Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Truest statement of the week

The United States, whose military has killed over one million people during illegal wars in the Middle East over the past quarter-century, is using Israel’s assault against the Palestinians to provoke a wider war throughout the region.

The US is surging troops, warships and aircraft to the Middle East. At least 10,000 sailors, soldiers and airmen have already been deployed to the region, and an unspecified number of troops—possibly in the tens of thousands—have been told to make ready to deploy.

The Biden administration has given its full support for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians which is taking place through the mass bombing of civilians, killing between 300 and 400 people every single day, as well as the deliberate starvation and dehydration of the population.


-- Andre Damon, "US inflames war throughout the Middle East" (WSWS).  



A note to our readers

Hey --

Monday night.

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?


Andre Damon gets another truest.

Iraq gets an editorial.

Ava and C.I. take on APPLE+.


Ava and C.I. speak with Rebecca about a biography Rebecca just read and reviewed.

Second installment of a hopefully recurring feature.

A look at some of the nonsense.

These are the ten we're really waiting to see.

Goes to Jacquie Luqman.

Continued listing of notable deaths.

The books reviewed at community sites so far this year.


Repost of Kat's review.

Repost of Ann's important piece.

Donald can't stop spilling secrets.

 What we listened to while working on this edition.



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



Editorial: Iraq -- the US government still doesn't get it

If you missed it, over nine US service members were injured in drone attacks in Iraq last week.  

What's going on?

Well Iraqis want the US out of Iraq, they've been calling for that for about 20 years now -- since the invasion in fact.  And those calls have only grown louder in the last weeks as the US government has backed the Israeli government's assault on Gaza.

Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani is the Prime Minister of Iraq.  At ARSHARQ AL-AWSAT, he writes:

"We reaffirm our unwavering stance regarding the Palestinian right to establish an independent state with Al-Quds as its capital."

This is Iraq's steadfast position, reiterated at the United Nations General Assembly in September this year. It remains the cornerstone of our support for the Palestinian cause, aimed at ensuring the Palestinian people's legitimate rights, peace, independence, security, and sovereignty in their own state.

Today, we stand by this principle following the tragedy at al-Ahli Baptist Hospital and the relentless bombardment of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip. This indiscriminate aggression by Zionist forces has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives.

Recognizing Iraq's historical regional role, Baghdad immediately initiated intense diplomatic efforts upon the outbreak of the conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories. I engaged in a series of telephone conversations with Arab leaders, emphasizing the crucial need for unified Arab and Islamic support for the Palestinian cause. I stressed the importance of de-escalation, upholding human rights, and exerting pressure on the Zionist entity to cease its aggression in the occupied territories and start negotiations that halt the conflict and work towards equitable solutions for the Palestinian people.

During my discussion with US President Joseph Biden, I emphasized the imperative of preventing further escalation in Gaza, halting the bombardment of the Gaza Strip, addressing the deepening humanitarian crisis, facilitating the opening of humanitarian corridors, and ensuring the delivery of essential aid to the people of Gaza, who are enduring the hardships of war and an unjust blockade.

The remarks occur at a time when the US government is evacuating personnel from Iraq.  DW reports:

The US State Department on Sunday ordered the departure of all non-emergency embassy personnel and their families from its Baghdad and Erbil embassies in Iraq, "due to increased security threats against US personnel and interests."

The State Department also issued a travel advisory to US citizens, warning them not to go to the Middle Eastern country. "Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, civil unrest, and Mission Iraq's limited capacity to provide support to US citizens," read the advisory.

Vivian Salama (WALL ST. JOURNAL) adds, "The State Department said it ordered eligible family members and nonemergency U.S. government personnel on Friday to depart the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in Erbil 'due to increased security threats against U.S. personnel and interests'."  Here's the advisory in full:

Travel Advisory
October 22, 2023

Iraq - Level 4: Do Not Travel


Updated to reflect the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members.

Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, civil unrest, and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.

On October 20, 2023, the Department ordered the departure of eligible family members and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from U.S. Embassy Baghdad and U.S. Consulate General Erbil due to increased security threats against U.S. government personnel and interests.

Country Summary: U.S. citizens in Iraq face high risks to their safety and security, including the potential for violence and kidnapping. Terrorist and insurgent groups regularly attack Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. militias threaten U.S. citizens and international companies throughout Iraq. Attacks using improvised explosive devices, indirect fire, and unmanned aerial vehicles occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad and other major cities. In an emergency, consular services to U.S. citizens in Iraq are limited due to severe restrictions on the movements of U.S. government personnel.

Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently throughout the country.  These events can develop quickly without prior notice, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services, and sometimes turning violent.

Do not travel near Iraq’s northern borders due to the continued threat of attacks by terrorist groups, armed conflict, aerial bombardment, and civil unrest.  U.S. citizens should especially avoid areas near armed groups in northern Iraq, which have been targeted with aerial strikes by neighboring countries’ militaries.

U.S. citizens should not travel through Iraq to engage in armed conflict in Syria, where they would face extreme personal risks (kidnapping, injury, or death) and legal risks (arrest, fines, and expulsion). The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has stated that it will impose prison sentences of up to ten years on individuals who illegally cross the Iraq-Syria border. Additionally, fighting on behalf of or supporting designated terrorist organizations is a crime under U.S. law that can result in prison sentences and large fines in the United States.

Because of security concerns, U.S. government personnel in Baghdad are instructed not to use Baghdad International Airport. Due to risks to civil aviation operating in the Baghdad Flight Information Region, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has extended for an additional two years its Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) prohibiting certain flights at altitudes below 32,000 feet. For more information, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Iraq.

If you decide to travel to Iraq:

  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States.
  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Iraq.
  • Visit the CDC website for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist

That US governmental warning?  Long overdue.  Late, in fact.  October 10th,  REUTERS noted:

Hadi Al-Amiri, a powerful Iraqi politician close to Iran and a key figure in the cross-party alliance backing Iraq's government, has threatened to target U.S. interests if Washington intervenes to support Israel in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Amiri leads the Badr Organisation, a Shi'ite political group supported by Iran that makes up a big part of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), the state paramilitary organization that contains many Iran-backed factions.

"If they intervene, we would intervene...if the Americans intervened openly in this conflict...we will consider all American targets legitimate ... and we will not hesitate to target it," al-Amiri said during a tribal gathering in Baghdad on Monday night.


MEDIA: APPLE TV+ the MySpace of streamers

Last week, a deal fell apart and now everyone's wondering when exactly the whole thing's going to end?




You might think we're talking about legal dunce George Clooney's effort to buy the studios of the actors' strike.  But we're not.

We're talking about Jon Stewart leaving APPLE+.  

The comedian who made THE DAILY SHOW a TV must-see was informed by APPLE TV+ that the upcoming season, the third season, of THE PROBLEM WITH JON STEWART was now going to have to endure censorship -- specifically APPLE products needed the Chinese marketplace so Jon would need to tailor his remarks -- apparently Howard Beele style -- to meet the whims of APPLE marketing. 


We know Jon and we know he's not a mad man.  So that may be why the Howard Beale role didn't work for him or maybe it was that APPLE failed to cast appropriately (Ned Beatty is a one of kind actor) in their come-to-Jesus moment.


Jon will now carry his show (probably with a different title) to a different streamer or network.  

Jon will go on.  He's a funny comedian, he's still a good looking man and he honed his political insights long ago.  

No one in the industry is worrying about Jon finding a home.

They are seriously wondering if this is where struggling APPLE+ finally flames out -- as it should.

That's the industry.  Not the entertainment journalists -- to a person, they're all either idiots or kiss-asses and can't do real journalism to save their lives.  If they were capable of real journalism, they'd write about the free speech aspects of APPLE TV+'s decision and pursue that topic seriously and at length.  But they're not serious journalists capable of real journalism which is why Harvey Weinstein and Leslie Moonves got away with abuse and assault of women for decades. 

And it's why no serious journalism series has been done by any entertainment outlet about the under-performing APPLE TV+.  

Next month will be the fourth anniversary of the launch of APPLE TV+ and it's disappointed from the beginning.  It opened with fewer subscribers than predicted and with far less access across the globe than promised. Within a year, it was obvious that their business model was a failure but no one wanted had the guts to point that out.  These days, the inability to point that out makes them all look like cowards.

Let's address some of the streamers problems.  In cancelling Jon Stewart's program over free speech issues they created problems for themselves that we'll get to but let's note the obvious: Cancellations, for whatever reason, are the APPLE TV+ model.





And they've renewed 22 programs.

In 4 years, they've cancelled 45 and only renewed 22.  Those figures will increase shortly since over forty shows that have finished airing news episodes are classified as "pending" (the decision to renew or cancel has not been announced yet).  the last time we saw renewal numbers that low, it was when NBC was destroying Thursday nights as they forced one unfunny single-cam 'comedy' after another on viewers who chose to run away to other networks.

They've only had one hit show: TED LASSO.  And, guess what, they can't even decide what to do with it.  It's among the over forty shows whose statues is "pending."  The last new episode aired May 31st of this year and APPLE TV+ still can't figure to renew or cancel?  Reality, the creators of the show have said it's over.  APPLE TV+ can't figure that out?  Do they not know how to read?

That would explain some of the crap they greenlit. 

Last week, APPLE TV+ was thrilled with this news: "Apple TV+ made its second appearance on the Nielsen Top 10 streaming chart with The Morning Show season 3 episode 3. Viewership was up 21% over the week prior to 422 million viewing minutes, helping boost it to 10th on the streaming originals list."  If only the show weren't such an embarrassment, they could crow.  But it's from Jennifer Aniston and it's 2023 and she's from FRIENDS.  Do we have to spell it out?  A huge cast -- a huge main cast -- so few African-Americans.  With FRIENDS, Lisa Kudrow embarrassed herself claiming the lack of African-Americans on the show was a good thing because the creators and writers weren't Black.  Apparently that explains the lack of color among the various guest stars and supporting cast members of her 113 episode WEB TV as well?


Aisha Tyler played the only recurring African-American character on FRIENDS.  For nine episodes, she played the part -- nine out of 236.  She came on as one of the 17 female characters Joey had sex with but ended up with Ross.  Anybody see the problem?

The six main characters slept with 85 different characters.  Ross and Joey both slept with Charlie.  So it's 83 characters that weren't Charlie.  83 sleeping partners in New York City and no African-Americans on that list.

It's not just that Aisha's character was only on nine episodes, it's that time and again, they had minor characters to cast as dates and they didn't consider African-Americans.

That's why we're so unimpressed and so not surprised that Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon would create a show -- one again set in New York -- with so little diversity.  Even Sarah Jessica Parker knew that bringing back SEX AND THE CITY this decade meant injecting diversity into the show.  And remember that this show is about a morning network program.  Is CBS MORNINGS all White?  We kind of remember Gayle King as the main host there and one of her co-hosts is Nate Burleson.  ABC's GOOD MORNING AMERICA?  The main host is Robin Roberts with co-hosts that include Linsey Davis and Michael Strahan.  NBC's TODAY, in the first three hours, has Craig Melvin, Al Roker and Sheinelle Jones.  There are other shows; however, the source material for THE MORNING SHOW is the non-fiction book TOP OF THE MORNING which zooms in on CBS MORNINGS, GOOD MORNING AMERICA and TODAY.


Interesting how a non-fiction book zooms in on programs that have plenty of on air African-American talent but when Reece and Jennifer decided to make a TV show, in all their blondness and all their Whiteness, couldn't see any Black people. 


This season, season three, the two White women who produce and star in the show finally found an African-American anchor.  Christine is played by Nicole Beharie and exists to be called "Aunt Jemima" on the show so that Jennifer and Reece can play caring and wise -- onscreen and in interviews promoting themselves as they celebrate what wonderful White women they are.   Are we the only ones wondering if this shows original working title might have been KARENS?  We're sure the only ones noting that the real praise, as ESSENCE recently pointed out, for the great job the costumers are doing with adding depth to the character of Christine and that no one's coming up with articles to praise the writing of the show's first African-American character. 



And this is what APPLE TV+ is trying to build its future on.




There shows come on and then they get axed and no group of people really complain because no one's really watching their offerings.

The streamer started streaming November 1, 2019.  Four years ago, next month, it started.  And it's got damn little to show for it including very few subscribers.  

By axing the shows they have axed, they've also lost their cachet.  Stephen Spielberg, Oprah, Chris Evans and so many more people were eager to work with them.  But now the industry sees that not only can the streamer not make a hit, it's not interested in making hits.  High profile projects are going elsewhere, not just John Lasseter's SPELLBOUND (moving over to NETFLIX) but John Lasseter's programming -- his deal with APPLE TV+ is over.


As WORLD SOCCER TALK's Kyle Fansler recently observed, APPLE TV+ and PARAMOUNT+ are  "well behind other platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Max, which was formerly HBO Max."

And that's how they are going to be 'celebrating' their fourth anniversary of streaming on November 1st.


Books (Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)



As we did in 2021, we're attempting to again increase book coverage in the community. After a review posts, we try to do a discussion with the reviewer.  This go round, we're talking to Rebecca about her "robert dance - a lousy writer - knows damn little about joan crawford." The book's Robert Dance's FEROCIOUS AMBITION: JOAN CRAWFORD'S MARCH TO STARDOM. You did not like the book?


Rebecca: I hated it.  I thought it would be a fascinating book.  Joan Crawford became a movie star in the 20s during the silent film days, was still a star in the 30s as we got movies with sound, continued to be a star in the 40s and the 50s and even the 60s.  She had affairs with everyone -- Yul Brenner, Clark Gable, you name it -- it's a very lively life.  Unless you're reading this dull book.  His sentences are often not actual sentences.

You noted one example in your review.

Rebecca: And I could have noted so many more.  There was no editor of this book or those sentences or the many factual errors would never have made it into print.  And what's really sad is this book was published by a college university -- The University Press of Mississippi.  And let me repeat: DULL!  You have to be a lousy writer, a really lousy writer, to write a book about Joan Crawford and have it turn out such a snooze.

Talk about the surprise in the book?

Rebecca: Sure.  He has -- if it's true -- some actual news in the book.  CONFIDENTIAL was a monthly magazine in the fifties.  It attracted a lot of attention and a lot of lawsuits because it was supposedly exposing famous people.  They exposed Tab Hunter being gay, for example.  They made sexual claims about Dorothy Dandridge, for example.  They were always being sued.  Robert Dance reveals that after Joan Crawford married her last husband, PepsiCola exec Al Steele, CONFIDENTIAL editor Howard Rushmore went to the FBI to determine whether or not Joan was ever arrested for prostitution or had ever made a porn movie.  If what he's reporting is true, that's a book in itself.  Was the FBI providing CONFIDENTIAL magazine with dirt on American citizens?  He doesn't even appear to realize that what's he's reporting is not normal nor is it known.  What an idiot.

 You took awhile reading this.  

Rebecca: Right.  It was so hard to get through.  I'd planned to have the review done the weekend before.  I couldn't.  I was mentioning that to Elaine and she ended up helping me because she was reading a book and wrote "Howard Zinn's A PEOPLE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES."


It was very frustrating -- reading the book.


Rebecca: It was.  And there was a section that I thought was wrong and that I'm bringing to this discussion because I wanted to check with you, C.I.  This is from the book and the film is WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?:


 The film was a bigger hit than almost anyone expected and took in $4.5 million in the United States and that much again overseas. For the last quarter of 1962, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was the third top grossing film after The Longest Day and Girls! Girls! Girls!, and number one for Warner Bros. Simple arithmetic shows the amount of money Crawford made: $9 million less the cost of $850,00022 equals $8,150,000, and multiplying that number by Crawford’s 15 percent of the net brings her payday to over $1.2 million. This was more money than the cool million Elizabeth Taylor was paid for Cleopatra, widely heralded at the time as the biggest salary ever paid a film star. With later releases, television rights, VHS and DVD sales, there might still be an income being generated sixty years later.

Rebecca (Con't): C.I.?

You're right.  The writer's an idiot.  Nobody gets rich off net points.  The writer probably doesn't even understand the concept of "rolling break even."  At any rate, BUCHWALD V PARAMOUNT was the case Art Buchwald brought against PARAMOUNT over COMING TO AMERICA.  In 1982, he pitched KING FOR A DAY and it was supposed to be made with Eddie Murphy in the starring role with PARAMOUNT taking out an option for it in 1983 and then putting it through rewrites before dropping it in 1985. In 1987, PARAMOUNT developed COMING TO AMERICA which Buchwald argued was his treatment.  The court agreed.  Time for money. Paramount argued that the film did not have a net profit.  Yes, it had $288,000,000 from ticket sales but, due to all the casts, there was no profit.  The court disagreed with the accounting but, to make it go away, they tossed out $900,000 and the suit was over.  Net profits are chump change.  You want a percentage of the gross and you want a percentage of the first ticket sold.  Joan Crawford nor did Bette Davis.  They got a percentage on the film on the net profit.  Using the net -- not the gross -- Joan got $150,000 for her percentage and Bette Davis got $75,000.  They didn't have equal percentage and Bette also took out a loan which they took from her percentage.  Joan did not get a million dollars or even a half a million dollars.  She got $150,000.  Bette objected and argued she was being ripped off.  She demanded an audit but those were the figures.  And the film did not show a huge profit in terms of net.  Equally true, the idiot author has the actual domestic rentals wrong.  He can claim "simple arithmetic" all he wants but he doesn't understand net profit.  Again, his figures -- for rentals, not ticket sales -- are wrong.  But even if they were correct, the profit overseas is always lower than the gross from rentals or ticket sales.  Overseas requires more expenses and less profit.  And, again, Joan got $150,000 for the film from her percentage participation -- it was from the net profit, not the film's gross profit.  The $150,000 figure was widely known and widely reported.  She did not make more than Elizabeth Taylor made for CLEOPATRA and, for the record, Elizabeth got more than a million for that film.  Elizabeth's salary for the film was one million.  The film went beyond its planned shooting schedule.  When she went into 'overtime,' on top of her one million dollars salary, she was entitled to $50,000 a week extra.  She was also smart enough to demand a percentage of the gross -- not the net, the gross.

Rebecca: And that's why I saved that topic for the discussion.  I knew you'd know.  The only thing I recommend about this book are the photos.  He has access to forgotten photos from her MGM days some of which may have never been seen before and these photos from the 1920s and 1930s are gorgeous -- great pictures of her, yes, but truly photographic art as well.


Previous book discussions this year.



"robert dance - a lousy writer - knows damn little about joan crawford," "Books (Elaine, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Ava and C.I.),"  "Books (Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Isaiah, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Ann, Mike, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Mike, Ava and C.I.),"  "Books (Ann, Elaine, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ann and C.I.)," "Books (Ruth, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Mike, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Isaiah, Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Stan, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Kat, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Ann, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Trina, Ava and C.I.)," "Books (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)" and "Books (Ava and C.I.)."








Interpreting Headlines to save you reading time

 Blog Betty (Thomas Friedman is a Great Man was an online novel)

OK magazine offers the headline "Bill Maher Makes Wild Claim about Trump."  Saving you the time, Maher claims that Donald is offering witness protection to anyone who will lie on the stand for him.  When they are not in the courtroom, Donald plans to house them in his spacious and newly remodeled rear end.  Bill Maher knew about this having spent several years there leasing a garden apartment just to the right of the anus.  

NEWSWEEK offers the headline "Video of Joe Biden On The Beach Sparks Outrage From Republicans."   What's going on?  They want to relegate Joe to a golf course the way Donald spent his time there during his presidency and after.  They cheer Donald on because they love his breasty boobs spilling out and jiggling in his golfing shirt.  Should Donald return to the White House, he plans to set up a Mama Leche clinic in the Oval Office in the hopes that he can start lactating.  

DAILY MOTION offers the headline "SHOCK MOMENT: Lindsay Graham Explodes On News Max Reporter."  What happened?  Lindsay later defended himself, insisting to anyone who listened, "I got consent for that facial.  I did."

"House Republicans sign 'Unity Pledge' ahead of next Speaker vote" TAG24 insists.  What's going on?  Lauren Boe-Boebert has been a little too free with the handy jays and so every Republican in the House is being asked to sign a "Unity Pledge" promising no sex will take place outside of marriage.  Matt Gaetz has asked, "This is just for adults, right?  It's still okay for me to pursue underage girls, right?"

LGBTQ NATION offers the headline "Fake medical group tells moms to submit to their husbands to keep their kids from being transgender."  Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert swear by this method . . . despite both women divorcing their husbands recently.




This is a new recurring feature.  We kicked it off last month with "Responding to Conservative Headlines."


