First Felon Hunter Biden is back in the news. AP reports:
Hunter Biden was indicted on nine tax charges in California on Thursday as a special counsel investigation into the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son intensifies against the backdrop of the looming 2024 election.
The new charges — three felonies and six misdemeanors — are in addition to federal firearms charges in Delaware alleging Hunter Biden broke laws against drug users having guns in 2018. They come after the implosion of a plea deal over the summer that would have spared him jail time, putting the case on track to a possible trial as his father campaigns for reelection.
The latest indictment, which was filed in California, accuses Biden of failure to file and pay taxes, tax evasion, and filing a false return. The 56-page court document alleges that Biden “engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019” and that he “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills.”
And this is CNN:
The president’s son “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills,” according to the indictment, which states that “between 2016 and October 15, 2020, the Defendant spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes.”
The indictment also referenced Hunter Biden’s 2021 memoir, “Beautiful Things,” in which he detailed some of his personal struggles with addiction and substance abuse. He was paid more than $140,000 related to the book from January through October 15, 2020, according to the indictment.
Here is a video report from CBS NEWS.
I would write more but I am so tired. I almost fell asleep during the roundtable we did for the gina & krista round-robin.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used a rarely exercised power to warn the Security Council on Wednesday of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza and urged its members to demand an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.
His letter to the council’s 15 members said Gaza’s humanitarian system was at risk of collapse after two months of war that has created “appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma,” and he demanded civilians be spared greater harm.
It’s a special power, and the only independent political tool given to the secretary-general in the UN Charter. It allows him to call a meeting of the Security Council on his own initiative to issue warnings about new threats to international peace and security and matters that are not yet on the council’s agenda.
In Article 99, the charter states, “the Secretary General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.
Now Guterres will have the right to speak at the Security Council, without having to be invited to speak by a member state, as is usually the case.
Kounine sits several kilometres away from the country’s border with Israel.
Video obtained by CNN shows the aftermath of the strike, with thick black smoke billowing above the town, with people running to safety on the streets.
CNN has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for comment on the incident.
Around 83% of households in southern Gaza suffering from inadequate food consumption, according to a new report from the World Food Programme.
The organization also reported Wednesday that 97% of households in northern Gaza have inadequate food consumption.
As a result, 95% of households are adopting extreme food consumption strategies to cope with food shortages in northern Gaza, the report said, with 82% of households doing the same in southern Gaza.
- Fragments of US-made JDAM bombs found in rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli air strikes
- Attacks must be investigated as war crimes
- “US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families” – Agnès Callamard
US-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) were used by the Israeli military in two deadly, unlawful air strikes on homes full of civilians in the occupied Gaza Strip, Amnesty International has found based on a new investigation into those strikes. The organization found that these air strikes were either direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects or indiscriminate attacks and is calling for them to be investigated as war crimes.
The organization found distinctive fragments of the munition in the rubble of destroyed homes in central Gaza following two strikes that killed a total of 43 civilians – 19 children, 14 women and 10 men. In both cases, survivors told Amnesty International there had been no warning of an imminent strike.
On 10 October, an air strike on the al-Najjar family home in Deir al-Balah killed 24 people. On 22 October, an air strike on the Abu Mu’eileq family home in the same city killed 19 people. Both homes were south of Wadi Gaza, within the area where, on 13 October, the Israeli military had ordered residents of northern Gaza to relocate to.
“The fact that US-made munitions are being used by Israeli military in unlawful attacks with deadly consequences for civilians should be an urgent wake-up call to the Biden administration. The US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“Two families have been decimated in these strikes, further proof that the Israeli military is responsible for unlawfully killing and injuring civilians in its bombardment of Gaza.
“In the face of the unprecedented civilian death toll and scale of destruction in Gaza, the US and other governments must immediately stop transferring arms to Israel that more likely than not will be used to commit or heighten risks of violations of international law. To knowingly assist in violations is contrary to the obligation to ensure respect for international humanitarian law. A state that continues to supply arms being used to commit violations may share responsibility for these violations.”
In light of the evidence of war crimes and other violations, the US must follow its own laws and policies regarding the transfer and sale of arms, including its Conventional Arms Transfer Policy and Civilian Harm Incident Response Guidance, which together are meant to prevent arms transfers that risk facilitating or otherwise contributing to civilian harm and to violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.
Amnesty International did not find any indication that there were any military objectives at the sites of the two strikes or that people in the buildings were legitimate military targets, raising concerns that these strikes were direct attacks on civilians. In addition, even if the strikes – which Israel has yet to provide any information about – were intended to target military objectives, the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in such densely populated areas could make these indiscriminate attacks. As such, these attacks must be investigated as war crimes.
Amnesty International’s weapons experts and remote sensing analyst examined satellite imagery, as well as photographs taken by the organization’s fieldworkers of the destruction of the targeted sites and of fragments of ordnance recovered from the rubble. Based upon the significant damage to the target and surrounding buildings, the bomb that struck the al-Najjar family home likely weighed 2,000lb. The bomb that hit the Abu Mu’eileq family destroyed their home and likely weighed at least 1,000lb.
In both attacks, the bombs used US-manufactured JDAM kits. The photos of the metal fragments from the weapons clearly show the distinctive rivets and harness system that indicate they served as a part of the frame that surrounds the body of the bomb of a JDAM. In addition, the codes stamped on the plates from both sets of recovered scrap, 70P862352, are associated with JDAMs and Boeing, the manufacturer. Additional codes stamped on the plates indicate that the JDAM that killed members of the al-Najjar family was manufactured in 2017, while the JDAM that killed members of the Abu Mu’eileq family was manufactured in 2018.
The Israeli military onslaught in southern Gaza is causing destruction, danger, and civilian terror and suffering at such a scale that makes any humanitarian response impossible across the entire enclave, Oxfam has warned.
Marta Valdes Garcia, Oxfam humanitarian director said:
Our political leaders are failing – in abject weakness – to forge a ceasefire, which is the only possible humanitarian action that now really matters.
The systemic, militarised chaos has overwhelmed the international humanitarian system. Our governments don’t even have the smokescreen of humanitarianism to hide behind now as Israel carries out its campaign of collective punishment.
Israel’s so-called safe zones within Gaza are a mirage: unprotected, not agreed or trusted, not provisioned, and not accessible. We fear that masses of terrified people will be forced beyond Gaza itself under the guise of ‘safety’. This would force the humanitarian system into an impossible choice between helping civilians and being complicit in their forced deportation.
The terrible irony is that this militarised destruction of Gaza is literally blowing away any chance of real security for both Palestinians and Israelis alike. Gaza needs a ceasefire now and humanitarian agencies need the guarantee of safe access in order to help its people and save lives.
Oxfam staff in Gaza have seen young children asking their parents to pack their clothes into separate bags for when they are next forced to flee under fire, in case their parents are killed. People are reduced to fighting over basic necessities like food, water and fuel.
One Oxfam partner said on Thursday:
This is one of the most difficult days and wars that we have experienced. If you look anywhere around, you will find displaced people, injured people, people sleeping in the streets, and even we face many difficulties in distributing aid because there is no safe place in Gaza. Every area can be dangerous, each and every place can be bombed at any moment.
Virtually no aid is now going into Gaza. Whatever Israel might allow to trickle in is insufficient and cannot be safely distributed to civilians being forced to run for their lives, Oxfam said.
The US-Israeli propaganda machine has launched a new argument in defense of Israel’s mass slaughter in Gaza: the claim that Hamas, which carried out the October 7 cross-border strike into Israel that preceded the current war, was guilty of mass rape of Israeli women during that uprising.
That there is no direct evidence to support these allegations is irrelevant to the perpetrators and defenders of genocide in Gaza. The claim, suddenly blared out in the media, serves to distract public attention from the catastrophic escalation of Israeli military operations against the population of Gaza since the end of the limited “pause” that accompanied the exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
More than 1,000 Palestinians were killed over the weekend by Israeli bombs and missiles. Some 2 million Palestinians have been herded into a tiny corner of Gaza, itself an enclave no larger in area than the cities of Philadelphia or Detroit but with many more people. The purpose of the Israeli military operations has become increasingly clear: to drive the entire population of Gaza across the Egyptian border into the Sinai Desert, emptying Gaza and making it available for Jewish settlers.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
We begin today’s show in Gaza, as Israeli tanks are moving into the center of Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city, after days of intense shelling and airstrikes. Palestinian health officials say the death toll in Gaza has topped 16,200, including over 6,600 children. This is a resident of Khan Younis speaking after Israel bombed his home.
