Friday, July 27, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 5:56 pm
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 8:57 am
by David Marr

"...Yet the Office of Film and Literature Classification will soon be hunting for men and women with the amazing ability to pick the books, films, symphonies, news broadcasts, sitcoms and sermons that "might lead a person (regardless of his or her age or any mental impairment) to engage in a terrorist act".

Philip Ruddock wants all such works banned.
We are not defenceless now. For years this country has suppressed any works that "promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence" but the Attorney-General fears that formula is too slack. With his lawyer's mind he sees the risk of insidious material slipping through the net to inspire the naive and impressionable.

It's over a year since he first tried to persuade the state and territory attorneys-general to accept this new rule banning "advocacy" of terrorism. They jacked up, alarmed by the sweeping powers he wanted to give the censors.

When the attorneys meet again in Hobart at the end of this week, Ruddock will once more be insisting his new rule be adopted by the states and territories. If they don't - and several states are still holding out - he has a bill ready and waiting to override the nation's supposedly co-operative censorship arrangements. "I am not prepared," Ruddock told Parliament in June, "to wait indefinitely to address this problem."

But what is the problem, asked the Australian Press Council, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Law Council of Australia in submissions to Ruddock's department over the past few months? Promoting terrorism is already banned, so why do we need new rules to suppress urging, advocating and praising?"

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 22, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 12:18 pm
by Daniele Fanelli

"A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home."


Saturday, July 21, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 12:34 pm
"THE crucial piece of evidence against the terrorism suspect Mohamed Haneef - that his mobile phone SIM card was found at the scene of a British car bombing - is wrong, the Australian Federal Police have admitted.

The revelation has cast a fresh cloud over police handling of the Haneef case, with scathing criticism coming from Peter Faris, a QC who has been an ardent supporter of anti-terrorism laws, and the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, expressing concern.

Federal police sources said yesterday it had been confirmed the SIM card was not found at the scene of the Glasgow Airport attack, as prosecutors had alleged during Haneef's bail hearing last weekend.

It was found in the possession of one of Haneef's cousins, Sabeel Ahmed, hundreds of kilometres away in Liverpool. The sources said they had been aware of the error for some time, but no attempt was made to correct the public record.

In Britain, a source close to the investigation confirmed the SIM card was found in Liverpool, and said the Australian police were considered a laughing stock by Britain's Metropolitan Police for allowing "such a major cock-up" to happen. "Australian police have got their wires crossed. This is very embarrassing for them. The police here are laughing at the Australian police, saying, 'What on earth have they done?' [Haneef] is clearly more of a political case than a police case."

The Herald has learnt that the prosecutor at the Brisbane bail hearing, Clive Porritt, of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, even gave the court an explanation when defence lawyers asked why Haneef would have provided his SIM card if he knew it was planned to be used for the purposes of terrorism.

Mr Porritt responded that it had been intended the SIM card would be destroyed in the planned explosion when a Jeep Cherokee was rammed into the doors of at Glasgow Airport.

A spokeswoman for the DPP, asked if Mr Porritt had provided wrong information on the SIM card to the bail hearing, responded: "It is not appropriate for us to comment on matters before the court."

In Bangalore, India, Haneef's wife, Firdous Arshiya, was visited by a junior minister from the Ministry of External Affairs, who assured her the Indian Government would try to ensure that her husband received justice.

"Every day I hear of some new problem that my husband is facing in Australia," she said. "That is why I met the minister to ask that the Indian Government put more pressure on the Australian Government."

The Minister for Immigration, Kevin Andrews, said yesterday none of the revelations would affect his decision to cancel Haneef's visa. That decision was made after Haneef was granted bail, with the minister ordering his indefinite incarceration in a detention centre.

"The minister is not reviewing his decision to cancel Dr Haneef's visa. Nothing that has been reported in the media alters his decision, which was made after advice from the AFP and was based on a broader range of information than was provided to the magistrate in the bail hearing."

However, there are suggestions Mr Andrews relied partially on other inaccurate information, contained in a federal police affidavit, when he cancelled Haneef's work visa.

The affidavit said that Haneef offered "no particular reason" for buying a one-way ticket from Brisbane to India.

However, a leaked transcript of a police interview shows Haneef explaining that his father-in-law had bought the one-way ticket for him because he had limited funds.

The affidavit also suggests Haneef admitted to having lived at a British address with the second cousins who are now being prosecuted there. But the interview transcript shows he denied living at the house at the same time.

The Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, said information given by the AFP and other sources to Mr Andrews was an "entirely separate matter" to the criminal prosecution of Haneef, with different grounds of evidence. Mr Keelty declined to answer a series of written questions from the Herald on the SIM card evidence, or the information provided to the minister.

He was asked: - Was the suggestion that the SIM card was found in the Jeep crucial to Haneef being charged? - When did police learn that the card was not in the Jeep? - Did that discovery alter his view on Haneef being charged? - If not, what evidence had police relied on? - Did he acknowledge that the bail magistrate and Mr Andrews were given incorrect information about Haneef; and - Would he consider dropping the charges?

The federal police came under ferocious attack from Dr Faris, a former head of the National Crime Authority.

The evidence mistake was a "shocking mess-up" that jeopardised the prosecution's case, he said

"You can't get something that's so central so wrong," Dr Faris told ABC radio.

"I think this is fast approaching the situation where there is not a reasonable prospect of a conviction unless there's some other evidence that we don't know about."

Dr Faris said the case showed the federal police were "way out of their depth".

Mr Keelty said Dr Faris should "keep his comments to himself". It was up to the courts to evaluate evidence.

"Submissions are made to courts every other day ... They are not evidence; they are submissions. And we need to let the court determine the value of what has been put before it."

But Mr Beattie said inconsistencies in official statements had not been properly explained, and he called on the Prime Minister, John Howard, to clarify the situation.

Until key questions were answered people would feel uneasy "and a little bit embarrassed" about the impact of the case on Australia's reputation.

"The reality is we are not mushrooms, and we shouldn't be treated like that."

Court documents released yesterday confirmed Dr Haneef would face up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted.


posted by @netwurker at 12:33 pm
'A Muslim civil rights advocate says the handling of the case of the Gold Coast doctor Mohamed Haneef has confirmed the Muslim community's worst fears.

Dr Waleed Kadous from the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network says those fears date back to the introduction of the counter-terrorism legislation last year.

Dr Kadous says the Haneef case has left many thinking "there but for the grace of God go I".

"[It was] every Muslim's fear that this could happen to him," he said.

"They can imagine being in the same situation as Haneef was in, that they left a SIM card with a relative before leaving country and then something happens a year later.

"They can imagine borrowing money from someone and paying the loan back, these are not unusual things."'

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 20, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 11:02 pm
"Some of the details of a terrorism charge against Mohamed Haneef presented in court by the prosecution may have been incorrect, reports say.

A Brisbane court was told this week a mobile phone SIM card belonging to Haneef, a Gold Coast based doctor, was found in the Jeep that smashed into Glasgow Airport on June 30.

Haneef has been charged with "recklessly" supporting a terrorist organisation, after providing the SIM card to a relative later allegedly involved in plotting the botched car bomb attacks in the UK.

However, sources in the UK and Australia have told ABC Radio the SIM card was actually seized by police eight hours later when Haneef's cousin Sabeel Ahmed was arrested in Liverpool.

Ahmed allegedly had two phones on him at the time of his arrest, one of which contained Haneef's SIM card.

Police in Britain and Australia would not comment on where the SIM card was seized."

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 06, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 12:58 pm news service
Nora Schultz

Chimps happily help out unrelated chimps and unfamiliar humans, even if it means exerting themselves for no reward, a new study shows.

True altruism – unselfish acts for another's benefit – was until recently considered uniquely human. Usually when animals cooperate, they either help relatives – thereby increasing chances of passing shared genes to the next generation – or they count on having favours returned in the future.

Now Felix Warneken and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have found that 12 out of 18 semi-wild chimpanzees went out of their way to help an unfamiliar human who was struggling to reach a stick. Watch a video of a chimp helping retrieve the stick (MPG format).

The primates did this even when they were inconvenienced – such as when they first had to climb into a 2.5-metre-high ropeway – and for no reward. Equivalent experiments with human toddlers gave similar results (video, MPG format).


posted by @netwurker at 12:54 pm news service
Debora MacKenzie

Deadly germs may be more likely to be spread due to a biodefence lab accident than a biological attack by terrorists.

Plague, anthrax, Rocky Mountain spotted fever - these are among the bioweapons some experts fear could be used in a germ warfare attack against the US. But the public has had near-misses with those diseases and others over the past five years, ironically because of accidents in labs that were working to defend against bioterrorists. Even worse, they may be only the tip of an iceberg.

The revelations come from Ed Hammond of the Sunshine Project, a biosafety pressure group based in Austin, Texas, US, who after persistent requests got the minutes of university biosafety committees using the US Freedom of Information Act. The minutes are accessible to the public by law.

There are now 20,000 people at 400 sites around the US working with putative bioweapons germs, says Hammond, 10 times more than before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Some scientists have warned for years that more people handling dangerous germs are a recipe for accidents.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 12:07 pm
"Defence Minister Brendan Nelson says securing the world's oil supply is one of the Federal Government's considerations as it decides how long to keep troops in Iraq.

The statement has prompted Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to accuse Prime Minister John Howard of "making it up as he goes along" on Iraq.

The Government released its update on national defence policy this morning, warning of the ongoing threat from terrorism and continuing problems with fragile states in our region.

Speaking ahead of the release, Dr Nelson confirmed the Government viewed Australia's involvement in Iraq as partially driven by the need to secure oil supplies, although he said the main reason was to ensure that the humanitarian crisis did not worsen."

Labels: ,

Monday, July 02, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 8:30 am
By Mark Baard
Published Saturday 23rd June 2007 09:02 GMT

'Perhaps your real life is so rich you don't have time for another.

Even so, the US Department of Defense (DOD) may already be creating a copy of you in an alternate reality to see how long you can go without food or water, or how you will respond to televised propaganda.

The DOD is developing a parallel to Planet Earth, with billions of individual "nodes" to reflect every man, woman, and child this side of the dividing line between reality and AR.

Called the Sentient World Simulation (SWS), it will be a "synthetic mirror of the real world with automated continuous calibration with respect to current real-world information", according to a concept paper for the project.

"SWS provides an environment for testing Psychological Operations (PSYOP)," the paper reads, so that military leaders can "develop and test multiple courses of action to anticipate and shape behaviors of adversaries, neutrals, and partners".'