Saturday, January 02, 2021

Yeah, I'm disappointed

 "Elaine," a reader writes, "you just don't seem in to your site."

You think?  

I didn't sign up for a blog that would last years.  This site started in September of 2005 -- right after I finished filling in for Rebecca -- who took a break because, among other things, a crazy friend of Bob Somerby's got obsessed with her and wouldn't leave her alone.

I though I'd do my part and it would take a few years and that was it.

Boy, was I stupid.  Not as stupid as C.I.  And before anyone e-mails, C.I. is right next to me, I'm reading to her as I type and she's laughing.  But she agrees, she was stupid.

We saw the whoring before.  We saw people pretend to be against the Vietnam War and talk about a new future and then just whore, just whore for the Democratic Party, refuse to fight and just try to set their own end up.  So when they were begging this go round, I just walked on by.  C.I. gave -- like crazy -- to PACIFICA, to THE NATION, to everyone.

They all walked away from Iraq.  Did you notice that?  As soon as Barack won the 2008 election, they walked away.  It was no longer important for them to demand US forces leave Iraq, for example.  Did you notice that US forces are still in Iraq?

They whored and they lied.  They took your money and took you for a ride.  That's exactly what they did when they begged during Vietnam.  They're whores.

If someone is real?  They go out of their way to slime and attack them.  Which is why fake ass Noam Chomsky is held up as an example and a hero while they ignore Michael Parenti who is a real voice of truth.  They destroyed real voices of truth.  They attacked the Christic Institute, for example.  That's what they do, they are gate keepers who limit our understanding of what is possible and try to get us to eat whatever s**t sandwich the Democratic Party's offering.

I was stupid enough to think that with so many people against the Iraq War from the start -- it took years for that kind of opposition to build against the Vietnam War -- that the whorish press -- THE PROGRESSIVE, THE NATION, DEMOCRACY NOW, etc -- would be able to keep it together for a few years and hold the government's feet to the fire.  Nope.  They were too eager to whore.  So in 2009, they pretended the Iraq War was over.  Now?  When Amy Goodman bothers to 'cover' Iraq, it's nothing new, it's something ancient that happened when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  

So I'm disappointed that the war continues and that 'our' whorish press gives it a pass.  

One more thing, year in review.  Rebecca did her annual pick of the hottest men "sexiest men of 2020" and I called Sunny to wish her a happy new year and she asked who was the hottest in my opinion?  I'd probably say Armie Hammer but that French guy, Matthiew Charneau, was pretty nice as well.  Sunny's pick is Ruben Loftis-Cheek.  

Ann's "2020 in films" and Stan's "2020 in films" (joint-post) covered films and also check out C.I., Ruth, Kat and Martha & Shirley:

  • 2020: The Year Long Walk Of Shame
  • Ruth's Streaming Report
  • 2020 in music
  • 2020 in Books (Martha & Shirley)

  • ''Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

    Thursday, December 31, 2020. The last snapshot for 2020.

    On the last real news day in the US prior to January 3rd, the media slowly wakes up to a potential attack in Iraq.  ANI reports, "Amid concerns of possible Iranian retaliation, the U.S. on Wednesday flew a pair of B-52H over the Persian Gulf, according to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)."

    Last news day?  Friday is the first day of 2021 and that's a 'slow' news day in the US with many people on vacation.  Saturday and Sunday are weekend days and Sunday is the 3rd.  Will there be violence?  I hope not but the US government is worried and it's a damn shame that what passes for a media in the US couldn't have spent time explaining that.

    Here's the statement from CENTCOM:

    Release # 20201230-02


    U.S. Air Force B-52H "Stratofortress" aircrews from the Minot Air Force Base, N.D.-headquartered 5th Bomb Wing made a deliberate appearance in the Middle East today to underscore the U.S. military's commitment to regional security and demonstrate a unique ability to rapidly deploy overwhelming combat power on short notice.

    The two-ship deployment also delivers a clear deterrent message to anyone who intends to do harm to Americans or American interests.

    "The United States continues to deploy combat-ready capabilities into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to deter any potential adversary, and make clear that we are ready and able to respond to any aggression directed at Americans or our interests," said Gen. Frank McKenzie, Commander, U.S. Central Command. "We do not seek conflict, but no one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack."

    The United States continues to work closely with allies and partner to advance regional security and stability.

    This mission is the third bomber deployment into CENTCOM's area of operation in the last 45 days.

    They also released the following video.

    Robert F. Burns (AP) notes, "One senior U.S. military officer said the flight by two Air Force B-52 bombers was in response to signals that Iran may be planning attacks against U.S. allied targets in neighboring Iraq or elsewhere in the region in coming days, even as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office."  If you're late to the party, AFP explains, "One year after US forces assassinated Iran's most storied commander, tensions are boiling between Iraq's Washington-backed premier and pro-Tehran forces that accuse him of complicity in the Baghdad drone strike."  Dan Lamothe (WASHINGTON POST via BOSTON GLOBE) words it this way, "The US military is bracing for a possible attack on American personnel and interests in Iraq, US defense officials said, days before the first anniversary of an American drone strike that killed an Iranian general in Baghdad."

