Regardless of the pressure on Israel, or indeed the United States, a ceasefire does not appear imminent

Israel carries out deadliest strike as fighting with Hamas reaches 2nd week
MAY 17, 202103:18
So far more than 3,000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza strip at Israeli territory. The Iron Dome air defense system has intercepted approximately 90 percent of the rockets, the Israeli military said.

Over the weekend, the escalating violence prompted United Nations Security Council diplomats and Muslim foreign ministers to hold emergency meetings with representatives calling for an end to the civilian bloodshed.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres described the violence as “appalling” and called on the fighting to “stop immediately.”

China has accused the U.S. of blocking the Security Council from issuing a joint statement on the escalating violence in the region.

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“Regrettably, simply because of the obstruction of one country, the Security Council hasn’t been able to speak with one voice,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the virtual meeting Sunday.

“We call upon the U.S. to shoulder its due responsibilities, take a just position and together with most of the international community support the Security Council in easing the situation, rebuilding trust and advancing political settlement.”

The United States ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told Security Council that the U.S. had been working “tirelessly” to try to bring an end to the conflict.

“The United States has made clear that we are prepared to lend our support and good offices should the parties seek a ceasefire,” she said.

Image: A member of Sror family inspect the rocket damage to their apartment in Petah Tikva, Israel, on Thursday.
A member of Sror family inspect the rocket damage to their apartment in Petah Tikva, Israel, on Thursday.Oded Balilty / AP
Pressure is mounting on the U.S., Israel’s most important and powerful ally, for more action on the crisis. U.S. Department of State envoy Hady Amr has been dispatched to the region for de-escalation talks, while President Joe Biden has also reaffirmed the U.S.’ staunch support for Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks from Gaza.

In the U.S., Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., led a group of 29 senators calling for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further loss of life. Last week, a handful of progressive Democrats criticized the administration’s handling of the crisis and called on it to elevate support for the Palestinian cause from the fringes to the mainstream.

Press freedom advocates have condemned an Israeli airstrike Saturday that hit a Gaza building that housed offices of international media, disrupting coverage of the conflict. Israel’s military defended targeting the tower, saying Hamas had a military intelligence office in the building and used journalists as human shields, but did not provide evidence for its claims.

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Regardless of the pressure on Israel, or indeed the United States, a ceasefire does not appear imminent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel planned to continue its military operation against Hamas “at full force” despite any “international pressures.”

Egypt’s state news agency reported Sunday that the country had opened the Rafah border crossing into Gaza so that the wounded could be evacuated. Egyptian aid was also on its way to the enclave, it reported.

The land, air and sea blockade of Gaza, which Hamas seized control of from the forces of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007, has had a devastating impact on Gaza’s civilians and sent poverty and unemployment skyrocketing.

Lumber hit an all-time high of $1,686 per thousand board feet this month, surging by 406 percent from the $333 it was trading at the same time last year.

By Alex Seitz-Wald and Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — If a tree falls in a Canadian forest and a logger has to drive 16 hours to haul it out, does it crush the U.S. president’s economic agenda?

That improbable question may be on the minds of some in Washington as skyrocketing prices of lumber to used cars to corn seed have emerged as troubling signs for the post-pandemic economic boom President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are counting on to keep them in power.

Consumer demand is shooting up as some Covid-19 restrictions fall. But the supply chain has had trouble keeping up, pushing prices higher and leading to shortages.

Government data from April showed disappointing job growth and an unexpected jump in consumer prices. Basic commodities like copper and iron ore are at all-time highs; gas prices are over $3 a gallon, and analysts were warning of gas shortages even before the recent dayslong shutdown of a key pipeline; and a scarcity of computer chips has forced manufacturers to halt the production of cars, home appliances and more.

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U.S. economy adds fewer jobs than expected in April
MAY 8, 202102:08
Add it all up and some economists, like Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, worry that the country is about to experience its first real bout of rapid inflation since the 1970s, when swelling costs undercut the value of peoples’ wages and savings — and helped bring down President Jimmy Carter.

“Inflation is the kryptonite of American politics,” Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis said. “It doesn’t matter which party you are. It destroys you.”

So far, the price hikes are isolated mostly to specific industries. Lumber this month hit an all-time high of $1,686 per thousand board feet, having surged by 406 percent from the $333 per thousand board feet it was trading at the same time a year ago and by 438 percent from its price five years ago.

Just as the country is coming out of the woods of the pandemic, it is running out of wood. Prices have tripled, and some builders are having trouble finding any at all. Lowly plywood is so valuable that workers keep it under lock and key after a raft of thefts.

In the forests of British Columbia, which supplies much of America’s two-by-fours, logger Chace Barber has been feeding the seemingly insatiable demand by driving up to 16 hours to fetch logs he wouldn’t have even bothered with when prices were lower.

“I can’t find a log trailer for sale anywhere. I’ve got two trucks I want to get hauling, and I can’t find a trailer anywhere. You talk to the manufacturer and they say there’s a year-and-a-half wait,” he said. “And you can’t find log truck drivers. Everyone who can and wants to drive a log truck is already driving a log truck.”