Saturday, December 31, 2022

Labor story of 2022

Are you ready to presoak?  Reminder, if you're eating black-eyed peas on Sunday for New Years and using dried black-eyed peas, you're going to need to start soaking them tonight.

Okay, the labor story of the year?  How UAW conspired to rig the election for UAW president and to shut out candidate Will Lehman.

Tom Carter (WSWS) reports:

On December 19, UAW presidential candidate Will Lehman filed a formal protest to the results of the 2022 officer elections “in their entirety.”

Lehman’s written protest to the court-appointed monitor overseeing the ballot is an encyclopedic historical record of the election, comprehensively detailing every facet of the antidemocratic conspiracy by the entrenched bureaucracy to cling to power by suppressing the vote.

The 50-page protest and dozens of pages of attachments, compiling information gathered through the growing networks of rank-and-file members that were established in the course of Lehman’s campaign, demonstrate that the bureaucracy repeatedly violated American labor law and that the election was illegal.

Lehman, the only socialist candidate in the election, won nearly 5,000 votes among rank-and-file auto and academic workers from across the country. But unless his protest is upheld, his name will be excluded from the runoff election next month, which will be limited to the leading candidates of the union’s bureaucratic apparatus, Ray Curry and Shawn Fain, each of whom earned less than 4 percent of the total eligible votes amid massive voter suppression. 

One million out of 1.1 million eligible members did not vote in the election because the UAW leadership deliberately kept them in the dark. This is not a matter of opinion but of provable fact. Lehman’s protest describes, for example, how the UAW national “Member News” web page, which is incorporated into many local union web sites, made no reference to the election whatsoever between July 29 and November 29.

While it maintained a conspiracy of silence around the union’s internal elections, the bureaucracy devoted vast resources to campaigning for the Democratic Party in the national midterm elections. In those elections, which took place at the very same time as the union election, the bureaucracy utilized advanced techniques, organized public events, and bombarded union members with advertising in an effort to increase turnout by reminding workers of voting deadlines.

There is no innocent explanation for this contrast. If the union had spent the same resources on its own election as it did supporting Democrats in the midterms, the turnout would have indisputably been far higher.

His campaign issued the following statement:

On December 5, the UAW Monitor announced unofficial results from the UAW’s first-ever direct elections of its national leadership, which were held as the result of a years-long corruption scandal which sent more than a dozen top UAW officials to prison. The Monitor’s vote tally showed that only 103,495 ballots were counted, out of a total eligible voting membership of 1.1 million active and retired workers—a turnout of less than 10 percent, the lowest turnout by far for any direct union election.

Lehman’s protest submitted to the Monitor extensively documents, including numerous statements submitted by workers and data from other direct union elections, how the UAW apparatus systematically failed to inform workers of the fact that union elections were taking place, or took only the most minimal measures to do so. At the same time, the UAW went to great lengths to “get out the vote” for the Democratic Party in the run-up to the US mid-term elections, demonstrating that UAW had the means to inform workers of the union elections, but deliberately did not do so.

In November, Lehman had earlier filed a lawsuit in US District Court requesting that voting deadlines in the UAW elections be extended by 30 days and that serious measures be taken to ensure all workers were informed of the elections. The judge in the case, while acknowledging serious problems with the election procedure, dismissed the suit on narrow technical grounds.

To remedy the violation of workers’ democratic right to participate in a meaningful election, “ballots should be re-issued and a new election should be held,” Lehman states. “In the alternative, the names of all candidates should be added to the ‘runoff.’ In either case, this time adequate measures must be taken to prevent the union leadership from suppressing the vote and ensure that the entire membership is aware of the election and able to vote.”

“I urge workers in the UAW to read the full protest and to share it as widely as possible,” Lehman added. “Contact my campaign and send us a statement supporting my challenge opposing the UAW bureaucracy’s attempt to once again trample the rights of the rank and file. Let me know if you were unable to secure a ballot, or if you have other relevant information about efforts to suppress the vote.”

The UAW repeatedly sold out autoworkers in 2022 so it shouldn't be a big surprise that they also worked to rig the union's presidential election.

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

Friday, December 30, 2022.   REUTERS lies for Moqtada again, ISIS remains active in Iraq (as CENTCOM admits), a former prime minister denies abuse allegations made by THE WASHINGTON POST, Glenn Greenwald and that Mother Tucker Carlson continue their "Bad Bromance" and much more.

2022 is not over but it is winding down.  In his last column for the year, Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) looks back at the year and notes many things including:

+ Glenn Greenwald’s insta-column posted soon after the Buffalo massacre is one of his most revolting. It read less as a defense of his pal Tucker Carlson than a “manifesto-by-proxy” of Glenn’s own rancid views on immigration…

+ After Greenwald’s full-throated defense of Replacement Theory, you wonder how much longer he’ll have any utility at all to the rightwing roosts he’s been perching on for years, where he was only useful because they portrayed him as a left-winger attacking the Left. Now he’s clearly just another reactionary craving the spotlight to air his writhing knot of grievances. But Glenn’s not nearly as entertaining as the 100-proofers Marjorie Taylor Greene, Dan Bongino or Gregg Gutfeld. More & more, his airplay on Fox will be “replaced” by Gabbard.

[. . .]

+ Five minutes after Paul Gosar (Bigot-AZ) claimed that the Ulvade mass murderer was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien”, Glenn is lamenting to his soul(less)mate Tucker Carlson how the left is politicizing the shooting…


It's been quite a year for Glenn.  Not one of accomplishment.  He hasn't accomplished anything in 2022.  He's Tweeted.  He's rolled dogged -- not raw dogged -- with his buddy Tucker Carlson providing cover for Tucker to hide behind as Tucker continues to attack the LGBTQ+ community.  Glenn did that in college too -- he chuckled at anti-gay 'jokes' and cozied up to the anti-gay people.  made him feel cool in his acid washed jeans and he liked being the token.

It's a difficult time for him now.  His husband could die at any moment, for example.  Glenn's decided that instead of hanging around the hospital -- the way, say Debbie Harry did when Chris Stein got ill -- a boy's just got to Tweet and start a new daily talk show.  He's so Jules in ST. ELMO'S FIRE, oh-oh.

Apparently, Glenn does believe in some sacrficie -- hair and make up staff are non-existent on his show and we get to see how ugly Glenn's face really is when no one can put powder on him.  

But he's being remembered this year.  For example:

Glenn Greenwald and that Mother Tucker, the bromance of 2022.  Picture this, indeed.

Over to Iraq . . . 

Eve Ottenberg (COUNTERPUNCH) observes:

The American republic morphed well over a century ago into an empire of many endless wars. With U.S. troops still in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and numerous African countries, with over 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and a war budget of roughly one trillion dollars a year, it’s no surprise that one of our main exports is weapons and that arms merchants call the shots in Washington. Presidents come and go, but the wars don’t: they drag on. And when a president does manage to extract the country from one of these military quagmires, as Biden did in Afghanistan, he gets nothing but grief. 

Troops remain everywhere.  And there's been no ending to the Iraq War.   Eve asks a question and then provides the sad truth:

How long will U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq and Syria? Let’s just say that at the current rate of political change, if your grandchildren enlist, they could wind up there. The only real hope is that another president will do there what Biden did in Afghanistan, though maybe without the sanctions

Need more proof that the war drags on?  CENTCOM is claiming they killed 700 members of ISIS in Iraq and Syria this year.  No, the year's not over yet but they made the announcement yesterday.  Maybe ISIS told CE NTCOM that they were  taking off today and tomorrow?  Here's the CENTCOM release:

Dec. 29, 2022
Release Number 20221229-1

TAMPA, Fla. – Throughout 2022, US Central Command and partner forces conducted hundreds of operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). These operations degraded ISIS and removed a cadre of senior leaders from the battlefield, to include the emir of ISIS and dozens of regional leaders as well as hundreds of fighters. All these operations were part of the mission to degrade the terror group’s ability to direct and inspire destabilizing attacks in the region and globally, to include against the US homeland.

During calendar year 2022, CENTCOM conducted 313 total operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria as follows:

 In Syria:

 108 partnered operations
 14 US unilateral operations
 215 ISIS operatives detained
 466 ISIS operatives killed

 In Iraq:
 191 partnered operations
 159 ISIS operatives detained
 At least 220 ISIS operatives killed

These operations were conducted under the authority of the CENTCOM commander, who retains authority for operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and under the command of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. No US forces were injured or killed in these operations. Our local partners—the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces—have and continue to play a critical role ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS.

One year ago this month, the US security relationship with Iraq fully transitioning to a role of advising, assisting, and enabling Iraqi Security Forces. Iraqi Security Forces are now leading successful unilateral offensive operations at the brigade level and making impressive strides in combined arms operations.

“Over the past year, Iraqi Security Forces demonstrated an ability to continue operations to degrade ISIS, to aggressively pursue the terror group in Iraq, and to improve security and stability within Iraq,” said General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, CENTCOM commander. “Today, they display a high level of competence, professionalism, and progress in leading tactical operations, but there is still much work to be done.”

“In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to display the will, skill, and ability to aggressively root out ISIS leaders and fighters,” Kurilla continued.

“The emerging, reliable and steady ability of our Iraqi and Syrian partner forces to conduct unilateral operations to capture and kill ISIS leaders allows us to maintain steady pressure on the ISIS network,” said Major General Matt McFarlane, commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

ISIS maintains malign intentions regarding the al-Hol Displacement Camp and the more than two dozen detention centers in Syria secured by the Syrian Democratic Forces. ISIS also maintains the desire to strike outside of the region and continues to work with affiliates around the globe, most significantly in Afghanistan and Africa.

“CENTCOM sees ISIS in three categories,” said Kurilla. “First, ISIS at large. This is the current generation of ISIS leaders and operatives we are currently fighting in Iraq and Syria. While we have significantly degraded its capability, the vile ideology remains unconstrained. We must continue to pressure ISIS through our partnered operations.”

“The second category is ISIS in detention. There is a literal ‘ISIS army’ in detention in Iraq and Syria. There are, today, more than 10,000 ISIS leaders and fighters in detention facilities throughout Syria and more than 20,000 ISIS leaders and fighters in detention facilities in Iraq.” The January 2022 ISIS prison breakout in Al-Hasakah, Syria is a reminder of the risk imposed by these prisons. The ensuing fight to contain the breakout resulted in more than 420 ISIS killed and more than 120 partnered forced killed.

“Finally,” Kurilla continued, “we have the potential next generation of ISIS. These are the more than 25,000 children in the al-Hol camp who are in danger. These children in the camp are prime targets for ISIS radicalization. The international community must work together to remove these children from this environment by repatriating them to their countries or communities of origin while improving conditions in the camp.”

“CENTCOM remains focused on supporting these security forces as they diligently work to improve conditions at the camp. However, the only viable long-term solution remains the successful repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of the camp residents back to their country of origin.”

The mission to defeat ISIS will continue in 2023 as CENTCOM and its Coalition partners remain committed to the enduring defeat of the terror group in order to maintain and enhance global security, stability, and human rights.

“We are committed and, more importantly, our partners in Iraq and Syria are committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said McFarlane.

As we have said over and over, since the White House and Iraq insisted in 2014 that ISIS was vanquished, ISIS has not gone away.

A terrorist group carries out activies to strike fear.  It really doesn't occupy and control land.  ISIS, however, did manage to do that.  All that 2014 accomplished was freeing Mosul and other areas from ISIS' control.  They remain active.  We were laughing at SKY NEWS' realization of that fact earlier this year.  ISIS hasn't gone away.  

And you don't 'defeat' terrorism with military measures.  You defeat it by overturning the conditions that allowed to breed to begin with.

Military measures?  That's like setting off a fogger in a room your house or aparment.  That just sends the bugs to another room.  That's all military measures do as well.  

Despite the fact that ISIS continues to terrorize, the Iraqi government is (again) moving to shut down camps where displaced Iraqis have taken shelter.  ANADOLU AGENCY reports that the plan is to shut them down over the next six months:


Iraqi Immigration and Displacement Minister Ivan Faik Jabro stressed that as part of the government's 2023 planning, the camps will be closed in about six months and migrants sent back to their homes.

He noted that other ministries will also support the project and necessary positive living conditions will be provided to migrants where they will return.

Jabro emphasized that the infrastructure of places belonging to immigrants that became unusable during [the] terror group attacks should be re-zoned.

"Infrastructure, water, electricity and municipal services should be provided in the immigrants’ areas as soon as possible,” said Jabro. “In the next six months, the relevant ministries must definitely fulfill their duties.

So it will be taken of?  Great.  Now the took the school project, right?  What's that?  They put it on hold:

Iraq is pushing ahead with plans to build 1,000 schools under an agreement with Chinese companies but the project is delayed by the war in Ukraine, an official has said. 

Chinese firms agreed to construct the schools in Iraq’s 15 governorates under their 2019 oil-for-projects accord which stipulates supplying companies from China with crude oil in exchange for projects they undertake in Iraq. 

The project to build 1,000 schools has achieved “good execution rates” but there are obstacles, said Nazim Hameedi, School Projects Director at the Iraqi Cabinet Secretariat. 

“These obstacles include land allocation and logistics problems…most of these obstacles have been tackled except for funding from the executing companies due to the war in Ukraine…as a result Iraqi firms undertaking such projects for their Chinese  partners are trying to seek domestic loans to complete these projects,” Hameedi told Aliqtisad News. 

They're "pushing ahead with plan" even though "the project is delayed."  What great spin for a project that's been dragging on since 2019.  Doesn't instill trust that, after the kick the refugees out of the camps, the places for these displaced Iraqis to live will actually have been built.

These stalled and never completed projects go to the extreme corruption in Iraq.  Robert Tollast and Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) report:

In October, Iraq’s acting finance minister Ihsan Jabbar shocked the world by announcing an investigation into $2.5 billion that had gone missing from Iraq’s General Commission for Taxes, a department in the Ministry of Finance. It was described as the heist of the century.

The money had been given to five shell companies set up last year and investigations are ongoing, but experts tell The National that while several political parties have been implicated, senior officials are unlikely to be punished.

Earlier this month, it was alleged that attempts to toughen anti-corruption efforts by former prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi ended in a series of raids against rivals resulting in the death of one suspect under torture.

New Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani has placed a former intelligence chief and Iran-linked enforcer in a new anti-corruption team, while the new head of the country's biggest anti-corruption body is close to the Iran-linked Badr Organisation, stirring fears of more purges that do little to get to the root of the problem.

“If you look at the people in positions linked to the organisations where the theft happened, or those reported to be involved, you get a lot of political actors. From the Popular Mobilisation Forces [a largely Iran-backed militia force] to [former prime minister Mustafa Al] Kadhimi to [Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al] Halbousi to the Sadrists. It's unlikely that such a big theft went on without a major player taking a cut,” says Hamza, a consultant in Iraq who used to work for the main government auditing body. His name has been withheld for security reasons.

Mustafa?  Earlier this month, Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) reported:

Kadhimi, who left office in October, came to power in 2020 after mass anti-corruption demonstrations felled his predecessor. His government’s high-profile campaign to tackle graft in one of the world’s most corrupt countries drew widespread international encouragement.

Central to the effort was a series of highly publicized night raids in late 2020 on the homes of public figures accused of corruption, conducted under the authority of the Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, better known as Committee 29. The architect of the raids was Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim, or Abu Ragheef, who became known in Iraq as the “night visitor.”

But what happened to the men behind closed doors was far darker: a return to the ugly old tactics of a security establishment whose abuses Kadhimi had vowed to address. In more than two dozen interviews — including five men detained by the committee, nine family members who had relatives imprisoned, and 11 Iraqi and Western officials who tracked the committee’s work — a picture emerges of a process marked by abuse and humiliation, more focused on obtaining signatures for pre-written confessions than on accountability for corrupt acts.

Those interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters or, in the case of detainees and their families, to protect their safety.

“It was every kind of torture,” one former detainee recalled. “Electricity, choking me with plastic bags, hanging me from the ceiling by my hands. They stripped us naked and grabbed at the parts of our body underneath.”

In at least one case, a former senior official, Qassim Hamoud Mansour, died in the hospital after being arrested by the committee. Photographs provided to The Post by his family appear to show that a number of teeth had been knocked out, and there were signs of blunt trauma on his forehead.

Allegations that the process was riddled with abuse became an open secret among diplomats in Baghdad last year. But the international community did little to follow up on the claims and the prime minister’s office downplayed the allegations, according to officials with knowledge of the issue. Although a parliamentary committee first revealed the torture allegations in 2021 and Iraqi media have raised the issue sporadically, this is the fullest attempt yet to investigate the claims and document the scale of the abuse.

Mustafa has responded.  Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) reports:

 Iraq’s former Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Wednesday responded to the allegations of torture and extortion committed by an anti-corruption committee during his tenure, saying that the accusations lack “legal evidence” and that the committee had operated “in accordance with judicial rulings.”

A nine-month investigation by the Washington Post earlier this month concluded that Iraq’s Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, also known as Committee 29, had used extreme methods of torture, including sexual violence, to extract pre-written confessions from former Iraqi officials and businessmen. The report relies on interviews with several of the detainees, their family members, as well as Iraqi and Western officials.

In his first remarks since the publication of the article, Kadhimi stated that, during his time in office, he had always worked towards upholding human rights and preventing the “reoccurrence of any violations” in the interrogation process, adding that a report from the Attorney General at the end of 2021 stated that the committee had “adhered to all international standards of Human Rights.”

Mustafa, no one believes your lies.  Most outlets aren't even taking the time to note that two days ago -- two days -- you denied the allegations.  Bark, guilty dog, bark.

As the year winds down, Reporters Without Borders looks at violence aimed at journalists around the world.  They note that over the last two decades (2003 to 2022), approximately 80 journalists have been killed a year for a total of 1668.  And they note:

During the past two decades, 80% of the media fatalities have occurred in 15 countries. The two countries with the highest death tolls are Iraq and Syria, with a combined total of 578 journalists killed in the past 20 years, or more than a third of the worldwide total. They are followed by Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine. Africa has not been spared, with Somalia coming next.

Sadly, there's no journalistic bravery at REUTERS these days.  That explains their latest tongue batch of cult leader and killer Moqtada al-Sadr.  "Now here are some scenes from the next episode of MOQTADA AL-SADR, MOQTADA AL-SADR," the article seems to say.  To their credit, they do note that he flopped as a 'kingmaker.'  But, before we praise them for that, two things.  First, his failure as a kingmaker is hard to deny at this late date.  Second, they were among the biggest of those pimping the lie -- starting in October of 2021 -- that he was a kingmaker.

While they were pimping that claim, we were scoffing and disputing it.  A year later?  

They want to lie that Moqtada has left politics -- since August.  Really?  From December 3rd:

Need more reality?  Moqtada al-Sadr is scum of the earth.  He leads a cult and, over the years, the US press has decided to go soft on him and present as a leader (he's not) and a kingmaker (never) instead of as the cheap ass thug he actually is.  He's flaunting his true colors again.  Daniel Stewart (360 NEWS) notes:

"I vow to confront homosexuality or the LGBTQ community through ethical, peaceful and religious means, against this violation of the innate characteristics on which humanity is built," according to a statement accompanied by his signature and posted on Twitter by his spokesman Salé Mohamed al Iraqi.

The cleric has reiterated his message by calling for the creation of an abolition of the alleged law of homosexuality in Iraq because "it cannot be a door to generalize this affliction".

In reality, homosexuality has been legal in Iraq for 20 years because the country does not have a law explicitly criminalizing it.

However, it does have a regulation prohibiting "immodest acts," probably the one Al Sadr was referring to, which Human Rights Watch has described as a "vague provision that could be used to target minorities."


Poor, dumb and uneducated Moqtada.  He can never by a religious leader above 'cleric' because he doesn't have the background and couldn't get it even when he ran off to Iran in 2007.  Poor idiot Moqtada.

And, please don't forget, that two years ago, he explained 'the gay' caused other things as well:


And maybe those who've been stupid enough to promote Moqtada over the last three years could wake up to reality?

All that stuff we noted above?  REUTERS never reported on it.  They are a news agency.  Moqtada has spent the last three years demonizing Iraq's LGBTQ+ community (something he began doing in the '00s) and REUTERS has never, ever felt the need to comment on that.  They've given him one tongue bath after another. In December, he announced he was confronting gays and that's not political, REUTERS?  What a joke that outlet has become.  And, remember, I say that as someone who publicly called them out here when they installed a CIA agent in Iraq as a reporter.  That was right after Barack Obama became president.  The 'reporter' made no (journalistic) mark at REUTERS and, in fact, did such a bad job that the cover of 'reporter' hasn't been used by the agent since.  You'd think that would be REUTERS worst moment in Iraq, however, the tongue bath that they continue to give to Moqtada puts the knowing employment of the CIA agent to shame.  (To be clear, some at REUTERS told me in real time that it wasn't known the 'reporter' was CIA until after being hired and deployed to Iraq.  Regardless, the 'reporter' was enployed for a long time after everyone knew about it.)

As for Moqtada, it's a shame he can't live in the US where he could be best buddies with Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor-Greene and do things in front of the camera with Mother Tucker Carlson.  Or live in Brazil where Glenn Greenwald could be his bodyguard -- the Kevin to Moqtada's Whitney.


The following sites updated:

Friday, December 30, 2022

Black-eye Pea Soup in the Kitchen

 Are you someone who eats blackeyed peas, corn bread and greens on New Year's Day?  As tradition or to garner good luck?

If so, Joanne recommends you try this recipe for black-eye pea soup:


  • 12 ounces dried black-eyed peas 
  • 5 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups shredded collard greens
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  • Place black-eyed peas in a large bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Let sit overnight (8-12 hours). Drain. 
  • In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy.
  • Add onion and cook 3 minutes to soften.
  • Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  • Add water, chicken bouillon, black-eyed peas, ham, carrots, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.
    Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 2 hours
  • Stir in collard greens and apple cider vinegar and cook 10 to 15 minutes.

The way it's supposed to work is "peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold."  Lentils, fish, pork, chicken, noodles, etc are other things people eat on New Year's Day for good luck.  

I do eat black-eyed peas but I eat them at least once a week anyway.  But we will have a pot of black-eyed peas on the stove on Sunday.

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

Thursday, December 29, 2022.  Tucker Carlson uses the airwaves again to promote lies and homophobia, other hate merchants fuel and fund his 'movement,' the alleged killer of an Iraqi journalist is named, and much more.

