Monday, November 1, 2021

Pathetic Kal Penn

I am so not amused by this news:


Kal Penn has some exciting news to share: The actor, who rose to fame in the Harold & Kumar films, is engaged to his longtime partner, Josh. Penn, 44, hasn't spoke publicly about his sexuality in the past. While he says he's always maintained an open attitude with those around him, Josh (whose last name has not been revealed) and their family members are more "quiet" about their personal lives.
"I've always been very public with everybody I've personally interacted with. Whether it's somebody that I meet at a bar, if Josh and I are out or we're talking to friends," Penn told People in an interview to promote his new memoir, You Can't Be Serious. "I'm really excited to share our relationship with readers. But Josh, my partner, my parents and my brother — four people who I'm closest to in the family — are fairly quiet. They don't love attention and shy away from the limelight."
Penn also appeared on CBS Sunday Morning this week, where he spoke about his experience sharing his relationship with both his readers and his family.
"I mean, you know, Josh and I've been together for 11 years," said Penn. "We had our 11th anniversary in October. So, for me in writing about it, I think the tricky thing was... it's very matter-of-fact in our lives, and when you're the son of Indian immigrants who says that you want to be an actor, the chaos that that creates in your family and your community will trump anything else, always."

Am I supposed to say congratulations? Better not be thank you.

Little Penn has been in an 11 year relationship and didn't say one word. That means it goes back to 2010. He left the White House (for the second time) in 2011. And didn't think people needed to know. In 2016, he was a star of DESIGNATE SURVIVOR which ran for three seasons -- where were the LGBTQ characters? In 2019 came SUNNYSIDE. Where were the LGBTQ characters? Now there were a lot of other projects since 2010 (and let's be clear that Kal knew he was gay before 2010) but he wasn't the star on those. If he couldn't come out, the least he could have done was to insist upon LGBTQ characters.

That was too much for him.

Rather pathetic. Just like it's rather pathetic to be a public personality in a relationship with someone for 11 years while hiding in a closet. 

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

Monday, November 1, 2021.  Election results are still not official, someone is convicted of murdering journalists finally but they can't tell you who or the person's affiliations, The Lincoln Project is a disgrace that the press needs to start ignoring, and much more.

Starting in the US, Caroline Downey (NATIONAL REVIEW via MSN):

The anti-Trump organization The Lincoln Project became the subject of intense criticism after it coordinated a hoax show of support by ostensible white nationalists for Republican Virginia gubernatorial frontrunner Glenn Youngkin.

In the viral incident, a group sporting khaki pants, baseball hats, and tiki torches lined in up in front of a Youngkin campaign bus to declare their endorsement of the candidate in a way that was presumably supposed to mimic the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

“We’re all in for Glenn,” the activists proclaimed.

After rumors circulated that the stunt was launched by Youngkin’s political adversaries, the Lincoln Project claimed responsibility. It was later revealed that the demonstrators were paid by the non-profit to position themselves as white supremacists affiliated with Youngkin as part of a disinformation campaign against him.

That's it.  In  a functioning world, that's it.  The Lincoln Project was always an unethical organization but after that stunt, that's it.  No journalistic organization should invite them on as guests, should seek them out for quotes.  They're liars who will lie in any way possible.  They are not trusted participants.  This is not the first time that they've been caught but this should be the last time.  In a functioning world of journalism, that's it.  

They paid people to pretend to support a candidate and to pretend that themselves were KKK-types.  That's it.  They're liars and they're hacks and they don't need to be included in the discourse anymore.  

That's the end of the line for them unless you also lack scruples -- in which case, MSNBC 'NEWS,' keep bringing them on as guests.  

And let's be clear on what happens next if the corporate media does not take a hard line stance here: Every political group now has the right to lie and hire people to smear a candidate with lies.  They have the right to fake support in order to smear a candidate.

Is that how we want the discourse to be now?  Project Lincoln long ago revealed that they had no ethics but this latest stunt is outrageous.  


Brendan Cole (NEWSWEEK) reports:


he Lincoln Project has been condemned for a stunt targeting the Republican gubernatorial candidate for Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, in which it sent people mimicking white nationalists to stand outside his campaign bus.
The action on Friday by the PAC has prompted concerns that it could harm the election prospects of the Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, whom it had intended to help.
Lis Smith, a former senior advisor to Democratic primary candidate Pete Buttigieg tweeted: "What a massive, massive screw up. The last thing that the McAuliffe campaign needed this weekend. A total disservice to the hundreds of hard-working staffers on the ground."

[. . .]

Virginia legislator Sally Hudson tweeted: "Charlottesville is not a prop. Our community is still reeling from years of trauma—especially this week. Don't come back, @ProjectLincoln. Your stunts aren't welcome here."

Terry McAuliffe's campaign has rightly condemned the lie.  Edward Helmore (GUARDIAN) reports:

McAuliffe disavowed the Lincoln Project’s actions.

“What happened today in Charlottesville is disgusting and distasteful and the McAuliffe campaign condemns it in the strongest terms,” the Democrat’s campaign manager said in a tweet. “Those involved should immediately apologise.”

This did not help Terry -- and the conventional wisdom is that Terry needs help -- and the Lincoln Project needs to be shunned and ostracized.  That's not what you do.  That's not how you support a campaign.  And, had they not been caught, they would have remained silent and let people think that racists supported Terry's opponent.  There is no excuse for what they did and their action should end their access to the media and their media appearances. 

John Weaver's use of the organization to target men and to groom a 14-year-old boy for sex wasn't enough for the media to walk away from the group -- which tells you more than you ever wanted to know about the corporate media.  This latest stunt should be.  They are trash.  They have no ethics and they harm.  It's time's up for the Lincoln Project if the media has any sense of decency. 

Iraq held an election October 10th.

Up-pointing red triangle SabereenNews Up-pointing red triangle Protesters block the road to Umm Qasr port in Basra governorate, in protest against election fraud and the commission's ambivalence. The port is Iraq's 2nd largest port in scale of size and goods shipped to the port of Basra,it is strategically important.

Rend al-Rahim is Iraq's former US Ambassador.  At the Arab Center, she writes:

Iraq’s fifth parliamentary election since the 2003 US invasion is procedurally over. The polling stations have closed, but the fight over the results has just begun.

The situation is still in flux. A week after election day, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) is still checking ballots and receiving complaints. Its preliminary results are vehemently contested and there may be minor changes in the final tally. Turnout was low: at 43 percent, it was among the lowest for any election since 2005, signaling  a deep and worrisome distrust in the political process and state institutions. Nevertheless, and despite some operational glitches, the process appeared to go smoothly, with no violence, less fraud than usual, and minimal irregularities. As the the European Union mission to observe the election put it, “Voting on election day was largely peaceful and orderly.”

And they continue to check the ballots and count and, honestly, stall.  No one forced the electoral commission, ahead of the election, to promise that they'd have all ballots counted in 24 hours following the election but that is what the commission promised.  Still we wait all these days later.

NRT has an interesting report.  We'll note it in full:

 Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council announced on Monday (November 1) that the Basra Criminal Court has handed down a death sentence for a suspect accused of killing two journalists last year.

Dijlah TV reporter Ahmed Abdul Samad and camera operator Safaa Ghali were shot and killed while they were covering a protest in Basra on January 10, 2020.

The Council said in a statement that the defendant confessed to all the details of the crime, the aim of which was to destabilize security and stability and spread terror.

The verdict was issued in accordance with the provisions of Article 4/1 of Counterterrorism Law No. 13 of 2005, it added.

Samad was formerly a reporter for NRT.

If true, it's great that the murderer of a journalist is finally being held accountable.

But what's most interesting to me is the one convicted.  


We've long noted -- and decried -- Iraq's televising of confessions (which most likely are forced).  Why is the convicted not named?

A court found someone guilty.  Who?  And what are his or her affiliations?  This should all be part of the public record.  Instead, we're being told that some unnamed person has been found guilty of murdering two journalists.  And that's supposed to pass for informing the public?

In other news, yesterday saw another rocket attack on Baghdad.  Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reports, "Three rockets hit near Baghdad’s Green Zone overnight, the first such attack in more than three months. There are no reports of injuries."  Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) adds, "All three were Katyusha rockets – a rail-mounted weapon based on a Second World War-era Soviet design. They were fired from the Bayaa district, a Shiite area in south-western Baghdad, a police officer said."  As RES notes, "It came at a time when the recount of votes from the early parliamentary elections of October 10 continues."

In other news, Human Rights Watch issued the following Friday:

Dozens of Sunni Arab men who served prison time or were acquitted in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region for Islamic State (ISIS) connections risk rearrest or retaliation if they try to reunite with their families in areas controlled by Baghdad, Human Rights Watch said today. Some of the men were boys as young as 14 when Kurdish security forces arrested them.

The men are currently stuck in a camp in the Kurdistan region, after being released from prison between 2018 and 2020. Security forces are not allowing them to leave the camp to live elsewhere in the Kurdistan region, and they fear for their lives if they were to return home. This stems from a lack of coordination and recognition between the separate judicial systems of the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraq’s Baghdad government, as well as the near-total impunity with which armed groups operating in the men’s home communities arbitrarily detain and even kill those suspected of ISIS affiliation. 

“These men, most of them boys back when ISIS was in control of their areas, have been and continue to be punished, even though many were victims as child soldiers,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “After years of suffering they are still in limbo with no hope for the future.”

In August 2021 Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 men whom the Asayish, the Kurdish security forces, had arrested for alleged ISIS affiliations in 2016 and 2017. Six were children at the time of their arrest. They were among about 65 men at a camp in northern Iraq, controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government, where they resettled after being acquitted or completing a sentence in the region. Though security forces at the camp would let the men leave if they were to return to Baghdad-controlled areas, they do not allow them to leave the camp at all if they want to travel or resettle within the Kurdistan region.

The men interviewed said that they were among about 100 men transferred to the camp in April 2019. Because of the dire conditions in the camp, and because many of them felt they had no future in the country, those who could afford it managed to leave the camp, paying smugglers to take them to Turkey. All of those interviewed said they would go to Turkey if they had enough money.

“My only solution is to leave Iraq and go to Turkey,” one man said. “If I were to go home or anywhere else on the Baghdad side, it wouldn’t just be the courts that would come after me, it would be the tribes, and the PMF [Popular Mobilization Forces – militias formerly under the prime minister’s control]. I have no future here.”

Each of Iraq’s two separate judicial systems have their own counterterrorism laws, which are applied in their courts. As part of their campaign to defeat ISIS, Iraqi and Kurdish security and military forces screened people leaving ISIS-controlled areas and detained those identified as ISIS suspects. They checked the names against “wanted” lists that security forces on both sides had developed since 2014. The security forces compiled the lists from a variety of sources, including public information about ISIS members, names published by ISIS itself, and names provided by informants.

Many relatives of detained ISIS suspects told Human Rights Watch that since 2016, people would submit names because of tribal, familial, land, or personal disputes, falsely accusing them of links with ISIS. People stopped at checkpoints who are on the lists face detention while officials investigate the alleged ISIS-affiliation, usually through interrogations.

Numerous judges and lawyers have told Human Rights Watch that the prosecutions in some cases rely solely on defendants’ confessions, often extracted through torture. Human Rights Watch’s experience monitoring trials in both regions confirms this. In at least 428 cases among almost 800 trials that the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq observed, in addition to confessions, evidence admitted – and primarily relied upon in terrorism prosecutions – included anonymous witness statements and information based on security or intelligence reports.

“Someone from my town who had a grudge arrived in the camp and told the Asayish I had been with ISIS.” said one man who had fled the fighting in 2016 and arrived at a camp in the Kurdish region. “The Asayish beat me until I said I had joined ISIS for four days. They sentenced me, and after over a year in prison they finally released me.”

The men gave Human Rights Watch the names of four individuals, all of whom had been boys when arrested, who had returned home to areas under Baghdad’s control after completing their sentences. The men said that they heard from relatives later that all four were rearrested by Baghdad authorities and were now serving extended second sentences for ISIS affiliation. Sentences for terrorism charges are significantly longer in Baghdad-controlled territories. Human Rights Watch was able to contact relatives of two of the four men and confirm the accounts.

Iraq’s constitution prohibits putting anyone on trial twice for the same crime. While the two regions have separate counterterrorism laws, the offense is ultimately the same and if a person has been convicted in one of the jurisdictions and completed their sentence, they cannot be tried again for the same offense anywhere in Iraq. Iraq’s Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits further action against a defendant, even if new evidence emerges, two years after an investigative judge has issued a decision on the case.

As a priority, Baghdad authorities should ensure that all of the men can obtain up-to-date civil documentation including by sending representatives from the nearest Civil Status Directorate to the camp to issue these documents.

The Kurdish Regional Government should allow the men to reside in any part of the Kurdish region they choose, in line with the general residency requirements the region has in place. It should allow their families to seek residency to join them in the region. It should open the camp and allow freedom of movement to its residents throughout the Kurdistan region, keeping any restrictions on movement strictly necessary, proportionate, and non-discriminatory as compared to those residing in the Kurdistan region. 

“These men have served their time or been acquitted,” Wille said. “Continuing to restrict their ability to return to a normal life is nothing less than unlawful discrimination.”

Real Risks to Return

All of the men said they were afraid of being rearrested or harmed, even killed, if they returned home, even if Baghdad’s High Judicial Council confirmed that they would face no further charges. They also shared that they are not in regular communication with their parents and relatives, fearing that if security forces found out the men were speaking to their family members, they could be arrested, evicted, or otherwise threatened.

One man said that his father, brother, and uncle are ISIS members, and that a unit of the PMF that controls his hometown told his mother and other relatives that he needed to return and provide them with information on his ISIS relatives’ whereabouts.

He said the PMF unit had convinced the local police to issue an arrest warrant for him. They abducted his younger brother and sent the man a photo of the warrant in a message after they got his phone number from the brother’s phone. In the message, which he showed researchers, they said they would use the arrest warrant as grounds to evict the man’s mother and younger brother as an ISIS-affiliated family unless he returned home:

I don’t know what to do. If I go home, I am sure they will try to get information out of me, and then kill me. But if I don’t surrender myself, they will evict my family. They already are watching my mother and don’t let my family move freely.

Another man, whose wife was living in Erbil while he served his prison sentence there, said that she is now living in the camp with him. He described what happened to her in mid-2021 when she travelled from the camp to their hometown via Mosul to visit her family:

When she got to the first Baghdad-controlled checkpoint on the way to Mosul, security forces checked her identity card and then held her for two hours, before letting her go. When they let her go, they told her, “Your husband is wanted. If he doesn’t surrender to us, we will not let you through this or any other checkpoint to visit your family again.”

One man said that in mid-2021 security forces in control of the area where his family lived, forced his mother to open a criminal complaint against him as an ISIS member in order for her to obtain a security clearance to avoid eviction or other forms of collective punishment. This practice is known as tabriya. He said this meant he could never return home. “I am not angry at her for doing this,” he said, “but now that she has, the tribal forces in our area [effectively] have the right to kill me.”

Another problem the men face is an inability to obtain civil documentation. Only three of the men have valid identity cards, which are vital for anyone trying to move around within the country. Many only had childhood documents which are no longer valid.

One man said that his mother tried to get him a new identity card back in his hometown, but when the PMF in control found out from the Civil Status Directorate that she applied for the document, they approached her and told her that if she continued to ask for the identity card, they would evict her from her home.

In addition, most of the former detainees struggled to obtain documents confirming their time in detention, only one of the ten men was given a document upon his release confirming his time served; whereas the rest required legal assistance from nongovernmental organizations to obtain the appropriate documentation after their release.


Baghdad’s High Judicial Council should adopt specific policies and procedures to prevent repeated prosecutions for people who have been acquitted, or convicted and served their sentence for ISIS involvement, whether in the KRI or in other Baghdad-controlled governorates. It should take measures to establish the number of detainees in custody who have already been exonerated or served a sentence for the same crime, and should release or pardon them as appropriate.

Judicial authorities in Baghdad-controlled territories and the KRI should start automatically sharing with each other the judicial paperwork in each case, including release certificates. They should ensure that all former detainees are given release certificates, including those released without charge, with enough specificity to be considered valid, and order their names be removed from “wanted” lists.

All detaining authorities should redouble efforts to bring defendants before a judge within the legally mandated 24 hours, so that if they have served a previous sentence, they will be able to communicate this to a judge promptly and be released. Iraq should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and set up its own independent system to inspect detention centers.

Iraqi authorities should consider alternatives to detention and criminal prosecution for child detainees, and develop rehabilitation and reintegration programs to aid their return to society.

Back in the US, a 40-year-old Iraq War veteran, Tyson Manker, gets some justice.  Stephanie Zimmerman (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES) reports:


But now the Illinois man has won his latest and potentially most broad-reaching battle — this one fought in court. And it should help him and thousands of other U.S. military vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

A preliminary settlement of his class-action lawsuit against the Navy, once finalized, will help veterans given “other-than-honorable” and “general” military discharges due to PTSD — and who, as a result, were locked out of health care, injury compensation, college money and other benefits usually available to vets.

Like Manker, many went untreated and were flagged for behavioral problems.

“Think about how wrong this situation is,” Manker says. “We’re going to send you home with no benefits and with injuries and with this scarlet letter, and ‘Good luck.’ ”

The following sites updated:

No comments: