First Thing: UN warns of ‘full-scale war’ amid Israel-Gaza violence

<span>Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning. The UN’s Middle East envoy issued a stark warning that “we’re escalating towards a full-scale war” as violence between Israeli jets and Palestinian militants continued this morning, bringing the death toll to 45.

Tor Wennesland, who is expected to brief the UN security council on the crisis today, urged leaders on all sides to “take the responsibility of de-escalation”. “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full-scale war,” he said.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza and Palestinian militants fired rockets at Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and Beersheba. Since the attacks started on Monday night, marking the worst violence since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, 39 people have died in Gaza, including 12 children, and six in Israel.

Earlier, Israel’s defence minister, Benny Gantz, said the strikes were “just the beginning”. The Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said: “If Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it”.

  • The violence has caught the Biden administration unprepared, writes Julian Borger, the Guardian’s world affairs editor. He says the White House needs to quickly decide how to deal with Trump’s legacy of unwavering support for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • What has caused Jerusalem’s worst violence in years? Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes explains.

  • Defiance in the face of Israeli aggression gives Palestinians everywhere hope, writes Ziad al-Qattan.

Liz Cheney prepares to be ousted by fellow Republicans

Liz Cheney is expected to be removed from her leadership position in the Republican caucus of the House of Representatives today over her outspoken criticism of Donald Trump and his role in the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.

The Wyoming congresswoman is likely to be ousted from her post as the no 3 House Republican and replaced by the New York representative Elise Stefanik after a vote this morning by members of the caucus.

In a defiant last stand on the House floor last night, the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney and lifelong staunch conservative said: “I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”

  • This is not the first time Cheney has faced the threat of removal, but she has previously survived due to support from members of the party’s leadership. This time, having lost support from key allies, including the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a reprieve is highly unlikely.

  • What are the wider implications? Cheney’s situation is an indication of the enduring strength of the former president and viewed as a litmus test for the direction of the Republican party.

  • But not all Republicans are on board. Mitt Romney tweeted earlier this week:

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  • Meanwhile, two Trump family members – the former president’s daughter Tiffany and ex-daughter in-law Vanessa – got “inappropriately close” to Secret Service agents, a new book claims.

California governor has put forward a $12bn plan to tackle the state’s homelessness crisis

A woman at Echo Park homeless encampment in Los Angeles. California has more people who are homeless than any other state.
A woman at Echo Park homeless encampment in Los Angeles. California has more people who are homeless than any other state. Photograph: Damian Dovarganes/AP

Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a $12bn plan to tackle California’s homelessness crisis, calling the situation “unacceptable”.

Under the plan, which will need to win support from the state legislature, $8.75bn would be spent over two years on building 46,000 housing units and nearly half the money would be spent on housing that provides onsite services for people with mental health and behavioural issues. $3.5bn would be spent on rental subsidies, new housing and shelter, with the goal of ending family homelessness within five years.

“As governor I actually want to get something done. I don’t want to talk about this for a decade,” said Newsom, who faces a recall election later this year. He added: “What’s happening on our streets and sidewalks is unacceptable.”

How big is California’s homelessness problem? The state, which is America’s most populated, has an estimated 161,000 people who are homeless – more than any other state. Experts say they cannot house people fast enough amid a housing shortage and high rents.

Americans have been warned to stop panic-buying gasoline

Service stations in Atlanta, Georgia ran out of gasoline last night following the Colonial pipeline hack.
Service stations in Atlanta, Georgia ran out of gasoline last night following the Colonial pipeline hack. Photograph: Thaddaeus McAdams/REX/Shutterstock

Americans have been warned against hoarding gasoline amid shortages and long lines after a major pipeline was shut down by hackers.

More than 1,000 gas stations in the south and east coast have run out of fuel – largely due to drivers panic-buying after a cyber-attack on Colonial pipeline on Friday.

The US energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, urged drivers not to stockpile. “Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline,” she said in a White House briefing, adding that the pipeline was expected to be “substantially operational” by the end of the week.

  • What’s the significance of the attack? Colonial pipeline is America’s biggest fuel pipeline and carries about 45% of the east coast’s fuel supply. Its targeting has raised questions about the vulnerability of the country’s critical infrastructure.

In other news …

  • The actor Norman Lloyd, who starred in the Alfred Hitchcock film Saboteur and TV series St Elsewhere, has died aged 106. His manager said he died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He also starred in the Hitchcock thriller Spellbound, The Southerner, Limelight (alongside Charlie Chaplin), Dead Poets Society and Gangs of New York.

  • A 23-year-old Los Angeles film-maker has sued the LA police department claiming that his uncle, an LAPD officer, ordered him to be shot by projectiles during last summer’s George Floyd protests. According to a complaint filed on Monday, Asim Jamal Shakir Jr joined demonstrations in downtown LA on the evening of 29 May 2020 and was livestreaming police when he spotted his uncle, Eric Anderson, among the officers, who allegedly told him to go home and motioned for an officer to shoot a “less-than-lethal” rifle at him.

  • One in four cities around the world cannot afford climate crisis protection measures – despite more than 90% facing serious risks, new research has found. Issues facing cities include flooding, overheating, infrastructure damage from extreme weather and water shortages. The survey, by the Carbon Disclosure Project, also found that last year about 45% of cities did not have a plan to adapt to climate crisis problems.

Stat of the day: Idaho is going to kill 90% of the state’s wolves

New legislation will allow professional hunters and trappers to kill 90% of the Idaho’s wolves – reducing their estimated population from 1,500 to just 150. It comes after the Trump administration ordered the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. There are 108 wolves in Washington, 158 in Oregon and 15 in California, the latest USFWS data shows. In Nevada, Utah and Colorado they are “functionally extinct”.

Don’t miss this: The woman trying to trade a bobby pin for an entire house

In what she calls “a bit of an F U to capitalism”, a woman from San Francisco is trying to trade her way from a bobby pin to a house. Inspired by a Ted Talk by Kyle MacDonald, who traded 14 times to get from a red paperclip to a house in 2006, Demi Skipper uses services such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and eBay to try to trade her way towards getting her own home. So far her trades have included a bobby pin for earrings, a snowboard for a vacuum cleaner and Bose headphones for a MacBook, writes Neelam Tailor.

… or this: the New York mayoral candidates who wildly underestimated the cost of a home in Brooklyn

Two New York mayoral candidates, including Barack Obama’s housing secretary, were forced to backtrack after they wrongly estimated the median cost of buying a home in Brooklyn. With less than six weeks to go until the city’s mayoral primaries, Shaun Donovan, who worked for the Obama administration, and Ray McGuire, a former Citigroup executive, guessed $100,000 and $80,000 to $90,000 respectively. The answer was $900,000.

Last Thing: Alexa, who are you? New book names Amazon’s secret voiceover artist

The sound of Alexa is a ubiquitous feature of many homes but the identity behind the voice of Amazon’s virtual assistant has never been revealed – until now. A new book, Amazon Unbound by Brad Stone, claims the person behind the familiar voice is the Colorado-based voiceover artist Nina Rolle. He said he managed to identify her after “canvasing the professional voiceover community”.

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