Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Little RFK Junior is spending more money than he's bringing in

Hard times for little Robert Kennedy Junior.  NBC NEWS reports:

 Kennedy’s campaign committee raised $7 million over the last three months of 2023, new Federal Election Commission reports show, a significant figure that amounts to more than Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis raised over that period (during which DeSantis was still an active candidate). But Kennedy Jr. spent $7.7 million, which was more than he brought in, putting his cash reserves at $5.4 million by the close of the year. 

The super PAC supporting him, American Values, raised $18.5 million in the last six months of 2023 and spent $13.4 million. The vast majority of that spending went to refund one donor, with other expenses on things like consulting and ballot access work. The group closed 2023 with $14.8 million banked away. 

Oh, my goodness.  Little Junior has spent all that money and he is still only on the ballot in two states (Utah and New Hampshire).  What a failure and in front of the whole wide world.  

You can be sure that had John F. Kennedy Jr. lived and run for office, he would not be trying to get the Libertarian Party to take him.  Nope, John-John had ethics. Little Junior?  Little Junior just had a drug problem.  I hope he has not gotten back on the drugs.  But I would not be surprised.  This must be so upsetting for him.  He was supposed to be so popular and so loved and yet even he has realized that he is deeply, deeply unwanted.

That feeling was probably really driven home now that former U.S. President Donald Trump has declared that there is no way in the world that Little Junior will be his running mate. 

Such a sad spectacle.  Max Burns (THE HILL) notes:

As voters are beginning to learn from his recent media tour, Kennedy is willing to make deals with anyone in order to obtain power, even if that means tossing his long legacy of progressive activism aside to serve as vice president of a Republican presidency.  

For a man whose father attained legendary status in the American pantheon  precisely because of his unwavering commitment to his ideals — his willingness to speak truth to power even in the most challenging circumstances — RFK Jr.’s recent moral compromises should leave voters aghast. That’s certainly the case within Kennedy’s own family

It’s difficult to believe from the vantage point of January 2024, but Kennedy was once a respected environmental activist whose name was occasionally floated for national elected office. It’s difficult to detect any trace of that work in the campaign Kennedy is now running. 

Back in October, the San Francisco Chronicle took Kennedy to task for scrubbing nearly all mentions of climate change from his campaign website. In interviews, Kennedy has pushed conspiracy theories about the Environmental Protection Agency while crowing about the importance of giving airtime to climate skeptics peddling the same junk science Kennedy once so expertly refuted. Anyone looking for Kennedy the Environmentalist had best look elsewhere. 

A bigger mystery is whether Kennedy actually believes much of anything anymore.  

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2024.  Students in Chicago demand a cease-fire, War Crimes continue to be committed, and much more.

Hundreds of high school students across Chicago walked out of their schools Tuesday to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

The City Council is expected to debate a delayed resolution Wednesday that would call for a cease-fire after more than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks, and the release of hostages taken by the militant group Hamas in its Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,200 Israelis.

Participants in the student-led protest — which started at noon and convened at City Hall in the afternoon — said they want their local alderpersons to know that many high schoolers are opposed to continued U.S. funding of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Can WGN explain why the hell Ben Azulay is in the report?  He's not a student.  No pro-cease-fire parents is shown.  This wasn't balanced.  Balanced isn't here's actions by students and now here's a anti-case fire parent.  And no one should honestly give a damn about Ben and his stupid opinion because no one needs an adult's permission.  He seems like  a pathetic man who can't face the fact that his student days are over and he should probably shut his mouth.  But don't pretend that was a news organization trying to be balanced.  Including one parent and only one parent was not balance.  It was shameful.  On WGN and on Ben Azulay's part.  We all do get the dynamics WGN presented, right?  Silly kids versus learned adult..  Garbage was what that report turned into the minute Ben Azulay was put on camera as the adult (the de facto 'expert').  As bad as that was, we'll ignore ABC7CHICAGO's video report which was even worse.  

Instead, we'll note this from a written repor by ABC7CHICAGO's Stephanie Wade and Eric Horng:

At Lane Tech High School, school security was present the entire time, so, the district said, students could express their First Amendment rights safely.

Similar crowds of students also walked out of Curie Metro High School in Archer Heights, Westinghouse High School in Humboldt Park and Jones College Prep in the South Loop.

"It's an atrocity that so many innocent people are dying and being bombed and killed," said Lexa Land.

Good for the students for making themselves heard.  

Harvard University students filed a civil rights complaint against the school Monday, alleging it has not supported or protected students who have been harassed for being Palestinian, Arab, Muslim or supporters of Palestinian rights.

The complaint was filed by the Muslim Legal Fund of America with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

In a statement, the group says the complaint was filed on behalf of “more than a dozen students, demanding an immediate investigation into Harvard’s failure to protect these students from harassment, intimidation, threats and more based solely on them being Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and supporters of Palestinian rights.”

The students allege that “rampant harassment and racist attacks” have been commonplace at Harvard for those of Arab lineage or supporters of Palestine. The complaint says students have been doxxed, stalked and assaulted on campus.

“As a Palestinian student at Harvard, the racism and harassment I have faced is shocking, terrifying, and outrageous,” one of the students said in the statement.

“We have been chased, spat at, stalked, and hounded by doxxing trucks on campus, and even at our families’ homes. On top of worrying about my family’s safety in Palestine, I’m living in fear of being attacked while walking to class. No student should have to live like this.”

Over a dozen Palestinian and Muslim students at Harvard filed a federal civil rights complaint with the Department of Education, accusing Harvard of discrimination and failing to protect them from racism and harassment. The students, who are represented by the Muslim Legal Fund of America, say they have been repeatedly targeted for attacks, including doxxing, stalking and physical assaults, in some cases simply for wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh on campus.

This comes as the City Council of Cambridge, which is home to Harvard, passed a resolution Monday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of remaining hostages.

In related news, the University of Michigan Faculty Senate Assembly passed a resolution to demand the school divest from any company profiting from Israel’s war on Gaza.

For those who don't see the need for such a lawsuit, let's drop back to DEMOCRACY NOW! last week reporting on pro-cease-fire students being gassed -- gassed in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Students at Columbia University here in New York held an “emergency protest” Wednesday over the school’s response to an attack on members of Columbia University Apartheid Divest at a rally on campus last Friday. Police are now investigating how pro-Palestinian students were sprayed with a hazardous, foul-smelling chemical at Friday’s protest, including members of Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews for Ceasefire. Eight students were reportedly hospitalized or seeking medical attention. Organizers allege the attack was carried out by two students who are former members of the Israeli military, the IDF, using a chemical weapon known as “skunk” that soldiers also deploy on Palestinians.

A Palestinian American student named Layla described the attack she says has left her traumatized, in an interview with the podcast The Robust Opposition.

LAYLA: I remember smelling this smell in the air, and it is just — it was just atrocious. I was like, “Oh my gosh! Like, it smells like somebody died. Like, what is this smell?” And then, at first, I was like, “OK, maybe I stepped in some dog poop. Like, maybe I’m just tired.” I tried to, like, kind of ignore it for a little bit.

But then, after the protest, when the protest was done, I just noticed how bad I felt. I felt so sick. I felt fatigued. I was nauseous. I had a really bad headache. And I was like, “Something is going on here. I’m not sure what, but something is going on here.” And then I was getting texts and calls from my friends. And they were like, “Did you smell that smell?” Or my friend was like, “Oh my gosh! I threw up like three times. Like, I don’t know what is wrong with me.” …

So, when this is used on Palestinians in the West Bank, like, for example, it’s been used on peaceful protesters there. It’s been used on shopkeepers and merchants. So, like, if a merchant gets their produce sprayed with skunk, they have to throw it all out, just because of how bad it stinks. …

It felt like for a while like the university, like, didn’t believe us. Like, I told them about it, and it’s like my concerns weren’t really being taken seriously. And it wasn’t until students started posting photos of themselves being hospitalized, and tagging the university, being, like, at Columbia, like we are — like, they started taking it seriously.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Palestinian American Columbia University student Layla describing Friday’s attack on her, as well as other students who were part of a protest. No arrests have been made yet, but the school now says it’s banned the suspects from campus while law enforcement investigates.

For more, we’re joined by Mahmood Mamdani, professor of government at Columbia University who specializes in the study of colonialism. His books include Neither Settler Nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities. His recent interview with The Nation is headlined “The Idea of the Nation-State Is Synonymous with Genocide.” And we’re joined by Katherine Franke, a Columbia Law School professor, member of the Center for Palestine Studies executive committee, on the board of Palestine Legal, helped write a new op-ed in the campus paper, the Columbia Spectator, headlined “Faculty and staff pledge to take back our University.”

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Professor Franke, can you explain what happened, the skunking of the students, sprayed with this chemical? Do you know, does the university know, who these students were, where they came from? And have they been dealt with?

KATHERINE FRANKE: Well, good morning, Amy.

So, the students were protesting in the main quad of the university last Friday. And we’ve had a series of protests. Our students are outraged at what’s going on, in our name and with our tax dollars, in Gaza. And while they were protesting — and, I will say, peacefully — last Friday, as your recording of Layla’s recounting of what happened, they all of the sudden smelled this horrible stench. And I’ve smelled skunk water when I’ve been in the West Bank at protests. It is horrible.

And what the students were able to do is examine video from that protest and identify, I think, three older students. We have a — Columbia has a program. It’s a graduate relationship with older students from other countries, including Israel. And it’s something that many of us were concerned about, because so many of those Israeli students, who then come to the Columbia campus, are coming right out of their military service. And they’ve been known to harass Palestinian and other students on our campus. And it’s something the university has not taken seriously in the past. But we’ve never seen anything like this. And the students were able to identify three of these exchange students, basically, from Israel, who had just come out of military service, who were spraying the pro-Palestinian students with this skunk water. And they were disguised in keffiyehs so that they could mix in with the students who were demanding that the university divest from companies that are supporting the occupation and the war, and were protesting and demanding a ceasefire. So we know who they were.

The university waited three or four days to actually even say anything about it. They have not reached out to the students who were sick, as you noted, some of whom are still in the hospital. I spoke to one student last night in the hopes that we could get one of them on your show this morning, and he was so mentally and physically disabled from this attack that he said, “I haven’t left my dorm room in a week.” So, our students are in terrible distress about this, both those who were sprayed and those who weren’t. There was another protest yesterday, and the students were actually quite afraid to come back onto the campus.

AMY GOODMAN: Is it true that you’ve seen these students, the former IDF students, on campus? And what is the administration saying about that since the attack?

KATHERINE FRANKE: Well, the university says that they have banned the three identified students from the campus. But I was told that one of them was there yesterday. Other students saw him. I don’t know that for sure, but several students said they saw one of them. You know, we have a fairly porous campus. To ban them from campus is something that they’d have to volunteer to comply with, except when there is a demonstration, when they lock — they’ve started locking the campus down in the last several months with gates, and you have to have your ID to get scanned to enter the campus. And then there’s a wall of NYPD. When I went to class yesterday, there were hundreds of NYPD officers, in uniform, lining our campus.

So, the university’s response has not been compassion, support for the students who were attacked. Instead, it’s been a militarization of our own campus and a further restraint on our students’ ability to protest peacefully, now turning to the excuse of this attack from those who support the Israeli government and the violence that’s being meted out towards Gazans as a kind of pretext to clamp down even further on peaceful protest by our other students.

AMY GOODMAN: Mahmood Mamdani, you have written about the situation in Gaza. You’ve spoken about it. There are now over 25,000 Palestinians who have been killed, over 11,000 of them children. The issue of hunger in Gaza is a very serious issue, raised by the U.N. and medical groups. You have that situation there and the solidarity expressed with the people in Palestine on college campuses. Can you talk about what’s happening at Columbia, and both staff, professors’, students’ feelings about whether they can express their views without being doxxed or attacked?

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: Thank you, Amy.

The situation at Columbia has been developing. It’s monitored by an administration which seem to have very little idea about what to do. At the same time, it had certain assumptions. The assumption was that the main problem at Columbia is antisemitism, and the administration should do everything to keep it in check and then to eradicate it.

When incidents like this, the chemical spraying, emerged, the administration’s first response was kind of disbelief. “Give us the facts.” Overall, it’s been a very clumsy handling. Different parts of the administration have different and sometimes conflicting initiatives. At the same time, they have a coherence. And the coherence is basically to shut things down and only to have an opening from the top, so no question of freedom of expression from below. That’s where we are now. Meanwhile, the community is convinced that the shots are being called by those who give the money.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how are you organizing, as a professor, with other professors, with students?

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: I think the number of concerned professors is growing. We’re all convinced that the initiative must remain with the students. They are in the frontline. But also we’re convinced that we should offer whatever guidance we can offer. We meet and discuss. I personally have not been involved in face-to-face meetings much because of health issues. But I have been involved in meetings which are remote meetings. And it’s changing every day, and it’s developing.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Franke, last semester Columbia University, the new president at Columbia, suspended both SJP, Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as Jewish Voice for Peace for holding a so-called unauthorized event, a walkout and art display in support of a ceasefire in Gaza. So, what are these groups’ status right now? And also, you yourself have long been involved with issues around Palestine. In fact, Israel deported you. And explain why. This was before October 7th.

KATHERINE FRANKE: Well, my circumstances are much less acute than the circumstances of our students right now. You know, I’ve been part of the Barnard and Columbia community since the late '70s. I went to Barnard as an undergrad. And I've been at Columbia now as a professor for 25 years. Columbia’s campus has always been a place where students have engaged the most critical issues of the day. When I was there in the late '70s, it was issues around feminism and pornography and sexual rights. And later, there were things around the Iraq War and the invitation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the campus. You know, students, faculty have used the campus as a palette for learning about difficult issues — that's what we do at universities — for protesting or showing up for communities that are persecuted around the world.

And what we’ve seen this administration do since October 8th is kind of go to war against our students. I have never seen the university disband student groups for peaceful protest. We have scores, 30, 40, 50 complaints that the university has filed against students for violations of the disciplinary code or for organizing protests, based on their changing of the rules around how to have an event the night before the event, so that the students don’t even know that they’re violating some new event rule. The university said that SJP and JVP had to be suspended because they engaged in intimidating and threatening and antisemitic rhetoric. And then, in private meetings with them, they said, actually they didn’t, but they won’t retract that. So, that defamation of our students remains in the public and in the media and in the eyes and ears of our alums and of other students, but they won’t repudiate it.

And so, the students feel like they have nothing left that they can do, except protest against the university at this point. But Professor Mamdani and I and other faculty have been spending an enormous amount of time protecting our students from the university itself. Barnard students are being prosecuted for their social media posts and for hanging Palestinian flags outside of their dorm rooms, when New York City law specifically protects the hanging of flags outside of a dormitory. So, it feels like we’re under a kind of siege, too, at Columbia and at Barnard.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Mamdani, before you were a professor at Columbia, you were a professor and director of the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Tomorrow, the decision will come out of the International Court of Justice, an emergency decision on South Africa’s case, genocide case, against Israel. Your final comments?

MAHMOOD MAMDANI: Well, for those who read the South African application, it must be clear that its strong point was the content, the argument, the substance. The empirical material relied, drew totally from U.N. sources and from no other source, really. So it was unimpeachable.

The Israeli side, the Israeli lawyers did not say anything, did not present any defense on whether a genocide is unfolding. What they did defend was that, procedurally, South Africa should not be the party making an application.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Mahmood Mamdani, we’re going to continue this discussion and post it online at Mahmood Mamdani, professor of government at Columbia University, and Katherine Franke, Columbia Law School professor. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

I'm sorry where is the Congressional probe?  Anti-cease-fire zealots in Congress can bully universities but let's not pretend they're protecting students.  This attack has resulted din nothing from Congress.  The people who did the gassing need to be publicly identified.  They need to face jail time.  After that, if they are not US citizens, they need to be immediately thrown out of the country and barred from ever returning.  This was terrorism.  And there is no excuse for it.

In other news on the education front, Julia Conley (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

The result of "significant" input from rank-and-file members of the American Federation of Teachers from across the United States, the 1.72 million-strong union's executive council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

The resolution calls for a "negotiated bilateral cease-fire" that would be guaranteed by the international community, including the U.S. and other countries that are supporting Israel's bombardment of Gaza.

"A cease-fire agreement must include the immediate provision of desperately needed food, water, medical care, clothing, emergency shelter, and other humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the release of all hostages abducted by Hamas from Israel on October 7," reads the statement.

The resolution also reaffirms "the AFT's support for a two-state solution," condemns antisemitism and Islamophobia, and demands that all people should be "safe to express dissent" in the United States.

"The conflict should not be used as an excuse to wage political attacks on American colleges and universities, or as a pretext to undermine necessary efforts to increase diversity, promote equity, and advance inclusion," reads the union's statement. 

Gaza remains under assault. Day 118 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse." THE GUARDIAN notes, "At least 26,900 Palestinians have been killed and 65,949 injured by Israeli military action in Gaza since 7 October, the health ministry in Gaza said in a statement on Wednesday."   AP has noted, "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."   

This morning, THE GUARDIAN reports, "Dr Mohammed Salha at al-Awda hospital in the northern Gaza Strip has told Al Jazeera that the hospital has been shelled by Israeli forces for the second time in 48 hours."  War Crime.  We've already noted this week the cowardly attack -- cowardly and illegal -- by Israeli forces  on a hospital in Gaza -- where they disguised themselves and shot dead 3 people in the hospital.  THE NATIONAL offers more details on that:

Thomas Helm reports from Jenin:

It was early on Tuesday morning at Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, when a bearded man rang the bell of a rehabilitation ward for severely injured patients.

He was buzzed in by a woman in her early 20s, who sat alone at the reception desk.

The receptionist asked who he had come to see.

But rather than answer, the man struck the young woman on the head with the butt of a gun before she could even scream, another staff member told The National.

More armed people then flooded into the room, disguised as medical staff, patients and family members.

Some kept guard. Others moved a few metres to the left.

Muffled shots were then heard as three Palestinian men, including a patient, were killed.

Read more

No proud moments for thugs, just embarrassment and shame.  CNN's Abeer Salman and Christian Edwards note:

Experts have warned that the IDF may have violated international law by the means it used to infiltrate the hospital during a raid on Tuesday.

During the raid, Israeli special forces, dressed as civilians and medical staff infiltrated the Ibn Sina hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin and killed three Palestinian men, both Israeli and Palestinian officials said. Israel said one of the men was a Hamas fighter, while the other two brothers who were killed were linked to Islamic Jihad.

In disguising themselves as civilians and medical staff, both of whom have protected status, Israeli troops may have resorted to perfidy, or deception.

“The Israeli forces involved in the operation were dressed in civilian clothing and at least some were dressed as medical personnel, who enjoy protection under the law of armed conflict,” Aurel Sari, a law professor at the University of Exeter in the UK, told CNN. As part of a single attack it "violates the prohibition of resort to perfidy," he added.

International humanitarian law also prohibits the killing of the wounded and sick who, like medical staff and civilians, enjoy protected status. “Provided they abstained from any acts of hostilities, killing them was a violation of the law of armed conflict,” Sari added.

Asked whether planning an attack against Israel constituted an act of hostility, Sari said if the three men were members of organized armed groups, they were “liable to status-based targeting.” But Israel’s disguising of its soldiers and killing of a reportedly wounded person means the attack could nonetheless have violated international law.

In news of other War Crimes, ALJAZEERA reports:

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called for the formation of an international investigation team to look into accusations that Israeli forces executed prisoners.

“According to testimonies of Palestinian citizens, more than 30 decomposing bodies of Palestinian martyrs were discovered buried in the northern Gaza Strip,” the ministry said in a statement. “They were killed while blindfolded and with their hands tied, as clear evidence that they were executed… in the most horrific forms.”

“The Ministry believes that the discovery of this mass grave in this brutal form reflects the scale of the tragedy to which Palestinian civilians are exposed, the mass massacres and executions of even detainees, in flagrant and gross violation of all relevant international norms and laws.”

Iran-aligned Iraqi armed group Kataib Hezbollah will suspend its military and security operations against U.S. forces, the group’s secretary general, Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi, said in a statement Tuesday.

“We hereby announce the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces,” his statement said, adding that the decision was made to “prevent embarrassment” to the Iraqi government.

Analysts have argued that the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria has dramatically increased the likelihood of a broader regional war. The Intercept's Ken Klippenstein reported Tuesday that U.S. military personnel in Iraq received a memo this month instructing them to be "on standby to forward deploy to support troops in the case of on-ground U.S. involvement in the Israel-Hamas war."

Hisham al-Rikabi, an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, toldCNN on Tuesday that Kata'ib Hezbollah's vow to suspend its attacks on U.S. forces "is the result of efforts made by" Iraq's government to "ensure the smoothness of the negotiation process and in order to complete the withdrawal [of U.S. troops] from Iraq."

The New York Timesreported Tuesday that Kata'ib Hezbollah had previously ignored the Iraqi government's requests to stop attacking U.S. forces, "but once the attack in Jordan on Sunday took American lives, Mr. Sudani demanded a complete halt from Kata'ib Hezbollah."

"Mr. Sudani reached out directly to Iran, according to a military strategist for the Revolutionary Guards who works closely with the Axis groups in Iraq," the Times added.

It wasn't hard for Mohammed Shia al-Sudant to 'reach out.'  Not only does he command the militias -- they were legally folded into the Iraqi military seven years ago -- as commander in chief of the Iraqi military but his pre-prime minister days found him a part of these militias -- even before they were folded into the Iraqi army.  Well at least, as far as we know, the US government didn't have to pay off the militias to stop the attacks, the way they pathetically did back in the days of General Betrayus and Ryan Crocker.  They basically forked over the lunch money to be safe on the playground.

For a continuation of yesterday's news on Robbie Kennedy Junior's latest desperate move, see Ruth's "Junior gives himself a bare ass spanking."

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated:

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Junior gives himself a bare ass spanking

I get to cover the Libertarian Party. C.I. and I talked last night, and we decided she would cover the Libertarian Party as a whole and I would zoom in on the new and destructive element of the party.  As he campaign flails about, Robert F. Kennedy Junior considers seeking the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party.  Because he is that pathetic.  He is a Democrat.  He is an independent.  He is a Libertarian.  What he is, actually, is worse than Cornel West.  The general populace of the Libertarian Party will rejected him.  He is against a cease-fire and he is pro-CIA with CIA in his campaign including his daughter-in-law.  The Mises Caucus -- the racist wing of the Libertarian Party that hangs out with the Proud Boys will welcome him.  They are a smaller faction and it is their leader, Angela McArdle, who keeps promoting him in public.

The Mises Caucus has been highly controversial within and outside the Libertarian Party.[12][10] The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the group as far-right.[44] The caucus has been accused of harboring racists,[10] anti-semites,[45] and transphobes.[10][28] The caucus strongly denies these claims.[a]

In his resignation letter as LNC chair, Bishop-Henchman accused the Mises Caucus of having a "toxic culture" and "bad actors" that is "destroying and driving people away from the party".[27][10][28] In June 2021, former congressman Justin Amash criticized the Mises-controlled New Hampshire affiliate for "edgelording" and being unprofessional in their messaging.[46][47]

Former New Hampshire legislator Caleb Q. Dyer criticized the caucus for claiming neutrality in the culture war "while picking the right-wing side", and called it disingenuous.[10]

In December 2021, Jeremy Thompson, Libertarian Party of Massachusetts Director of Operations explained to the Libertarian National Committee how the comments from Mises-controlled Libertarian Party of New Hampshire were not just "mean words" but “actual harassment”.[48]

In May 2022, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said that "Members of the Libertarian Party are concerned about the Mises Caucus winning control of the party at the May 26 national convention, ushering in an era of collaboration between the U.S.'s largest third party and the hard-right movement inside the Republican Party”.[49] The SPLC said that Caucus chair and founder Michael Heise had cited donations received from Patrick M. Byrne and nominated Daryl Brooks for Governor of Pennsylvania.[49] Both Byrne and Brooks promoted the conspiracy theory that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, the SPLC said.[50][51]

A leak of Libertarian Party leadership communications reveals crude remarks – including a talking point from anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theories and discussions of the Colorado Libertarian Party’s collaboration with the GOP – and raises questions about the party’s adherence to Federal Election Commission rules.

Members of the Libertarian National Committee (LNC), the body that steers the national Libertarian Party (LP), engaged in talk of electoral collaboration with state-level Republican party affiliates, according to a leak of some internal communications, and made crude remarks about the LGBTQ+ community. Portions of the leak suggest closeness with a sympathetic political action committee (PAC) that may run afoul of Federal Elections Commission (FEC) regulations, according to a campaign finance expert.

The leak came a year after members of the far-right Mises Caucus (MC) won control of the LNC at the June 2022 Libertarian National Convention. Since then, LP membership and fundraising have dropped. Critics say MC affiliates’ edgy, far-right rhetoric – including anti-LGBTQ+ and pro-secession posts – has contributed to the fall. Internal documents show LNC members acknowledge the declines but cast most of the blame on fundraising software issues.

Miguel Duque
Miguel Duque photo from Libertarian Party website

Miguel Duque, a former LNC representative from Washington state, leaked the cache, which contains hundreds of pages of text messages, a group chat and confidential memos between members of the LNC. The leak became public on Aug. 17. Duque stepped down following the leak. The LNC acknowledged the leak. Hatewatch received the leak from John Hudak, a libertarian critic of the MC.

LNC-Mises PAC questions

The leak reveals interesting aspects of the LNC’s inner workings and its closeness to the MC. The leaked materials suggest a group of LNC representatives had an ongoing chat on an MC Discord server. The MC Discord is an encrypted chat. MC members could see the LNC chat on that server, according to leaked texts. Although MC supporters took over the LNC, the LNC and MC should remain at least partially separate: FEC regulations bar political parties that handle campaigns from collaborating with PACs on advocacy and other aspects of campaigns.

On Dec. 2, 2022, Duque texted at large LNC representative Kathy Yeniscavich that “any back channel chats created for any purpose need to be a lot more selective and exclusive with who is added.”

Yeniscavich replied: “Yes, I don’t like that the Austrians can see our LNC chat. Or at least the [administrators].”

The “Austrians” Yeniscavich referenced are members of the MC, a caucus inside the LP that promotes “paleolibertarianism.” Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard pioneered paleolibertarianism, which emphasized far-right aspects such as anti-immigration rhetoric, in the early 1990s to appeal to far-right conservatives. The caucus is named after Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian economist.

Michael Heise heads both the MC and the Mises PAC. There is little separation between the two: PAC filings list the Mises Caucus website as its own and use the MC’s email as its own. The LNC conversation to which Yeniscavich referred operated on the MC Discord server.

The leak suggests that in April, the LNC created a separate Discord server to hold conversations. On April 13, LNC chair Angela McArdle sent a message in the new Discord chat for LNC members that was separate from MC server. Duque leaked this chat.

It remains unclear the extent to which the LNC members discussed LP matters via the chat on the MC Discord server.

Beth Kingsley, who specializes in campaign finance as a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based Harmon Curran law firm, told Hatewatch the chats may be legally problematic. “It would depend what was discussed, and also what the PAC later did with respect to relevant elections,” she said.

The FEC has instituted a “safe harbor rule.” The rule says that if contractors, vendors, political committees or former or current employees have a written policy statement “that creates a firewall,” they are generally safe from FEC investigations, Kingsley said. The firewall should separate individuals who can and cannot speak to outside PACs, the lawyer continued.

Kingsley said most organizations will keep this firewall to preempt investigations where they would be forced to prove no conversations violated regulations. “It’s hard to prove a negative,” Kingsley said.

McArdle responded to Hatewatch’s request for comment by saying it “must be a slow news day. Give my regards to your Luciferian masters.”

She did not respond to a follow-up request by publication time.

Other members of the LNC did not respond to requests for comment.

Extremist in the chat

One exchange reveals McArdle has open communications with the leader of a group the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled an antigovernment extremist organization.

Angela McArdle
Libertarian National Committee Chair Angela McArdle is pictured speaking at the Rage Against the War Machine Rally in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2023. (Photo by Teddy Roosevelt Simp698, Wikimedia Commons)

On June 8, McArdle wrote that she received a “tip” about the LP Radical Caucus, which is in opposition to the MC, attempting to “hijack” McArdle’s Zoom meeting.

The tip came from T.J. Kosin, a co-founder of the Proud American Patriots Network (PAPN). PAPN is a Pennsylvania-based antigovernment extremist organization. PAPN started in 2020, according to archived website records. PAPN began organizing against COVID-19 masking at local schools in 2021. Local journalists then exposed the group’s ties to the Three Percenters antigovernment sub-ideology in 2021. PAPN’s website sold Three Percenter clothing for $25 to $35. Kosin denied any connection to the Three Percenters, despite selling their branded merchandise.

McArdle shared a screenshot of a text message conversation she had with Kosin. The entire chat is not visible, but a message where McArdle tells Kosin she paid him for something is visible above messages about the Zoom meeting.

GOP collaboration

Ahead of the June 2022 LP national convention, critics of the MC told Hatewatch they feared their takeover would result in the LP not running candidates in electoral races that were competitive for Republican candidates.

In November 2022, the Libertarian candidate for Arizona’s Senate seat dropped out and endorsed Blake Masters, the far-right GOP candidate. Masters lost to Mark Kelly, who won 51% of the vote to Masters’ 46.5%.

Then, in June, the Libertarian Party of Colorado (LPCO) entered into an agreement with the Colorado GOP not to run candidates if Colorado Republicans made certain pledges.

On June 13, Dustin Blankenship, an at-large LNC representative, wrote in the Discord chat that the agreement was “a bad look.”

Mike Rufo, another LNC at-large representative, responded: “It’s dumb. To publicize it [sic] and the GOP is using them.”

LNC vice chair Andrew Watkins said in the leak he didn’t “necessarily disagree with the strategy, but making it official and public is just dumb.”

LNC representative Otto Dassing responded: “What a sh*t show … Couldn’t just keep their mouths shut. Pretty sure that’s how KYLP operates,” implying the Kentucky Libertarian Party chooses not to run Libertarian candidates in competitive races for GOP candidates.

The Kentucky Libertarian Party did not respond to a request for comment.

McArdle said that same day it was “possibly fine so long as it wasnt [sic] official and they walk it back.”

In August, LPCO unveiled the official pledges it wants Colorado GOP candidates to sign. Among the proposed promises: bans on red light and speeding traffic enforcement cameras and a push for a peace deal with Russia and an end to foreign funding for Ukraine, among other policies.

Republicans so far have expressed hesitancy regarding the pledge.

Anti-LGBTQ+ remark

The leaked Discord chat shows McArdle used an anti-LGBTQ+ talking point and other members made crude remarks about the LGBTQ+ community. Most of the rhetoric focused on trans people. LGBTQ+ rights have become a focal point in the far-right’s culture war. Members of the far right have made conspiratorial claims about members of the LGBTQ+ community “grooming” children in schools and elsewhere, which have led to book bans and violence.

On April 15, Yeniscavich shared a screenshot of a Facebook post by another libertarian that was critical of an anti-transition post McArdle made. McArdle said that “Lolberts,” a pejorative term for libertarians with whom other libertarians disagree, “are big mad I dont [sic] think 14 year olds [sic] have the right to chop off their penises just cuz [sic] they watched a YouTube video of some pedo telling them to do it.”

McArdle’s comment echoed conspiracy theories about pedophiles using LGBTQ+ equality to groom children for abuse in schools or public restrooms.

Studies show those close to children’s families commit the majority of child abuse. About 27% of girls and 5% of boys experience sexual abuse, according to a 2014 study. The Indiana Center for the Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide says more “than 90% of abusers are people children know and trust.” The center further says “30-40%” are members of their own family and “50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.”

On April 15, Blankenship posted a photo of Tyler Harris, the former executive director of the LNC. Blankenship said Harris “said to tell [McArdle] hello! He’ll be coming for her in 24,” the year when LP members will elect party leadership at a national convention.

Blankenship said in the chat that his friend “thought Tyler was a gay man” and Blankenship “had to explain” that Harris has a wife and kids.

“I fully expect him to transition in the next few years,” McArdle responded.

On April 17, Blankenship shared a Facebook post from Harris in the leaked chat. In the post, Harris shared a cocktail he had created.

Watkins responded that Harris is “def gay.” McArdle asked if Harris is “gay or trans?”

Blankenship responded: “He’s a lesbian trans woman.”

Blankenship then went on to describe a “fraternity brother” who transitioned, then married another trans person. Blankenship said his friend, to whom Blankenship refers as “she/they,” is “a huge libertarian. … She wants to run for office and become a party leader.”

McArdle replied: “Lol never show her our [messages]!”

 Let me be very clear what this means:  This is the death of Junior's political career.  He has abandoned everything his father and his uncle stood for.  In the end, unlike those two men, Junior's political career is ended not with a bullet, but with hate.

Cheryl Hines is persona non-grata now.  There is no comeback for her in the entertainment industry now that Junior is flirting with these hate merchants and extremists. 

Smerconish played a a podcast interview from last fall with the head of the Libertarian Party, Angela McArdle. She, too, said the party and Kennedy had been having "a lot of good conversations" and are "on good terms."

It is over, Junior, you have shamed your father, you have shamed your family name.  

I believe in you and tried to stand by you.  But you are an idiot, you are filth, and you are shameful.  If you had any integrity at all, you would announce immediately that you are suspending your campaign.

You have no integrity so I will just take comfort in the fact that your wife's career is now over.  No one will want to work with her (other than Larry David) now.  You have destroyed your family's name and you have destroyed your wife's career.

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2024.  Israeli forces invade a hospital and shoot people, Nancy Pelosi is rightly called out, we look at the latest from the campaigns of Marianne Williamson and Little Robbie Kennedy Junior, and much more.

As we noted in yesterday's snapshot, Nancy Pelosi is using McCarthy tactics, is slandering in the same way Donald Trump does and she owes the people an apology.  Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) notes "former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged the FBI to investigate pro-Palestinian protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Without sharing any evidence, Pelosi claimed on CNN that the protesters may have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pelosi said, 'For them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin’s message'."

Here's THE MAJORITY REPORT on Nancy's outrageous remarks.

Here's THE HUMANIST REPORT on Nancy's offensive remarks.

At THE NATION, Katrina vanden Heuvel responds to US House Rep Nancy Pelosi's ridiculous remarks:

According to a December New York Times/Sienna poll, a plurality of Americans—44 percent—±support a ceasefire, including 50 percent of women, 62 percent of 18–29 year-olds, 59 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of those who voted for Biden in 2020.  

Sixty-seven members of the Democratic caucus in the House, including 13 members from Pelosi’s California delegation have already joined the call. These include centrists like Don Beyer, Debbie Dingell and Judy Chu, Pelosi allies like Jan Schakowsky and Jared Huffman, as well as progressive leaders like Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Jamie Raskin and members of the “Squad.” They are joined by leading Senate Democrats including Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Chris Van Hollen and Dick Durbin.

The White House has labeled such calls “repugnant and disgraceful.” Pelosi attributes them to Putin’s machinations. But it is the White House and the former Speaker that are out of touch with the country and the world. In reality, the growing support is not a product of Putin’s “financing” or of Russian disinformation but of people moved by their conscience and their sense of decency.  

Which leads one to ask the former Speaker, to paraphrase Joseph Welch’s famous query to Joe McCarthy in the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearing: “Have you no sense of decency Madam?”

She has no sense of decency.  Few in the US government do as they rush to cut off funding to UNRWA.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, I’m Amy Goodman.

Palestinian officials and human rights groups are denouncing the move by the United States and at least 12 other countries to temporarily suspend funding to UNRWA — that’s the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees — after Israel accused 12 UNRWA employees of helping Hamas stage the October 7th attack. Nine of the employees have been fired. UNRWA said two of the accused employees are dead.

UNRWA is one of the largest employers in Gaza, with a staff of over 13,000. It provides aid to most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents. The agency has long been targeted by Israel. Since Israel’s assault on Gaza began, over 150 UNRWA staffers have been killed.

Francesca Albanese, U.N. special rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said on social media, quote, “The day after @ICJ concluded that Israel is plausibly committing Genocide in Gaza, some states decided to defund UNRWA, collectively punishing millions of Palestinians at the most critical time, and most likely violating their obligations under the Genocide Convention,” unquote.

Meanwhile, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini condemned the freezing of funds at a time when famine looms in Gaza. He said, quote, “Palestinians in Gaza did not need [this] additional collective punishment. This stains all of us,” he said. And the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has urged donor nations to continue supporting UNRWA.

For more, we’re going to Oslo, Norway, where we’re joined by Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. Norway has decided to continue its funding of UNRWA.

Jan, thanks so much for being with us. Can you start off by responding to the cutting off of funding at a time when, among other things, Gaza is under bombardment and is on the edge of famine?

JAN EGELAND: Yeah, it’s the worst possible reaction to these allegations that some — I mean, maybe a dozen — of the 13,000 UNRWA aid workers betrayed our humanitarian principles of neutrality and independence and participated in the horrific attacks on Israel. That, however, was met immediately with the response of UNRWA by, as you said, firing these staff and now having an independent investigation. What the donors did — the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Italy, Finland, Netherlands, Australia and some others did — was to cut all aid to the children of Gaza, to the women in Gaza, to the completely innocent there. It’s the worst possible move, at a time when this trapped population is under bombardment. Do not punish the many innocent for the sins of the few who did very wrong, it seems.

AMY GOODMAN: Now it will be interesting to see if Israel hands over the evidence for the U.N. to investigate this situation, because we’re talking about an immediate cutoff by many of these nations, suspending weapons. I wanted to read you a clip of the former Israeli official Noga Arbell, who said, “It will be impossible to win the war if we do not destroy UNRWA, and this destruction must begin immediately.” The Prime Minister Netanyahu said there will be no UNRWA in postwar Gaza. Your response, Jan Egeland? And talk about the — you’re the head of large humanitarian aid group. How important is UNRWA to all of the groups, not to mention the people on the ground?

JAN EGELAND: UNRWA is completely essential. I mean, it’s true that I lead the NRC, Norwegian Refugee Council. We’re a large humanitarian group, across the world. We’re on all sides of all conflict lines, for the displaced and the refugees. And we’ve been in Gaza for two decades. We’ve been funded all over the world by the United States and by 40 other donor nations and international agencies.

In Gaza, we have to recognize that all of us combined other groups are not even close to be what UNRWA is for the people of Gaza. UNRWA was the response to the creation of Israel and the 1948 War that displaced so many of the original Palestinian population to Gaza, to the West Bank and elsewhere. UNRWA was then created to give them relief and works. Since then, there has not been a political, peaceful settlement. And that is because the international community has not been able to force the parties, Israel and the Palestinians, to settle this conflict, and thereby we end up by having humanitarian groups like, first and foremost, UNRWA provide for the population.

So, to undermine and undercut UNRWA as extremists, which the Israeli government are doing, is basically to say, “We’re going to punish the women and children, the innocent, on the other side for what some extremists have done, in a situation of utter turmoil and perpetuous conflict, that we’re not ourselves willing to try to settle with talks on a future.” It’s very wrong.

And the international donors must stay with the humanitarian organizations, like Norway did. Norway is a large donor, giving much more per capita to Palestinians than any other donor. We stay with UNRWA, and we say, “Good that you terminated all of those contracts and fired these people, and good that there is an investigation, and then we’ll draw the conclusions what we should do for the future.”

AMY GOODMAN: Jan Egeland, what evidence is there of Israel’s charges? Have they handed over the evidence?

JAN EGELAND: As far as I know, it’s not been received by UNRWA or by the U.N. investigators. I hope they will be received, so that they can do a thorough investigation of this, very serious allegations. I read about them in The New York Times. And if it’s true, again, they betrayed all of our principles, really — neutrality, impartiality, etc. — that is so important for us, who are unarmed humanitarian workers in the crossfire around the world.

But, of course, no one who’s working across the Middle East can guarantee that there are not people within our midst that may, in the end, have hidden agendas. Palestinians cannot do that. Israelis cannot do that. We know of many Israelis who have done very bad things in Gaza, shooting at people with white flags. It’s documented and detailed. They’ve even shot their own people with white flags. They have settler organizations, Mafia-style settler organizations, displacing unarmed women and children and families across the West Bank. Many of these are recruited to the Israeli Defense Forces. They belong in jail, but they are in the Israeli Defense Forces. No one can guarantee that there are not problems. Therefore, they have to be investigated, and there has to be action taken every time something happens. But don’t cut funding to people in great need. It’s the worst possible response.

AMY GOODMAN: Jan Egeland, I want to thank you for being with us, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, speaking to us from Oslo. I’m Amy Goodman. This is another edition of Democracy Now!

International aid agencies have said they are “deeply concerned and outraged” at the “reckless” decision by major donors to cut funding to a UN Palestinian aid agency after Israel accused some of its workers of taking part in Hamas’ 7 October attack.

“We are shocked by the reckless decision to cut a lifeline for an entire population by some of the very countries that had called for aid in Gaza to be stepped up and for humanitarians to be protected while doing their job,” the coalition of 21 agencies, including Oxfam, Save the Children and ActionAid, said in a statement on Monday.

  Amnesty International on Monday joined the growing global chorus denouncing Israel's allies for suspending aid to the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency even as they continue to support the Israeli military's war on the Gaza Strip, risking complicity in genocide.

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty's secretary-general and the former U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said that while Israel's claim that a dozen staffers at the refugee agency played a role Hamas' October 7 attack is "serious and must be independently investigated," the "alleged actions of a few individuals must not be used as a pretext for cutting off lifesaving assistance in what could amount to collective punishment."

"Some of the very governments that announced they will cut off funds to UNRWA over these allegations have, in the meantime, continued to arm Israeli forces despite overwhelming evidence that these arms are used to commit war crimes and serious human rights violations," said Callamard. "Rushing to freeze funds for humanitarian aid, based on allegations that are still being investigated, while refusing to even consider suspending support for the Israeli military is a stark example of double standards."

"Instead of suspending vital funding to those in need," Callamard added, "states should be working to halt arms transfers to Israel and Palestinian armed groups and pushing for an immediate and sustained cease-fire and full humanitarian access to help alleviate devastating suffering." 

Gaza remains under assault. Day 116 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  THE HINDUSTAN TIMES notes, "At least 26,083 Palestinians have been killed and 64,487 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct.7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Friday."  AP has noted, "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."   

ALJAZEERA notes this morning, "Israeli special forces dressed as doctors and nurses killed three Palestinians inside Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday." CNN adds, "The Palestinian Ministry of Health condemned the attack and the targeting of a health center. They called on the UN General Assembly and NGOs to provide the necessary protection for medical treatment centers and emergency crews." THE PENINSULA offers this description of the events:

Israeli forces disguised as civilian women and medical workers stormed a hospital Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, and opened fire inside the wards of Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin, killing three. 

The Palestinian Health Ministry condemned the raid and called on the international community to pressure Israel's military to halt such operations in hospitals. A hospital spokesperson said there was no exchange of fire, indicating that it was a targeted killing. 

CNN notes, "Israeli shelling killed dozens of people and wounded others east of Gaza City on Monday, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said. CNN is unable to independently verify the report. Elsewhere, the Palestine Red Crescent said it lost contact with a team dispatched to rescue a 6-year-old girl trapped in a car in central Gaza after it was fired upon. The Red Crescent said the girl's father and four siblings were killed in the attack."

“They are weak now, they always have diarrhea, their faces are yellow,” Hanadi Gamal Saed El Jamara, 38, whose family was displaced from northern Gaza, told CNN on January 9. “My 17-year-old daughter tells me she feels dizziness, my husband is not eating.”

She tries to feed her kids at least once a day, she says, while tending to her husband, a cancer and diabetes patient.

As Gaza spirals toward full-scale famine, displaced civilians and health workers told CNN they go hungry so their children can eat what little is available. If Palestinians find water, it is likely undrinkable.

When relief trucks trickle into the strip, people clamber over each other to grab aid. Children living on the streets, after being forced from their homes by Israel’s bombardment, cry and fight over stale bread. Others reportedly walk for hours in the cold searching for food, risking exposure to Israeli strikes.

Even before the war, two out of three people in Gaza relied on food support, Arif Husain, the chief economist at the World Food Programme (WFP), told CNN. Palestinians have lived through 17 years of partial blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.

Learn more about the looming famine in Gaza.

Let's wind down on US politics.

Marianne Williamson is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  She came in third in New Hampshire.  Dean Phillips came in second (Joe Biden won).  Dean is not news.  Dean has never been news.  He doesn't know how to make news.  Marianne is news.  She's making news by going all out for Nevada and by going all out on social media.  It'll be interesting to see what happens in Nevada.  It may be no different.  But it is news.  For her latest YOUTUBE videos, click here.  For her Twitter feed, click here. And click here for her campaign site.  What she's doing is news and should be covered as news.  How's this going to turn out?  The media should be paying attention.  It could be very humiliating for her.  It could shake up things.  It's absolutely something poli sci majors with an emphasis in campaign politics should be following.

Marianne may end her campaign and seek the Green Party's presidential nomination.  I don't know that she will.  She didn't in 2020.  But based on what we're about to quickly talk about, I want to be clear that if she does the following does not apply to her.  She would have gone from a run in the Democratic Party to a run for the Green Party's nomination.

Yes, it's time to talk about Little Junior and his Daddy issues that led to his embarrassing campaign.

Robert Kennedy Junior started out running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination but no one wanted him.  So then he announced he was an independent candidate!  

But he's had trouble getting on the ballot -- he's only made the ballot for one state.  He and his corrupt cronies looked around and saw that he'd have less requirements to make the ballot if he pretended to have a political party so they'd just create a political party.  As we noted weeks ago, that is called fraud. Worse yet, it's intended fraud that can be proven because they were stupid enough to publicly state their plans and goals.  It's fraud.  Realizing that he will face challenges -- legal  challenges -- on any ballot that he makes due to some newly created 'political party,'  Junior's floating a new idea.  He's thinking about pursuing the presidential nomination of The Libertarian Party.

He seems to think he would be the obvious choice.  Is Junior back on the heroin?

The Libertarian Party is fine with losing as long as they feel they keep their principles.  They're in for the longterm and they're not lured by celebrity.  So there's not real need for them to get a 'name' on their ticket.

Second, The Libertarian Party wants a cease-fire. Junior has repeatedly rejected a cease-fire and has championed the Isreali government's 'right' to carry out a slaughter.  

Again, is he back on the drugs?

He really needs to shut down his embarrassing campaign that has disgraced the memories of his father and his uncle as well as every living member of his family.  See Ruth tonight for more on this topic.

The following sites updated: