Monday, March 18, 2024


At LGBTQ NATION, Daniel Villarreal reports:

Angry community members spoke out at the first board meeting of the Owasso Public School District following the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old transgender Native American student who died on February 8 after an alleged assault by three bullies in his high school bathroom.

Medical experts have recently cast doubt upon a report from the state medical examiner’s office that ruled Benedict’s death as a likely suicide from the “combined toxicity” of two medications: the anti-histamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and the anti-depressant fluoxetine (Prozac). The experts said death from these two drugs would be “uncommon” and “very rare.”

At last Monday’s meeting, Superintendent Dr. Margaret Coates acknowledged angry protestors who accused administrators of doing nothing to address the district’s alleged bullying problem. 

“I’m proud that in times like this our school community continues to come together to reflect, support one another, and ensure that every student feels a sense of safety, security, and belonging within our school walls,” Coates said.

However, former Owasso student Madison Hutton said that students at the school experience “rampant bullying and bigotry,” WDBJ reported. Nex had reportedly experienced continual bullying during his school career before the alleged bathroom bullying incident that occurred on February 7, one day before his death.

Self-described comedian Walter Masterson also delivered an angry speech during the meeting, saying, “A more, you know, woke school board would see the death of a child and work to make sure it never happens again. Not this board! This board sees a dead kid and says ‘That’s a good start!'”

“There’s nothing more unnatural than a teenager experimenting with their identity,” Masterson said sarcastically, “because it has never happened before and should be punished. We’re the good guys — we’ll spit on a kid’s grave, blame the parents, and tell our teenagers to hit them harder…. When we heard that a trans child had been beaten to death, our State Senator Tom Woods immediately released a statement: ‘We don’t want that filth in Oklahoma.'”

I was not aware that the suicide determination was being questioned.  I'll try to continue covering what happened to Nex.

However Nex died, the school betrayed the students.  Their job was to make it safe for all the children and they didn't make it safe for Nex.

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

Monday, March 18, 2024.  The Israeli government attacks Al Shifa Hospital and beats up a journalist in what they claim is another 'precise operation,' thousands turned out Saturday throughout Israel to protest War Criminal Netanyahu, UNCIEF warns that the 13,000 children who've been killed will be a small number and that even those who survive risk being "stunted for life," and much more.

As we noted last night, day 163 finds the Israeli government again breaking international law as they attack another hospital with their military.  THE NATIONAL reports on the attack of Al Shifa  Hospital:


It said that around 30,000 displaced and wounded people and medical teams are still besieged inside the building.

It added that a fire has erupted at the gate of the hospital and there were cases of suffocation among displaced women and children at the facility and communications were cut off.

The government media office in Gaza has condemned the operation.

"The Israeli army's storming of Al Shifa Hospital with tanks, drones and weapons and shooting inside it is a war crime," it said.

A Palestinian journalist trapped inside al-Shifa Hospital has described the situation in the facility as “catastrophic” amid “intense clashes” and gunfire.

Wadea Abu Alsoud made the comments in a video posted to Instagram.

“This might be my last video,” he said. “We’re now besieged inside al-Shifa Hospital. We’re being heavily shot at. The occupation suddenly raided the hospital and its vicinity. As you can hear now, there are intense clashes in the vicinity of al-Shifa Hospital. We’re hearing sounds coming from the gate. There are shrapnels falling over the hospital’s yard.”

He added: “We’re currently besieged. Pray for us to get out safely. These are clashes as you can hear… we don’t know what’s going on outside al-Shifa hospital, but the situation here is catastrophic.”

This morning, THE SUN notes, "Gaza’s Health Ministry on Monday called on the United Nations (UN) and other international institutions to stop Israel’s ongoing operation in the area of Al-Shifa Hospital that has killed patients, refugees, and medical personnel."  EURO NEWS adds, "The ministry says around 30,000 people are sheltering at the hospital, including patients, medical staff and people who have fled their homes seeking safety."  THE STRAITS TIMES explains, "Al-Shifa, the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital before the war, is now one of the only healthcare facilities that is even partially operational in the north of the territory, and is also housing hundreds of displaced civilians."  Andrew England and Neri Zilber (FINANCIAL TIMES OF LONDON) remind, "Israel previously raided al-Shifa in Gaza City in November, forcing thousands of people who had sought sanctuary at the hospital to flee. That raid drew widespread condemnation from aid agencies as Israel’s air, land and sea offensive pushed Gaza’s health system towards a state of collapse." That raid, remember, was based on the Israeli's claims that Hamas fighters were using the hospital.  Rachel Pannett and Hajar Harb (WASHINGTON POST) explain, "A Washington Post investigation in December into whether the civilian harm caused by the IDF’s campaign against the hospital complex was proportionate to the assessed threat found no immediate evidence of a command and control node. Rooms connected to the tunnel network discovered by the IDF showed no immediate evidence of ongoing military use by Hamas and no evidence that the tunnels could be accessed from inside hospital wards."  THE GUARDIAN notes:

Al Jazeera reports that Israeli forces have arrested on of its journalists at al-Shifa hospital. Other local media have also reported that Ismail al-Ghoul has been detained.

Al Jazeera writes:

We’re getting reports that Israeli forces have arrested Al Jazeera Arabic’s correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul from inside the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. According to Palestinian writer and journalist Imad Zaqqout and other witnesses, al-Ghoul was beaten severely by Israeli soldiers before he was arrested with dozens of men and women within the hospital.

Al Jazeera Arabic reported that the hospital’s surgical building was on fire following the Israeli bombing.

According to Palestinian writer and journalist Imad Zaqqout and other witnesses, Israeli forces arrested Al Jazeera Arabic’s correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul from inside the hospital.

The witnesses said al-Ghoul was beaten severely by Israeli soldiers before he was arrested with dozens of men and women within the hospital.

Thousands of protesters filled the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Saturday night, with two separate groups calling for the government to resign and demanding the release of hostages held in Gaza. 

In Tel Aviv: Demonstrators on two main streets of Tel Aviv called on the Israeli government to resign, with some protesters also seen burning fires and scuffling with police in the city.

Protesters blocked Ayalon Highway — a major inter-city freeway in Gush Dan, Israel, in the metro Tel Aviv area — and chanted, "There is nothing more important. Every hostage must come back." Na'ama Lazimi, a member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, was seen among the protesters on the highway.  

In Jerusalem and Caesarea: Thousands of family members of hostages still held in Gaza demanded the release of their loved ones on Saturday evening. A social media video captured arrests of protesters who were calling for elections near Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea. Israeli police said they arrested four in Caesarea and two in Jerusalem.  

What police say: Israel Police said it approved the request to hold the protests, but added that "a number of protesters gathered illegally on Menachem Begin Road and began to violate the order by lighting fires on the road and blocking the movement of vehicles."

"At the same time, a number of protesters went down to Ayalon and blocked a part off the road while confronting the police," the statement said, adding that police then "announced that the demonstration was illegal and that they should clear the traffic routes. At this stage, the rioters did not listen to the instructions and the police had to use measures to disperse the rioters in order to stop the offense."

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

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

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

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


Gaza remains under assault. Day 164 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."  MINT notes, "Israel has killed over 31,726 people in Palestine since October 7, as per the Gaza health ministry. Israeli military offensive has also injured an additional 73,792 people since the Gaza war started, as per an official statement on March 18."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

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

The EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell condemned Benjamin Netanyahu this morning for creating what he said was a “manmade famine” in Gaza, and urged Israel to allow road deliveries of food immediately.

Arriving at a summit of foreign ministers in Brussels, he said European leaders have told the Israeli prime minister they cannot stand by and watch Palestinians starve to death.

In Gaza we are no longer on the brink of famine, we are in a state of famine affecting thousands of people.

Chancellor Sholz told Benjamin Netanyahu ‘we cannot stand by and watch Palestinians starve’. This famine is not a natural disaster. It is not a flaw. It is not an earthquake. It is entirely manmade.

Chancellor Scholz is saying Europeans cannot sit and watch Palestinian starving, when on the other side of the border there is food for months accumulated in stocks, while on the other side of the road there are people dying of hunger. This requires some action.

The EU, which funds much of the aid to Gaza, said the land border used to handle 500 tonnes of aid a day before the war. At present it was functioning at a level of 100 tonnes a day.

Borrell added: “Before the war, Gaza was the greatest open air prison. Today it is the greatest open air graveyard”.

Yesterday, UNICEF's Catherine Russell appeared on CBS' FACE THE NATION:

MARGARET BRENNAN: According to UNICEF, 81% of households in Gaza don't have enough access to clean water, and nine in 10 people do not have enough food to survive. The organization's executive director is Catherine Russell, and she's here with us. Welcome to Face the Nation.

CATHERINE RUSSELL: Thank you very much, thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You focus in particular on the children. We heard this week from the leaders of the US intelligence community that there will be a generational impact from what is happening in Gaza. The implications of that they were looking through the national security lens. From your perspective, what does that mean? What does the generational impact mean?

CATHERINE RUSSELL: Well, it means- it means that what's happening now is more than 13,000 children already have been killed, which is an astronomical horrifying number. Thousands more have been injured, or we can't even determine where they are, they may be stuck under rubble. Thousands more have lost one or both parents, some of these children, you've seen them on the news. They're just by themselves managing their younger siblings. I mean, it's a horrifying situation. So when you think about the impact of that on those children as they grow up, even on their- their children, right, it is an impact that is so profound, because of the stress that they're living under and the grief and the loss and the fear that they're living under. It's bound to have impacts on them the rest of their lives.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Since October 7, 33 Israeli children have been killed in those horrific attacks of that day. As you just said, 13,000 in Gaza that you know of--

CATHERINE RUSSELL: --That we know of.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's just horrific–


CATHERINE RUSSELL: You know, honestly, the- the children who were killed in Israel, the- the children who were taken hostage, yeah, there are still children who have not been returned to their families in Israel, all horrific, right. Every one of those cases is so heartbreaking for that child and that family. I- I think these numbers that we're seeing out of Gaza are just staggering. I mean, we haven't seen that rate of death among children in- in almost any other conflict in the world. It's really shocking.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So your organization says 31% of children, one in three under the age of two, in northern Gaza suffer from acute malnutrition. This isn't just trauma, this is- this is stunting them for life.

CATHERINE RUSSELL: Well, if they survive. And I have to say I've seen a lot of children, unfortunately, in my job around the world who suffer from malnutrition, and it is a shocking thing to see. I mean, essentially, the body starts to consume itself because it has nothing else and it's a painful, painful death for children. I've been in wards of children who are suffering from severe anemia malnutrition, the whole ward is absolutely quiet. Because the children the babies have don't even have the energy to cry. I mean, it is a devastating thing to see. And you're right, if they survive it, if we can manage to get what we do is provide therapeutic feeding for them. If we can get that to them, they can survive, but often they're stunted for life. And stunting means that your- your- your ability, your cognitive ability is impacted as well. So it is a lifelong challenge for these children, if they survive, but we know now that children are dying from malnutrition in- in Gaza.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The CIA director testified about children starving in Gaza. What are you able to actually get in at this point? And we know there are airdrops happening. You can't airdrop vaccines, you can't airdrop things that need to be refrigerated. So- so what's getting in and what do you need to get?

CATHERINE RUSSELL: Well, first of all, the one thing we know for sure is not enough is getting in and the airdrops are, as you say, some things are coming in that way, some things came in through this maritime corridor, but it's a drop in the bucket in both cases. And what we need to get in for children is what I said, this therapeutic feeding which is something called Plumpy'nut, I don't know if you've ever seen it, but it's fantastic and it can save their lives. But we need to get it to them and we have so little access right now. And it's very challenging. We also are facing very great bureaucratic challenges, moving trucks in. Trucks and moving things by land is by far the most efficient, effective way to get aid in. But there are a lot of challenges to that where we can't, you know, I think, excuse me, Senator Van Hollen mentioned if things are dual use, sometimes they get rejected, so we can't get plastic pipes in, we can't get some medical kits if they have a little scissors in them. I mean, it's- it's completely, almost Kafkaesque sometimes trying to figure out how we get things into this bureaucratic mess. And I think at the end of the day, those are choices that are made, right. If the choice is--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --Those are political choices.

CATHERINE RUSSELL: They are choices. And I think if the choice is to say we need to get as much humanitarian aid flooded into this area as possible, everyone can do better in that regard. And I think that the population there is suffering in such a terrible way. And I think one of the big challenges is, because there's such limited access--


CATHERINE RUSSELL:  For the press, in addition, it's hard to see that, right. And I think it would be great if there were more transparency, if everyone could see what the challenges are, what the legitimate bottlenecks--


CATHERINE RUSSELL: Are, and how we could all do better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We rely on our producer who lives in Gaza, Marwar al-Ghoul, but we cannot get in--

CATHERINE RUSSELL: --Which is not right. You should be- you should be able to get it and you should be able to see what's happening. The world should be able to see what's happening and make their own judgments about what's going on.

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