ditching the oscar for best actress?

so 'the los angeles times' is calling for the academy awards to just hand out a 'best actor' and a 'best supporting actor' award.  they say no more to best actress and best actor.  marcia's shared her feelings on that and i agree.

i also think there are the feelings of the viewers to consider.

if you're big on the oscars, you may be part of an oscar pool - betting pool - each year.  if you are, i think you know that 'best actress' is always the award with the most excitement.  there was some for best actor when rami was nominated for best actor for playing freddy mercury but even that did not compare to any year for best actress.

getting rid of best actress means getting rid of the category that - year after year - pulls in the most interest and the most viewers.  

i think it's a mistake for the reasons marcia outlined.

stop.  if i'm reading something and a link's supplied, i will go to the link.  my friend t told me that not every 1 does that.  she told me that a week ago.  so for those who won't go, marcia is opposed to it because she argues (i agree) that women will be left out.  

neither marcia nor i have a problem with a trans person being nominated in the category they identify in.  this is not about that.

this is about what happens.  marcia used the 'best rock vocal' grammy category to explain that in the years it was handed out, women didn't win and they really didn't even get nominated - an over 10 year period saw 4 women nominated - none won.

that's what would happen if best actor and best actress were combined into 1 category.  men would flood the category - as they have with best rock vocal for the grammys - and women might get 1 nomination out of the five nominees or might not but, again, they wouldn't win against a man.

so for marcia's reasons alone, i say no.  but i also say no because the viewers - which is why the awards are aired - are not asking for this and to implement that change would probably decrease the viewership for the ceremony even further.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, December 22, 2022.  Hate merchants continue their attacks, an LGBTQ+ activist takes their own life, the hate merchants expand their war on drag queens, and much more.

Last week, 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.

We're going to note the following remarks.

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.

Though treated as minor by many outlets (even more of which ignored the hearing) this was not a minor topic or a topic that's fading.  Hate merchants are only increasing their attacks and those outlets who ignore it -- sadly, that includes many supposedly 'left' outlets -- are just as guilty as the hate merchants.

It's never enough for hate merchants.  It's not enough to demonize, it's not enough to attack, they want to erase.  I'm copying pasting part of what I wrote at Elaine's site last night.

At 5 Points Diner & Bar in Nashville, Tenn., drag performer Veronika Electronika can often be seen strutting between brunch tables. Her big hair, glitzy outfits and quick wit keep patrons on their toes.

Veronika’s lighthearted performances are a staple of Tennessee’s drag scene, but on a recent Saturday in December, she abruptly stopped her show to address a heavy subject: a proposed state bill seeking to ban drag acts — like the one she was performing at that moment — from public view. 

“If that law passes, I would be committing a potential felony,” Veronika said, as the audience booed the bill. “If you’re not a fan of that bill, I highly suggest you contact your state legislator.” 

Tennessee is one of at least five states where Republican lawmakers are considering bills to restrict drag performances. The measure, known as Senate Bill 3, was introduced by Tennessee Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson in November. 

“The intent of the legislation is just to simply say that you cannot have sexually explicit entertainment … in a public venue where kids might be present,” Johnson said.

Can you believe it?  They like to, these hate merchants, insist that there's no history of this or that right that LGBTQ+ Americans have fought for.  Their hate is astounding.  But now, they're going after drag performers and that's rather amazing when you consider America's long history with drag. It predates the creation of the United States and goes all the way back to ancient Greece.  When William Shakespeare was alive, female characters in his plays were portrayed by women.  As for the US, WIKIPEDIA notes:

The first person known to describe himself as "the queen of drag" was William Dorsey Swann, born enslaved in Hancock, Maryland, who in the 1880s started hosting drag balls in Washington, DC attended by other men who were formerly enslaved, and often raided by the police, as documented in the newspapers.[62] In 1896, Swann was convicted and sentenced to 10 months in jail on the false charge of "keeping a disorderly house" (euphemism for running a brothel) and requested a pardon from the president for holding a drag ball (the request was denied).[62]

That's a historical aspect that's not noted or recognized by many.  In the US, vaudeville was home to drag beginning in the late 1800s.  When vaudeville died out, drag performers appeared more and more in nightclubs.

They also appeared in TV shows and films.  Milton Berle was infamous for dressing up in drag on his 1950s TV program.  Jim Bailey was a night club performer whose drag act crossed over to TV.  Successful TV shows that he appeared on in drag included THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, THE TONIGHT SHOW SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON, THE CAROL BURNETTE SHOW, HERE'S LUCY (starring Lucille Ball, of course), and he performed as Barbra Streisand at the 1977 Super Bowl, and the 1984 Winter Olympics.  He also impersonated Judy Garland (who became a friend and who he impersonated onstage with her daughter Liza Minnelli for "The Judy and Liza Concert" that played in Vegas and London), Phyllis Diller (on the episode of HERE'S LUCY, when Phyllis can't make a charity event so Judy asks for Jim's help), 

1927 was when Mae West's play THE DRAG debuted.  Other well known representations in media?  VICTOR/VICTORIA -- yes, the Julie Andrews film; however, prior to that it was also made in 1933, 1935 and 1957 -- the 1935 film was entitled FIRST A GIRL and featured Anna Lee (known to millions for playing Lila Quatermaine on GENERAL HOSPITAL as well as such films as THE SOUND OF MUSIC and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?), SOME LIKE IT HOT (possibly the greatest comedy film of all time), Ed Woods' GLEN OR GLENDA, WHITE CHRISTMAS (yes, Bing Crosby did drag), THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, John Waters' PINK FLAMINGOS and HAIRSPRAY, TOOTSIE, NORBIT, the documentary PARIS IS BURNING, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY ITCH, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE, WHITE CHICKS, HURRICANE BIANCA, Bob Hope's THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE, Mike Nichols' THE BIRDCAGE . . .

We could go on and on.

So if the hate merchants in Tennessee have their way, what does that mean for film portrayals?  Will they ban the movies from theaters?  Will they block out broadcasts of the films?

It's beyond stupid. There are real issues to address.  Pouring hate on drag performers is neither a real issue nor a needed one.

Remember who they have chosen to stand against -- performers not attempting to harm anyone, performers following in the footsteps of Jim Bailey, Dustin Hoffman, Divine, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Nathan Lane, Bob Hope . . .  And what was good enough for the Olympics and the Super Bowl apparently isn't good enough for Tennessee lawmakers.

Where does it end?  Where does the hate end, where does this urge to purge end?  Will Tennessee next attempt to outlaw Halloween?  Where does it end?

Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
Promising estates
Rolling lawns and angel bands
Behind the pearly gates
You know he will have his in this life
But yours will have to wait
He's immaculately tax free

"Multiple hundreds of thousands of..."
Tax free
"Hundreds and millions of dollars"
Tax free
"A hundred billion dollars!
And who is paying the price?
Who who
"Your children are"

Pissed off
Jacked up
Scream into the mike
Spit into the loving cup
Strut like a rooster
March like a man
God's hired hands and the devil bands
Packing the same grandstands
Different clothes
"Pot in their pockets!"
Different hair
"Sexually active"
Raise a screaming guitar
or a bible in the air
Theatre of anguish
Theatre of glory
God's hired hands and the devil bands
Oh come let us adore - ME!
Lord, there's danger in this land
You get witch-hunts and wars
When church and state hold hands

F**k it!
Tonight I'm going dancing
With the drag queens and the punks
Big beat deliver me
From this sanctimonious skunk
We're no flaming angels
And he's not heaven sent
How can he speak for the Prince of Peace
When he's hawk right militant
And he's immaculately tax free

== "Tax Free," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her DOG EAT DOG

All they want to do is preach hate and they lie over and over.  That's Tucker Carlson, that's FOX NEWS.  They went with a very sick individual from England to trash transgender people.  This is a man who says he no longer wants to be a woman.  This is a White man who has had multiple surgeries to look like a Korean.  This is a man who says that Korean men have smaller penises so, he announced, he's going to get a penis reduction.  This is the 'sane' voice they brought on to attack the transgender community and Oregon state.  Oregon's laws make the age of consent for surgery 15 -- that's for all surgeries.  That's a state law so you'd think FOX NEWS would be all for it.  But they're not.  Because they're fake asses.  

These hate merchants peddle their hate and it has real world implications.  

Kentucky state Sen. Karen Berg (D) has asked for “tolerance and grace” after the suicide of her 24-year-old transgender son, Henry Berg-Brousseau. He died last Friday.

“This lack of acceptance took a toll on Henry,” Berg continued. “He long struggled with mental illness, not because he was trans but from his difficulty finding acceptance… This hate building across the country weighed on him.”

“Henry spent his life working to extend grace, compassion, and understanding to everyone, but especially to the vulnerable and marginalized. This grace, compassion, and understanding was not always returned to him,” the state senator said in a statement.

“On a daily basis at his job [as an LGBTQ+ rights advocate], Henry would be aware of the hateful and vile anti-trans messaging being circulated around this country and focused at his workplace,” she continued. “In one of our last conversations, he wondered if he was safe walking down the street.”

Berg mentioned her son’s trans identity in state senate speeches against transphobic legislation, including a state law barring transgender female athletes in middle school through college from participating on school sports teams matching their gender identity. The state’s Republican-led legislature passed the law, overriding a veto from Gov. Andy Beshear (D).


Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement:

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) honors the life of Henry Berg-Brousseau, HRC’s Deputy Press Secretary, Politics. Henry was the son of Kentucky State Senator Karen Berg and Bob Brousseau, a brother to Rachael Pass, and an important and loved part of the HRC family. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, his family, and his friends. His full obituary can be found here and a statement from his mother here.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson issued the following statement, remembering Henry: 

“Losing Henry is an unfathomable loss to the Human Rights Campaign family. Henry was a light – deeply passionate, deeply engaged, and deeply caring. His colleagues will always remember his hunger for justice, his eagerness to pitch in, his bright presence and his indelible sense of humor. He could always be counted on to volunteer for a project, hit send on a press release from wherever in the world he was, or share a kind word in the elevator up to his office.

“Henry was first and foremost a fighter and an advocate. He was fighting for transgender rights as a teenager in Kentucky, far earlier than he should have had to. As part of his job at HRC, he faced down anti-transgender vitriol every single day, and no one was more aware of the harm that anti-transgender rhetoric, messaging, and legislation could have on his community. He was brave. But, as Henry's mother stated, ‘[t]he vitriol against trans people is not happening in a vacuum ...It has real-world implications for how transgender people view their place in the world and how they are treated as they just try to live their lives.’ It sadly impacted how Henry saw his own place in the world.

“In honor of Henry’s life, we must come together and speak out against injustice. We must fight for our transgender family. We must celebrate his light, and honor him by continuing to fight for full equality for all. Our thoughts are with his parents, his sister, his entire family, and our whole community.”

Kelley Robinson, President, HRC

Memorial Contributions in honor of Henry Berg-Brousseau may go to The Fairness Campaign, 2263 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206, or The Trevor Project-Development, PO Box 69232, West Hollywood, CA 90069.

If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255. If you’re a young LGBTQ person and need to talk to someone, call The Trevor Project’s 24-hour crisis hotline for youth at 1-866-488-7386. If you are a transgender person of any age, call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.

Five Iraqi soldiers have been killed in two separate attacks in country’s north, amid a surge in violence by terrorists.

The deadliest took place in Al Dibis, near the northern city of Kirkuk, when a roadside bomb was detonated on Wednesday as an Iraqi army unit passed, killing three soldiers and wounding two, including an officer, a security official said.

Another bomb exploded in the Makhmour area outside the northern city of Mosul on the same day, killing two soldiers and wounding three, another officer said.

The following sites updated:


carroll's a nut case

crackpot e.j. carroll is back in the news:

Trump's smears of her have "totally affected" her life, she said. Months after making her allegations, she lost her job at Elle magazine, where she'd written a monthly column for 26 years. The magazine claimed it was a "business decision and had nothing to do with politics," but offered no further explanation.

"I'm looked at as a woman who's untrustworthy, looked at now as a woman who can't be believed," Carroll said in her deposition. "I'm looked at as a woman who was stupid and dumb enough to have happen to her what happened to her."

you're looked at as a nut job and you have only yourself to blame.  in february of 2019 - and this is why 'elle' let you go -- you went on 'cnn' and told anderson cooper that rape was 'sexy.'  you're a nut job.  anderson's jaw drops and he cuts to commercial because you are a nut job.

and that's why you lost 'elle.'  they were kind enough to let your contract run out and not embarrass you by firing you on the spot.

but, nut job, when you made that crazy statement, 'elle' got flooded with complaints, as they should have been.

rape is a crime. it is not sexy.

you're a nut job.

you caused your own problems by being a nut job.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot;'

Wednesday, December 21, 2022.  Hate merchants peddle hate with little consequences, Iraq's last prime minister was a sadist sicko, Will Lehman calls out voter suppression, and much more.

We're going to start with this exchange from last week's  House Oversight Committee 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 so I want to begin, Ms. Robinson, to thank all of the witnesses for being here today.  Ms. Robinson, as we near the end of this hearing, is there anything that we've not covered yet relating to anti-LGBTQ+ extremism and violence that you would like to share for the record? 

Kelley Robinson:  We can do something about this.  We can assure that social media companies uphold their community standards.  We can pass the equality act to ensure that LGBTQ+ people actually don't have legalized discrimination happening to them in more than half of the states.  We can, as a community, step up and say whole heartedly, no matter what our party affiliation is, repudiate and rebuke these horrendous attacks on our people.  There is work to be done and, especially on this ten year mark of Sandy Hook, we can do something to end this epidemic of gun violence.  We have to and we must.

US House Rep David Cicilline:  Thank you so much.  And Mr. Wolf, thank you so much for being here and for sharing your story.  What message do you have for politicians who are championing bills to limit the rights of the LGBTQI+ community?

Brandon Wolf:  Thank you, I'm grateful to be here.  And my message is simple: Words have consequences.  Somebody has to pay the price for unmitigated, unbridled hatred -- the kind of hatred that we've seen on the rise across this country.  We've heard a lot about accountability in this hearing and I'm glad we're talking about accountability.  No one is asking for anyone but the shooter at Club Q to be on trial in Colorado Springs.  But what we are saying is that people should be accountable for the things that come out of their mouths.  And when you're willing to traffic in cheap shots and biogtry against a marginalized community that's already seeing hate against it that's on the rise, already seeing violence rising across the country, when you're willing to traffic in those things to score political points, you have to be accountable for what happens next. You have to hold yourself accountable for the impacts of your words.  Words really do have consequences.  Unfortunately, communities like mine have felt them.  We have to do better than we are today.

Last Wednesday, 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.

Hate merchants continue to attack the LGBTQ+ community and they largely get away with it.  You can -- and a body does -- call for gay people to be killed -- and get away with it.  At least with regards to government officials.  Sometimes, a community comes together to make clear that this hate speech is neither wanted nor desired.  Such as in Fort Worth, Texas, where Stedfast Baptist Church's hate merchant Jonathan Shelley is in a tizzy that his church will have to move yet again:

“The reality is nobody really wants to lease to us, so it makes it very difficult,” Shelley said. “I am still working a few options, as far as lease options, or maybe even getting a building.”

In May, Shelley spoke to the Arlington City Council and said that gay people deserved to be killed. He advocated for enforcing an old Texas law outlawing “sodomy” that has since been ruled unconstitutional.

Residents in Watauga have said they want Stedfast out of their community because it promotes hate-filled, violent rhetoric that causes them to be concerned about their safety. Church officials said they have been harassed by the protesters.

You're calling for murder.  And you're surprised people don't want to lease to you?  You're calling for murder and you're pretending that this is due to your religious teachings.  See "Those fake ass 'religious' litigants (Ava and C.I.)" for how to many idiots are getting away with too much by citing ''religious freedom" when they're not even practicing the teachings of Jesus.

Your a hate merchant spewing hate but don't worry, Jonathan Turley will always protect your speech.  He won't protect the rights of other speech.  He won't protect the speech of drag performers or of libraries but he'll rush to defend the hate merchants and only the hate merchants.


Protesters trying to shut down a reading event geared toward neurodiverse children at a branch of the New York City Public Library were met by a wall of counterprotesters.

The standoff over the Drag Story Hour event — a popular national storytelling program where drag performers read children's books at libraries, schools and bookstores — took place outside the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday. The event was billed as “storytime with local drag performers adapted to be more accessible to kids with autism and other disabilities.”

Saturday's protest was just the latest in a string of standoffs across the country from a fringe movement targeting drag events over unsubstantiated allegations of grooming.

The group demonstrating on Saturday brought handmade signs covering a spectrum of issues, with messages protesting everything from fascism to grooming to gender identity.

New York City Council member Erik Bottcher shared images and videos online of the protesters, some of whom he tried speaking with before entering the children’s reading event.

“I want to show you the face of hate, right here in Chelsea,” Bottcher said in a video shared on Twitter, before showing the counterprotesters clad in rainbows.

A representative for the New York Public Library said the event went on as planned and added that the library would continue to offer programs supporting diverse voices.

“This is particularly important at this moment when we are seeing a rise of hate and violence targeting LGBTQ+ communities," the representative said.

A right winger gets booed at a campus events and Jonathan Turley's sobbing tears and insisting booing is wrong.  (Another example of how stupid he is and how he shouldn't be commenting on supposed art -- cake baking and computer templates aren't art.)  But a mob goes after a library event and, in fact, targets a local government official and Jonathan says nothing.  Well, after all, FOX NEWS is now paying him.  

Outrageous.  Unless you're banking a check from FOX NEWS apparently.

Turning to Iraq . . . 

Mustafa al-Kadhimi was Iraq's most inept prime minister since the US-led invasion of Iraq.  It turns out that he might have also been one of the most corrupt and sick -- and remember, Iraq has already suffered through two terms of Nouri al-Maliki being prime minister. So to be more corrupt and sick than Nouri is really saying something.  Remember, Nouri's actions lead to the rise of ISIS in Iraq.   Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) report:

A flagship anti-corruption drive under the tenure of U.S.-backed Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi used incommunicado detention, torture and sexual violence to extract confessions from senior Iraqi officials and businessmen, according to a nine-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Kadhimi, who left office in October, came to power in 2020 after mass anti-corruption demonstrations felled his predecessor. His government’s high-profile campaign to tackle graft in one of the world’s most corrupt countries drew widespread international encouragement.

Central to the effort was a series of highly publicized night raids in late 2020 on the homes of public figures accused of corruption, conducted under the authority of the Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, better known as Committee 29. The architect of the raids was Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim, or Abu Ragheef, who became known in Iraq as the “night visitor.”

But what happened to the men behind closed doors was far darker: a return to the ugly old tactics of a security establishment whose abuses Kadhimi had vowed to address. In more than two dozen interviews — including five men detained by the committee, nine family members who had relatives imprisoned, and 11 Iraqi and Western officials who tracked the committee’s work — a picture emerges of a process marked by abuse and humiliation, more focused on obtaining signatures for pre-written confessions than on accountability for corrupt acts.

Those interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters or, in the case of detainees and their families, to protect their safety.

“It was every kind of torture,” one former detainee recalled. “Electricity, choking me with plastic bags, hanging me from the ceiling by my hands. They stripped us naked and grabbed at the parts of our body underneath.”

In at least one case, a former senior official, Qassim Hamoud Mansour, died in the hospital after being arrested by the committee. Photographs provided to The Post by his family appear to show that a number of teeth had been knocked out, and there were signs of blunt trauma on his forehead.

Right now, my thoughts go to Robert Pehter, whose been held forever and who looks like he's been tortured.  The Australian government has done nothing to secure his release.

We'll wind down with this from Will Lehman's campaign:

The following sites updated: