Saturday, March 30, 2024

Transgender Day of Visibility

Juliana Kim and Jonathan Franklin (NPR) report:

 

This Sunday, people from Kosovo to the Netherlands to the U.S. are organizing events to celebrate the transgender and nonbinary community — marking the 15th year of International Transgender Visibility Day.

Its founder, Rachel Crandall-Crocker, a psychotherapist and the executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Transgender Michigan, still can't believe it.

"It really is amazing how far it has come," she told NPR. "I wasn't expecting to start an international movement."

More than 1.6 million people in the U.S. identify as transgender, according to a 2022 study from the Williams Institute, a research center at UCLA's law school. 

It is amazing and it is good.  And comfort grows each year and will continue to.  There's a lot of confusion because there are a lot of lies that come from politicians who are in bed with corporations so they attack transgendered people and pretend that's somehow serving the country.  It's not.  It is a distraction to prevent people from grasping how much they are being ripped off and how much price gouging is taking place -- even at the grocery store.  


They have scapegoated transgender people as a means of distraction.  


Applause for Joe Biden who has refused to join the scapegoating.  The president has shown real support and leadership on this issue.  Yesterday, the White House released the following statement:


       A Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility, 2024

On Transgender Day of Visibility, we honor the extraordinary courage and contributions of transgender Americans and reaffirm our Nation’s commitment to forming a more perfect Union — where all people are created equal and treated equally throughout their lives.  

I am proud that my Administration has stood for justice from the start, working to ensure that the LGBTQI+ community can live openly, in safety, with dignity and respect.  I am proud to have appointed transgender leaders to my Administration and to have ended the ban on transgender Americans serving openly in our military.  I am proud to have signed historic Executive Orders that strengthen civil rights protections in housing, employment, health care, education, the justice system, and more.  I am proud to have signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law, ensuring that every American can marry the person they love. 

Transgender Americans are part of the fabric of our Nation.  Whether serving their communities or in the military, raising families or running businesses, they help America thrive.  They deserve, and are entitled to, the same rights and freedoms as every other American, including the most fundamental freedom to be their true selves.  But extremists are proposing hundreds of hateful laws that target and terrify transgender kids and their families — silencing teachers; banning books; and even threatening parents, doctors, and nurses with prison for helping parents get care for their children.  These bills attack our most basic American values:  the freedom to be yourself, the freedom to make your own health care decisions, and even the right to raise your own child.  It is no surprise that the bullying and discrimination that transgender Americans face is worsening our Nation’s mental health crisis, leading half of transgender youth to consider suicide in the past year.  At the same time, an epidemic of violence against transgender women and girls, especially women and girls of color, continues to take too many lives.  Let me be clear:  All of these attacks are un-American and must end.  No one should have to be brave just to be themselves.  

At the same time, my Administration is working to stop the bullying and harassment of transgender children and their families.  The Department of Justice has taken action to push back against extreme and un-American State laws targeting transgender youth and their families and the Department of Justice is partnering with law enforcement and community groups to combat hate and violence.  My Administration is also providing dedicated emergency mental health support through our nationwide suicide and crisis lifeline — any LGBTQI+ young person in need can call “988” and press “3” to speak with a counselor trained to support them.  We are making public services more accessible for transgender Americans, including with more inclusive passports and easier access to Social Security benefits.  There is much more to do.  I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Equality Act, to codify civil rights protections for all LGBTQI+ Americans.

Today, we send a message to all transgender Americans:  You are loved.  You are heard.  You are understood.  You belong.  You are America, and my entire Administration and I have your back.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 31, 2024, as Transgender Day of Visibility.  I call upon all Americans to join us in lifting up the lives and voices of transgender people throughout our Nation and to work toward eliminating violence and discrimination based on gender identity.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-eighth.

                             JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.


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


Friday, March 29, 2024.  We look at the sad and depressing world of US presidential campaigns.

Yesterday, in NYC, it was a gathering of presidents as President Joe Biden was joined by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for a big fundraiser.  That's a single sentence and does not have enough interest for me to include it in the snapshot  -- let alone open with it.  What makes it news to me?  , and CNN) report:

             

The event was interrupted at least four times by protesters, with at least three calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“That’s alright. Let them go. There’s a lot of people who are very, very — there are too many innocent victims, Israeli and Palestinian. We’ve got to get more food and medicine, supplies into the Palestinians,” Biden said, according to journalists in the room, following one interruption. “But we can’t forget, Israel is in a position where its very existence is at stake. You have to have all those people. They weren’t killed. They were massacred. They were massacred.”

Ahead of the fundraiser, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Midtown Manhattan to protest Biden’s support for Israel amid its war in Gaza and call for a ceasefire. Biden has called for a temporary ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas.     


How embarrassing.  That's like a Hillary Clinton visits a college campus appearance.

Jeff Mason (TIMES OF ISRAEL) adds:


“Shame on you, Joe Biden!” one yelled.

Obama and Clinton offered a presidential perspective of the Gaza crisis that stressed the political realities of being in the White House.

A president needs to be able to support Israel at the same time as fighting for Palestinians to have more access to food, medical supplies and a future state, they said.

“It’s a lonely seat,” Obama said. “One of the realities of the presidency is that the world has a lot of joy and beauty, but it also has a lot of tragedy and cruelty.”



Boo!  Boo!  Let's all boo that from Barack!  Poor, little president, such a rough job.  What could be worse?


Uh, try living in Palestine right now for starters.

This was a fundraiser.  They're getting heckled at a fundraiser.  That's how deeply unpopular the US government's embrace of the assault on Gaza is.


The whole thing was a nightmare.  And that includes the visuals.  Who decided, for example, that the three men -- at a pricey fundraiser -- should all go tieless?  Did they think that made them look like regular people?


It didn't work for any of them but especially not for Bill.  He needed that tie to avoid people wondering if he'd stolen one of Hillary Clinton's pant suits for the night.  







There are other campaigns taking place.  Marianne Williamson, for example, relaunched her campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination not to secure the nomination -- Joe Biden has it -- but to raise important and needed issues.




Marianne Williamson:  Ten years ago, if I was, after I'd seen a patient and I told the patient what medicine or what treatment I wanted, ten years ago the question would have been, "What are the side effects?"  Today, the question is often -- more often, "How much will it cost me?"  You have 18 million Americans who cannot afford to pay for the prescriptions that their doctors give them.  And I don't believe that incremental changes are going to fix this.  We are already in crisis mode.  And if Washington doesn't see it, the average American does see it. People are living with-with the silent emergencies of poverty.  The silent emergencies of hunger.  You know we talk about COVID being an emergency.  COVID was what's called a screaming emergency.  Once the president declared that it was no longer an emergency and millions of people were thrown off Medicaid and SNAP benefits.  People were basically just told "Go back to life as you were living it" which was already an emergency -- a constant emergency.  The emergency of poverty.  The emergency of hunger.  The emergency of having to work two or three jobs just to put food on the table.  And I'll tell you something, at this point, what we should see as the emergency of hopelessness.  We should not talk about this mental health crisis as anything other than an emergency of hopelessness. and despair. 


Last Saturday, Democratic Party primaries were held in Louisiana and in Missouri.  Joe won both, no surprise.  In Louisiana, Marianne came in second with 4.7% of the vote and in Missouri she came in third with 1.6% of the vote -- second place went to "Uncommitted" which received 11.7% of the vote. 

Outside the Democratic Party?  That's where you'll find Robert Kennedy Junior.  Filip Timotija (THE HILL) reports:


A super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent presidential bid said it raised over $2 million following the candidate’s official announcement of his running mate.

American Values 2024, the main outside group supporting Kennedy’s White House bid, raked in $2.1 million at a fundraiser on Tuesday, right after the official announcement of tech attorney and entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan joining his 2024 ticket, PAC head Tony Lyons shared first with The Hill.

Around 60 donors attended the outside group’s cocktail party, Lyons said.

Hmm.  I'm reminded of a Whitney Houston song.


Friday night you and your boys went out to eat, uhhh
Then they hung out
But you came home around three, yes you did
If six of y'all went out, ah
Then four of you were really cheap, yeah
Cause only two of you had dinner
I found your credit card receipt
-- "It's Not Right But It's Okay," written by Whitney Houston, LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, Isaac Phillips and Toni Estes, first appears on Whitney's MY LOVE IS YOUR LOVE

 

So if each of the sixty donated the same amount -- and each donated -- that would be $35,000 a piece.

Like Whitney sang, "It's  not right but it's okay."  Con artist Junior gets further and further from pretending to be the common person concerned about the little people.  Team Junior thought that two million was impressive.  But then came Joe's $25 million night.  Again, the question is, what's the real difference between Junior's 'independent' campaign and one from the duopoly?

The supporters?  It's the crazy and the selfish supporting Junior.  Jeremy B. White (POLITICO) reports:


The new Kennedy voters scattering through the cavernous venue have traveled a long way from Camelot. Talking to them, it’s clear their misgivings about powerful institutions — what they see as a panoply of venal politicians, an untrustworthy media, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Tech — has led many of them to embrace fringe theories. A shared aversion to vaccines hardened during the Covid-19 pandemic. They worry about chemicals and monoculture crops eroding public health. They’re weary of grinding foreign wars. They admire Kennedy’s history of challenging powerful corporations.

But above all else, they believe the American political system is fundamentally broken and that both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will perpetuate its disrepair. They’re ex-Democrats, former Republicans and newly active independents — and they all talk about feeling both a profound disillusionment in the state of the nation and a deep optimism that Kennedy would lead them to something better.

“The other two candidates promote the division that is plaguing our country,” says Sarah Morris, a former “party-voting Democrat” who felt “ostracized by the left” for not wanting to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Some people “weaponize the idea of being a conspiracy theorist,” she says, so she decided to “wear it as a badge of honor.”

Literally: She showed up sporting a gray baseball cap with the words “Tin Foil” written on it.


We'll note THE DAILY SHOW on Junior's fans not embracing his v.p. choice.



We'll also note Leslie Jones from THE DAILY SHOW on Donald Trump.



On the GOP side, last Saturday only Louisiana held a primary.  Donald garnered 89.8% of the vote.  Nikki Haley came in second with 6.8%.

We got two more to cover.  Cornel West and Jill Stein.

Jill Stein is garbage.  She's lying about Cornel now proving she's garbage.  But we made the call that Jill was garbage in 2012 when Ava and I wrote "Let the fun begin (Ava and C.I.):"
 


Jill Stein.

As feminists, we wondered six weeks ago, what do we do?

Roseanne had already imploded.  (Cindy Sheehan has a story to tell and then some.)  She couldn't and wouldn't campaign, she apparently wouldn't pay workers she hired for her campaign, she was an embarrassment.

And so was Jill Stein.

As feminists, do we call it as it is?

We debated that for three days.  Jill wasn't going to win the presidency.  In fact, it was obvious she was running off the limited votes she did have a shot at.

But did we tell the truth on that?  Did we call her out?

We crossed the line on gender with the decision -- a feminist one (not "the" feminist one) -- that she was running for public office and therefore had to be treated the same as anyone else would even if, in the closing weeks, we were going to tear her apart.

But . . .

Having dealt with the feminist issue, we still had the issue of third parties.

Was it really fair to beat up on a third party candidate?

Adding to the problems, one of us (Ava) is involved with a lifelong Green (Jess), has a child by him, has made a home with him.

And Jess was very clear that Jill Stein was "a f**king idiot but the Greens need to be on ballots."  And they were.  Texas, for example.  We heard from Billie who early voted for Jill Stein.  She was so excited because Jill Stein was on the ballot.  She didn't have to write her in.  Right there on the Texas ballot was the Green Party.

What do we do?

In the end, we decided, "We don't promote her.  We don't mention her.  That's true here, that's true at Third."

So we bit our tongues.

As she ran a stupid campaign.  As she made a fool of herself and the Green Party.  (Granted, it's a party that loves to make a fool of itself.)

She -- and others -- did a debate with Larry King.  A debate that did not include all.  A new hurdle was invented.

Green Party members, you know what a hurdle is, right?  It's what keeps your candidate out of the so-called presidential debates every four years.  Why the hell would you take part in a debate that did not invite everyone who made it onto a state's ballot as a presidential candidate?

Because hypocrisy is a charge you live to embrace?

Maybe so.

Supposedly the Green Party is opposed to war.

So when Tim Arango reported the White House was negotiating with Nouri to send more troops back into Iraq, Jill Stein should have led on that.

But she's a politician which is just a whore without the desire to please a customer.

So Jill ignored it.

She ignored a lot.

Six weeks ago, in fact, after Barack cratered in the first debate, she and her campaign began going after Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Huh?

You're a Green.  You're on the left.  The high profile left vote getter just imploded on national TV.  It's the perfect time for you to pick up some of his voters.

But you refuse to try.  You rush to go after Romney and Ryan instead.

Why is that?

Because you are not a real party.

Because you will forever be the little sister of the Democratic Party.

Because every four years, you start off with promise and end up revealing just how craven and disgusting you are.

If we are offering commentary four years from now, please note, being a Green will not save you.  Being third party will not save you. 



I'm not a Cornel West defender.  I don't think he should be running for president.  I don't think he put the time into it before deciding to run and I don't think he's put the time in it for a campaign.  

Jill Stein seems to think she can attack Cornel and get away with it.

To a degree, she's right.  She can get away wit it because there are a lot of whores out there.  The two whores that host THE VANGUARD for example.

"Gavin you called it, no Zac you called it, scratch my nuts boyfriend!"

I'm so sick of those damn liars.  They get something 1/4 right and they claim they called it -- ignoring the 3/4s they got wrong.  But worse is how they just outright lie.

They brought on Jill recently.  And you know what, some people had been pimping Cornel's campaign and -- Wait?

Some people?

You two freaks pimped the campaign.  You lied and you whored.  You're worse than anything on FOX "NEWS."  And let's remember, I called out Marianne Williamson many times.  But I especially called out her nonsense of not pushing back on Bill Mahr's transphobia in the one-on-one interview they did.  

What did freaky stoners do on THE VANGUARD?

Whored like the cheapest street walkers you'll ever meet.  I had to live through the garbage claims that when Barack was selling out, he wasn't selling out!  He was playing three dimensional chess!

THE VANGUARD boys pulled that this year and claimed that Marianne's refusal to pushback was great strategy and was this and was that.

No, it was embarrassing and the only thing more embarrassing than what she did was watching THE VANGUARD BOYS try to spin it for her.

I don't like whores.

There are many reasons I hate fat ass stalker and fake feminist Katha Pollitt.  But one of the biggest reasons after Abeer (Katha refused to cover the gang-rape and murder of the Iraqi girl and then, under real pressure and facing real backlash, she devoted one single sentence to Abeer) is that Katha thought Sarah Palin gave a great opening speech but wrote the opposite in her piece for THE NATION.  As her leaked journolist contribution made clear.  So she's paid to write an opinion piece and she can't even be honest in it?  That's a cheap whore.

And that's what THE VANGUARD boys are.

I'm not giving credit to anybody in the following for a number of reasons including whoring.  If you got it right about Jill months ago and you're now fawning over her -- BLACK POWER MEDIA, I'm looking at you --I'm not in the mood.  I'm not your Mommy.  I don't have to applaud your baby steps.  Equally true, if you're such a whore -- BPM's Jared Ball, I'm looking at you -- that you won't even stand up for the scoop you got, it's not my job to applaud you or to kiss your boo-boo and tell you to go back outside and play.

So many damn whores and we wonder what it's so hard to get the left motivated.

So here's reality.  

Cornel West did not wake up in January 2023 thinking he wanted to run for president.

A college professor, motivational speaker and writer of books for non-readers, he had plenty on his hands already. 

But Chris Hedges wanted to run for office.  The journalist wanted to run for office in years prior but would have had to give up RT at that time so he decided not to.

Chris was very close with the disgraced People's Party.  He presented himself and Cornel as a package deal.  They were set to announce the ticket.

Instead?

Chris' wife told him that he was not running for vice president.

So Cornel was the only one announced.


This is where the real lies begins and where you should be seeing the whores.  Various YOUTUBE programs and online outlets allowed Chris to lie.  He wrote a piece -- that he talked about on one YOUTUBE program after another -- about how he was interviewing Cornel during a car ride and learning about Cornel's decision to run and --

NO!

Chris recruited him.  Chris brokered that nomination.

And Chris lied.  

And whores let him lie.

To his credit, Cornel didn't lie -- didn't realize he was supposed to be lying -- and early on in a few interviews (including with Jared Ball), spoke openly about this and how he and Chris were originally supposed to be running mates.

Chris doesn't live in the real world.  He lives in a world of lies.  Imagine that, a serial plagiarist living in a world of lies.  And he had no idea the reality with which others saw the People's Party.

Dripping in all of his Whitness, Chris Hedges did not realize how much damage running as the People's Party's presidential candidate would do to Cornel West.

But Cornel quickly found out.

That's why he announced he was no longer their candidate.

Behind the scenes -- and if I know this and documented this forever and a day in real time, whores like Katie Halper knew it too, they just lied to you while begging for your trust and money -- Chris told Cornel to chill, Chris was on it.  

Chris gets with Jill Stein and they tell Cornel he can be the Green Party's presidential nominee.

Jill will make it happen.

Oops.  That's not how the Green Party works.  And membership doesn't like Jill.  She's already a twice failed candidate for president and one who left the party deep in debt -- again BPM, if you'd own up to your reporting, I'd gladly insert your videos here.

And there is immediate pushback to Jill's scheme.

I keep writing daily here about how Cornel is not the nominee and ignore the YOUTUBE whores and Jill Stein and Chris Hedges.
 

Cornel was lied to.

When he says he was betrayed by Jill, he's telling the truth.

And when THE VANGUARD boys bring on Jill and let her claim she did nothing to Cornel, THE VANGUARD is just whoring again, using your money, betraying your trust.

Jill flat out lied to Cornel.  His very real disappointment and hurt is valid.  

I have not rushed to rescue or enable him.  I'm not doing that now.  But I haven't whored and I'm not going to start now.  Jill's garbage and I hope Cornel reflects on his experience in a book that would be a real book worth reading -- not sloganeering passed off as research and writing.

Jill is now likely to become the Green Party's presidential nominee this summer.  In part because the party's rank-and-filed had to mobilize to stop Cornel from being imposed on the party.  That took a lot of work and I will applaud the rank and file for that.  They stopped their party from selling out the process.  But now they have no one left but loser Jill.

Three times?  This will her third time running for president.  Donald doesn't need to run this third time and neither does Jill Stein.

She's a fake ass and she's a liar and we won't pretend otherwise.

Let's move over to DEMOCRACY NOW! yesterday:




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

NERMEEN SHAIKH: A State Department official working on human rights issues in the Middle East resigned Wednesday in protest against U.S. support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. Annelle Sheline worked as a foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for a year, before publicly resigning.

In an op-ed published in CNN, she wrote, quote, “For the past year, I worked for the office devoted to promoting human rights in the Middle East. I believe strongly in the mission and in the important work of that office. However, as a representative of a government that is directly enabling what the International Court of Justice has said could plausibly be a genocide in Gaza, such work has become almost impossible. Unable to serve an administration that enables such atrocities, I have decided to resign from my position at the Department of State,” she wrote.

AMY GOODMAN: Annelle Sheline is the most significant protest resignation over U.S. support for Israel’s assault on Gaza since the resignation in October of Josh Paul, the senior State Department official involved in arms transfers to foreign governments.

Annelle Sheline joins us now from Washington, D.C.

Annelle, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you tell us further about the decision you made?

ANNELLE SHELINE: Thanks so much for having me and for your coverage of this issue.

I hadn’t initially planned to resign publicly. I hadn’t been at State for very long, and I didn’t think it would necessarily matter. But I decided to go public because when I started to tell colleagues that I was planning to resign over Gaza, so many people’s response was, “Please speak out. Please speak for us.” Many people are not in a position where they feel they could resign, or they are trying to do what they can on the inside. There’s still a lot of important, crucial work the State Department does. And so I decided I would go ahead and go public.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, you told — Annelle, you told The Washington Post that you tried to raise concerns internally with dissent cables and at staff forums. So, what was the result of that? And how are other people within State, as you said, trying to speak out within the State Department to change policy?

ANNELLE SHELINE: Yes, many people are extremely horrified by the U.S. government’s position on this horrific conflict and the actions of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments. There is the dissent channel inside the State Department. I was in — I co-wrote a cable and signed other cables. There have been forums for State Department employees to speak out. I spoke with supervisors. I was able to speak with a senior official about my resignation. I think, at the end of the day, many people inside State know that this is a horrific policy and can’t believe that the United States government is engaged in such actions that contravene American values so directly. But the leadership is not listening.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the State Department spokesperson Matt Miller being questioned by a reporter about the internal dissent channel within the State Department and employees raising concerns over the policies.

HUMEYRA PAMUK: What is the point of the whole channel? And, like, I mean, the secretary listens, and we’ve all reported about various listening sessions between mid-level or, like, more senior officials with the secretary, more junior officials. If it’s not — if it’s being heard, but if it’s not taken into account in the policy at all —

MATTHEW MILLER: So —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: — then don’t you think it’s a little bit pointless?

MATTHEW MILLER: So, I would disagree with that completely. It is taken into account in the policy-making process. The secretary has heard things in those meetings that he takes on board and that he — that influence his thinking and that he brings to bear in making policy decisions. Now, if what you mean is, are we going to execute a complete reversal of the policy that —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: No, that’s not what I mean. That’s not what I mean.

MATTHEW MILLER: — hold on — we implemented, or are you going to — are we going to implement exactly some of the policies that the people in these meetings have called for —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: No, not at all.

MATTHEW MILLER: — that’s not how —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: That’s —

MATTHEW MILLER: Hold on. That’s not how this process works. That’s not how government works. And that’s —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: No, I don’t think that’s anyone’s expectation.

MATTHEW MILLER: And that’s — let me just say, that’s not how any organization works. I daresay any of the media organizations in this room, if reporters go to their bosses and offer feedback, and the bosses say, “Well, that’s a good point. We’re going to take that to bear. But on the larger policy, this is the decision that we have made,” that’s how — that’s how leadership —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: You’re doing a long rant about something that I didn’t suggest.

MATTHEW MILLER: That is how leadership works.

HUMEYRA PAMUK: But do you have any examples on, you know, any changes —

MATTHEW MILLER: Yeah. I will — I will say —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: Like, I’m genuinely curious.

MATTHEW MILLER: I will say, with respect to any number of issues, with respect to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, we have heard good ideas from people inside the building who have come and offered constructive feedback, and we have implemented those.

HUMEYRA PAMUK: So —

MATTHEW MILLER: Now — now, there are people that when you say if — like, if the idea is that — to the United States to cut off support for Israel, that’s just a fundamental policy disagreement. So, when you see people who offer interviews that say, “We want the United States to stop supporting Israel’s right to defend itself,” that’s not something the secretary agrees with, it’s not something the president agrees with, and ultimately they are the ones who have the responsibility of making those decisions.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Annelle Sheline, if you can respond to the State Department spokesperson Matt Miller?

ANNELLE SHELINE: You know, I think American law is quite clear here, in terms of the Leahy laws, for example, that when a foreign military is credibly accused of gross human rights violations, the law is that the U.S. will no longer provide weapons to those units, or 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act, that a government that is blocking American humanitarian aid is no longer eligible for U.S. military assistance. These laws are not being applied.

So, I think this is not only having a horrific effect on the people of Gaza, but in terms of America’s standing in the rest of the world, this administration came in pledging to reestablish American moral leadership, reengagement with the international community, uphold the law and the so-called rules-based liberal international order, and I think it’s just become clear that this administration is not, in fact, conducting — carrying out any of those pledges. And, you know, my work was on human rights, which is very important work that the State Department does. But I think, on this issue in particular, the political calculus has been that U.S. support for Israel is a better political move. But I think what the administration may be starting to see is they may have made the wrong decision on that politically.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Annelle, can you explain whether there’s any distinction made — there’s a blanket statement about U.S. support for Israel. But is there no distinction within discussions at the State Department between different forms of U.S. support for Israel? So, for instance, obviously, in this instance, the most important question is that of military aid to Israel at this moment.

ANNELLE SHELINE: There, I should be clear that, you know, my area of focus, I was not — Israel and Palestine were not part of my portfolio. I was focusing primarily on North Africa, so I can’t speak directly to some of those conversations. I do think, you know, at the end of the day, the U.S.-Israel relationship is considered of such political importance that decisions regarding it are made at the very top. And so, while there are other processes and certainly discussions going on inside State, inside other parts of the government about some of those nuances you were discussing, I don’t think we’re likely to see any public shift on any of that until those decisions come from the top that they’re ready to reimagine the U.S.-Israel relationship.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to another clip of the State Department spokesperson Matt Miller, saying the Biden administration has not found Israel’s actions in Gaza to be a violation of international law. This is some of what he said.

MATTHEW MILLER: We have not found them to be in violation of international humanitarian law, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or when it comes to the provision of humanitarian assistance.

AMY GOODMAN: That was this week, Annelle Sheline, either violation of international law or when it comes to providing humanitarian assistance. And yet President Biden says he is building a port because the Palestinians cannot get enough aid.

ANNELLE SHELINE: Exactly. I think that the evidence speaks for itself. We’ve had, you know, not only the ICJ’s ruling, not only the U.N. Security Council ruling. Clearly, the administration is unwilling to admit to reality. And again, I just want to reiterate, I think this is not only obviously devastating for the lives of people in Gaza, but is doing incredible damage to America’s standing on the international stage. It is incredibly demoralizing for people inside the State Department, many of whom believe very deeply in what America says it stands for. So, I’m trying to speak on behalf of those many, many people who feel so betrayed by our government’s stance.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Annelle, could you explain the effect that the massive protests across the United States have had within the State Department, what discussion there was of them, and then, of course, the “uncommitted” vote?

ANNELLE SHELINE: So, within the State Department, you know, civil servants are very committed to their role of being nonpolitical, of following the instruction that they receive. You know, within State, people are aware of what’s going on outside. But, you know, this is not the first time that people have been involved or had to carry out policies they perhaps did not agree with, and it is something that many of these people have signed up for. This is the role of carrying out America’s foreign policy.

On this issue, I think, because it has been so horrific and because we are seeing such growing political pushback from the American public, people are increasingly frustrated. You know, many other people with whom I spoke said they’re considering resigning. But again, it is challenging for someone to — you know, it’s not easy to not have a job in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to quote further what you’ve said in explanation of why you’re resigning. You said you’re “haunted by the final social media post of Aaron Bushnell, the 25-year-old US Air Force serviceman who self-immolated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington on February 25.” You quote him: “Many of us like to ask ourselves, 'What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?' The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.” If you can explain what that meant to you and how people have responded to you?

ANNELLE SHELINE: Sorry. You know, that post, I think, spoke to me and many people, who had to really look at what they were doing and whether — you know, for me, I have a young daughter. And I thought about, in the future, if she were to ask me, you know, “What were you doing when this was happening? You were at the State Department.” I want to be able to tell her that I didn’t stay silent. And I know many people who are deeply affected by those words that Aaron Bushnell posted. And I do think people are trying to do what they can. There is still very important work being done inside the State Department. But I do think, until our top levels of leadership are ready to make a change, there’s very little that the rank and file are able to do.

AMY GOODMAN: Annelle Sheline, we want to thank you so much for being with us. Annelle has just resigned from the State Department in protest of U.S. support for Israel’s war on Gaza. She worked as foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. She’s also the first State Department official to publicly resign since Josh Paul did months ago.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we speak to the spokesperson for UNRWA. President Biden just signed off on a bipartisan bill, turning it into law, which says that UNRWA will not be funded by the U.S. government for the next year. Stay with us.




Gaza remains under assault. Day 175 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 total number of people killed since October 7 has increased to 32,623, with 75,092 injured."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:








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

This morning ALJAZEERA reports:

The International Court of Justice’s order for Israel to provide the unhindered delivery of aid is not likely to increase the amount of assistance flowing into Gaza unless a ceasefire is reached, analyst Marc Owen Jones has told Al Jazeera.

“After the last ICJ provisional measures [in January], the amount of aid entering Gaza actually decreased,” the Middle East expert at Hamad Bin Khalifa University said. “Just because the ICJ have put this ruling forward doesn’t necessarily mean Israel is going to comply.”

About one third of the aid that was required in Gaza before the war is currently reaching the bombarded territory. “The only thing that will result in a spike in aid is a ceasefire,” he said.

“Otherwise, I’m afraid Israel’s response will just be rhetoric.”



+ I’ll never forget the irate call we got from an Obama senate staffer when we reported that Lieberman was Obama’s mentor in the Senate during his first year in office. “He didn’t have a f**king choice about it, man!!!!!!!” Sure.

+ When Joe Lieberman arrived in the US Senate in 1989, Strom Thurmond greeted him by saying, “I understand we think a lot alike in the way we do things.” “Yes, sir, I think we do,” admitted Lieberman. Strom probably learned about this reassuring profile of Lieberman’s center-right political beliefs from his weekly lunch date in the Senate cafeteria with Joe Biden who, like Lieberman, was one of the founding nowhere men of the Democratic Leadership Council, whose mission was to keep the Democratic Party from ever again straying to the Left of Michael Dukakis…

+ Al Gore’s Harvard mentor (and later political promoter at the New Republic) Martin Peretz convinced Gore to put Lieberman–the most obnoxious senator in a chamber full of them–on the ticket in 2000 for the express purpose of winning Florida by courting the Jewish and the Cuban exile vote in Miami-Dade, even they didn’t like him.

+ Political piety was Lieberman’s calling card and, like McCain, this pretense of recoiling from the dirty work of politics won him many friends in the mainstream press. In reality, Lieberman was a censor and a prude. He supported labeling hip-hop and heavy rock records and restricting the sale of video games to minors. He censured Bubba for having consensual sex and publicly denounced him for it. Gore’s pick of Lieberman meant that Bill Clinton, still enormously popular, couldn’t campaign for this ticket featuring two of the stiffest politicians in American history, likely costing the pair the election.

+ After the 2000 elections, Lieberman played an entirely malicious role in American politics. He spread lies about WMDs in Iraq, championed the wars on terror, condoned torture and campaigned against universal health care, successfully severing the public option from ObamaCare and gutting the planned extension of Medicare to people 55 or older.

+ Lieberman: “Every day Saddam Hussein remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States.” September 4, 2002.

+ Petulant and vainglorious, Lieberman couldn’t handle being defeated by the progressive Ned Lamont in the CT primary, largely over his support for the Iraq War, and waged a nasty independent campaign backed by many in the GOP to narrowly win in the general elections. Then he endorsed McCain over Obama in 2008. He served as a model for figures such as Manchin and Sinema, who practiced a kind of political extortion against their own party. 

+ Lieberman was one of the chief architects of the post-911 police state in the US, working side-by-side with the Bush administration to construct the new Department of Homeland Security, lending it vast new powers not only to harass immigrants, especially those from Muslim countries, but to invade nearly every aspect of the lives of American citizens in the name of “security.”

+ No defender of civil liberties, Lieberman was no defender of civil liberties, Lieberman was a supporter of the Patriot Act and backed nearly every variety of government surveillance.  He authored the so-called Kill-Switch Bill, which would have given the President to assume complete control of the Net.

+ Lieberman was one of the first, if not the first, prominent politicians to advocate prosecuting Julian Assange under the Espionage Act, and introduced a bill in Congress to expand the law with that explicit purpose. Lieberman’s vendetta against Wikileaks included convincing (extorting?) Amazon, Visa, MasterCard and Pay Pal to stop servicing payments to the independent media organization.

+ Long an advocate of privatizing education, Lieberman testified before the Senate Education Committee in 2017 in favor of Betsy DeVos’ nomination to become Trump’s Education Secretary, telling the committee: “I know that some people are questioning her qualifications to be secretary of education, and too many of those questions seem to me to be based on the fact that she doesn’t come from within the education establishment. But honestly, I believe that today, that’s one of the most important qualifications you could have for this job. She has many others. She’s a mother and a grandmother. She cares about children more generally, and she has been involved in education, like so many parents and local citizen school board members across America for almost 30 years.”

+ Lieberman’s one benign contribution to the Republic was in helping to defang the federal government’s toxic posture toward homosexuals…but then so did Lynne and Dick Cheney. 




The following sites updated:

Friday, March 29, 2024

Our wise elder Audre Lorde

The disgusting TERFS have long been with us.  So have people -- brave ones -- who stand up against TERFS and other hate merchants.  Jeff Taylor (LGBTQ Nation) explains:


What the more casual observers might not realize is that this is a decades old debate, and anyone who wishes to better understand it would do well to learn a bit about Audre Lorde, who was born on this day in 1934, and who passed away on Nov. 17, 1992.

Lorde was a queer African American civil rights activist, poet, feminist, and womanist, and to name but a few identities, who shook up the movements with which she was involved by promoting the concept of intersectionality well before the term was coined by KimberlĂ© Crenshaw in 1989.

She understood that vulnerable groups experience discrimination, often at the hands of the same oppressors, for the same fundamental reason: fear of difference.

It is a concept she explored in an essay titled “There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions”:

As a black, lesbian, feminist, socialist, mother of two including one boy and a member of an interracial couple, I usually find myself part of some group in which the majority defines me as deviant, inferior, or just plain “wrong.”

From my membership in all of these groups I have learned that oppression and the intolerance of difference come in all shapes and sizes and colors and sexualities; and that among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children, there can be no hierarchies of oppression. I have learned that sexism (a belief in the inherent superiority of one sex over all others and thereby its right to dominance) and heterosexism (a belief in the inherent superiority of one pattern of loving over all others and thereby its right to dominance) both arise from the same source as racism — a belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby its right to dominance.

“Oh,” says a voice from the Black community, “but being Black is NORMAL!” Well, I and many Black people of my age can remember grimly the days when it didn’t used to be!…

And it is a standard of right-wing cynicism to encourage members of oppressed groups to act against each other, and so long as we are divided because of our particular identities we cannot join together in political action.

The Republican playbook hasn’t changed.

Conservatives have pitted Dreamers against CHIP recipients, low income workers against immigrants, cisgender women against trans and gender nonconforming women. And the list goes on.

“She was able to connect the dots of history to what we are living today,” poet and civil rights activist Sonia Sanchez, who wrote the introduction for the recent reissue of Lorde’s A Burst of Light and Other Essays, told NBC in a recent interview of Lorde.

It is no wonder her quotes still end up on protest signs, appear as Facebook statuses and tweets, and are spoken from stages and through bullhorns.

Just listen to the way she ends the aforementioned essay on the false narrative of hierarchical oppression, published well over 30 years ago:

I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, whenever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.

Now read it again, and see if it doesn’t ring as true now as ever, and if we still don’t need to learn that lesson, together.


Usually, if we look into it, we'll find we've had elders fighting the good fight before we ever showed up.



We're lucky for all the trails Audre blazed and for all the love she put out into the world.


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


Thursday, March 28, 2024.  War Hawk Down! Another Iraq War cheerleader and liar is dead in the US, and, in Gaza news, another State Dept employee has resigned over the assault on Gaza.



Starting in the US with the news of Joe Lieberman's death.  The former US senator accomplished much for himself, little for anyone else.  Ballot integrity?  Nah.  Immediately following the November 2000 election, Joe went on NBC's MEET THE PRESS and said all ballots should be counted.  That might seem admirable but all ballots should never all be counted.  All ballots that meet the legal requirements should be counted, for example.  But Joe, prompted by the husky host Tim Russert, went far beyond that.  And he couldn't eve ben equal there.  This was just count all votes for those in the military.

Because Joe didn't think members of the military knew how to follow orders?

Per Joe, it didn't matter if it had a postmark or not and it didn't matter if the postmark on it was two or more days after the actual election and nothing mattered.

Just count them all.

No, that's not how voting works.

But that's how pathetic and timid Joe Lieberman worked or joe LIEberman as his name was frequently noted.

In 1992, Al Gore was added as Bill Clinton's running mate and there was talk of the two being 'sons of the south' and talk of the two being good looking men.

No one ever was able to comprehend any semblance of reason for pairing Joe Lieberman with Al Gore.

LIEberman cheered on the Iraq War and never admitted he was wrong.  He was wrong.  Over a million Iraqis are dead.  He was wrong.  

Their blood remains on his dead hands.

Today, Ned Lamont is the governor of Connecticut but in 2006 he was the person who stepped up when Democrats in the state had reached their breaking point with Joe Lieberman.  Ned primaried Joe and Ned won the primary.  Joe, as an independent, won the election.

But grasp how quickly Joe fell out of favor in the Democratic Party -- in 2000, he was the second half of the presidential ticket and six years later he couldn't even hold his own in a primary when he was the incumbent senator.

COMMON DREAMS notes some of the reaction to Joe Lieberman's death:



  As Warren Gunnels, majority staff director for Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), explained, "Joe Lieberman led the effort to ensure the Affordable Care Act did not include a public option or a reduction in the Medicare eligibility age to 55."

Noting that Lieberman also lied about the presence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq—which was used to justify the 2003 U.S. invasion—Gunnels asked, "How many people unnecessarily died as a result?"

He was far from alone in highlighting the two defining positions.

The Lever's David Sirota declared, "RIP Joe Lieberman, Iraq War cheerleader who led the fight to make sure Medicare was not extended to millions of Americans who desperately needed the kind of healthcare coverage he enjoyed in the Senate."

The Debt Collective said on social media that "Joe Lieberman killed so many people when he killed the public option. Not to mention all the people he killed by cheerleading every war and every lie that led to war. A truly horrible person with a shameful legacy."

Journalist Jon Schwarz pointed out that Lieberman continued to lie about the WMDs long after the claims were debunked.

FormerMSNBC host Mehdi Hasan noted that Lieberman declined an opportunity to apologize for the disastrous war, sharing a clip from his on-camera interview with the ex-senator in 2021.

"We lost a giant today. I often disagreed with Joe Lieberman but he was always honorable in the way he called for American troops to murder people abroad so he could get his jollies," said Matt Stoller of the American Economic Liberties Project in a series of sarcastic social media posts.

"Joe Lieberman balanced his love of other people fighting in immoral wars with a commitment to preventing Americans from getting healthcare," Stoller added. "Even after his Senate career, he showed his strong democratic values by lobbying for Chinese telecom firms. We will miss this man."





There are “reasonable grounds” to believe Israel is “committing the crime of genocide against the Palestinians as a group in Gaza,” the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories has said.

Francesca Albanese made the remarks Wednesday following the submission of her latest report called “Anatomy of a Genocide” to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference, Albanese said: “Israel has committed three acts of genocide with a requisite intent: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”     


Here's the video of her press conference. 







Genocide is a specific legal term, and Ms Albanese's report suggests some of the legal criteria have been fulfilled.

She cites what she says appears to be Israel's intention to destroy Palestinians as a group "in whole or in part", a key clause in the Convention against Genocide.

She mentions in particular three elements which point to possible genocide:

  • Killing members of the group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
The death toll in Gaza, currently well over 32,000 according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry, the bombing of densely populated areas, and the restrictions on aid supplies (which, the UN says, have brought Gaza to the brink of famine), are all proof, the report claims, of intent to destroy the group. 


DEMOCRACY NOW! noted the official remarks yesterday highlighting this:

Francesca Albanese: “Following nearly six months of unrelenting Israeli assault on occupied Gaza, it is my solemn duty to report on the worst of what humanity is capable of and to present my finding, 'The Anatomy of a Genocide.' History teaches us that genocide is a process, not a single act. It starts with the dehumanization of a group as other and the denial of that group’s humanity, and ends with the destruction of the group in all or in part. The dehumanization of Palestinians as a group is the hallmark of their history of ethnic cleansing, dispossession and apartheid.”


Also in the Gaza news cycle is Ireland.




  Citing Israel's "blatant" human rights violations in Gaza, Ireland's second-highest-ranking official said Wednesday that the country will join the South Africa-led genocide case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Irish Tánaiste Micheál Martin—the equivalent of a deputy prime minister in other parliamentary nations—said that Ireland decided to intervene in the case after analyzing the "legal and policy issues" pertaining to the case under review by the United Nations' top court.

"It is for the court to determine whether genocide is being committed," Martin—who also serves as Ireland's foreign and defense minister—said in a statement. "But I want to be clear in reiterating what I have said many times in the last few months; what we saw on October 7 in Israel, and what we are seeing in Gaza now, represents the blatant violation of international humanitarian law on a mass scale."

Martin continued:

The taking of hostages. The purposeful withholding of humanitarian assistance to civilians. The targeting of civilians and of civilian infrastructure. The indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The use of civilian objects for military purposes. The collective punishment of an entire population.

The list goes on. It has to stop. The view of the international community is clear. Enough is enough. The U.N. Security Council has demanded an immediate cease-fire, the unconditional release of hostages, and the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale. The European Council has echoed this call.

South Africa's case—which is supported by over 30 countries, the Arab League, African Union, and others—incisively details Israel's conduct in the war, including the killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians, mostly women and children; the wounding of tens of thousands more; the forcible displacement of 90% of the besieged enclave's 2.3 million people; and the inflicting of conditions leading to widespread starvation and disease. The filing also cited numerous genocidal statements by Israeli officials.

On January 26, the ICJ issued a preliminary ruling that Israel is plausibly committing genocide in Gaza and ordered its government and military to prevent genocidal acts. Palestinian and international human rights defenders say Israel has ignored the order.


Shortly after the assault on Gaza began, Josh Paul resigned from the US State Dept.  This is from DEMOCRACY NOW!'s November 23rd broadcast:


 

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

We end this special with Josh Paul. In October, he resigned from the State Department to protest the Biden administration’s push to increase arms sales to Israel amidst its siege on Gaza, calling it “shortsighted,” “destructive” and “contradictory.” Paul had served as director of congressional and public affairs for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the State Department, which oversees arms transfers to Israel and other nations.

In his resignation letter, he wrote, quote, “We cannot be both against occupation, and for it. We cannot be both for freedom, and against it. And we cannot be for a better world, while contributing to one that is materially worse. … I believe to the core of my soul that the response Israel is taking, and with it the American support both for that response, and for the status quo of the occupation, will only lead to more and deeper suffering for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people — and is not in the long term American interest,” he wrote.

I asked Josh Paul to talk about why he resigned from the State Department.

JOSH PAUL: Yes, thank you. I decided to resign for three reasons, the first and most pressing of which is the very, I believe, uncontroversial fact that U.S.-provided arms should not be used to massacre civilians, should not be used to result in massive civilian casualties. And that is what we are seeing in Gaza and what we were seeing, you know, very soon after the October 7th horrific attack by Hamas. I do not believe arms should be — U.S.-provided arms should be used to kill civilians. It is that simple.

Secondly, I also believe that, you know, as your previous guest identified, there is no military solution here. And we are providing arms to Israel on a path that has not led to peace, has not led to security, neither for Palestinians nor for Israelis. It is a moribund process and a dead-end policy.

And yet, when I tried to raise both of these concerns with State Department leadership, there was no appetite for discussion, no opportunity to look at any of the potential arms sales and raise concerns about them, simply a directive to move forward as quickly as possible. And so I felt I had to resign.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk more about that. Talk more about what kind of dialogue goes on at the State Department and if you, for example, have met with Tony Blinken, the secretary of state, not to mention President Biden, to voice your concerns. And what about other veteran State Department officials?

JOSH PAUL: So, typically, there is a very robust policy process in the State Department for arms transfers. And there are a lot of those, right? So, we’re talking about about 20,000 arms sale cases a year that the State Department processes, which could be anything from bullets to radios to fighter jets. And for each of those, there is a lengthy process, sometimes, that looks at, you know, what are the pros and cons of the sale, what are its human rights implications. That has not happened in this context for Israel. And as I say, when I raised those concerns against the existing laws, against the existing policies, there was no appetite for that discussion.

I have not personally spoken to Secretary Blinken about this, nor, certainly, to President Biden. But I know that in the time since I left, there has been increasing discussion within the State Department, but has not led to any change of policies. In fact, as you heard earlier on your show, Vice President Harris was just saying yesterday that we will not place any conditions whatsoever on our arms to Israel. And that is unlike any arms transfer decision I’ve ever been a part of. There’s always discussion about should we condition this to address human rights issues.

AMY GOODMAN: So, who is leading this, Josh Paul? Who is preventing this? Who is suppressing all of this discussion within the State Department?

JOSH PAUL: I honestly think, in some ways, that it’s coming from the very top of the U.S. government and from the Biden White House. You know, there are many in the State Department, and across government, who have reached out to me in recent weeks, since I left, to express their support, but also to say how difficult and how horrific they are finding U.S. policy, and yet are being told, when they try to raise these concerns, “Look, you can get emotional support if you’re finding this difficult. We’ll find you something else to work on. But don’t question the policy, because it’s coming from the top.”

AMY GOODMAN: The HuffPost has this new piece that reports, “A task force on preventing atrocities did not meet until two weeks into the war, and officials say department leaders are telling them their expertise won’t affect policy.” Explain what goes on.

JOSH PAUL: So, whenever there is a crisis, as there is right now in Israel and Gaza, the department sets up a task forces or multiple task forces that are uniquely shaped to address that crisis. So, for example, in the context of an earthquake, they might bring in experts on refugee issues, on weather issues, on disease issues, you know, that sort of broad swath of people.

In the context of Gaza, they have set up a task force to look at this problem, but, according to the report you cite, it does not include the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, who are responsible for U.S. support to refugee issues. So, it is either a stunning oversight, or it is an intentional disregard for the humanity of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: At a meeting on October 26th, a State Department source told you they recalled a top official advising staff to shift their focus away from Israel-Palestine and seek to make a difference in other parts of the world?

JOSH PAUL: So, I don’t believe that that was a conversation that I had with someone, but that is in the same report in The Huffington Post that you cite, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: So, they’re directing them not even to make comments on this, just stop talking about Israel-Palestine.

JOSH PAUL: Yes, that’s right. And I think, look, I mean, that reflects a tension or a censorship — right? — that we are seeing not only in the U.S. government. I think what’s interesting here is this censorship that has existed and expanded to colleges and universities, where you talked about the doxing. I’ve also heard from many people across the American private sector, both from the Arab American community but also more broadly, from all sorts of diverse communities, who have said, “We are afraid to speak up on this, because we are in fear of our jobs.” It’s the same climate in government. And that is just not American.

AMY GOODMAN: So, I wanted to ask you about this In These Times report that the White House has requested an unprecedented loophole in arms spending to allow it to be able to conduct arms deals with Israel in complete secrecy, without oversight from Congress or the public.

JOSH PAUL: Yeah. So, we provide Israel with $3.3 billion a year in foreign military financing, which is the State Department and U.S. government’s primary functional — primary mechanism for funding the sale of arms to other countries. Of note, you know, we typically provide — setting aside Ukraine — about $6 billion a year in foreign military financing around the world. So Israel already gets more than half of that.

The language in the supplemental request that the Biden administration set up — sent up would remove the requirement to notify Congress of any arms sales conducted under that funding. Typically, there is a process where, for any major defense sale, Congress is notified of it. And there’s actually a process prior to the formal notification where Congress gets to ask questions, poke, prod, delay, and then, if it wishes to oppose the sale, can raise a joint resolution of disapproval on the floor. What this proposal would do is, essentially, destroy all of that, remove all of that, remove that congressional oversight, remove that congressional ability to object. It is unprecedented. I have never seen anything like it. And I cannot imagine that the committees of jurisdiction are viewing it very favorably, because it is just such a damaging approach that also sets horrible precedent for other countries with whom future administrations may decide they don’t want Congress to be involved.

AMY GOODMAN: Since you were in charge of arms sales, what does this $14 billion that — well, it looks like both houses want to send it to Israel.

JOSH PAUL: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s just that the House one is controversial because they want to take that $14 billion from the IRS, and also they want to sever the funding for Israel from the funding for Ukraine. And Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, says he won’t consider this bill. But it sounds like there is enough support in both houses for that extra — not the $3.8 billion or $3.3 billion yearly aid to Israel, but an extra $14 billion. You’re the expert on arms sales. What would it be used for?

JOSH PAUL: Yeah, and let me just say, I think there is, you know, almost or near-unanimous congressional support for this further military assistance to Israel. And I think what’s fascinating about that is also there’s a massive disconnect between where Congress is on these issues and where, I think, if you look at the polling, the American public are. And I think the current crisis is really crystallizing that difference. I don’t think it will make any difference in terms of the passage of this package, but it may do down the line.

With regards to this package specifically, it includes $3.5 billion in foreign military financing. Israel can draw on that to purchase essentially what it wants. And what’s unusual about this, as well, in addition to the removal of the notification, is that Israel would be entitled, under the proposal sent to Congress, to spend all of this money within its own defense industry. Israel is, of course, a top 10 exporter of arms around the world, often competing with the United States. And the idea that we will be providing funding to subsidize that competition is really unimaginable.

But on top of that, the package also provides further funding from the Defense Department side for air and missile defense for Israel, for Iron Dome. And let me be clear: My concern here is on lethal assistance to Israel. When it comes to protecting civilians from rocket attacks, I believe that they should be. I don’t believe anyone should have to live in fear of their homes — in their homes from rockets raining down on them, although I believe that’s the case whether they are in Israel under the Iron Dome or whether they are in Gaza, for example. And, of course, we never ask that question.

The funding, finally, would also include research and development funding for equipment, such as there is an experimental laser project called Iron Beam, which the U.S. and Israel are working together on, an air and missile defense system. If this is an emergency request, why are we looking at research and development for projects that have not even materialized yet? That doesn’t sound like an emergency to me. So, as with the arms transfers I saw when I was departing from the department, I think there is just a rush to push everything they can while they feel there is a window of political opportunity here where there will be no significant opposition.

AMY GOODMAN: What kind of response was there to your resignation?

JOSH PAUL: So, to my resignation, I would say there has been an overwhelming response that I have heard from folks or from colleagues inside not only in the State Department, but across the U.S. government, actually, on the Hill, in the Defense Department, in the uniformed military services, including in combatant commands around the world. People have reached out to me to say, you know, “We fully agree with you.” You know, obviously, everyone has their own personal circumstances. You know, I think if we had universal healthcare, it would make it a bit easier for people to stand up on principle. I myself am, you know, trying to figure out what I do next on healthcare. But the point is that so many people have reached out to say, “We hear you. We agree with you.”

And I think, you know, one of the things I found is that a lot of people can be in individual offices and say, “There is no — I can’t speak up, because I will lose my job. I will put my career in jeopardy. And there’s no one else here I can talk to.” And yet I’m hearing from someone else just a few desks over who is saying the same thing. So I think there really is a communications crisis, a transparency crisis within the U.S. government, and a policy crisis, because when you can’t talk about foreign policy, when you can’t debate, when you can’t criticize, you don’t end up with good policy.

AMY GOODMAN: Josh Paul, why was this the last straw for you? I mean, for example, if you were in charge of weapons sales, presumably you were dealing with Saudi Arabia, notoriously authoritarian. U.S. agencies concluded, even in just one case, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for this. You oversaw arms sales to them, presumably. Why Israel?

JOSH PAUL: So, let me just be clear: I was one of multiple people involved in the arms sales process. Arms sales themselves are a presidential authority that is delegated to the secretary of state, and then, through the secretary of state, to the undersecretary, who is actually responsible for approving them, for the most part. But you’re right. And as I said in my resignation letter, in my time in the department, I dealt with many morally challenging, controversial arms sales.

I think what made the difference for me here is that for all of those previous instances, even under the Trump administration, mind you, there was always room for discussion and debate and the ability to mitigate some of the worst possible outcomes, to delay sales until crises had passed, so that they weren’t contributing immediately into a humanitarian crisis, to work with Congress and be confident that once the policy debate had ended in the State Department, there would be a congressional piece to it, too. And Congress generally has stood up in the past repeatedly on matters of human rights and arms sales. What was different here was that there was none of that. There was no debate. There was no space for debate. And there was also no congressional appetite or willingness to have debate.

AMY GOODMAN: There’s going to be a major march in Washington tomorrow. Three hundred fifty people were arrested in Philly. We’re going to play some clips of a major protest in Boston that happened last night. How much does grassroots protest like this, the thousands of people who are protesting around the country, the shutdown of Grand Central by Jewish groups just last Friday night, have on the State Department, on the White House?

JOSH PAUL: So, I don’t think it has much impact on the State Department. And that’s OK, because I think policy processes are meant to happen within a policy framework, [inaudible] and the problem is they’re not happening.

I think it does have an impact on the White House. I think we’ve seen a significant change in tone in the last few weeks, not because there is a sudden deep care, frankly, for Palestinian civilian casualties on their own merits, but because there is a sense that there is a political crisis here developing for the Biden administration, that many people are saying, you know, “We’re just going to sit out the next election. We have lost faith in this White House, in this administration.” So, I think that does have an impact.

And let me also say I have found it incredibly moving, as well, to watch these protests. You know, I was up on the Hill for meetings this week and last week and came across, in one office, a sit-in that was happening, where there was a group of Jewish students singing peace songs and holding up signs that said “Save Gaza.” I found that incredibly moving. And I think it also tells Congress and it tells this administration that they are not in line with much of American public opinion. I think it’s a much-needed message.

AMY GOODMAN: Josh Paul, veteran State Department official who worked on arms deals and resigned in October in protest of a push to increase arms sales to Israel amidst the attack on Gaza. Visit democracynow.org to see all of our coverage on Gaza and Israel.

Democracy Now! is produced with RenĂ©e Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, MarĂ­a Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud and Sonyi Lopez. Our executive director is Julie Crosby. Special thanks to Becca Staley, Jon Randolph, Paul Powell, Mike Di Filippo, Miguel Nogueira, Hugh Gran, Denis Moynihan, David Prude, Dennis McCormick, Matt Ealy and Emily Andersen. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.





Another member of the US State Dept has resigned over Gaza.  Julian Borger (GUARDIAN) reports:

A human rights official has resigned from the US state department over Gaza saying the Biden administration is flouting US law by continuing to arm Israel, and is hushing up evidence that the US had seen on Israeli human rights abuses.

Annelle Sheline, said she had hoped to have an influence on policy by staying at her post in the Near Eastern section of the bureau of democracy, human rights and labor, taking part in discussions, signing dissent cables and raising her concerns with her supervisor. But she had lost confidence she could do anything that would affect the flow of US arms to Israel.

“The fundamental reason was – I no longer wanted to be affiliated with this administration,” Sheline told the Guardian. “I have a young daughter. She’s not yet two, but if some day in the future, she is learning about this and knows that I was at the state department and she asked me [about it] – I want to be able to tell her that I did what I could.”


THE NEW ARAB notes, "Particularly troubling for the Biden administration is Sheline’s assertion that the State Department has ample evidence of Israel violating international law in Gaza and that the US is therefore breaching its own domestic laws by continuing to fund Israel."  In related news, Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

A longtime Democratic operative and current president of the Center for American Progress issued a scathing statement Tuesday criticizing the Biden administration for accepting the Israeli government's claim that it is adhering to international law with its catastrophic military assault on the Gaza Strip.

"The State Department's shocking assertion that the Netanyahu government is complying with international law in Gaza is a gross disregard of overwhelming evidence and a dangerous precedent in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy," said Patrick Gaspard, who previously served as executive director of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and U.S. ambassador to South Africa under the Obama administration.

"The stakes here are so high that the administration must be transparent and accountable in sharing with the American people all evidence that has led to this determination and the continued sale of offensive weapons to Israel," Gaspard argued, pointing to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's stated goal of imposing a "complete siege" on Gaza at the start of the assault, which is now in its sixth month with no end in sight.

Gaspard said that "every aspect" of Gallant's "edict" has "been on open display to the world," with famine, dehydration, and disease spreading across the enclave as Israel persists in obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The CAP president's statement came after U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters earlier this week that the Biden administration has not found Israel "to be in violation of international humanitarian law, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or when it comes to the provision of humanitarian assistance."

Miller's remarks followed a letter from Gallant assuring the Biden administration that Israel is complying with international law in its use of American weaponry—a written assurance that was required under a new White House policy.


Gaza remains under assault. Day 174 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse." ALJAZEERA notes, "The number of people killed in Israel’s war on Gaza since October 7 has risen to 32,552, according to the Health Ministry in the besieged territory. Israeli attacks on Gaza have also wounded at least 74,980 people."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:








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




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