Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't cut and run on the Kurds

Iraq may splinter after all. Something I and others mooted at the time of invasion.

Despite the general anarchy and civil war there, one significant group have been grateful for the fact that Saddam was removed. No significant paramilitary groups have sprung out of them to mount homicidal attacks on passing US soldiers. They are a long suffering people; the Kurds.

If Iraq looks seriously like splintering or regressing into oppression, we may not be able to prevent it. But we could seal off and protect an autonomous Kurdish homeland. We could try and do a deal on behalf of the smaller minorities (if there are any Christians or Jews left) where they can seek refuge in Kurdistan in exchange for our protection and recognition of that nascent state.

We owe it to the Kurds, we should not feed them to the wolves. Message to Turkey- cope.

Don't arrest them

Just hand them over to her father, together with a crown-sealed immunity from the A-G. What would be suitable punishment for this? Death? Crippling with an iron bar?

Why do these animals disgrace us by sharing our DNA?

UPDATE: It's now a rape investigation. Good. Go to hell in a handbasket, you little vomitbags.

UPDATE II- Thoughts on YouTube:

The video in question is allegedly footage of an underage rape. People say companies like YouTube cannot be restrained, they are too big, it is impossible for them to police everything put onto their site. But they are lying.

It is impossible for them to police everything if they refuse to spend money employing people to police it.

There is also the question of whether we need the technology at all. Oh it's fun, hip, insane, get-out-of-the-way progress. Progress that includes film after film taken without the consent of the leading characters. Films at the vanguard of free speech, pushing the boundaries. Y'know, films of schoolgirls punching each other in the face, or of thugs urinating on and sexually assaulting a young girl.

We can block paedophilia can't we? Why not this trash? Leering footage of sexual assaults on underage girls qualifies for censorship in my humble opinion...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Crikey Piers, Revenge is Sweet!

Rub the salt in. Piers Akerman on Crikey:

...almost anyone can call themselves a journalist these days, as evidenced by the nonsense published by people claiming to be journalists on websites such as ... Stephen Mayne's Crikey.

Crikey on Piers Akerman:

...a NSW judge had this to say about Piers Akerman, in the course of awarding a $200,000 defamation payout .... "The inaccuracies of fact by the defendant... are gross... so extreme a misstatement of fact as to vitiate any defence of comment for any imputation based on it."

Yep, anyone can call themselves a journalist these days. Even Piers Akerman.

We on the left are well aware that the likes of Piers rely on bile as a substitute for competence.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Picture of my cats Mao and Minh

Mao is a 2 year old cream burmese, Minh-Minh is his half sister, half persian with the seal points.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What price the Mildura Massacre?

6 dead because, allegedly, he was drunk, speeding and had his 4 year old son on his lap holding the steering wheel.

I'm prepared to hold back on the stream of hateful vitriol that's bubbling away inside me. I am thus because I doubt he will see the mercy of the law. Its quality is likely to be finely strained indeed.

A couple of weeks back, seeking inspiration as I waited on my job offers, I walked into a random hearing in the Victorian Court of Appeal. The case I heard argued before the 3 judges involved an appeal by the prosecutors against a sentence for culpable driving that they said was manifestly inadequate.

That offender was just 18 at the time, with one driving prior. The victims in that case had both voluntarily got into the car with the intoxicated driver, and the girl who died most likely didn't have a seatbelt on. That offender suffered significant injuries himself in the accident.

The alleged offender in Mildura is 35 and the 6 victims in no way chose to share risk with him. He also put his own kids, especially his son, at risk.

Here's what the judges said in the Court of Appeal:

Whereas sentences of less than five years for culpable driving were once not uncommon, today such a sentence is a relative rarity, except perhaps where one is concerned with a first-time offender and the death of the victim has been more the consequence of bad luck than out and out stupidity.

That offender had his sentence increased from 3 years to 6, with a non parole of 3.5.

The Mildura accused may get some relief because he has kids to look after, and if he has no priors that could help as well. But 'out and out stupidity' sounds like a very good description of what we've heard so far, and I'd personally be banking on 7 or 8 years, with at least 4 behind bars, for this sad fool who's ruined so many lives.

Pointless provocation

We've known North Korea had prototype nukes lying around for several years. We, meaning the US in particular, chose to focus elsewhere.

Now we, meaning Australia as well for some utterly inexplicable reason, choose to prod and poke this insane little nation with condemnation and sanctions.

Why is this pointless? Because...

We are just bluffing and they know it;

They could care less about economic sanctions- this is an old style dictatorship happy to starve its citizenry in the process of preserving power;

We would not and pretty much could not mount a conventional war on North Korea, they have one of the most powerful militaries in the world and are incredibly close to South Korea, and not that far away from Japan;

Our only military option would be to strike North Korea right now with several nuclear devices, which won't happen; and

They may be lunatics but, unprovoked, there is no evidence that they would seriously consider rekindling the war with South Korea or attacking anyone else.

The US is calling a non-existant bluff. North Korea hasn't actually demanded much, they want the US to meet with them directly, primarily because it feeds the ego of their delusional leader. So what? If this all ends in tears, and hundreds of thousands of dead people, do the people who fucked up Iraq really think historians will look back and say 'they were right to refuse to meet and talk'?

Argue all you want. I'm right. This is a fast track to nothing gained and everything, EVERYTHING to lose....

What do KFC, Subway, Bendigo Bank, Vines Lawyers have in common?

Sponsorship of the Ocean Grove Football Club, according to the club website. Here, according to The Age, are their brand endorsed dinki di footy players being larrakins:

The men yelled "F... off Jews" and "Go the Nazis," Mr Vorchheimer told a News Limited newspaper. He alleged they then motioned to him and his children as if they were shooting a gun.

In front of his kids.

"I was pulled toward the open window and then punched by a right hand into my left eye by a passenger in the bus," he said. "Meanwhile my kids are on the sidewalk crying and screaming."

Mr Vorchheimer said he had suffered headaches and nausea since the attack, while his children had received counselling.

Real anti-semitism. How many right wing commentators, in particular those who scream 'anti-semitism' at anyone who doesn't support exterminating the Palestinians, will be baying for blood over this one?

Ocean Grove Football Club president Michael Vines confirmed players from his club were at the Caulfield Guineas that day and police were investigating the incident.

"Like any sporting club at our level, we expect our players to behave
responsibly," Mr Vines said.

'Responsibly'? So shouting neo nazi hatred at and punching a man out walking with his kids is 'irresponsible'? Is that much more than praising with faint damning?

Any politician serious about attacking race hatred and anti semitism would demand the club expel every player or member involved in this incident or else be shut down. Ditto for the Geelong Football League. And KFC Ocean Grove, Ocean Grove Cellars, Subway Ocean Grove, Bendigo Bank, B.M. Legal, and Vines Lawyers might want to revisit their sponsorship agreements.

I note Vines do criminal law and personal injury, which the Ocean Grove Football Club could find useful in the coming months.

'Go the Nazis', they shouted. In front of his kids.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Not another Rum Jungle?

NT politics are a funny beast. Given the tiny population and the kind of money you can dig out of the ground up there, the fact that a Labor Chief Minister endorses a mine is no guarantee that the best possible science is being applied in a precautionary manner:

We have rigorously followed due process to ensure that economic gains are coupled with environmental integrity and community benefit.

Which means what, exactly?

Weasel words, when you try to reconcile the literal meaning of environmental integrity with the fact that, to Mr Lefty's ranting chagrin a few days back, they literally intend to dig a very, very large ditch and divert the McArthur river.

'The environmental damage will be outweighed by the economic gains' would be a more honest way of expressing the same proposition.

Time will tell whether she's right or whether this becomes another Rum Jungle. There's a major calamity they haven't included in Bishop's draft Australian History textbook, I'll bet.

How DO you damage the reputation of a child killer?

Defo here, defo there.

Someone living a Floating Life in Surrey Hills asks:

Would my habit of from time to time referring to the Prime Minister as “The Great Grey Garden Gnome of Kirribilli House” be defamatory, or would I escape because a reasonable person would not thereby think any less of the Prime Minister than they did before?

Daniel celebrates an $11.3 US million defo win in the US, hoping it will lead to a clean up of the those inhabitants of the blogosphere

...who are so lacking in integrity, creativeness, and ideas for posts that they use their blogs quite often to attack and ridicule other blog publishers with whom they may disagree or who may do things differently to them...

On the last thread Legal Eagle asks if I've read ABC v O'Neill. In that case a convicted child killer is suing the ABC over a doco called The Fisherman. He got an injunction- a holding order preventing broadcast of the doco until the case gets to trial- but last month the High Court scrapped it, talking about free speech as they did so.

Back in law school they told us many of the best improvements to the common law came about when a little old lady or similar, heart-tugging party, came before the courts. Perhaps a convicted child killer who's trying to sue for defo comes into the same category?

The Chief Justice and the newest member of the High Court said (of the lower courts):

They failed to take proper account of the significance of the value of free speech in considering the question of prior restraint of publication,

...good, free speech gets an affirming guernsey...

and they failed to take proper account of the possibility that, if publication occurred and was found to involve actionable defamation, only nominal damages might be awarded.

In other words, how do you damage the reputation of a convicted child killer?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Law Lords diss defo with public interest defence

UK Libel Laws, the basis for and close cousin of Australia's defamation regime, have made a quantum shift towards freedom of speech following a significant House of Lords decision:

..journalists will be free to publish material if they act responsibly and in the public interest and they will not be at risk of libel damages even if relevant allegations later prove to be untrue.

That's probably an over-optimistic journalist's take on what I'm sure is a finely-parsed ratio with a few devils in its complex detail. Nonetheless it's a huge change. Unlike Australia, whose High Court has given us a cautious right of political communication, I'm not aware of any previous moves by the UK's highest court to wind back their notorious libel laws in this manner.

The key test was whether a media organisation or newspaper acted fairly and responsibly in gathering and publishing the information, the judges said.

If the reporter and editor did so, and the information was of public importance, then the fact that it contained relevant but defamatory allegations against prominent people would not permit them to recover libel damages.

Assuming the Times have summarised it correctly, there are 3 elements to this defence, and all of them must be satisfied:

1) Acted Fairly;

2) Acted Responsibly; and

3) The issue is of 'Public Importance.'

I'm not that au fait on the intricacies of defo, feel free to correct me, but my reading is that in one fell swoop the UK has come from behind to firmly overtake Australia in the free communication stakes.

Our limited ability to 'discuss' political affairs, law since the mid 1990s, has not prevented a queue of politicians supplementing their super at the expense of the media, including small, dissident media like Crikey. And the new uniform laws aren't expected to radically extend this:

To some extent, the new defences of qualified privilege and honest opinion protect newspapers against claims from public figures; nonetheless, public figures will continue to take offence and threaten action, and this undeniably must have some chilling impact on papers, especially the smaller regional ones which cannot so easily afford to defend, let alone lose, a libel suit.

A side comment by the Law Lords may also flag consequences for other contentious areas like professional negligence:

The ruling also said that judges, with "leisure and hindsight" should not second-guess editorial decisions made in busy newsrooms.

Will that also start to apply to Obstetricians, Paramedics, even Lawyers who frequently find their split-second high-pressure decisions being forensically deconstructed for weeks on end in courtrooms?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Beta not have lost my feeds

Converted to Beta, largely because I figure pretty soon Blogger will start pushing and stop bothering with the old model. Also category lables could be vaguely useful.

Can anyone confirm that the old feed still works, or have I lost subscribers with this move? Also, is Beta giving people the shits for any other reasons?

The Fear

Learned some new yoof lingo from my cousin on the weekend. The Fear is what you wake up with if you've had a blinder and don't know what you said or did or to whom you said or did it. They ring each other up and say 'I've got The Fear' and there is instant understanding and empathy.

I like it. Why understate something with such grave, life-altering potential?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Backward nation identified

The Australian's Editorial:

...Kim Jong-il has turned its back on every norm of international and moral behaviour.

Note change of editorial policy, The Oz now supports normative principles of international behaviour. Bring on another Lebanon.

And with its announcement on Tuesday night that it feels compelled to go through with a nuclear weapons test, the Pyongyang regime has confirmed the backward nature of its regime once and for all.

Nuclear test= backward? Well I'm glad they won't be feeling too lonely in their regression: of January 2005 there are approximately 5,300 operational nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile, including 4,530 strategic warheads and 780 non-strategic warheads. Almost 5,000 additional warheads have been retained in the "responsive reserve force" or are in an inactive status with their tritium removed.

So far backwards they're forwards again. Anyway, it won't stop us digging the key ingredient out of the ground.

Off to the mines, boy

The future looks bright:

...figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the skills shortage is having a profound effect on the choices of 15- to 19-year-olds in Western Australia, where the school participation rate has fallen from 75.5 per cent in 2000 to 69.7 per cent last year.

Craig Emerson says it's a worry, and that all kids should finish year 12. I agree.

Howard doesn't, but that has nothing to do with lowest common denominator politics and the triumph of anti-intellectualism. It's just that:

Not everybody is suitable for a university education.

Ah. School has no other value, and what's more you can leave school in year 10 and easily make your mind up later as to whether you feel you are suited to a university education.

