Trump Vows ‘Judgement Day’ for Opponents and ‘Largest Deportation in History’ If Elected

Original article by JON QUEALLY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Former US President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting on February 24, 2024, in National Harbor, Maryland.

“Our country is being destroyed and the only thing standing between you and its obliteration is me,” the far-right former president declared during his speech at CPAC

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said Election Day in November this year will end up being a “judgement day” for his political opponents if he wins and vowed mass deportations on a scale never seen in the United States.

As part of a rambling and bizarre speech at the annual CPAC gathering of far-right activists and GOP operatives, Trump said, “For hardworking Americans, November 5 will be our new liberation day. But for the liars and cheaters and fraudsters and censors and imposters who have commandeered our government, it will be judgement day.”


Though he previously served as the President of the United States and remains de facto head of the Republican Party, Trump cast himself to the fascist audience members as a political “dissident” who would have his “ultimate and absolute revenge” on President Joe Biden and the Democrats who he claimed had turned the nation into a “living hell.”

Federal statistics show that crime rates have fallen since 2022, but that didn’t stop Trump from characterizing the nation as a crime-ridden dystopia on verge of annihiliation.

“Our country is being destroyed and the only thing standing between you and its obliteration is me,” Trump declared, harnessing his familiar demagoguery in which he characterizes himself as an authoritarian savior.

Trump promised to enact that “largest deportation in the history of our country” if put back in the White House as he continued his vilification and dehumanization of immigrants and asylum seekers.

“We have no choice,” Trump declared. “It’s not a nice thing and I hate to say it, and those clowns in the media will say ‘Oh he’s so mean.’ No, no. [Migrants are] killing our people, they’re killing our country.”

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Trump and his allies are already planning ahead for an aggressve anti-immigrant plan that would include use of the military to round people up, hold them in detention camps, and remove them from the country.

“He was obsessed with having the military involved,” said one former senior administration official who spoke to the Post.

In a particularly bizarre and racist digression, Trump claimed Saturday that migrants coming into the U.S. are speaking languages “that nobody in this country has ever heard of” and carry diseases “nobody ever heard about.”

Following Trump’s CPAC speech, the Biden campaign’s rapid response director Ammar Moussa, dismissed Trump as a “loser” and said the American people have previously made clear they’ve seen enough of what he represents.

“America already had the opportunity to choose if they wanted another four years of hell with Donald Trump’s chaos, division, and crazy—they said no—and will again in November,” Moussa said.

Original article by JON QUEALLY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

‘My ultimate and absolute revenge’: Trump gives chilling CPAC speech on presidential agenda (including calling himself ‘total genius’)

Continue ReadingTrump Vows ‘Judgement Day’ for Opponents and ‘Largest Deportation in History’ If Elected

‘Make Argentina Great Again’: Far-Right Trump and Milei Embrace at CPAC

Original article republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Argentine President Javier Milei speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting on February 24, 2024, in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“This is an unholy alliance,” said one critic of the pair, “mark my words.”

Disgraced former President Donald Trump of the United States and Argentina’s recently-elected libertarian President Javier Milei met and shared a warm embrace backstage at the annual CPAC gathering on Saturday.

Milei, the libertarian firebrand who vowed to “chainsaw” his nation’s social programs and usher in a new era of neoliberal austerity in the Latin American nation, was in town to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference where Trump also spoke on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s a very big honor for me,” Milei said to Trump as they met, with the Argentinian seeming to thank him for political support during his campaign.

Trump responded by saying, “MAGA! Make Argentina Great Again.” As they posed for photos together, Trump said, “You look fantastic” and told Milei he was doing a great job.

“I won’t forget you, I can promise you that,” Trump said.

“I’ll see you again,” said Milei. “And next time I hope you will be president.”

“I hope so too,” said Trump.

Critics of the pair, like researcher Ana M. Fuentes, suggested the meeting was an ominous one.

“Oh man. I was hoping the Milei meets Trump clip was a parody…but it’s not,” Fuentes said on social media. “This is an unholy alliance, born at CPAC, mark my words.”

Original article republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue Reading‘Make Argentina Great Again’: Far-Right Trump and Milei Embrace at CPAC

Satellites are burning up in the upper atmosphere – and we still don’t know what impact this will have on the Earth’s climate

Paul Fleet / shutterstock

Fionagh Thomson, Durham University

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has announced it will dispose of 100 Starlink satellites over the next six months, after it discovered a design flaw that may cause them to fail. Rather than risk posing a threat to other spacecraft, SpaceX will “de-orbit” these satellites to burn up in the atmosphere.

But atmospheric scientists are increasingly concerned that this sort of apparent fly-tipping by the space sector will cause further climate change down on Earth. One team recently, and unexpectedly, found potential ozone-depleting metals from spacecraft in the stratosphere, the atmospheric layer where the ozone layer is formed.

The relative “low earth orbit” where satellites monitoring Earth’s ecosystems are found is increasingly congested – Starlink alone has more than 5,000 spacecraft in orbit. Clearing debris is therefore a priority for the space sector. Newly launched spacecraft must also be removed from orbit within 25 years (the US recently implemented a stricter five-year rule) either by moving upwards to a so-called “graveyard orbit” or down into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Lower orbiting satellites are usually designed to use any remaining fuel and the pull of the Earth’s gravity to re-enter the atmosphere. In a controlled reentry, the spacecraft enters the atmosphere at a pre-set time to land in the most remote part of the Pacific Ocean at Point Nemo (aka the spacecraft cemetery). In an uncontrolled re-entry, spacecraft are left to follow a “natural demise” and burn up in the atmosphere.

Nasa and the European Space Agency promote this form of disposal as part of a design philosophy called “design for demise”. It is an environmental challenge to build, launch and operate a satellite robust enough to function in the hostility of space yet also able to break up and burn up easily on re-entry to avoid dangerous debris reaching the Earth’s surface. It’s still a work in progress.

Satellite operators must prove their design and re-entry plans have a low “human-hit” rate before they are awarded a license. But there is limited concern regarding the impact on Earth’s upper atmosphere during the re-entry stage. This is not an oversight.

Initially, neither the space sector nor the astrophysics community considered burning up satellites on re-entry to be a serious environmental threat – to the atmosphere, at least. After all, the number of spacecraft particles released is small when compared with 440 tonnes of meteoroids that enter the atmosphere daily, along with volcanic ash and human-made pollution from industrial processes on Earth.

Bad news for the ozone layer?

So are atmospheric climate scientists overreacting to the presence of spacecraft particles in the atmosphere? Their concerns draw on 40 years of research into the cause of the ozone holes above the south and north poles, that were first widely observed in the 1980s.

Today, they now know that ozone loss is caused by human-made industrial gases, which combine with natural and very high altitude polar stratospheric clouds or mother of pearl clouds. The surfaces of these ethereal clouds act as catalysts, turning benign chemicals into more active forms that can rapidly destroy ozone.

Colourful cloud in night sky
Mother of pearl cloud in the stratosphere above Norway.
Uwe Michael Neumann / shutterstock

Dan Cziczo is an atmospheric scientist at Purdue University in the US, and a co-author of the recent study that found ozone depleting substances in the stratosphere. He explains to me that the question is whether the new particles from spacecraft will help the formation of these clouds and lead to ozone loss at a time when the Earth’s atmosphere is just beginning to recover.

Of more concern to atmospheric scientists such as Cziczo is that only a few new particles could create more of these types of polar clouds – not only at the upper atmosphere, but also in the lower atmosphere, where cirrus clouds form. Cirrus clouds are the thin, wispy ice clouds you might spot high in the sky, above six kilometres. They tend to let heat from the sun pass through but then trap it on the way out, so in theory more cirrus clouds could add extra global warming on top of what we are already seeing from greenhouse gases. But this is uncertain and still being studied.

Cziczo also explains that from anecdotal evidence we know that the high-altitude clouds above the poles are changing – but we don’t know yet what is causing this change. Is it natural particles such as meteoroids or volcanic debris, or unnatural particles from spacecrafts? This is what we need to know.

Concerned, but not certain

So how do we answer this question? We have some research from atmospheric scientists, spacecraft builders and astrophysicists, but it’s not rigorous or focused enough to make informed decisions on which direction to take. Some astrophysicists claim that alumina (aluminium oxide) particles from spacecraft will cause chemical reactions in the atmosphere that will likely trigger ozone destruction.

Atmospheric scientists who study this topic in detail have not made this jump as there isn’t enough scientific evidence. We know particles from spacecraft are in the stratosphere. But what this means for the ozone layer or the climate is still unknown.

It is tempting to overstate research findings to garner more support. But this is the path to research hell – and deniers will use poor findings at a later date to discredit the research. We also don’t want to use populist opinions. But we’ve also learnt that if we wait until indisputable evidence is available, it may be too late, as with the loss of ozone. It’s a constant dilemma.The Conversation

Fionagh Thomson, Senior Research Fellow in Space Ethics and Sustainability, Durham University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingSatellites are burning up in the upper atmosphere – and we still don’t know what impact this will have on the Earth’s climate

Shielding US Public From Israeli Reports of Friendly Fire on October 7

Original article by BRYCE GREENE republished from FAIR under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Since October, the Israeli press has uncovered damning evidence showing that an untold number of the Israeli victims during the October 7 Hamas attack were in fact killed by the IDF response.

While it is indisputable that the Hamas-led attackers were responsible for many Israeli civilian deaths that day, reports from Israel indicate that the IDF in multiple cases fired on and killed Israeli civilians. It’s an important issue that demands greater transparency—both in terms of the questions it raises about IDF policy, and in terms of the black-and-white narrative Israel has advanced about what happened on October 7, used to justify its ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, IDF responsibility for Israeli deaths has been a repeated topic of discussion in the Israeli press, accompanied by demands for investigations. But the most US readers have gotten from their own press about the issue is a dismissive piece from the Washington Post about October 7 “truthers.”

Implementing the Hannibal Directive?

Israel’s Haaretz (12/13/23) is willing to raise questions that seem to be taboo in the US press.

In the wake of October 7, after Israel began its genocidal campaign against Gaza, reports began to emerge from the Israeli press of incidents in which Israeli troops made decisions to fire on Hamas targets regardless of whether Israeli civilians were present.

That the IDF’s initial reaction was chaotic at best is well-documented. Much of the early military response came from the air, with little information for pilots and drone operators to distinguish targets but orders to shoot anyway (Grayzone10/27/23). Citing a police source, Haaretz (11/18/23) reported that at the Supernova music festival site, “an IDF combat helicopter that arrived to the scene and fired at terrorists there apparently also hit some festival participants.” But there are also mainstream Israeli media reports that credibly suggest the IDF may have implemented a policy to sacrifice Israeli hostages.

Supernova music festival attendee Yasmin Porat had escaped the festival on foot to the nearby village of Be’eri, only to be held hostage in a home with 13 others. One of the captors surrendered and released Porat to IDF troops outside. She described how, after a prolonged standoff, Israeli tank fire demolished that home and killed all but one of the remaining Israeli hostages. Her account was verified by the other surviving hostage (Electronic Intifada, 10/16/23Haaretz12/13/23). One of the Israeli victims was a child who had been held up as an example of Hamas’s brutality (Grayzone11/25/23).

Electronic Intifada (1/20/24) quoted the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth (1/12/24) as saying that Israel “instructed all its fighting units to perform the Hannibal Directive in practice, although it did so without stating that name explicitly.”

Yedioth Ahronoth (1/12/24; translated into English by Electronic Intifada1/20/24)—one of Israel’s most widely read newspapers—published a bombshell piece that put these revelations in context. The paper reported that the IDF instructed its members

to stop “at any cost” any attempt by Hamas terrorists to return to Gaza, using language very similar to that of the original Hannibal Directive, despite repeated promises by the defense apparatus that the directive had been canceled.

The Hannibal Directive—named for the Carthaginian general who allegedly ingested poison rather than be captured by his enemies—is the once-secret doctrine meant to prevent at all costs the taking of IDF soldiers as hostages, even at the risk of harming the soldier (Haaretz11/1/11). It was supposedly revoked in 2016, and was ostensibly never meant to be applied to civilians (Haaretz1/17/24).

Yedioth Ahronoth reported:

It is not clear at this stage how many of the captives were killed due to the operation of this order on October 7. During the week after Black Sabbath [i.e., October 7] and at the initiative of Southern Command, soldiers from elite units examined some 70 vehicles that had remained in the area between the Gaza Envelope settlements and the Gaza Strip. These were vehicles that did not reach Gaza because on their way they had been hit by fire from a helicopter gunship, a UAV or a tank, and at least in some of the cases, everyone in the vehicle was killed.

Reports that the IDF gave orders to disregard the lives of Israeli captives have caused great consternation in Israel (Haaretz12/13/23). An author of the IDF ethics code called it “unlawful, unethical, horrifying” (Haaretz1/17/23). Yet any mention of the reports, or the debates they have inspired in Israel, seems to be virtually taboo in the mainstream US media.

The only mention of “Hannibal directive” FAIR could find in a major US newspaper the since October 7 came in a New York Post article (12/18/23) paraphrasing a released hostage who

claimed that Hamas told them the Israel Defense Forces would employ the infamous “Hannibal Directive” on civilians, a revoked protocol that once allegedly called on troops to prioritize taking out terrorists even if it meant killing a kidnapped soldier.

‘A general’s dilemma’

Readers had to read 150 paragraphs into this New York Times piece (12/22/23) before they came to the stunning revelation that an Israeli general ordered an assault on a house full of hostages “even at the cost of civilian casualties.”

A version of Supernova attendee Porat’s account was related a few days later in the New York Times (12/22/23), which published a lengthy investigative report piecing together what happened across the village of Be’eri. That report included a section about the standoff at the house where Porat was held, under the subhead “A General’s Dilemma.” It did not mention Porat’s prior revelations in Israeli media and the controversy they had caused.

The piece described how

the captors had forced roughly half of the hostages, including the Dagans, into Ms. Cohen’s backyard. They positioned the hostages between the troops and the house, according to Ms. Dagan and Ms. Porat.

After more than an hour of gunfire between the IDF and the gunmen, Ms. Dagan reported seeing at least two hostages in the backyard “killed in the gunfire. It wasn’t clear who killed them, she said.”

The article continued:

As the dusk approached, the SWAT commander and General [Barak] Hiram began to argue. The SWAT commander thought more kidnappers might surrender. The general wanted the situation resolved by nightfall.

Minutes later, the militants launched a rocket-propelled grenade, according to the general and other witnesses who spoke to the Times.

”The negotiations are over,” General Hiram recalled telling the tank commander. ”Break in, even at the cost of civilian casualties.”

The tank fired two light shells at the house.

Shrapnel from the second shell hit Mr. Dagan in the neck, severing an artery and killing him, his wife said.

During the melee, the kidnappers were also killed.

Only two of the 14 hostages—Ms. Dagan and Ms. Porat—survived.

It’s a shocking order; it’s also shocking that the Times offered no comment about the order. After the revelation caused a firestorm in Israel, including demands for an immediate investigation by family of those killed in the incident, the Times (12/27/23) published a followup about how General Hiram’s quote “stirred debate,” including multiple quotes from the general’s defenders.

Ignoring the context

There was another rare mention of Israeli friendly fire in New York Times (1/5/24), reporting on Palestinian Jerusalem resident Soheib Abu Amar, who was also held hostage and ultimately killed in the house Porat escaped from. Bizarrely, it did not mention the controversy over Hiram’s order.

Under the headline, “A Palestinian Man Vanished October 7. His Family Wants to Know Who Killed Him,” the Times traced Abu Amar’s disappearance that day, which began as a bus driver for partygoers at the music festival. Describing his final moments, the Times wrote that “Israeli security forces engaged in an intense battle with Hamas terrorists at the home” in which nearly “all of the hostages were killed.” It later mentioned that “families of the hostages…want an investigation to begin immediately,” but made no mention of Hiram’s order.

None of these Times articles put the Be’eri incident in the context of the Israeli press reports of other “friendly fire” incidents, and no other Times reporting has mentioned them, either, leaving the impression that the Hiram order was an isolated incident.

This is especially remarkable, given that one of the reporters on the Yedioth Ahronoth story, Ronen Bergenen, is also a New York Times contributor, and shared the byline on the Times‘ Be’eri investigation. His Yedioth Ahronoth revelations have yet to be mentioned in the Times, or elsewhere in US corporate media.

‘A small but growing group’

The Washington Post (1/21/24) conflates random cranks who claim that the October 7 attack was “staged by the Israeli military” with independent journalists who report on Israeli media exposés of friendly fire deaths—and associates both with Holocaust denial.

Meanwhile, the first time the Washington Post (1/21/24) made any mention of the controversies, it did so indirectly, and only to dismiss them by conflating them with conspiracy theories. Under the headline “Growing October 7 ‘Truther’ Groups Say Hamas Massacre Was a False Flag,” Post “Silicon Valley correspondent” Elizabeth Dwoskin attacked “truthers” who question the Israeli narrative of October 7, equating them with Holocaust deniers.

The Post’s first subject was a woman named Mirela Monte, who subscribed to a Telegram channel called Uncensored Truths. This convinced her that October 7 was a “’false flag’ staged by the Israelis—likely with help from the Americans—to justify genocide in Gaza.” The Post reported that the channel had nearly 3,000 subscribers, but despite this relatively miniscule reach, still used it as its lead example of dangerous misinformation.

Another target was an anonymous poster on the niche subreddit r/LateStageCapitalism, who claimed that “the Hamas attack was a false flag for Israel to occupy Gaza and kill Palestinians.” Though this is an internet forum largely consisting of memes, the Post described the subreddit as “a community of left-wing activists.”

These were held up as examples of a “small but growing group” that “denies the basic facts of the attacks,” pushes “falsehoods” and “misleading narratives” that “minimize the violence or dispute its origins.” The Post cited a seemingly random woman at a protest who claimed that “Israel murdered their own people on October 7”—linking her to “some in the crowd” who allegedly shouted “antisemitism isn’t real.”

But the Post avoided any attempt to address the empirical question of whether Israel killed any of its own on October 7. Dwoskin’s only reference to the reports from Israel come in a paragraph meant to downplay that question:

Israeli citizens have accused the country’s military of accidentally killing Israeli civilians while battling Hamas on October 7; the army has said it will investigate.

Dwoskin’s framing suggests these are minor concerns that are being appropriately dealt with. But those accusations are not of accidental killings, but of deliberate choices to treat Israeli civilians as expendable. And an internal army investigation is not the same as an independent investigation.

Moreover, the IDF only agreed to investigate the Be’eri incident, not the question of whether the Hannibal Directive was issued—and only after press scrutiny and public pressure, demonstrating the importance of having journalists willing to challenge those in power rather than covering up for them, as Dwoskin’s article did.

Attacking independent journalism

The Washington Post (1/21/24) falsely claimed that Grayzone “suggest[ed] that most Israeli deaths were caused by friendly fire, not Hamas,” because the outlet’s actual claim—that “the Israeli military killed its own citizens as they fought to neutralize Palestinian gunmen”—could not be refuted.

Dwoskin continued by attacking independent media outlets that have been covering the story: “But articles on Electronic Intifada and Grayzone exaggerated these claims to suggest that most Israeli deaths were caused by friendly fire, not Hamas.”

Electronic Intifada and the Grayzone are among the few outlets that have exposed English-language audiences to the reporting from Israel about the IDF’s attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7. To criticize Grayzone‘s reporting (10/27/23), the Post cited the director of “an Israeli watchdog organization dedicated to fighting disinformation,” who said that Grayzone “distorts” a helicopter pilot’s account of having trouble “distinguishing between civilians and Hamas.”

On the word “distorts,” Dwoskin hyperlinked to a Haaretz op-ed (11/27/23) attacking Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal’s reporting. That piece accused him misusing ellipses when he quoted the pilot from the Ynet piece who said there was “tremendous difficulty in distinguishing within the occupied outposts and settlements who was a terrorist and who was a soldier or civilian.”

Haaretz complained that Blumenthal’s ellipses left out a statement from the pilot: “A decision was made that the first mission of the combat helicopters and the armed drones was to stop the flow of terrorists and the murderous mob that poured into Israeli territory through the gaps in the fence.” Blumenthal, the paper complained, ignored that “the pilots were assigned a different task: stopping the terrorists flowing in from Gaza,” and that there was “no ambiguity in this task.”

However, this is entirely consistent with Blumenthal’s claim that “the pilots let loose a fury of cannon and missile fire onto Israeli areas below.” Given that hundreds of hostages were concurrently being taken from Israel into Gaza, there was a great deal of “ambiguity” in the task of “stop[ping] the flow of terrorists…through the gaps in the fence.” It’s highly relevant that the pilot said it was very difficult to distinguish “who was a terrorist and who was a soldier or civilian,” and that only later did the IDF “carefully select the targets.”

The Haaretz piece made several other dubious accusations, including charging Blumenthal with using “biased language” when he described Hamas as “militants” and “gunmen”—terms chosen by many establishment news outlets precisely to avoid bias (AP on Twitter1/7/21BBC10/11/23).

The op-ed also accused Blumenthal of omitting “everything related to the war crimes committed by Hamas terrorists,” ignoring his clear statement in his article that “video filmed by uniformed Hamas gunmen makes it clear they intentionally shot many Israelis with Kalashnikov rifles on October 7.”

The Post offered no example of the Grayzone claiming “most” Israeli deaths were caused by friendly fire, and FAIR could find no such claims in the outlet’s October 7 coverage. It has, however, reported extensively on the friendly fire reports in Israeli media that the Post has so studiously avoided.

Hiding the accusations

The Washington Post (1/21/24) misquoted this Electronic Intifada article (11/23/23) as saying that “‘most’ Israeli casualties on October 7″—military and civilian—were killed by friendly fire. What the article actually said was that “Israel killed many, if not most, of the civilians that died during the Palestinian offensive.”

The independent Palestinian-run outlet Electronic Intifada has also based its reporting on articles and interviews from the Israeli press (e.g., Ynet, 10/15/23Haaretz10/20/2311/9/2311/18/23Times of Israel11/9/23). The Washington Post, however, only wrote that EI senior editor Asa Winstanley was “basing the story, in part, on a YouTube clip (10/15/23) of a man who describes himself as a former Israeli general.”

As Winstanley noted in his response to Dwoskin, “‘Graeme Ipp’ described himself—and actually was—an Israeli major, as I explain in detail in the piece itself.” The Post did not link to the article, video or give any citation to help readers find the article in question, which served to conceal the blatant misquotation.

The Post also misquoted Winstanley to claim he wrote that “most” of the Israeli civilians were killed by the Israeli military that day. In reality, Winstanely (Electronic Intifada11/23/23) wrote that Ipp’s testimony was confirmation that “Israel killed many, if not most, of the civilians that died during the Palestinian offensive.”

Had the Post actually pointed its readers to the reporting from the Grayzone and Electronic Intifada, readers may have been able to more easily understand Dwoskin’s distortions. But discrediting those outlets serves an important political purpose: Along with Mondoweiss, they are some of the only English-language outlets that have covered the bombshell revelations that appear frequently within the Israeli press. Attacking their reporting hides from US public view the numerous accusations of deliberate mishandling of intelligence and mass killing by the IDF of its own civilians.

Mondoweiss (2/1/24): “Stories of atrocity, sometimes cobbled together from unreliable eyewitnesses, sometimes fabricated entirely, have made their way to heads of state and been used to justify Israel’s military violence.”

Holocaust denial?

A sizable chunk of the Washington Post‘s article centered on interviews with pro-Israel “experts” linking October 7 “truthers” to Holocaust denialism, or promoting “internet-driven conspiracy theories.” Dwoskin cited Emerson Brooking, a researcher from the NATO-affiliated Atlantic Council think tank, who warned that “the long tail of Holocaust denial is a lesson in what may happen to October 7.”

