On a Friday night in New York, Harry Styles put on a show. It wasn’t just any show; it was the first time he performed his third and soon-to-be-biggest album, Harry’s House, in its entirety. The crowd that May night covered Long Island’s UBS Arena in feathers and glitter and tears — a ritualistic skin shedding of sorts whenever Styles comes to town.
Fans noticed something different about the encore: Styles didn’t end with his usual closer, “Kiwi”; instead, he opted to finish the night with a second performance of his new single “As It Was,” his dance-through-the-tears pandemic reflection on isolation and change. When he played it, the crowd exploded in a way even Styles had never experienced. It left him a bit shaken
At 28, Styles has unlocked a new level of stardom for himself. Years ago, he regularly filled stadiums as a member of One Direction, his former boy band. This spring and summer, he’s playing them on his own. “As It Was” has become his hugest song yet, setting streaming records and topping the charts in more than two dozen countries, including 10 weeks straight in the U.S. Because he’s a star with a largely young, female fan base, many have refused to engage with him as much more than a pretty teen idol. (I don’t need to lay out decades of music history to show how wrong of a take that is.) But he can feel the tides change in curious ways. “ ‘As It Was’ is definitely the highest volume of men that I would get stopping me to say something about it,” he notes. “That feels like a weird comment because it’s not like men was the goal. It’s just something I noticed.”
Before his headlining set at Coachella in April, I caught Harry backstage, surrounded by James Corden, Styles’ onstage guest Shania Twain, and his girlfriend, Olivia Wilde. Later, I took in sold-out shows in New York and at London’s Wembley Stadium. The immense love showering Styles was impossible to ignore — you see it in the faces of every fan, whether they’ve been supporting him for “one year, two years, five years, 12 years,” as he says in nearly every end-of-show thank-you speech. Along the way I heard him everywhere, even when I wasn’t trying. “As It Was” played in every cab. “Watermelon Sugar” soundtracked breakfast. “Golden” lurked quietly at a London drugstore. “Late Night Talking” blasted at a Brooklyn bar, leading one man to proclaim, “I like Harry Styles. I can admit it,” like it was a radical act of self-acceptance.
They had a great looking guy, there's no reason to Diane Arbus-up a photo shoot. Shame on them.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. Is this period, you were the national securty advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention [emphasis added throughout].
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it?
B: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q : When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan , nobody believed them . However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war." Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime , a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
One day before the six-month anniversary of the imperialist-provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, US officials told the Associated Press that the White House is about to announce another $3 billion in spending to aid and train Ukraine’s military. This comes on top of $10.6 billion in direct military funding provided by the Pentagon since the beginning of the war, as well as over $17 billion for US weapons manufacturing for Ukraine.
Based on anonymous US officials, the AP reported Tuesday that the new package is intended to provide weapons and ammunitions that may not arrive in Ukraine for a year or two. In other words, it is designed to fund the new “forever war” by US imperialism in Ukraine, which has already killed tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers and thousands of civilians, while displacing over a fourth of the country’s population.
Speaking in a similar vain, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated on Tuesday, “Winter is coming, and it will be hard, and what we see now is a grinding war of attrition. This is a battle of wills, and a battle of logistics. Therefore we must sustain our support for Ukraine for the long term.”
AMY GOODMAN: Tariq Ali, before we go, we have 30 seconds, and I wanted to ask you about the situation of Julian Assange. We just did a segment on the Julian Assange lawyers and journalists suing the CIA and Mike Pompeo personally, the former CIA director, for working with a Spanish company in bugging the embassy, videoing, audioing, taking visitors’ computers and phones, downloading them, interfering with client-attorney privilege. Could this stop the extradition of Julian Assange, who faces espionage charges in the United States?
TARIQ ALI: Well, it should, Amy — that’s the first answer — because this has been a political case from the beginning. The fact that senior officials discussed whether to kill Assange or not, and that’s the country to which the British government and judiciary, acting in collusion, are sending him back, claiming this isn’t a political trial, this isn’t a political victimization, it’s deeply shocking.
Well, I hope that this trial brings some more facts forward and some action is taken, because this extradition really should be stopped. We are all trying, but the politicians, by and large, and mainly of both parties — and the Australian new prime minister in the election campaign pledged he’d do something. The minute he becomes prime minister, he just completely caves in to the United States — barely a surprise. But in the meantime, Julian’s health is bad. We are extremely worried about how he’s being treated in prison. He shouldn’t be in prison, even if he is going to be extradited. So, I hope for the best but fear the worst, because one shouldn’t have any illusions about this judiciary.
AMY GOODMAN: Tariq Ali, historian, activist, filmmaker, author of Uprising in Pakistan: How to Bring Down a Dictatorship. His latest book, Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes.
Around the world people are watching as Julian Assange remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden. 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 death.
Iraq's security forces will not be dragged into the political conflict the country is facing, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi said as the Supreme Judiciary Council resumed work on Wednesday.
Supporters of Moqtada Al Sadr continued to hold their sit-in outside the judiciary's headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday, forcing the institution to close and stoking tension between the populist cleric and his rivals, the Co-ordination Framework.
Mr Al Sadr's supporters demanded the dissolution of Parliament and an to end corruption.
Late on Tuesday, the cleric called on his followers to withdraw from the gate of the Supreme Judicial Council. However, they continued with their sit-in, which began on July 30.
On August 10, Mr Al Sadr gave the country's top court a week to dissolve Parliament to end the political standoff. However, the court said it lacked the authority to do so.
The sit-in in front of the judiciary coincided with a move by supporters of the Co-ordination Framework to hold a protest against Mr Al Sadr's followers and call for the formation a new government after the October legislative elections.
They want a transitional government before new elections are held.
The US Embassy in Baghdad expressed concern over the "unrest in Baghdad today at the Supreme Judicial Council" and urged "all parties to remain calm, abstain from violence and resolve any political differences through a peaceful process guided by the Iraqi Constitution.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq also criticized the move against the Judiciary and told protesters that the “state institutions must operate unimpeded in service of the Iraqi people, including the SJC.”
Upon his arrival, Kadhimi met head of the Badr Organization and prominent leader of the Coordination Framework Hadi al-Amiri.
They discussed the prime minister's initiative for national dialogue and how to revive it under the recent escalation.
Following the abovementioned statements and positions by national and international figures and parties, Sadr ordered his followers to withdraw from the Judiciary building; some tents were left behind as a sign of protest against the politicization of the Judiciary.
Soon after, the Judiciary Council said it was returning to its normal work schedule.
The Coordination Framework, which is the rival Shiite group against Sadr, also issued a strong statement calling for the protection of state institutions and rejecting any kind of assault against them.
What raised more concerns, however, was a statement issued by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) — which has some some political parties affiliated with the Coordination Framework — accusing the government of not taking responsibility in protecting state institutions and expressing readiness to protect the state.
“As the Popular Mobilization Authority declares its readiness to defend state institutions that guarantee the interests of the people, foremost of which is the judicial and legislative authority, the political system and the constitution, it calls on the caretaker government to take responsibility, and seriously, in protecting the constitutional state institutions,” the statement read.
Since Moqtada's string of tantrums began a few weeks back, it's been noted repeatedly that The October Revolution protesters were targeted, were beaten, were stalked and were killed. However, 'caretaker' prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is clearing waving these protests through. The security forces do nothing over and over.
As Turkey escalates its campaign against Kurdish militants in the north of Syria and Iraq and Kurdish politicians within its borders, Masoud Barzani, the preeminent leader of Iraq’s Kurds, recalls a time when Ankara’s policy toward his people was distinctly different.
In the fifth volume of his memoirs published on Aug. 16 and titled “Barzani and the Kurdish Freedom Movement,” Barzani describes how Turgut Ozal, the iconoclastic liberal who governed Turkey first as prime minister and then president from 1983 until his sudden death in 1993, floated the idea of “annexing” Iraqi Kurdistan and the oil-rich province of Kirkuk as well as Mosul, which had been “unjustly” taken from Turkey and made part of Iraq by the League of Nations in 1924. It’s the first time Barzani has publicly shared this information.
Barzani says he was “puzzled” by Ozal’s frankness and decided to raise the matter with the Americans. The Americans said they would get back to him on “this great subject that is worthy of further research” but then never did.