Saturday, April 27, 2019

Trump's Global War on Abortion Access

U.S. Gag Rule Expansion Will Constrain Women’s Rights Worldwide

by TRNN


April 26, 2019

The Trump administration's global gag rule will not only stop abortion funding, but will bar organizations worldwide from offering comprehensive reproductive health services.

Last month, the Trump administration announced a significant expansion of its policy to deny U.S. government funds to organizations that have anything to do with providing support for abortions. The policy, which is commonly known as the global gag rule, which has been in place since Trump took office two years ago, originally defunded groups that advised or provided abortions.

The policy expansion now also denies funds to groups that fund other groups that advise or provide abortions.

Jonathan Rucks is a Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy at P.A.I., a reproductive rights organization based in Washington D.C.

Resisting Appropriation - Capital's Crime: Hijacking Rebellion Extinction

REBELLION EXTINCTION: A CAPITALIST SCAM TO HIJACK OUR RESISTANCE

by Winter Oak - The Acorn

via Wrong Kind of Green

Apr 24, 2019

[UPDATE. WEDNESDAY APRIL 24 2019. FOLLOWING WIDESPREAD GRASSROOTS DISQUIET OVER THE XR BUSINESS WEBSITE, IT HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR XR AND ITS POSITION ON CAPITALISM IS NOT YET CLEAR. WE WILL PUBLISH FURTHER REPORTS AS INFORMATION COMES IN]

When Extinction Rebellion first burst into action in the UK last November, it felt as if something was finally going to change.

Their high-profile arrival on the political scene had a noticeable effect on awareness of environmental issues and gave people permission to speak more freely than before about our society and its relationship to nature.

Yes, there were many criticisms of XR tactics and language from the likes of the new Green Anti-Capitalist Front and activist Emily Apple.

But when this month’s big week of action in London got underway, with Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus blocked and Marble Arch occupied, it felt as if something important and radical was happening.

And perhaps it was, because, presumably, the vast majority of those who turned out, including the nearly 1,000 who were arrested, genuinely believe that our civilization needs to change course if life on this earth is to survive.

But the integrity of XR as an organisation was dealt a fatal blow on Easter Monday, when its Twitter account started plugging links to a new website called XR Business, which had been announced in a letter to The Times.

Among the signatories was Gail Bradbrook, director and shareholder of Compassionate Revolution Ltd and Holding Group member of XR. This is just not some separate support group, but an intrinsic part of the XR apparatus.

The very existence of the site was bad enough, but the home page was (and is) hideous. A corporate satellite view of Europe lit up like a Christmas tree. What sort of environmental movement would choose such imagery?



We should have seen this coming. We had, after all, already read investigative journalist Cory Morningstar’s excellent digging into the “climate change” industry on her Wrong Kind of Green blog.

But somehow we wanted to give XR the benefit of the doubt and even naively plugged the London protests in our last bulletin.

The XR Business site, however, is a declaration of Rebellion Extinction. This is now officially an ex-Rebellion, shorn of all pretence of radicalism.

Instead, what we find is a list of “business leaders” who have identified environmental catastrophe as yet another get-rich opportunity.

And they are prepared to hijack and exploit people’s real love for life and nature in order to push their profiteering agenda.

 First name on the list of these so-called “leaders” is Seb Beloe, partner at WHEB

 
Seb Beloe

WHEB describes itself as “a positive impact investor focused on the opportunities created by the transition to a low carbon and sustainable global economy”.

It adds: “We focus on nine sustainable investment themes with strong growth characteristics, derived from providing solutions to major social and environmental challenges”.

On a page headed “thought leadership” WHEB announces that it is “actively involved” in organisations “at the leading edge of sustainable and responsible investment”.

These include the Global Impact Investing Network, which explains in turn on its website that it brings together “impact investors and intermediaries who have the capacity to invest and intervene at scale, making multi-million dollar investments and aggregating funds large enough to access institutional capital”.

Another XR “business leader” is Amy Clarke, co-founder of Tribe Impact Capital LLP, which boasts the snappy tagline “A New Wealth Order”.

  
Amy Clarke

Clarke is very proud of having “spent time” at investment firm EY (“helping clients embrace industry disruption as an opportunity“), PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), Microsoft, and the Bank of America.

Needless to say, Tribe Impact Capital shows little interest in challenging capitalism (the clue is in the name!) or in calling for degrowth. Its goal is, rather, “long-term positive impact and growth for everyone”.

XR “business leaders” John Elkington and Louise Kjellerup Roper, come from Volans Ventures Ltd.

They are involved in the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry backed by companies like Aviva Investors, The Body Shop International, Covestro, and Unilever, the massive transnational consumer goods company.


 
Paul Polman

Paul Polman, until recently CEO of Unilever plc, is also on the XR roll of honour, in fact.

And Jeremy Leggett, very active in promoting XR Business online, is founder and director of Solarcentury Ltd, which names Unilever as one of its “partners”.

Another XR business groupie is Jake Hayman, whose Ten Years’ Time programme “is tailored for the next generation of high-net worth families who are looking to invest capital into ambitious new ideas rather than following the crowd to safe ground”.

It’s that c-word word again!

Another XR Business enthusiast for “green” technology is Samer Salty, co-founder and managing partner of the infrastructure and private equity fund manager, Zouk Capital LLP.

Its site tells us: “Zouk’s infrastructure strategy capitalises on the global shift to greater sustainability.

 
Samer Salty

“The fund targets a diverse range of sectors across Europe, including emerging utility-scale battery storage projects as well as wind, solar, waste-to-energy, electric vehicles and geothermal”.

It was announced in February 2019 that Zouk is entering into exclusive negotiations to manage the UK Government’s £400m CIIF investment fund aimed at helping to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in the UK.

No vested interests involved there, then, nor with XR supporter Michael F. H. Bonte-Friedheim, CEO and founding partner of NextEnergy Capital, “the leading international solar investment and asset manager”.

XR Business also boasts the support of Tomas Carruthers, CEO of Project Heather: “We’re building a stock exchange for the 21st century. It’s time to add ‘impact’ to ‘risk and reward’”.

The key to understanding the XR phenomenon comes perhaps from its business backers Charmian Love and Amanda Feldman.

They are co-founders of Heliotropy Ltd, terming themselves “Builders of a brighter future”.



On the surface everything seems yummy and wholesome. Explaining its name, the site says: “Heliotropy is a phenomenon in nature where certain plants (or parts, like flowers) grow in response to the stimulus of sunlight, so that they turn to face the sun.

“We believe humans are similarly motivated by the power of heliotropy. We will grow taller, faster and stronger when motivated by light, warmth and positivity, rather than fear and despair”.

Heliotropy says it is all about “Mobilising Movements”. It declares:

“Today’s problems are interconnected, and movements must join forces to solve them. We are convening emerging leaders from global movements to imagine new ways of collaborating”.

But Heliotropy is a microcosm for the world of XR as a whole. Beneath the nicey-nicey surface lurks something rather nasty-nasty.

If you click on the section entitled “Reimagining Corporate Capital” you are taken to a site called Corporate Impact X.

This explains: “Corporate Impact X is a practitioner-led project designed to 
support corporations in developing high impact venturing, collaboration and investment strategies”.

It offers a report called “Investing Breakthrough: Corporate Venture Capital”. Sadly the link does not work properly, though it does point the would-be investor towards Volans, the aforementioned buddies of XR, Tomorrow’s Capitalism and Unilever.

The link to a second report, “Beyond the B1nary – Delivering Profits and Purpose Through Corporate Venturing” does work.

The “Thank You for Reading” section here is extremely revealing:

“Thank you to Elizabeth Boggs Davidsen of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, for managing this project and to the Inclusive Business Action Network (IBAN), a global partnership implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for providing the funding. We are grateful for the support of Global Corporate Venturing and Saïd Business School, Oxford University”.

It adds that the project was developed and delivered by Charmian Love (CorporateImpactX), whose email is given as charmian@corporteimpactx.com

Just to be clear, this is Charmian Love of the fluffy-sounding Heliotropy Ltd, who is one of XR’s select band of business leaders.

This Corporate Venturing project was developed and delivered by 
Extinction Rebellion’s Charmian Love. Well done Charmian!

It should be clear to anyone who has taken a look at the snarling capitalist agenda behind XR’s smiley eco-mask that they are not to be trusted.

If the movement is as democratic as it claims to be, it may still be possible for genuine environmentalists to wrest control of XR. Who knows?

Otherwise, decent people should get out as fast as they can and form new networks of resistance which fight to bring down the ecocidal industrial capitalist system, rather than to prop it up.

As the eco-activist Judi Bari put it: “There is no such thing as green capitalism. Serious ecologists must be revolutionaries”.


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"Unlike the Latin American left, the pathetic European version has lost all sense of what it means to do politics. It does not try to propose concrete solutions to problems, and is only able to take moral stances, in particular denouncing dictators and human rights violations in grandiloquent tones. The social democratic left follows the right with at best a few years delay and has no ideas of its own. The “radical” left often manages both to denounce Western governments in every possible way and to demand that those same governments intervene militarily around the globe to defend democracy. Their lack of political reflection makes them highly vulnerable to disinformation campaigns and to becoming passive cheerleaders of US-NATO wars. That left has no coherent program and would not know what to do even if a god put them into power." - Jean Bricmont

Friday, April 26, 2019

Looney for Clooney: The Style & Substance of Statecraft in an Instagram Age

The Style Section Meets State Craft: Amal Clooney and the Foreign Policy Influencers 

by Jennifer Matsui - CounterPunch


April 26, 2019  

Even on a slow news day, the appointment of Amal Clooney as UK Special Envoy for Press Freedom wouldn’t have elicited much more than a glance at a headline to a gossip column item of little relevance to anyone outside her immediate circle of Royals, war criminals, and fashion editors. After all, the once globetrotting lawyer and now jet setting campaigner is no stranger to the honors and accolades handed out to her by the lofty institutions who gain from currying her favor, or her movie star husband’s.




Whatever the mission, Madame De Clooney can be counted on to don magisterial robes over a fashion forward ensemble in this season’s palette of scorched earth tones in keeping with her carefully crafted image of a justice-dispensing fashion warrior. You might sum up her role in world affairs as “The Style section meets State Craft”.

“Even in stilettos, Ms Clooney flits effortlessly from The House of Lords to La Maison Du Dior. The world stage is her catwalk and her long, brisk stride takes her from a refugee camp one day to a glittering fundraiser the next... ”

If you have been Keeping Up with the Klooneys, you would know that (K)amal single-handedly resolved a crisis in Darfur just hours before hosting the Met Ball, and successfully delivering twins by Caesarian section that very morning.

By now, you might have noticed that your squalid life doesn’t quite measure up to Lady Clooney’s blessed existence. Chances are you didn’t wake up this morning next to a beautifully unshaven Hollywood legend in your palatial Italian villa and successfully re-negotiated the Magna Carta as you got the twins off to their Lake Geneva nursery retreat.

Clearly, George Clooney did well by trading up a string of baristas (and a pet pig) for a single barrister. Say what you will about the lifestyle of the rich and famous humanitarian, but let’s see you condemn ISIS in several dozen languages, while gazing prettily at the chief architects of the present mayhem playing out over much of the Middle East.

What is notable about this otherwise predictable and yawn-inducing appointment of a celebrity crusader to a boutique posting of little relevance to the people it is intended to “save”, or even the lesser mortals it is meant to impress, is the timing. But first, one has to marvel at the irony of a “human rights advocate” accepting a position in the UK’s Conservative government at the behest of Jeremy Hunt, (right) its “Right Honorable” Foreign Minister.

She might as well have accepted a Golden Bone Saw from the blood stained hands of Bin Salman himself. Ms Clooney’s new boss has never been shy expressing his support for Saudi Arabia, or the refugee-killing regime’s military intervention in Yemen.

Let’s not forget, either, that the husband of the UK’s Special Envoy for Press Freedom is an outspoken critic himself of the media, using his very public platform to condemn its right to say unpleasant things about him, his wife, or the Duchess of Sussex. Over the years, George Clooney has had harsh words for the Fourth Estate that threatens the tranquility of his own vast property in the Italian countryside.

Now let’s consider the timing of press freedom’s most photogenic booster claiming her honorary position just days before a clearly ill journalist/publisher was dragged into a waiting prison van by British secret police from the Ecuador embassy, where he had claimed asylum.

You would think that having endured almost seven years of harassment at the hands of multiple governments all seeking to punish him for plying his trade, a lawyer would have seized the opportunity to condemn the illegal maneuver, just as a human rights advocate would have pointed out that a $3.8 billion “aid” package to Ecuador’s Judas-in-Chief Lenin Moreno from the US government in exchange for the head of Julian Assange was clearly a violation of every principle laid out in the Geneva Conventions in regard to asylum seekers. Mrs Clooney, it turns out, shares the current US president’s disdain for people fleeing persecution.

More remarkable still, is the fact that the newly appointed ‘Envoy for Press Freedom’ was once on the legal team that failed to establish Assange’s innocence in the wake of rape allegations, and secure his release.

How fitting that Julian Assange’s former lawyer is now a mouthpiece for the very forces hoping to silence him.

Without considering the timing of this poorly stage-managed ‘coincidence’, you might have thought (wrongly, that is) that this very public face of “Press Freedom” would leverage her position into something more than the British government’s official cricket sound maker.

She might have even uttered a few words for whistle blowing political prisoner Chelsea Manning now languishing in a U.S. Federal prison on equally trumped up charges related to Assange’s case.

Instead, she is calling out Myanmar on its treatment of journalists, agitating for the the release of two Reuter’s reporters being detained for “handling official secrets”, which their supporters correctly argue is tantamount to journalism.

The same argument can be made for Wikileaks and its imprisoned publisher. Sadly, it’s a line of defense Amal Clooney reserves exclusively for defendants whose release would only embarrass the now irrelevant, universally despised Han Syuu Ki in a country of little strategic interest to her multinational benefactors.

While researching violations of press freedom, did the UK’s most-enviable envoy ever come across the names of Iraqi Reuter employees Saeed Chmagh and Nadir Noor-Eldeen, who were executed without trial by US forces in two Apache helicopters in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad in 2007? Both unarmed men on assignment, (along with the civilians they were traveling with) received a death sentence carried out by US forces, who also opened fire on a van that had stopped to assist the wounded, injuring the driver’s two children inside the vehicle.

Thanks to an anonymous military source, part of the video shot from inside the helicopter was obtained by Wikileaks and released on its website. The whistleblower will never enjoy the protection of a high powered envoy, but will live in fear of that she will one day exact her revenge. It’s doubtful, too, that Clooney will ever take up the cause of the two Palestinian journalists more recently murdered by Israeli forces while covering the Great Return marches, where hundreds of unarmed protesters were similarly slaughtered.

Considering Clooney’s betrayal of her former client (and the principles she ceremonially upholds) it’s of no small consequence that her advocacy on behalf of the Greek government for the return of its Elgin marbles from the British Museum resulted in Greece eventually dropping their claim.

The plaintiffs in this still plundered, cash-strapped nation were spooked by their legal advisor’s insistence of filing it immediately, upping the pressure with “a now or never” ultimatum, while ignoring the fact that an unfavorable verdict would have prevented Greece from asserting its ownership rights for any foreseeable future.

Greece has instead decided to pursue diplomatic channels, relying on increased public support for its attempts to re-patriate its priceless cultural artifacts.

Based on Clooney’s unsatisfactory, if not reckless, handling of the case, it’s hard to tell just who the Greek government’s lawyer was advocating for. Based on her willingness to represent the interests of the British government as its official, crime-concealer, it has become a little more obvious.

By now, you might be asking yourself if the famed International lawyer is reaping the rewards of failure by having scored a bigger victory – successfully staving off a threat to the Imperium’s own claim on the plundered treasures it holds in its museums. Clooney wouldn’t be the first underserving offspring of privilege to scale the cloud-capped heights of mediocrity where the real rewards await the incompetent.

On these points it’s hard to reconcile Ms Clooney’s inability to get things done with accolades she’s accumulated since capturing the ring finger of an infamously marriage-averse movie star.

It’s still unclear why she and her legal team departed ways with Assange while he was fighting extradition to Sweden, where the possibility of undergoing more “enhanced” interrogations at the hands of American officials remained a threat.

Within a few years of “falling out” with the political prisoner she was supposedly defending, (presumably over his decision to accept Ecuador’s offer of asylum) the now celebrity legal expert was helping her movie star husband raise money for the person largely responsible for her former client’s ongoing and worsening legal woes.

The Clooney’s would go on to host a star-studded fundraiser for Hillary Clinton whose presidential campaign was quickly unraveling after Wikileaks made the contents of her emails public, revealing the corrupt machinations behind her candidacy, and even exposing her bloody fingerprints in glaring relief at the scene of her State Department’s war crimes.

Clooney’s less-than-stellar track record on actually accomplishing anything for the clients she has represented may very well be a ‘plus’, looking at it from the vantage point of the political class she represents. Who better than a state banquet table centerpiece – eye-catching but ultimately irrelevant – to be its ornamental emissary to speak on behalf of the people they bomb.

Raising awareness about refugees, or rather diverting attention away from the actual causes that create millions of stateless people worldwide to live in squalor and uncertainty is the stock and trade of “Goodwill Ambassadors” like Amal Clooney and Angelina Jolie.

The lackluster, power-serving “advocacy” they peddle at the behest of powerful governments and world bodies, does, if anything, a deliberate public disservice.

Relying on the “fact finding” mission statements of Barrister Barbie or her frenemy cohort Blood Barbie after visiting rape victims in a famine and drought-stricken war zone, one would conclude that philanthropy-based neoliberal interventions were the only bulwark against human misery and environmental catastrophe.

Implicit in this falsely and deliberately constructed narrative is the “necessity” of more aggressive and far-reaching military objectives to ensure their implementation.

Angelina Jolie has similarly helped spin the prevailing storyline of helpless and victimized people for whom American bombs are the only hope of escaping their torments. 

Unsurprisingly, considering her role as Empire’s Auteur, Jolie’s vanity projects reflect a range of US foreign policy objectives over the last 70 years, and stay faithful to the scripted talking points that originally sold them to the American public.

The threat of Islamic radicalism, Japanese Imperialism, communism, and even the socialist satellite states of the former Soviet Union are upheld as justifications for the American and NATO forces who would eventually save the day.

Not surprisingly, her films have failed to achieve anything beyond the “critical success” they enjoy from a handful of celebrity admirers and the aid workers they valorize.

Unlike old school agitprop with its obvious agenda, Jolie obscures her own behind the blandly expressed beliefs and ideals that justify war.

‘Good (NATO and by implication, Enola Gay) versus Evil’ (al Qaeda, the former Yugoslavia) are presented with dutiful adherence to the storylines that are dictated to the New York Times from the policy wonks who craft them.

Her consistently money losing projects attempt to dramatize the UN reports she is tasked with reading to become violent informercials for the charities she publicly represents and the interests she privately serves. This obfuscating of of an actual viewpoint beyond “Serbian rape is bad” and “I can’t believe they beheaded my husband!” is much in line with the neoliberal doctrine she upholds its Chief Misinformation Officer.

Warmongering can no longer rely on belligerence or even an explicitly stated doctrine. Yesterday’s propaganda was the output of governments in the service of munitions makers and industrialists. Today’s “marketing campaigns” reflect a paradigmatic shift in power that prioritizes the same needs of the tech and financial sectors now holding the reins.

Propaganda arouses the urge of the masses to act (too unpredictable), marketing inspires individuals to feel. It assures us that we can be agents of change by cutting and pasting a hashtag, or re-using a pet bottle. It gives out little ribbons for our participation, but still insists we cover the cost through charitable donations to house and feed people made impoverished by the humanitarian bombs lobbed at them by bankers.

Our overlords have made themselves pitchfork-proof by transforming state violence into tax-deductible, philanthropic enterprises, replacing local, self-sustaining initiatives (socialism) with global, dependent ones (capitalism). How to sell a terrible, and ultimately self-defeating idea? Enter Amal Clooney and Angelina Jolie, heading a pack of mostly female emissaries from the world of entertainment, to “shine a light” on all the market-driven alternatives to all the head chopping and female genital mutilation that goes on in the absence of ‘Democracy’. The work of creating failed states, de-stabilizing economies, imposing austerity and of course, “upholding human rights” now requires a smooth feminine hand (rather than an iron first) to guide those drones and missiles – directly into the heart and minds of the public.

Like super-heroes of the Instagram age, foreign policy influencers like Clooney and Jolie, (who have replaced Uncle Sam and Rosy the Riveter) do quick costume changes into reading glasses and/or Islamic headscarves for their photo-op missions, representing causes ranging from select famines to rape. Ever present in the media and ‘hot spots’ where American hegemony is or has been challenged (Syria, Darfour, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Venezuela . . . ) but notably absent where Saudi Arabia or Israel carry out the atrocities (Gaza, Yemen . . . ). These usually self-described feminists agitate for a muscular military response to protect mostly brown and Muslim women from their jihadist menfolk, and the rest of us from the knowledge of what radicalized them in the first place.

The weaponization of feminism is nothing new


Whether launching its American brand overseas to undermine local efforts to organize more equitable societies, or applied domestically as a tool to exact fearful compliance to workplace regulations, the philosophy as it is defined today is little more than a tenet of neoliberalism’s unstated ideology; a hybrid of the SCUM Manifesto and an HR Code of Conduct manual that promotes ‘equality’ through individual campaigns of hash tagged retribution. Notably absent from its array of causes and concern is wealth-redistribution.

Gloria Steinem is less known for her role as director for the CIA-funded Independent Research Center from 1958-62 than the quotable, photogenic leader of the “Women’s Movement”. Seldom mentioned is the support this “radical” organization received by the government and right wing corporate funding long after Steinem’s first visit to a ‘Youth Festival” in Moscow, where she served as the spook agency’s “eyes and ears on the ground”. Little Gloria, Happy at Last to be a covert, Cold War asset, showing them ‘Russkies’ the “progressive” side of Imperialism, while ratting out actual feminists in solidarity with her Soviet and Eastern Bloc counterparts.

Today the one time militant feminist (literally) and torch bearer for Astroturf activism has passed the flaming implement onto a new generation of Gatekeepers tasked with de-radicalizing social movements, and siphoning the funds and efforts that empower them into corporate and military coffers.

Jolie and Clooney, both unapproachable and preposterously un-relatable, reflect an ideology that is similarly well out of reach to anyone attempting to define it. Liberal by default and neocon by design, this elite-led, often contradictory set of principles known as neoliberalism relies on the star power of glamorous boosters to make the case for military aggressions, along with promoting the billionaire-headed initiatives that apply bandaids where their visible wounds threaten to launch an anti-war movement.
 
Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo.
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UK Love Extradition Ruling an Indictment of American Justice

Lauri Love, Hacking and Extradition 

by Binoy Kampmark - CounterPunch


February 12, 2018 

“Horse-trading determines who goes to jail and for how long. That is what plea bargaining is. It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it is the criminal justice system.”  - US Supreme Court Justice Kennedy (2012)

The February 5 decision of the British court refusing to permit the extradition of hactivist Lauri Love was more than an opinion. It was a reproach. While a quiet confidence had been expressed that the decision would go his way, not permitting his extradition might also dint various trans-national security efforts. Prosecutors were taking note.

Love had been accused of hacking into the systems of various US institutions: the FBI, NASA and the US Central Bank.

Such accusations were so grave as to endanger Love with a potential prison sentence of 99 years – provided the US authorities could convince the courts that extradition from the UK was warranted.

They were initially successful, convincing District Court Judge Tempia sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court that any harm Love might suffer was conjectural. Despite being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, antibiotic resistant eczema and major depression, not to mention finding that Love was a high suicide risk, the 2016 ruling favoured extradition. Love’s appeal was heard on November 29-30 by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon and Mr Justice Ouseley.

US prosecutors do not take kindly to hactivists. Aaron Schwartz, known for developing the RSS software undergirding the syndication of information on the Internet, remains one of the most notable, and tragic, casualties in this instance. What he faced was a weapon commonly used in such instances, the brutally all capturing Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. His alleged crime was to have enabled free access to an academic website, JSTOR through the MIT computer network. This anti-capitalist sin meant a possible fine of up to $1 million with a princely jail term of 35 years. Schwartz preferred suicide.

Supporters of Love preferred to focus on keeping the trial local, citing the case of Gary McKinnon, who was also pursued for computer hacking offences. Attempts to seek McKinnon’s extradition failed due to the refusal by the then Home Secretary and current UK Prime Minister Theresa May, to do so.

“After careful consideration of all the relevant material,” May explained in October 2012, “I have concluded that Mr McKinnon’s extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite him would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon’s human rights.”

In light of that case, vulnerable defendants can make the claim for a forum bar, thereby preventing the extradition from going through in cases where it “would not be in the interests of justice”.

With all that said, adding the “forum bar” to the UK Extradition Act 2003 in 2013 did not alter the reluctance on the part of judges to prevent extradition requests on grounds of forum. Prosecutorial wisdom, it seemed, was to be respected. They, the assumption went, would have a deeper sense of the facts.

Central to the entire process was the possibility that Love would, in reaching the United States, even have access to a fair trial. Would he, for instance, be fit to plead? The pre-trial detention facilities at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre, located in Manhattan, or the Metropolitan Detention Centre at Brooklyn were cited as inadequate in supplying mental health care. This was even more significant given that Love has been found to be a suicide risk.

A crucial factor in the Love case was the absence of the prosecutor’s belief as to whether the United Kingdom was not the most appropriate forum to try the defendant. Previous decisions had essentially deemed this a neutral matter. As the High Court explained in Shaw v Government of the United States of America [2014] EWHC 4654 (Admin),

“The judge has to ask whether there is a belief; but if there is not, then he cannot have any further ‘regard’ to this factor.”

The judges in Love’s case effectively repudiated this approach, claiming that the absence of prosecutorial belief on the subject of the appropriate forum was a more than telling factor in considering extradition. Such “silence is a factor which tells in favour of the forum bar”.

The utterance sent legal analysts into a spin of speculation. The absence of a prosecutor’s belief regarding the appropriateness of forum had certainly been a common practice. The decision in Love, claimed Ben Lloyd, suggested that prosecutors had to show greater diligence in making their claim for extradition, certifying, for instance, that the UK was not appropriate. The lack of involvement of a domestic prosecutor, for instance, “could be taken as a factor in favour of the operation of the forum bar” (§34).

The judges did not stop there. The lower court had, in their view, erred in not accepting the seriousness of the material supplied by Professor Kopelman, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry. According to that medical assessment, Love’s custody in the United States would be crippling.

“His ability to cope with the proceedings in the trial, to make rational decisions, and to give evidence in a satisfactory manner would be severely compromised.”

In the words of the judges, “it is clear from the rest of his evidence that severely worsening depression, with the possible onset of psychotic imagery was exactly what Professor Kopelman anticipated” (§31). Such factors were more than mere conjectures.

Love also had a demonstrable connection to family and home. “His entire wellbeing is bound with the presence of his parents. This may now have been enhanced by the support of his girlfriend. The significance of breaking those connections… demonstrates their strength” (§43).

Having been foiled in both the McKinnon case and that of Love, US prosecutors will have to identify different routes when nabbing their quarry. Hacktivists weighed down by the baggage of mental health will prove a particularly difficult proposition. The greatest challenge remains: convincing British judges of the suitability of a judicial forum beset by decline and ruin.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com
More articles by:Binoy Kampmark

British Columbia Government Allowing More Old-Growth Forests Fall

Conservationists condemn BC NDP Government’s plans to log old-growth forest adjacent to Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

by Ancient Forest Alliance


April 18, 2019

Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island Conservationists with the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) are outraged that the BC government’s logging agency, BC Timber Sales, is currently auctioning off 109 hectares of old-growth forest adjacent to Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.

The area, located northeast of Botanical Beach and south of Port Renfrew in Pacheedaht First Nation territory, borders one of the most spectacular sections of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail with impressive old-growth forests and stunning waterfalls.


Aerial overview of old-growth forests where
BC Timber Sales has seven pending cutblocks
totaling 109 hectares. Juan de Fuca Provincial
Park is along the coastline, (Port Renfrew in the background).

Seven planned cutblocks, of which two come to within 50 metres of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park boundary, would see an estimated 55,346 cubic metres of old-growth – the equivalent of over 1,300 logging trucks – leave the region known as the “Tall Tree Capital of Canada.”

“It’s outrageous that BC Timber Sales has approved the clearcutting of an area more than two Avatar Groves in size so close to one of Vancouver Island’s most popular provincial parks,” stated Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness.
“People come from all over the world to hike the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. The clearcutting will further degrade and fragment the forest that buffers the park which helps protect the park’s outstanding ecological and recreational values. This is a clear-cut example that BC Timber Sales cannot be trusted to maintain, or even consider, the ecological importance of BC’s ancient forests in its planning.”

BC Timber Sales (BCTS) is the notorious BC government logging agency which manages 20% of the province’s allowable annual cut and which has come under fire across the province for auctioning off old-growth forests to be clearcut in such places as the Nahmint Valley and Schmidt Creek on Vancouver Island and in Manning Provincial Park’s “donut hole.” Earlier this month, Sierra Club BC and Sunshine Coast-based environmental organization Elphinstone Logging Focus revealed that BCTS plans to auction off more than 1,300 hectares of cutblocks in old-growth forests across Vancouver Island in 2019. (See their joint press release)

“BC Timber Sales is going after some of the most significant tracts of the province’s remaining ancient forests despite the fact that, today, they are worth more standing than they are on logging trucks,” stated Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer TJ Watt.
“Port Renfrew, a former logging town, has successfully re-branded itself in recent years as the “Tall Tree Capital of Canada” and is seeing a huge increase in eco-tourism, greatly benefiting local businesses. We’re concerned about the impact the logging would have on Port Renfrew’s reputation as an eco-tourism destination in addition to the impact on the environment.” 

Falling boundary tape in one of seven BC Timber Sales pending 
old-growth cutblocks near the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on Vancouver Island

There are also concerns that logging and the construction of over 10 kilometres of new road could impact nearby businesses, such as Soule Creek Lodge, located just 500 metres from one of the cutblocks.


“My business relies heavily on tourists coming to Port Renfrew to admire big trees and old-growth forests and to visit Botanical Beach and other parts of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park,” stated Soule Creek Lodge owner John Cash.
“I’m deeply concerned that all the noise from months of logging operations is going to drive customers away. People come here for peace and quiet and to connect with nature, not to listen to blasting, chainsaws, and trees crashing in the distance.”

“Instead of facilitating old-growth clearcutting right up to a provincial park boundary, the BC government should be helping rural communities like Port Renfrew transition to more diverse and sustainable economies. In this case, the government needs to use its control over BCTS to cancel the old-growth timber sales before the closing date of April 26th and expand the protected area system to buffer the Juan de Fuca Provincial  Park,” stated Watt.

A map depicting the old-growth cutblocks adjacent to the Juan de Fuca 
Provincial Park and town of Port Renfrew that are currently up for auction by BC Timber Sales

“We need to see leadership and vision from Forests Minister Doug Donaldson, not more status quo old-growth clearcutting. He and the BC government must stop using misleading statistics that hide the fact that old-growth forests are endangered on Vancouver Island and start implementing a science-based plan to protect them where they’re endangered across the province,” stated Watt.

Watt recently explored the old-growth forest within one of the proposed cutblocks and found old-growth redcedar trees measuring six to seven feet in diameter with one cedar measuring ten feet, nine inches in diameter, making it eligible for protection under BC Timber Sales’ Coastal Legacy Tree Policy which aims to retain ‘legacy trees’ that exceed certain size thresholds. However, a BCTS representative stated in an email that the agency had conducted a review of the proposed cutblocks and that “no legacy trees were identified.”

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer TJ Watt stands 
beside a massive redcedar measuring 10’9″ in diameter in a pending 
BC Timber Sales cutblock near Port Renfrew

“BCTS’ Legacy Tree Policy failed to prevent the ninth widest Douglas-fir tree in Canada from being felled in the Nahmint Valley last year,” stated Inness.
“Not only does the policy leave big trees standing alone in clearcuts with no buffer zones, BCTS clearly can’t be trusted to fully implement it. The BC government needs to quickly implement its long-overdue Big Tree Protection Order originally meant to protect BC’s biggest trees with buffer zones and which the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has been working to develop since 2012.”

Background information:


Old growth forests are integral to British Columbia for ensuring the protection of endangered species, climate stability, tourism, clean water, wild salmon, and the cultures of many First Nations. At present, over 79% of the original productive old-growth forests on BC’s southern coast have been logged, including well over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. Only about 8% of Vancouver Island’s original productive old growth forests are protected in parks and Old Growth Management Areas.

Due to the popularity of nearby old-growth forests for large numbers of visitors from across the world, the former logging town of Port Renfrew has rebranded itself in recent years as the “Tall Trees Capital of Canada.” Port Renfrew boasts access not only to the popular West Coast and Juan de Fuca trails, but also some of BC’s most popular ancient forest destinations including Avatar Grove, the Central Walbran Valley, Big Lonely Doug (Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir), the Red Creek Fir (the world’s largest Douglas-fir), the San Juan Spruce (previously Canada’s largest Sitka spruce until the top broke off in 2017), Eden Grove, and Jurassic Grove. These ancient forests and trees attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world, strengthening the economy of southern Vancouver Island.

In 2016, The Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce signed a resolution calling on the BC government to increase protection for old-growth forests to benefit the economy. The Sooke and WestShore Chambers of Commerce have also spoken up for the protection of the old-growth forests in the Walbran Valley, while the BC Chamber of Commerce has passed a resolution calling for the increased protection of old-growth forests in BC to support the economy. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC), the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC (WTABC) and the councils of Victoria, Metchosin, and Tofino have all passed resolutions for the protection of remaining old-growth forests on Vancouver Island or across BC.

The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC government to implement a series of policy changes to protect endangered old-growth forests, including an interim halt to logging in old-growth “hotspots” – areas of high conservation value, such as the Nahmint Valley – to ensure the largest and best stands of remaining old-growth forests are kept intact; a comprehensive, science-based plan to protect endangered old-growth forests across the province; conservation financing support for First Nations communities in lieu of old-growth logging; and a provincial land acquisition fund to purchase and protect endangered ecosystems on private lands.

At Long Last No Sense of Decency: Hillary Resurrects Tail-Gunner Joe McCarthy

Hillary Clinton’s McCarthyite Rant 

by Joseph Kishore - WSWS


26 April 2019

In the days of the Cold War, the narrative of the arch-reactionaries and anticommunists revolved around a conspiracy theory according to which the United States had been infiltrated at the highest levels by agents of the Soviet Union.

In the early 1950s, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy led the anti-Soviet campaign, alleging that Russian spies occupied top positions in the government, in universities, in Hollywood and even in the military.

According to McCarthy, “a conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man” implicated not only the Soviet Union but was also responsible for the “loss of China” in the 1949 Chinese Revolution.

The “Red Menace” was the pretext for attacking and delegitimizing all manifestations of social and political opposition, including the Civil Rights movement, as the work of “outside agitators” who received their orders from Moscow. It was Martin Dies, the Democratic congressman from Texas and initiator of the witch-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee, who declared in his 1940 book The Trojan Horse in America that Moscow had “envisioned an unusual opportunity to create racial hatred between the white and Negro citizens of the United States.”

In the late 1950s, after the heyday of McCarthy, the political thread was taken up by the John Birch Society, founded in 1958 by Massachusetts businessman Robert Welch, who notoriously declared that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.”

In 1964, Welch backed the ultra-right Republican candidate Barry Goldwater, whose failed presidential campaign was heavily influenced by John Stormer’s book None Dare Call It Treason. “Will America continue to aid the communist enemy,” Stormer asked, “to disarm in the face of danger, to bow before communist dictators in every corner of the earth? The decision is yours.”

Nothing is dead in politics. The legacy of McCarthyism is now being revived by the campaign led by the Democratic Party and summed up in a hysterical screed published Wednesday in the Washington Post by Hillary Clinton, the self-professed former “Goldwater girl,” under the headline, “Mueller documented a serious crime against all Americans. Here’s how to respond.”

According to Clinton, “Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.” The perpetrator again is Russia, which Clinton, citing the Mueller report, claims has carried out a “sweeping and systematic” attack on the United States.

The Clinton narrative, which is the official line of the Democratic Party, is a monumental lie. Responsibility for Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 elections is attributed entirely to the operations of Russian bots and “Guccifer 2.0,” the persona of the individual who supposedly hacked Democratic Party emails. Her campaign, Clinton writes, was the “target of a Russian plot,” directed by President Vladimir Putin, who “seeks to weaken our country.”

And what did this new “conspiracy so immense” actually involve? According to the Mueller report itself, organizations associated with Russia allegedly spent $100,000 on Facebook ads. This is 0.12 percent of the $81 million spent by the Democratic and Republican election campaigns themselves on Facebook ads, in a campaign dominated by the $5 billion spent by the billionaire backers of the two parties to buy the election.

As for the release of Democratic Party emails, even if one accepts the unsubstantiated claim that it was Russian operatives who turned them over to WikiLeaks, what the emails revealed were true facts about the operations of Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC)—facts that the electorate had every right to know. Among the documents released were Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs and other banks, for which she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other leaked emails exposed the corrupt efforts of the DNC to rig the primaries against Bernie Sanders.

Clinton lost in the 2016 elections because the Democratic Party, in line with the class interests it represents, made a calculated decision not to raise any social issues or make any appeal to the working class in its campaign against Trump. Do Clinton and company really expect the public to believe that Facebook ads put out by Russian agents were behind the collapse in voter turnout in working-class areas of Michigan, Wisconsin and other states?

The victory of the billionaire demagogue Trump was the result of widespread disillusionment with the Democratic Party after eight years of the Obama administration, which broke every campaign promise and exposed as lies the empty prattle about “hope” and “change.” Obama focused his energies on bailing out Wall Street and shoring up the wealth of the corporate and financial elite.

In her column, Clinton goes on to call for an alliance between the Democratic Party and the Republicans. The situation calls for “clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship,” she writes. She urges Republicans to work with Democrats in an intensified campaign against Russia—with or without the Trump administration.

She writes: “It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map [provided by the Mueller report] leads—to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not. Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.”

Clinton wants a bipartisan foreign policy that is “fearless” in its aggression against not only Russia, but also China.

“Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well,” she warns. Unless Trump is “held accountable, the president will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.”

Changing what needs to be changed, such words could have been penned by Robert Welch himself. Confronting a fascistic president, the Democrats have managed to frame their entire opposition around a right-wing narrative. If the Democrats had their way and Trump were removed—to be replaced, don’t forget, by the ultra-right Vice President Mike Pence—it is almost certain that the immediate consequence would be war with nuclear-armed Russia.

Inextricably connected to the conflicts over foreign policy is the escalation of the attack on democratic rights within the United States. Reprising the ravings of Dies, social discontent is attributed to the nefarious efforts of Russia to “sow discord” within the United States.

Significantly, Clinton cites as a model the actions of the ruling class after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when “Congress established an independent, bipartisan commission to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks.” She concludes, “We need a similar commission to help protect our elections.”

The September 11 attacks—a terrorist atrocity that killed nearly 3,000 people—were followed by the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Department, the Northern Command, domestic spying, Guantanamo Bay, the institution of torture and drone assassinations as government policy, and other crimes. The campaign of the Democrats over the Russian “attack”—a lie fashioned from whole cloth—has been accompanied by far-reaching moves to censor the internet under the guise of combating “fake news.”

The Democrats’ warmongering and attack on democratic rights come together in the persecution of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, whose enduring contribution to the population of the world was the exposure of the crimes of American imperialism. For this, Assange is currently imprisoned in Britain, facing imminent rendition to the United States. The courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning is in jail for refusing to testify against him.

Such is Clinton’s defense of “our democracy.”

All of this further demonstrates that in the conflict between Trump and the Democratic Party there is no progressive or democratic faction. The anti-Russia narrative has not been challenged by any section of the Democratic Party, including Bernie Sanders, who is again seeking to cover up this warmongering party with a thin veneer of social reforms that it has no intention of implementing.

The conflict between the Democrats and the Trump administration is a conflict between two reactionary factions of the ruling class. All those political organizations and groups that are seeking to direct social opposition behind the Democratic Party are playing the most criminal role. They are no less terrified than Trump and the Democrats of the development of a genuine socialist movement of the working class, which will oppose American capitalism and its wars.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

And What Else Did WikiLeaks Reveal? Eight Years Since WikiLeaks Released the Hugely Important Guantánamo Files

It’s Eight Years Since WikiLeaks Released the Hugely Important Guantánamo Files, Leaked by Chelsea Manning, On Which I Worked as a Media Partner 

by Andy Worthington


April 25, 2019

Exactly eight years ago, on April 25, 2011, I wrote an article entitled, “WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners” (posted on my website as WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Guantánamo Files, Exposes Detention Policy as a Construct of Lies), for WikiLeaks, to accompany the first of 765 formerly classified military files on the Guantánamo prisoners — the Guantánamo Files — that the organization began releasing publicly that day. The files primarily revealed the extent to which the supposed evidence at Guantanamo largely consisted of statements made by unreliable witnesses, who told lies about their fellow prisoners, either because they were tortured or otherwise abused, or bribed with the promise of better living conditions.


The logo for WikiLeaks’ release of the Guantánamo Files on April 25, 2011

I was working with WikiLeaks as a media partner for the release of the files, and I had written the introductory article linked to above in just a few hours of turbo-charged activity after midnight on April 25, 2011, as I had received notification from WikiLeaks that the files had also been leaked to the Guardian and the New York Times, who would be publishing them imminently.

WikiLeaks had previously become well-known — notorious, even — through its release, in April 2010, of “Collateral Murder“, a “classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff,” and its further releases, throughout 2010, with the Guardian and the New York Times and other newspapers, of hundreds of thousands of pages of classified US documents — war logs from the Afghan and Iraq wars, and US diplomatic cables from around the world.

Like the Guantánamo Files, all of these documents had been leaked to them by Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning), a lowly intelligence analyst based in Iraq who had become profoundly disillusioned with the way that the US operated, although it should be noted that, on Guantánamo, WikiLeaks had previously managed, via a different source, to secure and publish manuals from the prison detailing its “Standard Operating Procedures,” which were released in November 2007, the year after the organization was founded, and which I discussed here.

To provide some background to my involvement with WikiLeaks as a media partner on the release of the Guantánamo Files (and please do check out all the media outlets, myself included, who have worked with WikiLeaks over the years), I had been contacted by the organization at the end of March 2011, after I had just been discharged from hospital, where consultants managed to save two of my toes that had gone black after I developed a rare blood disease that announced itself via a blood clot that cut off the blood to two of my toes.

Painfully, because the worst-affected toe was still gangrenous (although it subsequently healed), I made my way to Norfolk, where Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, had been given shelter by Vaughan Smith, the founder of the Frontline Club, a journalists’ club in Paddington, following a brief imprisonment related to rape claims made by two women in Sweden. Assange was on bail, and WikiLeaks’ makeshift HQ, in a grand house in the middle of nowhere, looked exactly like you would imagine a bunch of techno-nerds would look like if they were dropped into the plot of a Hollywood thriller.

I didn’t develop any kind of bond with Assange, but I found him bright and attentive, and, I suspected, slightly chastened by his experience of prison. Mostly, however, I was fully supportive of the need for the Guantánamo Files to be released, and, after they were made available, via secretive measures, to myself and to all the other media outlets working with WikiLeaks on their release, and I subsequently began researching them, I was in no doubt about their importance, as I discussed in the article I linked to at the top of this article, and as I discussed in subsequent articles (some of which were posted on WikiLeaks’ website), including WikiLeaks: The Unknown Prisoners of Guantanamo, WikiLeaks and the 14 Missing Guantánamo Files and WikiLeaks and the 22 Children of Guantánamo, and also in my million-word analysis of over half the files, which I undertook throughout the rest of 2011 and into 2012.

As a result, when we suddenly had to go public wth the files on April 25, 2011, I was able to brief the reporters on the significance of the files when we all met, by Victoria station, in the headquarters of the right-wing Daily Telegraph, the somewhat unlikely new British outlet for WikiLeaks, after both the Guardian and the New York Times had severed their relationship with him.

At that meeting were representatives of all the other media outlets working on the release of the files — the Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers, El Pais, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, Aftonbladet, La Repubblica and L’Espresso — and afterwards, when the Telegraph took us to lunch, I remember getting some insight into Assange’s frame of mind after the Telegraph‘s representatives, who were excited to have taken over from the Guardian as sponsors of the Hay-on-Wye literary festival, were trying to arrange how to get him there to speak, even though he had another appointment elsewhere on the day in question.

They suggested that they could hire a helicopter for him, to which he replied that his lawyers had told him to avoid helicopters, because they were the easiest form of transport to sabotage.

Within a week of the files being published, the US government conveniently located and killed Osama bin Laden, an act of Wild West vengeance that both removed the possibility of him ever being interrogated (to finally, perhaps, learn the truth that the nobodies at Guantánamo hadn’t been able to reveal through torture and abuse, because they knew nothing), and also silenced any further discussion of the Guantánamo files. In fact, Republicans and the right-wing media then concocted a false narrative that it was torture at Guantánamo that had led to the US locating bin Laden when that was simply not true.

Today’s anniversary is significant because Guantánamo is still open, and the files still reveal, to an unprecedented degree, the lies, extracted through torture and abuse, that form the sickeningly groundless basis under which 779 men — mostly not connected in any meaningful manner with either Al-Qaeda or the Taliban — were deprived of their liberty in an experimental and illegal prison in which they were held without charge or trial neither as criminal suspects nor as prisoners of war protected by the Geneva Conventions, but as “illegal enemy combatants” — a role invented by the US post-9/11 — with no fundamental rights whatsoever as human beings, a situation that, alarmingly, is still fundamentally true for the 40 men still held.

Free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning! 

 

 


Today’s anniversary is also significant, of course, because both Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are currently imprisoned as the US tries to work out if it can prosecute Assange.

The Justice Department under Donald Trump has revived a Grand Jury investigation of Assange, even though WikiLeaks contentiously released emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta during the 2016 US presidential election campaign, helping Trump to victory, and even though, as the Intercept revealed last year, Assange had expressed a preference for a Republican victory, explaining, essentially, that there would be better resistance from Democrats, liberals and the liberal media with Trump in charge, whereas, under Clinton, there would be inadequate opposition to the Democrats’ worst instincts,

Despite having been imprisoned for seven years prior to and after her 2012-13 court-martial, at which she received a 35-year sentence that President Obama commuted just before he left office in January 2017, Chelsea Manning was imprisoned again, on March 8 this year, in the women’s wing of the federal detention center in Alexandria, Virginia, for contempt of court because she won’t cooperate with the Grand Jury investigation, and on Monday the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied her request for bail.

Julian Assange, meanwhile, is currently being held in London’s maximum-security Belmarsh prison, having — evidently at the request of the US — been thrown out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge, where he had successfully sought asylum nearly seven years ago, under a more sympathetic Ecuadorian president, after breaching his bail.

From Belmarsh he is trying to find ways to fight his planned extradition to the US, although shamefully, since his imprisonment two weeks ago he has not yet been allowed to meet with his lawyers, who are only finally being allowed to meet with him tomorrow.

As we remember the publication of the Guantánamo files today, it remains hugely important that we also continue to call for Chelsea Manning to be freed, and for the British government to refuse to extradite Julian Assange to the US. As I explained after his arrest, in my article, Defend Julian Assange and WikiLeaks: Press Freedom Depends On It:

The arrest of Julian Assange ought to be of great concern to anyone who values the ability of the media, in Western countries that claim to respect the freedom of the press, to publish information about the wrongdoing of Western governments that they would rather keep hidden.

Those who leak information, like Chelsea Manning, need protection, and so do those in the media who make it publicly available; Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as much as those who worked with them on the release of documents — the New York Times and the Guardian, for example

If the US succeeds in taking down Julian Assange, no journalists, no newspapers, no broadcasters will be safe, and we could, genuinely, see the end of press freedom, with all the ramifications that would have for our ability, in the West, to challenge what, otherwise, might well be an alarming and overbearing authoritarianism on the part of our governments.

* * * * * 

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal. 

 


Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

Activists Seek Asylum for Venezuela's D.C. Embassy

Venezuela’s Parallel Ambassador Seated at OAS as Activists Defend Embassy

by TRNN


April 24, 2019

There is reason to believe that the so-called interim and self-declared president of Venezuela, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, will attempt to take over Venezuela’s embassy in Washington DC very soon, with the help of the Trump administration. If this happens, the US government would be violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

On April 13th the US Secret Service already helped a Guaidó representative to take over the office of Venezuela’s military attaché in DC. The takeover of diplomatic buildings and offices is taking place in the wake of an Organization of American States resolution of April 9th, in which – by a one-vote majority – the OAS permanent council decided to recognize Guaidó’s ambassador to the OAS. Guaidó’s representative, Gustavo Tarre, is now seated at OAS permanent council meetings.



The Organization of American States allowed the ambassador of Venezuela's self-declared president to participate in his first meeting. The move could signal an attempt to take over Venezuela's embassy in DC, which activists are defending.

Поддельные новости: Rosneft Forces Reuters' Retreat on Venezuela "Exclusives"

REUTERS BITES OFF TONGUE IN US WAR AGAINST VENEZUELA – ROSNEFT FORCES WITHDRAWAL OF NEWS FABRICATION

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears


April 25, 2019

Moscow - The Reuters news agency has published a retraction of an “exclusive” report on operations between the Venezuelan and Russian state oil companies, PDVSA and Rosneft, after disavowing the US-supplied source. Reuters has also acted after Rosneft applied for a criminal investigation of the media company’s operations in Russia by Moscow prosecutors.

The acknowledgment of misreporting has exposed evidence that Reuters’ reporters and bureaux in Caracas, Venezuela, Mexico City, Houston, London and Washington are routinely relaying disinformation supplied by US Government agents in their attempt to damage Venezuelan, Russian, Indian and Chinese operations in the international oil market.

According to a publication by Reuters issued on Tuesday, April 23 – but made to appear to have been published on April 18 – the news agency has admitted it “could not determine” its earlier allegation that a “scheme uncovered by Reuters” was true. The new Reuters claim also disavows the charge that Rosneft was acting illegally with Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) to bust US sanctions imposed on the Venezuelan company in January; and on Evrofinance Mosnarbank, a state bank, sanctioned on March 11.

Now, Reuters says, “experts see no violation of sanctions.” The “scheme uncovered by Reuters” reported on April 18 has been reprinted this week as a “new approach described to Reuters.”

The unprecedented retreat by Reuters followed a Rosneft press statement issued on April 19.


The company called the Reuters report an,

“outright lie…purposeful misinformation, legalization of rumours…invent[ed] information fabricated for the purpose of causing damage to the Russian economy, Russian companies, and the Russian state.” 

Welcoming the correction in Moscow, Rosneft calls it “an unprecedented admission that we were right in our evaluation of Reuters’ article.”

International journalist sources express concern that the reputation and ability of Reuters to report internationally has been damaged by what they call the “Americanization” of the news agency. This is a reference to the editor in chief of Reuters, Stephen Adler, who is based in New York.

Reuters’ spokesmen in New York and in London have yet to clarify the sources of the now repudiated allegation. So far, they also refuse to correct an earlier Reuters “exclusive” with allegations against PDVSA and Rosneft, whose sources were also from Washington, and whose veracity was challenged at the time as propaganda for the US sanctions war against Venezuela and Russia. 

According to the byline in print, the reporter responsible for the original and corrected version of the Reuters allegations is Marianna Parraga (right). Educated at a private university in Venezuela, Parraga worked first for Reuters in Caracas.

Subsequently based at the same time in Mexico City and in Houston, Texas, she calls herself an energy correspondent for Latin America.

Reuters has published several “exclusive” reports with Parraga’s byline, all claiming anonymous sources for evidence that the Venezuelan Government and the state oil company PDVSA are breaking US sanctions; read the list of Parraga’s list of “exclusives” here.

In March, reporting from Houston, Parraga advertised a document she was given by the US-financed opposition to the Venezuelan government. In a pitch for US investor support, Parraga claimed “Venezuela’s interim government led by congress head Juan Guaido is preparing new legislation to reverse late President Hugo Chavez’s energy industry nationalization, allowing private companies a bigger role in its oilfields and shrinking state-run PDVSA, according to sources and a draft seen by Reuters.”

In her Twitter feed Parraga has not made a personal correction of her misreporting. Instead, she continues to promote the April 18 publication.

Although the Reuter management has erased most traces of the original story, they have failed to “correct” the Yahoo internet version. Before it too disappears, here are several screen shots:



Directed from a headquarters in New York, Reuters’ editor-in-chief is a Harvard-educated American, Stephen Adler. Last month Adler issued a statement attacking the Myanmar (Burmese) Government for putting two Reuters reporters on trial, convicting them on criminal charges, and sending them to prison for long sentences.

“They are honest, admirable journalists who did not break the law, and they should be freed as a matter of urgency,” Adler claimed. 

According to the New York Times version of the Reuters case in Myanmar, the evidence against the two reporters came from local police who caught the journalists with official documents in violation of the local official secrets law. Reuters engaged for their defence Amal Clooney, a member of the London law firm defending Julian Assange against the US Government indictment for conspiracy to violate one of the US official secrets statutes.


Left, Stephen Adler in New York. Centre, Reuters reporters in Myanmar, 
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. Right: Julian Assange in London.

Adler, according to two sources briefed on his conversation, has Americanized the global coverage of Reuters. At the same time, the sources comment, Adler has imposed cost and job-cutting which has reduced the number of reporters and flow of news from sources in countries with which the US Government is engaged in information warfare. Editing and rewriting Reuters news flow have increasingly been centralized by Adler in the US.

Last November, in what Parraga and a colleague from the Reuters bureau in Washington called an “exclusive”, Reuters claimed a secret meeting in Caracas between Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was “one of the clearest signs of strain between crisis-stricken Venezuela and its key financier Russia.”

 Reuters reported its evidence came from “two sources briefed on the [Sechin-Maduro] conversation last Saturday”.

Read the Reuters story here.


Doubt that Sechin had been in Caracas when Reuters claimed, and evidence that the reported “crisis” between Rosneft, PDVSA and the Maduro government had been fabricated in Washington, can be followed in detail here.

Yesterday the spokesmen for Reuters, Heather Carpenter (left) in New York, was asked detailed questions about the veracity of both Parraga “exclusives” – the November report and the April 18 report. Concretely, by telephone and email, she was asked to clarify the evidence and the “two sources” on which the November publication was based.

She was also invited to explain how Reuters had verified Parraga’s material before publishing it.

Carpenter was also asked to explain why this week’s correction of Parraga’s April 18 report has been published as if on the original date; why the corrected version added reporting from Reuters bureaux in Caracas, New Delhi and London which had not been identified in the original; and whether the published correction is an acknowledgement by Reuters that the origin of the claim, which can no longer be “determined”, is US Government information-war material. Why, the spokesman was questioned, had Parraga and her colleagues cited sources at the US Treasury and the State Department without reporting from Rosneft or the Russian Government?

Carpenter acknowledged receiving the questions. “We will come back to you on this,” she replied. She didn’t. A London spokesman for Adler refused to answer the questions.