Monday, February 19, 2024

Media: It's The Stupidity, Stupid

Stupidity abounds on the internet.  "Stephen Sondheim's WEST SIDE STORY," MS. MOJO says in a clip of SNL with Robert Downey Jr.   Uh, no.  That would be Jerome Robbins' WEST SIDE STORY.  He produced it, he directed it and he choreographed it.  Yes, Sondheim did write lyrics . . . to the music Leonard Bernstein wrote.  The book was written by Arthur Laurents.  When you refer to the original Broadway production, it's Jerome Robbins' WEST SIDE STORY.  


Some people are just too stupid to have internet access.

 

 

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Which brings us to Sabby Sabs.  Last week was a humiliating week for grifter Matt Taibbi.  Mike dubbed him Idiot of the Week, THE VANGUARD boys couldn't stop laughing at him, Hal Sparks felt the need to bring up Matt's misogyny, THE MAJORITY REPORT noted the humiliation and that Matt had "s-ed your d" ("your" referring to Elon Musk), BOING BOING headlines "Elon Musk to his sycophant pet journalist Matt Taibbi: 'You are dead to me'"  and Matt himself?  He went on YOUTUBE with Donald Trump Jr. (no link to the sewer).

 

Why?

 

He had a new "exclusive."  Exclusive?  Rantings from his addled brain are surely exclusives. This time the poster girl for conspiracy theories was insisting that Donald Trump was spied on during the 2016 election at the behest of the CIA.  Excuse us.  The rabid brain of Matt Taibbi can't stick to basic allegations -- he has to pretend that accusations are facts and that he must water the facts to make them grow.  So he moves beyond the CIA to Barack Obama.

 

Proof?  

 

Matt Taibbi doesn't need no stinking proof!

 

We're not Barack Obama fans.  We never fell for the spin and were in agreement -- strong agreement -- with Juan Gonzalez's "I Smell Barack Obama Baloney" (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS -- 2008).  We produced pieces like "TV: The Christ-child fumbles" (2008) and "TV: Blustering Boys" (2009).  We never fell for the con.  But we do live in a world where conjecture is conjecture, and extrapolation is not passed off as researched facts and documentation.


Fortunately for Matt, Sabby Sabs is as unbound by facts and reality as he is.

 

"Sources say," Tabbi wrote.  Unnamed sources.  Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  Might they motive to spread lies?  Didn't a major claim implode on them?   Yes and yes.  


There was Sabby repeating it all as facts and chortling over her own claim that CNN and MSNBC were censoring the story. 

 

Sabby then wanted to play a clip of Lesley Stahl interviewing Donald Trump in 2020 for 60 MINUTES.

 

We'll use the CBS transcript:

 

 

President Donald Trump: It's the biggest -- second-biggest scandal. The biggest scandal was when they spied on my campaign. They spied on my campaign, Lesley-

Lesley Stahl: Well, there's no-- real evidence of that.

President Donald Trump: Of course there is. It's all over--

Lesley Stahl: No--

President Donald Trump: --the place. Lesley, they--

Lesley Stahl: Sir--

President Donald Trump: --spied on my campaign and they got caught--

Lesley Stahl: Can I-- can I say something? You know, this is 60 Minutes. And we can't put on things we can't verify--

President Donald Trump: No, you won't put it on because it's bad for Biden. Look, let me tell you--

Lesley Stahl: We can't put on things we can't verify--

 

After playing the clip, Sabby then proved how stupid and unprofessional she is.

 

 

"Is Lesley Stahl going to come back on and apologize for what she said in this interview?" Sabby huffed.  "Don't look at this through a partisan lens.  To that point, I feel that Lesley Stahl should have to come back and issue a [sic] retractment for this interview."  


What the hell is a "retractment"?  Do you not know English, Sabby?


A "retractment"?  Do you mean a "retraction"?  How stupid are you?


Pretty damn stupid -- criminally stupid, in fact.


Lesley notes that Donald's claims can't be verified.  And they couldn't.  Sabby thinks that, four years later,  the work of Matt Taibbi verifies Donald's claims.  Even if that were true (it's not), Lesley doesn't owe an apology for anything.  We can't verify it -- that's what Lesley said and, in 2020, they couldn't.


Watching Sabby you get how dangerous stupid people are -- not just to themselves but to the entire system of democracy.


Again: "retractment."  Stupid, stupid, stupid.


  

"It came from inside the house," she insisted -- trying to pretend it was a horror movie.  But the only horror was her.  "All of them lied!" she exclaimed.  "Obama, Hillary, Lesley Stahl."


Is her obsession with Lesley Stahl about the fact that Lesley has made a career in journalism and Sabby's left begging for money on YOUTUBE?


She's a fool.  Many people are.  Take this century's Patti Davis. 


 
There are people we don't feel the need to 'honor.'  Often, these people are right-wingers who say something some on the left agree with.  This site does not exist, for example, to promote any child of Dick Cheney's.  We are not so starved for common sense that we need to celebrate the former president of vice or anyone in his family.  By the same token, Donald Trump's wayward relative?  Not interested.  
 

We won't name her but we have to comment on her because of remarks she's made per NEWSWEEK.  Jon Stewart is a comedian.  He does not exist to deliver an election to anyone.  Jon Stewart is also not -- and has never been -- The Great Liberal Savior.   He is a center-left person.  He's not left.  He's done great comedy.  Outside of that, he's been a strong advocate for military families and the 9/11 rescuers.  
 

Last week, he returned to THE DAILY SHOW.  And, yes, children, he was funny.  We especially enjoyed the exchange with Dulce Sloan ("I said what I said").  He will be doing Mondays for the foreseeable future.   We could not get through an episode with Trevor Noah who was not funny, who played Stepin Fetchit with the popping eye balls and the high pitched voice for laughs.  It wasn't funny.  Maybe it was in his own country but the US has enough racism to address (we would think the same of the region that Noah grew up in) without resorting to racist tropes from the first half of the 20th century.  We didn't watch THE DAILY SHOW when he hosted regularly but we did appreciate his humor.


NEWSWEEK quotes the Trump family member stating:


Not only is Stewart's 'both sides are the same' rhetoric not funny, it's a potential disaster for democracy ... The damage done by his 'The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,' a DC rally/joke which inspired an entire generation to shrug off politics and ignore the dangers of the right wing, cannot be overstated. It was, in no small part, responsible, for helping Donald come to power



We called out The Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  We also called out the people who were seeing that as something political.  
 
 
But even with the critique we gave of that  -- which we stand by -- we're  not going to pretend that was "responsible, for helping Donald come to power."
 

That's a huge overreach.  
 
 
Maybe that Donald family member should look at her own actions.  We know she's a motor mouth today; however, don't remember her injecting herself into his campaign in 2015 (or in the election year of 2016).  That whole family -- including motor mouth -- is trash.  
 


Now we can be dumb but we're not stupid enough to blame Jon Stewart for Donald being elected.

 
The first person to blame is Hillary Clinton.  In 2008, she went everywhere.  Was there a bar in Philadelphia, for example, that she didn't drop in and talk to potential voters?  She was 'of the people' in her 2008 campaign (for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination).  She went everywhere and she gave everything to the campaign.  And she lost.

 

Some people would take that and learn from it.

And you could argue that Hillary did learn: She learned how to cheat.

And it bit her in the ass.
 

She's angry and she's never going to get over losing.  

She needs to blame herself.  Russia was the raving of a sore loser.  And she also needed to drop out of public sight.  Others who lost had the good sense to do so.  Al Gore, for example.  Or John Kerry who, after the 2004 loss, went out of the country for a brief time.  But loser Hillary wanted to make every day about her.

She's the reason she lost.

In 2015 and 2016, she refused to do actual work.  Donna Brazile was rightly fired from CNN for feeding Hillary's campaign debate questions ahead of the debates.  Hillary strong armed others from running for the nomination -- including a male senator who we would've supported but who said it wasn't worth it -- and yet the primary ends and she seems to think she's going to be crowned president.

She is not and was not Barack Obama.  She never had the sheen of celebrity.  But he attracted voters with celebrities so Hillary felt the need to surround herself with them.  Did no one in the DNC see that trouble?  
 
 
Hillary thought she could be Barack.  Oh, look, Hillary onstage with J-Lo, oh look, Hillary with this celebrity and with that and -- That's not campaigning and Hillary will never, ever by a stylish figure.  What she won support for was her ability to roll up her sleeves and get to work.  Presenting herself as consort to the stars was ridiculous and artificial -- and Hillary's long been accused of being a fake.  She tanked her own campaign with that celebrity nonsense and by refusing to be the workhorse she was in 2008 when she went every where (during the primary) to get votes.  2016?  She was Bully Boy Bush needing his pillow on the road and telling people to stop scheduling him overnights because he needed to sleep in his own itty bitty bed.
 

Jon Stewart?  He's not on the list of even 100 reasons that Donald won the 2016 election.  

 
Don't like his jokes?  Don't watch him.  But you're a liar when you start claiming that he's the reason Donald Trump made it into the White House.  The Trumps are the reason -- and motor mouth might want to check out the long history of her trashy family that burned everyone they ever encountered -- even Nikola Tesla -- and maybe if that family had addressed that issue, Donald wouldn't be the nutcase he is today -- a nutcase who is just like his trashy family.


After Jon Stewart left THE DAILY SHOW, late night hosts seemed to lose all perspective.  You couldn't watch late night anymore because they were all telling jokes and/or attacking Donald.  That's not comedy.  Some embraced the obsession.  We didn't.  A lot of people didn't.   It wasn't fair and it often wasn't funny.  It also gave Donald the appearance of being more important than he actually was.

One of the few comics who had the right touch during this time period was John Mulaney who's take was that Donald Trump was like a horse let loose in a hospital.  That was original, funny and inspired.

Everyone else seemed to be singing the same tune from the same hymnal.  And each episode brought diminishing returns.  

If you believe Jon Stewart is the liberals only hope in 2024, you should be glad that he's joking about Joe Biden and -- and! -- Donald Trump.  He can speak to people in ways that the only-bash-Trump hosts cannot.  He comes across as fair and so people will take a moment to listen.

But whatever you believe, Jon Stewart is a comedian and his first -- and main -- job is to make you laugh.  He gets that -- he got it when he took on CROSSFIRE years ago -- but so many in the audience don't as evidenced by the bitching, moaning and whining after last Monday's show.  It's the stupidity, Stupid.

 

 

Monday, February 12, 2024

TV: The hate spreaders

June 5th to June 10, 1967?  The Six-Day War.   The Arab (Egypt, Syria and Jordan) - Israeli War.  As it was taking place, Omar Sharif and Barbra Streisand shared a kiss in front of the cameras for a scene in FUNNY GIRL. and both were attacked for it around the world.  Both chose to respond with humor.  Omar Sharif responded to being called a traitor by some in the Arab press by declaring, "I never ask a girl her religion or her nationality before I kiss her."  Barbra responded, "You think Egypt was upset, you should have seen the letter I got from my Aunt Rose."

 

A lot has changed in the decades since, a lot remains the same, a lot has gotten worse. 


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Barbra Streisand has called for a cease-fire and for peace and the response was for many to attack her.  To trash her.  She can't call for an end to the killing and be pro-Israel in today's climate apparently.  And Barbra's charity work for decades has made clear she is very pro-Israel.  (It also makes clear that she is pro-people -- of every nationality.)


We're not pro-Israeli government.  We don't pretend to be.  We're Americans who aren't that thrilled with our own government (that especially includes the Crooked Supreme Court) and we're not that impressed with any governments elsewhere in the world.  


We have faith in people, we have hope for people.  But we're not fans of those who pretend to represent them.  


And maybe that -- or our big heresy -- is what gives us a bit of distance to view things from a wider perspective.  Our heresy?  Yes, we're saying it loudly and proudly on the day of the Super Bowl:  We aren't sport fans.  A lot of people are disappointed in Martina Navratilova and all the hatred she's been dispensing.  Us?  We're not disappointed.  She's never mattered to us or impressed us.  In fact, she was awful on WILL & GRACE -- unable, in a bit part, to even speak her three lines clearly and instead bleating like a sheep.

 

So not really giving a damn about sports, we've never been into the whole shirts versus skins grouping.  

 

Sadly, others are too into it, overly vested in it US V THEM in fact.

 

Take lousy actress Selma Blair.  There was always something off about her -- besides that face.  

 

Turns out, the soul was as ugly as the face.  Last week, she made the news over a comment she left online.  CAIR notes:

 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, today condemned anti-Muslim remarks made by actress Selma Blair and encouraged her to apologize and dialogue with the Muslim American community.

CAIR also called on film studios and talent agencies to stop punishing artists who express support for Palestinian human rights while ignoring hateful remarks by artists who support the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

In a comment on Instagram, Blair reportedly wrote: “Deport all these terrorist supporting goons. Islam has destroyed Muslim countries and then they come here and destroy minds. 

They know they are liars. Twisted justifications. May they meet their fate.”

According to allegations posted online, Blair has also allegedly liked other posts on social media that expressed anti-Muslim and anti-migrant sentiment.

In a statement, CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:

“No one is born a bigot, and we should never assume that someone is doomed to remain a bigot. 

“Based on the hateful and ignorant remarks that Ms. Blair made, we doubt that she has ever engaged in any meaningful interactions with her Muslim colleagues in Hollywood or other members of the American Muslim community. We encourage Ms. Blair to apologize, and we also invite her to dialogue with our community. 

“We also call on Hollywood studios and agencies to stop punishing artists who express support for Palestinian human rights while ignoring hateful comments by artists who support the ongoing genocide in Gaza.”

CAIR recently released new civil rights data showing that it has received 3,578 complaints during the last three months of 2023 amid an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate. Most recently, in Austin, Texas, a man screaming racist slurs attacked a group of Palestinian American Muslims who had just attend a pro-ceasefire protest.

On Monday, Feb. 12, (noon ET), CAIR plans to hold a news conference with the sons of Samaher Esmail, an American citizen and grandmother from New Orleans who was recently kidnapped, beaten, and denied access to medicine by Israeli forces in the West Bank.


Selma's deleted her social media and is trying to hide out.  That won't erase what she wrote.


But it's more than Selma.  Clearly.  There are people who have lost it 100%.  A lot of them.  But the "more than Selma"  we want to focus on is domestic abuser Michael Rapaport and nut job Debra Messing.




That is exactly right.  Debra Messing immediately made her Twitter feed private thinking that would allow her to escape accountability.  Michael's too stupid to try that or anything else.

 

So three hateful idiots.  Do they even matter?


As actors, probably not.  Selma has no career and she never really did.  She started on THE CW in a poorly watched show that managed to struggle on air for two seasons during which she delivered a pathetic and embarrassing performance in CRUEL INTENTIONS (contrast her pathetic performance with Uma Thurman playing the same character in DANGEROUS LIAISONS if you don't get how bad Selma's performance was).  Then a series of films that bombed and a small role in LEGALLY BLONDE.  Though Elle Woods, Bruiser, Emmett, Paulette and others were back for the sequel, Selma Blair's character wasn't -- and no one missed her.


But here's where they're dangerous:


Actress, producer, and activist, Debra Messing, has signed on to executive produce the feature documentary, Primal Fear about the explosion of antisemitism on college campuses, on social media, and in the streets since October 7, 2023, when Hamas attacked Israel. Wendy Sachs, the co-director and producer of SURGE, is directing the film and will also serve as an executive producer. 

Interviews include: Debra Messing, Michael Rapaport, Noa Tishby, Scott Galloway, US Rep. Ritchie Torres, and US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.


PRIMAL FEAR is going to be garbage made by liars.  Selma wrote an outrageous and racist Tweet and Michael and Debra co-signed it and we're supposed to believe that they can offer a truthful documentary?


Anyone stupid enough to go into business with Debra Messing at this point is not an honest broker.  She wants to produce a 'documentary' about 'the explosion of antisemitism' as she's making outrageous slurs against immigrants and Muslims?


And let's address that so-called documentary and throw in faux feminist Sheryl Sandberg's 'documentary' as well.  If you missed it, Sheryl's making a 'documentary' about those mythical 1000+ women raped on October 7th.  Over a thousand women, according to the Israeli government, over a thousand rapes.  And no proof of even one. 


Some people get into arguments.  We're remembering one with a man at a party a few years ago.  He's an agent which means he talks a lot and rarely knows what he's speaking of.  The topic was?  The work of Tennessee Williams.  He had no working knowledge at all. Contributions included a comparison of 27 WAGONS FULL OF COTTON and whether it works better as a one-act play or a short story which veered into a discussion of the televised production starring Leslie Ann Warren and Ray Sharkey that then steered around to CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and how the role Elizabeth Taylor played in the film was originated on Broadway by Barbara Bel Geddes.  At this point, the agent pipes up that Candice Bergen did a great job in the role.

 

Silence.

 

Candice Bergen.  


All eyes on the agent, he gulped.

 

Uh -- the agent insisted nervously --  he was talking about a TV production that Candice did "years before that" of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF with Treat Williams.

 

Oh, he meant Ann-Margret.  It was suggested he was referring to the 1984 TV version that starred Ann-Margret as Blanche and Treat Williams as Stanley.


Offered the lifeline, he refused to take it.  No, he continued to insist, it was Candice Bergen.


It was not Candice Bergen.  It was never Candice Bergen.


And he could have admitted his mistake and we could all move on to something else.


But he dug in and wouldn't admit his mistake and made a fool of himself.


That happens all the time.  We all make mistakes.


It's likely that a number of people who keep screaming against a cease-fire are people who realize that they made a mistake but are too vested in their image and too pig headed to admit it.


That's a real shame because there are a lot of lives involved.  There are a lot of people being killed.


That includes innocent civilians in Gaza.  That includes children.   Last week, Gideon Levy (HAARATZ) noted at least 11,5000 children had been killed in Gaza.  Even as crazed and bellicose as Debra Messing is and can be (remember, she killed the WILL & GRACE reboot with her on set b.s., NBC was happy with the ratings and wanted a fourth season of the reboot), she has to grasp that the 11,5000 children are not killers, are not Hamas, they are just children.  


And because of the actions of adults, they are dead children.

Among the dead children?  Six-year-old Hind Rajab. 




She was in a car with her cousins.  They were killed.  She was the last one alive.  She was on the phone asking to be rescued.  The ICRC sent out an ambulance.  The Israeli military that shot up the car she was in then attacked the ambulance and again attacked the car killing her and both paramedics Yusuf al-Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun.  AP notes, "Palestinian Red Crescent spokesperson Raed al-Nims said Israel has killed 20 of its staffers and wounded about 30 others since the war began."

These are not honorable actions.  They aren't ethical actions.  They are War Crimes and go to building a strong case that genocide is taking place.

That's the side you've chosen.  And you refuse to adjust course.  

You're in no position to make a film on any aspect of this issue because you have chosen to defend the murder of children.  

 

As for Sheryl and her laughable film, no feminist with a working mind has ever found her to be a feminist.  She tried to market herself as that and some celebrities helped her there but it never took because she's  not a feminist.  If she wants to make her film about the mythical rapes, she needs to be prepared for the response she will get about destroying hospitals and attacking medical workers, leaving women to give birth in unsafe conditions is not feminism.   Margherita Stancati and Abeer Ayyoub (WALL STREET JOURNAL) reported last week:

 

There were more than 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza when the war began on Oct. 7, according to United Nations estimates. Gaza has one of the highest birthrates in the region.

Some 180 women in the enclave give birth each day on average, many now with little or no medical help, sometimes in dirty, overcrowded shelters, public bathrooms or cold, makeshift tents, according to the U.N., healthcare workers and residents.
Giving birth in normal times can be a traumatic experience; going into labor in a war zone multiplies the distress and danger. Gaza’s new mothers and their babies are especially vulnerable to the fallout from the conflict between Israel and Hamas taking place around them, where the battlefield is sewn into civilian areas, from disease and displacement to shortages of food and water.

Expectant mothers who make it to hospitals in Gaza rarely get the level of care they need, according to the U.N. and healthcare workers. With only 13 of the enclave’s 36 hospitals functioning, and those only partially, the facilities are short-staffed and overwhelmed by the number of war-wounded. Maternity services are low on the list of priorities for hospitals, and women in labor are often turned away, the workers and the U.N. say.


People like Debra and Sheryl refuse to face these realities.  How do they do that?


You saw how Debra does it when she signed off on Selma's hate filled rant.  Everyone is Hamas to these hate merchants.  There are no innocents, insist the Debras and Selmas, they are all killers.  Just like they deny the Christians in Gaza, these hate merchants deny the humanity to be found in the majority of Muslims.  Denying people have humanity is the oldest and easiest way to justify racism and murder.  It's always been that way so there's nothing new to Debra or Selma or the hate that they are spreading.


Michael?


Michael's just a dumb, reactionary idiot.  And he should have been shut down a long, long time ago.  Certainly, for beating up Lili Taylor alone, he should have been packing from polite society.  Instead, he's still participating and dragging us all down.  Usually, it's with his transphobia but he varies his hate to also include all immigrants to the US and all Muslims.  


These hate merchants are a danger to us all.


 

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Truest statement of the week

Parts of Taibbi’s reporting on the Twitter Files seemed to indicate that he was over-selling what he found in Files documents in order to appeal to the right wing audience both toward which his Substack site Racket News was increasingly oriented and which Musk clearly aimed to appeal to in marketing the Files. Mehidi Hassan brought up some of Taibbi’s errors and exaggerations in his Twitter Files reporting when he brought him on his MSNBC show for an acrimonious debate in April.  For example, in one Twitter Files thread, Taibbi claimed that the Department of Homeland Security funded academic non-profit Election Integrity Project (EIP) flagged 22 million posts for removal as “misinformation” during the 2020 election season across all social media platforms. Hassan pointed out that the actual number was 2890–these were flagged for social media companies to examine for possible violations of the companies’ Terms of Service. The 22 million figure was the number of election related posts the EIP studied during the 2020 election season. 

In another instance, Hassan pointed out the problem in Taibbi’s initial Twitter Files thread where he sought to prove the pro-Democrat bias of pre-Musk Twitter officials by featuring a case of Twitter removing a handful of tweets at the Biden campaign’s request prior to the 2020 election. The implication was that the Biden campaign got Twitter to remove political speech it didn’t like. Taibbi felt no need to inform his readers that the tweets  contained nude images of Hunter Biden taken from the infamous laptop and thus violated Twitter’s Terms of Service by being shared without Hunter Biden’s consent. Asked by Hassan why he did not inform his readers that the tweet URLs contained in the screenshot he shared in his Twitter Files reporting featured Hunter Biden “dick pics”, he blustered “because I didn’t need to!”

 -- Chris Green, "The Fundamentally Conservative Worldview of Matt Taibbi" (ZNET).




 

 

 

Truest statement of the week II

Americans have had to weather much in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic first began, including price inflation of basic necessities. Grocery bills, especially, are a drain on household finances. But, as recent reports show, inflation is easing across many industries, and yet food prices overall have remained stubbornly high. Not only is that an indication of a deep rot at the heart of the food industry, agribusinesses, and corporate grocery chains, but it is also a clear sign that we need to repair our entire food system.

Reporting on a new Census Bureau survey, USA Today’s Sara Chernikoff found that “[t]he average American household spends more than $1,000 per month on groceries.” And, while it’s not surprising that those residing in expensive states like California have high grocery bills, there’s little relief for those living in states with lower costs of living. An average California family’s weekly grocery bill is $297.72, but an average North Carolina family’s bill is $266.23—nearly as high.

Attempting to downplay this reality, Paul Donovan, chief economist of UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times that Americans might be overestimating how serious inflation is, feeling the pinch most especially when they buy something as small as a candy bar. “[C]onsumers perceive inflation as higher than it actually is,” wrote Donovan. Further, he claimed, “[h]umans are genetically programmed to emphasize bad news over good news when they make decisions.” Donovan is implying that we’re just imagining high grocery bills.

In fact, inflation in the grocery industry has been higher than in other industries, rising 25 percent over the past four years compared to 19 percent overall, and many have pointed to simple greed as the reason: food prices are high because the companies setting prices think they can get away with padding their profits. Since we all have to eat, naturally this hits lower-income families harder, rather like a regressive tax. A new report by the Groundwork Collaborative found that in 2022, “consumers in the bottom quintile of the income spectrum spent 25 percent of their income on groceries, while those in the highest quintile spent under 3.5 percent.”

 

--  Sonali Kolhatkar, "The Real Reason Your Grocery Bill Is Still So High" (COUNTERPUNCH).

 

 

A note to our readers

Hey --

Tuesday.


Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:


The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.


And what did we come up with?

 

 

 

Peace.

 

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaza

Repost from THE COMMON ILLS:


Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, February 6, 2023.  Sad and pathetic SNL doesn't amuse some people, the starvation of Gaza continues, and much more.


Let's start with something people are upset about in e-mails: SNL's WEEKEND UPDATE -- specifically the joke attacking Chicago.  Yeah, it wasn't funny and it was bad politics.

That tends to happen when you let a man -- or men -- stay in spot way too long.  Michael and Colin are old men on an aging show trying to be pretend they're young.  2014?  A decade ago.  It's time to sweep them off the set.  When old men get comfy like that?  SNL ends up blaming African-Americans for the housing bust in the '00s.  Which they did and which Lorne hates for me to mention because he knows that's exactly the image the show doesn't need.

Most of the time, I'm silent.

Norm McDonald was a raging homophobe.

Did I piss on anyone's mourning parade when he died?  Nope.  Just thought, "Oh, you either don't know or you just don't care."  Tom Arnold could talk about Norm's homophobia -- but he'd have to share his own, right?  

SNL, for those who've forgotten, didn't just platform Rudy G, they worshipped him.  They brought on John McCain to do a very unfunny and very hateful skit about Barbra Streisand.  I remember a Laraine Newman skit about A STAR IS BORN that was fair game.  And funny.  That wasn't the case with what SNL had McCain do -- had him do. He's not a comedy writer.  That remains an offensive skit.

If you're thinking SNL is a great show, you're thinking wrong.  Sexism, racism and hate for anyone that's not rich has long been ingrained in the show.

I'm sorry the joke offended you.  It was a bad joke.  You're not wrong to be offended.  But expect a lot more of that while they continue to keep the same two men at the WEEKEND desk for ten years and counting.  They're aging themselves out of an audience but Lorne's been running scared for years now and fear hasn't inspired him to be any better.

A call for a cease-fire isn't a joke unless you've gotten so wealthy and so pampered that you're out of touch with the world you live in.  Again, you don't let two men sit behind the desk for a decade.  They should have been replaced with younger people long ago.  But that's the reality of SNL and that certainly explains why their host this weekend will be someone they previously fired.  Lorne is not a liberal and never was.  He's a disgrace.  He can't do anything but SNL and that reality's coming to a close for him.  How pathetic, all this time on TV and he was never anything but a one trick pony.

While SNL was yucking it up,  Dr. Tariq Haddad has watched his family die.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!



NERMEEN SHAIKH: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Nermeen Shaikh.

Before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken left for his fifth Middle East trip since October 7th, he held a roundtable meeting Thursday to discuss the situation in Gaza with a number of Palestinian Americans. But some of them refused to attend, in protest against the Biden administration’s ongoing support for Israel’s assault on Gaza.

We’re joined now by one of those who refused. Dr. Tariq Haddad is a cardiologist and member of the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights, who grew up in Gaza. He laid out his reasoning in a 12-page letter to Blinken. Included in Dr. Haddad’s letter were pictures of his family members. One of Blinken’s staff reportedly made sure to print the letter in color. Dr. Tariq Haddad joins us now from Falls Church, Virginia.

Dr. Tariq Haddad, welcome to Democracy Now! Our condolences to you for the many family members of yours who have been killed in Gaza. If you could begin by talking about what you know of what happened in Gaza to your family members, and then explain this invitation that you received for a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and why you declined to attend?

DR. TARIQ HADDAD: Thank you. Thank you for having me. And I appreciate the condolences.

Yeah, I think some context is necessary here to understand why I turned this invitation down. So, I have hundreds of family members in Gaza, both sides of my family, both in the town of Khan Younis and the Gaza City. I’ve had about a hundred family members at this point who have been killed, including physicians, pharmacists, lawyers, engineers, dozens and dozens of children, multiple small babies. I can’t tell all their stories, but I just want to tell a few just for the audience.

October 25th, 10 members of my family, all three generations of one side of my family, were all killed. My cousin Jamal El-Farra, his son, who is a physician, Dr. Tawfiq El-Farra, his wife who was pregnant, two of their beautiful daughters, Reem and Hala, Jamal’s brother Esam, wife Semad, and their daughters, Rusul, Tuqa and Nadian, all, multiple generations all killed in one Israeli missile strike. Tuqa, one of the younger women in the family, her wedding date was the day she was killed. They were all from modest means. They actually built — the three brothers built their home themselves, ironically, the same home that the Israeli strikes destroyed.

Another day, a couple days later, my cousins Hatem and Aziz El-Farra from Khan Younis, who lived literally 20 yards from where I grew up, were killed along with 14 other members of their family, seven of their children. Aziz was actually a pharmacist, and Hatem was just an incredible community figure who always had a smile on his face, always was available to help anybody who needed it. The day before he was killed, Hatem had just gone up to my uncle and asked if he could house five families who were made homeless by the Israeli missile strikes, in our grandparents’ house.

One child, one child out of that whole three generations, survived, Hamza. He had an amputation, was in the hospital. He woke up to find out his siblings, his parents, his uncles and his aunts, his grandparents all had died. Excuse me. And then he died himself in the next day from the trauma injuries from the Israeli attacks, because there wasn’t adequate medical care to keep him alive.

A couple of days after that, November 2nd, my cousins Hani, Huda and Wafaa El-Haddad, all siblings, were killed in Gaza City along with my cousin Hani’s Croatian wife and my aunt. Huda and Wafaa were teachers. Hani was an interior decorator. My cousin Hani initially survived with — as a physician, I can tell you it was a fairly minor leg injury, but then he bled to death the next day, because he had no access to any functional medical facility, since they had all been bombed and destroyed by the Israeli attacks. Hani’s brother Wael survived and then had to witness the horror of seeing his mother buried from the waist up in the rubble, dead. And he saw his sister Wafa shredded into pieces. And this, you know, they’re messaging me and telling me.

My other cousin, Nael, who I grew up with and played with as a kid, literally had to bury all his family members in a makeshift grave, because he couldn’t even access a cemetery. And he’s been going 24 hours at a time with no food or water.

Even those in my family who actually fled what was thought to be dangerous areas to safe areas have been targeted. One of my cousins, Samar El-Farra, died in a refugee camp in Rafah around the time she had completed her doctorate for her Ph.D. And we were about to congratulate her on that doctorate when she was killed.

There are family members who have died from a lack of medical care, an inability to access medical care. One of my cousins, Abdulrahman El-Farra, died because he was unable to reach a functional hospital after he was injured. Four of my family members got killed in an Israeli bombing of their car while they were, ironically, trying to go to the Gaza European Hospital for shelter. And then, a few weeks ago, Sabri El-Farra, one of my cousins, died with seven of his sons. And then, most recently, just a few days ago, a baby in our family, Saber El-Farra, who was 20 days old, froze to death, died from hypothermia in the refugee camp that his family was in. And this is after — this 20-[day]-old just froze to death after nine of his siblings and his father were murdered by the Israeli military strikes a few weeks before.

The ones — the people in my family who have not been killed, arguably, are suffering a fate worse than death. Hundreds of my family are displaced. Not a single one of them is able to stay in their home. All their homes are either damaged or destroyed. One of my family members had to give birth on the rubble of her home that was destroyed, and did not even have clothes to put on her baby. Famine is common. Every one of my family members has mentioned it. They have no access to clean water. They’ve had to recycle water because there’s no access to clean water. And they’ve had dysentery and gastrointestinal illnesses. Famine. One of my cousins messages me all the time saying he’s gone 24 hours without food.

So, to answer your question, knowing all this and knowing what I’ve gone through week after week, month after month, checking every morning to see who’s alive, who’s dead, who’s suffered, who can we help, and as the dead rose to a hundred in my family to 15,000 children all across Gaza, to 30,000 civilians, as I saw the famine happen, I just kept looking for evidence that our government actually cares about the lives of my family. And I saw none. I kept waiting for a ceasefire, that Secretary Blinken had access, has the ability to do, and he refused to do it. I kept waiting for a United Nations resolution to call for a ceasefire, which the United States continued to veto. I kept waiting for something, and all I saw was the opposite. I saw our U.S. strategic Middle Eastern military reserve being used to replenish the Israeli ammunitions for this genocide. I saw, cruelly, just a few days ago, the withdrawal of funding for the United Nations, that was supplying military [sic] assistance to these over 2 million people that are going through famine.

So, getting back to your original question, I sort of — I wrote this letter to Secretary Blinken because I wanted him to see me and see Palestinians as human beings, not as some part of a political game or some sort of, you know, blame game. I wanted him to see us for who we were as human beings. And I wanted him to put himself in my shoes and ask himself, if he saw his family getting killed day after day, month after month, as a direct result of the government’s policies, and he knew that somebody in that government could have done something to prevent those 100 people from dying, the suffering of the remaining hundreds of people, how could you sit in a room, given three minutes to face that person, and face them, knowing that that person has been directly responsible for the death of your family and all the suffering that your family has seen, and do so simply as part of a political grandstanding? And that’s why I just ethically could not be there, because actions speak louder than words. And I just wanted him to see us as human beings, to empathize, and not play politics and not play games.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dr. Tariq Haddad, thank you so much for joining us. And again, our condolences for the horrific — the horrors that your family has lived through in Gaza. Dr. Tariq Haddad, cardiologist and member of the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights who refused to attend a meeting in D.C. with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

When we come back, we talk about starvation in Gaza with Alex de Waal. Back in a minute.

[break]

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Annie Lennox performing Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child.” On Sunday night, Annie Lennox called for a ceasefire at the end of her performance at the Grammys.


ALJAZEERA reports this morning:

Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry, gave a news conference on the deteriorating situation at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Here are the main points:

  • Israeli troops are putting the lives of 300 medical personnel, 450 wounded, and 10,000 displaced people in immediate danger.
  • Electric generators at Nasser Hospital will stop within four days because of fuel shortages.
  • The Israeli occupation tightens the siege on the hospital and intensively targets its surroundings.
  • Medical staff, and wounded and displaced people in the hospital are without food.
  • There is a severe shortage of surgical supplies and sutures.
  • Rescue crews risk their lives to save the wounded as a result of Israeli forces preventing the movement of ambulances.





NERMEEN SHAIKH: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Nermeen Shaikh.

Israel is being accused of using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza, as Israeli forces continue to severely restrict the delivery of humanitarian aid, food and medical supplies to millions inside the besieged territory after four months of indiscriminate bombardment and mass displacement. U.N. human rights experts warn Gaza’s 2.3 million population is facing severe levels of hunger, with the risk of famine increasing daily.

For more, we’re joined by Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University and author of Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine. His piece for The Guardian is headlined “Unless Israel changes course, it could be legally culpable for mass starvation.”

Alex de Waal, welcome to Democracy Now! Lay out the argument you have in your Guardian piece.

ALEX DE WAAL: So, my argument is essentially that while it may be possible to bomb a hospital by accident, it is not possible to create a famine by accident, and that for some months now, and particularly in mid-December, when the famine review committee, which is sort of the highest level of humanitarian assessment in the world, an independent, impartial, professional and extremely discrete body of experts, said that Gaza is heading towards famine, it is already in catastrophe — and these are very technical terms. And unless there is an end to active hostilities by the Israeli authorities and army and a full spectrum of relief operations, it is inevitable that sometime in the coming months — and they said beginning likely in early February — under the technical definitions, Gaza would be in famine.

So that is fair warning. And the actions undertaken by the government of Israel — and the war crime of starvation is defined thus: “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supplies.” So the main element of the crime is destroying food, foodstuffs, hospitals, medical care, sanitation, shelter, etc. Unless that is all stopped, Gaza will be in famine.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Alex, if you could clarify? We just have a minute. You say that Palestinian children in Gaza will die in the thousands, even if the barriers to aid are lifted today. Explain.

ALEX DE WAAL: So, a humanitarian crisis is like a speeding freight train. Even if the driver puts on the brakes as hard as he possibly can, it will take many miles for that train to come to a stop. So, the levels of malnutrition that we are now seeing, the exposure to infectious disease through polluted water, through overcrowding and through lack of shelter, will mean that this humanitarian crisis continues. So, this is not something that can be stopped overnight.

And the fact that even after these warnings were issued, even after the International Court of Justice issued its provisional measures instructing Israel that it had to undertake these key actions, that this has continued, and the United States has not stopped it, makes them culpable for the crimes of starvation.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Alex de Waal, if you could speak — you’ve worked, obviously, on the question of famine and of mass starvation in many other contexts. If you could put what’s happening in Gaza in the broader context of what you’ve witnessed, from Sudan to Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Yemen?

ALEX DE WAAL: I think that the key element, key fact about what is happening in Gaza, has been happening for the last few months, is an exceptionally accelerated and concentrated and clearly deliberate, intentional reduction of a population to a state of outright starvation, of a nature that we have not seen in modern times. There is no parallel to this since World War II.

So, if we compare what is happening in Gaza to the other great famines in recent times, in Somalia, in Ethiopia, in Yemen, in the Nigerian Civil War in the 1960s, in China in the late 1950s, many of those were much bigger in terms of the numbers of people who died, because they impacted much larger populations. They were also much slower. They took many, many months or several years, usually, to unfold. They all have in common the fact that it is political or military decision that not only sets in motion starvation, but allows it to proceed without being halted. But this is an extraordinarily ruthless and concentrated example, as I said, without real parallel since World War II.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And could you explain why its intention doesn’t really come into this, why it doesn’t matter whether Israel is deliberately using starvation as a weapon of war, or if it’s a byproduct of its assault on Gaza? Why is that not relevant?

ALEX DE WAAL: So, let’s look at the case that was presented to the International Court of Justice by South Africa recently. And that used the Genocide Convention. And the key provision in the Genocide Convention is Article II, which is deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part. Now, the court is going to take a long time to rule as to whether this is genocide or not, because the key element that it has to determine is genocidal intent. Now, there are a lot of senior government ministers in Israel who have made blatantly genocidal statements, but that does not, in itself, prove that there is genocidal intent in the way that the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting their operations.

But the actual facts on the ground are that conditions of life that will bring about the physical destruction of a significant part of the population of Gaza, those are there. Those are actually existing, regardless of what is the intention. And there are different types of intention. So, the war crime of starvation, which is — the focus is on depriving civilians of objects indispensable to survival, which isn’t just food. It’s anything that is indispensable to survival. That can be deliberately intended, in the sense that the criminal, the perpetrator, wants to starve, or obliquely intended, in that the perpetrator is conducting the actions for another reason, like crushing a military adversary, but it has that outcome.

Now, the key thing about starvation is that it doesn’t stop just because you stop doing your action. And it continues, when you are being — and if you continue doing it even though you were warned of the outcome, you are also responsible. And that is the key here. The key is that Israel is knowingly creating these conditions, because it has been warned, and warned repeatedly, and yet it has continued. And so that makes it culpable. And regardless of the intent, the crime is being committed. And those who are arming Israel, supporting Israel and undermining the relief capacity, which is particularly the UNRWA, are complicit in this.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, another point that you make in your Guardian piece — I’ll just read a short sentence. You write, “Never before Gaza have today’s humanitarian professionals seen such a high proportion of the population descend so rapidly towards catastrophe,” you say. And this as residents in the north, northern Gaza, are reportedly eating grass and drinking polluted water. UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said today a food convoy expected to move into northern Gaza was targeted by Israeli forces. So, Alex, if you could talk about that, and, of course, this coming as there are — you’re warning of famine, these are the conditions on the ground, and donor countries are considering defunding UNRWA?

ALEX DE WAAL: So, if we go back to what the Famine Relief Committee came up with back in December — and this was based on the data that they gathered primarily during the humanitarian truce at the end of November. They have a five-point scale of food stress, going from phase one, which is normal; phase two, which is stressed; phase three, crisis; phase four, emergency — and in emergency, this is when children start to die in significant numbers; and phase five, which is catastrophe or famine, depending on exactly how the different metrics and indicators work out. And the current, as of early December, was 17% in catastrophe, phase five, 42% in emergency, phase four. The projected, which was for this week, early February, was 26% in catastrophe or famine, and 53% in emergency, so three-quarters of the population in emergency or catastrophe or famine. And that is quite extraordinary, given that right at the beginning of the crisis, the population was under stress, but then the rates of severe acute malnutrition were actually pretty low. The number of children who suffered from wasting because of deprivation of food was about 1% or thereabouts. So, just to reiterate, this train of catastrophe is moving extremely fast.

Now, there is a principle that was adopted by international humanitarians and by the United States government some 12, 13 years ago in Somalia, which is broadly called “no regrets” programming, which is that if you see a catastrophe unfolding, you must set aside the strict criteria in two regards. First of all, how closely and clearly do you actually know how bad it is? You should operate on a worst-case assumption. It’s better to waste some — quote, “waste” some resources by feeding people who may not actually be starving to death. And secondly, you also need to work with authorities, or you have to have a humanitarian carveout that means you can work alongside or with authorities that you don’t fully trust, knowing that some of your aid may be diverted. In the case of Somalia in 2011, it was the terrorist group al-Shabab, because unless you worked with them, there was going to be a famine in the areas they controlled. And so, it was agreed we will have a humanitarian carveout.

Now, this “no regrets” principle is being inverted today in Gaza, in that the slightest suspicion that some members of UNRWA, which is the only capable relief organization able to deliver assistance at scale, the slightest suspicion that some of them, small number, are associated with Hamas and its actions, is leading to a potential major cutoff in funding. And that makes international donors doubly complicit in what is going on.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: You also wrote in your piece — just to put what’s happening in a comparative frame, you wrote, quote, “Many wars are starvation crime scenes. In Sudan and South Sudan, it’s widespread looting by marauding militia. In Ethiopia’s Tigray [region], farms, factories, schools and hospitals were vandalized and burned, far in excess of any military logic. In Yemen, most of the country was put under starvation blockade. In Syria, the regime besieged cities, demanding they 'surrender or starve.' The level of destruction of hospitals, water systems and housing in Gaza, as well as restrictions [of] trade, employment and aid, surpasses any of these cases,” you write in your Guardian piece. So, if you could elaborate on that?

ALEX DE WAAL: So, what the Israeli Defense Forces are doing is not the full range of starvation crimes. For example, we don’t see them pillaging. We don’t see them stealing en masse. But what we do see is this relentless destruction of essential infrastructure. And this goes far beyond any proportionality. The laws of war are very clear, that if you are conducting a war in an area that is inhabited by civilians, that you have to have the — the damage to civilians, the deaths of civilians must be proportionate to your military objectives. And even the Israeli former Chief Justice Aharon Barak actually has said in a judgment, actually relating in this case to torture, that a law-abiding state or a democracy must — and I quote — “must sometimes fight with one hand tied behind its back,” because the fact that there are combatants embedded within a civilian population does not mean that that civilian population loses its civilian character, its protected character, according to the war. And what we are seeing in the case of Gaza is that the Israelis are essentially treating the entire population as a combatant population. That is de facto what we are seeing. And we did not see that with this intensity in any of these other cases.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Alex, if you could put this all in the context of ongoing U.S. support for Israel, and also U.K. support, but principally U.S. support? To the extent that Israel is guilty of creating the conditions for famine and already inducing mass starvation in Gaza, is the U.S. also complicit?

ALEX DE WAAL: I think morally, clearly, it’s complicit. And it could be legally liable in two ways. One, first of all, would be if the International Court of Justice does indeed find that Israel was — is responsible for genocide. And then the United States could be complicit in that crime in, certainly, the element of inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction. But even if the ICJ doesn’t find that, or it takes a long time to find that, the International Criminal Court prosecutor is also looking into war crimes and crimes against humanity, which have essentially the same provision, without the genocidal intent. And I think this would not be difficult to prove, that the same outcome is being — is occurring with just the intent to destroy these things, without the direct intent to cause starvation or to cause genocide, so starvation being the predictable outcome.

Now, if the prosecutor of the ICC were to begin to issue arrest warrants for Israeli officers or commanders or politicians, then the U.S. might find itself, by implication, complicit on those grounds, too. So the U.S. lawyers need to be very, very attentive to that as they give the administration its advice on whether it should continue in its current policy, which, as your correspondents have been saying, appears to be unconditional support for Israel.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We reported in our headlines that Belgium summoned the Israeli ambassador after Israel bombed Belgium’s development agency in northern Gaza. The bombing reportedly occurred on Wednesday after Belgium announced it would not pause funding for UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. So, Alex de Waal, could you respond to this? And if a direct link is established, though I’m not sure how that would be, what does it mean that Israel is carrying out this kind of retaliation against a humanitarian agency?

ALEX DE WAAL: That would be just an extraordinary violation, not only of international humanitarian law, but of international criminal law. And if it could be proven, it would mean that those responsible could and should end up in court on trial for those crimes.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Alex de Waal, now we want to turn to — you know, you’ve done a lot of work in Sudan. So, if you could talk about — you recently wrote a piece for Chatham House on the situation now in Sudan. If you could elaborate on that?

ALEX DE WAAL: Well, let me actually take a little step back, because what we’re seeing in the Horn of Africa and in Yemen is something that we have not — in my almost 40-year career of studying food crises in these countries, we have not seen before, which is four major simultaneous food emergencies unfolding at the same time. So we have — in Sudan, we have about half the population. It’s a country of about 45 million people, and about half the population is in need of emergency assistance because of the war. In Ethiopia, we are seeing, in the northern part of the country, a rapid descent into famine conditions — are not yet there, but they are heading there — due to a combination of the effects of the war in northern Ethiopia, which unfolded over two years, came to an end a year ago, combined with drought. In Somalia, the continuing insecurity and conflict combined with severe drought, and now, in recent months, severe floods related to climate change. And in Yemen, the impact of the protracted war and siege, which just came to an end last year, which is now being exacerbated by the hostilities between the U.S. and the Houthis, and the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization.

So we’re seeing four massive food crises unfolding in parallel, at a time when two other things are happening. One is that the price of of food aid has shot up because of the Black Sea crisis and also the Red Sea crisis. It’s just the cost of shipping, the cost of insurance, getting food to these countries has gone up. And also, the budget of the major agencies, such as the World Food Programme, has been massively squeezed. And that’s primarily because there is a standard allocation from the U.S., the major donor, but then what we — what the World Food Programme and what USAID need is a supplemental allocation, and the supplementary budget is held up in Congress.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thank you so much, Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University and the author of Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine. His new piece for The Guardian is titled “Unless Israel changes course, it could be legally culpable for mass starvation.” To see Part 1 of our conversation with Alex de Waal, go to democracynow.org. This is Democracy Now! I’m Nermeen Shaikh. Thanks so much for joining us.


On UNRWA, THE GUARDIAN notes, "Channel 4 News obtained Isreal’s dossier outlining the claims that UNRWA staff were involved in the October Hamas attacks but concluded it 'provides no evidence' to support them."  So for over a month, the Israeli government is going to get away with lying -- face no punishment for lying (just like they lied that they weren't attacking hospitals) -- but people are going to continue to starve during this time?  


Yesterday, Doctors Without Borders released the following video.



Gaza remains under assault. Day 123 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse." THE GUARDIAN notes, "At least 27,585 Palestinians have been killed and 66,978 wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October, the health ministry in Gaza said on Tuesday."  AP has noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:






And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."   


While refusing to demand a cease-fire, US President Joe Biden is content to spread the conflict throughout the region and increase the war.  CNN’s Teele Rebane and Martha Zhou report:

The United States' actions in Syria and Iraq are “triggering new regional turbulence,” said Zhang Jun, Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, condemning US airstrikes in the region.

“Recently, the United States carried out airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, resulting in a large number of casualties. These actions gravely violate the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq,” Zhang said, speaking at the Security Council's Emergency Open Session on US Airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
"The relevant military actions are undoubtedly triggering new regional turbulence," he added.

Zhang said the international community had the responsibility to reduce tensions and prevent the escalation of conflicts. 

"The US says it does not seek to create conflicts in the Middle East or anywhere else, but it runs in the opposite direction," he said, adding that "the root cause is that the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities in Gaza have been unable to be implemented."

This came after the US fired a series of airstrikes on Friday to destroy 84 targets of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria.


Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) reports:                 
                                                           
 
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Washington had “informed” Baghdad "prior" to carrying out the attacks, an assertion denied by Iraqi government spokesperson Basim al-Awadi. 

“The American side then deliberately deceived and falsified the facts by announcing prior coordination to commit this aggression, which is a false claim aimed at misleading international public opinion and disavowing legal responsibility for this rejected crime in accordance with all international laws and laws,” Awadi stated on Saturday.

Iraq’s foreign ministry on Saturday summoned the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Baghdad, David Burger, to protest against the “American aggression that targeted Iraqi military and civilian sites.”
 



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