SYDNEY, Australia — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, formally inaugurated a new political party bearing the name of his antisecrecy organization on Thursday and declared his own unorthodox candidacy for a seat in the Australian Senate in national elections to be held later this year.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Assange said he had every confidence in his ability to run a campaign from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. He has been living under asylum there for more than a year to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault accusations.
“It’s not unlike running the WikiLeaks organization,” he said. “We have people on every continent. We have to deal with over a dozen legal cases at once.”
“However, it’s nice to be politically engaged in my home country,” he added.
Mr. Assange, 42, an Australian computer hacker who rose to prominence as an evangelist for radical government transparency and a critic of United States foreign policy, is a deeply polarizing figure. Many believe that the WikiLeaks Party is simply a vanity project for Mr. Assange, although several polls conducted since plans to establish the party emerged earlier this year suggest that it could fare better than expected.
The Australian Senate has a long history of successful protest candidates, John Wanna, a political-science professor at Australian National University in Canberra, said in an interview. Mr. Assange is probably hoping to trade on his name recognition and follow in the footsteps of other rabble-rousing, single-issue senators, Professor Wanna said.
“He’s basically a nuisance candidate who may attract a bit of attention, because he’s not really about governing and sitting in Parliament,” he said. “He’s not standing to do the work, he’s standing for the nuisance value.”
If elected, Mr. Assange said, his party will work to advance “transparency, justice and accountability.”
“My plans are to essentially parachute in a crack troop of investigative journalists into the Senate and to do what we have done with WikiLeaks, in holding banks and government and intelligence agencies to account,” Mr. Assange said.
Supporters of Mr. Assange laud him as a hero for what they see as his dogged pursuit of government transparency, but prominent critics have described his releasing of classified information as a reckless act.
Mr. Assange is perhaps best known for WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of a huge trove of American diplomatic cables. His supporters maintain that the United States and its allies have fabricated the sexual assault case against him in Sweden to hamper his ability to release further classified materials and to punish him for those already released.
Under Australian law, Mr. Assange would have to take his seat within one year of being elected, although the Senate could technically grant him an extension if he is unable to physically take his seat. The British government has stated its intention to arrest him if he leaves the embassy in London.
Although he is best known for his views on international affairs, Mr. Assange was eager on Thursday to offer WikiLeaks’ position on the most contentious issue in contemporary Australian politics: the record number of people trying to reach Australia each year in rickety boats to claim political asylum.
Mr. Assange assailed a tough policy announced last week by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, under which all asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat are to be sent to refugee-processing centers in Papua New Guinea.
He compared his own situation, and that of Edward J. Snowden — the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents about American surveillance programs — with the plight of those trying to reach Australia by boat.
“I am a political asylum seeker, awarded political asylum by the Ecuadorean government, and another state, the United Kingdom, and other states are interfering with that,” he said.
I AM ONE of the Bethany survivors group. I live in Sydney, Australia, which has been my home for the last 40 years.
I was born in the Bethany Home Rathgar, but I was adopted by a family from Belfast. This family was very wealthy, however I had a terrible life with them. They abused me on daily basis. I left their home at the tender age of 14 never to return.
I became an alcoholic
I got married and had three children, but I was a drunk. Life was terrible and I was in hospital many times. We came to Australia hoping for a better life, however I continued drinking. I was to meet an Irishman who convinced me that I could get better. I have not had a drink for over 30 years and thankfully, I have a wonderful life. I served as Deputy Mayor here and also assisted the Irish Olympic Team during the Sydney Games.
After starting the long journey to recovery it was suggested to me that I should look into my background as this was one of the many problems I had. I contacted a solicitor in Ireland and instructed him to find my mother and what had happened.
I never knew I was born in Dublin as the papers I had showed that I was born in Belfast. I found my mother, but regretfully she had died just months before. She had seven sisters and I made a very emotional visit to Castlederg to visit one of them. That was a wonderful time in my life as I discovered I had a family.
The mystery around my identity
I found that my name was Maurice Johnston, so I went to Dublin and obtained a copy of my birth certificate and went to Rathgar to look at where I was born. I have had some health issues and most of these according to my doctor were a result of my treatment in Bethany. I found out about Bethany Survivors group by accident when I was looking for information on Bethany and I came across Derek Leinster, Chairperson Bethany Survivors Group.
Derek has become a good friend and without his help my anger and depression would be a lot worse. He has himself taken on this task and I know I speak for all of us when I say he has helped a lot of people understand why they feel different.
One of the strange problems involves my passport. I applied for a visa to visit USA, but the passport office came back and told me that there was no record of a Paul Graham being born in Dublin nor was there any record of a Paul Graham being born in Belfast.
The only person that understood
Eventually, we finally got the visa. I spoke to the Irish embassy about this and they said that as I had an Irish birth certificate it was legally possible to issue me a passport under my name of Maurice Johnston however they said it could cause a lot of legal problems.
I often wished that my childhood could have been different; I would love to have been normal and become perhaps a doctor, however this was not to be. I am now 74 and I have the beginnings of dementia, but I am finally happy after all these years. I have three wonderful children who have stood by me and a wonderful wife of 53 years.
She is only person who has understood that I was not bad, just sick.
Scientists have finally pinpointed the exact location of Hell thanks to help from the Dalai Lama.
Despite years of searching for its location by theologians and scientists alike, Hell had never been found until the Dalai Lama today described his Tibetan homeland as, “Hell on earth.”
Though scientists are excited by the find, many theologians have expressed concern over the lack of fiery brimstone and tortured sinners which had previously acted as a deterrent for would-be wrong-doers.
“I am a bit disappointed to be honest, yes.” said the Bishop of Caldecott.
The discovery has shocked many of Tibet’s recent visitors.
“I was in Tibet a couple of months ago and didn’t see any dead evil people,” said Shane McDonagh, a backpacker from Australia.
With Hell now safely marked on the world’s maps, the hunt is now on to find Heaven, with persistent rumours of it being on the Girls Aloud tour bus still unfounded.
Ex-Catholic brother Bernard Kevin McGrath loses extradition fight over 252 child sexual abuse charges – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The extradition order was made in the Christchurch District Court for 66-year-old Bernard Kevin McGrath.
He has 15 days in which to appeal or voluntarily return to Australia, otherwise he will be arrested and extradited.
New South Wales police say the alleged offending involved 35 boys from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s.
McGrath’s conditional bail was continued.
Dr Reilly said he lost his brother, a doctor and smoker, to lung cancer and his father, another smoker, suffered a stroke and was prematurely blind for the last 14 years of his life.
Ireland will become the second country in the world, after Australia, to remove branding from tobacco product packaging.
The cabinet signed off on Dr Reilly’s proposal today and it is expected legislation will be in place by early next year.
All forms of branding, including trademarks, logos, colours and graphics, will be removed from cigarette packets, while brand name will be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands and the packs would all be in one plain neutral colour. Health warnings will be given more prominence.
The Department of Health said there is strong evidence that standardised packaging will increase the effectiveness of health warnings; reduce false health beliefs about cigarettes and reduce brand appeal particularly among youth and young adults.
Dr Reilly was critical of the recent meeting involving the Taoiseach, Minister for Finance and Minister for Justice with the tobacco industry, but he expressed satisfaction with the substance of the meeting.
“The minutes of the meeting will show very clearly that all that was discussed was smuggling and nothing else,” he said.
“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance have duties broader than mine in relation to health. I can tell you this much – the fact that the cabinet has passed a motion to pursue a law to bring this bill in is sign enough for me that I have got huge support from the Taoiseach and the Government.
“For me as a professional, this (smoking) is something that is intolerable. We have to protect our children from it. As adults we make our own decisions, but when you are an adult and you are addicted it is very hard to give them up.”
Dr Reilly said the measure has been so successful in Australia that tobacco companies have had to release statements saying that their cigarettes had not changed in taste as many of its customers were complaining about the taste.
A fierce critic of the tobacco industry, Dr Reilly said the industry needed to replace those who have died from tobacco-related illnesses, one-in-two who smoke, with young people who start smoking.
Dr Reilly said he was certain that the tobacco industry would seek to challenge the plain packaging in the courts.
However, he said such a move would be a measure of their desperation and also of the effectiveness of the measure.
The Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee said the initiative was a huge boost to the illegal tobacco industry, claiming the proposed legislation would make all packs look the same allowing counterfeiters to produce all brands of illegal cigarettes with greater ease.
Dr Reilly countered by stating there was “no research, none” to back up assertions by the tobacco industry that plain packaging would lead to increases in smuggling.
“Let’s call a spade a spade. What would you call a product that kills one in two users? Purveyors of death – I really do feel very strongly about this. I don’t know any smoker who wants their child to smoke. How can we support this industry?”
June 1st is an International Day of Action to Support Bradley Manning. After 3 years imprisonment, his court martial/show trial begins June 3rd.
Details for actions in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney are covered. Planning an action elsewhere? Drop me an email and I’ll pop a flyer and poster together for your event supporting Peace Hero Bradley.
Read Bradley Manning’s full statement to the court here.
Australia’s movement against Coal Seam Gas (fracking) continues to set an inspiring example for environmentalists around the world. This article is from the front page of the Illawarra Mercury, October 21, 2012. The Stop CSG video was posted on the newspaper’s website.(See below)
3000 CSG PROTESTERS SPELL IT OUT
by Glen Humphries
They sat down on the grass at Bulli Showground yesterday to form a human sign that read ‘‘Protect H2O, stop CSG!’’
Stop CSG Illawarra organiser Jess Moore said the protest was sparked by Premier O’Farrell’s backflip on a pre-election promise that, if he were elected, he would ensure that mining would not occur in any catchment area.
‘‘No ifs. No buts. A guarantee,’’ he said at the time.
Since then, Ms Moore said, the government has allowed companies like Apex Energy and Magnum Energy (previously known as Ormil Energy) to drill exploratory boreholes close to the water catchment area, around Darkes Forest and Maddens Plains.
“These are areas so protected that if I walked into them I could be fined up to $44,000, and we have 11 exploration coal seam gas wells approved in that area.
“And we know that the company has a plan for 150 to 200 wells across our drinking water catchment.”
Ms Moore said the group wanted a “commonsense, science-first approach” to coal seam gas.
“It’s absurd in 2012 that we have to take this kind of action to get our government to protect our drinking water,” she said.
It’s the second human sign organised to protest against CSG exploration.
The first was on Austinmer Beach last year.
Included among the protesters was the Duffus family from Tarrawanna, who formed part of the exclamation mark in the human sign.
Father Chris Duffus said they has come because their children, Ella, 9, and Wil, 7, were interested.
AOJ’s Rosanna Barbero presented a very educational talk interspersed with excerpts from videos that thoroughly demonstrated that this capitalist company puts its profits way ahead of the health of individuals and even the health and safety of humanity as a whole. It prompted a very useful and inclusive discussion.
Genetically modified food
Monsanto’s corporate crimes have so far gone unpunished, and its profits have soared, while it continues to destroy our food supply, our health and the planet. Monsanto is well known as the promoter of genetically modified food, which locks farmers into a dead-end dependence on the company, and the world into a dangerous course of patented and hazardous food crops that ultimately threaten the safety of the world’s food production.
The company is also the major financial beneficiary of Agent Orange, the herbicide used to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam for a decade from 1961 to 1971 and destroy the health of millions of Vietnamese and their offspring. Monsanto knew well beforehand, certainly by 1949, after an accident in its plant in Nitro, Virginia, that dioxin, the deadly by-product of Agent Orange production, had terrible health effects, including creating genetic malformations. But it suppressed the knowledge of these results and continued production.
The US military were also well aware of the toxic effects of Agent Orange: “[We] were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the ‘military’ formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the ‘civilian’ version, due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However, because the material was to be used on the ‘enemy’, none of us were overly concerned”, wrote James Clary, a US Air Force scientist in Vietnam.
Monsanto’s profits have been enormous, rising to $6 billion in 2010-11. Aware of the dangerous game it plays with the health of people and the world, and the likelihood of political and legal challenges by its victims, it has set aside a fund of $256 million to fight court battles. Few individuals will be able to match it. It owns many of the capitalist politicians. Indeed, the George Bush administration became known as “the Monsanto administration”. The United Nations had initially taken a position against genetically modified food, but after Monsanto pressure and lobbying, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation eventually came out with the Monsanto line.
Monsanto also spends a chunk of its fabulous profits on PR. It has set up a foundation, with the stated goal of “contributing to food security”, and claims it is “a human rights organisation”.
Monsanto is now the world’s top seed company, controlling a scary 23% of the world’s seeds. (Monsanto plus the next four global seed companies control 85%!) Its genetically modified seed has to be bought each season from Monsanto, and is dependent on using Monsanto’s “GMO ready” Roundup weed killer. It profits both ways. Once in, there’s no escape for the farmers. Monsanto has a special legal department of enforcers, to make sure no one reproduces seeds the natural way, but has to continue getting the patented seed from Monsanto.
As an indicator of how it operates, after the disastrous earthquake in Haiti, Monsanto donated food and seed. The GMO seed spread. People in Haiti have opposed this, with no success so far. Monsanto threatens to dominate Haitian agriculture.
In Malawi, through the World Bank and USAID, Monsanto donated seed, fertiliser and pesticide. Now Malawi is almost totally dependent on Monsanto, giving it a base from which to subvert African agriculture.
Rosanna Barbero explained how Monsanto works with aid agencies, for example World Vision, under the banner of providing livelihood support and “food security”, but actually enforcing dependence. Unfortunately, Monsanto has also targeted Vietnam, the major victim of its Agent Orange production. In 2000 it set up a plant in Vietnam. There has been opposition; farmers opposed the introduction of genetically modified seed, but their voices were not heard. Many Vietnamese are still insisting, however, that they can’t forget the past, the war and Monsanto’s terrible legacy through Agent Orange production.
We can’t ignore Monsanto’s role in the manufacture of Agent Orange and its refusal to accept responsibility for its crimes, and the threat it poses to agriculture on the planet.
Agent Orange Justice
Since its launch six months ago, Agent Orange Justice has had modest but encouraging success. It’s held forums and campaigned at political events. It’s set up a very informative website and a Facebook page Facebook page. Four AOJ members participated in the second international conference organised by the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in Hanoi in August. AOJ member Senator Lee Rhiannon presented a speech to parliament on the issue on November 8 . Trade unions and other organisations have affiliated.
AOJ has ambitious plans to develop the campaign in 2012. Further outreach forums will be held, including speaking at events and meetings of other organisations. In June a major four-day event is being organised, an art exhibition focussing on the issue of Agent Orange. Paintings and cartoons from prominent artists have already been promised. During the exhibition there will be seminars, film showings and photographic and poster displays. Contact AOJ to build or contribute to our events, or to join or affiliate <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
It seems most of us weren’t very impressed with the handwringing of the Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan, who seemed to be suggesting that in one of the instances of his quashed penalty points, that he was enticed into writing a begging letter to the Gardai, all at the behest of a Garda sergeant. But records provided on here this week show that waaaay back in 1822 another Luke Flanagan , also from county Roscommon was sentenced to transportation to Australia for the serious crime of “highway robbery” Seems like 1822 Luke Flanagan also found the whole thing unfair “Convict states that they were prosecuted out if revenge”
via NAMA Wine Lake | Click the green link above for latest news and over 2,400 related articles. NAMA – National Asset Management Agency – part of Ireland’s response to its banking crisis and property bubble.
via NAMA Wine Lake | Click the green link above for latest news and over 2,400 related articles. NAMA – National Asset Management Agency – part of Ireland’s response to its banking crisis and property bubble.
The two and a half minute footage shows the group fighting outside a bar in Lake St, in Northbridge.
The scuffle continued for over two minutes and was interrupted when a police officer arrives on the scene.
A WA police spokesperson told the newspaper that they had received no reports regarding the incident.
This is not the first time antisocial behavior by the Irish in Perth made the headlines.
Last May Australian police have ordered a crackdown on the drunken Irish workers causing chaos in the Western city of Perth.
A police spokesperson said at the time: “It is clear that there are some significant differences in the policing of licensed premises in Australia to those in Ireland,” said Inspector Paul Steel.
“Young people have been warned that if they don’t abide by the law their visas will be investigated and they could face possible deportation.
Even rental agencies are not willing to rent properties to Irish people in Perth as they are getting destroyed during parties and being left in terrible conditions once vacated.
Serco are a big company. They were the ones that captured Julian Assange. They control Greenwich Mean Time and they are growing within Australia.
In recent times, Serco have been awarded the contract to manage the Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, the contract to transport clients within the court system in Western Australia, the contract to provide ‘behind the lines’ support to Australian troops in Afghanistan and the contract to manage immigration detention centres in Australia. They manage the Acacia prison, while they also manage the Borallon correctional facility. They have strong links with the New South Wales government, while they clearly are in favour with Colin Barnett in Western Australia.
Another mega corporation quietly working away in Australia, is McKinsey and Company. McKinsey have been dubbed ‘the ultimate boys club’. That they were Chelsea Clinton’s first employer probably says enough. The National Broadband Network is perhaps the one thing that the Gillard Government hasn’t been pilloried for. Forty per cent of the NBN board driving this roll out is from the McKinsey corporation, who also put together the NBN implementation plan, at a cost of $25 million.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter that these mega corporations so dominate key areas that would once have been solely the domain of the elected Government. Perhaps these successful corporations are more efficient operators, than the slow moving; dead weight carrying, public service that is so pilloried by advocates of a small government.
While I’m not a high flying CEO of a major transnational, I would assume that one of the key goals of a corporation is to make money. Making as much money as possible for the least possible cost. The differential, or profit, would then be announced to all and sundry, causing a rise in share price and dividends paid out to shareholders.
If we observe exhibit ‘A’, the highly secretive contract between the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Serco, we can note that DIAC is providing Serco with $756 million, to effectively manage 7 immigration detention centres. Serco are only required to provide an ‘adequate’ level of staffing. That which is ‘adequate’, may come down to subjective interpretations of what ‘adequacy’ may look like in an immigration detention centre. If staff members at the Christmas Island immigration detention centre, or the Villawood immigration detention centre are to be believed, ‘adequacy’ may mean very few, undertrained, inexperienced staff in charge of facilities holding up to 2,000 frustrated and angry asylum seekers.
The recent hearings of the joint select committee into immigration detention reveal significant frustration from staff members, who feel under resourced and unsupported by their employer. Hiring staff costs money. Training staff costs money. Resourcing and providing ongoing support to staff in demanding roles costs money. All these costs detract from the bottom line.
That these corporations are infiltrating that which was previously managed by the public service should be of concern. Their primary ambition is to make money and that money is coming from tax payers who pay those taxes in good faith, expecting they will be used effectively. Largely due to a swathe of government contracts, Serco Australia recorded a $88.4 million profit in the past financial year. Perhaps if Serco spent an additional $88.4 million on employment in detention centres, riots wouldn’t be occurring, self harm and suicide rates wouldn’t be so alarmingly high, and staff members wouldn’t be developing post traumatic stress syndrome. Instead, they take the profit, appease shareholders and wear the occasional fine. The fall out from this is real. This should be scary.