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HeadlinesJune 18, 2024

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Israeli Attack Kills Gazans Awaiting Humanitarian Aid Shipments

Jun 18, 2024

At least 17 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip overnight after Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes on homes in the Nuseirat and Bureij refugee camps. This came after at least nine Palestinians were reported killed in another Israeli attack while waiting for aid trucks to arrive in the southern city of Rafah. This is Umm Mohammed Daloul, the aunt of one of the men killed in the strike.

Umm Mohammed Daloul: “They are merchants. They had nothing to do with anything. They were struck with missiles. There’s no safety. No safety. These are innocent people, honest people, who had nothing to do with anything. They killed the merchants. They killed people. They killed children. They killed women. They have mistreated us.”

Israelis Protest Outside Netanyahu’s Home to Demand New Elections & Ceasefire

Jun 18, 2024

In Jerusalem, at least one person was wounded and nine others arrested Monday night as thousands of protesters rallied near the home of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Among those detained was a family member of an Israeli taken hostage by Hamas. It was one of dozens of protests taking place across Israel this week demanding immediate elections and a Gaza ceasefire. This is 26-year-old Yotam Cohen, whose brother remains a hostage in Gaza.

Yotam Cohen: “The last eight months have been an emotional roller coaster for me and the other hostage families. And I think that without a struggle and without the protest, this deal will also be put down. And we’re here to tell the government and shout for them to close the deal and to bring them home.”

Key Democrats Agree to $18 Billion U.S. Arms Sale to Israel 

Jun 18, 2024

The chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has agreed to back the sale of $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets and other arms to Israel, following intense pressure from the Biden administration. New York Congressmember Gregory Meeks had previously held up the weapons sales after objecting to Israel’s attacks on civilians. Maryland Democrat and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin has also signed off on the sales.

This comes as a French court has reversed a ruling that would have seen Israeli weapons traders barred from the world’s largest arms expo. The Eurosatory exhibition opened in Paris on Monday without the participation of Israeli delegates and intermediaries, after peace activists successfully argued a government ban on Israeli companies operating booths at the event didn’t go far enough. Earlier today, however, a commercial court reversed that decision.

ICAN Calls for Restraint as Russia and NATO Weigh Deploying More Nuclear Warheads

Jun 18, 2024

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, is calling on the world’s nuclear powers to stop ratcheting up tensions as a new report shows a surge in nuclear weapons spending. In a recent interview, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance was weighing “how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stored.” The U.S. currently has nuclear weapons deployed in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands, while Russia has recently deployed warheads to Belarus. ICAN said, “The NATO countries hosting U.S. nuclear weapons should admit to their citizens that they have these inhumane weapons on their soil without their say. … [No country] should be demonstrating their willingness to join in the killing of millions of people.” On Monday, Stoltenberg visited President Biden at the White House and spoke at the Wilson Center think tank, where he boasted of NATO’s increased weapons spending.

Jens Stoltenberg: ”NATO creates a market for defense sales. Over the last two years, more than two-thirds of European defense acquisitions were made with U.S. firms. That is more than $140 billion U.S. worth of contracts for U.S. defense companies. So NATO is good for U.S. security, good for U.S. industry and good for U.S. jobs.”

Vladimir Putin Travels to North Korea for State Visit, Will Meet with Kim Jong-un

Jun 18, 2024

South Korea’s military says its soldiers fired warning shots at about two dozen North Korean troops who crossed the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone separating the two countries. It was the second reported border incursion this month and came as Russian President Vladimir Putin departed for a state visit to Pyongyang, where he’s set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to discuss trade, weapons sales and military assistance. It’s Putin’s first visit to North Korea since 2000.

Hundreds of Millions to Face Heat Advisories as Summer Heat Wave Spreads

Jun 18, 2024

In India, residents of New Delhi remain under a red alert — the highest level of warning — with daytime temperatures soaring past 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Meteorologists say northern India is in the midst of its longest-ever heat wave, with highs in some areas pushing the limits of what humans can survive.

In Saudi Arabia, at least 14 Muslim worshipers have died of heatstroke during the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. On Sunday, temperatures around the Great Mosque of Mecca reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

In North America, an estimated 260 million people in the U.S. and Canada face temperatures of 90 degrees or higher this week as a persistent heat dome is forecast to settle over cities including Chicago, New York and Toronto. Meanwhile, in western states, crews are battling fresh wildfires that have exploded in Los Angeles, Northern California’s Sonoma County, as well as New Mexico and elsewhere.

This comes as dozens of labor and environmental groups petitioned the Federal Emergency Management Agency Monday to include wildfires and extreme heat in its definition of a “major disaster,” as both events are set to get even more frequent and more destructive due to the worsening climate crisis.

EU Approves Landmark Habitat Restoration Law

Jun 18, 2024

The European Union has approved a landmark environmental law that will require the bloc’s 27 member states to restore nature on at least one-fifth of their land and sea by 2030. Over 80% of Europe’s natural habitats are considered to be in poor health.

11 Die, Dozens Go Missing as Ships Carrying Asylum Seekers Capsize Off Italy

Jun 18, 2024

At least 11 asylum seekers have died and dozens are missing after two shipwrecks off the southern coast of Italy. Over 50 migrants were rescued Monday from a sinking wooden boat, while another boat, which had set off from Turkey, caught fire and overturned. Many of the refugees came from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The International Organization for Migration estimates more than 27,000 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea over the last 10 years as they attempt to reach Europe from northern Africa.

Biden to Extend Protections to Undocumented Immigrant Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Jun 18, 2024

The Biden administration is announcing a new policy that would protect hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens from deportation and grant them a pathway to citizenship. The measure is likely to benefit some 500,000 people who have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, and who would otherwise face mounting bureaucratic and legal challenges to obtain these protections if they entered the U.S. unauthorized. They’ll also be allowed to obtain work permits. President Biden is announcing the policy at the White House later today, marking the 12th anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which provides deportation relief for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. This comes just weeks after Biden issued a measure temporarily shutting down the U.S.-Mexico border and denying asylum to most migrants who do not cross into the U.S. via ports of entry.

NY Gov. and NYC Mayor Float Reinstating a Pre-Pandemic Ban on Masks in Public

Jun 18, 2024

Here in New York, Governor Kathy Hochul has come under fire from health experts after saying she is exploring whether to reinstate a partial ban on face coverings in public spaces. Hochul’s comments came during an interview on CNN, where she was asked by reporter Laura Coates if she would support a call by Jewish leaders to ban masks so pro-Palestinian protesters can be more easily identified.

Gov. Kathy Hochul: “I absolutely will go back and take a look at this and see whether it can be restored, because it is frightening to people. You’re sitting on a subway train, and someone puts on a mask like this and comes in. You don’t know if they’re going to be committing a crime, they’re going to have a gun, or whether they’re just going to be threatening and intimidating you because you are Jewish, which is exactly what happened the other day. Absolutely unacceptable in the state of New York.”

New York City Councilmember Shahana Hanif called the governor’s comments “inexplicable” and said a mask ban would “serve to appease reactionary voices and go against logical health protections. Mask bans won’t deter crime but only hinder public health.” New York City Mayor Eric Adams has also backed a possible mask ban, citing protests, as well as crimes committed by masked people.

Judges Block New Title IX Protections as Republican-Led States Object to Expansion of Trans Rights

Jun 18, 2024

A federal judge on Monday blocked the Biden administration’s expanded Title IX protections in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The federal regulation was recently expanded to increase civil rights protections for transgender students, students who experience sex discrimination and harassment, and pregnant people and survivors of sexual assault in schools. Days earlier, another federal judge temporarily blocked the new rules from taking effect in Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi and Montana. Title IX compliance is required to receive federal education assistance, but Republican states have been fighting against its expansion of protections for trans children.

Thai Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill After Decades of LGBTQ+ Organizing 

Jun 18, 2024

Thailand’s Senate has overwhelmingly approved a marriage equality bill, making it the first country in Southeast Asia to recognize same-sex and nonbinary couples. If Thailand’s king grants final approval, the new law will allow any two people aged 18 or older to wed, and grants them equal rights to adopt children, inherit property, claim tax breaks, and more. This is 18-year-old Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, who helped draft the marriage equality bill.

Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd: “Thank you all for your determination to see this same-sex marriage bill through. This is not just about amending a law, it is also going to change the lives of those in the LGBTQ community and their families. … As an 18-year-old nonbinary youth, this is an important step for society and for our future. We are very proud to make history today, where love triumphed over prejudice.”

Former Black Panther Veronza Bowers Is Free After Half-Century in Prison

Jun 18, 2024

After half a century behind bars, former Black Panther Veronza Bowers has been released. Bowers was sentenced to life in prison in 1973 for the murder of a U.S. park ranger, based on testimony from government informants. He has consistently claimed his innocence. Many call him one of the longest-serving political prisoners in U.S. history. He was freed in May from the Federal Medical Center in North Carolina. In a video shared with Democracy Now!, 78-year-old Bowers said he became a healer in prison and hopes to continue his work on the outside.

Veronza Bowers: “And I learned one thing during incarceration, that a man or a woman has to, sooner or later, make a decision, make a choice, as to how they intend to live life inside. Long ago, I made a decision. I made a choice to help my fellow man to heal and to find peace in the chaos. And that chaos be raging all around, swirling. Anyway, I was able to do that by utilizing the soothing and healing sounds of my beloved shakuhachi — that’s the bamboo flute that I blow — and meditation.”

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