Thursday, August 30, 2012

Banks exposed by gutsy consumer advocate

Vanguard September 2012 p. 3
Nick G.

Echoes of the US sub-prime mortgage scam were heard in claims made before the Senate Economics References Committee on August 8 2012.
Denise Brailey, (above), an advocate for banking and finance consumers, tabled documents exposing the role of banks in fraudulently making loans to persons unable to meet the repayment conditions.
She claimed that as many as 100,000 families were affected and were faced with “losing their homes, their cars, their livelihoods, and being in very dire circumstances”.
Bradley’s claims pull the rug out from under the banking industry’s claim to being a highly professional, client-centred, clean and honest industry.
She shows how an industry infamous for its annual record profit announcements has deliberately preyed upon the weakest and most vulnerable members of society “including older people, carers, people on parenting allowances and the aged pension.”  She cited the case of a “woman in an aged-care facility and at the age of 98 she signed a document for a 30-year loan.  She must have a good doctor!”
Low Doc and No Doc…or What’s Up, Doc?
The fraud revolves around what are known as low doc and no doc loans, the former targeting residential home-owners and the latter investors.
In both cases, applicants are required to do not much more than declare an income backed by minimal documentation.
Mortgage brokers typically then require the applicant to sign a three page document which promises an income stream backed by equity in the applicant’s property.
The broker then uses a “service calculator” supplied by the banks to misrepresent the income so that the applicants – most of them earning $40,000 to $50,000 per year -  was “fudged towards $180,000”.  The original three page document became an 11-page document containing the altered application.  “The people would never see the rest of the document,” she said.
The banks provided mortgage commissions to the brokers rather than  issuing the mortgages themselves, which would be cheaper, because they hoped to legally separate themselves from the actions of the brokers; however, the brokers were merely the big banks’ pawns, falsifying loan applications using software supplied by the banks.
Monopoly collusion, not competition
Brailey claimed that the banks acted in collusion.
“I have brought along with me a small bundle – I have 4,000 of these – of documents relating to every bank represented by the top banks…The four majors are in there.  They are all responsible…”
She claimed that evidence existed of one bank having created a hybrid low doc loan that was then flagged to all the other banks so that “the product miraculously appeared on every lender’s books at the same time”.
Too powerful to be prosecuted
This was not the only matter that she had raised with the regulatory Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC); all of her complaints to that body over a period of five years had been ignored, she said.
“ASIC will not enforce the law.  It has decriminalised that which parliament deemed criminal activity.”
She described finding “utter fraud from the highest level of banking” including collusion between the banks.
They did it, she said, because they did it in America.  She cited the phrase “too big to fail”.
A better phrase would be “too big to fear prosecution”.
Finally, when asked by Labor Senator Doug Cameron whether she agreed that those who win at capitalism “often possess less admirable characteristics…The ability to skip the law or to shape the law in their own favour, the willingness to take advantage of others, even the poor and to play unfair when necessary”, she replied “Yes, I do”.
Whether or not the Australian Government acts upon her call for a royal commission into banking will be one indication of the continuing power and arrogance of these fraudsters.

Swan's song out of tune

Vanguard September 2012 p. 7
Nick G.

Wayne Swan’s August 1 lecture citing the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen was a brave risk designed to breathe life into the ideological corpse of social democracy.
Swan performing CPR to the beat of Born in the USA is not the first image that comes to mind of the sober-sides controlling the nation’s Treasury, and whether or not the patient revives in time for the next federal election is unlikely to be a matter on which bets are laid.
Besides being quite a personable stroll through Swan’s youth, the lecture is quite revealing of the differences between a social democratic perspective and a revolutionary Marxist perspective.
This is most clearly seen when Swan replies to those who have accused him of fomenting class war in his previous criticisms of individual members of the bourgeoisie (Reinhart, Palmer, Forrest).  He states: “…far from relying on class warfare, my argument is one whose central economic imperative is actually to avoid the class warfare that is fomented when inequalities of wealth, opportunity and living standards are allowed to mount unchecked.”
Earlier he had decried the “rising influence of vested interests (that) is threatening Australia’s egalitarian social contract”. 
“Egalitarian social contracts”, like the Chinese concept of “great harmony”, is a myth that obscures the reality of class contradictions, of exploitation, of the state as the instrument through which one class rules another.
It seems that Springsteen despairs of such a social contract, singing on his latest CD Wrecking Ball that:
The banker man grows fat, the working man grows thin
It's all happened before and it'll happen again
It'll happen again, yeah, they'll bet your life
(“Jack Of All Trades”)

The sting in the tail of that part of his lyric is “they’ll bet your life”, an obvious reference to the US ruling class’s penchant for wasting the lives of the US working class in its wars of conquest, but also a reference made clear in the song defiantly titled “We Are Alive”:
A voice cried I was killed in Maryland in 1877
When the railroad workers made their stand
Well, I was killed in 1963 one Sunday morning in Birmingham
Well, I died last year crossing the southern desert
My children left behind in San Pablo
Well, they've left our bodies here to rot
This is further reinforced on the album in the song “American Land” which is a tribute to immigrants and “illegals” alike:
They died building the railroads, they worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the wind
They died to get here a hundred years ago, they're still dying now
Their hands that built the country we're always trying to keep out

Swan’s preparedness to continue his attacks on the three individuals who together represent some of the wealthiest and most reactionary elements of our ruling class  is of course welcome, but it is also a means of exempting the ruling class as a whole from any threat of expropriation, from any real threat to their property or wealth.
“We are all wealth creators,” he says, as if wealth is spread over all of us like a warm electronic blanket under which the lowest SES and the highest SES persons  can cuddle up and  share a good night’s sleep.
Swan sleeps so well that his dreams feature the “overwhelming majority of Australian entrepreneurs and businesspeople (who) are to be absolutely commended for the risks they take and the wealth they create for our country.”
How can you fight Gina Reinhart when her words keep coming out of your mouth?
Springsteen is not singing to make friends of the rich and the poor:
Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bill
It's still fat and easy up on banker's hill
Up on banker's hill the party's going strong
Down here below we're shackled and drawn

Shackled and drawn, shackled and drawn
Pick up the rock, son, carry it on
Trudging through the dark in a world gone wrong
I woke up this morning shackled and drawn
(”Shackled and Drawn”)

He sees clearly that the bankers and finance capitalists are not doing anything for the common good, and that the “risks” they take speculating in the financial casino are paid for by the working class.  This is the same attitude he takes to those who have destroyed so many working class communities in the USA:
Send the robber barons straight to hell
The greedy thieves who came around
And ate the flesh of everything they found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Who walk the streets as free men now

Ah, they brought death to our hometown, boys
(“Death To My Hometown)

Swan claims that the Labor Party shares Springsteen’ s “egalitarian vision of patriotism” but he doesn’t quite manage to quote or endorse  the following lines

Now sometimes tomorrow comes soaked in treasure and blood
Here we stood the drought, now we'll stand the flood
There's a new world coming, I can see the light
I'm a Jack of all trades, we'll be alright

So you use what you've got and you learn to make do
You take the old, you make it new
If I had me a gun, I'd find the bastards and shoot 'em on sight
I'm a Jack of all trades, we'll be alright
(“Jack Of All Trades”)

I have no doubt Wayne Swan values his Springsteen collection, and that he sincerely believes that he shares Springsteen’s social concerns.

Nor is Springsteen a Marxist.  He’s just a lot more cynical about capitalism than Swan. 

And he’s not trying to breathe life into social democracy.

He’s just trying to breathe.

National Food Plan

Vanguard September 2012 p. 12
Duncan B.

On July 17, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry released a Draft National Food Plan Green Paper for public discussion.

The Green Paper runs to nearly 300 pages, but a shorter summary is also available on the DAFF website. It is worth studying by Vanguard readers interested in this question.

The National Food Plan seeks to integrate all aspects of food policy in the whole food chain from paddock to plate, addressing issues such as food security, food quality, affordability and sustainability. Twenty-four public hearings are to be held around Australia in capital cities and regional areas to hear submissions from interested organisations and individuals.

The National Food Plan has already come under criticism from a wide variety of people and organisations. Criticisms centre on the issues of competition in food retailing (the Coles-Woolworths duopoly), foreign investment and GM technology.

The Government claims in the Green Paper that the ACCC as the independent regulator can enforce competition, consumer and fair trading laws with appropriate sanctions and that consumers, through their purchasing decisions, can play a key role in driving the products found on shelves.

The reality is that the Government has never done anything to challenge the domination by Coles and Woolworths over Australia’s food retailing industry.

The reality also is that the Big Two continue to dominate Australia’s food retailing, controlling over 70% of the market. They also control the price of petrol in many country towns through their ownership of petrol stations and the aggressive use of “shopper dockets.”  Coles and Woolworths also exercise domination over their suppliers, forcing them to supply products at the price the Big Two demand, or lose their place on the supermarket shelves.

The Green Paper also welcomes foreign investment in Australian agriculture, saying “foreign investment in agriculture supports production, creates jobs and contributes to the prosperity of rural communities and the broader Australian economy.”

The proposals in the Green Paper for surveys by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the development of a Commonwealth foreign ownership register for agricultural land will do little to stop the take-over of Australian farm land by foreign interests.

This flies in the face of concerns expressed by Australians from all walks of life and political persuasions about the purchase of vast tracts of Australian farm land by foreign interests.

The Green Paper states that the Government is proposing to work with the state and territory governments to develop a national strategy on the consistent application of modern biotechnology in agriculture, including genetically modified crops.

Again, this flies in the face of concerns held by many people in Australia and world-wide about GM crops. Obviously the Government places the interests of companies such as Monsanto ahead of the interests of the Australian people.

The Green Paper is based on the continuation of the existing system in Australian agriculture; a steadily decreasing number of family farmers on the one hand, matched by an increasing number of corporate farms.

Food retailing; largely controlled by Coles and Woolworths. Massive agribusiness corporations; controlling the supply of fertiliser, machinery etc., and controlling the sale of the crops and other produce.

We need to look beyond all this to agriculture in an independent Australia where the interests of farmers and consumers will come first.

APY communities say "Wiya!" to income management

Vanguard September 2012 p. 8
Nick G.

With compulsory income management (CIM) now operating in Playford, Shepparton, Bankstown, Logan and Rockhampton, it’s a safe bet that the “punish the poor” brigade will be looking around for new victims.
It’s long been known that federal Minister Jenny Macklin wants the Aboriginal communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yakunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the northwest of South Australia to be brought under CIM.
Whilst the communities on the Lands have said an emphatic “Wiya!” (“No!”) to CIM, Macklin’s people have been busy trying to present a picture of division by promoting this or that person as speaking for the interests of women and children, just as happened in the case of the racist Northern Territory Intervention.
Communities united against CIM
Murray George, an elder from Fregon, spoke to me about the community meetings held between May 8th and May 17th this year.
At those meetings were Anangu community members and representatives of various state and federal government departments including FaCHSIA, police, and Centrelink.
The first meeting was at Fregon and ran for about four hours.
“Community members stated that they were only interested to talk about Homeland and Community funding,” said Murray.
Centrelink people asked what the Community thought about going on the BasicsCard (CIM).
“We told them we do not agree with that, that we were only going to talk about community business and no other business,” he said.
As Chairman of APY Law and Culture, and an APY Executive member, Murray George also attended the other community meetings.
“We met at Mimili for three hours.  The government representatives asked about the BasicsCard, but the community responded “Wiya!”.  They told them ‘We have a lot of Anangu business here, we want self-determination and we don’t want other business here, we need the government to put funding back to Homelands and Community councils’.”
Another three hour meeting was held at Indulkana.  As in the other meetings, it was open business and everyone was invited to talk.  Once again, the community members called for funding to come back to the Homelands and Communities and no other business.
“When asked about income management community members said we know all about that, we don’t agree with it, you people (the government representatives) have to go back,” said Murray George.
“They said ‘We are only talking about community business, we say ‘Wiya’ to income management business.”
At Pipalyatjara the meeting lasted nearly five hours. The BasicsCard proponents did not attend.
“This community also said ‘Wiya!’, we do not want to talk about the BasicsCard.  Take it back. We only want to talk about our business.  The community asked ‘Where is all our funding for Homelands and Community?’  They said, ‘This is our country, we are living here for ever. We are together with all the communities’.’’
(Above: Amata artist Hector Burton with a work depicting an interpretation of country)
Murray George then referred to the four hour Amata meeting where young people were particularly strong in voicing their support for the elders, and for Anangu law and culture.
One community member said: “We have to support our old people, our country and our Tjukurpa is still alive.  We don’t want the government telling us what to do.  A lot of people outside our country lose their culture because government is controlling their life.  But we are still alive and we have to be strong.”
Young people said “We’ve got to support our old people, it’s our country and we can’t let it go.  Income management – Wiya!”
Finally Murray George reported on the Ernabella meeting.
“The community members are clear.  Income management is a power for the government.  They said ‘We are worrying for our community, we have to be strong.  We want everything to come back to Homelands and Community.  We are only talking about community business. We leave Centrelink and income management to one side’.”
Overriding the community
“We’d been developing our own model of community services,” said Murray George.  “For two years we had been negotiating an Anangu model with the community councils and service providers.  Then Jenny Macklin came in with her model and the service providers signed onto that.  She never asked about the Anangu model.”
That’s typical of the disrespect shown to Anangu communities by governments.  It’s consistent with the big blue and white “prescribed area” signs that meet travellers entering the APY Lands.  The same as the NT signs, they are offensive and humiliating to the Anangu whose communities sought and were granted alcohol-free status in the APY Land Rights Act 1981 and the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1996.
Fomenting division
Despite the overwhelming “Wiya!” to CIM from the community meetings, forces have been at work to foment division.
Andrea Mason, Coordinator of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council (NPYWC – the Ngaanyatjarra people are mainly on the WA side of the border), has been widely quoted, particularly by Murdoch scribe Sarah Martin.
(Amata women of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers group, an NPY Women's Council non-profit enterprise, with tjanpi - grass - birds destined for an exhibition in Adelaide)
Martin often puts the word “respected” in front of “Women’s Council”, an adjective which the organisation deserves for its community work, but which is designed to suggest that Mason is also a respected person.
She is certainly entitled to her point of view, which is strongly in support of CIM, but she is out of step with the APY communities and had to try to undermine their credibility in order to establish her own.
She told Sarah Martin that the community meetings on CIM had often been “ineffective…it was not the best way to get people talking or providing feedback”.
Mason, who works out of an office in Alice Springs, has been challenged by Murray George to meet face-to-face with the communities.
She is a skilful operator and wise in the ways of governments.  She worked for 15 years as a public servant in SA and Commonwealth departments.  In 2002 she became personal assistant to Andrew Evans, founder of the Family First Party and a member of the SA upper house.  In 2004 she became the party’s national leader, unsuccessfully contesting the federal elections held that year.
Evans, her mentor, had been pastor of the Assemblies of God in SA.  The Pentacostalist Church is quite wealthy, has a relatively large following, and promotes “prosperity theology” which teaches that wealth and worldly success are signs of God’s favour.
Some of this seems to have rubbed off on Mason who describes herself as a “social entrepreneur” who has “learned that hard work can provide a good reward”.  It’s not far from that to blaming people’s poverty on their innate characteristics and to supporting policies that treat them like irresponsible children.  Her support for CIM, advocated with missionary zeal courtesy of the Murdoch press, is an expression of her personal beliefs and values, and not those of the communities on which she wants to impose CIM.
(Above: girls at Indulkana)

Another advocate of CIM is prominent Aboriginal academic Prof. Marcia Langton.
She recently trekked out to the APY Lands where she described children “living in terror”.
“This is like Darfur without the guns,” she said in an interview.
Not even Ted Mullighan who reported on abuse of children in the APY Lands engaged in that level of hysteria.
“These people are telling lies and misleading people,” said Murray George.  “We teach our young people to be straight up, not to lie.”
I asked Murray about “humbugging”, the scourge of NT towns where Aborigines with drug and alcohol dependencies harass family, friends and strangers for money.
Murray had drawn a saucer-sized circle on a piece of paper, with a smaller circle inside it.
“Humbugging -  that’s out here,” he said, pointing to the outer section.  “That’s where that Queen of England sent her ships and her people, and they took away our land and our culture.  Not in here,” he said, pointing inside the smaller circle.  “Our country is still alive here, our culture is still alive, and we’re passing it on from the next one to the next one. We’ve got to stop it getting smaller.”
Humbugging is a colonially driven perversion of the old system of reciprocal relations and mutual obligations that sustained communities here for 50,000 years, but it won't be combatted through income management –it’s just an excuse to justify the punishment of people in poverty.
Neither is CIM a magic wand capable of disappearing drug and alcohol abuse or problem gambling. People with those problems just turn elsewhere for the money they need for their addictions.
Nor has it helped NT children or communities.
School attendance is down since CIM was introduced, but suicides have soared from 57 in 2007 to 261 in 2011.
(Girls at the Amata Anangu School with XO laptops used in ICT lessons)
Anaemia rates in children east of Katherine “increased significantly over the first 18 months of the NT Intervention”, according to a report prepared by the Library of the Federal Parliament, as had the rate of underweight children in the period 2008 to 2010.
Research by the Menzies School of Health found that what does improve nutrition is improving the affordability of healthy food and community-wide education, not CIM.
So without any evidence base to support CIM, and in the face of total opposition from the communities, Macklin looks certain to impose CIM on the Anangu.
The capitalist mode of production cannot be imposed on traditional Aboriginal communities without humiliating and stigmatising those who refuse to be its servants.


Further Reading: Macklin Announces Income Management for the Lands

Reading and Listening: Click on link to hear ABC radio report following introduction of income management to Lands: local store prices include $10 for a tube of toothpaste and $6 for an apple.

Cuts to school cleaners' hours of work are a health risk

Vanguard September 2012 p. 12
Ned K.

On Saturday 18 August it was reported in The Advertiser that teachers and parents at public schools in suburban Adelaide were cleaning children’s class room desks because cleaners did not have enough time to clean them properly.

One parent told the media that her daughter refused to use the allocated toilet block for children because of their unhygienic state. 

The cleaners are employed by contractors who can only win contracts from the Education Department by rostering each cleaner for duty for between two and four hours per day depending on the size of the school.

Prior to 2010 the Education Department required contractors to clean whole schools in a time frame of just two hours from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. The 3.30pm starting time coincided with the end of most school classroom time. The 5.30pm finish time was the end of ordinary day time cleaning hours. Any cleaning after 5.30pm meant that contractors would have to include in their quote award shift penalty time in the labor component of the contract. If they did this they were considered too expensive by the Department compared with a contractor who stuck rigidly to the 3.30pm to 5.30pm cleaning time.

Race To The Bottom

To win contracts in a highly competitive industry, cleaning contractors would put in tenders with less cleaning hours which equated to less cleaners. So for example instead of quoting on 10 cleaners at two hours each per day, a contractor may boast that it could get the work done with nine cleaners at two hours each day and so on. The Education Department, under orders from Treasury to reduce costs, would hand the contract to the lowest bidder. The Minister could then get a pat on the back from Treasury for meeting its cost reduction targets.

Cleaners with a sense of loyalty to the children and teachers ended up working in unpaid time to get the job done, but high turn over of labor and lack of training of cleaners saw complaints about cleaning standards grow. The one saving grace for cleaners, children and teachers alike was that the cleaners did not start work until classes were finished.

Education Department Makes Further Cuts To Cleaning Standards

When new awards came in to being with the Fair Work Act, there was a legal requirement for a cleaning contractor to provide a minimum engagement for a cleaner of up to 4 hours per day depending on the total cleaning area of the school being cleaned. There was also a requirement to pay cleaners a part time allowance of 15% under the cleaners’ award.

The Education Department  responded to the new award requirements in two ways. To comply with the new minimum shifts of up to 4 hours for cleaners, contractors were told to change the starting time of cleaners from 3.30pm to 2pm to ensure that the 4 hours minimum engagement would finish before 6pm. (Under the new award, afternoon penaly rates apply for any shift finishing after 6pm.) So cleaners had to then not only manage unrealistic workloads but try and clean classrooms and other areas in classroom time.

The Department also ‘reviewed’ the cleaning areas that it required contractors to clean to find ways to make the cleaners’ award 15% part time allowance ‘cost neutral’. What this ‘review’ means in practice is  a further increase in workoad for cleaners and reduced cleaning standards as some cleaning tasks such as cleaning desk tops just no longer get done.

Thatcherism Revisited

The story above is similar to what happened under Thatcherism in the 1980s when the Thatcher Government cut back so severely on cleaning services in London through contracting out the lowest bidder that there was serious talk of a rat plague in London streets and buildings.

It is only a matter of time before there is an outbreak of disease in a school directly related to poor cleaning standards. Or it may occur in some other public space such as a food court in a shopping centre where cleaning standards are also a threat to the public due the greed of multinationals like Westfield.

It is the people out in their communites who experience day to day the impact of so-called austerity measures of governments who think being ‘financially responsible’ to big business demands. Nobody knows where a particular community’s tipping point is before there is a spontaneous outburst of rage.

As concerned citizens we need to be with our communities and link spontaneous outbursts of rage and protest to the struggle for a new type of society which puts people’s interests first.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hands off Assange!

Vanguard September 2012 p. 10
Nick G.

British threats to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to seize Julian Assange reveal the hypocrisy of the imperialists.
The heart of the issue is Assange’s challenge to the imperialists’ control of information.  His responsibility for publishing leaked documents makes him a criminal in their eyes.
It seems that the imperialists will grant refuge in their embassies to people who serve their interests in one way or another, but deny the sanctity of the embassies of other countries to people who oppose their interests.
When British oil and tobacco companies were seeking to extend their interests in Iran in the early 1900s the British Legation in Teheran sheltered opponents of the Shah.  During three weeks in 1906 some 12,000 – 16,000 constitutional activists and demonstrators sheltered in its grounds.
The leader of the Democratic Party of Iran took refuge in the British Legation in 1908 and eventually fled to London.
US Embassies a haven for anti-communists
US embassies provided warmth during the Cold War to opponents of the Soviet Union. Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty of Hungary took refuge in the US embassy in Budapest for 15 years whilst a Soviet Lieutenant-Colonel who defected in France was sheltered for 6 months in the US embassy in Paris and was then granted asylum in the USA.
Seven Siberian Pentecostals were given refuge in the US embassy in Moscow from June 27, 1978 to June 27, 1983.  Their case was resolved by the being allowed to emigrate to Israel from where they moved to the USA.
The US now claims that it doesn’t grant political asylum in its embassies abroad, but as recently as last May it gave refuge in its embassy in Beijing to Chen Guancheng who then ended up in the USA.
It also sheltered the counter-revolutionary Fang Lizhi from June 5, 1989 until June 25, 1990 before granting him asylum in the USA.
Australia no less hypocritical
The Australian Embassy in Beijing also gave refuge to the Taiwanese singer Hou Dejian for several months following the latter’s participation in the events at Tiananmen Square.  Hou, whose eye-witness accounts later confirmed that there had been no massacre in the Square, left the embassy on August 16 and was sent back to Taiwan.
The protection afforded to Hou Dejian arose from the perception of his leading role in challenging the Communist Party of China.  It contrasts markedly with the fate of those Australians -  Wilfred Burchett, David Hicks and Assange – who are thrown to the wolves because they have challenged the real rulers in Australia, the US imperialists.
The British and US imperialists must not be allowed to get their hands on Assange.
The British must not be allowed to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange must have safe passage to Ecuador.

Further reading: 

Comment by Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Assange's speech from the Ecuadorian Embassy balcony:

“Can you hear me?
“I am here today because I cannot be there with you today. But thank you for coming. Thank you for your resolve and your generosity of spirit.
“On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy and the police descended on this building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it and you brought the world’s eyes with you.
“Inside this embassy, after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape. But I knew there would be witnesses. And that is because of you.
“If the UK did not throw away the Vienna conventions the other night, it is because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.
“So, the next time somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend those rights that we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador.
“Remind them how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world and a courageous Latin America nation took a stand for justice.
And so, to those brave people. I thank President Correa for the courage he has shown in considering and in granting me political asylum.
“And I also thank the government, and in particular Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, who upheld the Ecuadorian constitution and its notion of universal rights in their consideration of my asylum. And to the Ecuadorian people for supporting and defending this constitution.
“And I also have a debt of gratitude to the staff of this embassy, whose families live in London and who have shown me the hospitality and kindness despite the threats we all received.
“This Friday, there will be an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of Latin America in Washington DC to address this very situation.
“And so, I am grateful to those people and governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, and to all other Latin American countries who have come out to defend the right to asylum.
“And to the people of the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia who have supported me in strength, even when their governments have not. And to those wiser heads in government who are still fighting for justice. Your day will come.
“To the staff, supporters and sources of Wikileaks, whose courage and commitment and loyalty has seen no equal.
“To my family and to my children who have been denied their father. Forgive me, we will be reunited soon.
“As Wikileaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of all our societies. We must use this moment to articulate the choice that is before the government of the United States of America.
“Will it return to and reaffirm the values, the revolutionary values it was founded on, or will it lurch off the precipice dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world, in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark?
“I say it must turn back. I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch-hunts against Wikileaks. The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation.
“The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters. The United States must pledge before the world that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.
“There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organisation; be it Wikileaks, or be it the New York Times.
“The US administration’s war on whistleblowers must end.
“Thomas Drake, William Binney and John Kirakou and the other heroic whistleblowers must – they must – be pardoned or compensated for the hardships they have endured as servants of the public record.
“And to the Army Private who remains in a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, who was found by the United Nations to have endured months of torturous detention in Quantico, Virginia and who has yet – after two years in prison – to see a trial: he must be released.
“Bradley Manning must be released.
“And if Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero and an example to us all and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners.
“Bradley Manning must be released.
“On Wednesday, Bradley Manning spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days.
“On Thursday, my friend Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Human Rights Centre, was sentenced to three years in prison for a tweet. On Friday, a Russian band were sentenced to two years in jail for a political performance.
“There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.
“Thank you.”