Julian Assange remains lodged in the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge while the Correa Government decides whether to grant him political asylum.
Meanwhile, the WikiLeaks founder remains committed to standing for the Australian Senate whenever the next Federal Election is called.
Whether he can campaign on the ground or not will depend on his circumstances but he has an active campaign team in Australia which is ready to start mobilising support and votes.
There are two important reasons to support his Senate bid.
Firstly, he will provide an independent voice in a chamber dominated by party hacks, toadies and layabouts. (I exempt the Green senators, however, who provide intelligence and integrity to the deliberations).
And secondly, it will confer on him some legal protection from the revenge-motivated militarists of Washington. They are demanding his rendition to the US to be put on trial for treason alongside Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking Pentagon emails on the Iraq war to WikiLeaks.
The US government plans a Manning-Assange show trial to punish both of them as an example. When the US ambassador to Australia says this is not the case, don’t believe him. It’s his job to say otherwise and keep Australians in the dark.
The media disinformation about Assange’s situation is a disgrace, and by far the worst offenders are from Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers and TV networks, like Sky TV.
If he is extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over a technical rape accusation involving consenting adults and where he is not charged with anything, the US can simply request his removal to a federal prison in America without the need to go to Swedish court to explain its actions or its intentions or to present any evidence in support of extradition.
It’s no wonder he has opted for refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
But why not Australia House in The Strand? I’m told that his lawyers advised that the Washington grovellers in the Gillard Government would not give an assurance that he would receive full diplomatic protection.
TALE OF TWO AUSSIES
Investigate the digital archives of the London media over the past 12 months and you will find that two names in the Top Five are Australians – Rupert Murdoch and Julian Assange.
Murdoch has made headlines for running a criminal enterprise which hacked people’s phones and paid bribes to Scotland Yard cops and Ministry of Defence civil servants.
Assange generated media frenzy by exposing the secret diplomacy of Britain, the US and Australia and the lies of politicians and diplomats.
Guess which one is on the run and hounded like a fugitive?
LAST ORDERS, GUV’NOR
Two of the enduring myths of the 1929 Wall Street Crash and the ensuing Great Depression are that brewery stocks remained buoyant and that pubs continued their roaring trade.
In other words, when the bottom falls out of the economy well-to-do people start buying grog shares while the unemployed and those on the breadline start drinking the stuff.
This theory is taking a bit of a hit in recession-gripped Britain. Latest figures from the British Beer and Pub Association show that the number of pubs in the UK is down to 51,000 from a peak of 69,000 in 1980.
In one recent 12-month period they were closing at the rate of 52 a week.
Much of this decimation can be explained by the monopolisation – and subsequent rationalisation – of the brewing industry. But there has also been a dramatic change in public taste away from chemically infused horse urine marketed as lager.
I am grateful to my friend Ian Jack, The Guardian columnist and former head of Granta, for drawing my attention to the declining state of the pub industry. However, he has observed that while pubs are closing down, the incidence of binge drinking is actually rising.
“Not that people have stopped drinking,” he observed, “they just drink less moderately and charmingly.”
At dinner the other night citizen Jack and other friends from the old (pre-Murdoch) Sunday Times consumed a number of bottles of retsina over dinner at our old haunt, the Kolossi. I can report that there was nothing but moderation and charm by the schooner.
IRAQ WAR DIARY
I will not be purchasing the latest volume of Alistair Campbell’s diaries because I refuse to contribute to the wealth of a huckster, an odious opportunist and a professional liar.
Campbell, who graduated from the Daily Mirror to become Tony Blair’s spin doctor, used his time at No 10 Downing Street to sell the anti-working class and pro-imperialist policies of New Labour – and to write a diary to make a small fortune in serialisation and book rights when he quit.
My eye caught one revealing entry in March 2003, days before Blair and US President George Bush launched war against Iraq on trumped up charges:
“TB (Tony Blair) said there was a danger the Tories would see this (going to war) as a chance to get rid of him. Bush said they would make it clear to the Tories that if they moved to get rid of TB ‘we will get rid of them’.”
I wonder if Bush gave the same assurance to John Howard about what he (Bush) would do to the ALP Opposition in Canberra if it opposed the war.