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US Media Held Murdered Russian Journalist to a Dangerous Standard

Whether or not one agrees with what they are saying, journalists of every nationality deserve protection from those who would use violence to silence them.

FAIR, LUCA GOLDMANSOUR, 23 Sept 22

After the August 20 car-bomb assassination of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a Russian ultranationalist political philosopher, US media outlets quickly branded the 29-year-old as an agent in Russia’s “disinformation war.” Rather than treating her as a member of the civilian press, they seemed to downplay her death as a casualty of war.

CNN (8/27/22) ran an article to this effect, failing to characterize her murder as an assassination, instead stating Dugina was “on the front lines” of Russia’s war effort, linking her to “Russia’s vast disinformation machine.” NPR (8/24/22) reported that  Dugina was a “Russian propagandist” whose killing signaled the war was coming to Russian elites in their own territory. Foreign Policy (8/26/22) called Dugina a “dead propagandist” whose “martyrdom” did more to achieve her goals in death than she could have hoped for in life.

It is certainly true that during her life, Dugina, who espoused the philosophy of Russian Eurasianism, an expansionist political doctrine veiled as an objective analysis of Russian interests, had very little impact on Western audiences. This is true of most Russian journalists, despite the frequent warnings in US corporate media about the threat posed by Russian media messages. For instance, RT, often considered the foremost Russian outlet in the West, accounted for only 0.04% of Britain’s total viewing audience in 2017 (New Statesman2/25/22), and reached about 0.6% of the UK’s online population from February 2021 to the start of 2022—and this was before Western media platforms sharply restricted access to RT and other pro-Moscow outlets in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Far more prevalent for Western viewers is the constant barrage of pro-NATO, pro-Western propaganda that vastly overstates the significance of Russian disinformation. Such was the case when CNN noted that Dugina ran a “disguised English-language online platform that pushed a pro-Kremlin worldview to Western readers.” By “disguised,” CNN is suggesting that the site she worked for, United World International, engaged in outright deception by not disclosing its Russian origins—much like CNN does not describe itself as a US-based outlet, but rather as a “world leader in online news and information.”

Whether UWI is purposefully misleading or not, CNN‘s underlying assumption is that Western audiences are so fickle that the most minimal exposure to pro-Kremlin viewpoints represents a threat to national security. It’s this stance that turns journalists with foreign ideologies into the equivalent of enemy combatants.

If CNN thinks disclosure is what separates journalism from propaganda, it might have disclosed the biases of the sources it used to contextualize Dugina’s murder. The article mostly relied on information from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and the Center for European Policy Analysis, both of which are “used to promote the information interests of the US-centralized power alliance in Europe and North America” (Transcend.org9/5/22) and are funded by the US government, European allied nations and weapons manufacturers.

Whether or not one agrees with what they are saying, journalists of every nationality deserve protection from those who would use violence to silence them. So when CNN or other Western media downplay the assassination of Dugina on the grounds that she spread Russian propaganda, or even disinformation, that supported a war of aggression and other war crimes, they are setting a standard that puts their own colleagues at risk. (The exceptionalism that holds that US institutions can avoid the consequences faced by others is, of course, a central pillar of US propaganda.)

US corporate media have a long track record of advocating for illegal US aggression while knowingly parroting their government’s false pretenses. The New York Times, for instance, hasn’t opposed a US war since its tacit disapproval of Ronald Reagan’s invasion of Grenada in 1983 (FAIR.org8/23/17). The Times advocated for the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (8/8/012/12/03); the CIA’s attempted regime change in Syria (8/26/13); and US drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia (2/6/13). With the body count from these conflicts far surpassing that of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, how would the assassination of a New York Times editorial board member differ from Dugina’s murder? Aside, of course, from the fact that Dugina supported Washington’s geopolitical adversary…………………….. more https://fair.org/home/us-media-held-murdered-russian-journalist-to-a-dangerous-standard/

September 22, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, media, USA | Leave a comment

Stop the Extradition! #FreeAssangeNOW

Julian Assange Files his Perfected Grounds of Appeal

Crowdfunder, Today, 26 August 2022, Julian Assange is filing his Perfected Grounds of Appeal before the High Court of Justice Administrative Court. The Respondents are the Government of the United States and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal contain the arguments on which Julian Assange intends to challenge District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s decision of 4 January 2021, and introduces significant new evidence that has developed since that ruling.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal concerning the United States Government include the following points:

  • Julian Assange is being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions (s.81(a) of the Extradition Act);
  • Julian Assange is being prosecuted for protected speech (Article 10)
  • The request itself violates the US-UK Extradition Treaty and International law because it is for political offences;
  • The US Government has misrepresented the core facts of the case to the British courts; and
  • The extradition request and its surrounding circumstances constitute an abuse of process.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal concerning the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) include arguments that Home Secretary Priti Patel erred in her decision to approve the extradition order on grounds of specialty and because the request itself violates Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty.

“Since the last ruling, overwhelming evidence has emerged proving that the United States prosecution against my husband is a criminal abuse. The High Court judges will now decide whether Julian is given the opportunity to put the case against the United States before open court, and in full, at the appeal,” said Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange.

Background:……………………………………… more https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/free-assange/updates/187543#startc

August 28, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, UK | Leave a comment

‘We should kill as many Russians as we can’ – Ukrainian envoy

Ukraine is doing its best to “kill as many Russians” as possible, the nation’s ambassador to Kazakhstan, Pyotr Vrublevsky, told local media outlets on Monday.

Speaking to a local blogger, Vrublevsky was asked to comment on the ongoing Ukraine conflict. “What can I say … We are trying to kill as many [Russians] as possible. The more Russians we kill now, the fewer our children will have to. That’s it,” he said………………………………………….. more https://www.rt.com/russia/561314-kill-russians-ukraine-ambassador/

August 22, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Zelensky accuses Amnesty International of supporting terrorism

Amid a torrent of criticism from pro-Ukrainian social media posters, Callamard stuck by the report. “To those who attack us alleging biases against Ukraine, I say: check our work,” she wrote on Twitter. “We stand by all victims. Impartially.” Callamard also accused “social media mobs and trolls” on both sides of the conflict of spreading “war propaganda, disinformation, [and] misinformation.”

 https://www.rt.com/russia/560260-zelensky-amnesty-international-report/ 4 Aug 22,

Amnesty has stuck by its report that Ukrainian forces endangered civilians.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has accused Amnesty International of siding with “terrorists” after the organization condemned the Ukrainian military for placing weapons in civilian areas in violation of humanitarian law.

“Today we saw a report by Amnesty International, which unfortunately tries to amnesty the terrorist state and shift responsibility from the aggressor to the victim,” Zelensky said in a video address on Thursday evening. 

“If someone makes a report that puts the aggressor and the victim on the same level, this cannot be tolerated,” he said, repeating three times that “Ukraine is a victim,” and adding that “anyone who doubts this is an accomplice of Russia – a terrorist country – and a terrorist themselves and a participant in the killings.”’

The report in question was published earlier on Thursday, and detailed 22 cases of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from schools and five examples of troops using hospitals as bases. Amnesty said that it was “not aware” that Ukraine tried to evacuate civilians before occupying these non-military locations. 

“We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”

While Amnesty has also accused Russia of breaking international law in the conduct of its military operation, the report was slated online by supporters of Zelensky’s regime, who accused the international organization of peddling “Russian propaganda.” 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has also pushed back against the report, accusing Amnesty of “creating a false reality” where everyone “is at fault for something.” Instead, he argued that the organization should focus exclusively on alleged Russian wrongdoing.

Amid a torrent of criticism from pro-Ukrainian social media posters, Callamard stuck by the report. “To those who attack us alleging biases against Ukraine, I say: check our work,” she wrote on Twitter. “We stand by all victims. Impartially.” Callamard also accused “social media mobs and trolls” on both sides of the conflict of spreading “war propaganda, disinformation, [and] misinformation.”

In his speech, Zelensky accused the Russian military of “striking at memorials to Holocaust victims” and “at a prisoner of war camp in Yelenovka.” Zelensky was apparently referring to a strike on a Holocaust memorial in March, which actually hit a TV tower nearby. An Israeli journalist stated that the memorial itself was untouched.

Russia accused Ukraine of launching a missile strike on the Yelenovka detention facility housing members of the neo-Nazi Azov regiment last week, and has asked the United Nations and Red Cross to investigate the attack. Donetsk People’s Republic officials claimed the facility was targeted to prevent the prisoners from testifying about alleged Ukrainian war crimes. 

August 5, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Poland’s double standard on how it treats refugees, and the prospect of exhaustion by those housing Ukrainians

Is Poland’s smooth reception of Ukrainian refugees heading for trouble? https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2022/08/04/Poland-Ukraine-refugee-concern-grows?utm_source=The+New+Humanitarian&utm_campaign=9a3fb600c4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_08_5_Weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d842d98289-9a3fb600c4-75686634 4 Aug 22,

Poland has so far extended a generous welcome to some 1.5 to 2 million Ukrainians escaping Russia’s invasion – more than double any other EU country. The reception has caught the eye of many, including the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, who recently visited the country. “I am impressed by the Government of Poland for providing significant support to a huge number of refugees,” González Morales said.

But Poland’s differing treatment of refugees and asylum seekers from other countries – including people fleeing the fighting in Ukraine – did not escape Gonzáles Morales’ attention, who noted the double standard and called for an end to pushbacks at the Poland-Belarus border.

The special rapporteur also said that the situation for Ukrainian refugees in Poland could soon become more difficult as winter approaches and volunteers who have been housing many Ukrainians grow exhausted. That’s just one of the impending challenges – alongside access to education, the possibility of anti-refugee sentiment, and more – that NGO workers and civil society activists told Migration Editor-at-large Eric Reidy they are now really worried about.

August 5, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Documents show Australian Labor government supports Assange’s extradition to the US

as far as the Labor government is concerned, Assange’s extradition is a done deal.

the greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to harbour illusions that Labor will act to free the WikiLeaks founder.

as far as the Labor government is concerned, Assange’s extradition is a done deal.

 the greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to harbour illusions that Labor will act to free the WikiLeaks founder.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/07/18/rqbf-j18.html Oscar Grenfell @Oscar_Grenfell, 18 July 22,

Documents obtained by lawyer Kellie Tranter and published on the Declassified Australia website cast a damning light on the Australian Labor government’s role in facilitating the continued imprisonment of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange and his extradition to the US.

The material gives the lie to the claims of Labor supporters that the newly-elected government may be seeking to secure Assange’s freedom through backroom diplomacy, despite the refusal of Labor ministers to condemn the attempted US extradition and prosecution.

They show that Labor is willing to let Assange be sent to the US, despite doctors and his family warning that it would be a death sentence. A successful extradition would also set a sweeping precedent for attacks on journalists and political dissidents globally.  

Assange faces 17 charges under the Espionage Act, and 175 years imprisonment, for publishing true information exposing massive US-led war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tranter, a longstanding legal advisor to Assange, has for many years filed freedom of information requests aimed at acquiring official documents revealing the role of Australian governments in the persecution of Assange. Those released by Declassified Australia are the first she has published since the Labor government was installed after the May 21 federal election.

The two documents are redacted. What is present, however, gives a sufficient picture of Labor’s acquiescence to Assange’s extradition, and the cynical, duplicitous character of the ambiguous public statements its leading representatives have made.

The first are internal “talking points” prepared for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on June 2. It is entitled: “Julian Assange – International Transfer of Prisoners process – talking points and background.” Its heading indicates the central preoccupation of the document, which states:

“Prisoner transfers cannot be agreed between governments in advance of a person being a prisoner (after a criminal trial, conviction and sentencing) in a particular country, and require the consent of the prisoner;  

“International prisoner transfers to Australia are initiated by an application from a prisoner after the prisoner has been convicted and sentenced;  

“If surrendered, convicted and sentenced in the US, Assange could apply under the ITP scheme to serve his sentence in Australia;”

In other words, Assange is to be extradited to the US, where the former Trump administration and the CIA plotted to kidnap or assassinate him from London in 2017, before settling on a pseudo-legal criminal indictment. He would be hauled before a kangaroo court in the District of Virginia, with a jury stacked by the very same CIA officers and their relatives. The hearings would proceed in secret and Assange’s detention regime would be one of total isolation.

With this hanging over his head, the document suggests that perhaps Assange will feel compelled to plead guilty to the “crime” of journalism revealing the illegal killings of civilians, torture and other violations of international law.  

Tranter notes that following a redacted section, the document continues: “However, the UK High Court’s judgment does note that the US has provided an assurance that they will consent to Mr Assange being transferred to Australia to serve any custodial sentence on him if he is convicted.”

The US “assurances” are not worth the paper they are written on. Their sole aim was to overcome an earlier British court ruling, which found that Assange’s extradition would be “oppressive” because of his deep on-going health issues and the horrific conditions in which he would be held in a US prison.

The assurances, accepted by a British High Court as bona fide last October, asserted that Assange’s conditions of detention would not be as bad as his lawyers claimed. But those very assurances made plain that the intelligence agencies, including the CIA, would have complete control over the circumstances of Assange’s imprisonment, which could be changed at any time.

The second, June 8 document, is a “ministerial submission,” entitled “Julian Assange – extradition request from the United States to the United Kingdom.” It recommends that Dreyfus “note” the situation confronting Assange, in the lead up to an announcement by British Home Secretary Priti Patel on whether she would approve extradition. Several weeks later, Patel gave her green light.    

The submission to Dreyfus bluntly stated: “The UK Home Secretary is due to make a final decision on Mr Assange’s extradition to the US by 20 June. Mr Assange will have one final avenue of appeal with the leave of the High Court, otherwise he must be extradited within 28 days of the Secretary of State’s decision.”

And again: “If Mr Assange is extradited, convicted and sentenced in the US, he may apply for transfer to Australia under the International Transfer of Prisoner’s Scheme. This will require the consent of the US and Australian authorities.  

“The UK High Court’s judgment notes that the US has provided an assurance that it will consent to Mr Assange being transferred to Australia to serve any custodial sentence imposed on him if he is convicted.”

Later on, the document stated: “‘If Mr Assange is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in the US, it will be possible for him to apply under the ITP scheme to serve the remainder of his sentence in Australia. A transfer would also require the consent of the US, the Australian Government (through you as Attorney-General), and the relevant minister in the state into whose prison Mr Assange would be transferring.  

“In making any such decision, the department would provide you with advice on factors such as the extent to which the transfer would assist the prisoner’s rehabilitation, sentence enforcement, community safety and any relevant humanitarian considerations, in addition to any conditions of transfer required by the US.’”

In other words, as far as the Labor government is concerned, Assange’s extradition is a done deal.

 Also striking is the fact that the documents do not countenance the possibility that he would be found “not guilty” in a US court. The entire thrust of the two documents is that the extradition and successful prosecution have already been stitched up, in a conspiracy involving the British government, the UK courts, the American authorities and the Labor administration.

Once Assange were in the US, moreover, the documents acknowledge that any “prison transfer” would be dependent upon the acquiescence of the American government whose President, Joe Biden, has previously branded Assange as a “high-tech terrorist.” A prison transfer, even in the unlikely event that it occurred, would mean years more of Assange’s incarceration, in Britain, the US and then Australia.

The contempt of the government for Assange is summed up by the reference to “factors such as the extent to which the transfer would assist the prisoner’s rehabilitation.” Assange does not need to be rehabilitated. He is a heroic journalist who has done a major service to humanity. It is the war criminals he has exposed who need to be placed in an institution.

Obviously it is unknown what is contained in the redacted section. It may deal with the elephant in the room, which is excluded from the rest of the documents. Assange’s doctors, lawyers and family have all testified that the WikiLeaks founder would take his life if he were to be extradited to the US. That judgment was effectively upheld by the British District Court, before it was overturned on the basis of the bogus US assurances.


All of the talk about “prison transfers” and the like is therefore window dressing for what would amount to a death sentence.

The documents reveal the sinister character of statements by Labor leaders, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Dreyfus, that the Assange case has ‘gone on for too long,” and “needs to be brought to a close.” When asked by journalists, each has refused to elaborate on what this precisely means.

One thing that is entirely absent from the documents is any suggestion that Labor has so much as suggested the US government drop the charges against Assange and end the extradition proceedings. The continuation of the judicial frame-up and victimisation is taken as given.

The documents vindicate the warnings of the Socialist Equality Party that the greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to harbour illusions that Labor will act to free the WikiLeaks founder.

The 2010-2013 Gillard Labor government initiated Australia’s collaboration with the persecution of Assange. Gillard slandered Assange by falsely claiming that he had broken Australian laws. Assange publicly accused Gillard and other senior ministers of secretly collaborating with the American state against him and other Australian citizens associated with WikiLeaks.

Those actions were bound up with the Gillard government’s full-throated support for the “pivot to Asia,” a vast military build-up aimed at preparing for an aggressive US-led war against China.

A decade on and the military preparations are far advanced. The new Labor government is functioning as an attack dog of the Biden administration throughout the region. Last week, during a visit to Washington, Defence Minister Richard Marles hailed the US-Australia alliance as “unbreakable,” as he outlined a further massive military-build up.

The documents confirm that the fight for Assange’s freedom requires a political struggle by the working class, the social constituency for democratic rights, against the Labor government and all of its defenders. A Labor government will only intervene diplomatically and legally to free Assange, if it is forced to do so by a mass movement from below.

July 19, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, Legal, politics international | Leave a comment

INSIDE THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR GOVERNMENT’S ASSANGE GAME PLAN

Is Australia urging the United States in non-negotiable terms to give priority to human rights and press freedom over any intelligence service-based vendetta or US domestic political considerations, and drop the case against Assange completely?

The imprecise language of the Labor government statements on using “quiet diplomacy” to “bring the matter to a close”, rather than clearly saying what they are seeking, may be giving false hope to the Australian public. Without putting forward its “quiet diplomacy” in non-negotiable terms to the US, it may be that the dropping of charges will not even be considered.

Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus It is not open to the Australian Government to directly interfere with either the jailing of Mr Assange in the United Kingdom, or the extradition request that’s been made by the United States to the United Kingdom.

The Assange case is unique. One of the ways in which that is the case is the attempted extraterritorial use of the US Espionage Act. The US is seeking to establish a precedent where it could seek to extradite any journalist anywhere in the world for disclosure of US information.

“If Australia were to sanction a ‘deal’ whereby Assange pleaded guilty to a charge in exchange for an Australian served sentence, it would be endorsing that approach.”

New revelations on the Labor Government’s secret planning to act on the Assange case without offending the Americans.

 https://declassifiedaus.org/2022/07/16/exclusive-inside-labors-assange-game-plan/ by Kellie Tranter | Jul 16, 2022, Quiet diplomacy”, a “soft approach”, a “loud approach” and “avoiding megaphone diplomacy” have all been floated as strategies to “bring to an end” the case against WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. In situations like his, the best form of diplomacy is that which produces results most favourable to the citizen involved and at the same time keeps them safe and in good health.

But government documents obtained this week by Declassified Australia under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act from the Attorney-General’s Department, indicate the new Labor Government does certainly not rule out the physical extradition of Assange from the United Kingdom to the United States, nor does it give any hint about how it might deal with possible fallout from that.

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July 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, Legal | Leave a comment

Extradition of Julian Assange – a travesty of justice

Alan William Preston Australia, 2 July 22, 1174 days in solitary confinement in London’s Belmarsh prison for having published evidence of the American military’s deliberate breaching of the Geneva Conventions during their illegal occupation of Iraq during which their personnel recorded 61,000 civilian deaths caused by their activities.

This is only a small corner of the truth he was shining the light on.

No further investigations or prosecutions for these war crimes have ever been pursued. Now the U.K. government is scrambling to disconnect itself from the European Court of Human Rights.

The U.N. had deemed that Julian Asssange had the right to publish this material and that his imprisonment is arbitrary and that the conditions equate to psychologicial torture and is ‘intimidation and reprisal’ being inflicted by the states that stand implicated by the evidence received and published.

We need to set the terms of reference for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the dysfunction in all the checks and balances that have allowed this travesty of injustice to occur.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquiries_Act_2005

July 4, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, legal | Leave a comment

Julian Assange files new appeal fighting extradition to US.

Washington Examiner. by Ryan King, Breaking News Reporter, July 01, 2022  

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is appealing the United Kingdom’s order to extradite him to the United States.

Two appeals were filed in the High Court of Justice in London to challenge the extradition, and the court will decide whether to evaluate the case, Assange’s attorney Gareth Peirce announced, according to the Wall Street Journal……………………………………

Friday was the deadline for Assange to appeal the extradition order, according to the BBC. He is being held at Belmarsh prison in London.

His lawyers claimed that he could face up to 175 years behind bars if he stands trial in the U.S., but the U.S. argued he will likely face between four and six years.

A myriad of groups championing freedom of the press urged the U.K. not to extradite Assange, arguing that doing so could set a bad precedent and hamper press freedoms in the future. For example, the International Federation of Journalists has expressed concerns the move could pose a “chilling effect” on journalists worldwide. 

“The US pursuit of Assange against the public’s right to know poses a grave threat to the Fundamental tenets of democracy, which are becoming increasingly fragile worldwide,” the group said. “Irrespective of personal views on Assange, his extradition will have a chilling effect, with all journalists and media workers at risk.”

“The case sets a dangerous precedent that members of the media, in any country, can now be targeted by governments, anywhere in the world, to answer for publishing information in the public interest,” the group added.https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/julian-assange-files-appeal-fighting-extradition

July 4, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Harsher anti-protest laws targeting environmentalists are putting greed before green 

Guardian, Bob Brown 27 June 22,

Penalties for peaceful action are now the same as for aggravated assault.

Last Friday dozens of armed New South Wales police officers raided a camp near Sydney and arrested two environmentalists. One was Aunty Caroline Kirk, an Aboriginal elder. She was charged with “wilfully obstructing and intimidating police”.

“I can’t run, I can’t climb,” she said. “All I can do … is teach my culture. Why are they doing this?”

The answer lies in the showdown of our age between greed and green.

At the heart of this is greenophobia, the fear of things green, including environmentalists. It involves the blighted idea that people should be stopped from taking action to defend the environment, especially if it gets in the way of making money.

It has infected the world of natural resource extractors and they have found the established political parties around the world extra helpful. So, in this year’s Queen’s speech, Boris Johnson announced a bill to jail peaceful UK protesters for up to 10 years. The proposal of those measures was one of the triggers that brought 400 alarmed scientists out to support environmental activists last year.

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a greenophobe who is letting the Amazon rainforest and its Indigenous cultures be destroyed. His nation has descended into environmental lawlessness in which two rainforest defenders, British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous advocate Bruno Pereira, were murdered this month. Globally, 220 environmentalists were murdered last year and thousands more were injured, terrorised or imprisoned. Most of the perpetrators have not been arrested or charged.

MMG’s lobbying helped influence the Tasmanian parliament to vote last week for harsher penalties for the defenders of the Tarkine and its giant masked owls. A clear majority of Tasmanian MPs want MMG to get its toxic waste dump in the Tarkine and Tasmania’s defenders of nature to get a cell in Risdon prison.

Tasmania’s laws match those of NSW, with penalties of up to $11,000 for peaceful environmental protest and double that, or two and a half years in jail, for a second offence. Had these laws been in place in other jurisdictions at other times, the Franklin River would be dammed, the Daintree rainforest razed and much of Kakadu national park mined.

Victoria has also introduced legislation, one aim of which is to deter scientists who have previously gone into the highlands and found forests with protected species – such as the greater glider and the state’s critically endangered faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum – being logged. That’s illegal. While the loggers faced no charges, the intention of the new laws is to stop or arrest those scientists next time.

In Newcastle last year a young man was sentenced to a year in jail for delaying a coal train. The court did not hear the assessment of the former chief scientist at Nasa who told the US Congress that, in this world of dangerous global heating, transporting coal is a criminal activity.  

Greenophobia is percolating down. On the Monday before Aunty Caroline’s arrest, 100 or so officers raided Blockade Australia’s camp for peaceful protest at Colo near Sydney after four undercover officers who failed to identify themselves “feared for their lives” – though the police had the guns and the people in the camp, including the children, had none……………………………..

Corporate PR machines, with the rightwing media ready to go, are developing greenophobia to divert attention to their business wellbeing and away from the graver threat of the collapse of Earth’s biosphere, including through global heating and species extinctions. As the NSW attorney general, Mark Speakman, put it: “What we are stopping, or criminalising even further, are protests that shut down major economic activity.” It’s money before the planet.22

The new federal environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, is now Australia’s most powerful environmentalist. She will decide if MMG should treat its toxic wastes inside or outside the Tarkine rainforest. In doing so she will also decide if Tasmania’s environmentalists will face the new draconian sentences there. Those penalties, for peaceful environmental action, are now the same as for aggravated assault or for threatening neighbours with a shotgun.

Such laws may be tested in the high court as earlier laws were, after I was among those arrested in Tasmania’s Lapoinya rainforest in 2017. The court found those laws unconstitutional because they took away the right to peaceful protest. Meanwhile the Lapoinya forest was flattened and burnt, along with its rare wildlife. No one was arrested for that… The court found those laws unconstitutional because they took away the right to peaceful protest. Meanwhile the Lapoinya forest was flattened and burnt, along with its rare wildlife. No one was arrested for that.

If MMG’s needless waste dump is given the go-ahead I, for one, will help defend that vital forest, its owls, kingfishers and Tasmanian devils. They can take us out of nature but they can’t take nature out of us.

As for the “terrifying” Aunty Caroline, I would like to meet her and thank her. She may not be able to run or climb but she is an inspiration.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jun/27/harsher-anti-protest-laws-targeting-environmentalists-are-putting-greed-before-green-bob-brown

  • Bob Brown is a former senator and leader of the Australian Greens and is patron of the Bob Brown Foundation……

June 28, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, Legal | 2 Comments

Assange’s wife sounds alarm over his treatment

Assange’s wife sounds alarm over his treatment,  https://www.rt.com/news/557738-assange-wife-treatment-extradition-us/ 27 June 22.WikiLeaks founder was subjected to ‘especially cruel’ treatment after extradition to US was approved in UK, Stella Moris has said.

Julian Assange was strip-searched and moved to a bare cell on the very day the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel approved his extradition to the US, the WikiLeaks founder’s wife, Stella Moris, told journalists on Thursday. The 50-year-old remained there for a weekend as prison guards searched his own cell, she added.

“Prison is a constant humiliation but what happened on Friday felt especially cruel,” Moris, who married Assange in March, has said, adding that the guards had told their inmate that it had all been done “for his own protection.”

According to Moris, the guards were looking for any things that could be used by a person to take their own life. In the bare cell where Assange was placed, the guards checked his status every hour until he was allowed to return to his cell on Tuesday.

The WikiLeaks founder currently remains in the maximum security Belmarsh Prison in south-eastern London, having been placed there in April 2019 as the UK was deciding on his extradition to the US. On June 17, Patel approved his transfer to US custody.

A British court had initially refused the extradition request on the grounds that Assange may otherwise kill himself, or that he’d be subjected to inhumane treatment in US detention. But Washington successfully appealed the ruling, offering the UK assurances that the Australian’s rights would be observed.

“The fact he is imprisoned while this outrageous extradition proceeds is a grave injustice in itself. He needs to deal with all that, while preparing for a complex appeal to the High Court,” Moris said. Assange still has a right to appeal the decision within 14 days of June 17.

“This kind of thing never becomes more tolerable. Any person would find it degrading. The mental strain on Julian is enormous as it is, having to process what is essentially a death sentence,” Moris said, adding that extradition to the US would “drive him to take his own life.”

It is not some “regular discussion about mental health,” she has insisted, adding that “we are talking about driving a person to take their own life.”

Moris, who has two children with Assange, has vowed to “use every available avenue” and “every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free.” John Rees, a leading member of the campaign aimed at making the authorities free Assange has also branded Patel’s ruling “illegal” and said the WikiLeaks founder’s supporters “need to redouble our efforts to stop the extradition.”

The UK Home Office said last week that the British courts “have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr. Assange,” adding that they also believed his rights would be observed.

Assange has been a target for the US since 2010, when WikiLeaks published a trove of State Department cables and Pentagon documents that depicted alleged war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has since been accused of attempting to hack Pentagon computers and is charged under America’s Espionage Act, over WikiLeaks’ publication of classified materials. If extradited to the US, he might face up to 175 years behind bars.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

If Australian Prime Minister Albanese asks for Assange’s freedom, Biden has every reason to agree: Bob Carr

The Age, 20 June 22, “…………………….. It was the Trump administration – probably at the insistence of then-CIA chief Mike Pompeo – that pursued Assange’s extradition. The Morrison government declined even the faintest whinny of protest. It was as if we were not a sovereign government but some category of US territory like Puerto Rico and an Australian passport holder didn’t rate protection from the vengeful anger of one corner of the American security apparatus. A France or Germany – a New Zealand  would not have been as craven.

Here lies Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s most potent argument as he proceeds to winkle out of the Biden administration a decision to quietly drop its pursuit of Assange, even after Britain announced on Friday that it had approved his extradition to the US. Albanese can say that, to Australian public opinion, it looks like one rule for Americans, another for citizens of its ally.

Albanese can gently remind Washington that President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. That is, he lifted her sentence for gifting to Assange the material that he published on Wikileaks in 2010. This was the collateral murder video that showed soldiers in a US Apache helicopter mowing down civilians with their automatic weapons in Iraq in 2007. The video exposed America’s lack of rules of engagement but, more than that, tore away the justification for the neocon high adventure of the Iraq war.

Manning, the American who slipped the material to Assange, goes free while the Australian who published it faces extradition, trial in Virginia and the rest of his life in cruel confinement in a high-security prison, likely on the plains of Oklahoma.

Albanese doesn’t have to state – because the Americans know it – that we are a darn good partner. A request on Assange is small change in such an alliance relationship. We host vital US communication facilities that likely make Australia a nuclear target. We host ship visits, planes and marines, about which the same baleful point could be made. And, as the capstone, we are spending about $150 billion purchasing US nuclear submarines……………..

In the context of Australia’s role as an ally – the heft we deliver for the US empire – a decision to let Assange walk free rates about five minutes of President Biden’s Oval Office attention. ………………….

The military in the US and Australia have had to admit no lives were lost because of Assange. But we wouldn’t have heard of serious war crimes in a counterproductive war were it not for the haggard prisoner in Belmarsh.

Our new prime minister can say: “We’re not fans of the guy either, Mr President, but it’s gone on long enough. We’re good allies. Let this one drop.“

And if Albanese asks, my guess is America will agree.  https://www.theage.com.au/national/if-albanese-asks-for-assange-s-freedom-biden-has-every-reason-to-agree-bob-carr-20220619-p5autd.html

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Can Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese save Julian Assange?

New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese,  has said he couldn’t see any purpose in keeping Assange in gaol, stating “enough is enough”. In the first week of the Albanese Government, the ABC reported: ‘Mr Albanese is also a signatory to the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition.’

Questioned by The Guardian – Albanese replied that it was his position that “not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer”.

So – we are now getting used to an Australian Prime Minister who values thinking and diplomacy rather than bull-dozing and bullying tactics . So there’s hope.

On the other hand, there’s the determination of the U.S.military-industrial-complex, which rules U.S. politics – to punish Julian Assange for exposing U.S. military’s war crimes. And the subservience of the U.K. to USA, now vested in just oned person, Home Secretary Priti Patel, who shows no sign of having the integrity to stand up for justice.

It is ironic that everyone is now (rightly) jumping up and down about Russian military atrocities, and praising reporters who reveal these – but it seems it’s OK to persecute Assange for revealing U.S. military atrocities?

June 16, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Christina's notes, civil liberties, media, politics international | 1 Comment

Julian Assange and family suffer as unjust detention continues

Independent Australia By Binoy Kampmark | 16 June 2022,

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian………………………..

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian…………………..

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian……………………………….

Soft, a voice of reed and bird song, Shipton urged activists and citizens to join the fray, to save his son, to battle for a cause imperishably golden and pure. From this summit, power would be held accountable, institutions would function with sublime transparency, and citizens could be assured that their privacy would be protected. 

In the documentary Ithaka, directed by Ben Lawrence, we see Shipton, Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, the two children, the cat and glimpses of brother Gabriel, all pointing to the common cause that rises to the summit of purpose. The central figure, who only ever manifests in spectral form – on-screen via phone or fleeting footage – is one of moral reminder, the purpose that supplies blood for all these figures. 

Assange is being held at Belmarsh, Britain’s most secure and infamous of prisons, denied bail and being crushed by judicial procedure.  But in these supporters, he has some vestigial reminders of a life outside.

The film’s promotion site describes the subject as ‘the world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’ a figure who has ‘become an emblem of an international arm wrestle over freedom of journalism, government corruption and unpunished war crimes’. ………..

 suffer he shall, if the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel decides to agree to the wishes of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). 

The DOJ insists that their man face 17 charges framed, disgracefully and archaically, from a U.S. law passed during World War I and inimical to free press protections. The Espionage Act of 1917 has become the crutch and support for prosecutors who see, in Assange, less a journalist than an opportunistic hacker who outed informants and betrayed confidences. ……………………..

Through the film, the exhausting sense of media, that estate ever-present but not always listening, comes through. This point is significant enough; the media – at least in terms of the traditional fourth estate – put huge stock in the release of material from WikiLeaks in 2010, hailing the effort and praising the man behind it. 

But relations soured, and tabloid nastiness set in. The Left found tell-all information and tales of Hillary Clinton too much to handle while the Right, having initially revelled in the revelations of WikiLeaks in 2016, took to demonising the herald. Perversely, in the United States, accord was reached across a good number of political denizens: Assange had to go, and to go, he had to be prosecuted in the United Kingdom and extradited to the United States.

The documentary covers the usual highlights without overly pressing the viewer.  A decent run-up is given to the Ecuadorian stint lasting seven years, with Assange’s bundling out, and the Old Bailey proceedings covering extradition. But Shipton and Moris are the ones who provide the balancing acts in this mission to aid the man they both love……….

The film has faced, as with its subject, the usual problems of distribution and discussion. When Assange is mentioned, the dull-minded exit for fear of reputation, and the hysterical pronounce and pounce. 

In Gabriel Shipton’s words

“All of the negative propaganda and character assassination is so pervasive that many people in the sector and the traditional distribution outlets don’t want to be seen as engaging in advocacy for Julian.”

Where Assange goes, the power monopolies recoil. Distribution and the review of a documentary such as Ithaka is bound to face problems in the face of such a compromised, potted media terrain. Assange is a reminder of the plague in the patient of democracy, a pox on the body politic. ……….. https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/julian-assange-and-family-suffer-as-unjust-detention-continues,16470#.YqqqxM6TP0M.twitter

June 16, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, media, UK | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s wife Stella Moris reveals how they raise children together while he is in jail waiting an extradition decision

In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers. And despite many applications since January 21, he has not been allowed to attend his own court hearings in person.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-08/stella-moris-my-life-with-julian-assange-extradition/101132624, My Australian husband Julian Assange is fighting for his life from within the confines of a three-by-two-metre cell in Britain’s harshest prison, Belmarsh.

The US has accused him of espionage as a result of his work with WikiLeaks in 2010-2011 and wants to extradite him to face court.

If his extradition goes ahead, Julian faces a maximum 175-year prison sentence. As his wife, I fear he will be buried in the deepest, darkest corner of the US prison system until he dies.

During another extradition hearing last year a UK magistrate blocked Julian’s transfer to the US over fears of “oppressive” conditions that could drive him to take his life.

On July 3, Julian turns 51. It will be the fourth year he has spent his birthday alone in a cell, without conviction.

Is our time together running out?

When Julian is taken from his cell to the prison yard he tilts his head up so his eyes can focus on the distance. If he narrows his eyes, the double razor wire above becomes a blur. Beyond is the open sky.

Julian recently discovered a family of nesting magpies. He spotted their home subversively nestled between the razor wire. I think our family is like those magpies.

When we are together, we are always a few metres from their nest. Our children — Gabriel, who is five, and Max, three — only have memories of their father within the brutal surroundings of Belmarsh prison.

We don’t know how long our children have left with their father. We don’t know if we can visit him or even talk to him on the phone. If the extradition goes ahead, US authorities retain the right to put Julian in conditions so cruel that no one in his position is likely to survive.

It is impossible for Julian and me to escape a feeling that he is on death row. Our weekly visits may be the only time we have left together. But for how much longer? A few months more, a few weeks, a few days and then only a few hours? I fear in the end we will count the minutes and the seconds.

Guards search inside my children’s mouths

Were it not for our children, this approaching catastrophe would be all-consuming. But Julian and I know these may be the only memories that our children will have of their father. We make our visits as joyous as possible.

I don’t need to explain to Gabriel and Max the reality of this place where we go to visit their father. They live it. The children walk under razor wire and past layers and layers of security to reach their daddy.

Guards search inside their mouths, behind their ears and under their feet. The prison dogs sniff them head to toe, front and back.

Last week, Gabriel slipped some daisies he had picked by the prison walls into his pocket to give to his father. After he passed through the metal detector his daisies were confiscated during the pat-down search by one of the guards, albeit reluctantly.

During visits, our family is allowed to embrace at the beginning and end. We can hold each others’ hands across the table. Julian and I are not allowed to kiss. But Julian would rather kiss his wife and be penalised than have that taken away from him too. So, we kiss.

Precious moments for life lessons

The children love visiting their daddy. Julian reads them stories. Gabriel shares his father’s fascination with numbers. Julian teaches them nifty tricks: the best way to peel an orange, how to open chips without losing any of the contents.

These things may sound small to most people, but they are our precious moments together. A canteen selling chips and oranges and the prison’s collection of children’s books are all that is on offer in the visitor’s hall we share with 30-or-so prisoners and their families once or twice a week.

On March 23, we were married in Belmarsh. The prison – normally filled with tragedy and isolation – was turned on its head for a few hours to celebrate our love and commitment. Our nest in the razor wire.

The last time the media photographed Julian was in 2019, through the scratched windows of a prison van.  The UK Authorities insist that our wedding photos not be made public ‘on security grounds’. In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers. And despite many applications since January 21, he has not been allowed to attend his own court hearings in person.

June 14, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment