Friday, 17 May 2013

Keep A Space for Sagna


It’s my first Arsenal blog in a while today but I was in the writing mood so I’ll compose a few thoughts on one of our most consistent players of the past few seasons: Mr Bacary Sagna.
 
I read that he was the last to depart the pitch on Tuesday night and his waves appeared to be lingering ones. I would fully agree with @LittleDutchVA on his Arseblog column when he said that he’d like to see Jenkinson phased into the team with Sagna there to help the transition. Gunnerblog made a very good observation on Tuesday night when he noticed how Gibbs was “coached through the game by Steve Bould who regularly passed on advice to Gibbs from the touch-line.” I think we can all agree with him that it worked and McManaman was fairly subdued in the game. Gunnerblog went on to say that “Gibb’s positional play and anticipation were as good as I’ve seen him produce.” Remembering how good Sagna was against Sunderland when he was moved into the centre due to injuries, I can only imagine his experience at centre back being a positive were we to keep him for the final year of his contract. I know Merty and Kos are the preferred centre back pairing but if we could persuade him to see out the final year of his deal to help mould Jenks into the brilliant right-back we know he will be that could only be a good thing. He could be that on field coach for the young Jenkinson knowing exactly what's needed having bombed up and down that right flank for his career. I do think our squad now has the right balance of youth and experience and getting one more year from Sagna would be fantastic. The criticism he has received at times this season has been un-warranted. Yes he has made a few mistakes this season but it’s only after 5 years of sterling service. It’s only now I realised he’s only human. But seriously, with abs like the ones in the picture above you can be forgiven for thinking he wasn’t human! Super ability coupled with such impressive determination meant that no cause was lost if it was on Sagna’s radar. I remember this goal saving clearance like it was yesterday! Supreme determination! 

One leg break, let alone two, are difficult injuries to return from. But return he did and he’s rarely if never given less than 100% for the team. His recent error against Man United led to a double error such was his determination to make up for the first error. That’s determination to right a wrong. We all know over determination can lead to two wrongs but I forgive when there’s 100% dedication and commitment to the cause by the player. My belief in his ability to shift from right to centre back is one that comes from watching Thuram make a similar move from right back to centre back while playing for Juventus. Like Sagna, Thuram was a top quality right back, quick in the tackle, strong and his reading of the game was fantastic. All the skills which are necessary to make the move to centre back. 
Keeping this attitude and player in the squad can only be a positive for Arsenal for next season. This season has been a very tough one and we’ve no one to blame for its toughness as it was caused solely by ourselves during the early part of the season. But look at our form since January. If we can continue with this newly found grit and determination into next season, coupled with a few offensive additions I believe we are looking at an Arsenal side capable of challenging for the title. In my view, Sagna could be a big part of this. No Arsenal fan can forgot thee defining gritty and determined goal of the last couple of seasons!






BOOMPH! What a header! What's that? From another angle you say? No problem!


Shiver me timbers! That was a goal



 Obviously it is all dependent on what the man himself wants but he's been a fantastic player for us since 2007 and I'd show the same determination to keep him as he has shown on his right wing since he first sprinted up it



My Tribute to the Commander


I meant to post this a few days ago and it slipped my mind so apologies for the late and brief tribute Commander!
So the legend that is Commander Hadfield has left the International Space Station. The man who brought us into orbit with him and shared so many wonderful glimpses of our beautiful Earth has returned to terra firma and he should be returning to a lot of gratitude from all of us. I personally was lucky enough to have my home county featured on one of his flyovers. Even more amazingly he got us without cloud. Something that led me to believe he photoshopped his image! This website is amazing.  Kudos to the people who mapped out his pictures into lovely drop down options. From what I can tell, via Dara O’Briain, it was this guy that mapped it out so a big thank you to him!
The Commander is one lucky man however. Even in this day and age he has bosses that evidently don’t have a clue about social media. Their employee was up in space tweeting, playing space sounds on Soundcloud and ‘Youtube-ing’ to his heart’s content! Did the man get any actual work done up there I wonder?! How many billions in working hours did he cost his employers? Actually, now that I think of it, I’m glad the Commander is back. Hopefully the next Commander of the International Space Station actually does some work up there and gets off the Twitterer and Facebuk or whatever they’re called. IT’S NOT A HOLIDAY CAMP SPACE PEOPLE.
On a more serious note, in the last number of years, we have seen the United States decimate its funding of NASA while its military budget is ever increasing: both are to the detriment of humanity. Not only is NASA’s core budget cut for sending shuttles to space, its outreach program is also being destroyed. Commander Hadfield should act as an inspiration to governments around the globe to quit both cuts to education and austerity measures and pump money into science and education. It should be noted the interest this man garnered from the Earth’s populace. Imagine a new age of cooperation among nations and a space race that was not about one country winning, but everyone. Just imagine the technologies that could be invented due to massive investment in new research and people. Look at the jump humanity took when NASA was receiving a mere 4% of the US’ Federal budget in the 1960’s. Sadly since then, NASA’s budget has continuously shrunk. It didn’t even receive half a percent of total Federal funds this year. That is criminal. I mean compare it to the funds the Energy Corporations receive. Massive, profit making, tax avoiding, Earth polluting, energy companies. The figures are terrible.
Upon landing (and at the time of writing) he had amassed 969,338 Twitter followers. Imagine if we could get more people in such wonderfully privileged positions to engage so wonderfully with the general populace. Give people proper role models in life with proper aspirational goals. You would hope that stories like this are true and that he does inspire more and more people to dream about space. That can only have a knock on effect in terms of funding and humanities evolution as a species.
Of course there can’t be many people who didn’t see or at least know about his amazing penultimate departure day serenade! David Bowie’s Space Oddity never looked so good and with over six million views – the world agrees! Can you imagine having written that song, how awesome it must have been to have it performed so fantastically by an actual astronaut?! Actual space footage to go with your words? It sent chills through me watching that video and listening to the words! The Commander has inspired us and governments should ride this wave of inspiration and drive ourselves on for a new scientific age.
I mean when you glimpse at a selection of his best photos it is truly awe inspiring to think of the possibilities for better understanding our planet and its wonders.
So for reminding me of just how amazing our home, Earth, is and just how lucky I am to have a chance at living on this planet, I humbly thank thee.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Musical Mutterings: Encore un Fois


This week I’ve been utilising my Spotify to hear some splendidly eclectic music.  Public Service Broadcasting possibly stood out for me. They’re a London based duo according to Last.fm who remix up old TV sound bites and for good measure, they mish mash banjo, guitar, drums and electronic into the mix. Really unique sound I have to say. I like a bit of the old spoken word, Gil-Scott Heron being one of those that tickles my fancy, but this was something uniquely different. Lit Up commences with a lovely melodic intro which leads into the following broadcast: “Once again we’re taking you on board HMS Nelson for a description of the scene at Spider Head [I couldn’t pick up the exact name] tonight by Lieutenant Commander Thomas Woodrum…….. At the present moment the whole fleet is lit up…."

The crackling of the broadcast, the voices of the past, the music of the present lends to a really nice ambiance of sound, if that makes any sense! They’re playing in Cork on May 30th and if anyone is reading this from Cork, I’d highly recommend going to Cypress Avenue to check them out. Ironically I’ll be in where their base is, London, on that night. Quite annoyed at that. In the Guardian’s G2 magazine on May 3rd, they described how Public Service Broadcasting perform before a bank of old TV sets showing manipulated footage from the films they get their sound bytes from. Reminds me of both British Sea Power and God Is An Astronaut. Should make for an interesting gig.

I listened to their Spotify sampler and the six tracks available on it were all impressive. I liked Everest a lot. It was a fast paced, lively song. I think it’s at the top of my shopping list when I get a bit of money again. Check them out anyway.

This week I also listened to and was glad I found a wonderful band called Haiku Salut. Their album Tricoloure is a lovely light, floatsy glide along album. Their use of accordions, ukeleles, glockenspiels, pianos, loopery and laptopery (last.fm’s description) makes for a splendidly different album. You honestly don’t know what to expect from one song to the next. You listen to a rock album, you expect rock. You listen to this, you honestly don’t know where it’s bringing you but you trustingly go along for the journey and it does not disappoint you. Beautifully uplifting, there’s a zest to the album that I haven’t heard in a debut album before. Sounds Like There’s a Pacman Crunching Away at Your Heart typifies the album. It sounds like it could be a sad, crushing song of despair, of lost love, but it’s a beauty of a song. I urge a listen. Leaf Stricken is just something totally different following on. It’s the laptopery, loopy stuff described before but strangely it just fits right in. Not expecting or anticipating any particular journey when listening to this album is a major plus. The different sounds they fit in add to the incredible musical journey Haiku Salut offer. Again – definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

Otherwise I spent a bit of time making up a 20 track, fast rock playlist. Check it out and let me know what you think!



Thursday, 7 February 2013

My Response to Mr. Hopper

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My apologies this response is a bit late but better to destroy non-factual and ridiculous arguments later than never!

So in a response to Ruth Dudley Edwards absurd blog there arrived this supporting beauty posted on January 28th. I honestly didn’t think anything could beat Richard Humphries article in the Irish Independent but Mr. Hopper’s does.

To defeat his argument entirely and to save you from absolute boredom, I (and you dear reader) need not go past the title. [I did venture past the title and decided nothing in it was worth responding to as it did not make Ireland any more or less unique than any other country in the world. I let the facts speak for themselves in a few lines time] For Mr. Hopper to begin as he did with such an inaccurate statement in the title - “ancient hatreds” – was ridiculous. What ancient hatreds sir? There was a so-called ‘pogrom’ in Limerick in 1904 and from the research I conducted I found nothing of serious note. A boycott against Jewish business organised by a young Redemptionist Catholic priest [crazy warning number 1] by the name of John Creagh  which unfortunately forced the Jewish population from their homes in Limerick where many fled to Cork and they were welcomed into peoples own homes. That in itself was a blessing. Have you been to Limerick?* It was a embarrassing and disgusting period in Catholic Limerick history, not Irish history. Irish Protestants in Limerick supported the Jewish people in Limerick, Corkonians welcomed them into their homes when the Jewish people decided they (understandably) had to leave Limerick.

To quote from a letter sent to the Jerusalem Post by a retired History teacher, Leonard Hurley, I give you a small timeline of Irish Jewish relations:

“Daniel O’Connell, the “Liberator,” was responsible for the Catholic emancipation in 1829, but Honig failed to mention that he rejected anti-Semitism and in 1846, in the House of Commons, helped repeal the law, De Judaismo, which discriminated against Jews. O’Connell stated: “Ireland has claims on your ancient race, it is the only country that I know of unsullied by any one act of persecution against the Jews.”

Our [Mr. Hurley’s] church is called the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church, and buried on the grounds is Msgr. Hugh O’Flaherty. O’Flaherty was given the title Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government for the work he did in saving many Jews in Rome during the war.

Many other Irish historical figures, including Michael Davitt and John Redmond, rejected anti-Semitism. Redmond stated: “Race hatred is at best an unreasoning passion.”

Both Dublin and Cork have had Jewish lord mayors, and all political parties, including the present government, have Jews in senior positions.

Of course, you will find anti- Semitism in Ireland, but you will also find anti-Irish sentiment if you look for it in other countries.

But the claim that Ireland has a history of anti-Semitism is based on one disgraceful episode and therefore is factually incorrect.

I suggest that Honig visit the subject again and this time focus on the positive.”

Lastly I will add one more point: You’ll notice Mr Hurley said definitively that what happened in Limerick was a pogrom. I personally said ‘so-called’ pogrom in my paragraph above because in 2010 “the new Israeli ambassador, Boaz Modai, speaking at the Jewish cemetery in Castletroy said: "I think it [the ‘pogrom’] is a bit over-portrayed, meaning that, usually if you look up the word pogrom it is used in relation to slaughter and being killed. This is what happened in many other places in Europe, but this is not what happened here. There was a kind of a boycott against Jewish merchandise for a while, but that's not a pogrom. That's something that is, unfortunately, a bad mark for the history of this city, but I don't think it is something anyone should pay more attention to than it deserves."

So Mr. Hopper, Ms. Dudley Edwards, Mr. Humphries and anyone thinking they made any argument of sense, desist from your attempts to stir shit due to some silly, silly peoples unfounded garbling and ill informed writing. I am all for reasoned debate about proper issues in regard to Israel and Ireland and actual anti-Semitism but your articles about my country and its people were totally inaccurate and your smears laughable.










*Limerick people reading this – I jest! Don’t do anything mad now


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

In Response to Ruth Dudley Edwards


I’ll start by admitting I don’t know who Ruth Dudley Edwards is but her blog yesterday caught my attention for its content. Her title was certainly meant to catch the attention of people by being entitled ‘The Jews Crucified Our Lord: Irish Anti-Semitism and the Complicity of the Catholic Bishops’.

I write this blog today for a number of reasons, albeit in no particular order:
1) To challenge the notion that Ireland is anti Semitic. It has seemingly been dubbed by the Israeli foreign ministry the most anti Israeli and anti Semetic country in Europe
2) To challenge some of the opinions that various journalists and writers have in their variously linked pieces stemming from Ms. Edwards piece.
3) To offer reasons as to why Ireland is suited to analysing this complex issue
4) To offer my own thoughts on the matter

The aim of this piece is to try and be brief but to document with clear evidence why I believe Ms. Edwards blog and it’s linked articles are so factually incorrect, that they merited this response.

If being able to recognise when abuse is being perpetrated on a colonised people is Anti Semitic and anti Israeli behaviour then I’m afraid I too am guilty as smeared. I come from a country that has a little bit of history with its neighbour, the United Kingdom, who to this day still has in its grasp of a part of the island of Ireland. As a nation, the Irish were colonised and occupied for over 800 years. Our darkest moment in our militarised history one could argue, was in the 17th century when a certain Oliver Cromwell arrived on our shores in 1649 to reconquer Ireland after the Irish Rebellion of 1641. His brief sojourn here resulted in the Irish population being decimated by 15-25% (Padraig Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War, p112) (exact figures are difficult to obtain for obvious reasons). Massacres and atrocities in Droghada and Wexford and destruction of food supplies later on in the Parliamentarians war led to famine. This famine helped exacerbate the bubonic plague which by then had hit Ireland. So you can see in a very brief synopsis that Ireland too has suffered at the hands of an occupying force and that is why we not only sympathise, but also try to help the Palestinian cause. I feel we are quite suited using the lessons that history gave us to analyse what Israel currently does today.

I do agree with the part of Ms. Edwards’ blog where she writes about Sarah Honig and a visit she had to Cahersiveen Co. Kerry and the disgust that she felt when she spoke to the teenagers collecting for a ‘Free Palestine’. Their answer that Palestine was to be freed from ‘the Jews’ was disgusting. I hope that Sarah Honig made a complaint to the headmaster of the school about the phrasing and educational methods used by their teacher. However there my agreement stops. Ms. Edwards doesn’t mention that the teenagers knew what some of the money might be used for as Ms. Honig explains in her article:
I pressed on: “Do you know where your money would go? “The boys: “To plant olive trees.”
So while they know what the money might be used for, whom they have been taught by needs to revise their belief that Palestine needs to be freed from ‘the Jews’.

Sarah Honig began her article by saying the following:
“There, in the tiny town of Cahersiveen, my doubting compatriots would have been reminded of what we face in the international community and why it has nothing much to do with how liberally we conduct ourselves, how many confidence- building concessions we make at the expense of our physical safety or how much we sacrifice of our rights to our historic homeland.”
I was not too surprised to read the self glowing report she bestowed upon her nation but I really have to take up a few points with her!

Firstly Ms. Honig, you say that Israel currently conducts itself liberally? Really? How about we ask some Ethiopian Women of Jewish descent how they might feel about that statement. 

The Independent notes that “nearly 100,000 Ethiopian Jews have moved to Israel under the Law of Return since the 1980s, but their Jewishness has been questioned by some rabbis. Last year, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the health portfolio, warned that illegal immigrants from Africa “threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state””

So Mr. Netanyahu links Ethiopian Jews to the separate issue of illegal immigrants?! This acting liberally includes questioning the Jewishness of seemingly black immigrants by rabbis does it? Interesting I’ve never read the same questions in regard to American Jews.

Not a good start for you.

Confidence- building concessions”

Which concessions would those be Ms. Honig? Would those be the concessions made after the last military incursion into Gaza that Israel has broken not long after the cease-fire was announced

I’m not personally sure how you can build confidence from being in a big warship and forcing fishermen in tiny boats to submit to your will by confiscating their only means of making a living. Your confidence comes from others suffering. Plain and simple – that’s bullying. How do fishermen impact on your physical safety? Investigating what other people have written in the Jerusalem Post opens ones eyes a bit more to the worldview of that paper. 

At the beginning of the last Gaza intrusion Gilad Sharon wrote:
“The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences,” wrote Sharon. He went on to elaborate:
We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.
There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.
Were this to happen, the images from Gaza might be unpleasant – but victory would be swift, and the lives of our soldiers and civilians spared.
Sharon added that “There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.”
(cited from here )

What you face when you meet the people living in the international community Ms. Honig, is growing anger at the blatant illegal Israeli behaviour. The US shields you at every possible opportunity from UN action with its Security Council vote. It shields you from criticism by threatening countries leaders that if they do anything that it deems to be against Israeli interests there will be consequences. See Palestine and their recent visit to the UN seeking observer status for a glaring example. What happens when you exit the darkness and enter reality is that the sun shines brightest because you are unused to the light, or in this case the truth. The people are aware of what Israel is doing even if your politicians and a lot of ours do not wish to acknowledge it. You state with no obvious irony that “there’s powerful predisposition against us. It’s not fueled by our behavior, because nobody knows much about how we behave and nobody cares to learn.” 
That my dear writer, is a lie! The real concern we should have is that when people do learn the truth about what you are doing and do care to learn, it turns into a question of who can scream ‘Anti-Semite’ the loudest. The truest thing you said in your article was that “facts are irrelevant.” I certainly believe you when it comes to Israeli politicians and your politics. Don’t believe me? Then please feast your eyes on this

Oh how the Zionists would love a war with Iran. Sure haven’t they been peddling the nuclear ambitions of Iran since 1979.

Or was it 1992

My apologies. It was 1995



I don’t know about you but I am insanely fearful even just researching all these warnings. Especially as they get closer and closer

And for comic effect sure I might as well link to the last one.

You were possibly right about one other thing - decent folks don’t dissent. The best folk do. And we have some of those here. Along with decent and bad. The same as everywhere really.

Returning to Ms. Edwards blog, she turns her attention to the Irish charity Trocaire and references an article by Richard Humphries in the Irish Independent

Where. To. Start.

Mr. Humphries writes in regard to Trocaire saying “that their campaign asks the Irish Government and the EU to ban goods from Israeli settlements from entering the EU ‘because they are illegal’ and because these goods are labelled as ‘produce of Israel’. Well I suppose Trocaire's concern for correct consumer labelling is to be commended but it is hardly the key reason for a boycott.”

Mr. Humphries – if something is illegal under international law and under the UN Resolution 446 the Security Council determined: "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East" and the Resolution was adopted by 12 votes to none, with 3 abstentions from Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America – if this is not enough to persuade you that the BDS movement is one of the strongest ways to get Israel to pay attention to their illegalities – then I am sorry for you. It hasn’t been just a year since that resolution, not ten, but twenty three years have passed since that resolution Mr. Humphries and the illegal settlements keep on coming.

A brief point on your comment regarding the recent Gaza attack, you said “It's as if Israel decided to attack Gaza just for the sheer hell of it.” Em….. not for the hell of it, but as admitted by the UK’s chief rabbi Lord Sacks “I think it has got to do with Iran, actually.” 

As the Telegraph article noted, what was amazing is that when Sarah Montague, who was clearly concerned that Lord Sacks did not seem to know his remarks were still being broadcast, could be heard to whisper: “We, we’re live,” it was amazing that Lord Sacks then swiftly adopted a more formal broadcasting manner and suggested the crisis demanded “a continued prayer for peace, not only in Gaza but for the whole region”.
“No-one gains from violence. Not the Palestinians, not the Israelis. This is an issue here where we must all pray for peace and work for it,” he said.

Truth outs in the end Mr. Humphries.

Returning again to you Ms. Edwards, I feel the silly need to point out that there is a reason, as I have attempted to show, why Mr. Humphries is one the few dissenting voices in Ireland when it comes to Israel. He’s certainly a worthwhile ally in ignorance of facts. Especially when he makes such inherently insufferable claims like “you don't need to be much of a lawyer to know that when it comes to political debate, words like "illegal in international law" or "war crimes" are often used as if these were proven matters of fact rather than, as they sometimes are, tendentious and biased opinions.”  I mean I’m not much of a lawyer since I didn’t study law, but when I’m not something, I search for someone who is. Someone. Or eight of someone. Whatever:

“We have found strong indications of violations of the laws of war and possible war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip. We are particularly concerned that most of the weapons that were found used in the 27 December assault on Gaza are US-made and supplied. We believe that Israel’s use of these weapons may constitute a violation of US law, and particularly the Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act.” 

 - Huwaida Arraf (New York, Washington DC), Noura Erekat (Washington DC), James Marc Leas (Vermont), Linda Mansour (Ohio), Rose Mishaan (California), Thomas Nelson (Oregon), Radhika Sainath (California) and Reem Salahi (California).a delegation of eight American lawyers, members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in the United States.

As I previously cited, Israeli settlements are against international law. So you know. Evidence. Proof.  Humphries + you: nailed.

In closing, I will point to the old saying ‘takes one to know one’. South Africa was a recognised apartheid state and a recent delegation from South Africa that visited Palestine had the following powerful paragraph in their press release:

“Being South African, it felt like walking into another apartheid ambush. We witnessed violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law on so many levels – the multiple Israeli house demolitions, the discriminatory Israeli legal system, the daily intimidation of Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Forces, the Israeli Apartheid Wall and its associated regime of restrictions on movement and access for Palestinians, the damage to Palestinian olive groves, the imprisonment of a large percentage of Palestinians including children, the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian water and land, the closure of previously bustling Palestinian streets and businesses, separate pavements for Israelis and Palestinians and a system whereby the colour of Palestinian vehicles’ number plates restrict them to certain roads.”
Cited from here 

Politically South Africa is taking one of the strongest stands against the apartheid regime in Israel. The ANC recently adopted resolution 35 (c) stating: “The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.” 

I think I can safely trust their opinion on a matter of political abuse that they themselves suffered from.

To finish, let me say that I do not think Israel is the worst human rights offender in the Middle East. Another of the USA’s allies, Saudi Arabia, can have that award. But Israel is not the beacon of human rights that it likes to portray itself to be and actions like today for example, in refusing to show up for their obligatory four year rights review in the UN do them absolutely no favours. But then again, their actions speak louder than any words. Google African migrants Tel Aviv to see some of the hatred being spewed there against immigrants currently. It’s truly sickening. We all have our struggles with rights, decency and morals. Do not pretend Israel is above that or above criticism. Ireland may not be perfect, but we are not an Anti-Semitic nation. We just are one of the nations that believes Israel should be held accountable for the crimes it has committed and believes Israel should abide by the international laws we do. Part of our human obligation is to recognise the suffering of others and to try and do something about it.

By having people like you and Mr. Humphries aid Israel in ignoring their responsibilities in international law and supporting them, you enable them put up wonderful images like this on their Irish Embassy FaceBook page:



 Imagine the uproar if the Palestinian consulate put up a belittling image on their Irish Facebook page.

So to conclude, if Israel thinks my country is the most anti-Israel in Europe for its people not kowtowing to an Israeli only narrative and that my country is the most Anti-Semitic for having its people dare to challenge illegal settlements on Palestinian land and asking for a ‘Free Palestine’, then please. Go ahead. Smear me. Make my day. The evidence above points to a different truth.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

My open letter to a person of influence regarding Julian Assange


To:

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD,
Department of the Taoiseach,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion Street,
Dublin 2

Dear Mr. Kenny,

                        I write to you today as one of the “engaged citizens” [1] that José Manuel Barroso lauded Ireland for having in his speech launching the European Year of Citizens and I write to you today as a student of History, Politics and Criminology regarding an issue which concerns all subjects.

I also write to you today on behalf of issues such as transparency in politics, trust between politicians and the people and I write to you on behalf of a mother who has urged people who care about this case to write to people in a position of power who can help influence the current situation her innocent son finds himself in.

I will present to you today, a case that needs urgent investigation and I believe that as Taoiseach in Ireland’s current role as President of the European Council, you are placed precisely in a role to investigate this matter.

In this the European Year of the Citizen we have in our midst a man who is being kept illegally in the Ecuadorian embassy by the United Kingdom and Sweden. He has had to stay there since August after the UK denied him safe passage to Ecuador after being granted political asylum. In the case I present to you today, I will present the evidence as to why you must investigate and act as a matter of urgency on this man’s behalf. The evidence will clearly demonstrate why you must question both the UK and Sweden on their ulterior motives in regard to Mr. Julian Assange.

Why Should We Be So Concerned?

Without going into every little background detail on Wikileaks, Julian Assange and the countries involved, I will bring to your attention the most concerning issues regarding the situation and talk about why, using available evidence, this issue needs addressing now.

Sweden:

Sweden today says that it can’t extradite people to the US because of European Law. That has not stopped the following instances of extraordinary renditions involving Sweden, foreign nationals and its own citizens:
In 2001, Sweden allowed the CIA to extraordinarily rendition two Egyptian’s who were deemed to be terrorists to Mubarek’s Egypt. They did this even though extraditing people to countries known to be engaged in torture is against international law.[2]

The Swedish government also kept the CIA's role in the case a secret for more than three years. Then, in 2004, following unofficial reports of the rendition, it released documents showing that a U.S.-registered plane had been used to transport the Egyptians to Cairo but said the details were classified. It wasn't until March, when the parliamentary investigator released his findings that the CIA's direct involvement was publicly confirmed. [3]

In 2012, Sweden allowed the US to detain two of its citizens, of Somali descent, in Somalia. Despite Swedish diplomats being allowed to visit the men, there was absolutely no protest or objection by Sweden to the illegal rendering of their citizens. Indeed the Washington Post quoted them as saying “authorities in Sweden and Britain had monitored the three men for years as they travelled back and forth to Somalia, but neither country assembled enough evidence to press criminal charges.”
The Washington Post wrote that “U.S. agents accused the men — two of them Swedes, the other a longtime resident of Britain — of supporting al-Shabab, an Islamist militia in Somalia that Washington considers a terrorist group. Two months after their arrest, the prisoners were secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York, then clandestinely taken into custody by the FBI and flown to the United States to face trial.”[4]

Did you notice the mention of those two European countries again in the Washington Post’s article – Britain and Sweden? Well here is what Asim Qureshi, a spokesman for human rights charity Cageprisoners, had to say regarding the British resident: 'We believe that because of the problems that the UK Government has had with deportations and extraditions, it has been easier for them to remove the citizenship of individuals, thus allowing them to be victims of rendition by third-party countries.'[5] On January 18th it emerged that a British court will hear Mr. Hashi's case to restore his British passport.

Regarding Swedish political interference in Julian Assange’s case, please look at the series of statements made by members of the Swedish Executive and government officials on the Assange case cited[6] from a letter written by Australian Green Party Senator Scott Ludlam to Senator Bob Carr, Australia’s Foreign Minister.

Such executive commentary in Sweden, or indeed any European country, compromises the democratic principle of separation of the executive from judicial processes and is prejudicial and therefore jeopardises the potential for a fair trial.

For these reasons I respectfully request that representations be made to the Swedish government noting and regretting the potential damaging nature of these statements made about an Australian citizen, requesting their retraction or at the very least cessation.

11 February 2011 – The Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt mistakenly stated that Assange had been charged. The statement was never officially retracted.[7]

25 January 2012 – Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, criticised Assange on Swedish national radio one week before Assange’s Supreme Court case was heard in the UK. Reinfeldt stated that Julian Assange’s criticisms of abuses by the Swedish system in his case were not legitimate and were a strategy to avoid extradition. The full interview is available at the cited link.[8]

February 2012 – Foreign Minister Carl Bildt makes statements on Assange via Twitter[9] [10]

8 February 2012 – In a parliamentary address the Prime Minister Reinfeldt said that “we do not accept sexual abuse or rape” and said that Assange and his lawyers had little regard for women’s rights. Mr Assange’s barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC, said Mr Reinfeldt had also “accused Mr Assange of claiming women’s rights are worthless”.

15 August 2012 – Swedish Minister of Social Affairs Göran Hägglund issued a series of tweets: ”Sick. A coward who does not dare to have his case tried by the court. If the accusations against him are true, he is a lowlife.” None of these statements have been retracted.[11] Please see the citation for a longer version of the entire Twitter conversation.[12]

In a statement given to Expressen later that week, The Minister called Assange a “coward” and a “pitiful wretch” for taking refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy. “Assange is a very cowardly person who does not dare confront the charges against him.”[13]

18 August 2012 – the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a tweet, presumably arguing why Assange cannot be questioned in London: “You do not dictate the terms if you are a suspect. Get it?”[14]

While the comments of journalists, particularly those writing for Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen and Aftonbladet are beyond the control of the government, statements made by senior officials have contributed to providing a permissive environment for blatantly offensive aggression towards Assange in the Swedish press, a few examples of which are also provided below.

22 February 2012 – Expressen publishes a story – entirely false as it turns out – that Wikileaks threatens to publish an internal memo that will reveal Carl Bildt as an informant for the US. This causes Bildt to make hostile public statements on his blog. Wikileaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson puts the matter to rest but not before a great deal of destructive and malicious commentary is made in the Swedish press.[15] [16] [17] [18]

29 February 2012 – Sweden’s largest daily, Dagens Nyheter, called Assange “paranoid”, and a “querulant”. [19]

14 March 2012 – Aftonbladet’s prominent journalist Martin Aagård called Assange an, “Australian pig”. ”There are many good reasons to criticize Assange. One of them is that he’s a repugnant swine.”[20]

24 April 2011 – Jan Guillou stated in Aftonbladet that regardless of, “whether Assange is guilty or not – he’s still an unprincipled disgusting little creep”, adding ”and now I’m holding back”.[21]

16 August 2012 – Aftonbladet columnist Oisín Cantwell characterised Assange as a ”coward”, a ”creep”, a ”white-haired crackpot” and an ”asshole” because he would rather request asylum from Ecuador than face extradition to Sweden.[22]

18 August 2012 – TV journalist Jenny Strömstedt stated in Expressen that Assange should be put on display in a glass cage at Ecuador’s London embassy for the next fifteen years ”so that anyone willing to pay entrance can watch his aging struggles”.[23]

Rhetoric like the above is hardly conducive to constructive discourse or any sort of fair hearing Taoiseach.

The United States:

With regard to the United States, this is a country that previously openly said[24]  
that they were not after Mr. Assange. Why then in 2010 did Vice President Joe Biden describe Julian Assange as a “high tech terrorist”?[25]  And why when asked by David Gregory if the United States was doing anything to stop Wikileaks and Mr. Assange did Vice President Biden say “we’re looking at that right now”.[26]  Why Taoiseach, has there been a secret grand jury actively investigating Wikileaks for 857 days at the time of writing?

Karl Rove said that he feels Julian Assange is “a criminal who ought to be hunted down, grabbed and put on trial.”[27]  Karl Rove was from 2009 until 2011 at least, an advisor to the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt[28] who as you read above, has no problem openly stating his opinions regarding Mr. Assange.

Mitch McConnell who is the US Senate Minority leader said (also in 2010) on Meet the Press that Mr. Assange “needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and if that becomes a problem, we need to …. to change the law”[29] and that was not mere rhetoric. In December 2010 the so-called Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination (Shield) Bill was thus introduced by Congressman Peter King and Senator Joe Lieberman to prosecute Mr. Assange.[30]

Here I have what is a link to the bill.[31]

Lastly, why do leaked emails from the US intelligence firm Stratfor clearly confirm that the US has a sealed indictment on Julian? Were you aware that this Indictment cannot be served until Julian Assange is in prison? Say for example, in Sweden?

Taoiseach, since WikiLeaks began publishing leaked US diplomatic cables in 2010, the US government has made clear its intention to prosecute Mr. Assange:

On 29 November 2010, US Attorney-General, Eric Holder, announced “an active, ongoing criminal investigation’ into Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks.
US officials told the Australian Embassy in Washington that the investigation is   “unprecedented in both its scale and nature”.
The existence of a secret grand jury convened in West Virginia for the purpose of indicting Mr. Assange has been confirmed by the publication of subpoenas compelling witnesses to testify before it.

A transcribed record of courtroom proceedings for alleged whistle-blower, Private Bradley Manning, reveals that the FBI currently has a file on WikiLeaks that is “42,135 pages or 3,475 documents”, excluding grand jury testimony.

Now tell me that the US is not interested in prosecuting Mr. Assange.

The journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote that “over the last decade, the US government - under both parties - has repeatedly accused people of being Terrorists and punished them as Terrorists who were nothing of the sort. Whether due to gross error or more corrupt motives, the Executive Branch and its various intelligence and military agencies have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that their mere accusation that someone is a Terrorist - unproven with evidence and untested by any independent tribunal - is definitively unreliable.”[32]

Why are we still trusting their words? As you’ve seen previously with the two Somali’s – if the US deems you to be any type of terrorist they believe they can rendition and prosecute you.

As you can see from the US’ political responses, the charges against Mr. Assange are of a most serious political nature. Why else after Marianne Ny allowed him to leave Sweden in 2010 would all these issues arise? Mr. Assange himself has the answer: “I stayed five weeks in Sweden, was given permission to leave. I published Cablegate & got an INTERPOL warrant.”


The United Kingdom:

Finally regarding the UK, the Foreign Office has said that "on the case of Mr. Julian Assange, the foreign secretary told [the Ecuadorian] Minister Patino that the UK was under an obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden.[33]

Isn’t it funny how in 2000, Jack Straw, then the UK’s Home Secretary took his decision not to extradite General Pinochet to Spain under a section of the 1989 Extradition act which requires him not to extradite an alleged offender if he believes it would be "unjust or oppressive" to do so.

Indeed it is well known that this decision was taken on medical grounds, although it may be done on others, such as that the offence was trivial or the accusations were not made in good faith, or because of the passage of time since the alleged offences.
The home secretary's discretion not to surrender someone after the magistrate has committed them for extradition is wide. He is required to consider the personal circumstances of the alleged offender and any new evidence since the committal.[34] I agree absolutely with President Correa when he says that Britain's failure to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet more than a decade ago means it has no right to lecture others over the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He continued “Pinochet was not extradited for humanitarian reasons, when there were dozens of Europeans and thousands of Latin Americans who were murdered, and tens of thousands of people were tortured during the Pinochet dictatorship,” he told reporters in Quito.
Pinochet was arrested by British police at a hospital in London in 1998 after Spain demanded his extradition for alleged torture and murder, including of Spanish citizens, during his 1973-1990 rule.
The British government decided in 2000 that the frail Pinochet was unfit to stand trial and free to fly home.[35]

So are we to understand that it is to be one rule for an innocent, award winning, transparency seeking citizen of the world, another for a US installed, murderous dictator?

To reiterate the FACT: The UK Government can and has previously overruled court decided Extraditions.

We are at a point now Taoiseach where Sweden has refused to question Mr. Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Julian has not refused to answer any allegations that he has been accused of. What he has refused to do, is travel without any guarantees for his safety and without any guarantee that Sweden will not hand him over to the US. Why have they not been able to offer this simple guarantee Taoiseach? Can Ireland in its role as President of the European Council get an answer for all of us who seek answers to this extreme injustice?


Why are Julian Assange and WikiLeaks different?

I’m now going to list some of the awards that Wikileaks and Julian Assange have won in their role as journalists:

Julian won The Economist magazine’s Freedom of Expression Award in 2008.

Julian won the Amnesty UK Media Award in 2009 for the “Cry of Blood” report into extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Kenya

In 2010, Julian was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence (regarding the Iraq War Logs) On the panel that day? Retired senior US Military and Intelligence Officers no less.

In 2011 Julian Assange won a Wakely Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.

Also in 2011, Assange won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. The awarders of the prize noted that “He is brave, determined and independent and a true agent of people not power… [WikiLeaks'] goal of justice through transparency is in the oldest and finest tradition of journalism.”

And finally in 2011, Mr. Assange was awarded[36] the Sydney Peace Foundation's gold medal for "exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights". The Sydney Peace Foundation has only awarded 4 Gold Medals in 16 years, with Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama being 2 of the other 3 recipients.

On February 3rd this year, Julian will receive (in absentia) the Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award in New York; The Centre for Constitutional Reform's Michael Ratner and Judge Garzon will accept this on his behalf.

And may I point out that Wikileaks has a perfect record regarding information reliability. No Government has denied the authenticity of any documents.[37]

The only ‘crime’ Wikileaks and Julian Assange could be accused of is releasing ‘treasonous truths’. Well let me say that the truth should never be considered treasonous. In an age where politics is at a low ebb and José Manuel Barroso has admitted that politicians need “to earn [the peoples] trust more than ever”[38] – this is your chance to earn peoples trust and admiration the world over.

Now Taoiseach, you might ask “well why doesn’t Mr. Assange face justice for his alleged crimes in Sweden? Why if he is innocent, does he not return to Sweden to face his accusers?” Well you have previously read the beliefs and attitudes of the Swedish executive and as one of my heroes in life, Arsene Wenger, said in a speech to sports journalist students “We have moved to a ‘media' society, from a rational to an emotional society, opinions spread quickly.”[39]

He could have made that comment to any school of journalists. The opinions of the Swedish executive were put out in the public sphere concerning Mr. Assange after his release of US Government files showing the illegal actions of the US government. Please, let me offer you some facts on the case Taoiseach so you may see for yourself why a return to Sweden is not currently possible:

Firstly, If extradited to Sweden, Julian Assange will be immediately placed in solitary confinement, incommunicado, despite the fact that he has yet to be charged[40] with a crime. This treatment can be seen in the recent case[41] of Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm.

You may also be asking ‘Is Julian Assange avoiding questioning by the Swedish prosecution’?

Julian Assange has offered to be questioned in London for over two years, and continues to offer[42] such to this day. Questioning someone in another country is a standard EU legal procedure,[43] which Sweden used just last year for an alleged murderer.[44]

The Swedish prosecutor offers no reason[45] as to why she will not question Mr Assange in London.

The Swedish case is very strange Taoiseach. The case was initially closed, then reopened by another prosecutor.[46]

The interview of one complainant was not recorded,[47] despite the fact that interviews with all other persons were recorded. A condom submitted as evidence by the other complainant contained no DNA[48] from Mr Assange.

So to reiterate a FACT: The only conditions Sweden will accept to interview Julian is if he is first in indefinite detention in Sweden. Why Taoiseach?

These are just a few examples of the peculiar conduct of the investigation.

You might also question the changing relationship of the mainstream media and how they’ve turned against Wikileaks and Mr Assange. I urge you to look at the slowly changing attitudes of the New York Times[49] and the LA Times.[50]

The reason? During a recent court hearing in Bradley Manning’s trial, the journalist Kevin Gosztola recorded the following line of questioning that happened:

Judge: if we substituted the New York Times for WikiLeaks, would you still charge Bradley Manning in the way that you have?
Without hesitation the Government answered “yes.”[51]

This is the frightening direction we are heading towards. Thankfully this answer has slowly started awakening some people in the media in the US as to the dangers we all face to freedom of information.

European Arrest Warrant

Lastly in regard to Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks, I wish to draw your attention to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that has been issued by Sweden for Mr. Assange as this is in regard to our European Law.

From the European Unions own website, Europa.eu,[52] it says that a EAW applies in the following cases:

   where a final sentence of imprisonment or a detention order has been imposed for a period of at least four months;
   for offences punishable by imprisonment or a detention order for a maximum period of at least one year.

Neither of these issues apply to Julian Assange.

Europa.eu also says[53] that the framework decision defines "European arrest warrant" as any judicial decision issued by a Member State with a view to the arrest or surrender by another Member State of a requested person, for the purposes of:
   conducting a criminal prosecution;
   executing a custodial sentence;
   executing a detention order.

Again, not one of these points relates to Mr. Assange’s case. Sweden has consistently stated he is wanted for questioning. I find it hard to fathom why a EAW was issued when the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm, Eva Finne dismissed the rape allegation in 2010 as "having no basis". Also after refusing Julian’s requests for an interview, Prosecutor Marianne Ny gave Julian permission to leave Sweden on 15/9/10. Please read the actual court documents[54] Taoiseach. Point 13 states Mr. Assange was given permission to leave.
It is also a fact that Julian offered to fly back to Sweden for an interview, Oct 9-10 2010, but the Swedish Prosecutor refused because it was a weekend. And lastly, it is also a fact that Sweden has refused ALL Julian’s requests to be interviewed via Mutual Legal Assistance - the normal protocol.[55]

As the great Carl Sagen once said, “I don’t want to believe, I want to know.” Well I don’t want to believe that you will look into this Taoiseach, I want to know you will. It is an issue of utmost importance. As Jonathan Turley, an American lawyer, legal scholar, writer, commentator, and legal analyst in broadcast and print journalism commented, “the material released by WikiLeaks ticked off the US government, primarily because it showed that the government had been routinely lying to the American people. That produced tremendous anger from government officials who are not used to being exposed in this way, including members of Congress. These are people who tightly control what the public knows and what information is allowed out of the government.”[56]

We the citizens need to know what are the rights of people to expose the truth? Where are our protections?  How far are you, our government prepared to go to protect us from this unstable attitude the US currently has towards freedom of information in regard to crimes committed by said government?

Readers of Shoutout UK voted[57] The European Union the 5th most influential organisation in 2012. Can you use this influence to help protect the 2nd most influential organisation[58] Taoiseach?


So Where Do We Currently Stand?

At the time of writing, here is where we stand:

WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 780 days.
Julian Assange has been detained without charge for 777  days. 
 - 215 days at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Bradley Manning has been in prison without trial for 972 days.  
Jeremy Hammond has been in prison without trial for 323 days. 
A secret Grand Jury on WikiLeaks has been active for 857 days. [59]

This is neither a legal, moral or decent place to find ourselves in Taoiseach. Ireland must act in its current role as President of the European Council and also with our seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Today, Barack Obama had his inauguration on Dr. Martin Luther King day. Let me leave you with two quotes from Dr. King that resonate as strongly today as they did when he said them:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The US’ tentacles of ‘justice’ are stretching far from its own shores. By not having anyone question their illegalities of the last decade we find ourselves under threat of injustice in Europe because of Obama’s repressive and secretive war on information and European governments are seemingly happy to ignore this injustice.

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal."
As I demonstrated earlier, the silence has been deafening in regard to the injustice being bestowed upon WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Politicians silence is betraying us the citizenry. We need you to be our voice on issues that affect our freedoms this deeply. Please Mr. Kenny, use your position of influence to bring this case to the attention of those who can affect change. The world awaits your action. Please don’t betray Mr. Assange or we the people with silence any longer.


I thank you most sincerely for taking the time to read this.

Yours sincerely,

__________________

Me





[27] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuQW0US2sJw
[51] http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/01/09/how-the-government-hopes-to-argue-bradley-mannings-alleged-leaks-aided-terrorism/