Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Truest statement of the week


Columbia students were right in 1968. History proved it. Columbia students are right today. The university has no good answers to their demands that the school stop investing in genocide. Calling in the NYPD proves it.

+ Abbie Hoffman: “The only reason you should be in college is to destroy it.” In Columbia’s case, the administration is doing the job for the students.

+ Columbia Professor Rebecca Jordan-Young: “The faculty who are supporting the students do not all agree on the issue of Israel and Palestine, [but] we are astonished and disgusted with the way the university has cracked down on the students.”

+ From Wednesday’s House interrogation of Columbia University’s President, Minouche Shafik…

+ God also wanted Abraham to slit his son Isaac’s throat, which is pretty much what Shafik did when she called the NYPD goon squad on the kids in her care. Giordano Bruno she’s not…In fact, Shafik is a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, and also enjoys a life peerage in the House of Lords.

-- Jeffrery St. Clair "Roaming Charges: How to Kill a Wolf in Society" (COUNTERPUNCH.)


Truest statement of the week II

That's a small sample.  Fatima Bhutto is a joke.  She's a moron.  But that's not enough to be idiot of the week.  You have to have a little more agency and power.

Mehdi Hasan come grab your prize!  You are idiot of the week.  You've spent weeks blathering away about how you were creating a new media honest and truthful and yet here you are doing, as C.I. notes -- "First thing any feminist learns is: Don't count on the media to reflect us honestly." -- the same thing media always does.

Mehdi, you not only hired this bad writer, you paid her, you posted her and you e-mailed people to highlight her very bad article.



-- Mike, "Idiot of the week . . .."

A note to our readers

Hey --


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?





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





Gaza and student activism

Repost from THE COMMON ILLS.

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, April 23, 2024.  The US sees a crackdown on campus actions -- actions that are necessitated by the US government's inability and refusal to do its own job.  The students should be celebrated and praised but instead are under attack.

No one in charge knows a damn thing.  That's becoming clear in the US on various campuses.  Frances Vinall (WASHINGTON POST) reports this morning:

Students protesting the Israel-Gaza war continued to be confronted by police on Monday night, as a New York University encampment was cleared by the NYPD and students barricaded themselves inside a building at California State Polytechnic University at Humboldt, following dozens of arrests at Yale University.

College campuses across the country have seen an uptick in antiwar demonstrations in recent days, including students in tents encampments. Some of those, including at Columbia on Thursday and NYU on Monday night, were cleared by police called in at the request of the institutions.

College deans and presidents in the sixties couldn't have responded in more ignorant manner.

Crazy John Fetterman has attacked the integrity and the motivation of the protesters and has also said Columbia's dean (an equally erratic personality) should, "Do your job or resign."  Interesting words from the US senator who was unable to due his job in January of 2023, in February of 2023, in March of 2023 . . . 

Other elected crazies are also foaming at the mouth.  Apurva Chakravarthy (COLUMBIA SPECTATOR) reports

Columbia has come under increasing national scrutiny as the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” approaches its one week mark. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have both called on Biden to break up protests.

“The nascent pogroms at Columbia have to stop TODAY, before our Jewish brethren sit for Passover Seder tonight,” Cotton wrote in a X post on Monday. “If Eric Adams won’t send the NYPD and Kathy Hochul won’t send the National Guard, Joe Biden has a duty to take charge and break up these mobs.”

In a separate X post also on Monday, Hawley shared similar sentiments.

“Eisenhower sent the 101st to Little Rock,” Hawley wrote in an X post on Monday. “It’s time for Biden to call out the National Guard at our universities to protect Jewish Americans.”

I am going to assume that it's difficult for someone as deeply closeted as Josh Hawley to see things clearly but "Eisenhower sent the 101st to Little Rock" not to throw students out of school but to deal with the racist bullies -- probably a lot of them were in Josh's family and probably still are -- who were trying to prevent students from going to school.  

The ruling class has responded to the rapid spread of protests with a growing police state crackdown. By Monday morning, Yale University police had arrested 47 protesters and charged them with criminal trespass. On Monday evening, NYPD riot police descended upon the NYU protest encampment at Gould Plaza outside the Stern School of Business and arrested dozens of student and faculty protesters. Live-streamed videos of the arrests are circulating widely on social media. According to social media reports, at least 300 people marched to the nearby police precinct to demand the release of the students and faculty members arrested. NYPD officers have occupied Gould Plaza. As of this writing, hundreds were protesting the arrests.

The crackdown was clearly coordinated at the highest levels of the state, with the Democratic Party and far-right Republicans. On Sunday, Joe Biden and the White House issued statements backing the assault on free speech on campuses. On Monday, New York state Governor Kathy Hochul gave a duplicitous video address outside of the main Columbia campus which was accompanied by the statement that “[t]he recent harassment and rhetoric is vile and abhorrent. Every student deserves to be safe.” 

Repeating the slanderous equation of anti-genocide protests with “antisemitism” that now forms the basis for the persecution of anti-war protesters, many of whom are Jewish, Hochul implied the issues at play on the Columbia campus were that of religious persecution. She said, “this is a country founded on people searching for religious freedom, fleeing religious persecution elsewhere. No one here on college campuses should feel that they are being persecuted because of their religious beliefs.”

The real antisemites are now being mobilized and promoted by the Democratic Party and figures like Hochhul in the campaign to abolish free speech. Last December, immediately following the McCarthyite House Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee hearings led by the fascistic Republican New York Representative Elise Stefanik which ousted University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Liz Magill, Hochul praised the hearings and threatened to withdraw funding from public universities which did not similarly crack down on pro-Palestinian speech. 

Entitled and overbearing members of Congress seem unable to grasp the fact that these are not their campuses.  Spoiled and entitled members of the House of Representatives and the Senate fail to grasp that the students are allowed to protest and that the students are taking part in a democratic action that is providing an education and sharpening their civic skills that they will utilize for the rest of their lives.  The attack on the students is an attack on the democratic process itself.

A range of student groups are behind the protests. At Columbia, the so-called “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” has been organised by the student-led coalition, Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.

The protesters are calling for Columbia to divest from corporations that profit from Israel’s war on Gaza. The CUAD website lists additional demands, calling for more financial transparency about Columbia’s investments, and the severing of academic ties and collaborations with Israeli universities and programmes. The groups are also calling for a complete ceasefire in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin here in New York, where Columbia University has canceled in-person classes today as campus protests over Israel’s war on Gaza enter a sixth day. Classes will be held online today. The protests have swelled after the arrest last week of over 100 students who had set up an encampment to call for the school to divest from Israel. Organizers say at least 50 students have been suspended from Barnard, 35 from Columbia. A growing number of Columbia and Barnard alumni, employees and guest speakers have also publicly condemned or announced they’re boycotting the prestigious institutions.

Over the weekend, solidarity protests and encampments also began on other college campuses here in New York City at NYU, at The New School, as well as across the country, including at Yale, MIT, Tufts, Vanderbilt and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

We’re joined right now by two guests. In a moment we’ll speak with Columbia University professor Mahmood Mamdani, who addressed students participating in the Gaza Solidarity Encampment on Columbia’s campus multiple times last week. But we begin with Jude Taha, Palestinian Jordanian journalist and journalism student at Columbia University Journalism School. She’s on Columbia’s campus here in New York, where the student-led Gaza Solidarity Encampment is still underway. She’s joining us from her school at Columbia Journalism School right now.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jude. Can you lay out what’s happened over the weekend, what are people’s demands, and the fact that today, the president — who all this happened a day after she testified before Congress — has shut down the university for in-person classes, all online today?

JUDE TAHA: Thank you for having me.

Right now what we’re seeing at Columbia is an unprecedented act of solidarity, set up by students who initially set it up on the South Lawn and then faced violent arrests and a lot of repression from administration and ended up moving to the opposing lawn. And what we’re seeing right now is just swaths of people, initially without tents, sleeping on the ground, in sleeping bags, some of them without sleeping bags, on grass, outside in the cold, under the rain.

And what we’re seeing is just they have three solid demands. The first is divestment. The second is for Columbia to disclose their financial investments and the financial records, especially in relation to their workings with Israel. And the third is amnesty toward students. The students have been very clear in the fact that they are not moving, that they are very set in their demands.

Some negotiations are happening, from what I’ve heard from organizers at the encampment. However, nothing has been announced yet. I know there are a few things that came up yesterday that were a bit surprising, which was the repitching of the tents. Organizers have said that the administration is aware of the tents; however, that does not necessarily mean that they agree. Organizers held a town hall last night where they emphasized that, obviously, with an act of solidarity and act of protest as large as this, to take over the space in the lawn comes a level of risk. And they are very comfortable in that. They are making sure everyone is aware. There is transparency, and there’s just a community being built. And they are very clear in their demands. They have three top demands, first and furthermost which is divestment.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Jude, if you can talk about the whole progression of what happened, from Shafik, President Shafik, testifying before Congress to these, I won’t say “unprecedented,” arrests — over a hundred students were arrested — but since, I think, 1968, the protests against the Vietnam War?

JUDE TAHA: I think what had happened initially was students showed up at the lawn at around 4:30 a.m. They are members of a solidarity group called Columbia University Apartheid Divest, which is made up of many student groups. And they had been planning this for months, according to my interviews with organizers. They studied the 1968 protests. They studied the tactics used. And they were prepared to go. Initially, we did not know this as outsiders. The tents were set up, and a lot of people were caught off guard. But this has been something that the organizers have planned for, especially in relation to Minouche Shafik’s hearing. But what happened is, after they set up tents, we quickly saw an outpour of support. Picket lines were forming. Students were joining from outside. And initially what I saw to be like 40 to 50 students is now, on the opposite lawn, nearly a hundred to a hundred students coming in and out of the encampment.

The arrests were shocking. However, what was truly inspiring to see is that students did not let that deter them. Shortly after the arrests were carried out and after protests were surrounding the lawn where the original encampment was at, students starting jumping into the opposing lawn and pitching up tents there. And this is a reaction not only to Columbia’s silencing of students and the fact that students feel unheard, uncared for and not represented well by the institution that they attend, but this is also, very much so, focused towards the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the way the students are feeling, seeing the massacres happen every day, with nearly over 30,000 people have been killed. Their frustration is that they are complicit in this and their university is complicit in this. And they want to make sure that their voices are heard. And they want to make sure that what they’re asking is met. And so, this is inspired by the 1968 protests. They just decided to follow course.

AMY GOODMAN: So, something unusual was tweeted on Friday. You’re speaking to us from the Columbia J School, from the Columbia Journalism School.


AMY GOODMAN: I had just been at the protest after the arrests, the encampment on Thursday night. To say the least, it was not easy for anyone to get in who did not have a student ID. Even that won’t get you in right now. It was a true lockdown. And the next morning, at about 10:00, where you are, the Columbia J School tweeted, “Columbia Journalism School is committed to a free press. If you are a credentialed member of the media and have been denied access to campus, please send us a DM. We will facilitate access to campus.” This is a direct rebuke of the president, of President Shafik?

JUDE TAHA: I cannot — I cannot speak to that. I do know that our dean, Jelani Cobb, is very committed to having a space where freedom of press can thrive. And I know that Dean Cobb has been incredibly supportive of the students who have been reporting on this and is very interested in ensuring that media has access and that information is being transferred clearly and accurately. Whether it is a direct rebuke, that is unfortunately not something I am aware of.

However, I will say that since then, facilitating entrance has been increasingly challenging. I am not sure of the dynamics of the journalism school. I have been speaking with multiple journalists who are coming in to cover the encampment, and increasingly it’s been harder and harder to try and get them in. There has not been really any clear guidelines that I can share about what does that entail for the journalism school to facilitate, but what I have also been seeing is people are believing that the facilitation through the journalism school means access to the encampment. And I would like to emphasize the encampment is not facilitating with the journalism school. It is an entity that is functioning on its own. And it is a living space as much as it is, you know, a private space within the university. Students are very vulnerable there. They’re also very hesitant to speak to media. But while they do believe that the media presence is important, there has been this notion of belief that the journalism is facilitating access into the encampment, which is not true. The journalism school is helping facilitate entrance into campus for credentialed press.

AMY GOODMAN: And if you also can talk about what the police chief said in response to the Columbia president? New York Police Chief John Chell said President Shafik identified the demonstration as a “clear and present danger,” but that officers found the students to be peaceful and cooperative, Shafik warning all students participating in the encampment would be suspended. And the level of suspensions, Jude, if you can talk about that, both at Columbia and even more at Barnard, and what exactly this means? Students are locked out of their rooms almost immediately and lose their meal cards in addition to everything else?

JUDE TAHA: Yeah. To be quite honest, we have — me and a few other journalists have been reporting on this for months now. We are familiar with these students. We are familiar with these demands. And we were present from day one, from nearly 6:00 in the morning, in the original encampment. And there was no instance of violence that I am able to report. The protesters were incredibly peaceful. Their demands are largely focused on divestment. And they have community guidelines that they are asking everyone who is entering the encampment to abide by. And the community guidelines are to ensure safety, are to ensure that everyone feels comfortable in the space and to ensure that Gaza is being centered first.

In relation to what the police chief said, I have to agree that I was not able to identify any violence or any danger that is present from these students, especially right now in the second encampment, where there is a thriving community, where people are bringing food, blankets. Students are leaving their belongings, their personal belongings, for hours with no worry that they will be taken. There is no fear amongst them.

Therefore, it is truly an intimidation tactic, and the response that we have seen from President Minouche Shafik has been incredibly disheartening toward students. Students have been evicted. An organizer that I’ve spoken to yesterday is terrified. They are not comfortable walking out alone. They had to leave the state. They are being given 15 minutes to access their belongings. They are being suspended, with waiting for an appeal or waiting for a meeting with administration to understand the grounds of the suspension or what that entails. They are leaving students in limbo. The students do not feel supported. They do not know where they’re going. And it is incredibly disheartening and terrifying, for some are 18-, 19-year-olds, to be deserted by their campus.

And another thing is that the organizers have made it clear that this is an intimidation tactic by the administration, and especially in relation to President Shafik’s email that was sent at 1 a.m. last night. The organizers have stated that this is an intimidation tactic to try and scare people who are in the encampment out of their solidarity with the Gaza Solidarity Encampment and with the demands of the movement. But a lot of students are learning these risks, and they’re banding together and they’re standing together to demand amnesty. It is unclear why this is happening or the levels of suspension. Students who have been suspended but have not been evicted are concerned about when are they going to lose access to their housing. And students who have lost access to their housing were not given any clear instructions, as far as I know, for where to go next. So it is just this great limbo. And these students are sacrificing a lot for the movement and for the demands that they are asking for, but they are not being met with any support from administration or guidance. And it is unclear what President Shafik is citing when she says “danger.” And therefore, that is leaving a lot of organizers confused as to what is actually happening.

AMY GOODMAN: And among those arrested was Congressmember Ilhan Omar’s daughter, Isra Hirsi, both suspended and arrested. And finally, very quickly, before we go to professor Mamdani, the J school speaker for May 15th — and this is a long time away, so we’ll see what happens — is the Haaretz Israeli reporter Amira Hass, deeply critical of the occupation, of the war on Gaza, lived in Gaza, the only Israeli Jewish journalist to have lived there for years. Is that right?

JUDE TAHA: Yep, that is correct. As far as we know, that has not been changed. The speaker has been chosen for quite a long time now. And as far as I know, that has not been changed.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jude Taha, I want to thank you for being with us.

That was yesterday.  This morning, James FitzGerald & Bernd Debusmann Jr , (BBC NEWS) report:

Protests over the war in Gaza have taken hold at a handful of elite US universities as officials scramble to defuse demonstrations.

Police moved to break up an encampment at New York University (NYU) on Monday night, making a number of arrests.

Dozens of students were arrested at Yale earlier in the day, while Columbia University cancelled in-person classes.

The wave of demos has been marred by alleged antisemitic incidents, which have been condemned by the White House.

A pro-Palestinian protest at New York University resulted in multiple people being taken into custody on Monday night, the NYPD said.

The big picture: The latest incident of a university cracking down on demonstrations related to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza came hours after police arrested 45 people at Yale and Columbia University canceled in-person classes due to pro-Palestinian protests.

  • Since New York City police arrested over 100 Gaza war protesters at Columbia last week, pro-Palestine encampments have also emerged at other campuses including Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emerson College and Tufts University.

Details: Police could not immediately share how many people had been arrested or issued with summonses because the situation was ongoing, a New York City Police Department spokesperson told Axios over the phone.

Why are the students protesting?  

Because people like do-your-job-or-resign John Fetterman won't do their job.  

REUTERS reports, "U.N. rights chief Volker Turk said on Tuesday that he was 'horrified'" by the destruction of the Nasser and Al Shifa medical facilities in Gaza and reports of mass graves containing hundreds of bodies there, according to a spokesperson."

That?  That's Senator John Fetterman's job.  But he's too busy lying for the Israeli government to do his job.  And he might also be having another psychotic break and might need to be back in a hospital for another four months or so.

             A mass grave with more than 300 bodies has been uncovered at a hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, Gaza Civil Defense workers said, following the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area earlier this month.

Col. Yamen Abu Suleiman, Director of Civil Defense in Khan Younis told CNN that 35 bodies had been discovered at the Nasser Medical Complex on Tuesday, bringing the total to 310. Some 73 bodies had been discovered on Monday, Suleiman said.

Suleiman alleged that some of the bodies had been found with hands and feet tied, “and there were signs of field executions. We do not know if they were buried alive or executed. Most of the bodies are decomposed.”     

Instead of serving his big money donors, Crazy John Fetterman should have serving the country -- let me clarify that for him, that would be the United States.  If you want to serve Israel, move there.  He's a failure and American students have had to step up as a result of the many governmental failures.  Missy Ryan and Michael Birnbaum (WASHINGTON POST) report:

The State Department’s annual human rights report cited several reported rights violations committed in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in 2023 by parties including the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas militants before and after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks plunged the Middle East into heightened instability and violence.

The resulting conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has had a “significant negative impact” on the human rights status in Israel, the report said. It cited credible reports of “unlawful killings” by both Hamas and the Israeli government.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the State Department was continuing to assess allegations from human rights groups that Israeli forces have violated international law in Gaza but said Israel had shown it would hold its own people and institutions accountable.

“This is what separates democracies from other countries — the ability, the willingness, the determination to look at themselves,” he added.

The US government also failed when it cut off funding to UNRWA based upon the claims of the Israeli government -- a government that has lied repeatedly in the last six months.  The US should have launched its own investigation and then determined an action.  But the government doesn't do its job -- again, that's why American college students are having to take action. Julia Conley (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

Countries that have continued to suspend their funding of the United Nations' top relief agency in the occupied Palestinian territories were left with "no room" to justify their decision, said critics on Monday as an independent investigation into Israel's allegations against the organization revealed Israeli officials have ignored requests to provide evidence to support their claims.

Catherine Colonna, the former foreign minister of France, released her findings in a probe regarding Israel's claims that a significant number of employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) were members of terrorist groups.

Nearly three months after U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres commissioned the report, Colonna said Israel "has yet to provide supporting evidence" of its allegation that "a significant number of UNRWA employees are members of terrorist organizations."

Colonna's findings were bolstered by an investigation led by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, which separately sought evidence from Israel.

"Israeli authorities have to date not provided any supporting evidence nor responded to letters from UNRWA in March, and again in April, requesting the names and supporting evidence that would enable UNRWA to open an investigation," said the Nordic groups.

The reports come nearly three months after Israel made its initial allegation that 12 UNRWA employees took part in the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel, a claim that prompted the United States—the largest international funder of the agency, which subsists mainly on donations—to swiftly halt its funding. Israel also claimed that as many as 12% of UNRWA's employees were members of terrorist organizations.

As Common Dreamsreported at the time, Israel's announcement came hours after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a preliminary ruling that found Israel was "plausibly" committing genocide in Gaza by relentlessly striking the enclave and blocking almost all humanitarian aid to its 2.3 million people. 

The Israeli government lied.  And what's worse than that is that the US government didn't do their own work, they just ran with the lie.   Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan have returned to funding UNRWA.  The US government should as well.

But it can't.  

With no investigation at all, our lazy, half-assed Congress passed a funding bill that including the provision that no money can go to UNRWA before 2025.  

Again, crazies like John Fetterman belong in institutions -- but not legislative bodies.  Those who are mentally unable to serve in Congress should not be in Congress.

This morning, ALJAZEERA reports:

The US State Department says there’s no way to safely evacuate hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Rafah as the Israeli military prepares a ground invasion.

“We don’t want to see Palestinians evacuated from Rafah unless it is to return to their homes. And we have made that quite clear to the government of Israel,” said spokesman Matthew Miller.

“We don’t think there’s any effective way to evacuate 1.4 million Palestinians. There’s no way to conduct an operation in Rafah that would not lead to inordinate civilian harm and would severely hamper the delivery of humanitarian assistance. And that’s the point that we continue to make to them.”

Gaza remains under assault. Day 200 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 NATIONAL notes, "Gaza's death toll rose to 34,183 on Tuesday morning after 32 people were killed in the previous 24 hours, the enclave's Health Ministry announced.Another 59 people were wounded, taking the total number of injured to 77,143."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:


April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "In addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for 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."

The following sites updated:

TV: The media -- can't deliver an honest laugh, can't deliver the honest truth

As the '00s began, media outlets decided that they didn't want to do comedy.  Sitcoms were hugely popular but they didn't want to do them.  They wanted whimsy.  They wanted easy-ass, cheap-ass single cam 'comedies.'  The ones no one laughs at and the one no one laughed at in the 50s and 60s -- or didn't you get that you were supposed to be laughing out loud when you watched such abominations as LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.  

The number one sitcom was FRIENDS.  A multi-cam.  The sitcoms that were top ten hits in the years that followed?  Multi-cam.  EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, THE BIG BANG THEORY, ROSEANNE.  In fact, after ABC took over Roseanne and turned it into THE CONNORS, it still managed -- in its watered down form -- to outperform every single-cam sitcom on the network.

But media outlets are really stupid and they struggle to adjust and, most of all, to learn.

We were reminded of that last week as we saw one news outlet after another display the basic inability to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Maybe you missed it but, as the breathless media largely reported, Iran shot missiles -- hundreds -- at Israel.  And, still panting, they informed us that the combined super-group of Jordan, Israel, the UK and the US (and, like the letter y, sometimes Saudi Arabia managed to halt the plot.

The plot was halted?  Let's come back to that.

Already the outlets were struggling.  Maybe they needed a smoke break?  April 1st saw Israel launch an attack on Iran's consulate in Syria.  Somehow that got left out of the media narrative.  As Marjorie Cohn (TRUTHOUT) notes:

On April 1, Israel mounted an unprovoked military attack on a building that was part of the Iranian Embassy complex in Damascus, Syria, killing seven of Iran’s senior military advisers and five additional people. The victims included Gen. Mohamad Reza Zahedi, head of Iran’s covert military operations in Lebanon and Syria, and two other senior generals.

Although Israel’s attack violated the United Nations Charter, the UN Security Council refused to condemn it because the United States, the U.K. and France exercised their vetoes on April 4.

Iran considered this attack on its consulate “an act of war,” Trita Parsi wrote at Foreign Policy.

On April 11, the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations stated: “Had the UN Security Council condemned the Zionist regime’s reprehensible act of aggression on our diplomatic premises in Damascus and subsequently brought to justice its perpetrators, the imperative for Iran to punish this rogue regime might have been obviated.”

Then, on April 13, in response to Israel’s attack, Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles at the Israeli air base from which the April 1 attacks had emanated. Only two of them landed inside Israel and no one was killed; a Bedouin girl was injured. The U.S., U.K., France, Jordan and Israel intercepted the remaining Iranian missiles and drones. A senior U.S. military official said “there’s no significant damage within Israel itself.”



What followed the missile attack was a week of speculation and supposition and chatter and gossip and gasbaggery.  With all that going down, there wasn't time for actual reporting.

Gaza was completely lost.  There were days when the western outlets didn't even publish online about death tolls in Gaza.  

Monday, for example, THE WASHINGTON POST published Ishaan Tharoor's "As Israel-Iran clash cools, Gaza crisis remains."  Yes, Ishann, it did.  And it remained all last week as well -- even if often fell of the media radar.  In fairness, online THE WASHINGTON POST did a better job than most -- such as CNN and ABC NEWS -- in covering Gaza last week.

Someone would say, "Well, in fairness, media outlets have faced serious cuts."  Yes, they have.  For that reason, it certainly isn't justified for the same outlets to refuse to utilize their employees -- Mohammed Tawfeeq at CNN, to cite one example -- who do cover the assault on Gaza.  Instead, real reporting got shoved aside for daily Iran-Israel coverage.  In fact, this morning, ABC NEWS (the worst offender) published their 'latest' on Gaza -- 'on Gaza' -- which was their 'breaking news' on Iran from last week with one new item at the top which was about Gaza today.  They call it news coverage.  They call it that.

Gaza is a war zone and people are suffering but western outlets felt very comfortable ignoring it for a full week to dish all the 'hot goss' on Iran last week.

The inability to do two things at once, the thing we said we'd come back to.

A development this week: Some militias in Iraq are attacking Israel.  SKY NEWS notes:

At least five rockets are launched from the Iraqi town of Zummar towards a US military base in northeastern Syria, security sources tell Reuters. The attack against American forces is the first since February, when Iranian-backed groups in Iraq stopped targeting US troops.

Is that a surprise, really?

The same media that let the people in Gaza fall off the media radar for much of last week largely ignored Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani making his first trip to the United States.  On last week's trip, he met with various business officials as well as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and US President Joe Biden.  It was covered in the Iraq snapshots last week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).  And what happened face to face with Joe?  

Mohammed faltered.  US troops?  Sure they could remain in Iraq.

For those unaware, the prime minister of Iraq had been making public statements for months leading up to this visit insisting to the Iraqi people that US forces would be leaving Iraq.

The cease-fire the militias (which are part of the Iraqi military) had agreed to was dependent upon Iraq expelling US forces.  

If the fact that some militias have resumed the attacks on US forces is a surprise to you that's largely due to media failures.  The minute Mohammed began back pedaling last week on US forces must leave Iraq, this attack was a given.
Apparently, it was also a given that the US media would fail to inform the American people of this likely outcome.  Just like the media all looked the other way last week except for AP when new truths emerged about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.    Matthew Barakat (AP) reported a new revelation, that long before the scandal broke in the press, all the way back in 2003, a military contraactor had been informed of the abuses and crimes taking place at the prison:

A civilian contractor sent to work as an interrogator at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison resigned within two weeks of his arrival and told his corporate bosses that mistreatment of detainees was likely to continue. 
Jurors saw the October 2003 email from Rich Arant, who worked for military contractor CACI, during testimony Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by three Abu Ghraib survivors. The former prisoners are suing CACI, alleging that the Reston-Virginia based company shares responsibility for the mistreatment they endured. CACI had a contract to supply interrogators to the Army after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and scrambled to supply the needed personnel. 
The first CACI interrogators arrived at Abu Ghraib on Sept. 28 of that year. Arant sent his resignation letter to CACI on Oct. 14. He informed his bosses about his concerns over the handling of prisoners, including what he described as an unauthorized interview of a female inmate by male interrogators. He wrote that "violations of the well-written rules of engagement will likely continue to occur."

As we wind down this piece, we're aware some of you may be confused about any link between bad TV and war.  YOUNG SHELDON is thankfully ceasing production.  It's ratings have dropped significantly.  It's doing lousy in syndication.  CBS can't justify the cost of another season.  It was never popular like THE BIG BANG THEORY.  It was never funny like THE BIG BANG THEORY.  It was a single-cam 'comedy' that was as lifeless and bland as the non-performance delivered by Iain Armitage.

"Ava and C.I.! He's a child."

He is.  He's 15-years-old.  And it sure has been nice of 'liberal' Hollywood to give the grandson of War Hawk Richard Armitage (who exposed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent to the press) the lead role in YOUNG SHELDON.  So very nice.  Others, they might get hung up over the fact that not only can the kid not act but that his father is responsible for the deaths of over a million dead Iraqis or that granddad has been accused of many more War Crimes (including being part of the Phoenix Program) during his long career or that he spent the 90s lobbying Bill Clinton to declare war on Iraq.  Clearly, CBS, WARNER BROS TELEVISION, Chuck Lorre and Jim Parsons weren't bothered by that.  You have to be pretty shallow to think none of that matters but you have to be pretty shallow to mistake crap like YOUNG SHELDON for an actual funny sitcom.

NEWSWEEK lies for Lauren Boebert

NEWSWEEK's Andrew Stanton is just the latest to rewrite history for Lauren Boebert and some form of in-kind donation to her campaign:

Boebert has said the move is related to her personal life, but political analysts noted it could benefit her politically, as well, as her new district is much more Republican than her former, which backed former President Donald Trump by only eight points in 2020 and nearly elected a Democrat over Boebert in 2022.

The Fourth District is comprised of the vast, rural eastern part of the state, as well as some Democratic-trending suburbs of Denver.

Lie.  Shame on liar Andrew Stanton and shame on NEWSWEEK.  January 2nd, Sudiksha Kochi (USA TODAY) reported

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., criticized stars Barbra Streisand and Ryan Reynolds after they donated to her Democratic rival as the Colorado Republican seeks reelection.

Boebert last week announced she will not run for reelection in her current congressional seat in Colorado’s 3rd District and will instead run in the state’s 4th District, which Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., currently represents. Buck announced last year he will not seek reelection in 2024.

In an interview on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, Bannon said Democrats have raised millions against Boebert heading into 2024. The Republican lawmaker accused Democrats of not having "policies that they are running on, they're simply running against Lauren Boebert.”

That was the public reason she gave (repeatedly) for running in a new district.  It's a shame that journalism matters so little to NEWSWEEK that they're willing to allow a liar to rewrite history.

Video of the Week

Pro-Palestinian Campus Encampments Spread Nationwide Amid Mass Arrests at Columbia, NYU & Yale (DEMOCRACY NOW!)



Tweet of the week


Book Talk (Stan, Ava and C.I.)



As we did in 2021 and 2023, 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 Stan about his book review "Michael Schulman's OSCAR WARS: A HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD IN GOLD, SWEAT AND TEARS" -- Stan, you really didn't like the book.

Stan: I hated it.  It acted like it was going to go year by year.  And then suddenly it was skipping five years then almost ten then this and that.  And I know the argument the author would make is that he was actually writing about politics -- that the OSCAR WARS are about politics.  No.  You don't go on and on for pages and pages about Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine's rivarly and chart it back to childhood --

For any who don't know, the two actresses were sisters.

Stan: Sorry, yeah.  And Olivia was nominated first -- but for Best Supporting Actress -- for GONE WITH THE WIND -- and she lost.  Then Joan was nominated and she won.  And this added additional stress to their relationship.  And they didn't like each other and avoided each other and that carried on forever.  Olivia was the winner in terms of Oscars -- a point the author really doesn't make.  While Joan won an Oscar, Olivia entered the rare company of actresses who won two Oscards for Best Actress -- Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Meryl Streep, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Cate Blanchett, Jodie Foster, Elizabeth Taylor etc.  Frances McDormand is the only one to win three for Best Actress and Katharine Hepburn is the only to win four for Best Actress.  At the end, you've got one of their daughters talking about how spoiled they each were and how they were fighting with one another to the very end.


Which really isn't political?


Stan: Right.  But we never again get a story like that and he tries to pretend like he's written some lofty book when he hasn't.  He also has no idea regarding Judy Holliday or ADAM'S RIB or George Cukor.  His ignorance shines through over and over.  Worst of all, the book is just boring.


You felt there was way too much Candice Bergen.


Stan: I did.  And I don't dislike her.  I loved the original MURPHY BROWN.  The reboot got better as it went along.  Candice is funny in a huge number of films including the two BOOK CLUB films.  But I didn't need or want her.  It's a book about the Oscars.  Not only was Candice only nominated once, the book's not even concerned with that.  Instead, we're getting Candice at Truman Capote's ball, we're getting Candice sniffing in disdain at the hippies, we're getting this and that and it's just like STFU.  And I mean that towards the author not towards Candice Bergen.  Related, there is no reason to call Elliott Gould "Mr. Barbra Streisand."  Not even once but the author does it more than once.


Final thoughts?


Stan: If you're interested in the Academy Awards, you won't be interested in this book.  You'll be frustrated and angry so spare yourself the trouble and don't read it.



Previous book discussions:


"Book Talk (Dona, Ava and C.I.)"

"Book Talk (Ty, Ava and C.I.)

 "Book Talk (Mike, Ava and C.I.)"


"Book Talk (Stan, Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)"

"Book Talk (Mike, Ava and C.I.)"

"Book Talk (Ann, Marcia, Trina, Ava and C.I.)"




In case you missed it, a former homeland security employee calls Israel "the homeland"

She did it on national television, no less.

Oh, look, former US government employee Samantha Vinograd is calling Israel 'the homeland'

Speaking of CBS . . . 

The ridiculous Samantha Vinograd appeared on CBS' FACE THE NATION today to promote Israel -- she's a US Jew who has some confusion about where she lives as evidenced by her constant references to "the homeland" when she means Israel: "And that's why I don't believe that there is a homeland security nexus to what unfolded last night in the homeland at this time based on sources that I've been speaking with."

There was a time when someone like that would either be balanced by another guest or just not allowed on due to the clear conflict of interest.  

Instead, she was allowed to pontificate endlessly. She's an idiot and one who should never, ever be allowed back in US government because, again, "the homeland" is not Israel -- not in the United States.  Her loyalties are questionable and she brought it on her own damn self.

And shame on CBS for putting that woman on the payroll.  Again, her loyalties are in question.  She clearly did not even realize that she'd referred to Israel as "the homeland."  It's not America's homeland and she's not acting like an American citizen.

How do we end up with the Jonathan Pollard's who betray their own country (the US) to provide classified information to the Israeli government and to spy on us for the Israeli government?  By looking the other way when they make it clear that their 'homeland' isn't the US, it's Israel.  This isn't minor.  A woman who worked for the NSS and Homeland Security went on television today and called Israel "the homeland."  She  should not ever have a security clearance again.





2024 Passings





1) "bad news (settlers shot a child in the back and adan canto has died)" -- Rebecca covers the passing of THE CLEANING LADY and DESIGNATED SURVIVOR star.


 2 and 3) "David Soul and Glynis Johns have passed" -- two passings -- one you knew from STARSKY & HUTCH, the other you knew from MARY POPPINS.

4) "Mary Weiss, The Leader of the Genre?" -- Elaine notes the passing of the leader of The Shangri-Las. 

5) "The death of Norman Jewison and the death of Taraji P. Henson's career" -- Stan notes the passing of film director Norman Jewison.


 6) "Melanie: Queen of the Music festivals ," "Thank you to Melanie (Jess)," "Jon Stewart to return to the desk," "Melanie, REACHER, young voters," "When are they going to arrest Kari Lake?," "We lose Melanie and Dexter King but are still stuck with Jonathan Turley?," "my top five melanie albums," "Ugly Chaya Chachi Ratchik," "Where's Florida's "Don't Say Southern Baptist" law?," and "Melanie, Mary Weiss, Green Day" -- remembering singer-songwriter Melanie.

7) "Norman Jewison and Melanie" -- Ruth notes Melanie and director Norman Jewison's passing. 

8) "Chita Rivera" -- a trailblazer's life is noted by Elaine.  

9) "Carl Weathers" -- Stan covers the actor and the athlete's passing.


10) "Richard Lewis" --  Ruth notes the passing of a stand up comic and actor.


11)  "Eric Carmen" -- Kat notes the passing of a singer-songwriter.


12)  "Louis Gossett Jr." -- Stan notes a passing of a breakthrough and Academy Award winning actor.


13) "I do Barbara Rush" -- Betty notes a passing of a golden age actress.


14) "Joe Flaherty" -- Stan notes a passing of a comic actor. 

15) "Robert MacNeil" -- Ruth notes a passing of a news anchor.


 16)  "meg bennett" -- Rebecca notes that passing of an actress and writer.




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