Welcome to the Sabbath for goyische cats: Sunday, October 15, 2023, and National Red Wine Day. I’ll celebrate by having that tipple, will you? If so, put the name of the bottle below. If I could choose to drink one bottle of wine that has been well stored, it would be this one, the legendary 1961 Petrus (I’ve never had it and couldn’t afford it):
It’s also “I Love Lucy” Day (the t.v. show premiered on this day in 1951), National Grouch Day, National Pug Day, Breast Health Day, Global Handwashing Day, National Cheese Curd Day, National Mushroom Day, National Roast Pheasant Day, National Chicken Cacciatore Day, National Shawarma Day (in Canada; cultural appropriation), National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, and Shwmae Su’mae Day (Wales), a day to promote the Welsh language.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 15 Wikipedia page.
*Gazans are streaming southward, some trying to cross into Egypt, while the IDF has given stronger hints that a ground invasion will soon begin.
Hundreds of thousands of panicked Gazans fleeing south in response to Israeli warnings struggled to find food and shelter on Saturday in an intensifying humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations saying that nearly half the population had been displaced and water supplies were dwindling.
On Saturday, the Israeli military made an announcement that was its clearest indication yet that they are preparing to launch what they called “a significant ground operation,” as part of “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”
The Israeli military also said on Saturday it would allow Palestinians to move south on two of the Gaza Strip’s main roads between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. “without any harm,” an announcement that some Palestinians took as a deadline.
The highways heading south were packed with vehicles piled high with blankets and mattresses. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in just the last 12 hours, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians said on Saturday afternoon, as it warned that access to water supplies in Gaza was now “a matter of life and death.”
But the border to Egypt appears closed, despite an earlier agreement.
As the migration continues, the exodus is restricted at Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. A Hamas official said they aren’t permitting the migration of Palestinians to Egypt and hinted that Egypt is supporting their decision by closing its borders.
If Egypt closes it border, it’s for sure not to “support Hamas”, but to keep Hamas out of Egypt! But since there was apparently an agreement to open the border, if only for a while, it’s odious to keep it closed. Another NYT article buttresses the one above, showing that even Palestinian-Americans are barred:
American citizens said they were stranded at Gaza’s border with Egypt on Saturday afternoon despite a U.S. official saying earlier that an agreement had been reached to allow them safe passage from the blockaded enclave.
The official said that both Israel and Egypt had agreed to allow Americans to go through the Rafah crossing from Gaza between noon and 5 p.m. local time. But as of 4 p.m., the crossing remained closed, according to two families.
Something very weird is going on here. Is Hamas blocking the border? If not, why did the Egyptians change their minds?
*The Wall Street Journal explains more: Egypt wants some deals made to let the Palestinian-Americans through.
A diplomatic effort to evacuate U.S. citizens from Gaza faltered after Egyptian officials said they would only allow foreigners to cross the border if aid could pass in the opposite direction.
Egypt’s refusal on Saturday, confirmed by three officials and in an announcement on state television, thwarted the latest U.S. push to evacuate any of the 500 or more Americans in Gaza wishing to leave through the enclave’s southern border with Egypt.
Israel—which has sealed off Gaza’s northern border with a ground invasion by Israeli forces believed imminent—said Saturday that it would give a few hours of safe passage for people in northern Gaza to move southward. A doctor in Gaza said corpses were piling up in the main hospital’s morgue and under rubble from Israeli airstrikes launched in response to Hamas militants’ lightning strike into Israel last Saturday.
And this makes sense:
Earlier Saturday, the U.S. had helped broker a deal between Israel and Egypt to allow U.S. citizens across the Rafah border crossing from Gaza to Egypt, according to a senior U.S. official and an Arab official.
But the deal’s 5 p.m. deadline for evacuees to cross passed, and three Egyptian officials said no foreigners would be allowed through unless an agreement is reached to allow the delivery of water, food, medical supplies and other aid into the Gaza Strip.
“We can’t allow a few foreigners out and not allow humanitarian aid in for the Palestinians who will be stuck there,” one Egyptian official said.
Here’s why Egypt says it’s resistng:
Egypt is apprehensive about the prospect of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees being displaced into Egypt, or of getting drawn deeper into the conflict. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, an ardent enemy of Hamas, has also warned that a mass displacement from the enclave could mean an end to the aspirations of a Palestinian state.
Egypt told the U.S. that it has too many evacuation requests to accommodate U.S. nationals and that it can’t grant passage to one country over others, according to two Egyptian officials, who also cited security concerns related to a lack of screening of individuals. An Arab official said all sides were still involved in talks regarding the border crossing.
Clearly the Israeli request that Gazans move south must be coupled with increased humanitarian aid. The European Commission, which supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, is also tripling its humanitarian aid to Gaza, donating 75 million Euros. But what if Hamas moves south too, so that they’ll still use their countrymen as human shields?
*The WaPo ponders the question of “Have war crimes been committed in Israel and Gaza?” There’s no doubt that Hamas committed war crimes in Israel, and does so every time it fires a rocket into a civilian area (that’s all rockets), but what about Israel’s actions?
As the war between Israel and Hamas escalates in Gaza, both sides have said they are adhering to international law.
Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk told the Economist this week that his group, which led the attacks that killed more than 1,300 people in Israel, “obeys all international and moral laws.” He said the operation targeted only “military posts,” despite clear evidence that hundreds of civilians were among those killed by Palestinian militants.
But then Taylor doesn’t even answer his own question, just listing the questions at issue without answering them with respect to both sides. But it’s still interesting to know what the law is. I’ll give a few-word short answers (in CAPS) that I’ve gleaned from Taylor.
a. Can civilians be targeted under international law? NO.
b. Can civilians can be targeted if military groups are present? IT DEPENDS ON WHETHER CIVILIAN LOSS OF LIFE IS “EXCESSIVE”
c. What if a party to the conflict warns civilians ahead of an attack? HE DOESN’T GIVE AN ANSWER, BUT IT’S CLEAR THAT ISRAEL DOES THIS WHILE HAMAS DOESN’T, AND SURELY A WARNING IS MORE MORAL.
d. What is “collective punishment”? BEING PUNISHED FOR AN ACT YOU DID NOT COMMIT. THIS IS A WAR CRIME. REPRISALS AGAINST CIVILIANS FALL IN THIS CATEGORY. SO DO SIEGES THAT STARVE PEOPLE, WHICH IS WHY I OPPOSE ISRAEL’S SIEGE.
e. Is using white phosphorus a war crime? IT DEPENDS HOW IT IS USED. ISRAEL IS ACCUSED OF USING IT THIS WEEK BUT DENIES IT. IF THEY DID USE IT IN PROHIBITED WAYS I’D CALL THEM OUT FOR WAR CRIMES.
f. What does international humanitarian law say about taking hostages and the use of ‘human shields’? BOTH ARE EXPRESSLY AGAINST ALL INTERNATIONAL LAWS, AND BOTH ARE USED BY GAZANS BUT NEITHER BY ISRAEL
g. Is the targeting of hospitals, schools, and religious buildings allowed during war? IT DEPENDS; THEY CAN BE IF THEY’RE ALSO USED FOR MILITARY PURPOSES.
Read and then make your own decisions, though we will have to wait to learn more about Israel’s behavior in the coming battle (we already know a lot about Hamas’s tactics).
*This was a surprise to me: the Australians have voted “no” on a proposal to recognize Aboriginal people in their constitution.
Australians have resoundingly rejected a proposal to recognise Aboriginal people in the country’s constitution and establish a body to advise parliament on Indigenous issues.
Saturday’s voice to parliament referendum failed, with the defeat clear shortly after polls closed.
To succeed, the yes campaign – advocating for the voice – needed to secure a double majority, meaning it needed both a majority of the national vote, as well as majorities in four of Australia’s six states.
The defeat will be seen by Indigenous advocates as a blow to what has been a hard fought struggle to progress reconciliation and recognition in modern Australia, with First Nations people continuing to suffer discrimination, poorer health and economic outcomes.
But what is the “voice to Parliament” that was being voted on?
The referendum question, to amend Australia’s constitution to recognise the first peoples of Australia by establishing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to parliament, was deliberately vague. The failure of Australia’s previous referendum in 1999 – to become a republic and acknowledge Indigenous ownership – was seen to have failed because it put forward a specific model to voters.
Exactly what the voice advisory body would look like and how it would function were to be determined only once the concept had won approval.
In other words, it wasn’t clear what people were voting on, and that’s plain weird. No wonder the referendum failed.
A flock of swans that grew from a gift nearly 70 years ago from Queen Elizabeth II has been rounded up in Florida to ensure they are all healthy.
On Tuesday, there were 50 swans collected in Lakeland, which is east of Tampa. Park supervisor Steve Williams said the birds are a cherished part of the city.
“I mean, they are a city icon. They are. And we take very good care of them,” he said.
The roundup each fall enables veterinarians to conduct health examinations of the city-owned swans, with those scheduled for Wednesday morning. Lakeland’s swans are descended from a pair of mute swans given by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.
The goal is to keep them all in good shape, said veterinarian Price Dickson.
“Tomorrow we will be taking all of these swans one by one and giving each of them a physical exam, weighing them, checking for any infections, any wounds, any problems that would need to be addressed,” Dixon said.
The city has conducted the annual wellness checkups since 1980.
Here’s a news video of this year’s Big Roundup:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is napping in Andrzej’s trousers. Malgorzata explains the dialogue: “In Polish the word for “choice” and “election” is the same. We have elections today and this is a hint to go and vote (preferably choosing something different than what we are stuck with now). ”
Hili: You have to elect a different pair of trousers.A: I’m afraid I don’t have another choice.
Hili: Musisz założyć inne spodnie.Ja: Obawiam się, że nie mam innego wyboru.
From Susan, a great exchange:
Reader Rick sent in a Bizarro cartoon by Wayno and Piraro, adding, “I wonder how many newspapers will refuse to print this cartoon by Wayno.” I will!
From Annie, some juvenile humor (but I’d put out such a pumpkin!):
From Maish; a bit fracas caused by men defending an unveiled woman vs. the fricking morality police:
Systemic violence against unveiled women increased in Iran.
Morality police attacked these men who were united to support an unveiled woman.
A woman was slapped on the face by this hijab enforcer in Armitag Mall Mashhad. This is the result when people walked in to stop him. pic.twitter.com/qWPj0jFqN7
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 14, 2023
From Barry, who calls this “Honey, I’m home!” Oy!
“Honey, I’m home” 😂
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) October 13, 2023
From the Babbling Beaver. I’m sure the quote is fake but the headline is true.
Lefty Students Offended By Absolutely Everything Yet To Be Offended By Hamas Beheading Children
NUS Diversity Officer: “It’s complicated…”https://t.co/ODPWkiMluP
— The Upper Lip (@UpperLipNews) October 13, 2023
From Simon, Liz Cheney speaks out again, but Jordan may well become Speaker:
Jim Jordan was involved in Trump's conspiracy to steal the election and seize power; he urged that Pence refuse to count lawful electoral votes. If Rs nominate Jordan to be Speaker, they will be abandoning the Constitution. They’ll lose the House majority and they’ll deserve to.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) October 13, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, one that I “quote-tweeted”:
The expressions on some of these prisoners are haunting, as they were photographed right when they arrived at Auschwitz. This one lived five weeks after arrival. https://t.co/1jrNFbgRtG
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) October 15, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. He sent me this one, with Booker T. and the MGs, to give me “some respite”. It did.
Booker T. & The MGs '67. 🎶 'Green Onions' pic.twitter.com/XPrPWJOOCB
— bluesharp (@bluezharp) October 13, 2023
And here’s Booker T. Jones 44 years later, playing with Darryl Hall and others. He hasn’t lost a lick. (I still consider this the most dance-worthy song in the history of rock.)
Matthew’s own tweet, with another. He adds, “Yes, Tina’s ancestor fought at Hastings. A decsendant of his was also involved in the mruder of Thomas Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral (he put the three knights up in his castle)
Down with the Norman oppressors. I am married to a descendant of one of those invaders. https://t.co/gwm5VO5tqj
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) October 14, 2023
Another tweet by Matthew inspired by his writing a biography of Francis Crick. I’ve always wanted to use one of these cards, but never had the guts. (The “LMB” is the Laboratory of Molecular Biology.)
Crick did actually use these reply cards in the 1960s to cope with the tidal wave of letters that arrived at the LMB in Cambridge. One wag returned a copy with an addition… pic.twitter.com/zKjHQNqqct
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) October 14, 2023