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Assange Shakes Up Legal Team

© Agence France-Presse
Legal eagles: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses the media as he leaves Court in south-east London earlier this year. The Australian has recruited new lawyers to his team.
Julian Assange is bringing in the UK's most high-profile lawyers as he tries to avoid extradition to Sweden.

The move comes ahead of an important July 12 appeals hearing in the UK High Court, which will rule on whether Assange - who heads Wikileaks - should be handed over to Swedish authorities for questioning.

The website chief has denied wrongdoing and has not been formally charged. The allegations arose as WikiLeaks was in the midst of a controversial release of a bevy of US State Department cables.

Attorneys Gareth Peirce and Ben Emmerson will represent Assange at the upcoming hearing, their offices confirmed separately. His long-time lawyer, Mark Stephens, declined to say whether he was still representing Assange.

"I'm not prepared to go into that," Stephens said by phone. Asked if he had parted ways with Assange, Stephens said: "That's not entirely accurate."

Star of David

State Dept Threatens Prison for US Participants in Gaza Aid Flotilla


Israeli officials have been ratcheting up their rhetoric in demanding that the world unite to stop humanitarian aid from being delivered to the people of the Gaza Strip, calling such attempts an existential threat to Israel and a "deliberate provocation" by the world.

While this hasn't resulted in European nations or others stopping humanitarian groups from moving forward with the aid, it has shifted the Obama Administration's position from opposition to open threats.

Now, the US State Department is not only railing against the flotilla as "irresponsible" but is threatening criminal charges against American participants, claiming that the attempt to deliver aid to Gaza amounts to "conspiring to deliver material support" to Hamas and could lead to lengthy prison sentences.


LulzSec dumps hundreds of Arizona, US Police documents

Border cops' private laundry aired

Lulz Security's string of embarrassing hacks continued as the group released hundreds of internal documents belonging to various Arizona law enforcement agencies, including the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Many of the documents released over BitTorrent are stamped "law enforcement sensitive" and "for official use only," and the dump of some 700 files contains material from a variety of agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety has reportedly acknowledged that its computer systems were compromised and the department's website had been inaccessible for more than eight hours at time of writing. A post on LulzSec's website, said hackers targeted the agency for its enforcement of a recently enacted Arizona law that makes it a crime for aliens to be in the state without carrying immigration documents and gives police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the US illegally.


Hackers Leak Former British PM Tony Blair Data

© cnet
TeaMp0isoN releases what looks like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's electronic address book.
Hackers today released what looks like personal information on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, including the contents of his electronic address book, with contact data for members of Parliament and for what could be Blair's dentist and his mechanic.

A link to the data on the Pastebin Web site was sent out on Twitter from the account of "TeaMp0isoN" along with a message saying "Tony Blair should be locked up, he is a war criminal." Earlier in the day, the TeaMp0isoN account had featured a tweet that said the group was targeting Blair for his support of the war in Iraq.

The contact list appears to be from when Blair was prime minister and includes a phone number for 10 Downing Street. CNET dialed that number and talked to an unidentified representative from the current prime minister's office. That representative confirmed that the number was for 10 Downing Street but said the office had no comment on the matter. There was no immediate response to an e-mail sent to the address the office gave for Blair, who resigned as prime minister four years ago and was succeeded by Gordon Brown.


UK: Senior Conservative MP Shale found dead in toilet at Glastonbury festival

© Jsn Photography/WireImage
A police officer at Glastonbury festival, where Christopher Shale was found in a backstage area.
David Cameron pays tribute to 'a big rock in my life' after Shale is found in toilet on day his strategy documents were leaked

A close political ally of David Cameron has been found dead in a portable toilet in a backstage area at Glastonbury festival. Christopher Shale, the chairman of West Oxfordshire Conservative Association (Woca), was found dead on Sunday morning.

Shale was a successful businessman as chief executive of Oxford Resources Ltd, the corporate cost-reduction company based in Chipping Norton. Previously he was chief executive of SGL Communications. He was also a director of the Centre for Policy Studies and a sponsor of OpenEurope, the eurosceptic thinktank.

Cameron's Witney parliamentary constituency is in west Oxfordshire and Shale was said to know Cameron well.

The prime minister released a statement in which he said: "Sam and I were devastated to hear the news about Christopher. He was a great friend and has been a huge support over the last decade in west Oxfordshire.

Star of David

Israel Warns Media Against Boarding Gaza Flotilla

Israel on Sunday threatened to ban international journalists for up to a decade from the country if they join a flotilla planning to breach the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The warning reflected Israeli jitters about the international flotilla, which comes just over a year after a similar mission ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists in clashes with Israeli naval commandos.

Israel is eager to avoid a repeat of last year's raid, which drew heavy international condemnations and ultimately forced Israel to loosen a blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons into the territory.

It remains unclear when the current flotilla will actually set sail, but organizers have hinted it could be as soon as this week.

In a letter to foreign journalists, the Government Press Office's director, Oren Helman, called the flotilla "a dangerous provocation that is being organized by western and Islamic extremist elements to aid Hamas."


Venezuela's Chavez in 'critical' condition: report

Chavez Coup Anniversary 2008
© Venezuelanalysis.com
President Chavez celebrating the defeat of the coup with supporters in 2008
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who is in Cuba following emergency surgery, is in "critical" but stable condition, Miami's El Nuevo Herald reported Saturday, citing US intelligence sources.

Chavez's government has said he was operated on for a pelvic abscess June 10 and is recovering well; the president's brother has told Venezuelan state media that Chavez could return to Caracas in about two weeks.

But the Venezuelan government has not addressed details of Chavez's condition. And opposition lawmakers are up in arms in Caracas as many think it is unconstitutional for the president to be governing from abroad.

The Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald cited unnamed US intelligence sources as refusing to comment on rumors in Venezuela that Chavez could be receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

Yet one source was quoted as saying that Chavez "is in critical condition; not on the brink of death, but critical indeed, and complicated."

The same sources said Chavez's daughter, Rosines, and his mother, Marisabel Rodriguez, were recently whisked off to Cuba in an air force plane, the report said.

"They took Marisabel and her daughter out urgently," another source told the paper. "That was 72 hours ago."

Brick Wall

US Supreme Court Tells Working Women, You're on Your Own

Walmart supreme court
© Unknown
Sitting in the majestic paneled courtroom in the U.S. Supreme Court three months ago, it did not take long to get that dreaded sense that Betty Dukes and 1.5 million other current and former women employees at Wal-Mart were not likely to prevail in their epic 10-year battle against the nation's largest private employer.

On Monday, that premonition came true. The Supreme Court threw out several lower-court rulings and declared that the women's claims of massive, persistent sex discrimination were not sufficiently similar to merit class-action status. Ladies, you are on your own!

In order to get the case certified as a class action, Dukes and her fellow plaintiffs had introduced vast amounts of evidence supporting their claims of discrimination. Women made up two-thirds of the Wal-Mart work force, yet held only one-third of management jobs. Wal-Mart had a far smaller proportion of women managers when compared to the other major retailers. Indeed, in 1999 (the most recent date for which data were available) Wal-Mart had a lower percentage of female managers than its top competitors had in 1975.

Other evidence from Wal-Mart's own personnel records showed that women were paid less on average than their male counterparts in all job classifications, despite having higher performance ratings and more seniority than their male co-workers.

This evidence, along with more than 100 declarations from women employees around the United States, convinced a San Francisco federal court to certify the class in 2004, allowing the women to sue en masse and giving them a fighting chance against the corporate giant. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the class certification three separate times, albeit by a narrow majority. Wal-Mart was thrilled when the pro - big business Supreme Court agreed to hear its appeal.


Julian Assange: People in glass houses can't be too outraged by return fire

Julian Assange wikileaks
© Reuters
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: "Where did you get my number?"
In about April last year, just before his name became a byword for, depending on your viewpoint, either transparency or treason, I attempted to interview WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Armed with a mobile phone number passed on to me by a colleague from an unknown source, I found myself talking to Assange himself. His response to the call was understandable and hypocritical.

His first words were: ''Where did you get my number?'' When I offered a vague explanation, he expressed displeasure that it had been passed on to me. It was a natural response given his organisation was in the process of severely embarrassing the almighty US government by releasing the video from an American attack helicopter showing non-combatants, including two Reuters newsagency staff, being shot dead. Assange had reason to cover his tracks, but missed the irony in being contacted via leaked information.

We conducted a stilted discussion in which he said he had already been interviewed by Good Weekend (published subsequently), said he might talk to me if I had some information to trade, and required that I text my phone details. Apart from acknowledging that he received my SMS, I never heard from him again.

The WikiLeaks frontman's response was no different to some journalists who seem to give substance to the aphorism: suspicion of others stems from self-knowledge.

Many would dispute Assange's claim that he is a journalist, but I agree that in a loose sense he probably does qualify.

Journalism is changing as traditional news organisations contract. A couple of years ago I calculated there were probably three or four former journalists who had crossed to what we still in the business consider ''the dark side'', for every one left working for the mainstream media.

By the dark side I mean spin doctoring, public relating or otherwise manipulating information fed back to their former colleagues. Incidentally, I can't blame people taking this path given the contraction of media jobs; people have to earn a living.

Comment: The principle of Wikileaks is sound and it has done some good in some cases. For that we salute them. The problem is it is just as useful for a "limited hangout" operation. "We'll let you find out about some of our dirt, which will distract everyone from the really bad stuff we're doing." We are so starved for anything resembling real information, we scramble gratefully for the smallest crumbs wile missing the larger strategies of the PTB.

For more background on Wikileaks see here:

Wikileaks and the War for your Mind
Beware Julian Assange and Wikileaks - Darlings Of The Mainstream Media
Wiki-Leaks and Plausible Lies - Where Have All The Critical Thinkers Gone?
Gordon Duff: Wikileaks, A Touch Of Assange and the Stench of AIPAC

Star of David

Ahmadinejad: The real truth about 9/11 has been kept from Americans and the world

© Press TV
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during the International Conference on Global Fight against Terrorism in the capital Tehran June 25, 2011.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the US of using the September 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and to divert the American public opinion from its domestic issues.

"Some believe that the motive behind the September 11 attacks was to ensure the safety of Israel, foment insecurity in regional countries, divert the US public opinion from the chaotic economic situation in the country and fill the pockets of uncivilized belligerent capitalists," President Ahmadinejad said in an address to a two-day anti-terrorism conference on Saturday, IRIB website reported.

"Two years after the incident that provided an excuse for the invasion of two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), led to the killing, injuring and displacing of millions... the US government, under pressure from the public opinion, tasked a group to investigate the reason behind the attacks. But the real truth has been kept from the Americans and the world," he added.