Politics, Activism, Culture and Fun in Brisbane, Australia.
How will we take over the world and run it ourselves
instead of having to work for the bosses who own everything?
One thing's for sure - we'll need exciting, powerful,
curious and free people on our side, not the boring pseudo-left

Refugee Action Collective organising meeting Wed Dec 2 6.30pm

The Refugee Action Collective Queensland is holding an organising meeting on Wednesday December 2.

The meeting is at the Trades and Labour Council building at 16 Peel St in South Brisbane (click here for a Google Map) and starts at 6.30pm.

The TLC building is right near the Cultural Centre bus station and the South Brisbane train station. Click here to use the Translink journey planner.

For more information on what's happening at the meeting, call Paul at the Refugee Action Collective on (07) 3392 3843

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.

This means that you may use any work by me, David Jackmanson, that you find on this site for any purpose at all, as long as you give credit to Let's Take Over and include the site's web address.

It's your responsibility to check that the work is created by me and not somebody else. Accounts on sites like flickr or Odeo that are listed as belonging to 'Let's Take Over' or 'djackmanson' will probably be mine.


The Justice for Palestine group is presenting the Palestinian Days film festival from this Friday, October 16, to Sunday, October 18, at the Schonell Theatre at the University of Queensland's St Lucia campus - click here for a Google Map.

There are seven sessions over the weekend. The opening session at 6.30pm on Friday October 16 costs $20 or $12 concession, and includes food and will be opened by Ambassador Izzat Abdul Hadi, head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia. All other sessions are $10, or $8 concession. Tickets for the entire festival are $50, or a day pass is $15 or $15 concession. If you can't afford a session, please book and let the organisers know and they'll be able to arrange a discount or free entry for you.

The features at each session are:

Friday October 16, 6.30pm

Lemonade - Palestinian brothers try to transcend their predicament as refugees by selling lemonade in their school break.

Arna's Children: a film about a children's theatre group in Jenin run by Arna Mer-Khamis.

Saturday October 17, 11am

Letter from Sarah - a 12-year old Palestinian girl writes a script about her life.

Palestine Blues - looks at how the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the building of the Wall, has affected the Palestinian people. By Nida Sinnokrot.

Saturday October 17, 2pm

Frontiers of Dreams and Fears: looks at the life of Palestinian children living in refugee camps.

Jerusalem - the East Side Story: about the Israeli efforts to drive Palestinians out of East Jerusalem.

Saturday October 17, 7.30pm

Palestine, Summer 06: Captures the mood of Palestine as Israel attacked Gaza and Lebanon.

Arus el Jaleel (Bride of Galillee): Story of Fatma HAwari, bombed by Israeli forces in 1948 and left in a wheelchair.

Sunday October 18, 11am

Gaza Strip

Sunday October 18, 2pm

Jenin Jenin: The Palestinian side of 2002's Battle of Jenin.

Since You Left: Mohammed Bakri visits the graveside of his mentor, Emile Habibi and reflects on what has happened since Habibi's death.

Sunday, October 18 6pm

My Beloved Homeland: Features music from Palestinians, including warsinger Rim Banna, Jawaher Shofan, the El-Funoun Popular Palestinian Dance Troupe, Mustafa al-Kurd, and the Sarayett Rammallah Troupe for Performance and Dance.

The Iron Wall.


test autopost to facebook from LTO posterous

test autopost to facebook from LTO posterous

Let's see if this works

Posted via web from Let's Take Over


Brisbane Pro Choice Action Collective rally this Saturday Aug 29

The Pro-Choice Action Collective is holding a rally this Saturday, August 29 2009, at 11am in Queens Park, Brisbane City (click here for a Google Map), to demand that the Queensland Police drop all charges against a young woman in Cairns who allegedly used misoprostol to abort a foetus she was carrying, and that the Government also repeal all anti-abortion laws.

This issue has become more urgent as this week Queensland doctors have said they will not carry out abortions unless the Government assures them that they will not be charged with a crime.

If you're on Facebook, there's an event about the rally if you click here, and also the Pro-Choice Action Collective has a group set up on Facebook.


Brisforcewatch meeting Fri Aug 21 6.30pm : The community watching the cops

Almost three years ago, Adrian Walker spoke at a rally demanding justice over the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee, an Aboriginal man killed by Queensland Police Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley. Walker said that black people need to start "policing the police":

On Friday night, at the Kurilpa Hall, 174 Boundary St, West End, at 6.30pm, Brisforcewatch is starting up. That's what they plan to do - watch the cops, and help try to keep the notoriously violent and abusive Queensland Police under control. There's going to be a discussion led by someone from the Caxton Legal Service, about your rights when you've been arrested, and an introduction to the concept of Brisforcewatch. There's also going to be music by Brisbane band Run Pig Run.

It's a drug and alcohol free event, entry is free and free food is available. If you can bring a plate or some cash to cover the costs, that would be really good.

Click here for a Google Map showing where the Kurilpa Hall is at 174 Boundary St.


Thank you Twitter - maintenance time changed to help Iranian protesters #iran9 #nomaintenance

You probably know by now that there are big protests going on in Iran, after allegations that the recent election there was rigged by the Government of President Ahmedinijad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni. This morning (Australian Eastern time) I noticed some messages on Twitter asking Twitter to hold off on some maintenance, so that Twitter would be available for use by the Iranian protesters who are being attacked by the police.

This led to a pretty ugly discussion with one Twitter user in particular. I'll update this story with some details of the discussion later, but the more important thing to talk about is this poll and this article posted by Twitter user @samclifford.

The poll asks:

With regards to the delaying of Twitter's maintenance and the troubles in Iran, where do you stand on the issue of corporate responsibility?

And the three possible answers are:

  • Service providers have an obligation to the safety of their users if a diminishing in the quality of service would have an adverse effect on user safety

  • Service providers have no obligation to the safety of their users but may choose to get involved if they wish

  • Service providers should do no more than provide the service

I voted for the first option, as it is the closest to my opinion, but I think things are a bit more complex than that, so this article is about what I think.

The main difference I have with the first question is that it talks about a fairly abstract obligation of safety to users. I think that rather than having just that obligation to users, Twitter should be actively taking sides in the current Iranian protests. The people who are protesting right now in Iran are the natural allies of the Internet-aware generation in the Western world, and one of our common enemies is the repressive dictatorship of reactionary priests that runs Iran.

Twitter is of course a capitalist, privately owned business. There are no legal obligations on it to support protest against dictatorships. But what happens if the Iranian people overthrow their regime and install a modern bourgeois democracy in its place? That democracy is bound to remember who helped it, and who it was that cowardly supported the old regime because they didn't want to rock the boat. I'd argue that not only does Twitter have an obligation to help the Iranian protestors, but that it is also in their strategic interests to win allies among people who are struggling for freedom right now.

On a more selfish level, many people on Twitter have noticed that CNN, a leading 24-hour cable news channel, utterly failed to spread news of the Iranian protests, while Twitter was ablaze with the news. It's definitely in Twitter's interest to be known as the place where news breaks first, and Twitter's ability to spread news quickly might just lead to it catching up on the cable networks that have dominated the 24-hour news cycle for the last two decades.

And those reasons might just be why Twitter agreed to change the time of the scheduled maintenance. In fact, it was a little more involved than that. Twitter's network is hosted by a company called NTT America - their Enterprise Hosting Services division, to be precise. It was NTT that had planned the maintenance on their system, so Twitter had to go to NTT and make a case for postponing the maintenance, and the final call was NTT's. Even if the decision was made for purely selfish reasons, it's the right one. Congratulations and thanks to Twitter, and to NTT.

UPDATE: Now the important part of the post is online, here's the details of this morning's silly conversation.

I noticed the #nomaintenance hashtag (click here for an explanation of hashtags on Twitter) this morning and retweeted a message asking for Twitter to postpone maintenance so that the protesters in Iran could use Twitter. Almost immediately I was challenged by user @Geordieguy who asked if I were serious. He also posted a message for all his followers to see, claiming that asking Twitter to postpone maintenance was "Luddism" and "bullying". The discussion went on for a bit, and I was misrepresented, and the #nomaintenance hashtag was said to be the same as lynchmobbing.

I pointed out that at least by actively supporting the Iranian regime (by attacking efforts to help their opponents), Goerdieguy had placed himself on their side. This was met with laughter, but it is in fact exactly what I meant.

If people under attack from riot police say they want and need a service like Twitter to be up so they can use it, and other people try and help them, and you attack the people who are trying to help, you put yourself on the side of the riot police. No ifs, buts or maybes. And if you put yourself on the side of the cops, expect to be called out for it.

Sure, it's a minor thing and Twitter being available isn't going to overthrow the Iranian regime by itself. A lot more needs to happen. But a free flow of information is absolutely vital to help rebellions like this succeed. It's not enough on its own, but without it, you've got nothing.


Sex Party calls for NRL players to organise group sex at brothels #fb

I've just been sent a media release by the Australian Sex Party, thanks to Michael Meloni of the Somebody Think of the Children blog, who passed it on to me after getting it from them.

The release says that the NRL should make all players get educated about brothels, and that NRL clubs should arrange legal group sex sessions for players who want them.

The release comes after a week and a half of allegations that former Rugby League star and now TV personality Matthew Johns helped to gang rape a young woman in New Zealand in 2002.

The release says:

Sex Party Calls for Brothel Education in NRL

Footballers who wanted to engage in group sex should be educated by their clubs about how to organise these liaisons as legal, commercial arrangements.

Australian Sex Party convenor Fiona Patten, said that most Rugby League clubs had made brothels and escort agencies ‘no go’ areas for their players thinking that they were enhancing the moral standing of their teams. “In reality, these prudish bans on commercial sex have inadvertently led to an increase in group sex with groupies who try to access popular players”, she said.

 “ The NRL needs to set up a brothel liaison office and to conduct brothel information sessions with all players, including those who profess to be religious.”

Ms Patten said that most teams in the NRL would have a local brothel they could adopt as their own and which would bend over backwards to help them learn about how to use its many services. “If players are away on tour, they could ring a local brothel or escort agency and arrange a service with a qualified sex worker for five or six players. Strict times would be adhered to, numbers of clients would be checked and fees would be paid up front.”

There are approximately 200 legal brothels and up to 6,000 sex workers in NSW. Commercial sex has been legal since 1995 and one of the main reasons that state governments went down this road was to ensure the safety of workers and clients alike. Rugby League clubs which actively discourage their players from seeking out legal commercial sexual services on moral grounds have inadvertently contributed to sexual violence and bad behaviour in the code.

Ms Patten said she would be happy to broker a meeting with NRL officials and representatives of the sex industry to establish a discreet and professional relationship between the two. “This relationship could then become a model for other sporting organisations who have to coordinate large numbers of sexually active men who sometimes drink to excess with groupies and fans around them”, she said.

The Australian Sex Party was in the process of developing policies on sex and gender in the sport.

Some other articles worth reading about a culture that punishes the victims of rape while supporting the men who rape women:

Sleepydumpling on just what rape is, exactly, with a classic example of a woman doing the "slut shaming" in the comments, following on from this comment of hers on Twitter.

This article by Zomb1etron.

This article at Hoyden About Town by Lauredhel, about Sydney Morning Herald reporter Asher Moses who called the woman involved in the group sex with Matthew Johns and others a "slutty groupy", and claimed on Twitter the group sex was consensual even though he is in no position to know the truth:

Moses has since deleted this post on Twitter but this screenshot is from Twitter Search, which archives Twitter messages for 55 days.

And finally this article from Sydney's Daily Telegraph, about the reaction of gay former Rugby League player Ian Roberts to the way The Footy Show rallied around its star Matthew Johns, and how this is similar to the way the Footy Show has consistently mocked him:

He'd tuned into The Footy Show to see what Johns would say, and was disappointed that the apology, and Johns' subsequent remarks, have focused mainly on the pain of his own wife and family.

About the girl involved, Johns has repeatedly said he's sorry for her "embarrassment and pain" - implying that although she was an entirely willing participant at the time, she is now motivated by shame and anger.

"It was almost like he was the victim, that she asked for it," Roberts told me. "My God - that poor woman has suffered for all this time.

I've been hearing talkback callers this week saying she's being vindictive, that she asked for it. My God, she was 19!

"It's taken her seven years to mature. She was totally outnumbered in the room. She was a defenceless human being.

She was alone with all those men, and none of them said, 'Come on, guys, that's enough.' Not one of them was man enough to admit to this before now, and none of the other men who were in that room are brave enough to own their actions, to step up now and say 'Yeah, it was me.'

"And anyone who says she asked for it - shame on you. She was just a kid."


Brisbane Unions: Labour Day celebrations Monday 4th of May 2009

The Labour Day 2009 celebrations are on on Monday May 4th, at the oval at the RNA Showgrounds in Fortitude Valley - click here for a Google Map.

Brisbane's union members will be marching from Spring Hill through Fortitude Valley from 10am and the celebrations will kick off at the showgrounds from 11am, with free bands, free kids' rides and lots of political debate. If you want to march, click here for more info, or visit your union's website.

This slideshow shows the photos I took of the march and celebrations two years ago, in 2007:

And this video shows Kevin Rudd, then Opposition Leader and now Prime Minister of Australia, talking at the same event in 2007:


Fight back against #stalkdaily and its worm that hijacked Twitter today

UPDATE: Anonymous in comments says to go here to find out what to do if the worm has infected your Twitter account - the info looks pretty good. The comment also says that the domain uuuq.net was hosted at Zymic.com, not GoDaddy.

UPDATE: Twitter user jay_neff has done some research on Mikeyy Mooney and found out he appears to be from from Winnfield, Louisiana

UPDATE: I have made mistakes about who is hosting the servers. This is because I thought the companies that rented the domain names - apparently GoDaddy and Dreamhost - were the same ones renting the server space. See further corrections below and in the comments.

A 17 year old embryo scammer/spammer calling himself "Mikeyy [sic] Mooney", who says he is the founder of Twitter rip-off stalkdaily.com, has admitted launching a worm that has hijacked people's Twitter accounts today.

UPDATE: before admitting to being behind the worm, "Mikeyy" LIED to people on his own stalkdaily.com site asking him about the twitter hijacking - see Screenshot 5 below for the evidence of this, or check the account "mikeyy" on stalkdaily.com - No, I'm not linking to it!

A full account of the worm is available here at the Mashable site. The worm has deliberately changed the web link in people's Twitter profiles to point to "Mikeyy"'s own rip-off site, and has also hijacked people's twitter accounts and sent spam messages from them, promoting himself. If you notice an account that is sending messages about "Mikeyy", DO NOT CLICK ON IT!!!! Your account will be hijacked too. Twitter will no doubt let us know when all is safe again.

I did a whois lookup to see who owns the stalkdaily.com account. There is no personal info available, unfortunately, but the whois search reveals that the stalkdaily.com site is hosted by Dreamhost.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: The stalkdaily site is hosted by FastServers, NOT Dreamhost. FastServers' abuse reporting address is abuse@fastservers.com

I have sent a similar email to the one I sent to Dreamhost to FastServers - please consider sending one yourself. CORRECTION ENDS.

So I have sent an email to abuse@dreamhost.com asking them to cancel this loser's accounts:

Dear Madam, or Sir,

I am writing to let you know that a website hosted by you - according to a whois lookup - admits responsibility for launching a worm that has exploited security holes in the Twitter.com website, of which I am a member. The worm has been hijacking accounts and sending spam updates from those accounts, which has directly impacted my enjoyment and use of the twitter.com site. I attach a screenshot of the Twitter Search site, showing these spam messages.

The website is www.stalkdaily.com

I attach a screenshot of the front page of www.stalkdaily.com where the purported owner of the site - or someone with permission to post to that site's front page - admits that they are responsible for creating the worm. The article the link on the front page leads to is at http://www.bnonews.com/news/242.html

Since the worm links people's Twitter accounts to stalkdaily without their knowledge or consent, I can only assume that this is a breach of your terms of service.

I would appreciate it if you would delete all accounts held by this account holder immediately.

If you want to get this moron punished, please do the same - send a complaint email to abuse@dreamhost.com asking them to cancel "Mikeyy"'s accounts. Let's get this fool kicked off the Internet, if only for a while.

If your acccount has been infected, this link will tell you what to do:


UPDATE: This blog post seems to show that the actual domain where the malicious script was hosted is uuuq.com. A whois lookup of that domain name indicates it is hosted by GoDaddy. [UPDATE: A comment and the page it says to look at indicates that the script was hosted at zymic.com]

I have used this page to submit an email to GoDaddy as well:

Dear Madam, or Sir,

I am writing to you about the Twitter worm active today, April 12 2009, that was apparently hosted at a domain name that GoDaddy hosts.

Details of the worm can be found here: http://mashable.com/2009/04/11/stalkdaily-twitter/

This blog post: http://dcortesi.com/2009/04/11/twitter-stalkdaily-worm-postmortem/

indicates that malicious script that was used to hack the Twitter website, affecting my user experience there, was hosted at uuuq.com. A whois lookup: http://reports.internic.net/cgi/whois?whois_nic=uuuq.com&type=domain

indicates that GoDaddy is the host of this domain.

I assume that hosting malicious scripts on your servers is a breach of your Terms of Service. I ask that you delete all accounts hosted by the owner of uuuq.com


David Jackmanson

UPDATE: This post at the Mundoreves blog says the new attack on Twitter is by a script hosted at ireel.com. The Whois lookup for ireel.com indicates it is hosted by Ideal Media in Quebec, email address - yes, a HOTMAIL address, which makes the company sound pretty fly-by-night AT BEST.

So I've sent another email off:

Dear Madam, or Sir,

I am writing because of this blog post: http://www.mundoreves.com/display/HOME/2009/04/12/Examining+the+StalkDaily-Mikeyy+twitter+worm... , which indicates that malicious script has been hosted on your site that has been used to hack the Twitter.com site, which has affected the experience of many users, including myself.

I would appreciate it if you could check this, and if it is indeed the case, if you would stop anyone hosting this sort of malicious script on your servers.


David Jackmanson

Screenshot 6 below shows the whois lookup that provided me with this information.

Click on the screenshots below to see full-sized versions of them.

Screenshot 1: Stalkdaily.com's "Mikeyy" admits he is behind the worm:

Screenshot of Stalkdaily.com where "Mikeyy" admits he is responsible for the Twitter worm.

Screenshot 2: Twitter Search shows how "Mikeyy" has infested the Twitter timeline:

Screenshot of Twitter Search showing spam messages sent out by stalkdaily.com's worm

Screenshot 3: Whois lookup screenshot confirming that stalkdaily.com is hosted by Dreamhost:

Screenshot of whois lookup confirming that Stalkdaily.com is hosted by Dreamhost

Screenshot 4: Whois lookup screenshot confirming that uuuq.com - host of the malicious script - is hosted by GoDaddy.com

Screenshot confirming uuuq.com - which hosted the malicious script that attacked Twitter - is hosted by GoDaddy

Screenshot 5: Evidence that "Mikeyy" LIED to members of his own stalkdaily.com site about his involvement in the Twitter hijacking:

Evidence that "mikeyy" LIED to members of his own stalkdaily.com site about his involvement in the Twitter hijacking

Screenshot 6: Whois lookup for ireel.com

Whois lookup for Ireel.com


Are you working over Easter? #workingeaster

 So, are you working over (Catholic/Protestant) Easter in a country where, like here in Australia, almost everyone else goes on holiday for a four-day weekend? I am, for a couple of shifts, and I'll be using the #workingeaster hashtag on Twitter to connect with other people who are working. So if you're working at Easter and want to chat about what it's like to be on deck on a public holiday, leave a comment on Twitter using the #workingeaster hashtag or, if Twitter doesn't interest you, leave a comment here on this blog post.

(What the hell is a hashtag? Click here for more info).

If you're on Twitter, a service that lets you find out what people are doing, you might want to follow the Let's Take Over's Twitter account and you'll get updated every time there is a new story on the Let's Take Over. Or if you want more, follow my personal account (David Jackmanson) and find out what I'm up to.

If you're from the USA or somewhere where the city doesn't shut down this long weekend, here's how Good Friday's almost total shutdown in Australia caught American recording artist ?uestlove by surprise two years ago.

It's not that Australians are particularly religious compared to people in the USA, but Easter has long been a very popular holiday with both Christian believers AND those who hold to other creeds, or none, in Australia.

BTW ?uestlove gets it a bit wrong, he's on the Gold Coast, not in Brisbane, but he does say Brisbane properly (it's BRIZ-bun, not Briz-BANE, - Briz-BANE is how you say the name of Brisbane in California, near San Francisco).


Reports of #nocleanfeed #nocensorship forum hosted by @newmatilda

Nic Suzor from Electronic Frontiers Australia speaks at "The Tangled Web", a forum on internet censorship organised by newmatilda.com. New Matilda's Twitter account is here, and their overview of the internet censorship debate in Australia is here.

On Tuesday March 24th 2009, newmatilda.com, a website with "Independent news, analysis and satire covering politics, consumerism, international affairs, and culture.", presented "The Tangled Web", a forum about Internet censorship.

Michael Meloni of somebodythinkofthechildren.com, a blog discussing censorship and moral panic, used CoverItLive to send out a live call of what was happening at the anti-censorship forum, which you can read if you click here.

Meloni was joined by media commentator Stigherrian and Mark Newton, an employee of iiNet who has been a big public critic of the Australian Government's plans to censor the Internet, who commented online. There were plenty of comments from people taking part online, and you can read it all if you click here.

Irene Graham, a meticulously detailed anti-censorship campaigner at libertus.net, and Senator Scott Ludlam, a member of the Australian Greens elected from Western Australia in 2007, who has questioned Senator Conroy about the Government's censorship plans:

Kieran Salsone, of the Websinthe blog and NoCharCom online comic, also did a live call of the foru, which you can read here for the next fifty days or so (the latest messages are at the top, so you are reading backwards). After that link stops working, you can still click here for screenshots of the coverage.

Peter Black, law lecturer at QUT and author at Freedom to Differ, speaks at "The Tangled Web", a forum about Internet Censorship organised by newmatilda.com, hosted by the Queensland University of Technology on Tuesday March 24 2009.

The forum was sound-recorded, and Peter Black said the recording should be online soon.

Rod McGuinness, Managing Editor of New Matilda magazine, which organised the forum on Internet censorship.


Human Rights Consultation, Brisbane - report

Last night (Monday March 23rd, 2009), I went to the National Human Rights Consultation session in Brisbane. It was quite interesting, although it had the limitations of a discussion based on Government and law, and the consultation process is also limited by the terms of reference the Government gave it, which means they cannot recommend a Constitutionally entrenched bill of rights.

The four members of the Consultation panel are the Chair, Frank Brennan, Mary Kostakidis, Tammy Williams, and Mick Palmer. The consultation began with a speech by Tammy Williams who asked "What are our human rights - what exactly are our rights and liberties?". Williams pointed out that our human rights are protected by a variety of different laws, or in some cases, by nothing in the law at all. She threw a couple of situations out there that go beyond "traditional" conceptions of human rights, including asking if people with diabilities should have the right to attend mainstream schools, or if married couples have the right not to be separated when they enter nursing homes.

Then Mary Kostakidis started to facilitate a discussion at the various tables (there were about 30-odd tables at the event with about 12 seats each). The first at-the-tables discussion was based on the three key questions being asked by the Consultation:

* Which human rights and responsibilities should be protected and promoted?
* Are human rights sufficiently protected and promoted?
* How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?

At our table we introduced ourselves to each other and started to discuss these questions in a broad way. We had a human rights worker, one person with general interest in the field, one person (me) whose focus is more on what people need to do to stand up for their rights instead of relying on the law, one person who thought how we treat each other is important (and also access to secure, safe food), and one person who was a little skeptical of people's willingness to defend human rights.

After the table discussion, a microphone went around and people spoke from the floor. Comments from the floor included:

  • Children being vulnerable after leaving domestic violence and taken into the care of potential abusers.

  • One person said he was "skeptical of the process" and said the "human rights industry" was determined to introduce a charter which would be interpreted by judges.

Kostakidis then moved the discussion towards the specific question of "what rights ought to be included in the list of our rights?", which attracted the following comments:

  • Rights of the disabled, especially those who can't articulate their own needs. Disabled people are often forced to live in nursing homes, or end up in prison.
  • Rights to shelter, a fair trial, health, freedom and the rights of the unborn child.
  • Rights of mentally ill people not to be shot by police. Right of physically disabled people to be treated equally in hospital.
  • Anti-torture to be enshrined in Australian law
  • Services are needed to teach immigrants with no experience of the rule of law, and no concept of it, what Australian society is like

We then moved onto another discussion at our tables, this time discussing each of the three questions (see above) in turn.

Question One: Which human rights and responsibilities should be protected and promoted?

Things that came up from our table included:
  • focussing on the rights of all people, not just citizens (two of us (including me) agreed that, ideally, we'd tear down all borders - not that that's likely in the near future).
  • We have a responsbility to defend our own rights - laws are useless without the will to stand up and use them.
  • We need to stand up for those rights in UN conventions that Australia has already agreed to.
  • Education and refugee rights
  • We have a responsibility to help to empower those living under oppressive regimes.
  • We have a responsibility to respect each other.

Question Two: Are human rights sufficiently protected and promoted?

This turned quickly into a discussion of when it is legitimate to suspend human rights, say in times of national emergency.

  • Active citizenship is what is important here - people need to decide what they would do if they had responsibility for solving a problem so they can decide what is and is not justified.
  • We need to be willing to take risks to defend our rights.
Question 3: How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?

Adopting a Human Rights Act

  • Should such an act cover merely political rights and liberties (eg right to vote, free speech), or also social and cultural rights (eg rights to housing, food and language) as well? Opinions differed at our table.
  • Government transparency and Freedom of Information Acts
  • Should rights be in the Constitution or not? (despite the Government not being willing to allow the Consultation to recommend that).
After the table discussions, Mick Palmer facilitated a discussion where people stood up and said what had come out of their table discussions. Comments on this included:

Procedural rights, community rights, the danger of suspension of the rule of law, more resources are required, an independent judiciary and an ability to get your rights back when they are violated are all important. (Palmer commented that often procedural rights are good, EG in the Cornelia Rau case, but they just get ignored).

  • We need the ability to appeal abuses of human rights.
  • Often procedural rights are NOT good enough, in the case of the disabled and mentally ill.
  • Protection of the safety of those who work with the mentally ill if they are potentially violent.
  • Human rights should never be suspended.
  • In the case of war, for example, freedoms must be suspended.
  • We need a responsibility for how our soldiers etc act when outside Australia.
  • One woman complained that while immigrants get thier homes "completely fitted out", Australians going to the countries where those immigrants come from would get nothing.
  • Judges should be the LAST line of defence against human rights abuses - human rights need to be so deeply ingrained in our culture and actions that rights abuses become rare.
  • Civic leave from work should exist so people can join in taking action on things like human rights.
  • There should be a free to air channel that shows G-rated programs until 10.30 at night.
  • Rights can only exist if ones duties are carried out, especially our duty towards children.
  • Home birth should be a right - there are planned new laws that will make home birth illegal by 2010 (Actually this is not true, a Maternity Services Review has issued a report whose recommendations, IF ADOPTED,  would make home birth effectively illegal (by requiring midwives to have insurance which no insurance companies offer) - this is NOT the same as legislation being planned or introduced)
My thoughts on all this: I think the key is people being prepared to defend their own human rights, and the rights of others. I'm not so excited by the idea of a Human Rights Act - it can't hurt, but my ideal solution would be to entrench strong rights and freedoms in the constitution (eg the right to vote, the right to free speech, the right to freedom of and freedom from religion, and so on) and leave many other rights to the political process rather than producing a legal document. I think a manifesto of desired social and cultural rights, rather than a legal Act, is the right way to go.

Also, I thought the discussions at the tables were much more valuable than the individual people speaking up, as there was no way to get a real back-and-forth discussion going with 200 people there and only two hours time. It's a lot easier to see arguments and counter-arguments here, and to discuss them in the comments, then it was to discuss them last night - especially with so many people there to push specific agendas.

What do you think?


@kevinruddpm can't use apostrophes, tries to delete the evidence

It seems our politicians on Twitter have a lot to learn. Just one day after Queensland Premier Anna Bligh got caught deleting a message insulting the Green Party,sent (she says) from her Twitter account by an over-zealous volunteer, the Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, has also been caught out not knowing how to use apostrophes correctly, and deleting the evidence when called on it.

This afternoon, the KevinRuddPM account posted a St Patrick's Day message:

Wishing everyone a happy St Patrick's Day - especially Australian's with Irish heritage!
The apostrophe in "Australian's" is incorrect. About twenty people noticed this inability to punctuate correctly, and a few hours later, the Prime Minister's account had a new St Patrick's Day message, using the correct punctuation.

What is mildly interesting is that whoever is operating the PM's account deleted the original, incorrect message and did not bother to acknowledge that a mistake had been made. If you examine the PM's Twitter acount here you will see only one message, but if you look at this Twitter Search result, you will see both messages - you can delete a message that you sent from your own account, but it will still show up if you search for it.

This is, of course, really not very important in itself. So the PM (or whoever is operating his Twitter account) made a punctuation mistake. So what?

What matters is that this shows how politicians like to operate. Make a mistake, hide the evidence, correct the mistake and pretend it never happened. This is because politicians are usually control freaks, thanks to the world they operate in where even small mistakes are jumped on by their enemies. Being a control freak is normal behaviour for a politician, and in fact it would be incompetent for a politician NOT to keep tight control over their environment. If you've ever listened to the Federal Parliament's Question Time on the radio or seen it on the TV, you know how this works.

However, politicians are now trying to use social networking services like Twitter and Facebook to get in touch with people, and the sort of behaviour that works with other politicians doesn't work at all in that sort of environment. People expect to be engaged with, they expect their questions to be answered, they don't expect people to use their Twitter or Facebook accounts just as a way to punch out media releases. But Australia's politicians have, so far, mostly done just that.

I'm not saying that politicians should personally be on their Twitter or Facebook accounts. We pay them to do a difficult and busy job, and I'm sure they have a lot more to do than to answer my concerns about, say, Translink and Brisbane's public transport. So I don't mind the fact that most politicians' social networking accounts will be operated by other people.

What I do mind is the complete lack of engagement. If social media is going to change politics, it's because it makes it really easy to discuss issues, and easy to get together and decide what to do. If politicians want to take advantage of that - if they really are interested in people's feedback and want people to start coming up with new ideas - then those politicians are going to have to change the way they act. Empty promises and bland assurances won't be enough to convince people who band together to find an answer to a problem.

Either politicians will start learning to use social networking on the Internet to engage (indirectly) with a lot more people than they ever have before, or people will use the Internet to make politicians more and more irrelevant.


Don't let Fake Stephen Conroy @stephenconroy be silenced! PLEASE hand over the Twitter account!

The very funny Fake Stephen Conroy @stephenconroy Twitter account is about to go silent forever, now that it's been revealed that Telstra employee Leslie Nassar is the man behind the account.

Are you on Twitter? Do you want @stephenconroy to rise from the ashes? If so, I suggest sending an @reply to the @stephenconroy account suggesting that Nassar runs a contest to find the funniest possible replacement. It doesn't have to be complicated, he could just set up a freemail account and pick the best candidate at his personal whim.

Fake Stephen Conroy must live!


Despite denial, Freeview lawyers pulled spoof ad from YouTube

Yesterday, Margaret Simons' The Content Makers blog reported that a Freeview spokesperson had denied they were behind the removal of an ad spoofing Freeview from YouTube.

Today, Simons' blog reports that this is wrong:

This morning I received the following e-mail from Rob Shilkin, the Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Google Australia (Google owns YouTube).

“Hi Margaret - I’ve been reading your blog. We don’t ordinarily comment on individual videos or any DMCA notices that may be filed, but due to some confusion that is circulating online, I’ve made some enquiries internally.  I wanted to confirm that we received a DMCA notice for lawyers acting on behalf of Freeview Australia Limited to remove the video in question.  More information on the DMCA process is here: http://www.youtube.com/t/dmca_policy

Kind regards!
Rob Shilkin
Rob Shilkin
Head of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs
Google Australia & New Zealand

The spoof ad in question is available to watch here, and available for download via the Tech Wired AU blog.

Streisand Effect, anyone?


Freeview Australia spoof ad disappears from YouTube

"Freeview" (Wikipedia) is a campaign by Australian free-to-air channels to convince you that free-to-air TV is not mostly boring rubbish. The campaign boasts about the fact that Australians will have fifteen digital channels to choose from on free-to-air TV, instead of the six free-to-air channels that Australians have (at least the ones who live in a major city).

What the campaign doesn't mention is that most of the new channels are just exact rebroadcasts of the already-existing free-to-air channels (exceptions include ABC2 and SBS World News, which broadcasts foreign-language news reports). So some Melbourne comedians doing a show about TV today decided to parody the Freeview TV commercial.

The parody was posted on the Internet's most popular video-sharing site, YouTube, but today it disappeared, due to a "terms of use violation".

However the video is available on several other video-sharing sites, including this copy from break.com:

Freeview: More of the same sh#t - Watch more

The Tech Wired AU blog has an interview with one of the creators of the spoof video commercial, and a link where you can download it yourself. Meanwhile, Margaret Simons' blog at Crikey, The Content Makers, reports a denial by Freeview that they have plans to sue the makers of the spoof, and also a denial that they had anything to do with its removal from YouTube.


Translink Brisbane Needs to Change

I have just extracted, with great effort, a free daily ticket from Translink. On February 5th this year, a bus was half an hour late and then drove past me when I was frantically waving at it with both hands. After 18 days (and two follow-up calls from me to the call centre) the complaint I made about this was finally returned. However the smooth arrogant so-and-so that I talked to refused to look into other issues I've had with this route, and rotten things I've seen - they refuse to open a case for you unless you call the call centre.

So for every single incident you want to complain about, you have to lodge an individual complaint and wait a fortnight.

Obviously this system is deliberately set up to make it difficult for people to make complaints, so Translink can claim that people love them. I'm sick and tired of this, and I want to do something about it. Everyone knows how desperately unreliable Translink, especially Brisbane Transport, is and their pretence that they offer a good service is sickening.

I don't expect Translink to spend the millions of dollars it would take to put on enough bus routes and raise drivers' pay enough to fix the problems of poor weekend service and missing buses (I understand that when a driver is sick or absent, the run is just cancelled, which is why sometimes buses just don't turn up). That's a political decision, made by politicians in Cabinet, and would need a lot of pressure from the public.

However, some things that are reasonable to expect:

1) Translink actively tries to find out what problems people are having with their system, rather than passively relying on peope to lodge complaints with the call centre. This would include (but not be limited to) a translink officer opening a case when people complain about Translink on Twitter, since Translink now has a twitter account. Other social networking sites, like this one, should also be monitored to find out problems

2) Translink replies to complaints within one working day

3) Translink supplies drivers new to a route with adequate maps (unlike the ridiculously un-detailed maps that the drivers are given) so that drivers do not have to rely on asking passengers for directions (I have seen this twice)

4) Translink immediately reviews all timetables to make sure they are realistic. This would mean that bus drivers are under no pressure to drive dangerously, putting passengers at risk of being thrown to the floor.

If you agree at least partly with me, I'd like your help.

1) Can you please tell about any experiences you've had on Translink public transport. This means we'll be able to prove to people that Translink's spin

2) Can you please discuss my suggestions or add your own.

I realise that a lot of the problems I've talked about here are with Brisbane Transport. But since BT don't deal with your complaints, and Translink does, they are the ones we need to go to in the first instance. In any case, the more public fuss we raise, the more pressure we put on people to start making some changes.

I've also started a Facebook group about this


Video: Don't Divorce Us - US Homophobes will rip marriages apart

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

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Stopping Australian Internet Censorship: Strategy Discussion #nocensorship #nocleanfeed

On Saturday January 10th, I went to a meeting of the Brisbane branch of the Digital Liberty Coalition, and came away with the job of drafting a leaflet for the next small public protest, planned for Australia Day.

The leaflet needs to reflect the strategy of the anti-censorship campaign. After the December 13th 2008 rallies in six capital cities, plus the one in Hobart a week later, some very useful debate about strategy and tactics cropped up. I want this article to bring that debate to as wide an audience as possible, and I want to use that debate to draft the leaflet. There are several different possible strategies, and we need to know what people think is the most effective one.

Using the terms "Clean Feed" and "filtering" instead of "censorship"

I brought up this topic at the meeting last night, after this comment about the December 13th 2008 rally in Melbourne:

Several speakers and posters referred to internet “filtering”.

That, like the “no cleanfeed” campaign name, reflects success of the enemy’s slick marketing strategy which has involved spending millions to spread the concept of “internet safety” - and similar doublespeak.

Other speakers did not mention filtering and spoke only of “censorship”. I suspect the organizers understand the point, and are trying to make the shift, but have not yet grasped the fact that making the shift itself requires open discussion/debate of the difference at rallies - ie take the opportunity of those speakers or posters referring to filtering to explain the purpose of a policy of never referring to filters, but only to censorship.

Also, such policies need to be debated at organizing meetings and formally adopted, so people fully understand (and can change) the tactics.

The Government's tactics are based on getting people to assume that the Internet is dangerous and dirty, and that people need to Government to clean it up for them. I agree with the argument that using words like "clean feed" and "filter" put us on the back foot. I think that use of those words should be discouraged by people campaigning against the Government's censorship plans.

It's been argued here that this means making anti-censorship the main thrust of the campaign, and that this is bad because we need to convince people who do not support free speech as a principle. I agree that we do need to win over people who don't hold free speech as an absolute good, but I think when we mention the Government's plans, we can still label them as what they are - censorship - while still appealing to moderate people. We do that by not making anti-censorship the main thrust of our arguments. For instance, the same comment I just linked to says "many people who are anti-Mandatory ISP Level Filtering don’t care about
the censorship angle either - they are against $44m white elephants".

If we decided, for example,  to make that point about white elephants the main thrust of the anti-censorship campaign, when we mention it we would say "The Government's internet censorship plan will cost $44 million of your money" instead of "The Government's internet filter will cost $44 million of your money". Using the word "censorship" does not in itself imply making censorship the main thrust of the campaign.

At the meeting last night, we discussed how we might go about convincing people who use Twitter (including many Australian anti-Internet-censorship activists) to not use the "hashtag" #nocleanfeed and switch instead to #nocensorship. (A "hashtag" is a word with the "hash" symbol (#) in front of it. Hashtags can be tracked using a service like twitter search. Click here to see the most recent twitter posts with #nocleanfeed, and click here to see the most recent twitter posts with #nocensorship. If you look at the posts on and after January 10th 2009, you'll notice a lot of debate has already sprung up about which hashtag should be used.

In fact, which hashtag is used on twitter is not that important in itself. Twitter is mostly going to be used by people who are already active in campaigns or engaged with the issue. But calling the Government's plans either "censorship" or a "filter", or "clean feed", in front of the public, over and over again, will allow one idea or the other to seep out into the community.

How do we reassure people when the Internet can't possibly be controlled?

One idea that I originally quite liked is that we should tell people who are worried about what their kids might see on the Internet that they can install programs on their own computers, so they can control what their kids can and can't see. This comment made me think twice about that:

...the line pushed by ISPs and others that parents can control kids access effectively is completely unrealistic.

It is also radically inconsistent with simultaneous arguments that
censorship won’t work because people who want to get access to
forbidden porn can easily use technical workarounds.

Basically its dishonest campaigning. The real options are government
censorship or kids being able to access porn and parents needing to be
able to help them to deal with that.

A better argument is that governments taking responsibility
undermines kids and parents learning how to deal with it, when this in
fact is the only way to deal with it, since government censorship merely encourages furtive interest in the forbidden.

IIt's dead easy to get around the filter. Anyone with even my low level of technical knowledge can use a proxy to get around censorship. And all it takes is one good article in plain language and millions of people without even my knowledge will be able to use one as well. 

So, how do we reassure people who might be convinced by pro-censorship arguments because they are afraid of what children might see online? I see two major lines we can use here:

1) We can say that the best way to protect children is to have an open, honest relationship with them, so that they will feel free to tell you about what they see online.

2) We can keep on saying that money needs to go to the police who actually hunt down online predators, instead of on a filter that won't work.

Seeing paedophiles everywhere is a form of child abuse in itself.

This article at Strange Times suggests a new approach to the argument. The idea is that, as social conservatives look for (and see) child abuse everywhere, even in innocent photos of naked children, they are the ones who are creating an atmosphere of sexualised childhood. They are the ones with dirty minds who see a ped under every bed. This argument implies that we need to label Rudd, Conroy, Hamilton etc as the ones who are really damaging children.

So then, here is my first draft of a leaflet for January 26th (and, I hope, beyond) that uses some of these arguments. Please post your comments, suggestions, corrections etc - these ideas need to be debated by as many people as possible. Pro-censorship trolling not welcome at this debate.

For reference, see the leaflet that was handed out at the anti-censorship rallies on December 13th 2008. This leaflet can be downloaded from here.

Stop Internet Censorship in Australia

Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia.

All of these countries exercise strict controls over what its citizens can read online.

The Rudd Labor government wants to add Australia to that list, and is pushing ahead with a controversial plan to subject all internet users to a secret and unaccountable blacklist.

Please read more about the plan, learn about what the government is doing to our rights online, and find out more about what you can do to protect those rights.


No. Anyone who wants to get around Government censorship can use a "proxy". This is a simple and easy way of hiding what you are doing on the Internet, and it means that you'll be able to look at anything the Government doesn't want you to see. Websites like www.hotspotshield.com and www.torproject.org make it easy for you to use proxies to get around censorship - they are already used by millions of people in the dictatorships where the Internet is censored. Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, Saudi Arabians and many others don't let their governments tell them what they can see and do online - and Australians won't either.

So if it won't work, why are you worried?

Because we take child protection seriously. Minister Conroy's excuse for trying to censor the Internet is that children are victims of pornography on the Internet, both by seeing it online and by being forced to make child pornography. But the best way - the ONLY way - to stop child pornography online is to make sure the police who hunt down child predators get the money they need to do their job. Minister Conroy's censorship plan will cost $40 million (and that's just for starters) - every single cent of that should go to the police, instead of to a censorship plan that won't work.

What about children who see pornography online? If people like Minister Conroy have their way, we'd all be scared, and lock the Internet up tightly. People like Minister Conroy would like that, because people who are scared need the Government to protect them, instead of looking after themselves. Instead of doing what the Government wants, and jumping at shadows, you can protect your children by having an open and honest relationship with them so they will tell you about what they see online. That way, you'll be able to seriously discuss it with them, you'll be able to give them the help and support and power they need, and you'll know if something is giving them problems.

This is a big choice, and it's a little scary for some people. But if you want your children to grow up strong, and able to look after themselves, censorship isn't the way. It teaches them that they need someone else to hide the bad parts of the world from them. A better way is to teach children that parts of the world are pretty bad, and they need to be strong so they can deal with it.

Instead, we have a Government which assumes that everyone is a potential child molester who needs to have parts of the Internet hidden away from them. Isn't that a pretty weird and creepy way for your Government to think?

How do we stop this censorship?

The Government needs to pass a new law to make this happen. At the moment, the Greens and the Liberal/National Coalition are against the censorship plan, which means the Government won't be able to pass that law - so they won't be able to censor the Internet. The Greens look pretty solid, which means we need to concentrate on the Liberals and Nationals.

There are two sides to this debate inside the Liberal and National Parties. One side doesn't want the Internet companies to do the Government's dirty work - that side supports free speech. The other side gets their support from pro-censorship people, and would love to support the censorship plan. So we need to do everything we can to make sure that the pro-free-speech people inside the Coalition win the argument.

That means we need to convince as many people as we can that this plan is a bad idea. When Liberal Party MPs and Senators talk to their voters and supporters, we want those supporters to tell them not to support Internet censorship. So when you're talking to your friends and relatives, think about the arguments in this leaflet, and discuss them. Remind your friends and relatives that the only way to protect children online is to fund the police properly, and that it's the job of parents to help their children deal with life, and that parents don't need the Government to tell them how to raise their children.

Where can I find more information?

Look up these websites, and join in the discussion:








If you're a member of the Twitter website, check out



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It's your responsibility to check that the work is created by me and not somebody else. Accounts on sites like flickr or Odeo that are listed as belonging to 'Let's Take Over' or 'djackmanson' will probably be mine.


Protest Israel's attack on Gaza: Fri 9th and Saturday 10th of January #gaza

This Friday and Saturday there will be public protests against the Israeli attack on Gaza.

At 5pm on Friday January 9th there will be a roadside vigil at Brisbane Square, across George St from the top of the Queen St Mall in the city - click here for a Google Map.

And on Saturday January 10 at 12.30pm there will be a rally at Queens Park, on the corner of Elizabeth and George St in the city - click here for a Google Map. The rally will be followed by a march through the city.

For more information phone Abdalla on 0413 783 853.

EDIT: for details on rallies around Australia, keep checking back at the Socialist Alliance site.

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