Saturday, May 11, 2024


Cass Elliot.  She was a singer -- one of the great voices of the 20th century -- who came to fame with the Mamas and the Papas.  As part of that legendary group from the sixties, she hit the charts with songs like "Creeque Alley," "California Dreamin'," "Words Of Love," "Dedicated To The One Love," "Monday Monday," "I Saw Her Again Last Night," "Safe In My Garden," "12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon" and "Dream A Little Dream Of Me."  Cass, Michelle Phillips, Denny Doherty and John Phillips recorded together briefly -- about three years -- before breaking up.  They would come back together for a final album a few years later just to avoid being sued by their label.

Michelle transferred into acting and has many credits -- VALENTINO, DILLINGER, THE LAST MOVIE, KNOTS LANDING, BLOODLINE, LET IT RIDE,  STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, BEVERLY HILLS 90210, etc.  Besides background vocals from time to time (Cheech & Chong's "Basketball Dreams," Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is A Place On Earth," etc.), after the group originally disbanded in 1968.  Nine years later, Michelle released her first and only album VICTIM OF ROMANCE.  I like the album  but Michelle emphasized acting.


Denny was Canadian and went back there.  He has a lousy WIKIPEDIA entry but I know he did a TV variety show in Canada -- he had Michelle on as a guest -- I believe Cass as well. A lot of his music during the 70s didn't get released in the seventies.  In the 80s, he began touring with John Phillips' M&P abomination.  Cass was dead by then, Michelle wasn't ever coming back to the group.  He had his daughter Mackenzie Phillips in the group.  The "had" was not a reference to the sexual relationship between the two that only ended when Mackenzie -- again, his own daughter -- became pregnant.  

Cass and John The Perv tried to have music careers after the group broke up.  Cass was an amazing singer.  But John was the supposed group leader and supposed major songwriting talent.  

The results?

John bombed at everything -- Broadway, solo recordings, film soundtracks and only found any 'fame' after the groups break up in 1981 when became a convicted drug trafficker.  


She notched up 8 adult contemporary chart hits from 1968 to 1973 and 3 top forty pop hits on BILLBOARD (and four on CASHBOX).  She landed three albums on BILLBOARDS top 100 sales chart.

And she toured.  And she did films (PUFNSTUF and the TV western comedy spoof SAGA OF SONORA).  She was on THE TONIGHT SHOW multiple times.  She even co-hosted several times.  She made multiple appearances on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW and other variety shows -- including THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS, THE JOHN DAVIDSON SHOW, THE JULIE ANDREWS HOUR, THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (that's where the clip of her and John Denver singing "Leaving On A Jet Planet" comes from), THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW, THE DON KNOTTS SHOW, THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW, THE RAY STEVENS SHOW, THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW, THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW, IT'S LULU,  THIS IS TOM JONES, THE ROSIE GRIER SHOW, THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE, DONAHUE, DINAH'S PLACE, AMERICAN BANDSTAND, THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES . . . 

All from 1968 through her death in 1974.  She hosted two specials: THE MAMA CASS TELEVISION SPECIAL and DON'T CALL ME MAMA ANYMORE.  



When they put this show (which ran for two years in the early 70s) on DVD in the '00s, they didn't include the Cass episode.  If you've never seen it or haven't seen it in years, it is on the free streaming service TUBI.


So my point here is that the Mamas & the Papas disbanded in 1968.  Michelle and Cass had careers.  Denny I'm not sure of because it was in Canada.  He did continue to work.  And John Phillips was a complete failure which karma.

Owen Elliot-Kugell is the only child Cass had.  Cass died in 1974 when Owen was seven.


Owen's new book -- MY MAMA, CASS -- is a highly moving attempt by the author to learn more about her mother.  She shares her memories and what she learned from family members and people who knew Cass.  


She sees her mother as part of a long line of strong women on the maternal side of her family.  And that may be why Cass reacted so strongly to "the Mamas."  The band was trying to come up with a name and John Phillips was pushing "The Magic Circle" when, on TV, a Hell's Angel says that they call their women "Mamas" and Cass shouts that they're the Mamas with Michelle agreeing with her.  In other books, it's noted that John then tries to make it The Papas and the Mamas and Cass makes it clear that it's the other way around.


Owen ignores that part but does note her mother's final year was one repeated hospitalization after another and she ponders whether anyone in management was aware of Cass' health issues?  She notes a lot of loans were taken out for Cass tour.  (She would die in London after performing at The Palladium.)   The same management would raid Cass' account to pay for those loans after Cass died.  Owen shares that Cass' estate remained opened and in debt until the CD revolution of the late 80s and 90s.  Only Cass fans buying up her solo albums and her Mamas and Papas recordings on the CD format brought in enough to pay off the debts.  


So why didn't her management team take note that Cass kept having issues.  Twice she was prevented from going on THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON.  But twice in April, she was hospitalized.  Once she was there for the taping and is said to have tripped.  I say "said to."  The second time, she was there for the taping and passed out in her dressing room.  I say "said to" on the earlier one because she may have gotten dizzy and that's why she tripped. In a seventh month period she was hospitalized four times, Owen points out.


Cass' heart gave out in London and that's why she died.  Could these hospitalizations been early indicators of heart issues?  Was anyone paying attention to that or was it just "Let's all make a buck off Cass!"


Again, as soon as she was dead, her management raided her bank accounts to pay for the loans taken out on the tour (management was a co-signer of the loans).  And the lie that she died choking on a ham sandwich came from her manager Alan Carr who asked a friend in the press to print that because he said otherwise they would think it was drugs.



Janis Joplin died four years before Cass.  Drugs.  It didn't harm her reputation or Jim Morrison (four years before Cass) or Jimi Hendrix (three years before Cass).


 I question his 'need' to sell the ham sandwich lie to the public.

But I don't question the book.  In fact, I highly recommned MY MAMA, CASS.





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


Friday, May 10, 2024.  War Criminal Netanyahu insists he'll go it alone on War Crimes if he has to, Robert Kennedy Junior loses it on MSNBC, protests continue and multiply, and much more.

What a loon Junior is.  And he looks more troll like each week.  In fact, Dan Hedaya.  Maybe he and Cheryl can star in a reboot of THE TORTELLIS?

The clip's illuminating because it goes to how undeveloped his worm-infested brain actually is and how little time he put into the thought of being a president as opposed to running for the office.

But mainly, if you pay attention, he sounds like one of those loons who has a meltdown over the Israeli government.   Junior and those loons are like the infamous video below.

To criticize Donald is too much for Little Junior.  He gets mad and pouty.  He appears to think -- as much as he can think -- that what he's done is treated them both equally.  But he kicked off last month with the statement that Joe was a bigger threat to democracy than Donald.  

There is no logical basis for that claim.  

Donald encouraged violence and refused to accept the election results.  As we now know from evidence in various court cases, the whole January 6th insurrection was planned and was intended to sew fear and chaos so that he could steal a second term after losing it.

Junior's never respected election results.  We should allow for that.  In January 2005, Bully Boy Bush got sworn in, not John Kerry.  And Junior and his buddy Pap-Smear (he hated that name) were all upset about the outcome.  As were many of us.  But many of us weren't talking plots to overturn and all this other garbage. 

Junior and Mike Papantonio were all over how they were going to take care of this -- big strong man Pap-Smear.  Remember when Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow jokingly called Mike "Pap Smear" on air during AIR AMERICA's UNFILTERED as Mike was thundering on about getting a plane and going to DC and blah blah blah.

Pap Smear and Junior don't have a lot respect for voters and never have.

There are elections and there are results.

And for democracy to work, we have to accept those results.

Someone who refuses to step down should not be allowed to ever run again for a public office. 

If we're not going to follow the rules, then there's a problem.

And I include Hillary Clinton in that too.  She lost.

She wouldn't go away. 

She didn't help the country move along.  She one crazy theory after another of this defeated her and that defeated her.  The press should have called her out and told to sit her tired ass down.  But they didn't like Donald so they encouraged her bitter sour grapes.

The country shouldn't have had to suffer through that nonsense either.  Both of them degraded the 2016 election.

But as much as her whining irritated, she is not worse than Donald or equal to Donald because she didn't try to overthrow election results.  She made clear over and over that she would whine about them, but she didn't try to overthrow them.

Forget everything else that Donald has said this year that can be seen as threatening, the reality is, he tried to halt the peaceful transition of power that a democracy depends upon.  For that reason alone, he shouldn't be allowed to run.  And that's before we get into the reality that the insurrection was an attempted coup -- it failed, thankfully -- and the legal penalty for that can include execution.  

He's not fit and clearly Junior isn't either if he's going to look at Donald Trump and not grasp that.

And to him, to Junior, any criticism of Donald is just too much and he screams "Leave Britney alone!"

Just like the loons who scream "antisemitism!" anytime reality about the Israeli government is discussed, exposed, what have you.

Let's note this from Jeffrey St. Clair's "Medicide in Gaza: the Killing of Dr. Adnan al-Bursh" (COUNTERPUNCH):

More than two weeks after Israel announced his death, it still has not released the body of one of Gaza’s most celebrated doctors, Adnan al-Bursh. Israel hasn’t said how this 50-year-old man in good health died, even though he died in one of its darkest places, Oter Prison, a place where very bad things are done at the hands of Israeli prison guards and Shin Bet interrogators. It hasn’t explained why al-Bursh was detained in December, then stripped, bound and carried away from the hospital where he was treating the sick and wounded. And it hasn’t offered any reason for why he was held for four months without any contact with his family or a lawyer. 

Adnan al-Bursh was one of Gaza’s leading surgeons. More than that he was one of the Strip’s leading humanitarians, who had repeatedly sacrificed his own safety to provide life-saving medical treatment to people under bombardment. As the head of the head of orthopedics at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, al-Bursh helped pioneer the limb reconstruction unit, which opened after the 2014 Israeli military attacks on Gaza. But in December he’d gone at great personal risk to treat patients at Al-Awda Hospital in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

By the time al-Bursh arrived at Al-Awda in early December, the hospital had already come under repeated attacks by the IDF. Less than a week after the Hamas attacks of October 7, the Israelis ordered the evacuation of all hospitals in northern Gaza, including Al-Awda, which has the largest maternity ward in the district. The World Health Organization warned any raid on Al-Awda would be a death sentence for the hospital’s sick and wounded. 

On November 10, an Israeli airstrike hit an ambulance on route to the hospital. Ten days later, two doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières were killed in an Israeli airstrike at the Al-Adwa. On December 1, the hospital was again hit and damaged by Israeli bombs.

By December 12, the hospital was effectively under siege, surrounded by Israeli troops and tanks and under nearly constant gunfire from snipers. At least one pregnant woman had been shot at and one nurse had been shot through a hospital window and killed by an Israel sniper, while she tended patients on the fourth floor of the building. Supplies of fresh water had been cut off and people inside the hospital, including patients, were being nourished by only one meal of bread or rice each day. 

It was into this slaughter zone that Adnan al-Bursh rushed to help the flood of wounded civilians being admitted to the understaffed hospital. Al-Bursh, one of Gaza’s most acclaimed surgeons, had received his medical training in Romania and later in England. In a sense, al-Bursh was coming home. He’d been born and raised in the Jalabia refugee camp on the northern end of the Gaza Strip and got his early education there.

Al-Bursh fully understood the kind of dire situation he was entering. In November, Al-Shifa Hospital came under Israeli attack and he was stranded inside along with his nephew, Abdallah al Bursh, for 10 days. When Israeli troops entered the hospital, they told Al-Bursh to move to the South. He refused and stayed to treat his patients until being forced out. 

“After the Israeli forces besieged us at Al Shifa Hospital for 10 days and asked us to move to the south [of the Gaza Strip], they refused to allow food and drink to enter the hospital,” said Abdallah. “They forced us to relocate to the south, but Dr Adnan refused to comply and decided to take the risk by moving to the north to continue serving people at the Indonesian Hospital.”

Three Israeli whistleblowers have spoken to CNN about abusive practices inside a remote prison camp towards dozens of Palestinian inmates.

The unnamed officials said Palestinian prisoners are subjected to regular “horror” at the Sde Teiman camp in Israel’s Negev desert, including arbitrary beatings, extreme physical restraint, forced stress positions, and medical neglect.

Some prisoners are handcuffed so tightly and persistently that their injured limbs have to be amputated. Others within the facility’s field hospital are left strapped to their beds, forced to wear diapers and eat through straws, according to the whistleblowers.

The assaults on the prisoners, one whistleblower told CNN, are not to gather intelligence but for “revenge”.

“It was punishment for what they [the Palestinians] did on October 7 and punishment for behaviour in the camp,” said the whistleblower.

Completely tracks.  Torture in Israeli prisons is no shocker.  And that country the biggest producers of torture porn -- something we've called out at THIRD repeatedly.  You can't deal with a 'gritty' drama based on an Israeli program that doesn't traffic in torture.  

What happened to Dr. Adnan al-Bursh?

No answers.  Only lies.  And if pressed on a how-did-this-happen, the Israeli government will quickly create new lies.  Like when the international court was hearing about possible genocide in Gaza and the Israeli government put forward the lie that the UN was working with terrorists.  The lie resulted in the US and other government pulling their support for UNRWA -- the UN aid agency for Palestine.  And all these months later?  The Israeli government has moved on to other lies.  They learned early on by lying that they weren't attacking hospitals -- when they were -- that their lie would go out over the airwaves unchecked and become a talking point lacking any reality or evidence to back it up.  

One lie after another but these lies don't conceal the murder of children (over 14,000) or the murders of aid workers, the murders of journalists, the murders of medical workers, the murders . . .

It's been seven months now and the Israeli government just keeps killing civilians and when this pointed out, a group of loons start insisting that this is like Nazi Germany!!!!!  This is what led to concentration camps!!!!

The truth didn't lead to concentration camps.  Lies did that. Lies and whipped up fear which is exactly what's being served up today to justify the continued killings.

President Biden’s striking admission this week that American weapons are killing civilians in the Gaza Strip appeared to mark a turning point in U.S. policy toward Israel — coming days after the Israeli military made its first move on Rafah and before a highly anticipated government report on Israel’s adherence to the laws of war.

While the Biden administration has repeatedly expressed alarm over civilian casualties in Gaza, some former officials say it has drawn out the implementation of laws and policies intended to prevent American weaponry from being used in violation of international humanitarian law.

The breaking point for Biden came Monday, when Israel’s military ordered the immediate evacuation of 100,000 civilians from the southern city of Rafah and seized the border crossing with Egypt, warning it would use “extreme force” against militants in the heavily populated area

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah … I’m not supplying the weapons,” Biden told CNN on Wednesday.


And the response?  THE WASHINGTON POST notes:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is prepared to “stand alone” against its enemies, after President Biden warned that he would halt the flow of certain weapons should Israel invade the city of Rafah. Cease-fire talks aimed at pausing the fighting and freeing hostages still held by Hamas have stalled, as the latest round of negotiations in Cairo ended without a breakthrough.

The killing continues.  Among those killed this week, ALJAZEERA notes, "Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says a World Health Organization (WHO) staff member, his wife and one child were wounded in an air raid that destroyed his home in Rafah on Wednesday.  The staff member’s seven-year-old niece was killed, the WHO head wrote on X."  CNN's Kareem Khadder notes:

Israeli airstrikes targeting a residential building in the Jabalya camp in northern Gaza killed four people overnight, according to Gaza's Civil Defense.

The Israeli strike hit the "Ghuneim" family home, killing Mahmoud Ghuneim and his three children, according to the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza.

Footage of the aftermath shows civil defense teams rushing to remove people from under the rubble and transporting a number of wounded people from the scene.

Nagham Mohanna (THE NATIONAL) notes diplomacy has collapsed again as the violence continues:

Israel intensified its assault on Gaza as truce talks in Cairo failed to secure a deal.

Heavy shelling continued across the besieged enclave while the southern Gaza city of Rafah was hit with artillery strikes. Several deaths were reported, including children.

Witnesses also reported air strikes and fighting in Jabalia, in northern Gaza.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have held talks and agreed on "the importance of urging the parties to show flexibility and make all the necessary efforts to achieve a ceasefire agreement and put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza", Egypt's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Hamas said its delegation has departed ceasefire talks in Cairo and travelled to Doha, saying Israel "rejected the proposal submitted by the mediators and raised objections to it".

Let's drop back to yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians are fleeing Rafah as Israeli airstrikes and shelling hammer the eastern part of the city. Fuel, food, medicine and other supplies have been cut off following Israel’s seizure and closure of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. The main hospital in the area has also been shut down. The World Food Programme cannot reach its food warehouse near the Rafah crossing, and aid groups are warning they have only a few days of fuel remaining before humanitarian operations and all hospitals in Gaza begin to shut down.

Since Monday, the U.N. estimates some 80,000 Palestinians have been displaced from Rafah, where over 1.4 million people have sought refuge. Families uprooted multiple times over the past seven months have nowhere to go. Tent camps in some parts of Rafah have now vanished, springing up again further north along main roads in Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis. Over the past 24 hours, more than 60 Palestinians were killed across Gaza, many of them in Rafah. The death toll in Gaza over the past seven months is nearly 35,000, with more than 78,500 wounded.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Rafah, where we’re joined by Dorotea Gucciardo. She’s the director of development of Glia Project, currently on a medical mission in Gaza, joining us via video stream instead of at a live shot outside the Kuwaiti Hospital in Rafah, because there’s bombing and gunfire in the area, making it dangerous to move.

We thank you so much, Dorotea, for joining us. Can you explain what’s happening in Rafah right now? I think there is the misconception that unless a full-scale ground invasion happens, there’s very little going on. But over the last, what, 24 hours, about 60 people in Gaza have died, overwhelmingly in Rafah.

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: Hi, Amy. Thank you for having me. I’m sorry, you cut out just a little bit there. The internet here is not so good.

The situation on the ground is dire. Everyone here is quite afraid. To say that there’s not an incursion in Rafah right now is patently false. Throughout this entire day, I have heard bombs, explosions, I have heard heavy machine gun fire, and it seems to be creeping closer and closer to where we are in central Rafah.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Dorotea, if you could describe what the situation is in hospitals? You were earlier this week in the last maternity hospital in Gaza, Emirati Hospital. What did you see? If you could describe the situation, the health situation for people in Rafah?

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: Yeah, the situation in the hospitals is tense. People are really anxious. Patients are worried about where they’re going to be able to access healthcare, because as the incursion becomes closer and the threat of the Israeli army approaching the hospitals becomes more real, patients are afraid to go to the hospitals. Doctors themselves are —

AMY GOODMAN: Dorretea Gucciardo has —


AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead. Go ahead, Dorotea.


AMY GOODMAN: Occasionally you freeze, but just keep going.


AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is incredible that we’re able to speak to you there.

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: Thank you. The healthcare providers are afraid to come into work. They are moving their families from east Rafah to west Rafah, to the coast. So, access to healthcare providers is lessening as the threat of invasion looms. Twenty years of blockade in the Gaza Strip means that the healthcare sector was already low-resourced. This is exacerbated by this depraved war that Palestinians have been living through for the past seven months.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what are the medical supplies that people are working with? I mean, we’ve just heard that there’s very little fuel remaining and there isn’t much time before all hospitals in Gaza, of course, including in Rafah, begin to shut down. And I assume the situation in Rafah is worse. If you could explain what you know of what’s happening in hospitals elsewhere and what the threats to hospitals in Rafah in particular are now? For how long can they continue to operate even minimally?

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: Even minimally, if no fuel comes in, we’re looking at a maximum of three days, three days of fuel to supply these hospitals to maintain any level of healthcare. The situation is beyond dire. There were plans — there are ongoing plans to try to bring Nasser Hospital back into working condition. You’ll recall that Nasser was besieged by the Israelis a few times. This is where the mass graves were uncovered. It is not ready yet. So, if we take a look at the NICU in particular, it has five incubators, and it has no staff. There’s no capacity to bring any children that are in the hospital, in Emirati in Rafah, to Nasser for any kind of care. It’s just not functional yet. So, it’s devastating.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’re talking about fuel. There’s also, of course, medical equipment, food that’s not getting in. And what about workers, healthcare workers — we’ve interviewed so many doctors who’ve gone into Gaza to help — if the border area is closed, with the Israeli military moving in and seizing control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border?

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: So, we have been entering through the Rafah border since early January, all of the medical teams that were coming in to work in the hospitals. Those delegations brought with them medical supplies, medicine, equipment, anything that they would need to perform their duties, anything that we could do to plug the holes in the sinking ship. It was the most reliable way to get anything inside of Gaza, and that has been completely cut off. No humanitarian workers can come in. No additional aid is coming in. And, in fact, no humanitarian workers can go out. And that’s also problematic, because people are burning out, and we need to be able to replenish our support.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Dorotea, as we mentioned earlier, you were to join us outside the Kuwaiti Hospital, where we had an AP live shot set up, but you weren’t able to get there because of bombing and gunfire. What’s the situation outside other hospitals? And is Kuwaiti Hospital functioning at all? And if so, at what level? How are people able to — medical personnel able to get in and out, if that’s the situation, if it’s so risky and dangerous in that area?

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: So, you did cut out just a little bit, but I’m assuming you’re asking how we’re moving when the situation is so volatile. We are moving on an emergent need basis. So, the hospitals absolutely require assistance in terms of staffing. We’ve made the decision to continue staffing these hospitals that we are — that we have been working with, because our presence there gives them some measure of encouragement and some measure of hope. And so we’re continuing to supply whatever services we can, while we can, while at the same time monitoring the situation. So, we’re literally taking it hour by hour.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And is it at all possible now, Dorotea, for wounded patients to go anywhere, wounded patients in Rafah to go anywhere for better, I suppose, medical treatment?

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: Their only options are to go up toward Khan Younis, where Nasser Hospital, European Hospital and Al-Aqsa Hospital are located. These are understaffed, overwhelmed. Nasser is nonfunctional.

And let’s not forget the patients that are requiring lifesaving surgeries that would require them to be evacuated out of Gaza. They cannot leave. Two days ago, I watched a baby die that had swelling around its brain. It required a particular kind of surgery that simply could not be done here in Gaza. And the request couldn’t be fulfilled because the Israelis have taken the Rafah crossing.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the stream of humanity, Palestinians who are being told they have to leave areas of Rafah right now? Where are they going? Do you see people on the move for, what, the first, the second, the third, the fourth time, as they already came to Rafah and are already displaced?

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: Sorry, you cut out just a little bit there. Yes, we’re seeing a mass displacement of people. This is a population that has been, on average, displaced at least three times. And to my knowledge, that’s the first time this has ever happened anywhere in the world. The people in east Rafah are trying to move, but do consider that many of them can’t — they can’t afford it. With fuel being so expensive, it’s difficult for them to afford a vehicle to even bring their belongings. So, you’re seeing some in donkey carts. You’re seeing people moving with things in hand, because they just have no other way of shifting from where they are into a supposed safe zone, because, let’s make it very clear, there is no safe zone in Gaza. Every single area of Gaza is subject to attack.

AMY GOODMAN: Dorotea Gucciardo, we thank you so much for being with us. We are just very relieved we could speak to you and that you’re OK, director of development of Glia Project, currently on a medical mission in Gaza, speaking to us from Rafah.

Coming up, we’ll be joined by, well, the now Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nathan Thrall. His book, A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy. He’s usually in Jerusalem. Today he’ll join us from Berlin, Germany. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “Fortunately Gone” by The Breeders, engineered by Steve Albini. The seminal musician and recording engineer died Tuesday at the age of 61 of a heart attack.

Gaza remains under assault. Day 217 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  THE NATIONAL notes, "Gaza death toll reaches 34,904, with 78,514 injured"   Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:


April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "In addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for 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."

Campus protests continue around the world.  THE NATIONAL reports:

Protesters demanding Harvard University disclose and divest from companies linked to Israel said they would “stay in our tents” and continue an encampment in Harvard Yard. 

The Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine group published a post on Instagram on Friday saying that interim Harvard president Alan Garber rejected a proposal that aimed to move the university forward "on transparency and ethical investment” in exchange for taking down the encampment. 

Mr Garber this week warned students involved in the protest that they could face suspension if they did not leave their tents.

 [. . .]

Spanish universities expressed willingness on Thursday to suspend ties with any Israeli educational institution that failed to express "a clear commitment to peace" as the war rages in Gaza.

The university chancellors' governing board denounced the violence in a statement and threw its support behind the protests that have recently appeared on Spanish campuses.

They demanded an immediate end to Israel's actions in Gaza.

The governors pledged "to review ties and, if necessary, suspend collaboration with Israeli universities and research centres that haven't expressed a firm commitment to peace and respect for international humanitarian law".

But the statement did not go far enough to appease students at several protest camps across Spain, which have so far been peaceful.

"What we really want is for the government and the university rectors to meet our demands and cut ties with Israel," Sebastian Gonzalez, 28, a law and political science student told AFP at Madrid's Complutense University.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Flo Rida and Brian Wilson

I like Flo Rida.  My favorite song is probably everyone's favorite: "Club Can't Handle Me."  I love that song.  I even love it as spoken poem on Allen Gregory.  

:D So Flo Rida's in the news.  In fact, the story is about a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court.  REUTERS notes:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a Miami music producer in a legal fight with Warner Music over a song by rapper Flo Rida, finding that there is no time limit for recovering monetary damages in copyright cases that have been filed before the expiration of a statue of limitations.

The 6-3 ruling, authored by liberal Justice Elena Kagan, affirmed a lower court's decision that favored producer Sherman Nealy, who sued a Warner subsidiary and others in Florida federal court in 2018.

Nealy has said that his label Music Specialist owns rights to the electronic dance song "Jam the Box" by Tony Butler, also known as Pretty Tony. Warner artist Flo Rida, whose given name is Tramar Dillard, incorporated elements of "Jam the Box" into his 2008 song "In the Ayer."


In other legal news, Brian Wilson was the creative genius behind the sixties rock group the Beach Boys.  He had a major freak out following 1967's classic PET SOUNDS.  Had that not happened, he might not have destroyed the tapes to the planned follow up album.  Before the freak out, the Beach Boys -- which also included, among others, Brian's brothers Carl and Dennis -- had held their own and grown with each year.  They were not a relic in 1967.  They were very much a contemporary of groups like the Beatles, the Mamas & the Papas, Jefferson Airplane and others.  

Following the freak out, he was often best seen as a lost child.  There was a quack Dr. Levy who kept him a hostage (my opinion).  So things are again not going well for Brian.  That's a shame because he co-wrote some great songs "In My Room," "Good Vibrations," "God Only Knows," "California Girls," "I Get Around" . . . But he's 81 and lived a life and then some.  

A judge found Thursday that Beach Boys founder and music luminary Brian Wilson should be in a court conservatorship to manage his personal and medical decisions because of what his doctor calls a “major neurocognitive disorder.”

At a hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gus T. May approved the petition filed by the 81-year-old Wilson's family and inner circle after the death in January of his wife, Melinda Ledbetter Wilson, who handled most of his tasks and affairs.

“I find from clear and convincing evidence that a conservatorship of the person is necessary,” May said at the brief hearing. The judge said that evidence shows that Wilson consents to the arrangement and lacks the capacity to make health care decisions.

May appointed two longtime Wilson representatives, publicist Jean Sievers and manager LeeAnn Hard, as his conservators.

There were no significant objections raised.

Two of Wilson's seven children, Carnie and Wendy Wilson from singing group Wilson Phillips, asked through their attorney that all the children be added to a group text chain about their father, and that all be consulted on medical decisions. The judge granted the stipulations.

I know Wendy and Carnie are the daughters of Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford.  That was Brian's first wife.  She's still alive.  I always felt for her.  She had been a singer in The Honeys.  She fell in love with Brian and married him.  They had kids.  And then came the freak out.  That must have been very difficult to live through.  Your newly married and your husband is someone that neither you nor he knows.  Add in that you're also trying to be mom and dad and trying not to let the kids see that.  I don't know that she ever did a bad thing in her life but if she did, I'd cut her slack.  (Do not e-mail me that after over a decade married to Brian, she had an affair.  I do not consider that a bad thing.  I consider that a coping mechanism and none of my business.)  That was a lot to carry and Wendy and Carnie are a testament to what a great mom she was.

Apparently I praised Wendy and Carnie recently.  I forgot about that e-mail until just now.  A reader was upset because I praised Wendy and Carnie but he noted that I trash Chynna Phillips.  I never offered anything but kind words for Chynna until last year when she decided to bring on the hateful homophobe Victoria Jackson.

The minute Chyna found Jesus, I thought she was f**king nuts, honestly.  I'm a Catholic.  I'm sure people think I'm nuts -- some people.  But she was nutty.  She was cult like nutty.

But whatever.  That was my attitude.  It's her life.  Hope she's happy.

That changed last year when she brought homophobe and 'fellow Christian' Victoria Jackson on her show.  Victoria is the one on SNL who could never get laughs so she sported her breasts and people laughed at her.  The looks were never that impressive but they're gone and that's apparently left her bitter.  From WIKIPEDIA:

Beginning in 2008, Jackson stated that she believed Barack Obama to be a communist.[5][27][28][29][30] In 2015, she claimed that Obama was an "Islamic jihadist" and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, with members of the organization in his cabinet, and that Obama's support for legal abortion and same-sex marriage showed he was not a Christian.[31][32][33]

In 2011, Jackson criticized the TV show Glee for showing a kiss between two male actors, citing the Bible to justify her criticism. When accused of homophobia, Jackson countered that the label was merely a "cute liberal buzzword" and suggested that Glee be replaced with a show promoting celibacy.[34]

In 2011, Jackson joined the staff of Patriot Update as a writer and video blogger and host of the talk show Politichicks. Co-hosts included Ann-Marie Murrell, Jannique Stewart, and Jennie Jones.[35][36] Jackson wrote a satirical song for "Politichicks" titled "Shariah Law", with the song's lyrics claiming, "They [Muslims] like beheadings and pedophile weddings".[35] Among her work for Patriot Update was a piece on Occupy Wall Street that was critical of the protesters.[37][38]

In 2012, White Hall publishers, part of the Liberty Alliance, released Jackson's autobiography Is My Bow Too Big? How I Went from Saturday Night Live to the Tea Party.[25][39][40]

In 2012, after Todd Akin's remarks regarding pregnancies resulting from rape, Jackson said "If I got raped, I would have the baby. And if I didn't want to keep it because I had these horrible nightmares, I would adopt it out. But I think that God can turn a bad thing into a good thing, and that if I got raped and a beautiful baby who was innocent was born out of it, that would be a blessing."[41]

In 2014, Jackson filed a petition as an independent candidate for one of two District 2 seats in Williamson County, Tennessee. She received 632 votes, not enough to secure either seat against the incumbent candidates.[42][43]

In 2023, Jackson objected to Franklin, Tennessee holding a gay pride parade.[44]

In 2012, when she made her remarks about she would have a baby if it was a rape baby?  She wouldn't.  She couldn't.  She was 53 years old at the time and had stopped menstruation some time ago.

All of these things listed by WIKIPEDIA happened before Chynna brought "my good friend" Victoria Jackson on to her awful YOUTUBE program.

So Chynna's a homophobe.

I would spit on her if I saw her.

I have no problem with Wendy and Carnie.

With Chynna?  I feel so sorry for Michelle Phillips -- a woman who survived everything and that was a lot to survive -- not only did she survived it, she survived it with love.  She remains a genuinely caring person who helps the homeless, the hungry, the people in her community.  She's someone I wish I could be (I'm no where near that) and it's a shame that Chynna had a mother that wonderful and decided to honor that by going homophobe.

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


Thursday, May 9, 2024.  Attacks on Rafah increase, children remain at risk, Joe Biden takes a sort-of stand, students around the world continue to call for an end to the assault on Gaza and much more.

Starting n the US where the presidential election will be held in November later this year.  Robert Kennedy Junior continues to campaign on the crazy as he seeks any part -- even a Tupperware party if they have ballot access.  Having failed in the Democratic Party, Junior became an 'independent' campaign.  Unable to do the work required for that, he's now running with any minor political party that will let him -- no matter how racist they might be.  News of his claiming a brain worm -- dead no less -- to avoid paying his second wife the alimony he owed her has been greeted with worm jokes.  No one seems willing to demand that this man who wants to be president release his medical records.  Possibly that's due to the fact that he never had a worm in his brain to begin with and just lied in court.  

Last month, a large number of Kennedys endorsed Joe Biden for president, a turn of events that presumably stung fellow 2024 hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Now, another member of the family has made his feelings about Kennedy’s candidacy clear, albeit in a slightly more unorthodox way: Jack Schlossberg, a.k.a. John Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg, a.k.a. John F. Kennedy’s grandson.

In a series of videos on Instagram, Schlossberg alternatively inhabited a number of stereotypical personas to criticize his mother’s first cousin. “Jimmy” is a Kennedy fan with a thick Boston accent; “Wade,” a Southerner who works with horses; “Anthony,” an Italian American from Long Island; “Joshua,” an older Jewish man from New York; and “Tiny Tim,” appears to be a…beach bum/east Londoner.

As Jimmy, Schlossberg tells viewers, of RFK Jr.: “You know, I’m a fan of his father. And you know his uncle? Rest in peace. I remember where I was the day he was killed, I mean it was a tragic day, the entire country wept. But listen, that guy, he’s a prick. The new guy, the young guy, he’s a friggin prick. He’s lying to you, alright? ‘Independent,‘ ‘third party,’ yeah freakin’ right. He’s got Trump’s donors. He’s got Trump’s advisers, him and Trump go way freaking back. Don’t be fooled by that. Don’t throw away your vote.”

As Wade, he says: “I want to tell you who I’m voting for this cycle. It’s Biden. And I’ll tell you why: because I think behavior matters and I think the behavior we set for our children matters. I’ve got three daughters and I don’t want them growing up with a president, president Trump 2.0 who’s grabbing stuff, painted orange, and ripping everybody down with no shame. Do I want to vote for Bobby Kennedy Jr.? Doesn’t seem like he shows much respect for anybody neither. He’s lying to us, that’s for sure. Plus, I raise horses. And you can always tell when a horse is being pumped full of testosterone—steroids doesn’t make the horse think any better.”

Donald Trump dyes his hair blond (it's really gray, like every other man his age) but that's a good reminder that elderly Junior is on steroids. Is that why he won't release his medical records?  Maybe he's got complaints in there about having juiced on roids so much he can no longer get an erection?

CNN notes, "Kennedy is officially on the ballot in five states: battleground Michigan, Utah, Hawaii, Delaware and California."  Five states.  Out of fifty.  Forty-five more states to go with the election six months out -- and remember, election day is too late to make the ballot.  He's basically got a little over three months to get on the ballot in the other 45.  

Things just muddle along in the aimless vanity campaign which tried to fundraise May 4th with "Am I Left Or Right?" -- if you don't know, why are you running?  It didn't bring in the money April 30th (when it was "Am I Left Or Conservative?") and it didn't help the campaign this month.  A friend with the campaign (for now) says it's "the biggest mess" he's ever seen.  Heads up, Junior, some of your staff are not there to help you.  Why don't you spend money this week trying to figure out who the spies in your campaign are?

Reminder, Junior believes Gaza should be "leveled."  That's the nutso's belief.  

Since the start of the seven-month Israel-Hamas conflict, powerful US-supplied 2,000-pound bombs have been used in bombardments on Gaza's heavily populated cities.

Now, for the first time, US President Joe Biden has acknowledged that the bombs, which military experts say turn "earth into liquid", have killed civilians in Gaza. 

And the US will be delaying a shipment of thousands of bombs over concerns about Israel's invasion of the southern city of Rafah.

"Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centres," Mr Biden told CNN.

"I made it clear that if they go into Rafah ... we're not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used."

Zeke Miller and Aamer Madhani (AP) observe, "The U.S. has historically provided enormous amounts of military aid to Israel."  THE INDEPENDENT notes, "Shelling has been reported in Rafah overnight, just hours after US president Joe Biden publicly vowed to withhold weapons from Israel if its forces make a ground offensive into southern Gaza."  Glass half full?   DEMOCRACY NOW! noted yesterday, "The New York Times has confirmed reports that the Biden administration withheld sending 3,500 bombs to Israel last week out of fear the bombs could be used to attack Rafah. But the administration has gone ahead with approving another $827 million for other weapons and equipment for the Israeli military. This comes as Politico reports the Biden administration has indefinitely delayed issuing a report to determine whether Israel has violated U.S. and international law in its war on Gaza."

Tuesday, US House Rep Rashida Tlaib released the following statement:

“It’s no coincidence that immediately after our government sent the Israeli apartheid regime over $14 billion with absolutely no conditions on upholding human rights, Netanyahu began a ground invasion of Rafah to continue the genocide of Palestinians—with ammunition and bombs paid for by our tax dollars. Over 1.5 million Palestinian civilians, including over 600,000 children, are trapped in Rafah, living in makeshift tents, without food, clean water, sanitation, medicine, or any form of shelter. Israeli forces have already killed over 35,000 Palestinians, and the families displaced in Rafah will now face even more unimaginable human suffering. Many of my colleagues are going to express concern and horror at the crimes against humanity that are about to unfold, even though they just voted to send Netanyahu billions more in weapons. Do not be misled, they gave their consent for these atrocities, and our country is actively participating in genocide. For months, Netanyahu made his intent to invade Rafah clear, yet the majority of my colleagues and President Biden sent more weapons to enable the massacre.

“There is nowhere safe in Gaza. Nearly 80% of the civilian infrastructure has been destroyed. There is no feasible evacuation plan, and the Israeli government is only trying to provide a false pretense of safety to try to maintain legal cover at the International Court of Justice. Netanyahu knows that he will only stay in power as long as the fighting continues. It is now more apparent than ever that we must end all U.S. military funding for the Israeli apartheid regime, and demand that President Biden facilitate an immediate, permanent ceasefire that includes a complete withdraw of Israeli forces from Gaza, and the release of all hostages and arbitrarily detained Palestinians. I urge the ICC to swiftly issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and senior Israeli officials to finally hold them accountable for this genocide, as is obviously warranted by these well-documented violations of the Genocide Convention under international law.”

Though silent on Wednesday, the Israeli government is commenting today.  THE WASHINGTON POST reports:

Israeli officials on Thursday criticized President Biden’s threat to halt the shipment of U.S. offensive weapons to Israel if the country moves ahead with its long-planned ground invasion of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Biden’s comments were “very disappointing” and would embolden Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, while Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said Israel must “withstand the international pressure” and continue its war “despite President Biden’s pushback and arms embargo.”


While some Palestine defenders on Wednesday welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden's threat to withhold bombs and artillery shells from Israel if it launches a major invasion of Rafah, critics noted that an invasion is already underway and accused the American leader of walking back a previous "red line" warning against an Israeli assault on the southern Gaza city.

Biden said for the first time that he'll stop sending bombs, artillery shells, and other arms to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders a major invasion of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians forcibly displaced from other parts of the embattled Gaza Strip are sheltering alongside around 280,000 local residents.

Referring to Israel's use of U.S.-supplied 2,000-pound bombs—which can destroy an entire city block and have been used in some of the war's worst atrocities—Biden toldCNN's Erin Burnett that "civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers."

Even the U.S. military—which has killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force on the planet since the end of World War II—won't use 2,000-pound bombs in urban areas. But Israel does, including when it launched a strike to assassinate a single Hamas commander by dropping the munitions on the Jabalia refugee camp last October, killing more than 120 civilians.

"If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities," Biden said Wednesday.

Israeli forces have already gone into Rafah, and it was reported Tuesday that Biden was taking the unusual step of delaying shipments of two types of Boeing-made bombs to Israel to send a message to the country's far-right government. It was, however, a mixed message, as the president also earlier in the day reaffirmed his support for Israel's war on Gaza, which the International Court of Justice said is "plausibly" genocidal in a preliminary ruling in January. 

People across the world are watching in horror as scenes of violent crackdowns on peaceful student protests reach the news and social media. Students protesting America’s role in Israel’s mass murder of Palestinians face police in riot gear wielding batons.

In Boston, as police closed in, Amina Adeyola, an Emerson College student organizer working with hundreds of protesters , made an impassioned speech urging the mayor to call off the city’s police. She highlighted that the city ordinance used by the police to arrest protesters was the same one first designed to remove unhoused people from a large encampment just months earlier.

Immediately after her speech, she was arrested. Scenes of Emerson students being dragged, body-slammed, belongings being torn from their hands, were live-streamed on social media. Students reported substantial injuries.

The student protesters implore us to see the interconnectedness of global freedom struggles against systemic oppression and authoritarian force.

As physicians caring for people experiencing homelessness in Boston, we are all too familiar with the anti-homeless ordinance used to arrest the students. The context was different, but the swift crackdown in the name of public health and safety was the same. We see haunting similarities in the use of expanded police power and the weaponization of public health and safety to criminalize dissent and control oppressed groups.

Just a few months earlier, facing a crisis of increasing homelessness and rising housing costs, Boston enacted the new ordinance banning tent camping throughout the city. The mayor called on the police to sweep encampments of homeless communities and to ticket and fine individuals for living outside. While the ordinance required that police first offer storage for belongings and a shelter bed, this seemed disingenuous. The largest shelters in Boston were already full, with people routinely sleeping on the floor.

We vociferously opposed the measure based both on personal experience and on evidence from encampments across the country. After prior sweeps, our patients who were receiving life-saving medications, including treatments for HIV and other serious infections, would disappear—whether in jail, pushed to a more distant encampment, or dead, we often did not know. Disturbing images from previous encampment removals were fresh in our minds: wheelchairs being confiscated and crushed, medications and other crucial belongings being forcibly taken from patients. Mounting public health research shows that law enforcement-led sweeps of homeless encampments do not bring health and safety. They do not result in less violence. They do not result in less drug use. They result in disconnection from life-saving harm reduction services and medical care. They result in more hospitalizations and fatal overdoses.

To hear city officials, including physicians, cite “health and safety” as the motivation for the ordinance was deeply unsettling. The well-being of the unhoused individuals who were ultimately arrested, or pushed into less visible parts of the city, was never the primary concern. Instead of investing the necessary money and time into tackling hard problems—lack of affordable housing, cycles of incarceration and poverty, inadequate addiction treatment—the city chose to expand police power against an already marginalized group.

Today we see this same ordinance wielded against students demanding divestment from Israel’s genocide in Gaza. In defending the police action, Mayor Michelle Wu cited the “health and safety” of Bostonians. The morning after the Emerson College protest crackdown, city workers cleaned up blood from the protest site. It’s difficult to square the sight of protesters’ blood on sidewalks resulting from police violence, with that call for health and safety. How could they do this?

As Adeyola astutely pointed out, we gave them the tools.

Rather than fund housing and other necessary services to prevent homelessness, our elected leaders use our tax dollars to fund police and prisons which are full of unhoused people. Rather than disclose and divest from Israeli apartheid, occupation, and genocide, university leaders invite police forces (often militarized by the Israeli Defense Force) onto campus in the name of student safety, to brutalize and arrest students and their faculty and community supporters.

The student protesters implore us to see the interconnectedness of global freedom struggles against systemic oppression and authoritarian force. They demand that we not shield our eyes from our leaders’ brutal disregard of Palestinian life in the false name of Israeli security. As medical providers, we have an obligation to speak out against the deliberate destruction of Gaza’s critical infrastructure and the mass murder of healthcare workers who are desperately trying to save civilian lives. As healthcare workers committed to the genuine health and well-being of all—whether unhoused people, student protesters, or the people of Gaza—we must denounce everywhere the use of state violence in the name of safety. And beyond rhetoric, we must protect and support those most vulnerable who speak out and demand a more just world. We cannot abandon our young people to risk everything alone. Healthcare workers must be by their sides, flooding every student encampment across the nation. 

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

AMY GOODMAN: College campuses around the world have ignited in a global uprising of students protesting Israel’s assault on Gaza. From New York to Berlin, San Francisco to Sydney, students have set up Gaza solidarity encampments to call for a ceasefire and to demand that their schools disclose and divest from companies with ties to Israel.

Many universities have responded by calling the police onto their campuses to violently break up the encampments. In the U.S. alone, over 2,000 students, faculty and supporters have been arrested at dozens of universities over the past three weeks.

But as the campus crackdowns continue, students at a number of universities have managed to negotiate agreements where administrators have acceded to some of the protesters’ demands. One of the first was Pitzer College in California on April 1st.

Today we’re joined by students from four universities where school administrations have agreed to a number of key demands, such as publicly calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and exploring divestment from Israel.

At Brown University, which came to an agreement last week, we’re joined by Rafi Ash, a sophomore majoring in urban studies, part of Brown Jews for a Ceasefire Now and Brown Divest Coalition. He’s joining us from Providence, Rhode Island.

At Middlebury College, which struck a deal on Sunday, we’re joined by Duncan Kreps, a graduating senior at Middlebury, where he’s majoring in mathematics. He was part of the pro-Palestinian Middlebury solidarity encampment, and he joins us from Middlebury, Vermont.

At Evergreen State College in Washington, which came to an agreement last week, we’re joined by Alex Marshall, a third-year student, joining us from Olympia. Evergreen is the alma mater of Rachel Corrie, the American peace activist killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza March 16th, 2003.

And at Rutgers University in New Jersey, we’re joined by Aseel, a Palestinian student at Rutgers who has family in Gaza. She’s part of Students for Justice in Palestine.

We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Let’s begin at Brown. Rafi Ash, you are a sophomore in urban studies at Brown. Can you talk about the encampment that was set up and then what ensued?

RAFI ASH: Yeah. So, we set up an encampment last — two weeks ago at this point, and our encampment was on the Main Green, our central quad on campus. And we set up for seven days. And while the administration raised its disciplinary threats over the course of those days, that really did not, you know, sway students. And as the administration was trying to start setup for commencement, the pressure grew on them to actually begin to, you know, either force us out or come to the table. And we were able to force them to the table on Monday of last week, and that led to a multiday negotiations process.

And, you know, I think these negotiations didn’t really seem like a possibility before these encampments began, but through them, we were able to actually push to force a vote on divestment, and that’s a vote that’s never happened before at Brown, and that’s something that we’ve been pushing for for a long time, that our Board of Corporation will first have a more informational session on divestment without a vote, but then followed by, at the meeting after, a guaranteed vote. And, you know, that’s not the end of the story. We still have so much more work to do, and we need to make sure that that vote is a yes for divestment. But that was a huge step that came out of an escalatory encampment.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, a while ago, there were a number of arrests on campus. There were protests after Hisham Awartani, who is the Brown student who was shot in Burlington, Vermont, when he and two of his best friends from the Friends Academy in Ramallah, who had come to the United States to go to college, where their families thought it was safer, was shot by a white man off his porch when they were taking a walk on the way to his grandmother’s house. Hisham is now paralyzed. Can you talk about what happened after that and the number of arrests that took place and the administration’s response to that? And are there — the quashing of those charges also a part of this discussion with the administration?

RAFI ASH: Yeah. So, we had, last semester, 61 arrests on campus, 20 of them in early November, before the shooting, and then another 41 in the weeks after Hisham’s shooting. And I think there’s a — it brings it very personal and directly to home that the violence against Palestinians is — that our university is currently complicit in through its endowment. Yes, that affects — that is not only affecting Palestinians in Palestine, but it also incites violence against Palestinians here and against Brown’s own Palestinian students.

AMY GOODMAN: So, at this — 


AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

RAFI ASH: Well, that this makes it very, very personal and very essential to so many Brown students to stand up against the administration’s violence.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Duncan Kreps into the conversation, a senior at Middlebury College at Middlebury, Vermont. Duncan, talk about setting up the encampment and what happened next.

DUNCAN KREPS: Yeah. We set up our encampment, I guess, early morning two Sundays ago and then started engaging with the administration on Tuesday of that following week and had negotiations from there. I think a notable part of our experience is the atmosphere of relative calm that we existed in. We didn’t experience the counterprotests of many other college campuses, and also our administration decided to not send the police in on students, which we want to clarify we believe is the bare minimum for any administrative response to student activism and free speech.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the demands in the negotiations and who is on the team, on both sides, administration and students.

DUNCAN KREPS: Yeah. We met with the four administrators, consistently, representing kind of different aspects of the institution, and then we sent a rotating team of students to kind of spread the burden of those negotiations and also to ensure that various voices are being heard in that room. But all decisions were brought back to the camp and made as a collective.

AMY GOODMAN: And the students took down the encampment?

DUNCAN KREPS: I’m sorry?

AMY GOODMAN: The students took down the encampment?

DUNCAN KREPS: Yes. So, we voted to accept an agreement, after six rounds of negotiations, that came down on Monday, in exchange for significant progress on all five demands. Our administration agreed to call for a ceasefire. And we also made progress on divestment.

The decision to bring down the encampment was a strategic one. We believed that we could assign resources in other ways to continue to put pressure, especially on divestment, and hold the administration accountable to their comments. And we now look towards an upcoming Board of Trustees meeting where divestment will be discussed.

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you care about this issue, Duncan? You’re a graduating math senior at Middlebury College in Vermont.

DUNCAN KREPS: Yeah, I don’t know how I couldn’t. I mean, we see what’s happening. We see the invasion of Rafah happening before our eyes. This feels like the — in many ways, the most horrific thing I’ve seen happen in my lifetime. And being an American complicit in this and being a student at an institution complicit in this genocide directly, I couldn’t imagine standing by and not acting.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to Alex Marshall, who’s across the country, a third-year student at Evergreen State College. Now, Evergreen State College is in Olympia, Washington. It’s the home city of the parents of Rachel Corrie. In fact, it’s the alma mater of Rachel Corrie. She was set to graduate from Evergreen in 2003 and went to Gaza and stood in front of a pharmacist’s home as an Israeli bulldozer was moving in to demolish it, and she was crushed to death by that bulldozer. Alex, can you talk about the protest encampment, when it was set up, and then what you negotiated with Evergreen authorities, the administration?

ALEX MARSHALL: Yeah. Thank you for having me.

So, our encampment was established on Tuesday the 23rd. And negotiations began with administration on the following day, Wednesday the 24th. There was initially a rotating team of negotiators, but then a second team was established to step in on Sunday the 28th. And I was a part of that new team.

Our demands were formulated through a process of consensus within the encampment. And we focused on divesting from companies that are profiting off of the Israel — off of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, changing Evergreen’s grant acceptance policy to no longer accept funding from Zionist organizations that support stifling students’ free speech, as well as a Police Services Community Review Board structure to be created and the creation of an alternative model of crisis response. Evergreen also agreed to prohibit study abroad programs to Israel, Gaza or the West Bank, until the day comes when Palestinian students would be allowed entry. And they also agreed to release a statement calling for a ceasefire and acknowledging the International Court of Justice’s genocide investigation.

AMY GOODMAN: And who were the people who negotiated on both sides, Alex?

ALEX MARSHALL: Well, I was on a team of four. And on the administrative side, it was the vice president of the college and the dean of students.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think was different about your school than places like Columbia, where they called in the police twice?

ALEX MARSHALL: Well, it being Rachel Corrie’s alma mater, I think, is significant. She’s been gone for 20 years, but her memory lives on amongst the student body and the Olympia community at large. Craig and Cindy Corrie came to one of our rallies to speak. And I think her memory — you know, I have learned about her. I’ve read her emails to her parents in multiple classes that I’ve taken at Evergreen, and her memory being so inspiring in that way.

I believe also that Evergreen has an interest in maintaining its image as a college that highly values diversity and equity, working across significant differences and advocating for students’ voices and students’ abilities to exercise their rights to freedom of speech, freedom of protest. And Evergreen is a small college. We’ve had — the college has had a rough few years after the media storm that occurred in 2017. And administration knew that there would be serious repercussions to Evergreen’s image if police were called in.

We are extremely grateful that all of our students were safe and we had no arrests and no students have been written up for policy violations. And I think that that really speaks to Evergreen’s — the culture of Evergreen’s student body as one that really emphasizes taking care of each other and fighting for the struggle for justice.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to end with Aseel, who is a Palestinian student at Rutgers University in New Jersey who has family in Gaza. We’re only using Aseel’s first name because she is concerned about doxxing. Aseel, can you talk about what happened at Rutgers after students set up the Rutgers encampment?

ASEEL: Yeah. Hi. So, last Thursday, we ended our encampment. It was a four-day encampment. And as a result of our collective efforts, we were able to have Rutgers, the Rutgers administration, agree to commit to eight out of 10 demands, which we are like really, really happy about. And I just also want to note that this encampment came in like the span of three weeks, where we did a — like, it was our second encampment, because we revived Tent State University. That’s one.

And another thing, as well, is we are very excited that part of our demands is, number one, that we are going to welcome 10 Gazan students, some of whom we anticipate to be our family members. Another thing is that we are going to finally have Palestinian flags hung, and Holloway is finally going to acknowledge his Palestinian students, finally, and name Palestine and Palestinians in his statements, instead of like the “Middle East region” and “the Gaza region.” And then, not only that, but we are also going to hire additional professors of Palestinian studies, because apparently everyone thinks that this started on October 7th. So, I think that’s pretty important. Another thing is that we are finally going to have an Arab cultural center. “Why didn’t we have one before?” is the real question. We are also going to finally get a Middle Eastern Studies Department. Again, why did we not have one before? Another thing is that we are going to be granted, hopefully — hopefully Rutgers commits to this — amnesty and no suspensions for our encampment. And yeah, I hope I’m not missing anything, but it’s eight demands.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the standard calls for — at these campus encampments has been to disclose and divest. Was that an issue for Rutgers students?

ASEEL: Yes, that was our main reason why we came. We demanded to divest from Israel, from Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism. And also, our second most important demand was to end our relationship with Tel Aviv University and close down the construction of the HELIX Hub, which is right next to the New Brunswick train station. It should also be noted that Tel Aviv University is not just any university. It is a like very prime component of Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism. They manufacture weapons that basically kill my family in Gaza. Not only that, but they also hold the corpses of like 60 to 70 corpses of Palestinians. Just to like also illustrate how close this hits to home is that one of these corpses is the cousin of our beloved professor Noura Erakat. And they basically refuse to give back these corpses, these bodies, to Palestinian families.

We, unfortunately, were not able to get these agreements. However, we did get an agreement to have a meeting with the Joint Committee on Investments, with the Board of Governors, with President Holloway, for divestment, which is a process to divestment. So, this is incredible progress, in our eyes, and to everyone’s eyes, I think, because we had been asking for a meeting for five years, and we finally got one. And that’s why we decided to not get arrested, to not — to leave, basically, the encampment and shut it down, because we got the meeting, we got the eight demands, and we believe that these are just like increment steps towards divestment. But it should be noted that we were more than willing to get arrested. We were actually prepared for it. But we decided not to. And —


ASEEL: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: — you mentioned your family. I wanted to end by asking about your family in Gaza. How are they?

ASEEL: Yeah. So, they are not OK. A hundred members of my — nearly like a hundred members, I think — we don’t know exactly, because of Netanyahu’s psychological warfare of cutting down the electricity and cellular devices to be able to, honestly, reach them. But nearly a hundred of my members were martyred.

And obviously, I still have family left. I am still in contact with them. But they are all displaced. Our family home’s basically destroyed. Even photos, like, just show that, like, on the walls say “Blame Hamas.” And it should be noted that none of my family members are in Hamas, have nothing to do with them. And yeah, like, even the photos of Gaza are just unrecognizable. I can’t even tell, like, where anything is anymore. Photos on my phone of, like, so many memories I had don’t even exist anymore. The Gaza that I once knew is essentially gone. But I am more than confident, along with my family, that we will return and that we will rebuild it.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Aseel, deepest condolences on the death of so many family members in Gaza. Aseel is a Palestinian student at Rutgers University in New Jersey. I want to thank you for being with us; Rafi Ash, a sophomore in urban studies at Brown University; Duncan Kreps, a graduating senior at Middlebury College; and Alex Marshall, a junior at Evergreen State College in Washington.

Coming up, we’ll stay with Rutgers and speak to a professor there, one of 60 journalism professors around the country who have signed a letter to The New York Times calling for it to commission an independent review of a controversial December article alleging Hamas systematically weaponized sexual violence on October 7th. Back in 20 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: RISD, Rhode Island School of Design, students singing at a vigil last night while they barricaded themselves inside a campus building which they renamed Fathi Ghaben Hall after the acclaimed Palestinian artist who died after being unable to get care in Gaza. Special thanks to Democracy Now! fellow Eric Halvarson.

This morning, ALJAZEERA reports, "Dutch riot police have used a bulldozer to break up an anti-Gaza war protest camp at the University of Amsterdam after students refused to leave."  THE NATIONAL reports:

The University of Barcelona passed a motion on Wednesday to cut ties with Israel after students set up a camp on Monday to protest against the war in Gaza.

The students demanded that "governing bodies break institutional and academic relations with any Israeli university, research institute, company or other Israeli institutions".

They called such action a way to put "pressure on the state of Israel until the genocide ends, the Israeli apartheid system is eradicated and the colonisation of Palestine ends".

They also called on the Spanish and Catalan governments to sever relations with Israel, "starting with the end of the arms trade with a state that in the eyes of the world is committing genocide".

Students pledged not to leave the protest camp until they saw concrete action from the universities and Spanish and Catalan governments.

While in the US, AP notes, "Police used pepper spray to clear a pro-Palestinian tent encampment at George Washington University and arrested dozens of demonstrators on Wednesday just as city officials were set to appear before hostile lawmakers in Congress to account for their handling of the 2-week-old protest."  April Rubin (AXIOS) reports:

It's not just colleges: Across the U.S., high school students have been protesting the war in Gaza — and Congress is paying attention.

Why it matters: Young people under the age of 18 have been organizing demonstrations, sit-ins and walkouts at their schools, where the academic year typically extends into June.

  • "Their generation is really defined by a lot of these global protest movements," said Versha Sharma, the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue.

What's happening: High school students across the country have made efforts to demonstrate since the arrests at Columbia University — although some have been thwarted by city or academic authorities.

State of play: For the first time, leaders of K-12 public school districts in a few liberal cities testified Wednesday before the same GOP-led House committee that's grilled the presidents of Harvard and Columbia.

With the dust still settling from protests at Columbia University, former and current students gathered last week to celebrate the career of Rashid Khalidi, one of the West's most prominent champions of Palestine.

Some speakers at the two-day retirement conference drew a line between Khalidi's scholarship and the student protest movement, noting that the now-shuttered Columbia encampments included those who had studied under the Middle East history professor.

But Khalidi, whose latest book on Palestine has been a best-seller since October, said his work has at most played a small role in the uprising.

"I hope that I've had some impact through my writing, but I don't really think that students are endangering their careers because of something that (I) wrote," Khalidi told AFP.

Pointing to social media as a galvanizing force, Khalidi said there was a large part of the younger generation "that feels that moral imperative to oppose what they see on their phones as a genocide."

Gaza remains under assault. Day 216 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  THE NATIONAL notes, "Gaza death toll reaches 34,844, with 78,404 injured ."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:


April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "In addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for 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 editorial board of THE NATIONAL notes:

More than half of the Gaza Strip’s population of two million is sheltering in Rafah – a town of 150,000 that has been transformed throughout Israel’s war.

Among the city’s huddled masses are 600,000 children, all of them with an uncertain future and nowhere else to go.

Unicef, the UN’s children’s agency, has described these children as being “at the edge of survival”. The picture the agency’s staff paint is stark. More than a tenth of the children are thought to have a “pre-existing disability, including difficulties seeing, hearing, walking, understanding and learning”.

Of the 195,000 who are under the age of five, 90 per cent are affected by one or more infectious diseases. These can have catastrophic effects on their health. For instance, empyema, a potentially fatal condition caused by pus pooling around the lungs, is extremely rare in children around the world; doctors in Rafah report it is common among those they treat, as a side effect of communicable disease.

The following sites updated: