Assange becomes 'Man-of-the-year'

THE SUN Newspaper

Julian Assange, the Wikileaks whistle-blower, may have murderers and rapists as his companions as he languishes in a London prison, but his miniature double is in rather more exalted company.
A figure of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is placed in a Neapolitan Christmas crèche depicting the Nativity of Jesus in Naples.

Craftsmen in Naples have for centuries earned their living carving wooden Nativity figures and for the last few years have extended their repertoire to celebrities, politicians and others in the news.
This year they have bestowed the dubious honour on Julian Assange, 39, who is in Wandsworth prison after being denied bail over allegations of sex assault against two Swedish women.

The figure of Mr Assange is on display in Via San Gregorio Armeno, a narrow alley in the historic heart of Naples, in among dozens of Wise Men, Virgin Marys, Josephs, sheep and oxen.
The Australian is depicted wearing a suit and clutching a laptop computer.

The six-inch high figure was created by Gennaro Di Virgilio, a master craftsman, who each year produces at least one contemporary figure to juxtapose with the more traditional Nativity scenes he makes.
“I included him to poke a little fun at the world and have a good time,” said Di Virgilio, 29, whose family has been making nativity statuettes, known in Italian as “presepe”, since 1830.
“In a sense, Assange is the man of the year,” he said.

In recent decades, artists and craftsmen who make Neapolitan crèches have used them to portray the signs of the times. There is only one copy of the Assange statuette, which costs 130 euros ($226). Di Virgilio says he will make others on request.

Assange becomes hero
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has become a cult figure whose supporters are spread across the globe.
No one person has polarised opinions so sharply in recent times as Assange has. After his recent arrest by the British police, there were protests outside British embassies.
A group of hackers took down the sites of Internet payment service - Paypal, Mastercard and Visa - after they froze the flow of funds to Assange’s accounts.

The release of top-secret diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks has embarrassed the U.S. government and filled reams of newsprint all around the world. While most countries have been shrill in their condemnation of Assange’s latest work, some countries like Russia have called for him to be given the Nobel Peace Prize.

Parents defend him
Assange’s mother, Christine, termed his arrest as “unfair.”
Conspiracy theories have been floating on the web about the charges against Assange and their validity.
His stepfather, Brett, said: “Julian was a bright child with a strong sense of right and wrong.”
In this day and age where the world has supposedly come closer after the advent of telephones and Internet, Assanage’s maverick ways continue to evoke awe and suspicion among people.
His nomadic ways were cited as a reason for him being denied bail in the UK.

Vatican offended by Ireland’s clerics’ sexprobe
Newly released United States diplomatic cables indicate that the Vatican felt “offended” that Ireland failed to respect Holy See “sovereignty” by asking high-ranking churchmen to answer questions from an Irish government commission probing decades of sex abuse of minors by clergy.

That the Holy See used its diplomatic immunity status as a tiny-city state to try to thwart Ireland’s government-led probe has long been known. But the WikiLeaks cables, published by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper on Saturday, contain delicate, behind-the-scenes diplomatic assessments of the highly charged situation.
The Vatican press office declined to comment on the content of the cables Saturday, but decried the leaks as a matter of “extreme seriousness.”
The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See also condemned the leaks and said in a statement that the Vatican and America cooperate in promoting universal values.

According to the deputy to the Irish ambassador to the Holy See, the Irish government gave in to Vatican pressure and allowed the church officials to avoid answering questions from the inquiry panel, according to one of the cables from a U.S. diplomat.
Ambassador Noel Fahey apparently told U.S. diplomat Julieta Valls Noyes that the sex abuse scandal was a tricky one to manage.

“The Vatican believes the Irish government failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations,” read the cable from Noyes, deputy chief of mission. Elsewhere in the cable, the diplomat, citing a Holy See official, wrote that the inquiry commission’s requests “offended many in the Vatican” because they were viewed as “an affront to Vatican sovereignty.”

The diplomat also said: “Adding insult to injury, Vatican officials also believed some Irish opposition politicians were making political hay with the situation by publicly calling on the government to demand that the Vatican reply.” The Irish government wanted to be seen as cooperating with the investigation because its own education department was implicated in decades of abuse, but politicians were reluctant to insist Vatican officials answer the investigators’ questions, the cables indicate.

One cable discloses the behind-the-scenes diplomatic maneuvers by which Irish politicians tried to persuade the Vatican to cooperate with the probe. “In the end the Irish government decided not to press the Vatican reply,” the U.S. diplomat wrote, citing Fahey’s deputy, Helena Keleher. Saturday’s official Vatican press statement said the WikiLeaks cables “reflect the perceptions and opinions of the people who wrote them and cannot be considered as expressions of the Holy See itself.” It added that the reports “reliability must, then, be evaluated carefully and with great prudence.”

The cables also contain information regarding the Vatican’s relations with the Anglican Communion, which includes the Church of England and its affiliates in more than 160 countries.
One cable reports that Britain’s ambassador to the Vatican warned that the pope’s invitation to disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church had chilled relations between the two churches and risked inciting a violent backlash against British Catholics.

A November 2009 file from U.S. Embassy at the Vatican quotes British envoy Francis Campbell as saying that “Anglican-Vatican relations were facing their worst crisis in 150 years as a result of the pope’s decision.”
The Vatican moved last year to make it easier for traditional Anglicans upset over the appointment of female priests and gay bishops to join the Catholic Church, whose teaching holds that homosexual activity is sinful.
The pope invited Anglicans to join new “personal ordinariates,” which allow them to continue to use some of their traditional liturgy and be served by married priests.

A cable quotes Campbell as saying the move put the Anglican spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, “in an impossible situation.” And he worried that the crisis could aggravate “latent anti-Catholicism” in majority-Protestant England.
“The outcome could be discrimination or in isolated cases, even violence, against this minority,” the cable said.

Arrest triggers protests
Assange’s recent arrest in London has triggered off a wave of protests across the world, by people who believe him to be the last hope of a free and fair press.
Assange, who describes his style as “scientific journalism”, says the philosophy behind WikiLeaks is “to radically shift regime behavior, we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not.”

“The more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie... Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.” Already, American senators have called for Assange to be tried for espionage. Some people have even called for him to be “bumped off.”

He had previously released a video, which showed American helicopter gun crew in Baghdad shooting and killing two Reuters photographers. WikiLeaks had selectively in association with top newspapers of the globe released 25,0000 American diplomatic cables. These cables show the candour and blunt assessments made by American diplomats across the globe. Assange’s stance of taking on the world’s only superpower and exposing the inner workings of one the most secretive organisations in the world has made him an instant hero among the masses.


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