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Trump introducing his Never Surrender sneakers at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia on February 17.,

Never Surrender the Gold Lamé

Fresh off his latest legal triumph - payment due of $355 million - and his yuge win in historians' annual presidential ranking - dead last as Worst. President. Ever. - the "greatest con artist in world history" has unveiled his latest trashy, loutish grift: $400, ugly-ass, gold-spray-painted "Never Surrender" high-top sneakers, "Bold, gold and tough, just like President (sic) Trump." And just like his steak, water, vodka, airline, deodorant, board game, casinos and mugshot mugs, he says, "I think it’s gonna be a big success."

Lately, it's true, success has been scant for the one-time master of The Art of the (crooked) Deal. President's Day brought the glum news that, while political scholarsranked AbeLincoln America's best leader - Obama was #7, Biden #14 - they again deemed the orange former president and current 91-count perp the worst president in America's history, by the biggest margin on the list: "It’s bad. Like, way behind James Buchanan bad." Days before, there was the stunning $355 million fine imposed by Judge Arthur Engeron in Trump's civil fraud trial - plus court-imposed interest of $100 million that will increase daily - bringing the total he owes to $542 million and counting. And Engeron didn't hold back: On chicanery and fraud "that shock the conscience," he offered a blistering "road map to Trump's thievery" as a "remorseless con artist" whose every act is "based on consistent and shameless cheating, deceiving, falsifying documents and lying" in order to "rip off everyone he can."

Trump responded to yet another loss in court with his usual contrition and grace. Just kidding. Obviously, he raved. Engeron is a "CORRUPT AND MANY TIMES OVERTURNED ‘JUDGE.’" James is a "RADICAL LEFT SOROS BACKED SLOB OF AN ATTORNEY GENERAL." Once again, "NOTHING LIKE THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED IN OUR COUNTRY BEFORE," also, "THIS IS COMMUNISM." Because he's 12, it is "ALL POLITICAL PROSECUTIONS OF YOUR FAVORITE PRESIDENT, ME." In an especially depraved touch, he even managed to make Putin's political assassination of Navalny not about a murderous thug eradicating a man of courage and conscience, but about himself and being held to account for his petty crimes. "The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country," he jabbered. "It is a slow, steady progression... leading us down a path to destruction." At a Tuesday Fox town hall, he went full, oblivious slime: "It's a form of Navalny." Fucking cretin.

In response, he's turned to what he's always turned to in a self-serving, small-minded life: grifting. And hawking his endless crap with pitches as tawdry as the soulless ghoul whose name it bears: "The world's greatest steaks," vodka that's "taken off like crazy," an airline that "had more people than anyone else," suits to "guarantee you're always board-room ready," mattresses, vitamins, casinos, shirts, ties, water, wine, candles, cookies, earrings, robes, blankets, speakers, pickleball paddles (on sale for $147.45!). There's Trump the Game - get "everything you ever wanted to own!" - Success and Empire deodorants - from reviews: "Smells like flop sweat, Adderall and cowardice," "There is nothing about this product I find acceptable," "No one loves Empire Deodorant more than me..We're going to have so many Empire Deodorants you're going to get sick of Empire Deodorant." It all crashed and burned. This year, he added digital trading cards - "the greatest trading cards in history" - pieces of a suit he wore to court - "it was a great suit" - and mugs saying "Never Surrender" with the mugshot from his surrender.

Now there are sneakers. The day after Citizen Trump got that $355 million slap from Judge Engeron, he turned up at two events. One was a campaign rally in Michigan, where he bellowed to 2,000 supporters in a freezing plane hangar about "repulsive abuses of power" by miscreant judges and prosecutors - "crooked," "a lunatic," "an animal" - who are "set(ting) fire to our laws like no one has ever seen in this country before." The other was, incongruously, Sneaker Con, “The Greatest Sneaker Show on Earth," in (very blue) Philadelphia, where before an atypically young, diverse, weed-wafting crowd he launched his very own "official sneaker" - the hideous, cheesy, gold--sprayed "Never Surrender High-Tops," with flag and T, just $399. "I have some incredible people that work with me on things, and they came up with this," he said, clutching the garish monstrosities in his teeny hands as the crowd began booing. "This is something I’ve been talking about for 12 years, 13 years, and I think it’s gonna be a big success."

