Monday, January 16, 2023


I plan to note history and, today, I've got a good reason too.  This:

The day was September 20, 1958. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., then 29, was in a Harlem department store, signing copies of Stride Toward Freedom, his account of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott which he led.

He was suddenly approached by a 42-year-old well-dressed woman, who asked him:

“Are you Martin Luther King?”

“Yes,” King replied, without looking up from where he was signing his book.

The stylishly dressed woman, who would later be identified as Izola Ware Curry, said: “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and plunged a 7-inch, ivory-handled steel letter opener into King’s chest.

Curry had in her bra a loaded 25-calibre automatic pistol, which she wanted to use but was stopped before she could get to it, reported the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

She did not attempt to run but rather indicated: “I’ve been after him for six years.

She died in 2015 and was 98 years old. From WIKIPEDIA:

King went on a tour to promote his book, Stride Toward Freedom, soon after it was published. During a book signing at Blumstein's department store in Harlem, on September 20, 1958, Curry approached and asked him if he was Martin Luther King Jr. When King replied in the affirmative, Curry stabbed him in the chest with a steel letter opener.

An advertising executive for The Amsterdam News, a prominent Black newspaper, grabbed and restrained Curry. A well-meaning bystander reached out to pull the letter opener out of King's chest, but by this time New York City police officers Al Howard and Philip Romano had arrived upon the scene and acted quickly. They immediately recognized the risk of pulling out the opener and prevented the bystander from acting, then called Harlem Hospital to coordinate with doctors how to get King safely out of the store without risking having the knife be jarred. This included some subterfuge on the part of Officer Howard, announcing to the large assembled crowd that Dr. King would be taken to an ambulance arriving at the front of the store (and going there himself to wait, to maintain the ruse), while in actuality Officer Romano and others carefully carried him, still sitting in his chair, out the back.[4]

Careful surgery was required to remove the blade.[5] King wrote in his posthumously published autobiography that he was told that:

the razor tip of the instrument had been touching my aorta and that my whole chest had to be opened to extract it. 'If you had sneezed during all those hours of waiting,' Dr. Maynard said, 'your aorta would have been punctured and you would have drowned in your own blood.'[6]

While he was still in the hospital, on September 30, King issued a press release in which he reaffirmed his belief in "the redemptive power of nonviolence" and issued a hopeful statement about his attacker: "I felt no ill will toward Mrs. Izola Currey [sic] and know that thoughtful people will do all in their power to see that she gets the help she apparently needs if she is to become a free and constructive member of society."[7] He issued a similar statement on his return home, again stating that he hoped she would get help, and that society would improve so that "a disorganized personality need not become a menace to any man."[8] On October 17, after hearing King's testimony, a grand jury indicted Curry for attempted murder.[9]

At the time of her attack on King, Curry was also carrying a loaded Galesi-Brescia pistol, hidden inside her bra.[10][11][12]

And let's stay on Dr. King for a moment more to note this from AP:

The Rev. Bernice King, who leads The King Center in Atlanta, said leaders — especially politicians — too often cheapen her father’s legacy into a “comfortable and convenient King” offering easy platitudes.

“We love to quote King in and around the holiday. ... But then we refuse to live King 365 days of the year,” she declared at the commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her father once preached.

The service, sponsored by the center and held at Ebenezer annually, headlined observances of the 38th federal King holiday. King, gunned down in Memphis in 1968 as he advocated for better pay and working conditions for the city’s sanitation workers, would have celebrated his 94th birthday Sunday.

Her voice rising and falling in cadences similar to her father's, Bernice King bemoaned institutional and individual racism, economic and health care inequities, police violence, a militarized international order, hardline immigration structures and the climate crisis. She said she’s “exhausted, exasperated and, frankly, disappointed” to hear her father’s words about justice quoted so extensively alongside “so little progress” addressing society's gravest problems.

“He was God’s prophet sent to this nation and even the world to guide us and forewarn us. ... A prophetic word calls for an inconvenience because it challenges us to change our hearts, our minds and our behavior,” Bernice King said. “Dr. King, the inconvenient King, puts some demands on us to change our ways.”


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Monday, January 16, 2023.  Iraq gears up to face Qatar as the Arab Gulf Cup continues, US troops to remain in Iraq, the CIA doesn't feel they have to follow the laws or to face legal review, the war on the LGBTQ+ community continues, and much more.

Excitement in Iraq as the Arab Gulf Cup resumes today with Iraq facing off against Qatar.  

Meanwhile, Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) reports:

A bus carrying football fans from Dhi Qar to Basra collided with a truck on Monday, resulting in at least six dead and 22 others injured, according to a statement by Dhi Qar’s health directorate. 

Dhi Qar Deputy Governor Faisal al-Sharifi told Rudaw that the accident occurred due to the dense fog that is clouding the province at the moment.

MEHR NEWS AGENCY says the number killed has risen to 15 with eleven more injured.

In spite of that unfortunate accident, the excitement continues ahead of the game.

They celebrate as the news comes out the US troops are not leaving Iraq.  REUTERS reports, " Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani defended the presence of U.S. troops in his country and set no timetable for their withdrawal, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Sunday." Robert Tollast (THE NATIONAL) explains:

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr Al Sudani said that the “elimination of ISIS needs some more time”, when asked about the US troop presence, which has been authorised by the Iraqi government to train the Iraqi army since 2014.

About 2,500 US soldiers remain in Iraq, from a high of over 5,000 during the war against ISIS between 2014 and 2018. The small contingent was deployed to Iraq following a withdrawal of US forces in 2011 after eight years of occupation. At its peak, the force numbered 170,000 in 2007, when Iraq was beset with sectarian violence and fighting between international coalition forces and insurgents.

Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) notes, "The PM’s statement comes despite repeated demands from Iran-backed political groups in Iraq calling for terminating the presence of the foreign forces, including from within the Coordination Framework -of which Sudani is a member-."  ALJAZEERA notes, "His statements underlined the difficult tack the prime minister has sought in his dealings with the US and with Iran, which, beyond having substantial sway in domestic Iraqi politics, is also a key provider of natural gas and electricity to the country. The prime minister hailed Iran and Iraq’s close economic and security ties during a visit to Tehran in November."

Eight years of the US fighting ISIS and it still it continues.  One year away from a decade.  Still it's used as the excuse to continue the ongoing Iraq War.  All these years later.

Reminder, DEMOCRACY NOW! has a special event this week:

On Jan. 20, Democracy Now! will live-stream the Belmarsh Tribunal from Washington, D.C. The event will feature expert testimony from journalists, whistleblowers, lawyers, publishers and parliamentarians on assaults to press freedom and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Watch here live at 2 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 20.

Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Srecko Horvat, the co-founder of DiEM25, will chair the tribunal, which is being organized by Progressive International and the Wau Holland Foundation.

Members of the tribunal include:

Stella Assange, partner of Julian Assange and member of his defense team

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower

Noam Chomsky, linguist and activist

Jeremy Corbyn, member of U.K. Parliament and founder of the Peace and Justice Project

Chip Gibbons, policy director of Defending Rights & Dissent

Kevin Gosztola, managing editor of Shadowproof

Margaret Kunstler, civil rights attorney

Stefania Maurizi, investigative journalist, Il Fatto Quotidiano

Jesselyn Radack, national security and human rights attorney

Ben Wizner, lead attorney at ACLU of Edward Snowden

Renata Ávila, human rights lawyer, technology and society expert

Jeffrey Sterling, lawyer and former CIA employee

Steven Donziger, human rights attorney

Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief, WikiLeaks

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher, The Nation

Selay Ghaffar, spokesperson, Solidarity Party of Afghanistan

Betty Medsger, investigative reporter

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.

But what the US government is fighting right now is to avoid CIA actions being examined by a court of law. Kevin Gosztola (SCHEER POST) reports:

The Central Intelligence Agency and former CIA director Mike Pompeo notified a federal court in New York that they intend to push for the dismissal of a lawsuit that alleges that they were involved in spying against attorneys and journalists who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Both the CIA and Pompeo maintain that the “allegations in the complaint do not establish a violation of the Fourth Amendment [right to privacy].”

In August 2022, four Americans who visited Assange in the embassy sued the CIA and Pompeo in his individual capacity: Margaret Ratner Kunstler, a civil rights activist and human rights attorney; Deborah Hrbek, a media lawyer, represented Assange or WikiLeaks; journalist John Goetz, who worked for Der Spiegel when the German media organization first partnered with WikiLeaks; and journalist Charles Glass, who wrote articles on Assange for The Intercept.

The filed complaint alleged that as visitors Glass, Goetz, Hrbek, and Kunstler were required to “surrender” their electronic devices to employees of a private company called UC Global that was contracted to provide security for the embassy. What they did not know was that UC Global “copied the information stored on the devices” and allegedly shared the information with the CIA, and Pompeo allegedly authorized and approved the action.

Security contractors required the attorneys and journalists to leave their devices with them, which contained “confidential and privileged information about their sources or clients.”

In other news, Ashley Iasimone (BILLBOARD) reports:

Maren Morris got emotional as she fulfilled a “decade-long dream” of serving as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The country star appeared on Friday’s (Jan. 13) episode of the series and that night tweeted: “I’ve done some cool s—. #DragRace is rivaling it all. Getting my jacket framed next to my Grammy. It is DONE.”

In a post-episode Untucked clip, Morris was teary-eyed as she spoke from her heart to the room.

“Coming from country music and its relationship with LGBTQ+ members, I just want to say I’m sorry,” Morris said. “And I love you guys for making me feel like a brave voice in country music. So I just thank you guys so much for inspiring me.”  

Armando Tinoko (DEADLINE) adds:

  Morris has been standing up for the LGBTQ+ community within the country music industry for quite some time. In 2022, she called out country singer Jason Aldean’s influencer wife Brittany Aldean after making comments about the transgender community.

Brittany then made an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show where they called Morris a “lunatic” after “The Middle” singer referred to her as a “scumbag human” and “Insurrection Barbie.”

However, Morris turned the narrative around and started selling a t-shirt that read, “Lunatic country music person,” and ended up raising over $100k for the transgender community.

Jordan Robledo (GAY TIMES) quotes Mistress Isabelle Brookes replying, "Just you being here shows that you’re an ally."

The stupidity of people like Jason Aldean's wife always surprises me.  No, I don't mean for failing to define herself.  She's the second wife and she'll hold onto that title until Jason finds his third wife.

I'm referring to income.  I'm referring to career.  I've never abused my fans by telling them how to vote or by insulting them.  Jason, at one point, had some gay fans.  He may still.  But I have no idea why the appendage is trying to run them off or allowed to.

There are a lot of gay men and women into country music.  Randy Travis wouldn't have had a career without them.  Those 'hunky photos' were catering to gay men, not to straight women and Lib Hatcher used those photos to cement a foundation for Randy. And gay men took up Randy before anyone.  

You need your fans.  You don't have a career without them.  You shouldn't take them for granted and you certainly shouldn't hurl hate at them.

But there's a lot of hate out there today.  Including in a city of Kentucky.  Julia Sandor (WKTY) reports:

There’s been vandalism and hateful posters throughout downtown Lexington.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community see things like this far too often.

It’s something Catherine Taylor, with the Lexington Pride Center, said won’t change them.

“We respect other people’s belief systems, but at the end of the day when you threaten somebody because you don’t agree with what they’re doing, that’s a problem,” Taylor said.

The Lexington Pride Center makes it a point to talk about these issues in the community.

They host a “heart to heart” where people get together to talk about things that happen, like the placement of the hateful signs in downtown Lexington.

“It’s a way of connecting with people that are going through the same things who are LGBTQIA identifying because it is scary,” they said.

They said it feels like they’re constantly on guard, never knowing what could happen next.

And they're right to be concerned when so many are expressing hate and getting away with it.  If you missed it, some on the 'left' are working overtime to pretty up hate merchant Marjorie Taylor Greene -- very glad that THE VANGUARD refused to praise that nut job but there are many -- including Glenneth Greenwald -- who have no ethics and who are trying to make her their party hag.  Sad when MSNBC has more bravery than Glenneth:

MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart on Sunday confronted GOP House candidate Leon Benjamin Sr. over a 2011 Facebook post in which he likened those in the LGBTQ community to people who are “sick,” have bipolar disorder and are addicted to drugs and alcohol.  

“You started this conversation by saying you were ‘running to be a bridge.’ You used the word unity. How is that being a bridge? How is that being a unifier for the 4th Congressional District of Virginia, that most likely has LGBTQ people in that district?” Capehart asked in an interview on his “The Sunday Show.” 

MEDIAITE has posted video of the exchangeRobert Tann (SUMMIT DAILY) reports on efforts in Summit, Colorado:

[Superintendent Tony]Byrd stood by the district’s commitment to equity and inclusion, adding: “We have a district theme of ‘we belong.’ We want every single student to feel included in our system, and the LGBTQ community is one of many communities that don’t feel included.” 

The October resolution, which did not legislate any new policy outside of what was already established in the district’s equity policy, came as a response to concerns that the Colorado State Board of Education could vote to keep omissions it made to references about LGBTQ people as well as communities of color and other groups in its social studies standards for public schools. 

The following sites updated: