THE BIG NEWS
War Business Booming
"Lots of good news out there," an American missile salesman said during a Wall Street briefing this year, per the New York Times. Worldwide military spending has surpassed $2.2 trillion, a peak not since since the Cold War. The U.S. remains the world's largest arms exporter, which from the perspective of the foreign policy establishment is a good thing – although, as one arms control spoilsport warns, "the history of the arms trade is one filled with dangerous unexpected results." Another expert points to the risk that all these "arms sales will exacerbate a regional conflict, and trigger the outbreak of war among the great powers."
Speaking of which, the White House will be asking Congress for another $100 billion in military aid to Israel and Ukraine this week; and the Pentagon is surging thousands of troops toward Israel "to send a message of deterrence" to Arab countries. President Joe Biden arrived in Israel today to show support for its relentless bombing of Gaza, although one anonymous administration official assures Politico "there's no interest in seeing the war widen." The segment of Biden's trip in which he was to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been "postponed"; Abbas reportedly withdrew in protest yesterday following the destruction of al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City, which killed hundreds of people. As the Guardian reports:
The Israeli military reportedly said an initial investigation suggested the explosion was caused by a failed Hamas rocket launch, before saying it was the result of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket barrage. Islamic Jihad denied the Israeli allegation, and the scale of the blast appeared to be outside the militant groups' capabilities.
The Anglican Communion, which runs the hospital, blamed Israel for an earlier rocket strike on Saturday that damaged the ultrasound and mammography wards, and appealed for the reversal of Israel's evacuation order for hospitals in northern Gaza. But Israel did not rescind that order, effectively telling the hospital it would remain a potential bombing target. Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after landing that, “based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” without offering any details. Video and eyewitness accounts don't settle who blew up the hospital full of people, but they do confirm that the explosion was massive, and the resulting carnage unspeakable.
"'There was an almighty missile shriek and then a big thud,' Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah told NBC News. He said the operating room ceiling collapsed and he stumbled toward a side entrance, where he saw 'people carrying wounded and walking wounded with blood streaming down covered in dust.' Then he went to the hospital's courtyard, which he said was on fire and 'filled with bodies and bits of bodies.'"
As horrible as things already are, it's never too late to pull back. Israeli military officials suggested yesterday that a full-scale ground invasion of Gaza was not a certainty; while Hamas "expressed a willingness to release women and children it holds captive."
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the U.S. for secretly supplying his country with long-range missiles called ATACMS (and pronounced, I'm not kidding, "attack 'ems"). Ukraine used those weapons for the first time yesterday to strike two Russian air bases in occupied territory. As the Times reports, Biden refused Zelenskyy's demands for the missiles for 18 months, anxious about crossing Russia's "red lines," until a policy group led by White House advisers Jake Sullivan and Jon Finer concluded that the risk of "escalation no longer seemed a major issue." Indeed, so it seems.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Coach Jordan to Try, Try Again After Losing Vote
House Democratic Caucus chair Rep. Pete Aguilar inspired cheers from GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz yesterday when he noted that insurrectionist Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan had not passed a bill in 16 years. And the loser keeps losing. Twenty Republicans voted for anyone but Jordan in yesterday's House Speaker floor vote, in what HuffPost calls a sign that his bullying campaign within the caucus, one aided by Fox News staff, has backfired. Jordan will get another chance with a floor vote today. The results will likely be similar; NBC News says Jordan has maybe flipped one dectractor while losing six Republicans who previously supported him. Meanwhile, Politico reports that a growing number of Republicans are glomming on to a proposal being pushed by some centrist Democrats to grant greater power to acting Speaker Patrick McHenry. Seems half-assed!
Trumpdates: Prominent Jan. 6 Rioter Goes Woke
- Trump Appeals Narrow Gag Order in Jan. 6 Case "My speech has been taken away from me," the former crook-in-chief whined to a crowd of reporters outside another courthouse in New York, who dutifully took down his every word for dissemination to a national audience. via NBC News.
- Special Counsel Jack Smith Withdraws Subpoena Targeting Trump PAC One former federal prosecutor speculates the withdrawn subpoena "may simply reflect a pragmatic decision to narrow the scope of the investigation" into Trump's 2021 coup attempt. via the Washington Post.
- Two Russian Sources for U.S. Intel 'Disappeared' After Trump Declassification Order In a witness statement to the British court hearing Trump's libel claim against the former MI6 spy, Christopher Steele also "suggested Trump's discovery of Steele's friendship with Trump's daughter Ivanka had damaged their father-daughter relationship, 'deepened his animus towards me, and is one of the reasons for his vindictive and vexatious conduct.'" via the Guardian.
- Failed Michigan Republican Gov. Candidate Gets 2 Months in Prison for Joining Jan. 6 Mob Ryan Kelley, 42, pleaded guilty and accused Trump of a "betrayal," telling a judge he was "misled into believing" the 2020 election had been stolen. via the Associated Press.
- Three Makes a Trend: Sweden Investigating Damage to Baltic Undersea Cable I'm telling all y'all it's sabotaaaaaaage! via BBC News.
- Justice Department Opens Investigation Into Trenton, New Jersey Police Meanwhile, it seems the cops in Minneapolis, Minnesota have been running a protection racket. via the New York Times and the Minnesota Reformer.
- Democratic Senators Demand Answers in World Bank Coverup of Sex Abuse at for-Profit School in Kenya Bridge International Academies, backed by big names in Silicon Valley, conspired to derail a World Bank watchdog's inquiry into a pattern of abuse at its schools. via the Intercept.
- Brazil Congressional Report Recommends Charges for Bolsonaro Over Jan. 8 'Day of Disgrace' A 1,333-page investigative report set to be voted on today recommends prosecutors charge the fascist former president with "a wilful and premeditated attempt to stage a coup d'état...and even, if necessary, a civil war." via the Guardian and the Associated Press.
That's how many species of bats, birds, fish and mussels the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted from the Endangered Species Act this week -- because they went extinct. Despite these losses, the Service says the 50-year-old law has "has been highly effective and credited with saving 99 percent of listed species from extinction."
ON THE SHOW TODAY
10/18: It's Hump Day! Sam speaks with Caroline Lucas, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (CKPU), to discuss the recent tentative agreement the union reached with management after a three day strike. Then, in a pre-recorded conversation, Sam spoke yesterday with Meron Rapoport, editor of Local Call and writer at +972 Magazine, to discuss his recent piece entitled
"The end of the Netanyahu doctrine."
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
"We just had a 6-year-old boy stabbed 26 times because of rhetoric like that."
"A school meal that meets all of these arbitrary standards does no good for children if it's in the trash."
-- Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee and the top recipient of political contributions by agribusiness, defending the inclusion of unhealthy processed Lunchables on school cafeteria menus to the Washington Post. Per the Post, Kraft Heinz sees the school lunch market as a $25 billion growth opportunity, and Sen. Boozman has taken the lead in fighting USDA plans to tighten school lunch nutrition requirements.
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