Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The number one film at the box office Christmas Day

Weekend box office?  I don't give a damn.  Why?  We've got a weekend box office that doesn't include Christmas Day.  It was four days of weekend.  That includes Monday.  If Monday were Memorial Day, they would have included it in the weekend -- as they do every year.  I'm sick of the nonsense.  On Christmas Day, the number one film, with $18 million, was THE COLOR PURPLE.  It's a film worth seeing.

Let me offer instead this:

10 shows that made 2023 a little better

The illegitimate and crooked Supreme Court, constant attacks on LGBTQ+ people, school shootings, Ron DeSantis insisting that slavery was nothing more than a needed trade school, the assault on Gaza and so much more helped make 2023 a really bad year -- one worth escaping from at any chance you were given.  Here are twenty-three TV shows that provided release in the last 12 months.



3) FARGO (FX and HULU)






















That's a piece we did at THIRD.  Because the holiday, no one could pull it together except for Ava and C.I.  They wrote their "TV: The Garbage Trash Media -- we're talking CBS NEWS and CRAPAPEDIA" by Sunday morning hoping others would pull stuff together for the edition.  That never happened.  C.I. was trying to think of something that could be done and thought of something that she and I had been talking about so she called and asked if I wanted to work on it -- absolutely.  It's "Two things on TV that need to go."  C.I. was writing at THE COMMON ILLS when she thought of that and noted there she was going to ask me.  Ann, Rebecca and Trina read that when it went up and they ended up joining to help with the edition.

And Ava and C.I. had a list of the ten best shows for this year.  We thought we could add some more to it and since it's 2023 . . . we decided to come up with 23 shows total.

I was really glad WOLF PACK was already on there because I found out today that it's still not been renewed.  That is a great show and the only show worth watching on PARAMOUNT+.  There needs to be a season two. 

 And I need to see FELLOW TRAVELERS.  I'm going to stream that by the weekend if not sooner. 

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Tuesday, December 26, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues.

REUTERS notes, "Pope Francis said in his Christmas message on Monday that children dying in wars, including in Gaza, are the 'little Jesuses of today' and that Israeli strikes there were reaping an 'appalling harvest' of innocent civilians."  The comments meant nothing to Benjamin Netanyahu -- War Criminal and prime minister of Israel. THE IRISH TIMES notes, "In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Mr Netanyahu reiterated three prerequisites for peace: Hamas must be destroyed, Gaza must be demilitarised, and Palestinian society must be deradicalised."

The War Criminal knows full well that every bomb he drops, every life he takes only radicalizes the people in Gaza all the more.  He's used collective punishment from the start because he is a War Criminal.  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:


In an unsparing Christmas sermon delivered from the occupied West Bank over the weekend, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac decried the complicity of the church and Western governments in Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza, a nearly three-month military campaign that he called an "annihilation" and a "genocide."

"Leaders of the so-called 'free' lined up one after the other to give the green light for this genocide against a captive population. They gave the cover," Isaac, a Palestinian Christian theologian, said during a service titled, "Christ in the Rubble: A Liturgy of Lament."

"Not only did they make sure to pay the bill in advance, they veiled the truth and context, providing political cover. And, yet another layer has been added: the theological cover with the Western Church stepping into the spotlight," Isaac added. "Here in Palestine, the Bible is weaponized against us. Our very own sacred text... The theology of the empire becomes a powerful tool to mask oppression under the cloak of divine sanction."

With most of the territory's population struggling to survive under the intertwined threats of starvation, disease, and near-constant bombing, Isaac said that "Gaza today has become the moral compass of the world."

"If you are not appalled by what is happening, if you are not shaken to your core, there is something wrong with your humanity," Isaac said from Bethlehem, which Israeli forces attacked on Monday. "And if we, as Christians, are not outraged by this genocide, by the weaponizing of the Bible to justify it, there is something wrong with our Christian witness, and we are compromising the credibility of our Gospel message. If you fail to call this a genocide, it is on you. It is a sin and a darkness you willingly embrace." 

And now the Israeli government is targeting The Red Cross.  THE NATIONAL notes:

Israeli shelling has hit the Palestinian Red Crescent's headquarters in Khan Younis, it said on Tuesday.

Israeli strikes have been getting closer to the headquarters, adjacent to Al Amal Hospital, both which shelter 14,000 displaced people. 

[. . .]

The Palestine Red Crescent said that artillery shelling targeted the upper floors of its headquarters in Khan Younis, causing several injuries among the displaced people.

At what point do world leaders start listening to their populations and end this assault?  

THE GUARDIAN explains what's going on in the video above:

As he vowed to continue the war during a speech in parliament, relatives of the hostages interrupted him and called for their immediate return. “Now! Now!” they shouted.

Families who have been awaiting their loved ones’ return after 80 days in captivity booed the prime minister, as Netanyahu said Israeli forces needed “more time” to increase military pressure on Hamas, which he argued would help to secure the captives’ release.

Later, protesters gathered near the defence ministry headquarters in central Tel Aviv before a war cabinet meeting, holding posters demanding “Free our hostages now – at any cost!”

On Monday, the opposition leader, Yair Lapid, said Israel needed to “bring the hostages home now”, adding: “We are not doing enough.” His comments were met with applause from the families of hostages.

Presently, the narrow Netanyahu majority in the Parliament believes that “nothing can stop us.” Presently, they are right.

Joe Biden and Congress are vigorously enabling the annihilations. The UN is frozen by the Joe Biden administration’s vetoes in the Security Council against ending the carnage in Gaza. The Arab nations either lay in ruins – Syria, Iraq – or are too weak to cause Israeli generals any worry. The rich Arab nations in the Gulf want to do business with prosperous Israel and, other than Qatar, care little about their Palestinian brethren.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are no obstacle. Israel, along with Russia and the U.S. do not belong to the International Criminal Court. The Palestinian Authority is a party, but the practical difficulties of investigating Israeli war crimes in Gaza and apprehending the accused are insurmountable. The ICJ’s jurisdiction requires a country to bring Israel before the Court for war crimes or genocide. In any event, the Court’s lead-footed procedures trespass on eternity. So much for international law and the Geneva Conventions. Netanyahu rejects the moral authority of seventeen Israeli human rights groups, including Rabbis and reservist soldiers. Their open letter to President Biden in the December 13, 2023 issue of the New York Times on “The Humanitarian Catastrophe in the Gaza Strip” was ignored by the media despite the truth and courage it embodied.

In the U.S., protests and demonstrations are everywhere. Many are organized by Jewish human rights groups such as Jewish Voice for PeaceIf Not NowStanding TogetherVeterans for Peace and various student organizations. Everywhere Biden travels there are people from all backgrounds protesting.

A few days ago, the first protests by labor union members occurred in Oakland, California. Union activists could turn their attention to why, for years, union leaders put billions of dollars into riskier lower-interest Israeli bonds rather than U.S. Treasuries or bond funds investing in America. Like U.S. weapon deliveries, purchases of Israeli bonds by states, cities and unions have surged since October 7th.

Pope Francis, informed of the Israeli attack on the only Catholic Church and Convent in Gaza, which housed people with disabilities, killing and injuring Christians sheltering there, sorrowfully said: “Some would say, ‘It is war. It is terrorism.’ Yes, it is war. It is terrorism.”

Gaza remains under assault.  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 now well over 18,000. NBC NEWS notes, "The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and an estimated half face starvation amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis."  ALJAZEERA notes, "On Friday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 20,057 Palestinians have been killed and 53,320 wounded in Israeli attacks since October 7, when the current conflict broke out."  In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."  Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X on Monday that staff at Al-Aqsa had reported receiving around 100 casualties. He said the WHO team at the facility had heard "harrowing accounts shared by health workers and victims of the suffering caused by the explosions."

"One child had lost their whole family in the strike on the camp. A nurse at the hospital suffered the same loss, with his entire family killed," Tedros said.

Tedros emphasized that the hospital is above capacity and warned that "many will not survive the wait."

Sean Casey, a WHO emergency medical teams coordinator, described in a video posted by Tedros watching a 9-year-old boy die due to brain damage he suffered after being wounded by shrapnel in a building explosion. Casey said the only way Al-Aqsa hospital workers could help the child was to sedate him "to ease his suffering as he dies," because the facility didn't have the capacity to treat complex neurological cases. Casey said the operating theaters at Al-Aqsa were working 24 hours a day, yet people were still waiting hours and even days for treatment.

Where is US President Joe Biden in all of this?

Earlier this week, a coalition of six national security Democrats authored a letter to Biden sounding the kinds of warnings that longtime left-wing critics of both Israel’s current war and its treatment of the Palestinians have issued, urging the president to “use all our leverage to achieve an immediate and significant shift of military strategy and tactics in Gaza.”

“The mounting civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis are unacceptable and not in line with American interests,” they wrote. “We also believe it jeopardizes efforts to destroy the terrorist organization Hamas and secure the release of all hostages. . . . [Y]ou can’t destroy a terror ideology with military force alone. And it can, in fact, make it worse.”

What’s significant about this is that nearly all the Democrats making these points are not only centrists specifically recruited to flip Republican-leaning districts, but each has a background in the military or intelligence. Of the five that were recruited in 2018’s “Red to Blue” program, three — Reps. Jason Crow (D-CO), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) — served in the US military in different capacities, while two — Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) — worked for the CIA. The sixth, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), is a former Marine who served four tours of duty in Iraq and was considered a top centrist recruit in the 2014 elections.

This is only one sign that the supposed domestic political constraints forcing Biden to continue supplying and giving political cover for Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians are not nearly as rigid as we might expect.

There has been a spate of polls since roughly late October, as antiwar protests around the world and country gained momentum and news of the horror out of Gaza intensified, showing that Biden’s support for Israel’s campaign hasn’t rebounded his approval numbers as his team had expected — and in fact, has only eroded them. Since then, more polling has borne this out, including a Gallup survey conducted in November and CBS News/YouGov poll carried out in December. That second poll found approval for Biden’s handling of the war had dropped among Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike since October, and that a larger share of Americans (34 percent) thought Biden was making a peaceful resolution of the conflict less likely than more so (24 percent).

Perhaps the most high profile of these polls was the recent New York Times/Siennna College survey, carried out in mid-December. Though framed by the paper as suggesting that Biden has “few politically palatable options” on the war, a closer look at the numbers suggests otherwise: a 44 percent plurality of Americans think Israel should stop the war, compared to the 39 percent who think it should continue, and 48 percent believe Israel isn’t doing enough to avoid civilian casualties, compared to only 30 percent who believe it is. Far from deftly navigating a political tightrope, it would seem that Biden is fully leaning into the more unpopular position among the US electorate.

At ELECTRONIC INTIFADA, Michael F. Brown offers:

The president – “Genocide Joe” to many – is frustrated that he’s free-falling in polls, among other reasons due to his support for Israel’s devastating onslaught against Gaza. But the “indiscriminate bombing” comment is less likely to shore up his support among young voters than get the attention of those examining Israeli and US war crimes in Gaza and quite possibly the West Bank.

On Saturday, Biden told assembled journalists his conversation that day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “private.” Then, in response to an additional question on the subject, he reiterated that he “had a private conversation” before noting he had not asked for a ceasefire.

Message received: It’s private and he’s not pushing for a ceasefire even as Netanyahu and Israel continue to bombard Gaza.

Joe's risking not only a second term, he's risking his legacy as  Akbar Shahid Ahmed points out this morning at HUFFINGTON POST:

Visiting the State Department 10 days after his inauguration, President Joe Biden said his foreign policy would prioritize an approach to diplomacy defined by: “defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.”

Nearly three years later, Biden’s handling of the biggest international crisis of his presidency — a shock Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and a devastating U.S.-backed Israeli campaign of retaliation since — has shattered any credibility he had in claiming those guiding lights.

Biden’s narrative of championing human rights globally crumbled in striking ways throughout his presidency. But foreign affairs watchers say his actions over the last three months have dealt a knockout blow to that image — and to Biden’s pledge to represent America in the world in a meaningfully more humane way than his predecessor and likely 2024 presidential election rival Donald Trump.

“Biden and his administration told us in their own words … how all this stuff is important, so this is the standard that they created for themselves,” said Yousef Munayyer, a senior fellow at the Arab Center think tank. “The scale of destruction of Palestinian life, the mass killing, the cruelty that we’re seeing the United States support and stand by is unlike anything we have ever seen, and not like anything we saw during the Trump administration.”

Israel’s onslaught in Gaza, where Hamas is based, has killed more than 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority women and children, local health officials say, and displaced nearly 2 million people. The Biden administration has rejected nearly all global calls to force Israeli restraint. Officials say they are encouraging Israel to avoid hurting civilians, but repeatedly note it is establishing no red lines in support for the U.S. ally that the president has long defended, even despite concerns from other Israel supporters who see its war strategy as self-defeating.

The U.S.’s reluctance to rein in Israel drove United Nations Secretary General António Guterres to invoke a rarely used emergency article of the U.N. charter for the first time in his seven-year tenure, and has sparked huge anxiety among American partner nations and U.S. officials.

The internal effect of Biden’s hardline views on Israel-Palestine was clear to Josh Paul, a veteran State Department official who resigned over the Gaza policy in a development first reported by HuffPost. “I have had my fair share of debates and discussions,” he told HuffPost in his first interview after quitting. “It was clear that there’s no arguing with this one.”

Widespread frustration among rights proponents and international relations experts extends to the rest of the Biden administration, notably controversial advisers like White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk.

Yet the president’s specific influence over foreign policy makes the Biden administration’s rights record even more disturbing for many observers.

Joe appears ro be losing on every front.  CNN notes:

The US military carried out airstrikes in Iraq that targeted three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, likely killing several militants, according to US officials. The airstrikes were a retaliatory response after the Iranian-backed militant group claimed credit for an attack on US forces Monday that injured three troops, the White House said. Kataib Hezbollah aims to expel US and coalition forces from Iraq and set up an Iranian-aligned government there, according to the US Director of National Intelligence website. The group also operates in Syria.   

ALJAZEERA adds, "US bases in Iraq and Syria have come under more than 100 attacks by Iran-aligned forces since the start of the Gaza war on October 7, but the attacks had not left any US service members seriously injured before.  The US Central Command, charged with operations in the Middle East, claimed its strikes on Tuesday “destroyed the targeted facilities and likely killed a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants” without causing civilian casualties."

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