I have been somewhat distracted this week and have reneged on my promises to publish another chapter of ‘Lustful Gent’ before the week’s end. A new chapter was originally written last Friday and underwent a first proof reading on Monday, but unfortunately, I haven’t looked at it since then.
I have to go back to last Saturday to find the reason for this wayward behaviour, for on that somewhat fateful day, my behaviour was very wayward indeed!
It started off innocently enough when I went out mid-afternoon to catch up with one of my friends, who I usually see once a week, when he is at home in Pattaya after spending the weekdays working in Bangkok.
We met at one of the family oriented watering holes by the lake, but after an hour or so, he suggested that we adjourn to a bar a kilometre further round the lake where he had noticed on his way to our rendezvous that this bar seemed to have an excess of scantily clad bar girls.
Well you know Mobi – I rarely need a second bidding to indulge my base passions and we were soon enjoying the ministrations of several young ladies who – strange to relate – were not at all shy! We had the place to ourselves and spent a pleasant couple of hours chatting and having a bit of ‘slap and tickle’ – Nothing too terrible, but enough to set our ageing hormones raging a bit.
My friend eventually had to go home to his wife, whereupon the two ladies who had been sitting with him, immediately transferred their allegiance to Mobi, joining the two young things who had already been taking pretty good care of me.
It was getting late, but I decided to stay and enjoy the excellent company for another half hour, so I sent a message to Noo, advising that I would be home at 7 pm. The four delectable ladies continued to fondle me in every way which, when I suddenly became aware of yet another young lady who was stroking my arm from behind my back.
I turned around and got the shock of my life. It was Noo – standing there, with a look of utter distress on her face. Her son was not far away, sitting on the back of the Mobi-tandem.
‘Oh! hello….’ said I, with a forced grin.
‘What time you coming home?’ she asked, almost in tears.
‘I’ll finish my drink and come home – five minutes, OK?’
She seemed satisfied and without a further word, she got back on the tandem and she and her son set off for the lengthy bike journey home.
I had broken out into a cold sweat and called for my bill to bring the afternoon’s entertainment to an abrupt end. I told the girls that Noo was my girlfriend, and they said that they respected her for not making a scene. They told me that the wives and girlfriends of customers who had been caught out would usually start a fight – shouting and screaming; and they would fight not only their men but often with the bar girls as well.
The truth was that I knew that Noo would never make a scene, and I also knew that after tearful day or so it would be ‘all right’; but the look on her face filled me full of remorse.
I waited until I thought the pair had reached home, and then drove home myself, walking into the house in stony silence. Noo’s son grinned at me from ear to ear, but Noo wasn’t speaking. I tried to speak to her and apologise, but she wasn’t having it.
‘Sorry for what?’ she snapped.
So I gave up and went back to my computer.
A couple of hours later, just as starvation was driving me to the kitchen to make a sandwich, Noo asked me if wanted to eat and then served me a meal – still in silence.
Once I was replete, she came and sat down next to me and asked if it was OK to talk.
‘Of course; fire away…’
‘Khun Mobi, Ka, are you bored with me?’
‘No, of course not! I love you so much! Oh, Noo, I am so sorry, it was nothing, I never meant to hurt you.’
The poor thing broke down in tears and grabbed hold of me and sobbed into my shoulder. I don’t have to tell you what I perfect bastard I felt. I promised her faithfully that I would never do such thing again, and after a while, normal relationships were resumed.
That was last Saturday and I still feel pretty bad about what I did, so I have spent the week very close to her and we have been out most days doing various things around Pattaya – shopping and so on.
So in the interests of smoothing Noo’s hurt and furrowed brow, I have abandoned my novel writing for a week or so.
My health seems to have stabilised somewhat and the last vestiges of my chest infection has finally gone. Although I still have some chest pains – mainly at night – they are at a tolerable level.
My self-prescribed medication seems to be keeping my blood pressure more or less in check, although my heart rate is now a bit on the low side – rarely out of the 50’s (beats per minute). Two weeks ago my INR (the measurement of how long it takes my blood to clot) was very low, and after adjusting my daily warfarin, it is now too high, so I really need to see a good specialist who knows a bit more about these matters than me! Hopefully, I have solved this problem by finally ‘biting the bullet’ and booking an appointment with one of the top cardiologists at Bangkok Pattaya Hospital next Wednesday. Fingers crossed it will work out OK and not bankrupt me.
It has just occurred to me that warfarin is also used as a rat poison, so if I take too much, presumably I will die like a rat. It’s about what I deserve after my recent, despicable behaviour.
Mobi, you dirty rat!
(with apologies to James Cagney)
Assange, WikiLeaks and Gunboat Diplomacy…
Last week I met up with Jim, an old friend of mine, who is an English chartered accountant and works as a finance director in Bangkok. I quite taken aback when he arrived in a high state of agitation, and told me he had been angry and upset all week.
Given that Jim is usually an extremely mild mannered, diffident individual, (much as one would expect of an English Chartered Accountant), kind and helpful to his friends, and someone who, for the most part, wouldn’t say ‘boo to a goose.’ Yet here he was, in such a state of upset , that I wondered if he had lost his senses, especially when he told me that the reason for his ill- humour was the drama that was unfolding with a certain Mr Julian Assange who was holed out at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Over the years, Jim had already made it perfectly clear that he had an extremely low opinion of all things American and he rarely lost an opportunity to put the verbal dagger into the USA whenever there was an adverse news event emanating from the North American continent.
Some of my long term readers will know very well that I too have been highly critical of my American cousins over all manner of issues during the past 3 years, but anything I have said, pales into insignificance when compared to Jim’s vitriolic attacks on anything and everything American. His hatred of the Yanks borders on pathological.
Why? I can’t really say for sure. I do know he has spent a fair amount of time in USA on business, and through the years has been on the receiving end of many of America’s draconian and protectionist trade laws and business practices. But none of that, in my humble opinion, can justify his virulently anti-American stance on every just about every subject. I recall that he welcomed Obama’s election victory with great jubilation but these days he hates Obama just as much as he hates all other Americans.
Jim’s latest anti-Yank tirade concerned his total conviction than there existed a conspiracy between Sweden and America, whereby Sweden would be obliged to extradite Assange to the USA under threat of not receiving spare parts for the American made military planes. He was also totally convinced that the WikiLeaks publication of thousands of classified documents was completely justified and that Bradley Manning should be hailed as a hero.
I tried to point out to Jim that Sweden had one of the most unbiased and respected justice systems in the world and that it was highly unlikely, even impossible, that the courts there would bow to political pressure – especially after all this incredible pro-WikiLeaks, pro-Assange publicity. But I might just as well have tried to convince a member of the ‘flat earth society’ that the world was actually round.
There could be no possible meeting of minds on this matter so I decided to drop the subject and concentrate on more mundane matters – such as the quality of the young ladies who were about to join us at the bar.
But the near-falling-out got me thinking. Where do I, Mobi, really stand on these matters?
I confess to having mixed feelings on the WikiLeaks disclosures. When the news first broke, like many, I was astounded at the huge volume of classified documents that were being published on the internet. My immediate reaction was to condemn such blatant violation of a country’s privacy laws – after all, how can any sovereign territory be able to conduct its affairs of state if everything that it’s government and civil servants wrote and did was made available to the public gaze. It just didn’t make sense to me that such an act should be hailed as a victory for ‘freedom of information’.
I mean, how can it be right for confidential correspondence between – say – an embassy and its masters in the home country, which contained highly sensitive information and opinions on the country in which the embassy was situated, should be made public? Such confidential, diplomatic ‘to-ing’ and ‘fro-ing’ goes on between every embassy and their home states all over the world; it is how a country’s foreign policies are formulated and how the world as we know it, functions.
But the WikiLeaks disclosures are much, much more than the disclosure of classified embassy correspondence. They contain thousands upon thousands of documents in almost every reach of the American Government and includes highly classified military information in what are still active theatres of war.
There is certainly a strong argument that such military disclosures endangered and even caused the death of allied military personnel in Afghanistan.
Then there are some videos of some highly questionable activities by US military personnel in Iraq. It is more than possible that these GI’s were guilty of war crimes. Personally I happen to believe that if you have war, then these things will always happen; sometimes they are uncovered and the culprits are punished, sometimes they get away with it. But it is all part and parcel of waging a war, and those who believe that the military on both sides of a conflict follow all the ‘rules’ of engagement are deluding themselves – but I guess this is a different topic of discussion.
The point is that the pro WikiLeaks lobby seems to be saying that because they have showed the world some American soldiers indulging in illegal activities, then that justifies the wholesale publication of so many documents and other media material.
I accept that there is always a place for ‘whistle blowers’ in this world, and if Mr Manning and Mr Assange had confined their disclosures to the few obviously blatant contraventions of international law, then they might have garnered more sympathy for what they did and the world might be more understanding.
As it is, I fail to see how anybody can support and justify the actions carried out by Bradley Manning – a fully paid up member of the American military, in a position of high trust, and sworn to uphold the law, who was responsible for such wholesale disclosures. He has surely sold his country down the river like very few have done before him. If there is such a crime as treason, then in my opinion, Manning’s crimes certainly qualify.
Julian Assange’s position is somewhat different. Was he an ‘accessory before the fact’? Did he know in advance and actively encourage Manning in his illegal deeds? We may never know the extent of Assange’s involvement in the theft and copying of the documents, but if it transpires that he was indeed culpable, then he certainly would have a case to answer.
But the man must be innocent until proven guilty and we must assume that he was the passive receiver of the documents ‘after the fact’, and had no prior knowledge and took no part in their procurement. Given this assumption, then as far as this humble observer can see, he was merely the ‘messenger’ – reprehensible and irresponsible as that might have been, but no law that I am aware of was broken. He was simply putting on the internet material which was passed onto him. If it had contained prohibited material – such as paedophilia – then he might have broken the law, but I fail to see that he has done anything illegal.
So if he hasn’t done anything illegal, why should he be worried that a country that has one the highest human rights values in the world, would bow to political pressure and agree to extradite him?
Frankly, I doubt whether he thinks this at all. He has blown up this massive smoke screen and got half the world, including Jim, believing that the evil empire of America will haul him over there at the first opportunity and condemn him to death as a spy and traitor.
The truth of the matter is that he faces serious rape charges in Sweden, and like any other citizen, he is required to answer to them. He obviously fears being found guilty and sent to jail, and this is the reason for his flight from bail in the UK and has nothing whatsoever to do with fears that he may be extradited to the USA. Unless that is, he knows more than we do, and that in fact he was actively involved in the theft of the documents, in which case he must take his punishment.
However commendable are one’s altruistic motives, if you break the law, you must know that one day, you will be held to account.
What we do know is that Assange is, by general acknowledgment, a highly egotistical individual; described by some of those who have known him well as a ‘paranoid, narcissistic creep’ who loves the limelight. Certainly over the past few years, he has had a series of major falling outs and parting of the waves with a number of his most active supporters and campaigners.
He has treated his wealthy friends with contempt and some were clearly upset when he skipped bail, as they stand to lose the large sums of bail money they had posted and he didn’t even have the decency to discuss his action with them in advance.
Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who was one of Assange’s closest confidant and worked for WikiLeaks until 2010 before he had a major falling out has stated:
..,. It was developing from an organisation supporting whistle-blowers to one that has an entire secrecy agenda…
… he is not really good with criticism. He takes a no compromise position…
… I’ll never be involved with WikiLeaks again. I can’t even imagine he would excuse himself. He wouldn’t be in this mess if he had the capacity for saying sorry…
… I fully agree that he should never be extradited to the US. But the court of law is there to establish what is right and wrong, and if you have violated a law, and we’re ignoring it because we’re sacrificing that for a higher goal, you’re opening up a Pandora’s box…
Assange even turned on the left wing English newspaper The Guardian which had given him almost unswerving support for his WikiLeaks disclosures, declaring that he regarded The Guardian as a ‘Greater threat to him than the Pentagon’.
But at the end of the day, it is not Assange’s character we need to look at, but his deeds, although having said that, a person’s character often helps to explain someone’s deeds, (or misdeeds).
He is denying that he did anything wrong in Sweden and accuses Sweden of ‘setting him up’ and having a secret pact with America, and that as soon as he is on Swedish soil, he will be extradited. It has been suggested that the Yanks would withhold spare parts for the Swedish air force jets if Sweden refused to play ball.
Ironically, the reason that Assange went to Sweden in the first place was the good reputation of Swedish law. He went there to investigate whether WikiLeaks could benefit from the unique protection of information under Swedish special constitutional laws of freedom of speech. During his stay in Sweden, two events occurred, which led to the accusations against him for sexual assault of two women. Before the Swedish police had a chance to interrogate him, he left the country.
Since then he has refused to return to Sweden and it has taken almost two years to bring the issue of extradition to a conclusion through the English courts. Now the UK is not exactly down at the bottom of the list of countries which provides its citizens with fair, impartial justice; and even well-known instigators of terrorism have been protected by the English courts and have invariably succeeded in their fights to avoid extradition. Assange took his case against extradition right up to the English Supreme Court, where he ultimately failed, as the Swedes had presented a prima facia case for Assange to answer.
In his blatant attempts to creating a smoke screen, he has accused the Swedes of being in league with the Americans – despite the fact that he actually went there because of its good legal reputation and freedom from government interference.
Let’s look at the facts.
By international acknowledgement, Sweden’s legal system is well known to respect justice and the rule of law. The Swedish court system is characterized by ‘high quality fairness’ and humanism. The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2011 report ranked Sweden first of 66 nations on fundamental legal rights. (The UK ranks 13th, the USA 19th), and states that Sweden’s open government, lack of corruption and clear laws make the country top of global government effectiveness ranking.
The Swedes themselves, who initially supported his Wikileaks campaign, became highly incensed at his unfair, unsubstantiated allegations against the Swedish system of justice.
Does this sound like a country – the fairest and most incorruptible in the world – that is prepared to bi-pass its rigorous legal procedures and enter into a secret, pernicious deal with the USA? Frankly it’s laughable that the USA could pressure Sweden in such a way. All Sweden has to do is to make the American threats public and ‘egg’ would be well and truly over the Yank’s faces and their stock in the world would drop even lower than it presently is.
And in any case, WTF does Sweden need an air force for? It’s a joke!
But what about Ecuador, the country that has so valiantly, against all odds , championed Assange’s cause? After all, in Assange, we have a man who has set himself up as a champion of press freedom and liberty; so it would be reasonable to assume that he would seek help from like-minded people, or from states that valued his own concepts of freedom, wouldn’t it? But this estimable modern day hero – Julian Assange – appears to be only concerned for his personal safety and evasion of justice; so he chooses to seek the help of a country with a highly questionable human rights record.
For starters, let’s look at Ecuador’s record on the subject of press freedom. A recent publication from ‘Freeedom House’, ranks press freedom for 150 countries with populations in excess of 1 million. Surprise, surprise; Ecuador is in a lowly 69th place, even lower than such bastions of press freedom as Nigeria, and Haiti. (I don’t have to tell you that in the same report, Sweden is ranked 2nd.)
What does Amnesty International say about Ecuador?
…: Spurious criminal charges were brought against human rights defenders, including indigenous leaders. Human rights violations committed by security forces remained unresolved. Women living in poverty continued to lack access to good quality and culturally appropriate health services….
What does the Human Rights watch say?
… Prosecutors have applied a “terrorism and sabotage” provision of the criminal code in cases involving protests against mining and oil projects and in other incidents that have ended in confrontations with police. ….
…Such crimes carry a possible prison sentence of four to eight years. In July 2011 the Centre for Economic and Social Rights, an Ecuadorian human rights group, reported that 189 indigenous people were facing terrorism and sabotage charges. Most of them were in hiding and only eight had been convicted…
What about Assange’s friend, President Rafael Correa?
Recently Correa closed yet another independent media outlet and his numerous public comments made in attacking private media are an alarming illustration of Correa’s growing attempts to silence critical media. Freedom House recently called on President Correa to retract his order preventing government officials from speaking to private media and to allow all journalists and media organizations to operate without interference.
Freedom House has stated:
…Freedom of expression continues to be severely threatened in Ecuador… What happens in Ecuador could have negative repercussions throughout the region, which has witnessed a rapid decline in press freedom…
Do I detect more than a whiff of vomit-induced hypocrisy about Assange’s behaviour – by seeking assistance from a country that is not exactly considered a shining beacon of justice and press freedom in this troubled world of ours?
Gun Boat Diplomacy
Finally no dissertation on the subject of Assange would be complete without mentioning the UK’s less than honourable role in this shabby epidsode of political chicanery.
A few weeks ago, I chided US Republican Presidential candidate, Romney, for shooting his mouth off and implying that Britain was unprepared to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Then there was Obama, shooting his mouth off to small business owners along the lines of ‘You didn’t build your businesses – the government did!’ Then there was Obama’s mentally challenged VP, Joe Biden, who in a recent gaff, charged that the Republicans would put the black members of his audience ‘back in chains’.
But none of the above comes even close to that idiot William Hague’s barely veiled threat to the Ecuadorian government that Britain might invoke a little known law and storm the Ecuadorian embassy to seize Assange. In a single, very, very stupid sentence, Hague succeeded in giving Correas the moral high ground and set the entire Latin American continent against us – labelling us a bullying, colonial power.
The rights and wrongs of WikiLeaks, Assange and his sex crimes in Sweden were all forgotten in a war of words over Britain’s potential violation of the Ecuadorian embassy. I can think of no occasion over the past few decades when the UK indulged in such a pathetic attempt to intimidate a small country on the other side of the world and which has now collapsed in such abject failure – and so it should do. I am ashamed to be British after such an idiotic attempt at ‘gun-boat’ diplomacy. I understand that Hague was advised very strongly by government lawyers not to go ahead with his threats, yet he did so anyway.
An apology should be offered to Ecuador and Hague should ‘fall on his sword’ as it is simply one gaff too many by a man who has proven himself to be gaff-prone. It is such a shame, as prior to this gaff, the rights wrongs of the Assange affair was 100% on the UK’s government’s side and they had followed the law right down the line and had done nothing to reproach itself for. But now, we are the villain of the piece, by threatening another country’s diplomatic mission. I have a feeling it will take a very long time for this particular screw up to fade away.
As for Assange – I suspect he will be spending many more weeks, months and maybe years stuck in a little room in the heart of London. I suppose you could argue that if he had gone to Sweden and had been found guilty of the charges laid against him, then he might have spent a year or two in a Swedish jail, which, given Sweden’s modern, humanistic approach to jails, might have been more pleasant than spending a year or two in the Ecuadorian embassy.
So maybe, after all he will get his just rewards.
Butt…Butt…Butt…I don’t give a Hoot!…