Wednesday, May 31, 2023

I feel sorry for renters

I could not put up with living in an apartment.  All the traffic and noise.  My cousin Esther lives in an apartment complex.  She calls it a "ghetto."  And Memorial Day (and the day before) were nightmares because she lives by the pool and the ghetto doesn't have anyone lock it up -- just has a sign that the pool closes at 11.  No one enforces it and the noise is appalling.  But she forwarded me two e-mails she got from management yesterday (they were sent to all renters in the complex, my cousin doesn't use the pool because "it's nasty").  First:

Dear Resident(s),

The pool and fitness center are for residents' use only. We allow two guests per apartment, not per lease holder at the pool. Also, we noticed the pool gates and fitness center door not being closed all the way. Please make sure that it shuts securely behind you as you leave.

Kind Regards,


Dear Resident(s),

It was brought to our attention that pets are being brought inside the pool area and were in the pool as well over the holiday weekend. We were also notified that their dirty toys were being cleaned off in the pool as well. We ask that you not clean dirty pet toys in the pool, please. We ask everyone to please abide by the pool rules. Anyone who does not will receive a lease violation and their account will be charged accordingly.

Kind Regards, 

So on the second one -- don't clean your pet toys in the pool but . . . there's no don't bring your pets into the pool.  Did you notice that?

I don't now how Esther puts up with it.  I know it's two blocks from her work and she's trying to walk to work to reduce her carbon footprints but I don't know if I could take it.  

Turning to the news, John Bacon (USA Today) reports:

NASA is holding its highly anticipated public hearing on UFOs Wednesday, seven months after its 16-person team began studying "events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or as known natural phenomena."

Technically the team was studying unidentified anomalous phenomena, UAPs. NASA says they are of interest for national security as well as air safety.

"Without access to an extensive set of data, it is nearly impossible to verify or explain any observation," NASA said when it announced the investigation last year. The focus of the study is determine what data can be collected "to scientifically discern the nature of UAP."

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, said understanding data surrounding unidentified anomalous phenomena is critical to drawing "scientific conclusions about what is happening in our skies. Data is the language of scientists and makes the unexplainable, explainable.” 

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2023.  The hate merchants in charge of the GOP are getting crazier and crazier, Lauren Boebert either doesn't understand the concept of legislative sessions or has no idea that Nancy Pelosi was a Speaker of the House long before Lauren squeaked into Congress, Ron DeSantis continues his failing campaign for president, Iraq still can't produce a budget for 2023, and much more.

Starting with the illiterate in the House, Lauren Boebert.  Someone strung some sentences together and put Lauren's name to it so we'll hold her accountable for what CRAIG PRESS printed.  She wants her constituents to know she's serving them.  She's had this bill and that bill passed and . . .  Wait, what new laws has she authored?


That's right.


We called Bernie Sanders out for this we'll damn well call Lauren for this.  Anyone can get a bill through -- especially through a House their party controls.  But Lauren can't draft any legislation that gets approved by the Senate because she's a whack job.  The crazy wants you to know, "The numbers don't lie."  They don't.  But Lauren does.  

She's not helping anyone with her lies.  

She then wants to say:

Additionally, in our first 100 days, our strong Republican majority has passed more bills and have had more bills signed into law than Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat majority did in its first 100 days. 

Again, bills, not laws.  But let's stop a moment.  How stupid is Lauren?  I know she's illiterate and I know she has a fit when her child calls 911 because he's in fear of his life -- so she's as bad a mother as she is a member of Congress.  But how stupid is she? What is the bottom on her stupidity?

More than Nancy in her first 100 days?  

Which first 100?

Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the house in 2007, in 2008, in 2009, in 2010, in 2011, in 2019, in 2020, in 2021 and in 2022.  

Idiot Lauren does realize that, right?  So is she claiming this happened in 2007 or in 2009 or in 2011 or in 2021?  Which legislative period?  

So eager to claim victory and yet she's already admitting defeat.   Ewan Palmer (NEWSWEEK) reports:

Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert has hit out at the debt ceiling deal negotiated between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, describing it as a "gift" to the Democrats.

Boebert, who is one of several Republican figures who have said they will not support the deal in Wednesday's crucial vote, said that the lack of concessions from Biden's "radical" plans means that the president has come out on top in the negotiations.

[. . .] Boebert said the bill would allow funding for the Inflation Reduction Act, viewed by many across political lines as a revised version of the Green New Deal, which the GOP had strongly opposed. The congresswoman said not enough concessions were made with regard to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to help streamline the approval of projects such as roads and pipelines.

Oh, well.  At least she's still piss cop, right?

Staying with the topic of Republican failures, Ron DeSantis.  Jonathan Turley's crush just can't get it together to save his life or his falterning campaign for president.  Madison Hall (BUSINESS INSIDER) explains:

  • In December 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis led all listed Republican candidates in a Monmouth University poll.
  • At the time, DeSantis had 39% support compared to President Donald Trump's 26%. 
  • New polling from Monmouth University shows that Trump now leads the governor by 24 percentage points.

Republican Rep. Greg Steube claimed on a podcast that presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to primary members of Congress if they endorsed former President Donald Trump over him.

Steube, who represents Florida's 17th Congressional District, relitigated his apparent feelings of contempt for Florida's governor on Monday on Donald Trump Jr.'s podcast, "Triggered With Don Jr." The congressman, who previously endorsed Trump for president, said in April that DeSantis never responded to Steube's attempts to discuss political issues

And in that article, you can find a photo of his man-wife Casey.  She really does look like a man in drag.  And as Ron goes after African-Americans and LGBTQ+ members, let's remember he's targeting families and individuals and, no, this nonsense of 'family is off limits' just doesn't damn well apply.  He's destroying lives in Florida so it's not at all out of bounds to note that the person he crawls into bed with has the body of a man -- including the adam's apple.

His hate has consequences.  Joshua S. Mackey (INTO) notes:

More anti-LGBTQ+ legislation continues to arise within the United States and conservative pressure is starting to dictate what students learn within public education. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, ushered in by Governor Ron DeSantis, has already impacted school curricula within the Sunshine State, prohibiting education surrounding gender and identity,  including LGBTQ+ education. 

An increase in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation means a decrease in education around gender, identity, and sexual health resources for LGBTQ+ students. Unfortunately, this could change the downward trend of HIV infection rates for young gay and bisexual men. Research shows that proper sexual education exponentially decreases HIV infection rates. However, if students in public schools lose access to sexual education resources, infection rates could increase, undoing the work implemented by effective public health measures. 

According to the CDC, 1.2 million people are living with HIV in this country. And 1 in 8 people aren’t aware that they have the illness and HIV status awareness is low within younger demographics, representing 15% of new infections in 2021. So much progress has been made, but it’s evident that the GOP are nowhere near aware of the massive ramifications, including for queer health, that their legislation could have. 

Now we should remember these crazy and crazed hate merchants are defending children.  That's what they say anyway.

Jared Michael Boyce, a recently arrested member of the white nationalist anti-LGBTQ+ organization Patriot Front, has pleaded guilty to possessing images of child sexual abuse. He had previously accused LGBTQ+ people of “grooming children” and advocated for hanging pedophiles and Jews.

FBI agents reportedly found 22 images of child pornography on Boyce’s phone. The images included “children from toddlers to prepubescents performing sexual acts” and also minors “exposing their genitals,” court documents said.

Boyce admitted that the images belonged to him, the court documents added. He also told investigators that he had had “sexually-themed conversations about children” in an online chatroom, had transferred images of child sex abuse, and had sent an explicit photo of his genitals to a 16-year-old girl.

He pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and a misdemeanor of dealing in harmful material to a minor, KSL-TV reported. Though he faced up to 30 years in prison for the crimes, on Tuesday, a judge sentenced him only to a year in prison and three years probation.

Boyce was one of 31 Patriot Front members arrested last June for plotting a riot at a northern Idaho Pride event. The group had crowded into a U-Haul truck that was pulled over by police. The white supremacists were clad in identical khaki pants, dark blue shirts and masks and carried homemade riot gear. They were charged with misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot.

These are the children of professor and professional transphobe Jonathan Turley, the children of Turley breast fed by Ron DeSantis who had to breast feed them because his wife's boobs were too small.

Poor GOP, so many crazies in their party.  Take Tara Reade.  Or let Russia take her.

Tara is back in the news.

Tara started out a Democrat.  But then she became a raging transphobe.  Though she billed herself as an "actress," she wasn't.  She stepped forward in 2019 to state that Joe Biden made her uncomfortable when she worked at his Senate office.  Then in 2020, she stated that he had harassed her and this became his inserting his finger into her private area.  Back then, she stupidly refused to do FOX "NEWS" or anyone who would have her and the reason was her principles.  

Said principles flew out the window rather quickly and she began making transphobic and homophobic statements as she went on Tucker Carlson's program, began reTweeting Scott Ritter (Republican and convicted pedophile who went to prison for it and is a registered sex offender) -- that last bit is when she lost support and even the WE BELIEVE TARA Twitter account stopped promoting her.

Now she's in Russia.  Apparently she no longer works for Kim Iversen -- but will she still continue to reTweet her buddy Marjorie Taylor Greene?

Tara thinks she can say she's defected, request Russian citizenship and still be an American citizen.  It does not work that way.  If you say you're defecting, then you're giving up your citizenship.

Poor dumb Tara.

And dumb people and homophobic people and transphobic people can be assaulted.  So this doesn't mean Tara wasn't assaulted by Joe.  It does mean that most of us no longer give a damn one way or the other.  When you cozy up to a registered sex offender, most of us who would have defended you now won't waste our breaths. 

In 2021, Tara became the Republican Party's problem.  Now she's Russia's problem.  

Turning to Iraq, there's still no federal budget for the year 2023.  Dana Taib Menmy (THE NEW ARAB) reports:

 Negotiations on Iraq’s budget bill for 2023 have been deferred after the parliament's deputy speaker suspended the legislature's finance committee over legal irregularities the and bypassing of a joint agreement between the Iraqi federal government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

"Our committee has been suspended as per a document from the deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament, because our committee members are now 24, while according to law the number should not exceed 23," Jamal Kochar, Iraqi lawmaker from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) bloc and member of the Iraqi parliament's finance committee told The New Arab in a phone interview.

"A political agreement is needed before negotiations on Iraq's budget bill for 2023 resumes. The bill has been stuck at the finance committee because the political agreement between the Iraqi government and the KRG has been violated."

The finance committee on Saturday announced some amendments to the budget bill, including a condition that the Kurdish region must first deliver 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the federal authorities, along with non-oil revenues, before it can receive a share of nearly 12 per cent from the federal budget.

Azhi Rasul (RUDAW) adds:

 The Kurdistan Region’s finance minister on Sunday said that the finance committee in the Iraqi parliament does not have the right to add or remove articles from bills, adding that the new amendments to the draft budget law aim to ruin Baghdad-Erbil ties. 

The Iraqi parliament’s finance committee on Thursday amended two articles of the bill that relate to the Kurdistan Region, prompting the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG| to slam the amendments as “unconstitutional,” labeling them a violation of the previous agreements between Erbil and Baghdad. 

“The Federal Supreme Court decision No. 35 prevents the parliament from changing the texts in the budget bills sent by the government,” KRG Finance Minister Awat Sheikh Janab said. 

According to Janab, the federal court decision specifies that the finance committee maintains the right to change the numbers in the bill or transfer them between articles and paragraphs, but the committee cannot add or remove any paragraph from the bill. 

“Those who truly want Kurds to remain in Baghdad, and those who value the brotherhood between Kurds and Arabs, are worried. This does not seek to help the closeness between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad, but to ruin the relations between the Region and Baghdad,” Janab said. 

The budget.  It was a big deal May 18th when the United Nations Security Council heard testimony on Iraq (see the May 19th snapshot).  

UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert: Madam President, the resources needed to turn certain Government goals into realities, such as adequate public service delivery, should be unlocked with the passage of a federal budget. This is yet to happen and, these days, all eyes are on Iraq’s Council of Representatives. Needless to say: agreement on a functioning budget, sooner rather than later, is critical. Including for the timely organization of the long-awaited Provincial Council Elections, now announced for no later than 20 December this year.  

The United Kingdom's  Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley:  The UK remains committed to supporting the Iraqi Government and the implementation of its ambitious reform agenda. In particular, passing a budget will be a crucial step in delivering the Government’s priorities including on economic reform and energy diversification.

Khanim Latif, founder and director of Asuda for Combating Violence against Women: Finally, we call on the Iraqi Government to allocate a budget for and fully implement the Yazidi Survivors Law adopted in March 2021.[9]

The only one not speaking of the budget that day to the Security Council?  US Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

Every one else thought it was a necessary and worth noting.  Eleven days later and the budget it yet again put on hold.  It's supposed to be passed before the year starts.  That means the budget is 151 days late. 

Iraq's too late -- the whole world is -- to address climate change.  They're using a fix though, for farming, that's actually going to do even more damage.  Timour Azhari and Ahmed Saeed (REUTERS) report:


 Watered by sprinklers fitted to wells dug more than 100 meters under the sun-bleached earth, his land now produces double what it did compared to when he relied on ancient methods that flood fields with river water, he said.

“It’s a golden year, a golden season,” said Salah, wearing a traditional white robe and reflective sunglasses as he walked his field and noted the benefits: less money and water spent, as well as a bigger and quality harvest.

Iraq’s government says this officially supported shift has allowed the country to double areas cultivated with wheat this year to some 8.5 million dunams (850,000 hectares) compared to roughly 4 million (400,000 hectares) last year.

Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Al-Khuzai said that has translated into a harvest of around 4 million tons of wheat — the largest in years and 80 percent of the needs of a country with a 43 million population who eat bread at almost every meal. The shift in methods is driven by necessity: Iraq’s two main rivers, along which civilization emerged thousands of years ago, have lost more than half of their flow due to reduced rainfall, overuse and upstream dams.

Drilling the desert for water could provide immediate relief in a country that the UN says is among the five nations most vulnerable to climate change in the world, and where climate-induced migration has already begun. However, heavy use of the wells could bleed desert aquifers dry, agricultural experts and environmentalists warn. Some farmers have already noted a drop in the water table.

Depleting the aquifers is not an answer, nor is it sustainable.  It will leave Iraq in a much worse situation than it currently is.  And let's remember that currently, Iraq -- if you'd stop the government corruption -- has more than enough money to import wheat.  If climate models do encourage others to finally address climate change, oil revenues will drop for Iraq.  So five, ten years from now, Iraq could find itself with depleted aquifers and with low oil revenues.  This is not sustainable and it is not an answer.

  • BP returned to Iraq in 2009 after a 35-year absence and was awarded a significant interest in the country’s largest oil field near British-occupied Basra
  • BP has pumped 262m barrels of Iraqi oil since 2011
  • Sir John Sawers, the UK’s first special representative to Iraq after invasion, has banked £1.1m since joining BP’s board in 2015
  • Other UK oil “supermajor” Shell also won Iraq contract in 2009 as lead operator developing “super-giant” Majnoon oil field

BP has pumped oil worth £15.4bn in Iraq since 2011 when it began production in the country for the first time in nearly four decades, new analysis shows.

The new information comes on the 20-year anniversary of the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, which was judged to be illegal by the UN. However, neither US president George W Bush nor British prime minister Tony Blair, the leaders who prosecuted the war, have been subjects of a criminal investigation. 

The invasion began in March 2003 and unleashed a catastrophic humanitarian disaster with an estimated 655,000 Iraqis killed in the first three years of conflict, or 2.5% of the population. 

It was widely denounced as a war for oil on the part of the US and UK: Iraq holds the world’s fifth largest proven oil reserves. Iraq had no connection to the September 11th terrorist attacks which had taken place 18 months before and initiated the so-called “War on Terror”. 

The data on BP’s post-invasion production in Iraq comes from the company’s annual reports and was calculated using the average annual price for a barrel of oil for each year of production. 

From 2011-22, BP pumped 262m barrels of Iraqi oil.

Of course it was about oil.

Alan Greenspan, the consummate Washington insider and long-time head of the US central bank, has backed the position taken by many anti-war critics - that the invasion of Iraq was motivated by oil.

His claim comes in his newly published autobiography, The Age of Turbulence, in which he also castigates George Bush's administration for making "grave mistakes" in economic policy.

Sounding more like an activist than a lifelong Republican who worked alongside six US presidents, Mr Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview with the Guardian that the invasion of Iraq was aimed at protecting Middle East oil reserves: "I thought the issue of weapons of mass destruction as the excuse was utterly beside the point."

Mr Greenspan said it was clear to him that Saddam Hussein had wanted to control the Straits of Hormuz and so control Middle East oil shipments through the vital route out of the Gulf. He said that had Saddam been able to do that it would have been "devastating to the west" as the former Iraqi president could have just shut off 5m barrels a day and brought "the industrial world to its knees".

In the book Mr Greenspan writes: "Whatever their publicised angst over Saddam Hussain's 'weapons of mass destruction', American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in the area that harbours a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Asked to explain his remark, he said: "From a rational point of view, I cannot understand why we don't name what is evident and indeed a wholly defensible pre-emptive position."

On September 24, 2007, Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) hosted a debate between Alan Greenspan and Naomi Klein:

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I’m just wondering if it troubles Mr. Greenspan at all that wars over resources in other countries are actually illegal. Mr. Greenspan has praised the rule of law, the importance of the rule of law, in his book. But in his statements about the reasons why this has not been publicly discussed, he has said that it’s not politically expedient at this moment. But it’s not just that it’s not politically expedient, Mr. Greenspan. Are you aware that, according to the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources?

ALAN GREENSPAN: No. What I was saying is that the issue which, as you know, most people who were pressing for the war were concerned with were weapons of mass destruction. I personally believed that Saddam was behaving in a way that he probably very well had, almost certainly had, weapons of mass destruction. I was surprised, as most, that he didn’t. But what I was saying is that my reason for being pleased to see Saddam out of office had nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction. It had to do with the potential threat that he could create to the rest of the world.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yes, I realize that, but he was not simply deposed. The U.S. invaded Iraq, occupied it and took control over its resources. And under international law, that it is illegal to wage wars to gain access to other countries’, sovereign countries’, natural resources.

ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. No, I’m fully aware of the fact that that is a highly, terribly important issue. And as I said in other commentaries, I have always thought the issue of what essentially amounts to what is often called preemptive, preventive action on the part of some countries to secure resources or something else like that, it’s an issue that goes back to the Cold War, when we had the very difficult moral dilemma of what do you do when you think a missile is coming in our direction and you’re not sure whether it’s an accident or not an accident. And that is a problem which I think is a deep moral problem in civilized society. And the issue is one which I don’t think we’re going to resolve very easily. And as you point out, yes, I am a believer in the rule of law, and I think it is a critical issue, not only for domestic economies, but for the world economy as a whole.

It was not about liberation.  It was not about freedom.  It was not about compassion or caring or humanitarian issues.  It was about oil.

New content at THIRD:

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The hideous David Byrne

I always thought Talking Heads was a hugely overrated band.  I can hear "And She Was" or "Burning Down The House" in January and be good for the rest of the year.  They were a minor band -- one top ten hit and two more minor top forty hits.  

The band was the only reason to listen, for the groove.  The singer couldn't sing.  That would be David Byrne.  He was always pompous and irritating. 

He's only gotten worse.  He's about to have a show on Broadway.  But we're also supposed to ignore the fact that he's a scab.  Pitchfork explains:

Here Lies Love, David Byrne’s musical theater collaboration with Fatboy Slim, is slated to begin previews at New York’s Broadway Theater on June 17. Now, as The New York Times reports, a labor union representing Broadway musicians is objecting to the production’s use of instrumental tracks instead of a live band. Byrne and the team behind Here Lies Love later shared a statement in response.

According to the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802, the production’s plan to rely on pre-recorded music violates its contract with the Broadway League, which reportedly dictates that all musicals at the Broadway Theater must employ at least 19 musicians. In a statement to The Times, production spokesperson Adrian Bryan-Brown claimed that the tracks are “part of the karaoke genre inherent to the musical and the production concept,” and have been essential to Here Lies Love from its inception.

Playbill adds:

The musical, according to production spokesperson Adrian Bryan-Brown, has always performed with tracks since it was conceived in 2006. In a statement to Playbill, Bryan-Brown calls the choice "part of the karaoke genre inherent to the musical and the production concept." Here Lies Love contains an electronic and disco-inspired score.

"The music for Here Lies Love was inspired by the phenomena of 'track acts,' which allowed club audiences to keep dancing, much like this production aims to do," continues Bryan-Brown. (It should be noted that earlier stagings included some of the musical's cast playing instruments in two musical numbers and there is also a live DJ.)

The decision has predictably drawn criticism from Broadway musicians. Local 802 of American Federation of Musicians (the union representing Broadway instrumentalists) President and Executive Director Tino Gagliardi told The New York Times, "[W]e're not going to stand by and let this happen. It's not fair to the public."

Our request for comment from union representatives was not returned by time of publication. But AFM is circling a petition, urging signatories to "say NO to canned music on Broadway" and calling Here Lies Love "a direct attack on Broadway audiences, a direct attack on the professional musicians of NYC, and a direct attack on the long tradition of live music on Broadway."

If David doesn't want live music, then don't take your trash to Broadway.  I am happy though that at least he doesn't appear to be exploiting Africans for this project.

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

May 30, 2023.  Julian Assange remains imprisoned.  Many are working to free him and end the persecution.  One supporter says he wants Julian free but is too busy attacking to actually help Julian.

Yesterday, the following was broadcast by Q+A (Australia's ABC):

Jen Robinson is the blond woman in the orange dress in the video above.  She's one of Julian Assange's attorneys. 

Jen Robinson: We addressed a briefing room of MPs.  It was packed to standing room only.  And all of them said the importance of being in that room was not only because he's an Australian citizen and a the free speech implications of this case but because their constituents are on the phone calling for this to happen.  And so I think we now have unity in Australia but the question is what the US government does with it.  And the right thing to do with it is to drop the prosecution because what the United States is doing is prosecuting journalism.  It is criminalizing journalism practices.  It diminishes the moral authority of the United States to raise free speech concerns with any other government.  We've not got Russia using the US precedent, charging a WALL STREET [JOURNAL] journalist, Even Gershkovich, with espionage -- for the first time since 1987 -- off the back of what the US is doing to Julian Assange -- Chinese officials saying 'well don't raise Cheng Lei or other people imprisoned here because you guys are imprisoning Julian Assange.  It diminishes our ability to raise free speech concerns internationally.  But, at the core of it, this is an Australian citizen who is imprisoned for award-winning publications and it is wrong.  And history will look back on this.  And the question is how long we will allow this to go on?  It's already been long enough.

Julian Assange 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.

I'm seeing someone who is completely not helping Julian right now.  He considers himself a journalsit -- he's connected to the sewer that Max Blumenthal now resides in.  Someone who cares abou tthis piece of garbage should pull him aside and say, "Stop."  Because he's not helping Julian with what he's done in the last 24 hours.  

There's a detail about the case that came out in a hearing that we covered years ago.  And we covered the detail in real time.  We continued to mention it afterwards.  And then Michael Ratner asked me a few months later, what's the point of covering it now when Julian's a prisoner?

Michael was right.

It's a fact and it's a pertinent fact.  And we can debate it all we want when Julian's free.  But Julian is not free.  If you're trying to help Julian, the fact that someone has changed their mind -- for whatever reason -- and is saying Julian should be free?  Celebrate that.  Amplify that.  Don't get all bitchy and high and mighty.  That's not helping Julian. 

In fact, why not grasp that one member of the press changing their mind about Julian right now, if publicized and put out there, gives cover for others who maybe just went along with the pack mentality and who could now say, "Well like so and so, I've changed my mind.  Julian needs to be free!"

I know logic and rationality don't thrive in the sewer Max now resides in but someone has to have a modicum of sense -- even there -- and that's who needs to tell the person attacking a member of the press for changing their mind that this is not helping Julian.

Again, I've bit my tongue for years now on one thing.  And it's not a critique.  It's a legal point.  When Julian's free, I'll return to discussing it.  But right now is not the time.

That message will probably fly over Max's buddy's head.  There's no real hope for him.  Like too many of Max's associates these days, the man is a transphobe and is having a meltdown that The Museum of Jewish History noted that trans people were targeted by Hitler.  He's got a Tweet with the 'offensive' over this statement.  Here's what was issued by The Museum that so triggered Maxi's little friend:

Before 1933, Germany was a center of LGBT+ community and culture, with several renowned organizations serving and supporting trans and gender non-conforming people. Hitler’s Nazi government, however, brutally targeted the trans community, deporting many trans people to concentration camps and wiping out vibrant community structures. As transgender people are now increasingly targets of discriminatory legislation and hate, join the Museum for a program exploring these stories and experiences prior to and during the Holocaust.

This panel conversation features Dr. Anna Hájková, Associate Professor of Modern European Continental History at the University of Warwick; Dr. Katie Sutton, Associate Professor of German and Gender Studies, School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at Australian National University; and Dr. Bodie A. Ashton, a Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer at Universität Erfurt, with moderator Rabbi Marisa Elana James, Director of Social Justice Programming at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York.

Watch the program below.

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Recommended Resources
During the program, a number of resources were mentioned for further research. One of these was the book Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature by Max K. Strassfeld. Another was the magazine The Third Sex which was printed in Weimar Germany from 1930-1932. We also recommend historian Jake Newsome’s series LGBTQ+ Stories from the Holocaust, where he shares the true stories of LGBTQ+ people in Nazi Germany.

Learn More About the LGBTQ+ Community in Pre-War Germany
Before WWII, Berlin was a center of life for the LGBTQ+ community. Robert Beachy’s book Gay Berlin chronicles the milieu that gave rise to the international gay rights movement, with key strides made for scientific research, advocacy, and visibility. Learn more in this conversation between Beachy and Eric Marcus, creator of the podcast Making Gay History.

Discover the Life of Eve Adams
Eve Adams was a rebel. Born to a Jewish family in Poland, Adams emigrated to the United States in 1912. She befriended anarchists, sold radical publications, and ran lesbian and gay-friendly speakeasies in Chicago and Greenwich Village. Then, in 1925, Adams risked all to write and publish a book titled Lesbian Love. In a repressive era, when American women had just gained the right to vote, Adams’ association with anarchists caught the attention of the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, leading to her deportation into the Nazis’ reign of terror, where she was sent to Auschwitz and killed. Learn more about Adams’ life in this Museum program.

If you're wondering, that is a year old.  But Max's buddies are slow readers -- whose lips move when they read just as their knuckles drag on the floor when they walk -- and they've only just now discovered The Museum's announcement.

The Museum is addressing events that actually happened.  You don't want to admit that it happened?  I guess that makes you a denier but, hey, you fondle the extreme right-wing with your writing, so you're in denial about a lot of things.  Here are some facts from Holocaust Memorial Day Trust:

By the 1920s, Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code, which criminalised homosexual acts, was being applied less frequently. Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science led the world in its scientific approach to sexual diversity and acted as an important public centre for Berlin lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender life. In 1929 the process towards complete decriminalisation had been initiated within the German legislature.

Nazi conceptions of race, gender and eugenics dictated the Nazi regime’s hostile policy on homosexuality. Repression against gay men, lesbians and trans people commenced within days of Hitler becoming Chancellor. On 6 May 1933, the Nazis violently looted and closed The Institute for Sexual Science, burning its extensive collection on the streets. Unknown numbers of German gay men, lesbians and trans people fled abroad, and others entered into marriages in order to appear to conform to Nazi ideological norms, experiencing severe psychological trauma. The thriving gay culture in Berlin was lost.

The police established lists of homosexually active persons. Significant numbers of gay men were arrested, of whom an estimated 50,000 received severe jail sentences in brutal conditions. Most homosexuals were sent to police prisons, rather than concentration camps, where they were exposed to inhumane treatment. There they could be subjected to hard labour and torture, or they were experimented upon or executed.

An estimated 10-15,000 men who were accused of homosexuality were deported to concentration camps. Most died in the camps, often from exhaustion. Many were castrated and some subjected to gruesome medical experiments. Collective murder actions were undertaken against gay detainees, exterminating hundreds at a time.

During the 1935 redrafting of Paragraph 175 in Germany, there was much debate about whether to include lesbianism, which had not been recognised in the earlier version. Ultimately lesbians and trans people were not included in the legislation and they were subsequently not targeted in the same way as gay men. In Austria, after Anschluss (the annexation of Austria into greater Germany under the Nazi regime), a similar debate led to the inclusion of lesbianism in the penal code. Lesbians suffered the same destruction of community networks as gay men. They were not allowed to play any role in public life and therefore they often experienced a double economic disadvantage.

After World War Two

After the war, the Allies chose not to remove the Nazi-amended Paragraph 175. Neither they, nor the new German states, nor Austria would recognise homosexual prisoners as victims of the Nazis – a status essential to qualify for reparations. Indeed, many gay men continued to serve their prison sentences.

People who had been persecuted by the Nazis for homosexuality had a hard choice: either to bury their experience and pretend it never happened, with all the personal consequences of such an action, or to try to campaign for recognition in an environment where the same neighbours, the same law, same police and same judges prevailed.

Unsurprisingly very few victims came forward. Those who did, even those who had survived death camps, were thwarted at every turn. Few known victims are still alive but research is beginning to reveal the hidden history of Nazi homophobia and post-war discrimination.

I guess that's uncomfortable because it won't help the extreme right-wing -- that group that Max and his buddies try to flirt with these days.  But it is what happened.  And what happened then has resulted in a lot of people being alarmed by what's happening right now.  But if Max Blumenthal called out attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, he couldn't grift to the extreme right-wing for money, now could he?

No, Maxi Pads needs his dollars.  Certainly more than he needs dignity, right?  Or self-respect?  

So following the end of WWII, LGBTQ+ people remained persecuted because of who they were which was too much for the delicate sensibiliteis of the US.  That's outrageous.  It's outrageous that reality was denied and it's outrageous that Max's roll-dog wants to lie about this community today.

But most of all it's outrageous that someone is so damn stupid that they'd rather rag on a reporter for coming around to supporting Julian then try to build support for Julian.  

That is what's needed.  I find Jen's words very encouraging but at present?  All they are right now: Words.  Julian remains imprisoned.  Max and his buddies do get that, right?


OVER THE PAST MONTH, there has been a significant increase in Australian pressure on the Biden Administration to drop the charges against Julian Assange.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – who has been at the forefront of this call – earned the gratitude of Assange's father, John Shipton.

On May 4, Prime Minister Albanese made his strongest statement yet on the Assange issue, declaring:

"The U.S. Administration is certainly very aware of what the Australian government's position is. There is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration."

I'm sure Aaron Mate's busy trying to figure out how to again attack Amy Goodman but she did host a discussion on Julian yesterday on DEMOCRACY NOW!

Here for the transcript, and we'll not attorney Margaret Kunstler:

MARGARET KUNSTLER: Well, I’m not only deeply involved in this lawsuit as a witness, but I am deeply involved in this lawsuit as a plaintiff. And there are many people who — perhaps who are not with us today who would be very happy to hear that the name of the lawsuit was Kunstler against Pompeo.

This is a lawsuit that we hope will, in fact, be one of the major ingredients about why the United States cannot try Julian in this country. They cannot try Julian in this country because they’ve overdone their misconduct. They’ve engaged in the level of misconduct in interfering in the defense of Julian Assange that cannot be tolerated.

And it’s brought in this country so that people can understand just the tip of the iceberg about what has been done to Julian Assange, the actions that have been taken against him. Here, lawyers, doctors and other professionals who visited Julian Assange were — their conversations were recorded. But more than that, their equipment was taken — their telephones and their computers — and they were gone through.

Now, this started happening in 2017. Before that, we had thought that the surveillance of the embassy was to protect Julian. But we found out, through a lawsuit that was brought in Spain, that starting in 2017, the lawsuit had completely — the type of surveillance that was going on had completely changed. And now the surveillance was on a level that has been unheard of in this country and unheard of anywhere in the world, that you would record and take information about conversations, about what plans were being drawn up, about — specifically about the health of Julian and about what was going to be the defense at trial. Now, you’re not allowed to do this. This absolutely violates the concept of justice in this country.

And what caused this? How did we reach this level of hatred, of disobeyance of law when it comes to Julian Assange? Well, it’s significant that it began in 2017, because that was the year that Pompeo came into authority. And Pompeo’s very first speech was that he considered Julian and WikiLeaks a nonstate hostile intelligence agency. Now, to say that was an explanation that Julian had no rights left to him, that they could go in, they could kill him, anything they wanted to do was fair game. And that is something that is so astounding to our level of understanding of justice in this country, that that was the cause of this lawsuit.

And that's how far we got 30 minutes or so ago before the whole thing was lost, so we're going to go ahead and end there to get this up on the website.

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