Alex Lantier (WSWS) reports:
The burning of Notre-Dame is a horrifying manifestation of destructive processes capitalism has unleashed in every country. The period since the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and particularly since the 2008 Wall Street crash, has seen relentless austerity combined with feverish rearmament across Europe. Macron presides over multi-trillion-euro European Union bank bailouts, plans to spend €300 billion on the army by 2023, and billions in tax cuts to the rich.
As a result, every truly vital program is under-funded and every corner is cut. The intended result, deemed perfectly natural by the corporate media and the powers-that-be, is the systematic impoverishment of working people, the slashing of social services, and the de-funding of cultural institutions. At times, however, the reckless, selfish and parasitic character of the policies pursued by the financial aristocracy find expression in the destruction of great monuments of human culture.
During the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, American occupation troops encouraged the looting of the Iraqi National Museum and stood by as it occurred, leading to the loss of 50,000 artifacts dating back 5,000 years and the destruction of the museum’s catalog of its holdings. Then-US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld endorsed the looting, declaring, “Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes.”
The burning of Notre Dame is not in the final analysis separate from such bloody acts of plunder, including the looting of the old city of Palmyra by NATO’s Islamist proxy militias in the Syrian war. It flows from policies carried out by the same ruling class, with the same essential aims.
Macron, despised by workers in France as the “president of the rich,” subordinates every question to the financial aristocracy’s drive for self-enrichment. His tax cuts for the rich allowed billionaire Bernard Arnault to increase his personal wealth by over €22 billion last year alone.
There's an ideology that puts us all at risk, all around the world. Barack Obama's friend Emanuel Macron carries out the same destructive plans Barack did. No one is safe with this ideology and it's the ideology of Neera Tanden and others. It will be widely discredited ideology in another ten years and the same US publications that give Neera and others a pass today will be explaining how awful she and her kind were. Some of the same reporters may still be around then and they'll act like they always found Neera appalling.
But they didn't.
It's like the robber-baron class of 19th century. That they were destructive and liars and cheats? Not a big surprise. But while the press could look the other way, it did. That's what they always do. The American press is not a people's press and never has been. That's why the corporate press went along with Harvey Weinstein, for example. He was hideous. Each year the Academy Awards got worse because of him as he tried to smear and attack, tried to turn an artistic award into a blood sport, tried to destroy Ron Howard and many others. And did anyone comment in the press? No, not against Harvey. They were happy to repeats his smears and lies as truth, they were happy to do his work.
And it's the same today with the people who are destroying our country, who are destroying our world. The US press does not exist to expose them, it exists to advance them up until the point when a Harvey finally becomes a liability. Then? It's, "Oh, he was always awful." And, sadly, we don't loudly shout the needed follow up question: Why did you cover for him all those years.
The American people did not go to war with Iraq, the US government did and it continues this war. Bully Boy Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have all overseen this wave of the war that began (this wave) with the 2003 US-led invasion. Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency publicly promising to end the Iraq War. But he left office with it still raging. Donald Trump said he was against forever wars but he's now in the third year of his presidency and I'm not seeing a single war he's ended. He said he was ending the war in Syria but what happened? He lost the will to end it? He's not in charge and is overruled by the people working for him? The Afghanistan War has not ended. Despite Congressional efforts (finally) with regard to Yemen, he refused to end that. And, of course, the Iraq War hasn't ended.
When these never-ending wars do end, that's the time the US corporate press will allow a little bit of honesty in their reporting -- while pretending they offered it all along.
Last week, the founder and publisher of WIKILEAKS, Julian Assange, was arrested in London. Legal scholar Jonathan Turley (USA TODAY) has pointed out:
He disclosed a massive and arguably unconstitutional surveillance program by the United States impacting virtually every citizen. He later published emails that showed that the Democratic National Committee and the campaign of Hillary Clinton lied in various statements to the public, including the rigging of the primary for her nomination. No one has argued that any of these emails were false. They were embarrassing. Of course, there is not crime of embarrassing the establishment but that is merely a technicality.
For the US government, the first extreme bit of embarrassment came on Monday April 5, 2010, when WIKILEAKS released military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two REUTERS journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Not only was the US government responsible for that attack, they were responsible for the lies and the coverup that followed. When WIKILEAKS published the video, the truth was known.
Oscar Grenfell (WSWS) details some of the truth WIKILEAKS has reported:
In reality, Assange’s record as a journalist is unparalleled in the contemporary period. As world-renowned investigative journalist John Pilger told a Socialist Equality Party rally in June, 2018: “No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done in calling rapacious power to account.”
When a full record of WikiLeaks investigative exposures is published, it will span volumes.
In a 2006 essay, written shortly after the founding of WikiLeaks, Assange, then the publisher’s editor-in-chief, explained some of the conceptions underlying the project.
He wrote: “Authoritarian regimes create forces which oppose them by pushing against a people’s will to truth, love and self-realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce further resistance. Hence such schemes are concealed by successful authoritarian powers until resistance is futile or outweighed by the efficiencies of naked power.”
In August, 2007, WikiLeaks published the secret report of a Kenyan government investigation into official corruption. The document, produced in 2004, revealed that previous US-backed President Daniel Arap Moi and his closest associates had looted the impoverished country’s economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Its publication sparked mass anger and impacted on the Kenyan national election held in late 2007.
In November 2007, WikiLeaks published a 2003 copy of “Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta,” outlining official US army policy at its brutal Guantanamo Bay prison, where individuals have been illegally detained after rendition operations. The document indicated that the US was preventing the Red Cross from accessing some of the prisoners, a claim the government had previously denied.
In February 2008, WikiLeaks released records of the Cayman Islands branch of Swiss bank Julius Baer. The material, detailing the accounts of 2,000 corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals, including 40 politicians, resulted in allegations of tax avoidance on a vast scale.
The bank responded by suing WikiLeaks and securing an injunction in the US which took down its main website. The decision was subsequently overturned on appeal by a judge, who cited the freedom of the press provisions in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Swiss prosecutors charged and jailed Rolf Elmer, a bank manager who was the source of the material.
During 2008, WikiLeaks also published exposures of the extreme right-wing British National Party, and material on the Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The US response to WikiLeaks’ early publications was swift and brutal.
A secret memo, issued by the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessments Branch of the US Defence Department on March 8, 2008, detailed a plan to destroy the organisation. It was headlined: “Wikileaks.org—An Online Reference to Foreign, Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?” The document called for measures to undermine the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity,” including through threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution.”
In 2009, the number of WikiLeaks publications expanded dramatically.
In January, the organisation published intercepts of the phone conversations of Peruvian businessmen and politicians implicated in a corruption scandal relating to oil contracts the previous year.
In the middle of that year, it released official Iranian reports into a major nuclear accident at the country’s Natanz nuclear facility the previous year. The details of the disaster, which occurred amid stepped-up US and Israeli war threats against Iran, led some to suspect that the accident may have been caused by a malicious computer virus originating from Western intelligence agencies.
Other publications exposed the transfer of vast sums of money from Icelandic banks to their executives and the writing off of major debts on the eve of the country’s 2008 financial crisis; a British Ministry of Defence document outlining measures to prevent leaks; evidence of corporate dumping of toxic material in the Ivory Coast; documents relating to the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the list of websites banned by the Australian government. The latter included news and political sites, exposing the fraudulent character of government claims that the blacklist only targeted child pornography and other illicit content.
In February 2010, the year that WikiLeaks came to the attention of millions of people around the world, the organisation published a US diplomatic cable dubbed Reykjavik 13. It was the first material released, which had been leaked by the courageous US army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
The document detailed previously hidden information about the diplomatic dispute, known as Icesave, that followed Iceland’s financial crisis.
Landsbanki, one of the country’s three largest banks, went bankrupt in 2008. With the national financial authorities rejecting a bailout, over 340,000 retail deposits from the UK and other European nations lost an estimated €6.7 billion in saving, triggering diplomatic recriminations, and a coordinated attempt to mitigate public anger.
In April, WikiLeaks published the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, showing a July 2007 US army helicopter airstrike in Baghdad. It documented US soldiers firing on unarmed civilians. The brutal attack resulted in up to 18 deaths, including two Reuters journalists. After their initial attack, the US forces shot at a group of people who had come to collect the bodies and tend to the wounded.
That is reporting. That is journalism that matters, journalism that impacts our lives.
Dr Naomi Wolf Retweeted
This is an incredible speech by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire at the European Parliament, accepting the GUE-NGL Award for Journalists on Julian Assange's behalf, earlier this week.
Many could speak up for Julian but many don't. Of those who don't, some (the whores) choose to attack Julian and some are even more cowardly and choose to just look the other way. Whores aren't cowardly, they're craven. They'll do anything so that their own ass can profit. That includes actively participating in the persecution of Julian Assange.
Justin Raimondo (ANTIWAR.COM) observes:
There’s only been one person – so far – who suffered for the sins of the world and either saved us a lot of trouble or else caused us a lot of unnecessary grief. All I know is that a lot of people are hoping for His return – and for a better outcome.
As for myself, I fully expect a repeat of the previous scenario: the message, the betrayal, the persecution, and a torturous death.
They isolated Julian in the days before they hauled him out for the public display of his martyrdom. No crucifix this time. No crown of thorns. Just a penumbra of the deepest silence, which grips the very air: yet still he remains unbowed, his head held high.
The liberals who claim to be sympathetic to his cause seem more concerned about his persecution’s effect on their careers, that is on their ability to publish, than on Assange personally. Seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy, pursued around the globe by governments eager to win Washington’s favor, denounced by leading Clintonite apologist Neera Tandem as a "fascist," and excoriated by conservatives as a "traitor." He is a man alone.
One day these spoiled children of the oligarchy are going to have to face down some real fascists, and it isn’t going to be pretty.
Let's hope that day comes very soon.
The Extinction Rebellion consuming London streets is an inspiration. This is real politics. Imagine the same rebellion in support of Julian Assange. Now is the time to show the thugs who rule and arrest and their tame Vichy journalists that "ye are many, they are few".
Amnesty International has issued the following:
Following the announcement of Julian Assange’s arrest, and request for extradition to the United States, Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research in Europe, said:
“Amnesty International calls on the UK to refuse to extradite or send in any other manner Julian Assange to the USA where there is a very real risk that he could face human rights violations, including detention conditions that would violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment and an unfair trial followed by possible execution, due to his work with Wikileaks.
“We are aware of allegations of rape and other sexual violence against Julian Assange, which should be properly investigated in a way that respects the rights of both the complainants and the accused and be brought to justice if there is sufficient evidence against him. If Sweden decides to pursue an extradition of Mr. Assange from the UK, there must be adequate assurances that he would not be extradited or otherwise sent to the USA.
“It remains unclear what formal process took place to allow the UK authorities to enter the Ecuadorian embassy and detain Julian Assange, who had reportedly had his Ecuadorian citizenship suspended yesterday. We urge the UK authorities to comply with the assurances provided to Ecuador that he would not be sent anywhere he could face the death penalty, torture or other ill-treatment.”
If every journalist did only 1/4 of what Julian's done, the Iraq War would have ended long, long ago.
Instead? It continues.
And life for Iraqi girls and women continues to get worse.
AFP reports, for example, on how those forcing women into marriage were punished under Saddam Hussein but get away with it today:
Women and girls often suffer under these patriarchal systems, with many forced to marry against their will, subject to domestic abuse and deprived of an education.
The southern provinces of Misan and Basra, where tribal influence is widespread, have the highest rates of child marriage in Iraq, the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF said in 2018.
In Misan, 35 percent of married women between 20 and 45 said they wed as teenagers, and in Basra the rate is 31.5 percent.
In one tribal custom known as “fasliya,” women are married off as restitution for blood spilt between two tribes.
[. . .]
A 2017 study of 62 attempted self-immolation cases in Basra found that family problems, including marital issues, were the precipitating factor in 80 percent of the cases.
Authorities in Misan said 198 women had attempted suicide over the past two years, and 14 of them lost their lives.
In all things big and small, the Iraq War has destroyed and is destroying the lives of the Iraqi people.
In Basra, protests have taken place for nearly a year and now many in Basra are demanding independence from the Baghdad-based government.
Basra renews autonomy campaign. As the summer's brutally hot weather approaches, has there been any progress on electricity delivery to Basra & the surrounding region? Will we see mass protests begin w the hot weather? https://www.iraqoilreport.com/news/basra-renews-autonomy-campaign-39349/ … via @iraqoilreport
The following sites updated: