Saturday, March 14, 2009

Police thugs

There has been some disquiet at my reaction yesterday to a Western Australian jury verdict which found that police had used excessive force and that the injuries the police suffered when the victims defended themselves were therefore the fault of the police themselves. I applauded the verdict -- and felt that the police injuries might serve as a salutary warning against excessive use of force by them in the future.

Some video of the melee concerned has been available for some time but the jury had the opportunity to see that video plus hear eyewitness testimony about the matter so I am quite happy to call the jury verdict justified, regardless of what impression the video may make on the casual viewer. There would have to be previously unknown evidence brought forward for a jury verdict to be overturned.

Note the following comment: "But one of the McLeods' lawyers, Michael Tudori, said yesterday it was an "absolutely disgrace" that Mr Porter and others had criticised the case when they had not been present at the trial. He said the McLeods had been protecting themselves and family members from excessive police force, The Weekend Australian reported. "The jury's verdict was unanimous in that the police used excessive force; that's how and why they were acquitted," he said. "The police should be looking at and reviewing that footage as to how they behaved."

The official reaction to the matter, however, has been predictable: Proposals to legislate so as to narrow the ways in which people can legitimately defend themselves from police misbehaviour.

In the circumstances, I thought I might say a little more about why I applaud the injuries suffered by the police in the matter. For starters, I should mention this case as an addition to the four recent cases of police misbehaviour that I linked to yesterday. An elderly Asian lady was thrown around like a sack of dirt and badly hurt by NSW police officers. And all on the basis of mere suspicion, suspicion which was neither justified nor reasonable. The police were subsequently exonerated from any blame in the matter. From that and other cases it seems clear to me that the whole reason why many police are in the force is that it gives them the opportunity to hurt people and get way with it.

My disgust with the police was however triggered long ago -- in the Mannix case of 1984 in Queensland. A young lad was "fitted up" by police with with the murder of his father and was released from prison some months later only because the real villain voluntarily confessed to the crime. How lucky can you get? Barry Mannix might still be in jail otherwise. The case attracted much public outrage and an Inquiry was held but no action was ever taken against the police thugs concerned. It all happened during the Joh Bjelke Petersen regime and I was a member of the National party at the time. I resigned from the party over the failure to take any action against the police misbehaviour concerned.

The behaviour of the Queensland police in general, however, eventually became so malodorous that Bjelke-Petersen set up the Fitzgerald enquiry -- which resulted in the Chief of Police being sent to jail for some years. And if the Police Chief was corrupt, what does that say of the force he led?

It may be noted that there was another inquiry into Queensland police malpractice -- the Lucas Inquiry of 1977 -- which had recommended reforms to police procedures that might have prevented the onlaught on Mannix -- but the recommendations of that Inquiry were ignored.

And my disquiet was thoroughly sharpened when my car was stolen a couple of years ago. When I got the car back, I found that someone had dropped an ID card in it. And that someone could only be one of the thieves. So I went to the local cop shop with the card in the belief that I was handing them a conviction on a platter. They were simply not interested in pursuing the matter. I wrote to the officer in charge of the local station, to the chief of police, to the minister for justice in the government and to the Premier but all I ever got were fob-offs. My matter was simply too unimportant to bother with. Not enough opportunity for a stoush, apparently. More on the Queensland police here. Scroll down for details of my matter.

Perhaps because police have "dirt" on them, politicians tend to back and defend the police no matter what. While that is happening there is little that anyone can do but cheer when police get hurt. I would sympathize only if there were reasonable and effective recourse against police misbehavior available. But I know of nowhere in Australia where that prevails. The Mallard case certainly revealed long-term rottenness from top to bottom in the Western Australian force.

Climate sceptics fight tide of alarmism

By Miranda Devine

As the Rudd Government's job-killing carbon emissions trading plans come under fire, a conference of sceptical scientists met in New York this week to discuss developments bolstering the case against human-caused global warming. A disproportionate number of Australian scientists who lead the charge against climate alarmism spoke at the conference organised by the Heartland Institute, a US free-market think tank. Among them were the James Cook university paleoclimate scientist Dr Bob Carter, the former head of the Australian Greenhouse Office, David Evans, and Bill Kininmonth, the former head of the Australian National Climate Centre. "Each of the Australians were there because they have something special to offer," said Carter yesterday on the phone from Connecticut.

Evans told the conference the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relied on the existence of a "hot spot" in the upper troposphere over the tropics, predicted by computer models. But it did not exist. Kininmonth said predictions that global temperature "might pass a 'tipping point' and even go into a phase of 'runaway global warming' are an outcome of the flawed computer models and are not a realistic future scenario". Carter told the conference on Wednesday that climate change has always occurred and by focusing on futile attempts to stop it by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, we have lost sight of the need to adapt. Countries need to "be better prepared to understand, cope with and adapt to the damaging effects of . natural climatic events and trends".

Carter declared the conference mood optimistic but a downbeat Vaclav Klaus, president of the European Union and the Czech Republic, said sceptics had made little headway. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, he was the only person in a private session of European leaders who expressed doubts about anthropogenic global warming. "The environmentalists don't want to change the climate. They want to change us and our behaviour," he told the Heartland conference. "Their ambition is to control and manipulate us. Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising they recommend preventing [climate change], not adaptive policies. Adaptation would be a voluntary behaviour." Environmentalism had replaced socialism as the totalitarian threat to freedom in the 21st century, he said. "Environmentalists . do not want to reveal their true plans and ambitions: to stop economic development and return mankind centuries back."

The Heartland conference has received little coverage in Australia, and the odd New York Times report has dwelled on sneering dismissal from Greenpeace campaigners. But as sober analysis of developments in climate science filters out and economies decline, there are signs public perception is changing. Klaus cited a poll that showed only 11 per cent of Czechs believe humans have a significant influence on warming. A Lowy Institute poll last year found climate change had dropped down the list of policy priorities from equal first place to fifth, with Australians caring more about jobs. An Ipsos MORI poll found most Britons are not convinced climate change is caused by humans. In October, a poll commissioned by US conservation groups found only 18 per cent of respondents strongly believed climate change is "real, human-caused and harmful".

Carter described the most powerful speaker as Arthur Robinson, a professor of chemistry and co-founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. In a wake-up call to Christian groups who have rushed to embrace climate alarmism, Robinson pointed out the world's poor will bear the brunt of carbon prohibition policies. He described as "technological genocide" efforts to deny cheap energy, in the form of coal-fired power plants, to the Third World. "Billions of people who live at the lowest level of human existence will suffer greatly from the rationing of energy, and this, in turn, will lead to the death of hundreds of millions." Banning the use of DDT for mosquito eradication was the first "example of genocide by the removal of technology, [resulting] in the deaths of 30 to 40 million people and [leaving] half a billion infected with malaria".

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology climatologist Richard Lindzen told the conference: "Being sceptical about global warming does not by itself make one a good scientist, nor does endorsing global warming make one a poor scientist. One of the most difficult things is to realise . that most of the atmospheric scientists who I respect do endorse global warming. [But] the science they do that I respect is not about global warming. Endorsing global warming just makes their life easier." He also told to the conference, in excerpts posted on YouTube, "Most arguments about global warming boil down to science versus authority. For much of the public, authority will generally win, since they do not wish to deal with science . Those who are committed to warming alarm as either a vehicle for a post-modern coup d'etat or for illicit profits will obviously try to obfuscate matters."

But how can the courageous independent scientists in New York compete for attention with climate hysteria coming from such world leaders as Prince Charles, who in Rio de Janeiro this week claimed: "We have less than 100 months to alter our behaviour before we risk catastrophic climate change." Australia's future head of state is on a 10-day eco-tour to South America, aimed at boosting his popularity. He will travel in a luxury private Airbus, delivering a carbon footprint estimated at more than 300 tonnes. It just shows that what counts with climate hysterics is not the greenness of the planet but the brownie points they gain.


Political censorship of the web already ongoing in Australia

People must not see an anti-abortion page. And if abortion is not a political issue, I don't know what would be

In an unprecedented move, Australia's communications regulator has threatened to fine a company up to $11,000 a day for indirectly leaking part of its top-secret list of banned internet web pages. The action by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has wide ramifications for media companies, online publishers, web hosting suppliers and any organisation that publishes feedback from readers or customers on their website.

On March 10, ACMA issued Sydney web hosting company Bulletproof Networks with an "interim link-deletion notice" for allowing its customer, the Whirlpool internet community website, to post the link to an anti-abortion web page blacklisted by the regulator. Whirlpool is a popular website with around 276,000 members who regularly provide comments on the internet and broadband in Australia.

