The London demonstrations yesterday, where a reported 500,000 people took to the streets to protest the austerity cuts, will not change government strategy according to Liberal democrat minister Vince Cable. "No government - coalition, Labour or any other - would change its fundamental economic policy simply in response to a demonstration of that kind," he said.
Police arrested 201 people and charged 149 according to the BBC. Police reported that 145 of the arrests were in connection with the group UK Uncut, which occupied luxury grocery store Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly in protest over alleged tax avoidance by the business's part owners. BBC is reporting 84 injuries, including at least 31 police, with 11 officers requiring hospital treatment.
Debate: This House believes whistleblowers make the world a safer place
On 9 April, the Frontline Club and the New Statesman will host a public debate in which Julian Assange will speak for the proposition "This House believes whistleblowers make the world a safer place."
The debate will be chaired by Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman; other panelists have yet to be announced. The event will be held at Kensington Town Hall at 5 pm GMT; it is already fully booked but should be both livetweeted and filmed.
Rob Stary, Australian lawyer for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks: interview
Last week the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance (WACA) posted the video of an interview they did with Rob Stary, Julian Assange's lawyer in Australia, before the WikiLeaks Free Speech Forum in Melbourne on 4 February.
Some of the interview focuses on legal and political issues particular to Australia. More generally, however, Stary challenges the claims of a number of governments that their legal manoeuvres against Assange and/or WikiLeaks are unaffected by politics. His analysis of the international interplay between law and politics is a fine summary of the state of play so far.
Call to Action in support of Julian Assange / WikiLeaks in Monday's London Extradition Hearing
Auto-emailing United Kingdom media, their Embassy and Consulates in support of Julian in his extradition hearing. There are 5 individual identical emails each with 25 addresses. PLEASE sign all 5. Click here to go there.
Next: We got Obasanjo to anoint Yar'Adua, says Saraki
"Contrary to the belief that former President Olusegun Obasanjo personally hand-picked late President Umaru Yar'Adua as his successor, a United States diplomatic cable obtained by Wikileaks and made available exclusively to NEXT, has detailed how a group of governors led by Bukola Saraki, the Kwara State governor, worked behind the scene to pressure Mr. Obasanjo into anointing the former Katsina State governor as his replacement.
No other person than Mr. Saraki himself gave the account of the political intrigues that threw up the late president to a former US Consul General, Brian Browne."
Aftenposten: MP CRITICIZES JAPANESE NUCLEAR PLANS
"Lower House Diet Member Taro Kono voiced his strong opposition to the nuclear industry in Japan, especially nuclear reprocessing, based on issues of cost, safety, and security during a dinner with a visiting staffdel, Energy Attache and Economic Officer October 21. Kono also criticized the Japanese bureaucracy and power companies for continuing an outdated nuclear energy strategy, suppressing development of alternative energy, and keeping information from Diet members and the public. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the current election campaign law."
Aftenposten: CLIMATE CHANGE: EMISSION IMPOSSIBLE: NPP SHUTDOWN EXACERBATES JAPAN´S KYOTO TARGET BIND
Next: Yar’Adua asked Ibori to turn himself in, says Saraki
"Disturbed by the waning bilateral relations between Nigeria and the US government over the perceived lack of vigour in the anti-corruption fight, late President Umaru Yar’Adua asked James Ibori, the corrupt former governor of Delta State, to turn himself in to the British Metropolitan Police.
According to a U.S. diplomatic cable, made available to NEXT, Bukola Saraki, Kwara State governor, a close friend of Mr. Ibori and confidant of Mr. Yar’Adua, said this in a chat with former US ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders."
Next: ‘We blocked Obasanjo, Babangida’s candidates for PDP chair’
"The emergence of Vincent Ogbulafor as National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2008 was a result of deft political manoeuvring and intense power play among three former Nigerian presidents which saw the camp of late President Umaru Yar’Adua triumphing, according to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable made available to NEXT.
Bukola Saraki, the Kwara State governor, told former U.S ambassador, Robin Sanders, during a meeting on September 22, 2008 that he used his powerful position as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to help Mr. Yar’Adua’s anointed candidate emerge victorious."
The Telegraph: US feared British 'sharia banks' would finance terrorist groups
"Britain's enthusiastic support for "sharia banking" raised concerns in Washington that the City of London could become a centre of terrorist funding, leaked documents show.
Financial reforms pushed through by the Labour government allowed Islamic banks to flourish in Britain, amassing assets valued at more than £12 billion."
The Telegraph: US feared British 'sharia banks' would finance terrorist groups
"Japan was warned more than two years ago by the international nuclear watchdog that its nuclear power plants were not capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes, leaked diplomatic cables reveal.
An official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a "serious problem" for nuclear power stations."
La Jornada: EU rechaza que Josefina Reyes haya sido asesinada debido a su activismo (EU rejects that Josefina Reyes has been killed because of her activism)
"Señala en un cable que el homicidio es producto de "sus vínculos" con delincuentes. (It is pointed out in a cable that the murder is product of "ties" with criminals.)"
La Jornada: Por "insistencia" de EU se relegó al Ejército de la lucha antinarco en Juárez (By "insistence" of EU was relegated the fighting anti-narco army in Juárez)
"Cables revelan la "colaboración" estadunidense para dejar al frente a la PF. (Cables reveal U.S. "collaboration" to give control to the Federal Police.)"
La Jornada: PGR y SG pidieron ayuda a EU para enfocar la lucha en dos ciudades (SG [Secretary of Government] and PGR [General Police of the Republic] sought for help from U.S. to focus on the struggle of two cities)
"Calderón "se juega su reputación" en el combate al crimen organizado, afirmaron". (Calderón "is staking its reputation" in the fight against organized crime, they said.)
El País: EE UU cree que Lugo carece de apoyos para gobernar Paraguay (The United States believes that Lugo lacks support to govern Paraguay)
"El presidente de Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, comenzó a gobernar en el año 2008 con serias turbulencias y maniobras desestabilizadoras de la oposición, que a los pocos meses de la investidura imputó al exobispo impericia, favoritismo, la promoción de la lucha de clases y le culpó por la inseguridad ciudadana y el estancamiento político. (The president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, began to rule in 2008 with serious disturbances and destabilizing maneuvers of the opposition, which a few months after the inauguration accused the ex-bishop of incompetence, favoritism, the promotion of fights between classes and blamed him about the insecurity and political stalemate.)"
(Image Credit: Dali Rău)
Next: Yar’Adua made me acting President, says Yayale
"As his health failed late president Umaru Yar’Adua illegally bypassed his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, and handed presidential authority to Yayale Ahmed, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
This unconstitutional act has now come to light through US diplomatic cables leaked to Wikileaks and made available exclusively to NEXT."
Next: Buhari says speaker’s comments confirm his fears
"Two parties who went to court over the 2007 presidential elections, Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday reacted to comments credited to Speaker Dimeji Bankole that the late president, Musa Yar’Adua, bribed Supreme Court justices to swing the judgment in his favour. While Mr. Abubakar, the candidate of the opposition Action Congress in the election, maintained that the speaker of the House of Representatives’s comment had disgraced Nigeria, Mr. Buhari, the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, said the revelation had vindicated his stand that the nation’s judiciary could not be trusted, and therefore needed a thorough overhaul."
Der Spiegel: EADS-Manager verspotteten Kollegen vor US-Diplomaten (EADS managers colleagues mocked U.S. diplomats)
This date, March 19, 2011, marks the beginning of the ninth year of the US war in Iraq. The war, which began in 2003 with a bombing campaign of “shock and awe," has for years been more of an occupation than a war. Despite the fact that many believe the war is over (especially Americans), the US still has 47,000 troops in Iraq and, despite a 2011 withdrawal date, will likely continue to have tens of thousands of soldiers based in Iraq for years to come.
The past year has seen the world learn a great deal about the US war and occupation of Iraq. With the WikiLeaks release of US State Cables, the Iraq War Logs, and a “Collateral Murder” video showing US soldiers firing on journalists and innocent civilians from an Apache helicopter, the criminal nature of the war and occupation has become more evident. To mark the end of eight years of US troops in Iraq and the beginning of a ninth year, it is worth noting the many revelations on Iraq that have become known thanks to WikiLeaks.
On October 22, 2010, 390,000 field reports, which became known as the Iraq War Logs, showed the regular use of abuse, brutality and torture used on Iraqis by Iraqi Police and Iraqi Security Forces. The logs revealed, despite US claims, a tracking of civilian deaths had been going on, and, in fact, 66,000 civilian deaths (15,000 which were previously unknown) had occurred.
WL Central published an article two days ago, outlining the extraordinarily heavy handed redaction by the Guardian of a Bulgarian cable. Wikileaks tweeted the article, saying it was "Another very serious example of the Guardian "cable cooking" in violation of WikiLeaks agreements". Guardian investigations editor David Leigh responded with "@wikileaks Another stupid lie from #Assange alleging 'cable censorship' by #Guardian, (stuck with UK libel laws as he knows). What a liar!"
Wikileaks did not however, accuse the Guardian of cable censorship, they accused them of "cable cooking". A closer inspection of what happened in this one instance of cable redaction by the Guardian indicates that the Wikileaks description was closer to the mark. In fact, an examination of this document brings a feeling that the world will be in for Cablegate 2.0 when we finally get to see these cables without Guardian redaction.
The redaction on this particular cable is best shown here. The parts redacted by the Guardian are in green.
Human Rights Watch has issued a statement demanding that the US government explain the "extremely restrictive and possibly punitive and degrading treatment" of PFC Bradley Manning in pre-trial detention at Quantico Marine base in Virginia:
According to regulations governing operation of the brig issued by the secretary of the Navy, when a prisoner has been assessed to no longer pose a suicide risk by a medical officer they should be returned to appropriate quarters. According to a complaint filed by Manning, on 16 occasions military mental health professionals recommended that he be removed from POI status. While Manning's complaint was made public by his lawyer, the brig commander has not released the brig's formal response to his allegations. If Manning agrees to the release of medical or mental health information that would otherwise be confidential to protect his privacy, the government should immediately make public its rationale for his continued POI status.
... The new charges filed against Manning, for which the death penalty is possible, include aiding the enemy, even though Manning allegedly provided documents to WikiLeaks, not an agent of a government or armed group at war with the US. The removal of Manning's underwear during the evenings began the same day the additional charges were filed.
The language of the HRW statement approaches that of the ACLU's warning that Manning's treatment may be unconstitutional, as we reported here. That report has been updated with news of Ann Clwyd's question in the House of Commons today, the leader's lack of objection to her comparison between Manning's situation and that of prisoners at Guantanamo, and a transcript and video of Clwyd's exchange yesterday in committee with Foreign Minister William Hague.
Update: Ann Clwyd MP's question today, 17 March, in the Commons, on the turn
MP Ann Clwyd (L-Cynon Valley) today raised the question of the treatment of PFC Bradley Manning at the Quantico military base in Virginia with the foreign secretary, William Hague, during his testimony before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. (The exchange between Clwyd and Hague appears in the last several minutes here.)
Although Hague stood on legal formalities in his reply -- he cannot take a position without Manning's consent; Manning has stated that he does not consider himself a UK citizen; and it is up to Manning's US lawyer to seek redress of any treatment he considers unlawful -- he made one significant concession. At the close of his remarks he said voluntarily that the concerns of UK citizens about Manning's treatment would be brought to US diplomatic attention because they had been raised in a parliamentary committee.
Earlier in the day, an interview with Manning's friend David House, who has been talking to support networks in the UK this week, was published in the Guardian.
Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreyev, who helped with cleanup in the aftermath of Chernobyl, said on March 16, “The Japanese were very greedy, and they used every square inch of the space. But when you have a dense placing of spent fuel in the basin, you have a high possibility of fire if the water is removed from the basin.” His comments came as Japan faces a growing nuclear disaster with nuclear reactors leaking and radiation plumes discharging into the atmosphere.
Andreyev put the blame on corporations and United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, saying they had “willfully ignor[ed] lessons from the world's worst nuclear accident 25 years ago to protect the industry's expansion.” He condemned the nuclear industry for ensuring Chernobyl was not studied properly.
Japan has been scrambling to contain a nuclear catastrophe ever since an 8.9 earthquake struck last week. As of Wednesday, March 16, a helicopter was unable to drop water on “the most troubled reactor” in the country. Workers left the power plant briefly as radiation levels increased.
In 2007, twelve power companies “admitted to thousands of irregularities in reporting past problems.” Japanese citizens began to resist the building of new nuclear reactors. They pushed for legal actions to suspend operations. Now, US State Cables released by WikiLeaks, which are being published by the Telegraph and The Guardian, further affirm that some sort of coverup has been going on.
UPDATE: Unedited podcast is posted.
This week’s guest is Debra Sweet. She is the Director of World Can't Wait, initiated in 2005 to "drive out the Bush regime" by repudiating its program, forcing it from office through a mass, independent movement and reversing the direction it had launched. Based in New York City, she leads World Can't Wait in its continuing efforts to stop the crimes of our government, including the unjust occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the torture and detention codes, as well as reversing the fascist direction of U.S. society, from the surveillance state to the criminalization of abortion and immigrants.
To mark the eighth anniversary of the Iraq War, Sweet discusses some of the revelations that have come from WikiLeaks on the Iraq War thanks to Cablegate and the Iraq War Logs and the "Collateral Murder" video.
Sweet addresses how WikiLeaks revelations on the wars are fueling antiwar resistance in America. She will highlight upcoming actions on March 19 and 20 in the United States to oppose ongoing US wars and occupations and to support Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower being held at Quantico Marine Brig in Virginia.
Following Sweet’s interview, some time was spent doing a roundup on some of the past week’s news related to WikiLeaks. The milestone that was reached this week, the 100th Day of Cablegate, was recounted.
To listen to the podcast, click play on the widget below. Or, go to CMN News.
Rep. Peter King of New York, who held the first in a series of hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community on March 10, has a well-known position on WikiLeaks: It’s terrorism. He urged the Treasury Department in January 2011 “to add WikiLeaks and its founder Jullian Assange to the Specially Designated National and Blocked Persons List (SDN List).”
His letter to the Treasury Department explains his opinion, “The U.S. government simply cannot continue its ineffective piecemeal approach of responding in the aftermath of Wikileaks’ damage. The Administration must act to disrupt the Wikileaks enterprise. The U.S. government should be making every effort to strangle the viability of Assange’s organization.”
Presumably, King would like to see WikiLeaks “strangled” in the way that the Committee on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) is being cracked down on by the FBI. King explicitly called for Muslim-Americans to reject CAIR, which he said “was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorist financing case involving the Holyland Foundation.”
In the leadup to this hearing I found it shocking and sad that the mainstream media accepted CAIR’s accusations as if it were a legitimate organization. Thankfully, FBI Director Mueller has ordered the FBI to cease all dealings and contact with CAIR. I would hope that all law enforcement officials would follow the lead of the FBI Director.
Julian Assange has agreed to address the Cambridge Union on 15 March, reports the student paper The Tab.
The Union, officially the Cambridge Union Society, is a debating society founded in 1815 and is distinct from the student union. In addition to its weekly debates, it welcomes distinguished speakers from around the world.
The event will be open to Union members only. There is no word yet whether it might be otherwise transmitted.
Via @MarksLarks on Twitter
Authored by Tony Kevin, former Australian Diplomat.
Chillingly, inexorably, the lifepaths of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning are converging.
Not yet in the sense that Manning’s US military torturers hope for, with a desired confession by him whether true or falsely coerced of prior collaboration with Assange to pass US classified intelligence material to Wikileaks. Either would satisfy them, because even a false and forced confession, that could be later disavowed by Manning in court, could be enough in the US judicial system to trigger a valid US secret grand jury arrest warrant for Assange’s extradition to the US. Such a warrant could be served either on the UK or Swedish governments, depending on where Assange was at the time.
More broadly, their stories are appropriately coming together now as stories of two young national heroes, one American and one Australian, who are putting their lives on the line now for the sake of defending the principle of individual moral accountability for the actions of their national states that profess to share similar political values. This principle has been variously expressed by many political leaders and thinkers, of which a few examples here will suffice. I am sure an Obama quotation could be readily found to add to this short list:
US founding father Benjamin Franklin, in 1792 - … a nation as a society forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.
Martin Luther King at the height of his US civil rights struggle - Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
The following brief was submitted to the meeting outlined here by WL Central: On 2nd March 2011 at 9.15am a meeting was held, organised by Andrew Laming (Liberal Party MP Bowman Qld) at Parliament House Canberra to allow federal parliamentarians who wished to attend, some insights into the matters of Julian Assange facing extradition from the UK to Sweden, and facing (subject to that extradition process) a possible trial in Sweden and another possible extradition to the USA thereafter.
Among others, MPs Andrew Laming, Malcolm Turnbull, Doug Cameron and Sarah Hanson-Young were in attendance, along with parliamentary staff members.
Three speakers made themselves available for oral presentations and questions: Greg Barns, barrister from Tasmania; former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin and Peter Kemp solicitor from NSW, the latter two made written material available for the parliamentarians reprinted here with their permission.
The following brief was submitted to the meeting by Jennifer Robinson of the firm Finers Stephens Innocent. She is part of the legal team representing Julian Assange in the extradition proceedings requested by Sweden.
Jennifer Robinson's biography.
1. I am writing to you to provide a briefing for the meeting of members of Federal Parliament on Wednesday 2 March 2011 regarding the case against Julian Assange. This briefing note sets out the timeline of events and the human rights concerns that we have raised in relation to Julian's case in Sweden.
On 2nd March 2011 at 9.15am a meeting was held, organised by Andrew Laming (Liberal Party MP Bowman Qld) at Parliament House Canberra to allow federal parliamentarians who wished to attend, some insights into the matters of Julian Assange facing extradition from the UK to Sweden, and facing (subject to that extradition process) a possible trial in Sweden and another possible extradition to the USA thereafter.
Among others, MPs Andrew Laming, Malcolm Turnbull, Doug Cameron and Sarah Hanson-Young were in attendance, along with parliamentary staff members.
Three speakers made themselves available for oral presentations and questions: Greg Barns, barrister from Tasmania; former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin and Peter Kemp, solicitor from NSW. The latter two made written material available for the parliamentarians, reprinted below with their permission. Written material was also provided by Jennifer Robinson, UK counsel for the Julian Assange. That material is reprinted with permission here.
After short addresses by each of the three speakers, the meeting was opened for questions and summaries of each speaker in the proceedings appears below, after biographies.
The following is a chat that recently took place on the Swedish news website Aftonbladet with Julian Assange. Assange talks about his trial, the possibility of extradition to the United States, why he thinks he won't get a fair trial in Sweden, how WikiLeaks is faring currently, whether WikiLeaks will go on if he is found guilty and sentenced to jail, and more. Here it is re-published in full.
El País: EE UU veía al actual jefe de las FARC como el hombre más dispuesto a firmar la paz (U.S. saw the current head of the FARC as a man more willing to make peace)
"Alfonso Cano, el jefe de las guerrillas de las FARC, el hombre más buscado de Colombia, anda estos días con el Ejército pisándole los talones. El presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, declaró el jueves 17 de febrero que los militares andan "respirándole en la nuca". Poco tiene que ver ahora este Alfonso Cano con el que ingresó en la guerrilla a finales de los setenta y se hizo un hueco entre sus dirigentes cuando Manuel Marulanda, alias Tirofijo, ejercía de jefe indiscutible en la montaña. En aquella época Alfonso Cano era la persona en la que Estados Unidos depositaba sus esperanzas de paz, según confirman los documentos del Departamento de Estado filtrados por Wikileaks. (Alfonso Cano, the leader of the guerrillas of the FARC, Colombia's most wanted man, come these days with the army at his heels. The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday Feb. 17 that the military walk "breathing down your neck." Has little to do now this Alfonso Cano with the one who joined the guerrillas in the late seventies and obtained his position between the leaders when Manuel Marulanda, alias "Sureshot", was the undisputed boss on the mountain. At that time, Alfonso Cano was the person in which the United States deposited their hopes for peace, as confirmed by State Department documents leaked by Wikileaks.)"
The world watches in horror as peaceful protesters particularly in Libya and Bahrain (but also in Iraq and elsewhere) are attacked by police or military forces using live ammunition. Even worse, in Bahrain, firstly at the Pearl Roundabout, not only did those armed forces prevent many injured from being removed from the streets for medical attention, they beat up the paramedics attempting to remove those injured. Here are graphic videos at Wikileaks Central the first of which is another Bahrani incident, (horrific scenes of dead and dying).
There are other incidents not necessarily confirmed but wholly consistent with orders for security forces to use extreme force and deny medical attention to the wounded, including removing the injured from hospital.
In Libya, Human Rights Watch reports at least 84 dead in several cities:
Muammar Gaddafi's security forces are firing on Libyan citizens and killing scores simply because they're demanding change and accountability. Libyan authorities should allow peaceful protesters to have their say.