Thursday, April 18, 2024

Lindsey's devotion to Trump

 Paul Rudnick Tweets.

If only Lindsey could have shown the same love and devotion to his mythical foreign girlfriend.  If only.

Also, am I the only one who thinks Lindsey spends all night jerking off to Trump only to pretend in the last 30 seconds to be thinking about Madonna or Lady Gaga in order to insist, "I am straight!"

To alter Pat Benatar just a little:  You're a law breaker, big faker, don't you mess around with me!  Sarah is a crook -- officially.   ABC NEWS reports:

The little-seen, $19,000 lectern at the center of a controversy in Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' office was made available for viewing on Tuesday night -- after a monthslong audit into how the lectern was procured and paid for found that Sanders' staff potentially violated several state laws.
[. . .]

Lawmakers questioned Sanders' staff about the audit's findings in a nearly three-hour hearing at the state Capitol on Tuesday, after the report was sent Monday to prosecuting attorneys.

"I was really hoping that you all would have brought the lectern with you today so we could see it," Republican state Rep. Julie Mayberry said at that hearing. "We all can agree that $19,000 was spent on an item and no one has really seen it."

Sanders' deputy chief of staff, Judd Deere, told lawmakers that she plans to use the lectern now that the audit is complete, previously having not wanted it to be a distraction.

Despite seven "areas of noncompliance" identified in the audit report where the governor's office potentially violated state laws regarding purchasing, state property and government records, Deere also said no members of the governor's staff were disciplined for their actions -- "nor should they be," he added.

$19 thousand of tax money wasted but no punishment and no accountability.  It's the new GOP way, after all.  When you make Dunce Trump your hero, you just keep lowering your standards. 

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, April 18, 2024.  Iraq's prime minister continues visit to the US, The Met returns stolen property to Iraq, a new revelation on Abu Ghraib goes under-reported (either outlets run the AP report or they're silent), the Israeli government kills five more children in Gaza, and much more.

This week, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, has been making his first visit to the United States where he has met with US President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and various business leaders -- among others. The visit coincides with the return of stolen property.  Adam Schrader (ART NET) reports:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has returned an ancient Sumerian sculpture to Iraq following an internal review by the institution, which recently appointed a head of provenance research.

The restitution of the Sumerian sculpture happened at a ceremony in Washington D.C., the Met said in a statement. The return takes place just weeks before Lucian Simmons, the former head of Sotheby’s restitution department, is expected to head up the museum’s provenance research team in May. Simmons has worked on restitution and provenance matters since 1997 but will now lead a team of researchers working across many of the museum’s 19 collecting areas.

The copper alloy figure dates to 2900–2600 B.C.E. and depicts a nude man carrying a box on his head, according to the museum’s listing of the work—which now notes that it has been returned. The museum called it a “fine example” of Sumerian sculpture in metal.

  Last year, the museum responded to renewed attention from restitution advocates by launching a landmark effort to review its collections for evidence of looting, such as suspicious gaps in ownership records. An internal provenance research team was formed and Lucian Simmons, who previously oversaw restitution disputes at Sotheby’s, was appointed head of the museum’s provenance research in May.

The Met’s efforts follow a rise in inquiries from the Manhattan district attorney’s office into private antiquity collections assembled between the 1970s and 1990s and their links to looted sites; the museum has since returned items acquired from private collections and linked to countries including Turkey, Egypt and Italy.  

The museum’s director, Max Hollein, said in a statement that the museum is dedicated to the shared preservation of the global cultural legacy as well as the ethical acquisition of artifacts.

The study that resulted in the repatriation of the sculpture made of copper alloy and labeled ‘Man Carrying a Box, Possibly for Offerings’ was not discussed by museum officials.

The artifact, according to the museum, was acquired in 1955 and has been a part of its collection ever since. It is believed to date from between 2900 and 2600 B.C.

RUDAW reminds, "Iraq’s artifacts have been subjected to frequent looting and vandalism since the invasion by the United States in 2003, with the theft worsening after the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group swept through large swathes of the country in 2014. The country has in recent years taken strides to return the lost antiquities."

The Iraqi prime minister's visit also coincides with a  US District Court in Alexandria trial. The trial's focus?  One of the great crimes of the US government in the 21st century, the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.  Prisoners in the Iraqi prison were tortured by Americans.  Matthew Barakat (AP) reports a new revelation has emerged in the trial: 

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


Geoff Bennett:

  • Your visit comes at a sensitive time for U.S. relations in the Middle East, following Iran's unprecedented strike on Israel over the weekend.

    The attack has inflamed concerns of a wider regional war. President Biden, whom you met with earlier this week, says Iraq has a role to play in maintaining the peace. How do you view your role?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    The region is witnessing turmoil in the Red Sea, Lebanon, Syria, and recently this escalation, which happened after the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, which is a dangerous development and a violation of international law.

    Iraq has tried after the Damascus event to de-escalate, and we urge the Iranian side not to respond to that. The attention of the Netanyahu government is for these regional tensions to continue. And, unfortunately, when these wars continue in our region, that impacts the security and the stability of those who live there.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    The U.S. helped block Iran's attack on Israel last weekend by using Iraqi airspace to shoot down drones and shoot down an Iranian missile over Iraq, but your military did not participate in that effort.

    Why not?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    Our security capabilities are still developing, so they can protect our airspace. Iraq and its security policy aims to keep the country away from any conflict or attack on other nations, because the ultimate goal is the security and stability of Iraq, especially in these difficult times.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    If there is an Israeli attack on Iran that uses Iraqi airspace, what will you do?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    Iraq rejects the use of its airspace from any country. We don't want Iraq to be engaged in the area of conflict. And I reiterate and stress that this escalation will engage the region in dangerous calculations, that nobody will control the reactions.

    This is why part of our talks with Mr. Biden were to urge the parties to de-escalate and to end these developments. From our side, we will exert efforts in order to achieve this objective.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Let's talk about the U.S. security arrangement in Iraq. The U.S. has some 2,500 troops in Iraq largely advising and assisting local forces to prevent a resurgence of ISIS.

    The Iraqi Parliament declared that U.S. advisers should leave. Is that departure based on a timetable, or is it based on the security situation on the ground?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    Our Parliament's decision in 2020 and the October 2022 government program called for the end of the global coalition's mission, which was done in coordination with the United States.

    This coalition emerged upon the invitation of the Iraqi government in 2014. We are speaking about 10 years ago. Now there is a noticeable stability in the region. There is preparedness of the Iraqi security forces. And ISIS now is no longer a threat to the safety and security of Iraq.

    This led the Parliament and political forces to end the mission and to transition into a security bilateral relationship with the United States and the rest of the countries of the global coalition.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    I hear you say ISIS is not a threat, but, this week, the defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, while standing next to you, said ISIS remains a threat to your citizens and to ours.

    How is ISIS no longer a threat?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    ISIS inside Iraq doesn't represent a threat to the security of Iraq. The elements of ISIS are in Syria, and we are working with the global coalition to secure our borders with the Syrians in order to prevent any infiltrations.

    The cells of ISIS are there. We are not speaking about armed people. We are speaking about ideology, extremist ideology that believes in killing and violence. We are tracking the recruitment and financing cells, and we are working on limiting them, controlling them. This is one of our concerns. What happened in Gaza will lead to a double escalation and violence and maybe we will regenerate a new [. . .], ISIS.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    The last time the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, ISIS took over a good deal of the country, and the U.S. military had to come back into Iraq to fight against them.

    What's to prevent that from happening again? Are the Iraqi security forces that have been trained by American troops, are they now capable of fending off a resurgent, potentially resurgent ISIS?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    This is an important question.

    Certainly, the situation in Iraq is different radically now than in 2014. Now ISIS does not have popular domestic incubators everywhere in the region, especially the liberated area. Also, the Iraqi security forces have gained unique experience at the advanced level, the top levels among forces in the region, in counterterrorism.

    Another thing is the political stability. My government is supported by 280 members of a broad coalition of 329 members that include all the components of the Iraqis. This is a factor of strength, and there is the economic development. In Iraq, we are not speaking about ISIS anymore. Only here, when I speak with the media, do we talk about ISIS. In Iraq, we're speaking about development, about investment in companies, universities, culture.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    I do want to talk about economic development, but, first, do you expect any U.S. advisers to leave Iraq this year, in 2024?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    We have agreed on a framework in the joint security dialogue and then also issued a joint statement with President Biden and committed to the outcome of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Military Commission, which will assess the capabilities and operational conditions.

    According to that, we will have a timetable about how to end this mission.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Iranian-backed militia groups continue to operate from Iraq, and this is even after they killed three U.S. troops on the border with Syria.

    You say you won't allow Iraqi territory to be used by any nonstate actor, but the fact is, they still operate on Iraqi soil. Why is that?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    The government has repeatedly stated its commitment to not allow any one side to play an outsized role in any operations that will lead to destabilization and lack of security.

    We have made that clear and we have taken practical measures against all those groups attacking diplomatic missions and military bases in Iraq. And we will not hesitate to take legal measures against anyone who wants to tamper with our security.

  • Turning to Gaza where the Israeli government has killed at least another five children -- already, close to 14,000 children have been killed in Gaza in the last six months (13,800 per Save The Children and UNICEF).  ALJAZEERA reports on the latest murder of children in the video below.

    The head of the UN's main relief agency in Gaza (UNRWA) has said that an “insidious campaign” is underway to end its operations, warning of "serious implications for international peace and security.”

    UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the agency was being “denied permission to deliver this aid and save lives."

    UNRWA has been under fire since Israel alleged that some of its employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack. Israel has long campaigned for UNRWA, the main distributor of aid in Gaza, to be disbanded. Israel has also banned UNRWA from operating in Gaza’s north.

    More than a dozen countries pulled funding for UNRWA after the allegations, some of which have resumed donations.

    “Dismantling UNRWA will have lasting repercussions. In the short-term, it will deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerate the onset of famine,” Lazzarini said.
    “In the longer-term, it will jeopardize the transition from ceasefire to ‘day after’ by depriving a traumatized population of essential services.”

    Lazzarini said children were "bearing the brunt of this war," with more than 17,000 separated from their families and "left to face the horror of Gaza alone."

    He also warned that "a man-made famine is tightening its grip" across Gaza.

    In his statement on Thursday, Lazzarini warned that dismantling Unrwa would have “lasting repercussions”. He said:

    In the short-term, it will deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerate the onset of famine.

    In the longer-term, it will jeopardise the transition from ceasefire to ‘day after’ by depriving a traumatized population of essential services.

    It will make nearly impossible the formidable task of bringing half a million deeply distressed girls and boys back to learning.

    Failing to deliver on education will condemn an entire generation to despair – fuelling anger, resentment, and endless cycles of violence.

    A political solution cannot succeed in such a scenario.

    Lazzarini called on the security council’s members to “safeguard Unrwa’s critical role both now and within the framework of a transition”.

    Gaza remains under assault. Day 195 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse." THE NATIONAL notes, "The death toll in Gaza rose to 33,970 on Thursday after Israel killed 71 Palestinians in the previous 24 hours, the health ministry announced. More than 100 others were wounded, taking the total number of injured to 76,770 since the war began on October 7."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

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

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

    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman in New York, with Juan González in Chicago.

    Several Google employees, at least nine, were arrested Tuesday evening after staging sit-ins at the company’s offices in New York and in California to protest the tech giant’s work with the Israeli government. The sit-ins, organized by the activist group No Tech for Apartheid, took place at Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s office in Sunnyvale, California, and the 10th floor commons of Google’s New York office, which is right around the corner from Democracy Now!

    Protesters are calling for Google to withdraw from a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Israeli government, known as Project Nimbus. Last week, Time magazine reported Google’s work on the project involves providing direct services to the Israeli military.

    The sit-ins were accompanied by outdoor protests at the Google offices here in New York and in Sunnyvale, San Francisco and Seattle, Washington. Workers and outside activists have opposed the contract since it was signed in 2021, but protests have ramped up over the past several months since Israel’s latest bombardment of Gaza.

    No Tech for Apartheid says Google is enabling and profiting from Israel’s use of artificial intelligence to develop a “kill list” to target Palestinians in Gaza for assassination with little human oversight. The Israeli military is also using Google Photos for facial recognition across Gaza and the West Bank to identify and detain Palestinians en masse.

    No Tech for Apartheid has published an open letter, co-signed by 18 other groups, that demands Google and Amazon immediately cancel their work on Project Nimbus. The letter has gathered more than 94,000 signatures from the general public.

    For more, we’re joined by two of the arrested Google workers. Ray Westrick is with us. She’s a Google worker-organizer with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, among the workers who occupied Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s office in Sunnyvale, California. She’s joining us from Sunnyvale. And here in New York, we’re joined by Mohammad Khatami, a Google software engineer who was arrested at the sit-in at Google’s office in New York. He’s joining us along with Gabriel Schubiner, a former software engineer at Google Research and an organizer with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign. And before that, he was with Jewish Diaspora in Tech.

    We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Mohammad, let’s begin with you. You were, just hours ago, in the jail — 

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: That’s right.

    AMY GOODMAN: — in the local police precinct. Talk about why you were willing to get arrested.

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Yeah. Well, rather than, you know, consider the demands that we’ve been raising for years now and listening to workers and considering the things that we’ve been raising, Thomas Kurian and Google execs basically chose to arrest workers for speaking out against the use of our technology to power the first AI-powered genocide. So, we were willing to get arrested for that, because at this point we aren’t willing to be lied to by our higher-ups anymore. We aren’t willing to be disrespected by our higher-ups anymore. And we wanted to take that to the offices and make sure it was understood by them, yeah.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: How do you sense is the support that you have among other Google workers, the degree of the dissatisfaction with the policies of Google?

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Yeah. I mean, Google has done a really good job at creating a culture of fear and retaliation against workers in general. But what we noticed was beautiful. So many people came up to our sit-in and basically showed support and felt that they were inspired by the work that we were doing, and felt inspired to speak out, which is exactly what we were going for. We want workers to feel like we have the power to choose where our technology is going and who we’re contributing to. So I felt really happy to see that, yeah.

    AMY GOODMAN: Ray Westrick, you’re on the West Coast. You were arrested in California. Talk about this Project Nimbus and why you were willing to get arrested, and what the response — were you in the offices of the Google Cloud CEO?

    RAY WESTRICK: Yes, we sat in at the office of Thomas Kurian, the Google Cloud CEO, to protest Project Nimbus, which is a $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government and military between Google and Amazon. We also were demanding the protection of our co-workers, especially our Palestinian, Arab and Muslim co-workers, who have been consistently retaliated against, harassed and doxxed for speaking out about Project Nimbus and, you know, the humanity of Palestinians. So, we were there in solidarity with them. We were there to protest the contract, which is being directly sold — providing technology directly to the Israeli military as it inflicts a genocide on Palestinians in Gaza. And yeah, that is why we chose to sit in Thomas Kurian’s office.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ray, could you — was there any response from the CEO or his office? And are you concerned about losing your job? Why — when did you decide to take this action?

    RAY WESTRICK: Yeah. We did not receive any response from the CEO. And I think it’s really telling that they would rather let us sit there for over 10 hours and arrest us for peacefully sitting in his office than have leadership engage in our demands in any way at all. So, we’ve received no response from the CEO, and we were forcibly removed by the police.

    And I — working at Google has been, you know, an honor. I really love my team. I love the work I do. But I can’t in good conscience not do anything while Google is a part of this contract, while Google is selling technology to the Israeli military, or any military. And so, it was a risk I was willing to take, and I think it’s a risk a lot of my co-workers are willing to take, because a lot of people are really agitated about this and have consistently made their demands clear and have faced retaliation for it. So, I chose to sit in, knowing the risks, out of care for the use of our technology, out of care for the impact of our technology and care for my co-workers.

    AMY GOODMAN: For our radio audience, I wanted to let people know that Ray is wearing a T-shirt that says “Googler against genocide,” with “genocide” in the famous multicolor of “Google,” that it’s so well known for. I wanted to bring Gabriel Schubiner into this conversation, a former software engineer at Google Research, an organizer with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, and ask you — you know, we had you on more than a year ago — this is before Israel’s latest attack on Gaza — talking about exactly this. And you were with a Jewish organization of Google workers at that time speaking out. Talk about the whole history of Project Nimbus.


    AMY GOODMAN: And the resistance against it.

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Yeah. Thank you so much.

    So, Project Nimbus was signed in May of 2021 while bombs were being dropped on Gaza, while Palestinians were being evicted from Sheikh Jarrah and beaten at Al-Aqsa Mosque. That was really a point — when we found out about Project Nimbus, personally, for me, it was a turning point, where I no longer felt able to continue doing my work without engaging and organizing. There was a group of people that felt very similarly, so we started a petition. We were connected, got connected with Amazon workers, with community organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace and MPower Change, and spun a campaign out of that.

    I want to be clear: Like, the campaign really is driven by worker concerns and worker needs around the ethical use of our labor, as well as the direct workplace concerns of the, like, health and safety concerns around working at a company that is facilitating genocide. We’ve known for a long time that this project was directly targeted at the military. It’s been reported in press that Google was giving trainings directly to the IOF. We know that Google gave trainings directly to Mossad. We know that the IOF

    AMY GOODMAN: When you say ”IOF,” explain the term.

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: I’m sorry, the — yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: Because people are used to hearing ”IDF,” Israeli Defense Forces.

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Right, yes. Yeah, it’s Israeli occupation forces, just to indicate, so we’re not repeating their messaging that their really aggressive repression of Palestinians is an act of defense. We know that it’s an act of occupation, so we say ”IOF.”

    And so, we’ve known for a long time that this project was directly targeted at the Israeli military. But it was only recently, through this last contract that Google signed directly with the IOF, that we recognized that Google was really doubling down, that this contract is directly intended to facilitate military use. And we know that Google was chosen over other companies because of the advanced AI technology that they’re able to offer. So, given that we’ve learned how the IOF is using AI in this war, we really see this as like a really critical campaign for Palestinian liberation.

    To speak to your point about the resistance against the project, we’ve been working against this project as workers for — since it was signed three years ago. We have been doing organizing. We have been doing, you know, base building and labor organizing. We’ve had protests externally and internally. We’ve had signed petitions. We’ve done outreach to our executives through internal forums, through chatrooms, through every available means, because, I think — you know, understanding, like, this contract really is — like, it really is an incredible issue for our work, like, all workers’ labor at Google. So many workers’ labor is contributing directly to this project, because all of the technology at Google is like deeply intertwined with each other. So, yeah, so we see this as really important, yeah.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Gabe, I wanted to ask you — the average person, who’s not a Google worker, who might support your stand and who uses Google multiple times a day around the world, what are you calling for them to do?

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Right. So, I mean, we’re calling for everyone around the world to really, like, help us with awareness, like, help us make it known that Google is a war profiteer. I think Google is so deeply embedded in people’s lives — right? — that it’s hard to ask for a boycott. But I think we’re calling specifically on people in the tech industry to divest from Google and Amazon. Google Cloud services and Amazon Web Services underlie a vast majority of the internet, but there are other options. So, technology workers actually have a lot of power to shift this paradigm and to, like, remove technology from this deep complicity with Israeli occupation.

    AMY GOODMAN: Mohammad Khatami, can you talk about your own family background and why you so particularly care right now about what’s going on in Gaza?

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Yeah, yes. So, I come from a Muslim family. I was raised Muslim. And it’s really hard to wake up seeing the images of children slaughtered and know that your — you know, the work you’re doing is contributing to this. I’ve lost sleep. It’s just been extremely difficult to focus on work and think that you’re working for something that is contributing to the mass slaughter that’s taking place. And for speaking out against that, I’ve literally been called a supporter of terrorism, which is something that —

    AMY GOODMAN: Called by?

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: You know, by co-workers and HR and people in the company, a supporter of terrorism, which is, you know, something — it’s like a schoolyard insult. It’s something I haven’t heard since middle school. And that’s just an example of the retaliation and the harassment and the hatred that we face just for speaking up against our work being used in this way.

    AMY GOODMAN: Are you concerned about losing your job?

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Absolutely. But it doesn’t — it’s not even important to me at all compared to working for something that is meaningful and having a good impact on the planet. I don’t want to have any association with this genocide. And I would hope that Google would change their mind about it, as well.

    AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Ray Westrick, where do you see this movement going from here? And can you talk more about the Jewish-Muslim alliance around this among Google workers and former Google workers?

    RAY WESTRICK: Yeah. I only see this movement growing and continuing to apply pressure. We received so much support during the sit-in. I’ve received so many personal messages from people, you know, thanking me for being vocal, and asking how they can be more vocal and get more involved. So I think this is absolutely growing. I think Google knows that this will continue, that, you know, workers are very agitated about this and will continue to speak up and apply pressure. And I think that’s why it was important for them to silence us. But this movement is growing, and more people are finding out about this, and more people are willing to organize and risk their jobs in order to take a stand against complicity in genocide.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank —

    RAY WESTRICK: And yeah, I think this has been a really unifying campaign for people of all backgrounds. And I know, specifically, a lot of us came together because we were specifically concerned about how Google has treated and retaliated against our Palestinian, Arab and Muslim colleagues, especially, like Mohammad mentioned, a lot of them have experienced harassment and doxxing for speaking out in like the appropriate channels at Google and have been consistently ignored and harassed and retaliated against. And so, we had to come together to say that we can’t let this happen anymore. We have to come together in protection of our co-workers and each other and in protection of, you know, the ethical use of our technology, to make sure that we’re not building technology that’s being used for harm. So, I think it’s been a really unifying campaign that is really grounded in taking care of each other and really grounded in making a positive impact and not facilitating more harm with technology.

    AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you all for being with us. Ray Westrick and Mohammad Khatami are both Google workers who were arrested yesterday, Ray in the offices of the Google Cloud CEO in Sunnyvale, California, and Mohammad here in New York. Also Gabriel Schubiner, a former software engineer at Google Research and an organizer with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, before that, with Jewish Diaspora in Tech.

    Two of the above who spoke to Amy and Juan above have since been fired.  Caroline O'Donovan

    Google fired 28 employees on Wednesday who were involved in a protest against a contract with the Israeli government the cloud-computing giant shares with its competitor, Amazon.

    The firings came after nine employees were arrested Tuesday while participating in sit-in protests at Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., and New York City. The workers were held for a few hours before being released, employees said.

    The employees, part of a group called No Tech for Apartheid, have been writing letters and staging protests against Google’s deal to sell technology to Israel since 2021. The tension over the cloud-computing contract, known as Nimbus, among employees at Google and Amazon has increased since the Israel-Gaza war began in October. The project’s critics say it will bolster the Israeli government’s surveillance of Palestinians and lead to further displacement and discrimination.

    This morning, THE NATIONAL reports:

    UN experts have raised alarm over what they described as Israel’s systemic destruction of the Palestinian education system as it wages its war on Gaza. 

    “With more than 80 per cent of schools in Gaza damaged or destroyed, it may be reasonable to ask if there is an intentional effort to comprehensively destroy the Palestinian education system.

    More than 5,479 pupils, 261 teachers and 95 university professors have been killed since the war began. At least 625,000 children have no access to education. 

    “The persistent, callous attacks on educational infrastructure in Gaza have a devastating long-term impact on the fundamental rights of people to learn and freely express themselves, depriving yet another generation of Palestinians of their future,” the experts said.

    “When schools are destroyed, so too are hopes and dreams.” 

    Women and girls kept from education are also at greater risk of gender-based violence, it said. 

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