March 20, 2024


Listen to this issue.

ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR | Updates from day 166 of the conflict:

  • Israeli military operations continue for a second straight day today around the Shifa hospital – Gaza’s largest medical facility. Reports say as many as 50 people have been killed at the hospital and in surrounding neighborhoods over the past two days, with Israeli authorities claiming the vast majority of casualties were Hamas militants and Palestinian officials saying those killed were mostly civilians. [more]
  • U.N. Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said in an interview today that he is hopeful current talks between Israel and Hamas delegates in Qatar will result in an agreement that includes the release of hostages in Gaza and a pause in Israeli military operations in the Palestinian enclave. [more]

UKRAINE | Today is day 755 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are your updates:

  • Vyacheslev Gladkov, governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, said yesterday that about 9,000 children in his region will be moved away from Russia’s border with Ukraine due to ongoing Ukrainian military strikes on Russian territory. [more]
  • In a continuation of international sport sanctions related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee ruled yesterday that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be allowed to take part in the Paris Olympics’ opening ceremonies. Athletes from the two countries will still be allowed to take part in the Games as neutrals as long as they have never publicly supported the invasion of Ukraine or been affiliated with military or state security agencies. [more]

GLOBAL HAPPINESS | In the World Happiness Report 2024 – a collaboration between Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, and the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Finland is ranked as the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Israel. The U.S. came in at No. 23, while the U.K and Germany were ranked 20th and 24th, respectively. [press release] [full report] [more]

TEXAS | The power of Texas law enforcement agencies to arrest migrants suspected of entering the state illegally is, again, on hold today after a state law allowing such arrests was briefly allowed to take effect yesterday. In an overnight ruling, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a new temporary hold on the Texas law ahead of oral arguments scheduled for today. [more]

U.S. PHILANTHROPY | Billionaire philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott – the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – announced $640 million in donations to 361 non-profit organizations yesterday. Reports note that, in total, Scott has given away some $16.5 billion of her fortune to nonprofit organizations and initiatives. [more]

U.S. GOVERNMENT FUNDING | The Biden administration and congressional leaders yesterday announced an agreement on measures to finalize funding of federal agencies for the fiscal year. Both chambers of Congress are expected to expedite related bills this week in order to avoid a partial government shutdown ahead of a Friday deadline. [more]

MISSISSIPPI | Two former Mississippi law enforcement officers – Hunter Elward, 31, and Jeffrey Middleton, 46 – were sentenced to 20 and 17.5 years in prison, respectively, yesterday after being convicted of torturing two Black men last year in a race-related attack. Four other former law enforcement officers who took part in the actions, which  U.S. District Judge Tom Lee called “egregious and despicable,” are scheduled to be sentenced later in the week. [more]

U.S. CHIP PRODUCTION | Following news of receiving $19.5 billion in CHIPS Act federal grants and loans early today, Intel has announced plans to spend some $100 billion to build and expand its domestic semiconductor chip manufacturing operations in four U.S. states: Ohio, New Mexico, Oregon, and Arizona. [more]

U.S. AND RUSSIA | Following reports of U.S. government efforts to use commercial satellite operators such as SpaceX for intelligence gathering, Russia said today that it has been aware of such plans and that such use of commercial satellite systems make them a “legitimate target for retaliatory measures, including military ones.” [more]

GLOBAL CLIMATE | In its new State of the Global Climate 2023 report, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization confirms that 2023 was the warmest year on record and that new records were set during the year for greenhouse gas levels, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, Antarctic sea ice loss, and glacier retreat. [press release] [full report] [more]

PAKISTAN | Citing Pakistan’s economic and financial improvements, the International Monetary Fund announced a preliminary agreement yesterday to release $1.1 billion of a $3 billion bailout package approved last year to prevent the country from defaulting on its debt repayments. [more]

TAIWAN | Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said today that China has built large military bases on three islands surrounding the Itu Aba islet in the South China Sea, which is Taiwan’s main holding in the contested region. [more]

U.K. ECONOMY | The U.K. Office for National Statistics said yesterday that consumer inflation in Britain fell to 3.4% in February – down from 4% in January and the lowest level since September 2021. Analysts say the inflation decline could raise expectations of an interest rate cut by the Bank of England. [more]

VIETNAM | Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party announced today that it has accepted the resignation of President Vo Van Thuong. The government, while not providing specifics, said Thuong’s violation of unspecified party rules had “negatively impacted public opinion, affecting the reputation of the Party, State, and him personally.” [more]

NEW ZEALAND | As part of ongoing efforts to reduce smoking levels, New Zealand said today that it will ban disposable e-cigarettes, or vapes, and raise financial penalties for those who sell such products to minors. Under new regulations, retailers who sell the products to those under 18 years of age will face fines of up to 100,000 New Zealand dollars (US$60,000). [more]

BRAZIL | In a federal indictment unveiled yesterday, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was accused of conspiring to insert false information into a public health database to make it appear as though he, his daughter, and several others had been vaccinated against COVID-19. A decision on filing related formal charges against Bolsonaro has not yet been announced by Brazil’s prosecutor-general’s office. [more]

TODAY IN HISTORY | On this date in 1815, the Hundred Days—during which Napoleon, having ended his exile by escaping the island of Elba, would try to recapture his empire in France—began with Napoleon's arrival in Paris. [more history]

Support independent information for independent minds.

Sign up for a free or supporting membership to further our mission.