Friday, December 30, 2022

What album am I looking forward to most in 2023?

I don't know everything that's coming out but, on January 27th, Carly Simon's LIVE AT GRAND CENTRAL STATION is coming out.

It'll be available on CD, vinyl and BLU RAY.  I had it years ago (1995) on VHS and that's all they offered then.  Carly's HBO concert became a 1988 album (GREATEST HITS LIVE) but this special (I believe for LIFETIME TV) did not. 

The water and the sea gulls help make the HBO special a great visual treat but I thought she dressed before for the Grand Central Station concert and I also liked the song selection better for that concert ("Jesse," for example). 

The vinyl album will be two discs.  Here are the tracks:

Side A
1. Touched By The Sun
2. Anticipation
3. I’ve Got To Have You
4. We Have No Secrets

Side B
5. Haven’t Got Time For The Pain
6. Jesse
7. That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be
8. Letters Never Sent

Side C
9. Legend In Your Own Time
10. De Bat (Fly In My Face)
11. Davy
12. Halfway Around The World

Side D
13. Like A River
14. Coming Around Again
15. Let The River Run

"Touched By The Sun," "I've Got To Have You," ''We Have No Secrets," "Jesse," "That's The Way I Always Heard It Should Be," "Letters Never Sent," "Legend In Your Own Time," "De Bat (Fly In My Face)," "Davy," "Halfway 'Round The World," "Like A River," "Haven't Got Time For The Pain" and "Let The River Run" are songs that she didn't perform for the HBO special (or weren't part of it -- she did two concert recordings for the HBO special).  So that's 13 live tracks of songs you can't get on her other live album (again, GREATEST HITS LIVE).

When the Grand Central concert aired (and was released on VHS), it didn't contain "Like A River," it featured only 14 song performances.  

So you get the hits "Coming Around Again" and "Anticipation" (both also performed on GREATEST HITS LIVE), and you get the hits "I've Got To Have You" (her second biggest hit in Australia -- "You're So Vain" is her biggest hit everywhere), "Jesse," "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," "Legend In Your Own Time," "Haven't Got Time For The Pain" and her Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy winning hit "Let The River Run."

Here's Carly performing "We Have No Secrets" from the Grand Central Station recording.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, December 29, 2022.  Tucker Carlson uses the airwaves again to promote lies and homophobia, other hate merchants fuel and fund his 'movement,' the alleged killer of an Iraqi journalist is named, and much more.

What's the Goop that's landed on Glenneth Greenwald's face?  I believe it's the last remaining bits of self-respect as his roll dog Tucker Carlson keeps pimping hate and homophobia.

Tucker Carlson’s big holiday treat for Fox Nation subscribers was a slew of fear-mongering and transphobic comments from Libs Of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik, who appeared for the first time on camera on Carlson’s Fox Nation show, and called the LGBTQ community a “cult” and pushed more bogus grooming claims about trans people. 

Raichik’s comments came near the end of her hour-long interview on Carlson’s daytime program on the Fox News streaming platform. It follwed a discussion about the “intel” Raichik claimed to have gathered on the kind of gender-affirming care offered to trans kids at Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. That had happened back in August — around the same time Boston Children’s Hospital faced a deluge of threats following misleading info shared by Libs of TikTok and other right-wing outlets — with Raichik claiming her surreptitiously recorded calls with two telephone operators at Children’s National proved the facility was giving hysterectomies to trans teenagers.    

  Children’s National quickly and easily debunked the calls, first noting that the two people Raichik spoke with were not actually people who “deliver care to our patients.” Additionally, a hospital spokesperson said, “We do not and have never performed gender-affirming hysterectomies for anyone under the age of 18.”

Nevertheless, the calls got a ton of play in conservative media circles, and Carlson was still fawning over them during his new interview with Raichik. “I assume the person who said that is not like a serial killer, or not an evil person,” Carlson said of the phone operators Raichik recorded, “but that’s so evil. What is going on here, do you have any theories?”

In response, Raichik said, “The LGBTQ community has become this cult and it’s so captivating, and it pulls people in so strongly, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. And they brainwash people to join and they convince them of all of these things, and it’s really, really hard to get out of it.”    

What followed was a discussion about gender-affirming care, which Raichik and Carlson reframed as a kind of sterilization based on this false belief that hospitals are providing procedures like hysterectomies to teenagers and children. The claim contradicts established guidelines from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which advise against gender-affirming surgery for children and adolescents. Such surgeries are somewhat rare even among adult transgender patients, and almost unheard of for children and minors. Medical guidelines advise prioritizing supportive care and work with mental health professionals for younger children, and the option to explore the use of puberty blockers for adolescents under the guidance of medical professionals.

This is outrageous and it comes at a time when LGBTQ+ persons are already being targeted.  It's a very dangerous climate.  Elizabeth Miller (OPB) reports:

A new survey of LGBTQ youth across the country finds 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in 2021, the year survey responses were collected. At the same time, 60% of youth who wanted mental health care were not able to get it.

The 2022 survey on LGBTQ youth mental health comes from The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and mental health organization.

In the three years since The Trevor Project started surveying LGBTQ youth, the percentage of respondents reporting symptoms of anxiety has increased. So has the percentage of youth who say they’ve considered suicide.

In addition to questions about mental health, the survey includes national data on the percentage of youth who report they have experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender. The survey also has figures on the impact of COVID-19 on their families.

In the hour-long interview, Raichik and Carlson discussed her since-debunked claim that certain children’s hospitals were performing hysterectomies on trans teenagers.

Carlson asked Raichik if she had any “theories” about what was going on with “evil” people who offer affirming care to minors.

Raichik replied: “The LGBTQ community has become this cult and it’s so captivating, and it pulls people in so strongly, unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

She went on to claim LGBTQ+ people “brainwash” others to “join” their movement and that it’s “really, really hard to get out of it”.

Raichik also referred to unnamed “studies” on parents who find they cannot stop their children from being trans or non-binary. 

Putting homophobes like her on TV is adding fuel to the fire in an already intensely violent climate in the US.  Justin Murphy (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE) reports:

Nearly half of LGBTQ people in the Rochester area feel at risk of verbal or physical attacks, according to recently released survey data.

According to the data:

  • 50% of LGBTQ people fear a verbal attack and 45% fear a physical attack
  • 63% know of a specific instance of discrimination, and 50% have witnessed one themselves
  • 50% believe discrimination against LGBTQ people is problem and 32% say it has worsened in the last few years; among non-LGBTQ people, 8% believe it is a problem and 16% believe it has worsened

"We know that words can turn deadly, as we saw with the horrific mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs last month,” Karen Elam, the Levine Center's executive director, said in a statement. “We are continuing to find that the responses to our survey underscore the fear that members of minority groups in our community are feeling.”

Club Q?  This month,  the House Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by US House Rep Carolyn Maloney, held a hearing entitled "The Rise of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism and Violence in the United States."  The hearing was held due to the rise in violence aimed at the LGBTQ+ community which includes last month's Club Q shooting.  The shooting left five people dead:

  • Daniel Davis Aston, 28
  • Kelly Loving, 40
  • Ashley Paugh, 35
  • Derrick Rump, 38
  • Raymond Green Vance, 22

The shooting also left twenty-five people injured.

Michael Anderson, James Slaugh and Matthew Haynes survived the shooting and they made up the first panel before the Committee. The second panel made up of Human Rights Campaign's Kelley Robinson, Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor Brandon Wolf, National Center for Transgender Equality's Oliva Hunt, Inside Out Youth Services' Jessie Pocock and The Williams Institute's Ilan Meyer.

It was amazing to watch the Republicans refuse to denounce the attacks on LGBTQ people and to try to turn the House of Representatives into the state of Florida under "Don't Say Gay" by refusing to even utter the term LGBTQ+.  Democrat Mondaire Jones noted the Republican silence.

US House Rep Mondaire Jones:  As I said on the floor of the House during the debate on the equality act [Respect for Marriage Act], to grow up poor, Black and gay is to not see yourself anywhere.  It is also to feel completely unseen as so many people around you invalidate your very existence.  Growing up, like many people in this room, I suspect, I watched as straight politicians -- many of them White, many of them men -- used my basic human rights as a political football to further their careers.  And now, as the first openly gay Black member in this body, I'm even more familiar with the vile, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that terrorizes our community and that somehow is even more harmful when it's aimed at queer people of color.  Let me also just say, to amplify what Representative Porter had discussed previously [see Friday's snapshot for that exchange] that I and people on my team have also reported many of these Twitter accounts that have hurled explicitly homophobic insults at me in particular and have received e-mails stating that they are not somehow in violation of Twitter's purported standards.  So clearly, there is something amiss at Twitter but I think many of us have known that now for the past few months given the leadership changes.  Many of us are scared for our lives and rightfully so.  LGBTQ Americans know that gay bars and clubs are our sanctuaries for our communities to gather without fear of being judged simply for being who they are.  So many of these spaces become second homes where we can  experience the full freedom to be ourselves.  Such was the case for me.  In my first year of law school, I was still closeted.  The gay bars of New York City were the only place I could be my authentic self and those spaces helped me to come out and to be the man -- the Congressman -- that I am today.  I cannot imagine my journey to self-acceptance and to understanding without these sanctuaries which are now under assault.  The horrific mass shootings at Pulse Nightclub and at Club Q create fear among LGBTQ Americans that gay bars and clubs -- these places of refuge for members of our community -- are no longer safe.  These attacks, along side other acts of violence, against our community and the growing chorus of hate and disinformation against LGBTQ people tell us that over the past few years, this country has become a more dangerous place for us to live unfortunately.  Even those who simply provide services essential to the physical and mental well being of members of our community are under attack.  Earlier this month, a doctor affiliated with The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center in Boston faced credible death threats for their role in providing gender affirming care to transgender youth.  The following day, The First Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus, Ohio was forced to cancel a family friendly holiday themed Drag Queen story telling event after far right extremists from the Proud Boys and the Patriot Front showed up to protest armed with AR 14s, dressed in military gear, chanting far right slogans and performing Nazi salutes.  When leaders across the country -- including sitting members of Congress -- are peddling age old hateful and false narratives about 'grooming' and pedophilia, these are the types of people who show up in response.  A recent Human Rights Campaign report found that as Florida state government enacted its discriminatory Don't Say Gay law, anti-LGBTQ misinformation surged by over  400% on social media platforms.  And worse, instead of condemning this deadly wave of misinformation and hate, members of this body have added fuel to the fire.  In October of this year, Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana introduced his own Don't Say Gay bill to amplify this hateful policy on a national scale and dozens of members of this body co-sponsored that legislation.  Shame on them.  If enacted, Mr. Johnson's heinous bill would, among other things, prohibit federally funded schools from providing sex education or library books to children under ten that include LGBTQ topics.  In doing so, his bill would send a message to LGBTQ children in the most vulnerable stage of their lives that they are an "other" whose very existence society refuses to recognize. It is hard, in closing, to listen to the stories of Club Q and Pulse Nightclub survivors and not be in awe of their bravery and resilience.  So I thank you for your courage.  I'm furious that our community is forced to live again and again with this pain but I am optimistic about the future of this country with your leadership.

It's amazing because the Republicans in Congress can say gay all they want when they're attacking LGBTQ+ people.  And they can trash them on the floor of Congress and cry like babies when it's time to vote The Respect for Marriage Act into law.  But when it's time to support and defend LGBTQ+ Americans?  Republican members of Congress go silent as US House Rep David Cicilline noted in the hearing.

US House Rep David Cicilline: Republicans are happy to discuss our community when they're attacking our rights, when they're crying on the House floor because they oppose marriage equality or when they releasing statements attacking our community in press releases and when they release new bills targeting our community.  But when it comes to actually discussing the violence against our community and its causes?  Just a quick condemnation of what happened at Club Q and violence broadly and nothing more.  In my view, this is shameful. 

And this is not a time for silence or for looking the other way.  At THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Mark Shenefelt offers "Utah sharpens data on hate crimes; LGBTQ people are top targets" and Ann Branigin (WASHINGTON POST) observes:

LGBTQ spaces — such as queer bars, community centers and gay-owned businesses — have long had to prioritize safety, especially in places where they historically could not rely on police to keep them safe.

Now, an old problem has reached a new level of urgency, business owners, performers and community leaders say. After a year where anti-LGBTQ attacks have intensified across the country, many gay and trans communities are rethinking how to best protect themselves.

Several national organizations have launched new initiatives aimed at strengthening defenses; local businesses have stepped up safety trainings for staff; and individuals are seeking classes and resources for de-escalating attacks.

For LGBTQ business owners, safety is “the number one issue. Period. Hands down. By a mile,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Safety efforts are complicated by the many forms these threats have taken, advocates, performers and researchers said. At school board meetings, protesters have accused teachers and officials of promoting a “gender ideology” and “grooming” children for abuse. Extremists have threatened children’s hospitals. Members of the Patriot Front, a white supremacist group, were arrested in June for plotting a riot at a Pride event. In statehouses across the country, lawmakers filed scores of bills aimed at curbing the rights of LGBTQ educators, youth and families.

In our recent analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, we found that the odds of being a violent hate crime victim for LGBTQ people was nine times greater than it was for cisgender and straight people from 2017 to 2019.

There were an average annual 6.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 LGBTQ people during this three year period.

In contrast, there were 0.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 cisgender and straight people.

At this month's House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney pointed out:

The violence that took place at Club Q follows years of long efforts by some state lawmakers to erase LGBTQ+ people from school curriculum, limit their access to healthcare and undermine their ability to fully participate in society.  Now state lawmakers are not alone.  They're have been many actions here in Congress pushing the same kind of draconian, extremist policies.  For example, more than 30 House Republicans introduced their own version of Florida's "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law which would restrict federal funding for schools that include LGBTQ+ people in their curriculum.  

And it goes beyond erasing them from the curriculum.  The attacks are rooted in the desire to erase LGBTQ+ persons from the world.  And to pretend that they have not existed historically.  The most powerful African-American in DC following the end of the Civil War was William Dorsey Swann who didn't hide in fear but identified himself as the queen of drag and held drag parties in DC.  Arrests didn't send him running.  He fought for the rights of LGBTQs -- especially for the guaranteed right of Freedom of Assembly.  Jon Sims  (THE PAPER) notes the history within the Indigenous community in North America:

Interestingly enough, the Indigenous LGBTQ community is pretty large and active. For generations, our communities included these individuals in our lives without issue. We’wha, the well-known “two-spirit” individual from Zuni Pueblo, is an excellent example of this. These are people in our communities since day one. 

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), StrongHearts Native Helpline (StrongHearts), and the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center (AKNWRC) explained this beautifully in their publication Reconnecting with Native Teachings and Creating Healing Spaces with and for 2S+/LGBTQ+ Victim-Survivors of Domestic Violence. “Because of colonization and the church/missions, older generations have forgotten the roles of 2-spirited relatives within our communities. So our way of supporting our LGBTQ relatives is reintroducing those teachings and roles that our grandparents may have forgotten.”

Mattee adds, “Even within tribal communities too, some are more accepting than others. How does that also look with community members? How do we address those issues? How do we reteach our people? Not hearing the word “f**got” or “queer”; or “they’re disgusting.” That’s growth. “Don’t be queer.” Stuff like that, that’s where the hate teaching that’s coming from. And it still happens to this day. Even transphobic jokes and homophobic jokes. We have always been part of this community, Not even as people like to say “two-spirit,” that idea of gender, that’s not our tradition. Physical gender wasn’t as important as the roles that a person played in the community.

The Bible is often used to condemn the LGBTQIA+ community. The specific verses used to further homophobic and transphobic agendas have come to be known as the “Clobber Verses.”  However, these verses aren’t actually saying what many people think they are saying.

Biblical marriage

For example, when people condemn same-sex marriage in favor of “Biblical marriage,” they are ignoring the many and diverse examples of marriage that are found in the Bible. In actuality, the Bible endorses monogamous marriages between one male and one female in addition to polygamy, sexual slavery, incest, and forced marriage to virgins…and God even blesses all these varieties of marriage.

Another example is this: just because two genders are mentioned in the creation stories does not mean that only two genders exist. God created man and woman in Genesis 2, just like God created day and night in Genesis 1.  However, the time of the day is not just two things; it’s actually a spectrum that includes things like dawn, midday, dusk and twilight. Similarly, gender is a spectrum that includes things like people who are trans and nonbinary.

Lost in translation

In modern translations of the Bible, Leviticus seems to condemn homosexual activity. However, the Hebrew words used to write scripture have much more nuanced meanings than can be conveyed in one quick, easy translation. When you look at these scriptures in their original linguistic and cultural contexts, you can see that Leviticus is specifically condemning sexual activity that involves incest.

In the same way, what we read in 1 Timothy seems to condemn homosexual activity.  But when we go back to the scripture in its original Greek form, we can see that it is talking about sexual acts that are coercive in nature (specifically pederasty and rape) rather than sexual acts that occur between two consensual adults of the same gender.

In Romans, Paul is writing against unbridled passions as opposed to stable, appropriately utilized desires within committed relationships.  In 1 Corinthians, he’s responding to the patriarchy and pederasty that existed in that society.

Of course, all of these examples are much more complicated than what can be explained in such a brief piece of writing, but the important thing to remember when reading the Bible is that we are reading a translation of what was originally written. Throughout time and through the process of translation, the meaning of the Bible as we know it today has lost much of what the original authors actually intended.

[. . .]

The Bible also tells us that all people are made in the image of God. This means that when you are looking at another individual, you are looking at a reflection of God…even if you are looking at an individual who is queer or trans.

You will never look upon a person who is not one of God’s beloveds. So the next time one of us feels like we have something hateful or hurtful to share with someone, I would like to encourage us to remember whose we are talking to.

The hate doesn't just happen.  It's fueled.  LGBTQ NATION spoke with journalist Imara Jones ("The sequel to her award-winning podcast The Anti-Trans Hate Machine drops in March") about the funding of this movement:

LGBTQ Nation: And how about the DeVos/Prince clan itself?

IJ: When we say the DeVos family, we’re talking about the fusion of two billionaire families into one. Betsy DeVos was born Betsy Prince into the really wealthy Prince family. And then she married Richard DeVos. It’s actually a giant clan, a billionaire clan. And there is not a far-right organization, and in many cases designated hate groups, who exist without the largess of that family. Betsy DeVos, or Betsy Prince and her husband, Richard DeVos are the second generation in this billionaire kind of clan.

Richard DeVos’ father, for example, was extremely important to the founding of the Heritage Foundation. The Prince family, which is Betsy DeVos, helped to fund the headquarters of the Family Research Council, which is designated by the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] as a hate group. And they’ve been involved in so many far-right organizations throughout the decades. And so what you have here in this second generation is kind of a sophistication of their operation and particularly in Betsy Prince, this kind of fusion of strategy, of money and a whole host of other things.

LGBTQ Nation: How does that manifest itself?

IJ: So this family is kind of the royal family of the Christian nationalist movement. And they set the example for how to move money throughout the right wing for all of the other really wealthy families. They participated in an annual gathering of Christian nationalist billionaires called The Gathering, in which Betsy DeVos is on tape coaching them in terms of how, as a wealthy person in this far-right movement, you move money to other things, and encouraging them to do so. There is religious extremism in their views, which is what’s driving a lot of this.

As well, all of the Trump administration’s anti-trans policies came out of the DeVos Center for Family and Religion that’s housed in the Heritage Foundation. People were moved from that center into the Trump administration where they began to disseminate these policies. I think that we have to keep in mind that Betsy DeVos is just the most visible person of this large, far-right billionaire clan that has been active for over 40 years.

It takes a lot of money to fund a hate movement.  Look at Iraq where the 'powerful' fundamentalist cleric and cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr has returned to attacking LGBTQ+ people in an attempt to regain his lost power.  Without big money behind him, he struggles.  He and Betsy DeVos share hatred for the human race but he doesn't have her money so he struggles to get his hate parade marching.  He's not able -- so far -- to really destroy history and erase reality.

Michael Anderson survived the Club Q shooting.  He testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee this month:

To my fellow LGBTQ community, events like this are designed to discourage us from speaking and living our truth.  They are designed to scare us from living openly, courageously and proudly.  We must not succumb to fear, we must live prouder and louder than ever before.  We must continue to be who we are, for who we are is exactly who we are meant to be.  And to the children watching this, feeling you may not be like other kids:  I understand you and I see you.  You deserve to be exactly who you are, no matter what anyone has to say.  In the words of my personal gay icon Christina Aguilera, you are beautiful no matter what they say.  Words can't bring you down, so don't let them bring you down today.

Betsy DeVos and others pretend they care about children.  They have to ignore the reality that those under 18 include LGBTQ+ persons because they know they're not helping those children at all.  They're trying to intimidate and bully with the goal of wiping out a whole swath of people who are just trying to live their lives in an alleged democracy.  They are hate merchants attempting to become death merchants.

And in Iraq, there is news in the October murder of journalist Nagihan Akarsel.   First for background, from Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the murder of Nagihan Akarsel, a Kurdish magazine editor and influential feminist advocate, who was gunned down outside her home in Iraqi Kurdistan on 4 October, becoming the fifth Kurdish person of Turkish origin or critic of the Turkish government to be attacked in this autonomous region in northern Iraq in the past year.

“We are appalled by the murder of this Kurdish feminist journalist and writer, perpetrated at a time when Kurdish women are leading a revolt for women's liberation,” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “This is the fifth attack – four of them fatal – on a resident of Turkish origin or outspoken critic of the Turkish government in Iraqi Kurdistan in less than a year. We call on the local authorities to do everything possible to shed light on this murder, bring those responsible to trial, and render justice to Nagihan Akarsel.”

A journalist and academic of Turkish origin, Akarsel was gunned down on the morning of Tuesday 4 October outside her home in Sulaymaniyah, the city in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan where she had lived for the past three years. After her body was taken to the city’s institute for forensic medicine, the Asayish – the Kurdistan Regional Government’s security forces – issued a statement in the evening reporting that her attacker had been arrested and was being investigated.

Akarsel co-edited Jineologî, a magazine dedicated to the “science of women,” which regards women’s individual liberation as a pre-condition for society’s liberation. She was also well known for her research on women, both abroad and in Kurdistan, and she had helped to found the Academy of Jineology in Iraqi Kurdistan. After studying journalism at the University of Ankara, she worked for the magazine Hevia Jin. She also did sociological research in the regions of Afrin and Sinjar (Shingal in Kurdish).

“We will forever remember Nagihan Akarsel, who has been working for decades to create the mental and intellectual power of the women’s revolution, whose slogan Jin-Jiyan-Azadî ["Women-Life-Freedom"] echoes around the world today,” the magazine Jineologî said in a statement. Referring to Mahsa Amini, the Kurdish woman who died in custody in Iran last month after being arrested by the morality police, the magazine added: “Against the same mentality of patriarchal fascism that brutally murdered Jîna Aminî, we are growing the women’s revolution in all of Kurdistan and beyond.” 

Other Kurdish feminist groups, including Network Women Weaving (an international women’s solidarity network founded at the initiative of Kurdish women) and university academics have condemned Akarsel’s murder, accusing Turkey’s intelligence agencies of orchestrating it.

Akarsel is the fourth Kurdish dissident of Turkish origin to be murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan since September 2021. 

The shooter of Nagihan Akarsel, a Kurdish feminist academic and founding member of the Sulaymaniyah-based Jineolojî Academy, was identified as Ankara-born İsmail Peker on 25 December, reported Mezopotamya News Agency.

Security forces in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) arrested several suspects on 7 October during the investigation into the killing of Akarsel, who was shot dead on 6 October. However, they did not make the identity of the suspected assailants public.

One week later, on 12 October, Voice of America (VOA) shared a video of a man who was said to be the Turkish assassin who killed Akarsel, then deleted the video shortly after it was uploaded.

Sources in Sulaymaniyah told Medya News of their own suspicions that the pressure came from officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Turkish embassy.

The same day, statements appeared by Ali Rıza Güney, Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, who said that Turkish forces were behind the assassinations of activists in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Member Zübeyir Aydar spoke to Stêrk TV on 25 December regarding the assassination and made public the identity of the hitman’s name as İsmail Peker, who was born in Turkey’s capital Ankara.

“This person [İsmail Peker] is already a criminal, he has already confessed himself. We have the information that he confessed,” said Aydar. “In his statement, the suspect says, ‘I came for this [to kill Akarsel], they [Turkey] gave me money’. In other words, they organised a plan and sent him there.”

If indeed true, this would be yet another reason for the Iraqi government to immediately expel all Turkish troops in Iraq and to shut down Turkey's illegal military bases in Iraq.  The world has allowed the government of Turkey to carry out a Kurdish genocide while going along with the pretense that Turkey is just attempting to combat terrorism.

The following sites updated:

  • Thursday, December 29, 2022

    I think Jeffrey St Clair needed to do a disclosure

    At COUNTERPUNCH, Jeffrey St. Clair has done a film round up for the year.   One section needs to be noted:

    Only one film tempted me to return to an actual cinema this year: Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling. But by the time I’d recovered from being flattened by Covid, it had been chased out of the theaters by an inexplicably hostile critical reaction, characterized by a kind of collective misogyny, reiterating in real-time one of the key themes of the picture.. And that’s really too bad, because not only does Don’t Worry Darling deliciously dissect the fantasies of our current Brotopia (here’s another clue for you all, the chief walrus is Jordan Peterson), it’s also an intensely sensual film, lusciously shot and propelled by one of the best, some might say seductive, soundtracks in years. Still the critical fury generated enough interest that Wilde’s movie made its money back and then some, which is more than can be said for the critical yawn that sank the subtle film She Said, a more exacting exploration of how investigative journalism works than either All the President’s Men or The Paper. (One is tempted to speculate that it was precisely this kind of sustained critical indifference–or outright rancor–to her own films that drove Chantal Ackerman to suicide at the age of 65, which can hardly be ameliorated by the belated recognition of Jeanne Dielman.)

    There is so much wrong with that.  The "movie made its money back and then some."  No, Jeffrey, it didn't.  I asked C.I. about that.  The film basically made $45 in North America and $41 in the rest of the world.  The shooting budget was 86 million.  Another forty million was spent promoting the film.  So without factoring in the negatives and other issues, it didn't make back it's money. Also grasp, as Ava and C.I. have tried to educate people on, ticket sales do not 100% go to the studio.  They have to split it with the theaters.  The first weekend is when the studio get the largest share of the ticket sales.  With each week, the studio gets a smaller and smaller percentage of the ticket sales.  North America ticket sales are better for the studio because they're not having to pay costs that add up when you release a film overseas.  

    The very bad rip off of THE STEPFORD WIVES was not a hit.  It bombed.  

    But here's the other thing.


    Jeffrey created that with Alexander Cockburn.  He continues to publish Patrick Cockburn's writing (that's the late Alexander Cockburn's brother) and he also publishes Andrew Cockburn (Patrick and Alex's brother).  Do you see the problem?

    If not, follow me a minute: Andrew Cockburn is Olivia Wilde's father -- Alex was her uncle and Patrick is her uncle.  

    If he's going to lavish praise on that awful film, he needs to do a disclosure along the lines of "Olivia Wilde is . . ." also making time to note that he has known Olivia for many years.  

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

    Wednesday, December 28, 2022.  As Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange, the cries around the world to free Julian grow stronger. 

    Starting with this from WSWS:

    On December 2, Deanna “Violet” Coco was jailed for briefly holding up one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on April 13 to protest governments’ refusal to halt climate change.

    In a serious attack on basic democratic rights, Coco was initially sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment, with at least eight months without parole, and denied bail. She was the first to be sentenced under laws introduced by the New South Wales (NSW) state Liberal-National government to impose fines of up to $22,000 and jail terms of up to two years for protests on roads, rail lines, tunnels, bridges and industrial estates.

    NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet personally hailed the ruling, stating that protestors who “put our way of life at risk … should have the book thrown at them and that’s pleasing to see.” Echoing Perrottet, NSW Labor Party leader Chris Minns said he did not regret supporting the new laws. Labor governments in other states have adopted similar anti-protest laws, explicitly designed to protect business interests.

    Coco appealed her sentence and was subsequently released on bail on December 13. At least a dozen other activists face imprisonment under the laws. One spent nearly four weeks in prison before being bailed on charges of organising protests after a massive police raid on a rural property near Sydney. WSWS reporters spoke with Coco last week about her protest and the precedent set by her jailing. 

    [. . .]

    WSWS: You’ve previously mentioned your support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Could you speak about what you think of his persecution and the connection with these laws?

    VC: Julian Assange is a hero. WikiLeaks was a brave act of exposing the truth. It is clear he is being made an example of. It’s unjust. Julian needs to be brought home now.

    It’s very concerning when people doing the right thing face state repression. There have been three other climate protestors in Australia jailed for peaceful protests this year. They were sentenced to three months’ jail, and they got out on bail. People need to be really careful about what is going on in Australia right now. Tim Curry and Max Cerny were jailed for disrupting Port Botany, under disrupting infrastructure laws. Andrew George was sentenced to three months for invading a football field and setting off a flare. I was really shocked.

    This is also a global trend, with 20 activists being held in remand prison in the UK for five weeks now. This was for discussing organising a protest on a zoom call.

    We cannot let this scare us into inaction though because climate breakdown will be way worse than anything they can throw at us, and we have so little time left to make a difference, that we must act now.

    WSWS: In 2010 when the persecution of Assange began, we said that this was going to be used as a precedent. The attack on Assange was not just on him or even WikiLeaks but any journalists, or any workers who wished to oppose the trade union bureaucracy, or the companies, or the government and that the implications of this would be felt all around the world.

    VC: It’s true, people have warned me not to stand up against the ruling class because they have a monopoly on violence and dominance. It’s easy for them to commit such an attack on our freedom, or worse... However, it’s just too important of an issue to be silent. Also, remember, we are stronger together. 

    US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian and, for those who've forgotten, Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

    A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
    Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

    The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
    The new logs detail how:
    US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

    A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
    More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

    The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat

    The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.

    The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”.

    But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.

    Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press.

    Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution.

    Is part of that push a former prime minister of Australia?  Matthew Knott (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) reports:

    Supporters of Julian Assange have welcomed Kevin Rudd’s appointment as Australia’s ambassador to the United States, saying they are hopeful he will use the position to press the Biden administration to drop espionage charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

    Assange remains in London’s Belmarsh prison in London as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face charges over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents and diplomatic cables relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    As far back as 2010, when he was serving as foreign minister, Rudd had insisted that the US government and whoever leaked the documents should be held responsible for the disclosure rather than Assange.

    In a 2019 letter to the Bring Julian Assange Home Queensland Network, Rudd said Assange would pay an “unacceptable” and “disproportionate” price if he was extradited to the US.

    Rudd said he could not see the difference between Assange’s actions and the editors of American media outlets who reported the material, adding that the US had failed to secure classified information appropriately.

    “The result was the mass leaking of sensitive diplomatic cables, including some that caused me some political discomfort at the time,” he wrote.

    “However, an effective life sentence is an unacceptable and disproportionate price to pay. I would therefore oppose his extradition.”

    Prime Minister Anthony Albanese appointed Rudd to the nation’s most prestigious diplomatic posting on Tuesday, saying he would “conduct himself in a way that brings great credit to Australia”.

    Anton Nilsson (CRIKEY) points out, "Julian Assange’s family is feeling cautiously optimistic about the appointment of Kevin Rudd a Australia’s US ambassador. Rudd has vocally supported the jailed Wikileaks founder despite being humiliated by some of the material he published."

    On June 17, 2022, the United Kingdom approved Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States to face charges, primarily under the nation’s Espionage Act, for releasing US government records that revealed the US military committed war crimes against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the killing of two Reuters journalists. If found guilty, Assange faces a jail term of up to 175 years.

    The IFJ is gravely concerned about the impact of Assange’s continued detention on media freedom and the rights of all journalists globally. The US pursuit of Assange against the public’s right to know poses a grave threat to the fundamental tenets of democracy, which are becoming increasingly fragile worldwide. Irrespective of personal views on Assange, his extradition will have a chilling effect, with all journalists and media workers at risk.

    The case sets a dangerous precedent that members of the media, in any country, can now be targeted by governments, anywhere in the world, to answer for publishing information in the public interest. 

    Wikileaks was awarded the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism in 2011, an annual prize to reward excellence in Australian journalism, in recognition of the impact of WikiLeaks’ actions on public interest journalism by assisting whistle-blowers to tell their stories. Whistle-blowers have since been utilised by other media outlets to expose global tax avoidance schemes, among other stories. 

    The sentence of Chelsea Manning, who collaborated with Assange to release the contentious material, was commuted by President Barack Obama. None of WikiLeaks’ media partners have been charged in any US government legal proceeding because of their collaboration with Assange. Aside from the dire implications for press freedom, there is also no legal criterion for Assange’s extradition and charges.

    The IFJ is calling on the United States government to drop all charges against Julian Assange and allow him to return home to be with his wife and children. The IFJ is also calling on all media unions, press freedom organisations and journalists to urge governments to actively work to secure Assange’s release. #FreeAssangeNOW

    U.S. persecution of Assange horrifies the world. Brazil’s president-elect Luis Inacio Lula da Silva urged on November 29 that Assange be freed from his “unjust imprisonment,” which would mean that this abomination, this so-called legal case should be dropped. Colombian president Gustavo Petro met with Wikileaks and pledged on social media November 22 to “ask President Biden…not to charge a journalist just for telling the truth.” The leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua have also called for freeing Assange. Previously, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador on two occasions petitioned Biden on Assange’s behalf. Even Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese on November 30 urged the U.S. to stop its chase of Canberra’s citizen, Assange.

    This may be the most significant plea, because Australia is an ally that almost never bucks the U.S., while the other aforementioned countries are all headed by leftists, to whom Washington might be disinclined to listen. So something could well be in the wind. But still, Albanese’s request could be met with the same resounding silence as greeted those of the Latin American leaders. Following in Trump’s footsteps, Biden has so far enabled the atrocious abuse heaped on the Wikileaks founder by the U.S. government, so it is unlikely these protests from mere heads of state will deter him from letting that obscenity under which Assange is charged, the Espionage Act, run its course. Fortunately, Assange has taken action to get his unjust treatment heard in another venue. On December 2, he filed an appeal against the decision to extradite him to the U.S. And he filed it in the European Court of Human Rights. His supporters eagerly await the verdict, even if the Exceptional Empire ignores one that contradicts its wishes.

    Joe Biden,  the world is watching you.  This will determine your legacy.  Will history remember you as someone who supported democracy, the public's right to know and a free press?  Or will history see you as just another huge disappointment, a liar who mouthed a bunch of meaningless words but never provided any real leadership?

    Turning to Iraq, THE ARAB WEEKLY notes:

    Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani is facing pressure from forces within the Coordination Framework to reconsider his country’s strategic agreement with the United States, at a time when he needs good relations with the US administration and wants to avoid unnecessary turbulence with Washington.

    At the same time,  he must take into consideration the position of the Coordination Framework, a coalition of pro-Iranian formations providing him with political support especially in parliament,

    Iraq and the United States signed a strategic framework agreement in 2008, which included a number of provisions regulating the presence of US forces in the country, as well as bolstering cooperation in economic, cultural and political fields.

    And then there's ISIS which also isn't going anywhere.  It was not vanquished in 2014.  The terrorist organization remains in Iraq continuing to stage attacks. SKY NEWS stumbles into reality this week as they slack-jawed observe, "While it no longer controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State remains a threat and will seek to spring 10,000 of its fighters from Syrian prisons in 2023, experts say."  This as RUDAW notes:

    A spokesperson for the Iraqi army on Monday revealed that they had killed over 200 Islamic State (ISIS) fighters only in 2022.

    Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesperson for the Joint Operations Command, told Rudaw on Monday that “the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq is low and those existing are Iraqis." He added that the group has exploited the security gas between the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in disputed areas.

    The following sites updated: