Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Is Donald Trump technology challenged?

There was a surprising and interesting development last Friday in former U.S. president Donald Trump's court case.  I missed it completely.  I read it in several but missed it.  C.I. and I were on the phone and she brought it up to me.  I could not believe it sailed right past me.  I will note it at the end of my post -- let me just tease that out.

Today, the hearing resumed.  Monday was a day off because, apparently, even monsters need a holiday.  Victoria Bekiempis (GUARDIAN) reports:

Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial entered its third week on Tuesday morning with additional testimony from a private banker, Gary Farro, who last week described financial maneuvering related to the ex-president’s alleged catch-and-kill scheme.

First, however, the ex-president was held in contempt of court and fined $9,000 for violating a gag order. Judge Juan Merchan wrote in an order released moments after he announced the fine that Trump was found “in criminal contempt for willfully disobeying a lawful mandate of this court … on nine separate occasions”.

Merchan warned that there could be more severe consequences if Trump continues to flout the order, which bars him from commenting on witnesses in the trial, including on social media.

“Defendant is hereby warned that the court will not tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an incarceratory punishment,” Merchan said.

In the early afternoon, the prosecution called the witness Dr Robert Browning to the stand. Browning is the executive director of C-SPAN archives and has worked there for 37 years.

In a brief testimony, Browning confirmed his role in managing the collection of videos aired on the network. He was largely called in a custodial capacity to discuss the facts surrounding media that prosecutors are admitting.

On Friday, the trial had adjourned for the week following testimony from Farro, who in 2015 became then Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s contact at First Republic Bank. His testimony lifted the veil on Cohen’s financial chicanery to protect his then boss.

Prosecutors allege that Trump, Cohen and tabloid honcho David Pecker plotted in the summer of 2015 to bury stories that could harm Trump’s GOP presidential bid. Cohen, who allegedly shuttled a $130,000 hush-money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, sought to open accounts in October 2016 for two new LLCs.

Former President Donald Trump has allegedly questioned his attorney Todd Blanche for not being "aggressive" enough, according to a report from The New York Times published on Tuesday.
Blanche is representing Trump in his hush money trial in New York City. In this case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with falsifying business documents in connection to a payment allegedly made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign to prevent her from speaking publicly about her claims of having an affair with him.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case and has denied having an affair with Daniels. He has accused Bragg of targeting him for political purposes, equating the trial with a form of election interference.

According to the new article, which cited anonymous sources, Trump's frustration has also extended to his own legal team including Blanche.

Trump has expressed frustration with Blanche for being "insufficiently aggressive," according to the article. Trump reportedly wants him to attack trial witnesses, the jury pool and Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the ongoing trial. He has also questioned why his lawyers are so expensive.

Getting more attention than today's court room hearing is an interview Mr. Trump did with TIME magazine.  REUTERS notes, "Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump does not rule out building detention camps on U.S. soil for migrants in the country illegally if he wins a second White House term, he told Time magazine in an interview published on Tuesday.AFP also notes the interview:

"I think the enemy from within, in many cases, is much more dangerous for our country than the outside enemies of China, Russia, and various others," Trump said in the interview when asked if he would be willing to suspend parts of the US Constitution to deal with opponents.

[. . .]

Asked if states should monitor women's pregnancies to see if they have had abortions in defiance of a ban, Trump replied: "I think they might do that."

He would not commit to vetoing any attempt to introduce a nationwide US abortion ban.

Trump meanwhile refused to rule out the possibility of unrest if he loses in November. His supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a bid to overturn his election loss to Biden.

Trump said that "I think we're going have a big victory and I think there will be no violence" -- but when pushed, added that "if we don't win, you know, it depends."

How bad is the interview?  TIME has not only published it, they have also published a fact check of it.

I am not for the death penalty but if ever someone needed to be put down, it is Mr. Trump.

Now Sleepy Old Man likes to knock US President Joe Biden.  As we know, Mr. Biden can work a computer.  Guess who cannot?

Donald Trump.  Friday, one of his former workers testified.  She left in 2017.  Mr. Trump could not have entered Stormy Daniels' name into the computer the former assistant declared.  It had to be her, she explained, because Donald Trump never did anything on the computer.  Which indicates that Mr. Trump does not know how to work a computer. 

The second witness called to the stand was Rhona Graff, Trump’s longtime executive assistant. Graff, who started working for Trump in 1987 and left the Trump Organization in April 2021, has been described as his gatekeeper and right hand.

Graff testified that she believed she was the one who added contact information for Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to the Trump Organization’s computer system. The women’s listings were shown in court, with Daniels named in the system simply as “Stormy.” Graff later noted that Trump never used computers.

Apparently, he cannot use a computer.  Now if only someone had not taught him how to use his phone to Tweet.

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2024.  Students at Columbia University claim Hamilton Hall, students at the University of Texas are attacked, despite US government findings of abuse by Israeli troops there is no attempt to withdraw funding or stop supplying arms, nor is there any call for an investigation into the recently discovered mass graces.

Three US State Dept officials have resigned so far over the assault on Gaza.  Josh Paul resigned, Tariq Habash resigned and, last week, Hala Rharrit resigned.  Hala spoke about her resignation on yesterday's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED (NPR):


Let's turn now to a protest against U.S. policy in Gaza. I'm not talking about the protests unfolding on college campuses across the country. This one is unfolding within the State Department itself. An Arabic-speaking public affairs official has just resigned, the third public resignation over the Biden administration's approach to the war in Gaza. Well, her name is Hala Rharrit. She's been with the State Department for 18 years, most recently as deputy director of the Dubai Media Hub. Hala Rharrit, welcome.

HALA RHARRIT: Thank you so much, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Tell me when you started thinking about this, thinking about resigning.

RHARRIT: Well, honestly, it was quite a long process. As you mentioned, I've been a diplomat for 18 years, really my entire adult life. But the policy really became unacceptable. I was holding out, hoping to try to change things from the inside, until I realized at one point that this policy was undermining U.S. interests. It was destabilizing the Middle East. And it was indeed a failed policy. And with that, I decided that I could no longer be part of the department and decided to submit my resignation.

KELLY: Was there a specific moment? I mean, what was your breaking point?

RHARRIT: There was no real specific moment. It was just a build-up. We were undermining our entire credibility with this policy, the double standards that we were having. We could no longer talk about human rights when we were allowing and enabling the mass killing of civilians. We could no longer talk about press freedom when we remained silent on the killing of over a hundred journalists in Gaza. Everything that we had stood for was no longer relevant. I did experience a lot of silencing. I was ostracized. And it came to a point where I decided it was just - it was not possible anymore.

KELLY: You said you had been hoping to try to change things from inside. Did you write a dissent cable? Did you try to go through official channels to register your unhappiness with U.S. policy?

RHARRIT: I absolutely went through official channels to express my dissent. I wrote daily reports back to this department initially after the conflict for months, explaining and reporting and documenting how the U.S. was being seen on Pan-Arab media, how our favorability was plummeting, how we were demonized as child killers. I did this formally. I did this informally. Again, I was stopped from doing this, but I kept on doing it. It became abundantly clear that no matter what I did, no matter what other diplomats did, the policy was the policy. And most specifically, our unconditional military aid made it impossible for us to have any credibility on even the good things that we were doing.

KELLY: I want to inject that State Department spokesman Vedant Patel, another State Department spokesperson, says that Secretary of State Blinken reads all dissent cables, that Blinken wants to hear differing points of view. When you say you were ostracized, can you be specific?

RHARRIT: From the get-go, I refused to do - as a spokesperson in the region, I refused to do interviews on Gaza, not because I personally disagreed with the policy, but because I documented how this policy was undermining U.S. interests in the Arab world, how we were being called out for our double standard and how people across the region saw through our talking points and no longer believed us for lack of credibility. I was documenting how I was causing a backlash. In reaction to that, there was action taken against me, multiple actions taken against me.

KELLY: If I may, what kind of actions were taken against you?

RHARRIT: I mean, I was accused of having misconduct, that it was a conduct issue, that I was refusing to do my job. I was told get back on air or curtail or resign. Curtail means cut your assignment short. Or resign - I mean, I was given an ultimatum.

KELLY: I mentioned you are the third public resignation from the State Department. You're the first diplomat, the first foreign service officer serving overseas to resign. But out of a department of thousands, how widespread do you believe anger to be within the State Department?

RHARRIT: Well, look. I can only tell you about what I've experienced, right? But it's a very strange time in the State Department, I would say, something that I've never experienced before in my 18 years of service where people are just extremely uneasy about our policy and also extremely uneasy about the ability to speak about our policy internally. And I've never faced that before. We've always been able to talk about what's working, what's not working. We've been able to have very open and frank conversations. This has felt very, very different.

It's one War Crime after another.  And they pile up.  Take the recently discovered mass graves.  ALJAZEERA notes:

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors have reportedly gathered testimony from staff of two major hospitals in the Gaza Strip, in what is believed to be the first confirmation that ICC investigators are speaking to medical workers about possible crimes during Israel’s nearly seven-month war on the besieged territory.

The sources, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the subject, told Reuters news agency that the investigators had interviewed staff who had worked at al-Shifa Hospital and Nasser Hospital, on the grounds of which Palestinian officials say they have discovered mass graves following the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

The sources declined to provide more details, citing concerns about the safety of potential witnesses, Reuters reported on Monday. One of the sources said that events surrounding the hospitals could become part of the investigation by the ICC, which hears criminal cases against individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression.

Last week, the United Nations human rights office said it was “horrified” by reports of mass graves found at al-Shifa and Nasser after Israeli sieges and raids that damaged the facilities, noting the “special protection” awarded to medical facilities under international law.

Let's drop back to Thursday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In Gaza, medics and Civil Defense workers are still recovering bodies from mass graves found at the Nasser Medical Complex for the sixth day in a row following Israel’s siege on the hospital. Over 320 bodies have so far been discovered, including women, children, patients and medical staff, according to Al Jazeera. Another mass grave with up to 400 bodies was discovered weeks earlier at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Civil Defense officials have said bodies were found stacked together and showed indications of field executions or being buried alive. The United Nations and the European Union have called for an independent probe into the mass graves, and the White House on Wednesday also called for an investigation.

This comes as Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza, with at least 43 people killed over the last 24 hours, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. At least five of them were killed in the southern city of Rafah, where Israel has conducted near-daily airstrikes as it prepares for an offensive in the city.

AMY GOODMAN: A spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government told Reuters Israel is moving ahead with a ground operation in Rafah, but gave no timeline. An unnamed Israeli defense official said Israel had bought 40,000 tents, each able to hold between 10 and 12 people, to house Palestinians evacuated from Rafah ahead of its assault on the city. Israeli news outlets report Israel will forcibly evacuate civilians to the nearby city of Khan Younis, which has been virtually destroyed by Israeli forces. Over 1.3 million Palestinians are seeking shelter in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza.

We go now to Rafah, in Gaza, where we’re joined by Akram al-Satarri, a journalist based in Gaza.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Akram. Just moments ago, Palestinian officials held a press conference in Rafah regarding the mass graves at the Nasser Medical Complex. Can you tell us the latest? I know there’s a delay in the broadcast.

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Good morning, Amy, to you and all the viewers.

I have just come back from Khan Younis area. I was at Nasser Hospital. I spoke to the Civil Defense official who’s now giving this press conference about the situation in Nasser Hospital and about the number of the people who were killed, the way they were killed, and an account of the potential suffering they had been seeing even before they did.

It looks like the mass graves, the three different mass graves, are containing around 700 bodies. Up to this particular moment, around 400 bodies were unearthed and discovered. Around 300 bodies or even more are still in the ground. The bulldozer — one bulldozer, because of the very limited resources, working — is working there for the sake of just digging out the bodies.

Family members are lined up there. Family members are trying and rushing with passion and with great deal of sorrow to identify the bodies of their dears. Some of them managed to identify the bodies. Then you hear the outcry. You hear the people screaming, crying and mourning the death of their dears. But at the very same time, they feel a little bit relief, because they finally found the body of their dears.

I spoke to a mother who’s around 42, 43 years old. She was trying to identify her son. And then she found the body of her son. She was crying. The sister also, her daughter, was crying. And they were calling for the family to come and join them in the burial, because in our culture as Muslims and Arabs, we find a burial as the best fitting homage for the people who are dead.

People are continuously digging out the bodies. People are continuously — and this is very ironic — they’re trying to save the dead. People, when they die, are supposed to be resting in peace. And I was saying that people in Gaza, when they die, they’re neither resting nor in peace. The bodies, those bodies, were collected twice by the Israeli occupation forces. They were taken for some forensic investigation. They were returned to Nasser Hospital. They’re stockpiled in this very big hall, three different halls. And then they were buried. And then, a second time, the Israeli occupation forces came back to Nasser Hospital. They invaded all different departments of the hospital. They targeted the specialized surgery department, the reception and emergency. And they once again unearthed those hundreds of bodies and took them once again. And then they returned them to this mass grave or mass graves. So, the suffering even for the dead people in Gaza is still continuous.

And the heartache for their families is nonstop. Every single body that is being unearthed, you find tens of people rushing for the sake of identifying whether those are their relatives or otherwise. You see also many families looking into these individual graves in the Nasser Hospital area. You see written on the tombstone that “This guy is a tall guy. He has long hair. He’s wearing a gray shirt. And this is all we know.” And then it’s up to the family to try and to find and for people to recall what their dears were wearing the day they were parting from them, what were they wearing the day they were killed. So, a very emotionally draining process.

The numbers are quite shocking. But the account of the loss and the death that led to that eventual mass grave is extremely shocking, where some of the people — like you have just said, some of the people were tied. Some of the people had medical accessories on their hands, like the cannulas. And when they were unearthed from the ground, it was apparent that they were buried alive. Some people were tortured. Some of the bodies were extremely mutilated, which means that those bodies, some of their organs were taken by the Israeli occupation. Some lost their eyes. I could see some bodies with no eyes. I could see some bodies with no liver, with no kidney, some bodies that are — you see them, like the outer skin is just covering the skeleton, and that’s it. So, the account of that experience is quite heart-wrenching.

The families that have been suffering for the sake of just identifying their dears are also broken. They have been crying. But at least they say, “We feel comfortable because we found our dear.” So, it gives you an insight, a glimpse, into the suffering people of Gaza have been living. It gives you a glimpse into the bereavement the women, men, children and girls in Gaza have been experiencing for the last six months also.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Akram al-Satarri, just for our audience to know, you know, whenever we speak to you, we have — there’s this constant noise around you, and those are drones, of course, flying overhead, as they have been for months now. But if you could respond? You know, the European Union, the United Nations and now also the United States have called for an independent investigation into these mass graves. So, your response to that? And we’re speaking to you in Rafah. If you could also describe what conditions there are on the ground?

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Well, as to the independent scrutiny or investigation committee that needs to be developed, I’ve been working in journalism for around 16 years now. I have been hearing about the independent committees, commissions, inquiries, fact-finding committees and international reports and tribunals about the situation in Gaza, looking into the particular details of the incidents that were taking place, investigating the death of several people in mass killing incidents, including the war in 2008, the war in 2014 and the war in 2021. I have been hearing a book about Gaza and the war in Gaza from 2014, and I was reading the exact words that I’m going to say now: “Palestinians struggle to dig out the bodies.” So, this is something that happened in 2014. This is something that happened in 2008. This is something that happened in ’21, ’22 and is still happening throughout 2023 and 2024.

The international community has failed to preserve and — to preserve and observe the dictates of the international humanitarian law. The humanity at large is facing a challenge. All the political systems worldwide are asked now and expected to do something tangible for the sake of just saving the Gaza Strip. Rhetoric is no longer needed. Rhetoric is no longer satisfactory. We need them to do something tangible to stop the things that are happening in Gaza.

Some of the things that Gazans are suggesting, the no-fly zone to protect the civilians in Gaza. Some of the things that Gazans are suggesting, that Israel should be held accountable for what they call crimes that were committed against the humanity, against people, against civilians. The international humanitarian law is rich with terms and vocab that are related to the, what they call the civil objects, civil objects that are protected, journalists that are protected, medical teams that are supposed to be protected, medical facilities that are supposed also to be protected. But when you review the shocking numbers about the way that the journalists are being killed, for instance, the medical teams are being killed, for instance, you conclude that the international community is failing so far to do something tangible, rather than the statements, the condemnations, the calls for independent inquiries or commissions to look into the investigation. We need something tangible. And that something tangible has not been achieved so far. And Gazans have been dying constantly because of that.

Something should be done. Something swift should be done. Otherwise, the death would continue. Now in Gaza today, 79 people were killed. And an average number of around 65 to 79 is killed every day. And if nothing is done, this means the international community accepts the killing of Gazans and accepts the justification of Israel to continue that killing. [coughs] Sorry.

And when it comes to the situation in Rafah, in Rafah, around 1.4 to 1.2 million, because of the influx of people from Rafah in the last few days. People are so scared because of the looming ground operation. They understand that the Israeli occupation is going to target them, and they understand that death would be chasing them. So some of them moved from Rafah. Around 150,000 Gazans have already left Rafah and moved to the area in al-Mawasi, a buffer zone between Rafah and Khan Younis, in the hope that they would survive. The ones who are in Rafah and the ones who are in Khan Younis and the ones in Gaza, at the entirety of Gaza, are all IDPs, around 2.1 million IDPs, because of the destruction of the infrastructure, the destruction of the homes, the destruction of the streets, and because of the continuous bombardment that has been taking their life. And those people are living in areas that have no infrastructure. No infrastructure means that they don’t have water supplies that are regular. They don’t have sewage systems. They don’t have food. They don’t have even drinkable water with which they can cook the food. They don’t have houses. They’re living in tents. And today is a very hot day. Today and yesterday were very hot days in this specific season. And now people in the tents are struggling. They are sweating all day. The children that have respiratory — even the adults that have some respiratory disorders are suffering more than any other people, and this suffering is continuous.

And this situation, when it comes to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, is unbearable, unimaginable and unacceptable. When I tell you the situation is unimaginable, because, for me, some parts of Gaza and some part of those camps that I have seen, the suffering of the people is unimaginable. You will see them living just by the minimum, and even there is no minimum. And they have no other choice to continue living and waiting and hoping some solution would be developed or concluded sometime soon. This is the truth about the situation, something I have never seen in my life, let alone someone who’s living thousands of miles away from Gaza.

People are buried in the streets. People are buried on the pavement. People are buried everywhere, in their homes. And some of the bodies, around 10,000 bodies, are in Gaza, are still under the rubble, and they have not been retrieved so far. You walk down the streets, and you smell death everywhere. You go to the hospital, that is supposed to be the temple of protection and humanity, you find the hospital totally devastated by death. You find the patients, who were supposed to be receiving the medical treatments, buried within the hospital. And you smell their decomposed bodies after the bodies were desecrated and unearthed. And wherever you turn your face, you see the children, you see the adults, you see the women and the men, the girls and the boys, suffering from that unjust situation that is still continuous. And no one single international power could stop that or bring an end to that ongoing suffering and misery.

AMY GOODMAN: Akram al-Satarri, we want to thank you so much for being with us. Be safe. Akram is a Gaza-based journalist, speaking to us from Rafah.

Mass graves discovered.  But no call from the US government for investigations.  Arwa Mahdawi (GUARDIAN) notes this strange refusal:

Did you know that the Palestinians are the very first people in the world to ethnically cleanse and mass murder themselves? I know it sounds weird, but – as American and Israeli politicians keep reminding us – these are “savages” that we are talking about here. Normal rules don’t apply, you’ve got to follow the Palestine Rules.

The Palestine Rules dictate you do the following: ignore every international agency if that agency says anything remotely critical about Israel. Certainly don’t listen to international aid agencies like Oxfam when they argue that the government of Israel is “deliberately blocking and/or undermining the international humanitarian response in the Gaza Strip”. Nope, the fact that babies in Gaza are dying of malnutrition is all their fault. The fact that children in Gaza are starving at the fastest rate the world has ever known is nothing to do with Israel, it’s the fault of those pesky Palestinians.

The fact that there are an unprecedented number of child amputees in Gaza is the Palestinians’ fault. Let’s be very clear here: if every single Palestinian had fled the land they were born in back in 1948, when Israel was founded, if they’d just completely renounced their Palestinian identity, none of the horrors currently unfolding in Gaza and the West Bank would be happening. Can’t argue with that logic, can you?

You know what’s also the Palestinians’ fault? Those mass graves that have recently been discovered at the ruins of hospitals in Gaza. “Among the deceased were allegedly older people, women and wounded, while others were found tied with their hands … tied and stripped of their clothes,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights, last week.

It shouldn’t be remotely controversial to say that when you discover evidence suggesting gross violations of international law have occurred, then there should be an immediate independent investigation. And yet, the Palestine Rules have kicked in once again: Israel has said they didn’t do anything wrong – arguing that it’s all “fake news” and saying the Palestinians dug their own graves. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has said it trusts Israel to look into its own affairs. 

While US officials have called for Israel to “thoroughly and transparently” investigate reports of mass graves they have refused to call for an independent investigation. Why, one has to wonder, the reluctance to investigate? If it’s really all “fake news” then Israel and the US should welcome a proper investigation. Nothing screams “covering up war crimes” like insisting that there should absolutely not be an independent investigation.

The stench of death filled the halls of Gaza City’s Ahli Arab Hospital.

Bodies – many already decomposing – lay in heaps on the floor, next to injured patients writhing in pain.

Amid the chaos and suffering, one of Naifa Rizq al-Sawada’s relatives was methodically searching for signs of the family’s 92-year-old matriarch.

Naifa had gone missing more than two weeks earlier, in late March, after the Israeli army raided the family’s home near another Gaza City health complex, al-Shifa, and ordered everyone to leave.

Naifa hadn’t been seen since, and Israel’s intense military assault in northern Gaza had made gathering information on her whereabouts next to impossible.

"Did anyone arrive here that fits her description?" Naifa’s relative recalled asking hospital administrators after reaching Ahli Hospital, insisting on seeing any bodies resembling the elderly woman’s slender frame.

"'Uncover this one' – that's a man. 'Uncover this one' – that's a little girl. 'Uncover this one' – that's a child," said the relative, who spoke to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity due to a fear of reprisals.

“I went to a different department, all the same – indescribable scenes that I will never forget.”

The family’s sombre search finally ended days later when, after returning to the seven-storey Gaza City building where Naifa was last seen, they uncovered charred bone fragments they believe belong to her.

The US has found five units of the Israeli security forces responsible for gross violations of human rights, over incidents in the West Bank before the current Gaza war, the state department has said.

The findings come at a time when Israel is facing potential accountability from the international criminal court and the state department for its conduct of the conflict in Gaza, in which more than 34,000 people have been killed.

The units found to be involved in abuses in the West Bank are mostly from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) but include at least one police unit. They have not been sanctioned, however, the state department said.

Four of the units were judged to have carried out effective remedial action after the US state department shared its findings with Israel.

The fifth, an ultra-orthodox military unit known as Netzah Yehuda, drawn in part from West Bank settlers, was about to be blacklisted earlier this month under the Leahy laws, which ban US funding of any foreign military units involved in atrocities.

The unit had carried out no apparent remedial action despite having been alerted to the abuses and Israeli government lawyers had ignored communications about the issue for months, according to US officials.

Shortly before the sanctions were due to be announced, however, Israeli government lawyers urgently contacted Washington and insisted that under the current 10-year US memorandum of understanding governing military relations with Israel signed in 2018, Israel should be given more time to respond to the US finding. US officials stressed that Leahy sanctions remained under consideration.

And still the government of Israel gets billions of US tax dollars and still the Israeli government gets arms and weapons from the US.  

Are you getting why students are protesting yet?  War Crimes are being carried out and the US government is supporting those War Crimes with money and with action.  

Columbia University is the campus that kicked off the national wave of student protests.  ALJAZEERA reported early this morning:

The response of the authorities has been tough, with critics of the protests referring to sporadic instances of anti-Semitism. About 100 protesters were arrested at Columbia on April 18.

In the latest crackdown, authorities at the prestigious university in New York had demanded that the protest encampment be cleared by 2pm (18:00 GMT) or students would face disciplinary action.

“These repulsive scare tactics mean nothing compared to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians,” said a statement, read out by a student at a news conference after the deadline passed, referring to the death toll in Gaza.

Dozens of protesters seized Hamilton Hall in the early hours of Tuesday morning, moving metal gates to barricade the doors, blocking entrances with wooden tables and chairs, and zip-tying doors shut.

Protestors carrying barricades entered Hamilton through the leftmost door of the building at approximately 12:30 a.m. Shortly after, a protester broke the window of the rightmost door of Hamilton as dozens more formed a human barricade directly outside the Hamilton doors. Within minutes, protesters sealed Hamilton while hundreds more flooded in front of the building.

At around 1:40 a.m., protesters inside Hamilton unfurled a banner reading “Hind’s Hall”—renaming Hamilton after Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian killed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

The occupation came nearly two weeks after University President Minouche Shafik authorized the New York Police Department to sweep the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on April 18, leading to the largest mass arrest on campus since 1968, when student protesters also occupied Hamilton and over 80 people inside were arrested.

A University spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The University announced at 8:05 a.m. on Monday, that negotiations between student demonstrators and the University had reached an impasse, and Columbia University Apartheid Divest warned of escalating action in a Monday post to the coalition’s Substack.

Meanwhile, at the University of Texas?  ALJAZEERA reports:

At UT Austin, an attorney said at least 40 demonstrators had been arrested on Monday on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, some of them by officers in riot gear who encircled about 100 sitting protesters, dragging or carrying them out one by one amid screams. Another group of demonstrators trapped police and a van full of detainees between buildings, creating a mass of bodies pushing and shoving and prompting the officers to use pepper spray and flash-bang devices to clear the crowd.

The confrontation was an escalation on the 53,000-student campus in the state’s capital, where more than 50 protestors were arrested last week.

The university late on Monday issued a statement saying that many of Monday’s protesters were not affiliated with the school and that encampments are prohibited on campus. The school also alleged that some demonstrators were “physically and verbally combative” with university staff, prompting officials to call law enforcement.

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from UT Austin, described the clashes as an “extraordinary turn of events”.

“What began as a silent protest on Monday morning by faculty in opposition to the way UT Austin administration has been responding to these protests has now erupted into conflict,” she said. “The 43 arrested were part of the encampment that began this afternoon, with people setting up tents and forming a circle around it, refusing to disperse. We saw police descend on those protesters just moments after the tents went up. The police encircled them, began arresting them one by one, picking them up off the ground and dragging them away from the line.”

As soon as police cleared the encampment, other students began rallying on the area, said Zhou-Castro. Some of them were holding umbrellas to protect against pepper spray. Police, too, were out in force, blocking the path to the area where the encampment had stood.

 AP adds, "The protests have even spread to Europe, with French police removing dozens of students from the Sorbonne university after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the main courtyard. In Canada, student protest camps have popped up at the University of Ottawa, McGill University in Montreal and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, The Canadian Press reported."  And Eduardo Cuevas, John Bacon and Jorge L. Ortiz (USA TODAY) report:

Author Pam Zhang and educator Safiya Noble have withdrawn as keynote speakers at the University of Southern California's Rossier’s doctoral and master’s commencement ceremonies. In an open letter to the school, Zhang and Noble criticized USC for failing to conduct good-faith talks with student protesters and for bringing armed LAPD officers onto campus to break up a pro-Palestinian encampment.

The duo also lashed out at USC for canceling a commencement speech by valedictorian Asna Tabassum after pro-Israel groups objected to Tabassum's support for Palestinians on social media. USC later canceled its primary undergraduate commencement, but some satellite ceremonies are taking place.

“To speak at USC in this moment would betray not only our own values, but USC’s too … We cannot overlook the link between recent developments and the ongoing genocide in Palestine,” Zhang and Noble said.

Gaza remains under assault. Day 207 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 NATIONAL notes, "At least 34,535 Palestinians have been killed and 77,704 have been wounded in Israel's military offensive in Gaza since October 7, the Gaza Health Ministry said on Tuesday. In the past 24 hours, 47 people were killed and 61 injured, the ministry added."   Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:


April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "In addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for 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."

The following sites updated:

Monday, April 29, 2024

Donald Trump: Plain and Fat

Donald Trump.  Sleepy Don.  Gassy tRump.  Lock him up!  What are his other nicknames?  You would think someone with so many nicknames would be very, very popular but that is not the case with the former president. Julia Mueller (THE HILL) reports:

More than half of voters think former President Trump has committed crimes for which he should be convicted, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll shared with The Hill. 
Fifty-five percent of surveyed voters think Trump has committed crimes, a finding that comes as the first of four criminal indictments against the former president goes before a jury in New York. 
A 53-percent majority also said Trump’s legal cases make it “impossible” for him to be a viable candidate for the Oval Office, even as he campaigns for another four years. 

In other news of Mr. Trump, Martha McHardy (INDEPENDENT) reports:

According to a witness, a coat hanger or a “very tiny screwdriver” could be used to unlock the Mar-a-Lago storage room where Donald Trump stored classified documents.

The claim was made by the unidentified witness in an interview with FBI agents in January 2023, according to new documents, which were released as part of an ongoing effort by Mr Trump and his co-defendants to make additional evidence gathered by special counsel Jack Smith public.

The revelation could undercut Mr Trump’s claims that the documents, which are believed to have contained sensitive government information, were always secured while they were at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

According to the interview transcript, obtained by ABC, the witness told investigators that in the summer of 2021, the door to the storage room where the documents were kept for more than a year had a knob “with a pinhole” that visitors could lock from the inside via a push button.

“Kind of like what you would find on a residential door inside of a home?” an FBI agent asked.

“So it might have a lock like that on one side of it then other side, rather than an actual place for a key,” an agent added.

“Yeah,” the witness said.

“... very tiny screwdriver?”

“Um-hmm,” the witness said.

He really is nuts if he thinks that how you store top secret documents.  Now let me note this from Robert Reich's latest column about how we should be worried regarding 2024's election and why we should be worried:

In fact, Johnson helped organize 138 Republican House members to dispute that outcome, despite state certifications and the nearly unanimous rulings from state and federal courts that it was an honest election.

If Johnson and his cronies had so few scruples then, why should we assume they’ll have more scruples in the weeks following November’s elections?

The specific scenario I worry about is that in the wake of the elections, the House’s election-denying Republicans retain their majority in the next Congress by denying certification of Democratic candidates who have won by close margins. Then, on Jan. 6, 2025, the new Republican House majority refuses to certify Electoral College results from states that went for Biden by close margins — thereby ensuring that no candidate receives an Electoral College majority.

As a result, the decision about who’s to be the next president is made on a state-by-state delegation vote — almost surely delivering it to Trump.

I don’t think this scenario is far-fetched. Good faith can no longer be assumed. Quite the contrary: The current litmus test for Republican lawmakers in the Trump GOP is to say publicly that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Presumably they and Trump will do anything to get the White House back.

Lastly on Mr. Trump, here is SECULAR TALK.

Tomorrow, Mr. Trump heads back into the courtroom (there was no hearing today).

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

Monday, April 29, 2024.  As the assault on Gaza nears its seventh month, students step up and demand action from governments who have done nothing.


A top UN official said on Monday that the Palestinian people have been let down “countless times”.

Sigrid Kaag, UN chief co-ordinator for humanitarian affairs and reconstruction in Gaza, said almost one million children are not being schooled in the enclave.

“Schools are being used as shelters for families,” Ms Kaag said during a session of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh.

“This cannot wait for the political solution,” she said, adding that “we feel like zombies” about people there.

“I think we failed the Palestinians countless times,” she said, adding that “I know we can move mountains with political will.”

It is the only way forward, said Ms Kaag.

They can't wait, these children.  And American college students grasp that even though most American politicians do not.   ALJAZEERA reports:

In Boston, police detained about 100 people while clearing a protest camp at Northeastern University, with social media posts showing security forces in riot gear and officers loading tents onto the back of a truck.

In a statement on X, Northeastern said the area on campus where the protests were held was now “fully secured” and “all campus operations have returned to normal”.

Apparently suppression of free speech is now "normal."  

 The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University condemned the “Widespread Deployment of Police Forces on University Campuses Nationwide” in a Thursday statement.

“The large-scale deployment of armed officers to suppress peaceful protest on college campuses around the country is a shocking development,” Jameel Jaffer, executive director at the Knight Institute, wrote in the statement. “This response to peaceful protest is an assault on free speech–and it is also deeply reckless.”

On April 18, University President Minouche Shafik authorized the New York Police Department to enter campus and sweep the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment,” resulting in the arrests of 108 individuals.

The statement cites police departments being called at Columbia University, New York University, Emory University, Emerson College, University of Texas at Austin, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, Washington University in St. Louis, Yale University, and University of Southern California, among other institutions.

The NYPD arrested 120 protesters, including faculty, at a pro-Palestinian demonstration at NYU on Tuesday. Texas troopers and police, armed with batons, arrested 57 protesters at UT Austin, handcuffing them and pushing protesters back.

The statement acknowledges that there are times when “it may be necessary for universities to involve law enforcement where criminal conduct is at issue,” but states that those calling for police involvement with peaceful protesters “should consider more carefully the possible consequences of their demands.”

“And all of us, whether or not we share the politics of the protesters, should be alarmed by the precedent that is being established here—and about the ways in which this precedent might be exploited in the future,” Jaffer wrote.

Do you stand with the protestors or with the oppressors of free speech?  It's really not that difficult.  Unless maybe you're a teetering magazine that's long received money from Zionist and are now letting them dictate your coverage -- or in the case of THE NATION and IN THESE TIMES, their lack of coverage.

WSWS continues to cover the protests:

While others are silent -- THE PROGRESSIVE, THE NATION, IN THESE TIMES -- WSWS continues to cover the protests.  As does DEMOCRACY NOW!

In fact, let's drop back to Friday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: A wave of student protests against Israel’s war on Gaza continues to spread from coast to coast across U.S. campuses. From California to Connecticut, students have set up Gaza solidarity encampments to call for an end to the Israeli assault and for university divestment from Israel and the U.S. arms industry.

University administrators have responded by calling in law enforcement, forcibly removing encampments, arresting students and faculty and suspending students. More than 500 arrests have been made on campuses nationwide in just over a week.

One of the most violent police crackdowns took place at Emory University in Atlanta Thursday. Local and state police swept onto the campus just hours after students set up tents on the quad to protest Israel’s war on Gaza, as well as the planned Atlanta police training center known as Cop City. Police were accused of using tear gas, rubber bullets and stun guns to break up the encampment as they wrestled people to the ground. One video shows multiple officers restraining a protester as they apply and hold a Taser to his leg, as students around him yelled for them to stop.

In an email addressing the situation shortly afterwards, the president of Emory University wrote several dozen individuals, quote, “largely not affiliated with the university” entered the campus for the protest, disrupting the Emory community amidst final exams. The university later said 20 of the 28 people arrested had ties to the school. Among those arrested were a number of faculty members, including the chair of the philosophy department at Emory University, Noëlle McAfee. A bystander filmed her being led away in handcuffs.

BYSTANDER: I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do for you right now?

NOËLLE McAFEE: Yes. Can you call the philosophy department office and tell them I’ve been arrested?

BYSTANDER: Philosophy department?

NOËLLE McAFEE: Yes, call the philosophy department office.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Democracy Now! spoke to professor Noëlle McAfee after she was released from custody on Thursday. She described what happened.

NOËLLE McAFEE: I was on campus this morning early for a long day meeting. And I heard and I saw that there was an encampment, and I heard some peaceful chanting. I thought I would just go and see how it was going, and also was concerned because in the past Emory University has not just called out their own police to monitor things, but the Atlanta police. And a moment after I got there, I saw the troopers coming up. I’m not sure if they were the Georgia troopers or the Atlanta police, but they were coming up. The students were protesting with tents and all. And I was just wanting to watch.

And I wandered over, and I saw suddenly things took a turn, from — the students got up to start marching. And then — I couldn’t see exactly from where I was — they were just being attacked by the police, over just over a few seconds. The police were attacking. I could hear rubber bullets. Then I could — then I smelled or tasted the tear gas.

And then I saw in front of me a student on the ground with about three or four policemen pummeling the student, just pummeling and pummeling. And I tried to video it. I was standing there about three feet away from it. And it went on for like a minute or two. And then I screamed, “What are you doing?” And then they stopped pummeling the student, and a policeman stood in front of me and said, “You need to leave.” And I felt like the person who just needed to stay and witness what had just happened, and so I stood there, several feet away. And then he started dragging me off and putting my hands behind my back and took me in.

He took me around the side, and there were a lot of students being arrested and processed, and also some other faculty members, and we were put in a van. The president sent out an email to the community shortly thereafter saying that these were outside agitators. But I was in a group of about 20 to 25 Emory people who were being arrested. So, this was a peaceful protest that became chaotic at the moment the Emory police — I’m sorry, the Atlanta police arrived and became very hostile.

AMY GOODMAN: Arrested professor Noëlle McAfee, the chair of the philosophy department at Emory University.

Several Georgia legislators have criticized the police response at Emory yesterday. In a statement signed by at least 19 state Democratic lawmakers, they said they were, quote, “deeply alarmed by reports of excessive force,” writing, quote, “The use of extreme anti-riot tactics by Georgia State Patrol, including tasers and gas, is a dangerous escalation to protests which were by all accounts peaceful and nonviolent,” they wrote.

For more on the protest at Emory University, we go to Atlanta, where we’re joined by two guests. Emil’ Keme is a professor of English and Indigenous studies at Emory University. He was also arrested at the campus yesterday, jailed for four hours, charges with disorderly conduct. And we’re joined by Umaymah Mohammad, an MD/Ph.D. student, Palestinian American organizer at Emory, who took part in the protest.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Professor Emil’ Keme, you were arrested. Why were you out at the protest as the people started to begin the encampment? And explain what happened to you.

EMIL’ KEME: Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to be here.

Yeah, I was just going to work. I was going to my office to prepare my classes I was supposed to teach yesterday. And then I ran into some of my students who were participating in the protest, and I went up to say hi to them, and I also saw some of my colleagues. So I was talking to them, and then somebody had mentioned that the university had called the police. And pretty soon, they got there, and I literally felt that I was in a war zone, when I saw the police with all the gear.

And then, like, they immediately began to forcibly remove and destroy all the tents and forcibly remove students. I saw then that — I started feeling the tear gas. And I held arms with some people that — you know, we were being pushed back out of the encampment. And the student that I was holding arms with, she was then arrested. And then, the next thing I know, I was on the floor, you know, being forcibly on the floor, and I was being arrested. But yeah, it was like a horrible experience, very surreal and, yeah, unacceptable, really unacceptable. And it was just a horrible situation and a horrible experience.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor, the police are denying they used rubber bullets. What did you see?

EMIL’ KEME: So, I did see somebody being tased. And then I saw the tear gas, and I felt it. I felt it in my eyes. I was also next to an older lady, and I was trying to reach her and tried to see if I could offer her some water. But then, you know, I did see the footage, some of the videos, of police using rubber bullets, as well. But it was very forceful, and the screams. And yeah, it was very violent and really unacceptable.

AMY GOODMAN: The Emory administration has also had a similar response against Stop Cop City protests on campus. Can you talk about the connections between the two?

EMIL’ KEME: Yeah. I mean, the protesters were not only asking the university to divest from investing in Israel, but also Cop City. And, I mean, it is the right thing to do. You know, it’s the right thing to do, because we have to remember that the university is on Indigenous lands, and these are Indigenous territories. And there was an eviction notice written by Muscogee leaders about not building Cop City in Atlanta. And it is a just demand. And hopefully, the university will listen to what the students are saying about this, because I think it’s extremely important.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Umaymah Mohammad into this conversation. Umaymah, you’re an MD/Ph.D. student at Emory. Can you talk about these protests that you helped to organize and why you felt it was so key to take this stand on campus?

UMAYMAH MOHAMMAD: Yeah, absolutely. So, we are at past the seven-month mark of this genocide. And on our campus and in our community, we have repeatedly organized peacefully to put pressure on our institutions, especially at Emory, to stop harassing and doxxing students and to stop repressing speech around Palestine and to divest from the Israeli apartheid state. And every single time, Emory shuts us down. Every single time, they crack down, and they punish students. Every single time, they silence our voices.

And at some point, we decided that we no longer accept our tuition dollars and our tax money going to fund an active genocide. And that was, I think, the main motivation for a group of students and community members and faculty and graduate students coming together so powerfully in this moment to say we just reject this. We refuse to move until Emory listens to divesting from both the apartheid state of Israel and stop Cop City.

AMY GOODMAN: I read an open letter that you had written. I mean, you’re particularly deeply concerned about healthcare. You quoted the Palestinian doctor Hammam Alloh, killed in November when an Israeli artillery shell struck his wife’s home. His father, brother-in-law and father-in-law also died. Democracy Now! spoke to Dr. Alloh on October 31st. This was his response when asked him why he refused to leave his patients.

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: And if I go, who treats my patients? We are not animals. We have the right to receive proper healthcare. So we can’t just leave. … You think I went to medical school and for my postgraduate degrees for a total of 14 years so I think only about my life and not my patients?

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Hammam Alloh would be killed several weeks later. Umaymah Mohammad, can you talk about this issue of what we’re seeing at this point, over 34,000 Palestinians killed, the number of doctors and nurses, staff, universities, and why this is of particular concern to you?

UMAYMAH MOHAMMAD: Yeah. So, as a future healthcare professional and a current medical student, I am deeply concerned about the lack of concern healthcare institutions in America have for what we’re seeing. And it’s not just in Palestine. Healthcare professionals largely aren’t invested in the health and care of community members, like the police violence we saw on Emory’s campus. I mean, it’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that these people call themselves providers and care workers and are deeply disinvested from the structural and state violence of community members, both locally and internationally. And I used that quote in a letter that I wrote to the School of Medicine a few months ago because of the absolute silence from a healthcare institution on the decimation of the healthcare system in Gaza, on their own peers being murdered in cold blood by the IDF.

And so, I think one of the concerns that I have with Emory, and with the School of Medicine specifically, is that they have also, along with the greater Emory community, participated in suppressing Palestinian voices. So, a great example of this is very early on to this genocide, in October, Emory fired a Palestinian physician for posting a private social media post on her Facebook in support of the Palestinians. And yet one of the professors of medicine we have at Emory recently went to serve as a volunteer medic in the Israeli Offense Force and recently came back. This man participated in aiding and abetting a genocide, in aiding and abetting the destruction of the healthcare system in Gaza and the murder of over 400 healthcare workers, and is now back at Emory so-called teaching medical students and residents how to take care of patients. I mean, the disconnect is, for me, very obvious. And it’s very frustrating that the School of Medicine and the greater Emory community continues to ignore these major disconnects.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m wondering, as we wrap up, Umaymah Mohammad — you’re a medical student — about GILEE, the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange, and this connection between Cop City, which would be the largest police training facility in the country, that is being protested as it’s being built in Atlanta, and the Atlanta police and Israel, what this is all about.

UMAYMAH MOHAMMAD: Absolutely. So, GILEE, like you said, is the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange program, and it was started in the ’90s at a university, at Georgia State University. And the function of this program is to exchange local police with international police forces. But what this program has become, majorly, is a connection between the Atlanta police force and the Israeli Offense Force. So, they send Atlanta police, along with people like medics and first responders, over to train under a military that is illegally occupying land in Palestine, to better learn surveillance techniques, to better learn tactics on how to suppress and repress protesters in Atlanta. And they bring back these techniques, that are highly militarized and violent, and use them against students.

And, in fact, yesterday we had a Palestinian student speak, who said the last time that she experienced what was a war zone on Emory’s campus was when she was in occupied Palestine. When we were tear-gassed, all she could see was the vision of when she was in occupied Palestine similarly being tear-gassed with those tear gas canisters saying “Made in the U.S.A.” And so, what we’re seeing happening is an exchange between the Atlanta police and the Israeli Offense Force, which is currently committing a genocide, to exchange tactics on how to better surveil, repress and harm community members.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, just 10 seconds, but as you talk about the Israeli Offense Force, you’re referring to what’s officially known as the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces. Can you explain why you call them the IOF?

UMAYMAH MOHAMMAD: Right. So, we reject the idea that the Israeli Offense Force is defending anything legitimate. The Israeli Offense Force has always been on the offensive, effectively enacting ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, effectively stealing land, creating illegal settlements, checkpoints, creating conditions that are highly unlivable for Palestinians. And that’s why we use the language “Israeli Offense Force,” not the IDF.

AMY GOODMAN: Umaymah Mohammad, we want to thank you so much for being with us, a Palestinian American student from Indiana, now an MD/Ph.D. student at Emory University. And we want to thank Emil’ Keme, professor of English and Indigenous studies at Emory University, who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct yesterday. Meanwhile, University of Southern California has canceled their mainstage graduation ceremony because of the protests.

As the protests continue, so do the attacks on the protesters and this as buffoons in the middle ages pop up on TV saying that the problem is that the students don't know how to engage with people they disagree with.  Really?  Well if that's your firm belief please explain to the world how calling in the police in on students is going to teach them to engage?

The problem isn't the students.  And it's telling -- a point Ava and I made in "Media: The failure of left media leads to horrors like Thursday's THE DAILY SHOW" -- of how few outlets are even inviting the students on.  Want to know what they're doing and why they're doing it?  That might require actually speaking with them.  It appears it's actually the press that doesn't know how to engage with people they disagree with.

In the early morning, one can hear the birds perched on trees around the Gaza Solidarity Encampment at Columbia University. Farther off, there are sounds of protest and counterprotest. But inside the camp itself—technically the second camp after the New York Police Department cleared out the first and caused even more national attention to focus on this campus lawn—the resistance is often quieter if steady: a community formed to call for ceasefire, divestment, and the end to war.

This is a village built overnight. On April 17, student activists descended on the lawn outside the library—which had already been locked off to outsiders without a student identification card—and set up green tents and Palestinian flags. It was planned for the same day Columbia President Minouche Shafik appeared before Congress to discuss antisemitism on college campuses. The protesters hoped to call attention to the role of the United States and Columbia University in supporting Israel. Since Hamas’ attack on October 7, in which more than 1,000 Isrealis were killed and 129 hostages were taken, the Israeli government has waged a war that has led to more than 34,000 dead Palestinians and led Gaza to the brink of famine

Following her testimony, Shafik called the New York Police Department, which came in wearing riot gear, and students involved in the protests gained new energy. They quickly built a second encampment. Student demands have remained: that Columbia’s endowment divest from companies they say enable the conflict; that Columbia be transparent about its investments going forward; and that amnesty be provided for all students and faculty who have participated in protests. They hope to center the struggles in Gaza, where Israel is on the brink of a potential invasion of Rafah.

 Inside the encampment over the past week, I have found life different than most social media posts and news coverage might have you believe.

Students are not only protesting but attempting to create a new world. Within the camp, there is a certain normalcy in the daily communal flow. The few hundred students here—who each night come outside despite memories of the NYPD’s charge—wake up each morning, stretch, and brush their teeth. An IKEA table serves as an ersatz whiteboard, where students can see daily programming. Next is a morning assembly where leaders update everyone on the status of negotiations between protesters and the administration. Occasionally there are guest speakers and lectures.

“If you look at Fox News, we’re all Hamas supporters,” Sherif Ibrahim, a student organizer who said he is studying film, told me. “But I will say, inside the camp—everything happening is beautiful. It’s a show of love and community and solidarity and a seeking of justice.” Ibrahim described events from across the university that have been moved into the camp and food flowing from people across the city. “It’s been so meaningful and so moving,” he said.

Didn't you learn more from that than you could from a gas bag column by Fareed Zakaria where he writes about his own college life decades ago and the books he's written since -- patting himself on the back and making himself the focus while pretending to be writing about the ongoing student protests?

Instead of learning, we see arrests.  Sunday afternoon, Luke Garrett (NPR) reported:

Universities across the country turned to forced removal of pro-Palestinian protests and encampments this weekend as more and more students mounted organized opposition to Israel's handling of the war in Gaza. On Saturday, more than 275 people were taken into custody on campuses from Arizona to Massachusetts.

Beginning at 11 p.m. Friday night, campus police at Arizona State University — one of the nation's largest public colleges — started to warn a group of protesters that their gathering on Alumni Lawn was "unauthorized." After the group refused to leave, campus police arrested 72 people for trespassing by early Saturday morning, according to a university release.

[. . .]

More than two hundred miles away at Indiana University, campus police and Indiana State Police arrested 23 protesters at 12:35 p.m. Saturday. A group set up "unapproved temporary or permanent structures" on the campus's Dunn Meadow and then refused to leave, according to a university statement obtained by NPR.

The nearly two dozen people arrested face charges ranging from criminal trespassing to resisting law enforcement.

This morning Martin Weil (WASHINGTON POST) reports

Arrests were underway early Monday at a Gaza-related protest at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., the school said.

“They are being made,” a school spokesman said in an email early Monday.

The numbers of those arrested and of those demonstrating could not be learned immediately. Postings on X indicated that hundreds were demonstrating and that several had already been arrested.


To some, the surge in universities’ reliance on police to break up the protests illustrates an unwillingness by officials to truly engage with students and their demands, which usually include pulling institutional investments from companies whose work directly or indirectly supports Israel or its military apparatus, or profits from the war.

“Instead of engaging (protesters), they are cracking down,” said Dima Khalidi, executive director of Palestine Legal, which has for months represented students in disciplinary hearings brought by their universities. She called the police response across many campuses a “concerning and problematic escalation of repression and state violence against students’ peaceful protests against an ongoing genocide.”

“All of this is a distraction to take our eyes away from Gaza, where mass graves are being found, where people are being starved to death, where 35,000 Palestinians have been killed,” she said. “That’s what students are trying to bring attention to.”     

In eight days, the assault on Gaza will reach month seven.  The question is not why are the students protesting, the question is why isn't everyone all over the world protesting -- every student, every adult. Governments around the world have failed to stop the assault.

Crazed killers excuse it and lie about the protesters.  The protesters, the Crazed insist, are anti' Israel and/or anti-Jew.  But it's the Zionists who justify the killing of  Palestinian children and it's the Crazed  who equate every Palestinian with a member of Hamas.  Over 14,000 children have been killed by the Israeli government in the last six months and these were not members of Hamas.  These were children.  And you can lie and pretend all you want but most people can see reality.

ALJAZEERA notes this morning:

The top US diplomat has renewed Washington’s opposition to an Israeli offensive on Gaza’s southernmost city ahead of his trip to Israel.

“We have not yet seen a plan that gives us confidence that civilians can be effectively protected,” Blinken said at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh.

Then why the hell is the US government still supplying them with weapons?  If the US government would do its job, American students wouldn't have to protest on campus.

Israeli strikes on Gaza killed at least 66 Palestinians in 24 hours as the White House repeated it will not endorse an invasion of the southern city of Rafah without a plan to evacuate civilians.

Air strikes on three homes in Rafah in the early hours of Monday left at least 16 people dead, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken refuge in the city having been displaced from elsewhere in Gaza.

Other civilians, including women and children, were killed in shelling, air strikes and drone attacks in central and northern parts of the coastal enclave as Israel continued its relentless bombing campaign against Hamas.

  A newly leaked internal memo shows that officials at four U.S. State Department bureaus don't believe the Israeli government's assurances that it is using American weaponry in Gaza in compliance with international law, rejecting them as "neither credible nor reliable."

The memo, first reported by Reuters on Saturday, is a joint submission from the State Department's bureaus of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Population, Refugees, and Migration; Global Criminal Justice; and International Organization Affairs.

The leaked document raises "serious concern over non-compliance" with international law, specifically citing the Israeli military's repeated attacks on civilian infrastructure, refusal to investigate or punish those responsible for atrocities, and killing of "humanitarian workers and journalists at an unprecedented rate," according to Reuters.

The memo also points to Israel's arbitrary rejection of humanitarian aid trucks, which has fueled famine in the Gaza Strip. The bureaus' conclusion matches that of officials at the United States Agency for International Development.

Human rights groups have been documenting Israel's atrocities and systematic obstruction of aid for months, but the Biden administration has continued approving weapons sales for the Netanyahu government despite U.S. laws prohibiting arms transfers to countries violating human rights and blocking American humanitarian assistance. 

Gaza remains under assault. Day 206 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 34,488 Palestinians have been killed and 77,643 were injured during Israel’s military offensive on Gaza since 7 October."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:


April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "In addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for 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."

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