The interim notice, obtained by The Australian, stated that on February 19, ACMA received information that a Whirlpool forums page "may contain links to other websites that may contain 'prohibited content' or 'potentially prohibited content'".

According to the notice, ACMA determined that end-users in Australia could access the content on the blacklisted web page. ACMA gave Bulletproof around 24 hours to act. "Bulletproof must comply with the interim link deletion notice as soon as practicable, and in any event by 6pm on the next business day," the notice said. Bulletproof spokesman Lorenzo Modesto was surprised to receive a call, and the notice, from ACMA but decided to comply. "We received a call from ACMA's Jaclyn Smith on Tuesday morning. She laid out the whole scenario for us," Mr Modesto said. Bulletproof then contacted Whirlpool and a decision was made by the community website to remove the link.

"We took action and got the link removed as per ACMA's notice because it's the responsible thing to do when you get any such notice from the authorities," Mr Modesto said. "The (ACMA) notice stated that if we don't comply we could face fines of up to $11,000 a day. As a business we'd rather avoid that and focus on doing what we do best," Mr Modesto said. Mr Modesto said it was the first time the company had received a notice from authorities to take such action.

However, compliance didn't mean web hosting companies should take on the role of "content police". "We're a hosting provider. We'll comply with these notices and we have by notifying and working with our customer Whirlpool but no one should expect us to be the content police on the internet. "We cannot monitor what our customers' customers or members are doing on the web ... the police aren't liable for the crimes criminals commit, are they?" Mr Modesto said.

Whirlpool owner Simon Wright questioned why ACMA chose to slap the notice on Bulletproof instead of Whirlpool since it had published the web page. "ACMA should have contacted us first. "We felt compelled to remove the link to avoid getting Bulletproof into trouble," Mr Wright said. "Threatening friendships is something mobs do, not governments." ...

As at January 31, the ACMA blacklist comprised of 1090 web pages including refused classification, X18+ and MA15+ content. The blacklist, compiled via a complaints-based mechanism, is being used as a basis for federal Government-backed live ISP filtering trials.


His Eminence Cardinal Pell believes West now scared of criticising Islam

The West has become scared to criticise Islam and accepts death threats by Muslim extremists as normal, Cardinal George Pell has suggested in a speech in England. The outspoken Catholic Archbishop of Sydney said laws intended to promote tolerance were being used to stifle debate, which was "fermenting intolerance under the surface". In the March 6 speech at Oxford University, he also attacked a global campaign of "bullying and intimidation" by secular groups trying to drive Christians from public debate and stop churches providing schools, hospitals and welfare.

"Many in the West have grown used to practising self-censorship when it comes to Islam, just as we seem to accept that ex-Muslims who criticise Islam and extremism, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, require round-the-clock police protection," he said. "You can be persecuted for hate speech if you discuss violence in Islam, but there is little fear of a hate-speech prosecution for Muslim demonstrators with placards reading 'Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas'."

He said the expense and time of defending frivolous hate-speech allegations and the anxiety from "being enmeshed in a legal process straight out of Kafka" stifled robust discussion. "No one in the West today would suggest that criticism of Christianity should be outlawed," he said. "The secular and religious intolerance of our day needs to be confronted regularly and publicly."

Some secularists wanted a one-way street, and sought to drive Christianity not only from the public square but from providing education, health care and welfare to the wider community. "Modern liberalism has strong totalitarian tendencies," he said.

Cardinal Pell said a Californian referendum that rejected same-sex marriage had been a focus for demonstrations, violence, vandalism and intimidation of Christians. He said "this prolonged campaign of payback and bullying" would have received much more attention if same-sex marriage supporters had been the victims. It was strange how some of the most permissive groups easily became repressive despite their rhetoric about diversity and tolerance, he said. "Opposition to same-sex marriage is a form of homophobia and therefore bad, but Christianophobic blacklisting and intimidation is passed over in silence," he said.

Cardinal Pell said discrimination laws had been used to redefine marriage and the family. Children could now have three, four or five parents, relegating the idea of a child being brought up by his natural mother and father to nothing more than a majority preference. He said last year's Victorian law decriminalising abortion made a mockery of conscientious objection, which had been attacked as merely a way for doctors and nurses to impose their morality on their patients. Cardinal Pell said Christians urgently needed to deepen public understanding about religious freedom.


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