Welcome to a Hump Day (“Küürupäev” in Estonian): Wednesday, October 18, 2023, and National Chocolate Cupcake Day. Here’s the specimen most eaten in the U.S., and a staple in my lunchbox when I was young:
It’s also Dress Like A Dork Day, International Gin and Tonic Day, National Seafood Bisque Day, Evaluate Your Life Day (!), Rainforest Day, World Menopause Day, Persons Day in Canada (look it up), and, in Croatia, Necktie Day.
Yes, neckties come from Croatia, at least according to Wikipedia:
The necktie that spread from Europe traces back to Croatian mercenaries serving in France during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). These mercenaries from the Military Frontier, wearing their traditional small, knotted neckerchiefs, aroused the interest of the Parisians.
Yesterday’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrated the 118th birthday of Raoul Alfonso Cortez (1905-1971) who, as Wikipedia notes, “was a Mexican-American media executive, best remembered for founding KCOR, the first full-time Spanish radio and television network in the United States, in 1946″. The network served the area reached by San Antonio, Texas
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 18 Wikipedia page.
*It looks as if President Biden is going to make a trip to Israel, a visit that, says the NYT, poses enormous challenges for politics and security. The first link also describes a missile attack on a Gazan hospital with a huge death toll, though nobody sure yet who’s responsible.
At least 500 people were killed by an explosion at a hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday that Palestinian authorities said was caused by an Israeli airstrike.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said the number of casualties was expected to rise. Many civilians were sheltering at Al Ahli Arab Hospital, better known as Al-Ma’amadani, before it was hit.
The Israeli military said it was investigating if it was responsible for the blast. “We’re checking,” said Maj. Nir Dinar, a military spokesman. In the past, rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups have occasionally malfunctioned and hit civilian neighborhoods.
The deadly blast on the hospital came as President Biden was preparing for a visit to Israel on Wednesday as conditions in besieged Gaza grew ever more desperate.
- After visiting Israel on Wednesday, President Biden plans to travel to Jordan to hold talks on the conflict with King Abdullah II, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, the White House said.
- As Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken continues a week of shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, a senior State Department official said that U.S. and Israeli officials had agreed to develop a plan to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and set up “safe zones.” The outlines of a deal, which would be negotiated by a new U.S. envoy, came after Mr. Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel for nearly nine hours on Monday.
If Israel accidentally killed 500 people by bombing a hospital, that’s a terrible thing to do. We all expect Israel to follow the moral rules of war. UPDATE: Israel claims that the hospital was hit by a misfired Hamas or Islamic Jihad rocket. Will we be able to determine the truth? For me, as for many, it’s important to know who fired that rocket. And is there really a way to find out? I don’t know of one, but Israel has been able to determine when a Hamas missile misfires in the past.
I notice, though, that the NYT has hedged its headline about this a bit, which earlier just said that 500 were killed in a blast at a Palestinian hospital. There’s been a subtle change (photo from the Free Press):
Now Israel doesn’t appear in the headlines as the definite perpetrator of the explosion. Further, today’s headline (below) changed from “at least 500 dead” to “hundreds killed”, perhaps reflecting the unreliability of Hamas death tolls. But there’s no doubt that there was substantial carnage at the hospital.
UPDATE AGAIN ABOUT THE HOSPITAL: Information now suggests that the rocket was fired by Islamic Jihad, not the Israel Defense Forces. There is video and apparently an intercepted phone call between Hamas officials supporting this. I will post what evidence exists, and show you the video (and hopefully present the audio) in a post this morning. The NYT has now changed its headline twice. Stay tuned.
About Biden’s trip:
It will be a trip fraught with risks, both political and physical.
. . .The White House announced the visit on Monday evening after Mr. Biden met with his top intelligence officials and his closest advisers in the Oval Office to debate whether to accept the invitation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended over the weekend.
In a briefing to reporters Monday night, John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Mr. Biden would focus on “the critical need for humanitarian assistance to get into Gaza, as well as the ability for innocent people to get out.”
He said the president would have meetings in Tel Aviv and in Amman, Jordan, with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.
. . .The security risk of such a trip was clear on Monday when sirens warning of incoming rockets or missiles went off while Mr. Blinken, who was in Israel for his second visit in a week, was meeting at a military base with Mr. Netanyahu and his war cabinet. Mr. Blinken and his hosts were rushed to a bunker and sheltered there for five minutes before resuming their discussions. (There was a similar warning when Mr. Biden was touring a few blocks of Kyiv with Mr. Zelensky in February.)
. . . But the physical risks in Tel Aviv were considered low enough, Mr. Kirby said, that “it was deemed appropriate that we can talk about it beforehand.” The trip to Kyiv, where there were no American forces present to back up the Secret Service, was kept secret.
*Another NYT piece reports that Hamas hijacked the social media accounts of their Israeli victims to both livestream their butchery and threaten others.
In a new war tactic, Hamas has seized the social media accounts of kidnapped Israelis and used them to broadcast violent messages and wage psychological warfare, according to interviews with 13 Israeli families and their friends, as well as social media experts who have studied extremist groups.
In at least four cases, Hamas members logged into the personal social media accounts of their hostages to livestream the Oct. 7 attacks. In the days since, Hamas also appeared to infiltrate their hostages’ Facebook groups, Instagram accounts and WhatsApp chats to issue death threats and calls for violence. Hamas members also took hostages’ cellphones to make calls to taunt friends and relatives, according to the Israeli families and their friends. Israel’s military has said at least 199 people have been taken hostage by Hamas.
Extremist groups have long turned to social media to further their causes by livestreaming attacks and posting propaganda. But hijacking individual hostages’ Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp accounts “weaponizes social media in a way I don’t think we’ve seen before,” said Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University. “We are not psychologically prepared for this.”
The tactic is particularly harrowing for those close to the account owners, compounding an already distressing situation.
*Finally, would Tom Friedman at the NYT kindly shut up? He keeps criticizing any Israeli respond to the Hamas attack, and in his latest column he says Israel shouldn’t have a ground offensive, as it would be bad for Israel.
If Israel goes into Gaza now, it will blow up the Abraham Accords, further destabilize two of America’s most important allies (Egypt and Jordan) and make normalization with Saudi Arabia impossible — huge strategic setbacks. It will also enable Hamas to really fire up the West Bank and get a shepherd’s war going there between Jewish settlers and Palestinians. Altogether, it will play directly into Iran’s strategy of sucking Israel into imperial overstretch and in that way weakening the Jewish democracy from within.
No ground war, no bombing without invasion (that would kill many civilians and not destroy Hamas. What does the pundit Friedman suggest Israel do? Pretty much nothing:
What should Israel do to ensure that an attack like the one launched by Hamas never happens again? I don’t know right now. I just know that whatever the answer is, it’s not mobilizing 360,000 traumatized Israeli reservists to launch into an urban war in one of the most densely populated places in the world. This will crush the Israeli economy and its international standing.
Well, he does have a “solution”:
If Israel were to announce today that it has decided for now to forgo an invasion of Gaza and will look for more surgical means to eliminate or capture Hamas’s leadership while trying to engineer a trade for the more than 150 Israeli and other hostages whom Hamas is holding, it would not only avoid further traumatizing its own society, as well as Palestinian civilians in Gaza; it would also give Israel and its allies time to think through how to build — with Palestinians — a legitimate alternative to Hamas.
This is absurd. The only way Hamas will release Israeli hostages is for Israel to releaste over 4,500 imprisoned terrorists. That would enormously energize the terrorists. As far as a “surgical means of capturing Hamas’s leadership,” they’re hiding, and hiding among civilians. Friedman makes a very bad pundit!
*As you probably know, a Washington, D.C. judge issued a gag order against Trump, prohibiting him from attacking people involved in his federal trial for election obstruction. The WaPo answers your questions about the order:
U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued a limited gag order against Donald Trump that prohibits the former president from disparaging prosecutors, witnesses and court personnel involved in his upcoming election-obstruction trial in federal court in Washington, D.C.
A few Q&A:
What does it mean that Chutkan gave Trump a limited gag order?
A gag order would prohibit Trump from talking about the case at all. A limited gag order means Trump cannot make certain types of public statements about parts of the case.
In this instance, Chutkan said that Trump must stop disparaging prosecutors, witnesses and court personnel involved in his upcoming D.C. trial on charges of conspiring to obstruct the results of the 2020 election, which is scheduled to begin in March.
But Chutkan said in her order that she would not prohibit Trump from continuing to make disparaging comments about President Biden, his likely rival in the 2024 election. Trump can also claim that the case against him is politically motivated, as long as he doesn’t denigrate individual prosecutors, the order said.
Why would a judge issue a gag order?
Judges most commonly issue gag orders when they fear someone’s speech could taint the jury pool or intimidate witnesses. “Judges are allowed to decide how to run a courtroom, and that includes how a defendant’s behavior or a lawyer’s behavior could affect the court — the running of the court — or court staff and potential jurors,” Cominsky said.
In Trump’s case, Chutkan said the former president has made statements attacking “individuals involved in the judicial process, including potential witnesses, prosecutors, and court staff.”
As Chutkan put it in her order: “In order to safeguard the integrity of these proceedings, it is necessary to impose certain restrictions on public statements by interested parties.”
What happens if Trump violates the gag order?
Judges typically impose sanctions when a defendant violates their orders. Those sanctions can range from an admonishment to financial penalties to jail time.
Chutkan did not specify what sanctions she would impose if Trump violates her gag order. But legal experts say it would be extremely unusual for a judge to jail a person as they are running for office.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is hating autumn, for autumn comes before the Season She Hates Most
Hili: I znowu jesień robi bałagan.Ja: Taka jest kolej rzeczy.
From Barnorama (I can’t vouch for its truth):
From Barry, a political and antitheistic cartoon from Kevin Kallaugher:
From Jesus of the Day, which reproduced a Mark Parisi cartoon:
From Masih, advertising the World Liberty Congress, a network promoting freedom of speech and the ending of oppression. It’s kind of depressing in reminding us how far we have to go:
We are the change
We are the future
We are rising!
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 17, 2023
From Jez via Martina Navatilova via Anlina, a funny little tweet:
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) October 16, 2023
From Malcolm (on FB), archery trick shots:
The joyous return of a missing cat:
Cat moms breaks down when cat returns after going missing pic.twitter.com/Yn3QHiCayE
— place where cat shouldn't be (@catshouldnt) October 16, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, one I reposted:
18 October 1936 | A Belgian Jewish girl, Sarah Felder, was born in Antwerp.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 18, 2023
From Matthew, who has decided to go off Twitter (I hope he returns!). In the first one, did the gray cat make a bad move?
Game changing move from the referee..♔♔😂 pic.twitter.com/cF49eO7lL0
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) October 15, 2023
A video of the solar eclipse. Sound up for some nice music:
— Erika (@ExploreCosmos_) October 14, 2023
I wonder if adults would eat like this if they could get away with it:
When your diet is finally over! 😂😂
— Figen (@TheFigen_) October 15, 2023
A shark walking on its FINS!
A WALKING SHARK!! 🤯🦈
One of the most beautiful fish in Darwin, the Speckled Carpet Shark walks around the low tide looking for prey! 🐟
I SHAKE in excitement everytime I see one of these incredible animals!!!!!!!! 😍 pic.twitter.com/YBpnzF8EaR
— Nick Volpe (@nvolpewild) October 15, 2023