The Starting Line — Ecuador Grants Assange Asylum; British May Arrest Him Anyway

Across the street from the Embassy of Ecuador

A showdown is developing in London at the embassy of Equador, which this morning granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The British government has told Ecuador that its orders to extradite Assange to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in a sexual assualt case, would override any asylum order. Police gathered outside the embassy in London last night, and there was rampant speculation that they were preparing to enter the building and seize him. A videographer live streaming the event was hit with a sudden Denial of Service (DDoS) attack over the internet, shutting down coverage and fueling the rumors.

WikiLeaks supporters point out that Assange has not been charged with any offense and  Sweden has a bilateral agreement with the United States which would allow it to surrender Julian Assange without going through the traditional tests and standards of regular, lengthy ’extradition’ procedures. Emails hacked from the Stratfor security firm reveal that a sealed indictment against the WikiLeaks founder was issued by a secret grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia last year.

Should he be extradited to the United States, Assange as a foreign national would be subject to indefinite detention. His (sealed) indictment is most likely charging him with violations of the Espionage Act. Should he ever face trial, it is possible that he could receive the death penalty.  Over the past ten years the United States has developed a doctrine that denies basic rights to foreign political prisoners. With Fox news airing interviews that called for the US to ’illegally assassinate’ or kidnap Assange, and to treat him and WikiLeaks’ associates as ’enemy combatants’, it’s highly unlikely that any trial that he might get could be fair, anyway.

Assange is a complicated character, one whose words and ego may have cast a bad light (via the media) on his cause. But the game being played here is much bigger than the damage that WikiLeaks may have caused or whether Julian Assange is a rapist. It’s about the fundamental right of an individual charged with a crime to have their day in court. Should he end up on US soil, we’re likely to have the lesson driven home that the ‘collateral damage’ from the war on terrorism includes extra-judicial repression. I would say that there is no difference morally between the State acting in this manner and a lynch mob hanging a man from a tree.

The Big Story in newspapers around the country was the thousands of immigrants who sought to apply yesterday for a new federal initiative that allows young immigrants to defer deportation and have the ability to obtain work permits, provided they meet certain criteria, such as no serious criminal record. The policy is aimed at the estimated 1.4 million to 1.7 million undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as children.

It’s on the front page of the LA Times, the New York Times, and, yes, even the UT-San Diego.  But the difference in how the story was reported elsewhere (the out of town papers are cited as mere examples) and how it was reported here in America’s Finest City was pretty obvious before the end of the first paragraph of the UT-SD story. Sprinkled throughout the reporting were references to and quotes from opponents of the new policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Right wingers from the Taxpayer Revolution Committee in San Diego and Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition are quoted long before any of the human beings impacted by DACA are allowed to speak. And those humans were The Story yesterday. I’m not saying that anybody at UT-SD had to edit or change the reporting to provide this emphasis; they didn’t have to, given the cloud of right-wing ideology that pervades the local paper.

Job creation the Tea Party way… Ever wonder just what the GOP/Tea Party actual plans for ‘job creation’ are? (And don’t start with the bunk about the Republicans and the Tea Party being separate organizations: the only GOPer’s left who aren’t drinking the tea are the ones who haven’t been purged yet.) Perhaps this item from The California Majority Report will shed some light as to the economic plans:

 About 100 or so “Tea Party Patriots” were on the state capitol steps this morning holding placards attacking the state’s cap and trade system as a “job killer.” But how did they pay for their sparsely attended rally?

 With t-shirts that said “Save California Jobs” that were made in El Salvador. I kid you not.

 You would think that a group that wrapped itself in flags and attacked Democrats, the Governor, and Obama on economic and environmental issues would have the good sense to purchase t-shirts made by California workers. But no. The “Friends of CaliforniaJobs” outsourced their work to El Salvador.

 The best government money can buy… Investigative reporting by ProPublica reveals that, two ‘dark money’ organizations, Americans For Prosperity and Crossroads GPS, have spent more to influence the 2012 elections than all Super PACs combined. The two conservative 501(c)(4)’s, which are not required to report the source of their funding, have invested nearly $60 million into TV ads designed to sway voters this fall. Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, is the creation of GOP strategist Karl Rove, has already spent an estimated $41.7 million. Americans for Prosperity, credited with helping launch the Tea Party movement, is supported primarily by billionaires David and Charles Koch, has chipped in for an estimated $18.2 million.

DeMaio endorsement falls flat… Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is hoping that yesterday’s endorsement by the San Diego County Apartment Association will help him in his quest to appeal to moderate voters in the November elections. Affordable housing advocates saw this endorsement differently, however, as they quickly pointed out that the landlord-centric group has regularly resisted efforts like the Affordable Housing Linkage Fee program, Renters Rights rules that protect families from unfair renting policies, and lead paint protections that promote safe and affordable housing. Betsy Morris, former CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission and currently an affordable housing advisor chimed in:

  “Carl DeMaio is not an advocate for more affordable housing. In high priced areas like San Diego, the gap between the cost of rent and wages for working families is too great to be bridged by phantom ‘regulatory relief.’ A prudent leader would recognize that the public has a stake in guiding investment to expand infrastructure in support of new housing and community benefits. Instead, Carl DeMaio has supported spending public funds to add low wage jobs that are insufficient to afford apartment rents. He also voted against raising funds for more affordable housing.”

 Opening up government made easier (or not)… Senate Bill 1002, passed by a 35-0 vote back in May, will be considered by the Assembly Appropriations Committee today. This legislation would make California the first state in the nation to require that public agencies provide their records in searchable formats, such as Excel or Word. The ‘open data’ standard in the law would require agencies to buy software that is searchable when replacing existing technology and use these formats when posting data online or responding to requests for public records.

The California Newspaper Publishers Association is backing SB 1002. The California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities is opposing it, saying the open data format requirement is unnecessary and costly. Obviously they prefer using formats like PDF, which made searching for usable information on how taxpayer dollars are spent a tedious and discouraging process.

The Sacramento Bee reports that large agribusiness and biotech companies are pouring big bucks into the fight against Proposition 37, the country’s first-ever initiative that would require labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients. Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and Cargill, according to the paper, have contributed nearly $25 million to defeat the proposal dwarfing the $2.4 million that advocates of the initiative have raised.

These multi-national corporations are mimicking the strategy used by the tobacco industry in last June’s primary, where a massive advertising campaign was used to undermine existing public support to raise cigarette taxes to fund cancer research. Their opposition to Proposition 37 is based on the supposition that passage of the measure could force a major production shift in the industry, given that Californians eat about 12 percent of all food consumed in the U.S. Similar legislation is pending in more than a dozen states with the intent of giving the public more information about what they are eating and foster transparency and trust in the food system.

It was a banner year for CEO’s, not so much for the treasury… The Associated Press reports today that twenty-six big U.S. companies paid their CEOs more last year than they paid the federal government in tax, according to a study released by the DC-based Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). The companies, including AT&T, Boeing and Citigroup, averaged a net income of more than $1 billion in the U.S  and paid their CEOs an average of $20.4 million. Regulatory filings examined by IPS showed that the companies paid little or no federal tax on ample profits.

Romney watch… Ann Romney, wife of GOP contender Mitt Romney, has told an interviewer with NBC news that her husband’s campaign will not release any additional tax returns to the public ahead of the election. She told reporter Natalie Morales, in a segment that will be aired today, releasing more tax information “will only give them more ammunition”, adding “there’s nothing we’re hiding.”

Thus far, the Romney campaign has only released a single — and likely incomplete — tax return. (An additional year will be released in October). Pressure has been building in recent weeks from both sides of the aisle for the candidate to disclose more of his tax history. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid told the Huffington Post that he’d heard from an early investor in Bain Capital that Romney didn’t pay any taxes for a decade. Romney has denied that claim.

GOP told to turn off the Panic Switch…  Los Angeles based alternative rockers The Silversun Pickups have demanded that Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaign immediately stop using their song “Panic Switch.” They sent a cease and desist letter to the GOP presidential candidate’s campaign on Wednesday saying that neither the band nor its representatives were contacted for permission to use the song and that the group “has no intention of endorsing the Romney campaign.” The campaign has agreed not to play their songs.

Tweet of the Day:

East Chula Vista ‏@OtayRanchTweets   Costco has Christmas stuff out in August. How sad.

On This Day: In 1923 Carnegie Steel Corporation put into place the eight-hour workday for its employees. In 1974 the Ramones played their first concert at New York’s CBGB  In 1977 Elvis Presley died at the age of 42 in Memphis.

Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmer’s Markets: Carmel Valley (Canyon Crest Academy 5951 Village Center Loop Road) 3:30 – 7:00 pm, Chula Vista(Downtown, Center St. & Third Ave.) 3 –7 pm, Linda Vista  (6900 Linda Vista Road Between Comstock & Ulric) 2 – 7 pm, North Park (CVSPharmacy parking lot 3151 University & 32nd St.) 3 – 7 pm, Oceanside Market & Faire (Pier View Way & Coast Hwy. 101) 9 am – 1 pm,Oceanside Sunset (Tremont & Pier View Way) 5 –9 pm, San Carlos (Pershing Middle School 8204 San Carlos Drive) 4 – 7 pm, SDSU Farmers’ Market (Campanile Walkway btw Hepner Hall & Love Library) 10 – 3 pm, University Town Center  (Genesee Ave. at UTC Westfield Shopping Plaza) 3 – 7 pm.

I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.


Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatarAnna Daniels says

    Mitt Romney is now assuring us that he never paid less than 13% in taxes. Neither have I! It should be noted that in 2011 Romney’s estimated income was $20.9 million. Our income in 2011 was $82 thousand. This what “legal and fair” looks like folks.
    Show us the returns, Mitt. We want a civics lesson in what is “legal” in this country.

  2. avatar says

    It is a shame that the author of this piece did not read the Assange judgement.

    It clearly outlines the Swedish procedure and more importantly it details assault on women.

    If you’re in any doubt, please read the Guardian summary:

    “AA tried several times to reach for a condom which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and try to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. AA says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.”

  3. avatarDoug Porter says

    Ah, but I DID read the Assange judgement. I do not and have not made any judgement as to his innocence or guilt. The point of the article is that, no matter what he is charged with, the man deserves the right to a fair trial. And there is ample evidence that suggests that he’ll be denied that right should he go to Sweden.

  4. avatar says

    ” And there is ample evidence that suggests that he’ll be denied that right should he go to Sweden.”

    There is ample paranoia, plenty of North American exceptionalism and a plain misunderstanding of the Swedish legal system

    But readers can make their own mind up, do you consider it rape when a woman is half asleep, is screwed without a condom or without her permission?

    Is that such a difficult question, but let’s be honest you prioritise Assange’s rights over a woman’s.

    That’s what it comes down to, the political over the woman’s rights.

  5. avatarDoug Porter says

    I don’t know. If you want to call the way Bradley Manning has been treated “paranoia”, I supposed you’re entitled. If you want to call the way the prisoners at Gitmo have been treated as paranoia, I supposed you’re entitled. But if you’re trying to say I’m making a value judgement that rejects women’s rights, you are wrong. I say: Let the Swedes guarantee that they won’t ship Assange off to the US; then they can try him all they want as far as I’m concerned. Put him in jail. Cut his nuts off. BUT…the problem is that the Swedes won’t make that promise.

  6. avatar says

    Please, do you want to talk about Assange or widen the topic to make it meaningless?

    Let me cover two quick points which you probably don’t understand:

    1. All the legal advice, European conventions, domestic laws, etc meaning it is *much* easier to extradite someone directly from Britain to the US.

    To extradite someone from Sweden, they could not be charged with the political crime, in fear of inhumane treatment, etc and the permission of the third-party, Britain would have to be sought.

    Thus, to anyone rational, it would be much easier to bundle Assange straight to America whilst he was in Britain.

    I assume that you believe that this is part of some cunning plan, making it more difficult, eventually getting him?

    2. You won’t make a value judgement on Assange’s conduct, because you prioritise his work over women’s rights.

    That is as plain as the nose on your face. Its your choice but a common choice by men.

    And of course, you won’t as a consequence examine the implications for rape victims.

    PS: I have no problem supporting Bradley Manning but Julian Assange is NOT Manning. He has bought Wikileaks into disrepute.

    • avatarDoug Porter says

      No, I don’t want to talk about Assange. The mention in my column was about due process, or the lack thereof. You have chosen to make it more than that. I disagree. I refuse to speculate on your motives for saying what you are saying.
      However, I welcome any submissions to the SDFP that you might want to make on the subject of Julian Assange.