December 31, 2010

December 29, 2010

Wednesday Wisdom

Traditions are group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening.

Barbara Tober

December 27, 2010

Trophy photo of naked Assange

Oh, wouldn't it be fun if the "trophy photo" of Julian Assange, taken by one of his alleged sexual assault victims, was leaked?

If the photo exists, perhaps she's holding out for a nice big cheque some way down the track.

Or not ... the women are claiming they're not pawns, do not want money, but simply want justice for violation of their "sexual integrity" ... here.  (Sorry ladies, but taking trophy photo's, holding dinner parties in Assange's honor and insisting that he stay in your home, despite other offers of accommodation being available to him - all of this and more, after the violation of one's sexual integrity - is not going to play well in a court room.)

The now familiar details of Assange's sexual encounters with the two women continue to be regurgitated ... here.

Assange must be in urgent need of money, what with the Bank of America, PayPal, Visa and Mastercard becoming social and moral arbiters, and cutting off his life support - that and a few legal bills.  He has a $1.5M book deal, which includes a publisher in the US and in Britain ... here

December 26, 2010

Sinners not Saints

America should call St Kilda Football Club for tips on how to deal with Julian Assange and Wikileaks.  These guys are good at playing the victim and they seem to have better lawyers than US Defence.  If  Assange was up against St Kilda, he'd be in jail and likely convicted by now, if not actually convicted, then certainly paraded in the streets, tarred, feathered and thoroughly vilified. 

Big boys do cry, just ask big boy captain Nick Riewoldt.  Poor baby, he's humiliated and upset at naked photo's - the taking of which he was fully aware and cooperative - his girlfriend and family have been embarrassed and upset.  Nick Riewoldt is 28 years old and apparently so profoundly modest that he's never before been seen naked (well, by anyone except his footy mates, which is not at all mortifying).  Standing about being photographed naked in a hotel room by his team mate must have been an aberration for the delicate Riewoldt.  His sensibilities have been offended by the publication of those photographs on the interwebs.

The girl seeking payback copied the photo's from a PC owned by the St Kilda player with whom she was in a sexual relationship for a short while, when she was just 16 years old.  It may have been a short fling, but it was long enough to fall pregnant twice, once with twins that ended in a miscarriage, and secondly with a baby still born in October this year, or so she claims.  She is now 17 years old and her family has all but disowned her.

To her credit, she has been pristinely honest about her motivation for circulating the naked pictures:  revenge - plain, simple revenge.  I almost wish she had better ammunition going for her than a bunch of uncontroversial naked photos - although via a court order, she has been forced to agreed to destroy all photos of naked St Kilda players in her possession.

It's not as though Riewoldt or his chums were getting blow jobs from puppies (and a big hello to Canberra rugby players!).  I gather they were doing nothing more than standing around sans clothes.  Hardly what you'd call controversial, even if it does seem a little gay that they sleep naked when sharing hotel rooms together and take naked pics of one another.

Last year, and probably to this day, a naked photo of Laura Bingle was passed around the entire country, via the AFL - the same AFL that is currently going  into meltdown over naked pictures of their players.  No one gave a toss about Bingle.  The AFL players sneered, as did the public.  Bingle had not been a cooperative participant in the taking of that photograph.

On the one hand we have the chief of the AFL insisting that they have offered to pay for continued professional counselling for the troubled teenager, on the other we have St Kilda threatening - THREATENING - the 17 year old with legal action to gain a legal financial penalty that they would request be enforced for the next 15 years.

This is obscene.  I can't think of a more blatant case of brutal public bullying in recent times, and yet no one - not a single journalist, certainly not the AFL, and not the players, and not even her family - is defending - or protecting -  her.

Sexually used by a  St Kilda player at the age of 16, pregnant twice (her claim), both conceptions ending sadly (her claim), by the age of 17, and now the bully boys have their lawyers threatening to chase her for money for the next 15 years.

Despicable.  The AFL, and St Kilda in particular, should be deeply ashamed, and so should the public, for not speaking up.

The story is obscene, but not because a few people got to see "Saint Nick" naked.  What a whuz of a man, a pathetic bleating little boy.  He's not threatening to sue Sam Gilbert, the player and team mate who took the photos and saved them to his computer for more than a year, despite being asked to delete them from his camera.  Of course, why Riewoldt and the others didn't have the brains to sit there (naked) and scroll through the shots deleting them from the camera themselves, as soon as they'd been taken, is a question that we can be certain will never be answered.   Too brainless, would seem the obvious explanation.

The major development in the last day or so is that "Saint Nick" will not lose his sponsors over the controversy - so newsworthy it warranted a major headline.  And why on earth would he lose sponsors?  He allowed Gilbert to photograph him naked, nothing else.  Big whoop.

Compared to this lot, Laura Bingle is a shining example of dignity, discretion and intelligence.

Riewoldt, Gilbert and the entire St Kilda football club need to grow up, and to grow a pair - between them.

Sadly, the unnamed 17 year old girl claims to still be in love with low life Sam Gilbert.

She is also, as far as I understand it, the same girl at the centre of the suspension of a senior police officer ... here

She needs help, now, bad, soon.

A teenager in need of help (not off the rails ...) 

Sponsor Linen House backs "Saint Nick Riewoldt"

Thieves’ Paradise

We should not kid ourselves that the foxes aren't still ruling the chicken pen.  We have learned nothing and the rulers of the universe are gleeful.

While these pieces relate to America, our local banks are made of the same stuff, with the added teflon coating of a rudely robust economy and pathetically acquiescent  Australian government and Australian populace.
Among the unfortunate legacies of the financial crisis of 2008 is a tendency among commentators to soft-pedal the outrage over what happened. In too many accounts, blame is considered impossible to assign given the complexities of modern-day finance. Those inclined to point fingers at Wall Street or Washington are frequently derided as innocents who do not grasp how the world really works.

The result is an apologia that goes something like this: Mistakes were made, despite the best intentions of financial professionals. Bankers lent too much money to poor people who never should have bought homes. Models used to measure risk broke down, and regulators were swamped. All of this was a shame, but accidents are a part of life, and an unavoidable part of the swashbuckling style of capitalism that has enriched Americans for generations.

Nonsense, Matt Taibbi says. In “Griftopia,” a relentlessly disturbing, penetrating exploration of the root causes of the trauma that upended economic security in millions of American homes, Taibbi argues that what unfolded was far from accidental. Rather, the nation suffered the equivalent of a hostile takeover of key areas of its commercial life by investment banking houses, while regulators and members of Congress abdicated their responsibilities either because they were influenced by campaign cash or because they believed the fairy tale that unsupervised markets always work best. The result, Taibbi asserts, was a thieves’ paradise — Griftopia.
 And nothing has changed:
The villains of the last crisis, he observes, are the same people now tasked with preventing the next one.“We live in an economy that is immensely complex, and we are completely at the mercy of the small group of people who understand it — who incidentally often happen to be the same people who built these wildly complex economic systems,” he writes. “We have to trust these people to do the right thing, but we can’t, because, well, they’re scum. Which is kind of a big problem, when you think about it.”
Meanwhile, the derivatives market, born of a legitimate and transparent means by which farmers could protect their future earnings, and only later appropriated by the financial markets for more odious (and hugely profitable - and costly to the rest of us) reasons, remains firmly in the grips of the big American banks, and continues to operate behind opaque curtains.  The smoke and mirrors financial market remains in tact, unbowed.
The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available. 

Banks’ influence over this market, and over clearinghouses like the one this select group advises, has costly implications for businesses large and small ...

One former regulator warned against deferring to the banks. Theo Lubke, who until this fall oversaw the derivatives reforms at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said banks do not always think of the market as a whole as they help write rules. 

“Fundamentally, the banks are not good at self-regulation,” Mr. Lubke said in a panel last March at Columbia University. “That’s not their expertise, that’s not their primary interest.” 
No shit Sherlock.  But then again, stating the obvious over and over and over again is proving to be fruitless. 

Book review - Giftopia - Matt Taibbi

Secretive banking elite rules derivatives

December 25, 2010

Christmas fun for the whole family!

When the food and the drink run out and family snipping threatens to ruin Christmas Day, not to mention ruining goodwill and peace on Earth, here's a game to unite and entertain all ages - Impact:  Earth!

Keep the family smiling and laughing all afternoon finding out the effect of different sized asteroids  hitting Earth.  Your can type in the size of hypothetical hit, the speed, angle of entry,  your location at the time of the blast, and even the type of rock (you want porous or density with that asteroid?). 

Depending on your data input, additional analysis will be available in pop up boxes, where the family can add terms such as "ejecta" to their daily vocabularly, without referencing to nasal spray technology, as in:

"At your position there is a fine dusting of ejecta with occasional larger fragments."

Have a great Christmas day!

December 24, 2010

December 22, 2010

Wednesday Wisdom

There go the people - I must follow them, for I am their leader.

Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin

December 20, 2010

Wedding at the Lodge

Forget Wills and Kate, Julia and Tim should divert attention from local politics and boat people by:

a)  announcing their engagement

b) issuing regular tweets on wedding preparations

c) holding a lucky dip for members of the public to be groomsmen, bridesmaids and little people looking cute in grown-up clothes

d) selling the telly rights

e) breaking up at least once during the engagement

f) disagreeing on the wedding cake

g) each of them getting a new hairdresser

h) leaking transcripts of the diplomatic discussions on seating arrangements

i) getting married roughly six months out from the next election

j) not inviting Kev or Tony 

k) adopting one or two adorable mocha coloured foreign babies roughly three months out from the next election

l) doing all of the above while not once claiming to be "real".

Bejewelled Julia

December 19, 2010

W-leaks re-branding

WikiLeaks has sought and followed legal counsel in recent times: 

- The  submissions page now reads: “WikiLeaks accepts a range of material, but we do not solicit it."

- The word “classified” has been deleted from a description of the kinds of material it accepts.

- An earlier assertion stated: “Submitting confidential material to WikiLeaks is safe, easy and protected by law".  Now modified to the slightly less assuring:  “Submitting documents to our journalists is protected by law in better democracies.”

- W-leaks has also started tossing about the words "news" and "journalist" on its pages, presumably to rebadge, in case they ever need to call upon the US first amendment in a big way.

On the other hand, the recent strategic switch, stemming, we assume, from frustration over the continued cult status of W-leaks, was all Assange's work, with nary a legal mind needed.

- Putting both big toes into journalistic waters, and reflecting Assange's strategic partnership arrangement with MSM for garnering maximum impact for the cache of diplomatic cables, Wikileaks no longer describes itself as being the passive recipient and publisher of raw data.  Nowadays its primary work is filtering and analyzing documents, even though that work has been, in the case of the cables, performed by MSM journalists, rather than W-leaks.  More accurately describing the re-branding, the site also states:  “journalists write news stories based on the material, and then provide a link to the supporting documentation to prove our stories are true.”

Now, to stay in business, all they need are a couple of mega-leaks per year from any country in the world, from the public or private sectors.

What are the odds of such a juicy and lucrative deluge?

The less we know the better

This is why we don't really want to know too much about other people.

Results from an underwear survey:

More than a quarter of men admit to wearing the same undies for two days running, with 7 percent of women doing the same.

A further 14 percent of men and 3 percent of women go for three days or longer without a clean change.

A vomit inducing 25 percent not only own smalls that are more than a decade old, but they still wear them. 

Tests detected bacteria on 83 percent of undies over one year old.

Only half of the surveyed women admitted to wearing mismatched lingerie (ha!) and one in six had holes in them.

Altogether now:  icky, icky eewe!