What's the Goop that's landed on Glenneth Greenwald's face?  I believe it's the last remaining bits of self-respect as his roll dog Tucker Carlson keeps pimping hate and homophobia.

Tucker Carlson’s big holiday treat for Fox Nation subscribers was a slew of fear-mongering and transphobic comments from Libs Of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik, who appeared for the first time on camera on Carlson’s Fox Nation show, and called the LGBTQ community a “cult” and pushed more bogus grooming claims about trans people. 

Raichik’s comments came near the end of her hour-long interview on Carlson’s daytime program on the Fox News streaming platform. It follwed a discussion about the “intel” Raichik claimed to have gathered on the kind of gender-affirming care offered to trans kids at Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. That had happened back in August — around the same time Boston Children’s Hospital faced a deluge of threats following misleading info shared by Libs of TikTok and other right-wing outlets — with Raichik claiming her surreptitiously recorded calls with two telephone operators at Children’s National proved the facility was giving hysterectomies to trans teenagers.    

  Children’s National quickly and easily debunked the calls, first noting that the two people Raichik spoke with were not actually people who “deliver care to our patients.” Additionally, a hospital spokesperson said, “We do not and have never performed gender-affirming hysterectomies for anyone under the age of 18.”

Nevertheless, the calls got a ton of play in conservative media circles, and Carlson was still fawning over them during his new interview with Raichik. “I assume the person who said that is not like a serial killer, or not an evil person,” Carlson said of the phone operators Raichik recorded, “but that’s so evil. What is going on here, do you have any theories?”

In response, Raichik said, “The LGBTQ community has become this cult and it’s so captivating, and it pulls people in so strongly, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. And they brainwash people to join and they convince them of all of these things, and it’s really, really hard to get out of it.”    

What followed was a discussion about gender-affirming care, which Raichik and Carlson reframed as a kind of sterilization based on this false belief that hospitals are providing procedures like hysterectomies to teenagers and children. The claim contradicts established guidelines from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which advise against gender-affirming surgery for children and adolescents. Such surgeries are somewhat rare even among adult transgender patients, and almost unheard of for children and minors. Medical guidelines advise prioritizing supportive care and work with mental health professionals for younger children, and the option to explore the use of puberty blockers for adolescents under the guidance of medical professionals.

This is outrageous and it comes at a time when LGBTQ+ persons are already being targeted.  It's a very dangerous climate.  Elizabeth Miller (OPB) reports:

A new survey of LGBTQ youth across the country finds 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in 2021, the year survey responses were collected. At the same time, 60% of youth who wanted mental health care were not able to get it.

The 2022 survey on LGBTQ youth mental health comes from The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and mental health organization.

In the three years since The Trevor Project started surveying LGBTQ youth, the percentage of respondents reporting symptoms of anxiety has increased. So has the percentage of youth who say they’ve considered suicide.

In addition to questions about mental health, the survey includes national data on the percentage of youth who report they have experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender. The survey also has figures on the impact of COVID-19 on their families.

In the hour-long interview, Raichik and Carlson discussed her since-debunked claim that certain children’s hospitals were performing hysterectomies on trans teenagers.

Carlson asked Raichik if she had any “theories” about what was going on with “evil” people who offer affirming care to minors.

Raichik replied: “The LGBTQ community has become this cult and it’s so captivating, and it pulls people in so strongly, unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

She went on to claim LGBTQ+ people “brainwash” others to “join” their movement and that it’s “really, really hard to get out of it”.

Raichik also referred to unnamed “studies” on parents who find they cannot stop their children from being trans or non-binary. 

Putting homophobes like her on TV is adding fuel to the fire in an already intensely violent climate in the US.  Justin Murphy (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE) reports:

Nearly half of LGBTQ people in the Rochester area feel at risk of verbal or physical attacks, according to recently released survey data.

According to the data:

  • 50% of LGBTQ people fear a verbal attack and 45% fear a physical attack
  • 63% know of a specific instance of discrimination, and 50% have witnessed one themselves
  • 50% believe discrimination against LGBTQ people is problem and 32% say it has worsened in the last few years; among non-LGBTQ people, 8% believe it is a problem and 16% believe it has worsened

"We know that words can turn deadly, as we saw with the horrific mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs last month,” Karen Elam, the Levine Center's executive director, said in a statement. “We are continuing to find that the responses to our survey underscore the fear that members of minority groups in our community are feeling.”

Club Q?  This month,  the House Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by US House Rep Carolyn Maloney, held a hearing entitled "The Rise of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism and Violence in the United States."  The hearing was held due to the rise in violence aimed at the LGBTQ+ community which includes last month's Club Q shooting.  The shooting left five people dead:

  • Daniel Davis Aston, 28
  • Kelly Loving, 40
  • Ashley Paugh, 35
  • Derrick Rump, 38
  • Raymond Green Vance, 22

The shooting also left twenty-five people injured.

Michael Anderson, James Slaugh and Matthew Haynes survived the shooting and they made up the first panel before the Committee. The second panel made up of Human Rights Campaign's Kelley Robinson, Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor Brandon Wolf, National Center for Transgender Equality's Oliva Hunt, Inside Out Youth Services' Jessie Pocock and The Williams Institute's Ilan Meyer.

It was amazing to watch the Republicans refuse to denounce the attacks on LGBTQ people and to try to turn the House of Representatives into the state of Florida under "Don't Say Gay" by refusing to even utter the term LGBTQ+.  Democrat Mondaire Jones noted the Republican silence.

US House Rep Mondaire Jones:  As I said on the floor of the House during the debate on the equality act [Respect for Marriage Act], to grow up poor, Black and gay is to not see yourself anywhere.  It is also to feel completely unseen as so many people around you invalidate your very existence.  Growing up, like many people in this room, I suspect, I watched as straight politicians -- many of them White, many of them men -- used my basic human rights as a political football to further their careers.  And now, as the first openly gay Black member in this body, I'm even more familiar with the vile, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that terrorizes our community and that somehow is even more harmful when it's aimed at queer people of color.  Let me also just say, to amplify what Representative Porter had discussed previously [see Friday's snapshot for that exchange] that I and people on my team have also reported many of these Twitter accounts that have hurled explicitly homophobic insults at me in particular and have received e-mails stating that they are not somehow in violation of Twitter's purported standards.  So clearly, there is something amiss at Twitter but I think many of us have known that now for the past few months given the leadership changes.  Many of us are scared for our lives and rightfully so.  LGBTQ Americans know that gay bars and clubs are our sanctuaries for our communities to gather without fear of being judged simply for being who they are.  So many of these spaces become second homes where we can  experience the full freedom to be ourselves.  Such was the case for me.  In my first year of law school, I was still closeted.  The gay bars of New York City were the only place I could be my authentic self and those spaces helped me to come out and to be the man -- the Congressman -- that I am today.  I cannot imagine my journey to self-acceptance and to understanding without these sanctuaries which are now under assault.  The horrific mass shootings at Pulse Nightclub and at Club Q create fear among LGBTQ Americans that gay bars and clubs -- these places of refuge for members of our community -- are no longer safe.  These attacks, along side other acts of violence, against our community and the growing chorus of hate and disinformation against LGBTQ people tell us that over the past few years, this country has become a more dangerous place for us to live unfortunately.  Even those who simply provide services essential to the physical and mental well being of members of our community are under attack.  Earlier this month, a doctor affiliated with The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center in Boston faced credible death threats for their role in providing gender affirming care to transgender youth.  The following day, The First Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus, Ohio was forced to cancel a family friendly holiday themed Drag Queen story telling event after far right extremists from the Proud Boys and the Patriot Front showed up to protest armed with AR 14s, dressed in military gear, chanting far right slogans and performing Nazi salutes.  When leaders across the country -- including sitting members of Congress -- are peddling age old hateful and false narratives about 'grooming' and pedophilia, these are the types of people who show up in response.  A recent Human Rights Campaign report found that as Florida state government enacted its discriminatory Don't Say Gay law, anti-LGBTQ misinformation surged by over  400% on social media platforms.  And worse, instead of condemning this deadly wave of misinformation and hate, members of this body have added fuel to the fire.  In October of this year, Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana introduced his own Don't Say Gay bill to amplify this hateful policy on a national scale and dozens of members of this body co-sponsored that legislation.  Shame on them.  If enacted, Mr. Johnson's heinous bill would, among other things, prohibit federally funded schools from providing sex education or library books to children under ten that include LGBTQ topics.  In doing so, his bill would send a message to LGBTQ children in the most vulnerable stage of their lives that they are an "other" whose very existence society refuses to recognize. It is hard, in closing, to listen to the stories of Club Q and Pulse Nightclub survivors and not be in awe of their bravery and resilience.  So I thank you for your courage.  I'm furious that our community is forced to live again and again with this pain but I am optimistic about the future of this country with your leadership.

It's amazing because the Republicans in Congress can say gay all they want when they're attacking LGBTQ+ people.  And they can trash them on the floor of Congress and cry like babies when it's time to vote The Respect for Marriage Act into law.  But when it's time to support and defend LGBTQ+ Americans?  Republican members of Congress go silent as US House Rep David Cicilline noted in the hearing.

US House Rep David Cicilline: Republicans are happy to discuss our community when they're attacking our rights, when they're crying on the House floor because they oppose marriage equality or when they releasing statements attacking our community in press releases and when they release new bills targeting our community.  But when it comes to actually discussing the violence against our community and its causes?  Just a quick condemnation of what happened at Club Q and violence broadly and nothing more.  In my view, this is shameful. 

And this is not a time for silence or for looking the other way.  At THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Mark Shenefelt offers "Utah sharpens data on hate crimes; LGBTQ people are top targets" and Ann Branigin (WASHINGTON POST) observes:

LGBTQ spaces — such as queer bars, community centers and gay-owned businesses — have long had to prioritize safety, especially in places where they historically could not rely on police to keep them safe.

Now, an old problem has reached a new level of urgency, business owners, performers and community leaders say. After a year where anti-LGBTQ attacks have intensified across the country, many gay and trans communities are rethinking how to best protect themselves.

Several national organizations have launched new initiatives aimed at strengthening defenses; local businesses have stepped up safety trainings for staff; and individuals are seeking classes and resources for de-escalating attacks.

For LGBTQ business owners, safety is “the number one issue. Period. Hands down. By a mile,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Safety efforts are complicated by the many forms these threats have taken, advocates, performers and researchers said. At school board meetings, protesters have accused teachers and officials of promoting a “gender ideology” and “grooming” children for abuse. Extremists have threatened children’s hospitals. Members of the Patriot Front, a white supremacist group, were arrested in June for plotting a riot at a Pride event. In statehouses across the country, lawmakers filed scores of bills aimed at curbing the rights of LGBTQ educators, youth and families.

In our recent analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, we found that the odds of being a violent hate crime victim for LGBTQ people was nine times greater than it was for cisgender and straight people from 2017 to 2019.

There were an average annual 6.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 LGBTQ people during this three year period.

In contrast, there were 0.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 cisgender and straight people.

At this month's House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney pointed out:

The violence that took place at Club Q follows years of long efforts by some state lawmakers to erase LGBTQ+ people from school curriculum, limit their access to healthcare and undermine their ability to fully participate in society.  Now state lawmakers are not alone.  They're have been many actions here in Congress pushing the same kind of draconian, extremist policies.  For example, more than 30 House Republicans introduced their own version of Florida's "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law which would restrict federal funding for schools that include LGBTQ+ people in their curriculum.  

And it goes beyond erasing them from the curriculum.  The attacks are rooted in the desire to erase LGBTQ+ persons from the world.  And to pretend that they have not existed historically.  The most powerful African-American in DC following the end of the Civil War was William Dorsey Swann who didn't hide in fear but identified himself as the queen of drag and held drag parties in DC.  Arrests didn't send him running.  He fought for the rights of LGBTQs -- especially for the guaranteed right of Freedom of Assembly.  Jon Sims  (THE PAPER) notes the history within the Indigenous community in North America:

Interestingly enough, the Indigenous LGBTQ community is pretty large and active. For generations, our communities included these individuals in our lives without issue. We’wha, the well-known “two-spirit” individual from Zuni Pueblo, is an excellent example of this. These are people in our communities since day one. 

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), StrongHearts Native Helpline (StrongHearts), and the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center (AKNWRC) explained this beautifully in their publication Reconnecting with Native Teachings and Creating Healing Spaces with and for 2S+/LGBTQ+ Victim-Survivors of Domestic Violence. “Because of colonization and the church/missions, older generations have forgotten the roles of 2-spirited relatives within our communities. So our way of supporting our LGBTQ relatives is reintroducing those teachings and roles that our grandparents may have forgotten.”

Mattee adds, “Even within tribal communities too, some are more accepting than others. How does that also look with community members? How do we address those issues? How do we reteach our people? Not hearing the word “f**got” or “queer”; or “they’re disgusting.” That’s growth. “Don’t be queer.” Stuff like that, that’s where the hate teaching that’s coming from. And it still happens to this day. Even transphobic jokes and homophobic jokes. We have always been part of this community, Not even as people like to say “two-spirit,” that idea of gender, that’s not our tradition. Physical gender wasn’t as important as the roles that a person played in the community.

The Bible is often used to condemn the LGBTQIA+ community. The specific verses used to further homophobic and transphobic agendas have come to be known as the “Clobber Verses.”  However, these verses aren’t actually saying what many people think they are saying.

Biblical marriage

For example, when people condemn same-sex marriage in favor of “Biblical marriage,” they are ignoring the many and diverse examples of marriage that are found in the Bible. In actuality, the Bible endorses monogamous marriages between one male and one female in addition to polygamy, sexual slavery, incest, and forced marriage to virgins…and God even blesses all these varieties of marriage.

Another example is this: just because two genders are mentioned in the creation stories does not mean that only two genders exist. God created man and woman in Genesis 2, just like God created day and night in Genesis 1.  However, the time of the day is not just two things; it’s actually a spectrum that includes things like dawn, midday, dusk and twilight. Similarly, gender is a spectrum that includes things like people who are trans and nonbinary.

Lost in translation

In modern translations of the Bible, Leviticus seems to condemn homosexual activity. However, the Hebrew words used to write scripture have much more nuanced meanings than can be conveyed in one quick, easy translation. When you look at these scriptures in their original linguistic and cultural contexts, you can see that Leviticus is specifically condemning sexual activity that involves incest.

In the same way, what we read in 1 Timothy seems to condemn homosexual activity.  But when we go back to the scripture in its original Greek form, we can see that it is talking about sexual acts that are coercive in nature (specifically pederasty and rape) rather than sexual acts that occur between two consensual adults of the same gender.

In Romans, Paul is writing against unbridled passions as opposed to stable, appropriately utilized desires within committed relationships.  In 1 Corinthians, he’s responding to the patriarchy and pederasty that existed in that society.

Of course, all of these examples are much more complicated than what can be explained in such a brief piece of writing, but the important thing to remember when reading the Bible is that we are reading a translation of what was originally written. Throughout time and through the process of translation, the meaning of the Bible as we know it today has lost much of what the original authors actually intended.

[. . .]

The Bible also tells us that all people are made in the image of God. This means that when you are looking at another individual, you are looking at a reflection of God…even if you are looking at an individual who is queer or trans.

You will never look upon a person who is not one of God’s beloveds. So the next time one of us feels like we have something hateful or hurtful to share with someone, I would like to encourage us to remember whose we are talking to.

The hate doesn't just happen.  It's fueled.  LGBTQ NATION spoke with journalist Imara Jones ("The sequel to her award-winning podcast The Anti-Trans Hate Machine drops in March") about the funding of this movement:

LGBTQ Nation: And how about the DeVos/Prince clan itself?

IJ: When we say the DeVos family, we’re talking about the fusion of two billionaire families into one. Betsy DeVos was born Betsy Prince into the really wealthy Prince family. And then she married Richard DeVos. It’s actually a giant clan, a billionaire clan. And there is not a far-right organization, and in many cases designated hate groups, who exist without the largess of that family. Betsy DeVos, or Betsy Prince and her husband, Richard DeVos are the second generation in this billionaire kind of clan.

Richard DeVos’ father, for example, was extremely important to the founding of the Heritage Foundation. The Prince family, which is Betsy DeVos, helped to fund the headquarters of the Family Research Council, which is designated by the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] as a hate group. And they’ve been involved in so many far-right organizations throughout the decades. And so what you have here in this second generation is kind of a sophistication of their operation and particularly in Betsy Prince, this kind of fusion of strategy, of money and a whole host of other things.

LGBTQ Nation: How does that manifest itself?

IJ: So this family is kind of the royal family of the Christian nationalist movement. And they set the example for how to move money throughout the right wing for all of the other really wealthy families. They participated in an annual gathering of Christian nationalist billionaires called The Gathering, in which Betsy DeVos is on tape coaching them in terms of how, as a wealthy person in this far-right movement, you move money to other things, and encouraging them to do so. There is religious extremism in their views, which is what’s driving a lot of this.

As well, all of the Trump administration’s anti-trans policies came out of the DeVos Center for Family and Religion that’s housed in the Heritage Foundation. People were moved from that center into the Trump administration where they began to disseminate these policies. I think that we have to keep in mind that Betsy DeVos is just the most visible person of this large, far-right billionaire clan that has been active for over 40 years.

It takes a lot of money to fund a hate movement.  Look at Iraq where the 'powerful' fundamentalist cleric and cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr has returned to attacking LGBTQ+ people in an attempt to regain his lost power.  Without big money behind him, he struggles.  He and Betsy DeVos share hatred for the human race but he doesn't have her money so he struggles to get his hate parade marching.  He's not able -- so far -- to really destroy history and erase reality.

Michael Anderson survived the Club Q shooting.  He testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee this month:

To my fellow LGBTQ community, events like this are designed to discourage us from speaking and living our truth.  They are designed to scare us from living openly, courageously and proudly.  We must not succumb to fear, we must live prouder and louder than ever before.  We must continue to be who we are, for who we are is exactly who we are meant to be.  And to the children watching this, feeling you may not be like other kids:  I understand you and I see you.  You deserve to be exactly who you are, no matter what anyone has to say.  In the words of my personal gay icon Christina Aguilera, you are beautiful no matter what they say.  Words can't bring you down, so don't let them bring you down today.

Betsy DeVos and others pretend they care about children.  They have to ignore the reality that those under 18 include LGBTQ+ persons because they know they're not helping those children at all.  They're trying to intimidate and bully with the goal of wiping out a whole swath of people who are just trying to live their lives in an alleged democracy.  They are hate merchants attempting to become death merchants.

And in Iraq, there is news in the October murder of journalist Nagihan Akarsel.   First for background, from Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the murder of Nagihan Akarsel, a Kurdish magazine editor and influential feminist advocate, who was gunned down outside her home in Iraqi Kurdistan on 4 October, becoming the fifth Kurdish person of Turkish origin or critic of the Turkish government to be attacked in this autonomous region in northern Iraq in the past year.

“We are appalled by the murder of this Kurdish feminist journalist and writer, perpetrated at a time when Kurdish women are leading a revolt for women's liberation,” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “This is the fifth attack – four of them fatal – on a resident of Turkish origin or outspoken critic of the Turkish government in Iraqi Kurdistan in less than a year. We call on the local authorities to do everything possible to shed light on this murder, bring those responsible to trial, and render justice to Nagihan Akarsel.”

A journalist and academic of Turkish origin, Akarsel was gunned down on the morning of Tuesday 4 October outside her home in Sulaymaniyah, the city in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan where she had lived for the past three years. After her body was taken to the city’s institute for forensic medicine, the Asayish – the Kurdistan Regional Government’s security forces – issued a statement in the evening reporting that her attacker had been arrested and was being investigated.

Akarsel co-edited Jineologî, a magazine dedicated to the “science of women,” which regards women’s individual liberation as a pre-condition for society’s liberation. She was also well known for her research on women, both abroad and in Kurdistan, and she had helped to found the Academy of Jineology in Iraqi Kurdistan. After studying journalism at the University of Ankara, she worked for the magazine Hevia Jin. She also did sociological research in the regions of Afrin and Sinjar (Shingal in Kurdish).

“We will forever remember Nagihan Akarsel, who has been working for decades to create the mental and intellectual power of the women’s revolution, whose slogan Jin-Jiyan-Azadî ["Women-Life-Freedom"] echoes around the world today,” the magazine Jineologî said in a statement. Referring to Mahsa Amini, the Kurdish woman who died in custody in Iran last month after being arrested by the morality police, the magazine added: “Against the same mentality of patriarchal fascism that brutally murdered Jîna Aminî, we are growing the women’s revolution in all of Kurdistan and beyond.” 

Other Kurdish feminist groups, including Network Women Weaving (an international women’s solidarity network founded at the initiative of Kurdish women) and university academics have condemned Akarsel’s murder, accusing Turkey’s intelligence agencies of orchestrating it.

Akarsel is the fourth Kurdish dissident of Turkish origin to be murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan since September 2021. 

The shooter of Nagihan Akarsel, a Kurdish feminist academic and founding member of the Sulaymaniyah-based Jineolojî Academy, was identified as Ankara-born İsmail Peker on 25 December, reported Mezopotamya News Agency.

Security forces in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) arrested several suspects on 7 October during the investigation into the killing of Akarsel, who was shot dead on 6 October. However, they did not make the identity of the suspected assailants public.

One week later, on 12 October, Voice of America (VOA) shared a video of a man who was said to be the Turkish assassin who killed Akarsel, then deleted the video shortly after it was uploaded.

Sources in Sulaymaniyah told Medya News of their own suspicions that the pressure came from officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Turkish embassy.

The same day, statements appeared by Ali Rıza Güney, Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, who said that Turkish forces were behind the assassinations of activists in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Member Zübeyir Aydar spoke to Stêrk TV on 25 December regarding the assassination and made public the identity of the hitman’s name as İsmail Peker, who was born in Turkey’s capital Ankara.

“This person [İsmail Peker] is already a criminal, he has already confessed himself. We have the information that he confessed,” said Aydar. “In his statement, the suspect says, ‘I came for this [to kill Akarsel], they [Turkey] gave me money’. In other words, they organised a plan and sent him there.”

If indeed true, this would be yet another reason for the Iraqi government to immediately expel all Turkish troops in Iraq and to shut down Turkey's illegal military bases in Iraq.  The world has allowed the government of Turkey to carry out a Kurdish genocide while going along with the pretense that Turkey is just attempting to combat terrorism.

The following sites updated: