A Feminist Lawyer on the Case Against Wikileaks' Julian Assange

A Feminist Lawyer on the Case Against Wikileaks' Julian Assange

Feminist attorney Jill Filipovic takes a closer look at the sex crime allegations against Julian Assange of wikileaks. I think the post strikes exactly the right balance between being skeptical about the merits and motives of the case against Assange and acknowledging that he's accused of some relatively serious sexual misconduct. In other words, the case against Assange may be baseless, but that doesn't mean the very allegations against him are trivial or nonsensical.


It's obvious that the legal response to these charges has been blown way out of proportion for political reasons. Assange is the target of an international manhunt. Jill notes that one of the crimes he's accused of carries the equivalent of a $700 fine. Yet, Assange has somehow rocketed to a spot on Interpol's most wanted list, no doubt displacing mass-raping war criminals, sex traffickers, and other global predators.

So, what exactly is Assange accused of doing? Sweden prohibits prosecutors from releasing any details about sexual assault allegations, so it's impossible to know for sure. Jill's best guess, based on admittedly murky media reports, is that Assange is accused of violating two (otherwise consenting) sex partners by flouting their wishes with regard to condoms.

Again, these are guesses, but plausible guesses in my opinion: One accuser says she agreed to sex on the condition that Assange wear a condom, only to discover that he'd penetrated her without one. The other accuser maintains that Assange refused to stop having sex after a condom broke.

If consent is predicated on condom use and one partner surreptitiously avoids using a condom, morally, that's a form of sexual assault. Jill notes in her piece that it would be difficult to make that legal case in many U.S. states because the relevant laws require force or threat or force in addition to non-consent. However, the second allegation, if proven, would easily constitute rape in many U.S. states. If one person withdraws consent during sex by telling their partner to stop, and their partner doesn't stop, that's rape (non-consent + force).

Assange has been accused of rape in the English-language media, but it sounds like he's actually been charged with some considerably lesser offenses under Swedish law.

Legitimate questions have been raised about possible ulterior motives of one of Assange's accusers.

On the kookier end of the spectrum... This widely-cited Counterpunch article can't seem to decide if Assange is the victim of radical feminism, U.S. intelligence, female sexual jealously, or what, but the authors are sure he's some kinda of victim! Interestingly, the authors reserve their greatest outrage, or at least their underline command, for an allegedly draconian Swedish legal system that allows a man to be charged with rape on the say-so of a mere woman:

And the Swedes? Perhaps now they will recognize that they went too far. “When the reporter from the Washington Post realized that I was not joking, (said a Swedish legal figure this week), that it does not need more than one woman's word for the police to arrest a man and charge him with rape, he said: “But my God, are you completely crazy? It's worse than Iraq of Saddam Hussein ... [LB: Emphasis original.]

Sweden is not some outlier Nordic feminist legal paradise in this regard. It is difficult to get authorities to act on uncorroborated allegations of rape here in the U.S., but in principle they have the option. As well they should. Anything less would be an across-the-board free pass for rapists who don't leave marks.

It is curious that charges against Assange were brought, dropped almost immediately, and later reinstated. The fact that authorities were so quick to charge Assange based on uncorroborated testimony should raise questions about whether prosecutors are treating him differently from your run-of-the-mill alleged sex criminal. However, it's pure rape culture apology to argue that so-called "he said/she said" cases should be automatically dismissed in favor of the alleged rapist.

We can agree that the legal response to what Assange allegedly did reeks of politically-motivated prosecution without passing judgment on the merits of the allegations against him.

[Photo credit: bbwbryant, Creative Commons.]

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

U.S. Navy ships

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  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
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China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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