Thursday, December 29, 2022

Food Party Rings and other New Year's Eve recipes

Are you ready for New Year's Eve?  It's Saturday and just around the corner.


Reserve the One Top: http://bit.ly/2v0iast Get the recipes: http://bzfd.it/2ykYqCT Check us out on Facebook! - facebook.com/buzzfeedtasty Credits: https://www.buzzfeed.com/bfmp/videos/...

Food party rings?  New to me.  I think I'll try to make one.



Finger foods are a must.  In addition to the recipes above, I need to note one that I started making three years ago when I came across Sport's Mom's website and saw her great recipe for New Year's Eve party mix:

Ingredients
  • 4 c. Rice Chex
  • 2 c. Pretzels
  • 2 c. Cheerios
  • 1 c. M & Ms
  • 1 bag White Chocolate Chips

Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except White Chocolate Chips.
  2. Place white chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl. Melt for 1 min. 30 sec. at 70% power and stir til smooth.
  3. Pour chocolate over snack mix and stir.
  4. Pour on wax paper and let set until hard.



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


Wednesday, December 28, 2022.  As Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange, the cries around the world to free Julian grow stronger. 



Starting with this from WSWS:

On December 2, Deanna “Violet” Coco was jailed for briefly holding up one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on April 13 to protest governments’ refusal to halt climate change.

In a serious attack on basic democratic rights, Coco was initially sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment, with at least eight months without parole, and denied bail. She was the first to be sentenced under laws introduced by the New South Wales (NSW) state Liberal-National government to impose fines of up to $22,000 and jail terms of up to two years for protests on roads, rail lines, tunnels, bridges and industrial estates.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet personally hailed the ruling, stating that protestors who “put our way of life at risk … should have the book thrown at them and that’s pleasing to see.” Echoing Perrottet, NSW Labor Party leader Chris Minns said he did not regret supporting the new laws. Labor governments in other states have adopted similar anti-protest laws, explicitly designed to protect business interests.

Coco appealed her sentence and was subsequently released on bail on December 13. At least a dozen other activists face imprisonment under the laws. One spent nearly four weeks in prison before being bailed on charges of organising protests after a massive police raid on a rural property near Sydney. WSWS reporters spoke with Coco last week about her protest and the precedent set by her jailing. 


[. . .]

WSWS: You’ve previously mentioned your support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Could you speak about what you think of his persecution and the connection with these laws?

VC: Julian Assange is a hero. WikiLeaks was a brave act of exposing the truth. It is clear he is being made an example of. It’s unjust. Julian needs to be brought home now.

It’s very concerning when people doing the right thing face state repression. There have been three other climate protestors in Australia jailed for peaceful protests this year. They were sentenced to three months’ jail, and they got out on bail. People need to be really careful about what is going on in Australia right now. Tim Curry and Max Cerny were jailed for disrupting Port Botany, under disrupting infrastructure laws. Andrew George was sentenced to three months for invading a football field and setting off a flare. I was really shocked.

This is also a global trend, with 20 activists being held in remand prison in the UK for five weeks now. This was for discussing organising a protest on a zoom call.

We cannot let this scare us into inaction though because climate breakdown will be way worse than anything they can throw at us, and we have so little time left to make a difference, that we must act now.

WSWS: In 2010 when the persecution of Assange began, we said that this was going to be used as a precedent. The attack on Assange was not just on him or even WikiLeaks but any journalists, or any workers who wished to oppose the trade union bureaucracy, or the companies, or the government and that the implications of this would be felt all around the world.

VC: It’s true, people have warned me not to stand up against the ruling class because they have a monopoly on violence and dominance. It’s easy for them to commit such an attack on our freedom, or worse... However, it’s just too important of an issue to be silent. Also, remember, we are stronger together. 



US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian and, for those who've forgotten, 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.


Is part of that push a former prime minister of Australia?  Matthew Knott (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) reports:

Supporters of Julian Assange have welcomed Kevin Rudd’s appointment as Australia’s ambassador to the United States, saying they are hopeful he will use the position to press the Biden administration to drop espionage charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange remains in London’s Belmarsh prison in London as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face charges over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents and diplomatic cables relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

As far back as 2010, when he was serving as foreign minister, Rudd had insisted that the US government and whoever leaked the documents should be held responsible for the disclosure rather than Assange.

In a 2019 letter to the Bring Julian Assange Home Queensland Network, Rudd said Assange would pay an “unacceptable” and “disproportionate” price if he was extradited to the US.

Rudd said he could not see the difference between Assange’s actions and the editors of American media outlets who reported the material, adding that the US had failed to secure classified information appropriately.

“The result was the mass leaking of sensitive diplomatic cables, including some that caused me some political discomfort at the time,” he wrote.

“However, an effective life sentence is an unacceptable and disproportionate price to pay. I would therefore oppose his extradition.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese appointed Rudd to the nation’s most prestigious diplomatic posting on Tuesday, saying he would “conduct himself in a way that brings great credit to Australia”.



Anton Nilsson (CRIKEY) points out, "Julian Assange’s family is feeling cautiously optimistic about the appointment of Kevin Rudd a Australia’s US ambassador. Rudd has vocally supported the jailed Wikileaks founder despite being humiliated by some of the material he published."





On June 17, 2022, the United Kingdom approved Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States to face charges, primarily under the nation’s Espionage Act, for releasing US government records that revealed the US military committed war crimes against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the killing of two Reuters journalists. If found guilty, Assange faces a jail term of up to 175 years.

The IFJ is gravely concerned about the impact of Assange’s continued detention on media freedom and the rights of all journalists globally. The US pursuit of Assange against the public’s right to know poses a grave threat to the fundamental tenets of democracy, which are becoming increasingly fragile worldwide. Irrespective of personal views on Assange, his extradition will have a chilling effect, with all journalists and media workers at risk.

The case sets a dangerous precedent that members of the media, in any country, can now be targeted by governments, anywhere in the world, to answer for publishing information in the public interest. 

Wikileaks was awarded the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism in 2011, an annual prize to reward excellence in Australian journalism, in recognition of the impact of WikiLeaks’ actions on public interest journalism by assisting whistle-blowers to tell their stories. Whistle-blowers have since been utilised by other media outlets to expose global tax avoidance schemes, among other stories. 

The sentence of Chelsea Manning, who collaborated with Assange to release the contentious material, was commuted by President Barack Obama. None of WikiLeaks’ media partners have been charged in any US government legal proceeding because of their collaboration with Assange. Aside from the dire implications for press freedom, there is also no legal criterion for Assange’s extradition and charges.

The IFJ is calling on the United States government to drop all charges against Julian Assange and allow him to return home to be with his wife and children. The IFJ is also calling on all media unions, press freedom organisations and journalists to urge governments to actively work to secure Assange’s release. #FreeAssangeNOW



U.S. persecution of Assange horrifies the world. Brazil’s president-elect Luis Inacio Lula da Silva urged on November 29 that Assange be freed from his “unjust imprisonment,” which would mean that this abomination, this so-called legal case should be dropped. Colombian president Gustavo Petro met with Wikileaks and pledged on social media November 22 to “ask President Biden…not to charge a journalist just for telling the truth.” The leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua have also called for freeing Assange. Previously, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador on two occasions petitioned Biden on Assange’s behalf. Even Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese on November 30 urged the U.S. to stop its chase of Canberra’s citizen, Assange.

This may be the most significant plea, because Australia is an ally that almost never bucks the U.S., while the other aforementioned countries are all headed by leftists, to whom Washington might be disinclined to listen. So something could well be in the wind. But still, Albanese’s request could be met with the same resounding silence as greeted those of the Latin American leaders. Following in Trump’s footsteps, Biden has so far enabled the atrocious abuse heaped on the Wikileaks founder by the U.S. government, so it is unlikely these protests from mere heads of state will deter him from letting that obscenity under which Assange is charged, the Espionage Act, run its course. Fortunately, Assange has taken action to get his unjust treatment heard in another venue. On December 2, he filed an appeal against the decision to extradite him to the U.S. And he filed it in the European Court of Human Rights. His supporters eagerly await the verdict, even if the Exceptional Empire ignores one that contradicts its wishes.


Joe Biden,  the world is watching you.  This will determine your legacy.  Will history remember you as someone who supported democracy, the public's right to know and a free press?  Or will history see you as just another huge disappointment, a liar who mouthed a bunch of meaningless words but never provided any real leadership?


Turning to Iraq, THE ARAB WEEKLY notes:

Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani is facing pressure from forces within the Coordination Framework to reconsider his country’s strategic agreement with the United States, at a time when he needs good relations with the US administration and wants to avoid unnecessary turbulence with Washington.

At the same time,  he must take into consideration the position of the Coordination Framework, a coalition of pro-Iranian formations providing him with political support especially in parliament,

Iraq and the United States signed a strategic framework agreement in 2008, which included a number of provisions regulating the presence of US forces in the country, as well as bolstering cooperation in economic, cultural and political fields.



And then there's ISIS which also isn't going anywhere.  It was not vanquished in 2014.  The terrorist organization remains in Iraq continuing to stage attacks. SKY NEWS stumbles into reality this week as they slack-jawed observe, "While it no longer controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State remains a threat and will seek to spring 10,000 of its fighters from Syrian prisons in 2023, experts say."  This as RUDAW notes:

A spokesperson for the Iraqi army on Monday revealed that they had killed over 200 Islamic State (ISIS) fighters only in 2022.

Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesperson for the Joint Operations Command, told Rudaw on Monday that “the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq is low and those existing are Iraqis." He added that the group has exploited the security gas between the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in disputed areas.



The following sites updated: