Colorado authorities are investigating possible threats against State Supreme Court justices, Denver police said on Tuesday – a week after the court barred former President Donald Trump from the State’s presidential primary ballot. The FBI said it was assisting local law enforcement in the investigation. The Denver Police Department also said it was providing “extra patrols” around the homes of the justices, who ruled 4-3 on 19th December that Trump should be disqualified under a little-known clause of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment for engaging in insurrection. Republican strategists have suggested the Colorado ballot ruling, likely headed for a US Supreme Court appeal, would spark a backlash among political conservatives by reinforcing the narrative that Trump is the victim of a partisan legal process. The investigation comes as Trump himself has levelled increasingly inflammatory rhetoric at his perceived enemies in recent days, with the former president posting a Christmas Day message on his Truth Social platform calling on his political opponents to “rot in hell”. On Tuesday, he posted a poll highlighting that the single word voters most associate with a potential second term under his command is “revenge”.
Turkey approves Sweden’s NATO bid
A Turkish parliamentary committee on Tuesday gave the greenlight for Sweden’s NATO membership, clearing another hurdle in the Nordic country’s accession process in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Sweden’s Nato bid had been stalled for months amid opposition from Turkey and Hungary and recently it was further complicated after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked it to Ankara’s request for F-16 fighter jets from its ally, the United States. Sweden and Finland dropped decades of military non-alignment and sought to join the US-led defence organisation after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Their bids won fast-track approval from all NATO members except Turkey and Hungary. Decisions within the alliance must be unanimous. The two ultimately relented and Finland was accepted as NATO’s 31st member in April.
Navalny says he’s fine
After weeks of silence, Russian opponent Alexei Navalny returns to speak on social media from the penal colony in the Russian Arctic where he was transferred. “Don’t worry about me. I’m fine,” wrote the dissident, publishing a series of messages on X in which he describes his transfer – which he says lasted 20 days – and the conditions of detention. “Now I live above the Arctic Circle,” confirms the Russian opponent on social media, where he ironically dscribes himself as “a Santa Claus under a special regime”, alluding to the beard he has grown in the meantime and the heavy clothes due to the cold. “Unfortunately there are no reindeers, but there are huge shepherd dogs,” he says. The 20 days of travel “were quite exhausting, but I’m still in good spirits,” he says, adding he did not expect anyone to find him before mid-January”.
“Gaza war to last months”
Israel’s war on Hamas will last for months, Israel’s military chief said on Tuesday while the United Nations voiced alarm over an escalation of Israeli attacks that killed more than 100 Palestinians over two days in part of the Gaza Strip. Israel’s Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi told reporters in a televised statement on the Gaza border that the war would go on “for many months”. “There are no magic solutions, there are no shortcuts in dismantling a terrorist organisation – only determined and persistent fighting,” Halevi said. “We will reach Hamas’ leadership too, whether it takes a week or if it takes months.”
Israeli actions intensified around Christmas, particularly in a central area just south of the seasonal waterway that bisects the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army told civilians to leave the area, though many said there was no safe place left to go. “We are gravely concerned about the continued bombardment of Middle Gaza by Israeli forces, which has claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives since Christmas Eve,” said UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Seif Magango. “Israeli forces must take all measures available to protect civilians. Warnings and evacuation orders do not absolve them of the full range of their international humanitarian law obligations.” Israel says it is doing what it can to protect civilians, and blames Hamas for putting them in harm’s way by operating among them, which Hamas denies. But even Israel’s closest ally, the United States, has said it should do more to reduce civilian deaths from what President Joe Biden has called “indiscriminate bombing”.
Sigrid Kaag, a Dutch politician and veteran UN diplomat, will take charge of the international body’s effort to bring humanitarian relief to war-ravaged Gaza, the UN Secretary General announced Tuesday – filling a position created this month in a breakthrough UN Security Council resolution. In a post on X, Kaag said that she would resign her position as finance minister and deputy prime minister of the Netherlands to take on the role of UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza. “Peace, security, and justice have always been my motivations,” Kaag said in a statement.
Israel is determined to destroy Hamas despite global calls for a ceasefire in the 11-week-old war and new concerns the conflict could spread, with US and Iran-aligned forces attacking each other elsewhere in the region. Palestinian health authorities said nearly 21,000 people had been killed in Israeli strikes, with thousands more feared buried under rubble. Nearly all of the enclave’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes, many several times.
“PA will return to rule over Gaza” – Abbas
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Tuesday that the PA will return to rule over Gaza despite Israeli opposition, and said that the period following the war will be a “test” for the US to prove that it can keep its word to Ramallah in backing a “revitalised” form of PA rule over the Strip. “We don’t need to return to Gaza, we are already there,” the PA leader repeated multiple times in an interview on the Egyptian ON television channel, stressing that since the PA was ousted from the coastal enclave in 2007, it has continued to pay salaries to thousands of its local employees. He rebuked the US for its continued support for Israel, adding that if the US would simply not use its veto in the UN Security Council, the war would come to an end. Insisting that a Palestinian state must be established in the aftermath of the conflict, Abbas reiterated that it must be composed of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, and suggested that the West Bank could “explode” into further violence.
6 dead in Israeli drone attack on refugee camp
Al Jazeera reports that at least six people died in the Israeli drone attack on the Nur Shams refugee camp east of the city of Tulkarem, in the West Bank. Meanwhile, the Israeli broadcaster Channel 12 quotes the head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal affairs intelligence agency, Ronen Bar, warning that the commander-in-chief of the West Bank army could be at risk due to far-right threats. Bar wrote a letter that was sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, and all government ministers, stating that criticism against Yehuda Fox “could result in a threat to the general’s life by extremists”.
Iraq slams US after deadly strikes on pro-Iran forces
US air strikes targeting pro-Iranian forces in Iraq claimed at least one life and drew an angry response from Baghdad on Tuesday amid high regional tensions over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Iraq condemned as “a clear hostile act” the overnight US strikes, saying they had killed one member of the security forces and wounded 18 other people, including civilians. Washington has repeatedly targeted sites used by Iran and its proxy forces in Iraq and Syria in response to more than 100 attacks on American and allied forces since the 7th October outbreak of the Gaza war. Yet another rocket barrage was fired later on Tuesday morning at US and allied forces in Syria, at an American patrol base in Al-Shaddadi, but without causing casualties or damage, said a US military official. The United States now has about 2,500 soldiers deployed in Iraq and around 900 in Syria as part of efforts to prevent a resurgence of the jihadist Islamic State group.
Houthis attack ship on the Red Sea
Yemen’s Houthis said they attacked a ship in the Red Sea and launched a drone towards Israel. In a statement, the Houthis said they had “carried out a targeting operation against a commercial vessel”, identified as MSC United, and launched a series of “drones against military targets” in southern Israel. The operations were carried out as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinians.
8 dead, 1 missing after storms hit Australia
At least eight people have been killed with one still missing after severe storms battered Australia’s eastern states over the Christmas holidays, bringing down trees and power lines and leaving tens of thousands of households without power. Police and rescue services in the states of Victoria and Queensland confirmed the deaths of eight people, the youngest a nine-year-old girl who was reportedly swept away in a flooded storm drain on the outskirts of Brisbane, Queensland’s capital. In Gympie, some 180km north of the city, three women were swept into a storm drain. Severe thunderstorms hit the eastern states on Tuesday and Wednesday bringing large hailstones, high winds and torrential rains. Rivers flooded and high winds blew off roofs and brought down trees in some of the worst-affected areas.
South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun found dead
South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, famous for his role in the film Parasite which triumphed at the 2020 Oscars, was found dead today in what appears to be a suicide. Yonhap news agency reported the 48-year-old was found inside a vehicle in the centre of Seoul. Lee Sun-kyun was under investigation on suspicion of using cannabis and other psychotropic drugs. This scandal had tarnished his image as a successful actor by depriving him of television appearances and advertising contracts. Lee appeared in several feature films by director Hong Sang-soo but it was with Parasite, under the direction of Bong Joon-ho, that he achieved international fame. His latest film Sleep, where he plays the role of a sleepwalking husband who terrorises his wife, was presented out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year. He told journalists late October, before an interrogation at a police station: “I sincerely apologise for disappointing many people by being involved in such an unfortunate incident”.
Main photo: Getty Images