Sex, Lies and Julian Assange

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange

Four Corners – Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2013)

Film Review

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange provides a detailed timeline of his 2010 visit to Sweden. It casts serious doubt on the sexual assault allegations against him.

Aug 11, 2010 – Assange arrives in Stockholm with traveling companion Sofia Wilen. The primary purpose of his visit is to negotiate with the Pirate Party for Wikileaks to use their Internet server, located inside a former nuclear bunker to discourage hacking. Anna Ardin, one of his accusers, plans to be away and offers him the use of her apartment.

Aug 13, 2010 – Ardin arrives home a few days early and has consensual intercourse with Assange. They both acknowledge using a condom which broke. Ardin subsequently claimed Assange both pinned her down and deliberately broke the condom.

Aug 14, 2010 – They participate in a public forum together and Ardin organizes a crayfish party for Assange – during which she tweets about being with “the coolest people in the world.” A friend offers Assange alternative accommodation, but Ardin wants him to reman at her apartment.

Aug 15, 2010 Ardin and Assange attend a dinner party together organized by the Pirate Party.

Aug 16, 2010 Assange, with Ardin’s knowledge, travels to a nearby village to have sex with Sofia Walen.*

Aug 17, 2010 He returns to stay with Ardin at her apartment.

Aug 20, 2010 Wilen phones Ardin about Assange’s failure to use a condom and having sex with her when she was half asleep. Ardin and Wilen visit the police together to inquire whether Assange can be forced to undergo testing for STVs. When she learns the police plan to charge Assange with sexual assault, Wilen refuses to sign her statement, claiming she’s been railroaded. The prosecutor leaks the charges to the Swedish tabloid media without notifying Assange of the charges.

Aug 21, 2010 Assange presents to Swedish police for questioning, and a senior Swedish prosecutor withdraws the rape charge but maintains the molestation charge. Assange decides to remain in Sweden to prove his innocence.

Sept 15, 2010 After repeated offers to make Assange available for further questioning, his lawyer is informed there is no arrest warrant against him and he is free to leave Sweden.

Nov 28, 2010 Assange leaks the first of 250,000 embarrassing (classified) cables exposing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nov 30 2010 At Sweden’s request, Interpol issues a Red Notice for Assange’s arrest

May 2012 After losing his Supreme Court appeal against extradition to Sweden (which he and his lawyers fear will extradite him to the US to potentially face torture and the death penalty), Assange is informed the 14 days granted for his appeal to the European Court has been reduced to 0. He’s seeks, and receives, asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy – based on their fear that his human rights may be violated.

The film makes no reference to Ardin’s past history of involvement with a CIA-linked anti-Cuban group (see Raw Story)

It also makes no mention of the possible role of George Bush’s dirty tricks guru Karl Rove, long time advisor to Swedish Prime Minister Frederic Reinfeldt, in the Swedish decision to prosecute Assange (see Shadow Proof)

Presumably this will all come out at Assange’s extradition trial.


*During Assange’s visit to Wilen, Ardin tweets:  “He’s not here. He’s planned to have sex with the cashmere girl every evening, but not made it. Maybe he finally found time yesterday?”  See Everything Points to Assange’s Accuser Being a CIA-Directed Liar

 

If It’s Free, You’re the Product

Digital Dissidents Part 2

Al Jazeera (2016)

Film Review

“If It’s Free You’re the Product”

In Part 2, Digital Dissidents reminds us that Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple daily collect and “monetize” (ie sell) millions of data points about us (including records of financial transactions).

The documentary also features rare commentary by Julian Assange on Sweden’s attempts* to charge him with sexual assault. These charges mysteriously surfaced exactly two weeks after Anonymous hacker Jeremy Hammonds released hacked emails between intelligence contractor Stratfor and the US government about potential charges against Assange under the 2017 Espionage Act. Was this mere coincidence? It seems unlikely.

NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and William Binney also talk candidly about the devastating effects of whistleblowing on their personal lives. His career in software systems management ruined, Drake presently clerks in an Apple retail outlet.

Binney, who refers to the NSA as “the Stasi** on super steroids, calls for the total dissolution of NSA. He maintains it has too much power to be reformed.


*Sweden dropped the sexual assault charges against Assange in Sept 2017. As Assange points out in the film, neither woman filed a police complaint and one accuses the police of inventing the crimes she supposedly accused him of.

**As the intelligence/security service for the former East German Republic, the Stasi was one of the most viciously repressive secret police agencies ever.

The video, which can’t be embedded for copyright reasons, can be viewed for free at the Al Jazeera website: Digital Dissidents

Hidden History: Jewish Terrorism and the Creation of the State of Israel

Killing the Count – Part 1 The White Buses

Al Jazeera (2014)

Film Review

Killing the Count is a two-part documentary about the 1949 assassination of UN mediator Foulke Bernodotte. Part 1 covers Swedish baron Bernodotte’s daring rescue of 30,000 concentration camp victims during the final year of World War II. Of the 30,000, 10,000 were Jews and 20,000 were Scandinavian resistance fighters arrested following the Nazi occupation of Norway and Denmark.

On learning of Hitler’s order to exterminate all concentration camp prisoners when it became clear Germany would lose the war, Bernadotte used his friendship with Himler’s personal physician to arrange a meeting with the SS leader responsible for running the camps.

Bernadotte, an exceedingly shrewd negotiator, persuaded Himler to allow the Swedish Red Cross to move Scandinavian prisoners from Germany’s interior to Neuengame, a concentration camp close to the Danish Border.

The Swedish Red Cross had a detailed list of all the Scandinavian prisoners detained in German camps. In part owing to Sweden’s strong Nazi leanings,* their Red Cross had been  to deliver food parcels provided they were personally addressed to individual prisoners.

By the time Bernadotte successfully organized a convoy of buses to transport 10,000 Scandinavian prisoners to Neungame, Allied troops had crossed the German border and most SS members had deserted. Because there were no Nazis to stop him, Bernadotte now used his buses to evacuate the Scandinavian prisoners and as many Jewish prisoners as he could rescue from Neungame and the women’s and children’s concentration camp Ravensbrook. He was subsequently honored by a number of Jewish organizations for his effort.

In 1948 the UN Security Council would him to negotiate a settlement in the Jewish-Palestinian war in Palestine.


*Although technically a “neutral” country, the Swedish monarch provided the Third Reich with iron exports critical for their armaments industry, as well as allowing Hitler’s Navy to cross their territorial waters and his bombers to cross their air space.

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2014/06/killing-count-20146282143931887.html

 

 

 

Biological Warfare: The US Germ Warfare Attack on North Korea in 1952

Dirty Little Secrets

Al Jazeera (2010)

Film Review

Dirty Little Secrets is about an apparent biological warfare attack against North Korea in January 1952. The attack involved US bombardment of North Korean villages with canisters containing insects infected with typhoid, anthrax, plague and cholera. At least 30 witnesses report seeing insects crawling in the snow next to hollow bomb canisters. Following the attack, many North Koreans died of infectious illnesses that resembled plague and typhoid fever.

The US categorically denies the attack ever happened. North Korea, in turn, insists the US must acknowledge and apologize for this war crime before it agrees to nuclear disarmament.

The evidence compiled by an independent Japanese investigator is pretty damning:

  • Thirty-six US airmen who were shot down and captured, wrote detailed confessions admitting to their participation in the attacks. On their return to the US, they retracted the confessions after being threatened with court martial.
  • Declassified documents from the National Archives reveal the US shielded Shiro Ishii, the Japanese scientist who perfected this method of germ warfare, from war crimes charges after he agreed to sell his secrets to the US.
  • Other declassified documents reveal that in 1947 Fort Dietrick scientists expanded on Ishii’s work using flees and mosquitoes.
  • In 1951 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff issued an order calling for testing germ war fare under “operational warfare.”
  • An independent international commission (including scientists from France, Italy, Brazil, Sweden, Russia and the UK) investigated after the Korean War ended and produced a 600 page report confirming the attack occurred.

The Telegraph also features an excellent article on the same topic from 2010: Did the US Wage Germ Warfare in Korea

 

Russian Sami Organize to Fight Mining Operations

Russia’s Tundra Tale

Al Jazeera (2015)

Film Review

Free link: Russia’s Tundra Tale

This documentary concerns the battle of the indigenous Sami people of Russia’s Kola Peninsula to protect their Arctic homeland against encroachment by mining companies. The mining operations (fossil fuels, platinum, gold and aluminum) are destroying the pasture of the reindeer herds the Sami depend on for their livelihood. Unable to support their families, many have abandoned the tundra for Russian cities. Those who stayed are  organizing to preserve their collectively owned land.

Most of the political organizing is done by Sami women. To counter the Russian government, which tends to support the mining interests, the Sami have set up their own parliament in Murmansk. Sami women are also working to strengthen community solidarity in their villages.

One parliament member, a Sami woman named Sascha, is shown meeting with a potential reindeer farm more financially viable. Filmmakers also follow her to Norway, where she meets with Sami activists who employ direct action (eg a hunger strike in front of the Norwegian parliament) to force concessions from Norway’s mining industry. Linking up with Sami activists in Norway, Finland and Sweden has greatly enhanced the strengthen of Russia’s Sami movement.

Steal This Film

Steal This Film – Trial Edition

League of Noble Peers (2006)

Film Review

Steal This Film is the prequel to TPB-AFK (see Pirate Bay, Wikileaks and the Swedish Pirate Party), the documentary about Sweden’s prosecution of the four Pirate Bay founders.

It goes much deeper into the ideological values behind Pirate Bay, whose activities its creators view as civil disobedience aimed against Swedish (and American) copyright laws.

The Pirate Bay (TPB) founders and their supporters (including members of the Swedish Pirate Party and the late Aaron Swartz – see The Mystery of Aaron Swartz’s Alleged Suicide) argue that the Motion Picture Association (MPAA), the powerful US lobby that forced Sweden to prosecute Pirate Bay, experienced minimal economic damage from Pirate Bay users sharing free copies of their films. In the their view, the main financial damage to the film industry, music industry and print and electronic stems from the Internet allowing millions of ordinary people to become creators of video, music and the written word. They feel that file sharing is one the best ways to fight archaic copyright laws, which limit creativity and control of information to a handful of elites for their own profit and political control.

They argue it’s virtually impossible to end file sharing owing to its extremely decentralized nature. Every time a big file sharing site like Knapster, Pirate Bay or Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload (see Kim Dotcom and America’s Diabolic Intellectual Property Laws) is shut down, thousands of new ones spring up to take their place.

The documentary also explores historical precedents going back thousands of years where ruling elites have sought to suppress information exchange and creativity. Following the invention of the printing press, France enacted strict censorship laws on printers, publishers and booksellers. This would lead to a dedicated publishing industry in bordering countries that made a fortune by smuggling banned titles to eager French readers.

They point out the MPAA also filed numerous court actions against the first video recorder and MP3 player manufacturers.

Although the Swedish government was extremely reluctant to take action against TPB (and violate Sweden’s guaranteed right to public access), the powerful MPAA put pressure on the US State Department. They, in turn, threatened Sweden with WTO sanctions for failing to uphold “intellectual property” rights. After the MPAA hired their own private investigator to locate TPB’s server and its four founders.

The film TPB-AFK (see link above) covers the trial, in which all four men were found guilty of “accessory to crime against copyright law.” They each served eight to nine months in jail – the last, Fredrik Neij, was released in 2015

Membership in Sweden’s Pirate Party swelled on the back of the TPB case. Countries all over the world have formed Pirate Party – in 2015 Iceland’s Pirate Party would win 16 seats in parliament. The first US Pirate Party was formed in Atlanta in 2006.

Northwest Passage: Nations Already Squabbling over Ice-Free Arctic

Inside Story – How Will the Northwest Passage Influence Global Trade and Economy

Al Jazeera (2016)

Film Review

This Al Jazeera documentary is about the melting of the Arctic ice cap and its effect on international trade. Shipping through the Northwest Passage, which is still limited to summer months, first began in 2008. By 2025, the Arctic is predicted to be ice free every summer. China, the world’s largest exporter, has a particular interest in the Northwest Passage, as it reduces shipping times to Europe and North America by 30%.

Canada, claiming the Northwest Passage as territorial waters, is challenging China’s right to access this trade route. Thus far, the US is siding with China, asserting the Arctic Ocean is an international waterway. At present Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Iceland and Canada have claims over the Arctic Circle under the UN Law of the Sea treaty. Owing to the US refusal to ratify the treaty, Alaska (eg the US) has no claim to this waterway.

In addition to the Northwest Passage, there is a second passage north of Russia and Norway called the Northern Sea Route. The Polar Code goes into effect next year, with mandatory structural requirements for ships traversing the Arctic Circle.

A Documentary About Begging

Begging for Life

Al Jazeera (2015)

Film Review

Begging for Life is an Al Jazeera documentary contrasting begging in Manila (Philippines) and Malmo (Sweden).

The segment on Manila, where begging is illegal but tolerated, the beggars are children. Many are parentless and homeless. Except during global conferences, such as APEC, when police arrest them and lock them up.

The Swedish beggars profiled are Roma* migrants unable to find work in Eastern Europe. Many of the women are single mothers who send the money they earn begging home to family members caring for their children.

Although begging is technically legal in Sweden, the Roma migrants face ruthless harassment by local authorities.


*Roma refers to people of Romani ethnicity. English-speaking people commonly refer to them by the ethnic slur “gypsy.”

The History of Wikileaks

WikiRebels

Directed by Bosse Lindquist, Jesper Huor (2010)

Film Review

WikiRebels is a documentary about the history of Wikileaks. It traces Julian Assange’s early history from his first arrest for computer hacking at 21. A short time later, posting a secret Church of Scientology manual on-line would lead to a run-in with with a private investigator they hired to track him down in Australia.

Convinced that disclosure of government corruption could serve as a preventative against abuse of power, he and a global network of hactivists registered Leak.com in 1999. Inspired by the collaborative nature of Wikipedia, they changed their name to Wikileaks in 2006. Their goal was to publish evidence of government criminality while simultaneously guaranteeing whistleblowers absolute anonymity.

Some of Wikileaks’s earliest disclosures include the Kenyan president who was embezzling funds and organizing death patrols to target political opponents; the private company dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast; email messages from the private account Sarah Palin used to conduct government business; and lists of websites being censored by China, Thailand and Iran.

Enter Bradley Manning

In early 2010, Private Bradley Manning leaked over 100,000 classified military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks.  These files provide an hour by hour chronicle of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including details of casualties (on both sides) that the Bush and Obama administration had deliberately concealed.

Recognizing he had no way of releasing such a massive amount of data in in a meaningful way, Assange shared the leaked documents with the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, in the hope of widely publicizing them.

The most famous file Manning released is the July 12, 2007 “Collateral Murder File” showing US attack helicopter personnel deliberately firing on unarmed civilians in Baghdad.

US Government Retaliation

The US government instantly retaliated against Assange by leaning on Visa, Mastercard and PayPal to discontinue payment services on the Wikileaks website. This was in addition to threats made in Congress to either assassinate him or kidnap him and try him for espionage.

In August 2010, Assange receives a rock star welcome in Sweden when he arrives for a speaking tour. Within days, he finds himself accused of sexual assault. After comparing notes, two female fans approached Swedish police about compelling him to have an HIV test. After bringing him in for questioning, the police release him without charge.

Filmed in 2010, the documentary ends here – before Assange leaves Sweden for England, a second prosecutor reinstates the charges, a British court orders his extradition to Sweden and he seeks sanctuary in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy. Assange fears, as do his supporters, that the Swedish authorities will extradite him to the US, which has laid the groundwork to try (and execute) him on espionage charges.

According to Mother Jones, the sexual assault charges are extremely murky, especially since the woman he’s accused of raping has asked to have the charges dropped. Assange denies forcing either woman to have sex with him. In both cases, the actual accusation is that he had sex without a condom. In one instance, the condom broke. In the other, after having sexual intercourse with a condom, he allegedly initiated intercourse a second time while the woman was half asleep and refused to put on a condom.

In Sweden, the official term is “withdrawal of consent.” Without knowing all the facts, it’s impossible to ascertain, it’s impossible to ascertain whether one or both women did, in fact, withdraw consent.

However the timing of the charges, the fact that one woman has CIA links and the possible role Republican puppet master Karl Rove (a long time adviser to Swedish Swedish Prime Minister Fredric Reinfeldt) Karl Rove played in the affair all suggest Assange may have been framed.

Recently it was announced  that the Swedish prosecutor has finally agreed to come to London to question Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

 

The 1% at Their Finest

The Super Rich and US

BBC (2015)

Film Review

The Super Rich and Us features casual cameos of British billionaires openly displaying their narcissistic indulgence in trophy assets. There is also a brief appearance by economist and author Thomas Piketty (Capital in the Twenty-First Century). The goal of the documentary is twofold: to debunk trickle down theory and to critique government policies that have made Britain one of the most unequal nations on the planet.

The filmmakers maintain that Britain’s top 1% generates and consumes all the so-called growth the UK has experienced over the last five years. None of it derives from increased investment, job growth, wages or productivity.

The British 1% has doubled their income between 1980 and 2015, while income for everyone else has stagnated or declined. Likewise the Conservative government’s 80 billion pounds in austerity cuts is roughly equal to the bonuses banks paid out to CEOs.

Why Britain Has the Most Billionaires

The UK has more billionaires per head (104) than any other country. This stems largely from a policy decision to compensate for factories moving overseas by making the country a tax haven for rich colonials seeking to avoid taxes in their own country – under the delusional belief it would make everyone else richer.

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher significantly reduced taxes on Britain’s native millionaires and billionaires. She argued, as Reagan did in the US, that taxing the rich made society poorer. These policies, which have changed little over thirty years, have made Britain the world’s favorite tax haven, as international pressure forces other traditional tax havens (Switzerland, Luxemburg, Cayman Islands, etc) to shut up shop.

Trickle Up vs Trickle Down

Thanks to the wholesale repeal of banking and corporate regulations, none of this surplus wealth trickled down to the rest of the population the way Thatcher claimed it would. Instead the super rich have been sucking up shrinking lower and middle classes resources into their vast reservoir of private wealth. The main reason trickle down doesn’t work is that the 1% spends their surplus wealth on diamond jewelry, yachts, sports cars and other luxury goods that generate income for only a handful (if any – most of these goods are imported) of working people.

The film contrasts British tax policies with those of Sweden and Denmark, which the rich pay a fair share of taxes. Not only do both have GDPs equal to or higher than the UK’s, with numbers that reflect genuine improvement in productivity and job and wage growth. When polled, eighty-eight percent of Danish people are perfectly happy with their tax rate because they see it reflected in generous government services.