Saturday, March 04, 2023

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Ron DumpSantis"


Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Ron DumpSantis."  Ron DeSantis sits on the toilet and notes, "It's me, Ron DeSantis.  Whether I'm Smiling or scowling, my expression always says I'm taking a dump."  Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.   

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Get Her Somewhere, She Wants To Be A Celebrity"



Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Get Her Somewhere, She Wants To Be A Celebrity." Mary Carmack-Altwies,, celebrity wanna-be and New Mexico prosecutor, declares, "Me Mary.  Me know law.  Me charge people with laws not passed.  Me hungry.  Me feed on Alec Baldwin's bones."  A monkey comments, "And people say I fling my pooh!  Check out Miss Mary Nut Case." Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.   

Iraq and corruption

Last fall, Iraq discovered "the heist of the century" had taken place without anyone noticing until well after it took place.  $2.5 billion dollars -- public dollars -- were stolen by government officials.  Not that shocking when Transparency International finds, year after year, Iraq to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Today, THE NATIONAL reports:

Iraq's judiciary has issued arrest warrants for four former government officials over the theft of $2.5 billion in public funds in one of the country's biggest corruption scandals.

An investigating judge in Baghdad issued the warrants on Saturday, the country's anti-corruption agency said.

The four men are accused of "facilitating the embezzlement of sums belonging to the tax authorities", it said.

The agency said the officials would also be subject to an asset freeze.

The four men, who include a former finance minister and staff of former Iraqi prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, all live outside the country, an official at the agency told AFP.

THE CRADLE carries an AFP report which adds, "The warrants do not include any names, yet an anonymous source identified them as former Finance Minister Ali Allawi, Cabinet Director Raed Jouhi, Kadhimi’s personal secretary Ahmed Najati, and his political advisor Mushrik Abbas."  Karwan Faidhi Dri  (RUDAW) confirms that those are the four the arrest warrants were issued for and notes, "Official figures published in 2021 estimated that well over $400 billion has gone missing from state coffers since former dictator Saddam Hussein's regime was overthrown in 2003."  Also on corruption, Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Senior officials in Iraq's Ministry of Migration and Displacement will be questioned over the allocation of funds for a major project in Nineveh province, the country's anti-corruption body said on Friday.

The Iraqi Integrity Commission has summoned officials including the ministry's undersecretary after an investigation into suspected breaches in awarding the contract for the project to establish Al Amleh camp in the northern province.

Others who will be questioned include the director of the ministry's contracts department, as well as the heads and members of the analysis committees, which held “discussions to revise and follow up on prices, supervision and orders" related to the project, the corruption watchdog said.

In other corruption news, AFP reports:

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson has said it will pay a $207 million fine for breaching a deal with US authorities by not disclosing an investigation relating to suspected bribes to the Islamic State group in Iraq.

The company entered “a guilty plea regarding previously deferred charges relating to conduct prior to 2017,” for not disclosing an internal 2019 investigation relating under a 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), it said in a statement late Thursday.

“The entry of the plea agreement will bring the 2019 DPA to an end,” the company said of the 195 million euro fine.

The US Justice Dept issued the following:

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Ericsson to Plead Guilty and Pay Over $206M Following Breach of 2019 FCPA Deferred Prosecution Agreement

Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Ericsson), a multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a criminal penalty of more than $206 million after breaching a 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA). 

Ericsson breached the DPA by violating the agreement’s cooperation and disclosure provisions. Based on the same underlying criminal conduct that gave rise to the DPA, Ericsson will plead guilty to engaging in a long-running scheme to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes, falsifying books and records, and failing to implement reasonable internal accounting controls in multiple countries around the world. 

“When the department afforded Ericsson the opportunity to enter into a DPA to resolve an investigation into serious FCPA violations, the company agreed to comply with all provisions of that agreement,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Instead of honoring that commitment, Ericsson repeatedly failed to fully cooperate and failed to disclose evidence and allegations of misconduct in breach of the agreement.  As a result of these broken promises, Ericsson must plead guilty to two criminal offenses and pay an additional fine. Companies should be on notice that we will closely scrutinize their compliance with all terms of corporate resolution agreements and that there will be serious consequences for those that fail to honor their commitments.”

According to court documents, beginning in 2000 and continuing until 2016, Ericsson used third-party agents and consultants to make bribe payments to government officials and to manage off-the-books slush funds in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Kuwait. These agents were often engaged through sham contracts and paid pursuant to false invoices, and the payments to them were improperly accounted for in Ericsson’s books and records. In 2019, Ericsson resolved this criminal conduct by entering a DPA with the department in connection with a two-count criminal information filed in the Southern District of New York. As part of the DPA, Ericsson paid a total criminal penalty of over $520 million and agreed to the imposition of an independent compliance monitor for three years. An Ericsson subsidiary, Ericsson Egypt Ltd, also pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. 

Following the 2019 resolution, Ericsson breached the DPA by failing to truthfully disclose all factual information and evidence related to the Djibouti scheme, the China scheme, and other potential violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery or accounting provisions.  Ericsson also failed to promptly report and disclose evidence and allegations of conduct related to its business activities in Iraq that may constitute a violation of the FCPA. These disclosure failures prevented the United States from bringing charges against certain individuals and taking key investigative steps.

“Ericsson engaged in significant FCPA violations and made an agreement with the Department of Justice to clean up its act,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “The company’s breach of its obligations under the DPA indicate that Ericsson did not learn its lesson, and it is now facing a steep price for its continued missteps. As Ericsson’s anticipated guilty plea makes abundantly clear, the Southern District of New York will hold to account companies that fail to live up to obligations to root out and voluntarily report their misconduct to the Department of Justice.”

“Today’s more than $200 million criminal penalty against Ericsson underscores the significant consequences that result when a DPA is breached,” said Chief James C. Lee of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “Ericsson’s multiple cooperation and disclosure failures led to this breach, resulting in the company having to plead guilty and pay additional penalties.”

Under the terms of the plea agreement, which must be accepted by the court, Ericsson agreed to plead guilty to the original charges deferred by the 2019 DPA: one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and one count of conspiracy to violate the internal controls and books and records provisions of the FCPA. Ericsson will also be required to serve a term of probation through June 2024 and has agreed to a one-year extension of the independent compliance monitor. The plea agreement also requires Ericsson to pay an additional criminal penalty of $206,728,848 – which includes the elimination of any cooperation credit originally awarded pursuant to the DPA. 

The IRS-CI investigated the case. 

Trial Attorney Michael Culhane Harper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Abramowicz and Juliana Murray for the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case. 

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at

Approximately two weeks before the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, Jared Keller (TASK AND PURPOSE) notes:

It’s been nearly 20 years since a U.S.-led military coalition invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein, and U.S. troops are still fighting alongside the Iraqi government to stabilize the country’s security situation.

In February, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) conducted 33 partnered operations with coalition military personnel targeting Islamic State group militants, according to the latest data from U.S. Central Command, the exact same number it conducted in January of this year.

When do US troops leave Iraq?  Ever?

At Brookings, Ranj Alaadin writes:

Since the appointment of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in October 2022, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella organization of mostly Shiite militia groups that is accorded a formal status as an auxiliary branch of the Iraqi security forces, is making a comeback. Despite many challenges and serious setbacks since 2018, the PMF has shown a marked ability to bounce back from weakened leadership and internal fractures, a significant electoral defeat, and the loss of political capital with large segments of the Iraqi public. It has survived pressures resulting from the January 2020 U.S. assassinations of its former commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and his Iranian sponsor, Qassem Soleimani, the former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, and from measures undertaken by the former prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Not only has the PMF proved resilient, but it also retains political and military advantages that are likely to make it a force to be reckoned with for decades to come.

Yet the PMF also faces challenges, and its malign activities, which include human rights abuses, may yet be curtailed, especially if the West and its regional allies can work with moderate actors in Iraq or those that fear the organization’s monopolization of power. The most significant of the PMF’s difficulties comes in the form of Iraq’s intra-Shiite political rivalries. Both the PMF’s power and vulnerabilities were manifest last August when Iraq was pushed to the brink of civil war following political tensions and violent confrontations between the PMF and its political allies, known as the Shiite Coordination Framework, and their rival, Muqtada al-Sadr. Sadr heads Iraq’s most powerful sociopolitical movement, the Sadrist movement, and one of the country’s most powerful militia groups, Saraya al-Salam. Although his withdrawal from politics is likely temporary, Sadr will remain a significant challenge for the PMF in future religious leadership succession contests, economic turf battles, and day-to-day politicking. This intra-Shiite contestation as well as external pressures will not only threaten the PMF but can also reignite more violence, even another civil war.

The following sites updated:


Zelensky Wants Americans To Fight & Die In Ukraine

Biden Blocks Human Rights Expert For Calling Israeli Apartheid ‘Apartheid’

Stopped Drinking | Emma Willmann

Jackson Mayor Calls Out GOP "Apartheid Plan" For Mississippi

Weekly recap on proud boys, GOP, Tampa pride ,Rainbow banner ,anti drag law .

R I P Wayne Shorter: August 25, 1933 - March 2, 2023

New Mom Slapped With 6-Figure Surprise Hospital Bill

"The CIA Did Come Up with an Extraordinary Scheme to Try to Murder Him" (2018)

Scientology Fair Game Podcast With Leah Remini and Mike Rinder | Episode #0

Marianne Williamson: America needs a Philosopher King

The 100th Episode of "SHERRI" | Wanda Sykes & Tisha Campbell

Biden Blocks Human Rights Expert For Calling Israeli Apartheid ‘Apartheid’

The Temptations and Diana Ross & The Supremes "Hits Medley" on The Ed Sullivan Show

Here's Everything You Want To Know About The Progress Flag

Meet the Farmers and Workers Running for Cuba’s National Assembly

Black Feminism and Pop Culture with Clarissa Brooks

Politics Unhinged: What's going on in Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, and other Red States?

Sunny War Performs 'No Reason' On The Kelly Clarkson Show

Michelle Yeoh on how her mother congratulated her for Oscar nod

New Mom Slapped With 6-Figure Surprise Hospital Bill

James Dean Hollywood’s gay for pay “KEPT” boy..

Friday, March 03, 2023

Jane Lynch Almost Quit Acting Before 'Best In Show'

Briahna Joy Gray: Joy Behar Said WHAT About East Palestine, Ohio?!

Tamron’s Home Essentials That We’re Dying to Try!

Ashley McBryde Extended Interview | The Jennifer Hudson Show

‘Europe is Waking Up’: Protests in Europe Call For Peace in Ukraine


Don't miss your chance to vote in Restore The Fourth's board elections.

Restore the Fourth Logo: Flag with black and red stripes and a blue square that says

Dear Friend,


Restore The Fourth has an exciting year ahead of us. The fight for FISA Section 702 reform is underway. We're tackling invasive surveillance technology like ShotSpotter and license plate readers. And we continue to submit amicus briefs in the most impactful Fourth Amendment cases. 

You are indispensable to our advocacy and we value your input. That's why we want to make sure you have the chance to vote in our upcoming board electionsTo be eligible to vote you have to be an RT4 member in good standing, i.e. have donated at least $20 to RT4 before midnight ET on March 15th, 2023

Voting will give you the chance to shape the future of RT4. Board elections will be held on May 4th, 2023. This is an opportunity to fight against mass surveillance! Make sure you're a member in good standing today. Donate now​. 

Read more about our elections process here​. 

Senator Murray Statement on Eli Lilly Moving to Cut Cost of Insulin

Senator Patty Murray's office issued the following:

March 1, 2023

Senator Murray Statement on Eli Lilly Moving to Cut Cost of Insulin

Murray continues push to lower insulin costs for all patients after pressing manufacturers on dramatic price hikes

ICYMI: Murray pushes to cap insulin costs for all patients; effort blocked by most Senate Republicans – MORE HERE

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a senior member and former Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), issued the following statement on Eli Lilly’s announcement that it will cut the list price of its insulin products and improve its efforts to cap patients’ out-of-pockets costs at $35 a month.

“About time. This is a long overdue step. Year after year, big pharmaceutical companies have been jacking up the cost of lifesaving drugs like insulin—forcing patients across Washington state and the country to make absolutely unthinkable tradeoffs. I have pushed for an explanation as to why, over just the last decade, insulin prices have tripled—and haven’t gotten real answers. So this is a critical step forward, and I’ll be looking into the details of the company’s plans.

“But let’s also be clear: this is just one of three companies that make insulin in the U.S.—so we’ve got much more to do to make sure no one is forced to pay outrageous sums to simply fill the prescription they need to stay healthy. Last summer, we capped insulin costs at $35 a month for everyone on Medicare—and we got closer than ever to capping insulin costs for all patients, but most Senate Republicans stood in our way. It’s time we get it done. I’m going to keep pushing in Congress to cap the cost of insulin for everyone and lower health care costs for families.”

Senator Murray has long fought to lower patients’ prescription drug costs. She has been pushing to cap all patients’ insulin costs at $35 a month, and she worked with her Democratic colleagues last summer to successfully cap insulin at $35 a month for everyone on Medicare through the Inflation Reduction Act. As the Senate debated the legislation, Senator Murray also pushed hard to extend the legislation’s $35/month insulin cap to patients on private insurance, imploring her colleagues not to strip the critical provision out of the package: “We have an opportunity to make a difference and permanently cap insulin… This should not be a hard vote to cast.” While all Senate Democrats voted to cap insulin for all patients at $35 a month, the vast majority of Senate Republicans voted to strip the cap out of the final package.

As Chair of the Senate HELP Committee, Senator Murray led her Democratic colleagues in pressing the three major insulin manufacturers in the U.S. to explain dramatic recent insulin price increases.


Utah Removes the ‘Gay’ from ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Europeans Protest the Proxy War

Kelly Clarkson Covers 'You Are a Tourist' By Death Cab for Cutie | Kellyoke

Desperate Grifter Nick Brana BEGS Jimmy Dore to Run for President

Cher - Medley (with Carol Burnett) (The Cher Show, 05/11/1975)

Interview with Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm | The Problem with Jon Stewart

Iraq snapshot

Friday, March 3, 2023.  WSWS continues to examine the fake protest that took place last month, the United Nations Secretary-General concludes his trip to Iraq (with criticism growing), the war on LGBTQ+ people in the US continues, MTG becomes fodder for Joe Biden, and much more.

At WSWS, Jacob Crosse reports on the failed Rage Against The War Machine -- an event that found idiots from the left or 'left' hugging racists and homophobes like a body pillow:

On February 19, in Washington D.C., the Libertarian Party and “People’s Party,” along with disoriented middle class elements and outright fascistic individuals, organized what was marketed as the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally.

The event, billed by organizers Angela McArdle of the Libertarian Party and Nick Brana of the People’s Party, as an attempt to bring the “left and right” together in opposition to the war in Ukraine was, the World Socialist Web Site noted, a “reactionary political freak show.

The World Socialist Web Site will be further analyzing the main organizers and speakers at the event, which confirm its thoroughly reactionary character. This article focuses on the Libertarian Party and its overt orientation to the fascistic right.

[. . .]

After Deists’ [2017] speech, current and former members of the Libertarian Party, such as neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell, went on to participate in the fascist rampage in Charlottesville, which ended when another neo-Nazi, James Alex Fields Jr., drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors; murdering anti-racist activist Heather Heyer.

On the day Fields murdered Heyer and injured dozens of others, neo-Nazi Shandon Simpson was photographed standing behind Fields Jr.

Last month in Washington, Simpson, along with neo-Nazi Matthew Heimbach were both photographed at the “Rage” rally by journalist Molly Conger.

In 2020, Unicorn Riot revealed that Simpson was a member of the Ohio National Guard and had deployed to Washington D.C. as part of Trump’s fascistic efforts to suppress anti-police violence protesters.

In Telegram posts uncovered prior to deploying to D.C., Simpson told fellow neo-Nazis: “They activated my unit and we’re getting real ammunition to shoot and kill. Rahowa.” [RaHoWa refers to the neo-Nazi conception of Racial holy war.]

Heimbach has been a fascist his entire adult life. He has founded several neo-Nazi organizations, including the now-defunct Traditionalist Worker Party.

For his leading role in organizing the Unite the Right rally, on November 23, 2021, a jury found Heimbach and the organization he founded guilty of civil conspiracy.

In an article published the day of the “Rage” rally, It’ reported that in a live-stream prior to event, Simpson revealed that Heimbach and his appearance at the “Rage” rally would not be a shock to organizers of the event. Simpson said that Heimbach “has had more communications with some of the people involved...”

At the “Rage” rally, Heimbach and his followers were allowed to set up a table and share their fascist propaganda.

The Center for Political Innovation (CPI), which is run by RT correspondent Caleb Maupin, was one of the “Bronze Sponsors” of the “Rage” rally.

After the “Rage” rally, Heimbach was photographed handing out fascist propaganda at an “after-party” organized by CPI.

Benjamin Rubinstein, formerly of the CPI, confirmed on Twitter that “Heimbach and his crew” were “invited to the event by CPI without the knowledge of other organizers.”

Rubinstein noted that Heimbach and Simpson are “avowed Nazi’s controlled by an Atomwaffen member and that is not a woke talking point.”

There is not only a close political kinship but a direct line of communication connecting outright Nazis to the Libertarian Party, the principal organizer of the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally. Those supposedly on the “left” who participated in the rally served primarily to lend these far-right forces political credibility and legitimacy. 

It was cute to watch all those fake asses trying to pretend that they cared about ending wars.  These are the same people with YOUTUBE programs who can't be bothered with the Iraq War and pretend US troops aren't still on the ground in Iraq and that the Iraqi people don't continue to suffer.  But, hey, they care, they really, really care.  

At MODERN DIPLOMACY, Amer Ababakr offers these thoughts:

From the beginning, the US succeeded in formulating a sectarian project, through which it strengthened the concept of sectarian division and quotas, as the US presence became a major ally for which the Shiite and Sunni sectarian parties raced, and for which the sectarian princes and the new elite of Iraq fought, at a time when successive US Administrations worked what it can win them over to its favour.

Thus, Iraq’s new leaders became close allies of the “liberator” from overseas. And at a time when the internal struggle raged to win the seat of power in Iraq, the active military and political institutions in the US Administration hastened to put the final touches to complete and implement the chapters of the scenario of the occupation of Iraq. I may not be exaggerating when I say that this fragmentation, which is still witnessing in the Iraqi political arena, and the fluctuations of its politicians and their clinging to power, which have increased in severity and convulsions since the start of the parliamentary elections process, contributed to perpetuating strife and division in the Iraqi social and political component, as is the case in the struggle of the Sadrist movement and the coordination framework. And the crisis of Muhammad al-Halbousi with the sheikhs of the Western Badia. Thus, two decades after the fall of the former Iraqi regime, and as a result of this wrong and deliberate method of rebuilding the state, the difference in visions regarding the relationship of Iraqis with their regional environment still threatens the stability of what is left of Iraq, as religious parties have failed to develop an inclusive system of government for all. Internal sectarian divisions were strengthened as a result of the deliberate insistence on creating a sectarian elite that controls the popular sectarian base, instead of focusing on the importance of the unity of the broad cross-sectarian mass base. State institutions have become centers of conflict between parties competing for power and wealth. And with the increasing American and international interest in these forces, the Iraqi political parties’ attempts to satisfy the influential US hand in order to crown them as leaders of the rule of Iraq increased. Thus, the US succeeded in its game through its convergence with the Iranian sectarian project, which contributed to the escalation of the Iraqi political crisis by allowing the sectarian political religion to dominate the political arena, and thus seizing power by the power of money and weapons, to the extent that most military institutions and teams became a monopoly. On sectarian and ethnic leaders, in a country where security and sectarian elements are the key to control, influence and manipulation of corruption files. Despite the existence of the constitution that regulates the work of many state institutions, the hawks of the ruling parties did not hesitate to control the Central Bank, which is one of the independent bodies linked to the House of Representatives, which the law fortified it from any government interference. Central, controlling the fate of billions of dollars and spending them without account to finance private activities, and transferring them to Iran and some countries in the region, in light of the repercussions of the American-Iranian conflict on the Iraqi arena and the region, and under the cover of the American-Iranian consensus in accepting a new Iraqi political system, whose officials and parties enjoy with Western sponsorship and support, it depends for its continuation and defense of its foundations and sectarian ideology, on armed state militias supported from behind the borders, despite the ruling elite’s knowledge of the importance of the American role in maintaining the legitimacy of the regime internationally on the one hand, and the role of armed groups in supporting the regime at home. This explains the subtleties of this relationship, which can be described as a relationship of interests and a form of clinging to power and playing on the ropes.

Don't expect the YOUTUBERS at last month's hate rally to note any of the issues above.  Or to take on the nonsense of WE ARE THE MIGHTY -- I hope someone does but if they don't we'll do it next week, I'm just not in the mood this morning.

Yesterday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the Kurdistan before concluding his visit to Iraq.

He delivered the following speech in Erbil:

Ladies and gentlemen of the press – thank you for your presence.

I am very glad to be back in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

In my previous visits to the area, including as High Commissioner for Refugees, I was always deeply touched by the generosity and solidarity of the Kurdish people towards those fleeing conflict and catastrophe.

Today, amidst the devastation of the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to you for once again extending a helping hand.

I have just concluded fruitful meetings with the President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament.

I thanked them for the close partnership with the United Nations.

We discussed relations with Baghdad and as I said there, moving from constant crisis management to a more structured, institutionalized dialogue is in the interest – and to the benefit – of all.

A number of issues require agreement, including: the 2023 federal budget, the oil and gas law, stronger security cooperation, the swift implementation of the Sinjar agreement, and the finalization of the Kirkuk Dialogue.

But in my discussions both here and in Baghdad, I sensed a genuine commitment to move forward and I urge all to translate this commitment into reality.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good governance, respect for human rights and the freedom of expression, as well as inclusive political and electoral processes, are bedrocks of stability and drivers of prosperity.

I encourage all political actors across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to work together to ensure that the delayed parliamentary elections take place this year.

Diverse – even opposing – viewpoints as well as constructive criticism are the lifeblood of any democracy.

Despite spirited differences, I urge all to put the interests of the people in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq first.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

Full respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and good neighbourliness is essential at all times.

I urge all to pursue dialogue and diplomacy and exercise maximum restraint to prevent further instability and contain the risks of regional escalation.

Finally, let me repeat what I said in Baghdad: my visit is one of solidarity and hope for the future.

But achieving a better tomorrow requires action today. It demands determined diplomacy, constructive dialogue – and the courage to make the necessary compromises.

After my meetings and discussions, I am convinced that important progress is now entirely possible.

The United Nations stands with the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to help build that better future that they deserve.

Allow me a personal note. I came to this region many times in the past as High Commissioner for Refugees and I came as Secretary-General in a dramatic moment when Daesh was close and when fighting was fierce. And I learned to have an enormous admiration for the generosity and solidarity of the Kurdish people. I want to say that in my opinion we are now facing an opportunity for Iraq and an opportunity for the Kurdistan region of Iraq. That opportunity can translate itself into reality if Iraqis are able to come together and unite and if people in this region people can also come together and unite.

Iraq is potentially a rich country that can guarantee to its people a future of prosperity. I strongly hope that this will soon become a full reality.

Thank you.

As we noted yesterday, his photo ops on Wednesday resulted in criticism.  Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has drawn criticism for posing for a photograph during his visit to Iraq with two militia leaders wanted by the US for crimes against humanity.

Mr Guterres, who is visiting Iraq for the first time in six years, has been meeting various leaders, including Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.

His visit comes as Iraq this month marks the 20th anniversary of the US- led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, as it faces continued economic, political, social and environmental crises.

“UNSG is ambushed. Another nightmarish optic coming out of Iraq,” said Michael Knights, Iraq expert at the Washington Institute for Near East policy.

“On his right (white turban) — US designated terrorist Qais Al Khazali, with a lot of US, UK and Iraqi blood on his hands. On his left, Rayan Al Kildani — US-designated human rights abuser,” Mr Knights said on Twitter.

A spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said the photograph was taken after a dinner hosted by Mr Al Sudani.

“The photo was taken on his way out, after a dinner with government of Iraq coalition representatives, upon the invitation of the Prime Minister of Iraq, discussing the country’s future, the need to deliver and serve the needs and interests of Iraqis. There were more invitees at the dinner,” the spokesman told The National.

The militia leaders are also included in a group photo with Mr Guterres, UN envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and members of the Iraqi parliament's human rights council.

In 2020, the US designated Mr Al Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl Al Haq militia, and his brother Laith Al Khazali, another leader of the group, as global terrorists.

Asaib Ahl Al Haq, also known as the League of the Righteous, is backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, which has been similarly designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organisation. Washington believes the Iraqi militia is a proxy for Iran.

Mr Al Kildani is head of the Babylon Movement and leader of the 50th Brigade, a Christian faction in Hashed Al Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces.

Turning to the United States, Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) notes:

+ in 2022, 315 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures across the U.S.  The number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced so far in the first two months of 2023 already exceeds that total and exceeds all anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 2012, 2013, and 2014 combined.

It's a war.  There is a war being carried out against the LGBTQ+ community in this country.  Fortunately, some people are saying "NO!" to that war.  Kaitlyn Kennedy (TAG 24) reports on Wednesday in Iowa:

In the latest attack on LGBTQIA+ rights, eight Iowa Republicans have submitted a proposal to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

[. . .]

The same day they put forward their resolution, Iowa Republicans also introduced HB 508, which would deny same-sex marriages in the name of "religious liberty."

[. . .]

Dozens of high-school and college student groups also participated in walkouts on Wednesday to protest the anti-LGBTQIA+ moves. They took to the streets and even marched to the Iowa State Capitol, chanting slogans like "We say gay" and "Trans rights are human rights."

Of those brave students, Jo Yurcaba (NBC NEWS) notes:

Students from 26 high schools and two colleges have coordinated the walkouts to take place throughout the day across the state. 

IowaWTF, a coalition of high school students that fights “discriminatory legislation,” and the Iowa Queer Student Alliance, a group for LGBTQ high school and college students, organized the day of protests. 

Jemma Bullock, a member of the Iowa QSA, said the group is leading walkouts for two reasons: to educate students about the bills under consideration in the state Legislature and to get the attention of the lawmakers behind those bills.

“We are trying to make it so that it’s impossible for those in power to ignore us,” said Bullock, who is a senior at Ankeny High School, just north of Des Moines. “Because right now, there are people who are going to the Capitol and attending those public hearings about these bills — they have been teachers, psychiatrists, doctors, students, parents, administrators, all sorts of people who come and say, ‘This is harmful. This will have bad effects. This will cause bullying, it will cause depression and anxiety and it will not be safe for the LGBTQ+ community in our schools.’ And they just will not listen.” 

By mid-afternoon Wednesday, students and local reporters started to share images and videos from the walkouts on social media. 

Bigots and old fools don't seem to get it -- I'm thinking of one old fool in particular, Betty called him out Monday in "Shut your bigoted ass, Dr. Anthony Monteiro" (rightfully called him out) -- but the LGBTQ+ community is under attack.  The world has changed but bigots are having a really hard time grasping that.    

  • A Florida GOP state representative filed a proposal expanding the state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill.
  • The bill, HB 1223, would prohibit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity up to eighth grade.
  • Advocacy groups slammed the proposal, saying it polices schools and demonizes LGBTQ people.

That's Florida.  AP covers Tennessee:

Tennessee Republican lawmakers on Wednesday advanced legislation that would prevent transgender people from changing their driver's licenses and birth certificates, a move that officials warn could cost the state millions in federal funding.

“In my view, this body should do what’s right regardless of the cost,” said Republican Rep. Gino Bulso, the bill's sponsor. “I don’t care what it costs to do what’s right.”

LGBTQ-rights advocates have long argued that having a driver's license or birth certificate match a person's identity is not only personally important but also beneficial to avoiding harassment.

If enacted, the proposal would define male and female in state law and base people’s legal gender identities on their anatomy at birth. A handful of Republican-led states have introduced similar bills — including Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma — as GOP lawmakers have put transgender issues at the forefront of their legislative agenda.

Legislative officials tasked with calculating the fiscal impact of bills have stated that Bulso's bill would likely open the state to “civil litigation and could jeopardize federal funding" because it could conflict with federal rules.

It could open the state up to lawsuits and to a loss of federal funding?  Well hate apparently trumps common sense.  At least we can applaud the bigots of Tennessee for sporting their hate proudly and not trying to dress it up with the pretense so many other bigots do by insisting it's to 'save the children.'  Shawna Mizelle (CNN) notes Tennessee as well: 

Tennessee is set to become the first state this year to enact legislation to restrict public drag show performances.

The state Senate on Thursday passed a bill along party lines to limit “adult cabaret performances” on public property so as to shield them from the view of children, threatening violators with a misdemeanor and repeat offenders with a felony. It was passed by the Tennessee House last week and Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, has said he will sign it.

Bill Lee, as Marcia noted ("Drag Queen Bill Lee doesn't want others to partake"), may be the governor but in high school he loved dressing as a woman.  And Jeffrey St. Clair points out, "The state of Tennessee wants to make drag shows a felony. But back in 2009, the Hawkins County, Tennessee GOP had its “largest fundraiser ever” at a drag show. The event attracted Rep. Zach Wamp, Rep. Phil Roe and future Governor Bill Haslam."

Texas has some bigots pushing to curb drag as well including Nate Schatzline.  Oops.  Like with Bill Lee, there are images:

Video posted on social media shows Texas state Rep. Nate Schatzline dressed in drag performing to Javi Mula’s “Sexy Lady,” The Daily Beast reports.

“Nate Schatzline has made his entire personality attacking the LGBTQ community, trans especially children, and vowed to ban drag shows in Texas,” a Twitter user whoposted the video wrote on the social media site.

Schatzline in January introduced HB 1266, which aims to put a “sexually oriented business” tag on any venue that hosts drag performances that also allows the consumption of alcohol on the premises. The law would ban anyone younger than 18 from entering such businesses.

The first-term state congressman and ex-pastor admits it’s him in the video, but he accused his critics of mischaracterizing the incident, calling the performance “a joke” while he was in school.

 It was supposed to provide entertainment?  Isn't that what a drag show does?  


Nate, you better work it, girl.  Show us those moves you used performing "Sexy Lady."

By the way, Nate thinks the US has a "tyrannical" government.  And hate merchant Marjorie Taylor Greene is calling for cession.  Why do they hate America?  WHY!! WHY!! They should be asked that and let's remember from this point forward, they're not just hate merchants and bigots, they're also America haters.

"It's time to stand up against tyrannical government!" That's what Nate wrote on his campaign website.  

Why do you hate America so much, Nate?  Is it because you don't feel you can wear dresses in public anymore?  

After all that hate, we need a palette cleanser.  Alex Harrington (F1 BRIEFINGS ON FAN NATION) reports on F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton appearance on THE FAST AND THE CURIOUS podcast :

The conversation started with discussions about technology, time off during the winter break, and Hamilton's expedition to Antarctica - which we covered earlier this year. However, Hewgill then continued to ask about the extra work the Mercedes driver does for diversity and equal rights. 

"You mention the word inspiring, sorry to end on a slightly serious note but you have paved the way in Formula 1 for talking out about serious issues that haven't been spoken about before. 

"For example, I'm a fanatic F1 fan and sports broadcaster, I'm also gay. It's something I struggled with when I was a kid about coming out in the world of sports. 

"You went to Hungary in 2021 when that was going through some tricky LGBT stuff and spoke up about LGBT rights. I wanted to say thank you, it means the world and makes such a difference."

Hamilton was visibly appreciative, thanking Hewgill for his kind words and sharing what did.

"We have this platform and I just feel a huge responsibility. I'm not just a Formula 1 driver and I can just have success and go about my life, this is a platform to really spark change, spark conversation, which is the beginning of those things.

"Sparking those uncomfortable conversations and then holding people accountable who have been happy with the status quo in the past, which has held people down and made people not included.

He continued:

"We can make change and I want to be a part of helping that and making people feel more included.

"Motorsport or any sport or business shouldn't be able to continue not being diverse. When have you ever seen someone working in our industry with disabilities?

"There are so many different things we need to challenge and fix."

The Mercedes driver's response has earned him widespread praise from Formula 1 fans. Hamilton's unwavering support for human rights, including LGBT+ rights, has been a consistent feature of his career. The Briton has repeatedly spoken out against discrimination, making him one of the most influential and respected figures in the sport.

Applause for Lewis Hamilton. People are suffering and that includes children and they're suffering not because they attended a drag show but because hateful adults are traumatizing them.  Marc Ramirez (USA TODAY) reports;

One in 4 Black transgender or nonbinary youths attempted suicide in the previous year, a figure more than twice the rate of their Black cisgender peers, according to a new research brief from the Trevor Project that called the situation "a public health crisis that deserves immediate attention."

The results were among key findings of the latest brief compiled by the Trevor Project as it combs through data collected from nearly 34,000 LGBTQ young people nationwide for its 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. The organization, based in New York, focuses on suicide prevention for LGBTQ youths.

“This report is yet another piece of evidence that we aren’t doing enough to fight for these kids,” said Jack Turban, director of the gender psychiatry program at the University of California, San Francisco. “Improving the situation will mean making broad structural and societal improvements in the ways we treat trans youth of color. Unfortunately, we seem to be moving in the opposite direction.”

[. . .]

The American Civil Liberties Union said 336 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in statehouses across the country in 2023, eclipsing the record 315 tallied by the Human Rights Campaign in 2022. Many bills target transgender youths, prohibiting gender-affirming care or participation in school sports teams aligned with their gender identity.

“It can’t be understated, the degree of transphobia we are seeing among politicians,” said Gina Sequeira, co-director of the Seattle Children's Gender Clinic in Washington. “The patients I take care of are incredibly fearful of the atmosphere they see.”

Another factor, Sequeira noted, is the record levels of fatal violence suffered by transgender victims in recent years, especially Black trans women.

“We have to acknowledge that societal racism and transphobia directly correlate with some of the findings we see,” she said.

It's a message that a bigot like Anthony Monteiro just can't grasp.  The hate these bigots spew has consequences:

A transgender woman was brutally assaulted near a light rail station in Minneapolis, suffering serious injuries including a rib fracture, collapsed lung and brain bleed.

Metro Transit police officers responded Monday morning to a call that a woman with “visible brain matter” was lying on the ground near Lake St. Station.

Officers were concerned the assailants were motivated by “anti-transgender bias,” according to the criminal complaints. However, Nicholas Kimball, a spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, told The Associated Press the case is still being investigated and the office needs more evidence to determine a motive.

At least 32 transgender and gender-nonconforming people were killed in the United States last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Trans women are disproportionately represented, comprising 81% of the deaths. In 2021, the human rights organization tallied 57 fatal assaults against trans and gender-nonconforming people, the highest number since HRC has been reporting the numbers.

America does not need these hate merchants and the lies they spread.  How awful is Glenneth Greenwald's roll dog and hag Marjorie Taylor Greene?  Even President Joe Biden makes fun of her and says she's actually going to help turn out Democratic voters across the nation:

The Georgia Republican has previously heckled the president, including during his State of the Union address in February when he spoke about alleged plans from some Republicans to cut Social Security and Medicare. At that moment, Greene shouted out "liar, liar" in response to his comments.

In another instance, Greene claimed that Biden is responsible for fentanyl overdose deaths. On Tuesday, she shared a clip to Twitter of House testimony from Rebecca Kiessling, a mother who lost two sons to fentanyl overdoses in July 2020—when former President Donald Trump was in office.

The congresswoman asked the mother during the hearing whether her sons would be alive "if our government would secure our southern border," which has numerously seen the seizure of large amounts of the drug. Kiessling responded "absolutely."

"Listen to this mother, who lost two children to fentanyl poisoning, tell the truth about both of her son's murders because of the Biden administrations refusal to secure our border and stop the Cartel's from murdering Americans everyday by Chinese fentanyl," Greene wrote on Twitter.

Biden referenced her accusations on Wednesday and pointed out that the deaths of the women's sons happened when Trump was president.

"I've read she was very specific recently, saying that a mom—a poor mother who lost two kids to fentanyl, that I killed her sons. Well, the interesting thing is that fentanyl they took came during the last administration," he said.

Poor Glenneth, his hag's under fire.

The following sites updated: