Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mark Williams-Thomas

Mark Williams-Thomas 

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former policeman and managing director of WT Associates, a PR company specialized in child protection, media handling and advice for high profile cases, urged Portuguese police to ditch the case against the McCann – a case that he classified as “ludicrous” – and follow another lead that he thinks could take PJ to the real kidnapper.

The managing director of PR company WT Associates, who is usually introduced to Sky News viewers only as a “child protection expert” or “crime expert”, criticised Polícia Judiciária for not paying attention to “such a strong line of inquiry”. The PR expert referred that, even if “over 90% of murders are domestic-related”, he can’t “accept that Gerry and Kate as parents of the child could have been involved in her murder.”.................

...............The fact that one of the officers accused in Chief-Inspector Gonçalo Amaral casts “huge doubt” to the managing director of WT Associates, who believes that Mr. Amaral should be ousted from the investigation of Madeleine’s case: “”Even if we work on the basis that he is innocent, given this allegation against him, he shouldn’t have anything to do with the Madeleine investigation”, the PR expert told to Sky News.

Questioned yesterday, September 14, about his business relationship, as a expert also in media handling and advice for high profile cases, Mr. Mark Williams-Thomas initially confirmed that his company had a contract to provide services to the McCann. Asked to confirm some details of that business relationship, he changed his initial answer and denied any relationship, admitting only that he has “been in contact with the press officers for the family.” more
More Williams-Thomas drivel at Anorak

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Antikythera Mechanism The 2,000 Year Old Astral Computer

Now I know that on occasion I may wax rapturous about certain things, but I like to think that it is not without reason. Typically was a recent post on the modern wonder, 3D printers, 3D Printers Simply Amazing and believe me, they simply are.

But that which has brought about the latest bit of praise, for all of  its incredible complexity, its staggering sophistication and its mathematical genius, isn't a product of our modern scientific world, it is the two thousand year old product of ancient Greece.

This is not the first time I have watched this BBC4 production, and I find it no less amazing the second time around, staggering in fact. And no more staggering than that which is revealed at the thirty eight minute mark, it is, for want of a better expression, a fuck off moment, a moment where you say, fuck off, I'm not having that, not two thousand years ago I'm not.


What is the Antikythera Mechanism?
The antikythera mechanism is currently housed in the Greek National Archaeological Museum in Athens and is thought to be one of the most complicated antiques in existence. At the beginning of the 20th century, divers off the island of Antikythera came across this clocklike mechanism, which is thought to be at least 2,000 years old, in the wreckage of a cargo ship. The device was very thin and made of bronze. It was mounted in a wooden frame and had more than 2,000 characters inscribed all over it. Though nearly 95 percent of these have been deciphered by experts, there as not been a publication of the full text of the inscription.

These are big images should you wish a better view.

Today it is believed that this instrument was a kind of mechanical analog computer used to calculate the movements of stars and planets in astronomy. It has been estimated that the antikythera mechanism was built around 87 B.C and was lost in 76 B.C. No one has any idea about why or how it came to be on that ill-fated cargo ship. The ship was Roman though the antikythera mechanism was developed in Greece. One theory suggests that the reason it came to be on the Roman ship could be because the instrument was among the spoils of war garnered by then Roman emperor Julius Caesar. X-rays of the device have indicated that there are at least 30 different gears present in it. British historian Derek Price has done extensive research on what the antikythera mechanism may have been used for. It was not until 1959 that Price put forth the theory that the device was used in astronomy to make calculations and predictions. In 1974, Price presented a model of how the antikythera mechanism might have functioned. When past or future dates were entered into the device it calculated the astronomical information related to the Sun, Moon, and other planets. Some of these findings have been confirmed by more recent researches undertaken by scholars and scientists. However, the full extent of the instrument’s functions still remains unknown. Price had also suggested that the antikythera mechanism might have been on public display in a museum or a public hall. Some others have also come up with their variants of the ancient computer, based on Price’s model. Australians Allan Bromley and Frank Percival devised one such model as did Michael Wright, curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum, London.

A joint project is also underway to further study this astounding example of the advancements of technology in ancient times. Known as the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, it is a collaboration between Cardiff University, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, X-Tek Systems, UK, and Hewlett-Packard, USA. This project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and supported by the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece. Since the study started more progress has been made. More than 80 fragments of the mechanism have now been discovered. An official announcement on the results obtained so far is expected to be made at a conference to be held in Athens in December 2006.

Tip of the hat to jonewscientist for the upload.

How it works.

H/T Maren.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kurt Eichenwald’s "500 Days" And the 9/11 Neocon Disaster

I can't even begin to parse this twenty minute Democracy Now interview with author Kurt Eichenwald, I would be typing forever. Suffice to say, it's just one jaw dropping revelation after the other.

As I said in a tweet yesterday: Essential viewing, a must watch.

Enough said, drive on!

"500 Days": Author Kurt Eichenwald’s New Account of How Bush Admin Ignored Warnings Before 9/11

Newly disclosed documents provide further evidence the administration of George W. Bush ignored repeated warnings about Osama bin Laden’s plans to attack the United States. In "500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars,” author and journalist Kurt Eichenwald fleshes out how the Bush administration dismissed a number of warnings of an al-Qaeda attack against the United States beginning in the spring of 2001, instead focusing on alleged threats from Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Transcript

This from No More Mister Nice Blog:

Why did the administration do nothing? It sure looks as if it's because a key faction in the administration had a theory and didn't want anyone confused by the facts:

An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat.

And we know, of course, these folks didn't change their minds even after it was clear that Al Qaeda was responsible for 9/11. They still thought Saddam was the main threat. They just couldn't let that idea go. more

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Which God Is That Mitt, The One From The Planet Kolob?

I had already dismissed this speech of Romney's with the disdain it deserved, when I tweeted: I've never read so much shite in all my life. What an arsehole. But something reared its head recently that causes me to post the thing, if only for posterity.

And it is worth preserving, because I think you would have to go a long long way to find a more insidious bit of hucksterism than this display by Romney.

Mitt Romney's Virginia speech heavy on religion

By Ginger Gibson

Mitt Romney wants to be clear: He’s not taking “God” off the nation’s money or out of his party’s platform.

In a not-so-veiled attack on President Barack Obama, Romney on Saturday delivered a speech thick with religious overtones and heavy on promises to increase military spending.

While Romney never argued that Obama was trying to remove God from the nation’s currency, he argued that the election is the only way to ensure the words remain.

The Republican presidential nominee recited the Pledge of Allegiance and said he would not remove God from the nation’s conversation.

“The pledge says ‘under God.’ I will not take God out of the name of our platform. I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my heart,” Romney said to loud cheers. “We’re a nation that’s bestowed by God.”

Republicans have heavily criticized Democrats after the word “God” was left out of the party platform and then returned during this week’s national convention. Obama has never proposed taking “God” off the nation’s currency.

Adding to the event’s religious theme, controversial television minister Pat Robertson was seated on stage directly behind Romney.

Returning to the campaign trail on Friday after spending several days hunkered down in Vermont doing debate preparations, Romney delivered a new stump speech that departed from his usual economy-heavy addresses.

Most of the speech was framed around the Pledge of Allegiance, which he juxtaposed against his own campaign promises and attacks against President Barack Obama.

“For me, the Pledge of Allegiance and placing our hand over our heart reminds us of the blood that was shed by our sons and daughters fighting for our liberty and sharing liberty with people around the word,” Romney said. “The promises that were made in that pledge are promises I plan on keeping if I’m president and I’ve kept them so far in my life.”

He then took several of the lines and used them as a jumping off point to explain his positions.

“One nation, indivisible,” he repeated.” I will not divide this nation. I will not apologize for America abroad and I will not apologize for Americans here at home.”

Next, he focused on the line, “with liberty and justice for all.”

“I will not forget that for us to have liberty here, for us to be able to protect ourselves from the most evil around the world, for us to share liberty with our friends around the world, we must have a military second to none, so strong no one would ever think of testing it,” he said.

The crowd of nearly 3,000 cheered when Romney pledged not to cut military spending — the Hampton Roads area of Virginia has a large presence of active duty military members and military contractors.

Romney has come under criticism from Democrats for not mentioning the troops or Afghanistan in his nomination acceptance speech at last week’s Republican National Convention.

While he continued to not offer specifics on what he would do about the situation in Afghanistan, he mentioned the troops in his remarks here.

“Our troops have been stretched to the breaking point in the conflicts they’ve been enduring, and our hearts go to those that are in far-off places today particularly those in Afghanistan who are in harm’s way. We love them, we respect them, we honor their sacrifice,” he said.

He also pledged to expand the number of ships and aircraft being purchased and the size of the active duty enlistment. He also criticized Obama for the sequestration saga.

“It’s unthinkable to Virginia, to our employment needs, but it’s also unthinkable to the ability and the commitment of America to maintain our liberty, with liberty for all,” Romney said. “If I’m president of the United States we’ll get rid of those sequestration cuts and rebuild America’s military might.”

He continued expanding on the “justice for all” line, adding his own deficit and economic pledges.

“With justice for all,” he repeated “I don’t think it’s just for the next generation for us to pass on massive debts that we have amassed and pass on a $16 trillion in debt.”

Obama’s campaign responded to Romney’s remarks by tying him to Iowa Rep. Steve King, who he stumped with on Friday, and Robertson.

“It’s disappointing to see Mitt Romney try to throw a Hail Mary by launching extreme and untrue attacks against the President and associating with some of the most strident and divisive voices in the Republican Party, including Rep. Steve King and Pat Robertson,” Obama spokesman Lis Smith said. “This isn’t a recipe for making America stronger, it’s a recipe for division and taking us backward.” Politico

Try and spot the not tooo subliminal message ladies.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Anna Ardin Witness For The Prosecution

Leaving all that surrounds the case of Julian Assange out of things, and all other factors apart, can I but ask this one question?

In a judicial system that was just and open to public scrutiny, what prosecutor in the world would even think about trying bring a prosecution where the main witness and accuser had written a brief dissertation on the subject, of all things, Revenge.

I think you might join me in saying, not one. Because let's face it, the existence of such a document is; what can I liken it to? A torpedo, yes a torpedo, a torpedo for the defence, a torpedo, armed, primed and fuse and course set.

A torpedo, whose very existence would mean only one thing, the sinking of the prosecutions case the minute the witness took the stand. I have this vision if you will, of a periscope, a back to front cap and the cry of 'Los!'

As I say, this scenario would only play out in a judicial system that was just and open to public scrutiny. But could this be said of Sweden, where any trial of Julian Assange would be subject to the following conditions.

.If there is a charge and a trial, it will be held in secret.

.He will not be judged by an ’independent and impartial tribunal’, a fundamental requirement under the European Convention of Human Rights (article 6.1). Three out of the four judges are lay judges, who have been appointed by political parties and have no formal legal training. Fair Trial for Julian Assange?

I don't make mention of pre-trial conditions, they can be accessed at the link above, but for me, the words secret and trial, or justice for that matter, don't belong in the same sentence.

That which is posted below, contains, apart from Anna Ardin's seven salient pieces of advice on the subject of revenge, the bare minimum of the original post. And for no other reason that I don't care much for the writers style, nor what he has to say for that matter. But then, that's not the essence of the post, it's what is going on inside Ardin's head that is germane.

Anna Ardin's new revenge school!

Learn how to get revenge on a really creative way. Courses for all the girls who are not content with throwing vases or having uninhibited sex with his intended victim's friends and acquaintances.

Here we learn that in a subtle way, to destroy the victim's life. Anna was previously on his blog going through the first steps of a creatively cruel revenge. Here is the continuation course for all the girls who see PMS as a natural condition of life.

Terror Feminist prosecutor Marianne Ny will jump in as our expert in extreme retaliation cases that require a little extra terror feminism.

Repeat revenge with Anna!

For all students who forgot Anna's former vengeance lessons are now able to refresh your memory a bit. Here is Anna through everything required for that suffering will be a maximum painfully of his intended victim.

Stage 1
Consider very carefully if you really must take revenge. It's almost always better to forgive than to avenge

Stage 2
Think about why you want revenge. You do not need to just be clear about who to take revenge on, but also why. Revenge is never directed against only one person, but also meet a certain action.

Step 3
The principle of proportionality. Remember that revenge will not only match the deed in size but also in nature. A good revenge is linked to what has been done against you. For example if you want revenge on someone who cheated or who dumped you, so the penalty should have something with dating / sex / fidelity to do.

Step 4
Make a brainstorm about appropriate measures for the category of revenge you're after. To continue the example above, you can paja your victim's current relationship, fix so that his new partner is unfaithful or ensure that he gets a madman after him. Use your imagination!

Step 5
Think of how you can systematically take revenge. Perhaps a series of letters and photos, the new to believe that you have seen more than just a big lie on a single occasion?

Step 6
Rank your systematic revenge schemes from low to high in terms of likely successful implementation, the required input from you, and degree of satisfaction if you succeed. The ideal, of course, revenge is as high as possible in these columns, but can often be an increased effort by labor and capital provide safer output for the other two, really important parameters.

Step 7
Screed to work. And remember what your goals are while you are operating, ensure that your victim will suffer in the same way as he made ​​you suffer. Under Mattan, translated.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Fred Again: Soap Opera Over Kabul

And at his humorous best.

What do you expect when you put combative, not too bright, half-educated, unsophisticated lower-middle-class guys into an illiterate thirteenth-century culture with a history of detesting invaders? I know, I know: you figured it would spark a love-in, koom-bah-yah, Oprah as featured speaker.

I once succinctly asked the question, 'How on earth do you conquer a bunch of fucking rocks?'

Fred gives us the answer.

In Afghanistan there are no targets of high value to destroy, no clear lines of supply to be cut, no cities whose capture means you win, and no concentrations of enemy to be easily killed. World War Two ended a long time ago.

Soap Opera Over Kabul

Not the Roman Legions
By Fred Reed
September 04, 2012

Oh lordy, lordy, how I love the Afghan war: It just goes on and on, without end. By comparison death and taxes seem long shots.

In the latest episode of this long-running sitcom, the Afghan army is killing GIs. Yes. Blowing them away right and left. In Washington, the Five-Sided Wind Tunnel is in shock and maybe awe. It has stopped training Afghan troops because it is scared of them. It has ordered our soldiers to stay armed to protect themselves against our devoted allies, to whom we are bringing democracy, because they want to kill us.

How can this be, you ask? The brass are puzzled too. The reason can’t be that Afghans don’t like night raids, torture, GIs going house to house and shooting women and kids, drone strikes blowing up weddings, and other routine mechanisms of democratization. Instead, it must be…Taliban infiltrators. Yes. This being decided, all is now well. Just as the military calls routine atrocities “isolated incidents,” it attributes Afghani hostility to Taliban infiltrators. Problem solved. In the modern marketing military, you don’t need a solution, just a saleable explanation.

OK. In the Guardian, I learn that actual Pentagonal military psycho-wonks have done a study on what Afghans and gringos think of each other. (report) Saith the Guardian:

"One group sees the other as a bunch of violent, reckless, intrusive, arrogant, self-serving, profane, infidel bullies hiding behind high technology; and the other group [the US soldiers] generally view the former as a bunch of cowardly, incompetent, obtuse, thieving, complacent, lazy, pot-smoking, treacherous, and murderous radicals. Such is the state of progress in the current partnering programme. Over a decade of fighting shoulder-to-shoulder had created mutual loathing that was impossible to camouflage.”

Who would have thought it?

Anybody with the slighytest acquaintance with reality. Tell you what, brothels and cisterns, I could have written every word of it, and I’ve never been to Afghanistan. It’s Viet Nam all over again. Which means that it’s all over, again. GIs and Afghans hate each other.

What do you expect when you put combative, not too bright, half-educated, unsophisticated lower-middle-class guys into an illiterate thirteenth-century culture with a history of detesting invaders? I know, I know: you figured it would spark a love-in, koom-bah-yah, Oprah as featured speaker.

This comedy occurs because the military inhabits a parallel reality. In its experience, you tell a thing to happen, and it does. If the base commander decides that all dumpsters should be painted Day-Glo chartreuse, he issues orders, paint crews go out, and three days later the dumpsters glow sort of greenly. The military also believes that things work. Put 6000 sailors and a hundred airplanes on an aircraft carrier, obviously an unworkable idea—and it works. It works because everyone wants it to work and does what he is told.

Afghanistan isn’t an aircraft carrier. It has a different shape, it isn’t as flat, and it is full of Afghans. These are important distinctions.

Further, the military thinks that policy determines existence. American policy is that Afghanistan is an allied country like Germany, which it isn’t, that Karzai is chief of state like Angela Merkel, which he isn’t, that the Afghan population are our allies, which they are not, and that if you train Afghans who hate us to say Ooo-rah!, they will want to kill other Afghans that we don’t like—which, obviously they don’t.

Add to the military’s eternal misunderstanding of the enemy’s motivation a matching underestimation of his capacity to fight, plus hypertrophied self-confidence, and you get an over-armed, under-brained, excessively ooo-rahed pack of losers. Don’t think so? How is it that a trillion-dollar military with fighter-bombers, helicopters, armor, electronics, drones, and such can’t beat pissed-off goat-herders with rifles? What do you think would happen if GIs had to fight on equal terms—sandals and a smoke pole, no PX?

Please don’t send me growly mail about Our Boys and their courage, training, sacrifice, honor, and the rest of that string of beads. For one thing, there is no honor in going to someone else’s country and butchering people you don’t know because some political general, which is to say some general, told you to; A hit man for the Mafia is exactly as honorable. For another thing, an army’s job is not to be brave, selfless, yada yada, but to win wars. Look at the record:

Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos: Dead losses. Underestimated the Vietnamese, the AK, the RPG, the IED. By policy the Pentagon said the war was about communism, while the Viets thought it was about getting invaders out of their country, which they did. The GIs hated the Viets as they always hate their allies. The Pentagon left with its tail between legs.

Beirut, 1983: Dead loss, 241 Marines killed versus one Arab. Underestimated the enemy and the truck bomb, had amateurish security, and misunderstood local motivations. Left with tail between legs.

Mogadishu, 1993: Dead loss. Underestimated the enemy, the AK, the RPG. Left dead GIs being dragged through the streets. Tail between legs.

Gulf I: Victory. Enemy tried to fight Pentagon’s kind of war with fifth-rate forces. Tail high.

Iraq: Dead loss. Did not get the oil, permanent bases, or docile puppet government. Clueless about politics, urban war. Underestimated the enemy, the IED, the AK, the RPG. Left, tail high, fooling few.

Afghanistan: Dead loss, as yet unadmitted.. Underestimated enemy, IED, AK, RPG. Clueless about politics. Tail in default position.

Several things explain this Gilbert-and-Sullivan performance. Since 1945 the Pentagon has never fought a war it had to win. Nor will it. The possession of nuclear weapons by the First World ensures that no seriously dangerous country will attack any other seriously dangerous country. This leaves the Pentagon and its suppliers free to buy phenomenally expensive weapons of no purpose. The B1, B2, and Airborne Laser come to mind and, now that pilotless airplanes are coming into their own, the US spends hugely on the piloted F35, for which there is no enemy.

But what the military seems particularly not to grasp is that the nature of war has changed. The day of massed armor roaring across deserts under gorgeous sunsets, of fighter aircraft duking it out gloriously at Midway, of huge formations of Marines storming ashore, is over. In Afghanistan there are no targets of high value to destroy, no clear lines of supply to be cut, no cities whose capture means you win, and no concentrations of enemy to be easily killed. World War Two ended a long time ago.

This should be obvious, but militaries don’t do obvious. They run on the hormonal aggression built into men—males, grrr, bow-wow, woof—which is why all of history roils with pointless wars and slaughtered innocents. Herd combat is as biologically determined as a teen-age boy’s newfound interest in girls. Oh good.

Coming soon on these same channels: Days of Yemen, a heartwarming series about a handsome young GI’s illicit love affair with his aging Ma Deuce. Brought to you by the New! New! Tide, with three special antioxidants that work together to remove all trace of rationality.

Fred's Biography: As He Tells It. - Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of For tune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times.

Update: Afghan army arrests 'hundreds' over insider attacks

Monday, September 03, 2012

Two Short Films: Nation of Exiles - Cables from Kabul

I watched these two short films yesterday, I thought I might share them with you.

Nation of Exiles

A short documentary examining the civil unrest in Iran following Ahmadinejad’s re-election in June 2009, and the role of social media in the Green Movement. Featuring Columbia Professor of Iranian History Hamid Dabashi and Poynter Institute’s Ellyn Angelotti.

A characteristic of a strong and legitimate government – Islamic or not – is that it is capable of respecting all opinions, whether they support it or oppose it. This is necessary for any political system, in order to embrace all social classes and encourage them to participate in the affairs of their nation, and not dismiss and repulse them and, therefore, increase their numbers (the opponents) every day. I am afraid that because the regime is considered a religious government, such acts of its officials will lead to the loss of people’s faith in their religion, and will hurt Islam.

The present circumstances and problems that have been created after the elections have astounded the people and made them pessimistic (about their government). They expect the officials, based on their moral and religious teachings, to be neutral and demonstrate their honesty by protecting people’s rights, particularly about such an important issue (the elections). It is expected of the government to find an acceptable and reasonable response to people’s demands, and by using the right approach eliminate people’s pessimism and doubts.

Nation of Exiles from Percival Mosaedi on Vimeo.

Cables from Kabul

Watch a first-hand account of the widespread corruption; get an inside look at the drug trade, rampant child sex abuse, and ever-present Taliban control. All these elements make Afghanistan one of the most frightening and unstable places on earth.

We touch down in Kabul and are treated to Taliban hospitality on the first night: a suicide bomb at a neighboring hotel interrupts a pleasant night’s sleep.

After kicking around pieces of the suicide bomber with local kids, we meet General Farooq Assas, head of the Afghan National Police Force, the kids who are being trained to police the country. At the end of the day, we drink moonshine with an ex-Mujahideen who has a thing for young boys. And they said Kabul would be heavy.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Sweden - Assange: Saying It Like It Is: Naomi Wolf

I think of all the articles that have been written about the skulduggery (or the apparent lack of ) that surrounds the Assange case, there isn't one better in telling us that something is rotten in the state of Denmark Sweden, than this article by feminist Naomi Wolf.

I don't think there is much I need to add, other than perhaps, to mention the startling difference between the style, and let that include honesty, between the style of Wolf's reporting and that of your typical hack whose drivel reflects only that of the editor's/owner's party line.

Oh! and I think I shall decorate the post with a few journo related graphics that have featured in posts past.

Sweden’s Other Rape Suspects
By Naomi Wolf
Aug. 31, 2012

NEW YORK – It is difficult for me, as an advocate against rape and other forms of violence against women, to fathom the laziness and willful ignorance that characterize so much of the media coverage of the sexual-assault allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. To report that we are simply witnessing Swedish justice at work, one must be committed to doing no research – not even the bare minimum of picking up a phone. In fact, we are witnessing a bizarre aberration in the context of Sweden’s treatment of sex crime – a case that exposes the grim reality of indifference, or worse, that victims there and elsewhere face.

If I were raped in Uppsala, where Assange is alleged to have committed his crime, I could not expect top prosecutors to lobby governments to arrest my assailant. On the contrary, “ordinary” Swedish rapists and abusers of women should assume that the police might not respond when called. When I tried the rape-crisis hotline at the government-run Crisis Center for Women in Stockholm, no one even picked up – and there was no answering machine.

According to rape-crisis advocates in Sweden, one-third of Swedish women have been sexually assaulted by the time they leave their teens. Indeed, according to a study published in 2003, and other later studies through 2009, Sweden has the highest sexual-assault rate in Europe, and among the lowest conviction rates.

When I reached the Stockholm branch of Terrafem, a support organization for rape survivors, a volunteer told me that in her many years of experience, Sweden’s police, prosecutors, and magistrates had never mobilized in pursuit of any alleged perpetrator in ways remotely similar to their pursuit of Assange. The far more common scenario – in fact, the only reliable scenario – was that even cases accompanied by a significant amount of evidence were seldom prosecuted.

This, she explained, was because most rapes in Uppsala, Stockholm, and other cities occur when young women meet young men online and go to an apartment, where, as in the allegations in the Assange case, what began as consensual sex turns nonconsensual. But she said that this is exactly the scenario that Swedish police typically refuse to prosecute. Just as everywhere else, Sweden’s male-dominated police, she explained, do not tend to see these victims as “innocent,” and thus do not bother building a case for arrest.

She is right: According to a report by Amnesty International, as of 2008, the number of reported rapes in Sweden had quadrupled in 20 years, but only 20% of cases were ever prosecuted. And, while the prosecution rate constituted a minimal improvement on previous years, when less than 15% of cases ended up in court, the conviction rate for reported rapes “is markedly lower today than it was in 1965.” As a result, “in practice, many perpetrators enjoy impunity.”

Until 2006, women in Uppsala faced a remarkable hurdle in seeking justice: the city’s chief of police, Göran Lindberg, was himself a serial rapist, convicted in July 2010 of more than a dozen charges, including “serious sexual offenses.” One victim testified that she was told her rapist was the police chief, and that she would be framed if she told anyone about his assaults. Lindberg also served as the Police Academy’s spokesman against sexual violence. The Uppsala police force that is now investigating Assange either failed to or refused to investigate effectively the sadistic rapist with whom they worked every day.

In other words, the purported magical Swedish kingdom of female sexual equality, empowerment, and robust institutional support for rape victims – a land, conjured by Swedish prosecutors, that holds much of the global media in thrall – simply does not exist.

(I think you need to be of a certain age to appreciate this one.)

In the Assange case, the Swedish police supported the accusers in legally unprecedented ways – for example, by allowing them to tell their stories together and by allowing testimony from a boyfriend.But other alleged victims of gender-based abuse, sometimes in life-threatening circumstances, typically receive very different treatment.In particular, according to WAVE, a pan-European consortium of service providers for rape and sexual-abuse survivors, when migrants, who comprise 13.8% of Sweden’s population, report rape and abuse, they face high systemic hurdles in even telling their stories to police – including longstanding linguistic barriers in communicating with them at all.

Likewise, Swedish intake centers for victims of male violence are woefully underfunded – like all support services for rape and abuse victims across Europe and North America – leaving many women who face threats to their safety and that of their children waiting for unavailable places in shelters. When I emailed the Rape Crisis support institute in Uppsala, listed by the global rape-crisis organization RAINN, I received an automatic reply saying that the facility was temporarily closed.

So, for most raped Swedish women, the shelters are full, the hotlines inactive, and the police selectively look the other way – that is, unless they are busy chasing down a globally famous suspect.

We have been here before. Last year, when my left-wing colleagues were virtually unanimous in believing the New York Police Department’s narrative of a certain victim and a guilty-before-due-process rapist, I made the same call – to the local rape-crisis center. There, Harriet Lesser, who works every day with victims whose alleged attacker is not the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, confirmed that the official support shown for the victim – in advance of any investigation – was indeed unprecedented.

Let me be clear: I am not saying that Assange, much less Dominique Strauss-Kahn, committed no crime against women. Rather, Assange’s case, as was true with Strauss-Kahn’s, is being handled so differently from how the authorities handle all other rape cases that a corrupted standard of justice clearly is being applied. These aberrations add insult to the injury of women, undefended and without justice, who have been raped in the “normal” course of events – by violent nobodies.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

US is the Worst Police State in the World – By the Numbers

US is the Worst Police State in the World – By the Numbers
by Glen Ford
August 31, 2012

There’s no getting around the fact that the United States is the Mother of All Police States. China can’t compete in the incarceration business. With four times the U.S. population, it imprisons only 70 percent as many people – about the same number as the non-white prison population of the U.S. Even worse, 80,000 U.S. inmates undergo the torture of solitary confinement on any given day.

When U.S. corporate media operatives use the term “police state,” they invariably mean some other country. Even the so-called “liberal” media, from Democracy Now! to the MSNBC menagerie, cannot bring themselves to say “police state” and the “United States” without putting the qualifying words “like” or “becoming” in the middle. The U.S. is behaving “like” a police state, they say, or the U.S. is in danger of “becoming” a police state. But it is never a police state. Since these privileged speakers and writers are not themselves in prison – because what they write and say represents no actual danger to the state – they conclude that a U.S. police state does not, at this time, exist.

Considering the sheer size and social penetration of its police and imprisonment apparatus, the United States is not only a police state, but the biggest police state in the world, by far: the police state against whose dimensions all other police systems on Earth must be measured.

By now, even the most insulated, xenophobic resident of the Nebraska farm belt knows that the U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world. He might not know that 25 percent of prison inmates in the world are locked up in the U.S., or that African Americans comprise one out of every eight of the planet’s prisoners. But, that Nebraska farmer is probably aware that America is number one in the prisons business. He probably approves. God bless the police state.

For the American media, including lots of media that claim to be of the Left, it is axiomatic that China is a police state. And maybe, by some standards, it is. But, according to United Nations figures, China is 87th in the world in the proportion of its people who are imprisoned. China is a billion people bigger than the United States – more than four times the population – yet U.S. prisons house in excess of 600,000 more people than China does. The Chinese prison population is just 70 percent of the American Gulag. That’s quite interesting because, non-whites make up about 70 percent of U.S. prisons. That means, the Black, brown, yellow and red populations of U.S. prisons number roughly the same as all of China’s incarcerated persons. Let me emphasize that: The American People of Color Gulag is as large as the entire prison population of China, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people.

However, police states must be measured by conditions behind the bars, as well as raw numbers of inmates. And, by that standard, the American Gulag is even more monstrous.

Civilized people now recognize that solitary confinement is a form of torture. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, reports that solitary confinement beyond 15 days at a stretch crosses the line of torture, yet, as Al Jazeera recently reported, it is typical for hundred of thousands of U.S. prisoners to spend 30 or 60 days in solitary at a stretch. Twenty thousand are held in perpetual isolation in so-called supermax prisons – that is, they exist in a perpetual state of torture. Studies now show that, all told, 80,000 U.S. prisoners are locked up in solitary on any given day. That’s as many tortured people as the entire prison system of Germany, or of England, Scotland and Wales, combined.

If that is not a police state, then no such thing exists on planet Earth. Common Dreams