Tuesday, December 19, 2023

As of this moment, Donald Trump is off the ballots in Colorado

 Big news this evening.  A.P. reports:

 A divided Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday declared former President Donald Trump ineligible for the White House under the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause and removed him from the state’s presidential primary ballot, setting up a likely showdown in the nation’s highest court to decide whether the front-runner for the GOP nomination can remain in the race.

The decision from a court whose justices were all appointed by Democratic governors marks the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate.

So this will be appealed.  

If the Supreme Court of the United States had actual beliefs, they would refuse to hear an appeal and state "State's rights!"  

If the Supreme Court refuses to hear it, the decision stands.

Colorado has ten electoral votes.  Based on their last three presidential election results, Donald Trump never stood a chance of carrying Colorado to begin with.

So it could end there and he could just focus on the other 49 states.

But, if the Colorado decision stands, other states could also remove him from the ballots. 

This is getting very interesting.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Tuesday, December 19, 2023.  The delayed UN Security Council vote is supposed to take place today, hospitals in Gaza continue to be attacked as do journalists, and much more.

UN officials have expressed anger and disbelief about the situation in Gaza hospitals, where injured people do not have basic supplies and children recovering from amputations are being killed in the ongoing conflict.

“I’m furious that children who are recovering from amputations in hospitals are then killed in those hospitals,” said James Elder, a spokesperson for the UN children’s agency, on Tuesday.

He added that the Nasser hospital, the largest operational hospital left in the territory, had been shelled twice in the past 48 hours.

Dr Margaret Harris, a World Health Organization spokesperson, described the situation in Gaza hospitals as “beyond belief” and “unconscionable”, Reuters reported.

CNN's Kareem El Damanhoury notes the attacks on the displaced:

At least 297 displaced people in Gaza have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began, according to a statement from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The number, as of Saturday, comes from those who were sheltering in facilities run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA),

Another 1,032 displaced Palestinians taking refuge in those shelters were also injured, the OCHA statement read, adding that UNRWA schools in the strip were also damaged.

"Seventy of the schools damaged are UNRWA schools, with at least 56 serving as shelters for IDPs [internally displaced persons]," the statement read. "Several schools, including UNRWA schools, have been directly hit by Israeli airstrikes or tank shells."

Overall, about 1.9 million Palestinians, constituting more than 85% of Gaza's population, have been displaced across the strip since October 7, according to UNRWA. A majority of them, roughly 1.4 million people, are sheltering in UNRWA facilities.

In Rafah: Gaza's southernmost area has now become the most densely populated area in the enclave, with a density of 12,000 people per square kilometer, following the arrival of tens of thousands of displaced people there in search for safety since December 3, OCHA said. 

Despite these horrifying actions and many more, the United Nations Security Council did not vote on a cease-fire yesterday as planned.  Patrick Wintour (GUARDIAN) explains, "The United Nations security council has postponed a vote calling for a sustainable cessation of hostilities in Gaza to give more time for diplomats to meet US objections to the wording of the draft resolution."   AP adds, "A key issue is how to implement and sustain a desperately needed aid operation. Human Rights Watch accused Israel earlier Monday of deliberately starving Gaza’s population by blocking the delivery of water, food and fuel, a method of warfare that it described as a war crime. The United Nations’ food agency reported on Dec. 14 that 56% of Gaza’s households were experiencing “severe levels of hunger,” up from 38% two weeks earlier."  The vote is now expected to take place today.  THE WASHINGTON POST reminds, "The expected Security Council vote Tuesday also comes a week after the U.N. General Assembly — which includes representatives of all 193 U.N. member states — voted overwhelmingly in favor of a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza. The United States was one of 10 countries to oppose that resolution, highlighting Washington’s growing isolation on the world stage as it continues to largely back Israel’s actions in Gaza despite mounting criticism of the toll."

The assault on Gaza continues.  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 now well over 18,000. NBC NEWS notes, "The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, at least 19,453 people have been killed and more than 52,000 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to figures released by Gaza's Hamas-run Ministry of Health and the Hamas government media office."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  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."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

Yesterday on DEMOCRACY NOW!, Amy Goodman noted, "In occupied East Jerusalem, photojournalist Mustafa Alkharouf, who works for the Turkish Anadolu outlet, was hospitalized Friday after he was severely beaten by Israeli police officers. Alkharouf had been taking photographs outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque when officers pointed their weapons at him, then threw him to the ground and began beating and kicking him. The attack was caught live on CNN."  CNN adds, "Gaza has become the most dangerous place in the world for journalists and their families, according to the UN. Since October 7, at least 57 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Gaza according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). In total, at least 64 journalists have been killed since October 7, which include four Israeli and three Lebanese journalists, the organization said."  Ahmed Asmar (ANADOLU AGENCY) reports:

The death toll of Palestinian journalists killed by the Israeli army since Oct. 7 in Gaza has risen to 97, authorities in the besieged Palestinian enclave said on Tuesday.

"The number of journalist martyrs has risen to 97 since the start of the [Israeli] brutal aggression on Gaza," said the Gaza-based government media office.

The last journalist victim was Adel Zorob who was killed in Israeli overnight airstrikes on Rafah city, southern the Gaza Strip, it said.

The office accused the Israeli army of deliberately killing the Palestinian journalists with the aim “to obliterate the truth."

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

Israel is intensifying its attacks across Gaza as pressure grows on Israel to support another ceasefire. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports the head of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, has met with the prime minister of Qatar and CIA chief William Burns in Poland. Talks between the Mossad and Qatar also took place this weekend in Norway. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has arrived in Tel Aviv for talks.

This comes as Israel continues to carry out attacks across Gaza, targeting hospitals, schools and refugee camps. Authorities in Gaza say an Israeli attack on the Jabaliya refugee camp killed 110 people on Saturday. Israel has also raided the Kamal Adwan Hospital, where doctors say Israeli bulldozers crushed Palestinians to death, including wounded patients who were living in tents in the hospital’s courtyard. Israel has also attacked Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing calls to secure the release of the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza, after Israeli forces mistakenly shot dead three Israeli hostages who managed to escape captivity in northern Gaza. The three men, who were all shirtless, were shot as they cried for help in Hebrew while holding up a white flag.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to attack Palestinian journalists. On Friday, Al Jazeera journalist Samer Abudaqa was killed after an Israeli drone struck a U.N. school in Khan Younis where displaced Palestinians were being sheltered. In a statement, Al Jazeera said, quote, “Following Samer’s injury, he was left to bleed to death for over five hours, as Israeli forces prevented ambulances and rescue workers from reaching him, denying the much-needed emergency treatment,” unquote. This is Ibrahim Qanan, a reporter for Al-Ghad in Gaza.

IBRAHIM QANAN: [translated] This is a horrific crime, a direct target. The first missile hit Samer, and he tried to crawl for 200 meters, but the Israeli warplanes hit him again and directly, so he became a martyr, and his body was cut into pieces. This is a crime, day and night, against journalists and against the media outlets who are working to reveal the Israeli occupation crimes in Gaza Strip.

AMY GOODMAN: Al Jazeera says it will ask the International Criminal Court to investigate the killing of Samer Abudaqqa. He was working with his colleague Wael Dahdouh, the head of Al Jazeera in Gaza, who was injured in the same drone strike. They were reporting from the school together. Wael was able to walk to a hospital, dazed, to receive medical attention. He already had lost his wife, son, daughter and grandson in an earlier Israeli attack.

We begin today’s show with Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, longtime Palestinian journalist and author. His books include Palestine/Israel: Peace or Apartheid: Prospects for Resolving the Conflict. He’s joining us from the studios of Al Jazeera in Doha.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Marwan. We welcome you back. If you can start off, since you’re there at Al Jazeera, by talking about the International Criminal Court complaint that Al Jazeera has filed after the death of a beloved cameraman who’s worked with so many Al Jazeera journalists there, was working with the head of Al Jazeera in Gaza at the time, with Wael Dahdouh? Talk about what happened to him and just what it’s like to walk the halls of Al Jazeera right now, as I watched Al Jazeera over the weekend, every hour the tributes to him, the video, the photos of him, his colleagues remembering him, his family crying out for him.

MARWAN BISHARA: Well, as you know, this is not the first time we go through this. We’ve gone through it a number of times already, mourning our colleagues, the death of our colleagues and the death of their families. They are our family, and their families are also our extended family. And that’s just been going on for too long. We’ve covered too many wars. I personally have been in since the First Gaza Wqar back in 2008, 2009. We’ve gone through four wars like that. And only a couple years ago, one of our colleagues, as you know, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed in the Jenin refugee camp. So this is all too close to home.

I mean, you know, every day we live the tragedy of the death of several hundreds in Gaza the past 10 weeks. But when it comes to our very own, I guess it’s human nature, right? You just can’t ignore it, can’t go on without being preoccupied with it and preoccupied with the feelings of those loved ones, that continue to endure the bombings, the inhumane bombings that we’re seeing in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. So it’s a somber atmosphere, but people here just, I guess, plow ahead — there’s no other option — as countless people die and countless families suffer without shelter, without medical treatment, even without food. It’s just the tragedy that we just have to live through every day and report on every day.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about that issue of food. You have this new Human Rights Watch report that’s out that’s accusing Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war, saying, “Israeli forces are deliberately blocking the delivery of water, food, and fuel, while willfully impeding humanitarian assistance, apparently razing agricultural areas, and depriving the civilian population of objects indispensable to their survival.” This is Carl Skau, the deputy executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme, speaking to reporters last week in New York after a recent visit to Gaza.

CARL SKAU: What we found there was that half of the population are starving. The grim reality is also that nine out of 10 people are not eating enough, are not eating every day, and don’t know where the next meal is going to come from. … We are ready to deliver to another million people within a couple of weeks, should the conditions allow. And let me reiterate that caveat, that should those conditions allow, which would be opening of more crossings and a humanitarian ceasefire to be able to reach people across the strip.

AMY GOODMAN: The deputy executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme. He says nine out of 10 people are not eating enough in Gaza. I mean, in the past, with all of Gaza’s problems, hunger was not one of them. Can you talk about the significance of this, and also this latest news? I mean, even as we’re broadcasting, these attacks on one hospital after another. I mean, Abudaqa and Wael Dahdouh were covering the strike on the U.N. school in Khan Younis when Abudaqa was killed.

MARWAN BISHARA: Yes, absolutely. Just as a reminder to your viewers, there was also a report by Oxfam on October 23rd — that’s also just two weeks after the war started in Gaza, or on Gaza — where it also spoke about the weaponization of hunger, because this has actually been going on since day one, since October 8, when defense minister — so-called defense minister, minister of war, Yoav Gallant, if you remember, made his infamous threat by saying, “We’re going to cut their food, their fuel, their electricity,” basically denying the Palestinians of every basic need. It’s part of the collective punishment that Israel decided from day one to impose on the Palestinians, which of course is a war crime.

But that’s been the nature of the war, because right after he said that he’s going to deny the Palestinians in Gaza all of this, he said they are “human animals.” This was basically an intent for genocide, because right after he did make those infamous declarations, the president of Israel, Mr. Herzog, also came out with his statements about the fact, to his view, there are no innocents in Gaza. No innocents in Gaza. And that was followed by the prime minister, Netanyahu, who said something about an analogy with some biblical times, comparing the Palestinians to the Amalek, and hence basically saying that Israel will go after their families, their parents, the children, even the infants and their families. So we have the three leading Israeli officials basically admitting in public, once and again, [inaudible] collective punishment against Palestinians in general in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Marwan, if you can talk about what’s happening, the increasing isolation of Israel, and the United States supporting Israel? You have yet another vote today in the U.N. Security Council around a ceasefire. You have the British and German foreign ministers calling for a ceasefire, further isolating the U.S., which blocked a ceasefire at the U.N. Security Council. Lloyd Austin is in Tel Aviv meeting with the Israeli leadership. If you can shed light on — you know, Netanyahu, after the killing of the three Israeli hostages, held a news conference. He is under enormous pressure right now to put the hostages at the top. You’ve got negotiations going on, apparently, in Norway between the Qatari and Mossad officials, and now William Burns, head of central intelligence, is in Poland to meet with the Qatari officials. Talk about all that’s happening right now, Netanyahu not wanting to end this war right now. And there is a question about, since he’s facing one criminal trial after another himself, whether, once this ends and there’s a real evaluation done, he could end up in jail himself, so putting that off.

MARWAN BISHARA: Well, OK, so let’s try quickly to dissect all of these very complicated issues. Let me just start by a quick — not going to call it “correction,” but just, you know, shed a light on the German, British position. They have not called for an immediate ceasefire. They called for a sustained ceasefire, which is the opposite of an immediate ceasefire, because, basically, they said it’s not anything that we think of that will happen anytime in the near future, when they mention “sustained,” which means the circumstances have to be suitable, which is basically very close to the American position. Unfortunately, the European clients of the United States, for the time being, remain so, clients of the United States, following in the footsteps of the United States, basically to the displeasure of the majority of their public opinion, also like that of the public opinion of the United States, apparently.

But clearly the Biden administration wants to beautify the genocide in Gaza. I think they’re being embarrassed, because the reports coming out of Gaza, the images, the suffering and all of that, is reaching American public and the Western public in general. And they need to, you know, give the impression that they’re doing something, hence they’re sending these envoys to the region and writing articles and so on and so forth, to at least prove that they are trying to do something, while, in fact, in reality, the United States continue to subsidize this war, manage this war, because we see Lloyd Austin sitting along with Yoav and the rest of the Israeli generals. And they also, of course, as we know, sent the two aircraft carriers and the nuclear submarines to the area, hence shielding Israel, not just militarily, but also at the United Nations, committing $14 billion to Israel’s war effort. So, all in all, the United States continue to unconditionally support Israel, while claiming to distance itself from the intensive phase of the war, claiming that they want to phase out to something different. Right? So, that’s what we have for the time being.

But the fact of the matter is that, until today, 10 weeks later, the United States has yet to condemn Israel in public, its war crimes in Gaza, yet to distance themselves from those war crimes that have been reported once and again that are taking place in Gaza. All what they’re saying is that Israel should try to minimize, because too many Palestinians have died over the past 10 weeks. And now when they talk about the phaseout — and here, this is a very, very interesting fact that we see — they’re saying Israel should perhaps target Hamas fighters, Hamas tunnels, and assassinate their leaders. That’s what they’re saying. So, it begs the question: If this is the way to fight Hamas, why did they go on and destroy Gaza, leading to tens of thousands of casualties the past 10 weeks? There is clearly another way to fight this war, which is going after Hamas, not going after Gazans. But from the beginning, Amy — and this is, again, very important to underline — is the fact that Gaza has been the target of this war, not Hamas. And if you look at the statistics, Gazans — the journalists, the doctors, the nurses, the teachers, the academics, the children — have been the main victims of this war. Hamas fighters, Hamas militants have been the collateral damage in this war. For the past 10 weeks, it was Gaza that’s being decimated, its civil infrastructure being decimated. It’s been a war on hospitals, on schools, on mosques and, yes, a war on children. And yet it was unconditionally supported by the United States and other Western powers. And we haven’t heard a single retraction for that support. And it’s still being shielded at the United Nations. Hundred and fifty-three members called for an immediate ceasefire, and what did the United States do? Voted against it. Thirty members of the U.N. Security Council voted for an immediate ceasefire. Britain abstained. The United States vetoed the resolution. The United States and Britain, until today, they sit isolated in the international community.

So, when President Biden tells a small group of people in Washington that Israel is perhaps losing the public support, what public support? What international public support? A majority in America, to my knowledge, ask for a ceasefire. A majority of the [inaudible] out are the Biden administration and his lackeys in London and Berlin. The rest of the international community, including the absolute majority of everyone in this region, wants a ceasefire.

And just quickly to cap that, we just interviewed a number of people in Gaza, in the streets in Gaza, asked them, “What do you think about Lloyd Austin coming to the area?” They said something to the fact, “Oh my god, this means we’re going to be bombed again and again the next few days,” because think about that. Since Biden landed in the middle of October, every time an American official showed up in Israel, Israel had intensified the bombings. After Biden came, the land invasion started. And every visit by Blinken or Sullivan or Lloyd Austin, we have seen an intensification of the bombings of the civilian infrastructure of Gaza, of the residential buildings in Gaza. That’s been the case. That’s been the reality. There’s no other interpretations of it.

So, the diagram, the process, if you will, shows unconditional American support, despite the various acrobatic verbal diarrhea that comes out of Western capital about, “Well, we’re not very happy about too many Palestinians dying.” Well, how many is enough exactly for them to stop Israel from continuing? Because Israel couldn’t launch this war, couldn’t sustain this war, couldn’t survive in the region like this without American support. In fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu says that “We will win this war with the support of the United States.” So, imagine: A country that calls itself the most important power in the Middle East is incapable of defeating a small guerrilla group that’s been under siege for the past 17 years, and it requires the deployment of aircraft carriers and the financial and military power of the world’s superpower. And yet, until today, it still insists it’s not even done with half of the job, because despite the tens of thousands of casualties, despite the death of more than 7,000 children, only a fraction — a fraction — of Hamas fighters have been killed in this war. It all goes to tell you that the endgame and the military objectives, none of them have been reached, despite the genocide that continues to unravel in Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Netanyahu holds this news conference on Saturday after the killing of the three Israeli hostages in Gaza, and he says, “We have to intensify the war to make Hamas release the hostages.” What is your response to this? Clearly at odds with even Israeli public opinion. And the idea that these three men, who were killed by Israeli forces, Netanyahu saying that his own forces violated the rules of war, was this any different or any surprise than the thousands — the way thousands of Palestinians have been treated, many also holding up a white flag? The surprise here is that these hostages were not treated differently than Palestinians.

MARWAN BISHARA: Absolutely, shirtless, white flag and shouting in Hebrew, and yet they were murdered by their own, which tells you, according now to a good number of Israelis speaking out, that there are no rules of engagements. It’s crap. It’s humbug. There are no rules of engagement in Gaza. You shoot whatever moves in Gaza. And, yes, it’s odd, because the Israelis have been doing exactly that since day one.

Now, as you said, it’s also odd, his arguments about the captives, because this is the most ridiculous arguments of all arguments. We’ve known from the beginning that they said the aim of the war is first to defeat Hamas, second to release the captives. And they kind of connected both by saying, “If we intensify the war, Hamas will be pressured to release the captives.” It never did. So they had to resort to diplomacy, asking the Qataris, the Egyptians and the Americans to help. And they did. And through diplomacy, they were able to release some of the hostages. And then they went back to war the day after. Now they want to try it again.

Well, the news is that Hamas will no longer accept humanitarian pauses. Hamas now insists on permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Gaza. Otherwise, what incentive does Hamas have in order to release any more of the, especially military, captives that it has in Gaza? Because if the Israelis, with the support of the United States, are going to continue the bombings the next day, and they insist that the war objective is to kill Hamas fighters, there is zero incentives why they would release anyone.

So, today, we are in the Netanyahu logic. And the Netanyahu logic is neither in the interests of Israel or the United States. And Biden knows that. Apparently, he got a file from Israel, through his intelligence agencies, that says something to the fact, according to Haaretz, the Israeli mainstream paper, that Netanyahu has a vested — has a personal vested interest in prolonging the war, because he, you know, as a political-criminal-indicted-on-corruption-charges-cum-war-criminal, he has a vested interest to prolong the war as much as he can in order to improve his chances for reelection. In fact, he just put in the military fatigue and started making his populist slogans, the ones that we know them, saying that only he can prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state, that only he can stand up to the United States, and hence the Israelis need to elect him again. So, Netanyahu, as a person, the military establishment, as well, have vested interest to continue with this war.

AMY GOODMAN: Marwan Bishara, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, speaking to us from Doha, Qatar, born in Nazareth, in the occupied West Bank. Thanks so much for being with us.

Coming up, Nina Lakhani, the senior climate justice reporter of The Guardian. Stay with us.

Let's turn to Senator Bernie Sanders.  At THE NATION, Adam Johnson writes:

There’s been a lot of confusion over Senator Bernie Sanders’s position on the Gaza war. On the one hand, few elected officials have been more harshly critical of Israel’s siege and relentless bombing of Gaza. On the other hand, he refuses to join global calls—by everyone from Oxfam to Amnesty International to Doctors Without Borders, along with a growing number of his congressional colleagues, including both of the other federally elected officials from Vermont—for a longer-term cease-fire. Instead, Sanders has stuck to his demand for something fairly boutique and not backed by any major human rights or Palestinian organizations: a “temporary” cease-fire—ostensibly, so aid can get into Gaza and Israel can propose a plan for a more humane strategy to “eliminate Hamas.” 

In and of itself, another temporary pause is not a bad thing. But it’s neither useful or morally sound larger strategy. The week after the November 24–December 1 “humanitarian truce,” Israel, according to the Euro-Med human rights monitor, increased the rate of daily killing 40 percent, effectively just making up for lost time. And the number of Palestinian prisoners released from prison ended up being dwarfed by the total number of Palestinian civilians Israeli occupation forces arrested in the West Bank since October 7. Hamas freed more than 100 Israeli hostages, which is great news, but in the face of over 18,000 dead Palestinians, that is a relatively small humanitarian victory.  

If Sanders were only refusing to call for a longer-term cease-fire, it would be reputation-tarnishing but perhaps not worthy of a column-length rebuke. But Sanders—either because of partisan or personal loyalty to the president or a misguided belief that neat and clean regime change is a realistic option—is doing something far more harmful: He’s actively lobbying against the logic of a longer cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. As someone viewed by many in Congress and media as the furthest left pole of “acceptable” left-wing opinion, this has undermined the big tent demand among Palestinian groups, aid groups, and human rights groups for a longer-term cease-fire.

Sanders has repeatedly argued on national TV that a permanent cease-fire with Hamas is not only inadvisable but impossible. He told CBS’s Face the Nation on December 10, “I don’t know how you have a permanent cease-fire with Hamas, who has said before October 7 and after October 7 that they want to destroy Israel.” Such statements have been gleefully clipped and shared by the right-wing American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): 

On their face, Sanders’s comments about a cease-fire with Hamas being impossible because of its desire to destroy Israel make sense. If one doesn’t look too hard, it has the right Tough Guy War on Terror vibes. But upon further examination, what Sanders is saying is ahistorical demagoguery. Far from spurning negotiations with Hamas, Israel has entered into cease-fires with the group over a dozen times since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2006. Both sides have broken the cease-fires, but some have lasted several months or even several years. These cease-fires have historical precedent, and this is one major reason most of the human rights, medical, and humanitarian world has rallied around this demand. It’s happened many times before, and there’s a framework for it to happen again. Now, these longer-term cease-fires are not the same thing as “peace”—no indefinite military occupation and blockade can ever be the same as peace—but they are a necessary antecedent to any step toward a resolution to the conflict, no matter how far off the prospect seems right now. What comes after a cease-fire is a complex and difficult question, but “stop killing a kid every 10 minutes” ought to be a baseline demand for any positive outcome.

The reason Sanders opposes a longer cease-fire is because he explicitly supports the logic of Israel’s stated aim to overthrow Hamas. In doing so, he is advocating what is effectively a timeout so that Israel can present Congress with a more humane alternative to their current strategy of what President Joe Biden himself calls “indiscriminate bombing.” (It’s rare a sitting president casually admits he’s a party to a war crime, but we live in strange times). 

There’s only one problem with this approach: Israel has shown zero interest in executing a humane or “targeted” war, because they clearly view every person in Gaza as a legitimate target

By the way, it's only Tuesday but in the full article (not in the excerpt above), there are two sentences that I think will be a "truest" for THIRD (I'll be nominating it) so that's another reason to read the article in full -- I think it'll stand out.

In Iraq, votes are still being counted from yesterday's provincial elections.  Despite the call for a large turnout, it appears that may not have happened and the government is currently attempting to spin 40% turnout in some areas as "large."

Turning to the US, we had a lot to cover yesterday so we didn't have time for bisexual Moms For Bigotry's Bridget Ziegler and her husband Christian who is accused of rape.  Let's rectify that now.  

The Republican Party of Florida suspended Chairman Christian Ziegler and demanded his resignation during an emergency meeting Sunday, adding to calls by Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top officials for him to step down as police investigate a rape accusation against him.
Ziegler is accused of raping a woman with whom he and his wife, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, had a prior consensual sexual relationship, according to police records.

Did you want to sit in on the family conversation?  "Kids, Daddy's being asked to step down because he's accused of rape.  Meanwhile, me, your mother who won't let you say 'gay' has been sleeping with women.  I think I'm just bisexual but, who knows, I may be a lesbian."  

Sara Fillips (WFLA) adds that, if he doesn't resign, there will be an attempt to force him out of office:

There will be an emergency meeting held with the State Executive Committee on Jan. 8 to remove him from office.

“This is very sad for the Republican Party of Florida and very sad for the Republican Party of Sarasota County,” Brill said.

Brill also said Ziegler did not resign from office.

“He needs to resign, it was unanimous, every single motion today was unanimously voted on and he’s still there,” said State Representative Michelle Salzman.

Again, the family conversation between Bridget and her three daughters.  Regen asks, "Mommy, is it right for the state to try to force Daddy out?"  Bridget responds, "I don't know honey.  Was it right for Daddy to try to force himself on Mommy's female lover?"  Corbin Bolies (THE DAILY BEAST) explains, "During the meeting, which took place at Orlando’s Rosen Centre Hotel, Ziegler attempted to defend himself to the committee, according to Lee County GOP chairman Michael Thompson. His speech was followed by motions to reduce his salary to $1; strip him of his authority and powers; no longer approve expense reimbursements; and censure him, arguing Ziegler had lost the party’s confidence. All of the motions passed, and the chairperson’s powers were delegated to Vice Chair Evan Power and Treasurer Mike Moberley."

"One dollar?" Sloane asks.  "So, Mommy, I'm making more in a week with my allowance than Daddy's making in his high and mighty post?"  Bridget responds, "That's correct, honey.  And thus far, no one's accused you of rape so you're a winner there too."

Kimberly Leonard (POLITICO) notes, "Bridget Ziegler, a close DeSantis ally and a Sarasota County school board member, didn’t attend Sunday’s meeting."  In a family meeting, did Francis ask her mother, "As a 'family values' woman, Mommy, shouldn't you have stood by Daddy at the meeting?"  To which Bridget would  no doubt reply, "Honey, that's a gray area and I just don't know.  Tammy Wynette, you see, never sang about what to do when your man tries to reap your female lover."

Emily L. Mahoney (TAMPA BAY TIMES) reminds, "The alleged victim was a woman who told police that she previously had a consensual three-way sexual encounter with Ziegler and his wife, Bridget -- which prompted widespread criticism that the Zieglers’ vocal opposition to things like LGBTQ+ school lessons were hypocritical. According to a search warrant affidavit, Bridget Ziegler, who is a co-founder of the high-profile Moms for Liberty education group and a member of the Sarasota County School Board, confirmed to detectives that this threesome previously occurred."

Youth activist Zander Moricz – a 2022 LGBTQ Nation Hero of the Year – made an epic speech against Moms for Liberty co-founder and Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler in which he explained to her face why he believes she is awful at her job.

Calls for Ziegler’s resignation from the school board have mounted in the wake of rape allegations against her husband, Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler. Bridget Ziegler has since admitted that she, her husband, and her husband’s accuser engaged in a consensual threesome over a year ago. The admission angered many due to Ziegler’s vendetta against LGBTQ+ issues being taught in schools.

Wearing a sweatshirt stating, You Give Me The Ick, Moricz opened his speech by speaking directly to Bridget Ziegler and telling her their first interaction was when she retweeted a hate article about him while he was still a Sarasota County student. “You are a reminder that some people view politics as a service to others while some view it as an opportunity for themselves,” he said.

He called her out for using her position on the board to spend public funds that could have gone to raising teacher salaries to “change our district lines for political gain, remove books from schools, target trans and queer children, erase Black history, and elevate your political career – all while sending your children to private schools because you don’t believe in the public school system that you’ve been leading.”

He then posed a question to the public: Why is Ziegler’s threesome more of a scandal than the way she has used public funds to “harm our teachers and our students for her gain”?

Moricz said Zielger does not deserve to be on the school board but also does not deserve to be removed from it because of her threesome.

“That defeats the lesson we’ve been trying to teach you,” he continued, “which is that a politician’s job is to serve their community, not to police personal lives.”

He then emphasized his point once again: “Bridget, you deserve to be fired from your job because you are terrible at your job, not because you had sex with a woman.” 

The following sites updated: