MaggieMay: "Umm … you forgot a couple of things. Hawaii and Alaska entered the chat …"
Tony Posnanski: "I know you failed your GED four times before having someone else take it for you, but in 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became US States. I don't want to get into Puerto Rico or other territories of the US as it might be a touch advanced for you."
Khary Penebaker: "What amazes me is how confident your stupidity is."
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
The event, billed by organizers Angela McArdle of the Libertarian Party and Nick Brana of the People’s Party, as an attempt to bring the “left and right” together in opposition to the war in Ukraine was, the World Socialist Web Site noted, a “reactionary political freak show.”
The World Socialist Web Site will be further analyzing the main organizers and speakers at the event, which confirm its thoroughly reactionary character. This article focuses on the Libertarian Party and its overt orientation to the fascistic right.
[. . .]
After Deists’  speech, current and former members of the Libertarian Party, such as neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell, went on to participate in the fascist rampage in Charlottesville, which ended when another neo-Nazi, James Alex Fields Jr., drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors; murdering anti-racist activist Heather Heyer.
On the day Fields murdered Heyer and injured dozens of others, neo-Nazi Shandon Simpson was photographed standing behind Fields Jr.
Last month in Washington, Simpson, along with neo-Nazi Matthew Heimbach were both photographed at the “Rage” rally by journalist Molly Conger.
In 2020, Unicorn Riot revealed that Simpson was a member of the Ohio National Guard and had deployed to Washington D.C. as part of Trump’s fascistic efforts to suppress anti-police violence protesters.
In Telegram posts uncovered prior to deploying to D.C., Simpson told fellow neo-Nazis: “They activated my unit and we’re getting real ammunition to shoot and kill. Rahowa.” [RaHoWa refers to the neo-Nazi conception of Racial holy war.]
Heimbach has been a fascist his entire adult life. He has founded several neo-Nazi organizations, including the now-defunct Traditionalist Worker Party.
For his leading role in organizing the Unite the Right rally, on November 23, 2021, a jury found Heimbach and the organization he founded guilty of civil conspiracy.
In an article published the day of the “Rage” rally, It’sGoingDown.org reported that in a live-stream prior to event, Simpson revealed that Heimbach and his appearance at the “Rage” rally would not be a shock to organizers of the event. Simpson said that Heimbach “has had more communications with some of the people involved...”
At the “Rage” rally, Heimbach and his followers were allowed to set up a table and share their fascist propaganda.
The Center for Political Innovation (CPI), which is run by RT correspondent Caleb Maupin, was one of the “Bronze Sponsors” of the “Rage” rally.
After the “Rage” rally, Heimbach was photographed handing out fascist propaganda at an “after-party” organized by CPI.
Benjamin Rubinstein, formerly of the CPI, confirmed on Twitter that “Heimbach and his crew” were “invited to the event by CPI without the knowledge of other organizers.”
Rubinstein noted that Heimbach and Simpson are “avowed Nazi’s controlled by an Atomwaffen member and that is not a woke talking point.”
There is not only a close political kinship but a direct line of communication connecting outright Nazis to the Libertarian Party, the principal organizer of the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally. Those supposedly on the “left” who participated in the rally served primarily to lend these far-right forces political credibility and legitimacy.
It was cute to watch all those fake asses trying to pretend that they cared about ending wars. These are the same people with YOUTUBE programs who can't be bothered with the Iraq War and pretend US troops aren't still on the ground in Iraq and that the Iraqi people don't continue to suffer. But, hey, they care, they really, really care.
At MODERN DIPLOMACY, Amer Ababakr offers these thoughts:
From the beginning, the US succeeded in formulating a sectarian project, through which it strengthened the concept of sectarian division and quotas, as the US presence became a major ally for which the Shiite and Sunni sectarian parties raced, and for which the sectarian princes and the new elite of Iraq fought, at a time when successive US Administrations worked what it can win them over to its favour.
Thus, Iraq’s new leaders became close allies of the “liberator” from overseas. And at a time when the internal struggle raged to win the seat of power in Iraq, the active military and political institutions in the US Administration hastened to put the final touches to complete and implement the chapters of the scenario of the occupation of Iraq. I may not be exaggerating when I say that this fragmentation, which is still witnessing in the Iraqi political arena, and the fluctuations of its politicians and their clinging to power, which have increased in severity and convulsions since the start of the parliamentary elections process, contributed to perpetuating strife and division in the Iraqi social and political component, as is the case in the struggle of the Sadrist movement and the coordination framework. And the crisis of Muhammad al-Halbousi with the sheikhs of the Western Badia. Thus, two decades after the fall of the former Iraqi regime, and as a result of this wrong and deliberate method of rebuilding the state, the difference in visions regarding the relationship of Iraqis with their regional environment still threatens the stability of what is left of Iraq, as religious parties have failed to develop an inclusive system of government for all. Internal sectarian divisions were strengthened as a result of the deliberate insistence on creating a sectarian elite that controls the popular sectarian base, instead of focusing on the importance of the unity of the broad cross-sectarian mass base. State institutions have become centers of conflict between parties competing for power and wealth. And with the increasing American and international interest in these forces, the Iraqi political parties’ attempts to satisfy the influential US hand in order to crown them as leaders of the rule of Iraq increased. Thus, the US succeeded in its game through its convergence with the Iranian sectarian project, which contributed to the escalation of the Iraqi political crisis by allowing the sectarian political religion to dominate the political arena, and thus seizing power by the power of money and weapons, to the extent that most military institutions and teams became a monopoly. On sectarian and ethnic leaders, in a country where security and sectarian elements are the key to control, influence and manipulation of corruption files. Despite the existence of the constitution that regulates the work of many state institutions, the hawks of the ruling parties did not hesitate to control the Central Bank, which is one of the independent bodies linked to the House of Representatives, which the law fortified it from any government interference. Central, controlling the fate of billions of dollars and spending them without account to finance private activities, and transferring them to Iran and some countries in the region, in light of the repercussions of the American-Iranian conflict on the Iraqi arena and the region, and under the cover of the American-Iranian consensus in accepting a new Iraqi political system, whose officials and parties enjoy with Western sponsorship and support, it depends for its continuation and defense of its foundations and sectarian ideology, on armed state militias supported from behind the borders, despite the ruling elite’s knowledge of the importance of the American role in maintaining the legitimacy of the regime internationally on the one hand, and the role of armed groups in supporting the regime at home. This explains the subtleties of this relationship, which can be described as a relationship of interests and a form of clinging to power and playing on the ropes.
Don't expect the YOUTUBERS at last month's hate rally to note any of the issues above. Or to take on the nonsense of WE ARE THE MIGHTY -- I hope someone does but if they don't we'll do it next week, I'm just not in the mood this morning.
Yesterday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the Kurdistan before concluding his visit to Iraq.
He delivered the following speech in Erbil:
Ladies and gentlemen of the press – thank you for your presence.
I am very glad to be back in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
In my previous visits to the area, including as High Commissioner for Refugees, I was always deeply touched by the generosity and solidarity of the Kurdish people towards those fleeing conflict and catastrophe.
Today, amidst the devastation of the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to you for once again extending a helping hand.
I have just concluded fruitful meetings with the President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament.
I thanked them for the close partnership with the United Nations.
We discussed relations with Baghdad and as I said there, moving from constant crisis management to a more structured, institutionalized dialogue is in the interest – and to the benefit – of all.
A number of issues require agreement, including: the 2023 federal budget, the oil and gas law, stronger security cooperation, the swift implementation of the Sinjar agreement, and the finalization of the Kirkuk Dialogue.
But in my discussions both here and in Baghdad, I sensed a genuine commitment to move forward and I urge all to translate this commitment into reality.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good governance, respect for human rights and the freedom of expression, as well as inclusive political and electoral processes, are bedrocks of stability and drivers of prosperity.
I encourage all political actors across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to work together to ensure that the delayed parliamentary elections take place this year.
Diverse – even opposing – viewpoints as well as constructive criticism are the lifeblood of any democracy.
Despite spirited differences, I urge all to put the interests of the people in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq first.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press,
Full respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and good neighbourliness is essential at all times.
I urge all to pursue dialogue and diplomacy and exercise maximum restraint to prevent further instability and contain the risks of regional escalation.
Finally, let me repeat what I said in Baghdad: my visit is one of solidarity and hope for the future.
But achieving a better tomorrow requires action today. It demands determined diplomacy, constructive dialogue – and the courage to make the necessary compromises.
After my meetings and discussions, I am convinced that important progress is now entirely possible.
The United Nations stands with the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to help build that better future that they deserve.
Allow me a personal note. I came to this region many times in the past as High Commissioner for Refugees and I came as Secretary-General in a dramatic moment when Daesh was close and when fighting was fierce. And I learned to have an enormous admiration for the generosity and solidarity of the Kurdish people. I want to say that in my opinion we are now facing an opportunity for Iraq and an opportunity for the Kurdistan region of Iraq. That opportunity can translate itself into reality if Iraqis are able to come together and unite and if people in this region people can also come together and unite.
Iraq is potentially a rich country that can guarantee to its people a future of prosperity. I strongly hope that this will soon become a full reality.
As we noted yesterday, his photo ops on Wednesday resulted in criticism. Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has drawn criticism for posing for a photograph during his visit to Iraq with two militia leaders wanted by the US for crimes against humanity.
Mr Guterres, who is visiting Iraq for the first time in six years, has been meeting various leaders, including Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.
His visit comes as Iraq this month marks the 20th anniversary of the US- led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, as it faces continued economic, political, social and environmental crises.
“UNSG is ambushed. Another nightmarish optic coming out of Iraq,” said Michael Knights, Iraq expert at the Washington Institute for Near East policy.
“On his right (white turban) — US designated terrorist Qais Al Khazali, with a lot of US, UK and Iraqi blood on his hands. On his left, Rayan Al Kildani — US-designated human rights abuser,” Mr Knights said on Twitter.
A spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said the photograph was taken after a dinner hosted by Mr Al Sudani.
“The photo was taken on his way out, after a dinner with government of Iraq coalition representatives, upon the invitation of the Prime Minister of Iraq, discussing the country’s future, the need to deliver and serve the needs and interests of Iraqis. There were more invitees at the dinner,” the spokesman told The National.
The militia leaders are also included in a group photo with Mr Guterres, UN envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and members of the Iraqi parliament's human rights council.
In 2020, the US designated Mr Al Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl Al Haq militia, and his brother Laith Al Khazali, another leader of the group, as global terrorists.
Asaib Ahl Al Haq, also known as the League of the Righteous, is backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, which has been similarly designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organisation. Washington believes the Iraqi militia is a proxy for Iran.
Mr Al Kildani is head of the Babylon Movement and leader of the 50th Brigade, a Christian faction in Hashed Al Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces.
Turning to the United States, Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) notes:
+ in 2022, 315 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. The number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced so far in the first two months of 2023 already exceeds that total and exceeds all anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 2012, 2013, and 2014 combined.
It's a war. There is a war being carried out against the LGBTQ+ community in this country. Fortunately, some people are saying "NO!" to that war. Kaitlyn Kennedy (TAG 24) reports on Wednesday in Iowa:
Students from 26 high schools and two colleges have coordinated the walkouts to take place throughout the day across the state.
IowaWTF, a coalition of high school students that fights “discriminatory legislation,” and the Iowa Queer Student Alliance, a group for LGBTQ high school and college students, organized the day of protests.
Jemma Bullock, a member of the Iowa QSA, said the group is leading walkouts for two reasons: to educate students about the bills under consideration in the state Legislature and to get the attention of the lawmakers behind those bills.
“We are trying to make it so that it’s impossible for those in power to ignore us,” said Bullock, who is a senior at Ankeny High School, just north of Des Moines. “Because right now, there are people who are going to the Capitol and attending those public hearings about these bills — they have been teachers, psychiatrists, doctors, students, parents, administrators, all sorts of people who come and say, ‘This is harmful. This will have bad effects. This will cause bullying, it will cause depression and anxiety and it will not be safe for the LGBTQ+ community in our schools.’ And they just will not listen.”
By mid-afternoon Wednesday, students and local reporters started to share images and videos from the walkouts on social media.
- A Florida GOP state representative filed a proposal expanding the state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill.
- The bill, HB 1223, would prohibit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity up to eighth grade.
- Advocacy groups slammed the proposal, saying it polices schools and demonizes LGBTQ people.
“In my view, this body should do what’s right regardless of the cost,” said Republican Rep. Gino Bulso, the bill's sponsor. “I don’t care what it costs to do what’s right.”
LGBTQ-rights advocates have long argued that having a driver's license or birth certificate match a person's identity is not only personally important but also beneficial to avoiding harassment.
If enacted, the proposal would define male and female in state law and base people’s legal gender identities on their anatomy at birth. A handful of Republican-led states have introduced similar bills — including Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma — as GOP lawmakers have put transgender issues at the forefront of their legislative agenda.
Tennessee is set to become the first state this year to enact legislation to restrict public drag show performances.
The state Senate on Thursday passed a bill along party lines to limit “adult cabaret performances” on public property so as to shield them from the view of children, threatening violators with a misdemeanor and repeat offenders with a felony. It was passed by the Tennessee House last week and Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, has said he will sign it.
Video posted on social media shows Texas state Rep. Nate Schatzline dressed in drag performing to Javi Mula’s “Sexy Lady,” The Daily Beast reports.
Schatzline in January introduced HB 1266, which aims to put a “sexually oriented business” tag on any venue that hosts drag performances that also allows the consumption of alcohol on the premises. The law would ban anyone younger than 18 from entering such businesses.
The conversation started with discussions about technology, time off during the winter break, and Hamilton's expedition to Antarctica - which we covered earlier this year. However, Hewgill then continued to ask about the extra work the Mercedes driver does for diversity and equal rights.
"You mention the word inspiring, sorry to end on a slightly serious note but you have paved the way in Formula 1 for talking out about serious issues that haven't been spoken about before.
"For example, I'm a fanatic F1 fan and sports broadcaster, I'm also gay. It's something I struggled with when I was a kid about coming out in the world of sports.
"You went to Hungary in 2021 when that was going through some tricky LGBT stuff and spoke up about LGBT rights. I wanted to say thank you, it means the world and makes such a difference."
Hamilton was visibly appreciative, thanking Hewgill for his kind words and sharing what did.
"We have this platform and I just feel a huge responsibility. I'm not just a Formula 1 driver and I can just have success and go about my life, this is a platform to really spark change, spark conversation, which is the beginning of those things.
"Sparking those uncomfortable conversations and then holding people accountable who have been happy with the status quo in the past, which has held people down and made people not included.
"We can make change and I want to be a part of helping that and making people feel more included.
"Motorsport or any sport or business shouldn't be able to continue not being diverse. When have you ever seen someone working in our industry with disabilities?
"There are so many different things we need to challenge and fix."
The results were among key findings of the latest brief compiled by the Trevor Project as it combs through data collected from nearly 34,000 LGBTQ young people nationwide for its 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. The organization, based in New York, focuses on suicide prevention for LGBTQ youths.
The American Civil Liberties Union said 336 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in statehouses across the country in 2023, eclipsing the record 315 tallied by the Human Rights Campaign in 2022. Many bills target transgender youths, prohibiting gender-affirming care or participation in school sports teams aligned with their gender identity.
“It can’t be understated, the degree of transphobia we are seeing among politicians,” said Gina Sequeira, co-director of the Seattle Children's Gender Clinic in Washington. “The patients I take care of are incredibly fearful of the atmosphere they see.”
Another factor, Sequeira noted, is the record levels of fatal violence suffered by transgender victims in recent years, especially Black trans women.
Metro Transit police officers responded Monday morning to a call that a woman with “visible brain matter” was lying on the ground near Lake St. Station.
Officers were concerned the assailants were motivated by “anti-transgender bias,” according to the criminal complaints. However, Nicholas Kimball, a spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, told The Associated Press the case is still being investigated and the office needs more evidence to determine a motive.
At least 32 transgender and gender-nonconforming people were killed in the United States last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Trans women are disproportionately represented, comprising 81% of the deaths. In 2021, the human rights organization tallied 57 fatal assaults against trans and gender-nonconforming people, the highest number since HRC has been reporting the numbers.
The Georgia Republican has previously heckled the president, including during his State of the Union address in February when he spoke about alleged plans from some Republicans to cut Social Security and Medicare. At that moment, Greene shouted out "liar, liar" in response to his comments.
In another instance, Greene claimed that Biden is responsible for fentanyl overdose deaths. On Tuesday, she shared a clip to Twitter of House testimony from Rebecca Kiessling, a mother who lost two sons to fentanyl overdoses in July 2020—when former President Donald Trump was in office.
The congresswoman asked the mother during the hearing whether her sons would be alive "if our government would secure our southern border," which has numerously seen the seizure of large amounts of the drug. Kiessling responded "absolutely."
"Listen to this mother, who lost two children to fentanyl poisoning, tell the truth about both of her son's murders because of the Biden administrations refusal to secure our border and stop the Cartel's from murdering Americans everyday by Chinese fentanyl," Greene wrote on Twitter.
Biden referenced her accusations on Wednesday and pointed out that the deaths of the women's sons happened when Trump was president.
"I've read she was very specific recently, saying that a mom—a poor mother who lost two kids to fentanyl, that I killed her sons. Well, the interesting thing is that fentanyl they took came during the last administration," he said.
Poor Glenneth, his hag's under fire.
The following sites updated: