London 2012

Sandra K Eckersley Deals With Rape Apologism

Sandra K Eckersley, in outlining the facts behind the Julian Assange case, has a marvellous way of dealing with rape apologism:

“Your facts relating to this case are plain wrong. Julian Assange is facing four serious allegations. One of rape, two of sexual molestation and one of coercion relating to two Swedish women.

The allegations of sexual molestation and coercion relate to Miss A. The entire sexual experience she described to police appears altogether unpleasant and she details what exactly went wrong in her police statement. She does NOT claim she was raped.

The case involving Miss W is the one that constitutes rape. Judge Riddle in the UK said after reviewing the evidence that this would also be classified as rape in the UK.

Miss W is consistently misrepresented in what has become entirely inappropriate trial by twitter. Her police statement is consistent with a victim statement and she makes no indication in interview that she wants to retract her claim. This is entirely myth.

Miss W told police: “She cycled home, showered, and washed the bed sheets. Because she had not gone to work on time, she called in sick and stayed home all day. She wanted to clean up and wash everything. There was semen on the bed sheets; she thought it was disgusting. She also went to the chemist’s and bought a morning-after pill.
When she talked with her friends afterwards, she understood that she was the victim of a crime. She went to Danderyd Hospital, and from there to Söder Hospital where she was examined and where samples with a so-called rape kit were also taken.”

That does not sound like a women who has been tricked into reporting rape to the police.

Police reports states:

“They dozed off and she awoke and felt him penetrating her. She immediately asked, “Are you wearing anything?”, to which he replied, “You”. She said to him: “You better don’t have HIV”, and he replied, “Of course not”. “She felt that it was too late. He was already inside her and she let him continue. She didn’t have the energy to tell him one more time. She had gone on and on about condoms all night long. She has never had unprotected sex before.

Police report includes this comment from the interviewer:

“In the course of the interview, Sofia and I were informed that Julian Assange had been arrested in absentia. After that, Sofia had difficulty concentrating, as a result of which I made the judgement that it was best to terminate the interview. But Sofia did mention that Assange was angry at her. There was not enough time to obtain any further information about why he was angry at her or how this was expressed. Nor did we have time to discuss what had happened afterwards. The interview was neither read back to Sofia nor read by her for approval; but Sofia was informed that she could do so at a later date.”

That to me reads that Miss W was in fact frightened of Julian Assange and that he had already indicated to her he was angry with her. Hearing that he had been arrested would have made her even more fearful as now he would probably be furious. There is no indication that Miss W wanted to withdraw her claim or was concerned for Assange’s well being.

What is clear is she is frightened of him.

Where does it say anywhere that Miss W wanted to withdraw her statement, refused to sign her statement or felt sorry that Assange was being misrepresented?

I have read enough about this case to see there is a legitimate serious of allegations that Julian Assange must answer and that he appears to be at best a reckless sex creep or at worse a rapist. It remains up to a formal trial to determine his guilt or innocence but to claim Julian Assange has nothing to answer is to indeed, in my books, to be seen as a rape apologist.

There is no real evidence that the US plans to extradite Assange from Sweden and in fact there is a wealth of evidence supporting the notion it would be impossible for them to do so. These incidents occurred a month after Bradley Manning was arrested and when Assange had applied for residency in Sweden. No mention of possible US extradition or rendition back then.

Facts are adding up that Julian Assange is doing everything he can to avoid having to go back to Sweden, as he earlier promised. Should all the legal barriers to him returning be exhausted and he is forced back I suspect he will renew his character assassination of these two women.

How any women, or man for that matter can support active avoidance of a proper Swedish trial here is beyond me.

Twitter @sandraeckersley

[My emphasis.]

Galloway Refuses To Apologise To Muslim Women

George Galloway is a slick politician and often knows what buttons to press to galvanise his supporters, but his weakness, as with many men, is ego.

Galloway hates apologising, admitting that he could have been wrong, so it was when he attended the Bradford Muslim Women’s forum, the Telegraph and Argus reports:

“Mr Galloway said his remarks about consent were made in the context of Mr Assange, who he said was being set up by the US, in league with the Swedish and British governments to punish him for the revelations made through Wikileaks.

He said: “That is the context of my remarks. I cannot and will not apologise for what I said, for what I said – not for what The Sun said I said – because it’s my belief. Now, I may well forfeit your political support as a result, but I do not do things to win political support.”

Mr Galloway refused to comment about the resignation of Respect Party national leader Salma Yaqoob. He also faced criticism about his use of the term “window-licker” in a heated Twitter exchange.

He told the audience he should have used the word “moron” instead to describe the “bigot” who had taunted him on Twitter.”

Update 1: Irna Qureshi, who attended the meeting, has a piece in the Guardian:

“George Galloway was the man who, just months earlier, was being championed for his ability to galvanize Muslim women in a campaign which gave them a voice for change. Now he seems to have lost his way. The MP appears to have forgotten that it was Muslim women who were credited with being a key component of his stunning victory in Bradford West. Galloway went from making us feel important to making us feel totally ignored. He didn’t appear to be promoting our local agenda, so whose was it? Moreover, his religious tone was alienating, giving the meeting the air of a sermon rather than a Q&A session.

The political maverick didn’t even appear bothered about retaining our support. If we didn’t agree with his views, then he was happy, he told us, “to forfeit” our political support as a result. Asked why he had chosen Bradford, he replied: “I didn’t choose Bradford. Bradford elected me… with a 10,000 vote majority…. So I don’t have to explain to you why I chose Bradford. You have to try and work out why Bradford chose me.”

This feels like one step forward and two steps back for Bradford politics. Surely one of the adverse legacies of Pakistani male politics is precisely this complacency to sidestep women, and that’s the one thing that Galloway’s campaign appeared to have surmounted.

Bradford and its sizeable Muslim population have always been a great combination for attention grabbing headlines. Throw George Galloway into the mix and you have something far more explosive. I’m now left wondering if Galloway’s stunning victory in Bradford West will scar Bradford’s memory like the 2001 riots and the 1988 Rushdie book burning. Is George Galloway alienating himself from his own constituents? An accomplished orator he might be, but last night, George Galloway failed to speak to the Muslim women that voted him in.

Salma Yaqoob, George Galloway And Misogyny

Although I do not normally follow the activities of smaller fringe groupings in Britain the resignation of Salma Yaqoob from Respect is intriguing.

Ms. Yaqoob, as leader of Respect, was placed in an incredibly difficult position recently by George Galloway’s comments.

Additionally, there were many deprecating comments to be found on a one-time, Respect supportive, blog,
Time For The Left To Stand Up For Galloway

“12.

As for Salma, hers was an act of betrayal against someone who’s always stood by her. She absolutely should have articulated her issues with George’s comments in private.

Posted by John 5 September, 2012 at 9:04 am

17. Just to clarify, Salma Yaqoob engaged in an act of rank betrayal by sticking the boot in along with the rest of this liberal chorus of faux moral outrage. There is simply no other way to describe it.

Posted by John 5 September, 2012 at 9:38 am

21.

Salma Yaqoob is leader of the Respect Party, and its second most high profile figure. Kate Hudson was the prominent candidate in a forth-coming parliamentary by-election. That is the context in which they are being criticised, not becasue they are women, nor do I think it is colluding with sexism to express disappointment with them.

Posted by Andy Newman 5 September, 2012 at 9:49 am

60.

Shame about Kate Hudson. Good riddance to Salma Yaqoob.

Posted by jock mctrousers 5 September, 2012 at 2:26 pm”

A few posters tried to caution restraint, but as the subsequent thread showed many male contributors couldn’t resist attacking their one time leader, In Defence Of George Galloway:

“15. Brave post Andy, in this atmosphere of liberal hysteria it is a revolutionary act to speak the truth. Salma Yaqoob’s stab in the back was not entirely unexpected and neither should her sometime soon ascension to New Labour be. Remember, you read it here. Kate Hudson’s is a stranger case. Politically promiscuous as her recent party-hopping has been one would’ve thought she would have been made of sterner stuff.

Posted by Molotov 5 September, 2012 at 6:19 pm

43. Tony, what’s happened here is that characters like Salma Yaqoob and Owen Jones have immediately capitulated to the US government’s agenda on this.

They’ve both taken the easy way of accepting the ruling class’s narrative here – “it’s about catching a rapist.”

This is because they’re both, in essence, the ruling class’s “pet left wingers” and this is where their instincts lead them.

Posted by Marko 5 September, 2012 at 9:04 pm”

There is a lot more, all exceedingly unpleasant.

I think what this tells us is, that women when they stand out, or go against a male dominated culture, will be denigrated and attacked. With Respect supporters like that, who needs enemies?

Across the blogosphere, there’s much speculation concerning Ms. Yaqoob’s future.

I do not see her joining the Labour Party, there is too much bad blood over Iraq, etc. Rather she might open an avenue for the Greens outside of their traditionally middle-class base.

For the Greens this would be a real coup, another MP and a broadening of their party. She and the Greens could fudge the politics to find some accord. In turn, the Greens would gain greater national publicity, new members and she would have the position of MP (or MEP).

Whatever happens, it has shown that last century’s Left are unwilling and incapable of dealing with the sexism, misogynistic thinking and vulgar geopolitics which epitomises much of their politics nowadays.

We should not forget, they are a product of a bygone age’s thinking and it shows in their attitudes towards women and reality.

Update 1: Liberal Conspiracy provides some intelligent and informative points on the dispute with Galloway:

“I’ve heard from multiple sources that the disagreement over George Galloway’s comments on rape was the final straw – not an abrupt decision based solely on that incident.

There have long been skirmishes and disagreements, including the persistent rumours that Salma was never really kept in the loop about the Bradford by-election.

Nevertheless, Salma Yaqoob held the Respect party together. She was a strong voice in the media and a popular local figure that rallied people to support the party.

With two women now the victim of Galloway’s refusal to admit he was wrong, this incident reinforces the obvious: George Galloway is only interested in promoting and supporting George Galloway.

He didn’t even bother to apologise or retract his comments to keep his party leader on side. That is how much of a team-player he is. He did nothing for the constituents of Tower Hamlets while he was an MP, and he will do nothing for the people of Bradford West. “

Update 2: George Galloway’s comments at the Bradford’s Muslim Women’s Forum, as reported by Liberal Conspiracy demonstrated that Salma Yaqoob must have had a great deal of patience with Galloway:

“‘Every word I said in my podcast I stand by.‘ #GeorgeGalloway talking to #Muslim women in #Bradford on his comments about #rape. ”

Update 3: A weak defence is put by Left Futures with talks of “witch hunt” rather than acknowledge Galloway’s many faults (supporting dictators, poor attitude towards women, taking £80,000 from Syrian TV channel, fronting very dodgy material on Press TV and his recent insults about disability, etc, etc):

“It is true that George has had much to answer for, of late. Not only what he said about rape but his failure to to acknowledge any error afterwards, in spite of the difficulties he had clearly caused his party. His intervention has made it harder for Julian Assange to have a fair hearing — for the British public, rape has now become the paramount issue. Of course, Assange must answer the rape charges but, even if he is guilty of those charges, he is entitled to protection from the wrath of the United States. “

Julian Assange, Rape And The Decline Of The Left

I thank Owen Jones for pointing me towards a hotbed of sexism, misogyny and rape apologists, the Socialist Unity blog.

Owen, characteristically, doesn’t want to criticise his fellow socialists so merely comments that it is, Socialism with heart cut out.

It leads to a thread, Time For The Left To Stand Up For Galloway.

Within it there are an appalling number of attacks on women who rejected George Galloway’s offensive remarks, that Assange’s conduct was not rape but “bad sexual etiquette”.

Both Salma Yaqoob and Kate Hudson, once allies of Galloway, have distanced themselves from his detestable comments. Yet for their principled stance they are attacked by their one-time comrades in nasty, sexist and demeaning language.

Still, amongst the mess on another thread, In Defence Of George Galloway, there is one thoughtful and non-sexist comment, which pulls the rug from under the paranoid and crazed at Socialist Unity blog:

“21. Who needs to attempt demonise Galloway, it’s not like anyone except for a few misogynistic men cannot see that he shoved his foot so far down his mouth that he can scratch his arse.

Galloway is a rape apologist and denier, he was the minute he tried to claim the allegations did not constitute rape in English courts, they do. The statements which I have read, describe acts that are considered rape, not “bad sexual etiquette”.

Also his attempts to “dissect” the behaviour of the women to “prove” they weren’t raped, also rape apology. Comments like that are why women don’t come forward, because people like Galloway will try to dissect and will HARM victims in an attempt to explain how no man could ever be a rapist.

Addressing the whole “But I’ve had sex like that with someone”, I am presuming whoever you did it with was someone you were in a long term relationship with and someone you could reasonably believe wouldn’t mind, which is quite different to the described situation in the statements.

Seriously, if Galloway and co believe that there is a US witch hunt against, they should be able to muster a better argument than rape apology and claiming that the alleged actions aren’t actually rape when in fact what is described in the statements is rape.

Bradley Manning’s treatment for being a traitor does not prove that the US is in any shape or form after Assange, Assange is not the only person in charge of Wikileaks, yet nobody seems to think they’ll chase anyone else.

In my personal opinion, all claims of persecution made by Assange have issues.

1. For starters prior to this issue, Assange was trying to gain Swedish Citizenship, if the US have been after him since 2010, why wasn’t it a concern then? All Sweden would have had to do was to give him citizenship and then hand him over. A simpler and easier plan.

2. What does Sweden get out of it, that they would spend their money and time pursing a man on the behalf of another nation? and get badmouthed to boot?

3. Why on earth would the US if it wanted someone that badly put together a plan that would involve a double extradition? Not only is it ridiculously complicated, but it means twice as much chance of failure.

Fact: The US could have just applied to the UK who would have handed him over quite readily.

4. If the US was so gungho to get him, the simplest option would be to “disappear” him, via kidnapping. Not a press circus, they’d be suspected by conspiracy theorists either way but they’d definitely have the guy and nobody would ever be able to prove that it was them.

The whole point of conspiracies is that nobody can prove shit, for this to be a conspiracy would make it a fucking stupid one.

5. For such a large and convoluted double extradition scheme to work? The US would have to suborn an awful lot of people, that alone could and probably would blow it in a second.

6. Since Sweden have gone to such efforts to chase him presumably because they do believe he did commit rape. Sweden are damn well going to charge him, after this, they cannot drop the charges, so the US would have to sit and twiddle their fingers while waiting on his jail sentence to finish if he’s convicted.

7. Lastly if we for arguments sake accept that the US felt that a very silly and unnecessarily convoluted scheme was the right way to grab him and they were willing to go that far? It is still perfectly possible that Assange is a rapist and the two women coming forward was a useful coincidence that is being taken advantage of.

Also “hysteria” has a sexist origin.

The problem isn’t believe Assange to be innocent, the problem is people arguing that X actions are not rape, when they are. The two women who have come forward have had their privacy violated, received threats and been publicly attacked, that is rape culture in action.

You want to believe that there’s a global conspiracy against Assange? Go right ahead, but come up with a plausible conspiracy angle that isn’t just another rape apology argument.

Posted by Dawn 5 September, 2012 at 7:32 pm “

Amid the detritus and sediment of male posturing that gem stood out as it dealt with the issues, logically, and showed the fatuous reasoning so often employed by Julian Assange’s supporters.

But when you read those threads it’s not surprising that people are turned off by politics given all of the idiocy, rank sexism and defamatory language found amongst these so-called socialists.

Finally, I can’t help thinking reading those terrible comments, with allies like that Assange and socialism don’t need any enemies. Women’s rights are denigrated when male socialists seek to shift blame from perpetrators to the victims of rape. Women can’t rely on male socialists willing to drop every conceivable principle because of political expediency or the supposed need to defend another faulty male leader.

This shallow approach to politics and principles is part of the reason that the Left has declined, where ends are constantly dragged out to justify means. Who wants to be around such calculating and manipulative politics? No one, and certainly not women.

Update 1: I should have pointed out earlier, but both of those threads at Socialist Unity blog were closed for comments after a comparatively short period of time.

Update 2: One blogger persisted and was eventually banned:

“So when I pointed out that the reasons that these things happened over, and over AND OVER again – because women who raised sexual assaults, and the narratives that sustained them were silenced, I was banned from the site. I was banned from the site because I stated that someone who thought that rape was acceptable behaviour was a potential rapist. I was shut off from the site because it “shut him down”. I wasn’t allowed to contribute because it made a potential rapist feel like he “couldn’t contribute”.

I don’t know how I feel about getting banned from the cesspit of the left. There is a bit of me that is quite happy to let them roll around in their own stinking shite, but on the other hand, I’m well aware of the pollution that it generates well beyond its boundaries. Pollution that generally ends up infecting the bodies of female comrades. “

Paralympics: George Osborne booed

Getting booed at the Paralympics must be the highlight of George Osborne’s murky career:

Nye Bevan had it right:

“That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through. But, I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying now. “

Update 1: Huff Post contrasts Gordon Brown’s reception with that of Osborne’s.

Update 2: Even Cameron was jeered.

Update 3: Very little mainstream media coverage, but Sky News has it.

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.”

(more…)

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. “

(more…)

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.

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.

Rounding Up Racism, Misogyny And Craig Murray

In Australia, there is no shortage of Far Right headbangers:

“The Australian Protectionist Party firebrand joins a growing number of controversial far-right candidates chasing the xenophobic vote at next month’s council elections.

Australia First, the anti-immigration party hoping to fill the political void left by One Nation, is running 23 candidates across western and south Sydney and the Blue Mountains, up from 15 at the last council poll.

The party’s website takes aim at the Channel Ten program The Shire and its sprinkling of ethnic characters, labelling it ”media contrived assimilation”. Several candidates attempt to link urban sprawl and rate increases to immigration.

The artist Sergio Redegalli, who painted the controversial ”Say no to burqas” sign outside his Newtown workshop, is making a first-time bid for Marrickville Council as an independent.

Mr Folkes, 42, an industrial painter from Rozelle, wants Leichhardt council declared a ”sharia-free zone” and would scrap council grants to multicultural groups.
”There is a vacuum in politics at the moment. We believe that a lot of people, in time, will definitely vote for us,” he said.

History indicates that day is a long way off. Mr Folkes attracted 289 votes, or 0.6 per cent of the vote, when he ran as an independent for the seat of Balmain last year.

A University of Western Sydney immigration expert, Kevin Dunn, said only 12 per cent of Australians held negative views towards cultural diversity and that anti-immigration candidates typically polled badly.

But their agendas could influence council decisions on issues such as building mosques or religious schools, especially during times of national unrest over boat arrivals.”

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Why Not Interview Assange in London? The Answer!

The often asked question by Assange apologists and excusers is:

#Assange must answer sex claims. But first he must be interviewed by Swedes. Why not do this in UK? Swedes interview other suspects abroad “

The answer is to be found in the Assange judgment:

“142. Mr Assange contended prior to the hearing before the Senior District Judge that the warrant had been issued for the purpose of questioning Mr Assange rather than prosecuting him and that he was not accused of an offence. In response to that contention, shortly before that hearing, Mrs Ny provided a signed statement dated 11 February 2011 on behalf of the Prosecutor:

“6. A domestic warrant for [Julian Assange's] arrest was upheld [on] 24 November 2010 by the Court of Appeal, Sweden. An arrest warrant was issued on the basis that Julian Assange is accused with probable cause of the offences outlined on the EAW.

7. According to Swedish law, a formal decision to indict may not be taken at the stage that the criminal process is currently at. Julian Assange’s case is currently at the stage of “preliminary investigation”. It will only be concluded when Julian Assange is surrendered to Sweden and has been interrogated.

8. The purpose of a preliminary investigation is to investigate the crime. provide underlying material on which to base a decision concerning prosecution and prepare the case so that all evidence can be presented at trial. Once a decision to indict has been made, an indictment is filed with the court. In the case of a person in pre-trial detention, the trial must commence within 2 weeks. Once started, the trial may not be adjourned. It can, therefore be seen that the formal decision to indict is made at an advanced stage of the criminal proceedings. There is no easy analogy to be drawn with the English criminal procedure. I issued the EAW because I was satisfied that there was substantial and probable cause to accuse Julian Assange of the offences.

9. It is submitted on Julian Assange’s behalf that it would be possible for me to interview him by way of Mutual Legal Assistance. This is not an appropriate course in Assange’s case. The preliminary investigation is at an advanced stage and I consider that is necessary to interrogate Assange, in person, regarding the evidence in respect of the serious allegations made against him.

10. Once the interrogation is complete. it may be that further questions need to be put to witnesses or the forensic scientists. Subject to any matters said by him, which undermine my present view that he should be indicted, an indictment will be lodged with the court thereafter. It can therefore be seen that Assange is sought for the purpose of conducting criminal proceedings and that he is not sought merely to assist with our enquiries.”

(H/T: David Allen Green)

Update 1: This useful post expands on the issues:

“It is not true that Assange is only wanted for questioning. The next step in the Swedish proceedings is to conduct a second interview with him before making a decision whether to formally charge him. The prosecutor is presently disposed to charge him, unless any new evidence emerges that might change her mind.

If a decision is taken to formally charge him, Assange would face trial within two weeks of that decision being made. It is difficult to see how this could happen if the final interview takes place in the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge. Even if he were interviewed in the embassy, if a decision was then taken to formally charge him, it is somewhat difficult to believe that Assange would suddenly renounce his claim to asylum in Ecuador.

In these circumstances it is difficult to see why Sweden would or should agree to interview Assange in London rather than continue to push for extradition so that they can follow their usual procedures in due course. No other fugitive from justice gets to bargain with the authorities about the way in which their case will be dealt with. I don’t see why Assange should be any different. “

Julian Assange: A Misogyny Round Up.

I shouldn’t have to do this, but I thought with all of the nonsense, abuse and spite which is being flung around in defence of Julian Assange, it seemed best to do a misogyny round up, of sorts.

If readers know of any good commentary, intelligent, not full of slippery obfuscation or Assange apologists please let me know inthesoupagain@gmail.com or comment below.

Assange’s abuse of the refugee system is highlighted at the Legal Feminist blog:

“However, on the particular subject of Assange’s asylum claim, I’m staggered that it succeeded. Had it been made by a (non rich, non white, non celebrity) in the UK it would almost certainly not have done.

When a person applies for asylum they must show that there is a ‘real risk’ that they will face persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group. Assange had said he feared the death penalty in America. However, America has not asked for him, despite the fact that he was more easily extraditable from the UK than he would have been from Sweden. I can’t imagine how he would show that Sweden would hand him over, in contravention of the ECHR to which they are a signatory, to face the death penalty. I don’t even think that he can show the Swedish case is persecutory, unless Sweden is the most incompetent agent of persecution in the world; the prospects of a conviction for rape are just too low. If they’d wanted to lock him up they’d have taken a leaf out of certain other countries’ books and charged him with a hugely complex fraud, bolstered with faked figures.

I think this makes a mockery of the Refugee Convention. There are refugees in the UK who genuinely need asylum and can’t get it, because they can’t prove their cases to the requisite standard. Still, let’s hope this wave of pro-asylum-seeker feeling translates into more sympathetic consideration of others’ claims.”

Cath Elliott on Assange, and feminism’s so-called male allies:

“That’s the narrative that suggests that Assange’s two accusers are part of some CIA inspired honey-trap and that the great man himself is the only victim here – a victim of some dark and covert plot. It’s also a narrative that says, yet again, that women who accuse men of rape are not to be believed, and that the rights of important men doing important work should trump a woman’s right to justice.

Declaring a man to be innocent of rape and other crimes of sexual violence, purely on the grounds that he’s been engaged in important work that many of us would like to see continued, while discounting women’s testimonies and women’s concerns in the process, is just the same old same old, men protecting men protecting men. What a shame then that in any other context so many of those men would be declaring themselves our comrades and feminist allies.”

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Wojdan Shaherkani And The Olympics

I confess a rather limited interest in the London 2012 Olympics but I had been looking forward to seeing Wojdan Shaherkani compete.

I am glad she came to London 2012 but there is a wider significant, as the WSJ explains:

“But the rapid defeat didn’t detract from the bout’s significance: Shaherkani became the first woman to compete for Saudi Arabia in the Olympics—a breakthrough moment in the ultraconservative kingdom.

After the match, speaking through a Saudi judo official who translated her brief remarks to a hoard of dozens of reporters, she said she was “excited, very proud” of her ground-breaking appearance. Speaking on the sidelines after the fight, her coach, Mohamed Elsayed Sabeia, said in an interview that it was a “momentous” occasion.

She showed up wearing a white judo robe and black cloth wrapped tightly around her head. Her opponent was Melissa Mojica, one of the world’s top judoka in the heavyweight category.

Shaherkani had never participated in an international judo bout. She was invited to the Olympics in a symbolic attempt to strike a blow for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. The country prohibits women from playing sports in front of mixed audiences of men and women, and Saudi schools generally don’t provide girls with physical education.

Before the fight, some other judo fighters worried that Shaherkani wasn’t qualified to compete and suggested it could be dangerous for her to square off against Olympic athletes in the violent sport.

Those concerns faded quickly when the bout got under way. Shaherkani used a defensive strategy, trying to deflect Mojica’s advances. She succeeded a few times before Mojica grabbed hold of her and swung her to the ground. That ended the match. “

Mitt Romney On Twitter

Mitt Romney is being pulled apart by the British media and on Twitter under the hastag #RomneyShambles

There are far too many good contributions, but these struck me as about right:

SheSheGo ‏@SheSheGo

At this point, Mitt Romney is making George W. Bush and Sara Palin look like Rhodes Scholars. #RomneyShambles

Michael Pacholek ‏@MichaelPacholek

When Boris Johnson looks smart and sane by comparison, you know your trip to Britain is in #RomneyShambles.

Organic Democrat ‏@organicdemocrat

#RomneyShambles The sad part is that @MittRomney was up all night learning his lines for his meeting with PM.

DR ‏@pollbuster

#romneyshambles: More Romney fallout: ‘Apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity’ and this was one of the better reactions.”

If readers see any other good ones, please let me know.

Even the America media are getting in on the act.

Update 1: Vanity Fair covers it:

“Mitt Romney’s disaster of a European vacation continues to implode. In an Olympic ceremony in Hyde Park this afternoon, London mayor Boris Johnson mocked Romney’s earlier gaffe—Disconcerting-gate—and Romney’s dumb name. “There’s guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!” Did Johnson make air quotes with his hands when he said “Mitt Romney”? “

Update 2: The NY times touches on his real reason for visiting London:

“Although Mr. Romney hasn’t won over the British Prime Minister or the British Olympic Committee, at least some Londoners seem to have embraced the Republican candidate. The Telegraph reported yesterday that executives at Barclay’s—the bank that paid a huge fine over the Libor scandal–have donated $1 million to Mr. Romney. (All American citizens?) The Guardian said there is a fundraiser for him tonight in Mayfair for between $50,000 and $75,000 a ticket.

Update 3: Time haven’t missed out either.

TPM points to the real issue, money:

“With his London visit mired in controversy, Mitt Romney is also facing criticism for taking money from individuals implicated in an ongoing banking scandal.
Barclays executives have donated over $1 million to Romney’s campaign, according to the Guardian, and many are expected to be in attendance at Thursday’s fundraiser, raising eyebrows on both sides of the pond.”

Update 4: It’s on the BBC too.

Update 5: With the Huff Post picking it up I can’t wait for the YouTube spoofs to appear.

Politicus USA hasn’t missed out the comparison, Romney in Shambles as Britain Proclaims Him Worse than Sarah Palin.

Update 6: Romney and vanity go together rather well, as the Salt Lake City Olympics commemorative badges (pins for American readers) demonstrates.

Update 7: Over at the Atlantic, The Best of #romneyshambles.

Update 8: Romney gaffes in full.

The WSJ’s Romney’s Not-So-Secret Meeting With MI6.

No gold medal for Mitt Romney from British press.

From 2007, Mitt Romney: I won’t let US go the way of UK.

Mitt Romney’s Olympics blunder stuns No 10 and hands gift to Obama.