Society's ChildS


Julian Assange wins right to appeal against extradition to US

stella assange
© ReutersStella Assange, wife of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, outside of the High Court after the ruling
Julian Assange has been granted leave to mount a fresh appeal against his extradition to the US on charges of leaking military secrets and will be able to challenge assurances from American officials on how a trial there would be conducted.

Two judges had deferred a decision in March on whether Assange, who is trying to avoid being prosecuted in the US on espionage charges relating to the publication of thousands of classified and diplomatic documents, could take his case to another appeal hearing.

On that occasion, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson ruled he would be able to bring an appeal against extradition on three grounds, unless "satisfactory" assurances were given by the US.


Victory: Federal Court rules University of Colorado vaccine policies "motivated by religious animus"

© denverjeffrey/flickr
The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed a lower court decision on May 7, 2024, issuing a 55-page ruling holding that the University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine's policies refusing religious exemptions to its COVID-19 vaccination mandate were "motivated by religious animus" and unconstitutional under the First Amendment's Religion Clauses.

In addition to finding religious animus, the Court found that the vaccine mandates of the University's Anschutz Medical Campus granted "exemptions for some religions, but not others, because of differences in their religious doctrines" and granted "secular exemptions on more favorable terms than religious exemptions," all of which was illegal. The court also reaffirmed the First Amendment principle that government may not test the sincerity of employees' religious beliefs by judging the legitimacy of those doctrines. The Court also held that the University's mandates violated "clearly established" constitutional rights.


Another Connecticut town tramples Constitution with onerous town green rules

© UnknownThopsonville Village of Enfield Connecticut
In February, FIRE wrote to the town of Suffield, Connecticut, about its proposed policy regulating activities on its town green. Suffield subsequently abandoned the policy, which would have violated residents' First Amendment rights. But it turned out Suffield's proposal was based on a policy of the nearby town of Enfield. Now, in a new letter, FIRE is calling on Enfield to follow its neighbor's lead by reforming its unconstitutional town green policy.

Next to the town hall in Enfield is an open area with a gazebo called the Town Green. Enfield makes the Town Green available for public use — but only if visitors comply with Enfield's many requirements, several of which violate the First Amendment.

Enfield's rules control more than the manner in which someone can use the Town Green — they control whether someone can use the Town Green at all. Any individual or group wishing to use the Town Green must first submit an application and receive approval from the town manager's office.

Individuals and small groups are not exempted, so the need for a permit seemingly applies to anyone doing anything. As FIRE explained in the Suffield case, a town may require permits for some activities in a town green, such as those involving large groups or requests for exclusive use of the green. But requiring a lone pamphleteer or acoustic guitarist to obtain a permit before engaging in protected expression is excessive.

Stock Down

China dumps record $53.3 billion of US debt treasuries

china debt us treasuries
China sold a record amount of Treasury and US agency bonds in the first quarter, highlighting the Asian nation's move to diversify away from American assets as trade tensions persist.

Beijing offloaded a total of $53.3 billion of Treasuries and agency bonds combined in the first quarter, according to calculations based on the latest data from the US Department of the Treasury. Belgium, often seen as a custodian of China's holdings, disposed of $22 billion of Treasuries during the period.

China's investments in the US are garnering renewed investor attention amid signs that tensions between the world's largest economies may worsen. President Joe Biden has unveiled sweeping tariff hikes on a range of Chinese imports, while his predecessor Donald Trump said he might impose a levy of more than 60% on Chinese goods if elected.

"As China is selling both despite the fact that we are closer to a Fed rate-cut cycle, there should be a clear intention of diversifying away from US dollar holdings," said Stephen Chiu, chief Asia foreign-exchange and rates strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence. "China's selling of US securities could speed up as US-China trade war resumes" especially if Trump returns as president, he said.

Comment: Evidently, and understandably, the multipolar world is preparing itself for significant changes up ahead. Meanwhile many nations in the West (and elsewhere) are struggling to keep their economies afloat:

Bizarro Earth

'Unprecedented' Google Cloud error WIPES data of $135 billion pension fund account and backups 'for no reason'

google cloud
Buried under the news from Google I/O this week is one of Google Cloud's biggest blunders ever: Google's Amazon Web Services competitor accidentally deleted a giant customer account for no reason. UniSuper, an Australian pension fund that manages $135 billion worth of funds and has 647,000 members, had its entire account wiped out at Google Cloud, including all its backups that were stored on the service. UniSuper thankfully had some backups with a different provider and was able to recover its data, but according to UniSuper's incident log, downtime started May 2, and a full restoration of services didn't happen until May 15.

UniSuper's website is now full of must-read admin nightmare fuel about how this all happened. First is a wild page posted on May 8 titled "A joint statement from UniSuper CEO Peter Chun, and Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian." This statement reads, "Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian has confirmed that the disruption arose from an unprecedented sequence of events whereby an inadvertent misconfiguration during provisioning of UniSuper's Private Cloud services ultimately resulted in the deletion of UniSuper's Private Cloud subscription. This is an isolated, 'one-of-a-kind occurrence' that has never before occurred with any of Google Cloud's clients globally. This should not have happened. Google Cloud has identified the events that led to this disruption and taken measures to ensure this does not happen again."

Comment: Note that this 'blunder' occurs alongside a significant number of layoffs, restructuring, and stock sell offs at the tech giants, in addition to a myriad of mysterious technical problems and cyberattacks that have been plaguing emergency services, government systems, and payment services worldwide:


Severe turbulence on UK-Singapore Boeing flight, 1 dead, 30 injured

boeing turbulence
A person is seen being carried away from the aircraft on a stretcher today in Bangkok
A passenger died and others were injured on a flight from London to Singapore today which is said to have plummeted for a number of minutes in extreme turbulence before making an emergency landing in Thailand.

The Boeing 777 plane operated by Singapore Airlines left the UK's Heathrow airport on Monday evening at 22.17pm local time with 211 passengers and 18 crew on board.

However, flight SQ321 experienced severe turbulence while flying close to Myanmar airspace in a region currently being battered by extreme tropical thunderstorms.

After around 11 hours of flying time from take off in London, the aircraft sharply dropped from an altitude of around 37,000 feet to 31,000 feet within just five minutes as it finished traversing the Andaman Sea and neared Thailand.


Shocking headline of the day: Germany to re-introduce slavery

power to the slaves
Young Germans will have to choose between the Bundeswehr (military service) and unpaid social service work. Libertarians to a person, will call this slavery, because that is what it is.

Germany to Re-Introduce Slavery

Please consider the Eurointelligence headline story Germany to Re-Introduce Slavery
The headline might be bordering on the hysterical, but the big idea in German politics right now is to re-introduce the general draft. This is not happening because Germany expects to be at war. It is not about the military at all. Under the plans, young people, male and female, can choose between the Bundeswehr or a year of forced labour in the social services, essentially uncompensated.

Comment: See also:

Bad Guys

UN author says "cull" of humanity is only "realistic way" to avert climate catastrophe

UCL Professor Bill McGuire
The grisly streak of neo-Malthusianism that runs through the green movement reared its ugly head earlier this week when former United Nations contributing author and retired UCL Professor Bill McGuire tweeted that the only "realistic way" to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown was to cull the human population with a high fatality pandemic. The tweet was subsequently withdrawn by McGuire, "not because I regret it", but people took it the wrong way. McGuire is the alarmists' alarmist, suggesting for instance that human-caused climate change could lead to more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The Daily Sceptic will not take his views the wrong way. They are an illuminating insight into environmental Malthusianism that does not get anything like the amount of publicity it deserves.


Unpacking Ray Dalio's alarmist prediction of civil war

US divided
Every time the Ray Dalios of the world open their mouths on the risks that the great unwashed masses pose to "Our Democracy™," they make the idea of a political separation sound far more agreeable.

The other day, Ray Dalio, the billionaire investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates, told The Financial Times that he sees the risk of a second American civil war as "growing" and places the odds of such a war at "35-40 percent." According to FT, Dalio's "research" has led him to conclude that "we are now on the brink," although we "don't yet know if we will cross over into much more turbulent times."

On the one hand, it's important to remember that Dalio is nearly universally known as a world-class crank. He's made a lot of money in the markets and has long been considered an astute investor, but he has also long been considered an odd duck, to put it gently. Additionally, the idea that this proclamation and setting of odds are based on "research" is silly. There are no variables one can examine and analyze and then use to calculate an objective estimate of a civil war's occurrence. To pretend otherwise is... well... perfectly Dalio-esque.

Evil Rays

CBC has whitewashed Israel's crimes in Gaza. I saw it firsthand

whitewashing genocide
Working for five years as a producer at the public broadcaster, I witnessed the double standards and discrimination in its coverage of Palestine — and experienced directly how CBC disciplines those who speak out

The executive producer peered at me with concern. It was November 16, 2023 and I had been called into a virtual meeting at CBC. I was approaching my sixth year with the public broadcaster, where I worked as a producer in television and radio.

He said he could tell I was "passionate" about what was happening in Gaza. His job, he told me, was to ensure my passion wasn't making me biased. He said I hadn't "crossed the line" yet, but that I had to be careful. The conversation ended with him suggesting that I might want to go on mental health leave.

I declined. My mind was fine. I could see clearly what was happening.