Saturday, October 14, 2023


Here's Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH):

+ The reports were horrific and they ignited the internet for three days: Hamas had killed and beheaded 40 babies in the village of Kfar Aza. It’s the kind of story that would make the most devout Quaker want to pick up a rocket launcher. But did it happen? Even Biden fell for (or exploited for his own purposes), the ghoulish reports: “I never really thought that I would see…have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.” The White House had to walk this claim back hours later, admitting that U.S. officials and the president have not seen pictures or confirmed such reports independently. (He was arrested in South Africa trying to free Nelson Mandela, too.)

Four days later, the IDF, whose soldiers retook the village and recovered the bodies of its slain inhabitants, still refused to confirm the account, which originated with Israel’s i24 News, a network with close ties to the Netanyahu family. One of the primary sources for the story appears to have been a militant Israeli settler leader named David Ben Zion, who has a history of making calls for mass violence against Palestinians.  There are plenty of precedents for this type of story, perhaps none more glaring than the allegation that Iraq forces had killed hundreds of Kuwaiti babies by throwing them out of their incubators leaving them to die on hospital floors, a claim used to justify the Gulf War. It didn’t take much digging to expose the heart-wrenching story as a fraud, part of a propaganda campaign run by the Hill and Knowlton PR firm and financed by the government of Kuwait. 

A distorted lens is being used by the media and it is the Palestinians who will again suffer as a result.  

It's times like these that really depress.  Change comes so slowly.  That said, it's a change and awareness that is increasing.  These assaults on Palestinians are getting harder and harder to sell to the general American public which is why the lies are getting more extreme.

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.  That's a book classic written by Howard Zinn.

Zinn became problematic at the end.  Do we blame him?  Do we blame his acolyte Anthony Arnove?

Arnove wrote the introduction to the copy that KINDLE UNLIMITED is offering currently.  It was Arnove, of course, who urged Howard to become a political hack.  It was 2008 and Howard and Noam Chomsky both endorsed Barack Obama for president until they got pushback because that's hardly revolutionary -- even faux revolutionary.  So they came back a little later with one endorsing Ralph Nader and the other endorsing Cynthia McKinney and it was so fake ass.

Then, of course, Arnove was fundraising for the inaugural bash that he and Howie attended.

I don't take Arnove seriously and it's not just because he's so goofy.  It's also because he pretended to care about Iraq.  Even wrote a book entitled IRAQ: THE LOGIC OF 2006.  It's nearly 20 years later and US troops are still on the ground.  If there was logic to withdrawal in 2006, I'd assume the logic increased in all the years since.  But no word from Arnove, right?

Zinn's book is about the reality of US history.  About how slavery is a key component from the start with the expedition led by Christopher Columbus enslaving (and wiping out) natives.  They was supposed to be rivers of gold in the new land, Columbus lied to get more money for his mission, and there were tons of slaves to be had.  On those lies, the 'new world' became the focus of colonization.  Destruction.  The people entering thought they had the right to do this, they had, as Bob Dylan sang, God on their side.

 The Indians’ attempts to defend themselves failed. And when they ran off into the hills they were found and killed. So, Las Casas reports, “they suffered and died in the mines and other labors in desperate silence, knowing not a soul in the world to whom they could turn for help.”

Sounds like Gaza, doesn't it?

Which is why Howard's book was so important and was so threatening to many at the top of the power structure.  

History looks a lot different when it's not glorifying murder and abuse but instead recognizing the reality of these 'grand moments' that harmed so many.

Again from the book:

My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)—that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth. We have learned to give them exactly the same proportion of attention that teachers and writers often give them in the most respectable of classrooms and textbooks. This learned sense of moral proportion, coming from the apparent objectivity of the scholar, is accepted more easily than when it comes from politicians at press conferences. It is therefore more deadly. The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks)—the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress—is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they—the Founding Fathers, Jackson,

The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks)—the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress—is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders.

That's what threatened many in power about the book.  That's also what it makes it a great book, a necessary book, even now, over forty-years after the first edition was published.

From the section on World War II:

Was the war being fought to establish that Hitler was wrong in his ideas of white Nordic supremacy over “inferior” races? The United States’ armed forces were segregated by race. When troops were jammed onto the Queen Mary in early 1945 to go to combat duty in the European theater, the blacks were stowed down in the depths of the ship near the engine room, as far as possible from the fresh air of the deck, in a bizarre reminder of the slave voyages of old. 

The Red Cross, with government approval, separated the blood donations of black and white. It was, ironically, a black physician named Charles Drew who developed the blood bank system. He was put in charge of the wartime donations, and then fired when he tried to end blood segregation. Despite the urgent need for wartime labor, blacks were still being discriminated against for jobs. A spokesman for a West Coast aviation plant said: “The Negro will be considered only as janitors and in other similar capacities. . . . Regardless of their training as aircraft workers, we will not employ them.” Roosevelt never did anything to enforce the orders of the Fair Employment Practices Commission he had set up.

The Fascist nations were notorious in their insistence that the woman’s place was in the home. Yet, the war against Fascism, although it utilized women in defense industries where they were desperately needed, took no special steps to change the subordinate role of women. The War Manpower Commission, despite the large numbers of women in war work, kept women off its policymaking bodies. A report of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, by its director, Mary Anderson, said the War Manpower Commission had “doubts and uneasiness” about “what was then regarded as a developing attitude of militancy or a crusading spirit on the part of women leaders. . . .” 

In one of its policies, the United States came close to direct duplication of Fascism. This was in its treatment of the Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast. After the Pearl Harbor attack, anti-Japanese hysteria spread in the government. One Congressman said: “I’m for catching every Japanese in America, Alaska and Hawaii now and putting them in concentration camps. . . . Damn them! Let’s get rid of them!”

Franklin D. Roosevelt did not share this frenzy, but he calmly signed Executive Order 9066, in February 1942, giving the army the power, without warrants or indictments or hearings, to arrest every Japanese-American on the West Coast—110,000 men, women, and children—to take them from their homes, transport them to camps far into the interior, and keep them there under prison conditions. Three-fourths of these were Nisei—children born in the United States of Japanese parents and therefore American citizens. The other fourth—the Issei, born in Japan—were barred by law from becoming citizens. In 1944 the Supreme Court upheld the forced evacuation on the grounds of military necessity. The Japanese remained in those camps for over three years. 

Michi Weglyn was a young girl when her family experienced evacuation and detention. She tells (Years of Infamy) of bungling in the evacuation, of misery, confusion, anger, but also of Japanese-American dignity and fighting back. There were strikes, petitions, mass meetings, refusal to sign loyalty oaths, riots against the camp authorities. The Japanese resisted to the end. 

Not until after the war did the story of the Japanese-Americans begin to be known to the general public. The month the war ended in Asia, September 1945, an article appeared in Harper’s Magazine by Yale Law Professor Eugene V. Rostow, calling the Japanese evacuation “our worst wartime mistake.” Was it a “mistake”—or was it an action to be expected from a nation with a long history of racism and which was fighting a war, not to end racism, but to retain the fundamental elements of the American system? 

It was a war waged by a government whose chief beneficiary—despite volumes of reforms—was a wealthy elite. The alliance between big business and the government went back to the very first proposals of Alexander Hamilton to Congress after the Revolutionary War. By World War II that partnership had developed and intensified. During the Depression, Roosevelt had once denounced the “economic royalists,” but he always had the support of certain important business leaders. During the war, as Bruce Catton saw it from his post in the War Production Board: “The economic royalists, denounced and derided . . . had a part to play now. . . .” 

Catton (The War Lords of Washington) described the process of industrial mobilization to carry on the war, and how in this process wealth became more and more concentrated in fewer and fewer large corporations. In 1940 the United States had begun sending large amounts of war supplies to England and France. By 1941 three-fourths of the value of military contracts were handled by fifty-six large corporations. A Senate report, “Economic Concentration and World War II,” noted that the government contracted for scientific research in industry during the war, and although two thousand corporations were involved, of $1 billion spent, $400 million went to ten large corporations. 

Management remained firmly in charge of decision making during the war, and although 12 million workers were organized in the CIO and AFL, labor was in a subordinate position. Labor-management committees were set up in five thousand factories, as a gesture toward industrial democracy, but they acted mostly as disciplinary groups for absentee workers, and devices for increasing production. Catton writes: “The big operators who made the working decisions had decided that nothing very substantial was going to be changed.” 

Despite the overwhelming atmosphere of patriotism and total dedication to winning the war, despite the no-strike pledges of the AFL and CIO, many of the nation’s workers, frustrated by the freezing of wages while business profits rocketed skyward, went on strike. During the war, there were fourteen thousand strikes, involving 6,770,000 workers, more than in any comparable period in American history. In 1944 alone, a million workers were on strike, in the mines, in the steel mills, in the auto and transportation equipment industries. 

When the war ended, the strikes continued in record numbers—3 million on strike in the first half of 1946. According to Jeremy Brecher (Strike!), if not for the disciplinary hand of the unions there might have been “a general confrontation between the workers of a great many industries, and the government, supporting the employers.” 

In Lowell, Massachusetts, for example, according to an unpublished manuscript by Marc Miller (“The Irony of Victory: Lowell During World War II”), there were as many strikes in 1943 and 1944 as in 1937. It may have been a “people’s war,” but here was dissatisfaction at the fact that the textile mill profits grew 600 percent from 1940 to 1946, while wage increases in cotton goods industries went up 36 percent. How little the war changed the difficult condition of women workers is shown by the fact that in Lowell, among women war workers with children, only 5 percent could have their children taken care of by nursery schools; the others had to make their own arrangements.


