At least 40 injured and Rome left billowing in smoke after anti-austerity protesters clash with riot police in front of Parliament for over two hours tonight.
After weeks of dithering on the precipice of his own downfall, Silvio Berlusconi tonight survived a crucial vote of confidence, by one of the narrowest possible margins, allowing his government it to push through its proposed package of deeply unpopular austerity measures.
The cutbacks and tax hikes had been demanded by the European Central Bank in exchange for its buy-up of Italian bonds on secondary markets, after markets turned their sights on Italy last month, pushing the government’s borrowing costs close to the level where Greece had previously required an EU bailout.
But as Parliament prepared to vote on the austerity measures, violent clashes broke out between protesters and riot police. Downtown Rome was left billowing in smoke and littered with debris as at least 40 protesters were injured by random rounds of police baton charges.
This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.
09:30 PM In The Patriot Act and the End of the Rule of Law, Charles Lugosi of Lugosi Law Firm PLC explains how ‘the Patriot Act and criminal sanctions placed on whistleblowers violates the Constitution and fundamentally challenges the legitimacy of the rule of law and American democracy’.
"Outdated assumptions of media power and wealth no longer apply today. Profit and the desire to influence may still motivate organized institutional media controlled by magnates like Rupert Murdoch, but unorganized individuals, through websites and social networking, can expose injustice and raise the conscious awareness of the public to worthy causes and crusades. To attain this end, access to information is critical, yet it is often not legally available. This is why Private Bradley Manning chose to break the law by giving WikiLeaks information that the government refused to release in the name of national security.", he writes.
Lugosi also cites editor of the Advocate, Christopher Harvey:
"We are of the view that Assange, love him, loathe him or remain indifferent to him, deserves the protections guaranteed by the rule of law. Anything less undermines the very foundation of the Western society."
As any keen observer must have noticed, the world-wide social turmoil of the last year is closely linked with the availability of information, or in other words, the stark quest for transparency with which corrupt Governments and corporations around the globe have suddenly come face to face with. As philosopher Slavoj Žižek recently put it in a debate held in London with Julian Assange and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman : “We may all know that the emperor is naked, but the moment somebody publicly says the emperor is naked: everything changes.
In this massive uncovering Wikileaks’ Cablegate has played a crucial role, not only providing an ongoing stream of secret information to the general public, but by showing that a better society, one working efficiently to reach its true idealistic goals, absolutely needs transparency. In an interview with Forbes Assange used a clear metaphor to illustrate the effects of transparency in a society by comparing them to those that would occur in a market situation: “To put it simply, in order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information”, he also added that “WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical”. In other words if a Government is to work efficiently to achieve the goals it was elected for, citizens need clear and accurate reports on their leader’s actions; if they are failing to comply then they will be forced to do so by the general electorate. It is not to be implied, however, that Wikileaks and their sudden irruption in the scene have caused all the unrest directly: the emperor was already naked, they just called it out publicly and on a huge scale.
According to Italian CABLE 08ROME1231, “The Alitalia airline must remain Italian,” is what PM Silvio Berlusconi said during the spring 2008 election campaign.
The cost of saving Alitalia versus the return did not matter . After the Air France KLM deal collapsed, Berlusconi was under political pressure to keep Alitalia.
The solution sounded clear: convince a group of wealthy Italian businessmen to commit to rescuing the airline and preserving Italy’s flagship carrier.
The 16 investors - not all personally or politically close to Berlusconi, but receiving his favors - formed CAI (Compagnia Aerea Italiana) and followed a plan of purchase designed by the Italian bank, Intesa Sanpaolo.
Debts amounted to 1 billion euro, yet CAI still flies over Italian skies Rome/Milan route and other intra-Italy routes at high cost altitude.
As the main camps in Puerta del Sol (Madrid) and Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona) prepare to pack their tents and leave on Sunday, organizers have started to spread their message to the rest of Europe. From the beginning the Internet was abuzz with proposals of a European revolution or a #globalcamp, and for that purpose thousands of blogs and independent websites have been opening, planting the roots of the protests happening now in over twenty major cities in France, Italy (full agenda and aditional information in English here) and Portugal. Greece has also taken the streets and an estimated 30 thousand people are protesting outside of Athen's Parliament as we can see from this live feed. Here you can find a live streaming of the General Assembly in Paris.
The UK's Independent is reporting from an Eritrean priest who tracks migrants across the Mediterranean that the bodies of murdered African migrants have been washing ashore in Libya. Father Mussie Zerai, who is in Rome, says that his contacts in Tripoli have seen five bodies in a hospital that are thought to be part of a group of approximately 335 predominantly Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees who have been missing since a few hours after departing Tajura on March 22 in a boat driven by a smuggler. “There are five bodies in total, two women, two boys and an Egyptian who we believe was the boat’s captain. Their bodies have gunshot wounds in them. Somebody shot them after they left Libya. ... This is a murky affair which must be investigated.” Father Zerai is quoted as saying.
A relative of two of the passengers reported them missing to Father’s Zerai’s organisation, Agenzia Habeshia, and human rights organization Everyone Group who say they immediately alerted the authorities to ask for patrols to be sent into international waters and requested the intervention of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “This morning, after two weeks of inaction and indifference from the authorities and international institutions, we heard from Don Mussie Zerai that the bodies of those migrants, riddled with bullets, are being washed ashore,” Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, co-presidents of the international humanitarian organization EveryOne Group reported. “It would appear that the boat carrying the refugees was attacked in the Mediterranean, and that the shots were so rapid that the migrants did not have time to sound the alarm with the satellite phone they’d taken on board."
2010-12-08: Italy: Il Fatto Quotidiano Petition
7 dicembre 2010
Salviamo il soldato Assange!
Firma la petizione
Julian Assange è stato arrestato il 7 dicembre, per accuse scandalose oltre che incredibili: un rapporto sessuale consenziente, un preservativo che non ha funzionato. La verità è un’altra: Assange è stato catturato come un micidiale terrorista (un «uomo che vuol distruggere il mondo», dixit il ministro Frattini) perché nella sua qualità di direttore di WikiLeaks ha fatto luce su politiche, misfatti, crimini che dovevano restare segreti, custoditi nelle segrete di cancellerie e ambasciate, inaccessibili all´opinione pubblica mondiale che sta prendendo forma nel web. Chiediamo che sia immediatamente liberato. Allo stesso modo chiediamo chiarezza sul caso di Bradley Manning, il soldato che rischia 52 anni di carcere per aver rivelato a WikiLeaks i crimini contro i civili commessi dall´esercito Usa in Iraq. I soldati che appaiono nei video da lui trasmessi a Wikileaks, colpevoli di massacri di civili, sono stati elogiati dal comando militare Usa per il loro «giudizio sensato».
Saving private Assange
A cable from December 2007 features Gaddafi Development Foundation Executive Director Dr. Yusuf Sawani discussing trans-national terrorism threats and security with US diplomats. The director talks about the fact that a million sub-Saharan African guest workers are resident in Libya and says it should be a “cause of concern.” The workers are a concern because Dr. Sawani believes any of those individuals could possibly commit an act of terrorism. In recent days, many of those guest workers have fled, as Libyans have grown suspicious and attacked a number of black Africans due to reports that Leader Muammar Gaddafi hired “black African mercenaries.”
The latest from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicates 191,000 or more have fled Libya to Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. A previous report estimated around 80,000 Pakistanis, 59,000 Sudanese, 50,000 Bangladeshis, 26,000 Filipinos, 2,000 Nepalese and other African and Asian migrant workers are hosted by the country.
OCHA reports have been tracking the risk of violence migrant workers face. In a March 3 update, OCHA notes, “Sub-Saharan nationals remain at risk of violence from local populations on suspicion of being Government-recruited mercenaries.” A report on March 2 detailed the needs of those fleeing Libya highlights the need for protection. It reads:
The following Pirate Parties of Europe have issued a joint statement condemning all attacks on the infrastructure of Wikileaks and employees of Wikileaks.
- Pirate Party of Germany
- Pirate Party of France
- Pirate Party of Italy
- Pirate Party of Austria
- Pirate Party of Russia
- Pirate Party of Switzerland
- Pirate Party of Luxembourg
- Pirate Party of the United Kingdom
(This article originally appeared in Libération)
"So why so much ado about these leaks? For one thing, they say what any savvy observer already knows: that the embassies, at least since the end of World War II, and since heads of state can call each other up or fly over to meet for dinner, have lost their diplomatic function and, but for the occasional ceremonial function, have morphed into espionage centres. Anyone who watches investigative documentaries knows that full well, and it is only out of hypocrisy that we feign ignorance. Still, repeating that in public constitutes a breach of the duty of hypocrisy, and puts American diplomacy in a lousy light.[...]
But let’s turn to the more profound significance of what has occurred. Formerly, back in the days of Orwell, every power could be conceived of as a Big Brother watching over its subjects’ every move. The Orwellian prophecy came completely true once the powers that be could monitor every phone call made by the citizen, every hotel he stayed in, every toll road he took and so on and so forth. The citizen became the total victim of the watchful eye of the state. But when it transpires, as it has now, that even the crypts of state secrets are not beyond the hacker’s grasp, the surveillance ceases to work only one-way and becomes circular. The state has its eye on every citizen, but every citizen, or at least every hacker – the citizens’ self-appointed avenger – can pry into the state’s every secret.[...]
One last observation: In days of yore, the press would try to figure out what was hatching sub rosa inside the embassies. Nowadays, it’s the embassies that are asking the press for the inside story."
Radio Free Europe: WikiLeaks And Its Brave New World
"The imminent new WikiLeaks expose promises to be especially revelatory because, simply put, the Americans have dirt on everyone. Assange and company's logic is as elegant as it's unsettling: by revealing the secrets of the world's leading superpower, the secrets of the world -- namely, the all-too-often dirty web of interconnections between governments, corporations, intelligence and media agencies, and key personalities -- are also revealed.
There are potential lessons here, some likely old, some hopefully new, and all doubtlessly very unhappy, about the nature of power and what it really means to be an "international community." So, it's noteworthy that WikiLeaks recently tweeted, "In the coming months we will see a new world, where global history is redefined." Perhaps this isn't just hyperbole after all."
JTurn: Next Up: The “War on Journalism”?
Jonathan Lundqvist writes an analysis of war in the 21st century, the relationship between the media and the military, the internet as a new domain for warfare and the role of WikiLeaks and the free press:
"Pentagon, with its newly founded US Cyber Command, is going all-in against an undefined enemy, with fear-mongers on the sidelines crying for blood. The state of the world being as it is, the question is if WikiLeaks is going to be the first victim of this new offensive force.[...]
WikiLeaks crushed, with a few swift blows, the information monopoly of the military. “Truth”, says Julian Assange, the site’s founder and iconic spokesperson, “is the first casualty of war”, repeating a truism that is rarely backed up with hard evidence. Going through the material, the cliché was proven. Not only did the documents show many things that were never reported, but it also showed outright lies and distortions.
With a very broad definition of security, the free press will be at stake. It goes without saying that exposing certain truths about how we wage wars; on the justifications or actions of troops, is a security problem for the military – and the long run, also for society. But, wait, why if so, do democracies have a free press?"
Bloomberg: Italy Says WikiLeaks Reports on U.S. May Harm Nation
"Italy’s government said “classified reports” on U.S. foreign relations expected to be published by the website Wikileaks.org may harm the country as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi fights for his political survival.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said during a Cabinet meeting in Rome today that the documents may have “negative repercussions” on Italy, according to an e-mailed statement from Berlusconi’s office."
The Age: Tensions rise as WikiLeaks release nears
"Speculation last night that WikiLeaks may reveal clandestine US support for terrorism had US embassies across the globe scrambling to limit damage ahead of the latest threatened release of US government documents by the whistleblowing website.
According to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, several documents show that the US had in turn been providing assistance to Turkey's Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK."
AFP: US slams WikiLeaks ahead of latest release
"Washington's envoy to Iraq condemned WikiLeaks as 'absolutely awful' Friday as world capitals braced for the looming release of some three million sensitive diplomatic cables by the whistleblower website.
The latest tranche of documents, the third since WikiLeaks published 77,000 classified US files on the Afghan conflict in July, have spurred Washington to warn both Turkey and Israel of the embarrassment they could cause, and American diplomats have also briefed officials in London, Oslo and Copenhagen."
IOL: WikiLeaks docs may hurt US-Russia ties
"The documents include recordings of US diplomats' conversations with Russian politicians, assessments of Russia's most notable events, and analyses of what is happening in the country and in its domestic and foreign politics," according to Kommersant.
Aftonbladet: Sverige varnat inför WikiLeaksavslöjanden
"The United States has warned Sweden to WikiLeaks future revelations. 'Yes, we can confirm that discussions have occurred,' said Henrik Knobe from the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
It remains unclear what the documents that WikiLeaks will release contain, but the U.S. is currently trying to minimize the damage by contacting countries around the world."
De Volksrant: VS waarschuwt Nederland om inhoud WikiLeaks
"The United States has warned the Netherlands that new documents are to be published on the whistleblower website WikiLeaks in the coming days, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal (VVD) on Friday."
Die Zeit: USA kontaktieren vorsorglich ihre Bündnispartner
"The German Foreign Ministry would not confirm or deny such contact on Friday. Andreas Peschke, spokesman at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, responded to journalists: 'I will not single out aspects of the wide-ranging discussions with our American partners.'"
AFP: US contacts Turkey over WikiLeaks files: diplomat
"The United States has been in contact with Turkey over new files to be released on the Internet by WikiLeaks, Turkish officials said Friday, stressing Ankara's commitment to fighting terrorism."
World Dawn: WikiLeaks plans to release 94 papers about Pakistan
"WikiLeaks is expected to put 94 documents about Pakistan on its website this weekend, diplomatic sources told Dawn. The documents mainly contain telegrams sent by the US Embassy in Islamabad to the State Department in Washington.
Some of these papers relate to US observations about Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan, the debate within Pakistan on the war against terror, Islamabad’s cooperation with Washington and other military and intelligence matters."
The Telegraph: WikiLeaks: US diplomats predicted Coalition would fail
"Sources revealed that the documents include commentary on the likely fate of the Coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Transmitted in the early days of the Coalition, the messages are understood to predict that the Government was likely to prove ineffective and short-lived, ultimately doomed by tensions between Tories and Lib Dems.
Earlier messages about the previous Government could prove at least as embarrassing for Mr Brown."
AP: Clinton talks to China about WikiLeaks release
"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday spoke with the Chinese government about the expected release of classified cables by the WikiLeaks website.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed Friday evening that Clinton spoke by phone with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. He did not provide details."
Reuters: WikiLeaks must stop "dangerous" leaks: military
"I would hope that those who are responsible for this would, at some point in time, think about the responsibility that they have for lives that they're exposing and the potential that's there and stop leaking this information," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS due to air Sunday.
This is not the first time Adm. Mullen has made this claim. The allegation that "WikiLeaks has blood on its hands" has been made both at the time of the Afghanistan war diaries release, and the Iraq war logs release. It has been disproven by facts both times, and the military top brass finally admitted it. Please see our article on the topic: Debunked: "WikiLeaks Has Blood on Its Hands".