Wednesday, February 1, 2023

La Brea

La Brea returned to NBC Tuesday night with a new episode and the main question is: Why?

This show gets worse the longer it goes on.

Natalie Z's Eve? I no longer care about her.  The writers have made her a joke, a nag and a bore.  This episode she spent forever telling Sam that they have to use a virus on the tower which will destroy their chances of getting back to their own time but will save many in the future.  We have to watch that dull scene take place over and over only for it to be tossed aside because Gavin can't go through with the plan.

Gavin is, was, remains a weak ass wuss.  Increasing his role and portraying as some sort of a leader has been the destruction of this show.  He's a weakling and the actor who portrays him is a wimp. 

They have killed off a lot of people on this show.  I have no idea why they can't kill off Gavin.

The only characters to care about are Scott, Lucas and Veronica. 

This episode, the camp was about to face a stampede of buffalo.  Lucas came up with the idea of using the hot tar to ward off the buffalo but then a portal opened and ocean water (and fish) poured out, dousing the hot tar.  They then realized that a lot of noise would make the buffalo run the other way so they did that.

Lucas had told Scott that he wanted to save the camp, their home, because of Veronica.  She makes him think he can be better than he is.

When she came back to the camp, they held hands.

They're the only three interesting characters.

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2023.  The Australian government says that they're working to free Julian Assange but where's the proof, another US service member who died in Iraq gets buried, Turkey continues to violate Iraq's national sovereignty and much more

Next month, the Iraq War hits year twenty.  US troops remain on the ground in Iraq.  

32-year-old Staff Sgt Samuel D. Lecce died in Iraq December 19, 2022.  He was a Marine who graduated high school in 2008.  

2008.  He was 18 years old and the Iraq War was five years old.  It was the year Senator Barack Obama was going around lying, "We want to end the war and we want to end it now!"  Samantha Power told the BBC it was a lie.  You can't make a promise, she told them in March of 2008, right now.  You'll figure out what you're going to do, she said, after you're elected.

She gave that interview and another one where she called Hillary Clinton a monster.  The monster got headlines and she was eased out of the campaign but not because of the monster remark, she was eased out because BBC was about to air the interview.  And we couldn't have the Christ-child questioned.  So she was no longer with the campaign and everyone in the US agreed to look the other way and pretend the interview didn't take place.  That includes the coward -- the now dead coward -- Tom Hayden.  He'd bring it up months later when it didn't matter anymore -- sort of the story of his life.

But think about Lecce in 2008, walking down the aisle, being handed his diploma.  You think he expected that the Iraq War would still be going on 14 years later?  Or that US troops would still be dying in Ira1 14 years later.

The insipid Krystal Ball wants to hiss "Grow up!" at people who don't want to get behind snake-oil saleswoman Marianne Williamson.

I'm confused, the Iraq War hits the 20 year mark next month and I've never heard Krystal Ball his "Grow up!" at any of the people in government who started the war or who continue it to this day.

Those who did make an effort to deal with reality tend to get attacked.  At ARAB WEEKLY today, James Zogby writes:

In advance of the February 2003 meeting of the Democratic National Committee, (DNC) Representative Jesse Jackson Junior and I submitted a resolution to encourage debate on the impending war. Using temperate and respectful language, it called on our party to urge the Bush administration “to pursue diplomatic efforts to achieve disarmament of Iraq, to clearly define for the American people and Congress the objectives, costs, consequences, terms and length of commitment envisioned by any US engagement or action in Iraq and to continue to operate in the context of and seek the full support of the United Nations in any effort to resolve the current crisis in Iraq.”

Polling indicated that the majority of Americans and a supermajority of Democrats supported these positions. And we knew that if Democrats failed to challenge the rush to war, we would not only risk losing the support of voters, but also shirk our responsibility to avert a war that would prove devastating to our country and the Middle East region. 

At the DNC meeting, party leaders subjected me to intense pressure to withdraw the resolution. They argued that we needed to defer to the Democratic presidential candidates. With only one major candidate, Howard Dean, vigorously opposed to the war, they claimed that such a resolution would imply support for his candidacy. And, in their view, opposing the war would make it appear that the party was weak on national defence. 

I refused to withdraw the resolution and insisted on my right to introduce it and be heard. 

In my remarks to the committee, I warned that it was unconscionable that we send young men and women to war in a country whose history, culture and social composition we did not understand. I observed that the administration’s miscalculations about Iraq risked beginning “a war without end” and that going to war without UN authorisation jeopardised US legitimacy. I concluded by noting that "raising the right questions, demanding answers and winning allies to our case is not being weak on defence. It's being smart on defence."

After my presentation, the chair ruled that there would be no vote and the resolution died without debate or discussion.

Twenty years later, it gives me no satisfaction to say that we were right to oppose that disastrous war. 

And those who were right get scorned or attacked.  Take Julian Assange. 


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.

Late last night, Oscar Grenfell (WSWS) reported:

In response to freedom of information (FOI) requests by former federal parliamentarian Rex Patrick, multiple departments of the Australian Labor government have confirmed that they have made no representations to the US administration of President Joe Biden relating to Julian Assange.

The information, revealed in an article by Patrick on the Michael West Media website, is a damning indictment of the Labor government.

Since it was elected last May, Labor has said as little as possible on Assange. Its representatives, including Albanese, have hinted at backroom discussions with the Biden administration, but their content and purpose has remained entirely opaque.

These purported conferences have been used to justify the refusal to forthrightly defend the persecuted Australian journalist on the grounds that diplomacy is best conducted, in Albanese’s words, without a “megaphone.”

In response to growing condemnations of these claims as a cynical dodge, Albanese made his most explicit comments on Assange since becoming prime minister last November. In response to a question from independent MP Monique Ryan, Albanese restated earlier declarations that “enough is enough” in relation to Assange’s legal plight.

Albanese said: “The government will continue to act in a diplomatic way, but can I assure the member for Kooyong that I have raised this personally with representatives of the United States government. My position is clear and has been made clear to the US administration that it is time that this matter be brought to a close.”

Contrary to Albanese, many things remained decidedly unclear. What exactly was the government requesting of the US administration? Had it explicitly demanded an end to the US attempt to extradite and prosecute Assange for exposing American war crimes? Were these demands backed by any threats of retaliatory action if they were not met, and more?

Previous FOI documents obtained by lawyer Kellie Tranter in July, had highlighted these questions. Internal talking points from the office of Labor’s Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus had focussed solely on the prospect of a “prison swap” involving Assange. That would presuppose his extradition to the US and conviction on trumped-up Espionage Act charges carrying a maximum-sentence of 175-years imprisonment.

Also noting that reality is Paul Oboohov (GREEN LEFT) who also notes that Australians protested outside the US Embassy in Australia "to call on US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to intercede on behalf of Julian Assange."  And Latika Bourke (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) reports:

Foreign Minister Penny Wong says the rule of law must be applied to Julian Assange, dampening hopes that her government is about to secure the WikiLeaks founder’s freedom.

Assange is being held in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison where he is appealing his extradition to the United States to face charges related to the theft of hundreds of thousands of secret cables from the US government, which WikiLeaks published in full, more than a decade ago.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had raised the matter with the US and British governments, raising hopes among Assange’s supporters that the Australian could walk free from jail without being extradited to the US to face trial.

Asked about the matter during a news conference in London on Wednesday morning (AEDT), Wong said it was “not a decision for the Australian government” and pointed to the legal processes under way.

Will Julian ever be free?  Chris Hedges asked that question recently.

Chris speaks with Gabriel Shipton who directed ITHAKA.   A transcript of the above interview can be found here.

Gabriel Shipton: Yeah, so this dehumanization of Julian, it really serves the persecution of Julian. It allows the public to switch off. This isn’t happening to a human being. People can say, “Well…” Julian hasn’t been able to attend his own court proceedings since January, 2021. He applies to attend the court proceeding and the applications are refused, not given a reason. And this is really to take Julian from view, take him from view. The classic photos that often appear of Julian are the ones of him traveling to and forth from the prison to the court. And even those moments have been taken away. He’s been dehumanized to that level that those photos inside the prison van have been taken away. He has also, part of that-

Chris Hedges: They blocked the windows, they colored the windows over so photographers couldn’t shoot in, is that correct?

Gabriel Shipton:  Well, the photographers hold up the camera and the flash goes in, but they can’t really see, but you can get a photo, that’s those photos of Julian with a long beard, with his hand signs and things like that, they’re from the prison van that goes back and forth from the court. But he hasn’t been allowed to attend his own court proceedings in person since that date. And yet that’s part of this process of dehumanization that it allows for this persecution. It’s one of the elements of this persecution, his dehumanization. So yeah, it was really important for us to really lean into this humanistic side of this story and humanize Julian in that sense.  When you talk about the families who are suffering or how the families experience the incarceration of Julian, and Stella talks about going to visit Julian and the procedure that her and her children have to go through to enter the visitor’s area, and it is oppressive. And there’s two little children in this, a three and a five year old whose mouths are searched, who have sniffer dogs sniffing at her hair. A big German shepherd dog comes up to the child and sniffs the back of their hair. So these sort of moments, it has an effect. It has an effect on the family, it has an effect on these children. And I think it’s deliberate, it’s very deliberate that Julian’s being kept in a maximum-security prison. It’s very deliberate that his family has to go through this procedure. They have to feel this persecution as well as Julian, it’s not equal to what Julian’s going through, but as you say, the families of those who are incarcerated are in a way incarcerated as well.

Chris Hedges: There’s a moment in the film where John, your father, expresses the fear that they’re trying to kill Julian. And I know the family has always been very reluctant to speak about the psychological and medical condition of your brother. However, in the court proceedings, there was much that was revealed about his physical and psychological state. And I don’t want to push you too hard on this, but at least if you can relate the information that came out in court, because there’s a clear deterioration and I think many of us feel that’s by design.

Gabriel Shipton:  Well, I can describe it how I observe it when I go and see Julian, or I saw him last October. I don’t get to see him that often, obviously our family’s been torn apart. So I live in Australia, so whenever I’m in the UK I make sure that I go to see him at the prison, obviously. But the gradual deterioration over the years that he’s been kept in there is very, very obvious to me. Physical, his physical wellbeing, his mental wellbeing, as well as the expert testimony, expert witness testimony.  But yeah, over the years you can see that he is in gradual decline and he obviously had this stroke, minor stroke at the end of last year. And the effects of that, it doesn’t just go away. This minor stroke is evidence that this whole never ending procedure, these oppressive prison conditions are really taking its toll on his body physically, that that has pushed him to have this sort of episode.  So that’s how I see it. When I go and visit him, we try and have a laugh, we try and joke and we try and talk about lighter things or I know I do. Obviously we always tell him about what’s going on in the world, who said to say hello, which of his old friends that we’ve met around the place. But those visits are precious times when we can sort of be together as we once were and joke and laugh and try and forget all the troubles that exist around him.

REUTERS notes, "Unidentified attackers fired eight rockets at a Turkish military base in northern Iraq on Wednesday, two of which landed inside, the Counter-Terrorism Group, a security organisation in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, said."  THE NATIONAL adds:

Shortly after Wednesday's attack, the Free People of Iraq Brigade, or Liwa Ahrar Al Iraq, said it was behind the attack, but gave no details.

The group is known for its attacks against Turkish troops in northern Iraq. It first claimed responsibility for an attack on troops in June 2022.

Yesterday, REUTERS noted:

Looming over the deserted village of Sararo in northern Iraq, three Turkish military outposts break the skyline, part of an incursion that forced the residents to flee last year after days of shelling.

The outposts are just some of the dozens of new military bases Turkey has established on Iraqi soil in the past two years as it steps up its decades-long offensive against Kurdish militants sheltered in the remote and rugged region.

"When Turkey first came to the area, they set up small portable tents, but in the spring, they set up outposts with bricks and cement," Sararo's mayor Abdulrahman Hussein Rashid said in December during a visit to the village, where shell casings and shrapnel still litter the ground.

"They have drones and cameras operating 24/7. They know everything that's going on," he told Reuters, as drones buzzed overhead in the mountainous terrain 5 km from the frontier.

Turkey's advances across the increasingly depopulated border of Iraqi Kurdistan attract little global attention compared to its incursions into Syria or the battle against Islamic State, but the escalation risks further destabilising a region where foreign powers have intervened with impunity, analysts say.

Turkey could become further embroiled if its new Iraqi bases come under sustained attack, while its growing presence may also embolden Iran to expand military action in Iraq against groups it accuses of fomenting unrest at home, Kurdish officials say.

You think?

Returning to the topic of yesterday's snapshot, let's include a few videos.

Also on the topic, please check out Ann's "The ultimate Karen (Krystal Ball) calls 9-1-1."  Ann's a Green with Green parents who the hell is Krystal Ball to hector Ann about how she needs to vote?  The entitlement reeks, Krystal really needs to check her own ego.  

The following sites updated:

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