Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Julian Assange

Julian Assange is a political prisoner.  He is the publisher of WikiLeaks.  He is being attacked and targeted for practicing journalism.

A lot of people lie about that.  Chris Hayes, on MSNBC, keeps lying about it.  Chris Hayes is just a liar.  You know what a liar does, a liar reports for The Nation magazine on the Obama administration while failing to note in each report, "Oh, by the way, my wife is an attorney for the administration.  So, I'm not going to be too honest here or too critical because that would effect our family income.  It's called conflict interest and I'm just a damn liar."

Yep, Chris Hayes is a damn liar who is, all this time later, still lying.

Consortium News has been one of the few outlets that has stood by Julian Assange and this is a video they have just released.

Consortium News has been one of the few outlets that has stood by Julian Assange, not the only one.  Others would include Information Clearing House.  I am happy for all that are standing for Julian.

The US government is trying to grab him and bring him to the US to try him for reporting.

Some idiots have insisted he should be tried for treason.  As C.I. has repeatedly pointed out, Julian Assange is an Australian and, therefore, his actions would not be treasonous towards the United States.  Treason is when you betray your own country. 

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tuesday, July 14, 2020.  Secret prisons exposed in Iraq, Kanye's run or 'run' for president, the lack of leadership in the duopoly parties, and much more.

Starting with this video regarding Iraq.

For any with streaming issues, here is the transcript of the video:

In Iraq, there are 60,000 detainees including 1,000 women in 13 government prisons and dozens of secret prisons by militias and political parties based on testimonials collected by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor. Some prisons of armed groups are repurposed houses where detainees are kept in the basements and their families are blackmailed to pay money or have their children killed.  Some prisons are . . . increasingly overcrowded due to the escalation of arrests and mostly lack hygiene.  Thus prisons become a fertile environment [for] the spread of diseases.  However, the Iraqi government did not take serious measures during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Iraq.

Tariq al-Liwa, legal advisor in the Euor-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor: Detainees should be released if there is no clear legal basis for their detention, or if the Iraqi government is unable to address the inhumane and degrading conditions in which they are held.

An Iraqi policeman . . told/said that Brigade 30 has a secret prison in the Nineveh Governorate where 1,000 people are detained on sectarian grounds and based on fabricated charges

The Switzerland-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor issued the following:
Geneva – Testimony documenting inhumane conditions in Iraqi prisons have been collected by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, which warns of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is a particular threat to the thousands of detainees, since the prisons are overcrowded, unsanitary and lack even minimum health care.
More than 60,000 people, including about 1,000 women, are detained in 13 government prisons. In addition, there are dozens of secret prisons run by militias, political parties, and various tribal and other factions.
Iraqi authorities refuse to disclose the number of detainees, their health condition or recorded deaths, although multiple testimonies report poor health overall, rapid disease spread and medical neglect. A basic lack of hygiene makes the prisons a fertile environment for the spread of diseases such as asthma, tuberculosis and hepatitis. Inadequate ventilation exacerbates the crisis, along with an absence of sanitizers.
At the same time, Iraqi prisons are increasingly overcrowded due to the escalation of detention and judicial delays.
Testimonies collected by Euro-Med indicate that these and other government practices are systematic and deliberate, not merely individual or random.
For example, A.A. is an Iraqi policeman who told Euro-Med about a secret prison in the Tahrawa area in the Nineveh Governorate that is run by a unit known as Brigade 30. It houses about 1,000 detainees arrested on malicious, sectarian charges. Leaders of Brigade 30 force families of the detainees to pay large sums of money in exchange for the release of their relatives.
K.TH.F., another Iraqi policeman, told us that Brigade 30 has other secret prisons in Nineveh. These prisons are mainly repurposed houses, in the Al-Qaraj area of the Kokjali neighborhood, where civilians from Mosul are kept in the basements. Their families are blackmailed for money.
On June 2, Jassem al-Samarrai, a resident of the Mukeshefah area of Samarra, reported that 50 civilians had been arrested by the Saraya Al-Salam militia, run by movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The arrests continued for three days, without any interference from government security services. Homes were raided, with militia members blasting doors open with bombs and live bullets—terrorizing children in the process.
“Authorities should allow detainees to hire lawyers, including during interrogation,” says Tariq Al-Liwa, Tariq Al-Liwa. “Authorities also should transfer detainees to facilities where government inspectors, independent observers and lawyers have unimpeded access to them. Detainees should be released if there is no clear legal basis for their detention, or if the government is unable to address the inhumane and degrading conditions in which they are held.”
Al-Liwa adds that Iraqi authorities must control the actions of their forces to ensure the legality of their practices, as well as prevent illegal armed militias from kidnapping and hiding people in secret prisons.
Finally, he concludes that the ministries of justice and the interior should expedite investigations, assure that everyone in pretrial detention has a speedy and fair trial or is released, improve detainees’ living conditions and provide them with all necessary health care.
Over 60,000 people are detained by Iraqi authorities in prisons that do not meet the minimum requirements guaranteed by international conventions. These prisons are over-crowded and unhealthy. Last June, Euro-Med Monitor launched a petition signed by 30 human rights organizations, calling on the authorities to put an end to enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention.

Secret prisons -- just like when Nouri al-Maliki was in charge.  Instead of being punished for running secret prisons, the US government rewarded thug Nouri.  The Iraqi people voted him out as prime minister in March of 2010.  But Nouri refused to step down.  For a little over eight months, the government came to a standstill -- this is known as the political stalemate.  Instead of insisting that Nouri step down and honor the wishes of the voters, Joe Biden (who Barack Obama put in charge of Iraq) gave Nouri a second term as prime minister via the legal contract known as The Erbil Agreement.  This second term led to the rise of ISIS in Iraq. 

The notion of Joe Biden's 'accomplishments' are a joke -- if you're an Iraqi citizen, they're a dirty joke.

And now secret prisons again.  

There is no progress in Iraq.

The US military remains there to prop up an unpopular and unresponsive government.  Now I mean unresponsive to the Iraqi people.  It is an illegitimate government.  But equally true, for all those War Hawks who just knew the Iraq War would be a success, the puppet government in Iraq has been unresponsive to US demands as well.

There are no measures for success.  The US military just remains in Iraq, year after year, to prop up the illegitimate government.  At one point, there were measures for success.  The so-called benchmarks that never were met.  Remember Nancy Pelosi, the newly installed Speaker of the House, in 2007, insisting that if these benchmarks were not met, no more US tax dollars would go to support the Iraq War.  That never happened, did it?  They didn't meet the benchmarks but, to this day, US tax dollars continue to flood into Iraq.

Nancy Pelosi has okayed billions in Iraq but she didn't believe that, in the midst of a global pandemic, US citizens didn't deserve a $1200 a month stipend?  

That tells you where her priorities are.

Raising big money.  That's all she cares about.  When Iraq was the way to raise money, she was all in on end the war! end the war! end the war!  When she couldn't raise money off it anymore -- failure to actually do anything goes a long way towards why she could no longer raise money -- she lost interest.  The story of her life, the story of her political career.  David Dayen explains all about Nancy in the RISING video below. 

Nancy Pelosi was upset. Her blitz of cable news appearances as a high-profile counterpart to Donald Trump had taken her to CNN in late April. And Jake Tapper had the temerity to question that which is not typically questioned: Pelosi’s legislative acumen.
Congress had just passed its fourth bill responding to the coronavirus crisis. Republicans wanted more money for forgivable loans for small businesses. Democrats had a host of liberal priorities left out of prior legislation that could have been paired with the extension. But Pelosi and her Senate colleague Chuck Schumer chose to go along with the Republican framework, leaving everything else for later.
Immediately afterward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hit the pause button on future legislation. It felt like the Democrats were played. And governors were sounding alarms about the lack of federal aid to cover massive state and local government revenue shortfalls, which triggered a loss of 1.5 million jobs in April and May alone.
“Was this a tactical mistake by you and Senator Schumer?” Tapper asked Pelosi.
“Just calm down,” she replied sternly, pivoting to tout getting more small-business money than McConnell even wanted. (As of mid-June, about $130 billion in authorized funding had not been claimed, and a May survey found that half of all small businesses expected to fail, even with federal support.) Pelosi vowed to obtain state and local fiscal relief eventually. “There’s no use going into what might have been.”
It was an interesting exchange, because it highlighted a Pelosi critique that rarely makes it into conventional accounts. Molly Ball’s biography Pelosi emphasizes more-common narratives, which throughout her accomplished career the Speaker has been able to surmount: whether a woman can compete in the typically male terrain of high-stakes politics, or whether she can withstand the caricature of a “San Francisco liberal.”
Ball, a national reporter for Time, also tries to make the case that Pelosi, underestimated by official Washington, constantly fleeces her foes at the negotiating table. Much of this is true. She stopped a newly re-elected George W. Bush from dismantling Social Security, a strategic masterstroke. Willing the Affordable Care Act forward when Democrats wanted to pull back was a signature achievement. During the interregnum between speakerships when John Boehner and Paul Ryan ran the House, she was consistently relied on for votes when they faltered, protecting liberal social programs and obtaining additional funding. And Pelosi always did it with remarkable caucus discipline, bringing together a disparate set of legislators to strengthen her hand.
But the past few months of hurried legislative output, long after Ball completed her draft, frustrate that analysis. In our endlessly gridlocked politics, real governing occurs mainly in the crucible of crisis, which forces urgent action beyond the usual game of inches. What you do in those moments matters infinitely more than how sassy you look clapping during the State of the Union address, or how you rip up that address after it’s read.

Nancy is eighty-years-old.  And she's failed to deliver anything --as House Minority Leader or as Speaker of the House.  When the politically uneducated -- I'll be kind, you know which celebrity I am especially refer to -- take to Twitter hissing as AOC or anyone else that calls out Nancy, they only flaunt their lack of intelligence.  Nancy has achieved nothing.

Take covid.  She and her kind -- unethical Democrats (not all Dems are unethical, I'm referring to a certain group) -- did nothing.  Not one damn thing.  They're thrilled that Donald Trump's polling numbers are harmed currently but, let's be clear, they haven't done a damn thing.  The American people need a monthly stipend during this pandemic.  It would help mental health, it would help general health (allowing stress levels to drop).  It would certainly help the economy.  But even with Bernie Sanders giving lip service to this idea (he wouldn't fight for it, of course), Nancy delivered nothing.

She doesn't plan to.  The average American cannot see any benefit from Donald or from Nancy.  (Some might quibble on that and if they're citing the one time $1,200, fine.  Donald Trump has taken credit for that. )

We need leaders and we don't have them.  Not on either side.  I would agree The Squad, for example, are leaders.  But they do not have the power that they should.  Nancy needs to retire and we need Democrats who are going to fight for We The People.

Currently, leadership in both of the duopoly parties is a failure.

So let's all vote Kayne?

There are e-mails from people telling me I'm anti-Kanye.

You don't know me.  I know Kanye.  I've known Kanye for years.  That's been noted here repeatedly for well over a decade.  I didn't call out Kanye for his support of Donald Trump.

I did do a blind item right after the election calling out a mutual friend who was attacking Kanye.

Do I agree with Kanye regarding his support -- sometime support -- for Donald?  No.

But I don't have to agree with everyone I know nor do they have to agree with me.  

Kanye could make a very interesting president.

I am not noting his 'run' currently because I don't see it as one.

The Greens, the SEP and other political parties are fighting for ballot access across the United States.

Do we grasp that?

So how is Kanye planning to run?  I haven't spoken to him about it.  

You can write in anyone you want on a ballot.  But for the vote to go for whomever you wrote in, most states have requirements.  Kanye hasn't met them and I don't know that he can at this late date.

Especially if we move towards vote by mail due to the pandemic, I don't know that he can because ballots will soon have to be printed.  The SEP has had to go to court in Michigan in their attempt to get on the ballot.

So I'm not understanding how Kanye runs for the White House.

If he's serious, he may just want to be a protest vote.  If so, that's fine.  And if that's what people want to do with their vote, that's fine.

The only 'wrong' vote is a vote you don't believe in.

You can make a mistake, we all can.  But if you're voting in a way you don't believe, that's a wrong vote.

You own your vote, no one else.  Though Debra Messing forgets this is a democracy and thinks the 'democratic' and 'Democratic' thing to do is to bully people into voting her way, she's wrong.  Your vote is your vote.

You give it meaning by how you use it.

That may be voting for Biden or voting for Trump or voting for Kishore or voting for La Riva, or voting for Hawkins or voting for Jorgensen or voting for Kanye or some other candidate.  That may be by not voting.  That may be your statement or your choice.

Whatever your choice is, as long as you believe in what you are doing, it's not a 'wrong' choice.

And it's your vote and it's really no one else's business how you choose to use it.

No matter what a balding idiot like Debra Messing says.

While we're on the topic of covid and politicians, let's note two Tweets from SEP presidential candidate Joseph Kishore.  First:

The #coronavirus pandemic is spiraling out of control. A social crime has been committed. Those responsible are the representatives of the rich, Democrat and Republican. Their motive is defense of capitalism. The working class must respond through socialist revolution.
9:53 PM · Jul 13, 2020

A social crime is being committed. However, in the countless hours devoted to discussions of the #pandemic in the news programs, no one seriously asks: Who is responsible? And what social interests have dictated policy?

James and Noah Kulwin are the creators and cohosts of a new podcast on the war and the pathologies that emerged in its wake, aptly titled Blowback. Over the course of ten episodes, the two sketch out what they describe as a “counter-history” of America’s forays into Iraq. Listeners working their way through the series will hear clips from CNN and MSNBC broadcasts, and anecdotes drawn from the reportage of mainstream journalists, like George Packer and Bob Woodward. What emerges from the synthesis constructed by the hosts is a criticism of these conventional secondary sources. James and Kulwin paint a portrait of a deluded and venal elite convinced that the exercise of American power today will solve the problems created by the exercise of American power in the past.
The hosts include liberals among that elite, taking aim at Democratic politicians who voted to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, as well as celebrities and media figures who supported the invasion. Kulwin, whose essays on foreign policy and technology appear in the gaggle of young or revivified publications associated with the Bernie Sanders left, is a contributing editor to Jewish Currents. James also writes for publications like the Baffler and Jacobin, but he is perhaps most well known for his past role as the producer of the sardonic podcast Chapo Trap House.
It is no surprise, then, that the comical tone of the aforementioned program finds its way into Blowback — an episode describing insurgents in occupied Iraq is titled “The #Resistance,” and the historical narrative is occasionally interrupted by the voice of Saddam Hussein, played by comedic actor H. Jon Benjamin, renowned for his roles in Archer and Bob’s Burgers. But in spite of these occasional fits of humor, Blowback is not frivolous. The writing, facilitated by James’s deft scoring, shifts registers where appropriate. For example, the trauma and tragedy of the civil war unleashed by the invasion of Iraq is imparted to listeners by an account of a father searching for his missing son among the corpses in Baghdad’s overflowing morgues. The podcast’s levity comes at the expense of the unaccountable political and military figures that either negligently enabled or perpetrated atrocities in Iraq. Faced with epochal crimes for which there may be no redress, laughter becomes “a kind of sovereignty, a triumph over one’s own powerlessness.”
The substance of Kulwin and James’s critique of conventional histories of the war in Iraq is also serious. To begin with, there is the matter of chronology. Typically, the start of the war is dated to George W. Bush’s invasion in March 2003. Barack Obama’s troop withdrawal in December 2011 marks its conclusion. In Blowback, the start and end dates are hazier. They fold into a broader history of Anglo-American marauding in Mesopotamia from the 1920s to the present. Special attention is paid to the inconclusive first Gulf War and the unprecedentedly severe sanctions regime of the 1990s, both of which hollowed out Iraq’s economy and political institutions long before Bremer began issuing his ruinous decrees.
Accounts of the war with wider historical lenses often bring into focus the sectarian polarization that marred Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion. But James and Kulwin do not dwell on the topic of sectarianism. Instead, they pay an unusual amount of attention to another social cleavage that runs through both Iraq and the United States today: class. This shift in emphasis has its downsides. Blowback fails to convey the malleability of sectarian identity, and to record the myriad of ways in which American interventions in Iraq reified and exacerbated communal tensions along this axis. The widespread view, echoed by even Barack Obama, that contemporary sectarian conflicts “date back millennia,” absolves American policymakers of responsibility for destructive decisions, like creating a quota system on the Iraqi Governing Council.
On the other hand, the authentically socialist portrayal of Iraq as a flash point in a global class war casts the beneficiaries and victims of empire in a fresh light. In the first episode, the hosts explain that the British Empire’s exploitation of Iraq’s oil resources weakened restive coal miners’ unions back in the UK. In the final episode, listeners learn of Iraq’s extensive poverty — around 20 percent of the residents of the oil-rich country lived off of $2.20 a day for many years after the invasion — and of the vast fortunes of the architects of the war — Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney are all multimillionaires. The inchoate suggestion borne by these snippets is that somehow global inequality and perpetual interventions in the politics of the Middle East are bound together.

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