Friday, March 08, 2024

Political crazies and GOOGLE censorship

Let's start with George Santos.  Remember him?  Expelled from Congress at the end of last year -- just months ago, He's facing federal charges currently.  Miss that?  The Justice Dept.:

CENTRAL ISLIP, NY – A 23-count superseding indictment was filed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charging George Anthony Devolder Santos, better known as “George Santos,” the United States Representative for the Third District of New York, with one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud, in addition to the seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the United States House of Representatives that were charged in the original indictment.  Santos is due back in federal court in Central Islip on October 27, 2023.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Nicole M. Argentieri, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Anne T. Donnelly, Nassau County District Attorney, announced the superseding indictment.

“As alleged, Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign.  Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “This Office will relentlessly pursue criminal charges against anyone who uses the electoral process as an opportunity to defraud the public and our government institutions.”

“Santos allegedly led multiple additional fraudulent criminal schemes, lying to the American public in the process.  The FBI is committed to upholding the laws of our electoral process.  Anyone who attempts to violate the law as part of a political campaign will face punishment in the criminal justice system,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Smith.

“The defendant - a Congressman - allegedly stole the identities of family members and used the credit card information of political contributors to fraudulently inflate his campaign coffers,” stated District Attorney Donnelly.  “We thank our partners in the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI as we work together to root out public corruption on Long Island.”

As alleged in the superseding indictment, Santos, who was elected to Congress last November and sworn in as the U.S. Representative for New York’s Third Congressional District on January 7, 2023, engaged in two fraudulent schemes, in addition to the multiple fraudulent schemes alleged in the original indictment.

So, guess what?  He wants to run for Congress again.  He's a public embarrassment who should hang his head in shame.  But he thinks he has a political career.  The world has gone insane.

Now this:

The search for former President Donald Trump's Vice President has been whittled down to three top (and young) lawmakers: Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are the top choices, according to GOP strategist and conservative blogger Ryan Girdusky.

If true, that would mean Marjorie Taylor Greene is no longer on Donald's list.  Guess macho Marjorie isn't a good sell with conservative MAGA freaks.  Oh, they'll use her, they just won't advance or promote her.  She's hit the GOP's glass ceiling.  

Again, they'll chuckle as you makes an idiot of herself at the State of the Union Address.  They just won't advance her.  MAGA conservatives want their women 'lady like.'  Doubt it?  Go to Twitter and look at the MAGA accounts -- look at the violence aimed against women by these conservative men -- where they post photos and videos of women bound and chained and rules about the patriarchy and how women don't have the right to speak -- especially not to say "no" to a man.  

Crazy Marjorie.  She thought she had a future.   Lauren Boebert?  That groper knew her career in district three was over but thought she could win in a new district.  Even Donald endorsing her, however, doesn't appear to be helping her:

Boebert was reportedly well received as she boasted to attendees, " Yesterday, the greatest president of the United States of America, President Donald J. Trump, has fully and completely endorsed me in this race. Because he knows he needs me alongside of him in the fight when he returns to Washington, D.C."

But, in a straw poll at the end of the day, the picture didn't look too rosy.

According to the report, "that endorsement — which she repeatedly highlighted during the forum — still didn’t stop voters from choosing longtime CD4 politician Jerry Sonnenberg as the winner of the straw poll. [Trump supporter Ted] Harvey came in second, followed by Boebert."

So that's the crazies in politics, let's get to GOOGLE.  

This part, about the censorship, may be difficult to follow because I'm writing very censored to avoid being censored by GOOGLE.  March 7th, I wrote a post and published it.

Something weird happened.  Right after hitting "publish" -- right after -- I got a message that the post was flagged and put behind a wall. 

This was not a case of anyone reading it -- even AI reading it -- because it was instantaneous -- unless GOOGLE is now spying on us as we write.

I was blogging in C.I.'s music room and we were listening to music.  I was flustered and she asked what was going on?  

She then, with my permission, attempted to get it posted without the warning.

She tried just copying and pasting it with a different title, that didn't work.  She then copied and pasted it with a different title and going through and removing certain words.  At which point, it went up and did so without any warning or wall. 

If you look at that post that's up, you'll see the name of the athlete in the title -- C.I. put Dean Phillips (which the post also focuses on) ahead of the athlete's name.

So this bad athlete that couldn't make it as football player and then failed as a baseball player and pretends he's happily married and loves kids -- but where are the kids?  Where are the kids?


I find it interesting that the language had to be watered down for GOOGLE to allow it up.

Let's be clear that this happened with the sport's failure.  I find it interesting that GOOGLE must have an algorhythm set up that immediately blocks any posts about that failure and things done wrong to kids -- again I have to watch the wording to avoid the algo rhythm.  When C.I. got the post back up with a new title, she had to repeatedly substitute words and pull words.  So hopefully you can understnad when I'm talking about. 

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, March 8, 2024.  Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union Address, Gaza remains his biggest problem, while he scored some successes last night and delivered the remarks perfectly he has still not seriously addressed Gaza, though the media hasn't noted it, Super Tuesday wasn't a bad day for Marianne Williamson, and much more.

In the US last night, President Joe Biden delivered the Constitutionally mandated State of the Union Address.  How was it?

For Joe, pretty damn good.

It could have been the night he was destroyed.  Some might feel it should have been.  Yesterday's snapshot was up about a half hour before the first call came in -- from a DNC friend -- asking, "What the hell are you talking about?"  I explained the FOX NEWS headline.  We walked it through and it would have been the end of Joe's chances at re-election.  

Fortunately for Joe Biden, the GOP is a bunch of idiotic malcontents.  They had the way to take him down last night.  They were too interested in performative and not in action.

Joe has a month or two where he can end the assault on Gaza (and should end it today) but if not don't be surprised if even idiots like the current make up of the Republican Party stumble upon to a victory strategy.

How can Joe demand a cease-fire, how can he make it happen?

That's what I heard over and over in the calls that followed.

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize we were all pretending we still had our virginity.

Take Netanyahu out.  That doesn't mean murder.  That means we have information, we have a spy network, he's a shady character already facing corruption chares in his own country.  He grows increasinly unpopular.  Political murders are no longer done with bullets, they're done with gossip.

Tut-tuting from the newly chaste was the response --  to which I replied, "So you don't want to be part of my dinners this month?"  That's right.  That's where I go to DC and drop gossip.

For example?

You: A Republican star in Congress.  So thrilled and focused on your future.  Me?  The celebrity you bothered at a wedding back when you were a young man.  The celebrity your boyfriend bothered.  Although I felt sorry for him because he was a little younger than you and I got the distinct impression that you affair began while he was underage.  Donna the disgusting women who kept trying to get you in pictures with me.  I meet millions of people.  The joke is I know everyone.  I don't.  And I don't remember everyone.  But too bad for you, you made it into a recent snapshot and there I was just spit balling, doing a little parody of you in the snapshot, giving you a home town in the snapshot and the person I'm dictating the snapshot to asks for a pause and he looks it up and that is your small town.  How did I know it?  That's when it all comes rushing back to me.  And I have the photos.  I don't throw out photos.  I put them in my journals.  I was there for a friend's wedding  And you were there with your fifty-something hag and your boyfriend.  And I have the pictures.  I'll be dining out with various politicians over the next few weeks explaining who you really are when you're not verbally attacking LGBTQ+ people.  Every time you speak to attack them, you're going to know that your colleagues know your full of crap and, most importantly, they're going to conclude -- like I have -- that your young life affair continues to this day since your lover is still around though you pass him off as something other than your lover of several decades. I like doing this.  It tends to make the target a little jumpy, tends to hem them in and make them watch their vile little mouths a little more closely.  Now at some point, this always happens, someone whispers to the press.  That's not my problem.  I didn't whisper to the press.  I just made sure everyone knew that the man screeching about gay people was in fact a gay man himself -- despite the wife.  

That's what I like to do.

I use the truth.  (I used a lie once, for the Iraq War, I've told this story here before, we needed to remove a newspaper's support for Bully Boy Bush and I said we could do it in one dinner.  On a dare, I proved it.  But, yes, I did lie then. Again, we've talked about that before.  The only time I've used a lie but we needed to strip him of support on the Iraq War and when I said how it could be done and several Dem heavyweights scoffed it became, "Oh, you think you know better than me?  Let me show you how it's done."  It took one dinner only.  The paper immediately dropped its support for Bully Boy Bush and his illegal war.) 

So the point is, I don't want to hear anymore excuses from or for the White House.  

The assault needs to end.  Netanyahu is in a weak position.  Confront him with possible exposure over whatever US spy agencies have on him (I have no idea what they have him on but I know they've got stuff).

The US government regularly pressures leaders in Haiti to step down, they can manage to twist Netanyahu's crooked wrist.

And if they don't?  

Republicans these days are very stupid but even they are eventually going to catch on with how to end Joe's political career.  He dodged a bullet last night.  I don't think he'll be that lucky again.

Could be wrong, though.  Wouldn't have thought Marjorie Taylor Greene would show up to the State of the Union looking like the butchest lesbian at a tailgate party but there she was last night working some intense LOVE LIES BLEEDING mood..  

Making a spectacle out of herself.  The way the woman in Texas did.  That's the loser that Elaine was writing about this week.  I was able to call that race a few weeks ago because it was so obvious.  You're a conservative woman and you're hating a man and forgetting the place you try to consign women to in your conservative world.

I'm a feminist.  I believe women can do anything.

Marjorie's not a feminist and she is not for women's rights and does not believe in equality.  Her core audience supports her on that.  So when 'the little woman' forgets her place in public and starts booing and hissing a man, it doesn't always play the way they think.  She was the fat girl getting laughs but now the pep rally's over and she has to deal with the fact that none of the guys like her or find her attractive in any manner.  

Watching her act that way in public -- even forgetting that embarrassing outfit -- you really have to marvel over the self-denial of Marjorie Taylor Greene that allows her to think she can court the crowd she does while acting the way she does.

Jill Dutton thought just like Marjorie.  She thought she was coming on 'ballsy' or something.  Nope.  She just looked like a woman attacking -- and, yes, nagging -- a man (Brent Money).  These anti-women women don't seem to grasp that their natural constituency expects them to be 'respectful' of men and to 'know their place.'  They get out there in the real world and want to act like fully empowered people.  But their political statements and stances make that impossible for them to do.  Jill came off like the nightmare image of every conservative man and she thought that was going to deliver her votes?

Here's Paul Rudnick's take on the the State of the Union Address.

Joe promised ROE V WADE would be restored -- most likely by codifying it -- if he were elected.  That's a promise he better be held to.  Barack Obama promised codifying ROE would be the first thing he did if elected president but he left the White House after eight years of being president without ever having even attempted to codify it.  Joe gave a promise that the cost of a month's insulin would be brought down to thirty-something dollars a month. His speech had strong moments (and his delivery of it was perfection).   Daniel Villareal (LGBTQ NATION) reports:

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address told transgender Americans, “I have your back.” He also spoke against book-banning and “erasing history,” and told Congress to pass the Equality Act, legislation that would enshrine LGBTQ+ civil rights into federal law.

“Stop denying another core value of America our diversity across American life,” Biden said, about midway through his speech. “Banning books — it’s wrong! Instead of erasing history, let’s make history! I want to protect other fundamental rights! Pass the Equality Act, and my message to transgender Americans: I have your back!”

His speech starkly contrasted the American “core values” of “honesty, decency, dignity, [and] equality” with that of “resentment, revenge, and retribution” held by “some other people my age,” a veiled reference to former President Donald Trump (whom he never mentioned by name).

“I know the American story,” Biden said. “Again and again, I’ve seen the contest between competing forces in the battle for the soul of our nation: between those who want to pull America back to the past and those who want to move America into the future.”

“Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War have freedom and democracy been under assault at home as they are today,” he noted. Then, after mentioning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continued invasion of Ukraine — something Putin has justified with anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry — Biden then mentioned the January 6, 2001 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol carried out by Trump’s followers.

“Insurrectionists stormed this very Capitol and placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy,” Biden said. “We all saw with our own eyes these insurrectionists were not patriots. They had come to stop the peaceful transfer of power and to overturn the will of the people. “

“January 6th and the lies about the 2020 election, and the plots to steal the election, posed the gravest threat to our democracy since the Civil War,” Biden continued. “But they failed. America stood strong and democracy prevailed.”

Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) offers this take on SOTU address:

Progressive Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush raised signs calling on President Joe Biden to "stop sending bombs" to the Israeli military as he pledged during his State of the Union address Thursday night to provide more humanitarian aid to Gazans and decried the war's grisly death toll.

"This war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of whom are not Hamas," Biden said. "Thousands and thousands of innocents, women and children. Girls and boys also orphaned. Nearly two million more Palestinians under bombardment or displacement."

As expected, Biden announced that the U.S. military will construct a temporary port on Gaza's coast to facilitate the delivery of food, water, medicine, and other humanitarian assistance as Israel obstructs aid shipments on the ground, fueling the spread of malnutrition and disease. Critics blasted the plan as a PR stunt that wouldn't do nearly enough to relieve one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in modern history.

"A U.S. port delivering meager amounts of humanitarian aid and empty rhetoric mean nothing when they are delivered alongside U.S. bombs," said Jewish Voice for Peace Action late Thursday.

The president also called for a six-week cease-fire—far from the "lasting cease-fire" that Tlaib and Bush demanded during Biden's speech.

"The only cease-fire that is morally acceptable is a lasting cease-fire," Bush wrote on social media. "It is inhumane to pause the violence for six weeks and then continue sending bombs right after."

While decrying the immense suffering in Gaza as "heartbreaking," Biden did not acknowledge the critical role that U.S. weapons have played in Israel's monthslong assault. Since the deadly Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7, the Biden administration has quietly approved more than 100 separate arms sales to the Israeli government, which has used American weaponry to massacre civilians.

Ahead of Biden's speech, hundreds of activists demanding an arms embargo on Israel blocked the route of the president's motorcade as he traveled to the U.S. Capitol.

Gaza is not going away and needs to be addressed.  Joe's speech succeeded because the GOP is so damn stupid and because he had certain things he needed to convey and did so.  But Gaza is not going away.  And this summary sentence from NBC NEWS highlights why Joe can't sell his actions on Gaza to the American people, "Biden also called for an immediate, temporary cease-fire in Israel's war with Hamas and pointed to hostages' families in attendance at the speech, but hopes for a new truce deal by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan have faded after no breakthrough in the talks in Egypt."  He's calling for an immediate, temporary cease-fire.  It's a pause, not a cease-fire, stop lying to us.

President Joe Biden cruised to victory in Hawaii’s presidential caucus on Wednesday, receiving 66% of the vote with 99% reporting. However, just over 1,500 residents cast ballots, and “uncommitted” received 29.1% of the vote, the highest percentage in any statewide contest thus far.

While Hawaii Democrats acknowledged that Biden would almost certainly win the party’s nomination, the select handful of voters who took to the polls described the contest as a “referendum.”

IN THESE TIMES notes that March 12th will see the state of Washington vote in their primary and that "uncommitted" is on the ballot as it will be for the Democrats Abroad.

In Hawaii on Wednesday, Marianne got 3.2% of the votes.  She could be relaxing by the pool.  She knows she's not going to win.  She didn't get back in to win, she got back in to make sure that certain issues are being raised.  

Marianne Williamson:  The possibilities are enormous.  We have everything we need in this country.  The possibilities are endless. We have the people and the best practices and the projects.  People who know how to do organic and regenerative farming, who  know how to reclaim the Earth, who know how to reclaim our food, who know how to reclaim our land, who know how to repair us after the ravages of 50 years of corporate dominance in which the very thought that short term corporate profits should take precedence over our safety, our health and our well being, that those economic ideas -- soulless as they are -- should take precedence over the will of the people.  To the point that in the last 50 years  there has been a transfer of wealth to the tune of fifty-trillion dollars. And it has ravaged American middle class.  As soon as they started with this 'trickle down' economic paradigm and as soon as CITIZENS UNITED Supreme Court decision, gave those corporate interests the power to basically buy and sell and turn Washington into a system of legalized bribery.  All that money was transferred into the hands of 1% of Americans.  At this point, that level of economic injustice has ravaged us.  It has ravaged our middle class.  It has ravaged our environment.  It has put carcinogens in our food, toxins in our air.  We don't have universal healthcare like every other advanced democracy does because of the insurance companies.  Over a million people in the United States, ration their insulin.  You don't have that in any other advanced democracy because they have universal healthcare. But all of that because of the greed of the pharmaceutical companies.  Look what has happened to Iowa because of the greed of Big Agriculture and big food companies and big banks.  I don't need to tell you that there is no state in this country that is not experiencing the ravages of an old way of doing things and the possibilities of something new. 

It's amazing that she's not news to the media.  In Virginia this week?  She got 7.8% of the vote.   Do you realize how many Republicans who never got anywhere near that much have been shoved down our throats by the media?  In Utah this week, she got 5.2% of the vote. 4.3% in Vermont, 4.5% in Texas, 9.12% in Oklahoma, 1.4% in Minnesota, 3.2% in Massachusetts, 2.9% in Colorado, 3.4% in California, 4.8% in Arkansas -- how is this not news?

It's not just better than she did in 2020 on Super Tuesday, it's better than Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, the repellant Tulsi Gabbard and others did in 2020 on Super Tuesday.  

Hopefully, poli sci students are paying attention -- especially graduate students because this is a good topic for political science journals.  This weekend, Marianne will be in Atlanta:


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

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Over the past few weeks, the Biden administration has been publicly voicing reservations over the mounting death toll in Gaza, calling on Israel to protect civilians and allow in humanitarian aid. But behind the scenes, the Biden administration has quietly approved and delivered more than 100 separate weapons sales to Israel over the last five months, amounting to thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, bunker busters and other lethal aid, this according to a new investigation by The Washington Post.

    AMY GOODMAN: Only two approved foreign military sales to Israel have been made public since the launch of Israel’s assault on October 7th, amounting to over $250 million worth of tank shells and ammunition, which the administration authorized using emergency authority to bypass Congress. But in the case of the hundred other weapons sales, known as Foreign Military Sales, the arms transfers were made without any public debate, because each fell under a specific dollar amount that requires the executive branch to individually notify Congress.

    For more, we’re joined by Josh Paul, a veteran State Department official who worked on arms deals and resigned in protest of a push to increase arms sales to Israel amidst its assault on Gaza. Josh Paul is the former director of congressional and public affairs for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the State Department, where he worked for 11 years. He’s now a nonresident at DAWN — that’s Democracy for the Arab World Now. He’s joining us from New Haven, Connecticut.

    Josh, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the significance of this Washington Post exposé, what we’ve learned about the U.S. flooding Israel with weapons as President Biden talks about saying he’s putting pressure on Israel to let food aid in?

    JOSH PAUL: Thank you, and thank you for having me.

    I think what we’ve learned from this story shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It is that the president continues to facilitate the flow of arms to Israel despite a change in tone. You know, we have certainly heard the administration call for more humanitarian assistance, for, you know, at least a temporary ceasefire. But at the same time, it continues to provide the arms that enable Israel to continue its operations. So, I think that’s pretty consistent, frankly, with what the White House has said, including John Kirby from the podium this week, that this remains U.S. policy.

    I think many of your viewers may be shocked to hear that there have been a hundred sales in the last few months since October 7th. But here, I don’t think anyone in the State Department will be particularly moved by this story. Much of the process does, unfortunately, move like a production line when it comes to cases that do not require, under law, congressional notification. So what we really have here is both a policy problem but also a lack of transparency that is built into the system, and which can only be remedied by a change in law.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s go to what national security communications adviser John Kirby said. He was questioned at the White House by the journalist Andrew Feinberg, a correspondent for The Independent in Britain.

    ANDREW FEINBERG: What is preventing the president from communicating to the Israeli government that if they don’t allow aid, we will not continue supplying weapons? Why is that not a fair trade: no aid, no bombs?

    JOHN KIRBY: Because the president still believes that it’s important for Israel to have what it needs to defend itself against a still viable Hamas threat. Maybe some people have forgotten what happened on the 7th of October, but President Biden has not.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Josh Paul, your response, both to the question and to Kirby’s response?

    JOSH PAUL: I mean, there you have it. And I think the question could also have noted that under U.S. law, under Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act, it is actually illegal to provide military assistance to a country that is restricting U.S.-funded humanitarian assistance. And we know that this is the case with Israel, because Jake Sullivan himself, the national security adviser, has said that this is a problem, and, of course, we would not be airdropping aid into Gaza, were we leaning on Israel to open the humanitarian aid routes. So, you know, I think there is a clear case to be made here that we are not in accordance with U.S. law, certainly out of step, I think, with international law. And at the same time, the Biden administration position remains: We will continue to provide arms to Israel, whatever it requests and requires.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, if you could explain, Josh: How much does this differ from the procedure that’s been in place regarding U.S. arms transfers to Ukraine? I mean, in this case, as we’ve said, only two approved foreign military sales to Israel have been made public. What about to Ukraine?

    JOSH PAUL: Yeah. So, for the most part, the procedures and processes through which we provide arms to Israel versus Ukraine are different. Ukraine requires an authorization under presidential drawdown authority, as well as new and novel funding to, for example, Department of Defense’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Those have expired. We are out of, essentially, both of those. And so, without additional funding, we will not be able to provide arms to Ukraine.

    Israel, on the other hand, is perfectly capable of using its own money to procure weapons through the Foreign Military Sales system, through the direct promotional sales system, which, by the way, The Washington Post didn’t touch on. And it’s quite possible that there’s a hundred more sales through that other channel to Israel that we don’t know about. And, of course, you know, we are providing Israel with military ground assistance, which it can also tap into and knows that it will be able to tap into, because it has a 10-year commitment from us to continue providing billions of dollars a year, unlike Ukraine. So it’s a slightly different situation and much easier, I think, for Israel to continue to receive weapons even in the absence of a supplemental, unlike Ukraine.

    AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Colorado Congressmember Jason Crow told The Washington Post the Biden administration should apply, quote, “existing standards” stipulating that the United States, quote, “shouldn’t transfer arms or equipment to places where it’s reasonably likely that those will be used to inflict civilian casualties, or to harm civilian infrastructure.” Crow, a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told the Post, “I am concerned that the widespread use of artillery and air power in Gaza — and the resulting level of civilian casualties — is both a strategic and moral error.” Now, Crow is not usually a dove on all of these issues, but it’s very interesting to see him talk about his response, his critical response to the U.S. when it comes to Israel.

    And this is particularly interesting on the day of President Biden’s State of the Union address tonight. We don’t know exactly what he’s going to say. We know there are a number of Americans who have family members who are being held hostage in Gaza. We don’t know if the Biden family or the administration will be inviting any Palestinians, and that Biden wanted to be able to announce a ceasefire tonight, which is clear, it looks like, will not be happening. But your response to all of this and how these weapons sales, do you feel, perpetuate the war?

    JOSH PAUL: Yeah, I mean, I think that people who have served in the military or worked in the Middle East, people like Representative Crow, also, frankly, like Secretary of Defense Austin, understand that what Israel is doing is not going to lead to success on Israel’s own terms, as Secretary of Defense Austin has said. It will lead to strategic failure. And that is why I think the same is true on the Israeli side, where you have former heads of Mossad, for example, saying that this is a dead-end road, that what they are doing is damaging to their own interests.

    But I think that is separate from the political question here. And the political question is one in which we have a president and, you know, a set of policies and, frankly, a Congress, as well, for the most part, that remains set on this course, regardless of the harm it is doing to Israeli security and to American global interests and, of course, to so many Palestinians.

    AMY GOODMAN: Josh Paul, you were in the State Department for 11 years, and you were involved with these kind of arms deals. You resigned in protest of a push to increase arms to Israel. But I wanted to ask you: How much does protest on the ground affect what’s going on in the State Department, in the White House? How much do you hear it? I mean, there is a massive amount of protest in the United States. And no matter who wants to insulate Biden from it, almost everywhere he goes he is hearing the chants of “ceasefire.” I mean, tonight, one of his guests will be the UAW President Shawn Fain. The UAW was one of the early unions to call for a ceasefire. How much does it matter?

    JOSH PAUL: I think protest is very important, I think particularly protest when it manifests at the ballot box, in terms of, for example, the “uncommitted” vote or the “other” vote that we have seen in states and will continue, I hope, to see in the coming days, because that signals to the Biden administration that they really have a political problem here. And that is really one of the only means we have of getting this administration to change course in the time that it has left. So I think that is very important. I think it’s most important when it manifests directly in the political process, and when it comes with organization. I think there is a momentum around this issue now, and we have to maintain that momentum for the, frankly, months and years ahead, because this is not going to be a long-term pole to shift where American policy is and has been for many years.

    AMY GOODMAN: Finally, you were inside for years the State Department. Now that you’ve resigned — and we sort of ask you this every time since then — how many people inside the administration have reached out to you? Do you feel that that’s increasing? And how many times do they tell you that they’ve been discussing this with Biden or the inner circle of Biden, and what their views on this are? I mean, Biden was no fan of Netanyahu from the beginning. And so, yet he is embracing him now. What they are saying?

    JOSH PAUL: Yeah, I mean, I’m still hearing from people I had not heard from previously, to be clear, who are saying that, you know, “This is not working. I feel sick to my stomach of being involved in this. And, you know, I’m trying to make changes, and it’s just not working.” I had several of those conversations just in the last week with people I’ve not spoken to before on this issue. So I think the internal pressure, the internal disgust, frankly, is still there.

    But I think, you know, the White House and the president have surrounded the president with, you know, a council of advisers who are, for the most part, like-minded with him. And I don’t know how much of that dissent is actually breaking through, and, even if it did, how much it would change the president’s decision-making. I think he is where he is. And, you know, absent significant political pressure, that is not going to change, unfortunately.

    AMY GOODMAN: Josh Paul, we want to thank you for being with us, veteran State Department official, worked on arms deals, resigned in protest of a push to increase arms sales to Israel and its siege on Gaza. He’s the former director of congressional and public affairs for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the State Department, where he worked for 11 years, now a nonresident fellow with DAWN — that’s Democracy for the Arab World Now.

    Gaza remains under assault. Day 154 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."  ALMAYADEEN notes, "The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported on Friday that 30,878 Palestinians have been killed and 72,402 wounded by the Israeli occupation as the genocide enters its 154th day."  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:

    And 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."   

    Today is International Women's Day.  CNN's Celine Alkhaldi and Ibrahim Dahman report:


    At least 9,000 women have been killed in Gaza since October 7, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said in a statement Friday.

    Here's what else the statement said about the conditions of women in Gaza:

    • About 60,000 pregnant women in the Gaza Strip suffer from "malnutrition, dehydration, and lack of appropriate health care"
    • About 5,000 pregnant women in the Gaza Strip give birth every month in "harsh, unsafe, and unhealthy conditions"

    The UN's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is the main aid agency in Gaza, also posted a statement on X (formerly Twitter), saying an average of 63 women are killed in the enclave per day. "On #InternationalWomensDay, the women in #Gaza continue to endure the consequences of this brutal war," it said.

    UNRWA's Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said more work is required to support and protect women. "An immediate ceasefire is the minimum," he wrote.

    The following sites updated:

    No, Ronnie Jackson, lying is not a family or faith or hard work value

    Starting with Paul Rudnick.

    Lindsey isn't the only embarrassment in Congress.  There's also a disgraced liar.  THE DAILY BEAST reports:

    Former White House physician Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) was quietly demoted by the Navy in July 2022 after a Pentagon inspector general's report substantiated allegations of “inappropriate conduct” and bullying of staff, according to The Washington Post. Citing a current defense official and a former U.S. official, the Post reports that the previously unreported demotion lowered Jackson to the rank of captain instead of rear admiral. However, he still describes himself as a retired “rear admiral” on his congressional website, and is publicly referred to as such by his Republican allies, including Donald Trump. Jackson has not yet commented on the demotion. A Navy spokesperson was quoted saying the “substantiated allegations” against Jackson—bullying subordinates, “fostering a negative work environment,” and using alcohol inappropriately—“are not in keeping with the standards the Navy requires of its leaders and, as such, the Secretary of the Navy took administrative action in July 2022.”

    After publication of this story, the Navy provided Jackson’s service record, which shows the rank of captain retroactively applied to the date of his retirement in December 2019.

    For an officer who served 24 years like Jackson, there is a more than $15,000 difference in annual pension payouts between a retired one-star admiral, the rank that Jackson held when he retired from the Navy in December 2019, and a retired captain, according to an estimate by Katherine L. Kuzminski, a military policy expert at Center for a New American Security. That payout gap is likely to widen over time as the military periodically increases its pay rates for each position.

    Kuzminski also said that it was inappropriate for Jackson to describe himself as a retired rear admiral. “While it is possible that others will mistakenly refer to him as ‘Admiral’ in perpetuity, he himself should not make that mistake,” she said.

    A Navy official confirmed that the service took unspecified action against Jackson in the wake of the 2021 inspector general’s report, which found that Jackson berated subordinates in the White House medical unit, “made sexual and denigrating statements” about a female subordinate, consumed alcohol inappropriately with subordinates, and consumed the sleep drug Ambien while on duty as the president’s physician. At the time of the report, Jackson was classified by the Navy as a rear admiral (lower half), a one-star admiral that is distinct from the two-star rear admiral position.

    Dr. Ronny Jackson was raised in Levelland, Texas where he learned the value of family, faith, and hard work. After working as a roustabout in the West Texas oilfields, he paid his way through undergraduate school at Texas A&M University. Following graduation from medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch, he began active-duty service in the United States Navy.

    With unique training in undersea medicine, he utilized his talents while assigned to locations ranging from Panama City, Florida to Sigonella, Italy. Dr. Jackson would later complete his residency in Emergency Medicine, finishing at the top of his class. Soon thereafter, he deployed to Iraq to lead Resuscitative Medicine efforts on the battlefield for a combat Surgical Shock Trauma Platoon.

    While serving in Iraq, he was called back to the states to serve in the White House Medical Unit during President George W. Bush’s Administration. Dr. Jackson ultimately led the White House Medical Unit as Director of the White House Medical Unit and Physician to the President during the Obama Administration. In December 2014 he ended his duties as Director and continued being Physician to the President. He was also Physician to the President under the Trump Administration, and in January 2019, President Donald J. Trump appointed him as Chief Medical Advisor and Assistant to the President.

    In December 2019, after 25 years of distinguished service to his country, Dr. Jackson retired from the United States Navy as a Rear Admiral. He returned to the great State of Texas and ran for U.S. Congress. Dr. Jackson was elected to serve Texas’ 13th Congressional District in November 2020. His committee assignments include the House Agriculture Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

    I don't believe that lying is a value of family, faith and/or hard work.  Poor Ronny Jackson.  A liar. A buffoon.  WIKIPEDIA:

    In May 2018, after receiving 12 complaints about Jackson's conduct, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (OIG) opened an investigation. The investigation stalled from October 2018 to August 2019 because the Trump White House Counsel's Office objected to the investigation and considered invoking executive privilege, but ultimately did not.[21][44]

    OIG investigators interviewed Jackson and 78 witnesses.[21][45] The OIG found that its interview of Jackson "was limited in scope and unproductive" because lawyers in the Trump White House Counsel's office insisted upon participating in the interview and "instructed Jackson not to answer any questions concerning events after his appointment as the Physician to the President in July 2013."[21] The OIG report was issued in March 2021.[21]

    On March 2, 2021, the inspector general of the Department of Defense briefed members of Congress on its review. Its report documented Jackson's inappropriate interactions with subordinates and improper use of alcohol while on duty.[46]

    The OIG concluded, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Jackson had "made sexual and denigrating statements about one of his female medical subordinates to another of his subordinates"; that Jackson "drank alcohol with his subordinates in Manila, became intoxicated, and, while in his hotel room, engaged in behavior that witnesses described as screaming and yelling, and behavior that some complained might wake the President"; and that Jackson took Ambien (a sleep medication) during official travel, "raising concerns about his potential incapacity to provide proper medical care during this travel."[21][47] In addition to findings that Jackson had "engaged in inappropriate conduct involving the use of alcohol" during two presidential trips, the report also found that he "disparaged, belittled, bullied, and humiliated subordinates"; "created a negative WHMU work environment"; and "failed to conduct himself in an exemplary manner and made an unfavorable impact on the overall WHMU command climate."[21][48]

    After the report was issued, Jackson said that the allegations were a "political hit job because I stood with President Trump" and that they "resurrected those same false allegations from my years with the Obama Administration because I have refused to turn my back on President Trump."[45][49]

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

    Thursday, March 7, 2024.  In the US and around the world the outcry for a cease-fire grows louder, starvation grows worse in Gaza as the Israeli government continues to disrupt the flow of aid, and much more.

    A protest vote against Joe Biden gained more traction around the country on Super Tuesday as voters in several states sought to send a message to the Democratic president to support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

    Grassroots groups organized quickly after a similar effort in Michigan last week far exceeded its goal of 10,000 votes for “uncommitted” brought in more than 100,000 votes, or 13% of the vote.

    A smattering of Super Tuesday states – Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee – had an option on the Democratic ballot where voters could decide not to commit to a specific candidate. These options included “uncommitted”, “noncommitted delegate” and “no preference”.

    And, still in the US, Kyle Stokes (AXIOS) notes:

    The St. Paul City Council unanimously approved a non-binding resolution Wednesday calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.

    Why it matters: St. Paul's vote is the latest sign of discontent on the left with the Biden Administration's policy toward the Israel-Hamas war.

    The big picture: A growing list of U.S. cities — including Minneapolis — have passed similar resolutions.

    Katie Galioto (STAR TRIBUNE) adds, "Dozens of cities in the United States already have passed resolutions calling for a cease-fire, including Minneapolis, Hastings and Columbia Heights. Council President Mitra Jalali characterized the council's vote as a "major departure" from St. Paul's usual approach to international issues."

    Dozens of cities -- in fact many more than that -- have also seen protests throughout the US.  Gary Robbins and Caleb Lunetta (SAN DIEGO UNION_TRIBUNE) report:

     In one of the largest demonstrations in campus history, about 2,500 pro-Palestinian protesters marched across UC San Diego Wednesday, demanding an end to the war in Gaza and pressing the student government not to do business with companies they regard as hostile to Palestinians.

    The Associated Students board was considering a resolution Wednesday night that would comply with the protesters’ demand.

    The disgust mounting is not just in the US.  CNA notes, "China described the war in Gaza as a 'disgrace to civilisation' and called on Thursday for an immediate ceasefire as the conflict stretched into its sixth month despite efforts by mediators to reach a truce."  Raya Jalabi (FINANCIAL TIMES OF LONDON) reports on Arab reaction:

    A recent Arab Opinion Index poll, which involved 8,000 people from 16 countries across the region, showed anger over the Gaza war and America’s response at record highs, with 76 per cent of respondents saying their position towards the US had become “more negative”. The pollsters said the survey showed “the Arab public has lost confidence in the US”. 
    Young Arabs have boycotted US brands, including Starbucks and McDonald's, over their alleged support of Israel, scrapped plans to study in the US and turned down jobs at US companies. Anti-US protests have been held, particularly in Yemen and Iraq, where the US has launched strikes against Iran-aligned armed groups.

    Daniel Hurst (GUARDIAN) covers another voice dismayed:

    Malaysian prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has criticised the west for its attitude to the situation in Gaza during a speech at the Australian National University in Canberra. He said countries should not apply international law selectively.

    “Unfortunately, the gut-wrenching tragedy that continues to unfold in the Gaza Strip has laid bare the self-serving nature of the much-vaunted rules-based order,” Anwar said.

    “The differing responses by the west to human suffering defy reasoning.”

    Anwar questioned why the west had been “so vociferous, vehement and unequivocal in the condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while remaining utterly silent on the relentless blood-letting inflicted on innocent men, women and children of Gaza”.

    “Sure, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between,” he said as he delivered the 2024 Gareth Evans Oration, named after a long-serving former foreign minister.

    US Senator Bernie Sanders says it is time to tell War Criminal Netanyahu "no."

      Flanked by photos of hungry children and destroyed buildings, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a speech Wednesday that the Biden administration must stop merely asking the Israeli government to halt its indiscriminate bombing of Gaza and begin using real leverage to bring about an end to the war and ensure the free flow of aid to the territory's starving population.

    "The U.S. government should make it clear that failure to open up access immediately and feed starving people will result in the Netanyahu government not getting another penny of U.S. taxpayer military aid," said Sanders (I-Vt.), who noted that "right now we have the incredible situation where a U.S. ally is using U.S. weapons and equipment to block the delivery of U.S. humanitarian aid."

    "And if that's not crazy," the senator added, "I don't know what is." 

    In this environment, US President Joe Biden prepares to deliver the Statue of the Union Address.  And he doesn't even see what may be coming politically.   The GOP is most likely setting a trap wherein Joe becomes ineffective and unable to lead.  That's how they're going to try to portray him -- and he's helping them out.  His inability to call out the Israeli government has left him wide open to the campaign that they are probably about to run on him.  It's worked on others.  If it works, it will only work because Joe has spent all these months truly doing nothing.  He has created the perception for his political rivals to build upon.  I hope I'm wrong.  And I'm being tentative here because I'm hoping that.  But in the last four hours, FOX "NEWS" has a new headline.  I saw it on Google as I was warming up (I usually exercise while I'm dictating the snapshot).  "That's interesting," I thought, "they haven't headlined that topic since the October 7th attack and suddenly that's their focus."  No, they haven't made that their focus.  But it does fit in with a new attack and, again, one used successfully against a sitting president before.  That Joe and his handlers could allow this possible attack to come about is appalling.  Again, I hope I'm wrong but I think I know the GOP 'response' to tonight's State of the Union Address. If I'm right, the only thing that would save him is to call for an immediate cease-fire.  If they're trying to paint him as ineffective and a dilly-dally, the only path through that is for him to demand a cease-fire in tonight's speech.  And maybe curb John Kirby because if you think about his statements on Tuesday, it's as though he's working to aid the GOP.  

    Five months after Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel, almost half of Gaza’s buildings lie in ruins and at least 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the enclave’s Health Ministry, which, along with aid agencies, is warning that some of the most vulnerable children in the territory have begun to starve to death.

    The Israeli military controls swaths of the Gaza Strip, and it has threatened to attack Rafah, a southern city where 1.5 million Palestinians have fled, unless a cease-fire deal is reached by next week. Israel has not achieved its military goals: destroying Hamas in response to its Oct. 7 attacks, which killed 1,200 people, and rescuing the 100-plus remaining hostages taken that day. It is unclear whether either is even possible.

    Abroad, the worsening humanitarian tragedy has heaped international pressure on Israel. Even friends such as the U.S., which gives Israel $3 billion in weapons and other military aid every year, have joined the chorus, rhetorically at least, pressuring Israel urgently to allow more aid into the enclave, where Palestinians are huddled in encampments and sleeping on the streets.

     As Israel’s severe restrictions on aid entering the Gaza Strip drain essential supplies, displaced Palestinians told CNN they are struggling to feed their children. Starving mothers are unable to produce enough milk to breastfeed their babies, doctors say. Parents arrive at overwhelmed health facilities begging for infant formula. In northern Gaza, people rush to grab aid from infrequent humanitarian drops. Health workers say they cannot offer life-saving treatment to malnourished Gazans because Israel’s bombardment and siege has crushed the medical system.
    The Ministry of Health in Gaza said Tuesday that since the beginning of the war, 364 health workers had been killed; 269 medical staff arrested; 155 health facilities “destroyed,” and 155 ambulances “targeted.” CNN cannot independently confirm the numbers due to the lack of international media access to Gaza.     

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

    A U.N. convoy of food trucks trying to bring 200 tons of food into northern Gaza was turned back by the Israeli military today. A convoy of 14 trucks waited for three hours at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint in central Gaza before it was turned away by the Israeli military and later stopped by a large crowd of desperate people who, quote, “looted the food,” according to the World Food Programme. This comes as Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinians seeking to get aid in northern Gaza, killing at least 119 people in the most deadly attack February 29th.

    Hunger has reached catastrophic levels in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry said today the death toll from malnutrition and dehydration has risen to 18, adding, quote, “The famine is deepening and will claim thousands of lives if the aggression is not halted and humanitarian and medical aid is not immediately brought in,” unquote. Children, pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses are most vulnerable.

    Meanwhile, the Israeli bombardment continues, with shelling and airstrikes today in cities across the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, Khan Younis, Deir al-Balah and elsewhere. At least 30,700 Palestinians have been killed, over 72,000 wounded in Gaza over the past five months. Nearly the entire population has been displaced from their homes.

    For more, we go to Cairo, Egypt, where we’re joined by Susan Abulhawa, a Palestinian novelist, poet and activist, author of several books, best known for her debut novel, Mornings in Jenin, an international best-seller translated into 32 languages, considered a classic in Palestinian literature. She’s the founder and co-director of Playgrounds for Palestine, a children’s organization, and the executive director of Palestine Writes Literature Festival. She just returned from Gaza after spending two weeks there, is now in Cairo.

    Susan, welcome to Democracy Now! If you can talk about what you saw? You have written, “Some are eating stray cats and dogs, which are themselves starving and sometimes feeding on human remains that litter streets where Israeli snipers picked off people who dared to venture within the sight of their scopes. The old and weak have already died of hunger and thirst.” Describe your trip.

    SUSAN ABULHAWA: So, that part of the essay is in the northern region, where nobody really is allowed to go. Trying to venture into the north is a suicide mission. There are tanks and snipers positioned, and anyone trying to get there is basically killed. As you just mentioned, aid trucks are not getting in, either. They are intentionally stopped. And it’s an intentional starvation, basically. I was primarily in the south, in Rafah. I was able to go to Khan Younis and to Nuseirat and a few other places in the middle region, but that became increasingly more dangerous.

    I want to say that the reality on the ground is infinitely worse than the worst videos and photos that we’re seeing in the West. There is a — you know, beyond people being buried alive en masse in their homes, their bodies being shredded to pieces, these kinds of videos and images that people are seeing — beyond that, there is this daily massive degradation of life. It is a total denigration of a whole society, that was once high-functioning and proud and has basically been reduced to the most primal of ambitions, you know, being able to get enough water for the day or flour to bake bread. And this is even in Rafah.

    And the people in Rafah will tell you that they feel privileged because they’re not starving to death, while their families in the north, the ones that they can reach, because Israel has basically cut off 99% of communication — what remains are basically communications by people who have, you know, set up some ingenious ways to keep internet in the north. But most people in the north have no idea what’s happening. As a matter of fact, at one point — I’m sure you all know Bisan Owda, who is on Facebook. She explained to me she often goes up to the border between Khan Younis and the middle area in the north where you can’t go beyond, and she explained to me that an aid truck, that sort of pushed its way through but was eventually fired on, had — people came up and ran up, thinking that the war was over and people were returning to the north. So, most people in the north are in total darkness and hunger and really have no way of communicating, no way of figuring out where to get food.

    And, you know, what we’re hearing on the ground is surreal. It’s dystopic. What I witnessed personally in Rafah and in some of the middle areas is incomprehensible. And I will call it a holocaust — and I don’t use that word lightly. But it is absolutely that.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Susan Abulhawa, I want —

    SUSAN ABULHAWA: The stories I heard from people are — sorry, go ahead.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, no, Susan, I wanted to ask you — you write in your article, “At some point, the indignity of filth is inescapable. At some point, you just wait for death, even as you also wait for a ceasefire. But people don’t know what they will do after a ceasefire.” Could you talk about that, even if there is a ceasefire —


    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: — the level of destruction that the people face now in terms of being able to rebuild their country?

    SUSAN ABULHAWA: I mean, that’s how much people have been reduced. I mean, the ceiling of their hope at this point is for the bombs to stop. And, you know, everybody wants to go back. They talk about pitching a tent on their homes and figuring things out. But a lot of people are trying to leave. There is a brain drain, basically. Those who can afford it, those who can raise the money, those who are able to get jobs elsewhere, who have professional skills, are trying to leave. They have children. All the schools have been destroyed. College students have nowhere to go.

    You know, what’s happening to people isn’t just this death and dismemberment and hunger. It’s a total denigration of their personhood, of their whole society. There are no universities left. Israel intentionally bombed schools and blew them up, presumably to ensure that rebuilding could not take place, that reestablishing a society cannot take place without the infrastructure of education, of healthcare, and, basically, foundational structures for buildings.

    AMY GOODMAN: Susan, I wanted to follow up on what you said about a holocaust. And you also used the term “genocide.” And you say, “Genocide isn’t just mass murder. It is intentional erasure.” Can you take that from there?

    SUSAN ABULHAWA: Exactly. I mean, one of the — like I said, one of the things that Israel has been keen to do in Gaza is to erase remnants of people’s lives. So you have, on an individual level, homes, complete with memories and photos and all the things of living. And I’m sure you know Palestinians typically live in multigenerational homes. We’re not a mobile society. And so, these homes have several generations of the same family completely wiped out. On a societal level, you have — Israel has targeted places of worship — mosques, ancient churches, ancient mosques. They have targeted the museums, cultural centers, any place that — libraries. Any place that has records of people’s lives, has remnants and traces of their roots in the land, have been intentionally wiped away.

    You know, it’s really frustrating for us to read Western media talk about, you know, Israel is targeting Hamas and whatnot. They’re not. This has always — and when you’re on the ground, you understand this has always been about displacing Palestinians, taking their place and wiping them off the map. That has been Israel’s stated goal, I mean, even in this instance and before, in 1948. It has always been their aim, to destroy us, remove us, kill us and take our place. And that’s what’s happening now in Gaza. It’s what happened in 1948, in 1967. And every new Nakba, every new escalation, is greater than the one before. And here we now arrive at a moment of genocide and holocaust, because the world has allowed Israel to act with such barbarity with impunity.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to ask you also — you mentioned the world reaction. More people have died in Gaza in less than five months than have — civilians — than have died in Ukraine in over two years, in the war in Ukraine, and Ukraine has 40 times the population of Gaza. I’m wondering your sense of the failure of the — especially of the Western nations, of Europe and the United States, to act?

    SUSAN ABULHAWA: The Western world has lost any semblance of moral authority, if they ever had any. Or, you know, I think that maybe there was an illusion of moral authority previously, but I think — you know, what we have always known is that we are dealing with genocidal colonizers. But I think that is more apparent to the rest of the world at this hour. And I think what’s also happening is that Americans are coming to understand, increasingly, though not nearly enough, that they’re being lied to.

    AMY GOODMAN: And we’re going to take up that issue in Part 2 of our discussion, which we’ll post at Susan Abulhawa, Palestinian novelist, thanks so much.

    This morning, CNN notes:

    • Suffering in Gaza: At least 20 people have died in Gaza due to malnutrition and dehydration since the war began, including a 15-year-old boy who was declared dead at the Al-Shifa medical complex on Wednesday, the enclave's health ministry said. Gazans told CNN their children are starving to death and mothers cannot breastfeed their babies. In the southern city of Rafah, a displaced health worker has warned thousands of babies could die of starvation if Israel continues its severe restrictions on food, fuel, water and medication from entering Gaza.
    • Israel blocking aid: The United Nations said almost 40% of aid missions it coordinated in Gaza were denied or impeded by Israel last month. In February, 86 of the 222 missions in areas that needed coordination were denied or impeded by Israel, said the agency's humanitarian affairs arm. In response to the deepening humanitarian crisis, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Cyprus this week to discuss creating a maritime aid corridor to Gaza

    Israel has generated “famine-like conditions” in the Gaza Strip “while obstructing and undermining the humanitarian response”, according to a new report by humanitarian group Refugees International.

    The group’s research in Egypt, Jordan and Israel revealed that Tel Aviv “consistently and groundlessly impeded aid operations within Gaza, blocked legitimate relief operations and resisted implementing measures that would genuinely enhance the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza”.

    Gaza remains under assault. Day 153 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."  ALJAZEERA notes, "At least 30,800 people have been killed and 72,298 wounded by Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, the Palestinian Health Ministry said."  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:

    And 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."   

    For six days, more than 50 countries, the League of Arab States, the African Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation presented testimony to the International Court of Justice (ICJ, or World Court) about the legality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. The overwhelming majority of them, largely from the Global South, told the court that the occupation was illegal.

    The historic hearing, which took place February 19-26, was held in response to the United Nations General Assembly’s December 30, 2022, request for an advisory opinion on the following questions:

    (a) What are the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures?

    (b) How do the policies and practices of Israel … affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all States and the United Nations from this status?

    The General Assembly asked the ICJ to discuss these issues with reference to international law, including the UN Charter; international humanitarian law; international human rights law; resolutions of the Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council; and the 2004 advisory opinion of the ICJ finding that Israel’s wall on Palestinian land violated international law.

    Israel regularly thumbs its nose at the World Court. It ignored the court’s ruling that the wall was illegal and refuses to implement the ICJ’s provisional order to refrain from committing genocidal acts and ensure humanitarian aid to Gaza.

    Before the hearing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the court: “Israel does not recognize the legitimacy of the proceedings of the international court in The Hague regarding ‘the legality of the occupation’ — which are an effort designed to infringe on Israel’s right to defend itself against existential threats,” he said. “The proceedings in The Hague are part of the Palestinian attempt to dictate the results of the diplomatic settlement without negotiations.”

    Although Israel didn’t appear at the hearing, it submitted a five-page statement which called the General Assembly’s questions “a clear distortion of the history and present reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Israel didn’t even attempt to defend the legality of the occupation, focusing instead on why the ICJ should not render an advisory opinion.


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