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HeadlinesMarch 08, 2024

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Biden Talks Taxing the Rich, Abortion Rights, Immigration Crackdown and Gaza in Election Year SOTU

Mar 08, 2024

President Biden delivered the State of the Union Thursday as he faces the likely prospect of an election rematch with Donald Trump in November and amid mounting public anger over his enabling of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Biden announced plans to tax the wealthy, vowed to restore federal abortion rights and touted his record on relaxing federal marijuana restrictions and punishments. But Biden also doubled down on his efforts to pass a hard-line border and immigration crackdown and repeated far-right Congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene’s use of the term “illegal” after she heckled him during his speech over the death of a Georgia woman who was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant. Biden held up a pin handed to him by Taylor Greene with the killed woman’s name on it. Biden also addressed his age and welcomed Sweden as the newest member of NATO, following its formal entry into the military alliance earlier in the day. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson sat next to Jill Biden as one of her guests. President Biden also announced plans for a new port to deliver aid to Gaza.

President Joe Biden: “Tonight I’m directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters.”

As they watched on, progressive lawmakers Cori Bush, Summer Lee, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — the only Palestinian American in Congress — held up signs reading “Lasting Ceasefire Now” and “Stop Sending Bombs.” Tlaib, Lee and Bush also donned Palestinian keffiyehs. Separately, many Democratic women wore white in honor of the suffragists. We’ll have more on the State of the Union after headlines.

Hundreds of Activists Block D.C. Streets, Deliver People’s SOTU Calling for End to Genocide

Mar 08, 2024

Ahead of last night’s State of the Union, hundreds of protesters blockaded roads outside the White House and near the Capitol, delaying President Biden’s speech. This is Ahmad Abuznaid with the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, speaking from one of the shut down streets.

Ahmad Abuznaid: “President Biden is talking about building a port to get aid into Gaza. But the simple formula is stop funding the occupation and the genocide, and Palestinians will build their own damn port!”

Activists also delivered their own People’s State of the Union Thursday night. This is Sumaya Awad from the Adalah Justice Project.

Sumaya Awad: “We’re out here representing the majority of Americans, who have made it clear time and again in the last five months that they demand a ceasefire now, that they demand no more weapons to Israel. The majority of the people in this country want taxpayer dollars invested in life, not in genocide, not in war.”

Protests took place elsewhere across the country, including Chicago, where a coalition of activists held a “State of the Genocide.” Participants observed a 24-hour vigil in Federal Plaza, reading aloud the names of over 30,000 Palestinians killed by Israel in the last five months.

“We Don’t Need Aid. We Need Them to Stop the Killing”: Gazans Respond to Biden Aid Port Plan

Mar 08, 2024

In Gaza, the Health Ministry says Israeli attacks have killed at least 78 people and wounded more than 100 others over the past day. In the southern city of Rafah, at least five people were killed in an Israeli strike. As they deplored the destruction, people at the scene blasted Biden’s plans for an aid port.

Hassan Maslah: “Instead of telling us they will build a port to help us, stop providing the weapons they throw at us. All these American weapons are killing our kids and killing us wherever we go. We don’t need aid from them. We need them to stop the killing, stop the death. Wherever we go, we find death.”

Palestinian Women Prisoners Share Accounts of Inhumane Treatment, Sexual Assault

Mar 08, 2024

U.N. experts are calling for a probe into reports of sexual assault, torture and killing of Palestinian women prisoners by Israeli forces. The Palestinian Prisoner Society says an estimated 240 Palestinian women have been detained since October 7. Some of the released women have since spoken out on their traumatic experiences. This is Hadeel Al-Dahdouh, who was rounded up and arrested with a group of men in Gaza in December.

Hadeel Al-Dahdouh: “They put me and the young men in a hole in the ground. The young men were sitting opposite me. One of the soldiers took off my hijab. I started to cry. I was afraid. I asked him if I could have it back. He started to laugh at me and refused to put my hijab back on. In that instance, I was afraid and anxious. My husband was beaten. A soldier fired twice in the air and told me, 'I killed your husband.' … The tank started to throw sand toward me and the men. I was trying to get away while I was handcuffed, but the tank kept getting closer to us. I started crying, asking the soldier what will he do to us. He said, 'I want to bury you alive in this hole and let the dogs eat you.'”

Israel Hastens Illegal Construction in Occupied West Bank as It Decimates Gaza

Mar 08, 2024

In the occupied West Bank, Israel is moving ahead with plans to create another 3,400 homes in illegal settlements, despite condemnation from the U.S. and other allies. The settlements are a violation of international law.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a video showing the surge in illegal settlement building, with new roads and outposts mushrooming in the West Bank since October 7. Palestinian officials have pushed back on the illegal construction, but the vast majority of it has gone unreported or unpunished by the Israeli government.

At Least 275 Students Abducted in Nigeria

Mar 08, 2024

In Nigeria, at least 275 students are missing after dozens of gunmen attacked their school in the northwestern town of Kuriga Thursday, kidnapping children between the ages of 8 and 15. No group has claimed responsibility. This is the second mass abduction in Nigeria in less than a week.

Iliyasu Mohammed: “How can these gunmen come and carry our children? This is the reason why I am so sad. This is our village, Kuriga. Please, Your Excellency, help us.”

A search and rescue team has been deployed. Abductions of students have become more frequent in recent years, where armed groups target local residents for large ransoms.


Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso Team Up for Security Force Days After 170 People Killed in Burkina Faso

Mar 08, 2024

Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso are launching a joint security force to combat rising extremist violence. The three nations had already formed a security alliance after severing military ties with their former colonizer France since military juntas took over following a series of recent coups in the Sahel region.

This comes days after a public prosecutor in Burkina Faso said at least 170 people were executed in three separate attacks in the northern Yatenga province. Violence carried out by militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been on the rise, forcing millions in Burkina Faso to flee their homes.

Senegal Sets New Election for March 24 After Protesters and Court Push Back on Macky Sall’s Delay

Mar 08, 2024

Senegal’s President Macky Sall announced a new presidential election date on March 24. Tensions have been mounting in Senegal since President Sall postponed the election last month, triggering protests, mass arrests and accusations by opposition politicians that Sall was orchestrating a constitutional coup. President Sall’s term ends on April 2.

Haiti Extends State of Emergency as PM Ariel Henry Remains Stranded Outside of Country

Mar 08, 2024

Haiti’s government has extended a state of emergency until April. U.N. officials warn Haiti’s health system is “nearing collapse” due to shortages of staff, equipment and other resources to treat a growing number of wounded patients as gang unrest continues demanding the resignation of unelected Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Many have also denounced police violence against local residents.

Marckenson: “The situation in the country is critical. People can no longer go about their business. Our children can no longer go to school. Merchants can’t go to the market. No one can move around the country. Recently, a tear gas grenade thrown by the police hit a journalist in the eye. The police kill students, and they kill activists. Today, they are questioning activists. We have a prime minister. We don’t know whether he’s dead or alive, because he’s lost in the wild.”

Ariel Henry has still not returned to Haiti. He is reportedly in Puerto Rico after coming back from Kenya.

Narendra Modi Visits Kashmir for First Time Since 2019 Crackdown

Mar 08, 2024

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled to the disputed Kashmir region Thursday — his first visit since stripping the Muslim-majority region of its semiautonomous status in 2019. The decision was hailed by Hindu nationalists. Modi addressed a crowd in Kashmir’s largest city, Srinagar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “There is no Article 370 today, and that is why the talent of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir is being recognized and respected. They are getting new opportunities. Today there are equal rights and opportunities for everyone here.”

Rights groups have denounced Modi’s intensifying crackdown on journalists and dissidents in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hong Kong Introduces New Draft National Security Law, Expanding Its Control on Dissent

Mar 08, 2024

In Hong Kong, lawmakers published a draft of a new national security law that further cracks down on dissent and free speech. The law expands the definition of certain offenses and targets treason, insurrection, sabotage, external interference, theft of state secrets and espionage. The draft law also imposes harsher penalties for these offenses, including life imprisonment in some cases. The bill is expected to pass swiftly as only Beijing-aligned lawmakers have been permitted to run in Hong Kong elections since 2021.

U.S. Court Rejects Case Against Big Tech for Its Complicity in Child Labor in DRC

Mar 08, 2024

A federal appeals court has dismissed a child labor case which sought to hold Big Tech accountable for the abuse of young children forced to work in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Companies including Apple, Microsoft, Tesla and Google rely on cobalt to make the rechargeable lithium batteries used in their products, but have argued they merely have a “buyer-seller relationship” with cobalt suppliers and have no power to stop child labor. The two companies named in the lawsuit are U.K.-based Glencore and Chinese company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt. Circuit Judge Neomi Rao acknowledged the tech giants are aware of the child exploitation and that they “intentionally use a murky supply chain to obscure the extent to which they rely on forced labor.” The group International Rights Advocates, which brought the lawsuit, says it is considering an appeal.

Google Fires Dozens of Contract Workers After They Unionized

Mar 08, 2024

In labor news, Google has come under fire after laying off dozens of unionized contract workers in a likely act of retaliation. The workers were made aware of their firing as they spoke last week in front of the Austin City Council, which was preparing to vote on a resolution in support of their efforts to negotiate with Google.

Jack Benedict: “There are less than 50 of us at YouTube Music, and we’re taking on two of the largest corporations in the world. So, to be supported by the city of Austin and also our allies in the labor community give us the motivation to keep this fight going.”

Katie-Marie Marschner: “Not to interrupt, but they just laid us all off.”

Jack Benedict: “Oh.”

Katie-Marie Marschner: “Yeah, they just laid us all off.”

Jack Benedict: “We just all — I guess we just all got laid off.”

Katie-Marie Marschner: “Our jobs are ended today, effective immediately.”

Jack Benedict: “Wow.”

Mayor Kirk Watson: “I’m sorry, your time’s expired.”

The workers, who oversee the YouTube Music platform, voted to join the Alphabet Workers Union last year. Since then, Google has refused to bargain with the workers because they are subcontracted through another company — this, despite the National Labor Relations Board ruling Google is a co-employer and must bargain with the group. Google claims the unionized workers were let go because their contract had ended, even though it was routinely renewed and Google has a track record of firing workers during labor organizing efforts.

Autopsy Shows Lewiston, Maine, Mass Shooter May Have Suffered from Traumatic Brain Injury

Mar 08, 2024

An autopsy report reveals tissue samples from the brain of an Army reservist who killed 18 people during a mass shooting at a Lewiston, Maine, bowling alley and bar last October showed signs of traumatic brain injury. Robert Card was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot two days later. The 40-year-old worked at an Army hand grenade training range and is thought to have been exposed to “thousands of low-level blasts.” The findings came as a commission investigating the mass shooting is hearing testimony from several of Card’s former Army colleagues. Leading up to the shooting, Maine police had been alerted the gunman was a possible danger after he threatened to “shoot up” his military base.

Biden Wins Hawaii Democratic Primary; “Uncommitted” Takes Nearly 30% of Votes

Mar 08, 2024

In election news, President Biden won Wednesday’s low-turnout primary in Hawaii. “Uncommitted” received its highest percentage of votes yet with roughly 29% of Democratic ballots.

FDA Issues Warning for 6 Brands of Ground Cinnamon

Mar 08, 2024

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an advisory for six brands of ground cinnamon due to lead contamination. The brands are La Fiesta, Marcum, MK, Swad, Supreme Tradition and Eli Chilar. The FDA said the lead levels in these products are much lower than those found in cinnamon apple sauce pouches that were recalled last fall. Long-term lead exposure can pose significant health risks, especially for children. It has been linked to slower development, brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, and hearing and speech problems.


“After Oct. 7, There Are No Longer Any Women”: Gazan Women Struggle to Survive on IWD

Mar 08, 2024

Today marks International Women’s Day. Rallies and other actions are planned across the globe. But in a makeshift camp in southern Gaza’s Rafah city, displaced Palestinian women say they are not celebrating this year as they struggle to survive amid war, hunger, illness and grief. These are some of their voices.

Iman Zakout: “Women’s Day is outside of Palestine. In Palestine, we do not have Women’s Day, especially in Gaza. Women have been wiped away; they no longer have (an identity) here. Before October 7, women here had a good quality of life in their homes. They were secure and happy. They had everything. After October 7, there are no longer any women.”

Umm Ahmed Zakout: “Women cannot hold onto their children. The houses have been bombed. This is a war of extermination. This is not just a war. These are people. They have all been destroyed. Every generation is killed. Every generation grows up and is then killed. Are they not humans? You bring up your child with your heart, and within moments, within minutes, he is gone, and the house he is in is gone.”

Aya Al-Madhoun: “We suffer from violence, from sadness, from injustice, from humiliation, from the hardest forms of torture at the hands of the occupation. … My wish on International Women’s Day is for this war not to get repeated.”

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