Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Angela Lansbury

Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Jen Reads The Papers" went up tonight.


MURDER SHE WROTE.  For many, that is how they knew Angela Lansbury who passed away today.  The actress starred in twelve seasons of that show on CBS (and for three TV movies) and it continues to air to this day (COZY, for example).  The 96-year-old actress had a very long and very bright career.

Name an acting legend and there is a good chance that Ms. Lansbury worked with them.

Judy Garland -- yes, on the film THE HARVEY GIRLS (1946), Elizabeth Taylor (NATIONAL VELVET, 1944 and THE MIRROR CRACK'D, 1980), Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (STATE OF THE UNION, 1948), Lana Turner and Gene Kelly (THE THREE MUSKETEERS, 1948), Randolph Scott (A LAWLESS STREET, 1955), Danny Kaye (THE COURT JESTER, 1956), Paul Newman (THE LONG HOT SUMMER, 1958), Sandra Dee (THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE, 1958), Dorothy McGuire (THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, 1960), Elvis Presley (BLUE HAWAII, 1961), Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint (ALL FALL DOWN, 1962), Frank Sinatra (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, 1962), Jane Fonda (IN THE COOL OF THE DAY, 1963), Peter Sellers (THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT, 1964), Carroll Baker (HARLOW, 1965), Bette Davis (DEATH ON THE NILE, 1978), Emma Thompson (NANNY MCPHEE, 2005), Jim Carrey (MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS, 2011) . . .   And that is just film. 

TV?  She guested on the various anthology shows that used to populate TV.  She also did guest appearances on THE MAN FROM UNCLE, MAGNUM P.I. and the mini-series LITTLE GLORIA . . . HAPPY AT LAST paired her again with Bette Davis in 1982, the 1984 mini-series LACE starring Phoebe Cates and the 1986 mini-series RAGE OF ANGELS: THE STORY CONTINUES  starring Jaclyn Smith.

She was also a star of stage.  On Broadway, she performed in MAME, GYPSY, THE KING AND I, HAMLET, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, BLITHE SPIRIT, THE BEST MAN . . .

Children knew her from animated classics such as BEAUTY & THE BEAST and ANASTASIA as well as DISNEY's classic live action film BEDKNOBS and BROOMSTICKS.

And with all the credits that I have noted, I still have not noted them all.  

I will note THE LADY VANISHES.  This is a 70s remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic.  I enjoyed this film a great deal.  She stars with Cybill Sheperd and Elliott Gould.  I felt the three were charming together.  And she was so good in 1944's GASLIGHT with Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman. 

She has an amazing career with probably something in it that everyone could like.  Animation?  You probably love BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  Musical?  THE HARVEY GIRLS.  Thriller?  MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.  It is just a legendary career.

She will be missed but her films will be around for us to enjoy.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for tonight:

Tuesday, October 11, 2022.  As the world calls for Joe Biden to end the persecution of Julian Assange, word emerges that Julian now has COVID 19 as a result of being imprisoned in the UK gulag.

Starting with Julian Assange.

US President Joe Biden continues his ongoing persecution of Julian Assange.   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. 

Julian Assange has contracted COVID-19. He received the test result Saturday, on the day several thousand people formed a human chain around Parliament in London to protest his persecution.

His wife, Stella, told the press, “I am obviously worried about him and the next few days will be crucial for his general health. He is now locked in his cell for 24 hours a day.” She said Assange had been feeling ill throughout the week and developed a fever and cough on Friday.

Assange’s infection confirms the repeated warnings of medical professionals and his legal team that his health and life are endangered by his wrongful imprisonment. It must lend renewed urgency to the demand for his immediate release.

Just months before the pandemic, over 100 doctors signed an open letter to the British government warning that Assange’s life was at risk while he was kept in HMP Belmarsh—the UK’s top-security prison. When COVID-19 began to spread rapidly throughout Britain, one of the lead signatories, Dr Stephen Frost, told the World Socialist Web Site, “Given what we know about this case, Mrs Assange is right to be concerned. Julian Assange, because he is immuno-compromised, following years of arbitrary detention first in the Ecuadorian Embassy and latterly in Belmarsh prison, is necessarily at higher risk of contracting any viral or bacterial infection, including infection by coronavirus.

“He should be released on bail immediately, so that he can access the health care which he urgently requires. The UK government is effectively playing Russian roulette with Julian Assange’s life.”

Another doctor, Lissa Johnson, explained, “As long ago as 2015 medical and human rights experts warned that anything more than a trivial illness could prove fatal for Julian Assange. His health is even more fragile now, and the coronavirus only renders those warnings more urgent and more dire.”

She added, “If Julian Assange does succumb to coronavirus or any other catastrophic illness in prison, it will not be an accident. It will be a foreseeable result of prolonged psychological torture and wilful medical neglect.”

At WSWS, Nick Barrickman speaks with whistle-blower John Kiriakou about Julian:

WSWS: Can you shed some light on what Assange has exposed to the public about the US government, and also speak about the current situation and how this is significant for the political situation today?

John Kiriakou: Sure. Assange’s first major exposure was the Chelsea Manning revelations back in 2010. This was tens of thousands of diplomatic cables. Diplomatic cables almost never have anything to do with national security. They are generally accounts of conversations between US diplomats and host-government officials.

Julian, by releasing those documents, embarrassed some US ambassadors, State Department officials. But there was no damage to national security. The government has never alleged that there was damage to national security. That got Julian on the Department of Justice’s radar.

In 2013, [former National Security Agency contractor] Edward Snowden released revelations [about the NSA’s warrantless spying on the population] in concert with journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras in the British Guardian and Barton Gellman in the Washington Post. From the perspective of the intelligence community, that was a bit more damaging. Still, there was no CIA information that was compromised.

WSWS: There is a constant argument you hear from defenders of government secrets that the reason this information cannot be disclosed is that it saves lives of people working undercover, “behind enemy lines.”

JK: They say that all the time: “You have the blood of American soldiers on your hands.” Name one American soldier whose blood is on my hands. They said that to [former NSA official and whistleblower] Thomas Drake. He released unclassified information and they said he had the blood of American troops on his hands.

But, regarding WikiLeaks, that revelation ramped it up to a “tier one” threat. Then the Hillary Clinton revelations from the Democratic National Committee emerged. We learned through Julian Assange that Hillary Clinton rigged the Democratic primaries to steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders. That turned the Democrats against WikiLeaks.

But “Vault 7” really pushed things over the edge. Joshua Schulte, a hacker employed by the CIA, was alleged to have taken thousands of documents that exposed the modern day “Crown Jewels” of the CIA.

WSWS: Could you explain the significance of Vault 7 to some of our readers who might be less informed about this episode?

JK: Vault 7 revealed that the CIA can, for instance, defeat any encryption technology. The CIA can take over your Smart TV and make it double-back as a microphone even when it’s turned off. The CIA can remotely take control of your car. For what reason? To drive you off a cliff? Into a tree? Off a bridge? Why would they even need the technology to do that? That was when they decided to prosecute Assange.

You might have heard one of the speakers [at the DOJ rally] say that, as bad as the Obama administration was toward whistleblowers—they prosecuted eight of us—it didn’t indict Julian. The Trump administration indicted Julian. Really, the force behind that indictment was [former Trump CIA director and Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo.

Do you remember when Pompeo [in April 2017] called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service”? There was a reason that he did that. Many in the media at the time missed the fact that those were carefully chosen words.

The reason he did that is because if the CIA is going after a foreign intelligence service, state or non-state, that makes it a counterintelligence operation. Counterintelligence operations are the only covert operations that don’t have to be reported to the oversight committees. The reason for that is to guard against the possibility that a member of the committee is a foreign spy.

Counterintelligence operations are the most sensitive things that the CIA does. The fewer people that know about them, the better. If you’re not reporting them to the oversight committees, then there’s nobody to tell you “you can’t do that.”

That’s when you come up with ideas, maybe, to murder Julian Assange in the streets of central London. Or maybe shoot out the tires on a Russian diplomatic flight were he to board one. You come up with all of these cockamamie ideas that are clearly illegal and there’s nobody to tell you “no.”

This is an excerpt of the speech Chris Hedges gave on Saturday at a DC rally for Julian:

The engine driving the lynching of Julian is not here on Pennsylvania Avenue. It is in Langley, Virginia, located at a complex we will never be allowed to surround – the Central Intelligence Agency. It is driven by a secretive inner state, one where we do not count in the mad pursuit of empire and ruthless exploitation. Because the machine of this modern leviathan was exposed by Julian and WikiLeaks, the machine demands revenge. 

The United States has undergone a corporate coup d’etat in slow motion. It is no longer a functioning democracy. The real centers of power, in the corporate, military and national security sectors, were humiliated and embarrassed by WikiLeaks. Their war crimes, lies, conspiracies to crush the democratic aspirations of the vulnerable and the poor, and rampant corruption, here and around the globe, were laid bare in troves of leaked documents.  

We cannot fight on behalf of Julian unless we are clear about whom we are fighting against. It is far worse than a corrupt judiciary. The global billionaire class, who have orchestrated a social inequality rivaled by pharaonic Egypt, has internally seized all of the levers of power and made us the most spied upon, monitored, watched and photographed population in human history. When the government watches you 24-hours a day, you cannot use the word liberty. This is the relationship between a master and a slave. Julian was long a target, of course, but when WikiLeaks published the documents known as Vault 7, which exposed the hacking tools the CIA uses to monitor our phones, televisions and even cars, he — and journalism itself — was condemned to crucifixion. The object is to shut down any investigations into the inner workings of power that might hold the ruling class accountable for its crimes, eradicate public opinion and replace it with the cant fed to the mob.

I spent two decades as a foreign correspondent on the outer reaches of empire in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans. I am acutely aware of the savagery of empire, how the brutal tools of repression are first tested on those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” Wholesale surveillance. Torture. Coups. Black sites. Black propaganda. Militarized police. Militarized drones. Assassinations. Wars. Once perfected on people of color overseas, these tools migrate back to the homeland. By hollowing out our country from the inside through deindustrialization, austerity, deregulation, wage stagnation, the abolition of unions, massive expenditures on war and intelligence, a refusal to address the climate emergency and a virtual tax boycott for the richest individuals and corporations, these predators intend to keep us in bondage, victims of a corporate neo-feudalism. And they have perfected their instruments of Orwellian control. The tyranny imposed on others is imposed on us.

From its inception, the CIA carried out assassinations, coups, torture, and illegal spying and abuse, including that of U.S. citizens, activities exposed in 1975 by the Church Committee hearings in the Senate and the Pike Committee hearings in the House. All these crimes, especially after the attacks of 9/11, have returned with a vengeance. The CIA is a rogue and unaccountable paramilitary organization with its own armed units and drone program, death squads and a vast archipelago of global black sites where kidnapped victims are tortured and disappeared. 

The U.S. allocates a secret black budget of about $50 billion a year to hide multiple types of clandestine projects carried out by the National Security Agency, the CIA and other intelligence agencies, usually beyond the scrutiny of Congress. The CIA has a well-oiled apparatus to kidnap, torture and assassinate targets around the globe, which is why, since it had already set up a system of 24-hour video surveillance of Julian in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, it quite naturally discussed kidnapping and assassinating him. That is its business. Senator Frank Church — after examining the heavily redacted CIA documents released to his committee — defined the CIA’s “covert activity” as “a semantic disguise for murder, coercion, blackmail, bribery, the spreading of lies and consorting with known torturers and international terrorists.”

At the Saturday rally in London,  MP Jeremy Corbyn spoke:

In a message to Biden, Corbyn said Saturday: ‘You won a presidential election against an extremely intolerant right-wing president. You won that with the support of millions of Americans who want to live in a free, open, democratic society.’

‘Are you really wanting your administration to be the one that imprisons a journalist for telling the truth about wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and the environmental destruction by big business and arms companies in so many parts of the world?’ he asked. ‘Think of your place in history. Are you to go down in history as the president who put a journalist in prison on a triple life sentence? Or, will you get your place in history as the man who stood up for free speech?’

Turning to Iraq . . . 

We'll note this statement the US State Dept issued yesterday:

A year ago, Iraqis voted in credible early elections with the hope that they would result in a government that reflects the will of the Iraqi people. Since then, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to resolve their political differences. The United States supports a broad and inclusive dialogue to forge a common path forward.

We join the many friends of Iraq to emphasize again that violence is not acceptable and call on all parties to peacefully and inclusively forge a path out of the current political impasse.

Meanwhile, the United States remains committed to partnering with the government and people of Iraq to promote economic growth and create more jobs, to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, to root out corruption, and to increase resiliency to the effects of climate change.

AFP reports:

Iraq's parliament will meet on Thursday to "elect the President of the Republic", a press release from speaker Mohammed al-Halbussi's office said on Tuesday, after months of political impasse.

More than a year after the last general election in Iraq, Halbussi's office said Thursday's parliamentary session would have "a single item on the agenda, the election of the President of the Republic".

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Lorie Smith's Special Rights" went up last night and the following sites updated: