Sunday, July 16, 2023

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is no enivornmentalist

This is from NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED


KELLY: All right. What are we hearing from Kennedy on the campaign trail?

BOND: Well, he launched this campaign pledging to heal political divides in America and fight collusion. And he's been out there, you know, giving tons of interviews. He's on podcasts. He's talking to magazines, TV networks. And these interviews are just full of conspiracy theories, misleading and even outright false claims. And many of these are things he's been saying for years. So he has claimed that chemicals in the water supply could be turning children transgender. He claims Wi-Fi causes cancer and what he calls leaky brain. He's even suggested that AIDS may not be caused by HIV. And he's repeated his longest false running claim - his longest-running false claim that vaccines cause autism. And, of course, Mary Louise, there's no credible evidence for any of this. But, you know, listening to him, it all adds up to this very conspiratorial worldview, this idea that they - whether it's the government, pharmaceutical companies, the media - are lying to you, but he's telling the truth.

KELLY: When you say Kennedy has been embracing conspiracy theories for years and we said he's been shunned for that by many circles for years - what is driving him to prominence today?

BOND: Yeah, I mean, you're exactly right. Those views really did sideline him from the mainstream for a long time. But then COVID happened, and the pandemic really gave an opening for Kennedy and other anti-vaccine activists to gain traction. Here's how Kolina Koltai put it. She's a researcher who studies the anti-vax movement.

KOLINA KOLTAI: The global pandemic made vaccines and, you know, disease, like, the conversation, right? And everyone's online. It was able to propel, I think, Kennedy in a way that he would - probably would not have been able to if the pandemic never happened.

BOND: You know, so during COVID, you know, he was very critical about how the government handled the pandemic. And he aligned himself with many of these criticisms we heard from the political right - right? - opposing mask and vaccine mandates and school and business closures. Kennedy also falsely claimed that COVID vaccines were unsafe and promoted debunked alternative treatments. And, you know, that ultimately was what led to him losing some of those social media accounts.

KELLY: Oh, and did that - losing social media accounts - did that actually end up getting him more attention?

BOND: Well, it did. And I think it kind of gave him common cause - right? - even more common cause with some of these figures on the right. So he's described being banned from social media as censorship. He accuses the Biden administration of playing a role in getting him deplatformed. And, you know, these are complaints we hear from conservatives. And this is what has set the tone for his presidential run, which is now giving him an even bigger platform than he had with COVID.

KELLY: Well, I guess the central question here - is this getting him anywhere with voters?

BOND: Right. I mean, many of these views are very out of step with mainstream Democrats, especially vaccines, which, you know, Americans support largely across political parties. Now, the polls do show him gaining some support. Of course, he is still well behind President Biden. And it's hard to know. It's very early, right? You know, it's interesting. As he's campaigning to the degree that he's doing in-person campaigning, he's appeared at many libertarian, even conservative events. Those are not the places you'd expect to reach Democrats.


It is more and more disappointing.  As C.I. noted in Friday's snapshot, Mr. Kennedy is not even an environmentalist anymore. Mr. Kennedy does not any regulation to address climate change because, get this, the free market will handle it all by itself.


He really is a fright-winger now.  Here is SECULAR TALK addressing Mr. Kennedy's latest nonsense.




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


Friday, July 14, 2023.  The continued persecution of Julian Assange, climate change continues to impact Iraq, Robert F Kennedy Jr sells out the environment, the only thing worse than Casey DeSantis' fashion choices are her words, and much more.


Starting with Julian Assange, Patrick Boylan (PRESSENZA) reports:

Incarcerating Julian Assange gives governments the power to imprison any journalist, Stella Moris Assange told a packed room at the Swiss Press Club in Geneva last Monday (2023-07-10). According to the wife of Australian journalist Julian Assange, still imprisoned in the United Kingdom, this bullying technique is deliberately being used to frighten journalists and editors everywhere in the world: strike one to educate one hundred.

And unfortunately, the intimidation is already showing its effects, added the 39-year-old lawyer and human rights activist, who was born and raised in South Africa. Journalists have told her they work under the fear of being “Julian-Assange.” And she spoke of U.S. newspapers that have stopped doing investigative journalism altogether because their sources – the people inside the system who, in the past, used to leak the wrongdoings they came across – are now silent. Especially revealing is the confession of an editor who told her frankly that he is no longer willing to publish explosive revelations that could get him into trouble.


Julian is being persecuted for the 'crime' of journalism.  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, Guant√°namo 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.


Tim Dawson (UK PRESS GAZETTE) notes the damage done to the press itself by persecuting Julian:

And for so long as Julian Assange is in Belmarsh, or worse still, in a US jail, he provides a carte blanche for all those other regimes that would lock up journalists, and worse. 

Now there are lots of good reasons why Assange should be released, but none are more important than the collective damage to journalists that is done each and every day that he is behind bars.

If the UK government is sincere about promoting media freedom around the world, it should rule out Assange’s extradition. If the US wants to regain its moral force when protecting free expression, it should drop the charges.

Until that happens, whenever the jailers of journalists are called out, the response will be the same: a shrug of the shoulders and a one-word excuse, “Assange!”


Latika Bourke (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) writes that it's possible Julian's freedom might require a plea deal:

Assange argues he is a whistleblower and is the victim of a political prosecution initiated by the former Trump administration.

The election of Biden to the White House and Anthony Albanese in Australia had sparked hopes among Assange’s supporters that the case, being prosecuted by the independent Department of Justice, could be abandoned.

However, despite Albanese’s direct lobbying to Biden, this has not eventuated and in May, the prime minister said Assange himself needed to be part of the solution to resolve his case, signalling that the 52-year-old may have to accept a plea deal to obtain freedom.


Paul Gregorie (Sydney Criminal Lawyers) offers an analysis of recent statements and events which includes the following:

Julian’s case is testament to the stranglehold that governments, especially the US, are placing on the free press in a time of mass global communications: a case in which extralegal measures in plain sight of all, have been taken to set a precedent to what happens to those who expose certain truths.

There is one last glimmering light of hope left after a UK High Court Justice rejected his last appeal on 8 June, which is one final UK domestic plea to two new judges in a public hearing of that same court.

Yet, Britian, one of our nation’s closest allies, officially signed off on extraction in June last year.

And last week saw Australian foreign minister Penny Wong admit on-air that despite her government having attempted to use its official diplomatic channels to negotiate Assange’s release, all that it could do, has been done, and, basically, it has no more power to achieve anything else.

Wong was speaking to Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas on 4 July, when the host raised that the day prior had been Assange’s fifth birthday spent in a UK gaol, and asked what the government was doing on the matter, since earlier this year, the minister had said the case had dragged on too long.

“Ultimately, this is a legal case in another jurisdiction involving another country. That is both the United Kingdom and the United States,” Wong, who has given similar explanations in the past, told the ABC radio breakfast show host in response.

“So, there are limits to what Australia can do. And I know people believe that somehow, we can fix this,” the foreign minister continued. “Actually, there are limits to what Australia can do.”

The Labor senator added that all her government has the ability to do continues to be done, which is to tell the US and the UK governments, the two administrations this nation recently formed the AUKUS pact with, “that this has dragged on too long, and… that this be brought to a close”.

Wong not only admits here that her government has reached the end of its ability to push the case for Assange being returned, as it’s been raised on a number of occasions “at the most senior levels”, but she also hints that the government’s position wasn’t necessarily that extradition be ruled out.

When Karvelas pushed Wong on when she had last consulted diplomatically on the matter, she received a taciturn, “I’m not going to go into that, but you and I both know I’ve engaged with the foreign secretary, and, obviously, we have engaged with the United States”.



Turning to Iraq, in yesterday's snapshot, we were noting the climate change effects in Iraq.  We noted PRI had a report by Shirin Jaafari that was available in audio and I stated text would be up later -- it is up now.  We'll note this from the report:

The water situation is not much better in cities.

“The tap water is not usable unless you are using it to wash clothes or something like this,” said 39-year-old Zuhair Muhammad, who lives in Basra in southern Iraq, and relies on bottled water for drinking and cooking.

Muhammad, who lives alone, spends about $7-$10 on bottled water per week. He can afford it, but many others can’t. That’s why people are moving to other parts of the country in search of better access to clean water.

Meanwhile, as Iraq dries up and as the impacts of climate change makes life more difficult, people like Ahmed are trying to raise awareness about protecting the environment by posting on social media.

“I’m in love with nature,” Ahmed said. “I want to be part of saving this nature and the biodiversity in Iraq.”


According to an official at Basra's agriculture directorate, Abbas Dakheel, only four authorised fish farms continued to work this year, as opposed to 15 in 2020.

"This water is green, dirty and polluted. No fish can live in this water," said Karam, kneeling down next to a pipe irrigating his pond.

He said that his fish were now either sick, failing to grow or dead as a result.

Jumaa Shia, head of Basra's directorate of water resources, said the city of 1.3 million needs to share its decreasing water resources among domestic users, agriculture, the oil industry and electricity generation.


Iraq is expected to be one of the hardest hit by climate change in the next few decades.  Let's stay with climate change for a bit more but move over to the US where various personalities are attempting to look presidential ahead of the November 2024 election.  

Robert F. Kennedy Jr should be judged by his supporters -- especially when they're his big money supporter invited to an event. Rebecca Friedman (OK!) reports:


Big whoop! One special guest at Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s press dinner decided to let one rip in an absurd effort to make his opinions on climate change heard.

On Tuesday, July 11, Kennedy Jr. attended what he thought would be a prestigious evening at Tony's on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in an attempt to prove the prominence of his 2024 presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination against President Joe Biden.

At some point in the evening, an intense screaming match erupted — causing the night to take a turn for the worse, according to a news publication's first-hand experience at the event.

A guest had asked Kennedy Jr. a question about the environment, as the 69-year-old is the founder of Waterkeeper Alliance, an ecological organization protecting bodies of water in the United States and around the world.

The conversation ticked off seemingly drunk publicity agent Doug Dechert, who was hosting the event for Kennedy Jr.

The former gossip columnist yelled as loud as he could, claiming: "The climate hoax!"

Anthony Haden-Guest, an octogenarian art critic — who according to the news outlet, was dozing off for a majority of the dinner — appeared to be woken up by Dechert's loud statement, as he opened his eyes and called his longtime pal a "miserable blob."

"Shut up!" Haden-Guest responded in an attempt to get Dechert to allow Kennedy Jr. to answer the question.

Dechert didn't listen, however, and started going on an erratic rant about how climate change is a "scam."



That's what you get, Junior, when you court crazies with your own crazy.  Kyle Koster (THE BIG LEAD) points out, "It's all so ridiculous and yet it makes a lot of sense that these are the people surrounding RFK Jr. as he tries to build a monetary war chest and be taken seriously."


Staying with wacky Junior, Bryan Metzger (BUSINESS INSIDER) reports:


When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. launched his campaign to be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee in April, at least one Republican senator took the time to watch the entirety of Kennedy's nearly two-hour-long speech: Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

"I hope he gains traction and wins the nomination," Johnson said of Kennedy, later quipping that he didn't "want to harm his chances by saying good things about him."


This ties into the previous one.  And let's leave vaccines.  The writer then wants to note Johnson and Junior's shared opinion there.  That's not the troubling thing.  If you're supporting Junior, you know where he stands on this issue.  What's troubling it what took place at the event as a climate change denier went off.  What's troubling is, via WIKIPEDIA, this:


Johnson rejects the scientific consensus on climate change,[7] describing it in 2021 as "bulls[**]t."[34] In a 2010 interview, he called attributing global warming to manmade causes "crazy," saying the theory is "lunacy," and attributed climate change to causes other than human activity.[35] Johnson also suggested carbon dioxide was good for the environment, as it "helps the trees grow."[7] In dismissing the effects of climate change, Johnson falsely claimed that Greenland was green when it was discovered and had become white and snow-clad over time as a result of cooling temperatures.[7] In August 2015, Johnson baselessly claimed that "the climate hasn't warmed in quite a few years. That is proven scientifically," although record world temperatures were reached that year and in 2014.[36] Johnson co-sponsored the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would block the EPA from imposing new rules on carbon emissions.[37] In an October 7, 2022, Senate campaign debate, Johnson said, "The climate has always changed and always will change, so I don’t deny climate change",[38] repeating a similar statement he made in February 2016.[39]

When asked about allowing additional drilling for oil in the continental US, including the Great Lakes if oil were found there, Johnson responded, "We have to get the oil where it is, but we need to do it responsibly. We need to utilize American ingenuity and American technology to make sure we do it environmentally sensitively and safely." After criticism from the Feingold campaign, Johnson said in July 2010 that his answer did not mean he supported drilling in the Great Lakes.[40]




Again, I'm not addressing the vaccines.  I don't address them.  I've never addressed that issue and never will.  I fundraise for autism and have been pressured for years.  I can't take sides on this and won't.  The world will get along just fine without knowing my personal beliefs.  But the issue here is climate change.  Where does Junior stand on that?  Once upon a time, we thought we knew.  Once upon a time, he was the great environmentalist.  

Now he's constantly around supporters -- big money supporters -- who don't believe in climate change.  Ron Johnson does not believe in climate change.

I don't think the planet can wait for the quacks to catch up.  I think we've waited too long as it is to seriously address climate change.  

Junior wants to be president.  Junior's only claim to fame and honor is his environmental work.  We now see a completely different Junior than we did in the 90s, for example.  Is he now a climate change denier?  He needs to answer that.  

My personal guess?  Junior still believes in climate change but Junior won't publicly address this because the freaks supporting him -- bitches with their panties in a wad over having to wear a mask during the pandemic -- don't believe in climate change.

He doesn't want to address it but it's the first thing he should have to address because it's a pressing issue for the entire world, the scientific community -- educated people -- know this is a problem.  If he doesn't believe it's a problem, he needs to say that -- and lose some support.  If he does believe in climate change, he needs to demonstrate a backbone and say what he believes.
 

Naomi Klein Tweeted:

Now feels like a good time (re: RFK Jr) to remind folks that denial and sneering are not viable political strategies. Kennedy will use these platforms to spread his anti-vax message, xenophobia and Prozac conspiracies. Has the Democratic consultant class learned nothing since Trump? https://theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jun/14/ignoring-robert-f-kennedy-jr-not-an-option

Naomi Klein, what do you think you're achieving?  Drop the vax issue.  Climate change is the issue. 

I don't understand people who have brains but don't use them.  Before you run for office, you dump any known issue out there and do in order to say, "We've already addressed that." And Junior and the vaccines?  A known issue before he decided to run.  

It's not going to change minds at this point.  If you're worried about Junior's campaign or just bored and want to have a little fun, you focus on his strengths.  That's what you tear down.  Didn't people learn anything from 2004?  John Kerry was armor plated and the Bully Boy Bush crowd couldn't do anything to take him down!  Why, he's even a veteran!  

Yes, he was.  And that was one of his strengths with voters.  So that's what the GOP went after and destroyed.

Junior doesn't have many strengths.  He's got the family name, he's got a great wife and what else? The only thing he can point to that resembles a year book credit for the presidency is his environmentalism background. 

 
Young supporters of Junior will leave if he comes out as a climate change denier.  If he comes out as a believer in climate change, his fringe crazy supporters will leave.  If you want to press on an issue, it's climate change.  Again, his environmental image is the only one left standing currently.  Force the Vote? How about force Junior to take a stand.

He's running a wink-and-nod campaign where he expects the left to endure because of his family while he courts and curtsies to the right-wing fringe.  Want to stop that charade?  Demand that he address where he now stands on climate change.

No one seems to be paying attention to this -- and that's despite his Tweet this week:


Climate change is being used to control us through fear. Freedom and free markets are a much better way to stop pollution. Polluters make themselves rich by making the public pay for the damage they do. You show me a polluter, I’ll show you a fat cat using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market. #Kennedy24

 
"Freedom and free markets"?  He's had his nose buried too deeply in Elon Musk's crotch.

He's a climate change denier.  No the free market is not going to halt climate change.  We now have our answer.

He's a fake and a fraud.  He doesn't believe in protecting the earth at all.  Those days are gone.  He exposed himself and, sorry, what he's packing is micro.   This is the issue you hit on if you care about the planet, this is the issue you hit upon if you care about stopping his vanity campaign.  

Vax! Vax! Vax!  You all sound like Gail Collins writing, in 2012, her thirtieth or so column in a row about Mitt Romney and the family dog Seamus. 

In other news, Cornel West hopes to be a candidate for the Green Party's presidential nomination.  He is not currently, he has not filed paperwork for it and there is no one currently running for the Green Party nomination.  He has publicly expresses his interest in the nomincation.


Yesterday, BLACK POWER MEDIA interviewed him. I have not streamed it and am not planning to.  If I stream it, my fear is we'll have to cover it -- Ava and I -- at THIRD and we've done this topic for several weeks in a row.  I know at least some THIRD readers are wanting something about entertainment programming so that's what we're hoping to write about -- a TV show or two.  But BPM has done the best interviews with Cornel so we're including the video in the snapshot.

Moving over to the GOP side, Doo-Doo Ron Ron DeSantis isn't married to a man, his wife just looks like one.  And while I grasp that Ron Ron's recent homophobic and homoerotic commercial was the height of stupidity Casey "Mama" DeSantis has her own video issues if anyone wants to take a moment to notice her ad trying to drum up support for her husband.  Problems such as?


Oh, Casey, a halter top?  Really?  With your flat chest?  No wonder they're calling her "Tacky Onassis" online.  Clearly, she has no fashion sense -- look at the way the top cuts across her chest and kind of digs into her armpits making her look even more flat chested and boxy.  Casey, this is where not being so hateful to gay men and drag queens could have helped you, they could have dressed you like a woman.  Clearly, your wardrobe has suffered ever since K-Mart closed.

In her ad, she speaks the usual lies -- she's protecting our children, blah blah blah.  


And while she speaks, we see 'children' like grown women -- adults -- competing in sports.  You know Casey, to steal from Denise Alexander on Gloria Monty, everyone calls you a mother but no one calls you mom -- if you grasp what I'm saying.


Here Casey is arguing with the voices in her head:


We will not allow you to exploit the innocence of our children to advance your agenda.  When you come after our kids, we fight back.  We are no longer silent.  We are united.  We are Mamas for DeSantis . . .and we will elect #RonDeSantis President of the United States.  Join our historic movement today."

Today?  Because by tomorrow Ron's bumbling campaign may be sunk completely?  

To be stupid and ugly and flat chested.  I feel for Casey, I do.  Looking like a man and being a lady golfer.  I guess some of her homophobia stems from other women making the assumption that she was a lesbian.  

No wonder you put that big bow on your daughter's head -- she looks like a little boy.  You're remembering your own childhood and the gender confusion others had when they looked at you, aren't you, Casey?   Don't worry, Casey, all your daughters don't look like boys.  In fact, one of them has teen pregnancy written all over her face, poor thing.



Online, Casey's facing pushback.  

You came for our children, Jackie-No! But I will be damned if I allow you and your bigoted family and friends to harm my children or even attempt to take away my parental rights. My children WILL NOT live under your Fascism. Mama Bears have the sharpest claws, and you better never forget that. Stay. Away. From. My. Kids!


Okay, two Tweets from Paul Rudnick, first an interview he's doing today.





Second, this disturbing news.

+ According to Linda Greenhouse, the Roberts Court has accomplished the entire conservative wish list over the last 18 years. On to banning birth control and allowing wife-beaters to carry guns!

+ From a Legal Times profile of Clarence Thomas in the 1980s: “He said he plans to be rich, says that means more than just a few hundred thousand dollars a year.” Around the same time, Thomas’s friend, Armstrong Williams (then his subordinate at the EEOC), paid for his wedding reception.

+ Thomas also “befriended” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who flew the Thomases around on his private jet, invited him to Dallas’ training camp, hosted him in his luxury suite when the Cowboys played in DC, and gave him a Super Bowl ring.

+ Speaking of Jerry Jones and black men…

+ A lawyer for the law firm Consovoy McCarthy, which argued both the case to kill affirmative action and to kill student debt cancellation, sent money via Venmo to Clarence Thomas’s clerk, Rajan Vasisht, with memos that make it clear it was for Thomas’s birthday.

+ Brett Kavanaugh: “If you’re in a high school gym, the abuse the referees get.  I always say, ‘God, who would want to be a referee at a high school basketball game?’ Then, I think, ‘I kind of do the same thing.’” Brett never really left high school, did he Squee?

+ At this point, Ethics Rules for the Supreme Court would only serve to paint a veneer of legitimacy over an anti-democratic institution which has now become the most dominate force in American government.

+ HRC: “I still feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of corporations and the wealthy.” Remind me, is that what you told Goldman Sachs?




The following sites updated: