December 18, 2023


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ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR | Updates from day 73 of the conflict:

  • According to the Israeli military, three hostages held by Hamas since the October 7 attacks on Israel were mistakenly killed Friday by Israeli forces in a combat zone in Gaza City. Officials say the three hostages signaled that they were trying to surrender, and that the incident was a violation of the Israeli military’s rules of engagement. [more]
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to urge Israel to shift to a new, less combat-intense, phase of its operations in Gaza when he meets with Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv today. [more]
  • Reports say the U.N. Security Council could vote as early as today on a resolution demanding that Israel and Hamas allow humanitarian aid access to Gaza and setting up a U.N. monitoring mission to oversee the delivery and distribution of aid. [more]

UKRAINE | Today is day 662 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are your updates:

  • U.S. Senate and White House negotiators failed to reach a funding deal over the weekend, putting a potential deal on military aid for Ukraine by the end of the year further out of reach. The funding deal has faced strong opposition from Republican lawmakers who are insisting on border security funding and changes in return for approving aid to both Ukraine and Israel. [more]
  • In a Reuters interview, Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who has led recent counteroffensives against Russian forces, says recent shortfalls in foreign assistance have led to a shortage of artillery ammunition and caused the scaling back of some military operations. [more]

U.S. WEATHER | More than 50 million residents of the central Atlantic and northeastern United States are under flash flood warnings this morning due to heavy rains from a slow-moving storm that affected southeastern states over the weekend. [more]

U.S. MEDICAL MARIJUANA | The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly warned pharmacies in Georgia late last month that they cannot legally dispense physician-prescribed marijuana products despite being allowed to do so under state law. [more]

GIULIANI | A federal jury on Friday awarded $148 million to two former Georgia election workers in a defamation case against former New York City mayor and Donald Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, who had accused the two workers of fraud in the counting of votes in the 2020 presidential election. [more]

U.S. FLOODING AND MIGRATION | According to a new study in the journal Nature Communications, increased risks of flooding and related losses have played a role in decisions by more than 7 million people in the U.S. to move to less-flood-prone areas since 2000. [full study] [more]

U.S. HOMELESSNESS | According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s latest point-in-time estimate, which includes data from January 2023, homelessness in the U.S. rose by 12% from the year-ago period, with some 650,000 people experiencing homelessness. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge says the data underscores the urgent need to support solutions for people to exit homelessness and to prevent it in the first place. [HUD press release] [full report] [more]

GLOBAL SHIPPING | Joining similar recent announcements by major global shipping companies, BP said today it will pause all shipments through the Red Sea due to increased attacks on vessels by Houthi militants in Yemen. The BP and shipping company announcements have raised concerns about possible global supply chain disruptions and price increases. [more]

IRAN | Iranian state media cites government officials as saying that nearly 70% of Iran’s more than 33,000 gas stations are out of service this morning following a suspected cyberattack. The Israel-linked “Gonjeshke Darande,” or “Predatory Sparrow,” hacking group has reportedly claimed responsibility for the cyberattack. [more]

SERBIA | Preliminary results from Serbia’s weekend parliamentary elections suggest that President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party is poised to win an outright majority in the Balkan country’s parliament. Opposition party Serbia Against Violence has called for a re-vote in the capital Belgrade, citing multiple reports of voting irregularities. [more]

NORTH KOREA | In its first intercontinental ballistic missile test in five months, North Korea test launched a suspected solid-fuel missile this morning, according to South Korean military officials. The missile, thought to be an experimental Hwasong-18 ICBM, flew approximately 620 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan. [more]

CHINA AND TAIWAN | Taiwanese officials say two suspected Chinese spy balloons were detected northwest of Taiwan yesterday. Analysts say the balloon incident, the second this month, may well be part of a Chinese pressure campaign on the island territory, which China claims as its own, ahead of elections scheduled for January 13. [more]

RUSSIAN ELECTIONS | President Vladimir Putin was formally nominated to run in Russia’s 2024 presidential election as an independent yesterday by the ruling United Russia party. Reports also say opposition politician Yekaterina Duntsova, who backs an end to the war in Ukraine, completed preliminary steps this weekend to register as a candidate for the election. [more]

SPAIN | Reports say at least 18 international schools in multiple regions of Spain received bomb threats via e-mail in recent days. The Spanish Interior Ministry says the e-mails were a hoax and that no evidence of bombs at the schools was found. [more]

AIRLINE INDUSTRY | Southwest Airlines has reportedly reached a $140 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Transportation related to the airline’s major service disruption in December 2022 that canceled thousands of flights and stranded more than 2 million travelers during the busy holiday travel season. [more]

SOCIAL MEDIA | The European Union today announced its first investigation under the bloc’s Digital Services Act, which went into force last year and requires very large online platforms to take steps to fight illegal content, limit risks to public security, and protect their services from manipulative techniques. The new investigation involves allegations of social media company X, formerly known as Twitter, violating the Digital Services Act. [more]

WEEKEND MOVIES | "Wonka" topped the North American box office over the weekend with an estimated $39 million in receipts, followed by "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" and "The Boy and the Heron." [more]

SOCCER | The round-of-16 UEFA Champions League matchups, scheduled for February 13-14, were drawn earlier this morning, with Copenhagen being chosen to play defending champion Manchester City. [full matchup list] [more]

TODAY IN HISTORY | On this date in 1865, by proclamation of the U.S. Secretary of State, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, outlawing slavery, officially entered into force, having been ratified by the requisite number of states on December 6. [more history]

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