Monday 17th of May 2021

a soi-disant global defender of journalistic freedom...

boris
The UK Government’s new “action plan” to protect journalists will do little to burnish the credentials of a would-be champion of media freedom that continues to imprison the world’s most famous dissident journalist.

Continuing to promote itself as the soi-disant global defender of journalistic freedom, the UK Government has just grandly unveiled a National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists to protect newsmen and women from harassment and threats. UK journalists have apparently “suffered abuse and attacks while going about their work,” and the government is selflessly riding to their rescue. The plan involves “new training for police officers as well as aspiring and existing journalists, and commitments from social media platforms and prosecution services to take tough action against abusers.”


Facebook and Twitter, we are told, are on board, promising “to respond promptly to complaints of threats to journalists’ safety.” The government makes no mention of the threat Facebook and Twitter pose to journalism. During the past few years, Twitter and Facebook have been closing down, or threatening toclose down, the accounts of journalists, and with cheerful abandon. Moreover, during the 2020 US presidential election, the two social media giants interfered with the work of journalists by preventing the sharing of New York Post’sunflattering articles about Hunter Biden, son of then-candidate Joe Biden. Twitter went further and locked the newspaper’s account for the two critical weeks before the election.

Prime Minister (and former journalist) Boris Johnson issued a statement nobly declaring: "Freedom of speech and a free press are at the very core of our democracy, and journalists must be able to go about their work without being threatened. The cowardly attacks and abuse directed at reporters for simply doing their job cannot continue. This action plan is just the start of our work to protect those keeping the public informed, and defend those holding the government to account."

For all the self-congratulatory verbiage emanating from the government, it’s hard to discern very much in this plan other than a promise to collect data about the supposed ongoing harassment of journalists.

Among the journalists the government of Boris Johnson will not be rushing to collect data about is of course Julian Assange. Assange has been languishing for nearly two years in HMP Belmarsh, a maximum-security prison dubbed Britain’s Guantanamo Bay. Its detainees include serial killers, child rapists and child killers, the 2013 murderers of a British Army soldier in Woolwich, the Manchester Arena bomber and the Londonnail bomber

Julian Assange has been convicted of nothing other than the minor, procedural crime of skipping bail. Assange did not of course skip bail. In November 2010, Swedish prosecutors obtained a European Arrest Warrant, demanding that Assange be detained in the UK so that he could be questioned in relation to the sexual offense allegations made by two women with whom he had had brief sexual relations and who wanted him to be tested for HIV. Assange had to be questioned in person, and only in Sweden.

Assange fought the extradition request, suspecting that it was a ruse to get him to Sweden, from where he would be swiftly extradited to the United States, which, in all likelihood had prepared a secret indictment against him. The British courts consistently ruled against Assange and in favor of the Swedish extradition request. On June 15, 2012, following the British Supreme Court’s dismissal of his challenge to the Swedish extradition request, Assange walked into the Ecuadorian embassy in London and asked for political asylum. 

We learned subsequently from e-mail exchanges between the Swedish prosecutors and the UK Crown Prosecution Service, whose head at the time was current Labor Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, the British were encouraging the Swedes to refuse to come to London to interview Assange. 

Though Sweden announced in May 2017 that it was discontinuing the investigation of Assange, the British authorities insisted that Assange would still face arrest the moment he stepped out of the embassy on the charge of…bail skipping.

On April 11, 2019, the government of Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status, and invited the British authorities to enter the embassy and seize him. Assange was rushed before a judge and immediately sentenced to prison for 50 weeks. Within minutes of his arrest, the United States confirmed what Assange had said all along. It announced that it would seek his extradition on the basis of a secret indictment that had been prepared a year earlier. The charge was that Assange had conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack into a secure computer system. A month later, the United States announced 17 additional charges against Assange under its Espionage Act.

Within a month, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed the extradition warrant that would allow the extradition of Assange to the United States. Javid did this even though the 2004 extradition treaty between the US and the UK explicitly states that “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.” Assange’s “offense” –publication of government documents detailing war crimes and official abuses of power– is about as “political” as any offense can get. 

In early January 2021, Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied the US extradition request for Assange on the grounds that the inhuman conditions in a US Supermax prison could drive Assange to suicide. Then, with extraordinary inconsistency, she ordered Assange to remain in Belmarsh, the UK’s Supermax, while the US appealed her decision–a legal process that could last for years. 

Yet even as Assange was languishing in prison, amidst a global pandemic and among some of the worst criminals in the land, the UK Government was launching a campaign to promote itself as the global champion of journalistic freedom and the scourge of unenlightened regimes resisting transparency.

In July 2019, one month after the Home Secretary had signed off on the US’s extradition request, the UK Government co-hosted, with Canada, a Global Conference on Media Freedom, “part of an international campaign to shine a global spotlight on media freedom and increase the cost to those that are attempting to restrict it.” In the spirit of shining a “spotlight on media freedom,” the UK Foreign Office refused to permit RT and Sputnik to attend the conference. “We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation,” the Foreign Office explained

Without a trace of irony, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt declared to the conference attendees: “We are on the side of those who seek to report the truth and bring the facts to light. We stand against those who suppress or censor or exact revenge.” 

Scarcely a day goes by without the UK Government’s sounding off on the persecution of journalists somewhere–other than in the UK of course. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has weighed in on the persecution of journalists in Belarus. He was disturbed by, yes, the denial of accreditation. “The Belarusian authorities,” he tweeted out in August 2020, “are continuing to target @BBCNews, local and international media by cancelling their accreditation to report in Belarus.” The UK championed the cause of Svetlana Prokopyeva, who was convicted on charges of “justifying terrorism,” even though she was not sent to prison. During the recent protests over the trial and imprisonment of Alexey Navalny, Raab sternly warned Russia not to target journalists.

The UK Government’s self-congratulatory commitment to media freedom notwithstanding, its own record is rather unimpressive. Journalist advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders publishes an annual survey of the state of journalistic freedom in the world. According to the most recent World Press Freedom Index, the UK has slipped to number 35 in the world. Among the issues Reporters Without Borders raised were the continued imprisonment of Assange, as well as the criminal probe of the July 2019 publication of embarrassing diplomatic cables. The documents, like those of WikiLeaks, were clearly genuine since their appearance in print led to the swift resignation of the UK ambassador to Washington. 

The government’s ‘action plan’ is not only self-serving, but also disingenuous. Why do journalists get special protections denied to others? Anyone in the public eye–politicians, lawyers, judges, athletes, actors, TV celebrities–is likely to experience abuse, personal insults and threats. This rush to single out journalists for special protection smacks of governmental unctuousness, a heavy-handed attempt to flatter journalists by suggesting that they are doing something frightfully dangerous, something likely to provoke powerful interests. Very few journalists do any such thing. Indeed, that the government is so eager to tout the virtues of journalists would surely indicate that it has little to fear from them. The kind of journalist who does indeed take risks, who does dedicate his life to bringing transparency to government–a Julian Assange, in other words–is not the sort of journalist the UK Government will do anything to protect. On the contrary, it will aid and abet in his persecution.

 

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/517747-britain-protect-journalists-julian-assange/

the first lithium war...


The overthrow of Evo Morales and the first lithium war


by Thierry Meyssan


The world was used to oil wars since the end of the 19th century. Now the wars over lithium, a mineral that is essential for mobile phones, but above all for electric cars, are beginning. Foreign Office documents obtained by a British historian and journalist show that the UK engineered the overthrow of Bolivian president Evo Morales to steal the country’s lithium reserves.


Remember the overthrow of Bolivian President Evo Morales in late 2019. At the time, the mainstream press claimed that he had turned his country into a dictatorship and had just been ousted by his people. The Organisation of American States (OAS) issued a report certifying that the elections had been rigged and that democracy was being restored.


However, President Morales, who feared he would end up like Chilean President Salvador Allende and had fled to Mexico, denounced a coup d’état organised to seize the country’s lithium reserves. But he failed to identify the principals and was met with nothing but sarcasm in the West. Only we revealed that the operation had been carried out by a community of Croatian Ustasha Catholics, present in the country in Santa Cruz since the end of the Second World War; a NATO stay-behind network [1].


A year later, President Morales’ party won new elections by a large majority [2]. There was no challenge and he was able to return triumphantly to his country [3]. His so-called dictatorship had never existed, while that of Jeanine Áñez had just been overthrown at the ballot box.


Historian Mark Curtis and journalist Matt Kennard had access to declassified Foreign Office documents which they studied. They published their findings on the Declassified UK website, based in South Africa since its military censorship in the UK [4].


Throughout his work, Mark Curtis has shown that UK policy was hardly changed by decolonisation. We have cited his work in dozens of articles on Voltaire Network.


It appears that the overthrow of President Morales was a commission from the Foreign Office and elements of the CIA that eluded the Trump administration. Its aim was to steal the country’s lithium, which the UK covets in the context of the energy transition.


The Obama administration had already attempted a coup d’état in 2009, which was repressed by President Morales and led to the expulsion of several US diplomats and officials. In contrast, the Trump administration apparently gave the neoconservatives a free hand in Latin America, but systematically prevented them from carrying out their plans.


Lithium is a component of batteries. It is found mainly in the brines of high-altitude salt deserts in the mountains of Chile, Argentina and especially Bolivia ("the lithium triangle"), and even in Tibet, the "salars". But also in solid form in certain minerals extracted from mines, particularly in Australia. It is essential for the transition from petrol cars to electric vehicles. It has therefore become a more important issue than oil in the context of the Paris Agreements supposed to combat global warming.


In February 2019, President Evo Morales gave permission to a Chinese company, TBEA Group, to exploit his country’s main lithium reserves. The UK therefore devised a plan to steal it.


Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian, became president of Bolivia in 2006. He represented the producers of coca; a local plant essential to life at high altitude, but also a powerful drug banned worldwide by the US virtue leagues. His election and governance marked the return of the Indians to power who had been excluded since Spanish colonisation.


- As early as 2017-18, the UK sent experts to Bolivia’s national company, Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB), to assess the conditions for Bolivian lithium mining.

- In 2019-20, London funded a study to "optimise the exploration and production of Bolivian lithium using British technology".

- In April 2019, the UK Embassy in Buenos Aires organised a seminar with representatives from Argentina, Chile and Bolivia mining companies and governments, to present the benefits of using the London Metal Exchange. The Morales administration was represented by one of its ministers.

- Immediately after the coup, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) was found to be financing the British projects.

- The Foreign Office had commissioned - long before the coup - an Oxford company, Satellite Applications Catapult, to map lithium reserves. It was not paid by the IADB until after the overthrow of President Morales.

- A few months later, the UK embassy in La Paz organised a seminar for 300 stakeholders with the help of Watchman UK. This company specialises in how to involve people in projects that violate their interests, in order to prevent them from revolting.


Before and after the coup, the British embassy in Bolivia neglected the capital La Paz and focused on the Santa Cruz region, where the Ustasha Croats had legally taken power. There, it multiplied cultural and commercial events.


To neutralise the Bolivian banks, the British embassy in La Paz organised a seminar on computer security eight months before the coup. The diplomats introduced DarkTrace (a company set up by the British internal security services), explaining that only banks that used DarkTrace for their security would be able to work with the City.


According to Mark Curtis and Matthew Kennard, the US did not participate in the plot as such, but officials left the CIA to prepare it. DarkTrace, for example, recruited Marcus Fowler, a CIA cyber operations specialist, and especially Alan Wade, the agency’s former head of intelligence. Most of the operation’s personnel were British, including the heads of Watchman UK, Christopher Goodwin-Hudson (a former career military officer, then director of security at Goldman-Sachs) and Gabriel Carter (a member of the very private Special Forces Club in Knightsbridge who had distinguished himself in Afghanistan).


The historian and the journalist also state that the British embassy provided the Organisation of American States with the data it used to ’prove’ that the election had been rigged; a report that was later refuted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) [5] before being refuted by the Bolivians themselves during the following elections.


The current situation proves Mark Curtis’s work as a historian right. For example, in the three years since the coup in Bolivia (2019), we have shown London’s role in the Yemen war (2020) [6] and the Nagorno-Karabakh war (2020) [7].


The UK conducts short wars and covert operations, if possible without the media picking up on its actions. It controls the perception of its presence through a multitude of news agencies and media outlets that it secretly subsidises. It creates unmanageable living conditions for those on whom it imposes them. It uses them to exploit the country to its advantage. Moreover, it can keep this situation going for as long as possible in the certainty that its victims will still appeal to it, it only being capable of calming the conflict it has created itself.


Thierry Meyssan

Translation

Roger Lagassé

 

Read more:

https://www.voltairenet.org/article212423.html

 

 

Read from top.

 

FREE ASSANGE NOW !!!!!

unconfirmed news...

A Twitter account purporting to belong to Ecuador’s newly promoted foreign minister has falsely reported Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s death, acknowledging the news is “unconfirmed.” It’s not clear who’s behind the report.

A recently created Twitter account supposedly belonging to Ecuadorian FM Manuel Mejía Dalmau posted an “URGENT” message on Wednesday declaring “diplomatic sources in London” had reported “the news of the death of Julian Assange,” the Wikileaks founder’s partner Stella Moris revealed on Wednesday, posting a screenshot of the tweet that noted the report was “unconfirmed.”

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/518400-assange-death-reported-fake-ecuador/

 

Read from top.

 

julian

 


papal support for julian...

Pope Francis has conveyed a personal message to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains incarcerated in a British maximum security prison battling possible extradition to the US, the publisher’s partner has said.

The “kind, personal message” from the head of the Catholic Church was delivered to Assange’s cell by a prison priest, Stella Moris told her Twitter followers on Sunday. Moris did not disclose the content of the missive, but expressed gratitude to Catholics and other Christians campaigning for Assange’s freedom.

After a hard night, Julian woke up this morning to a kind, personal message from Pope Francis @pontifex delivered to his cell door by the prison priest. Our family wishes to express our gratitude to the many Catholics and other Christians campaigning for his freedom. #Assangepic.twitter.com/QwHDDvxVqH

— Stella Moris #DropTheCharges (@StellaMoris1) March 28, 2021

 

Assange remains in British custody at the HMS Belmarsh prison as he continues his battle against a US request to extradite him on espionage charges related to his activities with WikiLeaks. The website’s founder is seen by many as a prisoner of conscience, punished with the help of the British justice system for exposing the dirty secrets of Washington and its allies.

It’s not unusual for Pope Francis to send his personal reassurances to inmates, including those whose freedom was taken from them for apparent political reasons. In 2019 he sent a letter to former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was at the time serving a lengthy prison term on corruption charges.

Lula’s convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court earlier this month. Soon after, the now-free politician thanked the pontiff for writing to him during his incarceration and inviting to the Vatican after he was out of jail.

Quero agradecer ao Papa Francisco (@Pontifex_pt) que quando eu estava preso fez questão de me enviar uma carta. E por me receber no Vaticano assim que deixei a prisão para uma conversa sobre o combate à fome e à desigualdade.

— Lula (@LulaOficial) March 10, 2021

 

In January, Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied a US request to extradite Assange based on concerns over his mental health, saying he would face oppressive conditions in the US prison system and that he could end up committing suicide.

The Joe Biden administration signaled its intention to continue to push for extradition in February and has submitted its “grounds for appeal” in the case.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/519529-pope-assange-personal-message/

 

See also: 

a traditionally pious catholic with bombs...

 

god bless yankeedom...

 

our father, which art in heaven...

 

free assange, president biden...

 

julian

 

Read from top.

The end of speech...

 

By Damian Wilson

 

The UK is turning its broadcast regulator into the Hatefinder General, with a new law compelling social media companies to enforce an authoritarian crackdown on our behaviour that’s ‘unprecedented in any democracy’. 

As the British nanny state widens its scope with the government’s new Online Safety Bill it is a sign that the German concept of wehrhafte Demokratie – or militant democracy – has arrived on our shores, dictating that some of our rights are sacrificed in the interests of order.

 

Once enshrined in law, the bill will ensure that true, online freedom of speech will follow the dial-up modem and those once omnipotent AOL subscription CDs into the dustbin of internet history. According to the authors of ‘You’re on Mute”, a briefing document from the Free Speech Union (FSU), the government’s plans “will restrict online free speech to a degree almost unprecedented in any democracy”. 

 

But I have to admit, I’m a bit sceptical how this brand new plan is going to work. So far, it seems that Ofcom, the broadcaster regulator, will be asked to draw up a code of practice setting out the rules which social media companies will be legally obliged to follow. Ofcom will then enforce the rules with fines of up to £18 million or 10% of turnover levied on those who break them. 

And what are the rules? Well, taking the guide to what constitutes hate speech as a starting point, it means not saying anything that might spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance on the grounds of disability, ethnicity, social origin, sex, gender, gender reassignment, nationality, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, colour, genetic features, language, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth or age. Phew! 

Under the new bill, however, alongside the no-go areas, it will also become an offence to deliberately create and disseminate “false and/or manipulated information that is intended to deceive and mislead audiences, either for the purposes of causing harm, or for political, personal or financial gain”. 

As well, the yet-to-be-revealed code will also insist that “legal but harmful” activity be blocked. How “harmful” that might be is to be judged upon the psychological impact it might cause. So be careful of those clown pics you’re posting on Facebook. 

If someone told me these were the rules governing access to the internet in China, I would not bat an eyelid, so authoritarian and freedom-smothering they are even at first glance. But look at them a little closer and, well, they’re even scarier.

Ofcom’s list of hate speech minefields now includes one of the gender gestapo’s favourite areas of victimhood – gender reassignment, apparently putting a cordon around it so it may no longer be debated – and also “political, personal or financial gain”. 

So how is this ever going to work in the realm of political campaigns, where the whole point is to offer flip-side views diametrically opposed to each other? As the authors of the FSU briefing point out: “No UK Government or Opposition should support proposals which give internet censors, whether this be a state regulator or ‘fact-checkers’ employed by social media companies, the power to censor the sometimes-offensive free speech which is part of any democracy. Political parties should also note that this will inevitably result in the censorship of their own activists.” 

While Ofcom will act as Hatefinder General in policing its code of practice, the government is looking to tech giants like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to rise to the challenge and monitor their users for breaches of the new rules.  

You may have noticed that these are the very same companies the UK continually fines and rails against over non-payment of taxes. Now they’re being asked to step up to a massive new role overseeing the way British people treat each other. Who dreamt up this model and thought it was a good idea?

Digging further, what exactly counts as disinformation or even misinformation under the new codes, which seem specifically drawn up with Covid-19 in mind and the various controversies of its origins, vaccine efficacy and countless hoaxes? 

The internet is full of lies, we all know that. Not all are deliberate, but you could be caught out under the code’s definition of misinformation – “inadvertently spreading false information” – by sharing something that is not factually correct. 

That this is something the government feels it needs to legislate is extraordinary. The whole thing should have been binned once Theresa May – who introduced the idea – was waved out the door of Downing Street. 

Because what we need to help us navigate to the truth online is not less but more information. It’s the easy access to a diversity of views from one end of the scale to the other that is the whole point of the internet. It is not a problem that needs solving. Otherwise, we are stuck with a sanitised, government-approved version of truth that has ticked all the boxes and is now considered safe for human consumption even while some of what we are being asked to swallow is just too much.

And why are we asking tech companies to monitor this? It’s mad. The FSU has thrown up an interesting insight it gleaned from the White Paper on the proposed bill as the government extolled the virtues of YouTube’s censorship rules. 

In its efforts to counter disinformation during the coronavirus pandemic, YouTube decided that any posts on its platform that offered a view that flew in the face of the opinions of the World Health Organisation would be taken offline in a bid to counter disinformation, including junk cures. 

That made the worldview of the WHO the only version of the truth. And that is doubly weird because, in its efforts to suck up to China, the organisation now officially recognises traditional Chinese herbal medicine – known everywhere else as quack cures – alongside evidence-based medicine. 

So we have the situation where YouTube is cracking down on junk cures expounded by users, while simultaneously promoting them through slavish adherence to the policy directives of the WHO. And now we want YouTube to take responsibility for the safety of their users across Britain? I’m not so sure this state-sponsored, tech giant-monitored censorship is such a good idea. 

It allows those with no moral authority to trample over our freedoms while attempting to convince us it is for the greater good, while at the same time it patronises us, wraps debate up in a cosy blanket and whispers ‘night-night’ and rocks us to sleep protected from a world where, god forbid, we might be asked to think for ourselves.

There’s rubbish on the internet? So what? Let’s talk about it.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/522638-britain-censorship-tech-giants/

 

Read from top

 

FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!