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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.”

Geoff Thomas is a seasoned staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. With his sharp writing skills and deep understanding of SEO, he consistently delivers high-quality, engaging content that resonates with readers. Thomas' articles are well-researched, informative, and written in a clear, concise style that keeps audiences hooked. His ability to craft compelling narratives while seamlessly incorporating relevant keywords has made him a valuable asset to the VORNews team.

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HAITI: Haitians Scramble To Survive, Seeking Food, Water And Safety As Gang Violence Chokes The Capital

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Port-au-Prince, Haiti – As the sun sets, a hefty man yells into a megaphone, drawing a curious crowd around him. Next to him is a little cardboard box containing many currencies worth 10 Haitian gourdes, or around 7 US cents.

“Everyone give whatever they have!” the man yells as he grabs the arms and hands of individuals approaching a district in the capital of Port-au-Prince that has been targeted by violent gangs.

The community recently voted to purchase a metal barricade and construct it themselves in an effort to protect inhabitants from the unrelenting violence that killed or maimed over 2,500 people in Haiti between January and March.

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HAITI Scramble To Survive, Seeking Food, Water And Safety As Gang Violence Chokes The Capital

“Every day, I wake up and find a dead body,” said Noune-Carme Manoune, an immigration officer.

Life in Port-au-Prince has become a survival game, pushing Haitians to their limits as they struggle to keep secure and alive while gangs outnumber the police and the government is mainly absent. Some are erecting metal barricades. Others accelerate aggressively as they approach gang-controlled regions. The few who can afford it hoard water, food, money, and medicine, all of which have become scarce since the main international airport shuttered in early March. Marauding bandits have effectively stopped the country’s largest ports.

“People in the capital are trapped; they have nowhere to go,” stated Philippe Branchat, the International Organization for Migration’s leader in Haiti, in a recent statement. “The capital is surrounded by armed groups and threats. “The city is under siege.”

Phones frequently buzz with warnings reporting gunshots, kidnappings, and fatal shootings, and some shops have so many armed guards that they resemble tiny police stations.

Gang attacks were once limited to specific places, but they can now occur anywhere and at any time. Staying at home does not ensure safety: A stray gunshot hit a man in the back while he was playing with his daughter at home. Others were killed.

Schools and petrol stations are closed, with fuel on the illicit market retailing for $9 per gallon, or about three times the official price. Banks now ban consumers from withdrawing more than $100 per day, and cheques that used to clear in three days now take a month or more. Police officers must wait weeks to be paid.

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Haitians Scramble To Survive, Seeking Food, Water And Safety As Gang Violence Chokes The Capital

“Everyone is under stress,” said Isidore Gédéon, a 38-year-old guitarist. “People are distrustful of one another following the prison breach. The state does not have control.”

On February 29, gangs with an estimated 80% control of Port-au-Prince initiated coordinated attacks on crucial governmental infrastructure. They set fire to police stations, attacked the airport, and stormed Haiti’s two largest prisons, freeing over 4,000 inmates.

At the time, Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in Kenya to advocate for the deployment of a police force supported by the United Nations. Henry is still barred from entering Haiti, and a transitional presidential committee charged with appointing the country’s new prime minister and Cabinet might be inaugurated in as soon as this week. Henry has promised to quit once a new leader has been installed.

Few expect that this will be the end of the crisis. Not only are gangs causing bloodshed, but Haitians have also embraced a vigilante movement known as “bwa kale,” which has slain several hundred suspected gang members or associates.

“There are certain communities I can’t go to because everyone is scared of everyone,” he stated. “You could be innocent, and you end up dead.”

In only one month, more than 95,000 people have fled Port-au-Prince as gangs invade towns, torch homes, and kill people in opposing territory.

Those fleeing by bus to Haiti’s southern and northern provinces face the possibility of being gang-raped or killed as they transit through gang-controlled areas where gunmen have opened fire.

According to the International Organization for Migration, violence in the capital has rendered approximately 160,000 people homeless.

“This is hell,” said Nelson Langlois, a producer and camera operator.

Langlois, his wife, and their three children spent two nights sleeping flat on their home’s roof as gangs raided the neighborhood.

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Haitians Scramble To Survive, Seeking Food, Water And Safety As Gang Violence Chokes The Capital

“Time after time, we peered over to see when we could flee,” he said.

Langlois, who was forced to split up due to a lack of shelter, now lives at a Vodou temple while his wife and children reside somewhere in Port-au-Prince.

Langlois, like the majority of city dwellers, spends much of his time indoors. The days of playing pickup soccer on dirt roads and drinking Prestige beer in pubs while listening to hip-hop, reggae, or African music are over.

“It’s an open-air prison,” Langlois explained.

The violence has also pushed companies, government organizations, and schools to close, leaving many Haitians unemployed.

Manoune, a government immigration official, stated that she has been making money by selling treated water because she is out of work due to postponed deportations.

Meanwhile, Gédéon stated that he no longer plays the drums for a living, saying that pubs and other venues have closed. He sells small plastic bags of water on the street and has worked as a handyman, repairing fans and fixing appliances.

As the crisis worsens poverty in Haiti, students are also entering the workforce.

Sully, a tenth-grade student whose school stopped over two months ago, stood on a street corner in Pétion-Ville, selling fuel he bought on the illegal market.

“You have to be careful,” added Sully, who requested that his last name be omitted for safety reasons. “During the morning it’s safer.”

He sells approximately five gallons every week, earning about $40 for his family, but he can’t afford to join his classmates who are learning online.

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Haitians Scramble To Survive, Seeking Food, Water And Safety As Gang Violence Chokes The Capital

“Online class is for people more fortunate than me, who have more money,” he remarked.

The European Union confirmed last week the establishment of a humanitarian air bridge from Panama to Haiti. Five flights arrived in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti’s only working airport, bringing 62 tons of medicine, water, emergency shelter equipment, and other crucial supplies.However, crucial items cannot be guaranteed to reach those in most need. Many Haitians are still confined in their homes, unable to buy or look for food amid flying gunshots.

According to aid organizations, approximately 2 million Haitians are on the edge of hunger, including over 600,000 children.

Nonetheless, individuals are devising strategies to survive.

Back in the area, residents are putting up a metal barricade, and sparks fly as one man cuts metal while others shovel and mix concrete. They are well into the project and aim to complete it soon.

Others are doubtful, noting accounts of gangs jumping into loaders and other heavy machinery to demolish police stations and, most lately, metal barricades.

SOURCE – (AP)

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North Korea Fires Suspected Short-Range Missiles Into The Sea In Its Latest Weapons Test

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea test-fired suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Monday, according to its neighbors, as anticipation grew that it might soon send a forbidden satellite into orbit.

According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the weapons launched from the North’s capital region flew for roughly 300 kilometers (185 miles) before crashing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The ranges indicate that the weapons might target locations in South Korea.

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North Korea Fires Suspected Short-Range Missiles Into The Sea In Its Latest Weapons Test

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sharply criticized the launches, calling them a “clear provocation” that jeopardized peace on the Korean Peninsula. It stated that it will be prepared to “overwhelmingly” respond to North Korean provocations in accordance with its military alliance with the United States.

Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, told reporters that North Korea launched at least one ballistic missile that flew 250 kilometers (155 miles) at a maximum height of 50 kilometers (30 miles). He claimed that North Korea’s frequent missile testing and other provocative activities endanger the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community.

The Japanese coast guard advised ships to exercise caution around falling items, although there were no immediate reports of damage.

North Korea has escalated its weapons testing in recent months as it seeks to improve its military capabilities, while diplomacy with the United States and South Korea has stalled. According to observers, North Korea believes that upgrading its military arsenal will give it leverage to gain larger concessions from the United States if negotiations begin.

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North Korea Fires Suspected Short-Range Missiles Into The Sea In Its Latest Weapons Test

North Korea announced on Saturday that it tested a “super-large” cruise missile warhead and a new anti-aircraft missile in a western coastal area last week. North Korea also tested a solid-fuel intermediate-range missile with hypersonic warhead capabilities in early April, a weapon experts believe is intended to attack remote sites in the United States Pacific island of Guam and elsewhere.

North Korea has already tested nuclear-armed missiles capable of striking targets in South Korea, Japan, and the mainland United States. Many experts believe North Korea already has nuclear missiles capable of reaching all of South Korea and Japan, but it has yet to create operational intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental United States.

In response to North Korea’s growing nuclear threats, the United States and South Korea have increased bilateral military drills and trilateral exercises with Japan. Kim Myung-soo, chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with U.S. Space Command Commander Stephen N. on Monday to discuss addressing North Korean threats, according to the South Korean military.

Some experts believe North Korea may launch its second spy satellite this month to commemorate a significant milestone, such as the April 15 birthday of its founder, Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of leader Kim Jong Un, or the April 25 founding anniversary of a predecessor of the North’s military.

Resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council prohibit North Korea from launching ballistic missiles or satellites. The world body views a satellite launch as a test of its banned ballistic missile technology.

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North Korea Fires Suspected Short-Range Missiles Into The Sea In Its Latest Weapons Test

South Korea’s military said Monday that it had discovered evidence that North Korea is preparing to launch a spy satellite, but there are no indications that it is near.

North Korea sent its first military spy satellite into orbit in November, although its capabilities are widely questioned. In late December, Kim Jong Un announced that North Korea would launch three additional military spy satellites in 2024.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Children Of Flint Water Crisis Make Change As Young Environmental And Health Activists

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Flint, Michigan – Their childhood memories remain vivid: cautions against drinking or cooking with tap water, waiting in lengthy lines for cases of water, and washing in buckets filled with warm, bottled water. Some people have stomachaches, skin rashes, and hair loss.

On April 25, 2014, ten years ago, city and state environmental officials in Flint raised champagne glasses as the mayor depressed a button to stop the flow of Lake Huron water that Detroit had been supplying for almost 50 years. That triggered a public health disaster including lead and bacteria from which the city has yet to recover.

However, dozens of water crisis survivors, now teenagers and young adults, have used their pain to advocate for change. They provide feedback on public health programs, participate in social problem campaigns, distribute filters, and offer free water testing to households.

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Children Of Flint Water Crisis Make Change As Young Environmental And Health Activists

They realize Flint is still struggling. The population has decreased by approximately 20,000 over the last decade, leaving abandoned houses as targets for arsonists. Almost 70% of children live in poverty, and many struggle in school.

Despite the fact that the water has been confirmed safe to drink, there is widespread skepticism, and hundreds of lead water pipes remain in place since householders were given the option of not replacing them.

However, the young activists say they want to make a difference and change the way outsiders perceive their community. They seek to defy expectations.

“One of the biggest issues about growing up in Flint is that people had already decided and predetermined who we were,” said Cruz Duhart, a 22-year-old Flint Public Health Youth Academy member.

“They had ideas about our IQ, about behavioral things, but they never really stopped to speak to us and how we thought about it and the type of traumas that we were going through.”

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Children Of Flint Water Crisis Make Change As Young Environmental And Health Activists

Sima Gutierrez, 16, has always found it easier to express herself through painting. Drawings, paintings, and wire sculptures adorn her family’s neat cottage.

The self-described “very shy” teen, who rarely spoke up for fear of being ignored, now collects water samples from people’s homes and transports them to the Flint Community Water Lab, where over 60 high school and college interns have provided free testing to thousands of residents since 2020.

As a member of the Flint Public Health Youth Academy, she assisted in the planning of public awareness campaigns on issues such as gun violence and how racism impacts public health.

“I wanted to be surrounded by people who weren’t going to cover up the whole fact that people are still having problems,” Sima remarked. “I was able to … share my life (with) anybody else who’s going through what I’m going through.”

She complained a decade ago that drinking water made her stomach pain. Her mother insisted that it would help Sima’s body flush out the medication she was taking for an autoimmune disease, which was causing her hair to come out in sections and leaving her skin with light blotches.

Residents began reporting skin rashes and complaints about discolored, odorous, and foul-tasting water shortly after the city began drawing from the Flint River to save money before it could connect to a new Lake Huron pipeline. However, they were told that everything was alright.

Sima claimed she was unaware of the issues until one of her elementary school classmates, Mari Copeny, a 7-year-old beauty pageant winner known as Little Miss Flint, started protesting. Mari became the crisis’s face, and she continues to raise awareness of environmental justice concerns among her almost 200,000 Instagram followers, as well as funds for water filters that she distributes in communities around the United States.

“I want to keep on using my voice to spread awareness about the Flint water crisis because it’s not just Flint that has a water crisis,” Mari went on to say. “America has a water crisis.”

Almost a year and a half after Flint made the transition, homeowners dissatisfied with the water quality contacted an expert, who discovered excessive lead levels caused by the city’s inability to add chemicals that prevent pipe corrosion. State officials had stated that these were superfluous. Around the same time, a pediatrician observed that levels in children’s blood had doubled since the changeover.

Outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease, which resulted in a dozen deaths, were eventually traced to the city’s water supply.

Flint reconnected to its previous water line shortly thereafter, but the pipes continued to leak lead. The state gave households filters and bottled water.

Lead is a strong neurotoxin that can harm children’s brains and neurological systems, impairing learning, behavior, hearing, and speaking. There is no safe level of exposure throughout childhood, and issues can appear years later.

Dionna Brown, who was 14 when the water crisis started, grew interested in lobbying after taking an environmental inequality class at Howard University. She’s now building her life around it, pursuing a master’s degree in sociology at Wayne State University with the goal of becoming an environmental justice lawyer.

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Children Of Flint Water Crisis Make Change As Young Environmental And Health Activists

She is also the national director of Young, Gifted & Green’s youth environmental justice initiative, which was previously known as Black Millennials for Flint and was formed by Washington advocates to help Flint recover from the disaster.

Every year, Brown hosts a two-week summer environmental justice camp in Flint to educate youth about policy, climate justice, sustainability, and housing inequality. She also works with children in Baltimore and Memphis.

She claimed that the Flint water crisis strengthened the children’s resilience.

“I tell people all the time: I’m a child of the Flint water crisis,” Brown added. “I love my city. And we made it clear to the world that you couldn’t just poison a city and expect people to forget about it.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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