The Young Turks • Dec 7, 2023 Join The Young Turks John Iadarola, and presidential candidates Cenk Uygur, Marianne Williamson, and Rep. Dean Phillips. Donate:… The DNC has stated that they will not host any primary debates for the 2024 election. The Democratic National Committee might be afraid – but TYT is not. Tune in as Democratic Presidential Candidates have the opportunity to respond to the Republican candidates’ answers, share how they would have answered the questions and share their positions on the same policies/platforms discussed in the debate. The fourth presidential debate is hosted by News Nation. The debate will be available to watch from 8pm – 10pm on television, streaming and digital platforms of News Nation, including streaming on The debate will be moderated by Elizabeth Vargas, anchor of NewsNation’s “Elizabeth Vargas Reports,” Megyn Kelly, host of “The Megyn Kelly Show” and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon. Candidates face the strictest donor and polling eligibility requirements yet. Candidates will need to be polling at 6% or higher in two national polls, or at 6% in one early state poll from two separate “carve out” states — listed as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to get behind a podium in December. cANDIDATES Trump will skip the fourth Republican primary debate and will host a fundraising dinner party.

Dec 7, 2023

Join The Young Turks John Iadarola, and presidential candidates Cenk Uygur, Marianne Williamson, and Rep. Dean Phillips.
Support the candidates here:
Cenk Uygur:
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The DNC has stated that they will not host any primary debates for the 2024 election. The Democratic National Committee might be afraid – but TYT is not. Tune in as Democratic Presidential Candidates have the opportunity to respond to the Republican candidates’ answers, share how they would have answered the questions and share their positions on the same policies/platforms discussed in the debate.
The fourth presidential debate is hosted by News Nation. The debate will be available to watch from 8pm – 10pm on television, streaming and digital platforms of News Nation, including streaming on The debate will be moderated by Elizabeth Vargas, anchor of NewsNation’s “Elizabeth Vargas Reports,” Megyn Kelly, host of “The Megyn Kelly Show” and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon.
Candidates face the strictest donor and polling eligibility requirements yet. Candidates will need to be polling at 6% or higher in two national polls, or at 6% in one early state poll from two separate “carve out” states — listed as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to get behind a podium in December. cANDIDATES
Trump will skip the fourth Republican primary debate and will host a fundraising dinner party.

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A radical plan for Trump’s second term

Photo illustration of President Trump with a photo from a campaign rally overlayed on his suit jacket
Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Seth Herald, Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Former President Trump’s top allies are preparing to radically reshape the federal government if he is re-elected, purging potentially thousands of civil servants and filling career posts with loyalists to him and his “America First” ideology, people involved in the discussions tell Axios.

The impact could go well beyond typical conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Trump allies are working on plans that would potentially strip layers at the Justice Department — including the FBI, and reaching into national security, intelligence, the State Department and the Pentagon, sources close to the former president say.

During his presidency, Trump often complained about what he called “the deep state.”

The heart of the plan is derived from an executive order known as “Schedule F,” developed and refined in secret over most of the second half of Trump’s term and launched 13 days before the 2020 election.

The reporting for this series draws on extensive interviews over a period of more than three months with more than two dozen people close to the former president, and others who have firsthand knowledge of the work underway to prepare for a potential second term. Most spoke on condition of anonymity to describe sensitive planning and avoid Trump’s ire.

red line separator

As Trump publicly flirts with a 2024 comeback campaign, this planning is quietly flourishing from Mar-a-Lago to Washington — with his blessing but without the knowledge of some people in his orbit.

Trump remains distracted by his obsession with contesting the 2020 election results. But he has endorsed the work of several groups to prime an administration-in-waiting. Personnel and action plans would be executed in the first 100 days of a second term starting on Jan. 20, 2025.

Their work could accelerate controversial policy and enforcement changes, but also enable revenge tours against real or perceived enemies, and potentially insulate the president and allies from investigation or prosecution.

They intend to stack thousands of mid-level staff jobs. Well-funded groups are already developing lists of candidates selected often for their animus against the system — in line with Trump’s long-running obsession with draining “the swamp.” This includes building extensive databases of people vetted as being committed to Trump and his agenda.

The preparations are far more advanced and ambitious than previously reported. What is happening now is an inversion of the slapdash and virtually non-existent infrastructure surrounding Trump ahead of his 2017 presidential transition.

These groups are operating on multiple fronts: shaping policies, identifying top lieutenants, curating an alternative labor force of unprecedented scale, and preparing for legal challenges and defenses that might go before Trump-friendly judges, all the way to a 6-3 Supreme Court.

The centerpiece

Trump signed an executive order, “Creating Schedule F in the Excepted Service,” in October 2020, which established a new employment category for federal employees. It received wide media coverage for a short period, then was largely forgotten in the mayhem and aftermath of Jan. 6 — and quickly was rescinded by President Biden.

Sources close to Trump say that if he were elected to a second term, he would immediately reimpose it.

Tens of thousands of civil servants who serve in roles deemed to have some influence over policy would be reassigned as “Schedule F” employees. Upon reassignment, they would lose their employment protections.

New presidents typically get to replace more than 4,000 so-called “political” appointees to oversee the running of their administrations. But below this rotating layer of political appointees sits a mass of government workers who enjoy strong employment protections — and typically continue their service from one administration to the next, regardless of the president’s party affiliation.

An initial estimate by the Trump official who came up with Schedule F found it could apply to as many as 50,000 federal workers — a fraction of a workforce of more than 2 million, but a segment with a profound role in shaping American life.

Trump, in theory, could fire tens of thousands of career government officials with no recourse for appeals. He could replace them with people he believes are more loyal to him and to his “America First” agenda.

Even if Trump did not deploy Schedule F to this extent, the very fact that such power exists could create a significant chilling effect on government employees.

It would effectively upend the modern civil service, triggering a shock wave across the bureaucracy. The next president might then move to gut those pro-Trump ranks — and face the question of whether to replace them with her or his own loyalists, or revert to a traditional bureaucracy.

Such pendulum swings and politicization could threaten the continuity and quality of service to taxpayers, the regulatory protections, the checks on executive power, and other aspects of American democracy.

Trump’s allies claim such pendulum swings will not happen because they will not have to fire anything close to 50,000 federal workers to achieve the result, as one source put it, of “behavior change.” Firing a smaller segment of “bad apples” among the career officials at each agency would have the desired chilling effect on others tempted to obstruct Trump’s orders.

They say Schedule F will finally end the “farce” of a nonpartisan civil service that they say has been filled with activist liberals who have been undermining GOP presidents for decades.

Unions and Democrats would be expected to immediately fight a Schedule F order. But Trump’s advisers like their chances in a judicial system now dominated at its highest levels by conservatives.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who chairs the subcommittee that oversees the federal civil service, is among a small group of lawmakers who never stopped worrying about Schedule F, even after Biden rescinded the order. Connolly has been so alarmed that he attached an amendment to this year’s defense bill to prevent a future president from resurrecting Schedule F. The House passed Connolly’s amendment but Republicans hope to block it in the Senate.


No operation of this scale is possible without the machinery to implement it. To that end, Trump has blessed a string of conservative organizations linked to advisers he currently trusts and calls on. Most of these conservative groups host senior figures from the Trump administration on their payroll, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The names are a mix of familiar and new. They include Jeffrey Clark, the controversial lawyer Trump had wanted to install as attorney general in the end days of his presidency. Clark, who advocated a plan to contest the 2020 election results, is now in the crosshairs of the Jan. 6 committee and the FBI. Clark is working at the Center for Renewing America (CRA), the group founded by Russ Vought, the former head of Trump’s Office of Management and Budget.

Former Trump administration and transition officials working on personnel, legal or policy projects for a potential 2025 government include names like Vought, Meadows, Stephen Miller, Ed Corrigan, Wesley Denton, Brooke Rollins, James Sherk, Andrew Kloster and Troup Hemenway.

Others, who remain close to Trump and would be in contention for the most senior roles in a second-term administration, include Dan Scavino, John McEntee, Richard Grenell, Kash Patel, Robert O’Brien, David Bernhardt, John Ratcliffe, Peter Navarro and Pam Bondi.

Following splits from some of his past swathe of loyal advisers, Trump has tightened his circle. The Florida-based strategist Susie Wiles is Trump’s top political adviser. She runs his personal office and his political action committee. When he contemplates endorsements, Trump has often attached weight to the views of his former White House political director Brian Jack, pollster Tony Fabrizio, and his son Donald Trump Jr. He often consults another GOP pollster, John McLaughlin. For communications and press inquiries Trump calls on Taylor Budowich and Liz Harrington. Jason Miller remains in the mix.

As Trump’s obsessions with 2020 fester, he has also broken with many traditional conservative allies in Congress. Most notably, his relationship with the man who delivered Trump the rock-solid conservative Supreme Court he hankered for — Sen. Mitch McConnell — is broken. McConnell is no longer on speaking terms with the former president.

Now Trump looks to Rep. Jim Jordan as his closest confidant on Capitol Hill. He has stayed close to former Rep. Devin Nunes, who runs Trump’s social media company, Truth Social. Trump continues to be a big fan of the far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

​​The advocacy groups who have effectively become extensions of the Trump infrastructure include the CRA, the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), and the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI).

Other groups — while not formally connected to Trump’s operation — have hired key lieutenants and are effectively serving his ends. The Heritage Foundation, the legacy conservative group, has moved closer to Trump under its new president, Kevin Roberts, and is building links to other parts of the “America First” movement.

Sources who spoke to Axios paint a vivid picture of how the backroom plans are taking shape, starting with a series of interactions in Florida earlier this year, on April 28.

Trump’s new targets

On that warm spring night in April, an armada of black Escalades drove through the rain from a West Palm Beach hotel to Donald Trump’s Mediterranean-style private club.

Donors and Trump allies were getting soaked through their clothes as they waited in a brief downpour to be frisked by wands before they could access the inner sanctum of Mar-a-Lago.

Inside, near the bar past the patio, a balding man with dramatically arched eyebrows was the center of attention at a cocktail table. He was discussing the top-level staffing of the Justice Department if Trump were to regain the presidency in 2025.

With a background as an environmental lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, a veteran of George W. Bush’s administration, was unknown to the public until early 2021. By the end of the Trump administration, he was serving as the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division — although other DOJ leaders paid him little attention. But Trump, desperate to overturn the election, welcomed Clark, the only senior official willing to apply the full weight of the Justice Department to contesting Joe Biden’s victory, into his inner circle.

In February of this year, Clark repeatedly asserted his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination during a deposition with the Jan. 6 committee. And in the early hours of June 22, federal agents with an electronics-sniffing dog in tow arrived at Clark’s Virginia home to execute a search warrant and seize his devices.

But back in April, as Clark circulated at Mar-a-Lago wearing a loose-fitting black suit and blue shirt, any troubles related to the Jan. 6 investigation seemed a world away. Clark sounded optimistic. Half a dozen or so donors and Trump allies surrounded him at the high-top table.

One of the donors asked Clark what he thought would happen with the Justice Department if Trump won the 2024 election. Conveying the air of a deep confidant, Clark responded that he thought Trump had learned his lesson.

In a second term, Clark predicted, Trump would never appoint an attorney general who was not completely on board with his agenda.

There was a buzz around Clark. Given Trump wanted to make him attorney general in the final days of his first term, it is likely that Clark would be a serious contender for the top job in a second term.

By this stage in the evening, more than a hundred people were crammed onto the Mar-a-Lago patio. They were a mix of wealthy political donors and allies of the former president and they had come to see Trump himself bless Russ Vought’s organization, the Center for Renewing America.

Vought was a policy wonk who became one of Trump’s most trusted officials. Before joining the Trump administration in 2017 as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget — and ultimately going on to run the agency — Vought had a long career in conservative policy circles.

That included a stint as executive director and budget director of the Republican Study Committee — the largest bloc of House conservatives — and as the policy director for the House Republican Conference.

Trump was helping raise money for Vought’s CRA, which has been busily developing many of the policy and administrative plans that would likely form the foundation for a second-term Trump administration.

Trump himself was running late to the reception. But the introductory speaker, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, was filibustering, entertaining the crowd with stories about Trump and Vought’s efforts to fight a deep state that had tried to thwart them. Meadows paused. He scanned the patio. “Are there any Cabinet secretaries here?” he asked the audience. “Raise your hand if you’re a Cabinet secretary.”

Nobody raised their hand. “Well that’s a good thing,” Meadows said. “They often weren’t cooperating with us.”

Meadows was picking up on a theme from earlier in the day, when Vought’s group had held off-site sessions at The Ben, a luxury hotel a 10-minute drive up the coast from Mar-a-Lago.

In those closed-door sessions, Trump confidants, including former senior administration officials, discussed the mistakes they had made in the first term that would need to be corrected if they regained power.

They agreed it was not just the “deep state” career bureaucrats who needed to be replaced. Often, the former Trump officials said, their biggest problems were with the political people that Trump himself had regrettably appointed. Never again should Trump hire people like his former chief of staff John Kelly, his former defense secretaries, James Mattis and Mark Esper, his CIA director Gina Haspel, and virtually the entire leadership of every iteration of Trump’s Justice Department.

Shortly after noon, Kash Patel entered The Ben’s ballroom. Donors and Trump allies sat classroom-style at long rectangular tables in a room with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The group was treated to a conversation between Patel and Mark Paoletta, a former senior Trump administration lawyer with a reputation for finding lateral ways to accomplish Trump’s goals. The Patel-Paoletta panel discussion was titled, “Battling the Deep State.”

Paoletta was a close family friend and prominent public defender of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni Thomas. Throughout the Trump administration, Ginni Thomas had taken a strong interest in administration personnel. She complained to White House officials, including Trump himself, that Trump’s people were obstructing “MAGA” officials from being appointed to key roles in the administration.

As Axios previously reported, Ginni Thomas had assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them.

Her recommendations to the White House included appointing the right-wing talk radio provocateur and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino for a Homeland Security or counterterrorism adviser role. Thomas has recently been a subject of interest to the Jan. 6 Select Committee after the committee obtained text messages she sent to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows urging him to work harder to overturn the 2020 election.

Patel had enjoyed an extraordinary rise from obscurity to power during the Trump era. Over the course of only a few years, he went from being a little-known Capitol Hill staffer to one of the most powerful figures in the U.S. national security apparatus.

He found favor with Trump by working for Devin Nunes when he played a central role in the GOP’s scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Patel was the key author of a memo in which Nunes accused the Justice Department and the FBI of abusing surveillance laws as part of a politically motivated effort to take down Trump.

Some of Nunes’ and Patel’s criticisms of the DOJ’s actions were later validated by an inspector general, and Trump came to view Patel as one of his most loyal agents. He put him on his National Security Council and made him the Pentagon chief of staff.

In one astonishing but ill-fated plan, Trump had wanted to install Patel as either the deputy director of the CIA or the FBI late in his administration. He abandoned this only after vehement opposition and warnings from senior officials including Haspel and former Attorney General Bill Barr, who wrote in his own memoir that he told then-chief of staff Mark Meadows that Patel becoming deputy FBI director would happen “over my dead body.”

Never again would Trump acquiesce to such warnings. Patel has only grown closer to the former president since he left office. Over the past year, Patel has displayed enough confidence to leverage his fame as a Trump insider — establishing an online store selling self-branded merchandise with “K$H” baseball caps and “Fight With Kash” zip-up fleeces.

He hosts an online show and podcast, “Kash’s Corner,” and he is a prolific poster on Trump’s social media network, Truth Social. In May, Patel re-truthed (the Truth Social equivalent of re-tweeting) a meme of himself and special counsel John Durham “perp walking” a handcuffed Hillary Clinton.

He also set up the Kash Patel Legal Offense Trust to raise money to sue journalists. He recently authored an illustrated children’s book about the Russia investigation in which “King Donald” is a character persecuted by “Hillary Queenton and her shifty knight.” Trump characteristically gave it his imprimatur, declaring he wanted to “put this amazing book in every school in America.”

During that April 28 discussion at The Ben, Patel portrayed the national security establishment in Washington, D.C., as malevolently corrupt. He claimed the intelligence community had deliberately withheld important national security information from Trump.

According to two people in the room, Patel told the audience he had advised Trump to fire senior officials in the Justice Department and he lamented the appointments of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray. Paoletta also recounted to the audience instances in which Trump officials refused or slow-walked lawful directives because they disagreed with the former president’s policies.

Patel’s message to the audience was that things would be different next time. A source in the room said later the takeaway from the session was that if Trump took office in 2025, he would target agencies that conservatives have not traditionally viewed as adversarial.

Sources close to the former president said that he will — as a matter of top priority — go after the national security apparatus, “clean house” in the intelligence community and the State Department, target the “woke generals” at the Defense Department, and remove the top layers of the Justice Department and FBI.

A spokesperson for Patel, Erica Knight, did not dispute details from this scene at The Ben in West Palm Beach when Axios reached out for comment.

Regarding his other post-government activities, she said Patel wanted Axios to include this statement, in its entirety, in the story: “The fundraising focus has changed from the Kash Patel Legal Offense trust to the broader K$H foundation with an expanded mission of a variety of efforts including education, youth development projects, and veterans assistance. All money raised via K$H merchandise will benefit these great causes. The Kash Foundation is properly operating as a not-for-profit organization, has applied for tax exempt status, submitted the designation request to the IRS and is awaiting a designation.”

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Kash Foundation would likely be required to file detailed annual reports on its finances and activities with the IRS. But until that tax-exempt status is secured, it is difficult to know what Patel’s group — currently structured as a legal trust, Knight said — has raised financially or how it has spent its money. Knight declined to provide details on the group’s activity to date.

Later that day, at the Mar-a-Lago reception for CRA, Trump confirmed some of these impressions from Paoletta and Patel about his deep-rooted animosity toward top people in his administration. In a 45-minute speech, Trump rambled over a long list of grievances about his government, according to a witness.

He ridiculed his first Defense Secretary James Mattis, calling him “the most overrated general” in history, and added that a lot of the generals were overrated and should not be allowed to appear on television. Eventually, Trump asked the people who were holding up their iPhones to stop recording.

Trump saved his kindest words that night for two individuals: Mark Meadows and Russ Vought. He praised their organizations and the important work they were doing.

During the past year, Vought’s group has been developing plans that would benefit from Schedule F. And while the power rests largely on the fear factor to stifle civil service opposition to Trump, sources close to the former president said they still anticipate needing an alternate labor force of unprecedented scale — of perhaps as many as 10,000 vetted personnel — to give them the capacity to quickly replace “obstructionist” government officials with people committed to Trump and his “America First” agenda.

In other words, a new army of political partisans planted throughout the federal bureaucracy.

The new inner circle

The most important lesson Trump took from his first term relates to who he hires and to whom he listens.

Trump has reduced his circle of advisers and expunged nearly every former aide who refused to embrace his view that the 2020 election was “stolen.”

He spends significant amounts of his time talking to luminaries of the “Stop the Steal” movement, including attorney Boris Epshteyn and the pillow entrepreneur Mike Lindell, who has spent at least $25 million of his own money sowing doubts about the 2020 election result.

Daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are no longer involved in Trump’s political operation. Trump still talks to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy but their relationship is not what it once was. The former president is no longer in close contact with a variety of former officials and GOP operatives who once had his ear. This group includes former senior adviser Hope Hicks, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former campaign manager Bill Stepien.

Though Stepien has limited personal contact with Trump these days, he is still a part of Trumpworld. He participates in a weekly call that involves close advisers to the former president including his son, Donald Trump Jr. And Stepien is running the campaigns of several Trump-endorsed candidates.

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Activists To Rally at Lockheed Martin Office in San Francisco Urging an End to Weapon Production for Israeli Military


Dec. 7, 2023

MEDIA CONTACT: Melissa Garriga | | 228-990-4168

Activists To Rally at Lockheed Martin Office in San Francisco, Urging an End to Weapon Production for Israeli Military

San Francisco, CA – In solidarity with the International Shut It Down for Palestine Day of Action on December 8, activists will gather at the Lockheed Martin office located at 275 Battery Street, San Francisco, from noon to 1:30 pm. The demonstrators will demand an immediate cessation of Lockheed Martin’s production of weapons intended for the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza.

Amidst the call for the United States to broker a permanent ceasefire and redirect its resources, protesters are urging Lockheed Martin to cease the production of weapons contributing the Israeli military’s genocide in Gaza. The activists propose that the funds currently allocated for military purposes, approximately $14 billion, should instead be directed towards aiding Palestinians and supporting domestic initiatives such as housing, clean energy, health care, and education.

The planned action will encompass a picket line, a teach-in on “How is the genocide in Gaza supported by Lockheed Martin?”, street theater, sidewalk chalking and symbolic bloody red handprints, and the delivery of a Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal Subpoena and contempt citation to Lockheed Martin.

Cynthia Papermaster, an organizer from CODEPINK, emphasized the importance of holding Lockheed Martin accountable. She stated, “Lockheed Martin is being tried for war crimes. We will deliver a subpoena and contempt citation to Lockheed from the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal. Lockheed is the largest U.S. military contractor or ‘merchant of death.’ Lockheed’s profits from war crimes are astronomical. They literally make a killing on killing.”

Papermaster continued, “Lockheed influences U.S. foreign policy to ensure continual conflicts to keep profits high. They are public enemy number one for a world that deserves to live in peace, cooperation, and true security.

For media inquiries, please contact: Melissa Garriga at or Cynthia Papermaster at or 510-365-1500.

Human Rights Monitor Says 90% Killed by Israel in Gaza Were Civilians

Injured Palestinian child

Injured Palestinian children wait to receive medical treatment at Nasser Hospital after an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, Gaza on December 5, 2023. 

(Photo: Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Israeli military has admitted to a 66% civilian death rate, which it has called “tremendously positive.”


Dec 06, 2023 (

Israel’s public admission that it has killed two civilians in the Gaza Strip for every Hamas militant—a roughly 66% noncombatant death rate—is a major understatement, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

Based on preliminary statistics, the Geneva-based nonprofit estimated that at least 90% of the people killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza thus far have been civilians, a rate that exceeds those of the U.S. wars on Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Euro-Med Monitor found that when including those believed to be missing under the rubble of Gaza’s decimated infrastructure, Israeli forces have killed 21,022 people in the besieged Palestinian territory since October 7, an estimated 19,660 of whom were civilians. The nonprofit said that 60% of the civilians killed were women and children.

The group said its figures “clearly refute” Israel’s claim of a two-to-one ratio of civilians to militants killed, which an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson hailed as “tremendously positive” in a CNNinterview earlier this week. Israeli forces believe they have killed around 5,000 Hamas fighters since October 7.

“If you compare that ratio to any other conflict in urban terrain between a military and a terrorist organization using civilians as their human shields, and embedded in the civilian population, you will find that that ratio is tremendous, tremendously positive, and perhaps unique in the world,” said the IDF’s Jonathan Conricus.

But an analysis released last month by the watchdog Action on Armed Violence found that Israel’s latest assault on Gaza—carried out with the help of artificial intelligence, according to recent reports—has been far deadlier for civilians than even its previous attacks on the strip.

The group estimated that each of Israel’s casualty-causing strikes on Gaza since October 7 have killed an average of 10.1 civilians.

“This significantly surpasses previous Gaza operations which, at its historic recent worst in Operation Protective Edge, was just 2.5 civilian fatalities per casualty-causing strike,” the watchdog said. “As such, the current operation appears to be four times more lethal, based on per injurious strike data, than previous Israeli operations. It also exceeds the global average of 7.4.”

Citing military analysts, the Financial Timesreported Tuesday that “the destruction of northern Gaza in less than seven weeks has approached that caused by the yearslong carpet-bombing of German cities during the Second World War.”

“Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne—some of the world’s heaviest-ever bombings are remembered by their place names,” U.S. military historian Robert Pape told the newspaper. “Gaza will also go down as a place name denoting one of history’s heaviest conventional bombing campaigns.”

Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said Tuesday that the “pulverizing of Gaza now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian population in our time and age.”

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

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$6 billion federal infusion for high-speed rail in California. Here’s what it will pay for

By Ricardo Cano Dec 5, 2023 (

A conceptual rendering of the California high-speed rail train. The state has received $6 billion in federal funds for the rail projects.Image courtesy of the California High-Speed Rail Authority

California’s high-speed rail project is getting a $3 billion windfall from the federal government that will go toward finishing construction of the bullet train’s 119-mile Central Valley line from Bakersfield to Merced.

Another $3 billion federal grant was also awarded to Brightline West, the private high-speed railroad that will link Los Angeles and Las Vegas via bullet trains running at speeds of up to 186 mph. The $12 billion rail project, which launched in 2019, is on track to open in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The federal grants, announced Thursday by House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, come from the Biden administration’s 2022 infrastructure law that includes $108 billion for transit capital projects, including high-speed rail. The unprecedented tranche of federal funds marks a significant milestone for California’s high-speed rail ambitions.

The billions in federal money coming to the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority will pay for building the rail system’s station in Fresno as well as a second track from Fresno to Madera. The money will also go toward the procurement of six electric trains.

“With this new $3.07 billion in federal funding, we take an important leap closer to making high-speed rail a reality in California,” Pelosi said in a statement. “An electrified high-speed rail network will dramatically improve the quality of life in the Central Valley and up and down California. These bullet trains will make travel quicker and easier, bring housing closer, (and) create new jobs and economic opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.”

The state’s high-speed rail project, which faces uncertainty over how it will pay for its planned extensions to San Francisco and Los Angeles, has benefited greatly from the infrastructure law. In September, the High-Speed Rail Authority was awarded a $202 million grant for the rail system’s construction in Kern County.

Initially planned for a 2020 launch, the high-speed rail’s Central Valley segment from Bakersfield to Merced is scheduled to open between 2030 and 2033, with five stations.

Reach Ricardo Cano:; Twitter: @ByRicardoCano

Dec 5, 2023

By Ricardo Cano

Ricardo Cano covers transportation for The San Francisco Chronicle. Before joining The Chronicle in 2021, he covered K-12 education at CalMatters based in Sacramento and at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix as the newspaper’s education reporter. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fresno State.

He can be reached at

Does Scott Wiener understand the basics of the housing market?

Based in his recent comments, apparently not.


DECEMBER 5, 2023 (

Does Scott Wiener, author of some of the most sweeping housing legislation in California history, chair of the State Senate Housing Committee, and one of the “state legislative leaders on housing and affordability” so designated by the White House, understand how the housing market works?

Based on his remarks at a recent public forum in Southern California, the answer is No.

Senator Wiener isn’t listing to his realtor pals—or maybe he is. Wikimedia Images photo.

Wiener’s comments were reported by Tim Campbell in an article posted by CityWatchLA. On October 27, Campbell, a retired public service auditor, and Wiener appeared on a panel hosted by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association’s 2023 Business Forecast event. The topic was “Housing and Homelessness.” Here’s what Campbell wrote:

Senator Wiener said dividing single family lots into multiple units would not increase the cost of housing.  As he explained, if a single family lot is worth $1 million, it may sell for $2 million to a multifamily developer, but that cost would be divided among four or six units. Therefore, the cost of any given unit would be lower than a single home. 

As a realtor acquaintance of mine explained, that is failed logic. Real estate is market-based, and the cost of the land is just one factor.  If those six units are located in a high-demand area, they will indeed sell for $1 million or more each. It is little wonder Senator Wiener is the darling of corporate developer interests in Sacramento.

Wiener’s remarks were so mind-boggling that I was afraid that unless the event had been taped, he would deny that he made them. Campbell kindly sent me a link to the video.

These are the senator’s exact words:

I’m just going to make up some numbers here. Let’s say you have a parcel of land that’s zoned for single-family, and that land is worth one million dollars. And we’ve seen in various parts of the Bay Area, like a small parcel of land with a dilapidated hut on it that’s selling for like millions of dollars…. 

Let’s say we upzone it so you can put six units on there, and let’s say that parcel is now going to sell for $2 million—double the price of it. One million dollars for one home. Two million dollars for six homes. Which is more affordable?

So yes, that property-owner can now reap that extra million dollars, but in the big picture, when you allocate it per unit on that land, it is less expensive. Yes, in the short run, you’re giving someone a financial benefit. There’s no doubt about it. In the long run, you’re creating more zoned housing zoned capacity, so that we can build more homes.

This is the Yimby line: build more housing, and prices will fall. Applied to a high-demand market such as the Bay Area, it flies in the face of reality. Upzoning—allowing more units to be built on a lot—increases the value of the parcel and thus the profit that can be squeezed out of it. The prices of the added houses that are built on that parcel will reflect that increased profitability.

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Consider the recent history of 1310 Haskell Street in Berkeley. The Yimbys love to cite 1310 Haskell so they can mock the neighbor who brought a zucchini to a public hearing and complained that the proposed project would block his garden. They don’t talk about how upzoning affected real estate values on the site. As I wrote in 2018:

In 2015 contractor Cristian Szilagy paid $650,000 for a decrepit bungalow at that address. He wanted to replace it with three new housing units. The Planning Commission said okay, but after neighbors objected to parking, congestion, and shadowing, the council reversed the decision.

Recent California laws make it very difficult for a city to reject a housing project that meets the municipality’s objective standards—which the proposed project did. Led by Sonja Trauss, the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Foundation (SFBARF) sued Berkeley twice and in 2017 won the case. Szilagy tore down the old house and built three units in its place, each of which sold for $1.2 million or $1.3 million.

Wiener’s reasoning can’t make sense of 1310 Haskell. 

Given his power, reputation, and political ambition—when Pelosi retires, he’ll run for her seat—his apparent failure to grasp real estate basics is alarming.

These S.F. office buildings are the top candidates to convert to housing

By J.K. Dineen Dec 6, 2023 (

The building at 601 Market St. in San Francisco is considered a top target for an office-to-housing conversion, according to Moody’s.Stephen Lam/The Chronicle

City planning officials have approved San Francisco’s first post-pandemic office-to-residential conversion, and a new report from Moody’s Analytics suggests that 13% of the city’s smaller historic office buildings could be good candidates for housing.

Planning staff recently approved a site permit for a 45-unit redevelopment of 988 Market St., the historic office building next to the Warfield Theater. On Thursday, the developer will be before a Board of Supervisors committee for approval of Mills Act tax abatement, intended to help property owners finance often-expensive renovations of historic buildings.

The property owner, Group I, didn’t have to seek a conditional use authorization or variance thanks to the recently passed “commercial to residential adaptive reuse and downtown economic revitalization” ordinance approved in June. That legislation, sponsored by Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Aaron Peskin, also exempted conversions from several fees and taxes.

In addition, Breed is planning on going to the voters in March of next year with a ballot measure that would waive the city’s transfer tax on buildings that have been converted from office to residential use.

Group I principal Mark Shkolnikov said that construction would start next year and take about nine months. The Board of Supervisors has to approve the tax credits by the end of the year, or Group I would have to wait another year before starting construction. 

An exterior view of 604 Mission St. in San Francisco, one of the several buildings considered fine candidates for office-to-housing conversions, according to Moody’s.Stephen Lam/The Chronicle

“We are down to the wire, but I think we have a good game plan,” he said. 

The Moody’s report includes a “top 10” list of buildings that are most suitable for conversion. The list includes three buildings on the south side of Market Street — 611 Mission, 602-606 Mission, and 601 Market — as well as seven buildings in and around the traditional Financial District and Jackson Square. The seven: 211 Sutter St., 391 Sutter St., 222 Front St., 535 Pacific St., 545 Sansome St., 250 Montgomery St. and 133 Kearny St.

Calls to brokers representing the owners of the buildings were not returned before publication, so it’s unclear if the landlords would be interested in converting to residential.

In analyzing downtown buildings, Moody’s looked for properties near transportation and amenities with high vacancy and small enough floor plates to allow for natural light. It focused on downtown neighborhoods and buildings with a high vacancy or looming lease expirations unlikely to be renewed.

The building at 133 Kearny St. is seen in San Francisco. Moody’s has included it on a list of the city’s top candidates for office-to-housing conversions.Stephen Lam/The Chronicle

Moody’s Analytics also compared San Francisco opportunities to permit data from New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C., looking at 77 conversion projects that occurred over the past 20 years. The analysis showed that the average vintage of conversion properties tended to be older — the average year built was 1932. The study showed that the buildings were 24% smaller than the average comparable structures. 

The report also concentrated on “class B and C” properties, the value of which have plummeted as post-pandemic work-from-home has sapped downtown San Francisco of its lifeblood. With 30% vacancy and a slew of buildings facing foreclosure, the value of some downtown buildings have been cut in half, with several Financial District structures selling for less than $200 a square foot.

Eight building owners responded to a recent solicitation by the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development aimed at identifying landlords interested in converting their properties to apartments or condos. If all eight properties were to be converted, it would create around 1,100 units. 

The combination of the sinking values, streamlined approvals and tax breaks make some conversions viable, according to Shkolnikov, although it’s hard to generalize with historic buildings. 

The building at 211 Sutter St. in San Francisco is one that Moody’s believes would be a good candidate to become housing.Stephen Lam/The Chronicle

“If these buildings trade for sub-$200 (a square foot) or sub-$150, we do think there is a path to profitability across the city,” Shkolnikov said. “But these old buildings are so idiosyncratic.”

Planning Director Rich Hillis said there is another office building owner on Market Street working on acquiring a building for a conversion project, but that the deal has not closed. He suggested the city might have to sweeten the pot with more incentives if it wants to see a critical mass of projects. 

“Generally, where cities have been successful in larger number of conversions, they have provided financial incentives to assist with feasibility,” he said.

In the case of 988 Market St., Group I has an advantage because the company has owned the building for more than a decade. 

“We work in that building,” Shkolnikov said. “We know it inside and out.”

Reach J.K. Dineen:

Dec 6, 2023

By J.K. Dineen

J.K. Dineen covers housing and real estate development. He joined The Chronicle in 2014 covering San Francisco land use politics for the City Hall team. He has since expanded his focus to explore housing and development issues throughout Northern California. He is the author of two books: “Here Tomorrow” (Heyday, 2013) and “High Spirits” (Heyday, 2015).

He can be reached at

‘Apocalyptic’ Horror in Gaza Called ‘Total Failure of Our Shared Humanity’

Injured Palestinian children

Injured Palestinian children wait to receive medical treatment at Nasser Hospital after an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, Gaza on December 5, 2023. 

(Photo: Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“How is it that these atrocities are beamed across the world for all to witness, and yet so little is done to stop them?”


Dec 06, 2023 (

Humanitarian groups and United Nations officials expressed horror Wednesday at the disaster unfolding in Gaza as Israeli forces stormed the largest city in the southern part of the strip, fueling concerns of a repeat of the appalling destruction that Israel inflicted in the north.

Volker Türk, the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights, said at a press conference that the “catastrophic situation” in Gaza was “entirely foreseeable and preventable.” He noted that his colleagues on the ground in the besieged strip “have described the situation as apocalyptic.”

“Military operations, including bombardment, by Israeli forces continue in north, middle, and south Gaza, affecting people who have already been displaced multiple times—forced to flee—in search of safety,” said Türk. “But no place is safe.”

Many had fled to Khan Younis from the north in search of safety, only to be told to evacuate again weeks later as the Israeli military closed in.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said earlier this week that its ground offensive now encompasses the entirety of the Gaza Strip, leaving the nearly 2 million people who have been displaced with no viable options to avoid near-constant Israeli bombing, shelling, and firefights that have prevented the delivery of critical aid, including medicine and food.

Virtually the entire population of Gaza is at imminent risk of starvation, the World Food Program has warned.

“The hunger war has started,” one displaced person toldThe Associated Press, saying that Gazans are now fighting over dwindling food supplies. “This is the worst of all wars.”

“Each day we see more dead children and new depths of suffering for the innocent people enduring this hell.”

Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), said that tens of thousands of people are living on the streets of southern Gaza in makeshift and overcrowded shelters, heightening the risk of infectious disease. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East reported an outbreak of Hepatitis A at one of its facilities last week.

Hospitals are also overwhelmed and out of basic supplies, forcing doctors to operate on wounded patients without anesthesia and proper sanitation.

“Many of my own NRC staff members now live on the streets. One of them does so with her two-month-old baby,” said Egeland. “Our colleagues in Gaza ask themselves a simple question: How is it that these atrocities are beamed across the world for all to witness, and yet so little is done to stop them?”

Egeland called Israel’s “pulverizing of Gaza” one of “the worst assaults on any civilian population in our time and age.”

“Each day we see more dead children and new depths of suffering for the innocent people enduring this hell,” he added, calling for an immediate cease-fire. “The situation in Gaza is a total failure of our shared humanity. The killing must stop.”

Israel—whose assault has been backed politically and militarily by the U.S. and other Western nations—claims its intensifying attack on Khan Younis and other areas of southern Gaza is aimed at eliminating Hamas strongholds, an assertion it has used throughout the two-month war to justify the mass slaughter of civilians and the decimation of large swaths of the Palestinian territory.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, a Geneva-based nonprofit, estimated Tuesday that at least 90% of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since October 7 have been civilians, contradicting Israel’s claim that two Gaza civilians have been killed for every Hamas combatant.

Including the number of people missing under rubble and presumed dead, the human rights group said at least 21,022 people have been killed by the Israeli military since early October, when the assault on Gaza began in the wake of a deadly Hamas-led attack. The U.N. has estimated that nearly 70% of those killed have been women and children.

“The only way for civilians to be protected and for humanitarian assistance to be provided at the necessary scale required is for the conflict to end,” Bob Kitchen, vice president for emergencies at the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “The need for a cease-fire becomes more urgent as each hour passes, with more than two million Palestinians facing humanitarian catastrophe.”

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Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

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Former ‘Monster in the Mission,’ Now to be 100% Affordable Housing, Awarded to Two Local Nonprofits


A monster step forward for what was once a largely derided luxury condo development at 16th and Mission streets, as the former “Monster in the Mission” will be 100% affordable housing developed by two respected affordable housing nonprofits.

If you remember when 16th and Mission Street BART plaza had a Walgreens and a Burger King, you may remember an enormous 2017-era controversy to turn those vacant properties into an upscale condo project that angry Mission District opponents dubbed the “Monster in the Mission.” But opponents managed to create enough public hostility toward the project that the developer sold the property to another developer, who then sold it to the city to satisfy the affordable housing requirement on a different development. And the city reiterated their intentions in August to make it a 100% affordable housing project.  

That proposed affordable housing project just cleared a major milestone. The Chronicle reports that the city has awarded the project to two well-known affordable housing nonprofits, Mission Housing and the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA). Those two nonprofits will build and manage the property at 1979 Mission Street, a 57,000-square-foot parcel that will become 350 units for low-income and formerly homeless families.

“We are now one step closer to making the hard-fought Marvel in the Mission project at 16th and Mission Street a reality,” the district’s supervisor Hillary Ronen said in a statement to the Chronicle.

Mission Local explains that it will be low-income housing, set aside for low-income families or those formerly homeless. That site also says the project is likely to be split into two separate buildings.

MEDA CEO Luis Granados said in a statement that “It’s because of the grit and tenacity of our Mission community who organized and fought for this site’s development that hundreds of people will one day be able to permanently call San Francisco their home as it is transformed into a 100% affordable housing site.”

Of course, the project has not even broken ground yet, and probably won’t for a couple years. In the meantime, there have been plans to turn the parcel into a temporary tiny homes site. That plan faced significant opposition because parents thought it would bring too much sketchiness to the adjacent Marshall Elementary School, but last we heard, Ronen said in October that the tiny homes plan was back on with assurances of additional security.

But again, the tiny homes will just be an interim use. Mission Local reports that the now so-called “Marvel in the Mission” could break ground as early as 2026, and be ready for residential move-ins by 2028.

Related: San Francisco Officially Acquires Real Estate to Make ‘Monster In the Mission’ Project 100% Affordable [SFist]

Muslim leaders in swing states pledge to ‘abandon’ Biden over his refusal to call for ceasefire

Warnings that president stance on the war risks losing support of community in states critical to his chances for re-election

Edward HelmoreSun 3 Dec 2023 10.57 EST (

  • Attendees wave flags and fly signs during a rally in support of Palestine in Dearborn, Michigan, on 10 October. Photograph: Matthew Hatcher/AP

Muslim community leaders gathered on Saturday in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the US, to protest against Joe Biden’s refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, reiterating that the president’s stance could affect his support in crucial swing states next year.

Jaylani Hussein, director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Biden’s unwillingness to call for a ceasefire had damaged his relationship with the American-Muslim community beyond repair. (Cair-Minnesota is not involved in his work on the Abandon Biden effort, which the organization said Hussein is doing in his personal capacity.)

“We are not powerless as American Muslims. We are powerful. We don’t only have the money, but we have the actual votes. And we will use that vote to save this nation from itself,” Hussein said. “Families and children are being wiped out with our tax dollars,” he added. “What we are witnessing today is the tragedy upon tragedy.”

After Israel resumed its bombing offensive on the territory after a five-day pause, the health ministry said 15,200 Palestinians, roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, have been killed thus far. Israel’s air and ground strikes began after Hamas militants killed 1,200 Israelis and took around 240 hostage in a cross-border attack on 7 October.

From behind a lectern that read “Abandon Biden, ceasefire now”, leaders from Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania issued similar warnings that the president could not afford to lose the support of the Arab-American community in states critical to his chances for re-election.

A recent poll showed Biden’s support among Arab Americans has plunged from a comfortable majority in 2020 to 17%.

Dearborn is home to the highest concentration of Arab Americans in a state that has the highest number, 211,405 , and the highest percentage of Arab Americans, at 2.1%. Biden won Michigan in 2020 by 2.8% of the vote. Arab Americans account for 5% of the vote, according to the Arab American Institute.

In Wisconsin, where there are 25,000 Muslim voters, Biden won by about 20,000 votes, Tarek Amin, a doctor representing the state’s Muslim community, said.

In Arizona, where Biden won by about 10,500 votes, there are more than 25,000 Muslim voters according to the US Immigration Policy Center at the University of California San Diego, said Phoenix pharmacist Hazim Nasaredden.

About 3.45 million Americans identify as Muslim, or 1.1% of the country’s population, and the demographic tends to lean Democratic, according to Pew Research Center. Like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are also home to significant Arab-American populations and critical to Biden’s re-election mathematics.

The #AbandonBiden campaign began in Minnesota in October and has since spread to at least five other states represented at the conference.

“The anger in our community is beyond belief,” Hussein, who is Muslim, told the Associated Press. “One of the things that made us even more angry is the fact that most of us actually voted for President Biden. I even had one incident where a religious leader asked me: ‘How do I get my 2020 ballot so I can destroy it?’”

While the Biden administration has resisted pressure to call for a permanent halt in fighting, and continues significant weapons transfers to Israel, senior officials are going further in expressing their discomfort with the high level of civilian casualties.

The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, warned on Saturday that Israel risks “strategic defeat” unless it protects Palestinian civilians in Gaza. “In this kind of a fight, the center of gravity is the civilian population. And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat,” Austin said in a speech to the Reagan National Defense Forum in California.

That received pushback from the Republican senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday. “He’s so naive,” the South Carolina Republican said on CNN’s State of the Union.

“Strategic defeat would be inflaming the Palestinians? They’re already inflamed,” Graham added. “They’re taught from the time they’re born to hate the Jews and to kill them. They’re taught math: if you have 10 Jews and kill six, how many would you have left?”

The Wall Street Journal reported that the US has provided Israel with 100 BLU-109, 2,000-pound bunker busters included in a transfer package of about 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells since 7 October.

On Saturday, Vice-President Kamala Harris said that while the US supports Israel’s “legitimate military objectives” in Gaza, the suffering of the civilian population inside the enclave has been too high.

“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering, and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating,” Harris said at a press conference in Dubai. “It is truly heartbreaking.”

At a meeting with the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Harris also said that Washington will not allow for the forced relocation of Palestinians or any redrawing of the current border of the Gaza Strip.

“Under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the besiegement of Gaza, or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza,” Harris said, according to a read-out of the meeting.

In a following statement, on Sunday, Harris said five principles guide the administration’s approach for post-conflict Gaza – “no forcible displacement, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, no reduction in territory, and no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism”.

“We want to see a unified Gaza and West Bank under the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian voices and aspirations must be at the center of this work,” she said.

Against a backdrop of pro-Palestinian protest in the US, Muslim leaders gathered in Dearborn said Biden or the likely Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, were not their only choices next year, and they could choose to sit out the election.

“We don’t have two options. We have many options. And we’re going to exercise that,” Cair’s Hussein said.