Jeff Bezos has always told his staff to “start with the customer and work backward.” That could now change in a dispute between Amazon-owned Whole Foods and both Black Lives Matter and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). NLRB lawyers are arguing that Whole Foods must allow workers to wear “Black Lives Matter” masks at work, suggesting — in effect — that Bezos should start with the worker and work forward by allowing them to advocate for social change. The company is arguing that such a rule would constitute a violation of its own free speech rights.
Whole Foods is fighting for the right to maintain a workplace free of political slogans or demonstrations.
In her consolidated complaint against Whole Foods Market, Inc., San Francisco Regional Director Jill Coffman declared that the company is violating the rights of workers in 10 different states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Washington, Indiana, and California). Coffman maintained that “through this complaint, we hope to enforce the Act and protect workers’ rights to speak up about these important issues.”
The problem is that there are speech interests on both sides.
The complaint also highlights an increasingly incomprehensible position on corporate speech for many on the left. Democratic politicians (including President Biden) have called for more censorship and interventions from social media corporations to protect customers from their own dangerous proclivities in reading material. When some of us have objected to such censorship, advocates have insisted that these private companies have every right to limit speech under the First Amendment. Of course, the First Amendment argument in support of corporate censorship ignores that the amendment is not the exclusive measure of free speech. These companies, and their government supporters, have created the largest system of censorship in history and its impact on political and social speech is enormous.
Given that support for corporate censorship, you would think that Whole Foods would have support in limiting speech for its actual workers. It’s not censoring its customers, but rather keeping the company neutral on political issues as customers shop for wild caught salmon or organic avocados.
Whole Foods, it seems, does not want to follow social media companies like Twitter and effectively write off whole groups within its customer base.
In claiming workers have the right “to speak up about these important issues,” the NLRB complaint does not grapple with the obvious problem: Can employees wear “Blue Lives Matter” or pro-life or pro-choice masks? How about “Proud Boy” or “MAGA” masks?
What do you think?
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, January 13, 2022. Julian Assange remains presecuted by Joe Biden while the Iraqi government invites a return of ISIS or something even worse.
Starting with Julian Assange, the Australian journalist that US President Joe Biden continues to persecute. James Miller and Peter S. Fosl (COURIER JOURNAL) observe:
With the December decision by a UK court overturning an earlier ruling against extradition, it’s looking increasingly likely that Julian Assange will return to the U.S. to face charges related to Wikileaks’ 2009-10 publication of over 700,000 documents that Chelsea Manning stole from the U.S. military. For both legal and political reasons, the Biden administration’s decision to pursue this prosecution is a serious mistake.
As a matter of law, Assange has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. But Assange did not conspire to hack U.S. computers — Manning already had access. Assange’s failed attempt to help generate a password to log in through another account was for the purpose of hiding Manning’s identity, not gaining access to the files.
Journalists not only frequently encourage sources to divulge information; they also help sources hide their identities. Indeed, journalists are obligated to do so when sources face “danger, retribution or other harm,” according to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. The New York Times, e.g., maintains a web page giving advice and encouragement of precisely that kind: nytimes.com/tips.
Assange is also charged with 17 counts of espionage, but no reasonable person can interpret what Assange did as espionage. Unlike Israeli spy Aldrich Ames, Assange, so far as we know, did not act as the agent of a foreign power. He did not sell or attempt to sell the purloined documents he acquired. He simply made them publicly available through Wikileaks. It’s not illegal to do that; nor should it be.
Politicians and laypeople alike should remember that the press serves the citizens, not the government. As the Supreme Court explained in its Pentagon Papers ruling: “The press was protected [by the Founders] so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.”
Many have claimed that Assange placed U.S. personnel and agents in danger, but the government acquitted Manning of aiding the enemy. And while a few diplomatic careers were damaged, no evidence shows that the leak resulted in deaths or injuries.
On the other hand, the documents Manning gave Assange detail apparent war crimes, such as the torture of prisoners and unlawful attacks on Iraqi civilians. That information clearly serves U.S. citizens as a brake on state power.
The world is watching Joe Biden. THe world is waiting to see just how unethical and how despotic Joe might be. The Socialist Movement of Ghana notes:
Assange is an Australian Editor, Publisher and Activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006.
WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published series of leaks provided by United States (US) Army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning.
A press statement signed by Mr. Justice Henaku, Director, International Relations Department, SMG, and issued to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday said: “this effort has involved the abuse of judicial processes to extradite Julian Assange to the United States of America (USA) for allegedly leaking State secrets and endangering leaking the lives of operatives deployed in the illegal war in Iraq and the adventures of the USA and its allies in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”
The statement, therefore, called on the Ghana Journalists Association, the West African Media Foundation, organisation of lawyers, Civil Society Organisations and advocates of free expression and defenders of rights of people to declare unflinching solidarity with Assange.
“We are deeply conscious of the fact that the secrets with Assange and WikiLeaks allegedly released are evidence of the abuse of State power in the commission of crimes against humanity.
“We must come together to mobilise world opinion in support of the struggle to free Assange from the stranglehold of abuse of the right to free expression, we have a duty to ourselves and the world to defeat the forces against transparency,” it said.
The statement said: “It is indeed shocking that the perpetrators of these crimes are walking free and are even in some cases treated as distinguished statesmen and women while Assange is being hounded as a common criminal.”
In Pakistan, Najma M. Ramzan writes the editors of THE NATION newspaper:
Mr Julian Assange is an Australian activist, an editor and the founder of Wikileaks. He was arrested due to the publishing of some secrets of many countries on 11 April 2019. Now the question arises that what are these secrets Wikileaks published. In July 2010, Wikileaks released more than 19,00 documents. These documents are secrets of US military reports about the war in Afghanistan. In October of the same year, it also released another 14,000 classified military files report of war in Iraq from 2004 to 2009. Now Assage is in UK prison, but a US Court is appealing to the UK that he should be extradited to the US. The US wants to punish him and forbid him that he should not publish any other secrets of the US.
Furthermore, the US also wants to take revenge against him for the thousands of publications of US military reports which he released in 2010 and 2011. Last week of this month UK Court accepts the US appeal but UK Court said that Mr Asaage is facing health problems. So, an earlier request was rejected due to the risk of suicide. It is very heartbreaking news for Asaage’s family and friends. One of his family members says that in UK prison he is safe and alive but in the US, safety is impossible. It is not only a big challenge for the Wikileaks founder, it is a very big loss for all media networks.
The world is watching. RT reports below on the call for Australia's journalists to stand with Julian.
The world is watching. What they're seeing isn't democracy or an embrace of freedom of speech. They're seeing the US government behave like the dictators that they accuse of attacking freedoms. Thanks, Joe Biden, for stamping hypocrisy on the US.
BLACK AGENDA REPORT. Danny's piece still isn't up. They have had time to post garbage. The garbage is entitled "US Bombing Wars Remain Hidden from the American People." It's the garbaged we've already criticised which was posted elsewhere. It's garbage. And I can't believe it would have been posted as is if Glen Ford were still alive. Why?
The good news is that U.S. bombing of those 3 countries has significantly decreased from the over 12,000 bombs and missiles it dropped on them in 2019.
Yes, it's CODESTINK's Susan Benjamin (who labeled herself Medea, I don't know, was it her code name?). And, no, there is no good news that 'less' bombs are taking place. I'm sorry, Susan, I know you're an idiot. I remember when you got into it with Scott Horton and others because you wanted US troops to stay in AFghanistan. I grasp, Susan, that you hope everyone's forgotten but, no, we haven't.
It's kind of like the way she's rewritten reality on how she attacked Marla Ruzicka because she disagreed with her 'friend' Marla (who wnet to Iraq).
Susan Benjamin has never devoted significant attention to any real issue other than her months long whining about getting hit with a pie in the face.
Susan Benjamin and CODESTINK misled the American people. They were donating -- in kind -- in 2007 and 2008 to the campaign of Barack Obama. They didn't disclose that CODESTINK's Jodi was a super bundler for Barack. They didn't disclose, as they bird dogged John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, that they were backing Baracj. They weren't making real choices, they were clearing the field for their preferred candidate. And then, like United for Peace and Justice, they dropped Iraq when Barack was in office. They didn't just drop Iraq though, Susan also promoted the argument that US forces needed to stay in Afghanistan.
She's a nit wit who really needs to be moved to the side. I don't take you seriously if you're promoting Susan. She's done too much harm. Don't get me started on the 'fast' she preached and promoted (while never noting societal issues or health concerns) and how she portrayed herself as taking part in it when she didn't. And when weeks later, she abandonded and Iraq meet-up that took weeks to plan because her attention wantdered over to Palestine.
Susan lacks intelligence and she's unable to stick with anything.
I liked Glen Ford. I liked Bruce Dixon. They are both dead. If BLACK AGENDA REPORT is publishing articles about "good news" and that "good news" is less bombs -- not no bombs, less -- I don't really see it having any importance in my life. I will be watching over the next few weeks to determine whether or not it's an outlet worth reading still.
And let me really clear, Susan Benjmain is writing with White privilege. Thats the only reason you say "the good news" about bombs that are killing people -- in foreign lands so it's okay to SUsan. BLACK AGENDA REPORT was never, ever supposed to promote White privilige. That I'm the one having to point that out is very distressing to me.
Iraq? It was long suspected that the decision to go to war on Iraq was made by the US and the UK long before Bully Boy Bush and Tony Blair were willing to admit to. We covered the UK's Iraq Inquiry -- every day it heard testimoney, we reported on it. If you paid attention then, you knew the decision was made in April of 2002 and that it was made while Tony Blair was visiting Bully Boy Bush on BBB's Crawford, Texas ranch. This decision was documented and the document was referred to the inquiry. However, the document was not released. It has now been released and MIDDLE EAST EYE has published it:
Subject: Prime Minister’s visit to the US April 5 – 7 2002.
Sent: April 8, 2002
From: David Manning
To: Simon McDonald
CC'd: Jonathan Powell, Sir Mike Boyce, Peter Watkins, Christopher Meyer, Sir Michael Jay
The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair were the guests of President and Mrs Bush at Crawford, Texas, from April 5 – 7.
Much of the [Blair-Bush] discussions were tete a tete. However, Jonathan Powell and I joined the President and the PM at Crawford ranch for informal talks on the morning of Saturday April 6.
Condi Rice [Bush's national security advisor] and Andy Card [Bush's chief of staff] accompanied Bush.
Among the issues discussed was Iraq and other topics separately.
This letter is exceptionally sensitive and the PM instructed it should be very tightly held, it should be shown only to those with a real need to know and no further copies should be made.
Bush said he and the PM had discussed Iraq on their own over dinner the previous evening.
At present Centcom had no war plan as such. Thinking ahead so far was on a broad and central level, though a very small Centcom cell had recently been established in conditions of great secrecy to look at the detailed military planning.
Condi Rice said 99 per cent of Centcom were unaware of this.
When it had done more work Bush would be ready to agree to UK and US planners sitting down together to examine the options. He wanted us to work through the issues together. Whatever plan emerged we had to ensure victory. We could not afford to fail.
But it would be essential to ensure that acting against Saddam enhanced rather than diminished regional stability. He had therefore reassured the Turks that there was no question of the break-up of Iraq and the emergence of a Kurdish state.
But there were nevertheless a number of imponderables.
He didn’t know who would take Saddam’s place if and when we toppled him.
But he didn’t much care. He was working on the assumption that anyone would be an improvement.
Nevertheless Bush accepted we needed to manage the PR aspect of all this with great care.
He accepted we needed to put Saddam on the spot over the UN inspectors, we should tell him that we wanted proof of his claim that he was not developing WMDs. This could only be forthcoming if UN inspectors were allowed in on the basis that they could go anywhere inside Iraq at any time.
Bush added that Saddam could not be allowed to have any say over the nationality or composition of the inspection team.
He said the timing of any action against Saddam would be very important. He would not want to launch any operation before the US Congressional elections in the autumn. Otherwise he would be accused of warmongering for electoral benefit.
