Thursday, May 13, 2021

Strange case

Jonathan Turley:

Francisquini was reportedly spotted wearing a backpack and carrying a skateboard and recording her interactions on her phone. When she was stopped, she claimed to be a student looking for the registration office.

While allegedly at first refusing to leave, she ended up leaving through a side door before police arrived.  However, police promptly spotted all of her flyers which made identification pretty easy, according to WTVJ-TV.

The charges are odd. I can understand interference with an educational institution but she is also charged with burglary, WFOR reported.  The state criminal code at Section 810.02 contains a very broad definition of burglary to include “entering or remaining in a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter or remain.” Thus, the basis could be that she intended to interfere with an educational institution and the school was not open to the public.

Use the link to read at the top to read on because it just gets stranger.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Thursday, May 13, 2021. Finally an Iraqi activist's assassination over the weekend gets attention from a US newspaper, protests continue in Iraq, and much more.

Over the weekend, Ihab Jawad al-Wazni was assassinated in Iraq, one of many assassinated since the October Revolution began in the fall of 2019.  Yesterday, THE WASHINGTON POST became the first US paper to note this assassination.  Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim report:

The killings take place in public and are captured on surveillance footage. Those videos are then watched by millions. But even if the gunmen are identified, no one is prosecuted, and the cycle starts again.

Across Baghdad and southern Iraq, a rising tide of attacks on activists and journalists is alarming what remains of a protest movement that has demanded the ouster of Iraq’s U.S.-molded political system and the usually Iran-linked armed groups that prop it up.

Mass street demonstrations were crushed last year with deadly force, often by paramilitary groups that the protesters have denounced. Now as some activists prepare to run in elections, prominent figures in the protest movement are being picked off while they walk the streets or drive home at the end of the day.

The assassinations, officials and human rights monitors say, underscore the reach of Iraq’s militia network — to punish citizens who dare to criticize it and control a political system meant to hold it accountable.

Not a fan of the outlet OPEN DEMOCRACY but I've complained repeatedly about the lack of coverage of Ihab so we'll note that Nabil Salih covered this issue yesterday afternoon:

Nightfall is also the time that militiamen and terrorists come out to play, their bullets and rockets punctuating the grim silence.

The latest victims include Ihab al-Wazni, an activist shot dead outside his home in Karbala in the early hours of Sunday 9 May. Just 24 hours later, journalist Ahmed Hassan survived an assassination attempt in al-Diwaniyah.

The state never runs out of promises that it will punish and hold accountable the perpetrators, but ordinary Iraqis continue to die so easily. All in all, Iraq Body Count recorded 235 violent civilian deaths in the first four months of 2021 alone.

The assassinations, says a statement from the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, are proof that the security system is failing to protect activists.

[. . .]

In today’s Iraq, the bar for success is so low that the government carrying out even the simplest of its obligations is touted as an achievement.

The faces of fallen protesters graffitied on the streets of Baghdad are a reminder of a bloodbath whose architects are still unpunished.

In October 2019, Iraq’s youth took to the streets, to demand a dignified life akin to that enjoyed by many of their rulers’ families abroad. They were slaughtered like sheep by unidentified gunmen, under the former government of Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Hundreds were killed and thousands were wounded in an unequal standoff that is still being falsely described as “clashes” by international media.

That year, the usual chaos, corruption and death was a part of everyday life for most Iraqis.

One activist assassinated is appalling and news.  A wave of assassinations -- an ongoing wave of assassination -- should be a huge topic.   Rasha al-Aqeedi notes:

For perspective, everyone in this video collage was killed by Iraqi security forces or assassinated by militias. They were activists, journalists, protesters, community leaders.

And she's referring to this Tweet by Herak:

كل شخص في هذه الصورة قتل على يد القوات القمعية سواء قوات حكومية او مليشيات اكثر من 1000 شهيد عراقي و30 الف جريح فقط لكونهم ارادوا الحرية والعدالة هذه الصورة تعتبر اول صورة للمتظاهرين العراقيين بنظام ال #nfts تمجيدا لهم ولتضحياتهم الى جنات الخلد الله يرحمهم ( امين )

For all the pretense of being 'woke,' the US continues to stick its head in the sand when it comes to the suffering in other countries.  The activists in Iraq are living in the destruction that the US government created.  So it is appalling that the US press can't cover this, doesn't want to cover this.  Maybe its their guilt over selling the Iraq War?  Probably not because guilt really isn't an emotion journalists are known to have.  

Ihab died, in part, because of journalistic silence.  He wasn't the first killed or the tenth or the fiftieth or the hundredth or . . .  There was a lot of time for the press to run with this story and amplify what has been going on.  The culture of silence allows these murders to continue.  

Geneva4Justice offers this Twitter thread:

1. Yesterday, on 11 May, the #UNSecurtyCouncil held an open VTC briefing in connection with #UNAMI discussing the alarming regularity of targeted attacks in #Iraq and the failure to organize credible elections in the country.

2. The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq and head of #UNAMI, Jeanine-Hennis Plasschaert, renewed her call for all Iraqi stakeholders to adhere to the integrity of the electoral process, stressing that ”the world is watching”.

3. The #SRSG further raised concerns around the targeting of prominent activists and the lack of accountability for #HumanRightsViolations, highlighting the assassination of Ihab Jawad al-Wazni in Karbala.

4. She noted that little information was provided regarding the violent attacks against demonstrators which undermines the integrity of elections. UN delegates supported the briefing of Ms. Plasschaert and called for increased vigilance against terrorist activities in #Iraq.

The press too often silences the deaths and it also silences the reactions to the death.  Suadad al-Salhy (MEE) notes that the response to Ihab's murder was to call for more protests.  And the protests continue and the protesters continue to be attacked.  This morning, Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports:

Security forces in central Iraq’s Babil early Thursday arrested large numbers of protestors who were part of reinvigorated demonstrations in the city following the assassination of a prominent activist, a local activist confirmed to Rudaw English.

Masses of protestors, who have taken to the streets since the assassination of Karbala activist Ihab al-Wazni on Sunday calling for accountability, were arrested overnight, according to Babil activist Ammar al-Ghazali.

Videos on social media show clashes between riot police and demonstrators near al-Thawra Bridge in the center of the city. Protesters set tires on fire on the streets, while security forces fired Molotov cocktails to disperse the protesters.

"The protesters agreed to declare a truce for three days during Eid al-Fitr, after which the escalation will resume in the case Wazni’s killers are not revealed, and the arrest campaign against protesters and activists continues," Ghazali told Rudaw English.

Iraq Tweets notes:

In Muthanna Governorate, demonstrations have broken out in protest of the killings of activists and crackdowns on protesters in Karbala, Babil, and other southern cities.

Let's note this.

1) GOW-an -- like OW with a G.  This is always a pet peever of mine.  I applauded Bruce Willis when he interrupted Johnny Carson on THE TONIGHT SHOW to say, "It's Demi."  Demi Moore's first name does not rhyme with Emmy.  People need to know basic facts.  You decide to do a full segment on Rose McGowan know the person's name.  It was repeatedly mispronounced.

2) Stop b.s.-ing.  Know your s**t.  I'm just not in the mood.  When Rose is calling out Alyssa and CAA, she's not, as THE VANGUARD says, implying that her agent told her it was a good publicity move.[Clarifiaction added for those who did not stream the video, Alyssa's agent did not tell her that faux pretense abotu #MeToow was a good publicity move.  Rose is referring to CAA's well known history of exploitation of women.]

