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No, Iran Didn’t Attack the US Embassy in Baghdad

On December 31, Iraqis stormed the US Embassy in protest against US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, which killed 25 people and wounded more than 50.

Emma Fiala

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(TMU) — The United States and Iran are currently engaged in a tit-for-tat conflict in which attacks conducted every couple of days injure and kill each other’s nationals, a situation that is not so unusual for the two countries.

However, the U.S. significantly escalated tensions when, on January 2, Iran’s most powerful and well respected military leader, General Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport.

On Thursday night, World War III began trending on various social media platforms but it became quickly apparent that many Americans, whether cheering on the murder of Soleimani or not, were largely ignorant to the recent developments leading up to this brazen act of war.

On December 31, Iraqis stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, torching its outer fence in protest against deadly air strikes conducted by the U.S. military which targeted facilities controlled by Kataib Hezbollah in both Iraq and Syria.

The December 29 strikes carried out by the U.S., which killed 25 people and wounded more than 50, were in response to the death of an American contractor as a result of a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base on December 27. The U.S. claimed that more than 30 rockets were fired in the Friday strike that also injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces, but has offered no proof that Iran was responsible.

In December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeatedly blamed Iranian-backed forces for attacks on bases in Iraq. Pompeo warned Iran that any attacks by the country or their proxies would be “answered with a decisive U.S. response” if American citizens or allies were harmed. And U.S. officials have been warning of possible attacks by Iran on U.S. forces since early December.

Meanwhile, Iran, along with both China and Russia, began their first-ever joint naval drills, which took place in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman, December 27 through December 31. China announced the drills on Thursday.

Of the drills, Jonathan Eyal, associate director at the Royal United Services Institute said:

This is a carefully calculated exercise in which all three participants are winners: Iran gets to claim it is a regional power, Russia demonstrates its role as the key actor in the Middle East, and China can show it is a global naval power. The strategic message is that these are the countries shaping events in the Middle East.”

Tensions between Iran and the United States have been increasing ever since U.S. President Donald Trump formally reneged on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—also known as the Iran nuclear deal—in May of 2018, in what was a scandal in itself after Iran was repeatedly certifiably compliant with the terms of the JCPOA.

Wendy Sherman, a former Obama-era undersecretary for political affairs, blames Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA for destroying the “uneasy balance” that has existed with Iran, eventually resulting in the December 31 storming of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Sherman explained:

“It is President Donald Trump’s failed policy toward Iran that has brought us to this combustible moment.”

While recently tensions have included drone strikes, exploding tankers, and other equally visible and damaging actions, a July 20 article in the Atlantic highlighted something even more significant that American citizens tend to ignore:

“This summer, tankers are exploding, disappearing, or getting seized near the Gulf; drones are getting destroyed in tit-for-tat attacks; and a war of words and tweets is erupting between Donald Trump and Iran’s supreme leader. That’s where all the drama is, but in fact most of America’s punitive actions against Iran are taking place in a world not physical but financial. Sanctions are the key tool the United States uses against what it sees as the Islamic Republic’s provocative behavior—especially for the past three presidential administrations running, and never more so than in this one.”

The use and threat of sanctions on Iran by the U.S government is nothing new and sanctions are often a precursor to war. And through its draconian sanctions regime, the U.S. has already been at war with Iran, killing and harming Iranians.

Following the assassination of Soleimani, Pompeo told reporters on Friday that “the world is a much safer place today.” However, at virtually the same time, the U.S. state department issued a security alert urging U.S. citizens to “depart Iraq immediately.” 

Major U.S. cities are also taking steps to increase security in case of retaliatory attacks by Iran or its allies.

It remains to be seen where things go from here, but it is extremely likely that Iranian officials are currently turning to Russia and China to determine its next move.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Adam Toledo: Chicago Police Video Shows 13-Year-Old’s Hands Were Up When Cops Shot Him

Elias Marat

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The Chicago Police Department has released gruesome footage depicting the moment that police officers fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo while his hands were up.

In new bodycam footage from the March 29 slaying, an officer pursuing Toledo can be heard shouting at the young boy to show his “f*cking hands” before shooting him a single time, leaving the boy covered in blood and gasping for air.

While the officer can be heard shouting “drop it,” the teenager appeared to have empty hands when he raised his arms in the moment before he was shot. Video also shows officers discovering a handgun near the scene.

Adam was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The video released Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability the footage from the officer who shot Toledo, along with 16 other body-warn camera video clips, two recordings of 911 calls, an incident report, and a response report, along with other materials.

The mother of Adam, Elizabeth Toledo, reported the boy one week prior to the shooting, although he did return hom on March 27 before leaving that night, reports WBEZ.  Because Adam did not have any form of identification, the family wasn’t informed by police about his death until March 31. In a GoFundMe page set up by Elizabeth, it was noted that one of Adam’s “dreams was to become a police officer.”

“It weighs heavy on our hearts to be planning our last goodbyes instead of watching him grow up and live out those dreams,” the family noted on the page.

The child has been described as having a “big imagination” and was a fan of children’s shows and zombie movies.

“Adam was really into zombies. And the zombie apocalypse. He even had this zombie apocalypse bag packed and ready to go. Some of his favorite movies and TV shows were ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘SpongeBob SquarePants,’ ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Cars,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’” Elizabeth told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appealed for calm over the release of the gruesome footage while businesses in the area have boarded up their windows in anticipation of large protests.

“We live in a city that is traumatized by a long history of police violence and misconduct,” the mayor told reporters. “So while we don’t have enough information to be the judge and jury of this particular situation, it is certainly understandable why so many of our residents are feeling that all too familiar surge of outrage and pain.”

The release of the video comes amid continuing anger and grief over the April 11 shooting of Daunte Wright by an officer in a Minneapolis suburb.

It also comes as authorities fear a new wave of protests as communities await the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police officer accused of killing George Floyd last May after kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

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Music

Lil Nas X Song Is #1 In Saudi Arabia, Where Homosexuality Is Illegal Under Sharia Law

Elias Marat

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Lil Nas X has been on top of the world for weeks now, whether it’s living rent-free in the heads of homophobes or topping the Billboard charts after his smash hit “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” dominated playlists.

And ironically, the anthem has become the most-played song in Saudi Arabia, the conservative kingdom where open expressions of same-sex love and even private acts of gay sex are punishable by death.

The song, whose video features the artist giving Satan himself a lap dance have dominated news conversations all over the globe, smashed through to the top of the Billboard Global 200, which ranks top tracks in over 200 territories, on Monday.

According to Apple Music, the song is also leading Saudi Arabia’s top 100 charts as the most-played song in the country.

Apparently overjoyed by the ranking, Lil Nas X tweeted: “WE NUMBER 1 IN SAUDI ARABIA WTF LETS GOOOO”

The autocratic kingdom, which has long been governed by a strict yet uncodified interpretation of Sharia law, has an atrocious record on LGBTQ rights and classifies homosexuality as a variety of extremism. N many circumstances, gay sex is punishable by death.

As the Human Dignity Trust explains, “The punishment varies depending on the circumstances: married men and interfaith sex are punished with the death penalty, while non-married men are punished with flogging. Sharia law principles underpinning the criminal law in Saudi Arabia also impose strict dress codes that impact on the gender expression of transgender people.”

However, this does not mean that Saudi citizens abstain from these “illicit” acts. As one fan wrote on Twitter: Period!!!! Let’s correct the narrative about the Middle East! Shoutout Saudi Arabia.”

However, another user responded: “I lived in Saudi Arabia my whole [life] and if I come out I will literally get stoned and people will be happy about it, saying it’s a ‘narrative’ doesn’t help anyone in the contrary, the middle IS homophobic and change NEEDS to happen.”

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Corruption

Cop Who ‘Accidentally’ Killed Daunte Wright Arrested on 2nd-Degree Manslaughter Charges

Elias Marat

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The former Minnesota cop who shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop will now face charges of second-degree manslaughter, a prosecutor announced on Wednesday.

The brutal killing of Wright, which comes amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for last May’s killing of George Floyd, threatens to spark a new round of nationwide protests against police brutality and discriminatory policing.

On Wednesday, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput confirmed that Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, would be charged.

On Wednesday morning, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Potter, the bureau announced in a statement.

Potter was taken into custody in St. Paul and will be booked at Hennepin County jail.

On Tuesday, Potter resigned as demands for justice for Wright reverberated nationwide. Her resignation coincided with that of the city’s former police chief, who claims that Potter accidentally grabbed her Glock when she thought she was reaching for her Taser during the Sunday traffic stop.

Wright’s family and attorneys have rejected the claim that Wright’s death was merely the result of an “accident” and are demanding accountability and sweeping reforms of policing in Minnesota.

Potter could face up to 10 years in prison along with a $20,000 fine, per Minnesota law.

“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” said Wright family attorney Ben Crump in a statement.

“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force,” the statement added.

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