Republican Crazy

The Grand Old Party has gone full on nuts.  The House of Representatives, you may have noticed, has no Speaker of the House.  They evicted the old one without any plans for how to replace him.  They then tried to make the ridiculous Jim Jordan the Speaker.  They did three votes last week.  He lost.  He lost.  He lost again.  Crash and burn, crash and burn.

Blog Betty (Thomas Friedman is a Great Man was an online novel)

Wednesday, there was a protest in front of Congress with activists calling for a cease-fire in the assault on Gaza.  The protesters were Jewish Americans.

US House Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene took time off from Tweeting praise for racists who reveal state secrets online and called the peaceful protest "an insurrection."  Yes, she is that crazy.

Turning to US political races, will Donald Trump get the Republican Party's presidential nomination or will he flame out before the primaries?  Who knows?  But it appears Kristi Noem will not be his running mate if he does get the nomination -- that voo doo doll Marjorie Taylor Green made of her paid off.  Graham Gremore (QUEERTY) reports:

Kristi Noem has been not-so-subtly positioning herself as Donald Trump‘s potential 2024 running mate for some time now, gushing about him in interviews and parroting his talking points in speeches.
Just last month, she endorsed his 2024 bid, saying he’s “the leader [and] the fighter our country needs.”

But all that orange a**-kissing might have been for naught.

Because the God-fearing, gay-hating governor’s chances of being Trump’s #2 just took a major hit after a new poll found not only is her popularity in her home state waning, but so are people’s feelings about her as a potential VP.

The Emerson College poll was conducted earlier this month and spoke to 432 voters in South Dakota.

Pollsters learned that people aren’t so happy with how Noem’s been running things since winning reelection just last year, with less than half of respondents saying they approve of her.

The poll found just 43% approve of Noem, while 36.5% disapprove. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.7 points. That means, if the 4.7 point error is in Noem’s favor, it would still place her approval rate below 50%, at around 48%. Meanwhile, if the error is not in her favor, it would drop her approval rating even lower, to about 38%.

And let's not ignore this point:

To make matters worse, just two weeks before the Emerson College poll was conducted, the Daily Mail and New York Post both ran stories detailing the Noem’s alleged years-long extramarital affair with longtime Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski.
Gotta love those MAGA family values!

Next thing you know, she'll have gone on full-on Boebert and be jerking off some man in the middle of a performance of BEETLEJUICE: THE MUSICAL.

As for the other Republican candidates for the presidential nomination?  Haisten Willis (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) reports:

The Republican presidential primary is looking remarkably stable, a poor sign for every candidate but one, and pressure is building on lower-tier candidates to either make waves or leave the pool.

memo from Sen. Tim Scott's (R-SC) Super PAC raised eyebrows by revealing that it's backing out of a $40 million ad buy, with blunt language that calls into question the long-term veracity of his campaign.

“We are doing what would be obvious in the business world but will mystify politicos. We aren’t going to waste our money when the electorate isn’t focused or ready for a Trump alternative," TIMPAC Co-Chairman Rob Collins said. He added that the money will be rerouted to “fully fund” grassroots and door-knocking efforts, though it's not exactly clear how that will work.

"We already have a robust grassroots operation underway," a TIMPAC spokesman said. "Began in June. Just additional support."

Scott is polling at 2% in the RealClearPolitics average, a number that brings with it more immediate challenges than whether or not he can win. The third GOP debate, to be held Nov. 8 in Miami, will require at least 4% polling in various state and national polls along with a minimum of 70,000 contributors in order to qualify.

[. . .]

But it may be hard to see a path to victory for a candidate who struggles to make the debate stage. Scott isn't alone in that conundrum. Former Vice President Mike Pence is polling at 3.8%, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is at 2.8%, Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) stands at 0.8%, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is at 0.6%.

Pence's campaign pointed back to previous statements he's made defending his candidacy. Burgum spokesman Lance Trover said his candidate is "focused on peaking in Iowa and New Hampshire in January of 2024, not the fall of 2023, and plans on being on the debate stage in Miami." Efforts to reach the Hutchinson campaign were not successful.

Of the five in danger of missing the third debate, only Hutchinson failed to qualify for the second. If none of them qualify going forward, and former President Donald Trump skips again, the stage would be filled with just three candidates, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Trump, meanwhile, is calling for the remaining debates to be canceled altogether.

Of course, there are still three months before the first votes are counted in Iowa, which can give any candidate hope.
Any candidate?  Even Ron DeSanits?  Poor little Ronnie, stumbling around in Mommy's high heels as he drops weekly in the polls.

10 shows we can't wait for the return of







3) WOLF PACK (PARAMOUNT+) (There has to be a season two.  This was one of the top ten most watched programs on any streamer when it posted weekly new episodes -- not top ten for PARAMOUNT+ but top ten for all streamers.)

















Tweet of the week







2023 Passings

These are the deaths community members found worth noting this year.


Lisa Presley -- Elaine noted her passing.

Christine McVie -- Kat covered her passing.


Adam Rich -- Marcia noted his passing.


Jeff Beck -- Kat noted his passing.


Lance Kerwin -- Rebecca noted his passing.

Barrett Strong -- Ruth noted his passing.


Lisa Loring -- Rebecca noted her passing.


Burt Bacharach -- Rebecca noted his passing.


Raquel Welch -- Elaine noted her passing.


Stella Stevens  -- Rebecca noted her passing.


Richard Belzer -- Ruth noted his passing.  


Kevin Alexander Gray -- C.I. notes his passing.


Pat Schroeder -- Kat noted her passing.


Lance Reddick -- Mike notes his passing.  


Darcelle XV -- Elaine notes his passing.


"Mark Russell" -- Ruth notes his passing 


"Elizabeth Hubbard" -- Trina notes her passing.


"Mary Quant and more Peabody nominations" -- Elaine notes a passing.


"Harry Belafonte" -- Kat notes a passing.

Gordon Lightfoot" -- Kat notes a passing.


"jacklyn zeman, rose schlossberg, john travolta and..." -- Rebecca notes the passing of Jacklyn Zeman.


"Iraq snapshot," "Tina Turner (1939 to 2023)," "The groundbreaker Tina Turner," "Tina Turner," "Lauren Boebert gets burned by AOC," "MAX and NETFLIX, Eva Longoria," "Tina Turner, Eric Swalwell, John Roberts," "They've ruined their reputation," "Hate merchant Tulsi Gabbard," "tina turner passed but the hideous gop lingers," "Tina " and "The wrong people are dying" -- The community notes the passing of Tina Turner.


 "Gay actor George Maharis has died" -- Stan notes the passing. 

"10 great songs that Cynthia Weil co-wrote" and "Cynthia Weil" -- Marcia and Kat note Cynthia Weil's passing.

"Hate merchant Pat Robertson has passed away" -- Kat notes the end of Pat Robertson.

"Glenda Jackson" -- Ruth notes the actress's passing.



"Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. notes the passing of Daniel Ellsberg.


"Andrea Evans" -- Kat notes the passing of a soap opera icon. 


"Tony Bennett" -- Kat notes the passing of a great singer.


"Paul Reubens," "Pee-Wee's Big Holiday" and "One more time on Pee-Wee Herman" -- Betty and Marcia note the passing of Paul Reubens.

"Robbie Robertson" -- Kat covers the passing.

 "David Jacobs" -- Kat notes the passing of a TV creator. 


"Arleen Sorkin" -- Marcia notes the passing of a voice, sitcom and daytime TV actress.


"billy miller has passed away" -- Rebecca notes a passing. 

"DiFi dies" -- Betty notes the passing of an elderly fool.

"David McCallum led a long life" -- Stan notes the passing of an actor who starred in two huge TV shows. 


"rudolph isley " -- Rebecca notes the passing of a music legend.


"Phyllis Coats -- TV's original Lois Lane" -- TV's first Lois Lane remembered by Kat.


"Piper Laurie" -- Marcia remembers the late actress.

"Suzanne Somers" -- Isaiah notes the significance of Suzanne Somers.


 "Mailbag" -- noting the passing of Mark Goddard.

 "lara parker" -- Rebecca covers the passing of Lara Parker.


"Carla Bley" -- Marcia notes the passing of a jazz pioneer.











"Mafia Wives (Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE)" -- C.I. reviews this book.


 "The Sewing Circle" -- Marcia reads Axel Madsen's THE SEWING CIRCLE.


 "Ellen Sander's The Lifestyle That Classic Rock Unleashed" -- Trina reviews this book.

"Phyllis Diller 1917 – 2012: News, Quotes, Interview" -- Ann reviews this book.

"Call Her Heroic (Ava and C.I.)" -- Ava and C.I. review this book.

"Boze Hadleigh's Hollywood Gays" -- Marcia reviews this book.


"Robert Sellers wrote a book of garbage" -- Kat reviews HOLLYWOOD HELLRAISERS.   



"SCREAM VI and THE BOYS" -- Stan reviews Ron and Clint Howard's THE BOYS.



"the world according to joan" -- Rebecca reviews this book.


 "Elton John and Whitney Houston" -- Kat reviews Elton John's autobiography and a biography on Whitney Houston.

"DON RICKLES: THE MERCHANT OF VENOM" -- Isaiah reviews this book.




 "Vincent Price and Universal" -- Marcia reviews John L. Flynn's 75 YEARS OF UNIVERSAL MONSTERS and Vincent Price's I LIKE WHAT I KNOW: A VISUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY.







"JOAN BAEZ: THE LAST LEAF" -- Ruth reviews  this book by Elizabeth Thomas.


 "A JOYOUS TRANSFORMATION: THE UNEXPURZGATED DIARY OF ANAIS NIN, 1966 -1977" -- Ruth reviews a book by Anais Nin.


"An aging queen writes a bitter book about The Way We Were" -- Marcia reviews a bad book about THE WAY WE WERE.



"Travis Stewart's bad book supposedly on Stevie Nicks" -- Kat reviews a bad book supposedly about Stevie Nicks.


"Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day"-- Trina strongly recommends this cookbook.

"GET LOST" -- Isaiah looks at this comic magazine

"Lucille Ball and HERE'S LUCY" -- Stan reads up on the second half of Lucille Ball's life.

"Melody Thomas Scott's Always Young and Restless: M..." -- Ann reviews this autobiography.

"ROCK AND ROLL NIGHTMARES" -- Elaine reviews this book about crime in the music world. 

"ALL THE LEAVES ARE BROWN" -- Kat reviews this book about the Mamas & the Papas.

"SAPIENS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND" -- Mike reviews a science book.




"Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins" -- Ann reviews a biography about Anthony Perkins.


 "Andrea Warner's BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY" -- Mike wonders why he bothered to read this book?

"Worst summer read ever is by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince" and "'the fondas: henry, jane and peter' is a very bad book" -- Marcia and Rebecca review Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince's THE FONDAS: HENRY, JANE AND PETER.


"Cookbooks and Air Fryer Cauliflower in the Kitchen" -- Trina reviews two cookbooks.


"Do not read ENDLESS HIGHWAY at AMAZON" -- Isaiah lays it out for AMAZON's KINDLE. 


 "Naomi Klein's DOPPELGANGER" -- C.I. reviews Naomi Klein's latest book.


 "Demetrius Sherman's BLACK COMIC BOOK HISTORY" -- Isaiah reviews a book about the history of comic books.

"Stefan Kanfer's Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball" -- Marcia reads up on one of her favorite entertainers. 

"Anne Edwards is a waste of time and a killer of trees" -- Elaine reviews Anne Edwards' A REMARKABLE WOMAN: A BIOGRAPHY OF KATHARINE HEPBURN.  

"Howard Zinn's A PEOPLE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES" -- Elaine reviews Howard Zinn's book.

" robert dance - a lousy writer - knows damn little about joan crawford" -- Rebecca reviews a really lousy book about Joan Crawford.


For Gaza coverage we are reposting this Saturday entry from THE COMMON ILLS:

The continued assault on Gaza

The assault on Gaza continues.   Israel says it struck a mosque in Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, with Palestinian medics reporting at least one person killed."  Yesterday, Karen Zraick and

An Israeli airstrike hit the grounds of the historic Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City, which was sheltering displaced people, on Thursday night, according to church officials and witnesses.

The church compound, comprising a chapel, seven buildings and a courtyard, was full of Christian families from the Gaza Strip, witnesses said. They said the airstrike happened around 7:30 p.m., when dinner was being distributed.

Videos and images from the scene showed rescuers digging through rubble, working with flashlights late Thursday and into Friday. The chapel was not struck.

Chao Deng (WALL STREET JOURNAL) also noted Friday, "The Israeli military said that a blast Thursday night on the St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church campus in Gaza City was the result of its airstrike." Tonight, Najib Jobain, Joseph Krauss and Samy Magdy (AP) report, "The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened Saturday to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into the besieged Palestinian territory for the first time since Israel sealed it off and began pounding it with airstrikes following Hamas’ bloody rampage two weeks ago. Just 20 trucks were allowed in, an amount aid workers said was insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. More than 200 trucks carrying 3,000 tons of aid have been waiting nearby for days."  Jon Queally (COMMON DREAMS) explains:

Guillemette Thomas, MSF's medical coordinator for Gaza, said Saturday that inside Gaza "we have an extremely high number of injured people arriving in hospitals, very serious patients requiring complex care. According to our colleagues who still work at Shifa hospital, the hospital will soon run out of fuel and therefore electricity. This means that all the patients currently in intensive care units connected to ventilators and babies in incubators will die because of the lack of electricity. Operating theaters will no longer be able to function, patients will no longer be able to be operated on and the number of victims will increase significantly in the coming hours."

Thomas warned that those in the intensive care were "just the tip of the iceberg," warning that all injured and sick people Gaza remain at severe risk.

Human Rights Watch was among those who suggested that the refusal to allow fuel into Gaza—and the absence of efforts to restore or repair devastated the electricity grid or water systems—makes the paltry level stand out as intentionally inadequate.

"While aid agencies struggle to squeeze a few trucks of humanitarian aid into southern Gaza via Egypt, the Israeli authorities are keeping their crossings with Gaza closed and refusing to flick the switch for the water and electricity supply," said Tirana Hassan, HRW's executive director. "There is no excuse for denying water, food, and medicine to Gaza's civilian population. It is cruel and contrary to international law."

Doctors Without Borders adds, "We are in touch with some of our colleagues who are supporting teams from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, particularly in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where MSF had provided care for burn victims for years. Today, medical staff suffer the same fate as the rest of Gazans: they have been constantly bombed for the past 10 days. Our colleagues tell us that many doctors and other health workers have died since the start of the Israeli offensive." 

CBS NEWS notes, "Israel plans to step up its attacks on the Gaza Strip starting Saturday as preparation for the next stage of its war on Hamas, Israel's military spokesman said. Asked about a possible ground invasion into Gaza, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters Saturday night that the military was trying to create optimal conditions beforehand." And the Israeli government is counting on more weapons from the US government based on the personal promises of President Joe Biden.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

  With more than 4,100 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis already dead as Israel bombards the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a surprise attack led by Hamas, progressive groups on Friday pushed back against U.S. President Joe Biden's effort to further arm Israel.

"In the face of massive suffering in Gaza and disregard for international law by the Israeli government, the U.S. must not provide additional military aid or weapons that would cause more deaths," the National Priorities Project (NPP) at the Institute for Policy Studies said, demanding that U.S. use its diplomatic power to push for a cease-fire.

"The Israeli military's onslaught on Gaza has not protected civilians. It has instead targeted them," NPP asserted, pointing out that while cutting off Palestinians in the Hamas-governed territory from essentials like food, water, medicine, and electricity, Israel has bombed residential, religious, medical, and educational buildings over the past two weeks. 

Andre Damon (WSWS) notes the United Nation placed the Gaza death toll at 4, 137 on Friday and that, "Over the past week, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have all visited Israel to give their unequivocal endorsement of the genocidal policies of the Netanyahu regime, which is widely despised within Israel and by Jewish people around the world."  They're not only increasing the killings, the Israeli government is also arresting activists.  Sophie Squire (UK SOCIALIST WORKER) reports:

As the Israeli state prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza, soldiers and settlers have stepped up their brutality against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. 

Mayar Derbashi, a charity worker in Hebron , told Socialist Worker, “A dire and savage onslaught is unfolding in Gaza. 

“In the West Bank, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in arrests. Before 7 October there were about 5,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention. In less than two weeks, that number has doubled, exceeding 10,000. 


Yet Joe Biden wants to give more weapons and more US tax dollars.  His visit accomplished nothing and Ralph Nader really nails that down at DISSIDENT VOICE:

If President Joe Biden were a pony, instead of a perennial warhorse (e.g., gung-ho for Bush/Cheney’s criminal destruction of Iraq), he would have his tail between his legs on his return from a one-day trip to Israel. He failed to achieve any immediate, critical objectives while the ongoing destruction of Gaza and the defenseless Palestinians continues.

Did Biden get Israel and Egypt to allow the exit of hundreds of American citizens fleeing the Gazan firestorm? No!

Did Biden open up corridors for humanitarian aid to the babies, children, women, elderly and other civilians in Gaza who had nothing to do with the October 7 Hamas homicide/suicide attack on Israelis? No!

To the contrary, earlier in the week he cruelly ordered his UN Ambassador to veto a widely supported resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Did he forcefully double down on his earlier counsel to the Israeli government to obey the laws of war, then and now, being openly violated? No! He continued his silence after the Israeli Defense Minister ordered his soldiers with the genocidal command, “No electricity, no food, no fuel, no water…” That death sentence includes patients in hospitals who must endure the carpet bombing of this long-time blockaded tiny strip of desert land holding 2.3 million people. (See, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).

Joyce Chediac (LIBERATION!) notes what Joe's visit to Tel Aviv means on the world stage, "This extraordinary visit of a U.S. president to a war zone is a full endorsement of Israel’s decision to cut off food, electricity and water to Gaza; of its bombings of several medical facilities and ambulances, schools, mosques, bakeries and UN food storage facilities; and its repeated bombing of the Rafa border crossing with Egypt, making it impossible for Gaza to retrieve 1,000 tons of supplies waiting there to be picked up. It is a green light for whatever else Israel chooses to do."  WORKERS WORLD points out, "Gaza’s territory is roughly the same size and holds the same population as Chicago. One can hardly imagine what sort of horror the current bombing means for the people who are themselves mostly refugees or their descendants, where there is no functioning economy, where half the population are children, and where the Israeli blockade makes it near impossible to leave. There are good reasons that not only Palestinians but also some Western political leaders have called Gaza the largest open-air prison in the world."  Eric London  (WSWS) cites Joe Biden's plan to give $14 billion to Israel and points out that since 1948, the US taxpayers have already forked over $260 billion to the Israeli government.  Of Joe's Thursday night TV address, Eric offers, "Over 20 years ago, then-president George W. Bush used the same language to justify launching imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which were to last 20 years, kill more than one million people, and cost more than $8 trillion, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project. A 2022 report published by the Pentagon admitted that each taxpayer paid $8,278 for the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021, though the true figure is likely an order of magnitude higher."


Funding this assault and providing more weapons for it and verbally praising it means the US government is also responsible -- legally responsible -- for the genocide being carried out. Graham Peebles (DISSIDENT VOICE) observes, "Peace is impossible whilst these destructive ideals dominate."  At TRUTHOUT, Marjorie Cohn (former president of The National Lawyers Guild) writes:

In retaliation against the Palestinians in Gaza for Hamas’s October 7 killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians, Israel has intensified its 16-year siege of Gaza to a “complete siege.” Israel is slaughtering Gazans, cutting off their food, water, electricity and fuel, ordering more than 1 million of them to leave their homes and then bombing their evacuation routes, and trapping them with nowhere to escape.

Israeli forces are amassing tanks on the border in preparation for an imminent invasion. The United States is sending massive firepower to help Israel.

“Complete siege” is a euphemism for ethnic cleansing. It “explicitly indexes a plan to bring the siege to its final destination of systematic destruction of Palestinians and Palestinian society in Gaza,” Raz Segal wrote in Jewish Currents

Israel has turned its incremental genocide of the Palestinian people into full-fledged genocide — with the unconditional support of the U.S. government.

“There is a plausible and credible case that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian population in Gaza, as a significant part of the overall Palestinian population, as a protected group,” the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) wrote in its October 18 emergency legal briefing paper titled “Israel’s Unfolding Crime of Genocide of the Palestinian People & U.S. Failure to Prevent and Complicity in Genocide.” 

Dana Elborno (TRUTHOUT)  writes, "Amid the death and destruction from the shower of bombs dropping on Gaza like rain, truly the thing that has forever changed me is seeing how the world is turning into a hate mob against a civilian population, a majority of whom are refugees, the majority of whom are children, all of whom have been living besieged for 16 years. It is the media coverage priming the public to accept mass atrocities by using hateful and racist rhetoric that has left me feeling the most hopeless and scared. This incendiary and dehumanizing language used to describe Palestinians is going to contribute to genocide in Gaza and increasing violence against Muslims in the U.S., like the stabbing to death of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian 6-year-old in Illinois."  Gregory Shupak (COMMON DREAMS) also addresses the media coverage:

Recent editorials in leading liberal U.S. newspapers have consistently presented the unrelenting mass terror that Israel inflicts on Palestinians as legitimate.

Media outlets have endorsed Israel's assault on Gaza, and America's funding of the attack, while criticizing those who offer even mildly dissenting views. American publications have repeatedly conferred on Israel's violence a virtuousness, even as it mows people down - a generosity not afforded to its Palestinian counterpart.

On 12 October, The Washington Post ran an editorial praising US President Joe Biden for his "unreserved condemnation of Hamas's terrorism," saying: "In that respect, Mr. Biden's firm words also stand in welcome contrast to the equivocations by a small number of the left-wing members of Congress in his own party, which White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre specifically repudiated."

The link to Jean-Pierre's words indicates that the "equivocations" the Post objects to are statements that "suggested the Hamas attack on Israel should be considered in context with previous actions by Israel," as well as those that "opposed US military aid for Israel on social media and called for an immediate cease-fire in the conflict."

A day before that editorial was published, the human rights groups Mezan, al-Haq, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights jointly documented that, just in the period between midday 10 and 11 October, Israel destroyed entire neighborhoods of al-Qarm, Ezbet Abdrabbo, and al-Sikka, with rescue teams "recover[ing] dozens of bodies" while "others are still under the rubble"; "target[ed]" Gaza's Islamic University and bombed the Al-Fakhoura Scholarship Program building," assaults that combined to kill 57 Palestinians, including 20 children. They further noted Israel's air strikes and shelling of the Middle Area District's agricultural lands and "residential areas, most notably in the three densely populated refugee camps of Al-Bureij, Al-Nusairat, and Deir al-Balah", killing at least 49 Palestinians, 15 of them children.

Media analysis also comes from Mohammed El-Kurd at THE NATION:

 I and a few other Palestinians have been hopping between TV channels and radio stations to talk about the atrocities unfolding in Gaza, most of which are absent from headlines, and we have encountered similar hostility. Producers invite us, it seems, not to interview us for our experiences or analysis or the context we can provide, but to interrogate us. They test our answers against the viewer’s inherent bias—a bias well-fed through years of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian rhetoric. The bombs raining down on the besieged Gaza Strip become secondary, if not entirely irrelevant, to our televised trials.

While I don’t expect pleasantries on air, I want accurate reporting. On the UK’s LBC radio, last week, host Rachel Johnson (sister of the former prime minister) took a break from repeatedly interrupting to question me—in fact, indict me—about unverified, word-of-mouth reports of Palestinian fighters “decapitating and raping” Israelis. She didn’t mention the various videos of Israelis mutilating, stomping, and urinating on Palestinian corpses, many of which are readily available to 83,000 subscribers of an Israeli Telegram channel named “Terrorists_are_dying.”

Such unsubstantiated claims were—and still are—all over the news. The Independent (UK) plastered its Chief International Correspondent Bel Trew’s “impossible to verify” reports of “decapitated women and babies” on its front page. Los Angeles Times columnist Jonah Goldberg reported then redacted “rapes.” On CNN, a teary-eyed Sara Sidner confirmed live, based on Israeli official sources, that “babies and toddlers were found with their heads decapitated,” then apologized on Twitter (now X) that she was “misled,” following a statement, again, from Israeli official sources admitting there is no information confirming the claim that “Hamas beheaded babies.”

This is a familiar playbook. A claim is circulated without evidence; Western journalists spread it like wildfire; diplomats and politicians parrot it; a narrative is built; the general public believes it, and the damage is done.

It may seem trivial to place such weight on the manner of killing, given the fact of killing, but such language isn’t without consequences. On Monday, an Illinois landlord attacked his Palestinian American tenants, seriously injuring a woman and killing her 6-year-old child. “You Muslims must die,” he yelled as he stabbed them each over a dozen times. Joe Biden said he was “shocked and sickened” by the attack, as if he could divorce himself from a claim he had made days before that he’d seen “pictures of terrorists beheading children” (a claim he quietly retracted hours later).

Conjuring rape and decapitation feeds on Islamophobic tropes. Simultaneously, it works hand in hand with the Israeli regime’s PR strategy, which has sought to equate Hamas with ISIS in the audience’s imagination, resurrecting the culture that brought forth the “War on Terror.”

Robin Andersen (DISSIDENT VOICE) also contemplates the effect of the slanted media coverage:

On October 7, the AP reported that US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States “stands with the people of Israel in the face of these terrorist assaults. Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, full stop.” On October 9, The Times of Israel quoted Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying, “We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.” Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian directed his threat at all Gazans on October 10, declaring, “Kidnapping, abusing and murdering children, women and elderly people is not human.” He then announced, “There will be no electricity and no water. There will only be destruction. You wanted hell; you will get hell.”

In a piece published on October 8 titled “Media Calls The Attack On Israel Unprovoked: Experts Say That’s Historically Inaccurate,” the Huffington Post pointed to the Israeli government’s “apartheid against Palestinians” as a provocation. It quoted IfNotNow, an American Jewish group that opposes Israeli apartheid, expressing their dread for the loss of life and loved ones, Israelis and Palestinians alike. It continued, “Every day under Israel’s system of apartheid is a provocation. The strangling siege on Gaza is a provocation. Settlers terrorizing entire Palestinian villages, soldiers raiding and demolishing Palestinian homes, murdering Palestinians in the streets, Israeli ministers calling for genocide and expulsion” are all provocations.

Indeed, multiple international human rights groups have defined the long-term Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands as a system of apartheid. The death toll on each side exposes the false assertion that Israeli violence is always retaliatory and that of Palestinians is “unprecedented.” The UNOCHA documents 6,407 Palestinian deaths since 2008, compared to 308 Israeli fatalities. Gregory Shupak reported that since 2001, more than ten thousand Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, with “nearly 9 out of 10 deaths this century have been on the Palestinian side.” In addition, the Israelis have made daily life in Gaza miserable. As UK journalist Jonathan Cook wrote, “[Gaza’s] inhabitants—one million of them children—are denied the most basic freedoms, such as the right to movement; access to proper health care, drinkable water, and the use of electricity because Israel keeps bombing Gaza’s power station.” But voices such as Shupak and Cook are virtually absent from US establishment news coverage of the violence.

The Hamas attacks were taken out of the context of ongoing violence, presented without cause, and in narratives that see only Hamas violence but have rarely featured or condemned equivalent Israeli violence against Palestinians. Establishment media’s one-sided pro-Israel coverage, established over many years, fed into the growing consensus that a major retaliation by Israelis would be forthcoming. Early corporate news reporting seemed to confirm its inevitability, with almost no voices of reason or caution allowed to enter the militarized revenge frame coalescing around a major attack.

The verbiage used by the New York Times on the Tribe of Nova music festival also illustrates Big Journalism’s sensationalized, inaccurate reporting. The Times wrote that the “massacre of its youth” and Israel’s “75-year-old quest for some carefree normalcy” met the “murderous fury of those long-oppressed Palestinians who deny the state’s right to exist.” The language of the Times’ report—using “murderous” and denial of Israel’s “right to exist,” with “long-oppressed Palestinians”—makes a mockery of what Gazans have experienced. Additionally, it is not true that Palestinians deny Israel’s right to exist. A quick look at the US State Department’s summation of the 1993 Oslo Accords states that the Palestinian Authority “renounced terrorism and recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace” and Israel accepted the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians,” concessions that undergirded the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. But Rashid Khalidi has called out the “empty words about a two-state solution while providing money, weapons and diplomatic support for systematic, calculated Israeli actions that have made that solution inconceivable.”

Dylan Saba (IN THESE TIMES) also analyzes the media coverage:

On October 8, the morning after Hamas launched an attack from the Gaza strip that killed 1,400 Israelis, Ha’aretz—Israel’s paper of record — published an editorial laying blame for the massacre squarely on Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government. The disaster that befell Israel,” the editorial board wrote, is the clear responsibility of one person: Benjamin Netanyahu.” Netanyahu completely failed to identify the dangers he was consciously leading Israel into when establishing a government of annexation and dispossession” and embracing a foreign policy that openly ignored the existence and rights of Palestinians.” It was a damning and powerful indictment.

Two days later, Ryna Workman, the student body president of NYU Law School, sent out a newsletter to classmates as Israel’s retaliatory assault on the Gaza Strip was well underway. Expanding on the Ha’aretz editorial board’s language, Workman wrote that Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life.” Workman also affirmed their solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle against oppression.

Almost immediately, they faced a torrent of backlash in the form of online disparagement and right-wing media attention. In response to pressure, the dean of the law school publicly condemned Workman’s remarks. By the evening, the law firm Winston & Strawn, where Workman had planned to work after graduating, publicly withdrew their job offer without so much as a phone call. The university then unilaterally removed Workman from their position as student body president without any disciplinary process, and threatened further charges — all for daring to speak out.

Workman is not alone. Across the US, people speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights and against Israeli war crimes, apartheid policies, and settler-colonial expansion that have been unfolding over nearly eight decades are facing a wave of McCarthyite backlash directly targeting their future careers and livelihoods. Students at other prominent universities have faced the same: the leaders of Harvard University student groups were doxxed and smeared for signing a statement also expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people. Their names and faces were plastered on a mobile billboard truck that roamed around campus for days, and a College Terror List” circulated online accusing them of antisemitism. Several also lost job offers. A Berkeley law professor published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal imploring legal employers not to hire his own students and smearing them as antisemitic.

Chip Gibbons (Defending Rights and Dissent) noted earlier this week:

Right now, Arab-American civil rights organizations are reporting an uptick in harassment, including FBI visits to mosques and FBI and ICE detention of Palestinian nationals. 

Politicians are pressuring activists to cancel First-Amendment protected assemblies and boasting to the press that police will be monitoring them. 

The media for its part, instead of serving as a critical watchdog on government abuses of power, including repression of dissent, has helped to whip up this atmosphere. They are conflating protesters with terrorists, pushing politicians to condemn them. They have devoted attention to critiquing the social media posts of college students.

When journalists have asked critical questions, they have been rebuked by officials. During a State Department news conference after several independent journalists asked questions about the impacts of Israel’s bombardment on civilians, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller chastised the journalists stating “Some of the questions I am getting today do seem to ignore the fact that Israel just had 100s of its citizens killed, taken hostage[…]some of the questions seem to pretend that Israel should not be able to conduct operations to be able defend itself and hold accountable terrorists that killed civilians.” 

Defending Rights & Dissent will not be silent as some seek to degrade our democracy and pull the country backwards by imitating the worst abuses of the McCarthy and post-9/11 eras. 

The media has to lie to sell the war, the US government has to crack down on free speech to keep people ignorant.  It's the only way to keep the killing go.  

The answer is not to be silent.  Spent the day with one group after another speaking about this issue.  I would urge you reach out to whomever you know but I would argue you would be most effective reaching out to those over 40 because that is where the knee-jerk support for the Israeli government in the US.  And that is where I saw the most shock as I spoke to groups today.  Speaking to two college groups, for example, was just getting applause and support.  I spoke to a group of people over forty and the response was they were shocked. 

One 47-year-old woman, and I'm not trying to make fun of her because we all have learning gaps and the US media has been a propaganda front for the Israeli government for decades, stopped me in the midst of one response I was making to ask me what I was talking about.  Israel was always where it is now, she stated.  No, the state of Israel was created in 1948.  I spoke about screenwriter Ben Hecht and the creation of that nation in 1948 to explain to her how it came to be.  Ben Hecht, a great writer, is one of sources of knowledge.  Use what you have, use what you connect with to discuss this with others.  It gave time, because Ben co-wrote 20TH CENTURY (film starring Carole Lombard and John Barrymore -- a screwball classic), the original SCARFACE, Carole Lombard's NOTHING SACRED (another screwball classic), Alfred Hitchcock's NOTORIUS . . . So it gave time to reset, it tossed out some non-Israeli trivia that people could nod their heads to, etc.  And then we were able to talk about Ben's work creating the state of Israel.  Use your own knowledge base.  

But talk about it.  Because it's a history that you know but that a lot of people don't. We've talked here many times about how the media taught homophobia.  Consumers of the news media in the bulk of the 20th century were taught that gay men and lesbians were mentally ill.  That was the 'educated' opinion.  By the same token, the media has spent years in this country denying the reality of the creation of the Israeli state and lying to make it synonymous with American Jews. 

During that same time, the US media also engaged in non-stop attacks on Arabs.  

All of this combines, after years and decades, to create a general misconception -- not by accident, that was always the intent.  

And that's what we're up against.  But it's not as bad as it was at the start of the week.  As Americans are becoming more aware, the number of people supporting a cease-fire is increasing significantly. Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

  Most members of the U.S. Congress have thus far refused to support a cease-fire in Gaza as Israel's siege and airstrikes inflict horrific damage on the occupied territory.

But according to a Data for Progress survey released Friday, the tiny fraction of Congress that has backed a cease-fire is more in line with the views of U.S. voters than the overwhelming majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate—and President Joe Biden.

The poll shows that 66% of likely voters agree that "the U.S. should call for a cease-fire and deescalation of violence in Gaza" and "leverage its close diplomatic relationship with Israel to prevent further violence and civilian deaths."

IfNotNow, a Jewish-American group that has helped organize major demonstrations in support of a cease-fire this week, said in response to the survey that "it's past time for our political leaders to listen to their constituents and put a stop to this violence." 


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