Friday, December 24, 2021

Iraq snapshot

Friday, December 24. 2021.  Joe Biden needs to end the persecution of journalist Julian Assange and THE LOS ANGELES TIMES needs to end their sexist coverage of Iraq.

The most persecuted journalist in the world remains Julian Assange as the US government continues to demand that he be handed over for the crime of 'reporting' and as the UK government continues to hold him in prison while they decide whether or not they're going to hand him over.  Two goverrnment persecuting him while his own government, Australia, sports its own impotency on the world stage.

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden observes:

This Christmas may well be the last that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will spend outside US custody. On December 10, the British High Court ruled in favor of extraditing Assange to the United States, where he will be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information. It is clear to me that the charges against Assange are both baseless and dangerous, in unequal measure — baseless in Assange’s personal case, and dangerous to all. In seeking to prosecute Assange, the US government is purporting to extend its sovereignty to the global stage and hold foreign publishers accountable to US secrecy laws. By doing so, the US government will be establishing a precedent for prosecuting all news organization everywhere — all journalists in every country — who rely on classified documents to report on, for example, US war crimes, or the US drone program, or any other governmental or military or intelligence activity that the State Department, or the CIA, or the NSA, would rather keep locked away in the classified dark, far from public view, and even from Congressional oversight.

I agree with my friends (and lawyers) at the ACLU: the US government’s indictment of Assange amounts to the criminalization of investigative journalism. And I agree with myriad friends (and lawyers) throughout the world that at the core of this criminalization is a cruel and unsual paradox: namely, the fact that many of the activities that the US government would rather hush up are perpetrated in foreign countries, whose journalism will now be answerable to the US court system. And the precedent established here will be exploited by all manner of authoritarian leaders across the globe. What will be the State Department’s response when the Republic of Iran demands the extradition of New York Times reporters for violating Iran’s secrecy laws? How will the United Kingdom respond when Viktor Orban or Recep Erdogan seeks the extradition of Guardian reporters? The point is not that the U.S. or U.K would ever comply with those demands — of course they wouldn’t — but that they would lack any principled basis for their refusals.

The U.S. attempts to distinguish Assange’s conduct from that of more mainstream journalism by characterizing it as a “conspiracy.” But what does that even mean in this context? Does it mean encouraging someone to uncover information (which is something done every day by the editors who work for Wikileaks’ old partners, The New York Times and The Guardian)? Or does it mean giving someone the tools and techniques to uncover that information (which, depending on the tools and techniques involved, can also be construed as a typical part of an editor’s job)? The truth is that all national security investigative journalism can be branded a conspiracy: the whole point of the enterprise is for journalists to persuade sources to violate the law in the public interest. And insisting that Assange is somehow “not a journalist” does nothing to take the teeth out of this precedent when the activities for which he’s been charged are indistinguishable from the activities that our most decorated investigative journalists routinely engage in.

 If you’ve been tuning into the bad news this past week, you’ve certainly encountered a version of precisely this question, is Assange an X or a journalist? In this inane formula X can be anything: hacktivist, terrorist, lizard person. It doesn’t matter what noun you put into this MadLibs, because the entire exercise is pointless.

This kind of sincere, credulous, smug, and gloating inquiry is just the most recent, just-in-time-for-Christmas, example of in-the-flesh-and-in-the-word bad faith, presented by media professionals who are never in worse faith than when they report on — or pass judgment on — other media.

Meanwhile, WSWS notes:

More than 300 doctors and medical professionals from around the world have issued an appeal for the immediate release of Julian Assange from prison in the UK because of the serious deterioration in his health indicated by the stroke he suffered in October during his UK High Court extradition hearing.

On December 22, Doctors for Assange released an open letter, published below, to Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, imploring him to seek the WikiLeaks founder’s urgent release on medical grounds. The letter makes that request based on Joyce’s recent statements suggesting that the US extradition request against Assange should now be dropped.

That hundreds of doctors have again written, warning of Assange’s dire medical situation, underscores the grave dangers he faces as he spends yet another year behind bars with extradition hanging over his head and the prospect of being incarcerated for life on trumped-up US espionage charges.

His health has deteriorated throughout his inhumane treatment -- and the two are related: The inhumanity is destroying him.  That is the point: To destroy him.  This is revenge against Julian by the US government.  They want to destroy him to scare off anyone who might be able to provide the people with real information in the future.

In the future.

So it's 2048 and the world wonders how Julian was persecuted, how this happened, how a tidal wave of outrage didn't compell US President Joe Biden to end the persecution?

Most of us will be 27 years older then, some of us will be dead.  And the young will wonder how did we look the other way?  How did we fail to use our voices, to amplify them, to demand justice?

Right now?  Right now, Joe Biden and the US government have a lot to answer for.  If this persecution continues, we all have a lot to answer for.  

Australia's ABC reports:

Julian Assange's legal team has filed an application to appeal to Britain's Supreme Court against a lower court's ruling this month that he could be extradited to the United States.

US authorities accuse Assange, 50, of 18 counts relating to WikiLeaks' release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables, which they said had put lives in danger.

On December 10 the WikiLeaks founder moved a step closer to facing criminal charges in the United States after Washington won an appeal over his extradition in London's High Court.

The court said it was satisfied with a package of assurances given by the US about the conditions of Assange's detention, including a pledge not to hold him in a so-called "ADX" maximum security prison in Colorado and that he could be transferred to Australia to serve his sentence if convicted.

The Supreme Court is the United Kingdom's final court of appeal.

ALJAZEERA notes, "He has been in custody since 2019, despite having served a previous sentence for breaching bail conditions in a separate case, and spent seven years at Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid being removed to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations that were later dropped."  RT adds, "The WikiLeaks publisher sought asylum from Ecuador in 2012, suspecting -- correctly, as it turned out -- that the US sought his arrest and extradition via unsubstantiated charges pressed in Sweden. He ended up stranded at Ecuador’s embassy in London for years, until his asylum was revoked under pressure from Washington, and British police arrested him in April 2019. He has been held in the maximum-security Belmarsh prison in south London ever since."

Yesterday, the SEP held an online conference on the dire need to end the persecution of Julian.

I get what the US government is doing.  I do.  I get it, they want to silence anyone else, they want to put fear into the public.

Here's what I don't get.

They're public servants.  Joe Biden is a public servant.  Why are we so scared to put the fear into him?  This is his legacy -- an old fool bumbling around trying to live down valid and credible accusations of assault.  If it weren't for Donald Trump, not only would Joe not be president, he wouldn't be the object of endless ridicule.  We've not had a more questionable president.  His iq and his coherence is constantly questioned by the public -- the press carries him along but the public is not so kind.

Joe Biden should be verys cared because there is no second act post-presidency.  He is an old man in poor health.  He will have no accomplishments after he leaves the White House.  This is the final determination and he needs to understand that and we need to make clear to him what a drag persecuting Julian will have on how he is remembered.

Put the scare to us? No, put the scare into him.

Turning to Iraq . . .

I don't know.  

I sat through that hideous Aaron Sorkin garbage.  Nicole Kidman's great, others overcome casting obstacles to deliver but Aaron's problems remain and I'm just damn sick of it.  Yes, Ava and I broke the ground on this back when Aaron was flying high and 'feminist' media from Gloria Steinem and others were praising Aaron and treating him like a god when he was nothing but a jabber jaw with a sexist attitude towards women which only made his writing more limited.  And, yes, all these years later, we can hear jokes an adult cartoons about how sexist Aaron is and how his female characters are underwritten and poorly framed.  I'm glad about that. 

I am.

But this garbage needs to stop.

And nobody's calling it out.  

Nabih Bulos is part of this problem.  And I have called him out here and the response has been whining from friends at THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.  And others calling him out?  Oh, I guess I can do another ten years of documenting the sexism and maybe then others will emerge to make easy jokes?

I don't know that I have ten years.  

So how about we all wake up to what's going on and agree, right now, right here, that it's wrong.

Nabih is writing this week about an issue that's been documented over and over -- drought in Iraq -- and he has nothing to new to offer on the topic and that should be a big problem to his editors but even more so they should be talking to him about his contacts.  Yet again, he's filed another Iraq report that fails to quote or note even one Iraqi women.

Drought doesn't effect them?

Women don't water?

It's 2021.  

Where are the Iraqi women?

And this is THE LOS ANGELS TIMES --t he paper loves to strut around proclaiming just how advanced and current it is.  Yet this is the same paper that has struggled throughout 2021 to even acknowledge that there are women and girls in Iraq.

Exactly how backwater is the editorial staff at THE LOS ANGELES TIMES?

Last month, FRANCE 24 delivered this.


I know that will shock anyone who depends upon THE LOS ANGELES TIMES for their news coverage, but there are women and girls in Iraq.  

Earlier this year, ALJAZEERA reported . . .

Here are a few more reports that all emerged in the last few weeks.  Other outlets can find women in Iraq.  Why can't THE LOS ANGELES TIMES?


It is unacceptable that THE LOS ANGELES TIMES coverage of Iraq is so sexist.  It needs to be called out and called out by everyone.