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December 26, 2023
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December 26, 2023

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December 26, 2023

Israeli military says Gaza ground offensive has expanded into urban refugee camps

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military says it has expanded its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip to the densely populated urban refugee camps in the central part of the territory. Residents reported shelling and airstrikes shaking the Nuseirat, Maghazi and Bureij camps. The built-up towns hold Palestinians whose families fled or were driven from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s independence. The camps are now crowded with Palestinians who fled northern Gaza in the early stages of Israel’s ground offensive. Meanwhile, Gaza’s main telecom provider announced another “complete interruption” of services.

Lose a limb or risk death? Growing numbers among Gaza’s thousands of war-wounded face hard decisions

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s more than 54,500 war-wounded include a growing number of amputees who face hard choices and challenges as they try to survive in a war zone. Health officials say overwhelmed hospitals that now lack vascular surgeons at times had to amputate limbs, which in normal times could have been saved. In other cases, the severe nature of the injuries meant some limbs are not salvageable, and needed to be removed as soon as possible to prevent death from blood poisoning. One of the new amputees, a 22-year-old university student, lost her lower left leg after she developed sepsis from a traumatic injury she suffered during an airstrike.

Americans ramped up spending during the holidays despite some financial anxiety and higher costs

NEW YORK (AP) — Mastercard SpendingPulse said Tuesday that holiday sales rose this year. The indicator, which tracks all kinds of payments including cash and debit cards, found sales from the beginning of November through Christmas Eve climbed 3.1%, a slower pace than the 7.6% increase from a year earlier. The sales growth this year was a bit lower than the 3.7% increase Mastercard SpendingPulse had expected back in September. The data released Tuesday excludes the automotive industry and is not adjusted for inflation. However, it indicates consumer spending remained resilient during the critical shopping season even as shoppers deal with still stubborn inflation in some areas as well as other financial worries.

As social media guardrails fade and AI deepfakes go mainstream, experts warn of impact on elections

NEW YORK (AP) — Experts are warning that the spread of misinformation could get worse in the coming presidential election contest. The safeguards that attempted to counter the bogus claims the last time are eroding, while the tools and systems that create and spread them are only getting stronger. Artificial intelligence tools have made it far cheaper and easier to spread the kind of misinformation that can mislead voters and influence elections. And social media companies that once invested heavily in correcting the record have shifted their priorities. That’s leading some experts to fear “a tsunami of misinformation” in the 2024 election.

The right to protest is under threat in Britain, undermining a pillar of democracy

LONDON (AP) — Britain is one of the world’s oldest democracies, but some worry that essential rights and freedoms are under threat. They point to restrictions on protest imposed by the Conservative government that have seen environmental activists jailed for peaceful but disruptive actions. The government says it is stopping extremist activists from hurting the economy and disrupting daily life. Critics say it is an example of how Britons’ civil rights are being eroded with too little scrutiny from the country’s elected representatives and not enough protection from the courts. Some say Britain’s unwritten constitution does not offer enough protection from politicians who push the limits of what is allowed.

Tis the season for giving: A guide for how to give, even a little

Christmas is over, but giving season for nonprofits is just starting to peak. The end of the calendar year is when nonprofits make appeals far and wide to attract donors. And because of holiday traditions or, for some, tax advantages, donors themselves think about giving now. Only 11% of Americans itemize their taxes, which allows them to claim significant tax deductions for charitable donations. That means most Americans don’t give in December for tax reasons. Chuck Collins, of the Institute for Policy Studies, says many donors are “thinking about the organization in their community that’s having an impact and digging deep and giving.”

Biden orders strikes on an Iranian-aligned group after 3 US troops wounded in drone attack in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered retaliatory airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia groups after three United States servicemembers were injured in a drone attack in northern Iraq. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said one of the U.S. troops suffered critical injuries in the attack that occurred earlier Monday. The Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, under an umbrella of Iranian-backed militants, claimed credit for the attack. Biden, who is spending Christmas at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, was briefed on the attack Monday and ordered the Pentagon to prepare response options.

Mexico’s army-run airline takes to the skies, with first flight to the resort of Tulum

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico has launched its army-run airline, with the first Mexicana airlines flight taking off from Mexico City bound for the Caribbean resort of Tulum. It was another sign of the outsized role that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has given to Mexico’s armed forces. The airline’s military-run holding company now also operates a dozen airports, hotels, trains, the country’s customs service and parks. Mexico’s defense secretary said Tuesday that having all those diverse businesses run by the military was “common in developed countries.” But in fact, only Cuba, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Colombia have small military-run airlines that operate a handful of planes mainly on under-served or remote domestic routes.

How Ukrainian special forces secured a critical Dnipro River crossing in southern Ukraine

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian special forces officers spent six months on their mission to establish a bridgehead across the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine after an explosion destroyed the dam upstream. The crumbling of the Kakhovka Dam released a wall of water and washed out the Ukrainian army positions in the counteroffensive’s opening days. A unit of the covert Center 73 fought for control of the Dnipro River crossings so Ukrainian infantry and marines could reclaim the south. It’s been a rare success for the Ukrainian counteroffensive. But nighttime temperatures are below freezing. The half-year it took to establish a bridgehead in one riverside village show the counteroffensive’s limits and the complications ahead for Ukraine.

Sweden moves a step closer to NATO membership after Turkey’s parliamentary committee gives approval

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee has given its consent to Sweden’s bid to join NATO. The move on Tuesday draws the previously nonaligned Nordic country closer to membership in the Western military alliance. Sweden’s accession protocol will now need to be approved in the Turkish parliament’s general assembly for the last stage of the legislative process in Turkey. No date has been set. Turkey is a NATO member that has delayed ratifying Sweden’s application for more than a year. The Turkish government accused Sweden of being too lenient toward groups that Ankara regards as threats to its security. Those groups include Kurdish militants and members of a network that Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016.