3/21/2024

the g.o.p. continues to commit suicide in public



ever notice how some people can't seem to help being idiots?  charisma madarang ('rolling stone') reports:



A caucus representing most House Republican lawmakers endorsed a national abortion ban on Wednesday. 

The Republican Study Committee (RSC), which includes nearly 80 percent of all House Republicans, released its 2025 budget proposal on Wednesday, titled "Fiscal Sanity to Save America." Despite being billed as a budget plan, it is a highly ideological document. 

"The gift of life is precious and should be protected," the document states, adding that the "RSC celebrates the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision," the case by which the Supreme Court overturned federal protections for abortion rights. 

The document goes much further: It endorses a 15-week national abortion ban as well as legislation that could eliminate access to in vitro fertilization, or IVF. In an email to reporters Wednesday night, the Biden White House tied the document to former President Donald Trump, trumpeting news that the "Trump Republican budget would ban abortion nationwide [and] rip away IVF access."


idiots.  it's not just that i disagree with their move (i do disagree), it's also that it's flat out stupid in terms of seeking votes.  sarah stogner is a woman in texas who is a republican and is running for public office.  this is from a column she just wrote for 'newsweek:'


Just like many true conservatives, I personally consider myself "pro-life" in how I feel about abortion. But I also recognize that the government should keep out of these private decisions for women to make. As the Kaiser Family Foundation reported, women across the board—including 70 percent of Republican women—overwhelmingly say that "decisions about abortion should be made by women and their health care providers."

These decisions often involve women's health and lives. Here in Texas, our state's abortion law has "made miscarriages more dangerous and more devastating," The Dallas Morning News said in an editorial.

Washington's intrusion into this issue is as "big government" as it gets—something the Republican Party is supposed to be against. But the GOP is plowing ahead with all sorts of abortion ban efforts anyway, as though somehow party leaders hope that women won't notice or care. Even Ann Coulter has called on the party to stop, warning that "there will be no Republicans left."


 even with members of their own party warning them, they just can't see reality.


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


Thursday, March 21, 2024.  Marianna Williamson continues her political campaign, the Kennedy family shows support for their candidate, the assault on Gaza continues and includes attacks on journalists and medical professionals, and much more.


Starting in the US, this week saw primaries on Tuesday.  In Arizona, Marianne Williamson received 3.5% of the vote coming in second to Joe Biden who got 89.5%.  In Illinois, she got 3.6% -- also coming in second.  She was not on the ballot in Ohio but she came in third in Kansas with 3.4% -- second to Joe there went to "None of the Names Shown" which got 10.3%.


Marianne continues on the campaign trail.  Yes, Joe has gotten enough pledged delegates to claim the nomination.  But issues are not being addressed and a conversation is not taking place.  That's why Marianne unsuspended her campaign a few weeks ago and got back into the race. 

NBC NEWS reported this week on Marianne's campaign.


Click here for the text version of the NBC NEWS report but, from both, let's note this:

 

Imran, Sisa and the rest of Vote Ceasefire AZ have set an attainable symbolic goal for Williamson on Tuesday. 

“We believe reaching 10,000 would be making a strong statement,” Imran said, because it’s roughly the size of Biden’s margin over former President Donald Trump in Arizona in 2020. 


A strong statement would be 10,000.  So did they make it?

No.

They surpassed it -- Marianne got 14,229 votes.  Repeating.
 

“We believe reaching 10,000 would be making a strong statement,” Imran said, because it’s roughly the size of Biden’s margin over former President Donald Trump in Arizona in 2020. 


Marianne's got an event tonight and one tomorrow -- both in New Orleans:



In other campaign news, Joe's supporters are registering their support.  Such as over the weekend where various people assembled at the White House during the Saint Patrick's Day events.  There was Kerry Kennedy . . . 


And Rory . . . 

And Amy . . . 



In fact, there was a huge number present.  Virginia Chamlee (PEOPLE) reported:


 It was a Kennedy family affair at the White House over the weekend, as President Joe Biden hosted more than a dozen members of the family in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, shared a photo of the family at the White House on Sunday, captioning the image with a quote she attributed to Biden: “It’s not enough to wish the world were better, you must make the world better."

"President Biden, you make the world better. Happy St. Patrick’s Day," she added, tagging other members of the family also pictured, including Mariah Kennedy-Cuomo (her daughter with former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo) and sister Rory Kennedy.



But there was one notable absence that could hardly be ignored.

A White House visit Sunday by dozens of family members of President John F. Kennedy did not include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running as an independent against Biden in the 2024 presidential election.

 
Poor Junior, he's become the Billy Carter of the family.




Israeli forces detained Palestinian journalists and health workers, blindfolded them and stripped them down to their underwear in Al-Shifa Hospital, in northern Gaza, according to eyewitness accounts shared with CNN.

Palestinian reporters and hospital staff described scenes of humiliating interrogations where colleagues had been undressed and left outside in the cold, after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) laid siege to the largest hospital in the enclave in the early hours of Monday. One man who was detained told CNN Israeli forces released him without his ID or mobile phone.     

[. . .]

             CNN also received an account from Dr Marwan Abu Saada, head of surgery at Al-Shifa. Abu Saada was not at the hospital when the Israeli raid began on Monday. He said on Tuesday that colleagues who had been permitted to leave the hospital reported Israeli troops breaking into most of the hospital buildings.

He said male medical staff were forced to strip and left “for hours in the cold,” an assertion made by other men who have been released from the area. “They scanned their faces with a camera and took them one by one for humiliating investigation,” he said in the account, shared with CNN by a colleague.

“Many were arrested and were taken to an unknown place, some were forced to leave the hospital and displaced to the south half naked, and others were ordered to go back to the hospital,” added Abu Saada.

“Soldiers assaulted and violated our medical staff and workers in Al-Shifa Hospital, left them without food or water for two days, taking into consideration that this is the month of Ramadan and they are fasting.”     


Let's drop back to Saturday to note this:

Netanyahu also has problems in the US.  CNN reports, "US President Joe Biden described Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s floor speech criticizing Netanyahu as “good,” saying the New York Democrat “expressed serious concern” that is shared by many Americans. Biden said Schumer had contacted his senior staff beforehand to let the White House know he’d be making the speech."  And Lauren Gambino (GUARDIAN) reports:
 
Joe Biden should use his leverage and the law to pressure Israel to change how it is prosecuting the war in Gaza, the Democratic senator Chris Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, is among a group of senators urging Biden to stop providing Israel with offensive weapons until it lifts restrictions on the delivery of food and medicine into Gaza, where children are now dying of hunger and famine looms.

“We need the president and the Biden administration to push harder and to use all the levers of US policy to ensure people don’t die of starvation,” Van Hollen said in an interview on Friday.

This week, Van Hollen and seven of his colleagues sent a letter to the president arguing that Israel was in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act, a section of which prohibits the sale and transfer of military weapons to any nation that restricts the delivery of US aid.


Amy Goodman spoke with Van Hollen on yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!



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

In Gaza, the Israeli military’s brutal attack on Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, is continuing for the third day. Dozens have been killed, others forced to evacuate amidst intense bombardment and shelling on the hospital and surrounding area. Tens of thousands of wounded and displaced Palestinians have been seeking shelter at Shifa. The Israeli army said in a statement it had, quote, “eliminated” 90 people at the hospital and detained 300. Among those arrested was Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Eliwa. His arrest comes two days after another Al Jazeera journalist, Ismail al-Ghoul, was beaten, stripped naked and detained in the cold for 12 hours before he was released.

Elsewhere in Gaza, 24 people were killed in an Israeli attack at the Kuwait Roundabout, where Palestinians had gathered for aid. Another 27 were killed in an Israeli attack on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. Among those killed yesterday was Raed al-Banna, the director of police investigations in northern Gaza, responsible for securing and facilitating the entry of aid trucks into northern Gaza. His death comes one day after Israeli forces killed another senior police officer in Gaza, Faiq Mabhouh, who was in charge of coordinating aid distribution in the north. This comes as the World Health Organization warned Tuesday many infants in Gaza are on the “brink of death” due to the lack of food.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his determination to invade Gaza’s southernmost town, Rafah, where some 1.4 million people from across Gaza have been forcibly displaced. On Monday, Netanyahu agreed in a phone call with President Biden to send a team of Israeli officials to Washington to meet with Biden administration officials, after Biden urged him to find an “alternative approach” to a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah. But on Tuesday, Netanyahu told a parliamentary committee that while he would listen to U.S. proposals “out of respect” for Biden, he said, quote, “We are determined to complete the elimination of these Hamas battalions in Rafah. There’s no way to do this without a ground incursion,” he said.

The official death toll in Gaza is approaching 32,000, with over 74,000 people wounded.

For more, we’re joined by Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. In January, he traveled to the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. He’s joining us from Kensington, Maryland.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, welcome back to Democracy Now! Thank you so much for joining us. Can you talk about Netanyahu’s threat to launch a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah, and what you want Biden to tell him?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well, Amy, it’s good to be with you.

Since my visit to Rafah in January, things have gotten even worse. The situation — the humanitarian situation in Gaza is even more catastrophic. And now, as you said, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said he’s going to ignore President Biden’s requests and launch a full-scale invasion of Rafah.

You know, President Biden was right, in my view, to say that that would be a red line, that you can’t cross it. And so, now it’s going to be very important that the president and the Biden administration back that up and make it clear that they will hold the prime minister accountable.

As you know, the Netanyahu government is going to be sending some officials to Washington this week to discuss how they might go about this Rafah invasion. And I’m very worried, Amy, that the Biden administration will simply get dragged into the planning of this, something that is bound to go terribly wrong, based on what’s happened already in the months of war in Gaza, and then somehow become complicit in Netanyahu’s actions in Rafah. So, I would warn the administration not to get sucked into this, because we’ve seen time and again that at the end of the day, Prime Minister Netanyahu simply ignores the president of the United States. And so we need to do more to make Netanyahu accountable for our requests.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to play some of what you said on the Senate floor in February about the withholding of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Kids in Gaza are now dying from the deliberate withholding of food. In addition to the horror of that news, one other thing is true: That is a war crime. It is a textbook war crime. … And that makes those who orchestrate it war criminals.

AMY GOODMAN: So, are you clearly calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a war criminal?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well, Amy, I’m calling those who are responsible for these actions, having committed a war crime. And at that moment, it was the moment that we first learned — I learned from Cindy McCain and others — that kids had gone from being on the verge of starvation to having died of starvation. And Smotrich, who is the finance minister, was holding up thousands and thousands of pounds of flour at the Port of Ashdod, flour that could reach starving kids and others in Gaza. Ben-Gvir was calling on, you know, folks down at Kerem Shalom, protesters, to continue to protest, and saying that the police officials should not intervene, and allow the blockage to continue.

So, ultimately, my view is that we’re going to have to look into all of this, but for now we just need to do what President Biden has said needs to be done, which is, for goodness’ sakes, lift these restrictions that are in place that are creating this humanitarian disaster in Gaza. We just learned yesterday that the highest number of people facing catastrophic hunger at any time, at least in recent history, are in Gaza today.

AMY GOODMAN: In February, the Senate passed a bill that includes $14 billion for Israel’s assault on Gaza, along with $60 billion for Ukraine, $8 billion for Indo-Pacific allies like Taiwan. The bill also strips U.S. funding for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. You have been very critical of that, yet you voted for the bill. Why?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well, in my view, Amy, we desperately need to get the Ukrainian people the weapons that they need to rebuff Putin’s assault. And this was the only way forward to accomplishing that. That bill also included $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for people around the world, including $1.4 billion for humanitarian assistance to help those suffering in Gaza.

The UNRWA provision is incredibly problematical. But in that bill, which was a supplemental one-time bill, it would not have disrupted the annual U.S. appropriations for UNRWA, which are actually being discussed and debated as we speak with respect to the foreign operations bill for this month.

So, in my view, that bill, the supplemental bill, was necessary in order to make sure that we got weapons to help the folks in Ukraine repel Putin’s brutal assault, and we could revisit, as we are now, the UNRWA issue. Now, I am very worried, as we speak, that Republicans have insisted that in the current appropriations bill, that we no longer fund UNRWA. This would be a huge mistake.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to — well, you have independent Senator Bernie Sanders opposing the bill, joined by two other Democratic senators who broke ranks with the party: Jeff Merkley, who went with you to the Rafah border crossing, and also the other Vermont senator, Peter Welch. This is Welch on the floor of the Senate.

SEN. PETER WELCH: I voted against the supplemental for one key reason: I cannot, in good conscience, support sending billions of additional taxpayer dollars for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s military campaign in Gaza. It’s a campaign that has killed and wounded a shocking number of civilians. It’s created a massive humanitarian crisis with no end in sight. It’s inflamed tensions in the Middle East, eroding support among Arab states that had been aligned with Israel. And, of course, it has severely compromised any remaining hope — almost all remaining hope — for the two-state solution, that we all know is ultimately essential for peace in the Middle East.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Chris Van Hollen, do you disagree with your fellow colleague? You have been so outspoken on this issue, as well, though took a different stance on voting for the bill.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: I don’t agree — I don’t disagree with what Peter said about the situation. But, as I said, if the Senate had not passed this piece of legislation, Ukraine would fall to Putin. So, you know, these are difficult choices that we made. I think that allowing Ukraine to fall to Vladimir Putin would be a historic mistake.

So, what I’ve done, Amy, is focus on making sure that we try to hold up — excuse me — hold up the arms transfers at the time they are noticed by the Biden administration, until the Netanyahu government meets requirements with respect to allowing humanitarian assistance in and other criteria, which is why a group of us, including Peter and others, wrote to President Biden just a little while ago, saying, “Mr. President, please enforce current law, which is the Humanitarian Aid Corridors Act, which says that if a country is essentially preventing or restricting humanitarian assistance from getting in, then you have to, Mr. President, not allow offensive weapons to be provided, as long as that situation continues.” So, there are other mechanisms we have that we should be using right now to address that situation.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m wondering if you can respond to Donald Trump, the former president, who was speaking on Sebastian Gorka’s podcast and also put out a statement. He’s facing widespread criticism. This is part of what he said.

DONALD TRUMP: When you see those Palestinian marches, even I, I’m amazed at how many people are in those marches. And guys like Schumer see that, and, to him, it’s votes. I think it’s votes more than anything else, because he was always pro-Israel. He’s very anti-Israel now. Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion, they hate everything about Israel, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

AMY GOODMAN: He called Democrats antisemitic. Also, his son-in-law, former adviser Jared Kushner, I want to turn to what Jared Kushner just said. Jared Kushner is talking about weighing in on Israel’s war on Gaza, saying Israel should move Palestinians out of Rafah, which he said contains valuable waterfront property. Your responses to what many are saying is the front-runner in the presidential race right now, Donald Trump, and his son-in-law, who was one of his top advisers?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well, Amy, this is — here we go — Donald Trump again. Donald Trump thinks you cannot be pro-American without being pro-Donald Trump. He equates the two. In his mind, it’s heresy if you don’t believe and say you want Donald Trump leading our country. In the same way, you know, he thinks if you don’t support all the policies of Netanyahu and Smotrich and Ben-Gvir sometime, you’re opposed to Israel.

The reality, as we all know, is you can be very pro-American without supporting Trump policies. In fact, I would argue that it’s a duty of ours as Americans to make sure that we defeat Trump’s heinous policies here at home. Similarly, you can be pro-Israel and the people of Israel and understand the trauma after the atrocious October 7th attacks, without supporting the policies of the Netanyahu government —

AMY GOODMAN: And yet — 

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: — of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich and this extreme right.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, Senator, many people are extremely frustrated, Democrats and progressives, with President Biden. You have expressed criticism. I mean, the fact that the Biden administration has approved, really secretly, just keeping it right under the threshold, over a hundred U.S. weapons sales to Netanyahu, to Israel, to carry out these attacks on Gaza that have killed at this point near 32,000 people, and have engaged in food drops from the air and building a pier, because Israel is using those very bombs to attack the people of Gaza, and that gets in the way of food trucks. Are you equally critical of President Biden and what he’s doing, and what your final words would be for him, as, increasingly, young people, people of color, Arab American population and many Jews are utterly frustrated with and say they won’t vote for the Democratic candidate for president, President Biden?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well, Amy, you’re right. I’ve expressed my strong frustration with the Biden administration for, essentially, not backing up the president’s demands and insistence that the Netanyahu government change course with actions — for example, implementing the Humanitarian Aid Corridors Act or, right now, in the coming days, making sure they enforce the provisions of National Security Memorandum No. 20 with respect to the responsibilities of the Netanyahu government to allow aid into Gaza.

So, I do believe that the Biden administration needs to do a lot more. I have said that when you insist on the Netanyahu government doing one thing and then don’t back it up, it does weaken our credibility, and it essentially sends a message to others around the world that you can do what Netanyahu is doing, which is, you know, ignore American requests without any consequence at all. So, I have expressed that frustration.

I’m continuing to push the Biden administration to do more. And I really hope that the Biden administration will change course. Again, I hope, in the sense that I hope they won’t get sucked into a major invasion in Rafah. And I think that they need to make sure that in the coming days — and Sunday is the real deadline — that they will enforce the provisions of National Security Memorandum 20, because, in my view, there’s no way to determine with a straight face that right now the Netanyahu government is facilitating, and not arbitrarily restricting, directly or indirectly, humanitarian aid into Gaza. And we can see it with our own eyes. We can hear it from the people who are on the ground. So, it’s really important that the Biden administration enforce those provisions, or, in my view, their credibility will be — will be even more undermined.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Chris Van Hollen, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Democratic senator from Maryland. Thank you.


Gaza remains under assault. Day 167 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse." THE HINDUSTAN TIMES notes, "The death toll in Gaza since Oct. 7 has surpassed 31,900, including at least 27 people who have died of malnutrition, according to the enclave's Health Ministry. Another 73,500 have been reported injured."  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."   



The following sites updated:


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3/20/2024

season 3 episode 3 'the cleaning lady'




last night, episode 3 of season 3 of 'the cleaning lady' aired on 'fox.'  

and?  

i just don't know.  is every 1 an idiot?

and would that mean we are too for watching the show?

thony is supposed to be cleaning crime scenes to get her sister-in-law fi and fi's son chris back in the united states.  they are being smuggled from manilla through mexico back to the u.s.  so this episode where she finds a woman in pain at the crime scene who's just given brith and she risks everything to save the woman?

ramona is furious.  jorge is furious.  the social worker - who helps thony save the new mom - is furious.

thony's a doctor.  maybe we can forgive it.

but?

fi and chris are supposed to keep a low profile.  chris rescuing a young woman by paying the coyotes when she can't cover the cost herself?  flashing that wad of money (that his father gave him last episode) around?  is he begging for them to be killed?

then it happens and again.  finally, he is beating up on a man who could kiss his rear when he and fi need to be on a van and leaving.  but he's defending the young lady again.

chris and fi are now screwed.

their job was to make it home.

chris didn't know to keep his head down and stop trying to be a hero.

i got really mad when fi had to jump into the fight to save him.  i thought, if she gets hurt because of him ...

fortunately, that did not happen.  but they were being smuggled into the country and there was no need to risk everything the way chris did over and over.

they're now lost and alone.  next episode, thony tries to go find them.

nadia saw footage of when arman was seized.  because he was alive then she thinks he is now.  she goes to thony and quickly learns thony is working with the cartel.  she runs to the f.b.i. agent for a deal and is willing to rat thony out only to learn that there will be no deal that will save arman.  the f.b.i., due to past broken deals with arman, will not make a deal with him again.


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


Wednesday, March 20, 2024.  Not sure everyone got the party invite but the illegal Iraq War turned 21 today and, yes, US troops remain on the ground in Iraq, UK and US doctors testify about the horrors they witnessed in Gaza, calls grow for the US government to follow Canada's lead and stop supplying weapons to the government of Israel, and much more.



A United Nations mission set up to help Iraq investigate alleged Islamic State genocide and war crimes is being forced to shut down prematurely before it can finish its probes, following a souring of its relationship with the Iraqi government.

The removal of the UN mission set up in 2017 comes nearly a decade after the extremist group rampaged across Syria and Iraq and at a time when many of the Islamic State’s victims still live displaced in camps and long for justice.

“Is the work done? Not yet, this is pretty clear,” Christian Ritscher, head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh (UNITAD), told Reuters in an interview.


Probes don't go well in Iraq where corruption remains the main characteristic of every government the US has installed there since 2003.  


You could argue the corruption in the life of 57-year-old  Najah Al-Shammari is reflective of the corruption in Iraq.  Najah is the country's former Minister of Defense.  And he was arrested this week.  Not in Iraq.  Let's back up and use WIKIPEDIA for a few basics:

On June 24, 2019, al-Shammari was approved by the Iraqi parliament as defence minister of Iraq in Adil Abdul-Mahdi's cabinet.[1][2] He was nominated to the post by the al-Wataniya coalition, led by former prime minister and then vice president of Iraq Ayad Allawi.[2][6]

Reports of dual Iraqi-Swedish citizenship and criminal charges in Sweden

In April 2019, prior to the nomination of al-Shammari as a candidate for the post of defence minister, there were reports in Iraqi media that al-Shammari has dual Iraqi-Swedish citizenship.[6] The claims were rejected as false by a representative of the al-Wataniya coalition.[6]

In November 2019, the Swedish news website Nyheter Idag reported that al-Shammari is a Swedish citizen registered as a resident in a Stockholm suburb under an alternative surname (this surname was reported to be the name of al-Shammari's clan within the Shammar tribe).[4] According to the report, which was confirmed by Swedish authorities, al-Shammari applied for a residence permit in Sweden in 2009 and became a Swedish citizen in 2015.[4][7] It was also reported that al-Shammari was granted several state welfare benefits in Sweden, including full time sick leave, while he did not declare any (or for some years only very low) income from work.[4][7] He has also been the subject of several criminal investigations in Sweden, although he was never convicted of a crime.[4][7]

Al-Shammari was also accused of sexually harassing a Swedish 20-year-old male while being Defense Minister in leaked text messages,[8] although no other news sources have corroborated the allegation.

The Swedish police launched a preliminary investigation into benefit fraud and civil registration violations against al-Shammari after allegedly claiming child and housing support for years despite living in Baghdad.[9][10] The Swedish Prosecution Authority also announced that it had started an investigation for crimes against humanity against "an Iraqi minister", whom Swedish media identified as al-Shammari.[9][11] Criminal charges were subsequently dropped and al-Shammari returned to Sweden.[12]


He lied.  He had dual citizenship -- which so many Iraqi officials lie about.  AFP reported yesterday, "Former Iraqi defense minister Najah Al-Shammari was briefly arrested after arriving in Sweden, where he is suspected of benefits fraud, the prosecutor investigating the case said Tuesday.  Public prosecutor Jens Nilsson told AFP that Shammari was detained on Monday when he landed at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport since an arrest warrant had been issued."


Najah is a 57-year-old disgrace.  

The Iraq War?  Buy it a drink, it's now a 21-year-old disgrace -- legal to drink in the US.  

US troops remain on the ground in Iraq all this time later.  Republican or Democrat, no US president has pulled the troops out.  Republican-led or Democratic-led, no US Congress has demanded the troops be brought home.  

Nothing has been accomplished other than creating a land of orphans and widows.

21 years later and US forces still can't come home.  

 

My name is Penny Evans and my age is twenty-one
I'm a widow of the war that was fought in Vietnam
I have two baby daughters and I do the best I can
They say the war is over but I think it's just begun

I remember I was seventeen when first I met my Bill
At his father's grand piano we played old 'Heart and Soul'
I only knew the left hand part, he knew the right so well
He's the only boy I slept with, and the only one I will

First we had a baby girl, we had two good years
And next the warning notice came, we parted without tears
Then it's nine months from our last goodbye our second child appears
And it's ten months and a telegram confirming all our fears

So once a month I get a check from some army bureaucrat
And once a month I tear it up and mail the damn thing back
Do they think that makes it all right? Do they think I'll fall for that?
They can keep their bloody money, it won't bring my Billy back

I never cared for politics, speeches I don't understand
Likewise I'll take no charity from any living man
But tonight there's fifty thousand gone in that unhappy land
And fifty thousand 'Heart and Souls' being played with just one hand

My name is Penny Evans and my age is twenty-one
I'm a widow of the war that was fought in Vietnam
I have two baby daughters - thank God I have no son
They say the war is over but I think it's just begun 

-- Bella Gaffney performing Steve Goodman's "The Ballad of Penny Evans."

They say the war is over but US troops remain on the ground in Iraq.  21 years.  How long will the assault on Gaza last?


U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that the Biden administration must follow Canada's government in halting arms exports to Israel, a call that came after humanitarian groups refuted the Israeli government's claim that its use of American weaponry in Gaza has been in line with international law.

Sanders (I-Vt.) said the Canadian Parliament was "absolutely right" to vote to stop weapons exports to Israel, whose military has killed more than 31,800 people in Gaza in less than six months—often using explosives, ammunition, and other equipment supplied by the U.S., Canada, Germany, and other countries.

"Given the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, including widespread and growing starvation, the U.S. should not provide another nickel for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's war machine," said Sanders.

Canadian lawmakers on Monday approved a nonbinding motion calling on the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to "cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada's arms export regime."

Shortly following the vote, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister MĂ©lanie Joly told the Toronto Star that the government would stop exporting arms to Israel in line with the motion's demand. In the three months after the Hamas-led attack on October 7, Canada exported at least $28.5 million worth of military equipment to Israel, according to Global Affairs Canada.



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




AMY GOODMAN: Famine is imminent in northern Gaza. That’s according to a U.N.-backed report published Monday. The latest findings say virtually everyone in Gaza is struggling to get enough food and that nearly a third of the population of 2.3 million people are experiencing the highest levels of catastrophic hunger. At least 27 people, mostly children, have died from malnutrition and dehydration in the north. According to the new report, the death rate is expected to accelerate and reach famine levels soon.

The World Health Organization said in a statement, quote, “The IPC report confirms what we, our UN partners and NGOs have been witnessing and reporting for months. When our missions reach hospitals, we meet exhausted and hungry health workers who ask us for food and water. We see patients trying to recover from life-saving surgeries and losses of limbs, or sick with cancer or diabetes, mothers who have just given birth, or newborn babies, all suffering from hunger and the diseases that stalk it,” end-quote.

This comes as the Israeli military launched another major raid on Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City Monday with Israeli forces backed by tanks and artillery surrounding the complex and troops storming into a number of buildings. The Health Ministry said about 30,000 people had been sheltering at the hospital, which is the largest hospital in Gaza, and that everyone who tries to move is targeted by sniper bullets and quadcopters, they said. Among those killed in the raid was Faiq Mabhouh, a senior office in the Gaza police who was in charge of coordinating aid distribution in the north.

Meanwhile, President Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a telephone call Monday that an invasion of Rafah would be a mistake, and called on Netanyahu to send a team of officials to Washington to discuss “an alternative approach” to targeting Hamas in Rafah without a major ground invasion. Israel has continued to bomb Rafah almost daily, prompting the Palestinian Foreign Ministry to say Israel has already begun its large-scale attack on the area.

The death toll in Gaza is close to 32,000, over a third of them children, while nearly 74,000 people have been injured.

For more, we’re joined by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian physician, activist, politician. He serves as general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative. He’s joining us from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Dr. Barghouti, welcome back to Democracy Now! Let’s talk about this issue of famine, doctors describing the wasting that you see, for example, at the temples of people who are dying of starvation, particularly children. Can you talk about what this means and when these officials in the U.N. and other bodies talk about this “man-made” disaster?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, the reality is that the whole of Gaza population, 2.3 million people, are suffering from malnutrition already. That includes children, men, women, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, everybody. And that is because of the Israeli-imposed siege on Gaza, which is combined with continuous bombardment that is taking away the lives of people. But it is also combined with the fact that Israel has destroyed more than 70% of people’s homes. They don’t have normal place to be in. They don’t have normal clothes. They don’t have clean water to drink. And they don’t have food supplies.

And this is all happening in front of the world. We’re talking about famine. We’re talking about hunger. And we are talking about actually 700,000 people starving now in the north of Gaza, that includes also Gaza City, of whom 350,000 are children. And that’s why I think almost 30 people — 30 children children have died because of starvation already. This is all happening because of the Israeli siege, because nobody in the world — not the United States, not Europe, not the international community as a whole — is capable of forcing Israel to stop this terrible crime of collective punishment against a whole population. And Israel will not change its policy and its approach without sanctions. The world should impose sanctions on Israel to force it to open the routes of supplies of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza and to accept a ceasefire, because even if supplies are there and the bombardment continues, people will survive to die. That is the reality of the situation.

Today, 5% of the total population of Gaza have been killed or injured. We’re talking about almost 120,000 people. If that had happened in the United States of America, you would be talking about almost 12 million people killed or injured in five months of this terrible war. So that is the reality of the situation. But add to that, malnutrition causes low immunity. Lack of water causes diseases. There is an outbreak of certain diseases like infectious hepatitis, which has already affected 10,000 people. We have 32 medical teams from our organization, Palestinian Medical Relief Society, working in Gaza, and they report horrible reports. About 1 million people at this very moment in Gaza are sick with respiratory diseases, with gastrointestinal infections, with diarrhea, with hepatitis. And our biggest worry is the outbreak of certain infections among children because these children in Gaza have not had vaccination for more than 165 days.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about — I think it’s the fourth raid now on Al-Shifa? And they say tens of thousands of people have taken refuge there, the Israeli military and spokespeople saying they’re very careful, they have highly trained forces, that they separate the civilians from the militants, and them talking about a high-level Hamas official, Faiq Mabhouh, killing him, along with other fighters — Mabhouh apparently a top food — the person in charge of food distribution in the north.

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: First of all, the Israeli army is lying when they say that they differentiate between civilians and noncivilians. How can this explain the fact that more than 80% of the people who were killed are civilians, women and children mainly? How can they explain that 70% of everybody killed are children and women? They lie. And they lie around the clock. And each time, they are caught with a crime that is obvious, like shooting the people who are starving in the north, trying to get some food from humanitarian aid, and they shot them. We’re talking about 400 people shot while they were trying to get some flour. These people are totally civilians. They are not armed. They’re not threat to anybody, but they killed them, in addition to injuring more than 3,000 other people. So, they keep lying, and I don’t believe their lies.

Now, Mr. Mabhouh, who was killed, is a policeman. He is not a fighter. He’s not from Qassam Brigade. He’s not carrying arms to fight. He was simply organizing some supplies to get to the north. And for the first time, two days ago, 13 trucks with some flour got to the north of Gaza, clearly. And this was well organized. People received their portions. There were no gangs to steal this supply. And obviously, this is something that Israelis didn’t like. They didn’t like that people were organized and getting some supplies after so many days of hunger. And that’s why they killed Mr. Mabhouh. They want chaos in Gaza. And their goal from attacking Shifa Hospital is actually to push people from Shifa Hospital and from Gaza City to the south, again, because the ultimate goal of Israel is ethnic cleansing.

And the reality is that the whole operation, military operation, to attack Rafah is already ready to be implemented, and maybe parts of it has already started to be implemented, as you mentioned. And there, why are they attacking Rafah, with 1.4 million people there, in an area that is very small, that does not exceed 25 square miles? They will cause a terrible massacre. But their real goal is to push people through the borders to Egypt, because Netanyahu did not change his original plan of ethnic cleansing. And the United States government, Mr. Biden and his administration, instead of saying to Netanyahu, “You cannot have an operation in Rafah, and you have to stop this fight, and you have to accept ceasefire,” instead of that, they are deciding to become part of his war cabinet, discussing the plans of how to attack Rafah rather than saying that this attack should not take place.

AMY GOODMAN: National security adviser Jake Sullivan briefed reporters on this last call between Biden and Netanyahu. He laid out the concerns Biden expressed about that possible ground invasion of Rafah.

JAKE SULLIVAN: First, more than a million people have taken refuge in Rafah. They went from Gaza City to Khan Younis and then to Rafah. And they have nowhere else to go. Gaza’s other major cities have largely been destroyed. And Israel has not presented us or the world with a plan for how or where they would safely move those civilians, let alone feed and house them and ensure access to basic things like sanitation. … But a major ground operation there would be a mistake. It would lead to more innocent civilian deaths, worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis, deepen the anarchy in Gaza and further isolate Israel internationally.

AMY GOODMAN: So, if you can talk about what this team from the Israeli government is that’s going to Washington, D.C., to come up with a so-called alternative plan — although Israel keeps insisting they don’t kill Palestinian civilians, they have very targeted troops that know exactly the difference between them — and what it means to say if they attack Rafah, which, of course, every day they are doing, but a full-scale ground invasion, they will establish humanitarian — what are they describing it as? Humanitarian islands for people to go to?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: That’s not true, because there is no safe place anymore in Gaza. And if there are places which will not be bombarded, as they claim, they are places without any infrastructure, without water, without electricity, without food, without medical services, without medicines, without anything. Where will people go?

To talk about the possibility of such an attack that it would cause more harm is not enough. It will cause a huge massacre, the largest massacre in human history probably, at least in the modern history. We will be talking about tens of thousands of people who would be slaughtered. That is the reality. And they have no place to escape to. Israel kept saying to people, “Move from this place to that place. It will be safe.” And then they would bombard the safe space. So the United States should not say — I repeat, should not say — there isn’t a good plan. They should say that the whole attack should not happen and that this war must stop.

And when the Israelis say they differentiate, they are lying. Are the 14,000 Palestinian children who were killed military activists or militants? These are children, for God’s sake. And they are not 19 or 18 years old. These are 10 years old, 2 years old, 1 years old, even months old. That is the reality of what’s happening in Gaza.

It’s a massacre. It’s a huge genocide that Israel is engaging in. And the United States of America does not have the guts to go to the United Nations Security Council resolution and allow the passage of a resolution demanding immediate ceasefire. That’s what we need: immediate ceasefire, no attack on Rafah, and supplies immediately to the civilian population of Gaza, which is starving.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk —

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Any other thing —

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk — 

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Any other thing is just talk. Yeah, please.

AMY GOODMAN: — about the negotiations that are going on in Qatar right now? Talk about what Hamas has put forward.

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Hamas tried, as we were — as the reports show that we have received, the reports show that Hamas tried to be flexible. They made some concessions to make it possible to reach an agreement, because they are really worried about the humanitarian situation of the people and the so many people who have been killed. But, unfortunately, Netanyahu restricted the team that went to Qatar. He restricted their authority and authorization. And in my frank opinion, I think Netanyahu is — he made all these restrictions with his team to prevent reaching an agreement and then used that failure to justify an attack on Rafah.

I do not think — because Netanyahu knows if he goes into a deal with Hamas about release of some prisoners and exchange of prisoners, his coalition partners, the fascists, Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, will bring his government down. So, all he thinks about is how to save himself, how to save his position. He doesn’t care about Israeli prisoners. He knows. He knows very well that if he attacks Rafah, so many Israeli prisoners will be killed. He knows that, but he doesn’t care about them. And he is stuck with these fascists in his government, and he’s driving his whole government into the direction — and, actually, the Israeli society at large, he’s driving them into the direction of fascism, because what’s happening in Palestine cannot be made except by people who have no respect whatsoever, not only to international law, but to human lives, in general.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re in the occupied West Bank, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. You’re in Ramallah. Can you talk about the arrest of journalists? You have Ismail al-Ghoul — he’s with Al Jazeera Arabic — stripped naked there for hours, detained, interrogated with others when they raided Al-Shifa Hospital. Al Jazeera reported that satellite trucks were attacked outside — that’s TV satellite trucks — to restrict further images. You have in the occupied West Bank Rula Hassanein, who is a Palestinian journalist. It’s unclear if she was taken from her home in Ramallah, or was it Bethlehem, at like 2:00 in the morning, has a 9-month-old baby, is breastfeeding. This just happened. The attack on journalists, and what do you think is the message Israel is sending?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: The message is that they are reoccupying all of the West Bank and all of Gaza, subjecting all Palestinian people, without exception, to terrible oppression.

And as you know, Amy, since the beginning of this war, Israel did not allow any foreign journalists to enter Gaza, except for one from CNN who was allowed there only for three hours. They didn’t allow any foreign journalists in, and then they started executing the local journalists. Up to now, 146 Palestinian journalists in Gaza were killed by Israeli snipers or Israeli bombardment, including two from Al Jazeera network. And now they’ve arrested a third one, al-Ghoul, and practically tortured him before releasing him. And you remember the story of the family of Dahdouh, who lost his wife, his children, because he was reporting for Al Jazeera.

And in my opinion, the attacks on journalists are also taking place in the West Bank. More than 30 journalists were arrested so far. And it goes on. And in the West Bank, by the way, Israel has arrested more than 7,500 new people. The total number of people in Israeli jails in the West Bank has risen from 5,300 to almost 9,000.

And one thing that the world doesn’t talk about is the terrible torture that the people in Israeli prisons are subjected to. They are fighting them, torturing them with hunger. They brought down the rations for — their food rations by 70%. They beat them regularly. Most recently, they attacked even one of the political prisoners, Marwan Barghouti, and many of his colleagues, as well, beating them badly. And it goes on. We have lost already 13 people in Israeli jails because of torture and because of beating and because of starvation. The situation in Israeli prisons is horrifying. And in Gaza, we don’t know exactly the number of people who were imprisoned or kidnapped. We’re talking about thousands of people, maybe 3,000, maybe 4,000. But the people who were released told us horrible stories about how they were tortured in an Israeli concentration camp in the Negev with electrical shocks, with drowning them in the water, with terrible beating. The director of Shifa Hospital is still in prison. They broke both of his hands, as was reported. And they tried to force him to admit things that he never did. That is the reality and the situation on the ground. It’s horrifying.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, I want to thank you for being with us, Palestinian physician, activist, politician, serves as general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, speaking to us from his office in the occupied West Bank in Ramallah.



A delegation of American and British doctors is in Washington DC to tell the Biden administration the Israeli military is systematically destroying Gaza’s health infrastructure in order to drive Palestinians out of their homes.

The doctors, who have recently returned from volunteering at Gaza’s besieged hospitals, are expected to meet White House officials and senior members of Congress this week to warn that pledges of increased aid to Palestinians under bombardment are largely meaningless without an immediate ceasefire to allow safe distribution of food and the revival of healthcare services.

Professor Nick Maynard, the former director for cancer services at Oxford University who worked at the al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza at the beginning of the year, accused the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) of “appalling atrocities”.


ALJAZEERA provides a video report.




Gaza remains under assault. Day 166 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, "The Health Ministry in Gaza says the death toll from Israeli attacks since October 7 has risen to 31,923 with 74,096 people wounded."  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."   


This morning, CNN reports, "Famine is set to break out in northern Gaza between now and May, a UN-backed report warns. The World Health Organization issued another stark warning about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, with a spokesperson saying that a growing number of infants are on the 'brink of death' from acute hunger. Israel's sustained restrictions on aid to Gaza may amount to the war crime of starvation, UN rights chief Volker Turk also said. "


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