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Ecuador President Rafael “We Are Not A Colony” Correa Stands Up To The Jackbooted British Gestapo August 17, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Ecuador, Latin America, Media, Sweden.
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opednews.com, August 16, 2012

Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts

A coward dies many deaths; a brave man dies but once.

The once proud British government, now reduced to Washington’s servile whore, put on its Gestapo Jackboots and declared that if the Ecuadorean Embassy in London did not hand over WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, British storm troopers would invade the embassy with military force and drag Assange out. Ecuador stood its ground. “We want to be very clear, we are not a British colony,” declared Ecuador’s Foreign Minister. Far from being intimidated the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, replied to the threat by granting Assange political asylum.

The once law-abiding British government had no shame in announcing that it would violate the Vienna Convention and assault the Ecuadorean Embassy, just as the Islamic students in the 1979 Khomeini Revolution in Iran took over the US Embassy and held the diplomatic staff captive. Pushed by their Washington overlords, the Brits have resorted to the tactics of a pariah state. Maybe we should be worried about British nuclear weapons.

Let’s be clear, Assange is not a fugitive from justice. He has not been charged with any crime in any country. He has not raped any women. There are no indictments pending in any court, and as no charges have been brought against him, there is no validity to the Swedish extradition request. It is not normal for people to be extradited for questioning, especially when, as in Assange’s case, he expressed his complete cooperation with being questioned a second time by Swedish officials in London.

What is this all about? First, according to news reports, Assange was picked up by two celebrity-hunting Swedish women who took him home to their beds. Later for reasons unknown, one complained that he had not used a condom, and the other complained that she had offered one helping, but he had taken two. A Swedish prosecutor looked into the case, found that there was nothing to it, and dismissed the case.

Assange left for England. Then another Swedish prosecutor, a woman, claiming what authority I do not know, reopened the case and issued an extradition order for Assange. This is such an unusual procedure that it worked its way through the entire British court system to the Supreme Court and then back to the Supreme Court on appeal. In the end British “justice” did what the Washington overlord ordered and came down on the side of the strange extradition request.

Assange, realizing that the Swedish government was going to turn him over to Washington to be held in indefinite detention, tortured, and framed as a spy, sought protection from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. As corrupt as the British are, the UK government was unwilling to release Assange directly to Washington. By turning him over to Sweden, the British could feel that their hands were clean.

Sweden, formerly an honorable country like Canada once was where American war resisters could seek asylum, has been suborned and brought under Washington’s thumb. Recently, Swedish diplomats were expelled from Belarus where they seem to have been involved in helping Washington orchestrate a “color revolution” as Washington keeps attempting to extend its bases and puppet states deeper into traditional Russia.

The entire world, including Washington’s servile puppet states, understands that once Assange is in Swedish hands, Washington will deliver an extradition order, with which Sweden, unlike the British, would comply. Regardless, Ecuador understands this. The Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced that Ecuador granted Assange asylum because “there are indications to presume that there could be political persecution.” In the US, Patino acknowledged, Assange would not get a fair trial and could face the death penalty in a trumped-up case.

The US Puppet State of Great (sic) Britain announced that Assange would not be permitted to leave Britain. So much for the British government’s defense of law and human rights. If the British do not invade the Ecuadorean Embassy and drag Assange out dead or in chains, the British position is that Assange will live out his life inside the London Embassy of Ecuador. According to the New York Times, Assange’s asylum leaves him “with protection from arrest only on Ecuadorean territory (which includes the embassy). To leave the embassy for Ecuador, he would need cooperation that Britain has said it will not offer.” When it comes to Washington’s money or behaving honorably in accordance with international law, the British government comes down on the side of money.

The Anglo-American world, which pretends to be the moral face of humanity has now revealed for all to see that under the mask is the face of the Gestapo.

 

 

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, has held numerous university appointments and is Contributing Editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. His columns are at (more…)

 

Imperial Affront: Ecuador Will Face US Wrath for Asylum Decision

(about the author)

opednews.com

It is apparent that the nation of Ecuador will now be in the frame for what American foreign policy elites like to call, in their dainty and delicate language, “the path of action.” Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange on Thursday for one reason only: the very real possibility that he would be “rendered” to the United States for condign punishment, including the possibility of execution.

None of the freedom-loving democracies involved in the negotiations over his fate — Britain, Sweden, and the United States — could guarantee that this would not happen … even though Assange has not been charged with any crime under U.S. law. [And even though the sexual misconduct allegations he faces in Sweden would not be crimes under U.S. or UK law.] Under these circumstances — and after a sudden, blustering threat from Britain to violate the Ecuadorean embassy and seize Assange anyway — the government of Ecuador felt it had no choice but to grant his asylum request.

As we all know, some of America’s top political figures have openly called for Assange to be put to death for the crime of — well, what was his crime, exactly, in American eyes? His crime is this: he published information leaked to him by a whistleblower — exactly as the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, NBC, Fox News, etc., etc., do on a regular basis. Some American leaders and media blowhards have demanded he be executed for “treason,” although, as an Australian citizen, he cannot commit treason against the United States. Others say his leaking of classified documents (none of them remotely as sensitive as, say, the much-celebrated Pentagon Papers from the Vietnam Era) has put “American soldiers in danger” — even though America’s own military and intelligence officials have repeatedly stated that no one has been harmed from the publication of documents on Wikileaks.

No one has been physically harmed, that is. Of course, great harm has been done to the pride of the puffed-up poltroons who strut and preen atop the imperial battlements, thinking themselves the lords of all the earth and the apple of every little peon’s eye. Their crimes and lies and third-rate minds were exposed — in their own words — by Wikileaks: and it is for this that Assange must pay. (And be made an example of to all those who might do likewise.) Our imperial elites (and their innumerable little yapping media sycophants on both sides of the political fence) simply cannot bear to have American power and domination resisted in any way, at any time, for any reason, anywhere, by anyone. It offends their imperial dignity. It undermines their extremely fragile, frightened, frantic egos, which can only be held together by melding themselves to an image of monstrous, implacable, unstoppable power.

It also — and by no means incidentally — threatens to put a slight crimp in their bottom line, for the American system is now thoroughly militarized; the elite depend, absolutely, on war, death, terror and fear to sustain their economic dominance. As the empire’s chief sycophant, Thomas Friedman, once put it: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.” You really can’t put it any plainer than that. The only path to prosperity is through domination by armed force. Others must die, must suffer, must quake in fear, to preserve our comfort. This is Modern American Militarism in a nutshell: the ruling ideology and national religion of American society today.

Anything or anyone who threatens this dominance — or just disagrees with it, or simply wants to be left alone by it — is automatically judged an enemy of the imperial state. You must accept the system. You must get with the program. You cannot question it. The beliefs or religion or ideology of the resister (or perceived resister) do not matter in the slightest. Even the impact (or lack of impact) of the resistance doesn’t matter. It is resistance that it is the crime. It is the refusal to acknowledge the greatness and goodness of the strutters on the battlements, and the legitimacy of their armed domination over the earth, and over you.

It is not enough that you obey; you must be seen to obey. You must obey cheerfully, without complaint — just ask any of thousands and thousands of your fellow citizens who have been tasered or beaten or arrested for failing to show due deference to a police officer or security guard or any of the many other heavily armed figures out there who can stop us, hold us, put us away — or put us down — on the merest whim.

Although Britain is acting as the beard in this case, the government of the Nobel Peace Laureate is clearly driving the action. It is simply inconceivable that Washington will not find ways to punish Ecuador for this act of lèse-majesté. What form it will take remains to be seen (although it could begin with covert backing for Britain’s violation of the Ecuadorean embassy in London). But the fragile, frantic strutters will not let this pass.

***
UPDATE: Just to make it clear, sexual assault is a very serious matter. To say that the accusations now being made against Assange would not constitute a crime under U.S. or UK law is not to diminish the right of all women to be free from sexual assault in any form.

But these concerns have nothing to do with what is being played out in London right now. Assange has not actually been criminally charged with sexual assault, although this claim is repeated unceasingly in stories about the situation. [Including my post above, when I carelessly wrote "charges" in place of "allegations"; now corrected.] He is wanted for questioning in a case involving such allegations; a case which was at first dismissed by a prosecutor then reopened later by a different prosecutor. This prosecutor did not charge Assange with a crime, but wanted to question him further in the process of re-examining whether formal charges are warranted.

Now here is one of the many bizarre turns in this story. Assange was in the UK after the case was re-opened. If the prosecutors wanted to question him, they could have done so at any time, either by coming to London or interviewing him via video hookup. There are ample precedents in European and Swedish law for either course. They refused to do so. (They have also refused Ecuador’s offer to have Assange interrogated in their London embassy.) Assange has also said he would return to Sweden for questioning if the government there would guarantee he would not be extradited to the United States. This was also refused.

Given the fact that Swedish prosecutors have repeatedly turned down opportunities to question Assange about the case — even though they say this is their sole aim — it is not entirely unreasonable to assume, as Assange has done, that there is some other intention behind the process that has led to the standoff we see today. If the primary concern was justice for the two women involved in the allegations, who have had the case hanging over their heads for almost two years, Assange could have been questioned by Swedish authorities at any time during that period, and the process of resolving the case, one way or another, could have moved forward. But this has not been done.

As Assange’s lawyer, Per Samuelson, notes:

“In August 2010, Assange was interviewed by the police for the first time, then released. A month later, the prosecutor requested an additional police interrogation be held, insisting this time that it be done with Assange behind bars. She called for Assange’s arrest, issued a European arrest warrant and ordered that he be deported from the UK. Stockholm district court and the Svea court of appeal upheld her request and arrested Assange in absentia.

“Neither Assange nor I can understand the motivation. Why couldn’t the second police interview be conducted with Assange at liberty? Assange is not a Swedish citizen. He does not reside in Sweden. His work has worldwide impact and he must be able to travel freely to accomplish this. He would happily have presented himself for interrogation and, had the case gone to trial, willingly returned to Sweden to face charges. All this could have been done while he remained at liberty. Had Sweden handled the case in this way, the issue would have been resolved a long time ago.

“Instead, Sweden insists on Assange’s forcible removal to Sweden. Once there, he will immediately be seized by police and put in jail. He will be taken to the detention hearing in handcuffs, and will almost certainly be detained. He will remain in custody for the duration of the proceedings. This is unnecessary. The prosecutor is at liberty to withdraw the arrest warrant and lift the detention order, and a hearing in Sweden could be arranged very quickly. The prosecutor could also arrange a hearing in the UK or at the Swedish embassy in London.”

Again, it seems evident that the Swedish authorities did not want to pursue any of these options, but have instead sought relentlessly to put Assange in a Swedish jail and keep him there. Whatever their motives for this heavy-handed course of action, concern for victims of sexual assault does not seem to be among them.

 

Chris Floyd is an American journalist. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including The Nation, Counterpunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many (more…)

Bush, Rove Tied to Effort to Dismatle Sweden’s Social Welfare Program December 11, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in George W. Bush, Sweden.
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Democracy Now! December 9, 2009

Amy Goodman

Sweden’s three main left-leaning opposition parties have just announced plans to build a coalition for next year’s parliamentary elections. The Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party say collectively they’ll try to wrest power from the Moderate Party, which leads a coalition of center-right groups. We speak with social anthropology professor Brian Palmer.

AMY GOODMAN: Today we’re looking at the politics of Sweden. Its three main left-leaning opposition parties—the Left, the Green and the Social Democrats—have just announced plans to build a coalition for next year’s parliamentary elections. They say they’ll collectively try to wrest power from the Moderate Party, which leads a coalition of center-right groups. The Social Democrats were swept out of office two years ago, after dominating Swedish politics for most of the last seventy-five years.

 

Brian Palmer joins us now, professor of social anthropology at the University of Uppsala in Sweden and a former professor at Harvard University. He joins us here in Sweden.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

BRIAN PALMER: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Brian Palmer, talk about the shift that’s going on in politics here—you’ve written a biography of the current prime minister—and how this fits in with the story we just talked about, the story of Alfred Nobel, both the Peace Prizes and his founding of, really, the weapons industry in this country.

BRIAN PALMER: One can begin by saying that the reasons for Sweden’s reputation as a progressive paradise, the strongest labor movement in the world with 87 percent of workers unionized, creating over many decades the strongest welfare state, the one that on the UN Human Poverty Index has the least poverty in the world. And then, what we’ve seen over the last twenty years, but particularly since the 2006 election, is a move away from all of that.

We have a prime minister who in the 1990s wrote a book, The Sleeping People, where he said that the welfare state should only prevent starvation, nothing beyond that, no other standard should be guaranteed. After being elected, Fredrik Reinfeldt, one of his first major visits abroad was to George Bush in the White House, this in spite of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, a visit that many people thought shouldn’t have happened, his coalition then getting—bringing over Karl Rove for advice and support—Karl Rove, the architect of President Bush’s electoral victories.

AMY GOODMAN: They brought Karl Rove here?

BRIAN PALMER: This past summer.

AMY GOODMAN: Because?

BRIAN PALMER: Because he can offer good advice on how to win the 2010 election. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Is this unusual for Karl Rove to do this kind of international consulting?

BRIAN PALMER: According to his website, it’s his only foreign consulting, for the Moderate Party of Sweden.

AMY GOODMAN: Wasn’t the current prime minister visiting Bush in the White House?

BRIAN PALMER: Yeah, and there was much—many people writing that this shouldn’t happen. He justified the visit, that he would persuade Bush to sign the Kyoto Accord, but people who were there say that he didn’t even really attempt that.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about his politics, the prime minister, and how, after seventy-five years of the Social Democrats ruling—fit it into US politics, how you’d categorize what we’re talking about here, the spectrum.

BRIAN PALMER: The first piece to notice is really in the electoral campaign, when he tried very hard to appeal to working-class voters, described his party as the new workers’ party. And after one speech, he was asked by a journalist if it wasn’t a speech inspired by Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.” And he answered that it was, to some degree. Bush was so successful at winning the white working class, especially in 2004, where white working-class voters favored him by 23 percent. Reinfeldt brought over only a small percent of working-class voters to his coalition, but enough to tip the balance.

And then, we have a real kind of silent war on the labor movement, where it’s been made much more expensive to be part of a union, where the legal prerogatives of unions have been made much less. We have a rather dramatic change in the tax system, abolishing the inheritance tax and property tax—most property taxes, cutbacks in social welfare institutions, some changes that will be very hard for future regimes to undo.

AMY GOODMAN: Can talk more about the starvation index, the measure that the prime minister here has laid out?

BRIAN PALMER: That was in his book, The Sleeping People, from 1993, where he wrote—I quote—“We do not want to see a society where people starve, but beyond that, no particular standard should be guaranteed by tax money.” And then he was asked on television after the book’s publication what he meant by that, and he said the boundary for social support should be the starvation boundary. That’s, of course, not his policy now, but it shows the danger of electing someone who is a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher to the highest post in the land.

AMY GOODMAN: I’ve been very interested in the social welfare system here, as the United States deals with greater unemployment, the crisis of healthcare. You have a social welfare system where healthcare is free in Sweden. And yet, you’re seeing increasingly private hospitals and private insurance?

BRIAN PALMER: Yeah, many small changes to, in some way, make it harder for the general welfare state to function—for example, creating—allowing the creation of a private children’s hospital in Stockholm only for paying customers and people with—

AMY GOODMAN: “Paying,” as opposed to “pain,” customers?

BRIAN PALMER: “Paying,” yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Paying customers in pain.

BRIAN PALMER: Indeed, who will pay the full cost of their children’s care, or people who have private insurance to do that. What this will do is start to create this kind of thing, will start to create groups of middle-class people who no longer have such a stake in the general welfare system, because they feel, well, I’m buying it anyway privately, and that will gradually erode middle-class support for the general welfare system that up to now has had very high levels of support from the middle class.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the health insurance companies that are coming in?

BRIAN PALMER: They are very, very eager for this business. And it’s a tremendous irony that, just at a moment when Americans, some of them discussing Michael Moore’s film Sicko, see the very unethical behavior of different kinds of health insurance and health management companies, many of those same companies are getting the opportunity to buy pieces of Swedish healthcare clinics, parts of hospitals—according to a new law, even entire university hospitals can be sold out to private companies—so that as Americans have mostly become skeptical of these companies, they’re being invited to Sweden to do damage here.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Brian Palmer, the issue of the left parties, or at least the left-of-center parties, now challenging the right in this country, the current government, what is the significance of the Social Democrats, and what is the Left Party joining with the Green Party, in this?

BRIAN PALMER: The Social Democrats are the largest opposition party now. The Left Party’s smaller, an ecological-, feminist-oriented labor party, and they have been excluded from previous coalitions. They’ve tacitly supported them, but not allowed—not been allowed to have minister roles. Now, for the first time, as of two days ago, the Social Democrats have accepted that the Left Party and the Green Party would be part of their coalition government—

AMY GOODMAN: Ruling coalition.

BRIAN PALMER: —if they win in the 2010 election.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, as people can hear from your accent, you are an American, a citizen who is now a Swedish citizen. You taught at Harvard and have an interesting story to tell about someone who’s become a significant national figure now, Larry Summers, who is the former president of Harvard. In your class in 2004, you invited him to your class to address the class and to answer questions from the students. Tell us what class you taught. This was the most popular class at Harvard, elective class at Harvard. You had 600 students in the class. You won the—was it the Livingston Prize?

BRIAN PALMER: Levinson.

AMY GOODMAN: Levinson Prize for teaching. But you ended up having to leave in 2004, shortly after your encounter with Larry Summers—

BRIAN PALMER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —who’s now going to become, if—the chief economic adviser to Barack Obama.

BRIAN PALMER: Larry Summers was then Harvard’s president, and the 600 students and I invited him to be interviewed by us. And I think that in the environments in which he traveled, he wasn’t—

AMY GOODMAN: The name of your class?

BRIAN PALMER: Personal choice and global transformation—that he wasn’t used to getting very probing questions. For example, one student asked President Summers, “As a champion of meritocracy, how can you defend Harvard’s policies of giving an edge in admissions to the children of alumni?” And he became so irritated by these questions that he really fell into quite a bad mood and began to declare to the class that my ideas were “silly,” as he put it. And this was the souring of our relationship.

AMY GOODMAN: Your contract was not renewed?

BRIAN PALMER: No, no.

AMY GOODMAN: Despite the fact that you had the most popular elective class at Harvard.

BRIAN PALMER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And had won the teaching prize.

BRIAN PALMER: But as a consolation, I got to move to Sweden, which has its plus sides.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Professor Brian Palmer—

BRIAN PALMER: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: —teaches at University of—how do you pronounce it?

BRIAN PALMER: Uppsala.

AMY GOODMAN: Uppsala, here in Sweden. He’s a professor of social anthropology.

A Tale of Two Nobel Nations December 10, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Europe, Sweden, Uncategorized.
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Posted on Dec 9, 2008, www.truthdig.com

By Amy Goodman

STOCKHOLM, Sweden—The days are short here in Stockholm, which is so far north that winter daylight is limited to about four hours a day. But the city is buzzing with visitors, media and activities, for the Nobel prizes are being given this week. While the Nobels recognize lifetime achievements in medicine, chemistry, physics, literature, economics and peace, and Sweden is a paragon among progressive, social democracies, there is another side to Sweden and the Nobels that warrants a closer look.

Alfred Nobel made a fortune as an inventor, principally for his invention of dynamite. He died in 1896, leaving most of his fortune to endow the Nobel prizes. Nobel lived in a time when European rivalries and wars were the norm. He believed the destructive power of his inventions could promote peace. He wrote to his lifelong friend, peace activist Bertha von Suttner, who would win the Nobel Peace Prize almost a decade after his death, “Perhaps my factories will put an end to war even sooner than your Congresses; on the day when two army corps will be able to annihilate each other in a second, all civilised nations will recoil with horror and disband their troops.”

If only. Now countries can destroy each other many times over, but instead of recoiling in horror, they just continue buying ever more destructive weapons, ironically making Sweden one of the world leaders, per capita, in weapons exports. Nobel turned Swedish munitions into a stable, multinational enterprise. In 1894, he acquired the weapons company Bofors, now a subsidiary of the weapons maker BAE Systems. While the world’s eyes are on the Nobel Prize winners, several Swedes are facing prison time for taking direct action against Bofors.

Cattis Laska is a member of the anti-war groups Ofog and Avrusta, Swedish for mischief and disarm. She told me about their protests against the Swedish weapons industry: “We went into two weapon factories the same night. Two went into Saab Bofors Dynamics (while General Motors bought Saab’s auto division, Saab in Sweden makes weapons) … and they disarmed about 20 [grenade launchers] … to prevent them from being used in wars. They did it by using a hammer. There’s very much details in those launchers, so they have to be perfect. So it’s enough just to scrape inside to disable them. And then, me and another person went into the BAE Systems Bofors factory, where we disabled some parts for howitzers going to India. We also used hammers.” Like the Plowshares activists in the United States, they follow the biblical prescription from Isaiah 2:4, turning “swords into plowshares.”

Annika Spalde also participated in the actions: “We sell weapons to countries at war and to countries who seriously violate human rights, and still these sales just grow bigger and bigger, so we feel that we, as ordinary citizens, have a responsibility to act then and to physically try to stop these weapons from being shipped off.” Spalde is awaiting trial. Laska has been sentenced to three months in prison.

Traditional Swedish politics also are in flux. Brian Palmer is an American, a former Harvard lecturer, who has immigrated to Sweden and become a Swedish citizen. Palmer has penned a biography of Sweden’s prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt. Palmer credits Reinfeldt, 43, with leading the shift away from the progressive social policies for which Sweden has become world-famous. He said Reinfeldt, in 1993, “wrote a book, ‘The Sleeping People,’ where he said that the welfare state should only prevent starvation, nothing beyond that. After being elected … one of his first major visits abroad was to George Bush in the White House.”

Reinfeldt and his Moderate Party hired Karl Rove as a political consultant to help with the election coming in 2010. Palmer went on: “We have a real kind of silent war on the labor movement. We have a rather dramatic change in the tax system, abolishing the inheritance tax and most property taxes, cutbacks in social-welfare institutions.” This week, a new coalition of center-left political parties formed to challenge this rightward drift.

The U.S. electorate has thoroughly rebuked the Bush administration, handing Barack Obama and the Democrats a mandate for change on issues of war and health care, among others. One of the world’s leading laboratories for innovative social policies, Sweden is now wrestling with its own future. Those seeking change in the U.S. would be wise to watch Sweden, beyond Nobel week.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

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