Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Orville Peck and Willie Nelson, The Monkees, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks

On Friday, Orville Peck and Willie Nelson released a duet cover of Ned Sublette's 1981 song "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other," a song about gay cowboys. Fans of the country singers have described the collaboration as "healing" when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance.
Peck, a gay country music artist, said in an interview with GLAAD published Monday that the duet was actually Nelson's idea. "It's actually been a long time in the making this whole collaboration. Willie asked me about it a couple of years ago," he said.

Peck likened Nelson's unbashful support to the LGBTQ+ community to Dolly Parton, because "they are not afraid to sort of give the middle finger to this sort of concept of this gate kept part of country that's all tied into like weird politics and all this stuff."

"I think that the fact that Willie stands next to the entire LGBTQIA+ community by doing this song just shows what an amazing person he is, what a legend he is," he added. "It's a win for all of us because that’s true allyship. Someone who's completely unafraid to be right there next to us, there's no vagueness involved."

Did not know about the duet.  Here's the video on YOUTUBE.

Now let's deal with an idiot.  At FANSIDED, Jonathan Eig writes:

Remember that thing about Jethro Tull not being taken seriously by fans and critics alike? The Monkees have them beaten by a mile. The simple fact is that The Monkees were a great pop-rock band who produced a great many hit records, but were never taken seriously because they were “created” for a TV show by a couple of filmmakers – Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider. They held auditions – found two actual musicians in Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith to pair with a couple of musically-inclined actors/comedians in Davey Jones and Micky Dolenz – and launched a psychedelic, absurdist show that ran for a couple of seasons in the late ‘60s.

They were massively successful for a short period of time, recording songs by other writers like Neil Diamond and the Boyce/Hart team. When they began doing their own material the popularity waned, but the songs actually got better and more ambitious. In the end, they simply produced too much first-rate pop rock to be excluded from the Hall.

Idiot, they were four actors.  They did not play the instruments you thought they were playing.  From WIKIPEDIA:

Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. is the fourth album by the Monkees. It was released on November 6, 1967, during a period when the band exerted more control over their music and performed many of the instruments themselves (previously forbidden by Colgems). 

Get it?

THE MONKEES was a TV show about four guys in a band.  The producers  cast four different guys in the role.

For the bulk of the hits, a Monkee sang the lead on a hit and that was it.  No Monkee was writing the hits, no Monkee was playing music on the hits and that was even then on backup in most cases.

What's next?  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts The Partridge Family?  The Monkees hit making music career ended when the TV series did.

I don't hate the Monkees.  I got to meet them all.  Mickey, the only one still with us, was the nicest.  But I don't mistake them for a music group and it's sad when others do.  It was a great TV show.  I still watch it anytime I come across it on the TV.  But, no, they weren't a band.

The idiot also wants to say that Cher will probably get in this year and she's at best "rock and roll adjacent."

STFU you sexist pig.  You know nothing about Cher.  She started out in the sixties solo and with Sonny.  She and Sonny were folk-rock.  Solo?  She was grungier than grunge.  No one recorded more songs by Bob Dylan than Cher did in the 60s except for Joan Baez.  He knows nothing about her work.  He knows nothing about music.  He's an idiot and a pig.

In other stupidity, this:

Tom Petty is an American icon. His music resonates and is timeless. Country artists are paying homage to the late rocker by putting their spins on his tunes. Big names are among those who contributed to the 20-song album that will be out in June, just in time for summer.

Sorry to break it to you but it's not a Tom Petty tribute without Stevie Nicks.  Stevie's not country!  Says who.  Her first solo album contained a song that made the country charts ("After The Glitter Fades").  She wrote "Landslide" -- her hit with Fleetwood Mac in 1975 -- and it was a number two hit on the country charts for the Chicks in 2002.  Pairing with Lady A for "Golden" led to a number 50 country hit. 

And, if you're wondering, the only appearance Tom Petty made on the country charts was singing back up on Hank Williams' "Mind Your Own Business" -- Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson and Reverend Ike sang back up with Tom.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, April 10, 2024.  War Criminal Netanyahu continues his killing spree, when not killing children he arrests them, Joe Biden tut-tuts and wags a useless finger throughout, and much more.

We're going to start with a column written by Mischa Geracoulis and Heidi Boghosian at COMMON DREAMS.  I like Heidi so I was going to link to it.   I don't like the column.  This is not me disagreeing with it.  I've read it three times and I honestly can't tell you anything concrete that they're arguing for.  They shift focus constantly -- this is supposed to be about opinion columns but, for example:

The Interceptpublished an analysis of media coverage during the first six weeks of the Israeli assault on Gaza, which helps to quantify the misuse of op-eds. The open-source inquiry into more than 1,000 articles revealed coverage that regularly favored the Israeli narrative. Consistent bias against Palestinians in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times disproportionately described Israeli losses in emotional, humanizing language.

THE INTERCEPT analyzed news article -- use the link.  The paragraph above even notes "1,000 articles."  Over and over, this is a poorly written article.

The Council on Foreign Relations?

You're talking about a blogger 'documenting' that organizations (over) influence?  There is real work done on that.  Jeremy Scahill, for example, by real journalists.  Refusing to note that makes it look like you're trying to have a circle jerk of click bait.  

I also don't need the gaze of Australia on America, by the way.  I don't know what is about Australian bloggers -- fear? -- but they can attack the US for this and that and Sibel Edmonds (remember Luke?) but they can't hold their own government accountable.  Ever.  Maybe if they did, Julian Assange would be free.

Time and again, the column written is nonsense.

They want to censor.  


Because Americans are just too stupid apparently.

Then you educate.

The two COMMON DREAMS columnists are being stupid with their own nonsense.

The problems they are listing are largely issues of disclosure and honesty.  We should demand that from the media.  That's not a new position for me or for this site.  It was 2004 when I wrote  "When NPR Fails You, Who You Gonna' Call? Not the Ombudsman," calling out NPR for bringing Robert Kagan on as an analyst on how John Kerry was doing in his presidential campaign.  Kaplan was presented as objective.  He never should have been brought on air.  Why?  His wife was Dick Cheney's right hand:

What is Kagan's conflict of interest appearance? (An issue NPR has still not addressed.) It's not that he writes an op-ed for The Washington Post. Dvorkin does toss out the "hawk" issue but without ever addressing it. But he also doesn't address a very important fact: who is Robert Kagan married to?

He's married to Victoria Nuland. For all I know, she's a wonderful person. But that's not the issue. The issue is who Ms. Nuland works for. Want to take a guess on that?

Did you guess Dick Cheney? If you did, you may be more informed than Dvorkin or Montagne because possibly they are unaware of that fact. Possibly, they haven't done the basic work required -- Montagne to know about the "guest" she is introducing; Dvorkin to address the issue of Kagan as a commentator/interpreter of John Kerry's remarks.

Michele Norris' husband worked for the Kerry campaign. (Warning: we're going down a very basic road here. But apparently, it's not one that NPR can navigate by themselves so let's move slowly to allow them to keep up.) Since Norris' husband is involved with attempting to get what we will call "team A" into the White House, Norris has the appearance of a conflict of interest and her reporting duties can not include commenting or covering the campaigns. That's a simple path to follow whether you agree with it or not.

But with Kagan, the path has a huge u-turn and veers off to God knows where. Kagan's wife works as Cheney's deputy national security adviser. That's Ms. Nuland' s title. So in effect, Ms. Nuland's employed by "team B" -- she's apparently not working on team B's campaign, but she works for team B. Potentially, Kagan has a vested interest in the outcome of the 2004 election.

FAIR is noted (briefly) in the column (maybe if they were an Australian blogger they'd get more linkage love?).  FAIR is an outlet that's done work providing context and conflicts in the media coverage.  A far better recommendation to end the column on would have been a call to donate to FAIR (or to PROJECT CENSORED -- I believe they're the reason the column was written in the first place).

And I'm going to say one more thing about this Australian blogger.  It's bad enough in the US when supposed 'lefties' went out of their way to support the Proud Boys and other Nazi groups but to cite an Australian who did so as well?  Oh, no.   (Rage Against The War Machine was a faux-test that most on the left opposed because it required you to stand with neo Nazis and Proud Boys -- the Australian supported it -- read WSWS for the realities of that event, start here.)  I don't need an Australian giving hugs and kisses to racism in the US and I'm honestly appalled Heidi cited that mental midget to begin with when the Council on Foreign Relations is a topic that's long been discussed, addressed and called out on the left here in the United States.

 US president Joe Biden has said prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach on Gaza was a “mistake” and urged Israel to call for a ceasefire, in an interview that aired on Tuesday.

Biden’s comments were some of his strongest criticism yet of Netanyahu amid growing tensions over the civilian death toll from Israel’s war on Hamas and dire conditions inside Gaza.

“I think what he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach,” Biden told Univision, a US Spanish-language TV network, when asked about Netanyahu’s handling of the war.

Biden reiterated that an Israeli drone attack last week that killed seven aid workers from a US-based charity in Gaza – and sparked a tense phone call with Netanyahu – was “outrageous”.

Yes, it was an outrage.  When an outrage occurs, it needs to be addressed.  What's Joe gonna do because observations aren't doing a damn thing.  

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

As we continue on Gaza, lawyers representing Germany at the International Court of Justice delivered their concluding remarks at The Hague today in a case brought by Nicaragua, which has accused Germany of facilitating the commission of genocide in Gaza by providing military and financial aid to Israel. Nicaragua has asked the U.N.'s top court for emergency measures ordering the German government to halt its support to Israel. Germany is Israel's second-largest arms supplier after the U.S. In 2023, Germany approved arms exports to Israel valued at over $353 million, roughly 10 times the sum approved the previous year.

For more, we’re joined by Kenneth Roth, visiting professor at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, served for nearly 30 years as the executive director of Human Rights Watch. He’s joining us now in New York.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Ken. It’s great to have you with us. Can you explain why Nicaragua is simply taking on Germany, and the significance of this case, another case being brought to the U.N.’s top court?

KENNETH ROTH: Obviously, the United States would have been the ideal target. The U.S. is the principal armer of the Israeli military. But the U.S. has a much more limited acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. It basically has to consent to every suit. And it was not going to consent to this suit. Germany has a much more open-ended acceptance of the jurisdiction, so Germany being the second-largest armer of the Israeli military, it was the target.

Now, in terms of the significance, the court has already found that this is a plausible case of genocide. And Nicaragua is saying, “Germany, you are arming potential genocide.” They also have added that Germany is arming actual war crimes, violations of international humanitarian law, which it clearly is. Now, there is a precedent for this. If you remember back to Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, he was convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone, and is actually currently serving a 50-year prison term in Britain for that crime. So, the International Court of Justice is a civil court. It’s not a criminal court. But Nicaragua is basically pursuing the same theory, saying, you know, “This is at least war crimes. It’s plausible genocide. You’re arming it. That’s aiding and abetting. You should stop.” That’s the essence of the case.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you, Kenneth — there were 40 Democratic members of Congress, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have written to President Biden, urging him to halt new arms transfers to Israel in the wake of the killing of the World Central Kitchen aid workers. What’s your sense of the prospects for possibly halting or at least significantly reducing U.S. arms shipments to Israel?

KENNETH ROTH: Well, you know, Juan, that has been the line that Joe Biden has been unwilling to cross. He has spoken, at this point quite eloquently, pushing Israel to stop bombing civilians, to allow more food and humanitarian aid into Gaza. But these, from Netanyahu’s perspective, are just empty words, because Joe Biden never backs them up with consequences. And the obvious consequence, the obvious huge leverage that the U.S. government has, is the $3.8 billion in annual military aid it gives Israel and the regular shipment of arms, you know, almost every week in the course of this conflict. And Biden has not been willing to explicitly condition those, that aid, those arms sales, on ending the bombing and starving of Palestinian civilians.

Now, we heard last week that in the private phone call with Netanyahu, Biden suggested that at some point in the future this might be conditioned, you know, that U.S. relations will depend on how Israel responds. But it was all very vague. And, of course, Netanyahu responded with equal vagueness. He says, “OK, at some point I’ll open up the new crossing into northern Gaza to allow more food aid in, but that will take a few weeks, and I’m not saying anything about whether I’ll impose the same kind of obstructions in the north as I’ve imposed in the south. And I won’t say anything about Israel’s shooting at Palestinian police officers so that there’s chaos when you try to distribute the food. You know, none of that is on the table.”

So, in essence, Biden is not using this huge leverage, despite the pleas of an increasing number of lawmakers in Washington, you know, despite rapidly changing U.S. opinion polls saying Americans are tired of the U.S. actively supporting these war crimes, this plausible genocide in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: Why is he doing this? I mean, it is amazing to see the split in the Democratic establishment. I’m not just talking about the protesters on the streets, who definitely are driving this split. But, you know, you have now Senator Warren of Massachusetts saying she believes Israel’s assault on Gaza meets the legal definition of genocide. You have Christopher Coons, who I consider a Biden whisperer, who is now talking about halting weapons sales to Israel. But you have Biden resisting, though he has talked about a ceasefire. Why is this so difficult for him? What do you think it would take, especially now that you have Netanyahu saying that he’s set the date certain for an invasion of Rafah?

KENNETH ROTH: He just won’t tell us what that date is, yes. Amy, that’s the big psychoanalytic question, and we just don’t know. I mean, part of it, I think, is that Joe Biden, you know, who is an older man, as we know, thinks of Israel back in 1967, when it was the David surrounded by the Goliath of all the Arab states attacking Israel. He doesn’t think of Israel today, the regional superpower, a nuclear-armed state, a state that has been occupying Palestinian territory for decades and is imposing apartheid. You know, that’s just not in his mind.

More to the point, he seems to be making a political calculation. And he’s always been focused on the movable middle, the handful of independent voters who could go either way in the six swing states. And what he seems to be discounting is the progressives. And clearly, the Michigan primary was a bit of a wake-up call, suddenly the large number of “uncommitted” votes in a swing state. And so, we’ve seen him being more attentive. But I think he still calculates that progressives have no place to go. They’re not going to vote for Trump, and abstaining is effectively a vote for Trump, so when push comes to shove in November, they’re going to have to hold their nose and vote for Biden. And that seems to be what is pushing him at this stage.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ken Roth, I want to ask you to stay with us as we continue our discussion about U.S.’s foreign policy, visiting professor at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, served for nearly 30 years as executive director of Human Rights Watch.

When we come back, Rwanda marks 30 years after the 1994 genocide. We’ll speak with a survivor, and we’ll look, with Ken Roth, at how the U.S., France and other nations stood by, refusing to say the word “genocide,” afraid it would trigger, force the use of the Genocide Convention. Stay with us. Back in 20 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: “The Meaning of Death” by the Rwandan gospel singer Kizito Mihigo, a survivor of the 1994 genocide. In 2020, he was found dead in his cell in Rwanda after being arrested days earlier. The song was released a decade ago, banned in Rwanda.

This morning, CNN reports, "An Israeli airstrike on a residential building in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza killed 14 people, most of them women and children, according to a hospital spokesperson." THE NATIONAL adds, "Social media footage showed the bodies of at least five children at a nearby hospital."  That's who Joe's still standing with and still supporting, War Criminal Netanyahu who bombs a refugee camp to kill women and children.  AP notes:

An Israeli air strike hit a home in central Gaza on Tuesday evening, killing at least 11 people, including seven women and children, hospital officials said.

After the strike hit in the town of Zawaida, Associated Press footage showed one man carrying the limp body of a little girl and laying her with the bodies of other dead children on the floor at the main hospital in nearby Deir Al Balah.

Hospital officials said the dead included five children and two women.

When not killing children (over 13,800 so far), Netanyahu is arresting them.  THE NATIONAL reports:

Israeli troops detained three children in Jerusalem, the Wafa news agency reported.

It comes as dozens of people are arrested across the occupied West Bank.

A child was arrested in Jerusalem's Bab Al Amoud Square, with the two others arrested in Silwan, Wafa reported.

One of the children was arrested at his home.

Palestinians were also detained in Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin and Beit Ummar.

Six people were also arrested in Tulkarm.

More than 8,000 Palestinians have been detained across the West Bank since the Gaza war began in October.

Netanyahu's War Crimes are killing Palestinians but the harm goes far beyond Gaza, Netanyahu is destroying the world.  ALJAZEERA notes:

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called Israel’s “disproportionate response” in its war on Gaza a regional and global threat and says the recognition of a Palestinian state is in Europe’s “geopolitical interests”.

“The international community cannot help the Palestinian state if it does not recognise its existence,” he told members of parliament on Wednesday, adding that such a move was “just” and “what’s demanded by the social majority”.

THE WASHINGTON POST notes this morning, "The World Health Organization and U.N. partners supported the Gaza Health Ministry in organizing burials of unidentified bodies found at al-Shifa Hospital, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday. The hospital was the site of a days-long raid by Israeli forces, which left it in ruins."  The bodies?  CNN notes:

Health workers have exhumed at least 381 bodies from mass graves in and around Al-Shifa Hospital, after they said Israeli forces killed hundreds of Palestinians and left their bodies to decompose during their two-week siege of the site. That number does not include people buried within the grounds of the hospital. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said several United Nations agencies are helping to retrieve bodies and provide "dignified burials." 

Motasem Salah, director of the Gaza Emergency Operations Centre, told AFP the scenes on Monday at the sprawling medical centre were “unbearable”.

“The stench of death is everywhere,” he said, as a digger went through the rubble and rescue workers pulled decomposed bodies from the sand and ruins.

Salah said Gaza lacked the forensic experts needed to help identify the dead or determine what had happened to them. So they are relying on “the expertise of the WHO and OCHA (UN humanitarian office) delegation”, he said.

They are trying “to identify the decomposed bodies and the body parts that were crushed” from wallets and documents, Salah told AFP.

Relatives were also there “to ascertain the fate of their sons, whether they have been killed, are missing, or have been displaced to the south,” said Amjad Aliwa, the head of Al-Shifa’s emergency department. He said they wanted to identify “their sons and ensure they receive a proper burial”.

For over six month now, War Criminal Netanyahu has been allowed to target hospitals as he terrorized Palestinians.  "At least 381 bodies."  These are War Crimes.


AMY GOODMAN: Israeli warplanes bombed areas across northern Gaza today while ground troops conducted raids as the assault on the territory entered its seventh month. Forensic experts from Gaza’s Health Ministry are still removing bodies from the yard of Shifa Hospital, once the largest medical facility in Gaza, that was burned down and destroyed by Israeli forces. Health officials say the number of dead following Israel’s raid on Shifa is still not known, but is in the hundreds.

Meanwhile, in the south, Palestinians who tried to return to Khan Younis, Gaza’a second-largest city, following the withdrawal of Israeli troops Sunday, say it is now unlivable. An estimated 55% of the buildings in the Khan Younis area, around 45,000 buildings, have been destroyed or damaged, according to two mapping experts at City University of New York and Oregon State University who have been using satellite imagery to track destruction.

This comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has escalated his pledge to invade Rafah, where more than 1.4 million Palestinians — well over half of Gaza’s population — are sheltering. In a video statement Monday, Netanyahu said, quote, “It will happen. There’s a date,” he said, without elaborating. He spoke as Israeli negotiators were in Cairo discussing international efforts to broker a ceasefire deal with Hamas.

The official death toll has now topped 33,300, including over 14,000 children. That number does not include thousands missing under the rubble and presumed dead. Nearly 76,000 people have been wounded.

Israel has been accused of using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza, where the spread of hunger and malnutrition has been described as unprecedented, with famine setting in.

For more, we’re joined by Arwa Damon. She just returned yesterday from a humanitarian trip to Gaza. She’s an award-winning journalist and the founder of INARA, the International Network for Aid Relief and Assistance, a nonprofit currently providing medical and mental healthcare to children in Gaza. Arwa Damon is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. She previously spent 18 years at CNN, including as a senior international correspondent. Arwa Damon joins us now from Istanbul, Turkey.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Arwa. Can you start off by talking about what you saw in Gaza and what you think needs to be done?

ARWA DAMON: You know, on the one hand, that would seem like a simple question. And yet, on the other hand, it’s so extraordinarily difficult to actually put what I witnessed into words. In fact, Gazans themselves can’t actually grasp the fact that this has become their reality.

In Rafah, in the southern area of Gaza, where you have a crush of about 1.5 million people, it feels as if you’re moving through a sea of misery. There is no empty space left. Tents are spilling out of both U.N. shelters and other makeshift shelters that have emerged. They’re spilling out onto the sidewalks. There’s stalls that have been set up. The movement of people clogs the streets. You have people having to move around on donkey carts because there’s not enough fuel or diesel to power vehicles. And then you just have the sheer need of this entire mass of humanity that is — to a certain degree, feels as if it’s absolutely suffocating, because they need everything. They are reliant on others for just about everything, from food to water to medicine to baby formula to diapers.

We stepped out in this one area called Mawasi, which is sort of a beachy area. It was Gaza’s beachfront. And there, it’s just tent after tent after tent in the sand. There’s no sewage systems, and so sewage is sort of running along these makeshift canals. There’s no proper toilets. There’s no nothing. And all of the mothers there are just shoving these emaciated babies at you, you know, begging for proper formula, begging for proper care. They’re begging for medicine for children who are epileptic. You walk into a tent, and with each step your foot takes, a cloud of mosquitoes and flies just swarms up. I mean, it’s inexplicable.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Arwa, Israel has in recent days said that it’s opening up new entry points into Gaza for aid. Could you talk about the aid that you saw coming in, which still has not reached the level, the number of trucks per day, before the war even started?

ARWA DAMON: Right, and there’s a number of things that I think everyone would be best served to understand about aid and distribution. So, yes, if more aid is able to get in, absolutely that is going to help. However, when it comes to getting aid to those who need it, it is beyond just opening up additional crossings. The aid trucks that come into Gaza all get searched by Israel, and that is a process that can take around two to three weeks to begin with. You do see aid being distributed. The problem is that the quantity of the aid is insufficient.

Additionally, it’s important to note that once the aid gets inside Gaza, getting it distributed within this, you know, tiny little space, yet at the same time extraordinarily difficult to navigate area, poses great and additional challenges. There’s a process that’s called deconfliction — this exists in all war zones — whereby which aid organizations wanting to reach a certain area will notify warring parties about their intent and will secure permissions to be able to safely move to that area. This is a process that has not and does not work inside Gaza. And the tragic, horrific strike that we saw on the World Central Kitchen convoy is clear evidence of that. And that really sent huge shockwaves within the humanitarian community, because the World Central Kitchen has some of the best deconfliction mechanisms, has some of the best lines of communication to the Israeli side.

And so, you have these additional layers upon layers of challenges. Add to all of it, the lack of aid has created a very understandable level of panic among the population. What that means is that whenever aid arrives to a certain area, there is chaos and there is panic. And this is why you keep hearing people speaking about the need to flood the zone. The zone needs to be flooded not only with aid, so that people can stop panicking and have a certain measure of confidence that they will be getting a stable supply to food, water and other basic necessities, but also the zone needs to be flooded with humanitarian workers, people who know how to address this level of a humanitarian crisis.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And could you talk, as well, about the impact of this war, the mental health impact, especially on the children of Gaza, that you have spoken so eloquently about in recent days?

ARWA DAMON: I’ll give you one example. A mother came up to me, and she was — she had heard about the fact that, you know, we do work with mental health, specifically with children. It’s also important to note that, you know, when an area, a population is still in crisis, is still in an emergency, all you can really provide is basic mental health, especially for children. And what does that actually look like? It really just looks like a distraction, so creating activities and ways for them to express themselves that can sort of help them distract themselves from all of the horror and the nightmare that they’re going through. But this mother comes up to me, and she says, “I don’t know what to do with my 7-year-old right now, because every single night he screams at the top of his lungs, and he goes into what look like convulsion and seizures.” And he started doing this after he saw his sister’s head blown off during a strike that hit their home, that also wounded other siblings.

You know, you walk around Gaza — and I’m talking specifically about the children right now, but you see this also very deeply in the adults. And you know that sparkle that’s normally supposed to exist in a child’s eye? It’s not there anymore. That’s not to say it can’t come back and it can’t be brought back with these activities. You know, there are these beautiful, heartwarming moments where you are able to create a scenario for a child to be able to laugh and smile, albeit briefly.

But you really feel as if you are walking through a population that is — they’re ghosts. And they describe themselves as ghosts. They’re ghosts of their past. They’re the ghosts of who they used to be. And they’re constantly haunted by the ghosts of everything that they have lost. And the trauma doesn’t end. It comes at them from multiple different directions every single day. The mental health impact of this is unlike anything that I personally have ever seen 20 years working in war zones, just the immediacy of the need, the speed with which this all happened. And even people in Gaza, when you talk to them right now, you know, despite having lived through this for six, seven months, they still tell you that they feel as if this can’t be real. Right? Like, this can’t have happened. This has to be a nightmare from which one day they’re going to wake up.

AMY GOODMAN: Arwa, you have said — you’ve pointed out that what’s happening in Gaza right now is absolutely egregious, that the Western world, the ones providing the weapons, cannot pressure Israel into allowing more aid and medical staff. Can you talk more about that? I mean, this isn’t, you know, a natural disaster, where an earthquake happened and people can’t get to the people. Explain exactly Israel’s role in preventing this aid from getting to those in need.

ARWA DAMON: So, nothing goes in and out of Gaza without Israel’s approval. Nothing. That includes aid, and that includes people. There’s a whole process for that. And this is a process that actually existed before October 7th. It is, since October 7th, extraordinarily and excruciatingly long. In addition to that, since 2008, there has been a list of items that are banned entry to Gaza. This list also exists to the West Bank. Now, since October 7th, there have been additional items, that are not part of this list, that have been rejected. There is no formality to this rejection. We in the humanitarian space end up finding out about items being repeatedly rejected, and, as such, there’s no point of trying to send them in, because of repeat rejections. These items range from things like solar panels to wheelchairs to certain kinds of medicine to sleeping bags in some cases — anything that the Israelis say can be deemed to be dual-use. But the problem is that it feels very illogical, and, again, there’s no formality to it, so you don’t know if an item is going to get rejected until you actually try to send it in. Some organizations have even had children’s toys be rejected. You know, you try to put together these hygiene kits for families, and the nail clippers in them get rejected, and, as such, the entire truck gets completely turned around. And so, it’s extraordinarily difficult to try to navigate that kind of a situation. And, obviously, this creates an even greater and more desperate need inside Gaza itself.

Now, what is very difficult to comprehend, as you were saying there, is the fact that Israel is an ally to the United States and other very powerful Western nations. Is this the first time that we’ve seen an area under siege? Absolutely not. Look, I covered Syria very extensively. The regime of Bashar al-Assad, a dictatorship, along with their Russian allies, did, yes, put entire neighborhoods and areas in Syria under siege. But there we were talking about a dictatorship with Russia as its ally. We saw ISIS besiege entire areas in both Syria and Iraq. But we’re talking about ISIS. We’re not talking about a democratically elected nation-state that is an ally of the United States. And that is what makes it so difficult for anyone inside Gaza to comprehend how it is that the United States is allowing Israel to continue to besiege the Strip in such a way. And remember, it was on day one that Israel cut off electricity, water and basically vowed to cut off any form of assistance. They cannot comprehend this. They cannot comprehend how it is that this is being allowed to happen to them — on top of that, happening to them, and the United States is still continuing to fund the war effort.

AMY GOODMAN: Arwa Damon, I want to ask you about the journalists killed, estimates between 90 and 130, 140 journalists killed by Israel in Gaza alone. You were an award-winning journalist for CNN for 18 years, covered the U.S. attack on Iraq. I wish we saw your reporting more. You mainly did it for CNN International, which would show the picture of the statue of Saddam Hussein coming down in a split screen with the casualties of war, whereas CNN domestic would just show the statue of Saddam Hussein coming down hundreds of times. But your reporting was extremely important. I want to talk about seeing the images of casualties on the ground in Gaza. Right now Israel doesn’t allow international journalists in, and domestic journalists in Gaza, so many of them, have been killed. Can you talk about the significance of this? Because that leads to people around the world caring, to put more pressure.

ARWA DAMON: You know, this is the first time, I would argue, that Gazans have control over the way that their story is being told. And that has made, to a certain degree, the understanding that the Western world has about what’s actually happening in Gaza and the toll of all of it shift slightly, because the Western media does not control Gaza’s story anymore. Gazans do.

I have to say, I mean, I have so much respect and admiration for all of Gaza’s journalists, because, you know, when we go into a war zone, wherever it is, as journalists, there comes a point when we get to rotate out. Right? You can tap out. You can say, like, “I need a break. Send in the next crew.” They have not been able to tap out for six months. And they’re not reporting on something that is happening to a different population. They’re reporting on their own people, what’s happening to their own families and to their own loved ones.

This ongoing effort, however, it would most certainly seem, to try to silence Gaza’s journalists is extraordinarily disturbing. But it is, sadly, part of this whole overarching desire to control the narrative. And right now, though, it’s not working, because Gaza’s journalists and Gazans, they’re not going to stop. And they deserve to be commended for that and for the awareness that they’re actually raising about what is happening to them.

And it’s very, very disturbing, but to a certain degree makes sense from a PR perspective, that Israel is not allowing Western journalists in, because if the scenes that Gazans are witnessing every single day were part of the regular broadcasts that are happening, there would be a much bigger and stronger outcry than what — than anything that we’re seeing right now.

I mean, you know, I went into the European Hospital, which is basically southern Gaza’s currently largest and only really remaining, you know, significantly functioning hospital. You walk into the hospital courtyard, the outdoor pathways, and it’s streams of tents, and there’s sewage lines running next to the tents. And this is inside a hospital. And people have crammed themselves into the hospital corridors themselves. You have bed after a bed of injured and the injured children with amputations, with horrific burns. I walked into the ICU, and there, there was a 10-year-old boy, and the ICU nurse said he’s a gunshot victim. He took a gunshot bullet straight to the head. It’s just — 

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Arwa, I wanted to ask you —

ARWA DAMON: I mean —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We only have about a minute for this segment, but I wanted to ask you — we’ve mentioned that you were a CNN reporter for 18 years, covered many conflict zones. How do you look at the coverage of CNN since October 7th and the degree to which not only CNN but most Western media outlets are always deferring to Israel to make sure that Israel gets a chance to comment on every single story that they write or that they produce?

ARWA DAMON: You know, October 7th happened, and then the coverage began, and I immediately was catapulted back to the post-9/11 era. And I was in New York when 9/11 happened. And I just — my hair stood on end, because it was the same level of, you know, dehumanization that we saw back then. It was the same sort of panicked, kind of one-sided, to certain degree, reporting that we saw back then. And it was extremely upsetting, because one would hope that, you know, we, the journalism world, the Western journalism space, would have learned the lessons of post-9/11 and that we wouldn’t sort of default into this whole dehumanization of the other.

And I think it’s really important that all journalists are cognizant and should know — you know, we go all over the world. You know, there’s a basic fact that we should all know, and that is that people, we’re the same. We love the same. We laugh the same. We live the same. We feel pain in the same way. And yet there was this default back into this dehumanizing rhetoric, this sort of “us against them” issue. And it was absolutely devastating and gutting and heartbreaking to witness and see that we defaulted back into sort of that same rhetoric and that same dehumanization of a population, that perhaps, you know, for very superficial reasons, we don’t perceive as being like us, and this desire to sort of inflict collective punishment on an entire people.

AMY GOODMAN: Arwa Damon, I want to thank you for being with us, just returned from a humanitarian trip to Gaza, award-winning journalist with CNN but now founder of INARA, a nonprofit currently providing medical and mental healthcare to children, also nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, spent 18 years at CNN as a senior international correspondent.

Gaza remains under assault. Day 187 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."  Yesterday, ALJAZEERA noted, "153 killed, 60 injured in Gaza in last 24 hours: Health Ministry.  The casualties bring the total number of people killed in Gaza since October 7 to 33,360, with 75,993 wounded, according to the ministry."  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 following sites updated: