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!

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.

Another student tasered by campus cops - what's with this shit?

Student Tasered at campus forum for Kerry - CNN.com

The campus cops in the USA don't seem to be learning. They've tasered another student at the University of Florida.
Watch this video and see how the spokesperson for the uni squirms.

The guy was just asking John Kerry a question at a campus election rally. That is, exercising his rights as a US citizen. He was asking a difficult question, that the organisers didn't like.

These campus cops are asshole thugs. Why do universities employ goons like this. Surely it's not too hard to give clear instructions not to attack students in unprovoked assaults with deadly weapons.

How long till these thugs actually kill someone?

Here's another view, of course, thanks YouTubers.

What's interesting is the character asassination now going on about the student, 21-year-old Andrew Myer. According to reports published in major newspapers, including the Sydney Morning Herald, Myer is a 'trouble-maker' and practical joker. So what, that doesn't mean he deserves to get tasered. The cops are also quoted as saying that once the cameras were off Myer, he joked and laughed as he was taken off to the lock-up. What a farce.

Tasering people is now a legitimate police contact sport. Here's another clip of an incident in a police lock up. There are better ways of dealing with disturbed and emotional people. The cops are out of control.

So, you don't believe cops enjoy this shit? Take a look at this training video - they're having fun with the taser. One of the women looks wierdly like Janet Jackson - listen to her, she loved getting tasered. I guess they just want to share the love. Bastards!

Monday, 17 September 2007

a warning to social networkers

There was a horrible murder in Auckland a week ago. A young man, Augustine Borrell, was stabbed in the chest outside a teener party in the fairly well off suburb of Herne Bay. An 18 year-old gave himself up to police a few days later.

It's teen death 11 0r 12 in Auckland in the last few years, there's an incident pretty much every weekend in terms of fights outside parties. On the Saturday just past a young guy was shot in the face with a pellet gun.

But what's got me interested in this story is the coverage given to an alleged confession by the stabber. According to reports in the NZ Herald, the unnamed guy posted an apology cum confession on the networking site Bebo.

Bebo has become both an online memorial to Borrell and a battleground between his friends and associates of the alleged killer. The New Zealand Herald is breathlessly reporting all of this from a perspective of Bebo's "dark side" of guns, drugs and crime.

I've had a look, admitedly a quick squiz, around Bebo and can't find the stuff that's been written about in the papers. Though, I don't doubt it's there.

A few days after the online torrent of love and hate around the Borrell stabbing, the young accused was in court charged with murder. A suppression order is in place to prevent his identity being publicised. According to newspaper reports at the time, the sites where messages were being posted about the alleged killer were taken down.

What I think is most chilling about this is the blunt warning given in the court by prosecutor, Ross Burns. He basically said that the government is able to monitor sites like Bebo and is able to trace posts.

"The Department of Internal Affairs monitors internet websites and is perfectly capable of tracing postings back to the original poster and if that happens and they are found to have breached the order then they are liable for criminal prosecution."
The other thing that's got me puzzled is why the NZ Herald has been allowed to print the text of the accused person's online apology/confession. Isn't this a case of contempt of court?

One posting, written in response to allegations about who was responsible for the murder, said:

"hey there ... i am real sory 4 tha incident ov augustine, an want u 2 know i had no intensions wat so ever 2 do so, an im not that kind of person an kuld neva du that 2 sum1 especialy 2 sumwun i dont knw an if u havnt heard iv handed maself in.and i am real real sorry, i didnt know wat hapend that nite. R.I.P augustine"

This case is a lot more serious that kids finding themselves arrested for driving stupidly and putting a video of their stunt on YouTube. I'm going to keep an eye on this case, the legal precedents are interesting. They highlight what I call the "techno-legal time gap". There's pretty much no regulation of what can be posted on social networking sites, it's suck it and see.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Martinis at the Viaduct - a welcome Tuesday break

Left: F&M at Soul

Last night Helen & I entertained a visiting American colleague down in Auckland's Viaduct district.
It was a quiet Tuesday night, but that didn't stop us from showing our Missouri cousin some harbourside hospitality.

Fritz had done his homework before coming to Aotearoa. He'd seen my blog and knew that I was keen on a martini or two. We met up just after 9.30pm at Soul and proceeded to get to know each other a little better.

The Soul martinis are interesting. For a start they come in a long, narrow glass, more like a postmodern champagne flute than the traditional cocktail shape. We had the vodka version. Fritz likes his a little sweeter, so went with the bianco with a twist. Helen and I are pretty much traditionalists and stuck with the dry/dirty olive combo. I always prefer a vodka-tini after dinner. Though gin is my favourite aperatif.

It was quiet. By 11.15 Soul was closing up, but Fritz had the taste and we went in search of another venue. We ended up at a place that I think is called "Cowboy". It had a western feel and I'm sure Fritz was quite at home there (he's from the mid-west, but they had cowboys too, back in the day).
Left: F&M - Cowboy

Unfortunately we only had time for one more round - "the usual please" - before this bar shut down too.

Well, by then it was nearly 1.30am so I guess going home wasn't really too much of a disappointment.

I'm going to catch up with Fritz in his home town, Columbia Missouri in a few weeks during a trip to Canada and the USA. I'm sure more martinis will be found to wet the way.

The "dirty caper"

I also experimented at home over the weekend and came up with a new twist on an old favourite. I call it the 'dirty caper'. I like capers in salads and bolognaise sauce and so I thought they might work in a martini too. They're salty like olives, but have a taste that is both sharper and softer at the same time.
My trick is quite simple. Take your average 'sixer' (3 X olives on two cocktail sticks) and intersperse a caper in between the olives. You should always use a good gin for this. At the moment I have a bottle of Bombay Sapphire which I prefer to drink with Noily Prat, but for now a reliable and not too expensive vermouth is good enough.

Left: the dirty caper (six olives and four capers)

If you like super dirty you can even put a tsp of caper brine into the mix as you go.

The verdict: Smart, sophisticated and chic.

Who am I kidding, it was a martini: blunt, tasty and effective.

APEC - nothing of substance happend

There isn't a great deal to say in this quiet week after the NSW cops were promising that all Hell would break loose on the streets of Sydney as crazed anarchists and easily-duped schoolies ran amok in a pointless protest against the evils of globalisation and the festering sore that is the occupation of Iraq.

the main rally organisers posted this calm message announcing the success of their protest action:

10,000 protesters crowded in to the Anti APEC rally at Town Hall this morning far exceeding the estimated 5000 expectations of the rally organisers. Many of those participating said they were determined to attend, galvanised by the police harassment and threats.

George St is sealed off by police vans at the Queen Victoria building blocking the rally and shoppers alike. Police have planned that these vans will serve as mobile prisons if violence breaks out. Yet the police seem to be the ones promoting the violence with displays of water cannon and riot squad mobilising. Rumours abound that undercover police agitators are likely to try to provoke incidents. Certainly police have acted in a partisan manner in their treatment of those who support the rally confiscating banner poles while, in contrast, leaving those few protesters in support of APEC alone.

The rally has reaffirmed its opposition to violence and has expressed their right to politically mobilise in a peaceful manner against the war mongering, anti-worker and anti-environment policies at the centre of the APEC gathering.

The rally is extraordinarily diverse in attendance from young and old, with placards and flags highlighting a broad range of issues from a wide range of social movements, and with the stated determination to march along the police lined route, to sit and hear further speakers before ending up with a further rally in Hyde Park.

Of course the cops said only 5000, but the Australian news reports I saw in Aotearoa said at least six to eight, possibly more. It was quite dull for the hyped-up media types who descended on the Sydney CBD expecting lots of protesters' blood to flow. At the end of the day all they could say was that the cops got it wrong and that the marchers had won the moral high ground.

In the end the Saturday protests were peaceful and only a handful of people were arrested. But what I find most interesting is this frank admission from the senior NSW cop, Commissioner Andrew Scipione, that the heavy police presence was a factor in detering people from showing up to the rally.

Despite the arrests, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says the majority of the thousands of protesters in central Sydney behaved peacefully.

Commissioner Scipione says the massive show of force by police and the poor weather led to today's successful outcome.

"It certainly caused numbers to dwindle, in fact it surely caused numbers not to turn up," he said.

"But more importantly, I think it was the combination of the show of force, the police were out there in big numbers, and we don't apologise for that.

"We always indicated that we would be there, in sufficient numbers to be able to act swiftly against those that broke the law.

"So was that overkill? I don't think so."

This is an outrage. Here we have the state's most senior cop, a well-paid public servant, admitting that the police presence was a political gesture designed to impact on the success of a peaceful protest march. The cops were acting as paid bullies and bouncers whose sole purpose in fencing off half the Sydney CBD and parading in riot gear with monster boys' toys including a $700,000 water canon, was to prevent a peaceful protest against international capitalism, death and destruction.

Oh, and nothing happened at APEC either. There was a piss-poor statement of concern about the environment and global warming, but no action to stop it. Why not?

Well, the interests of the ruling class are in rampant profit taking and pillage. If the environment gets raped in the process, what do they care. The armoured limos and first class air travel are perks, who actually pays for them and the damage they do to the planet is none of our business.


Janet Albrechtsen - why are you still here?

I was alerted to this piece on The Orstrahyun blog by an item in Crikey today.
I've long maintained that Janet Albrecthsen, a senior columnist on Rupert Murdoch's Australian, was a neo-con. She's even said so herself. But her shamelss spruiking and her close ties to the Howard government are now there for all to see. By her own hand is she damned.

Thanks to Daryl Mason of The Ostrahyun for this:

A columnist for The Australian newspaper - the supposedly "balanced" and "not biased at all" flagship of the Australian Murdoch media empire - has been outed as not only a rabid supporter of prime minister John Howard, but also one that lets the prime minister know, days in advance, when she is writing an op-ed that may reflect badly on him.

Who's doing what now?

Yes. Janet Albrechtsen, a columnist for The Australian, rang John Howard's office before she had even written her column about why it was time for him to step down, to let him know what she was planning to write.

She called other ministers as well, allowing them the opportunity to try and talk her out of writing the 'Time To Go" column that supposedly "rocked the Howard government" when it appeared in The Australian on September 7.

The one thing that's missing from the Orstrahyun blog is any mention of Janet's other contentious hat. She's a faithful Howard-appointed a member of the ABC Board.

I have said before that I think this is a dreadful conflict of interest and I've suggested she should resign that position. She is a staunch critic of public broadcasting and her stablemates at the Murdoch Limited News press are vicious witch-hunters of any one vaguely left-leaning at the national broadcaster. Rupert's commercial interests in the Australian media are diametrically opposed to the vibrant health of the ABC. It would be in Rupert's long-term interests for the ABC to be shut down.

Janet, why are you still here?

Friday, 7 September 2007

"It's not funny," Scipione laments Chaser stunt

The NSW police really do have to lighten up. They're now putting round the message that the boys from Chaser could have been shot by snipers during their stunt a couple of days ago. IN case you missed it, here's a TV report.

The team from the ABC's satirical show, The Chaser's War on Everything, managed to drive through two security checkpoints in Sydney, despite the heavy (overkill) police security presence and the rabble-proof fence.

A number of Chaser crew were able to get right to the InterContinental hotel where Dubya is holed up with an entourage that boasts 250 secret service guys, armed to the teeth.

After being held by the side of the road, they were taken in a police van and processed.

Now the NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, is saying they could have been shot. But they weren't. What they did do is prove that the whole costly exercise (around 140 million dollars, about $24 million per day) is an expensive joke.

Scipione told the Australian media that the police snipers, located on many buildings around the city, could have opened fire. Now he's mad as hell...

"I'm angry, I'm very angry that this stunt happened, it was a very dangerous stunt," Mr Scipione said.

"The reality is ... (they) put security services in a position where they might have had to take an action no-one would want.

"We have snipers deployed around the city. They weren't there for show, they mean business, that's what they were there for."

Hey, Commish, wipe the two-day old egg of your face and crack a smile.

Showing just how thick the boys and girls in blue can be, here's a copy of the Chaser team's dummied-up security passes.

On a more serious note, the Chaser crew (11 were arrested) have been charged under the NSW special APEC security laws and could face up to six months in jail.


There's more at the SMH website.

You can track an earlier post on this story.

As you might expect the Chaser online news service is quick to show what's going on.

News agencies escalate IRU rights dispute

Several of the world's leading news agencies have suspended their coverage of the World Rugby Cup competition about to get underway in France this weekend.

The dispute is about the rights to images and access to venues, teams etc.

AFP, Reuters and AP are all involved.

Read more at the SMH website

Robert Capa - was that photograph really real?

For many years I've been talking to my students about the ethical dilemmas associated with photojournalism. One of the key case studies that we discuss is the image of a Spanish soldier at the point of death that Magnum agency photographer Robert Capa took in 1936.
In the shot the Loyalist soldier appears to be falling back after being hit by a sniper's bullet.

For years there's been controversy around this image. Some historians and journalists, notably Philip Knightley, have argued that this is a faked image. Posed by the soldier for Capa's camera.

In a review of a biography of Capa (Blood and Champagne by Alex Kershaw), Knightley is scathing in his attack on the man, and the famous image.

Let’s get the bad stuff over first. Robert Capa was a liar, a compulsive gambler, a depressive, a heavy drinker, and a womaniser (especially with prostitutes). He used people, broke promises and when he was accused of being a communist and the U.S. State Department kept his passport, he “named names”, to get it back.

At the urging of the appalling Henry Luce, the founder of Life and producer of the March of Time newsreel series, he staged Republican attacks on Fascist positions during the Spanish Civil War and filmed them, noting that they looked “more real” than if they had actually taken place. And, I maintain, he faked the most famous war photograph of all time, the Spanish soldier at the moment of death.

But the Wikipedia entry and other bloggers have suggested that it's real. The entry is quite clear on the story, but doesn't mention Knightley's criticism:
From 1936 to 1939, he was in Spain, photographing the horrors the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, he became known across the globe for a photo he took on the Cordoba Front of a Loyalist Militiaman who had just been shot and was in the act of falling to his death. Because of his proximity to the victim and the timing of the capture, there was a long controversy about the authenticity of this photograph. Historians eventually succeeded in identifying the dead soldier as Federico Borrell García, from Alcoi (Valencia) and proved it authentic. [1] This is one of the best-known pictures of the Spanish civil war.
This position receives some support, for example this comment from a discussion thread at photo.net:
The photo has been proved to be in no way "a set up" by the photographer, despite a claim by someone who wasn't anywhere near the place where it happened.
In a response this this, another post suggested:
I never said the photograph was a hoax. Robert Capa had asked the soldier to perform for a photograph(duck and roll I believe) when he was shot and killed(in reality)
In amongst all the discussion of cameras, lenses and focal lengths, there's some support for Capa on the photo.net site. Here's another post on a different thread that seems to support the Wikipedia entry:
Knightley claims to have proved in 1974, Capa Falling Loyalist Solider photo was faked. Well, a few years ago, the soldier was positively identified by records and family members. Knightley still refuses to accept this. A long time ago, I read his evalution and found it lacking. In addition, I believe, he did not have access to the Capa archives and never saw the original contact sheet(s) from the event. The original negative has been lost. The very best source of ACCURATE Robert Capa facts, is the Richard Whelan biography, first published in 1985.
There is a piece by Richard Whelan online that backs this story and provides more detail. This extract talks about the controversy and maintains that the image is real. However, it says here that the soldier was a Republican fighter. I thought the Loyalists were Francos' fascists. I've always thought the image was of a Republican and given Capa's political leanings I would imagine he would have been with Republican units, not Franco's.

After photographing in Barcelona, Capa and Taro went to the stalemated Aragón front, where they visited the militia of the Trotskyite POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista) that George Orwell would serve with that winter. Capa and Taro then moved south toward Andalucía. Republican forces had begun an offensive to recover Córdoba, and the Madrid government reported new advances daily, even emptily boasting that its troops had entered the city. For photographers eager to cover Republican victories, the Córdoba front was a compelling destination.

There, just outside the tiny village of Cerro Muriano, on September 5, 1936, a 22-year-old Capa made one of his most famous images, perhaps the greatest of all war photographs—that of a Republican militiaman who has just been shot and is collapsing into death.

The internal evidence of the series of photographs to which that picture belongs suggests that Capa ran down a barren hillside with the vanguard of a Republican attack, and, as they came into range of an enemy emplacement, he threw himself down and hugged the ground (as we can see from the camera angle); from there he photographed several men as they were shot in succession. “Falling Soldier” received its first publication soon afterward in the September 23, 1936, issue of Vu.

In 1975, a controversy began over the authenticity of Capa’s great photograph when O’Dowd Gallagher, an elderly British journalist of failing memory, charged that the photograph was staged. The claim was published in Phillip Knightley’s book The First Casualty: From the Crimea to Vietnam: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth Maker.

In a world always eager to believe the worst, Gallagher’s allegations spread rapidly. Refuting evidence was largely ignored. In September 1996, however, the controversy was definitively settled in Capa’s favor by the discovery of the identity of the man in the photograph—Federico Borrell García, whose death at Cerro Muriano, on September 5, 1936, is recorded in the Spanish government’s archives and whose identity in the photograph was confirmed by his younger brother, Everisto.

Through circumstantial evidence, which I pieced together while working on my biography of Capa, we know for certain that Capa and Taro were in Cerro Muriano on that day. Indeed, on the vintage prints preserved in the files of Capa’s estate with their original chronological numbering, the numbers on the sequence of pictures to which the “Falling Soldier” belongs immediately precede those of a Cerro Muriano refugee series. The numbering on the vintage prints clearly suggested that Capa made his “Falling Soldier” picture at Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936. Capa repeatedly confirmed during his lifetime that he had made his photograph on the Córdoba front.

There is another, more detailed account of this story from Richard Whelan at PBS, written in 2002. This image purports to show the relative positions of Borell Garcia and Capa, taken from a trench on the front lines.
Here's Whelan's final thoughts on the subject, from the PBS American Masters documentary on Capa:
The arrow indicates [in the photo above] where Federico Borrell García was standing when he was shot; the X indicates where Capa was hugging the side of the gully.

There can be no further doubt that The Falling Soldier is a photograph of Federico Borrell García at the moment of his death during the battle at Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936. May the slanderous controversy that has plagued Robert Capa’s reputation for more than twenty-five years now, at last, come to an end with a verdict decisively in favor of Capa’s integrity. It is time to let both Capa and Borrell rest in peace, and to acclaim The Falling Soldier once again as an unquestioned masterpiece of photojournalism and as perhaps the greatest war photograph ever made.
Whelan provides more photographic evidence in this piece, published in 2003.

I haven't been able to find any response to this from Phillip Knightley. If you know of one, perhaps you could let me know.

Rugby + Money = Greedhead Heaven

Agencies boycott All Blacks event | Press&publishing | MediaGuardian.co.uk

I don't really care much about the rugby world cup, but I do care about the media. A number of news agencies, including some of the global biggies - Reuters, AP, Getty Images and AFP - staged a brief boycott of pre-tournament events at the 2007 Rugby World Cup because of a dispute with the IRU over image rights.
The whole area of rights and fees at these events is interesting and as everyone attempts to claw back their costs and make a profit out of global audiences (in this case rugby fans) every penny counts. So it seems.

Sport and money - a noxious cocktail of greed and robbery.

APEC satire - "not funny"

APEC's surprise guest - Mr bin Laden of Canada - National - smh.com.au

Good on the Chaser crew. They managed to breach the APEC "rabble-proof fence" yesterday, but now 11 of them are facing charges to do with eluding the security operation.

The charges against them are just more ammunition for satire. This just makes the whole exercise in locking down Sydney appear that the disturbingly real and sad joke that it is.

If a couple of clowns in hire cars can breach the security wall because they don't look like feral hippies, imagine what a clever hitman like the legendary "Jackal" could do.

The goon squads are obviously not looking for terrorists, their role is to monster a few anti-globalisation and anti-war protestors into cowering submission.

Those brave bastards.

The Chaser team have a proud record of embarrassing politicians and the police. They have a worldwide fan club as you can see from this photograph. the billboard is an ad for the Chaser TV show on ABC.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

More APEC commentary on YouTube

There's plenty of stuff going on with YouTubers about the APEC summit in Sydney.
Here's a selection. I guess there's no way (yet) to put a rabble-proof fence around the Internet.

NSW Police organise APEC riots

The Stop Bush Coalition protest march planned for Saturday has been put under a "prohibition order" by the NSW Supreme Court.
This is a legally strange decision - the march is not actually banned, but according to the ruling it will lose any "protections" that it might have had under the law. Go figure!

The police commissioner was pleased with the result, he told the ABC that:

it means if the protesters follows their original route, people could be arrested for obstructing traffic.

"They will be charged and put before a court, they could find themselves in a cell for many days," he said.

According to the ABC the police tendered evidence that if the route of the march was not changed: "a riot with an unprecedented level of violence would occur".

Yep, with the police already geared up and psyched for a rumble, there will be a riot. The police will riot with the full protection of the law.

The marchers are planning a sit down in the centre of the city, but the cops said that this is not acceptable either. At least if everyone's sitting down they're easier to punch, kick and club.

There's no doubt that the boys and girls in blue are ready to bring it on. The "riot squad" - how well monickered - is up for a bit of biff, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald:
The commander of the NSW Police Public Order and Riot Squad, Chief Superintendent Stephen Cullen, told the Supreme Court yesterday that Sydney would face unprecedented violence during APEC and "full-scale riots" if the protest were allowed down George Street.
In a well-drilled display of scare-mongering, Sup. Cullen told the court that he expected trouble:

"Well-drilled and disciplined" members of violent splinter groups would agitate during the protests, stirring up usually peaceful marchers.

"Based upon my research, experience, current intelligence and evidence from internationally similar events - more recently G20 in Melbourne - I have absolutely no doubt that minority groups will engage in a level of violence not previously experienced in Sydney.

"Never in my career have I held such serious concerns for public safety as I do during the conduct of APEC, or more specifically this particular march".

These cops are nutters and shameless provocateurs. The irony is that there's no irony. The "minority groups" who are "well-drilled and disciplined" will all be easy to spot on Saturday. They won't be a ragtag bunch of anarchists, it will be those in the uniform of state power. Brainless thugs who will happily follow the orders of their political masters to create a specatacle worthy of the Roman colossuem.

It is, as many have pointed out, an election stunt of the most gross dimensions. Howard and Iemma should be totally ashamed of themselves.

Weapons of mass distraction - the funny side of APEC

Who says cops have a sense of humour? It seems that in Sydney they don't. At least not when it comes to satirical attempts to cross the rabble-proof fence.
This story from the ABC Online. No doubt we'll hear more in the next few days:

Two stars of The Chaser's War on Everything have been detained after conducting a fake motorcade through Sydney.

Chaser co-star Chris Taylor has told ABC News Online that police have detained Chas Licciardello and the show's executive producer Julian Morrow.

Taylor says the motorcade was made up of three cars.

"A lot of people were involved [in this stunt]," he said.

"Some have been detained and some haven't."

Taylor says the crew members have been detained in their cars, while police wait for special units to arrive.

Lawyers for the ABC are also on their way to the scene.

The Chaser convoy had been dressed up to look like an official Canadian motorcade.

"No particular reason why we chose Canada," Taylor said.

He says they thought it was feasible Canada would only have three cars in its motorcade.

ABC spokesman Peter Ritchie has confirmed Licciardello and Morrow have been detained, but not arrested.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

A shameless steal from Crikey

I couldn't resist republishing this short editorial from today's Crikey newsletter. If you have any interest at all in Australian politics, business and media you should subscribe. As a small way of atoning for my plucking this item, here's the link to the Crikey website.

Dear Sole Subscriber,

Another sole subscriber, Crikey reader Ben Pearson, has been musing on APEC.

The ongoing campaign by police and pollies warning against ‘violent’ protests at APEC -- dutifully reported by the fourth estate -– masks the fact that all three of these actors actually benefit from a bit of public argy bargy and thus exaggerate both the threat and occasional occurrence of it.

Premier Iemma rails against ‘vandals’ and ‘violence’ to show that he is tough on law n order. Prime Minister John Howard, on the other hand, is hoping that a couple of university proto-anarchists will distract attention from the fact that APEC is nothing more than the mother of all inconveniences for Sydneyites. As for the media, they are hoping for the kind of dramatic stories and photos that sell papers. As the industry says – "if it bleeds, it leads”.

For the cops, APEC is a vision of the world as it should be. Expanded powers, new equipment, media support, and maybe a chance to try out new toys like the water cannon.

The warnings and hype about ‘violent’ protests mask another agenda in which politicians and certain elements in the media stigmatise the very notion of protest, and by creating and reinforcing an association between mass protests and violence, they seek to de-legitimise the former. Public protest is the right of all Australians. Pollies may not like it, and it may not sell many papers, but it’s part of what democracy is all about.

And we think Ben has a point.