Friday, December 1, 2023

12/1 WAKE-UP CALL: After 7 days, Combat Resumes

Heavy fighting was reported in Gaza on Friday as Israel's military resumed combat operations against Hamas after accusing the Palestinian militant group of violating a temporary truce by firing towards Israeli territory. The seven-day pause, which began on Nov. 24 and was extended twice, had allowed for the exchange of dozens of hostages held in Gaza for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and facilitated the entry of humanitarian aid into the shattered coastal strip.

In the hour before the truce was set to end at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), Israel said it intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza. There was no immediate comment from Hamas or claim of responsibility for the launches. Palestinian media reported Israeli air and artillery strikes across the enclave after the truce expired, including in Rafah, near the border with Egypt.

In Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, a Reuters witness said he could hear heavy shelling and see smoke rising in the east of the town. People were fleeing the area to camps in the west of Khan Younis for cover, he added. The resumption of fighting came with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about to depart Israel. Blinken said on Thursday he told Israeli leaders they must not repeat the scale of destruction and displacement inflicted on the northern Gaza Strip as they prepare a military push farther south to eradicate Hamas. That reflects a shift in tone by the Biden administration toward increasingly stern messages that Israel must comply with international humanitarian law.

➤BIDEN FACES CRITICS IN HIS OWN ADMIN: Joe Biden is facing a wave of internal criticism, NBC reported, with officials in the State Department, USAID and Congress expressing concern at the Israel-Hamas war. With 15,000 Gazans killed in seven weeks of bombardment , many inside the Biden administration feel that the White House should do more to rein-in Israel. Only one person has publicly resigned due to the Gaza onslaught - Josh Paul (right), a director in the State Department's political-military affairs bureau, which oversees U.S. arms transfers. But sources told NBC News that the internal unrest - including statements in open letters from government employees - exceeds anything felt in the last 40 years, including the Iraq War and Donald Trump 's Muslim ban.

➤WHAT DID ISRAEL KNOW AND WHEN DID THEY KNOW IT:  A bombshell report has claimed Israeli intelligence had an intimate understanding of Hamas' October 7 attack blueprint over a year prior, but brushed it off as it was deemed unachievable. In a 40-page document obtained by The New York Times, Hamas laid out a detailed plan to carry out its assault on Israel that ultimately led to the deaths of approximately 1,200 people. The battle plan reportedly did not set a date for the attack, but offered an exhaustive look at the terrorist group's strategy, including a focus on fortifications around the Gaza Strip, while storming key military bases and division headquarters. According to the outlet, the plans within the document were followed by Hamas with chilling precision in the attacks last month, raising questions as to why Israel failed to take steps to prevent it. It is also claimed that officials conceded they could have prevented, or at least diminished, the October 7 attacks had they taken a number of dire warnings from analysts seriously.

➤ISRAEL TO HUNT DOWN HAMAS LEADERSHIP: Israel’s intelligence services are preparing to kill Hamas leaders around the world when the nation’s war in the Gaza Strip winds down, setting the stage for a yearslong campaign to hunt down militants responsible for the Oct. 7 massacres, Israeli officials said. With orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s top spy agencies are working on plans to hunt down Hamas leaders living in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar, the small Gulf nation that has allowed the group to run a political office in Doha for a decade, the officials said.

The Wall Street Journal reports the assassination campaign would be an extension of Israel’s decades long clandestine operations that have become the subject of both Hollywood legend and worldwide condemnation. Israeli assassins have hunted Palestinian militants in Beirut while dressed as women, and killed a Hamas leader in Dubai while disguised as tourists. Israel has used a car bomb to assassinate a Hezbollah leader in Syria and a remote-controlled rifle to kill a nuclear scientist in Iran, according to former Israeli officials.

➤STOCKS END NOVEMBER WITH A BANG: The Dow Jones Average rose more than 500 points yesterday to bring the month of November to an upbeat end. The Dow ended up at just over 38,000, its biggest number for the year. Investors were apparently celebrating the expectation that the Federal Reserve is done raising interest rates for now.

➤TRUMP GAG ORDER REINSTATED: An appeals court yesterday reinstated the limited gag order imposed on Donald Trump by Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the former president’s fraud trial in New York. An attorney for Trump called the new ruling “a tragic day for the rule of law.” The gag order forbids the former president to lob personal insults towards court staff members and his own family. The judge says his chambers have been “inundated” with threats.Hours before the gag order was reinstated, Trump renewed his personal attacks in social media posts referring to the judge’s “Trump Hating wife” and his “very disturbed and angry law clerk.”

➤DeSANTIS GETS UNDER NEWSOM'S SKIN: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis got under Gavin Newsom’s skin on Thursday night when he revealed the California governor’s own father-in-law is among the millions that have fled the blue state in recent years — for the Sunshine State. “So, I was talking to a fella who had made the move from California to Florida, and he was telling me that Florida is much better governed, safer, better budget, lower taxes, all this stuff, and he’s really happy with the quality of life,” DeSantis said during a Fox News debate with his California counterpart. “And then he paused, and he said, ‘You know, by the way, I’m Gavin Newsom’s father-in-law.” 

The Siebels, whose daughter Jennifer has been married to Newsom for 14 years, then registered to vote in Florida in June 2020, according to the report. Around the time of the home purchase, Newsom implemented a statewide shelter-in-place order that would not be lifted until January 2021.VNewsome’s in-laws, Kenneth Siebel Jr. and Judith Siebel, purchased a $3.3 million home in Naples, Fla., in March 2020, according to Fox News.

➤CONSUMERS PULL BACK: October saw Americans pull back on spending and inflation continue to ease. Consumer spending rose 0.2%, down sharply from a 0.7% rise in September, the Commerce Department said. The October reading marked the slowest increase since May. Summer spending was brisk, but receding income growth, high interest rates and prices, shrinking pandemic savings and the return of student-loan payments have slowed that pace, economists say. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to a 2023 high, capping a resurgent month for stocks propelled by investors’ strengthening conviction that the Fed is done raising rates. Today’s spending and inflation data boosted those expectations.

➤RESPIRATORY ILLNESS TARGETING KIDS: Dr John Kelley, from western Massachusetts, said his practice was seeing a lot of children coming in with pneumonia or suffering from a combination of RSV and other respiratory illnesses. Health officials in an Ohio county 30 miles outside Cincinnati said there had been 142 pediatric cases of pneumonia recorded in their area since August. An 'ongoing investigation' is underway into what triggered the wave of illnesses, but officials do not think it is a new respiratory disease. Patients have so far tested positive for mycoplasma pneumonia, a bacterial lung infection resistant to some antibiotics, strep and adenovirus, which are normally benign respiratory infections. 

➤SANTOS DEFIANT: George Santos remains defiant in face of expulsion. Republican Santos remained defiant in the face of his likely expulsion at a press conference Thursday, arguing his detractors were "bullying" him out of Congress and denying a scathing House Ethics Committee report that accused him of wrongdoing. Santos has refused to resign and has promised to take his expulsion in stride: “If I leave, they win," he said Thursday. Santos has argued his expulsion would break precedent in the House as he faces federal charges but has yet to be convicted. The House is expected to vote on Santos’ expulsion on Friday. 

JUDGE BLOCKS MONTANA TIKTOK BAN: Federal judge blocks Montana’s TikTok ban, which would have been the nation’s first statewide ban of the Chinese-owned video app. The action by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy temporarily halts the ban of the popular video app from going into effect Jan. 1. Montana’s law, signed in May by Gov. Greg Gianforte (R), would have banned all use of the app throughout the state — a leap beyond the more limited rules, passed by more than 30 states and federal agencies, that prohibit the app from being used on government-owned devices and networks.

🏈NFL COWBOYS 41 SEATTLE 35: Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes, the last a 12-yarder to tight end Jake Ferguson with 4:37 remaining, as the Dallas Cowboys outlasted the Seattle Seahawks 41-35 Thursday night in Arlington, Texas. CeeDee Lamb made 12 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, Tony Pollard rushed for 68 yards and a score and Brandon Aubrey kicked four field goals for the Cowboys (9-3), who won for the sixth time in their past seven games and beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season. Dallas' defense stiffened late, forcing Seattle to turn over the ball on downs on its final three possessions. Geno Smith threw three touchdown passes to DK Metcalf for the Seahawks (6-6), who lost their third game in a row. 

The Cowboys won their 14th consecutive home game dating back to September 2022. The go-ahead drive came after Seattle was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Cowboys' 46-yard line with 7:04 remaining.

🏀BRONNY JAMES IS READY TO PLAY: Bronny James, the University of Southern California’s promising freshman basketball player, has been cleared by his doctors to return to the sport, according to The Athletic, which cited family members as its source. The son of NBA great LeBron James, Bronny suffered a cardiac arrest during a practice session in July and subsequently had surgery to correct a heart defect.

🏈BUFFALO BILLS’ MILLER CHARGED WITH ASSAULT: Buffalo Bills pass rusher Von Miller has been charged with assaulting a pregnant woman, a third-degree felony. Miller turned himself in yesterday and was released after posting $5,000 bail. Miller is accused of assaulting his long-time girlfriend on Wednesday at their home in Dallas. The woman later denied that the assault happened.

🏌TIGER WOODS STRUGGLES IN RETURN TO PRO GOLF: Tiger Woods played in his first tournament since April yesterday. He finished the first round at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas with a 75, three strokes over par, placing him 18th in a field of 20. Woods plans to compete next at the PNC Championship in mid-December with his talented son, Charlie Woods.

➤STORMS TO BLAST NORTRHWEST: Several storms will blast the Northwest over the next few days, courtesy of multiple atmospheric rivers that are forecast to dump heavy rain and feet of snow across the region. "A series of storms will come ashore in the Northwest late this week," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Heather Zehr. "Additional storms will carry on even into next week." Coastal and lower elevations of Washington and Oregon will see moderate to locally heavy rain, the National Weather Service said, with the heavier rainfall more likely Friday and then into the weekend. The weather service in Seattle said "multiple atmospheric rivers look to impact our region this weekend and into next week with possible heavy rain and breezy conditions." 

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