Monday, May 13, 2024

Weekend box office

 Weekend box office via THENUMBERS.COM:

1 N Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes 20th Century… $58,400,788   4,075   $14,331 $58,400,788 1
2 (1) The Fall Guy Universal $13,699,600 -51% 4,008 +6 $3,418 $49,696,520 2
3 (3) Challengers Amazon MGM S… $4,376,617 -42% 2,609 -868 $1,678 $37,766,203 3
4 (4) Tarot Sony Pictures $3,400,329 -48% 3,104 n/c $1,095 $11,965,748 2
5 (5) Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Warner Bros. $2,612,517 -42% 2,531 -353 $1,032 $191,908,060 7
6 (7) Unsung Hero Lionsgate $2,549,578 -15% 2,272 -560 $1,122 $17,085,280 3
7 (8) Kung Fu Panda 4 Universal $1,829,865 -27% 2,111 -269 $867 $191,001,940 10
8 (6) Civil War A24 $1,804,642 -49% 2,204 -485 $819 $65,214,840 5
9 (2) Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace 20th Century… $1,436,959 -84% 2,700 n/c $532 $486,556,505 1,304
10 (9) Abigail Universal $1,140,830 -51% 1,641 -997 $695 $24,793,330 4

So GODZILLA X KONG is now at 191 million domestically and at number five.  I would love to see it hit 200 million domestically but I don't think that's going to happen.  Too many movies coming out now.

KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES made it to number one.  $54 million.  Will it make $100 million domestically? I don't think so but I really did not like the film (nor did my nieces and nephews and they wanted to see it).  

GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE is out of the top ten and still hasn't made $112 million domestically.  The 2016 film GHOSTBUSTERS which was supposedly such a box office disappointment made more money ($128.3 million domestically).  I did not love that movie.  I felt they tried to turn grown women into girls by refusing to allow any of them to be adults and instead we in the audience had to mock them singing "Look at me I'm Sandra Dee lousy with virginity . . ."

In other news, Palestinian hater Jerry Seinfeld gave a commencement:

Dozens of students at Duke University showed their support for Palestine by staging a walkout during Jerry Seinfeld’s commencement address on Sunday.

Footage of the graduation ceremony shared on social media sees students chanting, waving Palestinian flags, and departing the event following Seinfeld’s introduction. 

The Jewish comedian — who has been a vocal supporter of Israel — looked on as students chanted “Free Palestine” and boo-ed his entrance. 

I would quote the comment his wife Jessica 'wrote' on INSTAGRAM; however, since she plagiarized the cook book she 'wrote,' I don't want to have to issue a correction when we find out the airhead didn't write INSTAGRAM comment either.


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


Monday, May 13, 2025.  The death toll in the ongoing assault on Gaza has reached 35,000 and still no end in sight, students protests continued across the US, Antony Blinken did a very weak version of 'tough guy' for the media, and much more.

Four people, including a child, were killed when Israeli forces bombed a house in the eastern part of the southern city of Rafah, Palestinian state news agency Wafa reported.

The victims were taken to the Kuwaiti Hospital. Their deaths bring the overall toll in Gaza to 35,034 people, the enclave's health authorities said. The majority of the dead are women and children.

Over 14,000 of the dead are children.  There are also medical workers and aid workers on the list as well as journalists.  Yesterday, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a list of the journalists known to have been killed and, in the preface to the list, noted:

The Israel-Gaza war has taken a severe toll on journalists since Hamas launched its unprecedented attack against Israel on October 7 and Israel declared war on the militant Palestinian group, launching strikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip.

CPJ is investigating all reports of journalists and media workers killed, injured, or missing in the war, which has led to the deadliest period for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992.

As of May 12, 2024, CPJ’s preliminary investigations showed at least 97 journalists and media workers were among the more than 35,000 killed since the war began on October 7—with more than 34,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza and the West Bank and 1,200 deaths in Israel.

The press would have you believe another milestone was reached: The US government standing on its hind legs.  But it still crawls despite articles like this insisting "No ‘credible plan’: U.S.′ Blinken issues harshest criticism yet of Israel’s Gaza operations:"

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued harsh words for Israel, criticizing its operations in the Gaza Strip and saying it lacked a plan to protect civilian life ahead of an expected assault on the city of Rafah, where more than 1.2 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering.

“We believe two things,” Blinken said in an interview with CBS’ “Face The Nation” that aired Sunday.

“One, you have to have a clear, credible plan to protect civilians, which we haven’t seen. Second, we also need to see a plan for what happens after this conflict in Gaza is over, and we still haven’t seen that.”

That's the 'harshest' the administration has been in the seven months of killing?  That's still mighty weak and mighty pathetic.  This morning, THE NATIONAL notes:

amilies fleeing to Khan Younis amid Israeli attacks on Rafah are returning to "extensive damage" in the city, with no clean water available, according to the UN's relief agency for Palestinian refugees.

"A new level of desperation, unfolding under the world's watch," UNRWA said, publishing video footage of a badly-damaged UN shelter in the city. 

  Over the seven months of Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza, the United States has worked vigorously to offer maximum support for Israel while trying to give the impression that it is concerned about the massive loss of Palestinian life. The performance has been difficult to maintain, as virtually every American action contradicts the occasional words of concern for the devastation being fully abetted and enabled by American policy.

In recent weeks, political pressures have forced President Joe Biden to try to take more concrete steps to deter what he considers “excessive” Israeli actions. Such Israeli actions—which apparently do not include killing over 35,000 people; wounding over 78,000 more; completely destroying the health, education, and civic infrastructure in Gaza; and a daily flow of war crimes—raise concerns in the White House that Israel’s image around the world is becoming one of a genocidal regime and that image is reflecting on its American patron.

Rafah has become the focal point of this concern. Biden was prepared to support the horrors of the past seven months, but with some 1.4 million people stuffed into Rafah (an area that was crowded when it was home to 275,000 people before Israel’s onslaught), he realizes that a full-scale ground invasion of the kind that we witnessed in most of Gaza will cause a horror show that even Americans and Europeans—most of them, anyway—will not be able to abide.

Israel’s closing of the Rafah crossing; its assault that has forced over 100,000 Palestinians, who had already been displaced, many multiple times, to flee once again; and its devastation of an already devastated area does not meet the American standard of a “major ground operation.”

So Biden made a statement. “Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “I made it clear that if they go into Rafah—they haven’t gone in Rafah yet—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—that deal with that problem.”

Those words, in typical Biden fashion, were as clear as a muddy lake and left massive amounts of wiggle room for the White House to continue to arm Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. They also provided a roadmap for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to follow if he wishes to continue his genocidal campaign and not risk harming the one aspect of Israel’s relationship with the U.S. that Netanyahu cares about: the inexhaustible supply of arms.

Biden’s words are the latest in a series of statements and actions meant less to deter Netanyahu than to deter protesters and the voters who have been abandoning him in large numbers over his genocidal policy in Gaza. As we have seen over the past seven months, these words have, at best, pressed Israel to slow its genocidal attacks just a little and occasionally relent in some small, largely symbolic way, in its staunch efforts to block humanitarian aid from reaching the people in Gaza. 

In related news, if there's something you want to be able to say you didn't hide it from the press, you release it on Friday in a Friday news dump so the corporate press will largely ignore it.  That happens with the US State Dept report on the government of Israel's actions in Gaza.  


Ellen Knickmeyer, Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee (AP) report:


The Biden administration said Friday that Israel’s use of U.S.-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law but that wartime conditions prevented U.S. officials from determining that for certain in specific airstrikes.

The finding of “reasonable” evidence to conclude that the U.S. ally had breached international law protecting civilians in the way it conducted its war against Hamas was the strongest statement that the Biden administration has yet made on the matter. It was released in a summary of a report being delivered to Congress on Friday.

But the caveat that the administration wasn’t able to link specific U.S. weapons to individual attacks by Israeli forces in Gaza could give the administration leeway in any future decision on whether to restrict provisions of offensive weapons to Israel. 

Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

Foreign policy and human rights experts on Friday sharply condemned the Biden administration's delayed report to Congress about Israeli assurances regarding U.S. weapons use in the Gaza Strip and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The historic assessment stems from National Security Memorandum 20, which President Joe Biden issued in February. NSM-20 requires Secretary of State Antony Blinken "to obtain certain credible and reliable written assurances from foreign governments" that they use U.S. arms in line with international humanitarian law (IHL) and will not "arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance." 

  The section on Israel—which spans about a third of the 46-page report—says that "given Israel's significant reliance on U.S.-made defense articles, it is reasonable to assess that defense articles covered under NSM-20 have been used by Israeli security forces since October 7 in instances inconsistent with its IHL obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm."

However, "we are not able to reach definitive conclusions on whether defense articles covered by NSM-20 were used in these or other individual strikes," it continues, listing examples that include the April strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen workers.

While noting that "Israel has not shared complete information" to verify U.S. weapons use, the report concludes that Israeli assurances are "credible and reliable so as to allow the provision of defense articles covered under NSM-20 to continue."

Israel also "did not fully cooperate" with the U.S. and international "efforts to maximize humanitarian assistance flow to and distribution within Gaza," the report states. While expressing "deep concerns" about Israel's action and inaction regarding much-needed relief, the document adds that "we do not currently assess that the Israeli government is prohibiting or otherwise restricting the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance within the meaning of Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act."

The report was initially due to be sent to Congress on Wednesday. Calling its release a "Friday news dump," Palestinian American political analyst Yousef Munayyer said, "This would be comical, if it wasn't aiding genocide."

Democracy for the Arab World Now executive director Sarah Leah Whitson took aim at the State Department, which she said "sinks to uncharted lows in twisting both the facts and the law to absolve Israel of responsibility for its well-documented use of U.S. weapons to commit war crimes and hindrance of U.S. humanitarian aid delivery."

"The State Department's report dutifully regurgitates every hoary defense Israel has long offered the world to justify its indefensible savagery in Gaza using U.S.-taxpayer funded military assistance," she continued. "It wants the world to reject the evidence of our eyes and ears with utterly implausible excuses."

"The State Department is seeking to create new loopholes in the law that don't exist, at once acknowledging that Israel HAS used U.S. weapons in violation of the laws of war and HAS hindered aid delivery, but excusing them from sanctions by claiming they are 'individual' violations and that Israel is remedying them," she added. "The law provides no such carve-outs from enforcement, and by the way, they're also utterly false claims."

Many critics of the war—called plausibly genocidal by the International Court of Justice in January—praised how detailed the document is but blasted its conclusions, which conflict with those of former State Department officials, U.S. lawmakers, and relief groups.

Doctors Without Borders issued the following statement on the report:

The Biden administration has delivered a report on whether Israel is conducting its war in Gaza in a way that violates international laws and impedes the delivery of US-supported humanitarian aid. 

The US Department of State’s report concluded that it is “reasonable to assess” that Israel has violated international humanitarian law in Gaza, though there is not enough information available to verify if any US weapons were used in specific incidents that contravened the law or US weapons policy.

In seven months, 35,000 people—mostly civilians—have been killed, including nearly 500 health workers. Israeli forces have obstructed aid by attacking humanitarian convoys and bombing and raiding hospitals. They have forced medical staff to hastily evacuate health care facilities and leave patients behind.

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) alone has been attacked 20 times, and five of our colleagues have been killed.

Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF USA, said of the report:

“The Biden administration’s analysis of Israel’s war in Gaza has not proceeded as a good faith effort to uphold US law. Instead, excuses about the impossibility of monitoring the deployment of American assistance serve to deflect responsibility.

The horrific reality we witness on the ground in Gaza is that Israeli military operations continue to maim and kill civilians and block the provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid. This can’t be chalked up to unintended consequences of war; the massive death, destruction, collective punishment, and forced displacement are the result of military and political choices that blatantly disregard civilian lives.

As the leading provider of military and financial support to Israel, the US has an obligation to assess if the conduct of the war is consistent with international and US laws designed to protect civilians and to apply the appropriate legal procedures.

The horrific reality we witness on the ground in Gaza is that Israeli military operations continue to maim and kill civilians and block the provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid.

Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF USA

While Israeli authorities have taken some measures to allow humanitarian access, steps taken thus far fall far short of what it promised and what is needed in a place where 85 percent of the population has been forced from their homes. Many live in makeshift tents without even basic necessities such as food, clean drinking water, and toilets.

Israel has also failed humanitarian organizations trying to provide impartial aid to people in Gaza. Israeli forces in Gaza and the West Bank have repeatedly attacked our Doctors Without Borders colleagues and facilities, and have failed to establish adequate deconfliction measures to ensure the protection of aid workers and patients. On May 6, a violent Israeli military incursion in Tulkarem and Nur Shams camps in the West Bank damaged a Doctors Without Borders-supported health facility and other essential infrastructure.

Even when Israel orders evacuations, international law requires it to protect civilians. Its military offensive currently underway in Rafah threatens to shatter the humanitarian response and destroy the local health system that has already been struggling to cope with overwhelming demands for months. A continued military escalation would represent a direct attack on a trapped population, with catastrophic consequences.

The closure of the Rafah border crossing makes it near-impossible for humanitarian organizations to sustain lifesaving operations, with fuel, food, medicines, and water supplies all running dangerously low.

Military activity in Rafah has already disrupted Doctors Without Borders operations, forcing us to move staff to safer locations and to anticipate evacuation orders of health care facilities full of patients. The few field hospitals or alternative structures being built will not be able to cope with a massive influx of wounded civilians on top of overwhelming medical needs.”

ALJAZEERA reports:

The NGO Amnesty International has criticised an inconclusive US report on whether Israel’s operations in Gaza violated international law, calling the findings an “international version of ‘thoughts and prayers'”.

Responding to whether the US is avoiding holding Israel accountable for its actions, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview for NBC News: “We don’t have double standards.”

“We treat Israel, one of our closest allies and partners, just as we would treat any other country, including assessing something like international humanitarian law and its compliance with that law,” he said. “[People] can see for themselves, everything we’ve laid out in the report. The report also makes clear that this is an incredibly complex military environment.”

Blinken added that making such an assessment during a war about individual incidents is “difficult”.

“You have an enemy that intentionally embeds itself with civilians, hiding under and within schools, mosques, apartment buildings, firing at Israeli forces from those places,” he said.

 In the face of this, with a US government doing nothing, students on campuses in the US have stepped up and instead of applauding them or at least reporting accurately, corporate media has elected to lie.  At 48 HILLS, Stephanie Gutierrez Rios writes:

The pulse of student movements has historically been targeted. This bloodstained spectrum of violence moves me to think about the destruction of every university in Palestine.

The New York Times, 1966:  “Senate Internal Security subcommittee charged tonight that communists had played a key role in organizing campus demonstrations against the war in Vietnam.”

Reading the article was like listening to a haunting on loop, except the pitch is not inconsequential. 

American universities boast of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, curating faces for print materials, when their demographics prove otherwise. Enrollment of Latine students at Columbia, where I go to school, is 9 percent. That’s a weak representation of the 29 percent Latine population of New York City.

In Columbia classrooms, I am invariably the only Mexican student at the table. I listen to comments from white peers about how shocking it is that Richard Wright could “write good.”

What bodies are extended comfort and what bodies are in true danger surface as Columbia’s masked curriculum.

My first experience of Columbia alerting us that the gates to the school would be policed was on October 11, 2023. The administration’s constraints came after a peaceful call to action for Palestine was organized for the following day.

This policy was repeated through 39 email communications, and escalating campus militarization, including the pernicious email April 30, completely hindering my access to campus and the capacity to protect my peers.

The announcement by Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine  regarding the October 12th action asked participants not to engage with counter protestors and to remain peaceful and focused. Those are teachings I will carry with me forever.

I am listening to the accounts of my Palestinian peers, who dream of going home, while bearing witness in real-time to the senseless carpet bombing of their dreams, their families, their homes.

The construction of the “outside agitator” narrative fails to accept that students in programs like mine get to know each other intimately through our work.

I frankly don’t know how I would respond if I were to learn that my tuition dollars funded the wrecking of my 100-year-old grandmother’s home, the premature death of my school-aged nieces and nephews, the jovial laughter of my uncles turned to despairing wails as they dug through rubble bare-handed.

The morning of April 17, I received a message from my younger sister on the opposite coast with a list of ways to support The Gaza Solidarity Encampment. The encampment asked to re-center attention to Palestine, and it worked.

That same morning a friend from home sent me $40 for lunch. I bought food for the encampment.

Many of us forced to live on the margin were raised on traditions and customs that push back on individualism. Sharing food with each other is the most basic of our practices. When the NYPD was first called to forcefully remove peaceful protestors from their own campus, it was not surprising to witness the picketers circling in protection.

As a student who actually got to experience the Gaza Solidarity Encampment, I will say it was the most mutual aid-centered, collaborative learning, inter-faith respected, considerate space on Columbia’s campus since the time I accepted admission. Organizers called for volunteers to collect trash, raise tents, and protect Muslim prayers with blankets, and we obliged unhesitatingly. I saw children of supporters painting, imprinting cartwheels on the lawn. This is what community cultivates.

At FAIR, Neil Demause notes the lies pimped by the corporate media that rushed to take as fact any absurd claim especially if it came from the police:

The morning after the New York Police Department arrested 282 people at Columbia University and the City College of New York during protests against Israel’s war in Gaza, MSNBC’s Morning Joe (5/1/24) welcomed New York City Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD deputy commissioner of public information Tarik Sheppard as its sole guests. “At what point was it known to you that this was something more [than students] and that there were people who maybe had plans for worse than what some of the students were up to?” MSNBC anchor Willie Geist asked Adams. The mayor replied:

We were able to actually confirm that with our intelligence division and one of the individual’s husband was arrested for and convicted for terrorism on a federal level…. These were professionals that were here. I just want to send a clear message out that there are people who are harmful and are trying to radicalize our children.

Co-anchor Mika Brzezinski nodded in approval. When Adams added, “I don’t know if they’re international, we need to look into that as well,” Brzezinski softly said, “Yes.”

The story of the terrorist’s wife had first been put forward by city officials the previous evening, when CBS New York reporter Ali Bauman posted on Twitter, now rebranded as X (4/30/24; since deleted, but widely screenshotted), that “City Hall sources tell @CBSNewYork evidence that the wife of a known terrorist is with protestors on Columbia University campus.” At 1:47 am, CNN (5/1/24) issued a “breaking news” alert identifying the couple, Nahla and Sami Al-Arian, and showing a photo of Nahla on campus that Sami had posted to Twitter.

The next morning, Jake Offenhartz of the Associated Press (5/1/24) tracked down this “professional” agitator: Nahla Al-Arian was a retired elementary school teacher, and Sami a former computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida. He had been arrested in 2003 at the behest of then–US Attorney General John Ashcroft and charged with supporting the group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. After spending two years in jail awaiting trial, he was acquitted on all but one charge (a jury was deadlocked on the remaining count), and eventually agreed to a plea deal in which he and his wife moved to Turkey.

Nahla Al-Arian had visited the protests a week earlier with her daughters, both TV journalists, one a Columbia Journalism School graduate. Nahla stayed for about an hour, she told the Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill (5/3/24), listening to part of a teach-in and sharing some hummus with students, then returned to Virginia, where she was visiting her grandchildren, when Columbia students occupied a university building and police moved in to make arrests.

This wasn’t the first time the NYPD had alleged that outsiders were behind the campus protests. A week earlier, after the Columbia encampment had resulted in an earlier round of arrests at the behest of university president Minouche Shafik, Fox 5 Good Day New York (4/23/24) brought on Sheppard and NYPD Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry as its guests. “The mayor is describing some of the people there as professional agitators,” said anchor Rosanna Scotto. “Are these just students?”

“Look at the tents,” replied Daughtry. “They all were the same color, the same ones that we saw at NYU, the same ones that we see at Columbia. To me, I think someone is funding this.”

After an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (4/24/24) asserted that “Rockefeller and Soros grants are subsidizing those who disrupt college campuses”— actually, one protestor at Yale and one at the University of California, Berkeley, were former fellows at a nonprofit funded by Soros’ Open Society Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund—the New York Post (4/26/24) wrote that “copycat tent cities have been set up at colleges including Harvard, Yale, Berkeley in California, the Ohio State University and Emory in Georgia—all of them organized by branches of the Soros-funded Students for Justice in Palestine.”

At the same time, as Wired (4/25/24) reported, dozens of Facebook and Twitter accounts had posted identical messages about the tents, saying: “Almost all the tents are identical—same design, same size, same fresh-out-of-the-box appearance. I know that college students are not that rich or coordinated.”

Snopes (4/29/24) later investigated the Post’s claims, and found no evidence that Soros had funded Students for Justice in Palestine. Meanwhile, Hell Gate (4/24/24) had checked Daughtry’s theory of a secret tent-funder through advanced data gathering: They googled it. As it turned out, there was a simpler explanation for why students across the city were using similar tents—they were the cheapest ones available online, for as little as $15. “My God,” reported the news site, “looks like what we’ve got on our hands is a classic case of college students buying something cheap and disposable.”

While most corporate outlets silenced students, NEXSTAR did not.  No, the nation's largest owner of TV stations across the country (197) put students on air.  As we've noted here repeatedly, the put students on camera -- students they protested as just average students.  But students who, in fact, were right wingers working for right wing outlets like Bari Weiss' company.  They threw that filthy propaganda out across the country from 197 stations and this needs to be remembered when they apply for new broadcasting licenses.   Again, we are talking about 197 stations and it's amazing how little attention their slanted coverage has received.

Even with the lies and media distortions, the students actions captured the attention of the nation and of the world.   In the face of attacks, the students continued to call for an end to the slaughter of Gaza.  Friday morning, Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) noted:

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead has pulled out of his planned commencement speech at UMass Amherst next week after the police arrested over 100 students. He said, “Calling the cops on peaceful protesters is a shameful act.”

In a victory for the protest movement, Sacramento State in California agreed to review its investments so that it is not funding corporations that “profit from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and activities that violate fundamental human rights.”

Outside the U.S., Dutch riot police bulldozed a protest camp at the University of Amsterdam after students defied orders to dismantle.

Columbia University kicked off these waves of protests.  The students there stood up and demanded a halt to the attack on Gaza.  Columbia University is also where the face of genocide can be found in the president's office.  Minouche Shafik, a UK citizen who accepted a royal title thereby making clear that she may hold US citizenship but has no respect for US history, is evil and embraced her evil to attack the students.  She embarrassed herself and she embarrassed Columbia University.  Shea Vance (COLUMBIA SPECTATOR) reports:

Faculty in the Arts and Sciences began a vote of no confidence in University President Minouche Shafik on Wednesday, a move brought to the body by members of the Columbia chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

The group amended its initial motion to censure following Shafik’s April 30 authorization of the police sweep of the Hamilton Hall occupation and the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” The sweep was the second on the Morningside campus in two weeks, which has seen over 200 arrests since mid-April.

David Lurie, president of the Columbia AAUP chapter, said that while a motion to censure “refers to our judgment about past actions,” a vote of no confidence refers to “our feelings about the … potential for positive action in the future.”

“We have lost confidence in the capacity of the senior administration, as personified by the president, to make the right decisions for Columbia based on the series of mistakes and miscalculations and overreaches and violations of norms of governance and of standards of administrative behavior over the past academic year,” Lurie said.

The Columbia AAUP chapter released a statement on Wednesday regarding the vote to advance the no confidence amendment, writing that 295 voted in favor of the amendment to the motion, 107 voted against, and 32 abstained. According to the statement, roughly 1,000 faculty are eligible to participate in the vote on the motion, which will take place over the course of one week and began on Wednesday. The result of the initial vote “bodes well for the ultimate passage of the motion,” the statement reads.

Professors George Yancy and Judith Butler write at TRUTHOUT about the attacks on students and free speech being carried out on college campuses across the country.  At WSWS, Jacob Crosse notes, "In response to ongoing student-led protests against the US-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza, police departments across North America conducted violent, and, in many cases, tear gas-filled raids of anti-genocide encampments Thursday night and Friday. In addition to arrest, many students are facing suspension from their university for participating in demonstrations calling for an end to the mass murder of Palestinians and for their university to divest from war profiteers."  At THE NATION, Columbia University professor Helen Benedict writes, "As a tenured professor at Columbia’s Journalism School, I’ve been watching the student protests ever since the brutal Hamas attack of October 7, and I’ve been struck by the decorum of the protesting students, as angry and upset as they are on both sides. This has particularly impressed me knowing that several students are directly affected by the ongoing war. I have a Jewish student who has lost family and friends to the attack by Hamas, and a Palestinian student who learned of the deaths of her family and friends in Gaza while she was sitting in my class."  JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY notes, "Cornell University president Martha E. Pollack will step down from her position next month, the third Ivy League leader to announce her resignation amid fierce campus debate surrounding antisemitism and protests over the Israel-Hamas war."  On Friday, First Lady Jill Biden spoke to educators in Phoenix, Arizona.  MSNBC reports that at the speech "some of those educators got up and left" due to the administration being unable/unwilling to stop the assault on Gaza.  Fourth grade teacher Wendy Williams was among those walking out and she tells MSNBC, "I watch every single day children getting blown up by bombs my tax payer money goes to and, I mean then, I go into school and I see children who are under my care for the day and I'm responsible for their well being.  I just like can't live with that anymore.  So I don't mean disrespect to her.  I personally just cannot be in that room listening."  At THE NEW REPUBLIC, Wesleyan University president Michael S. Roth writes:

I have watched with sadness the police actions on some campuses, as well as the lack of police action in Los Angeles when an encampment was attacked by counterprotesters. I can well imagine that for most university presidents, calling in the police is the last resort. I too have depended on the law enforcement in the past, most heartbreakingly when a student was murdered on campus many years ago. I will certainly ask for police help if I need it to protect people, property, or university operations from criminal behavior.

It’s almost the end of the school year, and more than once I’ve been asked, “Don’t I wish we had just made it through a couple of more weeks without incident?” Mostly … no. How can I not respect students for paying attention to things that matter so much? I respect that they’re concerned about Gaza; I admire that they’re not entirely taken up with grades or lining up their credentials. Will their protest help? My fear is that such protests (especially when they turn violent) in the end will help the reactionary forces of populist authoritarianism. I also think student protesters are wrong to focus on university investments. I would prefer they use their energies to pressure the U.S. government to do more to get the hostages released, to stop supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war tactics, and to bring more direct aid to people in Gaza on the brink of starvation. My team expects to discuss all of this with students in the coming days. Right now, I’m most concerned with protecting their right to protest in nonviolent ways that don’t undermine our educational program. For me, the modest violations of the rules are preferable to the narrow-minded vocationalism that others seem suddenly to pine for.


Nathan Dalton (BERKELEYSIDE) reports:

UC Berkeley’s massive commencement ceremony took place mostly as planned on Saturday, amid nationwide tension on college campuses over Israel’s war in Gaza and fears that protesters in progressive Berkeley would disrupt the proceedings.

The ceremony was interrupted at several points by demonstrators, whose numbers ranged as low as a few dozen early in the commencement, to hundreds as students in mortar boards, some wearing Palestinian keffiyas, joined the protesters to chant, “Free Palestine” and “Hey hey, ho, ho, the occupation has got to go.”

About 34,000 Gazans have been killed in Israel’s monthslong military response to an Oct. 7 attack by the militant group Hamas in which more than 1100 people died and 250 were taken hostage.

Berkeley’s administrators have taken a tack different from those at some other high profile campuses when dealing with protests that have roiled universities across the United States, refraining from calling police on student encampments set up to protest the war and acknowledging protesters’ concerns. 

Kiana Sezawar Keshavarz and Ayah Ali-Ahmad (THE DAILY CALIFORNIAN) also report on the US Berkeley commencement:

Pro-Palestine protesters rallied at the UC Berkeley Class of 2024 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, denouncing the war in Gaza and calling for the university’s divestment from Israel.

The protest follows a surge of similar pro-Palestine demonstrations across college campuses as the academic year comes to a close.

The commencement, located inside California Stadium, began at 10:35 a.m. with speakers stating that participants may not “engage in ways that disrupts the event,” such as holding up banners and signs that may disrupt the event and shouting over speakers.

However, following a speech by Chancellor Carol Christ, who opened the ceremony acknowledging recent student protests on campus and the “terrible tragedy … in Gaza,” students raised Palestinian flags and held up signs calling for campus and UC divestment from companies with connections to Israel.

Following Columbia University students' lead, protests spread around the country and around the world.  Jeanine Santucci and Eduardo Cuevas (USA TODAY) note, "Police moved in on protesters at an encampment at the University of Calgary in western Canada on Thursday, using what they called 'non-lethal munitions'."  Christopher Reynolds (THE CANADIAN PRESS) reports, "Edmonton police dismantled a pro-Palestinian encampment on the University of Alberta's campus on Saturday, prompting outrage from students and academics who described the operation as violent and contested allegations that demonstrators were breaking the law.  Organizers said police fired tear gas and pepper-spray balls and wielded batons against students at the university's north campus quad shortly after arriving at 4:30 a.m., resulting in one hospitalization and several attendees placed in zip-tie handcuffs."  Diego Stacey (EL PAIS) notes, "The spark that was lit in the United States, and that has spread to Europe, has also appeared in different Spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia."

Gaza remains under assault. Day 220 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's Health Ministry said at least 63 people were killed over the previous 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll from Israel's bombardment and offensive in Gaza to at least 35,034 people, mostly women and children."  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."

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