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HeadlinesMarch 21, 2024

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Israel’s Assault on Al-Shifa Hospital Enters 4th Day, Attacks Continue Throughout Gaza Strip

Mar 21, 2024

Israel’s assault on Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, has entered a fourth day. Al Jazeera is reporting Israel has blown up the entire specialist surgery center at the hospital. Israel has now ordered a full evacuation of the medical complex, where thousands of Palestinians had sought refuge and medical care. This comes as Israel continues to attack areas across the Gaza Strip, including the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Khaled al-Saraj: “We saw a frightening sight, body parts. We found the whole area destroyed. A whole area was hit with a belt of fire. They have not done anything. They don’t know the resistance or anything. A mother and her children. Her husband is wounded inside. Her husband is an employee of the Palestinian Authority. He distributes gas. He has nothing to do with the resistance or anything. The whole area was hit with a belt of fire. And the children, as you can see, they have been dismembered. We’re here collecting their limbs from under the rubble. There are still children there. We will bury them and then go search for others.”

As the death toll in Gaza approaches 32,000, aid groups continue to warn of catastrophic hunger across the Gaza Strip. Umm Mohammed Sleem is a Palestinian mother in Gaza City who said her son was killed while trying to secure aid.

Umm Mohammed Sleem: “I want what I am saying to reach the whole world, so they can see what Israel is doing to the poor Palestinian people. We have been six months. Six months. They are children. What have they done to deserve this? We are tired. We no longer have energy. The children in the south, in the north are dying of hunger. What has a baby done to die of hunger?”

U.S. Submits Ceasefire Resolution to UNSC; Netanyahu Tells GOP Israel Will Continue Attacking Gaza

Mar 21, 2024

On the diplomatic front, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Egypt today after a stop in Saudi Arabia. At the United Nations, the U.S. has submitted a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council for an immediate temporary ceasefire in Gaza tied to the release of hostages.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Republican senators in a closed-door video conference that Israel would continue its assault on Gaza. Netanyahu reportedly blasted Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has called for new elections in Israel and turned down Netanyahu’s request to address Democrats.

This comes as over 100 Democratic donors and activists have written to President Biden’s campaign warning the president’s support for Israel’s assault could cost him the election, saying, “Because of the disillusionment of a critical portion of the Democratic coalition, the Gaza war is increasing the chances of a Trump victory.”

Lawmakers Pushing to Cut Off U.S. Funding for UNRWA for Another Year Amid Soaring Hunger in Gaza

Mar 21, 2024

U.S. lawmakers are moving toward cutting off funds for the next year to UNRWA, the U.N. Palestinian relief agency, despite the looming famine in Gaza. A massive new spending bill being considered by Congress would extend a suspension on U.S. funding for the agency until at least March 2025. Last year, the U.S gave the agency $370 million. Australia recently became the latest country to resume funding to the agency following a temporary pause after Israel claimed — without providing evidence — that UNRWA staffers were involved in the October 7 attacks.

Meanwhile, internal U.N. documents obtained by The Guardian reveal Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank have systematically harassed U.N. workers. Some have been beaten and blindfolded at checkpoints. Israel has also reportedly used U.N. facilities to fire on Palestinians living in refugee camps.

“Completely Contrary to Human Rights”: AMLO Blasts Texas’s SB4, Says Mexico Will not Accept Deportees

Mar 21, 2024

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blasted Texas’s anti-immigrant SB4 law on Wednesday as U.S. courts continue to wrangle over its legality. The law grants Texas authorities broad powers to arrest and deport anyone they suspect of crossing the border without authorization. This is López Obrador.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador: “We are against this draconian law, which is completely contrary to human rights. … If they intend to do deportations, which is not up to them, we won’t accept deportations from the Texas government, and we will not stand idly by.”

The law is currently blocked after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals moved to halt the measure Tuesday, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law could go into effect. Immigrant justice advocates warn SB4 would have devastating effects for immigrant communities throughout the state of Texas. This is Fernando García, director of the Border Network for Human Rights.

Fernando García: “If allowed to proceed, it would have a terrible impact on communities. We are talking about the fact that not only migrants crossing the border would be impacted by this state immigration policy of Governor Abbott, but, in general, Texans, migrants in Houston, in Dallas, in Fort Worth, will be subject to a policy of persecution by local and state police, where they will be asking them for immigration papers, detaining them and also deporting them to Mexico.”

Georgia Executes Prisoner Willie Pye After 4-Year Pause in Capital Punishment

Mar 21, 2024

In Georgia, prison officials executed Willie James Pye in the state’s first execution in over four years. Fifty-nine-year-old Willie Pye was put to death with an injection of pentobarbital after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a clemency appeal despite his lawyers arguing he was “intellectually disabled” and that the state of Georgia was not ready to resume executions after halting the practice during the pandemic. Pye’s supporters and anti-death penalty advocates gathered for a vigil Wednesday ahead of his execution. Cathy Harmon-Christian is executive director of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Cathy Harmon-Christian: “On the death certificate, it will say 'homicide.' The state is committing homicide, and that’s what’s on Willie Pye’s death certificate. … The drug itself for this particular lethal injection, to my knowledge, is a single-dose drug, and my understanding is that what it will do, it will boil — Willie Pye will experience boiling in his own blood.”

Two More “Goon Squad” Officers Sentenced to 40 and 17.5 Years for Torture of Two Black Men

Mar 21, 2024

In Mississippi, two more former sheriff’s deputies were sentenced Wednesday for torturing and sexually abusing two Black men in January 2023. Christian Dedmon was sentenced to 40 years in prison, and Daniel Opdyke to 17.5 years The men were part of a group of officers that called themselves the “Goon Squad.” A total of six officers have admitted to beating, handcuffing, waterboarding and tasering Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker inside a home in a majority-white county outside of Jackson, Mississippi. Two other members of the Goon Squad were sentenced on Tuesday.

Assange’s Lawyers Say No Deal on the Table After WSJ Reports DOJ Could Offer Plea Agreement

Mar 21, 2024

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the U.S. Justice Department and lawyers for Julian Assange have had preliminary discussions about a possible plea deal that could lead to the imprisoned WikiLeaks founder being released from prison. However Assange’s legal team says they have been given no indication that the Justice Department intends to resolve the case. Assange has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since 2019 awaiting possible extradition to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years in prison for publishing classified documents exposing U.S. war crimes.

Irish Leader Leo Varadkar Resigns: “The Time Has Come to Pass on the Baton”

Mar 21, 2024

In a surprise move, Ireland’s leader, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, announced Wednesday he is resigning, stating simply, “The time has come to pass on the baton.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “I know inevitably there will be speculation as to the, quote-unquote, 'real reason' for my decision. These are the real reasons. That’s it. I have nothing else lined up. I have nothing in mind. I have no definite personal or political plans. But I’m really looking forward to having the time to think about them.”

At 45, Varadkar is Ireland’s youngest-ever taoiseach. He’s also Ireland’s first openly gay leader and first Indian and mixed-race leader. On Sunday, he called for a Gaza ceasefire as he joined President Biden at the White House for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.


Hong Kong Passes New Hard-Line National Security Law, Further Aligning Territory with Beijing

Mar 21, 2024

In Hong Kong, lawmakers unanimously passed a new national security law that further cracks down on dissent and free speech. Article 23 expands the definition of certain offenses and targets treason, insurrection, sabotage, external interference, theft of state secrets and espionage. It also allows for closed-door trials and imposes harsher penalties, including life imprisonment in some cases. The bill’s passage marks a major defeat for pro-democracy activists and critics of Beijing’s tightening grip on Hong Kong.

In related news, a Hong Kong court on Saturday sentenced 12 people to prison terms of six to seven years after they were convicted of rioting when they stormed the city’s legislature during the 2019 pro-democracy uprising. Hundreds of protesters breached and vandalized the government building on July 1, 2019, the 22nd anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China.

Indonesian Election Authority Confirms Presidential Election Victory for Prabowo Subianto

Mar 21, 2024

Indonesia’s election committee officially declared Prabowo Subianto the winner of the February 14 presidential polls, securing over 58% of the vote. It was Prabowo’s third attempt, after losing twice to outgoing President Joko Widodo. He will assume office alongside Vice President-elect Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is Joko Widodo’s son. Prabowo, the ex-son-in-law of former Indonesian dictator Suharto, is a U.S-backed former general who has been implicated in mass killings in East Timor, Papua and Aceh, as well as the kidnapping and torture of activists in Jakarta.


EPA Announces New Limits on Tailpipe Emissions in Push to Transition to Electric Vehicles

Mar 21, 2024

In environmental news, the Biden administration announced new rules curbing tailpipe emissions for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The new standards call for a 56% reduction in average carbon emissions by 2032. The Environmental Protection Agency hopes the rule will help propel the sale of electric vehicles, or EVs, which last year made up less than 8% of all new car sales. While it’s the greatest-ever limits imposed on tailpipe emissions, climate groups criticized the EPA for slowing down the transition to EVs after the agency’s initial proposal was met with backlash from the auto and fossil fuel industries.

Biden Administration Cancels Another $6 Billion in Federal Student loans

Mar 21, 2024

The Biden administration has announced another $6 billion in federal student loan cancellation for 78,000 public service workers. Borrowers who will benefit include teachers, nurses and firefighters who have been repaying their loans for at least a decade.

GOP Impeachment Campaign Against Biden Losing Steam as Even Conservative Support Wanes

Mar 21, 2024

Republican efforts to impeach President Biden could soon peter out, after a second hearing failed to deliver any evidence pointing to President Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings. With Republican support for the impeachment eroding, Congressmember James Comer, who is leading the impeachment inquiry, said he is weighing possible criminal referrals to the Justice Department instead of a lawmaker vote. New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted the impeachment attempt during Wednesday’s hearing.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “Clearly, what we are seeing here today is a continuation of the 15-month saga of the Republican majority lost in the desert. … This resolution does not outline a high crime or misdemeanor. It’s not here.”

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