Lancet: Gaza death toll likely close to 186,000 – National & International News – MON 8Jul2024

Biden says only “Lord Almighty” could convince him to drop out. Many Democrats still unconvinced.

Lancet: Gaza death toll likely close to 186,000.

Left parties win big in French elections; Macron digs in.


Biden says only “Lord Almighty” could convince him to drop out. Many Democrats still unconvinced.

As of this writing, six sitting members of Congress (all Democrats) have come forward to publicly call on President Biden to drop out of the 2024 election. Each representative expressed doubts about Biden’s chances of defeating Donald Trump in November. Some worried that Biden’s poor prospects could translate to losses for Democrats in down-ballot races.

The New York Times reported a conversation with one current senior White House official who believes Biden should step down as the 2024 candidate. The Times described this person has someone who “who has worked with Biden during his presidency, vice presidency and 2020 campaign”. This person said they had observed Biden showing more signs of his age in recent months, and believed Biden no longer has what it takes to campaign against and defeat Trump.

Multiple outlets have now reported that a leading expert in Parkinson’s disease has visited the White House eight times in the last eight months. On at least one of those occasions, the expert met with Biden’s personal physician. White House spokespeople would not directly answer whether this expert was there to treat Biden, saying only that “a wide variety of specialists from the Walter Reed system visit the White House complex to treat thousands of military personnel who work on the grounds”.

Biden defiant in interviews, appearances

Biden sat down for a pre-taped interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday and proclaimed that “only the Lord Almighty” could persuade him to exit the 2024 race. During the 22-minute interview, Biden at times trailed off and his speech was low and halting. He also refused Stephanopoulos’ suggestion that he undergo neurological testing and publish the results to allay voters’ concerns. Biden instead said that the duties he performs every day should serve as a cognitive test.

However, the interview failed to win over many Democrats on Capitol Hill. Reports indicated that the trickle of representatives calling for Biden to step aside may turn into a flood when Congress returned this week. In order to try to get out ahead of that, the White House sent out an open letter essentially reiterating Biden’s intent to stay in the race and calling on Democrats to get in line. “The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now,” the letter stated, “And it’s time for it to end”. The letter told Democrats, “It is time to come together, move forward as a unified party, and defeat Donald Trump”. 

That message may not have landed the way Biden hoped. Rep. Adam Smith, a senior House Democrat, told CNN he was calling on Biden to end his candidacy. Responding to the defiant messaging from the White House, Smith said, “A lot of Democrats are saying: ‘Well let’s move on, let’s stop talking about it’. We are not the ones who are bringing it up. The country is bringing it up. And the campaign strategy of ‘be quiet and fall in line and let’s ignore it’ simply isn’t working.”

Several polls show Biden has fallen even further behind Trump since the debate. It remains to be seen whether more Democrats will speak up this week and whether Biden will be moved by their concerns.



Lancet: Gaza death toll likely close to 186,000

An article in The Lancet, a prestigious medical and scientific journal, estimates that the actual death toll in Israel’s 9-month long assault on Gaza is likely many times the current official death toll. The authors estimate that the true direct and indirect death toll may be around 186,000, or between 7-9% of Gaza’s pre-war population.

Since March, the Gaza health authority’s official death toll has barely crept up from about 36,000 to now just over 38,000. Experts have said for months that this does not reflect the reality, but rather the near-complete collapse of Gaza’s health system under relentless Israeli assaults, sieges and bombardments of Gaza’s main health centers. These institutions are primarily responsible for counting the dead. But when a person is buried under rubble, doesn’t make it into the hospital for treatment, or is summarily executed and buried in the field, these deaths are not counted.

The authors of the article in the Lancet took these factors into account, as well as other factors including lack of access to adequate health care, inability to treat chronic conditions like diabetes, lack of food and water, and lack of sanitation. Based on these aggravating factors, the authors offered a “conservative estimate” of 4 indirect deaths for every death resulting directly from violence. Given the near-total destruction of Gaza’s health system and other civilian infrastructure, the authors say the number of indirect deaths will continue to climb for months or years, even if the conflict were to end today.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Left-wing parties win big in French elections; Macron digs in

When he called a snap election in early June, French President Emanuel Macron apparently did not reckon with widespread anger over his policies. Whether it was widely unpopular domestic reforms which reduced retirement benefits or his militaristic foreign policy, the French people had clearly had enough.

In the first round of voting, it looked as if the far-right coalition of Marine LePen would coast to victory. However, in the second round this weekend, several centrist candidates dropped out of the race and endorsed the left candidates. As a result, the left coalition came first in number of seats, Macron’s centrist coalition second, and LePen’s right-wing coalition came third.

Many in the country breathed a sigh of relief that the far-right had been kept out of power. But uncertainty remains since none of the coalitions won an outright majority. Despite the rather embarrassing defeat for centrism, Macron has vowed to stay on as President until the election in 2027.

As President, it is up to Macron to invite the leaders of each coalition to form a government. Macron has compared LePen’s isolationist and xenophobic far-right coalition to the Nazis. However, Macron also has no fondness for the left, whose firebrand leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has long been an outspoken critic of Macron’s domestic austerity policies. Mélenchon has also criticized Macron’s support for Israel in its military assault on Gaza, which Mélenchon has called a genocide. Mélenchon has called for an arms embargo on Israel (France is one of Israel’s major weapons suppliers) and for the government of France to recognize a Palestinian state. 

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