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HeadlinesJanuary 29, 2024

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Drone Attack in Jordan Kills 3 U.S. Soldiers; Pentagon Blames Iran

Jan 29, 2024

The Pentagon has accused Iranian-backed militants of killing three U.S. soldiers and injuring 34 others in a drone strike at a base in Jordan near the Syrian and Iraq border. On Sunday, President Biden vowed the U.S. would respond “at a time and in a manner of our choosing.” The attack comes less than a month after a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad killed the head of an Iranian-backed militia. A group called the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for attacking the U.S. forces in Jordan. Iran has denied any involvement.

In a statement, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq said, “If the U.S. keeps supporting Israel, there will be escalations. All U.S. interests in the region are legitimate targets, and we don’t care about U.S. threats to respond.” The drone strike was the first fatal attack on U.S. forces in the Middle East since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. Two U.S. Navy SEALs died on January 11 after going overboard while raiding a ship suspected of carrying Iranian arms off the coast of Somalia.

UNRWA Blasts “Additional Collective Punishment” as U.S. and 12 Other Countries Halt Aid

Jan 29, 2024

In Gaza, Israeli attacks have killed at least 373 Palestinians since Friday, when the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take all possible measures to prevent genocide in Gaza.

In another major development, the United States and at least 12 other nations have suspended funding to UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, after Israel accused 12 employees of the agency of taking part in the Hamas attack on October 7. UNRWA is one of the largest employers in Gaza with a staff of over 13,000. It provides essential aid to most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents. The agency responded to Israel’s allegations by firing nine employees. The head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, condemned the freezing of funds at a time when famine is looming in Gaza. He said, “Palestinians in Gaza did not need this additional collective punishment. This stains all of us.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh urged countries to reverse their decision to freeze UNRWA funds.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh: “The suspension of aid is in line with the Israeli plans for the forced evacuation of our people from Gaza into Egypt. The suspension of aid comes at the most difficult times, at a time when the International Court of Justice has called for an immediate supply and increased supplies and international aid into Gaza. UNRWA provide aid for 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza.”

Israeli Settlers, Far-Right Cabinet Members Meet in Jerusalem, Vow to Build More Illegal Settlements

Jan 29, 2024

Thousands of Israelis gathered in Jerusalem Sunday for a major conference calling for Palestinians to be removed from Gaza in order to rebuild Jewish settlements. Speakers at the conference included Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

Bezalel Smotrich: “We are settling our land from width to length, controlling it and fighting terror always and bringing, with God’s help, security to all of Israel. You know what the answer is. Without settlement, there is no security.”

U.S. Court Hears Testimony in Trial Against Biden and His Admin for Funding Israeli Assault on Gaza

Jan 29, 2024

A group of Palestinian Americans asked a federal judge on Friday to bar the United States from providing military, financial and diplomatic support to Israel for committing genocide in Gaza. The Biden administration has asked the judge to dismiss the case, which was brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights. One of the lawyers in the case, Marc Van Der Hout, spoke outside the federal courthouse in Oakland on Friday.

Marc Van Der Hout: “We are very hopeful. We think the evidence was overwhelming. The government, the administration, did not even contest, really, that there was genocide going on. They just say, 'Judge, whatever is going on, whether it's 20,000 or 30,000 or 50,000 or 200,000 or 2.2 million people who are ultimately killed, you can’t do anything, Judge. Nobody can do anything. The president can do whatever the hell he wants.’ And what do we say to that? We say hell no.”

In related news, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged the FBI to investigate pro-Palestinian protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Without sharing any evidence, Pelosi claimed on CNN that the protesters may have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pelosi said, “For them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin’s message.”

Jury Ordered Trump to Pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 Million for Defaming Her in 2019

Jan 29, 2024

A federal jury ordered Donald Trump to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages for defaming her in 2019, while he was president of the United States. This comes on top of the $5 million in damages he was ordered to pay Carroll last year by another jury, when he was found liable for sexually abusing Carroll in the 1990s and defaming her. In a statement, Caroll said, “This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she’s been knocked down and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down.” Trump said he would appeal Friday’s ruling.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, a judge is expected to rule this week on a $370 million civil fraud case brought against Trump by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Biden Admin OKs $23 Billion Fighter Jet Sale to Turkey

Jan 29, 2024

The Biden administration approved a $23 billion deal to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. The State Department notified Congress of its decision on Friday, just days after Turkish lawmakers voted to allow Sweden to join NATO.

Court Blocks U.N.-Approved Plan for Kenyan Police to Deploy to Haiti

Jan 29, 2024

A Kenyan court blocked a plan to send 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti to help combat gang violence, ruling the move was unconstitutional. The U.N. Security Council approved the mission last year, and Kenyan forces were due to deploy as early as this month. In Haiti, the reaction to the news was mixed, as some residents have called for foreign intervention amid the spiraling violence. Others have rejected any outside actors coming to Haiti.

Psycka Lemaire: “The crisis is a Haitian crisis. I remember in 2005 through 2006, when the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti arrived in Haiti. They left behind children, diseases like cholera. They left many children without dads. Today, if we are united, we can do wonders.”

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Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso Withdraw from ECOWAS

Jan 29, 2024

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso announced they are withdrawing from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS. All three countries are led by military governments following coups in recent years. The nations released a joint statement, accusing the 15-country bloc of being “under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles” and “becoming a threat to its member states and its population.” Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso have expelled the military of their former colonizer France, and were already suspended by ECOWAS in the wake of the military takeovers.

Biden Pauses New LNG Exports After Years of Activist Organizing

Jan 29, 2024

In a major victory for the climate movement, the Biden administration on Friday paused approvals for new liquified natural gas, or LNG, export terminals. The move comes after years of organizing by activists and frontline Gulf communities who have decried the projects as carbon “mega bombs.” This is Roishetta Sibley Ozane of the environmental justice organization the Vessel Project.

Roishetta Sibley Ozane: “Being a mom of six children living in this community where my children have asthma and other skin conditions that they are battling every day, I know that these facilities are not in the public interest. Living in a community that smells like rotten eggs and chemicals, I know that these facilities are not in the public interest. But this pause is not just a minor achievement, it is a significant milestone. It sets the stage for potential rejections and slows down the progress of these projects.”

Court Paves Way for New Formosa Plastics Plant in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley”

Jan 29, 2024

A Louisiana court OK’d environmental permits for a new Formosa Plastics facility in St. James Parish. It would be the country’s largest plastics plant. The area, located along the Mississippi River, is already known as “Cancer Alley” due to the many toxic chemical plants that have sickened the majority-Black population. Residents and activists have vowed to keep fighting the proposed Formosa plant.

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