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Assange’s Seventh Day at the Old Bailey: Diligent Redactions and Avoiding Harm

September 16. Central Criminal Court, London. Proceedings today at the Old Bailey regarding Julian Assange’s extradition returned to journalistic practice, redaction of source names and that ongoing obsession with alleged harm arising from WikiLeaks releases. John Goetz of Der Spiegel added his bit for the defence, making an effort to set the record straight on the events leading up to the publishing of un-redacted US diplomatic cables on September 2, 2011.

The picture that emerges from Goetz is not Assange the reckless cavalier indifferent to human life but of a more considered publisher, working with news organisations to redact the names of informants, insisting on the use of encrypted communications, cognisant of the risk of harm facing them. Goetz noted that WikiLeaks had a “very rigorous redaction process”, evident in its approach to the Afghanistan files; Assange was “very concerned with the technical aspect of trying to find the names in this massive collection of documents.”

Der Spiegel itself had interviewed Assange on the process in 2010, a point remarked upon by Goetz. As Assange said at the time. “We understand the importance of protecting confidential sources, and we understand why it is important to protect certain US and ISAF sources.” Cases “where there may be a reasonable chance of harm occurring to the innocent” were identified. “Those records were identified and edited accordingly.” The practice seemed to have paid off. Goetz noted that the trial of Chelsea Manning, based on her disclosures to WikiLeaks, revealed no cases of harm to any informant.

Mark Summers QC sensed a chance to interrogate another aspect of the prosecution case on Assange’s supposed callousness about the fate of informants, captured by the alleged remark, “They’re informants, they deserve to die.” That now infamous dinner at London’s Moro restaurant is recorded by The Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding in WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy (2011). It supposedly took place in early July 2010 a few weeks prior to the publication of the Afghan War Diaries. Goetz had been in attendance. Leigh, also at the dinner, was mistaken: Assange had never said anything of the sort.

James Lewis QC for the prosecution spluttered in alarm at this course of questioning from the defence. Goetz had not mentioned this in his written testimony; a supplemental witness statement would have to be submitted. Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed, amputating a potentially fruitful line of inquiry.

A picture of tussling between authorities and media outlets emerged, with WikiLeaks and partner media outlets having communications with the US government prior to publication. Efforts were made to identify areas of sensitivity; officials were variably bemused. A delegation of New York Times reporters made their way to the White House ostensibly to discuss the imminent release, with Eric Schmitt informing Goetz of the conveyed message that 15,000 documents within the Afghan War Diaries would not be published. The call to assist with redactions was met with “derision”.

The bungle that led to the publication of the entire trove of un-redacted cables was also re-visited. It gave Goetz a chance to patiently point out that the password to the unencrypted file with the cables had found its way into the aforementioned book by Leigh and Harding. The magazine Die Freitag got wind of it, publishing the details, despite, according to Goetz, Assange’s efforts to stop it. Publishing outfits such as Cryptome capitalised with abandon. With the train set in motion, Assange and WikiLeaks contacted the State Department’s emergency phone line. The cat had scurried out of the bag; sources had been named. The response from Washington was cool, dismissive  WikiLeaks subsequently published what had already been released. During the examination of Goetz, Lewis got muddled over the Afghan War logs and diplomatic cables. The journalist was happy to correct him.

The Goetz testimony also spoke to the value of the WikiLeaks disclosures. Details had been sparse on the fate of kidnapped German national Khalid el-Masri, who had been captured by the Central Intelligence Agency in Macedonia in 2004. A search of the trove by Goetz revealed that CIA abductors had “forced el-Masri onto a military plane, sodomized him and sent him” to Afghanistan. The revelations led to the issuing of an arrest warrant by a state prosecutor based in Munich for 13 CIA agents. Another search of the cables found that pressure from Washington had been brought to bear on the prosecution to defang the process, issuing a warrant in a jurisdiction where the agents did not live.

With Goetz’s testimony done, the defence attempted to incorporate a statement by el-Masri into the court record. The prosecution took issue, claiming that he did not feature in the charges against the WikiLeaks publisher, making such evidence irrelevant and inadmissible. An agitated Lewis suggested that the defence, in reading the statement, would be wasting half-an-hour of the court’s time. Judge Baraitser was put out at the manner of the prosecutor’s objection; such an approach might mean her accepting the evidence “unchallenged”. After much discussion Lewis suggested edits. The statement seems to remain in legal limbo.

