Category Archives: Corporations

Who Gets to Speak on Cable News?

Peter Hart writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Media diversity demographics‘A survey of major cable news discussion programs shows a stunning lack of diversity among the guests.

FAIR surveyed five weeks of broadcasts of the interview/discussion segments on several leading one-hour cable shows: CNN‘s Anderson Cooper 360° and OutFront With Erin Burnett, All In With Chris Hayes and the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and Fox News Channel‘s O’Reilly Factor and Hannity.

Guests were coded by gender, race/ethnicity and occupation, as well as the affiliations of partisan guests-those who are identified with a party as current or former government officials or campaign professionals.’

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Len McClusky: The NHS is being taken over by Wall Street, and Cameron won’t stop it

Len McClusky, leader of Unite, writes for the Guardian:

Brighton TTIP demo‘Will David Cameron go down in history as the man who gave away this country’s greatest achievement to Wall Street, the man who enabled big American healthcare access to our hospital wards? The answer will be yes – unless the prime minister makes it clear once and for all that he will protect the NHS from the world’s largest bilateral trade negotiations, happening right now in Brussels.

Make no mistake, we are in the fight of our lives to save the NHS from being sold off lock, stock and barrel. But to make matters even worse a trade deal called TTIP (the transatlantic trade and investment partnership) will mean that reversing the damage done by this government could be impossible unless Cameron acts.’

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The Corporate Takeover of ‘All Natural’ Food

Clarissa A. León writes for Alternet:

‘Walk through your local grocery store these days and you’ll see the words “all natural” emblazoned on a variety of food packages.  The label is lucrative, for sure, but in discussing the natural label few have remarked on what’s really at stake — the natural ingredients and the companies themselves.

If you take a look at some of the favorite organic and natural food brands, you’ll see they’re owned by some of the largest conventional companies in the world. Coca-Cola owns Odwalla and Honest Tea. PepsiCo. owns Naked Juice. General Mills owns Lara Bar. Natural and organic food acquisitions aside, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Mills all opposed California’s GMO Proposition 37 that would require GMO food labeling. Today, some of those companies touting an all-natural list of grains and sugars can be seen changing the ingredients in their natural food products as the natural foods’ distribution channels are pushed to larger and larger markets.’

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US Intelligence: No direct Russian involvement, rebels likely downed MH17 by mistake

Editor’s Note: When you understand the context of what has been happening in eastern Ukraine, how Willy Wonka’s military forces from Kiev have been shelling the shit out of the area for months killing innocent people, the idea that the jet shoot down was a mistake makes much more sense than the cartoonist super villain propaganda that Putin blew it out of the sky just for kicks. I put forward the theory that it was an accident a couple of days ago on several threads in the midst of all the hysteria so many people were certain it was a deliberate act and that Russia had be be directly involved. The same idea was put forward in an article in Time that quoted Austin Long, professor of political and international affairs at Columbia.

The Associated Press reports:

‘Senior U.S. intelligence officials say they have no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. They say the passenger jet was likely felled by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and that Russia “created the conditions” for the downing by arming the separatists.

The officials briefed reporters Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used in discussing intelligence related to last week’s air disaster, which killed 298 people. They said they didn’t know if any Russians were present at the missile launch, and they wouldn’t say that the missile crew was trained in Russia. A senior official said the most likely explanation was the plane was shot down by mistake.’

Are People Who Shoot Down Passenger Planes ‘War Criminals’–or ‘Hard to Fault’?

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

‘The New York Times (7/22/14) didn’t mince words in its editorial on the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: “Whoever unleashed a lethal missile not knowing how to distinguish between a military and a civilian plane is not only irresponsible and stupid, but a war criminal.”

That seems pretty unequivocal. But if you look at the New York Times‘ archives, you’ll see that some people who unleash lethal missiles without knowing how to distinguish between military and civilian planes aren’t irresponsible, stupid or criminal–they’re just doing what they had to do. Of course, if you’re going to shoot down a civilian jetliner–from the Times‘ point of view–it helps to be working for the US Navy when you do it.’

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Hysteria over MH17 plane transitions to post-crash accusations

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar: ‘The hysterical allegations surrounding the apparent shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in eastern Ukraine continue to grow. The latest round of unproven allegations seems to be focusing on the situation at the crash site itself. Earlier this morning, NBC News presented the story “fury grows as pro-Russian rebels block access to MH17 site,” which pictures of scary-looking rebels with masks and guns. But that doesn’t seem to be true, as BBC News was reporting at virtually the same time  that “Dutch experts examine bodies,” a story focusing on how the rebels were actually letting the Dutch access the bodies. Another group of international investigators is making their way to the site as well.’ READ MORE…

Ethical Journalism Network Director Speaks to Russia Today About Ethics in Journalism

McDonald’s and KFC hit by China food safety scandal

Lucy Hornby reports for the Financial Times:

Two Chinese men walk past a billboard advertising US fast-food giant McDonald's, in Yichang, central China's Hubei province on July 8, 2010. McDonald's said it was working with Chinese authorities to test its Chicken McNuggets amid reports they contained risky chemical additives, but stressed the food was safe. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)‘A supplier to McDonald’s and KFC in China has been accused of supplying rotting meat to the fast-food chains and falsifying product expiration dates, in the latest food safety scandal to hit the country. It is also the latest blow to foreign fast food companies operating in the country, where promises of rapid growth – there are more than 4,400 KFC restaurants alone – are being undermined by food safety issues.

The Shanghai food safety watchdog said on Monday it had closed a meat and poultry processor on the outskirts of the city after an undercover investigation by a local television station found the company to be putting new labels on expired meat, among other food safety violations. KFC and McDonald’s, both of which used the US-owned meat processor to supply their Shanghai outlets, apologised to their Chinese customers.’

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Jean-Claude Juncker’s real scandal is his tax-haven homeland of Luxembourg

Nick Cohen writes for the Guardian:

Jean-Claude Juncker‘[...] Juncker has dedicated his career to ensuring that society becomes less fair; that wealthy institutions and individuals can avoid the taxes little people and small businesses must pay. “Everywhere do I perceive a certain conspiracy of rich men seeking their own advantage,” wrote Sir Thomas More in 1516. He might have been describing Mr Juncker.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s Ruritanian title carries a whiff of archaic glamour. But it is nothing more than a piratical state. The only difference between pirates old and new is that instead of using muskets and cannons to seize other people’s money, Luxembourg uses accountants.’

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Ukraine and Gaza: Spot the difference in the value of civilian lives killed by war

Lindsey German writes for Stop the War:

‘The fear Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow’s expressed on Twitter has turned out to be all too prophetic: “Awful danger that the shooting down of flight MH17 will provide cover for an intensification of Israel’s ground war in Gaza”. Yet the coverage of both events in the western media shows a quite shocking disproportion of standards between the two. While new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond argued the case for more sanctions on Russia as a result of the shooting, David Cameron, writing in the Sunday Times, went even further:

“This is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action.”

The wording is uncannily reminiscent of Tony Blair’s call for action after 9/11, which has created much of the horror we are now seeing in the world. The media refer to Putin as a ‘terrorist’, there are calls to brand the Ukrainian separatist organisations as terrorist, and there are demands from the Dutch and other governments to take even stronger strong action against Russia.

It is hardly worth recording that attitudes to Israeli bombing and ground invasion are completely different in tone, let alone in trying to apply serious sanctions to a government which has repeatedly attacked Palestinians and who used the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish students on the West Bank to launch another attack on Gaza. When Philip Hammond was asked, by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, whether Israel was acting disproportionately in Gaza, he three times refused to answer, but blamed Hamas.’

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KAL 007 and Iran Air 655: Comparing the Coverage

From Fairness In Accuracy & Reporting back in 1988:

USS Vincennes (Wikimedia)‘The day after a Soviet interceptor plane blew up a Korean passenger jet, the first sentence of a New York Times editorial (9/2/83) was unequivocal: “There is no conceivable excuse for any nation shooting down a harmless airliner.” Headlined “Murder in the Air,” the editorial asserted that “no circumstance whatever justifies attacking an innocent plane.”

Confronted with the sudden reality of a similar action by the U.S. government, theNew York Times inverted every standard invoked with righteous indignation five years earlier. Editorials condemning the KAL shoot down were filled with phrases like “wanton killing,” “reckless aerial murder” and “no conceivable excuse.” But when Iran Air’s flight 655 was blown out of the sky on July 3, excuses were more than conceivable–they were profuse.

Two days after the Iranian passenger jet went down in flames, killing 290 people, the Times (7/5/88) editorialized that “while horrifying, it was nonetheless an accident.” The editorial concluded, “The onus for avoiding such accidents in the future rests on civilian aircraft: avoid combat zones, fly high, acknowledge warnings.”‘

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Chain smoker’s widow awarded $23bn in punitive damages

From Reuters:

cigarettes‘A jury in Florida has awarded the widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer 18 years ago record punitive damages of more than $23bn against America’s second-biggest cigarette maker, RJ Reynolds. The judgment, returned on Friday night, was the largest in Florida history in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a single plaintiff, said Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the woman’s lawyer, Chris Chestnut.

Cynthia Robinson, of Pensacola, sued the cigarette maker in 2008 over the death of her husband, Michael Johnson, claiming the company conspired to conceal the health dangers and addictive nature of its products. Johnson, a hotel shuttle-bus driver who died of lung cancer in 1996 aged 36, smoked between one and three packets a day for more 20 years, starting at age 13, Chestnut said. “He couldn’t quit. He was smoking the day he died,” the lawyer told Reuters on Saturday.’

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Corrupting the peer review process

Michael Cook writes for BioEdge:

‘Peer review is supposed to protect us against junk science. But what happens if the peer review is junk science? The Journal of Vibration and Control, a member of the SAGE publishing group, has revealed what happens and it’s not pretty. SAGE has announced that the JVC is retracting 60 papers by a Taiwanese researcher, Peter Chen, formerly of National Pingtung University of Education, Taiwan.’

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School Shootings and US Militarism

Chris Ernesto writes for CounterPunch:

‘In the 18 months [now 19 months] since twenty first-graders were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, there have been 74 shootings at U.S. schools.  That averages out to nearly one school shooting per week since the Newtown massacre. In response the 74th incident, which occurred at a high school in Oregon, president Obama said, “We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens,” and that lawmakers should be “ashamed” of not passing stricter gun control laws. Good for Obama for acknowledging something bad about the country he leads — maybe this will make him rethink his “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being” statement last month. But bad for Obama for turning this into a gun control issue.

It’s hard to take seriously a person who decries violence as a means of conflict resolution when that same person orders the assassination of his own citizens and drops bombs on innocent people in other countries.  A few hours after he lamented gun violence in the US he ordered drone strikes in Pakistan, which killed 13 human beings. So, it’s okay for the US to kill people in another country, but it’s not okay for Americans to kill people in their own country? Obviously, Obama is trying to capitalize on the school shootings as a way to gain political favor for his Democratic party, and to prevent people from talking about the real causes of violence in America. But Obama and Democrats aren’t the only ones trying to distract people from addressing the root causes of schoolyard massacres.  Republican lawmakers attempt to explain away the violence by saying the perpetrators are mentally ill and that more security is needed to stop these atrocities from happening.’

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The Commodification of Nature & the Market-Based Approach

Alyssa Rochricht writes for CounterPunch:

‘Taken for granted in the climate change discussion is the assumption that nature or the environment is something that can or should be commodified, yet the structure of capitalism is such that it seeks to commodify everything, including human life (labor) and the environment (land and natural resources). The commodification of nature and the environment, inherent in the capitalist system, is problematic in its own right. Within this economic system, land, as well as labor, are seen as a commodity – something that can be purchased – and an essential part of industry. Yet what does it mean to say that something like “labor” and “land” are commodities? Karl Polanyi, the great economist, anthropologist, philosopher and sociologist, argued that both are not created as something to be sold. Labor is essentially human activity, a necessary part of life. Land, synonymous with nature, is not produced by man and in fact, encompasses man as a part of itself. When we sell the right to harm the natural environment, we are effectively selling something that is not ours.

Yet many seek to solve the climate change crisis through market mechanisms and through the buying and selling of rights to pollute or degrade the natural environment through things like carbon taxing and trading. This is effectively selling the rights to pollute something that is not ours to sell. Many economists have proposed the idea of a carbon economy, where a market would be created for the trading of carbon permits, where states, corporations, or even individuals would be given a certain allocation of permissible carbon emissions and those permits could be sold or traded. While this raises many important issues with regard to rich countries taking advantage of poor, underdeveloped countries, as well as leaving much room for manipulation by states and corporations, one of the fundamental problems has to do with permitting pollution so long as an agent is able to pay. When polluters are fined for actions that have an adverse effect on the environment, the wrongness of the action remains intact. When carbon permits are offered (pollution permits), it is as if the action of pollution is now permissible, and the wrongness of the act is absolved.’

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NBC News Reverses Decision, Will Put Ayman Mohyeldin Back in Gaza

Matt Wilstein writes for Mediate:

‘On Thursday, NBC News reportedly pulled correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin out of the Gaza Strip citing “security concerns.” Meanwhile, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel was allowed to stay in the region. But now, it appears the network has reversed its decision and will be sending the reporter back to Gaza to continue his coverage as soon as possible.’

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CNN Removes Reporter Diana Magnay From Israel-Gaza After ‘Scum’ Tweet

Michael Calderone reports for The Huffington Post:

‘CNN has removed correspondent Diana Magnay from covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after she tweeted that Israelis who were cheering the bombing of Gaza, and who had allegedly threatened her, were “scum.”

“After being threatened and harassed before and during a liveshot, Diana reacted angrily on Twitter,” a CNN spokeswoman said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew,” the spokeswoman continued. “She certainly meant no offense to anyone beyond that group, and she and CNN apologize for any offense that may have been taken.”

The spokeswoman said Magnay has been assigned to Moscow.’

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Preaching to the Choir: Politics and Propaganda

Aid to Africa: Donations from west mask ‘$60bn looting’ of continent

Mark Anderson writes for the Guardian:

MDG : Parched soil in the Greater Upper Nile region of north-eastern South Sudan

‘Western countries are using aid to Africa as a smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent as it loses nearly $60bn a year through tax evasionclimate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies, a group of NGOs has claimed.

Although sub-Saharan Africa receives $134bn each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid, research released on Tuesday by a group of UK and Africa-based NGOs suggests that $192bn leaves the region, leaving a $58bn shortfall. The report says that while western countries send about $30bn in development aid to Africa every year, more than six times that amount leaves the continent, “mainly to the same countries providing that aid”.’

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America’s Moaning Moguls: Why Are the Super-Rich So Angry?

James Surowiecki writes for The New Yorker:

‘[...] Although the Obama years have been boom times for America’s super-rich—recent work by the economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty showed that ninety-five per cent of income gains in the first three years of the recovery went to the top one per cent—a lot of them believe that they’re a persecuted minority. As Mark Mizruchi, a sociologist at the University of Michigan and the author of a book called “The Fracturing of the American Corporate Elite,” told me, “These guys think, We’re the job creators, we keep the markets running, and yet the public doesn’t like us. How can that be?” Business leaders were upset at the criticism that followed the financial crisis and, for many of them, it’s an article of faith that people succeed or fail because that’s what they deserve. Schwarzman recently said that Americans “always like to blame somebody other than themselves for a failure.” If you believe that net worth is a reflection of merit, then any attempt to curb inequality looks unfair.

That’s not how it’s always been. A century ago, industrial magnates played a central role in the Progressive movement, working with unions, supporting workmen’s compensation laws and laws against child labor, and often pushing for more government regulation. This wasn’t altruism; as a classic analysis by the historian James Weinstein showed, the reforms were intended to co-opt public pressure and avert more radical measures. Still, they materially improved the lives of ordinary workers. And they sprang from a pragmatic belief that the robustness of capitalism as a whole depended on wide distribution of the fruits of the system.’

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John Bolton: We Need to Start Treating Russia Like an Adversary

Despite Hysteria on Malaysia Airlines MH17, Little Solid Evidence

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘Shock over the crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in eastern Ukraine, and speculation about whether it was shot down, has morphed into outright hysteria, not so much about the 298 people who died on board, but about who was responsible.

There is a shocking amount of speculation at this point, and a lot of it is based on incredibly flimsy evidence, with the assorted players in the region all crossing their fingers and hoping the blame eventually falls on someone convenient for them.’

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RT Host Abby Martin: If missile was Russian, it shows why governments shouldn’t give weapons to militias

Russia Today reporter Sara Firth resigns in protest at MH17 coverage

John Plunkett reports for the Guardian:

‘A London-based correspondent of Kremlin-funded news channel Russia Today has resigned in protest at its coverage of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Sara Firth, who worked at Russia Today for five years, described the channel’s reporting of the crash in which 298 people were killed, including a former BBC journalist, as the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Russia Today, which has been criticised as a propaganda mouthpiece for the Russian government, suggested Ukraine was to blame for the crash, while most media organisations have said it was shot down by a suspected Russian-made missile.’

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Why Audiences Hate Hard News—and Love Pretending Otherwise

Derek Thompson writes for The Atlantic:

‘You may not realize this, but we can see you. Yes, you. The human reading this article. We have analytics that tells us roughly where you are, what site you’ve just arrived from, how long you stay, how far you read, where you hop to next. We’ve got eyeballs on your eyeballs.

Why is it so important that digital news organizations track which articles you’re reading on our websites? The obvious answer is that it teaches us what you’re interested in. The less-obvious, but equally true, answer is that it teaches youwhat you’re interested in.

If we merely asked what you wanted, without measuring what you wanted, you’d just keep lying to us—and to yourself.’

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Proposed media law in East Timor ‘a threat to freedom of the press’

Roy Greenslade reports for the Guardian:

Second Round Of Presidential Elections Held In East Timor‘A proposed media law under consideration in East Timor is regarded as a threat to press freedomreports Human Rights Watch (HRW). The country’s appeal court is now reviewing the law’s constitutionality in response to a request by the president, Taur Matan Ruak.

The law would create a licensing system for journalists administered by a five-member government-funded press council. Media organisations would be prohibited from employing uncertified journalists.’

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Australian journalists will face jail over spy leaks under new security laws

Paul Farrell and Daniel Hurst:

NSA headquarters‘Australian journalists could face prosecution and jail for reporting Snowden-style revelations about certain spy operations, in an “outrageous” expansion of the government’s national security powers, leading criminal lawyers have warned. A bill presented to parliament on Wednesday by the attorney general, George Brandis, would expand the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio), including creation of a new offence punishable by five years in jail for “any person” who disclosed information relating to “special intelligence operations”.

The person would be liable for a 10-year term if the disclosure would “endanger the health or safety of any person or prejudice the effective conduct of a special intelligence operation”. Special intelligence operations are a new type of operation in which intelligence officers receive immunity from liability or prosecution where they may need to engage in conduct that would be otherwise unlawful.’

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Coca-Cola Forced To Shut Bottling Plant in India

Fatima Hansia reports for CorpWatch:

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage producer, has been ordered to shut down its bottling plant in Varanasi, India following local complaints that the company was drawing excessive amounts of groundwater. After an investigation, government authorities ruled that the company had violated its operating license.

…This is not the first time that the company has been in trouble in India for unsustainable water extraction practices. In 2004 a bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, was closed for excessive water consumption. Later Kerala passed legislation that allows Coca-Cola to be sued for as much as $47 million in damages as result of the operations. And last year, community organizers in Charba, Uttarakhand, defeated Coca-Cola’s plans to build a new factory as soon as the proposal went public.’

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Why Opposing the Israel Lobby Is No Longer Political Suicide

Phyllis Bennis writes for The Nation:

Palestinian woman‘[...] Something is different this time. And not only that the assault is different, and worse. The difference is the political environment in which this attack is happening, especially the political environment here in the United States. For those of us who’ve been working on changing US policy in the Middle East for decades, the bad news is in front of us every day: that policy hasn’t changed, and billions of dollars in aid money and uncritical political, diplomatic and military support for Israel remains constant.

But there is some good news. It’s only obvious when you can back up for a moment to look past the daily bad-news reality. The good news is that the discourse has shifted dramatically—in mainstream news coverage, punditry, pop culture and more. It’s much better than ever. They don’t get it right, still, but things are changing. Twelve years ago, during the siege of Yasir Arafat’s compound in Ramallah and the surrounding of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, we didn’t hear many Palestinian voices in the mainstream press. In 2006, during Israel’s attack on Gaza,The New York Times and NPR didn’t send their reporters to the Khan Younis refugee camp or to Gaza City.

But the coverage had already begun to shift during Cast Lead, the three-week Israeli war against Gaza in 2008–09, and we realized then how much the media changes reflected the overall discourse shift. Despite Israeli efforts to exclude the international press, Al Jazeera and other Arabic channels were broadcasting live out of Gaza. The Times had a terrific young stringer, Taghreed el-Khodary, filing hour by hour. Israel probably wouldn’t have allowed her into the Strip, but they couldn’t stop her, she was already there—born and raised in Gaza and living with her family.’

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Swedish court upholds detention order on Assange

Karl Ritter reports for the AP:

‘A Swedish court on Wednesday upheld its detention order on Julian Assange, reaffirming the legal basis for an international warrant for the WikiLeaks founder which has kept him hiding in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for two years.

Assange’s lawyers said they will appeal the Stockholm district court’s decision. No charges have been brought against Assange in Sweden but he is wanted for questioning by police over allegations of sexual misconduct and rape involving two women he met during a visit to the Scandinavian country in 2010.’

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