Robert Johnson writes: Re. “When it comes to Assange r-pe case, the Swedes are making it up as they go along” (yesterday, item 3). James D Catlin’s summary of events in the Swedish — now international — pursuit of Julian Assange must be strange and distressing reading for the countless millions of women and girls around the world whose violent r-pes go unprosecuted or even investigated, even despite the presence of severe physical and emotional injuries and other evidence that appears to be absent in this particular Swedish instance.

It is hardly reassuring that the upper echelons of key agencies in the USA and elsewhere are taking such vigorous steps to pursue Mr Assange for the s-x crimes he is purported to have committed.  The patently ulterior motives that they have in doing so is a further insult to those countless women and girls who have been and continue to be cast aside by due process. The international cooperation on this Swedish charge is, of course, the latest reprise of WMD(istraction) that seeks to overshadow clear evidence of state  violation of international law or, simply, their diplomatic embarrassment.

The associated “debate” about the legality or otherwise of the release of official documents suffers from official spin that is still confused as to whether to portray the content of the leaked documents as, on the one hand, irrelevant or unremarkable or already known (downplay it, as Guy Rundle reported yesterday) being the approach of the former US under-secretary of state), or, on the other, as life-threatening (former President Clinton’s latest contribution, perhaps as a smokescreen for the Secretary of State).

My reading of the reportage on the leaked documents so far suggests that the world will be a better place for revelations of state illegality or diplomatic duplicity, and the question now is whether governments will clean up their act or simply find new means of being two-faced and hypocritical.

Unfortunately, much of the mainstream media seems ready to cooperate in a (potentially literal) “shoot the messenger” campaign that gets the real issues of international criminality by key states off the front pages. This should start with the earlier WikiLeaks evidence of US war crimes in Afghanistan and, more recently, Secretary of State Clinton’s instruction to violate international law against the UN (did President Obama know and/or sanction that directive?).

Prime Minister Gillard’s apparent lack of seduction by international diplomacy that leads others to posture and grandstand, as well as her obligations to Australian citizens abroad, should invite a far more reasoned and nuanced Australian government position than has so far been evident.

(I have drafted several UN reports that include reference to the use of r-pe and s-xual exploitation by members of national and international agencies and forces, and am accustomed to the silence of and inaction by states to such criminal acts, even despite abundant documentation to enable official state actions, in marked contrast to that being taken so promptly against Mr Assange on the evidently flimsiest of grounds, at best.  In these instances, the women and girls are from developing countries, the violations are — it seems to me — abundantly more serious, and the domestic and international law is clearer.)

Philippa O’Brien writes: Re. “Rundle: the GFC, WikiLeaks collide … and the world just shifted” (Wednesday, item 1). Having just spent a week being unable to pay wages to people working for me as well as my own bills, courtesy of NAB, has been a salutary moment for me too. There is something in the air.

$20,000 of my money is currently in the ether (or is it the air) and nobody can find it. I use a credit union — but indirectly NAB and everything happened NAB to NAB. I still don’t have the money. I’m sure WikiLeaks can bring down the banking system — but they probably won’t need to.

This is a major crack in the fragile reality of the economy — the very fabric of everyday life.

Terry Mills writes: Re. “Rundle: WikiLeaks … diplomacy out the door and instead, talk of execution” (yesterday, item 2). The fact that a 23 year old private was able to access all this data and download it is the real story and says volumes about the lax security at the US State Department and others.

Don’t blame Julian Assange, he couldn’t just sit on this stuff and even if he is taken out (Mossad style?) there will always be somebody else to publish the material provided there are disaffected employees prepared to blow the whistle.

Bendigo Health:

Cam Simpson writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Curious that yesterday’s Crikey Daily Mail had a submission regarding Bendigo Health choosing to opt out of being the designated rural health service to take part in the home birth trial.  That decision was made in late 2009.

Bendigo Health have indicated that they will adopt the program if and when the trial proves that such a program can work.  It was considered by senior obstetricians and the health service management that as resources were already stretched that the trial should be conducted at a different rural health service under less pressure. They are in the best position to judge.

I consider it likely the “tip” yesterday is from an axe-grinder outside of this group…


Wayne Hall  writes: Re. “Come in Spinner: the conventional wisdom is always wrong” (yesterday, item 12). Noel Turnbull  claims that “while there continue to be serious problems with alcohol abuse, per capita consumption levels have been falling for some time.”

If he took the trouble to read the ABS’s most recent publication (rather than repeat alcohol industry disinformation) he would discover that per capita alcohol consumption increased in Australia over the past decade, until the alcopops tax was introduced!


Gavin Moodie writes: It would be good if Crikey were to set an example to those of us in the US sphere of influence by calling the country between Canada and Mexico the United States of America, the United States, USA, US or Obama’s joint.

Calling it “America” as Crikey’s anonymous editorial, Rundle, Keane and Dyer and Dyer do in Thursday’s daily mail extends the US’ cultural, military and economic hegemony to a geographic hegemony.

“America” is the name of the continent that runs from Canada to Chile that has 35 countries, 23 in North America and 12 in South America.

A fulsome apology:

Dave Horsfall writes: Re. “Posetti receives letter of demand from Chris Mitchell, and a special invitation” (yesterday, item 6). Andrew Dodd writes: “It is understood that Mitchell is not pursuing damages but is demanding a fulsome apology…”  Either Dodd or Mitchell does not understand the meaning of the word “fulsome”.