34 trucks: Over the weekend, 34 trucks from an aid convoy entered Gaza via the Rafah border crossing, which had been the subject of negotiations for the last week between Egypt, Israel, and the U.S.
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza remains dire, with little electricity, food, and water available. Doctors are using "clothes for bandages, vinegar for antiseptic, sewing needles for surgical ones," reports the Associated Press. Al Shifa Hospital, which generally has the capacity to care for about 700 patients, is treating more than 5,000. Patients are crammed into hospital corridors, with so few beds available. Aid workers say hundreds of trucks carrying supplies are needed, not dozens.
Meanwhile, two Israeli-American hostages taken from Kibbutz Nahal Oz were released by Hamas. The terrorist group is still holding at least 10 other Americans, and the total hostage count has been updated to 222. (Qatar, which has a substantial U.S. military presence and also has a history of supporting Hamas, helped broker the deal; The Economist suggests that the country is "scrambling to show that it can still be useful to America.")
Fighting has ramped up in the north, where the Israeli army is evacuating more than 100,000 people due to fears of Hezbollah strikes. Another 100,000 have voluntarily relocated away from the region. The Iran-backed Hezbollah would be making "the mistake of its life" if it decides to go after Israel beyond the strikes that have already been exchanged, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend. "We will cripple it with unimaginable force."
DeSantis for speech suppression: "Some of these people are not U.S. citizens…so as president, if you're on a student visa and you're a foreigner and you're out there celebrating terrorism, I'm canceling your visa and I'm sending you home," said the presidential contender and Florida governor Ron DeSantis on Friday, referring to the recent wave of student speech that have at times veered into Hamas apologism.
Giving the middle finger to images of kidnapped children is vile, but DeSantis is still wrong to float this bad policy (which several others jockeying for GOP votes have also gestured at). It is one thing to prosecute actual terroristic threats and actions, but punishing students for political speech would be a clear-cut First Amendment violation and would set a chilling precedent. DeSantis, unfortunately, has a penchant for punishing speech he personally dislikes.
One perk of free-speech maximalism is that it allows people with odious beliefs to show you who they are. You then get to make decisions as to who you associate with and who you care to listen to based on that.
A different type of war: Three weeks ago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) was ousted by the far-right flank of his own party (in conjunction with a bunch of Democrats), partly over lack of substantial spending cuts and partly over long-festering animus toward the unpopular California congressman. Since then, Republicans have repeatedly failed to elect a new speaker. Now nine Republicans are throwing their hats in the ring.
Reps. Tom Emmer (R–Minn.), Mike Johnson (R–La.), Jack Bergman (R–Mich.), Gary Palmer (R–Ala.), Byron Donalds (R–Fla.), Kevin Hern (R–Okla.), Dan Meuser (R–Pa.), Austin Scott (R–Ga.), and Pete Sessions (R–Texas) have all declared their intention to run. Today they'll make pitches to their colleagues in an attempt to secure votes. Internal elections are scheduled for tomorrow; if anyone emerges from that process, he could head to the House floor for a full vote.
"This is my tenth term in Congress. This is probably one of the most embarrassing things I've seen," Rep. Michael McCaul (R–Texas) told ABC this past weekend. "We're essentially shut down as a government." Of course, for libertarians who want to see more gridlock, the ongoing speaker battles—derailing near-guaranteed fiscal profligacy—may be more attractive. Still, the government is funded only until mid-November, so an actual budget for next year must be passed soon or else the government shuts down (and a shut-down government is kind of a misnomer, and it doesn't actually save us much money at all).
Scenes from New York:
All boomers dress like toddlers dressing like adults now https://t.co/k7Ijr4fGja
— Anna Khachiyan (@annakhachiyan) October 18, 2023
Technically, this one is from the airport in Tel Aviv, but I cannot get over my governor's outfit (and bizarre world tour, ostensibly paid for by taxpayers like me).
- "Oregon again says students don't need to prove mastery of reading, writing or math to graduate, citing harm to students of color," reports The Oregonian. Actually, eliminating standards doesn't help anyone succeed in the long run.
- What does this even mean? Nothing good.
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) October 20, 2023
- On Friday, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates met for diplomatic talks in Riyadh. In the past, their relationship has been fraught due to "disagreements over their involvement in Yemen's civil war and how to handle Iranian aggression in the region," reports Bloomberg.
- Ukrainian commandos are using jet skis to traverse the Black Sea to attack parts of Russian-held Crimea.
- Argentine presidential contender (and libertarian) Javier Milei came in second place in yesterday's voting. This means he will head to the runoff elections in November, but it's looking less and less likely that he'll actually be elected.
- "The 10-year Treasury yield crossed 5% for the first time in 16 years," reports Bloomberg, "propelled by expectations the Federal Reserve will maintain elevated interest rates and that the government will further boost bond sales to cover widening deficits."
- ChatGPT maker OpenAI will likely soon be valued at $80 billion.
- Possibly the most New York Timesy headline I have ever seen: "Climate change is keeping therapists up at night." I will save you some reading time: Every person described within is just as annoying as you're imagining, and yes, of course these consummate professionals live in the Pacific Northwest.
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