Defend Julian Assange

Robert Stevens
WSWS

"A warning must be made. The US government and its accomplices have gone a long way towards crippling WikiLeaks and creating the conditions where Assange will likely end up spending a long time in prison. Their ability to do so testifies to the vast erosion of democratic rights in the US and internationally."

The ruling by Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh Magistrates Court in London that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden represents a grave threat to his liberty and even to his life.

The decision is only the latest episode in a massive, internationally coordinated campaign headed by the Obama administration and US intelligence agencies to discredit and destroy WikiLeaks.

Assange is the victim of a politically motivated attempt at character assassination and legal frame-up based on trumped-up charges of sexual misconduct. Washington’s chief collaborators are the British government and courts, the Swedish government and its legal system, and the Gillard government in Australia, which has done nothing to defend one of its own citizens.

Julian Assange has emerged as a major figure in journalism, fighting for a genuinely independent press. As opposed to the New York Times and the rest of the establishment media, which routinely and systematically collaborate with the state to conceal the truth and keep the public in the dark, he has worked to expose the crimes of American imperialism. For this reason he has been targeted for destruction.

The frame-up is aimed at silencing WikiLeaks, which has made public thousands of secret US military documents exposing the criminal character of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and US diplomatic cables documenting the filthy conspiracies that have been carried out against the world’s people by Washington and its allies.

The determination of the United States to destroy Assange has only grown as the revelations made by WikiLeaks have helped spark mass popular revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries, cutting across the efforts of the US and Europe to portray themselves as benevolent advocates of democracy.


Spreading Activism for Change

Stephen Lendman


Photo courtesy of Amber Appelbaum

"Fascism landed in Wisconsin under Walker and his cronies, aiming to turn the whole state into Guatemala in the worst sense of its meaning. More than ever, exposing and stopping him is crucial. It's no exaggeration saying, as Wisconsin goes, perhaps also America, a possibility too grim to allow."

Egyptians want it. So do Palestinians, Arabs throughout the region, protesting East and West Europeans, others across the world, and growing numbers in America, especially in Wisconsin - ground zero to save organized labor.

At issue is freedom v. tyranny, what Aaron Russo's 2006 film called "Freedom to Fascism," identifying America's money system as inimical to liberty and justice for all. Along with American-style corporatism, it lets banking giants control money, credit and debt for private self-enrichment, colluding with government for laws favoring them, as well as others destroying democratic principles, fast eroding and disappearing throughout the country.

It produces:

pervasive public and private corruption;
concentrated wealth;
government serving America's aristocracy, not popular interests;
alliances with global despots, replaced when they forget who's boss;
America's war machine and imperial arrogance;
subjugation, not freedom;
mass impoverishment and human misery;
a war on dissent; and
another preventing constructive change, forcefully when other ways fail.

It makes America and similar societies unfit to live in, heading them for tyranny and ruin. It also fuels popular anger, bubbling eventually to the surface, growing and now spreading across the Middle East and parts of America.


War Über Alles

Paul Craig Roberts
Vdare

"As long as the American population remains proud that their relatives serve as cannon fodder for the military/security complex, war will remain a racket."

The United States government cannot get enough of war. With Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s regime falling to a rebelling population, CNN reports that a Pentagon spokesman said that the U.S. is looking at all options from the military side.

Allegedly, the Pentagon, which is responsible for one million dead Iraqis and an unknown number of dead Afghans and Pakistanis, is concerned about the deaths of 1,000 Libyan protesters.

While the Pentagon tries to figure out how to get involved in the Libyan revolt, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific is developing new battle plans to take on China in her home territory. Four-star Admiral Robert Willard thinks the U.S. should be able to whip China in its own coastal waters.

The admiral thinks one way to do this is to add U.S. Marines to his force structure so that the U.S. can eject Chinese forces from disputed islands in the East and South China seas.

It is not the U.S. who is disputing the islands, but if there is a chance for war anywhere, the admiral wants to make sure we are not left out.


The ghost of Thomas Hobbes

Ann Talbot
WSWS

New Hardwick Hall seen from the window of old Hardwick Hall

It is said by the locals that the ghost of Thomas Hobbes can be heard grumbling to himself and singing out of key as he walks along the lower terrace of Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, where he died in 1679 at the age of 91. It is a hard and undignified fate for a convinced materialist who denied the existence of all boggarts, goblins and sprites, to be posthumously converted into an immaterial spirit, but Hobbes’s reputation has suffered worse indignities at the hands of posterity. An article by Corey Robin in the Nation last year lined up Hobbes alongside the Italian Futurists and Friedrich Nietzsche as a “blender of cultural modernism and political reaction”. [1]

Robin teaches political science at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of Fear: the History of a Political Idea, [2] which aims to cover topics as diverse as the fear of Communism during the Cold War, the fear among black Americans of the police, white fears of black revolt under segregation, the fear a woman feels towards her abusive husband, or an employee might feel towards an employer. Robin self-consciously identifies with the sense of panic that afflicted sections of the American intelligentsia after 9/11.

Robin’s Nation article purports to be a review of Quentin Skinner’s Hobbes and Republican Liberty, [3] but the points of contact with the book are slight to nonexistent. It is really a vehicle for his “fear” theme. For Robin, Hobbes is one of the great purveyors of fear in the modern era. Hobbes used to say that he and fear were born twins, so he would seem to be the ideal figure for Robin’s purposes.

Hobbes, in point of fact, had a good deal to be afraid of, since most of his adult life was dominated by the Thirty Years War, which was the bloodiest European war until the twentieth century. An estimated 30 percent of the population of what is now Germany was killed. Neighbouring France was rent by the Fronde, and, in the 1640s, two civil wars consumed England, Scotland and Ireland. As if that were not enough for one lifetime, Hobbes was born in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada. His mother was said to have given birth to him prematurely when she heard that the invasion fleet had already arrived. That was what he meant by saying fear was his twin.


America's Total Surveillance Society

Stephen Lendman

In 2003, an ACLU report warned that "Big Brother" no longer is fiction, America having advanced to where total surveillance is now possible. Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program said:

"Given the capabilities of today's technology, the only thing protecting us from a full-fledged surveillance society are the legal and political institutions we have inherited as Americans. Unfortunately, the September 11 attacks have led some to embrace the fallacy that weakening the Constitution will strengthen America."

As a result, civil liberties fast eroded. In 2007, another ACLU report warned about America being six minutes to midnight "as a surveillance society draws near...." Powerful new technologies potentially make total monitoring possible under a president, a compliant Congress and courts that believe national security takes precedence over constitutional freedoms.

As a result, "we confront the possibility of a dark future where our every move," transaction, and communication is "recorded, compiled, and stored away" for ready access for whatever authorities may want.

One of several earlier articles on institutionalized spying can be accessed through this link.

It reviewed undiscussed police state tools used without congressional authorization, oversight, or legal standing - state-of-the-art technology, including satellite imagery, to spy on unsuspecting Americans.

In his article titled, "Creating the Domestic Surveillance State," Alfred McCoy explained that Obama embraced the same executive powers as Bush, including NSA surveillance, CIA renditions, drone assassinations, indefinite military detentions, and more - virtual lawlessness across the board. As a result, constitutional Law Professor Jack Balkin believes bipartisan affirmation of unchecked executive powers could "reverberate for generations," subverting constitutional freedoms.


Middle East Protests Continue for Unmet Demands

Stephen Lendman

So far, weeks of regional protests achieved nothing. Despite ousting Egypt's Mubarak and Tunisia's Ben Ali, their regimes remain in place, offering nothing but unfulfilled promises.

On February 26, Egyptians again protested in Tahrir Square. This time, however, military forces confronted them, Reuters headlining, "Egypt military angers protesters with show of force," saying:

"Soldiers used force on Saturday to break up a protest demanding more political reform in Egypt, demonstrators said, in the toughest move yet against opposition activists who accused the country's military rulers of 'betraying the people.' "

New York Times writer Liam Stack headlined, "Egyptian Military Cracks Down on New Protest," saying:

"Tens of thousands of protesters returned Friday to Tahrir Square....to keep up the pressure on Egypt's military-led transitional government."

Violence followed, including beatings, use of tasers, and live firing in the air, threatening perhaps harsher action if protests continue. Al Jazeera said:

"Protesters left the main (square) but many had gathered in surrounding streets....Witnesses said they saw several protesters fall to the ground, but it was not clear if they were wounded or how seriously."

Participant Ashraf Omar said:

"I am one of the thousands of people who stood their ground after the army started dispersing the protesters, shooting live bullets into the air to scare them."

He said soldiers wore black masks to avoid being identified. Military buses were used for those arrested. It's "a cat-and-mouse chase.There is no more unity between the people and the army."

In fact, there never was, only the illusion that unsympathetic generals were populists at heart. In fact, they've been regime hard-liners for decades, rewarded handsomely for backing state repression.


US intervention aims to control Libya oil

PressTV
PressTV

“The objective of US intervention in Libya is to contain the revolutionary upsurge of the masses and have a forward base for introducing troops,” says political commentator Ralph Shoenman.

This also raises the question of whether the US and NATO are pushing for a civil war in Libya in order to justify a military intervention. Press TV seeks Mr. Shoenman's elaboration of his analysis.

Press TV: I'd like to ask you about an argument that is being made by the Libyan opposition movement saying that the US business lobby in fact helped prolong Gaddafi's reign?

Shoenman: Well of course everybody understands that for the past nearly a decade the Gaddafi regime has made a complete accommodation to US imperialism and indeed the major oil companies of western Europe and the US are once again in charge of Libyan oil production. Consequently, the previous anti-imperialist posture of Gaddafi, which gave rise to usual false flag provocations by the US as we've discussed before on Press TV: the false flag operation of the blowing up of the discotheque in Germany, the false flag operation of the blowing up of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, which was a CIA operation - these things were deployed to justify the US intervention in Libya. At the time, they bombed Libya, they killed Muammar Gaddafi's daughter. Subsequent to that Gaddafi made a complete accommodation and consequently this current posture of the US and with the UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon orchestrating it about major interventions on the part of NATO plan of establishing a blockade in Libya is a very very dangerous and sinister undertaking.


Assange Extradition Reveals Total Hypocrisy & Political Bias Of British Justice

Anon.

The WikiLeaks founder says the charges are baseless and if extradited, he believes he will not face a fair trial. Assange posed some interesting questions:

Why is it that I am subject, a non-profit free-speech activist, to a US$360,000 bail? Why is it that I am kept under electronic house arrest when I have not even been charged in any country?"

And he is not the only one asking those questions, particularly as the British government has a history of granting asylum to some fairly controversial characters, including Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky who has blood of many on his hands. Berezovsky later said he had been trying to overthrow the Russian government, using the UK as his base. "It shows here the hypocrisy of the British court. Berezovsky has quite clearly been involved in the mafia over the years. All sorts of very serious offences, which you may actually, quite literally, equate with terrorism, and yet he is not being extradited," says investigative journalist Tony Gosling. "And yet we see here, what appears to be anyway, a trumped-up charge of rape, which hasn't actually even come to charges in Sweden. Assange appears anyway being taken over to Sweden and there's going to be an appeal, so we will see, but there certainly does appear to show blatant political interference into the court system here in Britain and total hypocrisy from the British justice system."


Silvia Cattori: An Interview with Gilad Atzmon-To Call A Spade A Spade

Silvia Cattori
Silvia Cattori's Blog

Gilad Atzmon is an outstandingly charming man. He is often described by music critics as one of the finest contemporary jazz saxophonists. But Atzmon is more than just a musician: for those who follow events in the Middle East, he is considered to be one of the most credible voices amongst Israeli opponents. In the last decade he has relentlessly exposed and denounced barbarian Israeli policies. Just before his departure on a European Spring Tour, “The Tide Has Changed“, with his band the Orient House Ensemble, he spoke to Silvia Cattori.

Silvia Cattori: As a jazz musician, what brought you to use your pen as a weapon against the country where you were born and against your people?

Gilad Atzmon: For many years my music and writings were not integrated at all. I became a musician when I was seventeen and I took it up as a profession when I was twenty four. Though I was not involved with, or interested in politics when I lived in Israel, I was very much against Israel’s imperial wars. I identified somehow with the left, but later, when I started to grasp what the Israeli left was all about, I could not find myself in agreement with anything it claimed to believe in, and that is when I realised the crime that was taking place in Palestine.

For me the Oslo Accord was the end of it because I realised that Israel was not aiming towards reconciliation, or even integration in the region, and that it completely dismissed the Palestinian cause. I understood then that I had to leave Israel. It wasn’t even a political decision — I just didn’t want to be part of the Israeli crime anymore. In 1994 I moved to the UK and I studied philosophy.

In 2001, at the time of the second Intifada, I began to understand that Israel was the ultimate aggressor and was also the biggest threat to world peace. I realised the extent of the involvement and the role of world Jewry as I analysed the relationships between Israel and the Jewish State, between Israel and the Jewish people around the world, and between Jews and Jewishness.

I then realised that the Jewish “left” was not very different at all from the Israeli “left”. I should make it clear here that I differentiate between “Left ideology”— a concept that is inspired by universal ethics and a genuine vision of equality – and the “Jewish Left”, a tendency or grouping that is there solely to maintain tribal interests that have very little, if anything, to do with universalism, tolerance and equality.


Hidden Provisions in Wisconsin Bill

Stephen Lendman

On February 25, AP said the Wisconsin Assembly, after days of debate, passed Walker's contentious bill, but the standoff is far from over. Senate Democrats remain absent in Illinois, vowing to resist ending collective bargaining rights for public workers. So far, Walker won't compromise, so resolution is on hold.

Much more, however, is at issue. On February 24, economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman headlined, "Shock Doctrine, USA," saying:

"What's happening in Wisconsin is....a power grab - an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy."

It involves much more than union busting, bad as that is.

Hidden in the bill's 144 pages are "extraordinary things," including a provision letting Walker appoint a health czar to make draconian healthcare cuts to Wisconsin's poor and low-income households unilaterally.

Another one states:

"16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss.196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49(3)(b)."

Call it the Koch brothers provision, multi-billionaire owners of Koch Industries, an industrial giant heavily invested in energy and power-related enterprises. According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Koch Industries PAC contributed $43,000 to Walker's gubernatorial campaign, second only to the $43,125 given by state housing and realtor groups.

Moreover, the Koch PAC helped Walker and other Republicans by contributing $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), that, in turn, spent $65,000 to support Walker and $3.4 million on television attack ads and mailings against his opponent, Milwaukee Democrat Mayor Tom Barrett. It made the difference between victory and defeat. Republican out-spent Democrats, sweeping many of their candidates to victory last November.


Institutionalized Arab Inequality in Israel

Stephen Lendman

In December 2010, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel published a study titled, "Inequality Report: The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel," saying:

Affecting Jews as well, it takes many forms, including:

privileged v. deprived groups;
Western Jews (Ashkenzim) v. Eastern ones (Mizrakhim);
men v. women;
Israeli-born Jews (Sabar) v. immigrant ones (Olim);
Orthodox v. secular Jews;
urban v. rural ones;
progressive v. hardline extremists;
gay v. straight, and so forth.

Mostly, it represents majority Jews against minority (largely Muslim) Israeli Arabs, indigenous people living in their historic homeland, comprising 20% of the population or about 1.2 million people, excluding East Jerusalem and Golan.

Under international law, they're considered a national, ethnic, linguistic and religious minority, but not under Israel's Basic Laws. As a result, they face "compound discrimination" as non-Jews, as well as for belonging to one or more sub-groups. For example, women, Bedouins, the disabled or elderly.


Judge rules WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden

Julie Hyland
WSWS

Why is it that I am subject—a non-profit free speech activist—that I am subject to a $360,000 bail, that I am subject to house arrest when I have never been charged in any country?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault, Judge Howard Riddle, sitting at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, London ruled Thursday.

The verdict marks a new stage in efforts to silence Assange and WikiLeaks and prevent further disclosure of the duplicitous and criminal actions undertaken by the United States and governments across the world.

Assange has made clear his intention to appeal the ruling. He has just seven days to do so. If the appeal is rejected, he could be extradited within 10 days.

This is despite the fact that Assange has yet to be charged with any offence, and a mountain of evidence that he is the victim of politically motivated, trumped-up allegations.

The WikiLeaks leader was arrested on December 7 on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the Swedish authorities, alleging sexual misconduct. Two women in Sweden admit having sex with Assange willingly on separate occasions last August. But one alleges that, in one instance, Assange failed to use a condom. The other alleges that on one occasion Assange had sexual intercourse while she was not fully awake. Assange admits consensual sex with each woman, but rejects any wrongdoing.

In August, Sweden’s chief prosecutor Eva Finne dropped the investigation into the allegations against Assange, on the grounds that there was no “reason to suspect that he had committed rape.” By this time, however, the allegations had been disclosed to the media by the Swedish authorities.


Behind the Arab Revolt Is a Word We Dare Not Speak

John Pilger
t r u t h o u t


Former CIA officer Ray McGovern. (Photo:
Cheryl Biren)

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I interviewed Ray McGovern, one of an elite group of CIA officers who prepared then-president George W. Bush's daily intelligence brief. At that time, McGovern was at the apex of the "national security" monolith that is American power and had retired with presidential plaudits. On the eve of the invasion, he and 45 other senior officers of the CIA and other intelligence agencies wrote to Bush that the "drumbeat for war" was based not on intelligence, but lies.

"It was 95 percent charade," McGovern told me.

"How did they get away with it?" I asked.

"The press allowed the crazies to get away with it."

"Who are the crazies?"

"The people running the [Bush] administration have a set of beliefs a lot like those expressed in 'Mein Kampf,'" said McGovern. "These are the same people who were referred to, in the circles in which I moved at the top, as 'the crazies.'"

I said: "Norman Mailer has written that he believes America has entered a pre-fascist state. What's your view of that?"

"Well ... I hope he's right, because there are others saying we are already in a fascist mode."

On January 22, 2011, McGovern emailed me to express his disgust at the Obama administration's barbaric treatment of the alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning and its pursuit of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

"Way back when George and Tony decided it might be fun to attack Iraq," he wrote, "I said something to the effect that fascism had already begun here. I have to admit I did not think it would get this bad this quickly."


Wisconsin's Spirit: Courage for Other States to Emulate

Stephen Lendman

"Strong unions in America face an existential struggle for survival, pitting worker rights against big money allied with all levels of government and union bosses, harming rank and file interests for their own privilege and self-enrichment. As a result, workers are largely dependent on their own tenacity, resourcefulness, and courage to struggle for rights too precious to lose."

The issue is simple and straightforward - organized big money v. organized people essential to beat it. Since February 15, Wisconsin public workers, students, and supporters have sustained heroic resistance against corrupted dark forces determined to crush unionism there and across America. A previous article explained, accessed through this link.

The scheme is old, dirty and ongoing - a conspiracy involving corporate bosses, federal, state and local Democrat and Republican leaders, and corrupted union heads to bust unions, effectively depriving workers of collective bargaining and other hard-won gains, returning them to 19th century harshness when they had none.

The battle lines are drawn. Across America, public and private worker rights are threatened unless mobilized resistance saves them. Governments at all levels are using dire economic conditions to make ordinary people bear the burden of recovering from the hardest times since the Great Depression. The solution is worse than the problem - the usual IMF diktat, including:

wage and benefit cuts;
less social spending;
eliminating pensions and other entitlements;
privatized state resources;
mass layoffs;
deregulation;
debt service superseding public need;
lower taxes for corporations and America's super-rich; and
eroding hard won worker gains before eliminating them entirely.

In the 1980s, it was Reaganomics, trickle down and Thatcherism. In the 1990s, it was shock therapy. Today, it's austerity to make workers pay for a Wall Street/Washington caused crisis - a Main Street Depression, leaving them struggling on their own to get by. Nonetheless, officials are capitalizing on crisis conditions to inflict more pain on the backs of already victimized people.


VISITING NASSER

Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

It’s stormy, the wind is whipping through the trees, and scattered rain drops hit us in the face as we go down the muddy dirt road to Nasser's house. It’s a few hundred yards from the couple of houses around the cemetery, which form the village of Juhor al-Dik, to his small house near the border. "Goodbye," shouted the driver who will pick us up from this remote area again, and with a look at the path we chose he added laughingly: "Insha Allah - God willing."

But even under these circumstances, and even in this weather you cannot help but noticing how beautiful this area must have been, and actually still is, in spite of everything. While almost every other place in Gaza is loud and overcrowded, here's open land and soothing silence. There are a few olive trees that have survived the uncountable tank invasions, and a few new minor ones planted bravely. In between there’s the lush green grass from the winter rain. At least where it wasn’t again plowed up by Israeli bulldozers. And just as we talk about how peaceful this place actually is, we become suddenly aware of this calm being deceptive. On the other side of the barbed wire border, a jeep of the Israeli military appears. He stops as he sees us. My two colleagues and I exchange anxious glances, and without a word we open our hair and begin to inconspicuously walk in front of our Palestinian translator. What kind of a world is that in which blonde hair is a lifesaver.

The jeep drives on, we breathe a sigh of relief. I cannot even imagine how it is to know one’s children are in this danger every day.


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