Except for a red sole, and in keeping with his Richie-Rich Trump vision of wealth, his "incredible people" had slathered the entire shoe plus laces in gold spray, inevitably inviting jokes about golden showers, clown shoes and trippy Democratic competitors. "That's the real deal," he boasted of his blinding creation. Except for one shrieky MAGA hysteric - "We need him! He's a good man! "- sneakerheads were not impressed. Boos rose from the crowd, along with a wave of "Go Biden!" chants. “Wow, a lot of emotion, there’s a lot of emotion in this room! Thank you!," Trump burbled above the din. Then the old, desperate ploy: "The nice thing is...We have lines going around the block..They've never seen anything like it!" One observer: "A needier man has never existed." Other skeptics summoned visions of Four Seasons Total Landscaping and My Pillow Guy morphing into My Sneaker Guy. Michael Steele: "This is what it's come to." Charlie Pierce: "He's one step from selling counterfeit CDs from a card table on 2nd Avenue."

The shouty GetTrumpSneakers website - "For the First Time Ever! Buy Now! Special Offer!" - warns they're "Super Limited!" so "with millions of fans, get these before they sell out!" "Join Trump's sneaker community!" it gushes about a tubby loser who's likely never worn a sneaker. "Be a part of history!" There are 1000 pairs, each is numbered, 10 will be autographed, limit 3 pairs per person, buy 2 or more for a (lousy) 5% off, "bonuses" include extra laces, an "exclusive Trump Superhero charm" (don't ask), a chance for 2 tickets to a launch party, date TBD, no guarantee the perp will attend. There are also low-top, "45"-bedecked sneakers in "T-Red” or “POTUS” white for $199. Also Victory47 perfume in a golden bottle with a Trump-head stopper for $99: "Our fragrances are curated to capture the essence of success and determination...symbolizing victory and strength." Or per wiseacres: "That sweet smell of guilty verdict and federal prison chow," also (diluted) turpentine, cat urine, bleach, but drink or inject?

It's "a tribute to the Trump legacy, blending premium craftsmanship with a distinctive style...symbolizing leadership and patriotism." Just one glitch: The sneakers evidently don't exist. The FAQs tell the tale. Shipping dates are 5 and 6 months away; the response to, "Why such a long lead time?" is that they're "made to order." Scammers gonna scam: They also haven't been made, though they'll be coming any day like the health, infrastructure, immigration etc plans. To the query, "Will I be getting the exact sneaker on the site?" comes, "The images shown are for illustration purposes only...WE MAKE NO WARRANTIES (sic) IN RELATION TO THE ACCURACY OF ANY INFORMATION ON THE WEBSITE." So, you might get, like, a Trump steak or Empire deodorant stick instead? Hey, if you're lucky you'll get this fabulous Trump Doll Collection with the whole family: Melania, who came from a Ukrainian website, Don Jr., "my other son," and two anatomically correct Ivankas, "a personal fantasy of mine, actually." Act now, this offer is going fast.

Likewise suspiciously, less than a day after his gold-spray-painted grotesqueries appeared, the website announced they were "SOLD OUT!" Theories abound. A single, foreign entity - starts with R, ends with a, symbolized by a bear? - "bought" them all in an illegal cash transfer to Trump in exchange for stolen U.S. military secrets. The too-reasonable price is only for the right sneakers; the left were in a container ship shot up by the Houthis, were pushed overboard, washed ashore and are being sold on Craig's List in Yemen. The sneakers that don't yet exist will be made in Ivanka's Chinese sweat shops for $4.50 a pair, to then surface online for insane prices. (Wait, that's already happened: At the launch some imbecile paid $9,000 for a pair, and several pairs are on sale or have sold on eBay for up to $7,500.) Or the whole scheme is already a wash because French designer Christian Louboutin, who has trademarked red-soled shoes and won several lawsuits on the issue, represents one courtroom too far.

Given Trump's sketchy legal and financial history, the last option seems plausible. He's had at least 15 failed businesses, apart from a failed presidency, and been involved in over 4,000 related legal cases in federal and state courts. He's been a crook most or all of his life, with associations to prove it: Over the years, his "crime-infested" Trump Tower has been shady home to a long list of felons, fraudsters, money launderers, tax evaders and Russian mobsters. Just recently, over a dozen of his lawyers have quit, abandoning his bourgeoning legal quagmires. A narcissistic asshole who's never been held to account, he's also had a running cease-and-desist battle with over a dozen artists whose music he regularly, heedlessly rips off; they've blasted his "craven political purposes," told him, "Fuck you. Stop playing my song," and called him "the anti-Christ." His crappy high-tops will presumably suffer the low-life fate of all his other shoddy ventures, whether before or after his 91 felonies do him in.

Above all, regardless of legality, is the crude, dumpster-fire vulgarity of it Behold, a sort-of former president and current OMFG presidential contender peddling bootleg, cheapjack, "fashion-mangled" off-whites "designed with all the crayons and colored sharpies he didn’t eat or stick up his nose." It's beyond unseemly, even for him. "I've seen many, many tasteless things in my nearly 64 years on Earth, but as God is my witness those shoes are the absolute most tacky items I’ve ever seen," writes one horrified patriot. "It’s as though all that Trump is has been boiled down and molded into sneaker form." Another suggests they look like "Trump's arrogance in shoe form," the "kind of sneaker you’d expect from a man who created a fake university named after himself and had to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits accusing him of fraud. They’re the go-to athletic shoe for people fleeing responsibility." Or, per the kitschy, tatty Trump brand, "cheap and ugly,...and very, very dumb."

To be fair, Never-Surrenders have their fans. "Perfect to distract my Labrador from destroying my 5th pair of Birkenstocks!" says one. Also, flat bottom is "perfect for slowly walking down ramps!" And okay for Halloween clown get-up if they're in K-Mart $4.99 bin. Others suggest Trump should stick with Nazi jack-boots, or get $14.98 high-tops at Wal-Mart, $5.98 Rustoleum gold spray paint and $1.99 little flag thingies and call it a day. There were questions: Do they come with a built-in ankle monitor? Do they cause or fix bone spurs? Can you say 'child labor'? Will he ever run out of stupid shit to slap his worthless name on? And "who in the time-altered universe is going to WEAR these monstrosities? I mean, LOOK AT THEM!!!!!!" Most vitally, "People should see what a hollow figure he is. Evil, traitorous, immoral, yes. But ultimately a sad little man." And, "Someday he’ll be scratching his brand name onto his cell wall painstakingly with a toothbrush. Then he’ll realize he forgot a letter and have to scratch it out and start over again. He’ll have time."

Plastic pollution

Big Oil, Plastics Industry Led 'Campaign of Deception' to Push Recycling Fraud

The petrochemical industry—including major oil companies like ExxonMobil—knew for decades that recycling was not a sustainable solution to the problem of plastic waste, yet continued to promote it in order to avoid regulation and deceive consumers into continuing to buy and use their products, a report released Thursday by the Center for Climate Integrity reveals.

The report, titled The Fraud of Plastic Recycling: How Big Oil and the Plastics Industry Deceived the Public for Decades and Caused the Plastic Waste Crisis, includes newly disclosed industry documents proving that companies and trade groups knew that plastics could not be recycled indefinitely in the 1980s and 90s even as they launched a massive public relations campaign to sell voters and policymakers on the process.

"This evidence shows that many of the same fossil fuel companies that knew and lied for decades about how their products cause climate change have also known and lied to the public about plastic recycling," Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) president Richard Wiles said in a statement. "The oil industry's lies are at the heart of the two most catastrophic pollution crises in human history."

Plastic pollution is a major environmental and public health crisis. If current trends continue, plastics are expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050, and the toxic fumes from plastic production facilities and incineration are a major environmental justice hazard for frontline communities. Humans in general also ingest an estimated credit-card's worth of plastic each week, with unknown but potentially serious health impacts.

Recycling is often touted as a solution for keeping plastic out of the environment, but this has proven to be ineffective and insufficient: More than 90% of the plastics disposed of between 1950 and 2015 were either burnt, sent to landfills, or dumped into the environment. There are several technical and economic reasons why plastic recycling doesn't work at scale. Plastics lose quality as they are recycled and can only really be reused once or potentially twice. The decline in quality also means that recycled plastics are more likely to leach toxins added during production or picked up from other waste items. Economically, it is cheaper to produce new plastics than recycle older ones, and only two types of plastic—PET and HDPE—actually attract markets that will recycle them.

The industry has long been aware of these limitations. In 1969, the American Chemical Society declared, "It is always possible that scientists and engineers will learn to recycle or dispose of wastes at a profit, but that does not seem likely to happen soon on a broad basis."

"We are committed to the activities, but not committed to the results."

Despite this, petrochemical companies and their trade groups began to push plastic recycling in the 1980s and 90s as a response to growing public concern over plastic waste, and the threat that this would lead to bans on plastic products.

"No doubt about it, legislation is the single most important reason why we are looking at recycling," Wayne Pearson, the executive director of industry front group the Plastics Recycling Foundation and a DuPont marketing director, said in 1988.

The plastics industry used various strategies to sell the public on recycling, according to the report. These included:

  1. Funding front groups to promote recycling;
  2. Running ad and PR campaigns;
  3. Investing in recycling research to convince the public that it was taking action;
  4. Setting unrealistic internal recycling goals;
  5. Writing educational material promoting recycling to school children;
  6. Advocating for "advanced recycling," a term for breaking plastics down to chemical components that can theoretically be reused but are not in practice; and
  7. Claiming, against evidence, that recycling can be part of a "circular economy."
CCI provides new evidence that, while the industry was employing these strategies, it was simultaneously aware of recycling's limitations.

For example, a report from the Vinyl Institute trade group concluded in 1986 that "recycling cannot be considered a permanent solid waste solution, as it merely prolongs the time until an item is disposed of."

In 1994, Exxon Chemical Vice President Irwin Levowitz told employees of the American Plastics Council that "we are committed to the activities, but not committed to the results."

CCI argued that the petrochemical industry should face legal consequences for its "campaign of deception" similar to suits brought against tobacco and opioid companies.

"When corporations and trade groups know that their products pose grave risks to society, and then lie to the public and policymakers about it, they must be held accountable," Wiles said. "Accountability means stopping the lying, telling the truth, and paying for the damage they've caused."

CCI vice president of legal and general counsel Alyssa Johl added: "Big Oil and the plastics industry's decades-long campaign to deceive the public about plastic recycling has likely violated laws designed to protect consumers and the public from corporate misconduct and pollution."

"Attorneys general and other officials should carefully consider the evidence that these companies defrauded the public and take appropriate action to hold them accountable," Johl said.

Grocery bag

'Greedflation' Among New Words Added to Dictionary.com

Several of the 1,700 new or updated definitions Dictionary.com added to its online catalogue of terms on Thursday were inspired by recent news events.

"Climate breakdown" was identified by the website as "the collective effects of harmful and potentially irreversible trends in climate, specifically those resulting from unchecked global warming," while "energy poverty" is "a lack of adequate access to safe, affordable sources of electricity or fuel for warmth, light, cooking, etc."

Another, "greedflation," was informed by growing evidence that has shown in recent years how rising prices are not always the result of supply chain woes or other market pressures, but can be "caused by corporate executives or boards of directors, property owners, etc., solely to increase profits that are already healthy or excessive."

The dictionary's addition of the word, said economic justice think tank Groundwork Collaborative, solidifies "its place in how we understand" recent inflation.

As Common Dreamsreported last month, a Groundwork analysis showed that corporate CEOs have "openly" bragged to their shareholders that they can continue raising prices to increase profits, even as the cost of doing business goes down.

According to the group, corporate profits were what drove 53% of price increases in the second and third quarters of 2023. Business costs rose just 1% in 2023—and went down in some sectors due to drops in transportation, warehousing, and fuel costs—but consumers saw the price of goods go up by 3.4% in the same time period.

Recent polling—and Dictionary.com's word addition—shows a growing understanding of greedflation among the public.

A Navigator Research survey showed on Wednesday that 4 in 5 people believe inflation is being caused by corporations raising prices, and 3 in 5 say greedflation is a "major" cause.

"So many people recognize that corporations are keeping prices artificially high that 'greedflation' is now a word on dictionary.com," said Lindsay Owens, executive director of Groundwork. "Greedflation rightly identifies who is responsible for this inflation crisis and opens up the range of policy solutions we have at our disposal to fight high prices and deliver relief for families."

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton

Amnesty Says EU Digital Services Act 'Must Be Robustly Enforced'

As the European Union's Digital Services Act expanded to cover nearly all online platforms in the bloc on Saturday, Amnesty International stressed the importance of robust enforcement.

"It's a historic day for tech accountability," said Alia Al Ghussain, researcher and adviser on technology and human rights at Amnesty Tech, in a statement. "Today must mark the end of the era of unregulated Big Tech, and for that to happen, the DSA must be robustly enforced to avoid it becoming a paper tiger."

"Today must mark the end of the era of unregulated Big Tech."

E.U. member states and the European Commission "are primarily responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the additional obligations that apply to Big Tech companies under the DSA," Al Ghussain added. "They must resist any attempts by Big Tech companies to water down implementation and enforcement efforts, and insist on putting human rights at the forefront of this new digital landscape."

Some of the E.U.'s online rulebook took effect in August for 19 major platforms and search engines: Alibaba AliExpress; Amazon; Bing; Booking.com; Apple's AppStore; Google's Play, Maps, Search, Shopping, and YouTube; LinkedIn; Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram; Pinterest; Snapchat; TikTok; Wikipedia; X, formerly called Twitter; and Zalando.

The European Commission took its first formal action under the DSA in December, announcing an investigation into X—which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk—for "suspected breach of obligations to counter illegal content and disinformation, suspected breach of transparency obligations, and suspected deceptive design of user interface."

As of Saturday, the DSA applies to all online platforms, with some exceptions for firms that have fewer than 50 employees and an annual turnover below €10 million ($10.78 million)—though those companies must still designate a point of contact for authorities and users as well as have clear terms and conditions.

The DSA bans targeting minors with advertisements based on personal data and targeting all users with ads based on sensitive data such as religion or sexual preference. The act also requires platforms to provide users with: information about advertising they see; a tool to flag illegal content; explanations for content moderation decisions; and a way to challenge such decisions. Platforms are further required to publish a report about content moderation procedures at least once a year.

While companies that violate the DSA could be fined up to 6% of their global annual turnover or even banned in the E.U., imposing such penalties isn't the ultimate goal. According toAgence France-Presse:

Beyond the prospect of fines, Alexandre de Streel of the think tank Centre on Regulation in Europe, said the law aimed ultimately to change the culture of digital firms.

"The DSA is a gradual system, everything is not going to change in one minute and not on February 17," he said. "The goal isn't to impose fines, it's that platforms change their practices."

Still, Thierry Breton, a former French tech CEO now serving as the European commissioner for the internal market, said in a statement that "we encourage all member states to make the most out of our new rulebook."

Like Amnesty's Al Ghussain, he stressed that "effective enforcement is key to protect our citizens from illegal content and to uphold their rights."

Earlier this week, Politicoreported that "senior E.U. officials like Breton and Věra Jourová, commission vice president for values and transparency, have butted heads over how to sell the rulebook to both companies and the wider public." Internal battles and industry pushback aren't the only barriers to effectively implementing the DSA.

"At the national level, member countries are expected to nominate local regulators by February 17 to coordinate the pan-E.U. rules via a European Board for Digital Services," Politico noted. "That group will hold its first meeting in Brussels early next week. But as of mid-February, only a third of those agencies were in place, based on the commission's own data, although existing regulators in Brussels, Paris, and Dublin are already cooperating."

Campaigners are also acknowledging the shortcomings of the DSA. European Digital Rights on Saturday recirculated a November 2022 essay in which EDRi policy advisers Sebastian Becker Castellaro Jan Penfrat argued that "the DSA is a positive step forward" but "no content moderation policy in the world will protect us from harmful online content as long as we do not address the dominant, yet incredibly damaging surveillance business model of most large tech firms."

Meanwhile, Al Ghussain said that "to mitigate the human rights risks posed by social media platforms, the European Commission must tackle the addictive and harmful design of these platforms, including changes to recommender systems so that they are no longer hardwired for engagement at all costs, nor based on user profiling by default."


Alabama University Pauses IVF Treatments After Court Rules Embryos Are 'Children'

Alabama's leading medical school said Wednesday that it has paused in vitro fertilization procedures due to fear of prosecution after the state's highest court ruled that frozen embryos are "children."

"We must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments," University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) spokesperson Hannah Echols toldAL.com, adding that she is "saddened" for patients seeking the treatment.

"Alabamans in the midst of seeking treatment have had their lives and their hopes and dreams crushed."

UAB's move follows Friday's theology-ridden ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that embryos are "extrauterine children." Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Parker—who espoused Christian fundamentalist control of U.S. society during a recent interview with a QAnon conspiracy theorist—wrote in the ruling that "human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God."

Barbara Collura, president and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, said in a statement that the organization is "absolutely heartbroken for the Alabama family building community."

"The University of Alabama at Birmingham health system—the largest healthcare system in the state—has been forced to make an impossible decision: Pause IVF procedures for those hoping to build their families, or put their patients and doctors at risk of prosecution," she added.

As AL.com's Amy Yurkanin explained:

There are many reasons families turn to IVF treatment. Some women may have blocked fallopian tubes that won't allow fertilized eggs to travel to the uterus. In other cases, families can carry genes that cause fatal diseases and may want to create embryos that can be tested. In those cases, families will transfer healthy embryos and may discard or donate those that carry genetic diseases.

"There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are right now in the middle of a physically and emotionally challenging medical process to fulfill their dream of a baby," Collura said. "Would-be parents have invested their hearts, time, and resources. Now, less than a week after the Alabama Supreme Court's devastating ruling, Alabamans in the midst of seeking treatment have had their lives and their hopes and dreams crushed."

"This cruel ruling, and the subsequent decision by UAB's health system, are horrifying signals of what's to come across the country," she added. "We will continue to fight to maintain and increase access to care for the 1 in 6 adults nationwide who struggle with infertility."

Calling the Alabama ruling "so deeply fucked up," HuffPost senior politics reporter Jennifer Bendery noted that former U.S. President Donald Trump, the 2024 GOP front-runner, "spent years putting people forward for lifetime federal judgeships who had grave concerns with fertility treatments like IVF and then Senate Republicans confirmed them."

"Anyone who knows about IVF treatments knows how financially and emotionally exhaustive this process can be," Bendery added. "And that it might not even work, after years of this. I feel for these Alabama women being turned away now as they're already going through this."

Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital

'Horrific': Israeli Escalation Would Kill Another 85,000 Gazans in 6 Months, Study Shows

In an effort to put "at the front of people's minds and on the desks of decision-makers" the human cost of the U.S.-backed Israeli onslaught in Gaza, scientists on Wednesday said an escalation in the bombardment was projected to kill 85,000 Palestinians in the next six months—which would bring the total death toll to more than 114,000 people, or about 5% of Gaza's population, in less than a year.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine completed modeling for a report titled Crisis in Gaza: Scenario-Based Health Impact Projections, estimating the projected "excess deaths"—those above what would be been expected before the war—based on the health data available in Gaza before Israel began its air and ground attacks in October and the data that's been collected in more than four months of fighting.

The potential deaths of 85,000 additional people in the next six months represents the worst of three possible scenarios modeled by the researchers.

If bombing, shelling, and other ground attacks continue at their current pace, the scientists projected the killings of 58,260 Palestinians over the next six months.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, considers deaths from traumatic injuries as well as infectious diseases, maternal and neonatal health crises, and diseases for which patients have lost access to treatment, such as kidney disease or cancer. With 1 in 4 households in Gaza now facing "catastrophic" levels of hunger, according to the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification, "nutritional status" was named as a risk factor in the study, but the researchers did not include starvation as a potential cause of excess deaths.

In the case of an outbreak of an infectious disease such as cholera—which public health experts have warned could happen due to Israel's near-total blockade on humanitarian aid and a lack of potable water—66,720 people could die if the current level of violence continues.

"Even in the best-case cease-fire scenario, thousands of excess deaths would continue to occur, mainly due to the time it would take to improve water, sanitation, and shelter conditions, reduce malnutrition, and restore functioning healthcare services in Gaza," the study reads.

If an immediate cease-fire were established, the researchers projected at least 6,500 additional deaths, as people would be expected to die of previous injuries or be killed by unexploded ordnance. The deaths of babies and women would also still be expected during and soon after childbirth, as complex care has become unavailable for many due to the collapse of the healthcare system, and undernourished children could die because of their reduced ability to fight off infections like pneumonia.

If a cease-fire began but an outbreak of a disease such as cholera, polio, or meningitis occurred, the scientists projected 11,580 people would die in Gaza between now and August.

Negotiations for a potential truce were underway on Thursday in Israel, where a U.S. envoy arrived as Israeli forces continued to bomb Rafah. About 1.5 million people are currently in the city in southern Gaza, with most having fled Israeli attacks on other cities.

"The decisions that are going to be taken over the next few days and weeks matter hugely in terms of the evolution of the death toll in Gaza," Francesco Checchi, professor of epidemiology and international health at LSHTM, toldThe New York Times Wednesday.

Despite the U.S. and Israeli governments' persistent claims that the Israel Defense Forces are seeking to eradicate Hamas in retaliation for an attack on southern Israel that it led in October, the United Nations has estimated that about 40% of the people killed in Gaza have been children. This trend would continue, according to the researchers, who projected that 42% of the Palestinians killed in the next six months would be under the age of 19.

Journalist Séamus Malekafzali called the scientists' projections "nothing short of horrific."

Checchi told the Times that the researchers wanted to put the projections "at the front of people's minds and on the desks of decision-makers, so that it can be said afterward that when these decisions were taken, there was some available evidence on how this would play out in terms of lives."