A discussion of contemporary issues in media ethics, with olives and a twist. Made with only the freshest ingredients, shaken, stirred and poured over ice. I should also mention that I do like the odd, occasional martini. Bombay Sapphire gin and Lillet, dry and plenty of salty olives. Welcome to this cocktail of journalism and alcohol. A fine combination!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Peter McGregor - free at last

this just in from Peter McGregor,
the charges have been dropped, about time.

Hi all,
Just letting you know what has happened with my court
Senior Constable Stuart Cosgrove wrote to me: Frid 23
> > Mr. McGREGOR, I wish to advise you that the charge
Enter Inclosed lands not prescribed premises without
lawful excuse brought against you in relation to an
incident that occurred at the University of NSW on 5th
July 2007 and is which is scheduled for hearing at
Waverley Local Court 6th Dec 2007, is to be withdrawn
as per request by the University of NSW.
Regards, Stuart Cosgrove, Senior Constable, Maroubra
Police Station
When I then spoke to Constable Cosgrove, he said that
UNSW had only contacted the police about dropping the
charges in the last week or two. (The ‘details on the
offence/s’ are:
Unlawful entry on inclosed land….
“did without lawful excuse enter into the inclosed
lands of UNSW situate at Anzac Parade Kingsford
without the consent of Matthew JOSS (UNSW Head of
Security) and Dr Andrew LYNCH (Event Co-Coordinator)
the person apparently in charge of the said inclosed

Many of you will remember the way George Williams and
UNSW previously refused to contact the police to
request the charges be withdrawn.(See below - (1))
Hear is what they are saying now:
”14 Nov 2007 Mr Stephen Langford,25 Comber
Dear Stephen,
Thanks you for your card about the charges against
Peter McGregor. I'm not sure where you have got your
information from, but we have not actually laid any
charges against Peter. Those charges were laid by the
police in regard to events that occurred outside of
our conference. In fact, we have contacted the police
now on a number of occasions indicating our own desire
that the charges not proceed. However, the police have
made it clear that it is their decision as to whether
to proceed because the charges have been laid by them
and not us.
I would not like to see the charges proceed, & if you
support that aim the approprite people to write to are
the authorities.
Yours sincerely, George Williams "
Do any of you have any ideas above why the police have
belatedly dropped the charges, and/or what the
machinations have been at UNSW? For instance, Tharunka
interviewed me & George Williams, but the student
paper hasn’t even mentioned the court case…
It seems that we may have struck a blow for free
speech, and exposed George Williams & the Gilbert &
Sullivan Law School in the process.
So many thanks for your support, you don’t need to
come to Waverly Court on Thurs 6th Dec., and I will
keep you posted.

Love & rage, Peter
(1) Victoria Finlay [mailto:V.Finlay@unsw.edu.au]
_Sent: Thursday, 23 August 2007 9:53 AM_To: Lo
Schiavo, Fabian_Subject: regarding Peter Macgregor

_Dear Mr LoSchiavo, __Further to my recent email
response to you on behallf of the Vice-Chancellor
regarding the arrest of Mr Peter McGregor, I would
like to add the following comments. __Mr McGregor made
a protest against the Attorney-General in the morning
session of the ‘Symposium on Law & Liberty in the War
on Terror’ on 5 July 2007. Mr McGregor was removed
from the venue by Police officers providing Mr
Ruddock’s security. They did not charge him in
relation to his protest and left the campus with the
Attorney-General. The police prosecution relates to
subsequent dealings with police and Mr McGregor
elsewhere on campus. _ _The Centre of Public Law made
the decision to deny Mr McGregor further access to the
event after he had been removed. This was after
attempting to negotiate terms on which Mr McGregor
could reasonably continue to attend the Symposium.
Essentially, Mr McGregor was not prepared to
guarantee that other speakers would not also be
disrupted. _ _The conception of the Symposium was…...

Yours sincerely, __Victoria Finlay_Executive Officer
to the Vice-Chancellor_

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Neglecting the blog

Dear reader, it's been a while; I'm sorry. Seriously, I have been way too busy to bother with a blog entry for quite some time.
Lots has happened, some of it quite central to my concerns about journalism and ethics. There's been some martinis drunk too. Last night for instance the old "one martini too far".
I suffered today, but feeling better now that I'm home.

The busy part of the year is over for me, now I just have to get started on the book manuscript "Journalism in the age of YouTube". Over the next few weeks I will not be so negligent. I will attend to the blog every day and post religiously (as only a level 7 aetheist can).

Meanwhile, it's spring here and the weather's improving. So much so that before too long I'll be jumping into the blue Pacific and shedding my winter fat (he said hopefully).

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

QUT saga, last laugh for John and Garry

Ethical Martini is back after a short break that included a fun and busy trip to the USA and Canada.
While I was away the QUT saga involving my friends Garry Maclennan and John Hookham came to an end. It seems that QUT was forced to back down on every claim against the pair. John sent this message through today, which sums it up.

Dear Friends,
The saga of "Laughing at the Disabled" has now come to close (at least as far as Gary and I are concerned). As you probably all recall, we brought an action against QUT in the Federal Court. The university settled this out of court. Under this settlement we were to be re-instated, our records restored and the misconduct findings declared null and void. We were also paid $100,000 each in damages. After we accepted this offer to settle, QUT signaled its interest in settling all matters with us and we agreed to continue our negotiations. While we were considering the final offer, Garry and I decided to visit QUT to collect some personal belongings.

Unfortunately there were some ugly incidents when we attempted to re-enter the workplace. As a consequence, we decided it would not be in our best interests to return to work at QUT under any circumstances. We accepted the QUT offer which included our resignations but because of the confidentiality provisions, I am unable to discuss the terms of that settlement.

But, I have attached herewith a photograph of Gary and I with our lawyer, Stephen Kerin leaving the Federal Court building after finalising the settlement. This picture captures our joy on the brink of settlement.

I would like to conclude by once again thanking all of you for your support throughout this very difficult and very important dispute. I hope our actions have done much to further the cause of freedom of speech and academic freedom in Australia.


John Hookham

Friday, 26 October 2007

Civil rights protest in New Zealand - stop the terror laws

march this Saturday October 27th at 12 noon
from Aotea Square to Mount Eden Prison
For more information Civil Rights Defence Organisation

Socialist Worker (National Exec) statement on Crackdown

If we don’t fight to defend the “Urewera Seventeen” - the activists currently imprisoned without bail or trial - then it could be us next. That’s the simple fact that all of us who believe in social justice have to learn.

Everyone who knows someone who was arrested knows full well that these people are not terrorists. There is no way that these people were planning to kill, maim or destroy in pursuit of their political activism. So why did the cops feel the need to terrorise schoolkids, smash windows and confiscate property on Monday 15th?
It’s surely not a coincidence that that was the week that beefed-up “anti-terror” legislation was up before parliament. And the cops - and the SIS who stand behind them - were probably feeling a bit embarrassed that they hadn’t gotten to use the old legislation yet. So they wanted to give it a go.
But why do we have the “Terrorism Suppression Act 2002” in the first place? Simply put - because the Americans told us we had to.
Using the shock of the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington, the United States pushed the demand for “anti-terror” laws through a compliant UN in 2002. New Zealand was “obliged” to adopt these laws, or get in the bad books of the United States.
No New Zealander is on the UN’s list of terrorists or terrorist groups. But Maori activists said at the time that it was only a matter of time before these were used against Maori activists. Looks like they were right.

State violence

Some commentators - even some of those “on the Left” - are wagging their fingers at the people who are currently stewing in jail without trial or bail, saying they should have known better than to even look like they were preparing to challenge the State.
But this is a colonial nation. The New Zealand state was founded on acts of violence and dispossession of the tangata whenua. No-one disputes that. And no-one should be surprised that some Maori are not prepared to accept the status of a defeated people. Challenging the New Zealand state is their political birthright - not an act of “terrorism”.
An attitude that says that challenging the authority of the state should be enough to get you put in “Guantanamo of the South Pacific” isn’t about fighting terrorism. It’s about defining within what limits dissent and debate is “acceptable” - and enforcing those limits with ninja police breaking and entering.
There is no good reason for the “anti-terror” laws. They should be called the Terror Laws - their purpose is to sow terror in the hearts of anyone who might think of challenging those in power over us. Ordinary workers who’ve been in union struggles know that the police and courts are not the friends of anyone who wants to rock the boat.
The Terror Laws must be abolished - before they are used against any of us who doesn’t shut up and do what they’re told. We need to build the biggest possible political movement against these anti-democratic laws - and the corporate politicians in Labour and National who support them.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Doing more with less

BBC announces plans for 1,800 job cuts | Top News | Reuters

The British Broacasting Corporation has just announced nearly 2000 job cuts as it moves into the digital age.
This is a great example of 'doing more with less'. They're going to commercialise and also cut back on news production at the same time as they want to expand their digital division.

Anyway, I'm out of town for a while, travelling in the US and Canada. I may not get a chance to post while I'm away.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Prominent Maori activist arrested in dawn raids

Area sealed off in anti-terror operation - New Zealand, world, sport, business & entertainment news on Stuff.co.nz

Prominent Maori activist, Tame Iti is one of dozens of activists arrested this morning in raids across several areas of New Zealand.

Mr Iti's home was raided at 4.00 am and he was taken into custody.

Police are saying the raids were to thwart an alleged terrorist plot involving Indigenous and peace activists who had been training with live ammunition at several remote properties across the North Island.

The home of environmental activist Frances Mountier was also raided in Christchurch, but as police did not have a warrant, they were refused entry.

Civil liberties groups have condemned the raids as 'draconian'.

There's no clear picture yet of why the mass arrests have taken place, but police are saying that charges may well be laid under anti-terrorism legislation.

This media release was issued around lunchtime today, by lawyer David Small.

Spycatcher Calls Police Raids Draconian
Monday, 15 October 2007, 2:43 pm
Press Release: David Small
15th October 2007

Spycatcher Calls Police Raids Draconian and Probably Illegal

The man who successfully sued police for illegally searching his home at the time of an APEC Conference in 1996 has labelled police raids of the homes of social activists this morning as draconian and probably illegal. Canterbury University academic and spokesperson for ARENA, David Small, said the police seem to have learnt nothing from Justice Young’s judgment condemning the police for failing to distinguish between political and criminal activity.

Dr Small says that for search warrants to be legal, the police must have reasonable grounds to believe that they will find what they are searching for. These raids look much more like a fishing expedition.

Dr Small, who addressed a public meeting in Christchurch last Thursday on state security and surveillance, expressed particular concern about the use of the Terrorism Suppression Act in association with the raids.

“The public has been softened up with the threat of Islamic terrorism to give massive increases in the powers and resources of intelligence and security agencies. But it is now clear that the focus of their attention is really on social activists in New Zealand,” said Dr Small

This is exactly what happened in 1996 when opponents of the SIS Amendment Act were called paranoid for saying it would be used against local groups, and less than two weeks later, the SIS were caught breaking into an activist’s home.

“Democratic societies need free and open debate. And groups engaging in this kind of critical activity need the law to protect their rights to do so. Today’s raids have the opposite effect and are clearly designed to intimidate and silence these voices of dissent,” said Dr Small


Monday, 8 October 2007

Free speech supports lying politicians

This is basically why bourgeois law is an ass. The first amendment to the US Constitution, which is widely heralded as the best protection of free speech anywhere on the planet is now officially a protection for politicians who lie during election campaigns.

I'm not sure this is exactly what the founding fathers had in mind, but it shows you just how far things are degenerating and at what speed.
The bourgoisie - the ruling class in a capitalist system - no longer has any use for free speech, it is in fact counter to their class interests - staying in control of the economy and politics.

Now pro-capital politicians can further cement their grip on power by blatantly lying during election campaigns, safe in the knowledge that they are merely acting in the American tradition of free speech. Bastards.

This piece from Editor & Publisher give chapter and verse on the recent High Court decision.

David McSwane wins right to stay in editor's job

The editor of a student paper has been allowed to keep his job after the furore surrounding a headline on an editorial he wrote.
David McSwane the editor of the Colorado State University paper, The Daily Collegian, was censured by the Board of Student Communications, but was not sacked, as had been expected.
McSwane wrote an editorial in response to the tasering of a student at a Florida university. He headlined the piece "Taser this: FUCK Bush".
Many publications commenting and reporting this story have been coy about using the "expletive", but fuck it: it's a perfectly servicable word.
Congratulations David on keeping your job.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Free Burma

Take part in this action for a Free Burma!

1. Publish a posting (Bulletin Board, Forum, Blog, Social Network, Static Website…) on the 4th of October with the header: “Free Burma!”

2. Tag it if you can with “Free Burma”

3. Choose a graphic from our Graphics page and

4. Link to www.free-burma.org there your readers will find some informations about the campaign and Burma and a participant list which you can join. Even if you're a webmaster of a bulletin board or social network you will find a special Group List to join.

5. Feel free to write any additional text you want

If you have no website or blog we need you even more: Please help us to spread the word across the internet, tell your neighbours, friends or kids and first of all: Sign our list of participants!


Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Fuck Bush - not in this town!

Student paper headline ignites US free speech row | Press&publishing | MediaGuardian.co.uk

The editor of a student newspaper at Colorado State University is facing disciplinary charges at his university for publishing an edition of the Rocky Mountain Collegian with a front page banner headline that read: "Fuck Bush".

The case has become a test of the First Amendment right to free speech and the incident caused advertisers to pull material (and money from the paper). Here's a piece of the action from Editor & Publisher:

Student officials and faculty adviser Jeff Browne told the CSU board that since the editorial ran, 18 advertisers have either called to pull their advertising or threatened to end their advertising in the newspaper, which could result in some $50,000 in potential lost revenue. Officials have said that staff would have to take an across-the-board 10 percent pay cut to make up for the losses, which cut into the $950,000 advertising budget. Browne said some staff members, including a photographer, have quit.

The newspaper maintains an office on school grounds but is self-funded through advertising.

In a written statement submitted to the board, McSwane said: "We've lost advertising dollars. While this is a blow to our organization, I would also encourage the Board to remember that advertising dollars, though crucial, should not control editorial content."

School policies governing student media state that students cannot publish obscene materials but that "indecent or vulgar language is not obscene." Landers noted that the same policy prohibits the use of obscene and vulgar language in editorials.

Personally, I think 20-year-old David McSwane is a hero. But in the blogosphere, he has friends, supporters, and enemies; in particular college Republicans.

I think it's amusing that so many Republican bloggers can get upset about one little word - a "profanity" to use their colloquial term for the word FUCK, but they can still share the love with that asshole of a president and his filthy rich chums from the Blackwater security company who are paid a billion dollars a year to terrorise and murder Iraqis.

However, it's not the first time that David McSwane's journalistic antics have got him into trouble, or rather, into the national headlines.

He scammed a great story for his high school newspaper in 2005 that led to several US army recruiters being stood down in after a sting operation involving McSwane's younger brother, a video camcorder and drug paraphenalia.

Here's more on that story from Editor & Publisher
Teen Journo Draws Fire After Army Sting

By Graham Webster

Published: July 25, 2005 4:23 PM ET
NEW YORK David McSwane had seen the military recruiters around town. He had seen them at the high school. And he knew that with recruitment rates down due to the Iraq war, they were working hard to attract new cadets. And it gave him an idea.

"I wanted to see how far they'd go to get another soldier," says McSwane, a reporter for the Westwind at Arvada West High School in Arvada, Colo. So he set up a sting investigation, posing as a high school dropout with a marijuana habit and went down to his local Colorado Army recruitment station to enlist.

McSwane, 17, knew he would have to document his conversations with the recruiters, so he taped the telephone conversations, enlisted his sister to pose as a proud sibling so she could photograph parts of the process, and asked a friend to operate a video camera across from a local head shop.

But how did McSwane get an recruiter to visit a head shop with him? Simple. The honor student, pretending to have a ganja habit he couldn't kick, went there to score a detoxifying kit the Army office claimed had helped two previous recruits pass drug tests, according to a taped phone conversation broadcast on local TV. McSwane told his recruiter he didn't know what the detox formula looked like, so the man agreed to go to the store with him.
I like this guy's style and nerve. If I had a student like David McSwayne in my journalism class, he'd have my support. So David, if you get kicked out of college, come down to Auckland, I'll find room for you here.'

Just to finish, the profanity in question is defined thus in the online dictionary, dictionary.com

[fuhk] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation Vulgar.
–verb (used with object)
1.to have sexual intercourse with.
2.Slang. to treat unfairly or harshly.
–verb (used without object)
3.to have sexual intercourse.
4.Slang. to meddle (usually fol. by around or with).
5.Slang. (used to express anger, disgust, peremptory rejection, etc., often fol. by a pronoun, as you or it.)
6.an act of sexual intercourse.
7.a partner in sexual intercourse.
8.Slang. a person, esp. one who is annoying or contemptible.
9.the fuck, Slang. (used as an intensifier, esp. with WH-questions, to express annoyance, impatience, etc.)
10.fuck around, Slang.
a.to behave in a frivolous or meddlesome way.
b.to engage in promiscuous sex.
11.fuck off, Slang.
a.to shirk one's duty; malinger.
b.go away: used as an exclamation of impatience.
c.to waste time.
12.fuck up, Slang.
a.to bungle or botch; ruin.
b.to act stupidly or carelessly; cause trouble; mess up.
13.give a fuck, Slang. to care; be concerned.

[Origin: 1495–1505; akin to MD fokken to thrust, copulate with, Sw dial. focka to copulate with, strike, push, fock penis]

fucky, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source - Share This
fuck (fŭk) Pronunciation Key
v. fucked, fuck·ing, fucks

v. tr.
  1. To have sexual intercourse with.
  2. To take advantage of, betray, or cheat; victimize.
  3. Used in the imperative as a signal of angry dismissal.

v. intr.
  1. To engage in sexual intercourse.
  2. To act wastefully or foolishly.
  3. To interfere; meddle. Often used with with.

  1. An act of sexual intercourse.
  2. A partner in sexual intercourse.
  3. A despised person.
  4. Used as an intensive: What the fuck did you do that for?

interj. Used to express extreme displeasure.

Phrasal Verb(s):
fuck off
  1. Used in the imperative as a signal of angry dismissal.
  2. To spend time idly.
  3. To masturbate.
fuck over
To treat unfairly; take advantage of.
fuck up
  1. To make a mistake; bungle something.
  2. To act carelessly, foolishly, or incorrectly.
  3. To cause to be intoxicated.

[Middle English, attested in pseudo-Latin fuccant, (they) fuck, deciphered from gxddbov.]

Word History: The obscenity fuck is a very old word and has been considered shocking from the first, though it is seen in print much more often now than in the past. Its first known occurrence, in code because of its unacceptability, is in a poem composed in a mixture of Latin and English sometime before 1500. The poem, which satirizes the Carmelite friars of Cambridge, England, takes its title, "Flen flyys," from the first words of its opening line, "Flen, flyys, and freris," that is, "fleas, flies, and friars." The line that contains fuck reads "Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk." The Latin words "Non sunt in coeli, quia," mean "they [the friars] are not in heaven, since." The code "gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk" is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now: i was then used for both i and j; v was used for both u and v; and vv was used for w. This yields "fvccant [a fake Latin form] vvivys of heli." The whole thus reads in translation: "They are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge]."

(Download Now or Buy the Book)
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Online Etymology Dictionary - Cite This Source - Share This
a difficult word to trace, in part because it was taboo to the editors of the original OED when the "F" volume was compiled, 1893-97. Written form only attested from early 16c. OED 2nd edition cites 1503, in the form fukkit; earliest appearance of current spelling is 1535 -- "Bischops ... may fuck thair fill and be vnmaryit" [Sir David Lyndesay, "Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits"], but presumably it is a much more ancient word than that, simply one that wasn't likely to be written in the kind of texts that have survived from O.E. and M.E. Buck cites proper name John le Fucker from 1278. The word apparently is hinted at in a scurrilous 15c. poem, titled "Flen flyys," written in bastard L. and M.E. The relevant line reads:
Non sunt in celi
quia fuccant uuiuys of heli
"They [the monks] are not in heaven because they fuck the wives of Ely." Fuccant is pseudo-L., and in the original it is written in cipher. The earliest examples of the word otherwise are from Scottish, which suggests a Scandinavian origin, perhaps from a word akin to Norw. dial. fukka "copulate," or Swedish dial. focka "copulate, strike, push," and fock "penis." Another theory traces it to M.E. fkye, fike "move restlessly, fidget," which also meant "dally, flirt," and probably is from a general North Sea Gmc. word, cf. M.Du. fokken, Ger. ficken "fuck," earlier "make quick movements to and fro, flick," still earlier "itch, scratch;" the vulgar sense attested from 16c. This would parallel in sense the usual M.E. slang term for "have sexual intercourse," swive, from O.E. swifan "to move lightly over, sweep" (see swivel). Chronology and phonology rule out Shipley's attempt to derive it from M.E. firk "to press hard, beat." As a noun, it dates from 1680. French foutre and Italian fottere look like the Eng. word but are unrelated, derived rather from L. futuere, which is perhaps from PIE base *bhau(t)- "knock, strike off," extended via a figurative use "from the sexual application of violent action" [Shipley; cf. the sexual slang use of bang, etc.]. Popular and Internet derivations from acronyms (and the "pluck yew" fable) are merely ingenious trifling. The O.E. word was hæman, from ham "dwelling, home," with a sense of "take home, co-habit." Fuck was outlawed in print in England (by the Obscene Publications Act, 1857) and the U.S. (by the Comstock Act, 1873). The word may have been shunned in print, but it continued in conversation, especially among soldiers during WWI.
"It became so common that an effective way for the soldier to express this emotion was to omit this word. Thus if a sergeant sai

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper
WordNet - Cite This Source - Share This

1. slang for sexual intercourse

1. have sexual intercourse with; "This student sleeps with everyone in her dorm"; "Adam knew Eve"; "Were you ever intimate with this man?" [syn: sleep together]

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Free Burma! - International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October 2007

Free Burma! - International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October 2007

This is a useful way to make blogging worth something.

Free Burma!

You can also get up-to-date information from Burma at this blogspot spot

Chaser lot may be let off for the APEC stunt - National - smh.com.au

It seems the NSW police may have belatedly received some drugs to help with their apparent lack of humour.
This report, Chaser lot may be let off for the APEC stunt , from the Sydney Morning Herald speculates that the Chaser team may well not be prosecuted for their hilarious breach the rabble-proof fence during last month's APEC bonanza in Sydney.

11 members of the Chaser team were arrested on various charges after their fake motorcade managed to breach the wall of security around the APEC leaders.

At the time the cops couldn't see the funny side, but now it seems they've been given a dose of something and had their humour restored.

Justice really.

You can see the full Chaser story here
When you see this you'll soon realise why the cops are not so keen on a prosectution. They look like real gooses here. The police case will collapse - and hopefully some asses will get spanked.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

NMHRC to investigate QUT-Noonan claims

Well, interesting.
In my previous post on the QUT shenanigans, there's mention of the National Health and Medical Research Council - the peak body for research ethics in Australia, possibly investigating claims that QUT PhD student Michael Noonan may have breached protocols in relation to his research project "Laughing at the Disabled".

I emailed the acting Director of Progam Assurance, Dr Gordon McGurk (see below)

Dear Gordon, I am writing as a concerned academic.
I would like to know if the NHMRC is investigating claims of unethical research practices made against QUT PhdD student Michael Noonan in relation to his thesis "Laughing at the disabled".
I understand that Mr Noonan may well have violated well-established ethical guidelines for dealing with Indigenous people in some aspects of the video work he is compiling towards his thesis. There is an allegation against him that he has possibly misrepresented May Lulu Dunne and obtained a consent form/release form from her under false pretenses, or worse.
Drs Hookham and MacLennan are facing serious misconduct charges for raising some of these issues and from my understanding of their case, they have been badly treated by QUT for blowing the whistle on what they saw as poor supervision of Mr Noonan's thesis and the ethical issues surrounding his work with both disabled persons and Indigenous Australians.
As a supervisor of postgraduate students I am familiar with ethics considerations in relation to thesis work and other research projects in Australia and elsewhere. I also know that in most cases they are stringently enforced. I can only wonder at what the breakdown was at QUT in relation to Mr Noonan's thesis.
Are you in touch with QUT over this matter and do you intend to conduct any inquiries of your own, or to cause the NHMRC to investigate this matter further?

About an hour later I received a response:
Dear Martin

Following yesterday's revelations regarding the alleged lack of consent or ethical approval before filming Ms Dunne, I am making this issue a matter of urgency. I have put together a brief for the Chief Executive to alert him and the executive to what may have happened.

The NHMRC had planned to investigate other alleged breaches following the conclusion of the legal action between QUT and Drs Hookham and MacLennan. However, this most recent information may precipitate some action sooner than planned.

Yours sincerely

Gordon McGurk

QUT sacks academics - update

I have just received this message from John Hookham regarding the ongoing disciplinary action against him and Garry MacLennan at QUT in Brisbane. You can find my previous posts on this case here.

Dear Colleagues,

Some months ago, I sent out a letter informing you about a PhD project entitled Laughing at the Disabled: Creating Comedy that Confronts and Offends. This was a project being carried out by Michael Noonan who is a PhD student at our university, Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

My colleague, Dr Gary MacLennan and I strongly objected to this project on the grounds that it set out to demean people with cognitive disabilities. We felt that the central thrust of the project was to mock and ridicule people with intellectual impairment. Furthermore, we questioned the fact that the university had given this project ethical clearance. We pointed out that the correct protocols for Ethical Research involving Humans had not been properly followed. We brought this to the attention of the university, (QUT) by writing to the Dean and by submitting a Formal Complaint to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof Arun Sharma.

All our objections were ignored. As a consequence we wrote an article in the Higher Education Supplement of the national newspaper, The Australian. In the article we were critical of the project, the supervisory team and the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) that approved the project.

As a result of writing this article, Dr MacLennan and I were charged by the university for Misconduct and had to face a Misconduct Investigation Committee. The Chair of this committee and the two academics on the committee were chosen by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Peter Coaldrake. We had no say whatsoever about who should be on the committee.

In my opinion, the Hearing that we faced was nothing other than a kangaroo court or Star Chamber. It seemed clear to us, from the outset, that we would be found guilty and that the verdict was pre-determined. During the process, we were not allowed to screen the film to show what we had objected to and the committee refused to view the material. This despite that fact that it was our response to the material that had prompted us to write the article. The committee also refused to examine the ethical clearance process.

In my opinion, during the Hearing, witnesses for my defense were threatened and intimidated. At the end of the Hearing, my representative, Dr Lisa Bridle, was frightened that the university might take some action against her for supporting me and immediately burst into tears.

The next day Dr MacLennan collapsed and had a nervous breakdown. He was treated by a medical physician.

The committee subsequently found us guilty of all the charges brought against us. There is no appeal process and the Vice-Chancellor decides on the penalty. There are no checks and balances in the system to limit his power. Prof Coaldrake decided to suspend us without pay for six months. He also informed us that he would be bringing a second series of charges against us.

Fortunately we were able to get legal counsel and we are currently in the process of contesting the manner in which our investigation was conducted. But we still have further charges hanging over our heads.

In the Hearing one of the charges against us was that we had misrepresented Michael Noonan's work. There was a scene in the film involving an interaction between one of the disabled men (James who is autistic) and an Aboriginal woman. This took place in a country barroom. James was told by Noonan to enter the bar and ask if there were any young women in the town as he was looking for a girlfriend. In the scene we saw, the Aboriginal woman was inebriated and embraced James.

Noonan claimed that we misrepresented him as he never intended to screen that scene in public again. But now he has put this scene up on the web and said he is very proud of it. An Aboriginal friend of ours has gone to Boulia and made contact with May, the woman in the scene. Her name is May Lulu Dunne and she is a tribal woman from the Northern territory. She is horrified and feels shame that such images of her have been put up on the web. She emphatically denies giving permission for the filmmaking and her partner supports her version of the affair. It must be said however that Noonan claims to have a release form though no one has sighted it.

QUT has a policy of reconciliation with indigenous Australians. It has also signed onto the ethical protocols for research involving indigenous Australians.

Ted Watson who is acting for May Dunne has made an official complaint to the NHMRC, which is the body charged with seeing that university research involving humans is ethical.

I and he are convinced that QUT has acted in violation of the protocols for research involving indigenous Australians. These are as follows

National Statement for Research Involving Humans

Research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Six core values

· Reciprocity

· Respect

· Equality

· Responsibility

· Survival and Protection

· Spirit and integrity

The Clauses

The researcher should ensure that the research methods are respectful.

There should be evidence of support for the research project from relevant Aboriginal and Torrres Strait Islander communities and the research methodology should engage with their social and cultural practices.

The researcher should seek to identify any potential negative consequences of the proposed research, to design process to monitor them and to advise steps for minimizing them.

The research methods and processes should provide opportunities to develop trust and a sense of equal research partnerships.

The benefits… should include… research outcomes that advance the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The described benefits from research should have been discussed with and agreed to by the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander research stakeholders.

The Statement makes it quite clear that researchers need to obtain permission from not only the participants but also the Aboriginal community. Aboriginal academics and elders have fought hard for these protocols to ensure that their people are not exploited. QUT is bound by these protocols but is clearly in violation of them here. Prof Rod Wissler has appeared on national television as a spokesman for QUT claiming that the scene with May is fine and does not breach research ethical protocols.

It is quite clear that Michael Noonan has ignored these research protocols. So not only are the disabled being laughed at in Michael Noonan's research, he has also included a comical portrayal of an Aboriginal woman, who has done nothing to merit such ridicule and mockery.

Once again I ask you as concerned academics or citizens to make clear that such practices violate our ethical code and are unacceptable. Those concerned should write to Gordon.McGurk@health.gov.au of the National Health & Medical Research Council and ask him to investigate this matter immediately.

Please also write your concerns to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough at Mal.Bough.MP@aph.gov.au and the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin at j.macklin.mp@aph.go.au

Thank you once again for your support.

John Hookham

This message was also sent from Ted Watson

Dear Friends,
My Name is Ted Watson. I am an Aboriginal man. I have been granted power of attorney to act on behalf of May Lulu Dunne who was filmed by Michael Noonan in the Australian Hotel in Boulia Easter 2006 as part of his PhD Project. The project was called Laughing at the Disabled: Creating Comedy that Confronts, Offends and Entertains.

In Easter 2006 Noonan took two intellectually impaired men to Boulia to find girls and to ask about the Min Min Lights. He sent them into the pub and there they met May Dunne. She is a tribal woman from the Northern Territory and is a decent caring grandmother of 52 years of age. She had too much to drink when Noonan filmed her but this is an exception for her. On Noonan's film she comes across as the stereotypical drunken indigenous woman that white people love to portray. In May's own words she tells us

"At no time was I asked permission to be filmed or sign any paper…I was hurt and shamed to see my actions shown on the internet in [the] Courier Mail newspaper website at our local library by Mr Ted Watson on Friday 14//07. I watched ABC and SBS hoping I would not be see[n] by everybody especially my people and family in a drunken way. I am upset now and want my pictures taken of the website…"

Noonan and QUT have broken all of the protocols for doing research involving indigenous Australians. We the Aboriginal people of Australia fought hard for these protocols. They are

National Statement for Research Involving Humans

Research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Six core values

· Reciprocity

· Respect

· Equality

· Responsibility

· Survival and Protection

· Spirit and integrity

Clauses in the Protocol
The researcher should ensure that the research methods are respectful.

There should be evidence of support for the research project from relevant Aboriginal and Torrres Strait Islander communities and the research methodology should engage with their social and cultural practices.

The researcher should seek to identify any potential negative consequences of the proposed research, to design process to monitor them and to advise steps for minimizing them.

The research methods and processes should provide opportunities to develop trust and a sense of equal research partnerships.

The benefits… should include… research outcomes that advance the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The described benefits from research should have been discussed with and agreed to by the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander research stakeholders.

I repeat that Michael Noonan has clearly broken all these protocols. Yet QUT set up an internal review following a complaint about his research and they found him not guilty. The academics who did this have betrayed my people and they have also shamed their own university.

May has also asked me to say that she thinks it is nasty to make fun of and rubbish people like Darren and James who do not understand what is going on. May herself is the guardian and carer of an intellectually disabled man. The Aboriginal people of Boulia were horrified when Noonan and Spectrum Organization put Daren and James into the rodeo ring and made them act being a bull and a matador so people would laugh at them. May and her family could not understand why people were being so cruel to James and Darren. But then we Aborigines have never understood why white Australians can be so cruel to other whites.

There is now an interview with me up on YouTube. The link below will get you there.

Please pass on the link to all interested parties especially indigenous groups all round the world.

We Aborigines are having a very hard time now, what with our rights being trampled on and our land being taken off us. We need help and support from everyone.

We need an apology from QUT to May Dunne, compensation for her suffering and the removal of Noonan's footage of her from the Courier Mail website.

Yours in the struggle

Edward James Watson

This is now an international issue that hopefully will seriously embarrass QUT and vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake. Here's an interview with UCLA Professor of Philosophy Calvin Normore. He describes the suspension of Garry and John as a serious threat to academic freedom.

Can citizen media be a business?

I'm really interested in this project being organised by Dan Gillmor and the Center for Citizen Media.

September 24th, 2007 by Dan Gillmor

Good news: We’re about to launch a first in a series of postings about citizen media as a business. Specifically, we’ll be exploring possible business models for citizen journalism and the processes surrounding the creation of a website.

The principal researcher and writer for this project is Ryan McGrady, a new media graduate student at Emerson College where he is studying knowledge, identity, and ideas in the information age. (See more about Ryan here.)

These postings will become elements of a comprehensive on-line guide. Needless to say, it’s an ambitious project.

Because of that, we’ll post these pieces with the initial understanding that they are works in progress—beta versions—of what will continue to evolve and improve. We hope you’ll join in a conversation about these topics, and help us make the guide better.

Which means we’d love to hear from all of you who read, write, publish, analyze, discuss, create, record, or otherwise produce or consume media. Your feedback, additions, corrections, and questions are welcome as invaluable perspectives on these broad, evolving areas. If you want to join in, please post a comment or send us a note via email or this form.

(Note: This project evolved from a collaboration with the Citizen Media Law Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, a project funded via the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge. Also supporting this work is a grant from the McClatchy Co.)

TV phone-in games rigged - thought so!

The British broadcasting regulator, the Orwellian-monikered Ofcom (Office of Communications), has fined a UK television network two million quid after it faked the results of phone-in competitions and fleeced viewers of over 20 million quid over four years.
More from the Telegraph

In a damning ruling Ofcom said that GMTV’s “disregard” for its viewers between August 2003 and February this year could not be described as “anything other than gross negligence”.
“Over a period of nearly four years, GMTV made profits running into millions of pounds from its competitions, but had no adequate oversight of this operation,” it said.

I'm not surprised, these marketing tricks are sure-fire money spinners. In this case the winners had been picked before the phone lines were closed and at 'premium' rates too.

Old hand embraces new forms of journalism

This piece from Martin Stabe's blog at the UK Press Gazette.
Veteran reporter Seymour Hersh says that online journalism is the future. This is good news after all the hyped doom and gloom of Andrew Keen's The cult of the amateur. Keen's thesis is that the Internet is killing our culture and our economics because it's too democratic and the wisdom of the mob is not wisdom at all. He makes a heartfelt plea for us to put our faith in the experts, including professional journalists. Keen argues that journalism is losing out to the cacophony of voices in the blogosphere.

It's nice to see someone of Hersh's stature actually making a cogent counter-argument

When Seymour Hersh was in London in July, his appearance at City University was, with the exception of the odd quote afterwards, entirely off the record.

But this week the investigative journalist has gone on the record in a rare interview with the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles.

The Q&A piece contains an interesting exchange revealing Hersh’s views on how the web is transforming journalism, and the effect of his stories on the The New Yorker’s traffic:

JJ: New York magazine has a profile this week of Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, and they call him “America’s Most Influential Journalist.” What have bloggers like Drudge done to journalism, and how do you think it compares to the muckrakers that you came of age with?

SH: There is an enormous change taking place in this country in journalism. And it is online. We are eventually — and I hate to tell this to The New York Times or the Washington Post — we are going to have online newspapers, and they are going to be spectacular. And they are really going to cut into daily journalism.

I’ve been working for The New Yorker recently since ’93. In the beginning, not that long ago, when I had a big story you made a good effort to get the Associated Press and UPI and The New York Times to write little stories about what you are writing about. Couldn’t care less now. It doesn’t matter, because I’ll write a story, and The New Yorker will get hundreds of thousands, if not many more, of hits in the next day. Once it’s online, we just get flooded.

So, we have a vibrant, new way of communicating in America. We haven’t come to terms with it. I don’t think much of a lot of the stuff that is out there. But there are a lot of people doing very, very good stuff.

Thanks to Mark Hamilton for pointing this out.

Read more about: onlinejournalism

NSw police learn APEC lessons well

NSW police have certainly learned a lot from their recent exposure to dangerous peaceniks during the APEC protests in Sydney.
This week they've put these lessons to good use in busting a workers' picket line at a factory in western Sydney.
According to media reports the riot police and plain clothes cops were involved in a brawl with workers picketing th epremises of McArthur Express Trucking at Seven Hills.

The company closed on Monday, going into recievership and owning workers money in back pay, lost wages and entitlements.
When angry workers picketed the site yesterday (Wednesday) they were attacked by the cops and a pregnant woman was pushed over.

If you ever had any doubt about the role of the police in a capitalist society, this is another example of the class nature of the system and its paid, uniformed enforcers.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

police lurking in chat rooms - no place to hide

This item from Radio New Zealand confirms that social networking sites are now being used in surveillance operations by police. No surprises really, such a move was inevitable, but it highlights that cultural resources that might be used by young people as a way of gaining some privacy from the prying eyes of adults are routinely hoovered up in a surveillance society.

Police to look for predators on internet chatrooms

Posted at 4:42pm on 25 Sep 2007

Police plan to search internet chatrooms and networking sites for predators or criminals.

Crime involving electronic evidence such as mobile phones, computers and CCTV cameras has increased tenfold in the past five years.

E-crime group manager Maarten Kleintjes says an electronic crime centre will enable officers to process evidence faster.

Mr Kleintjes says e-crime chiefly involves trading of illegal drugs, fraud or harrassment.

Within the next two years, officers will be treating the internet like a public space and looking for offenders in chatroomsm, he says.

Internet safety group Netsafe says not enough is being done to stop offenders and policing needs to show more initiative.

the source for this story was a news release issued a couple of hours earlier by New Zealand police public relations.

Police Electronic Crime Strategy released

2:29pm 25 September 2007

Police Commissioner Howard Broad released the New Zealand Police E-Crime Strategy to 2010, which outlines ways Police will address the use of technology by criminals and respond to new types of electronic crime (e-crime).

Presenting the strategy at the opening of the new Police e-crime laboratory in Wellington yesterday, the Commissioner said e-crime was of increasing concern worldwide.

"In New Zealand, e-crime includes traditional offending with an electronic component, such as fraud and paedophilia, and newer forms of offending such as attacks on computers, theft and software piracy."

Over the next three years initiatives will include more resources and tools for the Police e-crime response team and will see frontline Police staff with a range of tools to help them investigate and resolve more e-crime without specialist assistance.

Significant progress has already been made. Development of the Environment for Virtualised Evidence (EVE) has started. Project EVE will significantly increase the volume and range of items from which electronic evidence can be recovered, and moves the ability to interrogate evidence from forensic specialists to frontline investigators.

Mobile phone booths will enable frontline staff to obtain information directly from seized mobile phones without specialist intervention. The booths are expected to be in all Police Districts by the end of the year.

The Commissioner said NZ Police aimed to complement the efforts of other organisations involved in keeping New Zealand's electronic systems and their users safe and secure. "Police are just one interested party among Government, industry groups, and others playing a role in the security and safety of the electronic environment."

The Electronic Crime Strategy to 2010 may be downloaded from http://www.police.govt.nz/resources/2007/e-crime-strategy/

On the same day, this item from Reuters is circulating, I picked it up from The Sydney Morning Herald

Facebook predators are 'tip of the iceberg'

September 25, 2007 - 9:42AM

New York State Attorney-General Andrew Cuomo says his office has subpoenaed Facebook, accusing the social networking site of not keeping young users safe from sexual predators and not responding to user complaints.

In a letter accompanying a subpoena for documents, Mr Cuomo said a preliminary review revealed defects in Facebook's safety controls and in its response to complaints. He said the shortcomings contrasted with assurances made by the company.

Meanwhile, it seems that Facebook is also going to be snapped up by a media giant. It seems that Microsoft is interested in buying a $300 million stake in Facebook which would value the company at close to $10 billion.

I guess these guys don't really care what we do with our social networking, they realise that the law agencies will take care of any problems, and that they have a captive market of affluent teens to sell to.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Social networking brings trouble for those who look

Two stories that again raise issues about YouTube and other social networking sites.

A weatherman on a US TV network has been embarrassed by some of his colleagues uploading a video of him goofing off to YouTube. this from a Sydney Morning Herald version of the story:

WBKO-TV, a station based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, said on its website that it has reprimanded weather anchor Chris Allen for "acting in a juvenile and unprofessional manner." Rick McCue, station vice president and general manager, said Allen remains an employee.

The tape was from years earlier, never aired on television and was stolen by a former employee, who posted it on the internet, according to the station, which did not name the former employee.

This second story is about the Virgin company being sued for stealing a young woman's image and using it an advertising campaign.

Details from the SMH:

A Texas family has sued Australia's Virgin Mobile phone company, claiming it caused their teenage daughter grief and humiliation by plastering her photo on billboards and website advertisements without consent.

The family of Alison Chang says Virgin Mobile grabbed the picture from Flickr, Yahoo Inc's popular photo-sharing website, and failed to credit the photographer by name.

Chang's photo was part of a Virgin Mobile Australia campaign called "Are You With Us Or What?" It features pictures downloaded from Flickr superimposed with the company's ad slogans.

A colleague of mine, whom I quote occasionally, but who doesn't want to be identified has sent the following through to me this morning. It helps to put some of my concerns intoa more theoretical context and I shall be returning to these themes in my next book, tentatively called "Journalism in the age of YouTube", but perhaps going to be published with "DIY News: Global trends in digital journalism".

Dear Learned Colleagues,

I've been very nervous about these social networking sites for some
time, but have never really put my mind to probing that unease...

This piece, from Online Opinion, crystalizes much of my nervousness...


"On a local level, this is the growing phenomenon of “management
empathy”, where everyone at every level of the workplace now experiences
the same budgetary pressure from faceless suits. On a global level, the
hollowing out of hierarchy comes in the practice of skills and knowledge
transfer across countries according to the needs of global business,
when those with jobs in the West end up training others who will be
hired by the same firm at a cheaper rate to replace them. In these
circumstances, making friends, like with like, in cultural and regional
vacuums actually seems the worst kind of preparation for building the
alliances necessary to combat this wider structural trend.

Capitalism may have finally managed to produce an atomised workforce
that has no aspirations for living wage claims because overwork has been
normalised and an all-seeing screen binds together our public and
private identities. It is this reality that young people are preparing
for as they learn to “broadcast themselves” online. But those of us
concerned about their future must help them realise that while the
friendships they treasure on social networking sites may be premised on
a form of loyalty, the workings of capital and labour hire under
neoliberalism most definitely are not."

Friday, 21 September 2007

John Howard - War Criminal

I've just received this email from my friend Peter McGregor in Australia. He's attempting to get several Australian government ministers tried as war criminals and has taken out a Citizen's Arrest Warrant against them.
Good luck Peter, you crazy diamond.

Citizens Arrest of John Howard, Alexander Downer,Philip Ruddock, & Brendan Nelson as War Criminals.

“Point of order Mister Speaker: I have a Warrant for
the arrest of John Howard, Alexander Downer, Philip
Ruddock, & Brendan Nelson as War Criminals.”

Yesterday in Federal Parliament at Question Time, an
anti-war activist confronted the Government with a
formal Citizens Arrest Warrant, charging them with
various breaches of international law. (see Warrant
Peter McGregor, a retired academic from Newcastle, was
himself then arrested, & charged with ‘unlawful entry
on inclosed lands’ & taken into custody. McGregor was
calling for the Speaker of the House of
Representatives to have the police arrest the 4
“Just the Howard Government’s abandoning of
Habeas Corpus should make it a social pariah,
especially with those who believe in the rule of law &
human rights. Instead of people like me, the Pine Gap
4, the Talisman Sabre Peace Convergence, Rising Tide,
Greenpeace, etc. resorting to acts of civil
disobedience, it would be preferable if groups like
Amnesty, councils for civil liberties, university law
faculties, etc. practiced what they preached, and
brought formal legal charges against the Howard
Government for its War Crimes.”
“In order for evil to triumph, it is enough for good
people to do nothing."

You will recall from a previous post that Peter was arrested earlier this year at an anti-war forum for challenging Philip Ruddocks' presence on the platform. No date has been set for the trial, but McGregor will be pleading not guilty.

Here's the text of Peter's warrant.
Warrant for the Citizens Arrest of John Howard, Alexander Downer, Philip Ruddock, &
Brendan Nelson:

John Howard, Prime Minister; Alexander Downer,
Minister for Foreign Affairs; Philip Ruddock,
Attorney-General; & Brendan Nelson, Minister for
are hereby charged, to be trial by the International
Criminal Court, with:

(1) Planning, preparing, initiation or waging a war of
aggression or a war in violation of international
treaties, agreements or assurances – VI (i) Nuremburg

(2) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for
accomplishment of the above – V (ii) Nuremburg

(3) Participating in the use of cluster bombs in

(4) Participating in the use of weapons of mass
destruction in breach of the GENEVA Convention
including Fuel Air Explosives which cause death by

(5) Conspiring to pervert the course of justice by
(i) abandoning habeas corpus both in the domestic
'anti-terror' laws & in international policy; & (ii)
covering up or defending the use of torture & over
breaches of the GENEVA Convention, the International
Covenant for Civil & Political Rights, & the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, against Australian – and
other - citizens, at Guantanamo Bay

(6) Failing in its duty to protect Australian citizens
overseas, & conspiring to continue the illegal
detention of Australian citizens without trial or
changes for over 5 years

(7) Demonizing and incarcerating asylum seekers under
the policies of mandatory detention and fortress
Australia. Such policies contravene the legal
principle of habeus corpus and have induced undue
suffering and mental illness for detainees.

Dated this Wednesday 19th September, 2007.
Signature(s): Peter McGregor:
Issued & authorized by Citizens against War Crimes

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Rathergate - not yet over

Rather Sues CBS Over Exit - WSJ.com

Former CBS news anchor and the 'grand old man' of American journalism (at least since Walter Cronkite) is suing his former employer over his 2005 dismissal after he ran a story about George W Bush's national guard service that proved to be false.

Rather was caught out by bloggers who were able to show that the documents Rather relied on in the story had been faked. At the time it was widely reported as the 'death of the anchor'.

Now rather is suing CBS for $70 million. A long shot perhaps and also maybe too late to repair the damage to his reputation.

The whole episode became known as Rathergate and was a boon to the right wing bloggers and others who constantly (and wrongly) complain about 'liberal' bias in the news media.

it's only fair and balanced that I provide readers with an antidote to this messaniac rambling of 'liberal' bias. You could do a lot worse than read some of the writings of Eric Alterman, an English professor at City University of New York, ex-journo and columnist for some respected US publications.

Spies know who you talk to - surveillance society grows daily

Spy laws track mobile phones - Technology - smh.com.au

The Australian government is set to introduce new security laws that would allow the nation's spy agencies to secretly track mobile phone and internet use without obtaining a warrant.

There's no doubt that this increases the amount and breadth of social surveillance that can be used against political opponents as well as potential criminal activity.

A report to the British Privacy Commissioner last year outlines the extent of a surveillance society and the development of 'pre-emptive' surveillance like that proposed in the Australian legislation.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the clock is ticking and we are now six minutes to midnight on the 'doomsday clock' to becoming a fully-fledged surveillance society.

This is confirmed by an announcement this week that Dubya wants to extend surveillance laws in the USA

no breastfeeding online - Facebook says its obscene

Facebook ban incurs 'lactivist' wrath - web - Technology - smh.com.au

this is another interesting little story about social networking sites. A couple of weeks ago Facebook began revoking membership rights for some users after a row erupted about breastfeeding mothers posting images of themselves on their pages.

This is a storm in a D-cup. Ban porn, sure, but pictures of lactating mothers and their babies?

So far about 10,000 Facebookers have signed an online pettion against the ban.

One mother, Karen Speed, had her account removed permanently by the Facebook breast police.
She's writing up the saga on her blog, One small step for breastfeeding.

A group supporting the right of breast-feeding women to post their images on Facebook and to get the ban lifted on members who's profiles have been deleted as been set up.
By 18 September it had over 18000 members. Can Facebook's faceless administrators continue to ignore this protest?

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Rupert gets the knife out at the WSJ

Rupert Murdoch seeks $100m cuts at Dow Jones | City | MediaGuardian.co.uk

Well, despite all the protestations that he wasn't a wolf in sheep's clothing Rupert Murdoch has quickly moved to realise a profit on his purchase of the Wall Street Journal.

In a media interview he talks of saving over $100 million. He can only do that by junking the journalism.
Perhaps nude stocks and bonds traders on page 3 Rupert? Why not, it's worked for him before.
Or 'stock exchange bingo' - one lucky reader can win shares in the newly revitalised Dow Jones company, where you don't pay for any fancy overheads - like reporters.

"We've already identified the low hanging fruit will be $100m in savings," Mr Murdoch told the conference in New York, in comments reported by Reuters. "But we're about expanding revenue." Mr Murdoch added that News Corp saw "nothing in sight" in terms of buying further assets.

Thanks, Rupe, an old wolf doesn't lose its bite, just a bit of fur above the ears.

Youth - the new folk devils

Media and young people - hyping up new folk devils|22Sep07|Socialist Worker

This is a link to an interesting piece by academic Mike Wayne, published in the British Socialist Worker newspaper. Wayne is a researcher in media and I've read his work, particularly on global capitalism and media forms. It is a good follow up my previous post about tasering students and how cops now think it's normal to shoot thousands of volts through people who are disturbing the peace.

In this article, Mike Wayne is commenting on new attempts to demonise young people and he's got the research data to back up his claims. In case you don't want to read the whole piece, here's a grab that sets the record straight about media coverage of youth. There's no balance here just commodified celebrity role models - spend, consume, shut up - and deviant bastards - shut up, lock up.

I have been working with a team of researchers at Brunel university looking at how young people are portrayed on television news.

Our analysis covered 2,130 news items across all the main television channels during May 2006.

We found 286 stories in which young people were the main subject of the news item. Twenty eight percent of these stories focused on young celebrities such as footballers Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott.

This mirrored the wider role that young people play in commercial culture.

The overwhelming majority of the rest of the stories, 82 percent, focused on young people as either perpetrators or victims of crime.

Violent crime made up 90 percent of these crime related stories.

Across the entire sample violent crime figured in 304 cases. And in 42 percent of these, offenders or suspects were young people.

Yet while looming large in the popular imagination as threats

to people and property, young people themselves have little voice in news world.

Young people accounted for only 1 percent of all the sources for interviews and opinions that were on offer over the sample.

Predictably, crime was the major topic on which they were asked to speak.

These results show that even television news – our most public service orientated source of information and knowledge – is in effect turning young people into non-citizens to be feared.

This is not an argument for “good news” stories about young people, although that could do little harm.

This is about the one dimensional picture of young people’s lives which the media and news offers to us.

Where are the stories about how young people are affected by problems in housing, education, health, unemployment, parental abuse, politics and so forth? And where are even the most banal indicators in the coverage of crime that point beyond the individual person or event?

This encourages fear and condemnation rather than any understanding or criticism of some of the major political and economic institutions that are responsible for the tearing the social fabric apart.

The crisis around young people will only get worse if the quality of public debate does not get better.