    The murder of Gen Qasem Solemani revealed just how hollow the US peace movement is as various voices disappointed lamenting the death of the terrorist.  Joan Baez, when she still had ethics, upset a lot of people by defending the Boat People and calling out the Vietnamese government but that was the right thing to do.  Jane Fonda's reaction was a knee-jerk reaction -- to call them refugees names and rush to minimize the actions of the Vietnamese government and attempt to justify what took place.  There was no justification.  

    At the start of the year, the reviled Donald Trump ordered the murder of terrorist Soelmani and you could have called out murder, you could have called out many things.  But the knee jerk reaction was to rush to defend the terrorist, to call him a poet, and a person of peace and a hundred other bits of garbage that only Americans who never paid attention to Iraq could have uttered.  He was a terrorist.  The Sunnis were terrorized by him, Iraq's LGBQT community was terrorized by him, his actions go back to the original targeting of Iraq's intellectual community (doctors, professors, etc) following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.  Not surprising because this is the man who, in Iran, advocated for taking out (for killing) the leaders of the 1999 student uprising in Iran.  He was a man with blood on his hands.

    That doesn't mean you couldn't be dismayed by his murder.  It does mean you didn't act like he farted rainbows and burped unicorns -- but that's what so many on the left in the US did.  It's because we're so damn stupid.   

    Qasem Soelmani was a man of violence so it's not a surprise he met a violent end.  He was a brutal thug and there's no need to pretend otherwise -- unless your goal is to flaunt your stupidity.  

    Americans then tried to portray a Baghdad funeral procession as the Iraq position.  It wasn't even the Shi'ite position, let alone the position of all of Iraq.  Again, your stupidity was showing.  Iraq and Iran are neighbors, they are also frequently at odds.  And the majority of Iraqis are very clear that they don't want to become an Iranian proxy (or a US proxy).  They weren't thrilled that an Iranian general was in the country directing militias.

    This was ignored.

    It was very disappointing to watch as various people -- including Margaret Kimberley -- turn this man into a noble person and realize that they could comment on events in Iraq it's just that they had chosen, for months and months, to ignore the protests that started in October of 2019 and that were continuing (and still continue).  Their Tweets and other b.s. went to everything that's wrong in the United States.

    You had a mass movement of Iraqi youth taking to the streets but you couldn't tell that story.  You needed a celebrity and you needed to play with 'the rugged individual' because that's your limited mind functions.  A large group of Iraqi students taking to the streets was too much for you to cover.  But an individual killed and suddenly you were all experts and all concerned and all wanting to use your power -- such as it was.  The failures of the US media are ingrained in the failure of the US to develop beyond restrictive narratives that they trot out century after century in their attempts at conversations.  One has to believe even cave dwellers were better at communication.

    MIDDLE EAST EYE notes, "The United States announced on Wednesday that it sent Iraq's army 30 armoured vehicles to secure Baghdad's Green Zone, ahead of the anniversary of the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis."

    Again, I hope there is no attack.  But this is a news story.  CNN offers, "Yet others in the Pentagon contend that the threat is being exaggerated, with the first senior defense official -- who is directly involved in discussions -- telling CNN that there is 'not a single piece of corroborating intel' suggesting an attack by Iran may be imminent."  I hope the unnamed official is correct.  I hope s/he's not playing word games -- I don't think anyone believes Iran's going to do anything themselves.  I think the fear is they'll use Iranian linked militias in Iraq to carry out an attack.  The wording offered to CNN makes it appear someone may be playing word games.

    A new development on that year ago murder, MEMO reports, "Iranian Prosecutor Ali Al-Qasi Mehr has accused the British company G4S of providing the US armed forces in Iraq with the arrival details of the aircraft in which General Qasem Soleimani was travelling prior to his assassination by an American drone. G4S is responsible for aviation security at Baghdad International Airport, where the attack which killed Soleimani took place."

    On the militias, Murat Sofuoglu (TRT) offers:

    With the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Washington unexpectedly helped Iran play its political game better, removing one of Tehran’s fiercest enemies, Saddam Hussein, the former Sunni leader of the Shia-majority country. 

    Since that time, Iran has dominated the Iraqi political life. The recent escalations between Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani and Iran’s Shia spiritual leader Ali Khamenei, however, show that something has changed in terms of Tehran’s influence in Baghdad.

    The main problem between the two leaderships is related to the composition of Iraq’s top militia group, Hashdi Shabi, which means Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). Iraqi factions loyal to either Tehran or Baghdad have grave differences over how Hashdi Shabi should be led.  

    “The emergence of divisions has been long expected. As much as Iran’s influence in Iraq has increased, these divisions become more clear and visible,” Bilgay Duman, the coordinator of Iraq Studies Department at Turkey’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM).

    Since last year, a protest movement with a clear anti-Iran message has also dominated the streets of Baghdad, demanding the Iraqi leadership to limit Tehran’s oversize influence in the country. 

    “Iraq’s Shiites feel that they can not move independently, being under the total control of Iran. As a result, they began reacting to Iran. The emergence of Hashdi Shabi, which has long appeared to follow Iran’s lead along with other Shia militia groups, has irritated them a lot,” Duman tells TRT World. 

    A few hours ago, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq Tweeted:

    Happening Now: SRSG Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert delivers remarks at the "Social, Religious and National Diversity in #Iraq and its Importance in Building Citizenship and Peaceful Co-existence" workshop in #Baghdad

    As we've noted before, she has a problem with 'messaging' in Iraq.  For example:

    Ammar al-Hakim guards yesterday attacked the demonstrators, and today the United Nations joined with him in this meeting !!

    What do Iraqis think of the protests that have been taking place in their country?  A new study sought to discover the feelings on the protests.  Here's the summary:

    In a recent study initiated by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and conducted by an international research company 1,000 Iraqis aged 18 years and older were interviewed in person in September and October 2020. For the majority, the protests are an outcry against corruption in a crisis-ridden country; the desire that those responsible for the socio-economic crunch will be held accountable is overwhelming. The most recent protests were very popular among those surveyed: 60 percent support the movement, which is undoubtedly more than just a youth revolt. 
    Since October last year, thousands of people have regularly taken to the streets against their government and engaged in often bloody street battles. The results so far are appalling: more than 600 people have been killed in the protests and around 7,000 injured. Nevertheless, the majority of the Iraqis are optimistic about the future - especially the younger generation between 31 and 45. It can be assumed that the demonstrators will not give up in 2021 either. 

    PDF format warning, full report is here.  From the report:

    In the poll 66% of Iraqis expressed optimism about the future.  The 31-45 age group are the most optimistic about the future (71%).  Contrary to the other regions, the majority of Kurds in the KRI are pessimistic about the future (37%).

    In general, 60% of Iraqis support "the events", i.e. the protests, that are happening since October 1st, 2019.  More men (63%) tend to support "the events" than women (57%).  Iraqis from Central and Al-Furat Al-Awsat regions (both 67%) support "the events" more than the other regions, especially Iraqis from Kurdistan (53%) and the Northern regions (55%).

    We asked the participants for the name they would ascribe to "the events": Most Iraqis call the current events a demonstration (44%) or a revolution (31%).  Fewer call it an uprising (17%) or a movement (7%).

    For the Iraqis, "the events" are a clear result of the accumulated conditions it preceded.  89% strongly or somewhat agree to that (Top 2 Boxes = T2B).  For the vast majority "the events" erupted as a call against corruption (93% T2B).  While the majority thinks that it all started with clear demands and it was later exploited and modified (67% T2B).  Iraqis mostly disagree that the protests are not being manipulated by either local parties (56% L2B = Lower two Boxes) or by external parties (58% L2B).  

    [. . .]

    Most Iraqis agree that it is true that "the events" have some deficits, but describe them as necessary (89% T2B).  They support "the events", but do not support blocking roads.

    Updating a story covered earlier this week, YOUR MIDDLE EAST reports, "Iran will resume normal gas flow to Iraq on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with the country on Tuesday over unpaid bills, Iraqi electricity ministry spokesman Ahmed Moussa told state television."  Staying with economic news, Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reports:

    A member of Iraqi parliament’s finance committee has told state media that the country’s budget deficit for 2021 stands at 71 trillion dinars (approximately $49 billion), according to a bill set to be read by parliament next month.

    Muhammad Saheb Al-Daraji told state media on Wednesday that the budget, approved by Iraq’s Council of Ministers on December 21, stands at 164 trillion dinars (approx. $113 billion), and the price of oil is set at $42 per barrel, according to the bill.

    “The deficit in the budget reaches 71 trillion dinars,” Al-Daraji added, saying Iraq will also be steeped in 16 trillion dinars, or $11 billion, worth of debt from previous loans.

    Deputy parliament speaker Basheer Haddad said that the parliament will conduct their first reading of the bill at the “beginning of January,” state media reported on Tuesday.

    Iraq has plunged deeper into an economic crisis amid low oil prices, the main source of revenue for Baghdad. Economic woes were a key factor pushing people to the streets in widespread protests that began in October 2019, with youth calling for better services and an end to mass unemployment, but the economy has continued to weaken amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In October, the World Food Programme warned that 10 percent of Iraqis are going hungry. 

    The Iraqi government has devalued the dinar.  Hatem Hussein (ALMADA) reports that economist state this move will increase the percent of Iraqis living in poverty to 60% of the population.  

    The following sites updated:

    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

    New content at THIRD:

    The following sites updated: