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Julian Assange takes aim at United States as row deepens

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The diplomatic standoff between Britain and Ecuador deepened on Sunday after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange used an extraordinary appearance on the first-floor balcony of Ecuador’s London embassy to berate the United States.

With Metropolitan police officers watching from metres away, Assange called on President Obama to abandon what he called a “witch-hunt” against WikiLeaks. He said an alleged “FBI investigation” against his whistleblowing website should be “dissolved” and that the US should go back to its original “revolutionary” values.

“As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of our societies,” Assange said, standing on a white balcony just above the pavement, and flanked by Ecuador’s yellow, blue and red flag. He added: “I ask President Obama to do the right thing: the United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks.”

Assange also thanked Ecuador’s social democrat president, Rafael Correa, for granting him political asylum. Correa’s decision, announced last Thursday, has set off a growing international row. Assange also thanked several other Latin American countries for their support – implicitly warning Britain that any dispute with Ecuador could rapidly snowball into a conflict with the entire region.

More than 50 police officers surrounded the embassy in Knightsbridge, south-west London, on Sunday, with a police helicopter in the skies above, but they were clearly under orders not to try to arrest the WikiLeaks founder. Assange addressed around 100 well-wishers, with supporters including Tariq Ali and former British ambassador Craig Murray making speeches from the street.

Assange spoke for 10 minutes. He appeared cheerful, if unsurprisingly pale. This was his first public appearance since he slipped into the embassy two months ago and the latest surreal episode in a soap opera that has seen him go from the High Court to house arrest in Norfolk and now to an embassy camp-bed in genteel Kensington and Chelsea, less than 50m from Harrods.

The 41-year-old Australian took refuge in the embassy after the supreme court ordered his extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of serious sexual misconduct. Assange pointedly did not mention those allegations on Sunday, instead casting his predicament as a universal one of free speech struggling to survive in a “dangerous and oppressive world”. Britain says it is obliged to implement EU extradition law and will arrest Assange the second he leaves the building.

Speaking from the balcony in SW1, Assange claimed that the Met had come close to storming the embassy late last Wednesday. Britain sent a letter to Ecuador last week stating that it believes it is entitled to arrest Assange inside the building under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987. The claim has enraged the government in Quito, which says the 1961 Vienna convention protects its – and others’ – diplomatic territory.

Assange said …

Read the rest, with full links, The Guardian HERE

• Peter Adams on Pussy Riot …

Pussy Riot

August 20, 2012

The last few days have been generally overcast, cold, drizzly. Despite this — and possibly because of it — masses of soft, pussy willow like flowers have braved the chilled air to burst forth and inform me that being grumpy is okay as long as I don’t forget to recognize life’s ever present promising beauty. Even on those miserable days when the global news is unbearable.

The judge ordered three members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot to serve two years in a labour camp for “blasphemous hooliganism”. This, because they had staged a peaceful — what I would call artistic — protest against Russian leader Vladimir Putin inside an Orthodox church.

Alisa Obraztsova, a member of Pussy Riot’s legal defense team, stated that the trial was a “political put-up job”.

In my view, it was bigger than that: it was a patriarchal anti-feminist forced blow-job where religion was used to choke off feminist dissent and shove down their throats a world view that refuses to accept anything other than male domination.

The judge wouldn’t even allow into the court record a definition of what feminism is; instead, preferring to detail how “the women’s skirts rode up as they kicked their legs and how they crossed into an area of the church forbidden to women”.

Let’s forget that these three women were wearing colorful leggings that completely covered their legs. The accusations against these women are the same repulsive tactics used in rape cases where the victim becomes the accused.

An artist’s role is to get people to look deeply at the “unexamined assumptions” of their religious, cultural, economic, political and environmental belief systems. I attempt this through studio sculpture, site-specific land art, educational tours at Windgrove and the production of this blog “Life on the Edge”.

Perhaps my writing comes across a little too crude or raw to some people. All I can say is that we’re all in rough waters now and if — after several drafts of words carefully chosen — the language used shocks some people, I only ask that you try to understand where your shock comes from; perhaps, even use it as a door to a greater awareness.

For me, the most shocking and informative words I have ever read — two short sentences that brought a crystal clear clarity — were these that I came across in Jay Griffith’s book ‘Wild’:

“Not Enough Cunt. That’s the Problem with Genesis.”

From Peter Adams’ blog HERE

The Guardian: Pussy Riot trial gives Russia ‘the image of a medieval dictatorship’

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From Pussy Riot, a lesson in the power of punk

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Philip Lowe

    August 24, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Surely all that is required is that the Swedish authorities give an assurance that Assange will not be extradited to the US on anti US charges.
    Can the Swedes be trusted to keep such a promise?
    If they will not give such an assurance then I schmeel a rodent.

  2. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Comment 12, I stand by my opinion of Assange as a “complete dill, incredibly naïve, or bordering on delusional hypocrisy”, which was definitely not meant as “puff and fluff”.

    Anyone brought up in a Western libertarian democracy would have to be a “complete dill and incredibly naïve” to reckon that Ecuador is a better protector of media and other freedoms than the US, GB or Sweden.

    Anyone whose actions result in the ‘outing’ of pro-liberty activists in a tin-pot despotism like (ex Soviet) Belarus – Europe’s last dictatorship – has to be “bordering on delusional”.

    Finally, anyone who stops his wikileaking when ‘asked’ to by Russia has actually crossed the border into “hypocrisy”.

  3. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Comment 12, I stand by my opinion of Assange as a “complete dill, incredibly naïve, or bordering on delusional hypocrisy”.

    Anyone brought up in a Western libertarian democracy would have to be a “complete dill and incredibly naïve” to reckon that Ecuador is a better protector of media and other freedoms than the US, GB or Sweden. Or Australia, at least for the time being.

    Anyone whose actions result in the ‘outing’ of pro-liberty activists in a tin-pot despotism like Belarus – Europe’s last dictatorship – has to be “bordering on delusional”.

    Finally, anyone stops his wikileaking when ‘asked’ to by Russia has actually crossed the border into “hypocrisy”.

    As for the Galloway git, remember the (well-deserved) flak that some silly judge in Adelaide copped for dissing a woman’s claim of rape as no more than “rougher than usual handling”?

  4. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Question: “Your point?” in Comment 10.

    Answer: in the first sentence of Comment 8.

  5. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 20, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    PS: re the “Assange-is-my-Hero” collective, UK Left MP George Galloway (for, would you believe, the “Respect” group) has his two-bob’s worth in today’s ‘Guardian’, showing that “No means No” still has some way to go, even in – especially in? – socialist-lite circles:

    “She [one of the two Swedish women] claimed that while she did have consensual sex with him, the condom ripped and yet he continued to do it,” [Assange] said. “Now you wouldn’t just need to be in the room with the two of them to know the truth of this allegation. I don’t want to take the biology too far, but you would actually need to be somewhere located inside the woman to know if that allegation were true. And if it were true, is it rape?”

    “Is it rape?” jolly old George asks. Seems the answer is “Only if it’s being perpetrated by a Right man”.

    Wonder what our Germs thinks? Maybe she’ll speed-dial him – he is sure to be on her lists of faves. Maybe jolly George considers the two women sacrificial virgins?

  6. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 20, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Is Mr J Assange, current guest-of-convenience in Ecuador’s London embassy, a complete dill, incredibly naïve, or bordering on delusional hypocrisy?

    Particularly with his balcony orating about “journalists fall[ing] silent under fear of prosecution”. BTW, balcony orating is a fave of dictators from Mussolini through Ceaucescu to Saddam – and look what happened to them!

    Country press freedom rankings by Reporters Without Borders, 2011-2012:
    (^ = UNASUR [you go google] countries supporting Ecuador’s position)

    1st: Finland & Norway (=); (just so’s you’ll know who’s top)
    10th: Canada;
    12th: Sweden;
    13th: New Zealand; (1-13 have “fewest” restraints)
    28th: Great Britain;
    30th: Australia;
    37th: El Salvador^; (25-41 have “third fewest” restraints)
    47th: Argentina^, USA and Romania (=);
    72nd: Nicaragua^;
    80th: Chile^;
    99th: Brazil^;
    104th: ECUADOR;
    108th: Bolivia^; (42-111 have “median least/most” restraints)
    115th: Peru^;
    117th: Venezuela^ (= with Zimbabwe);
    135th: Honduras^; (112-140 have “third most” restraints)
    143rd: Colombia^;
    149th: Mexico^. (141-165 have “second most” restraints) ~

    Hope our Jules doesn’t find the local spooks too much of a ‘restraint’.

    Will he be wikileaking Ecuadorian government secrets?

    Sad if he ends up in a “WTF have I done?” mother-of-all-messes.

    Links –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reporters_without_borders
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Press_Freedom_Index

    which will detail and clarify RWB’s methods, criteria and rankings.

    [~ ranks 166-179, which have the “most” restraints, include Cuba, Vietnam, Iran and North Korea, regimes often favourably ‘mentioned in despatches’ by far too many of our homegrown Western rejections.]

  7. Steve

    August 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    A bit of perspective might be in order.
    Julian Assange is the only one talking about a US witch hunt.
    Britain is talking about a breach of bail and Sweden is talking about serious sexual misconduct.
    That said, you’d think fifty police officers, complete with helicopter, would have better things to do than bother about a breach of bail! The serious criminals must be having a good laugh, while the poor old British tax payer picks up the tab.

  8. TGC

    August 20, 2012 at 1:53 am

    #3 Julian Assange as first President of this newly formed International response to the United Nations? And the first person to be declared “World’s First Citizen”?
    nominated to both positions by Sweden and Ecuador

  9. john Hayward

    August 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Spare a thought for Bob Carr.

    Until a few days ago, he was galumphing along the political high road. Then, with a few craven porkies about Assange, he is back down on the same road as his colleagues on both sides.

    John Hayward

  10. Greg James

    August 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Sounds like pre-war Germany all over again. Where good people failed to step forward and say enough is enough. It’s a lesson of history that no doubt is being repeated, but is devoid of critiscm because the travesty is being waged by the victor and the crowd will not side with the losers (themselves) until it is way to late. Expect more death and destruction but no war crimes trials until the victor becomes the loser.

  11. TV Resident

    August 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Are Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, by telling the world the truth about the Iraqi etc wars, being made scapegoats to cover up the ‘war crimes’ of the USA leader of the time and also the same crimes of the Australian and UKs PMs from the same time. Unfortunately the current leaders are following in the footsteps of the past leaders on this subject. Why should we be led into war and be blind to the truth because the ‘powers that be’ are hungry for oil and war??? They show NO concern for the innocent people who lose their lives through their leaders greed and stupidity.

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