1. image: Download

    Victoria’s Liberal government, lead by Ted Baillieu, has put a four year ban on Lend Lease obtaining contracts for government work as part of a push against construction industry unions. This has produced the unlikely bedfellows of the CFMEU, construction firms, and libertarians that don’t like heavy government regulations and black bans.

    Victoria’s Liberal government, lead by Ted Baillieu, has put a four year ban on Lend Lease obtaining contracts for government work as part of a push against construction industry unions. This has produced the unlikely bedfellows of the CFMEU, construction firms, and libertarians that don’t like heavy government regulations and black bans.

     
  2. Ironically enough, the same rebellious youths who wear Che Guevara shirts most likely would’ve been targeted by Guevara had they grown up in Cuba. Guevara considered anyone who listened to rock and roll music, who wore his hair long, or who spoke up against him a delinquent.

    His very goal was to, “make individualism disappear from the nation!” He considered it, “criminal to think of individuals!” Perhaps these young American individualists should think twice before brandishing the picture of a man who persecuted “hippies, homosexuals, free-thinkers and poets,” and who employed constant surveillance, control, and repression.

    — 

    Che Guevara: Exposing myths about a murderer (via stillmindstillcosmos)

    What is it with the left and self-loathing?

    (via samclifford)

    So I guess this would be a good opportunity to pimp my friend, Tim Norton’s Che/Kanye/hipster t-shirt. 

     
  3. The costs of a law and order auction

    phetdreams:

    If you’ve lived in NSW at an election, you’re probably used to the consistent scaremongering of both parties participating in a law and order auction. One will promise legislation that will ‘better tackle yobs’ the other will say they’ve budgeted an increase of hundreds of officers to enforce the law. More often than not these ‘auctions’ are used to make full throated guarantees that ‘roadblocks’ to better law enforcement will be removed so the ‘police can do their job’.

    Over the course of the past 15 years in NSW we’ve seen a removal of unanimous jury verdicts, double jeopardy laws, changes to make bail harder to obtain and many other creeping assaults on hard-won liberties and legal processes in response to media fury over problems that have generally been concocted. We’re seeing another proposed law an order auction recently in NSW, over restricting a suspect’s ‘right to silence’ when being investigated by the police. Of course the language of the article proposes that this modification to the laws will only be used against hardened gangsters - instead of used to give police even more powerful a tool to potentially gaol the innocent. The right to silence is a hard-won right and one that should not be freely given away. Giving police the power to compel people to speak flies in the face of hundreds of years of legal precedent and is absolutely needless when, on almost every metric crime rates have been going down.

    Furthermore, a lot of this law and order auction charade is not based on any evidence or any effective policy, but is pure, focus-tested bullshit. This may work well with voters but the incredibly negative impact on the most vulnerable sections of our society are quite easily demonstrated. The dismantling of our civil liberties and the impacts on those most vulnerable shows that the politicians and the police association don’t care much for justice but want only marketable retribution. What we’ve seen in NSW and even in Australia are fairly small breaches, comparatively (If you consider the wholesale shredding of civil institutions like unanimous juries to be minor breaches), to some of the things going on in the USA. This is not meant as a criticism of the USA per se, but rather as an indication of the natural trend of these policies towards a more draconian interaction between the justice system and the people, and the horrific unintended consequences these policies can have.

    In the USA, a very similar (if not slightly more robust) approach to a law and order auction at both a state and a federal level (particularly in relation to drug policy), means that police officers are given incentives to arrest people, even for minor crimes. This includes police going as far as to plant drugs on people to meet drug war quotas. These incentives (many of them federally granted in partnership with the DEA) mean they also are better funded and receive bonuses for arresting small time drug users, rather than following up more violent crimes. Not only that, but in drug related crimes, police departments can substantially boost their budgets by confiscating and auctioning property they allege was used in the process of committing said drug crimes. All of this money and life is wasted for a policy that even a US Senate subcommittee has admitted has ‘failed’.

    The impacts of a law and order auction are quite easily quantified in terms of cost, but impossible to quantify in terms of the tears and blood shed by the victims of those policies. To put this into perspective, imagine if you were a young black male who had drugs planted on you by a police officer in NYC. The entire deck is stacked against you, there is really nothing you can do but plead guilty as a judge would factor that into a reduction of your sentence. To call that justice is not just laughable, it is evil. An entire system has been created to force the young and vulnerable into the grinder of a justice system that is unconscionably weighted against them. To say this system is law and order in action cheapens the concepts of both law (and the notion of justice that underpins it) and order.

    A similar call has been for sex offenders registries, again from the same media sources (I won’t bother to link at this stage, it gives them a degree of import they honestly don’t deserve). Many of the states in Australia have these registers but a further call has been made to make these registries public information. I don’t have to explain why that’s probably a pretty bad idea, yet the calls still come. There is no doubt that some of these individuals have committed unspeakable crimes, but judges and prosecutors are hamstrung by legislation that requires individuals convicted of crimes such as urinating in public to be registered as sex offenders. When even Human rights watch thinks the system should be done away with, you know you’re not pursuing good public policy.

    The most heinous elements of these registries are the restrictiveness of the laws and elements of the legislation that do not give judges leeway in sentencing and post-sentencing requirements. This link outlines the horrors of sex offenders lists and more importantly how truly evil they can be when the legal system has no discretion in their use. To think this is a US problem alone is false, it’s happening here in NSW. Note well:

    This applies even when an offence such as sexual intercourse with a minor was consensual (in some cases the couples later married), in cases of obscene exposure, and when the magistrate has decided to record no conviction.

    Anyone claiming that this sort of thing doesn’t or couldn’t happen here is either ignorant or a liar.

    Making the primary criterion of policing policy not evidence, but whether it focus groups well is warping the whole concept of justice and destroying thousands of years of precedent for popular support. Vandals are selling our core liberties to be a footnote in historical texts and we’re encouraging them to do it. We’re voting for it. We’re tacitly supporting it and the media is helping it all happen. Sullying what justice actually means for the sake of pleasing a mob with pitchforks shows that our approach is broken and appallingly so. Politicians are continuing to erode the separation of powers by hamstringing the legal system with mandatory minimums, modifications to legal process (such as majority juries) [tacitly attempting to undermine jury nullification of course] and many other pernicious attacks that are destroying our social concepts of justice. They use the imagery of activist judges and the like to justify draconian legislation that attacks at the heart of a liberal society. We have a great and hard-won legal tradition that is supposed to enshrine our legal rights and maintain the presumption of innocence until we are proven guilty. By tearing up these precedents, we make even greater victims of the most vulnerable people in society. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind and evenhanded, but all a law and order auction does is weight the scales even further in favour of the state.

     
  4. On SOPA

    phetdreams:

    I imagine most of you reading this have a blog or your own little website, a place where you’ve invested your own time and energy to carve out your own little corner of the web. You’ve probably bought your own domain name, or have a cool name on tumblr and you’re quite proud of it. Imagine that you’re wrapping up the year and you’ve written a list of your favourite songs of the past year. Imagine then that someone in the comments on the blog posts a link to one of those songs, a place where someone else can download it. Under the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (And Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act), you are liable for that content being posted and you can have your domain name seized and have your site blocked from major search engines. All for one little comment. There’s a fantastic infographic here that goes into how this system works.

    Now you might be wondering why I’m more than a little bit worried and more than a little bit upset about this bill as it’s one that would seemingly only affect American web users. Think about how many different web services that you use reside in or were created in the United States? Tumblr, the site that this post is on is hosted in the US. If a single person posts an image to tumblr that they do not hold the copyright for, under the provisions of this bill, the entire tumblr site could be taken down. Tumblr may remove the ability to post links and images altogether in order to remove potential avenues for liabilities under the regime. Imagine Twitter without all of the millions of links that go flying around each day and all of the millions of photos that brighten our days. All it takes is one complaint that can potentially lead to serious ramifications for web businesses.

    As the infographic outlines, that’s just the thin edge of the wedge, imagine some of the great startups like youtube, facebook and path if they were created after this odious bill had passed? They’d be either bankrupt or a fraction of what they are today, because they are places where people freely share content, ideas and links. Facebook is great not just because it has your ostensible friends on it but because you can share links, pictures and concepts with people. It becomes a place where you can share the things that bring you joy. Imagine how those sites would be if you couldn’t post photos, videos or links, at all. Imagine how dull and boring the internet would be if everything had to be pre-vetted before it could be shared just to assuage the dying business model of a few immoral media companies.

    The reason that it’s even more worrying is that this legislation is a template, a beta test if you will for the real thing, a world wide similar ‘anti-counterfeiting’ treaty that is actually nothing less than internet censorship. There was quite an uproar by internet freedom advocates when the ACTA was gleefully signed in 2011 and the provisions in that agreement are a fraction of what will be pushed in future agreements if SOPA passes. You can guarantee the luddites we have in governments all over the world will gleefully sign away the greatest power of one of the greatest inventions of human kind if spoken to sweetly enough. So much unrealised potential will be quashed as inventors, makers and creators shy away from the current medium out of fear of prosecution or worse under the draconian provisions of the bill.

    There is current talk among some of the biggest websites on the internet, including Google, Facebook, Reddit, Youtube and others (Even Pornhub) of having a worldwide blackout day in protest of SOPA. Each of those sites will be inaccessible during that day and will present information as to why they are inaccessible. Sure, it will inconvenience a fair few people, but what better way to get the attention of several billion people that the internet, and the hard won freedoms we have on it, are not subject to the grotesque, lovecraftian, crony, regulatory capture that has so entombed the main pillars of the ‘content creation’ industry. In a world where bits can be seamlessly replicated without loss, the concept of enforcing the ownership of a certain order of ones and zeroes requires as onerous a regulatory regime as we’re seeing in SOPA. Realistically this is the only way to preserve the business model and the current status quo of these media companies. It is a truly cynical take on letting “A hundred flowers blossom”, protecting a dying species of tulip by burning all other plant life for a 100km radius.

    The internet is the best thing we have. This is the pinnacle of so much talent and so much genius standing shoulder upon shoulder. It is truly awe-inspiring that one of the greatest inventions of human creativity came directly out of the need for a robust way of communicating that was so far-fetched from what had come before it that even to this day its makeup is still quite poorly understood by so many people. To give those who claim to be the gatekeepers of true innovation and true creation carte blanche over what we, the denizens of the internet, can say and do and create is selling short a triumph of humanity. So many words will go unwritten, so many thoughts will go unthought, so much joy will go unfelt. Those who see only the pseudo-anarchy of the internet instead of the relationships, connections, creativity, beauty and freedom that it enables each and every one of us are missing out on the greatest period of history we have experienced so far. The internet, to those who wish to keep such a tight grip on the creativity of the human race that they risk asphyxiating it, is simply pearls before swine.

     
  5. image: Download

    phetdreams:

Hahahahahah I love this picture

    phetdreams:

    Hahahahahah I love this picture

     
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