Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Pras, Madonna and Diana Ross

 What the heck is going on?  That was my thought upon stumbling on to this AFP article:

Jury selection in the trial of artist Pras Michel, who rose to fame in the 1990s as part of the hip-hop group The Fugees, began Monday in Washington.

The case involving the Grammy-winning musician alleges he played a role in an international conspiracy and corruption scandal led by a Malaysian financier, and could see Michel sent behind bars for decades.

The 50-year-old Haitian-American faces 12 charges linked to illegal contributions to president Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, and a second plan alleging a secret lobbying effort connected to the Donald Trump administration.

Nearly three decades after the release of the smash album "The Score," Michel is now under fire over some $100 million said to be paid to him between 2012 and 2017 by the Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho.

Low, also known as Jho Low, is a key figure in what is known as the 1MDB scandal, which has rocked Malaysian political and financial circles.

According to the indictment, Michel channeled some of that money into Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, concealing the source of the funds via shell companies.

It is illegal for foreign nationals to contribute to US election campaigns.

What the heck?  Lauryn Hill's going to end up looking the sanest of them all.

Yea, Madonna!  And it's yea.  Am I the only one who read THE BIBLE?  "Yea" is pronounced "YAY!"  "Yeah" is pronounced "yeah."  I keep saying "yeah" used for "yea" and it's starting to tick me off.  Anyway,  YAHOO reports:

In a press release issued Monday, Madonna sounded off on Tennessee's new laws banning gender-affirming health care and "adult-oriented" entertainment – including "male and female impersonators" – from public property, as well as similar bills that have been introduced across the country.

"The oppression of the LGBTQ+ is not only unacceptable and inhumane; it’s creating an unsafe environment," Madonna said. "It makes America a dangerous place for our most vulnerable citizens, especially trans women of color."

Madonna also announced she's adding a Nashville stop to her Celebration Tour, which kicks off in July. Drag queen and "RuPaul's Drag Race" alum Bob the Drag Queen, who serves as the tour's special guest, will join her for the Dec. 22 concert.

"These so-called laws to protect our children are unfounded and pathetic. Anyone with half a brain knows not to (mess) with a drag queen," Madonna said. "Bob and I will see you from the stage in Nashville where we will celebrate the beauty that is the queer community."

Good for Madonna!  Seriously, way to show up and show support.  I am so happy right now, if she released an album, I'd love it like it was part of her 80s or 90s output.  I'm not joking.  

Need some more good news?  Diana Ross is about to start the US leg of her tour.

Diana Ross "The Music Legacy Tour" 2023!


I’m delighted to announce “The Music Legacy Tour” 2023: a celebration of my greatest #1 hits! I’m coming home to the US to sing hit after hit from my solo career and my time with The Supremes. It’s going to be a love fest. I am so looking forward to making memories and more memories with all of you ❤️

Tickets for this special tour go on sale this Friday 3/31! Stay tuned for more info and dates…

Share the #1 songs you would like to hear on social media with #dianaross #themusiclegacytour!

Asking myself:
What is it like to be turning 79?
How do I feel?
I feel blessed.
I have a beautiful life,
the love of my children and grandchildren
whom I love with all of me.
I have a wonderful career
I think about music & its amazing power
Happy, thankful, blessed.

I Celebrated National Hat Day!
I have always loved wearing hats.
I think it could be really fun to design some!
What do you think?

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Diana Ross "Super Star" T-Shirt
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Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, March 28, 2023.  Look as they continue trying to lie about the Iraq War, meanwhile turmoil in Iraq over the new election law, THE PROGRESSIVE rediscovers the Iraq War, and much more.

The Iraq War started (or this phase of it) 20 years ago.  We should probably stop a second on that.  The Iraq War has been going on for decades.  Last week, we saw that reality be acknowledged by various outlets.  Where were they in 2019?  Where were they when Glenn Kessler was using 'fact checks' to attack Joe Biden's rivals in the Democratic Party primaries?  When Glenn was ridiculing Beto O'Rourke for noting this reality?

Facts didn't matter to Glenn when it came to his buddy Joe.

20 years ago.  And if you paid attention you didn't just the media offering more lies, you also saw them showing no remorse.

74-year-old George Freidman should be in prison.  He has no regrets or remorse and wants to lie still but if you can endure his garbage long enough, he's saying the Iraq War is worth it because it basically acted as fly paper for al Qaeda.  That was his goal all along.  Didn't matter that people lived there, it was worth it to him -- destroying Iraq -- because it would attract al Qaeda to one central location.  He should be in prison.  

Then there are weasels like Bret Stephens.  Who but THE NEW YORK TIMES would put him on staff these days?  He's a hack and a liar.  He doesn't regret supporting the Iraq War.  Why?  Well, he insists, because it shows all the money the US government wasted (our money, taxpayer money -- a point he doesn't make) in Iraq on reconstruction.  This proves, he insists, that the US does "better as a cop than savior."  No, it doesn't prove that.  Because there's also a huge amount of money wasted on the war but Bret ignores that.  He ignores a great deal because there's no other way he could sleep at night.  He applauds this 'knowledge' but doesn't note that the waste is unknowable because The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction -- created in 2004 by Congress -- was shut down in 2013 and shut down over the objection of the IG Stuart Bowen.  Lives don't matter to Bret so, no surprise, facts don't matter to him.  That includes Bret's inability to call out that closure in real time or, for that matter, since.  Kind of strange until you realize he's grasping at anything to justify his shameful war cheerleading past.

By the way, is this a declarative sentence or isn't it?  "If anything, the invasion of Iraq appears to have prompted Iran to shutter its illicit nuclear program out of fear of American power, at least for a time."  He can't stop hedging -- not even in a single sentence.

Then there's John Feffer.  We're not linking.  John Feffer is a little whiny bitch and that's about the nicest thing you can say about him.  I noted last week that we walked away from IBC early on this site's history because of the US government monies that went into that 'independent' site that couldn't even get the number of US troops killed in Iraq correct.  Feffer then came along with his own gadget.  As usual, he boasted it would be the latest and the best and as usual, he took two thrusts and left us asking, "Is that all?"  And this after we'd already had to ask, "Is it in?  Is it in yet?"

Within a month of announcing the new count, it was no longer working.  

In the time since he does many other awful things.  Let's drop back to March 15, 2017:

I am the ruler of all.


Who knew?

I didn't know it until the angry e-mail over "IPS and FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS have been removed" from last night.

Turns out, if I don't link to something, I have censored them and denied them an audience.

I am basing my judgment, it is viciously explained to me, on my personal opinion of someone and not on politics.

I really love it when an e-mailer wants to tell me who I am and what I think.

I really love that.

John Feffer, you were delinked last night.

Were I delinking you for personal reasons, I would have done so in March 2008 after your series of e-mails where you BMW-ed nonstop (Bitch Moaned and Whined).

You didn't know what you were talking about -- apparently a factory standard on all John Feffer models -- and you thought you could dictate what I wrote.

Now you learned otherwise back then.

You've gotten links since and both FPIF and IPS stayed on the links -- mainly because of Phyllis Bennis.

Now you got called out a lot here because you are so deeply stupid.

And your FPIF colleagues got called out as well.

Like when you applauded the massive bombs being dropped on Iraq.

Remember that little protege you had?

And you'll published that crap.

I've heard you've since pulled it from FPIF -- doesn't matter, we quoted enough here when we called it out.  You forever indicted as an idiot who believes in 'precision bombing.'

I should have delinked you then.

But Elaine's "John Feffer is a damn liar (and don't e-mail, prick, I won't retract)" was where I learned you were now part of Team Hysteria fostering hate of Russia -- the whole country and people, you couldn't even just limit it to their government because that's the kind of trash you are.

At COUNTERPUNCH, he's back to pimping lies but isn't he always back to pimping lies.   He's ridiculous and he's disgusting.  He's trying to talk Iraq to sell war on Russia (and he's trashing Andrew Bacevich, of all people).  

All those liars -- and Feffer going after Julian Assange in his Watergate analogy -- is that why they hate Julian?  His 'crime' of telling the truth?


At last, the world has found someone to punish for the Iraq War -- Julian Assange whose 'crime' is telling the truth about what took place in Iraq.

Julian remains imprisoned and remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden who, as vice president, once called him "a high tech terrorist."  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.

Julian remains persecuted.  Julian told the uncomfortable truth.  Dardo Gómez (PRESSENZA) notes:

On 5 April 2010 WikiLeaks released a classified military video showing a US Apache helicopter shooting and killing two journalists and a group of Iraqi civilians in 2007. The military claimed that the helicopter crew believed the targets were armed insurgents, not civilians, but it was considered a case of lèse humanité by human rights experts.

Assange and WikiLeaks published documents proving physical and psychological abuse of prisoners denied legal assistance at the Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib detention centres on the eve of the US presidential election.

They also revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on three French presidents, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. Among the conversations spied on by the NSA are years of discussions about Greece’s debt crisis – including the possibility of that country leaving the Eurozone – discussions about the leadership of the European Union, and conversations about the relationship between Hollande’s government and that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

All of this is information that the public should know about and should not be kept from them as a matter of Right to Information; a universal right that does not recognise the alleged state secrets that cover up the atrocities they commit.


Meanwhile, someone wake Richard Engel, Iraq's seeing turmoil today.  Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) reports:

The streets of major southern Iraqi cities were aflame early on Tuesday morning with pro-reform protesters burning tyres to express objection to the new amendments to election law.

In a chaotic session on Monday, the parliament endorsed the controversial amendments despite objections from protesters and independent politicians.

These amendments could make it hard for independent candidates and small parties to compete against big parties and to reach the legislative body.

MPs were forced to adopt a new election law after pro-reform October protests swept Iraq in late 2019, with many small electoral districts in each province and the winner being the party with the highest number of votes.

That move gave new independent parties — many of which were supported by protesters — a stronger chance of winning seats in the 329-seat parliament in October 2021 elections.

The new amendments return the law to the modified Sainte Lague system introduced in 2014, which uses a complicated formula to apportion seats and tends to favour established parties.

They also reverse a key change in 2019 law, reducing the number of constituencies from 83 to 18 which is one district for each governorate.

Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) reports of the Parliamentary session:

Videos emerged from the parliamentary session showing Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi calling out to security forces to contain the lawmakers who loudly voiced their disapproval to the voting method, claiming that the system favors candidates of popular political blocs over smaller and independent candidates.

Several MPs took to social media to continue voicing their opposition, calling the threats of terminating their membership in the council “a great honor.”

“These measures increase our will and give us strength in the face of those who want to dominate and seize power in various ways, at the expense of the people and their interests,” said Dawood Idan, Emtidad Movement MP, in a Facebook statement calling the use of security forces to remove the lawmakers “a dangerous precedent.”

The Emtidad Movement was formed by protesters of the popular 2019 Tishreen (October) demonstrations to contest the 2021 elections.

If an MP or a provincial council withdraws from their positions under the Sainte- Laguë system, their seat will be given to another member of their political party. Under the 2021 system, the seat would be given to the candidate with the second highest number of votes in their constituency, regardless of their party.

Meanwhile, mark your calendars, the afternoon of March 27th was when THE PROGRESSIVE finally rediscovered Iraq.  This might be a momentary thing -- a fleeting blip on the radar.  But they published Stephen Zunes on the topic of the Iraq War.  Excerpt:

Nearly 80 percent of U.S. international relations scholars, an estimated 90 percent of U.S. Middle East scholars, and an estimated 80 percent of State Department specialists on the region opposed the invasion, according to my research. Yet backers of the war insisted the experts were wrong and that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were right. This is why many of us look at Biden and other politicians who supported the war the same way climate scientists look at Donald Trump and other climate change deniers—as anti-intellectuals driven more by ideology than facts and reason.

Indeed, members of Congress were repeatedly alerted by American academics, Middle Eastern political leaders, former State Department and intelligence officials, and others that a U.S. invasion would likely result in a long, bloody insurgency, a rise in Islamist extremism and terrorism, increased sectarian and ethnic conflict, increased Iranian influence, and related problems. Therefore, subsequent claims by war supporters that they were somehow unaware of the likely consequences of the invasion are completely false.

Similarly, throughout the country and across the world, trade unions, human rights, racial justice, and environmental groups, and others came out in opposition. Millions of Americans took to the streets in the largest series of demonstrations at that point in U.S. history. Yet the Bush Administration, Congressional Republicans, and more than one-third of Congressional Democrats ignored them.

What is striking is how forgiving many Democrats are of their leaders who supported the war. For example, the Catholic Church and virtually every mainline Protestant denomination also came out against the invasion, noting how it did not meet traditional Christian teachings regarding a just war. Only the rightwing evangelical fundamentalist churches voiced their support. It is hard to imagine that any Democrat who would side with the fundamentalists on abortion or LGBTQ+ issues would become a Congressional leader or be nominated for President. Yet regarding the critically important moral and theological issue of war and peace, Democratic voters have been quite tolerant of their leaders siding with the fundamentalists.

Part of the reason may be that many Democratic supporters of the invasion -- such as presidential nominees John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden -- have subsequently misled the public on their role. Each has insisted that the October 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force was somehow not really an authorization for the use of force, but simply a tool to convince the Iraqi regime to finally allow United Nations weapons inspectors -- whom President Bill Clinton ordered removed in 1998 --back into the country to engage in unfettered inspections.

New content at THIRD:

The  following sites updated: