Friday, January 26, 2024

Britney hits with "Selfish"


Britney Spears has a new hit. "Selfish" from her 2011 album FEMME FATALE.  Lester Fabian Brathwaite (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY) reports:

Justin Timberlake paused his long-running apology tour to release what for all intents and purposes is his comeback single, "Selfish."

But in an act of pure pop pettiness, fans of ex-girlfriend/superior pop star Britney Spears have decided to drive her 13-year-old song of the same name up the charts.

The push apparently stemmed from a tweet by the Britney stan account on X (formerly Twitter), touting the "release" of "Selfish," a track from the deluxe version of Spears' 2011 album Femme Fatale.

The song entered the top 40 of the U.S. iTunes chart earlier today and as of this writing is threatening the top 10.

I don't see it as petty as all and I logged into iTunes today -- which I haven't done since Stevie Nicks' live album came out in the late '00s (2009's THE SOUNDSTAGE SESSIONS) -- and purchased Britney's "Selfish."  I'll show my support.  He wronged her, he wronged Janet, he wronged Kylie.  I do not like the little boy -- see my 2006 review "Mommy May I Pet With Danger?:"
On the cover of FutureSex /LoveSounds Little Justy Timberlake looks like a young Brian Austin Green having a snit fit -- as though Mommy told him he couldn't sleep with danger and he responded, "Mommy, May I Pet With Danger?"

Yes, folks, that's how weak it is. It's not even fit to be the soundtrack to the infamous Tori Spelling/Ivan Sergei woman-in-jeporady Lifetime "thriller."

You'll note it's called "FutureSex" and, if and when he finally gets some, he might have something to share on the topic. "SexyBack" is not worth sharing -- except for a laugh. With a vocal that sounds like Grace Jones far too tired to pull up to the bumper and music that sounds like "What Is Love?" coming out of a fuzz box, "SexyBack" is sure to entice the virgins to the dance floor as the latest Peter Pan of the music world promises you can whip him if he's naughty -- which, judging by the lyrical content, largely means pull him over your knee when he picks his nose in public or uses a swear word that you just know he doesn't even grasp.

This is the dance music that gave disco it's bad name. Sexless, mechanical and, worst of all, limp, Justy as wanna be savior of sex can look forward to the crucifiction but for all the wrong reasons. As one song after another has you visualizing the rhythmic-impaired duo of Steve and Doug Butabi, you grasp that even if his "trouser snake" functions, he has no idea what to do with it. ("Trouser snake" is the name he gave it repeatedly, in the press, during the last marketing blitz while trying to pin the nickname off on "girls" -- most "girls" don't use terms like "trouser snake" but it may be popular with some gay males.) So it's probably just as well that he spends a lot of time "hoping" as opposed to doing.
I do not like that fake little boy.
I do not like how he has treated women.  That goes for his wife who he cheats on.  She may put up with it because she has no self-respect but that doesn't mean I have to say, "Way to go, Justy!"

NBC NEWS notes, "Timberlake, who is releasing a new album in March, debuted the single on Thursday. By Friday, Spears’ hit from 13 years ago was ranked at No. 2, with Timberlake’s song at No. 3 on iTunes."

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


Friday, January 26, 2024.  The International Court of Justice rejects the government of Israel's call to toss out the genocide case, the number of children killed in Gaza continues to increase, there's a small chance (I'm not getting my hopes up yet) that US forces might finally be able to leave Iraq, Naomi Wolf gets even crazier and is now disconnected from even basic English, and much more.

Mike Corder (AP) reports, "The United Nations’ top court is set to rule Friday on a call for Israel to halt its military offensive in Gaza, when it issues a preliminary decision in a case accusing Israel of committing genocide in the tiny coastal enclave."  Haroon Siddique (GUARDIAN) explains, "At a two-day hearing this month, South Africa asked the court to issue provisional measures requiring Israel to immediately end its military campaign in Gaza, which began after the 7 October attacks by Hamas."

Judge Joan Donoghue read the Court's opinion about 30 minutes -- THE INDEPENDENT live streamed it.  Don't see that on YOUTUBE yet; however, THE WASHINGTON POST has posted it.

About 18:43 into the video above, the judge begins detailing the ruling.

Anna Holligan (BBC NEWS) explains:


There was a lot of detail there. Here are the provisional measures the court has made:

  • 1. Israel must take all measures to prevent any acts that could be considered genocidal - killing members of a group, causing bodily harm, inflicting conditions designed to bring about the destruction of a group, preventing births
  • 2 Israel must ensure its military does not commit any genocidal acts
  • 3 Israel must prevent and punish any public comments that could be considered incitement to commit genocide in Gaza
  • 4 Israel must take measures to ensure humanitarian access
  • 5 Israel must prevent any destruction of evidence that could be used in a genocide case
  • 6 Israel must submit a report to the court within one moth of this order being given

The court also expressed grave concern about the fate of hostages being held by Hamas and called for their immediate release. 

It's a win for justice, it's a win for Palestinians.  The Israeli government gathered a bunch of elderly idiots who tried to quash the case via procedural points.  They lost on those procedural points.  The case is going forward.  And the world knows it.

Let's note this from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Gaza, where the death toll continues to climb and Israel’s relentless assault continues. At least 20 Palestinians were killed today and 150 injured as they were lining up for humanitarian aid in Gaza City, this according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, with the number of casualties expected to rise.

The attack comes one day after a crowded U.N. shelter housing tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians in Khan Younis was struck on Wednesday, setting the building on fire. At least 12 people were killed, over 75 wounded, when two tank shells hit the site, according to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA. The Israeli military, the only actor on the ground that has tanks, denied it carried out the strike.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army has surrounded and isolated the two main hospitals in Khan Younis, Nasser and al-Amal, stranding hundreds of patients and thousands of displaced people inside, that again according to UNRWA. A third hospital was evacuated overnight.

In recent days, thousands more Palestinians have rushed to escape further south, crowding into shelters and tent camps near the border with Egypt. Over 1.7 million people have been displaced in Gaza, and more than 25,000 have been killed in Israel’s assault over the past three months.

We go now to Rafah, where we’re joined by Akram al-Satarri, a journalist who’s been covering developments on the ground. He’s joining us from just outside the Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza.

Akram, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you describe what’s happening in Rafah and the reports of what’s happening in Khan Younis?

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Well, the situation in Khan Younis is aggravating in such a very serious way. The bombardment and the targeting around the hospitals that you have just mentioned — al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, in the Khan Younis al-Amal neighborhood; Al-Khair Hospital, that was stormed by the Israeli occupation forces, and people there who are staff were interrogated, and people who are internally displaced people were arrested. Nasser Hospital has been the subject to some massive attacks, and some of those attacks targeted also UNRWA-designated shelters that are located in the immediate vicinity of the Nasser Hospital. The clinic, the UNRWA clinic that is in the heart of Khan Younis refugee camp, was — the area of its vicinity was also targeted.

People were asked to leave their homes. And some of the people who were leaving their homes were reporting about a journey of horror, devastation and imminent death that they have been seeing. They have been reporting about them seeing the people who are dead on the ground, without anyone daring to reach them or to collect their bodies or to try to extend a helping hand for the people who are screaming for help because of their lethal and bloody injuries.

The KYTC, that is run by the UNRWA, and that is also recognized by Israel as a designated shelter and protected shelter, was targeted once again. And now people who are staying in there, who are in thousands, are asked by the Israeli occupation to move from that area towards Rafah area in the very south, which means that there is more targeting underway, which means that they would be afraid and the ones who were killed and injured who were taken to Rafah rather than to Khan Younis because of the fact that the Israeli occupation closed the way between Khan Younis coastal area and Khan Younis refugee camp and Khan Younis downtown. So the situation is aggravating in that way. Hundreds of people are injured. Tens of people are killed.

Also, not far away from Khan Younis, in Gaza City, the people who were waiting in al-Kuwait roundabout were targeted. They were waiting for the humanitarian assistance because the situation in Gaza City and the north is extremely dire. People are already suffering from famine, very lacking situation when it comes to the food supplies and drinkable water. They’re waiting there. Twenty — as you said, 20 were killed, 150 others were injured. The new about this report is that among those 150, there is a very large number of people who are sustaining very critical, life-threatening injuries and who might be reported as killed, which means the number of victims of this bloody attack is expected to rise significantly in the coming hours.

