“This site is dedicated to preying on peoples vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.”

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jesus and the bankers. “Then Jesus went into the Temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the Temple, and overturned the moneychangers’ tables and the chairs of those who sold doves." Did that get him killed?




“21:12-17 Christ found some of the courts of the temple turned into a market for cattle and things used in the sacrifices, and partly occupied by the money-changers. Our Lord drove them from the place, as he had done at his entering upon his ministry, Joh 2:13-17. His works testified of him more than the hosannas; and his healing in the temple was the fulfilling the promise, that the glory of the latter house should be greater than the glory of the former. If Christ came now into many parts of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover and cleanse! And how many things daily practised under the cloak of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of thieves than to a house of prayer!”

How could a country that once celebrated Easter and all the traditions surrounding it be the same country that now renounces the basic tenet of all human society, the marriage between one man and one woman? If the fundamental definition of marriage can be distorted beyond the recognition of what existed just a generation ago, what other fundamental belief is capable of withstanding a concerted assault?

The answer is none. The society and the country that you swore allegiance to since you were a child has gone. The temple of your fathers has been occupied.

Where is a Jesus when we need him?

I am not arguing for a society that neither changes nor forces its will and beliefs on others but there are limits. At a point you do cross the Rubicon.

Happy Easter.

This column by Pat Buchanan is apt:

____________________


IS AMERICA STILL A GOOD COUNTRY?
By: Patrick J. Buchanan
3/29/2013 07:23 AM

“Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
So wrote Alexis de Tocqueville.
Yet, judged by the standards of those old “pulpits aflame with righteousness,” is America still a good country?
Consider the cases taken up this week by the Supreme Court.
In one, the court is asked to rule on California’s Proposition 8, where voters declared marriage to be solely between a man and a woman. In the second, the court is asked to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids federal support for same-sex marriages.
Whatever their beliefs, the justices, one trusts, will leave this to the states and people. For Roe v. Wade, where seven justices found the right to an abortion lurking in the penumbras of the Ninth Amendment, poisons our politics to this day. We don’t need a re-enactment of that civil war.
Still, what America decides about same-sex marriage will reveal much about what this generation believes to be a moral society.
Traditionalist America has always held homosexuality to be unnatural and immoral, ruinous to body and soul alike, and where prevalent — as in Weimar Germany — the mark of a sick society.
This belief outrages millions. Yet it is as old as mankind and was held universally in the Christian West until this century. Moreover, it is grounded in biblical truth, tradition, natural law and Catholic doctrine.

Before 1973, the American Psychiatric Association regarded homosexuality as a mental disorder. Most states treated it as a crime.
The new morality argues thus:
For a significant slice of the population, homosexuality is natural and normal. They were born this way. And to deny homosexuals the freedom to engage in consensual sexual relations, or the right to marry, is bigotry as odious as was discrimination against black Americans.
Yet, though gospel to many, this belief has only the most shallow of religious, moral and philosophical roots. It seems grounded in a post-1960s ideology that holds that all freely chosen life-styles are equal, and to discriminate against any is the true social sin.

Needless to say, the traditional morality and the new morality are irreconcilable.
But if the new morality — that homosexuality is normal and same-sex marriage morally equal to traditional marriage — is true and valid, Frank Kameny was a prophet and Christianity is indictable for 2,000 years of ostracism, persecution and suffering imposed on homosexuals.

Or perhaps we believe that moral truth evolves — that, for example, adultery may be immoral for one generation, but not so for the next.
The issue here goes beyond what the court decides.
For even should the advocates of same-sex marriage prevail, their victory will not be accepted by believers in the traditional morality, but simply be seen as but another step in America’s descent down a slippery slope to hell.
Indeed, for millions of Americans, this society — which has eradicated Christianity from its pubic institutions and enshrined secularism in its place, which considers abortion a woman’s right, which is blase about 53 million unborn children destroyed since Roe, which puts homosexual liaisons on the same moral plane as matrimony — is a society that has lost its moral bearings and is rapidly losing its mind.
Which raises a serious separate issue.
If we Americans cannot even agree on what is right and wrong and moral and immoral, how do we stay together in one national family? If one half of the nation sees the other as morally depraved, while the latter sees the former as saturated in bigotry, sexism and homophobia, how do we remain one united nation and one people?
Today, half of America thinks the country some of us grew up in was bigoted, racist, homophobic and sexist, while the other half sees this morally “evolving” nation as a society openly inviting the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah and that is hardly worth preserving.
A common faith and moral code once held this country together. But if we no longer stand on the same moral ground, after we have made a conscious decision to become the most racially, ethnically, culturally diverse people on earth, what in the world holds us together?
The Constitution, the Bill of Rights?
How can they, when we bitterly disagree on what they say?
By throwing out the old morality and embracing a new morality on abortion and same-sex marriage, America tossed her sheet anchor into the sea. And from the turbulent waters we have entered — our illegitimacy rate is above 40 percent, and no Western nation has a birth rate that will keep its native-born alive in anything like the present numbers — America and the West may have set sail on a voyage from which there is no return.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cyprus Cramdowns on depositors: Depositors in Bank of Cyprus will get shares in the bank worth 37.5 percent of their deposits over 100,000 euros, the source told Reuters, while the rest of their deposits may never be paid back.



Big depositors in Cyprus to lose far more than feared

By Michele Kambas
NICOSIA | Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:16pm ED

(Reuters) - Big depositors in Cyprus's largest bank stand to lose far more than initially feared under a European Union rescue package to save the island from bankruptcy, a source with direct knowledge of the terms said on Friday.
Under conditions expected to be announced on Saturday, depositors in Bank of Cyprus will get shares in the bank worth 37.5 percent of their deposits over 100,000 euros, the source told Reuters, while the rest of their deposits may never be paid back.

The toughening of the terms will send a clear signal that the bailout means the end of Cyprus as a hub for offshore finance and could accelerate economic decline on the island and bring steeper job losses.
Officials had previously spoken of a loss to big depositors of 30 to 40 percent.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday defended the 10-billion euro ($13 billion) bailout deal agreed with the EU five days ago, saying it had contained the risk of national bankruptcy.
"We have no intention of leaving the euro," the conservative leader told a conference of civil servants in the capital, Nicosia.
"In no way will we experiment with the future of our country," he said.
Cypriots, however, are angry at the price attached to the rescue - the winding down of the island's second-largest bank, Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki, and an unprecedented raid on deposits over 100,000 euros.
Under the terms of the deal, the assets of Laiki bank will be transferred to Bank of Cyprus.
At Bank of Cyprus, about 22.5 percent of deposits over 100,000 euros will attract no interest, the source said. The remaining 40 percent will continue to attract interest, but will not be repaid unless the bank does well.
Those with deposits under 100,000 euros will continue to be protected under the state's deposit guarantee.
Cyprus's difficulties have sent jitters around the fragile single European currency zone, and led to the imposition of capital controls in Cyprus to prevent a run on banks by worried Cypriots and wealthy foreign depositors.
"CYPRUS EURO"
Banks reopened on Thursday after an almost two-week shutdown as Cyprus negotiated the rescue package. In the end, the reopening was largely quiet, with Cypriots queuing calmly for the 300 euros they were permitted to withdraw daily.
The imposition of capital controls has led economists to warn that a second-class "Cyprus euro" could emerge, with funds trapped on the island less valuable than euros that can be freely spent abroad.
Anastasiades said the restrictions on transactions - unprecedented in the currency bloc since euro coins and banknotes entered circulation in 2002 - would be gradually lifted. He gave no time frame but the central bank said the measures would be reviewed daily.
He hit out at banking authorities in Cyprus and Europe for pouring money into the crippled Laiki.
"How serious were those authorities that permitted the financing of a bankrupt bank to the highest possible amount?" Anastasiades said.
The president, barely a month in the job and wrestling with Cyprus's worst crisis since a 1974 war split the island in two, accused the 17-nation euro currency bloc of making "unprecedented demands that forced Cyprus to become an experiment".
European leaders have insisted the raid on big bank deposits in Cyprus is a one-off in their handling of a debt crisis that refuses to be contained.
MODEL
But policymakers are divided, and the waters were muddied a day after the deal was inked when the Dutch chair of the euro zone's finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said it could serve as a model for future crises.
Faced with a market backlash, Dijsselbloem rowed back. But on Friday, European Central Bank Governing Council member Klaas Knot, a fellow Dutchman, said there was "little wrong" with his assessment.
"The content of his remarks comes down to an approach which has been on the table for a longer time in Europe," Knot was quoted as saying by Dutch daily Het Financieele Dagblad. "This approach will be part of the European liquidation policy."
The Cyprus rescue differs from those in other euro zone countries because bank depositors have had to take losses, although an initial plan to hit small deposits as well as big ones was abandoned and accounts under 100,000 euros were spared.
Warnings of a stampede at Cypriot banks when they reopened on Thursday proved unfounded.
For almost two weeks, Cypriots were on a ration of limited withdrawals from bank cash machines. Even with banks now open, they face a regime of strict restrictions designed to halt a flight of capital from the island.
Some economists say those restrictions will be difficult to lift. Anastasiades said the capital controls would be "gradually eased until we can return to normal".
The government initially said the controls would stay in place for seven days, but Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Thursday they could last "about a month".
On Friday, easing a ban on cheque payments, Cypriot authorities said cheques could be used to make payments to government agencies up to a limit of 5,000 euros. Anything more than 5,000 euros would require Central Bank approval.
The bank also issued a directive limiting the cash that can be taken to areas of the island beyond the "control of the Cypriot authorities" - a reference to Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus which considers itself an independent state. Cyprus residents can take 300 euros; non-residents can take 500.
Under the terms of the capital controls, Cypriots and foreigners are allowed to take up to 1,000 euros in cash when they leave the island.
(Additional reporting by Ivana Sekularac and Gilbert Kreijger in Amsterdam; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Giles Elgood)

FARAGE WAS RIGHT:




Friday, March 29, 2013

Have you seen this man?

The Federal Government and preserving the prairie dogs.



Why do Republicans hate the gray wolf?



More than 70 members of Congress wrote to the Obama administration last week requesting that the gray wolf be removed from the endangered species list.
In a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday, 66 Republicans and six Democrats argued that the wolves, which recently lost their endangered status in the western Great Lakes region, no longer merit protection in the lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act.
The lawmakers wrote that the "unmanaged wolf population poses a threat to the communities and surrounding livestock and indigenous wildlife” and that state wildlife managers “need to be able to respond to the needs of their native wildlife without being burdened by the impediments of the federal bureaucracy created by the ESA.”
The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Dems who signed off on the letter included Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Reps. Terri Sewell (Ala.) and Tim Walz (Minn.), Jim Matheson (Utah), and Collin Peterson (Minn.).
The Humane Society filed a lawsuit in February to restore federal protections for gray wolves that were lifted last year in the Upper Midwest United States. Since the protections were lifted, hunters and trappers have killed an estimated 530 wolves in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
There are roughly 6,000 gray wolves in the continental U.S., according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. About 8,000 to 11,000 roam Alaska, where they go unprotected. The wolves were one of the most common mammals in the country until unregulated hunting nearly led to their extinction. When the Endangered Species Act was introduced in 1973, there were practically no remaining gray wolves in the West.

“Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” - what is that you ask? - The Orwellian USA PATRIOT ACT





BILL SLANTZ: "REPEAL THE PATRIOT ACT, REAL ID, AND THE NDAA. GROUND THE DRONES. PROTECT AMERICANS' CIVIL LIBERTIES NOW!"
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 8:49 PM

Bill Slantz, Libertarian for US Representative (MO-8), has announced his plan to restore Americans' civil liberties, and stop the growing police state. 

Mr. Slantz says...

"Despite the efforts of our state legislature to prevent the federal government from encroaching on our natural rights, the only way to ensure that we aren't forced to surrender our dignity in order to travel by commercial air, or give up our right to privacy in order to legally drive on public roads or apply for a conceal and carry firearm permit is to repeal the Patriot Act and REAL ID."

"I am disgusted with the constant news of TSA agents at airports groping senior citizens, or psychologically scarring our children with their so called "security measures". This aggression against our civil liberties by the TSA was made possible by the Patriot Act, an unconstitutional and immoral kneejerk reaction to 9/11 that passed with bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans, including former congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson. If elected I will introduce legislation to repeal the Patriot Act in its entirety, and dissolve the Dept of Homeland Security and its agencies, especially the loathsome TSA."

"It has also been brought to my attention that license bureaus in Missouri have installed equipment provided by DHS in order to gather biometric information on individuals applying for a driver's license, or conceal and carry firearm permits. This action is in direct violation of Missouri state law, and our right to privacy. Once again we can thank the political class in Washington DC who passed the REAL ID Act which requires all 50 states to gather information on their citizens, and send it to a DHS database. Like the Patriot Act, REAL ID had broad bipartisan support, including former congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson. I will also introduce legislation to repeal REAL ID."

"The National Defense Authorization Act has given President Obama the legal authority to act as judge, jury, and executioner. He has stated that he can kill American citizens who are "suspected terrorists" anywhere in the world, including within the borders of the US. He has already used assassin drones to kill American citizens without due process in Yemen, in addition to invading sovereign nations' airspace, and killing over 2000 people in their homelands. No US President has ever claimed this unconstitutional power, and the only way to prevent the police state from spying and preying on us is to use the congressional "power of the purse" to defund the drone program and the federal militarization of our local police forces, and repeal the NDAA."

The Libertarian Party is a vocal opponent of the Patriot Act, REAL ID, the NDAA, and the use of drones. The LP is on the forefront of these issues, and passionately defends the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property.

To learn more about Bill Slantz, Libertarian for US Representative (MO-8), visit his website at www.billslantz.com .
Bill Slantz contact information:
1620 Congress Way
St Charles, MO 63303
United States
Ph: 636-922-1600

Salmon Wars

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The United States will continue to work with its "friends to empower the Syrian opposition," Mr Kerry told reporters during a joint press conference with the Saudi foreign minister.



John Kerry: US will 'empower' Syria opposition

US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Riyadh Monday that Washington will work to "empower" Syria's opposition, while warning arch-foe Iran that time for talk on Tehran's nuclear ambitions could run out.


2:59PM GMT 04 Mar 2013 TELEGRAPH 

Mr Kerry, on his first tour to the region since becoming the Secretary of State, also met over lunch with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who flew in to Riyadh unannounced late on Sunday.

Mr Kerry stressed that there was no question of arming the Syrian opposition, even as his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal insisted on the right of Syrians to self-defence.

The United States will continue to work with its "friends to empower the Syrian opposition," Mr Kerry told reporters during a joint press conference with the Saudi foreign minister.

Asked about reports of arms being sent to Syria's rebels from countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Mr Kerry replied: "The moderate opposition has the ability to make sure that the weapons are getting to them and not to the wrong hands."

However, he added, "there is no guarantee that one weapon or another might not fall in the wrong hands."

The US has so far refused to arm rebels locked in a two-year war against President Bashar al-Assad's loyalists.

Several oil-rich monarchies of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, notably Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have supported the rebellion against Mr Assad, a staunch ally of their regional arch-foe Iran.

The GCC members are dissatisfied at the refusal of President Barack Obama's administration to arm Syrian rebels and its perceived lenient attitude towards Tehran, analysts say.

Mr Kerry said his discussions with Gulf officials had also covered ongoing talks between world powers and Iran on its nuclear programme.
Talks with Iran "will not go on for the sake of talks," he said. "Talks cannot become an instrument for delay that in the end makes the situation more dangerous. So there is a finite amount of time."

"(Barack) Obama has made it clear that Iran will not get nuclear weapons," said the top US diplomat. "There is a huge danger of proliferation."
World powers negotiating with Iran to rein in its nuclear programme concluded another round of talks in Kazakhstan last week, after putting forward a proposal to ease biting sanctions if Tehran halts the sensitive work of enriching uranium.

"Saudi Arabia supports the efforts to resolve the crisis diplomatically," said the Saudi foreign minister. "We hope that the negotiations will result in putting an end to this problem... the negotiations cannot go on forever."
World powers accuse Tehran of masking a weapons programme under the guise of a civilian atomic drive. Iran denies these charges.

During his flurry of meetings in Riyadh on Monday, Mr Kerry also held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, but had no plans for a meeting with King Abdullah, officials said.

He also met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas who flew unexpectedly into Riyadh late Sunday.

Prior to their meeting, Palestinian envoy in Riyadh, Jamal al-Shawbaki, told the official Voice of Palestine radio that Mr Abbas "will present the Palestinian point of view to the new US administration ahead of Obama's visit".

Mr Obama is due to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah during a visit on March 20-22.

Mr Abbas, in his first meeting with Mr Kerry, will also highlight Israeli violations in Jerusalem, settlements, and the issue of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike," said Mr Shawbaki.

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks have been deadlocked for more than two years.
Mr Abbas wants to renew peace talks in tandem with a freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and in east Jerusalem.
US officials said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been made aware of the unscheduled Kerry-Abbas meeting.

After winding up the Saudi leg of his tour later Monday, Mr Kerry will head to Abu Dhabi and then to Qatar.
Source: AFP

Julian Assange speech: The truth behind the corrupt attempt to drag the US into a war with Iran. 45 foreign and hostile military bases surround Iran. The lies of Britain, the US, Israel and corrupt Main Stream Media.




Resistance From a Cage: Julian Assange Speaks to Norwegian Journalist Eirik Vold
Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00
By Eirik Vold, Truthout | Interview

This is an exclusive English translation of an interview published Saturday, February 16, 2013, in the Norwegian news outlet Dagens Næringsliv.

Julian Assange is the itinerant hacker from the Australian Outback who gave the world the biggest leak of secret documents in history. Seven months into his embassy asylum, the cyber crusade for transparency goes on.

This is not the first time that WikiLeaks has come under attack, Assange tells me.

"We had been through a couple of fights. With a commander at the Guantanamo base. We were sued by a Swiss bank. One of my cryptographer friends was ambushed by intelligence agents in a parking lot in Luxembourg. They tried to make him tell them things about WikiLeaks."

A cryptographer friend? Does that sound a bit like having a "hobbit friend" to you? Then let this be a warning: If you are not used to a modern Internet vocabulary, the story of Julian Assange is full of characters that may seem like they are out of a science fiction novel: cryptographer friends with vital secrets looking over their shoulders in order not to get caught; eccentric professors about to conjure up a quantum mechanics machine with the power to destroy all of cyberspace if it falls into the wrong hands; tiny torrent files, floating around in abstract space, unintelligible and meaningless when separated, but powerful information packages able to knock down governments if sewn together the right way and delivered to the masses. And they are all real and alive. Just as real and alive as the Swedish prosecutors and their extradition request for Assange or the CIA agents on a mission to stop WikiLeaks from leaking - as real as the heavy wooden door I just opened on my way into the Ecuadorian embassy in London and then shut carefully behind me. Aside from the will of a controversial South American president, that door is now the only barrier between Julian Assange and me on the inside, and the police officer from Scotland Yard (London Metropolitan Police) waiting patiently on the outside with handcuffs, a gun and orders to arrest and deport my interviewee.

Travelers in the Australian Outback

"I do what I do because I saw the opportunity," Assange says. "Because I was born in a Western country, with the necessary education and material resources. And because I care about these issues."

Don't even bother to ask if he became the world's most famous leaker and the West's number-one dissident because of his special family background and childhood in the Australian Outback.

"I really don't like that approach," he says.

But Assange does have a special background. He was born on July 3, 1971, in the medium-sized town of Townsville on the tropical northern coast of Australia. The French-sounding surname, Assange, is said to be an Anglification of the Chinese name Ah Sang. A Taiwanese pirate, it is said, brought that surname to Australia. Assange grew up with his mother. They lived in hiding for about five years due to a conflict over the custody of Julian's half brother and moved about 30 times before Julian was 14.

Some describe Assange as a distrustful person, at times bordering on paranoid. Is that why he started the interview by asking me questions about my Spanish, as he heard me make small talk with someone who I thought was an Ecuadorian embassy employee?

"Where did you learn your Spanish? Why do you speak with a Cuban accent?"

His voice and body language, however, reveal curiosity rather than distrust. Assange has always asked questions - and was always willing to go all the way to get the answers.

Meet Mendax

It was during his youth that Assange started to take advantage of the opportunities that come from growing up in a First World country: literacy, sufficient money to buy a computer, and access to the Internet. Meet Mendax, the online pseudonym of the 16-year-old hacker Julian Assange. Today Assange is seen by many as the world's first great "ethical hacker." His hacker team, called "the international subversives" had strict rules for their activities: "Don't damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don't change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information." Others believe the pseudonym Mendax, which is Latin for "deceitful," is the most precise way of describing Assange's personality. Everyone, however, seems to agree that he was an extremely talented hacker.

In 2002, Assange entered the university. With his restless nature, he went through two different universities and jumped between natural sciences, philosophy and neuroscience. The grades he obtained were rather mediocre, but one particular experience proved decisive.

"I became critical of the academy. Mathematics in the university was financed by the US government and military establishment. We had to work with mathematical models that were used to make military bulldozers, such as were deployed in Iraq and employed by Israel to demolish Palestinian homes. There were quantum mechanical models that could be used for mass espionage on the Internet."
No academic title came out of Assange's university studies in Canberra and Melbourne. But the typical hacker outlook - rebellious, but apolitical - went through a deep metamorphosis. Faced with what Assange calls "the ivory tower's connections to economic power relations on the ground" and global geopolitics, Mendax merged with the political consciousness of Assange the university student.
The result was WikiLeaks.

In 2006, a year after Assange strolled out of campus for the last time, WikiLeaks was founded in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. During WikiLeaks' first years, Assange traveled between international conferences with geeky names like Chaos Communications Congress. WikiLeaks arranged meetings and Assange would talk to the journalists who bothered to listen. Meanwhile, the WikiLeaks staff silently stretched its probing tentacles through cyberspace in its search for secrets. Big secrets.

The Rebel Library 

January 8, 2010 - the WikiLeaks Twitter account posts a request for help in decrypting a video about a "U.S. bomb strike on civilians." Three months later, the world witnessed a pristine video recording from 2007 of two Apache artillery helicopters attacking a group of defenseless Iraqis, among them two Reuters press photographers, with 30 millimeter anti-armor ammunition.

"The Collateral Murder video became the iconic video of the Iraq war," says Assange proudly.

But we had seen nothing yet. During 2010, WikiLeaks released three more enormous leaks: The Afghan War Diary, in which US military servicemen provide the naked truth about NATO's killing of Afghan civilians, lies, secrecy and support for a corrupt undemocratic Afghan regime; a similar package from Iraq, called the Iraq War Logs, and finally, Cablegate, a collection of cables sent between Washington and US embassies in 274 countries, dating from 1966 to 2010.
Assange explained how US foreign policy was exposed as violent and dishonest, how the revelations made the ground shake beneath corrupt and oppressive regimes and corporations all over the world and stimulated revolutions, as in Tunisia, and reformist movements in Ghana and Kenya.
WikiLeaks is "a rebel library of Alexandria," Assange declares, making a parallel to the largest known library of classical antiquity.

"With Cablegate, we have provided the largest geopolitical encyclopedia of how the world actually works that ever existed. It's really hard to think of anything in modern times that comes close to this."

Assange paints in grandiose words, but insistently backs them up with numbers. All together, the three releases contain more than 700,000 documents. With its 251,276,536 words, Cablegate alone constitutes the greatest package of classified material ever released.

Has he read all the documents?

"No, but I've read thousands, many thousands."

"It's too much; it's impossible to read it all, or get the full overview of all the revelations. But the impact all over the world is enormous. Every single one of our releases causes thousands of reactions, and they always give people more insight," he says.
The chase begins. Assange has still not revealed how WikiLeaks got the Collateral Murder video decrypted. Presumably, one of his cryptographer friends had something to do with it. But in the Pentagon, eyes turned to a young American soldier on duty in Iraq. On May 26, 2010, Private Bradley Manning was arrested.

"We started to realize that the heat was really coming down on us," Assange says. And it certainly was.

"We were tipped off that we were being followed. Journalists reported about US pressure on different countries - Germany and Australia - to make them prosecute us legally. There were public calls for my assassination from leading American politicians; proposals for laws that WikiLeaks be declared a terrorist organization. The Pentagon announced that it had put together a task force of 120 defense and intelligence personnel. The CIA and the FBI had theirs, too," he says.
In the United States, WikiLeaks' domain name in California was shut down. Bank of America announced that all transactions dealing with WikiLeaks would be blocked. Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, Western Union and Amazon followed. German tax authorities started to investigate WikiLeaks.
"Friends of mine were stopped and interrogated in airports. People who only had remote connections to WikiLeaks started to lose jobs and contracts," he says.

But the FBI may have been closer than Assange imagined. In 2011, the Bureau sent a group of agents in a private jet to Iceland. Without the knowledge of the government of Iceland, the FBI agents hunted down suspected WikiLeaks allies and brought them to the US embassy in Reykjavik for interrogation.

They Can't Stop Us

During the two-and-a-half hour interview, only once did Assange display his characteristic impatience when he thinks a journalist says something stupid. The occasion was my interruption of a long argument about how powerful elites trick potential opponents into passivity by giving the impression that they have a greater capacity to harm than they actually have. "But you are afraid," I ask - or, rather, I state.

"That's a silly statement," Assange responds.
A short awkward silence follows.
"So you believe that those who are after you exaggerate their ability to harm you?"
"Those who want to harm WikiLeaks constantly exaggerate their ability to harm us. They are mostly incompetent people."
Is this the cocky Mendax, talking about helpless old policemen in their clumsy hunt for an agile young hacker in cyberspace? Has Assange forgotten that he's entering his seventh month holed up in a 50-square-meter embassy out of fear of ending up like Bradley Manning?
"This isn't about me. What happens to me is not important, beyond the practical difficulties it might create for WikiLeaks."

Assange goes back to a televised Pentagon press conference from 2010 to explain what he means.
"They demanded that WikiLeaks hand over all the documents, eliminate all the copies and cut off all contact with whistleblowers in the US military. Or else they would, and I quote, 'compel us to do so.'"

But WikiLeaks didn't obey.

"Yes, they put great pressure on us, financial and legal measures that are still ongoing. But we haven't removed a single thing," says Assange.

He thinks the Pentagon has lost face, that their threats are degraded after WikiLeaks ignored their demands and continued publishing.

"The first time we took it seriously, but when they repeated the same demand afterwards, we just laughed about it. They might be able to take revenge on WikiLeaks, but they couldn't stop us."

The WikiLeaks Philosophy

"The left? The left is still stuck in the 1960s," Assange states drily. Ideologically, he is closer to the free market, even though he says markets always tend to evolve into monopolies unless they are forced to work freely.

Assange might not be afraid, but he is clearly taking a huge personal risk with his disclosure activities. There must be a driving force within him, and it is definitely not a political ideology.

Assange takes a deep breath.

"I can answer long and theoretically, or short, depending on your audience."

Assange is service-oriented now. Or just very eager to be correctly understood when he is about to answer why a world full of freely competing news media, political movements and research institutions really needs publishers of secret material like him. Assange wants to make a deeper point. WikiLeaks, he says, is about more than just scandalous revelations and splashy headlines.

"In the same way that the ability to solve physical problems is limited by our understanding of physical laws, the ability to solve societal problems depends on our insight into human institutions. All political theories on how the world is and how it should be are built on such an understanding."

By "institutions" Assange means governments, private companies and other networks of power groups. The problem, he explains, is that while institutions constantly change as they absorb new technology and make old theories outdated, the information about how they actually work is concealed, kept secret.

"Much of what we are being presented, and upon which we build our understanding of the world, is designed to make these institutions palatable for the outside world."

"This is why only by knowing the internal communications of these institutions can we understand how they really work. So, if we want to make the world more just, if we want humanity to reach its heights and not its lows, then the first step is to get access to that information," he says.
"And then there's the media."

Mainstream Media Disappoints

From high theoretical spheres, Assange brings the discussion down to earth again. Or rather down into the mud, to what was to become a dirty conflict between WikiLeaks and the mainstream media.

But it started as a sweet tango. WikiLeaks did the initial work; The New York Times, Der Spiegel and other leading news publications provided their best writers and huge readerships, maximizing the global impact of the revelations.

"I was quite impressed by their work and what we achieved together in the beginning," Assange admits.
Then it all went downhill.

Assange speaks with indignation about Western news media turning an American document about an Iranian missile purchase into "fear propaganda" by censoring the expert assessment in the same document which showed that the purchase did not constitute any threat, about Der Spiegel choosing not to publish information that shed some unfortunate light on Angela Merkel, about the terrible accounts of Task Force 373 and their killing of innocent Afghans - which The New York Times refused to publish - and about what Assange considers an intentional personal smear that reached its low point in August last year, when The New York Times wrote that he refused to flush the toilet.

"Media organizations start off small. But when they grow, they are invited to sit down with the powerful. Then they become part of the same powerful elite that they are supposed to be critically monitoring," he explains.

"It's shameful," Assange says, "that a handful of activists in WikiLeaks have published more secret documents than the entire establishment press, with all its billion-dollar budgets, technical competence and human resources, all together."

A South American Savior

June 19, 2012: Ecuador's government announced that Assange had sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and requested political asylum in Ecuador. Swedish prosecutors want him extradited to Sweden to question him about sexual assault allegations from two Swedish women. Both said they had voluntary sex with Assange in August 2010, but one claim, among other things, is that Assange ripped off a condom and continued intercourse without consent. So far, the closest prosecutors have come to presenting evidence in the cases is a torn-up condom that later turned out not to have any trace DNA from Assange.[1] Assange has offered to answer questions by telephone, or to go to Sweden, provided that that country guarantees that he will not be extradited to the United States, where alleged whistleblower Manning has been held under conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture deemed "cruel and inhuman." The Swedes rejected the offer.
So, why did Assange choose to apply for political asylum in a country popularly known as the "banana republic" par excellence of South America?

"Ecuador's president Rafael Correa is really a special person," Assange says, his voice filled with admiration.

"He belongs to a new generation of leaders. People like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela have also achieved impressive things, but he is still a military leader. Correa is a US-educated PhD economist. A nationalist in the good sense of the word and a social reformer. This is a very interesting combination."
On August 15 last year, however, a lot of people doubted that this lifeline would be enough to save Assange. In response to Ecuador's granting political asylum to Assange the day before, the British government sent a letter wherein it threatened to revoke the diplomatic immunity of the embassy and go in to arrest Assange. International media described warnings about economic sanctions with catastrophic consequences for Ecuador if Assange was not sacrificed. Most analysts seemed to believe Ecuador would give in. Correa reacted by gathering the entire South American continent behind a declaration that unanimously condemned the threat and scared the British government into a humiliating retreat.

Assange smiles when asked what happened to the pale, hunched up and morally defeated refugee that I had read about in the British press lately. Life as a persecuted person may be rough, but Assange also has a lot of friends. The British movie director Ken Loach donated a running machine, and a former British intelligence agent gives Assange martial arts training at the embassy.
"I'm improving my boxing too, now," Assange says.
The mysterious boxing trainer - Assange does not provide his name - is not the only former intelligence agent who has sided with the Australian rebel librarian." 

A recent letter to the British newspaper The Guardian in support of Assange was signed by an impressive list of former CIA agents and former colleagues from other agencies. On January 25, the CIA officer John Kiriakou was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for blowing the whistle on waterboarding torture by the US military, while the torturers continue to go free. These are hard times for talkative military and intelligence personnel in the US, and many see Assange and WikiLeaks as their voice.
In addition, a broad spectrum of intellectuals, musicians, politicians from the left and right, hackers and even celebrity feminist Naomi Klein have thrown their support behind Assange and demand that he get free passage to Ecuador. The EU parliament voted against the US-imposed banking blockade against WikiLeaks. Last week, Iceland's interior minister Ogmundur Jonasson revealed that he told the FBI agents to get out of Iceland when he found out about the illegal interrogations in the US embassy.

"We have support from all over the world. But the level of support is found in countries that have toppled bad governments in the past, and where the internal archives of the fallen regimes have been central elements in the public debate afterward," Assange explains, pointing to countries like the former apartheid regime of South Africa and former East Germany.

But the rape allegations, whether rooted in reality [2] or not, have stuck to Assange's name now, it seems, and have undermined his support in some parts of Europe.

"You are not very popular in Sweden, are you?"

"Not in the media, but polls show that I have the support of about 55 percent of the Swedish people. That is right in the middle compared to other countries, and better than in the US and Great Britain," he says.

A Way Out

A lady whom I had first thought was an Ecuadorian embassy employee turns out to be part of the team of the world's possibly most famous judge, Baltazar Garzón, who has taken on the task of leading Assange's legal defense.
Garzón has already confronted Great Britain in another high-profile extradition case in the past. In 1998, the former military dictator of Chile, Augusto Pinochet, was arrested in London on the orders of Interpol. Garzón wanted him extradited to Spain to have him prosecuted for murder, torture and kidnappings committed during his 17-year dictatorship. The British government, however, released Pinochet and let him return to Chile as a free man. Now Garzón is trying to convince the British government that Assange is innocent and does not deserve a harsher treatment - so far, in vain.

Nevertheless, Assange is still optimistic.

"We are many people working hard to make the US drop persecution of WikiLeaks," he says, and seems to believe that the accusations from Sweden will also disappear if the US gives up its goal of crushing WikiLeaks.

"But right now, it does not really seem that the cases against you and WikiLeaks are about to disappear. Don't you have another plan to get out of here?"

I ask the question while peeking out from the tiny gap between the old-fashioned curtains in the room. It is no more than two meters from the window to the ground beneath, and it looks dark and abandoned. Earlier speculations had it that the Ecuadorians would attempt to smuggle Assange out in a diplomatic bag and into a speed boat waiting in the river Thames a good kilometer south of the embassy, and then into international waters.

Assange has a different escape route planned. It goes via the upcoming parliamentary elections in Australia. He will be a candidate for the newly founded WikiLeaks party.

"25 percent of the electorate says it will vote for me. I have supporters from the social democrats, the conservatives and the Green Party. And the support is uniform all over the country," says Assange.

And the election campaign has not even started. The Australian police has said Assange's legal problems abroad do not impede him from being a candidate in Australia.
Still, escape "in a British police car" is the option with the lowest odds, only 1.38, at the Irish bookmaker site Paddy Power, which takes bets on how the celebrity refugee will leave the embassy in the end. A seat in the Australian senate stands at 3.5.

As the bets keep rolling in, Assange makes the best out of life on 50 square meters. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks continues pumping out secret documents. In spite of mutual distrust, smearing and accusations of censorship, WikiLeaks and the establishment media hold on tight to each other. It still takes two to tango. WikiLeaks needs access to the public and newspapers need splashy headlines. According to Assange's most recent numbers, there is a WikiLeaks-based article in almost every second issue of The New York Times. The tones might have soured, but neither can afford to stop dancing.

Notes:
1. Perhaps notably, one of Assange's attorneys said at his 2011 extradition hearing that he would not challenge that the women "found Mr. Assange's sexual behavior in these encounters disreputable, discourteous, disturbing or even pushing towards the boundaries of what they were comfortable with." Also of note is that rape laws vary from country to country. -Truthout editors

2. In fact, some progressive leaders' assessments of the allegations' validity have cast a disturbing light on the way in which rape is viewed by large contingents of the left, at least when one of their own is accused. Some have dismissed the allegations immediately - perhaps calling into question their underlying assumptions about women and rape. In a news analysis about the Assange situation earlier this year, Truthout's Alissa Bohling quotes Claudia Garcia-Rojas, a journalist who spent three years at the Chicago Task Force on Violence Against Girls and Young Women: "Just because the men in the quote-unquote, like, 'the movement,' are involved in social justice work, this doesn't mean that they can't participate in the patriarchy, in some of the more horrid crimes." -Truthout editors

We are Number One! - The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with an estimated 716 prisoners per 100,000 people.



A report says an estimated 80,000 prisoners spend 23 hours a day ‘for decades’ in closed isolation units of prisons in the United States.


According to a report published by the National Public Radio on Sunday, there is growing evidence that the solitary confinement causes mental breakdown among the prisoners, who are sentenced to “even more than 30 years.” 

The prisoners who have lived through the extreme, often uncertain isolation, have testified about suicidal depression, self-mutilation, hallucinations and other conditions, the NPR stated. 

Robert King, a former American prisoner who served 29 years in solitary confinement at Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, says the three-by-six-foot (0.9-by-1.8-meter) cell he spent time inside was a “tomb.” 

“There was a slab of concrete that you slept on… and during the winter time you froze, and during the summer time you overheated,” King said. 

The ex-prisoner also stated that while in prison he saw how the detention system and the solitary confinement changed the inmates as they became more withdrawn with time. 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has come under criticism over the detention system. It recently decided for the first time to assess its policies on solitary confinement. 

It costs up to $60,000 a year to hold a prisoner in isolation in the United States. The amount is double to triple the cost of holding an inmate in a regular ward. 

Solitary confinement increased in the 1980s as almost every US state built a so-called supermax for the allegedly ‘worst of the worst.’ 

Isolating inmates was initially practiced at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia in 1829. 

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with an estimated 716 prisoners per 100,000 people.