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Ecuador may be close to kicking Assange out of their embassy

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Is the figurative noose tightening around Julian Assange? We recently learned that Ecuador was none too happy with the vast sums of money they’ve had to spend on their perpetual guest living in their London embassy. Prior to that, they may have signaled that he was chewing up too much of their bandwidth when they cut off his internet access. And now, according to an extensive report published in the Guardian, it’s looking more and more like they’re at the point of either trying to sneak him out of the country or, failing that, simply kicking him to the curb.

The Ecuadorian intelligence service is reportedly now viewing Assange as a “threat” to their own personnel. And that doesn’t begin to touch on the amount of diplomatic embarrassment he’s been causing their government. The Guardian also reveals more of the grubby details of Assange’s “living quarters” in their embassy. He’s apparently driving the workers there to distraction.

The head of Ecuadorian intelligence, Rommy Vallejo, held a meeting with Patiño to discuss the Assange situation and the “risks” he posed to embassy staff. Over time, Assange came to take up more than one-third of the embassy’s ground-floor space. Initially, he slept in narrow room next to the balcony. He subsequently colonised a back room as a bedroom and occupied half the kitchen. Assange’s unkempt realm was home to WikiLeaks and its computers, and was entirely private. There was no CCTV. It was off limits to diplomats, the rooms only accessible via special codes…

Ecuadorian government sources say Quito is considering a plan for where Assange might go next. Russia would be an obvious choice, though this would cause problems with the US. Cuba and Venezuela are also said to be under discussion. Since January, Assange has officially been an Ecuadorian diplomat. However, this probably would not stop the UK arresting him if it had the chance.

If Assange remains in the embassy, cut off from the world, WikiLeaks cannot function. Either way, it is clear that Ecuador no longer wants him. His future is more uncertain than ever. The most likely scenario is that he will soon walk out the door.

Shipping Assange to Russia would be one heck of a trick. The Brits have pulled back some of their surveillance, but the embassy is still being watched. If their “guest” comes out any of their doors there’s a good chance we’ll know about it. Failing that, Ecuador could just tell him to get out. But what happens if he leaves? We’ve discussed it here before, but the Guardian has reached essentially the same conclusions.

Assange faces a tough choice. If he walks out of the embassy, he can expect arrest and could spend up to a year in prison for breaking his bail conditions.

The US might then seek to extradite him. He would contest any attempt, and might win, but would face a long, uncomfortable spell behind bars while his case is decided.

None of those look like tasty choices for Assange, but are we really sure that Donald Trump would actually try to extradite him? It might make for some great headlines, but locking up Assange here and having his fans showing up and protesting every day (as they still do in London) would be yet another distraction for the media to hammer away at whenever the Russia news slows down.

And speaking of Russia, there are still unanswered questions as to how and when Assange got his hands on the DNC emails. Many suspect a Russian connection in that data transfer, whether it was actually an agent of the Russian government or one of their surrogates. Putting Assange behind bars and having him face the possibility of an extensive jail term in the United States might make him more likely to sing if he has any stories to tell. Who would suffer the damage of those revelations in American politics remains an unknown for now, but the last thing Trump needs is yet another Russia, Russia, Russia story out there for the press to feast upon.

If Ecuador can get Assange out of the country without the Brits grabbing him, it’s just possible that he might be on the loose for quite some time. And after spending this long in the embassy and likely going stir crazy, is it that far-fetched to think that Julian Assange might just take his chances?

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Lesley Stahl: Trump told me he attacks the media so that people won’t believe us when we report bad news about him

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I mean, obviously. A scandalized shiver runs through the room in the clip after Stahl says this but nothing about Trump is as transparent as his strategic goal in gaslighting people about “fake news.” Here’s something I’ve linked before, written two days after his inauguration and attempting to explain why Sean Spicer held that embarrassing “these were the biggest inauguration crowds ever!” press conference. Among the suggested reasons:

The point of carping about “fake news” isn’t to discredit the stories that are false, it’s to discredit the stories that are true. It’s the same as the “witch hunt” rhetoric about Russiagate, which has already produced five guilty pleas and 17 indictments. Any politician pinned to the wall by damaging news would kill to have a reservoir of suspicion about the media among their base that they can call on in a pinch to defuse that news. The goal isn’t necessarily to get people to disbelieve a story but to stoke enough doubt about the reliability of its narrators that the public will conclude there’s no way to know what’s truth and what isn’t. That’s the art of the gaslight. And the author I quoted above also anticipated that:

If ever there was a “tell” about Trump’s strategy, it was this tweet posted 17 days after he was sworn in. It’s one thing to claim that reporters are slanting their coverage to disfavor him, as that obviously does happen. It’s another to suggest that pollsters are engaged in willful fraud, en masse, to make him look bad by manipulating their data and willing to risk their professional reputations in doing so:

Everything that’s bad for him is “fake” and you shouldn’t believe it, and if you do you’re siding with Them over him. He’s not coy or in any way subtle about this. This is a guy, remember, who back in the day used to dial up reporters posing as his own PR flack to tout his wealth or his womanizing or whatever. Subtlety’s not his thing, certainly when dealing with the media. The reason there are murmurs in the room after Stahl tells her story, I think, is just because he’s willing to cop to the gaslighting openly, even to a member of the media itself. It’s all just a game, played to a strategic end. Why pretend otherwise?

In lieu of an exit question, something unrelated but fun. Apparently Trump’s inimitable Twitter style is, in fact, imitable:

“West Wing employees who draft proposed tweets intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president’s style, according to two people familiar with the process,” the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports.

The details: “They overuse the exclamation point! They Capitalize random words for emphasis. Fragments. Loosely connected ideas. All part of a process that is not as spontaneous as Trump’s Twitter feed often appears.”

That’s GOP-style populism in microcosm. You’ve got one guy, the populist-in-chief, whose grammar and spelling are not the best but whose style is “authentic” and “relatable.” And then you’ve got a coterie of well-educated phonies and cronies mimicking him, pretending to be stupid in the same way because that’s what he wants and they’re convinced that that’s what the people want. No one has any incentive, political or financial, to be better. Sad!

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Trump Goes Scorched Earth on FBI Spy Campaign: ‘Follow the Money, the Spy Was Only There to Help Crooked Hillary Win’

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President Trump unleashed on the FBI’s infiltration of his campaign Tuesday evening in a pair of tweets.

The President said, “Follow the money!” the spy wasn’t there to find ‘Russian collusion,’ he was there to help Crooked Hillary win the election!

President Trump, please never stop tweeting!

President Trump lit up Twitter Tuesday evening after he tweeted what we are all thinking–the spies infiltrated his campaign for political purposes to help Hillary Clinton win the election.

Trump tweeted: If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal…

Trump then slams Crooked Hillary: …Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!

The informant, Stefan Halper, was paid a total of $411,575 in 2016 and 2017 for work with the US government that included spying on the Trump campaign.

It was a lucrative business for Stefan Halper.

Now the Democrats are in spin mode.

They went from ‘there was no spy inside of Trump’s camp’ to ‘the informant was there to help protect Trump against the Russians.’

Former DNI Chief James Clapper is claiming embedding spies is “a standard investigative practice.”

Hillary Clinton wanted to spy on her political opponent and she accomplished her goal with help from Obama’s weaponized intel agencies.

President Trump is right; Spygate is worse than Watergate.

Earlier Tuesday, President Trump told reporters, “If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country.”

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Shouldn’t Publix be forced to bake the Latin cake?

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Palette cleansers don’t usually come this sweet … if we’re still permitted to use that phraseology. A family celebrating the graduation of their son with high honors had ordered a cake made from the local Publix supermarket, using their online system to proudly display Jacob Kosinski’s status as a summa cum laude student. Just one problem, the online system responded — they don’t allow obscenities on their cake designs.

Shouldn’t they be forced to bake the Latin cake?

Cara Koscinski organized a graduation party for her 18-year-old son. For the occasion, she ordered a cake online from her nearest grocery store, Publix, which lets customers build their own cakes complete with a customized inscription, which they enter into a message box marked “cake message option.”

Carefully, she typed in the words she wanted on the cake: “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018.”

Publix’s online system was unhappy with the word “cum.”

Good Lord. This is less about mandatory cake-baking than it is about cultural ignorance and classical illiteracy. We stopped teaching Latin as a compulsory subject in most schools decades ago, but this Latin phrasing in particular remains very common — used in all college and university graduations, and many high school degrees, too. Magna cum laude is understood by most people not to be a reference to a particular prophylactic, for Pete’s sake.

Publix apologized and returned the family’s money, which is as much as they can do for this particular error. It should remind them to pay attention to the special instructions in their own flippin’ system, however, especially when the customer calls to explain it to them in plain English. If Publix doesn’t want to make cakes for a particular special occasion or to proclaim a particular message, they shouldn’t be forced to do, and neither should anyone else. But is it too much to ask that they check out requests to ensure that they really object to it?

At least Jacob has a pretty clear understanding about the nonsensical levels of political correctness and ignorance he’ll encounter in the wider world. It might keep him more grounded than most other high school graduates entering colleges and universities this fall. In the meantime, let’s offer a Latin lesson for bakeries around the country, just in case they need to conjugate. In the language sense, that is.

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