First Thing: Israel urged by UN and US officials to avoid repeat of northern Gaza devastation | US news #Israel #urged #officials #avoid #repeat #northern #Gaza #devastation #news

Good morning,

Israel has been urged by UN and US officials to avoid a repeat of the devastating impact that its operations in northern Gaza had on civilians as the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) expanded its ground offensive against Hamas further south to the city of Khan Younis.

Philippe Lazzarini, who heads the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza (UNRWA), said the expansion of military operations in southern Gaza was “repeating horrors from past weeks” by displacing people who had already been displaced, overcrowding hospitals and further “strangling the humanitarian operation” due to limited supplies.

Lynn Hastings, the lead UN official for the Palestinian territories, said Israel’s push into the south has forced tens of thousands of people into “increasingly compressed spaces, desperate to find food, water, shelter and safety”. She added: “Nowhere is safe in Gaza and there is nowhere left to go. If possible, an even more hellish scenario is about to unfold, one in which humanitarian operations may not be able to respond.”

On Monday, Israel ordered the evacuation of parts of the city of Khan Younis, advising Palestinians to head further south to Rafah, as dozens of Israeli tanks, armoured personnel carriers and bulldozers entered the Gaza Strip near Khan Younis. Witnesses said Israeli military vehicles were on the southern section of the main north-to-south road in Gaza, “firing bullets and tank shells at cars and people trying to move through the area”.

Israel claims the city is a Hamas stronghold and where its top commanders are believed to be hiding out. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are sheltering in Khan Younis after fleeing from fighting in the north.

  • How many are displaced in Gaza? About 1.8 million people in Gaza, or roughly 75% of the population, have been displaced, according to the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.

  • How many have been killed? The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says almost 16,000 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory attacks, about 70% of them women and children. It follows Hamas militants killing 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages on 7 October.

  • How many have been killed since the ceasefire ended? About 900 killed since the truce ended on Friday, according to the health ministry, who say thousands more are missing and feared buried in rubble.

Zelenskiy to address US senators amid funding row

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy presents a Ukrainian flag given to him by defenders of Bakhmut to US house speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2022.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy presents a Ukrainian flag given to him by defenders of Bakhmut to US house speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2022. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy will address US senators by video on Tuesday during a classified briefing, as the Biden administration pushes Congress to approve new aid for Ukraine.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said the administration had invited Zelenskiy to address the senators so they “could hear directly from him precisely what’s at stake”. They will also be hearing from the secretaries of defence, state and other top national security officials.

Zelenskiy’s appearance comes after the administration sent an urgent warning about the need to approve fresh military and economic assistance to Ukraine, saying Kyiv’s war effort to defend itself from Russia may grind to a halt without it.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders and released publicly on Monday, office of management and budget director Shalanda Young warned the US will run out of funding to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine by the end of the year. Young said that would “kneecap” Ukraine on the battlefield: “if Ukraine’s economy collapses, they will not be able to keep fighting, full stop.”

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan went further, suggesting that voting against aid for Ukraine “will ignore the lessons we’ve learned from history and let Putin prevail”.

  • How much additional aid has the White House requested? The supplemental funding request that the White House outlined in October included roughly $60bn in additional aid for Ukraine.

  • Why do hard-right Republicans oppose additional aid? Rightwing lawmakers have argued the US should not be sending so much money to Ukraine when those funds could be better used to address border security, even though US assistance to Ukraine represents less than 1% of the nation’s GDP.

  • What’s the latest in the fighting? Russian forces are assaulting the industrial town of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine from two new directions, Ukrainian officials said on Monday, as Moscow expanded its bid to capture the near-encircled town. Moscow has been trying for nearly two months to seize Avdiivka, an industrial town in the eastern Donetsk region that has become the fiercest flashpoint on the sprawling frontline.

Record number of fossil fuel lobbyists get access to Cop28 climate talks

A person holds a sign reading “phase out fossil fuels now!” during a demonstration for a just and equitable transition from fossil fuels at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit, Tuesday 5 December, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
A demonstrator at the COP28 UN Climate Summit on 5 December 2023 in Dubai. Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/AP

At least 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists have been granted access to the Cop28 climate negotiations, according to an analysis.

The figure calculated by the Kick Big Polluters Out (KBPO) coalition is a record number that raises further questions about the fossil fuel industry’s influence over this year’s UN summit, which is being run by the president of the United Arab Emirates’ national oil company.

The scale of oil and gas influence in Dubai is unprecedented, with almost four times as many industry-affiliated lobbyists than the number registered for Cop27 in Sharm el-sheikh – which itself was a record year.

Lobbyists vying to push the interests of oil and gas companies such as Shell, Total and ExxonMobil outnumber every country delegation apart from Brazil (3,081), which is expected to run Cop30 in 2025, and the host country, which registered 4,409 attenders.

Fossil fuel lobbyists also outnumber official Indigenous representatives (316) by seven to one – another sign, say campaigners, that oil and gas industry profits are being prioritised over a sustainable planet and frontline communities.

In other news …

  • The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, demanded that a summit of EU leaders next week avoid any decision on Ukraine’s coveted goal of getting approval for membership talks. The European Commission recommended the bloc’s leaders give their approval to launch membership talks as soon as it meets final conditions but their unanimous agreement is needed.

  • President Vladimir Putin said Russia should never repeat Soviet-era mass repressions, even as Moscow carries out an unprecedented crackdown on opponents of its Ukraine campaign. “It is important for us that nothing like this repeats itself in the history of our country,” Putin told his human rights council, according to Russian news agencies, referring to the mass repression seen under the Soviet Union.

  • Prosecutors have charged a Los Angeles man with four counts of murder in the fatal shootings of three men who were unhoused in the city, and a suburban resident, last month. Jerrid Joseph Powell was also charged with one count of residential robbery and one count of being a felon with a firearm.

  • One of the world’s leading experts on misinformation says she was fired by Harvard University for criticising Meta, at a time that the school was being pledged $500m from Mark Zuckerberg’s charity. Joan Donovan said in a legal filing her right to free speech had been abrogated.

  • The UK’s most hazardous nuclear site, Sellafield, has been hacked by groups closely linked to Russia and China. The hack was covered up by senior staff, and dates as far back as 2015, when experts realised sleeper malware had been embedded in Sellafield’s computer networks.

  • A Nigerian army drone strike accidentally killed at least 85 civilians observing a Muslim festival in Kaduna on Sunday. The army said it had been carrying out “a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community”.

Stat of the day: Emissions from fossil fuels projected to reach record 36.8bn tons of CO2 in 2023

Cop28 president Sultan al-Jaber speaks during a news conference the summit on 4 December.
Cop28 president Sultan al-Jaber speaks during a news conference the summit on 4 December. Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/AP

Global carbon emissions from fossil fuels reached record levels again in 2023, as experts warned that the projected rate of warming had not improved over the past two years. The world is on track to have burned more coal, oil and gas in 2023 than it did in 2022, according to a report by the Global Carbon Project, pumping 1.1% more planet-heating carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – to 36.8bn tons of CO2 – at a time when emissions must plummet to stop extreme weather from growing more violent. The finding comes as world leaders meet in Dubai for the fraught Cop28 climate summit.

Don’t miss this: Antarctic scientists examine world’s largest iceberg, three times the size of NYC

World’s largest iceberg drifting away from Antarctica captured by drone vision – video

Antarctic scientists have been able to get an “incredibly lucky” inspection of the world’s largest iceberg – about three times the size of New York City – which calved off the icy continent nearly 40 years ago. British scientists on the icebreaking research vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough have now been able to inspect the iceberg in person and release drone vision for the world to see. It measures about 4,000 sq km (1,500 square miles), which is more than twice the size of Greater London. One thing scientists want to determine is how the iceberg is influencing carbon levels in the water.

… or this: ‘Rizz’ named Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year

Tom Holland, who popularized the term rizz, attends the premiere for the film Spider-Man: No Way Home in Los Angeles, California, in 2021.
Tom Holland, who popularized the term rizz, attends the premiere for the film Spider-Man: No Way Home in Los Angeles, California, in 2021. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

“Rizz” has been named as the word of the year by Oxford University Press (OUP), the world’s second oldest academic press and the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. The gen Z slang for “style, charm or attractiveness” or “the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner” beat out other contenders such as “Swiftie” and “situationship”. Rizz is believed to come from the word “charisma”. The word was first recorded in 2022, and went viral in June this year after the Spider-Man actor Tom Holland declared in an interview: “I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz.”

Last Thing: Mulletfest champion crowned in Australia

The Mulletfest 2023 Champion Mitchell White.
The Mulletfest 2023 Champion Mitchell White. Photograph: Roni Bintang/Getty Images

Mitchell White has been crowned the overall winner at Mulletfest in Australia. The event started in 2018 as a way to attract tourists to Kurri Kurri, a town of 6,000 people, and to prevent local pub the Chelmsford Hotel from closing down. It has since soared in popularity, attracting thousands of entrants. Mulletfest honours the best mullet haircuts in various styles and categories, including “everyday”, “grubby”, “ranga” (red hair), “vintage”, “extreme”, “international” and “junior”. The aptly named Alastair Bush, a British doctor, won best international mullet.

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