Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Truest statement of the week

When there is some outrage by a few who are called Hamas you rightly weep for its civilian victims. You cry terror and indeed it is terror. So in your mangled minds you do know what terror is. You loudly scream stop the carnage. And quite quickly it stops. You then silently scream for vengeance. When systematic massacre follows for months on end to demolish life and means of life by way of an army named defense and for a country named Israel that is in turn supported by your country and to whom you have ties that are sealed in corporate commercial contracts, your actions say go, go, go. Suddenly killing civilians is not terror.

One student on your campus—and it is your campus only because you are its fund raiser and despite that you teach and you learn nothing—complains to someone, somewhere, of feeling uncomfortable, of being inconvenienced. Your ears perk up. They open wide. They reverberate. You then commiserate. You feel outrage at the assault on education that the student’s discomfort conveys to you. Your eyes focus. You rear up to act. Police on parade.

Later another student says my family is incinerated and my college is connected to the incinerator from over here to over there, and I am aghast. You smile, your ears close, and you slumber on. Do your eyes and ears have filters? Or is it just that your donors, your fellow abettors of mayhem manifested in every direction threaten you with reprisals if you see or hear what is actually exploding over there and what is over here forged into your budget projections? Egad, my job!

Mr. or Ms. President of any college, is it simply that you really don’t care about us over there or about most of us over here? Are you simply monstrous? Or is that you are human but you have learned perhaps from your own college molding way back when to turn off your caring when it might create problems because you are a well trained coward over here?

Is there even one of you, even just one Mr. or Ms. College President anywhere in the courtyards and fields of academia whose eyes and ears still work? Whose compassion still exists? Whose sense of justice isn’t filtered? Or are each and every one of you without reason, exiled from logic, twisted into the opposite of humane—and along the way made pathetically cowardly? Could it be that students should redefine their schools so they themselves won’t be bent out of shape by society’s pliers and will instead be helped to see, hear, feel, and affect what is really going on over there and also over here?


-- Michael Albert, "Can You Hear, Do You See?" (ZNET).



Truest statement of the week II

Many people, including me, vehemently denounce anti-Semitism, one of the oldest and most vile, perverse hatreds in history. Any reasonable person should pause and reflect before concluding that a mostly political cohort of far right wing politicians that conducted the hearings was genuinely interested in protecting Jewish students’ well-being when two of its primary voices included Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, who has avidly touted White nationalist conspiracy theories, and Representative Rick Allen, a right-wing Republican congressman from Georgia, who routinely quoted Bible verses as a vehicle for dictating policy at a religiously diverse, pluralistic, secular university. Rather, the purpose of this supposed “genuine inquiry” was to attack higher education as bastions of critical thinking.

Mind you, these are the same individuals who went on the warpath to curtail holistic learning by disparaging and disrupting K-12 education across the country, prohibiting books by Black, LGBTQIA+, and Jewish authors, and pushing their sinister agenda by making debilitating and devastating incursions into public universities in more than a few states where it is no longer permissible to teach with intellectual truth and honesty about complex subjects such as slavery, race, and gender. However, in Florida you can make the case that “slavery was positive in that it provided ‘workers’ acquired skills that  benefited them during their lives.” It is important to note that workers receive compensation for their labor, whereas slaves did not. Now the House committee is attacking private universities as well.

The campaign against the independence of higher education has now found incendiary fuel from a new ally: a long-standing, well-organized movement of right-wing billionaires hell-bent on stifling, if not, outright eradicating non-White curricula and culture in art spaces, literary venues, public schools, and the larger society in general. For decades, this effort has relied on the false premise that any intense expression of a diverse, multi-religious, multicultural narrative is an attack on Judeo-Christian culture. Such a perverse notion is intellectually dishonest and absurd.

-- Elwood Watson, "Campus Student Protests" (THE BLACK COMMENTATOR).




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.




Repost from THE COMMON ILLS:

The assault on Gaza continues as we're now 29 away from a 35,000 death toll

British citizen  Nadav Popplewell has been held by Hamas since October 7th.  He is now said to be dead.  How did he die?  THE NATIONAL notes "from wounds sustained during Israeli shelling that hit his place of detention more than a month ago." ALJAZEERA adds:

On Saturday, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum in Israel released a statement calling on the Israeli government to strike a deal with Hamas in order to secure the release of captives.

“Every sign of life received from the hostages held by Hamas is another cry of distress to the Israeli government and its leaders,” the families’ group said in its statement.

“We don’t have a moment to spare! You must strive to implement a deal that will bring them all back today.”

Relatives of the captives also accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of not caring about those being held in Gaza and called on Netanyahu to resign.

“If we continue down this path, we will lose not only the hostages but the country itself,” Naama Weinberg, a cousin of one of the captives said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Saturday afternoon.

“There is no victory and can be no victory without the return of the hostages.”


Protesters return to streets across Israel, demanding hostage release

Thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government do more to secure the release of hostages being held in the Gaza Strip by Islamist group Hamas.

Family members of the hostages, carrying pictures of their loved ones still in captivity, joined the crowds that demonstrated in Tel Aviv.

One of them was Naama Weinberg, whose cousin Itai Svirsky was abducted during Hamas' Oct. 7 assault on Israeli towns and, according to Israeli authorities, was killed in captivity. In a speech she referenced a video Hamas made public on Saturday, claiming that another of the Israeli captives had died.

In other news, the US State Dept report  on abuses carried out by Israeli forces in Gaza finally got released yesterday.

Ellen Knickmeyer, Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee (AP) report:


The Biden administration said Friday that Israel’s use of U.S.-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law but that wartime conditions prevented U.S. officials from determining that for certain in specific airstrikes.

The finding of “reasonable” evidence to conclude that the U.S. ally had breached international law protecting civilians in the way it conducted its war against Hamas was the strongest statement that the Biden administration has yet made on the matter. It was released in a summary of a report being delivered to Congress on Friday.

But the caveat that the administration wasn’t able to link specific U.S. weapons to individual attacks by Israeli forces in Gaza could give the administration leeway in any future decision on whether to restrict provisions of offensive weapons to Israel. 

Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

Foreign policy and human rights experts on Friday sharply condemned the Biden administration's delayed report to Congress about Israeli assurances regarding U.S. weapons use in the Gaza Strip and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The historic assessment stems from National Security Memorandum 20, which President Joe Biden issued in February. NSM-20 requires Secretary of State Antony Blinken "to obtain certain credible and reliable written assurances from foreign governments" that they use U.S. arms in line with international humanitarian law (IHL) and will not "arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance." 

  The section on Israel—which spans about a third of the 46-page report—says that "given Israel's significant reliance on U.S.-made defense articles, it is reasonable to assess that defense articles covered under NSM-20 have been used by Israeli security forces since October 7 in instances inconsistent with its IHL obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm."

However, "we are not able to reach definitive conclusions on whether defense articles covered by NSM-20 were used in these or other individual strikes," it continues, listing examples that include the April strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen workers.

While noting that "Israel has not shared complete information" to verify U.S. weapons use, the report concludes that Israeli assurances are "credible and reliable so as to allow the provision of defense articles covered under NSM-20 to continue."

Israel also "did not fully cooperate" with the U.S. and international "efforts to maximize humanitarian assistance flow to and distribution within Gaza," the report states. While expressing "deep concerns" about Israel's action and inaction regarding much-needed relief, the document adds that "we do not currently assess that the Israeli government is prohibiting or otherwise restricting the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance within the meaning of Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act."

The report was initially due to be sent to Congress on Wednesday. Calling its release a "Friday news dump," Palestinian American political analyst Yousef Munayyer said, "This would be comical, if it wasn't aiding genocide."

Democracy for the Arab World Now executive director Sarah Leah Whitson took aim at the State Department, which she said "sinks to uncharted lows in twisting both the facts and the law to absolve Israel of responsibility for its well-documented use of U.S. weapons to commit war crimes and hindrance of U.S. humanitarian aid delivery."

"The State Department's report dutifully regurgitates every hoary defense Israel has long offered the world to justify its indefensible savagery in Gaza using U.S.-taxpayer funded military assistance," she continued. "It wants the world to reject the evidence of our eyes and ears with utterly implausible excuses."

"The State Department is seeking to create new loopholes in the law that don't exist, at once acknowledging that Israel HAS used U.S. weapons in violation of the laws of war and HAS hindered aid delivery, but excusing them from sanctions by claiming they are 'individual' violations and that Israel is remedying them," she added. "The law provides no such carve-outs from enforcement, and by the way, they're also utterly false claims."

Many critics of the war—called plausibly genocidal by the International Court of Justice in January—praised how detailed the document is but blasted its conclusions, which conflict with those of former State Department officials, U.S. lawmakers, and relief groups.

Doctors Without Borders issued the following statement on the report:

The Biden administration has delivered a report on whether Israel is conducting its war in Gaza in a way that violates international laws and impedes the delivery of US-supported humanitarian aid. 

The US Department of State’s report concluded that it is “reasonable to assess” that Israel has violated international humanitarian law in Gaza, though there is not enough information available to verify if any US weapons were used in specific incidents that contravened the law or US weapons policy.

In seven months, 35,000 people—mostly civilians—have been killed, including nearly 500 health workers. Israeli forces have obstructed aid by attacking humanitarian convoys and bombing and raiding hospitals. They have forced medical staff to hastily evacuate health care facilities and leave patients behind.

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) alone has been attacked 20 times, and five of our colleagues have been killed.

Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF USA, said of the report:

“The Biden administration’s analysis of Israel’s war in Gaza has not proceeded as a good faith effort to uphold US law. Instead, excuses about the impossibility of monitoring the deployment of American assistance serve to deflect responsibility.

The horrific reality we witness on the ground in Gaza is that Israeli military operations continue to maim and kill civilians and block the provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid. This can’t be chalked up to unintended consequences of war; the massive death, destruction, collective punishment, and forced displacement are the result of military and political choices that blatantly disregard civilian lives.

As the leading provider of military and financial support to Israel, the US has an obligation to assess if the conduct of the war is consistent with international and US laws designed to protect civilians and to apply the appropriate legal procedures.

The horrific reality we witness on the ground in Gaza is that Israeli military operations continue to maim and kill civilians and block the provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid.

Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF USA

While Israeli authorities have taken some measures to allow humanitarian access, steps taken thus far fall far short of what it promised and what is needed in a place where 85 percent of the population has been forced from their homes. Many live in makeshift tents without even basic necessities such as food, clean drinking water, and toilets.

Israel has also failed humanitarian organizations trying to provide impartial aid to people in Gaza. Israeli forces in Gaza and the West Bank have repeatedly attacked our Doctors Without Borders colleagues and facilities, and have failed to establish adequate deconfliction measures to ensure the protection of aid workers and patients. On May 6, a violent Israeli military incursion in Tulkarem and Nur Shams camps in the West Bank damaged a Doctors Without Borders-supported health facility and other essential infrastructure.

Even when Israel orders evacuations, international law requires it to protect civilians. Its military offensive currently underway in Rafah threatens to shatter the humanitarian response and destroy the local health system that has already been struggling to cope with overwhelming demands for months. A continued military escalation would represent a direct attack on a trapped population, with catastrophic consequences.

The closure of the Rafah border crossing makes it near-impossible for humanitarian organizations to sustain lifesaving operations, with fuel, food, medicines, and water supplies all running dangerously low.

Military activity in Rafah has already disrupted Doctors Without Borders operations, forcing us to move staff to safer locations and to anticipate evacuation orders of health care facilities full of patients. The few field hospitals or alternative structures being built will not be able to cope with a massive influx of wounded civilians on top of overwhelming medical needs.”

Let's drop back to yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: The first faculty-led Gaza encampment in the country was launched at The New School here in New York City Wednesday evening. Nearly two dozen professors and lecturers pitched tents inside the lobby of The New School’s main building on Fifth Avenue. They named their encampment after the Palestinian writer and poet Refaat Alareer, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza in December.

The faculty encampment was launched several days after the police raided a student encampment at The New School and arrested more than 40 students after the university administration called on the NYPD to clear the encampment. In a statement Thursday, The New School said it would not pursue criminal charges against the student protesters who were arrested. It also said it would be reactivating a college committee to examine the issue of divestment.

However, on Thursday evening, 12 people were arrested outside The New School as the faculty encampment continued inside. Last night, I got a text as the protest was heating up. I was walking my dog Zazu. We raced over to The New School, and I met up with Democracy Now! fellow Hana Elias, and we started reporting and recording.

PROTESTERS: Let him go! Let him go! Let him go! Let him go! Let him go!

AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! We’re standing in front of The New School. There are posters in the windows, a faculty encampment, the first in the country. The posters say “40K people dead. You arrest kids instead,” “All eyes on Rafah.” But the slogan of The New School here on the window is “Radical Democracy.” Two professors are here who are part of the encampment.

HALA MALAK: My name is Hala Malak. Have a few demands. The first one is we want The New School to divest from the 13 companies that are — that they have investments in weapons and manufacturing that are part and complicit in this war, so demilitarization of divestment, basically, of the school. Our second demand is that we would like all cops to be off campus indefinitely, and we also want the school to cut all ties with the NYPD.

PROTESTERS: Up, up with liberation! Down, down with the occupation!

SUNEIL SANZGIRI: My name is Suneil Sanzgiri. I’m a part-time faculty in the Culture and Media Department. I’m here because I teach a class on decolonization, and there is no better way to put into place the knowledge that students learn in our classrooms into practice. In the encampment that we see sweeping across the country, we know that the state repressive police forces are lock in step with the larger U.S. imperialist presence around the globe, and specifically with what’s happening in Palestine. And so we understand that what we’re doing here, the calls for divestment, are directly and materially impacting in an end to the genocide. And for us, as faculty, for the state violence that our students were subjected to and traumatized because of, we could not stand on the sidelines any longer. We knew we had to step up. Many faculty across the country have risked so much. And what we’re doing here is calling for all faculty across the country to step up, to risk more and to escalate, because we have to get all war profiteers out of our universities.

CLARA MATTEI: Hi. My name is Clara Mattei. I’m associate professor of economics at the NSSR. I’m out here because this is the struggle of the moment everyone has to be in. I must say that these encampments are places where culture actually explodes, emerges, connections are made. And ultimately, this is a fight against capitalism and the violence of capitalism at large.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re standing in front of the police van where they put a young Black man who they arrested. Then scores of people came, professors and students, to demand that he be let go. They sat in front of the police van. And now scores of police have come to arrest the people that are sitting in front of the van.

CRESA PUGH: My name is Cresa Pugh, and I’m assistant professor of sociology here at The New School. And I’m sitting here because as I was walking to support our students, in the encampment, the faculty encampment, they arrested one of my Black students, refused to tell me why they were arresting him, and promptly threw him in this van. And I am not going to stand up and let this van go until they let my Black student out of that van. And he was arrested for supporting Palestinian Gazans. Forty thousand have died. And you’re arresting this kid?

PROTESTERS: Let him go! Let him go! Let him go!

AMY GOODMAN: There are now dozens of police here. We’re right next to Parsons and The New School. Parsons has a plaque on it that says this is the site of W. E. B. Du Bois’s Crisis magazine and the headquarters of the NAACP, a place where Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen and others wrote. They’re arresting a young Black man. The crowd has been asking, many of them professors and students here at The New School, “Why is he being arrested?”

CRESA PUGH: Why will you not speak to us about our students? What is his name? I’m a professor here. I deserve to know who my student is that you have in this van.

NATASHA LENNARD: I’m Natasha Lennard, and I’m a faculty member at The New School of Social Research. I’m here to support my students. I’m here to stand in solidarity with other faculty members, other staff members who want to see an end to genocide. We’re also calling profoundly for cops off and away from campus. And this is what you see when you keep standing armies of NYPD in and near a campus. A small incident — and I didn’t see exactly what happened — but an incident has led now to many people being put at risk. A young man, a young Black man, is in police custody. None of this would happen if we didn’t have police ready because of the completely unnecessary actions of our administration in calling the police in on our students, like so many administrations around the country calling police in on a peaceful protest for the end to the genocide in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: Your name? And why are you being arrested?

NEW SCHOOL STAFF MEMBER: I’m being arrested for trying to protect a student at the university. I’m a staff member here. This is shameful. This all started because a student at this university was arrested with no cause. The police refused to give an answer. And now they’ve arrested more students.


AMY GOODMAN: Are you a student? Are you a professor?

DENIS MOYNIHAN: Tell us your name!

AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?

AMY GOODMAN: The person we were shouting to, who was being put into a police car, was Julieta Salgado. Her hands were zip-tied behind her back. But just before they put her into the car, a police officer unbuttoned her shirt and put her hands up and down her chest over her bra in full public view.

JULIETA SALGADO: Why did you undress me?

AMY GOODMAN: A total of 12 people were arrested on the streets outside The New School last night. Special thanks to Democracy Now! video fellow Hana Elias and Hany Massoud.

When we come back, we go to Princeton University, where over a dozen students are on hunger strike calling for divestment from companies with ties to Israel. We’ll speak with one of the hunger-striking students and with Larry Hamm. He’s running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from New Jersey. He’s also a Princeton alum who helped lead the protests there in the ’70s calling for Princeton to divest from apartheid South Africa. Stay with us.

Friday morning, Amy Goodman also noted:

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead has pulled out of his planned commencement speech at UMass Amherst next week after the police arrested over 100 students. He said, “Calling the cops on peaceful protesters is a shameful act.”

In a victory for the protest movement, Sacramento State in California agreed to review its investments so that it is not funding corporations that “profit from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and activities that violate fundamental human rights.”

Outside the U.S., Dutch riot police bulldozed a protest camp at the University of Amsterdam after students defied orders to dismantle.

Columbia University kicked off these waves of protests.  The students there stood up and demanded a halt to the attack on Gaza.  Columbia University is also where the face of genocide can be found in the president's office.  Minouche Shafik, a UK citizen who accepted a royal title thereby making clear that she may hold US citizenship but has no respect for US history, is evil and embraced her evil to attack the students.  She embarrassed herself and she embarrassed Columbia University.  Shea Vance (COLUMBIA SPECTATOR) reports:

Faculty in the Arts and Sciences began a vote of no confidence in University President Minouche Shafik on Wednesday, a move brought to the body by members of the Columbia chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

The group amended its initial motion to censure following Shafik’s April 30 authorization of the police sweep of the Hamilton Hall occupation and the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” The sweep was the second on the Morningside campus in two weeks, which has seen over 200 arrests since mid-April.

David Lurie, president of the Columbia AAUP chapter, said that while a motion to censure “refers to our judgment about past actions,” a vote of no confidence refers to “our feelings about the … potential for positive action in the future.”

“We have lost confidence in the capacity of the senior administration, as personified by the president, to make the right decisions for Columbia based on the series of mistakes and miscalculations and overreaches and violations of norms of governance and of standards of administrative behavior over the past academic year,” Lurie said.

The Columbia AAUP chapter released a statement on Wednesday regarding the vote to advance the no confidence amendment, writing that 295 voted in favor of the amendment to the motion, 107 voted against, and 32 abstained. According to the statement, roughly 1,000 faculty are eligible to participate in the vote on the motion, which will take place over the course of one week and began on Wednesday. The result of the initial vote “bodes well for the ultimate passage of the motion,” the statement reads.

Professors George Yancy and Judith Butler write at TRUTHOUT about the attacks on students and free speech being carried out on college campuses across the country.  At WSWS, Jacob Crosse notes, "In response to ongoing student-led protests against the US-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza, police departments across North America conducted violent, and, in many cases, tear gas-filled raids of anti-genocide encampments Thursday night and Friday. In addition to arrest, many students are facing suspension from their university for participating in demonstrations calling for an end to the mass murder of Palestinians and for their university to divest from war profiteers."  At THE NATION, Columbia University professor Helen Benedict writes, "As a tenured professor at Columbia’s Journalism School, I’ve been watching the student protests ever since the brutal Hamas attack of October 7, and I’ve been struck by the decorum of the protesting students, as angry and upset as they are on both sides. This has particularly impressed me knowing that several students are directly affected by the ongoing war. I have a Jewish student who has lost family and friends to the attack by Hamas, and a Palestinian student who learned of the deaths of her family and friends in Gaza while she was sitting in my class."  JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY notes, "Cornell University president Martha E. Pollack will step down from her position next month, the third Ivy League leader to announce her resignation amid fierce campus debate surrounding antisemitism and protests over the Israel-Hamas war."  On Friday, First Lady Jill Biden spoke to educators in Phoenix, Arizona.  MSNBC reports that at the speech "some of those educators got up and left" due to the administration being unable/unwilling to stop the assault on Gaza.  Fourth grade teacher Wendy Williams was among those walking out and she tells MSNBC, "I watch every single day children getting blown up by bombs my tax payer money goes to and, I mean then, I go into school and I see children who are under my care for the day and I'm responsible for their well being.  I just like can't live with that anymore.  So I don't mean disrespect to her.  I personally just cannot be in that room listening."  At THE NEW REPUBLIC, Wesleyan University president Michael S. Roth writes:

I have watched with sadness the police actions on some campuses, as well as the lack of police action in Los Angeles when an encampment was attacked by counterprotesters. I can well imagine that for most university presidents, calling in the police is the last resort. I too have depended on the law enforcement in the past, most heartbreakingly when a student was murdered on campus many years ago. I will certainly ask for police help if I need it to protect people, property, or university operations from criminal behavior.

It’s almost the end of the school year, and more than once I’ve been asked, “Don’t I wish we had just made it through a couple of more weeks without incident?” Mostly … no. How can I not respect students for paying attention to things that matter so much? I respect that they’re concerned about Gaza; I admire that they’re not entirely taken up with grades or lining up their credentials. Will their protest help? My fear is that such protests (especially when they turn violent) in the end will help the reactionary forces of populist authoritarianism. I also think student protesters are wrong to focus on university investments. I would prefer they use their energies to pressure the U.S. government to do more to get the hostages released, to stop supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war tactics, and to bring more direct aid to people in Gaza on the brink of starvation. My team expects to discuss all of this with students in the coming days. Right now, I’m most concerned with protecting their right to protest in nonviolent ways that don’t undermine our educational program. For me, the modest violations of the rules are preferable to the narrow-minded vocationalism that others seem suddenly to pine for.


Nathan Dalton (BERKELEYSIDE) reports:

UC Berkeley’s massive commencement ceremony took place mostly as planned on Saturday, amid nationwide tension on college campuses over Israel’s war in Gaza and fears that protesters in progressive Berkeley would disrupt the proceedings.

The ceremony was interrupted at several points by demonstrators, whose numbers ranged as low as a few dozen early in the commencement, to hundreds as students in mortar boards, some wearing Palestinian keffiyas, joined the protesters to chant, “Free Palestine” and “Hey hey, ho, ho, the occupation has got to go.”

About 34,000 Gazans have been killed in Israel’s monthslong military response to an Oct. 7 attack by the militant group Hamas in which more than 1100 people died and 250 were taken hostage.

Berkeley’s administrators have taken a tack different from those at some other high profile campuses when dealing with protests that have roiled universities across the United States, refraining from calling police on student encampments set up to protest the war and acknowledging protesters’ concerns. 

Kiana Sezawar Keshavarz and Ayah Ali-Ahmad (THE DAILY CALIFORNIAN) also report on the US Berkeley commencement:

Pro-Palestine protesters rallied at the UC Berkeley Class of 2024 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, denouncing the war in Gaza and calling for the university’s divestment from Israel.

The protest follows a surge of similar pro-Palestine demonstrations across college campuses as the academic year comes to a close.

The commencement, located inside California Stadium, began at 10:35 a.m. with speakers stating that participants may not “engage in ways that disrupts the event,” such as holding up banners and signs that may disrupt the event and shouting over speakers.

However, following a speech by Chancellor Carol Christ, who opened the ceremony acknowledging recent student protests on campus and the “terrible tragedy … in Gaza,” students raised Palestinian flags and held up signs calling for campus and UC divestment from companies with connections to Israel.

Following Columbia University students' lead, protests spread around the country and around the world.  Jeanine Santucci and Eduardo Cuevas (USA TODAY) note, "Police moved in on protesters at an encampment at the University of Calgary in western Canada on Thursday, using what they called 'non-lethal munitions'."  Christopher Reynolds (THE CANADIAN PRESS) reports, "Edmonton police dismantled a pro-Palestinian encampment on the University of Alberta's campus on Saturday, prompting outrage from students and academics who described the operation as violent and contested allegations that demonstrators were breaking the law.  Organizers said police fired tear gas and pepper-spray balls and wielded batons against students at the university's north campus quad shortly after arriving at 4:30 a.m., resulting in one hospitalization and several attendees placed in zip-tie handcuffs."  Diego Stacey (EL PAIS) notes, "The spark that was lit in the United States, and that has spread to Europe, has also appeared in different Spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia."

Gaza remains under assault. Day 218 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, "At least 34,971 Palestinians have been killed and 78,641 injured in Israel's offensive on Gaza since October 7, the Gaza Health Ministry said on Saturday. In the past 24 hours, 28 people were killed and 69 injured, the ministry added in a statement."  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 NATIONAL reports, "A doctor and his dentist son were killed in overnight attacks on Deir Al Balah, Palestinian media has reported, as strikes on northern and central Gaza intensify. Paediatric surgeon Muhammad Nimr Qazaat, 72, was killed alongside his son Yousef, 33, according to the Wafa news agency."  ALJAZEERA notes:

  • Israeli fighter jets “carpet-bombed” the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, killing and wounding several Palestinians, according to our correspondents and the Wafa news agency. The exact death toll was not immediately known.
  • In other areas of Gaza, Israeli attacks killed some 27 Palestinians overnight, including several children in southern Rafah, and paediatric surgeon Muhammad Nimr Qazaat, 72, and his son Youssef, 33, in central Deir el-Balah.
  • Civil Defence crews said all hospitals in north Gaza are now out of service, while UN aid agencies operating in the south said they are set to run out of food aid amid the ongoing Israeli blockade.
  • EU’s Josep Borrell added his voice to the growing chorus of concern over a possible Israeli ground assault on Rafah as Palestinians continued to flee the southern city.
  • In northern Israel, rocket sirens blared as Israeli forces and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group continued to exchange fire. In southern Israel, three people were lightly injured after rockets launched from Gaza hit a home in the city of Ashkelon.

The following sites updated:

Media: The stupid return to target Target and a man writes a really dull, boring book

It's that time of the year, where the salmon swim upstream and the stupid come out to do stupid things.

Check Twitter (we don't work for Elon Musk, we'll call it Twitter) and you'll find that shuts ins are gearing up for attacks.  Not Target though.  They believe they've done their duty there with last year's actions.  The stupid intimidated Target into dropping Pride merchandise.  Of course, it didn't take much to intimidate Target.

Include them in the stupid.  Everyone who broke down displays and/or tossed and tore clothing should have been arrested and barred from the store.  Not only did the stupid post video on Twitter incriminating themselves last year, Target also has cameras in their stores.  In fact, a Target store prosecuted a customer who bent/broke a vinyl album in this same period.  

But they were too scared of the overweight Dollar Store shoppers.  Afraid they'd lost the non-customers as customers.  They bragged about in June last year.  How they went into the "overpriced" Target that they avoid -- they all noted they avoided it -- and tore down displays.  

No arrests got made.

And Target proved so pathetic that they refused to prosecute.  So now this will happen to other stores.  And Target is so pathetic that they've announced approximately half their stores will not carry Pride merchandise this June.  

So the bullies claim the victory that Target handed them. 

And they're still not satisfied.

They post video of themselves on Twitter pissing on the Pride flag.

They like to note that Pride "is a sin."

Strange how you don't see these same mentally incompetent going after Lee Greenwood, right?  "And I'm proud to be an American . . ."  That's what he sings, right?  If God's against pride, then he's against that song.  Guess the knuckle draggers better start calling country music stations and telling never to play that song again.  Same with James Brown's "Say It Loud I'm Black and I'm Proud Pt. 2" or how about those bumper stickers with "Proud Parent of a US Marine"?  

These uneducated hate merchants pretend that they really feel pride is a sin . . . as long as it just has to do with gay people.  Interestingly enough though, they weren't doing Pride events in Biblical times so clearly the Bible's talking about something else.  

But then simple-minded fools rarely learn how to read well -- and, no, being able to read words alone does not make you a good reader.  You need to be able to comprehend them as well, to put them into context and to be able to debate meaning and intent.

Otherwise, a stuffed pillow how more knowledge than you.

A stuffed pillow did not write WITH LOVE, MOMMIE DEAREST: THE MAKING OF AN UNINTENTIONAL CAMP CLASSIC but it appears a puffed Cheeto did.  It's name?  A. Ashley Hoff.

The book fails on every level.  It's not even able to be entertaining because a self-righteous pig authored it.

Know going in, that the man hates women.  He pretends otherwise.  But any woman with actual power is dismissed and/or attacked.  For the latter see his portrayals of Joan Crawford -- the Mommie Dearest of the title -- and Faye Dunaway who played her in the film MOMMIE DEAREST.

Hoff stakes his reputation on . . .  We were going to say the book Christina Crawford wrote about her mother (MOMMIE DEAREST) but he honestly doesn't seem familiar with the book.

That may be the least of his problems.

But he stakes his reputation -- inflated as "Hollywood historian" by some publications.  Calling, for example, Jeanine Basinger a Hollywood historian?  No problem.  That's what she is.  That's what the late Robert Osborne was.  Though Ben Mankiewicz's work is more TV and podcast, we would also have no problem calling him a Hollywood historian or, in fact, any of the TCM hosts.


His only other book covered the TV game show MATCH GAME.  And, as he demonstrates repeatedly in the pages of his MOMMIE DEAREST book, history is not his specialty.

He complains about director Frank Perry (and the screenwriters) having Joan come home from being dropped by the MGM studio and ripping apart her rose garden.  He  notes that she had gone on to sign with WARNER BROTHERS.  Huff claims in the book that she was dropped by MGM but that same day she was signed by WARNER BROTHERS.  That would certainly be a fast turnaround.  Fired by MGM in the late afternoon and signed by WB before the end of the work day.  

But that's not what happened.

After 18 years, Crawford requested to be released from her contract with MGM, which was terminated by mutual consent on June 29, 1943. In lieu of the last film remaining under her contract, MGM bought her out for $100,000.

First off, she asked to be let go and that was granted on June 29, 1943,  Second, she signed with WB on July 1, 1943.  

He can't get anything right.  And he's huffing about the scene insisting that some people don't believe Christina's claims about the rose garden being chopped down due to the film because Joan was signed on the same day.

Again, she wasn't.

More to the point, the film has the infamous, "Tina, bring me the axe!"  It's not in the book.  In Christina's book, Christina and her ghost writer insist Joan asked for a saw.  

Again, he's unfamiliar with the book.  

More to the point, people doubt that happening because the US entered WWII in December of 1941.  Immediately after, Joan had all her flower gardens removed and replaced with victory gardens. There was no rose garden or any flower garden at Joan's home in 1943.  

He's unaware of that critique although it's one of the most famous.

Equally true, though Christina claims she began washing dishes at the age of four, it's highly doubtful that at the age of four she would be there.    And where is actor Philip Terry during this late night attack on the rose garden in 1943?  Joan married him in 1942 and they separated in 1945.  Where was Philip?

And in the book and in the film, we have adopted son Christopher present.  In October of 1978, Christopher was 35.  Even by our limited math skills, that means he was born in 1943 (or November or December of 1942).

Can someone explain why an infant is portrayed in the book and in the film chopping down a rose garden?  

The incident never made sense and was attacked from the start.

One of those noting that none Christina's claims made sense was Myrna Loy -- Joan's friend of fifty years.

So naturally, Huff attacks her.  

He wants you to believe she had no idea what happened at home.

But when bitter Helen Hayes -- notorious for attacking every female actress from Katharine Hepburn to Lucille Ball to Bette Davis -- wants to vouch for the abuse, Huff believes those claims.

But Myrna knows nothing?  Myrna knew Christina better than most.  She knew her as a bratty child and she knew her as a bratty adult.  As an adult, the two of them worked together on the play BAREFOOT IN THE PARK.  Briefly.  It was 1965 and Christina was a replacement who would not follow direction.  No one wanted to stand up to her so Myrna called Neil Simon to come and see what Christina was doing to the role.  She was fired on the spot.

He is convinced that Joan beat Christina and Christopher.  Somehow, she miraculously changed when the twins came along Cathy and Cindy (no, they weren't really twins).  That makes sense to him.  She's older, drinking more, her career is in danger each year but she's no longer beating children?

It's amazing how many lies and how much stupidity is in his book.

Christopher was put into bed, strapped in nightly.  

No one ever asks why.

It was because in Joan's time, parents thought masturbation was a sickness or worse.  And Christopher touched himself and later ended up strapped in each night as a result.

In the book he's written, Huff repeatedly gets things wrong.  That includes dialogue from the movie he supposedly loves.  And supposedly knows. 

But he clearly doesn't know the movie and he clearly doesn't know how to do research.

Christina Crawford, unlike her mother, had a brief acting career that was a total flop.  In fact, Gloria Monty told us both what a failure Christina was on THE SECRET STORM in the sixties.  A failure, rude and unable to work well the rest of the cast.  Why do we bring that up?

In her book, and in the film, Christina whines that Joan Crawford took over Christina's part when Christina was hospitalized.  The film mocks Joan, in fact.  Per Gloria, Joan brought in viewers.  Everyone wanted to see legendary film star Joan Crawford fill in for her daughter.  Joan took the role to save her daughter's job -- Gloria confirmed that to us, that only when she (Gloria) said that they'd have to let Christina go did Joan volunteer to fill in.

That's not in the movie or the book.

In the movie, Belita Moreno plays Belinda Rosenberg.  Twice in his bad book, Huff says she's a soap opera director.  

Uh, no, that role is based on Gloria Monty.  Did we get it wrong, we wondered, because we knew Gloria and we knew she was the model for the character?

We pulled up MOMMIE DEAREST on PARAMOUNT+.  Nope, we're not wrong.

Moreno's Belinda Rosenberg, in the hospital scene with Joan, introduces herself as the producer of the soap opera Christina is on.  Not the director.

Has Huff actually watched MOMMIE DEAREST?

He twice says Belinda Rosenberg was a "soap opera director."  No, that's not in the film.

Huff feels Christina has told the truth in her book.  He knows nothing about her or about Joan Crawford.  If he did, so many claims made by Christiana in her book would stick out.

Do we think Joan Crawford beat Christina?  We don't know but we're more inclined to side with Joan since Christina has far too many factual errors and was refuted in real time by people that Huff ignores.  Nor does he help himself out with who he chooses to attack and who he chooses to embrace.  

He thinks the sun rises and sets on Tracy Hotchner.  We wonder what street corner he sees her standing under because we have no respect for her.

She calls herself an actress and it is true that she was in LITTLE BIG MAN in 1970.  She played "flirtatious girl" and if you sit through the credits, you will discover that she's the 39th billed performer.  It's also true that she appeared in the Joan Rivers directed film RABBIT TEST (1978).  She played the demanding role of "woman in crowd"  where she was the 47th billed performer.  (That may be 48th.  We really don't care to recount.)  So she was an extra.  She wasn't an actress.  She also claims she was a writer.  She co-created the TV flop BIG SHAMUS LITTLE SHAMUS.  She didn't write a single episode but got screen credit for all three as a co-creator.  Other than that?  MOMMIE DEAREST.  If you're a fan of the film (we're honestly not), that may be news to you.  That's because for years she did not have a co-writing credit.  She slept with Frank Yablas, a producer on the film (we'll come back to that), and she says she wrote the first draft and 80% of the script was by her.  She didn't get that credit in real time.  Or during the 80s.  After she married Frank Yablas in the 90s, she got that credit retroactively.

Did she earn it for writing?  If she did, she's pretty damn pathetic.  Women  have had to struggle to get credit in the entertainment industry and if she did indeed write some or even 80% of the script and let the man she was sleeping with take away her credit, she harmed all women.

The main reason we don't care for her is because she's a snob and she has nothing to be snobbish about.  A failure of multiple decades, she has a hissy fit that Lee Harman claims credit for talking Faye Dunaway into portraying Joan Crawford -- and Huff goes along with the snobbery.  He, she wants you to know, was just Faye's make up man. 

Yes, he was Faye's make up artist in the TV movie Evita and the mini-series THE DISAPPEARANCE OF AIMEE,  the films THE CHAMP, EYES OF LAURA MARS, NETWORK, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR and CHINATOWN.  And those are before MOMMIE DEAREST.  After, he'd do her make up for the TV movie BEVERLY HILLS MADAM and the TV mini-series CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, and the films SUPERGIRL, THE WICKED LADY and THE TEMP.   In all, he worked on her makeup form 1974 to 1993.

Clearly, Faye trusted his judgment.

And failed actress and writer Hotchner is a snob and an idiot.  Your trusted team is who you take advice from if you're an actor or an actress.  You spend more time speaking with makeup and hair on a film than you do with a director.  Lee thought Faye looked like Joan Crawford.  It's really rude to insult hair and make up but for someone pretending to know about films -- Hotchner and Huff -- it's also very stupid.

Take Huff's portrayal of Kathryn Blondell.

If you're in the industry, you know Blondell and you know that she's an award winning hairstylist.

If you only encounter her in Huff's bad book, she's 'just' the woman who did Goldie Hawn's hair in PRIVATE BENJAMIN.  And she has no experience with wigs.

She had a lot of experience with wigs.  And before MOMMIE DEAREST, she did Goldie's hair a lot -- SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES, PRIVATE BENJAMIN, LOVERS & LIARS, THE DUCHESS AND THE DIRT WATER FOX and SHAMPOO.  And she didn't just work on Goldie's films before MOMMIE DEAREST, she also did the hair for HAROLD & MAUDE, THE GETAWAY, THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT, THE TURNING POINT, THE MANCHU EAGLE MURDER CAPER MYSTERY, WINTER KILLS, CHAPTER TWO and many more.  But, by all means, Huff, lie and present her as someone with only one film credit.  

And why, why, why did Faye not want to use Joan's hairstylist!!!!!  Vivienne Walker did Joan's hair in the 40s and 50s!!!!!  And this was a film being made in the 1980s. And Vivienne was at least 67 years old.  Times had changed.  

That also goes to the issue of costumes.  Faye and Irene Sharaff did not get along!!!!

This is supposed to be an indictment of Faye Dunaway.  But who did get along with Sharaff after the end of the long term, exclusive contracts with a studio?

Answer: No one.

She played queen bee and diva on Willie Wyler's FUNNY GIRL -- upsetting both Wyler and Barbra Streisand.  On the following Streisand film both Barbra and director Gene Kelly would confront Sharaff over her ridiculous gowns that included one for a dancing scene that Barbra would have repeatedly tripped over.  Sharaff was a diva and a control junkie.  Her not liking Faye Dunaway only matters to the uninformed.

Which is Huff repeatedly who wants to suggest that Faye isn't this or that -- then why even bring it up?

One time it's to tell you that she's not a thief.  Shooting on the beach, she was wearing jewelry that the production had borrowed from FRANIS KLEIN ESTATE JEWELS.  And it disappeared!!!!!  A fifty-thousand dollar broach disappeared. Huff wants you to know that no one accused Faye of stealing it (nor should they have) and that it added to the cost of the film.

Uh, no, it did not.

He knows nothing about film.  If a production borrows jewelry, costumes, whatever, and it turns up missing?  That's why they take out insurance.  

Huff knows nothing about films.  (We pray -- pray -- that Michael Musto did his cover blurb before he read this bad book.)

WITH LOVE, MOMMIE DEAREST: THE MAKING OF AN UNINTENTIONAL CAMP CLASSIC was written by a moron and is it the worst kind of book in the world: Boring.

It's about all we can expect from the stupid this time of year.

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