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HeadlinesMarch 18, 2024

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Israel Attacks Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital Again as Hunger Grips the Besieged Territory

Mar 18, 2024

The Israeli military has conducted another major raid on Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. There are reports Israeli snipers are firing at people inside the hospital, which has also been attacked by tanks and drones. According to Palestinian health officials, about 3,000 people have been sheltering at the hospital. Israel said the raid was being conducted to target Hamas militants. At least 80 Palestinians have been detained at the hospital, including Al Jazeera correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul.

This comes as the U.N. aid agency UNRWA is reporting one in three children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza are now acutely malnourished as Israel continues to block aid from entering Gaza. UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said, “The speed at which this catastrophic child malnutrition crisis in Gaza has unfolded is shocking, especially when desperately needed assistance has been at the ready just a few miles away.”

On Friday, a ship carrying 200 tons of aid arrived in Gaza from Cyprus, but aid groups say far more aid is desperately needed. Palestinian mothers say they have nothing to feed their children.

Hala Ashraf Deeb: “What has this child done to suffer from hunger? I cannot find milk for five shekels or a packet of milk from the agency. There, the normal milk is for 150. There is no work. There is no food, no drinks. We are eating plants. We started eating pigeon food, donkey food. We are like animals.”

“Totally Inappropriate”: Netanyahu Responds to Schumer’s Call for New Israeli Elections

Mar 18, 2024

Despite growing international criticism, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to move ahead with plans to attack the city of Rafah, where over 1.4 million Palestinians are seeking refuge. On Sunday, Netanyahu also criticized U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for new elections in Israel. Netanyahu spoke on CNN.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “I think what he said is totally inappropriate. It’s inappropriate for a — to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That’s something that Israel — the Israeli public does on its own. And we’re not a banana republic.”

Talks are continuing in Qatar over a possible temporary ceasefire in Gaza. Over the weekend, Hamas offered a new three-phrase ceasefire plan that includes the initial release of the remaining five female hostages and 35 men who are old, sick or injured, in exchange for 700 to 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Hamas said it would only release Israeli soldiers held captive after a permanent ceasefire is reached.

“We See Our History in Their Eyes” Irish Leader Calls for Gaza Ceasefire in White House Address

Mar 18, 2024

On Sunday, the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matthew Barrett joined President Biden during a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House. Varadkar called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “The Irish people are deeply troubled about the catastrophe that’s unfolding before our eyes in Gaza. And when I travel the world, leaders often ask me why the Irish have such empathy for the Palestinian people. And the answer is simple: We see our history in their eyes, a story of displacement, of dispossession, a national identity questioned and denied, forced emigration, discrimination and now hunger. So we support your work, and that of your administration, to secure a humanitarian ceasefire and to create the space for lasting peace. The people of Gaza desperately need food, medicine and shelter, and most especially they need the bombs to stop. This has to stop on both sides, the hostages brought home and humanitarian relief allowed in.”

Basque Demonstrators Evoke Picasso’s “Guernica” in Tribute to Gaza’s Victims

Mar 18, 2024

Protests continued around the world over the weekend, including in Dublin, Ireland, where protesters called out Leo Varadkar for joining President Biden at the White House. In San Sebastián, Spain, demonstrators rallied before lying down on the ground next to a massive banner depicting part of Picasso’s famous antiwar painting “Guernica.”

Bernardo Atxaga: “It’s so tough to be a witness to a genocide that we can do nothing about. We can just bring a grain of sand, even as a tribute.”

Other large protests were held in Chile, Norway, Australia, Jordan and across U.S. cities.

Putin Wins Fifth Term as President as Yulia Navalnaya, Volodymyr Zelensky Condemn Election

Mar 18, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the West against sending troops to Ukraine, saying it could lead to World War III. Putin made the remarks earlier today after he won an unprecedented fifth term in office. Russian election officials say Putin won 87% of the vote in this weekend’s election, where opposition antiwar candidates were barred from running. Putin spoke at a victory rally on Sunday.

President Vladimir Putin: “No matter who wants to frighten us, no matter how they want to suppress us–our will, consciousness… As I have already said, no one has ever succeeded in anything like this in history, it has not worked now and will not work in the future. Never!”

The election came just weeks after Putin’s most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, died in an Arctic prison. Navalny’s wife Yulia urged supporters to gather outside polling stations on Sunday at noon to protest Putin. Yulia Navalnaya spoke after voting at the Russian Embassy in Berlin.

Yulia Navalnaya: “You are probably wondering what I wrote on the ballot papers, who I voted for. Of course, I wrote Navalny’s surname, because it just can’t be so that a month before the election and already during the presidential campaign, Putin’s main opponent, already imprisoned, was murdered.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the Russian election, which was held in parts of occupied Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky: “There is not a single bit of legitimacy in this simulation of an election, and there cannot be. This actor should be on trial in The Hague. That’s what we have to ensure together with everyone in the world that values life and decency.”

Zelensky’s comment on Sunday came two days after a Russian missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Odesa killed at least 21 people and injured 73.

Donald Trump Warns of “Bloodbath” If He Loses Election to Biden Again

Mar 18, 2024

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigned in Ohio over the weekend and warned there would be a “bloodbath” in the United States if he lost the election to Joe Biden.

Donald Trump: “Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s gonna be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s gonna be the least of it. It’s gonna be a bloodbath for the country. That’ll be the least of it.”

During the same speech, Trump escalated his dehumanizing attacks on migrants.

Donald Trump: “If you call them people — I don’t know if you call them people. In some cases they’re not people, in my opinion. But I’m not allowed to say that, because the radical left says that’s a terrible thing to say. They say, 'You have to vote against him, because did you hear what he said about humanity?' I’ve seen the humanity, and these humanity — these are bad — these are animals, OK?”

Trump also called for the jailing of lawmakers who took part in the House select committee that investigated the January 6 insurrection.

In related news, Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence has said he “cannot in good conscience” endorse Trump’s reelection bid.

Special Prosecutor Quits Trump’s Election Subversion Case in Georgia; DA Fani Willis Stays On

Mar 18, 2024

In other Trump news, Nathan Wade has resigned as special prosecutor in the Georgia election interference case against the former president. At issue was Wade’s undisclosed romantic relationship with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. On Friday, a judge ruled Willis could remain on the case if Wade resigned.

Meanwhile, in New York, the judge overseeing Trump’s hush-money trial has agreed to delay the start of the trial until mid-April.

U.S. Nationals Leave Haiti as Political and Humanitarian Crises Spiral

Mar 18, 2024

Dozens of U.S. citizens left Haiti on a chartered flight Sunday amid an escalating political and humanitarian crisis. The flight left from an airport in Cap-Haïtien because Haiti’s main airport in Port-au-Prince remains shut down. About 1.4 million Haitians are on the verge of famine as street violence has disrupted efforts by aid groups to distribute food. Some aid containers have also been seized by armed groups. Last week, Haiti’s unelected Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to resign once a seven-person transitional council was formed, but the makeup of the council has not yet been announced.


Niger Orders Departure of U.S. Troops

Mar 18, 2024

The military junta in Niger has ordered U.S. troops to leave the country in a major setback to U.S. military operations in Africa. Six years ago, the U.S. built a $110 million drone base in northern Niger. The U.S. currently has about 1,000 troops in the West African nation. The announcement comes months after France was forced to pull its troops from Niger, as well. Colonel Amadou Abdramane spoke on Saturday.

Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane: “On cooperation between the two countries, in particular military cooperation and the fight against terrorists, the U.S. presence on the territory of the Republic of Niger is illegal and violates all the constitutional and democratic rules which would require the sovereign people, in particular through its elected representatives, to be consulted on the installation of a foreign army on its territory.”

Senegal Releases Opposition Leaders Ousmane Sonko and Bassirou Diomaye Faye Ahead of Elections

Mar 18, 2024

In Senegal, opposition leaders Ousmane Sonko and Bassirou Diomaye Faye have been released from prison ahead of next Sunday’s rescheduled presidential election. Their release comes after outgoing President Macky Sall granted the men amnesty. Sall had sought to postpone the elections until after his term ends in April, but was forced to backtrack following protests and after a court ruled the move was unlawful. Bassirou Diomaye Faye is one of 19 candidates who will appear on the ballot. He is backed by the popular opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, who himself is barred from running. President Sall has named former Prime Minister Amadou Ba as his pick to succeed him.

U.N. Warns 18 Million People in Sudan Face Acute Food Insecurity

Mar 18, 2024

As the humanitarian crisis worsens in Sudan, U.N. officials are urging the Sudanese military and rival Rapid Support Forces to immediately allow aid deliveries to save nearly 5 million people from “catastrophic” hunger in the coming months. Nearly 18 million people are already facing acute food insecurity after nearly one year of war. Fighting has devastated agricultural production, disrupted trade and has blocked most access to humanitarian aid. UNICEF warns hundreds of thousands of Sudanese children are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Jill Lawler: “The numbers of acutely malnourished children are rising, and the lean season hasn’t even begun. Nearly 3.7 million children are projected to be acutely malnourished this year in Sudan, including 730,000 who need lifesaving treatment. The needs for children in Khartoum alone are massive. But this is also true in Darfur, where I was last month on a cross-border mission through Chad. The scale and magnitude of needs for children across the country are simply staggering. Sudan is now the world’s largest displacement crisis. And some of the most vulnerable children are in the hardest-to-reach places.”

That was Jill Lawler, chief of field operations and emergency for UNICEF in Sudan.

U.N. Considers AI Resolution as Rights Groups Condemn EU’s “AI Act” for Empowering Law Enforcement

Mar 18, 2024

The U.N. General Assembly is considering a draft for its first-ever resolution on artificial intelligence. The measure was spearheaded by the U.S., which says it aims to make AI “safe, secure and trustworthy” and easily accessible to all. While presenting the draft resolution last week, a reporter asked U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield if the U.S. approves of Israel using AI in its assault on Gaza.

Reporter: “The Israeli military has confirmed they are using artificial intelligence in targeting in their war in Gaza. Do you condemn that, and will that be taken into your account in this AI resolution?”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: “You know, we have been clear that this resolution is about making AI safe and secure and trustworthy. And we have 60 co-sponsors who have signed on to that, including Israel. And I think that as we move forward, we will see AI bridge many of the gaps that we’ve seen in in the past.”

Reporter: “Are you fine with Israel using it in Gaza right now?”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: “That’s not for me to comment on.”

This comes as the EU approved last week its own first-ever “Artificial Intelligence Act.” But rights groups warn the legislation “sets a dangerous precedent.” The group Access Now said, “The new AI Act is littered with concessions to industry lobbying, exemptions for the most dangerous uses of AI by law enforcement and migration authorities, and prohibitions so full of loopholes that they don’t actually ban some of the most dangerous uses of AI.”

NYC Preserves “Right to Shelter” Policy But Excludes Migrant Adults from Its Protections

Mar 18, 2024

Here in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams and the Legal Aid Society have reached a deal which preserves New York’s “right to shelter” policy for unhoused people but caps shelter stays by 30 or 60 days for newly arrived migrant adults. The settlement also bars New York City from forcing people to sleep on chairs and floors of so-called waiting rooms where adult migrants wait in hopes of securing a shelter placement. Housing and immigrant justice groups welcomed the protection of the “right to shelter” policy and said they will continue working toward making it applicable for all New Yorkers. The NYCLU said, “This rollback on the right to shelter could put thousands of people on the street. Everyone deserves a place to sleep — and that includes all new arrivals.”

U.S. Court Halts New SEC Rule Requiring Climate Risk Disclosures from Fossil Fuel Industry

Mar 18, 2024

A federal court temporarily paused new government rules that require public companies to disclose more information about their greenhouse gas emissions and the financial risks they face from the climate crisis. The case was brought by a pair of fracking companies.

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