Pablo Picasso Female bust 1943
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2023) December 13, 2022
And then you get the coldest night of the year…
First ever recorded snowball fight (1897)
First ever recorded snowball fight (1897) pic.twitter.com/c6t6A0Mgo0
— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPics) December 11, 2022
“Everything appears to be veering out-of-control, including thought itself.”
Here’s another awful reality (better fasten your seatbelts): What also emerged in the tweet record of Yoel Roth, the company’s chief censor (former “Head of Trust and Safety”), begins to look like a gay mafia assault on the collective American psyche. Having gained official federal government sanction and protection, a statistically tiny homosexual demographic left in charge of the country’s main public forum has been out for revenge against their perceived enemy, political conservatives — Americans disinclined to join the cheerleading for drag queen story hours, “minor-attracted persons,” transsexuals in the military, and other LBGTQ cultural pranks. In the process, that gay mafia running the public dialogue supported every lie that the government, its protector, put out, to keep the Deep State happy and well-fed. Shocking, I’m sure… but there it is.
That means the gay mafia also helped promote the most-deadly psy-op in world history: the Covid-19 scare and the mass “vaccination” crusade that will end up killing many millions world-wide, after destroying the economies of the Western Civ nations. The whole package looks like an attempt to turn the world upside down and inside out. Is it any wonder that so many feel the USA has gone crazy? Of course, these revelations aroused the widespread suspicion that these now-exposed nefarious operators in social media were merely tools for some murky plutocrat elite led by the likes of the WEF, Bill Gates, and George Soros. Could that be the greatest “conspiracy theory” of all? More likely, I hesitate to suggest, all these characters in one way or another are merely tools of history itself, as the world enters the darkest days of a Fourth Turning secular winter.
As T.S. Eliot observed: “Humankind cannot bear too much reality.” Thus, so many sense we live in dangerous times. Everything appears to be veering out-of-control, including thought itself. Disorder incites more disorder. While all this madness is going on in-country, the US government, led by the phantom president “Joe Biden,” continues to prosecute its insane proxy war in Ukraine in order to antagonize Russia. Lately the US has sent drones hundreds of miles inside Russia to blow up military airfields. How is that not an escalation of hostilities, and exactly how far do the American people want their government to take this crazy project?
SBF could have been arrested, and charges filed, anytime over the past, what has it been, 6 weeks?! But they pick the day before his virtual hearing in Congress. Which now won’t happen.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested by Bahamian authorities Monday evening after the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York shared a sealed indictment with the Bahamian government, setting the stage for extradition and U.S. trial for the onetime crypto billionaire at the heart of the crypto exchange’s collapse. His arrest is the first concrete move by regulators to hold individuals accountable for the multibillion-dollar implosion of FTX last month. Before his arrest was announced, Bankman-Fried had been expected to testify virtually before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, but his attorneys told CNBC that he will not appear.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who oversees that committee, said that she was “surprised” at his arrest, and disappointed that Congress would not be able to hear from him on Tuesday. Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said on Twitter that the federal government anticipated moving to “unseal the indictment in the morning.” The charges include wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, and money laundering, according to the New York Times, citing a person familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission has initiated a separate set of charges against Bankman-Fried, relating to “violations of our securities laws, which will be filed publicly tomorrow in the Southern District of New York,” enforcement director Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.
What was SBF going to talk about? His links to Gensler, Ukraine, Democrats?
“The charges include wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, and money laundering – NYT”
Securities fraud. Wait, that’s Gensler…
Sunlight is the best disinfectant – unless you’re Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler – who scrubbed evidence of a meeting with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from his calendar, along with key details of a meeting with Billionaire leftist-operative George Soros. He also concealed September 21 meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and former Bill Clinton White House official-turned-DC consultant, Minyon Moore. Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs executive, Obama administration official, Clinton’s 2016 campaign CFO, and FTX associate, essentially had two calendars. His public calendar showed that on Aug. 7, 2021, he only had a staff meeting, while his private calendar lists a meeting with Hillary Clinton, Fox News reports.
Thirteen days later on Aug. 20, 2021, Gensler’s public calendar does list a meeting with Soros, but the agenda was hidden. His private calendar reveals that the meeting was held to discuss an upcoming WSJ op-ed Soros was planning to write in which he slammed BlackRock for launching investment products for Chinese customers, while also applauding the company’s ESG policies. “Gensler’s private calendar revealing the discrepancies was obtained by the watchdog group Energy Policy Advocates and shared with Fox News Digital. The group was only able to obtain the internal records after filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the SEC. In recent days, around the time Fox News Digital contacted the SEC, the agency updated Gensler’s public calendar to include his meeting with Clinton in August 2021. As recently as Wednesday the public calendar didn’t include the meeting, and archived copies of the webpage from April also list just a meeting with staff. -Fox News ”
When contacted for comment, the SEC initially lied – saying that the Clinton meeting was visible on Gensler’s public calendar. When confronted with screenshots to the contrary, the spokesperson said that the agency updates calendars “from time to time” when inaccuracies are discovered (by watchdog groups?). Gensler also concealed several September 2021 meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Minyon Moore – both of which have been now updated on Gensler’s public calendar. “That even George Soros is calling out progressive darling BlackRock for craven blundering is striking — even if it did carry the requisite, tribal praise for BlackRock’s truly damaging ‘ESG’ (environmental, social and governance) campaigning to impose their shared ‘climate’ agenda on the U.S., an agenda also much to China’s delight,” said Chris Horner, a lawyer representing Energy Policy Advocates. “That it appears Soros received counsel from Gary Gensler on the mega-donor’s call for more SEC powers as a result is truly astonishing.”
“We must examine Twitter’s complicity in what President-Elect Biden has rightly termed insurrection.”
The new drop reveals that Twitter employees did not believe former President Trump had violated Twitter’s policies. “I think we’d have a hard time saying this is incitement,” wrote one staffer in an internal message, adding: “It’s pretty clear he’s saying the ‘American Patriots’ are the ones who voted for him and not the terrorists (we can call them that, right?)…” Another staffer agreed, writing: “Don’t see the incitement angle here.” “I also am not seeing clear or coded incitement in the DJT tweet,” wrote Anika Navaroli, a Twitter policy official. “I’ll respond in the elections channel and say that our team has assessed and found no vios”—or violations—“for the DJT one.”
4. For years, Twitter had resisted calls both internal and external to ban Trump on the grounds that blocking a world leader from the platform or removing their controversial tweets would hide important information that people should be able to see and debate. 5. “Our mission is to provide a forum that enables people to be informed and to engage their leaders directly,” the company wrote in 2019. Twitter’s aim was to “protect the public’s right to hear from their leaders and to hold them to account.” 6. But after January 6, as @mtaibbi and @shellenbergermd have documented, pressure grew, both inside and outside of Twitter, to ban Trump.
7. There were dissenters inside Twitter. “Maybe because I am from China,” said one employee on January 7, “I deeply understand how censorship can destroy the public conversation.” 8. But voices like that one appear to have been a distinct minority within the company. Across Slack channels, many Twitter employees were upset that Trump hadn’t been banned earlier. 9. After January 6, Twitter employees organized to demand their employer ban Trump. “There is a lot of employee advocacy happening,” said one Twitter employee. 10. “We have to do the right thing and ban this account,” said one staffer. It’s “pretty obvious he’s going to try to thread the needle of incitement without violating the rules,” said another.
11. In the early afternoon of January 8, The Washington Post published an open letter signed by over 300 Twitter employees to CEO Jack Dorsey demanding Trump’s ban. “We must examine Twitter’s complicity in what President-Elect Biden has rightly termed insurrection.” 12. But the Twitter staff assigned to evaluate tweets quickly concluded that Trump had *not* violated Twitter’s policies.“I think we’d have a hard time saying this is incitement,” wrote one staffer. 13. “It’s pretty clear he’s saying the ‘American Patriots’ are the ones who voted for him and not the terrorists (we can call them that, right?) from Wednesday.” 14. Another staffer agreed: “Don’t see the incitement angle here.”
sundance still doesn’t buy it. He wants to see what government officials are involved, not just the Twitter employees..
The fifth installment of the Twitter Files release drops today courtesy of Ms. Bari Weiss. The focus of Ms Weiss was on the decision to ban President Donald Trump from the platform, and her outline walks through the events leading up to the decision to remove him. After a review of internal discussions, slacks and conversations within the social media platform, ultimately the officers within the company decided to protect their view of democracy by removing their biggest ideological opponent. The Twitter executives justified their actions by echo-chambering a belief that President Trump was tweeting “coded messages,” the secret transmission of thoughts that can only be received by those wearing red hats, tuned to a specific psychological frequency.
As Weiss notes: “Less than 90 minutes after Twitter employees had determined that Trump’s tweets were not in violation of Twitter policy, Vijaya Gadde—Twitter’s Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust—asked whether it could, in fact, be “coded incitement to further violence.” President Trump tweeted the term “American Patriots,” which would be viewed by the Twitter ideologues as something akin to “the leader of a terrorist group responsible for violence/deaths comparable to Christchurch shooter or Hitler and on that basis and on the totality of his Tweets, he should be de-platformed.” It did not take long for the narrative to embed as the most senior Twitter regulatory officers assembled. “One hour later, Twitter announces Trump’s permanent suspension “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
The entirety of Twitter File #5 release surrounds this internal Twitter dynamic, carefully avoiding any discussion or sunlight from outside government actors who may have been in direct contact with the senior Twitter team. Indeed, the documents chosen to provide evidence of the debate and decision to remove President Trump are transparently devoid of any inbound government contact to the Twitter organization. Thus, at the end of Ms. Weiss carefully written expose’, she concludes with this:
See, it’s only “a handful of people at a private company“…. Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along. Apparently, DHS, FBI and CISA officials were involved in direct contact with Twitter through their DHS “trusted partnership” portal to get rid of innocuous rebel voices and influence agents like Dan Bongino, Q conspiracy theorists, and various COVID doctors who were providing information against the interests of the government. However, when it came to removing the most powerful voice of President Donald John Trump, there was nothing but static radio silence from the government side of the DHS portal. You getting this? Do you see how this is presented? “A handful of people at a private company,” that’s the story and they are sticking to it. Swear.
Presumably only after NATO has defeated them.
Once Russia ends the conflict in Ukraine, it should be given a chance to do business with Germany again, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday. He repeated that Moscow must and will not win, however. A Russian government that ends the hostilities “needs a chance to restart economic cooperation, in another time when this is possible,” Scholz said in Berlin, at the meeting of the Eastern Committee for German Business (OA), a trade association focused on relations with eastern Europe. “Now is not that time.” “At the moment, the relationships we have are being scaled back,” Scholz said, according to the weekly Zeit. The EU is “tightening the sanctions” now, but Russia will remain the largest country on the European continent after the conflict is resolved. “It is therefore very important that we make preparations for this time.”
Scholz described the current conflict as an attempt by President Vladimir Putin to re-create a Russian Empire that is destroying the country’s future instead, and accused Moscow of atrocities against the Ukrainian civilians. Russia must not win “and Russian will not win, either,” he told the business group. Berlin’s determination to ditch Russian energy imports – pushed mainly by Scholz’s Green coalition partners – created troubles for Germany even before the gas deliveries were disrupted by the sabotage on Nord Stream pipelines in September. Germans are now trying to make up the shortages from elsewhere, though unsuccessfully. Earlier this month, Germany’s ambassador in Washington admitted to the economic troubles, but said this was a small price to pay for a “profound transformation” of her country into a remilitarized continental power, more hostile to Russia and closer to the US.
For all of Scholz’s promises to help Ukraine, Kiev has continued to browbeat Berlin about deliveries of tanks and even more artillery. Last week, the chancellor’s predecessor Angela Merkel admitted that the 2014 Minsk agreement was not aimed at resolving the conflict in Donbass, but to “give Ukraine time” to arm against Russia. Putin said he was disappointed by Merkel’s admission and that the trust between Moscow and Berlin was now “almost at zero.”
Trying to escalate.
Missile strikes have destroyed 50% of Ukraine’s energy facilities, the country’s President Vladimir Zelensky said in a call with US President Joe Biden, according to a statement published on the Ukrainian leader’s website on Monday. The Ukrainian leader also highlighted US assistance in restoring Ukraine’s energy grid and hoped that the parties would deepen cooperation on this track. In addition, Zelensky urged Biden to help Kiev establish air defenses.
Poland wants its part of Ukraine.
Russia cannot expect security guarantees from other nations, a senior Polish diplomat has said. Calls to address Moscow’s concerns about NATO expansion in Europe have come from former and serving leaders of EU nations, including ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. People should not “let themselves be persuaded … that Russia has the right to expect security guarantees from anyone,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told journalists ahead of a meeting of top diplomats of EU member states, which kicked off in Brussels on Monday. “It’s just a strategic mistake – that kind of consideration. It is not Russia that needs security guarantees today, but Europe needs security guarantees from Russia,” he said, adding that the Polish delegation will call for the harshest sanctions possible on Russia during the ministerial meeting.
Moscow has for years told the US and its allies that the expansion of NATO poses a threat to Russian national security, and warned that by ignoring its objections on issues such as Ukraine’s potential membership in the US-led bloc, Western nations were crossing a red line. A last-ditch attempt to defuse tensions came last year, when Moscow offered an agreement which it said would address this concern. The proposal was rejected, with Western leaders doubling down on NATO’s open-door policy. Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February, citing, among other reasons, the bloc’s creeping expansion to the east. While EU nations condemned the move as an act of supposedly unprovoked aggression, some politicians acknowledged that the lack of a European security architecture that would alleviate Russia’s concerns was a major destabilizing factor.
In her first interview after stepping down as chancellor, Merkel said that the failure to build such an arrangement was something “we should think about” when discussing Ukraine. Her successor, Olaf Scholz, said that “we have to go back to the agreements which we had in the past decades and which were the basis for peace and security order in Europe.” He also claimed that Russia broke these arrangements and that there was “no aggression coming from NATO.” Macron argued this month that the US-led bloc needs to prepare an offer of security guarantees for Moscow to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. He said the concerns that “NATO will deploy weapons that will threaten Russia” were understandable.
Ha! It’s not the vaccines, it’s climate change.
New research has found extremely hot and cold temperatures increase the risk of death among people with cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart failure. An international study, published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, looked at more than 32 million cardiovascular deaths over four decades from more than two dozen countries. It found people with heart failure experienced the most additional deaths from extreme temperatures compared to those with other heart conditions. “The decline in cardiovascular death rates since the 1960s is a huge public health success story as cardiologists identified and addressed individual risk factors such as tobacco, physical inactivity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and others,” Dr. Barrak Alahmad, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a faculty member at the College of Public Health at Kuwait University, said in a news release.
“The current challenge now is the environment and what climate change might hold for us.” The study used health data, pulled from 567 cities in 27 countries across five continents between 1979 and 2019, through the Multi-Country Multi-City Collaborative Research Network. Researchers compared cardiovascular deaths on the hottest and coldest 2.5 per cent of days for each city with cardiovascular deaths in those same cities on days that had optimal temperatures or when death rates were lowest. The study found that for every 1,000 cardiovascular deaths, extreme hot days accounted for 2.2 additional deaths, while extreme cold days accounted for 9.1 additional deaths.
Europe has a nice scandal. Allegedly, €600,000 was found in this woman’s father’s home. Cash, in bags.
European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili, a suspect in an investigation into money laundering and corruption at the parliament, has denied receiving money from Qatar, one of her lawyers said in Greece on Tuesday. Kaili, one of 14 vice presidents of the parliament, was among four people arrested and charged in Belgium at the weekend over allegations that Qatar lavished them with cash and gifts to influence decision-making. “Her position is that she is innocent, I can tell you that,” Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, a lawyer representing Kaili in Greece, told Open TV. “She has nothing to do with financing from Qatar, nothing – explicitly and unequivocally. That is her position,” Dimitrakopoulos said. He added that Kaili had “undertaken no commercial activity in her life.” Greece on Monday froze Kaili’s assets in the country. The European Parliament has suspended her from her duties.
Yes, “one of 14 vice presidents of the parliament..” Wonder what they all get paid.
Greece’s Anti-Money Laundering Authority has issued a general order to freeze, until further notice, all assets that MEP Eva Kaili, 44, and her husband or her immediate family members (parents, siblings) may have in Greece. Kaili, a vice president of the European Parliament, and her husband were among four people arrested on Sunday on charges of corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organization. Police carried out raids at 16 houses in and around Brussels and seized €600,000 on Friday as a part of the investigation into a corruption scandal involving Qatar and prominent European politicians, dubbed Qatargate.
The order by the head of the Anti-Money Laundering Authority, former Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis, has already been forwarded to all Greek credit institutions to identify accounts, control movements, existence of safe deposit boxes, possession of other financial products, while at the same time an order was given to all land registry offices to freeze all real estate of the above persons. The move of the Anti-Money Laundering Authority, in addition to the broader control, which will be carried out anyway, aims, as sources told Kathimerini, to identify any cash that may be in the possession of the persons under investigation, and to ascertain whether they are products of legitimate origin or bribes.
As this investigation began on Monday morning, a real estate company set up about a month ago by the MEP and her husband in Kolonaki was identified and audited, and its entire activity has been frozen. The authority has also ordered and conducted a check on the assets of Kaili’s father. In the event that incriminating evidence is also found in Greece, Kaili could, in theory at least, request to be tried in Greece, but sources said this is unlikely. Under Belgian law, the charges against the MEP and her husband are punishable by three to five years in prison, while under Greek law the sentences range from15 years and can exceed 20 years, even reaching life sentences in very exceptional cases. However, legal sources have stressed that it is still too early to make assessment as the investigations are still in full swing and no one can predict what will emerge and what will be revealed.
More Greeks connected to Qatar.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declined to answer questions about her Vice President Margaritis Schinas’ relations with Qatar at a press briefing Monday, triggering fury from the Brussels press corps seeking answers on the biggest corruption scandal to hit the EU in years. The Greek commissioner represented the EU at the opening ceremony of the World Cup last month, and has been criticized by MEPs over his tweets in recent months, lavishing praise on Qatar’s labor reforms. Asked about the Commission’s response to the Qatar corruption scandal engulfing the European Parliament, and in particular the stance of Schinas, von der Leyen was silent on the Greek commissioner.
The decision by deputy European Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant to shut down questions from journalists, sparked a furious reaction from reporters in the room, who called for more answers. “You didn’t answer a single one of the questions,” one reporter shouted as Spinant tried to close a session with reporters. “This is not the way to organize a press conference here,” Spinant responded through a chorus of protest. While von der Leyen did respond to further questions on the scandal, she did not address reporters’ questions about the circumstances surrounding Schinas’ visit to Qatar. Instead, she pointed to a proposal for a new ethics body to police all EU institutions — something she committed to more than three years ago, but which has gained little traction within any of the main institutions.
Referring to the European Commission’s transparency register, a database which lists representatives who carry out activities to influence EU policy and decision-making, she said: “We have one with very clear rules internally in the European Commission. There I think it is time to discuss whether we could not establish this over all for all EU institutions.”
Borders change all the time.
Most countries have different religions, cultures, customs, values, local laws, practices, and political systems. Not only does changing other countries’ cultures not qualify as fair and just national interests, but also borders on the ridiculous when some countries unilaterally appoint themselves as heaven’s guardian on earth and incorporate such metaphysical concepts into their national interests. Does changing other people into one’s image make them more humane or Godlier? Or does it make them more pliable for exploitation? History confirms that such attempts have never been successful in perpetuating themselves, as evidenced by Alexander’s Hellenistic empire, Great Rome, Genghis Khan, the Golden Horde, the Crusades, the Islamic conquests, etc. – they were all eventually expunged or melded into the cultures that they tried to change, at a huge human and physical cost.
Undoubtedly, an exploiter’s rewards can be attractive in the short term, subject that the infringement or exploitation being successful. But in the longer term, pressure will continue to be exerted to return to the original status, or a semblance of it, and again, at a huge human and physical cost. Defending a country’s national territory is considered a paramount national interest (is also a security objective). Consequently, territorial or border disputes are the most popular reasons for starting wars, especially for smaller nations. But if we dig only skin-deep into the history, we will quickly find that almost no country has, throughout the ages, maintained its theoretical or historical borders – it has always been a continuous ebb and flow of territory usurped or lost, more so in Europe and the ex-colonialized world.
Nevertheless, many falsely justify this as a casus belli, or a rallying call, to regain what they regard as usurped national land. They do this with total disregard to the views and wishes of the current inhabitants of the territories in dispute, thus lending credence to the likelihood that it, in reality, is a camouflage to exploit another nation’s land. The sad part is that these wars regularly flare up despite the presence of the UN and the International Court, which were created, among other things, to adjudicate the validity of such territorial disputes and, unless a gross miscarriage of justice occurs, all grounds for territorial wars are unjustified.
I know Ugo is Italian. But ignoring the entire Greek civilization is a step too far.
“..On the Southern coast of Europe, a lively network of commercial exchanges emerged, made possible by transportation over the Mediterranean Sea. Out of this network, the Roman Empire was born..”
The latest (and perhaps the last) attempt to unify Europe was the European Union. The creators of the Union understood that it was impossible to unify Europe by military means, so they tried to do it in the form of an economic free zone and an elected parliament. It was a bold attempt, but it didn’t work. It could not have worked. The Union faced enormous hostile forces, both internal and external. Britain and France were supposed to be balancing the German power, but when Britain left, in 2020, the Union suffered an economic defeat equivalent to the military one suffered by Germany in the Battle of Britain, in 1940. In both cases, they had tried to absorb Britain into continental Europe, and they had failed.
The defection of Britain left the European Union with Germany dominating it. Just like during WW2, the German government never understood that throwing its weight around was not the way to endear itself with the neighboring states. The result was the growth of anti-European forces all over the continent — the movement called “sovereignty” that aimed to restore the power of nation-states and get rid of the EU bureaucrats. So far, this movement has played only a marginal role in politics, but it has succeeded in making the EU deeply hated by everyone who is not getting their salaries from Brussels. Just as it had happened in 1941, Europe is now engaged in a desperate battle on two different fronts, but the struggle is now mainly economic and cultural, not military: it is a “full spectrum dominance” war.
The struggle is still ongoing, but it seems already clear that Europe is being defeated. Just like Germany had destroyed itself with a military attack on Russia in 1941, the European Union is destroying itself with its economic sanctions against Russia. Effectively, Europe is committing a slow and painful suicide. But that’s how full spectrum dominance works: it destroys enemies from the inside. And now? It was unavoidable that Europe would cease to be an Empire. The human and material resources that had made European dominance possible are not there any longer. But it was not unavoidable that Europe would destroy itself. Europe could have survived and maintained its independence by remaining on good terms with the other Eurasiatic powers, China, Russia, and India,
But, choosing to break the commercial, cultural, and human relations with the rest of Eurasia was not just an economic suicide. It was a cultural and moral suicide. So, what’s going to happen to poor Europe? History, as usual, rhymes: do not forget that in 1945 the official US plan was to destroy the German economy and exterminate most of the German population. Fortunately, the plan was shelved, but could that idea become fashionable again? We cannot exclude this possibility. In any case, an impoverished Europe could go back to something not unlike what it was during the early Middle Ages: depopulated, poor, primitive, a mere appendage of the great Eurasian Continent. And, yet, Europe has rebounded more than once from terrible disasters. It may happen again. Not soon, though.
The Guardian on Assange again. Feels uncomfortable. Their smear pieces are still up.
The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump. The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”. But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.
Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press. Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution. Five major media organizations that relied on his trove of government secrets, including the Guardian and the New York Times, put out an open letter earlier this month saying that his indictment “sets a dangerous precedent” and threatens to undermine the first amendment.
At the same time, officials in Australia, where Assange was born and remains a citizen, met with American counterparts to appeal for his release. “My position is clear and has been made clear to the US administration: that it is time that this matter be brought to a close,” Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, told the Australian parliament late last month. In Brazil, meanwhile, President-elect Luis Inácio Lula da Silva demanded an end to what he called the “unjust imprisonment” of Assange after a meeting with WikiLeaks editors lobbying for his freedom. Some of Assange’s defenders, who have attacked his prosecution as a trampling of the first amendment, say they are optimistic that the case may have reached a turning point that could ultimately lead to his freedom.
“This case is hugely significant,” the Columbia University law professor Jameel Jaffer, who runs the Knight First Amendment Institute at the university, said in an interview. “At the end of the day, I find it hard to believe that the Biden administration wants this case to be its press freedom legacy, and it will be its legacy if they continue to pursue it. That will overshadow everything else when it comes to press freedom.” Justice department officials aren’t tipping their hand about where Assange’s prosecution might eventually lead, as he continues to challenge his extradition to the US before a British appeals court. The justice department declined to comment on all the outside calls to drop the case, but one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Garland “has made clear that he will follow the law wherever it leads”, as he has in other politically charged cases.
Hurling hot water in freezing tempetatures has always its aesthetical reward
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) December 12, 2022
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