Saturday, January 07, 2023

Graham Elwood, Mickey Z, and Idiot of the Week

First up, Graham Elwood discussing government secrets with Lee Camp.

Mickey Z (DISSIDENT VOICE) has a new column:

We begin this long and winding ode on August 7, 2012 — a classic hot-and-humid Big Apple summer day. I was taking part in a demonstration called “Occupy Saks” and I came within an eyelash of being arrested by seven cops. I’ll get to that shortly.

For now, I’ll explain that the protest was ostensibly against a man named Carlos Slim who, despite such a cinematic moniker, is not a James Bond villain.

Slim is one of the world’s wealthiest humans with a fortune amassed by exploiting the poorest of the poor in Mexico through his telephone monopoly. For a short while, he was the only “richest man in the world” ever from a developing nation.

Slim was born in Mexico but is of Lebanese descent. He loves baseball, possesses at least 12 mansions across the globe, and owns part of the New York Times. At the time of the aforementioned protest, Slim was also the largest shareholder in Saks Fifth Avenue.

So, there we were. Occupy Wall Street, working with groups like Two Countries, One Voice, to spread “awareness” about Slim’s crimes. We had music and chanting and costumes and puppets and all that. We followed the well-worn script. This included handing out fliers to “educate” the masses.

Needless to say, most passers-by justifiably treated us as if we were just another NYC sidewalk nuisance. This brings me to reason #1 why current modes of street activism are counterproductive:

1. Street activism reinforces the negative public perception. To the average person, an activist is a fringe character. A fanatic. A wild-eyed zealot who sees the world in black-and-white terms. This perception exists for two primary reasons. Firstly, the corporate media works relentlessly and effectively to portray activism in a negative light. Secondly, many dissidents are wild-eyed zealots who see the world in black-and-white terms.

For example, I can remember (several times) standing out in sub-zero temperatures with a handful of others, protesting something or other. We’d felt so proud of ourselves. It was so dedicated of us to be risking our own health “for the cause.” When I’d share photos later (see reason #2) I’d use self-serving and self-deluding captions like: “This is what commitment looks like.”

Meanwhile, the people walking past such “protests” would look at us like we were, well, wild-eyed zealots. Some even yelled stuff like: “Get a life!” and “What’s wrong with you people?” I can see now how ridiculous we must’ve looked and how grandiose it was to assume we were doing anything even remotely productive. Multiply my experiences by thousands of events for thousands of “issues” across the country every single day and you have a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

It's an interesting column with a lot to think about.  Are we putting off people when we try to recruit and inform?  If street activism isn't working (I'm not saying it's not), then what are we left with because online 'activism' is a joke.  

So what is the answer?

Or are we doomed to learn and die, learn and die, never getting information shared with those that follow us?

Isn't that the point C.I.'s always made regarding people like Bob Somerby who think they're doing something unique and have no idea of all the media critics that came before?  

I don't know.

Oh, idiot of the week.  Forgot about it completely.  Sorry.

Let's go with Matt Taibbi.  He's done some strong stuff over the years.  The Twitter Dumps aren't part of them.  This week, he went on THE ZERO HOUR to explain "why I reported on The Twitter Files."

But, idiot, you didn't report on them. 

If you had reported, there would have been real impact because you can write amazingly well.

But you Tweeted.  And it's not worth it for most people.  Trying to follow various dumps without an overview or analysis is just too much.  You want to have impact with The Twitter Files?

Sit your butt down and write an actual report.

But then again, maybe you prefer going around making your transphobic remarks instead, right?  

Either way, he's the idiot of the week.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, January 6, 2023.  Iraq hosts the Gulf Cup, Moqtada entertains the troops, Donald Trump is not going to be handed over to Iraqi authorities, and much more.

Let's start with nonsense.

It doesn't matter.  That's why we've ignored it all week.  Again, they want to arrest Donald.  So what?  The first time we noted it.  They know it's not happening and anyone with a brain knows it's not happening.  The US government will never turn a former president over to another nation.  We won't even turn Henry Kissinger over.  They won't turn Donald over, it would set a precedent.  They also won't do it because it's the US government which thinks it owns and controls the world.  It's not happening.  It's a non-starter.  It's not going to play out.  It's not going to happen.  We went with RedVicking's Tweet on the subject because it's not insane as so many of the Tweets about this are.  

Why do we have such a screwed up government here in the US?  Because we have stupid adults who think they can weigh without knowing a damn thing.

Anyone telling you that US President Joe Biden might turn Donald over (or will turn him over) to Iraq is either a liar or the biggest idiot of them all.  Bill Clinton bombed Sudan in 1998.  Bully Boy Bush invaded Iraq illegally, ordered the toture of Iraqis and go down the never-ending list.  Barack Obama droned people to death -- he was judge and jury as well as excutioner.  

If you're that stupid, let me break the news to you slowly.  The US government.  That represents We the People of the United States.  Is loathed around the world.  For various actions taken. Actions that we see as illegal when other nation-states act in the same manner.  

Tony Blair will likely never be brought to justice. 

What world leaders get brought to justice?

Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno (Panama), Slobodan Milošević (Serbia), those sort of people.  They are leaders but they aren't leaders of western countries.  

The US government will not allow it to happen and for many reasons including they will not allow their government actions and decisions to evaluated by a legal jury of anyone's peers.

It's a waste of time to focus on something that's not going to happen.  Take that garbage to the Rachel Maddow message boards and continue to drag the nation down further into stupidity, if you must.  But grasp that endless focusing on these demented fantasies are why we have the government we do.  When you don't even know the basics, maybe just continue to focus on your 'reality' TV shows.  You'll be doing the world a huge favor.

There are things worthy of coverage and there are things that aren't. 

This morning, for example, I've gone back and forth over one story -- do we include it, do we not.  We're not going to include the video or the young lady's name.  That's all that's different right now.  Otherwise, it's the attack in the suburb of Sulaimani that we covered on Saturday and in Monday's snapshot.  We've covered it.  In the news cycle right now, the survivor's name.  Is she being quoted?  No.  So I'm not sure she wants her name known.  It's public record and anybody can look it up but a 17-year-old girl who was attacked by a mob of men should be the one who decides if her name is known or not.  What else emerged?

Video.  You've got delighted men running after her to attack her.  It is offensive.  If it had been out -- the video -- on Saturday or Monday, we would have included it as part of the story.  But it's days later and I don't see the point today in including video of an assault we've already noted.  The video turns my stomach but it would have been included in Monday's snapshot if it had been released them.  Gruesome and disgusting?  Yes.  And also a crime.  So my argument then would have been that we shouldn't turn away from it.  The difference now is the crime has been discussed and addressed so, at this point, it's kind of like the footgage in THE ACCUSED -- where Jodie's character's being gang raped and some audiences are getting off on that (see Susan Faludi's BACKLASH).  We know what happened, we've covered it.  Days after that, the video footage is of no use to illuminating anything, my opinion, so we're not including it here.

Another issue in the e-mails, why aren't we covering George Santos.  Uh, what does he have to do with Iraq?  I especially enjoy the other e-mails to the public account (, the drive-bys that tell me I'm attacking George Santos and don't realize that Joe Biden lies too!

George Santos name is appearing in something I've written here for the first time.  I've never written about him before.  So I don't know what you think you're reading but it hasn't been anything I've written.  

Those of you sending the drive-by e-mails need to grasp an important point.

Joe Biden has a history of lying.  It got him kicked out of one Democratic Party primary.  He lies, he mistates, he mixes things up.

Here's the difference, when he ran for the presidency, that was known.  The American people knew (or should have) what they were getting.  So you're going back to 1988 or some other nonsense?  It doesn't matter.

If he lied regarding business dealings with his son Hunter, that would be different.  And he may have and he may not have lied on that.

But exposed lies that were known before election day in 2020 are not the same as discovering that a newly elected member of Congress (he's not been sworn in yet) lied throughout the election and decieved people (and the press was asleep on the job) -- it's completely different.  

I'm not going to think about it, I'm not going to play it out as to what should or shouldn't happen.  But I will note that there is a world of difference between people choosing to vote for a known liar with years and years of public examples of deception and voting for a fresh face who apparently lied about everything.

Oh, I'll note one more thing.  I'm not going to name her.  But there was a Democrat who got caught, as she ran for re-election, in a lie.  She'd lied about being a college graduate.  And this became a big deal.  This is how the Democratic Party dealt with that.  She was already running for re-election when this came out.  They humiliated her.  Every day, they found a way to humiliate her.  One day, they were thrilled that when she visited _____ they had her picked up at the airport . . . in a Pinto -- a badly banged up Pinto that reeked of cigarettes.  The Pinto was decades old and the paint was off in spots.  It wasn't even the car of the person who was driving her.  They looked for the worst car they could borrow in each city she visited and in that city it was a Pinto.  And they took pictures and they faxed all over.  They lived to humiliate her.  That's how the Democrats played it.  I have no idea how the Republicans will handle their problem.

+ A week after Bush launched the War on Terror Bob Woodward asked Cheney how long it would last. Cheney replied: “It may never end. At least, not in our lifetime.” The wet-dream of weapons contractors had materialized. The Pentagon Budget in 2001 was $287B. Now it’s $857B & rising.

+ Contracts with Raytheon and Lockheed to blow s**t up followed by contracts with BlackRock to “rebuild.” What are the Minsk Accords compared to this kind of deal?

+ According to an analysis by the intrepid Stephen Semler military contractors are set to pocket around $20 billion out of the $47 billion in the last Ukraine aid package.

In the room the arms lobbyists come and go
talking of how they just added another zero…

+ Apparently the Russian military is blaming cell-phone usage by its troops on the frontlines for the recent spate of Ukrainian missile attacks on Russian outposts, attacks which may have killed more than 1000 Russian soldiers. If so, those soldiers in rural Donetsk Oblast get better cell service than I do here in the sprawl of Greater Portland, where I barely get a single bar here in the house. If Russia really wanted to protect their troops they’d force them all onto an AT&T plan…

+ According to an analysis by Max Berger, more than 75% of the $40 million crypto-conman Samuel Bankman-Fried contributed to Democrats in 2022 went to groups that dumped nearly all their money on competitive primaries, largely to neoliberals facing off against more progressive candidates. Not that it would have mattered much in the end, since nearly all of the progressives end up voting with the neoliberals when the chips are down…and even when they aren’t.

+ Life expectancy in the US continues to plummet. The response of Congress and the Biden administration in the omnibus spending bill is to end emergency Covid funding and raise the age of mandatory retirement account withdrawals by three years. Someone’s making out, but it sure ain’t us…

+ Biden campaigned to expand Medicaid. Now he’s signed a bill to sharply curtail it, ending coverage for millions of people in the middle of a pandemic he pretends is over…

+ The Social Security administration continues to deny thousands of disability claims a year, in part because it continues to rely on a 45-year-old list of outdated job titles. We live in a System that is eager to help the people who least need it and quick to ignore, chastise and punish the weakest, sickest and poorest among us.

+ 54% of Mississippi’s hospitals are running out of operating funds and at risk of closing. This “looming disaster” is largely a consequence of Gov. Tate Reeve’s stubborn refusal to accept expanded Medicare funding offered to state under ObamaCare.

+ Our book, An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism & Its Discontents, which the great historian Peter Linebaugh says is written “in acid prose cutting through the machine’s wicked fabrications,” is now available on Kindle

Excitement in Iraq today with the Gulf Cup.

            Today, Friday, the Gulf Arab Cup kicks off its 25th session (Gulf 25) which will be hosted by Iraq in Basra until January 19 with 8 teams from the Gulf, and the eight teams have been divided into two groups where in the first includes Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Yemen, and the second – the teams of Kuwait, Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. The opening ceremony of the tournament will be held, after which the opening match between Iraq (the host) and Oman will take place, after which the match of our team with the Yemeni counterpart took place.

Competition in the group is expected to be fierce. In order to qualify for the semi-finals first and then the title, in light of host Iraq’s ambition to win the missing title for 34 years while Al-Akhdar hopes for a fourth title while Oman wanted to win a third title, and finally, Yemen is looking for its first title in the tournament.

In a series of tweets, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani expressed his happiness for the opening of the Gulf Club 25 tournament in Basra, Iraq. 

He congratulated the people of Basra and all Iraqis for hosting this significant event, especially since it’s been over 40 years since Iraq has hosted these games. 

“I’m overwhelmed with great happiness and a wonderful feeling on the occasion of the launch of the Gulf Cup Football Championship,” he wrote in one of his tweets.

He welcomed all the attendees to the event and the “guests” from Arab countries.

In other news, cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr emerged from his public retreat long enough to entertain the fellas.

And check out this Tweet.

You know what's not 'adorbs'?  This is plundered.  It belongs in Iraq not in a British musem.

Where does Hillary Clinton belong?  As REUTERS journalist Kanishka Raj Singh notes, she thinks she belongs on a campus.

The only thing supporting the Iraq War ever cost Hillary was the 2008 Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Barack used her support for that war as a club to beat her with throughout the primary season.

Let's wind down with LGBTQ+ issues.  Kevin Bolling has an important column at NEWSWEEK.  I don't know how to excerpt it.  So here's the link.  It's about how homophobes are trying to use schools to carry out attacks on LGBTQ+ students.

Attacks on students?

A man from Central Florida is accused of threatening to kill 100 LGBTQ people in a mass shooting at Florida State University, federal investigators said. Sean Michael Albert, a 19-year-old from Winter Park, a suburb of Orlando, is accused of posting the threat to a Discord channel Dec. 13, according to the federal criminal complaint. Discord is a social media instant messaging platform popular with gamers. The post included a photo of an AR-15 style rifle, along with a caption that included Florida State University’s main address and referred to his intended targets with an anti-LGBTQ slur, the complaint said.
[. . .]
At a hearing Wednesday, Jan. 4, U.S. Magistrate Judge Embry Kidd ordered he be detained until trial, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.


John Russell (LGBTQ NATION) adds, "Albert, who is being held in federal detention in Orlando, allegedly posted that “a genocide … NEEDS to happen not even a question,” along with an anti-LGBTQ+ slur, as well as another threat to “tear gas a synagogue” and what is believed to be a coded threat to kill all Black people."

The following sites updated:

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Graham Elwood, David Stockman

Graham Elwood's talking about TIK TOK.


You know, I'm just not in to TIK TOK.  Never been interested in it.  The closest thing would be  those "short" videos on YOUTUBE -- labeled short -- that are stand up videos that last 15 to 30 seconds.

I just don't feel that most video content creators shouldn't.  They create visually dull videos.  They've got nothing to say or sing and I'm just not interested.  I was in high school when MYSPACE was the biggest be all of them all.  Now no one even knows MYSPACE.  It just faded away.

I wish the war would fade away -- all of them.  At ANTIWAR.COM, David Stockman writes:

The present disaster in Ukraine incepted in the Washington-sponsored Maidan coup of February 2014. Among other things it was a "revenge intervention" designed to punish Russia for being so bold as to thwart the neocon regime change adventure in Syria; and especially to haze Putin for persuading Assad to give up his chemical weapons, thereby removing any pretext for Washington military intervention.

As it happened, the Russian-friendly president of Ukraine at the time, Vicktor Janukovych, had at the last minute in late 2013 ditched a long-pending EU affiliation agreement and IMF stabilization plan in favor of a more attractive deal with Moscow. Under the so-called rule of law, that reversal would hardly seem outside the realm of sovereign prerogative.

But not by the lights of Washington, red-hot from being check-mated in Syria. Accordingly, the neocon operatives in the Obama national security apparatus, spear-headed by the horrid Victoria Nuland, insisted that the Russian deal not be allowed to stand and that Ukraine’s accession to NATO should be fast-tracked.

So doing, they demonstrated an immense ignorance about the 800-year history of the various territories which had been cobbled together in the artificial state of Ukraine, and the long-history of these pieces and parts as vassals and appendages of both Greater Russia and various eastern European kingdoms and empires that had marched back and forth across the pages of history.

In a word, they dove into a rabbit hole that has made Washington’s misadventures in the middle east small potatoes by comparison. But the War Party would be be stopped, encouraged to believe that its vast conventional military armada and the reach of its global economic sanctions could bring Putin to heel, as well.

Is this war going to drag out forever like the Iraq War?  I get the feeling that I'll be dead and gone and my daughter will be a grandma before this war ends.  

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, January 5, 2023.   THE NEW YORK TIMES hires another homophobic columnist, NYPD lets Proud Boys ride the subways for free (some sort of take-your-thug-to-work event, apparently), Iraqi teachers tired of two years without pay take to the streets as corruption becomes more embedded in Iraq.

Trudy Ring (THE ADVOCATE) reports:

The New York Times has brought on an anti-LGBTQ+ columnist, David French, a former National Review editor who was once an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The Times announced French’s hiring Tuesday, calling him “an expert on the law, faith and politics.” But GLAAD is pointing to his “deep history of anti-LGBTQ activism.” GLAAD also notes that he joins the Times after the paper ended its relationship with acclaimed trans writer Jenny Boylan last year and brought on another anti-LGBTQ+ columnist, Pamela Paul.

And here is the statement from GLAAD:

January 4, 2023

Today, GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the New York Times’ recent announcement of their hiring of anti-LGBTQ attorney and writer David French as a columnist.

GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis responded on Twitter and below:

“It is appalling that The New York Times hired and is now boasting about bringing on David French, a writer and attorney with a deep history of anti-LGBTQ activism. After more than a year of inaccurate, misleading LGBTQ coverage in the Times opinion and news pages, the Times started 2023 by announcing a second anti-transgender opinion columnist, without a single known trans voice represented on staff. A cursory search for French turns up numerous anti-LGBTQ articles and his record as an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group that actively spreads misinformation about LGBTQ people and pushes baseless legislation and lawsuits to legalize discrimination, including just last month at the Supreme Court. The Times left out these facts in its glowing announcement of French’s hiring, and also forgot to mention his work as a co-signer on the 2017 Nashville Statement, which erased LGBTQ voices of faith and falsely stated ‘that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism.’ The Times had the gall to claim French as a ‘faith’ expert despite this known history.

The Times’ opinion section continues to platform non-LGBTQ voices speaking up inaccurately and harmfully about LGBTQ people and issues. This is damaging to the paper’s credibility. The Times opinion section editors’ love letter to French yesterday shows a willful disregard of LGBTQ community voices and the concerns so many have shared about their inaccurate, exclusionary, often ridiculous pieces. Last year, the Times ended popular trans writer Jenny Boylan’s column, leaving the opinion section with no trans columnists and a known lack of transgender representation on its overall staff. Who was brought on after Boylan? Pamela Paul, who has devoted columns to anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ disinformation, and David French. This reflects a growing trend on the news and opinion pages of misguided, inaccurate, and disingenuous ‘both sides’ fearmongering and bad faith ‘just asking questions’ coverage. The Times started 2023 by bragging about hiring another anti-trans writer, so LGBTQ leaders, organizations, and allies should make a 2023 resolution not to stay silent as the Times platforms lies, bias, fringe theories, and dangerous inaccuracies.”

Examples of French’s anti-LGBTQ activism:

Examples of NYT Columnist Pamela Paul’s anti-LGBTQ work:

Recent examples of inaccurate news coverage of LGBTQ people and youth, and their consequences:

  • The state of Texas used Emily Bazelon’s June 15 report in The New York Times Magazine to further target families of trans youth in court documents over their private, evidence-based healthcare decisions. Every major medical association supports gender affirming care as best practices care that is safe and lifesaving and has widespread consensus of the medical and scientific communities.
  • The World Professional Association of Transgender Healthcare (WPATH), the world’s leading medical and research authority on transgender healthcare, criticized the Times’ November 2022 article “They Paused Puberty, But Is There a Cost?” as “furthering the atmosphere of misinformation” about healthcare for trans youth, noting its inaccurate narratives, interpretations and non-expert voices. WPATH noted the Times elevated false and inflammatory notions about medications that have been used safely in non-LGBTQ populations for decades without an explicit statement about how the benefits of the treatment far outweigh potential risks.
  • Writer Michael Powell elevated anti-transgender voices to falsely assert, in a piece about one successful transgender athlete, that transgender athletes are a threat to women’s sports. Powell’s other pieces have been used to support Pamela Paul’s inaccurate opinion essays falsely claiming “women” are being erased by the inclusion of trans people in discussions about abortion access.

THE NEW YORK TIMES itself has a lengthy history of homophobia.  Most recently, they ran their factually incorrect piece on transgender persons.  It's amazing that the staff managed to clutch the pearls over the publication of a column by a US senator and get an editor fired over it but they never feel the need to question the repeated and ongoing homophobia of the paper.  More to the point, NYT, in the digital age, goes out of its way to market itself as some sort of left outpost left fighting in the wilderness and so many idiots believe it and think NYT is anything but an elitist, corporatist paper.  This goes to the reality of what a cesspool it actually is.

It's 2023, there is a war going on against LGBTQ+ people and THE NEW YORK TIMES' response?  To hire yet another homophobe columnist.  They are pouring gasoline on top of a raging fire.  Mary Harris (SLATE) notes:

In the past year, there’s been a sharp uptick in anti-LGBTQ incidents around the country. One group estimates that there’s been a 12-fold increase in demonstrations and political violence targeted at the queer community, just since 2000. In fact, the very same people in the audience watching the Respect for Marriage Act get signed? They were fighting off harassment the moment they got home.

“I spoke to a drag artist by the name of Marti G. Cummings. They’re a nonbinary performer here in New York City, and they were invited to the White House ceremony. And the night after the signing, Tucker Carlson ran a segment about this and included references to Marti Cummings, saying that they have an unusual interest in children,” Mack says. “Marti Cummings told me that to them, Tucker Carlson knows what he’s doing. To frame drag artists as this predatory threat to children is something that felt very shocking to me in March. But now, I’m not shocked at all. That focus on children is not a coincidence. It is entirely related to the events that we saw in the pandemic and the political strategy that sections of the right developed.”

On Wednesday’s episode of What Next, we try to make sense of this bifurcated moment for the queer community by examining the common thread linking conservative activism around COVID to anti-gay demonstrations in the street. My conversation with David Mack has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Mary Harris: Back when a shooter opened fire in a Colorado Springs gay nightclub, in November, BuzzFeed’s David Mack wrote an article lamenting the fact that this kind of violence seemed inevitable. Mack was hurting as he wrote this—he’s gay himself; he felt at risk. But he also felt like he should have seen this violence coming. 

To him, it didn’t begin with gay people at all. Instead, it began with concerns around COVID and schools. Because protecting children seemed to resonate. Over the past year, he says he’s watched this political message metastasize. 

David Mack: It’s funny. In November 2021, I was in Grand Junction, Colorado, for a school board race, of all things. I’d chosen to go there for a few reasons. It’s a bit of a hotbed for election denialism. It was having this school board race that was suddenly very partisan. And it’s also an overwhelmingly white area where suddenly “critical race theory” was this big subject of debate. One of the candidates told me that she’d knocked on a door and someone had told her that they blamed “critical race theory” for turning their child bisexual.

Whoa. Quite a leap there.

It certainly was. But it spoke perfectly to this wonderful boogeyman that the right had created. Most people I spoke to, even the candidates themselves, couldn’t really define what CRT was. It became this wonderful catchall for anything that could possibly influence young minds to hate America or to make them less American. And to make them less conservative is where it naturally led.

Protecting the presumed innocence of children is what connects all this. Whether conservative parents were talking about “critical race theory” or LGBTQ issues, the idea was the same: to avoid “corrupting the minds of young people.”

And to be clear, I’m not the one marrying these things. In Ohio, one of the bills that was put forward to legislate against “critical race theory” also included, in the very same bill, language that mirrored restrictions on sexual teachings, on sexual orientation, and on gender identity that you saw famously in the “don’t say gay” bill in Florida.

Do you think it is a top-down strategy? Or do you think it’s more like something was successful and then it spread and morphed?

Certainly people at the highest levels of the Republican Party are aware of this strategy and are using this strategy. You saw Glenn Youngkin in Virginia run in 2021 on a campaign about giving parents more control over the curriculum and listening to parents when it comes to schools. And they’re clearly recognizing schools and classrooms are a winning issue. Steve Bannon famously said last year the path to retake the country runs through school board elections.

These attacks are not happening by chance.  It is an organized effort and it needs to be stopped.  Silence isn't going to stop it.  Playing footsie with that Mother Tucker Carlson -- the way Glenn Greenwald does -- is not an answer.  This nonsense needs to be called out and called out loudly.  

Jesse Thomas (WSWS) reports:

A video showing New York City (NYPD) policemen holding the metro transit fare gates open for several members of the Proud Boys has surfaced on social media, garnering millions of views in the 48-hour period since its posting.

The individual filming the video can be heard questioning the officers’ actions in disbelief, demanding to know if the militia members were being allowed to evade the subway fare by the police.

The video was posted on TikTok on Sunday, and by Tuesday evening it had upwards of a third of a million individual user “likes,” 18,000 comments and 13,000 “shares.” A reposting of the video on Twitter showed 3.4 million more views, along with 13.9 million views of the thread to which it had been attached.

In an example of popular disgust with the collaboration between the police and the political far-right, one commenter wrote, “I’ve literally seen the NYPD chase people [for] fair evasion, this is insane.” Another user added, “cops let their own in.”

The video was filmed after the Proud Boys, along with the ultra-religious, anti-vaccine, anti-LGBTQ Guardians of Divinity, threatened a Drag Queen Story Hour (DSH) event at the Queens Public Library in Jackson Heights on December 29.

Between the two extreme-right organizations, over two dozen members were present at the event, while about 150 counter-demonstrators showed up in protest against the far-right provocateurs. Guardians of Divinity members and Proud Boys hurled slanderous epithets and attempted to intimidate supporters of the event.

NYPD made a choice and that choice needs to be investigated and called out.  Silence is not the answer in these attacks, looking the other way is not a solution.  Ibtisam Mara'ana (HAARETZ) notes:


Two days ago, while in Abed’s supermarket in Jaffa, I noticed the tahini shelf was full of Al Arz Tahini. The brand is owned by Julia Zaher, who joined in aiding The Aguda – The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel and promised to fund the LGBT hotline for Arabs. Her support, both on the ideological and financial levels, stirred up a storm. Calls were heard to boycott the company’s products, and supermarket owners in Arab communities removed the products from their shelves.

The storm spread to all of Israeli society and for a few days the tahini was one of the hottest and most talked about topics in the country. The support from the liberal Jewish Israeli community on behalf of the Arab community was amazing and heartwarming. People specifically bought Al Arz Tahini to support and express solidarity with the Arab LGBT community, in support of equality and against silencing people.

The tahini controversy penetrated almost every Arab home in Israel. The company did not lose money and did not go out of business. Zaher did receive threats and shocking responses, but in the end everyone was still alive, the tahini was still on the shelves as a fact on the ground, and the same goes for the LGBT community.

Recently and to my great regret, the efforts that succeeded in forming a new government of incitement and hatred against the LGBT community, Arabs and other minorities require us to take a very brave step and create a civil political coalition for full equality for everyone, men and women. It is impossible to demand civil equality for the Arab community without demanding equality for the LGBT community and other minority groups that live among us, like refugees and those without residency status. Impossible, period.

These issues are interrelated and we can take them on working together.  We do nothing by staying silent or pretending that Mother Tucker is just joking and really a good guy because he brings on Glenn Greenwald and Jimmy Dore -- who never call out his homophobia and spend forever defending him.  They're choosing sides and it's not being on the side of the people.

The people in Iraq are protesting.  Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) reports:

Hundreds of recently graduated teachers who have been working without receiving payments for years gathered in Kirkuk on Wednesday to protest their lack of contractual employment, calling on the Iraqi government to address their concerns. 

Iraq’s Education Minister Ibrahim Namis al-Jubouri announced on Tuesday that the council of ministers has agreed to include teachers of the graduating class of 2020 in the 2023 budget, granting them employment by contract. The decision does not include graduates from any other year, many of whom have been teaching free of charge and without contracts for years.

“We teach at schools without any privileges… Yesterday evening, a decision was issued to employ graduates of 2020, we are graduates of 2019, 2021, 2022 and we are still waiting… We have been teaching for free for two years,” one of the protesters told Rudaw’s Hiwa Hussamadin.

Most graduates resort to teaching for free hoping it would lead to full-time employment.

This takes place as Iraq sees record income from oil.  John Lee (OZ ARAB MEDIA) notes:

The Iraqi Minister of Oil, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, has announced revenues of more than $115 billion from exporting crude oil for the year 2022.

More than 1,209 billion barrels of crude oil were exported, giving a daily export rate is approximately 3.320 million barrels per day (bpd).

ARABIAN BUSINESS notes, "This is a four-year high following a collapse in prices during the Covid-19 pandemic."  But it means nothing for the Iraqi people because the US-installed government in Iraq has never attempted to better the lives of the Iraqi people.  Nouri al-Maliki and his family got rich after the 2003 invasion, it was the Iraqi people who struggled.  Jobs are nowhere to be found and politicians and officials steal the public monies.  There's no investment in infrastructure.  There's no investment in the people.  That's what The October Revolution was protesting against: corruption that destroyed not just the chances of the young people but the entire country.  Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world as ranked by Transperency International.  RUDAW notes:

At least five people were wounded in Kirkuk on Monday as police applied force to disperse hundreds of angry demonstrators who protested the lack of employment by the North Oil Company (NOC) and tried to storm its headquarters.

A total of 1350 college graduates received a six-month-long training course by the state-run NOC four years ago, but have not yet been employed. Of this number, Over 450 of them staged an angry protest on Monday.

A protester told Rudaw that Baghdad already consented to employ 458 of the trained graduates, but they were not true to their words and that they employed other people instead of them.

$115 billion from oil last year and they still can't provide job opportunites.  It's the result of the corruption that is now embedded in the government the US installed, created and formented.  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT notes:

The Federal Supreme Court in Iraq recognized the lack of real will of the political class to combat corruption. This came in the wake of the Iraqi National Security Agency announcing that it had uncovered the largest crude oil smuggling network.  

“Iraqis have lost their confidence in public offices due to widespread financial and administrative corruption among employees at a time when the administrative system in Iraq was one of the most prominent systems in the Middle East,” said head of the Federal Supreme Court Judge Jassim Mohammed Abboud.  

While the parties behind the oil smuggling network remain unknown, defendants accused of embezzling $2.5 billion from a government taxpayer account are still at large. Nour Zuhair, the only defendant arrested in the case, was released on bail with authorities hoping to recover stolen funds.  

As for Abboud, he told the Iraqi News Agency (INA), that corruption in Iraq is divided into two types. 

“Petty corruption is what is committed by junior employees, and this leads to the Iraqi citizen losing confidence in the public office,” he said. 

“Grand corruption is what is committed by senior officials or by some political parties. This corruption is what impedes the building of the state,” he explained.  

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Graham Elwood, White House visitor Sam Bankman-Fried

Graham Elwood.

I'd honestly forgotten to check for anything new after over a week of nothing new.  That happens.  But there's some new stuff up now so be sure to check out Graham's YOUTUBE channel.

Other news?

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried held several meetings with high-ranking White House officials earlier this year, prior to the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange.

These meetings were part of an effort to influence cryptocurrency policy and establish connections in Washington before the collapse of Bankman-Fried's FTX empire, Bloomberg reports. 

According to White House officials cited in the report, Bankman-Fried met with Steve Ricchetti, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, on Sept. 8, 2022.

This meeting was not previously disclosed and was one of several sessions that took place over the course of the year.

These meetings were part of an effort to influence cryptocurrency policy and establish connections in Washington before the collapse of Bankman-Fried's FTX empire, Bloomberg reports. 

According to White House officials cited in the report, Bankman-Fried met with Steve Ricchetti, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, on Sept. 8, 2022.

This meeting was not previously disclosed and was one of several sessions that took place over the course of the year.

Well that doesn't sound very good, does it?  How much corruption is old man Joe pulling off right now?

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Wednesday, January 4, 2023.  That Mother Tucker Carlson pretends he didn't cheer on the Iraq War, there is talk that Julian Assange might be set free in the next two months, corruption is destroying Iraq, and much more.

MEDIA MATTERS notes that Mother Tucker Carlson has a new homophobic roll dog -- don't cry Glenn Greenwald, I'm sure Mother Tucker still loves you best.  His name is Charlie Kirk and Charlie doesn't like drag queens -- so why did he marry a woman who looks like one?  At any rate, Mother Tucker and wee little Charlie got together and stupidity ensued:

CHARLIE KIRK: (HOST): The same people that wanted to bomb Baghdad now want to blitzkrieg a female's body to change their nature from female to male.


KIRK: It's the same thing. We are going to impose our will on what is to what we think ought to be. 

CARLSON: One hundred percent. We're in charge of nature. 

Mother Tucker was giggling, was he?

Of course.  It's all a game to him and stupid Charlie Kirk doesn't seem to grasp that the people wanting to bomb Baghdad?  Mother Tucker's on that list.  He was on CNN then and he was all on board with pimping the Iraq War.  See wee Charlie, you were only ten then but you're an adult now and you're required to do some learning before opening your stupid mouth.

The ones who wanted to bomb Iraq are pretty much the same ones attacking the LGBTQ+ community today.  It's a fact.


Turning to Iraq where corruption is impacting the cost of housing.  FORBES provides the following video report.

And AFP notes:

Iraqi telecommunications worker Youssef Ahmed is married with a five-year-old son, but lives with his parents because he is unable to afford his own home amid soaring property prices. "Even if your income increases, it will never be up to the exorbitant prices of houses or land", said 29-year-old Ahmed, who earns a "comfortable" monthly salary of $1,000, double the national average.
 Real estate in Iraq has become a popular way to launder money, including stolen public funds Real estate in Iraq has become a popular way to launder money, including stolen public funds. 
 Compounded by housing planning failures and an increasing demand, it has pushed prices in the capital Baghdad rapidly out of reach for many ordinary Iraqis.  

AL-MONITOR's Shelly Kittleson Tweets:

It shouldn't be that way.  Iraq is oil rich.  There should be more than enough to go around.  John Lee (OZ ARAB MEDIA) notes:

The Iraqi Minister of Oil, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, has announced revenues of more than $115 billion from exporting crude oil for the year 2022.

More than 1,209 billion barrels of crude oil were exported, giving a daily export rate is approximately 3.320 million barrels per day (bpd).

ARABIAN BUSINESS notes, "This is a four-year high following a collapse in prices during the Covid-19 pandemic."  But it means nothing for the Iraqi people because the US-installed government in Iraq has never attempted to better the lives of the Iraqi people.  Nouri al-Maliki and his family got rich after the 2003 invasion, it was the Iraqi people who struggled.  Jobs are nowhere to be found and politicians and officials steal the public monies.  There's no investment in infrastructure.  There's no investment in the people.  That's what The October Revolution was protesting against: corruption that destroyed not just the chances of the young people but the entire country.  Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world as ranked by Transperency International.  

Ismaeel Naar (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Iraq's anti-corruption agency said it has recovered another $2.6 million fraudulently withdrawn from a government bank account.

But this is just a fraction of the $2.5 billion allegedly stolen from a number of state enterprises in a series of cheque transactions over the past two years.

The scandal has led to outrage in the country where many Iraqis live in poverty amid widespread corruption.

Judge Haider Hanoun, who heads the Federal Authority of Integrity, said that the suspect in this recovery is alleged to have stolen more than $11 million.

“The money that was recovered today amounted to 4 billion Iraqi dinars ($2.6 million), which is part of a total of more than 17 billion ($11 million),” Judge Hanoun, who heads the Federal Authority of Integrity, said on Tuesday.

US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian and, for those who've forgotten, Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat

The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.

The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”.

But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.

Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press.

Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution.

At SCHEER POST, Kevin Gosztola writes:

As the new year began, ABC Global Affairs Editor John Lyons stated during a broadcast segment that he expected WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be released “within the next two months or so.”

“I know [Australia Prime Minister] Anthony Albanese. He’s working strongly behind the scenes,” Lyons added. “He has said as much, but enough is enough.”

Lyons is sympathetic to Assange’s plight, making him one of the few correspondents in the world working for establishment news media who is willing to endorse calls to end the United States case against him.

But the key question is whether Lyons knows about some shift in the so-called “quiet diplomacy” between the US and Australia that may result in Assange being released from Belmarsh prison and returned home to Australia.

Karl Dickey writes:

But the U.S. government seems to disagree. They've been gunning for Assange since the Obama years, and now they've finally got him in their sights. They're trying to extradite him and throw him in prison for the rest of his life. And all because he dared to tell the truth.

This is an outrage, friends. The First Amendment is the cornerstone of our constitutional republic, and prosecuting Assange for doing his job as a journalist would set a dangerous precedent that could have far-reaching implications for press freedom. It's time for the U.S. government to drop the charges against Julian Assange and let him go free.

But before we dive too deep into the topic at hand, let's take a step back and get some context. Who is Julian Assange, exactly, and what is WikiLeaks all about?

Well, Julian Assange is an Australian journalist and computer programmer who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. From the beginning, the organization has been focused on publishing classified, secret, and otherwise restricted information from governments and other powerful institutions. WikiLeaks has made a name for itself by releasing everything from diplomatic cables to military reports to emails from high-ranking officials. They've even published leaked audio recordings and video footage. In short, WikiLeaks is all about shining a light on the things that powerful people don't want the public to see.

But it's not just about exposing wrongdoing. WikiLeaks has always maintained that its goal is to bring about transparency and accountability in government and other institutions. They believe that by publishing this information, they can help to create a more informed and engaged citizenry, which is essential for a healthy democracy.

So how does WikiLeaks go about getting this information? Well, they use a variety of methods. Sometimes they receive leaked documents directly from whistleblowers who are fed up with the status quo. Other times they use sophisticated hacking techniques to access restricted information. But no matter how they get the information, their goal is always the same: to publish it and let the public decide for themselves what to make of it.

That's the background, friends. Now let's get back to the main topic: the U.S. government's attempt to silence Julian Assange and his work with WikiLeaks. First and foremost, the revelations by Assange about our U.S. Government never put anyone in harm’s way and certainly did not kill any of our people; no, what really happened was our government was embarrassed by what Wikileaks revealed about what our government was doing with other government leaders around the globe (more on that later).

So, what's all this got to do with the First Amendment, you might be wondering? Well, everything, my friends. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is all about protecting freedom of expression, and that includes freedom of the press. It's why we're able to sit here and have this little chat without the government coming down on us like a ton of bricks. And it's why Julian Assange should be protected, too.

The followng sites updated: