Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Closet case Michael Johnson

Does Mike Johnson honestly think he fools anyone?  I wonder.  This:

A homophobe can only hide for so long.

Ever since Mike Johnson’s improbable ascension to House Speaker, the Louisiana Republican has tried to mask his virulent anti-gay past. Despite clamoring for the reintroduction of sodomy laws and calling homosexuality a “dangerous lifestyle,” Johnson now says he “loves” gay people.

But his tone changes when he needs to raise money.

In a new fundraising email, Johnson abandons his pretense of moderation, and dives right back into gay-bashing.

His target, you ask?

LGBTQ+ high school students, of course!

“1 in 4 high school students identifies as something other than straight,” Johnson frets in the email. “What are they being taught in school?”

“Our culture has fallen so far since the founding of our country, and it’s just getting worse. I fear America may be beyond redemption.”

Mike Johnson has  to be a closet case.  I really don't know who he thinks he's fooling.  And shame on him for trying to use teenagers as canon fodder in his bizarre attempts to save his own ass. Back to the article:

One of Johnson’s former clients, radical Christian preacher Grant Storms, staged a violent protest in 2003 against New Orleans’ Southern Decadence, an annual celebration of LGBTQ+ people. One of the attendees attempted to murder a man with a five-inch steak knife.

The stabber admitted in a recorded confession he “wanted to kill a gay man.”

Following that episode, Storms spoke at an event called the “International Conference on Homo-Fascism” (where’s our invite?) and invoked violent imagery. Years later, he was arrested for masturbating in his van near a playground.

He's disgusting.  And the perfect example of how hiding in the closet drives a person nuts.

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

Tuesday, December 5, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues as protests increase. 

Let's start with a US Defense Dept press briefing which took place yesterday:

DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY SABRINA SINGH:  Good morning, everyone.  Happy Monday.  It's pretty busy, so just to provide some information upfront and then we'll happily take questions.

So, as probably most folks are tracking, there were four attacks against three separate commercial vessels yesterday that were operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea.

The USS Carney responded to distress calls from the ships and provided assistance.  These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security.  They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world.  And we also believe these attacks, while launched from -- while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.

The United States will continue all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.

Also yesterday, on December 3, near Kirkuk, Iraq, forces assigned to combine joint task force Operation Inherent Resolve, engaged five militants preparing to launch a one-way attack drone.  Operation Inherent Resolve forces responded in self-defense with an armed U.S. uncrewed aerial system, killing all five militants and destroying the drone.

Iraqi security forces were notified of the strike and responded to the location, where they confirmed the death of the militants and the destruction of the -- of the drone.

[. . .]


Q:  Just to follow-up on the Kirkuk attack, can you -- you said it was an uncrewed aerial system?

MS. SINGH:  Yes.

Q:  Was it just one?  And can you say, more specifically, what aircraft that was and the current info?

MS. SINGH:  All I can give is what I read out, unfortunately.  I can tell you that the combined joint taskforce Operation Inherent Resolve forces responded in self-defense.  It was an uncrewed aerial system, and it did kill all five militants.  But -- and destroyed the drone, but that's -- that's all I have for now.

Q:  So, it was a dynamic?  It wasn't -- it wasn't like a pre-planned thing?

MS. SINGH:  It was -- it was not pre-planned in that it was how we've traditionally announced these from previous strikes.  It was something though that was observed by our forces and therefore under, you know, our ability -- for inherent right to self-defense we took action.

Q:  And then, can you just give us an update on the number of injuries in the attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria so far, please?

MS. SINGH:  I don't have an update on the number of injuries.  That's something that we're working through.  And, as always, we'll update you when I have more of an update.  I believe on the number of attacks we're up to -- oh, thank you, I believe we're up to 76 attacks as of today.  But, as you know, I don't have all the breakdown of every single place.  But we can get you that.  And I know you that is Pete is tracking that well -- Pete and Mac I should say.

Thank you.  Wafaa?

Q:  On the same subject, you said the Iraqi forces were notified of the strike, before or after?  Like, did you coordinate with them?

MS. SINGH:  We -- they were notified of the strike, and I'll just leave it at that.

Q:  Okay, because the Iraqis are, like the Iraqis considering this as a violation of their sovereign -- sovereignty.  So my question is under the security agreement with the Iraqis, does -- the United States has the right to conduct such -- such strikes without coordinating or notifying the government of Iraq?

MS. SINGH:  We have the inherent right to self-defense.  When we saw what these five militants were doing and -- and were preparing to do to take action against our forces, we took action so that they would not harm or damage any infrastructure.  That is inherently our right to self-defense.

We did notify the Iraqi government, and as I mentioned, they did go out and confirm that all five militants were dead, but I'm just going to leave it at that for now.

So to recap, the US government attacked the Iraqi forces -- the militias were made part of the Iraqi government forces years ago -- and the Iraqi forces, per the US Defense Dept, was making its 76th attack on US forces since the start of the assault on Gaza nearly two months ago.  

"I know people in the West would like to hear me condemn Hamas," says Rawan Al-Zaidi in Baghdad. "But I can't do that." The world had forgotten all about the Palestinians, she says, and now they are on everyone's lips again. Thanks to Hamas. "Whatever Israel does, the more atrocities its army commits against our people, the stronger Hamas becomes. It will never be possible to eliminate them." The prisoner exchange has now made people even more sympathetic, she says. 

Rawan is sitting in a small cafe called Branch in the upscale Baghdad district of Jadria, about 100 metres from the most expensive hotel in the Iraqi capital, where many Western diplomats come and go. Since the Gaza war began almost eight weeks ago, with Israel retaliating for the massacre perpetrated by Hamas in Israeli kibbutzim, the 27-year-old has been losing sleep, withdrawing into herself and becoming apathetic. 

The otherwise lively young woman, whose words usually flow effortlessly, a person who once took on new tasks with energy and verve and made a career as a successful entrepreneur, who has a husband and two children, has suddenly fallen silent. She finds herself unable to come to terms with what is happening to her people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. At Branch, she meets up with like-minded people to exchange views.

Although Rawan was born in Iraq and has Iraqi citizenship, she currently feels completely Palestinian. Her family comes from the small village of Deir al Sudan in the West Bank, not far from Ramallah. 

Her cousin worked as a doctor at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. But since Israel has been bombing the Gaza Strip almost around the clock and sending in ground troops, Rawan has not heard anything from her. 

[. . .]

Palestinian flags and scarves can be seen everywhere in a show of solidarity, while aid campaigns are being coordinated and committees set up. Baghdad delivered an entire bakery to the Gaza Strip. Iraq has in fact taken the lead in supporting the Palestinians. 

Whether there were actually a million people who showed up for the protest on Tahrir Square in Baghdad doesn't matter. There were certainly hundreds of thousands. The route from the legendary protest site in the heart of the Iraqi capital to the water tower behind it stretched for one kilometre. And people stood tightly packed the entire way, leaving just enough space to kneel down when the imam said Friday prayers. 

They had all come to demonstrate for the Palestinians and against Israel. It was the largest protest worldwide since the Hamas attack on 7 October. "We are all here for the Palestinians, against Israel, against America and against all those who support Israel," were the words repeated over and over again by everyone who was interviewed.

One million people protesting  in Baghdad.   Protests take place around the world over the continued assault on Gaza.  Even in Dubai at the UN climate conference.  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: These are voices of a protest Sunday when over a hundred people gathered on the sidelines of the U.N. climate summit for a peaceful action in solidarity with the Palestinian people demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

PROTESTER 1: When human rights are under attack, what do we do?

PROTESTERS: Stand up, fight back!

PROTESTER 2: We’ll be reading for you today from the Gaza Ministry of Health list of names of all those who have been killed since October 7th.

PROTESTER 3: Moaz Etemad Youssef Dalloul, female [sic] — male, 6 years old. Tala Amjad Alyan Abu Ayada, 5 years old. Elaine Amjad Alyan Abu Ayada, 3 years old. Hamza Muhammad Nahed Al-Fasih, 3 years old.

PROTESTER 1: The names are still being written.

TARIQ LUTHUN: My name is Tariq Luthun. I am a Gazawi born in Detroit. This violence is not happening just in my hometown of Gaza. It’s happening everywhere. Being in Detroit, there are so many situations in which water has been cut off. Being just down the street from Flint, Michigan, we see water be poisoned and polluted for the people and the residents of Flint. And precedents like that, where people are expendable, is only possible because of the violence we see inflicted upon people back in my homeland. And because of that, we are taking a stand here today not just as Palestinian people, myself, but people who are allied with justice for all people across the world, because that is what is necessary to have true climate justice. What good is finding a world that is green if the roots are soaked in blood? What good is a world that is green if there’s nobody left to live in it? The precedent set on people’s lives and the calculations we make as to who is expendable, that is the precedent we set for who’s expendable anywhere.

PROTESTER 1: Hey ho! Take me by the hand! Strong in solidarity we stand! Human rights and justice! Human rights and justice! Hey ho! End the apartheid!

SHIRINE JURDI: Just because now we have social media, we were able to see some of the facts. Have you seen this TikTok that went viral? We know TikToks that goes viral about food. Did you see this TikTok about how you remove white phosphorus from your body? Because white phosphorus weapons are being shelled on people, shelled on civilians, shelled on women and children. And this is where most of the casualties are. Lots of women were — we have almost 50,000 women pregnant, trying to deliver at this time of the period, and these women, lots of them, lost their lives, and, if you have seen, also these newborn babies. Have you seen them? Have you seen them struggling for air to breathe? But, unfortunately, electricity was cut off. They had no food, no water, no sanitation. They had nothing to breathe on. They had nothing to survive on. And lots of these newborn children were killed. And let’s be their voices.

CHEBON KERNELL: [speaking in Muscogee] I come here from the continent of North America representing our Indigenous peoples of our Muscogee communities who for many years now we have lived in an occupied state. We were dispossessed of our lands. We were forced upon reservations, where we were confined to one area. The water and the resources that we had known for thousands upon thousands of years were taken from us and commodified and exploited and stolen from our peoples. Today we come here, and I stand here and have been asked to say these words, because I stand in solidarity with each one of my relatives here and everything that you’re going through, my relatives on these lists here. I’m never going to forget those names that are being said. And one day I will greet them when I join them in the spirit world. But today I want to say something before more violence is incurred, that this has to stop now.

ANCEL LANGWA: I stand here as a member of Africans Rising, which is a Pan-African movement of Africans working for unity, justice, peace and dignity. Just like Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral institutions of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” So we are here because we have decided that we shall not be neutral.

ASAD REHMAN: Sisters, brothers, solidarity, greetings from the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice.

Today we stand in a space bearing the words “the United Nations,” in a process we are deeply committed to as the eyes, ears and voices of our people fighting for justice, the body that was created after the horrors of the Second World War with a promise of “never again,” a promise that made it illegal to target civilians, a promise that made it illegal to use food, water, medicine as a weapon of war, a promise of human rights, a promise that all people would be able to live with dignity, free from occupation and oppression.

And for these last two months we have witnessed not just the Palestinian people starved, trapped, cut off from the world, bombed and killed, their screams echoing throughout the night with no hope of rescue, as every morning we wait desperately for that message that our friends and our colleagues are still alive, but whilst watching the international community stand in silence — and again, not just for these last two months, but for 15 years of an illegal blockade, for 50 years of an occupation and apartheid, and a hundred years of ethnic cleansing and settler colonialism. We watched an international community that has been actively complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity, where the genocidal intent isn’t even bothered to be hidden anymore. And still, of course, that’s not enough. We’ve seen hospitals, schools bombed. We’ve seen medics, journalists and even U.N. staff killed, 18,000 people. Human rights and humanitarian law is lying in shreds.

And some ask — some ask us: Why do we care about the Palestinians? Why do climate justice groups mobilize in their millions, from Pakistan to the Philippines, from Belgium to Brazil, from South Africa to Sweden? Why is it our people from all around the world — Black, white, Brown, Jew, Muslim, Christian — are taking to the streets? It’s because we have seen the masks that have slipped. We have seen how the Palestinians are not even viewed as human beings. And in the faces of the Palestinians, for Black, Brown and Indigenous people, we see our past, our present and our future, of lives deemed less valuable than others, of an arc of 500 years of colonialism and racialized capitalism, of sacrificed people and of sacrificed land, of the powerful profiting from oppression, but then saying they don’t have any money for climate finance, but billions for bombs and bullets against the people.

And we say — and we say to those powerful countries, who put words of human rights into texts over there, that no amount of empty words will ever erase your complicity. You not only wrote the blank check, you enabled this. You own this. You own this as much as those who are dropping the bombs on the terrified people of Palestine. So, here today, we, the peoples of the world, say to the Palestinian people, the international community over there may have forgotten you, but you are not alone. You will never be alone, because we are all Palestinians! Ceasefire now! End settler colonialism! End apartheid! End the occupation! Free Palestine!

PROTESTER 1: We’re going to close this moment by respecting the names, the identities, the children, the women, the mothers, the fathers, the journalists have been murdered. We are going to read some of those names.

PROTESTER 4: Issa Ahmed Issa Al-Nashar, 8 years old. Zaid Sabry Musleh Radi, 8 years old. Fayez Shadi Fayez Al-Dakka, 8 years old.

TARIQ LUTHUN: Menna Essam Mahmoud Abu Eyada, 14 years old. Mahmoud Muhammad Fathi Al-Shaer, 14 years old.

PROTESTER 5: Amjad Khaled Kamal Rashwan, 3 years old. Salma Muhammad Khalil Abu Al-Ala, 2 years old.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from a protest Sunday inside the U.N. climate summit here in Dubai, showing solidarity with the Palestinian people, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The first voice in this last segment was Chebon Kernell of the Muscogee Nation here in the United States, and the last speech you heard was our guest right now, Asad Rehman.

Here in the U.S., a protester is in critical condition after setting themself on fire Friday outside the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia. Authorities said the protester never posed a threat to consular staff, and the self-immolation was believed to be “an act of extreme political protest.”

In Denver, Colorado, hundreds of Jewish activists and their allies blocked traffic on the busy Speer Boulevard Sunday following a week of protests outside the Colorado Convention Center, where the Jewish National Fund was holding its Global Conference for Israel. Fifteen members of Jewish Voice for Peace were arrested after chaining themselves together on the road and halting traffic for over an hour.

The United Auto Workers became the latest, and largest, union to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The UAW joins the American Postal Workers Union, the California Nurses Association, the Chicago Teachers Union and others in calling for a ceasefire. The UAW is also creating a “divestment and just transition working group” and taking a closer look at the union’s “economic ties to the conflict.”

As  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."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."  ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, more than 15,000 people have been killed and over 41,000 have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  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."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

NBC NEWS notes this morning, "The intense aerial and ground assault is fueling mounting concern for civilians crowded into the area, many of whom fled bombardment and battles in the north at Israel's urging. Gazans are now being warned to evacuate large areas of the south, but 'there is nowhere safe to go and very little to survive on,' U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said."  THE TIMES OF INDIA adds, "A World Health Organization official in Gaza said on Tuesday the situation there as deteriorating by the hour as Israeli bombing has intensified in the south of the enclave around the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah. The situation is getting worse by the hour,' Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative on the occupied Palestinian territory, told reporters via video link from Gaza. 'There's intensified bombing going on all around, including here in the southern areas, Khan Younis and even in Rafah'."

Monday, Amy Goodman observed, "Ambulance drivers have been targeted by Israeli snipers, including a medic who was shot transporting an injured person toward al-Awda Hospital."  Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

When not attacking civilians, the Israeli government attacked medical personnel:

Israeli forces fired upon two ambulances in the Faluja area of the north of Gaza, injuring two paramedics and an accompanying injured person on Sunday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.

  • This morning, ALJAZEERA notes:

    The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has shared footage of the moment an Israeli artillery tank targeted the vicinity of two ambulances in Gaza.

    PRCS said the two ambulances were attending to casualties in Deir el-Balah, southern Gaza.


    Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) notes, "Palestinians mourn the death of loved ones, killed by Israeli strikes, outside a hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza this morning."  ALJAZEERA explains, "Twenty-six out of 35 hospitals in Gaza are currently out of service, and 52 out of 72 primary healthcare clinics have been shut down."  The editorial board of WSWS points out, "Israel has deliberately carried out a campaign to target all places of refuge, from the north of the Gaza Strip to the south. It has systematically bombed and raided hospitals, displacing doctors, patients and refugees at gunpoint. Those too weak to move have simply been abandoned to die, including five premature babies whose bodies were discovered last week after they were left to die alone at Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital. By every definition, Israel’s actions are a textbook case of genocide."  Jennifer Hassan (WASHINGTON POST) quotes the World Health Organization declaring "The remaining hos'pitals in those areas run without sufficient fuel, medicines, food, water, or protection of health workers. And Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

      The international president of Doctors Without Borders on Monday pleaded with members of the United Nations Security Council to do everything in their power to halt the Israeli military's expanding assault on the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 15,000 people in less than two months and decimated the territory's healthcare system.

    In an open letter, Dr. Christos Christou wrote that "words fail us to describe the absolute horror being inflicted on Palestinian civilians by Israel as it carries out incessant and indiscriminate warfare in Gaza for all the world to see."

    "Israel has shown a blatant and total disregard for the protection of Gaza's medical facilities. We are watching as hospitals are turned into morgues and ruins," he continued. "These supposedly protected facilities are being bombed, are being shot at by tanks and guns, encircled, and raided, killing patients and medical staff... Medical staff, including our own, are utterly exhausted and in despair. They have had to amputate limbs from children suffering from severe burns without anesthesia or sterilized surgical tools."

    Hundreds of medical workers, including four Doctors Without Borders staff members, have been killed in Israel's weekslong attack on Gaza. Following a seven-day pause that ended last week, Israel began broadening its ground offensive and bombardment to include swaths of southern Gaza—where many fled in response to Israeli evacuation orders in the north.

    The following sites updated:

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