28 Aug. 2007

Horse flu interferes with plans for APEC repression


Look how forlorn they are. It looks like the horses won't be in use at APEC. But don't worry. I'm sure they'll find plenty of other ways to brutalise the protesters.

The Australian 457 guest worker visa kills recipients, is denounced as slavery.

27 Aug. 2007

Jennifer Martiniello press release

Dear Kerry O'Brien and 7.30 researchers,

I have just returned from the Northern Territory. I
want John Howard to explain why house to house raids
without warrants are being conducted by the AFP in all
the Alice Springs town camps.

I also want to know why at least two of the senior
women who toured major cities speaking out against a
uranium waste dump on their traditional lands have
been raided by the AFP on warrants issued by a Federal
Magistrate in Canberra, their furniture slashed with
knives, belongings damages, laptops and mobile phones
seized, and phones tapped. I was told by one of the
women that the warrant gave 12 hours access to her
home, and that she was told that the measures were
justified because of the security crackdown for APEC
ministers. One of those women is an elderly
grandmother.

I have also been told by town camp residents that the
AFP has set up surveillance on all households in the
town camps,and have photographed without consent,
every Aboriginal child in those town camps. In the
1990s the AFP were successfully taken to court for
exactly the same violations in Redfern.
Please report on this disgraceful conduct, and pursue
a full explanation from the Howard Government.
regards,
Jennifer Martiniello
Member, Advisory Board
Australian Centre for Indigenous History,
Australian National University

23 Aug. 2007

Australia to ban boycotts

Story.

This is surely an extraordinary measure, almost unbelievable. Organising boycotts will be banned. Of course, it doesn't ban simply making an individual choice not to consume from a given corporation, one presumes. Many I know effectively boycott McDonald's for example.

The government's defence that the measure doesn't infringe free speech is an interesting one. It's interesting in that free speech is conventionally disallowed in cases where it is dangerous – the famous 'shouting fire in a crowded theatre' case. Conveniently, of course, Australia doesn't have a legally-enshrined right to free speech, so there's no way to test this claim; in the US, where such a right is in the constitution, it has had the effect of covering the right to call boycotts.

This is another attack on the right to collectively organise in Australia.

22 Aug. 2007

Terrorgraph, @PEC

Obviously this jpg is pretty small, but you can certainly still see the menacing anarchist @ on APEC – @PEC.

What's going on here? Firstly, of course, it's a sensationalist headline to sell papers. But what's the ideological function?

1. To shift the blame for the disruption to Sydney from APEC, which is being created by the summit itself being held in the centre of the city with paranoid security measures, disruption caused essentially and purely by government,, onto the protesters. APEC itself becomes @PEC – a creature not of government but of protesters.

2. To prepare the protesters in advance as targets for attack. The government too is preparing hard for its planned assault on protesters (see multiple previous posts also), but the Telegraph takes it further than ever today. It mercilessly and ludicrously tars all protest groups with the same brush. Inside, an anarchist symbol appears next to a listing of a Falun Gong protest planned during APEC. The message is clear though, that the protesters are planning violence. Thus, when violence occurs, we will be prepared to blame the protesters. We are even being prepared for the Police to attack children, with the Police themselves warning that they 'cannot guarantee the safety' of children on the protest. This is sheer intimidation.

19 Aug. 2007

Gender unbending

Australian government has removed flexibilities from the recognition of transgender people – apparently it's no longer possible for anything to appear on a passport other than a definite M or F.

11 Aug. 2007

Watch out online!

The Australian government is coming to get you:

$189 million Federal Government crackdown on online bad language, pornography and child sex predators.

The crackdown includes a $40 million increase in funding for the Australian Federal Police to track internet predators and a $90 million scheme to provide every household with software-based internet filters to install on their home computer.

Voluntary filters are fine, but hardly worthy of a government spending spree of this nature. How can it possibly cost so much? More than likely we are talking $20+ per filter installed, when the real cost of serving them should be cents.

The police honeypots for paedophiles are completely outrageous, and hardly 100% effective. While we can expect sexual predators to be more wary, a deterrent effect, this strategy will not prevent all such predation, if predation it indeed is. The strategy is based on the ridiculous assumption that anyone who takes the bait of someone posing as a worldly-wise 14 year old asking for sex is basically a monstrous pervert who will sooner or later rape a child.

6 Aug. 2007

When Aborigines attack the police

I don't know anything about the events, but we have today on smh.com.au an article, 'Rival Aboriginal gangs riot in NT'. One might think that the story is about inter- or intra-communal violence, and that is certainly how it is presented, but look at the detail:

Rioting between rival gangs at the troubled Aboriginal community of Wadeye has again erupted, resulting in minor injuries to police officers and two arrests.

Additional police reinforcements were called to the Northern Territory community, about 400km south-west of Darwin, over the weekend to try and quell the violence.

Fighting between about 200 people escalated on Sunday night when a police patrol was attacked and the car pelted with rocks.

Well, we hear it began with fighting among Aborigines, but the arrests that were made were all in connection with Aborigines attacking the police. This is in fact the typical pattern of the criminalisation of black people in Australia and of Aboriginal interactions with the police – Aborigines are typically not arrested for the crimes which the police were allegedly investigating, but for their interactions with the police. Given that the only arrests in this case resulted from the police intervention (this is not spelt out in the report, but we have two arrests and two police injured . . .), and that the police intervention seems to have resulted in an 'escalation' of the violence, is it not unreasonable to suggest that said intervention was not particularly helpful? Of course, it depends what said intervention was designed to do. The police presence in Aboriginal communities clearly has nothing to do with helping those communities qua communities, and everything with keeping them downtrodden.

Stop the presses: Australian soldiers are racist

John Howard is quite right that we shouldn't be concerned in young Australian men dressing up in KKK robes (SMH). After all, they don't have much resonance in Australian society. What we should be far more worried by is the other uniforms the boys were wearing, namely those of the ADF. Unlike the Klan, the ADF is a real and enduring force for racism and imperialism in Australia and overseas. The ADF membership is a far more likely indicator than a white hood that these men have racist sympathies, because the ADF's explicit purpose is and has always been racist: to advance Australia's interests against those of non-Australian people. Even the notion of the defence of the territorial integrity of Australia should only be seen in these terms, since the far reaches of the country in which invasion might be a remote possibility are not so much part of the Australian nation as areas occupied and defended for the mineral wealth and other potential they represent for Australian capital.

4 Aug. 2007

APEC medical planning

The Health Department denied the shutdown yesterday, despite confirmation from doctors at hospitals that they were freeing resources in the event of a disaster during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum next month.

Now this scarcely makes sense. While there is some credible belief that a terrorist attack is more likely in Sydney during APEC, the number of victims would be less than on a normal day since there will be fewer people in the city. Consequently, there should be no need to have greater than usual contingency planning. Unless they are basically certain there'll be a lot more hospitalisations – perhaps injured protesters?

The explicit logic is in fact actually belied by the revelation that doctors have been asked to take leave. This in fact means that the hospitals will have less emergency capacity – in an emergency, they can simply turn away patients for scheduled surgery, but it the doctors aren't there – well, they could be called in if they're still in town, but it doesn't make sense as an emergency measure. Rather it would seem that the aim is to reduce the number of people, doctors and patients, in the area. Perhaps it's as simple as reducing traffic that might slow down motorcades, or preventing dignitaries from seeing sick people wandering around the beautiful harbour city.

In any case, it seems clear that there is simply no good reason to deny people their medical procedures.

3 Aug. 2007

APEC and the militarisation of Sydney

It has become clear that not only will the policing of APEC be heavy, but that Sydney will be turned into a fortress in a strict, military sense, to protect it. This being the case, it is unclear why the organisers don't, or didn't, simply elect to hold the meeting on an existing military base: if they require such security, why hold the meeting in a manifestly unsafe place (by these insane standards of security), and then insist on spending the money to make that location secure. Why does it have to be the centre of Sydney, moreover? Couldn't they house it on the outskirts? Or perhaps at the empty Olympic site in Homebush, where a WTO trade round mini-ministerial meeting was held in 2002? The reason of course is probably that the meeting is all about showcasing Australia to visiting dignitaries, the heads of states of major powers, and this means holding it in the centre of Sydney, probably the most impressive place in Australia, or at least the one that will give the most desirable impression in this case.

So, the militarisation, the military occupation of the City of Sydney: 1500 military personnel. I wonder how many terrorists they are anticipating might try to attack – it seems to me that 1500 soldiers is clear overkill. Given that there is no indication that terrorists might actually attack, one should be worried that these troops might end up being used on peaceful protesters, which, as I discussed before, is, I believe, the planned use for the thousands of police rostered for duty. Of course, it seems unlikely that the government would want to provoke a massacre, unless it is an excuse to impose martial law in order to indefinitely postpone the federal election and hang on to power. Really, I don't think this will happen, but the militarisation of the Sydney unnecessarily puts the men and materiel there to make a massacre possible.

2 Aug. 2007

APEC cometh

Over the last few years there has been a general tendency observed for the NSW Police to become more aggressive in policing protests – and this is from an already aggressive base. Horses have been used against protesters and arrests made even when protestors were peaceful and not causing obstructions. All the evidence suggests a massive, aggressive police attack on protesters is being planned for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [sic] (APEC) meeting in Sydney next month. The evidence I speak of is the aforementioned increasing tendency of the police to break up peaceful protests with force, and the political value of doing so on this occasion. APEC will have unprecedented, and quite unwarranted, security for an event in Australia. The City of Sydney will effectively be closed down for the weekend. This will clearly impact negatively, if not too crucially, on the majority of Sydneysiders. Enough to piss people off, enough to reflect negatively on the power and privilege of the international elite who run their lives. The answer? Make damn sure that you deflect attention, and produce something that retrospectively justifies all the bullshit: in other words produce a scapegoat. There's a ready-made scapegoat in the form of protesters. Some protest group or other is bound to do something that serves as a pretext for a police attack, and if not, who cares? The important thing is that the police attack will translate to 'scenes of violence' that can be played on the news and thus legitimise the whole expense and inconvenience to the taxpayer.

It's difficult to know how the left should deal with this. The most obvious option I think is to refuse to protest. This would only work if everyone on the left agreed to it, however, but I think it makes sense, on the principle that direct action doesn't work unless it does something unpredicted, and summit protests have become entirely predictable, and thus containable. Still, this is somewhat 'unrealistic' in that left groups will not decline to protest, although they have all been playing APEC down to some extent. The reason I suspect they will not decline is moreover a fairly good one, namely that to yield to intimidation provides a victory to the government of sorts. So ultimately, I think we're just in for a kicking. My advice to protesters would be to try to do something unexpected.

1 Aug. 2007

Only terrorists doctor their CVs

The latest allegation against an Indian doctor: CV fraud.

This is somewhat reminiscent of the accusations of academic fraud against Ward Churchill in the US. Just as many prolific academics would be in trouble if every single one of their footnotes were investigated, but only Ward Churchill's have been, so too would many, many people be in trouble if their purported curricula vitae were examined in minute detail. Mohammed Asif Ali is not the only person ever so-examined but there's no question that his discrepancies are getting a lot of attention compared to the average petty fraudster's, despite their being completely irrelevant to his migration situation or the former criminal charges against him, and there's no question that if he hadn't been Ali none of this would have come to light at all, certainly not at this time.

Only terrorists are afraid of the Australian government

Well, the government now seems to have revealed its information on Haneef – dispelling completely the nonesense that it was secret and sensitive, as Haneef's lawyer has pointed out.

Here is the story: Haneef was warned that his brothers had been arrested and that he should therefore return to India, precisely because the Australians might arrest him for guilt by association. His decision to leave suddenly for India, has been taken as an indication of his guilt, rather than what it is, a reasonable concern that the Australian government will act to detain the relatives of

Here's the scenario: Haneef is linked to his brothers Haneef in England via the fact that when he last saw them, he left them with his British SIM card. Given that they are being detained for terrorism offences, it is reasonable to suppose that Haneef might be taken into custody in Australia. His natural response is to seek refuge in his home country, where the same levels of racist persecution of Muslims and suspension of habeas corpus do not apply. Discussions with his family of such matters are taken to imply Haneef's guilt by the Australian government, eventhough they would never stand up in court, so Hanif is barred from Australia by executive fiat.