Julian Assange’s legal victory this week was bittersweet. In a stunning decision, British judge Vanessa Baraitser denied Donald Trump’s request for extradition of Assange to the United States, ruling that he was at high risk of suicide if he were extradited because the U.S. prison system could not protect him.
But at the same time, Baraitser spent most of her 132-page decision supporting the Trump administration’s case against Assange, which amounts to the criminalization of national security journalism.
The importance of the January 5 Senate runoff elections in Georgia cannot be overestimated. They will determine which party controls the Senate, with vast ramifications for economic policy, climate change, workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, judicial nominees, and much more. The purging of nearly 200,000 registered voters from the voting rolls in Georgia could spell the difference between a Republican or a Democratic majority in the Senate.
In October 2019, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger purged 313,243 people from the voter rolls, claiming they had moved from their registration residence, which is a ground for removal under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). But five top expert firms hired by the Palast Investigative Fund (PIF) determined that 198,351 of those Georgia voters had not moved at all and were therefore illegally purged from the rolls.
Shortly after the public lynching of George Floyd, the U.S. Human Rights Network and the ACLU organized an international coalition of more than 600 organizations and individuals to urge the United Nations Human Rights Council to convene a commission of inquiry to investigate systemic racism and police brutality in the United States. George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, addressed the Council by video, stating, “You in the United Nations are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America.” He implored the UN, “I’m asking you to help us — Black people in America.”
However, the Trump administration lobbied heavily against this investigation, objecting to limiting the inquiry to the U.S. The Council subsequently declined a request by a group of African countries within the Council to establish the inquiry commission. “The outcome is a result of the pressure, the bullying that the United States did, assisted by many of its allies,” said Jamil Dakwar, the ACLU’s human rights program director.
In the weeks remaining before Joe Biden’s inauguration, Donald Trump is taking actions — including aiding and abetting murder — to prevent his successor from pursuing diplomacy with Iran.
On November 27, Israel assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist. International law expert Richard Falk called it “an outrageous act of state terrorism.” Although the Israeli government has not claimed credit for the illegal killing, there is little doubt of its culpability. Trump implicitly praised the assassination, retweeting a comment by Israeli journalist and intelligence expert Yossi Melman that the killing was a “major psychological and professional blow” to Iran. This was an “implicit approval if there ever was one,” according to Sina Toossi, a senior research analyst at the National Iranian American Council.
Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump is monumental. After four years of nonstop cruelty against workers, the poor, people of color, women, LBGTQ folks, immigrants, Muslims, the environment, the climate, and the foreign victims of Trump’s bombs, we can breathe a sigh of relief.
But no sooner did Biden win the election, then centrists in the Democratic Party began blaming the left for the loss of seats in the House of Representatives and the failure to decisively regain control of the Senate.
In fact, progressives played a pivotal role in delivering the presidency to Biden and several congressional races to Democrats as well as turning Georgia and Arizona blue. Now progressives must hold Biden’s feet to the fire and demand that he govern for the 99 percent and not the 1 percent.
Joe Biden has won states worth 306 Electoral College votes, 36 more than the 270 needed to win, and received in excess of 5 million more popular votes than Donald Trump. Yet Trump insists the election was stolen from him and he is the victor.
Trump started attacking the election months before it happened. He leveled unsupported charges of massive voter fraud from mail-in ballots to create doubt about the integrity of the election. Knowing that Democrats would cast mail ballots in the midst of the pandemic, Trump told his supporters to vote in person on Election Day to prematurely inflate his vote totals.
When he had an apparent lead on election night, Trump claimed victory and demanded that the vote-counting stop. Sure enough, as the tabulations continued, the mail ballots counted after Election Day put Biden over the top.
As masses of people poured into the streets to celebrate the end of Donald Trump’s fascist rule, the lame duck president’s lawyers were filing frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to nullify Joe Biden’s victory. But none of these suits, even if successful, would change the results of the election.
Shortly after CNN called the election for Biden, Trump said in a statement, “Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.”
First of all, only prosecutors prosecute cases — in criminal court. Private litigants in civil cases are called plaintiffs. And second, anyone who has the money to hire a lawyer can bring a lawsuit about anything. Thousands of legal actions are filed every day, but very few are taken seriously by judges. It’s unclear whether Trump is even paying his hired guns; Rudy Giuliani once said he works for Trump without pay.
Desperate to distract the national discourse from his criminal mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump is promising that a vaccine will be available before Election Day. His vaccine campaign is named “Operation Warp Speed” and there is a real danger that its speed will warp the results. Ironically, the Trump administration is comparing this effort to the Manhattan Project, the highly secret government program to develop the first atomic bomb. “This isn’t a secret government weapon we’re trying to keep from an enemy,” said David Mitchell, founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs. “The enemy is the virus. This is actually a rescue mission to save Americans and humanity from the virus.”
Vaccines generally take 10 years to develop, test and distribute. The shortest time it has taken to develop a vaccine is four years. Yet four pharmaceutical companies are in late stages of clinical trials. Pfizer, apparently the front-runner in the vaccine race, says it won’t have results before mid-November. Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson say they hope to have results by the end of the year.
During her Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Amy Coney Barrett refused to say that voter intimidation is illegal, that armed poll watchers are intimidating, that voter discrimination exists, whether the president could deny someone the right to vote based on race or that Congress has a constitutional duty to protect the right to vote.
She refused to affirm that Medicare is constitutional; that married couples should not lose their right to contraceptives; that a Black worker repeatedly called the N-word was subjected to a hostile work environment; that it’s wrong to separate children from their parents at the border; or that marriage equality, the right to consensual gay sex and LGBTQ workers’ rights should be protected. Barrett would not say that human beings are responsible for climate change or that the Constitution requires a peaceful transfer of power.
Three weeks of testimony in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London underscored WikiLeaks’s extraordinary revelation of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. But the Trump administration is seeking to extradite Assange to the United States to stand trial for charges under the Espionage Act that could cause him to spend 175 years in prison.
Assange founded WikiLeaks during the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” which was used as a pretext to start two illegal wars and carry out a widespread program of torture and abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo and the CIA black sites. On October 8, 2011, Assange told a Stop the War Coalition rally in London’s Trafalgar Square, “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”