Monday, December 12, 2022

Golden Globe nominees

Too much going to streamers.  

Tom Cruise didn't get nominated.  No surprise there.  He gave the same performance he's done his entire career.  Julia Roberts was nominated for GASLIT.  I would applaud that.  Feel Michelle Pfeiffer should have been nominated for FIRST LADY as well.

I think most of the nominations are pure stupidity.  America's already turned its back on BANSHEES OF INISHEREN.  Probably the only thing that can get Colin Farrell a nomination at this point is coming out.  (Oh, come on, we all know about the thruple and about his sex tape -- that's just him and another guy.)  He was inflated like crazy in the '00s and he never delivered.  He's good now in small parts, like AVA, but he can't carry a film -- not at the box office and not with the story.

There's not one woman nominated for best director.  Did you notice that?  Sarah Polley is nominated for Best Screenplay for WOMEN TALKING but not for directing it.

Rather sad.  Especially when they're nominating Steven Spielberg for THE FABELMANS -- despite the "Jewface" issue that Sarah Silverman's been complaining about for some time (when non-ethnic Jews are portraying Jewish people -- such as Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Julia Butters, etc).  And despite the fact that the film is leaving audiences cold. It's been in wide release since Thanksgiving and has still only made $6 million in domestic ticket sales.  It's a flop.  

I would have liked to have seen BROS get a nomination -- best comedy, best script, best song, anything.  But it got nothing.  

Who will be nominated for Best Actor for the Academy Award?  That's what we were guessing at work.  Using the five nominated for a Golden Globe for drama and the five nominated for comedy or musical, these are my five picks.

Hugh Jackman (THE SON)

Brendan Fraser (THE WHALE)


Austin Butler (ELVIS) 


Those are my five picks.

For best actress at the AAs?  Again, pulling from the list of GG nominees for best actress in a drama and in a comedy or musical.

Cate Blanchett (TAR)

Viola Davis (THE WOMAN KING)



Olivia Colman (EMPIRE OF LIGHT)


Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot;"


Monday, December 12, 2022.  Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange, another Twitter dump, a fresh call for all US forces out of Iraq, and much more.

PROJECT CENSORED has released it's annual look at the press, STATE OF THE FREE PRESS 2023.  At RANDOM LENTH NEWS, Paul Rosenberg notes the 10 most censored stories and we'll zoom in on number eight:

8) CIA Discussed Plans to Kidnap or Kill Julian Assange

The CIA seriously considered plans to kidnap or assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in late 2017, according to a September 2021 Yahoo News investigation, based on interviews with more than 30 former U.S. officials, eight of whom detailed U.S. plans to abduct Assange and three of whom described the development of plans to kill him. If it had been up to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, they almost certainly would have been acted on, after WikiLeaks announced it had obtained a massive tranche of files  —  dubbed “Vault 7”  —  from the CIA’s ultra-secret hacking division, and posted some of them online.

In his first public remarks as Donald Trump’s CIA director, “Pompeo devoted much of his speech to the threat posed by WikiLeaks” Yahoo News noted, “Rather than use the platform to give an overview of global challenges or to lay out any bureaucratic changes he was planning to make at the agency.” He even called it “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” a designation intended to grant the CIA wide latitude in what actions it took, while shielding it from congressional oversight.

“Potential scenarios proposed by the CIA and Trump administration officials included crashing into a Russian vehicle carrying Assange in order to grab him, shooting the tires of an airplane carrying Assange in order to prevent its takeoff, and engaging in a gun battle through the streets of London,” Project Censored summarized. “Senior CIA officials went so far as to request ‘sketches’ or ‘options’ detailing methods to kill Assange.”

“WikiLeaks was a complete obsession of Pompeo’s,” a former Trump administration national security official told Yahoo News. “After Vault 7, Pompeo and [Deputy CIA Director Gina] Haspel wanted vengeance on Assange.” It went so far that “Pompeo and others at the agency proposed abducting Assange from the embassy and surreptitiously bringing him back to the United States via a third country  —  a process known as rendition,” they reported. (Assassination entered the picture later on.) Since it would take place in Britain, there had to be agreement from them. “But the British said, ‘No way, you’re not doing that on our territory, that ain’t happening,’” a former senior counterintelligence official told Yahoo News.

There was also push-back from National Security Council, or NSC lawyers and the Department of Justice, which wanted to put Assange on trial. But the CIA continued to push for capturing or killing Assange. Trump’s “NSC lawyers were bulwarks against the CIA’s potentially illegal proposals, according to former officials,” Yahoo News reported, but the CIA’s own lawyers may have been kept in the dark. “When Pompeo took over, he cut the lawyers out of a lot of things,” a former senior intelligence community attorney told them. “Pompeo’s ready access to the Oval Office, where he would meet with Trump alone, exacerbated the lawyers’ fears. [The NSC’s top lawyer John] Eisenberg fretted that the CIA director was leaving those meetings with authorities or approvals signed by the president that Eisenberg knew nothing about, according to former officials.”

“US plans to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange have received little to no establishment news coverage in the United States, other than scant summaries by Business Insider and The Verge, and tangential coverage by Reuters, each based on the original Yahoo News report,” Project Censored notes. “Among US independent news outlets, Democracy Now! featured an interview with Michael Isikoff, one of the Yahoo News reporters who broke the story, and Jennifer Robinson, a human rights attorney who has been advising Julian Assange and WikiLeaks since 2010. Rolling Stone and The Hill also published articles based on the original Yahoo News report.”

Julian Assange remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden.  Last week, Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reported:

Press freedom and rights organizations on Thursday expressed "grave concern" about the Biden administration's "relentless pursuit" of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian who is jailed in London while he fights against extradition to the United States.

"It is more than a year since our coalition sent a joint letter calling for the charges against Assange to be dropped," 21 groups wrote to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. "Today, we repeat those concerns, and urge you to heed our request. We believe that the prosecution of Assange in the U.S. would set a harmful legal precedent and deliver a damaging blow to press freedom by opening the way for journalists to be tried under the Espionage Act if they receive classified material from whistleblowers."

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.

Turning to the topic of Twitter -- where Tweets are supposed to pass for reporting -- Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) weighed in Friday:

+ I’d like to see someone leak the Bari Weiss Files on Matt Taibbi’s new partner’s ceaseless campaign to get Joseph Massad fired from Columbia University.

+ According to Business Insider, Musk has provided the anti-Palestinian zealot Bari Weiss access to Twitter’s employee systems, added to its Slack, and given a company laptop, a level of access to Twitter systems  typically reserved only for staff…

+ CounterPunch wasn’t just “shadow banned” on Twitter, we went into total eclipse. For more than a year our followers remained static or declined. We couldn’t even attract bots, Russian or porn. Its editor’s Twitter account (mine) was permanently locked. But there’s never been a single inquiry about this or any other suppressed Leftwing, animal rights, radical green, Occupy Wall Street or pro-Palestinian Twitter account. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the narrative Musk, Taibbi and Weiss want to project. This isn’t about free speech–how could it possibly be when an apex blacklister is in charge of determining what is & isn’t a blacklist?

+ Bari may not know much, but she knows blacklists…

+ Amid the hundreds of rightwing (and neo-Nazi) accounts being
restored, I don’t know of any accounts associated with the Left or pro-Palestinian accounts, like Stanley Cohen’s, having been resurrected or are likely to be with Weiss calling the shots. Yet, the account of Andrew Anglin, editor of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, is back up and running.

+ Looking forward to two-plus years of Congressional hearings over Hunter Biden dick picks, with expert commentary from men’s shower monitor Jim Jordan and Lauren Boebert (spouse of a convicted flasher).  Brace yourself, CSPAN!

+ MAGA accusing Sebastian Gorka of being part of a Deep State cover up  is the best thing to come out of Laptopgate. Well done, Matt Taibbi!

+ Taibbi, who once blamed the excesses of his own satirical writings in The eXile on his heroin usage, rummaging around in the pilfered files of a drug addict and claiming a major exposé, doesn’t demonstrate much addict-to-addict solidarity…

+ The eXile was one of the best magazines to emerge in the 90s. The problem wasn’t the satirical pieces–worthy of Paul Krassner–but Taibbi’s cowardly renouncement of them–and blaming his partner Mark Ames, all to curry favor with people he once rightly despised and ridiculed.

+ Instead of Hunter Thompson, Taibbi’s morphed into David Horowitz…

+ Taibbi likes to think of himself as a “muckraker,” but I can’t think of a single “muckraker” agreeing to secret conditions set by the richest tech mogul in the world to run a story based solely on documents given to him by the same tech lord to be run on that very tech lord’s site. It sure ain’t the way IF Stone did it.

+ Over to you, Dr. Jung…

+ When the principle condition of the conditions constraining your reporting is that you don’t name the conditions, you’ve got a problem. You don’t know what the full story is if you’re only printing what your clearly biased source has given you. This is exactly what Judith Miller did with Curveball. Except it’s worse because in this case your source owns the means of publication and requires it to be published there.

+ Mark Ames: “All Musk’s fanboys on this wretched site want nothing more than to cancel their s**tlib-enemies’ accounts, you constantly see them snitching and tagging their Hero, just as libs did to them. No principle here, just a buncha snitches riding the oligarchy’s dopamine rollercoaster…”

The first reporter to take a Twitter dump still hasn't managed to write a report but, last Friday, he took another Twitter dump.  This time on how Donald Trump was banned from Twitter.

An editor at TIME pointed out to me why the reporter keeps taking dumps on Twitter and avoiding writing an actual report -- the minute he writes a report he either gets honest or stops being seen as a journalist.  To write an actual report requires explaining exactly what terms you agreed to.  Failure to do so would make it clear you were no longer practicing journalism.  (Yes, Virginia, there is a line between journalism and public relations.)  


We like to point out here that Bully Boy Bush was in the White House when Brookings identified the disputed areas as one of the hotspots for future violence.  And that nothing was ever done even though Article 140 of Iraq's Constitution mandated that the disputed areas be resolved by the end of 2007.  For those who don't get it, RUDAW reports:

Dozens of resettled Arabs on Wednesday attacked Kurdish farmers in Daquq district of Kirkuk province after ploughing on their land. Two farmers were injured. Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani called on the Iraqi government to put an end such attacks. 

Disputes over land ownership between Arabs, resettled to areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad by the Baathist regime, and Kurdish farmers have existed for years, often causing violence. 

Abdulqadir Mohammed, a Kurdish farmer in Daquq, told Rudaw’s Hardi Mohammed on Wednesday that dozens of resettled Arabs had been ploughing on his land for three days with the alleged support of the Iraqi army. He said that when they tried to stop them, the resettled Arabs attacked with stones and guns. 

Mohammed said he has all necessary documents to prove the ownership of the land. 

DEUTSCHE WELLE interviews Salam Omer about covering the disputed areas:

#mediadev spoke to Salam Omer, editor-in-chief of KirkukNow, a news outlet based in Kirkuk in Northern Iraq. Launched in 2011, it is the only specialised media platform for citizens in Iraq's disputed territories.

#mediadev: Mr. Omer, your media outlet works in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious context. Who is your audience?

Salam Omer: We cover the disputed territories of Northern Iraq, located north of a line dividing the whole country from Syria to Iran. Our primary audience is the population of these areas: Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Christians, Yezidis etc.

In addition to news in these areas, what do you focus on in your reporting?

Our priorities are topics across the country related to freedom of expression, press freedom and groups like women, internally displaced people (IDPs), or the LGBT community. We reach around two million people across all platforms.

What are the main challenges in your work?  

I have to look at three things on a daily basis: Are we secure? Do we have enough money? Do we have access to information? And all that depends on the ruling party, the ruling militia. That's the biggest challenge for us. Other media organizations, the mainstream media, belong to a political party. They have access to information, access to public oil money and they are safe. We don't have anything. We believe in the rule of law, that's the starting point for us.

You must face a lot of criticism for your work. How do you deal with it?

It is a challenge. At the beginning, we were attacked by almost all sides. For example, we published an article on the Kurds, and the next day, people suggested that we were financed by Arabs and Turkmens. The week after, someone else got upset. We built relationships with everyone to always have a channel of dialogue. We needed a lot of time to prove that an independent, impartial media platform can function. That needs work. And dedication.  

In other news, MEHR NEWS AGENCY reports on a fresh call for US forces to leave Iraq:

Following the withdrawal of American forces, there would be no trace of ISIL in Iraq, Qasim al-Kariti, commander of the PMU's 41st Brigade said.

Criticizing the sabotage and obstruction of the Americans in the fight against terrorism in Iraq, Al-kariti noted that the American forces influence the process of security operations in this country.

Therefore, they should be expelled from the country, he stressed.

If the American forces leave the country, in a few days, there will be no trace of ISIL terrorists, he said, adding that the war against ISIL strengthened the determination of Iraqi youth.

The following sites updated:

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