Saturday, April 06, 2024

Gaza has been terrorized for six months now

AFP reports, "Tens of thousands of Israelis protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday as Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza reaches its half-year mark.  Organisers said about 100,000 people converged at a Tel Aviv crossroads renamed 'Democracy Square' since mass protests against controversial judicial reforms last year." THE NATIONAL explains, "Rallies were also held in other cities, with Israel's opposition leader Yair Lapid taking part in one in Kfar Saba before a visit to Washington for talks."  Australia's ABC notes, "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces pressure to resign as tens of thousands of protesters gather in Tel Aviv to call for new elections."  WION adds:


The demonstrations took place after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) recovered the body of hostage Elad Katzir. Demonstrators were reportedly chanting "elections now", and "Elad, we're sorry", urging Netanyahu to step down.


The War Criminal has assaulted Gaza for six months now.  The editorial board of LE MONDE notes:


Disproportionality has become the norm, obliterating the distinction between militia fighters and civilians. A report by an Israeli investigative website serves as an allegory for this: According to the site, an artificial intelligence had been tasked with selecting thousands of human targets based on the work of intelligence services which had seen neither any of the preparations for October 7, nor the gigantic network of tunnels dug by Hamas. And what was the result? Four months after taking over Gaza's largest hospital to track down Hamas fighters, the Israeli army has found it necessary to launch another deadly and particularly destructive assault on the hospital at the end of March. To be followed by the next one.

Under the impetus of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose political survival depends on the destruction of Gaza having been just as unable to free the Israelis captured on October 7 as to eradicate Hamas, Israel is reoccupying the narrow strip of land after having stifled it for 16 years. The maximalism of the most extremist government in the country's history is not only creating a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale. It has also signaled the prevention of any reconstruction of Gaza, if by chance the weapons were to finally fall silent.

This Israeli drift was enabled by the blindness of the US, whose timid reservations were rightly taken for support. After the decimation of Palestinian civilians, journalists and humanitarians, it finally took the deaths of six foreigners employees of an American NGO, killed by successive Israeli drone strikes during a trip that had even been coordinated with the Israeli army, for President Joe Biden to speak out in anger. And to obtain what? A promise to facilitate the arrival of the humanitarian aid needed to prevent famine in Gaza. In other words, the bare minimum that would be expected of any democracy worthy of the name.

AP has a photo essay here documenting the six months of destruction.  AP has a set of figures here and from that we'll note this on aid workers, health workers and journalists:

Aid workers killed in Gaza: 224, including at least 30 killed in the line of duty

Health workers killed in Gaza: 484

Journalists killed in Gaza: At least 95


Also killed in the last six months?  Any notion that the US government could provide leadership.  Patrick Wintour (GUARDIAN) offers, "Faced by this barrage, US diplomacy has not enjoyed its finest hour, as every day it seems its inability to control events becomes more apparent. It is locked in a war it had not foreseen, in a region it was seeking to leave behind, in defence of an ally that refuses to do as it asks."  Jeremy Bowen (BBC NEWS) creates a measurement to determine progress in the coming weeks, "Over the next month or so, one way of assessing change is simply to count whether Israel is killing fewer Palestinian civilians, or whether increased food and medical aid can save Gaza from famine. Another test will be whether Mr Netanyahu defies American opposition and goes ahead with a ground assault on Rafah, where Israel says the remaining organised units of Hamas must be destroyed. The US says that must not happen until Israel can find a way to protect the lives of almost 1.5 million Palestinians who have taken refuge there."



AFP notes, "The World Health Organization said Saturday that Gaza's largest hospital had been reduced to ashes by Israel's latest siege, leaving an 'empty shell' with many bodies."  At least 13,000 children have been killed in Gaza in the last six months -- 13,800 according to Save The Children.  That's the figure right now.  THE NEW ARAB explains, "By February, the number of children killed had exceeded the number of children killed in wars globally throughout the past four years." Many children are missing and many are starving.  AP notes, "As the war in Gaza enters a sixth month, the WFP ]World Food Program] said malnutrition among children is spreading at record pace, and one of three below the age of two is now acutely malnourished."  Peter Beaumont and Kaamil Ahmed (GUARDIAN) explain:


Two hundred and fifty calories represents two slices of supermarket wholemeal bread sold in the UK. Twelve per cent of recommended nutrition intake. Today in northern Gaza, already in the grip of a “catastrophic” level of hunger as defined by the UN, it represents an entire day’s calorific intake.

Six months into Israel’s war against Gaza, which followed Hamas’s brutal surprise attack on southern Israel’s border communities on 7 October last year which killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and saw almost 250 ­others taken hostage, acute hunger has become pervasive in the coastal strip.

For those who have money, food is in perilously short supply. For those with none – and with Israel, according to UN officials and other agencies, having obstructed the delivery of humanitarian aid for months – finding sustenance has become a matter of life and death.


THE JOURNAL notes:


ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST Hamas in Gaza has escalated into a “betrayal of humanity”, the United Nations’ humanitarian chief said today.

In a statement on the eve of the six-month anniversary of the war, Martin Griffiths, the outgoing under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, called for a “collective determination that there be a reckoning for this betrayal of humanity”.

“Each day, this war claims more civilian victims,” Griffiths, who will leave his post at the end of June due to health reasons, said.

“Every second that it continues sows the seeds of a future so deeply obscured by this relentless conflict.”


At JACOBIN, Enzo Traverso writes:


All of our statesmen have gone on pilgrimage to Tel Aviv to assure Benjamin Netanyahu of their unconditional support for Israel. There is no debate, they tell us, when morality and civilization are at stake. Even now that these traditional assumptions are deeply shaken in Western public opinion by the daily spectacle of famine and the massacre of children, they combine their pleas for moderation and humanitarianism with reaffirmations of Israel’s status as a victim that must defend itself.

No one ever mentions the right of the Palestinians to defend themselves against an aggression that has lasted for decades. While Israel obstructs any terrestrial delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance, Western governments (with few exceptions) imperturbably continue to support a genocidal power both financially and militarily.

After October 7, the threshold of tolerance has greatly increased, and the number of children killed under the bombs is no longer counted. Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis, including eight hundred civilians; Tzahal, the Israeli military, has killed at least thirty-three thousand Palestinians to date, including no more than five thousand Hamas fighters.

Everything is planned: the destruction of roads, schools, universities, hospitals, museums, monuments, and even cemeteries erased by bulldozers; the interruption of water, electricity, gas, fuel, internet; the denial of displaced people’s access to food and medication; the evacuation of more than 1.5 million of the 2.3 million people living in Gaza to the south of the strip, where they are again bombed; disease and epidemics. Unable to eradicate Hamas, Tzahal started the elimination of the Palestinian intelligentsia: scholars, doctors, technicians, journalists, intellectuals, and poets.

The UN’s International Court of Justice, one of the products of the Western international order, issued a warning that the Palestinian population of Gaza is being subjected to an organized and relentless slaughter, uprooted and deprived of the most basic conditions of survival. The Israeli war in Gaza is taking on the features of genocide. Orientalism, however, is stronger than the juridical legacy of the Enlightenment.


Earlier this week, the Israeli government murdered seven people working to deliver food to the Palestinians --  Australian Lalzawmi 'Zomi' Frankcom, US-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, Polish Damian Sobol and British James Kirby, John Chapman, James Henderson and Paletinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha who were working with World Central Kitchen.  ALJAZEERA notes, "UK support for Israel is 'not unconditional', British Secretary of State David Cameron writes in The Sunday Times, a week after it killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, including three Britons, in Gaza."   At CNN, Mobile Medics International's  Teresa Gray remembers Zomi Frankcom:


I talked to Zomi the week before she was headed to Gaza. I reminded her it was dangerous — something she acknowledged herself — even though we both knew she was going anyway. Because that was what Zomi did; she went where help was needed, making sure the vulnerable got fed, that people felt loved and cared for, and that she was a beacon of hope for the hopeless.

Zomi and I met years ago while we were both working in humanitarian aid. I run an organization that provides medical care in crisis situations, while she worked for World Central Kitchen providing food for those same people.

We would often work together in foreign countries. I’d ask, “Hey Zomi, where are you taking food? Do they need medical as well?” She’d reach out and say, “Hey Teresa, where are you doing medical? Do they need food?” Eventually, through our years-long collaboration, Zomi and I saw each other so often that we became close friends.

Zomi was fierce and loyal and loving and funny. She had this amazing smile that was ever-present and she was the best hugger I’ve ever known. She was constantly forgetting something when she packed for her trips abroad. I would get a Whatsapp message in the middle of the night or a call, where she’d ask, “Hey, when you get here would you bring me socks?” or “Hey my friend, I forgot to pack shampoo, you’re coming to the earthquake, right? Bring me some.”

             We also had a standing joke that she was to always bring me European chocolate and I was to bring her Alaskan salmon. Neither of us ever did, but when we saw each other, we would always ask, “Where’s my chocolate?” or “Where’s my salmon?” We’d then agree to bring those items and meet in Transylvania — the most far-flung place we could think of.

When I actually ended up traveling to Transylvania, she called me to jokingly yell at me for going without her. The silly, irrelevant jokes and conversations we had made our friendship special.

I never saw Zomi in her home country of Australia and she never saw me in my home country of America. We only ever saw each other in foreign lands, in the middle of some disaster we were both trying to help with. What mattered was that we shared a common purpose: to help when we could, where we were, with what we had.     



Gaza remains under assault. Day 183 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  THE NATIONAL notes, "The death toll from Israel's military offensive in Gaza has increased to 33,137 since October 7, while at least 75,815 have been wounded, the enclave's Health Ministry said on Saturday."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:








And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."


Six months.  Death and destruction for six months, starving civilians for six months, terrorizing civilians for six months.  And what's the end game?  CNN's Ivana Kottasová writes:

The war in Gaza has been raging for six months and the patience of Israel’s allies is running out. As the death toll in the enclave continues to climb, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Israel has no viable plan for how to end the war or what comes next.

The determination to continue pursuing Hamas in Gaza despite the horrific humanitarian consequences is leaving Israel increasingly isolated on the global stage, with its government facing pressure from all sides.

Multiple international organizations have warned Israel may be committing genocide, and even the country’s closest allies are now openly criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Calls to halt arms shipments to Israel are growing in the United States and the United Kingdom.

And if the assault ended tomorrow?   Robert Tollast, Nada AlTaher and Khaled Yacoub Oweis (THE NATIONAL) report:


Millions of Gazans without access to clean water, food or electricity and facing famine are desperate for an end to the war, now in its sixth month.

But what awaits if the guns fall silent amid one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters?

By some estimates, as of April 5 anywhere between 50 and 70 per cent of housing has been destroyed or seriously damaged, while more than 33,000 people have been killed in the Israeli bombardment.

Experts say prioritising so many sectors at once amounts to "starting from zero". For example, a country that loses an entire city in an earthquake might still have another city nearby with hospitals and emergency workers ready to assist.

But that is not the case in Gaza. That presents a challenge of “mammoth” complexity, diplomats and reconstruction experts told The National.


In the US, even politicians are starting to say "Enough."  Australia's ABC reports:


US representative Nancy Pelosi, former House speaker and a key ally of President Joe Biden, has signed a letter urging a halt to weapons transfers to Israel.

Ms Pelosi signed a letter from dozens of congressional Democrats, calling on Mr Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to stop the transfer of weapons to Israel on Friday.


Julia Conley (COMMON DREAMS) adds:


U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine on Friday became the latest centrist Democrat to display a shift in tone regarding the Biden administration's continued support for Israel—and despite months of intensifying demands from progressive lawmakers and the international community for President Joe Biden to push for a change in policy from Israel, the newly minted critics have appeared to have more success.

The Virginia Democrat, who serves on both the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, cited the killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers this week in a lengthy statement in which he said Israel's "current approach is not working" and pushed back against the White House's opposition to an independent investigation into the attack.

"The United States should join in the call for an independent and international investigation into Monday's strike on World Central Kitchen volunteers, in which an American was killed," said Kaine. The senator also renewed his call for the administration to "prioritize the transfer of defensive weapons in all arms sales to Israel while withholding bombs and other offensive weapons that can kill and wound civilians and humanitarian aid workers."

Kaine's comments came a day after Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)—said to be Biden's closest ally in the Senate—told CNN that the U.S. is approaching a point at which it must consider placing conditions on military aid to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

"If [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu were to order the IDF into Rafah at scale... and make no provision for civilians or for humanitarian aid, I would vote to condition aid to Israel," Coons said, referring to the southern Gaza city where Israel has threatened to start a ground offensive and where 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are staying in shelters and makeshift tents. "I've never said that before, I've never been here before."


The following sites updated:





IRC President on delivering aid to Gaza: ‘We need a paradigm shift’

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Julio Iglesias, Diana Ross - All Of You

 

Representatives Bush, Cleaver Urge Missouri Governor Parson to Halt Execution of Brian Dorsey

 April 03, 2024

Representatives Bush, Cleaver Urge Missouri Governor Parson to Halt Execution of Brian Dorsey

 

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 3, 2024) – Today, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-05) sent a letter to Missouri Governor Mike Parson urging him to halt the execution of Brian Joseph Dorsey, scheduled for April 9. In addition to the Representatives, at least 70 Missouri Department of Corrections officers and a former warden have rallied for Mr. Dorsey and urged a commutation of his sentence.

Medical experts have concluded that Mr. Dorsey, a 51-year-old native of Jefferson City, was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the offense. Further, Mr. Dorsey was advised by attorneys who used a flat fee arrangement and had a financial conflict of interest in the case to plead guilty to a capital offense, with the death penalty still on the table, based on no investigation or expert opinion regarding whether there were viable defenses available to him.

“As lawmakers, we are committed to building a Missouri that is a beacon of justice, and we strive daily to represent the needs and demands of Missourians across the state,” wrote the Representatives. “We strongly urge Mr. Dorsey’s clemency request be immediately granted.”

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

Representatives Bush and Cleaver have written similar letters to Governor Parson ahead of the state-sanctioned executions of Johnny Johnson, Amber McLaughlin, Kevin Johnson and Ernest Johnson.

Since first coming to Congress, Congresswoman Bush has been a national leader in the push for clemency reform and the need to end the death penalty. In February 2021, the Congresswoman urged President Biden to use his pardon power to correct legacies of injustice in the clemency process, including a call to commute the sentences of all on federal death row. In December 2021, Congresswoman Bush, alongside Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), introduced the Fair and Independent Experts in Clemency (FIX Clemency) Act, historic legislation that works to transform our nation’s broken clemency system and address the growing mass incarceration crisis. She is a proud cosponsor of the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act, which would end the use of the death penalty by the federal government.

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Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson The Closer I Get To You

Statement on the Passing of Sakaye Aratani

 April 04, 2024

Statement on the Passing of Sakaye Aratani

The passing of Sakaye Aratani coincides with an ever-dwindling number of adult Japanese Americans who endured the injustice of being forcibly removed from their homes and imprisoned in WWII internment camps. She and her late husband, George Aratani, made a remarkably successful post-war journey in business and became important philanthropic figures within the Japanese American community and beyond.

Many have noted Sakaya’s grace, humility, and elegance. I will additionally highlight that the Aratanis exemplified an inspiring resilience and social responsibility as they built their postwar success and paid forward that success with their philanthropy. She made a lasting impression on me during annual encounters at community gatherings for various Japanese American organizations she and her husband supported.

My heart goes out to the Aratani family, and I join with the rest of the Japanese American community in mourning her passing.

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Rep. Takano Blasts Ugandan Court’s Horrific Anti-LGBTQ Ruling

 April 03, 2024

Rep. Takano Blasts Ugandan Court’s Horrific Anti-LGBTQ Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a ruling from Uganda’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday that largely upheld large parts of a sweeping anti-LGBTQ law, Congressman Mark Takano (CA-39) blasted the news:

“I am outraged by the ruling from Uganda’s Constitutional Court upholding a law that strips LGBTQ Ugandans of their dignity, liberty, and in some cases their lives. It is a disgrace and a deeply disturbing step backwards for human rights in the region. 

“This draconian law adds a whole new layer of systematic, state-sponsored discrimination on top of what LGBTQ Ugandans already face: social marginalization, police violence, evictions, job loss, harassment, assault, and even murder. 

“I applaud the Biden Administration and the international community’s commitment to sending a clear message through both rhetoric and policy that this law is fundamentally inhumane. I urge the Administration to keep the pressure on Uganda’s government to reverse this gross violation of human rights.” 

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Congressman Robert Garcia Introduces Resolution Recognizing Importance and Contributions of Neurodivergent People

 

Congressman Robert Garcia Introduces Resolution Recognizing Importance and Contributions of Neurodivergent People

April 2, 2024

Washington, D.C. – On World Autism Awareness Day, Congressman Robert Garcia (CA-42) introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives recognizing the importance and contributions of neurodivergent people to our country. The resolution acknowledges the diverse talents of neurodivergent individuals, estimated to make up 15 to 20 percent of the world's population.

“Neurodivergent people have made incredible contributions to our country, utilizing their unique perspectives and strengths to advance so much of our society,” said Congressman Robert Garcia. “We must make sure the United States supports and uplifts all people, regardless of identity, disability, or neurological difference. I hope this resolution will contribute to the work of advocates and organizations who raise awareness and fight to eliminate stigma for neurodivergent individuals.”

It’s estimated that more than 50 million people in the United States exhibit forms of neurodivergence including autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, Tourette Syndrome, and ADHD. Neurodivergent individuals have made significant contributions to various fields, including science, technology, the arts, medicine, and political leadership, enhancing the cultural and economic fabric of society. The resolution also praises the tireless efforts of advocates and organizations who have worked to raise awareness, eliminate stigma, and provide support to neurodivergent individuals. By promoting inclusion and belonging, the United States can become a stronger and more just nation, fostering innovation and creativity.

To read the full text, click here.

Congressman Garcia knows that Members of Congress have a responsibility to acknowledge and address discrimination within our institutions. He believes that the government has a responsibility to protect the neurodivergent community and defend the important progress we’ve made. He knows that we must also take strong steps to enshrine anti-discrimination protections into federal law and ensure the civil rights of everyone in our country are respected. 

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Patti Austin & James Ingram - Baby, Come To Me • TopPop

Baldwin Leads Bipartisan Resolution Recognizing International Day for Mine Awareness

 04.04.2024

Baldwin Leads Bipartisan Resolution Recognizing International Day for Mine Awareness

Baldwin and Moran lead the effort to remove landmines and unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War and support civilians impacted by mines

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced a bipartisan resolution designating today, April 4, 2024, as International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The resolution acknowledges the global impacts of landmines and reaffirms the United States' role in eliminating landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) to keep civilians safe.

“I’ve met with landmine survivors in Vietnam and seen the devastating consequences of our legacies of war throughout Southeast Asia. While the fighting in places like Vietnam and Southeast Asia are long done, the carnage has continued, and we have a moral responsibility to do more to clear the remnants of our conflicts to keep these communities safe,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to work with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to reaffirm that the United States is committed to eliminating our legacies of war.”

“Eliminating landmines and unexploded devices is a crucial step in restoring stability to areas impacted by conflict,” said Senator Moran. “This resolution reaffirms the United States’ commitment to clearing dangerous remnants of war to protect innocent civilians around the world.”

“Landmines and other UXO continue to kill and maim thousands of innocent men, women, and children around the world. These weapons, which are triggered by the victim, should be universally banned. Brave people risk their lives to assist in demining efforts, and our increased support for those efforts is imperative to ensure that these indiscriminate, deadly devices are safely removed,” said Senator Welch. “This resolution builds off the legacy of my predecessor, Senator Leahy, and reaffirms America’s commitment to eradicating landmines and UXO to protect lives and limbs, facilitate infrastructure development, and promote peacebuilding.”

This resolution recognizes April 4, 2024, as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, and:

  • Reaffirms the leadership of the United States in eliminating landmines and unexploded ordnance;
  • Acknowledges the global impacts of landmines and highlights the United States role in clearing landmines, cluster bombs, and other munitions;
  • Affirms the Senate’s commitment to support international humanitarian efforts to eliminate landmines and unexploded ordnance;
  • Calls upon the U.S. Government to continue providing funding necessary to support international humanitarian demining activities; and
  • Reaffirms the goals of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

“Landmines and other unexploded ordnance continue to harm and kill civilians in over 60 countries - and children make up nearly half of all landmine casualties,” said Chris Whatley, Executive Director of HALO Trust, a humanitarian organization working to clear landmines and other explosive devices left behind by conflicts. “As innocent people in Ukraine, Angola, the Solomon Islands and beyond continue to live near explosive threats, it's critical that the United States continue lead the global effort to eliminate these deadly devices once and for all. This International Mine Awareness Day, we are proud to endorse Senator Baldwin, Senator Welch, and Senator Moran's resolution recognizing the ongoing threat of landmines and reaffirming the United States' leadership in keeping civilians safe around the world.”

Senators Baldwin and Moran lead the bipartisan Legacies of War Recognition and Unexploded Ordnance Removal Act to remove landmines in Southeast Asia and support the establishment of victim support programs for those affected by remnants of war. The legislation also recognizes the contributions of the many communities and Diasporas from Southeast Asia who supported and defended the United States Armed Forces during the war in Vietnam.

Text of the resolution is available here.

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Too much Too little - Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams

ICYMI: “How Patty Murray Used Her Gavel to Win $1 Billion for Child Care”

 

ICYMI: “How Patty Murray Used Her Gavel to Win $1 Billion for Child Care”

ICYMI: Senator Murray’s Statement on Funding Boost for Child Care, Pre-K

Washington, D.C. — In case you missed it: in this year’s funding bills, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured $1 billion more for our nation’s primary child care program and for Head Start, in addition to a variety of steps across government programs to help tackle the growing child care crisis that is crunching families, forcing child care workers to leave their profession, straining businesses, and holding our entire economy back.

Here’s a sampling of the coverage and what leading advocates are saying:

New York Times: How Patty Murray Used Her Gavel to Win $1 Billion for Child Care

A self-described “mom in tennis shoes,” now the Senate Appropriations Committee leader, managed to win an increase in child care subsidies in a spending freeze.

  • “Senator Patty Murray got inspired to enter politics when a male state legislator derided her efforts to fight budget cuts to early education programs, calling her ‘just a mom in tennis shoes’ — a remark she would proudly adopt as her campaign slogan.”
  • “So it came as little surprise that more than 40 years later, Ms. Murray, now the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, managed to emerge from excruciating negotiations over funding the federal government with a big victory aimed at children and families. Tucked into the $1.2 trillion spending law Congress cleared last week was an additional $1 billion for a single year for child care and early education programs.”
  • “Previous leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful perches in Congress, have historically used their pens to steer funding to their own priorities… For Ms. Murray, it is child care — an issue that historically has had few powerful constituencies on Capitol Hill. It is the continuation of decades of work aimed at strengthening families’ access to affordable child care.”
  • “Since 2015, when Ms. Murray took over as the top Democrat on the labor and health spending panel, and with Ms. DeLauro leading the appropriations subcommittee in the House, funding for child care and Head Start has increased by more than 250 percent, or $6.3 billion.”
  • “Separately, Ms. Murray secured $277 million in this year’s military construction funding bill to establish six new child development centers on installations to provide military families with more child care options — and added $60 million more than the Biden administration requested to design additional child development centers.”
  • “Congressional leaders will soon begin negotiating the spending bills due this fall to fund the government next year. For Ms. Murray, the increases to child care funding secured this month are just the beginning. ‘To me, this comes from my gut. I just fundamentally believe this is an issue we have to deal with,’ Ms. Murray said. ‘I’m hoping that globally, with this appropriations bill, our country accepts that child care is something we have to focus on if we all want to be a better nation.’”

Politico: Congressional appropriators tee up additional child care dollars

  • “The sweeping package includes a combined $1 billion increase in funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant and Head Start. The boost to CCDBG, the largest source of federal child care money, would bring funds to $8.75 billion. Head Start, which provides free early education and health services to high-need children, would be funded at $12.3 billion, a $275 million increase. The initial House Republican proposal for fiscal 2024 called for flat funding for CCDBG and a spending cut for Head Start.”
  • “While the Department of Health and Human Services oversees several early childhood education programs, investments in early learning across several federal agencies are tucked in the spending deal: Defense Department: The DOD funding bill includes a $66.5 million increase in funding to support universal pre-K for service member families. Education Department: The bill would fund the department’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School program that helps student parents access child care on their college campus. The $75 million spelled out in the bill follows the initial House Republican proposal that would have eliminated the program.”

Child Care Aware of America: Appropriations Bill Provides Unprecedented Child Care Funding

“The final bill includes good news for our nation’s children, families and communities, adding $1 billion to child care and early learning over fiscal year 2023. These investments would improve affordability and access to child care while advancing compensation and supports for child care providers through investments in the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Head Start.”

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO of MomsRising: “This billion dollars translates into more child care for moms with families, allowing them to fully participate in the workforce, greatly benefiting our communities and our economy. It also translates into stable, affordable, high-quality child care, that lowers the overall cost burden that families are facing. …. Patty Murray has never shied away from embracing that she is a mom as a basic part of her résumé. That’s huge. She’s stepped into an area where there is a significant maternal wall, and she has succeeded. And as she’s succeeded, she’s lifted all other moms.”

Julie Kashen, Director of Women’s Economic Justice at The Century Foundation: “@PattyMurray is fighting the good fights and winning! Having a ‘mom in tennis shoes’ leading the appropriations committee is good for children, families & communities. Our economy relies on parents & parents rely on child care.”

National Head Start Association (NHSA): “We are grateful to both Congress and the Biden Administration for recognizing the significant role Head Start plays in supporting our country’s most vulnerable children and families. We thank them for their meaningful work to increase funding for Head Start during this difficult and contentious congressional budget cycle,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci.

National Women’s Law Center (NWLC): “We’re thrilled that our Congressional champions secured an additional $1 billion to help lower child care costs for families and strengthen Head Start programs,” said NWLC President and CEO Fatima Goss Graves.

First Five Years Fund (FFYF): “Appropriators continue to face a tough fiscal environment, and we celebrate the news that the Committee was able to come together to increase funding for programs that support millions of Americans,” FFYF Executive Director Sarah Rittling said.

Zero to Three: “Families across the nation continue to face long waitlists and struggle to pay for child care. We thank @PattyMurry and @RosaDeLauro for being #BabyChampions for #ChildCare in the budget deal.”

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Senator Murray secured new funding and steps to help families get child care and pre-K across fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills, including:

Lowering Child Care Costs for Families

Notably, in this year’s HHS funding bill, Senator Murray secured a combined $1 billion increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)—our nation’s primary child care program—and for Head Start, which provides no cost early learning services for eligible families nationwide. The bill provides $8.75 billion—a $725 million, or 9%, increase over fiscal year 2023—for CCDBG to help more families afford child care. It also includes $12.3 billion—a $275 million increase over fiscal year 2023—for Head Start to support and retain the teachers and staff the program needs to continue serving families nationwide.

Strengthening funding for CCDBG and Head Start to help families find and afford high-quality child care and early learning options has been a top priority for Senator Murray as the top Democrat on the LHHS subcommittee from 2015 through 2022 and now as Senate Appropriations Committee Chair. Senator Murray has been instrumental in increasing funding for CCDBG by 48% since fiscal year 2021 and more than tripling funding over the last seven years.

Expanding Child Care Options for Military Families

In this year’s defense funding bill, Senator Murray secured $167 million to fully fund the Department of Defense’s (DOD) child care initiatives. This includes a $66.5 million increase in funding over fiscal year 2023 to support universal, full-day pre-K, which will double enrollment from 1,810 to 3,625 children of servicemembers. It also includes new resources to recruit, support, and retain staff at DOD’s child development centers—including $33 million to provide a 50% discount for the first child of center staff. It also invests an additional $20 million above the budget request in the renovation and repair of DOD’s child development centers.

Separately, Senator Murray secured $277 million in this year’s military construction funding bill to establish six new child development centers on installations to provide military families with more child care options—and she secured $59.5 million above the President’s budget request for the design of additional child development centers. Senator Murray authorized dedicated funding for the construction of child care facilities on military bases in 2019 through the NDAA and has delivered strong funding to support child care for servicemembers since then.

Protecting Child Care Options for Parents Pursuing a Higher Education

In this year’s HHS funding bill, Senator Murray protected full funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, which helps low-income parents pursue a higher education by supporting campus-based child care programs. The bill provides $75 million for the program—protecting existing funding and rejecting House Republicans’ proposal to eliminate the program altogether.

Eliminating Barriers for Veterans in Need of Child Care While Getting Care

In this year’s Veterans Affairs funding bill, Senator Murray secured $23 million to expand the successful Child Care Pilot Program she established in 2010, which helps eliminate barriers for veterans in need of child care while attending medical appointments.

Easing Child Care Barriers for Parents Working in Congress

In this year’s legislative branch funding bill, Senator Murray secured language authorizing Senate offices to—for the first time—use their existing budgets to provide child care subsidies to staff to better ensure working parents can serve their communities by working in Congress.

________________

Senator Murray has led the fight to tackle the child care crisis in Congress—using every tool at her disposal to make progress for families as the top Democrat on the HELP Committee, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee, and now as Chair of the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senator Murray has secured significant year-over-year increases for CCDBG to help more families afford child care. She was instrumental in ensuring Congress took action when the COVID pandemic forced the child care sector to the brink of collapse. She authored the stabilization provisions in the American Rescue Plan alongside Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) and helped secure a historic $24 billion in stabilization funds and an additional $15 billion for CCDBG in the legislation. The stabilization funds kept over 220,000 child care providers across the country afloat, sustaining child care for up to 10 million children as our country recovered from the pandemic. One third of child care providers who received a stabilization grant said their child care program would have closed permanently without the grants. She introduced legislation and pushed to extend the stabilization grants—and has continued to push to deliver supplemental funding to address the child care crisis, particularly given the tight fiscal constraints the Fiscal Responsibility Act has imposed on annual appropriations.

Critically, Senator Murray has introduced and continues working to build the support needed to pass her Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to tackle the child care crisis and ensure families across America can find and afford the high-quality child care they need. The legislation, which became the basis for President Biden’s child care plan in 2020 and his Build Back Better proposal, would ensure that child care is affordable and accessible for working families nationwide. The typical family would pay about $10 a day for child care under her plan.

Senator Murray knows the challenges that working parents face. She has spent her career advocating for parents, first running for office after a male legislator in Olympia told her she couldn’t make a difference in trying to save her kids’ preschool program because she was, “just a mom in tennis shoes.” Since being elected to the U.S. Senate, she has been a leading voice on child care and early childhood education in Congress, and has met constantly with parents from across Washington state to bring their stories and concerns back with her to the other Washington.

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