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HeadlinesApril 12, 2024

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Gazan Children Play Among Ruins as Israeli Bombs Rain Down on Eid

Apr 12, 2024

Israeli attacks across Gaza have killed dozens of Palestinians over the past day, including in the Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza City and Rafah. Palestinian officials say an Israeli airstrike killed Rudwan Rudwan, the head of the Jabaliya camp’s police force, who oversaw the safe travel of aid truck convoys in northern Gaza. Like much of the Gaza Strip, Jabaliya has been left in utter ruins by Israel. Children are forced to play among the rubble.

Magd Dahman: “We built this game because all of our toys have been destroyed, and our houses have been destroyed, and there’s nothing for us to play with except this pipe.”

Mohamed Abu al-Qomsan: “As you can see here at the Jabaliya refugee camp, mass destruction. There isn’t an atmosphere of Eid or the joy that comes with it. As you can see, children are playing on the rubble and rocks, and I am entertaining them.”

Samantha Power, Top USAID Official, Admits Northern Gaza Is Experiencing Famine

Apr 12, 2024

On Wednesday, Samantha Power, head of USAID, became the first top Biden administration official to publicly acknowledge that famine is present in northern Gaza. She was questioned by House Democrat Joaquin Castro during a congressional hearing.

Rep. Joaquin Castro: “So, there’s — famine is already occurring there?”

Samantha Power: “That is” —

Rep. Joaquin Castro: “Yeah.”

Samantha Power: “Yes.”

Castro then asked Power how many children were at risk of dying in the coming weeks due to famine.

Samantha Power: “In northern Gaza, the rate of malnutrition prior to October 7th was almost zero, and it is now one in three — one in three kids.”

U.S. Sends Top General to Israel Amid Reports of Iranian Retaliation for Israel’s Damascus Attack

Apr 12, 2024

The Biden administration sent top military commander General Michael Kurilla to Israel and has restricted travel for its embassy staff in Israel, as fears mount over a possible Iranian attack. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday an attack in Israel could come by Saturday, though another unnamed source says Tehran has not made any final decisions. Iranian leadership vowed to retaliate following last week’s Israeli attack on a diplomatic site in Damascus, Syria, which killed top Iranian military officials, including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in the al-Quds Force.

Morocco Sentences Activist to 5 Years for Criticizing Normalization Deal with Israel

Apr 12, 2024

In Morocco, an activist was sentenced to five years in prison this week for criticizing his country’s 2020 decision to normalize relations with Israel. Abdul Rahman Zankad was arrested last month after posting on social media.

Mexico Brings Grievances Against Ecuador to ICJ Amid Mounting Diplomatic Row

Apr 12, 2024

Mexico has filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice and requested the U.N. expel Ecuador, as tensions between the two nations rise. Last week, Ecuadorian police and military raided the Mexican Embassy in Quito to arrest former leftist Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glas. Glas had been taking refuge at the embassy since December to avoid arrest on corruption charges, which he and allies say are politically motivated. This is Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena.

Alicia Bárcena: “Mexico is accusing Ecuador of violating the diplomatic immunity of its embassy, and this is extremely serious, regardless of the cause. The fact that they have raided the embassy in a violent manner with police and military forces is a violation, unjustified anywhere.”

Ukraine Passes Contested Draft Bill with No Limits on Wartime Military Service

Apr 12, 2024

Ukraine passed a bill overhauling the military draft as a general warned lawmakers Russian forces outnumbered Ukrainian troops tenfold in the east. The new measures seek to increase troops by requiring eligible men to update their draft data with authorities, increasing compensation for volunteers and allowing some people with convictions to serve. It also does not set an upper limit for wartime military service. Lawmakers, however, were forced to remove some of the harshest draft dodging penalties after public backlash. Family members of deployed soldiers protested the bill near the parliament in Kyiv Thursday.

Kateryna Kulibaba: “Our boys and girls in the service are very tired. They have been fighting for two years, and no one is planning to replace them. For rotation to happen, newcomers have to know how much time they’ll have to spend at the frontline. Undefined mobilization terms mean fighting forever. Without strictly defined terms, no one will join the army.”

The measure comes over two years into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and as Russian forces step up their attacks. Russia launched over 40 missiles and 40 drones at Ukrainian energy sources and critical infrastructure overnight Thursday, destroying at least one large electricity plant.

Poland Begins Debate on Rolling Back Abortion Ban Under New Liberal Leader

Apr 12, 2024

Polish lawmakers have begun debating reforms to the country’s near-total abortion ban, more than three years after mass protests against the ban rocked Poland. Poland’s liberal new Prime Minister Donald Tusk pledged to bring abortion rights back, but his wide-ranging political coalition remains deeply divided on the issue. This is Dorota Olko of the Left Together party.

Dorota Olko: “Removing the provisions on imprisonment for assisting in abortion from the Penal Code is the first necessary step to the safety of pregnant women in our country. The place of abortion is in the medical textbook, not in the criminal code.”

Biden Cancels Another $7.4 Billion in Student Debt

Apr 12, 2024

President Biden today announced another $7.4 billion in federal student loan relief. Around 277,000 borrowers will see their debt canceled as part of regulatory updates to existing programs. The new push will mostly benefit borrowers enrolled in SAVE, an income-driven repayment plan, which relieves debt after at least 10 years of repayments.

Biden Admin Closes “Gun Show Loophole”

Apr 12, 2024

The Biden administration finalized a rule closing the “gun show loophole.” Vendors who sell firearms online, at gun shows and through private purchases will now be required to conduct background checks on buyers. The change is expected to affect over 20,000 people who currently deal in unlicensed firearms sales. They will also be required to register with the government.

Far-Right Flank of House Block Reauthorization of Controversial Section 702 of FISA

Apr 12, 2024

Far-right House conservatives blocked legislation that would extend warrantless surveillance after Donald Trump directed them to “kill it.” The move was in defiance of embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson, who has now failed three times to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

“Goon Squad” Convicts Get State Sentences of 15-45 Years for Torturing Black Men

Apr 12, 2024

In Mississippi, six white former sheriff’s deputies who belonged to the self-described “Goon Squad” have each been sentenced in state court to 15 to 45 years in prison for raiding a home and torturing two Black men. They will serve the state sentences concurrently with their federal sentences, which were handed down last month and range between 10 and 40 years in prison. Click here to see our full coverage of this story, including interviews with the survivors Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker.

Climate Crisis Triggers Great Barrier Reef’s Worst-Ever Coral Bleaching

Apr 12, 2024

In Australia, conservationists warned the Great Barrier Reef could be suffering its “most severe” coral bleaching ever. Some 75% of the reef has bleached in the fifth such event in eight years, which are increasing with global heating. Coral reefs are key to maintaining marine biodiversity as thousands of underwater creatures depend on them for survival, including fish, sea turtles, sea birds, jellyfish, among many more. They also protect coastal areas from major storm surges and provide livelihoods and nourishment for surrounding communities and beyond.

10 Years After Chibok Abduction, Leaders No Longer Fighting for Survivors and Remaining Captives

Apr 12, 2024

In Nigeria, communities are marking 10 years since the mass kidnapping of 276 girls from their school dormitory in Chibok by Boko Haram fighters. Negotiations in 2016 and 2017 led to the release of about 100 of the girls, but Nigerian and international leaders have since ceased campaigning for the release of the remaining captives as mass kidnappings continue to plague the country. Their families and freed survivors are demanding their safe return.

Yagana Yamani: “Those that remain in the bush, they are my friends. They are my friends, so I was praying maybe one day we will still see each other. I was praying that maybe government will help us and try their best so that they will come and see their parents, their parents will see their children, the way we see our own parents.”

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