In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War; death—covering next four paragraphs] In news from Israel and Gaza: "Israel's military incursion in the Gaza Strip showed no signs of abating on Wednesday, with a slew of fresh military strikes killing at least 14 people in an open-ended operation that is said to be in response to Palestinian rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled territory. Since the airstrikes began Tuesday, the Israeli army says it has attacked more than 400 sites in Operation Protective Edge. At least 41 Palestinians have been killed since the strikes began. During Israel's operation, more than 225 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza, some reaching as far as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which caused several minor injuries. ...Israel's military operation is likely to continue in the coming days, as its leadership aims to deal a major blow to Hamas. 'The operation against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very high,' said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon."

Meanwhile, "hospitals in Gaza are struggling to cope, according to a senior aid worker in Gaza City. Fikr Shalltoot, director of programmes for Medical Aid for Palestinians...says hospitals have less than a week's worth of fuel and that a further escalation of attacks will completely overwhelm Gaza's already fragile health system. Hospitals were facing an acute shortage of supplies before the air strikes, Shalltoot said."

Israel asserts to be making targeted strikes, but, as we've seen over and over in US wars, where the US government has been making exactly the same claims, targeted strikes effectively means nothing. There are always civilian casualties, and at least eight of the dead in Gaza are children, and people as old as 83 have been killed. Again, this is what I mean when I talk about the need to be honest about the costs of war. "Targeted strikes" is dangerously sterile language. Hamas' military wing, on the other hand, does not make such a claim, instead openly admitting they target civilians. Which is, of course, just terrible in a different way.

I know it's trite as shit to say that people without any meaningful control over political decision-making always suffer the most during wars, but people without any meaningful control over political decision-making always suffer the most during wars.

[Please note: We have always managed to have thoughtful and civil threads in this space on previous skirmishes between Israel and Hamas, and I trust that can happen again. If the thread gets ugly, it will just be closed. Please comment thoughtfully—and bear in mind that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are monolithic groups; among Israelis are people who agree with the Netanyahu administration's actions and people who condemn those actions; among Palestinians are people who agree with Hamas' leadership's actions and people who condemn those actions. There is not consensus among diaspora populations, either.]

[CN: War; death] In Afghanistan, civilian casualties are increasing: "Afghanistan's war is getting deadlier for its civilians with the toll from crossfire and ground battles rising sharply, the United Nations has said in a report. The number killed or injured in the first six months of the year rose by a quarter from 2013 levels to nearly 5,000 people, the bloodiest total since the UN began keeping records in 2009. Women and children are particularly badly affected." Which is a particularly bitter irony, given that US intervention in Afghanistan was routinely justified by the Bush administration as bringing freedom to women. Never mind whether those women wanted our "freedom."

[CN: Extreme weather; death] Typhoon Neoguri continues to batter Japan, "leaving two dead and threatening widespread flooding as the storm headed for the nation's main islands."

In good news: "Starting in September, all students in the Chicago Public Schools system, regardless of income, will be given free school meals, WBEZ reports." YES!

Secretary of State John Kerry says: "We are convinced that the United States and China do not have to be rivals, but can be partners and find things to cooperate on that are important to the security of the region."

[CN: Homophobia; Christian Supremacy] LGBT Groups Pull Support for ENDA in Wake of Hobby Lobby Ruling: "After the the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force dropped its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act over concerns the Hobby Lobby decision opened a door to abuse of the bill's religious exemption on Tuesday, additional equality groups followed suit. The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Tuesday that it would pull its support as it is currently written, along with the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center. The groups cite concerns over the broad religious exemption included in the bill passed by the Senate in November. They worry that it could be used for companies to continue to discriminate against LGBT people due to religious beliefs, especially considering the exemption the Supreme Court allowed in its Hobby Lobby decision."

Former Democratic Indiana Governor Evan Bayh is mulling over running again for his old office. No thanks!

George R. R. Martin has a message for the people who publicly hand-wring about his age and health (which is a codeword for his weight) and fear that he will never finish the Song of Fire and Ice series: "I find that question pretty offensive. So fuck you to those people." Right on.

Zooey Deschanel is tired of being asked if she's going to be a mom and general reproductive choice policing: "Like every woman is dying to give birth! I don't think so. Nobody asks guys that. And you go into a supermarket and every tabloid is like, 'Pregnant and Alone!' Stuck in the 1950s ideal of how a woman should live her life. This brings out the fiery feminist in me." Right on.

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