Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Running the grift

Chris Brennan (USA TODAY) nails down the reality of former president Donald Trump:

Do you want to be Donald Trump's running mate?

That's the question the former one-term president asked supporters in an email Sunday evening. But that query, like another he sent last Thursday night, was really just Trump asking them more money while casting himself as a victim of judicial injustice and media mistreatment.

He's in a bind. Trump's first criminal trial – this one in New York involving paying hush money to keep a porn star quiet during the 2016 campaign about an affair – is scheduled to start next Monday. Those lawyers want to get paid. We're about to spend way more time than anyone wants hearing about the former president's approach to sex. And Trump, with three other criminal trials looming, trails President Joe Biden in fundraising for the November rematch.

It's completely on brand for Trump to turn his search for a vice president into a circus. He's going to squeeze this for cash for as long as he can, with the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee still more than three months away.
There's a motley crew of VP contenders. And there's an even more fascinating assortment of folks who would be on the short list for any other presumptive Republican nominee but won't be for Trump. But first, there's the never ending soaking of supporters for their money.

If you have seen Mr. Trump waddling around the golf course, you know is rear end is huge.  Maybe he will burn some calories with all this grifting he is doing?  Mr. Trump has a long history of lying.  In fact, THE NEW YORK TIMES' fact checker Angelo Fichera looked at Mr. Trump's statements this year:

The conclusions the Times drew from its analysis were:

・"He grossly distorts his opponents’ records and proposals to make them sound unreasonable."

・"He exaggerates and twists the facts to make his record sound better than it is.'

・"He relies on both well-worn and fresh claims of election rigging to suggest he can lose only if his opponents cheat."

・"He has turned his criminal cases into a rallying cry, baselessly asserting that he is being persecuted by his successor."

・"He makes unverifiable claims about what the world would have been like had he secured a second term."

・"He describes the United States as a nation in ruins."

In more bad news for Mr. Trump,  Theron Mohamed (BUSINESS INSIDER) reports:

Donald Trump has crashed out of the ranks of the world's 500 wealthiest people after the value of his meme stock nosedived.

The former president has fallen off the Bloomberg Billionaires Index as his net worth has dropped below the $5.8 billion required to make the cut. Forbes' rich list pegs Trump's total wealth at $4.8 billion, ranking him 659th in the world.

Trump held a top 300 spot on Bloomberg's index only a few days ago, ahead of the likes of George Soros, Mark Cuban, Giorgio Armani, Reed Hastings, and Bernie Marcus.

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

Tuesday, April 9,2024.  War Criminal Netanyahu prepares more attacks on Gaza, Robert Kennedy Junior exposes himself as the tiny little tool for Donald Trump that most people expected him to be, Trump is on trial for fraud and his answer to that is . . . to defraud the court?

Starting with Jon Stewart and THE DAILY SHOW.

Sunday marked the six-month anniversary of Hamas’ surprise attack on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. As such, Jon Stewart decided it was the perfect time for a quick “wellness check” on Gaza, and how America is responding to what has become an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

“As the war has grinded on, justice is beginning to seem more like cruelty,” said The Daily Show host on Monday. “But not to worry: America, the shining city on a hill, is on the case with our universal values.”

Unfortunately, as Stewart came to realize, those values seem to be rather inconsistent—especially when comparing Joe Biden and other lawmakers’ response to the war in Ukraine versus the war in Israel.

When discussing the Ukraine-Russia war, the president was unequivocal in his stance that in any “battle for freedom… we need to be clear-eyed.” Biden was backed up by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who called Russia’s weaponization of food in Ukraine “unconscionable”—a description Stewart agreed with, which brought him back to Israel.

“There is a literal famine in Gaza caused by the war,” said Stewart. “I assume America will also consider this unconscionable.” But, alas, not the case. When asked about the situation in Israel, national security communications adviser John Kirby could only confirm that America is indeed “concerned” about what’s happening. But left it at that.

“Well you can’t spell unconscionable without concern. At least part of it—the ‘con’ part,” Stewart offered.

“The verbal gymnastics that the American government must undertake so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of a country we provide most of the weapons for, is…” Stewart said of Israel before letting out an exasperated sound. “Every time America tells the world that there’s something we won’t allow, Israel seems to say, ‘challenge accepted.'”

The Associated Press reports more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the start of war — over 13,000 of them children.

Stewart added, “The subtext of all this is America knows this is wrong, but apparently doesn’t seem to have the courage to say it in a straightforward manner.”


Sen. Elizabeth Warren said last week that she believes international courts could interpret Israel’s actions in Gaza as a genocide, according to a video posted by a GBH News reporter, after noting she thinks “what Israel is doing is wrong.”

“If you want to do it as an application of law, I believe that they’ll find that it is genocide, and they have ample evidence to do so,” Warren said at the Islamic Center of Boston in response to a question from an audience member on whether she thinks “Israel is committing a genocide.”

“For me, it is far more important to say what Israel is doing is wrong. And it is wrong. It is wrong to starve children within a civilian population in order to try to bend them to your will. It is wrong to drop 2,000-pound bombs in densely populated civilian areas,” Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said. “I think I can make a more effective argument by describing the behavior that is happening and whether I believe it is right or wrong.” Warren also said she wanted to “get people past a labels argument.”

In a statement to Politico, a spokesperson for Warren said that she “commented on the ongoing legal process at the International Court of Justice, not sharing her views on whether genocide is occurring in Gaza.”     

Way to waffle, Liz.  No backbone.  That's why she did so poorly in the 2020 primaries.  

Israel’s genocidal assault has killed or injured over 2 percent of Palestinian children in Gaza over the course of just six months, Save the Children has reported.

In the months since October 7, Israel’s assault has killed over 13,800 children in Gaza and injured over 12,000 children, according to counts by UN officials and the Gaza Ministry of Health cited by Save the Children. This means that Israel has killed or injured at least 25,800 children in Gaza, or over 1 in every 50 children living in the region before the assault.

The anguishing statistic is a show of the sheer brutality of Israel’s genocide, which numerous experts and government insiders have said has violated a wide range of international humanitarian laws. Killing and injuring children is considered by the UN to be a grave violation of international laws on armed conflict.

“This war is not only destroying Gaza, but also the fundamental tenets of childhood,” said Xavier Joubert, director for Save the Children in the occupied Palestinian territory. “The world must act now to ensure an immediate and definitive ceasefire and unfettered humanitarian access to end the horrifying destruction of life in Gaza. As with all children, we owe children in Gaza a dignified future — but at this rate, they are at risk of having no future at all.”

Previous reports have found that Israel is killing and injuring children at a rate that is unprecedented compared to any modern conflict. On average, Israel has killed about 75 children in Gaza each day over the course of the last six months, while many of the children who have survived have sustained lifelong injuries; an average of over 10 children are having one or both legs amputated every day in Gaza. Doctors in the region say that Israeli snipers have also been targeting children.

This morning, AP reports:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has escalated his pledge to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which is filled with around 1.4 million Palestinians, most of whom are displaced from other parts of the Gaza Strip.

“It will happen. There is a date,” Netanyahu said in a video statement Monday, without elaborating.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, has said a ground operation into Rafah would be a mistake and has demanded to see a credible plan to protect civilians. Netanyahu spoke as Israeli negotiators are in Cairo discussing international efforts to broker a cease-fire deal with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Sean Seddon (BBC NEWS) adds, "In a joint intervention on Tuesday, the leaders of Egypt, France and Jordan warned Israel the offensive would have 'dangerous consequences' and 'threaten regional escalation'."  ALJAZEERA notes:

The leaders of France, Egypt and Jordan have warned Israel an attack on Rafah would have “dangerous consequences” and urged an immediate ceasefire and the release of captives held by Hamas.

“Such an offensive will only bring more death and suffering, heighten the risks and consequences of mass forcible displacement of the people of Gaza. and threaten regional escalation,” France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II wrote in a joint editorial published in several newspapers.

This morning, Human Rights Watch released an extensive report which includes the following:

Children in Gaza have been dying from starvation-related complications since the Israeli government began using starvation as a weapon of war, a war crime, Human Rights Watch said today. Doctors and families in Gaza described children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration, and hospitals ill-equipped to treat them.

Concerned governments should impose targeted sanctions and suspend arms transfers to press the Israeli government to ensure access to humanitarian aid and basic services in Gaza, in accordance with Israel’s obligations under international law and the recent International Court of Justice order in South Africa’s genocide case.

“The Israeli government’s use of starvation as a weapon of war has proven deadly for children in Gaza,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “Israel needs to end this war crime, stop this suffering, and allow humanitarian aid to reach all of Gaza unhindered.”

A United Nations-coordinated partnership of 15 international organizations and UN agencies investigating the hunger crisis in Gaza reported on March 18, 2024, that “all evidence points towards a major acceleration of death and malnutrition.” The partnership said that in northern Gaza, where 70 percent of the population is estimated to be experiencing catastrophic hunger, famine could occur anytime between mid-March and May.

Gaza’s Health Ministry reported as of April 1, that 32 people, including 28 children, had died of malnutrition and dehydration at hospitals in northern Gaza. Save the Children confirmed on April 2 the deaths from starvation and disease of 27 children. Earlier in March, World Health Organisation (WHO) officials found “children dying of starvation” in northern Gaza’s Kamal Adwan and al-Awda hospitals. In southern Gaza, where aid is more accessible but still grossly inadequate, UN agencies in mid-February said that 5 percent of children under age 2 were found to be acutely malnourished.

Human Rights Watch in March interviewed a doctor in northern Gaza, a volunteer doctor who has since left Gaza, the parents of two infants who doctors said died of starvation-related complications in both mother and child, and the parents of four other children suffering from malnutrition and dehydration.

Human Rights Watch reviewed the death certificate for one of the children, and photos of two of the children in critical condition that showed signs of emaciation. All had been treated at Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza.

Human Rights Watch health advisers also reviewed verified pictures and videos online of three other evidently emaciated children who died and four others in critical condition who also showed signs of emaciation.

Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya, who heads Kamal Adwan hospital’s pediatrics unit, told Human Rights Watch on April 4 that 26 children had died after experiencing starvation-related complications in his hospital alone. He said that at least 16 of the children who died were under 5 months old, at least 10 were between 1 and 8 years old, and that a 73-year-old man suffering from malnutrition had also died. 

Dr. Safiya said one of the infants died at just two days old after being born severely dehydrated, apparently exacerbated by his mother’s poor health: “[She] had no milk to give him.”

Nour al-Huda, an 11-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, was admitted to Kamal Adwan hospital on March 15. Doctors there told her mother that Nour was suffering from malnutrition, dehydration, and an infection in her lungs, and administered her oxygen and a saline solution. “Nour al-Huda now weighs 18 kilograms [about 40 pounds],” her mother told Human Rights Watch. “I can see her chest bones sticking out.”

International humanitarian law prohibits the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides that intentionally starving civilians by “depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies,” is a war crime.

Since the Hamas-led October 7, 2023, attacks in Israel, the Israeli government has deliberately blocked the delivery of aid, food, and fuel into Gaza, while impeding humanitarian assistance and depriving civilians of the means to survive. Israeli officials ordering or carrying out these actions are committing collective punishment against the civilian population and the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, both of which are war crimes.

Israeli government actions that undermine the ability of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to carry out its recognized role in distributing aid in Gaza have exacerbated the effects of the restrictions.

A doctor who volunteered at the European hospital in Khan Younis in southern Gaza for two weeks in late January said that medical staff were forced to treat patients with limited medical supplies. He described the difficulty of treating malnutrition and dehydration, lacking essential items such as glucose, electrolytes, and feeding tubes. He said that one patient’s mother, desperate for solutions, resorted to crushing potatoes to create a makeshift liquid for tube feeding. Despite its nutritional inadequacy, the doctor said, “I ended up telling my other patients to find potatoes and do the same.”

On January 26, the International Court of Justice, in a case brought by South Africa, ordered provisional measures, including requiring Israel to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid” and other actions to comply with the 1948 Genocide Convention. On March 28, the court indicated that Israel had not complied with this order and imposed a more detailed provisional measure requiring the government to ensure the unimpeded provision of basic services and aid in full cooperation with the UN, while noting that “famine is setting in.”

Governments should impose targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against officials and individuals responsible for the continued commission of the war crimes of collective punishment, deliberate obstruction of humanitarian aid and using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war.

Several countries have responded to the Israeli government’s unlawful restrictions on assistance by airdropping aid. The United States also pledged to build a temporary seaport in Gaza. However, aid groups and UN officials have said such efforts are inadequate to prevent a famine. Another attempt to deliver aid by sea was halted after an Israeli attack on aid workers on April 1.

On April 4, the Israeli cabinet agreed to several measures to increase the amount of aid entering Gaza, apparently following pressure from the US government.

“Governments outraged by the Israeli government starving civilians in Gaza should not be looking for band-aid solutions to this humanitarian crisis,” Shakir said. “Israel’s announcement that it will increase aid shows that outside pressure works. Israel’s allies like the US, UK, France, and Germany need to press for full-throttle aid delivery by immediately suspending their arms transfers.”

Starvation in Gaza

Prior to the current hostilities, 1.2 million of Gaza’s then-2.2 million people were estimated to be facing acute food insecurity, and over 80 percent were reliant on humanitarian aid. Israel maintains overarching control over Gaza, including over the movement of people and goods, territorial waters, airspace, the infrastructure upon which Gaza relies, and the population registry. This leaves Gaza’s population, whom Israel has subjected to an unlawful closure for more than 16 years, almost entirely dependent on Israel for access to fuel, electricity, medicine, food, and other essential commodities.

Nonetheless, before October 7, large amounts of humanitarian assistance reached the population. “Before this crisis, there was enough food in Gaza to feed the population,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Malnutrition was a rare occurrence. Now, people are dying, and many more are sick.”

The WHO reported that the number of children under age 5 who are acutely malnourished has jumped from 0.8 percent before the hostilities in Gaza to between 12.4 and 16.5 percent in northern Gaza. Oxfam said on April 3 that since January, people in northern Gaza have been forced to survive on an average of 245 calories a day, “less than a can of fava beans.”

According to a nutrition vulnerability analysis conducted in March by the Global Nutrition Cluster, a network of humanitarian organizations chaired by UNICEF, 90 percent of children ages 6-23 months and pregnant and breastfeeding women across Gaza faced “severe food poverty,” eating two or fewer food groups each day.

Children with preexisting health conditions are particularly vulnerable to the devastating effects of malnutrition, which significantly weakens immunity. And starvation, even for survivors, leads to lasting harm, especially in children, causing stunted growth, cognitive issues, and developmental delays.

Gaza’s Health Ministry announced on March 8 that about 60,000 pregnant women in Gaza suffered from malnutrition, dehydration and inadequate health care. Poor nutrition during pregnancy harms both the baby and the mother, increasing the risk of miscarriages, fetal deaths, compromised immune system development, growth impacts, and maternal mortality.

Older people are also at particular risk of malnutrition, which increases mortality among those with acute or chronic illnesses. HelpAge International reported that even before October, 45 percent of older people in Gaza were going to bed hungry at least once a week, with 6 percent hungry every night.

The impact on Gaza’s population of the Israeli government’s use of starvation as a weapon of war is compounded by the near-total collapse of the healthcare system. Out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), only 10 are operational, none of them fully, both as a result of the Israeli military’s repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport, as well as the severe restrictions on the entry of fuel and other supplies.

Accounts from Gaza

On March 19, Andrea De Domenico, head of OCHA in the occupied Palestinian territory, visited Kamal Adwan hospital, where he said about 15 malnourished children arrive daily due to shortages in food, water, and proper sanitation. He described dire conditions at the hospital, noting damage to certain areas and its reliance on a single generator.

Gaza remains under assault. Day 186 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."  ALJAZEERA notes, "153 killed, 60 injured in Gaza in last 24 hours: Health Ministry.  The casualties bring the total number of people killed in Gaza since October 7 to 33,360, with 75,993 wounded, according to the ministry."  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:

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."

2024 is a presidential election year in the US.  Let's turn to the topic of the presidential campaigns and let's start with this from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!:

Meanwhile, ProPublica is reporting Trump’s legal team may have violated ethics rules by not telling an appellate court that a billionaire financier had agreed to help Trump post the full $464 million bond set by the court in his civil fraud case. Despite the offer from billionaire Don Hankey, Trump’s lawyers told the court it was a “practical impossibility” to pay the original bond, which was then lowered to $175 million.

So let's just all get on the same page.  Donald Trump is charged with fraud and the response from him and his legal team is to . . . defraud the court?  How is he not behind bars right now?

President Biden could be left off the ballot in Ohio this fall unless the state's Republican-dominated legislature creates an exception to the ballot deadline or the Democratic Party moves up its convention, according to the office that oversees the state's elections.

Ohio's deadline to certify presidential candidates for the general election is Aug. 7, nearly two weeks before the Democratic National Convention, at which Biden is expected to be nominated to run against Republican challenger Donald Trump.

Ohio law requires that presidential candidates be certified 90 days before the general election, which is on Nov. 5 this year, said a letter written last week by Paul DiSantis, chief legal counsel for Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

“Please contact me as soon as possible with any information that can assure this office of timely compliance with Ohio law,” the letter said. 

The law's the law.  If the Biden campaign can't follow it, that's not just their problem, it's reflective on the entire team.  

Lifelong failure Robert Kennedy Junior continues to pursue his vanity campaign even as it's revealed that he's only trying to run for president in order to harm Joe Biden's chances and elect Donald Trump.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been described as a spoiler candidate for president by supporters of Joe Biden, and even by Kennedy himself. But the Kennedy campaign’s New York director is taking it a step further.

In a meeting with Republicans in the Empire State, Rita Palma said that “our mutual enemy is Biden.”

“The only way that Trump can even, remote possibility of taking New York is if Bobby is on the ballot. If it’s Trump versus Biden, Biden wins. Biden wins six days, seven days a week. With Bobby in the mix, anything can happen,” Palma said on video of the meeting, dated Friday and viewed by CNN.

The video, which was posted to YouTube before being taken down, showed Palma arguing for Kennedy’s candidacy as a way to block Biden from being reelected.

“The only way for him, for Bobby, to shake it up and to get rid of Biden is if he’s on the ballot in every state, including New York,” she said.

Palma even told people to go to Pennsylvania, a swing state, to knock on doors for Trump, saying that she had done so in 2016 and 2020.

The following sites updated: