Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The fakery

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Grinch Who Stole The Stimulus and Christmas" went up Christmas Day. 


Nancy Pelosi is disgusting and her retirement (rumored to be in two years) cannot come soon enough.  She is a failure in every way and you'd think she'd latch on to Medicare For All because if she actually helped get that passed, it would be an accomplishment that she could point to with pride.  It would be historic.

But we live instead in a world that celebrates fakery.  That's why Michael Cohen can be found on MSNBC.  This is from Jonathan Turley:

Michael Cohen is now a prisoner rights advocate.  As someone who has run a prisoner project for decades, it came as something of a surprise to me but Cohen is now a reformer . . . just ask Tony Meatballs.  The reference came up in an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber in which Cohen explained that he only filed for early release under the First Step Act (Trump’s much touted criminal justice reform bill) because he promised “my buddies Tony Meatballs and Big Minty, that I wasn’t going to stop once I got out” in seeking to reform our prisons.  You see, it is really not for Mike Cohen. It is for Tony Meatballs.

For full disclosure, I have been a critic of Cohen long before he broke with the President.  His conduct as an attorney was a disgrace to the bar for years. Cohen has been gaming the system his entire career. He claimed urgent medical needs for release from prison. Of course, he previously claimed health problems in failing to appear to testify only to be spotted out on the town for a fancy dinner. Cohen previously (and implausibly) reinvented himself as a redemptive sinner and received financial support from Trump critics.

Now he is repackaging himself as a prison reformer. It is only a coincidence that his prison reforms benefit . . . Michael Cohen.

It continues to be impressive how Cohen was able to be immediately rehabilitate himself with the media by turning against Trump. Like John Bolton (who was persona non grata until he became a Trump foe), Cohen went from Trump thug to truth teller with a single flip. While MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell (and recently Jake Tapper) have pledged not to interview Trump figures because they are liars, Cohen and other former Trump associates remain popular guests despite histories of lies and fraud.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to nine counts including tax evasion and fraud and was sentenced to three years in federal prison. He served time at Otisville Correctional Facility in upstate New York — considered one of the most accommodating federal facilities.

Now he's 'reformed' -- at least to the media.  He's still a fake and a con.  Sadly, so is a new film allgedly promoting feminism.

"TV: WONDER WOMAN 1984 is an awful film" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):

It's a dull, soggy mess and one that lets Max walk away free despite the fact that he nearly brought the world to an end and has left numerous people injured.  No one dies in the film, insists Patty Jenkins: 



"Nobody dies. No one dies in the whole movie. It's so exciting to not kill people. That's my message."

Well enthusiasm dies, that's for sure.  Equally true, Cheetah may die (Patty claims it's "ambiguous" as to Cheetah's fate).  Cheetah is Kristen Wiig's character.  She starts out as Barbara, a new co-worker with Diana.  She ends up a nightmare.  We're talking visually.  We think Wiig has wasted every chance she's been given since BRIDESMAIDS so we were surprised to find her giving a strong performance in this film.  But she does.  She's appealing and holds your attention.  Until the big battle scene where she looks like something out of CATS.  It has to be the worst CGI since I AM LEGEND and 2003's THE HULK combined.  

It didn't have to be that way.  Wiig had made Barbara a believable character -- so much so that we overlooked that this was yet another rip-off of Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman origin from BATMAN RETURNS -- an origin story that they've been ripping off since Riddler in BATMAN FOREVER.  But Wiig made it fresh.  And, in a White House battle scene with Diana, she held her own.  She used her wish from Max to become as powerful as Diana.  Now she gets to have a second wish for saving Max and she wants to be a predator.  She could have been that in a cat costume.  She didn't have to become part animal.  But that's the Patty Jenkins way, whenever something does work, mess with it so it doesn't.

Cheetah and Wonder Woman?  It's the big battle in the movie.  


Cheetah's a secondary character in this film and she's defeated as Max is about to destroy the world.  She's a diversion to the plot -- can you imagine a director doing that with the Joker?  We can't either.  It's an insult to all the character stood for -- a character who's been around since 1943.  

Equally true, she's the only other woman -- who's not an Amazon -- who gets more than ten lines of dialogue in the film besides Gal.  Why is that?  There are so many speaking parts for male actors and so many male characters -- even two homeless men who have more dialogue than the other women in the film.  How is this a feminist film?  How is this even a film by a feminist?

Well it's not.  It's a film that director Patty wrote with two men.

Really?  That's what we're going to get?  We scream and yell  for women to have the chance to direct and they choose to do a superhero movie about a woman and they choose to hire two men to help them write the script?  One of the men who came to Hollywood as a result of his reading of PENTHOUSE?

This isn't feminism.

And when you watch the sloppy and stupid WONDER WOMAN 1984, you grasp that it's not feminism either.

It really is a bad movie.  It feels like a TV movie.  They're very lucky the film got released on HBO MAX and didn't have to just depend upon ticket sales.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Tuesday, December 29, 2020.  Iraq comes in second as deadliest place to be a journalist in 2020 per Reporters Without Borders, Jake Sullivan gets slapped on social media, and much more.

As the year winds down, Reporters Without Borders looks back at 2020OPB notes, "More journalists are being killed outside of war zones, and the overwhelming majority of this year’s grim total of at least 50 dead were deliberately targeted, many of them murdered while investigating organized crime, corruption and environmental degradation, Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday."  Rayhan Uddin (MIDDLE EAST EYE) points out, "Iraq was the world’s second deadliest country for journalists in 2020, according to an annual report published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday. " ALJAZEERA offers this context, "The total number of journalists killed in 2020 was slightly lower than the 53 reported in 2019, although RSF said fewer journalists worked in the field this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic."

On Iraq, Reporters Without Borders notes:

Iraqi journalists risk their lives when they cover protests or investigate corruption, and the dangers have grown since the start of an unprecedented wave of anti-government protests in October 2019. Journalists who dare to report the demands of the protesters are liable to be harassed, abducted, physically attacked or even killed by unidentified militias. The threats come from all quarters and are designed to deter them from investigating or publishing the fruits of their research. Coverage of political or religious figures still regarded as untouchable can lead to prosecution or to media bans for disrespecting “national or religious symbols.” Murders of journalists go unpunished because they are not investigated or, if there is an investigation, it goes nowhere, relatives say. 

The state’s powerlessness increases the dangers and makes it impossible to determine whether what the many militias are doing suits the government, whether the government has given them the go-ahead, or whether it has no control over the situation. The authorities have, however, banned live reporting from the protests, disconnected the Internet and, in a decision by the Media Regulation Commission, banned ten media outlets from covering the protests. Journalists are also worried by a proposed cyber-crime law providing for prison sentences (including life imprisonment) for online posts that endanger “the independence, unity or integrity of the country, or its economic, political, military or security interests.” The vagueness of this wording is alarming and liable to discourage the emergence of a truly free and independent press.

On RWB's World Press Freedom Index, Iraq comes in at 162.  And they note, "In Iraq, three journalists were killed in exactly the same way: by a shot to the head fired by unidentified gunmen while they were covering protests. A fourth was killed in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region while trying to flee from clashes between security forces and demonstrators."  Khazan Jangiz (RUDAW) identifies the six journalists killed (if you're a media assistant or whatever we count you as a journalist here and have since the site started):

Two of the journalists were killed in Basra. Prominent Iraqi journalist Ahmed Abdul Samad and his cameraman Safaa al-Ghali were shot dead by unknown gunmen in their car while covering Iraq’s ongoing protests for Dijlah TV in January.

Yussef Sattar, a journalist and activist, was killed during protests in Baghdad, also in January.

Hunar Rasool, a Kurdish journalist for Gali Kurdistan TV died from injuries in Ranya, Sulaimani province on August 12 after he tried to escape clashes between protesters and security forces.

Two “media assistants” – Nizar Thanoun and Husham al-Hashimi – were shot dead in Baghdad by unidentified assailants in Baghdad in 2020, RSF said.

From the Committee to Protect Journalists, we'll note another 2020 murder that's Iraq related:

In a case of direct and public killing of a journalist by a government, on December 12 Iran executed journalist Roohollah Zam by hanging after sentencing him to death. Zam’s website and Telegram channel, Amad News—which he ran from exile—had reported critically on Iranian officials and shared the timings and locations of protests in 2017; Telegram shut down the channel in late 2017, but the account later reemerged under a different name. CPJ classifies Zam’s killing as a murder, based on methodology that defines murder as the targeted killing of a journalist in direct reprisal for their work. Iranian intelligence agents detained Zam in Iraq in October 2019 and took him to Iran, according to CPJ research; authorities aired a video of him apologizing on a state television. He was convicted and sentenced to death in June on 17 charges including espionage, spreading false news abroad, and insulting Islamic values and the supreme leader; the sentence was confirmed on December 8. In announcing his execution, Iranian state media referred to Zam as “the leader of the riots,” referring to protests in the country in 2017, according to The Associated Press.

ALSUMARIA covers the Reporters Without Borders story on the number of journalists killed but it also notes CPJ's report on the number of journalists jailed.  From that CPJ report:

A record number of journalists were imprisoned globally for their work in 2020 as authoritarian nations arrested many covering COVID-19 or political instability. Amid the pandemic, governments delayed trials, restricted visitors, and disregarded the increased health risk in prison; at least two journalists died after contracting the disease in custody.

In its annual global survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists found at least 274 journalists in jail in relation to their work on December 1, 2020, exceeding the high of 272 in 2016. China, which arrested several journalists for their coverage of the pandemic, was the world’s worst jailer for the second year in a row. It was followed by Turkey, which continues to try journalists free on parole and arrest new ones; Egypt, which went to great lengths to keep custody of journalists not convicted of any crime; and Saudi Arabia. Countries where the number of jailed journalists rose significantly include Belarus, where mass protests have ensued over the disputed re-election of the long-time president, and Ethiopia, where political unrest has degenerated into armed conflict.

This marks the fifth consecutive year that repressive governments have imprisoned at least 250 journalists. Lack of global leadership on democratic values – particularly from the United States, where President Donald Trump has inexhaustibly denigrated the press and cozied up to dictators such as Egyptian President Abdelfattah el-Sisi – has perpetuated the crisis. As authoritarians leveraged Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric to justify their actions – particularly in Egypt – the number of journalists jailed on “false news” charges steadily increased. This year, 34 journalists were jailed for “false news,” compared with 31 last year.

Within the United States, no journalists were jailed at the time of CPJ’s prison census, but an unprecedented 110 journalists were arrested or criminally charged in 2020 and around 300 were assaulted, the majority by law enforcement, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. At least 12 still face criminal charges, some of which carry jail terms. Observers told CPJ that the polarized political climate, militarized law enforcement, and vitriol toward the media combined during a wave of protests to eradicate norms that once afforded journalists police protection.  

CPJ has published recommendations to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden for restoring U.S. press freedom leadership globally, which include ensuring accountability for the domestic attacks on journalists as well as instructing diplomats abroad to attend trials of journalists and speak out in support of independent media. CPJ found the lack of trust in media in the U.S. to be particularly dangerous during the global pandemic.

CPJ lists these three Iraqi journalists as currently jailed:

Guhdar ZebariWllat NewsOctober 22, 2020Iraq
Omed Haje BaroshkyFreelanceSeptember 13, 2020Iraq
Sherwan Amin SherwaniFreelanceOctober 7, 2020Iraq

In related news, NRT reports a crackdown on freedom of expression in the KRG:

The Peace and Freedom Organization (PFO) said on Sunday (December 27) that there were at least 207 major instances in the Kurdistan Region where freedom of the press and expression were violated during 2020, a shocking 133 percent increase compared with 87 the previous year.

The violations included preventing protests, detaining journalists and activists, closing media outlets and offices, and killing protesters, the local watchdog said in its annual report.

Head of the PFO Sangar Yousif told a press conference for the report’s release that the numbers in some categories are certainly higher because the organization largely dealt with collective cases, rather than individual violations. For instance, if a reporting team with several journalists was prevented from covering an event, it was counted as one violation.

According to the 2020 report, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) or groups associated with the Region’s parties prevented 79 protests, killed nine protesters, closed six media outlets or offices, arrested 64 journalists and activists, prevented journalists from covering a news event 30 times, physically attacked journalists eleven times, and prevented the work of organizations three times.

Jake Sullivan is Joe Biden's nominee for National Security Advisor and, when Joe Biden was Vice President, Jake was Joe's National Security Advisor.  That meant, since Joe was tasked by Barack Obama with Iraq, Jake should be something of an expert on Iraq.  His ability to do any job was called into question when Jake took to social media and tried to preen and posture on the topic with a Tweet:

Saudi Arabia’s sentencing of Loujain al-Hathloul for simply exercising her universal rights is unjust and troubling. As we have said, the Biden-Harris administration will stand up against human rights violations wherever they occur.

He was quickly put in check by MBS 2030:

You know who killed this journalist in Iraq

If the video doesn't show above, click here.  The assailants are captured on camera but no arrests.  Jake Sullivan thought he could preen and posture and he got slapped in the face with the reality that, in Iraq, you can murder a journalist, get caught doing so on camera and still get away with it.

Idiots like Jake Sullivan are embarrassments and should think before they Tweet.  In Iraq, no one ever solves the murder of a journalist.  Doubt me?  From the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization:

Huner RasoolMale12/08/2020Iraqi/KurdishNew requestLink
Nizar ThanounMale11/02/2020IraqiNew requestLink
Ahmed Abdul SamadMale10/01/2020IraqiNew requestLink
Safaa GhaliMale10/01/2020IraqiNew requestLink
Ahmed Muhana al-LamiMale06/12/2019IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Samir Ali Hussein ShgaraMale10/01/2019IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Arkan SharifiMale30/10/2017IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Harb Hazaa al-DulaimiMale07/07/2017IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Soudad al-DouriMale07/07/2017IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Véronique RobertFemale24/06/2017French/SwissNo Information Received So FarLinkLink
Bakhtyar HaddadMale19/06/2017IraqiNo Information Received So FarLinkLink
Stephan VilleneuveMale19/06/2017FrenchNo Information Received So FarLinkLink
Souhaib Al-HitiMale30/05/2017IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Shifa Zikri Ibrahim (aka Shifa Gardi)Female25/02/2017IraqiNo Information Received So FarLinkLink
Mohammed Thabet al-ObeidiMale06/12/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Ali ResanMale22/10/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Ahmet HaceroğluMale21/10/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Ali GhaniMale20/08/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Mustafa SaeedMale14/08/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Widad Hussein AliMale13/08/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Ali MahmudMale13/07/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Hassan al-AnbakiMale12/01/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Saif TalalMale12/01/2016IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Yahya Abd HamadMale12/09/2015IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Yahya al-KhatibMale16/08/2015IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Ghazi Al-ObeidiMale05/08/2015IraqiNo Information Received So FarLinkLink
Jalaa Al-AbadiMale15/07/2015IraqiNo Information Received So FarLinkLink
Suahaa Ahmed RadhiFemale01/07/2015IraqiNo Information Received So FarLinkLink
Majed Al Rabi’i (aka Majid Al Rabi'i)Male06/05/2015IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink
Raed Al-JuburiMale05/05/2015IraqiOngoing/UnresolvedLinkLink

And if those names overwhelm you, take a minute to grasp that the list above is from one out of seven pages listing murdered Iraqi journalists since 2003, one out of seven pages.  Yeah, Jake Sullivan needs to stop preening.

Staying with the topic of violence . . .

MNA states:

According to the Iraqi sources on Tuesday two US convoys were targeted in the southern provinces of Iraq.

A convoy was targeted in Al-Diwaniyah province in the south of Iraq, Sabrin News reported.

Al-Sumaria news also reported that the convoy was affiliated with the international coalition and was targeted on the Al-Diwaniyah international Road.

The Shafaq News quoted a security source as saying that a bomb had exploded in the path of the convoy, damaging one of the vehicles.

Minutes after the news was reported, Saberin News announced that another US convoy had been targeted in the city of Samawah in Muthanna Province.

Still on violence, NRT reports:

 One person was killed and another was injured in Diyala governorate when an unidentified armed group attacked Um Hunta village in northern Jalawla sub-district on Tuesday evening (December 29).

NRT reporter Garmian Hama Pur said that the security forces blamed Islamic State remnants for the attack.

Still on deaths, ANADOLU AGENCY reports:                            

A leader in Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement was shot dead in southern Iraq on Tuesday, according to an Iraqi police officer.

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on Rami al-Shabani in al-Diwaniyah city, killing him instantly, police captain Jamal al-Din al-Sudairy told Anadolu Agency.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assassination.

Baxtiyar Goran Tweets:

A senior member/commander of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam assassinated in Diwaniya province. The assassination coincides with an IED attack on US-led coalition logistics convoy by a militia cell affiliated with Sadr in the province a day earlier —
. #Iraq

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