Saturday, October 26, 2019

Let 'em bust rocks all day in the hot sun


For months now, the Justice Department has been reviewing the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That is, of course, the investigation that became the Mueller probe. Well, now that administrative review has shifted gears into a criminal investigation.
And to find out more about that, let's turn to NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas. Hi there, Ryan.
GREENE: OK. So what's it mean that this review is now criminal?
LUCAS: First off, a person familiar with the matter has confirmed that this is indeed now a criminal investigation. There are no details on when that change was made or what prompted it. They are investigating a potential crime, not just a violation of department rules or regulations.
That said, in this instance, it's unclear right now what potential crime they are investigating. But with this being a criminal investigation, the prosecutor who is leading this - a man by the name of John Durham - can impanel a grand jury, can issue grand jury subpoenas to get testimony and to force people to turn over documents.


The Justice Department has been reviewing the origins of its own investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election - how it started and why. NPR has learned that review is now a formal criminal probe. President Trump on the White House lawn today said the probe would turn up a lot of what he deemed really bad things.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think you'll see things that nobody would have believed. This was the worst hoax in the history of our country.
CHANG: NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas joins us to explain what has happened and why it matters. Hey, Ryan.
CHANG: So tell us why it is significant that this review has become a criminal investigation.
LUCAS: Well, it means that the team of investigators working on this is now looking at a potential crime and not just a violation of department rules, which was the case when this was just a review. This means that the investigators conducting this can impanel a grand jury, can issue subpoenas to compel testimony and force people to turn over documents, and they could also, in the end, bring criminal charges.
But important ways - it's hard to say just how significant this development will turn out to be. There are no details on when the review turned into a criminal investigation or what prompted the change, and it's unclear what potential wrongdoing is being investigated. Those are all outstanding questions.

I am glad.  I noted this in "A real investigation?" last time.  I am glad it appears to be a real investigation.  That is what is needed. That is what has been needed all along.

We have had an attempted coup -- in fact, it is still going on.

The results of the 2016 election have not been accepted and that is outrageous.  It really is.  The leaking by the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. has been appalling.  The efforts to destabilize the country are criminal. 

I believe anyone who knowingly took part in this attempted coup should do some hard prison time.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 25, 2019.  Protests resume in Iraq with at least 2 dead and over 200 injured, Joe Biden waffles again, and much more.

Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr called over the weekend for participation in today's protests.  Many heeded the call.   How did the government respond?  ALJAZEERA reports:

Iraqi police fired live ammunition and volleys of tear gas canisters to disperse thousands of protesters in Baghdad on Friday as anti-government demonstrations resumed after a three-week hiatus.
At least one person was killed and more than 200 wounded.
Security forces were deployed on the streets of Iraq's capital city on Thursday night in anticipation. The protests are a continuation of the economically driven demonstrations that began in early October and turned deadly as security forces cracked down, even firing live rounds into crowds.

This after the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, declared on Tuesday, "Iraq has come a long way, it is essential not to further undermine its many achievements. A climate of intimidation and fear is unworthy of Iraq’s potential as an open and democratic society. The UNAMI report highlights shortcomings and measures to prevent them in the future."

The October 22nd, Human Rights Special Report that Hennis-Plasschaert was referring to is entitled [PDF format warning] "Demonstrations In Iraq."  From the report:

This special report, prepared by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), outlines preliminary findings and key human rights concerns regarding the demonstrations that occurred in Iraq from 1 to 9 October 2019. Violence during demonstrations caused at least 157 deaths and 5,494 injured people, including members of the Iraqi Security Forces.1 Factfinding conducted between 1 and 16 October indicates the occurrence of potentially serious violations of human rights.2
UNAMI received credible reports of violations of the right to life, including deliberate killings of unarmed protesters and excessive use of force by units deployed to manage the demonstrations. This report also highlights concerns regarding the widespread use of repressive measures to limit publicly available information on the demonstrations, including arbitrary arrests, threats and harassment, confiscation of equipment, deletion of footage, attacks against media outlets as well as blanket restrictions on the dissemination of information through shutting down internet and blocking social media.
The international and domestic legal framework applicable in Iraq guarantees the right to life, the right to liberty and security of persons as well as the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, requiring the Government not only to allow assemblies to take place but also to enable peaceful protest, with measures in place to protect demonstrators.
UNAMI urges the Government to take concrete steps to prevent human rights violations and abuses during future demonstrations, to ensure accountability and to facilitate an enabling environment for the general public to exercise its rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
UNAMI calls on all demonstrators to exercise their right to assembly in peaceful and non-violent ways, in keeping with the law.

With at least one dead today and over 200 injured, there's no evidence that the Iraqi government bothered to read the UN report, let alone act upon its suggestions.

"Almost 150" David Greene said on NPR's MORNING EDITION this morning.  Why?  The United Nations?  Generally considered a reputable body, an official body, whose figures are trusted.  So if the UN says 157 dead and 5495 injured in the previous protests this month, why does NPR think the United Nations is serving up fuzzy math?    Jane Arraf was reporting from Baghdad as the protesters began assembling.

Jane Arraf: The main one is centered on a bridge that leads to the Green Zone where the US and other embassies are and government ministries.   And that's [distortion in audio] police are focused on keeping protesters out of.  So they've been firing tear gas that's wafting all over -- including to the edge of the protests where we are.  Those booms you might be hearing in the background?  Those are sound bombs.  But it's not deterring the protesters because Friday prayers ended just recently  and there are thousands and thousands of people [arriving? coming?] in here.  They are waving Iraqi flags and shouting slogans, calling the government to fall.  I was just talking to a man in front of me.  He has leg he lost to fighting ISIS and I asked him what he wants?  And he said, "I want my country back."  And that's the feeling that a lot of these people [have], that they've gotten nothing that they've been promised.

In this report (different from above), Jane insisted that the government was not firing on people.  Really?

This man was shooting at protesters and law enforcement during the protest, he was captured during his attempt to flee the scene,it turned out he is a traffic patrol officer in the Iraqi ministry of interior!!!!!!

In addition, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports, "Iraqi police fired live shots into the air as well as rubber bullets and dozens of tear gas canisters on Friday to disperse thousands of protesters on the streets of Baghdad, sending young demonstrators running for cover and enveloping a main bridge in the capital with thick white smoke. One protester was killed and dozens were injured in the first hours of the protest, security officials said."

The cost of freedom is always high, but Iraqis have always paid it. I’m sorry for the horrible video but this is the democracy USA brought to Iraq a protester been shot in head with tear gas canisters

The first one killed is said to have been hit with a tear canister.  The video above is supposed to be of that protester after he was hit.

In fairness to Jane, the use of "live shots" and "rubber bullets" may have taken place as more protesters assembled.  Her reports were both filed (the two for NPR above) as the protesters began assembling.  The bullets may have taken place after the assembling was complete and the protests were in full swing.  Yesterday, Jane Tweeted:

In where my hotel has received security orders banning from staying in rooms facing river or on high floors where you can see Tahrir Square protest unfolding. Transported to Saddam’s time when entire hotel wings were blocked so we couldn’t see things.

At least two people have died as protests intensified in Iraq, with security forces using tear gas to repel demonstrators from approaching government buildings Friday, a member of the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq has told CNN. The official added that at least 95 other people were suffering from the effects of exposure to tear gas."


AFP: 2 dead as Iraq anti-government protests resume

- Two dead as Iraq anti-government protests resume

NIQASH journalist Mustafa Habib reports:

Breaking: The senior cleric in Ali warns of chaos in that will open the door to foreign interventions lead the country to dangerous scenarios, he calls on protesters & security forces to be peaceful and not to fall into the trap of violence (1)
Sistani criticizes the results of investigation commission about killing 150 demonstrator during early this month, and he said: "The report didn't show all the facts, An independent judiciary must be established to investigate" (2)
  • Sistani calls on protesters not to attack public buildings, private property & security forces,also called on security forces not to attack peaceful protesters He also calls for reducing the salaries of senior officials & MPs & keeping govt jobs away from favoritism & parties (3)
  • Sistani calls for amendment of the election law to become a true representative of the voters, in order to persuade Iraqis to participate in the elections for peaceful change. (4)

    Click here for Mustafa's most recent article on the protests.

    So now we have 's campaign officially endorsing the launch of an effort to buy him the primary election through a super PAC that can collect unlimited cash from corporations and billionaires 👇

    In the US, the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues as does Biden corruption.  War Hawk Joe had denounced SUPER PAC funding . . . until he couldn't raise money.  (His big donors have reached the legal limit and Joe's campaign struggles to reach out to Middle America and lower income citizens.)  Maggie Severns (POLITICO) explains, "Joe Biden's campaign has opened the door to super PAC spending on his behalf in the Democratic primary, reversing an earlier, self-imposed ban on outside backing as Biden struggles to match rival presidential candidates in campaign cash."  Others pursuing the nomination are speaking out.

    WATCH: Beto O’Rourke tells CBS News that Joe Biden’s changed stance on accepting super PAC money is “a confusing message for America.”

    Here in Iowa, is asked by a voter about and Super PACs. “Who gives a damn what billionaire donors think!?” A fired up Sanders responds: “I don’t need a Super PAC. I will not be controlled by billionaires.”

    Warren is talking to you . It’s deeply disappointing that you’re reversing your stance on Super PAC support during the primary. The path to beating Trump is not a movement powered by big money donors. It’s a movement powered by PEOPLE and Warren is leading it — not you.

    The turnabout is another sign of how Joe says one thing and does another.

    In a stark reversal, Joe Biden's campaign has effectively dropped its opposition to receiving assistance from super PACs, opening the door for wealthy supporters to spend unlimited amounts of money to try to boost him in the Democratic primary

    The following sites updated: