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Day December 15, 2010

A Bayesian Take on Julian Assange

Nate Silver:

There is virtually no chance that the case against Mr. Assange would have proceeded in quite the same manner if he were instead an itinerant painter named Jens Andersen, or a traveling salesman named John Andrews — instead of an internationally renowned provocateur. Indeed, the charges might not have been brought against Mr. Assange in the first place. Sweden has among the highest rates of reported rape cases in the European Union. But unfortunately, few cases are brought to trial (only between 10 and 20 percent, according to various reports), and fewer still result in convictions.

That alone might not tell us much. There are other ways, however, in which the behavior of the authorities has been quite unusual.

The initial warrant in the case against Mr. Assange had been issued in August. But it was revoked the next day, due to what the lead prosecutor cited as a lack of evidence. It was only last month – just as WikiLeaks was preparing to release a set of confidential diplomatic cables – that Sweden again issued a warrant to detain him.

After turning himself in to the authorities in London, Mr. Assange was initially denied bail (although he has since been awarded it) — which is particularly unusual given that Swedish authorities have still not formally charged him with a crime, but merely want to bring him in for questioning. Most unusually still, Sweden had issued an Interpol red alert for Mr. Assange’s arrest, something they have done for only one other person this year accused of a sex crime: Jan Christer Wallenkurtz, who is suspected of multiple cases of sexual assault against children.

FoodWishes: Horseradish Sauce

TIME Announces New Version Of Magazine Aimed At Adults

TIME’s person of the year announcement reminded me of this investigative report by a legitimate news organization.

Question of the Day

Coffee or Tea?

Lately, it’s green tea with a teaspoon of sugar.

The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention

Glenn Greenwald:

Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months — and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait — under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.

J’Accuse: Sweden, Britain, and Interpol Insult Rape Victims Worldwide

Naomi Wolf:

How do I know that Interpol, Britain and Sweden’s treatment of Julian Assange is a form of theater? Because I know what happens in rape accusations against men that don’t involve the embarrassing of powerful governments.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in solitary confinement in Wandsworth prison in advance of questioning on state charges of sexual molestation. Lots of people have opinions about the charges. But I increasingly believe that only those of us who have spent years working with rape and sexual assault survivors worldwide, and know the standard legal response to sex crime accusations, fully understand what a travesty this situation is against those who have to live through how sex crime charges are ordinarily handled — and what a deep, even nauseating insult this situation is to survivors of rape and sexual assault worldwide.

Here is what I mean: men are pretty much never treated the way Assange is being treated in the face of sex crime charges.

Investigative Reporter Stymied by iMac

From the HuffPost (so you know this is going to be a doozy)

I had an article to write, but the only word processor I could find on my iMac was TextEdit, essentially a stripped-down version of Notepad. The program had an excellent array of font options, like “Bigger” and “Smaller.” It didn’t take long to become frustrated with the iMac mouse too. It limped across my desk, the “on” switch, which is located on the belly of the mouse, scraping the mahogany of my desk as it went. Before I could finish my first letter, I began to miss my old, five-button mouse.

I booted up my bank account before realizing the Mac keyboard had no number pad and was heartsick to learn that the thesaurus WordWeb, every author’s best friend, didn’t work on Mac’s OS. Neither did Ipswitch FTP, my file-uploader.

Some headaches I expected. I knew that, unlike a PC, I wouldn’t be able to connect one computer to another and transfer over my documents. Instead I had to use my external hard drive, like a makeshift canoe, to migrate my articles, music and videos from one computer to the next. Loading and unloading docs to my external drive, I smacked into another iMac annoyance: unlike a PC, the Mac wouldn’t let me move files to and from my external drive, only copy them. I realized I’d have to keep a sharp memory of which files I’d copied over — or move every document twice and see which files it asked me to replace.

(via Boing Boing)


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