Wednesday, February 28, 2024

X-FILES, NCIS spin off

Do we need a reboot of THE X-FILES?

If you could get Gillian Anderson to agree to come back, maybe.  But she wasn't thrilled with the last two so I don't see her coming back for a third.  And she was right to be bothered because Scully did nothing.  

Yet they want to do a reboot.  Without Scully and what's his name.

They can't just invent a new show?  I mean THE X-FILES wasn't ground breaking.  Most of us had already seen KOLCHACK: THE NIGHT STALKER.
That said, this probably makes sense. Tony and Ziva in a spin off of NCIS?  I remember 2013 and all the drama and outcry about Cote de Pablo leaving NCIS.  I'd never really watched the show -- still don't -- and it was all a large number of people could talk about.  She and Michael Weatherly will probably have a hit if it's well written because a lot of people want to see them together.  But if they blow it on the first episode, people will probably drop the show immediately.


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


Tuesday, February 27, 2024.  Starvation in Gaza as the assault continues.

ALJAZEERA notes, "Famine is stalking Gaza as aid agencies struggle to deliver food to the north of the enclave, the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has warned. Humanitarian aid has not reached people in northern Gaza for more than a month, Philippe Lazzarini said on Sunday."  Need examples?  From yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!  

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

We begin today’s show with Israel’s war on Gaza, where a famine is unfolding. The United Nations said today the great majority of some 400,000 Gazans who are at risk of starving are, quote, “actually in famine,” not just at risk of famine. The U.N. World Food Programme says the flow of aid into Gaza from Egypt and the distribution of food that does get through has slowed in the past two weeks.

This comes as the Shehab news agency reports a 2-month-old Palestinian boy named Mahmoud Fattouh died from starvation Friday in northern Gaza, just days after the United Nations warned of an explosion in child deaths due to the lack of food and water.

This is a displaced Palestinian mother sheltering at a school in the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza.

PALESTINIAN MOTHER: [translated] My son is 1 year old. He’s asking for bread, for baby bottle milk. He’s going after me everywhere, asking for a bottle. What would I feed him? There is no milk. There is no bread. There is nothing. There is no food. What will I feed him?

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, in central Gaza, there are two young siblings from Gaza City who are now living in a tent camp near Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. They describe being forced to eat animal feed.

SERAJ SHEHADA: [translated] When we were in Gaza City, we used to eat nothing. We would eat every two days.

SAAD SHEHADA: [translated] My mother, brother and aunts were martyred. We are the only ones left, my father and my two brothers. Due to hunger and poverty, we secretly came to Deir al-Balah. We did not tell our father. After we came here, our grandmother called and started shouting at us. … We used to eat bird food. It was bitter. We did not want to eat it. We used to do so forcibly. We used to have a small loaf every two days. We did not like it, as it was bitter. … We did not have clean water. We used to drink saltwater, and we got sick. We did not have water to wash nor clothes to wear. Where could we have gotten those? We came here.

AMY GOODMAN: The boys are 11 and 9 years old.

This comes as U.N. chief António Guterres warned Monday against a full-scale Israeli military operation in Rafah, where well over a million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge, saying it would deliver, quote, “the final nail in the coffin,” unquote, for aid programs in Gaza, where humanitarian assistance remains, quote, “completely insufficient.”

For more, we go to Cairo, Egypt, where we’re joined by Mosab Abu Toha, a Palestinian poet, teacher, author and founder of the Edward Said Library in Gaza. His new piece for The New Yorker magazine is headlined, “My Family’s Daily Struggle to Find Food in Gaza.” In it, he writes about a message that his brother Hamza posted on social media earlier this month, which included a picture of what he was eating that day: in his words, quote, “a ragged brown morsel, seared black on one side and flecked with grainy bits.” He translates his brother’s Arabic caption, quote, “This is the wondrous thing we call 'bread' — a mixture of rabbit, donkey, and pigeon feed. There is nothing good about it except that it fills our bellies. It is impossible to stuff it with other foods, or even break it except by biting down hard with one’s teeth.”

Mosab Abu Toha, welcome back to Democracy Now! If you can start by responding to what you heard — you got out of Gaza with your children — when you heard that a 2-month-old boy starved to death on Friday in Gaza?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, in fact, this is very scary, because most of the population in Gaza are children. And all my cousins and most of my nephews and nieces are younger than 10. So, none of them would survive if they didn’t have any good food or clean water for days.

Yesterday, I got a video from my brother Hamza showing that my mother and my in-law were digging through the rubble looking for some food, but all they could find were some books that were in my home. So, people are returning to their bombed houses, which is not a safe place to search for food, looking for some food that they used to have in their houses. And the news about the death of some children is really scary, because, as I mentioned, most of the people in Gaza are children.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk more about your brother’s family and what he’s facing right now, and how you’re dealing with this, with your boys and your wife in Cairo.

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, one startling thing is that my 8-year-old boy, whenever we sit to eat or whenever we get a phone call or whenever we try to call our family in Gaza, the first thing my son asks is, “Does my family in Gaza have food? Are they eating?” So, he doesn’t think about anything that has to do with the war itself. He doesn’t say that, “Are they in a safe place? Is there no bombing anymore, God willing?” No, he asks about food, because he knows what it means to have little food when we were living in Gaza, before we left in December. So, every time he hears us talking to our family in Gaza, he would ask, “Does my grandfather have food? Does my grandmother?” Then he starts to mention his cousins’ names. “Is Mustafa, is he eating? Is Nahida eating?” So he starts to mention them by name.

And for me, I feel really, really depressed whenever I go out in the street and find food. So, two days ago, I went and I bought two loaves of bread for about less than a dollar. If I’m taking this, these two loaves of bread, to Gaza right now, I would make a fortune. I would sell them for about maybe $50 — I’m serious — because one — so, yeah, this is very recent news. One sack of bread, which weighs 25 kilograms, is sold for $1,500, because there is no wheat flour. This is yesterday. And now I think the government in Gaza — though there is no government, but some people who worked with the government — are threatening people who are selling these things for very, very staggering prices.

AMY GOODMAN: Has your sister-in-law given birth yet?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Yes, she gave birth to a boy. His name is Ali. And now the boy is 10 days old. And my brother could find something like a gift for his wife. He could find a few pieces of beef and a few grains of rice for $100. So, this wouldn’t even be enough for his wife, who gave birth just 10 days ago. So, although it’s a very expensive thing, he could find these things after a week of search.

AMY GOODMAN: The last time UNRWA was able to deliver food aid to northern Gaza was January 23rd. Since then, together with other U.N. agencies — this is a tweet from Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA. He said, “The last time we have warned against” — it says, “Since then, together with other UN agencies, we have warned against looming famine, appealed for regular humanitarian access, stated that famine can be averted if more food convoys are allowed into northern Gaza on a regular basis. Our calls to send food aid have been denied & have fallen on deaf ears. This is a man made disaster. The world committed to never let famine happen again. Famine can still be avoided, through genuine political will to grant access & protection to meaningful assistance. The days to come will once again test our common humanity and values.” Again, a post on social media by Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, coming as the World Food Programme has also paused its aid delivery to northern Gaza, and, of course, UNRWA under siege. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long tried to get rid of the U.N. agency. And now nearly 20 countries have defunded it, including the country that gave UNRWA the most money, the United States. Mosab Abu Toha, your response?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, I would like the whole world to listen to this. Now Israel is not allowing food into the northern part of Gaza so people would regret not having left it, as Israel was encouraging people to — or, ordering people to leave. And now people are thinking, “OK, if we leave the northern part of Gaza, would it be safe to be in the south?” So, because the first few days and few weeks Israel was telling people and ordering people, “OK, you are safe now. You can take the Salah al-Din Street or the C Street and go to the south, because this would be a safe place for you,” and many, many people left, including me. And I was kidnapped on the way. But many people left, and now they are crowded in Rafah in tents. I have one brother who’s a bodybuilder and weightlifter. He’s a champion. He was a champion in Gaza. And he wrote me yesterday. He said, “Brother, I haven’t left my tent for a week. I’m depressed. I’m about to die.” So, he’s in Rafah, and he’s depressed. And he thinks that he’s going to die very soon. This is one thing.

And the other thing: How many food trucks have been halted from getting into Israel? How many weapons trucks, how many weapon, arms shipments were halted from getting into Israel? Why could Israel stop food trucks from getting in to civilians, when we know that most of these civilians are children, while all the people in the world could not stop the shipping of weapons, destructive weapons, into Israel? I’m not talking here about stopping food trucks from going into Israel, but I’m talking here about weapons. I mean, where is the mind of the people in the world? How could you allow this to happen? You are funding Israel with more weapons and more food, of course. But you are not — we are not asking people to allow weapon trucks into Gaza. I mean, we are not asking for this, because we don’t want this to continue. What we are asking for is that people in Gaza have food and have medicine. And we need to lift the siege on Gaza, because this siege, which has now intensified, did not start today. Gaza has been under siege since 2007. And now we are in the bleakest stages of this siege. Gaza is not only now under siege, but it’s under genocide. So, this is very scary. And I hope the world will not continue to watch and just show us that they are helpless in the face of Israel. And if you can’t get food into Gaza, can you please stop the shipping of weapons into Israel? Because they are killing us every day.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about the International Court of Justice, which has just concluded its six-day hearing on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. This is Ralph Wilde, a representative of the League of Arab States.

RALPH WILDE: The occupation must end. Israel must renounce its claim to sovereignty over the Palestinian territory. All settlers must be removed immediately. This is required to end the illegality, to discharge the positive obligation to enable immediate Palestinian self-administration, and because Israel lacks any legal entitlement to exercise authority.

Second, in the absence of the occupation ending, necessarily, everything Israel does in the Palestinian territory lacks a valid international legal basis and is, therefore, subject to the Namibia exception, invalid, not only those things violating the law regulating the conduct of the occupation. Those norms entitle and require Israel to do certain things. But this doesn’t alter the more fundamental position from the law on the use of force and self-determination that Israel lacks any valid authority to do anything. And whatever it does is illegal, even if complying with or pursuant to the conduct regulatory rules.

I will close by quoting Palestinian academic and poet Refaat Alareer from his final poem, posted 36 days before he was killed by Israel in Gaza on the 6th of December, 2023. “If I must die, you must live to tell my story.”

AMY GOODMAN: That was Ralph Wilde, a representative of the League of Arab States, quoting the late Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer. Mosab Abu Toha, you were a close friend of Refaat. Can you respond to what he said?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, I’m still wondering how Israel could be still a member of the United Nations when we know that it is occupying Palestinian land. I mean, this is, I think, one condition through which Israel joined the United Nations, I think, in the early 1950s, was to stand by, you know, the borders that were set after the partition plan. But now Israel occupies more than 90% of the Palestinian land.

I think what Refaat is asking is how the world is — you know, is unable to control a state that they continue to fund. I mean, they can’t control it, but they continue to fund it. And they continue to cut the funds to the United Nations organization that is trying to support the Palestinian people, not during this genocide, but UNRWA has been supporting people, and I was educated in their schools, and I went to their clinics and got medications for free. And now they are cutting their funding during the most critical time of our lives in Gaza, and also in other parts of the world. So, this really drives me insane, because the world is pretending to be unable to do anything, but they do the opposite: They continue to fund Israel. They send it weapons. They send Israel more fruit and more vegetables and more wheat flour and more gas, but they say, “OK, we can’t stop Israel from killing the children.” And, I mean, I hope that someone — someone — someone would come to explain this to me one time.

And also, one last point before I end with my answer, is that: How many officials from the world came to Gaza to meet with the real people there? If they are saying that Gaza is all Hamas, can you please come to Gaza and meet my mother, my brother, my sibling, Ali, who is now 10 days old? Can you come and meet them and listen to them, what they’re asking for? But it was easy for them to go to Israel and meet with the monsters there who are waging the war and who are inciting to kill more and more people. But they never came to Gaza. I think there is one reason for that: because Gaza does not have an airport. So it was easy for them to fly and land in the land of Israel, because they have an airport. But maybe one reason they couldn’t come to Gaza is that Gaza does not have an airport. I mean, I could try to understand that.

AMY GOODMAN: Mosab Abu Toha, we want to thank you for being with us, Palestinian poet, author, teacher, founder of the Edward Said Library in Gaza. We will link to your new piece in The New Yorker magazine, headlined “My Family’s Daily Struggle to Find Food in Gaza.” His award-winning book is titled Things You Mays Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza.

The risk of “genocide” in northern Gaza is increasing amid rising fears of famine in the region, Oxfam warned in a statement yesterday.

Israel “is ignoring one of the key provisions of the International Court of Justice,” which is to provide “urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance,” said Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Middle East and North Africa director.

The two-month-long golden time of agriculture in the enclave has been “destroyed” under Israeli operations, and the country has restricted lifesaving aid from entering the city, the statement said.

It added that the worst results might come for some 300,000 people in northern Gaza if no proper management and supplementation have been addressed immediately.

US President Joe Biden said that he hopes there’ll be a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict by “next Monday,” as the death toll in Gaza approaches 30,000, according to health officials.

“Well I hope by the beginning of the weekend, I mean, the end of the weekend,” Biden said after being asked when a ceasefire might start during an appearance on Monday at an ice cream shop in New York City with comedian Seth Meyers. “My national security adviser tells me that we’re close. We’re close, it’s not done yet. And my hope is that by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire,” Biden added.     

Do you hope so, Joe?  Do you hope so?  It's a pity you're not in a position to make it happen, right?  Oh.  Wait.  You are.

And while he may be to addeled brained to grasp that, Americans are not.  Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

The historic wave of Jewish-led protests against U.S. complicity in Isreal's genocidal war on Gaza continued Monday as members of the group Jewish Voice for Peace were arrested for occupying NBC headquarters in New York City in a bid to disrupt the taping of President Joe Biden's appearance on a popular late-night TV show.

JVP activists wearing shirts reading "Not In Our Name" unfurled banners and chanted slogans inside 30 Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan, where Biden was taping an interview with the eponymous host of the "Late Night Show With Seth Meyers."

"Biden, Biden, you can't hide, you are funding genocide," the protesters chanted. Banners implored the president to "Stop Arming Genocide" and push for a "Lasting Cease-Fire" in Gaza, where more than 100,000 Palestinians have been killed or wounded and around 90% of the population has been forcibly displaced since the October 7 attacks on Israel. 

  "President Biden's deadly foreign policy has expedited weapons sales to Israel," said Jewish Voice for Peace New York, which also criticized the administration for ignoring the International Court of Justice's provisional ruling last month that Israel is "plausibly" perpetrating genocide, suspending funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and vetoing three U.N. cease-fire resolutions.

"The president needs to start answering to the American people—not the far-right Israeli government indiscriminately bombing the people of Gaza, destroying 70% of infrastructure, including hospitals, universities, and the electricity and water grids," the group added.

Jay Saper of JVP said Monday that "our Jewish tradition teaches us that life is precious."

"As Jewish New Yorkers, we are absolutely outraged that President Biden is actively supporting a genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza," he added.

In addition to taping Tuesday's "Late Night" episode, Biden and Meyers visited the on-site Van Leeuwen ice cream parlor, where the president ordered mint chip in a sugar cone. While there, a reporter asked when there would be a cease-fire in Gaza.

"My national security adviser tells me that we're close, we're close; it's not done yet," Biden replied. "My hope is by next Monday we'll have a cease-fire."

Early in the war, Biden proclaimed his "rock-solid and unwavering" commitment to Israel while refusing to call for a cease-fire. As Israeli bombs and bullets killed and maimed tens of thousands of Palestinians—mostly women and children—the president asked for over $14 billion in additional U.S. military aid to Israel, which already receives nearly $4 billion from Washington annually. Biden also repeatedly circumvented Congress to expedite emergency military assistance to the key Middle East ally.

Even after calling Israel's bombardment of Gaza "indiscriminate" and "over the top," Biden has continued to provide the country with military and diplomatic support.

Demonstrations led by JVP and other Jewish-led groups, chiefly IfNotNow, have filled the streets of cities from coast to coast, shut down major transit hubs, occupied landmarks, disrupted Biden's campaign events, and much more in the name of demanding an immediate cease-fire and an end to U.S. complicity in the Gaza genocide.

"The president needs to start answering to the American people. Not the genocidal Israeli government," JVP activist Eve Feldberg said on Monday. "And the people have made it clear: We want a cease-fire now and weapons embargo on Israel." 

As noted yesterday, Aaron Bushnell set himself on fire to protest the treatment of Palestinians.  At POLITICO, Matt Berg and Alexander Ward write:

There is no more visceral symbol of the growing displeasure with America’s Israel policy than an active-duty airman’s self-immolation outside Israel’s embassy in D.C.

The Air Force member doused himself with a flammable substance and screamed “Free Palestine!” adding that he no longer wanted to be “complicit in genocide.” The airman died Sunday from his injuries.

This, of course, was one person’s action, and the airman’s views don’t necessarily reflect those others criticizing the Biden administration over its handling of the Israel-Hamas war. But the self-immolation is an escalation of the anger from within the government, which until now manifested itself in resignations and hastily called group meetings.

The dramatic moment comes at a precarious time for President JOE BIDEN. While he’s making increasingly strong statements against Israel’s approach in Gaza, those aren’t necessarily keeping up with anger being felt by some of his key constituencies.

There’s a protest campaign going in Michigan, home to many Muslim-Americans, to write in “uncommitted” instead of ticking the box next to Biden’s name. Michigan Gov. GRETCHEN WHITMER said she’s “not sure” what will happen during Tuesday’s primary.

The airman’s very public act could lead those who work in the administration or are members of the services to become more outspoken.

“You’re trying to shock the consciousness” with self-immolation, said DAVID CORTRIGHT, a longtime expert in nonviolent social change who was an active duty soldier when he protested the Vietnam War, told NatSec Daily. “The desire to inspire is absolute there”

NDTV offers this summary of Aaron:

Who was Aaron Bushnell?

  • Mr Bushnell,  originally from San Antonio, Texas, was raised in Massachusetts and went to public schools on the Cape Cod peninsula.
  • Aaron Bushnell studied Computer Software Engineering at Southern New Hampshire University and took Computer Science courses at the University of Maryland Global Campus. 
  • Aaron Bushnell worked as a cyber defense operations specialist in the Air Force's 70th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing. He served with the 531st Intelligence Support Squadron and had been on active duty since May 2020.
  • Mr Bushnell was also an "aspiring software engineer" according to his LinkedIn profile. He had been employed at a San Antonio-based company called DevOps from March 2023 until the current month. 
  • In his LinkedIn profile, Mr Bushnell mentioned graduating "top of class" from Air Force basic training in November 2020.  He had a “talent and a passion for solving complex problems with code.” 

 Gaza remains under assault. Day 144 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."  NBC NEWS notes, "More than 29,780 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 70,000 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead. ." Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."   

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