Saturday, January 28, 2023



Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Pew Stinks On."  Tulsi Gabbard declares, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the party landed on me."  Marjorie Taylor Greene insists, "Ignore her.  She's nuts.  Can you believe I'm going to be Trump's running mate?" Lauren Boebert replies back, "You're crazy too if you think us Christian illiterates are going to vote for an unmarried woman to be Vice President. Harlot!"    Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.   

I'm not addicted to either/or

MNA reports, "Turkish fighter jets launched airstrikes against a village in the Amadiya District of Duhok Governorate in the Kurdistan Region, Iraqi sources reported."  It continue on and on.  

Kind of like the disappointment that Margaret Kimberley provides -- highlighting a homophobe?

Really, Margaret?  

He always manages to bring up LGBTQ+ rights . . . whenever he wants to insult them and explain how unimportant the rights of LGBTQ+ people are.

You do realize he is seen as a homophobe.  I'm not saying anything that's not already by educated people.  He's been spitting on gay rights forever. 

For those not familiar with Bhakal, whenver the US government does something he doesn't like, he's in a tizzy and telling the world that the focus on LGBTQ rights is not important.  That's it not important here in the US or around the world.  So when Moqtada al-Sadr calls for the deaths of gays in Iraq, it's not important.  So this story from BBC -- in 2019 -- it's not important:

Brunei is introducing strict new Islamic laws that make anal sex and adultery offences punishable by stoning to death.
The new measures, that come into force on Wednesday, also cover a range of other crimes including punishment for theft by amputation.
The move has sparked international condemnation.
Brunei's gay community has expressed shock and fear at the "medieval punishments".

And in 2021, Amnesty International shouldn't have issued this according to Bhakal:

Content warning: details of the murder of a non-binary gay man.

Earlier this month Alireza Fazeli Monfared, who self-identified as a non-binary gay man, was brutally murdered in his hometown in Iran. His killers are yet to face justice – and under Iran’s justice system, are unlikely to.

Alireza was murdered on 4 May in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province. Friends of the twenty-year-old have informed Amnesty International that this murder took place after Alireza was abducted by several male relatives, and driven to an unknown location.

The relatives called Alireza Fazeli Monfared’s mother the following day, informing her that they had killed her son and dumped his body under a tree. Authorities have since recovered Alireza’s body, but are yet to make any arrests.

It is crucial to unpack the homophobic and transphobic motivations behind Alireza’s murder, and the Iranian laws that work to legitimate such motivations in criminal courts. The horrifying murder of Alireza is a wake-up call for the urgency of protecting LGBTQIA+ rights.

Risk factors connected to gender expression and sexual orientation

As a self-identified non-binary gay man, Alireza has been subject to repeated homophobic and transphobic harrassment and death threats from several of his male relatives in recent years. Testimonies from his partner and a close friend confirm several occasions of attempted physical violence, in addition to at least one instance of arbitrary arrest and detainment connected with Alireza’s Instagram account.

Several voicemails received by his partner outline Alireza’s plan to leave Iran after being repeatedly denied the freedom to express himself by both Iranian authorities and family members. He was due to leave the country only a few days after he was murdered.

Human rights violations against LGBTI people

Iran’s legal framework continues to criminalise consensual same-sex relations and forms of gender expression that do not conform to strict binary gender norms, even as these laws function to legitimise and incite violence against LGBTI+ individuals.

Iran’s 2013 Islamic Penal Code prescribes abhorrent corporal punishments, such as flogging and the death penalty, for the “crime” of same-sex relations. Sexual activity as minimal as “kissing or lustful touching” can be met with between 31 and 74 lashes, while anything beyond, if a repeated offence, can attract the death penalty.

Individuals who do not conform to stereotypical norms of “femininity” and “masculinity” are similarly penalised under Iranian criminal law. These penalties can include imprisonment and/or flogging under articles condemning conduct that is “religiously forbidden” (haram) or “offensive to public decency.” Any gender presentation outside of what is expected from an individual’s biological sex at birth must be accompanied by a legal sex change, or else be considered a criminal offence. This mandates gender reassignment surgery, sterilisation, and a complex documentation process for all gender non-conforming individuals, and threatens all who do not comply with criminal prosecution.

So-called ‘conversion practices aimed at eliminating homosexuality and gender non-conformity has also endured in Iran, including such abusive practices as electric shocks, hormones, and strong psychoactive medications.

Alireza received a military exemption card two days before his murder, exempting him from compulsory military service due to “perversions that are contrary to social and military values (including sexual perversions and homosexuality)”. Despite its degrading and discriminatory nature, this clause is commonly used by LGBTQIA+ people in Iran as a strategy to avoid the homophobic and transphobic abuse prevalent in military settings. The card clearly states this, thus disclosing to anyone with access to the card that his exemption was on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

This policy is a breach of the right to privacy, and puts gay, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in Iran at risk of violence and discrimination. On a phone call with his partner, Alireza is said to have voiced concern that the envelope holding his card had been opened and resealed, leading some Iranian LGBTI+ human rights activists to suspect the exemption card’s indication of sexual orientation as a factor triggering or aggravating the risks that led to his murder.

Laws facilitating so-called “honour” killings

“Honour” killings remain widespread in Iran – approximately 375 to 450 “honour” killings occur annually in Iran – but are dramatically underreported. A robust framework of legislation exonerates perpetrators or reduces punishment for murders related to the defence of “honour,” which therefore works to justify and normalise violence against women, girls, and LGBTI+ individuals.

One element of this legislation dictates that murderers are exempt from being charged with the death penalty if their victim committed a hadd crime, which is a crime with fixed punishments under Shari’a law and is considered one against God. Consensual same-sex relations fits the definition of a hadd crime. While the death penalty is abhorrent under all circumstances, reducing sentences for murder on the basis of whether it targeted an LGBTQIA+ individual encourages an atmosphere of impunity and places members of the community at considerable risk.

People like Alireza Fazeli Monfared should be guaranteed the right to life, non-discrimination, privacy, and freedom of expresssion. These rights being violated speak to a wider failure to protect the LGBTI+ community in Iran.

Idiots like Bhakal read that missive from Amnesty with horror -- not because a young man was murdered but because Iran got criticized.  Oh, boo, hoo.  Oh, how awful.

I'll save my tears for people, not governments.

"Some" -- not "all" -- on the next two sentences so read carefully and any expanding from "some" that you do is your doing, not mine.  It's amazing to me that some of those who experienced the Holocaust could go on to create an apartheid state (Israel).  Just as it amazes me that some who decry slavery (Margaret) are more than happy to dimiss the plight of the LGBTQ+ community as unimportant.  You know, I am sure that in the 1830s, there were some Americans who justified slavery and its continuation based on the 'small' number of people impacted.  That's the thing about being a minority -- you're always a smaller number than the dominant group.  And if rights only matter if they are the rights of a majority population, don't pass that off as equality or freedom because it's not.

Slavery never should have existed -- before the US, after the US.  But in the US, it could have ended a lot sooner if we had agreed that all people are created equal.  There's always going to be those who try to press the brakes on progress.  They'll use some excuse or pretense.

I don't think you can repeatedly fall for it and still claim to be of the left.

I can criticize Russia and still be opposed the proxy war the US government is executing via Ukraine.  To claim that it's either/or -- either I shut my mouth about attacks on LGBTQ+ members or I am endorsing imperialism -- is not a free speech concept nor the ethics of a thinking person.  

A minority group that is being threatened will always be told that they need to wait, that there are other issues at play, blah blah blah.  Are the Palestinians going to have wait 100 years for their salvation?  When is the time?

If we let people like Maitreya Bhakal define that answer, it will never be the right time.  There will always be some other issue that he decides is pressing.  That he decides.

He's not the ruler of the world.  And his bitchy little Tweets today that Margaret found so amusing are not amusing.  They're disgusting.  

The US government tried to lie that the Aghanistan War was about women's rights.  It wasn't.  It never was.  And that's why the plight of the women currently under the Taliban is not going to restart that war.  But women's rights?  They are attacked.  They're attacked in the US -- DOBBS was an attack on women's rights -- and they're attacked right now in Afghanistan.

And attacks need to be called out.  I'm not interested in how your world view of the world order necessitates silence on this or that topic because I long ago grapsed that no man was the decider for my life.  And shortly after, I grasped that no woman was either.  

No one has to wait until its conveinient to someone else.  In his bitchy Tweets supposedly against imperialism, Bhakal reveals himself to be an imperialist when it comes to both thought and action.  He also reveals himself as either deeply stupid or deeply dishonest (most likely, a combo of the two) because it's not that you either oppose US empire building or call out attacks on minority commuities.  In the real world, grown ups can do both. 

Now to Julian Assange.  Two Fridays ago, people gathered in DC for a tribunal.   

We noted it repeatedly before it took place, we noted it when it was taking place (I posted a live video) and we've quoted many articles since about it.  

Dominic Gustavo (WSWS) was not impressed:

On January 20, the Belmarsh Tribunal—named after the maximum security prison in the United Kingdom where WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange has languished for three years—convened in Washington D.C. to demand that US President Joe Biden drop charges against Assange, who currently faces extradition to the US and a 175-year prison sentence. 

While the tribunal heard important testimony from whistleblowers such as Daniel Ellsberg and principled journalists and civil rights activists such as attorney Margaret Kunstler, it was marred by the bankrupt orientation of the “Progressive International”—which hosted the event—whose entire outlook consists of an appeal to the Biden administration and the Democratic Party.

Assange, 51, has been charged under the 1917 Espionage Act for WikiLeaks’ exposure of war crimes committed by the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2010, WikiLeaks published the now infamous Collateral Murder footage of US Apache helicopters massacring as many as 18 unarmed civilians and journalists in Baghdad. The subsequently published Iraq War Logs, made up of US Army field reports, detailed systematic war crimes committed against the civilian population of Iraq. 

[. . .]

Testimony was provided by civil rights attorney Margaret Kunstler, who defended Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi, securing his release. While her principled stance is to be applauded, in her remarks she further laid the political groundwork for an appeal to the Democratic Party when she rooted the beginning of the persecution of Assange in 2017, when Donald Trump assumed the presidency. The implication being that Biden and the Democrats can be persuaded to reverse course and drop charges. In fact, it was the Obama administration that spearheaded the initial assault on Assange.

The appearance of Jeremy Corbyn at the panel, who was introduced as the “pure opposite” of Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, was a shameful display of hypocrisy. In his demagogic address, Corbyn lamented the complicity of elected officials in the US and elsewhere in the persecution of Assange, saying, “Your silence makes it worse for democracy as a whole.” He ended with a bland appeal to US officials to “Speak up!”

We'll probably note that in a snapshot next week as well.  I wasn't watching the time -- I wasn't planning on writing about Bhakal -- so right after this goes up, I'm going to post Isaiah's latest comie.

The following sites updated:


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Friday, January 27, 2023

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DEBATE: Is Briahna a Fascist Enabler? (w/ Vaush)

Iraq snapshot

Friday, January 27, 2023.  Misdirection and fan fiction won't help the Sunnis in Iraq, the persecution of Julian Assange continues, and much more.

On the topic of journalism, let's return to THE ARAB WEEKLY which we called out earlier this week over their desire to pretend Moqtada al-Sadr had made a comeback and how they were lying to themselves and others.  They do that because they won't deal with reality.  That's made more clear today in a column at TAW by Farouk Yousef:

Iraq has failed to establish balanced relations with the rest of the world because its embrace of Iran has erected a high fence separating it from other countries. Equally, the dominance of Iranian militias over the decision-making process in Baghdad has dragged it onto Iran’s side in Tehran’s showdown with the international community.

That is not all. Despite the existence of three branches of government in Iraq, legislative, executive and judicial, the country’s authorities are, beyond the media halo that somehow surrounds them, mere facades for the rule of political parties, which seem in agreement but are in reality gripped by internal feuds.

No one in the executive branch, for example, can make a decision unless it serves the interests of a strong party against the interests of other parties,  which parties can in any case seek to harm the government by digging the dirt on its corruption.

The insanity in those remarks just leaves me amazed.  Maybe he thinks it'll play to the west where governments hate Iran.  Iran is Iraq's neighbor, they share a border.  They've had problems throughout the years, they've had agreement throughout the years.  It's only in TAW's mind that they can't get along.  If they'd use their outlet better, Iraq could be a better place.  Barring anything emerging in the news cycle requiring more attention, we'll go into that tomorrow.  THE NATIONAL notes:

Iraq's judiciary has sentenced 14 people to death over the 2014 Camp Speicher massacre.

Baghdad's Central Criminal Court issued the verdict on Thursday under Iraq's antiterrorism law.

More than 1,700 unarmed air force recruits, mainly Shiite, were killed in the massacre as ISIS swept across Iraq.

The killings were one of the worst attacks by the terror group and become a symbol of its brutality.

It seems like a good thing, doesn't it?  It's not.  The incident alone?  Sure praise that sentencing.  But grasp that many more crimes are going unpunished and grasp that THE ARAB WEEKLY could be using its platform to push the current government of Iraq to address some of those crimes but would rather write demented anti-Iran pieces instead.

All of the above is from yesterday's snapshot.  I said we'd get to the topic in today's snapshot and we're starting with it.  THE ARAB WEEKLY is ruled by fear.  They've offered nonsesne constantly and they try to hide behind Moqtada al-Sadr, stroke his ego, beg him.  

What they shoud be doing is their job.  That's an important job but they'd rather lie and scribble fantasies.  ISIS is being punished by the current government.  Are we supposed to applaud that?  It is what governments are supposed to do. 

THE ARAB WEEKLY needs to be pressing for more than the bare minimum.

They are a Sunni outlet.  If they want to protect Sunnis, they need to demand real action which means punishing those who target the Sunni people.

The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

53 people dead -- including 8 children.  Killed for the 'crime' of a sit-in.  Troops surrounded that protesters. 

For days, Members of Parliament had been asking to be let in to speak with the protesters but Nouri wouldn't allow that.

He would send in thugs to kill these people.

Most of the western press ignored what took place -- over 50 people killed by their own government -- a government the US installed and backed and supplied the weapons.  BRussells Tribunal carried a translation of one activist who was an eye-witness to what went down:


I am Thamer Hussein Mousa from the village of Mansuriya in the district of Hawija. I am disabled. My left arm was amputated from the shoulder and my left leg amputated from the hip, my right leg is paralyzed due to a sciatic nerve injury, and I have lost sight in my left eye.
I have five daughters and one son. My son’s name is Mohammed Thamer. I am no different to any other Iraqi citizen. I love what is good for my people and would like to see an end to the injustice in my country.

When we heard about the peaceful protests in Al-Hawija, taking place at ‘dignity and honor square’, I began attending with my son to reclaim our usurped rights. We attended the protests every day, but last Friday the area of protest was besieged before my son and I could leave; just like all the other protestors there.

Food and drink were forbidden to be brought into the area….

On the day of the massacre (Tuesday 23 April 2013) we were caught by surprise when Al-Maliki forces started to raid the area. They began by spraying boiling water on the protestors, followed by heavy helicopter shelling. My little son stood beside me. We were both injured due to the shelling.

My son, who stood next to my wheelchair, refused to leave me alone. He told me that he was afraid and that we needed to get out of the area. We tried to leave. My son pushed my wheelchair and all around us, people were falling to the ground.

Shortly after that, two men dressed in military uniforms approached us. One of them spoke to us in Persian; therefore we didn’t understand what he said. His partner then translated. It was nothing but insults and curses. He then asked me “Handicapped, what do you want?” I did not reply. Finally I said to him, “Kill me, but please spare my son”. My son interrupted me and said, “No, kill me but spare my father”. Again I told him “Please, spare my son. His mother is waiting for him and I am just a tired, disabled man. Kill me, but please leave my son”. The man replied “No, I will kill your son first and then you. This will serve you as a lesson.” He then took my son and killed him right in front of my eyes. He fired bullets into his chest and then fired more rounds. I can’t recall anything after that. I lost consciousness and only woke up in the hospital, where I underwent surgery as my intestines were hanging out of my body as a result of the shot.

After all of what has happened to me and my little son – my only son, the son who I was waiting for to grow up so he could help me – after all that, I was surprised to hear Ali Ghaidan (Lieutenant General, Commander of all Iraqi Army Ground Forces) saying on television, “We killed terrorists” and displaying a list of names, among them my name: Thamer Hussein Mousa.

I ask you by the name of God, I appeal to everyone who has a shred of humanity. Is it reasonable to label me a terrorist while I am in this situation, with this arm, and with this paralyzed leg and a blind eye?

I ask you by the name of God, is it reasonable to label me a terrorist? I appeal to all civil society and human rights organizations, the League of Arab States and the Conference of Islamic States to consider my situation; all alone with my five baby daughters, with no one to support us but God. I was waiting for my son to grow up and he was killed in this horrifying way.

I hold Obama responsible for this act because he is the one who gave them these weapons. The weapons and aircrafts they used and fired upon us were American weapons. I also hold the United States of America responsible for this criminal act, above all, Obama.

 Will justice ever come?  Will the law ever come down on the terrorists that attacked Hawija?  So far it hasn't and it never will as long as THE ARAB WEEKLY thinks the way to protect the Sunni people is to write puff pieces on Moqtada al-Sadr in the hopes that it will cause him to rise up and take on the Iraqi government.  Do your damn job -- which isn't fan fiction.  Cover the attacks on Sunnis, cover how the pattern has been that no one gets punished for attacking Sunnis. Shine a strong light on specific incidents and how the killers have never been punished.

This is part of the corruption.  It's not just theft of money by public officials.  It's a government that time and again targets the Sunnis.  It's a government that no matter who is in charge, those who target Sunnis get away with it.  

If you don't have equality in the law, if you don't have equality in justice, you've got a corrupt government.  THE ARAB WEEKLY is wasting everyone's time with fan fiction on Moqtada.  They're a Sunni outlet who is afraid for the Sunni people.  I get it.  I'm worried for them too.  But fan fiction isn't helping them and won't.  The only thing that's going to help them is journalists doing their jobs. 

To this day, the western outlets love to lie about how ISIS came to be.  ISIS was a response to the attacks on the Sunni people.  That's how they rose up.  And the Sunni people had an attitude -- not surprising at all -- the the fight between ISIS and the Iraqi government didn't involve them because neither of those groups was helping the Sunni people. 

Things have not gotten better for the Sunnis.   And this is not a one day or a one month incident.  This has taken place over and over since the US-led invasion of Iraq almost 20 years ago (20 in March).

+ In a confidential memo unearthed by The Intercept, Biden’s Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen praised unemployment as a “worker-discipline device.” This is the logic of neoliberalism in a nutshell.

+ In congressional testimony while he was director of Obama’s National Economic Council, Jeff Zients, Biden’s new chief of staff, defended cuts to Social Security, telling Congress that the Obama-Biden administration was “willing to make these compromises as part of a deal that calls for shared sacrifice.” Biden’s “grand compromise” (sell-out to Wall Street) to gut Social Security has been in the works for years. His entire career of cutting deals with the likes of Strom Thurmond, Bob Dole and Trent Lott has led to the coming moment….

+ In 1919, the average steelworker in a Gary, Indiana plant worked 68.7 hours a week–more than 11 hours a day 6 days a week. Yet even this amount of toil in the hellish conditions of the mills wasn’t enough to feed and house a family of five, according to the Wilson Administration’s own figures–and they were no friend of labor (organized or not). Now, a married couple can work an 80-hour week and still not earn a living wage for their family four.

+ Most workers making $50,000 a year contribute to Social Security based on 100% of their income. Meanwhile, a CEO who makes $20 million a year contributes to Social Security with less than 1% of their income.

+ Microsoft had to settle for Sting? Was Bono playing at Google’s pre-firing Davos soirée?



+ As the Biden administration harangued Germany into sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the New York Times ran a front-page piece asking whether Germany can be a “great military power again?” WW I total deaths: 15 to 24 million, WW II total deaths in Europe: 30 million. Who in their right minds would want Germany, or any other nation involved in those wars, to be a “great military power” again?

+ We rarely consider the after-effects of prolonged war, the misery and death that continue to plague ravaged countries long after the cruise missiles have stopped shattering buildings. Let’s return to Iraq for a moment. In a much overlooked (if not ignored) study (‘Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009’) of 4,800 individuals in the heavily bombed city of Fallujah published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, medical investigators documented a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancers in kids under the age of 14. The survey also detected a 10-fold increase in female breast cancer and large increases in both lymphoma and brain tumors in adults. Researchers found a 38-fold increase in leukemia. By comparison, survivors of the Hiroshima atomic blast experienced a 17-fold increase in leukemia.

Last Friday, in DC, a tribunal was held to explore the continued persecution of Julian Assanage which is both a personal attack on Julian and a sweeping attack on The First Amendment.  

Organized by Progressive International and co-chaired by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and Croatian philosopher and author Srećko Horvat, the Belmarsh Tribunal brought together a panel of whistleblowers, activists, lawyers and more in support of Assange, WikiLeaks and journalistic freedom.

Held just two blocks from the White House, the Tribunal called on President Biden to end the prosecution of Julian Assange and to defend the rights of journalists and whistleblowers.

Belmarsh, the prison near London where Assange has been held since 2019 is a high-security facility often referred to as the “British version of Guantanamo Bay.” Beginning with the so-called “war on terrorism” in 2001, Belmarsh has been used to house suspected terrorists. Today, many of its prisoners are people who have committed brutally violent crimes like murder and rape.

Assange is being held there pending the completion of his extradition trial, in which the United States government under the Trump and Biden administrations seeks to bring him to trial in the U.S. He could face up to 175 years in prison under the Espionage Act for publishing proof of U.S. war crimes. It would be a death sentence for the 51-year-old whose physical and mental health has already deteriorated during his confinement.

Solidarity was a key theme of the event. Human rights lawyer Steven Donziger opened his remarks by saying “Half the battle is this” as he motioned around the crowded room. “It’s the solidarity,” he continued, expressing his appreciation for those who came out to defend him in his struggle. “I cannot tell you how completely uplifting that was. Part of the challenge when truthtellers speak truth to these entrenched pools of power is how to turn the attacks into opportunities.”

Donziger brought and won a lawsuit against oil company Chevron/Texaco on behalf of indigenous people in Ecuador for destruction of their lands through oil extraction in the Lago Agrio oil field. Chevron retaliated after a $9.5 billion award was levied against them, filing an outrageous RICO suit against Donziger, who was placed under house arrest for a total of 993 days (in addition to 45 days in prison) until he was finally freed in April of 2022.

Solidarity was also extended to Daniel Hale, a whistleblower who exposed the deadly U.S. targeted killing and drone program. Attorney Jesselyn Radack spoke on his case and its connection to Assange’s. Hale is being held in a Communications Management Unit (CMU) at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, A.K.A. “Gitmo North,” where his connection to the outside world is monitored and severely limited.

“I have been shut out of my own clients’ unclassified hearings. The parts of the hearings that are public often include code words and substitutions that make the proceedings very difficult for the public to understand. In one case, the government attempted to prevent defense attorneys from using the word whistleblower, or the word newspaper.” Radack’s account suggests that should Assange be extradited to the United States, he will not be able to receive a fair and impartial trial.

The prosecution of Assange is an example of naked political aggression and intimidation. It’s not only aimed at Assange himself and WikiLeaks, but puts whistleblowers, journalists and activists squarely within the crosshairs.

When Biden was running for president in 2020, he declared on World Press Freedom Day, “We all stand in solidarity” with the 360 journalists imprisoned worldwide “for their work in journalism.” Biden quoted Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 statement, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Since Biden’s election, however, his administration has refused to dismiss the charges Donald Trump brought against Assange. Biden ignored the fact that the Obama-Biden administration, which prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all its predecessors combined, refused to indict Assange because of “the New York Times problem.” If they charged Assange, the Obama administration reasoned, they would have to charge The New York Times and other media outlets that also published classified military and diplomatic secrets.

Horvat said, “Every country has secrecy laws. Some countries have very draconian secrecy laws. If those countries tried to extradite New York Times reporters and publishers to those countries for publishing their secrets we would cry foul and rightly so. Does this administration want to be the first to establish the global precedent that countries can demand the extradition of foreign reporters and publishers for violating their own laws?”

On November 28, 2022, The New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, DER SPIEGEL and El País signed a joint open letter calling on the Biden administration to drop the Espionage Act charges against Assange. “Publishing is not a crime,” they wrote, noting that Assange is the first publisher to be charged under the Espionage Act for revealing government secrets.

In 2010, the five signatories to the open letter collaborated with WikiLeaks to publish “Cable gate” — 251,000 confidential U.S. State Department cables that “disclosed corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale.” The documents, according to The New York Times, revealed “the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions, the decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money.”

Assange’s indictment also stems from WikiLeaks’s revelation of the Iraq War Logs — 400,000 field reports that chronicled 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians, and systematic rape, torture and murder after U.S. forces “handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad.” And the indictment covered the Afghan War Diary — 91,000 reports of larger numbers of civilian casualties by coalition forces than the U.S. military had reported.

The most notorious release by WikiLeaks was the 2007 “Collateral Murder” video, which showed a U.S. Army Apache attack helicopter target and kill 11 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters news staff and a man who came to rescue the wounded. Two children were injured. The video clip reveals evidence of three violations of the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Army Field Manual.

Amy Goodman, co-host of Democracy Now! and the Tribunal’s other co-chair, said that the events depicted in the Collateral Murder video “would never have happened” if the Iraq War Logs had been made public six months before. “An investigation would have been launched,” Goodman speculated. “That’s why freedom of the press, the free flow of information, saves lives.” She said that it is not just freedom of the press at stake in Assange’s prosecution, but also the public’s right of access to information. Ironically, Assange first screened the Collateral Murder video at the National Press Club more than a decade ago.

The following sites updated:

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Iraq snapshot

Thursday, January 26, 2023.  Hate merchant Tony Dungy remains in the news (and should) in the US, in Iraq only some crimes get punished and grasp that will continue to happen as long as outlets like THE ARAB WEEKLY indulges in their fear-based rantings.

Starting in the US, SLATE explores the hate merchants in their latest HANG UP AND LISTEN episode entitled "NBC's Tony Dungy Problem." (Dungy segment starts 26 minutes and 20 seconds in.)

Tom Lawrence (SOUTH DAKOTA STANDARD) explains:

Of course, Dungy is far from alone in spewing hateful and ignorant comments about gay people. Reggie White, the great defensive tackle who was known as the “Minister of Defense” because he was an ordained pastor, repeatedly said inaccurate and offensive things about gay people.

It’s part of the culture in sports, where gay-bashing and homophobic comments and actions have long been allowed, even celebrated. Dungy was supposedly better than the run-of-the-mill athlete, but that has proven not to be the case.

Last week, he repeated an absurd claim that some schools were placing litter boxes in bathrooms for the use of students. A Minnesota legislator advocated for placing menstrual products in boys’ bathrooms.

“That’s nothing,” Dungy tweeted Wednesday morning. “Some school districts are putting litter boxes in the school bathrooms for students who identify as cats. Very important to address every student’s needs.”

That’s a tired and easily refuted claim that right-wingers have been making for a couple years now. But Dungy, who always prepared so well as a coach, recycled this idiotic claim without bothering to check it out.

Why? Because it meshed with his hateful view of some people who don’t meet with his approval, even children who can be harmed by such hateful rhetoric.

A poll conducted of LGBTQ youth in November said 45% of transgender and nonbinary youth said they’d been cyberbullied or harassed online because of increased anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies, and 24% said they’d been bullied at school.

It is so bad that almost 30% said they did not feel safe going to a doctor if they’re sick or injured.

Words matter. They cause serious pain. The Trevor Project’s 2022 survey on mental health reported that nearly half of all LGBTQ young people, including no binary youths, considered suicide in the last year.

That’s why Dungy’s words and attitude matter. He is entitled to his beliefs, but he needs to expect the response. There was considerable outcry, and Dungy deleted the tweet and, under pressure, issued a statement expressing regret for his hateful and ignorant remark.

Andrew Lawrence (GUARDIAN) offers:

But somewhere along the way, something in Dungy snapped. After his oldest son, James, took his own life in 2005, the coach went from speaking at conferences for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to fundraising for a think tank that opposes same-sex marriage. When Michael Sam, pro football’s first out gay player, was drafted by the St Louis Rams in 2014, Dungy said he wouldn’t have wanted the University of Missouri linebacker on his team because of his sexual orientation and the potential distractions it might bring. Mind you, this is the same paragon of gridiron virtue who argued for Michael Vick to be rehired after the Pro Bowl quarterback was federally imprisoned for running a dog fighting ring; Dungy also said he’d welcome Ray Rice back into an NFL locker room after the Pro Bowl tailback was banished from the league for KO’ing his girlfriend.

All the while Dungy rates among the NFL’s worst television analysts, providing the least insight in the most monotone delivery. Only he could make the last minutes of Jacksonville’s wildcard comeback against Los Angeles about as thrilling as Ben Stein’s roll call in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Not even the great Al Michaels, clearly beaten down from announcing too many Thursday night games, could inject any more life into the broadcast.)

The low energy alone would be reason enough for NBC to at least bench Dungy. But he remains a prominent part of the network’s NFL coverage and figures to remain so next season. Sticking by dodgy NFL analysts is a routine play for NBC. Lead announcer Mike Tirico has a graveyard of sexual allegations from his ESPN days, and so does fantasy man Matthew Berry; Michele Tafoya, NBC’s longtime NFL reporter, made a full heel turn to anti-woke punditry after retiring from the sideline. It’s hardly a shock that Dung – a rich, platformed member of the jockocracy–would espouse conservative Christian ideology, or that he’d be tempted to draw sports analogies in his rhetoric. But as long as Dungy has the NFL for a bully pulpit, he’s no less polarizing a football man than Rush Limbaugh was during his brief ESPN stay. Dungy can speak his mind all he wants; you won’t read me telling him to stick to sports. But the NFL might want to think about finding a new human shield. This one’s lost his integrity.

The hate brigade is emerging to try to spread hate further.  

Let's note one because I left a Tweet response.

I have never been anything but nice to Antonio Sabato Jr.  I've never agreed with his politics -- but online and off, I have been nothing but nice to him.  What he just did was one of the most offensive things you can do in my world.  It's why I've ragged on Ann Wilson, who I like (most recently for the prig attitude regarding a song she sang that fans made a hit an that she wants to now act like she's better than).  I do not tell people who to vote for.  I do not use, in my offline life, I do not misuse or dishonor my fan base.  I'm very aware that I have what I have because of them.  That's why, though I love Ann to tears, it pisses me off when she starts doing things that are insulting your fan base.

Antonio?  It wasn't women propelling his rise years ago. It was men.  Men responding to his body and his beauty.  Without gay (and bi) men, he'd have nothing today in the way of fame.  And now he wants to support a homophobe?

Those were photos aimed at a gay audience and don't kid, I know the person over the campaign.  And it's why they selected the publications those ads ran in.  (And the original creator of the ads knew Antonio's appeal vanished the moment he 'thickened' -- and he was right.)

Antonio has spit on the people who gave him a national name, who gave him support and who were fans despite his meager talents.

He should be ashamed of himself.  Again, in my world you do not betray your fan base.  You respect them and you thank them.  Junior decided to spit on whatever is left of his dwindling fan base. 

At OUTSPORTS, Ken Schultz weighs in on Dungy's hate and notes, "In every one of these instances, the only agenda we’re pushing for is for the ability to enjoy sports without that sense of self-loathing weighing us down. And if you interpret our basic human need to belong as an attack on your faith, that says everything we need to know your religious beliefs."

Moving north to Canada,  Scott Taylor (SALT WIRE) writes:

Which brings us to Operation Impact, Canada’s ongoing military commitment to Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.

This is the one theatre which Auchterlonie feels Canada can safely reduce the number of troops deployed.

Perhaps a better question would be: What the hell are Canadian troops still doing in Iraq?

When Operation Impact was first established in 2014, the fanatical Islamic faction known as [. . .] aka ISIS or ISIL) had poured across the Syrian border into Iraq.

The U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces simply melted away, leaving their U.S. purchased weapons, ammunition and combat vehicles to the [ISIS] extremists.

[. . .]

As witnessed after the U.S. illegally invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq is rife with factional divisions.

Canada never had a dog in that fight and we would have been better off withdrawing from that region in 2017.

Auchterlonie should press his political masters to reduce his task load and put an immediate end to Operation Impact.

At least it's North America, right?  The US still has troops in Iraq and yet no one in the United States of America is writing newspaper columns asking why we are still in Iraq.  It's just been accepted by the various hitchhikers on the highway of causes who move flit from one crisis to the next based upon whatever is getting media attention.

On the topic of journalism, let's return to THE ARAB WEEKLY which we called out earlier this week over their desire to pretend Moqtada al-Sadr had made a comeback and how they were lying to themselves and others.  They do that because they won't deal with reality.  That's made more clear today in a column at TAW by Farouk Yousef:

Iraq has failed to establish balanced relations with the rest of the world because its embrace of Iran has erected a high fence separating it from other countries. Equally, the dominance of Iranian militias over the decision-making process in Baghdad has dragged it onto Iran’s side in Tehran’s showdown with the international community.

That is not all. Despite the existence of three branches of government in Iraq, legislative, executive and judicial, the country’s authorities are, beyond the media halo that somehow surrounds them, mere facades for the rule of political parties, which seem in agreement but are in reality gripped by internal feuds.

No one in the executive branch, for example, can make a decision unless it serves the interests of a strong party against the interests of other parties,  which parties can in any case seek to harm the government by digging the dirt on its corruption.

The insanity in those remarks just leaves me amazed.  Maybe he thinks it'll play to the west where governments hate Iran.  Iran is Iraq's neighbor, they share a border.  They've had problems throughout the years, they've had agreement throughout the years.  It's only in TAW's mind that they can't get along.  If they'd use their outlet better, Iraq could be a better place.  Barring anything emerging in the news cycle requiring more attention, we'll go into that tomorrow.  THE NATIONAL notes:

Iraq's judiciary has sentenced 14 people to death over the 2014 Camp Speicher massacre.

Baghdad's Central Criminal Court issued the verdict on Thursday under Iraq's antiterrorism law.

More than 1,700 unarmed air force recruits, mainly Shiite, were killed in the massacre as ISIS swept across Iraq.

The killings were one of the worst attacks by the terror group and become a symbol of its brutality.

It seems like a good thing, doesn't it?  It's not.  The incident alone?  Sure praise that sentencing.  But grasp that many more crimes are going unpunished and grasp that THE ARAB WEEKLY could be using its platform to push the current government of Iraq to address some of those crimes but would rather write demented anti-Iran pieces instead.

We'll close with this from GLAAD:

Pope Francis shared a message of solidarity with the LGBTQ community in an interview with the Associated Press Tuesday, along with a call-to-action for millions of Catholics around the world.   

Laws criminalizing gay people is “unjust”, and being gay “is not a crime,” said Pope Francis.

The Pope also called for the Roman Catholic Church to play an active role in opposing and repealing LGBTQ criminalization laws, recognizing that some bishops who advocate for criminalization and discrimination laws against the LGBTQ community must undergo “a process of conversion,” welcome LGBTQ people into the church, noting “it’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.”

For Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO, Pope Francis’ declaration is an explicit call to keep the momentum for LGBTQ decriminalization and equality.

“Pope Francis denounced laws in nearly 70 countries that criminalize LGBTQ people and called on the Roman Catholic Church to take an active role in repealing those laws. His historic statement should send a message to world leaders and millions of Catholics around the world: LGBTQ people deserve to live in a world without violence and condemnation, and more kindness and understanding. Other influential voices in faith, government, business, sports, and entertainment should now similarly speak out on outdated laws that criminalize the lives and relationships of LGBTQ people and that negatively impact travel and business in these countries," said Ellis in a statement.

“Today’s statements from Pope Francis are a game changer in the fight to decriminalize LGBTQ people and also illustrate the work that needs to be done with religious leaders to finally show that being LGBTQ is not a sin,” Ellis continued.

Last week, GLAAD continued their work to raise awareness about the criminalization of LGBTQ people around the world by speaking at this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

The AP notes more than a dozen states in the U.S. have anti-sodomy laws on the books despite a Supreme Court decision in 2003 declaring them unconstitutional. In his concurrence in the decision overturning Roe v Wade, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas called for the Lawrence ruling to be reconsidered.

In the U.S. about 90 anti-LGBTQ laws have already been introduced, 67 countries criminalize same-sex relationships of consensual adults, 46 of those countries deliberately target women in same-sex relationships, with 11 using the death penalty as punishment. 

Yet, each year more and more countries decriminalize their anti-LGBTQ penal codes. This year Singapore, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda have taken action toward decriminalization of LGBTQ same-sex relationships. At the same time, several countries, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, Hungary, Ghana, and Indonesia, have recently passed various laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people and organizations.

With this said, Pope Francis did not speak on behalf of the laws, crimes and violences facing the transgender communities of the world.  In 2022 there were 327 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people in the world at the hands of anti-trans violence, according to ILGA-Europe's annual Trans Murder Monitoring Report

Religious organizations and leaders share Ellis’ sentiment to protect LGBTQ communities in the U.S. and beyond, while changing hearts and minds in the process.

“An immense step forward. Pope Francis calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide,” Tweeted Jesuit Father James Martin

DignityUSA, the self-proclaimed oldest Catholic group advocating for LGBTQ rights, say the Vatican's stance on LGBTQ rights could improve the lives of LGBTQ people world-wide. 

“Since the Vatican led the opposition to a 2010 United Nations proposal to decriminalize homosexuality DignityUSA has repeatedly challenged our church leaders to reverse this stance,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s executive director. DignityUSA has led nationwide witnesses at cathedrals across the U.S. for this purpose, while advocating for Pope Francis to make a statement like this when he visited Africa in 2015. Duddy-Burke, who was also an advisor to the State Department on faith and LGBTQ+ issues during the Obama administration, urged both Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama to make LGBTQ acceptance their top priority when they visited with Pope Francis.

"It is critical that the church’s bishops immediately end any support they have given to laws that make being gay or same-sex relationships illegal. We also call on Catholics in our own country and around the world to support equality and non-violence for their LGBTQIA+ neighbors,” said Duddy-Burke. 

New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DiBernardo shares much of DiginityUSA's sentiment. 

"Most important, the pope highlights that being LGBTQ+ is not sinful and criminal, but harming one’s neighbor is most certainly both. That simple principle is a bedrock of Catholic teaching," said DiBernardo in a statement. "It is shameful that in some nations where criminalization exists or has been proposed, Catholic bishops and other leaders have been in the forefront of supporting such abhorrent measures. The pope’s statement will help end this tragic record of church leaders’ complicity with the scourge of criminalization."

DiBernardo offers a call-to-action himself. The pope, from January 30 to February 5, will take an apostolic journey to South Sudan. There DiBernardo hopes that he will speak out against Sudan's LGBTQ criminalization laws and continue to spread his message as he's announced to the AP. 

Additionally, Charlotte Clymer, former press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign, says the pope's statement "... is arguably the strongest statment of support for LGBTQ rights from Francis since the beginning of his papacy," in a Tweet.

Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner, reiterated Pope Francis' sentiment for global LGBTQ support in a Tweet.


The following sites updated: