Saturday, February 4, 2023

The smears and attacks on Gig Sohn

For two years, Gig Sohn's nomination to the FCC has been delayed.  And now there are attacks -- organized -- on her.  Michael Hiltzick  (Los Angeles Times) reports:



But in the last couple of weeks, the attack on Sohn, 61, who would be the first LGBTQ member of the FCC, has taken a grotesquely ugly turn. An obviously coordinated campaign fronted by such right-wing enterprises as Fox NewsBreitbart and the Daily Mail has painted Sohn as a supporter of sex trafficking and an opponent of anti-sex trafficking initiatives.


[. . .]

In their attacks, all published on Jan. 26 and 27, Fox, Breitbart and the Mail used almost identical headlines stating that Sohn "sits on [the] board" of EFF. All tried to link her with Danielle Blunt, a professional dominatrix who has been in the forefront of organized opposition to FOSTA/SESTA and support for the rights of sex workers, and who received an award from EFF in 2020 for her efforts to fight online censorship.

What's important here is that Sohn has never spoken about FOSTA/SESTA, and in any event, the FCC has absolutely nothing to do with the laws or their purpose. The commission doesn't regulate online advertising, and FOSTA/SESTA doesn't apply to telecommunications.

That exposes the effort to link Sohn to the targets of FOSTA/SESTA and paint her as an advocate of sex trafficking as nothing but a cynical political ploy, with an acrid undercurrent of homophobia.

What may be even more appalling is that, to date, Democrats haven't yet called out the perpetrators of this campaign.

"If they remain silent and complicit, this will become a go-to strategy to tank LGBTQ nominees to any public position," says Evan Greer, director of the digital rights organization Fight for the Future. "Democrats can't claim to support LGBTQ rights while failing to stand up to blatant bigotry targeting one of their own nominees."




This is disgusting and needs to be called out.  Immediately.  Shame on them.  Glenneth Greenwald Paltrow may go along with that because he lives to submit but I won't pretend that this is okay.  It's wrong and needs to be called out.

(By the way, I love it when C.I. calls Greenald "Glenneth.")

 

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

 

 

Friday, February 3, 2023.  Hours after a journalist has to flee Iraq for his own safety Joe Biden's chatting with the leader of Iraq about everything but the threat to the press, Marjorie Taylor Greene readies her Dewars profile by admitting she likes water sports, and much more.


At nine o'clock last night EST, the White House issued the following:



February 2, 2023


Readout of President Biden’s Call with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani of Iraq

President Joe Biden spoke today with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani of Iraq to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Iraq and consult on regional developments.  The President reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq and commended the Prime Minister’s efforts to strengthen Iraq’s sovereignty and independence.  The leaders discussed the Prime Minister’s economic agenda and plans to ensure that Iraq’s economy is delivering for the Iraqi people, policies the U.S. is prepared to fully endorse.  The President welcomed the upcoming visit by Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and an accompanying delegation next week to Washington to further discuss these programs.  The two leaders recommitted to ensuring that ISIS can never again threaten the Iraqi people or regional and international security.  The President took the opportunity of His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan’s visit to the White House to invite him to join the call.  King Abdullah stressed Jordan’s support for Iraq, including through joint strategic infrastructure projects.  The President and Prime Minister agreed to stay in close collaboration over the coming months.

###


First off, prior to the Gulf Cup, there was talk of the prime minister himself taking part in the visit.  Apparently the comments about keeping US troops in Iraq, made by the prime minister to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, caused a little more conflict in Iraq than anyone cares to admit and now he can't leave the country.  He'd already been criticized by Shi'ite groups close to him (meaning part of the militias linked to Iran) for allowing the US to dictate and vet who would be going on the trip -- some of his closer and more trusted allies do not meet US security standards.


But what's more interesting probably is US President Joe Biden's lousy record.  


So he spoke to him yesterday, did he?

Did they discuss the latest attack on the press inside Iraq?

Germany's DEUTSCHE WELLE produces the show JAAFAR TALK.  They're still producing it, just not right now in Iraq.  DW explains:


One of the most successful talk shows in the Arab world, the weekly DW program JaafarTalk tackles topics deemed taboo in the region, including violations of human rights and the lack of equal opportunities for women. With 1.4 million followers, JaafarTalk is currently the most successful TikTok channel run by a German media outlet.

The show was intended to address youth unemployment, political participation and women's rights. The plan was to record the episode in Zawraa Park, Baghdad's highly secured Green Zone. Members of the Iraqi protest movement and government officials were among those scheduled to speak. Around 50 members of the audience were also invited.

Abdul Karim faced several threats in the run-up to the planned recording. An Iraqi media outlet, for example, published a video on Instagram accusing the DW presenter of trying to spread "abnormal and perverted" sexual behavior in Baghdad. Featuring clips from JaafarTalk's previous broadcasts that discussed homosexuality, the post called on Iraqi authorities to prevent the planned recording.

Abdul Karim reported that he and his team subsequently came under increasing pressure from high-ranking Iraqi officials. He said that Iraq's State Communications and Media Commission suddenly demanded a special filming permit for the planned recording despite having applied for and been granted the usual permits in advance.

Late Wednesday night, representatives of Iraq's Interior Ministry demanded to speak to Abdul Karim at his hotel, stating that he would not be allowed to continue working without a special permit and could face arrest if he did not comply. They added that the government could not guarantee his safety.

Deutsche Welle has lodged a protest with the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin against the treatment of its employees and the obstruction of journalistic work. "This massive coercion by official authorities of the Republic of Iraq is an unprecedented restriction of press freedom," the protest note says.


Did you notice "Wednesday"?  The day before Joe spoke to the prime minister of Iraq.  

Of course, Joe said nothing about this attack.   How could he?  He's persecuting Julian Assange and he's trying to dismantle The First Amendment in the process.  Maybe silence was better than Joe's usual tactic of telling Iraqi leaders how Iraq is just like Ireland?


But usually when the President of the United States -- regardless of who holds the office -- is honoring some other leader with a personal phone call, that other leader isn't attacking the press.


SHAFAWQ NEWS  covers it here.


It's just not starting to be noted on Twitter.  Hey, who's the idiot at the White House -- no, not Joe -- that let the call go through?  Who's the fool who didn't raise this issue and wonder if the call shouldn't be rescheduled for another day?  A DW reporter has to flee Iraq to avoid threats and arrest and, hours later, Joe's on the phone chatting with the leader of the country?  No one saw a problem with that?  They're really all that stupid?



Below is a JAAFAR TALK clip where they're speaking with the mother of an activist who was killed.  Her child was part of The October Revolution that began in 2019 -- when young Shi'ite Iraqis rose up to call out the government for its corruption, for the lack of jobs and the lack of accountability.  The response was to hunt down and kill these activists.  




The episode that would have been filmed this week -- the one the government and thugs shut down -- would have included activists with The October Revolution.

Even with a new prime minister, they won't punish the killers of those young activists but they will stop any press coverage of what took place.


Meanwhile Glenneth Greenwald Paltrow was busy this week promoting gal pal Marjorie Taylor Greene.  Maj also made time to show up in the halls of Congress to unleash some more of her crazy on the country.  John Russel (LGBTQ NATION) notes:

Greene, who is a cosponsor on Steube’s bill, touted her history as “a former athlete,” playing softball and soccer as a kid, as well as spending “a lot of time in water sports” and competing “at the top level” in CrossFit as an adult. She also claimed to have stopped competing in CrossFit because she would have had to compete against transgender women.

Greene claimed that cis college athletes who oppose competing against transgender women are being silenced by college athletics programs and that “woke politics” are destroying women’s sports.

“I don’t care if it’s a mental illness, I don’t care what it is. It’s straight-up evil,” Greene said of trans women, “And they do not belong in women’s sports.”

Oh, Glenneth, the gals you do hang with.  She's almost crazy as your 2008 hag.  And I can see Majorie devoting "a lot of time to water sports."  I also think it's funny that her former pal US House Rep Lauren Boebert is whispering that she thinks Marjorie's marriage ended because Marjorie's a lesbian.  What a world we live in where even Lauren Boebert might get something right.

At any rate, Marjorie, we get it.  You're into water sports and when you look around the locker room -- as you love to do, scoping out all the ladies with that intense stare of yours -- you want to be the butchest thing in the room.


Marjorie, trans women are not a threat to you.  They're not going to dildo-block you in the locker room.  They're not there to stare at others. Unlike you, they just want to change into their sports outfit, go work out or compete, come back in, shower, put on their clothes and go.  Not a one of them, I'm sure, is going to walk up and interrupt you while your cruising the tits of some suburban home maker.


Does Marjorie, as Lauren's been insinuating, like the ladies?  That would be so poetic, wouldn't it?  No, I think she just lives in fear because she is so masculine, look at her, and this is after years and years of learning how to cover it.  There's nothing wrong with being masculine, Marjorie.  But she's been ashamed of it and probably more than baker's dozen have mistaken her for gay and its why she has to attack gay people now.


Just as all effeminate men are not gay all butch women are not lesbians.  But it is cute that Lauren's spreading that rumor.  And at a time when the LGBTQ+ community is under attack, it's nice to laugh at Marjorie and her love of water sports.

Steve Benen?  I'm not a fan but he has a column worth reading.  I'm not going to quote it or excerpt from it because I really don't want to feed the notion that someone on the ropes and struggling might be a contender.  Hopefully, those days are long gone.  If we have to mention that person's name, we will.  But as he goes after the LGBTQ+ community in a desperate bid to get press attention to his dead-in-the-water campaign, we're not going to do him any favors.  But Benen did write a good column so we will link to it (even while we avoid naming who the column is about).

At THE TENNESSEAN, Emma Chinn writes:   

Tennessee has begun a new legislative session and the state’s LGBTQ residents are bracing for impact.The General Assembly’s hostility towards its LGBTQ constituents has resulted in one of the most unsupportive legal systems in the country for LGBTQ people.

As a result of Tennessee state laws, transgender people struggle to access life-saving healthcare, teachers fear the repercussions of discussing LGBTQ identity at school, and same-sex couples worry that adoption agencies may refuse them the chance to raise a child.

The trend of anti-LGBTQ hostility is set to continue in 2023, with a slate of discriminatory bills already moving – including a complete ban on transgender-related healthcare for people under the age of 18 and a bill banning public drag performances written so broadly that it could result in public erasure for all trans people.



Bianca Quilatan (POLITICO) reports:

ANOTHER LEGISLATIVE SESSION FILLED WITH ANTI-LGBTQ BILLS — More than 180 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced so far this legislative session, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, with dozens centered on restricting transgender students in school.

— Last year, state legislators introduced 315 anti-LGBTQ bills, according to the Human Rights Campaign.More than 90 percent of the legislation failed as only 29 bills were signed into law, but HRC said it still “marked the passage of the most anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-transgender legislation in recent history.”

— In 2023, more than 80 bills look to restrict the rights of transgender students in schools, according to the ACLU, which is tracking the legislation. The bills include preventing transgender students from participating on sports teams that match their gender identity, restricting access to bathroom facilities and preventing teachers from using their students’ pronouns. About 59 bills restrict access to gender-affirming care.


At SALON, Amanda Marcotte writes:

In the past few years, right-wing activists agitating against LGBTQ rights and freedoms insist that they aren't acting out of bigotry towards trans or queer people. No, they argue, they are doing this to protect "the children."

In Florida, Republicans defended a law critics dubbed the "don't say gay" law with risible accusations that erasing LGBTQ identities from the classroom is necessary to prevent "grooming" of children, equating, for instance, a book that features a same-sex married couple with a pedophile manipulating a child into accepting sexual abuse. The escalating protests of drag shows and brunches around the country are justified with claims that the shows expose "children" to "sexualized" material, even though performers and audiences have testified that shows geared towards families with small children don't feature the ribald jokes of more adult fare. Republican legislators and conservative activists have targeted trans kids in schools, saying their access to sports teams and restrooms must be restricted in order to protect the "privacy" of cis children. A growing national moral panic over gender-affirming care for minors has even led to protests and threats against children's hospitals, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics describes the treatment as the "accepted standard of care for adolescents at risk of or suffering from gender dysphoria." In fact, it's rare to unheard-of for minors to get major surgical interventions. 

Skeptics, however, have long argued that concern over "the children" is just a convenient fig leaf for homophobia and transphobia. 

The goal "is to stop people from being trans," ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio told GQ in May 2021, noting that the right only targets children because kids are a "group of people who don't have as much power."

"Bigots aren't freaking out about drag queens reading to children because they're confused about the nature of these events," Michael Hobbes of the Maintenance Phase podcast recently tweeted. "They're freaking out because they're bigots." The heavily orchestrated moral panic is "not about children," journalist Jill Filipovic wrote in a recent newsletter. It's "about criminalizing adults simply for existing and doing their thing."


These hateful voices get amplified.  And it's not just the crazies in Congress.  THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST are both getting on board with providing platforms for hate merchants.  Chloe Simon and Alyssa Tirrell (MEDIA MATTERS) note:


The Washington Post, whose news-side coverage of LGBTQ issues in the recent past has been notably excellent, recently hired three opinion-editorial columnists who have a history of making anti-LGBTQ statements, primarily against the transgender community. 

On January 25, the Post announced it was adding seven new opinion-editorial columnists to its staff. Three out of the seven columnists — Ramesh Ponnuru, Ruy Teixeira, and Jim Geraghty — have conservative backgrounds, with positions of leadership or fellowships with organizations like American Enterprise Institute and National Review. All three are slated to write weekly and monthly columns regarding politics and related topics. 

While right-wing media networks such as Fox News and One America News Network have been consistent in their blatant, anti-LGBTQ coverage, mainstream media have at times resorted to presenting LGBTQ rights as a political debate. The New York Times has repeatedly given cover to anti-trans extremists and hired anti-LGBTQ contributors; meanwhile other outlets such as The New Yorker have published puff pieces on controversial, anti-LGBTQ figures. 

Among its mainstream media peers, The Washington Post has generally provided fair coverage of LGBTQ issues, including recent anti-LGBTQ educational initiatives, the Respect for Marriage Act, and anti-drag sentiments. The paper’s decision to hire three columnists who have repeatedly heaped scorn on the LGBTQ community is a backslide, and an especially harmful one in a time when violence against LGBTQ people is an everyday threat. 

The Post’s new conservative columnists 

Jim Geraghty 
  • Geraghty is currently a senior political correspondent for the National Review and is known for his conservative blogs, books, and journalism
  • In a 2015 piece on media personality Caitlyn Jenner, Geragthy claimed, “It’s not too much to ask that somebody like Jenner not be assaulted, not be harassed, not be deprived of any rights that anybody else has. But it is a bit much to ask the rest of us to not find [her] decision, or the entire process, at least a little weird.”* In 2016, Gerarghty published another piece for the National Review which characterized anti-trans bathroom policies and Jenner’s canceled reality TV show as proof that “the right is winning the culture war.” 
  • As recently as December 2021, Geraghty overreacted to the possibility that James Bond could be rewritten as a non-binary character, saying that it continued “the unpleasant new trend of taking an established and beloved character and changing the character to fit some sort of woke category.” 
  • Right-wing media figures often spread misinformation and bigotry under the guise of passively pointing out supposed flaws in progressive logic. In accordance with this trend, some of Geraghty’s tweets “just ask questions,” like “How about those who self-identify as ‘gender-fluid’? Are they feminine enough to qualify for roles specified for women in society?” or “Can a transgender individual attend a women-only class at Curves?” 
  • Geraghty’s previous Washington Post contributions include op-eds that praise anti-LGBTQ Govs. Glen Youngkin and Ron Desantis, and he’s referred to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law as “a common-sense restriction keeping explicit materials out of elementary school classrooms.” 
Ramesh Ponnuru
  • Ponnuru is the current editor of conservative publication National Review and a nonresident senior fellow at American Enterprise Institute. 
  • In 2016, Ponnuru told Boston Review that religious people needed “protections of our liberty as dissenters,” in reference to states enacting bathroom laws and defending Christian businesses from having to employ or serve members of the LGBTQ community. 
  • As recently as 2020, Ponnuru was still using “gay” as a slur on Twitter.
  • He also recently promoted on National Review’s site an essay by Manhattan Institute’s Leor Sapir that argued against a Washington Post op-ed piece calling for children with gender dysphoria to receive “comprehensive assessment and gender-exploratory therapy” as well as parental support. According to Ponnuru, “This part (among many others) had the ring of truth” in the piece: 

“Over the past two decades in the United States, pediatric gender transition has evolved well beyond, and even against, the original intentions of the Dutch experts. American-style affirmative care has taken on all the trappings of our therapeutic-oriented, pharmaceutical-driven, individualistic culture.”

Ruy Teixeira
  • Teixeria is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor-at-large of the Liberal Patriot substack. Teixeira recently left liberal think tank the Center for American Progress due to, according to Politico, the “relentless focus on race, gender, and identity” and the difficulty in having conversations about “race and gender and trans issues.” 
  • In the American Enterprise Institute Banter podcast, Teixeria expressed contempt at the fact that if it is “express[ed] otherwise” that “trans women are women” one would get called a bigot. He also argued this was due to people “feeling the gap” with politics over religion. 
  • On The Bulwark podcast with Charlie Sykes, he argued that Democrats should portray themselves as the party that doesn’t “want kindergartners taught about gender ideology and gender fluidity” and should say it even if they’re uncomfortable doing so. 
  • For an article on his Substack titled “How to Fix the Democratic Brand”, Teixeira questioned whether “personal pronouns [are] necessary” and if “transwomen [are] exactly the same as biological women.” (The term “biological women” is a right-wing dog whistle that implies trans womanhood is artificial by comparison.) He also stated that those who question trans women are being “expunged from the left coalition.”
  • In an article titled “Ruy Teixeira Asks Whether America Has Reached ‘Peak Woke,’” Teixeira wrote that “woke stances on crime, immigration, race essentialism, gender ideology and school curriculums” are still alive in the Democratic Party and the things that could “touch that off” is a viral video involving “race (or perhaps gender).” He bemoaned: 

It is in America’s institutions where the wokeness curve seems still to be on the rise. In academia, the arts, mainstream media, advocacy groups, ngos, foundations, school administrations, professional organizations and corporate human-resources departments, it is hard to detect an ebbing of the tide.

Wokeness is stubbornly entrenched in these institutions, and it is there that it will make its stand. Millions of people have jobs, money, positions and influence that are now bound up with wokeness, and they will not give it up easily. The world they inhabit is more insulated from the views of ordinary people than those of social discourse and political competition. We may not yet have seen “peak woke” in that world—which means many of us, unfortunately, may yet face being called out, canceled or targeted in some other way.

*In accordance with the Trans Journalists Association style guide, Media Matters has replaced Jenner’s pronouns in this quote. 

Yesterday, "Is Biden begging for impeachment?" went up here and we're going to wind down with it.

Impeachment?

President Joe Biden is already on thin ice.  I have no idea why he or his troubled son wants to jump and down.



Biden's lawyers on Wednesday sent letters to the Justice Department's National Security Division and the Delaware attorney general's office calling for an investigation into "individuals for whom there is considerable reason to believe violated various federal laws in accessing, copying, manipulating, and/or disseminating Mr. Biden's personal computer data," including former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and other allies of the former president, according to NBC News.


The Justice Department pursues the investigations that they feel are warrented.

The child of a sitting president should never, ever have his/her attorneys contact the Justice Department requesting that they carry out an investigation.

Does no one get what an abuse of power this is?

Does no one get how this looks?

That's before you include in that he is asking them to target a private citizen:


The letters also called for an investigation into John Paul Mac Isaac, the Delaware computer repair shop owner who said that Biden left his laptop and never retrieved it.


Hunter's father is their nominal boss (We The People are actually their boss).  And he is contacting them about John Paul Mac Issac?  

This doesn't pass the smell test and it doesn't look right.

We should all be outraged by this.  I checked Twitter to see if Jonathan Turley had weighed in.  He hasn't.  Apparently, he's deformed his once great mind by working for FOX NEWS.

This is reality: A sitting president needs to tell his drug addict son (who is supposedly back on the drugs, by the way) to sit his ass down.  He needs to tell him that the FBI -- whether Joe is president or not -- is not Hunter's servant.  This is so elitist, corrupt and outrageous that it is begging for Congress to look into it.

I'm sorry that Hunter Biden is a drug addict.  I'm sorry that he slept with his brother's widow -- and never thought how his then-wife or their children would feel about it.  I'm sorry that he goes on so many benders he doesn't know what he did or who he slept with.  I am very sorry for Navy Joan and the way he refuses to recognize her -- his own daughter -- and the way he's trying to weasel out of child support -- yet again -- and arguing that she shouldn't have his last name.

Again: "Unwanted Number" from GRACE OF MY HEART: "They say he gave her his child, he wouldn't give her his name."  


Here's Elvis Costello performing "Unwanted Number" (which he wrote) for his 2018 album LOOK NOW.






He is doing this while his father is president.  That is outrageous.  That goes beyond Deadbeat Dad.

But with regards to the Justice Department?  Nepo-Baby needs to grasp that the letter itself is wrong and sends off the wrong impression.  


I don't care who your father is, the Dept of Justice is not at your beck and call nor should it be.

Joe Biden needs to call this out.  His children have no right to impose on the Dept of Justice or State or anyone else.  And the fact that Hunter thinks he has that right suggest Hunter thinks he can influence an outcome.  

This needs to be called out.  I doubt what passes for the mainstream 'left' will say a word.  Don't expect Krystal Ball, for example, to grasp how serious this is.  Hopefully, Republicans in Congress will grasp the serious nature and will call it out.  

Hunter's  action are antithetical to democracy.  As President,  Joe needs to address this an assure the American people that no special treatment, no favoritism will take place.


The following sites updated:



Thursday, February 2, 2023

Serena needs to sit her tired ass down





Almost one year after the Slap that was heard around the world, Serena Williams opened up about the now-infamous moment that took place shortly before Will Smith won the 2022 Oscar for best actor in King Richard.

Ahead of Smith’s win, Chris Rock took to the Academy Awards stage to present the award for best documentary for Questlove’s Summer of Soul. Before announcing who would be taking home the gold statue, Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head. (The actress has alopecia.) Smith then took to the stage, slapped Rock and returned to his seat, where he shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth!”

At the time, the Williams sisters, whose life was portrayed in King Richard, remained mum on the Slap — until now.

Serena Williams stopped by CBS Mornings for a conversation with Gayle King about her business ventures, family and her Florida farm.

During their chat, King showed Williams a sweet video of her father coaching her as a child and then segued into “that moment at the Oscars,” asking the tennis star how she felt about the situation, without specifically mentioning the Slap.


“I thought it was such an incredible film, and I feel that there was an incredible film after that with Questlove that kind of was overshadowed,” Williams began. “But I also feel that I’ve been in a position where I’ve been under a lot of pressure and made a tremendous amount of mistakes, and I’m the kind of person that’s like, ‘I’ve been there. I’ve made a mistake. It’s not the end of the world.'”



It's not a mistake.  It's assault.  Which is a crime.  Stop justifying assaults.  Shame on you.  That is so disgusting.  

"Everyone makes mistakes."

Crime, not a mistake. 

You do not physically attack someone.  

There is no justification for it.  And it shames the (bad0 film so tough on you, Serena.

 

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

 

 Thursday, February 2, 2023.  Angelina Jolie visits Iraq, Julian Assange remains persecuted, US House Rep Joaquin Castro notes a veteran and his wife for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and much more.



Julian remains imprisoned and remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden who, as vice president, once called him "a high tech terrorist."  Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:



A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat



The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.

The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”.

But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.

Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press.

Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution.


This is Joe's legacy.  He won't have to live with it.  He'll be dead within ten years.  But this is how he will be remembered -- as a thug who refused to protect The First Amendment and as a thug who persecuted Julian Assange.  Some have been surprised by the reluctance and refusal of journalists to stand with Julian.  Jonathan Cook (CONSORTIUM NEWS) explains that silence:


 During an interview back in 2011, Julian Assange made an acute observation about the role of what he called society’s “perceived moral institutions”, such as liberal media:

“What drives a paper like The Guardian or New York Times is not their inner moral values. It is simply that they have a market. In the U.K., there is a market called ‘educated liberals.’ Educated liberals want to buy a newspaper like the Guardian, and therefore an institution arises to fulfil that market. … What is in the newspaper is not a reflection of the values of the people in that institution, it is a reflection of the market demand.”

Assange presumably gained this insight after working closely the previous year with both newspapers on the Afghan and Iraq war logs.

[Related: The Revelations of WikiLeaks: No. 2 —The Leak That ‘Exposed the True Afghan War’ and No. 3—The Most Extensive Classified Leak in History]

One of the mistakes we typically make about the “mainstream media” is imagining that its outlets evolved in some kind of gradual bottom-up process. We are encouraged to assume that there is at least an element of voluntary association in how media publications form.

At its simplest, we imagine that journalists with a liberal or leftwing outlook gravitate towards other journalists with a similar outlook and together they produce a liberal-left newspaper. We sometimes imagine that something similar takes place among rightwing journalists and rightwing newspapers.

All of this requires ignoring the elephant in the room: billionaire owners. Even if we think about those owners — and in general we are discouraged from doing so — we tend to suppose that their role is chiefly to provide the funding for these free exercises in journalistic collaboration.

For that reason, we infer that the media represents society: it offers a market place of thought and expression in which ideas and opinions align with how the vast majority of people feel. In short, the media reflects a spectrum of acceptable ideas rather than defining and imposing that spectrum.

[. . .]

The truth is that, were The Guardian and The New York Times clamouring for Assange’s freedom;

had they investigated the glaring holes in the Swedish case, as Nils Melzer, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, did;

were they screaming about the dangers of allowing the U.S. to redefine journalism’s core task as treason under the draconian, century-old Espionage Act;

had they used their substantial muscle and resources to pursue Freedom of Information requests, as Stefania Maurizi did on her own dime;

were they pointing out the endless legal abuses taking place in Assange’s treatment in the U.K.;

had they reported — rather than ignored — the facts that came to light in the extradition hearings in London; in short, had they kept Assange’s persecution constantly in the spotlight, he would be free by now.

The efforts by the various states involved to gradually disappear him over the past decade would have become futile, even self-sabotaging.

At some level, journalists understand this. Which is precisely why they try to persuade themselves, and you, that Assange isn’t a “proper” journalist. That’s why, they tell themselves, they don’t need to show solidarity with a fellow journalist — or worse, why it is okay to amplify the security state’s demonisation campaign.

By ignoring Assange, by othering him, they can avoid thinking about the differences between what he has done and what they do. Journalists can avoid examining their own role as captured servants of corporate power.


At WSWS, Tom Mackaman interviews  Ahmed White (law professor and author -- most recent book is UNDER THE IRON HEEL: THE WOBBLIES AND THE CAPITALIST WAR ON RADICAL WORKERS).  We'll note the following where Julian Assange is brought up:

 

TM: And the Espionage Act is something that the federal government dusts off from time to time. Presently with Julian Assange.

AW: That’s right. It’s been amended over the years, but it’s still used. With Assange, it just proves the political purposes for which it can be used, beyond supposedly stamping out spying. I think what the Assange case shows is the continuity in the federal government’s role, its willingness to use its prosecutorial authority to repress voices and movements that it opposes.

What’s interesting about what happened to the IWW was that it was central to the construction of this facility within the federal government, which was very poorly developed until the First World War. Before the persecution of the IWW, and the first Red Scare, there was actually very little facility on the part of the federal government to do what it does very easily today. And I think a lot of that is to be owed, or is to be in some perverse way, credited to what happened to the IWW.

TM: Along the same lines of past and present, one of the things that struck me about your book is its really sharp analysis of liberalism, a thread you weave throughout. And you have a couple very incisive pages, early on, where you describe the transformation from a 19th century classical liberalism to this Progressive Era statism. Could you summarize the role of liberalism in the persecution of the IWW? And following from that, what do you make of the state of American liberalism at present?

AW: What was striking to me in researching and writing this book was the contradictory role of liberals or progressives. Some of them supported the union. But many of them aligned in the effort to destroy it. And I think what these people brought to bear, which is so interesting, is a kind of characteristic belief that a society needs to be managed. I mean, these were all capitalists fundamentally, and they believed that capitalism created problems, contradictions, difficulties that needed to be addressed. What distinguished them was the serious and organized and legally oriented way they thought that should be done. That was true of their approach to things like child labor or food safety and all sorts of things. It was also true of their approach to radicalism.

And so, once these progressives and liberals decided that the IWW was an intolerable threat that was antithetical to their ambitions, their beliefs, then they spearheaded the attempt to destroy it by exactly those organized and legally oriented means. That’s what they brought to bear. They were not above participating in acts of extralegal violence or vigilantism, but their main purpose was to do this in an organized and lawful way. And they did. And that was reflected in their role, the often leading role, they played in the enactment and enforcement of the Espionage Act, the enactment and enforcement of the criminal syndicalism of laws.



These old men they make their dirty deals
Go in the back room and see what they can steal
Talk about your beautiful for spacious skies
It's about uranium
It's about the water rights

Got Mother Nature on a luncheon plate
They carve her up and call it real estate
Want all the resources and all of the land
They make a war over it
They blow things up for it

The reservation out at Poverty Row
There's something cookin' and the lights are low
Somebody's tryin' to save our Mother Earth I'm gonna
Help 'em to 
Save it and 
Sing it and 
Pray it singin'

No no, Keshagesh you can't do that no more

Ol' Columbus, he was lookin' good
When he got lost in our neighborhood
Garden of Eden right before his eyes
Now it's all spyware Now it's all income tax

Ol' Brother Midas, lookin' hungry today
What he can't buy he'll get some other way
Send in the troopers if the Natives resist
Same old story, boys
That's how ya do it boys

Look at these people Lord they're on a roll
Gotta have it all 
Gotta have complete control
Want all the resources and all of the land
They break the law over it
Blow things up for it

-- "No Keshagesh," written by Buffy Sainte-Marie, appears most recently on Buffy's MEDICINE SONGS


Meanwhile, the UK paper THE GUARDIAN is asking for memories:


On 15 February, it will be 20 years since more than one million people marched through London to protest against the imminent Iraq war. It remains the largest political demonstration in the UK’s history.

Marches also took place in Glasgow and Belfast, alongside hundreds of other cities globally that weekend.

We would like to speak to people who attended anti-war demonstrations in the UK on 15 February 2003 about their memories of the day and how it affected them and their outlook.

Whether it was your first march or you were already a seasoned protester in 2003, we want to hear about how you remember that day.

What did you do? Did you travel to the march? Did you meet people that day – and if you made new friendships, did they last? How did the march, and subsequent war, have an impact on how you see the world?

Please share any photos you took at the march.


Weeks until the ongoing war hits the 20 year mark and US forces remain there:


The US-led international military coalition remains in Iraq after the US military withdrew from Iraq in 2012.

A small military force was left in the Arab state only to protect the US embassy and train Iraqi forces.

In 2020, the US President at the time, Donald Trump, reduced the number of troops in Iraq to 2500.

In 2021, both countries agreed to end US combat missions by December.


So many lives have been destroyed by the illegal war.  A lot of crooks got rich off it.  Veterans got ripped off.  It's been veterans who have had to fight for their rights that should have been honored without any fuss.  Many veterans suffered because of exposure to burn pits.  Sometimes, US President Joe Biden likes to lie that his son Beau died in Iraq (he didn't) and other times he wants to connect Beau's caner to burn pits.  But as US senator, Joe did nothing to help the victims of burn pits.  He has moved a little more towards a reluctant advocate as president but he still won't honor those who fought to call out the burn pits and to start a national registry for those suffering.  This is a press release issued Tuesday by US House Rep Joaquin Castro:



Read Congressman Castro’s Recommendation Letter Here

WASHINGTON – This week, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Captain Le Roy Torres and Rosie Torres of Robstown, Texas. In the letter, Congressman Castro commended the couple’s work to protect the rights of returning servicemembers and highlighted their leadership in efforts to expand health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, including through their advocacy for the Honoring Our PACT Act.

“Over the past decade, Rosie and Le Roy have played a central role in ensuring the United States upholds our commitment to veterans. They successfully fought for the passage of two federal laws to protect veterans impacted by burn pits and secured a victory for disabled veterans at the Supreme Court,” wrote Congressman Castro. “Rosie and Le Roy define what it means to be American. I cannot think of two better people who deserve to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

“It is an honor to be nominated for the Medal of Freedom award. Our efforts with the PACT ACT were born from our own injustice and journey.  To know that no other Veteran or survivor will be served by denial is an absolute blessing and victory. This nomination is in honor of the fallen who lost the battle to burn pit exposure and to their families that walked the halls alongside us. It is a symbol of every tear, hardship and loss after War but it is also a reminder of what it is to be American. To anyone facing an injustice, never give up and know that your voice can change history,” said Rosie and Le Roy Torres.

Captain and Mrs. Torres are the co-founders of Burn Pits 360, a non-profit organization that advocates for burn pit-impacted veterans. Their family’s advocacy began after Captain Torres developed a severe lung condition from prolonged exposure to open-air burn pits during a deployment to Iraq. In 2010, as veterans affected by burn pits struggled to get the Department of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge their service-connected injuries, Burn Pits 360 established an independent registry for family members to record the names of servicemembers who died because of toxic exposure. Captain and Mrs. Torres were instrumental in the 2013 creation of a federal burn pit registry and later played a leading role in the 2022 passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act, landmark bipartisan legislation that expanded health care and benefits for more than five million exposed to toxic substances, including burn pits and Agent Orange.

Captain Torres was also the plaintiff in Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety, a Supreme Court case defending the rights of servicemembers and veterans under USERRA, a federal law that protects the reemployment rights of returning servicemembers. The case originated after the Texas Department of Public Safety denied Captain Torres’s request to continue his job as a Texas State Trooper with reasonable accommodations for his service-connected disability. Captain Torres subsequently sued the Department for failure to abide by USERRA’s protections and appealed to the Supreme Court after a lower court ruled that Congress lacked the power to authorize lawsuits against states under USERRA. If Captain Torres had not appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, the lower court’s decision could have eviscerated the rights of military personnel to return to their civilian jobs. On June 29, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Captain Torres and upheld the responsibility of state employers to abide by the servicemember protections in USERRA.

Congressman Castro has worked closely with the Torres family for many years. Beginning in 2017, he hosted a series of field hearings and Congressional briefings to raise awareness about burn pit exposure and urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand services for burn pit-affected veterans. In 2021, Congressman Castro led a letter to then-Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, urging the Department of Justice to ask the Supreme Court to grant review of Torres v. Texas and protect the rights of returning servicemembers. When the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, Congressman Castro led an amicus brief in support of Captain Torrs. Captain Torres was also Congressman Castro’s guest for the 2022 State of the Union Address.


This is the second time that Joaquin has nominated Le Roy and Rosie Torres.  Why did it take a second time?  Why has this not already happened?  They founded Burn Pits 360 and have been active on this issue -- highlighting it, galvanizing support, all on their own time -- for over a decade.  Even for no-brainer Joe Biden, awarding this medal should be a no brainer.







The following sites updated: