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Emma Elsworthy

Assange has ‘proof’ of CIA assassination plot


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team told the High Court in London they have proof there was a CIA plot during Donald Trump’s presidency to kidnap or assassinate him when he lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the BBC reports. Lawyer Mark Summers alleged senior CIA officials requested plans, Trump requested ways to do it and “sketches were even drawn up”. A court in Spain is looking into whether a Spanish security firm spied on him during those seven years. Assange’s team also warned of “extra-legal attack elimination” in the US, as The Guardian reports, particularly if Trump becomes president again. Assange didn’t attend court, or appear by video, because he was too mentally and physically sick. His team is appealing his extradition to the US to face espionage charges — if rejected, his legal options in the UK are exhausted. But only a limited number of people were able to witness the proceedings, the Beeb notes, and journalists got a dodgy audio feed.

Meanwhile, Chinese-Australian democracy blogger Yang Hengjun’s family says he will not appeal his suspended death sentence, the ABC reports, because he’s too sick and Beijing’s court system isn’t “capable of remedying the injustice of his sentence” anyway. He was convicted of espionage in closed court after five years of incarceration, and his sentence could become life in prison after two years of good behaviour. But his friend said he was hoping for medical parole or humanitarian release because Yang has a large kidney cyst. The family also noted “harsh conditions in the detention centre, including enforced sleep deprivation, erratic medication and being strapped to a tiger chair“. Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said she understood the difficult decision not to appeal, and that we’ll continue to fight for him in the “harrowing” ordeal. Finally, the ABC has published a fascinating and gutwrenching story about the Arctic “Polar Wolf” penal colony where former Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died.


Here are the people who have donated more than $600 to expelled Liberal Moira Deeming’s war chest in her defamation battle with Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto: former politician Clive Palmer and his wife Anna Palmer, “No” campaigner Warren Nyunggai Mundine, property developer Hilton Grugeon, Advance Australia backer Steve Baxter, Colorpak packaging company founder Walter Commins, Sydney Catholic media company Parousia’s Kevin Bailey, and Women’s Forum Australia’s Stephanie Bastiaan, who is married to former Liberal Party powerbroker Marcus Bastiaan. There are more, The Australian ($) notes, but parliamentary disclosure rules say anything under $600 can stay quiet. Backing Pesutto are former Liberal premiers Jeff Kennett, Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine. It started when Deeming spoke at an anti-trans rally outside Victorian Parliament, as Guardian Australia reported, where neo-Nazis performed Nazi salutes before cops escorted them out. Deeming says that had nothing to do with her, but Pesutto suspended her and she was expelled shortly after.

Meanwhile, the ABC’s Media Watch has infuriated some Jewish leaders this week by saying the broadcaster was the only media organisation in Australia that was giving equal Israel-Palestine coverage, The Australian ($) reports. It’s per “preliminary analysis” by academic Susan Carland for the Islamophobia Register, though she told the paper the research was “limited to the Instagram posts of the six outlets” and not definitive. The SMH and The Age failed to show victims from both sides, Paul Barry said, but The Australian failed much worse. One leader remarked it was no surprise Barry praised the ABC, but he’s certainly not been afraid to condemn his own workplace in the past. At least 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s air and ground offensive since October 7, the SMH says.


Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is wrong to say Labor cut the border force budget and The Age has the receipts. Spending on border enforcement will reach almost $1.3 billion this year, budget papers show, and it increased last year above what the Coalition spent. So why did Dutton say otherwise? Even though we’re adding $32 million for maritime patrols and surveillance flights, both were slightly scaled back — to “2,182 maritime patrol days last year” — the paper doesn’t say from what — “while surveillance flights were cut by 14% to 12,691 flying hours”. Still, Dutton’s claims were “easily disprovable lies”, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said. Fairly Trumpian too, and not by accident, one might think. Meanwhile, we all need to stop being so “timid”, former prime minister Paul Keating urged us all in his 80th year. He spoke to AFR about several things, including that US President Joe Biden is not fit to serve another term.

Meanwhile, Dutton says it’s right that we lock up children as young as 10. That’s the age of criminal responsibility and it shouldn’t change, he said, because kids know they are committing serious offences. Really? Dutton also told the Herald Sun that the Coalition is working on a private members bill that would make it a crime for people to post photos and videos of their offences because kids are “stealing high-end merchandise, handbags and motor vehicles” and “taking photos of elderly women and people who are scared in their homes”. It comes as Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll will need to be replaced within two weeks after vacating the post early amid Queensland’s policing mess — Brisbane Times lists “debate over crime, soaring domestic violence offences, and sweeping reforms recommended by a damning inquiry into a police culture of sexism, racism and misogyny”.


Melbourne woman Tenille Smith’s throat was hoarse from screaming along to her very favourite Taylor Swift song — Cruel Summer — when she felt something deep inside. Heavily pregnant, she’d had twinges that morning but shrugged them off as Braxton Hicks. Sure, she was two days past her due date, but she’d never seen the pop star perform before and it was a real dream come true, so she’d pulled on her pink cowboy boots and a sparkly dress to head to the MCG. Standing there with 96,000 elated others in the stadium, however, the 29-year-old suddenly knew she was in labour. But what are you gonna do? It’s Taylor Swift. “I knew I wasn’t going to leave,” she told The Age. So Smith took a seat and happily bopped her way through the rest of the concert.

When the lights went down for the last time and Swift said goodnight, Smith’s best friends took charge with military precision, yelling at others to get the heck out of the way — we’ve got a baby on the way! Smith was waddling through the crowd with a hand on her stomach, practising her best poker face, while her husband nervously loitered, engine on, in the car park. Clamouring in the car, Smith told him she’d better get changed out of her party clothes at home, and then the pair raced to the hospital. Just 20 minutes later, Smith held her baby daughter in her arms, delirious with delight. The couple christened her Sloane Tayla Smith, as a tribute to the joyful evening. “It was definitely a night to remember,” Smith says.

Hoping nothing gets in the way of your dream coming true.


Prime minister, if you are signing pledges that you have made, can I suggest one? In fact, I have written it down for you here… You can sign just there. If you’d like to. I could write, the Labor government will lower the cost of living. Would you sign anyone’s arm who had that written?

Paul Murray

Why on earth didn’t Prime Minister Anthony Albanese think of that? He should go straight to the cost of living room at Parliament House, march right up to that cost of living dial, and simply push it right down to “low”. Thank goodness for our Sky News Australia commentators.


Never mind the ACCC, Banducci, in Europe they fight anti-competitive behaviour with dawn raids!

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci on ABC’s Four Corners (Image: ABC)

“The European Commission raided fragrance and fashion companies, including Gucci-owner Kering, the energy drink maker Red Bull and more, all on suspicion of having violated EU anti-trust laws. The commission also raided tyre companies including Pirelli and Michelin for suspected cartel activity.

“In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority accused food producers of contributing to food-price inflation by pushing up prices by more than their costs after launching an inquiry into the groceries sector.”

Labor highlights tax cuts in Dunkley campaign, while Liberals go after Albo


“But if the Liberal Party ads seem homely and uplifting, don’t judge until you’ve seen what Advance Australia is putting out in its ads. The conservative lobby group, which rose to prominence due to its work opposing the First Nations Voice to Parliament in the referendum campaign last year, has spent up to $14,000 on Facebook ads since February 1, 87% of which have been targeted at Victorians.

“The ads frequently attack Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and common themes include unaffordable housing, ‘brutal’ financial burdens for families, and phrases such as ‘ute tax’. A Victorian Liberal source told Crikey that the cost of living would be the biggest issue for voters in the by-election.”


Meat us halfway: Culture warriors ham it up over diet advice


“Ignoring the really, really obvious historical example of an extremely right-wing vegetarian, the cucks who would have our children never know the joys of a pork chop would be unlikely to find many friends among the ‘vegan mafia’ of Silicon Valley investors in plant-based food companies.

“This group includes such progressive icons as publication assassin and Donald Trump enthusiast Peter Thiel and (one-time vegetarian) Elon Musk. John Mackey, the strict vegetarian whose Whole Foods empire was the first supermarket change to set humane standards for animal treatment, is also a union-hating climate change sceptic libertarian who complained about ‘socialists taking over’ when he retired in 2022.”


US vetoes another UN Security Council resolution urging Gaza war ceasefire (Al Jazeera)

World Food Programme stops deliveries to northern Gaza (BBC)

First Neuralink human trial subject can control a computer mouse with brain implant, Elon Musk says (CNN)

Do the Falklands belong to the United Kingdom? New poll shows not everyone in Europe agrees (euronews)

Iconic Auckland Eats 2024 awards: Top 100 iconic dishes revealed (NZ Herald)

Marine Le Pen to defy Macron’s request not to attend event for WW2 resistance hero (The Guardian)

Canada’s inflation rate slowed to 2.9% in January as gas prices fell (CBC)

Wall Street is already placing bets on the Biden-Trump rematch (The New York Times) ($)


‘A cross between a damp squib and a huge con job’Greg Sheridan (The Australian) ($): “As predicted, the announcement from Defence Minister Richard Marles offers almost no new money and no immediate acquisition of new capabilities, but abounds in grandiloquent promises for the unaccountable distant future. Here are a few central facts. The government is dividing the surface fleet into tier-one ships, tier-two ships and others. The bottom line is we don’t get a new tier-one surface combatant ship until the first of the Hunter-class frigates arrives at the now-delayed date of 2034. As everyone has commented, the Hunter frigates, with just 32 vertical launch system cells, are radically under-gunned for modern warfare.

“Then we build six of these under-gunned behemoths so we don’t actually get a new version of a destroyer with a lot of vertical launch cells until after the sixth Hunter frigate is built and deployed — in other words, well into the 2040s. But, the government says, we are producing up to 11 general-purpose frigates that will have lots of missiles. That, of course, is a good thing… as far as it goes. The government is already classifying these as tier-two vessels. In what it will market as an act of tremendous political bravery, the government says the first few of these can be built offshore by the nation that gets the contract. In one sense, thank God for small mercies. But this is a very small mercy. These general-purpose frigates do not yet exist, even in theory. They will have to be designed from scratch. We will no doubt add the usual crippling array of bespoke requirements. There will be a competitive tender. This will go over time. The whole process will take years.”

As a teacher, I know the damage phones do to kids. But this new [UK] ban won’t make a shred of differenceNadeine Asbali (The Guardian): “Here’s the crux of the issue: schools already ban phones because it is common sense. It would be impossible to teach students who had their phones out. Not even the best of the Bard could capture a teenager’s attention more than a viral TikTok clip, and I certainly wouldn’t want a phone in my face as I have a standoff with a child over a uniform violation. What’s more, we’d be doing a pretty poor job of our legal obligation to support the pastoral development of our students if we allowed devices associated with increased bullying and self-esteem issues to be used freely in schools.

“This new guidance is a bit like the government establishing a ban on anyone leaving their front door wide open at night. Nobody does it anyway, because it neither makes sense nor is conducive to our own safety. The more troubling issue is that the government has made a scapegoat out of smartphones when the problem and its causes lie closer to home. Smartphones are often accused of helping to fuel the mental health crisis among young people. If smartphones have exacerbated this, then what has a decade of cuts to the health service done? More than a third of young people report receiving no mental health support when visiting their GP, and there are record numbers of children waiting to access mental health services. When the NHS and schools are stretched beyond their means, the pastoral and psychological support that young people need becomes nonexistent and the impact of smartphones becomes all the more dangerous.”




  • PermaQueer’s Guy Ritani will talk about permaculture and the future of food in a webinar for the Wheeler Centre.

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

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