March 19, 2024


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ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR | Updates from day 165 of the conflict:

  • Amidst ongoing concern about the possible humanitarian impacts of a potential Israeli military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Israel yesterday agreed to send a team of officials to the U.S. to discuss such a prospective operation with Biden administration officials, according to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. [more]
  • Following the release of a U.N.-backed report yesterday that warned of imminent famine in Gaza, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said today that Israel's restrictions on humanitarian aid for Gaza may amount to a starvation tactic that could be a war crime. [more]

UKRAINE | Today is day 754 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are your updates:

  • Ahead of a summit of European Union leaders later this week, E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he intends to propose that the E.U. use 90% of revenues from Russian assets frozen in Europe to buy arms for Ukraine via the European Peace Facility fund. [more]
  • The Russian Defense Ministry claimed today that its forces had captured the village of Orlivka in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, while Ukrainian military officials said its forces repelled nine Russian army attacks from the area around the village. [more]

TEXAS | The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday extended its block of a Texas law that would give the state broad police powers to arrest migrants suspected of entering the U.S. illegally. The Court order, signed by Justice Samuel Alito, prevents Texas from enforcing the law indefinitely while related legal cases play out. [more]

U.S. ASBESTOS BAN | The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new final rule yesterday that imposes a comprehensive ban on asbestos, which has been found to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers. The new rule expands on a 2016 partial ban by including chrysotile asbestos, which is the only ongoing use of asbestos in the United States. [more]

U.S. GUN RIGHTS | A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that barring defendants out on bail from possessing firearms while they are awaiting trial is constitutional, saying that such disarmament is consistent with a tradition of subjecting criminal defendants to temporary restrictions on their liberty to protect the public's safety. [more]

TRUMP FRAUD TRIAL | According to attorneys for Donald Trump, the former president is unable to post the $454 million bond he was ordered to pay as he appeals his New York civil fraud judgement. [more]

FORCED LABOR | According to a new report from the U.N.’s International Labor Organization, forced labor in the private economy generates $236 billion in illegal profits per year worldwide. The report notes that forced commercial sexual exploitation accounts for more than two-thirds of the total illegal profits, despite accounting for only 27% of the total number of victims in privately imposed labor. [press release] [full report] [more]

SPACE NUCLEAR BAN | Reports say the U.S. and Japan are co-sponsoring a new U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for all nations to commit to not deploying or developing nuclear weapons in space. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said yesterday that the resolution would be a way to increase confidence in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which, among other things, limits the use of the Moon and all other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes. [more]

JAPANESE ECONOMY | The Bank of Japan raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in 17 years yesterday, ending a long-term negative-rate policy aimed at boosting the Japanese economy. [more]

HONG KONG | With a unanimous vote today, Hong Kong's Legislative Council passed the territory’s new national security bill that updates or creates new laws and penalties to prohibit treason, sabotage, sedition, theft of state secrets, and espionage. Measures included in the Article 23 bill, which has been criticized by opponents as threatening to the freedoms of expression and public dissent, are scheduled to take effect March 23. [more]

GLOBAL AIR QUALITY | According to a new report from Swiss air quality technology company IQAir, only seven countries – Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, and New Zealand – out of 134 countries and regions studied succeeded in achieving the World Health Organization’s annual particulate matter air pollution standards in 2023. Countries with the worst levels of particulate matter in 2023, according to the report, were Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, and Burkina Faso. [more]

COUNTRY MUSIC | The Country Music Association has announced its 2024 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame: James Burton, a guitarist who was Elvis Presley’s band leader; late country artist Toby Keith; and singer/songwriter John Anderson. [more]

HOCKEY | With two goals in last night’s 5-2 Washington Capitals’ win over the Calgary Flames, Alex Ovechkin became the third player in NHL history to score at least 20 goals in 19 consecutive seasons. [more]

R.I.P. | Former astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force three-star general Thomas P. Stafford died yesterday at the age of 93. Stafford was one of only 24 NASA astronauts to fly to the moon and commanded multiple space missions, including the first U.S.-Soviet joint space docking mission. [more]

TODAY IN HISTORY | On this date in 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Standard Time Act, which established Daylight Saving Time in the United States. The legislation also gave the federal government oversight of the country's time zones. [more history]

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