Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Please stream this investigative report

 Queer News Tonight made a great documentary last week.  If you've already streamed it, great.  If not, please stream it.  And please consider sharing it with your friends.

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2023.  The persecution of Julian Assange continues, a 'beloved' American male  conservative appears to have forgotten his wife when he was groping a man, Iraqis celebrate a strong performance in the Gulf Cup, and much more.

Starting with Julian Assange.

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.

In the video below, Kevin Gosztola speaks with Lee Camp discuss the spying on Julian Assange.

In 2010, Chelsea Manning used her position as a United States Army intelligence analyst to copy hundreds of thousands of documents related to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving them on a CD labelled “Lady Gaga” as a disguise. Manning then sent the files to WikiLeaks, including the famous Collateral Murder video showing US troops laughing after shooting dead a group of Iraqi men, including two journalists. (All the men were civilians but some were armed.) Manning was later sentenced to 35 years in jail for America’s largest-ever leak of classified information.

Today, Manning is a free woman and celebrated transgender icon who recently published a memoir and spins tracks ranging from Britney Spears to a remix of the Succession theme song for Brooklyn ravers in her spare time. Barack Obama commuted Manning’s remaining jail time on compassionate grounds in one of his last acts in office, allowing her to return to civilian life in 2017.

Meanwhile, the man who published Manning’s leaked documents, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is languishing in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, surrounded by notorious murderers and rapists. For the past four years, the US Justice Department has been attempting to extradite the Australian to face trial on 17 counts of breaching the Espionage Act plus a separate hacking-related charge. It’s the first time the act has ever been used against someone who received and published classified information, as opposed to leaking it.

Julian Assange needs to be free.

Did Matt Schlapp free himself?


WIKIPEDIA tells you that he's "an American political activist and lobbyist who is chairman of the American Conservative Union.[1] He leads the lobbying firm Cove Strategies, which had strong ties to the Donald Trump administration.[2] He is also a Fox News political contributor.  Schlapp was President George W. Bush’s deputy assistant and political director during Bush's first term.[3] He is married to Mercedes Schlapp, who was President Donald Trump's Director of Strategic Communications."  Those are the credits Schlapp wants the world to know about.  Is he also a groper?

Christian Walker, the gay son of failed GOP Senate candidate and retired NFL player Herschel Walker, has called on influential Republican Matt Schlapp to resign as the lead organizer for the far-right Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after Schlapp’s alleged sexual misconduct with a male staffer who worked for Herschel Walker’s campaign.

In a video rant posted to Twitter, Christian Walker said, “Matt Schlapp — head of CPAC, big ‘family values’ conservative guy, married to a woman, they have five children together — Took one of my dad’s campaign staffers out for drinks … and when the staffer was dropping Matt off at his hotel, Matt reached over, inappropriately grabbed the staffer, but here’s the kicker: The staffer is a man married to a woman… and then, when they get to the hotel, Matt Schlapp invites the staffer up to his hotel room.”

Walker notes that the staffer reported Schlapp’s alleged behavior to other officials in Herschel Walker’s campaign.

“Matt pulls a typical predator move,” Walker continues. “Texts the guy back when the guy is not answering his calls. He texts him, ‘If you can find it in your heart to, give me a call,’ because Matt knows he’s been caught now. So when he’s on campaign trips away from his wife and children, he’s trying to hook up with men??!”

The bombshell allegation, first reported by The Daily Beast, focused on Schlapp allegedly making “sustained and unwanted and unsolicited” sexual contact with the staffer while the staffer drove Schlapp back from a bar in October. The staffer alleged Schlapp “groped” and “fondled” his crotch without consent in the car.

An attorney for Schlapp called the claims an “attack” and said Schlapp “denies any improper behavior.” It is unclear if Herschel Walker was made aware of the allegations at the time.

But his son is adamant that action must be taken.

“Honestly, it’s just disgusting that someone as powerful as Matt Schlapp is [preying] on campaign staffers,” Walker said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “I feel terrible for his wife and children.”

"He reached in between my legs and fondled me," the former Walker staffer told NBC News in a telephone interview Thursday night. "To my shame, I didn’t say anything" to stop Schlapp. NBC News is withholding the staffer’s name at his request because he fears the allegations against a powerful Republican could harm his own career in GOP politics.

Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, is married to former Trump White House aide Mercedes Schlapp. His organization hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference, a crucial proving ground for Republican presidential hopefuls.

Schlapp did not respond to text messages seeking comment, including one detailing each point of his accuser’s story. His lawyer, Charlie Spies, did not immediately return a call from NBC News seeking comment on the allegations. But Spies did tell The Daily Beast, which first reported on the staffer’s story, that Schlapp had denied them.

It appears Schlapp, a fifty-plus year old man, assaulted a young man.  That is very likely to take place when you live your life in a closet.  It's not that shocking to most of us.  It is shocking to the homophobes.  Maybe if they'd address their own issues, they'd stop hurting others and stop persecuting the LGBTQ+ youth of this country.

That is what they are doing.

 In our recent analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, we found that the odds of being a violent hate crime victim for LGBTQ people was nine times greater than it was for cisgender and straight people from 2017 to 2019.

There were an average annual 6.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 LGBTQ people during this three year period.

In contrast, there were 0.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 cisgender and straight people.

A hate crime is an attack or threat of an attack that’s motivated by the victim’s perceived race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or religion. Or it could include someone’s association with any of the previous categories, such as an anti-Muslim hate crime committed against someone who is Sikh.

The National Crime Victimization Survey is a nationally representative survey that asks over 200,000 people about non-fatal crimes that happened to them in the past year.

 Andres Gutierrez (Detroit's CBS NEWS) adds:

A recent survey reveals almost half of young people in Michigan's LGBTQ community have considered taking their own lives. 

The data comes from the Trevor Project, which is calling for increased support and resources.

To Brenden Bell, the care manager at Affirmations, an LGBTQ center in Ferndale, it's not surprising to hear of a staggering statistic: 45% of kids and teens in Michigan's queer community have seriously considered suicide in the past year.

"The LGBTQ+ community, especially the youth, are not feeling safe right now," Bell said. 

The study shows another 15% have attempted suicide.

It's time to stop pretending.  Like the people who work with Schlapp who keep coming forward insisting "Matt would never do this."  You should consider the assault a possible cry for help.  If you're really his friends you might make it clear that it's okay for him to come out.

But how could homophobes do that?  They'd have to be caring people.  And caring people are not people who go out of their way to make children's lives more difficult.  They pretend that they want to 'save' the children.  That's not what they're trying to do and that's not what they're doing.  They're hurting LGBTQ+ youth across the country and they need to be called out for what they're doing.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) will lead the Congressional Equality Caucus — formerly known as the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus — in the 118th Congress, the group announced Monday. He will succeed outgoing Chairman Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will continue to serve as one of the caucus’s six openly LGBTQ co-chairs.

Pocan, who as chairman of the Equality Caucus is responsible for setting the group’s agenda for the next two years, wrote in a statement on Monday that one of the caucus’s top priorities will be combating anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric that have perpetuated a cycle of violence against LGBTQ people.

“We are witnessing a dangerous increase in anti-LGBTQI+ hate, legislation, and violence that we must forcibly push back against and defeat,” he said. “The Equality Caucus will do everything in our power to defeat anti-LGBTQI+ bills and amendments proposed by extremist anti-LGBTQI+ politicians this Congress, especially those targeting our transgender and nonbinary community members.”

Moving over to Iraq, they have been hosting the Gulf Cup in Basra.  Julian Bechocha (RUDAW) reports:

The Iraqi national team prevailed over Saudi Arabia during a Monday contest at the 25th Gulf Cup held in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, with the Lions of Mesopotamia winning 2-0. 

A first-half goal by midfielder Ibrahim Bayesh and another by Kurdish forward Aso Rostam during the dying moments of the fixture ensured Iraq a much-needed win in Group A of the tournament. 

“We wish our Iraqi national team more victories in the Gulf Championship 25, which bears a special character, as it is held on the lands of Basra,” Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani said following the victory. 

“Congratulations to the Lions of Mesopotamia,” Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi tweeted, using the moniker referring to the Iraqi national football team. 

Iraq defeated Saudi Arabia 2-0 on Monday evening at a near-waterlogged Basra International Stadium to go top of Group A after two games in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

 Despite conditions that bordered on the farcical, Ibrahim Bayesh’s first-half goal put the hosts in control before Aso Rostam sealed the win just before the end.

It means that in the final round of games in the group on Thursday, a point for Iraq against Yemen will be enough, while Saudi Arabia will probably have to beat Oman to progress.

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