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Israel Launches ‘Wide-Scale Attack’ Against Hamas

The Israeli Air Force recently launched a wide-scale attack against Hamas military targets in Gaza on Friday, July 20th. This information comes from a statement issued by the Israeli military. The Israeli Defense Forces stated that the attack was in response to a shooting carried out against its soldiers earlier in the day. Palestinian protesters had gathered along the fence that separates Israel and Gaza, resulting in the death of four protestors by Israeli forces.

The fence between Israel and Gaza has seen rising tensions in recent months, frequently erupting into violence. Similarly, Israel has seen a dramatic increase in arson attacks from balloons and kites launched from Gaza. Israel has claimed that Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, is orchestrating the protests and violence. As a result, Israel has significantly tightened restrictions on the flow of goods to this part of the country.

Israeli army snipers and other troops have killed around 140 Palestinians since the wall protests began in March of 2018. Thousands of others have been injured. The protestors have stated their intent to continue until Israel halts its twelve-year siege of Gaza. Israel says that fires started by the protestors have destroyed large areas of farmland and crops.

Gaza has suffered greatly in recent years. Electricity is sparse, and access to water, medicine, and jobs continues to dwindle dangerously. Some experts believe that Israel’s decision to end their occupation of Gaza has a lot to do with ending rivalries between Palestinians political factions—specifically Haas and Fatah. Israel began its air, land, and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007 when Hamas took control of the territory.

This recent attack by Israeli forces comes in direct response to the killing of an Israeli guard by Palestinian sniper. The military said a “terrorist squad” fired at troops and that one soldier was severely injured and later died of his wounds. After this initial fire, Israel’s military said it struck 15 Hamas positions, including weapons warehouses, command and control centers, and training facilities.

Sources: Al Jazeera; CNN

Toronto Shooting Leaves 2 Dead and 13 Hurt

A mass shooting in Toronto has left two dead and thirteen injured. A 9-year-old girl was left in critical condition, and at least thirteen people were struck by bullets Sunday night when a man fired shots at groups of people in the city’s Greektown neighborhood.

The gunman, identified only as a 29-year-old, opened fire on Danforth Avenue, shooting between 15 and 20 rounds during the spree. At least nine were hospitalized. The gunman was found dead in a nearby alley after exchanging gunfire with police, but it is unclear if he killed himself or died as a result of the exchange. Terrorism is not being ruled out as a motive. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said the authorities were investigating every possible motive. Investigators in the city’s forensic, homicide, guns and gangs, and victim service units have remained on the scene in addition to the Toronto Police canine unit.

Authorities received a call shortly after 10PM on Sunday, July 22nd, about the incident in Toronto’s Greektown neighborhood. The area is a lively residential neighborhood with crowded restaurants and cafes. Witnesses reported hearing shots and described the suspect walking past restaurants, cafes, and patios on both sides of the street, firing into them. Mayor John Tory said the attack is “evidence of a gun problem” in Toronto, and that “Guns are too readily available to too many people.” A Toronto Councilor said the shooting was “not gang related.” He continued, saying, “It looks like someone who is very disturbed.”

All surviving victims are in serious and critical condition. A 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman were pronounced dead on the scene, but their identities have yet to be released. Over the past weekend, Toronto police deployed dozens of additional officers to deal with a recent spike in gun violence in the city. This shooting comes a few months after the driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 14.

Original Source(s): New York Post; Fox News; Toronto Star

FBI Receives Recording of Donald Trump from Former Attorney Michael Cohen

According to several news outlets, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney, recorded a conversation he had with the President two months before the 2016 presidential election. In this conversation, then men discussed the possibility of paying Karen McDougal, also known as Stormy Daniels. That recording is now in the hands of the FBI.

In this recording, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and Mr. Cohen discussed the possibility of purchasing the rights to McDougal’s story. Karen McDougal and Donald Trump had previously engaged in an extramarital affair, but she sold her story to the National Enquirer in exchange for $150,000. The recording allegedly includes President Trump’s considering of purchasing the story from the National Enquirer. Some analysts are speculating that this was a way for Donald Trump to pay the company back for what they paid McDougal—this suggests that then-candidate Trump may have been behind the initial sale.

The tape has yet to be released to the public, but news outlets across the ideological spectrum are beginning to speculate on its implications. Federal authorities are also trying to understand the role the National Enquirer played in the alleged coverup.

The recording obtained by federal authorities was less than two minutes long, and it cut off while the conversation was ongoing. President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed the existence of the recording to the Times, but downplayed its importance by commenting about its length and the lack of action that followed. The recordings were among the personal effects of Mr. Cohen seized in an April raid by federal agents. Other seized items included his computer, his phone, and several records. Sources: The Washington Post; The Washington Examiner, New York Times

President Trump Tweets at Iran: “BE CAUTIOUS”

Early on Sunday, July 22nd, Iranian President Rouhani cautioned President Trump about pursuing hostile policies, saying “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” President Trump responded with a tweet, reading [sic]: “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

This exchange comes in the wake of a Trump administration campaign designed to discredit Iran’s leaders. Several sources told reporters at Reuters that Trump would pressure Iran’s leaders through tough sanctions and an information campaign meant to erode their support. A recent statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicates that this shift is already beginning to take place. In a speech earlier on Sunday evening, Pompeo likened the Iranian regime to the mafia, accusing the clerics that rules the country of enriching themselves and funding terrorism. He said, “To the regime, prosperity, security, and freedom for the Iranian people are acceptable casualties in the march to fulfill the Revolution.”

On Monday, a senior officer in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Commander General Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar, described Trump’s remarks as “psychological warfare.” Trump’s response to President Rouhani has been likened to the tone and approach taken with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; prior to agreeing to a summit, President Trump taunted and threatened the leader on social media.

When asked if President Trump risked inciting a war with Iran with his tweet, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Monday morning, “if anybody is inciting anything, look no further than to Iran.” However, Sanders declined to say if Trump had consulted with his national security team before sending the Tweet.

Original Source(s): CNN; Business Insider; Huffington Post

Know Your News Source: The Baffler

The Baffler, founded in 1988 by Thomas Frank and Keith White, is a cultural, political, and analytical magazine. Per their website, The Baffler is, “America’s leading voice of interesting and unexpected left-wing political criticism, cultural analysis, short stories, poems, and art.” They publish four print issues each year, but they also produce daily online content. Print issues are available in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The Baffler’s first motto was: “the journal that blunts the cutting edge.” This is illustrative of the publication and tone; the journal is known for its hard-hitting critiques of business culture and neoliberalism, exposing the inner workings of various industries. One of The Baffler’s most famous articles, “The Problem with Music,” written by producer Steve Albini, sought to expose the hypocrisy within the music industry during the heyday of indie, garage, and punk rock.

Though The Baffler relies heavily on social and political analysis and critique, their weekly online stories cover current and breaking news events. Their regular subjects include: “Silicon Valley snake-oil, the deadening weight of consumer capitalism, our faithless media, and the redemptive promise of people claiming control of their own lives.” The journal is, as noted above, heavily left-leaning in its coverage and analysis.

For those who like to listen to their news and cultural commentary, The Baffler has an answer. They produce two podcasts: “Whale Vomit,” by Amber A’Lee Frost and Sam Kriss, and “News From Nowhere” by Corey Pein. The magazine also organizes literary events and debates with current and former contributing editors.

Donald Trump Congratulates Putin on Election Victory

On March 18th, 2018, incumbent Vladimir Putin won his reelection campaign as the President of Russia. He won with 77% of the popular vote, beating out Pavel Grudinin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Ksenia Sobchak, Grigory Yavlinsky, and Boris Titov. Events, deaths, and arrests leading up to the election have provoked suspicion that this election was not entirely democratic. China was, reportedly, the first country to react to the election news, sending its congratulations to Putin. This message was followed by similar congratulatory phone calls from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Cuba, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and—finally—the United States.

News sources report that both President Trump and select aids were “furious” after the leak of sensitive notes for briefing the president before a call with Vladimir Putin. The leak was designed to embarrass Trump for congratulating, rather than confronting, Putin—he went against the note’s recommendation. Public knowledge of this story means that someone leaked the president’s briefing papers, and offense which is, according to a White House official, “likely illegal.”

According to a fact-checking resource, former U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Putin on his 2012 win. According to an official summary, “President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate hi on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election.” International observers raised doubts about the legitimacy of Putin’s 2012 win; Obama’s State Department noted concerns about the conditions under which the campaign was conducted. Previously, in 2008, President George W. Bush called Dmitry Medvedev following his successful presidential bid.

Commentators are pushing back on the notion that Trump’s outreach is akin to that of his predecessors, noting Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. The countries are experiencing strained diplomatic relations, and the recent nerve gas attack in the United Kingdom (allegedly by Russian operatives) has put further pressure on the already weakened ties.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PolitiFact

Austin Bomber Identified

On the early morning of Wednesday, March 21st, Mark Anthony Conditt—the primary suspect in the wave of bombings terrorizing Austin, Texas—killed himself. Police at the scene described his death as occurring from an explosion inside Conditt’s car, mildly injuring at least one officer. This bomb was detonated just before dawn on the side of Interstate 35 in Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin.

Police believe that Mark Anthony Conditt was responsible for five explosions, killing two people and injuring another five in and around Austin, Texas beginning on March 2nd. Austin police and the FBI tracked Conditt to a hotel parking lot in Round Rock; they found him inside his vehicle, but wanted to wait for tactical units to arrive before engaging the suspect. Conditt began to drive away, eventually stopping on the side of Interstate 35. As Austin SWAT officers approached, he detonated a bomb within the care, killing himself and knocking one officer backward.

Shortly after this explosion, a SWAT officer fired at the suspect, who died inside the vehicle. Currently, it is unclear whether the suspect died from explosion or gunfire; Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that the suspect sustained “significant” injuries in the blast. Conditt was identified using receipts, internet searches, witness sketches, and surveillance video of an area FedEx store.

Though Conditt’s death may assuage the fears of many Austin residents, there is no information regarding how the suspect spent his last 24 hours. Police do not yet understand the suspect’s motivations for the bombings, though an investigation is still underway. Additional bombs may exist throughout the Austin metropolitan area, and it is advised that all residents remain on high-alert. If you see a suspicious package, please contact the authorities.

Sources: CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post

Know Your News Source: The New Republic

Founded in 1914, The New Republic was created as a progressive opinion journal. They promote novel solutions for modern critical issues, providing breaking news coverage, opinion pieces, and facilitating news-related and political debates. The New Republic, since the publication’s outset, has attempted to achieve a balance between humanitarian progressivism and intellectual scientism; the magazine has undergone several political shifts, ultimately landing on a left-leaning liberal voice.

Within America, The New Republic takes a largely modern liberal stance on both fiscal and social issues. According to Franklin Foer, a former editor, the publication invented the modern usage of the term, “liberal,” and one of the magazine’s greatest contributions is the facilitating of an ongoing conversation of what it means to be liberal. In recent decades, the magazine has covered a range of important social and political developments—everything from the Earned Income Tax Credit program to universal health care. Editors and writers have, historically, fought verbally against ideas such as supply-side economics and neoliberalism.

The New Republic, however, does not only cover issues traditionally viewed as liberal. Editors of the publication understand the need for ongoing dialogue, believing strongly in the power of dialectic inquiry. To that end, the magazine staffs several conservative writers in an attempt to localize political debate and social conversation.

The New Republic utilizes ambitious journalism, trenchant argument, and innovative storytelling to inspire the next generation of decision makers through conversations in print and online. Notable contributors have existed throughout the publication’s existence. They include: W.E.B. Du Bois, Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Philip Roth, Camille Paglia, Hanna Rosin, James Wood, and Joseph Stiglitz, among others.