Month: August 2012

Attacking Miners With Old Apartheid Law

Outside of a dictatorship, you might reasonably expect when police shoot dead 34 miners that the police (or at least some of them) are arrested.

But no, in the new South Africa their employing old apartheid laws to arrest the remaining few hundred miners and the police are let off, truly appalling:

“The 270 miners arrested during violent strikes in South Africa have been charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues who were shot dead by police.

The murder charge – and associated charges for the attempted murder of 78 miners injured at the Marikana mine near Johannesburg – was brought by the national prosecuting authority under an obscure Roman-Dutch common law previously used by the apartheid government.

The move came as the men appeared in court charged with public violence over the clashes at the Lonmin platinum mine on 16 August when striking miners armed with clubs, machetes and at least one gun allegedly charged police, who opened fire. It suggests President Jacob Zuma’s government is trying to shift the blame for the killings to the striking miners.

The prosecuting authority said all 270 miners had been charged. Less than one in 10 Lonmin miners turned up for work at the mine on Tuesday, the lowest level since workers returned to work following the clashes. Violence has since spread to Lonmin’s other operations. “

As the Washington Post reports:

“The strike, apparently rooted in rivalry between two trade unions, had rock drill operators demanding a minimum wage of 12,500 rand ($1,560) and complaining that their take-home pay was only about 5,500 rand ($688).

On Aug. 16, police said they had failed to persuade the strikers to disarm and that it was “D-Day” to end the strike at the London-registered Lonmin PLC platinum mine. That afternoon, striking miners armed with clubs, machetes and at least one gun allegedly charged at police, who opened fire, killing 34 and wounding at least 78.

Some survivors said many of the miners were fleeing police tear gas and water cannons when they were shot. “

Assange Apologists Don’t Like The Debate

Aside from old men, Galloway, Pilger and Benn there are some Julian Assange supporters that don’t like the type of debate, which his conduct has brought about.

One such is at the Loud mouth collective’s Don’t Call Me A Rape Apologist.

The arguments put forward are fairly feeble, involve special pleading and an almost Brendan O’Neill grasp of rape law.

I thought the comment by Rev Magdalen particularly good:

“Assange is the subject of a legal prosecution for allegations of rape. People judging the merits of the accusations based on what they’ve read on the internet are called “rape apologists” because making that judgement call means accepting the idea that public opinion, not a court, should determine the facts of the matter. That minimizes rape as a crime, as if it doesn’t need a court proceeding to assess.

Taking rape seriously means supporting the idea that every rape accusation should be heard in a court of law, not just have its details pored over by the public, as if it’s something anyone could judge from home by reading blogs and witness statements, without actually talking to the alleged victims or having forensic training. It means respecting that these allegations about Assange are being examined by a court and due process should go forward the same as for any such accusation, regardless of who is accused or what their defense team claims is the truth.

Assange may well be innocent. If you’re correct that the woman who’s allegedly his victim denies she was raped, he could call her to the stand and have her say so. What better way to prove the prosecution was biased and politically motivated? If he’d done that immediately, this whole matter would be nothing more than a tiny footnote by now, not the major issue causing speculation that the entire WikiLeaks organization will fail because its head refuses to step down to take care of his personal legal trouble.

As for asking for an advance guarantee against extradition to the USA for any and all possible future charges, Swedish law professors don’t agree it’s possible. Sweden’s government could veto any extradition to America after its courts have weighed in about it, but the government can’t say in advance that no matter what the courts decide, it is going to ignore them and make a predetermined decision, based on the identity of the accused. The central point of the rule of law (rather than rule by whim of a dictator) is that each case is judged on its merits, not on who the accused is.

Assange should take comfort that even if he’s charged with assisting Bradley Manning in hacking Army computers, Sweden would likely consider that a “political offense,” which its treaty explicitly exempts from extradition.

Assange And Sleeping People Cannot Consent

Vera Baird deals with the idiocy of men pronouncing on what they think is and isn’t rape, particularly in defence of Julian Assange:

“Sleeping people cannot consent and what reasonable person could think that they can?

What has been discussed is some presumption of ongoing consent from earlier consensual sex but that is untenable since nobody can tell from a sleeping person whether they do or do not want to repeat the experience.

None of this affects the consensual nature of the earlier sex. “

Wonderful reasoning, but I doubt that will convince the army of apologists and misogynists that excuse Assange’s conduct.

Not forgetting Ellie Cumbo On Brendan O’Neill’s Gallowayism contribution.

Daniel Roque Hall

The plight of Daniel Roque Hall needs examining particularly during the time of the Paralympics:

“Roque Hall suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, an inherited disease that causes damage to the nervous system. It limits the movement in his limbs, affects his heart and makes it hard for him to swallow. The full run-down of his health issues includes Type 1 diabetes, cardiomyopathy, hypotension, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, leg and back spasms resulting in insomnia, a spastic bladder, and previous depression leading to two suicide attempts.

Daniel needs 24-hour care, including two carers to transfer him from chair to chair with a mobile hoist; insulin injections; five tests of blood glucose a day; toileting; turning in bed to avoid pressure sores; someone present when drinking to stop him choking; an exercise regime to prevent the development of contractions; the drug Warfarin; help with dressing himself; and manipulation and exercise to maintain muscle activity. He will die from his disease, but the exercises, in particular, help lessen his suffering. He is 29 years old and at best, he has 10 years to live.”

The Kilburn Times has more:

“Mrs Hall claims she was not told about her son’s collapse until 24 hours later.

She also says prison bosses failed to inform the High Court that he had been hospitalised during an appeal hearing which took place the day after.

Mrs Hall, who is campaigning for her son to be released and go under house arrest, added: “They took my son to intensive care, lied in court and didn’t even tell me until 24 hours later.

“Daniel has always accepted what he has done; he deserves to be punished but not to die.”

A petition with more than 1,000 signatures has been handed to the prison and earlier this month around 40 friends held a noisy protest outside the prison gates to campaign against his treatment.

A prison service spokesman said they would not comment on individual cases.

He added: “We have a duty of care to those sentenced to custody by the courts. As part of that duty of care, we ensure that prisoners have access to the same level of NHS services as those in the community.” “

Ludwig Guttmann And The Paralympics

I wouldn’t normally touch upon this subject, but my curiosity was piqued by the Paralympics. I didn’t know the origins of them or the background to Ludwig Guttmann.

There is a piece at the Science museum, all too brief and incomplete:

“Ludwig Guttmann was a Jewish neurosurgeon who left Nazi Germany with his family in 1939. In Britain he became director of the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, where he helped soldiers with disabilities rehabilitate, and established the Paralympic Games.

At the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Guttmann tried new methods to treat patients with spinal injuries and paralysis sustained in the war. Exercise was used as therapy to help the patients develop strong upper bodies, as they could not walk. Patients were subjected to a gruelling regime of competitive activity, designed to make them psychologically as well as physically strong.

Guttmann watched wheelchair patients use walking sticks to play with a ball and devised a sport called wheelchair polo. The players suffered severe injuries most of the times they played, so did not play the game for long. Then Guttmann tried archery and netball as sports for disabled veterans in wheelchairs. They were a great success as the men at the spinal injuries hospital were able to practise these sports regularly.

On the same day as the Olympics opened in London in 1948, the first Stoke Mandeville Games were held. In 1960 the Olympics were held in Rome, and Goodman arranged for wheelchair athletes to compete in a ‘parallel’ Olympics. The name was shortened to the Paralympics, and now athletes with a wide range of disabilities represent their country every four years.”

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Julian Assange, Conspiracy Theories And Noam Chomsky

Colette Browne in the Irish Examiner looks at some of the tortuous arguments advanced by Julian Assange supporters, including Noam Chomsky:

“AS A HUGE fan of the immensely important work that Wikileaks has done in recent years, it has been depressing to watch the deranged cult that surrounds its founder sully its brand.

There is little doubt that Julian Assange, having exposed some of the barbarities perpetuated by the American military in its ill-fated war in Iraq, has reason to fear the wrath of an enraged US government — particularly given the appalling treatment meted out to whistleblower Bradley Manning, the army private accused of orchestrating the biggest leak of state secrets in US history.

However, outlandish claims that a sovereign Western state, Sweden, has morphed into a deferential colonial stooge, desperate to arrest the journalist on the flimsiest of pretexts in a nefarious plot that would ultimately see him incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, are laughable.

Assange supporters paint his plight as one of a trail-blazing political prisoner, who has been stitched up in an elaborate plot hatched between the US and Swedish governments.

They spin a convoluted tale the details of which, it has to be said, would make an excellent summer blockbuster. Hang onto your tin-foil hats, the story goes something like this.

Assange, in Sweden in 2010 to deliver a lecture, had the misfortune to sleep with two vindictive harpies who later filed complaints against him with the police, alleging a number of serious offences, including sexual molestation and rape.

Absolutely no credence should be given to these fanciful claims as the women are clearly nothing more than scorned groupies and the allegations, even if true, amount to, in the words of noted feminist George Galloway, “bad sexual etiquette” on the part of suave ladykiller Assange.

Enter stage right, in incontrovertible evidence of a high-level conspiracy, none other than Karl Rove, George Bush’s former chief of staff and evil empire spin doctor, who is now acting as an advisor to Sweden’s governing Moderate Party and demanding that country deliver Assange’s head on a plate to the Obama administration. “

Meanwhile, his misogynistic supporters, like the odious Galloway, who have apparently developed psychic abilities which allow them to preempt due process and definitively state that the alleged offences are works of fiction, seem to think that, in Assange’s sole case, trial by their gut feeling, that he is an honourable and innocent patsy, is reason enough to dispense with the remainder of the investigation.

This belies the inconvenient truth that if the case against Assange is as weak as is being claimed it will never see the light of a Swedish court and, in the event that it does, Assange will be vigorously defended and his legal team will have ample opportunity to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.

Of course, the only way he can do any of that, clear his name and save Wikileaks from the ignominy of being imminently reduced to a grotesque parody of itself, is to get on a plane and go to Sweden — a scenario that remains, for now, as incredulous as the hyperbolic conspiracy theories swirling around the case. “

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Ellie Cumbo On Brendan O’Neill’s Gallowayism

This is a lovely put down of the stupid contribution by Brendan O’Neill:

“Is the law a matter of fact or opinion? Today, Brendan O’ Neill followed George Galloway, John Pilger, and Tony Benn to become the latest non-lawyer to offer up his understanding of the law on rape. He’s also the latest to get it wrong, and he probably won’t be the last.

In absolute truth, the law on a particular issue at any given time can be fuzzy. Our legal system regularly relies on the higher courts to bring clarity where what exists is anything but: badly-written Acts of Parliament, a glut of past rulings recent and ancient, and a nebulous sense of how certain words and phrases would now be commonly understood. This is why controversial cases often appear to result in judges changing the law, when what they are seeking to do is just to tidy up an incomprehensible mess.

But O’Neill has fatally misunderstood what is meant by the word “intent” in context – despite the fact it is set out in the very Act of Parliament he quotes, the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Rape is made out where the accused “does not reasonable believe” the other person consents. In other words, if the accused truly believed that there was consent, but the court held that belief to be unreasonable (for example because it was based on what the complainant was wearing), the accused would still be found guilty. O’Neill’s statement that “the man must know that there is no consent… must not believe that consent is present, and therefore must know that it is absent” is, then, straightforwardly untrue.

As the CPS indicates in the publicly-available legal guidance that O’Neill appears not to have bothered reading, this was a major and quite deliberate Parliamentary change to the law that existed before 2003, under which an honest belief in consent, however unreasonable, negated the offence. But frankly, we don’t need to go all the way to the CPS for this: it is so settled a legal principle that a first-year law student could probably reel it off in an instant. “

World Wide Snippets: Women’s Rights, Galloway And Attacking The Disabled.

A slightly delayed round up from a few weeks back.

Lest we forget, Exhibit focuses on scientists’ role in Holocaust.

How did this come about? As HOPE Note Hate comments.

Individual tragedy from the Middle East, the Oasis of Peace’s sad news.

Still no freedom for poorer rural women in South Africa.

The Women of Afghanistan:

“A recent study by Human Rights Watch, which interviewed 58 women and girls in prison, found that half were jailed for acts that any reasonable person would not consider a crime, like running away from abusive situations. People who force women into marriage, often at very young ages, or subject them to violence, are rarely prosecuted, the group said. Female victims get little support from police and judges, and they face the added injustice of being punished for committing “moral crimes,” like “zina” — sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. Criminalizing zina is contrary to Afghanistan’s international obligations, the group says. “

No means no, lest George Galloway and his supporters forget that.

ADL’s Snapshot of Al Quds Day 2012:

“While the largest Al Quds Day events gen­er­ally take place in the Mid­dle East, protests are also held in cities across the United States. The protests, which took place last Fri­day in a dozen U.S. cities, were rife with extreme lan­guage, includ­ing signs that com­pared Israel’s treat­ment of the Pales­tini­ans to the Holocaust.

In New York, L.A. and Hous­ton, large ban­ners read­ing “Stop Pales­tin­ian Geno­cide” were on dis­play, as well as other signs that read, “Israel is a Can­cer,” “Down with Zion­ism,” Holo­caust in Pales­tine” and “Gaza=Auschwitz.” A woman in New York held a sign that said, “Free Pales­tine! End ZioN­azi Apartheid! No $$ to ‘Israel!’ Boy­cott ‘Israel’.” “

WNN is a superb source of underreported news. Recommended.
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The GOP Convention And More Racism Round Up.

[Trigger warning, Assange related material.]

When the GOP Convention comes around there is almost the feeling that America has stepped back in time, not by the technology employed or the showmanship, but the underlying ideas.

Issues that many might think are uncontroversial provoke alarm and worry amongst the GOP, the Pew Research Quiz is just one indicator.

But a deeper whiff of bigotry and reaction clings to GOP events, as TPM reported:

“An attendee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday allegedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said “This is how we feed animals” before being removed from the convention, a network official confirmed to TPM. “

And more, Nativism 101:

“There were energetic shouts of “Aye!” and “Nay!” as a Puerto Rican party functionary—Zoraida Fonalledas, the chairwoman of the Committee on Permanent Organization—took her turn at the main-stage lectern. As she began speaking in her accented English, some in the crowd started shouting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

The chanting carried on for nearly a minute while most of the other delegates and the media stood by in stunned silence. The Puerto Rican correspondent turned to me and asked, “Is this happening?” I said I honestly didn’t know what was happening—it was astonishing to see all the brittle work of narrative construction that is a modern political convention suddenly crack before our eyes. None of us could quite believe what we were seeing: A sea of twentysomething bowties and cowboy hats morphing into frat bros apparently shrieking over (or at) a Latina. RNC chairman Reince Priebus quickly stepped up and asked for order and respect for the speaker, suggesting that, yeah, what we had just seen might well have been an ugly outburst of nativism.”

Meanwhile, for would-be GOPers, Ayn Rand and a discussion of her “philosophy”, which seems to have all of the depth and consistency of L.Ron. Hubbard’s Scientology, albeit without the UFOs.
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Pew Research: Where Do You Fit?

I am grateful to Peter for pointing me towards the Political Party Quiz by Pew Research.

I came out on the Left, but I suspect most non-Fox News viewers and thinking people would:

Please try it and tell me where on the Pew scale you are.

Plot To Kill Obama? Or Too Many Neo-Nazis In The Military?

There is news coming out of North America, of a proposed plot to kill President Obama.

Seemingly by an anarchist group called F.E.A.R.

Although details are still sketchy, it seems unlikely that they were anarchists as one of the leaders of this group was a page at the Republican Party 2008 convention.

I would suspect the issue of the US military letting in the dregs of the Far Right is nearer the mark. They relaxed their selection criteria after the invasion of Iraq and subsequent recruitment problems, as the SPLC pointed out in 2006:

“Ten years after Pentagon leaders toughened policies on extremist activities by active duty personnel — a move that came in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing by decorated Gulf War combat veteran Timothy McVeigh and the murder of a black couple by members of a skinhead gang in the elite 82nd Airborne Division — large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists continue to infiltrate the ranks of the world’s best-trained, best-equipped fighting force. Military recruiters and base commanders, under intense pressure from the war in Iraq to fill the ranks, often look the other way.

Neo-Nazis “stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they’re inside, and they are hard-core,” Department of Defense gang detective Scott Barfield told the Intelligence Report. “We’ve got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad,” he added. “That’s a problem.”The armed forces are supposed to be a model of racial equality. American soldiers are supposed to be defenders of democracy. Neo-Nazis represent the opposite of these ideals. They dream of race war and revolution, and their motivations for enlisting are often quite different than serving their country.”Join only for the training, and to better defend yourself, our people, and our culture,” Fain said. “We must have people to open doors from the inside when the time comes.” “

This Reuters’ report is illuminating:

“White supremacists, neo-Nazis and skinhead groups encourage followers to enlist in the Army and Marine Corps to acquire the skills to overthrow what some call the ZOG – the Zionist Occupation Government. Get in, get trained and get out to brace for the coming race war.

If this scenario seems like fantasy or bluster, civil rights organizations take it as deadly serious, especially given recent events. Former U.S. Army soldier Wade Page opened fire with a 9mm handgun at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Aug. 5, murdering six people and critically wounding three before killing himself during a shootout with police. “

Swedish Lawyers, Humour in Assange And Death Threats For Being Gay

The Assange story carries on like a poorly written epic poem, but there is humour in it, as Sadie Smith shows in Internet Wars: The Assange Saga

The Blog That Peter Wrote examines What Has Happened to Wikileaks.

Yet another Assange piece at the New Statesman. It is not notable because of the argumentation, but rather the comments from Assange supporters. Their remarks come over at lacking in evidence, prone to conspiracies and peppered with non-sequiturs.

The marvellous Sandi Toksvig talks about coming out:

“In the early 90s, Toksvig was told she was about to be outed by a tabloid newspaper. She and her then partner, and their children, went into hiding. “We had death threats, mainly from very religious people who very kindly were going to kill me on God’s behalf because he’s busy.” She laughs, then adds: “It was scary. I’m on kissing terms with the police hate crime squad.” She brightens. “I’ll tell you what makes it worth it. I still get young women who come up to me and say, ‘Thank you, because I was able to say to my mum, ah, but you like Sandi and her life is OK.’ I might not have chosen [to be gay] – it’s hard to be outside of the norm – but I’m glad because it has made me more tolerant. Now I’m 54, I’m delighted and happy – but the years when I was scared for my children, I could have done without that.” “

Mark Klamberg covers Glenn Greenwald’s clumsy intervention into Swedish legal matters:

“In my previous post I described how the Swedish extradition procedure works and its sequence. I explained that prior to the evaluation and decision of the Government the law provides that 1) the Prosecutor-General shall deliver a statement of opinion on the matter and 2) the Supreme Court shall rule on the matter. I wrote that the Government is the final body to approve an extradition request and it may deny a request even if it has been approved by the Supreme Court, but I did not go into the question of the discretion of the Government when there is an extradition agreement. Glenn Greenwald cited parts of my post on the Guardian website on this matter.

The problem is that Greenwald earlier and later in the same text argues for a sequence that would put the Government before the Supreme Court. In essence he is arguing that the Government should have the first and the last say with the Supreme Court in the middle. That would make the Supreme Court redundant which is contrary to the sequence that is provided for in the Extradition Act which I have tried to describe. It may also violate the principle of separation of powers. To be more specific, Greenwald writes in his debate with David Allen Green the following. “

Taliban hack heads off of party goers.

Afghanistan’s Lost Women.

Why Occupation Is Wrong

“Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency.” Anon

Corruption and abuse of power are fairly commonplace in the world. Some examples we hear of, whilst others are conveniently brushed under the carpet.

From the Vatican to Burma and brown paper envelopes corruption goes much further, even the work of Transparency International only scratches the surface.

We can see this particularly when armies and occupation is involved.

Within living memory who can forget the slaughter at Tiananmen Square? Or how the US army acted in Vietnam? In Northern Ireland human rights abuses by the British Army and the RUC are well documented, but they only tell part of the story.

We have yet to hear testimonies from those soldiers involved in the slaughter of civilians in Sri Lanka or the abuses conducted by Syrian forces during the occupation of Lebanon, which ended around 2005.

So it is beneficial to hear the testimonies of Israeli soldiers, however, distressing they are.

They demonstrate, if that point needed reiterating, how destructive an occupation is, to the societies who conduct them and those that suffer under subjugation.

Many sources have noted how corrosive the occupation of the West Bank has been on Israeli society. Israelis themselves debate these issues on a daily basis, something that you don’t see much of in other societies. British brutality, castration and torture during its rule of Kenya is kept tidily within law courts.

Israeli society is divided, but the fact that so many Israelis are involved in pointing out abuses by the IDF and the Israeli government is a healthy one. This type of activity came very late to British society and only then when pressurised by the citizens of Northern Ireland.

It is worthwhile reading these accounts and remembering the longer lasting effects:

“For the past eight years, Breaking the Silence has been taking testimonies from former soldiers who witnessed or participated in human rights abuses in the occupied territories. Most of these accounts deal with “rough justice” administered to minors by soldiers on the ground, often without specific authorisation and without recourse to the military courts. Reading them, however, it’s hard not to recall the Sedley report’s shocked reference to the “belief, which was advanced to us by a military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a ‘potential terrorist’”.

The soldier puts it differently: “We were sort of indifferent. It becomes a kind of habit. Patrols with beatings happened on a daily basis. We were really going at it. It was enough for you to give us a look that we didn’t like, straight in the eye, and you’d be hit on the spot. We got to such a state and were so sick of being there.”

Some time ago, after he had testified to Breaking the Silence, we had interviewed this soldier. As he sat nervously one morning in a quiet Israeli beauty spot, an incongruous location he had chosen to ensure no one knew he was talking, he went through his recollections about the incident – and several others – once again. His account does not match the Palestinian’s in every detail. (Hafez remembers a gun being pressed to his temple, for example, while the soldier recalls that the commander “actually stuck the gun barrel in the kid’s mouth. Literally”.)

Breaking the silence: soldiers’ testimonies

First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade

Salfit 2009

“We took over a school and had to arrest anyone in the village who was between the ages of 17 and 50. When these detainees asked to go to the bathroom, and the soldiers took them there, they beat them to a pulp and cursed them for no reason, and there was nothing that would legitimise hitting them. An Arab was taken to the bathroom to piss, and a soldier slapped him, took him down to the ground while he was shackled and blindfolded. The guy wasn’t rude and did nothing to provoke any hatred or nerves. Just like that, because he is an Arab. He was about 15, hadn’t done a thing.

“In general people at the school were sitting for hours in the sun. They could get water once in a while, but let’s say someone asked for water five times, a soldier could come to him and slap him just like that. I saw many soldiers using their knees to hit them, just out of boredom. Because you’re standing around for 10 hours doing nothing, you’re bored, so you hit them. I know that at the bathroom, there was this ‘demons’ dance’ as it was called. Anyone who brought a Palestinian there – it was catastrophic. Not bleeding beatings – they stayed dry – but still beatings.”
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Could Julian Assange be extradited from Sweden?

A Swedish legal expert answers:

“The conclusion is: the possibility of extradition exists, but a number of conditions must be met (including that the crime is not political), and it is far from certain that a U.S. extradition request would meet such requirements. In addition, the UK – which hands over Assange to Sweden – has a veto, under Sec 28 of the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant. “

Later on, Associate Professor of Public International Law, Pål Wrange argues:

“On the site http://www.justice4assange.com it is alleged that in the Swedish extradition agreement with the U.S. there is a special summary procedure that so to speak bypasses the usual requirement that the crime may not be political, that the death penalty may not be imposed, etc. On the same site is also stated that there is no such procedure in the US agreement with the UK (see here). Both of these claims are completely wrong. (The other arguments are hardly worthy of comment.) “

Update 1: Mark Klamberg, Doctor in Public International Law, has covered these issues before on his blog, Extradition of Assange to the US via Sweden for espionage.

Assange, Not Blogging, Honest

I hadn’t wanted to post on Assange whilst I have things going around in my mind, but I couldn’t resist linking to these first two perceptive articles.

Sofie Buckland’s Strauss-Kahn v. Assange look at the comparison between DSK’s conduct and that of Julian Assange, and how people relate to them. Critically, many on the Left are happy to criticize DSK but won’t venture a word of rebuke when it comes to Assange and rape:

“Counterfire have published an article by Lindsey German, questioning what it says about the French ‘left’ (or rather, Parti Socialiste) that a man with the reputation of Dominic Strauss-Kahn might be considered an acceptable Presidential candidate.

It takes the allegations made against him very seriously: the “truly shocking story”, with details of the accusations that Strauss-Kahn “physically and brutally” attacked a cleaner in his New York hotel room, is fully relayed.

The article doesn’t say he’s definitely guilty. Rightly: we don’t know yet. But it’s perfectly valid to discuss what the emerging picture of Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour tells us about the French political system and the sweeping under the carpet of vile sexist behaviour towards women in case it damages the cause.

Funny, then, that German is unable to apply the same analysis to the Julian Assange case. Of course, Wikileaks is of the left – German talks at great length on this video about the “great service they have done for us”, meaning the anti-war movement – unlike Parti Socialiste. She likes Wikileaks, thinks it needs defending, and so… participated in the exact same behaviour she’s accusing the French social democrats of here.”

Cath Elliott’s Rape is not……

Journalism

On June 25th this year a letter was handed in to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London urging the Ecuadorian President to grant Assange asylum. Among the many high-profile signatories to the letter were Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Naomi Wolf, Danny Glover, Noam Chomsky and Jemima Khan.

After quite some preamble in which no mention is made of the allegations of rape and sexual molestation, just a brief throway “he is not wanted on criminal charges, but merely for questioning“, the signatories say:

”We also call on you to grant Mr. Assange political asylum because the “crime” that he has committed is that of practicing journalism.”

Rape. Journalism. Easy to confuse the two I know…. “

The Guardian’s Rafael Correa hits back over Ecuador’s press freedom and charge of hypocrisy:

“Quito is no place for the politically half-hearted. Locals are proud of their radicalism and burn effigies of politicians – including the current president – at raucous New Year’s Eve parades. Many feel it is their duty to kick out poorly performing leaders, something they have done with remarkable regularity.

After just five years in power, Correa is the longest-serving president in a century. US embassy cables described him as the most popular president the country had ever had. Without exception, everyone interviewed for this story said Correa had been good for Ecuador. Even the fiercest critics of his media policies praised the president’s work on health and education. As his cavalcade drove up to the interview venue, girls leaned out of the window and screamed as if they had seen a rock star.”

A humorous contribution from Love and garbage’s How do you write about foreign legal systems – The Guardian style guide.

Now for paranoid nonsense from Assange supporters at CounterFire’s Wikileaks: whose debate are we having?

“We should therefore be very suspicious when some campaigners are arguing the same line as the government: it is just about rape. It is certainly not about rape for the British government, but by claiming it is they hope to get Assange out of the way so they can continue to warmonger in peace. We need to expose what they are doing, stop them from dishonestly adopting the cause of the two Swedish women, and demand that the powers who use overwhelming violence across the world get out of the court room. “

Finally, The Assange case: common misconceptions at the @Objectiviser‘s blog is a must read.

Faith Matters Report On The EDL

Faith Matters, an NGO which works to reduce extremism, intra-faith tensions and promotes interfaith dialogues, published an interesting report on the EDL in 2010.

Download the English Defence League: Challenging Our Country and Our Values of Social Inclusion, Fairness and Equality, [as a PDF].

Apparently, they will be releasing another report shortly.

Meanwhile, keep up with them by following Faith Matters and Tell MAMA on Twitter.

Rape And Sexual Violent in Syria

I recently read a disturbing and under-reported aspect of the conflict in Syria, violence against women.

Video: WMC’s Women Under Siege director tells CNN of the horrors we’ve documented in Syria.

Lauren Wolfe in the ultimate assault: Charting Syria’s use of rape to terrorize its people
writes:

“A woman swathed in black squares her shoulders and calmly looks into a camera. She holds a Quran. Only a sliver of her face—her eyeglasses—shows. “What happened to me hasn’t happened to anyone, or if it has affected anyone else I do not know,” she says. “But I will speak and let all the people know what [Syrian leader] Bashar al-Assad and his men are doing.” Over the next four minutes, her breathing grows labored and her voice breaks as she describes how, in May 2011, five men wearing black entered her home on the outskirts of Homs and raped her.

“This is my message to the world,” she says. “Let all the world hear what is happening to us. And I might not be the first one nor the last who was treated in this way.”

The still-unidentified woman posted the video to YouTube on February 11, 2012. It is one of the earliest reports on our live, crowd-sourced map of sexualized violence in Syria. The Women’s Media Center project Women Under Siege has been collecting reports out of Syria for three months, during which time we’ve seen many stories similar to this, in which multiple attackers, usually government forces, are said to gang rape a woman in her home. We have also mapped stories at the extreme edge of nightmares; of teenage girls given shots that immobilize them while their genitals were burned or filled with mice. Government forces and others appear to be carrying out appalling sexualized attacks against women, men, and children in Syria as the conflict there continues. Although we are unable to independently confirm these stories—Syria is simply too dangerous, and our research staff too small—they are consistent both internally and within the news and NGO reports telling similar stories from the Syrian conflict.”

Also, see documenting sexualized violence in conflict: Syria.

Not forgetting Mika Yamamoto’s death in Syria.

Clarifying Assange And His Would-be Cult

I used to like Wikileaks, however, their involvement with Israel Shamir sent shivers down my spine and now I find the adoration of Assange to be rather disturbing.

The consequence of Julian Assange’s antics is that Wikileaks barely exists, the focus is on the narcissistic Assange with barely a word about Bradley Manning.

As exhausting as it is trying to keep up with the varied arguments the latter two articles are quite refreshing.

Hadley Freeman spends time explaining rape to the repulsive George Galloway in Everyone’s talking about rape.

But don’t get me started on Mike Moore and Ollie Stone’s (almost) MittRomneyesque contempt for Europeans.

Adrian Chen’s Julian Assange’s Rape Case Has Nothing to Do With Free Speech:

“But every one of their points in support of a dark Swedish-U.S.-U.K. conspiracy is false, having been debunked in earlier posts by New Statesman writer and lawyer David Allen Green, and the British lawyer Anya Palmer. The facts show that there is nothing more to the case than Swedish prosecutors trying to get Assange to face justice.

First: Moore and Stone toss out the old chestnut that “Sweden has not formally charged Mr. Assange with any crime.” Assange hasn’t even been charged, so why are the Swedes pursuing him so aggressively? It must be because the CIA has secreted Swedish lawmakers’ families to black sites and won’t release them until they get Assange.

But the argument that Assange “hasn’t even been charged,” is based on a meaningless technicality: Assange has not been formally charged because in Swedish criminal cases nobody is charged until very late in an investigation, unlike in the U.S. and Britain where charges are filed early on. Assange high-tailed it out of Sweden before the investigation reached the point of a formal charge—which is why they want him back. “

Adam Wagner’s The Assange Reality Distortion Field:

“It was once said of Apple’s Steve Jobs that he could convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, and persistence. Following Jobs’ untimely death, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has taken over the mantle of his patented Reality Distortion Field.

It would seem (on Twitter at least) that you are now either with Assange or against him. To be with him is to believe that he is in the throes of an international conspiracy involving, but not limited to, the British Government, courts, the Swedish Government, his rape (not bad sexual etiquette) accusers, of course the Americans and possibly the saucer people too. To be in the other (artificially exaggerated) camp is to not automatically believe that his Swedish accusers have been concocted by a dastardly international conspiracy, but rather that their accusations should be met with (whisper it) due process. Moreover, Assange has had his days in court, all the way to the UK Supreme Court, and now must face his accusers.

Assange’s Non-Extradition, Galloway And Julie Bindel

Julie Bindel’s evisceration of Galloway and the broader implications of his offensive comments is a must read:

“But some liberal-lefty men have been bending over backwards to rewrite definitions of rape to suit their blanket adoration of Assange. They seem to be too stupid to work out that you can admire and defend WikiLeaks without canonising its founder. In the world of Assange-lovers, women who allege rape and sexual assault are either lying vixens or silly unsuspecting pawns in the fight between freedom fighters and the US.

Galloway and those who spout rubbish about what “real rape” really is (ie nothing other than that committed by a stranger wielding a knife who attacks a virgin) are not rape apologists, but rape deniers. Most rape falls into the category that Galloway has decided is simply “bad sexual etiquette”, ergo most women are lying, and most men are the victims of spurious accusations from women who should read up on rape legislation. “

Everyday Sexism: What’s the big deal? should get you thinking, unless you are an Assange supporter or suffer from Galloways offensive mentality.

Whirled Peas argues:

“Despite their disagreements on a variety of other issues, Galloway, Assange, Akin, are all of a kind: they seem to think that there is ambiguity around the subject of rape. There is not: without consent, it’s rape. This is the beginning, the middle and the end of the matter; there is no post-modern analysis to be made, no fiddling about with subjective criteria, no softening of the edges or blurring of the lines. If the women in question did not agree to sexual activity, they were violated. This is a crime, not just in reference to British, Swedish, American and even Ecuadorian law, but rather it is a transgression which violates the sanctity of the person. Our fundamental freedoms rest upon an assumption: you may not own another person, but you own yourself. You may give of yourself, but no one is entitled to take. To suggest that under certain circumstances that such “taking” is acceptable or less than a gross violation is to undermine this concept; it threatens liberty itself. It is no wonder that President Obama rushed to condemn Akin by stating clearly, “Rape is rape”; it is puzzling that British politicians have not responded similarly to Galloway’s comments nor been as forceful in dismissing Assange’s claims. Labour’s reticence is particularly inexplicable: they stand a good chance of reclaiming Bradford West if they go in for the kill. “

The Swedes have cleared up the issue of extradition to the US and the death penalty:

“In an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, the deputy director of the Service for Criminal Cases and International Cooperation of Sweden’s Justice Ministry Cecilia Riddselius has specifically said Sweden “will never surrender a person to the death penalty”.

Sweden is currently at the center of the WikiLeaks scandal as it seeks to extradite Julian Assange from the UK to face a rape investigation. Assange’s supporters suggest that the scandal is politically motivated and argue he would later be extradited from Sweden to the US to face the death penalty for espionage.

Riddselius also says that they would demand strict assurances from the US that “the prisoner will not be executed in any case” and added that Sweden has not received an extradition request at present. She admitted that it was impossible to tell without the request whether Assange would be extradited without the request. “

The LRB blog reminds us of stools:

“Galloway’s law that not everybody needs to be asked at each point of insertion suggests that Galloway and Assange, at least, naturally possess a special skill in distinguishing those who do need to be asked from those who don’t. How can those not so blessed tell which is which? Galloway considers Assange to have shown poor manners in having sex with two women who did not know about each other (he doesn’t mention Assange’s wife). It might have been ‘really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and asked do you mind if I do it again’ but it is, he booms with evangelical rhetoric, ‘not rape, or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning’. You see, he is much more serious about the vileness of rape than the rest of us. In any case, Galloway asks finally in an epic non-sequitur, granted that Assange is a rat, are not the US and British empires rats too? ‘Imperialism is a bigger rat than Julian Assange, no?’ he demands, with all the satisfaction of Martin Luther successfully passing a stool. Actually, the biggest rat may well not be any of his three options, but a photo-finish between Galloway and Akin. “

Final word, goes to F Word’s “We are not Julian” round-up which is amusing, disheartening and informative in equal measures.

Myths About Rape For George Galloway, Todd Akin And Assange Supporters

By sad necessity this information from the CPS needs publishing a wider audience, including George Galloway, Julian Assange, Todd Akin, Craig Murray and many of Assange’s supporters

  • What is a “Myth”?

    A “Myth” a commonly held belief, idea or explanation that is not true.  Myths arise from people’s need to make sense of acts that are senseless, violent or disturbing.  They attempt to explain events, like rape and abuse, in ways that fit with our preconceived ideas about the world – they arise from and reinforce our prejudices and stereotypes.

    It is an unfortunate fact that myths about rape and sexual violence are brought into the jury room, and form an obstacle to obtaining convictions.  It is therefore imperative that we recognise these myths and challenge them at every opportunity.

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    Myth 1: Rape Occurs Between Strangers in Dark Alleys

    Implications:

    • implies that home is safe;
    • implies that rape can be prevented by avoiding certain places and therefore blames the victim;
    • assumes a particular victim profile and therefore stigmatises him or her; and
    • entrenches racial and class prejudices.

    Facts:

    • the majority of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim;
    • date or acquaintance rape is very common; and
    • victims are often raped in their homes.

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    Myth 2: Women Provoke Rape By The Way They Dress or Act

    Implications:

    • attempts to excuse rape and “blame the victim”;
    • assumes that a woman who draws attention is looking for sex or “deserves what she gets” ; and
    • re-victimises and stigmatises the victim.

    Facts:

    • dressing attractively and flirting is an invitation for attention and/or admiration, not for rape; and
    • only the rapist is responsible for the rape!

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    (more…)