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  • Colonial Pipeline back online amid gas shortage following cyberattack

    The Colonial Pipeline has returned to operations following a cyberattack that snarled gas supply for the eastern U.S. for days, according to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

    "Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal," Colonial Pipeline said in a statement. "Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period."

    "Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal," the statement added.

    Hackers had demanded millions in ransom money – which the pipeline operator refused to pay, enlisting help from the Department of Energy, as well as federal, state and local authorities instead. Earlier this week, the company had resumed partial operations under manual control, according to a Wednesday statement from Deputy Energy Secretary Dave Turk.

    Colonial said safety would be its "primary focus" following the restart. The pipeline operator will conduct a series of safety assessments to comply with federal guidelines.

    "This is the first step in the restart process and would not have been possible without the around-the-clock support of Colonial Pipeline’s dedicated employees who have worked tirelessly to help us achieve this milestone," the company said.

    The ransomware attack, attributed to this Russian hacking group Darkside, targeted a 5,500-mile pipeline responsible for more than 100 million gallons of fuel a day – nearly half of the East Coast’s supply.

    The pipeline was forced to shut down some of its systems last Friday in response to the ransomware attack. The shutdown impacted fuel deliveries and triggered instances of panic-buying amid concerns of a shortage. Several governors declared states of emergency in response to the crisis.


  • Death Toll Rises as Israel-Hamas Fighting Intensifies

    TEL AVIV—Israel’s military said it killed 14 senior Hamas commanders and officials as it intensified its airstrikes targeting the militant group in Gaza, as a wave of communal clashes between Jewish and Arab Israelis spread within the country’s borders.

    Palestinian health ministry officials say the Israeli air campaign has killed 65 people since Monday, including 16 children. Six Israelis, including one child, have died in intense Hamas rocket barrages that began Monday evening, and one soldier died in an anti-tank missile attack.

    Meanwhile, chaos also spread inside Israel as the conflagration connected to tensions over the contested city of Jerusalem this week took on a new dimension, with clashes between Jews and Arabs in mixed Israeli cities intensifying Wednesday evening. This was in spite of a massive deployment of border police around the country aimed at calming tensions and restoring order.

    Arab Israelis are the descendants of Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 war that established the country.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday night that he would be sending in the military and border police across the country to restore order. “Citizens of Israel, I don’t care if your blood boils. You cannot take the law into your own hands,” he said in a late Wednesday television addresss.

    In Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv, a Jewish mob viciously attacked a man they believed to be Arab but was actually Jewish, according to video of the incident that Israeli public broadcaster KANN showed live on air. The video showed a large group kicking the man as he was lying on the ground.

    In Acre, in northern Israel, a Jewish Israeli was severely injured after Arab Israelis threw rocks at him and beat him with iron bars, according to Israeli police and video circulating on social media. In Haifa, also in northern Israel, Jews threw rocks at an Arab man in a car, according to Israeli media. The man accelerated and hit one of the people in the mob surrounding him, wounding him, the reports said.

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that he was dispatching Hady Amr, the senior State Department official with the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio, to Israel on Wednesday to try to encourage mediation efforts as the fighting intensifies.

    Since Monday, Israel has struck over 500 targets in Gaza, including overnight raids targeting what Israel’s military said were senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials, some inside their houses. The attacks have upended life for millions of people in Gaza and reduced swaths of the city—about twice the size of Washington, D.C.—to rubble.

    Jamileh Tawfiq, 24 years old, who lives in Gaza City, said bombing raids Wednesday morning filled her apartment with suffocating smoke and the screams of her nieces. “All of a sudden, Gaza has turned into a war zone,” she said. “We’re experiencing the most terrifying and uncomfortable kind of silence between each bombing.”

    Hamas has launched more than 1,500 rockets toward Israel, including 350 that fell short and landed inside Gaza, according to Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman. Hundreds have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome System. Col. Conricus said Israel sent two infantry brigades and an armored brigade to the border to prepare for possible ground operations. “No specific orders given yet as to what to do on the ground but…preparing for various scenarios,” he said.

    Israel has also targeted high-rise buildings it says Hamas is using as military sites, causing several structures to collapse. Col. Conricus said Israel’s military fired warning shots and called people in the buildings to make sure they could evacuate before the attacks took place.

    Ahmad Alsaaym, the owner of one of the buildings that was hit, said he was able to leave before the strike but escaped with little but his own life. “What do I say, I lost my house, business and everything I have in front of my eyes,” he said. The losses included new clothing that he had bought his children for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. “I’ll buy new ones for them today, and we will celebrate Eid and our victory with getting Jerusalem and Palestine back,” he said.

    Sirens wailed Wednesday morning in the coastal city of Tel Aviv and loud booms could be heard overhead, rattling apartment buildings. Hamas rockets have hit houses, buses, vehicles, streets and other civilian infrastructure, killing six and injuring more than 200 people since Monday evening.

    Beverley Jamil, 58 years old, who lives in Ashkelon, said the past 48 hours have been “a nightmare” with constant sirens disrupting every facet of daily life. Ms. Jamil said she had lost track of how many times she has had to sprint to her rocket shelter.

    “It’s a ghost town,” she said. “It’s warm out, the children should be out playing in the playground, the beach would have people there. There’s nobody anywhere.”

    Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the militant group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. The two sides have seen several escalations since spring 2018 that have almost developed into full-blown conflict.

    The current fighting stems from frustrations old and new. Palestinian grievances arose over what they see as years of efforts by Israel to push them out of Jerusalem, fanned by a pending court decision on evictions. Clashes have erupted over access to the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, heightened by a heavy handed Israeli police response that used stun grenades and other riot dispersal methods to respond when they said people at the site were throwing stones at them.

    These tensions are now spreading inside the country, as Israeli police clash with Arab Israeli demonstrators in cities nationwide and Jewish mobs target Arab citizens of Israel.

    Two Arab Israelis were killed by rockets overnight in the city of Lod, near the airport, where large violent riots have taken place. Violent demonstrators there set fire to a synagogue and burned vehicles, prompting Mr. Netanyahu to deploy 16 border police platoons declare a state of emergency in the city. The police instituted an overnight curfew as part of efforts to gain control.


  • Senator Shelby: ‘The rule of law must be restored for the good of this country’

    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Wednesday tore into the Biden administration for selectively picking and choosing which laws to enforce based purely on political considerations — a mentality that Alabama’s senior senator emphasized is a direct threat to the rule of law in America.

    Shelby’s comments came as opening remarks during the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ hearing focused on domestic violent extremism in the United States. During the hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before the committee, of which Shelby is the vice chair.

    “The rule of law – the very foundation upon which America was built – is paramount to our future as Americans and the future of our democracy. Selective enforcement of our nation’s laws erodes that foundation,” Shelby said.

    He underscored that “our country cannot afford to pick and choose the laws we enforce.”

    Addressing Garland and Mayorkas, Shelby then lamented, “And yet, we watch that happen every day.”

    “Domestic violent extremists threaten the rule of law,” the senator continued. “But so too does turning a blind eye to the flood of illegal immigration at our southern border.”

    Shelby outlined his thoughts on both of those issues.

    “First, violent extremism is a very serious topic. Unfortunately, many of my Democratic colleagues have sought to make it about politics and race. They would have the American people believe that all domestic violent extremists are far-right wing white supremacists, and that all Republicans are complicit in their actions,” he remarked. “Of course, both are false.”

    “I believe the overwhelming majority of Americans watched the events of January 6 with shock and horror,” Shelby affirmed.

    The Tuscaloosa County resident then alluded to seemingly selective outrage by many Democrats.

    “I also believe that just as many watched the endless string of riots in cities across America last summer with the same emotions,” he continued.

    “They saw Antifa thugs beat and intimidate innocent people,” Shelby explained. “They saw violent anarchists burn police cars and precincts and attack law enforcement officers. They saw far-left extremists hijack Seattle and destroy the livelihoods of so many small business owners. And they saw Black Lives Matter activists trash cities and loot businesses from coast to coast, night after night.”

    Shelby emphasized, “None of these actions are excusable – not those of January 6 and not those of last summer. They are all wrong. They all violate the rule of law.”

    “Yet in the face of this utter contempt for the rule of law, so many have chosen to stand idly by, excusing one while condemning another,” he decried.

    “Such rationalization of inappropriate and even illegal behavior is dangerous, and I believe the American people see right through it. Moreover, it is dangerous for our leaders and law enforcement to focus on one threat to our nation while ignoring another. Such behavior raises questions as to whether justice is still blind and whether the rule of law still has meaning and force in America,” the venerable senator added.

    He subsequently questioned whether the American people watching the hearing could believe that federal authorities take an apolitical approach to combatting violent extremism.

    Shelby also called for the embrace of “a uniform approach to enforcing all the laws that are on the books.”

    “That includes our immigration laws,” he stressed.

    Shelby continued his remarks on the topic of immigration and the rule of law.


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