That's why the book matters.

That and the fact that it's well written.  Poorly written and it would have reached few.  Instead, it's become one of the best known leftist books in US history.  

It tells us what happened and how it effected people.  It's pertinent for that reason.  Sadly, it's also pertinent because these issues still matter and some still work to suppress the rights and existence of others.  

In 2023, the following excerpt may be the most needed in this country:

In the sixties and seventies, it was not just a women’s movement, a prisoner’s movement, an Indian movement. There was general revolt against oppressive, artificial, previously unquestioned ways of living. It touched every aspect of personal life: childbirth, childhood, love, sex, marriage, dress, music, art, sports, language, food, housing, religion, literature, death, schools. 

The new temper, the new behavior, shocked many Americans. It created tensions. Sometimes it was seen as a “generation gap”—the younger generation moving far away from the older one in its way of life. But it seemed after a while to be not so much a matter of age—some young people remained “straight” while some middle-aged people were changing their ways and old people were beginning to behave in ways that astounded others. 

Sexual behavior went through startling changes. Premarital sex was no longer a matter for silence. Men and women lived together outside of marriage, and struggled for words to describe the other person when introduced: “I want you to meet my . . . friend.” Married couples candidly spoke of their affairs, and books appeared discussing “open marriage.” Masturbation could be talked about openly, even approvingly. Homosexuality was no longer concealed. “Gay” men and “gay” women—lesbians—organized to combat discrimination against them, to give themselves a sense of community, to overcome shame and isolation. 

All this was reflected in the literature and in the mass media. Court decisions overruled the local banning of books that were erotic or even pornographic. A new literature appeared (The Joy of Sex and others) to teach men and women how sexual fulfillment could be attained. The movies now did not hesitate to show nudity, although the motion picture industry, wanting to preserve principle as well as profit, set up a classification system (R for Restricted, X for prohibited to children). The language language of sex became more common both in literature and in ordinary conversation. 

All this was connected with new living arrangements. Especially among young people, communal living arrangements flourished. A few were truly communes—that is, based on the sharing of money and decisions, creating a community of intimacy, affection, trust. Most were practical arrangements for sharing the rent, with varying degrees of friendship and intimate association among the participants. It was no longer unusual for men and women to be “roommates”—in groups of two or three or larger, and without sexual relations—as practical, unselfconscious arrangements. 

The most important thing about dress in the cultural change of the sixties was the greater informality. For women it was a continuation of the historic feminist movement’s insistence on discarding of “feminine,” hampering clothes. Many women stopped wearing bras. The restrictive “girdle”— almost a uniform of the forties and fifties—became rare. Young men and women dressed more nearly alike, in jeans, in discarded army uniforms. Men stopped wearing neckties, women of all ages wore pants more often—unspoken homage to Amelia Bloomer. 

There was a new popular music of protest. Pete Seeger had been singing protest songs since the forties, but now he came into his own, his audiences much larger. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, singing not only protest songs, but songs reflecting the new abandon, the new culture, became popular idols. A middle-aged woman on the West Coast, Malvina Reynolds, wrote and sang songs that fit her socialist thinking and her libertarian spirit, as well as her critique of the modern commercial culture. Everybody now, she sang, lived in “little boxes” and they “all came out just the same.”

Hate merchants are working to turn back all of that.  They think they can.  I don't think they can.  I think they will try but I think the people want freedom.  That is, after all, at the heart of every page of Howard Zinn's book.

[FYI, I've disclosed this before, but I knew Howard Zinn for many years.]

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, October 13, 2023.  Rallies throughout the Middle East call for an end to the assault on Gaza.

Baghdad, this morning.

Thousands of Iranians and Iraqis took to the streets of their respective capitals, Tehran and Baghdad on Firday, in a powerful display of support for the Palestinian people. 

Demonstrators rallied, waving flags and banners that conveyed their condemnation of the US and Israel.

[. . .]

This outpouring of solidarity was not confined to Iran and Iraq alone. Similar rallies were organized in various cities across Iraq and Jordan, with additional demonstrations anticipated in countries such as Pakistan,Syria, and Lebanon later in the day.

Iraqi youth were organizing for today's protest starting Saturday evening.  Over a week of work put in.  It's the youth and its the mood in the country and most of all its Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani that are responsible for the turnout.

Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has condemned the bloody onslaught launched by Israel against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, calling on the international community to act swiftly to put an end to the atrocities committed by the regime in the besieged territory.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Ayatollah Sistani’s office described the ongoing situation in Gaza as a catastrophe taking place before the eyes of the entire world.

The statement said almost no place in Gaza is currently safe for the people after five days of bombardment which has left behind massive destruction and killed and injured some 6,000 people.

It said the occupying regime’s imposition of a total blockade on Gaza which has cut food, water and medicine supplies to the coastal territory shows that the regime is seeking to compensate its losses in recent confrontation with Palestinian fighters by wreaking vengeance on the people of Gaza.

REUTERS quoted al-Sistani stating,  "Ending the tragedy of this honourable people, which has been ongoing for seven decades, by attaining them their legitimate right and ending the occupation from their usurped lands, is the only way to achieve peace and security in this region. Without that, the resistance will continue against aggressors and the cycle of violence will continue to claim more innocent lives."

As protests take place around the Middle East, Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports this morning, "The Israeli military on Friday ordered the entire population of northern Gaza -- roughly 1.1 million people -- to evacuate to the southern half of the occupied territory within 24 hours, prompting fears of an even worse humanitarian catastrophe as Israel readies a ground invasion and continues its disastrous bombing campaign."

Instead of focusing on that destructive reality, the US corporate media is more interested in selling ongoing destruction.  And its interested in an attacking any who might try to speak out against this destruction.   In the US Congress and on the airwaves of FOX "NEWS," Rashida Tlaib is attacked.  Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

Facing attacks by fellow Democrats and a censure motion from a Republican congressman from her home state of Michigan, Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Wednesday accused her critics of intentionally misportraying her as a Hamas sympathizer due to her condemnation of Israeli war crimes in Palestine.

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.)—whose third-biggest campaign contributor during the 2022 election cycle was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—on Wednesday introduced a motion to censure Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, for what he called "her antisemitism and disgraceful response to the attacks on our ally, Israel." 

[. . .]

  On Sunday, Tlaib issued a statement mourning the "Palestinian and Israeli lives lost," while asserting that the path to a peaceful future must include lifting Israel's blockade of Gaza, ending its illegal occupation of Palestine, "and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance."

Tlaib's statement also asserted that the "heartbreaking cycle of violence" would continue until the United States stopped giving "billions in unconditional funding" to support Israel's apartheid government. 

They attack her to silence her because they can't win otherwise.

There is nothing wrong with LGBTQ+ people.  But the hate merchants lie and claim they're groomers and that children are at risk (Mike did a nice rundown last night of the various people assaulting children and suggested it might be time for Ronald DeSantis to start a "Don't Say Straight" campaign).  When it's time to encourage hatred, lies are required.  

Rashida is targeted because she refuses to fall in line.  The targeting isn't working.  You are seeing, in the large population, a generational split.  For decades in the US, the narrative has been the Israeli government is good, wonderful and blessed.  No, it's just another government and it's just as capable as abuse as any other.  In fact, it's more capable.  That government got away with assaulting a US military ship and killing Americans.  After you get that kind of pass, you probably think you can get away with anything.

Let's drop back to 1986, Jeff McConnell (MERIP) noted:

November 21, 1985, was a remarkable day. FBI agents arrested a civilian terrorism analyst working for the US Navy, Jonathan Jay Pollard, outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, where he had gone seeking political asylum. Six days later, Pollard was arraigned in federal district court on several counts of espionage against the United States as a paid agent for the government of Israel.

The Pollard affair took Washington and Tel Aviv by surprise. Wolf Blitzer, Washington correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, in a book published just several weeks before Pollard’s arrest, wrote that there is no real fear in the US government that American Jews are leaking information to the Mossad, the Israeli equivalent of the CIA. “Experienced US intelligence officials readily acknowledge that the degree of cooperation between the CIA and the Mossad is already so close that the two organizations do not really have to spy on each other. Despite infractions on both sides,” Blitzer explained, “US and Israeli intelligence organizations have maintained a discreet arrangement since the 1950s, banning covert operations against each other.” [1]

Another reading of this record, though, shows that Pollard’s activities fit a pattern of Israeli espionage efforts. As John Davitt, a 30-year veteran of the Justice Department who resigned in 1980, told the New York Times: “When the Pollard case broke, the general media and public perception was that this was the first time this had ever happened. No, that’s not true at all. The Israeli intelligence service, when I was in the Justice Department, was the second most active in the United States, to the Soviets.” [2]

In 1978, two Congressional committees studied Washington’s posture toward the activities of “friendly” intelligence services in the United States. Both found that the FBI did not aggressively search out illegal activities, as it did in the case of “hostile” intelligence services, but only reacted to specific complaints; that information developed by the FBI rarely reached Justice Department prosecutors; and that both the CIA and the State Department discouraged penalties against “friendly” services or their agents, in part out of concern for American personnel abroad. [3]

What accounts for the willingness of the US government to prosecute and to make a public issue of Israel’s espionage activities? Probably it represents a combination of two factors: One is the Reagan administration’s campaign to whip up public support for measures against “security risks”; the other is the differences within the US national security establishment, especially the military services, over Israel’s role in US Middle East policy. Pollard is only the second American citizen ever to be formally accused of passing classified information to the Israeli government. Prior to Israel’s creation in 1948, a Zionist underground existed in the US for the purpose of smuggling war materials to Palestine, in violation of the Truman administration’s embargo on such shipments. Although FBI investigations resulted in several convictions, all but one of those convicted escaped going to prison. [4]

It was out of this underground that the Israeli intelligence network in the United States originated. Operations were supervised by a four-member board, consisting of an American citizen, two Israeli diplomats and an Israeli troubleshooter who traveled frequently between the two countries. The FBI reportedly learned of at least 12 incidents in which American citizens passed classified information to the Israelis, but there were no prosecutions. [5]

Besides those probed by the FBI, there were certainly others, including high government officials, who were also helpful to the new Jewish state. On October 29, 1948, Secretary of State George Marshall telegrammed Washington from a United Nations meeting in Paris to complain that the Israelis knew what President Truman’s instructions had been on a key vote “almost as soon as [the Americans] had received the relevant telegram.” Israeli delegate Abba Eban attributed his delegation’s information to an “unimpeachable source.” These sources apparently never came to the FBI’s attention. [6] 

The Israeli government is not a person, it is a governmental body and, like all governmental bodies, it can be used for abuse.  