Dismissing any actual investigation into the facts, Brooking says, “It’s generally indisputable that Hamas did something—the pro-Hamas camp can’t erase that entirely.” He never specifies what that “something” was—the exact issue in question. Instead, he assumes that “something” is settled fact, and that anyone who investigates it is trying to “chip away at it” in an attempt at “rewriting…history.”

The Post equates people questioning the Holocaust—which has a factual record established over decades of international investigations, scholarship and research—with questioning the details of what Hamas called the Al Aqsa Flood, which has only ever been investigated by the Israeli government. That government, it should be recalled, has a documented record of blatantly lying and fabricating evidence.

Israel’s justification for its relentless assault upon Gaza has depended in large part upon its narrative. Since October 7, the Israeli government has blocked or rejected any serious international inquiry into the attacks or the IDF response. The US government has declined to call for or engage in any investigation.

On the other hand, in a recent statement, Hamas—which maintains that the Al Aqsa Flood was a military, not a terror, operation—has publicly agreed to cooperate with an international investigation into its own war crimes (Palestine Chronicle1/21/24).

Many of the most lurid claims that mobilized public opinion in support of Israel’s attack (e.g., 40 beheaded babies, babies cooked in ovens, etc.) have since been debunked and disproven (Mondoweiss2/1/24). In fact, Haaretz (11/18/23) revealed that Hamas had no prior knowledge of the festival they were accused of targeting.

Israeli and US officials repeatedly attribute all civilian deaths to Hamas, even though this is certainly false. Clearly, then, s0me Israeli civilian casualties have been “blame[d] on another party.”

How many Israeli civilians were actually killed by Hamas, and how many by Israel? Was the Al Aqsa Flood a terrorist attack designed to kill as many civilians as possible? These are important questions that have yet to be conclusively and independently answered, but the Washington Post seems to want to dissuade people from even asking them. In evoking the specter of Holocaust denial, Dwoskin and the Post are not defending the truth, but attempting to protect readers from it.

Original article by BRYCE GREENE republished from FAIR under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Continue ReadingShielding US Public From Israeli Reports of Friendly Fire on October 7

US and UK launch missile strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen

War porn: Smoke rises from a Houthi position after US and UK strikes in Sana’a, Yemen on Saturday. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Joint statement says 18 sites across eight locations were targeted, including missile storage facilities

The US and UK carried out strikes against 18 Houthi targets including underground weapons and missile storage facilities in Yemen on Saturday in the latest round of military action against the Iran-linked group that continues to attack shipping in the region.

The strikes were against Houthi targets across eight locations and also included air defence systems, radars, and a helicopter, officials said.

War porn: RAF Typhoon FGR4 and an RAF Voyager take off to conduct the strikes against Houthi targets. Photograph: Cpl Tim Laurence RAF/UK MoD

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “Four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s, supported by two Voyager tankers, again participated in a deliberate coalition strike on Saturday 24 February against Houthi military facilities in Yemen which had been conducting missile and drone attacks on commercial shipping and coalition naval forces in the Bab al-Mandab, southern Red Sea, and Gulf of Aden. The RAF aircraft were allocated multiple targets located at two sites.

War porn: Technicians load weapons to the RAF aircraft ahead of the strikes on Saturday. Photograph: Cpl Tim Laurence RAF/UK MoD

Continue ReadingUS and UK launch missile strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen

Morning Star: Smearing protesters as a threat to MPs is an excuse to suppress democratic rights

People take part in a Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally outside the Houses of Parliament, London, February 21, 2024

THE Prime Minister’s decision to frame the Speaker’s anti-democratic antics this week as “giving in to extremism” obscures reality.

Lindsay Hoyle’s claim he prioritised a Labour amendment over the SNP ceasefire motion because he was worried about MPs’ safety is a damage limitation bid.

But it chimes with ongoing Establishment propaganda painting peace demonstrators as extremists.

Every crisis of ruling-class legitimacy in recent years has prompted attacks on our democratic rights. Britain is racing towards an authoritarian future, with successive laws empowering police to make arrests on the vaguest grounds (such as causing a “nuisance”) and shut down protests before “disruption” even begins.

Now the idea that protest leaves MPs unsafe is used to justify curtailing democratic processes in Parliament itself. Keir Starmer did not browbeat Lindsay Hoyle into trashing procedures because he was worried about MPs’ safety.

He was trying to avoid the embarrassment of a revolt exposing divisions in his party.

Stop the War Coalition statement on democracy and the right to protest

Continue ReadingMorning Star: Smearing protesters as a threat to MPs is an excuse to suppress democratic rights

Government delays plans to double number of medical students in England

Junior doctors walk through a hospital corridor. Photograph: sturti/Getty Images

Fears for impact on NHS workforce as leaked letter reveals ministers stall on aim to increase trainee doctors to 15,000 by 2031

Ministers have dramatically stalled plans to double the number of doctors being trained in England by 2031 in a move that has caused dismay across the NHS, as well in medical schools and universities, the Observer can reveal.

In June last year, ministers backed a long-term plan to expand the NHS workforce and pledged, amid great fanfare, to “double medical school places by 2031 from 7,500 today to 15,000, with more medical school places in areas with the greatest shortages to level up training and help address geographic inequity”. Labour is also committed to raising the number of doctors to 15,000 by 2031.

But a leaked letter written jointly by health minister Andrew Stephenson and the minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, Robert Halfon, to the independent regulator the Office for Students, says they will fund only 350 additional places for trainee doctors in 2025-26. This is less than a quarter of the annual number widely anticipated and there is no guarantee that even that level of resource will be repeated.

Continue ReadingGovernment delays plans to double number of medical students in England

‘Small boat’ pilot Ibrahima Bah faces life in jail. He’s a scapegoat

Original article by Danai Avgeri republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

Forensic officers enter a tent containing the bodies of people who drowned while trying to cross the Channel in the boat piloted by Ibrahima Bah, who will be sentenced today under new legislation to criminalise ‘facilitating arrival’ for asylum seekers in the UK. ‘By convicting Bah of manslaughter, the jury effectively exonerated the UK of responsibility for its lethal border policies.’  | Leon Neal/Getty Images

Those who drive boats are often simply the poorest people on board. Those really at fault still walk free

Ibrahima Bah is today facing a possible life sentence for facilitating illegal entry into the UK, and for four counts of manslaughter by gross negligence. But the real culprits here remain off the hook – and this will almost certainly lead to more deaths.

Arrested in December 2022, Bah was steering an unseaworthy dinghy across the English Channel when it collapsed. The floor of the dinghy ripped when it approached the fishing vessel Arcturus and everyone stood up to try and be rescued. According to Utopia 56, a refugee charity that has announced legal action against the British coastguard and French agencies for this case, authorities failed to launch a search and rescue operation despite being alerted by Alarmphone, a hotline for migrants in distress at sea.

Eventually, four people were found dead while four were recorded missing. Some 39 survivors, most from Afghanistan, were rescued and claimed asylum in the UK.

Asylum seekers dying in the English Channel is not something new. In November 2021, 31 people, including a girl aged five and her teenage siblings, died after their dinghy sank in the Channel. And in October 2020, seven people, including five from one Iranian Kurdish family, lost their lives after a small boat carrying 20 migrants capsized off the French coast.

These are only a few examples in the long deadly history of the French-UK border. But Bah’s case marks a historic and troubling milestone: he is the first shipwreck survivor in the UK to face manslaughter charges for the deaths of fellow passengers.

A network called Captain Support that acts in solidarity with those accused of driving boats to Europe has been closely monitoring Bah’s case. Its members are right to point out the conviction marks a violent escalation in the criminalisation of migration by the UK government under its ‘stop the boats’ campaign and measures to cut net migration.

These have included unlawful and unenforceable schemes, such as the plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda; the launch of the Bibby Stockholm barge, leading to suicide and harm among detainees; and the planned introduction of an unattainable 50% increase in salary threshold for foreign workers to be allowed to come to the UK. Britain has also laid out plans to bar international students and care workers from bringing dependents to the UK.

Ironically, this frontal assault on migrant rights comes at a time when polls for the first time since 2016 suggest that most British people hold positive views of immigration, exposing the ‘stop the boats’ battle for its deeply ideological nature. But other aspects of the policy, less routinely covered in the media, have been no less damaging – and these directly relate to Ibrahima Bah’s unjust conviction.

The Nationality and Borders Act came into force in June 2022, expanding the scope of immigration crimes in the UK in response to the so-called ‘small boats crisis’. This act introduced the offence of ‘illegal arrival’ with a maximum penalty of four years in jail. It also expanded the scope of the more serious offence of ‘facilitating arrival’, of which Bah was convicted, and increased the maximum penalty to life imprisonment.

Hundreds of people have since been arrested and imprisoned for simply trying to reach the UK to claim asylum, according to a forthcoming report by Victoria Taylor, published by the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford and Border Criminologies.

While the government repeatedly invokes the mantra of favouring ‘safe and legal routes’ when justifying this increasingly draconian legislation, existing laws don’t provide any. As Amnesty International has pointed out: “The UK government does not allow anyone to make a claim for asylum unless they are physically present in the UK… It is impossible to come to the UK for the purpose of seeking asylum in any way permitted by the government’s immigration rules.”

openDemocracy revealed last year that a toddler and a father were among those who had died while waiting vainly for officially sanctioned UN routes to take them to safety; their families remain stranded in Turkey.

Aside from two temporary visa schemes that have been beset with their own problems – for asylum seekers from Ukraine with family or hosts in the UK, and Afghans who are in danger due to having worked with the UK government – anyone wishing to apply for asylum in the UK has no choice but to travel to the UK in an unauthorised manner.

In simple terms, the UK government requires asylum seekers to endanger their lives and break the law in order to exercise their lawful right to claim asylum.

Countering this means more than debunking the myths of ‘safe and legal’ routes. It’s also about addressing the criminalisation of ‘facilitating arrival’ – often presented as a necessary measure to uproot the ‘criminal gangs’ exploiting vulnerable individuals.

In fact, human rights organisations and academic researchers have time and again shown that counter-smuggling policies and targeting of boat drivers harms migrant communities the most. These policies overlook the reality that, in many instances, those piloting boats are the poorest and least resourced among asylum seekers, agreeing to steer these vessels and take on significant legal risks in exchange for free passage.

And indeed, Ibrahima, who is from Senegal – a country still grappling with the effects of colonialism and with 40% of its population living below the poverty line – asserted that this was precisely why he agreed to pilot the boat.

Having journeyed from Senegal to Mali, then Algeria and Libya, before taking a boat from Libya to Italy with the aid of smugglers, Bah decided to pilot the vessel in exchange for free passage. During his trial, Bah said when he realised the boat was unseaworthy, he refused to drive it, but he was then assaulted by those that organised the trip who coerced him into complying. The jury not only dismissed Bah’s claims but also the testimonies of the survivors themselves, who portrayed Ibrahima as an “angel” trying to save lives.

As detailed in Captain Support’s court report, a witness statement from the captain of the Arcturus presented Bah as “mouthy” and ungrateful, both racial stereotypes. The all-white jury concluded that Bah, a Black teenager, had failed in his duty of care towards his fellow passengers. By convicting Bah of manslaughter, the jury effectively exonerated the UK of responsibility for its lethal border policies.

The UK is not alone in this regard. In Italy, four survivors of the Cutro shipwreck are on trial for the deaths of at least 94 people, with one already convicted, despite evidence that the Italian authorities deemed the migrant boat ‘not of interest’ just before the shipwreck. And Greece prosecuted nine Egyptians over the 2023 shipwreck of the Adriana, which killed 600 near the coast of Pylos, despite mounting evidence for the Greek coastguard’s role in the boats capsizing.

Britain’s emulation of these policies is both predictable and deeply alarming. British prime minister Rishi Sunak recently teamed up with Italy’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni in her attempts to crack down on ‘illegal migration’. And in November 2023, Suella Braverman – then the UK home secretary and the architect of the ‘stop the boats’ campaign – lauded Greece’s “tough but fair migration policy” following her tour of one of Europe’s most harrowing borders. This dangerous coalition, which wields death and scapegoating as tools of deterrence, must be dismantled immediately.

Ibrahima Bah’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Friday 23 February. Solidarity actions have been called in response, including a call for support at 2pm at Canterbury Crown and a demonstration at 6pm at the Home Office.

Original article by Danai Avgeri republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

OpenDemocracy free Daily Email

Continue Reading‘Small boat’ pilot Ibrahima Bah faces life in jail. He’s a scapegoat

UK quits treaty that lets oil firms sue government

North Sea oil rigs in Cromarty Firth, Scotland. Credit: joiseyshowaa (CC BY-SA 2.0)
North Sea oil rigs in Cromarty Firth, Scotland. Credit: joiseyshowaa (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The UK has withdrawn from an international treaty that lets fossil-fuel companies sue governments pursuing climate policies for billions in compensation for lost profits.

The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is meant to make it easier and cheaper to trade energy between countries.

But signatories have struggled to reform it – and late on Wednesday, the UK quit the treaty calling it “outdated”.

Green campaigners welcomed the news.

Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Graham Stuart said: “Remaining a member would not support our transition to cleaner, cheaper energy and could even penalise us for our world-leading efforts to deliver net zero.”

Continue ReadingUK quits treaty that lets oil firms sue government

‘Bolder action is needed:’ Anti-poverty campaigners issue home truths for the Chancellor ahead of Spring Budget

‘Cost of living support may be receding but the tide of people not being able to afford life’s essentials is not. It is time we moved from stop-gaps to sustainable solutions.’

February 22, 2024, marked the last of the cost of living payments being sent out. The cash top-ups had been awarded to people receiving means-tested benefits, disability benefits, and pension credits, at regular intervals over the course of the cost of living crisis. They have been a lifeline for around eight million low-income families.

But with rising living costs driving disadvantaged households further into poverty, with prices still rising despite inflation easing, and food and energy remaining at extortionate levels, charities and experts have warned that the payments are not enough. They have expressed fears about what may happen if the government does not announce additional payments.

The final cost of living payment has renewed calls for the introduction of a system that is there whenever anyone falls on hard times, rather than being just a ‘stop gap’ solution.

Ahead of the Spring Budget on March 6, anti-poverty charities and campaigners are calling on the Chancellor for bolder action to tackle poverty during the cost of living crisis.

Continue Reading‘Bolder action is needed:’ Anti-poverty campaigners issue home truths for the Chancellor ahead of Spring Budget