From laughter to shocking, Alex Findijs (WSWS) reports:
At least 117 journalists were arrested in the United States in 2020, setting a new record for arrests of journalists by a significant margin, according to a report released this week by the Freedom of the Press Foundation based on data compiled by the US Press Freedom Tracker. The number is expected to rise as more than a dozen cases are still under investigation.
From 2017 to 2019, 68 journalists were arrested: 9 in 2019, 11 in 2018 and 48 in 2017. In the week from May 29 to June 4 alone, more arrests of journalists were conducted than in these three years combined.
The timing of this police rampage against the press is significant.
Prior to May 29, only two journalists had been arrested. However, following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, mass multiracial protests against police violence and racism spread rapidly across the country.
These protests are believed to be the largest in American history, with an estimated 15–26 million people participating in protests that occurred in 40 percent of American counties.
Immense social anger erupted, with millions of people taking to the streets to protest not just against Floyd’s murder, but against the whole police apparatus, which has been built up with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and free military equipment, while the budgets of social programs and public education have been gutted year after year.
Working class people of all races and ethnicities joined together to voice their anger at the epidemic of police murders and violence that has ravaged communities across the country—with approximately 1,000 killing every year—culminating in calls for the defunding and even abolition of police departments across the country.
The fact that millions of working class people united in a common cause against the police, the agents of capitalist repression and class rule, sparked fear in the ruling class. Both Republican and Democratic politicians moved quickly to brutally repress the protests through violent police crackdowns, terrified that the protests would expand further.
What's the biggest threat to the ruling class? An informed citizenry.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.
It's over. Yesterday, the electoral college voted -- as noted in Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IT'S OVER (TELL SIDNEY POWELL)!," Cedric's "Another voting sham cries Sidney Powell!," Ann's "The electoral college conspiracy!" and Betty's "To the Supreme Court!" -- and Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.
Some people had little fits and had to whine that Donald Trump was challenging this or that. It's the process. It played out. There was never a need to panic of have a hissy fit. Al Gore should have been president in 2000. Hopefully, the next time there's a need to challenge, the person will do so and we'll all remember that, in 2020, when Donald exhausted every option, the world did not fall apart.
What took place was transparent and the rulings from various courts were clear and concise. We say how the system was designed to work and it did.
Observers, fair ones -- not just Donald supporters, can rightly note that the media didn't play fair in any manner. Their behavior was embarrassing and shameful. But the election results are what they are and the process worked.
Is Donald still fighting/soldiering on? At 10:30 pm EST, his campaign was sending everyone -- every e-mail address they had -- an unnamed prize ("weekly impact offer") that you would find about after -- after -- you donated money (a minimum of five dollars). So it looks like even Donald has accepted the results -- though clearly he's still on the grift.
If he doesn't accept them?
It's over. The electoral college voted. Joe Biden could be revealed tomorrow as the Son of Sam who'd kept it hidden all these years. Joe would be arrested but that wouldn't make Donald president. Kamala would be next in line. The electoral college, as set up in the Constitution, is the last chance. After they vote, that's it.
January 20th, Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as the next president of the United States.
Right now? Donald Trump remains president.
His legacy isn't much of note. He could try to change that in his final days in office.
Pardoning Ed Snowden would be a major step and it would be something many would praise him for. Pardoning Ed and Julian Assange both would do a lot to improve his poor image.
More likely though, he'll just pull the nonsense Bill Clinton did at the end of his second term when Bill did a lot of executive orders as he was on his way out the door, knowing full well that they weren't laws and that Bully Boy Bush would immediately overturn them.
If that's all Donald has to offer, his historical note will be a sad and ugly one.
He wanted to remove all US troops from Iraq, we're told. Well we all have wants, it's our actions we're judged by. Wasn't that Jimmy Carter's point when he confessed to lusting after other women in his heart? That we all have wants but it is our actions that count?
He wanted to release all of the JFK files that were supposed to be released. However? He didn't.
He was persecuted and I won't deny that reality. The press and the DNC and ex-CIA trash worked together to destroy him before he was ever sworn in. That's reality. And it's part of his legacy. Yes, they put up walls.
But he was the leader and he should have managed to get around those walls.
His failure to publicly call out James Jeffrey after Jeffrey revealed that he and others intentionally lied to Donald Trump about the number of US troops in Syria after Donald had ordered them to be reduced to a certain number? That's appalling. He's exploded on Twitter repeatedly but this was an issue that actually should have had a response. What Jeffrey was confessing to was treason. There is no other word for it. Donald, the president of the United States, in his position of commander-in-chief, gave an order and Jeffrey and others worked behind his back to keep the order from being carried out. That's treason.
Jeffrey can resign in protest and go public. That's allowed. But what he did is not allowed.
Now maybe Donald is being nice (it could happen) because treason can result in execution. Maybe he wants to spare Jeffrey and others a trial.
I think they should be tried. Failure to hold them accountable (they can be tried without being executed) sends a message to everyone that you can get away with this.
This especially effects Joe Biden.
We all know Joe is in mental decline. He shouldn't have run for the presidency. But he did and now he's the president. Do we really want to say it's okay for people serving in the administration who disagree with Joe's policy to just lie to him and tell him that it's being carried out? It goes beyond insubordination, it's treason. And it shouldn't take place regardless of who is president.
For more than 17 years since its invasion of Iraq, the United States has failed to present itself as a partner interested in supporting Iraqi efforts for democratic and economic development. It has continued to pursue its military and geopolitical interests at the expense of the Iraqi people, their security and wellbeing.
This became clear once again at the beginning of this year when, amid a popular uprising against rampant corruption, sectarian politics, political violence, unemployment, and Iranian interference in Iraq, the Trump administration decided to assassinate in Baghdad top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Instead of backing the Iraqi people’s democratic aspirations, Washington once again propped up the dysfunctional political status quo by escalating its confrontation with Iran and in this way, undermining the movement for reform and political change.
In this context, the fact that US President Donald Trump is pursuing his own narrow political interests in Iraq in the last months of his presidency is hardly surprising to Iraqis. His decision to withdraw more US troops from the country is another attempt to present himself as fulfilling his election promises while setting yet another foreign policy trap for the incoming administration of Joe Biden.
In his pursuit of disastrous policies in Iraq, however, Trump is no different from his predecessors. And many Iraqis fear that his successor may bring more of the same.
[. . .]
Having gone through the same failed policies of three consecutive US presidents since 2003, many Iraqis are cautious about expecting much from the upcoming Biden administration.
The Iraqi Kurds are probably the most optimistic about his presidency. They hope he could be “America’s most pro-Kurdish president”, given his past statements on Kurdish statehood and ties with Erbil’s leadership.
Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, who once denounced the US occupation because of their marginalisation on the political scene, are now in favour of a US military presence against the enormous Iranian influence. Biden’s willingness to expand the deployment of US troops will probably be welcomed by Sunni Arab political circles.
The Shia Arabs are ambivalent at best. The elites – the majority of whom adopt a pro-Iran discourse – will probably evaluate Biden’s administration based on its approach to de-escalation with Iran. But there are also many among the ordinary Shia population who are frustrated by both Tehran and Washington. They would like to see the Iranian grip on Iraq relax and a strong Iraqi national state emerge, but their bitter experience with Trump during the protests of 2019-2020 has dampened their hopes that the US can be an effective anti-Iran influence.
Biden himself has a mixed record on Iraq as a senator and vice president. In June 2006, he proposed a soft partition of Iraq to allow for federal autonomy for the Shia Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish communities, which was welcomed by the Kurds, but rejected by many Arabs.
He continued to promote his plan even amid the war against ISIL (ISIS), calling in a 2014 Washington Post article for “functioning federalism… which would ensure equitable revenue-sharing for all provinces and establish locally rooted security structures”.
Biden would do well to drop this proposal from his foreign policy objectives in Iraq. Solidifying political divisions between the different communities would encourage more political fragmentation and provide even more ground for the expansion of Iranian influence. A semi-autonomous Shia region would most likely fall completely under the control of Tehran.
At FOREIGN POLICY, Farhad Alaaldin teams with Kenneth Pollack to argue for international aid to Iraq:
Iraq is headed for a financial collapse, and in its current fragile state, fiscal ruin is likely to bring down its rickety political system, which could then ignite yet another round of civil war.
[. . . .]
Iraq’s coming crisis is a crisis of liquidity. Iraq will need money to prevent the collapse of its financial system, which would be the first domino to fall. If the United States were willing to pledge a significant amount, perhaps $1 billion, it should be possible to put together a larger package of $5 billion to $10 billion for Iraq with other countries chipping in.
The idea of providing $1 billion in emergency budget support to Iraq may seem impossible at this moment. It shouldn’t. It wouldn’t come out of the pockets of ordinary Americans in the form of increased taxes—and the last 12 years should have taught the United States two important lessons about this part of the world.
First, what happens in the Middle East does not stay there. And second, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—as Washington’s tragic policies toward Iraq, Syria, and Libya have all demonstrated.
They also insist on tying the future of Iraq to Mustafa al-Kahdimi -- ignoring the reality that he said he'd be a one term prime minister. They ignore the fact that more money poured into Iraq doesn't end the corruption.
They want to pretend that the state has the problems it does because it has so many government workers. I'm sorry, which ones are getting $100 million pay checks? Iraq's population isn't even 40 million. They bring in how many billions a year? The state payroll is not the problem -- not when it comes to actual workers. Now that payroll is padded and that needs to stop.
But quit pretending that the 'corruption' is the system Iraq has (Kenneth is screaming for them to have capitalism and do away with the safety net). The problem is the various leaders and officials who steal from the public moneys.
And more aid isn't going to stop that.
Transparency International finds, yearly, Iraq to in the top five of the most corrupt countries in the world.
As for the shaky government, of course it is. Mustafa, like every prime minister before him, fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The US and Iran keep putting cowards in charge of the country.
Equally true, when the people do vote, what do they see? In 2010, they watched as Joe Biden overturned their votes with The Erbil Agreement. But we want them to believe voting matters? And that they have a say in the system?
They only have a say in their government if the US and Iran sign off on it.
Get honest about that.
This 'crisis' by the way? It was completely anticipated. That's why Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for the government to refuse the IMF. He did not see the point in borrowing and certainly not in putting 'austerity' thugs in charge of Iraq.
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq in March. Father Rif’at Bader (VATICAN NEWS) explains the whys for the visit:
Pope Francis goes to Iraq at a time when his predecessors were unable to do so due to the complexities of the pressing conditions that prevailed recently, including wars, sectarian violence, terrorist attacks, and the complexities of the political affairs in that fraternal country.
Pope John Paul II had an earnest wish to visit Iraq in 1999, but due to the blockade which was imposed on Iraq at the time late President Saddam Hussein postponed the visit that was scheduled that year. Thus, the saint pope made a "spiritual" pilgrimage to this country, on March 12, 2000, in order to start the pilgrimage journey in the year of the great jubilee from the country of Prophet Abraham which was fulfilled with a visit to Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. A year later he walked in the steps of Paul the Apostle to Syria.
Today, Pope Francis--who always focuses on respect for the poor, the refugees and the immigrants, as well as their right to a safe life-- goes to Iraq where in recent years Christian and Yazidis, especially from the Nineveh Plain and Mosul and from neighboring towns and cities, have been forcibly displaced to countries of the world in the wake of the terrorist acts conducted by ISIS at the time.
Pope Francis comes to Iraq in the first place to encourage the Christian community in Iraq which has withstood political “turbulences” that took place including foreign wars or in-fighting. There is still a bright and glorious Christian presence despite the dramatic decrease in numbers.
Consequently, the Pontiff wants to encourage those who are steadfast in the land of their ancestors in spite of the successive disasters especially during his scheduled visit to the city of Erbil, where there are currently good numbers of forcibly displaced people from Mosul and the towns of the Nineveh Plain. His Holiness will also visit Mosul and Qaraqosh township to further encourage the forcibly displaced who live abroad to possibly return to the land of their ancestors and grandparents.
Pope Francis wants in the second place to promote dialogue and common living between all the religious components, whether at the ecumenical level between sisterly Churches, or through Islamic-Christian relations. It is well-known that there is not only Christian-Sunni dialogue, but there is also Shiite-Christian dialogue. On the land of Iraq, there is a historical presence of Sabean-Mandeans, Yazidis, Baha'is, as well as other religions and traditions.
Furthermore, Pope Francis--who is the man who supports dialogue-- wants to emphasize the feeling, the duty and the responsibility of fraternal common living among the various components of the Iraqi people, under the umbrella of citizenship, especially a few months after he signed an important document called "Fratelli Tutti" or "We are all brothers and sisters."
Pope Francis will definitely send a message for the pursuit of paths of peace, dialogue, fraternity, cooperation and constructive cooperation among the various politicians in Iraq in order to rebuild a strong modern Iraqi state after years of hard and bitter wars, sectarian squabbles, and attacks by terrorist groups, so as to restore the spirit of hope among all Iraqis, especially the youth, for a better future.
The following sites updated: