Thursday, May 9, 2024

A 35 year old woman doesn't need to be mocking a 20 year old

Jojo Siwa?  I have a niece who went to Chicago back in 2015 or so to see her in concert as part of some kids event.  That's pretty much all I know about Jojo. Louis Chilton (THE INDEPENDENT) reports:

A new Saturday Night Live sketch mocking 20-year-old child star-turned-pop musician Jojo Siwa has prompted a divisive reaction from audiences.

During yesterday’s (4 May) episode of the popular US variety show, Chloe Fineman appeared as Siwa during the Weekend Update section.

Siwa, 20, has been the subject of ridicule online in recent weeks after rebranding herself as an “edgy” pop star, wearing garish black outfits inspired by the rock band KISS. She was also criticised for claiming to have invented a “new genre” of music called “gay pop”.

You know what I think?  I think SNL is wrong, so wrong.  I wasn't until I looked up Chloe Fineman.  I thought she was 20 or 22.

She's 35.  That's way too old to be on SNL, by the way.  With ratings have been bad all year (Ryan Goslin's episode was one exception), they might need to grasp that for their desired young audience  40-year-old Michael Chea (41 later this month)  and 41 year old Colin Jost (42 in June) are grandparents.  

But there's no reason, ever, for a 35-year-old to mock a 20-something.

Chloe's too damn old.  And she's too damn old for the show in my opinion. 

Tina left SNL when she was in her 30s.  There's no reason for two old men to be hosting WEEKEND UPDATE on SNL and there's no reason period for two men to be hosting.  They aren't funny.  They think they are and they have this weird sexual vibe they give off where it's like Che's the dom and Jost is the sub.  But they don't have the jokes.

Lorne Michaels needs to put all the senior citizens -- yes, that includes Keenan -- off the show.  Give them a gold watch and bring in young people.

One more time though: It is never a good look for a 35 year old to make fun of a 20 year old.  Chloe Fineman should be ashamed of herself.


This is 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.

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