Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange’

Hackers seek revenge for unprosecuted rape

The other day, I watched an excellent movie about the young julian Assange, called “Underground”.

It was fascinating, and contained some excellent performances: from Rachel Griffiths, especially, as his campaigning, “alternative” mother, fleeing from the cult known as The Family, and Laura Wheelwright as his girlfriend and young mother of Assange’s child.

It essentially covered what motivated Assange to take the life course he did, and I believe most people viewing it would be much less antagonistic to him today than they otherwise might be. The genesis of what later became Wikileaks is clear to see.

Anyway, that’s by the by. What the movie does show clearly is that hackers are not only motivated by a sense of mischief – which is undoubtedly true – but also, often, by holding strong moral positions.

Now, a group of vigilante hackers has promised retribution after the alleged rape of a high school cheerleader went unprosecuted in a rural American town.

Anonymous activists often appear in public wearing Guy Fawkes masks

Anonymous activists often appear in public wearing Guy Fawkes masks

Time US reports that Anonymous, an international band of internet activists, is targeting the Missouri town of Maryville after the Kansas City Star published a story about a possible rape case that went un-prosecuted by local authorities.

Known for successful hacks of powerful organisations such as the Church of Scientology, PayPal and even the government of Brazil, an Anonymous synthesized voice recording warned Maryville Mayor Jim Fall and other officials to “expect us”.

“If Maryville won’t defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them,” the statement says.

The Kansas City Star reports that in the early hours of January 8, 14-year-old Daisy Coleman and a 13-year-old friend climbed from a bedroom window to join their 17-year-old “friend” at his house.

At the time, the 17-year-old was a Maryville High School football star and Daisy was a freshman cheerleader.

The boy, also the grandson of a former state Republican, later admitted to police that he knew the girl was drinking at his house and that he had sex with her while she was drunk, according to the Kansas City Star. The encounter was allegedly recorded on a friend’s iPhone.

Other witnesses told police the 17-year-old loaded the girl, in tears, into his car and shockingly left her unconscious on her front porch in freezing temperatures. When Daisy’s mother found her the following morning her hair was frozen.

Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White told the Star that he “absolutely” expected the case to end up in court.

“Within four hours, we had obtained a search warrant for the house and executed that. We had all of the suspects in custody and had audio/video confessions.”

Instead – and surely the public should know why – the charges were dropped, and much of the town turned on the Coleman family.

Daisy’s mother Melinda was fired from her job, and – after the Colemans left town – their house burned down under suspicious circumstances.

We haven’t heard the last of this story. Nor should we.

The young girl at the centre of the case has been the subject of a cruel whispering and insults campaign online, and has apparently attempted suicide twice. Further background to this appalling story can be read here:

If you wish to Tweet your feelings about this case, the hashtag to use is #justicefordaisy.

(Daisy’s mother gave the Kansas City Star permission to name her daughter. From The West Australian and others.)

UPDATE

A Special Prosecutor has now been appointed to consider the case. Stay tuned for further information as it comes to hand. And a rally has taken place in the town to stress support for Daisy. Over 200 people, dressed in local indentifying clothing and carrying daisies, came together to change the nature of the local debate.

Support for Daisy swells

Support for Daisy swells locally

#justicefordaisy

#justicefordaisy

The role of Anonymous in bringing this case to light is entirely noble and to be applauded.

The role of Anonymous in bringing this case to light is entirely noble and to be applauded.

 

Meanwhile, you can read Daisy’s own harrowing version of events here. http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/daisy-coleman-maryville-rape

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning

If you want to know what it must be like to be trapped in a legal system which shows no sign of wanting you to have a fair trial, and every sign of being determined to punish you for your offensiveness to the state, you might look at the case of Pussy Riot in Russia, a group of young female musicians locked up in the harshest possible conditions for daring to sing a song for two minutes.

Or you could imagine you were a young American soldier, horrified by what you were reading in secret transcripts, who wanted his country to return to the principles on which it was founded, and who decided to leak the contents of those transcripts so the world could see what was happening, and make a judgement.

Not the great and good of the world, but people just like you and me.

Indeed, one has to ask, if Bradley Manning is charged with “aiding the enemy” for sharing government lies and secrets with us, then are we the enemy?

At every turn the United States Government, presumably with the full cognisance and approval of the so-called Democratic president, Barack Obama, has treated Bradley Manning with mental cruelty beyond belief – including for a time keeping him locked in a small windowless solitary confinement cell for no good reason – which led to a paltry reduction in any future terms of imprisonment – and has steadfastly refused to allow him to make the defence he wishes to make.

Just so that is clear, in some Kafkaesque world of their own making, the military and civil authorities in the USA are telling this man how to, and how not to, defend himself against the charges laid against him.

Bradley Manning served his country. Now his country wants to lock him up and throw away the key - or worse.

Bradley Manning served his country. Now his country wants to lock him up and throw away the key – or worse.

Now the military judge in his case has ruled that Manning will not be allowed to present evidence about his motives for the leak – a key plank of his defence. Colonel Denise Lind ruled that general issues of motive were not relevant to the trial stage of the court martial.

This must be the first time in legal history that motive could not be considered germane to the question of guilt.

By denying Manning the chance to make a whistleblower defence in his upcoming court martial in which he faces possible
life in military custody with no chance of parole his situation will be rendered much weaker. Manning’s lead defence
lawyer, David Coombs, had argued that his motive was key to proving that he had no intention to harm US interests
or to pass information to the enemy.

It should also be noted that neither the US government (nor anyone else) has ever claimed that the information released by
Manning has caused any harm to a single individual, such as soldier, spy, or government official.

Unsurprisingly, given the way this is going, the judge also blocked the defence from presenting evidence designed to
show that WikiLeaks caused little or no damage to US national security. Coombs has devoted considerable time and
energy trying to extract from US government agencies their official assessments of the impact of WikiLeaks around the
world, only to find that he is now prevented from using any of the information he has obtained.

The general issue of motive must be held back until Manning either entered a plea or was found guilty, at which
point it could be used in mitigation to lessen the sentence. The ruling is a blow to the defence as it will make it harder
for the soldier’s legal team to argue he was acting as a principled whistleblower and not as someone who knowingly
damaged US interests at a time of war.

“This is another effort to attack the whistleblower defence,” said Nathan Fuller, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning
Support Network, after the hearing.

The 25-year-old intelligence analyst faces 22 charges relating to the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified
diplomatic cables, war logs from the Afghan and Iraq wars, and videos of US military actions. The most serious
charge, “aiding the enemy”, which carries the life sentence, accuses him of arranging for state secrets to be published
via WikiLeaks on the internet knowing that al-Qaida would have access to it.

The US government is expected at trial to present evidence that allegedly shows that Osama bin Laden personally
requested to see some of the WikiLeaks publications attributed to Manning and that documents were found on his
computer following the US navy Seals raid that killed him.

In a limited victory for the defence, Coombs and the defence team will be allowed to talk about the soldier’s motives
on two narrow counts: where it can be used to show that he did not know that his leaks would be seen by al-Qaida;
and as evidence that he consciously selected certain documents or types of documents in order to ensure they
would not harm the US or benefit any foreign nation.

Lind’s ruling means that some of the most impassioned statements by Manning about why he embarked on the
massive transfer of information to WikiLeaks will now not be heard at trial. In the course of a now famous web chat
he had with the hacker-turned-informer Adrian Lamo, Manning wrote : “information should be free / it belongs in
the public domain / because another state would just take advantage of the information … try and get some edge /
if its out in the open … it should be a public good.”

Public pressure is the key to determining whether this man gets anything remotely resembling a fair trial. Many,
including this writer, consider him a hero for wanting the public to know what was being done and said in their
name, including when their Governments were openly lying to them.

You can read more about the case, and get involved in the fight for justice for Bradley Manning, as many of
your fellow concerned citizens such as veterans, journalists, Nobel Peace Prize winners, and legal experts
worldwide already have, at http://www.bradleymanning.org/

Facebookers will also find this page interesting https://www.facebook.com/savebradley?ref=ts&fref=ts and
you can also visit a remarkable outpouring of popular outrage and at your own photograph at
http://iam.bradleymanning.org/

Expect to hear much more from Wellthisiswhatithink on this vital public interest case as the trial continues …

Are you?

Are you?

assange-wanted-poster_53We were rather circumspect in reporting late last night that Julian Assange had been arrested while visiting a medical specialist, and indeed, now, rumours that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London are “false,” the whistleblower website said on Saturday UK time.

Indymedia UK had reported that Assange, the 41-year-old Australian who sparked a diplomatic row when he was granted asylum by Ecuador, was arrested while secretly visiting a medical clinic five minutes from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

“Sources close to this reporter have confirmed that Wikileaks founder and international fugitive Julian Assange has been arrested by Scotland Yard detectives at a private medical clinic located just a five minute drive from the Ecuadorean Embassy,” Conal Urquhart wrote in an article posted on Friday.

But Wikileaks vehemently denied the story, tweeting that “Reports of Julian #Assange arrest are false and derive from a fabricated story.”

“Such media smears are common,” Wikileaks tweeted. “Reader beware.”

Indymedia UK has since ‘hidden’ the spurious article about Assange’s arrest, citing a breach of editorial guidelines. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since last June.

He entered the embassy in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on charges of sexual assault.

The charges reportedly stem from Assange having unprotected consensual sex with two Swedish women, which can be considered a crime in the Nordic country under certain circumstances.

Assange has refused to go, asserting that Sweden’s record of sending persons wanted by the USA to America for detention or trial meant he would be laying himself open to “rendition” against his will, possibly to face execution, and has offered to meet Swedish prosecutors in London where he believes his deportation to the USA is less likely.

Assange rose to international prominence after Wikileaks began leaking and publishing hundreds of thousands of classified US military and diplomatic cables, many of them detailing atrocities committed by US troops and local authorities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange has been hailed as a champion of free speech and transparency by progressives around the word, and even by some libertarians like US congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul. He was voted Australian Journalist of the Year in 2011 by his peers in the prestigious Walkley Awards, and Wikileaks has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

But he has also been vilified by reactionary forces, especially conservative American politicians, some of whom have called Wikileaks a “terrorist organization”. Former Arkansas governor, presidential candidate and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee has gone so far as to call for Assange’s execution.

At Wellthisiswhatithink we have a long and honourable tradition of supporting a free press.

Mother Jones has done the world a huge service with the Romney hidden video.

Julian Assange and Wikileaks have opened a window into the hidden, murky depths of world politics.

Today, we defy the naysayers, and publish two new topless photographs of Catherine Middleton, aka Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

We may be criticised for this. We may be told we are being irresponsible.

But we believe in a higher purpose. We believe the public has a right to know.

Yes, of course, there are serious matters to be considered. World hunger. Nuclear weapons. The Middle East. Wars and rumours of wars. But a chance to see a celebrity’s tits surely trumps those. Do people not deserve a little light relief? A glimpse of a better life?

So here, without fear or favour, are the photographs.

kate middleton topless

Guys, seriously. Get … a … life.

PS I am reliably informed by an old mate that to commemorate the release of our topless photos of Kate Middleton, Royal Doulton will be releasing a Collector’s Edition of two small jugs. *Titter* would seem an appropriate response.

Of all the nonsense isms in the world, taking the mickey out of redheads would seem to be to be the least harmful. As opposed to real bullying about looks, which is not what I am talking about, the non-PC  jokes and mock horror at “gingers” really does strike me as quite funny because it is so bizarre.

After all, it’s pretty obvious that some redheads are patently drop dead cute and gorgeous. Exhibit A: Nicole Kidman in Dead Calm, anyone?

Nicole Kidman

Er, yup. That works.

It spawns some wonderfully wicked jokes. “The most unwelcome gift in the world? A ginger step-kid.”

redhead child

I ask you, should this really be allowed?

Well, now they have their own festival in Holland. Oh, those crazy wacky Dutch … it had to be in Holland, right? Find out more here: it’s fun …

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19461177

Good on ‘em, says Wellthisiswhatithink. Hope they had a blast.

I am Spartacus.  I am Che Guevara. I am Julian Assange. I am a redhead.

No, hang on, scrub the last one please. That’s a step too far.

The sort of nonsense that now passes for politics in America – the polarisation of civil debate in the USA is getting really quite frightening.

I reproduce this article from PoliticsUSA almost without further comment, (I can’t resist one aside further down) except to ask one simple question.

When you see the efforts to secure a conviction against Bradley Manning, and the extradition of Julian Assange, how come the Government in the States never does anything about these idiots? And how come Romney and the GOP leadership don’t condemn it?

But this is my main confusion. How is this not Treason?

The author of the Declaration of Independence is often quoted by opposing groups to support their own agenda, but there are few who accurately apply some of his oft-repeated statements. During the healthcare reform debate, angry teabaggers cited Jefferson’s line that “a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing,” as proof that revolution against government tyranny was advocated by a Founding Father as an option in 2009, and that sentiment has not diminished three years later heading into a general election.

The groups claiming President Obama is a tyrannical leader have never given one example of tyranny, but they, with the GOP’s assistance, have whipped themselves into frenzy and openly called for armed insurrection against the United States government.  One may be inclined to excuse talk of rebellion as angry rhetoric from a fringe element in the tea party, but a Virginia Republican Committee newsletter* has called for armed revolution if President Obama is re-elected in November.

Thomas Jefferson

Dear old ThomJeff must be turning in his grave.

First, it is important to put Jefferson’s statement that “a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing” in its proper context.  Jefferson was showing support for the French who were rebelling against the wealthy elite and church that was keeping the population poor and hungry. In fact, Jefferson hated the wealthy and their banks, and in the same letter to Edward Carrington wrote that “man is the only animal which devours his own kind, and I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”

 In the Virginia Republican Committee newsletter*, there is nothing to imply that protecting Americans from the “prey of the rich on the poor” is the reason for calling for armed rebellion. According to the newsletter*, President Obama, is a “political socialist ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized,” and that the only option is “armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November:” If one is confused as to what Republicans consider is a “political socialist ideologue,”  the newsletter claims President Obama “shuns biblical praise, handicaps economic ability, disrespects the honor of earned military might,” and that under Obama, “the government is out of control, and this opportunity, must not be forsaken for we shall not have any coarse (sic) but armed revolution.

Republicans calling for armed insurrection against the government is nothing new, and few are apt to forget congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) sayingI want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back,” and went on to specifically cite Jefferson’s quote from 1787.  Bachmann continued that, “we the people are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country,” and encouraged Americans “to do everything we can to thwart the Democrats at every turn,” and apparently that included armed rebellion.

Another Republican, Sharon Angle, said in a radio interview that it may come to the point that the public would bring down an out-of-control Congress with “Second Amendment remedies.” Angle repeated her warning when she called for “Second Amendment remedies” to deal with the “ever-growing tyrannical U.S. government,” and to replace her election opponent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Conservative entertainers have spent no small amount of energy demonizing President Obama over the past three years and although their rants may be just publicity stunts, all it takes are a few crazy people with guns to take their tirades to heart and begin shooting. On Friday, country musician Hank Williams Jr. waited until the end of his show to impugn the President for being “a Muslim who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!” Williams incited the audience to cheer his invective not unlike washed-up rocker Ted Nugent who earned a visit from the Secret Service earlier this year for saying, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year” insinuating he will take matters into his own hands with gun play if the President wins re-election. At a 2008 concert, Nugent said while holding a gun in each hand, “Hey, Obama, you might wanna suck on one of these, you punk” and extended the threat to now-Secretary of State Clinton saying,  ”Hillary, you might wanna ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”

Throughout all of the violent rhetoric, there has not been any condemnation by leading Republicans, and after the Virginia Republican Committee newsletter, it is easy to see why. Apparently, they are serious about armed rebellion against the United States government with an African American man as President.

In fact, leading Republicans have been complicit in stirring up resentment against President Obama by accusing him of promoting “European-style socialism” and not being an American. Willard Romney and his campaign have used the “not an American” meme to portray the President as “not one of us” and “foreign to American principles.

All of the threats of armed revolution have as their basis one simple fact; the President is not a white man.

Republicans cannot condemn the President’s record of saving the economy, or creating over 4-million jobs despite Republican’s obstruction, or accuse him of being weak on defense, so they portray him as a foreigner who supplanted a “white man” who should be in the White House.

(Romney’s recent deliberate comment that Obama doesn’t quite “get” the special relationship with Britain – because, of course, by implication, he’s a black man – falls into this category in the opinion of Wellthisiswhatithink.)

The truth is that it does not matter which white man should be president, it just cannot be an African American, and if voters elect President Obama to a second term, they are seriously considering an armed rebellion.

Every Republican who has failed to condemn talk of armed revolution is just as guilty as those calling for “second amendment remedies” or imploring their constituents to be “armed and dangerous.” It is likely that Republican leaders are not serious about a civil war or revolution, but their approval is evident in their silence.

The Virginia Republican Committee newsletter* was published in March, and the media or Republican leadership have been silent, and regardless if they support the overthrow of the government if the President wins a second term or not, they are guilty of inciting rebellion by allowing their candidates, spokespersons, and members of Congress to openly call for armed rebellion against the government of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson did, indeed, say that revolution is sometimes necessary, but only against wealthy bankers “who prey on the poor” and religious leaders who have the full support of every Republican in the United States.

If the people were intelligent enough to actually read why Jefferson said rebellion is necessary, they would rise up and send the GOP to the only place they would be secure; counting their dirty money in their offshore tax havens.

*CORRECTION

I thank a correspondent – see comments – who has pointed out that although this story is near the truth it is not entirely accurate. The implication in the original PoliticsUSA story is arguably that it was the Virginia State GOP Committee newsletter that made the remarks. But that is clearly fallacious. The correct story is apparently as follows below.

I do not believe, however, that the correction changes the essential thrust of my article, which is that the polarisation of American politics, and I would say from my observation that this is especially true on the right, although by no means limited to it, is reaching frightening levels. However the story clearly requires the following caveat:

Greene County, Va., Republicans denounced a comment in their newsletter promoting “armed revolution” if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

The Greene County Republican Committee newsletter for March featured an editorial written by Ponch McPhee calling the November election a challenge to “remove an ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed.”

“We shall not have any coarse (sic) but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November,” McPhee wrote. “This Republic cannot survive for 4 more years underneath this political socialist ideologue.”

GCRC Chairman Gary E. Lowe says McPhee is no longer the editor of the newsletter, WJLA-TV, Washington, reported Thursday.

In a statement posted on the committee”s Web site, Lowe said the committee “denounces such language and does not subscribe to that thinking.” He said McPhee”s editorial had been written “before a change in the Greene County Republican Committee leadership.”

Lowe noted the newsletter carried a disclaimer that its content “does not reflect the opinion of the Republican Party whole or in part, all contents offered are individual” and said the editorial comment is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“While we believe this election is critical to the direction of the future of this great nation, we do not believe that if the results end up with the re-election of Barack Obama, that will necessitate what the author suggests,” Lowe wrote.

British police officers stand guard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London after Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced that he had granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (Sang Tan/Associated Press)


The Australian Government insist that any arrangements that its embassy in Washington is making for an extradition of Julian Assange from Sweden to the USA is merely standard procedure and they have not received any information from the US that they intend to do so. This surely strains the Government’s credibility. It is known, for example, that a sealed Grand Jury indictment of Assange exists.

Whatever the truth, does anyone really believe that Australia’s Labor Government is doing anything much to help Wikileaks founder Julian Assange? When one sees stories like this, it would be easy for an unbiased observer to assume that beyond mouthing meaningless platitudes it is already decided by “the powers that be” that this courageous journalist (Journalist of the Year in Australia in 2011) should be sent to the USA for trial in a military court which will either jail him for an inordinate length of time or execute him.

Whatever is really going on, with this newspaper report it is now imperitive that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr come clean about whether they have been advised – ever, or whether any other Minister OR official has been advised – that the USA DOES wish to extradite him from Sweden, should he go there.

(Via AFP)

Australian diplomats do believe Washington is targeting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for possible prosecution, according to documents obtained by a leading Australian newspaper.

The Australian embassy in Washington is taking seriously the possibility that Assange will eventually be extradited to the United States on charges including espionage and conspiracy relating to a huge leak of classified information on the WikiLeaks website, according to The Age newspaper.

A raft of diplomatic cables, released under freedom of information laws and obtained by the newspaper, show Australia has been keeping tabs on Washington’s interest in Assange and has no objection to the potential extradition, the newspaper said.

Despite Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s insistence that the US is not pushing for Assange to be pursued over the leaks, the documents show he and Prime Minister Julia Gillard have been briefed on the issue, The Age reported.

The newspaper also said the cables showed that the Australian government requested early advice from the US on any decision to indict or seek Assange’s extradition.

Assange, an Australian national, has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since June in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over sex assault claims.

He fears Stockholm will then turn him over to the US to face charges over his whistleblowing website.

On Thursday, after Ecuador granted Assange political asylum, Australia said there was little it could do for him, as Britain suggested it was considering a raid on the embassy in order to make an arrest.

Assange has repeatedly criticised Canberra’s handling of his case, but Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said while she was taking “an absolute interest” in his plight, there were limits to what she could do.

His mother Christine said Thursday that she was furious that British police may be sent in to seize her son, claiming they would be acting on behalf of Washington.

Australian Journalist of the Year 2011. In my CONSIDERED opinion, this man is the greatest force for political good in fifty years. I also believe the USA wants to execute him.

Ecuador says it wants to grant asylum to Julian Assange, but the British government has refused to guarantee safe passage for the WikiLeaks founder.

Mr Assange has been holed up in the embassy for weeks as Ecuadorian officials assess his asylum application.

The WikiLeaks founder fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London weeks ago after exhausting all avenues of appeal in his fight against extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges.

British authorities have reportedly threatened to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in London if Mr Assange is granted asylum.

In a press conference this morning, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the country wanted to grant asylum, but could not do so until his safety was guaranteed.

“Today we’ve received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange,” he said.

Assange’s mother Christine said she was furious that British police may be sent in to seize him, and claimed they would be acting on behalf of Washington.

“What the US wants, the US gets from its allies, regardless of if it’s legal or if it’s ethical or in breach of human or legal rights,” she told reporters in Australia.

“We’re all lackeys.”

But Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said this morning the matter is out of her hands.

“Our role in this is only a diplomatic one, to make sure Assange has support that he needs for consular issues. It’s not something we have any legal role that we can play,” she told Sunrise.

Mr Assange and his supporters fear that extradition to Sweden will be the first step in a process to get him to the United States to face unknown charges related to the WikiLeaks website, where a sealed indictment is waiting.

Reports are now coming out of London that police are surrounding the Embassy, and the British Government claim the right to enter it and take Assange by force.

Wellthisiswhatithink says: The great un-answered question in this situation is why the Swedish police insist on extraditing Assange “in order to question him”.

If their interest was genuinely to question him, given his unique circumstances – having deeply politically discomforted the governments of the world, especially the most powerful Government in the world – then what is to stop them questioning him in London?

Assange has repeatedly said he would be happy to submit to questioning in the UK, which is subject to the European Court of Human Rights (Sweden is not) and in any event is MUCH less likely to extradite him to the USA than Sweden, with its higher levels of public scrutiny, and much greater resistance to extradition generally.

The insistence on extradition to Sweden (to face questioning over behaviour which, at least in part, would not constitute a crime in most jurisdictions) must therefore be about something else.

Clearly, Blind Freddie could see that what it is about is getting Assange to America, in order to jail him for life, or worse. The charade of a trial for Bradley Manning currently taking place would hardly enourage anyone to believe he would get anythign resembling a fair trial in the USA.

Susan Bysiewicz admits her ad is lying, yet thinks it’s close enough to be OK to still run it. What … what?

So, as Scully Communications have pointed out, the campaign for wannabee Democrat Senate candidate Susan Bysiewicz (who is trying to replace Senator Joe Liebermann who is retiring, and is contesting with another Democrat contender Chris Murphy) is running an attack TV ad that is demonstrably false, and her campaign team have admitted it.

Apparently the idiots confused the candidate they were attacking with another person of the same name. Yet they are not taking the ad down!

As Scully explains in a story headlined “New Low in Political Advertising”:

“US Senate candidate Susan Bysiewicz should immediately take down her untruthful attack ad against Democratic rival Chris Murphy, apologize, and find another way to throw a Hail Mary pass in her flagging campaign.

However, the very fact that there is a general lack of outrage about the ad (except in the Murphy camp) speaks volumes about the depths to which political advertising has sunk.

A quick refresher: Bysiewicz, who at this point needs the stars to align perfectly (or maybe have one crash to earth right on him) to beat Murphy, went up with a TV ad portraying Murphy as something of a Wall Street Waterboy.

Here it is:

The problem is that the main claim in the ad, “He’s taken more hedge fund money than any other Democrat in Congress” is patently and verifiably false.

The SuBy campaign apparently targeted the wrong Murphy. They were called on it, admitted the charge was false but said the ad would still run. Is this what it’s come to? A campaign admits it’s running a false ad yet won’t take it down? Pathetic. Murphy asked the TV stations running the ad to pull it under these unique circumstances. Apparently, they can’t (which is an entirely different problem).

This past weekend, Bysiewicz defended continuing the ad with yet another false claim as pointed out by CTMirror.org’s Mark Pazniokas. What in the name of Joseph Pulitzer is going on here? Bysiewicz is clearly counting on the fact that many voters are busy with summer camps, vacations and other activities and may not be paying attention to this very important Democratic US Senate primary race. They see the ad, don’t know it’s false and hold it against Murphy because everyone seems to hate Wall Street these days. Then again, that may be her only shot to win.

If Bysiewicz wants to portray Murphy as some kind of flunky for the Rich Uncle Pennybags of the world, have at it! But I don’t we should tolerate using false data to back it up. The very-much -missed former candidate Lee Whitnum called Murphy “a whore” during a televised debate. Ok, but she didn’t then contend that Murphy was arrested in Berlin Turnpike motel taking $20 for giving a filibuster.

The guess here is that this whole thing backfires on Bysiewicz. It only adds to her reputation for scorched-earth campaigning, even against fellow Democrats. It dates back to 1998 when she faced fellow Democrat Ellen Scalettar in a primary for secretary of state. She won but only a series of TV ads that distorted Scalettar’s views and record. To this day, there are hard feelings about that one among Democrats.

Murphy is running a near-flawless campaign, has plenty of money and even turned this whole disgraceful episode into a fundraising vehicle of his own. Bysiewicz is not going to beat him even with an admittedly false ad running.”

Just how serious is this? Pretty damn serious, in my humble opinion.

I congratulate Mr Scully and others on bringing this travesty to light to a wider audience. But the bit that really fascinates me is the fact the Federal Law prevents TV stations from removing the ad even when they know it contains a lie.

This is surely nuts, and is even a bigger scandal, I propose, than Ms . Bysiewicz’s shameless mendacity.

Only in America, right? Sadly, no.

We have a similar situation in Australia where the only advertising that legally does not have to be truthful is political advertising. (Labor and the conservative Liberal-National Coalition combined to defeat a move by the now-vanished Australian Democrats to legislate this anomaly away some years ago.)

No wonder “ordinary people” despairingly think all politicians are liars, when the law specifically protects their right to be so.

Sadly, this is just one more nail in the coffin of participatory Western-style democracy.

When people no longer have enough confidence to participate in the political process, no matter how minimally, then we are in great danger of slipping into a very different society: one run not by elected representatives, but a sham democracy, which is really controlled by vested interests, crony politicians, and powerful businesses. In short order, any real opposition will be silenced, first through ridicule, (aided and abetted by a compliant media) then by legal entanglements, (step forward, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning) including not being allowed to present a coherent defence as happened to Manning recently, and if that doesn’t work, by simply physical persecution and murder.

“I love a good soak.”

Indeed, we may be there already, or very close to it.

Further chaos in the world’s economy will hasten the decline. The West is suffering, as I have said, from boiling frog syndrome. The cuts to our freedoms are continual, incremental, but often so small in and of themselves that no one notices. So we sit in the warm water, satiated by bread and circuses, not noticing that everything is changing, fatally.

This is surely an area where many on the left, and the libertarian Right, should bury at least some of their differences and fight back.

We have plenty of time to debate the appropriate role of government and taxation down the track, when and if we re-take control of the levers of power from the hands of those who don’t actually think that truth – simple, verifiable truth – should be the first principle of any democratic society.

Julian Assange, from Wikileaks, at the SKUP co...

The British Supreme Court has apparently released its judgement on Julian Assange‘s appeal against extradition to Sweden for questioning over alleged sex offences. It is reported by the BBC (as at 6.33pm AEST) that Mr Assange lost his appeal against extradition.

The Wikileaks founder denied the claims and said his European arrest warrant is “invalid and unenforceable”.

In February, his lawyers told the Supreme Court judges that the Swedish prosecutor who had issued the warrant did not have the authority to do so.

The 40-year-old Australian has been on conditional bail in the UK.

Mr Assange is accused of raping one woman and “sexually molesting and coercing” another in Stockholm in August 2010 but he claims that the allegations against him are politically motivated.

Mr Assange’s Wikileaks website published material from leaked diplomatic cables embarrassing several governments.

The key legal question for the seven judges is whether the prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant had the judicial authority to do so under provisions of the 2003 Extradition Act.

Further appeal?

At the February court hearing, Mr Assange’s lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, argued that the Swedish prosecutor who had issued his warrant was a party in his case and was not therefore impartial or independent.

She also challenged whether a public prosecutor could be considered a “judicial authority” as required by the act.

Clare Montgomery QC, for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, argued that the High Court was plainly correct to accept that the term “judicial authority” had a wide meaning.

She said when the EAW framework had been set up, the drafters had intended it to include the prosecutors of many countries.

This “broader approach” recognised the “historic role” of public prosecutors within EU member states in authorising arrests and making extradition requests, she said.

If Mr Assange loses his Supreme Court appeal he could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

If that court then decided to hear his challenge, Mr Assange could lodge an injunction to have the extradition process put on hold.

But the Crown Prosecution Service said if the ECHR declined to take the case “he will be extradited to Sweden as soon as arrangements can be made”.

Many campaigners on Assange’s behalf argue that the extradition is based on no or poor evidence in Sweden, and is primarily a “front” for America to extradite Assange to the USA to face charges over Wikileaks.