Saturday, March 18, 2006

Australian government shuts down spoof site

Chinese-style censorship coming to a country near you!

This is what happens in countries without a Bill of Rights.

A spoof John Howard website that featured a soul searching "apology" speech for the Iraq war has been shut down under orders from the Australian Government.

Richard Neville, an Australian futurist and social commentator was "mystified" to discover his satirical website had been blocked on Tuesday with no explanation from either his web hosting company, Yahoo or the domain name registrar, Melbourne IT.

He said that after two days of silence, a customer service representative from Melbourne IT today informed him by telephone that the site had "been closed on the advice from the Australian Government".

Mr Neville's satirical "apology" speech ran on a mocked-up version of a spoof website that resembled Mr Howard's own, and after going live on Monday, received 10,500 visits within 24 hours.

Bruce Tonkin, the chief technology officer at Melbourne IT, said the site had been shut down in response to a request from the Prime Minister's office on basis that it looked too similar to its own site.

"If we receive a complaint from an intellectual property basis claiming that a website directly infringes the rights of another site we would check it, and if it is a direct copy we would suspend the site," he said.

He said the issue of whether or not the content was satirical was of no consequence to Melbourne IT. "To us it looks like a phishing site," he said.

Mr Neville contests that there are any similarities between a satirical website and a phishing operation, which would typically carry an intent of data or financial theft.

"I don't see how you can make judgements that ignore the content or intention of the site. To give the satire more impact it was important to make it look like an official speech. Obviously there was no hacking of the original site, and I did not choose to make it too close to the actual design, and my name and address were readily accessible," he said.

He added that one of the reasons he had chosen Yahoo's hosting service was because it did not have any obvious policies that restricted the nature of content that could be published.

"If there were objections to the content on the site, isn't there a democratic tradition that I be informed of it," he said.

Mr Neville describes the parody as an act of satire and culture jamming, and is now running a link to a PDF copy of the speech on his website.

He has been involved in satirical publishing since the 1960's when he edited Oz magazine, which covered contentious issues of the time. However some of the subject matter led to obsenity charges for him and his colleagues, that were later overturned.

You can now see the results of Australia's draconian anti-terrorism legislation of 2005, which reaffirms and expands the disused, yet unrepealed Australian sedition law and effectively prohibits anti-government dissent.

Please support the NSWCCL campaign for an Australian Bill of Rights now!

EDIT: Now the tendency is spreading out to the United States

In an unusual and little-known case, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office has seized four computer hard drives from a Lancaster newspaper as part of a statewide grand-jury investigation into leaks to reporters.

The dispute pits the government's desire to solve an alleged felony - computer hacking - against the news media's fear that taking the computers circumvents the First Amendment and the state Shield Law.

The state Supreme Court declined last week to take the case, allowing agents to begin analyzing the data.

"This is horrifying, an editor's worst nightmare," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington. "For the government to actually physically have those hard drives from a newsroom is amazing. I'm just flabbergasted to hear of this."

The precedent has been set. As I've predicted before, repression used in foreign countries will be used to justify repressions conducted in your own country, Bill of Rights or not. This is why constitutional documents can no longer be assumed to protect people just because they exist. They must be upheld, and the government must be confronted with its violation, or else it is nothing but a piece of paper (as Bush put it quite eloquently).

For people in countries without a Bill of Rights, you must act as if one were in effect, and clamour for the government to uphold the values of a free and democratic society. You might think it's too late or impractical at this point to implement a Bill of Rights, but the simple action of campaigning for it establishes its legitimacy. Rights are not guaranteed by legal documents; they are guaranteed when they are recognised and demanded by the people.

Bush signs bill without Congress approval

This story is so incredible, it needs two articles.

Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) has alleged in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that President Bush signed a version of the Budget Reconciliation Act that, in effect, did not pass the House of Representatives.

Further, Waxman says there is reason to believe that the Speaker of the House called President Bush before he signed the law, and alerted him that the version he was about to sign differed from the one that actually passed the House. If true, this would put the President in willful violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Second article.

In an amazing development that has received almost no media attention, mainstream or alternative, President Bush again placed himself above the law and wilfully violated the Constitution by signing into law a bill that didn't pass both Houses of Congress.

According to representative Henry Waxman, Bush signed into law a version of the Budget Reconciliation Act that didn't pass Congress. The discrepancy between the version Bush signed and the actual bill that passed equates to a value of $2 billion.

Bush knew he was directly violating the Constitution and effectively acting as a despot because he received a call from the Speaker of the House before signing the bill, warning him that it had not been passed.

This is a travesty of rule of law unseen before in modern history. What's especially frightening is that two days later, only two publications have written an article about that letter. Bush is openly putting himself above the law, and no mainstream publication has reported about this. Not even a denial or an attempt to dispel the story as a rumour to reassure what should be a very concerned population, who instead remains blissfully ignorant.

If you think this is an inocuous law being passed without congressional review, think of it as the neocons testing the waters. That means that Bush could pass any authoritarian legislation peddled by his neocon masters, including PATRIOT Act provisions that are not approved by Congress or even present in the bill approved by both houses.

Compare this to the bill being introduced in the UK, which if passed would turn British Parliament into a rubberstamp that can be overridden by ministers at any time; in other words, where the executive could pass any laws they want without parliamentary review. Even though it got little attention in Parliament compared to the hotly debated national ID cards, at least it got the attention of the mainstream UK media.

The closest recent precedent to this ridiculously cavalier attitude towards constitutional law was when Australia passed its Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005, which even in spite of the notorious absence of Bill of Rights, violates the constitutional separations of powers of Australia.

It is getting increasingly obvious that those legislations are incremental attempts to push all those countries away from democracy and rule of law towards authoritarianism and despotism. This is especially worrying given the recent election of Stephen Harper in Canada, who is notorious for his support of the neocon regimes.

UPDATE: Bush does it again...

I predicted that Bush would push the wedge further and do the same with the PATRIOT Act as he did with the previous bill, and he did exactly that.

What's going to be next, rule by decree?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Canada joins the ranks of the imperialists

Thanks a lot, Tories.

Canadian troops in Afghanistan are complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity because of their new aggressive role in support of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and should be immediately pulled out of the war zone and returned to Canada or risk facing possible future criminal charges, according to a decorated Vietnam war veteran now turned Canadian peace activist.

This was the message sent directly to Canadian troops in Afghanistan Tuesday, Feb. 28, via a government website message board at the same time it was sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, all members of Parliament, and Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean, who serves as Commander-in-Chief of Canadian forces. It came from military veteran John McNamer, 58, of Kamloops, British Columbia. McNamer was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam and he is the author of a newly-released research brief examining the legality of Canada's role in Afghanistan.

Attached to a letter to Harper is the five-page brief with 46 footnoted references documenting "criminal actions" resulting from ongoing Coalition procedures and actions in Afghanistan. The documentation relies primarily on published news accounts from mainstream media reports over the past several years, as well as the 2005 "Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Yes, my friends, Canada's interventionist antics are no longer limited to rigging election in Haiti. As if it weren't enough for us to be covering the arses of the United States while they leave us to rot to invade yet another country, our dear new Prime Minister Harper is carving us a nice new position amongst imperialists extraordinaire United States and Britain.

When it's not to take care of the US-manufactured Taleban and Al CIAda operatives, we as good Canadians are expected to assist the wardens of dangerous 12-year old boys, whose idea of child psychology is to torture them in front of their parents to find out essential information such as the contents of the food they use on their chicken farms (Hey, you gotta stop them, maybe they're the ones spreading Bird Flu on purpose!)

But enough of my sarcasm. Just read the letter, and weep at how our supposedly peaceful Stephen Martin government is supporting the atrocities of a brutal and undemocratic regime, and how the Tories want to kiss the arse of the United States even more.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Britain: Europe's next dictatorship?

And you thought Belarus was the last.

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is hardly an aerodynamic title; it doesn't fly from the lips. People have difficulty remembering the order of the words and what exactly will be the effect of this apparently dull piece of lawmaking.
But in the dusty cradle of Committee A, a monster has been stirring and will, in due course, take flight to join the other measures in the government's attack on parliamentary democracy and the rights of the people. The 'reform' in the title allows ministers to make laws without the scrutiny of parliament and, in some cases, to delegate that power to unelected officials. In every word, dot and comma, it bears the imprint of New Labour's authoritarian paternity.

Yes, my British readers. Whilst your comrades are reading about the latest celebrity scandal on The Sun and reminescing about George Galloway making a complete idiot out of himself on Big Brother two months ago, your leaders are rolling back centuries of legal traditions and political progress to turn your parliament into a rubberstamp legislature with power concentrated in an executive capable of doing whatever they damn please, including trashing the English Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus and even Parliament altogether.

But don't you worry, the benevolent European Union will take care of you and replace all that archaic nonsense with a Soviet-style bureaucratic apparatus, courtesy of David Rockefeller and his Trilateral Commission cronies. Within the all-mighty European Union, you will be reenfranchised with powers to decide on important matters like the regulation of the nutritional content of food products, under the leadership of an unelected executive led by members of one of the same think tanks that made the United States the imperialist superpower supposed to be countered by the European Union.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fast Food Ice Dirtier Than Toilet Water!

I'm bored with real news, so here's some MSM for a change.

The results: In four of the five restaurants, the ice that came from the self-service machines had more bacteria than the toilet water, reports Tampa Bay Online. Three of the five cups of ice from the drive-through windows had more bacteria than the toilet water. The bacteria in the ice included fecal coliform or E. coli, which can only come from the feces of warm-blooded animals.

Hmm, so that would explain why fast food tastes like shit.