December 19, 2023


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ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR | Updates from day 74 of the conflict:

  • Negotiations are reportedly continuing this morning on an Arab-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza to allow humanitarian aid efforts to proceed unhindered. A Council vote on the resolution is expected later today. [more]
  • Reports say at least 28 Palestinians were killed in the southern Gaza city of Rafah today in intensified operations by Israeli military forces in the area. [more]

UKRAINE | Today is day 663 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are your updates:

  • U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk said today that monitoring of the war in Ukraine has indicated “gross violations of international human rights law, serious violations of international humanitarian law, and war crimes, primarily by the forces of the Russian Federation.” Among the violations of human rights cited by Turk were 142 cases of summary execution of civilians, enforced disappearances, and torture and ill treatment of detainees. [more]
  • The Russian Defense Ministry says its air defense systems destroyed or intercepted 35 Ukraine-launched drones over its Lipetsk, Volgograd, and Rostov regions in Russia earlier this week. The Ministry did not provide details on any damage caused in the attacks, but reports say at least one bomber at the Morozovsk airfield in the Rostov region was damaged in the action. [more]

U.S. WEATHER | Reports say at least four deaths were caused by the powerful storm that affected much of the U.S. East Coast over recent days, and that as many as 620,000 homes and businesses in the Northeast remain without power this morning due to the storm. [more]

TEXAS | Governor Greg Abbott yesterday approved new measures that give police in Texas authority to arrest migrants who illegally cross the U.S. border and authorize local judges to order illegal migrants to leave the country. Reports say the immigration enforcement measures – normally a federal responsibility – are likely to face legal challenges. [more]

VIRGINIA | A federal judge ordered a halt yesterday to the planned removal of a Confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery. The temporary restraining order was issued following allegations by a group called Defense Arlington that removal of the monument, which was authorized by Congress and being carried out by the U.S. Army, would threaten adjacent gravesites. [more]

U.S. EDUCATION | The Associated Press reports that, according to an analysis of U.S. educational and Census data, an estimated 50,000 students remain missing from any kind of U.S. school since the Covid-19 pandemic – down from a fall 2021 analysis, which found more than 230,000 unaccounted-for students. The AP further notes that homeschooling increased by more than 25% during the pandemic period of 2019 to 2022. [more]

U.S. AND DENMARK | Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced today that a new 10-year defense agreement between Denmark and the United States will allow U.S. soldiers and military equipment to be based on Danish soil. The agreement follows similar arrangements made by the U.S. with Finland and Sweden earlier this month. [more]

LGBTQ+ AND RELIGION | Pope Francis yesterday announced that Roman Catholic priests will now be able to bless same-sex couples. The new policy represents a clear shift in Catholic Church policy, but leaves the final decision on whether to perform such blessings to individual priests. [more]

RED SEA | U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin yesterday announced the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian – a multinational maritime security operation aimed at protecting shipping in the Red Sea. The operation, which will involve the U.S., U.K., Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain, follows numerous attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels on commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea. [more]

CHINA | Chinese state media reports that at least 118 people were killed, and more than 500 others were injured, last night when a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck near the boundary between the northwestern Gansu and Qinghai provinces. Authorities say the earthquake also caused severe damage to houses and roads and cut off power and communication lines to some areas. [more]

ICELAND | Following weeks of increased seismic activity and local evacuations, the volcano on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula erupted last night, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Officials note that the eruption is not expected to impact populated areas or critical infrastructure, but that it is releasing high levels of toxic gases. [more]

GUINEA | Officials in the West African nation of Guinea say at least 13 people were killed, and another 178 injured, yesterday in an explosion and fire at the Guinean Petroleum Company fuel depot in the capital Conakry. [more]

INDIA | Authorities say hundreds of people remain stranded in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state due to heavy rain and flooding over the past two days. Reports say at least five people have died in floods and accidents related to the rain, and that road and train travel in the area has been severely affected. [more]

GOOGLE | According to an antitrust settlement filed in a San Francisco federal court yesterday, Google has agreed to pay $700 million to consumers and states to settle allegations of anticompetitive practices on its Android app store. Reports note that the settlement deal was reached in September and that it comes a week after a federal jury found Google to have employed anticompetitive tactics on its Google Play Store. [more]

APPLE | Reports say tech giant Apple plans to suspend U.S. sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watch models later this week due to an October decision by the International Trade Commission that found the products’ blood oxygen measurement feature infringed on an international patent held by medical technology company Masimo. [more]

SOCIAL MEDIA | The NetChoice trade group, which represents major social media companies, including the owners of Facebook, Instagram, X, TikTok, and Snapchat, sued the U.S. state of Utah yesterday, seeking to block state laws that prohibit minors from using social media between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. unless authorized by a parent and require age verification to open a social media account. The laws are scheduled to take effect on March 1, 2024. [more]

TODAY IN HISTORY | On this date in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the Outer Space Treaty, an international treaty binding the parties to use outer space only for peaceful purposes. The treaty was adopted the following January, and went into effect in October 1967.   [more history]

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