HAMDI TANIRA: [translated] There were 30 people inside the house. Twenty of them were children, children aged 15 days, 1 year, 3 years, 4 years. We set up a place for them to sleep throughout the bombardment. We put them to sleep. We went to sleep. All of a sudden, what happened to us, we don’t know. The fire hit us. And like you see, all of it collapsed on top of us. None of us made it out completely OK. Everybody is hurt. How and why, we don’t even understand what happened ourselves. We rushed to the hospitals to check on the children and came back this morning to check the house. Look at this. I swear, we don’t even know how we made it out alive.
AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, released a statement, saying, quote, “The pulverising of Gaza now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian population in our time and age. Each day we see more dead children and new depths of suffering for the innocent people enduring this hell,” he said.
We’re joined now by Yousef Hammash, advocacy officer in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council. He’s joining us today from Rafah.
Yousef, thanks so much for being with us. If you can start off by talking about what’s happening right now, from Khan Younis, where you were, to Rafah, where you have fled now?
YOUSEF HAMMASH: Thanks for hosting me, Amy.
Unfortunately, after seven days of the humanitarian pause, we weren’t expecting that we will see this madness getting increased. The madness is getting bigger and bigger. And directly after the humanitarian pause, the bombing started mainly in the south, and the Israeli land operation started taking place in Khan Younis, and they turned Gaza into three pieces. While it used to be cut into two parts, now it’s three parts. So we have Gaza City and the middle area and Khan Younis and Rafah.
And as the ground operation started the eastern part of Khan Younis, and they asked the residents to flee to Rafah, that’s what forced us to flee for the third time now to Rafah. And hundred thousands of people had to do this, to take this choice to flee into Rafah and to build these small tents made by wooden sticks and plastic under this harsh weather. And it became really crazy situation suddenly. And we had to witness the same as we witnessed in the northern part of Gaza when the military operation — even the war started on 12th — after the war started on 12th of October, when they asked us to flee to the south. And we didn’t have other option, and we fled to the south to Khan Younis, and now we found ourselves doing it again. Hopefully, it’s going to be the last time.
Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation is catastrophic here. People are using anyplace as a shelter. People are living on sidewalks and streets and any empty area they found. They put anything to cover their heads, and they consider it as a shelter, without any means of protection. And it’s a horrible situation that I don’t think I have the ability to describe it. If you see it by your own eyes, you will be shocked. We never witnessed such horror. And you can see it in people’s face. They are in a miserable situation that doesn’t have any option to do. All what they do is looking for their safety, fleeing from a place to another place.
AMY GOODMAN: Yousef, it’s not usual in most situations where the journalists themselves are trying to save their own families and their own lives as you report on the entire situation. If you can track your own journey with your family? I think some 60 journalists, Gazan and Palestinian journalists, about that number, have been killed in these last weeks, including the head of the Gaza journalists’ association, so many cameramen and reporters. But if you can start with your journey where you left, first north, and then going home to Jabaliya, and go from there, and why in each situation the terror and the destruction that you left behind?
YOUSEF HAMMASH: So, at the beginning of the — on 7th October, I had to flee my house, because I lived in Beit Lahia, which is more near to the border, and usually, as in our previous experience from wars and escalation, it’s the first areas to be targeted. And I thought it’s better for me to take my children and my extended family to Jabaliya camp, which is the center of the north, and convincing myself that it’s going to be a bit more safe. And since the moment that I did this decision, I left everything behind. I didn’t care what I’m going to lose. I just was — I was looking for the safety of my family. The two, three days after the war, my house was targeted, and my parents’ house was targeted, and the other house with my brother was targeted.
And on the 12th of — we had to stay in my grandparents’ house in Jabaliya. On the 12th of October, we started to receive these phone calls from Israelis and settlers just threatening us and warning us about what’s coming. And then I had to decide to flee again from Jabaliya to the south, based on what they asked us. And again, our responsibility towards our children and our extended families forced us to take these options. We fled to Khan Younis without anything, literally. We had to start our new life. And I was lucky because I have some relatives there, so I had to — I managed to find a roof to cover my head.
And I wasn’t expecting that we will live this horror again, and we had to take this option again for the third time to go to Rafah. But, unfortunately, in Rafah we don’t have that option to have a roof to cover our heads. And since two days, I’m trying, surfing around Rafah, looking for anyplace to shelter my family. And unfortunately, until now, I didn’t succeed to find a place. Today I had to go to build a tent for my family, finding a safe place, as they call it, in al-Mawasi area, that’s going to be much safe there. And we follow what’s the instruction that — what we receive. And I had to do the same as the other hundred thousands of other people in Gaza who had to take that option also. So, I had to build a tent. I don’t know how we will manage to fit in it, but this is the option that we have.
But especially the two days when the military operation started in Khan Younis, the horror that we saw from the bombardment, the nonstopping bombardment — I was calculating for the timing between each missile was eight seconds, imagining we were living in an earthquake, Amy. And that’s what’s, again, always putting us in a situation in front of our children that we are useless to protect them. We cannot even provide protection for our children and our — my sisters, for example. I felt very useless in front of them because I cannot do anything for them. So we had to take that option, convincing ourselves again that we will be safe. I am pretty sure there is no place safe in Gaza. But we’ll do as much as — I will take whatever it takes. I will do it to protect my family.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, you’re not a journalist. You’re an aid worker. You are an advocacy officer in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council. But your descriptions of what is happening there are so critical. How do you do your work and the other 50 or so Norwegian Refugee Council workers do their work in Gaza as they’re being forced to flee? And are you trying to get now over the border from Rafah into Egypt?
YOUSEF HAMMASH: Yeah, Amy, we are trying to do our best, because this is our role, and this is why we are here. But, unfortunately, we are in the same situation like everyone is here. During the humanitarian pause, we were assessing the situation, trying to do distribution plan, because we are trying to help as much as we can people in need. The majority of — the entire population in Gaza are in need. So, you have to understand the situation in general. Half of the population before 7th October was relying on humanitarian aid. Imagining adding this catastrophic situation to the need of people. The entire population in Gaza is in need. And if you combine us all as humanitarian actors, we cannot cover the need that we are having here.
We used these seven days to manage to have our trucks entered through Rafah and to do our distribution plan and trying to assist as much as we can. But then we found ourselves in the circle of violence again. And unfortunately, even in front of the situation now, we are useless. We cannot protect ourselves even as humanitarian workers. There is no protection for any of us. We are all in Gaza under the same circumstances. We are trying, but the situation is preventing us. And trust me, many of my colleagues are — had to sleep in the streets —
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what —
YOUSEF HAMMASH: Sorry. Go ahead, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what kind of aid is getting through and isn’t getting through, and what it means when you have something like 1.8 million, 1.9 million Palestinians, out of — what? — 2.3 million, who are on the run, who are internally displaced?
YOUSEF HAMMASH: Honestly, Amy, what all of us as humanitarian actors can do is like a drop in the ocean of needs here. And we keep asking for allowing more and more trucks of aid to enter, but it’s too political, and everyone understands the situation now. They allow only — there is not even an accurate number for how many trucks per day we can get through Rafah. It’s too political situation, what’s bringing us to understand it. Trust me, in the past few days, we were chasing our trucks. We were trying to find solution how to get it through Rafah, manage — store it in some place, then trying to distribute it as fast as we can, because we understand it’s nothing comparing to the need. So we are trying to do our best. Even if it was few people that we can assist and help, it is something. But even to reach that small something is not easy. It’s almost impossible because of the situation that we are living in. The amount of aid that’s coming to Gaza is literally —
AMY GOODMAN: Yousef Hammash —
YOUSEF HAMMASH: — not tangible and is not affecting the need. It’s not really affecting the amount of need that we are having in Gaza.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much for being with us, Yousef Hammash, advocacy officer in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council. He fled Khan Younis earlier this week, joining us now from Rafah. He was in Beit Lahia originally, fled to the Jabaliya refugee camp, then to Khan Younis, then to Rafah near the border crossing with Egypt.
Audio of the meeting between the former hostages, relatives of some still being held, and Israel’s war cabinet on Tuesday was leaked, with parts of it published on Israeli news site ynet.
It comes amid building pressure on Netanyahu to secure the release of the remaining captives, and scrutiny of Israel’s intensifying military campaign in Gaza.
Ynet also reported that Netanyahu’s efforts to respond to the hostages and relatives were met with tense and angry remarks.
A female abductee freed with her children – but without her husband, who remains in captivity – is heard on one recording saying: “The feeling we had there was that no one was doing anything for us. The fact is that I was in a hiding place that was shelled and we had to be smuggled out and we were wounded. That’s besides the helicopter that shot at us on the way to Gaza.”
"Of course, there is a place for everyone, regardless of gender identity, regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of race, or what sports you play. There's a place for everyone to play sports in this country," Gaines said
"But unsafe, unfair, and discriminatory practices towards women must stop. Inclusion cannot be prioritized over safety and fairness, and ranking member Lee, if my testimony makes me transphobic then I believe your opening monologue makes you a misogynist," she added.
Saturday, Molly Sprayregen (LGBTQ NATION) reported:
Trans high school student Tristan Young has received an onslaught right-wing backlash after her peers at Kansas’s Oak Park High School voted to crown her homecoming queen.But Young won’t let the bigotry bring her down. She told The Kansas City Star that she’s not the kind of person to let people shut her down.
“I like to stay strong. I don’t really buckle unless something is really wrong. Right now, what’s happening is people are trying to turn a joyous thing into something that I should regret. But it’s going to stay a joyous thing.”
“Jesus says ‘Love thy neighbor.’ Love everyone as they are,” she added. “This is who I am… I’m proud of who I am. You can tear me down all you want. I’m not going to give back the crown.”
For Young, the good outweighs the bad, and so it’s not worth harping on the haters.
What am I missing? Bridget Ziegler should stay away from our kids and resign already!
That also goes for Ziegler’s position on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board the governor created to oversee governance of Walt Disney World. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed her. Let’s see what he does.
Her husband, Christian Ziegler, chair of the Florida Republican Party, is accused of sexual assault.
“Its not sustainable,” said Edwards.
Edwards explained he is on the board to focus on student and academic achievement. He explained Ziegler has always been a distraction to the school board and the allegations against Christian is just the latest one.
“I am not there to discuss the salaciousness of the Zieglers’ escapades. I am focused on other things, and I think our community wants us to be focused on other things. It’s obvious as long as she is on the school board, she will be a distraction,” said Edwards.
Lisa Schurr, one of the co-founders for Support Our Schools, said Ziegler owes it to the public to resign with a full apology. Schur said Ziegler is a hypocrite.
“She’s vilified the LGBTQ community, while at the same time having a sexual relationship with her husband and another woman. We don’t care who she has sexual relationships with. She’s a grown adult. The issue is, you can’t have a bisexual relationship and at the same time vilify the LGBTQ community,” said Schurr.
I’m late to the game on this one, but I simply couldn’t let pass without comment the last Sarasota County School Board meeting, during which a majority of the board members voted to eliminate the district’s Character Strong program while at the same time condoning a public character assassination of Tom Edwards, the one board member who dissented in that opinion.
Perhaps you read about the personal attack on Edwards by Melissa Bakondy, a former member of the conservative Moms for Liberty group and a regular meeting attendee who in the past fought student masking during COVID and applauded the firing of former Superintendent Brennan Asplen.
Bakondy used her three minutes of public comment to deliver a homophobic tirade against Edwards that stopped just short of suggesting he was a pedophile and called on the board and Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove him as a “threat to the innocence of our children” and a “lawbreaker.” (DeSantis encouraged this by recently issuing a hit list of “woke” school board members statewide he wants out, including Edwards.)
The rant, bad enough in itself, was accentuated by Chair Bridget Ziegler’s refusal to interrupt it and her belated and cursory apology to Edwards, which focused more on her own discomfort than the offense given to him.