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HeadlinesJanuary 04, 2024

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Iran Mourns as Death Toll from Kerman Explosions Reaches 84

Jan 04, 2024

Iran is holding a day of mourning after at least 84 people were killed in a pair of explosions in the city of Kerman on Wednesday. More than 280 people were injured. The blasts occurred near the tomb of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, where hundreds of Iranians had gathered to mark the fourth anniversary of his assassination by the United States. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed a harsh response.


Hezbollah’s Nasrallah Vows Revenge After Killing of Hamas Official in Beirut

Jan 04, 2024

The bombing in Iran came just a day after a top Hamas official, Saleh al-Arouri, was assassinated outside of Beirut, Lebanon, in a suspected Israeli strike. His funeral is being held today in Beirut. On Wednesday, Israel also killed nine Hezbollah fighters in strikes on southern Lebanon. Meanwhile, a high-ranking commander from an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq was killed earlier today in an airstrike on a militia base in central Baghdad. It is unclear who carried out the strike. The events are increasing fears that Israel’s war on Gaza could grow into a regional conflict. On Wednesday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the killing of Saleh al-Arouri will not go unpunished.

Hassan Nasrallah: “We extend our congratulations and condolences to our dear brothers and great leader Sheikh Saleh, deputy leader of Hamas’s political office, and his fellow leaders and cadre in the al-Qassam Brigades and Hamas, who were martyred yesterday in a flagrant Israeli aggression in the southern suburb of Dahiyeh in Beirut.”

Israel Kills More Palestinians in Attacks on Civilian Homes, Strikes Jabaliya Water Collection Site

Jan 04, 2024

In Gaza, Al Jazeera is reporting at least 14 members of the same Palestinian family have been killed in an Israeli bombing west of Khan Younis. Separately, Israel has been accused of bombing an area of the Jabaliya refugee where residents gathered to collect water. Eyewitness said the blast destroyed surrounding buildings and injured several people.

Eyewitness: “It is a catastrophe. It is a massacre. No man can understand what is happening. The place was bombed. The place is for water collection. People were getting water. This is why it happened. Any area that supports people, the Israelis target it. All water stations in the strip were targeted.”

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have detained hundreds of Palestinians during a 30-hour military raid on the Nur Shams refugee camp.

Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice has announced it will hold two days of public hearings beginning on January 11 in response to South Africa’s case accusing Israel of committing genocidal acts in Gaza.

Education Dept. Official Resigns in Protest, Saying Biden Ignoring His Staff, Public Opinion on Gaza

Jan 04, 2024

A senior official in the U.S. Department of Education has resigned to protest the Biden administration’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza. Tariq Habash, who is a Palestinian American Christian and a Biden appointee, wrote in his resignation letter, “I cannot stay silent as this administration turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed against innocent Palestinian lives, in what leading human rights experts have called a genocidal campaign by the Israeli government.”

Tariq Habash appeared on CNN on Wednesday night.

Tariq Habash: “There are people throughout the government, throughout this administration, who have repeatedly tried to use every avenue available to them to raise concerns, because they care about this country, they care about this president, and they care about our democracy. And I think what the president is doing by ignoring the will of the people and by ignoring all of these individuals who have continuously supported his agenda, I think it’s undermining our democratic ideals, and it’s undermining America.”

In related news, 17 current staffers on Biden’s reelection campaign have anonymously signed a letter urging the president to support a ceasefire in Gaza. They wrote, “Complicity in the death of over 20,000 Palestinians, 8,200 of whom are children, simply cannot be justified.”

Activists in California Shut Down State Capitol to Demand Ceasefire in Gaza

Jan 04, 2024

In California, hundreds of Jewish activists and their allies shut down the California state Capitol in Sacramento Wednesday demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

Protester: [echoed by the people’s mic] “Repeat after me: We shut down the first session of the California state Legislature today.”

U.S. and Allies Threaten Military Action Against Houthis for Red Sea Attacks

Jan 04, 2024

The United States and 11 other nations issued a joint statement Wednesday threatening to take further military action against Houthi forces from Yemen if they continue to target shipping vessels in the Red Sea. The statement said in part, “The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.” The Houthis, who are aligned with Iran, have vowed to keep targeting ships linked to Israel until Israel stops its attack on Gaza.

Ukraine and Russia Exchange 500 Prisoners as Both Parties Intensify Attacks

Jan 04, 2024

Ukraine and Russia have exchanged nearly 500 prisoners in the largest prisoner swap since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly two years ago. Two hundred thirty Ukrainian POWs were exchanged for 248 Russians. The United Arab Emirates helped mediate the deal. We will have more on the war in Ukraine later in the program.

DOJ Sues Texas over New Migration Law as GOP Lawmakers Travel to Border

Jan 04, 2024

The U.S. Justice Department has sued the state of Texas over a new state law that empowers police to arrest anyone they suspect of entering the United States without authorization. The law was signed last month by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott.

In related news, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson traveled to Eagle Pass, Texas, with about 60 Republican members of Congress on Wednesday. He threatened again to block U.S. funding for the war in Ukraine unless the Biden administration intensifies its crackdown on immigrants and asylum seekers.

Speaker Mike Johnson: “If President Biden wants a supplemental spending bill focused on national security, it better begin by defending America’s national security. It begins right here on our southern border.”

Appeals Court Rules Texas Hospitals Can Refuse Emergency Abortion Care Even If Patient Risks Death

Jan 04, 2024

In reproductive rights news, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas hospitals and emergency room doctors can legally refuse to perform abortions, even if needed to save the life of a patient. The 5th Circuit Court eschewed federal guidelines for care, siding instead with the state of Texas and anti-abortion groups, which sued the Biden administration for rules it claimed would “force abortion” and override state laws. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents providers, said, “The state’s strategy has been to circumvent the court system and the constitution itself in order to push abortion out of reach for as many Texans as possible.”

Ousted Harvard Pres. Claudine Gay Speaks Out on Being the Target of a Racist Smear Campaign

Jan 04, 2024

Former Harvard President Claudine Gay, who resigned on Tuesday, has revealed she faced death threats and was repeatedly called the N-word in recent weeks as a right-wing effort to oust her intensified over her handling of campus protests and her past academic research. Claudine Gay had become Harvard’s first Black president just six months ago. In an op-ed in The New York Times, she wrote, “They recycled tired racial stereotypes about Black talent and temperament. They pushed a false narrative of indifference and incompetence.” She also wrote, “This was merely a single skirmish in a broader war to unravel public faith in pillars of American society.”

Bill Clinton, Bill Richardson, David Copperfield Named in First Batch of Released Epstein Documents

Jan 04, 2024

Hundreds of pages of court documents related to the deceased convicted sex trafficker and financier Jeffrey Epstein have been unsealed. One notable document is a deposition from one of Epstein’s survivors who said Prince Andrew had groped her at Epstein’s Manhattan apartment. The woman also says Epstein talked about former President Bill Clinton: “He said one time that Clinton likes them young, referring to girls.” The deposition also referenced a time when Epstein discussed a possible visit with then-future President Donald Trump in Atlantic City. Other notable names mentioned in the unsealed documents include Michael Jackson, the attorney Alan Dershowitz, the late former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and the magician David Copperfield. More documents are expected to be unsealed soon.

New Jersey Imam Hassan Sharif Shot and Killed on His Way to Mosque

Jan 04, 2024

In Newark, New Jersey, an imam was shot and killed outside his mosque early Wednesday morning. Hassan Sharif was headed to the Masjid Muhammad mosque for morning prayers. Authorities are searching for his killer. New Jersey authorities say there is no indication yet that the shooting was motivated by bias or that it was an act of terrorism. The imam had also been attacked outside the mosque in August. The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations praised Hassan Sharif as being a “beacon of leadership in his community.”

An online fundraiser in honor of the slain imam has already raised over $100,000.

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