Wednesday, August 29, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 2:00 pm
by Gerard Noonan

"THE reputation of Australian courts has slipped and its position as a bastion of free speech and human rights has eroded in recent times, says the human rights campaigner and prominent international barrister Geoffrey Robertson...He singled out recent legislation introduced by the Treasurer, Peter Costello, which introduces severe penalties for "secondary boycott" campaigners - including the media - campaigning on issues like child slavery or animal cruelty as the latest sign of restrictions on human rights and media freedom."

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 9:38 am
US officer on trial over Abu Ghraib abuse

"Two of the most serious charges against US officer Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, who is charged over the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, were dropped after an investigator acknowledged that he failed to read Jordan his rights during a 2004 interview.

Jordan has been charged with illegally approving the use of dogs in interrogations and allowing the mistreatment of prisoners to continue.

He was charged after photographs surfaced showing US military guards abusing naked detainees at the Iraqi jail in 2003 and 2004.

Jordan is the only US officer charged in connection with the abuse scandal and is pleading innocent to the remaining charges, saying he is being used as a scapegoat.

Eleven soldiers have already been convicted of abusing Iraqi detainees at the prison in 2003 and 2004.

Jordan is the last of 12 defendants to be court-martialled."


posted by @netwurker at 7:56 am
by Joel Gibson and Debra Jopson

"HUNDREDS of millions of dollars which the Federal Government says it has spent on indigenous affairs have never been spent, have been used to benefit all Australians or have gone towards opposing Aboriginal native title claims.

A significant portion of the money the Government says it has spent since 2000 - which has risen annually and reached $3 billion last year alone - was either underspent or the result of creative accounting, a Herald investigation has found.

Over the past six years, at least $30 million of the money the Government promoted as being for Aborigines was used to oppose native title and compensation claims. Spending figures have also been bloated by money spent on services that benefit everyone - such as medical centres - but the money is nevertheless described specifically as the "black dollar".

Last financial year, for example, almost $50 million of the federal spending on indigenous people was for legal aid, which the courts have recognised as a right under common law. The $500,000 estimated to be the cost of Family Court disputes involving Aborigines has also been counted..."

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Saturday, August 18, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 8:50 pm
By Robert Niles
Posted: 2007-08-17

"The Los Angeles Times this morning insulted its readers in a stunning editorial that compared Google with Osama bin Laden and showed why Times editors simply do not understand the medium that is growing to dominate the news publishing industry. A point by point rebuttal follows:

Many publishers consider the Internet, and Google in particular, a greater threat to their livelihoods than Osama bin Laden.

Who are these publishers, exactly? The Times' David Hiller? Ignore the straw man here and the reader is still left with The Times' belief that a search engine company which has helped millions of people around the world more effectively find the information they need, and that has paid publishers billions of dollars to create original content (full disclosure: including OJR and me, personally) is a greater threat to journalism and Western capitalism than a murderer who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11."
Thursday, August 16, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 4:30 pm
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates disclosed on Tuesday his foundation holds stakes in McDonald's Corp., wireless tower operator Crown Castle International Corp. and Progressive Corp., the third-largest U.S. auto insurer.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust reported its holdings as of June 30 in a quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing revealed that the trust holds 740,000 shares of McDonald's, the world's biggest restaurant company, 5 million shares of Crown Castle, and 1.5 million shares of Progressive.

The trust also reported that it had increased its stake in photography company Eastman Kodak Co. to 2.6 million shares from 100,000 shares as of March 31."

Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 7:02 am
"Much of Sydney's CBD as it appears in the satellite images on Google Maps Australia has been fuzzed out, just weeks before the APEC summit.

Google says the imagery was downgraded as a result of a "commercial issue" with a supplier, but the move has aroused speculation it was done at the request of police in order to minimise the risk of a terrorist attack during the September summit, where Sydney will play host to 21 world leaders including U.S. President George W. Bush.

Google has in the past been accused of censoring its maps due to national security concerns by governments, most recently in June when it updated its maps of Washington D.C. but maintained older, blurry images for most of the downtown area.

Users of Google Maps Australia could previously zoom in for satellite views as close as 25m above the ground in much of Sydney, but now maps of the CBD are blurry even when zoomed out to 300m.

Where users could once make out individual people, tree branches and garbage bin lids they can now only view vague outlines of objects.

Curiously, the high-resolution satellite images, which were introduced as part of a Google Maps Australia upgrade earlier this year, appear to have been rolled back to lower quality versions for the Sydney CBD only, and not for suburbs like Bondi Beach and Point Piper."
Friday, August 03, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 4:55 pm
Aust 'misused' $170m Iraq aid

A new report has found more than $170 million of Australian aid money earmarked for humanitarian relief in Iraq was misused to promote Australian economic gain.

Aid Watch says that instead of working to rebuild the Iraqi economy, Australian officials devised agreements to remove tariffs on foreign imports, including Australian wheat.

Aid Watch spokesman Flint Duxfield says the group is calling for an audit of all Australian aid to Iraq since 2003.

"Far from protecting Iraq's own food security, which was the stated objective of Australia's aid mission, Australian officials paid by AusAid focused on guaranteeing ongoing wheat contracts for Australian companies and removing subsidies and protections for Iraqi producers in ways that gave considerable advantages to Australian farmers," he said.