donald Trump’s legal team Tuesday over his 2020 election subversion case. Trump’s lawyers claimed he should receive immunity from criminal charges, arguing a president can only be charged with a crime if they’ve already been impeached and convicted by Congress. This is Judge Florence Pan questioning attorney D. John Sauer as Trump looked on.

Judge Florence Pan: “Could a president order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival? That’s an official act, an order to SEAL Team Six?”

D. John Sauer: “He would have to be, and would speedily be, you know, impeached and convicted before the criminal prosecution.”

Judge Florence Pan: “But if he weren’t — but if he weren’t, there would be no criminal prosecution, no criminal liability for that?”

D. John Sauer: “Chief Justice’s opinion, Marbury against Madison, and our Constitution, and the plain language of the impeachment judgment clause all clearly presuppose that what the founders were concerned about was not” —

Judge Florence Pan: “I asked you a yes-or-no question. Could a president who ordered SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival, who was not impeached, could he be subject to criminal prosecution?”

D. John Sauer: “If he were impeached and convicted first.”

Following the hearing, Trump warned of “bedlam” if the Justice Department’s case against him damages his chances at reelection. Trump also warned he’d go after Biden, if reelected.

Donald Trump: “He has to be careful, because that can happen to him also. The next president, whoever that may be, has a statute of limitations that go back six years. That’s a long time, Joe. You have to be very careful.”

Ecuador in Turmoil as Drug Lord Escapes Prison, Armed Men Take Over Live Broadcast

Jan 10, 2024

Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa on Tuesday declared “a state of emergency” and “internal armed conflict” as drug trafficking violence continues to soar. Noboa’s announcement came a day after one of Ecuador’s most notorious drug lords escaped from prison, and as hooded and armed men interrupted a live TV news broadcast, taking the staff hostage. Noboa designated at least 20 drug trafficking organizations as terrorist groups, authorizing Ecuador’s military to do whatever it takes to suppress the crime factions.

Adm. Jaime Vela: “From this moment, all terrorist groups identified in the presidential decree is a military target. The present and the future of our homeland is at stake. And any act of terror will make us give in. We will not step back nor negotiate. Public good, justice and order can’t ask for permission or bow their head in front of terrorists.”

“An Irrevocable Black Mark”: Widespread Condemnation as Norway Approves Deep Sea Mining

Jan 10, 2024

Norwegian lawmakers voted 80 to 20 to allow deep sea mining despite widespread warnings and condemnation from scientists, environmentalists, as well as the U.K. government and the EU. Norway’s government says seabed exploitation could help power an economy less reliant on fossil fuels. One of the Earth’s remaining untouched habitats, the deep sea contains raw materials including cobalt, zinc and gold. Under Norway’s new plans, companies will have to apply for exploration licenses and exploitation permits. The Environmental Justice Foundation called the decision “an irrevocable black mark on Norway’s reputation as a responsible ocean state,” adding, “We know so little about the deep ocean, but we know enough to be sure that mining it will wipe out unique wildlife, disturb the world’s largest carbon store, and do nothing to speed the transition to clean economies.”

Lloyd Austin’s Prostate Cancer Diagnosis Revealed Amid Controversy over Secrecy of His Health

Jan 10, 2024

The Pentagon has vowed to “do better” after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s prostate cancer diagnosis was disclosed Tuesday. President Biden received the news within hours of the general public. This comes after revelations Biden and top Pentagon officials were also kept in the dark for several days about Austin’s hospitalization last week following complications from the treatment. White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients ordered a review of Cabinet protocols for delegating authority, while some Republican lawmakers are calling for Austin to step down amid the mounting controversy. Austin’s doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery.

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Migrant Families Expelled from NYC Hotel After Mayor Adams Issues New 60-Day Shelter Limit

Jan 10, 2024

Here in New York City, the first group of migrant families have been evicted from their temporary shelter as city officials begin to enforce a 60-day limit. About 40 migrant families were forced to leave a hotel in midtown Manhattan Tuesday, where many had been staying for over a year. Some reapplied for access to shelter, as they have nowhere else to go.

Zoe: “We’re human beings and need to be relocated, because we need a roof to stay under, even more now that it’s colder. They should think about the kids. I know it’s not an obligation, because they didn’t ask us to come here, but if you see what someone goes through for someone to arrive here, it is hard.”

The time restriction was imposed by New York City Mayor Eric Adams in October, claiming it was necessary to relieve the city’s shelter system that he says has been overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of asylum seekers. About 70,000 migrants are currently being temporarily housed in hotels, tent camps and shelters for unhoused people. New York City Comptroller Brad Lander refuted Mayor Adams’s claims.

Brad Lander: “Everybody at The Row had a room. We’re kicking them out of their rooms. You can’t say we don’t have room. They’re in rooms. Do we need more money to provide more space? Yes. But I’ve talked to dozens of churches and synagogues and mosques who want to provide their space. We need federal help, but we also need better management from City Hall and some basic compassion.”

Meanwhile, another 500 migrant families were relocated from a massive south Brooklyn tent camp to a nearby high school Tuesday night as heavy rains and winds hit the area. The Floyd Bennett Field camp is set up on an isolated former airplane runway off the bay.

Biden Admin Issues Rule Extending Labor Benefits for Hourly, Low-Wage Gig Workers

Jan 10, 2024

The Labor Department issued a final rule Tuesday extending benefits and other protections to millions of hourly and low-wage gig workers. The move reverses a Trump-era rule and reclassifies “independent contractors” as “employees,” allowing them to access minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance and Social Security benefits. Janitors, home care workers, construction workers and truck drivers are among those who stand to benefit from the change. Businesses are expected to launch legal challenges, and ride-share companies Uber and Lyft, which have been fighting the new policy, said they will not reclassify drivers, though the Labor Department could move to force both companies to abide by the new rule.

U.S. Police Killed at Least 1,232 People in 2023

Jan 10, 2024

U.S. police forces killed over 1,200 people in 2023, making last year the deadliest for murders at the hands of law enforcement in at least a decade. That’s according to data from the group Mapping Police Violence, which showed an average of about three people killed by police daily. This includes the fatal beating of 29-year-old Black father Tyre Nichols in Memphis, who died one year ago today, after being assaulted by officers from the elite SCORPION unit during a traffic stop.

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