Saturday, February 10, 2024

The ongoing war

There's no defense for what Selma Blair said.  Early today, we noted CAIR's statement and Marcia blogged about Selman's hate in "The hateful people who destroy our world."  Otherwise?  Ava and I writing about it for THIRD.

Now let's note this:

Ayat Khadoura posted a video online in November. The text written across her recording reads: “My last message to the world.” For the freelancer, posting from northern Gaza about the search for food and basic needs, it wasn’t the first time she’d thought she might be filming her final moments. But this time she was right.

“We had very big dreams, but unfortunately, today our dreams are that if we are killed, we are killed in one piece,” she said.

An Israeli strike hit Khadoura’s home in northern Gaza, killing her and some of her siblings, her sister Yasmin said. She said relatives couldn’t bury Ayat because her body was blown to pieces.

“Ayat aspired to become a big journalist, to study further, to get filming equipment. So many things,” her sister said. But in her last days, Yasmin recalled, “she told me, ‘I no longer want anything. I just want the war to end.’”

The death toll continues to climb.  At least 85 journalists have been killed in Gaza.  Ayat Khadoura was killed on November 20th and THE WASHINGTON POST notes her and others killed.  

Radio Free Amanda notes, "85 was the number two months ago -- CPJ tends to be slow at processing and releasing these figures. According to UN reports and Gaza's own Government Media office, the number is at least 122 journalists killed by Israel at this point."  Reporters Without Borders notes:

The toll of four months of war in Gaza on journalism is nothing short of horrifying: Palestinian journalists killed, wounded, and prevented from working without any possibility of safe refuge. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) strongly condemns the eradication of journalism and the right to information in Gaza by the Israeli army, and calls on States and international organisations to increase pressure on Israel to immediately cease this carnage.


In 124 days of conflict, at least 84 journalists have been killed in Gaza, including at least 20 in the course of their journalistic work or in connection with it, according to RSF’s data. Journalists are being decimated as the days of this interminable war go by, through incessant Israeli strikes from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip. Journalists who have survived these four months are living a daily hell: In inhumane conditions, they suffer shortages of all kinds, particularly of equipment, as well as regular media blackouts.

CBS NEWS reports, "Israeli airstrikes killed at least 44 Palestinians — including more than a dozen children — in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Saturday, hours after Israel's prime minister said he had asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people there ahead of a ground invasion."  CNN’s Abel Alvarado notes, "Another Israeli airstrike in Rafah hit a house and killed at least 12 civilians, according to information provided to CNN by the Abu Yousuf Al-Najjar hospital in Gaza. More people are believed to still be caught under the rubble."

Gaza remains under assault. Day 127 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, "At least 28,064 people have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since t'  he war began on October 7.  Another 67,611 have been wounded and thousands more are missing."  Months ago,  AP has 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."   

Among the many children who have been killed or gone missing (or both) is Hind Rajab.  For some time, people have been asking where she is after the car she was traveling in with her cousins and her aunt and uncle was shot up and an ambulance arrived to take her for medical treatment. AP explains:

The sound of gunfire crackled over the phone as the teenage girl hid in the car and spoke. An Israeli tank was near the vehicle as she and her family were trying to heed Israel’s call to evacuate their home in Gaza.

Something had gone horribly wrong. Everyone in the vehicle was dead, the teen said. Everyone but her and her 5-year-old female cousin, Hind.

“They are shooting at us,” 15-year-old Layan told the Palestinian Red Crescent. “The tank is next to me.”

Emine Sinmaz (GUARDIAN) picks up there:

But the aid agency lost contact with the ambulance dispatched to her aid on 29 January and its crew and Hind remained missing.

Now Hind’s family has said that she was found dead inside the car in the Tel al-Hawa area of Gaza City on Saturday morning.

“Hind and everyone else in the car is martyred,” her grandfather, Baha Hamada, told Agence France-Presse. “[Family members] were able to reach the area because Israeli forces withdrew early at dawn today.”

Hind’s mother, Wissam Hamada, added: “I will question before God on Judgment Day those who heard my daughter’s cries for help and did not save her.”

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said that it had located its bombed-out ambulance just metres away, and that its two paramedics, Yusuf Al-Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun, had also been killed.

As we noted at the top, journalists have been killed.  Children are being killed.  And The Red Cross - Red Crescent and other aid workers are being killed.  AP notes, "Palestinian Red Crescent spokesperson Raed al-Nims said Israel has killed 20 of its staffers and wounded about 30 others since the war began."

More killing is planned.   BBC reports:

Israel is facing growing international warnings over its planned offensive in Rafah - the city in southern Gaza crammed with Palestinian refugees.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said "over half of Gaza's population are sheltering in the area", while Dutch FM Hanke Bruins Slot said there could be "many civilian casualties".

Saudi Arabia warned of "very serious repercussions" if Rafah was stormed.

Gaza's Hamas rulers said there could "tens of thousands" of casualties.

THE NATIONAL adds that over a million people are packed into Rafah currently and:

 Israel's main backer, the United States, has said it does not support a ground offensive in Rafah, warning that, if not properly planned, such an operation risks "disaster."

The UAE also expressed deep concern for the humanitarian repercussions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned against military action that could cause the loss of more innocent life and exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf said such action by Israel would be “indefensible”, and urged the international community to demand an immediate ceasefire.

ALJAZEERA notes that Netanyahu is insisting a "safe passage" would be offered to those in Rafah: 

However, it remains unclear how this would be achieved, considering it is now home to 1.4 million people in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have also routinely bombed designated safe zones after telling Palestinians to evacuate to them since the start of the war on October 7.

The war continues to spread throughout the region.  Zeina Khodr (ALJAZEERA) reports:

This was deep inside Lebanon about 60km (37 miles) from the border with Israel, where the two sides, Hezbollah and Israel, have been exchanging fire triggered by the war on Gaza.

This is the not first attack of its kind. On Thursday an Israeli drone targeted a vehicle in the southern city of Nabaitieh targeting members of Hezbollah.

This is really becoming strategy on the part of the Israelis, and what is clear that there is no longer a front line. Back in January Hamas number two [Saleh al-Arouri] was assassinated in the heart of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Israel is using this opportunity to really target officials from Hezbollah and Hamas as well as try to degrade the capabilities of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

ALJAZEERA adds, "The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that any widening of the war in Gaza would aggravate the economic harm caused by the conflict."

The following sites updated:

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Sorensen: Decision to Ban AI Robocalls a Win for Seniors and Working Families


Sorensen: Decision to Ban AI Robocalls a Win for Seniors and Working Families

February 8, 2024
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Eric Sorensen (IL-17) released the following statement applauding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) unanimous vote to ban the use of robocalls using cloned voices with artificial intelligence (AI).  

“Robocallers are using new AI technologies to impersonate family and friends, resulting in billions in stolen cash from hardworking Americans,” said Sorensen. “While today’s decision from the FCC allows us to stay one step ahead of these con artists, we need to do more. Congress must increase penalties for bad actors by passing my QUIET Act so we can protect our neighbors and make sure that those who target and steal from our loved ones face consequences.” 

Last month, Sorensen along with Congressman Juan Ciscomani (AZ-06) introduced the bipartisan Quashing Unwanted and Interruptive Electronic Telecommunications (QUIET) Act, which requires robocallers to disclose when artificial intelligence (AI) technology is used and increases penalties for violators who use AI to impersonate individuals. 

Sorensen has made ending scam robocalls and robotexts a top priority. In June of 2023, Sorensen led 35 of his colleagues in requesting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provide a plan to address scam robocalls and texts, which heavily target seniors. 

Congressman Eric Sorensen serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Prior to serving in Congress, Sorensen was a local meteorologist in Rockford and the Quad Cities for nearly 20 years. His district includes Illinois’ Quad Cities, Rockford, Peoria, and Bloomington-Normal. 


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Tlaib Introduces Bill to Stop Politicians Profiting from War


Tlaib Introduces Bill to Stop Politicians Profiting from War

Feb 06, 2024
Ending Poverty
Justice for All

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) introduced the Stop Politicians Profiting from War Act to prohibit Members of Congress, their spouses, and their dependent children from having any financial interests in any company that does business with the Department of Defense and banning them from trading defense stocks.

Currently Members of Congress are allowed to own and trade stocks, even when their committee assignments and access to information as public officials give them insider knowledge. Members of Congress were elected to serve the public, not to serve their stock portfolios. In recent years, public trust in our government has dwindled due to corruption and exploitation from those within. Congresswoman Tlaib is a longtime supporter of advocacy and legislation to prohibit Members of Congress from buying and selling stocks.

According to Capitol Trades, U.S. lawmakers made 96 transactions in defense stocks in 2023, and eight of these purchases took place since October.

“My colleagues continue to funnel billions of American tax dollars to the very same defense contractors that many of them are invested in and taking campaign donations from,” said Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. “The American people deserve representatives who vote in the best interest of our country and our families, not their stock portfolios. It is shameful that some of my colleagues are profiting financially when they vote to support wars and weapons manufacturing. Members of Congress should not be able to use their positions of power to get rich from defense contractors while voting to pass more funding to bomb innocent civilians. The American people deserve better. We are sick of politicians profiting from endless wars.”

“Elected officials owning defense contractor stocks while also controlling annual budget allocations is the opposite of a virtuous circle. It’s an astonishing testament to the deep power of the military-industrial-Congressional complex that owning defense contractor stock while in office hasn’t yet been banned,” said Savannah Wooten, People Over Pentagon Advocate, Public Citizen. “Rep. Tlaib’s legislation is a long overdue and welcome proposal. The bill should be passed immediately.”

Congresswoman Cori Bush supports this legislation as an original cosponsor.

This resolution is endorsed by, Action Corps, Adalah Justice Project, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), American Federation of Ramallah Palestine, Americans for Justice in Palestine Action (AJP Action), American Friends Service Committee, Common Defense, Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Migrant Roots Media, MPower Change Action Fund, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Peace Action, Public Citizen,, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, VietLead, Win Without War, and Women Cross DMZ.

A copy of the legislation is available here.


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Congresswoman Bush Statement on U.S. Military Funding for Israeli Government

 February 06, 2024

Congresswoman Bush Statement on U.S. Military Funding for Israeli Government


Washington, D.C. (Feb. 6, 2024) — Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) released the following statement ahead of a vote in the House of Representatives to fund over $14 billion on military assistance to the Israeli government, and over $3 billion on U.S. military operations in the Middle East.

“With over 27,000 Palestinians killed, and after the preliminary ruling from the International Court of Justice on potential violations of the Genocide Convention, it is unconscionable for the United States government to spend billions of dollars to continue enabling mass atrocities. I will be voting no on this bill today. Instead of flouting domestic and international law in support of the continued killing of children, hostages, and other innocent people, we should be prioritizing the needs of our communities. That means funding public housing, healthcare, and education — not endless war. And if Congress is actually committed to advancing peace and security in the Middle East, it should pass my Ceasefire Now Resolution.”

According to Al Jazeera, over 27,000 people have been killed in Gaza, including over 11,000 children and 8,000 women. Al Jazeera also reports more than 66,000 people have been injured and over 8,000 are missing.

Congresswoman Bush has remained a steadfast advocate for peace and a lasting ceasefire.

  • On October 16, 2023, Congresswoman Bush, alongside Representatives Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), André Carson (IN-07), Summer Lee (PA-12), and Delia C. Ramirez (IL-03), introduced the Ceasefire Now Resolution, which urges the Biden Administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible. Since it’s introduction, the Ceasefire Now Resolution has secured a total of 19 co-sponsors, and over 60 other members of Congress have also come forward to publicly support a ceasefire.
  • Over the past four months, Congresswoman Bush has held several press conferences with different groups of people, including veterans, rabbis, doctors and unions, to highlight the breadth of the ceasefire movement. 
  • Last month, Congresswoman Bush and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) both expressed support of South Africa’s case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging Israel violated the Genocide Convention, and released a joint statement on the ICJ’s provisional measures ruling.
  • On January 12, 2024, Congresswoman Bush released a statement celebrating the St. Louis City’s Board of Aldermen’s unanimous passage of a resolution calling on President Biden to work toward a ceasefire in Gaza.


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Baldwin Successfully Pushes Biden Administration to Ensure Use of U.S. Aid Follows International Humanitarian Law


Baldwin Successfully Pushes Biden Administration to Ensure Use of U.S. Aid Follows International Humanitarian Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) released the following statement on a new Biden Administration memorandum that closely mirrors an amendment she supported to ensure weapons received by any country through U.S. security assistance are used in accordance with international humanitarian law.

“As we work to support our allies, I remain committed to ensuring any aid we provide is used in line with our values as Americans. I’m glad the Biden Administration followed our lead and is putting in place commonsense guardrails that ensure that any assistance we provide to our allies is used in accordance with international humanitarian law and gives the American people transparency and accountability,” said Senator Baldwin.

In line with the Baldwin-backed amendment, the National Security Memorandum (NSM) will for the first time require that, prior to the transfer of U.S. security assistance, recipient countries must provide the U.S. with credible and reliable written assurances that they will comply with international humanitarian law and other applicable international law.

The NSM also requires that prior to the transfer of U.S. security assistance, recipient countries must provide the U.S. with credible and reliable written assurances that they will facilitate and not arbitrarily deny or restrict U.S. humanitarian assistance and U.S.-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance in areas of conflict. And, also in line with Senator Baldwin’s amendment, the NSM creates robust reporting requirements to Congress on these provisions and additional assessments of compliance with U.S. laws and policies.

The NSM is available here.


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Senator Murray Cosponsors Resolution Calling for Delivery of Urgently Needed Humanitarian Aid to Civilians in Gaza


Senator Murray Cosponsors Resolution Calling for Delivery of Urgently Needed Humanitarian Aid to Civilians in Gaza

Resolution calls on Biden Administration to work with allies and partners to streamline and increase access to aid for Gaza to prevent further spread of disease and starvation

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) and 15 of their colleagues in introducing a resolution calling on the Biden Administration to work with allies and partners within the international community to dramatically increase humanitarian aid to Gaza in order to prevent further spread of disease and starvation. Senators Murray and Welch were joined by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Angus King (I-ME). 

“The situation is Gaza is dire. Innocent civilians are in desperate need of medical care and many are facing starvation and disease. The Netanyahu government must end the collective punishment. What we’re seeing is a humanitarian crisis on a massive scale and it is absolutely critical that the Biden Administration keep working around the clock, doing everything humanly possible to get a major influx of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” said Senator Murray. “I’m glad to join my colleagues in this important resolution and am working hard to get a supplemental funding package with humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza across the finish line.”

The United States is the largest single-state funder of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people. The White House, State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and partners have worked to increase access for aid delivery to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, but far more work needs to be done.  

The resolution introduced today calls on the Administration, on an urgent basis, and working with allies and partners within the international community, to help facilitate the humanitarian aid needed to prevent starvation and disease in Gaza by: 

  • Streamlining the inspection of trucks entering Gaza 
  • Increasing the access points for aid deliveries into Gaza 
  • Ensuring the distribution of adequate fuel to hospitals and humanitarian organizations in Gaza 
  • Ensuring the ability of humanitarian organizations to deliver aid safely and urgently in Gaza 
  • Expanding the number of safe shelters and food distribution locations for displaced people in Gaza 
  • Supporting efforts to restore water supply lines; and 
  • Working to secure the additional funding necessary to support the humanitarian response. 

The resolution is supported by CARE, Catholic Relief Services, J Street, Church World Service, Mennonite Central Committee, Project HOPE, Mercy Corps, and Anera. 

Since the Israel-Hamas war began, Senator Murray has made numerous calls for humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians, and has urged President Biden to lead the international community in contributing to the United Nations’ emergency appeal to address the immediate humanitarian needs in the West Bank and Gaza. Murray called for a humanitarian pause in the war in November and as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, she is working right now to pass a comprehensive national security supplemental package that includes aid to our allies in Israel and Ukraine and humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians. Last week, Senator Murray voiced her strong support for President Biden’s Executive Order allowing and deploying new sanctions on Israeli settlers involved in violent attacks against Palestinians. Murray also joined a letter to President Biden urging the administration to encourage Israeli officials to take five specific steps to significantly increase urgently needed humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza.

Full text of the resolution can be found HERE


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CAIR Condemns Actress Selma Blair’s Anti-Muslim Remarks, Invites Her to Dialogue


CAIR Condemns Actress Selma Blair’s Anti-Muslim Remarks, Invites Her to Dialogue

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, today condemned anti-Muslim remarks made by actress Selma Blair and encouraged her to apologize and dialogue with the Muslim American community.

CAIR also called on film studios and talent agencies to stop punishing artists who express support for Palestinian human rights while ignoring hateful remarks by artists who support the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

In a comment on Instagram, Blair reportedly wrote: “Deport all these terrorist supporting goons. Islam has destroyed Muslim countries and then they come here and destroy minds. 

They know they are liars. Twisted justifications. May they meet their fate.”

According to allegations posted online, Blair has also allegedly liked other posts on social media that expressed anti-Muslim and anti-migrant sentiment.

In a statement, CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:

“No one is born a bigot, and we should never assume that someone is doomed to remain a bigot. 

“Based on the hateful and ignorant remarks that Ms. Blair made, we doubt that she has ever engaged in any meaningful interactions with her Muslim colleagues in Hollywood or other members of the American Muslim community. We encourage Ms. Blair to apologize, and we also invite her to dialogue with our community. 

“We also call on Hollywood studios and agencies to stop punishing artists who express support for Palestinian human rights while ignoring hateful comments by artists who support the ongoing genocide in Gaza.”

CAIR recently released new civil rights data showing that it has received 3,578 complaints during the last three months of 2023 amid an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate. Most recently, in Austin, Texas, a man screaming racist slurs attacked a group of Palestinian American Muslims who had just attend a pro-ceasefire protest.

On Monday, Feb. 12, (noon ET), CAIR plans to hold a news conference with the sons of Samaher Esmail, an American citizen and grandmother from New Orleans who was recently kidnapped, beaten, and denied access to medicine by Israeli forces in the West Bank.

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.             

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.            

Do you like reading CAIR press releases and taking part in our action alerts? You can help contribute to CAIR’s work of defending civil rights and empowering American Muslims across the country by making a one-time contribution or becoming a monthly donor. Supporters like you make CAIR’s advocacy work possible and defeating Islamophobia an achievable goal. Click here to donate to CAIR.                   

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