[guest post by Dana]
First news item
Iranian protester executed as thousands of other prisoners wait their fate:
Iran said Thursday it executed a prisoner convicted for a crime allegedly committed during the country’s ongoing nationwide protests, the first such death penalty carried out by Tehran…Iran’s Mizan news agency reported the execution of the man, identified as Mohsen Shekari. It accused the man of blocking a street in Tehran and attacking a member of the security forces with a machete. The member of the forces required stitches for his wounds, the agency said…Mizan said Shekari had been arrested on Sept. 25, then convicted on Nov. 20 on the charge of “moharebeh,” a Farsi word meaning “waging war against God.” That charge has been levied against others in the decades since 1979 and carries the death penalty.
Iran is one of the world’s top executioners. It typically executes prisoners by hanging. Already, Amnesty International said it obtained a document signed by one senior Iranian police commander asking an execution for one prisoner be “completed ‘in the shortest possible time’ and that his death sentence be carried out in public as ‘a heart-warming gesture towards the security forces.'”
The U.S. condemned the execution of the young protester:
We are appalled by the execution of #MohsenShekari. Our message to Iran’s leadership is clear: End this brutal crackdown. We will continue to hold the Iranian regime accountable.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) December 8, 2022
He was young, ambitious & talented.
23-year-old #MohsenShekari was executed by the Islamist regime.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 8, 2022
Time Magazine has honored the courageous women of Iran in their 2022 Heroes of the Year issue. It is definitely worth your time to read. I’ll add too that the photographs that accompany the report as exquisite.
And speaking of the courageous women protesting in Iran, they are being targeted, literally, by Iranian forces in the vilest way:
Iranian security forces are targeting women at anti-regime protests with shotgun fire to their faces, breasts and genitals, according to interviews with medics across the country…Doctors and nurses – treating demonstrators in secret to avoid arrest – said they first observed the practice after noticing that women often arrived with different wounds to men, who more commonly had shotgun pellets in their legs, buttocks and backs…One physician from the central Isfahan province said he believed the authorities were targeting men and women in different ways “because they wanted to destroy the beauty of these women”…“I treated a woman in her early 20s, who was shot in her genitals by two pellets. Ten other pellets were lodged in her inner thigh. These 10 pellets were easily removed, but those two pellets were a challenge, because they were wedged in between her urethra and vaginal opening,” the physician said. “There was a serious risk of vaginal infection, so I asked her to go to a trusted gynaecologist. She said she was protesting when a group of about 10 security agents circled around and shot her in her genitals and thighs.”
Second news item
Kyrsten Sinema leaves the Democratic Party and becomes an Independent…considering possibe motivations for the decision:
Outright switching parties didn’t make much sense. Sinema is still effectively a Democrat. She backed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion left-wing spending spree that helped fuel inflation, and his climate and Obamacare-expansion bill, and is radically pro-abortion. Overall, she has voted against her party just 3 percent of the time. She just hasn’t been willing to go whole hog in embracing radical actions to advance progressivism. Most notably, she has opposed ideas such as blowing up the filibuster and packing the courts, and her objections created roadblocks that contributed to the death of Biden’s $3.5 trillion progressive wish list branded as Build Back Better. That has made her a hate figure among the progressive activists who control the Democratic Party, who even took to following her into a bathroom to harass her.
Sinema’s action appears to be a preemptive strike. By acting now, she avoids having to go through a tough Democratic primary she could very well lose, and then face the decision of having to leave the party in a position of weakness. This way she gets ahead of the story and has more time to make her case to voters.
Third news item
The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection is considering criminal referrals for at least four individuals in addition to former President Donald Trump, multiple sources told CNN.
The panel is weighing criminal referrals for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, right wing lawyer John Eastman, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the sources said.
The committee has not officially decided whom to refer to the Justice Department for prosecution and for what offenses, sources said. The four individuals who are among those under consideration, and whose names have not been previously reported, provide a window into the panel’s deliberations.
Fourth news item
A prominent Russian opposition figure was on Friday sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison after being convicted on charges stemming from his criticism of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. The sentence handed to Ilya Yashin, one of the few Kremlin critics to have stayed in Russia, offered the latest indication of an intensified crackdown on dissent by Russian authorities.
“With that hysterical sentence, the authorities want to scare us all but it effectively shows their weakness,” Yashin said in a statement through his lawyers after the judge passed the sentence. “Only the weak want to shut everyone’s mouth and eradicate any dissent.”
Yashin was charged with spreading false information about the military — a new offense added to the country’s criminal law after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine.
Speaking Monday just before sentencing, Yashin addressed Putin directly, urging him to “immediately stop this madness, recognize that the policy on Ukraine was wrong, pull back troops from its territory and switch to a diplomatic settlement of the conflict.”
“When the hostilities began, I didn’t hesitate for a second,” Yashin said. “I felt I should remain in Russia, loudly tell the truth and try to do all what I could to end the bloodshed. It’s better to sit behind bars for a decade and remain an honest person than silently feel shame for the blood spilled by your government.”
Fifth news item
The Justice Department has asked a judge to hold former President Trump’s legal team in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena demanding the return of all classified records stored at Mar-a-Lago…The appeal to a federal judge in sealed court documents comes after the Trump team has still failed to designate a custodian of records and is the latest sign of tension between the Justice Department and the Trump team just days after another two classified documents were found at a South Florida storage unit housing other Trump records.
Sixth news item
The House on Thursday passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which will require the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal but does not go as far as some Democrats wanted.
The bill won approval in a 258-169 vote, after the Senate passed it 61-36 last week. The legislation now heads to the White House for President Biden’s signature into law. Despite warnings from Republicans in both chambers that the bill doesn’t do enough to protect religious liberty, 39 House Republicans voted for the bill.
The Respect for Marriage Act says the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal, and includes a similar protection for interracial couples should the Supreme Court overturn a decision on that issue, Loving v. Virginia, that bans states from outlawing these marriages.
Seventh news item
Post-midterm disappointment, Republicans take second look at voting by mail:
“Our voters need to vote early. There were many in 2020 saying, don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early, and we have to stop that, and understand that if Democrats are getting ballots in for a month, we can’t expect to get it all done in one day,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel warned on Fox News.
McDaniel did not mention former president Donald Trump, who has railed against early, absentee, and mail-in voting for years and falsely claimed the methods led to widespread voter fraud that cost him the election. And a spokesperson said her comments were not targeted at the former president.
But, privately, Republican operatives concede that Trump has put their party in an electoral pinch and that the problems extend beyond voting methods.
Eighth news item
President Joe Biden on Thursday is announcing the infusion of nearly $36 billion to shore up a financially troubled union pension plan, preventing severe cuts to the retirement incomes of more than 350,000 Teamster workers and retirees across the United States.
The money for the Central States Pension Fund is the largest amount of federal aid provided for a pension plan, the Biden administration said, and comes from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that he signed into law in 2021.
Many union retirement plans have been under financial pressure because of underfunding and other issues. Without the federal assistance, Teamster members could have seen their benefits reduced by an average of 60% starting within a couple of years.
Ninth news item
Faiz Shakir, the longtime adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders, told CBS News on Thursday that he believes the Vermont lawmaker will seriously consider a bid for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination if President Joe Biden does not run.
“I assume that he would give it a hard look,” Shakir said. “I don’t want to make the judgment for him. Obviously, it would be his choice to make. But I assume that he would want to reevaluate it.”
Shakir added, that Sanders, age 81, is “very aware that he’s older now and he’d have to make a real judgment about his own vigor and his stamina and his desire and hunger and passion to do this a third time. But if it were an open field? Yeah, I’m confident he would take another look at it and say, ‘Do I want to do this or not?'”
That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!