Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
A High Court judge in London has denied Julian Assange permission to appeal an order to extradite him to the United States, where he faces criminal charges under the Espionage Act.
The decision was dated Tuesday and is the latest in a years-long legal saga. His camp told CNN on Thursday that they will lodge a new appeal next week.
In a ruling dated June 6, 2023 and seen by CNN, Mr. Justice Swift said Assange’s application had been refused stating that “none of the four grounds of appeal raises any properly arguable point.”
The Wikileaks founder's legal team is to mount a final attempt in British courts to stop the 51-year-old Australian facing a “political prosecution” and up to 175 years in jail.
His wife Stella confirmed today that Mr Justice Swift had rejected all eight grounds of his appeal against extradition, which was ordered by Priti Patel as home secretary last year.
She said he will make a renewed application for appeal at the High Court next Tuesday, which will proceed to a public hearing before two new High Court judges.
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.
The appeal rejection has come as a kick in the guts to the rising local movement to see the Townsville-born son’s case dropped and for him to return home, and not only are larger numbers of the community now rallying, but there’s also bipartisan federal leadership support for his release.
But that united front to see the Australian citizen set free from the torture of our closest allies, was already flattened, when it was revealed that the Biden administration is still sharpening its knives in preparation, as it’s come to light that the FBI has reopened its investigations into Assange.
As foreign minister Penny Wong notoriously explained in February, her government has and will continue to express to the US and UK that the case has “dragged on too long”, but, as for intervening further, she said, it’s not possible as in “both countries… we’re discussing, the rule of law prevails”.
Yet, whilst this assertion by the minister for foreign affairs might be uncontroversial in general, this case is a glaring anomaly to the rule of law, with the Assange Campaign having pointed this out clearly, on Thursday, as it listed the grounds of appeal that the UK justice system just knocked back.
Assange’s lawyers put to the High Court that Patel’s extradition approval is problematic as it violates article 4 of the UK-US Extradition Treaty of 2003, which specifically denies extradition for a political offence or if the extradition is politically motivated, with both these points applying to this case.
While section 81(a) of the Extradition Act 2003 (UK), specifically prohibits an extradition, which purports to be in regard to an extradition-permitted offence, when in fact the request has been “made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his… political opinions”.
Further grounds of the appeal were that Assange is “being prosecuted for protected speech”, “the US has misrepresented the core facts” in the British courts, the case further violates international law, and the “request and its surrounding circumstances constitute an abuse of process”.
A key breach of the rule of law Assange legal advisor Greg Barns SC has often pointed to is the US claim to extraterritoriality, as Washington has reached across borders to arrest a foreign national under its domestic espionage laws, due to journalistic acts carried out on the soil of another country.
“The extraterritorial reach of the proposed prosecution is so dangerous because, one day, it could be another Australian journalist or publisher who finds themselves on an extradition request,” Barns said in February.
The US arrested Assange by proxy in the UK on 11 April 2019, on a trumped up computer hacking charge, and by May, a superseding indictment added an additional 17 charges under the US Espionage Act of 1917, while a further second superseding indictment was released in June 2020.
Assange is being pursued as, much to the chagrin of the White House, he published thousands of classified US files, leaked by then US army officer Chelsea Manning over 2010-11, which exposed extensive war crimes. And despite claims to the contrary, he did redact names to protect lives.
Five major mastheads joined publishing site WikiLeaks in printing the same details as it did. But the US has only charged Assange in relation to this, via offences relating to obtaining and publishing unredacted materials, with all the charges combined carrying a maximum of 175 years in prison.
Turning to Iraq, Taif Alkhudary (ALJAZEERA) reports:
On April 21, Ali Hussein Julood, a 21-year-old living in the Iraqi town of Rumaila, on the outskirts of one of the world’s largest oil fields, died from leukaemia. He was told by doctors that pollution from gas flared in the nearby field, which is operated by British Petroleum (BP), had likely caused his cancer.
“Gas flaring” is a low-cost procedure used by oil companies to burn off the natural gas expelled during drilling. A waste of valuable natural resources, it also contributes to global warming and causes dangerous air pollution that has been linked to severe health problems in nearby populations. Some of the pollutants released during this process, such as benzene, are known to cause cancers and respiratory diseases.
Ali, who had been battling cancer for six years when he died, was only the latest victim of the environmental degradation caused by international oil companies like BP in Iraq. In towns and villages near the country’s vast oil fields, thousands of other men, women and children are still living under smoke-filled skies and suffering avoidable health problems because company executives insist on putting profit before lives.
While there is not much publicly available data on the rates of pollution-related illnesses in areas near oil fields in southern Iraq, a confidential report from the Iraqi health ministry recently obtained by the BBC blamed pollution from gas flaring, among other factors, for a 20 percent rise in cancer in Basra, southern Iraq between 2015 and 2018. A second leaked document, again seen by the BBC, from the local government in Basra showed that cancer cases in the region are three times higher than figures published in the official nationwide cancer registry.
Iraq's parliament on Monday approved a 2023 budget of 198.9 trillion dinars ($153 billion) that sets out record spending on a growing public wage bill and development projects to improve services and rebuild infrastructure ruined by neglect and war.
The budget deficit is estimated at a record 64.36 trillion Iraq dinars, more than double the last budget deficit in 2021, according to a budget document and lawmakers.
It only took over six months and a scolding from the United Nations' Security Council, but they finally passed a 2023 budget. Sinan Mahoud (THE NATIONAL) adds:
But analysts said far too much money will be spent on salaries, including allocations for hundreds of thousands of new jobs. They said Iraq will not be able to afford this spending outlay if oil prices fall below $70.
The operational expenditure stands at 133.22 trillion dinars (about $102.5 billion) while investment expenditure will be 49.35 trillion dinars ($37.9 billion). The remainder of expenditure will mainly go to debt servicing.
It is based on an assumed average oil price over three years of $70 a barrel, with an average daily crude oil output of 3.5 million barrels, including 400,000 from the Kurdistan region.
The government of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani is planning to repeat it next year and in 2025, although parliament will be able to vote on amendments. Iraq’s fiscal year usually starts on January 1.
So the fun begins again. KURDISTAN 24 notes, "A top Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official in Baghdad said on Sunday that efforts to weaken Kurdistan Region as a constitutional entity in the 2023-2025 budget bill have failed. The remarks by Ashwaq Jaf, the head of KDP’s 5th Baghdad Branch, came a day after the Iraqi lawmakers passed on the controversial articles of the budget bill, Article 14, concerning the Kurdish region’s oil export, management, and distribution of its revenues." AFP adds, "The new budget also sets aside $37.9 billion for investments, with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani noting that his 'priority' is to develop infrastructure in a country where basic services have long been sorely lacking." Hussain Abdul-Hussain (ALJAZEERA) reports:
Iraq is about to approve a budget that allocates $2.8 billion to the Shia militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), marking an increase of $600 million from the previous budget in 2021.
The additional government money will allow PMUs, of which pro-Tehran Kataeb Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl Alhaq (also known as the Khazali Network) and the Al Ashtar Brigades are on the United States’ list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations, to nearly double their ranks from 122,000 to a staggering 238,000.
The increase in funding and personnel is inexplicable, given that the PMUs were formed to eradicate ISIS, which is now suppressed. With an annual deficit close to $50 billion and with Baghdad raising taxes to make ends meet, it is even more puzzling that Iraq is still funding a paramilitary force, whose budget equals 40 percent of the Iraqi defence ministry and whose size is bigger than regular armies of neighbouring countries, such as Jordan and Kuwait.
Not every YOUTUBER was producing fan-boi content over the weekend. For example, the vanity run of Cornel West was seriously addressed.
What? You were expecting two White boys b.s.-ing about things they know nothing about? No, we're not noting that VANGUARD nonsense. For an outlet that attacks Jimmy Dore constantly, they have no self-awareness, do they? Joan Walsh is one voice at THE NATION. She's not a voice that I value and I didn't value her at SALON. But the boys of THE VANGUARD are a lot like Joan Walsh. The reason I have no use for Joan is that she generally doesn't know what she's talking about. In the '00s, we corrected her nicely -- Ava and I -- when, at SALON, she confused Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris. It's not easy to do that today and it wasn't easy to do that back then.
So I don't like little boy idiots who see their life's goal to be defending Krystal Ball -- a far worse figure than Joan Walsh -- or telling lies about Cornel's great big opportunities. The Green Party is not going to gift the nomination to Cornel West. Nor are they likely to allow him to share the nomination because they do not want to be confused -- pay attention -- with a GUTTER PARTY and that's all The People's Party is. Scandals about where the money went, scandals about sexual assault, scandals about this, Tweets and efforts to be more right-wing-than-FOX "NEWS."
The Green Party has spent years on ballot access. It is very unlikely that the political party will decide to destroy their work and their image by getting in bed with a political party with so many issues. Gavin and Zac need to learn. They need to have an education.
I don't give a f**k what Chrissy Lynn Hedges whispers. He's a stupid ass who promoted the false link between Iraq and 9/11 -- and did so on the front page of THE NEW YORK TIMES. You dumb idiots who refuse to do the work required and get on board with Chrissy Lynn -- or for that matter with Oliver Stone and his lobbying for the nuclear industry. Your stupidity hurts us, grasp that.
Now if you knew your history, you'd know that the Green Party was offered a candidate before. No, I'm not talking about the wrestler. And the candidate was a bigger name than the wrestler and Cornel combined. And the Green Party said? No.
Because they are independent party. On the wrestler, he wanted the party to gift him with the nomination. The Green Party said "no." You want their nomination, you campaign for their nomination.
Unlike The People's Party, they're a real political party.
Now The People's Party, please remember, was, like Max Blumenthal's wife, part of that hideous February action where they got on stage with right wingers who were racists and who were homophobic and transphobic.
Do you remember the response from The Green Party? Probably not because YOUTUBERS don't do a lot of homework. But we posted it here. And their response was they were not taking part in that 'action.' They issued a statement to make that clear. They would not go onstage with right-wingers (and pedophiles -- remember The People's Party planned to have that convicted pedophile on stage as well).
So, no, you stupid hacks, the Green Party is not gifting Cornel with their nomination.
That's not a mistake, the video above. We posted Olayemi Olurin's video again. Because it's informative. Gavin and Zac, do some actual work and stop whoring. Actually, "whoring" is the wrong term. Whores work. Gavin and Zac think they can scan the headlines and then bulls**t for 30 or so minutes. I didn't like losers like that in grad school and I don't like them on YOUTUBE. Know what you're talking about, do some actual research. I'm just not in the mood.
There were a hundred other issues I wanted to cover but we don't have the time this morning. We will note Matteo Lane's new comedy special that debuted on YOUTUBE last night.
Added: Wally asked me to add this -- it went up here Sunday night:
In the US and da Do-Do Ron Ron DeSantis saw his people rally for him over the weekend in Florida. Grace Hauck (USA TODAY) reports:
About 15 people with flags displaying Nazi insignia gathered outside Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, as others displayed messaging in support of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office said deputies responded to the demonstration, which dissipated after about two hours with no arrests. Two counter-protesters also showed up, the office said.
"We are aware of these groups that aim to agitate and incite people with anti-Semitic symbols and slurs. They are also aware of the law," the office said in a statement. "The Orange County Sheriff’s Office deplores hate speech in any form, but people have the First Amendment right to demonstrate."
Oh, da Do-Do Ron Ron, da Do-Do Ron Ron. Your people have embraced you. Too bad for you, the rest of America finds those people revulsive.
The following sites updated: