"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
When Kamala Harris launched her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019, she was considered one of the party’s brightest rising stars. An early frontrunner, she was a young, highly accomplished, relatively charismatic Black woman in a party built on Black women’s support. She had built name recognition by devouring conservatives in viral moments at Senate hearings. Her actual politics were hard to pin down (a former prosecutor running on criminal justice reform?), but that might have worked in her favor if she’d run a strong campaign down the middle.
Instead, Harris’s presidential campaign will be remembered as one of the worst of that election cycle. Internally, it was a disastrously mismanaged mess. Externally, it offered a series of mixed messages, short-lived slogans, and attempts to backpedal along the ideological spectrum. Her dazzling presence in planned speeches and gotcha moments flickered out when she was forced to think—and relay a coherent policy position—on her feet. It was a spectacular letdown that contained a lesson about electoral politics: candidates who looks promising on paper can easily flounder under pressure.
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 death.
John Cherian (India's FRONTLINE) explains:
As most international legal luminaries had predicted, the British government succumbed to pressure from the US and is fast-tracking the process of deporting Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to that country to face trial on the serious charges of espionage. British Home Secretary Priti Patel, notorious for her tough stance on immigration, gave the green light for his deportation.
The Supreme Court of the UK ruled in February that Assange could not appeal the decision of lower courts in his extradition case. In April, a magistrates’ court ordered Assange’s extradition under laws relating to the US’ Espionage Act.
Under British laws, Assange had a month’s time to appeal to the Home Secretary against the Supreme Court’s ruling.. In a statement in mid June rejecting the appeal, the British Home Office claimed that the UK could comply with the US government’s long-standing extradition demand because “the UK courts” have come to the conclusion that it would not be “oppressive, unjust or an abuse of power to extradite Mr Assange”. It went on to say that the courts did not find that extradition “would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to the freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health”.
In early July, Assange exercised one of his last options to stay his extradition by applying to the High Court for permission to appeal against the decisions of the lower courts and the Home Secretary. Assange’s legal team argued that the leaked documents exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and were in the public interest. The documents showed that the US occupation forces in Afghanistan had killed innocent civilians, numbering in the tens of thousands. This fact was previously unknown to the general public in the US and the wider world. The leaked files on Iraq revealed that 66,000 civilians were killed and thousands more tortured under US supervision in notorious prisons such as Abu Ghraib.
The WikiLeaks files also threw light on the torture practices in the US’ Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba. WikiLeaks released the “collateral murder” video that showed a US Apache helicopter targeting civilians in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in 2007. At least 18 innocent civilians were killed in that attack, which the Pentagon had kept under wraps. The war crimes recorded in that video alone were clear violations of the Geneva Conventions and the US Law of War Manual.
What steps remain to ensure Julian's safety? ALMAYADEEN reports:
According to sources who spoke with The Mail on Sunday, a WikiLeaks delegation will speak with Colombian President Gustavo Petro tomorrow morning in Bogotá about press freedom and the "political nature" of Assange's prosecution.
Following their meeting with Petro, the activists—which include WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Assange's Chief of Staff Joseph Farrell—are scheduled to meet with six other regional heads of state.
They hope that by gaining support for Assange and appealing to the Hispanic and Latino community in the US, their tour of South America will have an impact on the White House.
In other news, under Iraq's previous prime minister, $2.5 billion was stolen. It's one of the reasons that Iraq has one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Simona Foltyn (GUARDIAN) explains:
Iraqis have called it “the heist of the century” – a brazen multibillion-dollar plundering of state coffers that has gripped the country.
The theft of $2.5bn was apparently facilitated by some of the highest offices in the land, according to sources and a series of government letters issued in the summer of 2021. The documents, signed by various government institutions including the then prime minister’s office, cancelled the audit of withdrawals from the Iraqi tax commission’s accounts.
The letters did not attract attention at the time. Iraq had been rocked by two years of turmoil and was heading for early elections. Parliament had been adjourned. The media and international community had their eyes set on the October 2021 ballot, which came on the back of mass protests demanding the toppling of a corrupt ruling elite.
But behind the scenes, the stage was set for the embezzlement of tax revenues in what has emerged as the biggest corruption scandal under the then prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s western-backed government – remarkable even for a country that ranks towards the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption index.
The $2.5bn in tax moneys was withdrawn by shell companies with almost no paper trail with the help of corrupt officials, according to an internal investigation’s 41-page report seen by the Guardian, and laundered through real estate purchases in Baghdad’s most affluent neighbourhood, according to multiple sources.
The scheme was allegedly masterminded by a well-connected businessman and executed by employees in the tax commission, who enjoyed the support of an Iran-aligned political faction called Badr, the Guardian has found.
CENTRAL BANKING adds, "An internal investigation by the finance ministry earlier this year found some of the minitry's own officials had helped embezzle around $2.5 billion. If ound that officials had written cheques worth 3.7 trillion Iraqi dinars (around $2.5 billion) to five companies."
Lastly, Jacob Crosse (WSWS) reports:
As of this writing, at least five people are dead and 25 more are injured following the latest mass shooting in the United States, which occurred late Saturday evening.
The shooting took place at the Q Club, the longest operating and largest gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In a press conference Sunday, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said that emergency services began receiving multiple calls concerning a shooting at the club at 11:56 p.m. and that police were on the scene by midnight.
Vasquez acknowledged that police did little to stop the rampage, noting that by the time police arrived, two people inside the club had already subdued the gunman.
“We owe them a great debt of thanks,” Vasquez said Sunday morning.
Police have identified the suspected shooter as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, a local resident. This author was unable to locate any social media profiles linked to Aldrich. However, this is not the first time Aldrich has had significant police contact and there is no question police knew of Aldrich before Saturday’s incident.
In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested on multiple and serious charges after his mother called the police and, according to a statement from the El Paso County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Office, warned that “her son was threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.”
[. . .]
Colorado Springs is politically dominated by the Republican Party, which has increasingly made anti-gay agitation a part of its right-wing propaganda, creating an atmosphere conducive to such acts of homicidal violence.
So far this year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has documented “more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills” introduced in 23 states by Republicans, aimed at limiting the rights of transgender persons. This includes Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill, enacted earlier this year.
Deadly attacks against LGBTQ persons have continued throughout 2022. Last Wednesday, HRC reported that at least 32 transgender people had been murdered in the US thus far in 2022, compared to 57 last year. HRC notes that the figures are likely a vast undercount, given that many trans persons are misgendered following their death.
The following sites updated: