Sunday, August 25, 2019

The persecution of Julian Assange

Greg Bean has an important essay about the persecution of Julian Assange.  It's called "Media dead silent as Wikileaks insider explodes the myths around Julian Assange" and this is from the essay:


Five hundred and eighty years ago, Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press to the world. That single act created a free press which gave birth to the concept of freedom of speech. The two are inextricably linked; printing is a form of speech. 
Gutenberg’s invention started the Printing Revolution, a milestone of the 2ndmillennium that initiated the modern period of human history including the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution, and began the knowledge-based economy that spread learning to the masses.
Such mass communication permanently altered the structure of society. Removing control of information from the hands of the powerful and delivering it into the hands of the disempowered. 
The broad circulation of information, including revolutionary ideas, in many languages, undermined Latin’s dominant status and the authority previously held by those trained in Latin, it transcended borders, threatened the power of political and religious authorities, increased literacy breaking the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning, and bolstered the emerging middle class. It increased cultural self-awareness and cultural cohesion and undermined the authority of distant rulers and high priests.
His major work, the Gutenberg Bible was the first printed version of the Bible.

A global game-changer

Until 1439, Bibles were hand-scribed by rooms full of monks. There were virtually no mass produced books. Only an organisation able to fund these scribe factories could generate information that could be shared with others, in Latin. The Catholic Church was not impressed that Gutenberg made these scribe factories redundant.
But that’s just one enemy Gutenberg created. As well as destroying religious control he destroyed political control, which was largely aligned with the Church across Europe.
And then he destroyed the monopoly of the literate elite, creating educated populations where previously, powerful nobles had unchallenged control. Then, by supporting the local languages, all of which could be printed, he destroyed the dominance of Latin as the only language worth knowing.
Gutenberg was a game changer. He undermined the control of monarchs and the ruling class, the church, the political establishment, the Latin speaking elite, the educated upper-class, and probably also the authority and reliance on masters in every field of human endeavour as their previously spoken instructions, to a limited set of apprentices, could now be shared to the world in print.
Gutenberg destroyed the masters in virtually every realm by providing the means to expose knowledge to everyone. The genie was out of the bottle.
Imagine the masters’ anger.
Though anger could not save them from what Gutenberg had done.

From paper revolution to digital revolution

Today in 2019, 580 years since Gutenberg unleashed his printing press, the powerful are still trying to put the free press and freedom of speech genie back in the bottle.
Their present strategy is to make their knowledge, the element that is the key to retaining authority, as it was in Gutenberg’s day, secret, even Top Secret, and criminalising any action that reveals these secrets to anyone outside their circle of authority.
One of the ways this has been achieved is by enlisting the very core of what should be the free press, granting them almost monopoly rights to information dissemination and transmission and in exchange attaining for themselves the guarantee that their secrets will not be revealed.

Julian Assange is being persecuted.  People can pretend all they want but the reality is that Julian is being persecuted.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Friday, August 23, 2019.  The US confirms that the Israeli government has bombed Iraq, Bernie Sanders presents a plan for workers, and much more.

The Israeli government has once again bombed Iraq.  Monday, they bombed Balad Air Base where the Iraqi militia (Popular Mobilization Forces -- Shi'ite forces linked to Iran) have stored weapons.  The Iraqi militias -- linked to Iran or not -- are part of the Iraqi government forces.  The previous prime minister, Hayder al-Abadi, oversaw that incorporation.   This was at least the fourth bombing the government of Israel has carried out on Iraq..


Israeli media first began reporting about this at the end of June.  Dropping back to the July 30th Iraq snapshot:



How is this not an act of war?


Israel has expanded its operations against Iranian targets to Iraq, where Air Force jets have struck twice in ten days, a report said Tuesday morning.
Israel commonly conducts strikes in Syrian territory, targeting Iranian missile shipments meant for Lebanese terror group Hezbollah to use against the Jewish state, but strikes in Iraq by Israel have not been reported since the 1981 bombing of a nuclear reactor.


That's from Michael Bachner's report for THE TIMES OF ISRAEL.

Repeating: How is this not an act of war? 

What if it was the US that was bombed?

Let's use Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an example because on his visit to the US he had his goons attack peaceful protesters -- and by the way, Barack Obama was president and refused to condemn that publicly.  But Recep decides peaceful protesters are terrorists so he decides to send Turkish war planes over Baltimore to bomb the city.

We would rightly see that as an act of war.

How is this any different?



It's not any different.  And now Lolita Baldor and Josef Federman (ASSOCIATED PRESS) report, "Israel was responsible for the bombing of an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq l[a]st month, U.S. officials have confirmed, an attack that would mark a significant escalation in Israel's years-long campaign against Iranian military entrenchment across the region."  AL JAZEERA adds:


Earlier this week, the deputy head of the Iraqi Shia militias, known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, openly accused Israeli drones of carrying out the attacks, but ultimately blamed Washington and threatened strong retaliation for any future attack.
Such attacks are potentially destabilising for Iraq and its fragile government, which has struggled to remain neutral amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran.
Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from Baghdad during the latest round of air raids, said Iranian-backed armed groups have been operating in Iraq with the full support of the government since 2014, when they joined the fight against ISIL.

"A new law that came into effect on July 31 requires all paramilitary groups to report to the Iraqi security forces, or put down their weapons," Ghoneim reported.



Alissa J. Rubin and Ronnie Bergen (NEW YORK TIMES) explain:



The Israeli move also holds potential hazards for the United States, whose troops remain in Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State. Because the United States is a close Israeli ally, Iraqis are quick to blame it for allowing the Israelis to carry out attacks in Iraq.
A senior American official said that Israel was pushing the limits with the strikes in Iraq. Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss delicate diplomatic matters, the official said the airstrikes could get the United States military removed from Iraq.


As the US has confirmed what was already out there, many are now issuing statements -- including former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.



Senior US officials told that Israel has carried out “several strikes in recent days”,the most recent of which took place on Monday,north of Baghdad.
Former Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki is warned of a"strong response" if it is proven that Israel was behind recent airstrikes.



Former Iraq PM warns of 'strong response' if Israel proven responsible for strikes: Nouri al-Maliki's comments come hours after U.S. officials confirm to NYT that Israel was responsible for bombing of Iranian weapons depot in Iraq last month Haaretz




Nouri was prime minister from 2006 to 2010.  AP notes:


Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is warning of a “strong response” if it is proven that Israel was behind recent airstrikes in Iraq.


In statements issued by his office on Friday, he also said that if Israel continues to target Iraq, the country “will transform into a battle arena that drags in multiple countries, including Iran.”



Nuri al-Maliki: with the help of Iran, will strongly respond if Israel is behind attacks on Hashd al-Shaabi HQs.







These attacks that the Israeli government has carried out are acts of war.  The militias -- linked to Iran or not -- are part of the Iraqi forces.  Attacking them is attacking Iraq.  These are acts of war and the Israeli government should be called out for their actions.
You can be sure that Nouri and others will begin to call out the current prime minister for the attacks and his lack of response to them.  Adil Abdul-Mahdi is already facing criticism for his inability to improve the lives of the Iraqi people or to end corruption -- he promised to end corruption.  RUDAW reports:

 Iraqi parliament’s Sayirun alliance, headed by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has upped its criticism of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi for what it says is his failure to live up to the promises of improved services to Iraqis that it made upon appointment.

Frequent powercuts and an unclean, infrequent water supply have been a source of perennial discontent among Iraqis nationwide. Abdul-Mahdi has signed a series of redevelopment projects with multinational companies to repair the country’s electricity grid and sanitation system that have been ailing for decades, but Sayirun members say efforts have been to little avail.

“After a year of Abdul-Mahdi being in office, now is the time to look again at the government manifesto and work on it diligently,” Abbas Ileiwi, member of the Sayirun alliance, which is the Sadr-dominated bloc in Iraqi parliament, told Rudaw on Sunday.

Abdul-Mahdi’s administration has come up short in meeting the needs of the Iraqi people “who lack the simplest of the essential services,” added Ileiwi.
We'll note this Tweet.

New on MoA:
U.S. Says Israel Bombed Iraq



Golly gee, we were covering this story on July 30th.  What was MOON OF ALABAMA doing?
Hmm.
Oh, that's right.  Showing up two days later to insist that "No, Israel Did Not Attack Iranian Targets in Iraq."
Well welcome to the party, MOON OF ALABAMA.  Foods all gone but the bar's still open so have a drink or two while you try to catch up to reality.  
In the US, the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues.  Barry Eidlin (JACOBIN) notes:

Bernie Sanders unveiled his Workplace Democracy Plan (WDP) yesterday. The plan is based in a deep and sophisticated understanding of the fundamental problems facing workers today; it is the most serious, comprehensive, and equitable plan for promoting workers’ rights ever proposed by a major US presidential candidate.
Just as he did with Medicare for All, Sanders’s WDP will now set the terms of the debate around workers’ rights in the Democratic presidential primary. Whether they support or oppose the WDP, all the other candidates will have to respond to it.
The plan is a comprehensive effort to reorient labor policy around the idea that these policies exist to actively promote workers’ rights, as opposed to setting up the state as an ostensibly “neutral” arbiter to balance labor and management’s competing interests. It recognizes and seeks to redress the inherent power imbalance between workers and their employers, an imbalance that derives from the simple fact that an individual worker’s need to stay employed is greater than an employer’s need to keep that worker employed.

That’s why the WDP removes barriers to workers’ ability to join together in unions by implementing a “majority sign-up” process, whereby workers unionize when a majority in a workplace says they want a union by signing authorization cards. It recognizes that the decision to unionize is one that workers should make among themselves — without outside interference from employers, as the current union recognition system allows for.
That’s also why it restricts employers’ ability to force workers to attend anti-union meetings, requires employers to disclose when they use anti-union consultants, and guarantees union organizers equal time in the workplace to talk with workers. Once workers have unionized, it also requires employers to negotiate a first contract or face binding arbitration. Additionally, it extends union rights to all public sector workers, and finally removes the arbitrary and racist exclusion of agricultural and domestic workers from labor law protections.
The WDP recognizes that workers’ rights can only be exercised and enforced collectively. Too often, employers and courts have used a warped interpretation of individual rights to undermine workers’ collective rights. Nowhere is this more apparent than with “right-to-work” laws, which use the pretext of protecting individual workers’ right not to join a union to erode union solidarity. They do so by allowing individuals in unionized workplaces to avoid paying the costs associated with negotiating and enforcing the contracts from which they benefit. The WDP would close that loophole by banning right-to-work laws.

The WDP also promotes workers’ ability to exercise their collective rights by enforcing and expanding the right to strike. Sanders recognizes that this is “a worker’s line of defense.” It’s “the means that you have to tell your employer, ‘Hey, we’re serious.’” To that end, it bans employers from using permanent replacements (“scabs”) when workers go on strike, expands the right to strike to public-sector workers, and allows for “secondary boycotts,” where workers pressure their employer by taking action against economically linked companies.

Lastly, billionaire conservative activist David Koch has died.  It's said that somewhere in hell he's trying to buy his way into heaven but is being stymied by heaven's refusal to be bought -- angels, unlike politicians, apparently cannot be bought.


The following sites updated:











  • Saturday, August 24, 2019

    Go away Al

    Al Franken was never the liberal wet dream so many made him out to be.

    He was for the Iraq War -- he took part in meetings (he was not yet in the Senate) with various Democrat officials and politicians where he argued that they could not vote against the Iraq War.

    After the war started, he became a radio talker on Air America Radio and there he argued repeatedly for the continuation of war.

    He was a pig.

    Once in the Senate, he never passed up a chance, in a hearing, to make jokes so that he could get attention.

    So the news that he might be coming back into public life?  Disgusting.

    He should go away and take the disgraceful Jane Meyer with him.  She has turned into an early 90s David Brock as she attacks women who were abused to try to justify Al (the way Brock attacked Anita Hill and others in his attempt to get Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court).

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


    Thursday, August 22, 2019.  Another Democratic hopeful drops out, Israel's bombings of Iraq continue to outrage and more.

    The number of people seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination is one person smaller.



    I know you agree that our mission to defeat climate change must continue to be central to our national discussion -- and must be the top priority for our next president. But I’ve concluded that my role in that effort will not be as a candidate to be our next president.
    />



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  • As disappointing as this is, it is only right to recognize what we have accomplished and how far we have come together.







  • The tremendous grassroots outpouring of 130,000 individual donors, from every state in the nation, is a testament to the movement that we’ve built together. We  hit this high bar set by the DNC. Together, we changed and shaped the entire national dialogue around climate change.







  • Many of the campaigns started with little attention to climate, but since our campaign began, we’ve seen almost every serious candidate put out a climate plan; we’ve seen climate come up in both debates; and we now have two networks hosting nationally-televised climate forums.







  • Most importantly, we have introduced a detailed and comprehensive policy blueprint for bold climate action and transformation to a clean energy economy. We will fight to ensure this gold standard of climate action is adopted and executed by our party and our next president.







  • As we turn to the future, I will have more to say about what comes next for me in the days ahead. I will continue to lead, to demand bold action, and to do everything in my power to ensure the fight to defeat climate change stays at the top of the national agenda.







  • But for now, I want to once again thank everyone who helped in this effort. We have so much to be proud of. Make no mistake, we also have a lot more work to do.





    So early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and organize. Together, we will continue the fight to defeat the climate crisis.








    For those keeping track, Jay Inslee voted against the Iraq War when he was in the US Congress.  Under current DNC guidelines, he's apparently ineligible for the presidential ticket.  2004's ticket was John Kerry and John Edwards -- both of whom voted for the Iraq War.  2008 and 2012 was Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- Joe voted for the Iraq War (Barack was not in the US Congress in 2002).  2016 saw Hillary garner the nomination and she voted for the Iraq War.

    Jay's position was of no interest to the media.  Last month''s debate saw him attempting to speak about Iraq in response to a question from Jake Tapper only to be ignored and cut off by Don Lemon.  Don didn't want to talk about an ongoing war and the suffering, he preferred to waste everyone's time on a hypothetical impeachment discussion -- no one who wins the nomination, should they become president, will have any power of impeaching Donald Trump.  Impeachment is a matter for the US Congress.

    Jay ran a campaign based on issues.  The media had no use for issues and they largely ignored him.

    He was an important voice.  Unlike Tulsi Gabbard, he tried to use his debate time to discuss war.  He was there to discuss issues, not provide cover to War Hawk Joe Biden.


    In other news, Liz Sly (WASHINGTON POST) reports:



    Iranian-backed militias in Iraq warned Wednesday that foreign aircraft flying over the country may be treated as “hostile” amid growing suspicions that Israel is responsible for mysterious explosions at militia bases.
    The warning came in a statement issued by Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the deputy commander of the powerful coalition of Shiite Muslim militias known as Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which includes paramilitary groups that owe allegiance to Iran. 
    The statement blamed Israeli drones for four big blasts at militia bases over the past month, all of them at warehouses storing ammunition and weapons, and accused the U.S. military of aiding the strikes by allowing Israel to use U.S. bases in Iraq.
    “We have informed the Joint Operations Command that we will regard any foreign aircraft flying over our headquarters without the knowledge of the Iraqi government as hostile, and will deal with it accordingly,” the statement said.
    Israel has apparently been bombing Iraq for some tie now.  Peter Beaumont (GUARDIAN) adds:

    The claim came after the findings of an Iraqi government inquiry into the huge blast at the facility of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) were leaked.
    A spokesman for the PMF said it had intelligence that showed the US had brought in four Israeli drones earlier this year to work as part of the US fleet in Iraq and target militia positions in the country.

    Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said the PMF would from now on use “all means at its disposal to deter and prevent such attacks on our positions”.


    Last week, Iraq made a move that surprised some.





    Ken Hanly (DIGITAL JOURNAL) reported, "The US-led coalition in Iraq has issued a statement indicating that they intend to comply with demands from the PM Adel AbdulMahdi respecting the use of Iraqi airspace for US warplanes."  Meghann Myers (MILITARY TIMES) explained:


     U.S. military officials in Iraq will now seek out Iraqi approval before launching any air operations, a move made a day after that nation’s prime minister announced a ban of unauthorized flights, including those involving coalition forces fighting ISIS.
    Top leaders with Operation Inherent Resolve, the joint task force leading anti-ISIS efforts in the country, have met with Iraqi defense officials to discuss the mandate to have every helicopter, unmanned aerial vehicle and fighter aircraft launch pre-approved, according to a Friday release from the Pentagon.

    “As guests within Iraq’s sovereign borders, CJTF-OIR complies with all Iraqi laws and direction from the Government of Iraq,” the release said. “The U.S.-led coalition immediately complied with all directions received from our Iraqi partners as they implemented the Prime Minister’s order.”

    KURDISTAN 24 added,"The orders came after rumors spread on the Iraqi social media networks with some activists claiming the explosion in the militia’s munitions warehouse was in the result of an air attack by an Israeli fighter jet. Multiple Iraqi officials made the same claim."  Israeli government sources (unnamed) have claimed to the Israeli press that the government was responsible for two bombings of Iraq awhile ago.  From the June 30th snapshot:



    How is this not an act of war?


    Israel has expanded its operations against Iranian targets to Iraq, where Air Force jets have struck twice in ten days, a report said Tuesday morning.
    Israel commonly conducts strikes in Syrian territory, targeting Iranian missile shipments meant for Lebanese terror group Hezbollah to use against the Jewish state, but strikes in Iraq by Israel have not been reported since the 1981 bombing of a nuclear reactor.


    That's from Michael Bachner's report for THE TIMES OF ISRAEL.

    Repeating: How is this not an act of war? 

    What if it was the US that was bombed?

    Let's use Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an example because on his visit to the US he had his goons attack peaceful protesters -- and by the way, Barack Obama was president and refused to condemn that publicly.  But Recep decides peaceful protesters are terrorists so he decides to send Turkish war planes over Baltimore to bomb the city.

    We would rightly see that as an act of war.

    How is this any different?

    Tzvi Joffre and Anna Ahronheim (THE JERUSALEM POST) add:




    Israel used their F-35i stealth fighter jets to conduct attacks on Iranian targets to Iraq in the past month, hitting two Iraqi bases used by Iranian forces and proxies and storing Iranian ballistic missiles, the London-based Saudi daily Al Sharq Al Awsat reported on Tuesday.  
    The first attack happened on July 19 at a base in Amreli in the Saladin province of Iraq. Iraqi and Iranian sources blamed Israel at the time, and Al Sharq Al Awsat reported that "diplomatic sources" confirmed this to be true, specifying that the attack was carried out by an Israeli F-35.

    Al-Arabiya reported that Iranian-made ballistic missiles were transported to the base shortly before the attack via trucks used to transport refrigerated food. The identity of the aircraft which conducted the attack was unspecified at the time, and the US denied any involvement. Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah members were killed in the air strike, according to Al-Arabiya, however the Iranian-backed al-Hashd ash-Sha'abi (Popular Mobilization Forces - PMF) denied that any Iranians had been killed in the attack, according to Fars.



    Again, if Turkey did that to the US, we would rightly see it as an act of war.  The only way we wouldn't see it as such would be if we learned that whomever our sitting president at the time was, that the sitting president had given an okay for the operation.


    So that's really the first question to be asking right now.

    Did the Iraqi government give permission?

    We know the Parliament didn't.  Allowing Israel to drop bombs on Iraq would be a very unpopular position in Iraq.  Anyone known to have supported it would not only have trouble being re-elected, they might be targeted with violence.  More to the point, though, the body is too large to keep a secret so if the Parliament signed off on it, it would have been known before the attack took place.

    So did the leadership sign off on the attack?  That would be the prime minister -- who has the actual power -- and the president.  The presidential post is supposed to be a ceremonial one with no real powers to speak of.  But Barham Salih has gone out of his way to grab powers and the US press, mirroring the US State Dept's position, has gone out of their way to treat him like a leader of the country.  Adil Abdul-Mahdi is the prime minister.  He's the only one who should have had the power for the okay (if Parliament's approval was not sought, he's the only one who could have given permission).



    So the recent attack on the munitions warehouse is the third attack that the Israeli government is suspected of having carried out.  These attacks are likely the reason for the prime minister addressing the issue of Iraqi air space -- finally addressing.

    The notion that Israel is bombing Iraq has outraged the Iraqi people (as well as their neighbors).





    Meanwhile in news of hysterics . . .



    This is no longer funny. Danish troops fought alongside the US in Afghanistan and Iraq. 50 Danes died. The president dishonors the alliance and their sacrifice. On the same day he sought to appease Putin by supporting his return to the G8.







    Clutch the pearls, Tom, with your anus.  Nothing the president has in the Tweet you reposted is worth gasping over.  And you're the one who is "no longer funny" as you try to use the illegal Iraq War to prop up your stupid argument because you're too inept to argue policy.  This has nothing to do with the ongoing Iraq War.  This has nothing to do with X number of people killed -- or when!  You trot out Iraq to use as a prop, you try to silence a serious conversation by hiding behind that topic but otherwise you ignore the ongoing suffering in Iraq, ,the ongoing war.


    You're pathetic.  I don't expect much from Donald Trump -- I didn't vote for him.  But right now, I'm more appalled by you than by his Tweet.  You have serious issues and you actually are a menace to honest and free debate.



    The following sites updated: