Monthly Archives: March 2010

Rudd govt on censorship: we agree with China, not child abuse survivors

The People’s Republic of China and the People’s Republic of Conroy both hate Google so very much!

Stupid aggregator of information we’d like to control.

Google make Senator Conroy VERY ANGRY!

In addition to his fantastically childish swipes at Google, I did like Conroy’s disingenuous defence of the filter on the grounds that what it will ban “includes” bad material. He is obviously aware that the objection is on the grounds that the trials demonstrate that what is blocked is NOT LIMITED TO bad material, and we don’t trust the government to properly distinguish between the two – but you wouldn’t know it to listen to him.

Elsewhere, actual survivors of child abuse campaign against such a filter on the grounds that in the real world it will put more children at risk:

Christian Bahls, a spokesperson for the group, says, “Blocking just hides the problem and actually lowers the police’s incentive to become active. Also, going after the servers means a small chance of catching the people that put it there in the first place. Images of child abuse are outlawed all over the world. There is a global consensus that this imagery is illegal and should not be distributed (see the 193 Interpol members or the 117 signatories to the ‘Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography’).”

MOGiS e.V. was formed in Germany in 2009 in order to fight censorship proposals there, and now they are extending their work across the EU, along with other anti-censorship groups, to call for meaningful solutions to the abuse of children and to fight against unworkable, dangerous knee-jerk censorship proposals. Their slogan is “Remove, don’t block! — Act, and don’t look away!”

Wonder how Conroy will attack the child abuse victims when he hears of it.

China “angry” at being called on dodginess of secret trial

How “irresponsible” of Australia’s government to publicly express concern about Stern Hu’s secret trial and ridiculously harsh punishment. Said Mr Rudd:

“The trial on the second charge was held in secret with no media and no Australian officials present for it.

“This has left, therefore, serious unanswered questions about this conviction. And holding this part of the trial in secret, China, I believe, has missed an opportunity to demonstrate to the world at large transparency that would be consistent with its emerging global role.”

Understandably, Chinese officials were outraged at having people keep going on about the fact that they regularly cloak their courts in secrecy – that defeats the whole point! Angrily snarled foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang, completely ignoring the specific criticism that had been made:

“We express serious concern about the Australian statements on the Rio Tinto case,” Mr Qin said. “The Rio case is a criminal case and the Chinese side has already given its verdict. Australia should respect this outcome and stop making irresponsible comments.”

I cite the precedent of So vs There.

Note the use of the words “the Chinese side” rather than “the independent court”.

Seriously, China – I know we can’t do anything about it but watch, but outside your magic external-world-excluding censorship zone, much of the rest of the planet is well aware of what secret trials mean. We’re well aware of what happens when the “law” is just a cover for the powerful punishing their opponents – where the difference between the person in jail and the person in the Politburo is not whether they’re corrupt or not, but whether they fell out of favour or not. You wanted to scare the hell out of foreign businessmen to ensure their compliance when in your country? Well, mission accomplished – although, unlike your people, they don’t actually have to be in your country. And if you want to demonstrate that you are happy to exert extreme power against anyone within your reach who pisses you off, then fear not, you did, message received – but you can’t simultaneously expect the rest of the world to help you whitewash it as “justice”.

Singaporean dynasty not corrupt at all

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his father – former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew – and intervening Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, have successfully obtained a defamation settlement of more than $US100,000 out of the New York Times:

Listing the Lees as an Asian political dynasty in a Feb. 15 article, “may have been understood by readers to infer that the younger Mr. Lee did not achieve his position through merit,” the Times said in an apology published Wednesday. “We wish to state clearly that this inference was not intended.”

How irresponsible of the Grey Lady to criticise the political system the Lees established that has given their party complete control over the country for 64 years, that has given Singapore one of the highest execution rates in the world, that applies ludicrously harsh penalties to minor offending, that pays the man in charge many times more than the US President, that implements strong deterrents against free speech that see opposition leaders and foreign journalists alike paying huge sums to the Lees for having the temerity to criticise them

Singaporean police help a local man enjoy his civil liberties.

The Lees deserve respect, not condemnation for nepotism or authoritarianism or corruption or any of the other things that people who promptly get sued might say about them.

Redirecting anger on housing #2 – it’s got nothing to do with all the investment properties the older generation’s been buying up

The rightwingers’ efforts to redirect anger on housing unaffordability away from the real cause – their precious investment properties – and onto immigrants instead are getting more vigorous, with the realisation that it’s a handy angle on which to attack Kevin Rudd.

Here’s another group whose support automatically means something’s a bad idea: the real estate industry. (I can’t believe I left them out of my earlier list.) If the land rats oppose a policy, that’s a powerful point in its favour.

If they can convince increasingly desperate younger Australians to forget that the jump in housing unaffordability immediately followed the GST, the “first-home buyers'” (really, the first-home sellers'”) grant and – most critically – Howard’s massive cut in CGT on investment properties, and instead to blame it on filthy foreigners, then suddenly the ALP’s having relaxed foreign ownership rules can be portrayed as having caused the whole thing! (Provided everybody’s got really short memories.)

The rich Australians whose interests the rightwingers represent get a handy scapegoat for the way their generation is fleecing the next – and the anger of the young is usefully redirected against the opponents of the political party whose policies were the biggest causes of the current mess.

And the divide grows deeper.

Modern US helps China feel good about being a brutal police state

The “home of the free” is apparently no longer so “free” that one of the world’s most human rights abusing, brutal authoritarian dictatorships can’t produce an only slightly twisted report highlighting the unfortunate state of human rights in the United States.

We barely had to lie at all.

Thanks, Republicans (and, now, Democrats) – in addition to reducing the quality of life of your own people, your continuing heavy-handed response to September 11 and your lack of concern for your poor and disenfranchised helps the regime in China legitimise itself to its oppressed citizens. Well done.

(Via Darryl Mason.)

Shh! Don’t tell them how crappy it is!

The commercial media are gleefully provoking a bit of Melbourne-Sydney rivalry in a spat over who will host the Australian Grand Prix. (It’s true, Sydneysiders are “the nation’s blowhards”.)

The important thing is that our northern cousins don’t realise how much having a Grand Prix sucks until after they’ve taken it. Good work, Melbourne, feigning outrage. Keeping a straight face, and pretending it’s not a total waste of public money and space most of us would be glad to be rid of. Sydney will only fight us for something if they think we want it. So… oh no! Please don’t take our Grand Prix! It’s ours because we are so awesome!

One of the best and most worthwhile things our state government has ever squandered sensibly spent vast sums of public money on! We’d be completely shattered if Sydney took it! (snigger)

Heh, heh, heh. Shhhh!

Kitteh chaser

After a day of political blogs (and one about free fruit), it seems fair to offer a kitteh chaser to cheer you up. (And I promised.) So here are Polly and Max enjoying our new couches:

I believe they both approve.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t much of an “embrace”

Although they reported this week that “Tony Abbott embraces gays“, fear not, fundamentalists and other social conservatives. The “in principle” support for anti-discrimination legislation addressing sexuality* that he expressed yesterday to a gay radio station will be incredibly easy to wriggle out of (that’s what those cagey two words are for), and he continues to support – and insist on – discrimination against gay people in the law. He repeated the assertion-as-argument that “marriage is, dare I say it, between one man and one woman” without being in any way concerned that he doesn’t have a single argument as to why that must be. He “completely agreed” that gay couples are “perfectly capable” of doing the right thing by a child, but of course didn’t in any way commit to amending the parts of the law that discriminate against gay parents such as in the area of adoption for, he apparently concedes, no good reason.

When he met with teh gays, Tony made sure he was wearing much more than budgie smugglers. (Image edited for the benefit of readers who may be eating.)

So, fear not, he’s just trying to carve off a few ALP votes from easily-hoodwinked gay people who aren’t paying attention, for the conservative cause. It doesn’t mean anything. If it was an “embrace”, it was at arms’ length, awkward and uncomfortable, and he wiped his hands on an aide afterwards.

*Frankly, it seems to me, discrimination against gay and lesbian people already runs afoul of the existing Sex Discrimination Act – specifically section 5:

(1) For the purposes of this Act, a person (in this subsection referred to as the discriminator ) discriminates against another person (in this subsection referred to as the aggrieved person ) on the ground of the sex of the aggrieved person if, by reason of:
(a) the sex of the aggrieved person…
the discriminator treats the aggrieved person less favourably than, in circumstances that are the same or are not materially different, the discriminator treats or would treat a person of the opposite sex.

Which is, of course, precisely what happens every time a woman is prevented by the law from marrying her female partner on the grounds that she’s a woman.

ELSEWHERE: Brian Greig isn’t impressed by either major party.

Well, there’s no particular reason all that fruit should fall and rot on the footpath…

(Fruit) Tree-hugging hippies are working on a map of fruit trees around the city in public spaces that produce food that is, by virtue of overhanging public spaces, public property.*

They argue:

Fruit lying outside the boundary of private property for instance on a branch hanging over a fence is considered to be public property and therefore anyone can legally take the fruit. Please don’t take any fruit that is over someone’s fence even if it is in close reach as this is technically stealing. It always pays to just ask the owner, usually they won’t mind no one is really going to eat a whole tree of figs or loquats. Some people may be sensitive about having the fruit from their tree taken even if it is hanging into public space; therefore even though you are within your rights to take the fruit, common courtesy should be employed. eg. Please don’t make some old… guy angry by taking fruit when he doesn’t want you to.

The google map is here, and, if your area isn’t particularly well annotated at this time, it seems like it would be quite fun to go fruit-tree hunting and see what you can find to add to it.

*I haven’t looked into this in detail, but that doesn’t seem an unreasonable interpretation.

(Via Keri.)

You can read the ACTA draft now: it’s hideous

Funny, I thought conservatives had a problem with Australia ceding its sovereignty to other countries. So why no complaints about a treaty being negotiated in secret to cede our sovereignty to other countries’ corporations? You know Obama supports it, right? Where are your cries about oppressive World Government now?

All your governments are belong to us.

The draft agreement – the new copyright world to which the ALP is about to sign us up – is here. See if you can find the words “public domain” or “public interest” or even simply “public” in there. This is what happens when a corporate state lobbies on behalf of its real power-brokers, and the rest of the governments of the world are too weak – or simply don’t care enough – to stand up to them.

ELSEWHERE: You can see why the music studios need this sort of heavy-handed legislation to save their businesses: they’re morons. Here’s Sony, accusing Beyonce of piracy for putting her own videos on YouTube. Brilliant.