What’s the deal with this Wikileaks saga???

I realized a few weeks ago that many people were seriously confused by this wikileaks drama. It’s been going on for a while now, but the background information to the case and the organization isn’t given in news reports. So who is and what does Wikileaks do? Why is Julian Assange in ‘trouble’ with the U.S. and other states such as Sweden and the UK?

 

So lets begin with the question: Who is Wikileaks? And what does Wikileaks actually do?

 

Wikileaks is a self professed non-profit organization which employs a few individuals full time, and has a host of other people around the world who contribute to the running and management of the organisation (like an umbrealla organization – a large group of people who sometimes contribute to the organisation in different ways on a non-permanent basis). In 2010 the organisation admitted that they had 5 fulltime employees working for the organisation. It’s servers are spread around the world, but are based in Sweden. Wikileaks has suggested that they may move its main servers to Iceland or Switzerland. Julian Assange is the founder of the organisation and its ‘front man’ but he is by no means the whole organisation.

 

What do they do and what is their purpose? According to the organization itself, their purpose is “to bring important news and information to the public… One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.” Wikileaks acts as a ‘whistle blower’, as in, they keep the identity of its sources (usually the general public) anonymous and it is these sources that provide documentation that Wikileaks can then publish (usually confidential or secret information pertaining to governments).

It is a ‘media’ outlet which is not restricted to the laws of one land, working in cyber space. Julian Assange became a target when U.S. Bradley Manning provided Wikileaks with what is known as the ‘Afghan War Logs’ and the ‘Iraqi War Logs’ as well as U.S. diplomatic cables. Many argue that the release of the war logs which show videos of U.S. marines killing Iraqi militants and a journalist, helped stir the Arab spring uprisings. The U.S. would also without a doubt claim that it’s national security was compromised. Whistle blowing in many states is protected by law, so that governments are held accountable to its citizens. This is intrinsically linked to a free press which should not be controlled by the government in democratic nations. Hacking in order to steal confidential documents however, is usually punishable by state’s laws. As Wikileaks was not the original leaker of the cables (they were given the cables) it’s important to ask why the U.S. wishes to charge or accuse Julian Assange with an offence – after all, Bradley Manning is being held (he has not been charged yet – but has been held for over two years now) on charges of espionage.

The fact is, many media outlets have also been extremely critical of Assange and Wikileaks as they are essentially competition for traditional media outlets. Wikileaks is a new form of news publication. Traditionally it is newspapers that cover whistle blowers and their stories. If we look back at history, it was the Washington Post that covered Watergate – A team from the Washington Post received documents from Deep Throat in a garage. Funnily enough this is why the press and media outlets are usually protected by law in democratic states. Does the U.S. then see Wikileaks as fair game because they are not tied to any one state by law? The U.S. is the hegemonic power in this world, and I for one believe that the U.S. government is feeling threatened by Wikileaks. It is going after Assange so that they look like they are doing something about it, and perhaps it is a warning for other internet whistle blowers. I can understand why Wikileaks has so many supporters around the world. Is the UK really that outraged by the accusations of Assange’s illegal sexual assaults? I doubt it. Sweden’s prosecutor could also interview Assange via video link if it was the primary reason and concern for his extradition to Sweden. Since when have all sexual assault cases been taken to this extreme? Yes, perhaps Sweden wants to be seen as doing the right thing in this case in regards to the accused sexual assault since Assange is a public figure, however, as I mentioned there are other ways for Assange to be interviewed without him physically being moved to Sweden. If there is enough evidence in this case to try Assange, of course he should stand trial for his actions in Sweden. This however has not been yet proven to be the case. Assange is correct for thinking that it is mainly a ploy to have him extradited to Sweden and then the U.S. The U.S. has said that Assange is only trying to escape charges of sexual assault, however any logical human being would be concerned as the U.S. has arrested and kidnapped numerous persons for which it considered a threat to its national security.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the publishing of the cables by Wikileaks is a ‘terrorist act’, does this imply that strong nation’s such as the U.S. are not to be accountable for their actions? Of course the U.S. believes that its national security trumps the rights of Wikileaks. However, if this was Australia instead of the U.S., I as an Australian citizen would want my country’s leaders to be held accountable for their actions, even in war and especially at war.  Wikileaks have published other documents which reveal the actions of leaders or war lords in other states, such as the authorization of assassination of government officials given by a former Somali Colonel, however of course the releasing of this information has not come under such scrutiny. I’m also not that surprised that Ecuador is trying to ‘get back’ at the U.S. by granting asylum to Assange. How will this story end? It’s hard to say. I don’t believe that anyone expects this story to go away anytime soon. Would the UK or the U.S. be prepared to storm the Ecuadorian embassy if they get desperate? Maybe, however I would think that they would play the waiting game as long as possible in order to try and not cause more damage, after all Assange has many supporters. If they did storm the embassy, I am sure that many other smaller nations would also feel threatened by this action, therefore this decision would not be taken lightly by the UK or the U.S.

 

What are your thoughts on the Wikileaks saga? Please remember to be respectful and no derogatory comments will be allowed. They will be annihilated.

 

Until next time!

Miss S.

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GANGNAM STYLE PARODY (강남스타일) – The Oregon Duck

This video is done so well that I had to share (5 million of you would have already seen this!). Maybe some would call it a security threat, but it makes people happy so I’m all for it!

P.S What I love is that whenever Psy performs this song in the West, be it in the U.S. or Australia (we loved him down here) he doesn’t change the lyrics to English but keeps the orginal Korean lyrics. I’m all for diversity, and promoting the learning of other languages. It can only enrich your life!

Child Marriage

This photo of a young girl on UNICEF’s website shocked me, but at the same time I couldn’t look away. Mostly because her physical scars would only show a glimpse of the pain she was hiding inside. Every three seconds around the world, a girl is forced to give up school and the hope for an education in order to be married. It is widely accepted that if girls in developing countries had the chance for an education, a say in family planning and their own health, the poverty experienced in sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East would greatly improve. After all, many of these nations are not utilizing half of their population (females). I know that this is a topic that has probably been touched on numerous occasions, yet somehow it fades just as quickly. To think that girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan are so desperate to end their own lives when married off to often much older men, suicides rate and attempted suicides are increasing. The most ‘favoured’ method to commit suicide for these girls? Setting themselves on fire, in the hope that should they be taken to a far away hospital it would be to late to revive them. There have also been cases where girls who have survived, after recovering partly (from their physical burns) are then again returned to their husbands families.

The photo below is of Aisha, and the UNICEF website writes this about her, “July 2010: At age 10, Aisha was sent to live with her future husband, who kept her in his animal stable until she became 12. They were then married, and he regularly beat her. Aisha escaped but was imprisoned for running away, then returned to her husband. To punish her, he cut off her ears and nose, leaving her to die. She was taken to a clinic and now lives in a women’s shelter in Kabul. A foundation later paid for Aisha to have reconstructive surgery.” The photo is taken from http://www.unicef.org/photography/photo_seeme.php#UNI94652, to find out more on the subject, follow the link to UNICEF’s website. Also, have a look at Plan’s website and their plan to get more girls into education http://www.becauseiamagirl.com.au/. This isn’t a ‘proper’ post on the subject. I am just sharing with you a photo of a girl who moved me. I studied a lot on human security, which ties into this subject. I think this would be a good idea for a post, so I will look into topics to cover.

My next ‘proper’ post will be on wikileaks – what the organisation actually does, and why the U.S. is determined to get Assange. Remember to let me know what topics you would like for me to cover.  Until next time!

Miss S.

Astana, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has changed dramatically in the last decade, mainly thanks to its president Nazarbayev. Sure, this authoritarian ruler could be called crazy by some as he puts on sham elections whenever he wants just so he can test his official’s loyalties and put on a show for the press. Few are willing to challenge his rule, and many praise him for stability and economic growth even though the gap between the rich and poor is still quite obvious. He has however, done a good job of trying to put Astana on the world stage. Using the wealth derived from oil and gas deposits in Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev has enlisted some of the best architects in the world to build unique and mightily impressive buildings for his new capital.

Check out the tower below called Baiterek. From the top of the tower you have 360 degree views, a bar serving cold Turkish beer, and best of all (insert a little bit of sarcasm here) on the observation deck you will fina a malachite pedestal which holds a 4.4 pound slab of solid gold, which in the centre you can see the presidents right hand print. Visitors are encouraged to make a wish before placing their hand on the imprint, and IF you are lucky enough, the national anthem might start playing (said to have been written by the president himself). I’m also assuming that this means that your wish will come true thanks to the magical President himself! Who knows, maybe he will be your fairy godmother for the day or night? 😛

Photos taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/03-baiterek-tower-670.jpg, Photo taken by Gerd Ludwig

In all honesty, I would love to visit this place. It just seems like the whole idea of this city was built upon the whimsical dream of President Nazarbayev. Also, considering that Kazakhstan is one of the least densely populated states on the planet, the natural beauty of the country would be extrodanairy. Below are some photos to stir your imagination 🙂

Above: Astana at night. Photo taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/07-astana-grid-670.jpg Photo taken by Gerd Ludwig

A newly built suburb in Astana. These very american style houses look so out of place. However, it seems that everything in Astana is built for the purpose of standing out. Very eclectic to say the least. Above: Astana at night. Photo taken from  http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/11-american-like-mcmansions-670.jpg Photo taken by Gerd Ludwig

The photo above is the city of Aqmola. The name was changed to Astana in 1998. As you can see not only the name changed but also the landscape. Once a city on the fringe of Kazakhstan, it has been totally revolutionized.  Photo taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/02-black-white-astana-670.jpg Photo taken by M. Chumin

Above, Nurzhol Boulevard. Photo taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/01-nurzhol-boulevard-floral-670.jpg Photo taken by Gerd Ludwig

The photo above is landscape of Bayanaul National Park.

Photo above taken from http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/kazakhstan-guide/.

Strangely enough, when I looked up Trip Adviser  there’s actually quite a few hotels in Astana that have been reviewed! Who would have thought…  So who’s up for an adventure?

Until next time!

Miss S.

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