I do not expect you to know the history of CAA.  How long before anyone wanted to give two s**ts, Debra Winger was seriously calling it out and had to go back there because it was where the work was.  It was a hideous place.  And it used actresses.  There's a French actress they pimped out to Harvey.  We all know this story, in the industry, and many more stories.  I don't expect THE VANGUARD to know it.  I do expect them to grasp that Alysaa's CAA connection -- the only thing that has gotten her jobs in recent years -- is her husband who was a CAA agent until recently (unless he's still with CAA but I'm told he departed weeks ago, that may be incorrect).  CAA would be no more if the #MeTooMovement was for real.  

I know Rose, I support Rose.  But get her name right and don't distort what she's saying because you didn't do the homework.   

The following sites updated:


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Jonathan Turley nails it on the First Amendment

Jonathan Turley:

In a major but likely controversial victory for free speech, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned the conviction of a retired Air Force colonel for using a racial epithet at the shoe store on the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia. Jules A. Bartow, who is white, was arrested after a bizarre and disgraceful exchange with an employee, including the use of the “n word” with the African American woman. The highly offensive and repugnant language of Bartow was denounced by the court, but the unanimous panel still reversed T.S. Ellis III, Senior District Judge of the Eastern District of Virginia on First Amendment grounds.

Free speech advocates must often defend those who are despised or language that is deeply offensive. The First Amendment is not designed to protect popular speech or popular people. Such speech and such people rarely need protection. That means that we must resist attacks on free speech in cases where we find speech to be repugnant and repulsive. That is the case with retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jules A. Bartow.


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Wednesday, May 12, 2021.  Iraq remains largely ignored in the US -- especially with regards to the wave of activists being assassinated, more problems with the national elections in Iraq are already emerging, and much more.

Opening with this from one of the nation's oldest political journals:

What are we still doing in Iraq?

Brett McGurk, the Biden administration’s senior Middle East policy official on the National Security Council, traveled to Baghdad last week to speak with Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi about that very question — specifically, the future of U.S. troops there. The Iraqi prime minister’s office reflected on the meeting shortly thereafter, writing that the session “emphasized implementing the outcome of the strategic dialogue between Iraq and the US, especially with regard to the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.” A month earlier, Washington and Baghdad restarted their bilateral dialogue, a key agenda item of which is the removal of U.S. combat forces from the country pending further negotiations. While the exact time frame for a full U.S. troop withdrawal is still open to debate, the Biden administration seems to be inching in the right direction: Getting its forces out of an area where they long ago accomplished their goals.

As of today, there are roughly 2,500 U.S. troops deployed to Iraq — down from nearly 6,000 in 2016. Those forces are responsible for implementing a training-and-advising program that aims to ensure the Iraqi security forces can execute operations against the Islamic State on their own.

In reality, however, the U.S. military is spending about as much time ducking rocket fire from an alphabet soup of Shia militias. The attacks on Iraqi military bases and airports that house U.S. personnel or contractors have gotten so frequent that a week free of rocket fire is almost considered an abnormality.

According to a count by the AFP news agency, around 30 rocket, mortar, or bomb attacks on U.S.-linked facilities and coalition troop convoys have occurred since President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. This includes an attack last weekend, in which a drone carrying explosives targeted the Ayn Al Asad air base in western Anbar province, which caused damage to the facility. On March 3, a barrage of about ten rockets was aimed at the same base, causing an American contractor to have a fatal heart attack. Just a week earlier, the Biden administration dropped seven GPS-guided bombs on Shia militia facilities close to the Iraqi–Syrian border in retaliation for another rocket strike in Irbil that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member.

Good for THE PROGRESSIVE, right?  Finally, it's getting off it's lazy ass and moving away from their 'lifestyle' pieces that they pass off as commentary on politics and issues.

Good for them.

At last they're once again contributing meaningful to the national dialogue about a serious issue.  War and occupation is back on their radar --

Oh, wait, it's not THE PROGRESSIVE.

Well, that's okay.  THE NATION has been a publication since the 1800s

Good for THE NATION.  Finally grasping that they had their highest circulation when they covered the war.  Maybe they're trying to do it to save their own asses?

I mean Katha Pollitt should have been fired long ago.  And I've done enough Zooms with groups of color recently to grasp that Katha's day of reckoning will soon be upon us.  She's a racist and she always has been.  She belittled the NAACP in the '00s when they rightly complained about represeentation on TV.  She's also the woman who belittled and attacked Alice Walker's writing.  This is a pattern with her and young African-American owmen have grown up with it and they're tired of it.

Oh, the little White girls love to buzz around Katha.  She's the Charlotee Rae on their own person FACT OF LIFE but a lot more people are outraged by her and by her racism that has been evidnet since the 1980s.  So yes, things will probably get very uncomfortable for Katha and for THE NATION as a result.

But whatever the reason, THE NATION finally stepped up on Iraq.  So good for them and --

Oh, it's not THE NATION either.





It's Daniel Depetres writing for THE NATIONAL REVIEW.  That's right.

On our side, no outlet can get serious.  But we do love all those lifestyle pieces, right?  What would we be without all that garbage?

A hell of a lot more informed.  Good for THE NATIONAL REVIEW for publishing the piece.  Sad for those of us on the left that we can't point to any of our publications who will tackle the issue.

So much isn't tackled.  I'm still waiting for the big write up on  Ihab Jawad al-Wazni from a US publication.  Big media, small media, corporate media, begger media.  They won't touch it.  

Ihab Jawad al-Wazni is a major topic on Arabic social media.  He's a major topic in Iraq.  The Middle East outlets can and have reported on him.  But most Americans don't know about him because US outlets won't touch the story.

Kareem Botane, Meethak Al-Khatib and Robert Edwards (ARAB NEWS) report:

Mustafa Makki Karim, 24, fled Baghdad for the relative safety of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region last year following a spate of death threats by pro-Iran groups for his role in the protest movement that erupted against government corruption and incompetence in October 2019.

During the unrest that followed, the young activist earned the moniker “Joker” for the clown mask he wore to hide his identity as he and his “Armored Division of Tahrir” defended their camp in Baghdad’s Victory Square.

“I left my life, my family, my friends, my future for my country and for the souls of the people we lost,” Karim told Arab News from the safety of his Irbil bedsit. He took a bullet in his leg and lost sight in one eye after Iraqi troops fired birdshot into the crowd.

 Now Karim and others like him have been forced into hiding — nursing injuries he sustained in clashes with security forces and militia thugs, fearful for those who chose to remain behind.

Their fears are hardly unfounded. On May 9, Ihab Al-Wazni, a coordinator of protests in the Shiite shrine city of Karbala, was killed outside his home by men on motorbikes. A vocal opponent of corruption and Iran’s influence in Iraq, Al-Wazni was a key figure of the protest campaign.

October 2019 marked the beginning of the biggest grassroots social movement in Iraq’s modern history. Fed up with a corrupt ruling elite, seen as beholden to foreign powers, the young Iraqis who came of age following the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein marched in their hundreds of thousands in cities across the country, demanding the overthrow of the post-2003 order.

 Scenes of defiance played out in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, with pitched battles between protesters and security forces on the adjoining bridges leading to the fortified Green Zone, where government officials and foreign diplomats watched with unease.

Around 600 people were killed as a result of their association with the protest movement — many on the streets during rallies, others targeted on their doorsteps away from the rallies.

According to Amnesty International, the global human rights monitor, hundreds of people were killed by live ammunition, military-grade teargas canisters and other weapons deemed inappropriate for civilian crowd control. Many soldiers and police officers were wounded by lumps of concrete and petrol bombs thrown by protesters.

Yet no coverage in the US.  Katha Pollitt's too busy doing those 'hard hitting' looks at the guy who wrote the biography on Phillip Roth.  (Since we're noting that man, didn't read the book, don't plan to, but I do not support the publisher pulping the book -- that's censorship.  And we can say all that in a single sentence.  Unlike Katha who takes a tiny topic and tries to expand it into a column -- she fails just like when she tries to expand her tiny mind.)

There are real issues going on in this world and THE NATION and THE PROGRESSIVE and so many others can't be bothered with it.  YES! -- isn't it CIA funded.  Oh, wait, did I speak out of turn?  Are we not supposed to note that?  Just like I've sort-of bit my tongue since 2008 about the 'slut for her country' who spread far and wide around the globe?  I know she's CIA.  A member of the House of Lords told Elaine and I long before YES! was even an idea.  She was a loud, trashy and ugly woman.  We knew her as such.  Elaine was dating the British politician.  We were in London and she squeals -- in that loud way that always gives Americans a bad name overseas -- and came . . . lumbering?  Is that what we call it?  Towards us and Elaine and I were rolling our eyes when the Member of the House of Lords let it slip that she was CIA.  She spread for God and country, apparently, throughout the world.  And any man who took that one must have been very, very hard up. 

Where are the pieces on Iraq?  Is everyone co-opted by the US government?  I don't know.  But I know YES! is nothing we will ever promote.



HRD Ihab Jawad Al-Wazni was killed on Sunday near his home in Karbala, #Iraq. He was a leading figure in protests against the government.
In 2020 the project recorded the killing of at least 8 HRDs in Iraq; 7 were targeted assassinations.

Cassidy offers this Twitter thread:

Please understand what is happening in Iraq right now. Ihab Jawad Al-Wazni, an activist who was against corrupt government, was shot outside of his home by an unknown gunman. This is not the first time it had happened, many activists since October 2019 were being targeted+

And killed. Protests are breaking out because of this and I’m fearing that the same thing that happened last year will happen again. Where many people were being killed and tear gased by the government. Please read these articles and educate yourself. I don’t know



This isn’t talked about that much and there is a chance that what had happened last year will happen again.

Here is an article about it

just be beware and be educated about this. I have family in Iraq and I fear that something bad will happen to them. if you have any additional info, feel free to tell me.

The protesters managed to force out a prime minister.  Now Iraq gears up for new elections and already problems are emerging.  Neil Joseph Nakkash (NEWSWEEK) notes:

Recently, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) canceled election participation for citizens abroad, disenfranchising nearly 1 million Iraqi citizens in advance of early parliamentary elections set for October.

In a public statement, IHEC announced that the ruling comes as a result of "several technical and financial, legal, and health obstacles" that could prevent applicants abroad from receiving their biometric voting cards by Election Day.

The commission's decision was met with mixed reactions, with many Iraqis in support. They argue that citizens in diaspora should not be making decisions for a country they do not reside in—a belief popularized since 2003 due to the corruption and failures of expatriates, who played a dominant role for Iraqis in the U.S.-led invasion and subsequent formation of the current government and constitution.

Winding down, we'll note Crescenzo Vellucci (THE DAVIS VANGUARD) reports:

Omar Ameen finally gets his day in court this Thursday in his fight to avoid being deported to Iraq, where he’ll face, according to his supporters, sure torture and death.

But Ameen already had his day in court last month, when a federal judge in Sacramento ruled he should be released from U.S. custody immediately.

Instead –  –wronged by the Trump Administration for years, according to a federal judge – the Biden Administration’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immediately picked him up to be deported.

So, Ameen, who supporters at a Sacramento news conference pointed out Tuesday, spent his 1,000th day in custody Tuesday, away from friends and family.

But this Thursday in U.S. Immigration Court in Van Nuys, Ameen hopes to finally get his – another – day in court.

“Today marks 1,000 days of Omar’s detention. 1,000 days of fear of being returned to torture and death. 1,000 days falsely accused. 1,000 days of a nightmare, falsely accused of terrorism, falsely accused of murder, of belonging to ISIS,” said Assistant Federal Defender Rachelle Barbour

Speaking of the federal case that temporarily won Ameen the promise of freedom in April, Barbour said “we had obliterated the US. evidence. They’re case was based on false witnesses, and they counted on the court to believe them. But the judge didn’t believe them.”

The following sites updated: