Saturday, January 08, 2022

A great actor passed -- not a great person, not a great lover, not a great activist

I'll note this:

Sidney Poitier's family is remembering the beloved Oscar-winning actor following his death.

The star died at the age of 94, the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office confirmed to Fox News Digital on Friday. Prime Minister of the Bahamas Philip Davis also held a press conference on Friday morning where he remembered the film icon as an "actor and film director, an entrepreneur, civil and human rights activist and, latterly, a diplomat."

Following tributes from countless celebrities and high-profile figures across the world, his family is remembering the groundbreaking actor on Friday not just for his professional achievements, but also as a man "who put family first."


Really?  I guess it's good Diahann Carroll died two years ago.  She and Sidney were both married when they started their nine year affair.  He got her to leave her husband by promising that he was leaving his wife.  He lied to Diahann.  She didn't forgive him for it, nor should she have.

Sidney was a great actor and, for a brief time, really good politically.  By the mid-seventies that was gone (the good politics).  It's why he and Harry Belafonte fell out long ago.  

He was a great actor.  Let's not try to inflate him beyond that.


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, January 7, 2022.  The Iraq War continues and the persecution of Julian Assange continues?  Who's the president?  Pin the blame on him.

US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange.  

Julian Assange: "A knowledgeable public, is an empowered public, is a free public" #FreeAssangeNOW

Why does Joe Biden insist upon persecuting Julian Assange? 

He needs to be asked that.  He's the one with the power here.  Make it personal.  For Julian Assange, this is his life.  It is very personal.

So, Joe, why are you persecuting Julian?  

What's it going to take for you to stop persecuting him?

Time to put Joe on the spot.

He wants to do this, make him justify it.  

Julian Assange revealed the truth -- that's not a crime.

Julian Assange is the founding editor and publisher of Wikileaks, the pioneering transparency website. Wikileaks exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, torture at Guantanamo and other abuses of power, releasing thousands of secret U.S. government and military documents that major news organizations worldwide, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian then used as the basis for award-winning reporting. Assange is currently locked up in England’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison, which has been described as the “British version of Guantanamo Bay,” as he fights the U.S. government’s attempt to extradite him on espionage and hacking charges. If extradited, he faces up to 175 years in prison if found guilty.

On Wednesday, activists marked Assange’s 1,000th day of incarceration at Belmarsh with a rally demanding his release. Prior to Belmarsh, he spent almost seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, under political asylum.

Among those protesting was Stella Moris, Assange’s financĂ©e and the mother of his two youngest children. “It’s really taking a toll on him,” Stella Moris said on the Democracy Now! news hour in November, speaking from outside the UN climate summit in Glasgow. “There’s no end in sight. This can go on for years, potentially.”

Stella Moris announced the 1000th-day vigil in a tweet that included an audio recording reportedly made inside Assange’s Belmarsh cell. Men screaming, guard dogs barking, and the incessant clang of metal doors slamming open and closed echo through the recording, painting a stark picture of the harsh conditions inside Belmarsh.

“The U.N. special rapporteur on torture has said that he is being psychologically tortured,” Moris continued. “His physical health has seriously deteriorated. They are killing him. If he dies, it’s because they are killing him. They are torturing him to death.”

Moris recently revealed that Assange had suffered a mini-stroke in prison on October 27th, the first day of his High Court appeal hearing. That court ultimately sided with the U.S. government, ordering that his extradition could proceed. Assange is currently seeking permission from that same High Court to appeal the ruling to the UK’s Supreme Court.

Threats to journalists and media workers worldwide have been on the rise. The Committee to Protect Journalists stated that, as of December 8th, 24 journalists had been killed in the line of duty in 2021, with eight more whose deaths may have been linked to their work. A record-breaking 293 journalists were imprisoned last year.

President Joe Biden opened his “Summit for Democracy” on December 9th, saying, “Free and independent media. It’s the bedrock of democracy. It’s how the public stay informed and how governments are held accountable. Around the world, press freedom is under threat.”

Biden’s words are true, but ring hollow as his Justice Department seeks to imprison Julian Assange for life, simply for performing those very functions of a free press that Biden praised.

“On the same day the Nobel Peace Prize honors journalists, a UK court ruled that the United States can extradite Julian Assange, a move that seriously damages journalism,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said on December 10th, referring to Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia for their courageous reporting while under threat from their governments. “The U.S. Justice Department’s dogged pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder has set a harmful legal precedent for prosecuting reporters…The Biden administration pledged at its Summit for Democracy this week to support journalism. It could start by removing the threat of prosecution under the Espionage Act now hanging over the heads of investigative journalists everywhere.”

A coalition of 24 groups, including Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders called on the Biden administration to halt its Assange prosecution, saying it “threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely—and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do.”

It's not 'the Biden administration.'  Have the guts to speak up or go cower in the corner, RABBLE.  It's Joe Biden.  One person holds Julian Assange's fate in their hands -- just one person.

Call him out or shut up because we don't need you.  We don't need you distracting or diverting attention.

Hang this around Joe Biden's neck, where it belongs.  Hang it around his neck and force him to face reality: History will punish him forever if he does not stop persecuting Julian.

Hang it around his neck. 

He wants it so make him own it.

"The future of journalism is at stake - it will not stop with Julian Assange" #FreeAssangeNOW

Let’s talk about what is indisputable, who really was endangered and by whom.

The United States of America jeopardized the lives of Iraq’s entire 25 million people with an illegal and reckless invasion based on the lies that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had direct ties to al Qaeda.

It’s indisputable that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi combatants and civilians were killed in the eight-year war because of violence and war-related causes. (Research in 2013 put the total at 400,000). It’s indisputable that four million Iraqis fled their country. Millions more were displaced internally.

It’s reasonable to say millions of Iraqis were wounded by violence or suffered illness from war-related causes. It’s fair to say millions of Iraqis will struggle with trauma and mental illness for life, that a countless number have already killed themselves.

American families suffered too: 4,431 U.S. soldiers were killed in the war and 31,994 wounded. Hundreds of thousands of American veterans have PTSD or moral injury, affecting millions of loved ones and friends. Same goes for any other foreigner who spent time in Iraq – soldier, security contractor, truck driver, cook, journalist.

And in case people think the Iraq War is over, Islamic State rose from its ashes. Yet no American government or military leader has ever been held to account for the lies and misrepresentations over Iraq. Meanwhile, the United States brazenly misrepresents the facts in its case against Assange with the blessing of successive Australian governments.

That’s why we need to make Assange’s freedom an election issue in Australia. It’s why we need to make noise on social media, in the mainstream media, to politicians, and on the streets. Because Assange is being tortured in a foreign country for telling the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he will be extradited to America where he will likely die in prison.

Remember — the Australian government eagerly took part in the invasion of Iraq. His case is the biggest test of press freedom in decades. Make some noise Australians! Bring Assange home.

According to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Assange has been arbitrarily deprived of his freedom since he was arrested on December 7, 2010. Since then he has been held under house arrest, confined for seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London while he was protected by the administration of former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, and jailed in Belmarsh.

"The U.S. government is trying to put an Australian publisher on trial in a U.S. national security court, where he faces a 175-year sentence and imprisonment in conditions of torture and total isolation, simply because he was doing his job," Morris said. "He received true information about the victims and the crimes committed by U.S. operations in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq from Chelsea Manning, and he published it."

Lisa McCormick Tweets:

After American leaders dismissed human tragedies as "collateral damage" #JulianAssange & released more than 490,000 documents about the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is journalism, not a crime.

And Desiree notes:

~ Julian Assange ~ "The Iraq War was the biggest issue for people of my generation in the West. It was also the clearest case, in my living memory, of media manipulation and the creation of a war through ignorance."

It meant a lot to people around the world -- the illegal war.

It never meant much to US politicians which is why so many whores were on the floor of Congress Thursday gushing over War Criminal Dick Cheney.

They're whores.

They don't represent the people and they never did.  Dick told them to go F**K themselves on the floor of Congress and that's forgotten as are his lies and his crimes because whores don't have ethics.

You should write your whore and ask them what they're doing for you and how embracing Dick Cheney helps put food on your table?  Maybe they'll reply with a list of their services and how much they charge for each act?  Whores.  

The Iraq War goes on because Congress is a bunch of whores.

Big, tough Congress.  They were going to cut off the funding of the war.   Remember that?  If meassures of success weren't met they were going to . . . Then the tired whores went to sleep and forgot all about it. 

A veteran US diplomat says American forces are not leaving the Middle East in the near future despite Washington’s announcement of an end to its “combat mission” in Iraq.

Last month, the US announced an end to its combat mission in Iraq, but many Iraqi leaders have warned that nothing has changed in the number of American troops and the relabeling is a cloak to deceive the Iraqi people who are fiercely opposed to the presence of American forces.

In an article published by the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Syria and Algeria, said it was “ridiculous” to believe the US was leaving the Middle East, adding “the American forces are not leaving Syria and Iraq in the near future.”

“First, the Americans are keeping their bases in the [Persian] Gulf region in countries like Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. They are expanding the Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan. At the same time, the American navy continues to operate in the [Persian] Gulf and near the Arabian Peninsula,” Ford explained.

Second, he continued, neither of the former and current US presidents, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, withdrew all the American forces out of Syria or Iraq.

“In fact, the number of soldiers hasn’t changed for about two years and will not change much during the next few years. The Americans have promised not to undertake unilateral combat missions in Iraq and that is new,” the retired American diplomat pointed out.

Along with serving as the US Ambassador to Syria during Barack Obama two terms as president, Robert S. Ford served from 2008 to 2010 as the US Deputy Ambassador to Iraq.

The main political parties that won sizeable blocs in Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary elections are yet to reach agreements on power-sharing as the country’s parliament is scheduled to hold its first session Sunday.

After Iraq’s Supreme Court endorsed the results of the election, Barham Salih, Iraq’s President, on December 30, called on the new legislative body of 329 seats, to convene on January 9th.

Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, it is a political tradition that the country’s three presidencies are shared among the three main components; the Prime Minister for the Shias, Speaker of the Parliament for the Sunnis and Iraq’s Presidency for the Kurds.  

As time is running short, the Shia parties have yet to settle their disputes. Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr’s bloc, which has 73 seats, wants to establish a national majority government, and to sideline the pro-Iran militia groups gathered under the Shia Coordination Framework. But the latter have threatened to destabilse Iraq if Sadr were to try to marginal them.

According to Iraq’s constitution, in the first session of Iraq’s parliament, lawmakers must swear in a speaker and two deputies. To slip away from this constitutional obligation, however, it is expected that the session would be left open until all the sides would reach agreements to satisfy the different sides.  

The disputes among the Sunnis and the Kurds on who will be nominated for the Speakership and the Presidency have not been settled yet. This is expected to delay the process of power-sharing, as the country faces crucial security and political challenges.  

“Naming Iraq’s three presidencies would take some extra time,” Masaud Abdulkhaliq, a Kurdish political observer told The New Arab.

Still no government.  In fact, "If you need to reach is 163, then 73 isn't really that close " remains true and we posted that back on October 23rd.  

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Climate change before our eyes

Fish.  Damon Arthur (REDDING RECORD) reports:

Marking the second time in the past six years, nearly the entire hatch of endangered winter-run chinook salmon were wiped out in 2021 due in part to high water temperatures in the Sacramento River in the Redding area.

Fisheries officials said a vitamin deficiency in adult fish also likely contributed to the deaths of their offspring.

Only about 2.6% of the wild winter-run salmon that hatched in the river survived long enough to make it to Red Bluff, according to a memo from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

And then less than half of the fish that made it to Red Bluff also survived to make it out to the San Joaquin Delta. It was one of the worst years on record for winter-run survival, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Our world, we're the ones trashing it.  Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow (SACREMENTO BEE) note:

The fate of the winter-run salmon has profound implications for California’s chronically overtaxed water supplies, even as recent rain and snowpack levels suggest the drought might be easing. Environmental restrictions aimed at propping up the fish populations could deprive cities and farmers of water deliveries this year.

 At the same time, fishermen and environmentalists say the salmon’s pitiful survival rate, among the lowest on record, is a disaster that should have been prevented – and raises questions about California’s and the Biden Administration’s commitment to the environment. Regulators, however, said the survival figures reflect the severity of one of the worst droughts ever, as well as other factors.


Here is a video report.

When do we realize how serious the problem is and starts addressing it.  Are we just going to scream about climate change until it gets here and then wonder why we did nothing?  I want to know.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Julian Assange remains persecuted, DoD admits US troops in Iraq are still in harms way, and much more.

Julian Assange remains persecuted.

Ending the perseuction is not that difficult.  The US government just has to agree to stop punishing people for jounalism.  The US government just has to accept that The First Amendment exists and is a law.  Joe Biden has to realize that not only has this been wrong-headed, it's seriosly damaged Julian's health.  To put this right, charges need to be dropped and Joe has the power to do that.

John Pilger notes:

Julian #Assange has now spent 1000 days in Belmarsh prison. His crime is truth. Watch this powerful video by Hong Kong's leading journalist, Yonden Lhatoo, whose work I admire. Watch and learn about our true enemy.
Quote Tweet
In his New Year’s message, Yonden Lhatoo demands Western governments free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before preaching press freedom to everyone else.

Stella Morris also notes that it is now 1000 days in prison for political prisoner Julian Assange.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be Julian's 1000th day in Belmarsh high security prison. One thousand days of this.

This latest NBC News article on Assange by former FBI Assistant Director Figliuzzi features all of these corrupt dynamics. MSNBC has been repeatedly promoting it. That is remarkable on its own: a so-called "news outlet” is cheering — indeed, salivating over — the Biden administration's attempt to criminalize Assange under “espionage” laws for the sin of reporting genuine documents showing all sorts of improper conduct by the agencies whose former operatives now staff that network. Given that press freedom groups in the West have uniformly condemned the prosecution of Assange as a grave threat to a free press, it is stunning to watch a corporation that claims to be in the news business cheering rather than denouncing it.

But for the U.S. media, that is just ordinary corruption and subservience to the CIA: it is hardly rare to find "journalists” giddy over the prospect of Assange's ongoing imprisonment. What makes this new article particularly notable is that the FBI — when Figliuzzi was a senior official there — was directly involved in the attempt to investigate, frame and prosecute Assange. Yet the article, while identifying its analyst as “the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, where he served 25 years as a special agent and directed all espionage investigations across the government,” makes no mention of his direct personal interest in the Assange prosecution.

The primary claim of this article is an unhinged conspiracy theory. Figliuzzi asserts that extraditing Assange onto U.S. soil could endanger Donald Trump. The former FBI official barely conceals his glee over the prospect that Assange could somehow offer up dirt on Trump in exchange for a promise of leniency from prosecutors:

If the Department of Justice plays its cards right, it can make the case precisely about those Russian government hacks and WikiLeaks' dissemination of the content of those hacks by offering a deal to Assange in return for what he knows.

That’s what should worry Trump and his allies. . . . Assange may be able to close the gap between collusion and criminal conspiracy. Assange got the Democratic National Committee data dump from an entity long suspected to be a front for the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service. . . Assange may be able to help the U.S. government in exchange for more lenient charges or a plea deal. Prosecutions can make for strange bedfellows. A trade that offers a deal to a thief who steals data, in return for him flipping on someone who tried to steal democracy sounds like a deal worth doing.

So, DOJ, if you’re listening…

That Assange "stole data” is an absolute lie — not even the U.S. Government claims this — but NBC News has previously shown that it has no qualms about disseminating that particular lie. As for Figliuzzi’s belief that Assange possesses secret information about Trump's collusion with Russia over the 2016 election: that is nothing short of madness. Robert Mueller did not even attempt to interview Assange, precisely because the Special Counsel (Figliuzzi's former boss) obviously recognized that Assange had no information that would assist Mueller's investigation to determine whether Trump or his associates criminally conspired with Russia. If Assange really has information showing Trump criminally worked with the Kremlin, how can Figliuzzi justify that Mueller, during eighteen months of investigating that question, never even sought to speak to Assange?

Moreover, if — as Figliuzzi fantasizes — Assange were in possession of some sort of smoking gun that Mueller never found but which would finally prove Trump's guilt on various crimes, why did Trump not pardon Assange? After all, if this twisted fantasy that NBC News is promoting had any validity — namely, Trump will be in big trouble once the U.S. succeeds in extraditing Assange to the U.S. to stand trial — why was it the Trump administration that brought these charges against Assange in the first place, and why would Trump not have pardoned Assange in order to prevent such a deal from taking place? None of what Figliuzzi is claiming has any evidence to support it or even makes any minimal sense.

But as usual, that is no bar to NBC News and MSNBC publishing and aggressively promoting it. As I will never tire of pointing out, it is the corporate media outlets that most vocally denounce disinformation which are the ones guilty of spreading it most frequently and destructively.

Meanwhlie, last year found US President Joe Biden announcing combat was over for US troops in Iraq.  Combat did not end just because Joe tossed out a few words.  This is from the US Defense Dept:

Even though the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq has changed, the troops are still in a hazardous environment and retain the ability to defend themselves, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby told reporters today.

Video Player

The mission of U.S. forces shifted from combat to advise and assist two weeks ago, per an agreement between the United States and Iraq. Yet troops advising and assisting Iraqi forces are at risk.

Forces launched strikes against rocket-launching sites near Green Village in Syria and shot down two armed drones targeting forces in Al Asad Air Base. There were no casualties among friendly forces.

The strikes against the rocket-launching sites were not airstrikes, Kirby said. Forces hit the sites to ensure rockets were not launched against coalition forces. 

But that begs the greater question of if U.S. personnel are at risk in the mission. "They clearly are at risk in the region," Kirby said. "I mean, one of the reasons why these sites were hit was [that] we had reason to believe that they were going to be used as launch sites for attacks on Green Village. So clearly, our men and women remain in harm's way. And we have to take that threat very seriously. We always have the right of self-defense."

Kirby would not say who manned these rocket-launching sites. "That said, we continue to see threats against our forces in Iraq and Syria by militia groups that are backed by Iran," he said. "But again, I don't have specific attribution on who was responsible for these specific sites."

Iran is a major player in Iraq and U.S. officials have been consistently concerned about the threats to U.S. forces in the region. "That is not a new concern," Kirby said. "And I think we've seen in just the last few days, that there have been acts perpetrated by some of these groups that validate the consistent concern that we've had over the safety and security of our people."

On Russia, Kirby said should NATO allies ask for more U.S. capabilities in Europe, "we would be positively disposed to consider those requests." Still, he noted, the United States has a "very large and robust footprint" in Europe that complements the sizable capabilities that European allies possess. "There already exists a lot of capabilities [in Europe]," he said. "And some of those capabilities could be moved around — if that was, in fact, the request and was decided that would be the most prudent thing to do."

There are many options that President Joe Biden has if Russia decides to launch another incursion into Ukraine, Kirby said, but nothing has been asked for yet.

Let's wind down because I'm tired.  COVID.  The pandemic hasn't ended.  More government resources need to be targeted towards the pandemic.  

I got both shots and the booster.  Monday, I took a test and found out the next day that I have COVID.  I'm fine and will be fine.  Others are not so fortunate.  I don't have to worry about money or losing a roof over my head.  Others are not so fortunate.  A UBI is needed for the American people.  And a serious plan is needed for addressing this pandemic.  Joe Biden ran for president knowing about the pandmeic.  His refusal to address issues related to the pandemic are appalling.  

That Joe Biden is failing at his job is bad enough but he is also failing the country and that cannot be allowed.  If he's not up for the job, he should resign. 

Anthony Fauci is an abject failure and Joe should fir him immediately.

The following sites updated: