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Australia, Media Demand US End Persecution of Julian Assange

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Australia, Media Demand US End Prosecution of Julian Assange

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he recently asked US President Joe Biden’s administration to end the persecution of Wikileaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange.

Albanese’s comments to Parliament on Wednesday appear to increase Australia’s diplomatic pressure on the US to drop spying charges against the 51-year-old resisting extradition from Britain.

“I have personally raised this with representatives of the United States government.” “My position is clear, and it has been made clear to the US administration: it is time to put this matter behind us,” Albanese told Parliament.

“This is a citizen of Australia,” Albanese added. “I don’t sympathize with Mr. Assange’s actions on various issues, but… you have to reach a point where you wonder what the point is of… continuing this legal action that could be caught up now for many years into the future?”

Albanese did not say whether he discussed Assange directly with Biden during a bilateral meeting two weeks ago on the sidelines of a Cambodian summit. However, Albanese stated that he had “recently in meetings” advocated for Assange.

Albanese compared Assange’s treatment to that of Chelsea Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst who the prime minister said was “now able to participate freely in US society.”

Prosecutors in the United States allege that Assange assisted Manning in stealing classified diplomatic cables and military files, which Wikileaks later published, putting lives in danger. Manning’s 35-year sentence was commuted to seven years by then-President Barack Obama, allowing her release in 2017.

Albanese was responding to a question from independent lawmaker Monique Ryan about whether the Australian government would intervene to bring Assange home.

Julian Assange

Since its election in May, Albanese’s government has been cautious about prosecuting Julian Assange. Ministers’ criticisms have been limited to phrases like “dragged on for too long.”

When the British government agreed to extradite Assange in June, Albanese refused to publicly demand that the US drop the prosecution.

“Some people believe that putting things in capital letters and using an exclamation mark on Twitter makes them more important. “No, it doesn’t,” Albanese said at the time.

“I intend to lead a government that engages with our partners diplomatically and appropriately,” Albanese added.

Top media outlets demand US end the prosecution of Julian Assange

Five major news organizations issued an open letter on Monday condemning the US prosecution of Assange, who is wanted on 18 counts, including espionage.

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and press freedom,” The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El Pais editors and publishers wrote.

“Holding governments accountable is part of a free press’s core mission in a democracy.”

The letter arrives exactly 12 years after media outlets published revelations gleaned from Wikileaks’ release of over 250,000 confidential US military records and diplomatic cables, dubbed “Cablegate.”

Julian Assange

Chelsea Manning, a former US soldier, leaked the material to Wikileaks, revealing the inner workings of Washington’s diplomacy worldwide.

According to the letter, the documents revealed “international corruption, diplomatic scandals, and spy affairs.”

“Twelve years after the publication of ‘Cablegate,’ the US government should drop its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing classified information.” “It is not a crime to publish,” the media outlets stated.

According to the 2019 US Justice Department indictment, Assange’s leak caused “serious damage” to US national security and put US government sources in danger of physical harm or detention.

However, Assange’s supporters claim that he is being prosecuted for exposing US wrongdoing, including that committed during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

He remains in British custody pending a US extradition request to face trial, and if found guilty, he could face up to 175 years in prison in the US. Julian Assange has filed an appeal against the British government’s decision to extradite him.

The letter on Monday noted that when Barack Obama was president and Joe Biden was vice president. The US administration delayed indicting Assange because the journalists could have also faced prosecution.

That changed under President Donald Trump when the US Justice Department charged Julian Assange with violating the 1917 Espionage Act, which, according to media outlets, “has never been used to prosecute a publisher or broadcaster.”

The letter is the latest manifestation of public pressure on President Biden’s administration to drop Julian Assange’s prosecution.

Julian Assange

Leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union, urged Washington to drop the charges last year.

“The indictment of Mr. Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in regularly – and that they must engage in to do the work that the public requires,” they wrote.

In July, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wrote a letter to Biden defending Assange and renewing an earlier offer of asylum to the Wikileaks founder.

“I left a letter to the president about Assange, explaining that he did not commit any serious crime, did not kill anyone, did not violate any human rights, that he exercised his freedom, and that arresting him would mean a permanent affront to freedom of expression,” Lopez Obrador said.

Last week, Colombia’s left-wing President Gustavo Petro said he met with Wikileaks representatives and planned to ask Biden not to charge a journalist “just for telling the truth.”

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THAILAND: Rescue Dig Saves Toddler Trapped In Well For One Night

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BANGKOK, Thailand — A 19-month-old girl fell into a dry artesian well shaft at a cassava farm in northern Thailand 18 hours before she was saved. It took rescuers all night to get her out.

Rescuers clapped and cheered as the toddler, the daughter of Myanmar migrant workers, was pulled from the 15-meter (49-foot)-deep well shaft and placed on a stretcher that carried her to an ambulance waiting nearby.

“You guys did an excellent job. “We did it!” exclaimed one rescuer as his colleagues wept and hugged each other in Tak province’s Phop Phra district.

While her parents were working at the plantation, the child fell into the hole late Monday afternoon.

thailand rescue

Rescuers In Thailand Were On The Scene Quickly

The deep pit, dug by the landowner to be an artesian well, was left uncovered after it failed to reach groundwater, according to Phop Phra district chief Sanya Phetset on Tuesday.

According to local media, the first rescuers on the scene shouted down the hole and heard the child cry back. After lowering a camera into the hole to assess the situation, a tube was snaked to provide oxygen.

Using backhoes and other excavation tools, rescuers dug a 30-centimeter-wide trench alongside the pit overnight.

thailand rescue

The Child Is Now Safe And Sound

“At first, it appeared to be a simple operation because it appeared to be loose dirt, but once we started digging, we discovered rock, which made it difficult because excavators cannot dig through it,” Sanya explained.

He explained that the operation was risky because the digging could collapse the well’s sides onto the child.

After being carried to safety, the toddler was immediately taken to Phop Phra Hospital in Thailand.

“She is now safe. “She’s a little tired, but nothing serious,” Sanya explained.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

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Pope Francis Clarifies his Remarks on Homosexuality and Sin

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Pope Francis Clarifies his Remarks on Homosexuality and Sin

Pope Francis has clarified his recent remarks about homosexuality and sin, stating that he was referring to official Catholic moral teaching, which states that any sexual act other than marriage is a sin.

In a Friday note, Francis emphasized that even black-and-white teaching is subject to circumstances that may eliminate the sin.

Francis made the remarks in an interview with The Associated Press on January 24, stating that laws criminalizing homosexuality are “unjust” and that “being homosexual is not a crime.”

As he often does, Francis then imagined a conversation with someone who brought up the issue of the church’s official teaching, which states that homosexual acts are sinful or “intrinsically disordered.”

“All right, but first, let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime,” Francis said in the fictitious conversation. “It is also a sin not to be charitable to one another.”

pope

Pope asked for Clarification.

LGBTQ advocates hailed his comments calling for decriminalizing homosexuality as a watershed moment that would help end harassment and violence against LGBTQ people. However, his use of the word “sin” raised questions about whether he believed that simply being gay was a sin in and of itself.

The Reverand James Martin, an American priest who runs the Outreach ministry for LGBTQ Catholics in the United States, asked Francis for clarification and published the pope’s handwritten response late Friday on the Outreach website.

In his note, Francis reiterated that homosexuality “is not a crime” and that he was trying “to emphasize that criminalization is neither good nor just.”

“When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which states that every sexual act other than marriage is a sin,” Francis wrote in Spanish, emphasizing the final phrase.

However, in a nod to his case-by-case approach to pastoral ministry, Francis noted that even teaching is subject to the circumstances, “which may decrease or eliminate the fault.”

pope

Sex is a Sin, as is Any Sexual Act

He admitted he could have been more specific in his comments to the AP. However, he stated that he was using “natural and conversational language” in the interview, which did not necessitate precise definitions.

“As you can see, I was generally repeating something. ‘Sex is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of the bonds of holy marriage,’ I should have said. This is to speak of ‘the matter’ of sexual sin, but we all know that Catholic morality considers not only the matter but also freedom and intention, and this for all types of sin,” he said.

According to Human Dignity Trust, which works to end such laws, 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide criminalize same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or do impose the death penalty. According to experts, even when laws are not enforced, they contribute to harassment, stigma, and violence against LGBTQ people.

According to Catholic teaching, marriage is a lifelong bond between a man and a woman. It restricts intercourse with married couples and prohibits artificial contraception.

During his decade-long pontificate, Francis has upheld that teaching while prioritizing outreach to LGBTQ people.

Pope Francis has emphasized a more merciful approach to applying church doctrine, preferring to accompany rather than judge people.

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US General Tells His Officers to Prepare for War with China in 2025

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US General Tells His Officers to Prepare for War with China in 2025

In an internal memo, a four-star general in the United States Air Force stated that the US and China risk going to war in two years and advised officers under his command to prepare, including with target practice.

According to NBC, General Mike Minihan, head of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, believes the fight will take place in 2025 but hopes he is wrong. He claimed that presidential elections in the United States and Taiwan in 2024 would allow China to take action against Taiwan.

According to NBC, a Defense Department official stated that the remarks do not represent the Pentagon’s position on China. According to an Air Mobility Command spokesperson, the memo is part of the command’s effort to prepare for conflict if deterrence fails.

The administration of President Joe Biden has repeatedly expressed concern about China’s military buildup and what the US perceives to be a more aggressive Chinese stance toward Taiwan.

According to the administration’s national security strategy, China is the only US competitor “with the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so.”

China has slammed the latest US defense spending bill, which allows up to $10 billion in weapons sales to Taiwan, for exaggerating the China threat and meddling in its internal affairs.

china

Blinken Conerned Over Taiwan and China

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about Beijing’s intentions regarding Taiwan as he prepares for a rare visit to Beijing, China.

When asked if the temperature had cooled with China during a visit to the University of Chicago, Blinken replied, “I think so because when you’re talking and engaging, it tends to have that effect.”

“The rest of the world anticipates that we will manage this relationship responsibly. “They understand that how we manage it will also impact them,” he said.

According to Taipei Times, Blinken will visit Beijing from February 5 to 6, marking the first US secretary of state visit to the rising Asian power since October 2018.

The trip was decided after US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping () met in November in Bali, Indonesia, to discuss wide-ranging disagreements between the world’s two largest economies.

Blinken, on the other hand, expressed concern about Taiwan, citing Beijing’s growing efforts to isolate the country and major military exercises conducted near it in August.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is, I believe, China deciding that it was no longer comfortable with the status quo, a status quo that had prevailed for decades and had been successful in terms of our countries’ relationship and managing what a difficult situation is,” he said.

“What we say to China is that — they say this is a sovereign issue for us; we respond that this is an interest to the United States and countries all over the world,” Blinken said, referring to Taiwan’s dominance in semiconductors, which is critical to the global economy.

Any disruption of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait would be disastrous for the global economy, he said, adding that 50 percent of container ships operating around the world pass through the Taiwan Strait and that Taiwan manufactures 70 percent of higher-end computer chips.

Blinken was in Chicago for a trip that included a stop at the city’s historic Ukrainian community to discuss the response to Russia’s invasion.

By: Geoff Thomas

China Records 1st Population Drop In Decades As Births Fall

China Records 1st Population Drop In Decades As Births Fall

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