Thursday, April 18, 2024

Bad news out of (no surprise) Florida

Okay, I noted good news on Tuesday (and ignored bad news because I just wasn't in the mood for it) and noted The Daily Show's Dulce Sloan last time for a good and deserved laugh.  Now we have to note the bad.  There's a lot of bad news sadly but we'll just go with a story out of Florida.    Lil Kalish (Huffington Post) reports:


Jules was driving to their friend’s house in St. Petersburg, Florida, last year when a police officer pulled them over for a busted taillight. Jules wondered if the officer saw their “Say Gay” sticker — a small protest to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill  — and nervously handed over their driver’s license. The 26-year-old EMT in training had legally changed their gender marker to an M on their state documents in 2019, but their photo still reflected how Jules looked early in their medical transition, someone without a thick dark mustache and more baby-faced.

The officer returned Jules’ driver’s license without any mention of their photo. But the officer did scold Jules, who had recently moved to a new home, for not having their current address on their ID. 

When Jules, who is using a pseudonym out of fear of harassment, went to their local Department of Motor Vehicles in November to update their address, employees told them there was no record of their gender marker update and that they could not get a replacement ID with their new address and keep the M at the same time. 

“I seem to think that they lost my paperwork,” said Jules, who is nonbinary and transmasculine. “The person sitting across from me at the time was pretty much like, ‘Any point going forward, any other time you change this ID, we’re going to have to put an F on it.’ I was like, ‘Damn, wow.’” 

Jules said the same thing happened when they tried to get a replacement ID in January.  Then, on Jan. 31, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles quietly issued a memostating that residents could no longer update or change their gender on state driver’s licenses but could still receive replacement licenses for any name or address changes. 

“Misrepresenting one’s gender, understood as sex, on a driver license constitutes fraud … and subjects an offender to criminal and civil penalties, including cancellation, suspension, or revocation of his or her driver license,” the memo read. 

Now transgender Floridians like Jules don’t know what to do: They’re worried about being turned away from getting a replacement ID with an accurate gender marker, but they’re also anxious about what will happen if they’re pulled over again with a license that has other incorrect information. 

The memo isn’t a formal law, rule or policy, advocates told HuffPost, which means it may be enforced at different department locations around the state. But even though there isn’t a law in place, the reality is that many trans Floridians are barred from updating their gender marker on their licenses, said Quinn Diaz, a public policy associate at LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Florida. People can still update their gender marker on newly issued licenses if they have already done so on other documents such as a passport or birth certificate.


“Expanding the Department’s authority to issue replacement licenses dependent on one’s internal sense of gender or sex identification is violative of the law and does not serve to enhance the security and reliability of Florida issued licenses and identification cards,” wrote Molly Best, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in an emailed statement. “The security, reliability, and accuracy of government issued credentials is paramount.”

Florida’s DHSMV rolled out the memo while the state legislature was still deliberating over HB 1639, a bill that would have narrowly defined sex by one’s genitalia at birth and also barred transgender people from updating their IDs. 


As the author goes on to note, the election of Donald Trump as president would likely lead to this transphobic nonsense going national. 


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, April 18, 2024.  Iraq's prime minister continues visit to the US, The Met returns stolen property to Iraq, a new revelation on Abu Ghraib goes under-reported (either outlets run the AP report or they're silent), the Israeli government kills five more children in Gaza, and much more.

This week, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, has been making his first visit to the United States where he has met with US President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and various business leaders -- among others. The visit coincides with the return of stolen property.  Adam Schrader (ART NET) reports:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has returned an ancient Sumerian sculpture to Iraq following an internal review by the institution, which recently appointed a head of provenance research.

The restitution of the Sumerian sculpture happened at a ceremony in Washington D.C., the Met said in a statement. The return takes place just weeks before Lucian Simmons, the former head of Sotheby’s restitution department, is expected to head up the museum’s provenance research team in May. Simmons has worked on restitution and provenance matters since 1997 but will now lead a team of researchers working across many of the museum’s 19 collecting areas.

The copper alloy figure dates to 2900–2600 B.C.E. and depicts a nude man carrying a box on his head, according to the museum’s listing of the work—which now notes that it has been returned. The museum called it a “fine example” of Sumerian sculpture in metal.



  Last year, the museum responded to renewed attention from restitution advocates by launching a landmark effort to review its collections for evidence of looting, such as suspicious gaps in ownership records. An internal provenance research team was formed and Lucian Simmons, who previously oversaw restitution disputes at Sotheby’s, was appointed head of the museum’s provenance research in May.

The Met’s efforts follow a rise in inquiries from the Manhattan district attorney’s office into private antiquity collections assembled between the 1970s and 1990s and their links to looted sites; the museum has since returned items acquired from private collections and linked to countries including Turkey, Egypt and Italy.  






The museum’s director, Max Hollein, said in a statement that the museum is dedicated to the shared preservation of the global cultural legacy as well as the ethical acquisition of artifacts.

The study that resulted in the repatriation of the sculpture made of copper alloy and labeled ‘Man Carrying a Box, Possibly for Offerings’ was not discussed by museum officials.

The artifact, according to the museum, was acquired in 1955 and has been a part of its collection ever since. It is believed to date from between 2900 and 2600 B.C.


RUDAW reminds, "Iraq’s artifacts have been subjected to frequent looting and vandalism since the invasion by the United States in 2003, with the theft worsening after the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group swept through large swathes of the country in 2014. The country has in recent years taken strides to return the lost antiquities."

The Iraqi prime minister's visit also coincides with a  US District Court in Alexandria trial. The trial's focus?  One of the great crimes of the US government in the 21st century, the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.  Prisoners in the Iraqi prison were tortured by Americans.  Matthew Barakat (AP) reports a new revelation has emerged in the trial: 



A civilian contractor sent to work as an interrogator at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison resigned within two weeks of his arrival and told his corporate bosses that mistreatment of detainees was likely to continue. 
Jurors saw the October 2003 email from Rich Arant, who worked for military contractor CACI, during testimony Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by three Abu Ghraib survivors. The former prisoners are suing CACI, alleging that the Reston-Virginia based company shares responsibility for the mistreatment they endured. CACI had a contract to supply interrogators to the Army after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and scrambled to supply the needed personnel. 
The first CACI interrogators arrived at Abu Ghraib on Sept. 28 of that year. Arant sent his resignation letter to CACI on Oct. 14. He informed his bosses about his concerns over the handling of prisoners, including what he described as an unauthorized interview of a female inmate by male interrogators. He wrote that “violations of the well-written rules of engagement will likely continue to occur.”




Excerpt.

Geoff Bennett:

  • Your visit comes at a sensitive time for U.S. relations in the Middle East, following Iran's unprecedented strike on Israel over the weekend.

    The attack has inflamed concerns of a wider regional war. President Biden, whom you met with earlier this week, says Iraq has a role to play in maintaining the peace. How do you view your role?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    The region is witnessing turmoil in the Red Sea, Lebanon, Syria, and recently this escalation, which happened after the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, which is a dangerous development and a violation of international law.

    Iraq has tried after the Damascus event to de-escalate, and we urge the Iranian side not to respond to that. The attention of the Netanyahu government is for these regional tensions to continue. And, unfortunately, when these wars continue in our region, that impacts the security and the stability of those who live there.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    The U.S. helped block Iran's attack on Israel last weekend by using Iraqi airspace to shoot down drones and shoot down an Iranian missile over Iraq, but your military did not participate in that effort.

    Why not?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    Our security capabilities are still developing, so they can protect our airspace. Iraq and its security policy aims to keep the country away from any conflict or attack on other nations, because the ultimate goal is the security and stability of Iraq, especially in these difficult times.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    If there is an Israeli attack on Iran that uses Iraqi airspace, what will you do?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    Iraq rejects the use of its airspace from any country. We don't want Iraq to be engaged in the area of conflict. And I reiterate and stress that this escalation will engage the region in dangerous calculations, that nobody will control the reactions.

    This is why part of our talks with Mr. Biden were to urge the parties to de-escalate and to end these developments. From our side, we will exert efforts in order to achieve this objective.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Let's talk about the U.S. security arrangement in Iraq. The U.S. has some 2,500 troops in Iraq largely advising and assisting local forces to prevent a resurgence of ISIS.

    The Iraqi Parliament declared that U.S. advisers should leave. Is that departure based on a timetable, or is it based on the security situation on the ground?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    Our Parliament's decision in 2020 and the October 2022 government program called for the end of the global coalition's mission, which was done in coordination with the United States.

    This coalition emerged upon the invitation of the Iraqi government in 2014. We are speaking about 10 years ago. Now there is a noticeable stability in the region. There is preparedness of the Iraqi security forces. And ISIS now is no longer a threat to the safety and security of Iraq.

    This led the Parliament and political forces to end the mission and to transition into a security bilateral relationship with the United States and the rest of the countries of the global coalition.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    I hear you say ISIS is not a threat, but, this week, the defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, while standing next to you, said ISIS remains a threat to your citizens and to ours.

    How is ISIS no longer a threat?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    ISIS inside Iraq doesn't represent a threat to the security of Iraq. The elements of ISIS are in Syria, and we are working with the global coalition to secure our borders with the Syrians in order to prevent any infiltrations.

    The cells of ISIS are there. We are not speaking about armed people. We are speaking about ideology, extremist ideology that believes in killing and violence. We are tracking the recruitment and financing cells, and we are working on limiting them, controlling them. This is one of our concerns. What happened in Gaza will lead to a double escalation and violence and maybe we will regenerate a new [. . .], ISIS.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    The last time the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, ISIS took over a good deal of the country, and the U.S. military had to come back into Iraq to fight against them.

    What's to prevent that from happening again? Are the Iraqi security forces that have been trained by American troops, are they now capable of fending off a resurgent, potentially resurgent ISIS?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    This is an important question.

    Certainly, the situation in Iraq is different radically now than in 2014. Now ISIS does not have popular domestic incubators everywhere in the region, especially the liberated area. Also, the Iraqi security forces have gained unique experience at the advanced level, the top levels among forces in the region, in counterterrorism.

    Another thing is the political stability. My government is supported by 280 members of a broad coalition of 329 members that include all the components of the Iraqis. This is a factor of strength, and there is the economic development. In Iraq, we are not speaking about ISIS anymore. Only here, when I speak with the media, do we talk about ISIS. In Iraq, we're speaking about development, about investment in companies, universities, culture.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    I do want to talk about economic development, but, first, do you expect any U.S. advisers to leave Iraq this year, in 2024?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    We have agreed on a framework in the joint security dialogue and then also issued a joint statement with President Biden and committed to the outcome of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Military Commission, which will assess the capabilities and operational conditions.

    According to that, we will have a timetable about how to end this mission.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Iranian-backed militia groups continue to operate from Iraq, and this is even after they killed three U.S. troops on the border with Syria.

    You say you won't allow Iraqi territory to be used by any nonstate actor, but the fact is, they still operate on Iraqi soil. Why is that?

  • Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani (through interpreter):

    The government has repeatedly stated its commitment to not allow any one side to play an outsized role in any operations that will lead to destabilization and lack of security.

    We have made that clear and we have taken practical measures against all those groups attacking diplomatic missions and military bases in Iraq. And we will not hesitate to take legal measures against anyone who wants to tamper with our security.



  • Turning to Gaza where the Israeli government has killed at least another five children -- already, close to 14,000 children have been killed in Gaza in the last six months (13,800 per Save The Children and UNICEF).  ALJAZEERA reports on the latest murder of children in the video below.




    The head of the UN's main relief agency in Gaza (UNRWA) has said that an “insidious campaign” is underway to end its operations, warning of "serious implications for international peace and security.”

    UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the agency was being “denied permission to deliver this aid and save lives."

    UNRWA has been under fire since Israel alleged that some of its employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack. Israel has long campaigned for UNRWA, the main distributor of aid in Gaza, to be disbanded. Israel has also banned UNRWA from operating in Gaza’s north.

    More than a dozen countries pulled funding for UNRWA after the allegations, some of which have resumed donations.

    “Dismantling UNRWA will have lasting repercussions. In the short-term, it will deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerate the onset of famine,” Lazzarini said.
    “In the longer-term, it will jeopardize the transition from ceasefire to ‘day after’ by depriving a traumatized population of essential services.”

    Lazzarini said children were "bearing the brunt of this war," with more than 17,000 separated from their families and "left to face the horror of Gaza alone."

    He also warned that "a man-made famine is tightening its grip" across Gaza.


    In his statement on Thursday, Lazzarini warned that dismantling Unrwa would have “lasting repercussions”. He said:

    In the short-term, it will deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerate the onset of famine.

    In the longer-term, it will jeopardise the transition from ceasefire to ‘day after’ by depriving a traumatized population of essential services.

    It will make nearly impossible the formidable task of bringing half a million deeply distressed girls and boys back to learning.

    Failing to deliver on education will condemn an entire generation to despair – fuelling anger, resentment, and endless cycles of violence.

    A political solution cannot succeed in such a scenario.

    Lazzarini called on the security council’s members to “safeguard Unrwa’s critical role both now and within the framework of a transition”.


    Gaza remains under assault. Day 195 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse." THE NATIONAL notes, "The death toll in Gaza rose to 33,970 on Thursday after Israel killed 71 Palestinians in the previous 24 hours, the health ministry announced. More than 100 others were wounded, taking the total number of injured to 76,770 since the war began on October 7."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:






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

    As for the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."





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

    Several Google employees, at least nine, were arrested Tuesday evening after staging sit-ins at the company’s offices in New York and in California to protest the tech giant’s work with the Israeli government. The sit-ins, organized by the activist group No Tech for Apartheid, took place at Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s office in Sunnyvale, California, and the 10th floor commons of Google’s New York office, which is right around the corner from Democracy Now!

    Protesters are calling for Google to withdraw from a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Israeli government, known as Project Nimbus. Last week, Time magazine reported Google’s work on the project involves providing direct services to the Israeli military.

    The sit-ins were accompanied by outdoor protests at the Google offices here in New York and in Sunnyvale, San Francisco and Seattle, Washington. Workers and outside activists have opposed the contract since it was signed in 2021, but protests have ramped up over the past several months since Israel’s latest bombardment of Gaza.

    No Tech for Apartheid says Google is enabling and profiting from Israel’s use of artificial intelligence to develop a “kill list” to target Palestinians in Gaza for assassination with little human oversight. The Israeli military is also using Google Photos for facial recognition across Gaza and the West Bank to identify and detain Palestinians en masse.

    No Tech for Apartheid has published an open letter, co-signed by 18 other groups, that demands Google and Amazon immediately cancel their work on Project Nimbus. The letter has gathered more than 94,000 signatures from the general public.

    For more, we’re joined by two of the arrested Google workers. Ray Westrick is with us. She’s a Google worker-organizer with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, among the workers who occupied Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s office in Sunnyvale, California. She’s joining us from Sunnyvale. And here in New York, we’re joined by Mohammad Khatami, a Google software engineer who was arrested at the sit-in at Google’s office in New York. He’s joining us along with Gabriel Schubiner, a former software engineer at Google Research and an organizer with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign. And before that, he was with Jewish Diaspora in Tech.

    We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Mohammad, let’s begin with you. You were, just hours ago, in the jail — 

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: That’s right.

    AMY GOODMAN: — in the local police precinct. Talk about why you were willing to get arrested.

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Yeah. Well, rather than, you know, consider the demands that we’ve been raising for years now and listening to workers and considering the things that we’ve been raising, Thomas Kurian and Google execs basically chose to arrest workers for speaking out against the use of our technology to power the first AI-powered genocide. So, we were willing to get arrested for that, because at this point we aren’t willing to be lied to by our higher-ups anymore. We aren’t willing to be disrespected by our higher-ups anymore. And we wanted to take that to the offices and make sure it was understood by them, yeah.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: How do you sense is the support that you have among other Google workers, the degree of the dissatisfaction with the policies of Google?

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Yeah. I mean, Google has done a really good job at creating a culture of fear and retaliation against workers in general. But what we noticed was beautiful. So many people came up to our sit-in and basically showed support and felt that they were inspired by the work that we were doing, and felt inspired to speak out, which is exactly what we were going for. We want workers to feel like we have the power to choose where our technology is going and who we’re contributing to. So I felt really happy to see that, yeah.

    AMY GOODMAN: Ray Westrick, you’re on the West Coast. You were arrested in California. Talk about this Project Nimbus and why you were willing to get arrested, and what the response — were you in the offices of the Google Cloud CEO?

    RAY WESTRICK: Yes, we sat in at the office of Thomas Kurian, the Google Cloud CEO, to protest Project Nimbus, which is a $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government and military between Google and Amazon. We also were demanding the protection of our co-workers, especially our Palestinian, Arab and Muslim co-workers, who have been consistently retaliated against, harassed and doxxed for speaking out about Project Nimbus and, you know, the humanity of Palestinians. So, we were there in solidarity with them. We were there to protest the contract, which is being directly sold — providing technology directly to the Israeli military as it inflicts a genocide on Palestinians in Gaza. And yeah, that is why we chose to sit in Thomas Kurian’s office.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ray, could you — was there any response from the CEO or his office? And are you concerned about losing your job? Why — when did you decide to take this action?

    RAY WESTRICK: Yeah. We did not receive any response from the CEO. And I think it’s really telling that they would rather let us sit there for over 10 hours and arrest us for peacefully sitting in his office than have leadership engage in our demands in any way at all. So, we’ve received no response from the CEO, and we were forcibly removed by the police.

    And I — working at Google has been, you know, an honor. I really love my team. I love the work I do. But I can’t in good conscience not do anything while Google is a part of this contract, while Google is selling technology to the Israeli military, or any military. And so, it was a risk I was willing to take, and I think it’s a risk a lot of my co-workers are willing to take, because a lot of people are really agitated about this and have consistently made their demands clear and have faced retaliation for it. So, I chose to sit in, knowing the risks, out of care for the use of our technology, out of care for the impact of our technology and care for my co-workers.

    AMY GOODMAN: For our radio audience, I wanted to let people know that Ray is wearing a T-shirt that says “Googler against genocide,” with “genocide” in the famous multicolor of “Google,” that it’s so well known for. I wanted to bring Gabriel Schubiner into this conversation, a former software engineer at Google Research, an organizer with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, and ask you — you know, we had you on more than a year ago — this is before Israel’s latest attack on Gaza — talking about exactly this. And you were with a Jewish organization of Google workers at that time speaking out. Talk about the whole history of Project Nimbus.

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Yeah.

    AMY GOODMAN: And the resistance against it.

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Yeah. Thank you so much.

    So, Project Nimbus was signed in May of 2021 while bombs were being dropped on Gaza, while Palestinians were being evicted from Sheikh Jarrah and beaten at Al-Aqsa Mosque. That was really a point — when we found out about Project Nimbus, personally, for me, it was a turning point, where I no longer felt able to continue doing my work without engaging and organizing. There was a group of people that felt very similarly, so we started a petition. We were connected, got connected with Amazon workers, with community organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace and MPower Change, and spun a campaign out of that.

    I want to be clear: Like, the campaign really is driven by worker concerns and worker needs around the ethical use of our labor, as well as the direct workplace concerns of the, like, health and safety concerns around working at a company that is facilitating genocide. We’ve known for a long time that this project was directly targeted at the military. It’s been reported in press that Google was giving trainings directly to the IOF. We know that Google gave trainings directly to Mossad. We know that the IOF

    AMY GOODMAN: When you say ”IOF,” explain the term.

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: I’m sorry, the — yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: Because people are used to hearing ”IDF,” Israeli Defense Forces.

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Right, yes. Yeah, it’s Israeli occupation forces, just to indicate, so we’re not repeating their messaging that their really aggressive repression of Palestinians is an act of defense. We know that it’s an act of occupation, so we say ”IOF.”

    And so, we’ve known for a long time that this project was directly targeted at the Israeli military. But it was only recently, through this last contract that Google signed directly with the IOF, that we recognized that Google was really doubling down, that this contract is directly intended to facilitate military use. And we know that Google was chosen over other companies because of the advanced AI technology that they’re able to offer. So, given that we’ve learned how the IOF is using AI in this war, we really see this as like a really critical campaign for Palestinian liberation.

    To speak to your point about the resistance against the project, we’ve been working against this project as workers for — since it was signed three years ago. We have been doing organizing. We have been doing, you know, base building and labor organizing. We’ve had protests externally and internally. We’ve had signed petitions. We’ve done outreach to our executives through internal forums, through chatrooms, through every available means, because, I think — you know, understanding, like, this contract really is — like, it really is an incredible issue for our work, like, all workers’ labor at Google. So many workers’ labor is contributing directly to this project, because all of the technology at Google is like deeply intertwined with each other. So, yeah, so we see this as really important, yeah.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Gabe, I wanted to ask you — the average person, who’s not a Google worker, who might support your stand and who uses Google multiple times a day around the world, what are you calling for them to do?

    GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Right. So, I mean, we’re calling for everyone around the world to really, like, help us with awareness, like, help us make it known that Google is a war profiteer. I think Google is so deeply embedded in people’s lives — right? — that it’s hard to ask for a boycott. But I think we’re calling specifically on people in the tech industry to divest from Google and Amazon. Google Cloud services and Amazon Web Services underlie a vast majority of the internet, but there are other options. So, technology workers actually have a lot of power to shift this paradigm and to, like, remove technology from this deep complicity with Israeli occupation.

    AMY GOODMAN: Mohammad Khatami, can you talk about your own family background and why you so particularly care right now about what’s going on in Gaza?

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Yeah, yes. So, I come from a Muslim family. I was raised Muslim. And it’s really hard to wake up seeing the images of children slaughtered and know that your — you know, the work you’re doing is contributing to this. I’ve lost sleep. It’s just been extremely difficult to focus on work and think that you’re working for something that is contributing to the mass slaughter that’s taking place. And for speaking out against that, I’ve literally been called a supporter of terrorism, which is something that —

    AMY GOODMAN: Called by?

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: You know, by co-workers and HR and people in the company, a supporter of terrorism, which is, you know, something — it’s like a schoolyard insult. It’s something I haven’t heard since middle school. And that’s just an example of the retaliation and the harassment and the hatred that we face just for speaking up against our work being used in this way.

    AMY GOODMAN: Are you concerned about losing your job?

    MOHAMMAD KHATAMI: Absolutely. But it doesn’t — it’s not even important to me at all compared to working for something that is meaningful and having a good impact on the planet. I don’t want to have any association with this genocide. And I would hope that Google would change their mind about it, as well.

    AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Ray Westrick, where do you see this movement going from here? And can you talk more about the Jewish-Muslim alliance around this among Google workers and former Google workers?

    RAY WESTRICK: Yeah. I only see this movement growing and continuing to apply pressure. We received so much support during the sit-in. I’ve received so many personal messages from people, you know, thanking me for being vocal, and asking how they can be more vocal and get more involved. So I think this is absolutely growing. I think Google knows that this will continue, that, you know, workers are very agitated about this and will continue to speak up and apply pressure. And I think that’s why it was important for them to silence us. But this movement is growing, and more people are finding out about this, and more people are willing to organize and risk their jobs in order to take a stand against complicity in genocide.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank —

    RAY WESTRICK: And yeah, I think this has been a really unifying campaign for people of all backgrounds. And I know, specifically, a lot of us came together because we were specifically concerned about how Google has treated and retaliated against our Palestinian, Arab and Muslim colleagues, especially, like Mohammad mentioned, a lot of them have experienced harassment and doxxing for speaking out in like the appropriate channels at Google and have been consistently ignored and harassed and retaliated against. And so, we had to come together to say that we can’t let this happen anymore. We have to come together in protection of our co-workers and each other and in protection of, you know, the ethical use of our technology, to make sure that we’re not building technology that’s being used for harm. So, I think it’s been a really unifying campaign that is really grounded in taking care of each other and really grounded in making a positive impact and not facilitating more harm with technology.

    AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you all for being with us. Ray Westrick and Mohammad Khatami are both Google workers who were arrested yesterday, Ray in the offices of the Google Cloud CEO in Sunnyvale, California, and Mohammad here in New York. Also Gabriel Schubiner, a former software engineer at Google Research and an organizer with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, before that, with Jewish Diaspora in Tech.


    Two of the above who spoke to Amy and Juan above have since been fired.  Caroline O'Donovan

    Google fired 28 employees on Wednesday who were involved in a protest against a contract with the Israeli government the cloud-computing giant shares with its competitor, Amazon.

    The firings came after nine employees were arrested Tuesday while participating in sit-in protests at Google offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., and New York City. The workers were held for a few hours before being released, employees said.

    The employees, part of a group called No Tech for Apartheid, have been writing letters and staging protests against Google’s deal to sell technology to Israel since 2021. The tension over the cloud-computing contract, known as Nimbus, among employees at Google and Amazon has increased since the Israel-Gaza war began in October. The project’s critics say it will bolster the Israeli government’s surveillance of Palestinians and lead to further displacement and discrimination.


    This morning, THE NATIONAL reports:

    UN experts have raised alarm over what they described as Israel’s systemic destruction of the Palestinian education system as it wages its war on Gaza. 

    “With more than 80 per cent of schools in Gaza damaged or destroyed, it may be reasonable to ask if there is an intentional effort to comprehensively destroy the Palestinian education system.

    More than 5,479 pupils, 261 teachers and 95 university professors have been killed since the war began. At least 625,000 children have no access to education. 

    “The persistent, callous attacks on educational infrastructure in Gaza have a devastating long-term impact on the fundamental rights of people to learn and freely express themselves, depriving yet another generation of Palestinians of their future,” the experts said.

    “When schools are destroyed, so too are hopes and dreams.” 

    Women and girls kept from education are also at greater risk of gender-based violence, it said. 






    The following sites updated


    Wednesday, April 17, 2024

    Oh, I forgot to jump, I was looking at that vagina - Dulce Sloan

     

    That was hilarious.  We've got one more night of Dulce hosting tomorrow.  (No new Daily Show episodes on Friday.) 

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


    Wednesday, April 17, 2024.  Iraq's prime minister visits the US but apparently forgot his notes on how he was supposed to be telling the White House that US troops need to leave Iraq, Bob Graham -- a voice of truth on Iraq -- has passed away, THE WASHINGTON POST's reporting forces the US government to look again at an attack in Gaza, and much more.


    We have so much to cover but idiots abound and we have to stop to cover something that Ava and I already have -- see "Media: It's the stupidity, it's always the stupidity."

    Shortest version of story: Uri Berliner went to work for NPR in 1999.  He is not a "liberal" -- despite Glenneth Greenwald's lie.  He's a wishy-washy piece of trash.  Before I go further, as Ava and I noted in our Sunday article, we spoke with many NPR friends for that article and we shared repeatedly -- even when not asked -- that Uri needs to be fired.  He's been suspended, he needs to be fired.

    Uri's claims are that the treatment of Donald Trump, the coverage (lack of) on Hunter Biden's laptop and COVID has harmed the way people see NPR.  

    He can't prove that point.  He can't prove anything.  He can whine.  And he can play peak-a-boo with readers as he flashes his stupidity.  

    While I know many people who work for/at NPR and a number of them are friends, that has not influenced my coverage of NPR.  

    Here, and at THIRD with Ava, I have called them out for two decades.

    Uri is either an idiot or a liar.  Oh, why short sell him -- he could be both.

    He offers 'figures' that don't really tell you anything because nothing really supports his claims.

    First off, the Iraq War and the whoring NPR did for that hurt NPR's image.  Nothing has hurt it more with most Americans. 

    B-b-but the religious right!

    Never listened to them.  NPR is/was the enemy as far as they were concerned.

    In the Trump years, the GOP has run off a lot of members. That's not addressed in Uri's nonsense.

    Uri's offended by NPR's efforts to track guests based on gender, race and other factors.

    Again, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.  That has nothing to do with Donald Trump or 'the Trump era.'

    What does it have to do with?

    In the 1990s, it became obvious that NPR had a problem reaching African-American listeners.  Various programs were attempted in the next decade with the hope of increasing listenership.  This was not an effort to run off other listeners, this was an effort to make NPR representative of the country as a whole.  Neither Uri nor Jonathan Turley seem aware of this reality.  And idiot Jonathan is why I'm writing.  He called Uri a "whistle blower" in his latest garbage.

    There is nothing in Uri's bad column (published at transphobe Bari's ridiculous site -- no link to trash) that rises to the level of whistle blower.  He gossips.  He gets things wrong.  

    Tracking the guests is not a conspiracy -- NPR ombudspersons (including personal foe Alicia Shephard) attempted to do this themselves during the '00s and early '10s.  Neither Jonathan nor Uri acknowledge this basic, well known, long public fact.  Because they want to lie and smear.  I'm not in the mood.

    Tavis Smiley's 2002 to 2004 NPR radio show was part of an effort to reach out.  



    Mr. Smiley has been the host of "The Tavis Smiley Show," a daily one-hour newsmagazine since January 2002. The show, carried by 87 public stations nationwide, was created by NPR with the African-American Public Radio Consortium, in response to a campaign by public radio stations at historically black colleges for more programs aimed at minority audiences. Mr. Smiley's show reached just under 900,000 listeners a week, according to NPR, many of them young and African-American.

    [. . .]

    Among all NPR shows, Mr. Smiley's has the largest black audience (29 percent) and the largest audience of listeners 44 and younger (40 percent), Mr. Umansky said.


    Inclusion is not a bad term unless you're an over the hill White guy like Uri and Jonathan.  Inclusion is what the American dream -- myth or reality, your call -- has always been about.  Tavis pulled in African-American listeners.  He also pulled in other racial groups as well (71% were non-Black).  He pulled in a large number of young listeners.

    This is what NPR needs and that's why these efforts are important. 

    Uri is an idiot and/or liar who distorts reality and presents goals and measures to be inclusive -- goals and measures that have been put into place before Barack Obama was president -- we're going back to the days of Bully Boy Bush -- as though they're recent developments so that he -- and the Jonathan Turleys -- can hiss "WOKE!"

    This is about basic respect -- something Turley doesn't understand (speak to his students).  

    They are lying to you.

    Uri wrote an 'expose' about practices in place -- publicly in place -- for decades.

    There's pretty much not an ombudsperson for NPR or PBS or any paper that Ava and I have not been in contact with in the years we've been covering media.  But no one was as whiny as Alicia Shepard and I bring her up because of the multitude of her complaints.  We quoted her attack on Helen Thomas (that she made over the KPFA airwaves) in "Media: Let's Kill Helen!" and she had a hissy fit where she tried to say we quoted her wrong.  Then it became well the quotes were accurate but we should have provided a transcript (no, we don't have to provide a transcript of a nine minute segment to call her out for attacking, distorting and lying with regards to Helen Thomas).  Then it morphed into something else.  Then she thought we would love that she was doing statistics on who was making it on air because of the work we'd already done.  No, we weren't thrilled.  She went with reporting segments in news coverage from MORNING EDITION and ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.  No.  We did not agree with that.  Some of it probably couldn't be helped, we noted (agreeing with Steve) and if she really wanted to explore the lack of women on air, she needed to look at the shows with invited guests -- THE DIANE REHM SHOW and Terri Gross' Not-so FRESH AIR.  The hosts picked who was joining them and they repeatedly picked many, many men and very few women.  Of FRESH AIR, we 'unearthed' the astounding fact that women don't watch TV.  Huh?  Well they must not when Teri has multiple men as her supporting players -- not guests, they are part of the show -- addressing TV but no women.  

    This was appalling.  

    And Uri doesn't want to talk about that and Jonathan doesn't want to talk about that.

    But we did talk about it.  We did document it.  And we damn well know these issues pre-date 2016.  

    Jonathan whines that "NPR CEO Katherine Maher [. . .] made clear that NPR had no intention to change its one-sided editorial staff or its coverage."


    Can he just shut up?  He's a dog foaming at the mouth and no one's around to take Old Yeller around back.  He does not know what he's talking about.  

    Uri's a disgruntled employee who feels the world is attacking him so he lashed out to attack NPR for trying to represent the audience.  

    He is not a whistle-blower.  Does NPR have a bias?  Yes, it does -- it's biased towards officialdom and always has been and probably always will be.

    That's why it wasn't KNIGHT-RIDDER.  It didn't express skepticism of the Iraq War.  It went along with every lie the administration and members of Congress told in 2002 and in 2003.  It can also be incredibly shallow.  There was an attack in Iraq, for example, one Friday (June 10, 2010) that was known by 6:00 am EST.  Two US service members were killed and six more were left injured..  The second hour of THE DIANE REHM SHOW was hours after that.  But Diane and her three useless -- and three male -- guests ignored it to talk about 'domestic issues.'  For those who don't grasp the problem, the first hour of the program was for domestic news stories, the second was for international. For those who really don't grasp the problem the 'issue' was trashing Helen Thomas -- which the program had already done in the first hour -- the 'domestic' hour.  But Diane, MCCLATCHY's Roy Gutman, Yochi, Drezen (then with THE WALL STREET JOURNAL) and ALJAZEERA's Abderrahim Foukara The death of 2 US service members with six more injured wasn't 'news' enough for Diane and her guests  .  Instead they wanted to gas bag and attack Helen Thomas one more time.  What a proud moment for NPR.


    So shut up Jonathan Turley, you don't know a damn thing about NPR.  You don't know their bias, you don't their errors.  I could do three hours -- off the top of my head -- about how NPR has failed in this way or that.  And I expect that they'll fail again.  But are they trying to improve?  Yes, and those are the very measures and efforts that Uri and Jonathan are attacking.  Their opinions are over-represented and have been for years.  They're the old  men holding on to the NFL as the do-all, be-all whereas younger generations -- males and females -- know the real sports action is the NBA.  They're out of touch and so quick to make it all about themselves that they distort reality.  

    I don't have time for their lies and we honestly can't, as a country, afford their lies. 

    Need a specific example?  Uri wrote, last year, "NPR laid off or bought out 10 percent of its staff and canceled four podcasts following a slump in advertising revenue.  Our radio audience is dwindling and our podcasts downloads are down from 2020."

    Idiot Jonathan echoes it (not in his slam piece from yesterday, he echoes it in an April 14th slam piece -- which naturally he posted to FOX "NEWS").  

    Does no one see the problem?  First off, it's NPR.

    There is no advertising revenue.

    Did 'legal genius' and noted homophobe Jonathan Turley not grasp that?

    NPR gets government money -- they dispute this and call it a simplification.  Ava and I have said it for years and addressed how it is that.  See our years of writing at THIRD for that.  In addition, members stations pay dues and fees and their grants and there is underwriting by sponsors.

    There is no "advertising revenue."  Only an uninformed idiot or a liar -- or both -- would say there was.

    Then the liar wants you to know that there is a slump in downloading of NPR podcasts.  Well, you can download them.  You can also just stream them.  That is what most of us do now: Stream.  So where's the figure on streaming?  Not there because you don't know the answer or because it doesn't fit the diatribe you're trying to compose?

    "Our radio audience is dwindling."

    NPR is a terrestrial radio station.  Help me out here, what land-locked radio station is thriving?  None.  And, am I wrong, or last fall, didn't the 2024 Ford Mustang drop AM radio? 

    (It did.)


    NPR has a larger audience of listeners today -- airwaves, streaming, podcasts, channel 122 on satellite radio -- than it did during the Bully Boy Bush years.  Are Uri and Jonathan both unaware of that reality?

    They want it to be a failure so they lie that it is and then everyone lines up behind them without actually doing the required work to make that determination.  In fairness to the lazy, I count many NPR-ers as friends and I'm on the phone with them constantly so let me not pose like I'm Matilda Joslyn Gage -- didn't get that reference?  Maybe because your media landscape fails you.

    And that is the larger point there, isn't it.

    THE KATIE HALPER SHOW where 'feminist' Katie talks to . . . men.  And that's all over the left and 'left' landscape.  Even in our community, we can't get the demographics right.  More women than men in the US but not on the airwaves, not on YOUTUBE programs, not anywhere. 

    And we call this out at THIRD.  Ava and I (sometimes with Ann) have charted the sexual imbalance at THE NATION, on FRESH AIR, on THE DIANNE REHM SHOW, on FAIR's COUNTERSPIN, etc.

    But meanwhile, the Whore of Hypocrisy Jonathan Turley doesn't ever call out FOX "NEWS" even when anyone calling for a ceasefire is labeled "anti-Israel" by FOX "NEWS."  And the Whore of Hypocrisy presents himself as a legal scholar and an expert on the Supreme Court but in the year since the exposures of the various 'gifts' Crooked Clarence Thomas has received, Turley hasn't written one word.  He's a whore and he only writes to distort and lie.

    Let's move on . . . 


    Bob Graham has passed away.  He once sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination (the 2004 nomination -- he dropped out of the race in October 2003).  He didn't get it because he was opposed to the Iraq War.  He voted against it.  No one who was opposed to the Iraq War has ever made it onto the Democratic Party's presidential ticket.  Don't offer Barack.  Before he was even a senator, he told Elaine and I to our faces that the US was in Iraq now so it didn't matter.  He would make similar comments almost a year later to THE NEW YORK TIMES at the DNC convention in Boston in 2004.

    As a senator, Bob voted against the war.  Bob tried to get people to look at the evidence and most, like Hillary Clinton, blew him off and refused to go into the little safe room and actually examine what passed for evidence making a case for war. 

    After the war started, there was an attempt to insist "We were all wrong" as though collectively we'd all failed the pop test.  But everyone didn't fail.  Many of us said "NO" strongly and loudly.  Bob Graham was one of those people. 


    Former US senator and two-term Florida governor Bob Graham, who gained national prominence as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks and as an early critic of the Iraq war, has died aged 87.

    Graham’s family announced the death in a statement posted on X by his daughter Gwen Graham on Tuesday.

    “We are deeply saddened to report the passing of a visionary leader, dedicated public servant, and even more importantly, a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather,” the family’s statement said.

    Graham, who served three terms in the Senate, made an unsuccessful bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, emphasising his opposition to the Iraq invasion.


    Below, from September 15, 2011, Bob Graham speaks with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (DEMOCRACY NOW!).




                 Public figures and officials on both sides of the aisle remembered the former senator Tuesday night.

    Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott said Graham dedicated his life to Florida. “His legacy will live forever, not because of any title he held, but for what he did with those opportunities to improve Florida and the lives of families in the Sunshine State,” Scott said in a post on X.

    Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Graham a “patriotic American” and great senator.

    “He sponsored and led the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, and he bravely opposed entry into the war in Iraq,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “He brought his love for his family and for his state of Florida to the Senate, where he served with immense dignity and courage.”     



    Turning to Iraq, SHAFAQ NEWS reports, "Denmark will close down its embassy in Iraq on May 31, the Danish foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday."  The embassy opened a little over three years ago. It was a stormy tenure with protests and threats.  Reports of Iraqis burning the Quran in Copenhagen led to protests and the storming of the Green Zone in July of 2023. 

    Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, the prime minister of Iraq, is on his first trip to the United States.  He's met with US President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.





    United States President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani on Monday agreed that the Kurdistan Region is an “integral” part of Iraq’s prosperity and stability, with Biden stressing the need to hold fair and transparent elections in the Kurdistan Region.

    Sudani arrived in Washington on Saturday, marking his first visit to the US as the prime minister of Iraq. He was received by Biden in the Oval Office.

    The two leaders stressed their commitment for comprehensive bilateral cooperation in accordance with the Strategic Framework Agreement, including political, economic, and security cooperation, according to a joint statement released following the meeting.


    Of the meeting with Lloyd Austin, the US Defense Department issued a press release that included:

    The Iraqi prime minister said this meeting shows the resolve of the Iraqi government to promote its relations with the United States. 

    "The Iraqi people really appreciate the efforts of the international community to support them to fight ISIS and militarism on its territory," he said. 



    In other words, the prime minister's talk of US troops leaving Iraq -- talk he regularly makes when speaking to the Iraqi people -- didn't take place on this visit.  21 years after the US-led invasion of Iraq began, US troops remain on the ground in Iraq.





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

    We end today’s show with journalist Peter Maass, who has written an opinion piece for The Washington Post headlined “I’m Jewish, and I’ve covered wars. I know war crimes when I see them,” unquote. Until recently, Peter was a senior editor at The Intercept. He’s the author of Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War. He covered the Bosnia war for The Washington Post and the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq for The New York Times Magazine.

    Peter, welcome to Democracy Now! You begin your piece in The Washington Post by saying, “How does it feel to be a war-crimes reporter whose family bankrolled a nation that’s committing war crimes? I can tell you.” Lay it out for us.

    PETER MAASS: Well, my great-great-grandfather was Jacob Schiff, who was a financier at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, one of the wealthiest people in the country probably, who donated a lot of money and organized the movement of Jews, persecuted Jews, from Europe, largely from Russia but also from other countries and Russia, to any safe haven that would have them, including America, but also, significantly, British-controlled Palestine. And then, his son-in-law, my great-grandfather, Felix Warburg, who married Jacob Schiff’s daughter, continued that process of supporting and helping to organize the migration of persecuted Jews from Europe to British-controlled Palestine. This is before World War II, the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel.

    AMY GOODMAN: Yet you say they were anti-Zionists. Can you explain?

    PETER MAASS: Well, they were non-Zionists, which was actually different, significantly different, from being anti-Zionists. There was a movement amongst American Jews and Jews elsewhere, in Europe, that was called non-Zionism. And for them, the non-Zionists, the point was Jews should be able to go to British-controlled Palestine. They need to go to British-controlled Palestine because they need refuge from the persecution they’re suffering in Europe.

    But they were against the establishment of a Jewish state, for two reasons. One is that they were concerned that if there were a Jewish state, then all of the antisemites, in America and elsewhere, would look at Jews who are not living in this Jewish state and say, “Ah, you know, your loyalty is actually to this other country.” And that would kind of increase suspicions of Jews and make them seem lesser citizens in the countries that they were living in. And then, the second concern, which was one that a lot of people had but that non-Zionists also had and pronounced, was they were concerned about violence between Arabs and Jews. They just kind of said, “Look, you know, if one side, the Jews or the Arabs, for that matter, try to exert total control over a state that’s going to be established there” — because, remember, at this time, Palestine was under the control of the British Mandate — “then it’s going to be really violent.” My great-grandfather referred to it as a shooting gallery.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Peter, you also covered the wars in Croatia and in Bosnia. And could you talk about how your journalism there helps inform your perspective of what’s going on? Because many, of course, of our listeners and viewers are not familiar with those wars and the war crimes committed there.

    PETER MAASS: In the early 1990s, Yugoslavia, which was a kind of conglomeration of different republics, five or six — I forget the precise number, actually — began to fall apart. And instead of falling apart peacefully, it fell apart violently. And there was first a war when Slovenia, one of the republics, seceded. And then there was an even larger war when Croatia, another one of its constituent republics, seceded. And then, when Bosnia did the same — this was in 1992 — this was, unfortunately, the largest war of all.

    There were a significant number of Serbs who lived in Bosnia. And Slobodan Milošević, who was the leader in Belgrade of kind of all Serbs in the country, organized the kind of provisioning of military materiel and soldiers, guerrilla fighters, paramilitaries, to go in and basically fight against the Muslims and Croats in Bosnia who wanted to have an independent state and who voted in a referendum for an independent state. And the war there, which I went to cover, it was not your ordinary war of army against army. It was a war of paramilitaries committing atrocities against defenseless civilians, largely Muslims, some Croats, and it also consisted of sieges against the few cities that were able to resist the onslaught. Sarajevo was one of these cities. Srebrenica was another one of these cities.

    And so, I was there covering this war, seeing terrible things happen that are not supposed to happen in war. I mean, wars are violent. Civilians get killed in wars. But it’s not always illegal. In this case, there were civilians right under my window in Sarajevo getting shot by snipers, and I wrote about that. There were civilians whose houses were getting bombed. There were civilians who were standing in bread lines who were getting bombed and killed. There were aid shipments of medicine and food that were being prohibited from entry into these so-called safe areas, because they were supposed to have been protected by the United Nations but were not. And so, I was there reporting on this.

    And in 1993, a year after this war began, there was an international criminal tribunal that was set up to investigate war crimes and possible genocide that was occurring at the time in Bosnia. And that tribunal subsequently did hold a number of trials, including of senior Bosnian and Serb leaders — the military leader Ratko Mladić, the political leader Radovan Karadžić and the Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević — in which the charges included genocide. And both Karadžić and Mladić are now in jail for the rest of their lives on charges that include genocide. So I was reporting on this genocide.

    AMY GOODMAN: As you compare what you saw in Bosnia to what you saw in Gaza, you write in that piece, “When I reported from besieged Sarajevo, I stayed in a hotel that was smack on the front line, with Serbian snipers routinely firing at civilians walking under my window. … On a spring day in 1993, I heard the familiar crack and whistle of a sniper’s bullet, followed by an awful scream. I went to my window and saw a wounded civilian trying to crawl to safety. Writing in The Post more than three decades ago, I described the man’s desperate shouts as 'a mad howl of a person pushed over the edge. It came from the lungs, from the heart, from the mind,'” you write in The Washington Post. You also write about disturbing video footage from Gaza that shows Hala Khreis walking on a so-called safe route in January with her grandson, 5-year-old Tayem Abdel, who was holding a white flag when she was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper. Talk about the comparisons, or what you call the rhymes.

    PETER MAASS: Yeah. I mean, God, I remember those stories so well. This is the most — there are so many disturbing things going on in Gaza now and in the West Bank. But as the Israeli attack began, after the Hamas attack on October 7th against Israel, you know, we began seeing these videos and reports emerging from these very brave journalists in Gaza of what was happening — and, for example, that video of this grandmother being shot, obviously quite intentionally. And everything that I was seeing — flour line massacres in Gaza, for example, airdrops of humanitarian aid that killed some of the people they were intended to help because they landed on top of these people — also happened in Bosnia. I began seeing just the same kinds of incidents, that were the constituent elements in Bosnia of genocide, also happening in Gaza, but — kind of most disturbing in a way — at a scale that was larger than Bosnia. I mean, for example, you know, in Bosnia, over the course of its four-year war, there were something like 7,000 or 8,000 children killed, which is terrible. In Gaza, over the course of just six months, there have been more than 13,000 children killed. So, you know, I just could not help but see not only the parallels, but also how what seems to be unfolding in Gaza is even worse than what I saw in Bosnia.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And we have less than a minute left, but I’m wondering your perspective on how the U.S. media has been covering the war in Gaza.

    PETER MAASS: It’s been a real mixed bag. And it was a real mixed bag in Bosnia. And we’re all kind of captives of our experiences. And so, I covered the war in Bosnia, and I also covered other wars. So, you know, I may be talking too much about Bosnia, but I think it is relevant. In Bosnia, there was exceptionally good coverage, I think — and I’m biased on this, but I think — from the journalists who were on the ground, largely foreign journalists, but also a lot of Bosnian journalists — really good coverage of actually what was going on. But then, in the foreign capitals, in Washington, D.C., but also London and France — France and Britain were very important elements of the international community at the time — the reporting was terrible, because it reflected the kind of briefings that the journalists were getting from all their government sources and all the think tank people, and they were just saying, “Oh, it’s a mess there. These people — 

    AMY GOODMAN: We have 15 seconds, Peter.

    PETER MAASS: — “plan to kill each other.” So, we have the same problem now, where there’s a lot of bad coverage coming out of the capitals, such as Washington, although from the ground itself, reporting is quite excellent.

    AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you so much for being with us, Peter Maass, journalist, former senior editor for The Intercept, author of Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War. We’ll link to your latest piece in The Washington Post. He also covered U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq for The New York Times. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Thanks so much for joining us.

    This morning, ALJAZEERA notes:

    A woman who lost family members in the Maghazi refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip, has described the Israeli strike that killed 11 people, including several children.

    “My brothers were sitting by the door, my brother was injured, and his cousin too. And I lost my son. I do not have a house, or a husband, or anything any more,” said Wafaa Issa al-Nouri, whose son Mohammad and husband were killed in the attack.

    “He was playing by the door,” she said of her son. “We didn’t do anything, I swear we didn’t do anything.”


    Gaza remains under assault. Day 194 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  THE NATIONAL notes, "The death toll in Gaza has risen to 38,899 after 56 people were killed in the last 24 hours, according to the enclave's Health Ministry.  Another 89 people were wounded, taking the total number of injured to 76,664 since the war began."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:






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

    As for the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."



    State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said U.S. officials will bring to Israel findings of a new Washington Post investigation into the killing of 6-year-old Hind Rajab and her family in a car.

    The Post found that Israeli armored vehicles were present on Jan. 29 in the vicinity of the family’s car in the afternoon and that gunfire was audible as Hind and her cousin Layan begged for help. Steven Beck, an acoustic analyst who consulted with the FBI for more than a decade, examined the recording of the gunshots at the request of The Post and found that the number of rounds per minute fired was faster than an automatic AK-patterned rifle, which Hamas fighters often use. The rate, he said, was more akin to weapons commonly issued to Israeli forces. Earshot also found that the rate of fire to be faster than an AK-patterned rifle.

    In addition, damage to the family’s vehicle is consistent with rounds fired by Israeli tanks. The findings contradict prior statements by the Israel Defense Forces, who said no IDF forces were present in the area where Hind and her family — as well as the two paramedics sent to rescue her — were killed.

    Hours after the investigation was published Tuesday, Miller said at a news briefing that the State Department will “take the information that is contained in that Washington Post story” and “go back to the government of Israel and ask them for further information.”

    “When she first died and we saw the reports of her death, we raised the matter with the government of Israel directly. They told us that they had conducted an investigation and found that there were no IDF units in the area at the time of her death,” Miller said. “I read The Post report. The Post has concluded something to the contrary.”


    Meanwhile, CAIR released the following statement yesterday:

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned the latest Israeli war crimes in Gaza, including a massacre of children, reports that drones are broadcasting sounds of babies crying to lure Gazans to kill zones and massive Israeli destruction of homes in a so-called “buffer zone” in Gaza.

    The WAFA News Agency reports that a new massacre in the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza resulted in the killing of 11 people, the majority of whom were children.

    Online reports indicate that Israeli drones flying over Al-Nuseirat refugee camp play recordings of screaming women and children to draw residents out in search of the victims so that they can be killed.

    According to Israeli media, 90 percent of buildings within a so-called “buffer zone” being constructed by Israeli forces in Gaza were damaged or destroyed. That destruction could constitute a war crime.

    In a statement, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said:

    “These Israeli crimes against humanity are being committed daily – even hourly – with the active support of the Biden administration. Without concrete action to end the genocide, ethnic cleansing and forces starvation in Gaza, our nation’s reputation on the world stage will be irreparably harmed.”

    Over the weekend, CAIR condemned the far-right Israeli government’s attack on Palestinian families – mostly women and children – seeking to return to their homes in devastated North Gaza.

    CAIR also condemned widespread attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank by illegal Israeli settlers, protected by the Israeli military.

    CAIR recently said the Biden administration must reject the far-right Israeli government’s “transparent” attempt to distract from the Gaza genocide by dragging the U.S. into a regional war and instead demand that the Israeli government de-escalate the crisis it started by bombing an Iranian embassy building.

    Last Friday, CAIR said that President Biden must take action following comments by USAID Chief Samantha Powell agreeing with the UN’s assessment that a famine is imminent in Gaza and reports of massacres committed by Israeli forces at the Al-Shifa Hospital. 

    CAIR also condemned the killing of 25 people in an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza City.

    Democrats, Republicans and independents have all become less supportive of Israel’s operation in Gaza than they were in December. Then, a narrow majority approved of Israeli conduct. The latest figures show that a majority, 55%, disapprove of Israel’s actions, while 36% approve.

    CBS News poll: Rising numbers of Americans say Biden should encourage Israel to stop Gaza actions

    END  

    CONTACT: CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530, e-Mitchell@cair.com; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com, CAIR National Communications Manager Ismail Allison, 202-770-6280, iallison@cair.com




    The following sites updated: