Instruments of History

A lot hangs in the balance this weekend. The telecoms infrastructure of our world is the theater for an attempt at a revolution – a fundamental change in the power and organizational structure of power – that is to my mind no less significant that those revolutions of the early modern era, which express still in the popular consciousness the core ideals of our now-broken democracies. Despite the insistence of its fiercest critics, it promises to be far less bloody than those. I dare to hope that it can succeed. An ever growing chorus of netizens, transnational in constituency, dares also...

I remember

I sit and look out the office window.

The Military Mafia

A look at the US/NATO military as it is today. This is not your grandfather's army.

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WikiLeaks 2.0: New Frequency for the Era of Everyday People

“When I grow up, I want to be a...” I wonder how many people remember their childhood dreams for the future and their youthful idealism. I remember how many adults tried to persuade me to give up my dreams, saying how I need to abandon them and get real. Teachers, counselors and professionals tended to ridicule my aspirations, telling me to grow up.

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Grav deg ned i tide…

Something might happen very soon.

You might hear about it.

If you do, and you want to know more...

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(originally published November 25, 2010)

Redefining Global History: Wikileaks’ Enigmatic Tweets

Today, Wikileaks’ Twitter account made two enigmatic announcements about its plans for future disclosures, and thereby, in usual style, confused the professional journalism sector. The comments hint at a future release of information that far eclipses the public interest value of 2010′s high profile Wikileak releases.

Why Do I Think Wikileaks Is Important?

Wanting once to escape from a world where curiosity was no virtue, I made a circuitous approach to philosophy and higher learning. It was only gradually clear to me what universities were for. It seems I come late to most things in life. As late as my early 20s I felt as if my choices were informed by a body of knowledge constrained at its edges not only by my own ignorance, but by ignorance of the true extent of that ignorance. Understanding, for me, requires a grasp of the global to inform the local.

How Not To Conduct a Smear Campaign By Accident

It has been 76 days since the news initially broke on August 20th about the Julian Assange rape allegations. It must be said it is getting to look a little bit suspicious. Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny keeps issuing the same press release, intimating that a clear decision may come at any time, but may take a while too.

Iraq War Logs: What Now?

What happens now? What’s the point? I’ve heard this question a good few times over the last few days. Sometimes it’s not really motivated by a desire to find the answer. In these cases, it’s just a rhetorical question undercutting the importance of the documents or reflecting general cynicism about the susceptibility to change of the networks of power held culpable in the logs. I will write more about this later.

Iraq War Logs: Personal Story

The notion of human interest journalism enjoys far too much custom in our media, but it still seems worthy of report. I encountered this tweet today. I’ve embedded the featured link into the image...

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(originally published October 26, 2010)

Political Warfare

Glenn Greenwald tweeted a link to an article on FoxNews, by Christian Whiton, in which Whiton calls for executive action on the threat that Wikileaks poses to the United States. The article is riddled with factual errors. For example, it perpetuates the false belief that the Iraq War Logs, released by Wikileaks on Friday, contains the names of informants, who might therefore be in danger. It has been well publicized by now that the Iraq War Logs are thoroughly redacted, but this doesn’t stop the propaganda apparatus in the United States pretending otherwise.

As the World Takes Five Steps Back

So where does that leave Adrian “my sincere desire” Lamo? Or Jonah “it’s a serious question” Goldberg, John “rattle a bullet around his skull” Hawkins, Christian “non-judicial actions” Whiton, and Marc “wide range of options” Thiessen?

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Minimum Requirements for a Fair Trial

Both the British and the Swedish legal representation of Julian Assange have stated that the Swedish prosecution violated the European Convention by not informing Assange of the the charges against him. Their statements:

This is the passage they are referring to:

"Article 6 – Right to a fair trial
3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
(b) to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence;
(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;
(d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;
(e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court."

The full text of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms can be found here:

The right to be informed promptly about the accusations is listed as the first entry on a list of minimum requirements for a fair trial.

Bring It!

Watching our world come under the grip of a worldwide organized crime syndicate, where everyone is denying anything is happening or denying that anything can be done, has been sitting like a giant weight, crushing us all. But the Wikileaks releases of this year have been our training period, a progressive course in getting the truth out and acting on it. We are now the strongest force the world has ever seen, a truly informed worldwide populace, the worst nightmare of a fascist world government. This week, the weight is lifted, and chaos is king. Out of chaos can come a new order.

Providing Aid and Comfort to the Enemy

This is a post of ideas to aid the fight for democracy. Another commenter participation post, please add links of anything good you’ve seen and check back – it will get a lot bigger.

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Julian Assange and Monasticism

A recent post by the Julian Assange Fanciers Guild depicts Assange thinking about a possible exile in one of the Meteora monasteries. This prompted me to dig out an old article by the Guardian, which I had meant to review for some time. When I first read its heading, I was startled. It says:

“Julian Assange, monk of the online age who thrives on intellectual battle”

Why would one want to describe Assange as a monk? This seemed rather obscure. I began to read. Halfway through the article I came across the following passage:

“David Leigh describes Assange as "a mendicant friar of the electronic age". Like his organization, he is global and rootless.”

This, on the other hand did make sense. Like a mendicant friar, Assange does not own many worldly possessions, he leads an itinerant life and he is funded by donations from the public. He also advocates a radical change to existing structures, which is one of the most prominent characteristics of mendicant friars.

Was the enigmatic heading of the article based on a misunderstanding of this quote? If this was the case, then two very different groups of people got mixed up. Mendicant friars understand themselves as an opposition to monks. Maybe the best known depiction of this divide can be found in Umberto Eco's novel “The Name of the Rose”, where one of the lead characters, William of Baskerville (a Franciscan friar) visits a wealthy Benedictine monastery (inhabited by monks) that exploits the poor indigenous population.

How big is Wikileaks' Next Release? [Update]

Yesterday, Wikileaks announced that the next release of documents is going to be seven times the size of the previous publication. Some news outlets have therefore come to the conclusion that this referred to the number of documents, stating that the next release would comprise three million documents. See for instance this AFP article:
This does not necessarily have to be the case as Wikileaks' statement could as well refer to the total word count rather than to the number of documents.

See also:

Update: According to this statement on the Wikileaks homepage

"The full set consists of 251,287 documents, comprising 261,276,536 words (seven times the size of "The Iraq War Logs", the world's previously largest classified information release)."

Assange was indeed referring to the total word count of the release.

2010-11-23 Gimme Shelter - WikiLeaks and the New Shield Laws

In concurrent developments, Australia and the United States have been drafting new federal legislation to ensure that journalists have legal rights to protect them from revealing the identities of their sources. It is precisely this kind of legislation that separates open democratic states from the tyrannical regimes that frequently top worst-offender lists on press freedom advocacy websites. Its importance cannot be understated. Yet many quite rightly point out that even in open societies where a 'free' press operates, journalists who refuse to disclose sources are faced with serious reprisals by the courts.

Prior to 2010, Australia's jurisprudence on shield laws was negligible. One infamous example was the case of Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey, reporters for Melbourne's Herald Sun, who were fined $7000 each and convicted of contempt of court after pleading guilty to not disclosing their government source on a story about war veteran entitlements.

In Western Australia since at least 2007, media reporters have been brought before secret hearings by the Corruption and Crime Commission to reveal their sources on various police investigations. They were faced with fines and / or jail sentences if they either disclosed what took place in these hearings, or if they refused to attend them.

Australia clearly needs this debate, and a sensible, holistic law needs to be introduced. The crux of this new Aussie bill, similar to the one passed by the U.S House of Representatives this year, is that, should a journalist be hauled into the dock, the judiciary will decide whether the disclosure is in the public interest.

The New Social Register

Once upon a time, the citizens of a country looked up to the members of its ruling class. What they wore, what they said, who they married, who they were friends with and who they fought with. If someone was overlooked for a favour, there would be conversations behind hands about a woman they both loved, or a piece of land in dispute. Gossipy, yes, but useful information, especially in a dictatorship where it paid to know who was in and who was out. Who has the ear of the king, could indicate this year’s laws. Very useful.

Common Sense

Common Sense
(calm down you damn fools!)

Originally, I wrote a rather lengthy research paper entitled: Applied Linguistics using Information Theory Modals with three data sets:Wikileaks, Julian Assange and Western Media / Government Information Control. After spending many coffee fueled nights and countless hours of research, I realized I had essentially written my doctoral dissertation. So, instead of wasting valuable time and bytes; I decided to submit it here, in the hopes of actually graduating sometime this century.

However, not to be outdone by my own propensity to wordiness; I have written a much condensed and mathematical proof free version here with the fitting title; Common Sense (calm down you damn fools!) If you are unfamiliar with the area of applied linguistics and or information theory, a good primer can be found at the University of Bielefeld. So, with all that said, I humbly present two interesting (and tale telling) outcomes of the research.

1.Denial of Residency to Julian Assange by the Swedish Board of Immigration.
A: Residency was denied by SIB because of complicity with US wishes. (JA)

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