joan collins & carol burnett

 that's a story about an interview joan collins did.  here's a segment of the interview itself.

love joan.  can't believe she's 90.  her new book is 'behind the shoulder pads: tales i tell my friends.'

we're at my parents still.  probably head home tomorrow.  but today was left over day and t.v. and people couldn't agree on what to watch so i took charge and went to amazon prime so we could watch 'the carol burnett show.'

and, as i knew would be the case, it was a crowd pleaser.  we all enjoyed it.

made me wonder why no 1 was copying carol in the last 2 decades.  she did a hugely successful show that people still watch today.  the closest we got in the last 20 years was that really bad show from martin short and maya rudolph.  if it hadn't tried to be political, it could have been very funny.  martin came off better in it because he doesn't really have a political comedy career.  'sctv,' for example, didn't rely on political humor.

the skits on 'the carol burnett show' were just about making you laugh.  carol saved political for the end of the show - when she'd note that we had to take care of our planet.  

and the show is still funny.  we watched about 10 episodes at least.  

and they brought up memories.  

it was a really nice day.

please be sure to read betty's 'Put 3 Black Nancies together and you get homophobia' and ava and c.i.'s 'TV: Courage -- momentary and otherwise' and stan's 'FARGO episode two.'

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, November 24, 2023.  The pause passed off as a 'cease-fire' has already seen Israeli forces kill two Palestinians as the assault on Gaza continues, US President Joe Biden is upsetting the government of Iraq with his ordered assault on their military forces, and much more.

Scott Newman, Daniel Estrin and Brian Mann (NPR) report, "A four-day [pause] between Israel and Hamas in Gaza went into effect early Friday. The temporary truce sets the stage for the first exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners in the nearly seven-week conflict."  The pause has not stopped the violence.  CBS NEWS reports, "CBS News producer Marwan al-Ghoul saw Israeli forces open fire Friday on Palestinians who decided to risk heading back to their homes in northern Gaza despite leaflets dropped by the IDF warning them against it. Al-Ghoul said thousands of displaced civilians left the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis to head back north, but when they reached a crossover point in central Gaza, they encountered a line of Israeli tanks and were fired on by Israeli forces."  And, no, these weren't 'warning' shots.  AFP adds, "Israeli troops fatally shot two Palestinians and wounded 11 others as they headed toward the main combat zone in northern Gaza despite warnings by the Israeli army to stay put.  An Associated Press journalist saw the two bodies and the wounded as they arrived at a hospital in the town of Deir al-Balah in the southern half of Gaza."  CNN notes, " A journalist told CNN that Israeli tanks were seen and gunfire could be heard on Salah Al-Din street."

Cease-fire?  It was never a cease-fire, it is a pause.  And if that's not clear, the two Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces this morning prove there has been no cease-fire.

Yes, the assault on Gaza continues.

 CNN explains, "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."  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."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the neighboring Gaza Strip, at least 14,854 people have been killed and 36,000 have been injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."


The rhetoric of ‘humanitarian pause’ is illustrative of a media disinformation campaign designed to affirm certain attitudes and stigmatize others. For instance, the Israeli pledge to resume the war after this brief interlude of relative calm rarely includes critical comments on the sinister nature of this commitment to reengage Hamas by recourse to genocidal warfare. In contrast, when released hostages report humane treatment by their captors this is either belittled or altogether ignored, whereas if released Palestinian prisoners were to make analogous comments about how they enjoyed Israeli prisons their words would be highlighted. We can only imagine the harsh response of Western media outlets to Russia’s participation in a comparable pause in the Ukraine War, dismissing any humanitarian pretensions by Moscow as cynical state propaganda.

Unless properly addressed the whole provenance of ‘humanitarian pause’ is misunderstood. Remember that Israel’s political leaders went ahead with such an alternative only when it was made clear that Israel had no intention of converting the pause into a longer-range ceasefire, to be followed by ‘day after’ negotiations as to the viability of continuing occupation and a new agreement as to governance arrangements for Hamas. Rather than sustaining their nationalist cult by dismissing Hamas as ‘terrorists’ the security of Israel might be enhanced by treating Hamas as a legitimate political entity, which although guilty of violations of international law, is far less guilty than Israel if a fair evaluation is made, and some account is taken of Hamas’ long-term ceasefire diplomacy is considered as a preferable security alternative.

In retrospect, I understand better the rationale behind this apparently genuine Hamas efforts, which I received first-hand evidence of due to extended conversations with Hamas leaders living in Doha and Cairo while I was UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories a decade ago. Israel could not take seriously what appeared to be beneficial from its security perspective of such Hamas initiatives or the 2002 Arab Peace Proposal issued in Mecca. Both Hamas and the Arab proposal conditioned peace on withdrawal from the Occupied Territory of the West Bank, which has long been in the gun sights of the settler wing of the Zionist Project, and consistently given priority over Israeli security by its leaders, long before Netanyahu’s Coalition made this unmistakably clear when it took over in January of 2023. Israel never accepted the internationally presumed notion that a Palestinian state would include the West Bank and have its capital in East Jerusalem.

It is this unwillingness to take account of the master/slave structure of prolonged occupation that gives a specious plausibility to both sides’ narratives embodying the delusion that Israel and Occupied Palestine are formally and existentially equal. Such narratives equate, or invert, the Hamas attack with the Israeli genocidal onslaught that followed, regarding the former as ‘barbaric’ while the latter is generally sympathetically described as Israel’s reasonable and necessary entitlement to defend itself. Variations of such themes are integral to the apologetics of former US mediating officials such as Dennis Roth or liberal Zionist casuists such as Thomas Friedman.

The efforts to control the narrative have failed.  In the US, for example, those under 50 tend to grasp the realities and the younger in adulthood you go, the greater the percentage.  Yet people continue to attempt to censor and practice thought control.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reports on one such attempt:

The Nation this week published a piece about Israel's genocidal war on the Gaza Strip that the Harvard Law Review commissioned from a Palestinian scholar but then refused to run after several days of internal debate, a nearly six-hour meeting, and a board vote.

The essay—"The Ongoing Nakba: Towards a Legal Framework for Palestine," by Rabea Eghbariah, a human rights attorney and doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School—begins: "Genocide is a crime. It is a legal framework. It is unfolding in Gaza. And yet, the inertia of legal academia, especially in the United States, has been chilling."

The controversy over Eghbariah's own piece helps prove his point. In an email to Eghbariah and Harvard Law Review president Apsara Iyer, online chair Tascha Shahriari-Parsa, one of the editors who commissioned the blog article, called the bid to kill it an "unprecedented decision" by the academic journal's leadership.

The Interceptreported on that email and others from those involved:

"As online chairs, we have always had full discretion to solicit pieces for publication," Shahriari-Parsa wrote, informing Eghbariah that his piece would not be published despite following the agreed-upon procedure for blog essays. Shahriari-Parsa wrote that concerns had arisen about staffers being offended or harassed, but "a deliberate decision to censor your voice out of fear of backlash would be contrary to the values of academic freedom and uplifting marginalized voices in legal academia that our institution stands for."

Both Shahriari-Parsa and the other top online editor, Sabrina Ochoa, told The Intercept that they had never seen a piece face this level of scrutiny at the Law Review. Shahriari-Parsa could find no previous examples of other pieces pulled from publication after going through the standard editorial process.

In a statement, the Harvard Law Review said that it "has rigorous editorial processes governing how it solicits, evaluates, and determines when and whether to publish a piece. An intrinsic feature of these internal processes is the confidentiality of our 104 editors' perspectives and deliberations. Last week, the full body met and deliberated over whether to publish a particular blog piece that had been solicited by two editors. A substantial majority voted not to proceed with publication."

According to The Nation, 63% of editors who participated in the anonymous vote opposed publication.

"At a time when the Law Review was facing a public intimidation and harassment campaign, the journal's leadership intervened to stop publication," 25 editors said in a statement shared with The Nation and The Intercept. "The body of editors—none of whom are Palestinian—voted to sustain that decision."

"We are unaware of any other solicited piece that has been revoked by the Law Review in this way," they added. "This unprecedented decision threatens academic freedom and perpetuates the suppression of Palestinian voices. We dissent."

Eghbariah wrote in an email to an editor: "This is discrimination. Let's not dance around it—this is also outright censorship. It is dangerous and alarming."

It is also part of a broader trend identified by more than 1,700 lawyers and law students. In a letter to the American Bar Association last week, they noted "increasing instances of discrimination and censorship faced by Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, South Asian, Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and other communities within law schools, universities, law firms, and other corporate entities, particularly due to their expression of support for the Palestinian people." 

In a post on X, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the start of the humanitarian pause and the entry of aid into Gaza, calling it a “step in the right direction”.

“But much more is needed,” he warned.

“We continue to call for a sustainable ceasefire to end further civilian suffering.”

Around the world, protests have taken place with people demanding a cease-fire -- not a pause, a cease-fire.  The world has said "enough."  The world has said a cease-fire is a must.  AP notes, "Thousands of people led by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel marched along Havana’s iconic boardwalk Thursday in a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people and demanding an end to the war between Israel and Hamas."  WSWS adds, "In Germany, too, many thousands are defying the pro-Israel stance of the Social Democrat-led Federal Government and Bundestag (parliament), to participate in pro-Palestine demonstrations. In Berlin, a demonstration of more than 5,000, including whole families with children, moved from the main train station to the Großer Stern on Saturday afternoon."  And they note, "High school students across the city of Melbourne went on strike Thursday against Israel’s genocide in Gaza. A crowd of students, estimated at over 1,000, gathered outside Flinders Street Station in the city centre. This marked the first of other planned school strikes around Australia this week, including today in Sydney, Adelaide and Wollongong."  Australia's ABC NEWS notes:

Pro-Palestinian rallies have been going on for weeks across the country. The protests are dominated by young people.

That's not a surprise for Associate Professor Tanya Notley, who leads the Advancing Media Literacy research program at Western Sydney University.

"Young people who are really highly engaged with news are also more likely to be taking a range of civic actions in their communities, and on the issues that matter to them," the media academic said.

THE DAILY SABAH notes, "Outcry in Türkiye has been one of the most intense among global protests against Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, which is now in its seventh week, data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) showed."  They protested in NYC at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeJoe Gill (MIDDLE EAST EYE) explains:

Once again, it is our western governments that have endorsed and supported Israel’s war of annihilation. And like the invasion of Iraq 20 years before, millions have taken to the streets to protest against a war launched in their name.

Gaza is also a war of narratives, of governments against their people, with western corporate media attempting to hold a line in favour of Israel’s legitimacy while millions in western countries are increasingly seeing the scales fall from their eyes.

Last week, a group of 50 people drove onto the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge during the morning rush hour and stopped their cars, throwing their car keys into the bay and blocking traffic for hours. “Fifteen protesters covered themselves in shrouds and laid down in front of vehicles to represent dead bodies in Gaza,” the New York Times reported. 

Meanwhile, in Washington State on 7 November, hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied at the Port of Tacoma to block a military supply vessel they believe was carrying weapons from the United States to Israel. 

“We want a ceasefire now. We want people to stop getting murdered now. We want a real examination and action on US foreign policy and US funding to Israel,” said Wassim Hage, community outreach coordinator with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, an organiser of the Tacoma rally.

Other groups have blocked ports to prevent weapons shipments being loaded onto ships for Israel, in California, Belgium, Australia, and at a BAE arms factory in Kent, UK. This kind of direct action protest to block weapons shipments is spreading.

As our political elites give carte blanche support to Israel’s total war on the Gaza Strip’s 2.2 million Palestinians, global protests, including direct actions and sit-ins at major rail terminals from New York to London, are sweeping European and American cities.

Again, the world is demanding a true cease-fire; not a four day "pause" passed off as a cease-fire.  Jordan Shilton (WSWS) writes:

The brief lull in Israel’s savage onslaught on the defenceless civilian population of Gaza scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. local time Thursday is widely being presented as a “ceasefire,” or at least a “humanitarian pause.”

Assuming the agreement is fulfilled, which is by no means assured, it will amount to little more than an operational pause in Israel’s military offensive to ethnically cleanse Gaza by carrying out a genocide against the Palestinian people.

The terms of the agreement, mediated by Qatar and the United States, include the release by Hamas of 50 women and children among the approximately 240 Israelis captured by Hamas fighters during the October 7 incursion into Israel. In return, Israel will release 150 Palestinian detainees, halt fighting in the Gaza Strip for four days, and permit 200 trucks carrying aid to enter the enclave each day. The number of Palestinian detainees being released is minuscule compared to the over 10,000 Palestinians held in detention by Israel under the most brutal conditions, including routine torture.

The agreement remains highly unstable, illustrated by the announcement late Wednesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser that the release of the first hostages would be delayed by up to 24 hours and only take place Friday. During the four-day pause, Israel will refrain from operating aircraft and drones over southern Gaza, but in the north they will only do so during a short window between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each day.

All Israeli ground forces will remain in place, ready to resume battle at a moment’s notice. As Netanyahu put it at a press conference Wednesday evening, “When the pause is done, we resume the war. It may be that we are forced to do so much earlier.” He also rejected any suggestion that the pause applied to Israel’s northern border, where the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have been striking Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon. Underlining the point, War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz told the same press conference, “What’s happening now in northern Gaza can also happen in southern Lebanon and Beirut.”

The US government is not listening to its citizens.  And it appears to be offended by protests in other countries.  Iraq, especially in Baghdad, has seen one protest after another against the assault on Gaza.  They have rightly tied in the occupation of Gaza to the occupation they experience from the US -- the US government recently gave 'independent' Iraq the permission to do a gas deal with Iran.  

US President Joe Biden has put all US forces in the Middle East at risk, painted a target on their backs, by refusing to support the Palestinian people.  We've noted that repeatedly.  We've noted that the attacks in Syria and Iraq on US forces, over fifty such since the assault on Gaza began, are not by "Iranian-backed militias."  We've explained repeatedly that these attacks are carried by Iraqi forces.

Now let's move over to AP and their distortion of reality, "The U.S. on Friday imposed sanctions on six people affiliated with the Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Kataeb Hezbollah, which is accused of being behind a spate of recent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria following the October 7 attacks by Hamas against Israel."  Oh, look, they name a group!  They don't identify it correctly, but they name it.

For years, we opposed the notion of folding militias into the Iraqi forces because of their history of abuses.  But the Iraqi leaders decided to go for it.  Kateb Hezbollah is a part of the government force, the official military.  Opening sentence of their WIKIPEDIA entry, "Kata'ib Hezbollah (Arabic: كتائب حزب الله, lit.'Battalions of the Party of God')[36] -- or the Hezbollah Brigades -- is a radical Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group which is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, staffing the 45th, 46th, and 47th Brigades.[37]"

Again, we spent years here calling out the notion of merging the militias with the Iraqi military.  And for years, it didn't happen.  But the CIA's long choice for prime minister, Hayder al-Abadi, became prime minister in 2014 and, at the end of 2016, he did what Nouri al-Maliki had been unable to, made the militias part of the Iraqi army.

Stop pretending this is a renegade.  It's a part of the Iraqi military.  

And though the US is condemning its actions (as a radical renegade) there's no outcry in the Iraqi press over the attacks.  They have the blessing on the Iraqi government, of the Iraqi people.  Like most people around the world, the Iraqis are appalled by the slaughter taking place in Gaza.

On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, the US government attacked Iraqi forces.  Not "militias linked to Iran."  They are Iraqi forces and that didn't start yesterday.  

Guess what?  The US government did not scare off Iraqi forces.  No, they've attacked the US military sites multiple times since Wednesday.

Now I've said Joe painted the target on the backs of US service members.  And he has but, let's be clear, the US media has assisted him.  They continue to lie and pretend that these attacks come from Iran.  No.  Stop lying.

The United States has conducted two retaliatory airstrikes against Iraqi militias this week after ballistic missile attacks against America’s Al Asad Air Base, the latest in a troubling tit-for-tat between the U.S. and Iran-backed militias in the region that was triggered by the Israel-Hamas conflict.

CENTCOM appears to believe that the status quo of attack and reprisal with Iraqi militias is sustainable. There’s an assumption that Washington, Iran, and Iraq’s militias understand each other’s red lines. However, this assumption comes with a lot of risks.

The potential for one-upmanship between various Shi’a militias, each trying to prove they’re more hostile toward Americans than the others, is a concerning possibility. A deadly attack on U.S. troops could prompt the Biden administration to respond more forcefully, especially in an election year. What is the administration’s plan to manage escalation and prevent a larger regional war (with heavy U.S. involvement) if this were to occur?

While the timing and scale of the war in Gaza may have been unpredictable, it was always evident that the presence of scattered U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria posed a risk of escalating the U.S. into greater conflict in such an unpredictable region. That’s why I’ve long argued for rethinking America’s military posture in Iraq, including in new research this year exploring how Washington could conduct a phased withdrawal of troops and successfully recalibrate our approach to the country and region.

It is true that the presence of U.S. military advisors in Iraq helps maintain cohesion and a working relationship between competing factions of Iraq’s military. U.S. troops also offer critical capabilities in the fight to contain ISIS. But it is time for Washington to consider whether these benefits are outweighed by the risk of malign actors using U.S. troops to provoke a wider conflict – either intentionally or inadvertently.

While the risks of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq are apparent, the overall utility of their presence is unclear (particularly in deterring attacks on themselves). With each new day comes a fresh opportunity for crisis. It’s past time Washington grappled with the true costs and benefits of our military presence.

I've reposted that in full to be fair because that think tank is far to the right of me.  That's their opinion and in their words.  Again, It's not a 'militia.'  It is part of the Iraqi military forces.  But grasp that even the people at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft grasp what the US press keeps ignoring.

Still not getting it?

Why don't we turn to the Iraqi press. Amr Salem (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

The Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fuad Hussein, confirmed on Wednesday that the recent US escalation is dangerous and violates the sovereignty of Iraq.

Hussein’s statements took place during his meeting with the US Ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, according to a statement cited by the Iraqi News Agency (INA).

The Iraqi Foreign Minister conveyed the government’s disapproval of the recent US strikes against sites belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces in the Babylon governorate’s Jurf Al-Nasr, without the Iraqi government’s knowledge.

Earlier on Wednesday, the spokesperson of the Iraqi government, Basem Al-Awadi, mentioned in a statement that the Iraqi government considers the recent escalation a dangerous step involving an unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

At least five people were killed in the early hours of Wednesday after PMF sites southwest of Baghdad were targeted by air strikes carried out by US forces.

The US press -- and US think tanks -- can lie all they want but the reality is that on Wednesday, the US government physically attacked the Iraqi military.  And that's not just how the Iraqis see it -- which would be bad enough -- that's how it actually is.  Tom O'Connor (NEWSWEEK) notes, "Iraq, considered by the United States to be a regional security partner, has strongly condemned President Joe Biden's decision to conduct airstrikes against militias accused of attacking U.S. forces in the country, warning that a cycle of unrest threatens to destabilize the nation."  Julian Benocha (RUDAW) reports:

The Iraqi government said it “vehemently condemns” the US airstrikes on Iran-backed Iraqi militia positions in Jurf al-Nasr on Wednesday as a “blatant violation of sovereignty” as the strikes took place without government knowledge.

“We vehemently condemn the attack on Jurf al-Nasr, executed without the knowledge of Iraqi government agencies. This action is a blatant violation of sovereignty and an attempt to destabilize the security situation,” Basem al-Awadi, spokesperson for the Iraqi government, said in a statement. 

The statement came hours after US warplanes struck pro-Iran fighters in Jurf al-Nasr (formerly Jurf al-Sakhar) in northern Babil province, around 60 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi) confirmed to AFP that the strikes left eight fighters dead. 

Wednesday’s strike came hours after the US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced its first retaliatory strike targeting Iran-backed groups in Iraq since the start of the attacks on American personnel in Iraq and Syria over Washington’s support for Israel in its war against Gaza. The first retaliatory strike resulted in “several enemy casualties,” according to CENTCOM. 

“The Iraqi government is solely dedicated to enforcing the law and holding violators accountable, a prerogative exclusively within its purview. No party or foreign agency has the right to assume this role, as it contradicts Iraqi constitutional sovereignty and international law,” the government statement said, labeling the recent escalations as “a dangerous development.” 

He further criticized the US-led global coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) for steering away from its intended mission of supporting Iraqi armed forces in the fight against the jihadist group. 

“The recent incident represents a clear violation of the coalition’s mission to combat   [Arabic acronym for ISIS] on Iraqi soil,” the statement added. 

It would be bad enough if the American government was falling blindly into these actions but that's not the case.  Multiple people at the US State Dept have lodged complaints about the US government's position on Gaza and warned that it harming the opinion of the US in the Middle East.  Joe has ignored those warnings when they've reached him.  

His blind-support of the Israeli government is bad enough for what's happening to the Palestinians but he's now also threatening whatever stability the US had imposed on Iraq with its continued occupation.  He's putting US service members at risk and he's risking destabilizing Iraq.

This is the time when people need to get real and tell him reality not just agree with him.  That's for the good of the Palestinians and for the good of human rights but also good for the United States.

In case we're not getting how fragile things are starting to get in Iraq, let me pull this from last night's entry:

Iraq?  As we focus on the assault on Gaza, we mention Iraq, we do not focus on it.  Cilia e-mailed asking if there was anything I felt we missed re: Iraq?

Yeah, Speaker of the House Mohammed al-Halbousi was removed from his post.  By the country's Supreme Court.  He was removed from office over an accusation that he forged the signature of MP Laith al-Dulaimi.  The court removed al-Dulaimi from office as well.

The story we didn't have time for.  I read over the Iraqi Constitution and there's nothing in there that gives the Federal Court the power to remove any MP from office.  The Council of Representatives has the power to remove one of its members.  But the Court has no say in that at all.  They can't even arrest for a felony (in Iraq, forgery is a felony) without the permission of the Council of Representatives.

They've created a power for themselves that does not exist.

By removing both the accuser and the accused (al-Dulaimi and al-Halbousi), they've also made clear that they didn't determine guilt in the matter.  Now they would have had to have had permission to do that from the Council.  That's in the Constitution.  So removing both the accuser and the accused?  That makes no sense.  One was telling the truth, one wasn't.  I have no idea which.

But the Supreme Court has no power to remove a member from the Council -- Speaker or otherwise.  This should could cause an outcry in Iraq for that reason.  It should also alarm legal observers around the world. 

The Supreme Court in Iraq now believes it can remove any member of Parliament.  And no one got convicted, by the way.  Grasp that as well.  So anytime the Court doesn't like a member of Parliament or that members politics, it's now claiming it can remove the member.  That is not how the government and its checks and balances are structured in the country's Constitution.

The following sites updated:



fargo season 5 episode 1

'fargo.'  1st, stan's right, it does mark the start of the fall season.  juno temple is really something.  she plays a woman trying to escape jon hamm.  the brilliant jennifer jason leigh plays her mother-in-law. every 1 is great including jon hamm who should play villains more often.

the bad news?  2 episodes aired tuesday night.  there are only 10 in the season.  it will wrap up january 16th.

the 1st 2 moved so quick.  spoilers below, you have been warned.

so juno's dot  is at a school board meeting that gets out of hand.  every 1 is fighting 1 another.  and where are the lights?  she tells her young daughter to stay next to her and she tazers 1 man who's fighting.  a guy steps up behind her and she tasex him.  he's a police officer.  so the police who weren't doing anything to stop the fighting suddenly show up to arrest her. as she's finger printed, she asks if they go into a national data base?  she's hiding something. 

her husband wayne gets her out of jail. they're going to his mother's to shoot the christmas picture.  his mother is lorraine lyon (jennifer jason leigh).  she asks where her granddaughter is and scotty answers.  lorraine saw scotty.  she was being rude because scotty's wearing a men's suit and tie.  they take the picture.  wayne had told lorraine what happened.  she's rich and very connected.  in the car, wayne told dot that she might be able to get off with community service.

this is briefly touched on in front of some politician (attorney general?) but danish graves is lorraine's attorney and he says no discussing it at the table.

the next day, wayne insists upon taking scotty to school.  tells dot that she should probably stay away from the school for awhile.

that makes sense.  wayne later telling scotty that dot must have forgotten to pick her up doesn't.  if she's going to stay away from school, why would they expect her to pick up her daughter?

so why doesn't she pick up her daughter?  while she's alone in the house, two masked men show up - munch and donny - to kidnap her.  she fights them - and we see that she's very clever and has experience/training we wouldn't expect - but in the end they grab her. (she's burned donny's face and slashed munch's face.)  

wayne sees the front door wide open and makes scotty wait by the car.  he goes in and sees blood and calls the police.  they come out and conclude dot has been kidnapped.

lorraine is worried about ransom money.  

dot is tied up in the back seat (zip tie around her wrists) when they pass a squad car that begins following.  munch told donny to steal the car and the owner must have reported it.

as they are stopped, dot gets the back door open and goes running.  then munch shoots 1 of the police officers dead.  the other gets shot at, witt, but is on the radio explaining they're being shot at. much goes around 1 way while donny goes the other way with the plan of fencing witt in but witt's dropped down to a gully.  he follows it which is actually following scotty.

she's in a gas station.  he goes in and locks the (glass) doors.  they're the only doors.  but, as dot points out, there's a bathroom in the back which means they can break a window.  she puts oil in front of the door and glass sticks all around (after the electricity is knocked out).  once under attack, dot is going after each the bad guys and probably killed 1 in the bathroom - donny - but she knocks munch out and then goes to help witt who's gotten shot again.  using a spatula and tape, she fixes him up - with witt noting she's had training somewhere. 

she goes to look for munch and finds he's run off.

she then leaves as the police arrive (the backup witt's been waiting on).

she shows up at home and pretends she had just gone out for a walk.

that's episode 1.  i'm going to let stan grab episode 2.

and this is a really great season.  i was lukewarm to season 4 but i'm loving the one this year.

if, like me, you are waiting for the return 'the cleaning lady' then wait no more.  'fox' has announced the show returns march 5th. 

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Wednesday, November 22, 2023.  A pause is not a cease-fire and more realities. 

CNN notes, "Israel and Hamas have agreed to a four-day humanitarian pause to allow the release of at least 50 hostages – women and children – held in Gaza. The deal will also involve the release of 150 Palestinians, including women and children, held in Israeli prisons."  ALJAZEERA provides more specifics:

Under the truce, Hamas says the initial 50 captives will be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons.

Israel’s justice ministry has published a list of 300 Palestinian prisoners who could be among those freed. Some details:

  • The list includes at least 33 women and 123 minors
  • The youngest detainees are 14, while the eldest is a 59-year-old woman
  • None of the male detainees listed is older than 18; they all have been arrested since 2021, with the vast majority detained in the past year
  • Most of those in the list are still awaiting trial
  • Their charges range from incitement to stone-throwing to attempted murder
  • Among the more well-known prisoners on the list is 38-year-old Israa Jaabis.

NBC NEWS adds, "The agreement which Hamas said will start tomorrow, was reached after weeks of talks brokered by the U.S. and Qatar. It will also allow humanitarian aid and fuel into the besieged Gaza Strip. The hostages' families or others have 24 hours to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court to object to the deal."

If the deal holds, it's not much at all.  It's four days.  The Israeli government -- which continues to attack Gaza today -- has already stated that after the pause, they will return to bombing and attacking.  They're finally going to allow fuel and humanitarian aid in?  How sweet of them after people have died in hospitals in the last week because of lack of fuel and humanitarian aid (that was sarcasm).  US President Joe Biden issued the following statement:

I welcome the deal to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist group Hamas during its brutal assault against Israel on October 7th. 

Jill and I have been keeping all those held hostage and their loved ones close to our hearts these many weeks, and I am extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented.

I thank Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar and President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt for their critical leadership and partnership in reaching this deal.  And I appreciate the commitment that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government have made in supporting an extended pause to ensure this deal can be fully carried out and to ensure the provision of additional humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinian families in Gaza. I look forward to speaking with each of these leaders and staying in close contact as we work to ensure this deal is carried through in its entirety. It is important that all aspects of this deal be fully implemented.

As President, I have no higher priority than ensuring the safety of Americans held hostage around the world. That’s why—from the earliest moments of Hamas’s brutal assault—my national security team and I have worked closely with regional partners to do everything possible to secure the release of our fellow citizens.  We saw the first results of that effort in late October, when two Americans were reunited with their loved ones.  Today’s deal should bring home additional American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released. 

Today’s deal is a testament to the tireless diplomacy and determination of many dedicated individuals across the United States Government to bring Americans home.

And I'm sure he is grateful.  Grateful that this fig leaf can be grasped by the deluded at Thanksgiving gatherings tomorrow.  Otherwise, family members might force them to realize the reality of the slaughter that's taken place.  Instead the deluded and the elderly can cling to this and close their minds to the truth.

  If it holds, the Qatar-mediated hostage deal will mark a temporary reprieve in what has been a catastrophic six-week war. Israel's response to the October 7 Hamas-led attack—which killed roughly 1,200 people—has decimated large swaths of the Gaza Strip, wrecking schools, homes, hospitals, and other civilian infrastructure and killing more than 14,000 people, drawing accusations of genocide.

Israel's siege of the Palestinian enclave has left virtually the entire population on the brink of starvation and forced many of the territory's overwhelmed hospitals to shut down due to a lack of fuel and other critical supplies, depriving many patients—including premature babies—of necessary treatment. 

  Progressive U.S. lawmakers who have been calling for a cease-fire for weeks welcomed the newly announced hostage deal but said it's not sufficient, particularly if the Israeli government resumes its devastating bombing campaign once the four-day pause is over—as Netanyahu has said he intends to do.

"A temporary pause in the violence is not enough," Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said in a statement. "We must move with urgency to save as many lives as possible and achieve a permanent cease-fire agreement. Over 14,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since this violence began, including thousands of children, and 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced from their homes."

“Further displacement of Palestinians and forced annexation of their land will only perpetuate this conflict," Tlaib added. "Expanding the illegal occupation will never lead to a just and lasting peace. We must address the root causes of this conflict."

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), the lead sponsor of a cease-fire resolution in the U.S. House, said the pause announcement "further proves the effectiveness of de-escalation and diplomacy—not military force—as a means of saving lives and affirms why we must keep up our push for a permanent cease-fire."

"When this agreement expires, the bombing will continue, thousands more will die, and millions of people will continue to be displaced," said Bush. "We must continue to vigorously push for a permanent cease-fire that ends this violence, protects and saves lives, and ensures the safe return of all hostages, including those who are being arbitrarily detained."

The advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace echoed Bush and Tlaib, saying that "the Israeli government's collective punishment and unfolding genocide of Palestinians in Gaza cannot just be put on 'pause'; it must be stopped." 

Even if the truce between Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and Hamas results in the promised four-day pause in hostilities – or longer – the horror enveloping Gaza in terms of lives lost is worse than many people think. Among those who oppose Israel’s onslaught, there are still those who do not truly grasp it. It’s understandable that Israeli authorities are seeking to sow doubt about the size of the death toll, because the numbers expose the gravity of the crimes being committed. But we should not be deceived.

Take the argument that the health ministry is Hamas-run and, therefore, its figures can never be trusted. It sounds like a reasonable enough claim on the surface, until you realise that in previous conflicts the death toll reported by the ministry was largely consistent with the UN’s and even Israel’s counts. Last month, after doubts were raised by President Biden, the ministry even released the names, ages and identification numbers of the victims.

Indeed, the health ministry’s official estimate – currently 13,300 dead after six weeks – could well be an underestimate, as a senior US official has conceded. The figures do not include the dead buried under rubble who have not been retrieved. According to the independent Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, which is chaired by US emeritus law professor and former UN special rapporteur on Palestine, Richard Falk, the civilian death toll as of 20 November is 16,413, with nearly 34,000 injured. This would mean one in every 142 Palestinian civilians killed in a month and a half.

Given that this slaughter may not end soon, the current health ministry tally of 13,300 dead, when placed in the context of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million, tells us something about the sheer scale of what has happened. Comparisons with other conflicts are truly eye-opening here. The Bosnian war loomed over my own childhood as a case study of an unspeakable atrocity. About 40,000 civilians died in those killing fields in the years between 1992 and 1995. That was over three years, not six weeks, and it was in a country whose prewar population was about twice that of Gaza.

But aren’t many of the deaths in Gaza not civilians, but Hamas militants, you might ask? The evidence suggests not. Research by the Iraq Body Count project, which diligently compiled violent civilian deaths after the 2003 invasion, concluded last month about Gaza that “few of the victims can have been combatants”. Analysing the ministry of health data, they found only a “modest excess of adult males killed”, which could be explained by their greater exposure to risk in, for instance, rescue efforts. With an estimated 70% of the dead being women and children – and many of the slain men unlikely to have been combatants – their conclusion is difficult to rebut.

The dead includes at least 102 United Nations workers.  In fact, last week  and CNN) reported, "More United Nations aid workers have been killed in Gaza than in any other single conflict in the organization’s 78-year history, the UN said Monday, a stark reminder that humanitarian staff from global agencies have not been spared from Israel’s relentless bombardment of the besieged strip."  The dead also includes journalists.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: It’s been another devastating 24 hours in Gaza and southern Lebanon for journalists covering the 46-day Israeli bombardment. The Beirut-based TV channel Al Mayadeen has just announced two of its journalists were killed today in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon. The network says correspondent Farah Omar and camera operator Rabih Al-Me’mari were deliberately targeted by an Israeli warplane after reporting on Israel’s latest bombardment of south Lebanon.

Meanwhile, in northern Gaza, Ayat Khaddura, a 27-year-old digital content and podcast presenter, has been reportedly killed along with her family in an Israeli airstrike. This is Ayat, one of her last video reports.

AYAT KHADDURA: [translated] This may be the last video for me. Today, the occupation dropped phosphorus bombs on the Beit Lahia project area and scary sound bombs and threw evacuation notices in the area. And, of course, almost the entire area has evacuated. Everyone started running madly in the streets. No one knows neither where they’re going to or coming from. We’re separated, of course. I and a few others remain at home, while the rest have evacuated, and we don’t know where they went. The situation is very scary. The situation is very terrifying. What is happening is very difficult. May God have mercy on us.

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, the head of the Gaza Press House was also killed by the Israeli military. Belal Jadallah was heading to southern Gaza when he was killed by an Israeli tank shell in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Belal was known as the “Godfather” of Palestinian journalism. He helped train generations of reporters and welcomed foreign correspondents and sponsored them when covering the Gaza Strip.

The Committee to Protect Journalists Monday announced a grim milestone had been reached with at least 50 journalists and media workers killed since October 7th. Forty-five of the journalists have been Palestinian. There have been three Israeli journalists killed, and there have been at least three Lebanese journalists killed. CPJ reports 11 journalists have been injured, three are reported missing, and 18 have been arrested. According to CPJ, the past month and a half has been the deadliest period of journalists covering the conflict since the media group began tracking these deaths over 30 years ago.

We go now to Philadelphia, where we’re joined by Sherif Mansour, the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Sherif, welcome back to Democracy Now!, under horrific circumstances. The U.N. secretary-general says that the number of civilian deaths is “unparalleled and unprecedented.” Of course, journalists are civilians. As I woke up this morning, I got one text after another, first the young woman and her cameraman in southern Lebanon killed about an hour after she posted a video report. She’s standing in a field in southern Lebanon, and she’s talking about the Israeli military killing civilians. She and her cameraman are then hit and killed. And then, as I’m learning their names, another text comes in. This young reporter in northern Gaza is killed, even as she says in her report, “I fear I will die.” Can you talk about this latest news and then a man you have come to know, who worked with you on a CPJ report, the head of the Gaza journalists’ association, also killed in an airstrike?

SHERIF MANSOUR: Thank you, Amy, for having me.

I remember being on your show a little bit more of a month ago and saying, for journalists in the region, this is a deadly time. And it was the deadliest week back then. It became the deadliest month and now the deadliest six weeks on our record. I was not exaggerating. I was not speculating.

The killing of Belal Jadallah, who helped us document this deadly pattern of journalists being killed by Israeli fire over 21 years — just in May, we made a profile of 20 journalists. The majority, 18, were Palestinians. And he, Jadallah, his center have helped identify them, their families, get us their pictures. And on Sunday, he became a victim of this same deadly pattern when he was killed in his car. Jadallah has also provided crucial safety equipment for journalists in order to do their job safely. And he opened the Press House for journalists to use the electricity and internet when there was no other place.

This deadly pattern has existed before. It’s getting more deadly per day. We are investigating the three more killing today, adding to 50 as of yesterday. We’ve never seen anything like this. It’s unprecedented. And for journalists in Gaza specifically, the exponential risk is possibly the most dangerous we have seen. Journalists were killed in the very early stages at the two entry and exit points from Gaza — in the south, the Rafah crossing; in the north, the Erez crossing. And since then, they were killed everywhere in between. They were killed in the south in Rafah City, in Khan Younis, where they were told it’s going to be safe. They were killed in the middle in the Gaza Strip. And they were killed in the north in Gaza City. They have no safe haven. They have no exit.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Sherif, could you talk, as well, about the arrests of journalists in Gaza and the Occupied Territories? And also, your organization has criticized, as well, Israel for its censorship within Israel of the press in Israel. Could you talk about that, as well?

SHERIF MANSOUR: Well, we have documented separately from the casualties list, which includes journalists going missing, injured, the escalation of arrests. As of yesterday, 18 Palestinian journalists from the West Bank were arrested. Many of them were put in administrative detention, in military prosecutions. In addition, dozens of cases of censorship, direct censorship, cyberattacks, physical assaults, obstruction from coverage within the West Bank and within Israel.

In Israel, an emergency legislation has now given the government for the first time the unprecedented power of shutting down international media organization, including acting on Al Mayadeen — which two journalists were killed today in Lebanon — banning them in Israel, and allowing the government also to jail even Israeli journalists for up to a year under suspicious and these accusations of harming national morale and harming national security.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Also, here in the United States, we are getting much coverage on the commercial media of the war, of the Israeli war in Gaza, but it’s all of U.S. journalists that are basically based in Israel, and there are no U.S. journalists that I’ve seen that are actually in Gaza. And those who do go in only go in with the Israeli army and under the condition that Israel must review all of their videotape beforehand and approve it before it can go out. I’m wondering your sense of how the American people — what kind of story they’re getting as a result of these conditions?

SHERIF MANSOUR: Well, these conditions put local Palestinian photojournalists and freelancers at the most risk. They are the ones on the frontlines. We have not — we have seen a dwindling number of international media and international journalists within Gaza over the years because of the risks involved. And right now the Palestinian journalists are bearing the brunt of this risk and this heavy toll.

Of course, these casualties, the censorship is also coupled with communication blackouts for, to date, since the start of the war, that makes this more often news blackout, not just communication blackout. And, of course, that denies journalists a voice. It also denies people in the region and worldwide of essential media coverage, lifesaving information for 2 million Palestinians who are struggling to find food, clean water and shelter right now, but millions and hundreds of millions all over the world who are following this heartbreaking conflict and try to understand it, including in the U.S.

AMY GOODMAN: So, as Juan said, Sherif, you have — the Israeli military says they cannot guarantee the lives of journalists that go into Gaza. In early November — I’m just thinking back to a few weeks ago — the Palestine News Agency reported that their journalist Mohammad Abu Hattab was killed in an Israeli strike on his home in southern Gaza Strip along with 11 members of his family, including his wife, son and brother. His colleague, journalist Salman Al-Bashir, burst into tears during a live broadcast upon learning of Abu Hattab’s killing. As he spoke, Al-Bashir tore off his helmet and protective vest, labeled “press,” and threw them to the ground. And then there was a split screen, as he ripped off his gear, saying, “Why do we bother wearing this if we’re going to be killed anyway?” They showed the anchor back in the Palestine news studio as she wept as Al-Bashir tore off his helmet and protective vest. Your response to this situation and this whole issue of embedded journalism is the only way the U.S. media can get those reports inside Gaza, where their news reports are reviewed, and the Gazan journalists on the ground being killed one after another, dozens of Palestinian journalists killed?

SHERIF MANSOUR: Well, the Israeli army cannot escape or evade their responsibility under international law not to use unwarranted lethal force against journalists and against media facilities. It would constitute a possible war crime to do so. We have raised directly with Israeli officials the need for them to reform the rules of engagement, to respect press insignia and to ensure there are safeguards, checks when civilians and journalists are around. We have called for Israeli allies, including the U.S. government, European allies, to raise directly these issues, and publicly, with their Israeli counterparts. And we have called for the U.N. Security Council to include safety of journalists on the agenda in any diplomatic discussion.

Of course, the Israeli government are obliged under international law to protect journalists as civilians, but it’s also journalists’ vital role in time of war providing accurate, timely, independent information that gives them these protections under international law. And we want to make sure that the Israeli army, as well, do not continue to push false narratives and smear campaigns to try and justify the killing of those journalists.

AMY GOODMAN: Sherif Mansour, we want to thank you for being with us, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, speaking to us from Philadelphia.

Coming up, the acclaimed Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha has been detained at an Israeli checkpoint in Gaza, his whereabouts now unknown. Back in 20 seconds.

On the topic of the dead, AP reports:

Palestinian health officials in Gaza said Tuesday that they have lost the ability to count the dead because of the collapse of parts of the enclave’s health system and the difficulty of retrieving bodies from areas overrun by Israeli tanks and troops.

The Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which carefully tracked casualties over the first five weeks of war, gave its most recent death toll of 11,078 on Nov. 10. The United Nations humanitarian office, which cites the Health Ministry death toll in its regular reports, still refers to 11,078 as the last verified death toll from the war.

One thing that doesn't die?  Lying by the Israeli government.  Arun Gupta (ZNET) explains:

Israeli propaganda is bad, really bad, comically bad

There are fake stories about Hamas beheading babies, and even beheading a fetus. There are outlandish claims of “mass rape so brutal that they broke their victims’ pelvis – women, grandmothers, children.” 

There is a fake Al Qaeda manual found on a dead Hamas fighter emblazoned with “Al Qaeda” in English on its cover. There’s a pristine copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf found in a child’s room of a Hamas “terrorism hub.

There’s the Israeli video of a fake nurse at al-Shifa Hospital ranting about Hamas stealing morphine and fuel that was seen more than 12 million times before being deleted. There’s Israeli footage of a Hamas tunnel under a hospital that turned out to be a Swedish Cold War-era bunker

There’s video of IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari, the face of Israeli propaganda, touring a fake Hamas bunker where he said hostages were imprisoned under a children’s hospital. In the video Hagari points to a schedule in Arabic posted to a wall where “every terrorist writes his name” to take turns guarding hostages. In reality, the paper was a shift timetable with dates and days and no names.

As laughably bad as the propaganda is, it gets worse. After besieging hospitals in North Gaza for a week, Israel says it has proof that the largest hospital, al-Shifa, was a Hamas command center. Its evidence? An IDF video showing “about 10 guns.” 

That’s it  — 10 guns, some ammo, vests, uniforms. That’s all the “evidence” the Israelis could muster in a sprawling 10-acre complex with six separate hospitals and medical facilities. Shifa is so large that in October, 50,000 Gazans were sheltering there from relentless Israeli bombing. 

That simple fact, 117,000 displaced Gazans had taken refuge at Shifa and other hospitals in North Gaza, points to the real story. On Oct. 13 Israel issued orders for hospitals in North Gaza to evacuate, which the World Health Organization called a “death sentence” for thousands of injured and sick patients. Amnesty International said the orders amounted to “forced evacuation” and would violate international humanitarian law. 

On Oct. 14, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights warned that “in the name of self-defense, Israel is seeking to justify what would amount to ethnic cleansing.”

That is Israel’s main goal in its war on Gaza hospitals. It is attacking places with the greatest protection under international law to show no place is safe. Routing terrified refugees from shelter in hospitals is necessary for Israel to ethnically cleanse the northern half and perhaps the entirety of Gaza.

Leaders of major emerging economies called for an end to Israel’s war on Gaza on Tuesday, and for a cessation of hostilities on both sides to ease the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In a virtual summit chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the BRICS grouping denounced attacks on civilians in Palestine and Israel, with many leaders calling the forced displacement of Palestinians, within Gaza or outside the territory, “war crimes.”

“We condemned any kind of individual or mass forcible transfer and deportation of Palestinians from their own land,” a chair’s summary read. The group, which did not issue a joint declaration, also “reiterated that the forced transfer and deportation of Palestinians, whether inside Gaza or to neighbouring countries, constitute grave breaches of the Geneva conventions and war crimes and violations under International Humanitarian Law.”

The BRICS is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all major emerging economies looking for a greater say in a global order long dominated by the United States and its Western allies. These countries are often viewed as leaders of what is referred to in international policy speak as the “Global South”.

In the US?  Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) notes, "Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon became just the second senator to demand a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, joining Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. Merkley wrote, 'By waging a war that generates a shocking level of civilian carnage rather than a targeted campaign against Hamas, Israel is burning through its reserves of international support. Too many civilians and too many children have died, and we must value each and every child equally whether they are Israeli or Palestinian'."  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

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

We turn now to the growing calls for a ceasefire in Gaza coming from lawmakers in Washington. On Monday, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon became the second senator to demand a ceasefire, joining Dick Durbin of Illinois. According to one count, 42 members of Congress have now called for a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities in Israel and occupied Palestine.

We’re joined now by Democratic Congressmember Becca Balint of Vermont. Last week she became the first Jewish member of Congress to call for a ceasefire.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Congressmember Balint. Thanks so much for joining us. Talk about why you’ve made this decision. You’re senator from Vermont. Bernie Sanders is not there yet, but you are. Talk about why.

REP. BECCA BALINT: So, I want to be really clear, Amy, with folks who are listening and watching, that I wrote the op-ed to express to Vermonters — it was really geared towards my constituents, and I should have anticipated that it might get national attention, but I actually didn’t. So, I wrote it for Vermonters, and what I wanted to do was really give voice to all the things that I had been feeling and thinking and wrestling with since the beginning of October, and wanted to articulate clearly for Vermonters what I thought needed to happen, so, you know, wanted to just lay it out there: The horrific violence has to stop. Hostages must be released. We have to end the suffering in Gaza. Palestinians and Israelis both deserve safety and security. And now more than ever, I believe that we need a true, negotiated ceasefire to get to a two-state solution.

And as you mentioned, both my senators here in Vermont have not yet made the call. But I know, in my conversations with them, that we actually want the same things. Where we differ is just in the strategy that is needed to get us there. But we all want to find a way to stop the violence, to stop the bombing. We don’t want to continue to see innocent civilians, including so many children and babies, die. And I just felt that it was really important for me to articulate clearly for Vermonters all of the complexity I was holding. And I honestly — when we released the op-ed, I was very focused on how my constituents would feel about what I said, and I didn’t anticipate that I was the first Jewish member of Congress to call specifically for a negotiated ceasefire, because I know we’ve been saying a lot of the same things for weeks. So, what I do know is there are no exact words right now that will sum up the totality of what we are all thinking and feeling about this situation, but I do know that we have complete agreement on an immediate cessation of hostilities, pausing the violence, ending the suffering, and trying to get to a negotiated ceasefire that will hold.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Representative, you’ve said that you and Representative Rashida Tlaib have been brought together by your people’s suffering and are now friends. Could you talk about the vitriol directed toward her as the only — 


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: — Palestinian congresswoman?

REP. BECCA BALINT: Yes. I really appreciate the question. It’s disgusting. The Islamophobia right now is completely and totally out of control. And I was disgusted by the fact that colleagues are trying to go after the one Palestinian American member of Congress.

And as I said, you know, Rashida and I became friends early on in my tenure. We were brought together, I think, by — we both have big hearts. And she’s known a little bit like a mama bear in the caucus. She is very loving and gentle towards, you know, specifically new members, like making sure we have what we needed. I was really drawn to her because we are, as I said, two people that have people within our family that have endured suffering over a very long time. We are both parents to teenagers, and we share the struggles of that.

And actually, I don’t think it’s betraying a trust to say, you know, she sent me a message last week saying what she hopes is that in the future she and I will be able to walk together in a true democratic Palestine and in Israel, both of us together as friends, as people who understand the horrific suffering that is going on right now.

And I have really tried to use my platform, and will continue to do so, to stand up against the Islamophobia, and also the antisemitism. And we’ve discussed this, as well, that you can be critical of Israel, and you should be critical of Israel and Netanyahu and the policies — and I’ve never shied away from that — and I also am very uncomfortable in this moment by some of the outrageous antisemitism hurled at Jewish members of Congress, specifically progressive Jewish members of Congress who are trying to do the right thing in figuring out the correct strategy going forward. But, you know, Rashida will always be what I call one of my heart people.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, on the day after Rashida Tlaib was censured by the House of Representatives, we brought on Marione Ingram, 87-year-old Holocaust survivor, protesting outside the White House, calling for a ceasefire, and she condemned the censure —


AMY GOODMAN: — of your colleague, [Representative] Tlaib.

I want to thank you very much, Democratic Congressmember Becca Balint of Vermont. She is the first openly LGBTQ member to represent Vermont in Congress, the first congresswoman to represent Vermont, and now the first Jewish member of Congress to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. We’ll link to her op-ed in the VTDigger headlined “Cease-fire needed to stop bloodshed in Israel-Hamas conflict.”

Coming up, we go to Argentina, where the far-right political outsider Javier Milei has been elected president. He’s called “the Trump of Argentina.” The first to congratulate him was President Trump and the former Brazilian President Bolsonaro. Back in 20 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: “En el país de la libertad,” “In a Country of Liberty,” by the Argentine León Gieco, who signed a letter protesting Milei’s erasure of the horrors of Argentina’s 1976 to 1983 right-wing dictatorship that killed over 30,000 Argentinians.

The following sites updated: