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Is US extradition inevitable for Julian Assange? | The Stream

Aljazeera English, 14 January 2022, It’s been more than a decade since the website WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos – some of which revealed possible US war crimes. Now WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has one more chance to appeal a UK ruling that would allow him to be extradited to the US.

Last month, a UK High Court ruled that Assange could be extradited to the US to face charges of hacking and violating the US Espionage Act. The ruling goes against a lower court that previously said harsh US prison conditions would endanger Assange given his worsening mental and physical health.

Assange’s legal team has since filed an appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court, but in order for the appeal to be considered, it must be deemed of “general public importance”.

n 2019, the Trump administration indicted Assange for violating the US Espionage Act on counts related to the WikiLeaks release of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables. The US argues the release of classified information put the lives of American allies in danger.

Twenty-four civil liberties and press freedom groups, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders have called on the Biden administration to stop its prosecution against Assange. In a joint letter to the US Justice Department, they argue that Assange’s prosecution could set a precedent that would harm press freedom and the safety of journalists reporting on national security issues.

Assange spent seven years in refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and was eventually arrested in 2019. Last week, Assange’s supporters marked his 1,000th day of imprisonment at London’s Belmarsh high security prison.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss the outlook for Assange’s case and its broader implications for press freedom worldwide.

January 14, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, media | Leave a comment

Sydney Poitier film ”The Bedford Incident” was based on true nuclear war near misses.


Sidney Poitier’s Most Frightening Role Was as the Conscience of Nuclear War 
 DEN OF GEEK, By Tony Sokol|January 11, 2022
The Bedford Incident is one of the most underrated nuclear nightmare movies, and one of Sidney Poitier’s least known classics………………..One of Poitier’s greatest roles is as a costar, not only taking second billing to Richard Widmark in The Bedford Incident (1965), but to the premise of the movie itself: World War III in the Atomic Age. It may sound like a sci-fi setup, but the science was not fiction.

Poitier, who won the Best Actor Oscar in 1964 for Lilies of the Field, plays magazine reporter Ben Munceford in The Bedford Incident. The Cold War thriller isn’t as well-known as Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb or Sidney Lumet’s Fail-Safe, but it is as chilling as any apocalyptic vision ever put on screen.

The Bedford Incident was directed by James B. Harris, who had been Kubrick’s producer until he turned Peter George’s 1958 novel Red Alert into the over-the-top farce of Dr. Strangelove. Harris was terrified of a nuclear standoff, and saw Mark Rascovich’s 1963 book The Bedford Incident as a powerful celluloid deterrent……………..

Historical Close Calls with Nuclear War

Part of the reason The Bedford Incident so successfully plays into the terrors of global atomic warfare is because it is so meticulously crafted. It is not a fast-paced film. It is a realistic enactment told in a leisurely fashion so all the details can be put in their proper place, like the machinery of a submarine. This tinge of cinematic verité underscores what is so frightening about the movie. Complete global devastation can be triggered in the course of ordinary actions.

But the main reason The Bedford Incident is the stuff of recurring nuclear nightmares is because it is based on real incidents.

During the Cold War, U.S. Navy captains were trained to presume any Russian sub they encountered was equipped with nuclear torpedoes. A single Soviet nuclear ballistic submarine could carry over a dozen Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles armed with hydrogen bombs capable of destroying cities.  

In August 1957, the USS Gudgeon was monitoring Russia’s Pacific naval base, Vladivostok, when it triggered an alert on Soviet radio channels. Eight destroyers set out in pursuit. After the sub’s captain, Lt. Cmdr. Norman B. ”Buzz” Bessac, failed to lose the ships by ordering the sub to “go quiet,” the Gudgeon dived 200 feet beneath the surface, well under periscope depth. Russian destroyers dropped depth charges. The Gudgeon shot decoys from its garbage tube, and submerged past the 700-feet maximum depth the ship was designed for to escape sonar.

The hold-down lasted over 30 hours before the sub requested backup from U.S. 7th Fleet headquarters in Japan. When the Gudgeon finally surfaced, its torpedo tubes were at the ready. After accepting the nautical intrusion as a navigational miscalculation, the Soviet ships allowed the Gudgeon to sail.

The second incident happened at the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In October 1962, U.S. Navy destroyers in the Atlantic Ocean pursued the Soviet submarine B-59, which was armed with a T-5 nuclear torpedo. When the sub failed to surface, the destroyers dropped depth charges. The submarine captain was set to launch the T-5 but flotilla commander Vasili Arkhipov overruled the decision, and the standoff was handled diplomatically. The U.S. didn’t learn the submarine had nuclear capability until after the fall of the Soviet Union…………………………………………………

The Bedford Incident, distributed by Columbia Pictures but filmed at Shepperton Studios in the U.K., was made without Navy cooperation. It reflected the changing attitudes toward the military. It was co-produced by Widmark, who infused his Capt. Finlander with elements of Senator Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential candidate voted most likely to start a nuclear war in the infamous “Daisy Girl” commercial. Commodore Wolfgang Schrepke (Eric Portman), a former Nazi U-boat commander onboard as a NATO attaché, says Finlander is “frightening.”…………………………………

In the pantheon of apocalyptic cinema, The Bedford Incident is highly regarded, but sadly underseen. It is more frightening than more epic doomsday films because it shows how realistically simple it could be to trigger armageddon. Poitier brings the universal appeal of unreasoning terror by playing the ineffective everyman. If he can’t stop the madness, none of us can.  https://www.denofgeek.com/movies/sidney-poitier-frightening-role-nuclear-war/

January 13, 2022 Posted by | culture and arts, media, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As nuclear power’s failures become more apparent, government and media enthusiastically promote it.

Why is support for nuclear power noisiest just as its failures become most clear?  The UK government and mainstream media agree we need nuclear to avoid the worst climate change. They’re wrong – so why aren’t we hearing that? Open Democracy, Andrew Stirling, Phil Johnstone, 9 January 2022, 

”…………………….This Green Party case is particularly noteworthy, since it is (strangely given underlying patterns of public concern on nuclear issues), the only organised political force in England collectively offering a consistently sceptical position about nuclear power in Parliament. With the longstanding Green grounding on this issue so strong over a half-century, it is especially strange that this development should come at a time when – at least for the Greens – the argument is more over than it has ever been.

What remains particularly striking about all the instances we cite is that none engage substantively with the real-world performance of nuclear power as it is. Despite vivid rhetorics around needs for ‘science-based’ policy – and occasionally colourful fear-mongering about intermittency ‘putting the lights out’ – none of these prolific voices address (let alone refute) the worldwide substantive picture that shows nuclear power overwhelmingly to be slower, less effective and more expensive at tackling climate disruption than are renewable and storage alternatives.

UK government policy

Despite the surface commitment, we see this trend in UK government energy policy too. Dig into more specialist civil service policy papers and you find spiralling prices and little in the way of an energy-related case for nuclear power. But – in a remarkable departure from the normally diligent attention to costs – the most recent energy white paper ignored all that boring economic detail. Official UK nuclear attachments are treated as an unquestionable given.

So, it might be understood why deep-rooted nuclear interests are seeking to hide these inconvenient facts behind pretty pictures of the West Highlands. But why is the media so keen to help, squirrelling realities away from view behind tales of repentant environmentalists? Why is so much new noise building up behind nuclear power in formerly critical political parties, just when the case has grown weaker than ever?

Profound issues are raised here, not only concerning the cost and speed of climate action, but about the independence and professionalism of the UK media and the health of British democracy as a whole. Whichever opinion we each take on nuclear issues – and whatever the undoubted uncertainties and ambiguities – we should all care very deeply about this. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/why-is-support-for-nuclear-power-noisiest-just-as-its-failures-become-most-clear/

January 10, 2022 Posted by | media, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The Australian media colludes with USA, UK and Australian governments’ persecution ofJulian Assange -”Crikey journal” typifies this

After seven years of arbitrary detention followed by three years of solitary confinement and other tortures in London’s Belmarsh Prison, Assange thinks of suicide constantly. That the U.S. is slowly killing this Australian journalist, partner and father before our eyes for exposing war crimes while the Australian Government does nothing and the majority of our press either remains silent or – when they say anything at all – write flippant and inaccurate stories about him demonstrates just how broken this country’s media is.

Australian media must stand up for Assange’s freedom, https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/australian-media-must-stand-up-for-assanges-freedom,15918 By Matilda Duncan | 10 January 2022,  For far too long the Australian media has remained silent in the face of Julian Assange’s persecution and that must change, writes Matilda Duncan.

LAST MONTH, Crikey’s legal correspondent Michael Bradley wrote a bizarre analysis of Julian Assange’s impending extradition to the U.S. without any regard for basic facts.

It’s worth examining, as it typifies the failures and absurdities of Australian press responses to Assange going back a decade — filled with lies, smears and false narratives that prevent the public from understanding the significance and substance of his case.

In writing about one of the gravest threats to press freedom in years, Bradley went as far as to include a cringeworthy – if not downright pernicious, given Assange recently suffered a stroke and is in precarious health – reference to a Monty Python quote being inscribed on Assange’s tombstone that ‘he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’. 

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

In allowing his thoughts to remain mired in diversionary debates and myths about WikiLeaks and Assange, Bradley completely misses the point of the U.S. extradition case and fails to mention the dire threat to investigative journalism around the world it presents.

He does not confront or condemn the alarming legal precedent of the United States charging a foreign national, one of our citizens, with espionage under U.S domestic law — despite Assange not being a U.S. citizen and WikiLeaks not being a U.S.-based publication.

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January 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Extraditing Julian Assange Threatens Journalists Worldwide


In countries where the press faces restriction and persecution, US interference sets a dangerous precedent. The Nation, By Hasan Ali January 2022

On December 14, while addressing the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, the ambassador-designate to Pakistan, Donald Armin Blomepledged that he would champion the press in his new post. “Pakistani journalists and members of civil society face kidnappings, assaults, intimidation and disappearances,” he said, promising to advocate for expanded protections and to hold the perpetrators of these actions to account.

As a Pakistani journalist myself, I ought to have been relieved. In spite of all the talk of its impending decline, the United States remains the world’s preeminent superpower, and you would think that an incoming ambassador throwing his weight behind the media would augur better days for our embattled fraternity. Instead, I cannot help but question his moral authority to lecture anyone in the world on the issue of press freedom. Three successive administrations of the country he represents have mercilessly gone after Julian Assange, the long-tortured founder and publisher of Wikileaks, whom the United States government is trying to place in the dock on trumped-up charges of incitement and espionage.

On December 10—just four days before Blome made his speech—a British court ruled that Assange could be extradited to the United States to stand trial, where he faces a maximum sentence of 175 years’ imprisonment.

We have already read in these pages about the impact such a prosecution would have on the First Amendment. Let us now widen the net and examine what it will do to those of us who work outside the glittering republic. In Pakistan, the perils of telling the truth have never been greater. Scores of journalists—a handful of them spoke to The Nation in August—have been targeted because the state did not approve of their work. Indeed, so brazen has been this policy of intimidation that in the same week that this magazine published its report, the brother of one of the journalists profiled was abducted in broad daylight from the streets of Lahore.

The story is not very different beyond Pakistan’s borders either. In our neighbor to the east, India, which is supposed to be the world’s largest democracy, journalists are routinely charged with sedition and incitement, or else beaten and tortured for writing the wrong tweet. In Afghanistan, ever since the Taliban took control, hundreds if not thousands of reporters have fled, with the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee estimating that some 70 percent of the country’s news outlets have ceased operations. Then there is Iran, our Western neighbor, where female journalists are banned for blowing the whistle on workplace harassment, locked up for publishing material that is deemed irreligious, and murdered for taking photographs of public protests. Finally, there is China, with whom we share a border to the northeast. It ranks 177 of the 180 on the World Press Freedom Index and has become even more repressive in the wake of Covid 19.

Which returns us to the case of Assange, who is being punished for publishing documents that prove that the United States committed war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Daniel Bastard, Asia-Pacific director of Reporters Without Borders, says, “The way the US has been treating Julian Assange is clearly giving a blank cheque to authoritarian governments around the world to crack down on press freedom and force into silence journalists and information providers who displease them.” His view is shared by his colleague Rebecca Vincent, who argues that the persecution of Assange will undermine US efforts to promote the cause of press freedom internationally. “If the Biden administration is serious about its commitment to media freedom, they would lead by example and end this more than decade-long persecution now.”………….

Sadly, what we have witnessed in the first 11 months of Biden’s premiership is a continuation of the same policy positions that left critics of the previous administration convulsing with anger. The United States continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia; leaders of countries with which it has important strategic partnerships—Abdel Fatah el-Sisi and Volodomyr Zelensky, to name a couple—are being allowed to punish those who would hold them to account; and the preeminent chronicler of American atrocity, Julian Assange, is being tormented for doing what any courageous reporter with access to the same information would have done in a heartbeat………..

If the United States were to free Assange, it would send a powerful message to the political establishment of repressive regimes around the world that the US has ceased to believe that journalism is a crime.

Otherwise, things will carry on as they are. My colleagues will continue to be abducted in broad daylight; many will return to tell the tale to police officers who won’t register their complaints out of fear; some, like Mudassar Naaru, will disappear altogether. Others, like Saleem Shahzad, will be found dead in a ditch.

And all the while, the likes of Donald Blome will find themselves in drawing rooms with unscrupulous leaders who will earnestly nod their heads while listening to sermons on press freedom, without ever really feeling under pressure to change their ways.  https://www.thenation.com/article/society/assange-extradition-journalism/witter

January 8, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Australian government and Labor opposition ignore the suffering of Australian Julian Assange. Can they afford to, as election looms?

If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia.

the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

Saving Julian Assange,  Last week, the British High Court ruled that Julian Assange can be extradited to face charges in the United States. His fiancée, Stella Moris, vows to continue the fight alongside his network of supporters. By Amy Fallon.  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2021/12/18/saving-julian-assange/163974600013099?fbclid=IwAR2dLaNxKG0FTyBvywjYpL_HpxPb8RWA6rF0mQwIE-X8Pnd8TMbAzkWed2Y#mt This week, Stella Moris said she and Julian Assange still intended to marry in the new year, although they have not set a date. She is currently speaking to the prison about arrangements. Moris hopes it will be a ceremony attended by close family and friends, with their children, Gabriel, 4, and Max, 2, taking part.

“The High Court ruling has made things even more precarious than before,” she tells The Saturday Paper.

“But that has only strengthened our determination to celebrate what is constant and certain in our lives – our love and support for each other.”

Moris is a South-African born lawyer and an activist in her own right. Her family were involved in the anti-apartheid battle. After the British High Court ruled that her fiancé could be extradited to the United States, her response was simple: “We will fight.”

“History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

She sees the case in these terms: “Every generation has an epic fight to fight, and this is ours, because Julian represents the fundamentals of what it means to live in a free society.”Last week’s decision was made after two of Britain’s most senior judges ruled Assange, earlier deemed a suicide risk, had received assurances from the US that he would not face the strictest measures before a trial or once convicted. They found a lower court had erred in offering him protection.

“That risk is in our judgement excluded by the assurances which are offered,” one of the judges, Lord Burnett, said. “It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel must now approve Assange’s extradition. Lawyers for the 50-year-old are appealing the decision. Subsequent hearings are likely to raise the issue of free speech, which campaigners say is at the heart of the case involving the Walkley Award-winning journalist.Many around the world are now calling on the Australian government to intervene and save Assange’s life before it’s too late.

“There seem to be no limits to the savagery of the Anglosphere – US, UK, Australia – in exacting revenge for the crime of informing the population of what the powerful want to conceal,” the intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky later told The Saturday Paper.

He urged followers of Julian Assange, wanted by the US for breaking espionage laws after publishing hundreds of thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and diplomatic cables, to “get organised”.

“And act,” added Chomsky, because there was “not much time”.
Another two to three years may drag on before the extradition is resolved. Australian journalist John Pilger, who described Assange as “frail and skeletal” the last time he hugged his friend in 2020, said the fact he was still alive was remarkable.

Last weekend’s revelation, that Assange had suffered a stroke in October, didn’t shock the veteran reporter. A month earlier, a Yahoo News report revealed that the CIA allegedly planned to assassinate Assange.

“If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence. History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

To Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, Julian, is a “bad dancer” with a “dorky sense of humour”. But, he says, “he is very sweet with his children, very good with kids, and a very principled man”.

Shipton produced the recent documentary Ithaka, which tells the story of Gabriel and Julian’s father’s struggle to have Assange freed.“Often people lose sight that these are actual real people involved, not just a head on a screen, or a headline, that this is a person’s father, brother, partner,” Shipton says. “Once people find out about how tragic the actual injustice that Julian suffered [is], and through no fault of their own his family are suffering, they’re quite confronted that they’ve allowed it to carry on for as long as it has.”

Shipton concedes the fight is just as much or even more political than legal, and others echo this. “There is no doubt that [this] aggressive and relentless pursuit is driven by the US security and defence state,” said Greg Barns, a barrister and adviser to the Australian Assange campaign.

A bipartisan Australian Parliamentary Friends of the Bring Julian Assange Home group comprises 25 senators and MPs, but was adding “about one member or so monthly”, says Shipton. In the past week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has spoken out against Assange being sent to the US. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia. The opposition has urged the government to encourage the US to close the matter, although it has not elaborated on what it means by this.According to Kellie Tranter, a Maitland-based lawyer, human rights activist, researcher and former WikiLeaks Party candidate, the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

“If the level of interest keeps increasing, the government may feel obliged to act as the Howard government did in the case of David Hicks,” she says, referring to the former Guantánamo Bay detainee. “The last thing the government wants is this case soaking up oxygen in place of its policies. It’s public criticism, which is exactly what they wanted to avoid in the case of Hicks.”Tranter points out that progressive campaign group GetUp! played a critical role in Hicks’s repatriation by making his detention by the US an election issue, mobilising public opinion against his mistreatment. They may be the only organisation capable of doing the same in this case, she said. GetUp! said they had no comment on Assange.

In Britain, Assange has admirers from all walks of life. Sadia Kokni, 40, is British-born with African, Indian and Middle Eastern heritage and the managing director of a cosmetics company. Despite having a disability, she attends twice-weekly protest vigils at the Australian high commission with “Team Assange”, comprising about 50 people, including bus drivers, graphic designers, nurses and artists.

“I campaign for nothing, I only campaign for Julian,” Kokni says. “Unlike when people campaign against a war – it’s a nation against a nation – when it comes to Julian it’s the most powerful nation in the world against one man and he’s exposing the atrocities of global governance and things that every living person should be aware of.”

Although Kokni acknowledges Assange’s predicament could be treated with greater urgency by the British parliament, she also feels disbelief over Australia’s inaction.“They could be doing a lot more, Australia. I find it ridiculous,” she said, singling out the high commissioner, George Brandis. “Brandis – what is he actually doing? Has he written any letters?”

The Australian high commission in Britain did not respond to requests for comment.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics | Leave a comment

A free press, a free Julian Assange – would be the best gift for the world

Cartoon by Badiucao, in The Age 20 December 21.

December 20, 2021 Posted by | media, PERSONAL STORIES, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Urgent need to correct exaggerated claims about China’s nuclear arsenal and its intentions.

In the months ahead, as the Biden administration attempts to draft a new Nuclear Posture Review and Congress votes on a proposed $715 defense bill for FY 2022, we can expect to hear a lot more about China’s “breathtaking” nuclear buildup. If we are to reduce the risks of nuclear war and lower the costs of nuclear weapons procurement, we must challenge such assertions and provide a balanced, realistic assessment of Chinese developments. We must also urge Biden to work with Xi in developing the “guardrails” that both agree are necessary to avert catastrophe. 

Placing “Guardrails” on the US-China Nuclear Competition,   A failure to challenge inflated claims about China’s nuclear arsenal will have serious and painful consequences. The Nation By Michael T. Klare  , 1 Dec 21,

With the United States and China both speeding up the acquisition of new nuclear weapons, some analysts predicted that Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping would discuss limits on those munitions during their virtual summit on November 15. However, they barely touched on the matter, agreeing only that both sides should take steps to prevent the unintended escalation of future crises. As Biden told Xi during their three-hour exchange, the two sides need “commonsense guardrails to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict.” Yet no plans were made for negotiations leading to the adoption of such measures, so the US-China arms race will only gain further momentum.

Historically, talk of nuclear arms racing has applied almost exclusively to the United States and the Soviet Union, and now Russia. Indeed, the US and Russia still possess the overwhelming majority of the world’s nuclear warheads, along with its most advanced nuclear delivery systems. But now China—long a minor player in the nuclear arena—appears to be bolstering its capabilities, while the United States is developing new weapons with the Chinese, as well as the Russians, in mind. The risk of a war between the US and China has also been growing, especially due to tensions over Taiwan, increasing the danger of nuclear weapons use.

Fueling these dangerous trends is a steady stream of alarmist pronouncements by US officials about China’s nuclear buildup. The Chinese are engaged in a “remarkable expansion of [their] nuclear and strategic capabilities,” Adm. Charles A. Richard, commander of the US Strategic Command, told the House Armed Services Committee last April. As a result of these initiatives, “China is capable of executing any plausible nuclear employment strategy regionally now, and soon will be able to do so at intercontinental ranges.”

But while China is certainly undertaking the modernization of its relatively old and meager nuclear arsenal—as compared to those of Russia and the United States—it can hardly be described as undertaking a “remarkable expansion” of its arsenal nor is it capable of “executing any plausible nuclear employment strategy” in a US-China war. Yet these inflated claims by senior Pentagon officials are helping spur Congress—which doesn’t really require much nudging—to finance a vast expansion of America’s own nuclear capabilities.

A failure to challenge these inflated claims and to slow the burgeoning US-China nuclear competition will have serious and painful consequences for both sides. If nothing else, it will lead to the massive allocation of resources for nuclear weapons procurement, with no end in sight. Any hope of trimming the Pentagon’s proposed $1.7 trillion modernization of all three “legs” of the nuclear “triad”—intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and long-range strategic bombers—will disappear. And the emphasis on ever-more-capable conventional weapons, combined with new developments in cyber, space, and surveillance technology, will increase the likelihood that future crises trigger an unrestrained escalatory spiral terminating in nuclear annihilation.

Fortunately, the US-China nuclear arms race is still at a relatively early stage, at least when compared to the long-running US-Soviet/Russian competition. It is possible, then, to conceive of measures that might constrain this contest before it gathers additional momentum. Before considering such measures, however, we must possess a clear understanding of this dynamic and dispel various misconceptions regarding China’s nuclear capabilities.

UNDERSTANDING CHINA’S NUCLEAR POSTURE

For starters, bear in mind that China currently maintains a relatively modest nuclear arsenal. In its latest tally of world nuclear stockpiles, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calculated that China possessed approximately 350 nuclear warheads—a bit more than the number deployed by France (290), but a very small fraction of the 5,550 warheads possessed by the US and the 6,375 by Russia. China has also chosen to limit its arsenal of nuclear delivery systems. According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), it has deployed only about 100 ICBMs and 48 SLBMs, compared to 400 ICBMs and 336 SLBMs in the US inventory. China also has a few dozen heavy bombers, but none with a range or nuclear payload comparable to the US B-2 and B-52 bombers.

That China maintains such a modest strategic arsenal has long provided confirmation for Beijing’s claim that it seeks nuclear armaments solely to implement a “minimum deterrence” posture—one that requires sufficient weapons to survive an enemy first strike and deliver intolerable damage on the attacker but not enough to conduct a disarming first strike on an adversary.

China’s arsenal has remained relatively unchanged for several decades, but now is being substantially modernized—allowing US military officials to claim that it is engaged in a major expansion along with a shift in its weapons employment doctrine. China’s nuclear arsenal is expanding at a“breathtaking” rate, Admiral Richard declared in August, and will soon achieve a “strategic breakout,” allowing Beijing to execute “any plausible nuclear strategy” it wishes to pursue……………

In sum, the evidence for a vast and rapid buildup in Chinese nuclear capabilities is underwhelming, to say the least. Also lacking is any indication that Beijing has abandoned its “minimum deterrence” strategy. What recent Chinese developments do suggest, however, is that Chinese officials fear that their existing nuclear force is becoming increasingly vulnerable to a first strike—sometimes called a “counterforce” strike—and so must be strengthened in order to safeguard its retaliatory capability.

US NUCLEAR INITIATIVES AND CHINA’S RESPONSE

In contrast to China, the United States has long maintained that its nuclear forces should be capable of many functions beyond just “minimum deterrence.” Current doctrine, as encapsulated in the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) of 2018, states that nuclear weapons could be employed in response to an overwhelming conventional, as well as a nuclear, attack on the United States; even a major cyber assault on the United States might justify such usage…………….

Under these circumstances, China’s nuclear buildup can largely be viewed as an attempt to overcome the vulnerabilities of its deterrence force, ensuring that enough of its weapons can survive an enemy first-strike assault and penetrate enemy defenses. This would explain both of the developments noted above: the replacement of single-warhead missiles with multiple-warhead variants and the construction of multiple silo holes in the desert.

By equipping their ICBMs and SLBMs with a number of independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVed missiles, in Pentagon-speak), the Chinese evidently hope to ensure that even if only a few of their weapons escape American missile defenses, those survivors will still be able to launch multiple warheads against US targets; likewise, by constructing hundreds of additional silos and moving their ICBMs from one to the other on a random basis, they can circumvent a US first strike. None of this, however, suggests an intent to acquire a US-style counterforce capability.

TAKING ACTION NOW As suggested by this analysis, China’s nuclear modernization does not pose the same sort of threat to the United States as US nuclear and conventional initiatives pose to China. True, China is capable of inflicting catastrophic damage on this country in the event of a nuclear war, but it does not appear to be seeking a first-strike or damage-limiting capacity akin to that possessed by the United States. Nevertheless, the danger of a US-China war is growing, and any major confrontation between US and Chinese forces could result in colossal losses on one or both sides, precipitating the early use of nuclear weapons. This is the perfect time, then, for the Biden administration to seek talks with Beijing aimed at eliminating or curtailing weapons developments that are placing both countries at greater risk.

The goal—at least in the early stages of such engagement—should not be the adoption of conventional arms control agreements, like those signed between the US and the USSR during the Cold War era. Rather, the two sides should engage in high-level talks aimed at identifying the greatest risks of precipitous or unintended escalation, and in devising strategies for minimizing those dangers. (Reportedly, the Biden administration has been considering the initiation of such talks with China, but there is no indication that formal plans have yet been made to proceed with this.)

Such high-level conversations—sometimes called “strategic stability” talks—could focus, for example, on the expected deployment on both sides of numerous hypersonic missiles aimed at each other’s high-value targets, and pursue ways to curtail their numbers or mode of employment, to minimize the risk of rapid escalation. Both sides could also agree to eschew cyberattacks on each other’s nuclear command-and-control systems, with the same goal in mind. Mutual restraints could also be crafted to reduce the danger of escalation during a crisis, for example through limitations on the scale of air and naval maneuvers in the area surrounding Taiwan.

In the months ahead, as the Biden administration attempts to draft a new Nuclear Posture Review and Congress votes on a proposed $715 defense bill for FY 2022, we can expect to hear a lot more about China’s “breathtaking” nuclear buildup. If we are to reduce the risks of nuclear war and lower the costs of nuclear weapons procurement, we must challenge such assertions and provide a balanced, realistic assessment of Chinese developments. We must also urge Biden to work with Xi in developing the “guardrails” that both agree are necessary to avert
catastrophe.  https://www.thenation.com/article/world/china-nuclear-competition/

Michael T. Klare, The Nation’s defense correspondent, is professor emeritus of peace and world-security studies at Hampshire College and senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C. Most recently, he is the author of All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change.


December 2, 2021 Posted by | media, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons Takes a New Approach With Informative Videos for Children and Young Adults

Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons Takes a New Approach With Informative Videos for Children and Young Adults, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/voices-for-a-world-free-of-nuclear-weapons-takes-a-new-approach-with-informative-videos-for-children-and-young-adults-301412004.htmlNov 01, 2021,

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, a Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, recently launched three nuclear disarmament videos for children and young adults. They are inviting educational institutions, religious communities, nuclear disarmament groups, and other grassroots organizations to post these videos on their websites and social media platforms.

“We realized there was a lack of educational videos about the threats of nuclear weapons for children and young adults. So, the Education Team at Voices decided to take it on. We produced videos that would inform children in an age-appropriate manner, as well as the general public, on this important topic.” said Carolyn MacKenzie, Voices Education Team Lead.

“Many children and young adults know nothing about nuclear weapons. Yet, they pose one of the greatest threats to all life on earth. We wanted to inform youth about nuclear weapons, and also inspire them to get involved by taking simple actions that will allow them to be the change that is needed,” said MacKenzie.

Voices’ goal is for these videos to be widely shared around the world. We recognize we cannot do this alone which is why we are inviting other nuclear disarmament and grassroots groups to give these videos a permanent home on their websites.

The Threat of Nuclear Weapons – A Call to Action Video = 10:54 minutes
Appropriate for young adults and the public.
Description: Brief summary of nuclear weapons history and why we all need to work to eliminate these weapons. Also includes a call to action and a description of what interested individuals can do help the cause.

Captain No-NukesAnimation = 3 minutes
Appropriate for children ages 8 and under.
Description: Short animation of Captain No-Nukes working to rid the world of nuclear weapons with concrete suggestions about how children can help.

The Evolution of Weapons in the World Animation = 1:15 minute
Appropriate for children of all ages.
Description: Brief animation on the history of conflicts and how to solve problems non-violently.

Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons is part of United Religions Initiative (URI), the largest grassroots interfaith network in the world. URI builds bridges by encouraging members to work together on practical projects that enhance civil communities and promote understanding between people of different religious and cultural traditions.

Contact : Julie Schelling
322397@email4pr.com
P: 347.719.1518

November 22, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian TV blatantly advertises weapons sales, in absurd claims about China invading Australia

Australian War Propaganda Goes Off the Rails https://consortiumnews.com/2021/11/17/australian-war-propaganda-goes-off-the-rails/ November 17, 2021 In a blatant advert for arms sales masquerading as news, 60 Minutes tries to tie Taiwan to the fantasy of China randomly invading a continent of white foreigners thousands of miles away, writes Caity Johnstone. By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

60 Minutes Australia has churned out yet another fear-mongering war propaganda piece on China, this one so ham-fisted in its call to beef up military spending that it goes so far as to run a brazen advertisement for an actual Australian weapons manufacturer disguised as news reporting. 

This round of psychological conformity-making features Australian former major general Jim “The Butcher of Fallujah” Molan saying that in three to ten years a war will be fought against China over Taiwan and that Australians are going to have to fight in that war to prevent a future Chinese invasion of the land down under.

He argues Australia will need to greatly increase its military spending in order to accomplish this, because it can’t be certain the United States will protect it from Chinese aggression.

“Australia is monstrously vulnerable at the moment; we have this naive faith that American military power is infinite, and it’s not,” says Molan, who is a contributor to government/arms industry-funded think tanks Lowy Institute and Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Decrying what he calls “panda huggers” (meaning people who aren’t China hawks), Molan claims that “the Chinese Communist Party’s aim is to be dominant in this region and perhaps dominant in the world.” Asked when war might break out, he claims “Given the power that they have in their military they could act any time from now on, and that’s what frightens me more than anything.”

“The next war is not going to be ten or twenty years away, it’s going to be in the next three to ten years,” Molan asserts.

“My estimate is that in a serious fight the Australian Defense Force only has enough missiles for days. This is not going to be resolved in days. And of course we’re not big enough. We should expand the defense force significantly… We should fund defense now based on our assessment of the national security strategy which is based on the war that we want to win.”

“In short do you think Australia needs to prepare for war tomorrow?” the interviewer asks Molan.

“Absolutely,” he replies.

Molan makes the ridiculous argument that if Australia does not to commit to defending Taiwan from the mainland then it won’t be long before they can expect a Chinese invasion at home, as though there’s any line that could be drawn between the resolution to a decades-old Chinese civil war and China deciding to invade a random continent full of white foreigners thousands of miles away.

Suppose we said okay Taiwan you’re on your own up there and the Chinese snapped it up, and the Chinese started looking around the world and they might snap up other liberal democracies like Australia,” Molan argues. “And we might then turn to America and say America well could you give us a bit of a hand here? And the Americans might say what we said to Taiwan. Where do you draw the line? This situation that is developing now is an existential threat to Australia as a liberal democracy.”

Incredibly, the 60 Minutes segment then plunges into several minutes of blatant advertising for Australian defense technology company Defendtex which manufactures weaponized drones designed to be used in clusters, saying such systems could handily be used to defeat China militarily in a cost-effective manner.

The segment also promotes bare-faced lies which have become commonplace in anti-China propaganda, repeating the false claim that Chinese fighter planes have been “breaching Taiwanese airspace” and repeating a mistranslation of comments by Xi Jinping which it used in a previous anti-China segment made to sound more aggressive than they actually were.

This segment follows a cartoonishly hysterical fear porn piece on China put out by the same program this past September which featured Australian Strategic Policy Institute ghouls insisting that Australians must be prepared to fight and die in defense of Taiwan and that a Chinese invasion of Australia is a very real threat. That 60 Minutes segment was preceded by an equally crazy one in May which branded New Zealand “New Xi-Land” for refusing to perfectly align with U.S. dictates on one small foreign policy issue.

To be perfectly clear, there is no evidence of any kind that China will ever have any interest in an unprovoked attack on Australia, much less an invasion, and attempts to tie that imaginary nonsense threat to Beijing’s interest in an island right off its coast which calls itself the Republic of China are absurd.

As we’ve discussed previously, anyone who’d support entering into a war against China over Taiwan is a crazy idiot. In the unfortunate event that tensions between Beijing and Taipei cannot be resolved peacefully in the future there is no justification whatsoever for the U.S. and its allies to enter into a world war between nuclear powers to determine who governs Taiwan.

The cost-to-benefit ratio in a conflict which would easily kill tens of millions and could lead to the deaths of billions if it goes nuclear makes such a war very, very, very far from being worth entering into, especially since there’s no actual evidence that Beijing has any interest in attacking nations it doesn’t see as Chinese territory.

There’s so much propaganda going toward generating China hysteria in westerners generally and Australians in particular, and it’s been depressingly successful toward that end.

Watching these mass-scale psyops take control of people’s minds one after another has been like watching a zombie outbreak in real time; people’s critical thinking faculties just fall out their ears and then all of a sudden they’re all about cranking up military spending and sending other people’s kids off to die defending U.S. interests in some island.

Please don’t become a zombie. Keep your brain. Stay conscious.

November 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, weapons and war | 1 Comment

America’s relentless pursuit of Australian Julian Assange is a threat to any journalist who might expose a USA massacre of civilians

Julian Assange currently sits in Belmarsh Prison waiting to find out if British judges will overturn a lower court’s ruling against his extradition to the United States to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for journalistic activity which exposed U.S. war crimes. War crimes not unlike those that were just exposed by The New York Times in its reporting on the Baghuz massacre

The precedent the U.S. government is trying to set with its persecution of Assange will, if successful, cast a chilling effect over journalism which scrutinizes the U.S. war machine, not just in the United States but around the world.

Syria Massacre Coverup Shows Danger of Assange Precedent, https://consortiumnews.com/2021/11/15/syria-massacre-coverup-shows-danger-of-assange-precedent/ November 15, 2021  The precedent the U.S. government is trying to set with its persecution of Assange will, if successful, cast a chilling effect over journalism which scrutinizes the U.S. war machine, writes Caity Johnstone. By Caitlin Johnstone

CaitlinJohnstone.com The New York Times has published a very solid investigative report on a U.S. military coverup of a 2019 massacre in Baghuz, Syria which killed scores of civilians. This would be the second investigative report on civilian-slaughtering U.S. airstrikes by The New York Times in a matter of weeks, and if I were a more conspiracy-minded person I’d say the paper of record appears to have been infiltrated by journalists.

The report contains many significant revelations, including that the U.S. military has been grossly undercounting the numbers of civilians killed in its airstrikes and lying about it to Congress, that special ops forces in Syria have been consistently ordering airstrikes which kill noncombatants with no accountability by exploiting loopholes to get around rules meant to protect civilians, that units which call in such airstrikes are allowed to do their own assessments grading whether the strikes were justified, that the U.S. war machine attempted to obstruct scrutiny of the massacre “at nearly every step” of the way, and that the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations only investigates such incidents when there is “potential for high media attention, concern with outcry from local community/government, concern sensitive images may get out.”

“But at nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike,” The New York Times reports. “The death toll was downplayed. Reports were delayed, sanitized and classified. United States-led coalition forces bulldozed the blast site. And top leaders were not notified.”

Journalist Aaron Maté has called the incident “one of the U.S. military’s worst massacres and cover-up scandals since My Lai in Vietnam.”

Asked by the Times for a statement, Central Command gave the laughable justification that maybe those dozens of women and children killed in repeated bomb blasts were actually armed enemy combatants:

“This week, after The New York Times sent its findings to U.S. Central Command, which oversaw the air war in Syria, the command acknowledged the strikes for the first time, saying 80 people were killed but the airstrikes were justified. It said the bombs killed 16 fighters and four civilians. As for the other 60 people killed, the statement said it was not clear that they were civilians, in part because women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms.

I mean, how do you even address a defense like that? How do you get around the “Maybe those babies were ISIS fighters” defense?

Reading the report it becomes apparent how much inertia was thrown on attempts to bring the massacre to light and how easy it would have been for those attempts to succumb to the pressure and just give up, which naturally leads one to wonder how many other such incidents never see the light of day because attempts to expose them are successfully ground to a halt.

The Times says the Baghuz massacre “would rank third on the military’s worst civilian casualty events in Syria if 64 civilian deaths were acknowledged,” but it’s clear that that “acknowledged” bit is doing a lot of heavy lifting there.

And it really makes you appreciate how much work goes into getting information like this in front of the public eye, and how important it is to do so, and how tenuous the ability to do so currently is.

Julian Assange currently sits in Belmarsh Prison waiting to find out if British judges will overturn a lower court’s ruling against his extradition to the United States to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for journalistic activity which exposed U.S. war crimes. War crimes not unlike those that were just exposed by The New York Times in its reporting on the Baghuz massacre. 

The precedent the U.S. government is trying to set with its persecution of Assange will, if successful, cast a chilling effect over journalism which scrutinizes the U.S. war machine, not just in the United States but around the world.

If it can succeed in legally establishing that it can extradite an Australian journalist for publishing information in the public interest about U.S. war crimes, it will have succeeded in legally establishing that it can do that to any journalist anywhere. And you can kiss investigative reporting like this goodbye.

This is what’s at stake in the Assange case. Our right to know what the most deadly elements of the most powerful government on our planet are doing. The fact that the drivers of empire think it is legitimate to deprive us of such information by threatening to imprison anyone who tries to show it to us makes them an enemy of all humanity.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

”Deep fakes”: corruption of data has worrying implications for nuclear policy

Deep fakes: The next digital weapon with worrying implications for nuclear policy Sylvia Mishra |New Tech Nuclear Officer, 3 Nov 21,     The past decade has witnessed the unprecedented march of technology and the opportunities, dangers, and disruptions that accompany it. In the last 4-5 years, a synthetic media technology (that uses machine learning techniques and is created by generative adversarial networks – GANs) known as deep fakes, has revolutionised the ways that digital media can be altered. The ability of state and non-state actors to generate, forge, and manipulate media has created clickbait headlines and fake news, ‘terrorised women’ by substituting faces to create fake porn, and abetted the spread of misinformation and disinformation. An opinion piece in the Washington Post has called this worrying trend of mass-scale manipulation the “democratisation of forgery”.

One of the disquieting ramifications of this emerging and disruptive technology (EDT) is the challenge it poses to nuclear weapons decision-making, in particular its impact on decision-makers and wider society, Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3), nuclear doctrine, posturing and signalling.

Implications for nuclear weapons decision-making

In the 21st century, nuclear weapons decision-making is markedly different from that of the Cold War era. As great power competition has come back into sharper focus, countries are expanding and upgrading their nuclear arsenals and moving towards incorporating EDTs for warfighting. On the one hand, the political divide between nuclear haves and have-nots is widening and, on the other, the pursuit of EDTs by non-nuclear states is reducing the technology gap between nuclear and non-nuclear states. Simultaneously, arms control is waning. These developments are taking place at a time when trust among states and decision-makers is fast eroding, and generational divides among decision-makers are increasing. For example, senior decision-makers may find themselves lacking knowledge about new EDTs and technical know-how, while younger decision-makers might lack the understanding of nuclear policy-making compressed timelines.     

The ability of deep fakes to undermine the confidence in information analysis and outputs provided by digital security platforms can erode trust among states and, in turn, complicate nuclear weapons decision-making, making it difficult for decision-makers to make distinctions between correct and spurious information. Deep fakes expert and computer science professor at Dartmouth University, Hany Farid stated, “The things that keep me up at night these days are the ability to create a fake video and audio of a world leader saying ”I’ve launched nuclear weapons”.  He adds that the technology to do this exists today

As we witness rapid advancements of deep fake technology, nuclear weapons policy decision-makers are likely to be faced with questions like “will deep fakes undermine understanding about enemy intent and misdirect about an adversary capability?” Furthermore, deep fakes may cause algorithms that offer information on situational awareness to misclassify based on altered inputs. Such scenarios may cause a breakdown in automated NC3 architecture bearing serious consequences.      

With the corruption and poisoning of data, can adversaries take undue advantage and engage in nuclear brinkmanship? Can non-state actors create misperception and escalation by generating fake videos of a leader suggesting that they have deployed nuclear weapons against an adversary? Even if such fake videos can be quickly detected, it is highly likely that once these videos go online they will sow the seeds of widespread uncertainty.

During crises, the general population might find it difficult to tell factual from spurious information, exacerbating the situation. …………..

In a report titled ‘Weapons of Mass Distortion’, King’s College London’s Marina Favaro classifies deep fake as a ‘weapon of mass distortion’, arguing that it is capable of reducing situational awareness of a country and could erode Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3)……………….  https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/commentary/deep-fakes-the-next-digital-weapon-with-worrying-implications-for-nuclear-policy/

   

November 4, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Chris Hedges: The Assange case is the most important battle for press freedom in our time

Chris Hedges: The Assange case is the most important battle for press freedom in our time, Rt.com29 Oct, 2021

 If the WikiLeaks founder is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material, it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting.

For the past two days, I have been watching the extradition hearing for Julian Assange via video link from London. The United States is appealing a lower court ruling that denied the US request to extradite Assange not, unfortunately, because in the eyes of the court he is innocent of a crime, but because, as Judge Vanessa Baraitser in January concluded, Assange’s precarious psychological state would deteriorate given the “harsh conditions” of the inhumane US prison system, “causing him to commit suicide.” The United States has charged Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of trying to hack into a government computer, charges that could see him imprisoned for 175 years. 

Assange, with long white hair, appeared on screen the first day from the video conference room in HM Prison Belmarsh. He was wearing a white shirt with an untied tie around his neck. He looked gaunt and tired. He did not appear in court, the judges explained, because he was receiving a “high dose of medication.” On the second day he was apparently not present in the prison’s video conference room.

Assange is being extradited because his organization WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs in October 2010, which documented numerous US war crimes – including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians that had approached too closely to US checkpoints. He is also being targeted by US authorities for other leaks, especially those that exposed the hacking tools used by the CIA known as Vault 7, which enables the spy agency to compromise cars, smart TVs, web browsers, and the operating systems of most smart phones, as well as operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux.  

If Assange is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material, it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting, allowing the government to use the Espionage Act to charge any reporter who possesses classified documents, and any whistleblower who leaks classified information.

If the appeal by the United States is accepted, Assange will be retried in London. The ruling on the appeal is not expected until at least January.

Assange’s September 2020 trial painfully exposed how vulnerable he has become after 12 years of detention, including seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He has in the past attempted suicide by slashing his wrists. He suffers from hallucinations and depression, takes antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine. After he was observed pacing his cell until he collapsed, punching himself in the face, and banging his head against the wall, he was transferred for several months to the medical wing of the Belmarsh prison. Prison authorities found “half of a razor blade” hidden under his socks. He has repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day.”

James Lewis, the lawyer for the United States, attempted to discredit the detailed and disturbing medical and psychological reports on Assange presented to the court in September 2020, painting him instead as a liar and malingerer. He excoriated the decision of Judge Baraitser to bar extradition, questioned her competence, and breezily dismissed the mountains of evidence that high-security prisoners in the United States, like Assange, subjected to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), and held in virtual isolation in supermax prisons, suffer psychological distress. He charged Dr. Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, who examined Assange and testified for the defense, with deception for “concealing” that Assange fathered two children with his fiancée, Stella Moris while in refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He said that, should the Australian government request Assange, he could serve his prison time in Australia, his home country, after his appeals had been exhausted, but stopped short of promising that Assange would not be held in isolation or subject to SAMs…………………

There is no legal basis to hold Assange in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the US Espionage Act. The CIA spied on Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers as they discussed his defense. This fact alone invalidated the trial. Assange is being held in a high security prison so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, has testified, continue the degrading abuse and torture it hopes will lead to his psychological if not physical disintegration. The architects of imperialism, the masters of war, the corporate-controlled legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and their obsequious courtiers in the media, are guilty of egregious crimes. Say this simple truth and you are banished, as many of us have been, to the margins of the media landscape. Prove this truth, as Assange, Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond, and Edward Snowden have by allowing us to peer into the inner workings of power, and you are hunted down and persecuted.

Assange’s “crime” is that he exposed the more than 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians. He exposed the torture and abuse of some 800 men and boys, aged between 14 and 89, at Guantánamo. He exposed that Hillary Clinton in 2009 ordered US diplomats to spy on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and other UN representatives from China, France, Russia, and the UK, spying that included obtaining DNA, iris scans, fingerprints, and personal passwords, part of the long pattern of illegal surveillance that included eavesdropping on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He exposed that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the CIA orchestrated the June 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically-elected president, Manuel Zelaya, replacing him with a murderous and corrupt military regime. He exposed that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and General David Petraeus prosecuted a war in Iraq that, under post-Nuremberg laws, is defined as a criminal war of aggression, a war crime, which authorized hundreds of targeted assassinations, including those of US citizens in Yemen. He exposed that the United States secretly launched missile, bomb, and drone attacks on Yemen, killing scores of civilians. He exposed that Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton $657,000 to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe, and that she privately assured corporate leaders she would do their bidding while promising the public financial regulation and reform. He exposed the internal campaign to discredit and destroy British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by members of his own party. He exposed how the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency permit the wholesale government surveillance of our televisions, computers, smartphones, and anti-virus software, allowing the government to record and store our conversations, images, and private text messages, even from encrypted apps.

He exposed the truth. He exposed it over and over and over until there was no question of the endemic illegality, corruption, and mendacity that defines the global ruling elite. And for these truths alone he is guilty. https://www.rt.com/op-ed/538822-assange-battle-for-press-freedom/#comment-5589120643

November 2, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties, Legal, media | Leave a comment

HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY KING RUPERT!

October 30, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

Bizarre twists in USA’s war on Julian Assange and Wikileaks

Britain’s Guantanamo: is Julian Assange a terrorist?  https://www.michaelwest.com.au/britains-guantanamo-is-julian-assange-a-terrorist/ By Gary Lord|October 18, 2021  

As Julian Assange prepares to face a British court for possibly the last time, threatened with up to 175 years detention in a US supermax prison, journalist Gary Lord, explores the latest bizarre twists in the US effort to extradite the Wikileaks founder and the silence of global media.

Julian Assange likes to say that censorship is “always an opportunity” that should be welcomed because it indicates that “there is something worth looking at”. He also says that it is a sign of weakness because it “reveals a fear of reform”. 

So it’s interesting that recent bombshell stories about Assange himself are being censored by global media giants. As the WikiLeaks founder prepares to face a British court for possibly the last time on October 27, threatened with up to 175 years detention in a US supermax prison, perhaps this media censorship is something worth looking at?

wo major stories have emerged since a UK judge ruled against Assange’s extradition to the United States (on health grounds only) at the start of this year.

Firstly, Icelandic media revealed in June that the US prosecution’s prize witness, a convicted pedophile and fraudster who has since been jailed, had withdrawn his testimony against Assange. 

Sigurdur Thordarson, who worked for Wikileaks in 2010 but embezzled over $50,000 from the organization, admitted to fabricat­ing key accusati­ons in the US indict­ment. This important story was almost totally ignored by global media.

Secondly, some 30 anonymous US officials recently confirmed that CIA boss Mike Pompeo, US President Donald Trump, and other staff “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration actively discussed assassinating Julian Assange, and even enlisted UK government support to shoot out airplane tyres if required. 

The US government officially designated WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” in order to provide legal cover for any violent action, with “sketches” including possible shootouts with Russian agents on the streets of inner London.

The USA’s FAIR media watch group investigated the extraordinary lack of media coverage this astonishing revelation received, noting that “BBC News, one of the most-read news outlets in the world, appears to have covered the story just once — in the Somali-language section of the BBC website”.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other major media outlets totally ignored it. The Guardian published just two articles about it; by comparison, they devoted 16 articles to alleged Russian government attempts to murder Alexei Navalny.

Sadly, this media censorship of Assange is not new, even if it does appear to be reaching new heights of absurdity. Another widely ignored story is the relentless and invasive spying on Assange and his visitors – including lawyers, family and journalists – while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy. 

A Spanish court is currently investigating allegations that UC Global, the company that supposedly provided “security” at the behest of the Ecuadorian government, was secretly working for the CIA as a client of former Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Donald Trump. 

Max Blumenthal first reported back in May 2020 that these spies also discussed plots to kidnap or poison Assange.

A “fix” or media apathy?

How to explain the widespread lack of mainstream media interest in such shocking news stories which could easily be given front page importance? 

Are we to assume that “the fix is in”? Is this part of a deliberate effort to suppress public support for Assange, ahead of his inevitable extradition? If so, who is behind it, and what does it say about the politicisation of the British court system, never mind global media organisations? If not, how else can we understand it?

It’s well known that Assange fell out with many of his old media partners following the 2010 Cablegate publications, but most of those journalists still argue that the Australian should not be extradited for the “crime” of journalism. 

Editorials in the Guardian, New York Times, the Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers have called for the US extradition case to be dropped. But the media fraternity’s “support” for Assange has never extended to a full-blown campaign, such as we saw when (for example) Peter Greste was jailed.

In fact, there has been a remarkable lack of Western media interest in Assange’s court case – coupled with smearslies and poor reporting – for over a decade.

Italian journalist Sefania Maurizi, who has worked closely with WikiLeaks for many years, appears to be the only journalist who bothered to lodge Freedom of Information requests about the Assange case with the British and Swedish governments. 

A “non-state hostile intelligence service”

She discovered that the Crown Prosecuting Service, which was then controlled by Sir Keir Starmer (now UK Labour Party leader), advised Swedish prosecutors not to come and question Assange in London, and not to “get cold feet” and close the case. “Please do not think this case is being dealt with as just another extradition,” they wrote – then they deleted all their emails!

In Australia, lawyer Kellie Tranter has been putting Aussie journos to shame by lodging her own FOI applications and sharing the results. Maurizi also has FOI applications lodged with the Australian and US governments, but they have been stalled for years with no explanation.

Assange and WikiLeaks still enjoy huge public support around the world. So why don’t big media organisations want more online clicks from readers digging into these amazing stories?

A clue may come from the CIA’s determination to get WikiLeaks officially designated a “non-state hostile intelligence service”. This legal designation would surely make media reporting on WikiLeaks the subject of increased government attention and maybe even censorship.

All the AUKUS countries have now adopted extreme new “anti-terror” laws that include Orwellian restrictions on the media. Maybe it’s time for AUKUS journalists to ask whether WikiLeaks is also officially designated a “non-state hostile intelligence service” in Canberra and London?

Is it possible that Julian Assange – who has been held in “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay” since 11 April 2019 – has been secretly defined as some new form of “information terrorist“? And if so, would our media today even be allowed to report it? Gary Lord is the author of Julian Assange biography “Wikileaks: a True History

October 18, 2021 Posted by | media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment