Julia Gillard answers question from Julian Assange

1 06 2011

Made all the more disturbing with this article that appeared on Crikey! which covers the expansion of powers awarded to ASIO, allowing the organisation to monitor the activities of Australian citizens involved with Wikileaks or dissenting political activity overseas or even at home, such as actions undertaken by the Pirate Party or Anonymous.


29 01 2011

The Al Jazeera lead begins:

Thousands of protesters in the Egyptian cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez have defied a nighttime curfew and continued with demonstrations demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year presidency.

Fuck yes.

The Egyptians are on the rise and Mubarak has apparently sacked his cabinet.  Seems he hasn’t really got the message that the general unrest and discontent of the masses may have something to do with his 30 years in power and the way he’s been acting off “emergency powers” almost the entire time.

All reports have repeated the line that the US is “deeply concerned” and is calling for “restraint” on the part of the Egyptian authorities.  But, and please correct me if I’m wrong, the continued calls for Mubarak to introduce reform are not what the Egyptians want.  They want an end to Mubarak and the status quo which has been in operation for three decades, has repressed critics of the Egyptian government and has seen the police torture people as a matter of course.

Little wonder.  Looking at it from the position of the US, it’s easier to deal with a dictator and “prod him” in the direction of protecting and respecting human rights, than actually having to deal with a democratically elected government.  They are predictable, dependable and, that favourite word of Western commentators and faces of the US administration, stable.  Stable is good for business.  War business, commercial business, policy business.  Just ask the BBC:

If the Mubarak regime were to collapse – which is still a big “if” – the fall-out would affect virtually every key player in the region and every key issue.

• For Arab autocrats, it would signify the writing on the wall in a far more dramatic way than the fall of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia.

• For Arab protesters, it would be a great boost, fuelling the idea that the region has entered a new era of “people power”.

• It would deal a blow to an already enfeebled Middle East peace process. Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, back in the 1970s. A change of regime would alarm Israeli leaders and deepen the siege mentality among many Israelis.

• It would affect business confidence, regionally and even globally, especially if oil prices shot up.

• Finally, it would pose painful dilemmas for Western policy-makers who have long favoured gradual political reform in the region, fearful that the alternative could be the breakdown of stability and the rise of extremism.

By George!  Now the Jordanians seem to be heading in the same direction.

The US Government goes for internet’s jugular

27 09 2010

This article was originally published by Techeye.net.  I’ve reposted it here as a matter that needs urgent attention inside and outside the US.

The US government has decided that it has the right to take down content on any website in the world if a movie or recording studio complains about it.

The worldwide censorship programme will let the Justice Department seek US court orders against piracy websites anywhere in the world and shut them down through domain registration.

According to Wired the law has the backing of both republicans and democrats and is quite possibly the first time that the US has attempted to impose its quaint medieval legal system on the rest of the world.  It is certainly the first time that the US has ordered other nation states to obey the will of its own private companies.

Basically the only reason that the world has to listen is that the US has control of the domain registration system.

The law is called “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act,” and as Wired points out it is the Holy Grail of intellectual-property enforcement.

If passed, the Justice Department could ask a federal court to for an injunction that would order a domain registrar or registry to stop resolving an infringing site’s domain name, so that visitors to ThePirateBay.org, for example, would get a 404 error.

It is being pushed by Orin Hatch who is a Republican from Utah who claims that this world wide wibble thing is a tool for online thieves to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, making hundreds of millions of dollars off of stolen American intellectual property.

But whether the proposal would ever become law is unclear. For a start there will be a large number of foreign countries who will be leaning on the US to drop it. Wars have been fought for less and the world wide wibble is an important economic resource.

Hollywood has shown that it is quite prepared to blanket ban all filesharing sites on the basis that pirated material could be shared. A law like this would enable it to shut down internet access to any company which makes technology it does not approve of.

The fact that taxpayer money is being used to defend Hollywood against people who may not have any cash at all is another point. But the law could also be used to shut down Wikileaks on the basis that the material is copyrighted. The fact the site is hosted in foreign countries would not protect it.

The US has always been reluctant to give up its control of the internet, usually making the claim that it invented it. The fact that what it came up with is nothing like you see today does not matter to it. It now seems that US politicians are using it to prop up their entertainment industry’s sick business model.

Our bet is that if the law is enacted then it will push other governments to set up a rival internet structure without the US.  After all you can’t have a system of taxation or legal repression without representation.  Where have we heard that before?

Read the original here

Thai government has ABC decumentary censored from website, now available thanks to Wikileaks

10 09 2010

A ABC Foreign Correspondent documentary that aired in April covering the Thai monarchy and issues surrounding the future succession has been taken down from the ABC website after embassy officials complained on behalf of some upset royal.  Seems they don’t particularly want the people of Thailand to view it.

Never been a huge fan of monarchies, so feel like I should mention the 26 minute documentary is now publicly available, care of wikileaks.

Click here to watch.

Australia censors Wikileaks?

18 03 2009

Though I’m not hearing it reported anywhere else, so I could very well be wrong, my attention has been brought to the following paragraphs in this article.

An Australian anti-censorship activist submitted the page to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), requesting that they censor it, under their internal guidelines. The activist wished to expose the “slippery scope” of the proposed Mandatory Internet Censorship scheme.

The press release and the list itself have now been placed into the secret Australian government blacklist of “Prohibited Online Content”.

The content on the blacklist is illegal to publish or link to in Australia, with fines of upto[sic] $11,000 a day for contraventions.

The ACMA blacklist is proposed to become the list with which the Australian Government will mandatory block all Australians Internet requests. Presently censorship of access attempts by ISPs is voluntary. The Australian government has faced strong opposition over the scheme, with the Liberal (conservative) and Green (liberal left) opposition parties stating they will vote against it.

So if this is correct, I could be find for doing this.

Doesn’t really seem like much of a crime.  Politically, it has drastic ramifications when a website such as wikileaks is, possibly, ‘banned’ as an ‘evil’ website when most supporters of democracy would demand something similar to ensure transparency.  They’re hardly terrorists.

To explain things in better detail, PrisonPlanet also contained a copy of an article appearing in TheAge.  It’s essential reading to anyone reading this post.  Especially for this quote,

Speaking at a telecommunications conference last week, Senator Conroy urged Australians to have faith in MPs to pass the right legislation.

Despite previously saying his scheme would be expanded to block “refused classification” content that includes sites depicting drug use, sex, crime, cruelty and violence, he said opponents of his plan were spreading “conspiracy theories”.

Speaking of wikileaks, more tragedies befall the organisation.

On Thursday afternoon, Oscar Kamau Kingara, director of the Kenyan based Oscar legal aid Foundation, and its programme coordinator, John Paul Oulo, were both shot dead at close range in their car less than a mile from President Kibaki’s residence. The two were on their way to a meeting at the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights.

Both had been investigating extra-judicial assassinations by the Kenyan Police. Part of their work forms the basis of the “Cry of Blood” report Wikileaks released on November 1 last year and subsequent follow ups, including a UN indictment last month.

Since 2007 the Oscar foundation has documented 6,452 “enforced disappearances” by police and 1,721 extra-judicial killings.

The murders come just two weeks after United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings Professor Philip Alston called on on Kenya’s Attorney General and Police Commissioner to be sacked.

The murder of Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulo

The murder of Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulo

On 18 February 2009, the Oscar Foundation presented its findings for use in a parliamentary debate.

The Oscar Foundation vehicle was blocked by a minibus and a Mitsubishi Pajero vehicle, both of which had been following them along State house road. Several men were in the two vehicles. Two men got out, approached the vehicle of Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulu, and shot them through the windows at close range.

According to eyewitnesses, the driver of the minibus was in police uniform whilst the other men were wearing suits. The closest eyewitness to the incident was shot in the leg and later taken away by policemen.

A coalition of civil society organizations released a statement blaming police for the murders.

“These were very decent men who had done more work than anybody in examining police killings,” said Cyprian Nyamwamu, the executive director of the National Convention Executive Council, a non-governmental organization advocating social and economic reform. “I have no doubt that is why they were killed.

Though it probably doesn’t mean much coming from myself, given that I’m of little influence or status, my sympathies go out to the families of these men.

You may read the rest here.