New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Resigns After Sexual Harassment Probe

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced his resignation, effective August 24, after a week of intense pressure from fellow Democrats for him to step down. Cuomo, who has been in office since 2011, had few allies left after an investigation by New York’s attorney general found he had sexually harassed at least 11 women — allegations he continues to deny. “Governor Cuomo is still gaslighting New Yorkers,” says Yuh-Line Niou, a member of the New York State Assembly representing Manhattan, who says Cuomo must still be impeached. “Impeachment means that New York will not be paying Andrew Cuomo’s pension for the rest of his life. Impeachment means that Governor Cuomo will not be able to run for office again.”

Texas Governor’s Ban on School Mask Mandates Is a “Direct Threat” to Kids

As the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread, many hospitals are reporting record numbers of children being hospitalized, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, including Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and Texas. Dr. Christina Propst, a pediatrician in Houston, says children under 12 who are still ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines are at risk. “They are currently our most vulnerable population, just as this highly transmissible variant is surging across the country,” Propst says. She says Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order banning mask mandates in schools is a purely political decision that ignores science. ​​“What he is doing is a direct threat to the health and well-being of the children of Texas,” says Propst.

Housing Advocates Welcome CDC Eviction Moratorium But Say It’s Not Enough

Despite a new two-month moratorium on evictions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of people in the U.S. are still at risk of losing their homes as landlords in some states fight back against the measure. The new CDC moratorium is “a band-aid over a bullet wound,” says Tara Raghuveer, director of KC Tenants, a tenants’ rights organization in Kansas City. “This is a very small step. It’s the bare minimum. And for many tenants … this will actually not offer the protections that are needed to keep them in their homes.”

Today’s Crisis in Afghanistan Grew Out of 20 Years of US War

Racial Justice MLK’s Family and Civil Rights Leaders Call for Voting Rights March on Washington Environment & Health Democrats Propose Medicare for a Few More Instead of Demanding Medicare for All Politics & Elections GOP Lawmaker Suing Pelosi Over House Mask Rules Contracts COVID Politics & Elections Republicans Balk at Infrastructure Adding to Deficit After Opposing Pay-Fors Economy & Labor Predatory Banks at Walmarts Made Over 100 Percent of Profits From Overdraft Fees Economy & Labor COVID Relief Packages Dramatically Reduced Poverty. They Should Be Permanent. As the United Nations Security Council holds an emergency session to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan, we speak with Polk Award-winning journalist Matthieu Aikins, who is based in Kabul. The Taliban have been seizing territory for months as U.S. troops withdraw from the country, and the group is now on the verge of taking several provincial capitals. “In the 13 years I’ve been working here, I’ve never seen a situation as grim,” says Aikins. TRANSCRIPT This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We turn now to Afghanistan. The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency session today to discuss the ongoing crisis in the country. This comes as Taliban fighters are attempting to seize three provincial capitals: Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gah. The Taliban has also taken responsibility for a major attack Tuesday outside the home of Afghanistan’s defense minister in Kabul that killed eight people, though not him. On Thursday, the European Union condemned the recent Taliban offensive and demanded, quote, “an urgent, comprehensive and permanent ceasefire,” unquote. In recent days, the United States has stepped up airstrikes targeting the Taliban in an effort to support the Afghan miliitary. This all comes as the United States is on pace to withdraw its ground troops by the end of August. We go now to Kabul, where we’re joined by the journalist Matthieu Aikins. He is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. In 2013, he won a Polk Award for exposing U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. He has a book coming out on refugees in February. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Matt. It’s great to have you back. Matthieu, if you could start off by describing the situation on the ground as, what, I believe the U.S. now says they’ve pulled out 95% of their troops? MATTHIEU AIKINS: Thank you, Amy. It’s always a pleasure. Well, in the 13 years I’ve been working here, I’ve never seen the situation as grim. Kabul has been quiet for the last few months. That was shattered a couple days ago with this massive suicide attack. The provinces are falling to the Taliban. There’s a number of provincial capitals that are encircled. Just today, this afternoon, in fact, we had news that the Taliban have taken over Zaranj, which is the capital of Nimruz province in the southwest of the country. It’s a strategic province in terms of its borders with Iran and Pakistan. And the Taliban have entered the city. We are seeing images of that now, and it’s the first time that they’ve seized a provincial capital since the fall of Kunduz in 2015, when the government was able to take it back with U.S. help, including troops on the ground. So, it’s a very significant moment, and the bad news just seems to continue. AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about who the Taliban are? MATTHIEU AIKINS: The Taliban are a rurally based insurgency. I mean, at this point they’re setting up an alternative government to the Afghan state in their territories. They want to establish an Islamic system, an Islamic emirate. They claim to be fighting to be removing foreigners from their country, foreign troops, foreign occupation. So they call themselves the mujahideen, which is the same name, of course, that was used by fighters against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the areas of the country that they have control of, and talk about Kabul and also the significance of this latest attack that the Taliban has taken responsibility for outside the defense minister’s home. MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, up until now, the Taliban have largely controlled rural areas. And that really has to do with a split between Afghanistan’s cities and its countryside. The cities have benefited a lot more from the last 20 years of foreign military and development presence, whereas the countryside, they’ve borne the brunt of the violence, and they haven’t really benefited as much from development. So, you’ve seen this rural-urban split. The Taliban have captured a lot of these districts. Now they’re trying to encircle cities, and it’s going to be a much harder battle for them, because they have less support there, and the government now has fallen back upon its centers, where they have less problems about logistics. They’re also getting support from American airstrikes, which have been stepped up in recent days. I think one reason is because American troops are largely out of the country now, so there’s less targets for the Taliban to retaliate against. Instead, what they’re going to be doing is they’re going to be hitting the cities. They’re going to be hitting government targets in the cities, like the defense minister’s house, which was hit by a massive suicide bombing, as well as a member of Parliament next door. Apparently there was a hundred people meeting in that parliamentarian’s house, and it was, you know, very lucky that they were able to actually escape onto the roof, where there was a sort of bridge to a neighboring house. So only eight people were killed, but it could have been an incident with much higher casualties. And we’re likely to see more of that as the Taliban start to retaliate and bring pressure on the internationals and the government in response to these airstrikes. AMY GOODMAN: So, the U.N. is meeting now to deal with this issue. The U.N. warned, in a new report that civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 reached record levels, including a sharp increase in killings and injuries since May, when the international military forces started pulling out. “[W]ithout a significant de-escalation in violence,” the report says, “Afghanistan is on course for 2021 to witness the highest ever number of documented civilian casualties in a single year” since the U.N. records began. So, can you talk also about the effect of the U.S. air attacks? They say they’re supporting the Afghan military. They’ve intensified recently. And are they going to end by the end of August? MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, so far, the Biden administration has not said whether they’re going to end by the end of August. They’re reserving that right. And these airstrikes are happening now inside of cities, because the Taliban are inside cities. They’re in the outskirts of many of these provincial capitals. So they’re striking buildings. They’re striking heavily populated areas, a lot of civilians, so there are undoubtedly going to be heavy civilian casualties as a result of this urban combat, also on the side of the Taliban, who are, after all, responsible for these offenses into cities. So, the blood of a lot of civilians are going to be on their hands, as well. The fact of the matter is, is if these provincial capitals fall, it might also be quite bloody. It’s a kind of a no-win situation, I think maybe similar to what the U.S. faced in Iraq, where airstrikes were necessary to hold back the advance of insurgents from capturing major cities. But at the end of the day, there’s very little leverage that the international community or the U.S. has on the Taliban. We’ve been bombing them, assassinating them, sanctioning them for 20 years. So, as long as they’re winning, capturing territory, they have no incentive to come to the bargaining table. So, probably we’re going to see brutal, bloody fighting until there’s a stalemate of some sort that persuades both sides to talk. And I’m afraid we’re quite far away from that. And we’re going to see increased civilian casualties and also a massive wave of displacement. There’s going to be Afghan refugees who are going to be leaving, who are leaving already in heightened numbers for neighboring countries. And ultimately, some of them are going to try to reach Europe. AMY GOODMAN: And what will happen with them? MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, you know, it’s sad to say, because I covered the major wave of displacement of people who were crossing in rubber rafts across the Mediterranean in 2015, ’16. They were walking across mountains and deserts to get there. And since that refugee crisis, what we’ve seen is these countries have actually hardened their borders. They’ve built fences. They’ve built walls. They’ve built concentration camps, with the support of the European Union, just like the U.S. has fortified its southern border. So, the way is going to be a lot harder, a lot more brutal for these people who are fleeing this disintegration of their country. AMY GOODMAN: You’ve reported extensively on U.S. war crimes committed in Afghanistan, in the longest U.S. war in history. Can you talk about the legacy of the U.S. invasion and what the United States military leaves in Afghanistan? MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, I think the military was very focused on short-term solutions. You know, there was this adage that we didn’t fight, you know, a 20-year war; we fought 20 one-year wars. With each new troop rotation, people were looking to make solutions that would last to the end of deployment. So, it’s kind of no wonder that things are falling apart so quickly, because nothing was made to last really. And so, that’s one legacy. The other is that there have been quite brutal human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings committed by Afghan security forces. In Kandahar right now, the Taliban have captured areas like Spin Boldak. They are definitely carrying out extrajudicial killings. There’s been evidence. I’ve heard that from my sources. Many of the people they’re targeting are former members of the government security forces, police belonging to General Abdul Raziq, a commander that I reported on, whose men were engaged in documented extrajudicial killings. So, this cycle of violence, this cycle of war crimes is continuing, it’s accelerating. And I fear that in the coming months and years that we’re going to see as a return to the kind of open, widespread massacres and violations of rights that we’ve seen in previous years during the civil war. AMY GOODMAN: Although we say U.S. troops are out of Afghanistan within weeks, in fact, thousands of mercenaries will remain there, and other what the U.S. calls support staff. Is this war just going to become much more secret and much more — even less accountable than it is? MATTHIEU AIKINS: I think that the U.S. role in this war is definitely going to become more secret and less accountable, because it’s going to be largely carried out by the CIA and special operation forces that are operating under secret, covert authorities. So we’re going to know less about it, certainly. And at the same time, though, I think that it’s going to become a much more of Afghan war. There’s not going to be the same presence that we had before. So, it’s very difficult to say what the U.S. will be doing, because we’re not going to have a lot of visibility on it. It’s going to be a much smaller role, but significant nonetheless. I mean, don’t forget that they’re bankrolling the Afghan government, paying their salaries. And without that, there would be an even faster collapse of the Afghan security forces. AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think that the U.S. media — of the U.S. media portrayal of what’s happening in Afghanistan right now? What’s missing, Matthieu? MATTHIEU AIKINS: I think that there is a lack of recognition that what we’re seeing now is the consequence of 20 years of bad decisions, of ignoring corruption, human rights abuses. And for all the violations of human rights, the murders, the massacres that the Taliban are undoubtedly carrying out, the violence that they’re inflicting on Afghan civilians, the suffering that their offensive is bringing, the threat that they’re going to pose to civil society activists, freedom of speech, media — all of which is absolutely real and very condemnable — it is the result of 20 years of violence inflicted on the Taliban in the rural areas, 20 years of interlacing the media and the civil rights, civil society here with this military presence, so that they’ve become kind of indistinguishable in the eyes of the Taliban. And so, what we’re seeing now is the result of two decades, and it’s going to be very difficult to turn that ship around. We’re going to be witnessing some very awful things, but we should try to keep the context in mind while still condemning them. AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matthieu Aikins, I want to thank you very much for being with us, speaking to us from Kabul, Afghanistan, contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine. Coming up, we will speak with human rights and environmental lawyer Steve Donziger. He took on Chevron for polluting the Ecuadorian Amazon. Today marks year two, two years since he’s been under house arrest. You’ll find out why. Stay with us. This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Rep. Ilhan Omar Backs Ballot Initiative That Would Abolish Minneapolis Police

Environment & Health New COVID Variants Threaten to Make Pandemic Permanent Economy & Labor COVID Relief Packages Dramatically Reduced Poverty. They Should Be Permanent. Economy & Labor Predatory Banks at Walmarts Made Over 100 Percent of Profits From Overdraft Fees Environment & Health Biden to Set Goal for Half of All Vehicle Sales to Be Electric by 2030 Environment & Health MO Coroner Says He Alters Death Certificates If Families Dislike COVID Inclusion Environment & Health Biden Made Big Compromises on Climate — and Movements That Backed Him Are Livid Congressmember Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, whose district includes Minneapolis, says she supports a ballot initiative to abolish the city’s police department and replace it with a new “Department of Public Safety.” Local activists have already gathered tens of thousands of signatures for the move. “We’ve had a very incompetent and brutal police department for a really long time,” says Omar, who adds that while much of the world associates the city’s cops with the murder of George Floyd, local residents have witnessed the department’s violence for much longer. TRANSCRIPT This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Omar, speaking of the horror of losing lives unnecessarily, I wanted to pivot to your home state and to your city, Minneapolis, where police killed George Floyd, murdered him, prompting mass protests. Now local activists have gathered more than 22,000 signatures to place a measure on the ballot this November to vote on whether to abolish the city’s police department and replace it with a new Department of Public Safety. But the city attached an explanatory note to the ballot initiative that organizers say is a misleading, partial description. They filed a lawsuit to stop the note from being placed on the ballot initiative, saying the city is trying to influence voters with subjective, selective language. You are one of the leaders of this community that has experienced so much trauma. Can you talk about your views on this and what you think would lead to a more just solution, not only in Minneapolis, but it is certainly a model for the whole country? REP. ILHAN OMAR: Yeah. Well, first of all, in regards to the ballot measure and to the tactics of those that want to keep the status quo in place, I say to them, you know, we’ve dealt with that before in Minnesota in regards to ballot measures, and I believe that this one will also be met with the same fate as the other ones, so I’m confident that we will prevail. We’ve had a very incompetent and brutal police department for a really long time. And, you know, to the rest of the country and the world, they saw what happened with George Floyd and might have thought this is a one-off situation. I remember witnessing my first police shooting as a teenager, where they put nearly 38 bullets into the body of a mentally ill man who was just released from an institution, who didn’t speak a word of English, who couldn’t respond to their commands, who was not of any imminent threat to have had his life taken in such a brutal and a shameful way. And so many of us have experienced those kind of killings in front of civilians far too often than we would like to have seen. So, the fact that the Minneapolis Police Department can no longer exist the way it is is one that is understood by the majority of us. And I believe in the fight that people have engaged in, in regards to trying to have a more just system for us, and we’ll continue to support their effort. AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Congressmember Ilhan Omar, Minnesota congressmember representing the 5th Congressional District, from Mogadishu to Minneapolis. The paperback edition of her memoir has just been released. It’s titled This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman. Thanks so much, Congressmember Omar. Well, up next, we go to Lebanon, where security forces fired water cannons and tear gas at protesters marking one year since the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut, killing hundreds, injuring thousands. Stay with us. This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Human Rights Watch Accuses Israel of Apparent War Crimes in Gaza Assault

Environment & Health EPA Approval of PFAS for Fracking May Spell a New Health Crisis for Communities Politics & Elections Both the Delta Variant and Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal to Our Society Environment & Health Biden Promotes $100 Incentives to Encourage Unvaccinated to Get Their Shots Environment & Health Exxon-Influenced Senators Carved Climate Out of Infrastructure Almost Entirely Environment & Health Chomsky: We Need Genuine International Cooperation to Tackle the Climate Crisis Politics & Elections The Right Wing Wants Misinformation and Manufactured Ignorance, Not Democracy Human Rights Watch is calling on the International Criminal Court to open a probe into apparent Israeli war crimes committed during its recent 11-day assault on Gaza that killed 260 Palestinians, including 66 children. We discuss a major report HRW released this week that closely examines three Israeli strikes that killed 62 Palestinians civilians in May. U.S.-made weapons were used in at least two of the attacks investigated. Human Rights Watch concluded Israel had committed apparent war crimes. “You had people’s entire lives — their homes, their businesses, their wives, their children, their husbands — gone in a flash,” says Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, who helped lead the investigation. “The international community focuses on Gaza maybe when there are armed hostilities. But two months later these families continue to deal with the aftermath of the devastation wrought upon their lives.” TRANSCRIPT This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, the War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Human Rights Watch is calling on the International Criminal Court to open a probe into apparent Israeli war crimes committed during its recent 11-day assault on Gaza that killed 260 Palestinians, including 66 children. Human Rights Watch concluded Israel had committed apparent war crimes after closely examining three Israeli strikes that killed 62 Palestinian civilians in May. U.S.-made weapons were used in at least two of the attacks investigated. Human Rights Watch released this video to accompany its new report. A warning to our audience, the video contains graphic content, including the sounds of military attacks on civilians. NARRATOR: On May 10, 2021, 11 days of hostilities began between the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, in the Gaza Strip and Israel. The fighting took place amid escalating repression in occupied East Jerusalem and the prolonged closure of the Gaza Strip. These policies and practices reflect the Israeli government’s crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. PEOPLE: [shouting and screaming] NARRATOR: Human Rights Watch conducted in-depth investigations into three Israel strikes that killed 62 Palestinian civilians and involved serious violations of the laws of war and apparent war crimes. PERSON: Human Rights Watch will be reporting in August 2021 on Palestinian armed group attacks that caused civilian casualties. NARRATOR: In the northeastern corner of the Gaza Strip, outside Beit Hanoun town shortly after 6:00 p.m. on May 10, a guided missile struck near four houses belonging to the extended al-Masri family. Members of the family were packing processed barley for animal feed into sacks at the time. YOUSSEF ATALLAH AL-MASRI: [translated] My brother Ibrahim and I were around 150 to 200 meters away. When they struck our children, we were facing the events. We saw it with our own eyes when they were hit. I ran to them right away. I found our children scattered. They were scattered on the floor, ripped to pieces, blood and brain fragments. PEOPLE: [shouting] NARRATOR: Israeli authorities have said that the attack involved a misfired Palestinian rocket coming from the West but have produced no evidence to back up this claim. Witnesses saw a munition approaching them from the east, from Israel. Based on munition remnants found at the scene of the attack and witnesses’ descriptions, we determined that the six children and two adults were most likely killed by a type of guided missile used to attack military vehicles or personnel in the open. Six days after the attack, the Israeli authorities also included the photo of one man killed in the Beit Hanoun attack on a list of militant group activists they said had been killed in unspecified locations. Human Rights Watch’s interviews with witnesses who knew him indicate the man was a civilian. Our research uncovered no evidence of a military target at or near the site. We therefore found the attack to be unlawful. MOHAMMAD ATTALAH AL-MASRI: [translated] It was a scene I could never expect. Everyone cries and screams every day. Do you know what my wife wants? She wants me to sell the house. She cannot accept how her children were all killed. NARRATOR: Al-Shati Refugee Camp, located northwest of Gaza City, is one of the most densely populated places in the world. At about 1:40 a.m. on May 15, an Israeli airstrike destroyed a three-story building in the camp, killing two women and eight of their children. ALAA ABU HATTAB: [translated] I lived with my wife and five children in the house. Our home was filled with love, peace, and happiness. We had been living here for 30 years. There was no prior notice, no phone call, no order to vacate. That night I went to buy bread for dinner. All of a sudden there were sounds of explosion in the air. I found that my own home had been struck. PEOPLE: [shouting] NARRATOR: The Israeli military said it struck the building because senior Hamas officials were there. It also separately said that they had targeted a bunker under or near the building. None of the witnesses Human Rights Watch interviewed were aware of any militants or other military targets in or near the building. The Israeli authorities have presented no such evidence. PEOPLE: [shouting] ALAA ABU HATTAB: [translated] I had a reality. I had a dream here. I had a family here. Now I have no family and no home. My only daughter and I are on the street. They destroyed everything in my life. They destroyed my life entirely. NARRATOR: At about 1:00 a.m. on May 16, the Israeli military launched a four-minute attack in the heart of Gaza City along five streets including Al-Wahda Street, causing three multistory residential buildings to collapse. OMAR ABU EL-OUF: [translated] Me, my father and mother, and my brother and sister, we started hearing the sound of loud explosions. After the second missile landed, the house started to sway right and left as if it were about to fall down and collapse. I pulled my sister by the arm towards the hallway and held her in order to shield her. And suddenly, we saw the third missile coming from the window, and the hallway’s entire wall collapsed, and the whole floor suddenly disappeared, and everything fell on us. And afterwards, the fourth missile came down on us and destroyed everything. NARRATOR: Human Rights Watch determined that the three buildings collapsed after missiles struck the road or sidewalk next to the buildings. The Israeli military said that they targeted tunnels used by armed groups. Later they said the attack had targeted an underground command center, but without providing any details or evidence. OMAR ABU EL-OUF: [translated] Why did they kill my family? Why did they kill my mother and father? Why did they turn me into an orphan? Who will in the end give me justice? NARRATOR: The attacks killed 44 civilians, including 14 women, 12 men and 18 children. It also injured about 50 others. The Israeli military used powerful weapons in a heavily populated residential area putting the lives of scores of civilians at risk. Since then they have produced no evidence of a military target in the vicinity to justify the attack. If there was a military target, they have also not shown that it was important enough to justify the risk to civilians. As a result, these attacks were unlawful. The U.N. says that Israeli airstrikes in May killed at least 129 civilians, including 66 children. The Israeli military said that Palestinian armed groups in Gaza fired more than 4,360 rockets and mortars towards Israel between May 10 and May 21, resulting in 12 civilian deaths, including two children. Several Palestinians also died in Gaza when rockets fired by armed groups fell short and landed in Gaza. Rockets that Palestinian armed groups fire at Israel are inherently indiscriminate when directed toward areas with civilians. Their use in such circumstances violates the laws of war and amounts to war crimes. For years, Israeli and Palestinian authorities have systematically failed to credibly investigate alleged war crimes. The International Criminal Court prosecutor should investigate Israeli attacks in Gaza that evidently killed civilians unlawfully, rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups against Israel that violate the laws of war, and other grave abuses, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. AMY GOODMAN: That new video produced by Human Rights Watch. The video was released along with a new report titled Gaza: Apparent War Crimes During May Fighting. We are joined now by Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch. He is joining us from Amman, Jordan. What were you most shocked by in these interviews, in this investigation into what happened in Israel’s last attack on Gaza? OMAR SHAKIR: Amy, some of the testimonies that we collected are among the most harrowing I have ever come across in my four and a half years working on Israel-Palestine. You had strikes that wiped out entire families. You had cases where families were reduced from having seven or eight kids to having one surviving member of their family. You had people’s entire lives, their homes, their businesses, their wives, their children, their husbands gone in a flash. And those testimonies are so important for us to discuss today because the international community focuses on Gaza maybe when there are armed hostilities, but two months later, these families continue to deal with the aftermath of the devastation wrought upon their lives. And it’s critically important to them and to all victims of grave human rights abuse that there is accountability for these serious abuses and that steps are taken by the international community to prevent yet another cycle of bloodshed and repression. This wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last unless we take grave, definitive action. AMY GOODMAN: What has been the response of the Israeli government to your report, Omar? To Human Rights Watch’s report? OMAR SHAKIR: Human Rights Watch wrote to the Israeli government in June. We specified the strikes that we were looking into. We sent them a number of detailed questions. They replied to our letter saying that they were not obligated under Israeli law to answer our questions and providing a list of general assertions, stating, for example, that they took measures to minimize the impact from their strikes. That fault belongs to Hamas because according to them they fire from populated areas. And saying that of course they would investigate these strikes. But these are the same allegations, these are the same claims they trot out each time. They did so in 2008, in 2012, in 2014, in 2018, in 2019. And they are doing so again today. The reality is that there is a whitewash mechanism within Israel that ensures that these abuses are not investigated, that impunity is the norm. And that is why it is so important that the International Criminal Court include these attacks as well as their larger context, including apartheid and persecution, in the formal probe that they are currently working on. AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about the change in perception in the United States about what is happening with the Israeli government and the occupation. I remember that front page photo display. It was Friday, May 28th. And the headline was, “They were just children.” And it shows scores of more than 65 children’s faces in Gaza who died in the attack. OMAR SHAKIR: That sort of reporting should be the norm, Amy, and it is unfortunate that for too many years, that has not been the case. The reality here is for too often Palestinian deaths, when they are covered—I mean, just this week as you mentioned in the lead to the news program today, you had a 20-year-old Palestinian who was killed. Killed while in a protest over the killing of a 12-year-old. And an organization, whose work is the defense for children in international Palestine, to document children’s deaths, had their offices raided this week by the Israeli army. Too often, these sorts of events do not make the international news cycle. These sorts of events highlight the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. There is certainly, Amy, growing awareness, I think, that apartheid and persecution are the reality for millions of Palestinians. I think we saw a shift in the latest hostilities, including members of the U.S. Congress, who did not just focus on the latest Palestinian rocket or Israeli airstrike, but looked at what they described as root causes of the conflict. Looking at the larger context, the discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. That is so important, because the first step to solving any problem is to diagnose it correctly. So recognition needs to happen. And then the action needs to be taken that is commensurate with that problem, in this case ending complicity with grave crimes as well as ensuring accountability for them. AMY GOODMAN: You talked about the killing of the 12-year-old Palestinian boy. He was named Mohammed al-Alami, sat in the backseat of his father’s car in an Israeli checkpoint north of Hebron. The 11th Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank this year. That is according to Defense for Children International, which publicized Mohammed’s killing on Wednesday. Yesterday, Israeli forces raided the group’s main office, seizing files about Palestinian children in Israeli detention. Can you comment on this? OMAR SHAKIR: Absolutely. There has been a systematic assault on human rights advocacy, on the individuals and groups that are reporting, documenting, speaking out against the reality of Israeli repression. For international groups, that can take the form of denials of entry or deportation. For Israeli groups, it can be smear campaigns. But Palestinian groups face it the worst. This is not the only example of the army raiding a human rights organization. It happened a couple of years ago with the group Addameer. And it is not limited to that. As we speak, there are Palestinian human rights defenders that are sitting in an Israeli prison over their activism and advocacy. There are Palestinian human rights defenders who face a travel ban, a punitive ban that seems linked to the work they do promoting awareness and calling for an end to Israeli repression. So it is important for the international community to speak out to defend the space for human rights advocacy and human rights groups to operate. Because if the international community cannot protect the space for human rights groups to report on human rights abuse, how are they ever going to stop human rights abuse in the first place? These are not one-offs. This is part of a systematic practice, and it must end. AMY GOODMAN: Omar Shakir is Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch. We will link to your report Gaza: Apparent War Crimes During May Fighting. And Omar, we are going to ask you to stay with us for our next segment as we look at the fallout from Ben & Jerry’s decision to halt ice cream sales in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli government claims the move is anti-Semitic, but many Jewish groups, including J Street, support Ben & Jerry’s decision. Stay with us. This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Civil Rights Leader, Educator Bob Moses Dies at 86

We remember the life of Bob Moses, the civil rights leader who left his job as a New York City high school teacher to register Black voters in Mississippi in the 1960s, facing down horrific violence and intimidation to become one of the icons of the movement. He died Sunday at age 86. Moses spent his later years as an advocate for improved math education, teaching thousands of students across the United States through the Algebra Project, the nonprofit he founded. Moses spoke to Democracy Now! in 2009, on the first day of the Obama presidency, recalling the 1964 fight for Black representation within the Democratic Party, the struggle against Jim Crow in the South and his passion for education. “In our country, I think we run sharecropper education,” Moses said, warning that unequal educational opportunities would continue racial disparities in the country. “We need a constitutional amendment, something which simply says every child in the country is a child of the country and is entitled to a quality public school education.”

Native Youth Lead Return of 10 Children’s Remains From Carlisle Indian School

The remains of nine Indigenous children were buried by the Rosebud Sioux in South Dakota after being transferred back from the former Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, where the children were forcibly sent over 140 years ago. Carlisle was the first government boarding school off reservation land, and it set the standard for other schools with its motto, “Kill the Indian,

Black Feminist “Back Talk” Anchors Resistance on Both Sides of the Atlantic 

Professor Akwugo EmejuluBlack Female Professors Forum “Britain demands that I give up my back talk and ‘know my place,’” sociologist Akwugo Emejulu tells me. “I’ve been told to shut up, directly or indirectly, more times than you would imagine. But how could I when there’s so much to be said, plainly and without artifice?” In her work, Emejulu — a Black feminist scholar at the University of Warwick in England — provides us with an unfiltered look at the racism and oppression faced by Black British women across significant domains of unequal employment, housing and health care, especially within the context of COVID-19. She documents how Black women’s suffering is exponentially increased relative to such crises as austerity in the U.K. And Emejulu also discusses the shared global dimensions of anti-Black racism vis-à-vis Black women.

Black Womanist Theology Offers Hope in the Face of White Supremacy

The language of “American racial reckoning” has been frequently cited since the tragic murder of George Floyd and the raising of American consciousness regarding its history of systemic racism. The ongoing murders of Black people by the police, and the profound ways in which Black people must continue to struggle against forms of anti-Black inequity across various political, social and economic indices, prove that there needs to be a robust reckoning. And yet, these realities perpetuate forms of anti-Black pain and suffering that thwart and belie such reckoning.