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HeadlinesMay 17, 2024

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“We Don’t Want Ships. We Want Safety”: Displaced Gazans Reject U.S. Pier; U.N. Calls for Land Access

May 17, 2024

Israel’s deadly attacks throughout the Gaza Strip are intensifying with thousands more Palestinians in northern Gaza now cut off from food and water as Israel says its troops are fighting in Jabaliya’s “city center.” Israel’s attacks on Rafah are also ongoing, after more than half a million people taking refuge in the southern city were forced to flee.

The U.S. said its first aid shipments have started via its temporary Gaza pier after several weeks of construction. But the U.N. reiterated that all humanitarian access points to Gaza need to be opened up.

Farhan Haq: “To stave off the horrors of famine, we must use the fastest and most obvious route to reach the people of Gaza. And for that, we need access by land now.”

That was the U.N. secretary-general’s deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq. Many Gazans have rejected the U.S. pier. These are displaced Palestinians in Nuseirat.

Hassan Abu Al-Kass: “We don’t want ships. We want the border crossing to open for people to come and go. We want safety. We want official borders. Those planes, as well, that they bring here with the parachutes, and they throw food at us like dogs, like beggars, that does not work. It falls on houses. It falls on people. It brings us problems.”

Nadia Al-Debs: “We reject dealing with the ships and the American ships, because in the same way it gives us, it will take away from us. Maybe they want to take over the gas fields that are in the sea, or maybe they are here to displace the Palestinian people and to transfer people from one country to another.”

Spain Bars Ships with Weapons For Israel; 13 Foreign Ministers Warn Against Israel’s Rafah Assault

May 17, 2024

Spain has denied port access to an Israeli-bound ship from India carrying explosives. Spain says it will no longer allow ships with weapons for Israel to use its ports. The country has also vowed to recognize Palestinian statehood by July.

Foreign ministers from 13 countries signed onto a letter warning Israel to halt its ground operations in Rafah and to get more aid to Palestinians. The letter was signed by all G7 members minus the U.S. — Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Japan and Canada — as well as the foreign ministers of Australia, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and Sweden.

“Israel’s Genocide Has Reached New and Horrific Stage”: South Africa Requests Urgent ICJ Intervention

May 17, 2024

In The Hague, the International Court of Justice has ordered representatives for Israel to submit more information about humanitarian conditions in its so-called evacuation zones in Gaza by tomorrow. The request came as the ICJ closed its second day of hearings on South Africa’s request for emergency measures to halt Israel’s assault on Rafah. Israel denied it is carrying out a genocide in Gaza as it addressed the court today. Briefings were halted for a moment when a protester yelled “liars” as the Israeli delegation spoke. Yesterday, South Africa presented its case.

Vusimuzi Madonsela: “Israel’s genocide has continued apace and has just reached a new and horrific stage. Israel has sought to hide its crimes through the weaponization of international humanitarian law. It pretends that the civilians it ruthlessly kills, through its 2,000-pound bombs, through its targeted airstrikes, through its artificial intelligence systems, through its executions, are human shields.”

We’ll have more on the World Court hearings later in the broadcast.

Police Raid and Arrest Students at Gaza Solidarity Encampments at UC Berkeley, DePaul University

May 17, 2024

Police continued their violent crackdown on student Gaza solidarity protests this week, with arrests and raids Thursday at UC Berkeley, as well as DePaul University in Chicago. This is DePaul student body president Parveen Mundi.

Parveen Mundi: “It’s really important to us that, you know, for the people of Palestine, knowing that, you know, I’m a student body president and I go to a university, and at the same time there are no universities left in Gaza, we’re all responsible for making sure that our tuition dollars aren’t going towards genocide.”

Faculty at Morehouse College, a historically Black college in Atlanta, voted 50 to 38 in favor of conferring an honorary doctorate to President Biden when he delivers a commencement speech on Sunday. Biden’s visit to Morehouse has been met with protests from students over his response to the Gaza genocide.

In New York state, students at Bard College have just taken over the school’s administration building.

Meanwhile, Columbia students and faculty on Thursday celebrated an alternative “People’s Graduation” at the nearby Cathedral of St. John the Divine. We’ll have more from that ceremony later in the broadcast.

WaPo: Billionaires and Execs Urged Eric Adams to Send Police to Columbia’s Gaza Encampment

May 17, 2024

The Washington Post reports a group of billionaires and business interests privately pressured New York City Mayor Eric Adams to deploy police on pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University. A WhatsApp group with some of the country’s wealthiest people detailed donations to Adams’s campaign and conversations with the mayor. Some of those involved include real estate magnate Barry Sternlicht; Daniel Lubetzky, founder of the Kind Snacks brand; hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb; and founder of Thor Equities, Joseph Sitt.

SCOTUS Overrules Challenge to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

May 17, 2024

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s funding mechanism that could have undermined the agency charged with protecting borrowers from predatory loans and other abuses by banks and financial entities. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich praised the justices for protecting the CFPB from “attacks by shady payday lenders,” adding, “Since 2011, the CFPB has put $17.5 billion back in the pockets of 200 million Americans who have been defrauded.”

NYT: Upside-Down Flag Seen Outside Alito’s Home in Jan. 2021, a Symbol Used by Election Deniers

May 17, 2024

In other Supreme Court news, The New York Times is reporting an upside-down U.S. flag, which is a symbol used by Trump supporters and election deniers, hung outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in January 2021, just days before Biden’s inauguration. The revelations are expected to reignite calls for Alito to recuse himself from cases related to the January 6 insurrection, including Trump’s attempt to claim immunity from election subversion charges.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Pardons Known Racist Who Murdered BLM Protester in 2020

May 17, 2024

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has pardoned Daniel Perry, the U.S. Army sergeant who was convicted and sentenced to 25 years for murdering Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster in 2020. Ahead of the murder, Perry posted on social media he planned to shoot “looters,” and posted dozens of racist and Islamophobic messages and images. While people with felonies are not permitted to own firearms in Texas, Governor Abbott’s pardon means Perry will be legally allowed to carry and possess a gun.

Texas Storms Kill 4, Cut Power to a Million Customers

May 17, 2024

In other news from Texas, at least four people are dead and nearly 1 million are without power after heavy rains and powerful storms battered the Houston area Thursday night, causing massive floods and other destruction.

Biden Admin to End New Leases in U.S.’s Largest Coal-Producing Region

May 17, 2024

The Biden administration is moving to end all new coal leasing in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana — the largest coal-producing region in the United States. The move comes in response to a lawsuit by environmental groups.

Ron DeSantis Eliminates Climate Change as Priority in Florida’s Energy Policy

May 17, 2024

In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that removes all references to “climate change” in state law and weakens regulations on pipelines, among other measures. The move eliminates climate change as a priority in Florida’s energy policy decisions, despite Florida being on the frontlines of the climate crisis as it faces worsening hurricanes, rising sea levels, extreme heat and toxic algae blooms.

Congolese Mourners Call Out Rwanda and Western Supporters for “Genocide” on Its People

May 17, 2024

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, families gathered Wednesday to bury nearly two dozen children who were killed earlier this month after rocket attacks on camps for displaced people near the city of Goma. Another 13 victims, mostly women, were also buried. Mourners blamed the M23 armed group for the killings and condemned neighboring Rwanda for backing the group. This is Congolese Human Rights Minister Albert Fabrice Puela.

Albert Fabrice Puela: “A Congolese genocide for economic reasons is being perpetrated in our country by Rwanda. War crimes, such as those of May 3rd in Mugunga, crimes against humanity, have all been documented.”

Rwanda has denied the accusations, saying the attacks were likely carried out by militias backed by the Congolese army. Intensifying violence in the eastern DRC has forced hundreds of thousands to flee as armed groups vie for control of the country’s natural resources.

Lydie Mutombo: “There are a lot of foreign countries behind Rwanda President Paul Kagame, and they’re killing my people because of the minerals that the Congo has. If they want to work with the Congo, they shouldn’t go through Kagame. Let them come and negotiate with us, and we’ll know how to make the ore available to them so that we can all benefit from it.”

HRW Says Rwanda Denied Entry to Its Researcher

May 17, 2024

In other news about Rwanda, Human Rights Watch said Rwandan immigration authorities denied entry to one of its researchers this week. HRW said the move “exposes the government’s deep-seated hostility to human rights monitoring and independent scrutiny of any kind.”


Another Deportation Flight Leaves the U.S. for Haiti Despite “Grave Dangers”

May 17, 2024

Back in the U.S., immigrant rights groups continue to demand the Biden administration immediately halt deportations to Haiti and enact protections for Haitian migrants as the island nation faces a worsening humanitarian crisis, deepening gang violence and political instability. Advocates said Thursday another group of Haitian asylum seekers had been deported — the second deportation flight since April. The Haitian Bridge Alliance said the “deeply troubling policy … places vulnerable individuals in grave danger.”

DOJ Moves to Reclassify Marijuana

May 17, 2024

The Biden administration took a major step toward reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 3 drug. The move will not decriminalize marijuana but acknowledges its medical benefits and differentiates it from lethal drugs like heroin or meth. The move would also ease tax burdens on states that have legalized marijuana sales. Biden hailed the “monumental” step Thursday.

President Joe Biden: “No one should be in jail merely for using or possessing marijuana, period. Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana. And I’m committed to righting those wrongs.”

As a senator, Joe Biden authored the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, enacting new mandatory minimum sentences for drugs including marijuana. The law led to a fivefold increase in the jailing of Black people.

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