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Julian Assange’s 6 years of confinement in Ecuadorian Embassy in London

2,192 Days of Confinement: Assange’s 6 Years in Ecuadorian Embassy in Numbers, https://sputniknews.com/europe/201806191065516777-assange-6-years-embassy-london/  

June 19 marks six years since the founder of WikiLeaks entered the building of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He hasn’t stepped foot outside it since.

Julian Assange has been residing at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, where he sought refuge while facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden.

981 days have passed since the Metropolitan police removed dedicated 24/7 guards from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy on October 12, 2015.

“Like all public services, MPS resources are finite. With so many different criminal, and other, threats to the city it protects, the current deployment of officers is no longer believed proportionate,” a statement by the Met police said.

865 days since the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) ruled in a majority decision that Assange was being detained inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London arbitrarily and was allowed to leave.

READ MORE: UN Ruling on Assange’s Illegal Detention Explained

396 days since the allegations were dropped by Swedish prosecutors, but the Wikileaks founder would still get arrested if he left the embassy’s premises — by the UK police — for failing to surrender to the court in 2012.

158 days since Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship and subsequently the UK was asked to recognize the whistleblower as a diplomatic agent. Had the British agreed — it would have given Assange immunity to finally leave the embassy.

However, the UK refused the request, meaning he remains confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy, which has been found “dangerous physically and mentally” and “a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.”

83 days since the whistleblower’s access to the Internet was cut off “in order to prevent any potential harm.”

“The government of Ecuador has suspended the systems that allows Julian Assange to communicate with the world outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London… The measure was adopted due to Assange not complying with a written promise which he made with the government in late 2017, whereby he was obliged not to send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states,” the government of Ecuador said in a statement.

Julian Assange fears extradition to the United States to be prosecuted for espionage after his website leaked classified US data.

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June 20, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

After years of ignoring Julian Assange’s plight, at last the Australian govt might help him

Australian officials spotted in mysterious Assange visit https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/australian-officials-spotted-in-mysterious-assange-visit-20180608-p4zk7w.html, 8 June 18 

London: Australian government officials have paid a mysterious visit to Julian Assange in his Ecuadorian embassy refuge in London, in a sign there may be a breakthrough in the stalemate that has lasted almost six years.

Two officials from Australia’s High Commission were spotted leaving the embassy in Knightsbridge in west London on Thursday.

It is the first time Australian consular officials have visited Assange at the embassy.

They were accompanied by Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson.

Robinson confirmed the meeting to Fairfax but said she could not say what the meeting was about “given the delicate diplomatic situation”.  “Julian Assange is in a very serious situation” she said. “He remains in the embassy because of the risk of extradition to the US. That risk is undeniable after numerous statements by Trump administration officials including the director of the CIA and the US attorney-general.”

Assange entered the embassy on June 19, 2012, after he had exhausted his appeals against an extradition order to go to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations.

Swedish authorities have since closed their investigation, saying it couldn’t continue without Assange’s presence in their country.

However Assange still faces arrest if he steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy for breach of his bail conditions, after failing in a legal bid earlier this year to have the warrant cancelled by an English court.

His condition has recently become much worse, with his hosts repeatedly suggesting in public comments that they want the situation resolved and him out of the building. The court proceedings also revealed his worsening health, including serious tooth problems, respiratory infections, depression and a frozen shoulder.

His internet and phone connections were cut off by the Ecuadorian government six weeks ago and he was denied any visitors apart from lawyers, after Ecuador complained he had breached “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages [on social media] that might interfere with other states”.

A spokeswoman from the High Commission said she would have to refer any questions about the meeting to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra confirmed it is providing consular assistance to Assange through the Australian High Commission in London.

Citing privacy obligations, however, DFAT refused to offer further comment.

Assange has complained for years that the Australian government has not offered him consular assistance, despite his being an Australian citizen.

In May last year Assange’s mother Christine Assange called on the Australian Government to give her son a new passport so that he can leave Britain.

“His passport’s been confiscated, the Australian Government should immediately issue him another one and demand safe passage for him to take up legal asylum in Ecuador,” she told the ABC.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Increased powers for security guards at Missouri’s nuclear power plants

Nuclear power plant legislation signed into law, June 8th, 2018, by Fulton Sun JEFFERSON CITY — Last week, 77 bills were signed into law including one regarding nuclear power plant security.

Rep. Travis Fitzwater’s bill strengthens security measures at nuclear power plants in Missouri and defines specifically what armed nuclear security guards can do to provide protection at those facilities.

House Bill 1797 specifies the level of physical force nuclear security guards can use while guarding a nuclear power plant; protects certain nuclear power plant employers from civil liability in carrying out their duties; and increases the penalties associated with trespassing at a nuclear power plant………

Commonly known as the Nuclear Power Plant Security Guard Act, the legislation faced little opposition in the state House and Senate. …….. To read the bill in its entirety, visit house.mo.gov/bill.aspx?bill=HB1797&year=2018&code=R.

http://www.fultonsun.com/news/news/story/2018/jun/08/nuclear-power-plant-legislation-signed-law/729722/

June 9, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Call to stop the persecution of whistleblower Julian Assange

US activist Kevin Zeese calls for demonstrations against the persecution of Julian Assange https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/06/zees-j06.html 6 June 2018

Kevin Zeese, a prominent US activist and lawyer, issued the following statement this week endorsing action in defense of Julian Assange, including the June 17 rally in Sydney and vigils in London and around the world on June 19.

Zeese has spoken out against the escalating censorship of the Internet and the broader erosion of democratic rights. He is a co-director of the Popular Resistance organisation and is on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation which raises funds for the defence of persecuted journalists and whistleblowers.

Statement of Kevin Zeese endorsing protests and vigils in defense of Julian Assange  

Julian Assange through his work as editor of WikiLeaks has made major strides toward democratizing the media by creating a vehicle for whistleblowers to share the truth and correct the misinformation of the mass corporate media. Assange and WikiLeaks have given people a precious tool—access to the undeniable truth about what governments and big business are doing. This is a tool we can all use to educate each other about what is really going on around us.

Assange is being persecuted because a democratized media threatens the monopoly over media control of the elites. A democratized media makes it more difficult for them to misinform, mislead and propagandize.

Through WikiLeaks, Assange with whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning have exposed war crimes, the truth about the Guantanamo Bay prison, the corporate domination of US policy and the actions of governments around the world and more. This has led to popular revolts around the world that have challenged those who abuse their power.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is being defined by the treatment of Julian Assange. Everyone who cares about these freedoms should speak out and take action on his behalf by joining the demonstration in Sydney, Australia on June 17 and the vigils being held in London and around the world on June 19—the anniversary of when Julian sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy six years ago. On June 19 at 11:00 a.m. we will be holding a protest in support of Julian Assange at the White House. Please join us to call for an end to his persecution.

Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, member of the advisory board of the Courage Foundation

June 8, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties | Leave a comment

British government used pilots like ‘GUINEA PIGS’ during Cold War nuclear experiments 

MoD used British pilots like ‘GUINEA PIGS’ during Cold War nuclear experiments https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/967466/cold-war-nuclear-experiments-MoD-radiation-RAF

THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) used British nuclear test pilots like “guinea pigs” during the Cold War, deliberately exposing them to radiation, it has been claimed  By ALICE SCARSI, May 31, 2018 

The shocking allegation was made by the widow of a pilot who obtained secret documents suggesting her husband took part in a life-threatening experiment.

Shirley Denson, 83, said the documentation shows her husband, Flight Lieutenant Eric Denson, was ordered to fly through the cloud of a thermonuclear explosion at Christmas Island in the Pacific.

The test exposed him to so much radiation he was left with unbearable headaches which eventually brought him to kill himself to make the pain stop, she added.

And the experiment may have affected two of the couple’s four daughters, as Mrs Denson claimed they were born with abnormalities.

The widow, who was handed the papers by the MoD while conducting research about her husband’s service, described the situation “wicked” and “evil”.

“It makes me furious to think it was done on purpose, that my Eric mattered so little to them.”

The documents revealed Fl Lt Denson had flown his Canberra B6 bomber into the mushroom cloud of a 2.8 megaton nuclear explosion on April 28 1958, with X-ray badges on the seat to measure radiation, the Mirror reported.

During the flight, the pilot would have been exposed to 65 years’ worth of normal background radiation during the six-minute flight.

British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association chairman Alan Owen said: “This is the first time in all our years of campaigning we have ever found evidence this strong.

“Our members always believed they were guinea pigs and this appears to prove some of them were, at best, collateral damage in horrifying experiments.

“We need to know everything – now.”

The MoD denied Fl Lt Denson was purposely exposed to radiation.

The allegations caused outrage among politicians, who urged the MoD to answer the claim.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson described the documents as “shocking”, and said the Defence Secretary should issue an unqualified apology to Mrs Denson in the Commons.

He said: “This is a shocking document the MoD cannot wriggle out of.

“We need answers about what experiments were conducted, and how many of the 22,000 nuke vets were involved in them.”

Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffiths said the papers brought to light “deeply worrying revelations” and called for them to be investigated by the MoD.

And Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth added: “This is an absolute scandal.”

A spokesman for the MoD rejected the claims saying: “It is not true to say these men were subject to an experiment to look at the effects of radiation.

“The British nuclear testing programme contributed towards keeping our country secure during the Cold War and regular health checks were conducted throughout.

“The National Radiological Protection Board has carried out three studies of nuclear test veterans and found no valid evidence to link this programme to ill health.”

And he exclusively revealed to Express.co.uk: “According to the information available in the Operational Record Books for the squadron, Fl Lt Denson did not fly the same aircraft in the week after his sampling sortie.

“The ‘experiments’ referred to were to determine the best possible arrangement on the body of dosemeters (devices that measure radiation) so that these mens’ exposure could be measured as accurately as possible.”

June 1, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, health, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Thousands Held Arbitrarily – increasing numbers in Detention Without Trial in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: Thousands Held Arbitrarily, Dramatic Increase in Detention Without Trial  Human Rights Watch , 6 May 18, (Beirut) – Saudi Arabia is detaining thousands of people for more than six months, in some cases for over a decade, without referring them to courts for criminal proceedings. Saudi Arabia’s attorney general should promptly charge or release all criminal defendants and stop holding people arbitrarily.

Human Rights Watch analyzed data from a public online Interior Ministry database, which revealed that authorities have detained 2,305 people who are under investigation for more than six months without referring them to a judge. The number held for excessively long periods has apparently increased dramatically in recent years. A similar Human Rights Watch analysis in May 2014 revealed that only 293 people had been held under investigation for that period.

“If Saudi authorities can hold a detainee for months on end with no charges, it’s clear that the Saudi criminal justice system remains broken and unjust, and it only seems to be getting worse,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“It seems that MBS’s ‘Vision2030’ plan better describes the length of detentions without charge than an aspirational time horizon for reforms.”

Saudi Arabia’s use of arbitrary detention has faced increasing scrutiny since the November 4, 2017 mass arrest of 381 people on corruption allegations. The arrests raised human rights concerns and appeared to take place outside of any recognizable legal framework, with detainees forced to trade financial and business assets for their freedom.

…….Human Rights Watch analyzed the data on April 2, which was updated through March 31. Of the 5,314 people in the database, 3,380 had been held for over six months without a conviction or their “case file under judicial review,” including 2,949 for more than a year and 770 for over three years. The database indicated Saudi authorities were holding 2,305 people “under investigation” for more than six months, 1,875 for more than a year, and 251 for over three years.

Saudi authorities have held one Saudi citizen without a conviction since September 2003 and another “under investigation” since December 2006. Of the 251 held “under investigation” for over three years, 233 are Saudis.

“We’ve reverted to a Saudi version of Kafka when authorities detain citizens for over a decade without charge because they are ‘under investigation’,” Whitson said. “This effectively means that Saudi authorities can detain and jail anyone they want by claiming they are  investigating them, however endless the investigation.”………..

Extended detention without charge or trial or without an appearance before a judge is arbitrary, and violates both Saudi law and international human rights standards.

“Mohammad bin Salman’s promises to modernize and strengthen the rule of law mean very little when the authorities can lock away thousands of people for years and throw away the key,” Whitson said.  https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/06/saudi-arabia-thousands-held-arbitrarily

May 28, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi government will not be able to silence courageous women activists

A Saudi woman who dared to drive | Manal al-Sharif

Courageous Women’s Rights Activists Will Not Be Silenced By Government Smears https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/loujain-al-hathloul_uk_5b0692a7e4b0784cd2b1cb83?guccounter=1  Loujain al-Hathloul, who posed with Meghan Markle for her humanitarian work, was locked in cell as Meghan walked down the aisle 

On Saturday, Meghan celebrated her marriage to Prince Harry in a spectacular ceremony at Windsor Castle watched by a global audience of billions.

On the same day, Loujain (pictured above) was locked in a cell. Her supposed crime? Standing up for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

Loujain is a well-known campaigner for women’s right to drive in the ultra-conservative kingdom. Late last week, we learned that she had been arrested from her home. She was one of at least six prominent women’s rights activists detained by the Saudi Arabian authorities.

Loujain has been arrested several times in recent years for campaigning for women’s right to drive and the abolition of the male guardianship system. Now, she is the victim of a state-orchestrated smear campaign, designed to undermine the important campaigning that she and other human rights activists have been undertaking.
Along with the other human rights activists, Loujain has been detained and accused of crimes including “suspicious contact with foreign entities” and undermining the “security and stability” of the country. She was branded a ‘traitor’ to the country by state-aligned media. These arrests come one month before Saudi Arabian authorities will lift the ban on women driving in the kingdom. It is a cruel irony that the very women who championed the right to drive campaign may not be able to benefit from their activism – instead, they may be behind bars instead of behind the wheel.

These accusations are nothing more than ludicrous lies, intended to silence strong feminist voices speaking up for women’s rights.

The following morning, it only got worse. A vile and unprecedented smear campaign took over the front pages of Saudi newspapers and spread across social media platforms. Local newspapers like Okaz and Al-Jazirah were filled with aggressive front-page headlines, photos and countless opinion articles, calling the activists spies. On Twitter, one graphic was widely shared, revealing the faces and names of these activists with the word “traitor” stamped across their photos.

We fear that they, like many other peaceful activists and human rights defenders, will be tried and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their activism. This continued criminalization of peaceful activism and human rights work is repulsive. It’s been a week since their arrests, and we still don’t know where the activists are, if they have been presented with clear legal charges, or have had access to a lawyer of their choosing.

In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has travelled the world on a PR blitz, shaking hands with fellow leaders while promising positive change in the kingdom. MbS (as he’s known) claims women’s rights will be respected as part of his reforms. These arrests show those promises to be a lie.

How can the Crown Prince tell the world that he is an advocate for women’s rights while locking up activists who have called for the reforms he claims credit for? How can he claim to support women’s empowerment when the brave activists who have sacrificed their freedom for the rights and freedoms of Saudi Arabian women in the country won’t be able to drive next month?

For government leaders around the world who have been taken in by MbS’ talk of reform, we have a simple message: as long as human rights activists are deemed a threat to state security, and as long as the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly are equated with terrorism, Saudi reform is not meaningful.

It is clear that underneath all the PR hype and spin, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman doesn’t care about women’s rights and real human rights reforms. Saudi Arabian authorities cannot continue to publicly state they are dedicated to reform, while treating women’s rights campaigners in this cruel way. It’s time to end the systematic discrimination against women and the repression of the human rights community in Saudi Arabia.

Samah Hadid is Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns

May 25, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia arrests 11 human rights activists as “traitors”

Saudi Women’s Rights Activists Labeled ‘Traitors’ as Crackdown Escalates  http://time.com/5289690/saudi-arabia-womens-activists-arrests-escalate/By LAIGNEE BARRON 25 May 18

Saudi Arabia has widened its crackdown on women’s rights activists, bringing the number of arrests up to 11 people, according to human rights groups.

Since the sweep began on May 15, the detained activists, most of whom are women, have been branded “traitors” by pro-government news outlets and social media accounts, according to Human Rights Watch. Over the weekend, several state-linked newspapers published the names and photographs of those detained in what rights groups dubbed a “smear campaign“.

Those arrested reportedly include prominent women’s rights defenders who have long advocated for ending the ban on women driving, among them, Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef and Eman al-Nafjan, along with Mohammed al-Rabea, an activist, and Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, a human rights lawyer. They may face charges for “suspicious contact with foreign parties” and undermining “stability,” according to the Presidency for State Security, an office which reports to the king.

Since the kingdom is expected to soon lift its prohibition on women driving, rights groups said the motivation behind the escalating arrests remains unclear.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, drew international plaudits last year when they announced the ban on female drivers would end on June 24.

But now international outrage over the arrests threatens to derail the crown prince’s image as liberalizer.

“The crown prince, who has styled himself as a reformer with Western allies and investors, should be thanking the activists for their contributions to the Saudi women’s rights movement,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director said in a statement. “Instead, the Saudi authorities appear to be punishing these women’s rights champions for promoting a goal bin Salman alleges to support — ending discrimination against women.”

May 25, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

The slow death of net neutrality

Net Neutrality’s Slow and Insidious Death Officially Begins Today http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/44252-urgent-demands-for-congress-to-act-as-net-neutrality-s-slow-and-insidious-death-begins  April 23, 2018By Jake JohnsonCommon Dreams | Report 

Today is the day that net neutrality’s “slow and insidious” death at the hands of the Republican-controlled FCC officially begins, and Congress is facing urgent pressure to save the open internet before it’s too late.

With Monday marking 60 days after the FCC’s net neutrality repeal entered the Federal Register, parts of the GOP-crafted plan — spearheaded by agency chair and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai — will now slowly begin taking effect, while some still need to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget.

Net neutrality backers in Congress, meanwhile, are still struggling to compile enough votes to repeal Pai’s new rules, despite the fact that they are deeply unpopular among the American public.

The Senate needs just one more vote to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore net neutrality protections before it can move to the House, where it would face an uphill battle. An official vote in the Senate has yet to be scheduled, but could come in the next few weeks.

In a recent Twitter thread, the advocacy group Fight for the Future warned against sensationalistic headlines proclaiming that net neutrality will immediately be gone on Monday, noting that large telecom companies will ensure that the open internet’s death is as quiet and subtle as possible in order to minimize public backlash.

“The ISPs aren’t going to immediately start blocking content or rolling out paid prioritization scams. They know Congress and the public are watching them,” the group noted. “And that’s the worst part. What will happen is over time ISP scams and abuses will become more commonplace and more accepted. They’ll roll out new schemes that appear good on their face but undermine the free market of ideas by allowing ISPs to pick winners and losers.”

 

April 25, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Journalists, bloggers to be scrutinised by U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggershttps://biglawbusiness.com/homeland-security-to-compile-database-of-journalists-bloggers/  By Cary O’Reilly – Bloomberg Government April 5, 2018

  • Seeks contractor that can monitor 290,000 global news sources

• ‘Media influencer’ database to note `sentiment’ of coverage


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.”

It’s seeking a contractor that can help it monitor traditional news sources as well as social media and identify “any and all” coverage related to the agency or a particular event, according to a request for information released April 3.

The data to be collected includes a publication’s “sentiment” as well as geographical spread, top posters, languages, momentum, and circulation. No value for the contract was disclosed.

“Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers,” according to the statement. DHS agencies have “a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners,” it said.

The DHS wants to track more than 290,000 global news sources, including online, print, broadcast, cable, and radio, as well as trade and industry publications, local, national and international outlets, and social media, according to the documents. It also wants the ability to track media coverage in more than 100 languages including Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, with instant translation of articles into English.

The request comes amid heightened concern about accuracy in media and the potential for foreigners to influence U.S. elections and policy through “fake news.” Nineteen lawmakers including Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month, asking whether Qatar-based Al Jazeera should register as a foreign agent because it “often directly undermines” U.S. interests with favorable coverage of Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

The DHS request says the selected vendor will set up an online “media influence database” giving users the ability to browse based on location, beat, and type of influence. For each influencer found, “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”

A department spokesman didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

Responses are due April 13. Seven companies, mainly minority- or women-owned small businesses, have already expressed interest in becoming a vendor for the contract, according to the FedBizOpps web site.

— With assistance from Daniel Snyder

To contact the reporter on this story: Cary O’Reilly in Washington atcoreilly@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Loren Duggan atlduggan@bgov.com; Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com; Theresa Barry attbarry@bgov.com

April 9, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties | 1 Comment

Pressure on assistant professor to downplay dangers of nuclear power

Hokkaido METI bureau requested changes to nuclear energy part of high school lecture https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180407/p2a/00m/0na/017000c  (Mainichi Japan) SAPPORO – High-ranking officials from the local bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) requested that an assistant professor change an October 2017 lecture to high school students pointing out the dangers of nuclear power, it has been learned.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Japan | 1 Comment

The world should be outraged at the silencing of Julian Assange

Daniel Ellsberg’s decision to release the Pentagon Papers was an act of valor—his actions saved countless lives. He was a whistleblower who changed the course of history and curtailed an ongoing genocide which ended up preventing the needless dissolution of American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians alike. The publishing of the Pentagon Papers is a prime example of the critical part a free press plays in keeping governments in check and exposing the corrosive nature of consolidated power. This is why the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights enshrines the rights to free speech and of a free press in the United States Constitution. 

Tyrants throughout history have targeted journalists and reporters for a reason.

On Wednesday afternoon, Julian Assange, who has been forced into self-imprisonment at the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to ward off prosecution from the United Kingdom and the United States, had his internet access cut off. Assange is our generation’s Daniel Ellsberg; WikiLeaks—the online publication he started—has been invaluable in letting the public know about the malfeasance of their elected officials and highlighting the duplicity of governments throughout the world. In an era where mainstream journalists have been turned into a corporate-state propagandists, WikiLeaks stands out in their dogged pursuit of truth and exposing deep-seated corruption and graft.

Where Is the Outrage About Julian Assange’s Silencing? https://www.truthdig.com/articles/where-is-the-outrage-about-julian-assanges-silencing/ 3 April 18, Teodrose Fikre / The Ghion Journal 

On October 12, 1969, Daniel Ellsberg copied a secret dossier with the intention of disclosing the truth about the Vietnam War. The Pentagon Papers were a chronicle of events that recorded the scope of operations in Vietnam and beyond—details which were being withheld from the American public. The Vietnam War was built on the foundation of lies; we were rushed into the war using the Gulf of Tonkin as a false flag and defending freedom as a pretext to further the interests of the defense-financial complex. The truth eventually caught up to the lies of politicians and bureaucrats; Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later admitted the Gulf of Tonkin attack never took place.

The Gulf of Tonkin set the stage for a decade of continuous half-truths and outright lies as the US government suppressed information from the citizenry and kept falsifying records. This coordinated campaign of governmental disinformation prolonged a war that led to the deaths of 58,200 Americans and snuffed the lives of over 2 million Vietnamese people. It was this pernicious operation of deceit—intent on keeping the public in the dark—that prodded Ellsberg to act. After presenting the findings of the Pentagon Papers to authorities in government only to be met with a wall of silence, he decided to inform the press. The firestorm of controversy that was created after The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers and the ensuing outcry from the public played a large part in bringing an end to the Vietnam War.

Daniel Ellsberg’s decision to release the Pentagon Papers was an act of valor—his actions saved countless lives. He was a whistleblower who changed the course of history and curtailed an ongoing genocide which ended up preventing the needless dissolution of American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians alike. The publishing of the Pentagon Papers is a prime example of the critical part a free press plays in keeping governments in check and exposing the corrosive nature of consolidated power. This is why the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights enshrines the rights to free speech and of a free press in the United States Constitution.

Tyrants throughout history have targeted journalists and reporters for a reason. Napoleon Bonaparte, a savage dictator, once noted that four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets. He said this because he knew that journalists can awaken a slumbering public from sleep and rally them against repressive regimes. A free press is the last line of defense between liberty and despotism. The founders of our republic, in the hopes of preventing America from traveling down the path of authoritarianism, made the rights of a free press sacrosanct for this exact reason. Sadly, our nation is living proof that all revolutions eventually devolve to the very tyranny that gave birth to them.

Bureaucrats and elected officials in government learned the wrong lessons from the Pentagon Papers. Instead of being transparent and reducing corruption in governance, authorities decided to cloak themselves in darkness, methodically target whistleblowers for prosecution and intimidate journalists in order to prevent them from doing their jobs. All this is taking place in a backdrop where corporations have initiated a hostile takeover of government; by weaponizing their wealth, globalist oligarchs have effectively turned public servants and technocrats into their enforcers and security guards.

In an environment where billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch own more than 90 percent of the media content and the way it is disseminated to the public, reporters and journalists in corporate media have to be mindful of keeping their checks as much as they are fearful of getting a knock on the door from subpoena bearers. This systematic war against free press metastasized after the heinous attacks of 9/11; the US government—yet again using national security as a pretext—made it a priority to silence dissent within government and neutralize aggressive reporting against its excesses. As western powers piously preach about freedom and democracy throughout the globe, they are steadily dismantling both domestically.

On Wednesday afternoon, Julian Assange, who has been forced into self-imprisonment at the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to ward off prosecution from the United Kingdom and the United States, had his internet access cut off. Assange is our generation’s Daniel Ellsberg; WikiLeaks—the online publication he started—has been invaluable in letting the public know about the malfeasance of their elected officials and highlighting the duplicity of governments throughout the world. In an era where mainstream journalists have been turned into a corporate-state propagandists, WikiLeaks stands out in their dogged pursuit of truth and exposing deep-seated corruption and graft.

It is this defiance in seeking truth and bringing light to criminality that has earned WikiLeaks in general, and Julian Assange specifically, scorn and contempt from autocrats in D.C. and throughout European capitals. It is at once amusing and vexing to hear public officials take to the podium to lecture tinpot dictators about good governance and respecting a free press while they target whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and harass reporters like Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald who dare give voice to them. This quest to silence free speech and neuter a free press is a bipartisan campaign and a bilateral initiative. Both sides of the aisle in D.C. and a multitude of supposedly “democratic” governments throughout the world are stepping up efforts to eradicate the rights of journalists and truth-tellers alike.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties | 1 Comment

The Cambridge Analytica scandal – a chance to take control of our data 

Large Man Looking At Co-Worker With A Magnifying Glass — Image by © Images.com/Corbis

Don’t waste the Cambridge Analytica scandal: it’s a chance to take control of our data   Guardian  @Scottludlam,  23 Mar 2018 

March 23, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Japanese govt announced that it will accept recommendations of United Nations Human Rights Council on rights of Fukushima evacuees

Greenpeace 8th March 2018, The Japanese government has announced that it had accepted all four
recommendations made at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on
the rights of evacuees from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

The decision is a victory for the human rights of tens of thousands of
evacuees, and civil society that have been working at the UNHRC and
demanding that Japan accept and comply with UN principles.

The decision means that the Japanese government must immediately change its unacceptable
policies, said Greenpeace.

The announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was made in a formal submission to the UNHRC. Japan is to give its
formal decision on 16 March at the UNHRC Universal Periodic Review session in Geneva to recommendations made by Austria, Portugal and Mexico on the need to respect the rights of Fukushima, particularly women and children,
and from Germany, which called on Japan to protect citizens from harmful
radiation by dramatically reducing permitted radiation exposure.

At an event held in Tokyo today, where two evacuee mothers, a leading lawyer
representing Fukushima citizens, Human Rights Now, and Greenpeace,
explained the crisis facing many survivors and the multiple violations of
their rights by the government of Shinzo Abe and the implications of its
decision to accept all the four UNHRC recommendations.
http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/news/press/2018/pr20180308/

March 10, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Japan | Leave a comment

Julian Assange still a virtual prisoner in Ecuadorian Embassy in London

Julian Assange ‘has suffered enough’, his lawyers tell British judge, SMH, Nick Miller, 7 Feb 18, London: Julian Assange has suffered enough and shouldn’t face prison for absconding from justice, his lawyers have told a court.

The Wikileaks editor is depressed, in constant pain from an infected tooth, and has been stuck in the Ecuador Embassy in London’s Kensington far longer than the maximum 12-month jail penalty for breaching bail, his barrister said.

On Tuesday Assange lost a legal bid at Westminster Magistrates Court to quash the arrest warrant that has awaited him since he entered the Ecuador embassy in June 2012.

However his lawyers immediately launched a new push to end the UK government’s attempt to bring him to justice – arguing that it is against the public interest to punish him for refusing to leave the embassy.

It is a criminal offence for someone on bail to refuse to surrender to police without “reasonable cause” – and Assange refused to leave the embassy despite a court order for his arrest.

 But Assange’s barrister Mark Summers QC told Judge Emma Arbuthnot that it was not in the interests of “justice and proportionality” to bring an action against Assange.
Assange went into the embassy after he exhausted his line of appeal against a decision to extradite him to Sweden to face rape allegations.  Sweden last year ended its investigation into the allegations, and the European arrest warrant against Assange was cancelled. However the British warrant for his arrest still stood – and judge Arbuthnot said she was not persuaded it should be quashed simply because the underlying investigation had stopped.
Mr Summers said Assange was not “thumbing his nose” at justice and his five and a half years in the embassy were “adequate if not severe punishment for the actions that he took”.

Assange had genuine fears – later proved correct – that the US were keen to prosecute him over his work with Wikileaks, Summers said.

If arrested he would face rendition to the USA, treatment similar to that meted out against Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning – and possible “persecution, indefinite solitary confinement and the death penalty”, Summers said in a written submission……….

Judge Arbuthnot said it was a “very interesting” case.

She will rule on the public interest application on February 13.

Outside court, Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said whether or not the warrant is quashed Assange would not leave the embassy until he had an assurance he wouldn’t be extradited to the US.

“Mr Assange remains willing to answer to British justice in relation to any argument about breaching bail, but not at the expense of facing injustice in America,” she said.

“This case is and always has been about the risk of extradition to the United States and that risk remains real.” http://www.smh.com.au/world/julian-assange-has-suffered-enough-his-lawyers-tell-british-judge-20180206-p4yzjt.html

February 9, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, UK | Leave a comment