Friday, December 30, 2022

Vivienne Westwood

That's a runway show from the 90s of Vivienne Westwood's fashions.  She was a hugely influential designer and she has now passed.  VOGUE notes:

The British designer and activist Dame Vivienne Westwood was a pioneer whose impact on the fashion world was immeasurable. Not only did she consistently deliver groundbreaking designs throughout her six-decade career, but she also used the runway as a platform to telegraph her commitment to political causes from the climate crisis to the blurring of traditional gender boundaries.

Following news of the extraordinary designer’s passing yesterday at the age of 81, Westwood’s industry friends, collaborators, and admirers have been paying tribute on social media, from Naomi Campbell (who famously fell off her teetering platforms on the designer’s fall 1993 runway), Bella Hadid, and Donatella Versace to Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney. 

Here are some videos noting Vivienne's passing.

"Iraq snapshot' (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, December 30, 2022.   REUTERS lies for Moqtada again, ISIS remains active in Iraq (as CENTCOM admits), a former prime minister denies abuse allegations made by THE WASHINGTON POST, Glenn Greenwald and that Mother Tucker Carlson continue their "Bad Bromance" and much more.

2022 is not over but it is winding down.  In his last column for the year, Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) looks back at the year and notes many things including:

+ Glenn Greenwald’s insta-column posted soon after the Buffalo massacre is one of his most revolting. It read less as a defense of his pal Tucker Carlson than a “manifesto-by-proxy” of Glenn’s own rancid views on immigration…

+ After Greenwald’s full-throated defense of Replacement Theory, you wonder how much longer he’ll have any utility at all to the rightwing roosts he’s been perching on for years, where he was only useful because they portrayed him as a left-winger attacking the Left. Now he’s clearly just another reactionary craving the spotlight to air his writhing knot of grievances. But Glenn’s not nearly as entertaining as the 100-proofers Marjorie Taylor Greene, Dan Bongino or Gregg Gutfeld. More & more, his airplay on Fox will be “replaced” by Gabbard.

[. . .]

+ Five minutes after Paul Gosar (Bigot-AZ) claimed that the Ulvade mass murderer was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien”, Glenn is lamenting to his soul(less)mate Tucker Carlson how the left is politicizing the shooting…


It's been quite a year for Glenn.  Not one of accomplishment.  He hasn't accomplished anything in 2022.  He's Tweeted.  He's rolled dogged -- not raw dogged -- with his buddy Tucker Carlson providing cover for Tucker to hide behind as Tucker continues to attack the LGBTQ+ community.  Glenn did that in college too -- he chuckled at anti-gay 'jokes' and cozied up to the anti-gay people.  made him feel cool in his acid washed jeans and he liked being the token.

It's a difficult time for him now.  His husband could die at any moment, for example.  Glenn's decided that instead of hanging around the hospital -- the way, say Debbie Harry did when Chris Stein got ill -- a boy's just got to Tweet and start a new daily talk show.  He's so Jules in ST. ELMO'S FIRE, oh-oh.

Apparently, Glenn does believe in some sacrficie -- hair and make up staff are non-existent on his show and we get to see how ugly Glenn's face really is when no one can put powder on him.  

But he's being remembered this year.  For example:

Glenn Greenwald and that Mother Tucker, the bromance of 2022.  Picture this, indeed.

Over to Iraq . . . 

Eve Ottenberg (COUNTERPUNCH) observes:

The American republic morphed well over a century ago into an empire of many endless wars. With U.S. troops still in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and numerous African countries, with over 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and a war budget of roughly one trillion dollars a year, it’s no surprise that one of our main exports is weapons and that arms merchants call the shots in Washington. Presidents come and go, but the wars don’t: they drag on. And when a president does manage to extract the country from one of these military quagmires, as Biden did in Afghanistan, he gets nothing but grief. 

Troops remain everywhere.  And there's been no ending to the Iraq War.   Eve asks a question and then provides the sad truth:

How long will U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq and Syria? Let’s just say that at the current rate of political change, if your grandchildren enlist, they could wind up there. The only real hope is that another president will do there what Biden did in Afghanistan, though maybe without the sanctions

Need more proof that the war drags on?  CENTCOM is claiming they killed 700 members of ISIS in Iraq and Syria this year.  No, the year's not over yet but they made the announcement yesterday.  Maybe ISIS told CE NTCOM that they were  taking off today and tomorrow?  Here's the CENTCOM release:

Dec. 29, 2022
Release Number 20221229-1

TAMPA, Fla. – Throughout 2022, US Central Command and partner forces conducted hundreds of operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). These operations degraded ISIS and removed a cadre of senior leaders from the battlefield, to include the emir of ISIS and dozens of regional leaders as well as hundreds of fighters. All these operations were part of the mission to degrade the terror group’s ability to direct and inspire destabilizing attacks in the region and globally, to include against the US homeland.

During calendar year 2022, CENTCOM conducted 313 total operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria as follows:

 In Syria:

 108 partnered operations
 14 US unilateral operations
 215 ISIS operatives detained
 466 ISIS operatives killed

 In Iraq:
 191 partnered operations
 159 ISIS operatives detained
 At least 220 ISIS operatives killed

These operations were conducted under the authority of the CENTCOM commander, who retains authority for operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and under the command of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. No US forces were injured or killed in these operations. Our local partners—the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces—have and continue to play a critical role ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS.

One year ago this month, the US security relationship with Iraq fully transitioning to a role of advising, assisting, and enabling Iraqi Security Forces. Iraqi Security Forces are now leading successful unilateral offensive operations at the brigade level and making impressive strides in combined arms operations.

“Over the past year, Iraqi Security Forces demonstrated an ability to continue operations to degrade ISIS, to aggressively pursue the terror group in Iraq, and to improve security and stability within Iraq,” said General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, CENTCOM commander. “Today, they display a high level of competence, professionalism, and progress in leading tactical operations, but there is still much work to be done.”

“In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to display the will, skill, and ability to aggressively root out ISIS leaders and fighters,” Kurilla continued.

“The emerging, reliable and steady ability of our Iraqi and Syrian partner forces to conduct unilateral operations to capture and kill ISIS leaders allows us to maintain steady pressure on the ISIS network,” said Major General Matt McFarlane, commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

ISIS maintains malign intentions regarding the al-Hol Displacement Camp and the more than two dozen detention centers in Syria secured by the Syrian Democratic Forces. ISIS also maintains the desire to strike outside of the region and continues to work with affiliates around the globe, most significantly in Afghanistan and Africa.

“CENTCOM sees ISIS in three categories,” said Kurilla. “First, ISIS at large. This is the current generation of ISIS leaders and operatives we are currently fighting in Iraq and Syria. While we have significantly degraded its capability, the vile ideology remains unconstrained. We must continue to pressure ISIS through our partnered operations.”

“The second category is ISIS in detention. There is a literal ‘ISIS army’ in detention in Iraq and Syria. There are, today, more than 10,000 ISIS leaders and fighters in detention facilities throughout Syria and more than 20,000 ISIS leaders and fighters in detention facilities in Iraq.” The January 2022 ISIS prison breakout in Al-Hasakah, Syria is a reminder of the risk imposed by these prisons. The ensuing fight to contain the breakout resulted in more than 420 ISIS killed and more than 120 partnered forced killed.

“Finally,” Kurilla continued, “we have the potential next generation of ISIS. These are the more than 25,000 children in the al-Hol camp who are in danger. These children in the camp are prime targets for ISIS radicalization. The international community must work together to remove these children from this environment by repatriating them to their countries or communities of origin while improving conditions in the camp.”

“CENTCOM remains focused on supporting these security forces as they diligently work to improve conditions at the camp. However, the only viable long-term solution remains the successful repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of the camp residents back to their country of origin.”

The mission to defeat ISIS will continue in 2023 as CENTCOM and its Coalition partners remain committed to the enduring defeat of the terror group in order to maintain and enhance global security, stability, and human rights.

“We are committed and, more importantly, our partners in Iraq and Syria are committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said McFarlane.

As we have said over and over, since the White House and Iraq insisted in 2014 that ISIS was vanquished, ISIS has not gone away.

A terrorist group carries out activies to strike fear.  It really doesn't occupy and control land.  ISIS, however, did manage to do that.  All that 2014 accomplished was freeing Mosul and other areas from ISIS' control.  They remain active.  We were laughing at SKY NEWS' realization of that fact earlier this year.  ISIS hasn't gone away.  

And you don't 'defeat' terrorism with military measures.  You defeat it by overturning the conditions that allowed to breed to begin with.

Military measures?  That's like setting off a fogger in a room your house or aparment.  That just sends the bugs to another room.  That's all military measures do as well.  

Despite the fact that ISIS continues to terrorize, the Iraqi government is (again) moving to shut down camps where displaced Iraqis have taken shelter.  ANADOLU AGENCY reports that the plan is to shut them down over the next six months:


Iraqi Immigration and Displacement Minister Ivan Faik Jabro stressed that as part of the government's 2023 planning, the camps will be closed in about six months and migrants sent back to their homes.

He noted that other ministries will also support the project and necessary positive living conditions will be provided to migrants where they will return.

Jabro emphasized that the infrastructure of places belonging to immigrants that became unusable during [the] terror group attacks should be re-zoned.

"Infrastructure, water, electricity and municipal services should be provided in the immigrants’ areas as soon as possible,” said Jabro. “In the next six months, the relevant ministries must definitely fulfill their duties.

So it will be taken of?  Great.  Now the took the school project, right?  What's that?  They put it on hold:

Iraq is pushing ahead with plans to build 1,000 schools under an agreement with Chinese companies but the project is delayed by the war in Ukraine, an official has said. 

Chinese firms agreed to construct the schools in Iraq’s 15 governorates under their 2019 oil-for-projects accord which stipulates supplying companies from China with crude oil in exchange for projects they undertake in Iraq. 

The project to build 1,000 schools has achieved “good execution rates” but there are obstacles, said Nazim Hameedi, School Projects Director at the Iraqi Cabinet Secretariat. 

“These obstacles include land allocation and logistics problems…most of these obstacles have been tackled except for funding from the executing companies due to the war in Ukraine…as a result Iraqi firms undertaking such projects for their Chinese  partners are trying to seek domestic loans to complete these projects,” Hameedi told Aliqtisad News. 

They're "pushing ahead with plan" even though "the project is delayed."  What great spin for a project that's been dragging on since 2019.  Doesn't instill trust that, after the kick the refugees out of the camps, the places for these displaced Iraqis to live will actually have been built.

These stalled and never completed projects go to the extreme corruption in Iraq.  Robert Tollast and Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) report:

In October, Iraq’s acting finance minister Ihsan Jabbar shocked the world by announcing an investigation into $2.5 billion that had gone missing from Iraq’s General Commission for Taxes, a department in the Ministry of Finance. It was described as the heist of the century.

The money had been given to five shell companies set up last year and investigations are ongoing, but experts tell The National that while several political parties have been implicated, senior officials are unlikely to be punished.

Earlier this month, it was alleged that attempts to toughen anti-corruption efforts by former prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi ended in a series of raids against rivals resulting in the death of one suspect under torture.

New Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani has placed a former intelligence chief and Iran-linked enforcer in a new anti-corruption team, while the new head of the country's biggest anti-corruption body is close to the Iran-linked Badr Organisation, stirring fears of more purges that do little to get to the root of the problem.

“If you look at the people in positions linked to the organisations where the theft happened, or those reported to be involved, you get a lot of political actors. From the Popular Mobilisation Forces [a largely Iran-backed militia force] to [former prime minister Mustafa Al] Kadhimi to [Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al] Halbousi to the Sadrists. It's unlikely that such a big theft went on without a major player taking a cut,” says Hamza, a consultant in Iraq who used to work for the main government auditing body. His name has been withheld for security reasons.

Mustafa?  Earlier this month, Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) reported:

Kadhimi, who left office in October, came to power in 2020 after mass anti-corruption demonstrations felled his predecessor. His government’s high-profile campaign to tackle graft in one of the world’s most corrupt countries drew widespread international encouragement.

Central to the effort was a series of highly publicized night raids in late 2020 on the homes of public figures accused of corruption, conducted under the authority of the Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, better known as Committee 29. The architect of the raids was Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim, or Abu Ragheef, who became known in Iraq as the “night visitor.”

But what happened to the men behind closed doors was far darker: a return to the ugly old tactics of a security establishment whose abuses Kadhimi had vowed to address. In more than two dozen interviews — including five men detained by the committee, nine family members who had relatives imprisoned, and 11 Iraqi and Western officials who tracked the committee’s work — a picture emerges of a process marked by abuse and humiliation, more focused on obtaining signatures for pre-written confessions than on accountability for corrupt acts.

Those interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters or, in the case of detainees and their families, to protect their safety.

“It was every kind of torture,” one former detainee recalled. “Electricity, choking me with plastic bags, hanging me from the ceiling by my hands. They stripped us naked and grabbed at the parts of our body underneath.”

In at least one case, a former senior official, Qassim Hamoud Mansour, died in the hospital after being arrested by the committee. Photographs provided to The Post by his family appear to show that a number of teeth had been knocked out, and there were signs of blunt trauma on his forehead.

Allegations that the process was riddled with abuse became an open secret among diplomats in Baghdad last year. But the international community did little to follow up on the claims and the prime minister’s office downplayed the allegations, according to officials with knowledge of the issue. Although a parliamentary committee first revealed the torture allegations in 2021 and Iraqi media have raised the issue sporadically, this is the fullest attempt yet to investigate the claims and document the scale of the abuse.

Mustafa has responded.  Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) reports:

 Iraq’s former Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Wednesday responded to the allegations of torture and extortion committed by an anti-corruption committee during his tenure, saying that the accusations lack “legal evidence” and that the committee had operated “in accordance with judicial rulings.”

A nine-month investigation by the Washington Post earlier this month concluded that Iraq’s Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, also known as Committee 29, had used extreme methods of torture, including sexual violence, to extract pre-written confessions from former Iraqi officials and businessmen. The report relies on interviews with several of the detainees, their family members, as well as Iraqi and Western officials.

In his first remarks since the publication of the article, Kadhimi stated that, during his time in office, he had always worked towards upholding human rights and preventing the “reoccurrence of any violations” in the interrogation process, adding that a report from the Attorney General at the end of 2021 stated that the committee had “adhered to all international standards of Human Rights.”

Mustafa, no one believes your lies.  Most outlets aren't even taking the time to note that two days ago -- two days -- you denied the allegations.  Bark, guilty dog, bark.

As the year winds down, Reporters Without Borders looks at violence aimed at journalists around the world.  They note that over the last two decades (2003 to 2022), approximately 80 journalists have been killed a year for a total of 1668.  And they note:

During the past two decades, 80% of the media fatalities have occurred in 15 countries. The two countries with the highest death tolls are Iraq and Syria, with a combined total of 578 journalists killed in the past 20 years, or more than a third of the worldwide total. They are followed by Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine. Africa has not been spared, with Somalia coming next.

Sadly, there's no journalistic bravery at REUTERS these days.  That explains their latest tongue batch of cult leader and killer Moqtada al-Sadr.  "Now here are some scenes from the next episode of MOQTADA AL-SADR, MOQTADA AL-SADR," the article seems to say.  To their credit, they do note that he flopped as a 'kingmaker.'  But, before we praise them for that, two things.  First, his failure as a kingmaker is hard to deny at this late date.  Second, they were among the biggest of those pimping the lie -- starting in October of 2021 -- that he was a kingmaker.

While they were pimping that claim, we were scoffing and disputing it.  A year later?  

They want to lie that Moqtada has left politics -- since August.  Really?  From December 3rd:

Need more reality?  Moqtada al-Sadr is scum of the earth.  He leads a cult and, over the years, the US press has decided to go soft on him and present as a leader (he's not) and a kingmaker (never) instead of as the cheap ass thug he actually is.  He's flaunting his true colors again.  Daniel Stewart (360 NEWS) notes:

"I vow to confront homosexuality or the LGBTQ community through ethical, peaceful and religious means, against this violation of the innate characteristics on which humanity is built," according to a statement accompanied by his signature and posted on Twitter by his spokesman Salé Mohamed al Iraqi.

The cleric has reiterated his message by calling for the creation of an abolition of the alleged law of homosexuality in Iraq because "it cannot be a door to generalize this affliction".

In reality, homosexuality has been legal in Iraq for 20 years because the country does not have a law explicitly criminalizing it.

However, it does have a regulation prohibiting "immodest acts," probably the one Al Sadr was referring to, which Human Rights Watch has described as a "vague provision that could be used to target minorities."


Poor, dumb and uneducated Moqtada.  He can never by a religious leader above 'cleric' because he doesn't have the background and couldn't get it even when he ran off to Iran in 2007.  Poor idiot Moqtada.

And, please don't forget, that two years ago, he explained 'the gay' caused other things as well:


And maybe those who've been stupid enough to promote Moqtada over the last three years could wake up to reality?

All that stuff we noted above?  REUTERS never reported on it.  They are a news agency.  Moqtada has spent the last three years demonizing Iraq's LGBTQ+ community (something he began doing in the '00s) and REUTERS has never, ever felt the need to comment on that.  They've given him one tongue bath after another. In December, he announced he was confronting gays and that's not political, REUTERS?  What a joke that outlet has become.  And, remember, I say that as someone who publicly called them out here when they installed a CIA agent in Iraq as a reporter.  That was right after Barack Obama became president.  The 'reporter' made no (journalistic) mark at REUTERS and, in fact, did such a bad job that the cover of 'reporter' hasn't been used by the agent since.  You'd think that would be REUTERS worst moment in Iraq, however, the tongue bath that they continue to give to Moqtada puts the knowing employment of the CIA agent to shame.  (To be clear, some at REUTERS told me in real time that it wasn't known the 'reporter' was CIA until after being hired and deployed to Iraq.  Regardless, the 'reporter' was enployed for a long time after everyone knew about it.)

As for Moqtada, it's a shame he can't live in the US where he could be best buddies with Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor-Greene and do things in front of the camera with Mother Tucker Carlson.  Or live in Brazil where Glenn Greenwald could be his bodyguard -- the Kevin to Moqtada's Whitney.


The following sites updated:

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Time to say 'Bye Felicia' to Whoopi

 Again on the awful Whoopi Goldberg:

Whoopi Goldberg is apologizing for reiterating comments made about Jewish people and the Holocaust, saying she was not “doubling down” on her beliefs.

“It was never my intention to appear as if I was doubling down on hurtful comments, especially after talking with and hearing people like rabbis and old and new friends weighing in,” Goldberg said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “My sincere apologies again, especially to everyone who thought this was a fresh rehash of the subject. I promise it was not.”

“I’m still learning a lot and believe me, I heard everything everyone said to me. I believe that the Holocaust was about race, and I am still as sorry now as I was then that I upset, hurt, and angered people,” The View host added. “I want to be very clear when I say that I always stood with the Jewish people and always will. My support for them has not wavered and never will.”

In a recent interview, Goldberg claimed again that the Holocaust was not about the Jewish people being targeted due to race.

No, she is not "still learning."  Remember, she said that earlier this year when she was forced to issue an apology.  She then went and said the exact same thing.  She is not "sorry now as I was then that I upset, hurt, and angered people."  She did it again.  She needs to be held accountable.  She needs to be fired.  Roseanne Barr had the number one rated show on TV and did far less and ABC fired her.  It's time to let her go.  

And Roseanne should not have been fired.  But Whoopi was okay with the firing.  Now it's Whoopi's turn.  She swore in February that she regretted what she said and that she was learning and blah blah.  And she goes and makes the same statements all over again.  Fire her.  Emily Liebert (JEZEBEL) notes:

The holidays are supposed to be a nauseatingly cheerful time of year, but the Jews couldn’t make it through eight celebratory days of Hanukkah without being interrupted by antisemitic hate. My people, in fact, enjoyed just five full days of candle-lighting and prayer-reciting before that streak was brought to a halt by repeat antisemitic offender Whoopi Goldberg.
On Saturday, the sixth day of Hanukkah, UK paper The Sunday Times published an interview with Goldberg, the host of ABC’s The View, in which she doubled down on her insistence that the Holocaust “wasn’t originally” about race. (The Holocaust was entirely about the construct of race: The Nazis codified their persecution of Jews into the Nuremberg laws, which legally classified Jewish people as a separate and lesser race than Adolf Hitler’s preferred white, Aryan race.) By Tuesday, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, had called out the comedian for her “offensive” and “ignorant” comments, according to The Hill.

The Times interview marks the second time this year that Goldberg, 67, has used her platform to spread antisemitic sentiment. In January, on an episode of The View, Goldberg and her co-hosts were discussing a Tennessee school board’s banning of Maus, a Pulitzer-winning graphic novel about Nazi concentration camps, where more than six million Jews were systematically murdered during WWII. During this conversation, Goldberg insisted that the Holocaust was “not about race.” “This is white people doing it to white people,” she said at the time. “Y’all go fight amongst yourselves.” A few hours later, Goldberg tweeted an apology, conceding that the Nazis had considered the Jews “to be an inferior race.” (Her Twitter account is currently deactivated.)

In response to Goldberg’s comments, ABC News quickly suspended its host for two weeks, and president Kim Godwin condemned the comments as “wrong and hurtful.” Just 10 months later, despite repercussions for her first round of jabs at Jews, Goldberg felt emboldened to resurface those same problematic views without any evidence of growth or accountability.


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Wednesday, December 28, 2022.  As Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange, the cries around the world to free Julian grow stronger. 

Starting with this from WSWS:

On December 2, Deanna “Violet” Coco was jailed for briefly holding up one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on April 13 to protest governments’ refusal to halt climate change.

In a serious attack on basic democratic rights, Coco was initially sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment, with at least eight months without parole, and denied bail. She was the first to be sentenced under laws introduced by the New South Wales (NSW) state Liberal-National government to impose fines of up to $22,000 and jail terms of up to two years for protests on roads, rail lines, tunnels, bridges and industrial estates.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet personally hailed the ruling, stating that protestors who “put our way of life at risk … should have the book thrown at them and that’s pleasing to see.” Echoing Perrottet, NSW Labor Party leader Chris Minns said he did not regret supporting the new laws. Labor governments in other states have adopted similar anti-protest laws, explicitly designed to protect business interests.

Coco appealed her sentence and was subsequently released on bail on December 13. At least a dozen other activists face imprisonment under the laws. One spent nearly four weeks in prison before being bailed on charges of organising protests after a massive police raid on a rural property near Sydney. WSWS reporters spoke with Coco last week about her protest and the precedent set by her jailing. 

[. . .]

WSWS: You’ve previously mentioned your support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Could you speak about what you think of his persecution and the connection with these laws?

VC: Julian Assange is a hero. WikiLeaks was a brave act of exposing the truth. It is clear he is being made an example of. It’s unjust. Julian needs to be brought home now.

It’s very concerning when people doing the right thing face state repression. There have been three other climate protestors in Australia jailed for peaceful protests this year. They were sentenced to three months’ jail, and they got out on bail. People need to be really careful about what is going on in Australia right now. Tim Curry and Max Cerny were jailed for disrupting Port Botany, under disrupting infrastructure laws. Andrew George was sentenced to three months for invading a football field and setting off a flare. I was really shocked.

This is also a global trend, with 20 activists being held in remand prison in the UK for five weeks now. This was for discussing organising a protest on a zoom call.

We cannot let this scare us into inaction though because climate breakdown will be way worse than anything they can throw at us, and we have so little time left to make a difference, that we must act now.

WSWS: In 2010 when the persecution of Assange began, we said that this was going to be used as a precedent. The attack on Assange was not just on him or even WikiLeaks but any journalists, or any workers who wished to oppose the trade union bureaucracy, or the companies, or the government and that the implications of this would be felt all around the world.

VC: It’s true, people have warned me not to stand up against the ruling class because they have a monopoly on violence and dominance. It’s easy for them to commit such an attack on our freedom, or worse... However, it’s just too important of an issue to be silent. Also, remember, we are stronger together. 

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.

Is part of that push a former prime minister of Australia?  Matthew Knott (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) reports:

Supporters of Julian Assange have welcomed Kevin Rudd’s appointment as Australia’s ambassador to the United States, saying they are hopeful he will use the position to press the Biden administration to drop espionage charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange remains in London’s Belmarsh prison in London as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face charges over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents and diplomatic cables relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

As far back as 2010, when he was serving as foreign minister, Rudd had insisted that the US government and whoever leaked the documents should be held responsible for the disclosure rather than Assange.

In a 2019 letter to the Bring Julian Assange Home Queensland Network, Rudd said Assange would pay an “unacceptable” and “disproportionate” price if he was extradited to the US.

Rudd said he could not see the difference between Assange’s actions and the editors of American media outlets who reported the material, adding that the US had failed to secure classified information appropriately.

“The result was the mass leaking of sensitive diplomatic cables, including some that caused me some political discomfort at the time,” he wrote.

“However, an effective life sentence is an unacceptable and disproportionate price to pay. I would therefore oppose his extradition.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese appointed Rudd to the nation’s most prestigious diplomatic posting on Tuesday, saying he would “conduct himself in a way that brings great credit to Australia”.

Anton Nilsson (CRIKEY) points out, "Julian Assange’s family is feeling cautiously optimistic about the appointment of Kevin Rudd a Australia’s US ambassador. Rudd has vocally supported the jailed Wikileaks founder despite being humiliated by some of the material he published."

On June 17, 2022, the United Kingdom approved Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States to face charges, primarily under the nation’s Espionage Act, for releasing US government records that revealed the US military committed war crimes against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the killing of two Reuters journalists. If found guilty, Assange faces a jail term of up to 175 years.

The IFJ is gravely concerned about the impact of Assange’s continued detention on media freedom and the rights of all journalists globally. The US pursuit of Assange against the public’s right to know poses a grave threat to the fundamental tenets of democracy, which are becoming increasingly fragile worldwide. Irrespective of personal views on Assange, his extradition will have a chilling effect, with all journalists and media workers at risk.

The case sets a dangerous precedent that members of the media, in any country, can now be targeted by governments, anywhere in the world, to answer for publishing information in the public interest. 

Wikileaks was awarded the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism in 2011, an annual prize to reward excellence in Australian journalism, in recognition of the impact of WikiLeaks’ actions on public interest journalism by assisting whistle-blowers to tell their stories. Whistle-blowers have since been utilised by other media outlets to expose global tax avoidance schemes, among other stories. 

The sentence of Chelsea Manning, who collaborated with Assange to release the contentious material, was commuted by President Barack Obama. None of WikiLeaks’ media partners have been charged in any US government legal proceeding because of their collaboration with Assange. Aside from the dire implications for press freedom, there is also no legal criterion for Assange’s extradition and charges.

The IFJ is calling on the United States government to drop all charges against Julian Assange and allow him to return home to be with his wife and children. The IFJ is also calling on all media unions, press freedom organisations and journalists to urge governments to actively work to secure Assange’s release. #FreeAssangeNOW

U.S. persecution of Assange horrifies the world. Brazil’s president-elect Luis Inacio Lula da Silva urged on November 29 that Assange be freed from his “unjust imprisonment,” which would mean that this abomination, this so-called legal case should be dropped. Colombian president Gustavo Petro met with Wikileaks and pledged on social media November 22 to “ask President Biden…not to charge a journalist just for telling the truth.” The leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua have also called for freeing Assange. Previously, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador on two occasions petitioned Biden on Assange’s behalf. Even Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese on November 30 urged the U.S. to stop its chase of Canberra’s citizen, Assange.

This may be the most significant plea, because Australia is an ally that almost never bucks the U.S., while the other aforementioned countries are all headed by leftists, to whom Washington might be disinclined to listen. So something could well be in the wind. But still, Albanese’s request could be met with the same resounding silence as greeted those of the Latin American leaders. Following in Trump’s footsteps, Biden has so far enabled the atrocious abuse heaped on the Wikileaks founder by the U.S. government, so it is unlikely these protests from mere heads of state will deter him from letting that obscenity under which Assange is charged, the Espionage Act, run its course. Fortunately, Assange has taken action to get his unjust treatment heard in another venue. On December 2, he filed an appeal against the decision to extradite him to the U.S. And he filed it in the European Court of Human Rights. His supporters eagerly await the verdict, even if the Exceptional Empire ignores one that contradicts its wishes.

Joe Biden,  the world is watching you.  This will determine your legacy.  Will history remember you as someone who supported democracy, the public's right to know and a free press?  Or will history see you as just another huge disappointment, a liar who mouthed a bunch of meaningless words but never provided any real leadership?

Turning to Iraq, THE ARAB WEEKLY notes:

Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani is facing pressure from forces within the Coordination Framework to reconsider his country’s strategic agreement with the United States, at a time when he needs good relations with the US administration and wants to avoid unnecessary turbulence with Washington.

At the same time,  he must take into consideration the position of the Coordination Framework, a coalition of pro-Iranian formations providing him with political support especially in parliament,

Iraq and the United States signed a strategic framework agreement in 2008, which included a number of provisions regulating the presence of US forces in the country, as well as bolstering cooperation in economic, cultural and political fields.

And then there's ISIS which also isn't going anywhere.  It was not vanquished in 2014.  The terrorist organization remains in Iraq continuing to stage attacks. SKY NEWS stumbles into reality this week as they slack-jawed observe, "While it no longer controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State remains a threat and will seek to spring 10,000 of its fighters from Syrian prisons in 2023, experts say."  This as RUDAW notes:

A spokesperson for the Iraqi army on Monday revealed that they had killed over 200 Islamic State (ISIS) fighters only in 2022.

Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesperson for the Joint Operations Command, told Rudaw on Monday that “the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq is low and those existing are Iraqis." He added that the group has exploited the security gas between the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in disputed areas.

The following sites updated:

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

It's time for Whoopi to go

It's enough.  Just enough.  CBS NEWS reports:

Whoopi Goldberg is again receiving criticism for her false claims about the Holocaust. In an interview published with The Sunday Times of London on Saturday – the sixth day of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah – the actor and "The View" co-host reiterated her claims that the Holocaust "wasn't originally" about race.

Goldberg first made the public statements on an episode of "The View" about 10 months ago, saying at the time that "the Holocaust isn't about race," but rather, "inhumanity to man."

She later apologized and was suspended from the show for two weeks for her comments. 

But she is now sticking to her claims. 

In the interview with The Sunday Times, Goldberg – whose real name is Caryn Johnson and goes by a self-given name she has said comes from a Jewish relative – said there is division about whether Judaism is a race or a religion. That's when the interviewer noted that to the Nazis, it was a race, hence the Holocaust, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 6 million Jews. 

It's time for THE VIEW to let her go.  15 years has been more than enough for her to be a host on THE VIEW.  Her remarks were outrageous months ago.  Now after her 'apology'?  She's repeating them again.  Fire her -- actually, as Dabney Coleman says in 9 TO 5, "Did you hear me?  Fire the b**ch already."

This wasn't a mistake.  She made the same offensive remarks again and did so knowing that they were offensive the first time.  The apology was not sincere.  The suspension did not teach her a thing.  Fire her.

Let's go to something positive.  You know I love cats.  I saw this in a comment on a YAHOO ARTICLE: "Dogs have owners.  Cats have staff."


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Tuesday, December 27, 2022.  The reality of the year almost behind us and the one ahead of us.

A look at where we really are at this point in time?  Starting with Emma Arcenaux's report for WSWS:

Life expectancy in the United States decreased for the second year in a row in 2021, according to final mortality data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The death rate for the population increased by 5.3 percent above 2020, leading to a decline in life expectancy from 77 years to 76.4 years, the lowest level since 1996. 

The progress of a quarter-century of medical advances has essentially been wiped out in just two years.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, life expectancy in the US has fallen by 2.4 years total. The decrease of a .6 year in 2021 mounts on top of the loss of 1.8 years recorded in 2020.

As the World Socialist Web Site noted when the CDC’s preliminary mortality report was issued in August, the figures constitute “a damning indictment of the homicidal response to the pandemic that has characterized the Trump and Biden administrations. Biden—who was elected in large part because of popular revulsion at Trump’s callous and anti-scientific response to COVID-19 and who was armed with effective vaccines from the beginning of his term—stands thoroughly exposed.”

Indeed, despite the availability of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines and Democratic control of the White House and Congress, 2021 was far deadlier than 2020. According to CDC data, total US deaths increased by 80,502 compared to 2020, above all, due to the continuing pandemic.

Citing CDC statistician Kenneth Kochanek, NPR notes that COVID-19 accounted for nearly 60 percent of the decline in life expectancy in 2021. The total number of deaths in which COVID-19 was the underlying cause increased by 18.8 percent, from 350,831 in 2020 to 416,893 in 2021. It remained the third leading cause of death in 2021 following heart disease and cancer.

If the typical CEO of a large U.S. corporation clocks in at 9 am on January 2, by 3:37 pm that afternoon he’ll have earned $58,260 — the average annual salary for all U.S. occupations.

In other words, in less than seven hours on the first workday of the New Year, that CEO will have made as much as the average U.S. worker will make all year.

Based on the oral arguments in the case of a Christian web designer seeking to gut nondiscrimination protections, 2023 isn’t looking like a good year for LGBTQ+ rights on the Supreme Court. But it’s not looking like a great year for the Court itself either.

The Court is heading into the new year at a level of disarray and public distrust not seen in modern times. Moreover, there’s little sign that the justices intend to do anything to address the issue, except to possibly make it even worse.

The past year has seen a series of explosive revelations about the Court, starting with the leak of the Dobbs decision overturning abortion rights. The Court has long prided itself on being a closed system, so the idea that an entire draft decision on a major topic could appear in the press a month prior to its release was shocking. Just as shocking, the draft was pretty much the final version, so whoever leaked it did so knowing full well the impact it would have.

As it turns out, there’s speculation that the author of the draft, Samuel Alito, may have been the leaker. The reason is that the former leader of a right-wing group now says that Alito gave major donors of the group a heads-up on another major decision a few years back (Alito denied the report).

The leaks are just one sign of a dysfunctional Court. Alito has given full vent to the sneering side of his personality, publicly mocking foreign leaders who objected to the abortion ruling. Under normal circumstances, this would be a terrible breach of etiquette, but now it’s what passes for normal “own-the-libs” rhetoric from the Court’s conservatives.

Then there’s the conflict of interest problem rife among the justices on the right. On top of the list is Clarence Thomas, whose wife, Ginni, is a would-be seditionist. Despite her deep involvment in Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, Justice Thomas has yet to recuse himself from cases involving the January 6 insurrection. 

That’s not the only shady example. A representative from an arm of the anti-LGBTQ+ group Liberty Counsel boasted that the group regularly prays with justices in their chambers, despite having cases before the Court (Liberty Counsel said that was a past practice, as if that made it okay).

In a more festive and equally disturbing example, Justice Brett Kavanaugh attended a Christmas holiday party hosted by the head of the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC). Among those in attendance were a who’s who of the right, including Stephen Miller, the loathsome architect of Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. More recently, Miller has been heading a group, American First Legal, which took a lead role in anti-trans ads in the midterms and – oh, by the way – has filed briefs before the Supreme Court.

Just to show you where their loyalties lie, Alito, Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch showed up at a gala dinner in November held by the Federalist Society, the right-wing legal group that vetted Trump’s judicial appointees, where they received a long ovation for their ruling overturning abortion rights. 

Such disregard for the appearance of neutrality is possible because the Supreme Court doesn’t have any ethical guidelines – literally. Unlike any other judicial body in the U.S., the Court relies upon the integrity of the justices to police itself.

Look at where that’s gotten us.

No wonder the public’s trust in the Supreme Court is at historic lows. 

All this while billions of US taxpayer money pours out of the country into Ukraine.  Eric Zuesse (DISSIDENT VOICE) explains:

During this year, the U.S. Government has allocated $112 billion to Ukraine, in order to defeat Russia in the battlefields of Ukraine. Russia allocates normally $60 billion per year for its entire military, but this year has increased that 40% to $84 billion, because of its invasion of Ukraine. Russia invaded Ukraine because, on 17 December 2021, Russia had demanded that the U.S. Government and its NATO anti-Russian military alliance stop trying to place its missiles on and near Russia’s borders (especially in Ukraine, which is the nearest of all bordering nations to Moscow); and, on 7 January 2022 America and NATO said no. Russia then invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, in order to prevent Ukraine from becoming a launch-pad for U.S. missiles. That’s what the war in Ukraine is — and always has been — about, from the Russian viewpoint: not being faced with U.S. missiles that are only a five-minute missile-flight-time away from Russia’s central command in Moscow.

The war in Ukraine started in February 2014, by America’s coup there that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected neutralist Government and replaced it by a rabidly anti-Russian and pro-American one on Russia’s border, in order ultimately to become able to place just 317 miles away from the Kremlin U.S. missiles which would be only a five-minute flight-time away from nuking Russia’s central command — far too little time in order for Russia’s central command to be able to verify that launch and then to launch its own retaliatory missiles. It would be nuclear checkmate of Russia, by the U.S. (with the assistance of its NATO allies, which then would include Ukraine).

+ All it took was a downed powerline, or perhaps a spark from the shed at the compound of a Christian cult, to ignite a wildfire on the Rocky Mountain Front on the afternoon of December 30th, – a fire that race across 6000 acres, burning 1,084 homes and 30 commercial buildings in less than a day. Propelled by hurricane-force winds, the only thing that slowed the fire’s spread was the much-belated arrival of the first major snowfall of the season on the high plains of Colorado. The Marshall fire, one of the most destructive in the state’s history, erupted only a couple of weeks after 80-mph winds powered a 250-mile-long dust storm that swept across the eastern half the state and into Kansas, an event that the National Weather Service labeled a “never-before-seen storm.” Never isn’t what it once was.

+ Iraq’s agricultural production has fallen by 40% in  4 years. Much of the decline is due to drought and heat. Over the next few decades, the UN projects temperatures in Iraq will rise by another 2 degrees. Livestock numbers have crashed.

+ More than 40% of Americans live in counties hit by climate disasters in 2021.

+ A global study conducted by 98 researchers measuring over five million forest trees found that the largest 1% of trees equaled over 50% of total carbon containing biomass.

Manchin: “The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else.” Don’t worry Thing, help’s on the way…!

+ $100 billion: the estimated cost of climate-caused disasters in 2021.

+ After declining for six years, coal generation increased by about 22% in the U.S. in 2021, largely in response to higher natural gas prices. Meanwhile, the Governor of Wyoming issued an emergency executive order to forestall the impending shutdown of one of the state’s largest coal plants.

+ The rightwing shop ALEC is pushing legislation modeled after BDS bans that would permit states to “request written verification from a financial company that it does not boycott energy companies.”

+ Like the deadly Camp Fire, this July’s  Dixie Fire, which burned more than 963,000 acres in the Northern California, destroyed 1,329 buildings and damaged 95 others, ignited after a tree came into contact with PG&E’s power lines near the Cresta Dam about 100 miles north of Sacramento.

+ Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe (who happens to be an evangelical Christian) told the NYT this week: “The biggest problem is not the people who aren’t on board; the biggest problem is the people who don’t know what to do. And if we don’t know what to do, we do nothing. Just start by doing something, anything, and then talk about it!” I admire Hayhoe, but surely the biggest problem is that a very small group of people and non-human entities given the rights of people by the Supreme Court are making unimaginable streams of money from enterprises they know are turning the atmosphere into a global gas chamber…

+ Nearly all juvenile winter-run salmon perished during the hot, dry summer on the Sacramento River last year. Just 2.6% of the endangered fish survived.

+ Tidal flooding on Monday in Westport, Washington, at the mouth of Gray’s Harbor…

To that we can note the obvious, let an African-American woman talk about domestic violence and watch the idiots come to attack her.  Watch a female journalist of the left reTweet an idiot (male, of course) on Christmas Eve as the idiot whines that it's turning into "an online gender war" and that this celebrity has nothing to do with "our own lives."  
A lot of black people live vicariously through celebrities and social media influencers and I hate this for my people. I am seeing an online gender war going on over a case that has zero to do with any of our lives.

In his prior Tweet, the idiot scolds people for paying attention to Megan Thee Stallion instead of their own lives.  And before that?  Nine Tweets about football and Deion Sanders.  

But African-American women noting domestic violence is the problem?

Really, Margaret Kimberley, that's who you choose to highlight on your Twitter feed?

Fortunately, other women pushed back.

It should also be noted that the idiot Margaret chose to highlight on her Twitter feed isn't always Tweeting about football:

Publicly shaming teenage girls.  What a winner Margaret decided to share with those of us who made the mistake of following her on Twitter.

Grasp that the only time he can note women and girls is to slam them.  Grasp that he feels he, a grown man, can publicly shame two teenage girls and that doing so is somehow appropriate.  And that's who Margaret Kimberley wants to reTweet. 

State of the world.