Welcome to Hump Day (“Skofdag” in Afrikaans): Wednesday, November 15, 2023, and National Raisin Bran Cereal Day. It’s one of the few cereals I like because it’s not half sugar, but I never eat cereal. The website page linked above says this:
During his incarceration, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein preferred Raisin Bran cereal for breakfast given by his American prison guards.
But lo and behold, when I thought it was healthy, Wikipedia says this.
Raisin bran cereal is commonly referred to as a “healthy” breakfast cereal because of its high fiber content, but according to Consumer Reports, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran has a low nutrition rating.
In 1991, Kellogg’s complained that the guidelines for the USDA’s supplemental assistance WIC program did not allow for the purchase of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran for containing too much sugar. Currently, with 17 grams of sugar per cup, it has a higher content of sugar than Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs, and Cocoa Krispies (all known to be “sugary” cereals)
More sugar than Lucky Charms? OY!!
Posting and the morning reports will be delayed, and perhaps scantier than usual until I recover from my jet lag.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 3 Wikipedia page.
*The NYT reports on Israel’s claim that it has surrounded and raided Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, a key objective for the IDF since the hospital is said to have been Hamas’s local headquarters and sat atop a basement and tunnels used for terrorism, and perhaps to house hostages.
The Israeli military said its troops had entered the grounds of Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, early Wednesday, hours after a White House official said that U.S. intelligence supported Israel’s claims that Hamas was operating out of the complex.
Thousands of civilians are sheltering at the hospital, along with gravely ill patients and premature infants whose care has been interrupted. Fuel and medical supplies have dwindled as Israeli troops drew nearer in recent days.
The Israeli military said Wednesday that it had launched “a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa Hospital,” after weeks of accusing the group of operating out of departments in the hospital as well as in sprawling underground tunnels beneath the complex.
Hamas, the armed group that controls Gaza, has denied using the facility as a base, and hospital officials have also rebuffed the allegation.
*There are also two videos from the Rantisi Children’s Hosptial.
Israel is pressing its case that Hamas is using hospitals as cover, releasing a pair of videos from inside Gaza’s main children’s hospital that showed weapons and explosives purportedly found in the medical center, and a room where the military said hostages were kept.
While the Health Ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, on Tuesday disputed nearly every assertion made in the initial Israeli video, it acknowledged that the footage was taken from inside Al-Rantisi Specialized Hospital for Children in northern Gaza. The remaining patients and staff are believed to have left the hospital over the weekend after it was surrounded by Israeli forces.
U.S. intelligence supports the Israeli allegation of Hamas operating within and beneath hospitals, a National Security Council spokesman said on Tuesday.
Israeli troops entered shortly thereafter, and took videos that the military released on Monday and Tuesday as part of a campaign to persuade skeptics that Hamas had turned hospitals into safe houses and command centers and has built tunnels underneath them.
In the first of the videos, a six-minute presentation released on Monday, Admiral Hagari walks viewers through what he says was found in the basement of the hospital.
Note that this is NOT Al-Shifa hospital, where the IDF is present but is questioning doctors and patients while carefully tackling the basement. I believe they are using robots since 5 IDF soldiers were killed by a booby trap set in a tunnel entrance (this of course verifies that those are terrorist tunnels, but who doubts that?)
Here’s that video, showing the putative terrorists tunnels, weapons, and explosives. The Admiral suggests that the hostages were held in the basement, although the presence of diapers and a baby bottle is not proof os young hostages given that this is a children’s hospital. But there are also signs of improvised renovations, including ventilation, a toilet and a shower. Hagari argues that the hostages were filmed in one room, pointing to a schedule (perhaps of guarding) that begins October 7.
The second video. Note that the NYT says(as it should) the authenticity can’t be verified, something they never did with Hamas’s earlier claims or its reports of civilian body counts, which come directly from Hamas:
The Israeli military followed that on Tuesday with a second video, just over two minutes long, posted on X, formerly Twitter. That video purports to show troops rushing into the building and appearing to find explosives, weapons and the room where Admiral Hagari said hostages were kept.
Both videos contained a series of assertions that could not be independently verified. The first includes well-displayed evidence — guns, explosives and other weaponry all arranged as if by police showing the haul from a drug raid — whose provenance similarly could not be confirmed.
The second, though, shows troops in action appearing to find the weaponry that would be showcased in the longer video.
Here’s the Google translation of the Hebrew in the video below:
Attached is additional documentation from the activities of the 13th Fleet and the 401st Brigade, during which a terrorist infrastructure of Hamas was exposed in the Rantisi Hospital
מצורף תיעוד נוסף מפעילות כוחות שייטת 13 וחטיבה 401, במהלכה נחשפה תשתית טרור של חמאס בבית החולים ׳רנתיסי׳ pic.twitter.com/rE7FkzhiXu
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 14, 2023
*Finally, a more recent NYT news summary says that the U.S. has independent intelligence that several hospitals in Gaza, including Al-Shifa were used as bases for Hamas, which operated within and below the building (see also the story in the Washington Post):
The United States has intelligence that shows that Hamas has been using hospitals in Gaza, including Al-Shifa, as command centers and ammunitions depots, a spokesman for the National Security Council said on Tuesday.
John Kirby, the spokesman, said that the intelligence, gathered from American-generated sources, supported Israel’s allegation that Hamas has been operating out of hospitals, which Mr. Kirby said amounted to a war crime.
Mr. Kirby declined to provide details about the U.S. intelligence, but he made clear that it goes beyond the information collected by the Israeli intelligence service. “It comes from a variety of intelligence methods — of our own, of our own,” he said, adding that the classification of the intelligence had been downgraded so that it could be shared publicly.
“I can confirm for you that we have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including Al-Shifa, and tunnels underneath them, to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages,” Mr. Kirby told reporters on Air Force One as President Biden headed to San Francisco for a summit with Asia-Pacific leaders.
“Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad — J.I.D. — members operate a command and control node from Al-Shifa in Gaza City,” he added. “They have stored weapons there, and they’re prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility.”
To me this is important news, showing two independent intelligence services, one from the U.S. concludes that Hamas uses hospitals and their patients as shields against the Israeli Army, and there is already some video evidence, though not yet from Al-Shifa. Does the NYT headline this? Nope; it’s mentioned lower down in the news summary, and the headlines, as always, are slanted to make Israel look like a heartless aggressor. Both the NYT and the Post do this. I would have thought that the independent confirmation of Hamas using hospitals, making it necessary to go into hospitals to root out the terrorists, would warrant at least a sub-headline.
*In the Washington Examiner, Debra Soh decreies “The death of merit in science.” While the title was the subject of a multiply-authored paper that I helped write (Anna Krylov was the motivating force), Soh talks about only one example of the erosion of science by ideology: positionality statements of authors. See my post here, which explains that “they are the (often long) statements about the politics, background, and goals of an author of an academic paper, written by that author and meant to locate him or her in a way relevant to the topic of a paper.” I give several examples and quote critics saying why these statements are problematic (one journal even requires them). Soh says this:
The practice originated in the social sciences with the goal of improving “inclusivity” and drawing attention to power imbalances, especially if a scientist isn’t part of the community he or she is studying.
What I find most disturbing about this trend is not only that positionality statements are being taken seriously by journals and academics alike, but that they’ve become a growing requirement in STEM disciplines. They affect not just the publication process of research studies but also master’s theses and doctoral dissertations.
Many scientists have been openly critical of these types of initiatives, as there has yet to be any proof that self-disclosing personal information in this way achieves its stated purpose. We can agree it’s important for scientists to be sensitive to the concerns of minority communities and to be aware of possible biases in their work, but a study should be evaluated on the quality of the research itself, not the identity markers of the people who conducted it. Between designing studies, collecting data, applying for grants, and teaching, academic scientists already have more than enough on their plates. Any precious free time they do have should be devoted, firstly, toward staying sane in such a fast-paced environment, and secondly, to applying for additional funding so they remain gainfully employed and able to pursue new lines of research.
When reading scientists’ positionality statements, I can’t help but feel extremely uncomfortable, as though I’m reading a hostage statement. It comes across as out-of-place and invasive to read detailed descriptions about a researcher’s racial background, age, socioeconomic status, where they grew up, and other erroneous tidbits about their life, while simultaneously knowing they likely had to declare this information to have their findings published or to graduate.
The current ideological obsession with replacing objectivity and excellence with diversity, equity, and inclusion fanaticism will only derail future scientific achievement. It will deter anyone belonging to so-called “over-represented” groups, particularly white and Asian men, from pursuing scientific endeavors regardless of how competent or passionate they are. They’ll risk coming to believe that the value of their work won’t be based on merit but rather on the circumstances they were born into.
*The Wall Street Journal reports what may be the most nefarious instance yet of “shrinkflation”: the downsizing of a foodstuff while keeping the price the same. This time it’s Oreos, which, some consumers say, have reduced the amount of “creme” filling. I noticed this myself when I bought a pack of Oreos a while back, and they just seemed, well, smaller to me.
[Shane] Ransonet is one of throngs of Oreo fans who have been perturbed in recent years by what some feel could be one of the biggest inflation scandals to hit supermarkets to date: “Double Stuf” Oreos with just a normal amount of creme, and even less in the original-sized versions. Some gripe that the filling no longer reaches the wafers’ edges. Others say the cookies now bear little resemblance to the creme-stuffed images on Oreo’s packaging.
Oreos, made by snack giant Mondelez, have long attracted a devout following, making them the world’s best-selling cookie more than a century since their creation. Now, suspicion over subtle changes has prompted some devotees to protest what they believe is the latest cookie conspiracy, or try to suss out the truth about creme.
Some fans are making videos of themselves twisting Oreos open to reveal scant filling. Others touted Hydrox, an Oreo competitor.
The statement from the maker is waffle-y:
Mondelez said it has used a variety of strategies in recent years to combat higher costs for ingredients such as cocoa and sugar, from raising wholesale prices to scaling back discounts to shrinking package sizes. It hasn’t fought inflation through big changes to its products, the company said, though it welcomes feedback from fans on how to make them better.
“Big changes”? We want to know if there have been any changes in this beloved cookied. But then they deny there have been any changes to Oreos:
Van de Put said Mondelez is always working to improve Oreos, but that it hasn’t messed with the cookie-to-creme ratio. He said Mondelez monitors its brands closely and hasn’t noticed significant creme-related complaints, nor have they affected the $4 billion brand, which sells some 40 billion cookies in more than 100 countries each year.
But consumers aren’t convinced, and neither am I:
David DiLena, a 44-year-old physicist in Ellsworth, Maine, who works on helium recycling, was shocked by how little creme he found in the Double Stuf Oreos he bought this fall. Still, heleft room for debate when he uploaded a video to his Facebook page: squeezing the cookie between his fingertips, he spread the dollop of creme in the middle to the edges to reveal a layer no thicker than the wafers themselves.
“Conjecture: a double stuff Oreo is a normal Oreo,” wrote DiLena. “Judge for yourself.”
Go see this reddit video in which someones opens a new pack of Oreos and displays the amount of filling. Pathetic!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets some unexpected love:
Hili: People will never change.A: But at least they love their pets.
Hili: Ludzie się nigdy nie zmienią.Ja: Ale przynajmniej kochają zwierzątka.
From Masih, another brave Iranian protestor, blinded in one eye, who’s had her Instagram account shut down by the regime:
First, Niloufar Aghaei was blinded as punishment for her protest against the killing of Mahsa Jina Amini. Now, her Instagram account has been shut down because she persistently published videos and spoke out. As a midwife nurse, she confronts the Islamic regime, declaring, ‘You… pic.twitter.com/P6DhCiudQD
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 14, 2023
. . . and from Titania (I may have posted this before):
I’m so sick of “white saviours” trying to provide clean drinking water to poor people in Africa.
As members of the BIPOC community, Africans much prefer dehydration to the perpetuation of white structures of power and privilege. ✊🏾🛖🪘 https://t.co/N8bANPxbaw
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) November 8, 2023
Here’s Cornel West, Leftist philosopher, writer, and academic, emitting a vigorous piece of pro-Gazan rhetoric, extolling its “love warriors and freedom fighters” (I think he means Hamas). I wonder if he decried the slaughter of Israelis that started the war. I mourn the friendship that existed between black and Jews in the Martin Luther King era. Now, it appears that many blacks, including BLM.
And the left eats its own.
— MonsoonX (@monsoonsharma) November 13, 2023
Remember this tweet issued by Black Lives Matter Chicago after the October massacre by Hamas. It celebrates the terrorists, some of which arrived in paragliders. Note that it conflates Hamas and Palestine, not an uncommon issue. (I think they finally removed the tweet.)
From Michael Shermer via Barry. The book is real; you can find it here on Amazon:
It was only a matter of time for intersectional BS to come together (apparently not The Onion or Babylon Bee)… pic.twitter.com/f83dAnrzgZ
— Michael Shermer (@michaelshermer) November 3, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial. This six-year-old boy was one of the 80% of the Jews gassed in this convoy:
15 November 1937 | A Dutch Jewish boy, Bernard Arie Cohen, was born in Den Bosch.
He arrived at #Auschwitz on 10 February 1944 in a transport of 1,015 Jews deported from the German-occupied Netherlands. He was among 800 of them murdered in gas chambers after the selection. pic.twitter.com/G00mtgrrti
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 15, 2023
And a tweet from Dr. Cobb. An orca in the loch!
— Out of Context Human Race (@NoContextHumans) November 11, 2023