We are at a crossroads. Our economies were broken in 2008 by a reckless banking elite, who have never been brought to account. Our neoliberal governments capitalised on the economic crash to force through the standard model of what Naomi Klein labels ‘disaster capitalism’, forcing through (with the right wing media’s help) economic and social changes which would have made Thatcher or Reagan blanche. We have a situation where the poor are being made to pay the price for the abuses of the rich, who are being allowed to pay themselves outrageous bonuses with our tax money. The Occupy movement is taking a stand against this calamity, and are under regular attack by the police in whichever Western country demonstrations begin. Everyone needs to watch this video and to learn how vital it is that we hold our leaders to account. ‘Yes we can’ said Barack Obama that very year – now beholden to the very interests he said he would hold to account (and then didn’t), the US President, British PM and others need to be shown how true that tagline is (and has to be).
Oops I swore. Boris wouldn’t like that:
Action will be taken so that police can arrest members of the public for swearing at them, Boris Johnson has promised.
The London mayor attacked police guidance advising officers not to try to arrest those who verbally attacked them on the basis that police should have thicker skins.
“I reckon we need to get back to where we were before some judge given law of 1988 and be clear that if people swear at the police, they must understand they will be arrested,” Mr Johnson said.
“If people feel that there are no comebacks and no boundaries for the small stuff, I’m afraid they will go on to commit more crimes.”
What a complete load of shit. He and the police can…FUCK OFF. Such poor, timid things. There are so many things wrong with London, and all this Tory moron can do is collude with the new Commissioner Hogan-Howe to protect his own interests. It’s pathetic; it’s even more pathetic though that he’s likely to be returned to office next year.
What bullshit to say that more serious crimes are perpetrated by people who swear at the police. What about reforming the fucking police, Boris?! You know, the organisation which in the last month decided it could attack the freedom of the press itself? And people wonder why I resent Tories…
Absolutely priceless. This had me laughing at work (which is a difficult thing to do)!
I couldn’t agree with Hugh Grant more. I think it’s remarkable that he’s playing an even better PM in real life than he did in ‘Love Actually’. How is that possible?
For the record, the story that he broke for the New Statesman is here. Andy Coulson has now been arrested, and it remains to be seen who the alleged second arrestee will be. Interestingly Rebekah Brooks was going to face a no confidence motion against her from the News of the World staff, except of course she then fired every last one of them before they had the chance. Expect the Sunday Sun or Sun on Sunday, and for Murdoch to use every weapon he has available in his arsenal to win full control of BSkyB. It’s a step beyond machiavellian – it’s a megalomaniacal act I’d say, to fire an entire newspaper’s worth of people – some of whom won’t be the scum of the earth – purely to win the biggest possible prize.
News International’s friend David Cameron, the man who had no problem with Andy Coulson as his Communications Director, really should think long and hard about allowing the takeover. Murdoch may have played a little trick yesterday, to ensure questions aren’t asked about plurality, but he also needs to assure his other friend Jeremy Hunt that he and his cronies are ‘fit and proper’ to run the Sky show alone. I think we’ve had it conclusively proven that that couldn’t be further from the case. How many MPs will have the guts to stand against the NI empire?
For that matter who buys James Murdoch’s argument that Brooks’ ethics are ‘very good’? Stephen Glover at the Independent argues:
My belief is that Rebekah Brooks will have to go, and that James and even Rupert Murdoch may not be safe. Temporarily closing a newspaper – for that is what this announcement amounts to – should not divert our attention from the main culprits. This is a desperate ploy by a dysfunctional company.
I know who the Premiership footballer is. Chances are you do too. But he wants to do everything in his power to stop you knowing (and revealing further) that he had an affair. What a douchebag. I’m not going to reveal his identity here – I don’t care about him enough, but 5 seconds on Twitter should be enough for anyone. For that matter why not check out a whole load of front pages of national newspapers this morning before he tries to get you too, on his arrogant crusade:
A Scottish newspaper became the first mainstream British publication to identify the Premier League footballer who is attempting to prevent discussion on Twitter about his affair with the former Big Brother star Imogen Thomas. Meanwhile it was reported that a High Court judge had referred an unidentified journalist to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, to consider a criminal prosecution for breaching a privacy injunction with a tweet about another footballer.
The move could potentially mean that criminal proceedings would be brought against 30,000 people who have broken one or other of the contested injunctions by tweeting in recent days the identities of those involved.
Good luck with that. Even libel lawfirm Carter Ruck knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on once the superinjunction protecting Trafigura from revelations they’d dumped toxic waste in Ivory Coast had been breached by tens of thousands of users on Twitter. Stopping that information was just impossible – force Twitter to filter information before it can be posted and find a competitor popping up with no such scruples; punish identifiable users and find countless more unidentifiable users publishing the protected information again and again. If this footballer had a brain he’d stop repeatedly destroying his own reputation.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said of his force’s policing operations in advance of the Royal Wedding:
He fiercely defends having made pre-emptive arrests of suspected troublemakers before the wedding. “Things were put in place to try to prevent trouble on the day and arrests were made. But you also saw British cops at their best.”
He was particularly proud of the way his men engaged with the public and got them on side so that when difficult crowd manoeuvres had to be performed, they were compliant. As he passed one knot of spectators they were chanting: “We love Gary”, Sir Paul recalls. “Who’s Gary?” he asked. The policeman replied sheepishly: “It’s me, guv.”
So the question is, given what his thugs actually did, was he actually defending it or were these genuinely rogue operations, not sanctioned by him? It brings up an eerie recollection of the inquest into Jean Charles de Menezes’ death – noone told the cops who incompetently followed him, or those who ultimately murdered him to do so, but a certain environment was set up and sanctioned by the top which allowed it to happen. Is this what allowed the pre-wedding abuses to take place so freely? Let me remind you what they actually were:
There was this appalling ‘snatch and grab’ of people peacefully singing in Soho Square (via Liberal Conspiracy):
And what of the mind boggling arrest of Charlie Veitch for pre-crime (this video will shock you):
I’ve blogged about ‘Love Police’ Charlie before. To see him arrested for ‘conspiring to’ (read: thinking privately to himself about) potentially upset a royal supporter or two makes much of the police’s antics under New Labour look tame. Is this British policing at its best? The outcome here:
Charlie was collected by the Metropolitan Police from Parkside and taken to an undisclosed police station in London for 8 hours. Efforts by his lawyer, family, and partner to locate him were made in vain – he had effectively been ‘disappeared’ into the police system. Charlie was denied his right to a phone call from London, again continuing the obstruction of his access to his lawyer, family, partner and supporters. He requested that the police telephone his partner to inform her of his whereabouts, which was promised but not performed. With his family in the dark as to his whereabouts, concern was considerably growing.
Charlie was eventually released on bail 23 hours and 45 minutes after his arrest at approximately 1600h on Friday 29th April from Edmonton Police Station, London – just within the 24 hour limit that a person can be lawfully arrested and detained without charge.
Entirely political policing, which, as Veitch himself noted in the video is what we’d expect of China, of Bahrain, of Syria even. Since when did we start arresting people at home because they might do something politically (and peacefully) which we disagree with? You might ask that of Chris Knight:
Knight similarly hadn’t done anything, but the Met decided that he should be pre-emptively arrested essentially for conspiring to use his freedom of speech. A mock execution of an effigy of Prince Andrew away from the wedding procession might have caused offence, but since when was that an arrestable offence, especially considering it hadn’t happened yet? Is that British policing at its best? I’ve blogged about Knight too – suspended from his job in advance of the G20 protests merely for publicly stating what he thought the consequences might be on the day of the Met’s inflammatory rhetoric. British policing also swooped on his planned event in Soho Square (seen in this video):
And what about these arrests at Charing Cross? Of course there were many other outrageous acts of blatantly political policing (links available via the Liberal Conspiracy site earlier in this article).
Sir Paul may express his pride in this British policing, but he notably doesn’t mention TSG thug Simon Harwood, nor of his colleagues who enabled him to attack Ian Tomlinson and who then shielded him from accountability. I would argue the opposite to the Commissioner – his force, more than ever, is a tool to enforce the status quo through violence and political repression. That can’t reasonably be any cause for anyone to feel pride.
Blasphemy laws by the back door? You decide. From the British Humanist Association:
Three posters planned for display at railway stations as part of The Census Campaign have been refused by companies owning the advertising space, who viewed them as too likely to cause offence.
Two reasons were given by owners of the space: they were concerned that the use of the phrase ‘for God’s sake’ would cause widespread and serious offence and they also did not wish to take adverts relating to religion.
The BHA has reacted with astonishment that an everyday phrase should be deemed too contentious for public display.
‘It is a little tongue-in-cheek,’ BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘but in the same way that saying “bless you” has no religious implication for many, “for God’s sake” is used to express urgency and not to invoke a deity. This censorship of a legitimate advert is frustrating and ridiculous: the blasphemy laws in England have been abolished but we are seeing the same principle being enforced nonetheless.’
The BHA also pointed out that the adverts were only tangentially related to religion, being mostlyconcerned with public policy and directed towards people who are not religious.
Mr Copson continued, ‘The Census Campaign is not intended to dissuade those who hold strong religious beliefs from holding them. We are asking people to be honest and if they are not religious, to say so. Ticking “No religion” means that their voices will be heard and we will have a more truthful picture of what people really believe today.’
We are continuing down the highly dangerous path of outlawing offence and avoiding even the possibility of offence, and from the looks of it out of sheer cowardice. Is this a side effect of outlawing incitement to religious hatred, or the recent upswing in Christian militancy? ‘For God’s sake’ isn’t a religious statement, any more than ‘Good God’ or ‘Oh my God’ (OMG – religious? Please!) – self-censorship only emboldens the zealous religious lobby and contributes to this problem. The companies which denied the ads should be ashamed of themselves. The BHA point out:
- Those who profess no religion have risen from 31% to 51% between 1983 and 2009.
- In 1983 66% identified as Christian, in 2008 the number was 43%.
- In 2008 37% of the UK population are sceptical, 35% have definite or doubtful.
- In 2009 only 17% of the British population attend religious services at least monthly, and only 11% attend at least weekly.
- Those self-described as members of the Church of England consist of 20% of the population in 2009 (40% in 1983). In 2008, it was found that 49% of this group never attend services; only 8% of people who identify with the CofE attend church weekly.
- 62% of people in Britain never attend a religious service.
The religious lobby needs to be seen as the minority which it is.
Mathew Ingram makes some interesting points about Twitter’s attempts to resist the US Department of Justice’s subpoena for Wikileaks supporters’ personal information:
According to Greenwald and a report in the New York Times, the court order sent to Twitter would not have become public at all if the company had not initially refused to comply with the DoJ request and effectively forced it out into the open. Twitter should be congratulated for this (and has been by many users on Twitter since the news broke Friday night). The company didn’t have to fight for this court order to be made public; it could easily have complied with the DoJ subpoena in private.
However, the fact that Twitter is being targeted by the government is another sign of how important the network has become as a real-time publishing platform, and also of how centralized the service is — something that could spark interest in distributed and open-source alternatives such as Status.net, just as the downtime suffered by the network early last year did. It is another sign of how much we rely on networks that are controlled by a single corporate entity, as Global Voices founder Ethan Zuckerman pointed out when WikiLeaks was ejected from Amazon’s servers and had its DNS service shut down.
All of this makes it even more important that Twitter has forced the government’s attempts out into the light. One would hope that Facebook and Google — the latter of whom has talked a lot in the past about its commitment to freedom of speech, and has also taken action in China to protest that government’s digital surveillance of its citizens — would also come clean about any court orders they have received, especially when the DoJ appears determined to make a case that could easily entrap virtually anyone, up to and including reporters for the New York Times.
It’s worth reiterating that the unsealing order only happened because Twitter refused to comply with the order in secret, not not to comply with it. Very impressive that they’re not limply accepting the DoJ’s demand for information, but the matter is far from closed and all their actions have so far allowed is the users in question the ability to challenge the DoJ personally. The targeted users (and any unnamed people on other platforms) are still vulnerable to the Obama administration’s witchhunt against whistleblowers. Glenn Greenwald points out the US government’s terrible hypocrisy about whistleblowing:
The DOJ’s investigation of a member of Iceland’s Parliament — as part of an effort to intimidate anyone supporting WikiLeaks and to criminalize journalism that exposes what the U.S. Government does — is one of the most extreme acts yet in the Obama administration’s always-escalatingwar on whistleblowers, and shows how just excessive and paranoid the administration is when it comes to transparency: all this from a President who ran on a vow to have the “most transparent administration in history” and to “Protect Whistleblowers.”
He’s very right when he points out the dangers of using mass platforms like Twitter. They may be very handy, with superficial airs of confidentiality if you need it, but are potentially vulnerable to governmental use and abuse. Protest movements have used them repeatedly to organise demonstrations or in the case of dictatorships outright insurrections, but this has shown that it’s a two-way process. The war against Wikileaks continues, and the government responsible for the crimes they’ve proven tries every trick in the book to get away with them.
Julian #Assange has shown, through the Wikileaks revelations of the last year, that the international order has no interest whatsoever in the rule of law. It’s hardly surprising then that the man who leaked so much of the information which has led to the calls for witchhunts against Wikileaks should be treated with the severity which many expect awaits Assange himself. Glenn Greenwald reports:
Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months — and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait — under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.
Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.
From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.
This can’t be right. It just can’t. This man has revealed murders committed by the US military, which they tried to pretend never happened. He has revealed our governments are guilty of war crimes they don’t want us to know about, for fear we might actually hold them to account. Brad Manning is a fucking hero who should be protected, not prosecuted. Of his leaks, a group of German newspapers has said:
Journalism has not only the right but the duty to control the state and to elucidate the mechanisms of governance. It creates transparency. Without transparency, there is no democracy. The state is not an end in itself, and must withstand a confrontation with his own secrets.
We, the initiators and signatories demand a stop to the persecution of Wikileaks, contrary to international law. We call on all States and all companies, to oppose the campaign against civil rights. We urge all citizens, public figures or not, in political positions or as individuals, to take action to stop the campaign against freedom of expression and freedom of information. We invite everyone to participate in the call for media freedom.
I couldn’t agree more. In the post-1945 world of codified human rights it cannot be right that a soldier who whistleblows on atrocities committed by his government should be treated in this way. It’s a complete betrayal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And now, thankfully the UN is intervening:
The United Nations is investigating a complaint on behalf of Bradley Manning that he is being mistreated while held since May in US Marine Corps custody pending trial. The army private is charged with the unauthorised use and disclosure of classified information, material related to the WikiLeaks, and faces a court martial sometime in 2011.
The office of Manfred Nowak, special rapporteur on torture based in Geneva, received the complaint from a Manning supporter; his office confirmed that it was being looked into. Manning’s supporters say that he is in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day; this could be construed as a form of torture. This month visitors reported that his mental and physical health was deteriorating.
Julian #Assange has been in Wandsworth Prison for the last week, held in solitary confinement on an Interpol warrant for an alleged crime in Sweden, yet without charge. This smells even fishier:
The Crown Prosecution Service will go to the high court tomorrow to seek the reversal of a decision to free the WikiLeaks founder on bail, made yesterday by a judge at City of Westminster magistrates court.
It had been widely thought Sweden had made the decision to oppose bail, with the CPS acting merely as its representative. But today the Swedish prosecutor’s office told the Guardian it had “not got a view at all on bail” and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail.
Lawyers for Assange reacted to the news with shock and said CPS officials had told them this week it was Sweden which had asked them to ensure he was kept in prison.
Karin Rosander, director of communications for Sweden’s prosecutor’s office, told the Guardian: “The decision was made by the British prosecutor. I got it confirmed by the CPS this morning that the decision to appeal the granting of bail was entirely a matter for the CPS. The Swedish prosecutors are not entitled to make decisions within Britain. It is entirely up to the British authorities to handle it.”
As a result, she said, Sweden will not be submitting any new evidence or arguments to the high court hearing tomorrow morning. “The Swedish authorities are not involved in these proceedings. We have not got a view at all on bail.”
As I write, Assange is in court trying to get his freedom secured; freedom from what seems to me to be unlawful detention. His treatment in the UK seems clearly to be political and is almost certainly connected to the Wikileaks revelations. Time I suppose will tell whether the CPS’s behaviour is the result of American pressure or if it’s the British state choosing to abusing him all on its own. The Guardian adds:
Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens said this was “highly irregular”. He told PA:
The question we have to ask is if they weren’t talking to the Swedes, who were they talking to? It’s highly irregular because, as (director of public prosecutions) Keir Starmer said on Radio 4 this morning, the CPS are supposed to act as the agents of the Swedish authorities and they appear to be acting without the knowledge of their director or the Swedes.
It remains opaque and unclear as to who actually gave the order to oppose bail.
Last night they took down Amazon across multiple domains. Charles Arthur offers a fascinating insight into the movement who say they’re standing up for Julian Assange and Wikileaks:
Even with 3,000 people in the group, that’s going to make little difference to a site like Mastercard or Amazon. But an0n pointed out that there are more serious players in there: “I know a guy who is using a botnet of 25k computers to do this,” he observed. Hired, I asked, or his own creation? “No idea,” came the reply. “He used to hack a lot, so it could well be his. He’s a scene hacker, which is as good as you get.”
And he didn’t think the attack on PayPal would really work, because it wouldn’t garner the backing of those with the real hacker skills required: “we’re all pirates – we all use PayPal on a daily basis. Plus [PayPal] met our demands [to release funds to Wikileaks]: the reason the attack took place was because they froze Assange’s funds. They have unfrozen them due to Operation Payback.” Plus, “there are plenty on /b/, largely American who wholeheartedly agree with the arrest of Assange.”
In fact it’s difficult – perhaps wrong – to call Anonymous a group. It is, but only in the loosest sense; it’s more like a stampeding herd, not sure quite what it wants but certain that it’s not going to put up with any obstacles, until it reaches an obstacle it can’t hurdle, in which case it moves on to something else.
How long, I asked an0n, did he think the group would keep Amazon and PayPal in its sights? “One or two weeks,” he guessed. In fact, it already looks like less than that – on Saturday a Twitter announcement seemed to suggest that it would instead try to distribute existing Wikileaks content via Bittorrent. So, three days of insurrection.
Twitter Suspends Wikileaks Defenders’ Profile
by Stephen Gutowski
The group responsible for “hacking” several companies which have cut ties with and services to Wikileaks as well as Sarah Palin moments ago had their twitter account suspended. The group,as identified by Scientific American, calls itself “Operation Payback” or Anon_Operation on twitter. Up until just a few minutes ago when you visited the group’s twitter profile you would see tweets from the group touting media coverage of themselves and coordinating attacks with their 11,000+ followers.
Here is a cache image of the account (click to enlarge):
However, now when you try to visit this account on twitter you instead receive a notice that the account has been suspended. Here’s what Anon_Operation looks like now (click to enlarge):
UPDATE: In case you’re wondering this group has all the hallmarks of something born out of 4Chan. The use of the term “Anon”, short for anonymous, is enough of a clue but the fact that the attacks they are using are DDoS is another clue since that is a 4Chan favorite. It might come as a surprise but this isn’t the first time they’ve gone after Sarah Palin either.
Remember during the campaign when Sarah Palin’s email account was “hacked”? That was also 4Chan. Of course that didn’t turn out to well for the main guy involved.
However, a post from Michelle Malkin on the matter gives a pretty good glimpse into the standard operating procedure for when 4Chan wants to cause trouble. It should give you some background on what you can expect. Given 4Chan’s history it’s doubtful that twitter suspending this account will really prevent them from doing more damage.
In fact this move makes me wonder if these 4Channers wont go after Twitter next. They’ll attack anybody if they rub them the wrong way or if they think its funny… even 4Chan.
UPDATE: If you needed further proof of 4Chan’s connection to “Operation Payback” here it is.
What I don’t understand is this: Twitter is comfortable with allowing rampant racism, homophobia and breaches of pornography laws. Yet with this they act -
Once vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has embroiled herself in the #wikileaks controversy:
ABC News is reporting that Sarah Palin’s website and credit card information apparently have been hacked by supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Palin told ABC’s Jake Tapper in an e-mail that “this is what happens when you exercise the First Amendment and speak against his sick, un-American espionage efforts.”
The former Alaska governor has criticized Assange on her Facebook page for posting classified documents on WikiLeaks that reveal the identity of Afghan sources to the Taliban. She called Assange an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands.”
Now I’m going to assume this nutjob Tea Party darling is speaking for all of them with the words she’s chosen, so let me break her argument apart quite quickly (it’s never difficult to do with right wingers, particularly Americans).
‘Sick, un-American espionage efforts’, eh? Well he’s Australian, so he’s not exactly bound by her perverse sense of American nationalism, is he? As for the rest? ‘Anti-American operative with blood on his hands’? I’d like to point her towards Iraq and Afghanistan – exactly where Assange has pointed us. The blood on the American government’s hands can never be cleansed – the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands, all for the sake of installing corrupt, puppet regimes. The blood on Assange’s hands? None. She and her fascist ilk need to be stamped on for their attempts permanently to inhibit freedom of speech and a free press in their rapidly failing state:
Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) introduced a bill Thursday aimed at stopping WikiLeaks by making it illegal to publish the names of military or intelligence community informants.
Ensign accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his “cronies” of hindering America’s war efforts and creating a “hit list” for U.S. enemies by outing intelligence sources.
“Our sources are bravely risking their lives when they stand up against the tyranny of al Qaeda, the Taliban and murderous regimes, and I simply will not stand idly by as they become death targets because of Julian Assange,” Ensign said. “Let me be very clear, WikiLeaks is not a whistleblower website and Assange is not a journalist.”
So America is allowed to kill innocents and get away with it, but the moment that the truth is revealed about its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan Assange becomes the real problem? That the only facts the media are allowed to reveal are those handed to them by the government, to suit its agenda? That’s the logic of fascism folks.