112 Hostages

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Hostages remain: In Gaza, more than two months after the October 7 Hamas attack, the Israeli military estimates that there are still 112 hostages being held, with roughly 20 additional believed to be dead. Many of the women and children initially taken by Hamas have been freed during the temporary ceasefire that ended on December 1, so the remaining hostages are primarily Israeli men, with a few women, children, and foreign nationals in the mix.

War rages on in the Middle East where, this week, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is in Tel Aviv, meeting with Israeli officials. Biden administration high-ups have been putting a lot of pressure on Israel lately to bring the military campaign in Gaza to an end, pursuing more targeted takeouts of Hamas militants instead. “Sullivan did not specify a timetable,” per The New York Times, “but four U.S. officials said Mr. Biden wants Israel to switch to more precise tactics in about three weeks.”

“The new phase that the Americans envision would involve smaller groups of elite forces that would move in and out of population centers in Gaza, carrying out more precise missions to find and kill Hamas leaders, rescue hostages and destroy tunnels, the officials said,” reports the Times.

Yesterday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced it had taken action against a soldier who went into a mosque in Jenin, in the West Bank, and sang Jewish prayers over a loudspeaker, filming himself doing so in a video that went viral. He was in Jenin as part of the IDF’s three-day raid there, which ended yesterday, and allegedly killed 12 people—at least 10 whom the Israeli military says are Hamas terrorists—while injuring 34.

“Israeli military incursions in Jenin, commonplace for years, have become more frequent since the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7,” reports The New York Times.

New CDC director on the job: Back in April 2020, 14 percent of Republicans said they had “not too much” or “no confidence at all” in “scientists to act in the public’s best interest.” Fast forward to now, it’s up to 38 percent, per Pew data. Of all American adults, “the share expressing the strongest level of trust in scientists—saying they have a great deal of confidence in them—has fallen from 39% in 2020 to 23% today.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seems to think that if we just appoint a normie mom to the head spot, all will be well again. Not so.

“I’m not just the C.D.C. director, I’m also a mom,” Mandy K. Cohen told a Fox station in Dallas last month. Her daughters already got their COVID vaccines, “so I wouldn’t recommend something for the American people I wouldn’t recommend for my own family,” she said.

Cohen was picked by President Joe Biden to take over for Rochelle Walensky, who oversaw and enabled a coercive, expanded CDC that even saw fit to create an eviction moratorium that made it, in many places, impossible for landlords to evict nonpaying tenants. That CDC, under Walensky, seemed almost religiously committed to masking in schools—schools that were allowed to open, at least—even when credible studies contradicted that conclusion. At every turn, Walensky relied on suspect scientific research and favored blunt-forced tools that infringed on Americans’ civil liberties.

So now, the CDC is trying out Cohen, who is attempting to brand herself as a relatable messenger who can really speak to Red America.

But here’s the rub. “When Representative Daniel Crenshaw, Republican of Texas, pushed her to admit [during recent congressional testimony] that the C.D.C. had been wrong during the pandemic, she politely ignored the request,” according to The New York Times. 

Until our public health agencies are fully rid of people who violated our civil liberties, and until those agencies admit their wrongdoing, public trust will not be restored, no matter how many times Cohen mentions her kids.

Scenes from New YorkCan the city’s new subway turnstiles actually thwart fare-beaters?


  • Watch the second episode of Just Asking Questions—featuring Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.):

  • “A plurality of swing-state Generation Z voters—those born in 1997 or later—say Biden is not doing enough to address the burden of student loan payments, even after he has erased $127 billion in such debt in initiatives that are widely thought to be aimed at locking in that key demographic,” reports Bloomberg. I might scream.
  • Profoundly frustrated (but not surprised) by how The New York Times’ podcast, The Daily, made Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R–N.Y.) questioning of elite college presidents over how they handle antisemitism on campus into…a moment that shows few problems with higher ed administrators, but rather, apparently, an attempt by Stefanik to redirect from opponents’ accusations that she dabbles in “great replacement” theory talk. (Literal use of “Republicans seized” in this episode, proceed with caution.)
  • How an obscure IRS tax code change is making it so tech companies are being forced to lay off even more people.
  • Presidential failson Hunter Biden is now defying congressional subpoenas, refusing to “appear privately for a deposition before Republican investigators” who want to have a little chat with him about his business dealings, per the Associated Press.
  • For once, California cops seem able to do what their New York counterparts refuse.
  • Oklahoma’s governor signed an executive order prohibiting offices of diversity, equity, and inclusion on college campuses. But some are saying that the actual legislation is narrowly tailored and actually does a decent job protecting academic freedom.
  • “After a party invitation for elected officials of color was accidentally sent to the entire Boston city council, Mayor Michelle Wu spoke to media about carving out spaces for communities of color,” reads a hilarious tweet from NBC News. Maybe major news outlets shouldn’t justify segregation.
  • Back in 2021, only 150,000 private citizens held gun licenses out of Israel’s total population of 9 million. Following the October 7 terrorist attack, Israelis have applied for more than 250,000 gun licenses.
  • The Harrison Bergeron posting will continue until morale (politics) improves:

We live in the era of the Handicapper General https://t.co/9xAUFuAQEI

— Liz Wolfe (@LizWolfeReason) December 15, 2023

  • This seems to, uh, misunderstand how internet access works:

MSNBC’s @MilesTaylorUSA: If elected, Trump may “turn off the Internet.” https://t.co/OstdHL4n9T pic.twitter.com/IcE9rtRfM5

— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 14, 2023

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