Saturday, November 12, 2022

Julian Assange, Stephen Troell, and Iraq's drying rivers


At SCHEERPOST, Matt Kennard writes of his interview with Stella Assange (video above):

The wife of the world’s most famous political prisoner is speaking to Declassified as part of her relentless battle to save her husband’s life.

“Sometimes it’s been really, really very difficult for him, and sometimes when he’s able to see the children, when he’s with the children, when there’s progress in the case, then he’s energised,” she adds. “And he’s energised by all the support that he sees out there for him. He gets letters of support and expressions of support constantly.”

One thing immediately noticeable when talking with Stella is she has the same unusual intensity and focus as her husband. For anyone who has met Julian, the similarities are striking.

[. . .]

In 2020, Declassified published a story showing Assange was one of just two inmates at Belmarsh, which then housed 797 prisoners, being held for violating bail conditions.

The figures showed that more than 20% of the prison population was held for murder, while nearly two-thirds — or 477 people — were imprisoned for violent offences. A further 16 inmates were held for offences related to terrorism, including four people who planned to carry out terrorist attacks. Assange himself has never been charged with a violent offence.

“I think they keep him in Belmarsh because they can get away with it, because it’s the most effective way of silencing him, precisely because of this extreme regime that Belmarsh is known for,” Stella says.

“It’s a punishment in itself. The very fact that he is in prison for having exercised his right to seek and actually obtain asylum…that’s a right that’s enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That is a long recognised right that every person has. And it violated a technicality, and it’s usually treated as a technicality if there is a sufficient reason for violating the bail. In this case, there undeniably was.”

Stella, whose real name is Sara, continues: “Very rarely is it actually punished with prison time, and he finished serving that prison sentence in October 2019. But effectively it’s an indefinite sentence because while he exercises his right to challenge the US extradition request, the UK keeps him in Belmarsh at the request of the American government.”

Julian Assange remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden and a host of people who should be supporting him stay silent or heap scorn on him.  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 death. 

Stella Assange also speaks with franceinfo:

franceinfo: How is Julian Assange today?

Stella Morris: He has been in Belmarsh high-security prison since April 11, 2019, when he was arrested outside the Ecuadorian embassy, ​​and his health has been declining ever since. The conditions of detention are very harsh. He had a mini heart attack in October last year. And it is of course very difficult for him to be in isolation. He’s not serving any time, he’s here because the United States wants him extradited because he did his job.

Where are you in the fight for his extradition?

Julian appealed the decision of the British government, which agreed to his extradition. Since that decision in January 2021, we have discovered that there were plans to assassinate Julian in the embassy, ​​to kidnap him etc., when Mike Pompeo was at the head of the CIA. So we defend the fact that Julian cannot be extradited to the country that tried to plan his assassination. There were incredible abuses of process that involved criminality. And we have much more evidence of that today.

When can you present these conclusions and get the final answer to his incarceration?

This is the uncertainty of this whole procedure. We don’t even know if he will be able to appeal, there is no legal obligation to accept it. It can also try to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, but the United Kingdom is trying to free itself from its obligations to this Court. 

This week, in Baghdad, Stephen Troell was killed.

THE NEW ARAB reports:

The killing of US national Stephen Edward Troell in Baghdad on Monday was "pre-planned", three Iraqi security sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The sources said the killers were intending to abduct him but killed him later on after he exchanged gunfire with them.

Troell, a 45-year-old native of Tennessee, was working as an English teacher with an organization affiliated to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The US national was in possession of a licenced gun for self-defence, according to the sources. 

He was killed by unknown assailants in his car as he pulled up to the street where he lived with his family in Baghdad's central Karrada district.

Saturday, Iraq saw heavy rains.  They are needed because the rivers are drying up.  

IRAQI NEWS AGENCY notes the Deputy Special Rep of the UN Secretary-General.  These are the Rep Ghulam M. Isaczai's statements:


When I traveled to Baghdad a month ago to assume my mission in Iraq in order to help in coordinating our support for the government and the people of Iraq, Mesopotamia was completely different from what I had in my mind two decades ago when I first worked in Iraq. Dust is everywhere stirred by hot air. There are also wide areas of desert in which palm trees exist, standing with patience against desertification. It wasn’t Mesopotamia which was described by history as the cradle of civilization
And when I asked Iraqis and others who spent years here, I was told that it wasn’t  likethis before. It’s clear that weather has bad effects on this country. 
In my career, I have visited many countries and seen many problems, but the effect of climate change is massive here. This beautiful fertile land known through history by its civilizations that flourished around the great Tigris and Euphrates is now confronting the international climate crisis as the fifth of the most vulnerable countries in the world.
I was hoping to be more positive in my first speech to the Iraqi Public, but it is hard to hide reality. I must say that we’ve not lost everything, that there is hope in changing the course of things and the Iraqis should take the lead.
With holding the UN 27th conference for Climate Change COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, it is important to discuss environmental issues and challenges in Iraq and what should be done in their concern.
COP27 will rely on the results of COP26 and respond to the intense international climate state of emergency, providing the most needed efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses and building the ability to adjust to the inevitable effects of climate change.
COP27 needs to fulfill its obligations to fund climate work in developing countries, including Iraq. COP27 is regarded as an important chance to governments of the world to hold on their climate obligations keeping to develop them ( nationally specified participations) in accordance with conveying awareness of climate change to Iraq again.
We are all aware of the problems here: extreme weather and climate changes such as heatwaves, heavy rains, rising temperatures, increased precipitation volatility and unpredictability, sandstorms and dust droughts, land degradation, inundation, and water scarcity.

The following sites updated:

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    Meet Kia Marie, Sneaker Fiend


    OZY    A Modern Media CompanyShare This Sh*t          November 12, 2022
    The drop


    When Kia Marie traveled back and forth from New York to California as a kid, she wasn’t just learning how to adapt to new environments quickly, she was also developing her own style. School uniforms left footwear as the only blank canvas for Kia to showcase her individuality, and as an athlete through high school into college, she developed a special affinity for sneakers. Fast forward to today, and those formative years — and a consistent drive to empower people to get more creative with their style — make The Notorious KIA the perfect host for OZY’s brand new Sneaker Fiends video series.


    The Origin

    Julian Michael Caldwell in New York, NY


    To understand just what makes “kickfluencer” Kia a no-brainer to host Sneaker Fiends, it’s important to understand her story. Born in Brooklyn, New York, her family moved to San Diego, California, when she was six years old, launching an upbringing with significant time spent on both coasts. Kia’s known to brag about New York’s reputation as a fashion mecca, and her organic connection to it meant she could always stay ahead of her peers in California when it came to the newest sneaker trends. It’s an advantage she cherished.

    Kia’s teen and early adult years provided an interesting mix of influences. She played basketball in high school, ran track for a short stint in college at West Virginia State University and finished college studying criminal justice at Temple University. It was during her first couple years out of school, while working entry-level and internship positions in legal departments, that she stumbled onto her love for sharing fashion online. Whether it was styling her willing friends to show her skills on the online modeling community Model Mayhem, or blogging on YouTube about how to transform clothes in her closet into fresh, new pieces, Kia found her passion before she knew it would be a career.

    Style. Sneakers. Sustainability.


    Today, to her 325,000 YouTube subscribers and 182,000 Instagram followers, Kia is much more than sneakers. In fact, she’s even more than fashion. Her videos run the gamut from tips on packing before a move, to a behind-the-scenes look at shooting products for her business, to her hair journey, to — of course — her sneaker picks for each new season.

    “My goal is to inspire women to live life unapologetically by finding comfort in their uniqueness,” Kia explains.

    Equally as important to Kia as style is sustainability. Followers can often find her championing sneakers that allow people to make an impact as they walk the streets — without leaving an imprint on the environment. If there’s a sneaker statement piece that’s versatile enough to fit an array of outfits and is made from recycled materials, there’s a good chance The Notorious KIA already has it in her rotation.

    My goal is to inspire women to live life unapologetically by finding comfort in their uniqueness.

     - Kia   


    Kia has partnered with dozens of brands, including Nike, New Balance, Dior and Target, and even launched her own signature hair pick. But she still stays true to her blogging roots, sharing videos of do-it-yourself projects like turning an over-the-shoulder bag into a fanny pack using a belt hole puncher.



    Get a SNEAK peek HERE!

    ‘Sneaker Fiends’


    Every Tuesday, starting Nov. 15, Kia will catch up with female athletes, business owners, stylists and more, whose passion for kicks bleeds into their careers and lifestyles. Whether it’s a conversation with WNBA player Didi Richards, sneaker boutique Premium Goods owner Jennifer Ford or WOODStack IVY buyer Tianna Weatherspoon, you can bank on one thing: If anyone tells Kia a story about a particular sneaker, she already knows exactly what it looks like off the top of her head, and probably has a photo of herself in the same exact pair.

    Viewers will get a look at the classic, most cherished and most eye-popping shoes in the collections of women who consider sneakers an integral part of their lives. If you’re not already a card-carrying sneakerhead, don’t worry. By the end of the series, you’ll begin to recognize the timeless pairs that are versatile enough to go with everything from jeans to a suit to a skirt, and The Notorious KIA will even show you the basics of how to match one pair with multiple different outfits.

    Follow @houseofsneakerfiends on Instagram and tune in to episode 1 of Sneaker Fiends Tuesday, Nov. 15, on YouTube.


    What’s the one pair of sneakers you wear the most?

    OZY is a diverse, global and forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “the New and the Next.” OZY creates space for fresh perspectives, and offers new takes on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment.

    #OZYMedia, #TheDrop

    OZY Media, 800 West El Camino Mountain View, California 94040

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    When Merchants of Death Visited Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, and General Atomics: Photos and Videos

     When Merchants of Death Visited Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, and General Atomics: Photos and Videos

    By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, Armistice Day, 2022

    On Thursday, I caught up with representatives of who are planning a war crimes tribunal next year. They were delivering subpoenas to Washington, D.C.-area offices of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and General Atomics.

    I missed the Lockheed stop but am told they were not very welcoming. I’m reminded of the last time I visited Lockheed and their representatives literally would not open their mouths. Now, if we could just teach their lobbyists that trick.

    When I got to Boeing, peace advocates were gathered in the lobby waiting for someone to come meet with them.

    I said a few words (this video gets better after the first few seconds):

    Brad Wolf (left) served Andrew Lee (center) of Boeing’s PR office with the subpoena:

    Lee claimed that Boeing needed to support the “Department of Defense” and its allies, by which he meant the Pentagon and every nasty government Boeing could get permission from the U.S. government to sell weapons to, and that Boeing did this by “bringing the troops home” with no explanation of who it was who got the troops away from home and would go on doing so. He also — I’m paraphrasing very roughly — seemed to suggest that Boeing helped in widespread slaughter around the globe precisely so that people could come air their grievances in the lobby (unlike, it was implied, in many of the other countries that Boeing sells weapons to). And yet this freedom-isn’t-free malarkey had not helped out at Lockheed Martin and would prove as much a failure as any war when we got to Raytheon and General Atomics. Not that any of these companies alerted each other that we were coming. They clearly did not.

    But Raytheon wouldn’t come out or let us in, and none of the people outside would say they worked for Raytheon.

    When Brad and I went into General Atomics I remarked on how fitting it was that they had a revolving door, before I even saw the guy with the Marines lanyard around his neck — though whether it indicated a past job, the Marines’ birthday, or just bad taste I do not know.

    Following this visit, some of us were talking about the usual problems: war, nuclear danger, climate destruction, broken media, broken government, etc. I said that I thought the biggest problem (not the only problem, as all the other problems are real problems) in persuading people to see through propaganda was not that they were stupid or uneducated or only moveable by emotional appeals and not facts, and not that sensible people were no good at communicating, but rather the general widespread fantasy that what’s on TV or in newspapers has some connection to what’s intelligent or persuasive. The New York Times recently, I noted, had a columnist practically brag about how he’d refused to admit climate collapse was real until someone flew him to a melting glacier. No apology. No warning. No lesson learned. The proper admirable position is apparently precisely to refuse to believe serious evidence until someone flies you to a glacier. But, of course, I commmented, we cannot actually fly every jackass in the world to a melting glacier.

    And yet, if you’re going to fly government officials to an annual COP meeting, why hold it in an Egyptian dictatorship? Why not hold it on a melting glacier? And given the general failure of all else to end war, why not fly the same government officials the next week to Yemen or Syria, Somalia or Ukraine, and set up viewing stands the way they did at Bull Run / Manassas (or Riotsville), and ask them to look solemnly into the camera and explain how what they’re seeing is creating the freedom thousands of miles away to be given a few dismissive words by some hack at the Boeing corporation?


    David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk World Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and U.S. Peace Prize Recipient.

    Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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    Your Road Map To Destroying The Republican Party...And Why It Will Never Happen


    [You’all: I’ve been gone, obviously, for a few months, which I hinted at in June. I’ve basically been working on a new project: JUST TRANSITION FOR ALL, a global effort to make sure millions of workers don’t get screwed in the decarbonization process to save the planet. You can check it out here and, please, sign up to the subscriber-only newsletter. The project explains why writing here might be more sparse but I couldn’t let this moment pass...]

    I’m going to show you, with data, a full-proof roadmap to making the Republican Party a rump party in every state in the country, including the entire southern swath from so-called “red” Florida all the way west to Texas and up the eastern seaboard through the Carolinas—and why this road map will never happen. You will not hear about this any other place because the way politics is generally discussed is so damn superficial.

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    If this is thought of as a national roadmap (it doesn’t have to be national), it would start with the declaration by the candidate for the presidency, Rosie the Riveter: “I will accept your nomination under one condition—it shall be the position of the party in its (typically useless ) platform that every single state party will spearhead a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $20-an-hour, to take effect on the day I am sworn into office and I will campaign in every state on that issue alone. And where a state party refuses to make this its singular focus, it will be the policy of the national party that every single office holder in that state party will be removed and replaced. I will make this initiative my signature, overriding issue of my campaign as a matter of morality and smart economics.”

    I’m making this point today wth essentially the same analysis I made after the 2020 election about Florida, inspired today because of the background noise of the still-to-be-decided Senate race in Nevada. At this moment (Thursday morning, November 10th), the Democratic incumbent, Catherine Cortez Masto, is trailing the Republican by about one percent or 15,000 or so votes; keep that vote gap in mind. Aside: my guess is that she will eventually win by a vary narrow margin once the outstanding heavily-Democratic, mail-in votes are counted.

    But, the real point is something else. On the Nevada election ballot was a proposal to raise the state minimum wage from the current $10.50-per-hour to $12-an hour in less than two years. You never heard of it? Well, that’s probably because you only watch CNN or read The New York Times—neither of which spends more than iota of time on anything but the horse race and gossip.

    Here is the language:


    Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended, effective July 1, 2024, to: (1) establish the State’s minimum wage that employers must pay to certain employees at a rate of $12 per hour worked, subject to any applicable increases above that $12 rate provided by federal law or enacted by the Nevada Legislature; (2) remove the existing provisions setting different rates for the minimum wage based on whether the employer offers certain health benefits to such employees; and (3) remove the existing provisions for adjusting the minimum wage based on applicable increases in the cost of living?

    Unless something dramatic happens, the ballot measure will pass; as of yesterday, it was winning 54 percent to 46 percent. I went to look at the vote totals, by county, for the measure, as of close of business November 9th; I doubt the total will have changed much since yesterday to make a fundamental difference for our discussion today.

    Without exception, in every single county, the ballot measure OUTPERFORMED Masto’s total. In fact, in Clark County, the largest county by population (which, naturally, includes Las Vegas), the ballot measure was, as of yesterday, outpacing Masto’s total by more than the amount she trails her opponent in her race—336,721 supporting the ballot measure versus Masto’s total of 302,953 (again, those totals have shifted slightly since yesterday with a clutch of new ballots counted).

    In the second largest county, Washoe (which includes Reno), although the ballot measure was losing slightly, the “yes” vote was 61,487 versus Masto’s vote of 60,625. Nevada has a bunch of very sparsely populated counties—for example, Eureka, Esmeralda, Storey—in which a total of a few thousands votes were cast. Still, in close elections, every margin matters. And, again, in every single county, Masto received fewer votes than the ballot measure.

    The logical conclusion: did not matter if you were a Democrat, Republican or independent, voters were enthusiastic to embrace something that would boost their wages even if they did not support Masto. Duh!

    This is not an isolated instance. Right after the 2020 election, I did an analysis with the title “A Full-On Populist Biden Would Have Won Florida”. As I wrote:

    What really grabbed my attention in the Florida results was a relatively unremarked upon, at least nationally, Florida victory—the passage of Amendment 2, which will raise the state minimum wage to $15-an-hour by 2026. (Side point for now: keep in mind that $15-an-hour, though a huge leap above the putrid federal minimum wage of $7.25-an-hour, is still below what the minimum wage, federal or state, should be…at least $20-$22-an hour).

    The vote on the initiative was overwhelming: 6,377,444 in favor (60.8 percent) and 4,111,094 opposed (39.2 percent) [votes are as of November 11th 2020]. That is a winning margin of over 2.2 million votes.

    The presidential election results: Trump 5,658,847 (51.2 percent) versus Biden 5,284,453 (47.9 percent). That is a winning margin of just 374,000 plus votes out of more than 10.9 million votes.

    I decided to look county-by-county at the Florida Trump vs. Biden race compared to the Yes-No vote on Amendment 2. In virtually every county, Amendment 2 outperformed Biden’s numbers—in some cases, by a lot (20-70 percent)—and that was true in counties that voted for Trump and even in counties where Amendment 2 lost but still tallied more votes than Biden.

    You can go over there and check out the details—I have every county listed and the vote totals.

    BIG PICTURE: I am going to bet that every time a statewide ballot initiative has been on the ballot in any state that it did better than any statewide candidate running at the same time, for either major party, including Democrats.

    It’s obvious to me why: people respond to proposals that will make their life better. It doesn’t matter how one self-identifies in a political party sense.

    It’s practical. And… progressive—as in making “progress”, not just spouting rhetoric.

    NOW THE BAD NEWS: here is why this will never happen.

    First, national political discourse makes it almost impossible to focus the attention, for any length of time, on actual policy. Transcribers of press releases (formerly known as “journalists”) are entirely not interested in policy, they don’t read and, to be honest, when it comes to those who claim to be political journalists, based on my close-up experiences with a lot of them, they are generally not very smart (with a few exceptions); it’s just a career path dictated by pleasing others and having access.

    Second, I am not one of the knee-jerk folks (you know, the genuises who came up with the dumbest political slogan in recent memory, “defund the police”) who say there is absolutely no difference between the two parties.

    But, the Democratic Party is riddled with a cadre of sycophants, operatives and elected functionaries who have only one goal: to keep power for themselves and pocket really handsome salaries.

    No matter how many times they fail, the cost to them is zero—they keep their jobs (I’ll write more about this when I have time).

    The way they usually keep their jobs is to make the large-dollar “liberal” donors happy—and those big donors generally have zero interest in pushing for livable minimum wages because higher wages for workers means, in the minds of large-dollar donors, lower profits for corporations.

    That entire circle believes in the sanctity of American Exceptionalism, and the main tenet of American Exceptionalism is the beauty of the so-called “free market”—which is violently opposed to dramatically higher livable minimum wages because somehow such an idea is an affront to the “free market” and to the profits scooped up by operating an economic system that is based on wages that people can’t live on.

    Of course, this is truly dumb economics: you can’t have a functioning society in which the vast majority of people can’t pay their bills.

    But, ideology and greeds always win out over common sense.

    So, you see, when people in the Democratic Party cry about Florida turning “red”, I roll my eyes: you made it so. There is a straightforward different path but that is not on the agenda.

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