Wednesday, May 3, 2023

First Felon has rumors swirling all around him

Prosecutors are nearing a decision on whether to charge President Biden’s son Hunter with tax- and gun-related violations, according to people familiar with the matter, the culmination of a four-year investigation that Republicans have sought to portray as evidence the Biden family is corrupt.

Biden’s attorneys met at Justice Department headquarters in downtown Washington last week to discuss the case with U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation. Typically, that sort of meeting — in which defense lawyers urge prosecutors not to seek an indictment of their client, or to seek reduced charges — comes toward the end of an investigation.

The people familiar with the matter said Weiss is nearing the end of his decision-making process, although they offered no specific timetable. They cautioned that the probe has taken longer than some officials thought it would, frustrating some law enforcement officials, and conceivably could slow down again before a decision has been reached.

And in other news of the Biden family, CNN reports:

President Joe Biden’s former executive assistant said she wasn’t aware that any classified documents were among the papers she packed for the then-vice president as he was leaving office, according to excerpts from her transcribed interview with the House Oversight Committee provided to CNN.

The assistant, Kathy Chung, also said she did not notice any classified documents when she unpacked boxes at the Biden’s private office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC, saying she didn’t sort through or closely examine the contents that included family photos, policy papers and challenge coins.

The new details – the first to surface publicly in months – are likely known to federal investigators in the months-long probe into classified materials found at two locations connected to Biden.

In addition to her interview with the committee, Chung spoke to federal prosecutors during an initial review. Her lawyer has also been contacted by the office of special counsel Robert Hur, who is now overseeing the criminal investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents found at an office in Washington and his home in Wilmington, Delaware.


In a stunning development, the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena Wednesday for an FBI file that a whistleblower said links President Biden to a “criminal scheme” involving “money for policy decisions” during his vice presidency.

The tip is a potential breakthrough for GOP investigators looking into Joe Biden’s role in his family’s business dealings in countries such as China, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine.

Republicans say the file pertains to potential wrongdoing by Joe Biden — rather than possible criminal activity by first son Hunter Biden or another relative that indirectly implicates the president.

The alleged corruption is believed to involve a country other than China, The Post understands. Two sources say the whistleblower is not the same person as the IRS agent who anonymously came forward last month to allege a coverup in the criminal investigation of the first son.

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

Wednesday, May 3, 2023.  France calls out the continued attacks on the Yazidis, it's World Press Freedom Day and Julian Assange is still being persecuted, the crazy runs free in the US (look at the rabid Jonathan Turley and John Stauber), and much more.

RUDAW notes that Yazidis in Iraq are again being targeted:

The French Embassy to Iraq on Tuesday condemned the recent spark in hate speech targeting Yazidis in Shingal (Sinjar), urging relevant authorities to improve the security situation in the northern Iraqi city.

A protest was held in Shingal last Thursday against the recent return of several Arab families to the region where Islamic State (ISIS) militants committed genocide against Yazidis nearly nine years ago. Videos shared on social media showed demonstrators protesting near the mosque with a small fire burning outside the premises and security forces firing bullets into the air in an attempt to disperse crowd. Muslim groups based in Shingal claimed that the Yazidis had set fire to a mosque during the protest.

For more on religious issues in Iraq, see The US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2023 Annual Report which we covered in yesterday's snapshot.

Today is World Press Freedom Day.

Julian Assange 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.   When does it end? It would be great if it could end today on World Press Freedom Day.  Patrick Martin (WSWS) notes:

The annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Association is an occasion for the media elite and top politicians in Washington to schmooze and declare their mutual solidarity. This is usually couched in the language of defense of the First Amendment, although that constitutional provision has been systematically trampled on by administration after administration in the interests of American imperialism.

Illegal government spying, police violence and the violation of such basic democratic precepts as the separation of church and state are everyday practices in America, and the corporate media generally passes over them in silence as long as its own financial interests are not harmed.

There was more than the usual measure of such hypocrisy at Saturday night’s annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Association, as President Joe Biden and the assembled members of the political and media elite pretended to defend freedom of the press, but only when it serves the foreign policy interests of American imperialism.

Most presidential appearances at the dinner—attended by every president in recent years except Donald Trump—have been characterized by scripted remarks making fun of the audience, the president’s political opponents and critics, and the president himself.

But Biden devoted the bulk of his remarks to a lengthy declaration of his opposition to the repressive measures taken against journalists in Russia, China, Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and pledges to devote US diplomatic efforts to winning the release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, recently arrested on bogus spying charges in Russia, and other American prisoners of the Putin regime.

The coincidence between the list of countries guilty of violating press freedom and the list of countries targeted by American imperialism for subversion and overthrow was obvious. Biden made no reference, for example, to the murder of Washington Post commentator Jamal Khashoggi, killed and dismembered inside the consulate of Saudi Arabia in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Khashoggi, an adviser turned critic of the Saudi monarchy, was targeted by the de facto Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose security chief sent the hit squad and directed its actions. Biden claimed during the 2020 election campaign that he would turn the Saudi leader into a “pariah.” Instead, in pursuit of greater Saudi oil production, he went cap in hand to Riyadh for talks with the prince/assassin.

But the most obvious case of a double standard was one that involves the Biden administration directly: the persecution of Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks founder and publisher was trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for nearly seven years after he sought political asylum there against a US campaign to seize him and bring him to the United States for prosecution on espionage charges for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at the Guantanamo Bay torture prison.

Since Assange was seized by British police who raided the embassy four years ago, he has been held in solitary confinement in Belmarsh, a high-security prison for terrorists and violent criminals in London, awaiting extradition to the United States, where he would face 175 years in prison if convicted under the Espionage Act. He would be the first journalist prosecuted under the century-old law, passed amid the anti-communist hysteria whipped up as part of US entry into World War I.

If you missed it, the transphobes are uniting.  Jonathan Turley Tweets nonsense and John Stauber reposts it.

I know it's hard for Turley and Stauber to understand business.  But before they choke on their cackles, Bud Light caved to the transphobes.  Some may have walked away from it for good.  But as any marketing major would tell you, what's going on right now is not about the transphobes.  Bud Light refused to stand with their influencer.  CNN already addressed this.  NIKE knew standing with Colin was going to hurt it with some but it would bolster then with others.  Bud Light embraced diversity and then shunned it.  There's no reason for those who believe in equality to continue to support Bud Light.  

So when you go on and on about how, "There sales are down!"?  Idiots, their sales are down because they went off brand.  They're now muddled and no one wants to stand with them.  They managed to anger both sides in the debate.

Some brands are able to walk the line, or pick a side and stick with it. Bud Light failed on both counts.

Again, I know you're both idiots and are too busy weighing in on things you know nothing about.  But that is what's going on and the business press -- as opposed to the reactionary world the two of you have decided to reside in -- grasped that a long time ago.  But I guess conjecture is all they have to offer.  Clearly, John Stauber has tired himself out reTweeting all those BABYLON BEE Tweets.  It's important for John Stauber to amplify the right-wing site's reach because . . . well, he's just that pathetic.  Again, I'm with Trina, he should never, ever be allowed back on the left.  What did Rebecca dub him?  Oh, that's right "john stauber is the 21st century david horowitz."

By the way, Jonathan Turley does not identify himself as a FOX "NEWS" employee on his Twitter feed.  So when he's sourcing his ridiculous claims to the ridiculous FOX "NEWS" articles isn't he required to make some kind of disclosure?  "I am paid by FOX 'NEWS' so I reTweet FOX 'NEWS' content"?  Or has becoming a bigot left him free from all ethical requirements?


I was asked to weigh in MORNING MIKA calling out Nikki Haley for saying that, if re-elected, Joe Biden will die in office.  It is her opinion.  That doesn't make it right.  Don Lemon's opinion was that Nikki was out of her prime.  That wasn't right.  I'd think Nikki, having recently been on the receiving end, would take a little more care and tact with her own statements.  I agree with Mika on this, it was rude and uncalled for.  In other Republican crazy:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said a mass shooting last week is part of the Biden administration's "plan."

Francisco Oropeza, 38, is suspected of shooting and killing five people in Cleveland, Texas, who lived next door after reportedly being asked by the neighbor to stop shooting his gun so their baby could sleep.

As of Tuesday, the Hispanic suspect—who was identified by ICE due to being deported four previous times before the recent tragedy took place—remains at large and is considered by authorities to be armed and dangerous.

The victims were Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Obdulia Molina Rivera, 31; Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso Guzman, 9, according to ABC News.

Need more examples of Republican crazy?  Try this from ROLLING STONE:

Newsmax has been working overtime to capitalize on cable viewers outraged over competitor Fox’s firing of headline host Tucker Carlson. In their eagerness to tear down the conservative media giant, their claims about the network have now boiled over into the outright conspiratorial. 

On Monday night host Eric Bolling, himself a former Fox personality, accused the network’s owners of being members of a globalist cabal working to silence conservatives. 

“The new world order globalists, also known as the Murdochs, [are] trying to destroy Tucker Carlson but do not be mistaken, they’re not stopping there,” said Bolling. 

Bolling went on to name other Fox News personalities who have been fired from the network in recent years, calling Lou Dobbs’ exit in 2021 a “clear Murdoch hit job.” 

Lou Dobbs is 77.  A hit job?  Maybe a mercy killing. 

We may cover a hearing this week.  I planned to cover it today but I forgot it was World Press Day (which means you call out the persecution of Julian Assange).  We'll wind down with this from DALLAS VOICE:

Just a day after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed SB 613 into law, banning gender affirming healthcare for transgender minors in the state, trans rights advocates have filed suit to challenge the new law.

SB 613 bans all forms of gender-affirming medical treatment for transgender youth and threatens providers who violate the law with a felony conviction and discipline from their professional licensing boards.

In a lawsuit filed today (Tuesday, May 2) by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma and the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, a group of families with transgender adolescents and Dr. Shauna Lawlis of OU Health “assert SB 613 unjustly and unfairly targets them and gender-affirming health care in violation of their rights under Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment,” according to a press release from Lambda Legal.

“Based on nothing but animus towards transgender people and a campaign of misinformation and disinformation, Oklahoma officials have decided to prohibit the provision of necessary, safe and effective evidence-based medical care for trans adolescents in Oklahoma,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, counsel and health care strategist at Lambda Legal. “These actions risk the health, the well-being and the very lives of trans youth in the Sooner State. We will not stand idly by as discriminatory laws endanger our community.

“Trans youth in Oklahoma and elsewhere deserve no less,” Gonzalez-Pagan continued. “We are proud to represent, alongside our co-counsel, these five courageous families and a caring doctor who together are standing up for their rights.”

ACLU of Oklahoma Legal Director Megan Lambert added, “Every Oklahoman should have the freedom to access the care they need to survive and thrive. But once again, instead of deciding to boldly lead our state, Gov. Stitt and members of the legislature have decided to risk the lives of one of our most vulnerable populations, to score political points with their base.

“Oklahoma consistently ushers in the bottom of almost every list nationwide, from education and incarceration to healthcare and privacy,” Lambert said. “But lawmakers choose to spend their time pushing dangerous rhetoric on topics they know nothing about and attacking transgender children, instead of addressing the real issues Oklahomans face day to day. We all deserve the freedom to control our bodies and seek the healthcare we need, including gender-affirming care. The ACLU of Oklahoma and our partners have warned lawmakers that we will take swift action on any ban on gender-affirming care signed into law, and today is the day we make good on that promise.”

Harper Seldin, staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, called the new law “a dangerous attack on the rights of families and their transgender youth,” saying that Stitt and those who passed the bill “have ignored the voices of parents, medical providers and transgender youth themselves, instead choosing to put their politics between doctors and their patients. We’re confident the state will find itself completely incapable of defending this law in court and welcome the opportunity to fight for the safety, dignity, and equality of trans Oklahomans.”

The following sites updated: