Saturday, December 16, 2023

Oh, by admitting to their crimes, they are apparently doing us a favor

Once upon a time, we expected criminals to show remorse -- especially when they were throwing themselves on the mercy of the court.  Those days are apparently long gone.  

The apology letters that Donald Trump-allied lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro were required to write as a condition of their plea deals in the Georgia election interference case are just one sentence long.

The letters, obtained Thursday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request, were hand-written and terse. Neither letter acknowledges the legitimacy of Democrat Joe Biden's win in Georgia’s 2020 election nor denounces the baseless conspiracy theories they pushed to claim Trump was cheated out of victory through fraud.

“I apologize for my actions in connection with the events in Coffee County,” Powell wrote in a letter dated Oct. 19, the same day she pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors accusing her of conspiring to intentionally interfere with the performance of election duties.

“I apologize to the citizens of the state of Georgia and of Fulton County for my involvement in Count 15 of the indictment,” Chesebro wrote in a letter dated Oct. 20, when he appeared in court to plead guilty to one felony charge of conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

BUSINESS INSIDER points out, "Powell pled guilty to six charges in the election interference case. Days after she submitted her apology and guilty plea, the attorney continued to push unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was rigged."

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

Friday, December 15, 2023.  There is no end in sight for the continued assault on Gaza, Butcher Biden continues to stand for War Crimes, in non-Gaza news the hate merchant Bridget continues to be a well deserved laughingstock, and much more.

"Intense" -- in all its forms -- is the word today when you scan through press reports.  Two examples, REUTERS serves up "White House in 'intensive' talks with Israel on next phase of Gaza war, aide says" and MIDDLE EAST MONITOR offers "Report: Israel sets end of January to end 'intense phase' of Gaza war."  End of January?  Gaza has over 83% of its population displaced.  It's not even January.  The residents are supposed to endure this brutal assault for at least six more weeks?  That's outrageous.  And so is the White House and its weak ass position.  Their cheap talk -- "intensive" or not -- is worthless.  People are dying.  Children are dying. Butcher Biden is complicit in this assault.  Butcher Biden's been pimping for this assault since the beginning.  Yesterday, Jeremy Scahill (INTERCEPT) noted:

On October 11, four days after the Hamas-led attacks in Israel, President Joe Biden addressed a group of Jewish community leaders in the Indian Treaty Room of the Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. “I’ve been doing this a long time,” Biden said. “I never really thought that I would see and have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.”

It was a jarring statement. And it was false.

Biden had seen no such pictures, nor received any such confirmation. He made those comments after Nicole Zedeck, a journalist for Israel’s i24 News, reported that 40 babies had been decapitated, citing Israeli soldiers at the scene of the attacks at Kfar Aza. A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu subsequently stated that babies and toddlers had been found with their “heads decapitated.”

Three hours later, Biden promoted the claim to the world and asserted he personally saw pictures of the horrifying scene, giving the story supreme legitimacy.

[. . .]
Biden has never publicly retracted the incendiary claims. And the Washington Post reported that the president had been urged by staffers not to make that allegation in his speech on October 11, “because those reports were unverified.”

Lies have promoted this assault and prolonged it and it's not Joe Biden suffering, it's the residents of Gaza.   DEUTSCHE WELLE reports

There is a level of acceptance that the people of Gaza will be "left to starve or even probably die of starvation," Ahmed Bayram, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Refugee Council, told DW on Friday.

"This has to stop," he said, sharing his concern that there is still no sign of a new cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Bayram said only two aid trucks entered Gaza during the previous day (Thursday), which is "nowhere near enough to cover the immense needs on the ground."

Giving an example of how Gaza's infrastructure has collapsed due to the assault by Israel, Bayram noted how just one day of rain had made a desperate situation worse.

"One day of rains in Gaza and the streets turned into a quagmire. Ambulance crews couldn't access people stuck under the rubble. Imagine being stuck under the rubble and there's flooding all over. No one can reach you," he said.

Bayram said the conflict between Israel and Hamas is taking Gaza back not decades but centuries.

Around the world, people protest this continued assault, these War Crimes.  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

 On the eighth night of Hanukkah, Jewish activists and allies took to the streets of eight U.S. cities on Thursday to demand an end to the bloodshed in Gaza, blocking traffic on bridges and highways in a show of opposition to the Biden administration's continued support for the Israeli military's atrocities.

"It is horrifying to watch the U.S. government fully fund the Israeli government's relentless bombing campaign and the destruction of the people of Gaza," said Sara Bollag of the Washington, D.C. chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which helped organize the protests in Seattle; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Minneapolis; and Atlanta.

"I am here, as the great-granddaughter of a victim of the Holocaust, doing everything in my power to stop another genocide unfolding before our eyes," Bollag added.

In the nation's capital, demonstrators holding signs that read "Cease-Fire Now" and "Never Again for Anyone" and singing Hanukkah prayers shut down an overpass. 

When does it end?  When does Joe Biden demand that it in?  When does Joe Biden stop supplying the weapons used to carry out this assault?

This morning, ALJAZEERA reports, "A photojournalist is severely beaten by an Israeli soldier in occupied East Jerusalem after worshippers were denied entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque."  This is insanity.  Every day, we see something take place that shouldn't be happening, that we can't believe is happening.  And every day it gets worse.  This is outrageous.  In another report, ALJAZEERA provides more details on the attack:

Turkish television has broadcast footage of the attack on Anadolu Agency photographer Mustafa al-Kharouf in the Wadi al-Joz neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem after worshippers were denied entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In the video aired by CNN Turk, an Israeli army officer is seen hitting the photographer with his personal weapon before a second one grabs him by the neck and pushes him to the ground. Al-Kharouf is then violently kicked in the head while he is down.

Reporters Without Borders has released (PDF format warning) "2023 Round-Up: Journalists Killed, Detained, Held Hostage and Missing."  The good news?  "According to the annual round-up compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the number of journalists killed worldwide in connection with their work (45 as of 1 December 2023) is the lowest since 2002, despite the war in the Middle East."  And the bad?  "In Gaza, at least 13 journalists have been killed because of their work as journalists since the war began between Israel and Hamas, a total that rises to 56 if we include all journalists killed in the Gaza Strip, whether or not in the line of their work."   From the report:

War zones: grim toll of journalists killed in Gaza in 2023 
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, in just two months, 17 journalists have lost their lives in the exercise of their duties in Gaza (13), Lebanon (3) and Israel (1), a toll that brings to 23 the number of journalists killed in war zones this year, versus 20 in 2022. Journalists have also died while covering armed clashes in northern Cameroon, northern Mali, Sudan, Syria and Ukraine.

Journalists are being killed in Gaza by Israeli forces.  December 7th, Human Rights Watch issued a report with the following bullet points:

  • Two Israeli strikes on a group of Lebanese, American, and Iraqi journalists in south Lebanon on October 13, 2023, were apparently deliberate attacks on civilians, which is a war crime.
  • Evidence indicates that the Israeli military knew or should have known that the group of people they were firing on were civilians.
  • Israel's key allies – the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany – should suspend military assistance and arms sales to Israel, given the risk they will be used for grave abuses.

AMY GOODMAN: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are calling for Israel to be investigated for committing war crimes for targeting journalists. The groups have both called for an official investigation into an October 13th Israeli tank strike that killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah while he was reporting in southern Lebanon with a group of six other journalists. One of the journalists who survived the attack, Christina Assi of Agence France-Presse, AFP, had to have her leg amputated. She’s still hospitalized. Human Rights Watch said it, quote, “found no evidence of a military target near the journalists’ location,” unquote. Reuters also conducted its own investigation and concluded that Issam Abdallah was killed by an Israeli tank shell.

This is an excerpt of a short video report produced by Agence France-Presse. It includes interviews with AFP reporters Christina Assi, in her hospital bed, and Dylan Collins.

ALESSANDRA GALLONI: Reuters video journalist Issam Abdallah was killed on Friday, October 13th, when a shell hit him.

NARRATOR: Six other journalists are wounded. Among them, AFP photographer Christina Assi, who suffers serious injuries, later needing an amputation of her right leg.

CHRISTINA ASSI: Everything gets white, and I lose sensation in my leg.

DYLAN COLLINS: I saw Christina on the ground, and I immediately ran to her, and we were hit the second time.

CHRISTINA ASSI: There was no Hamas around us, no Hezbollah around us.

DYLAN COLLINS: Seven journalists wearing flak jackets, wearing helmets, everyone with “press” written on their chest, there’s no way they didn’t know that we were press.

CHRISTINA ASSI: And we were attacked by Israel twice, not once.

AMY GOODMAN: That was AFP reporter Christina Assi, who lost her leg after being hit by an Israeli tank shell October 13th in the same attack that killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah. And this is an excerpt from a video made by Amnesty International documenting how it determined that Issam Abdallah was killed by an Israeli tank shell.

MARIJA RISTIC: In many cases when we work on conflicts, the weapon can directly lead us to perpetrators. This is the key piece of evidence. My colleague, who’s our weapons analyst, knew immediately what this weapon is.

AYA MAJZOUB: It was a 120-millimeter tank round. And that confirmed that it was the Israeli military that fired on the journalists, because Hezbollah and the armed groups in south Lebanon don’t use those kinds of weapons.

MARIJA RISTIC: And more importantly, we did identify this weapon before being used by the Israeli forces in the context of different strikes on Gaza. So this is at least the third time where we are able to link this type of weapon with the Israeli forces.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of a video by Amnesty International.

We’re joined now by Maya Gebeily. She is the Reuters bureau chief for Lebanon. She co-wrote the new Reuters special report, “Israeli tank fire killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah in Lebanon.”

Maya, welcome to Democracy Now! Our condolences to you and your colleagues on the loss of Issam. If you can talk about what exactly you found? Talk about that day, as we just heard these other reporters who survived the attack, one having lost her leg, discussing.

MAYA GEBEILY: Thank you, Amy, for having us on. And, of course, Issam’s loss is one that we continue to feel every single day in the Reuters bureau and across the media, the media teams across Lebanon.

That day, I mean, ironically and very sadly, it was Friday the 13th. And Issam had been in the south covering Israeli shelling on Lebanese territory for a few days by that point. And he’s a very seasoned journalist. So, as you have reported yourself, as well, on this show in the past, Issam had a lot of conflict experience. He did everything right, along with the colleagues with whom he was, on that day. They were wearing press helmets. They were wearing vests that had “press” written on them. They were in an open area in which they could be clearly identified by all of the, obviously, the Israeli drone activity above, the Israeli helicopter activity around them, that they could be clearly identified as press.

And that evening — it was really as the sun was setting — that team of journalists — there were seven of them there in total on that hilltop — were hit twice, 37 seconds apart, first by an Israeli tank shell that hit Issam and killed Issam immediately, and 37 seconds later by another tank shell that hit the vehicle that had been driven by the two Al Jazeera journalists that were also going live from that location. And really, it was the experts that we spoke to at the end of our investigation, after presenting them with the evidence that we had gathered, you know, noting that there were two strikes in such quick succession at a team of journalists that could be so clearly identified, that warrants, you know, calling this a violation of international humanitarian law and possibly amounting to a war crime.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about this. I mean, you’ve got Al Jazeera. You’ve got AFP, Agence France-Presse. You’ve got Reuters. Issam had just set up, what, like an hour before, this live feed, that people all over the world were watching. I talked to another Reuters journalist who said he was watching, and suddenly just this strike, trying to figure out what had taken place. So, in a sense, he actually filmed his own death, Issam.

MAYA GEBEILY: Yes. And I think that is the ultimate kind of — you know, he was really bearing witness everything that was happening in southern Lebanon. And Issam himself is from southern Lebanon. So, you know, it is such a testament to the power of his work and of his job that really it was him and the feeds of other journalists that were there in the area that provided such an important piece of evidence for us as we were investigating exactly what happened. I mean, in the immediate aftermath, you know, we were gathering the footage from different journalists who were there. We were also gathering what Issam had filmed himself on his camera and on his phone. And it was so difficult to go through that, that evidence, knowing that he had really documented such important evidence of what had taken place that day.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about the tank shell — the two tank shells that injured and killed the journalists, and how you were able to identify them? We just heard clips from Amnesty and AFP.

MAYA GEBEILY: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: And how precise they were, as opposed to a dumb bomb that’s being used, for example, in Gaza in almost half the cases?

MAYA GEBEILY: Absolutely. So, what we did in the immediate aftermath — the attack was on a Friday. By Sunday, we were trying to gain access to the site where Issam was killed. There was ongoing shelling in the area, so it was very difficult for us to be able to go in and to collect evidence, but we were able to get to the site and to spend a few minutes there, essentially just picking up what we thought could be shrapnel, so that we could get it tested. We, later on, then also obtained another — the tail fin, which is the biggest piece of evidence that we had. And these were taken to a lab in The Hague. We had other analysts looking at them at the same time visually and being able to kind of identify the features of these different bits of shrapnel visually to tell us what they think it might be. The lab was able to test them from a chemical perspective, to test, you know, what chemical components were there.

And these independent analytical processes came to the same conclusion, which is that this is an Israeli-made tank, as you noted in the introduction, as well. It’s made by an Israeli weapons manufacturer. And it is fired from a weapon system that’s on top of the Merkava tank. And so that was really the conclusive kind of evidence, in addition to geolocation of the exact firing location from where these shells were fired, that could allow us to conclusively say that this was an Israeli tank using an Israeli weapon system, fired from an Israeli location, that hit those journalists on that day.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the drones? One of the things the reporters described — well, they say there wasn’t gunfire; they weren’t, like, caught in the crossfire at that point; it was quiet — that there were drones. They were all wearing their press gear. You know, you could see “P-R-E-S-S.” They said I’m sure that they could see their faces that closely. Talk about the level of Israeli surveillance there.

MAYA GEBEILY: It’s a really important point, and not one that should be overlooked. Again, these journalists did everything right. In the interviews that we conducted, as well, with our own teams that were there — Thaer Al-Sudani, Reuters photographer; Maher Nazeh, Reuters video journalist, who were also wounded on that day — they said, “We chose that location specifically — not just because we had a clear view of the border area which we wanted to be filming, but also because there were different positions along the border that had a clear view of us. And so nobody could then accuse us of embedding with armed groups, doing something suspicious, you know, hiding behind a line of trees, anything like that. We were clearly visible from all sides.” And that was one of the key reasons they chose that location. So, that’s the kind of 360 on the ground.

But in all of the footage that we reviewed and in the eyewitness statements that we gathered, as well, from that day, everybody — everybody — could mention and remembered hearing the sound of Israeli drones, surveillance drones, overhead. That sound really has not left southern Lebanon over the past two months almost. There have been brief respites, but the residents of southern Lebanon are very, very accustomed to hearing that sound, hearing the sound of surveillance drones above. And so, what that tells us is, again, Israel had such a clear view of the journalists, either from the air or from the different surveillance points that they have along the border. And, you know, Merkava tanks, as well, have a very, very — have a very long distance at which they can see quite clearly through the scope. I believe it’s up to nine kilometers, if I’m not mistaken. But either way, those journalists were about 1.3 kilometers from the border. They were clearly within the visible range that you could have from that scope.

AMY GOODMAN: They had such a view of the area in three directions. I mean, this is a controversial question. Do you think Israel did not want them there? And what have they said? I mean, right afterwards, when there was tremendous outcry, they said they would look into it. They said they were sorry it happened. They didn’t take responsibility. What about now that the Reuters report is out, the Amnesty report is out, the Agence France-Presse report is out?

MAYA GEBEILY: We, at various points, Reuters, from the very first moment, you know, from that night of Friday, October 13th, sought more details and more information from the Israeli military. So, at various points, Reuters has gone back to the Israeli military and asked them, “Can you give us more information about what happened on that day? Can you tell us whether it was you that targeted them? If so, what were they suspected of doing, or what was the reasoning?” And we’ve gotten very little information. I mean, the IDF has told us, just in response to our findings, that they do not target journalists. And we have gotten nowhere else beyond that.

I mean, they have repeatedly said, obviously, when it comes to southern Lebanon, that this is a conflict area, that there is kind of crossfire happening all the time, that it’s very dangerous. But I think it’s really important to remember, again, that these journalists were not embedded with any armed actors. They were there on that hilltop, very, very far away, as Amnesty has really kind of meticulously laid out in its report, as well, and as the eyewitnesses told us, very far away from any armed activities and from any crossfire. It’s not like they were caught up between two sides shooting at each other. It was a very quiet day, and they were filming shelling at a distance.

And it’s important to note here, as well, that after our investigation was published, Reuters editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni has escalated her calls to Israel, not just to carry out an investigation, but to carry out a criminal investigation and to determine who exactly was responsible for those two strikes. And, you know, that really goes to show that there’s something criminal that took place on that day.

AMY GOODMAN: According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 63 journalists and media workers have been killed since October 7th, including 56 Palestinian, four Israeli and three Lebanese journalists. Authorities in Gaza put the death toll higher, saying 86 Palestinian media workers have been killed in Gaza since October 7th, the Hamas attack. The Committee to Protect Journalists says no other war has taken so many journalist lives in such a short time span, this according to CPJ data that’s been gathered since 1992. Your final comments? And as we wrap up, Maya, you didn’t just do an investigation of people you didn’t know. You knew Issam Abdallah well. This is a close-knit community. And it goes beyond Reuters, journalists dealing with this all over the world, how many journalists are dying right now in Gaza and southern Lebanon. What do you want us to remember about Issam?

MAYA GEBEILY: Issam was someone who did everything with a lot of passion and integrity. And as we were carrying out this investigation, you know, I was trying to do it in the same way, just to carry — you know, to leave no stone unturned, to do this as right as we possibly could and go as far as we possibly can with that investigation. And even journalists within Reuters who never met Issam were so moved by learning about him as they worked on this investigation, in the way that he did his job, the care with which he approached every interview subject. He treated everybody with so much humanity and with so much love. He was really a model for us in the Beirut bureau, for people who had been journalists even for longer than him and for people who were just starting out. He just took the time to teach everyone, to teach our interns, to teach everybody who was in the office how to look for a story, how to do a story justice. And I think that’s something that — you know, we’re all trying to carry that with us every single day as we try to pick up the pieces in the office and keep covering what is continuing to be, you know, a very active and bloody conflict around the region.

AMY GOODMAN: I encourage people to go to our interview with Lama Al-Arian, who was a dear friend of Issam in Lebanon. She works with Vice News. Maya Gebeily, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Reuters bureau chief for Lebanon, co-wrote the new Reuters special report, “Israeli tank fire killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah in Lebanon.”

Coming up, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept on what he describes as the joint U.S.-Israel military operation in Gaza. And then we’ll speak with one of the three Palestinian students, this one who attends Haverford College, and talk about what’s happening on campus and that night, Thanksgiving, when he and his two dear friends from Ramallah were shot in Vermont. Stay with us.

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, "More than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed, with 70% of them women and children, according to the territory's health officials. The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  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."

As this assault takes place, the Israeli government attempts to prevent the press from entering Gaza -- to hide what's actually going on.  CNN notes, "CNN was able to make a brief visit to Gaza this week — the first Western media outlet to report independently from the southern part of the enclave. The horror of modern warfare was visible in the streets strewn with trash and rubble from destroyed buildings. Despite the heavy bombardment, people wandered around outside like zombies — perhaps trying to fathom their lives, perhaps with nothing else to do. In the field hospital, 8-year-old Jinan Sahar Mughari was immobilized in a full-body cast. In another room, 20-month-old Amir Taha was too young to understand he was now an orphan."  Here's a video of CNN's Clarissa Ward reporting more on what she's seen in Gaza.

We noted Jeremy Scahill at the top of the snapshot.  He was a guest on yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

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

The United States is becoming increasingly isolated as it continues to oppose calls for a Gaza ceasefire while sending more munitions to Israel. On Tuesday, the United States was one of just 10 nations to vote against a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for a ceasefire. That vote came four days after the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution for a ceasefire. This comes as the Biden administration has bypassed Congress to approve the sale of 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel, the sale valued at more than $106 million.

We’re joined now by the award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept. His new piece is just out this morning, headlined “Joe Biden Keeps Repeating His False Claim That He Saw Pictures of Beheaded Babies.” But we’re going to begin with your piece just before that, headlined “This Is Not a War Against Hamas.”

Jeremy, you write, “The events of the past week should obliterate any doubt that the war against the Palestinians of Gaza is a joint U.S.-Israeli operation.” Take it from there.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, of course, it’s no secret that for many decades the United States has showered Israel with not just military and intelligence support, but, crucially, political and, I guess you could say, moral cover for the amoral, immoral activities that Israel engages in as it operates its apartheid state in the West Bank and its repeated attacks against the people of Gaza. And, you know, when we want to talk about Hamas and we want to talk about threats that Israel faces, that it says it faces from Gaza, we have to understand that this didn’t begin on October 7th. Yes, the events of October 7th were horrifying, and the facts as they exist, as we know them, are bad enough. And to have Joe Biden repeatedly making comments that are based on completely fictitious photos that he claims to have saw of, you know, 40 babies being beheaded, then we understand that this is part of a propaganda campaign aimed at dehumanizing the population of Gaza and implying very strongly — well, actually, Joe Biden has said that Israel is waging a war against animals. This is all part of a dehumanization campaign, and Joe Biden has elevated some of the most obscene lies that have been told about — not just about Palestinian people, in general, but even about what Hamas did on October 7th. What we know is true is already horrifying enough, so I don’t know what the motive is for Biden to continuously say this.

But to directly answer your question about it being a joint U.S. military operation, for decades the U.S. has done this, but in this particular war, on October 9th, you had the defense secretary, the defense minister of Israel, Yoav Gallant, say that there is going to be — that he had ordered a complete siege of the Gaza Strip. He said, “There will be no electricity. There will be no food, no fuel.” I’m quoting. “Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.” This is a genocidal phrase from the minister of defense of the Israeli armed forces on October 9th. At that moment, the United States should have hit pause immediately on any support for Israel and said, “We want to clarify that this is not going to be a war waged against a civilian population.” Not only did the Biden administration not do that, they continued to offer political cover and rushing weapons there and giving support to the most pernicious lies that Israel was telling.

And what we saw in the past days is that on the day that the United States stands alone in the world and vetoes the extraordinary session of United Nations Security Council calling for a humanitarian ceasefire, Antony Blinken informs the Pentagon and Congress that he was circumventing congressional review processes to rush through 13,000 additional tank rounds that are part of a package of 45,000 rounds that the U.S. is slated to give Israel. While he’s doing that, he is in the middle of a PR tour around the world saying the United States cares about Palestinian civilians, cares about Palestinian lives, wants to make sure that innocent people are not being killed. So, you can take the words of the administration, on the one hand, where they portray themselves almost like a kind of friend trying to talk tough to another friend who’s doing something really wrong, and, on the other hand, you can look at their actions, which is full support for a scorched-earth campaign that has killed more than 18,000 people, 7,000 of whom are children, targets being — hospitals being targeted and bombed, children being massacred, sadistic videos emerging of IDF soldiers not just killing and mutilating Palestinian bodies, but also creating propaganda films, like we saw with the stripped-down prisoners.

And one, in particular, Amy, one of the famous incidents that occurred here, is that Israeli forces gathered together dozens of men, stripped them to their underwear, and then, bizarrely, filmed them laying down guns. These are almost completely naked men that somehow still have guns in their hands. And then they filmed them putting them down. And the man who was the main person that they filmed placing a rifle down has been identified as a civilian, not a member of Hamas. But in the video, too, there’s edits where in one cut he has the rifle in his right hand, in the other cut he has the rifle in his left hand. What is clear here is that Israel made a totally sick and twisted propaganda video where they forced Palestinian men at gunpoint to be actors in this propaganda film playing armed Hamas members.

The Biden administration is completely complicit in this. Joe Biden is co-signing pernicious lies about the people of Gaza. He is distorting the already devastating and horrifying facts of October 7th. And he’s keeping the spigot of military and intelligence support open for the Israelis. And by the way, the recent reporting — and you had the author of this on — from +972 Magazine in Israel that talked about “The Gospel,” this AI-fueled assassination program in Israel, and that they sometimes will kill hundreds of Palestinian civilians in pursuit of one alleged Hamas member, much of the intelligence that is being fed to the Israelis is coming from the United States to be used to wage this war. So, yes, this is a joint U.S. operation militarily and politically.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a recent White House press briefing, National Security Council coordinator Admiral John Kirby claiming the U.S. was doing more than any other nation to alleviate suffering in Gaza.

JOHN KIRBY: Tell me, name me one more nation, any other nation, that’s doing as much as the United States to alleviate the pain and suffering of the people of Gaza. You can’t. You just can’t. … And name another nation that is doing more to urge the Israeli counterparts, our Israeli counterparts, to be as cautious and deliberate as they can be in the prosecution of their military operations. You can’t.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s John Kirby. Jeremy, your response?

JEREMY SCAHILL: OK. First of all, the United States has supplied an unending quantity of gasoline for Israel to pour on the fire that it has started in Gaza. It is an absolute obscenity for John Kirby to stand in front of the world and make such an audacious claim that the United States is doing more to help the Palestinian civilians than any other nation on Earth.

But I’ll give you a concrete list of some nation-states that are doing more than the United States. Ireland, which has opposed this from the beginning, has rightly termed what Israel is doing what it is. The government of Spain. The government of Belgium even has spoken out more forcefully than the United States. All of the nations that voted in the General Assembly for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and the United States and only none other countries voted on Israel’s side, all of those nations are doing more than the United States to try to help the Palestinian people.

You know, you can send Samantha Power on a propaganda visit to bring 36,000 pounds of aid and have all the cameras around filming her talking about it, while at the same time you’re giving Israel 2,000-pound bombs, you’re giving them intelligence used for their scorched-earth campaign, you’re circumventing congressional processes to rush them new tank rounds. No, this is utterly obscene. And John Kirby should be entirely ashamed of himself for his conduct during this entire thing, Amy. The entire thing. John Kirby has been one of the most vicious propagandists for the worst excesses in crimes of the U.S.-backed Israeli scorched-earth campaign in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about a New York Times exposé that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. Israel just canceled a planned trip to Qatar by the head of Mossad to resume hostage negotiations. Well, that’s the latest news. His name is David Barnea. But this comes as the Times has published an exposé headlined “'Buying Quiet': Inside the Israeli Plan That Propped Up Hamas.” It’s about Israel secretly sending billions of dollars to Hamas over roughly a decade. The piece begins, quote, “Just weeks before Hamas launched the deadly Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the head of Mossad arrived in Doha, Qatar, for a meeting with Qatari officials. For years, the Qatari government had been sending millions of dollars a month into the Gaza Strip — money that helped prop up the Hamas government there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel not only tolerated those payments, he [had] encouraged them.” And when the Qatari officials asked David Barnea, the head of Mossad, “Should we stop this?” he said, “No.” Jeremy Scahill, your response?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, what we know is, at least going back to 2012, Netanyahu has embraced this strategy that Hamas should be propped up in Gaza — it probably goes back much before that, but if we want to talk about concrete, provable facts. And in 2019, there’s a quote where Netanyahu is addressing his comrades in the Likud party. This is in 2019, and he said the following, quote, “Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas.”

So, what’s going on here? Well, Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want an Israeli [sic] state, and he wants to make sure that no alternative voices —

AMY GOODMAN: A Palestinian state, doesn’t want it.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Sorry, doesn’t want — yes. Well, he also seems to be working very hard in that regard, too, because he’s making it less safe in the world for Jewish people by his actions, and he is — you know, if you read the Israeli press, there’s an increasing amount of criticism that what Netanyahu is doing is actually going to make the citizens of Israel less safe in the world, not more safe.

But what Netanyahu wants to do is make sure that no political forces rise in Gaza or elsewhere in Palestine that can garner more support from the world in pursuit of being recognized as human beings, being recognized as a fully independent nation. And so, of course he wants to keep the money flowing to Hamas. It’s very good for his business, for his agenda. It’s also very good for both the United States and the Israeli war agenda and war industries.

But the other part of this, Amy, is, when we talk about groups like Hamas, beyond the fact that there’s a documented history of Netanyahu, for his own reasons, supporting the flow of money and the grip on power of Hamas, you also have the reality that for 75 years Israel has operated a murderous campaign against the Palestinian people aimed at making sure they will never get an independent homeland. And when you do things, as occurred in 2018 and 2019, like gunning down, repeatedly gunning down, nonviolent protesters who participated in the weekly Friday marches on the Great March of Return, and you had a Haaretz exposé where IDF soldiers confessed that they were in a competition to see how many kneecaps they could shoot of these nonviolent protesters, it’s sickening. When you see how Palestinians are treated when they do what the world or what others say they should do — “Oh, protest nonviolently. Don’t take up arms” — they’re gunned down by Netanyahu’s forces. So, why is there a group like Hamas? Why was there a group like the African National Congress? Why was there a group like the Irish Republican Army? Why would people support vicious entities like Hamas? Well, because they’ve been stripped of every possible other means of resistance by their occupiers, by settler colonialist powers. So, if we want to talk about why is there a Hamas, part of it is people like Netanyahu, and Netanyahu personally supporting the rise of Hamas and sustaining Hamas. And the other part of it is 75 years of history of constantly massacring Palestinians and showing them that nonviolent protest also will not be tolerated.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, we just have a minute, but I want to go to your new piece, out today, headlined “Joe Biden Keeps Repeating His False Claim That He Saw Pictures of Beheaded Babies.” I want to go back to President Biden, October 11th, four days after October 7th, when Hamas attacked Israel, when he was speaking to a group of Jewish community leaders.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I mean, I have been doing this a long time. I never really thought that I would see, have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children. I never thought I’d ever — anyway.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s President Biden. The White House was forced to walk this back somewhat. But explain what he’s talking about.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, in the immediate aftermath of the Hamas-led attacks on October 7th, when journalists — and at first it was primarily Israeli journalists — went to the scene of some of the kibbutzes where the massacres had taken place, they began to hear stories from Israeli soldiers that there were decapitated babies and babies who were burned alive. And so, i24NEWS in Israel, one of their reporters, we believe, was the first to report this and said that it was based on what Israeli soldiers had told her. And then that starts to spread like wildfire. CNN then picks up the report. CBS also did a report promoting the claim that there were beheaded babies. And then, as much more attention starts getting drawn to it, people start asking the Israeli government, and Netanyahu’s spokesperson then confirms that this happened.

And then, a few hours later, you have Joe Biden standing up and saying that he has personally seen photographs of it. Then, when U.S. reporters started pushing on this and saying, you know, “Is Biden saying that the U.S. has independent evidence of this?” then they had to say, “No, actually, Joe Biden and no one in the administration has seen any photos. He was just referring to the media reporting about it.”

And now the Israeli government doesn’t make this claim at all anymore. In fact, when Netanyahu has appeared alongside U.S. officials, or when Tony Blinken is shown photos by the Israeli government of the aftermath of the horrifying scene at the kibbutzes, he’s never mentioned beheaded babies. Netanyahu has said that they beheaded soldiers.

But what is really perplexing is that the established facts that we already understand are horrifying enough. Why would the most powerful individual in the world find the need to repeatedly — not just once, Amy. He said it in October, he said it in November, and he said it a few days ago. He keeps saying that he has seen photos, and then his advisers have to walk it back. Also, The Washington Post reported that before he first said that, in a meeting with his staffers, they warned him against including that in his speech because they said it’s not verified.

So, what you have here is Joe — this is the one of the most incendiary charges that has been made about those raids led by Hamas on October 7th, this idea of beheaded babies. But if you look at the actual figures that have been released by Israel — and I want to be very precise here, because it’s very, very important. If you look at the actual figures — and I’m going to read this for you, Amy. This is published in mainstream Israeli news outlets. They’ve said approximately 1,200 Israelis or Israeli residents were killed on October 7th: 274 of them were soldiers, 764 were civilians, 57 were police, 38 were local security guards. Among the civilians killed, there was a 9-month-old baby — she was the youngest — Mila Cohen. She was shot — and this is horrifying — she was shot as her mother carried her. Her mother survived, but her father and other relatives were killed. So you had a 9-month-old that was killed. Then you had 12 children between the ages of 1 and 9 years old, and you had 36 children between the ages of 10 and 19 years old.

Where does this story of 40 beheaded babies come from? Well, Israel has walked it back. The reporters have retracted it. Only Joe Biden is out there in the world continuing to insist that he somehow has seen photos of beheaded babies, when not even Benjamin Netanyahu, who absolutely would be screaming it every day if it was true, isn’t going that far.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill, I want to thank you for being with us, senior reporter and correspondent at The Intercept. We’ll link to your pieces.

Coming up, we go to the campus of Haverford College in Pennsylvania to speak with Kinnan Abdalhamid, one of the three Palestinian students shot over Thanksgiving weekend in Burlington. We’ll also speak with the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, a Haverford student organizer calling for a ceasefire. Back in 20 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: “People Have the Power” by Patti Smith. The singer is recovering after she was taken to the hospital in Italy, but has canceled the rest of her tour. Patti Smith has also called for a Gaza ceasefire.

Now let's turn to the US and start with greed and shame.  That's all Moms For Bigotry and its leaders ever had to offer.  On TV, Bridgit may have loved Bernie but in real life Bridgit loved and made love to 
Christian and a woman.  That's fact.  Allegation is that her husband raped the woman.  Because trash like Moms For Bigotry have no real ethics, Josh Fiallo (THE DAILY BEAST) reports:

Christian Ziegler, the embattled Florida GOP chair who was accused of rape last month, has demanded a buyout as high as $2 million to step down, Florida Politics reported Thursday, citing sources. Ziegler said in a statement Saturday that he would not resign, telling the Tampa Bay Times that he has a “country to save, and I am not going to let false allegations of a crime put that mission on the bench.” Apparently that mission can be put on ice for the right price, with multiple sources telling Florida Politics that Ziegler dispatched emissaries to top Republicans to see if they’d pay millions to get Ziegler out of their hair. Party officials are reportedly set to launch a probe into Ziegler this weekend as top Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, have asked him to resign. Ziegler hasn’t been criminally charged, but police say they’re still investigating the allegations. Ziegler’s wife, Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler, a co-founder of the far-right Moms for Liberty group, is also caught up in the scandal, with her husband’s accuser saying the three were in a “longstanding” sexual relationship together.

That's what they do, work the grift.  Want him to go?  They wanted to be paid to go. As for Bridget, so many questions.  

Did the three practice safe sex?  Was it her first ever throuple?  Was it just her first long term throuple?  Does she finger?  Scissor?  Will she go down on you in a theater -- nod to Alannis.  When three people make love, who sleeps in the wet spot?  So many questions.  Brittany Muller (Tampa's WFLA) notes:

 Sarasota School board member is calling the controversy of another member ‘a charade of political theater.’ Bridget Ziegler said she will keep her position amid a police investigation into her husband and a sex scandal.


In a 4-1 vote on Tuesday night, the Sarasota School Board passed a resolution calling for the resignation of board member Bridget Ziegler. Her husband, GOP chairman Christian Ziegler, is under investigation for rape allegations. Bridget has also admitted that she and Christian had a sexual relationship with the accuser.

Bridget Ziegler was the only opposing vote.

“I am disappointed,” she said.

Because none of the women let her scissor during the vote?  Left high and dry again.  I think it was Gilda Radner who said it best, "You selfish porkface.  Now I'll never be satisfied." Poor Bridge.   Nicole LaFond (TPM) notes:

Bridget Ziegler, a co-founder of the book-banning banshees Moms For Liberty, is close with DeSantis and played a key role in crafting Florida’s now-infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill. She recently resigned as the vice president of school board programs at the Leadership Institute, a group that helps recruit and teach right-wingers to run for public office.

DeSantis and Bridget Ziegler’s ties run deeper. The governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate personally endorsed her run for the Sarasota County school board, where she currently sits as a member. DeSantis also appointed her this spring to the state board that runs the special district that was previously managed by Disney World before DeSantis went after the company for being too “woke.”

Was there some pay-to-play there too, Bridge?  Did Ron join the Zieglers for a thruple?  Or was it a RON AND CASEY AND CHRISTIAN AND BRIDGET thing?

Marc Caputo (THE MESSENGER) reports that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is calling for Christian Ziegler to step down as the Chair of Florida GOP and that, "Prior to the scandal, Bridget Ziegler was seen as an heir apparent to Buchanan, who has served since 2007 in Congress. Mr. Ziegler has consulted on Buchanan's prior campaigns."

It gets worse.  GISTFEST notes, "However, in a statement, Moms for Liberty’s co-founders distanced themselves from Ziegler. Their statement came after a woman with whom she and her husband, Christian Ziegler, had a three-way sexual relationship, accused him of sexual assault."  Bridge, you're like Cartman when he goes after gingers and then Kyle and the gang dye Cartman's hair red and put freckles on him.  All his friends suddenly treat him like a ginger.  They won't let him eat in the cafeteria.  What did you think smearing and attacking LGBTQ+ people with lies was doing to them?  It was hurting them.  And now you're exposed as one of them.  Moms For Bigotry doesn't want to hang with you anymore.  As Cher sings in "Too Far Gone," "What I did to many men was finally done to me."

And, Bridge, you are too far gone.   And, remember kids, if you're talking to a Moms For Bigotry, chances are, you're talking to a swinger -- but she's keeping it on the down low just like Bridget tried to.

Midway through an article for THE SAROSOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE, C.A. Bridges wonders (in a subheading): "What is Bridget Ziegler doing now?"


"Who," C.A.  Who is Bridget Ziegler doing now -- who, not what.

On the topic of those swinging sex pot wild cats of Moms For Bigotry, John Russell (LGBTQ NATION) reports:

Students at a Seattle middle school sent a message to Moms for Liberty: “Stop bullying and excluding LGBTQ youth and families.”

Last month, the anti-LGBTQ+ organization’s official X account posted photos of an envelope full of cards it received from Seattle Public Schools. The hand-made cards were decorated with rainbow stickers and featured messages like “LGBTQ+ rights are human rights” and “Gay is slay, love is love, & ur wrong! Grow up!”

The cards were accompanied by a brief letter from Seattle Public Schools teacher and GSA coordinator Ann Christianson. “Please read the enclosed cards from concerned middle school students in Seattle, Washington,” Christianson wrote.

It's a shame when an adult's behavior is so out of control that children have to set boundaries with them.


The following sites updated: