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      The bottom line here is that there was a referendum, and “leave” won. All my life I have eaten election and referendum results I hated. I have done so because of democratic legitimacy: the people, even if I or anyone else think they are wrong, are the source of legitimate rule. There was a referendum. […]
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Christmas Eve Afternoon Open Thread

Is your Christmas shopping done or do you have to dive into the mosh pit for a few more things? What are you doing this evening while you wait for Santa?



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Ask questions, get answers, remain skeptical

Julian Assange's temporary jail


Yesterday I asked some questions about WikiLeaks. Today I got a few answers.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Now Making $86k/year

WikiLeaks’ main financial arm, the Germany-based Wau Holland Foundation says it has collected about 1 million Euro ($1.3 million) in donations in 2010, the year in which WikiLeaks exploded into public prominence thanks to its release of thousands of classified U.S. documents, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

Wau Holland is the primary but not sole financial provider for WikiLeaks, the Journal reports.

From those donations, Wau Holland has established a Greenpeace-like system of salary payments, as WikiLeaks attempts to legitimize its organization by moving away from purely volunteer-based work, the Journal reports. The move to make salaried employees allegedly comes after a year-long intense internal debate about whether to do so.

The main beneficiary has been founder Julian Assange, who has drawn 66,000 Euros (about $86,000) in salary thus far this year, the Journal reports. Wau Holland has paid a total of 100,000 Euros in salaries to the entire WikiLeaks staff, which means Assange is getting the lion’s share.

WikiLeaks will pay key personnel based on a salary structure developed by the environmental activist organization Greenpeace, the Journal reports. Under the structure, Greenpeace department heads are paid about 5,500 Euros in monthly salary, a Wau Holland spokesman said.

Among the many revelations from the Journal report are several indications that donations to WikiLeaks have dropped off significantly in the second half of the year.

By August, WikiLeaks had raised about 765,000 Euro, which means it has only raised about 235,000 Euro since then, the Journal reports.

Last summer, WikiLeaks said it operated on about 150,000 Euro a year. Now, however, the foundation says it has paid about 380,000 Euro in WikiLeaks expenses, with some invoices for the year still unprocessed. Some of that total is for hardware, Internet access and travel, a Wau Holland spokesman said. But a big factor in the leap is a recent decision to begin paying salaries to staff.

WikiLeaks had also allegedly promised to contribute half of the estimated $100,000 it will cost for the legal defense of Bradley Manning. Recently, however, a WikiLeaks spokesman said it would only donate around $20,000.

As of the writing of this report, it had still not contributed the funds. The Wau Holland Foundation is awaiting advice from its lawyers on whether the donation would be legal under German law, a spokesman told the Journal.

There is more detail at the Joe Moneybags Newsletter:

On the fundraising front, Mr. Assange in August said WikiLeaks had raised about $1 million (€763,000) since the beginning of 2010. He said the group got about half of its money from modest donations via its website, and the rest from “personal contacts,” including wealthy donors who give tens of thousands of dollars.

Much of this money was donated to the WikiLeaks account at the Wau Holland Foundation, Mr. Fulda said.

That last sentence is the part that triggers my bullshit detector. That’s a huge loophole in this story.

This isn’t WikiLeaks opening it’s books. This is an organization that collects SOME of the donations to WikiLeaks and supposedly pays all their bills. Mr. Fulda may be 100% honest, but where did he get his information? How does he know how much money was donated via other avenues?

A couple other things bother me. WikiLeaks profile has skyrocketed since August, but their receipts have gone down? How much money has been contributed to Assange’s legal defense fund? Who controls it?

Who is paying Assange’s living expenses? He doesn’t seem to pay for anything, he gets his fan club to support him. According to the Guardian he was staying rent free at Woman #1’s apartment and he got Woman #2 to pay for movie and train tickets. He’s staying in a mansion on a 300 acre estate right now.

I remain skeptical.

One last note – just because I don’t trust WikiLeaks doesn’t mean I trust the government. It’s not either/or.

Progressives say that right-wingers are paranoid. I don’t think progressives are paranoid enough.



Wrong Emphasis


Sarah Palin Uses Info Gleaned From ‘Treasonous’ WikiLeaks To Pen Op-Ed On Dangers Of Iran

Sarah Palin sought to build her foreign policy credentials on Tuesday, with a new op-ed arguing that the Obama administration needs to “toughen up” on Iran based on information from leaked diplomatic cables that she had earlier denounced.

Their point:

Sarah Palin hypocritically uses WikiLeaks information to gin up war with Iran.

The important point:

Sarah Palin hypocritically uses WikiLeaks information to gin up war with Iran.

When are progressives gonna figure this shit out?


What's the matter? Don't you like clowns?


Obamafluffer of the Year goes to . . . Booman!


He’s not joking:

Time To Give Props

At this point in his presidency I think it is fair to say that Obama is already in the conversation as best president since Abraham Lincoln. His only real competition is FDR and LBJ, and I think it’s a safe bet that Obama will neither beat the Nazis nor start an unwinnable war in Vietnam. In other words, he’s in a battle with FDR to be the best president since the Civil War.

Kool-aid is a helluva drug.



Foliehatt Friday


The Reynolds Wrap Santa hat goes to none other than Julian Assange:

Assange says ‘high chance’ he would be killed in US jail

WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange said in an interview published Thursday there was a “high chance” he would be killed in a US jail if he were to be extradited from Britain on espionage charges.

[…]

Assange added that if the United States succeeded in getting him extradited from Britain or Sweden, then there was a “high chance” of him being killed “Jack Ruby-style” in an American prison.

[…]

Assange has previously said that he and other WikiLeaks staff have received death threats since the website began to release a cache of around 250,000 secret US State Department cable in November.

The 39-year-old has been staying at a friend’s country mansion in eastern England since his release from jail last week on strict bail conditions that include reporting to police daily and wearing an electronic tag.

Our government always sends death threats before they assassinate someone. It’s just basic politeness. For Mr. Assange’s sake I hope it never occurs to Obama to send a killer drone to jolly old England.

BTW – When they make the WikiLeaks movie, will they get Liam Neeson to play Assange?


Okay, moving on:

Gates Reminds Troops That ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is Still in Effect

The president has signed the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell,” but Defense Secretary Robert Gates is warning troops that the policy banning gays from serving openly in the military is still in effect.

Gates sent a memo this week to military officials reminding them that the 17-year-old law won’t be voided until at least 60 days after the government certifies that the armed forces are prepared to implement it.

The National Journal reported Thursday that the memo warns that service members who violate the law could still face “adverse consequences.”

Pentagon officials have said it’s still unclear how long the certification process will take.

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”


Obama Family Vacation Runs Into Troubled Waters: Again

Hawaii has been plagued with heavy rains recently, and the Oahu village of Kailua has been forced to release untreated sewage and agricultural runoff into Kailua Bay and the beaches around the Obamas’ rental home. County officials have posted signs telling tourists to stay out of the water but many Hawaiian visitors are going in for a Christmas dip anyway.

Feel free to make up your own jokes


Abortion fight at Catholic hospital pushes ACLU to seek federal help

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday asked federal health officials to ensure that Catholic hospitals provide emergency reproductive care to pregnant women, saying the refusal by religiously affiliated hospitals to provide abortion and other services was becoming an increasing problem.

I’m sure Barack will get right on that.


Today in History:

1920 Enrico Caruso gives his last public performance
1893 Henry Ford completes his 1st useful gas motor
1865 Several Confederate veterans form Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tn
1814 Treaty of Ghent signed

Famous birthdays:

1957 Hamid Karzai
1940 Paul Tagliabue
1922 Ava Gardner
1907 I. F. “Izzy” Stone
1905 Howard Hughes

Famous deaths:

1993 Norman Vincent Peale
1984 Peter Lawford
1972 Charles Atlas
1524 Vasco da Gama


Has anyone ever won an Academy Award for playing a role that somebody else already got an Oscar for playing?