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Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
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Journal Archives

David Corn: Henry Kissinger at 100: Still a War Criminal.

Forget the birthday candles, let’s count the dead.


Henry Kissinger is turning 100 this week, and his centennial is prompting assorted hosannas about perhaps the most influential American foreign policymaker of the 20th century. The Economist observed that “his ideas have been circling back into relevancy for the last quarter century.” The Times of London ran an appreciation: “Henry Kissinger at 100: What He Can Tell Us About the World.” Policy shops and think tanks have held conferences to mark this milestone. CBS News aired a mostly fawning interview veteran journalist Ted Koppel conducted with Kissinger that included merely a glancing reference to the ignoble and bloody episodes of his career. Kissinger is indeed a monumental figure who shaped much of the past 50 years. He brokered the US opening to China and pursued détente with the Soviet Union during his stints as President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser and secretary of state. Yet it is an insult to history that he is not equally known and regarded for his many acts of treachery—secret bombings, coup-plotting, supporting military juntas—that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands.

Kissinger’s diplomatic conniving led to or enabled slaughters around the globe. As he blows out all those candles, let’s call the roll.

Cambodia: In early 1969, shortly after Nixon moved into the White House and inherited the Vietnam War, he, Kissinger, and others cooked up a plan to secretly bomb Cambodia, in pursuit of enemy camps. With the perversely-named “Operation Breakfast” launched, White House chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman wrote in his diary, Kissinger and Nixon were “really excited.” The action, though, was of dubious legality; the United States was not at war with Cambodia and Congress had not authorized the carpet-bombing, which Nixon tried to keep a secret. The US military dropped 540,000 tons of bombs. They didn’t just hit enemy outposts. The estimates of Cambodian civilians killed range between 150,000 and 500,000.

Bangladesh: In 1970, a political party advocating autonomy for East Pakistan won legislative elections. The military dictator ruling Pakistan, Gen. Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, arrested the leader of that party and ordered his army to crush the Bengalis. At the time, Yahya, a US ally, was helping Kissinger and Nixon establish ties with China, and they didn’t want to get in his way. The top US diplomat in East Pakistan sent in a cable detailing and decrying the atrocities committed by Yahya’s troops and reported they were committing “genocide.” Yet Nixon and Kissinger declined to criticize Yahya or take action to end the barbarous assault. (This became known as “the tilt” toward Pakistan.) Kissinger and Nixon turned a blind eye to—arguably, they tacitly approved—Pakistan’s genocidal slaughter of 300,000 Bengalis, most of them Hindus.

Chile: Nixon and Kissinger plotted to covertly thwart the democratic election of socialist president Salvador Allende in 1970. This included Kissinger supervising clandestine operations aimed at destabilizing Chile and triggering a military coup. This scheming yielded the assassination of Chile’s commander-in-chief of the Army. Eventually, a military junta led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet seized power, killed thousands of Chileans, and implemented a dictatorship, Following the coup, Kissinger backed Pinochet to the hilt. During a private conversation with the Chilean tyrant in 1976, he told Pinochet, “My evaluation is that you are a victim of all left-wing groups around the world and that your greatest sin was that you overthrew a government which was going communist.”


Landmark European ruling on LGBT+ rights

European same-sex couples have a right to civil unions, Romania and Russia have recently discovered.


The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg—right to privacy and family life once more upheld

During 2019 and 2020, 21 gay and lesbian couples in Romania joined a complaint against the state to the European Court of Human Rights over the lack of official recognition of their relationships. After over a decade of bottom-up activism and unsuccessful reforms, such couples continue to be legally invisible in the country.

Gays and lesbians in Romania cannot make medical decisions on behalf of their partners. They cannot take leave from work should their partner get sick or die. They cannot receive compensation if someone accidentally kills their partner or a survivor’s pension. In sum, they cannot enjoy most of the rights and benefits of heterosexual spouses.

In a major judgment delivered on Tuesday (Buhuceanu and Others v Romania), the European Court of Human Rights condemned the government in Bucharest for its failure to guarantee the rights of such couples. The court affirmed that under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)—the key Council of Europe instrument it is mandated judicially to interpret—same-sex couples enjoyed a right to civil unions.

Non-intuitively, this stems from a privacy right: article 8 of the convention requires states-party to respect one’s private and family life. Yet even though article 8 protects a negative sphere where couples must enjoy their family ties, it also creates—in the language of the court—certain positive obligations, which require the state to give content to the right. Only a comprehensive framework can allow same-sex couples fully to enjoy their family relationship, which is hence required under the convention.


IL Catholic churches concealed widespread sexual abuse to nearly 2,000 children, investigation shows


The Illinois Attorney General’s office found the state’s six dioceses “covered up” for hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, according to a report on the multi-year investigation. The diocese had previously publicly reported 103 credibly, but the AG’s investigation found evidence of 451 Catholic clergy who abused just shy of 2,000 children (1,997), according to the report. For many of the cases, the statute of limitations has expired, which means these cases cannot be tried in criminal court.

Furthermore, according to the investigation’s findings, numerous cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy members were either ignored or significantly downplayed by the church hierarchy. Victims reported a consistent pattern of being discouraged from reporting incidents to the authorities, instead being directed to internal processes that often failed to result in appropriate action being taken against the perpetrators.

Survivors of the abuse have expressed deep disappointment and anger at the church’s mishandling of their cases. Many have accused the church of prioritizing its reputation over the well-being of its members, and have called for a thorough investigation into the alleged cover-up. Additionally, survivors are seeking justice through the legal system, aiming to hold both individual perpetrators and the institution accountable for their actions.

“As an adult I’ve learned how it affects you and how it just breaks you down. It was in my first confessional and extremely painful,” said Eddie Burkel, a survivor of sexual abuse in the Joliet diocese. Burkel was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Bolingbrook when he was abused by Father James Nowak, he told ABC 7 Chicago. He is one of 28 survivors abused by Nowak.


You'll Never Believe Which Cable News Channel Is Super Woke

Good job guys!



WASHINGTON, DC – We’ve all observed how Fox News and the broader Red Hat entertainment complex tells its fanboys one thing, while doing the opposite behind closed doors. Most recently, we learned through the Dominion lawsuit that Fox News hosts privately sneered at the Trump-invented conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, while insulting and ridiculing the operatives who were tasked with spreading the bullshit. We also know that many of these alleged news organizations enforced mask and vaccine mandates during the worst parts of COVID, while opposing those things on the air. And now we can add more duplicity to the list. Hang on tight, this is a good one.

By now we all know that the Republican anti-woke holy war against the LGBTQ community and, specifically, trans people and drag performers has reached new depths of horrendousness. Led by the Daily Wire network of podcasts – bigoted sideshow geeks Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Matt Walsh, and probably Major Frank Burns – and joined by Ron DeSantis, Fox News, and others, this jihad has contributed to the passage of harrowing anti-trans, anti-drag laws, bans on trans athletes, bathroom bills, and bans on gender affirming care, while boycotts have been deployed against Budweiser, Target, Disney, and more. You’ll never believe the movement’s next target. A far-right news site called The Daily Signal acquired a leaked copy of the Fox News employee handbook. In it, the network goes Full Woke when it comes to matters of gender identity. From the article:

Not only is Fox News supportive of trans employees, but presumably its HR department will help to facilitate the transition process. I suppose you could call it Fox News Gender Affirming Care. Along those lines:



The sonnet machine

A sonnet contains an emotional drama of illusion and deception, crisis and resolution, crafted to make us think and feel


‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ The opening line of William Shakespeare’s most famous sonnet might lead you to think that you’re being prepared for a weather report. But that is only part of what awaits you. Shakespeare’s sonnet – like all sonnets – is a mechanism, a kind of a machine. Its parts work both together and against each other so as to exercise the mind of the reader. When you work with it, as you enter its world, you get the literary equivalent of a workout at the gym.

The history of poetry is a history of forms, many of which we learn in school. We learn about the ode, which praises a person or a thing; the elegy, which laments the loss of love or life; the haiku, with its limited syllable counts; the ballad, which tells a story. But none of these forms does as much cognitive work as the lowly sonnet. ‘Scorn not the Sonnet,’ wrote William Wordsworth. He knew whereof he spoke.

The sonnet first appeared in 13th-century Italy. A cleric named Giacomo da Lentini is usually credited as the first sonnet writer. His contemporary Dante Alighieri helped refine the form, before he turned his hand to his much longer Divine Comedy. Sonnet means ‘little sound’. It seems to have evolved out of an earlier Italian form called the strambotto, which consisted of stanzas of six or eight lines. The sonnet involved putting two of these stanzas together to produce a little poem of 14 lines, divided into eight lines and six lines – an octave and a sestet – with a break in the middle called a volta.

These numerical groupings may seem abstract, but they are what makes the sonnet work. They allow the writer to divide the poetic world in two – to depict two versions of the same event, or two emotional states that can co-exist only in a kind of tension. ‘I love you madly and swear eternal fealty [octave] but [volta] I see now that you are a scheming traitor [sestet].’ Or vice versa: ‘I know that you are a scheming traitor [eight lines] but I still love you madly [six lines].’ What happens in the octave will be contradicted in the sestet – or confirmed, or expanded, or parodied. In other words, the sonnet works through a double movement. Sometimes, the stakes are very high. John Donne berates his ‘black soul’ for its sinfulness – but then reassures it, through the volta, that not all is lost: ‘Yet [my italics] grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack.’


Target's surrender to MAGA rage shows how anti-wokeness really works



It is sometimes said that corporate America is a battleground in the culture wars. This has taken on ugly new meaning in the case of Target, which just announced that it will pull some LBGTQ-friendly merchandise from shelves after experiencing threats that affected its employees’ “sense of safety.”

Target’s surrender — which came after concerted attacks from MAGA media personalities — points to a bigger story: The anti-woke right is increasingly wielding heavy-handed tactics — including state power and violent threats — to block corporations from making their own decisions about how to adapt to social change. Though the right is losing this battle at large, it is innovating and having some success.

It’s unclear which items Target will pull. But right-wing figures had claimed Target was selling “tuck-friendly” swimwear — as part of its pride month collection — to kids. As the Daily Beast reports, those figures labeled Target CEO Brian Cornell a “pervert groomer” and even called for Republican attorneys general to investigate him. One Arizona man threatened disruptions at Target stores, warning that LGBTQ people are “not safe.”

The right’s claim appears to be false. As the Associated Press reports, Target sold this swimwear — which allows trans women without gender-affirming operations to conceal genitalia — only to adults. But Target backed down, admitting that the threats were in response to the pride collection and explicitly promising to remove items that triggered “confrontational behavior.”


House Republicans are aiming to introduce about $3 trillion of tax cuts tilted to the wealthy and

corporations *two weeks* after the June 1 deadline for a debt ceiling deal...which apparently must include cuts to non-defense spending and work requirements because of the deficit.


Ukrainians Were Likely Behind Kremlin Drone Attack, U.S. Officials Say

American spy agencies do not know exactly who carried out the attack this month, but suggest it was part of a series of covert operations orchestrated by Ukraine’s security services.



U.S. officials said the drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month was likely orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units, the latest in a series of covert actions against Russian targets that have unnerved the Biden administration. U.S. intelligence agencies do not know which unit carried out the attack and it was unclear whether President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine or his top officials were aware of the operation, though some officials believe Mr. Zelensky was not.

The agencies reached their preliminary assessment in part through intercepted communications in which Russian officials blamed Ukraine and other communications in which Ukrainian officials said they believed their country was responsible for the attack, in which two drones were flown on May 3 toward the Kremlin, causing little damage. U.S. officials say their level of confidence that the Ukrainian government directly authorized the Kremlin drone attack is “low” but that is because intelligence agencies do not yet have specific evidence identifying which government officials, Ukrainian units or operatives were involved.

The attack appeared to be part of a series of operations that have made officials in the United States — Ukraine’s biggest supplier of military equipment — uncomfortable. The Biden administration is concerned about the risk that Russia will blame U.S. officials and retaliate by expanding the war beyond Ukraine. American spy agencies see an emerging picture of a loose confederation of Ukrainian units able to conduct limited operations inside and outside Russia, either by using their own personnel or partners working under their direction. Some of these missions could have been conducted with little, if any, oversight from Mr. Zelensky, officials said.

In addition to the drone attack, U.S. officials say they believe the Ukrainians were responsible for the assassination of the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, the killing of a pro-Russian blogger and a number of attacks in Russian towns near the border with Ukraine, the most recent of which occurred Monday. American officials similarly view the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines — which carried natural gas from Russia to Europe — as the work of pro-Ukrainian operatives whose ties to the Ukrainian government have yet to be determined.


The First Social-Media Babies Are Growing Up--And They're Horrified

How would you feel if millions of people watched your childhood tantrums?



My baby pictures and videos are the standard compendium of embarrassment. I was photographed waddling in nothing but a diaper, filmed smearing food all over my face instead of eating it. But I’m old enough that the kompromat is safe in the confines of physical photo albums and VHS tapes in my parents’ attic. Even my earliest digital activity—posting emotional MySpace photo captions and homemade music videos—took place in the new and unsophisticated internet of the early 2000s, and has, blissfully, been lost to time. I feel relief whenever I’m reminded of those vanished artifacts, and even more so when I see pictures and videos of children on the internet today, who won’t be so lucky.

In December, I watched a TikTok of two young sisters named Olivia and Millie opening Christmas presents. When the large boxes in front of them turned out to contain two suitcases, Millie, who appeared to be about 4 years old, burst into tears. (Luggage, unsurprisingly, was not what she wanted from Santa.) Her parents scrambled to explain that the real presents—tickets to a four-day Disney cruise—were actually inside the suitcases, but Millie was too far gone. She couldn’t stop screaming and crying. Nine million strangers watched her breakdown, and thousands of them commented on it. “This is a great ad for birth control,” one wrote. (The TikTok has since been deleted.)

Two decades ago, this tantrum would have been just another bit of family lore, or at worst, a home video trotted out for relatives every Christmas Eve. But now, thoughtless choices made years ago—a keg stand photographed, a grocery-store argument taped—can define our digital footprints, and a generation of parents like Millie’s are knowingly burdening their children with an even bigger online dossier. The children of the Facebook era—which truly began in 2006, when the platform opened to everyone—are growing up, preparing to enter the workforce, and facing the consequences of their parents’ social-media use. Many are filling the shoes of a digital persona that’s already been created, and that they have no power to erase.

Caymi Barrett, now 24, grew up with a mom who posted Barrett’s personal moments—bath photos, her MRSA diagnosis, the fact that she was adopted, the time a drunk driver hit the car she was riding in—publicly on Facebook. (Barrett’s mother did not respond to requests for comment.) The distress this caused eventually motivated Barrett to become a vocal advocate for children’s internet privacy, including testifying in front of the Washington State House earlier this year. But before that, when Barrett was a teen and had just signed up for her first Twitter account, she followed her mom’s example, complaining about her siblings and talking candidly about her medical issues.


Nikki Haley's Anti-Trans Rhetoric Falls Flat in New Hampshire

The 2024 presidential contender veered hard into Fox News territory at a Wednesday campaign event. It didn’t go well.


MANCHESTER, New Hampshire—When Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley stepped onstage Wednesday morning at a campaign event at Saint Anselm College, she had a question for the crowd. "Everybody know about Dylan Mulvaney?” Haley asked. “Bud Light? That is a guy, dressed as a girl, making fun of women.”

To the GOP’s hardcore base, Dylan Mulvaney needs no introduction. The transgender content creator who partnered with Budweiser has been the target of vicious attacks and sustained indignation for weeks, largely thanks to a seemingly endless stream of segments on Fox News.

But in the crowd at Saint Anselm College’s “Politics & Eggs” event, packed with New Hampshire’s famously independent voters, this anti-transgender broadside was not met with applause but silence. Voters in the room appeared largely unaware of the Bud Light controversy. When Haley waited for applause, they didn’t clap.

It wasn’t the only moment during Haley’s stop at the seminal New Hampshire campaign event when her conservative culture war messaging seemed out of place. Earlier in her stump speech, for instance, Haley declared she was “unapologetically pro-life,” a staple GOP applause line that received a muted response from the crowd.

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