Common Grounds

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

March 28, 2024


To Discern Fact from Fiction, Use Your Head. THINK!



The Hague, The Netherlands 29 March 2024 | If you know of any story that is decisive, tell the world. We're still searching.





When you execute cruel and unusual collective punishment and bomb homes inhabited by innocent children, you expressly aim to kill the children first.

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

Injured children brought to receive medical care at al-Shifa Hospital after an Israeli airstrike on the al-Nasan building in Gaza City, October 27, 2023. (Photo: Saeed Jaras/APA Images)



The children are always ours,
every single one of them, all over the globe;
whoever is incapable of recognizing this
may be incapable of morality.”


James Baldwin


By Sabreen Akhter, MD

Pediatric Emergency Physician
21 March 2024


When children are present in a place that is bombed, they die more frequently than adults. Their smaller bodies are not capable of absorbing the impact as well. Their heads are more prominent and heavier, hitting surfaces with greater force than their size. Their abdominal organs are not as well protected by their rib cages and are more exposed to blunt trauma. Their hearts and lungs are tinier, closer to the surface, less muscular, spacious, and less protected. The smaller the child, the greater their risk.



When you bomb a place with children in it,

your primary intention is to kill all the children first.


Injured children were brought to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah for treatment following Israeli attacks in Gaza on March 19, 2024. (Photo: Ali Hamad/APA Images)


When children are present in a time of indiscriminate slaughter, they will always be the most vulnerable, the most affected, and the most in need of our protection. They will need pediatricians like me to act en masse and say unequivocally: CEASEFIRE NOW.


When children are present in a place that is starved of food and water, they die more rapidly than adults. Because of their increased metabolic needs and greater body surface area, a lack of clean water and nutrition affects them profoundly. Dehydration can set in in a matter of hours, and malnutrition in a matter of days. Their eyes sink, and their skins tent. They grow listless, and their development stunts. Over time, their organs start to slow and falter; their kidneys cannot filter the urine, and their hearts cannot keep pace. In infants, this happens even more rapidly, with simple electrolyte deficiencies from a lack of formula leading to seizures and, eventually, death. The smaller the child, the greater their risk. When you cut off water and food to a population with children, your primary intention is to starve all the children first.


Palestinian children try to get food from one of the charitable hospices in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.


When children are present in a place where there is no housing and where they are exposed to cold temperatures, they die more rapidly than adults. Hypothermia affects Children more intensely due to higher heat loss from their relatively larger heads and greater body surface area. They have less subcutaneous fat to protect them from the cold, and they radiate heat more quickly. Many cold children will go to sleep and never wake up. For others, the cold will affect them in other ways, slurring their speech, causing them to be confused, slowing their heart and breathing rates, and making them faint. If the hypothermic state is prolonged, they will die. The smaller the child, the greater their risk. When you destroy most of a population’s housing and force people to live outside in constant cold temperatures, your primary intention is for the children to die first.


When children are present in a place where there is no education because their schools have been destroyed, their teachers killed, and the remaining school buildings have become shelters, their futures will be in peril. Even a year without school, much less the many years it takes to rebuild decimated school systems can lead to stunted development, poverty, risk of addiction, unemployment, and lifelong mental health struggles. The smaller the child, the greater the risk, with the first five years of a child’s educational development being particularly crucial. When you destroy a population’s schools, your primary intention is to eliminate the futures of all the remaining children.


When children are present in a place where they are consistently exposed to violence, it impacts their lives profoundly in many ways. These Adverse Childhood Experiences can cause toxic stress, affecting children’s brain development, immune systems, and stress-response systems. Children who experience toxic stress from violence enacted in their communities will have difficulty with relationships and will struggle with finances, jobs, and depression throughout their lives. Their health may be affected, causing a cascade of increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. These struggles may be passed down intergenerationally and, if they survive the acute violence, may affect the lives of their children and their children’s children. These experiences have a dose-response relationship — the earlier and more frequently a child is exposed to violence, the greater the risk. When you consistently enact violence on a population of children, your primary intention is to deprive generations of future children of the capacity to live whole, healthy, and free lives.


Injured children were brought to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah for treatment following Israeli attacks in Gaza on March 19, 2024. (Photo: Ali Hamad/APA Images)


When children are present when their parents have been killed, their whole lives change irrevocably. The loss of a parent during childhood can lead to a wide range of severe and enduring health consequences, ranging from schizophrenia to major depression to suicide. If the child witnesses that death, the consequences are far more dire. When the number of children who have lost one or both parents – 25,000+ to date – , an entire generation of children will be forever suffering; when you kill off thousands of parents, your primary intention is to alter the lives of the children.


When children are present in Palestine in a time of intentional extermination, they will always be the most vulnerable, the most affected, and the most in need of our protection.


They will need pediatricians, such as myself, to act en masse to stand for them, to speak the truth about them, and to demand that their lives, communities, and futures be preserved. As their lives hang in the balance, they will need us to say unequivocally to the U.S. and Israel: ceasefire now.


Sabreen Akhter is a pediatric emergency physician with expertise in childhood trauma, international humanitarian aid, and Childhood Development. She has written for The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, The Chicago Tribune, and The Seattle Times.




Editor’s Note | It Takes a Village


Dear Sabreen,


Your article galvanizes thoughtful and kind people worldwide against injustice and tyranny.


Sabreen, on this Good Friday (according to the Roman tradition), let us remind ourselves of the Words spoken to all humanity: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots (Luke 23:34 New International Version).

Happy Easter 2024



Read more … ‘Antony Blinken – The Man Responsible For Genocide In Gaza,’ by Robert Inlakesh, Palestine Chronicle, 26 March 2024.


“I come before you not only as Secretary of State but as a Jew.”


Read more … OPINION ...Young US evangelicals are refusing to be ‘useful idiots’ for Israel, by Omar Ahmed, Middle East Monitor, 26 March 2024.


“The Zionist establishment has realized the value of Christian Zionism, despite the essential anti-Semitism of its ideology. To Jewish Zionists, the Christian Zionists are useful idiots. For end-timer Christian Zionists, the Jews are sacrificial lambs.”

— Author and lecturer Irving Wesley Hall



What is the Side of the Story that is Not Yet Decisive? Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen.





French lawmakers broke out into the Marseillaise in the National Assembly Tuesday following a moment of silence for the 17 victims of last week’s terror attacks, in the first time the national anthem has been sung in parliament since the end of WWI.


French members of parliament observe a minute of silence on January 13, 2015, to pay tribute to the 17 victims killed in the January 7-9 terrorist attacks François Guillot, AFP




The spontaneous show of unity followed a passionate speech by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who said that the country is at “war with terrorism, jihadism, and radicalism” while stressing that Islam, as France’s second-largest religion, “has its place in France.”


“Terrorism is aimed at breaking what we are,” Valls said before announcing a string of new measures aimed at fighting terrorism, including creating specific “quarters" for jihadists in prison.


Valls also urged the "regular reinforcement" of domestic spy agencies as well as surveillance of terrorist suspects.


His address was met with a standing ovation and thundering applause.


Eight and a half years after the Bataclan attack, Islamist terrorism has once again cowardly struck the audience of a concert hall,” she added, referring to a series of terrorist acts committed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) extremists in Paris in 2015. The group carried out a mass shooting and took hostages at a rock concert in the Bataclan theater, killing 90 people. The assault was one of three coordinated attacks that claimed a total of 130 lives combined and left more than 400 people injured.

France’s recent moment of silence was held in memory of the Moscow terrorist attack victims and in “solidarity with their loved ones,” Braun-Pivet said. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said later on Tuesday that the Russian people should “never be confused with their leaders,” also expressing “solidarity” with them over the terrorist attack.


An IS offshoot known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for the Moscow attack. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed “radical Islamists” for the attack but said it still needs to be established who gave the order.


Pressed on who may be responsible, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Aleksandr Bortnikov, said it could have been the US, UK, and Ukraine on Tuesday.


Relations between Moscow and Paris have been particularly sour in recent weeks after President Emmanuel Macron commented that the West should not rule out sending NATO troops to Ukraine amid the conflict between Moscow and Kyiv.


His words alarmed even some of Paris’ NATO allies, who rushed to deny having such plans. Moscow warned in response that the move would bring the world to the brink of war. Putin also warned against escalation earlier in March, saying that a direct clash between NATO and Russia would be “one step shy of a full-scale World War III.”





The Moscow attack and the most crucial words in the international intelligence community – DUTY TO WARN


One of the suspects in the terror attack on the Crocus City Hall is seen before appearing at the Basmanny District Court in Moscow on March 24. / Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu via Getty Images.


By Seymour Hersh
27 March 2024


It took the American media only a few days to cite the phrase “duty to warn,” arguably three of the most revered words in the intelligence community’s lexicon today.


When invoked, they require specific information about an imminent terrorist attack to be forwarded to vulnerable and threatened nations, including Russia and Ukraine. The US duty-to-warn obligation even extends to other potential adversaries, such as Iran, with that government having a similar responsibility to warn all. The requirement doesn’t include operations run by either nation.


This American intelligence community passed a warning of a possible attack involving religious extremists from Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan eighteen days in advance of the Moscow concert hall assault that killed at least 137 [update: 140] people and injured more than one hundred. Such a warning invariably comes from intercepts from the National Security Agency, and agent reports from the Central Intelligence Agency.


The Americans did their job. Presumably, the Russian intelligence community did not. The Kremlin publicly called the warning “provocative statements” three days before the attack, and the Russian security services ignored it. In the view of American intelligence experts, they seem responsible for what was necessary to protect the concertgoers.


The self-declared perpetrators were members of the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province, known as ISIS-K. The extremist group gained traction in eastern Afghanistan a decade ago after terrorizing the local population with beheadings and other brutalities. ISIS-K was designated a global terrorist group by Washington in 2016 after it survived a little-known but intensive offensive by American and Afghan forces. The group briefly burst into prominence in the fall of 2022 when it attacked the Russian embassy in Kabul, killing six people.


ISIS-K earlier had claimed responsibility for the death of 170 Afghans who were beset by bombs and gunfire while attempting to flee the country, along with thirteen American military personnel, in their chaotic withdrawal from Kabul in mid-2021. The retreat from a lost war was a courageous decision by President Biden, who was more willing to admit defeat than his predecessors. But the ISIS-K attack turned a difficult decision into a tragic one.


In Afghanistan, ISIS-K is now in competition, if not open civil war, with the Taliban and recruits heavily among disgruntled Taliban followers.


ISIS-K, along with similar terrorist groups operating out of neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, has been intensely targeted by American intelligence. One involved CIA operative told me that the agency has an asset that Russia lacked during its war in Afghanistan in the 1980s: a capability to monitor signal and communication intelligence from ISIS-K and related terrorist groups. The data is assumed to have come via American gear installed on a mountain range in Pakistan.


The now-retired agent said that he and others in the intelligence community “truly believe that there is a duty” to warn other nations—even Russia—of impending terrorist attacks. He also recalled the brutality of the extremist groups in the region who often did not kill their enemies immediately but relished putting them through a slow death. “They liked to chop up people, limb by limb, and let them bleed out until they died,” he said. Russians, he told me, are an especially prized target.


Another involved official, with many years of experience, explained that “the number one priority of the American community is tracking all of these ISIS groups—both the leaders and the hit squads. We have superb international cooperation in the effort and openly share data with vulnerable countries, including Russia and Ukraine. When we have the opportunity—that is, military access—we take them out with our assets, often without publicity, except when the Delta Force and SEALs beat their chests in competition.” (At this point, he assured me that the various commanders of the involved special forces units put an end to “that nonsense.”)


The official explained that when there is immediate intelligence on a planned terrorist attack, and no American forces are available, “we alert the vulnerable foreign target with what we know.” The official added that “had ISIS relocated to Ukraine, we would have known it and removed them. They did not do so, and so we did not.” He went on: “For many organizational and cultural reasons, Russia cannot simply do what we can do in this shadow world. We gave them a timely and accurate heads-up, but they were still vulnerable and paid a gruesome price.


“The threat to Russia from the Muslim extremists existed long before the USSR collapsed. The Chechnya massacre”—in 1999 Putin ordered the destruction of Grozny, the Chechen capital—“and trouble in Georgia”—two provinces there vainly sought to break away from Russian control in 2008—“are examples of a struggle that will continue. It has nothing to do with Ukraine except that [Putin’s] focus on Ukraine” led him to make a false accusation—a reference to Putin’s continued insistence that Ukraine was involved in ISIS-K’s massacre at the concert.


The prophetic alert released by the US Embassy in Moscow on March 7 explained that the embassy “is monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts, and U.S. citizens should be advised to avoid large gatherings in the next 48 hours.”


By any standard, the American intelligence was riveting. President Putin chose to ignore the warnings, and in its aftermath, he has fixated on what he apparently believes was an attack that in some way had been orchestrated or known in advance by the Ukrainian government.


His denial of the reality led him, as an essay in Politico put it, to assume that his relationship with Hamas and stance on Israel’s war in Gaza meant that Russia would not be an ISIS target. He went so far as to ask rhetorically: “Are radical and even terrorist Islamic organizations interested in striking Russia, which today stands for a fair solution to the escalating Middle East conflict?”


The tragic reality, as the Russian leader continues to insist on Ukraine’s involvement, is that he and his cowed bureaucracy might have failed his people and their children. 




Editor’s Note | A Topsy-Turvy World Bursting with Self-Righteousness


What would preclude the West from retaining the services of ISIS-K to send martyrs to Paradise by butchering Russians at the Crocus Concert Hall? In Eastern Europe, it costs around $250.00 to hire a killer. In Albania, it costs even less. A $million goes a long way. And the assassins are assured a thousand virgins in Paradise. It’s a win-win, except for those killed.


In this topsy-turvy world, what is not impossible?


Just thinking. 






Sources told the newspaper that Washington’s “adversarial relationship” with Russia prevented full disclosure of what it knew.


FILE PHOTO: A lectern before a media briefing at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. © Jim WATSON / AFP


Give us a chance to analyze this story. Stay tuned!




Large sums of money were transferred to the Crocus City Hall attackers from Ukraine, the Russian Investigative Committee has said


© Social media


The suspects in last week’s Moscow terrorist attack were linked to Ukrainian nationalists, the Russian Investigative Committee stated on Thursday, citing preliminary findings. The law enforcement agency said the perpetrators had received “significant sums of money” from Ukraine.

Investigators have obtained “substantiated evidence” … a complete analysis next week.





Much of the West's response to the terrorist attack in Moscow betrays embittered bias and a disgraceful failure of elementary compassion and fairness.



Tarik Cyril Amar
26 March 2024


Only a few days ago, one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history occurred in Russia. The perpetrators stormed concert venue Crocus City Hall on the outskirts of Moscow, systematically and in cold blood massacring as many victims as they could, then starting a devastating fire that destroyed much of the adjacent shopping mall.


Numbers cannot convey the depravity of the attackers or the suffering of the victims – and of their families and friends – but they can convey some of the scale of this horror: As of 25 March, 137 [update: 140] were reported as killed, and over 180 as injured. As always, in such cases, many more will have to struggle with severe psychological trauma.


Like numbers, comparison is inadequate yet necessary to try to grasp the significance of this event. The 2015 Paris attacks that centered on a concert at the Bataclan venue, for instance, were similar in scope: They left at least 130 victims dead and more than 350 injured. The French government responded with an immediate countrywide state of emergency, massive security sweeps, and – as Encyclopedia Britannica sums it up – a “dramatic escalation of French military intervention in the Syrian Civil War” and an equally “dramatic increase in domestic security spending.”


There was also, of course, a great wave of international solidarity not only with the victims of the attack but, as was proper, with France as a nation. No Western or, for that matter, Russian commenters who care about their reputations would have dared make perverse claims about French authorities somehow being behind this horrific attack and prepared to sacrifice their people and to, in effect, betray their country.


Yet, things have turned out differently after the Crocus City Hall massacre in Moscow. While the Russian security services and authorities got to work in a manner fundamentally similar to the French response in 2015 (capturing 11 suspects, four of them “immediate” shooters who’d mass-murdered innocents at a concert, on the run towards the Ukrainian border), a disturbingly large number of Western politicians and media figures responded with a combination of glee, generally transparently concealed but at times stunningly open, with hypocritical equivocating, and, last but not least, with insane conspiracy theories. In other words, with anything but genuine compassion and respect.


A German X user (here anonymized) with over 30,000 followers delivered an example of pure sadistic pleasure by posting a picture of the Crocus mall in flames, with the comment “May it burn, may all of Moscow burn.” Perhaps realizing he sounded as if tweeting from the Nazi Reich Chancellery, the over-excited user subsequently deleted this message. But without displaying any signs of remorse.



Some X users may not strike you as representative, even with many followers indicating a concerning popularity. However, consider the case of Michael Roth, a highly vocal member of the German parliament (for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD) and chair of its Foreign Policy Committee. He showed enough smarts to abide by minimum decorum, just enough to admit that Russia had suffered a “cruel act of terror” that cannot be justified.


But his real message was something else, namely that with Russia, such a minimal concession to common decency (insincere as it may be) can and must immediately be accompanied by some Russophobic ranting: Roth carefully hedged that his “compassion” was (clearly: only) for “the innocent victims,” which translates into withholding any acknowledgment of the fact that – as with Bataclan in France – the Crocus attack is also an attack on a whole country and nation. He then proceeded to slander Russia as a “terror state,” caricaturing its war in Ukraine as a campaign of terror. (Roth, by the way, is a great fan of Israel, who has loyally stuck with Tel Aviv through its Gaza genocide with true Germanic “Nibelungentreue.” Go figure…).


Meanwhile, Roderich Kiesewetter, a militaristic foreign-policy hardliner from the CDU (Angela Merkel’s party and the conservative rivals of the SPD), has publicly fantasized about the possibility of a “false flag operation.” Bereft of any evidence or plausibility, the idea of Russia bizarrely launching a massive terror attack on itself, Kiesewetter had the urge to say, can nonetheless “not be excluded.” In Germany, baseless accusations and insane speculation are bipartisan as long as the target is Moscow.


Suppose Kiesewetter and Roth, influential if not (yet) first-rank German politicians, illustrate the toxic brew of Russophobia, deranged conspiracy fantasies, and sheer lack of decency that is now ‘normal’ in Berlin. In that case, Germany has had no monopoly on perverse responses to the Crocus massacre. Let’s look at some traditional and social by-no-means marginal representatives of Western media.


US-based Igor Sushko, a famous purveyor of deep-frosted neo-Cold War hype with over 300,000 X followers, raced into overdrive, rapidly promoting a black legend of “Putin’s false flag terror attack at the Crocus City Hall,” as if he had to hurry to get the fake news out before reality hits. And that may well have been the idea: As every propagandist knows, dirt flung first can stick around – at least with the poorly informed – even once the facts have been established.


Alexey Kovalyov, formerly of ‘Meduza’ (a website based in Latvia, which has spent recent years waging information war against Russia – such as warning of imminent martial law, which never happened) and a stalwart representative of that ‘liberal’ Russia that the West loves to promote, joined the monotonous ‘false flag’ chorus with a gratuitous display of a lack of logical acumen by absurdly concluding from a terror attack which did take place that the Russian authorities are not preventing any such attacks. He also sensed an opportunity to warm up old fairy tales, repeating the allegation that Putin was to blame for terrorist bombings in Russia in 1999. Never mind that the best – and very critical – biographer of Putin, Philip Short, has explained in detail why that old rumor makes no sense.


Oliver Carroll, another staunch warrior on the (ideological) eastern front, rushed to frame the Crocus massacre with aberrant references to the Berlin Reichstag Fire of 1933 and the Kirov murder of 1934. These incidents have in common that it’s either virtually certain (with the Reichstag Fire) or at least a widespread belief (with the Kirov murder) that state authorities staged them. In other words, yet again, ‘false flag’ operations. Carroll, too, has zero evidence to offer. But then, he works for The Economist, so none is needed. Not when it’s about putting the boot into Russia and its government.


It would be tedious to catalog the whole emerging swampish ecosystem of “Crocus Truthers.” Suffice it to say that it features famous old hands of the propaganda war, such as Garry Kasparov and, from Ukraine, Sergei Sumlenny (a lesser practitioner, conspicuous perhaps above all for combining an almost grotesque Russophobia with a very long stint as a de-facto point man for the German Green Party in Kyiv) and, last but not least, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo.


In case you are blessed with not remembering him (or her? I admit, I have lost track), that is the person who volunteered as a clownish yet vicious spokesperson for the Ukrainian military – in a sadly transparent attempt to deploy a little “queer-washing” to please (some) Western audiences. In that capacity, Ashton-Cirillo launched a deranged, violent rant against the blogger Gonzalo Lira. Lira later died in a Ukrainian prison, abandoned by his government in Washington and killed by a combination of massive medical neglect and – it is virtually certain – torture.


What to make of this odd alliance? Influential mainstream politicians and journalists, oddball (to put it mildly) social media types, and a gaggle of eternally bitter Russian oppositionists in exile who have never figured out how to square their intense dislike of Putin’s Russia with an adult sense of the West’s capacity to use them…


Two things seem inevitable: This degree of hatred of Russia makes the haters blind in a manner that leads to reputational self-damage, if not today, then tomorrow. And it also comes with an unsurprising inability to face the reality of the Zelensky regime in Ukraine.


For, tellingly, the absurd ‘false flag’ accusations are almost always accompanied by an adamant refusal even to consider that the Kyiv regime may have been involved, in one way or another, in the Crocus massacre. And yet, as a matter of fact, it could well turn out that there was some form of Ukrainian hand behind the attack.





The jailed WikiLeaks founder has been allowed a new, limited bid to fight his extradition to the US


FILE PHOTO: Julian Assange supporters rally outside London's Royal Courts of Justice. © Dave Benett / Dave Benett / Getty Images


Amnesty International

RT World News
26 March 2024


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange scored a victory on Tuesday in his years-long legal battle in the UK to avoid extradition to the US. Not much has changed to help his present condition, but his defense has been given another day in court.


Assange, 52, has been in a top-security British prison since 2019. He has endured solitary confinement in Belmarsh prison, which is usually reserved for dangerous criminals while awaiting trial for a bail violation. The US indicted him under the country's Espionage Act a month after his arrest, with Washington’s lawyers proceeding to file an extradition request. Supporters say the US and the UK are persecuting him for political reasons.


In 2021, a British district judge denied the extradition bid, recognizing Assange may commit suicide while in US custody, though dismissing other defense arguments. The Americans appealed the decision and asserted that the suspect would not be mistreated.


The US consequently won the case, and in June 2022, then-Home Secretary Priti Patel authorized the sending of Assange to the US. After several setbacks, his lawyers asked the High Court in February for a chance to challenge the original dismissal of the bulk of their case.


Judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson ordered on Tuesday that the extradition be halted, giving the US three weeks to provide additional guarantees that the defendant's rights would be observed.


In particular, the UK wants a pledge that Assange would not face solitary confinement or be held incommunicado. There is concern that the Australian citizen would be put into a so-called communications management unit (CMU) at a US federal prison, which critics call a way to silence dissenters. WikiLeaks has pointed out that American guarantees are “inherently unreliable,” according to prominent rights groups.


If the justices had ruled against Assange this week, his options in the British court system would have been exhausted. Unless a foreign party intervened, he could have found himself in US custody within 24 hours to 28 days. His legal team had planned to issue a plea to the European Court of Human Rights for an emergency injunction.


Assange supporters say he is facing US retaliation for publishing embarrassing state secrets, including evidence of alleged crimes during the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The case has serious ramifications for the freedom of the press in the West. President Obama reportedly declined to press charges against Assange due to the so-called ‘New York Times dilemma’ – reasoning that the transparency activist did not differ from legacy media outlets in his journalistic work.


The Department of Justice under President Donald Trump accused Assange of aiding and abetting whistleblower Chelsea Manning when she leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010.


President Joe Biden has rejected calls to drop the charges. According to the Wall Street Journal, the US government is considering striking a plea bargain with Assange, under which he would plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense in exchange for the extradition request being withdrawn.


UK: High Court adjournment of appeal leaves Julian Assange and all media workers in limbo



Reacting to the UK High Court’s decision to adjourn Julian Assange’s permission to appeal his extradition to the United States, Simon Crowther, Legal Adviser at Amnesty International, said:


“The High Court’s decision today leaves Julian Assange and all press freedom defenders in limbo, but the fight continues. The US lawyers now have a second opportunity to make diplomatic assurances, which the court will consider in May. Instead of allowing this protracted legal process to continue, the US should drop all charges against Assange.


“The UK remains intent on extraditing Assange despite the grave risk that he will be subjected to torture or ill-treatment in the US. While the US has allegedly assured the UK that it will not violate Assange’s rights, we know from past cases that such ‘guarantees’ are deeply flawed — and the diplomatic assurances so far in the Assange case are riddled with loopholes.


“Unfortunately, the court rejected some of Assange’s arguments, notably that the extradition was political. The court paused proceedings on the other grounds so the US could make diplomatic assurances, which it would then reconsider.


“The US must stop its politically motivated prosecution of Assange, which puts Assange and media freedom at risk worldwide. In trying to imprison him, the US is sending an unambiguous warning to publishers and journalists everywhere that they too could be targeted and that it is not safe for them to receive and publish classified material — even if doing so is in the public interest.”




The UK High Court published its decision. The court will now adjourn and allow the US to file fresh diplomatic assurances following a 20-21 February hearing. The court will reconsider on 20 May.


Amnesty International has reiterated concerns that Assange faces the risk of serious human rights violations if extradited to the US and has warned of a profound ‘chilling effect’ on global media freedom.



EDITORIAL | What is More Human?


It is easier to justify and perpetrate indiscriminate slaughter, cruel collective retribution, and ruthless state abuse. Isn’t it more humane to deal with the injustice and inequality of dispossession, displacement, confiscation, servitude, bondage, and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) grabbing the loot to be divided among all the winners of war, like the kibbutzim, Israel’s spacious farming communities, ‘built on the ruins of hundreds of Palestinian villages, ethnically cleansed; an occupation that has crushed the rights of Palestinians and caged them into ever-smaller holding pens?’” 41


               Most holier-than-thou Jews and Bible-thumping, spirit-filled, and born-again Christians – stuck in their ruts to their doctrinal dogmas – support indiscriminate slaughter, cruel collective retribution, and ruthless state abuse to drive out and purge the bad blood.


Notice! I did not mention the word ‘Genocide.’


One wonders how Israel can still make their propaganda stick. Mainstream media pinpoints, magnifies, and broadcasts Israeli bombing as self-defense, a ‘response’ to terror perpetrated by Hamas.


               They deny their television audiences and readers to become fully apprised of the fundamental issues: dispossession, displacement, confiscation, servitude, bondage, not to mention state terror and murder.


               And when some media outlets happen to show the losses on the Palestinian side, they often parrot the Israeli army’s double-speak, proclaiming the onslaught only aims to target Hamas’ fighters and the tunnels threatening Israel’s security, when most casualties are civilians.


               In war, truth becomes its first casualty.


The rule of law becomes academic. From 2001 through 2013, the Palestinian Resistance launched 4,890 mostly amateur rockets and hurled 15,047 mortar attacks into Southern Israel. They have terrorized the Israelis with fear. But few Israelis were killed and injured. Within thirteen (13) years, Israel suffered a total of 28 deaths and 1,971 wounded.


Palestinian resistance’s rockets follow indiscriminate trajectories, flight paths invariably going to ‘nowhere’ on the vast open Negev Desert, exploding on land or, when intercepted, in thin air. Look on the map. Gaza is located next to the sparsely populated Negev. It is genuinely David, the Palestinians, versus Goliath, the Israelis. Israeli’s military prowess – a highly disciplined 1) Israeli Defense Force (IDF) together with 2) Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service, and 3) Shin Bet, Israel Security Agency (ISA) (working undercover or ‘Magen veLo Yera'e’ (Hebrew: lit. ‘Defender that shall not be seen’ or ‘The unseen shield’), and working alongside 4) Aman, Israeli’s military intelligence and 5) a network of Palestinian spies.


Israel's combined military forces – naval gunboats to the East, tanks positioned on the land borders, and IAF aircraft equipped with F-15 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache helicopters, Delilah missiles, IAI Heron-1 drones and Jericho II missiles are no match to the Gaza-based Palestinian Resistance armed primarily with home-or factory-made missiles (and some long-range rockets, Grad missiles or Qassam rockets) but with inaccurate trajectories, usually exploding in open fields unless Israel’s Iron Dome first intercepts them.


In Israel, the term ‘overkill’ has become an understatement.


van Kempen, Abraham. Christian Zionism ... Enraptured Around a Golden Calf, 2nd Edition 2019, (Kindle Locations 2306-2309).


van Kempen, Abraham. Christian Zionism ... Enraptured Around a Golden Calf, 2nd Edition 2019, (Kindle Locations 2276-2293).


And now to the Eastern Front


THINK! Assume you’re President Vladimir Zelensky. Would you have sold out your country and your soul to the EU-US/NATO Axis? Why couldn’t he imagine pitting the West against the East and increasing trade between East and West? Ukraine could have earned $billions. Instead, Zelensky purchased a $32 million palatial mansion in Miami, a $4 million villa in Tuscany, and a home for his parents in Israel. Tel Aviv is one of the most expensive cities in the world. He wasn’t that wealthy before he became president in 2019. Neither were his republican guards.


And why would President Vladimir want to attack, invade, and expand Russia into any country in Western Europe? THINK! Look at the map!


Look at Ukraine’s geography vis-à-vis East versus West!


Wouldn’t President Putin prefer to expand his pipelines, rail tracks, and highways through Ukraine to increase bilateral trade between East and West?


Wouldn’t President Putin prefer to ship Russia’s raw materials from the Port of Odesa in Ukraine to markets around the world?


What happened? The war between the EU-US/NATO against the Russian Federation!


At the moment, despite the empty rhetoric, most of us in Europe DON’T WANT Ukraine to become a NATO Member State. TOO RISKY!


Now, scrutinize Ukraine’s geography and its ideal location as a commercial conduit between East and West. Wow! What a potential money maker.


But Ukraine’s internal corruption and short-term greed blind their ambition.


Ukraine is one of the poorest countries in Europe. It is also known as the most corrupt an easy prey to EU-US/NATO exploitation.


President Zelensky might be too deep in the EU-US/NATO Swamp to rescue himself from a Mussolini-type fate.


Study the map! Sweden has recently become the 32nd NATO Member State. Imagine expanded highways, rail tracks, pipelines, and shipping lanes in Ukraine serving East and West.


It is a humane scenario. So practical! The war was never necessary had the parties come to an amicable solution.


NATO EUROPEAN MEMBER STATES IN 2023. (The United States and Canada are not shown.)





Making a Difference – The Means, Methods, and Mechanism for Many to Move Mountains


Photo Credit: Abraham A. van Kempen, our home away from home on the Dead Sea


By Abraham A. van Kempen

Senior Editor
Updated 19 January 2024


Those who commit to 'healing our broken humanity' build intercultural bridges to learn to know and understand one another and others. Readers who thumb through the Building the Bridge (BTB) pages are not mindless sheep following other mindless sheep. They THINK. They want to be at the forefront of making a difference. They're in search of the bigger picture to expand their horizons. They don't need BTB or anyone else to confirm their biases.


Making a Difference – The Means, Methods, and Mechanism for Many to Move Mountains


Accurate knowledge promotes understanding, dispels prejudice, and awakens the desire to learn more. Words have an extraordinary power to bring people together, divide them, forge bonds of friendship, or provoke hostility. Modern technology offers unprecedented possibilities for good, fostering harmony and reconciliation. Yet its misuse can do untold harm, leading to misunderstanding, prejudice, and conflict.


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