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HeadlinesFebruary 19, 2024

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Rights Groups Call for Probe into Navalny’s Death; Russian Police Arrest Hundreds of Mourners

Feb 19, 2024

More than 400 people have been detained in Russia for publicly mourning the death of Alexei Navalny, who died in an Arctic penal colony on Friday at the age of 47. Navalny was Russia’s most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin. He was serving a 19-year sentence at the time of his death, which President Biden and several other Western leaders directly blamed on Putin. Navalny’s mother, who traveled to the Arctic town of Kharp, was denied access to her son’s body and was told by prison authorities Navalny died of “sudden death syndrome.” Kira Yarmysh, a spokesperson for Navalny, spoke on Saturday.

Kira Yarmysh: “Alexei was a symbol of hope and a symbol of courage for many Russian people, and now they feel like this idea of hope abandoned them. But that’s not true, and I’m sure that people will find strength to continue their fight, because this is what Alexei always wanted, and this is what he was telling everyone all the time, even from the prison.”

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard called for an international probe into Navalny’s death.

Agnès Callamard: “Look, the international community needs to react with the strongest way possible. But we know that actions have very little impact right now on Putin and on Russia. But still, silence is not an option. We must stand up, and the international political leaders around the world must make as strong a statement as possible. They must demand investigations. They must, in fact, investigate his unlawful death themselves. We must call on the United Nations to investigate that death, that unlawful death, that killing, in fact.”

We will speak to journalist Masha Gessen about the death of Alexei Navalny later in the program.

Nasser Hospital “No Longer Functional” After Israeli Raid; U.N. Aid Teams Barred from Entry

Feb 19, 2024

Israel’s unrelenting assault on the Gaza Strip has killed over 29,000 Palestinians and injured another 69,000 since October 7. Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza has been declared no longer functional by the World Health Organization amid a dayslong Israeli raid on the facility. The WHO says some 200 patients remain in the hospital, but that its aid workers were barred from accessing them. At least eight people at Nasser Hospital have died since Israeli soldiers cut off electricity and oxygen supplies last week.

On Sunday, dozens of people were killed and injured after Israeli forces started firing at crowds attempting to access life-sustaining aid from U.N. trucks in Gaza City.

Israel Warns of Rafah Invasion Within Weeks as Egypt Builds Enclosed Area Amid Fears of “Mass Exodus”

Feb 19, 2024

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz has warned that the IDF will launch its ground offensive in Rafah unless Hamas frees all hostages by March 10, the start of the holy month of Ramadan. Some 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are now sheltering in Rafah. This is Rasheed Abu Eda, who was forced to flee Jabaliya.

Rasheed Abu Eda: “We are fleeing to safety, the safety of our children, our women and ourselves. And today we have reached the closest place to the border. I am around 50 meters away from the border with Egypt. After here, where can I go? I am 50 meters away from Egypt’s border, and they said Rafah was the safest place. We came to Rafah, and now the Israelis want to enter Rafah. Where should we go?”

The group Sinai for Human Rights has released video which appears to show the construction of a large area enclosed by concrete walls on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza. The group says the construction is “in preparation for the reception of Palestinian refugees in the case of mass exodus.”

World Court Kicks Off Hearings on Israeli Occupation of Palestine

Feb 19, 2024

At The Hague, the International Court of Justice has begun historic hearings on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki addressed the World Court earlier today.

Riyad al-Maliki: “Ending Israel’s impunity is a moral, political and legal imperative. Successive Israeli governments have given the Palestinian people only three options: displacement, subjugation or death. These are the choices: ethnic cleansing, apartheid or genocide. … Mr. President, members of the court, the state of Palestine reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the rule of international law, which must finally prevail.”

The World Court will hear arguments from at least 52 nations through next Monday. The hearings are in response to a 2022 request from the U.N. General Assembly.

In related news, the ICJ on Friday rejected a request by South Africa to impose emergency measures against Israel’s planned ground offensive in Rafah. The court said no new action was needed as it demanded Israel comply with its January order to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide in Gaza. The court warned Israel’s intensifying attacks “would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences.”

Protest Actions Against Israel’s Genocide Continue Around the World

Feb 19, 2024

Solidarity protests with Gaza took place around the world again this weekend, including in London, England, where tens of thousands of people streamed through city streets. In India, workers with the Water Transport Workers Federation have vowed not to load or unload weapons to Israel, saying they “always stand against the war and killing of innocent people.”

In the U.S., the African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishops Council called on the Biden administration to end funding for what it called Israel’s “mass genocide.” In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of the U.S. Congress, is urging Democrats to vote “uncommitted” in next Tuesday’s presidential primary to protest President Biden’s complicity in Israel’s assault on Gaza.

NYC Students Walk Out to Protest Assault on Gaza

Feb 19, 2024

Here in New York, high school students across the city walked out of class Friday for their second mass coordinated action against the war on Gaza. Students are continuing to organize despite what they say are attempts by school administrators to intimidate and censor them.

Protester: “We students recognize that we have a direct responsibility to act here, where our institutions’ complicity with Zionism has been made loud and clear. We recognize our responsibility to the people of Gaza and stand in unwavering solidarity with them.”

Israelis Rally in Tel Aviv to Demand New Elections, Return of Hostages

Feb 19, 2024

In Israel, thousands took to the streets of Tel Aviv Saturday night to demand an immediate election to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government. Outside of Tel Aviv’s military headquarters, another major protest called on Netanyahu to prioritize the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza.

Michael Levy: “We have no time anymore. My brother has lost his wife, who was murdered in this horrible attack on October 7. He has a son, a 2-year-old son, who is waiting for him at home. He is now his father and his mother. And we need him back. I call for the Israeli government or any government in the world to do something, because we cannot wait anymore.”

On Sunday, Israel’s far-right Cabinet passed a declaration opposing the “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood, saying any agreement on statehood must come through direct negotiations.

Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Likens Israel’s Assault on Gaza to Holocaust

Feb 19, 2024

Israel has declared Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva “persona non grata” after he accused Israel of genocide in Gaza and likened its actions to the Nazi Holocaust. Lula made the remarks as he spoke at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: “What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

At the AU summit, African leaders discussed ongoing conflicts in the region and the spiraling humanitarian situations in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Houthis and U.S. Escalate Attacks on Red Sea Trade Route

Feb 19, 2024

Yemen’s Houthi movement claimed a Sunday attack on the British-registered cargo ship Rubymar in the Gulf of Aden, which forced crews to abandon ship. The stricken vessel is now reportedly at risk of sinking. This comes after U.S. forces launched more retaliatory attacks on Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen over the weekend. U.S. Central Command confirmed Sunday at least five Houthi targets were struck, including an unmanned underwater vessel in the Red Sea and several missiles, which military officials claimed presented “an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.”

NYT: Israel Responsible for Iranian Pipeline Attacks

Feb 19, 2024

The New York Times reports Israel was behind recent attacks inside Iran targeting two critical natural gas pipelines. The acts of sabotage knocked out natural gas supplies for homes and businesses in parts of five provinces. Israel has long carried out a shadow war on Iran that has involved assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists and waging cyberattacks on government agencies.


Russian Forces Seize Avdiivka as Biden Blames “Congressional Inaction” for Ukrainian Losses

Feb 19, 2024

In news from Ukraine, Russian forces have seized full control of the city of Avdiivka in Donetsk. Some military experts have described the fall of Avdiivka as Russia’s biggest victory in nine months since Russian troops captured Bakhmut. The Biden administration blamed the fall of Avdiivka on “congressional inaction” as U.S. lawmakers have yet to approve a request for $60 billion in new military aid.

New York Court Orders Trump to Pay Over $355 Million for Lying About Value of Businesses

Feb 19, 2024

A New York Supreme Court justice has ordered Donald Trump to pay nearly $355 million in penalties, plus about $100 million in interest, for illegally inflating the value of his assets in order to secure more favorable loans and insurance for his New York real estate empire. Trump is also barred from running any business in New York for three years. Trump’s two eldest sons face a two-year ban and were each ordered to pay $4 million.

Judge Arthur Engoron also said Judge Barbara Jones will continue to act as independent monitor of Trump’s businesses, and ordered an additional independent director of compliance at the Trump Organization. In his ruling, Justice Engoron criticized Trump and his sons, saying, “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.” The ruling came in a case brought by New York Attorney General Leticia James, who spoke to reporters after the ruling.

Attorney General Letitia James: “Donald Trump may have offered 'The Art of the Deal,' but he perfected 'the art of the steal.' This long-running fraud was intentional, egregious, illegal, and he did all of this with the help of the other defendants, his two adult sons and senior executives at the Trump Organization.”

Donald Trump plans to appeal the ruling, which he described as a “complete and total sham.”

In other Trump news, the former president has reportedly expressed support in private for a federal 16-week abortion ban, with exceptions for rape or incest or if the pregnant person is at risk of death.

Greg Abbott to Build Massive Base in Texas Border City of Eagle Pass

Feb 19, 2024

In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has announced plans to build an 80-acre military base housing up to 2,300 soldiers in the city of Eagle Pass, along the border with Mexico, as his administration enforces a brutal immigration crackdown. Abbott has continued to defy federal authorities in the region. He spoke Friday.

Gov. Greg Abbott: “To expand our border security capabilities, we are building a new Texas Military Department base camp that allows the Texas National Guard to increase and to improve operations in this area.”

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