Or you can die in a mine somewhere, if that's what you were born and bred for.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No beer for a week

I'm on antibiotics. Arm has just come out of sling. Can barely use left hand at all due to the precise location of a deep tooth-shaped wound between the tendons of my wrist. Every time I feel like a beer, which for obvious reasons is frequently, I have an almost overwhelming urge to kick the cat from one end of the house to the other.

But I don't. Though I'm more wary of him, his trust in me, despite the fact that he copped it immediately after he savaged me, is as strong as ever. He sniffs around the wound then rests against my arm, purring, as if to say forget whoever did that to you dad, I'll make you better.

Cats have neither a memory for finer nuance nor a sense of irony.

The altercation's had a bigger impact on Minh-Minh, who has been a bit out of sorts and melancholy ever since. I'm attempting to fix this with prolonged shoulder rides (she's a shoulder riding kitty) and lots of reassurance.

We need a new house. Everyone with a 3 bedroom Calibung in the area between Westgarth and Bell Street please step forward.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Psychotic Cat close to exile

Chairman Mao has had his 3rd serious psychotic episode. I'm not referring to a hiss, a firm bite to indicate annoyance or any of the like. I mean a 100% flip so that when you look into his eyes you see a blank sea of inexplicable fear and hatred. Until he flips back. It's like a switch.

It's not fun, it's not acceptable and it's not going to be tolerated when there's a toddler around. Which is deeply depressing, but non-negotiable.

The first time was when Minh-Minh, his half sibling, came on board. He really was a nut, for a couple of days, before becoming an apprehensive but vaguely sane creature and adapting soon after. Because I'd read that that's what cats do I accepted it, but was apprehensive. You'd have to see it to know the extent of the contrast, the flip.

The second was the last time we put him, with Minh, in the cattery, where previously he'd adjusted well and been loved by all the attendants. He did the flip again, and no-one could go near him until we arrived to take him out.

When we next holidayed we got a cat sitter. I hoped that was the last time we'd see it.

Today he did what he does quite often: jump the fence to explore the 2nd garden, then wander under the house. Usually you wait 10 minutes at most and he wanders back out, and when you grab him at first opportunity he might struggle to get away and keep 'playing' but he takes it all with fairly good humour.

But this time he spent an hour. Though he'd been in a good mood beforehand, as far as I could tell, he stayed under there glaring at me, and hissed when I showed him Minh. Hissing at her is a good sign he's flipping I think, because usually he defers to her and is affectionate.

When he eventually wandered out, looking quiet and benign, I reached down and grabbed him- pretty lightly- and he absolutely flipped. I couldn't control him properly because my other hand was holding her leash and when she saw him flip she panicked and started jumping around as well.

I made a split second decision that if I let go of him while he was flipping he'd potentially disappear for days so I held onto both of them while trying to wriggle back through the front door.

He absolutely gave it to my hand and wrist, big, deep bites that bled all over the ground and the walls in the house. When I had her in the door and could use my other hand I got him under control but not before he put a good couple of toothmarks in that hand and wrist as well.

He copped a slap far less than he deserved and is currently locked in the laundry until he cools. Minh keeps wanting to know what's going on but if she gets close while he's nuts he'll just put holes in her.

I guess all pets are wild animals, but perhaps the difference between those that genuinely adapt to domestic life and those that can't is the threshold it takes to snap them into pure, psychotic violence against the hand that feeds them.

I don't think he'd last long as an outside cat but we are going to have to do some thinking. I've already heard a number of sad tales of pets who couldn't handle newer additions to the family. I don't want us to join that, but there really is no room to move in the order of priorities.

Depressing. But the hands that feed are currently bandaged and bleeding, and I'm off to the doctor to discuss tetanus shots tomorrow. This will NOT happen again.

UPDATE: By late eve he was sheepish but sociable. Completely calm (4 hours in the laundry did the trick apparently). This morning jumped up for a nuzzle. I reluctantly let him, and his eyes closed with that adoring look he gives when he's handing out the love.

It was, as I suspected, a psychotic episode rather than some ongoing malaise. A slight wariness is all he displays to show that he's got any memory at all of the incident. Meanwhile, I'm off to the doctor.

On a slightly more comical level, apparently my mother got a full earful of everything. She'd called just before he came out, insisted on talking to beloved who'd just arrived home, leaving me with a cat in each hand when it was action time. However for her recalcitrance she got to hear the cat screaming like a banshee and me shouting "fucking c..[not cat]" at the top of my lungs.

I'm pretty loud. She might agree to call back later next time there's a crisis.