Saturday, February 12, 2022

Corporate news needs to police itself

Jonathan Turley:

I have previously lamented what I call “the age of rage” and how many seem addicted to rage in our society. That was evident this week as many vented against groups ranging from the Canadian truckers to the unvaccinated. CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem seemed to suggest vigilantism as a proper response to the Canadian protesters while James Carville said that he wanted to punch the unvaccinated. I do not view either Kayyem or Carville as seriously advocating or condoning violence. However, the heated rhetoric highlights the danger of past demands from the left for censoring or prosecuting others for violent speech.

On her Twitter account, Kayyem responded to a Wall Street Journal article on the gridlock caused by the truckers: “The convoy protest, applauded by right-wing media as a ‘freedom protest,’ is an economic and security issue now. The Ambassador Bridge link constitutes 28% of annual trade movement between US and Canada. Slash the tires, empty gas tanks, arrest the drivers, and move the trucks.”

For his part, Carville longs for even more personal satisfaction, saying that anyone without a vaccine was a “piece of s–t” and he wanted to punch them in the face.

These snarling, violent comments are all-too-common in today’s environment. However, they also raise the question of how we treat violent speech.  Various Democrats are calling for the disqualification of members of Congress, and former President Donald Trump, for their comments made before the January 6th riot. Some members have brought lawsuits over allegations that such speeches constituted incitement for insurrection. However, violent language continues to be common on both sides of our political divide. What constitutes hyperbole and what constitutes incitement is dangerously undefined.

The corporate news media and aging and infirm Neil Young have called out comedian Joe Rogan; however, they themselves appear to be the true danger to democracy.  They need to start policing themselves and stop pointing at others.

If James Carville's natural response to people he disagrees with is to punch them out, he doesn't need to be on TV.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, February 11, 2022.  NYT decides 19 years of an illegal war is enough.  (It's a position many of us reached before the war started and that many more recahced in the first few years of the illegal war, but, hey, NYT is n't noted for its courage or keen intelligence.)

In this morning's NEW YORK TIMES, Trita Parsi and

U.S. troops in Iraq quietly thwarted two separate drone attacks on bases hosting American soldiers in the first week of 2022. The attacks, attributed to Iraqi Shiite militias, are no surprise: America’s presence in Iraq is increasingly unwelcome. More attacks are bound to come as long as the Biden administration decides to keep forces there. With each passing day, the risk of a deadly attack increases.

And for what?

The presence of U.S. troops won’t stop terrorist attacks from happening and they can’t contain Iran, which has cemented its hold on some Iraqi military institutions since 2003. American soldiers are likely to die in vain because, just as in Afghanistan, they have been given the impossible task of acting as an ephemeral thumb on the scale of a foreign country’s politics.

Americans must ask themselves: Is this worth it? The United States withdrew from Afghanistan last year because its presence there no longer served its interests. Neither does staying in Iraq.

The U.S. experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq made painfully clear that there is no magic number of American troops that can eradicate terrorism. The roughly 2,500 in Iraq certainly cannot. While Washington’s foreign policy establishment wrings its hands about the risks of leaving, it appears to be ignoring the clear costs of staying.

An argument for ending the illegal war and occupation -- ongoing war, ongoing occupation --- from the belly of the beast.  THE NEW YORK TIMES pimped the Iraq War, they cheerleaded it on.  They ran with false links between al Qaeda and Iraq.  They did stenography on what turned out to be non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Bill Keller, Judith Miller, Thomas Friedman, Michael Gordon, those are only some of the names of people who did war proaganda.  Don't forget serial plagiarist Jill Abramson who, after the illegal war started and was obviously not the cake walk so many had promised, suddenly had 'objections' to pieces that had been long ago published.  Jill,  whose grip on reality has always been tenuous, was in a position where she could hae halted the publication of those type of storeis or demanded more background be included as well as more skepitiscm but she waived them through and then pretended to be powerless when it was obvious that the Iraq War would go down as one of the paper's all time worst moments.

They sold the war.  Over and over.  And as we noted repeatedly during the early years of the illegal war, is was their Go-Go Boys and their lying 'coverage' that kept the Iraq War going.  Burnsie and Dexy.  A special place in hell for those two?  A table for three with Mad Maddy Albright? 

The paper sold the illegal war.  They sold it and over a million Iraqis are dead as are Americans, British, Australians, . . .  They sold the war and its the American taxpayer that is footing the bill.  And not just this generation's taxpayer, but many generations to come.

It was cute, when Doanld Trump was in the White House, to watch outlets like NYT -- outlets who had lied the country into war -- get peevish over when exactly Donald Trump turned against the war -- before it started or in the early days after it started?

They wanted to lecture and to fact check.  To lecture and fact check Donald Trump, you understand.  Not themselves.

Forced into finally issuing some sort of statement after (a) Howard Kurtz had written a major piece on THE WASHINGTON POST's pre-war coverage and (b) NYT public editor Daniel Okrent had done a review on his own (the paper was opposed to that review -- Daniel did it because of The Tonys, I'm not joking, we can give that sotry at another time, we're already lost in parenthetical and we've told it here before), the paper issued a brief statement and insisted that there would be more to come as they looked at that pre-war coverage.

Bill Keller was always a liar.  There was no more coverage examining the paper's lies.

So what we learn today is the time line.  And it matters.  It matters because they're trying to sell war on Russia right now.  So, should they get their desire and that war start, we now know at what point they'll allow calls for US troops to leave -- 19 years later.  We're one month shy of the 20th anniversary. 

So 19 years is their level of 'endurance.'  

A hellish amount of damage and destruction has been done in Iraq in those 19 years.

Even now, 19 years later, the column can't be honest.  It's sections on the Iraqi government are laughable at best.  (We didn't quote them above.)  It's not  a functioning government.  The corrpution index issued annually by Tranparency International makes that clear.  Or should.  The inability to defend its own citizens make that clear.  

Could democracy have taken root in Iraq -- democracy as the US swdinwa ir?  I don't know.  Anything can happen.  But the steps they took esnured that it wouldn't.

And one of the biggest hallmarks of democracy?  Voting.  One person, one vote.

Iraq's election turnout?  It's faltered and decreased steadily since the March 2010 election.

The western press pretends not to notice -- even after the debacle that was the October 2021 elections.

But it was US actions that ensured that Iraqis would not have faith in the ballot box.  They went into 2010 with Nouri al-Maliki seeking a second term as prime minister.  He claimed he would win -- and he instituted a series of actions (bribes) to try to ensure that -- not limited to his ice giveaway that was mocked by most Iraqis on social media.  "We're despearte for potable water," the response went, "and he has a big block of ice transported to our area that qucikly melts.  Water for a day! Yea!"

He worked overtime to eliminate his rivals.  He'd sought a secret ruling ahead of the elections from Iraq's Supreme Court that he kept in his back pocket in case he lost (he did lose).  

Alone among the US government watchers, Gen Ray Odierno could see (a) that Nouri might lose and (b) that if he did lose, he might refuse to step down.

The late general looks like a psychic in retrospect.  

His concerns were ignored because Barack Obama nd Joe Biden were appeasing spoiled brat Chrissy Hill, the US Ambassador to Iraq.  Little Chrissy was upset that the Sundy chat and chews had Ray on.  Chrissy felt it should be him.  And the press didn't note him, they went after Ray.  Jealous, he had a snit-fit and Ray's role was scaled back.

But Ray was right.

Iraqis didn't want a second term of Nouri -- his secret prisons and torture chambers were already known.  They went with Ayad  Allawi's Iraqiya.  

This was a major moment -- as we noted here repeatedly in real time.

A) It could show the Iraqi people the importance of the ballot box.  It could.  It could strengthen their belief in voting and in the power of voting.  B) Iraqiys was the step forward that both Iraq and the US needed.

Iraq needed it because Iraqiys was about healing.  It had Shias and Sunnis and everyone.  It wasn't a fundamentalist party.  At a time when women were largely invisible, IRaqiya had a female spokesperson.  It was about a national identity.  It was about coming together, not about divisions.

This really could have helped heal the country and allow it to move forward.

And that would have been good for the US because  it would have argued for the departure of US troops.

So much could have been accomplished.  

But reality flew out the window.  It did so after the election, the day after, in fact.  Quil Lawrence showed up on NPR to declare Nouri the winner.  He wasn't.  There were no tallies ore stimates.  But, hey, Quil's a whore and whore's gotta make bank.  Deborah Amos was on sabatical from NPR at that time and she used that time to write one of the best studies of the 2010 voting -- including the corruption -- corruption NPR and so many other outlets ignored.  

But, hey, Quil called it so it must be true.

Originally, the approach of Joe (tasked with overseeing Iraq by Barack) was that the US stood with the winner.  Tht would be Allawi and Iraqiya.

But then Samantha Power and Susan Davis got very vocal and insisted that Allawi would mean US troops had to leave when the current SOFA expired.  A second term of Nouri al-Maliki?  The insisted Nouri would go for renewing the SOFA.  (The SOFA gave US troops the legal right to be on Iraqi soil and carrying out combat missions.)

Nouri refused to step down.  Eight months after the election.  He refused to step down.  The government ground to standstill.

Joe and Brett McGurk were at the top of overseeing The Erbil Agreement.  This was the legal contract that gve loser Nouri a second term.  Parick Cockburn, the laughable US transplant who needs to go home, loves to play expert on Iraq but he never once, to this day, covered The Erbil Agreement.

This US overseen contract gave Nouri a second term.  The heads of the various political blocs signed off on it.  Why?  They got something in the contract in exchange.  So, for the Kurds, Article  140 would finally be put to a vote.  Now that was supposed to happen during Nouri's first term.  Remember that, we'll be back to it.

Everyone was promised something.

The day after the agreement was signed, Parliament met and finally named Nouri prime minister-designate.  It was obvious there were huge problems from that moment, that very moment.  Iraqiya walked out.  Barac personally called Ayad Allawi and begged him to bring Iraqiya back into the Parliament.  He told Allawi that The Erbil Agreement had the full backing of the US government.

He said it.

He lied.

Allawi believed him and Iraqiya returned.

Article 140 would need to be pushed back a bit.  That's what the prime minister-designate said.  There were announcements of an end of December referendum.  Didn't happen.  And never would.  To this day.

We mocked the Kurdish leaders over this.

Nouri took an oath to uphold the Iraqi Constitution.  It specifically called for Article 140 to be implemented before his first term ended.  He didn't implement it. Why the hell did they believe his promise that 'this time' he'd implement it?

It was a big mistake.

And not just for the Kurds, for everyone invovled.  

Within seven or so weeks, Nouri was announcing -- through his psokesperson (the one who later had to flee the country when Nouri turned on him) -- that the contrtact wasn't legal.  Of course, he'd already become prime minister by that point.

He said he wasn't bound by it.

And he never honored it.

And Barack with his promise that the US government was behind it 100%?  He refused to take Allawi's calls.  

Iraq voted for a national identity, that's why the brand new Iraqiya managed to defeat the incumbent Nouri in the 2010 elections.  And the US spat on that choice.  And they overturned the votes. 

And since that election, you've seen voter turnout in Iraq decrease steadily.

If you're surprised by that, you weren't paying attention.

Cause and effect.

In other news, Amnesty Interantional notes:

Amnesty International and Fat Rat Films have today released a new documentary that highlights the ongoing struggles faced by Yezidi former child soldiers who survived abduction by the Islamic State (IS) armed group.

The 12-minute film, Captives on the Frontlines: Yezidi former child soldiers who survived ISIS, explores the friendship between Vian and Barzan, two young men who were abducted as boys by IS in 2014, indoctrinated into the armed group, and forced to fight. Both escaped and are now living in northern Iraq, where the documentary was filmed last year.

“This film captures the challenges still faced by Yezidi former child soldiers, and also the friendships that have flourished in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Nicolette Waldman, Researcher on Children and Armed Conflict on Amnesty International’s Crisis Response team.

“Former child soldiers are routinely stigmatized, which means their harrowing experiences are frequently kept in the shadows. By bravely sharing their own stories so openly, Vian and Barzan have helped shine a light on the struggles that remain for Yezidi former child soldiers today. Many of these young men, having endured unimaginable trauma, continue to have serious physical and mental health conditions.

“To date, many Yezidi survivors have still not received adequate support for their physical health, mental health or education. Indeed, many have not received support of any kind since they returned to their communities.

“The Iraqi authorities, their international partners, and the United Nations must ensure that Yezidi former child soldiers have full access to the reparations and assistance to which they are entitled under Iraq’s Yazidi Survivors Law (2021).

“They must also work together to establish a National Action Plan mandating that all current and former child soldiers in Iraq, including Yezidi boys and young men, are reintegrated into society and provided with coordinated, specialized and long-term support.”

The documentary was made in collaboration with award-winning documentary production company Fat Rat Films, and will be available here ahead of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers on Saturday 12 February.

Captives on the frontlines: Yezidi child soldiers who survived ISIS – the new documentary from Amnesty International and Fat Rat Films.

Between 2014 and 2017, IS committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and what the UN describes as genocide against the Yezidi community in Iraq.

In July 2020, Amnesty International published a report that documented how Yezidi children who had returned to their families after being held captive by IS were facing a physical and mental health crisis. The report, Legacy of Terror: The Plight of Yezidi Child Survivors of ISIS, also addresses the urgent need to end the enforced separation of Yezidi women and their children born of sexual violence by IS members.

In November 2021, Amnesty International welcomed new regulations passed by Iraq’s parliament to implement the Yazidi Survivors Law, but warned that more work was still required in order to fully assist survivors of atrocities committed by IS.

We'll wind down with this from Restore The Fourth:

Restore the Fourth Logo: Flag with black and red stripes and a blue square that says


We did it—with your help! This week the IRS announced that it had abandoned its plans to partner with to force some taxpayers to use facial recognition technology in order to access their tax documents. You helped us put the pressure on the IRS and roll back their plans before tax season really took off—preventing potentially millions of Americans from having their biometric data recorded and stored in's private database.

Let’s keep that momentum up! The IRS is not the only government agency that has contracted with—other federal agencies that have contracts with this infamous FRT company include Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration as well as 30 state unemployment offices. This is unacceptable. Let’s demand ALL government agencies drop We cannot continue to sit idly by while builds a huge, private database of our personal biometric information.

Consider supporting the work we do by making a donation here.

The following sites updated: