The Sydney rally to defend Julian Assange: An important step forward – By WSWS

Julian Assange

18 June 2018

Yesterday, Sunday June 17, a demonstration was held in Sydney’s Town Hall Square to fight for the immediate and unconditional freedom of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. The rally demanded that the Australian government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull secure the release of Assange from his confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and his safe return to Australia.

The rally was introduced and chaired by longstanding Socialist Equality Party (SEP) leader Linda Tenenbaum. It was addressed by SEP National Secretary James Cogan; Evrim Yazgin, the president of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at the University of Melbourne; and Sue Phillips, the national convener of the Committee For Public Education (CFPE). It concluded with a powerful speech by well known journalist and documentarist John Pilger, who has been a tireless fighter for the freedom of Julian Assange and the media.

The rally was based on the political principle that the defense of Assange is inseparably linked to the fight against the oppressive capitalist system, which is the cause of war, social inequality and all attacks on democratic rights.

An audience of several hundred people, including many students and workers, attended and vigorously applauded the speakers. They attended despite a total establishment media blackout and the hostility of the entire official political set-up towards the defence of Assange.

Opening the rally, Tenenbaum declared, “The Socialist Equality Party has organised this rally to begin the fight to build a powerful defence campaign in Australia, New Zealand and internationally that will bring together all those committed to democratic rights—the right of journalists to inform the population, their right to freedom of speech, and the right of everyone to be informed of the truth. These are issues of the most fundamental character. The suppression of the truth, of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, goes hand in hand with the destruction of democratic rights.”

In his address, James Cogan declared that the rally was “crucial for the working class, because it is part of the greater struggle for all the social and democratic rights of the vast mass of humanity.”

Cogan explained that increasing awareness of and concerns about the danger of war were developing within the working class and youth “in these times when the American president speaks casually of ‘totally destroying’ entire countries with nuclear weapons.”

“Of perhaps the most decisive importance,” Cogan continued, “the working class and the youth are coming back into struggle in the United States—the epicenter of world reaction and capitalist degradation.

“One cannot understand the determination of the American ruling elite to silence WikiLeaks and Assange without an understanding of their fear of the working class. The capitalist ruling classes and their representatives in the US and internationally are terrified of the power that the Internet provides to the working class, to ordinary people.

“It gives them access to alternative analysis and news; the ability to exchange information and opinions; and to politically organise across national borders: to unite together as an international force.”

The speaker observed, “Over the past three weeks, as we have promoted this rally, and the vigils that are taking place on June 19, we have revealed the extent of the support for Assange and WikiLeaks that exists in the working class in Australia and internationally.

“The establishment has abandoned him. Millions of people have not. What governments and political parties do now, at a time when Assange faces immense danger, is not going to be forgotten.”

The speech delivered by John Pilger provided a fierce and penetrating exposure of all those politicians, newspaper editors, journalists, ex-liberals and “ex-lefts” who have abandoned Julian Assange to the wolves. It constituted a powerful defence of democratic rights.

“I know Julian Assange well,” he began. “I regard him as a close friend, a person of extraordinary resilience and courage. I have watched a tsunami of lies and smear engulf him, endlessly, vindictively, perfidiously; and I know why they smear him.

“In 2008, a plan to destroy both WikiLeaks and Assange was laid out in a top secret document dated 8 March, 2008. The authors were the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessments Branch of the US Defence Department. They described in detail how important it was to destroy the ‘feeling of trust’ that is WikiLeaks’ ‘centre of gravity.’

“This would be achieved, they wrote, with threats of ‘exposure [and] criminal prosecution,’ and an unrelenting assault on reputation. The aim was to silence and criminalise WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech.

“Their main weapon would be personal smear. Their shock troops would be enlisted in the media—those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth. The irony is that no one told these journalists what to do. I call them Vichy journalists—after the Vichy government that served and enabled the German occupation of wartime France.”

Pilger’s invocation of “Vichy” was a well chosen metaphor, and one that is particularly apt today.

A whole layer of pseudo-left organisations boycotted the rally. Nothing could more clearly expose the relationship between the “identity politics” of this cowardly milieu and the interests of imperialism. They utilised the filthy “rapist” slander campaign, concocted against Assange in Sweden, to line up with their own governments and disown any defence of the courageous whistleblower.

Against this affluent, self-interested and anti-working class layer, Pilger insisted, “No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done in calling rapacious power to account. It is as if a one-way moral screen has been pushed back to expose the imperialism of liberal democracies: the commitment to endless warfare and the division and degradation of ‘unworthy’ lives: from Grenfell Tower to Gaza.”

The rally was not a one-off event. The International Committee of the Fourth International will continue to develop and extend the fight for Julian Assange’s freedom throughout the world, and to mobilise the vast social power of the international working class in defence of social and democratic rights. Sunday’s rally underscored the fact that such a struggle can be waged only on the basis of an anti-imperialist, anti-war and socialist perspective.

Linda Tenenbaum

Outcome of Assange Case Could Undermine the Rights of Millions – by Whitney Webb (MINT PRESS)

Australians march through Brisbane to protest the detention of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, Dec. 10, 2010. Tertius Pickard | AP
War on Wikileaks

If Australia reneges on its obligations to protect Assange and fight for his rights, the implications such actions would hold for every other citizen of the country are as vast as they are chilling.

LONDON – As the sixth anniversary of his extended stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London approaches, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange is faced with increasingly limited options. Barred from communicating with the outside world and from receiving most visitors, Assange’s only hope of avoiding extradition to the United States on trumped-up espionage charges comes down to the governments of the two countries of which he is a citizen: Australia and Ecuador.

In an unexpected move last week, the Australian government sent officials to meet with Assange and later confirmed that Australia would finally extend consular assistance to the Australian-born journalist after years of failing to do so and even threatening to revoke his Australian passport. The Australian government, in the past, has attempted to argue that it can do little to help Assange’s situation, asserting that it was “unable to intervene in the due process of another country’s court proceedings or legal matters.”

It has also failed to publicly comment on the UN’s finding that Assange has been subjected to arbitrary detention by the United Kingdom — asserting, as recently as last week, that the government’s position on the matter is “confidential,” and deflecting responsibility by claiming that the UN’s findings “are directed at the United Kingdom and Sweden, not at Australia.”

However, given the fact that Sweden has dropped all legal proceedings against him, and with his protected status at the Ecuadorian embassy in question, Australia is now coming under unprecedented pressure to act. And the political pressure the Australian government is facing involves the broader implications the Assange case holds for Australian citizens as a collective, not just for Assange as an individual.

As recently noted by Richard Hoffman at WSWS:

The issue at stake for the Australian government is its commitment to the protection of the human rights of its citizens, including internationally recognized legal and democratic norms such as free speech, the right of due process, freedom from cruel and degrading treatment, and the right not to be punished in the absence of a criminal act.”

Indeed, Assange’s detention in the embassy has been carried out in the complete absence of criminal charges, as the only remaining legal justification for his arrest by the U.K. government is his breach of bail.

However, as Hoffman writes, a breach of bail would not lead to incarceration in the U.K., as the primary punishment for such infractions is the payment of a bail bond, which was forfeited in Assange’s case. Thus, the only reasonable conclusion regarding the U.K.’s intention to detain Assange if he leaves the embassy is that it is to extradite him to the United States — the very basis for his protected status.

 

What undercutting Assange would mean for all Aussies

Thus, if Australia reneges on its obligations to protect Assange and fight for his rights, the implications such actions would hold for every other citizen of the country are as vast as they are chilling. It would set the legal precedent for Australia to allow any of its citizens to be detained, imprisoned and/or silenced by another government without charges, greatly weakening the rights of any Australian national living or traveling abroad. Essentially, it would mean that many of the rights granted to an Australian by right of one’s citizenship would evaporate the second he or she set foot on foreign soil.

Were Assange anyone else, the Australian government would be forced to act – at the very least – to maintain the appearance that it is committed to the rights of citizens and its own national sovereignty. However, Assange is no “normal” individual in this sense – his arrest is a “priority” to the U.S. government, which is now seeking to maximize pressure to extradite Assange while his protected status is at its weakest.

Australians march through Brisbane to protest the detention of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, Dec. 10, 2010. Tertius Pickard | AP

Thus, the degree to which the Australian government is influenced by the United States will be the deciding factor in this case. That influence, particularly under the current government of Australia, is as strong as ever and has been undeniable for decades. Indeed, since World War II, Australia has been very much a part of U.S. empire, hosting numerous U.S.-related military facilities and consistently offering support for U.S. wars in exchange for “preferential” access to U.S.-manufactured weapons.

That relationship has only grown stronger in recent years, in part due to Australia’s major role in facilitating the U.S. military’s “pivot to Asia” that was first announced under Barack Obama. With the current prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, having been a former executive at the U.S.-based “vampire squid” bank Goldman Sachs, the past influence of the U.S. on Australia’s government remains a factor that continues to demand attention.

Will the long-standing influence of the U.S. military-industrial complex be enough for Australia to choose to jeopardize the rights of its other 25 million citizens by setting a dangerous precedent in Assange’s case? The extent of the “consular assistance” that Australia has now extended to Assange will effectively answer that question.

 

Ecuador’s pivot towards U.S. empire

While Australia susses out its position, the most pressing threat to Assange’s security seems to come from the country that first granted him asylum, Ecuador. Once defiant in the face of U.S. pressure, Ecuador under President Lenín Moreno has sought to return to its neo-colonial status under the thumb of the United States, despite Moreno’s having campaigned as a loyalist to former President Rafael Correa, who had granted Assange asylum in the first place.

Moreno’s “betrayal” of Correa was foreshadowed by WikiLeaks’ releases in the past. In 2010, WikiLeaks’ released a 2007 document on Moreno written by the Bush-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Linda Jewell. In the report, Jewell stated her view that then-Vice President Moreno would be “useful” to Washington:

Moreno welcomed the visit and expressed his admiration for the United States … He said that Ecuador had to get past its cultural inclination to always play the ‘blame game’ with respect to its problems, which so often includes blaming the U.S. for one thing or another … He will be a useful partner and advocate for many of our development assistance programs, and he will likely also be a useful and strategic conduit for political messages that may be difficult to deliver directly to Correa.”

This past Saturday, Correa’s Twitter account tweeted a screenshot of this same document, leading some to suggest that the document’s publication by Assange’s organization helped motivate Moreno’s recent decision to silence the journalist.

As the document foretold, Moreno indeed has sought to return his country to the sphere of U.S. influence. He has barred Correa from running for re-election and removed Correa loyalists from his cabinet. He has also begun paving the way for the U.S. military to regain its foothold in the country, which was abruptly ended in 2009 when Correa expelled the U.S. military from its base. The only exception is Ecuador’s granting of citizenship to Assange. However, this was done behind Moreno’s back and orchestrated by Correa ally María Fernanda Espinosa of Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry.

As in Australia’s case, the actions of Moreno’s government in the Assange case will have similarly far-reaching implications for the rights of its citizens, especially if Moreno chooses to revoke Assange’s asylum. Yet, while Moreno is likely to avoid revoking Assange’s asylum directly, his decision to gag Assange suggests that he is opting to make Assange’s stay in the embassy so miserable that he will choose to leave of his own accord.

Correa has hinted that this is the case, as he has called Assange’s current treatment by Ecuador within the embassy a form of “torture,” and also noted months prior that Moreno was set to ensure that Assange’s days in the embassy were numbered. If Ecuador is willing to “torture” one of its own citizens in an effort to force him to “voluntarily” rescind its protections, its commitment to protecting the right to free speech and even the very dignity of its other citizens is immediately called into question.

Translation | Moreno delivers Ecuador to the USA, part of his betrayal of our people and the Patria Grande (shared homeland). Assange’s days in Ecuador’s embassy in London are numbered.

While the “vassal state” status of Australia and potentially Ecuador may do much to endanger the status of Assange, a negative decision by both governments on this single case would also set dangerous precedents for the rights of all citizens of both of those countries, a combined population of over 41 million people. As a result, the outcome of Assange’s case could well be much more damaging to Australia or Ecuador than the content of any past or future WikiLeaks release. If both countries fail to act on their obligation to protect one of their own, it will force them both to acknowledge that their citizens’ rights and their national sovereignty come second to the lures and demands of the American empire.

Top Photo | WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange looks out the window of the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he has been confined since 2012. Luke MacGregor | Bloomberg

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The West is racing towards full-blown economic collapse and when it comes it will be devastating – By Egon von Greyerz /King World News (SOTT)

eye on the world

As the world edges closer to the next crisis, today the man who has become legendary for his predictions on QE and historic moves in currencies, told King World News there is no way out and this is why the global collapse will be devastating.

20th Birthday Celebration!

The ECB (European Central Bank) just had its 20th birthday. But there is really nothing to celebrate. The EU is in a total mess and the Euro, which was launched on January 1, 1999, is a failed currency. Every president of the ECB has had to deal with fires that had very little to do with price stability but were more a question of survival. Most of these fires were a lot more serious than the candles in the Euro cake above which Draghi is trying to blow out. During the Frenchman Trichet’s watch, he had to deal with the Great Financial Crisis that started in 2006…

West Racing Toward Full-Blown Collapse

The only mandate of the ECB is to maintain price stability. Well that clearly has been a very costly exercise. Between 2006 and 2011 the ECB balance sheet tripled from €1 trillion to €3 trillion. But the crisis didn’t finish in 2011. After a brief reduction in debt, the balance sheet expanded fast from €2.3 trillion in 2014 to €4 trillion today. It is quite remarkable to watch the creation of a supranational bank which automatically creates a purpose for its own existence in the form of massive money printing. This is no better than burning money and serves no purpose whatsoever. And it is of course far distant from its purpose of price stability.

Money printing creates high inflation and eventually hyperinflation. The only reason why we haven’t seen high conventional inflation in the EU is that all the printed money, just like in the US, has stayed with the banks. The result has been low inflation in consumer products but huge asset inflation. Thus, we have seen massive increases in stock, bond and property prices but not in consumer prices. So major money creation by the ECB and the Eurozone banks have so far had only minor inflationary impact. But as the velocity of money increases, so will inflation. This moment is not far away. The same will happen in the US. As velocity of money accelerates, US inflation will pick up rapidly.

The EU now has major economic and/or political problems in many countries. Italy’s new coalition government is a protest against the EU and Euro. With debt to GDP already the highest in Europe, the new regime will exacerbate the problems. Lower taxes and higher spending will guarantee that. As the chart below shows, Italian debt to GDP is already 140%. By 2050 this is projected to grow to 210%. As interest rates go up, servicing the growing debt will soon absorb all tax revenue. Italy will be bankrupt long before 2050 and default on all its debt.

Italian debt

Between now and 2050, the Italian working age population is forecast to decline by 1/3, from 36 million to 24 million. There will be a lot less people to pay for a much higher debt.

Italian working-age population

The consequences of massive debt, economic stagnation and population decline will be a much lower GDP, which is expected to decline 35% by 2050.

GDP 2016-2050

If the above forecast of a major fall in the population as well as a substantial increase in debt is even vaguely accurate, Italy is on its way to the Dark Ages.

I must stress here that I find it so sad that this glorious country is suffering so much already and will suffer a lot more. Personally I love Italy – the people, the food, the architecture, the history and the Giola di Vivere (joie de vivre) of the Italians. It will be so tragic to see all of this disintegrate. Hopefully it will take a long time, although, sadly, the crisis might actually be around the corner.

But Italy is just one of many countries which will collapse in coming years. Spain is in a similar situation and the prime minister has just been kicked out. Greece’s problems have never been resolved and this fine country is also bankrupt and so are the Greek banks. I could go on with Portugal, France, Ireland, the UK and many others. Most of these countries have insoluble problems. It is only a matter of degree and time when the EU/Eurozone house of cards comes down. The map below shows potential leaving countries and names.

EU leaving countries

Coming back to the ECB’s main objective of price stability, that has failed totally. The change from the local currencies of mark, franc, lira, pesetas, etc, has disguised what has really happened. Many countries like, Spain, Italy Portugal and Greece, used to be very inexpensive when they had their own currency. That is no longer the case. The change to the Euro has hidden the real inflation that has taken place in these countries. No wonder the Germans called it the TEURO. Teuer in German means expensive.

EU flag

The consequence of one currency fits all is a disaster for the weaker Eurozone countries like Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal etc. The Euro is much too strong for these countries. This leads to weak exports as well as balance of payment and budget deficits. Countries like Germany on the other hand, benefit from a weak Euro which generates strong exports and surpluses. But the other side of the coin is that the ECB, which means mainly Germany, must finance the deficits of the weaker countries. And we all know that these debts will never be repaid. So whatever way you turn, the EU experiment will end in disaster. It is only a matter of how long it will take.

The Major Disease The World Will Face In Coming Years

If Italy, Greece or Spain had their own currencies, these would have weakened substantially already. Currency debasement is going to be the major contagious disease that the world will have to live with in coming years. It will happen to most currencies and spread like wildfire. Like many diseases, it normally starts in the periphery. Just take the examples of Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela. The currencies of these three countries have collapsed in this century and the fall is now accelerating.

The Turkish lira has lost 97% against gold since January 2000, and the fall is now picking up speed. For anyone who has been protected in gold, the gold price has gone up 38x vs the lira in the last 18 years (see chart below).

currency vs gold

The problem is worse in Argentina. Argentina used to have a very strong economy 100 years ago but lately they have gone through one crisis after the next. The Peso has lost 99% against gold since 2000. This means that gold is up 119x vs the peso in this century.

Finally let us look at the perfect example of a disastrously managed socialist economy with the resulting hyperinflation. I am taking about Venezuela of course. The Bolivar has lost 99.999% against gold since January 2000. So it now costs 550,000X more Bolivars to purchase an ounce of gold just in this century.

Comment: Except that Venezuela and it’s “disastrously managed socialist economy” has been a major target of financial, political and social sabotage for all those years from the empire to its north.

This all might sound unreal. These three currencies have lost between 97% and 99.999% in just 18 years. Well, it certainly isn’t unreal to the people in the three countries who have to suffer these precipitous losses of value of their money and disastrous falls in their standards of living.

And don’t think for one second that their governments told them to protect themselves, even when they knew they were going to print unlimited amounts of fiat money. No, the people had no warning. It is the same in all Western countries today. Governments in Europe, the US and Japan, just to mention a few, are already on the way to destroying their currencies in the 2000s. As the table shows, the Euro is down 75%, the Dollar 78% and the Yen 79% against gold since 2000. So inflation, leading to hyperinflation is already on the way in the West. It always starts slowly, although the fall so far in the last 18 years is already significant.

EU currency

But no government talks about how they are destroying their currency and no Western government tells their people to protect themselves by holding gold. They do the opposite. They manipulate the price of gold and see gold as a barbarous relic that has no place in a modern currency system. We know why they do this, of course, because gold can’t be printed or debased. Also, the gold price reveals their deceitful actions in ruining the currency and the economy.

Finally let’s look at two countries that understand gold and where the people buy and hold gold in important quantities.

Chindia gold demand

As the above chart shows, China and India have bought almost 25,000 tonnes since 2008. This means that on average they have bought the majority of annual gold mine production each year.

So my advice to investors is to learn from the recent economic problems/disasters in Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela. Any amount of personal gold, even very small, would have saved the holders in these countries from misery. It is also critical to heed the strong warning signs of deep trouble coming in Europe, Japan and the USA. A 75-79% fall in the currencies of these countries is telling us that they will all go to their intrinsic value of ZERO in the next few years.

And more importantly:

IGNORE THE PROPAGANDA FROM WESTERN GOVERNMENTS AND BANKS WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND HISTORY OR GOLD. INSTEAD FOLLOW THE LEAD OF CHINA AND INDIA AND PROTECT YOURSELVES AGAINST THE COMING DESTRUCTION OF PAPER MONEY, WITH PHYSICAL GOLD AND SOME SILVER.” For those who would like to read more of Egon von Greyerz’s fantastic articles CLICK HERE.

Comment: See also: Gold set to breakout amid coming economic downturn, says financial expert

Singer-songwriter Roger Waters calls for defence of Assange By WSWS

By our reporters
4 June 2018

The above message was displayed above the stage of musician Roger Waters’ “Us + Them 2018” concert in Berlin, Germany on June 2.

Roger Waters was part of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd from 1965 to 1985. For the past 33 years, he has continued a solo career, which has included staging the largest live concert event in history.

Throughout his long career, singer-songwriter Waters has spoken out publicly against war, oppression and injustice.

He emailed the World Socialist Web Site last month to convey his support for international action to defend Julian Assange.

Netanyahu and May ‘partners in crime’ over Gaza’s ‘rivers of blood’, Palestinian activist tells RT – By RT

Netanyahu and May ‘partners in crime’ over Gaza’s ‘rivers of blood’,  Palestinian activist tells RT
British PM Theresa May is complicit in the ‘crimes’ of her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, a leading UK-based Palestinian campaigner has told RT, a day before the Israeli leader visits London.

Netanyahu has this week been visiting his European allies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, lobbying them to follow the US and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

While he plans to do the same with May, London-based Palestinian activists are demanding he face questions over the scores of Palestinians shot in Gaza by the Israeli military in the past two months.

Up to 121 Palestinians have been killed and around 13,000 injured since the Great Return March started on March 30. Protesters marched to a fence, erected by the Israeli government, demanding the right to return to the land they were expelled or fled from following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. As they approached the fence they were shot at. Israel claims most of the protesters were Hamas ‘terrorists’ trying to infiltrate their country.

In the UK, thousands are expected to protest outside Downing Street on Tuesday for all of those killed, which include Palestinian nurse Razan Al-Najjar ,21, who was shot dead by Israeli snipers last Friday while helping those injured by the Israel Defence Force’s use of live ammunition.

Up to 50 UK health workers signed a letter saying they are “deeply concerned about the level of violence” in Gaza, citing that Al-Najjar’s death was in “violation” of the Geneva Conventions. They called on the government to follow suit and urged the UN to launch an independent inquiry into her visibly unprovoked killing.

Adie Mormech, from Stop Arming Israel and previously a lecturer in Gaza, told RT: “Razan is the second Palestinian medic to be killed in the last 2 months and many more have been shot and injured.

“The horror of these crimes against the Palestinians is clear for all who dare to look, well documented by all the major human right organisations and amidst the ongoing, crippling 11 year siege of Gaza that I spent two years living in, when it was deplorable but not as bad as it is now.

“One has to ask, how many medics, with their hands in the air, have to be executed by the Israeli army until the world holds Israel to account?”

The Downing Street protest comes shortly after it surfaced that the UK’s defense contractors are selling a record amount of arms to Israel.

According to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the UK last year issued £221m worth of arms licenses to defense contractors selling military equipment to Israel. A significant increase compared to £86 million ($114 million) in 2016.

Mormech said: “Britain has increased Israeli weapons exports the more Palestinians have been murdered. It is appalling and completely inexcusable that Israel is rewarded by Britain given the rivers of blood that are currently flowing through Gaza from the shootings and accompanying bombing campaigns.

“The fact Netanyahu is visiting the UK says to me that these are partners in crimes, profiting from the spoils of the brutality with which Israel is treating the Palestinians.”

The recent escalation of violence has prompted various British politicians to demand the the government halts its arms sales to Israel, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn calling for their review in April.

The conduct by the IDF over the past sixty days has been met with international criticism from human rights organizations, who have called into question the appropriateness of using live ammunition against peaceful protesters. Israel blames Palestinian organization Hamas for the casualties, and claimed most of those killed were members of terrorist groups trying to make it into the country to attack Jewish forces and civilians.

The UN has launched a war crime investigation into what it described as Israel’s “wholly disproportionate” reaction to the protesters. The US was one of the two states opposed to the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution, while the UK was among the 14 to abstain.

By Claire Gilbody-Dickerson, RT

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Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video – By RT

 

Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video
The Northern Fleet, which is arguably the most powerful Russian naval force, is celebrating 285 years of operations. Its anniversary video shows state-of-the-art vessels and unique installations in the Russian Arctic region.

Established back in 1733, the Northern Fleet comprises some of Russia’s most remarkable military hardware, with 41 submarines, 37 surface vessels and ground troops making it a “cross-branch strategic force”, as the Russian Defense Ministry puts it in a Twitter post. Its anniversary video shows various military exercises staged by the Northern Fleet forces, including submarines firing cruise and ballistic missiles, Tu-95 strategic bombers flying training sorties and military divers holding underwater firing drills.

The flagship of the fleet is a nuclear-powered battlecruiser the ‘Pyotr Velikiy,’ one of the biggest nuclear-propelled ships in the world. The ‘Admiral Kuznetsov,’ Russia’s only serving aircraft carrier, which took part in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria in 2016, is also part of the Northern Fleet.

The naval force also has some of Russia’s most advanced nuclear-powered multipurpose submarines equipped with cruise and ballistic missiles. Two state-of-the-art submarines – a Yasen-M class vessel the Severodvinsk, carrying as many as 32 Onyx and Kalibr supersonic cruise missiles, and a Borei-class submarine the Yury Dolgorukiy, equipped with 16 Bulava nuclear ballistic missiles – are already in service in the fleet, while another Yasen-M class submarine, the Kazan, is currently undergoing sea trials.

The strategic force, which is particularly tasked with “defending Russia’s national interests in the Arctic,” also controls some unique military bases within the Polar circle. Of particular interest is Russia’s northernmost military base, called Arctic Shamrock.

The unique base is the world’s only permanent infrastructure facility built in the area located 80 degrees of latitude north of the Equator. The autonomous complex, which occupies an area of 14,000 square meters, allows up to 150 people to live and work there for as long as 18 months without any external support.

The Russian infrastructure in the Polar region is “unmatched” by any other country, the country’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, in December 2017.

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Sinister Choreography of the MH17 Probe to Smear Russia – By Finian CUNNINGHAM – (Strategic Culture Foundation )

Sinister Choreography of the MH17 Probe to Smear Russia

The Dutch-led probe into the 2014 Malaysian airliner disaster has the hallmarks of a psychological operation to frame-up Russia and to justify further sanctions and aggression from the NATO powers.

The so-called Joint Investigation Team (JIT) released an update last Thursday on its ongoing probe into the MH17 air disaster over Eastern Ukraine, in which all 298 people onboard were killed. The JIT’s latest release moves the accusation of culpability closer to Russia, with the team claiming that an anti-aircraft Buk missile, which allegedly shot down the plane, was brought into Ukraine by Russia’s 53rd Brigade based in Kursk, southwest Russia.

Then on Friday, the day after the high-profile JIT presentation, a news report compiled by US-based McClatchy News and UK-based self-styled online investigative website Bellingcat was published claiming to have identified a senior Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer as being involved in the transport of the missile system.

The Russian GRU officer is named as Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov. The report includes a photograph of the named man, who is said to have at least one residential address in Moscow and who used the call sign “Orion”. Tellingly, the McClatchy report claims that news of identifying the Russian military officer was not known by the JIT when it made its presentation the day before. But McClatchy reported that the Dutch-led investigators now want to arraign “Orion”.

Over the weekend, the Dutch, Australian and British governments upped the ante by formally accusing Russia, and demanding that Moscow pay financial compensation to families of the crash victims. Most of those onboard the doomed MH17 were Dutch, Malaysian and Australian nationals.

What we are seeing here is a choreographed sequence trying to give the public impression that developments in the probe are taking a natural course based on “evidence” imputing blame to Russia. The same technique of media psychological operation can be seen in the Skripal poisoning affair in which Moscow is blamed for trying to assassinate a former spy in England. Allegations, purported evidence, and then sanctions (expulsion of Russian diplomats) all follow a choreographed sequence.

On the MH17 incident, Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in the passenger plane’s downing. Moscow says its own investigation into the incident points to the Kiev regime’s armed forces as being responsible, possibly using their stock of Soviet-era Buk anti-aircraft missiles. Significantly, Russia’s investigative results have been spurned by the JIT, while Moscow’s offers of contributing to the probe have been rebuffed. As in the Skripal affair, where the British authorities have also refused Russia’s offers of joint investigation, or Russia’s ability to independently verify the supposedly incriminating data.

In a dramatic twist, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said that the missile casing displayed by the Dutch investigators bore features dating the weapon to 1986 when Ukraine was a Soviet Republic. The Russian military said that all such Buk models were replaced by its forces in 2011. Therefore, the alleged offensive weapon presented by the JIT last week could not have come from Russian forces. Besides, Moscow denies that any of its brigades crossed into Ukrainian territory.

The JIT, which includes investigators from Holland, Belgium, Australia, Malaysia and – invidiously – Ukrainian secret services, openly acknowledged in its presentation last week that it is cooperating with the Britain-based Bellingcat website. The latter is cited for its analysis of videos purporting to show the transport of a Russian military Buk convoy through Eastern Ukraine at around the time of the airliner being shot down. Those videos have already been exposed as fabrications.

Now it seems rather strange that the JIT was reported by McClatchy as not knowing of Bellingcat’s next “scoop” published the following day in which it claims to identify a Russian military officer, named as Oleg Ivannikov or Orion, for being involved in coordinating the transport of the Buk convoy, which the JIT says came from the 53rd Brigade in Russia’s Kursk.

The JIT and Bellingcat have collaborated in a previous update to its MH17 probe, in 2016, when the dubious videos were presented as purportedly showing the Buk convoy traversing Eastern Ukraine back to Russia. Bellingcat was cited again in the JIT’s update last Thursday.

That raises the question of why the information claiming to identify the Russian military officer was not available to JIT, even though the latter has worked closely with Bellingcat before? It was the next day when the McClatchy-Bellingcat news report came out, seemingly separate to the JIT presentation.

The sequence suggests a concerted effort to “build” a public perception that “clues” into the cause of the air crash and the incrimination of Russia are being assembled in an independent manner. When, in reality, the sequence is actually a deliberately orchestrated media campaign, to more effectively smear Russia.

Bellingcat’s media activities indicate that it is not the supposed “independent online investigative website” it claims to be. During the Syrian war, it has helped to peddle claims that videos sourced from the White Helmets are “authentic” when in fact there is strong evidence that the White Helmets have been fabricating videos of atrocities on behalf of NATO-sponsored terrorists in order to smear the Syrian government and its Russian ally.

For the Dutch-led JIT to associate with Bellingcat as a source of “evidence” is a matter of grave concern as to the probe’s professional credibility.

Moreover, what is also fatally damaging to the MH17 probe is that the Ukrainian secret services (SBU) under the control of the Western-backed Kiev regime, which came to power in the NATO-backed February 2014 coup d’état, is the source for much of the so-called evidence implicating Russia or the pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine for shooting down the MH17 airliner.

The dubious videos cited by the JIT and Bellingcat were sourced from the SBU. Those videos were purportedly posted on social media at the time of the plane crash by anonymous members of the public. The Russian government has dismissed those videos as fake.

The latest claims by McClatchy and Bellingcat of identifying a Russian military officer are based on allegations that mobile phone intercepts are attributable to the man named as Orion. Bellingcat appears to have expended a lot of effort trawling through digital phone books to identify the individual. The report also relies on embellishment of Orion’s alleged secret military career in Ukraine and South Ossetia by way of lending a sense of credibility and sinister innuendo.

However, the bottomline is that McClatchy and Bellingcat both admit that they are relying on the Ukrainian secret services for their phone intercepts, as they had previously for the videos of the alleged Russian Buk convoy.

The SBU and its Kiev masters have an obvious axe to grind against Moscow. Their partisan position, not to say potential liability for the air crash, thus makes the JIT and subsequent Western media reporting highly suspect.

Such close involvement of a Western media outlet (McClatchy) with a fake news engine (Bellingcat) and Ukrainian state intelligence is indicative of coordinated public psychological operation to smear Russia.

The prompt responses from Western governments calling for criminal proceedings against Moscow are further indication that the whole effort is an orchestrated campaign to frame-up Russia.

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Opinion: How China deals with an unpredictable US president Opinions CGTN

2018-05-30 13:37 GMT+8

Editor’s note: The article is translated from an editorial piece originally published in the Wechat official account of Bullpiano.

On Tuesday, the White House has announced a 25 percent tariff on 50 billion US dollars of Chinese goods in steps to reduce a deficit of 337 billion US dollars in trade with China. In a prompt response, the Ministry of Commerce of China issued a statement, appealing to the US to respect the agreement they reached a few weeks ago.

As the second largest economy in the world, menacing threats do not work well on China, as the last three months of trade disputes with the US has demonstrated.

When President Trump announced that the US would impose tariffs on products imported from China, China didn’t surrender but responded by placing tariffs on American agricultural products. The consequence of both the US and Chinese tariffs would be that the farmers in the Midwest would actually suffer the most.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a member of the US trade delegation to China, returns to a hotel in Beijing, on May 3, 2018./VCG Photo 

Since a large base of President Trump’s supporters are in that region, China’s counterattack struck a blow to President Trump’s core interests. China’s response forced the US to rethink its recklessness about starting a trade war with China.

The US had to admit that menacing threats doesn’t work well on China.

It was China’s counterattack that pulled both sides back to the negotiating table where they reached an agreement to stop the trade disputes.

The trade dispute between China and the US will also have a bad effect on the world economy. If the US doesn’t respect its agreement with China, it will not only be harmful to China’s interests, but it will also damage the interests of Americans, and will have a negative influence on other countries’ economies.

China shouldn’t be afraid of the US, but rather hold its tough stance. Although China is unwilling to start a trade war with the US, China does not fear a possible war, because US’ trade policies are not in line with global interests, which means it wouldn’t gain the support of people across the world.

In addition, given President Trump’s hallmark of being unpredictable, particularly when it comes to his policies, China should prepare a “plan B” just in case any agreements between China and the US breakdown. In other words, it’s necessary for China to take all potential situations into consideration in its policy-making process.

Gao Feng, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce of China was answering the questions about US’ sanction on ZTE in Beijing on April 19, 2018./VCG Photo

President Trump seems to be the most changeable leaders in the world now. His frequent policy changes are partly rooted in his personality, but are more connected to America’s two-party system. It is the Democrats’ pressure and criticism that has forced him to change his policies regularly.

The summit with Kim Jong Un, the leader of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), for example, is a good case for his changeable policies. Originally he announced to the world that he will meet Kim in Singapore in June. However, he canceled the summit just after a few weeks later, giving very unconvincing reasons. Being unpredictable has been the main tactic Trump employed to deal with his domestic critics and international opponents. He changes his polices regularly and frequently for the sake of his own interests.

As a successful businessman with an estimated four billion US dollar’s personal property empire, Trump always manages to maximize his profits when he is doing business. Likewise, he draws inspiration from his business career when he makes policy. Wilbur Ross, the current US Secretary of Commerce will visit China for the purpose of discussing the trade issue. Trump’s changeable policy could be seen as a tactic to gain an advantage in the next series of negotiations with China.

China however has seen through President Trump. In the statement published by the Ministry of Commerce in China, Beijing described the US policy as a “Strategic Statement”, which implies that it is pointless but just a strategy of the White House for the purpose of gaining an edge in the negotiations with China through exerting pressures. By using the rhetoric of being confident, being capable, and being experienced, Beijing has effectively warned Washington: “Never play tricks with me! I’ve discerned your motive!”

China doesn’t want to play silly games with the US, because it will definitely have adverse effects on the whole world. In the statement, China offers the best solution to the issue – cooperation. China appeals to the US to respect the agreement which was reached by both sides. Only by cooperation can both sides reap mutual benefits.

Join the June 19 London vigil demanding freedom for Julian Assange! – By Robert Stevens ( WSWS )

Image result for julian assange

“I don’t think Assange will be forgiven by our rulers because he educated the world”

By Robert Stevens
30 May 2018

Emmy Butlin is part of a group that has maintained a solidarity vigil in defence of Julian Assange for six years outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The WikiLeaks editor was forced to take asylum there in June 2012. On June 19, the Julian Assange Defence Committee is holding a vigil to mark the sixth anniversary of the date Assange entered the building.

The World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party is backing the vigil and working to secure maximum attendance. Emmy spoke to WSWS reporter Robert Stevens about the work of the group and the Julian Assange case.

Robert Stevens: Can you tell us about your group and its work?

Emmy Butlin

Emmy Butlin: I want to emphasise that we are not affiliated with any political organisation. Some of us have had experience with activism before. We have not worked in human rights work, we are not lawyers, we are not involved with Amnesty. We are ordinary people.

We have become experts in this case over a very long time and we want to assist in any way we can. The lady who owns the website we have is based in Wales. She’s done work with Chelsea Manning’s family and put together a family fund to assist relations of Chelsea who travel to the US.

Another is Ciaron O’Reilly. He did a 25-day non-stop vigil at the Embassy from March 28 to highlight Assange’s case and urge people to be vigilant because we expected the worse.

When the communications were cut off from Assange [by the Ecuadorian government], we tried to support Ciaron, going to accompany him two hours at a time.

We have a Twitter page, and Facebook account. Julian Assange needs defending to be able to continue his work. We support the work of WikiLeaks.

We focus specifically to the circumstances of his detainment, and his confinement in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the role of the police and the surveillance. Then there is the mindlessness of the persecution of this man over a long period of time and the corruption of the legal process.

RS: Can you tell us about your background?

EB: I was born in Greece in 1970, in the middle of the seven-year junta, which was a police state. Greece had had a lot of political instability in the century, full of war and political repression.

The geopolitical game that was played in Greece led to the most horrendous civil war, after the end of World War Two. My own family suffered from the division and the conflict in the civil war.

In 1967, the colonels overthrew the legally elected government. As I was growing up democracy was taking its first steps and I was fully aware that it was a painful and slow process. My parents during the dictatorship found themselves in trouble with the police because they were active in the early sixties in Munich in Germany as students. They were active in the peace movement there, and they knew that the local Greek consulate was collecting information on them.

They returned to Greece in 1966. Soon after that the dictatorship took place, and very quickly they found themselves being taken in for questioning. My father was imprisoned for two weeks, in the same place people were being tortured. For the entire seven years they had to undergo surveillance, and this affected their life profoundly. They became founding members of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party (PASOK).

I became politically aware of what was going on there and took part in demonstrations, marches, etc. People became political in this period. After the return to democracy, there was jubilation, and people felt they could demand openly and without repercussion social demands for equality within the law, between men and women. They could demand workers’ rights, so you had the trade unions organising marches. There were debates and intellectual discussion. There was the role of the US taking over from Britain. You had the role of the CIA in the invasion of Cyprus. I left Greece in 1990 to come over here to study at university and I got married.

In April of 2010, WikiLeaks released the “Collateral Murder” video, and this affected me profoundly as both myself and my family were against the Iraq war. I was really shaken because the invasion of Iraq was a horrible event. When Julian Assange was arrested in December 2010, I knew it was wrong. At the same time, in November 2010, they did the Afghan war logs and in December 2010 they started publications of the diplomatic cables. I was waiting for the Greek stuff to come out.

I was following what was going on with Assange’s case in Sweden, and the open warfare against him with politicians and dignitaries in the media. Then there was the case of Chelsea Manning, at the time Bradley Manning. I could not be left untouched by the stories of these two people.

It was not until he entered the embassy in 2012 that I felt I needed to do something and began participating in the solidarity vigil.

RS: What did you think about what the British judicial system did to Assange in trampling on his democratic rights?

EB: When they started the extradition process, I realised that this was a very unfair system. I investigated the European Arrest Warrant [EAW] system and it was the British government that had pushed this forward, because of terrorist attacks in 2007. But this system was abused. It was not used to extradite terrorists.

The question came up, why are we witnessing this? Is there not another way of questioning Julian Assange? Are there other ways of accommodating the process that started in Sweden? Then I started to investigate in more detail, the “sexual misconduct,” or “assault.” And it’s not easy to do this, as you can imagine. Accusations of sexual misconduct have a stigma.

I found that the whole process had been politicised. Britain was not interested in furthering this case. The Swedish prosecutor responsible for the case, Marianne Nye, was sitting on her hands. Julian Assange was never charged.

After a while, the European Parliament did a review of the EAW out of which the UK Parliament passed an amendment that said no person should be extradited on an EAW unless charges have been laid down. So, I thought that’s it. They will now be forced to go down the route of Mutual Legal Assistance with Assange. But no, this didn’t happen. The amendment was not retroactive. Julian Assange did not benefit from the law, but everyone else after him did.

A couple of years later, the Supreme Court decided on another case, and they looked at the decision that the judges applied in the Assange case and they threw it out. But there was no appeal allowed for Assange. Every time there was a development you thought would move things forward, no one is interested.

Finally, when the UN in 2016, after looking at the case for 18 months, deemed Assange was arbitrarily detained, we thought this would be the catalyst. But no. The Conservative government said that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention were lay people and didn’t know what they were talking about.

Whatever happens to Julian Assange, his work is lasting, and it has changed the world. Whereas these ideas have always been around about accountability and knowledge, through the technology available with the Internet, he has catapulted this idea to a level never seen before. It’s extremely inspiring and he’s not alone.

I don’t think Assange will be forgiven by our rulers because he educated the world. Original documents which he published can be used in court, they can be used as sources for writing books, for telling the story as it is.

So, among the many functions that WikiLeaks plays, it’s a contemporary historian.

RS: What support have you had for Julian Assange outside the Embassy?

EB: Overwhelmingly positive. Most people know about the case and they want to know the latest. I’m surprised at how wise people are to immediately grasp what’s going on. They have seen it happen again and again where dissent to the status quo, especially in international affairs, provokes a backlash that can be devastating for people.

Politicians think people are fools, but I don’t think so. Even if you are not entirely educated in international affairs, you grasp that there is an injustice going on. “Of course, he is in there because the US want him.” All these years I’ve heard this again and again.

Public opinion can be manipulated, but only up to an extent. There is a dichotomy between the politicians and what people think. Look at Brexit. That’s an alert for the establishment that people feel very differently. Whoever is part of the establishment is out of touch.

Again and again, I come across British people who say about Julian Assange, “Enough is enough. Let this man go.” A lot of the people who we come into contact regularly are drivers, because Harrods is next to the Embassy. There are a lot of wealthy individuals who shop there and their drivers will park in the local area. The drivers are international, from a lot of Middle Eastern countries. They are behind Julian Assange absolutely. It’s the same with continental Europeans. They recognise the importance of free speech and democratic rights.

I spent some time talking to a German lady outside the Embassy about the case. Before she left, she pulled her jumper up on her arm and she showed me that she had, from her elbow to her hand, a WikiLeaks hourglass logo as a tattoo. So, I thought I was informing her, but she had the WikiLeaks tattoo on her arm. That’s how important it was to her. Particularly young people are inspired by WikiLeaks, inspired by [Edward] Snowden.

We have marched in London on the Pride event for Chelsea Manning and there was so much support for her. We’ve only recently being doing some marches for Julian, as we thought this is a crisis. We went on the May Day march on May 1. Some of us joined that and the TUC May 12 anti-austerity march with our Assange banner.

I knew nothing about Ecuador, but have learnt a lot more since learning about the Assange case. Because of their experience of dictatorship, they have strengthened the laws and constitution for the protection of people who are persecuted politically.

For a long period, they have been supportive and tried to unlock the situation and get him to Ecuador safely.

Then a year ago there was a change of government in Ecuador. Mr. [President Lenin] Moreno is from the same party as Mr. [former president Rafael] Correa and he said initially that he would support Julian Assange. But we saw that he didn’t have the same commitment. His government is seeking a rapprochement with the United States and is going to renew military cooperation. I know from my own country, Greece, what that means. When you align yourself militarily with a powerful country, you sign up for a lot more.

We are very concerned, particularly now that Assange’s communications have been cut off. We do not hear his voice.

Julian Assange has been in there for coming up to six years and it’s inhumane and is taking its toll. You have horrifying reports from doctors on him. This must be sorted. He can’t die in there.

The UN is the final arbitrator in international conflict. The UN Group on Arbitrary Detention look at the facts. It’s an adversarial process. The UK put forward its case and Julian Assange’s lawyers put forward their case. And the UN group gave their expert opinion that ruled in his favour. They said very simply: free him and compensate him. Under international law its rulings are binding.

The UK and Sweden in rejecting the ruling are degrading the institution that all countries turn to for arbitration and resolution of conflict.

You don’t have to be an expert on human rights. Over the last six years, Julian Assange has had no sunlight. No access to health care, no outside exercise. He has medical care where it can be accommodated within the embassy. But has no possibility of having an MRI scan, for example. He has a heart condition and needs root canal treatment. The doctors also said that because of the level of surveillance that he was experiencing, he was unable to openly speak with his doctors about his medical problems. Intrusive surveillance, 24/7, over a period of six years, with every conversation he has recorded, isn’t that intolerable? Isn’t that what nightmares are made of? It’s an abomination.

Then you see the response of the politicians to him. Recently in Westminster, Conservatives minister Alan Duncan referred to Assange as a “miserable little worm.” What sort of statement is that from a minister of government? It’s not just arrogance against Julian Assange. It is arrogance against the people.

I find again and again that people’s stance on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, it’s like the bar against how you judge who they are. Everyone has the right to health care. People in prison have access to it and we recognise their right to sunshine, physical exercise and fresh air. When we find that prisons are failing, often heads will roll. Here you have a situation where none of this matters if your name is Julian Assange.

Now it’s Julian Assange, tomorrow it’s someone else and then someone else and someone else.

RS: The Australian government has refused to defend Assange, including the previous Gillard Labour government, and here Labour and the unions have done nothing to defend him. Can you speak about that?

EB: I think he is being ostracised by them because it’s convenient to do so. He exhibits tremendous courage in the simple determination to publish material, but it’s telling how little courage those you mention have. It’s very disappointing and I don’t really have an answer. I think in part it’s because they feel threatened. A few years ago, when Jeremy Corbyn was bidding for the Labour leadership, it was a bit like Assange. There was a torrent of attacks in the media. WikiLeaks at the time made a call for any leaks on this, calling for “Labour leaks,” and in response there was complete silence, even from Corbyn’s own supporters.

I also think their response has to do with foreign policy and issues of war. WikiLeaks leads to a strengthening of anti-war sentiment. And this is an area that cuts across political parties. They act in the same way, whether it is Australia or the UK. What is the big difference between the foreign policy of the Labour Party and the Conservative Party traditionally? So perhaps when someone is a strong advocate for peace and against military interventions, and let’s call it the old-fashioned word, “imperialism,” then perhaps that’s why national institutions are buying into the attacks on Assange.

What is the objective here? What is the next step? Detention in a UK maximum security establishment? How can this be justified on a flimsy arrest warrant, over bail conditions, over an extradition case that has been abandoned and has cost the taxpayer millions.

It’s important we act. People should come down to the embassy to participate in solidarity events. Journalists should research and report what is going on.

WikiLeaks recently published a video showing a car with individuals who were surveying the embassy way into the night. Who are these people? They were there around the clock, with a 24-hour presence for three weeks in April.

Up to October 2015, there were overt police with a 24/7 presence. You could see them at specific locations. After that the Metropolitan Police said they were increasing the covert operation, which was always taking place anyway. I have written to the London Assembly about it. It’s the elected body that controls mayoral spending and of course Sadiq Khan is responsible for the police spend in London. I have asked the assembly to confirm or deny, but they couldn’t because the police said they don’t comment on operational matters.

WikiLeaks invited people to try to figure out what one of the people was reading in the car. Out of that it came out that there were instructions on a piece of paper and the name “Op Kudo”—Operation Kudo. One of the people who investigated this on the WikiLeaks Twitter thread confirmed that is the name of the operation to snatch Assange. It must have been going on for years and must have a budget.

Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist with La Repubblica and she has been trying through Freedom of Information requests to get documents pertaining to the case from Sweden. She also has documents from the UK, but they were redacted. She took the government to court last year and she unearthed that, back in August, the UK Crown Prosecution Service deleted a large number of emails pertaining to the case while it was still active.

RS: We recently held a series of meetings in Australia and the UK to demand Assange’s freedom and young people were very responsive. How important do you think international campaigns and protests are?

EB: I think it’s a wonderful thing. First, it’s inspiring for others and activists around the world, and that is what we need to hear, the public’s voice. That is where the wisdom lies. This is exactly my experience speaking to people on the streets of London. People recognise the role that WikiLeaks has played. They know the way Assange is being treated is because of the work he has done. It is humbling to say, but some people congratulate us for being there. Some people clap. We express their own feelings.

But what is missing, this is what your organisation can provide—the linking up with others. This is how we can change the world. Individual contributions are great, but we change society as a group, acting together. We need a Julian Assange Defence Committee of the world, if you like, that will bring people together—workers, students, housewives.

RS: We have initiated an international coalition to fight Internet censorship of socialist, anti-war, left-wing and progressive websites, organizations and activists. And we have insisted that any serious campaign cannot be carried out while Julian Assange is silenced and is incarcerated. Our campaign demands the freedom of Julian Assange and is organising internationally to achieve that goal.

EB: I think that’s wonderful. It is spot on. That is excellent work.

Emmys group operates the vigil outside the Ecuadorean Embassy on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 3-5 p.m. People can sign up to the mailing list of the Julian Assange Defence Committee: Grassroots solidarity for the WikiLeaks editor at www.WiseUpAction.info.

‘Terrible massacre’: Israel kills 52, injures 2,410 Gaza protesters as US embassy opens in Jerusalem – By RT

‘Terrible massacre’: Israel kills 52, injures 2,410 Gaza protesters as US embassy opens in Jerusalem
Fifty-two Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli fire during demonstrations on the day of the US embassy’s inauguration in Jerusalem, the Palestinian health ministry said Monday.

More than 2,400 protesters have been injured in Gaza on what has been the most violent day of the six week long Great March of Return. Those wounded on Monday include 203 children and 78 women, according to the ministry. 

The Palestinian government denounced Monday’s violence as a “terrible massacre” perpetrated “by the forces of the Israeli occupation”, and called for an immediate international intervention to prevent further deaths. A day of national mourning has been declared by the government in Ramallah, to be held Tuesday.

Around 35,000 protesters gathered at the border fence and thousands more within half a mile of the vicinity, according to Israeli Defence Forces. 

Clashes have also reportedly broken out between protesters and the Israeli Defense Forces in Bethlehem. 

The first of Monday’s deaths was 21-year-old Anas Hamdan Qudeih, killed east of Khan Yunis, a spokesperson for the ministry said. A 29-year-old man, Mosaab Yousef Ibrahim Abu Laila, was later killed east of Jabalya. Some of the dead have yet to be identified. Six children under the age of 18, including one girl, are among the fatalities.

Amnesty International has called the Israeli violence in Gaza “an abhorrent violation of international law & human rights.” 

Around half of all injuries were caused by live bullets while hundreds more were targeted with teargas, according to the ministry. The Palestinian Health Ministry claims that Israeli forces are directly targeting emergency services and journalists and are calling on citizens to urgently donate blood to help save the lives of those wounded.

Six journalists have reportedly been injured while covering Monday’s demonstrations, according to the Journalist Support Committee.

Meanwhile, the IDF said Israeli Air Force planes targeted Hamas posts near Jabalya after its soldiers came under fire in the area.

The latest deaths bring the number killed since the Great March of Return protests began six weeks ago to 97.

Dr. Mkhaimer Abuseda, professor of political sciences at Alazhar University in Gaza, told RT that the relocation of the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem is “a very sad day for the Palestinians, reminding them of their first Nakba some 70 years ago.”

“It seems to me that the Palestinians have decided that the US is no longer an honest broker in the MidEast peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said, adding that it will likely lead to further Palestinian rage and resistance.

Scuffles have reportedly broken out outside the new US embassy in Jerusalem as the inauguration ceremony took place inside.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has condemned Monday’s violence, claiming the US, as well as Israel, is responsible for the “massacre” because of their “unjust decision” to move the embassy.

Tuesday marks the commemoration of Nakba Day, a term which Palestinians use to describe their forced mass exodus from their homes during the establishment of the State of Israel. It is celebrated among Israelis as Independence Day. Thousands of people have gathered near the border to take part in Monday’s protests.

Huge demonstrations are expected to mark the May 15 event, which brings to a close the six-week Great March of Returndemonstrations.

The IDF dropped leaflets warning people in Gaza to stay away from the security fence ahead of Monday’s protests. Demonstrators in North Gaza brought down an IDF drone that was allegedly dropping fire bombs on tents, according to the Great Return March movement.

READ MORE: Israel fires tear gas, drops leaflets warning Palestinians to stay away from border

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