Welcome to Thursday, November 16, 2023, and National Fast Food Day, which for some people is every day. I do get a hankering for a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries every once in a while, and I noticed in Paris that the McDonald’s places were doing a brisk business with the French.
I will soon start putting up readers’ wildlife photos again, so send ’em if you got ’em!
It’s also Beaujolais Nouveau Day (the vintage of this quaffable grape juice was released yesterday), World Philosophy Day, National Button Day, the UN commemoration of International Day for Tolerance , and, in Iceland, Icelandic Language Day or Dagur íslenskrar tungu. Here’s a man speaking Icelandic for about 3 minutes. Read more about the language here.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 16 Wikipedia page.
*Several big pieces of news on the war: Israel is inside Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, interviewing patients and staff, there is an ongoing process to trade the kidnapped hostages for jailed terrorists in Israel, and Biden, bless his ignorant heart, is pushing for a two-state solution. (I favor that, too, but at this point I think it’s futile, and will not stop terrorist attacks on Israel. From the NYT:
The Israeli military was solidifying its hold on the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital on Wednesday, after storming the complex overnight. Soldiers were conducting searches and interrogations inside, and Israeli officers said they had found rifles, ammunition, body armor and other military equipment in a radiology building.
In a video filmed at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, showed about 10 guns, ammunition, protective vests and Hamas military uniforms, some of which he said were hidden behind M.R.I. machines, others in nearby storage units and some behind what he described as a “blast-proof door.” The assertions made in the video could not be independently verified.
Hamas, which has repeatedly denied using the hospital for military operations, issued a statement calling the Israeli claims “a fabricated story that no one would believe.” A Hamas official, Bassem Naim, speaking to Al Jazeera, dismissed the video as falsified “theatrics.”
. . . .In a news conference, the director of hospitals in Gaza, Muhammad Zaqout, said that Israeli forces entered the Al-Shifa medical complex around 2 a.m. on the northern side, specifically targeting the ground floor of the surgery building.
At around the same time last night, the Israeli military announced that it was carrying out a “precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area” of the hospital.
No word on whether there are tunnels underneath Al-Shifa.
Here’s that one-shot video:
Watch as LTC (res.) Jonathan Conricus exposes the countless Hamas weapons IDF troops have uncovered in the Shifa Hospital's MRI building: pic.twitter.com/5qssP8z1XQ
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 15, 2023
The two-state solution:
President Biden said on Wednesday that the endpoint of the Israel-Hamas conflict has to be a Palestinian state that is “real,” existing alongside an Israeli one.
He added that he and his aides have been negotiating with Arab nations on next steps, but did not give any details.
“I can tell you, I don’t think it ultimately ends until there’s a two-state solution,” Mr. Biden said at a news conference on an estate south of San Francisco after his summit with Xi Jinping, China’s leader.
Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken have been publicly emphasizing the need for a two-state solution in recent days. The establishment of a Palestinian state has long been a U.S. policy goal, but no recent administration has succeeded in making any substantial headway on the issue. The last major push along those lines came from John Kerry when he was secretary of state in the Obama administration.
Mr. Biden said he did not have a specific idea of when to tell Israel it should halt its war in Gaza. He said the fighting would end once Hamas could no longer do “horrific things” to Israelis. Hamas still has weapons and technology beneath hospitals in Gaza, he said.
Does Biden not know that unless every bit of Jew hatred and desire to eliminate Israel is effaces from the new Palestinian state, it will continue to terrorize Israel. I don’t know what the solution is, but I don’t think Biden does, either.
The hostages. This is very good news, especially because the hostage-and-prisoner trade, if it occurs, would be one to one, rather than demanding that Israel release all 4500 jailed Palestinians accused of terrorism; and the released prisoners would be women and children, not young male terrorists.
Israel believes that Wednesday’s raid on Al-Shifa Hospital will put pressure on Hamas to finish a deal to trade dozens of Israeli captives for Palestinian prisoners, according to two senior Israeli officials.
Negotiations for a deal are underway, with the various players working on a framework of an agreement, according to the two Israeli officials, who are involved in the Israeli effort to release the hostages through a deal, as well as a third with knowledge of the matter. Under the proposal, Hamas would release 50 women and children abducted during the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks for roughly the same number of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons.
The three officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations as did two other Israeli officials who discussed the hostage negotiations.
The deal, being negotiated by Qatari, Egyptian and American officials, would also include the cessation of hostilities for several days, a so-called humanitarian pause, four of the officials said.
*This comes from yesterday afternoon. The Jewish News Syndicate also reports that the IDF finally entered the dangerous parts of Al-Shifa hospital, said by nearly everyone except the Gazans to harbor Hamas headquarters and built atop a network of terrorist tunnels. The evidence above shows that Hamas was there, but the tunnels, if they exist, haven’t yet been found.
The IDF forces include medical teams and Arabic-speaking soldiers “who have undergone specified training to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment, with the intent that no harm is caused to the civilians being used by Hamas as human shields.”
A tweet below showing some of the assault as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid. Translation (by Google):
scans for explosive devices and other terrorist infrastructures at the same time as humanitarian aid; The forces continue their targeted activity at Shifa Hospital: IDF forces continue to operate in a targeted manner in a part of the Shifa Hospital area where they are scanning for Hamas infrastructure and terrorist means. Also, the forces delivered humanitarian equipment and placed it at the entrance to the hospital
סריקות אחר מטעני נפץ ותשתיות טרור נוספות במקביל לסיוע הומנטירי; הכוחות ממשיכים בפעילות ממוקדת ביה״ח שיפאא':
כוחות צה״ל ממשיכים לפעול באופן ממוקד בחלק ממרחב ביה״ח שיפאא' בו הם סורקים אחר תשתיות ואמצעי טרור של חמאס. כמו כן, הכוחות מסרו ציוד הומניטרי והניחו אותו בכניסה לבית החולים pic.twitter.com/W7remVDPBL
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 15, 2023
More from the paper:
The army announced on Wednesday morning that incubators, baby food and medical supplies brought into Gaza by IDF tanks had reached Shifa, and that the medical teams and Arabic speakers were ensuring that the supplies reached those in need.
The IDF has publicized a safe evacuation route for civilians to leave Shifa and facilitated wide-scale evacuations ahead of its operation against Hamas. It has also maintained a regular dialogue with hospital authorities.
“In recent weeks, the IDF has publicly warned time and again that Hamas’ continued military use of the Shifa Hospital jeopardizes its protected status under international law, and enabled ample time to stop this unlawful abuse of the hospital,” the IDF said on Wednesday. “Yesterday, the IDF conveyed to the relevant authorities in Gaza once again that all military activities within the hospital must cease within 12 hours. Unfortunately, it did not,” the statement continued.
Israel believes that some of the more than 240 hostages captured during Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre may be held underneath Shifa. An initial search of the hospital on Wednesday showed no signs of hostages, but the IDF believes that the operation could yield intelligence leading to their whereabouts.
*The BBC, which along with the Guardian publishes the most slanted anti-Israel take on the Hamas/Israel war, has really stepped in it this time. The original Reuters report was on the IDF forces targeting Al Shifa hospital, and said this:
The Israeli military said its forces were carrying out an operation on Wednesday against Hamas within Gaza’s biggest hospital, Al Shifa.
In a statement, the military said: “Based on intelligence information and an operational necessity, IDF forces are carrying out a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa Hospital.”
The military said: “The IDF forces include medical teams and Arabic speakers, who have undergone specified training to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment, with the intent that no harm is caused to the civilians.”
Here’s how a BBC reporter mangled the Reuters article simply by changing a word:
The @BBCNews changing the word “include” to “targeting” seems to go further than incompetence. This is a complete misrepresentation of what the IDF said in such a grotesque way that it can not be waved away. With antisemitism exploding in the UK they are inflaming and inciting. pic.twitter.com/g1cIGbSOmd
— Heidi Bachram 🎗️ (@HeidiBachram) November 15, 2023
But I don’t think it’s incompetence. The journalist must have been so sure that Jews = bad that she didn’t understand what she was reading in Reuters’ message. I don’t suppose she lied. She just couldn’t fathom that Israelis were capable of humane action so she assumed that they were shooting doctors and Arabic speakers, not supplying them.
Below is the BBC’s inevitable apology, which I retweeted:
This comes, I think, from the original reporter's assumption that the IDF simply couldn't be humane enough to include Arab speakers and doctors among the forces entering Al-Shifa hospital. Original Reuters report here: https://t.co/i56h017oHR https://t.co/xizMSJPeAV
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) November 15, 2023
Malgorzata’s take on the above: “A very unconvincing apology. This woman [the reporter] should be fired immediately and a special course of history and journalistic ethics should be given to all working for the BBC. “
*There’s the usual bilge at the NYT about renaming birds: an op-ed called “North American birds will no longer be named for racists—or anybody else.” (I swear, the paper is getting worse every day.)
On Nov. 1, the American Ornithological Society announced that it would be renaming all the birds under its purview that are currently named for human beings. The birds’ new names will reflect the species’ appearance or habitat — some trait associated with the actual bird, in other words, and not with the colonial explorer who first identified it.
“There is power in a name, and some English bird names have associations with the past that continue to be exclusionary and harmful today, said Colleen Handel, the president of the society, in a statement. “We need a much more inclusive and engaging scientific process that focuses attention on the unique features and beauty of the birds themselves.” The process of choosing new names will begin next year.
This change, which will affect some 150 North American birds, has been a long time coming. Ornithologists and amateur birders alike have long wrestled with the historical nature of bird names bestowed by early collectors. The norms of that era were themselves problematic, as explorers tromped across an already occupied landscape, killing, collecting and naming after themselves thousands of animals and plants that had already been given human names by people who lived more ecologically responsible lives.
Some of the birds — not all, it’s important to note, but some — were named for people who held views considered repugnant today. John James Audubon, the naturalist for whom the Audubon’s shearwater is named, was an unrepentant slaveholder who opposed emancipation. Gen. Winfield Scott, for whom the Scott’s oriole is named, led the forced eviction of the Cherokee along what is now known as the Trail of Tears.
The idea that some of the most beautiful birds in North America still carry those ugly names is objectionable to a lot of us, a scar from the past still enshrined in the present like a Confederate statue installed in a town square or a robber baron’s name gracing a university building. Such monuments represent history, it’s true, and history should not be forgotten. But neither should it be celebrated wholesale, especially when the bigotries and injustices of the past are too often on clear display in our own age.
I discussed this issue in detail just two weeks ago, Listing the pros and cons of renaming versus naming, I concluded that the downside slightly outweighs the upside, one reason being that the act will do nothing to increase the diversity of birders. As I said:
- The act is performative and accomplishes nothing towards alleviating social injustice. Presumably the idea is that, for example, having birds named after slaveholders is said to be harmful to African-Americans, and eliminating such names would bring into ornithology minorities who were offended by birds named after bigots.
- The acceptance of this mass action will justify future performative acts in science (my definition of “wokeness” is, at times, “the creation of purely performative actions or statements in the cause of social justice”).
But I have never heard of a single person who has been harmed by a bird named after a racist, and I doubt that renaming ALL birds with eponyms would increase the diversity of birders. Changing such names makes you feel virtuous and look virtuous to others, but is purely for show.
Greg Mayer added this in the comments. By “worldwide uniformity”, he means uniformity of names among English speakers only, and even that has its problems:
The groups that care about official common names are very much set upon worldwide uniformity (which of course is the point of scientific names– they’re the same everywhere, subject only to taxonomic freedom of thought). The AOS is going to have to convince the BOU, BirdLife Australia, Lynx Edicions, etc. to adopt their principle of no patronyms.
And of course the non-Anglophone countries, which are far more populous than the anglophone ones, will keep their old names, many of which will be offensive under “progressive” criteria.
*The Graduate Students Union (GSU) at the University of Chicago, new this year, is already taking stands on political issues, and not very wise ones. This doesn’t violate our Kalven Principle of institutional neutrality, I think, because the GSU is actually part of a non-University organization, the United Electrical Workers.
The Harvard Crimson reports that a similar union at Harvard, this time part of the United Auto Workers, made similar endorsements:
Harvard’s graduate student union voted on Friday to endorse national union statements supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel and calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
In the largest non-contract vote in the union’s history, more than 60 percent of roughly 600 votes from members of the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Auto Workers were in favor of signing two statements.
Approximately 64 percent of the union voted to support a statement signed by UAW rank-and-file members endorsing BDS, a movement advocating for the economic and cultural boycott of companies, organizations, and institutions with ties to Israel. The statement, which calls for the end of “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands,” has not been adopted by the UAW.
“As members of the labor movement, we call on U.S. labor unions to cut all ties with Israeli unions,” the UAW rank-and-file statement reads.
Around 69 percent voted to support a second statement primarily signed by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing war in Gaza.
“We commit ourselves to work in solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli peoples to achieve peace and justice,” it reads.
Now I’m not sure what grad-student unions are even doing taking political positions that apparently represent the views of the union when only 60-70% of its members agree with those positions (and probably not many Jewish students!). It seems to me that unions, like universities, should be institutionally neutral, because not only can a union position chill speech, but it may misrepresent the feelings of a substantial proportion of its members. These stands probably accomplish little except signal the virtue of more than 50% of the members. (I don’t know what the vote was for the University of Chicago statement, but the BDS movement is historically and implicitly antisemitic, and certainly wants to eliminate Israel.)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili speaks the truth (so long as there’s an observer!):
Hili: Qualia.A: Where?Hili: Everywhere
Hili: Qualia.Ja: Gdzie?Hili: Wszędzie.
From Stash Krod:
From somewhere on Facebook. As far as I know, all but one of these is true. No, the mountain goat isn’t a goat (not in the genus Capra) and the King Cobra is not a true cobra (not in the genus Naja). But which one is wrong?
Masih’s workout routine that, she says, keeps her sane. There’s also a paean to America if you read the whole text:
I am 45 kg so that is why friends often ask about my diet, and I answer with a smile: "Transnational repression and facing online harassment every day:)
However, here's a glimpse of my workout routine, essential for keeping body and soul healthy. Battling dictators and their… pic.twitter.com/FmczcJ9PW2
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 14, 2023
Sarah Haider had a child, but it seems to have affected her political judgement in a negative way. George Washington didn’t have any kids, and here’s an excerpt from a 2017 Washington Post article:
Akie Abe, Japan’s first lady, and Britain’s prime minister have spoken about how they struggled with infertility. “It’s been very sad. It just turned out not to be possible for us,” said May to “Leading Britain’s Conversation,” a British radio program.
What if someone is infertile, as above? Would you be disinclined to vote for them? Of course I’m childless, but it wouldn’t affect my judgement one way or the other. I suppose Sarah is thinking that someone without kids couldn’t be that concerned about the future of the planet.
I would be highly disinclined to vote for someone who isn’t a parent for head of state.
Surprising that it hasn’t mattered for so many Europeans. At the same time, it doesn’t seem that any of childless PMs governed remarkably differently, so maybe my intuition is wrong. https://t.co/ZJKHiMRTMH
— Sarah Haider 👾 (@SarahTheHaider) November 15, 2023
This is hilarious. An elderly man is interviewed in a Gaza Hospital and tells it like it is. The reporter quickly ends the interview, and the old man kicks the reporter (second video). (h/t Jez). Now of course we can’t be sure this is real, but it came from MEMRI, which has a good record of accuracy. This was on an Al-Jazeera live program, so they couldn’t cut it out!
to all the #Hamas supporters saying the interview was cut – the rest of the interview shows how the Al-Jazeera reporter cut him off and then the elderly man kicks him for cutting him off.
— Yaari Cohen (@YaariCohen) November 15, 2023
Speaking of funny interviews, here’s a satire of an interview of a Hamas leader by a BBC correspondent, both played by Israelis, who know well how biased against them the BBC is. Be sure to wait for the “moment in history” at the end.
— נדב איל Nadav Eyal (@Nadav_Eyal) November 14, 2023
Look at all the subtle aerial adjustments. The second one is astounding.
I raised it for a long time. When I go to work, I can put it in my bag and take it with me
I like flying squirrels 🥰 pic.twitter.com/0akh7IMYO8
— Thạch lam (@Thachlam97) November 14, 2023
The March, of course, was in favor of Israel (h/t Rosemary):
290,000 people marched in support of Israel yesterday and the Washington Post buried it in their metro section. pic.twitter.com/MV88dLvuK8
— John Ashbrook (@JohnAshbrook) November 15, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman who died in Auschwitz at 43:
16 November 1901 | A Czech Jewish woman, Dora Bondyová, was born.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 16, 2023
From Larry the Cat, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, who lives at 10 Downing Street:
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) November 14, 2023
And a predatory worm from Dr. Cobb:
Most ribbon worms or nemerteans are marine but there are also some terrestrial species. This is Leptonemertes chalicophora #hunting a springtail with its #venom-injecting proboscis. #WormWednesday #ToxinTuesday #TeamInverts #Predators
📽️ by the talented Iñaki Rojo Legarra pic.twitter.com/BpaBZffyDS
— Aida Verdes (@aida_verdes) October 14, 2020