But in the US a narrative -- a false narrative -- was pushed and pimped for decades.  

There's a reason rallies take place around the world right now and there's a reason, in the US, when a rally takes place there are threats made to the students about future employment.  

A billboard truck drove through the streets surrounding Harvard’s campus Wednesday and Thursday, digitally displaying the names and faces of students allegedly affiliated with student groups that signed onto a controversial statement on Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Amid continued national backlash and doxxing attacks, at least nine of the original 34 co-signing Harvard student groups as of Thursday evening withdrew their signatures from the statement — originally penned by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee — that called Israel “entirely responsible” for the violence. In a later statement, the PSC wrote that it “staunchly opposes” violence against all civilians.

By Tuesday evening, at least four online sites had listed the personal information of students linked to clubs that had signed onto the statement, including full names, class years, past employment, social media profiles, photos, and hometowns.

As of Wednesday morning, at least two of those sites had been taken down for violating Google’s terms of service.

On Wednesday, in the face of student safety concerns, some of the statement’s harshest critics denounced acts of violence or intimidation against the members of the statement’s signatories. Harvard Executive Vice President Meredith L. Weenick ’90 also moved to criticize online intimidation and harassment in a Wednesday evening email to University affiliates following this article’s initial publication.

They've lost control of the narrative.  They can't get it back, they think they can, but they can't.

The Israeli state was placed on occupied land and that's the 'original sin' of the region.  

Decades of deception took place in the United States of Amnesia (Gore Vidal's term).

But truth tellers and activists worked for decades combatting it and the young people in the US have grown up with less deceptions.  equally true, the US occupation of Iraq made a generation come of age with an understanding of occupation.  

The Iraq War (which is ongoing) is an important imprint on today's younger generation.  The war lies were being called out before it started.  The lies were fully exposed and this impacted the way narratives are now seen and looked at.  

It doesn't help the Palestinians or the Israelis who've been killed for decades in violence but this day was always coming and now it's arrived.

They can hector Rashida all they want and insult her, it doesn't really change things.

Israel will not survive as a nation-state if it continues down this road.  And that doesn't mean that tomorrow they stop attacking Gaza and it all goes away.  No, it will not survive unless it can stop oppressing the Palestinians.  The tipping point has been reached.  

In 20 to 30 years, the youth today will be in Congress and a dominant segment of the Congress.  

There is no going back to the world of amnesia.  

This is really is the time for Americans to step forward and say enough.  There's a moment when you either confront the self-denial or you accept responsibility for the crimes.  War Crimes, in fact, because it's the US government that's not only providing cover for these illegal actions but that is also providing the tools of destruction. Phyllis Bennis (IN THESE TIMES) points out, "We can’t understand how we got here -- or how to end the crisis -- until we grapple with the immensity of Palestinian suffering. And for us in the United States, a big part of the equation means confronting the role our government and tax dollars play in enabling that oppression to continue."

+ These frothing demands for collective punishment of a defenseless population traduce every pretense of the West’s devotion to rules-based warfare it has professed since the slaughter at the Somme.

+ Only Israel is allowed to act in “self-defense.” It is a term reserved for the powerful, a shield against the daily acts of violence, coercion, land theft, illegal detention and economic strangulation imposed on a captive population, whose own self-defense is termed “terrorism” and thus becomes yet another justification for inflicting more overwhelming state violence–what any rational person would call “terrorism”–on impoverished and largely defenseless people.

+ The obvious parallel to Gaza is the Tet Offensive, which was a defeat for the Vietnamese, but it was the defeat that won the war, exposing the vincibility of the US military machine. It also triggered something deep in the psyche of the American occupiers, who responded with attacks of pointless savagery. The massacres and gang rapes at My Lai were a direct response to Tet.  Netanyahu has vowed that Israel’s response will be equally sadistic, which is, of course, a sign of its own weakness–moral and military–and a harbinger of its ruin.

+ All of the “security raids” and airstrikes Israel has conducted almost non-stop for the last few years have done nothing to make Israel more “secure.” Based on yesterday’s “surprise” counter-attack, they’ve done just the opposite. That’s because the raids were never about “security.” They were motivated by territorial expansion and the need to tighten Israel’s control over an occupied population– illegal incursions that would be resisted by any besieged society.

+ When the Israeli generals talk of leveling Gaza, keep in mind what that means. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on earth, with 5,500 people squeezed into each square kilometer with no exits. More than 10 times the average population density of Israel. 

+ The reports were horrific and they ignited the internet for three days: Hamas had killed and beheaded 40 babies in the village of Kfar Aza. It’s the kind of story that would make the most devout Quaker want to pick up a rocket launcher. But did it happen? Even Biden fell for (or exploited for his own purposes), the ghoulish reports: “I never really thought that I would see…have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.” The White House had to walk this claim back hours later, admitting that U.S. officials and the president have not seen pictures or confirmed such reports independently. (He was arrested in South Africa trying to free Nelson Mandela, too.)

Four days later, the IDF, whose soldiers retook the village and recovered the bodies of its slain inhabitants, still refused to confirm the account, which originated with Israel’s i24 News, a network with close ties to the Netanyahu family. One of the primary sources for the story appears to have been a militant Israeli settler leader named David Ben Zion, who has a history of making calls for mass violence against Palestinians.  There are plenty of precedents for this type of story, perhaps none more glaring than the allegation that Iraq forces had killed hundreds of Kuwaiti babies by throwing them out of their incubators leaving them to die on hospital floors, a claim used to justify the Gulf War. It didn’t take much digging to expose the heart-wrenching story as a fraud, part of a propaganda campaign run by the Hill and Knowlton PR firm and financed by the government of Kuwait. 

+ All wars breed atrocities and Hamas’ attacks have certainly been no exception to that rule. There are atrocities we are meant to see and atrocities we aren’t. Atrocities which are treated as war crimes are almost invariably committed by the losing or weaker side. Thus the current spectacle at Gitmo, where the torturers are sitting in judgment of the tortured. Though many questions remain, the slaughter at the rave in the Negev is criminal by any standard. But so were the US dronings of wedding parties in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, by a military armed with the most sophisticated intelligence technology and precision weaponry. One is treated as an obscene crime, the other as a regrettable accident, though one which happened routinely.

+ Using children as “human shields” is morally offensive. Killing them anyway is depraved.

+ Secretary of State Antony Blinken before leaving DC to meet with Netanyahu in Israel: “What separates Israel, the US and other democracies when it comes to difficult situations like this, is our respect for international law and the laws of war.” Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir, a few hours after Blinken’s ludicrous statement: “HRW has confirmed—based on verified video & witness accounts—that Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza & Lebanon. White phosphorus causes excruciating burns—causing lifelong suffering—and can set homes afire. Its use in populated areas is unlawful.”

White Phosphorus.  

A bit difficult for the US government on that.  It's illegal but the US used it in Iraq.  And the US Senate didn't call that out or hold hearings.  And our current president was in the Senate at the time.  In charge of the Foreign Relations Committee, in fact.   Here's Human Rights Watch on Israel's sue of White Phosphorus:

Israel’s use of white phosphorus in military operations in Gaza and Lebanon puts civilians at risk of serious and long-term injuries, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing a question and answer document on white phosphorus. Human Rights Watch verified videos taken in Lebanon and Gaza on October 10 and 11, 2023, respectively, showing multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border, and interviewed two people who described an attack in Gaza.

White phosphorus, which can be used either for marking, signaling, and obscuring, or as a weapon to set fires that burn people and objects, has a significant incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. The use of white phosphorus in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, magnifies the risk to civilians and violates the international humanitarian law prohibition on putting civilians at unnecessary risk.

“Any time that white phosphorus is used in crowded civilian areas, it poses a high risk of excruciating burns and lifelong suffering,” said Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “White phosphorous is unlawfully indiscriminate when airburst in populated urban areas, where it can burn down houses and cause egregious harm to civilians.”

On October 11, Human Rights Watch interviewed by phone two people from the al-Mina area in Gaza City, who described observing strikes consistent with the use of white phosphorus. One was in the street at the time, while the other was in a nearby office building. Both described ongoing airstrikes before seeing explosions in the sky followed by what they described as white lines going earthward. They estimated that the attack took place sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Both said that the smell was stifling. The person who was in his office said that the smell was so strong that he went toward the window to see what was happening and then filmed the strike.

Human Rights Watch reviewed the video and verified that it was taken in Gaza City’s port and identified that the munitions used in the strike were airburst 155mm white phosphorus artillery projectiles. Other videos posted to social media and verified by Human Rights Watch show the same location. Dense white smoke and a garlic smell are characteristics of white phosphorus.

Human Rights Watch also reviewed two videos from October 10 from two locations near the Israel-Lebanon border. Each shows 155mm white phosphorus artillery projectiles being used, apparently as smokescreens, marking, or signaling.

White phosphorus ignites when exposed to atmospheric oxygen and continues to burn until it is deprived of oxygen or exhausted. Its chemical reaction can create intense heat (about 815°C/1,500°F), light, and smoke.

Upon contact, white phosphorus can burn people, thermally and chemically, down to the bone as it is highly soluble in fat and therefore in human flesh. White phosphorus fragments can exacerbate wounds even after treatment and can enter the bloodstream and cause multiple organ failure. Already dressed wounds can reignite when dressings are removed and the wounds are re-exposed to oxygen. Even relatively minor burns are often fatal. For survivors, extensive scarring tightens muscle tissue and creates physical disabilities. The trauma of the attack, the painful treatment that follows, and appearance-changing scars lead to psychological harm and social exclusion.

The use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas of Gaza violates the requirement under international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian injury and loss of life, Human Rights Watch said. This concern is amplified given the technique evidenced in videos of airbursting white phosphorus projectiles. Airbursting of white phosphorus projectiles spreads 116 burning felt wedges impregnated within the substance over an area between 125 and 250 meters in diameter, depending on the altitude of the burst, thereby exposing more civilians and civilian structures to potential harm than a localized ground burst.

Israeli authorities have not commented on whether or not they used white phosphorus during the ongoing fighting.

Israel’s use of white phosphorus comes amid hostilities following Hamas’ deadly attacks on October 7 and subsequent rocket attacks that have killed, as of October 12, more than 1,300 Israelis, including hundreds of civilians, and taking of scores of Israelis as hostages in violation of international humanitarian law. Heavy Israeli bombardment of Gaza in this period has killed, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, more than 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza, including scores of civilians, and displaced more than 338,000 people. Many communities in southern Israel have also been displaced and more than 1,500 Palestinian militants reportedly died in Israel. Israeli authorities have cut electricity, water, fuel and food into Gaza, in violation of the international humanitarian law prohibition against collective punishment, exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation from over 16 years of Israeli closure.

Human Rights Watch has documented the Israeli military’s use of white phosphorus in previous conflicts in Gaza, including in 2009. Israel should ban all use of “airburst” white phosphorus munitions in populated areas without exception. There are readily available and non-lethal alternatives to white phosphorus smoke shells, including some produced by Israeli companies, which the Israeli army has used in the past as an obscurant for its forces. These alternatives have the same effect and dramatically reduce the harm to civilians.

In 2013, in response to a petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice regarding the use of white phosphorus in Gaza, the Israeli military stated that it would no longer use white phosphorus in populated areas except in two narrow situations that it revealed only to the justices. In the court’s ruling, Justice Edna Arbel said that the conditions would “render use of white phosphorous an extreme exception in highly particular circumstances.” Although this ruling did not represent an official change in policy, Justice Arbel called on the Israeli military to conduct a “thorough and comprehensive examination” and adopt a permanent military directive.

Attacks using air-delivered incendiary weapons in civilian areas are prohibited under Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). While the protocol contains weaker restrictions for ground-launched incendiary weapons, all types of incendiary weapons produce horrific injuries. Protocol III applies only to weapons that are “primarily designed” to set fires or cause burns, and thus some countries believe it excludes certain multipurpose munitions with incendiary effects, notably those containing white phosphorus.

Human Rights Watch and many states have long called for closing these loopholes in Protocol III. These attacks should add impetus to the calls from at least two dozen countries for the CCW Meeting of States Parties to set aside time to discuss the adequacy of Protocol III. The next meeting is scheduled for November at the United Nations in Geneva.

Palestine joined Protocol III on January 5, 2015, and Lebanon on April 5, 2017, while Israel has not ratified it.

“To avoid civilian harm, Israel should stop using white phosphorus in populated areas,” Fakih said. “Parties to the conflict should be doing everything they can to spare civilians from further suffering.”

They have lost the narrative in the US -- despite careful use of the media.

Ari Paul (FAIR) notes:

As the world watches the ongoing horror in southern Israel and in the Gaza Strip, media grapple not only with the immediate violence, but to understand why this happened and how it can stop. This is truly no other Middle East skirmish anymore. Likely the deadliest offensive against Israel on its soil, and perhaps the most audacious operation by Palestinian militants, it’s been compared both to 9/11 and to the bloody 1973 war between Israel and a coalition of Arab nations.

How could Israel—so famous for its military might and advanced intelligence capabilities—have missed the warnings of such an attack? The coordinated nature of the rocket attacks and assaults on nearby towns make clear that this was a huge operation that took time and planning; paragliding attacks require practice runs that are not easy to hide (L’Orient Today, 10/9/23), for instance. Already, Israeli media have begun looking closely at the Israeli government’s actions to understand how and why this happened—in sharp contrast to US broadsheet opinion, which has largely rallied unquestioningly behind Israeli “national unity.”

The Times of Israel (10/8/23) noted that Netanyahu was quoted telling Likud Party members in 2018 about his stance on Gaza, summarizing his quote saying “those who oppose a Palestinian state should support the transfer of funds to Gaza”—meaning to Gaza’s Hamas-led government—as doing so maintains the “separation between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza,” thus dividing and conquering the Palestinians once and for all.

Gaza is sealed off, contained and highly surveilled (Middle East Institute, 4/27/22); it’s hard to believe no one in the Israeli government didn’t know something was being planned.  The above ToI report quoted Assaf Pozilov, a reporter for the Israeli public broadcasting outlet Kan, saying before the attack, “The Islamic Jihad organization has started a noisy exercise very close to the border, in which they practiced launching missiles, breaking into Israel and kidnapping soldiers.”

An Israeli military veteran in the New York Post (10/9/23), hardly considered a pro-Palestine publication, blamed Israel for ignoring warnings from Egyptian intelligence about “something big.”

An editorial at Ha’aretz (10/8/23) put the blame squarely on Netanyahu, saying “he is the ultimate arbiter of Israeli foreign and security affairs.” It also pointed the finger at his right-wing policies on settlement expansion and allies with far-right extremist parties. “As expected, signs of an outbreak of hostilities began in the West Bank, where Palestinians started feeling the heavier hand of the Israeli occupier,” the editorial said, noting that “Hamas exploited the opportunity in order to launch its surprise attack.”

At the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (10/7/23), David Halperin, chief executive officer of the Israel Policy Forum, wrote that for the last year, “my colleagues and I…have joined with others in expressing concern about the nature of Israel’s far-right government.” The article—which questioned why Netanyahu’s government, famously hard-nosed on security, failed to protect the people—was reprinted in the Jerusalem Post (10/7/23).

Alon Pinkas (Ha’aretz, 10/9/23) wrote more directly: “Netanyahu should be removed as prime minister immediately—not ‘after the war,’ not after a plea bargain in his corruption trial, not after an election. Now.”

But top US editorial boards are elsewhere, failing to ask questions about intelligence failures and Netanyahu’s hand on the wheel. Instead, they urged Israelis to put aside the concerns they’ve had about democracy, which brought throngs of liberal and left-wing Israelis into the streets to denounce the Netanyahu government’s neutering of an independent judiciary—a decision that has been likened to the “sham democracy” of Hungary (Foreign Policy, 8/3/23). This summer, military reservists joined the protests, causing alarm about the country’s military readiness (AP, 7/19/23).

A Wall Street Journal editorial (10/7/23) used the Hamas offensive to downplay Netanyahu’s judicial power grab, saying, “The internal Israeli debates over its Supreme Court look trivial next to the threat to Israel’s existence.”

The Journal also discounted any criticism of the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza, saying, “Israel has been allowing 17,000 Gazans to work in Israel each day and would like to allow more.” The editorial said “the assault also underscores the continuing malevolence of Iran,” because its government “cheered on the attacks,” “provided the rockets and weapons for Hamas,” and “may have encouraged the timing as well.”

A Washington Post editorial (10/7/23) did blame the right-wing government for initiating the internal political crisis, but hoped that the political factions would soon come together. “Early signs are that Israel’s leading politicians are putting aside their differences with Mr. Netanyahu to meet the emergency,” it said. Another Post editorial (10/9/23) suggested that the US could take a lesson from Israel on the “risks of disunity,” criticizing Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul for setting off a “distracting backlash.”

They can ignore and distort reality all they want, they can circle the wagons; however, their narrative is over.  It will live on in the older population that endured decades of propaganda but this is the turn of the tide for the US.  

Let's note this from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: “Palestinians and Israelis have grown accustomed to wars in the south in recent years. But the war that began in the early hours of Saturday, 7 October is nothing like the others.”

Those of the opening lines of a new piece in the London Review of Books by our next guest, the Palestinian journalist Amjad Iraqi, who joins us now from London. The article is headlined “’Get out of there now.” Amjad is senior editor at +972 Magazine and a policy member of Al-Shabaka. His latest piece for +972 is headlined “A psychological barrier has just been shattered in Israel-Palestine.”

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Amjad. Thank you so much for joining us. If you could explain why you think this invasion is different from the past, the 7th October one, and what psychological barrier has been broken?

AMJAD IRAQI: Thank you all for having me.

I think there’s no doubt that in many respects what we’ve been witnessing over the past couple of days is what is being described as a game changer. And there are two ways to kind of think about this. One is this kind of material and military shift that has just occurred by the fact that Hamas broke out of the Gaza Strip, a besieged enclave, both in terms of targeting the military infrastructure, but also the massacres that happened in these Israeli southern towns, that has really not only kind of broken this assumption of Gaza as this place that could maintain Palestinians and encage Hamas, but has really shaken the psychological barrier that exists in Israeli society and the Israeli establishment that the occupation is somehow sustainable, and that if they just keep enforcing the institutions of apartheid, that if they keep pounding Hamas and the Gaza Strip as often as possible, that somehow that is actually going to bring them security, that is going to bring safety, and through that, they can then continue to claim that Israel is a democracy, that Israel is a safe place for the Jewish people. And what we’ve witnessed with these atrocities that have happened is a complete shattering of that. It has broken to Israeli society that the Palestinians are not some distant problem, and that they cannot keep having the boot of their military apparatus upon them.

Unfortunately, as Michael was referring to earlier, I’m not sure how much this will have a lot of soul-searching and reflection, as right now we are seeing this complete desire to inflict total revenge on the Gaza Strip, from the political establishment to the media, all the way down. But I think that barrier that existed in the minds of Israeli society and the Israeli state that this system could work, I think, has really been broken by this assault.

AMY GOODMAN: You write, Amjad, in your +972 piece that these events will allow the most extremist elements within Netanyahu’s far-right administration to carry out as much of their agenda as possible. Can you respond, in particular, to what the finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, and the national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, convicted of supporting a terrorist organization and inciting hatred against Palestinians — what they want to happen now, and if you think that will become the dominant actions of the Netanyahu government, the war government, as they’re calling it right now, bringing in others into the government, as well, at this point?

AMJAD IRAQI: So, it’s no secret that the Israeli government now is really primarily being led by a gang of far-right demagogues, who have been very explicit for years, even before they arrived in office, about their ambitions for the Palestinians as a whole. And we’re seeing that being put out in full force over the past few months since the government has been in place, through the enabling and almost overt support of settler pogroms against West Bank towns and villages, and what is now eventually leading to the total expulsion of numerous Palestinian hamlets and people in order to make way for even more settler outposts and to even pave the way for more assertion of what they describe as Israeli sovereignty. We’ve been seeing this really being expedited in full force.

And now for the far-right government, this massacre, as atrocious as it is, is for them a historic opportunity. It is, for them, reinforcing this idea that the only solution to what they regard as “the Gaza problem” is either the complete mass destruction of the Strip or to try to eliminate, rather than merely contain, Hamas’s political and military apparatus, and, if possible — and this is really one of the most horrific potentials — is the potential that this moment could be used to try to expel masses of Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip. The far-right ministers are very explicit about this ambition, and they really are trying to mobilize Israeli institutions in order to implement that process. And while we’re still in the throes of the storm, we’re already seeing that first demand on their wish list being implemented in a way that our Palestinian colleagues from Gaza were just describing.

And there’s a massive mutual interest, not just on the part of the far-right politicians, but also the Israeli military, which has been really humiliated by this massive breach of the Gaza fences by Hamas, completely subverting its intelligence or its appearance of being able to know at all times what Hamas is doing. Because of this shattering, the Israeli military also, arguably, is in line with the political establishment over what to do with this.

And time will tell where this leads, but we’re already seeing this indulgence of revenge, not just from the Israeli institutions themselves, but also the international community, including the United States, which is basically telling Israel to go ahead, and to actually justify that revenge and removing the political context, without necessarily having to excuse the massacres — which they should not — but to nonetheless realize that there is no military solution to this issue, and the real problem in the end is this wider apartheid regime that is activating even when you don’t have a war around Gaza, that is activating even on your, quote-unquote, “calm.” And this is the bigger issue that needs to be addressed.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Amjad, we just have a minute, but if you could say — you know, everybody says, as you said, this was unprecedented that Hamas broke through this barrier. People say, you know, they’ve been planning this attack for a long time. What statement have they made since this military assault on Gaza began? And what do you know of what they’re doing with the hostages and whether they’re willing to release them in exchange for Gaza getting some basic resources?

AMJAD IRAQI: It’s quite hard to say what the endgame is entirely. In many ways, the assault also probably surprised them as much as it did the Israelis. And right now I think they’re trying to — it seems like they’re trying to figure out what kind of bargaining chips they have in order to gain certain new kinds of agreements with the Israeli authorities, with the aid potentially of Arab states to try to mediate some kind of ceasefire, that helps to meet certain Hamas demands.

And they’ve been quite explicit about some of the things that they’re seeking, which are long-standing issues that have existed even before this far-right government, including the issue of release of Palestinian prisoners, including provocations and aggressions around Jerusalem, especially around the holy sites, and also, of course, what’s been happening in the West Bank under the Israeli occupation and settler violence. So, these are kind of the big structural demands that are still at play, and it seems that Hamas is now trying to use tactically, basically, what they have right now to kind of turn the tables. But because we’re still —

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

AMJAD IRAQI: — in the eye of the storm, because we’re still seeing the mists of this, it’s very hard to know where this is leading.

AMY GOODMAN: Palestinian journalist Amjad Iraqi, we thank you so much for being with us. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, October 12, 2023

MTG the crazy nut

That horrid Marjorie Taylor Greene is back in the news.  NEWSWEEK reports:

"The Hamas Caucus led by Rashida Tlaib, AOC, and Ilhan Omar treat Hamas terrorists better than [January 6] prisoners," Greene wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday. "Why is that?"

That crazy nut is obsessed with her belief that the January 6th goons and loons are heroes.  They are not heroes.  They were deceived and I'll feel sorry for them on that.  But they were not peaceful and they were not heroes.  Courts have upheld repeatedly that their actions were criminal actions and that's why they're getting put away.

If Marjorie identifies so strongly with them, she ought to volunteer to serve the sentence for one of them.  

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, October 12, 2023.  Fire, hypocrisy and violence continue to enflame the Middle East.

Starting with hypocrisy, ALL ISRAEL NEWS notes:

 Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned Israel’s bombings of Gaza on Wednesday as “shameful,” while refusing to condemn Hamas.

“Israel should not forget that if it acts more like an organization rather than a state, it’ll finish by being treated as such,” saidErdoğan.

“Bombing civilian sites, killing civilians, blocking humanitarian aid and trying to present these as achievements are the acts of an organization and not a state,” he added.

[.  . .]

In the same speech in which Erdoğanblasted Israel, he vowed to intensify bombings of Kurdish targets in Syria and Iraq. Since Thursday, Turkey has been bombing civilian and military targets in northeast Syria.

Turkey is targeting the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which has its base in northern Iraq. 

Erdogan's been a thug for years and he terrorizes the Kurdistan.  Amina Ismail and Lena Masri (ARAB WEEKLY) note:

Seventeen-year-old Samir Saado was finishing his cleaning shift at the village medical centre when an air strike hit the building.

“I didn’t see anything other than dust and smoke,” said Saado, a member of Iraq’s minority Yazidi community. “My leg was stuck under the rubble. I called for help and people were coming but the planes kept striking.”

At least four civilians were killed that day, August 17, 2021, local officials said. Among the dead was Saado’s father, who also worked at the centre in Iraq’s northern Sinjar province, about 100 kilometres from the Turkish border. Saado suffered a broken pelvis and a cracked skull.

The strike was part of escalating attacks by Turkish aircraft and drones in mainly Kurdish areas of Iraq and Syria, which have since continued, a data analysis shows. Western firms have supplied critical components for the drones, which Kurdish and Iraqi officials say Turkey is deploying with increasing frequency.

Again, hypocrisy is all over.  For example, the lying trash Monica Osborn.  Gutter trash showed up to attack feminists in the US because they're not decrying the rapes being carried out against Israelis in Gaza -- the rapes that may exist in only the minds of liars and whores.  These propaganda claims surface whenever a whore wants to sell a war and already the claims Monica's promoting are in doubt.  See the first section of THE VANGUARD segment below. 

Elaine addressed liar Monica yesterday:

Maybe we're silent because we are feminists?  Maybe we're silent because we know Monica's work and how she's done nothing EVER to help survivors of rape?  Now suddenly she's concerned about rape?  Forgive us for not wondering if she's using war propaganda to egg on violence.

She has seen this and she has seen that?

Oh, just shut up.

There are no clean hands.  I've seen what the Israeli government did to American citizen Rachel Corrie.  I noticed you didn't write about that. (They killed Rachel March 16, 2003.)  I've seen videos and photos of babies dead in the last few days due to  Israel bombing Gaza and you don't mention that.

You make claims that may be true and may be false.  I think we'll wait to weigh in on that.  

But you're a disgusting person because you are acting as though Israeli women and children matter but Palestinians women and children don't.

I happen to believe, as a feminist, that all lives matter.  I don't take seriously women who pose as 'feminists' when they find it to be beneficial for their cause and I don't support women who turn a blind eye to the assaults on women and children.  That's what Monica's done.

They always throw the most extreme lies out at the beginning.  It's how they work to sell the war.  Intimidate people into silence, make them fear being called out.  It's how they always work.  The first to fall in line are always politicians and the media -- the most timid of the society.

Propaganda always replaces history and reality.  Stephen Zunes (THE PROGRESSIVE) notes:

Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in the past year, have bulldozed hundreds of Palestinian homes, confiscated Palestinian farming and grazing land, destroyed orchards and vineyards, engaged in arson attacks against Palestinian properties, and violated Muslim holy places. Israelis have killed scores of Palestinian civilians, including children, since 2022 and Hamas had been warning it would retaliate if they continued.

And, as Elaine pointed out, that history does include Rachel Corrie.  Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) notes Rachel this morning:

Perhaps I’ve become terminally jaded, but the blood-curdling bi-partisan calls from American politicians and pundits to obliterate Gaza–children be damned–don’t surprise me much. Some young lives matter more than others. Others don’t seem to matter at all.

My mind flashes back to Rachel Corrie, who I got to know slightly through email correspondence while she was a student at Evergreen and an environmental activist, leading protests against industrial clearcuts on near verticle slopes that threatened to bury small towns in the Washington Cascades under landslides.

What does it say about the American mentality that this courageous young woman was blamed by many here for her own murder? After being crushed to death by an IDF bulldozer, while trying to keep a Palestinian family’s house from being demolished so their land could be confiscated and auctioned off to Israeli settlers, Rachel was roundly vilified instead of mourned. Political outrage was directed at her, not the regime that killed her. She had it coming, they said. She could have just gotten out of the way. She shouldn’t have been allied with “them.” She had no business being there.

What is it in the twisted American psyche that would make her own country turn on a 23-year-old woman–smart, humane, fearless, and beautiful–who was doing nothing more than protecting what we’ve been led to believe is the most sacrosanct American “right”, the right of property, the right to be secure in your home? 


 Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

  Israel's retaliatory airstrikes across the Gaza Strip after Hamas' weekend attack have killed at least 1,100 people in the besieged enclave, including 326 children, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said Wednesday.

Gaza-based Hamas launched a major surprise attack against Israel on Saturday, a Jewish holiday, and the Israeli death toll has now surpassed 1,200. The far-right Israeli government and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded with Operation Swords of Iron, bombing Gazan residential, medical, and educational buildings, and intensifying a 16-year blockade of the region.

Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP), which has documented cases of over 2,400 Palestinian kids killed by Israeli forces and settlers since 2000, has so far confirmed 105 of the 326 deaths.

"Intensive Israeli bombardment throughout the Gaza Strip, lack of electricity, Israeli airstrikes on telecommunications infrastructure, and the unprecedented rate of daily child fatalities has resulted in a lag between confirmed fatalities by DCIP and the overall total child fatalities published regularly by the Ministry of Health in Gaza," the group said.

Responding to the new Ministry of Health figure, Yonah Lieberman, a co-founder of the American Jewish group IfNotNow, asked on social media, "Where is the outrage we saw when Israeli children were killed?" 

The stories of ghastly attacks by Hamas being reported in news coverage are gut-wrenching to watch, and there is nothing in our understanding of our faiths and righteous pursuits for justice that justify such horror. We know that these brutal images and stories bring up deep-seated trauma for the Jewish community and worry and sadness for the many who have been killed, injured and taken captive.

Meanwhile, the carnage and blockade being imposed upon the civilian population in the Gaza Strip by an overwhelming military force is barbaric and inhumane – and yet not often condemned by the world. The attacks on and closure of Gaza will certainly lead to the deaths of innocent children.

While in Jerusalem, our multifaith group had the opportunity to connect to the Jewish traditions of Sukkot (the weeklong fall harvest festival), attend Shabbat dinner, sit through a soaring church service on the Mount of Olives and attend powerful outdoor Friday prayers along the road to Tiberias.  

We leaned into one another’s rich spiritual backgrounds and commitments to justice, mercy and peace by exploring underappreciated connections to this sacred land, and in so doing, tried to forge another path for radical empathy and connection to the stories, hopes and aspirations of those working for and dreaming of more dignified pathways for all people on this land.

Throughout our journey, we were reminded of the daily humiliation, hardship and injustice experienced by Palestinians living under military occupation in refugee camps and surrounding areas. In Jerusalem, we heard of forced evictions, home demolitions and a widescale system of harassment and abuse that make life unbearable for most Palestinian families struggling to survive.

While none of that justifies the carnage of innocent civilians, it must be understood as the ongoing context in which decades-old Palestinian grievances are being ignored or exploited. 

And no one knows how to exploit more than Lindsey Graham.  Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) explains:

 Human rights defenders on Wednesday accused U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of "incitement to genocide" after the South Carolina Republican urged Israeli forces to destroy Gaza—and he wasn't the only prominent GOP figure to make such an incendiary call.

Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday night, Graham asserted that "we are in a religious war here, I am with Israel. Whatever the hell you have to do to defend yourselves; level the place."

In a social media post, U.S. political analyst, author, and activist Josh Ruebner tagged the International Criminal Court with the caption, "ATTN... Incitement to genocide." 

Motivated by hate and egging on people with lies, that's all Lindsey and Monica and others of their ilk offer.  Julia Conley (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

As Gaza faced intensifying strain on its healthcare system due to a lack of fuel for its sole power plant and the death toll reached at least 950, Lewis was among those condemning countries including the United States, France, and the United Kingdom for "reverting to simple-minded, one-sided Israel-right-or-wrong-ism."

His comments came less than a day after U.S. President Joe Biden said the Pentagon is "surging additional military assistance" to Israel, "including ammunition and interceptors to replenish Iron Dome," repeating that "we're with Israel" without urging a cessation of the airstrikes that have decimated civilian neighborhoods and healthcare facilities in Gaza.

"The dead and the rubble piling up in Gaza are the bitter fruit of this cynical, simple-minded worldview," said Lewis.

As Yumna Patel, Palestine news director for Mondoweiss, noted on Tuesday—citing The Times of Israel—policymakers including Biden are pledging support for Israel's assault on Gaza as media reports focus heavily on the human impact Hamas's attack had, but far less on the suffering unleashed by the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) retaliation. 

AMY GOODMAN: Gaza is on the verge of losing all electricity as Israel continues to bombard the territory while imposing a siege blocking the import of all fuel, food and electricity. The death toll from Israel’s massive bombing campaign has topped 1,055 Palestinians, with over 5,000 wounded. Meanwhile, the death toll in Israel has soared to 1,200 following Saturday’s shocking attack by Hamas militants. Another 2,400 Israelis have been wounded. Hamas is believed to be holding as many as 150 hostages. Israel is now preparing to launch a ground invasion of Gaza.

Tension is also growing along the Israel-Lebanon border, where Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters have repeatedly exchanged fire.

Earlier today, a U.S. plane carrying ammunition landed in Israel, a day after President Biden gave a speech at the White House where he reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel but made no reference to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which has reportedly killed at least 260 children and 230 women since Saturday. According to press freedom groups, at least seven Palestinian journalists have also been killed.

Inside Gaza, residents say there’s no safe place for civilians to go. This is Samah Abo Latifa, who lost her brother in an Israeli airstrike.

SAMAH ABO LATIFA: [translated] We had fled from Abasan, escaping from death. There were continuous airstrikes over our heads. They told us to come to Khan Younis. We came to find death. If we stayed in our houses, we die. If we go on the streets, we die. O my beloved brother, he fled from one place to another. O my beloved brother, may your soul rest in peace. I have no people left, except for two. God bless them for me. I hope to carry their children. O my beloved brother, please, God, don’t take anyone else. This is enough. I can’t handle anymore. I hope I die before them all.

AMY GOODMAN: Samah Abo Latifa went on to describe the scope of Israel’s bombing campaign. She spoke from a nursery, where her family has taken refuge.

SAMAH ABO LATIFA: [translated] I’ve never seen airstrikes like this time, not in 2014, not in 2008. No war was like this time. I’ve never seen anything like this. Every minute and every second there are airstrikes. Every minute there are martyrs, in their houses, young people, children, all. I can’t talk. I swear I’m so tired. We have never witnessed strikes like this time. We thank God when the day is done. But they say it will be worse. We wonder what else could happen to us. The coming days could be harsher. Our hearts will ache more for the loss of our loved ones.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, tension is also high in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for firing an anti-tank at an Israeli military post earlier today. Israel has been shelling towns in southern Lebanon. Residents in northern Israel say they no long feel safe.

RACHEL KANDELL: It doesn’t feel very safe, because if they came into our house and they did anything they wanted, without any way of protecting ourselves, this is a very unsettled grounds. This is not — you know, this is Israel. We are in the 21st century. We should feel secure. We should feel like we have a home to go back to. And many people in Israel, unfortunately, are not in this space. They don’t have a house anymore. They don’t have families. The lines for the funerals are endless. There is so much pain, pain that is beyond explanation in words. This is truly a nightmare.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian physician, activist and politician who serves as general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative. He’s been a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006, also a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council. He’s joining us from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Dr. Barghouti, welcome back to Democracy Now! If you can give us the context for what’s happening right now, what you’re most concerned about? We’re talking to you in the occupied West Bank as hundreds of thousands of Israeli reservists are moving down to Gaza.

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: What concerns me most, Amy, is this process of dehumanizing Palestinians, in which Western government leaders, including President Biden, are participating, dehumanizing Palestinians to the level that the Israeli army minister called us animals. And Human Rights Watch was absolutely correct when they came out with a statement saying that this kind of description of Palestinians is nothing but a justification of war crimes on them. And that’s exactly what’s happening now.

The first two crimes that are happening is the Israeli blockade on Gaza, depriving 2.2 million people from water, food, electricity and medical supplies, depriving them from the possibility of normal life. Children are lacking water, are lacking milk. I get calls from our people there in Gaza constantly, patients who have kidney problems, in need for kidney dialysis, who could die in two, three days because they cannot get it, patients with cancer who lost treatment, and other sick people who are in very deep situation.

This is not the only situation. In addition to that, the second crime that is taking place is the bombardment of Gaza with terrible airstrikes. You have just said that it took the lives already of 1,000 innocent civilian Palestinians. It slaughtered no less than 260 children. But the worst thing is that 250,000 people already, quarter of a million people, have lost their homes. Thousands of houses have been destroyed. High-rise buildings have been smashed to earth. And the people don’t have a single space which can be safe for them. I heard an Israeli saying that she wants to be safe, and I want her to be safe, but they also should remember that also Palestinians need to live in peace and security. And that is what’s not there.

More than that, Israel turned back to using what was prohibited, which is white phosphorus. They used it, as you remember, in 2008 campaign on Gaza. Now they’re back to using it. It is a prohibited kind of weapon that is forbidden, but they use it openly and frankly.

The more important thing is that Netanyahu is saying that Palestinians should be evicted from Gaza. He’s preparing for a third war crime, which is ethnic cleansing of the population of Gaza. He said that every Palestinian in Gaza should leave their homes. He didn’t say where to. Maybe to the sea. But his spokesperson of the army made it clear. He said in a statement, which became the top line in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper — he said that all Palestinians in Gaza must evict to Egypt. These people, these criminals who committed ethnic cleansing against 70% of the Palestinian people in 1948, 70% of the population of Gaza were among these people who were evicted from Palestine. Now they are subjected to the possibility of another transfer, another kind of ethnic cleansing, that would empty Gaza so that Netanyahu can annex it.

Now I understand, after all these threats with ethnic cleansing, what Netanyahu meant when he said that he will change the map and the order of the area for 50 years to come. Now I understand what Netanyahu did when he carried a map of Israel in the United Nations, in front of the whole world community, a map of Israel that includes annexing the West Bank, which is occupied territory, annexing Gaza Strip, which is also occupied territory, and annexing East Jerusalem, including also the Golan Heights. Nobody said a single criticism to that, except maybe the German government. This is the reason — this is the background of what’s happening.

But let me also say that what we see now in Gaza is only a result of a protracted problem of 56 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land. How many times on your show, Amy, and on other shows we said that the solution is to end the Israeli illegal occupation of Palestinians, that the solution is to stop what has become the worst system of apartheid ever, much worse apartheid than what revealed in South Africa at one point of time? How many times we said that building settlements in the Occupied Territories will destroy any prospective for two-state solution? How many times we complained about settlers’ violence and settlers’ terror against Palestinian communities?

I find that President Biden, unfortunately, practiced — excuse me for that, but I have to say it — Mr. Biden practiced racial discrimination between Americans who carry Israeli citizenship and Americans who carry Palestinian citizenship. I did not see him say that those who killed Shireen Abu Akleh, a very peaceful journalist who was Palestinian and American, and who was never held to accountability — nobody was indicted for killing her. He didn’t say a word about the American Palestinians in Turmus Ayya whose houses were burned and whose cars were attacked and whose lives were threatened by Israeli illegal settlers, some of whom also carry American citizenship.

I don’t want any Palestinian or any Israeli civilian to be killed. I am against that. I’m against killing children. But today and now Israel is preparing a huge ground operation on Gaza. If that happens, it will be a total disaster. If ethnic cleansing takes place, this will be a terrible, terrible, terrible disaster for everybody. And if the ground operations start, it will definitely lead to the explosion in the north and Hezbollah getting involved, and maybe this will lead to a whole regional war. I think what we need here is balanced, reasonable and responsible reactions, and not continuation of dehumanizing Palestinians, accusing Palestinians of responsibility even when Palestinians are killed.

I think that Netanyahu doesn’t care about his people. I think Netanyahu is the most corrupt, opportunistic politician ever. This man cares only about his position. He doesn’t even care about the 150 or 200 Israeli prisoners now in Gaza. If he cared about them, he would accept immediately a ceasefire. He would accept immediately a prisoners exchange, so that these people can come back home safe, and Palestinian prisoners would be released, some of whom have been in Israeli jails for 44 years. This is the solution, and not to escalate. But Netanyahu knows if any inquiry starts about what happened at the borders of Gaza, they will find him responsible for negligence, irresponsibility, lack of preparation, intelligence failure, military failure, political failure, and he will be sent out of the office, which means he will go to jail because of four cases of corruption against him. He knows that. And that’s why he’s ready to kill anybody to stay in his office. This man doesn’t care about lives of Palestinians or Israelis.

He didn’t care about the fact that he brought to his government fascists, like Smotrich, who doesn’t hide calling himself a fascist homophobe, and who said that “We will fill the West Bank with settlers and settlements so that Palestinians would lose any hope of a state of their own. And then they would have one of three choices: either to emigrate or accept a life of subjugation to Israeli rule or die.” That is the finance minister of Israel. And we didn’t hear any criticism to that, neither from Netanyahu nor from your foreign minister, Mr. Blinken, nor from any other Western leaders, who are now, unfortunately, participating in escalating the situation rather than calming it down.

The big question that Palestinians have — and this is my last point here — the big question that Palestinians have is: Why the double standard? Why the United States and Europe send to Ukraine $224 billion of equipment, of planes, of tanks, to fight what they say is occupation? And why in our case they are sending arsenal and money and support to the occupiers of Palestine? Why we don’t see any sanctions —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dr. Barghouti, I want — 

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: — to brutal forces and to stop the occupation?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dr. Barghouti, I want to ask you — you’re in the West Bank. What’s been the response of the Palestinian Authority to the attacks on Gaza? And also, for our listeners and viewers, if you could talk about the escalation in attacks in the West Bank by both settlers and the Israeli army since this extreme right-wing coalition of Netanyahu came to power?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Since the attacks started in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes, there were many, many demonstrations in the West Bank, mostly peaceful — peaceful, all peaceful and nonviolent demonstrations. And the Israeli army responded with gunfire. Up ’til this moment, 23 Palestian young people, mainly, were shot and killed by the Israeli army, without them engaging in any kind of military action.

And that has been our life. You know, one of the main reasons why the attack happened in Gaza by Hamas is the fact that during the last eight months, before this whole thing started, Israeli army and Israeli settlers killed 248 Palestinians, including 40 children. And now in addition to that, most roads in the West Bank are blocked. There is 650 military checkpoints, many of which are totally closed to Palestinians. The only passage to Jordan is almost closed all the time. And Palestinians live in clusters of ghettos separated from each other. And people are extremely worried about what might happen. We’ve just heard that the Israeli army is devoting a whole division with tanks for the possibility of reinvading every corner of the West Bank, as well.

So, the most difficult thing here is not only the army attacks on Palestinians, but also the settlers’ attacks. And these settlers are completely crazy. And they are completely criminal in their attitude towards Palestinians. They’ve already burned so many houses. They’ve already attacked so many villages. They’ve already killed so many Palestinians. And that’s the kind of fear and worry that we have.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And how should Egypt and other Arab countries in the region respond?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, before I respond to your question, I have one little piece of good news, although it’s painful news. You mentioned the name of the journalist Salam Mima, who was one of the seven journalists who were killed by Israel. Luckily, but painfully, this journalist was found alive after 31 hours with her three children below the rubble of their destroyed house. Unfortunately, her husband died. She is injured, and her three children are injured. And you can imagine the horror that she went through being under the rubble for 31 hours. And only by luck, somebody heard her voice. And this raises the question: How many tens of Palestinians are now below the rubble, and nobody can try even to save them because the places are constantly bombarded?

Regarding Egypt, I would say that the Egyptians have two responsibilities. One is that they should not allow Israel to evict and ethnically cleanse Palestinians towards Egypt. This must not happen. And that, because I warn you: If Israel succeeds in evicting Palestinians from Gaza now and conducting ethnic cleansing, this would be an application of Smotrich, most extreme religious Jewish extreme position in the Israeli government. And it would mean that the next plan will be to ethnically cleanse the West Bank, as well, and throw Palestinians out of the West Bank to Jordan. These are not theoretical concepts. This is exactly what they said, what they speak about about Palestinians, especially now after all this process of dehumanization of Palestinians.

The other thing that Egypt must do is to provide support immediately to Gaza. We are ready to help ourselves, our people. We are ready to collect water, food supply, medications. My organization, in particular, militant Palestinian Medical Relief Society, is already engaging in preparing all these materials. We are ready to send them to Gaza, through Egypt even. But Israel says that they will bombard any supplies that come to Gaza. Here, I think it is the Egyptian and international responsibility to stop Israel and prevent that from taking place.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Barghouti, we have less than a minute, but I wanted to ask about the relationship between the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, well known for the tension between the two, to put it mildly.

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, as you know, Hamas, as well as Jihad, are Palestinian political groups, militant groups that are not in the PLO. But there are problems even inside the PLO. I think now the PA feels totally marginalized, not only because of what’s happening on the ground, but also because of Israel, that did everything to humiliate the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli army invades any spot that the Palestinian Authority should be in charge of, including Ramallah. And they cut off our tax revenue. We pay taxes to the Palestinian Authority through Israel, and Israel cuts away a lot of these resources.

So, the solution to this is nothing but unifying all Palestinians without exception. And you know my stand. I said it long time ago. What we need is, after this war ends, is immediate, free, democratic elections for Palestinians. And all polls show that neither Fatah nor Hamas will get a majority. Nobody else will get majority. It will be a pluralistic democratic system, through which groups like us, who are non-Fatah, non-Hamas, can try to do their best to push in the direction of democratic transformation, but also that would allow Palestinians to coexist peacefully in a good political system. At this very moment, this sounds very distant, mainly because not only the PA did not hold elections, but Israel and the United States all the time refused that we should have democratic, free elections. And that does not fit with all these calls everywhere and in other places about democracy. It’s another type, another form of double standard.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, speaking to us from Ramallah in occupied West Bank, Palestinian physician, activist, politician who serves as general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative.

Next up, to Tel Aviv to speak with the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy of Haaretz. Stay with us.

Where's the video!  Where's the video!  YOUTUBE is censoring it.  First, you have to click twice to get it because of "violence" and then you can't share it because YOUTUBE won't let you due to "violence."    

Interesting because I can find all these news segments (MSNBC for one) with claims of violence and they're not censored when the violence is aimed at Israelis.  But they're censoring a discussion on DEMOCRAYC NOW!  Grasp that.

It's October 12th.  That's a significant day in the US.  Melissa Etheridge's "Scarecrow" (from her album BREAKDOWN):

Showers of your crimson blood
Seep into a nation calling up a flood
Of narrow minds who legislate
Thinly veiled intolerance
Bigotry and hate
But they tortured and burned you
They beat you and they tied you
They left you cold and breathing
For love they crucified you
I can't forget hard as I try
This silhouette against the sky
Scarecrow crying
Waiting to die wondering why
Scarecrow trying
Angels will hold carry your soul away
This was our brother
This was our son
This shepherd young and mild
This unassuming one
We all gasp this can't happen here
We're all much too civilized
Where can these monsters hide

"I can forgive but I will not forget."  She's far more generous than I am.  Melissa wrote that song about Matthew Shepard.  It's the anniversary of his death so the great Glenneth Greenwald will probably do another of his lying Tweets where he tells you that the attack and murder of Matthew had nothing to do with Matthew being gay.  Why?  Because Glenneth is just a damn liar and the original Alex Jones.  Tracy Brown (LOS ANGELES TIMES) notes:

It’s been 25 years since Matthew Shepard was discovered brutally beaten and left for dead near a wooden fence outside Laramie, Wyo. He’d been there for 18 hours.
Within days he’d become a household name, as broadcast and print news outlets from across the country (this one included) amplified the story of an out 21-year-old college student who was seemingly attacked just for being gay. And his death on Oct. 12, 1998, would galvanize a movement to demand change.

His story and legacy are revisited in “The Matthew Shepard Story: An American Hate Crime,” a documentary that premiered this week on Investigation Discovery (ID) and is now streaming on Max.

“We wanted to celebrate Matthew's life,” said Jason Sarlanis, president of Turner Networks, ID and HLN, linear and streaming at Warner Bros. Discovery. “So much of his story has been eclipsed by the violence that was perpetrated on him.”

Sarlanis, who describes the new documentary special as “a true labor of love,” explained during a recent phone call that he immediately took action after he learned that ID, which is dedicated to airing true crime documentaries, had yet to tell Shepard’s story when he joined the team nearly three years ago. “The Matthew Shepard Story” features a mix of voices, including from his friends, media experts and advocates, as well as celebrities who were affected by Shepard’s story.

“This story needs attention as much today as it did a quarter-century ago,” said Sarlanis. “And at the end of this special, what we're really hoping to do is illuminate how this tragic moment in history really helped propel the entire LGBTQ rights movement forward.”

It is an important story and does need to be told and remembered.  Today more than ever, in fact, because of the hate merchants parading around preaching hate -- people like Tiny Man Ronald DeSantis.  LGBTQ NATION notes he went on FOX "NEWS" and the network let him lie:

“I also think this society needs to be rooted in truth,” he continued. “And so many of these fights are based on things that are just not true, and we have a responsibility to fight back the truth, and set you free.”

Contrary to DeSantis’ belief, transgender children aren’t a “lie” — all major medical and psychological associations acknowledge their existence. These kids don’t become trans because of teachers pushing “gender ideology.” However, this sort of alleged “indoctrination” formed part of DeSantis’ reasoning for his infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law. The law bans instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in all grades.

Bream then mentioned a woman who she overheard saying, “‘I think it’s terrible in Florida that they’re banning books…. I don’t want my [LGBTQ+] child to go somewhere like that.'”

DeSantis replied, “Well, first of all, there’s not a single book that’s been banned in the State of Florida, that is a media hoax.”

It’s not a hoax. DeSantis’ own Department of Education (DOE) has revealed that schools across the state have removed approximately 300 books during the 2022-2023 school year. The Charlotte County School District ordered all books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters to be removed from classrooms and libraries, Escambia County banned a non-sexual kid’s book on gay penguins and Manatee County banned a children’s picture book because two characters in it “seem” gay.

Fortunately cretins like Ronald DeSantis are in the minority and the world has many other people in it.  Taylor Henderson (THE MESSENGER) reports on one:

Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds is a fierce ally for the LGBTQ+ community. In an exclusive interview with The Messenger, the "Radioactive" singer shares the heartbreaking event that not only stuck with him over the years, but played a part in his founding of the LoveLoud music festival.

"When I was in high school, one of my friends who was Mormon and queer had come out and then been kind of rejected," Reynolds, who grew up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recalls. "He ended up going in front of the Mormon temple and taking his life. That was a real moment. That was a shifter for me, that this is really a broken system."

Reynolds already felt from a young age that the system was broken, "but seeing the reality of the loss of life," he explains, "really pushed me to feel that LoveLoud was needed."

The musician always felt that the bullying queer people face from their peers and family is wrong. "Their safe place, their church, their home was the place where they were being told that their innate sense of being was sinful. It just continually, from a young age, felt like: Man, this doesn't feel right with 'God.'"

The family-friendly music festival, which began in Utah, hopes to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with performances from musicians like David Archuleta, Tegan and Sara and Victoria Monét while teaching people ways to support queer youth, family and friends.

Reynolds came up with the idea of LoveLoud alongside a fellow ex-Mormon musician, Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn, and both wanted to ignite change in their community. Utah, specifically, has a suicide rate among youths that is double the national average. "We knew these people, we knew their hearts, and we felt like we could help make a change," he says.

After hosting five events in Utah's capital, they're taking the festival on the road. Later this year, LoveLoud is making stops in Austin, Texas; and Washington, D.C.; as well as another bonus performance in Salt Lake City.

Let's turn to the hideous Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Allies of former President Donald Trump such as Steve Bannon had encouraged Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to enter the 2024 presidential race as a means to harm the prospects of President Joe Biden.
However, Salon's Amanda Marcotte writes that this move now looks like it could backfire after RFK Jr. announced his own independent candidacy for the presidency that could siphon votes away from Trump.

I don't  have time for this but a number of e-mails came in from people fretting over the above.  

No one knows what the impact would be. 

The guess Amanda's making does not strike me as an educated guess. 

Allowing for the reality that primary voters are more passionate than general election voters, even allowing for that, I don't see how you can make any kind of educated guess at this point.  If you had to, I don't think you'd say, "He'll pull from Trump!"  Indictments haven't pulled from Donald significantly.  People turning on him and ratting him out has not resulted in the grand walk away.  

If I had to make a guess right now, gun to the head, Junior's pulling from Joe if he pulls from anybody.

There is no polling -- it's being done right now -- available yet.  Despite this idiot saying Junior's at 14.5% -- no, he's not.  He might be higher, he might be lower.  But that number was before he declared himself an independent.

You see people who want to trick and lie.  

Chris Christie.

I have not promoted him here.  If he's made a point worth noting, I've noted it here -- including his not knowing what the question was in a debate.  There are some in the center on the left who are promoting him, elevating him.  Some may be sincere.  Some are not.  They're inflating him to make it look like he's doing better than he is.  To hurt the Republican Party.

I was oblivious to this sort of trick until 1992.  That's when it was pointed out to me by a state official that Dems would carry our state (California) and if I wanted to do some real damage, I should vote in the Republican Party and vote for Pat Buchanan.  The homophobe?  No, forget it, I said.  But, I was told, it would look bad for Poppy Bush who was running for re-election if Pat Buchanan got significant numbers.  Sorry, not in the mood to play that game -- or to vote for Pat Buchanan.  But a lot of other people I knew were willing to play that game.

But, especially in state's with open primaries, these games are played all the time.

Point: Junior is not as popular as some think he is.

Or was.

Some of his popularity, when he was a candidate for the Democratic Party, was right-wingers who wanted to make Joe Biden look weak and vulnerable.  Now that he's a potential challenger to the GOP, some of his cheerleaders are going to fall away.  (Didn't Kim Iverson already?)  

He just announced this week that he was now an independent.    Polling is taking place on that right now.  We may have some results by Monday.  It will be interesting to see the results on that.  But right now, without that data, no one knows anything -- including me.  

On the topic of Junior, I'm not a fan of Seth Meyers work (this goes back to when he blamed the collapse of the housing bubble on low income African-American home owners -- he did 'jokes' about it on WEEKEND UPDATE -- and his sick crush on Rudy G) but I will applaud him for the joke below:

Seth Meyers bashed Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for his vaccine lies and longshot presidential bid in one fell swoop. 

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced yesterday he is dropping out of the Democratic primary and running for president as an independent,” Meyers said on “Late Night” Tuesday. “Cos’ like his vax card says, he never had a shot.”

The following sites updated: