Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Cheesy Spinach-&-Artichoke Stuffed Spaghetti Squash in the Kitchen



  • 1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed

  • 3 tablespoons water, divided

  • 1 (5 ounce) package baby spinach

  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped

  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed and softened

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

  • Crushed red pepper & chopped fresh basil for garnish


  1. Place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish; add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on High until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F until tender, 40 to 50 minutes.)

  2. Meanwhile, combine spinach and the remaining 1 tablespoon water in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

  3. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.

  4. Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl. Place the shells on a baking sheet. Stir artichoke hearts, cream cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide it between the squash shells and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Broil until the cheese is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and basil, if desired. 

So that's a fairly straightforward and simple recipe.  

News?  Ewan Palmer (Newsweek) reports:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is continuing to receive criticism for his apparent failure to fully condemn neo-Nazi demonstrations that have taken place in the state.

DeSantis, who is running for president, recently came under fire from state Representative Randy Fine, the only Jewish Republican in the Florida Legislature, for the governor's muted responses to Fine being "jumped" by a neo-Nazi in Florida and the white supremacist demonstrations that took place in Orlando and Orange County.

Fine's criticism arrived after a neo-Nazi demonstration in which swastikas and other antisemitic banners were hung along the Daryl Carter Parkway Bridge in Orlando took place in June. A group of far-right extremists paraded through Orlando in September, shouting racist and antisemitic slurs while also waving flags depicting white supremacist symbols.

"Eighteen months ago, my Nazi 'friends' showed up in Florida. They assaulted a Rabbi. They beat up a Jew who yelled back at one of their protests," Fine wrote in a recent opinion piece for The Washington Times. "They commandeered highway overpasses to illegally hang banners saying 'Gas the Jews.' They have tormented Jews at their homes with filth. Until a few weeks ago, Governor DeSantis said almost nothing. And worse, he did almost nothing."

During an interview on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, DeSantis was pressed by host Kristen Welker about why he didn't "speak out" strongly about the neo-Nazis in Florida.

That's how disgusting and inept Ron DeSantis is, he can't even call out Nazis.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:

Monday, October 30, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues.

The assault on Gaza continues.   Asmaa Khalil and Abeer Salman (CNN) report, "A total of 59 aid trucks arrived on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza and were waiting to undergo security checks Monday morning, according to a CNN stringer in Rafah. If the vehicles cross into the strip, it will mark a significant increase in the number of daily aid trucks arriving in Gaza. But it will still be far short of the roughly 455 trucks that used to enter daily, according to the United Nations."  Eyad Kourdi and Abeer Salman (CNN) add, "The number of people killed during Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7 has risen to 7,950, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah said Sunday, drawing the data from sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those killed are from vulnerable populations, including children, women and elderly people, according to the ministry's report."  As hospitals have been bombed as well, CNN notes, the dead also includes 116 medical personnel and CNN notes during this time 20,000 Palestinians have been injured. In spite the massive numbers of people injured and that huge loss of life, Najib Jobain, Samy Magdy and Lee Keath (AP) report that the Israeli forces continue the assault, "Israeli troops and armor pushed deeper into northern and central Gaza on Monday, as the U.N. and medical staff warned that airstrikes are hitting closer to hospitals where tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought shelter alongside thousands of wounded. Video obtained by the Associated Press showed an Israeli tank and bulldozer in central Gaza blocking the territory’s main north-south highway, which the Israeli military earlier told Palestinians to use to escape the expanding ground offensive." Andre Damon (WSWS) adds, "On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) delivered a statement announcing its intent to attack 'schools, mosques, and hospitals' in Gaza, amid a systematic campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing that has already killed 8,000 Palestinians."  Becky Sullivan (NPR) notes, "In New York City, London, Madrid, Casablanca, Istanbul, Islamabad and other cities worldwide, tens of thousands of people took part in pro-Palestinian protests this past weekend, calling for a cease-fire."

 She left out Tel Aviv.  Jean Shaoul (WSWS) reports:

Israelis joined millions of people throughout the world, opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s genocidal war against the Palestinian people, taking to the streets in several towns and cities to demand the government end the war and do everything necessary to bring home the 230 hostages being held in Gaza.

In Tel Aviv, hundreds of angry young protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Saturday evening holding banners saying, “Ceasefire now” and “Bring back the hostages, alive, now.”

Haim Rubinstein, for the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, demanded, “Is there a plan? We don’t know. That’s what we want to find out.” She added, “We also want to know the meaning of what happened last night,” referring to the IDF ground invasion of Gaza and the bombardment of 150 Hamas underground targets, including tunnels where the hostages are believed to be held.

Hundreds demonstrated outside Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea, accusing him of responsibility for the war, demanding he resign and chanting, “Take responsibility for the sake of the people.” At a demonstration in Jerusalem, banners called for a prisoner exchange. Hundreds took part in a rally in the northern port city of Haifa, home to both Jews and Palestinians, with other rallies held in Beersheba, Herzylia, Netanya and Kfar Saba and other towns. 

Yes, even in Israel the assault on Gaza is being protested.

Protests around the world take place despite efforts to ban and bully.   WSWS continues tracking the protests around the world.  While people stand up, the media largely cowers in silence.  Especially true of the US media which gets a failing grade from Lara Witt and Tina Vasquez (ZNET):

The images that have emerged from Gaza over the last several weeks are not ones we can easily forget: a once vibrant city reduced to rubble by Israeli occupation forces. A Ministry of Health press conference held in the aftermath of a massacre, where the bodies of murdered Palestinians are piled up around the podium. Young children, visibly in shock, covered in the blood of their families and debris from their homes that no longer exist. Parents, hysterical with grief, holding their dead and dying babies. 

Amid all of the pain and suffering we have seen, among all of the incomprehensible stories emerging, we find ourselves returning to one extraordinary fact: Palestinians are going to great lengths to ensure their voices are heard. Decades of evidence tells them that the media will get it all wrong, so they are using their last bits of power during a blockade and sometimes their final moments on earth to correct the public record. 

Palestinian journalists who have recently had their homes, families, colleagues, and places of work bombed by Israeli occupation forces continue to do interviews with Western media. No doubt they feel tremendous pressure to address rampant disinformation from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), to correct the media’s use of passive language, and to introduce words like “apartheid” to ahistorical reporting. Everyday Palestinians are also using social media to relay the facts on the ground, documenting the violence of settler colonialism. 

These efforts at truth telling are a strong indictment of the U.S. media. Palestinians know what many across the world are just beginning to understand: While Gaza and the Palestinian people stand on the brink of oblivion, the press will only gloss over U.S.-backed war crimes, rationalize their collective punishment, and spin narratives that further erase their rights and realities.

In this earth-shattering, history-defining moment, the American media is failing. Despite the facts on the ground, many American news outlets refuse to identify what’s happening in Gaza as genocide, citing a lack of evidence for the term. But in fact, the very definition of genocide and the metrics for identifying it under international law require precisely the kind of evidence we’re seeing now, which means that any news outlet claiming to produce “evidence-based” journalism that won’t use the word “genocide” is violating its own stated principles.

Patrick Martin (WSWS) points out the media silence that is the response to so many protests around the world:

The world’s population are seeing atrocities of staggering dimensions: buildings pulverized by bombs and missiles; hospitals and apartment blocks leveled; children covered in blood, pulled screaming from the rubble; bodies everywhere. These images of genocidal war have a profound effect on consciousness, which cannot be undone by media lies or government propaganda.

This weekend, half a million people took part in a protest in London. Tens of thousands demonstrated in other cities in Europe, with hundreds of thousands in the Arab and other majority-Muslim countries. In the United States, tens of thousands have marched in New York City, Washington, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, with significant turnouts in hundreds of other cities, both large and small.

One of the most significant aspects of these protests has been the participation of thousands of Jews, particularly Jewish youth. This was seen most dramatically in the takeover of Grand Central Station in Manhattan Friday night, in a sit-in by several thousand called by Jewish Voice for Peace, under the slogan “Not in Our Name.”

The outpouring of popular anger in response to the war crimes in Gaza has shaken both the ruling classes and their media servants. They are so frightened that they’ve decided that the only way to respond is to ignore it and create a counter-reality, manufactured by the media, in which the public supports Israel and its genocidal war on Gaza, and the expressions of mass horror and revulsion simply are not taking place.

The news outlets that set the pace for the American media have imposed a virtual blackout on the protests, limiting their reporting to a handful of online references that are drowned out by the deluge of pro-war coverage, which occupies pages and pages of newsprint and endless hours of television time. There is no reference to the millions who have declared their opposition to the war on Gaza, while there has been non-stop coverage of the October 7 Hamas raid on Israel, the Israeli preparations for war, the bombing campaign, and the visits by top Western leaders—Biden, Sunak, Scholz, Macron and others—to Jerusalem to declare their unbreakable solidarity with Netanyahu and Israel.

Let's note a Friday protest in NYC.

Kevin Reed (WSWS) reports:

On Friday evening, a spontaneous action of civil disobedience by thousands of supporters of the organization Jewish Voice for Peace shut down Grand Central Station in Manhattan to protest the escalating genocide against Gaza. The NYPD arrested several of the protesters, but thousands then gathered outside.

Chants included, “Biden Biden you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The demonstration showed widespread pro-Palestinian sympathies among the public, including Jewish workers and youth, who packed the main floor of the terminal during rush hour.

The protesters also unfurled banners from the mezzanine that read, “Palestinians should be free” and “Israelis demand cease-fire now.” A large number of the participants wore black T-shirts from Jewish Voice for Peace that said, “Not in Our Name” and “Ceasefire Now!”

The World Socialist Web Site spoke with several of those participating. Asked her response to the Democratic Party’s support for the genocide, one protester said, “I’m horrified. They’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Biden is no better than Bush,. In fact, I think he’s worse, if that was possible. The fact that those are the choices we have, there’s something seriously wrong.”

“Most people are against this war, this genocide, [but] they have their own agenda going on.”

Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) also reports on the protest:

The demonstration was led by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), with the participation of IfNotNow and other groups, as well as unaffiliated Jews and allies.

"We refuse to allow our own pain and trauma to be used to justify attacks against another people," said Jay Saper of JVP. "We are here to say: Not in our name."

JVP said New York state Sens. Jabari Brisport (D-25), Robert Jackson (D-35), and Julia Salazar (D-18); State Assembly Members Zohran Mamdani (D-36) and Emily Gallagher (D-50); and New York City Council Members Tiffany Cabán (D-22), Alexa Avilés (D-38), Sandy Nurse (D-37), and Chi Ossé (D-36) took part in the protest.

Artist Indya Moore, a signatory to the Artists4CeaseFire letter, said "I am here in solidarity with my Jewish siblings in support of Palestinians, and stand in witness with my ancestors, the Taino, African, and Spanish, colonized and colonizer—in memory of what happened to them, to raise our collective voice of dissent and demonstrate en masse that it is morally irrefutable that we need a cease-fire now and a call to end the genocide of Palestinians."

Clara Weiss (WSWS) reports on the protests by the Sunrise Movement at Dartmouth College and Weiss includes this statement from the Sunrise Movement:

At 1:00 a.m. on October 28th, Dartmouth College called Hanover Police to arrest two students for trespassing on the Parkhurst Administration Building lawn. The students initiated an encampment six hours earlier, urging Dartmouth to divest from Apartheid as part of the Dartmouth New Deal framework.

After college administrators refused to publicly acknowledge the Dartmouth New Deal and establish a mourning site for lost Palestinian and Israeli lives, two students chose to remain in a tent against school official’s requests. The College subsequently summoned over a dozen officers from Dartmouth College Department of Safety and Security and Hanover Police Department to handcuff and arrest both students.

Kevin Engel, one of two Dartmouth students arrested, says: “After spending over 80 hours outside Parkhurst over the last ten days, it is explicitly obvious to me that the current administration cares very little about the effects of the war in Gaza on students. Tonight, over a dozen Hanover PD and SNS officers arrested and charged me and a peer for occupying a tent. A single tent — even more evidence that Dartmouth prioritizes their public image over the wellbeing of students.”

The arrests took place hours after the campus Sunrise Movement Chapter launched the Dartmouth New Deal, their multi-demand framework for investment in marginalized students and climate-justice. The continued encampment on the administrative lawn escalated a weeklong protest for Palestinian liberation which began after mourners placed small black flags in the administrative lawn following an October 19th vigil for Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

Campus Safety and Security informed event organizers that they would remove the flags immediately afterwards. When the vigil was not dismantled, students decided to keep watch over the memorial 24 hours a day and did so until the arrests.

Roan Wade, a student and Sunrise Dartmouth organizer arrested Saturday Morning, says: “Dartmouth claims to support free speech but arrested me for demonstrating against Dartmouth’s complicity in the ongoing genocide in Gaza. We were told that President Beilock was inside Parkhurst at the time of our arrest. Rather than talking to us, she suppressed our right to voice our concerns. Dartmouth’s commitment to free speech and open discourse fell apart when met with student activism. Police told us we were banned indefinitely from stepping foot in Parkhurst, the building that houses Title IX, the president’s office, and other Dartmouth administrators — further restricting our right to voice our dissent.”

During this time, students at the vigil faced constant surveillance from Safety & Security officers, including frequent visits from the Director of Safety & Security, Keiselim “Keysi” Montás. Repeated attempts to remove students included confiscating a canopy to protect from rain and warning students not to sit down on the steps or store food.

The Associate Dean for Student Life delivered a highlighted copy of Dartmouth’s policy on Freedom of Expression and Dissent, claiming students were deliberately obstructing “the orderly processes of the college.” When asked for a specific example, Montás told students that flags prevented workers from mowing the Parkhurst lawn.

“President Beilock, in her September 22, 2023 inaugural address to Dartmouth College, calls for a ‘brave space’–approach to freedom of expression on campus,” says Hayden El Rafei ’24. “As a student and undergraduate researcher, I see the administration's actions tonight as a cruel and repulsive attack on students’ academic, artistic, and creative expression — their acts of bravery in the wake of grief.

The Palestine Solidarity Coalition of Dartmouth Students, The Sunrise Movement at Dartmouth, and other student groups authored a statement in response to the college’s actions. Dartmouth students plan to hold a rally at 12:30 on Monday, October 30th calling for the protection of students’ free speech and right to protest at Dartmouth.

On Friday's DEMOCRACY NOW!, Amy Goodman explored the efforts to censor and punish those speaking out against the genocide taking place.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman.

We look now at how students, professors and others advocating for Palestinian rights across the United States are facing racist attacks and other threats to their free speech, safety and livelihoods.

This week, Florida ordered state universities to ban the group Students for Justice in Palestine, accusing it of supporting a terrorist organization. The group Palestine Legal is documenting and supporting people who were fired or faced other retaliation for sharing social media posts or signing statements in support of human rights for Palestine.

This includes our next guest, Ryna Workman, who was removed from their position as president of the NYU Law School’s Student Bar Association and saw their job offer at the corporate law firm Winston & Strawn withdrawn after they sent a newsletter to classmates expressing, quote, “unwavering and absolute solidarity with Palestinians in their resistance against oppression toward liberation and self-determination,” unquote, after Hamas’s October 7th attack on Israel and the subsequent number of Palestinians who died in these last weeks.

On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution, quote, “condemning Hamas and antisemitic student activities on college campuses,” unquote, which referenced Ryna, though not by name. This comes as doxing trucks target people at Ivy League universities who sign Palestinian solidarity statements, have now appeared at Harvard, at Columbia, University of Pennsylvania with digital billboard screens displaying people’s faces, their names, and above them saying “antisemites.”

Palestine Legal and over 600 other legal groups and leaders issued a letter calling on elected officials and institutional leaders to address the, quote, “hundreds of incidents happening across the country [that] signal a much broader effort to criminalize dissent, justify censorship, and incite anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim harassment,” unquote. The letter notes, “This is not a new phenomenon, but it is escalating at terrifying speed,” unquote.

For more, we’re joined in Chicago by Dima Khalidi, the founder and director of Palestine Legal, and by Ryna Workman, the NYU law student who had their prestigious job offer rescinded.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Ryna, why don’t we start with you? What exactly happened?

RYNA WORKMAN: Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

I think that, you know, I sent a message to my fellow law students supporting Palestine and offering context to a narrative that I already saw building that was excluding the 75 years of history that we’ve seen in Palestine, the apartheid, the military occupation. And I wanted to add that I support Palestinians in their movement for liberation. And that is what my message was intended to get across.

AMY GOODMAN: And what happened?

RYNA WORKMAN: You know, after that, we saw this incredibly swift backlash. I lost my job offer. My school immediately put out statements that distanced themselves from me, offered me no specific protections publicly. And, you know, I’ve been receiving hateful and racist and transphobic and queerphobic messages for the past three weeks that have only gotten more vile and more hateful as time has gone on.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about your position both at NYU and your offer of a prestigious law firm employment?

RYNA WORKMAN: Yeah, I think that, you know, the consequences that I’m personally facing are devastating for me. But I’m also really concerned that it’s just promoting this chilling effect that we’re seeing across not only my law school, but across universities and other law schools across the country, because folks are now afraid to speak up, in fear that they might become the next me, that they might lose their offer simply for supporting Palestine and fighting this oppression and trying to end this genocide.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you say to the law firm now? And have they reconsidered?

RYNA WORKMAN: The law firm has not reached out to me at all. And right now I really just want to focus on calling for a ceasefire and ending this genocide. And I really just want to say to everyone who cares about human life and cares about stopping this killing, to call for a ceasefire and, you know, end this genocide that’s happening right now to the Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Dima Khalidi into this conversation. How common is what happened to Ryna Workman?

DIMA KHALIDI: It’s become very common. Palestine Legal has been documenting for years what we call a Palestine exception to free speech, so it certainly didn’t start on October 7th. We’ve seen these same kinds of tactics, severe doxing, attempts to get people fired and investigated, to punish boycotts for Palestinian rights and other advocacy through legislation, and an attempt to purge academia of voices that support Palestinian rights.

But since October 7th, when we’ve seen people mobilizing for Palestinian rights, we’ve seen an exponential increase. We’ve had more than 300 requests for legal help — more than we get in a whole year typically. And Ryna is really not alone. And we’re seeing dozens, dozens of people getting fired and facing unemployment consequences around the country for making simple statements in support of Palestinian rights. We’re seeing students get disciplined, as you mentioned, Amy. There is a widespread attack on the student movement for Palestinian rights, which has built an incredible cross-movement — has built cross-movement alliances on campuses for the last decade. And really, people’s livelihoods are being threatened. And people’s lives are also under attack. We saw a 6-year-old Palestinian boy murdered just for being Palestinian. So this is a widespread effort to intimidate, as Ryna said, intimidate people into silence.

But Ryna is also not alone in the sense that there are so many voices who are speaking out, because people are seeing more and more clearly what is happening here. This is about 75-plus years of a settler colonial state that has dispossessed an entire people of their land and of their dignity and of their humanity. And what is happening now is a complete dehumanization of Palestinians that is coming from the mouths of Israeli officials, which, by the way, have been speaking in genocidal terms about Palestinians for 75-plus years. And it’s being echoed by our own elected officials, who are repeating to level Gaza and to wipe Palestinians off of the map. This is a genocide that is unfolding with U.S. support. And more people are seeing that. And that’s what’s critical here. We have to speak up. We have to protect people who are under attack for speaking out, because that is our responsibility as U.S. citizens whose taxpayer money is being used to fuel this incredible attack on Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what’s happening in Florida, Governor DeSantis demanding of the state university system to disband the organization, the Palestinian student organization, Students for Justice in Palestine?

DIMA KHALIDI: Of course, DeSantis is often the front-runner when we’re talking about undermining our constitutional rights. And once again, he has attacked a student group based on their fundamental First Amendment rights to engage in advocacy on this issue. His move is fundamentally contrary to the First Amendment. And it will be challenged. There is no doubt.

This is also an attempt to criminalize what students and others are speaking out about. And there is no basis for this. And frankly, it’s part of DeSantis’s broader agenda and the right wing’s broader agenda to undermine fundamental First Amendment rights by criminalizing protests for racial justice, by criminalizing protests for environmental rights and Indigenous rights, and by purging academia of people and curricula that are trying to teach about the sordid history of racism in this country. So it is part of his effort to whitewash our universities and academia from dissenting voices. And this has to be challenged in order for us to maintain the fundamental constitutional rights upon which this country is based and that are essential for any prospect of maintaining democracy in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s been interesting what’s happened. You’ve got the doxing of students, for example, at Harvard and at Columbia. At Harvard, the more traditional conservative organization, Harvard Hillel, actually also condemned the doxing of students and these billboards that are going around with protesters’ faces with the word “antisemite” above it. And at Columbia, is it true that the pro-Israel and the Palestine groups together condemned the doxing?

DIMA KHALIDI: The doxing is one of the most heinous ways of attacking people. These are students. These are individuals who are, you know, working in various arenas, and they are being severely harassed. Their information is being publicized. They are being barraged, as Ryna has, with death threats and horrible misogynistic, transphobic and racist messages. And their livelihoods are being threatened. So we have seen even pro-Israel groups condemn this, because they see how horrible it is for their own peers to be faced with this kind of harassment. And universities are really failing to protect their students here. We’ve seen a couple of instances where universities are beginning to take measures to prevent this doxing, seeing how severe it is.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Ryna Workman, your final comment? Also, who ousted you as president of NYU’s Law School Bar Association?

RYNA WORKMAN: So, the SBA, the Student Bar Association, originally initiated proceedings against me, but since have all resigned. But currently, due to messaging from Dean McKenzie, I am suspended until further notice from all of my presidential duties. And so, even though I cannot say anything or do anything as SBA president, I still want to say, as a person, that we should all be calling for a ceasefire and an end to this genocide.

AMY GOODMAN: Ryna Workman, I want to thank you for being with us, NYU law student who had a job offer rescinded after speaking out in support of Palestinian rights and calling for a ceasefire, and Dima Khalidi, founder of Palestine Legal. I’m Amy Goodman. Thank you for joining us.

Others attacked have included US House Rep Rashida Tlaib.  Her basic statements are too much for some -- such as House lunatic Marjorie Taylor Greene -- to take.  Here's an example of a statement by Rashida:

U.S. military support for Israel with absolutely no conditions on upholding human rights has not brought peace and justice to the region. This resolution is not a serious examination of the root causes of the violence we are witnessing and doubles down on decades of failed policy. Achieving a just and lasting peace where Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights and freedoms, and where no person lives in fear for their safety, requires ending the blockade, occupation, and dehumanizing system of apartheid. I urge my colleagues to support our Ceasefire Now Resolution to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible.

And here's her Thursday statement on QAnon's Marjorie Taylor Greene's efforts to censure her:

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s unhinged resolution is deeply Islamophobic and attacks peaceful Jewish anti-war advocates. I am proud to stand in solidarity with Jewish peace advocates calling for a ceasefire and an end to the violence. I will not be bullied, I will not be dehumanized, and I will not be silenced. I will continue to call for ceasefire, for the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid, for the release of hostages and those arbitrarily detained, and for every American to be brought home. I will continue to work for a just and lasting peace that upholds the human rights and dignity of all people, and ensures that no person, no child has to suffer or live in fear of violence.

Ramirez:  It’s a shame that while they’re doing that, you have the Marjorie Taylor Greenes (R-GA) of the world out there spewing so much hate, hate for people who are [peacefully] protesting the injustices of Palestinians, and [she’s] calling them insurrectionists. You have members here who call some of us Hamas. Why? Because we dare to take a stand for injustice and Palestinian children? It is really scary that they are weaponizing this moment and putting [the] lives of people in this country that they say they love so much at risk … and there are no consequences for their actions.

And these are the same people that are constantly attacking and bullying people like me, people like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), people like Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), people like Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA), people like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). It is really unfortunate that this is a moment that our children and our young people are having to witness this from their highest level of government representatives.

BLOOMEKATZ: You talked about the murder of a six-year-old Wadea, and also of this horrible hate attack in Lombard. How do you think Illinois — and Chicago — how can we move forward as a state and as residents here in a way that combats this?

RAMIREZ: Look, you need to call out that people who are using hateful rhetoric, be it in Illinois, be it in the city of Chicago, and that have any … influence, or are in any leadership positions, need to be censured. They need to be responsible for the deaths and the violence against our communities. And these are Jewish communities, these are Muslim communities, immigrant communities. 

The following sites updated:

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Ginger and Soy Salmon Fillets with Broccoli in the Kitchen


2 cups small broccoli florets
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
One 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
2 skin-on salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
1 scallion, thinly slice
Cooked white rice, for serving

1 Toss the broccoli with 1 tablespoon of the oil in a bowl until coated. Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the broccoli to a 3.5-quart air fryer.

2 Stir together the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, cornstarch and ginger in a small bowl.  Brush the salmon fillets on all sides with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, then with the sauce.  Arrange the salmon flesh-side down on top of the broccoli.

3 Cook at 375 degrees F until the broccoli is tender and the salmon is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes for medium to well done, depending on the thickness of your fillets. Transferring to serving plates, sprinkle with the scallion slices and serve with rice.

Cook's note
You can substitute 2 tablespoons store-bought teriyaki sauce for the soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. If light brown sugar isn't available, feel free to use dark brown sugar.

Parade has a really good interview with Meg Ryan.  November 3rd, her new film What Happens Later comes out.  She talks about it with Parade's Walter Scott.  David Duchovney is her co-star.  And she directed the film (romantic comedy).  I'm really looking forward to it.  I need to make sure I'm off work that Friday evening/night.  I want to see it opening night.  

My favorite Meg Ryan film?

Difficult to nail down just one.  So let me do ten and I'll work up to number one.

10) In The Cut
9) Kate & Leopold
8) City of Angels
7) Addicted to Love
6) Prelude to a Kiss
5) Joe Versus The Volcano
4) When Harry Met Sally 
3) Hanging Up
2) You've Got Mail
1) Sleepless in Seattle

And by the way, there are least ten more films she's made that I love.  I didn't realize that until I pulled up her filmography on Wikipedia.  The ten I listed are my ten favorite and I think about them when I think of her -- or of movies I love.  But there are many others she's made that I also love: Flesh and Bone, Courage Under Fire, The Doors, I.Q., French Kiss, Proof Of Life, Serious Moonlight, My Mom's New Boyfriend, When A Man Loves A Woman . . . 

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, October 27, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues.

As the Israeli government's assault on Gaza continues, Imogen Foulkes (BBC NEWS) reports, "The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 7,028 people have now been killed in Gaza and, as reported in my previous post, that 41% of them are children."  Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) notes:

On Wednesday, Oxfam accused Israel of intentionally starving Gaza’s 2.3 million people. Oxfam’s regional Middle East director said, “The situation is nothing short of horrific — where is humanity? Millions of civilians are being collectively punished in full view of the world, there can be no justification for using starvation as a weapon of war.”

Lynn Hastings, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, on Thursday reiterated the agency’s concern over Israel’s demand that residents of northern Gaza move to the south of the enclave, pointing to continued airstrikes even in those areas.

“For people who can’t evacuate—because they have nowhere to go or are unable to move --advance warnings make no difference,” Hastings said. “Nowhere is safe in Gaza.”

Arab governments -- even those that have drawn closer to Israel in recent years -- have condemned the country’s military assault on Gaza. Among them are states that stood by as the U.S.-led peace process collapsed and Palestinian suffering festered -- a neglect that analysts attribute to a mix of hopelessness, antipathy to Palestinian leadership or a focus inward, on domestic concerns.

Yesterday, Nermeen Shaikh and Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) spoke with Dr Judith Butler about the ongoing assault.  One segment was broadcast on the show and then, the one we're noting, there was a second segment that was a web exclusive:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Butler. I’d like to ask first about the open letter that you signed along with others, other Jewish writers and scholars, urging President Biden to support a ceasefire in Gaza. I’ll just quote a line from the letter, which says, quote, “We condemn attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians. We believe it is possible and in fact necessary to condemn Hamas’ actions and acknowledge the historical and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians. We believe it is possible and necessary to condemn Hamas’ attack and take a stand against the collective punishment of Gazans that is unfolding and accelerating as we write.” So, Professor Butler, could you, you know, talk about that? I mean, why — it seems so self-evident, of course, that one can condemn what Hamas did and simultaneously oppose this brutal, ongoing assault on Gaza.

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, it seems to me that one can be opposed, and should be opposed, to the killing of civilians. And that’s a basic ethical precept of war. And so it’s only logical to say that one objects to the killing of civilians on both sides. I think that what is problematic is how often many people who understand themselves as Zionists have said that the Hamas attacks justify the present response on the part of the Israeli military. But as we see, the military powers are radically asymmetrical. And this is not a conflict where, oh, both sides are at fault in some equal way. We have to understand the history of the violence that has been inflicted against Palestine, including Gaza, and I would include as part of that violence the deprivation of the people of drinking water, of healthcare, of basic foods and electricity, that, in other words, the very conditions of life itself have been attacked systematically.

So, I think that I can’t speak for all of the people who signed that letter. But as Jews, we do say, “Not in our name.” This is the — what the Israeli state is doing, what the Israeli military forces are doing does not represent us. It doesn’t represent our values. And because, as I’ve said, I think what we’re seeing is the implementation of a genocidal plan, according to international legal definitions of genocide, as Jews, it is imperative, ethically, politically, to speak out against genocide, just as it is to speak out against the production of a new class of refugees or the intensification of refugee status for so many Palestinians, who have, in some cases, been refugees since 1948. Their families have. So, that’s, I think, the basic thinking behind that petition.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Butler, I wanted to turn to John Kirby, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, who was speaking this week at a White House press briefing.

JOHN KIRBY: This is war. It is combat. It is bloody, it is ugly, and it’s going to be messy. And innocent civilians are going to be hurt, going forward. I wish I could tell you something different. I wish that that wasn’t going to happen. But it is. It is going to happen.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the killing of civilians is just going to happen. Judith Butler, if you could respond also, as a Jewish professor, for those in the Israeli government, like Naftali Bennett, who have said, “Are you seriously talking about Palestinian civilians?” that if you are to raise your concerns about Palestinians, that it somehow minimizes what happens on — what happened on October 7th, the killing of 1,400 Israelis, the worst killing of — mass killing of Jews since the Holocaust?

JUDITH BUTLER: So, when the national security spokesperson claims that it’s just too bad that civilians will lose their lives in Gaza, and that he wishes that it were not the case, he is, in fact, lying. Civilians are targeted. And I think we can also say that one of the things that is happening right now is that — and it has been happening for some time — is that the Israeli state claims that all these civilian targets it hits are shields for military installations. Well, that’s a very convenient explanation, but it doesn’t explain the bombing of homes, the bombing — and the targeting and bombing of people as they are fleeing the north to the south. So, I think that this is bad faith, at best, and a brutal lie, if we’re to be honest.

I think, as well, that there are, unfortunately, some Jewish groups and Zionist groups that care fully or exclusively or primarily about Jewish life, and their position is that the destruction of Jewish life is the worst possible thing in the world — and it is terrible. It’s absolutely terrible. But Jewish life is no more valuable than Palestinian life. And I think that you might find a number of people who agree with that in the abstract, but they take the massive targeting, the slaughter campaign against Gaza as justifiable, because no amount of violence can possibly compensate for their sense of injury.

I would just add that it is extremely difficult to get the media and the press to offer graphic and detailed descriptions of what the suffering is in Gaza. We hear much more, say, in The New York Times about Israeli lives and the losses they’ve endured. But we never get the same kind of coverage of Palestine. We sometimes get numbers. And as you’ve seen, those numbers could be disputed, even by Biden, even though they’re supplied by United Nations agencies or respectable agencies on the ground. So, there are all kinds of ways of minimizing and derealizing — that is to say, making fake or making illusory — Palestinian deaths. And I think our job, as scholars, activists, people in journalism, is to bring that into the open and make these lives and these deaths meaningful for the greater public.

THE MAJORITY REPORT yesterday also addressed media portrayals.

Emma and the TMR gang are analyzing a clip from SKY NEWS and in case anyone's not following the broadcast media, that will provide an example of the kind of message the media repeatedly sends.

Now back to the DEMOCRACY NOW segment.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Butler, I’d like to ask about your own work. You’ve written extensively on the question of why certain lives are valued more than others. If you could speak specifically about how this is reflected not only in the comments we just heard from John Kirby, but also in media coverage, mainstream media coverage, of the war here in the U.S. I’ll just quote from your 2009 work, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? In the book, you write, quote, “When we take our moral horror to be a sign of our humanity, we fail to note that the humanity in question is, in fact, implicitly divided between those for whom we feel urgent and unreasoned concern and those whose lives and deaths simply do not touch us, or do not appear as lives at all.” So, if you could, Professor Butler, speak about this and how it’s manifest, in particular, as you were talking about earlier in The New York Times, in the U.S. media? And you’re in Paris at the moment, so you could perhaps also address this as it’s reflected in the European media.

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, first of all, let’s just state what I take to be obvious and true, which is that the settler colonial framework of Israel’s occupation of Palestine is a racist one, and Palestinians are figured as less than human. They’re among the non-Europeans. There are obviously Jewish non-Europeans, as well. But they are racialized, and they are treated as less than human. So the loss of those lives is not marked and acknowledged as a loss. Of course, it is within Palestine. I mean, there are always ways of gathering and mourning and carrying the dead and honoring the dead. So, we’re talking only from the point of view of those who believe that the elimination of Palestinian lives or the constant damaging of Palestinian lives is somehow justified. They’re not seeing those lives as human lives, according to the idea of the human they have.

And we’ve seen this when Netanyahu calls them animals or others call them barbaric, or, let’s keep in mind, when they are understood to be just a strategic problem: “Oh, here’s this population that has to be managed. Maybe it can be deported.” So, you know, when someone like — when someone from the Israeli government talks about relocating Palestinians to Sinai, making them into an Egyptian problem, investigating housing that’s available outside of Cairo, they are actually talking about deporting people as if they’re goods or chattel, as if they have the right to do so, as if they own these people or that these people are somehow movable goods. This is already not just a radical dehumanization, but it makes possible the brutal treatment, the deportation and the killing that is in play right now. And I think we’re not just seeing random acts of bombardment. We’re seeing a plan unfold. And unless it’s interrupted by the U.S. and other major powers, it will be devastating.

Of course, in Europe, and in Paris, there was, for a time, an interdiction against supporting Palestine through public protest. And luckily, the Constitutional Court here struck that executive decision down, and at least 20,000 people were on the street just last weekend. And, of course, we’re seeing it more and more in U.S. academic circles, but also in European ones. Unless people condemn Hamas, they are not considered acceptable. They’re considered to be antisemitic. Unless people support Israel unequivocally, they are understood to be antisemitic or aligned with terrorism. And, of course, as soon as that happens, those who want to object publicly or at their universities to the injustice that’s being committed risk losing support, losing their jobs, becoming stigmatized. I know academics who have been suspended here and in Switzerland. I know, certainly, academics in Germany who try to speak out, who are then tarred with the accusation of being antisemitic.

It’s not antisemitic to criticize the state of Israel if the state of Israel is a settler colonial state that’s doing violence of an extraordinary kind. One objects to violence. One objects to settler colonial arrangements. One objects to injustice. Indeed, as a Jew, you’re obligated to object to injustice. You would not be a good Jew if you were not objecting to injustice. So, to be called antisemitic — and I have been called that for years by those who oppose me — because I stand for values that are also Jewish values, shared values, but Jewish values, too, is simply appalling.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened to you in Bern. In fact, we thought we were going to be interviewing you in Switzerland, but you had a talk canceled.

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, I canceled my own talk, because I saw that speaking at the University of Bern under these conditions would have produced a controversy and could have possibly hurt my hosts and their department. But it is true that there are certain places where people who are clearly anti-Zionist or who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which I do, that there are protests, that there are efforts to censor, there are efforts to take away forms of recognition or to block the gate. I mean, this is only intensifying on U.S. campuses. And, of course, we need to protect the right of assembly and protest and demonstration. To be in solidarity with Palestine is not necessarily to agree with all the military actions of Hamas, but it is to stand with the people who are being targeted in a genocidal manner.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Butler, if you could also speak about what you think a possible resolution to the present crisis is? Also, in the context of your 2020 book, The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind, how is it that we take your injunction, your urging of nonviolence — and, of course, it’s a complicated position that you take — to understand how this situation could potentially come to an end?

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, I do think, first of all, a ceasefire is immediately necessary. But then I think there will be no resolution unless Gazans are allowed to return to their homes and to rebuild them and to undertake the mourning and the living that is theirs to do. I think the occupation has to come to an end, and I include the siege of Gaza as part of the occupation. It’s sometimes said that, oh, Gaza is no longer occupied, that the occupation ended in 2005. That’s not true. It may be that troops pulled back, but every bit of that border, except perhaps the Rafah gate, is patrolled and controlled by Israeli state authorities. And that means that goods and people can’t come and go without Israeli authority. So there’s no political autonomy to speak of under conditions such as those.

But I also think that the kind of deportations we’re seeing right now, they happened in 1948, when the Nakba began. The Nakba is not just a single event that happened in 1948. It is an ongoing condition. So the violence we see now, the killing, the massacre, the dislocation, is a continuation of the Nakba. It is perhaps its most graphic moment in the present. But we should not be imagining that, oh, if we solve this particular conflict now, we will have gotten to the root of the problem. The root of the problem involves finding a way for Palestinians to have full power of self-determination, to live in a democratic society, for dispossession to come to an end, for stolen lands to be returned or acknowledged or for reparation to be given, and also a right of return for a lot of people who have been forced to leave under terrible circumstances.

AMY GOODMAN: Judith Butler, we want to thank you very much for being with us, philosopher, political commentator, gender studies scholar, distinguished professor in the Graduate School at University of California, Berkeley, and the Hannah Arendt chair at the European Graduate School, on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace. Since we have two minutes on the satellite left, that title of the Hannah Arendt school, if you could say where you think Hannah Arendt would stand today?

JUDITH BUTLER: Well, there are different parts of Hannah Arendt, but I would say that she was very smart in 1948 when she wrote that basing the state of Israel on the principle of Jewish sovereignty is a terrible mistake, and that it would produce conflict of a military character for decades to come. She was arguing for a binational structure, a pluralistic structure, where Jews and Palestinians could cohabit the land, where there would be some form of equality. I’m not sure her plan was totally worked out. It seemed to be derived from Martin Buber to a certain degree. But she did think that no state could be based on an ethnic or religious form of sovereignty without producing displacement for all the people who don’t belong to that religion, that ethnicity. So, she did predict that Israel would produce a massive class of refugees, and that it would be mired in conflict for years to come.

And it’s also why I think we have to remember the right of return. We will not get to the root of the problem unless we understand the more than — the millions of Palestinians whose families have been living in forced exile for all these years, and give them some acknowledgment, some reparation, some way of honoring the right of return.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much. To see Part 1 of our conversation with the professor at University of California, Berkeley, we want to urge you to go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

On the language used, Ramzy Baroud (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

  Indeed, effective political or military actions anywhere in the world hardly take place without an edifice of text and language that facilitates, rationalizes, and justifies those actions. Israel’s perception of Palestinians is a perfect illustration of this claim.

Prior to the establishment of Israel, Zionists denied the very existence of the Palestinians. Many still do.

When that is the case, it becomes only logical to draw a conclusion that Israel, in its own collective mind, cannot be morally culpable of killing those who have never existed in the first place.

Even when Palestinians factor into the Israeli political discourse, they become “bloodthirsty animals,” “terrorists,” or “drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”

It would be too convenient to label this as just “racist.” Though racism is at work here, this sense of racial supremacy does not exist to merely maintain a sociopolitical order, in which Israelis are masters and Palestinians are serfs. It is far more complex.

As soon as Palestinian fighters from Gaza crossed into the southern border of Israel, killing hundreds, not a single Israeli politician, analyst, or mainstream intellectual seemed interested in the context of the daring act.

The post-October 7 language used by Israelis, but also many Americans, created the atmosphere necessary for the savage Israeli response which followed.

The number of Palestinians killed in the first eight days of the Israeli war against Gaza has reportedly exceeded the number of casualties who were killed during the longest and most destructive Israeli war on the strip, dubbed “Protective Edge,” in 2014.

According to The Defense for Children International–Palestine, a Palestinian child is killed every 15 minutes, and, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 70% of all of Gaza’s casualties are women and children.

For Israel, none of these facts matter. In the mind of Israeli President Isaac Herzog, often perceived as a “moderate,” the “rhetoric about civilians not (being) involved (is) absolutely not true.” They are legitimate targets, simply because they “could’ve risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime,” he said, referring to Hamas. 

Norah Barrows-Friedman, Alia Abunimah, Asa Winstanley and Refaat Alareer had a roundtable discussion yesterday on recent Gaza events.

The US government tries to make Iran the scapegoat of foreign countries over the assault of Gaza.  This is not about Iran -- though the US government will gladly and happily use Gaza to go to war with Iran.  This is about the Palestinian people and they are the reason the other Middle East governments are not pleased with the US government.  This is all avoidable, no matter what John Kirby or any other US government hack says.  It was avoidable, further slaughter still can be avoided.  But instead of being a rational voice, the US government is part of the slaughter.  And it's Jordan and it's Iraq and it's Egypt and it's everyone in the region that is dismayed by the US refusing to call for a cease-fire -- by the US stopping a resolution for a cease-fire at the United Nations.

The support of Washington and the European powers for Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinians in Gaza and the looming prospect of a US war with Iran have provoked a desperate crisis in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.

After the Israel-Gaza war broke out on October 7, Erdoğan initially tried to block a mass movement against Israeli bombings in Gaza. Turkish riot police assaulted solidarity protests with Gaza, as Erdoğan called for “de-escalation” and a “ceasefire,” equating the violence of the Palestinians with the imperialist-backed Israeli state. On Wednesday, however, as the Israeli regime ignored his calls for “restraint” and outrage mounted in the overwhelming majority of the Turkish people, he was forced to suddenly shift his policy.

In a speech at a meeting of his party, Erdoğan said: “We have made every effort in order for this crisis to not further escalate, and will continue to do so … We have clearly stated that we never approve of any acts against civilians, including Israeli civilians, no matter who carries these acts out.” He added: “We do not have any problem with the State of Israel, but we never have and never will approve of Israeli oppression and their course of action, which resembles that of an organization rather than a state.”

Even a butcher like Recep is calling the US government out.  Even Recep.  That's how wrong the US has been in this conflict. 

And this hatred and violence that the US is targeting on the Palestinian people is washing right back to our own shore.  Lauren Sforza (THE HILL) notes:

The number of Islamophobic incidents in the United States has dramatically spiked since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the militant group Hamas, according to an advocacy group.
The Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced Wednesday that it has received 774 complaints and reported incidents of bias from across the U.S. since Hamas launched its deadly surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

 The advocacy group estimated that this is the largest number of complaints received in a similar time period since former President Trump, a presidential candidate at the time, announced his intentions for a Muslim ban in the United States in 2015.

“Anyone with a conscience should be deeply concerned by this sudden rise in complaints amid an atmosphere of rampant anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Palestinian racism,” Corey Saylor, research and advocacy director at CAIR, said.

“Public officials should do everything in their power to keep the wave of hate sweeping the nation right now from spiraling out of control,” Saylor added. “That includes bringing the horrific violence overseas to an end before it endangers more innocent people there and here at home.”

As the violence increases abroad and at home, Joe Biden's poll numbers decrease.  Zachary Basu (AXIOS) reports:

President Biden's approval rating among Democrats has plummeted to a record low of 75% — down a staggering 11 percentage points over just the last month, according to a new Gallup poll conducted between Oct. 2 and Oct. 23.

Why it matters: Biden is at risk of alienating members of his own party with his unequivocal support for Israel, which has carried out a weeks-long bombardment and total siege of Gaza in response to Hamas' Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.

The polling wasn't in yet but we were noting that reality two Fridays ago -- based upon the years and years of on campus speaking we've been doing. 

Joe has painted himself into a corner with his response.  It was out of touch and alienating.  That's not surprising.  Joe spent his entire adult working life in the US Senate.  That position doesn't bring a lot of awareness with it.  His stand is one that would be widely supported . . . if it were 1973 -- the year Joe was sworn into the Senate.  But it's actually 2023.  Rolling Stones, sing the song:

You don't know what's going on
You've been away for far too long
You can't come back and think you are still mine
You're out of touch, my baby
My poor discarded baby
I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
Well, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
You are left out
Out of there without a doubt, 'cause
Baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
== "Out of Time" written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, first appears on AFTERMATH.

We'll wind down with this from THE BLACK COMMENTATOR:

The Black Commentator Issue #975 is now Online
October 26, 2023

Read issue 975

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