BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The preliminary hearing for 16 Penn State University fraternity members charged in connection with the hazing death of a New Jersey pledge in February continues on Monday and Tuesday. The hearing lasted 10 hours in June with footage taken from surveillance cameras installed at the now-closed Beta Theta Pi fraternity being shown. State…
'It must end': House Dems blast Israel's assault of Gaza and decades of occupation enabled by the US
Shortly after Israeli Defense Forces announced that its air and ground troops "are currently attacking" the Gaza Strip, progressive U.S. lawmakers took to the House floor Thursday evening to discuss the ongoing violence and decades of Israel's government, military, and settler colonists violating the human rights of Palestinians.
The special order hour was organized by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.)—who, along with 23 other House members, sent a letter Wednesday calling on the Biden administration to pressure the Israeli government to "desist from its plans to demolish Palestinian homes in Al-Bustan and evict Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah," two neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem.
"We must acknowledge and condemn the disproportionate discrimination and treatment that Palestinians face versus others in this region," Pocan declared, challenging those who frame the violence, of this week and the past several decades of Israeli occupation, as "a 'both sides' issue."
When serious human rights abuses compound, such as the recent attacks on places of worship like the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the forced removal of people from their homes, most recently in East Jerusalem but ongoing in the West Bank for way too long, the jailing and military court trials for Palestinian children, the dehumanization of the lives of the Palestinians by having roads and entrances that are separate for some people, which all too often looks like a former South Africa, the blockade and open-air prison conditions for the people in Gaza, where food and clean water is often scarce, when those types of human rights abuses occur, we're not just putting the lives of the Palestinians and Israelis at risk, but we're also putting the United States at greater jeopardy.
After laying out some of what the hour would entail, Pocan introduced Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, whose elderly grandmother lives in the village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa outside of Jerusalem.
"Palestinians aren't going anywhere, no matter how much money you send to Israel's apartheid government," Tlaib told her colleagues. "If we are to make good on our promises to support equal human rights for all, it is our duty to end the apartheid system that for decades has subjected Palestinians to inhumane treatment and racism, reducing Palestinians to live in utter fear and terror of losing a child, being indefinitely detained or killed because of who they are, and the unequal rights and protections they have under Israeli law. It must end."
The speakers discussed U.S. military aid to Israel, reports that the Biden administration blocked a United Nations Security Council statement calling for a cease-fire earlier this week, and regional history going back to what Palestinians call the Nakba—which means catastrophe in Arabic and refers to the forced mass displacement of Palestinians and creation of Israel in 1948.
Tlaib also criticized recent remarks from U.S. President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Llyod Austin, and fellow lawmakers.
"To read the statements from President Biden and Secretary Blinken, General Austin and leaders of both parties, you'd hardly know Palestinians exist at all," she said. "There has been absolutely no recognition of Palestinian humanity. If our own State Department can't even bring itself to acknowledge the killing of Palestinian children as wrong, well, I will say it for the millions of Americans who stand with me against the killing of innocent children no matter their ethnicity or faith."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) similarly took issue with Biden's comments this week. His administration has repeatedly emphasized that "Israel has a right to defend itself" while declining to condemn Israeli attacks that have now killed scores of Palestinians in Gaza since Monday, including over two dozen children.
"The president and many other figures this week stated that Israel has a right to self-defense, and this is a sentiment that is echoed across this body. But do Palestinians have a right to survive?" Ocasio-Cortez asked. "Do we believe that?"
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) recounted hearing bombs go off outside her window as a child, when she lived through a violent civil war in Somalia, before shifting to the current bloodshed in Gaza and Israel—and said that "we must speak out truthfully and forcefully about the seed of this conflict, and about what is happening today."
"The truth is that this is not a conflict between two states. This is not a civil war. It is a conflict where one country—funded and supported by the United States government—continues an illegal military occupation over another group of people," she said, noting that the Nakba led to one of the worst refugee crises in human history.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) asserted that the U.S. providing Israel with $3.8 billion in unconditional U.S. military aid each year "gives a green light to Israel's occupation of Palestine" while Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) suggested that those funds could be better spent on improving lives in U.S. communities in need, like those she represents.
The hour also featured remarks from Reps. André Carson (D-Ind.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Jesús "Chuy" García (D-Ill.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
As Muslims in the region and around the world marked the holiday Eid al-Fitr on Thursday, Israel continued its aerial assault of Gaza and prepared for a ground invasion. At least 109 people, including 28 children, have been killed in Gaza since Monday, and over 580 others wounded. At least six Israelis and an Indian national have also been killed, some by rockets that Palestinian militants have fired from Gaza, many of which have been stopped by Israeli air defenses.
Thursday also saw global protests in solidarity with Palestinians against Israel's bombing of the Gaza Strip and ethnic cleansing campaign in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Lindsey German of the United Kingdom's Stop the War Coalition said in a statement that "these ongoing Israeli war crimes have the backing of both the U.S. and the U.K. and as a result continue as the world looks on in horror."
Blundering right-wing activists and smear merchants Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman held a press conference at the Hyatt Centric in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday, where they launched meritless allegations against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Matt Gaetz, the embattled Florida Republican. Since both Gaetz and Giuliani face abundant legal difficulties in the real world, the fact that Wohl and Burkman had nothing to offer but spurious rumors was almost remarkable in itself. But that was not the duo's only largest problem. Now Burkman and Wohl have been banned from holding press events at the Arlington Hyatt, a hotel official told Salon.
A manager of the Hyatt Centric property said that the venue's operating team had no knowledge of Wohl and Burkman's extensive past history of scams and schemes, and that the two right-wing operatives had told hotel staff they planned to hold a "book signing," not a press conference. "I'm upset they lied to me," the manager told Salon.
The manager said that Burkman "got into my face and demanded to rent a room" during a personal visit to the hotel several days earlier. According to the hotel employee, Burkman brought a bundle of cash with him and asked the manager to take it on the spot as payment for a conference room.
Asked why he and Wohl had lied to hotel staff about holding a "book signing," Burkman told Salon: "I never lie. I only tell the truth," before describing himself as a "beacon" for the truth. Burkman and Wohl currently face felony charges in several states for a robocall scheme apparently designed to discourage voting by mail and depress voter turnout in Black neighborhoods during the 2020 election.
During the roughly 50-minute press conference, Wohl and Burkman claimed to have damaging material on both Giuliani and Gaetz. But their muddy allegations could be interpreted as an effort to draw attention away from credible reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct stemming from Gaetz's interactions with numerous women, some of them purportedly underage at the time.
"This is a sad day. It's not the kind of thing we like to do," Burkman said in his opening remarks. Given the number of times he and Wohl have held similar events, that claim seems implausible.
As the press conference wrapped up, a hotel manager told Salon that Wohl and Burkman would be permanently banned from holding events at the Hyatt Centric. "Today's it," that manager said, evidently frustrated.
This isn't the first time Wohl and Burkman have run into the problem of where to host their press conferences. They have often hosted events at or outside Burkman's home in Arlington, but neighbors have become increasingly unhappy with the noise and crowds those gatherings foster.
A furious neighbor yelled at protesters - especially the ones using blowhorns - for making noise. They blamed Burkm… https://t.co/nlGBOMNfMz— Ford Fischer (@Ford Fischer)1571689398.0
"I will move to a fucking hotel," an angry neighbor declared in October of 2019 after one of Wohl and Burkman's press conferences.
Asked by Salon on Thursday why this press conference wasn't held at his home, Burkman responded, "Safety reasons, you know. Just safety reasons. We don't want our friends with the banjo, man, we don't want our crazy friends with music."
You can watch the entire dubious Thursday press conference below, via YouTube:
Fraudsters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman hold presser on Matt Gaetz and Rudy Giuliani www.youtube.com
On CNN Thursday in conversation with Chris Cuomo, former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa broke down the significance of New York prosecutors' investigation of "fringe benefits" for Trump Administration employees — and how it could be used to flip Allen Weisselberg, the longtime Trump CFO who has remained steadfastly loyal to the family.
"The key here is you have potential tax implications," said Rangappa. "What I would say, Chris, is that when you have state tax liability, there is also a likelihood that you may have federal tax liability. Once you get the IRS involved, then that also potentially increases the pressure. Why this is important, because this can create leverage on Weisselberg, and Weisselberg knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak."
"So, you know, as you said, he has been intimately involved with Trump's finances," continued Rangappa. "And the reason that this is really problematic for Trump is that, unlike things like obstruction of justice with the Mueller investigation, for which he has, say, constitutional defenses, Article II defenses, or the incitement issue which, you know, he has First Amendment defenses, and these are all federal, these are potential state charges and these predate the presidency and they have a paper trail. So I think that this is where Trump potentially has the most criminal liability, and the person who can spill all of the beans is Allen Weisselberg.
Asha Rangappa says Trump Org gift investigation could flip Alan Weisselberg www.youtube.com
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