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HeadlinesApril 22, 2024

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House Approves $95B in Foreign Military Funding, Incl. Another $26B for Israel

Apr 22, 2024

On Capitol Hill, the House has approved a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The House also approved a bill that could lead to a ban on the social media app TikTok. Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson pushed the bills forward despite growing Republican calls for him to resign in part over his support for supporting $61 billion in aid to Ukraine. The Ukraine bill passed by a vote of 311 to 112. Every Democrat who voted supported the measure. The $26 billion Israel aid bill passed by a vote of 366 to 58. Thirty-seven Democrats and 21 Republicans opposed the bill. Opponents of the bill included Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro.

Rep. Joaquin Castro: “All of us have seen the tragedy of Gaza. We have seen how Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government has used American weapons to kill indiscriminately, to force famine, over 25,000 women and children dead, tens of thousands of missiles and bombs levied on innocent civilians. We cannot escape what we see before us every day. … Are we going to participate in that carnage or not? I choose not to.”

Gaza: Over 200 Bodies, Including Children, Found in Mass Grave at Nasser Hospital

Apr 22, 2024

In Gaza, Palestinian civil defense workers have found at least 210 bodies buried in a mass grave in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. The discovery comes two weeks after Israeli forces withdrew from the hospital. Al Jazeera reports many of the bodies found included children, young men and older women. Some reportedly had their hands tied behind their backs. Palestinians have been searching the hospital grounds for the bodies of loved ones killed during the Israeli siege.

Asmaa al-Shorbaji: “It is a difficult scene, beyond what you can imagine. It is a difficult scene for someone to bring back the body of a dear human being.”

“She Came Out an Orphan”: Doctors Deliver Child of Pregnant Gazan Killed in Israeli Strike

Apr 22, 2024

The official death toll in Gaza has topped 34,000, including more than 14,000 children. Over the weekend, Israeli strikes on Rafah killed at least 22 people, including 18 children. One of the strikes killed a Palestinian man, his wife who was 30 weeks pregnant, and their 4-year-old daughter. Doctors at a nearby hospital performed an emergency cesarean section on the dead mother and delivered her child. Dr. Mohammed Salama is the head of the neonatal intensive care unit at Al-Emirati Hospital in Rafah.

Dr. Mohammed Salama: “The baby girl came out in a tragic situation. She came out and found herself an orphan directly, came into life without care. As soon as she came, she had a moderate to severe respiratory distress. The name that came out was 'baby of a martyr,' and this is in itself a hard word, a tragic word. Even as we write this label, our hands tremble. The thing is hard.”

West Bank Palestinians Go on General Strike After Israeli Massacre on Nur Shams Camp Kills 14

Apr 22, 2024

In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians staged a general strike Sunday after Israeli forces killed at least 14 Palestinians during a 50-hour siege on the Nur Shams refugee camp and the city of Tulkarm. Residents of Nur Shams said the Israeli raid left the camp uninhabitable.

Ahmad Al-Azzeh: “Seeing it is not like hearing about it. You can see with your eyes what happened: destruction, Gaza number two. What happened is that they left no trees, nor people, nor stones. It is unbearable, uninhabitable by humans. What happened is destruction. Destruction. They turned the camp into something uninhabitable. It is terrible.”

Israeli Settlers Shoot Dead Palestinian Medic as He Was Attempting to Aid Injured People

Apr 22, 2024

In a separate incident, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reports Israeli settlers shot dead a Palestinian ambulance driver south of Nablus as he was trying to reach Palestinians injured during a raid by Israeli settlers. Mohammed Awad Allah Musa was a 50-year-old volunteer paramedic with the Palestine Red Crescent.
This comes as the Biden administration is reportedly preparing to issue sanctions on the Netzah Yehuda battalion, an ultra-Orthodox Israeli military unit accused of committing human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Resigns over Oct. 7 Attack

Apr 22, 2024

In other news from the region, Israel’s chief of military intelligence has resigned. Major General Aharon Haliva is the first senior Israeli official to resign over Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. In his resignation letter, Haliva wrote, “The intelligence directorate under my command did not live up to the task we were entrusted with.” He also called for a state commission to investigate intelligence failures prior to October 7. Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid praised Haliva’s decision to resign and called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to follow suit.

Columbia Cancels In-Person Classes as Gaza Campus Protests Multiply

Apr 22, 2024

Columbia University has canceled in-person classes today as campus protests over the war on Gaza enter a sixth day. Classes will be held online today as the campus remains largely locked down. The protests have swelled after the arrest last week of over 100 students who had set up an encampment to call for the school to divest from Israel. Organizers say at least 50 students have been suspended from Barnard and 35 from Columbia. A growing number of Columbia and Barnard alumni, employees and guest speakers have also publicly condemned or announced they are boycotting the prestigious institutions. Meanwhile, Gaza solidarity protests and encampments have begun on campuses across the country, including at Yale, MIT, Tufts, NYU, The New School and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

USC Calls Off Prominent Guest Speeches at Graduation Amid Fallout over Censoring Valedictorian

Apr 22, 2024

Officials at USC, the University of Southern California, have canceled all outside speakers at this year’s graduation ceremonies, including Jon Chu, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” and tennis legend Billie Jean King. The decision comes days after the school sparked outrage by canceling a speech by valedictorian Asna Tabassum over what the school claimed were “safety” reasons. Tabassum is a first-generation South Asian American Muslim who had expressed support for Palestinians.

Biden Signs Reauthorization of FISA’s Section 702 Despite Privacy and Rights Concerns

Apr 22, 2024

President Biden has signed legislation to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act despite warnings from privacy experts that the bill could greatly expand the ability for the government to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance. The Senate approved the FISA bill on Friday in a 60-34 vote. Critics include Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who described the bill as “one of the most dramatic and terrifying expansions of government surveillance authority in history.”

Sen. Ron Wyden: “If you have access to any communications, the government can force you to help it spy. That means anybody with access to a server, a wire, a cable box, a Wi-Fi router, a phone or a computer. … If this provision is enacted, the government can deputize any of these people against their will and force them, in effect, to become what amounts to an agent for Big Brother.”

Trump’s Criminal Hush Money Trial Seats Jury; Opening Arguments Start

Apr 22, 2024

Opening arguments begin today in Donald Trump’s criminal trial. Trump is the first former president to ever be criminally charged. Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to hide $130,000 paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels to impact the 2016 election. Twelve jurors and six alternates have been sworn in. On Friday, a man set himself on fire in a park outside of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse where Trump is being tried. Thirty-seven-year-old Max Azzarello died hours later. Friends of the man said he had become consumed with conspiracy theories in recent years.

Ecuadorians Back President Noboa’s Security Plan Tackling Organized Crime

Apr 22, 2024

In Ecuador, voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum approving President Daniel Noboa’s security plan for tackling gang-related crime. The new measures include expanding military and police authority, tightening gun control, lengthening prison sentences for certain offenses and imposing stricter penalties for crimes considered to be acts of “terrorism.” The Sunday vote came as a prison warden in the western state of Manabí was shot dead. Two days earlier, the mayor of the mining town of Portovelo was killed — the third Ecuadorian mayor to be assassinated in less than a month. President Noboa declared an “internal armed conflict” in January. Some rights groups warn Noboa’s crackdown will lead to more abuses by officials. The spiraling security crisis and severe drought conditions have forced tens of thousands of Ecuadorians to flee toward the Mexico-U.S. border.

U.S. Military to Withdraw from Niger, Shut Down Drone Base

Apr 22, 2024

The U.S. military has announced it will withdraw troops from Niger and close down a major drone base that it had built six years ago. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters in Niger marched in Agadez to demand the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. This comes as Russia strengthens ties to the U.S.-trained military junta in Niger, which seized power last year in a coup.

Volkswagen Workers in Tennessee Vote to Unionize with United Auto Workers

Apr 22, 2024

In labor news, Volkswagen employees at a Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory have overwhelmingly voted to join the United Auto Workers union. The plant will become the first foreign-owned car factory in the South to unionize. The decisive victory comes in the wake of the historic strike and contract gains with the U.S. auto industry’s “Big 3” companies last year. The UAW has pledged to unionize auto workers across the country. On Sunday, UAW President Shawn Fain spoke at a conference organized by Labor Notes.

Shawn Fain: “Four thousand workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, did what many people said was impossible. … You know, we did what the pundits said couldn’t be done. Every time I was interviewed by people and we talked about organizing the South, they would always do an eye roll and say, 'Do you really think you can win in the South?' And you know what? Those workers stood up for themselves. That’s how we won. And they voted for a union.”

Biden Administration Expands Title IX Protections to Include LGBTQ+ Students

Apr 22, 2024

The Biden administration has updated Title IX rules, codifying the rights of transgender students and undoing some of the Trump-era rollbacks to the landmark civil rights law. The new rules expand sex discrimination and harassment to include LGBTQ discrimination as Republicans around the country escalate attacks on transgender children. The new rules also increase protections for pregnant people and survivors of sexual assault in schools.

Alameda DA Charges 3 Police Officers with Manslaughter in 2021 Killing of Mario Gonzalez

Apr 22, 2024

In California, three officers have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 police killing of Mario Gonzalez. The Alameda County district attorney reopened the case against Eric McKinley, James Fisher and Cameron Leahy after the preceding DA closed it in 2022. Twenty-six-year-old Mario Gonzalez was alone in a park when the officers violently arrested him, kneeling on his body until he became unresponsive. Gonzalez left behind a young son.

China: Record Rainfall Kills 3, Displaces 60,000 in Guangdong

Apr 22, 2024

In China, at least three people have died, while authorities evacuated another 60,000 people from their homes, as massive floods have inundated parts of Guangdong province after record-breaking rains.

On Earth Day, Biden Announced $7 Billion in Solar Investments

Apr 22, 2024

Here in the U.S., President Biden is announcing a $7 billion investment in solar energy in an Earth Day speech at Virginia’s Prince William Forest. The Biden campaign is hoping to capitalize on young voters’ support for climate policies as Biden’s popularity dwindles amid the ongoing war on Gaza.

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