So, the situation continues to feature large-scale bombardment in Khan Younis, displacement of people, destroying of whole blocks and houses, people moving, and they end up targeted when they are moving. Designated shelters that are supposed to be protected, now the people in them are asked to be IDPs once again, given that the IDPs in that area are coming mainly from the north, people who moved from the north to Gaza City, then moved from Gaza City to Gaza central area, then moved from Gaza central area to Khan Younis area. And then, from Khan Younis, they moved to the KYTC, and they are now asked for the fifth or sixth time to leave the area that they were seeking safety in, and to move in a very unsafe path towards the unknown in southern Gaza, in Rafah, which the targeting is still continuous. Number of people who are killed in Rafah is still increasing. And the Gazans, at large, are not aware what the future holds of them, with the number of IDPs reaching 1.9 million Gazans in all different areas, including the coastal area in Khan Younis and the already heavy-populated area in Rafah.

AMY GOODMAN: ”IDP” is, of course, internally displaced people. Akram, if you can describe the telecommunications blackout and the effect it has on people trying to communicate with each other, find each other, get to hospitals, reporting of injuries? And also, I don’t take for granted that we’re able even to speak to you today in Rafah, in Gaza. And if you can talk about how you both report and take care of your own family?

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Well, if I may speak from a very personal perspective, I personally was under that imminent threat of death in Khan Younis. I lost communication with my family, with my sister, with my nephews and nieces who lost their father. I lost contact with my son. I was wondering how can I possibly survive under the imminent threat of fire.

And when I say an imminent threat of fire and death, I mean that seven people were targeted at the door of our home, the home that was hosting us. And the seven people, no one ambulance could reach them. We were trying to call 111, which is the ambulance services — sorry, 101, which is the ambulance services. We could not get through to them.

The communication blackout looks — it looks like it was intentional for the sake of cutting all communication and cutting the coverage and trying to keep Gaza isolated from the world and keep Gaza voiceless at the time that the Israeli occupation was developing the ground operation and was targeting the different areas in Khan Younis and throughout the Gaza Strip. I lost communication, and I was — and am still — facing significant challenges reporting, moving. And you never know. When you are just driving a car or just driving a taxi, or just even riding an animal-pulled cart, you don’t know whether they are going to target someone who’s walking down the street, someone who’s next to you on that animal-pulled cart, or maybe they would target you. So, it’s very difficult to understand in Gaza what’s coming next. It’s very difficult to predict who they are going to target. It’s very difficult to predict why they are targeting people.

But the bottom line, and the conclusion that we see with our own eyes, that the targeting is thorough, the destruction is larger than ever, and the suffering of the people because of that ongoing policy is unconceivable, unconceivable in the sense that I personally had to move and see the people who are dead and to try to move, and while five or six other houses around me were targeted, while I could see the artillery fire taking out whole house when I was moving in the Khan Younis area and was staying in the area that I was waiting for the situation to be a little bit safer to move, but it turned out the situation was getting from bad to worse, and the targeting was getting heavier. I was staying in the area that is called 111 area, which is a block that was designated by Israel as a safe area. And across from our area was 112 block. But the bombardment was in 111, 112, 107, 48, 86. All the blocks were targeted all at once. And that ground operation seemed to be indiscriminately sending death and destruction all over the area.

So, with that comes, as you have just said, the struggle to survive, to struggle to stay sane under this ever-escalating situation and to look for one minute of peace. I was personally thinking just yesterday that we are wanting some one second of rest and peace, even if that means we would die, even if that means they would take us, even if that means they take our life for the sake of just keeping us peaceful.

So, this is how it unfolded in Gaza, and this is how it continues to unfold. People are dying. People are scared. People are displaced. And they think they are even uprooted intentionally and there is an eradication attempt that is taking place in Gaza. The Israeli occupation has been targeting every single corner in Khan Younis. Khan Younis refugee camp, that is extremely populated and overcrowded, was targeted. When you target one house in one specific area, that means you are likely to affect around 20 to 30 houses, because the areas are very narrow, and the space, that is limited for every house. And targeting one place, explosion in one place means that this explosion, the implication of that explosion, would reach — or, the secondary wave of the explosion would reach around 20 to 30 houses.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you know the reporters that were killed most recently? I mean, the numbers are just astonishing. The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders are all decrying the number, ranging between 80 and 120. But the latest killing of journalists, for example, Wael al-Dahdouh’s son, Hamza al-Dahdouh — did you know Mustafa Thuraya? Did you — I know that Wael has just gotten out of Gaza. He’s head of the —

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: I think we lost the connection.

AMY GOODMAN: — Al Jazeera — and he has now been operated on in Qatar. He’s now at Al Jazeera headquarters. His cameraman, Samer Abudaqa, who died in the attack. These reporters, were they friends of yours?

I think we have just lost Akram. Absolutely amazing that we were able to maintain that length of time in speaking to him in Gaza. He was speaking to us from Rafah. Akram al-Satarri is a Gaza-based journalist, joining us from southern Gaza.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Palestinian tax revenue, Israel is refusing to release it but has made an agreement with Norway to hold it in escrow. What’s happening to Palestinians’ money? We’ll speak with a leading economist in Ramallah. Stay with us.

Gaza remains under assault. In fact, it's day 112 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.  Friday, United Nations Women noted, "Since 7 October 2023, more than 24,620 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, 70 per cent of whom were women or children. 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 HINDUSTAN TIMES notes, "At least 26,083 Palestinians have been killed and 64,487 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct.7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Friday."  AP has noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."   

The ongoing violence continues to claim lives and a large number of those lives have been Palestinian children.   Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

Al Jazeera on Thursday published the latest update to its "Know Their Names" project, identifying some of the thousands of children killed so far in what people around the world are increasingly calling Israel's genocidal war on the Gaza Strip.

Produced by Mohammed Haddad and Mohammed Hussein, the project now lists 4,216 Palestinians, from infants to 17-year-olds. Of those named, 75% hadn't even lived to their teens, more than half were under age 10, and nearly 500 were younger than 2.

The children are sorted by age, with notes about each group: 17-year-olds "lived through four wars (2008-09, 2012, 2014, 2021)" only to be killed in the fifth and 10-year-olds had their "lives ended before adolescence," while 4-year-olds were "deprived of the joys of preschool" and at least 258 babies "didn't reach their first birthday."

Al Jazeera noted that "the Gaza Strip is a graveyard for thousands of children, the United Nations has said. Since October 7, Israeli attacks have killed at least 10,000 children, according to Palestinian officials. That is one Palestinian child killed every 15 minutes, or about one out of every 100 children in the Gaza Strip."

Officials in Gaza said later Thursday that at least 25,900 people—including 11,500 children—have been killed and another 64,110 injured in Israel's bombardment and blockade, launched in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack. Israeli forces have devastated civilian infrastructure and displaced most of the enclave's 2.3 million residents.

Accounting for the thousands of people missing and presumed dead under the rubble in Gaza, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor puts the child death toll at 13,022.

Among the dead is 12-year-old Dunia Abu Mohsen, who previously lost a leg in an Israeli airstrike. Before she was killed last month by an Israeli tank-fired shell that hit al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, she said in a video interview that "I want someone to take me abroad, to any country, to install a prosthetic leg, to be able to walk like other people."

"I want to become a doctor, like those who treat us, so that I can treat other children," she said in the recording shared by Defense for Children International - Palestine. "I only want one thing: for the war to end."

An 11-year-old girl in Rafah told the humanitarian group Save the Children earlier this month that "the war has affected us so badly. We had to leave our homes and couldn't do anything. We learned many things during the war, like how important it is to save water. I hope the war ends, and we live in peace and safety."

+ Biden bombed four different countries…this week: Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia. He admitted the bombing doesn’t seem to have much, if any, effect, but vowed to keep doing it anyway. It’s a helluva way to run for president.
[. . .]

+ Americans on whether Israel’s devastation of Gaza constitutes genocide:

Agree: 35%
Disagree: 36%
Undecided: 29%

Among 2020 Biden voters:

Agree: 50%
Disagree: 20%
Undecided: 30%


+ So half of Biden Democrats (and half of all young Americans) believe Israel is committing genocide, the Economist poll shows. These poll numbers won’t suddenly begin climbing upward for Biden, even if they start killing a bunch of Somali, Houthi, Syrian and Iraqi kids to show Americans it’s not just Palestinian kids he despises, which seems to be his plan….

The U.S. and Iraq will begin formal talks in coming days that officials say could lead to the eventual withdrawal of American troops in the country, a major milestone in the years-long effort by the two countries to fight the Islamic State.

The decision to move forward with the discussions, known as the Higher Military Commission, comes just days after Iranian-backed forces in Iraq launched a barrage of missiles on a U.S. base, injuring at least four service members and one Iraqi.

In Iraq, the U.S. hit three sites connected to a militia with ties to Iran. Iraq’s national security adviser, Qassem al-Araji, condemned the attack, saying, “The U.S. should pile on pressure for a halt to the Israeli offensive in Gaza rather than targeting and bombing the bases of an Iraqi national body.”

If you're not getting it, it may not be your fault.  The US media keeps drawing a line that does not exist.  When Qassm al-Araji states that the US is "boming the bases of an Iraqi national body," he's correct.  It's the media that keeps lying.  The militias were made a part of the Iraqi military -- legally.  That took place seven years ago.  From the US Library of Congress:

(Dec. 7, 2016) On November 26, 2016, the Iraqi Parliament institutionalized the people’s fighting forces known as Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, or the Popular Mobilization (PM), by passing a special law on the matter. (Law of the Popular Mobilization Authority (2016 Law), Iraqi Parliament website (Nov. 26, 2016) (in Arabic).)

Under the new law, the PM is an independent organization with corporate personality, is a part of the Iraqi armed forces, and reports directly to the general commander of the armed forces. (Id. art 1.1.)  The PM is subject to all military laws in effect except those related to age and education requirements.  (Id. art 1.2.1.)  Members of the PM must be disengaged from all political, partisan, and social organizations, and no political activity by those members is permitted.  (Id. art 1.2.5.)  The commander of the PM will be appointed with the approval of the Parliament.  (Id. art 2.)

The 2016 law replaces an executive order on the PM issued earlier this year by the Prime Minister, Haider al-Ibadi, in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. (Order No. 91 (Feb. 2, 2016), IKH NEWS (July 26, 2016) (in Arabic).)

Attacking the militias is attacking the Iraqi military.  The media in the US continues to try to draw a line between the two -- militias and military -- that no longer exists in Iraq and hasn't for seven years now. 

The US Defense Dept issued this transcript of a background briefing that took place yesterday:

MODERATOR:  Today's briefing is on background, which means that you may refer to and attribute comments from our briefers as a Senior Defense Official, Senior State Official, and Senior Military Official, respectively.  This briefing will run for approximately 30 minutes.  We'll start with opening statements and then turn to questions.  We do ask that you keep to one question out of professional respect for others' desires to ask questions.  And again, this is an on-background briefing.

And with that, we'll start with our Senior Defense Official.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  Good morning or good afternoon, everybody.  Thanks for joining us.

During the August 2023 U.S.-Iraq Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue, the JSCD, between the Department of Defense and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, the United States committed to launch the Higher Military Commission, the HMC, with our Iraqi partners on a mutually determined date.  Today is the date that the Secretary of Defense and his Iraqi counterpart have announced the launch of the HMC.

Before I get into the details on the HMC, I want to reflect on how we've arrived at this point in the campaign to defeat ISIS.  Nearly 10 years ago, the United States began working with allies and partners to confront the urgent threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

At its height, ISIS controlled more than 100,000 square kilometers of territory containing more than 11 million people.  ISIS attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters from multiple nations to Iraq and Syria.  It used its territory as a safe haven to plot and stage attacks across the region and the globe.

ISIS committed numerous atrocities and abuses, including those involving persecution of individuals and entire communities on the basis of their identity, kidnapping of civilians, forced displacement, killing and maiming of children, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.

Faced with this threat to our mutual security and shared values, together, the United States, with its allies and partners, formed Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, CJTF-OIR, and over the past decade, CJTF-OIR has removed ISIS from the territory it once controlled.

The partnership between CJTF and OIR and the government of Iraq has been a decisive factor in the defeat of ISIS, and the Iraqi Security Forces, the ISF, have been in the lead during the last several years of the campaign to defeat ISIS with CJTF-OIR in support to advise, assist, and enable our partner forces.  The ISF have made tremendous progress through cooperation with CJTF-OIR.

10 years after the Iraqi government invited the United States and the rest of the coalition to fight ISIS and seven years after our collective territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq, we see a need to transition to a normal bilateral security cooperation relationship.

And so that's the background for the announcement today of the launch of the HMC.  As I said, the HMC is not new.  It's a due out of the inaugural JSCD, which built upon previous strategic bilateral discussions on our mutual commitment to security cooperation and shared interests in regional stability.

These discussions include the July 2021 U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue, the July 2021 U.S.-Iraq Military Technical Talks, the February 2023 U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee, and as I mentioned, the August 2023 U.S.-Iraq Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue.

The HMC process aims to determine how the coalition's military mission will evolve on a timeline according to the following factors — the threat from ISIS, operational and environmental requirements, and capability levels of the Iraqi Security Forces.

The HMC will consist of expert working groups focused on the three mutually determined factors I mentioned and will be led by military and defense professionals who will guide the discussion about the natural and necessary evolution of the D-ISIS Coalition mission while ensuring that ISIS can never resurge.  The HMC will be led by U.S. and Iraqi delegations, in close consultation with coalition partners every step of the way.

Let me be clear — the HMC meeting is not a negotiation about the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.  The United States and the coalition are in Iraq at the invitation the Iraqi government to fight ISIS.  Our Iraqi partners have assured us of their commitment toward working together to shape this future U.S. military presence and ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.

Both nations remain committed to security cooperation and our shared interest in regional stability.  The United States and Iraq will continue to work together to shape future U.S. military presence and ensure an Iraqi-led enduring defeat of ISIS.

So I'll — with that, I'll stop there and turn it over to my colleagues.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We'll now hear from our Senior State Official.

SENIOR STATE OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  The HMC is another facet in the development of the broader U.S. and Iraq relationship.  As my colleague in OSD mentioned, it's an outcome of the inaugural JSCD last August, which came after a host of other discussions, including the various dialogues that he mentioned.

All of those dialogues, they build upon previous bilateral discussions and fall within the spirit of our 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq.  These discussions focused not only on our security elements, but on issues that extend well beyond the security partnership with Iraq.  They have helped us advance our full 360-degree partnership with Iraq across a range of issues, including energy, finance, climate, water and trade, among many others.  So the HMC builds on this effort with the shared goal of transitioning to an enduring bilateral security partnership between Iraq and the United States.  Over.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And then lastly, we'll hear from our senior military official.


SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL:  Hello, team.  This is your senior military official from Baghdad, Iraq.  And just to amplify a little bit about what we're about and our purpose, I command the 24 nations and their contributions to this Coalition Joint Task Force and the mission of Operation Inherent Resolve.  There are, as a reminder, over 80 nations involved in the global coalition to defeat ISIS, and we are in constant communication with their supporting efforts, as well.

A reminder that we are here at the invitation of the government of Iraq and remain steadfast partners in that effort.

We really focus on just two things as part of my mission: it's the enduring defeat of Daesh, or ISIS, and it's the advise-assistant-enable missions that we have with our partner forces, primarily the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Security Forces, and some of those Special Operations units that they both have.

Now, we look at the enduring defeat of Daesh and the three components as a reminder: the Daesh at large in Iraq and Syria, the Daesh in detention, of which there's less than 10,000 in detention facilities in Syria, and then there's the displaced persons at camps such as al-Roj and al-Hol that have about 2,000 and about 44,000 displaced persons at this time.

The at-large Daesh is where we partner with our forces to either capture or kill the Daesh before they can cause or create other operations against our forces or against the civilian population.

In detention and with displaced persons, our mission function is in the repatriation process of them back to their host countries for either justice and rule of law for detainees or reintegration/rehabilitation for those who are displaced persons, and that's important.  If there were to be a prison breakout, Daesh could become operational overnight with 2,000 prisoners being — could escape and become part of an operational force, and that is Daesh's operational goal right now.

In the displaced persons camps, that's a recruitment potential with the children and the brides of ISIS fighters who are in detention or who were killed.  And so our goal is to get them back home to reintegrate and rehabilitate to society and give those children a chance.

At A2E, we partner with the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Security Forces with non-lethal support.  A reminder that my mission is not a combat mission.  We have force protection capabilities and have had to use those, as you are aware, since the attacks began upon our formations October 18th to this day by some of the, what I would term, outlaw militias here in Iraq.

The HMC is a process that we are beginning very soon, and as discussed, it was defined and outlined in the outline minutes of the JSCD in August, and there are functional working groups that we've created, along with our Iraqi partners, mil-to-mil to make sure we discuss along those factors the state of the Iraqi Security Forces, the state of Daesh and the state of the operational environment.  Again, not a timeline-driven event; factors-based, and so we will govern that process with our dialogue together.

And pending your questions, that's our opening statement from Baghdad.  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, and with that, we'll start with Associated Press, Tara Copp.

Q:  Hi.  Thank you, everyone, for doing this.  I wanted to ask about a timetable, because the Iraqi Foreign Ministry put out a statement shortly after the secretary did saying that this — these discussions will formulate, quote, "a specific and clear timetable about the reduction of advisers in Iraq."  So if we could just talk about, what does that mean for the U.S. troops?  Would there be a reduction from the 2,500?  And — or is there some sort of disconnect between what the U.S. is seeing will happen here and what Iraq will see?  And then secondly, what about, for the coalition — for coalition members, is this U.S. only, or will this also mean an eventual reduction of all coalition members?  Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  This is the senior defense official.  We're just not able at this time to provide any kind of specific timelines for HMC process itself, or for a date of the eventual transition of CJTF-OIR.  All of that is pending discussions between the HMC expert working groups during the initial stage of the process.  Any discussion of mission transition in Iraq will be factors-based, as my colleague has stated.

We're committed, along with our Iraqi partners and our coalition partners, to carefully revisit the question of timing and to ensuring that the HMC is comprehensive, efficient and a professional process.  But at this time, that's the most we can say about it.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Next, we'll go to Jared Zuba with Al Monitor.

Q:  Hi, all.  Thank you for doing this.  You mentioned that the U.S. troop presence in Iraq is at the invitation of the Iraqi government.  Going forward, if the Iraqi government requests that the U.S.-led coalition depart the country, you know, on a certain timeline, assuming that the U.S. will comply, how do you intend to support continued presence and operations of Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria?  And do you see a sustained CJTF-OIR presence in Syria after a potential withdrawal from Iraq, or at least, from parts of Iraq?  Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  I'll start.  This is senior defense official, and perhaps, our senior military official will chime in.

There are a lot of hypotheticals built into your question which we just really aren't going to be able to address.  As I said, the discussion about any eventual transition of OIR will be undertaken within the HMC process, but there's no way for us to forecast exactly where that leads or on what timetable that leads, and therefore, how it affects other aspects of Operation Inherent Resolve are kind of derivative hypotheticals of the first, so I don't think I'm going to address it any further.

SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL:  And this is the senior military official in Baghdad.  What I can amplify to it is as agreed to, the process is driven to an outcome for an eventual bilateral relationship for — you asked about the coalition contributions — those member nations in a bilateral relationship with the government of Iraq, and same with the United States government and the United States military, as we do with other countries in the region and around the globe.  That third-factor working group is kind of the catch-all, if you will, that would encompass potential transition formations and what the government of Iraq would like in that relationship going forward.

And that's a matter of policy, and that is not something we've been determined or has been directed, but it's part of the discussions we'll have as part of the HMC process.  Over?

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We'll go to Wall Street Journal's Michael Gordon.

Q:  Thank you.  You've mentioned that the goal is to transition eventually, at some point, to a bilateral relationship.  My question is, could this bilateral relationship, whenever it occurs, include the presence of US military advisers to assist the Iraqi security forces?

And also, administration officials have been saying in recent weeks that they didn't want to initiate the higher military commission process under the point of a gun while the U.S. forces were under attack by these Iranian-backed militias.  But that seems to be exactly what you're doing.

Why did you change your stance on the timing of beginning these talks?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  This is the senior defense official.  To the first question, you know, Iraq remains a critical security partner to the United States.  We've been engaged in the D-ISIS fight side by side with Iraqi security forces since the D-ISIS coalition mission began 10 years ago.  We're going to continue this strong security partnership to advance our shared objectives and interests.

The HMC will help us determine what form that partnership will take.  Iraqi stability and sovereignty are essential for regional peace and security.  That's what we're there to support.

Regarding the timing of the HMC, it's not connected to recent events.  As it was mentioned a couple of times, this was agreed to — this was a commitment made in the August 2023 Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue.  The attacks, recent attacks from the Iran-aligned militia groups in the U.S. and coalition — against U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq and Syria that began in mid-October have really not influenced the decision of the United States and Iraq to convene this forum.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We'll go to Fadi Mansour with Al Jazeera.

Q:  Thank you for doing this.  As every single official here said, that the U.S. forces, coalition forces, are in Iraq, based on the invitation of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi government today, in a statement, clearly signaled that these discussions will address the phased withdrawal or reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq.  However, up front, you deny that these discussions will address the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Can you explain to us the disconnect here?

And if the Iraqis insist on raising this issue, will you refrain from discussing the withdrawal of U.S. forces?  Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  This is the senior defense official.  Again, the HMC will enable the United States and Iraq to, together, discuss the future of the strong security partnership to advance our shared objectives and interests.  And I really don't think we can say more about what that outcome will be, because those discussions are just getting started.

Obviously, it does address an eventual transition for Operation Inherent Resolve, but further than that, I think, would simply be speculative.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We'll turn it over to Jeff Seldin with VOA.

Q:  Thanks very much for doing this.  Just wondering, what is the Pentagon's current assessment of the size, strength, capabilities of ISIS in Iraq right now?

And how connected do you see ISIS's operations in Iraq to those in Syria?  And how does that impact specifically these discussions?

Do you feel like ISIS is degraded to the point where the — the size of the U.S. presence is — doesn't matter as much, or does it still make a big difference to have the U.S. presence there, with what ISIS is able to do?

SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL:  This is the senior military official.  I'll go first with that.

One, having been on the ground with the fight for a while, through our partnered forces and through what they are assessing, you do have a Daesh presence, obviously, still in Syria and in Iraq — not to the level where they're operational, where they can tie their tactical engagements and battles together into an operation, nor can they hold or seize territory, and certainly, strategically, across the globe, not viable — maybe strategically plotting but not capable of controlling large areas or territory.

So if you're looking at numbers, what we're going to say is we assess that the numbers are very, very much around the 1,000 or so in Syria and in Iraq.  And that's if you count facilitators, fighters, financiers, the network that would support the Daesh fighters in those locations.

And in both areas, they're not in urban areas.  They're disrupted.  They're suppressed.  They are in complex terrain and mountain environments or in some of the less-governed spaces in the Badiya desert, Syria, or in some of the places in central Iraq around the Kirkuk Saladin province, for example, where the Iraqi security forces are constantly working their intelligence platforms to detect and track these small ISIS cells.

So, again, it's not about numbers; it's about a capability.  They're not — Daesh is not capable beyond small attacks, currently in Iraq and Syria, thanks to the great efforts of the Iraqi security forces, who are doing quite well at keeping a handle on the Daesh challenge.  Over?

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We have time for just a couple more questions.  We'll do Phil Stewart with Reuters.

Q:  I understand that the termination of the HMC has yet to be finalized, but is it the goal of the Biden administration to maintain a U.S. troop presence in Iraq, long-term?

And then my other question was, if the senior military official could bring us up to date about the number of U.S. wounded in the attacks by militia in Iraq and Syria, to date?  Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  This is the senior defense official.  Well, the United States, and really both nations, remain committed to security cooperation and our shared interests in regional stability.  Together we'll work to shape the future U.S. military presence and ensure an Iraqi-led enduring defeat of ISIS.  I think that's the most I will say on that.

Regarding the attacks and the casualties, I believe we've stated previously — I'm forgetting if it's two or three U.S. personnel wounded in the most recent attack at —

(UNKNOWN):  Al-Asad.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  — at Al-Asad Air Force Base, and one seriously injured Iraqi Security Force service members.

Q:  Do you have a total figure?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  Total figure?  I don't have that.

Q:  In all the attacks?  Thank you.

SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL:  Yeah, this is the Senior Military Official.  So we've had one very serious injury in all of the attacks since October 18th and we've had 70 injured in various forms, lightly injured, mostly those, to be frank, are from concussive events from rocket, mortar, indirect fire, or one-way UAS attacks with anything from eight to 50 kilograms worth of explosives.

So we're very thankful the casualties have not been severe or more numerous, and the injuries are not necessarily wounds, it's just some of the concussive effects that happened during the blast that happened near their locations on bases.  Over.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We'll turn it over to Lara Seligman with Politico.

Q:  Thanks for doing this.  I wanted to ask you what has been the impact of these recent attacks and the environment in the Middle East on the discussions?  I know you said the timing of the discussions is not related but I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit and characterize what — how this change in the strategic environment is impacting the talks?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  This is the Senior Defense Official.  You know, if anything, the militia attacks delayed our original plan.  The HMC was initially a — the commitment to do it was initially announced in August of 2023, the plan was to proceed later in 2023.

Obviously, events in recent weeks have, you know, caused everyone to have to tend to other business.  But we're now back to the long-planned and originally planned launch of this HMC, and if anything, we're here despite the militia attacks, not because of them.

So, you know, we're committed to — along with our Iraqi partners, to consistently revisit the question of timing, but we'll ensure as we do that the HMC is this comprehensive, efficient, and professional process.

Q:  And just to follow up, you've — you're kind of — everyone keeps talking around the — calling it a transition to normal — a normal bilateral security cooperation relationship and sort of talking around the fact that — what that means is a eventual drawdown of U.S. troops.  So can you just clarify that we're — we're understanding this correctly, like, the — the ultimate goal is eventually a drawdown?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  Again, the Senior Defense Official.  You know, we are going to, together with our Iraqi partners, help determine the shape of the future U.S. military presence in Iraq, and at the same time, ensure an Iraqi-led enduring defeat of ISIS.  But beyond that, we won't speculate.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We'll do one last question from Mike Glenn with Washington Times.

Q:  No, I'm good, (Pete ?).  You can go on to somebody else.  My question's been answered.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Thank you.  Spencer Ackerman with Nation Magazine?

Q:  Thanks very much.  Can you talk about the impact, notwithstanding your answer just now, of the Iraqi Prime Minister saying that after the drone strike in Baghdad earlier this month, it was time to talk about something closer to a terminal phase of the U.S. military presence in Iraq?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL:  This is Senior Defense Official.  I'll refer you to the government of Iraq to address comments made by Iraqi government officials.

The announcements today coordinated between our two governments about the launch of the HMC process describe — and I've repeated it a couple of times — what we intend — how we intend to conduct this process and what we're trying to achieve.  So that — I think that's the best way I can answer that question.

MODERATOR:  Okay, thank you all for joining us today, and of course, to our briefers.  Again, this briefing was on background and all comments should be attributed to a Senior Defense Official, Senior State Official, or a Senior Military Official.

Thank you very much.

Let's wind down with some attention for a nutcase.  Sometimes I feel bad for Naomi Wolf.  Yes, I am that pathetic.  When I was saying that we never need to let her back in on the left, I wasn't just saying that to others, I was saying it to myself.  She is responsible for so much damage and so much harm.  And I'm reminded of that with her non-stop lying.  No, I'm talking about her bat s**t crazy conspiracy theories.  I'm talking about what she's writing -- and not some book that gets pulped because she doesn't what the hell she's writing about (2020's rightly ridiculed OUTRAGES) but about a damn Tweet.  She can't even be honest about what she's Tweeting.  Case in point from yesterday:

I’m not endorsing. But vote tampering can take the election away from both Pres Trump and RFK Jr, putting us back in the hands of murderous globalists. Both men should overcome any aversion and create a Trump/RFK Jr ticket for the sake of the nation. A victory too big to cheat…

"I'm not endorsing."  I'm just saying that Donald and Junior should be on the same ticket.  But "I'm not endorsing."  They should do this "for the sake of the nation."  But "I'm not endorsing."  

I know Naomi can't do research.  As Ava and I pointed out nearly two decades ago, she stole all literary allusions in THE BEAUTY MYTH from lectures Judith N. Shklar gave at the same university Naomi was at.  Did she not realize Judith published those lectures as THE FACES OF INJUSTICE?  Probably not because that would have required actual reading and as her turgid prose has always demonstrate, Naomi can't read too well.

What she did was an endorsement.  You're saying two men need to team up -- Naomi, for all her pretense, has never been a feminist -- and they need to run on the same ticket "for the sake of the nation"?  That's an endorsement.  You stupid idiot, that's an endorsement.

And before someone tries to see the best in Naomi (pathetic, however, I've tried that myself), grasp this is the woman who brunched with rapists in college.  Sat at the table, saw the blood stained sandal on the floor and just had a good old time at the frat house not at all concerned about the woman who got raped.  And she's the airhead idiot who put this into her book (PROMISCUITIES).  Not a feminist.  This is the woman who (FIRE WITH FIRE) raved over the beauty of Victoria Woodhull at length before immediately downgrading Madam CJ Walker to homely -- and why would the author of THE BEAUTY MYTH spend so many pages praising a White woman's alleged beauty while treating African-American Madam Walker (who actually worked in the beauty field) as hard on the eyes? Racism is not a feminist behavior.  Naomi is not a feminist.  She's a Do-Me Feminist.  Remember that sad creature?  ESQUIRE thought that up in the 90s to glorify the women who put out for men and promote them as feminists (they promoted Naomi as such -- she was the 'fun' feminist who loved sex -- I'm not aware of any prominent feminist in the last 100 years who didn't enjoy sex).

Now we need to excuse her, there are chemtrails waiting for her to chase and, no doubt, she's also working hard on how sun spots and kettle corn popcorn are a plan by globalists to render the world population sterile.  Go do you work, Naomi, pursue your 'truths' and run free until they come for you with the straight jacket.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Elle King

I really wasn't planning on commenting on Elle King.  But e-mails keep coming in.  She's a singer and she and Miranda Lambert did the instant classic "Drunk and I Don't Want To Go Home" song.  That's a song that instantly grabs you and both women will be remembered for it.  I'm sure Miranda will be remembered for many other things but, yes, for that as well.  As Elle gets further into her career she may have some more classics.

But she had a bad day last week.  We all have bad days.  Dolly Parton had a birthday.  The Grand Ole Opry wanted to honor Dolly so they had some people come in and perform her songs.  One of those was Elle.  Elle didn't know the words -- as she stated in her performance -- and messed up.  She also cursed on stage.   Now I don't know all the traditions and don't pretend to.  But I'm being asked for my take.

Here it is.  Huh?  Why is this an uproar?  Was it broadcast live?  If so and they were unable to time delay to bleep the f-word, okay, maybe that.  

But this uproar?  Have these outraged and sheltered souls never heard of Merle Haggard.  Or any of the outlaws of outlaw country?

I don't think Elle meant any disrespect to Dolly or to Dolly's fans.

Should she have known Dolly's song?

Yes, she should have.  Guess what?  Last year Patti Labelle performed live (was it CMT) and sang "The Best" as part of a tribute to Tina Turner.  Guess what?  Patti forgot the words.  Look in vain for the post I wrote accusing her of disrespect.  People forget things.  Every thing Barbra Streisand sings and speaks in a concert is on the teleprompter because she's afraid of forgetting what she's going to say.  Now Patti didn't curse and maybe Elle's use of the f-word -- once and I believe that was her only curse word -- was just too darn much -- have to say darn, right?  Before the mob going after Elle comes after me too, better watch the language, right?

So, no, it's not the end of the world in my opinion.  And, yes, I'm more likely to be at a rock performance than a country one but, again, there's a whole history of outlaw country and I don't think it's the end of the world.  I do wonder if she's being held to a different standard because she's a "she."

She didn't insult Dolly with words, she didn't insult Dolly with curse words.  Everything she said about Dolly and Dolly's fans?  Fine.  She did forget the lyrics -- oh, and she said she was drunk.  Again, not the end of the world.  Janis Joplin is not the only woman to ever take the stage loaded.  In her younger days, Tanya Tucker did a few times.  (May still, no judgment from me if she does.)

So it just seems like there's a problem being created where there's not really a problem.  My opinion.

Wait.  I left out one point.  If the Grand Ole Opry is not satisfied with the performance, then that is a problem.  For them.  They need to require monitored rehearsals if no one's allowed to forget a line or screw up.  That's the only blame I would assign.


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


Thursday, January 25, 2024.  An unarmed man threatening no one is shot dead by Israeli forces and its caught on tape, the Israeli government continues destroying buildings of cultural significance in Gaza, UAW wants both a cease-fire and Joe Biden re-election, and much more.

Starting with THE NEWSHOUR (PBS).

  • Geoff Bennett:

    The war in Gaza has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians. That's according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

    Our colleagues at Independent Television News have sent us evidence of one more death, an apparently unarmed man walking with a group of men under a white flag with their hands up. ITN's cameraman in Gaza documented the killing.

    The reporter is John Irvine in Israel. And a caution, This story includes images of violence.

  • John Irvine:

    This is the edge of the supposedly safe area called Al-Mawasi that the Israelis have been encouraging Gaza civilians to flee to.

    These makeshift homes have been vacated because the war is getting closer. The billowing smoke was evidence of the new Israeli offensive in Khan Yunis that has been forcing more families to evacuate and seek safety elsewhere.

  • Hazem Ahmad, Displaced Palestinian (through interpreter):

    No place safely in Gaza. Everywhere you are going, you will find the Israeli army. They are shoot us at home, any building, in the street, everywhere you are. They will give you a chance sometimes just for five minutes sometimes, do not give you any chance to take your clothes, to take your children, to take your family, and to get out of the building.

    This is our life in Gaza. It's very difficult.

  • John Irvine:

    These pictures were filmed by a cameraman working for ITV News in Gaza. As he moved forwards towards the combat zone, he noticed this group of men doing their utmost to appear nonthreatening, trying to proceed with care. They wanted to reach two other family members and get them out of harm's way.

    Ramzi Abu Sahloul , Displaced Gazan (through interpreter): I have my mother and brother in there with around 50 or 70 displaced people in another house. The Israelis came to us and told us to evacuate, but they didn't let my brother out. We want to go and try to get them, God willing.

  • John Irvine:

    The interview complete, our cameraman walked away. And then this happened.


  • John Irvine:

    The interviewee had been shot and fatally wounded. You can see them place their flag on his chest. As he was carried away, the white flag was turning red.

    "Carry him. They have killed him," yells this youth. Then,suddenly, more gunfire.


  • John Irvine:

    They scream at a child, telling him to find cover.

    By this stage, the man's wife, his widow, has heard what happened. And as she rushes to the scene, she meets the party carrying away the body on a makeshift stretcher. When they're satisfied they're a safe distance away, they stop, and the mourning starts.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    We asked the Israel Defense Forces to respond to the story today.

    A spokesman said — quote — "We're not aware of the event, and it's still under examination." An Israeli defense official later told "PBS NewsHour" that an Israeli analysis of the audio found that two weapons fired shots. They say one was an automatic that fired three bullets, and the rate of fire does not correspond to any rifle used by the Israeli military. The official added they are investigating further.

AP covers the murder here.

When not slaughtering people, the Israeli government is destroying culture, schools, hospitals and other structures in Gaza.  At THE NATION, Kate Wagner reports:

If you look at images of Gaza now, instead of cities where thousands of people lived, all you’ll see is rubble. The remnants of homes and apartment buildings lie strewn about, mangled beyond recognition. Shops, hospitals, schools, universities, religious buildings, whether ancient or new (it makes little difference now)—all have been reduced to unsalvageable heaps of rock and steel, some bombed beyond recognition, legible now only in the memories of those who knew them. There is a word for when buildings and cities are destroyed as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing: “urbicide.” It is a tactic used to make sure there is nothing left to return to, nothing that can be cherished or latched on to. Its goal is a total colonization of the landscape that erases whatever used to be.

“Gaza was actually a sizable city under the Byzantines and, before them, the Romans, and was a [political] center…for the Mamluk Empire in the 13th through 15th centuries. And that’s when it probably reached its highest level of administrative power,” Nasser Rabbat, the director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, tells me. “Gaza was the place where the [Mamluk] army would congregate on the way to their campaigns in northern Syria, in the Euphrates region, or in Anatolia against its host of enemies.”
The Great Omari Mosque reflected this history. It had been damaged and rebuilt many times over the centuries: attacked by the Mongols in the 13th century, battered by an earthquake a few decades later, restored and expanded in the Ottoman era, and partially destroyed by British bombs in World War I, only to be restored once more. Now it’s been effectively obliterated; only some walls and one minaret remain. This is—make no mistake—a deliberate element of the Israeli campaign to erase all traces of Palestinian life.
After news of its destruction was reported, multiple tweets went viral comparing the widespread outcry over the 2019 fire that claimed part of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris with the relative silence over the loss of the historic mosque. There’s undoubtedly something to this, and it’s symptomatic of Islamophobia and the ignorance of Islamic culture in the West more broadly. Yet there’s a deeper point to be made about architectural loss as it relates to war. Notre-Dame, after all, is a unique case: It is widely famous in mass popular culture (very few buildings have a Disney movie made about them), and the fire was a simple accident, not a deliberate act of demolition.

On Monday, 21 Israeli soldiers died in an explosion two Gaza buildings that they had filled with explosives with the plan to take the buildings down.  Jeremy Scahill (INTERCEPT) reports:

While the IDF statement was unclear about the exact cause of the explosion inside the buildings, the Qassam Brigades said its operatives “targeted” the structure, leading to the “explosion of the [IDF’s] ammunition and engineering equipment,” “completely blowing [it] up.”

Such controlled demolitions have become an increasingly common tactic used by Israeli forces in Gaza. The Israeli military has justified its destruction of civilian housing and other infrastructure by claiming it houses Hamas facilities or leaders or to gain access to subterranean tunnels. In Monday’s incident, however, Hagari said the buildings were marked for demolition because they were situated in an area of Gaza that Israel unilaterally declaredOpens in a new tab a “buffer zone” between Gaza and Israel. He said the purpose was to protect an Israeli kibbutz located a half mile from Gaza against possible future attacks.

This appears to be the first time the Israeli military has publicly admitted that its systematic destruction of whole areasOpens in a new tab of eastern Gaza are not entirely aimed at destroying tunnels or other Hamas infrastructure, but at depopulating more areas of Gaza in the name of security for nearby Israeli settlements. “The IDF systematically demolishes Palestinian buildings that enable surveillance and firing capabilities toward Israel, leading to the destruction of hundreds of buildings to date,” the IDF said in a statementOpens in a new tab.

Controlled demolitions against the property within an occupied territory are generally prohibited under international humanitarian lawOpens in a new tab unless they are “imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.” 

But IDF soldiers have posted multiple videosOpens in a new tab on TikTok and other social media sites of themselves gleefully hitting the trigger button sparking massive controlled explosions in Palestinian neighborhoods, as well as educational, cultural, and government institutions. In a TikTok videoOpens in a new tab showing a military bulldozer knocking down houses in Khan Younis, an Israeli soldier jokes that he and his colleagues are setting up a real estate company. “This field is definitely worth investing in,” he says. “For those who have money, this is the time to invest. Make an offer.”

On January 17, Israeli forces blew upOpens in a new tab Al-Isra University, reportedly rigging it with more than 300 mines before conducting a triggering strike that leveled the entire campus. “The explosion occurred 70 days after the Israeli military transformed the school into barracks and, later, into a temporary detention facility,” according to the humanitarian organization Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters he had seen the video of the demolition of the privately owned school, but refused to comment on the legality or justification for the operation. 

“It looks like a controlled demolition,” said Associated Press correspondent Matt Lee during the briefingOpens in a new tab. “It looks like what we do here in this country, when we’re taking down an old hotel or a stadium. And you have nothing to say? You have nothing to say about this?” 


Gaza remains under assault. In fact, it's day 110 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.  Friday, United Nations Women noted, "Since 7 October 2023, more than 24,620 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, 70 per cent of whom were women or children. 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."  NBC NEWS notes, "More than 25,700 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 63,300 have been injured , and thousands more are missing and presumed dead."  AP has noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."   

At the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated his call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “The entire population of Gaza is enduring destruction at a scale and speed without parallel in recent history. Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

Guterres went on to criticize statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders opposing a two-state solution.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “Last week’s clear and repeated rejection of the two-state solution at the highest level of the Israeli government is unacceptable. … This refusal and the denial of the right to statehood to the Palestinian people will indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security.”

Guterres’s comments came as The Wall Street Journal reports a group of five Arab countries have proposed a plan to end the war in Gaza and create a pathway toward a Palestinian state. As part of the deal, Saudi Arabia would also recognize the state of Israel.

The continued call for a cease-fire comes as the Israeli government repeatedly attempts to thwart any cease-fire.  Bethan McKernan (GUARDIAN) reports:

Qatar has harshly criticised Israel’s prime minister, accusing Benjamin Netanyahu of deliberately obstructing ceasefire and hostage-release negotiations with Hamas for personal political gain.

Doha’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Majed al-Ansari, said on Wednesday night that his government was “appalled” by leaked remarks allegedly made by Netanyahu in which he criticised the country’s mediation efforts over the war in Gaza, adding that the Israeli leader’s comments were “irresponsible and destructive” but “not surprising”.

“If the reported remarks are found to be true, the Israeli PM would only be obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career instead of prioritising saving innocent lives, including Israeli hostages,” Ansari wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Let's move over to unions.  The UAW (United Auto Workers) and the SEIU (Service Employees International Union ) have both endorsed a cease fire.  Yesterday, the UAW made another endorsement.

UAW is one of the largest unions in the United States.   Here's the UAW's press release on the endorsement of Joe:

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, January 24th, with hundreds of UAW members, leaders, and activists gathered at the union’s national Community Action Program (CAP) conference, the UAW announced its endorsement of Joe Biden for President of the United States. 

Addressing the assembled members, UAW President Shawn Fain spoke to the issues facing the working class, and the strategic choice ahead in the 2024 presidential election. 

“This November, we can stand up and elect someone who wants to stand with us and support our cause. Or we can elect someone who will divide us and fight us every step of the way,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. “That’s what this choice is about. The question is, who do we want in that office to give us the best shot of winning? Of organizing. Of negotiating strong contracts. Of uniting the working class and winning our fair share once again, as our union has done so many times in our nation’s history. We need to know who’s going to sit in the most powerful seat in the world and help us win as a united working class.” 

“Today I’m proud to announce that UAW is endorsing Joe Biden for President of the United States. And I am honored to invite Joe Biden to come address our great union, and join us in our fight for economic and social justice for the UAW and for the whole working class. UAW family, let’s stand up and welcome the man who stood up for us. Please welcome the current President of the United States, the man we will re-elect, Joe Biden!” 

For President Fain’s full remarks as prepared, see below:

To view the full recorded and livestreamed proceedings of the UAW CAP Conference, go to UAW’s YouTube page. Media is encouraged to use these materials in coverage, with credit to UAW. 


Good afternoon, UAW family, 

As we near the end of our CAP Conference, I first want to thank you all.  

This has been an inspiring few days of strategy, discussion, and planning for the fights ahead. Let’s give a hand to all of our CAP Reps for everything you do for this union and for this movement. 

I want to recognize our fantastic CAP staff who have worked so hard to make this event a success. 

I want to recognize our International Executive Board for your leadership and your participation here this week. 

And most of all I want to recognize our members across the country, in every sector, who are the ONLY reason we’re here, and who are the TRUE LEADERS of our movement. 

When I became the president of this great union, just 10 months ago, I promised that we would do things differently.  

I promised that we would return to our roots, pursue economic and social justice, and that we would FIGHT LIKE HELL, not just for UAW members, but for the ENTIRE working class.  

That’s exactly what we’ve done, and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do. 

With that said, we know there are many outside of this room who DOUBTED our movement, DOUBTED our strength, and DOUBTED our resolve.   

When we went on strike against the Big 3, you’ll remember that many of the talking heads DISMISSED our demands as UNREALISTIC. 

They said workers could never win back COLA. BUT WE DID.  

They said we couldn’t bring back a plant that was scheduled to close. But we did. 

They said, we’d NEVER be able to make EV jobs good jobs, NEVER get it under our master agreements. But we did. 

They said there is NO WAY we could end wage tiers. But we did, winning life-changing raises for thousands of members. 

They said we couldn’t bargain for our retirees. But we did. 


Not since the sit down strikes of the 1930s has there been a union victory on this scale.  

We were underestimated then, and I’m sure we’ll be underestimated NOW by the corporate class and their political allies.  

But the people who matter are with us.  

75% of the American people stood with us during the strike.  

And workers everywhere are standing with us now.  

They STAND UP because they know what it’s like to work paycheck to paycheck. 

And they STAND UP because we stick to the facts and tell the truth.  

During the strike, we shared the FACT that the companies had made a quarter of a trillion dollars in profit in the past decade. 

We shared the FACT that the CEOs had given themselves 40% wage increases over four years. And we shared the FACT that workers had fallen further and further behind. 

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, the American people stand with us because they understand that our movement is fighting for every last working class American. 

That is our guiding light. 

EVERYTHING we do as a union must be about taking back our power as the working class. 

That’s what being UAW really means.  

It means being strategic, clear, and aggressive in our mission to win for workers everywhere. 

Working class people are hurting. For decades, we’ve been ignored at best, and trampled on at worst. 

But we are the vast majority of society. 

We have the NUMBERS, and we have the VOTES. 

When we stand UNITED, we put FEAR in the hearts of the billionaire class.  

But they keep us weak by dividing us. 

It’s an old trick the billionaires play, but it’s effective. Time and time again, the wealthy divide the masses as the rich walk away with the loot!   

They try to divide us by gender.   

They try to divide us by nationality.   

They try to divide us by race.   

They act like how you live your life, or where you were born, or what color your skin is, is a threat to the person on the worksite next to you.    

They talk about WHO you love, where you’re from, or how you look. 

So they don’t have to talk about who you work for, WHERE the profits go, and WHO benefits. 

THAT’S what unites us. 

And THAT UNITY is where our power comes from. 

What we learned in the Stand Up Strike is if we unite on our issues, if we fight like hell, if we focus on things that matter to the American people, WE WIN. 

Our Stand Up Strike wasn’t just about one contract. 

It was about the fight for a LIVING WAGE. 

It was about a SECURE RETIREMENT. 

It was about HEALTH CARE. 

It was about taking our TIME back and taking our LIVES back. 

Wages. Retirement. Health Care. Time. 

These are the issues that UNITE the working class. 

These are the issues that are life or death for the American people. 

We’ve got to start looking to the future and making sure that working people – not just the wealthy – are going to be secure.  

Advances in technology shouldn’t lead to plant closings or leave remaining workers working harder than before. 

We should be the masters of technology – not let it master us. 

Or force us to work even more for less money.  

Management – and behind them, the billionaire class – seeks to control our LIVES. They seek to control our TIME. They seek to control our GOVERNMENT. They seek to control our SOCIETY. 

You all are here because given the choice between union solidarity and management domination, you have chosen UNION. You have chosen SOLIDARITY. 

In 2024, we face a major choice as a society. 

I know some people want to ignore this election; they don’t want to have anything to do with politics. 

Other people want to argue endlessly about the latest headline or scandal or stupid quote. 

Elections aren’t about picking your best friend for the job, or the CANDIDATE who makes you feel good. 

Elections are about POWER. 

We’ve spent this week talking about our political priorities and where we’re going as a union. 

And we’ve shown in our Stand Up Strike that we know how to win against the boss. 

But there’s a bigger boss out there. It’s the billionaire class and their backers here in Washington, DC. 

That’s what we’re up against. 

So, we’re gonna fight like hell for retirement security for the whole working class. 

We’re gonna organize and mobilize and make our voices heard. 

This November, we can STAND UP and elect someone who wants to stand with us and support our cause. 

Or we can elect someone who will divide us and fight us every step of the way. 

That’s what this choice is about. The question is, who do we want in that office to give us the best shot of winning?  

Of organizing. Of negotiating strong contracts. Of uniting the working class and winning our fair share once again, as our union has done so many times in our nation’s history. 

Today, I want to talk about the choice we likely face in the Presidential Election this year. 

And I don’t want to talk about who you like, who you don’t like, the latest headline, or the Democrats or Republicans. 

I want to talk about the TRACK RECORD. 

I want to talk about THE FACTS. 

Our Stand Up Strike captured the imagination of this country. 

Because we told the TRUTH about corporate greed. 

We said what needed to be said. 

And we talked about the FACTS that matter to working class people everywhere, in the UAW and beyond. 

So, when we talk about this election, let’s take a look at the candidates’ own words and actions. 

In 2008, the auto industry faced a historic crisis. We were on the edge of total collapse, with entire communities devastated, hundreds of thousands of autoworkers’ families left out on the street. 

It was our members who sacrificed everything to save the auto industry. 

[SLIDE 1]: In that moment, Donald Trump said, quote, “I think that the unions are really, really hurting very badly what’s going on with the auto industry.” 

[SLIDE 2]: Joe Biden, having helped save the auto industry, said the nation BET on American autoworkers and won. 

[SLIDE 3]: In 2015, when he was first running for President, Trump went even further. He said the concessions we took in the bailout weren’t enough.  

He wanted to “rotate” the auto industry out of Michigan so union autoworkers would BEG for our jobs back.  

He wanted to put the race to the bottom on steroids to SCREW the American autoworker. 

[SLIDE 4]: Also in 2015, we won our first election of a group of skilled trades workers at Volkswagen, where we’re still organizing today.  

Volkswagen DEFIED the law and REFUSED to bargain. They dragged it out as long as they could, because they knew Trump’s National Labor Relations Board would UNDO our victory. That set us back a decade. 

[SLIDE 5]: President Biden, on the other hand, has made changes at the National Labor Relations Board that have opened new opportunities for organizing.  

He has vocally supported workers organizing, and said, at a UAW event: “Join, organize, picket, protest. You have a right to form a union, and you cannot be stopped. You cannot be intimidated.” 

It matters who runs the National Labor Relations Board, if we are going to grow our union and organize the unorganized. 

But it’s not just about organizing. Let’s talk about plant closures. 

[SLIDE 6]: In 2019, at the height of profits, GM closed Lordstown Assembly Plant. GM is to blame, but Trump stood by and let it happen. Worse, he joined in the BEATING after telling Lordstown workers “don’t sell your houses.” 

Trump attacked brother David Green, who was then the president of Local 1112, and is now serving as our Region 2B Director. He said our union dues were to blame for the plant closure, when we know that was all about CORPORATE GREED. 

[SLIDE 7]: In 2023, the Belvidere Assembly plant was slated for closure by Stellantis.  

So, we fought like hell to do the unthinkable: Save Belvidere. And with the power of the Stand Up Strike, we did it. 

But we also had the President of the United States by our side every step of the way. Instead of talking trash about our union, Joe Biden stood with us and supported us in our historic victory to save Belvidere and save an entire community. 

And let’s talk about making history. 

Rarely as a union do you get so clear a choice between two candidates. 

In 2019, our members held the line at GM on a national strike for 40 days. Trump was the sitting president. 

[SLIDE 8 – BLANK]: Here’s a picture of what Trump said and what actions he took to help the American autoworker, striking at GM when he was president. 


[SLIDE 9]: Now here’s a picture of what Trump did to help the American autoworker in 2023 during our historic Stand Up Strike, when he was running for president. 

He went to a non-union plant, invited BY THE BOSS, and TRASHED OUR UNION. 

[SLIDE 10]: Here’s what Joe Biden did during our Stand Up Strike. 

He heard the call and SHOWED UP.  

He joined us in solidarity on the picket line, the first time in our nation’s history a sitting president has ever done that.  

He said on live national TV, that the Big Three, and I quote, “should go further to ensure RECORD CORPORATE PROFITS mean RECORD CONTRACTS for the UAW.” 


So that’s the choice we face. 

It’s not about who you like. 

It’s not about your party. 

It’s not about anything but our BEST SHOT AT TAKING BACK POWER for the working class. 

Donald Trump is a SCAB.  

Donald Trump is a BILLIONAIRE, and that’s who he represents. 

If Donald Trump ever worked in an auto plant, he wouldn’t be a UAW member. He’d be a company man, trying to squeeze the American autoworker.  

Donald Trump stands AGAINST everything the UAW stands FOR. 

When you go back to our core issues – Wages. Retirement. Health Care. Time. 

That’s what this election is about. 

Who will stand with us? 

And who will stand in our way? 

Those are the questions that will win or lose this election. 

Those are the questions that will determine the future of our country, and the fate of the working class. 

When I first came into office, we made some headlines by saying that our endorsements would be EARNED.  

We’ve said we’d stand with whoever stood with us in our contract fight. 

Not because somebody was nice to us, and we want to be nice to them. 

But because we need to know who’s going to PUT UP and who’s going to SHUT UP. 

We need to know who’s going to STAND UP with us. 

Joe Biden BET on the American worker and Trump BLAMED the American worker. 

We need to know who’s going to sit in the most powerful seat in the world, and help us win as a UNITED working class. 

So, if our endorsements must be earned, Joe Biden has earned it.  

Today I’m proud to announce that UAW is endorsing Joe Biden for President of the United States. 

And I am honored to invite Joe Biden to come address our great union, and join us in our fight for economic and social justice for the UAW and for the whole working class. 

UAW family, let’s STAND UP and welcome the man who STOOD UP for us. Please welcome the current President of the United States, the man we will re-elect, Joe Biden! 

# # #



Contact Information

Jonah Furman
Director, UAW Communications

Feldman Strategies, 

The call for a cease-fire and the endorsement of Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election has led to differing opinions on the endorsement since Joe has refused -- thus far -- to call for a cease-fire.  POD SAVE AMERICA offers this take.

A group of those UAW members protested the union’s decision on Wednesday, demanding that the UAW withhold the endorsement until Biden reversed course on Gaza and called for an end to the violence.

Other national unions including the AFL-CIO announced endorsements of the incumbent as early as last summer. It was about this time that Fain met with Biden to ask for his support for auto workers during their contract negotiations and address the union’s concerns regarding the auto industry’s transition to electric vehicles (EVs).

During the UAW’s historic Stand-Up Strike against the Big Three automakers that followed in the fall, Biden said that record profits [should] mean record contracts” and showed up to the union’s picket line outside a General Motors plant in Belleville, Michigan. In November, the UAW secured historic contracts with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis that resulted in increased wages, an end to the despised system of tiers, and ensured production facilities would have capacity to manufacture EVs.

In announcing the endorsement on Wednesday, Fain emphasized the importance of Biden’s support for labor, stressing that Biden’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board had been crucial to the labor movement. Meanwhile, Fain mocked Trump as a scab” who gained a reputation for attacking unions.” 

The United Auto Workers, as expected, has endorsed the reelection campaign of Democratic President Joe Biden. With its endorsement, the UAW bureaucracy is backing a war criminal who is overseeing Israel’s genocide in Gaza and a rapid expansion of American imperialism’s wars of global conquest.  

Just minutes into his acceptance speech, Biden was interrupted by chants of “Ceasefire now” from the floor of the UAW political action conference in Washington D.C. While Biden stood silent and bewildered, the assembled UAW bureaucrats repeatedly shouted “UAW! UAW!” to drown out the protesters.

In his introduction of Biden, Fain predictably did not say a word about the US-backed slaughter of more than 30,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, even though the UAW has adopted a pro forma resolution calling on the president to demand a ceasefire.

Instead, the UAW president employed his standard left-sounding rhetoric to portray Biden—a corporate shill for his entire political career—as a champion of the working class who was ready to battle the “billionaire class and their backers here in Washington D.C.”

During the UAW’s online presentation of the event, there was a steady stream of critical posts by workers denouncing “Genocide Joe,” condemning Biden’s outlawing of the railroad workers’ strike in 2022, and exposing the fraudulent claims by Biden and Fain that the sellout agreements in the auto industry last year were “historic” victories.

Lastly, singer-songwriter Melanie has passed away.  "Peace Will Come (According To Plan)" is one of her greatest songs.

All community sites noted Melanie's passing in posts last night.  I do want to point out two specific ones, Trina's "Melanie: Queen of the Music festivals" which is very in depth and Jess did "Thank you to Melanie (Jess)" at Isaiah's site -- a rare solo post from Jess but he was a huge fan of Melanie and of the song above.  The following sites updated: