Israel Tries to Link UNRWA With Terrorism - The Tuesday AM Quickie 1/30/24

Shoutout to our colleagues at Penguin Random House who are stepping up their fight against book bans. -Jacob


1/30: It's News Day Tuesday! But first, Sam speaks with Diana Buttu, Palestinian analyst and former legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization, to discuss the International Court of Justice (ICJ)'s recent ruling in the case South Africa brought against Israel. 


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Today you'll read about Biden's need to bomb someone (anyone!), NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre's wild spending, and how the war on gas stoves ended before it started.

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Israel Pushes Claim That UNRWA Staff Are Terrorists

The Israeli government has provided news organizations with additional information that it claims proves that about 13 staff members of UNRWA, the organization that administers aid to most of the residents of Gaza, were Hamas supporters or actively involved in the October 7 attack. UNRWA has fired a few employees while the US and eight other donor countries have suspended contributions. "Any UN employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The evidence has been put together in the form of "a dossier provided to the United States government," according to the New York Times. It's believed to contain social media information and confessions drawn from interrogations – possibly involving torture – of Palestinian prisoners. Critics of Israeli policy immediately dismissed the claims as variously unreliable, part of an obvious attempt to influence media coverage (a number of news organizations produced almost identical accounts of the issue), or statistically insignificant, especially when considering the importance of UNRWA to daily Palestinian life. Since 1949, the refugee agency has been an essential source of food, medicine, education, and other assistance for millions of Palestinian refugees. About 0.1 percent of its staff is accused of being involved in the October 7 attacks. Israeli officials have long expressed a desire to do away with UNRWA entirely.

The United Nations promised to investigate the accusations but begged countries not to cut off donations in a time of crisis. "Many are hungry as the clock is ticking towards a looming famine," the UN said in a statement. "The lives of people in Gaza depend on [UNRWA's] support, and so does regional stability."

Biden Prepares To Bomb Someone Somewhere

President Joe Biden has vowed that the US would respond to a drone strike that killed three U.S. soldiers at a military outpost in Jordan over the weekend. The drone, which is believed to have been launched by an Iranian-sponsored militia, was apparently mistaken for a friendly one. About 40 U.S. soldiers were injured, some with traumatic brain injuries. The dead soldiers were Army reservists from an engineering brigade based in Fort Moore, Georgia.

The Biden administration is hamstrung by its own admission that neither it nor Iran wants a war with the other. "We are not seeking a conflict with the regime in the military way," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said, according to Reuters. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was a little hazier, saying that the American response "could be multi-leveled, come in stages and be sustained over time."

But there's still pressure to do something -- if not to attack sites in Tehran, as bloodthirsty Republicans have called for. Kirby told reporters that the U.S. was still trying to determine which militia actually controlled the drone. Once they figure that out, maybe everyone involved can sit down for an adult conversation.

NRA Chief Admits Using the Organization's Treasury as His Personal Slush Fund

Wayne LaPierre, the longtime head of the National Rifle Association, testified in court that he spent millions of dollars in NRA funds on Bergdorf Goodman candlesticks, family vacations, and private jet flights for his niece. The spending, which included $250,000 on suits at one store in Beverly Hills, violated the NRA's own policies. The NRA gave a seven-figure payout to a top official – for unspecified reasons – and let employees take helicopters to avoid traffic around a NASCAR race. One of LaPierre's assistants stole company money but kept his job.

Despite his admissions – and his stated intention to resign – LaPierre claimed that the government should be happy that the NRA improved in recent years on its wasteful, illegal conduct. "I honestly felt the attorney general should be enthusiastic about the work we had done, been patting us on the back for the work we had done," said LaPierre while being questioned by an NRA lawyer. He also claimed that he had paid back the NRA for some of the expenses – with interest.


  • IRS Contractor Gets 5 Years for Leaking Trump Taxes Charles Littlejohn, who leaked information to news organizations about the taxes of Donald Trump and other wealthy Americans, was sentenced to five years in prison. The leaked documents demonstrated how the country's richest people pay miniscule tax bills. via New York Times.
  • Biden Administration Declines to Wage War on Gas Stoves The Department of Energy released new energy efficiency standards that will not affect 97 percent of gas stoves on the market. You may remember last year's Republican-led freakout over a proposal to limit gas stoves, which have been linked to childhood asthma and other respiratory issues. via CNN.
  • Texas Attorney General Seeks Files On Trans Youth Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has requested medical files on trans youth from a Georgia clinic that provides gender-affirming care. The clinic's founder vowed not to turn over "HIPAA-protected patient information." via Washington Post.
  • Israel Has Destroyed 16 Cemeteries in Gaza Israel's war in Gaza has left a number of cemeteries in ruins. A CNN crew visited one cemetery that Israel claimed had been used to hide a Hamas command center, but the tunnel entrances shown to reporters were well outside the cemetery. via CNN.


$81 billion

That's how much money American military contractors made selling weapons to foreign governments in 2023. According to Politico, that amount represented "a more than 50 percent increase from 2022, with huge deals spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine leading the way." Of course, the devastating wars in Ukraine and Gaza have not provoked reflection about the United States' role in fueling conflicts and profiting off of human misery. They're simply occasions to do business. Or, as the Beltway chroniclers at Politico put it, the Ukraine war and sanctions on Russia now present "a major opportunity for U.S. and Western defense firms to eat into Moscow’s share of the market." Fight on.


GOP In Disarray Over Biden’s Immigration Deal

Republicans seem divided over a bipartisan immigration deal that probably won't happen. It's also a bad deal.

Nancy Pelosi Is Out of Her Mind

Russia! Russia! Russia!


“The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well. Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.”

-- A post on X from Elon Musk announcing the first human trial for his brain implant startup. In September, the FDA granted Neuralink permission to conduct human trials, despite Musk's long record of buffoonery, quality control issues at Tesla, reports of more than 1,500 animals dying under horrific conditions at Neuralink, and the sheer madness of letting this guy put a chip in someone's brain. Musk has promised that Neuralink will allow people to overcome physical disabilities and control computers with their minds.

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