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HeadlinesJanuary 03, 2024

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Senior Hamas Leader Killed in Lebanon Amid Growing Fears of Wider Regional War

Jan 03, 2024

Fears of a regional war in the Middle East are growing after a top Hamas official was assassinated in a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday. Hamas’s deputy leader, Saleh al-Arouri, was killed in a suspected Israeli drone strike that also killed six other members of Hamas. Al-Arouri was the chief of Hamas’s operations in the occupied West Bank. He was also credited with strengthening ties between Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah. In the West Bank, Palestinians are holding a general strike today to protest al-Arouri’s assassination.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, is scheduled to give a speech today responding to the killing. While Israel has not claimed responsibility for the assassination, one prominent Israeli lawmaker congratulated the Mossad and Shin Bet on social media. An Israeli army spokesperson said the military was in a “very high state of readiness in all arenas, in defense and offense.” Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the drone strike, warning that the attack “aims to draw Lebanon into a new phase of confrontations.” U.N. officials in Lebanon are urging all sides to show restraint to avoid a wider conflict.

Blasts Kill Dozens Near Grave of Slain Gen. Soleimani as Iran Marks 4 Years Since U.S. Assassination

Jan 03, 2024

Iranian state media reported at least 50 people were killed and scores injured after at least two blasts went off at an event marking four years since the death of General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. Soleimani was the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force.

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Israeli Attacks Continue to Target Hospitals and Homes in Gaza as Death Toll Soars

Jan 03, 2024

In Gaza, the death toll from Israel’s nearly three-month-long bombardment has topped 22,300. An Israeli strike on the Palestinian Red Crescent’s headquarters in Khan Younis has killed at least five people, including a 5-day-old baby. Gemma Connell, who works with the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Gaza, spoke from the Al-Amal Hospital after the attack.

Gemma Connell: “This is a space where children were living. You can see on the floor the blood. The world should be absolutely horrified. The world should be absolutely outraged. A child was killed here today. Four more people were killed here today in a space that should be safe. But there is no safe space in Gaza, and the world should be ashamed.”

In Rafah, a Palestinian man has set up a tent on the rubble of his former home, which was blown up in an Israeli strike that killed his wife, six children and two grandchildren. Hamada Abu Sleyma said he survived because he had gone out to find food.

Hamada Abu Sleyma: “This place used to be the house of my family, my house, and I’m the only survivor in my family. What separated us was that I wanted to get bread from the bakery. … I wish I died with them. I wish there was no four or five minutes when I was away. That would be better than me living like this. Loneliness is tough, and parting is hard, but I’m asking God at the beginning of the new year, 2024, to give peace to the people and to give peace to the Palestinian people and for this pain to end.”

In other news from Gaza, the U.N. says half of the population is now at risk of starvation. Arif Husain, the chief economist at the World Food Programme, told The New York Times, “I’ve been to pretty much any conflict, whether Yemen, whether it was South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, Ethiopia, you name it. And I have never seen anything like this, both in terms of its scale, its magnitude, but also at the pace that this has unfolded.”

Survivors of Hamas Oct. 7 Music Festival Attack Sue Israeli Security Forces

Jan 03, 2024

In Israel, 42 survivors of the October 7 attack by Hamas are suing the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and Israeli police over the massacre. The plaintiffs, who were attending the Nova music festival in southern Israel on October 7, accuse Israeli security forces of approving the event amid safety concerns and failing to shut down and disperse the crowd after receiving information about a security breach just hours before the killing spree. This comes as an investigation from The New York Times finds Israeli forces were poorly organized in their response and had no plans to stop such an attack, which went ahead “unimpeded” for hours.

Harvard President Claudine Gay Resigns After Mounting Right-Wing Attacks and Antisemitism Hearing

Jan 03, 2024

Harvard President Claudine Gay has resigned amid a mounting firestorm, fueled by right-wing politicians and media, over free speech and support for Palestinian rights on campus. Claudine Gay, Harvard’s first Black president, announced she was stepping down Tuesday, just six months into her tenure and weeks after University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill’s resignation. Both women resigned in the wake of last month’s congressional hearing on antisemitism, where they were grilled by lawmakers, including far-right Congressmember Elise Stefanik, who gloated, ”TWO DOWN,” on social media following yesterday’s news. Sally Kornbluth of MIT is the third president Stefanik is hoping to “take down.”

Following the hearing, conservative activists proceeded to smear Gay’s academic history, accusing her of plagiarism after uncovering instances of inadequate citations in her work. In her resignation letter, Claudine Gay wrote, “It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor … and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.” We’ll have more on this story after headlines.

Sudan’s Paramilitary RSF Says It’s Open to Immediate Ceasefire as Displacement Reaches Record High

Jan 03, 2024

In Sudan, the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said his forces are open to an immediate, unconditional ceasefire. Dagalo, known as Hemedti, made the declaration Tuesday as he signed an agreement with the newly formed civilian bloc, the Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces, or Taqaddum, which is led by former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo: “From here, we apologize to all our people in Sudan, in all its states — east, west, north, south and center — for all the violations that took place. … We are now extending our hands for peace. If they want peace, welcome. Nothing will make us leave Khartoum except peace.”

This comes as Hemedti has been touring neighboring countries, meeting with the heads of Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti, in what appears to be an attempt to gain legitimacy as Sudan’s leader ahead of any cessation of violence. Since the war between the RSF and the Sudanese army broke out last April, over 7 million people have been displaced within Sudan, making it the largest internal displacement crisis in the world. Another 1.3 million have fled the country. Some 30 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Reports of mass killings and ethnic cleansing have been mounting in Darfur. Activists say the Sudanese people and its pro-democracy resistance committees are the ones who should decide the country’s fate, and warn the RSF is attempting to whitewash its crimes.

Somalia Blasts Somaliland-Ethiopia Red Sea Port Deal as Violation of Its Sovereignty

Jan 03, 2024

The Somali government is denouncing an agreement between Ethiopia and the breakaway republic of Somaliland that would give landlocked Ethiopia access to the Red Sea port of Berbera. The Somali government has denounced the deal as an “act of aggression” and recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia.

Farhan Mohamed Jimale: “Ethiopia’s step is an offensive that endangers the stability and peace of the region, which was already wobbling with problems. It is a violation and an open invasion of Somalia’s sovereignty, freedom and unity of the Federal Republic of Somalia. The so-called memorandum of understanding and agreement of cooperation is null and void.”

The breakaway republic of Somaliland has not been internationally recognized since seceding from Somalia more than 30 years ago. Access to the Red Sea port is allegedly being exchanged for Ethiopia’s future recognition of Somaliland’s independence, though this has not been confirmed by Ethiopia.

New Minimum 15% Global Corporate Tax Rate Goes into Effect

Jan 03, 2024

Many major multinational companies must for the first time ever pay a global minimum tax of at least 15% on corporate profits. The landmark tax reforms went into effect Monday, nearly three years after 140 countries agreed to a new system, which is expected to increase tax revenue by $220 billion per year. The U.S. is not currently participating in the reform despite backing the 2021 agreement. Countries that have implemented the 15% tax since January 1 include the EU, the U.K., Australia, South Korea, Japan and Canada, as well as nations known as tax havens, like Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Barbados. The Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research said the new global minimum tax would “reduce incentives from companies to use tax havens and incentives for countries to be tax havens … put[ting] a serious brake on what was a race to the bottom.”

Prosecutors Charge Bob Menendez with Accepting Bribes for Aiding Qatari Government

Jan 03, 2024

Embattled New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is facing renewed calls to resign after prosecutors issued a new, superseding indictment accusing the Democrat of accepting bribes and abusing his power to benefit the government of Qatar between 2021 and 2023. Federal prosecutors say Menendez publicly praised Qatar in order to aid his associate, businessman Fred Daibes, in securing an investment from a fund linked to the Qatari government. In exchange, Menendez allegedly received luxury gifts including gold bars, tickets to a Formula One race, and offers of an expensive wristwatch. Menendez was already facing charges of aiding the Egyptian government. The senator and his four co-defendants, including his wife and Fred Daibes, have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to stand trial in New York City in May.

Rev. William Barber Shines Light on Disability Discrimination After Being Forced Out of Movie Theater

Jan 03, 2024

Civil rights leader Rev. Dr. William Barber is calling for more awareness and justice for disabled people following his ouster from a Greenville, North Carolina, movie theater last week. Barber said staff at the AMC theater confronted him over his use of a specialized chair he carries with him and needs to use due to an arthritic condition he has had for decades. The reverend was attending a screening of “The Color Purple” with his 90-year-old mother. Rev. Barber says his removal was a violation of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act as he addressed the incident at a press conference this week.

Bishop William Barber II: “The ADA act owes its birthright not to any one person. People worked for years. They sent alerts. They drafted legislation. They testified. They negotiated. They filed lawsuits. They stood up in places. They sat down in places. They wouldn’t move from places. They fought. They stood. They engaged in nonviolence to say, 'You will not push to the corner. You will not block us from coming just because we're differently able.’ They built a movement. They built a movement.”

Bishop Barber met with the head of AMC yesterday and said he plans another meeting with him.

Trump Appeals Maine Decision to Block Him from Primary Ballot

Jan 03, 2024

Donald Trump appealed a decision by Maine’s secretary of state to remove him from the Republican primary ballot for his role in the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Trump is also expected to appeal Colorado’s Supreme Court decision to remove him from its state primary ballot, which also cited the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment. The case will likely end up before the Supreme Court, where three of the nine justices were chosen by the former president.

Eddie Bernice Johnson, Pioneering U.S. Congressmember from Dallas, Has Died at 88

Jan 03, 2024

Trailblazing U.S. Congressmember Eddie Bernice Johnson has died at the age of 88. In 1972, Johnson was elected to the Texas House of Representatives by a landslide, becoming the first Black woman from Dallas to win elected office. She also served in the Texas Senate before winning a seat in the U.S. House in 1992, where she served for three decades before retiring in 2022. Eddie Bernice Johnson was a pioneer in many fields, including the first registered nurse elected to Congress, the first African American to represent Dallas in Congress and the first woman and first African American to chair the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

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