December 17, 2010

December 15, 2010

Small wish for honesty in journalism

Dear Journalists of the Free World 

Until Julian Assange is charged with a crime of any kind, whether in Sweden or any other country, would you all mind reporting truthfully?

Like writing and saying that he is "wanted for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation in Sweden", for example. 

As opposed to writing and saying that he is "charged with sexual assault offences, including rape", which is a complete lie.

Julian Assange is in jail, despite not being charged with anything in any country.

The Swedish police would like to question him in relation to an ongoing investigation. 

Since August, Assange made himself available for questioning.  Forty days and forty nights he waited in Sweden.  He waited for the police to ask him questions.  They didn't.  He asked, and they gave him permission, to leave the country.

There is no pending sexual assault trial awaiting Assange in Sweden. 

The police haven't charged him with anything.

So, if ya'all could report accurately, truthfully, that would be fabulous.

Much appreciated
Best wishes and happy holidays

A little bit normal

Maybe not so normal: Bianca Jagger allegedly turned up at the Julian Assange bail hearing in London yesterday.  So, if you've ever wondered 'whatever happened to ... ' now you know.

Caterer and alleged "long time friend" of Julian's, Sarah Saunders, described Assange, as "warm, sensitive and trustworthy".

Christine Assange, Julian's mum was there too. 

Mum Assange allegedly looked tired, and was allegedley dressed in a black suit and white collared shirt without tie.  Son Julian allegedly glanced over to her "as if in reassurance" frequently during the hearing.

Sounds much like any normal-ish, caring family to me.

Wednesday Wisdom

The only thing that stands between the ordinary person and utter depravity is opportunity. 

Oscar Wilde

December 13, 2010

Let’s not tell New Zealand

"The US and New Zealand ended a 25-year break in intelligence collaboration last year but kept the news secret, according to a leaked cable.

Washington imposed restrictions on the supply of intelligence to Wellington in the mid-1980s in response to New Zealand's nuclear-free policy.

But according to a cable sent from the US embassy to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January this year, collaboration was "fully restored" in August last year. Mrs Clinton was also warned the news "should not be acknowledged in public".

Other leaked cables showed an increase in New Zealand co-operation with US intelligence agencies and military in recent years, but again "emphasised that it is committed to avoiding publicity". According to the cables, US and New Zealand officials doubted there was public support for the closer ties and preferred to keep them secret, the report said."

Bet New Zealenders are feeling chuffed to be mentioned in the cables, and to know that their government tried not to bother their collective little heads with this information.

Here …

Phew: Iran not rogue state

“An earlier cable, sent in July 2008, records that former prime minister Kevin Rudd was ''deeply worried'' that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's intransigence concerning Tehran's nuclear program meant that the window for a diplomatic solution was closing and that ''Israel may feel forced to use 'non-diplomatic' means''.

However, ONA urged a balanced view of Tehran as a sophisticated diplomatic player rather than a ''rogue state'' liable to behave impulsively or irrationally.

Mr Varghese said ONA was telling the Australian government: ''It's a mistake to think of Iran as a 'rogue state'.''
Because President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's is such a rational, good-hearted chap, relatively, as far as these things go.
"The embassy cable reported: ''ONA analysts assessed that Tehran 'knows' about its lack of certain capabilities, but plays 'beyond its hand' very skilfully … ONA judged that Iran's activities in Iraq - both overt and covert - represented an extreme manifestation of Iranian strategic calculus, designed to 'outflank' the US in the region.''

However the Australian intelligence analysts ''asserted that … the most effective means by which Tehran could ensure its national security would be a strategic relationship with the US via some 'grand bargain'.''
Good-o. I can take Iran off my worry list.

Insert sign here: "grand bargain under construction".

Can journalists everywhere please stop writing nasty things about Iran?

Nuclear war our fear of Iran

Not the singularity, but it will set us free

Right now, I think I’m just a little be in love with Frank Skinner, so forgive me for quoting at length … Privacy lost, but you’ve got to love Wikileaks:
It's like when, in those years before the Reformation, a few brave seekers of truth printed and distributed Bibles in the vernacular, so that the people might read and judge for themselves rather than mutely accept the possibly jaundiced interpretations of their supposed betters - betters who stood to gain much from retaining the status quo.
The very name WikiLeaks reflects their brutal straightforwardness. They're completely upfront that the operation is about leaks and plenty of them.
It's a classic case of doing what it says on the tin.
In short, it's getting harder and harder for people, especially those in public life, to be unkind, deceitful, irresponsible or greedy.
People used to behave well because they thought God was watching. Now the secular world has come up with its own hidden observers.
The enigmatic elite, behind their smoke and mirrors, never pay homage to an intrusive truth. They rail at it and seek angry retribution. Let's face it, international diplomacy is just a type of lying. It's ridiculous that extremely important relationships between countries are conducted like a schoolyard romance - the fear of being oneself, the worry they'll dump you on the basis of a trifling misunderstanding and the terrible anxiety about what your friends think. If diplomats and statesmen refuse to embrace honesty, it's time that it was roughly imposed upon them.
It's true that the dispersal of significant information is a dangerous business, but isn't it time that, like those 16th-century reformers, we stopped letting a secretive elite decide what's good for us? WikiLeaks is scary. That which brings liberation can also bring bloodshed but, at the moment, I trust their motives slightly more than I trust those of any government.
WikiLeaks's aim is to illuminate, with a secondary recreational desire to embarrass. The aims of the world's governments are considerably less apparent - but not for much longer.
The truth has been released from captivity and is running wild and free. Our fear of its sharp teeth competes with our desire to look it straight in the eye.

December 12, 2010

Stop it already: David Hicks is no Julian Assange

We humans have the gift of language, yet too often we demonstrate embarrassingly stunted conceptual skills, such as when everything else must quickly be compared to something else with which we have a passing familiarty.

It's exactly like when film reviews insist on helping us make a decision, as if we are imbeciles or five years old:  "if you like Film A you will like Film B" - even if the films have nothing more in common than being made in Hollywood. 

Even some of the best minds publicly jumping to the defence of Julian Assange have dragged out the "like David Hicks" analogy.
The two cases are not fungible. Not in action or intent, moral or political context, nor legal circumstance.

Goodness knows the two individuals are sitting at extremes from each other no matter the linear scale you'd like to nominate.

You need to scratch around to invent any scrap of comparability.  Assange and Wikileaks would be best served if people move on from the analogy.  Quickly!

Slowly, the left jumps on board

Cute cartoon in The Australian yesterday, which I can't find online:

PM speech bubble:  Any idea how Howard got away with David Hicks?
AG speech bubble: I'm just checking Wikileaks for clues.

The ALP left finally objects to the government's stand on Julian Assange, having taken more than a week to collect its thoughts ... Gillard's left flank revolts over Assange.

Our AG continues to struggle with basic concepts:
" ... asked to clarify the government's position, Mr McClelland repeated his assertion that it would be illegal in Australia to obtain or distribute classified documents.

"I said by way of analogy that if . . . serving military personnel or officer of the commonwealth had access to a similar database in Australia and took confidential national security classified information off that website and revealed it, I have no doubt it would raise issues of potential criminality."
And again:  Julian Assange didn't steal anything, and nothing was stolen in Australia.  As far as I know, Private Bradley Manning hasn't put his hand up to seek refuge in Australia either, so the AG doesn't have any intellectually or politically challenging problems on his plate right this minute.

Christopher Hitchens leans right - a bit amusing, given that Assange identifies with libertarians, rather than the left - but seems to misunderstand the person and the topic, and being not entirely sure what he's arguing for or against:
"The cunning of the strategy set by Julian Assange, the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, is that he has made everyone complicit in his own private decision to try to sabotage US foreign policy.

Unless you consider yourself bound by the hysterically stupid decision of the Obama administration to forbid all federal employees from downloading or viewing the WikiLeaks papers, you will at the very least have indulged in a certain amount of guilty pleasure.
Well Hitch, given that the actual collaborators were newspapers, and given that newspapers are still deemed the most legitimate mass distributors of information, I doubt that anyone felt guilty doing what they usually do:  reading the daily news.  The cables are far less grubby than much of the flotsam that nowadays passes for news.  Those cables were firstly redacted by the newspapers, and the redacted versions were the very same that Wikileaks published.  Wikileaks asked the US State Department for help with editing, but the request was declined. 

But wait!  Out of nowhere, Hitch finds himself with one leg uncomfortably on either side of the fence, the cables (stolen by someone other than Julian Assange), had some wider value, and warranted publication, in some instances (those instances being judged solely by Hitchens):
"In a couple of important instances, the disclosures are of great value to the regime-change diehards among us."
The key take outs from this:  Assange is "cunning" while Hitchens is a "diehard". 

But enough of the gushing praise, Hitchens gallops into a fantasy fueled psychological evaluation, none of which is supported by the few journalists who have met the man in question and who have analysed in great detail what it means to be Julian Assange:
"The man is plainly a micro-megalomaniac [I didn't know megalomaniacs came in different sizes; I thought "mega" was definitive in itself - Ed] with few if any scruples and an undisguised agenda.

As I wrote before, when he says his aim is "to end two wars", one knows at once what he means by the "ending". [No, we don't.  Spell out your deepest paranoia's next time Hitch - Ed]

In his fantasies he is probably [Can't be sure, haven't met or interviewed him, so lets take a school-boy stab at it - Ed] some kind of guerilla warrior, but in the real world he is a middleman and peddler who resents the civilisation that nurtured him. [By all accounts Assange is quite civilized.  Probably even uses a knife and fork when he eats - Ed]

Recently, in two separate news reports, The New York Times described his little cabal as an anti-secrecy and whistleblowing outfit.

Such mush-headed approval at least can be withheld from the delightful Assange, even as we all help ourselves to his market of ill-gotten goods."
 A little less mush-headed Hitchens might serve us all better.

Ditto the hand-me-down fluff from Miranda Divine who today (in her "influential column") rolled out what she believes must be a true description of all geeks, asserting that Assange is a "socially inept loner". 

By all reliable public reporting, he is charming and absorbing company.   The quite forensic narratives of his days in Sweden, in August, suggest that he was socially, not just sexually, surrounded, and quite enjoying himself.   Even the women whose accusations later resulted in the pending sexual assault charges against him continued to socialize with him following their assaults, one throwing a party for him, the other in going out to breakfast.  A tweet from one of the women (now deleted), three days after Assange allegedly raped her boasted that she was hanging out with THE COOLEST people ... that would be Assange.

Middleman peddles his ill gotten gains

The less than influential or accurate Miranda Divine

December 10, 2010

Wikileakers abandon Assange; world leaders embrace him

With a small band of former associates stepping up their inner egos and more publicly turning on him (and getting the usual turncoat book deals), a ‘growing band of international leaders’ have broken rank with the US and Australian by coming out in support of Assange.  Among them, bizzarely, Vladimir Putin, who has described Assange’s detention in Britain as “undemocratic”.

Weird but true.  

Even weirder:  Russians are calling for Assange to be nominated for the Noble Peace Prize, which might be a step too far.  

Former Wikileaks employees – to henceforth be known as “defectors” – are variously describing Assange as:

-         autocratic
-         capricious
-         emperor
-         slave trader
-         non-consultative
-         not a king
-         not a god
-         not a leader

The defectors are going to launch a Wikileaks rival site next week, called Openleaks.  The new organisation will not host documents itself, preferring to be an intermediary between all interested parties, including MSM.

Openleaks, so the new leaders say, will be run democratically by all members.  (Good luck with that.)

The defecting group, along with their complaints and new aspirations, are par of the course for any organisation that is essentially the brainchild of an individual or small group:  when that initial cell grows, out of necessity, there comes a point when the peons feel ownership over the beast that they begin to believe they should be running the place.  It’s a dirt common scenario in business.  (It’s not unlike people who buy a house next to a pub and then insist on noise laws being changed because music and drunken customers are keeping then up at night.  Should have noticed that before you moved in ...) Did any of them think Assange was the type to consult and mollycoddle?  

Assange: "I am the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier and all the rest. If you have a problem with me, piss off."

His idea, his money, his baby, his rules. 

In between launching the rival site, Assange’s former right hand man, Daniel Domschelt-Berg, is writing a tell-all book -  Inside WikiLeaks: My Time at the World's Most Dangerous Website.   
One way or another, the defectors will continue to make a healthy living off their former boss. 

Funnies to note:

- In 2011 the U.S will host “World Press Freedom Day”.

- Joe Lieberman is a member of the “Global Internet Freedom Caucus” and also sponsored a bill to support “Internet censorship victims” in Iran.

Our Attorney General deeply confused

“… McClelland simply repeated loose claims that Mr Assange might have committed an offence.
He said that obtaining and distributing information that put national security at risk was likely to be an offence in the US.
''Certainly to release that sort of information by an officer of the Commonwealth, if it were Australian material, would in my view certainly involve criminality,'' he said.”

Which might be a relevant observation if Julian Assange, or the relevant junior member of the US army, were dealing in leaked Australian material, or if they, or anyone else directly or indirectly involved, was “an officer of the Commonwealth”.

But they’re fucking-well-not.

McClelland may as well have blithered: “Certainly if people were shot dead, and if they were shot dead on Australian soil, that would in my view certainly involve criminality.”

Yes, certainly. And certainly fucking irrelevant.

Truly, between the two of them, Gillard and McClelland have repeatedly displayed a level of dimwittedness that is starting to grate.

Aussie lawyers call for protection for Assange

Duck Friday

December 9, 2010

Will the world's governments now join hands to shut down pornography?

Now that the governments of the world and private sector companies have shown that they are   highly capable and efficient at shutting down targeted web sites - if the will is strong enough - can we expect to seem them join hands in a real show of strength and morality by cooperating to shut down online child pornography sites and of the more repellent, degrading online pornography sites?

Will PayPal and Visa ensure that payments cannot be made or accepted to such sites?

Come on guys and gals:  you can't fool us anymore, we've seen your handy work, and it's almost impressive.

Meanwhile, several days ago, the shrill Sarah Palin demanded to know why Julian Assange hasn't been pursued with the same vigor as Osama bin Laden.

(I'll pause here for three seconds while you contemplate that analogy.)

Now that I've stopped being entirely hysterical about this whole thing, I've realized that was Palin's mangled way of expressing full support for Assange's continued well being and unadulterated freedom.   Nice one Sarah!


Had not read this earlier - YEAH!  

Excellent outcome achieved by global - and some key local - hackers.  Very nice! 
The organisation facilitating Visa and Mastercard payments to WikiLeaks, DataCell ehf, said in a statement that it was taking ‘‘immediate legal actions to make donations possible again’’.

‘‘We strongly believe a world class company such as Visa should not get involved by politics and just simply do their business where they are good at. Transferring money,’’ chief executive Andreas Fink wrote.

‘‘They have no problem transferring money for other businesses such as gambling sites, pornography services and the like so why a donation to a Website which is holding up for human rights should be morally any worse than that is outside of my understanding.’’ [Yes, exactly!  Why did it take you so long to figure it out?]

Best blow back ev - aarrhh

Wikileaks is currently mirrored on 1,334 sites (updated 2010-12-08 22:43 GMT)- thats another 600 sites since yesterday am, the day before there was only 300.

At this rate there will be 80,530,636,800 Wiki sites in another 29 days. Yep more than 80 trillion mirrors.

Is that what you call blow back?
Yes, yes, YES

Blow back doesn't get any cooler.

Vote Now: Julian Assange – Person of the Year

Recent events have resulted in a nice bump in votes for Julian Assange as Time’s 2010 person of the year.

There’s no point getting carried away about the online count, since the editors reserve the right to choose whoever they wish, with no reference to the popular vote.  Apart from that, the winner is announced next Wednesday, so the cover had no doubt already gone to press, under tight security, of course.

Dumb and embarrassing juxtaposition:

- Julian Assange currently ranked one
- Lady Gaga currently ranked three.

 (*Collective rolling of eyes*)

Vote here …. it’s not a vote by radio button; you slide the ruler along, however far you choose.  I’d suggest slide it straight to 100, or thereabouts.

And while we’re getting into symbolic gestures, because that’s about all any of us can contribute (unless you're a hacker extraordinaire), and because sometimes the gesture does matter, sign the online petition to the American government (as highlighted by Jacob earlier today):

Petition US Government here ... 

American prosecutors fishing for Assange

 The US Justice Department is tying itself in knots to ensure that Julian Assange becomes the martyr and generational chasm of the coming decade; even if the department does nothing more sinister than bleat (unlikely), the outcome is pretty much sealed:
The Justice Department, in considering whether and how it might indict Julian Assange, is looking beyond the Espionage Act of 1917 to other possible offenses, including conspiracy or trafficking in stolen property, according to officials familiar with the investigation.

Wikileaks prosecution studied by Justice Department

Washington waiting for Assange … WTF?

One is inclined to assume – and hope – that this is nothing more than scuttle buck; speculative nonsense:

“According to diplomatic sources reported in London, informal talks have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility that Mr Assange be delivered to American custody.
Senior legal sources in London said the ''big fear [is] that if he is extradited they will send him to America and he will disappear''.
Legal team prepares fresh bail bid

Not protected now Arbib

FEDERAL minister and right-wing Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib has been revealed as a confidential contact of the United States embassy in Canberra, providing inside information and commentary for Washington on the workings of the Australian government and the Labor Party.
Secret US embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to The Age reveal that Senator Arbib, one of the architects of Kevin Rudd's removal as prime minister, has been in regular contact with US embassy officers.
His candid comments have been incorporated into reports to Washington with repeated requests that his identity as a ''protected'' source be guarded.
"He understands the importance of supporting a vibrant relationship with the US while not being too deferential. We have found him personable, confident and articulate,'' an embassy profile on Senator Arbib written in July 2009 says. "He has met with us repeatedly throughout his political rise.''
Other Labor politicians reported in US embassy cables as regular contacts include former federal MP and minister Bob McMullan and Michael Danby, the Labor member for Melbourne Ports.
Senator Mark Arbib – secret dibber dobber to the US

December 8, 2010

The broken leaky condom

James D. Catlin, a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia, says that Sweden’s justice system is destined to become “the laughingstock of the world” for investigating rape charges in two cases where women complained that Assange had had sex with them without using a condom.

Catlin was retained by Assange for a short time in October.  Caitlin says that both of the accusers “boast[ed] of their respective conquests” after the alleged crimes had been committed. “The Swedes are making it up as they go along,” he wrote (see below).

Catlin’s claims add fuel to speculation that Sweden’s investigation of Assange is politically motivated.

The article appeared in Crikey.

Apparently having consensual sex in Sweden without a condom is punishable by a term of imprisonment of a minimum of two years for rape. That is the basis for a reinstitution of rape charges against WikiLeaks figurehead Julian Assange that is destined to make Sweden and its justice system the laughing stock of the world and dramatically damage its reputation as a model of modernity.

Sweden’s Public Prosecutor’s Office was embarrassed in August this year when it leaked to the media that it was seeking to arrest Assange for rape, then on the same day withdrew the arrest warrant because in its own words there was “no evidence”. The damage to Assange’s reputation is incalculable. More than three quarters of internet references to his name refer to rape. Now, three months on and three prosecutors later, the Swedes seem to be clear on their basis to proceed. Consensual sex that started out with a condom ended up without one, ergo, the sex was not consensual.

Catlin also said that the two alleged victims — whom he names in the article — boasted of their sexual “conquests” online after the incidents took place.

They sought advice together, having collaborated and irrevocably tainted each other’s evidence beforehand. Their SMS texts to each other show a plan to contact the Swedish newspaper Expressen beforehand in order to maximise the damage to Assange. They belong to the same political group and attended a public lecture given by Assange and organised by them.

According to an August report in the Daily Mail, both of the accusers’ complaints stem from lack of condom use. In the case of “Woman A,” as the Daily Mail identifies her, a condom broke during intercourse. In the case of “Woman B,” Assange reportedly did not use a condom during a second round of intercourse.

Catlin states that neither of the women’s police statements “complain of rape.”…

From a local MSM report (crap, which one?!), this classic quote:

“Mr. Assange has denied any wrongdoing and suggested that the charges were trumped up in retaliation for his WikiLeaks work, though there is no public evidence to suggest a connection [emphasis added].
Err, no, no there isn't.  

Not that any one of us would have a clue what such evidence might look like.  

(Oh, okay:  it might look like a cable from a diplomat.  Sure, that would suffice as "public evidence".)

Rudd and Assange, together again

Hell's bells, stuff everyone in the antipodes already knew:
''Rudd … undoubtedly believes that with his intellect, his six years as a diplomat in the 1980s and his five years as shadow foreign minister, he has the background and the ability to direct Australia's foreign policy. His performance so far, however, demonstrates that he does not have the staff or the experience to do the job properly,'' the embassy bluntly observed in November 2009.

The cables show how initially favourable American impressions of Mr Rudd, as ''a safe pair of hands'', were quickly replaced by sharp criticism of his micromanagement and mishandling of diplomacy as he focused on photo and media opportunities.

In concluding his assessment, Mr Clune suggested that Mr Rudd's ''haphazard, overly secretive decision-making process'' would continue to generate foreign policy problems.

Seven months later, Mr Rudd lost the prime ministership, but he remains very much in charge of Australia's diplomacy.”
Rudd, as is his way, shrugged off the vigorous content of the diplomatic commentary.  

Meanwhile, in an instance of our taxes being used appropriately, Rudd has confirmed that Julian Assange is receiving Australian support in London:

"Mr Rudd said Mr Assange had the right to the presumption of innocence.

He said he spoke on Wednesday morning with Australia’s high commissioner in London to ensure Mr Assange was getting the assistance he was entitled to as an Australian national.

He said Australian consular officials attended Mr Assange’s London court hearing and had arranged to have regular visits with him.”
Irony upon irony, Rudd's public statements about Assange have been superbly diplomatic and crisply measured. Unlike our PM, who has backed down on her initial brassy comments, when she was urgently in search of a law under which to charge Assange in this country. She now seems to think that the "leak" was illegal, rather than the publication of such. (Yeah, she has a law degree; just took her a few days to remember where she'd put it.)

Robbo to the rescue!

Yeah: Geoffery Robertson to defend Assange.

Good to see our home grown human rights barrister stepping into the fray. No real surprise that he has been in touch with Assange for some time, and awfully good of Robbo to cut into his annual family holiday in Sydney.

The legal team intend, in the first instance, to fight the Swedish extradition.

Wednesday Wisdom

 If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it?

Albert Einstein

December 5, 2010

This is what a witch hunt looks like

Our Prime Minister and sundry local pollies, along with American and British representatives, are so convinced that Julian Assange is committing illegal actions that they can't tell us what the charges will be - when they catch him, and they will.

In Australia, which is not the source of any leaking or the site of Wikileaks web hosting, Gillard and her echoes are so certain of Assange's criminality and risk to democracy and world peace that they've assigned an entire battlefield of Australian soldiers, intelligence officers and officials to investigate whether Assange has breached any Australian laws.

Soldiers are on the case!

Intelligence officers are on the case!

Officials are on the case!

I assume a few lawyers have also been asked to contribute to the witch legal hunt. 

A couple of months ago Assange was accused of rape.  In general, given the tiny proportion of rapes reported to police, and the even tinier proportion of that number resulting in convictions (most rapists walk free), I'm inclined to assume guilt, or at the least something iffy going on.  Not so when I first heard of the allegations against Assange.  Sure as shit a set-up.  As bold as brass and as clear as daylight.  The arrest warrant is at the ready, and Assange will be in jail soon enough, for something he didn't do, but it will keep him off the streets and away from computers, possibly for years.

I'm not fond of consipiracy theories; for the most part, don't even find them amusing, but I suddenly see a conspiracy sprouting on the anus of democracy, and it's making me a little queezy.
"AS THE net [err, that was no pun intended, right?] closes around WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the notorious whistleblower has accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard of betraying him as an Australian citizen in her eagerness to help the United States attack him and his organisation.

So far, the only charges that may be brought against Mr Assange relate to an alleged sex assault in Sweden. Mr Assange's lawyer in London, Mark Stephens, said that neither he nor Scotland Yard had received the new arrest warrant from Sweden. Mr Assange has denied the sex assault allegations.
[In relation to Assange's son, who lives in Oz and has posted online in defense of his father - and good for him ... ] The 20-year-old software developer's comments were posted on an American blogger's website yesterday in response to the blogger's calls for the former Box Hill High student to be physically harmed or kidnapped in a bid to flush out his father."
Because that's what democracy, capitalism and the free world is all about, right?

Assange has and will continue to provide an organisation and infrastructure for receipt and publication of material that would otherwise never be made available to the public.  Much in the way that old media has always done, albeit, less so nowadays, given all the cutting and slashing of investigative journalists and budgets.

So too MSM outlets republish Wikileaks content.  Some are even given pre-launch preview material, so that they have plenty of time to read, assess, and edit their own copy - hot off the press as soon as Wikileaks hits the publish button.

If Assange is guilty of a crime, so too are hundreds of media outlets, and regardless of whether they are all charged and found guilty (ha!), or only Assange is deemed chargeable and guilty, our collective trip in a hand-basket to the seventh level of hell will be swift.

The fifth estate, if ever it were to stand up and fight to the death - now is that moment.

PM has betrayed me: Assange

December 4, 2010

Top Cables

Come to think of it, trawling through your diary from when you were ten might be more interesting than some of this stuff.

“[Muammar al-Qadhafi] appears to have an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors, reportedly prefers not to fly over water, and seems to enjoy horse racing and flamenco dancing. …Qadhafi relies heavily on his long-time Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Kolotnytska, who has been described as a ‘voluptuous blonde.’ Of the rumored staff of four Ukrainian nurses that cater to the Leader’s health and well-being, XXXXXXXXXXX emphasized to multiple Emboffs that Qadhafi cannot travel without Kolotnytska, as she alone “knows his routine.’” 

“Kim told [Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo] that he had hoped to invite the Chinese official to share some liquor and wine, but that because of scheduling problems, he would have to defer the offer to Dai's next visit to North Korea. Kim Jong-il had a reputation among the Chinese for being ‘quite a good drinker.’” 

"[A]t 8:00 p.m. the compound was invaded by dozens of heavily armed mujahedin for the grand entrance of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. ... Ramzan, who danced clumsily with his gold-plated automatic stuck down in the back of his jeans (a houseguest later pointed out that the gold housing eliminated any practical use of the gun, but smirked that Ramzan probably couldn't fire it anyway). … Ramzan showered the dancing children with hundred dollar bills; the dancers probably picked upwards of USD 5000 off the cobblestones. Gadzhi told us later that Ramzan had brought the happy couple ‘a five kilo lump of gold’ as his wedding present. After the dancing and a quick tour of the premises, Ramzan and his army drove off back to Chechnya. We asked why Ramzan did not spend the night in Makhachkala, and were told, ‘Ramzan never spends the night anywhere.'"

Silvio Berlusconi is described as "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader"; what’s more, his "frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest."
"Last Ramadan, when Erdogan got locked inside his armored car after collapsing from low blood sugar, his bodyguard Halit grabbed a sledgehammer from a nearby construction site and smashed the windshield[d] to break Erdogan out (Mercedes was apparently upset that it only took him six minutes). Despite the fiasco, made much of in the press, Halit kept his job; the PM viewed his action as one of true devotion and love for the Prime Minister."

"[Commonwealth Political Director Amitav Banerji] acknowledged that heir-apparent to the British Crown, Prince Charles, does not 'command the same respect' as the Queen."
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is described as "an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts but was instead easily swayed by anyone who came to report even the most bizarre stories or plots against him."

[I]n a major miscalculation in image management, Sarkozy paraded for media coverage his billionaire-life-style affair with former supermodel and current First Lady Carla Bruni-Tedeschi, whom he married within weeks of meeting her following his divorce from his second wife, Cecelia Sarkozy. The media that he had drawn in to project himself as a hyper-energetic, no-nonsense reformer dedicated to solving the problems of ordinary French people, took its vengeance, portraying Sarkozy as a vulgar, insecure celebrity-worshipper focused only on himself and his place in the limelight. The ensuing, widespread sense among the public that Sarkozy didn't really care about the problems of ordinary people sent the president's popularity plummeting.” 

Today's take out lesson:  if looking to purchase a personal armored vehicle, don't buy a Mercedes.

Good or Evil?

One way or another, we all leak.

Seasoned hacker and all 'round Aussie, Julian Assange, is not, contrary to mass beliefs and mass media coverage, a leaker.

Assange accepts and arranges publication of material from leakers.  It can't ever be otherwise, since Assange has no access to anything of sensitivity or note.  Unless he gets back into the hacking game, that's likely to continue to be the case.  He's a dealer in second hand goods, the front guy for the equivalent of a pawn shop for chronic leakers.

What we know from the latest leaking is that president of France is short and a bit of a loose cannon, Russia is not a glowing example of democracy, Pakistan is a worry and everyone tip toes around China.

Oh, and the British royals are, well, dunderheads.

We have also had confirmed that diplomats do the equivalent of gossip for about 80% of their working day - not astonishing; that's the business they're in. They can't shut the fuck up and they spend a lot of time doing the equivalent of shooting-off group SMSs, which, as has been evidenced, results in an awful lot of "diplomatic cables" - squillions of the damned things.

The response to Hillary Clinton from one of her counterparts was along the lines of "don't worry about it, you should hear what we say about you" (indeed, she - and we - probably will), which is pretty much the most sensible and thoughtful comment to hit the public sphere so far.

Most of the cables published are not classified (albeit, Wikileaks is currently without a home, having been bumped by their host, for reasons they claim are not political, rather, the action was to protect their other users).

There are more cables to come, including a cache related to Australia, and an alleged big leak of something entirely non-specific, but 'lid blowing' in relation to 'big business'.  Now the latter would be great fun, if we ever get to see it.  The truly ugly mind of the rulers of the universe deserve to be smeared all over town. 

Raw look at US diplomacy 

To publish or not to publish

Catalyst for transparency or lockdown?

Misfit hacker to enemy of the state

Wikileaks next target big business

Wikileaks and the art of shutting up 

Sarah Palin gets hysterical about Julian Assange

Leaked cables stir resentment and shrugs

December 3, 2010

Here’s hoping!

Contingent on analysis of climate data for the final quarter of the year, the United Nations weather agency says 2010 is almost certain'' to rank as one of the hottest three years ever while the past decade is already the warmest period since climate data began in 1850.

Fingers crossed!

The "top" (as opposed to the bottom?) weather agency said that sea and land surface air temperatures for 2010 are currently estimated at 0.55C above the 1961-1990 annual average.

Which means it has taken sixty years for average air temperatures to rise by half a degree. Imagine how hideously unbearable Earth will be by 2070 if climate change continues at this rampant rate!

The declaration (or not) of “hottest three years ever!!!” will be based on 160 years of climate data, representing approximately 0.0000033% of Earth’s time span*. 

The declaration (or not) will be issued with much whooping by the UN "weather" agency, who will take great care to state that rather than presenting statements about "weather data", they have analyzed and determined "climate data" trends.  

Weather, climate, extreme events - shouldn't they be congruent in what they think they're doing and what they're actually doing.  Anyone would think it was a mere game of rhetoric; extreme upmanship in weasel words.

* With billions represented with nine zero’s, as is the US and scientific community custom (versus the rest of the world, which uses 12 zeros when representing billions, ie, bi – times two, ditto tri – times three …).


Two headlines from today’s local tabloid:

Oprah Winfrey set to come on down to Melbourne

Locust swarm headed towards northern Victoria.

Duck Friday

December 1, 2010

Narcissism under threat

In the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders five personality disorders that are listed in the current edition will be eliminated, including narcissistic personality disorder.

Don't worry: you have until 2013 - when the new edition comes out; and yes, hasn't this taken an eon already? -  to indulge your narcissistic self, after that, sorry, but you're bumped.

Like the rest of us, you'll revert to being a self-absorbed prat with an unappealing personality that can't be passed off as a medical illness.
Of course, the first question that should be asked is: hands up all narcissists who’ve sought a cure for their grandiose sense of self, serious miscalculation of abilities and potential and fantasies of greatness?

Out in the real world, I'm guessing that those who are armed with a narcissistic personality disorder will be nonplussed about being expunged from the DSM.

Wednesday Wisdom

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.

Bertrand Russell

November 27, 2010

The Big Day

Vote early, vote often!

I'm still tipping Big Ted, as the surprise winner.
"I think of politics like this: I'm stranded at the bottom of a gorge with two broken legs and I have to climb with my fingernails up to safety, where Marianne Faithfull from 1965 is waiting for me."
No, that wasn't an election quote from Ted, nor from John.  We can only dream of such clarity.

That was Solomon, circa 12 November, 2010, 90.7pm ADEST.

And don't forget to take a pencil sharpener.

I understand that it's the law, dating back from the early nineteen hundreds, for pencils to be provided at polling booths, but why the hell didn't they have the foresight to include the provision of a sharpening implement in that law?


Update:  polling booths closed two hours and 16 minutes ago.  Minor hoo haa in the last few  days suggesting that final result would not be known until into the week, and that it was likely to be another hung parliament.  


Let's call it:  Big Ted has won, with a clear majority.  No hung parliament, no dodgy deals with the Greens.

On an equally bright note, the Greens have failed to sweep the state off its feet, making barely a ripple in the only vote that counts. 

Update:  Rob Hulls at 9.58pm insisting that it will be a hung parliament and that the outcome won't be known for many days.

What utter tosh.

During the federal counting, neither party could muster 76 seats for the entire night of the vote.  Tonight, Libs/Nats are sitting on 45 seats, ALP on 37 - have been for a couple of hours.  Six are still undecided. 

The ALP are hanging onto 550,000 postal and pre-votes, with a stupid denial and desperation. 

Game's over guys.  Postal and pre-votes are almost uniformly 50/50.  There will be no last minute nail-biting rescue. 

November 26, 2010

Color consultant disappears in flash of ecru

Amy Wax, president of the International Association of Color Consultants North America, commenting on the US Department of Homeland Security’s intention of dropping the color-coded terrorism alert system, which stands at: red, orange, yellow, blue and green:
“… perhaps not surprisingly — colors could be an effective part of a warning system if tied to specific action. “How are we going to take those instructions and apply it to our lives?” she said. “Are we going to go to the airport, or not go to the airport?”
She said the agency’s use of “childish” primary colors like red, yellow and blue might have diluted the impact. “Purple, orange and magenta might create a sense of something that would get attention,” she said.”
Yeah, because whenever I think “magenta” I think - “To the airport, pronto!” -whether I need to fly anywhere or not.