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The London Expat American Meetup Group Message Board › Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks and Afghanistan - US Citizen in Guantanamo

Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks and Afghanistan - US Citizen in Guantanamo

Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,346






VIDEO

Rallying against extradition in UK
The families of four men wanted by US law enforcement protest outside Downing Street to press for trial in own country.
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2012 22:08
http://www.aljazeera....­
VIDEO http://aje.me/LIE6Im...­



The families of four men who are set to be extradited from the UK to the US have protested outside Downing Street, claiming the men's right to a fair trial in their own country is being denied, and that the UK is treating them as enemies of the state.

The argument put forward by the families is an highlighted by the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on sex charges he denies.

His supporters say extradition to Sweden would be just the first step in Assange being handed over to the US because he has embarrassed the US government by leaking sensitive information.

The protesters presented a petition at 10 Downing Street. The British government is already in talks with the US with a view toward altering the extradition treaty.

Al Jazeera's Harry Smith reports from London.



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Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,347
http://www.thegreatex...­
http://www.indymedia....­



What Women Against Rape have to say about it
01.06.2012 03:36

This letter to the Guardian from late 2010 sums it up:

Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued for rape allegations (Report, 8 December). Women in Sweden don't fare better than we do in Britain when it comes to rape. Though Sweden has the highest per capita number of reported rapes in Europe and these have quadrupled in the last 20 years, conviction rates have decreased. On 23 April 2010 Carina Hägg and Nalin Pekgul (respectively MP and chairwoman of Social Democratic Women in Sweden) wrote in the Göteborgs-Posten that "up to 90% of all reported rapes never get to court. In 2006 six people were convicted of rape though almost 4,000 people were reported". They endorsed Amnesty International's call for an independent inquiry to examine the rape cases that had been closed and the quality of the original investigations.

Assange, who it seems has no criminal convictions, was refused bail in England despite sureties of more than £120,000. Yet bail following rape allegations is routine. For two years we have been supporting a woman who suffered rape and domestic violence from a man previously convicted after attempting to murder an ex-partner and her children – he was granted bail while police investigated.

There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women's safety. In the south of the US, the lynching of black men was often justified on grounds that they had raped or even looked at a white woman. Women don't take kindly to our demand for safety being misused, while rape continues to be neglected at best or protected at worst.

Katrin Axelsson
Women Against Rape


Further reading:

John Pilger:
http://truth-out.org/...­

Interview with Glenn Greenwald:
http://www.democracyn...­

no apologist


If Sweden had the slightest interest in the allegations as stated...
02.06.2012 17:19

...the prosecutor would have taken the opportunity to question Julian Assange in Britain under standard procedures.


woman
Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,348
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange 'buoyed by support
'By Chris Summers
http://www.bbc.co.uk/...­
BBC News



Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been "buoyed" by the public's support since he sought refuge in Ecuador's London embassy, his mother has said.
Christine Assange says she fears the US plans to extradite her son from Sweden
http://brisbanewikile...­
https://sites.google....­
http://www.support-ju...­

Christine Assange's Public Message in Support of her Son, Julian.
Source: Christine Assange

On the 22 January, 2011, "Christine Assange", the Mother of Wikileaks Founder, "Julian Assange", prepared a personal statement for a Public Rally held in Brisbane Square and organised by Brisbane Wikileaks Defence.

The message from Christine was intended to be read verbatim, and was made available for immediate press release.

Below, please find a copy of Christine Assange's original public statement read out to the Brisbane Public by Brisbane Wikileaks Defence.

Link: https://sites.google....­

Christine Assange said she had spoken to her son over the weekend and he was in "good spirits".

Mr Assange is seeking diplomatic asylum to prevent him being extradited to Sweden to face accusations of rape and assault, which he denies.

Police in London say he faces arrest for breaching his bail conditions.

His mother said she was hopeful Ecuador would grant him diplomatic asylum.



'Pandora's box'

Speaking from her home in Australia, Mrs Assange said she did not know why he chose Ecuador but added: "It's only my guess but I think it's because it is not a sycophant of the US, unlike Sweden, the UK and Australia."

Mr Assange's Wikileaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses.

Mr Assange, 40, fears if he is sent to Sweden it could lead to him being sent to the US to face charges over Wikileaks and that he could face the death penalty.

The Swedish authorities say they want to interview him about the rape allegations.

“Start Quote
The whole exercise has been set up to smear and silence the truth and those countries with their snouts in the trough with America have fallen into line”
End Quote
Christine Assange

Mr Assange, whose bail conditions include staying at a named address between 22:00 and 08:00 BST, arrived at the embassy in Knightsbridge a week ago.

His decision to seek diplomatic asylum followed the failure of a bid to reopen an appeal against his extradition to Sweden.

Mrs Assange said she understood Ecuador's President Rafael Correa had made sympathetic noises and would not be "bullied" but she had heard the US was threatening to withdraw billions of dollars in aid from Ecuador if it granted asylum.

She said the Australian government, which has not sought to intervene on Mr Assange's behalf, was "nothing more than a puppet" of the United States.

Wikileaks had opened a "Pandora's box" and the US would not be able to prevent uncomfortable secrets emerging, she added.

'Simple issue'

Mrs Assange said she had spoken to her son on Saturday from the Ecuadorean embassy and she said: "I haven't heard him as relaxed and comfortable as that for a long time.

"He wanted his supporters to know that he was feeling humbled and buoyed by the support that he was getting and was in great fighting spirits."


Julian Assange, who published leaked diplomatic cables, denies raping two women in Sweden Five countries are now involved in a complex diplomatic saga but Mrs Assange said: "It's not complicated. It's a very simple issue.

"A legitimate, registered, multi award-winning media organisation and its editor have legally published the truth about the biggest superpower in the world and embarrassed them and exposed them for wrongdoing - war crimes, corruption and fraud.

"The case against him in Sweden coincided with the release of these documents and has no basis in fact, if you look at the evidence and the way the Swedish prosecution has run the case.

"The whole exercise has been set up to smear and silence the truth and those countries with their snouts in the trough with America have fallen into line. Ecuador, whose snout isn't in the trough, has not fallen into line."

Mrs Assange said she feared that a grand jury in the US had secretly indicted him already and that the rape allegations were simply a "holding case" to allow him to be detained in Sweden pending an extradition request from the US.

Sweden's Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny said last week that she could not comment on Mr Assange's asylum application but added: "An application for asylum does not concern the criminal investigation in Sweden."

The Swedish authorities say they have issued a European Arrest Warrant and acted entirely within the law.












Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,349
Over 10,000 American messages back Assange's asylum in Ecuador
http://www.ndtv.com/a...­
http://www.lawyerhera...­

Political Refugee Assange Deserves His Freedom – and Our Nation’s Thanks (La Jornada, Mexico)
http://themoderatevoi...­



Quito: The Ecuadorian embassies in the United States and Britain have received over 10,000 messages in support of political asylum for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuadorian authorities announced on Tuesday.

"More than 10,000 emails have been received at the moment," Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs said in a public statement from Quito.

"Thousands of people asking the Ecuadorian government to accord asylum to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, sent a steady stream of messages saying why they support him," the statement added.

Quito received a demand for asylum from the Australian national, who took refuge in London's Ecuadorian embassy on June 19, escaping extradition to Sweden, where he has been charged with two cases of sexual assault.

Mr Assange worries that from Sweden, he will be extradited to the United States to face possible espionage charges, after releasing more than 250,000 American diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks site.

A letter in favour of the request for asylum was also addressed to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa by Just Foreign Policy, a US group advocating for civil liberties.

Among the signatures on the petition were those of film directors Michael Moore and Oliver Stone, actor Danny Glover and philosopher Noam Chomsky.





Maintaining that Mr Assange's only crime was doing journalism, the authors of the letter denounced what they believe to be an attack on freedom of the press and the public's right to know the truth about American foreign policy.

Mr Correa responded to the call for asylum on Tuesday, saying that Quito must first "analyze the judicial process in Sweden" and that "these things take time. It's not that simple."

That same day, Mr Correa met with his ambassador to Britain, Anna Alban, and Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino to discuss Mr Assange's request.

Mr Correa, a leftist leader critical of Washington, has already expressed sympathy for the WikiLeaks founder and said that his country will not accept instances of "political persecution."




Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,350


Ecuador for Assange: Who could blame him?
http://jamblichus.wor...­
http://wikileaks.org/...­

I’m not surprised by Julian Assange‘s decision to seek asylum in Ecuador. In fact I had been wondering if he would simply give up the whole legal rigmarole and go back completely underground.

After all, if — as is a high-enough likelihood to be worrying — he is extradited from Sweden to the US, the risk of ending up like Bradley Manning or worse, Jose Padilla (turned into a vegetable through sensory deprivation and torture) must seem like a risk worth avoiding even at the cost of breaching your bail conditions.



Wikileaks’s release of US diplomatic cables (see them here) will be picked over usefully by historians for decades and whatever bad you think of Assange and his sexual proclivities, think it worse of the many prominent US political figures who have called openly for him to be hunted down and killed.

* Whilst I’m at the topic of the US prison system, do take time to note the fact that with just 5% of the world’s population, it holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. A couple of years back, I remember blogging that Democratic Senator Jim Webb had introduced a blue-ribbon commission to look at every aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system with “an eye toward reshaping the process from top to bottom.”



As he noted at the time, alongside the the above shocking figure, the number of incarcerated drug offenders has soared a phenomenal 1200% since 1980 and four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons as in mental health hospitals. Sadly, the U.S. prison industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and corruption in the industry is both rife and sickening.

Again, reportsa while back showed that as many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania were wrongly found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. Ecuador sounds like a much better place to be spending time. Good luck to him.











http://www.coffeecupd...­











Ecuador has pledged to take its time assessing Assange's request.

In extreme cases, asylum-seekers have stayed holed up in embassies for years. In 1956, the United States granted Hungarian cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty refuge in its Budapest embassy. He stayed until 1971.



Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,357


Susan Benn from the Julian Assange Defence Fund: ''Julian will remain in the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government''



Julian Assange 'declines' police order
http://www.youtube.co...­
http://www.bbc.co.uk/...­
http://tv.ibtimes.com...­
http://www.youtube.co...­





Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is ignoring a Metropolitan Police order to surrender himself at a police station, his representative has said.

Susan Benn said he was advised to "decline to comply" and will remain inside the Ecuadorian embassy while his application for asylum is processed.

Officers from the Met's extradition unit delivered a note to Mr Assange at the London embassy on Thursday.

He wants to stay in London to continue the fight and avoid being sent to the U.S.A. to secret trial (already underway) and 1917 Esspionage Act accusations.

The police letter required that the 40-year-old surrender himself to Belgravia police station at 11:30 BST on Friday.

Under international diplomatic arrangements, the police cannot go into the embassy to arrest Mr Assange.

Life and liberty

In a statement, Ms Benn, a committee member of Mr Assange's defence fund, said: "This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims.







"The issues faced by Mr Assange are serious. His life and liberty and the life and liberty of his organisation and those associated with it are at stake."

The Wikileaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses.

Mr Assange fears that if he is sent to Sweden he could be sent on to the United States to face charges over Wikileaks and that there, he could face the death penalty.

Ms Benn said it was "only a matter of time" before US authorities begin extradition proceedings against him.

She said: "Mr Assange did not feel safe from US extradition in the UK. We are all too aware of the abuses of the US-UK extradition treaty. Although Mr Assange has been trapped in the UK under dangerous circumstances, he has at least had the freedom to apply for political asylum.

"It is in this context that Julian has made the difficult decision to seek refuge inside the Ecuadorian embassy to ask for asylum. Julian will remain in the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while evidence for his application is being assembled and processed."

Mr Assange, whose bail conditions include staying at a named address between 22:00 and 08:00 BST, arrived at the embassy in Knightsbridge on 19 June.




Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,358


06/25/2012

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been "buoyed" by the public's support since he sought refuge in Ecuador's London embassy, his mother has said.

Christine Assange said she had spoken to her son over the weekend and he was in "good spirits".











U.S. House Finds Attorney General Eric Holder In Contempt
06/28/2012

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is found in contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to Operation Fast & Furious.

http://leaksource.wor...­.

http://twitter.com/Le...­

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Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,361


The IOC need to to reconsider its decision to accept sponsorship of the London Olympics from the Dow Chemical Corporation
History is the enemy as 'brilliant' psy-ops become the news
http://www.johnpilger...­




Arriving in a village in southern Vietnam, I caught sight of two children who bore witness to the longest war of the 20th century. Their terrible deformities were familiar. All along the Mekong river, where the forests were petrified and silent, small human mutations lived as best they could.

Today, at the Tu Du paediatrics hospital in Saigon, a former operating theatre is known as the "collection room" and, unofficially, as the "room of horrors". It has shelves of large bottles containing grotesque foetuses. During its invasion of Vietnam, the United States sprayed a defoliant herbicide on vegetation and villages to deny "cover to the enemy". This was Agent Orange, which contained dioxin, poisons of such power that they cause foetal death, miscarriage, chromosomal damage and cancer.

In 1970, a US Senate report revealed that "the US has dumped [on South Vietnam] a quantity of toxic chemical amounting to six pounds per head of population, including woman and children". The code-name for this weapon of mass destruction, Operation Hades, was changed to the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand. Today, an estimated 4.8 million victims of Agent Orange are children.

Len Aldis, secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, recently returned from Vietnam with a letter for the International Olympic Committee from the Vietnam Women's Union. The union's president, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, described "the severe congenital deformities [caused by Agent Orange] from generation to generation". She asked the IOC to reconsider its decision to accept sponsorship of the London Olympics from the Dow Chemical Corporation, which was one of the companies that manufactured the poison and has refused to compensate its victims.

Aldis hand-delivered the letter to the office of Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee. He has had no reply. When Amnesty International pointed out that in 2001 Dow Chemical acquired "the company responsible for the Bhopal gas leak [in India in 1984] which killed 7,000 to 10,000 people immediately and 15,000 in the following twenty years", David Cameron described Dow as a "reputable company". Cheers, then, as the TV cameras pan across the £7 million decorative wrap that sheathes the Olympic stadium: the product of a 10-year "deal" between the IOC and such a reputable destroyer.



History is buried with the dead and deformed of Vietnam and Bhopal. And history is the new enemy. On 28 May, President Obama launched a campaign to falsify the history of the war in Vietnam. To Obama, there was no Agent Orange, no free fire zones, no turkey shoots, no cover-ups of massacres, no rampant racism, no suicides (as many Americans took their own lives as died in the war), no defeat by a resistance army drawn from an impoverished society. It was, said Mr. Hopey Changey, "one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of [US] military history".

The following day, the New York Times published a long article documenting how Obama personally selects the victims of his drone attacks across the world. He does this on "terror Tuesdays" when he browses through mug shots on a "kill list", some of them teenagers, including "a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years". Many are unknown or simply of military age. Guided by "pilots" sitting in front of computer screens in Las Vegas, the drones fire Hellfire missiles that suck the air out of lungs and blow people to bits. Last September, Obama killed a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, purely on the basis of hearsay that he was inciting terrorism. "This one is easy," he is quoted by aides as saying as he signed the man's death warrant. On 6 June, a drone killed 18 people in a village in Afghanistan, including women, children and the elderly who were celebrating a wedding.

The New York Times article was not a leak or an expose. It was a piece of PR designed by the Obama administration to show what a tough guy the 'commander-in-chief' can be in an election year. If re-elected, Brand Obama will continue serving the wealthy, pursuing truth-tellers, threatening countries, spreading computer viruses and murdering people every Tuesday.

The threats against Syria, co-ordinated in Washington and London, scale new peaks of hypocrisy. Contrary to the raw propaganda presented as news, the investigative journalism of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung identifies those responsible for the massacre in Houla as the 'rebels' backed by Obama and Cameron. The paper's sources include the rebels themselves. This has not been completely ignored in Britain. Writing in his personal blog, ever so quietly, Jon Williams, the BBC world news editor, effectively dishes his own 'coverage', citing western officials who describe the 'psy-ops' operation against Syria as 'brilliant'. As brilliant as the destruction of Libya, and Iraq, and Afghanistan.

And as brilliant as the psy-ops of the Guardian's latest promotion of Alastair Campbell, the chief collaborator of Tony Blair in the criminal invasion of Iraq. In his "diaries", Campbell tries to splash Iraqi blood on the demon Murdoch. There is plenty to drench them all. But recognition that the respectable, liberal, Blair-fawning media was a vital accessory to such an epic crime is omitted and remains a singular test of intellectual and moral honesty in Britain.

How much longer must we subject ourselves to such an "invisible government"? This term for insidious propaganda, first used by Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud and inventor of modern public relations, has never been more apt. "False reality" requires historical amnesia, lying by omission and the transfer of significance to the insignificant. In this way, political systems promising security and social justice have been replaced by piracy, "austerity" and "perpetual war": an extremism dedicated to the overthrow of democracy. Applied to an individual, this would identify a psychopath. Why do we accept it?


Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,362
Has a steel giant’s power stolen my freedom of speech?
http://gamesmonitor.o...­
By Steve Rushton

Olympic sponsor ArcelorMittal appears able to silence a mainstream paper from publishing researched critique.



On Friday 22nd June, the Bread and Circuses collective organised an event that focused on the massive spectacles that distract from austerity, the commodification of art and issues of corporate power. These connections linked together in a temporarily squatted empty property, owned by Anish Kapoor who designed the ArcelorMittal Orbit. This tower was mainly funded as a corporate advertising centre piece for the Olympics, by the world’s largest steel corporation: ArcelorMittal. During the event the Guardian requested a piece; however its legal department pulled it due to the threat of litigation.

The piece was requested for its “Comment is Free” section, which publishes, “a plurality of voices, but our centre of gravity as a progressive, liberal, left-leaning newspaper is clear.” At the last minute though they informed us that their legal department would not run the piece as ArcelorMittal frequently takes its critics to court. This paper regularly prints insightful and vital articles regarding issues of global injustices; nevertheless, its unwillingness here highlights the corporations’ power over mainstream media, even a paper on the progressive left. ArcelorMittal is the largest steel maker in the world, producing 130 million tonnes of steel – the equivalent of approximately 13,000 Eiffel Towers. Lakshmi Mittal, who resides in West London, is the richest man in Britain –worth £12.7 billion according to the Sunday Times Rich list.

This apparent fear to publish, by one of the few progressive mainstream papers in Britain, raises broad questions about corporate power and influence against free speech. Of course the Guardian’s legal team may have been correct, maybe the piece is defamatory. However, you can find assertions made from within this paper’s own pages, web and paper, that support the original article’s legitimacy. I have also re-footnoted the article to use Guardian sources. It seems this broadsheet’s legal team is willing to critique this steel giant in small chunks, although lacks the willingness to allow a combination of these to form into a broader critique.

An analysis of the original article’s assertions reveals that there are probably a few potential points that the paper’s legal team might worry could be interpreted as defamatory statements – against the steel giant’s reputation. This is proving a bit of a crash course in corporate law and revealing the power it wields... A legal advisory website offers the following grounds to defend the freedom of speech: “Under the defence of justification, if it can be proved that the statement is substantially true; then the statement will not be defamatory.” It also asserts that comment is legally protected as long as it is, “An expression of a genuinely held opinion.”

There are many comments in the article about ArcelorMittal, which resulted from genuinely held opinions. There are also assertions of facts, which can be argued as “substantially true” purely by piecing together, footnoting and linking assertions from the Guardian’s own website. This suggests that corporation’s massive legal power means they can dominate the right to free speech within the press. These assertions of fact, that may be considered defamatory, are ArcelorMittal is “complicit in:”human rights abuses stealing of land from poor people ecological damage. The article’s other claims, regarding its mega-industrial development in the Arctic and the denial of access to mourners to a former Bosnian concentration camp, can be directly attributed to Guardian pieces.



In a Guardian article, Rebecca Stewart asserted that rural and indigenous people in the region of Chhattisgarh, India, “Have been told to leave, allegedly by force. Iron ore is beneath the land and a plant has been established to mine it.” She then quoted Professor Kalele, a retired economics professor: "Deforestation isn't the only way the Adivasi are losing out. When an iron ore plant is built, so are dams to provide it with water. The waste pollutes the air and land for miles around."[ii] This seems a damming indictment of the “iron industry”, in this region. This industry includes ArcelorMittal who have united with Indiabulls Real Estate to mine coal and iron ore, the steel giant also has plans to build a mega-steel plant there. This information is available at the India Times.[iii] Indiabulls describe how they want to “acquire” 700 further acres in this region for a power plant, doubling the land they have, this information is readily accessible from this company’s website.[iv]

To the Guardian’s credit, in April 2012, they reported how human rights organisations have accused illegal loggers and militia’s that support them of threatening indigenous peoples’ survival, even using the word “genocide” to describe the threat to the Awa of Brazil. This is one of many excellent stories from the Guardian that frequently draws attention to atrocities, ecological destruction and human rights abuses.

The decision to pull the Bread and Circuses piece highlights how within the mainstream media, corporations can constrain what reporters say. It is strongly feasible that many other corporations use their immense legal clout to continue unethical practices, without public scrutiny. I believe this should change.

The article is below. Despite the reduction in civil liberties, especially around the Olympics, fortunately for the time being corporations cannot sue you for reading it: not yet, at least.

Bread and Circuses, without the bread:
Spectacle to distract from elite greed and austerity measures
Bread and Circuses challenges inequalities within the system and the commodification of art, creating a temporary alternative space. Here dialogue and art can meet for free. The collective behind this project consists of activists, squatters and artists and brings alternative ideas and grounds to challenge the current system. This collective's ethos was driven to make use of this Georgian mansion, which had been empty and going to waste for 3 years.[v] The connection to Anish Kapoor and his ArcelorMittal Orbit meant that it was ideal to bring these issues together. Although the space was going to ruin, since we have made it a temporal autonomous space and we have cleaned it up a great deal. We have removed the piles of rubble and made it safe, removing all the screws that were sticking up from the floor where the carpets had been ripped out.
Wilber W.
WilberWebb
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 4,363
Has a steel giant’s power stolen my freedom of speech?
http://gamesmonitor.o...­
By Steve Rushton

Olympic sponsor ArcelorMittal appears able to silence a mainstream paper from publishing researched critique.



Con....

This event highlights austerity against a backdrop of the publicly funded government ran Olympics and Jubilee events. The phrase 'Bread and Circuses' comes from the political manoeuvring just before the end of the Roman Empire, when the elites attempted to prolong and maintain their position by distracting and appeasing the public with great shows of gladiators, chariot racing and giving away free bread. Further parallels can be drawn between today and Ancient Roman Empire, not just that the current dominant system seems on shaky grounds, but also how it is based on the power of the few benefitting from the endeavours and work of the many.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit greatly represents what is wrong with our economy. Its contorted structure almost seems like a metaphor for the current system: twisted and shaky, corrupted and about to collapse. This is apparently “public art”, it is certainly funded in this way; however, it costs £15 to climb up and look down on those who cannot afford reach its vista.[vi] Public art maybe it is not, instead it is a public-message that seems to show the inequalities in this country and globally, where many are facing redundancies and cuts to vital services, whereas the top FTSE 100 executives are enjoying an average pay rises of 49%. They certainly are enjoying the view.

It is also a huge advertisement for a corporation complicit in human rights abuses, the stealing of land from poor people and ecological destruction: a further symbol of our age. It has faced protests about their plans to build further steel plants in Jharkhand and Orissa, India; these will have a vast ecological impact and destroy the lives, lands and livelihoods of the rural population. As majority shareholder in Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation it will operate in North Canada. This is the largest industrial development ever planned above the Arctic Circle.[vii] This company has also caused outrage in Bosnia, where it acquired and has industrially developed land that was used as a concentration camp during the War in the Former Yugoslavia. Despite pledges to honour the people who were massacred in the town of Omarska in 1992, it has blocked survivors and mourners from entering the site.[viii]

If towers are built to draw attention, this tower may well be perceived as a warning sign, drawing attention to this steel-giant and the other corporations that are sponsoring the Olympics to green-wash and draw attention away from their corporate crimes.

Deciphering what Boris Johnson means from what he says could almost feature as an Olympic event. When he was asked to justify what long-term value will the ArcelorMittal Orbit will bring to East London, his answer reinforce the idea is to put on spectacles in a time of austerity. He said, ‘People will say that we are completely nuts, in the middle of a recession with everybody feeling the squeeze, to be doing something which is, as far as I can understand, the single biggest public art project ever done in this country. People will question why we are doing it now. I think the answer is: because London is the greatest city on earth.’ Maybe because he is nuts he does not realise that everyone is feeling the squeeze - the corporate elites do not seem to be. Although maybe corporate lobbying means there are more cynical reasons for him trying to argue this, ‘we are all in it together,’ party line.

In comparison to Ancient Rome, today’s spectacles differ and are humane; however, the measures for the poor are more severe. In the case of Greece, the austerity measures are already causing starvation. This suffering is being felt across Europe and is predicted to increase even further as the cuts are made deeper. With the excuse of the crisis our lives are being privatized, and the logic of commodification is applied to everything: even art, as the example of an art work named after a steel company shows.

How long the elites expect to stay in their metaphorical towers; driving in their VIP lanes; evading tax and buying the government with lobbying; benefiting financially whilst the world below them suffers is hopefully one of the key questions of our age.

i. The definition of defamation, Contact Law website, http://www.contactlaw...­

ii. Rebecca Stewart, They call this progress? The Guardian, Monday 23 November 2009 http://www.guardian.c...­

iii. ET Bureau, ArcelorMittal, Indiabulls to form JV for coal, iron ore minin, 7th September, 2010, Indian Economic Times http://articles.econo...­

iv. About us section: Indiabulls website, http://www.indiabulls...­

v. http://www.guardian.c...­
“The group says the house has been left empty since the artist – whose ArcelorMittal Orbit tower, a 115-metre tall sculpture and observation platform, dominates the skyline of the Olympic Park in east London – bought it in 2009. Kapoor is listed as director of a company called 1-2 Lincoln's Inn Fields Ltd, the address of the property, which was formed in 2009.”

vi.http://www.guardian.c...­
“(ArcelorMittal gave £16 million). They might also point out that the Anish Kapoor creation has had public funding too (£3.1 million from the London Development Agency).”
http://www.guardian.c...­
“A lot of what is worst about the Olympics is captured by the Orbit... and it will cost £15 to go up to the top.”

vii http://www.guardian.c...­
“Britain's richest man to build giant Arctic iron ore mine: Lakshmi Mittal's 'mega-mine' is believed to be the largest mineral extraction project in the region but threatens unique wildlife.”

viii http://www.guardian.c...­
“There is no memorial to the hundreds, possibly thousands, of Muslims and Catholic Croats who perished in Omarska – a site mined and 51% owned by Britain's richest "non-dom", the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal – although their scattered skeletons and remains continue to be excavated all around the mine.”

Submitted by Mike Wells on Mon, 02/07/2012 - 16:47.
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