In effect this meant there was a window of opportunity between the beginning of November and the end of February.
‘Although we may not decide to do it this year at all.’
The PM said no one could doubt the world would be a better place if there were regime change in Iraq. But in going down the inspectors route, we would have to give careful thought to how we framed the ultimatum to Saddam to allow them to do their job.
Saddam would very probably try to obstruct the inspectors and play for time. This was why it was so important we insisted they must be allowed in at any time and be free to visit any place or installation.
The PM said we needed an accompanying PR strategy that highlighted the risks of Saddam’s WMD programme and his appalling human rights record. Bush strongly agreed.
The PM said this approach would be important in managing European public opinion and in helping the President construct an international coalition.
The PM would emphasise to European partners that Saddam was being given an opportunity to co-operate.
If, as he expected, Saddam failed to do so, the Europeans would find it very much harder to resist the logic that we must take action to deal with an evil regime that threatens us with its WMD programme.
We would still face the question of why we had decided to act now, what had changed?
The answer had to be that we must think ahead, this was one of the lessons of 9/11: failure to take action in good time meant the risks would only grow and might force us to take much more costly action later.
The President agreed with Mr Blair’s line of argument.
It was also Bush’s view, though he would not be saying this publicly, that if a moderate secular regime succeeded Saddam in Iraq this would have a favourable impact on the region particularly on Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
The PM later commented to me privately that he had spoken again to Bush about the issue of UN inspectors. Bush had acknowledged that there was just a possibility that Saddam would allow them in and go about their own business. If that happened we would have to adjust our approach accordingly.
Meanwhile it was worth ramping up the pressure on Saddam and making it plain that if he didn’t accept the inspectors we reserved the right to go in and deal with him.
The PM also told me that Bush had been clear that he wanted to build a broad coalition for his Iraq policy. This had apparently persuaded him to dismiss those on the American Right who were arguing there was no need and no point in bothering with UN inspectors.
George Bush senior may have been influential on this point. Bush told the PM separately that the US must construct a coalition for dealing with Iraq whatever 'Right wing kooks' might be saying.
It is clear from these exchanges that military planning is not yet advanced very far. Only when more progress is made will Bush be ready to allow our own planners to discuss the options with Centcom. It also seems clear that Bush has still not finally decided that military action will be feasible at the end of this year, even if he has provisionally earmarked the November-February period for a possible campaign.
Two War Criminals and the damage they initiated. They did it with a whorish media.
That's why it matters, BLACK AGENDA REPORT, when you publish Susan Benjamin finding "good news" in the bombing deaths of civilians. Whoring impacts us all.
Whoring is how Iraq has its current prime minister. Mustafa al-Kahdimi has never had to face a press recokonng of the kind his predecssors did. Why? It's not because he's a success. He's a n abject failure. Read this garbage from ARAB WEEKLY and note not only what it says but it also what it doesn't say:
Iraqi political sources say that Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is smoothly gliding towards a new term in office, given the support he enjoys from the Sadrist Movement.
The sources point out that Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sees Kadhimi as the most capable figure who could lead a “national majority” government to be formed by the Sadrists with the backing of Sunni and Kurdish blocs.
The sources note that the objections of the pro-Iranian Coordination Framework Shia parties to Kadhimi are not of much concern to the Sadrists.
Iraq watchers point out that Kadhimi, despite the modest results achieved during his current term in office, has shown himself to be able to deal effectively with Iraq's quandaries and has demonstrated a great measure of pragmatism in handling foreign interference in Iraqi affairs.
That's whoring, not reporting. AW, like many other outlets, has close to Mustafa that go back years when he used to write columns and 'news features.' They've given him the benefit of the doubt every time. They wouldn't do that for anyone that wasn' ttheir friend. Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki rightly complains about what Mustafa is able to get away with thanks to his friends in the press.
Mustafa is a corrupt figure and he is a failure. Human Rights Watch notes:
The Iraqi government failed in 2021 to deliver on promises to hold to account those responsible for the abuse of protesters, activists, journalists, and critics of political elites and the Popular Mobilization Forces, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2022.
The abuses included arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. In this accountability vacuum, armed groups fired three armed drones at the home of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on November 7 in an apparent attempt to kill him.
“The attempted assassination of Prime Minister al-Kadhimi vividly captures the impunity of Iraq’s armed groups,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “They are not afraid to launch even a brazen attack on the country’s leader.”
In the 752-page World Report 2022, its 32nd edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. Executive Director Kenneth Roth challenges the conventional wisdom that autocracy is ascendent. In country after country, large numbers of people have recently taken to the streets, even at the risk of being arrested or shot, showing that the appeal of democracy remains strong. Meanwhile, autocrats are finding it more difficult to manipulate elections in their favor. Still, he says, democratic leaders must do a better job of meeting national and global challenges and of making sure that democracy delivers on its promised dividends.
During protests that began in October 2019 and continued into late 2020, clashes with security forces, including the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or hashad) nominally under the control of the prime minister, left at least 487 protesters dead in Baghdad and Iraq’s southern cities. When Prime Minister al-Kadhimi took office in May 2020 he formed a committee to investigate the killings of protesters but it had yet to announce any findings as of December 2021.
In February, the government announced the arrest of members of a “death squad” that had allegedly been responsible for killing at least three activists in the southern city of Basra. Baghdad authorities announced in July that they had arrested three low-level security forces officers linked to abuses against protesters, and one man allegedly responsible for the 2020 killing of a political analyst, Hisham Al-Hashem. The only police officer who was tried was sentenced to death in November for membership in the death squad.
On October 10, Iraqis voted for a new parliament with a turnout of only 36 percent. The movement of the prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr secured the largest number of seats in peaceful elections. Despite its role in bringing about the elections, the youth movement won only 15 seats as of the initial seat count in early December. Some youth leaders were too fearful or unable to run because they had to flee their homes, while many in the movement were apparently disheartened that they felt there was no point to vote.
Throughout 2021, the Kurdistan Regional Government pursued numerous cases against journalists for their writing. In February, the Erbil Criminal Court sentenced three journalists and two activists to six years in prison each in proceedings marred by serious fair trial violations as well as high-level political interference. The court rejected the defendants’ claims of torture and ill-treatment, citing a lack of evidence. Another journalist was sentenced to one year for alleged “misuse of his cell phone” and defamation charges in June and September. Another four activists and journalists were arrested in 2020 and sentenced to between one and two years on November 8. Kargar Abbas and Bandawar Ayub received one year and two months in prison, Sherwan Taha was sentenced to two years and three months in prison, and Masud Ali was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
“It is alarming to see Kurdistan authorities pursuing charges against people for protected speech and without any regard for the flawed nature of their trials,” Wille said. “By prosecuting these cases they are sending a clear signal to critical journalists to be silent.”
A second term for Mustafa?
The Iraqi government is corrupt at every level. That is the message that will send. That the corruption is embedded and that nothing will ever change it.
I want everyone to read over those previous three sentences.
I predicted the rise of ISIS here and I did it because I know rebellions, resistance and revolution. I studieed those at length in college -- under grad and grad school. I warned what was coming.
I pointed out that the Iraqi people had used the ballot box in 2010 to try to effect change and they were denied (Joe Biden brokered The Erbil Agreement that gave Nouri the second term the voters did not want him to have). Then the politicians stepped up and were going to defend the people -- that included Moqtada, credit where it is due. Joe Biden worked overtime to stop that as well. I pointed out that the Iraqi people would be taking to the streets and they did. And I said the next phase would be some armed revolt/attack on the Iraqi government. The conditions were there. The only thing you needed to tell the truth was an allergy to whoring.
I'm telling you right now that a government where the top three positions do not change despite the failures of the current government is going to have an impact. Already, the Speaker of Parliament has been named and he's the corrupt loser who held the position in the last Parliament. Now they're saying that the prime minister may also remain the same?
They're not trying to help the Iraqi people and while the western press ignores this reality, the Iraqi people do not.
Winding down, legend and icon Ronnie Spector has passed away.
The following sites updated: