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HeadlinesFebruary 29, 2024

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Israeli Forces Fire at Gazans Waiting for Food Aid, Killing at Least 100, Injuring Over 760 Others

Feb 29, 2024

Authorities in Gaza say Israeli forces have committed a massacre in Gaza City, killing at least 104 Palestinians as they waited for food aid. Gaza’s Health Ministry says over 760 people were wounded in what Hamas called an “unprecedented war crime.” According to eyewitnesses, Israeli forces opened fire on the crowd who had gathered around humanitarian aid trucks. The death toll is expected to rise as hospitals in Gaza City are struggling to treat the wounded. Dr. Jadallah al-Shafei of Al-Shifa Hospital spoke to Al Jazeera shortly after the attack.

Dr. Jadallah al-Shafei: “Since the early hours of the morning, the hospital has been flooded with dozens of dead bodies and hundreds of injured. The majority of the victims suffered gunshot wounds and shrapnel in the head and upper parts of their bodies. They were hit by direct artillery shelling, drone missiles and gunfire. All our operation rooms are full, and all medical staff have been deployed. Above all, we ran out of medical supplies and fuel necessary to operate the hospital. We hope we will be able to provide any life-saving procedures to those victims. All victims are in critical condition. They’re lying on the floor. We stand helpless amid the sharp shortage of supplies and staff.”

This comes as Palestinian officials say the death toll in Gaza since October 7 has topped 30,000. The staggering milestone, which does not account for thousands still missing or trapped under rubble, represents one out of every 75 people in Gaza. The U.N. says over half a million people in Gaza are on the cusp of starvation. The Gaza Health Ministry reports six children recently died from dehydration and malnutrition. Seven other children are in critical condition. After headlines, we will speak to Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who recently visited the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing.

New Yorkers Hold Vigil and Reading of the Names of 30,000 Gazans Killed by Israel Since Oct. 7

Feb 29, 2024

Here in New York, activists are observing a 24-hour vigil in front of City Hall. Participants are reading the names of the 30,000 Palestinians killed since October 7. A number of city councilmembers have appeared at the vigil since it kicked off Wednesday amid an effort to pass a ceasefire resolution in New York City. Audrey Sasson, director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, spoke yesterday.

Audrey Sasson: “You do not have to be Arab, Muslim, Palestinian or, in my case, in the case of our members, Jews who say 'no' to speak out against an unfolding genocide. You simply need to be a human being who is paying attention.”

Missouri Girl Scout Troop Leaves Organization After Scout Leadership Banned Their Gaza Fundraiser

Feb 29, 2024

In Missouri, a Girl Scout troop has split from the organization after the group made legal threats against the girls for running a fundraiser benefiting Palestinian children. Girl Scout mother Nawal Abuhamdeh said that instead of selling cookies this year, her 10-year-old daughter and sister troop members decided to make and sell bracelets with beads in the colors of the Palestinian flag, spelling out “Gaza” and “Palestine.” The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri deemed the move “political,” banning them from continuing their fundraiser for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. In response, the girls decided to part ways with the Girl Scouts organization. They are continuing their fundraiser, which has raised over $10,000 so far.

McConnell to Exit GOP Leadership, Leaving Behind Legacy of Obstruction, Far-Right Judicial Takeover

Feb 29, 2024

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell announced he will step down as the Senate’s Republican leader in November in a move that is expected to strengthen Donald Trump’s control of the Republican Party. The 82-year-old McConnell has served 17 years as Republican leader, the longest term in Senate history.

Sen. Mitch McConnell: “Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them.”

McConnell said he plans to finish his term as senator. During his leadership, Mitch McConnell successfully blocked voting on Democratic bills, from gun control to election integrity, while ramming through Republican priorities, including Trump’s $2 trillion tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Mitch McConnell helped Trump stack federal courts with far-right judges. He also reversed the 60-vote threshold for confirming Supreme Court justices, allowing Trump to install three right-wing ideologues on the bench, a few years after stonewalling President Obama’s Supreme Court justice pick. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said of McConnell, “Few people have done more to undermine our democratic institutions and the rule of law than Mitch McConnell.”

SCOTUS to Hear Trump Immunity Case as IL Judge Orders Trump Removed from State Ballot

Feb 29, 2024

The Supreme Court has announced it will decide whether former President Donald Trump has presidential immunity and cannot be prosecuted for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. Oral arguments will be held during the week of April 22. Trump has claimed he should have “total immunity” from prosecution. The court’s decision is seen as a major victory for Trump as it will likely further delay his federal election subversion trial until possibly after the November election.

Meanwhile, a judge in Illinois has ruled Trump should be removed from the state’s March 19 primary ballot for violating the insurrectionist clause of the 14th Amendment. The judge stayed her ruling until Friday, giving Trump a chance to appeal. Colorado and Maine have also ruled Trump to be ineligible. The Supreme Court heard arguments in the Colorado case three weeks ago but hasn’t issued a decision yet.

In other Trump news, The New York Times has revealed the former president has paid the Times nearly $400,000 to cover legal expenses from his failed lawsuit against the newspaper. Trump sued the Times after it revealed his confidential tax records showed he paid very little in federal income tax.

This all comes as Trump and President Biden are both making separate trips today to the U.S.-Mexico border. Biden is headed to Brownsville, Texas, while Trump is going to Eagle Pass, Texas, which has been the center of a standoff between the state of Texas and the federal government.

Marianne Williamson “Unsuspends” Her Campaign

Feb 29, 2024

In other election news, Marianne Williamson has “unsuspended” her presidential campaign after she received about 3% of the vote in Michigan’s Democratic primary against Biden. Williamson is the only Democratic candidate to support a ceasefire in Gaza.

SCOTUS Considers Challenge to Bump Stock Ban, Enacted Under Trump

Feb 29, 2024

In other Supreme Court news, justices appeared divided along ideological lines as they considered on Wednesday whether the Trump administration overreached its authority when it imposed a ban on bump stocks in 2018. Bump stocks can turn semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns and were used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, which killed 60 people and injured hundreds. A decision is expected in the summer.

Congress Announces Bipartisan Deal to Extend Gov’t Funding Another Few Weeks

Feb 29, 2024

Congressional leaders announced a deal Wednesday to briefly extend government funding, avoiding a partial shutdown. The deal, which both the Senate and House must vote on before a Friday deadline, would fund six federal agencies through March 8 and another six through March 22.

“We’ve Lost Everything”: Texas Wildfire Grows to 900,000 Acres, Razing Entire Neighborhoods

Feb 29, 2024

In the Texas Panhandle, the massive Smokehouse Creek Fire has now burned nearly 900,000 acres of land, making it the second-largest wildfire in Texas history. The fire is now larger than the state of Rhode Island. At least one person and thousands of cattle have died in the blaze, which was sparked by record heat. Residents say the fire quickly swept through whole neighborhoods.

Richard Murray: “It came up very fast. I saw the neighbor’s house starting to burn, and I called 911. And the fire trucks got here, but it was — it just started really fast. The flames were going everywhere. And by the time we got back, well, there was nothing left. … We basically have lost everything. This is the only pair of pants I’ve got, and this shirt. That’s it.”

Four other large fires are also burning in Texas.

Texas Executes Man Despite Doubts over Guilty Conviction; Idaho Calls Off Botched Execution

Feb 29, 2024

Texas prison officials executed 50-year-old Dallas native Ivan Abner Cantu Wednesday despite major doubts over his conviction and a high-profile campaign to save him. A key witness recanted their testimony in the 2000 double homicide, which killed Cantu’s cousin and his cousin’s fiancée, and over which Cantu had always maintained his innocence. Among those who called for a stay in Cantu’s execution were jurors from his trial, Democratic congressmembers, celebrities and Catholic activists. Texas medical officials injected Cantu with pentobarbital at 6:26 p.m. He died 21 minutes later.

In related news, Idaho prison officials had to call off the execution Wednesday of Thomas Eugene Creech after failing to establish IV lines. The all-volunteer medical team attempted to find a viable vein for the lethal injection for nearly an hour, trying eight different sites on his body. The execution was scheduled to be Idaho’s first in 12 years.

Guinean Trade Unions Suspend Strike After Labor Leader Released from Detention

Feb 29, 2024

In Guinea, trade unions have suspended their nationwide strike after union leader Sékou Jamal Pendessa was released from prison Wednesday. The strike had gripped the West African nation since it started earlier this week. Two young protesters were killed Monday after clashes with police. The labor-led protests came after Guinea’s military, which overthrew President Alpha Condé in a 2021 coup, unexpectedly dissolved the transitional government that had been in place since 2022. Unions accuse leaders of cracking down on dissent and censoring the media.

Abdoulaye Cissé: “Alpha Condé had problems with the press. But what junta leader Mamady Doumbouya has done today is worse, because Doumbouya even went as far as to cut off the internet in Guinea for more than a month. Alpha Condé never did that.”

Nigerian Workers Launch Strike Amid Soaring Cost of Living

Feb 29, 2024

In Nigeria, employees of the government and other sectors have launched a new nationwide strike amid growing protests over the soaring cost of living and inflation. Labor leaders say President Bola Tinubu is failing to deliver on campaign promises of wage increases and financial help for the poorest households.

ICC Awards $56 Million to Survivors of LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen

Feb 29, 2024

The International Criminal Court has awarded victims of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen more than $56 million in compensation. Although the sum is a record for the ICC, it amounts to a symbolic $812 for the more than 50,000 eligible survivors. The tribunal’s Trust Fund for Victims is expected to pay out the money. Survivors reacted to the verdict Wednesday.

Adong Winnie: “Me, personally, I am not happy that the order — it’s unfair, because if they are paying us 750, that’s around 3 million Ugandan money. That is really little money. Like, for example, for me, I was shot, my hand. I have lost my hand. I can’t do any heavy work. So, that money can’t even buy me land. It can’t even reparate what I lost in my life.”

Dominic Ongwen, once a child soldier himself, eventually became one of the LRA’s top commanders. He was sentenced in 2021 to 25 years on 60 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape, murder and child abduction.

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GOP Blocks Senate Measure Protecting IVF Access Nationwide

Feb 29, 2024

Republicans have blocked a bill that would create federal protections for in vitro fertilization. Senator Tammy Duckworth, who had both her daughters using IVF, brought the measure to the floor in the wake of Alabama’s Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are children. Duckworth sought to pass the bill under unanimous consent, but Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith blocked it, citing “vast overreach.”

Meanwhile, Alabama Republicans have advanced several bills to protect IVF in the state, which could pass as early as next week.

DOJ Launches Boeing Probe as FAA Gives Co. 3 Months to Submit Safety Plan

Feb 29, 2024

The Justice Department has launched its investigation into Boeing after a door blew off an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 mid-flight last month. This comes as the Federal Aviation Administration gave the company a 90-day deadline for presenting a safety plan that meets current standards for new planes. A recent report by the FAA found Boeing’s safety culture to be “inadequate” and “confusing.” Last week, Boeing announced it was replacing the head of its 737 MAX program.

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