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HeadlinesFebruary 02, 2024

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Case of Missing Girl, 6, Tragically Lays Bare Deadly Conditions for Gaza’s Children, Health Workers

Feb 02, 2024

Over 1 million displaced Palestinians are under threat of a new ground assault on Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, after the Israeli military said it would attack the area once labeled a “safe zone.” The U.N. called Rafah, located on the border with Egypt, a “pressure cooker of despair.” The death toll in Gaza continues to rise, with over 27,000 killed and more than 66,000 wounded in four months. Over 11,000 of those killed by Israel have been children.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society is calling for the international community to intervene immediately to halt attacks on medical workers and to help find a 6-year-old girl, Hind, and two members of their emergency medical team, Yousef Zaino and Ahmed al-Madhoun, who have been missing for nearly four days. Hind and her 15-year-old relative Layan Hamadeh called the Red Crescent on Monday, pleading for help as Israeli tanks approached their family’s car in Gaza City. All six members of Hind’s family were killed by Israeli fire, including Layan. These were her last words, recorded on the call with a Red Crescent dispatcher.

Layan Hamadeh: “Hello?”

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Hello, dear?”

Layan Hamadeh: “They are shooting at us.”

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Hello?”

Layan Hamadeh: “They are shooting at us. The tank is next to me.”

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Are you hiding?”

Layan Hamadeh: “Yes, in the car. We’re next to the tank.”

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Are you inside the car?”

Layan Hamadeh: [screaming]

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Hello? Hello?”

After all her family members were killed, 6-year-old Hind remained trapped in the car as emergency workers tried to reach her. This is Rana al-Faqeh, the emergency dispatcher who spent several hours on the phone with Hind, trying to reassure and calm the girl.

Rana al-Faqeh: “It is a painful experience when you hear her voice, which was trembling, sad, and at the same time she had hope that someone would save her. But we were helpless. We felt that we were paralyzed, because we were thinking about the situation she was in. She was trapped inside a car with six bodies of martyrs, audio of tanks and aircraft firing. When the tank came close to her, she was screaming and crying. The worst minute was when she said the tank got closer, and then the phone cut. At this moment, I thought the tank climbed on the car. At this moment, I started to cry, and I was trying to be strong.”

Biden Issues Order Sanctioning Israeli Settlers Who Committed Violence in Occupied West Bank

Feb 02, 2024

President Biden signed an executive order Thursday imposing new sanctions on Israeli settlers involved in violent attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. At least eight Palestinians, including one child, have been killed, and over 100 injured, in some 500 settler attacks since October 7. The executive order for now targets just four settlers but could be used against others in the future, including Israeli politicians. Biden officials reportedly considered adding ultranationalist cabinet ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich to the list but decided against it.

Biden Admin Approves Strikes on Syria, Iraq After Deadly Attack on U.S. Troops in Jordan

Feb 02, 2024

The Pentagon has approved a series of strikes against targets inside Iraq and Syria in response to the recent attack on a U.S. military base in northern Jordan that killed three U.S. soldiers and other attacks in the region. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. is working to avoid a wider Middle East conflict and is not seeking war with Iran.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: “Our teammates were killed by radical militias backed by Iran and operating inside Syria and Iraq. In the aftermath of the vile Hamas terrorist assault on Israel on October 7th, terrorist groups backed by Iran and funded by Iran have tried to create even more turmoil, including the Houthis attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea. … How much Iran knew or didn’t know, we don’t know, but it really doesn’t matter, because Iran sponsors these groups. It funds these groups.”

Secretary Austin also apologized for the secrecy surrounding his recent hospitalization and cancer diagnosis.

Activists Shut Down D.C. Streets, Canada’s Port of Vancouver to Demand an End to Genocide Funding

Feb 02, 2024

Activists shut down at least a half-dozen major roads in Washington, D.C., during Thursday morning rush hour and marched through the streets to demand an end to U.S. military support for Israel. Police arrested roughly two dozen protesters.

Protester: “War criminals in the building behind us need to stop funding genocide, and funding our communities. We don’t have healthcare. We don’t have public education. People are dying on the streets while our government is sending $3.8 billion to genocide and kill doctors and students and teachers and babies in the hospitals. There’s a genocide going right now that our government is funding.”

In Canada, activists blockaded all access points for the Port of Vancouver, calling on the government to enact an arms embargo on Israel following the International Court of Justice ruling last week that there is a plausible risk that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

Meanwhile, over 800 officials across the U.S., the U.K. and the EU released a joint letter of dissent today, saying, “Our governments’ current policies weaken their moral standing and undermine their ability to stand up for freedom, justice and human rights globally.”

Ron DeSantis Sends Troops to Texas Border Amid Mounting Crackdown on Migrants

Feb 02, 2024

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is deploying state and National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border in a move that’s been widely condemned by immigration rights groups. DeSantis made the announcement Thursday as he stood on a podium displaying the words “Stop the Invasion.” DeSantis is one of many Republican leaders who’s pledged support for Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s intensifying anti-immigrant hate speech and policies. Meanwhile, Abbott continues to defy a Supreme Court order that allowed the Biden administration to cut down razor wire put up by Texas troopers along its border with Mexico.

EU Agrees to 50B Euro Package for Ukraine; Zelensky to Dismiss Top General

Feb 02, 2024

European Union leaders have approved a new 50-billion-euro funding package to Ukraine, overcoming weeks of resistance from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. This comes as the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a Ukraine military aid and U.S.-Mexico border enforcement deal next week following heated negotiations.

In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky is reportedly set to dismiss his top general, Valery Zaluzhny. Tensions between the two have been rising following Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive last year, and after Zaluzhny described the war with Russia as a stalemate.

ICJ Delivers Mixed Judgment in Ukraine’s Terrorism Case Against Russia

Feb 02, 2024

The International Court of Justice has found Russia violated portions of two treaties: one on financing terrorism and another on eradicating racial discrimination. The ruling came as part of Ukraine’s case accusing Moscow of funding separatist groups in eastern Ukraine and discriminating against Crimea’s multiethnic community since its annexation a decade ago. The court, however, declined to rule on Ukraine’s request for Russia to pay reparations for attacks in eastern Ukraine blamed on pro-separatist Ukrainian rebels.

“Remember Who the Real Enemy Is”: Greta Thunberg’s U.K. Trial for Climate Protest Gets Underway

Feb 02, 2024

In the U.K., Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg appeared in a London court Thursday as her trial got underway for protesting outside the entrance of a major oil and gas industry conference last October. Thunberg spoke outside the courthouse alongside two co-defendants.

Greta Thunberg: “Even though we are the ones standing here, and climate, environmental and human rights activists all over the world are being prosecuted, sometimes convicted and given legal penalties, for acting in line with science, we must remember who the real enemy is. What are we defending? Who are our laws meant to protect?”

Georgia Senate Passes Bill Criminalizing Bail Funds

Feb 02, 2024

Back in the U.S., the Republican-dominated Georgia state Senate passed a bill which would criminalize the majority of bail funds. SB 63 would make bailing more than three people out of jail per year illegal, including for nonprofits and churches that run bail funds. It also adds to the list of non-bail-eligible offenses. This comes as three activists with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund are facing racketeering and other charges in Georgia related to the prosecution of dozens of “Cop City” protesters. It could also affect major national programs that operate in Georgia, such as Black Mamas Bail Out Action.

Judge Sentences Ex-CIA Software Engineer to 40 Years in WikiLeaks “Vault 7” Case

Feb 02, 2024

In New York, a federal judge sentenced former CIA software engineer Joshua Schulte to 40 years in prison, after being convicted of leaking thousands of CIA documents known as “Vault 7” to WikiLeaks. The leaks, published in 2017, revealed CIA programs and tools that are capable of hacking into Apple and Android cellphones. In addition to espionage and computer hacking, Schulte was also convicted for possessing child pornography.

WHO Forecasts Cancer Rates Will Rise by 77% in 2050

Feb 02, 2024

The World Health Organization expects global cancer cases to rise by 77% over the next three decades. The study predicts cancer-related deaths will roughly double from current levels to reach around 20 million fatalities a year by 2050. The WHO says tobacco, alcohol, air pollution, and population aging and growth are some of the key factors behind the rising numbers. Lower-income countries will be disproportionately affected. Currently, one out of every 12 patients in wealthier countries are diagnosed with breast cancer, and one in 71 will die from the disease. In poorer countries, just one in 27 patients are diagnosed in their lifetime, but one in 48 will die from breast cancer.

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