The other blazing feature of today’s proceedings was the appearance of Daniel Ellsberg, the aged whistleblower of Pentagon Papers fame. Over the years, he has become a grandfatherly presence in the debates on disclosing classified material for public consumption and debate. The documents he passed on to the New York Times in 1971 shed light on the futility of US involvement in the Vietnam War while revealing habitual public mendacity on the part of various administrations. “My own actions in relation to the Pentagon papers and the consequences of their publication have been acknowledged to have performed such a radical change of understanding. I view the WikiLeaks publications of 2010 and 2011 to be of comparable importance.”

Before the court, Ellsberg attested to the common beliefs he shared with Assange: opposing wars, holding to those cardinal principles of keeping the powerful accountable and the state transparent. Common ground was also shared about the invasion of Iraq (a “crime” and “aggressive war”); and Afghanistan, a modern Vietnam redux of infinite stalemate. Over time, attitudes had changed to documents discussing such behaviour in war. The killings, abuses and war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq had been buried in “low-level field reports” so as to be banal. The Pentagon Papers had been seen as the palace jewels of secrecy; the Iraq and Afghan war logs were merely classified as “secret”.

Such leaks as the Collateral Murder video, the infamous portrayal of a war crime committed by an US Army Apache helicopter in New Baghdad, shed light on this culture of lethal normalisation. Murder it was, but “the problematic word in the title was ‘Collateral’, implying that it was unintended.” Chelsea Manning was also to be praised for “willing to risk her liberty and even her life to make this information public. It was the first time in 40 years I saw someone else doing that, and I felt kinship towards her.”

The Espionage Act, Ellsberg reflected, discouraged such acts of informing disclosure. He found this much to his chagrin during his 1973 trial, in which motivation was dismissed as irrelevant. “The Espionage Act,” rued Ellsberg, “does not allow for whistleblowing, to allow you to say you were informing the polity. So I did not have a fair trial, no one since me had a fair trial on these charges, and Julian Assange cannot remotely get a fair trial under those charges if he were tried.”

In cross-examination, the prosecution brought up the straw man argument used by critics of WikiLeaks, including Floyd Abrams, an attorney who represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. The argument seeks to distinguish Ellsberg’s conduct and the right of the paper to publish, as distinct from that of Assange. Ellsberg found such views ignorant of motive, whether of his or Assange’s. Abrams had not troubled himself to go through the entirety of the Pentagon papers, nor discuss motivations with him.

From this distinction arose the idea of the noble, ennobled Ellsberg, and the wicked, fallen Assange. Exempting him from criticism while criticising Edward Snowden, Manning and Assange involved “a distinction which in my view is entirely misleading.” Apart from “the computer aspects which didn’t exist back then, I see no difference between the charges against me and the charges against Assange.” He also challenged the distinction (white Ellsberg, dark Assange) by suggesting he had not done as Assange had in terms of care: redacted names, withheld 15,000 sensitive documents, or approached the Pentagon and State Department for assistance in making further redactions. The refusal to accept such offers from WikiLeaks might have been purposely done, suggested Ellsberg, to enable a future prosecution.

Ellsberg attempted to set Lewis straight in his contention that withholding four volumes of the Pentagon Papers at the time was a saintly gesture to prevent harm to the US.  The whistleblower disagreed. The move was intended to prevent a disruption to ongoing peace talks. “I want to get in the way of the war, I don’t want to get in the way of the negotiations.” To have redacted the papers would have risked compromising their accuracy.

The prosecution, desperate to nab their quarry, insisted on pushing Ellsberg on the issue of harm that the disclosures might have had. Lewis seemed incredulous that any witness could claim that “there is no evidence that WikiLeaks put anyone in danger.” He also read the contents of Assistant US Attorney General Gordon Kromberg’s affidavit at some length, a crude recycling of many of the claims made at the Manning trial that failed to stick on the charge of “aiding the enemy”. Ellsberg snorted, claiming such assertions to be the mark of high cynicism. “Am I right in that none of these people actually suffered physical harm?” Lewis tartly responded: “The rules are that you do not get to ask the questions.”

Ellsberg, however had decent answers. He could also point to the findings of the US Defense Department that no demonstrable harm had arisen from the releases. At the Manning court martial, the prosecutors similarly conceded that not a single death could be identified as a result, a point made by Brigadier General Robert Carr under cross-examination.

Ellsberg also suggested that US authorities had done little by way of assisting the concealing of informant identities when approached by WikiLeaks. US wars in the Middle East over the last two decades, the sort that Assange had tried to end, had caused a million deaths and 37 million refugees.

This did not prevent Lewis from speculating about those who had disappeared in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. It was “common sense” to suggest that they had either been murdered or forced to flee. “I’m sorry sir,” came the reply, “but it doesn’t seem to be at all obvious that this small fraction of people that have been murdered in course of both sides of the conflicts can be attributed to WikiLeaks disclosures.” A truly palpable hit.

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56 comments

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  1. Jack Cade

    If Assange is condemned to go to the USA
    by the UK legal system, it will be the final nail in the charade of ‘British Justice’, handing over an innocent man to his likely death at the hands of a vicious, spiteful and vindictive nation that is the only truly rogue nation on earth.

  2. Terence Mills

    Thank-you for these updates, Binoy.

  3. Michael Taylor

    Indeed, Jack. The USA is fast becoming a rogue nation. A Trump win in November will see it go fully rogue.

  4. corvusboreus

    MT,
    The US has fitted the description of a ‘rogue nation’ for a number of decades.
    They are currently in the process of redefining themselves as a ‘failed state’.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Failed state. Love it. 😀

  6. corvusboreus

    Michael,
    I was more being factual than trying to be cutesy or clever.

    A failed state is defined by 4 characteristics:
    *erosion of authority to make collective decisions..(eg unlawful presidential decrees running into legal/constitutional obstructions)
    *loss of control of territory, or the legitimate use of force therein (eg rioting on the streets and vigilante killings)
    *inability to provide basic public services (eg potable water for the city of Flint)
    *Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community (eg unilateral withdrawal from alliances, treaties and accords)

    I do not love it, but I can’t pretend I don’t see it.

  7. Michael Taylor

    corvus, my apologies. I loved it because it was an apt description. ✅

  8. Jack Cade

    …and a rogue state is a state that some observers consider ‘to constitute a threat to world peace’
    The US has been a ‘rogue state’ since WW2, snd is now, as cb points out, displaying all the criteria of a failed state. It has probably never been truly ‘United’, not since their civil war. The states that now vote Republican – the mid-west states- were solid Democrat for almost a century because Lincoln was a Republican and they never forgave him. And those ‘Democrat States’ lynched negroes within living memory. In fact, they more or less still do, in a manner of speaking.
    So, a failed, rogue, state. A heady combination.

  9. corvusboreus

    Michael,
    Apology completely unnecessary but appreciated nonetheless.
    I tend to have a dry sense of the ridiculous (my approximation of humour).
    When accepted normality becomes a patent absurdity (eg president Trump) this can become somewhat confusing.
    The phrase ‘taking the piss’ acquires a whole new meaning when faced with an overloaded bedpan.

  10. RosemaryJ36

    The greatest risk to peace in the world is the USA and it is, ironically, a source of relief that its most incompetent President is only interested in carrying out a war with the Democrats in his own country.

  11. paul walter

    The USA is, like Little Britain, indeed a failing state and rogue state, fascist in its abandonment of foundational reason and derived concepts of justice.

    As I have said before denial of the sort where a person wears a blind fold walking along the rim of a skyscraper can only end in tears.

    You can’t live in the sort of dream world Johnson, Trump, Murdoch and Morrison live in without jeopardising millions of lives. Covid has already given us a preview of where the lunatic Right will lead civilisation.

  12. paul walter

    What a piece of work Baraitser is!

    Has a single individual done more to undermine Britain’s reputation than this bigot?

  13. George Theodoridis

    The US-UK-OZ are no longer States but are in a state of decomposition. They now form what Bush II called “the coalition of willing” to demolish the last vestiges of morality on the planet. Assange is the proof that all these three countries are working in sync with this aim.

    They are intent on making true the observations of Thrasymachus in Plato’s “Republic” that Justice is a pain in the bum and it is in the hands of the mighty. “Might is Right,” he told Socrates and this coalition wants to prove it.
    What they’ve proven over and over again, of course is what Acton said two centuries ago, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    Justice in all these three countries is run by thugs who have been given the power to apply it, by bigger thugs.

  14. George Theodoridis

    https://consortiumnews.com/2020/07/31/uk-refuses-to-release-information-on-assange-judge-who-has-96-percent-approval-rate-in-extradition-cases/

    BRITAIN, INTERNATIONAL, LEGAL, WIKILEAKS
    UK Refuses to Release Information on Assange Judge Who Has 96 Percent Approval Rate in Extradition Cases
    July 31, 2020

    Britain’s Ministry of Justice is blocking the release of basic information about the judge who is to rule on Julian Assange’s extradition, reports Declassified UK.
    By Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard
    Declassified UK

  15. paul walter

    Have a GOOD read of George Theodoris’ link, people…

  16. Jack Cade

    Paul walter

    The conduct of the Assange case is ugly; it is like a Tudor trial, a Star Chamber trial, a sham, Soviet-style trial.

  17. corvusboreus

    My opinion?
    The USA will fracture and descend into bloody civil war (with nukes) within half a year.
    That will probably cause a total collapse of the global economy and trigger another world war.
    Meanwhile the ice keeps melting faster, oceans get evermore warmly acidic, and planetary deforestation continues apace.
    The human appetite for destructive overconsumption will trigger our functional extinction before the end of the century.

    Poor Assange.

  18. DrakeN

    Corvusboreus and Michael,
    in addition to “Failed State” the USofA can justly be described as a “Terrorist State” in view of their incursions into other sovereign States, and even a “Failed Terrorist State” in view of the failures of the claimed intentions for those invasions.
    With the death toll approaching 200,000 in the US due to governmental failures, the 9/11 twin towers attacks pale into insignificance – so just who is terrorising whom?

  19. Jack Cade

    cb

    So you don’t think the Assange matter is worthy of consideration?
    I don’t disagree with your assessment of the state of the US civil disorder, but suggesting they’ll nuke each other might include just a soupçon of hyperbowl (sorry, Julia).
    Or are there sister-shaggers in charge of the button? ‘Whadda y’all think this yar red button does, Billy-Joe?‘

  20. corvusboreus

    Jack Cade,
    The US military is already badly divided over the current POTUS (generals are audibly grumbling, which rarely happens)
    By current formguide he will order them out domestically (either pre or post election)
    Then comes a crux, what will each choose to obey, oath to defend constitutional and people, or orders from the CIC?
    With an intact army the US will heave with violent civil insurrection throughout an overarmed population(they’re already practising shooting each other from the back of tray eds, very ISIS) , but remain intact as a nation of states.
    If the army spits over irresolvable political difference, that means civil war (nukes optional but available).
    Not an unthinkable outcome given historical precedent.

    As an aside, whilst around 60% of the human population follow a branch of religion that prophesies inevitable apocalypse, the ratio of doomsday cultists is even higher in the states.
    That’s not reassuring

    Anyway, back to Julian…

  21. Matters Not

    As an aside. Phillip Adams on Tuesday’s Late Night Live opens with Bruce Shapiro’s America. But for months, Adams has been introducing Shapiro as being from that failed State. Shapiro is insightful and always worth a listen

    https://dartcenter.org/bio/bruce-shapiro

    Re Trump or the Constitution – I’ll have my money on the Constitution at the expense of the individual/office/. But that depends, of course, on how the question is framed by Barr etc

  22. Jack Cade

    Bruce Shapiro teaches ‘journalism
    ethics’.
    My dog barks at the full moon.
    Neither one of them seems to be effective (although the moon wanes: Murdoch doesn’t.)

  23. corvusboreus

    MN,
    Crystalballing.

    If Trump orders the troops out after losing the election, they will refuse as a cohesive unit to follow unconstitutional orders from a democratically deposed pretender.
    However there is no guarantee that Trump will lose in November (there has been much dice loading, and he is backed by a misinformation campaign run by a man who used to head Soviet military intelligence), nor that he will wait till after to order troops onto the streets.
    If Trump orders military deployment on US citizenry as the incumbent or president-re-elect, we’ll, that’s when there will be interesting discussions within the military about where their allegiances lie, and frankly I see little chance in an undivided resolution.

    But, as I have said, none of this is a certainty, it’s just my semi-informed opinion.

  24. Matters Not

    cb – Current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – General Mark A. Milley was asked that very question.

    https://theconversation.com/why-soldiers-might-disobey-the-presidents-orders-to-occupy-us-cities-140402

    The nation’s highest-ranking U.S. military officer reminded leaders of the armed forces of their oath to uphold the values of the Constitution, an admonition that came amid concern that President Trump may order active-duty troops onto American streets for the first time in nearly 30 years.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/military-leaders-send-missives-to-troops-stay-true-to-the-american-people-11591297582

    While Trump ‘thinks’ he has support among the ‘forces’, much dislike among the top brass. Too many bad decisions for morale and discipline. But Trump will try anything and to date has evaded much.

  25. Jack Cade

    When considering reports, it is useful to consider the origin of the information and the intention of it. For example, an instrument called The Daily Reckoning, today, begins an article headed Falling Out With China like this..,
    ‘Our government says …. but the State controlled China media says…’
    They could easily have said ‘ The Chinese government says…but the media-controlled Australian government says…’
    In either case, the article would be correct. But in the Falklands war, one English paper said ‘The English troops were safely snuggling in their bunkers while the frightened Argies huddled in their shallow foxholes…’
    Both were right, describing substantially the same things, but words paint a powerful picture. They can be useful weapons.

  26. Matters Not

    JC – knowing something about ethics/morality is a guarantee of absolutely nothing. But that position (of knowing and perhaps understanding) might be useful anyway because in the study of ethical systems (whether they be deontological or teleological or even existential ethics) one should become more aware of what might be right or wrong as well as what might be good or bad and why the right might not be good etc,. also might apply to wrong versus bad and so on.

    As suggested above, knowing and understanding ensures zero but being able to appreciate what might constitute ethical transgressions is perhaps better than being completely unaware of what guides some – including law makers, decision makers, etc as well as principles (and the odd principal).

    Re intention versus outcome as alluded to in your latest post – that’s an important ethical consideration in itself. And who is to be held responsible? An individual following orders or those giving the orders etc

  27. George Theodoridis

    Stella Moris (@StellaMoris1, Julian Assange’s fiancée and mother of their 2 sons Max and Gabriel) on Twitter:
    “Each day Julian is woken at 5am, handcuffed, put in holding cells, stripped naked and x-rayed. He’s transported 1.5h each way in what feels like a vertical coffin in a claustrophobic van. He’s in a glass box at the back of court from where he can’t consult his lawyers properly.”

    https://twitter.com/StellaMoris1/status/1306205472521891840?fbclid=IwAR0XpUapOrl–xvybCrtxzIkA6cwWq_1iAKbI-HB7Wc9Mph5eP3vUYBs0ws

    Stella Moris
    @StellaMoris1

    ·
    Sep 16
    Each day Julian is woken at 5am, handcuffed, put in holding cells, stripped naked and x-rayed. He’s transported 1.5h each way in what feels like a vertical coffin in a claustrophobic van. He’s in a glass box at the back of court from where he can’t consult his lawyers properly.
    Quote Tweet

    Stella Moris
    @StellaMoris1
    · Aug 20
    Today I’m launching a crowdjustice campaign to free Julian. Our children need their father back. Please help me make that happen. #SaveJulian #FreeAssange https://crowdjustice.com/case/julianassange/

  28. Michael Taylor

    That’s horrific, George. Absolutely inhumane. 😡

  29. Jack Cade

    George and Michael

    That’s pure Guantanamo. Man’s inhumanity to man being carried out by two nations who call other cultures ‘savage’ and ‘primitive’.
    George Galloway says the UK press is barely covering the trial, so there is obviously more than one ‘Murdoch- magnate’.
    The old idea of fearless, crusading journalists is just a myth, a sick joke.

  30. paul walter

    Jack Cade, it is the utter spite involved in it all, as well as the slander, harassment and so on for both him and the frail, brave Manning.

    In a way Assange and Manning win though, because they have got this ugly Baghdad Massacre crew out into the open and got them to show their true, vile and ugly, munitions selling, oil war creating, poverty and sickness and pain-inflicting faces and natures inadvertantly to a whole watching world, despite a cowed media and press.

    Those two people have some thing called clear consciences, which is some thing the experience of which can’t be experienced by their lunatic anger obsessed persecutors.

  31. George Theodoridis

    How just is a society is measured by its justice system. This one and its tow allies stink to high heaven with the vile stench of oppression.

  32. corvusboreus

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just been reported as having passed away at the age of 87.
    Ave atque vale Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    For those to whom that means nothing, please take the time to google.

    Apart from provoking sadness at the passing of a person of some admirable qualities, this is also some seriously bad news in terms of it opening up a vacancy of opportunity in the US Supreme court for a ‘fresh’ presidential appointment.

    I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the position will be filled with a pale male of limited legal pedigree and dubious ethical record, and some very strong ideological views on God, guns and the contents of wombs, but little demonstrative concern for concepts like civil liberties or safeguards of existent precautionary frameworks within constitutional democracy.

    Sad and troublng, if not unexpected news.

  33. Matters Not

    cb – now comes the hypocrisy.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a Friday night statement that President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg will get a vote in the Senate. Doing so would be a complete reversal of his position in 2016, when the GOP-led Senate refused to hold a hearing or vote on then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, saying it was too close to the election.

    Expect that both presidential candidates will pick this issue up and run hard. An outcome that might (will) have implications for decades.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/18/politics/merrick-garland-senate-republicans-timeline/index.html

  34. corvusboreus

    MN,
    In March 2016, 7 months before the November 9th election, senator McConnell said that “once the political season is underway action on a supreme court nomination must be put off until after the election”.
    Four and a bit years later, he seems to have ‘retrospectively progressed’ beyond his previously conservative stance. .

  35. Matters Not

    How a position and/or principle espoused today will have serious implications in the morrow.

    What they called the “Biden rule.” Joe Biden had said in a 1992 Senate floor speech — when there were no high court vacancies to fill — that “once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.”

    Nothing like political pragmatism. Suppose the GOP can’t believe their luck. What with an expected 6-3 majority, just proves God is on their side.

  36. corvusboreus

    Le Comte de Bussy once famously quipped that God usually sided with the bigger battalions.
    Voltaire then iconically retorted that God often seemed to preferr the better shots.

    Ps, if espousals of positional principle can have serious implications, then I am glad that my expressions of opinion tend to carry less weight than that of a fistfull of fart flung into the vacuum of space.

  37. corvusboreus

    Matters Not,
    That eulogy from one octogenarian to another displayed just the kind of reassuring, um, clarity of mind and, ah, steadiness of hand needed to, unbid, no, er, defib, doh, I mean invigorate a jaded/disenfranchised electorate to turn out against,…. that other guy..

  38. Jack Cade

    I have just read an article in the June 2020 edition of The Atlantic titled ‘We Are Living in a Failed State‘ by George Packham. Says it all, really. It’s not all Trump’s doing – he just lifted the lid. There is nothing admirable about 21st Century USA.

  39. Jack Cade

    That should have been George Packer. I should have read before posting,

  40. Jack Cade

    I actually don’t care what the Americans do to each other: it takes their focus away from doing it to other countries. It might also see the end of the $US as the currency benchmark.

  41. Michael Taylor

    corvus, I like what someone sent me in an email years ago, about the benefits of being old:

    Old blokes should be drafted into the army. They’re smart enough to know they can’t outrun a bullet, and grumpy enough to put up a good fight.

  42. corvusboreus

    Jack,
    Apathy regarding the current US situation is largely dependent on two main factors:
    A) That the outcome of US political instability or internal conflict will be insulated from having any serious repercussive effects upon the global geopolitical environment, not to mention the international financial system that underpins your and my bank accounts (which are ultimately guaranteed against the greenback).
    B) That the international power vacuum will not immediately be filled by even more opportunistically cynical power operators (eg Putin and Jinping) who have even less democratic mandate and legislative restraint than the US currently operates under.

    Feel free not to give a shit about US politics.
    Many people have, with more evidential justification, similarly given up on any hope of rectifying or remediating against a biospheric mass extinction event engineered by myopically self-centred human numb-skulled shit-phuqery..

  43. Jack Cade

    Cb

    That, cb, is the problem. I remember Colin Powell saying ‘Hate us if you will, but when the trouble hits, who else are you going to call?’
    America has – had – the capacity to be everything it thought it was, but elected Reagan and his neo-Liberal fixations (not his – he was a numbskull with the ability to learn lines he was fed) and the corporates ran amok from there, making money by destroying their own manufacturing industries and setting up in impoverished countries using slave labour. Trump promised the derelict places like Detroit a return to dignity but had neither the wit nor the will to actually do it.

  44. Jack Cade

    Michael Taylor, Wam, Rossleigh

    Today, Port Adelaide became the only standalone AFL/VFL team never to have won the wooden spoon.
    Thank you, Adelaide Football Club.

  45. Roswell

    The Crows were truly worthy winners of this year’s award, bless their little hearts.

  46. Jack Cade

    Roswell

    Apologies to you and to Rossleigh for transposing your names!

  47. corvusboreus

    Did anyone catch the scandal on Mrried A First Sight last night?
    Despite how delectable Daphne looked in her two-piece, Dale’s eyes kept straying over to Darlene (the cad!)
    I’m considering starting an MAFS oriented anti-Dale hategroup on FB!

  48. Jack Cade

    Cb

    A not very subtle shot at some of us talking about inconsequential issues…

    But as a Liverpool football manager said – ‘Some people act as if football is a matter of life and death; I assure you that football’s more important than that…’

  49. corvusboreus

    Jack,
    Q) Why do the airforce and navy paint their craft and vessels in shades of drab grey?
    A) Because grey vehicles hold a higher resale value.

    Ps, I still say Beau’s channel’s worth a look..
    Takes less time than watching a set of six, with sum added maybe lerns

    (Phuq that Dale’s a sleaze)

  50. Jack Cade

    Cb

    Given the amount of money the US spends on armaments per annum, the resale adverts would say ‘as new’.

  51. corvusboreus

    Jack Cade,
    In a classic case of dog eating it’s own vomit, one powerpoint of the last DOD/pentagon pitch for another brand new fighter plane was that the combined US/Aus JSF (joint strike fighter) project represented a threat to US regional dominance.
    Joseph Heller couldn’t top that shit.

  52. Jack Cade

    Cb

    One of the most annoying modern cliches is ‘You couldn’t make it up.‘ ‘Making it up’ is precisely what people like the governments and military do, in fact, do.

  53. corvusboreus

    Parody becomes policy and vice versa.
    There was a scene in the movie ‘men who stare at goats’ where military captives were subjected to the psychological torture of endless loops of a Barney the Dinosaur song. “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family… ‘.
    That scene was plagiarised directly from credible leaked report on techniques of ‘softening and persuassion’ performed on military captives, which noted the use of the inane kiddy song as alternative auditory unhinging approach to blasting them with cacophonic metal.
    This malicious use of music is cutely named ‘torture lite’
    “You couldn’t make it up”.

    Ps, I might ease up on Dale.
    Someone on FB said that Darlene was heaps slutty round Doug back when he was with Daisy.
    #darleneisamole

  54. Jack Dale

    Cb
    One of the most distressing things about torture is that most of the techniques are devised by people who vow to ‘first do no hurt’.
    I’ll give Dale, Darlene, Denise, Dennis and Daisy a miss, if that’s okay with you.

  55. corvusboreus

    Jack,
    Cliche often get adulterated or diluted, lost in translation or altered in recount by whispers not restricted to China.
    Somewhere along the line the seeking of forgiveness over asking permission became ‘better’ rather than ‘easier’.
    Decimation (-10%) became synonymous with devastation, and quarantine (40 days and nights) 10 became a fortnight or less.

    I personally think the underlying idea/ideal (spirit over letter) of the hypocritical oath is not so much ‘do no harm’ (because eggs omelettes etc) as more ‘don’ t make it worse than it was’.
    It is also a principle whose application should not be restricted to medicine.

    I admit to being derisive about sports obsession, but I am actively watching a society being distracted from serious and pressing that requires immediate adult attention by a collective fixation on bouncy balls covered in corporate brands and logos,
    with an unhealthy dose of derisive inter-societal colour division thrown in for extra measure, mostly as a recklessvehicle to flog grog and gambling.
    Increasing personal understanding of the functioning world around and before us (science historically stuff) might be a bit depressing, but it can be surprisingly useful, much more so than knowledge of function between sqidger and wink.

    Ps Don’t blame you for nixing the Ds of MAFS, but I stand by my thumbs up for Beau (of the fifth column)
    He uses words as if they had definitions.

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