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HeadlinesJanuary 31, 2024

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Half of Gaza’s Buildings Destroyed or Damaged in Israeli Assault

Jan 31, 2024

New satellite imagery shows at least 144,000 buildings in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed since the Israeli bombardment began nearly four months ago — that’s more than half of all buildings in the Gaza Strip, including mosques, schools, universities and cultural sites. Corey Scher of the City University of New York told the BBC, “We’ve done work over Ukraine, we’ve also looked at Aleppo and other cities, but the extent and the pace of damage is remarkable. I’ve never seen this much damage appear so quickly.”

U.N. Heads Warn Defunding UNRWA Will Have “Catastrophic Consequences” in Gaza

Jan 31, 2024

The heads of multiple U.N. organizations are warning Gaza will face “catastrophic consequences” if the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA runs out of money. The United States and over a dozen other nations have paused funding for the agency after Israel accused 12 of UNRWA’s 13,000 employees in Gaza of taking part in the Hamas attack on October 7.

Netanyahu Appears to Reject Calls to Halt Gaza Attack as Negotiations Continue

Jan 31, 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to continue the war in Gaza despite reports negotiators may be close to reaching a deal to pause fighting for at least six weeks to make time for Israel and Hamas to swap captives.

Palestinian Health Officials Decry Israel After Undercover Assassins Kill 3 Inside Jenin Hospital

Jan 31, 2024

Health officials in the occupied West Bank have denounced Israel for sending in a team of undercover assassins into a Jenin hospital to execute three Palestinian militants in a hospital room on Tuesday. The Israeli special forces were disguised as medical workers in scrubs and Muslim women wearing headscarves. Palestinian officials say one of the men killed was recovering in the hospital after being paralyzed from an Israeli drone strike in October. Naji Nazzal is the medical director at Ibn Sina Hospital.

Naji Nazzal: “They killed the three youth — Basel and Mohammed Ghazawi and Mohammed Jalamneh — in their room while they were sleeping on their beds in the room. They were killed in cold blood with direct gunshots to the head.”

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller refused to condemn the Israeli raid on the Jenin hospital.

Matthew Miller: “I’m not able to speak to the facts of the operation. You’d have to pass some kind of legal judgment, know all of the facts of the operation. But as a general matter, they do have the right to carry out operations to bring terrorists to justice, but they need to be conducted in full” —

Matt Lee: “Including in hospitals?”

Matthew Miller: “So, we want them to conduct their operations in compliance with international humanitarian law.”

Israel Admits It Has Begun Flooding Tunnels in Gaza

Jan 31, 2024

Israel has admitted it has begun flooding tunnels in Gaza with seawater despite warnings from the United Nations that the move could damage Palestinian drinking water and sewage systems. Israel said Hamas and other Palestinian groups have built as many as 450 miles of tunnels, where many leaders of Hamas are believed to live.

Israeli Mother of Dead Hostage Accuses Israeli Troops of Killing Her Son with Poison Gas

Jan 31, 2024

The mother of an Israeli hostage who died in Gaza has accused the Israeli military of killing her son by pumping poison gas into a tunnel where he was being held. In December, Dr. Maayan Sherman said Israeli officials had told her that her son Ron had been murdered by Hamas in Gaza, but she started questioning what happened after a pathologist revealed a CT scan showed Ron’s body had no injuries. In a Facebook post, Maayan Sherman wrote, “The inquiry’s findings: Ron was indeed murdered. Not by Hamas … not by stray bullets and not in an exchange of fire. This was deliberate murder. Bombing with poison gas.”

Knesset Panel Votes to Expel Ofer Cassif for Supporting Genocide Charges Against Israel

Jan 31, 2024

In news from Israel, a House panel in the Knesset overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to expel lawmaker Ofer Cassif for signing a petition supporting South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. Cassif will now face a vote from the full Knesset. Cassif is a Jewish member of the left-wing, Arab-Jewish Hadash party who has repeatedly called for a ceasefire in Gaza. Click here to see our recent interviews with Ofer Cassif.

Nikki Haley Calls for Biden to “Take Out” Iranian Leaders After Deadly Drone Attack

Jan 31, 2024

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has called for the U.S. to assassinate Iranian leaders after three U.S troops were killed in a drone strike on a base in Jordan. Haley made the comment in an interview on Fox News.

Nikki Haley: “First you do the sanctions, and you take out a couple of their leaders. That’s the way you start.”

Brian Kilmeade: “In their country?”

Nikki Haley: “In their — if they’re in their country, or you do like Soleimani when they left the country. You figure out where they are. Our special operations can do that. And then you take them out.”

On Tuesday, President Biden said that he has made a decision on how to respond to the drone strike, but did not disclose any details. He accused Iran of supplying the weapons used in the attack, but said, “I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East.”

IRS Whistleblower Sentenced to 5 Years for Leaking Trump Tax Records

Jan 31, 2024

A former IRS contractor has been sentenced to five years in prison for leaking tax records that revealed Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other wealthy figures pay little to no federal income tax. The whistleblower, Charles Littlejohn, leaked the documents to The New York Times and ProPublica. Prosecutors accused Littlejohn of taking a job at the Internal Revenue Service in 2017 with the intent of accessing President Trump’s tax records. Littlejohn’s attorney Lisa Massing said, “He committed this offense out of a deep, moral belief that the American people had a right to know the information and sharing it was the only way to effect change.”

Argentinian Court Overturns Javier Milei’s Labor Rules

Jan 31, 2024

An Argentinian court has overturned labor regulations proposed by newly elected far-right President Javier Milei that would have cut benefits and made it easier to fire workers who participate in union strikes and blockades. The three-judge panel argued such reforms are unconstitutional, stating they first must be approved by Argentina’s Congress. The ruling comes just days after labor unions led tens of thousands of protesters in a general strike against Milei’s austerity policies that have led to the severe devaluation of the Argentinian peso and other massive spending cuts.

Pakistan: Imran Khan Sentenced to 14 Years, a Day After Sentencing in Another Case

Jan 31, 2024

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife have been sentenced to 14 years in prison for selling gifts they had received while he was in office. The sentence came just a day after Imran Khan, who is already in prison, received a separate sentence of 10 years after being convicted of leaking state secrets by waving a classified Pakistani document during a public rally. It was later revealed that the document exposed how the U.S. government encouraged Pakistani officials to remove Khan from office in 2022 after he took a neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Khan was ousted from office in April 2022 after lawmakers passed a no-confidence vote. On Tuesday, supporters of Imran Khan denounced the Pakistani judiciary for targeting Khan just ahead of next week’s election.

Gohar Ali Khan: “Today’s cipher case verdict has broken records of injustice, a bogus case that was proceeded in a manner that the arrest on the first day was unlawful and unconstitutional. The charge was framed in a way that was unlawful and unconstitutional. In this case, three orders of the High Court were violated, one after another. It was proceeded behind closed doors.”

House Committee Approves Articles of Impeachment for Homeland Security Head Alejandro Mayorkas

Jan 31, 2024

The Republican-controlled House Homeland Security Committee has approved two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, moving the House closer to impeaching a Cabinet official for the first time in nearly 150 years. Republicans have accused Mayorkas of failing to uphold immigration laws at the U.S.-Mexico border. If the full House votes to impeach Mayorkas, the articles would then be referred to the Democratic-controlled Senate. Democratic lawmakers have denounced the Republican impeachment effort.

DOJ Probes Cori Bush for Campaign Finance Violations

Jan 31, 2024

Democratic Congressmember Cori Bush has acknowledged she is under a Justice Department investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds. In a statement, Bush said, “In recent months, right-wing organizations have lodged baseless complaints against me, peddling notions that I have misused campaign funds to pay for personal security services. That simply is not true.” Last year the Office of Congressional Ethics investigated Bush’s campaign spending and voted to dismiss the allegations. Bush’s security needs increased after she faced numerous death threats.

Ohio: White Supremacist Sentenced to 18 Years for Firebombing Church Hosting Drag Event

Jan 31, 2024

In Ohio, a 20-year-old white supremacist has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after he firebombed a church where two drag events were scheduled. Federal prosecutors said the man, Aimenn Penny, was a member of a “White Lives Matter” group. In October, Penny pleaded guilty to targeting the Community Church of Chesterland.

Meanwhile, Utah has become the latest state to enact legislation banning transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity. At least 10 other states have passed similar laws, including Florida, Idaho, Alabama and Arkansas.

New York City Council Votes to Overturn Mayor Adams’s Vetoes on Police Reform Measures

Jan 31, 2024

The New York City Council on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved two police and jail reform measures — overriding vetoes by NYC Mayor Eric Adams. One bill would force New York police officers to report the race, gender and age of people they interact with or stop for questioning. The other legislation would limit the amount of time people in custody are placed in solitary confinement in the city’s troubled jail system. Councilmembers supporting the override included the newly elected Harlem Councilmember Yusef Salaam, who was one of five Black and Latino teenagers wrongfully convicted of the 1989 beating and rape of a white woman in Central Park. Salaam spent seven years in prison, including in solitary confinement, before being exonerated. On Tuesday, he delivered emotional remarks before voting aye.

Councilmember Yusef Salaam: “I vote aye because today the New York City Council is fighting for the implementation of two bills that would bring generational change in our criminal justice system. … If these laws were in place in 1989 … I vote aye.”

Yusef Salaam’s vote came just days after he was pulled over by police while driving with his family. He said the officer never responded to his request to know why he was being stopped.

Texas Man Raped in Jail After Faulty Facial Recognition Technology Led to His Arrest

Jan 31, 2024

In Texas, a man has sued Macy’s department store and Sunglass Hut after facial recognition technology falsely identified him as a robber, leading to his imprisonment and sexual assault while in detention. Sixty-one-year-old Harvey Murphy Jr. was jailed for two weeks before being released after authorities confirmed he was not even in the state of Texas when the robberies occurred at a Houston Sunglass Hut and Macy’s store. Murphy’s lawyers say he was raped by three prisoners while in jail.

UPS to Cut 12,000 Jobs

Jan 31, 2024

In labor news, UPS has announced it will cut 12,000 jobs this year. This comes just months after a labor deal was reached, averting a potential strike.

American Federation of Teachers Supports Ceasefire in Gaza

Jan 31, 2024

The American Federation of Teachers has adopted a resolution supporting a ceasefire in Gaza. The union represents more than 1.7 million teachers and staff. The leaders of the National Education Association have also called for a ceasefire.

Chilean Artist Holds Gaza Protest at a Starbucks by Buying Coffee with Names of Palestinian Children Killed

Jan 31, 2024

Chilean artist Javier Salinas led a peaceful protest at a Starbucks coffee shop in Santiago last week, ordering over $1,000 worth of coffee with the names of 300 children killed by Israeli forces in Gaza. The names of the children were read out loud over the span of about two hours. Salinas named his action “$1,198.80 for the 300 last breaths of hope.”

Javier Salinas: “Raghad Zakaria, Muhammad Ali, Jana Muhhammad.”

Starbucks has faced widespread boycotts across the globe over its refusal to support a ceasefire in Gaza. Chile is home to more than half a million people of Palestinian descent — thought to be the largest Palestinian diaspora community outside the Middle East.

Puerto Rican Broadway Icon Chita Rivera, 91, Dies

Jan 31, 2024

Puerto Rican Broadway icon and Tony Award-winning artist Chita Rivera has died in New York at the age of 91. She began her career on Broadway in the 1950s, performing in dozens of roles, including in “West Side Story.” In 2009, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama. New York Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, said on social media, “Chita Rivera was a trailblazer and Broadway legend who took pride in her Puerto Rican heritage and helped pave the way for other Latina artists.”

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