Thursday, January 19, 2023


Congress should have opposed the merger/buyout of DISCOVERY with WARNER BROS.  It has been a disaster.  Now it has gotten worse:

The widely condemned Saudi Arabian government is making a push into American television.

The CW has entered into an agreement to air the 14 game tournament schedule of LIV Golf. 

The LIV Golf tour is owned by the Saudi Arabian monarchy, and as such has been widely criticized in recent years as part of an attempt to rehabilitate (or in some critics' view, “sportswash”) the Saudi Arabian government’s widely reported human rights abuses. 

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, amongst many other organizations, have roundly condemned the Saudi Arabian government for restricting human rights and civil liberties, particularly women’s rights, as there have been widespread reports of women being sexually assaulted and abused in Arabian detention centers.

That's who DISCOVER wants to give money too.  Shame on them.  Remember that the next time you watch Chip and Joanna.  And don't forget PARAMOUNT GLOBAL and NEXSTAR MEDIA GROUP which are the other two owners of THE CW.  Disgusting.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2023.  Tragedy in Iraq with 2 dead and over sixty injured ahead of the final match in the Arabian Gulf Cup and tomorrow the Belmarsh Tribunal will steer attention to the assaults on press freedom.

As Iraqis geared up this morning for the Arabian Gulf Cup final with Iraq facing Oman, tragedy took place, GULF NEWS notes, "a stampede between fans who had gathered in front of the Palm Trunk Stadium in Basra that hosts the 25th Gulf Cup final."  People began filing into the stadium hours before the game which isn't surprising since that's been the case throughout.  Also the case throughout, the crowd has been increasing.  Monday, when Iraq again won, over three hours before the soccer match began, the stadium was at capacity.  Monday night, the streets of Basra were still filled with near bumper to bumper traffic -- double lane -- as fans demonstrated their excitement and their pride.  

This being the last match, the authorities should have estimated the largest crowd yet and should have prepared that the stadium would again fill to capacity before everyone who wanted to get in could get in.  Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) notes that Basra's Governor Asaad al-Eidnai  warned yesterday that people shouldn't gather outside Palm Trunk Satidum because "this could lead to a stampede and [the] perfect image of our country, hosting this event, could be tarnished only a few hours before the final ceremony."  While it was nice that words were offered the day before, it's a shame that words weren't matched with actions -- setting up precautions to prevent what eventually did happen.

ALJAZEERA has a photo gallery of the huge crowds here and they note, "The Iraqi interior ministry told Al Jazeera that two people had died and about 80 have been in injured in the stampede on Thursday."  Sinan Mahmoud reports, "Hamza Adnan Ahmed, 26, from Baghdad, died after being caught up in the incident, his brother Omar told The National. He had been in Basra since the beginning of the tournament. His brother, cousin and friend were injured."  , and A video sent to CNN showed fans seated inside the stadium after the stampede. Seating areas hosting Iraqi fans were completely full, while the section designated to Omani fans was empty, pending their arrival later in the day." 

Some outlets are offering statements to the effect of, 'After deliberations, the government decided to allow today's match to take place.'  Deliberations?

There were none or should have been none.  What happened was an accident due to poor planning on the part of the government.  Had the match been called off?  Rioting.  That's what would have taken place -- that's in Iraq, that's in the US, that's anywhere.  The excitement level, the expectations, you could not call off today's event for any reason other than weather and not see a riot break out.

At THIRD on Tuesday, we noted, "However the match goes, Iraq's accomplished a lot. [. . .] This is their moment and they should be thrilled.  Now if only the government had the same energy and drive that the team and the fans do."

The death of two and the injuries of many is sad and it's tragic.  Safety precautions which should have been place were not.  That's on the government.

David Sadler (GLOBAL ECHO) explains:

 They meet at Basra Stadium in a match titled “Promising Stars”.

Today, the attention of football fans in the “Arabian Gulf” is directed to the “Basra International Stadium”, which will be the scene of the upcoming final match of “Gulf 25” between the owner of the land and the fans (the Iraqi team) and his Omani counterpart.

The Lions of Mesopotamia is looking forward to winning a fourth title in its history, and the first in nearly 35 years, specifically since 1988 in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, the Omani Red aspires to a third and first title since 2018.


In other news . . .

Kevin Gosztola addresses the plight of Julian Assange in the video above.  US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian and, for those who've forgotten, 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.

Reminder, DEMOCRACY NOW! has a special broadcast this week:

On Jan. 20, Democracy Now! will live-stream the Belmarsh Tribunal from Washington, D.C. The event will feature expert testimony from journalists, whistleblowers, lawyers, publishers and parliamentarians on assaults to press freedom and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Watch here live at 2 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 20.

Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Srecko Horvat, the co-founder of DiEM25, will chair the tribunal, which is being organized by Progressive International and the Wau Holland Foundation.

Members of the tribunal include:

Stella Assange, partner of Julian Assange and member of his defense team

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower

Noam Chomsky, linguist and activist

Jeremy Corbyn, member of U.K. Parliament and founder of the Peace and Justice Project

Chip Gibbons, policy director of Defending Rights & Dissent

Kevin Gosztola, managing editor of Shadowproof

Margaret Kunstler, civil rights attorney

Stefania Maurizi, investigative journalist, Il Fatto Quotidiano

Jesselyn Radack, national security and human rights attorney

Ben Wizner, lead attorney at ACLU of Edward Snowden

Renata Ávila, human rights lawyer, technology and society expert

Jeffrey Sterling, lawyer and former CIA employee

Steven Donziger, human rights attorney

Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief, WikiLeaks

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher, The Nation

Selay Ghaffar, spokesperson, Solidarity Party of Afghanistan

Betty Medsger, investigative reporter

The following sites updated:

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