Wednesday, September 28, 2011





Karl Quinn September 29, 2011
A terrible day for free speech in Australia, or just a terrible day for Andrew Bolt and bad journalism?
STANDING outside the Federal Court on the corner of William and La Trobe streets in Melbourne yesterday, Andrew Bolt pronounced it a black day for the press.
''This is a terrible day for free speech in this country,'' he said, reading from the notes he had written in courtroom No. 1 after losing the case brought against him by a group of fair-skinned Aborigines under the Racial Discrimination Act (1975).
''It is particularly a restriction on the freedom of all Australians to discuss multiculturalism and how people identify themselves,'' he continued. ''I argued then and I argue now that we should not insist on the differences between us but focus instead on what unites us as human beings. Thank you.''
With that, he strode off, declining to respond to the questions about whether he intended to apologise or appeal. But perhaps the bigger question is this: Was the judgment a terrible day for free speech in this country, as Bolt claimed, or merely a terrible day for Bolt and his employer?
Certainly it was a magnificent day for activist Pat Eatock and the eight others who sued Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times (publisher of the Herald Sun) over two articles he wrote for the paper and two blog posts on the paper's website in 2009.
As the verdict was delivered, a smattering of applause rippled through the courtroom; in the corridors and meeting rooms outside, the mood was a mix of disbelief and unbridled joy.
''It was never about free speech, it has always been a question of professionalism, and the reality is that the original articles were not professional journalism,'' said Eatock, a 72-year-old Aboriginal activist.
''The sword of justice has struck, and cut off the head of the serpent,'' said former ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark. ''Let's hope it doesn't grow two heads.''
The nine applicants contended that Bolt had implied in the articles and blogs under consideration that they had ''chosen'' to identify as Aboriginal because of the financial, political or career benefits such a choice conferred.
They argued that Bolt had contended that as lighter-skinned individuals of mixed background, they had more than one source of ethnic identity to ''choose'' from, and that by extension their identification as Aboriginal was unjustified.
What's more, they claimed he argued that in so doing they gained access to privileges and assistance that would have been better directed at more needy Aborigines.
The nine claimed that these imputations had offended, insulted, humiliated and/or intimidated them. They claimed the articles and blogs would have been reasonably likely to have the same effect upon any ''ordinary or reasonable'' person from a similar background.
Addressing a packed courtroom yesterday, Justice Mordecai Bromberg stated his agreement with much of that argument.
"I am satisfied that fair-skinned Aboriginal people, or some of them, were reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to have been offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed by the newspaper articles,'' he said as he delivered a summary of his findings that stood, in its 25-minute brevity, in stark contrast to the eight days of arguments in which both sides had put their cases in late March and early April.
In his rather more wordy 143-page written judgment, arrived at after some 175 days of deliberation, Justice Bromberg made frequent reference to ''the mocking or derisive tone'' of Bolt's writings.
He wrote that Bolt's use of language and structure ''is highly suggestive and designed to excite''. His style was ''not careful, precise or exact'' and the language ''not moderate or temperate but often strong and emphatic''.
''There is a liberal use of sarcasm and mockery,'' he wrote. ''Language of that kind has a heightened capacity to convey implications beyond the literal meaning of the words utilised. It is language which invites the reader to not only read the lines, but to also read between the lines.''
Any reader doing just that would have had a reasonable chance of coming to the conclusion that ''people who are not really Aboriginal are taking benefits that were intended for 'real' Aboriginal people'', that their motivation was ''political or to facilitate career-based opportunities'', and that their choice was ''divisive and racist'', in Justice Bromberg's view.
In sum, these imputations amounted to a breach of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
That section states that: ''It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if: (a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and (b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.''
The point of Section 18C, he explained, was to protect ''both individuals and society from the ills of the dissemination of racial prejudice''.
Having established that there was a breach of Section 18C, Justice Bromberg then had to consider whether that breach was balanced by the protection of free speech in the exemptions enshrined in Section 18D of the act.
The relevant exemptions cited by Bolt's defence team were around statements made for ''any genuine purpose in the public interest'' and ''fair comment'' that was an ''expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment''.
Justice Bromberg found that while Bolt appeared to genuinely hold the views he expressed, his writings were matters merely of public interest, rather than in the public interest.
More damningly, he found they failed the fair comment test on the basis of some shoddy journalism.
''The statements in question appear in an opinion piece,'' Justice Bromberg writes in paragraph 377 of his judgment, ''but they appear to be presented … as facts … The facts in question have not been proven to be true. To the contrary, in relation to most of the individuals concerned, the facts … have been substantially proven to be untrue.''
In paragraph 384, Justice Bromberg writes: ''The deficiencies to which I have referred so far are material and constitute a significant distortion of the facts.''
And in paragraph 405: ''It would have been highly inconvenient [for Bolt's argument] … to have set out facts.''
Justice Bromberg found against Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times with regard to the two articles, but not the two blog posts - not because of a lack of offence, rather because the offence was to an individual rather than a group. He claimed to have been mindful of the ramifications on the implied right to free speech (Australia has no enshrined right). 
''In finding against I have taken into account the value of freedom of expression and the silencing consequences of a finding of contravention against Mr Bolt and HWT,'' he wrote. ''Given the seriousness of the conduct involved, the silencing consequence appears to me to be justified.
''The intrusion into freedom of expression is of no greater magnitude than that which would have been imposed by the law of defamation.
''Additionally, I take into account that the conduct was directed at an expression of identity. An expression of identity is itself an expression that freedom of expression serves to protect. That expression also deserves to be considered and valued.''
Back in April, Bolt's lawyer, Neil Young, QC, flagged his intention to lodge an appeal in the event that this case was lost. Now that prospect has become reality, Bolt's publisher is taking a more circumspect approach.
''[HWT] is disappointed with today's Federal Court decision on the representative action by Pat Eatock,'' the company said in a statement issued late yesterday. ''We maintain that the articles were published as part of an important discussion on a matter of public interest. We defended the action because we believe that all Australians ought to have the right to express their opinions freely, even where their opinions are controversial or unpopular.
''We will review the judgment and then consider whether or not to appeal the decision.''
Others have already taken up cudgels on Bolt's behalf.
Liberal Party think tank Menzies House had by mid-afternoon yesterday established a website, supportbolt.com, that called for actions (and donations) in language similar to that used by Bolt outside court.
''Freedom of speech in Australia is under threat,'' the website exhorted. ''We need your help to stand up for our rights before it is too late. What has happened today is disgusting, but can be stopped with your help.
''Today the Federal Court just ruled that freedom of speech no longer exists in our country. That's right, they ruled that Andrew Bolt was guilty for daring to speak the truth about entitlements. And he can voice his opinion no more.''
That last assertion is certainly untrue. While Eatock had sought a gag clause on Bolt that would have prevented him from airing similar views again, that was not granted.
It is important, wrote Justice Bromberg, that ''on social and political issues in particular, people should be able to express their opinions'' even if ''those opinions will at times be ill-considered''.
The ''fair'' in fair comment, he added, ''does not mean objectively reasonable''.
Spencer Zifcak, president of Liberty Victoria, says he is less concerned by the ruling than he had anticipated.
The case is important, he says, ''because it required the judge to weigh in the balance the right to be free of racial intolerance and discrimination on the one hand, and freedom of expression on the other''.
Justice Bromberg came down on the side of freedom from racial discrimination, Zifcak says, ''because of the degree of hurt experienced by the applicants''. On that basis, he says, the conclusion is justified.
''Having said that, Liberty's view has always been that the relevant section of the RDA is drafted too widely.''
Causing offence and insult, Zifcak argues, should be too low a hurdle for the protections of the Act to be triggered.
''The question as to whether Section 18 may transgress the constitution's protection of freedom of public and political communication has not yet been tested in the High Court,'' Zifcak says. ''Bolt is likely to take it there.''
He says it is fair to assume Justice Bromberg wrote his judgment in the full expectation that it would be appealed. And it's equally fair to suspect this issue may not have run its race just yet.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011




By LEE FERRAN Sept. 27, 2011 The terror group al Qaeda has found itself curiously in agreement with the "Great Satan" -- which it calls the U.S. -- in issuing a stern message to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: stop spreading 9/11 conspiracy theories. In the latest issue of the al Qaeda English-language magazine "Inspire", an author appears to take offense to the "ridiculous" theory repeatedly spread by Ahmadinejad that the 9/11 terror attacks were actually carried out by the U.S. government in order to provide a pretext to invade the Middle East. "The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government," an article reads. "So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?" Though Iran was the first of the two to use the "Great Satan" as a synonym for the U.S., the author claims that Iran sees itself as a rival for al Qaeda when it comes to anti-Americanism and was jealous of the 9/11 attacks. "For them, al Qaeda was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world," the article says. "Al Qaeda... succeeded in what Iran couldn't. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories." The magazine also includes a short article allegedly written by al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden before his death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in early May in which bin Laden advises his fighters not to let American soldiers "become great in your eyes."Iran continues to spread the conspiracy theory, al Qaeda says, because doing otherwise would expose their "lip-service jihad" against the U.S. Apparently looking to bolster their ranks of the "Inspire" news desk, al Qaeda included at the end of the magazine a solicitation for contributors to the magazine "with any skills – be it writing, research, editing, or advice." Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 9/11 Ahmadinejad has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. was behind the 9/11 terror attacks, recently during the somber observance of the tenth anniversary of those attacks and then again in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly last week. That speech triggered a walk-out by the U.S. and several other delegations. "Mr. Ahmadinejad had a chance to address his own people's aspirations for freedom and dignity, but instead he again turned to abhorrent anti-Semitic slurs and despicable conspiracy theories," Mark Kornblau, the spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said at the time.



JASON LEE/REUTERS - A boy wearing a Peking Opera mask waves a Chinese national flag on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, March 1, 2011.

By Published: September 27

American policy makers worry about the dramatic increases in the number of academic papers being published and patents being filed by Chinese researchers. They believe that these will give China a formidable competitive advantage when it comes to innovation. After all, China is now only second to the U.S. in academic publications, and by 2015 it will file more patents annually than the U.S. does.
Our policy makers are right to worry, but they are worried about the wrong things.
The Chinese academic papers are largely irrelevant or are plagiarized. They do little more than boost national pride. Almost no innovation is coming from government-funded research labs. Meanwhile, Chinese patents aren’t an indicator of innovation, but are tollbooths that the country is erecting to tax foreign companies that come to China. The Chinese have learned to play the same games that American tech companies and patent trolls do: Use patents to extort licensing fees from other industry players.
China’s real advantage lies in its next generation — the students who graduate from its top colleges and become entrepreneurs. These kids are very similar to their counterparts in the West. They are smart, motivated, and ambitious. Whereas the children of the Cultural Revolution—who now work in government research labs and lead the State enterprises that dominate industry learned not to challenge authority and to play strictly by government rules, the new generation knows no bounds. They are not even aware of the atrocities of the previous era. They don’t hesitate to think outside the box, to take risks, or to have ambition. Unlike their parents, this new generation can innovate.
The changes I have seen in the entrepreneurial scene in China during my visits over the last six years are dramatic. It used to be that Chinese graduates strove to join Western multinationals. And because of the taboo associated with failure and the low social esteem granted to start-ups, parents discouraged their children from becoming entrepreneurs. No longer. With the success of entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma and Kaifu Lee and the fortunes being reaped by the earlier generations of technology startups, Chinese youth have role models, and parents are becoming more accepting of entrepreneurship. Joining a startup is now the “in thing” in China—just as in Silicon Valley. And it’s becoming acceptable to fail and start again.
There are start-up incubators springing up in all of China’s major cities. According to Lux Research, China venture capital investments reached $5.4 billion in 2010—an increase of 79 percent from the year before. There is so much Angel and Venture Capital available that investors have to compete for investment. One incubator I visited last week, in Beijing, called Garage CafĂ©, is offering free office space and Internet connectivity to start-ups just so that it can jump to the front of the line on investments.
During my most recent trip this past week, I also I taught classes at Tsinghua University, for an entrepreneurship program run by UC-Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship. The students there were very much like those I teach at Duke and Berkeley. They were hungry for knowledge, connections, and ideas. The only difference I noted was in the answer to one question: Why do you want to become an entrepreneur? American students usually talk about building wealth or changing the world. The Chinese said they saw entrepreneurship as a way to rise above “the system,” to be their own bosses and to create their own paths to success. They clearly did not cherish the idea of working for a stodgy state enterprise, an autocratic government, or what they deemed to be an opportunistic foreign multinational.
The tens of thousands of highly educated immigrants who return home to China every year from the U.S., give China’s entrepreneurial ecosystem a major boost. These returning immigrants are teaching locals how to build Silicon Valley–style companies.
Take Robert Hsiung, who graduated from Stanford in 2008. He received several job offers in Silicon Valley, Singapore, and Hong Kong. But he chose to become an entrepreneur and to move to Beijing, because the economy was booming and the number of Chinese Internet users was increasing rapidly. Robert’s first start-up, a social-media company called OneCircle.cc, was a moderate success. His next company, FoxFly, failed because larger players moved into his market space. In August, he launched his third start-up, which is building a professional-networking application. Robert told me that he had absolutely no problems recruiting top engineering students. And even though he had failed, Chinese investors readily invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in his latest start-up.
China has a chance to harness all this new energy and lead the world in innovation. But that doesn’t mean that it will. I asked students and local entrepreneurs about the obstacles that they expected to face. Nearly all of them cited two fears: That a bigger company, such as Baidu or Tencent, would steal their technology—because Chinese intellectual property laws are ineffective—and that once they achieved significant success, government officials would swoop in to control the company or demand a cut of the action.
Until China’s rule of law is strengthened and entrepreneurs are given the freedoms that they need, China may see a lot of start-up activity, but world-changing innovation won’t happen. Once China clears away those final obstacles, though, watch out. Here is the juice of the article. This article is about the promulgation of the Neo-Liberalism economic philosophy, which is the current model for upward wealth transferrance. Oddly enough, so was the last model, called 'Keynisian Economics'. The author of this article is not our friend.


09/26/2011 By 

Add former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to the list of retired top officials who see the current American political scene as dysfunctional and dangerous.
“As a result of several long-building, polarizing trends in American politics and culture, we have lost the ability to execute even the basic functions of government, much less solve the most difficult and divisive problems facing the country,” Gates said last week at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia where he received that group’s Liberty Medal.
He cited two causes worth considering.
The first was redistricting of congressional seats which, he said, created safe Republican and Democratic seats but led to party primaries “where candidates must cater to the most hard-core ideological elements of their base.” He wondered how this could be changed to “ensure that more candidates for Congress are forced to appeal to independents, centrists, and at least some members of the other political party to win election, just as presidential candidates must do?”

He also cited the role of an evolving news media. He looked longingly to decades past when three television networks and a handful of major newspapers dominated national coverage and “to a considerable degree, filtered extreme or vitriolic points of view.”
Today, he said, “hundreds of cable channels, blogs and other electronic media” have given wide dissemination to “every point of view, including the most extreme.” The result, according to Gates, though more democratic, “has fueled the coarsening and, I believe, the dumbing down of the national political dialogue.”
He described these two trends, along with some other factors, as polarizing the country at a time when the need is for “more bipartisanship, and more compromise to deal with our most serious problems.”
Citing his time working for eight presidents of both parties over more than 40 years, Gates said, none “had a monopoly on revealed truth.”
And without naming any of today’s leaders or presidential candidates, he warned: “Those who think that they alone have the right answers, those who demonize those who think differently, and those who refuse to listen and take other points of view into account—these leaders, in my view, are a danger to the American people and to the future of our republic.”


photographer has identified the cruel and cowardly NYPD supervisor who point blank maced a penned in group of young women and then slinks away Saturday at the Occupy Wall Street protests:
Deputy Inspector Anthony V. Bologna of the NYPD Patrol Borough Manhattan South.
If you think Deputy Inspector Bologna should be fired and prosecuted for his abuse of power, file an on-line complaint with:
UPDATED: The Guardian is reporting tonight that Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna also stands accused of false arrest and civil rights violations in a claim brought by a protester involved in the 2004 demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Then, 1,800 people were arrested during protests against the Iraq war and the policies of president George W Bush. Alan Levine, a civil rights lawyer representing a protester at the event, told the Guardian that he filed an action against Bologna and another officer in 2007. The case is expected to be heard next year.

Slow-Motion Video of Saturday's Macing Assault

And, James Fallows at The Atlantic writes:
According to the NYT, the chief police spokesman, Paul Browne, said that the policeman used pepper spray "appropriately." Great. On the video we can't hear what either side is saying. But at face value, the casualness of the officer who saunters over, sprays right in the women's eyes, and then slinks away without a backward glance, as if he'd just put down an animal, does not match my sense of "appropriate" behavior by officers of the law in a free society.

Sunday, September 25, 2011




Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:42AM GMT
The New York police have arrested at least 80 people protesting against Washington's management of the American financial system as well as Wall Street practices.

The demonstrators took to the streets Saturday during the “Occupy Wall Street” protest and gathered near the New York Stock Exchange, the Associated Press reported. 

The demonstrations, which began about a week ago, have brought hundreds of Americans to the most important US financial district, protesting against a number of economic issues, including bank bailouts, home loan crisis, and the widening gap between the very rich and those struggling in the aftermath of the US financial crisis. 

"We've got a whole bunch of people sitting in Washington that can't figure it out," said Bill Csapo, a protest organizer. 

As of June 16, 2011, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 395 banks have been seized by the US government. At least 46 US banks have failed in 2011 so far, compared to 157 in 2010, 140 in 2009, and 25 in 2008. 

Another incident that provoked protesters into action was the Wednesday execution of Troy Anthony Davis, an African American, in the State of Georgia over his alleged role in the 1989 killing of an off-duty police officer. 

His execution by lethal injection took place despite many legal holes in his case as well as Davis's insistence until his execution that he did not commit the alleged murder. 

The police forces tried to corral the demonstrators using orange plastic nets at Manhattan's Union Square. 

According to police sources, most of the arrests were made for blocking traffic, though one person has been charged with attacking an officer. 

Protest spokesman Patrick Bruner has lambasted the police response as "exceedingly violent,” emphasizing that protesters sought to remain peaceful. 

"They're being very aggressive ... half the people here have no idea what's going on ... I'm actually very ashamed to be a New Yorker," said Ryan Alley, a New York resident. 

Statistics published by the Stolen Lives Project estimate that the number of cases in the United States relating to police brutality has reached thousands. 

Most Americans that suffer abuse by the police do not report the case. Those who do file complaints, soon discover that police departments tend to be self-protective and that the general public tends to side with the police. 

In 2010, there were at least 2,541 reports of misconduct and brutality perpetrated by US police. 




CULTURE BUZZ MATT STOPERA Over 80 people were arrested in downtown Manhattan during a protest against Wall Street on Saturday. Protestors are complaining that police used excessive force. Judge for yourself.