Thursday, April 11, 2013

Crooks at  Australia's largest scientific research organization

No wonder  they support global warming

The CSIRO has duped one of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies into buying anti-counterfeit technology which could be easily compromised - passing off cheap chemicals it had bought from China as a "trade secret" formula.

The Swiss-based multinational Novartis signed up two years ago to use a CSIRO invention it was told would protect its vials of injectible Voltaren from being copied, filled with a placebo and sold by crime syndicates.

Police and drug companies are battling counterfeiters who are selling fake medicines that have killed hundreds of people. Last year Interpol seized 3.75 million units of fake drugs and arrested 80 people.

The invention sold to Novartis to protect against such counterfeit attacks - a microscopic chemical powder painted on the neck of its Voltaren ampoules - was being marketed by DataTrace DNA, a joint venture of CSIRO and DataDot Technology, a publicly listed company.

But a Fairfax investigation has established that CSIRO officials and Datadot executives misled Novartis about the technology in order to close the deal, after receiving explicit internal warnings the Novartis code could be easily duplicated.

Now, hundreds of millions of Voltaren ampoules across the world could carry the easily compromised DataTrace product. The injectible version of the drug is not approved for use in Australia.

Three months before the deal was signed, the scientist working on the technology, Gerry Swiegers, issued a last caution against proceeding. "The code which has been offered to Novartis may not be fit for purpose … because the code material is commercially available from a variety of vendors," Dr Swiegers wrote to DataTrace in March 2010. "If there is a serious counterfeiting threat to the Novartis ampoules, then this code risks being quickly and easily cracked in a counterfeiting attack. Serious questions could then be raised, especially if the successful counterfeiting attack resulted in injury or death."

But the deal went ahead anyway in July 2010. And despite having promised to supply a unique tracer code, DataTrace issued Novartis cheap tracer it had bought in bulk from a Chinese distributor.

The bulk tracer had been earmarked for low-risk applications with no real security concerns. But when DataTrace sold it to Novartis, it said the formula was a trade secret, and Novartis is believed to have been contractually forbidden from trying to identify its make-up.

Asked in general about industry practice, Jeff Conroy, the chief technology officer of Authentix, a rival company, said it was common "to require either a non-disclosure agreement and/or a non-reverse engineering clause when supplying a security material". It would be "very typical" to not disclose the precise material used in the tracer.

Had Novartis reverse-engineered the tracer potentially in breach of its contract, it would have been able to identify its components and check whether the phosphor formula was available elsewhere. In fact, at least two firms were selling the identical material to hundreds of firms around the world.

Damning internal documents seen by Fairfax show DataTrace and some of the most senior officials at the CSIRO knew that Novartis was being misled in a deal believed to be worth $2.5 million.

On August 7, 2009, Greg Twemlow, the DataTrace manager who engineered the deal with Novartis, emailed CSIRO managers Peter Osvath and Geoff Houston with this subject line: "Proposed answer to the question, 'is our Tracer code commercially available'."

"This is how we propose to answer the question if it's posed. We want everyone answering consistently. Answer: The CSIRO will make your Novartis codes using their Trade Secret methods and I'm sure you'll appreciate the importance of secrecy for Novartis and all of our clients. Having said that there may well be a possibility that aspects of the code could be simulated with commercially available products."

But it was much more than a possibility. Mr Twemlow himself confirmed this was the case in a "highly confidential" paper he prepared for a January 2010 DataTrace meeting attended by CSIRO officials. "We currently source end-product, ie we deploy the product as purchased by us for our clients," it said.

A leaked email list from one of the potential suppliers of the phosphor, a British company called Phosphor Tech, "indicates that many hundreds of companies could be buying the same materials we use for Tracers".

"The key question from our clients has generally been, 'Do we make our own Tracers?' Our answer has always been that CSIRO handles this."

Mr Twemlow himself understood the risks, according to internal company correspondence. "Greg, when we talked just before Xmas [2009] you indicated that if we used Chinese lamp phosphors in high security applications, then it would be 'only a matter of time' (your words, not mine) before the system would be copied and compromised," Dr Swiegers wrote in January 2010.

"The lamp phosphors were meant for bulk applications, not high security ones. This is especially significant in pharmaceutical applications where counterfeit pharmaceuticals could have serious safety implications (life-and-death implications)."

Mr Twemlow said on Wednesday he was bound by confidentiality agreements but that "it was a detailed and complex proposal to a large company … I was the sales guy." He said the final decision on the transaction was taken by others." Dr Swiegers, who was retrenched from CSIRO after a bitter falling-out, has since been agitating for reform of the peak scientific body.

Counterfeiting was such a serious commercial and public health risk that Novartis went to extraordinary lengths to ensure DataTrace and CSIRO had security measures in place to prevent the code from being cracked.

In April 2010, Dr Osvath completed a Novartis questionnaire guaranteeing the "protocols" CSIRO would employ "for secure freight logistics … with appropriate security measures".

The next month he sent an email to Mr Twemlow and others regarding an $8000 quote to create a "secure lab" at the organisation's Clayton campus in Melbourne. The money was spent installing a wall and security access readers on the lab doors - features which may have assisted in convincing Novartis that its tracer code could not be compromised.

"I was wondering whether it would also suit DataTrace's purposes, to have signage on the door, identifying the area as a 'DataTrace Lab'," he wrote. "While it will be used for other purposes … it might be useful for you, and not stretching the reality too far."

In fact, a team of auditors from Novartis had already visited Australia to check on the company's claims. In August 2009, the team visited CSIRO's Clayton campus and was given a series of presentations by the company, including one by Dr Osvath on "CSIRO: secure supply and support for DataTrace DNA/Novartis project".

In July 2010 DataTrace announced a five-year deal with an unnamed pharmaceutical company to the stock exchange.

Just three months after the deal was announced to the market, CSIRO sold its 50 per cent stake of the company, worth $1.3 million, for 8.93 per cent of DataTrace's parent company, DataDot Technology.


Australian public schools abandoned by wealthy families

I wonder why?  It wouldn't have anything to do with the collapse of discipline in State schools, would it?

WEALTHY families are deserting the public education system, with poorer students making up double the number of wealthy children at Australia's government schools.

This privilege exodus is most pronounced in high school, with more than 75 per cent of the highest earning families enrolled in independent and Catholic schools, according to analysis of 2011 census data.

The research shows a dramatic social shift during the past 25 years, with low and high income families equally represented at state schools in 1986.

"In contrast, a quarter century later in 2011, the differences are very marked: the government sector has almost twice the proportion of students from low income families relative to the proportion from high income families," said report author Barbara Preston.

In some states (Tasmania and South Australia) the proportion of students from low income backgrounds in government education is as much as four times higher than that of wealthy families.

Separate analysis of data from the My School website shows that not only do private school students attract 25 per cent more income than their public counterparts, they enjoy a higher rate of increase in government funding.

Private schools also outperform the other sectors and enjoy smaller class sizes than government schools, which have seen an increase in the student to teacher ratio.

The research also confirms the middle ground held by the Catholic education system, which has more wealthy than poor students, but mainly caters for children from medium income families.

Education experts agree higher concentrations of disadvantaged children hurt student performance, with a "drag down" effect felt across the school.

The report comes during intense focus on school funding, with the Federal Government struggling to push through its Gonski reform package at next week's COAG meeting.

"These findings highlight the importance of delivering funding reform to the address disadvantage and deliver money to where its needed most," said Angelo Gavrielatos, president of the Australian Education Union, which commissioned the report.

There are also stark differences across Australia, with wealthier states far more likely to enjoy a better social mix in their schools.

Tasmania and South Australia have the lowest family incomes and the widest social disparity, with Tasmanian school students more than two and a half times as likely to have low family incomes as high family incomes.

Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have the highest overall family incomes and the least social disparity.

New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland sit near the average, with around twice as many poor students than wealthy kids at public secondary schools.

The report also states access to high speed broadband is a significant advantage for students, and enjoyed by 94 per cent of students from high income families compared with just 68 per cent of lower income government primary school students.

To be released publicly today by the Australian Education Union, the research analysed census data from more than a million students whose families provided information about schooling and income in the 2011 census.

Family income was defined as low (less than $1249 a week), medium (between $1250 and $2499), high (more than $2500) and very high (more than $5000).


Leftist do-gooders condone violence and impose apartheid on blacks

Leftists are always trying to gloss over the fact that Australian Aboriginal communities are extraordinarily dysfunctional by civilized standards.  Leftists don't care about the suffering of Aboriginal women and children.

At what point does autonomy slide into apartheid? Do the rights of a culture outweigh those of its people? Why can't we talk about this?

The Aboriginal war memorial in Canberra is a small bronze plaque pinned to a rock in scrubby bush, 10 minutes - a universe - from official Australia's pompous mausoleum and inscribed with words you have to squat to read.

It's almost like deliberate symbolism: "We tolerate you blacks but, basically, what goes down in the bush, stays in the bush."

We are people of conscience. Every week we're shocked by another Indian rape, sharia stoning or fresh evidence that the German people "must have known".

As Anzacs we stand (and fall) for decency and truth. A fortnight hence we will honour the fair go, the level ground, the open heart, the unforked tongue and the clear eye. So we like to think.

Yet there is a snake writhing in our midst that we cannot bring ourselves to see or even name.

To the pack rapes, genital mutilation, arranged marriages, wife beatings and routine child sex at the heart of our continent we turn a blind, terrified and - truly - conscience-stricken eye. A recent Sydney Institute talk by academics Stephanie Jarrett and Gary Johns laid it bare. Indigenous violence, they argued, is not "our" fault. Although alcohol-exacerbated, it is endemic to pre-contact indigenous culture.

They are not the first. Many distinguished writers including Peter Sutton, Louis Nowra and Nicolas Rothwell have documented these horrifying stories, supporting observation that goes back to the First Fleet's Watkin Tench. These writers had nothing to gain. They must have known they'd be reviled by their own demographic, so it's hard to impute motives other than frankness.

In Another Country (2007) Rothwell wrote that "a pathology of violence, pornography, promiscuity and sexual abuse has taken hold", in remote indigenous communities. The book shone with a love of Aboriginal people and culture, yet Rothwell was accused of being an assimilationist-sympathiser.

The same year, English teacher Jenness Warin and UNSW mathematician James Franklin wrote a paper entitled Aboriginal Communities: Why the Trade in Girls and Other Human Rights Abuses Remain Hidden. Warin was accused of trying to empty Aboriginal lands.

Also in 2007, Nowra wrote Bad Dreaming, his unflinching omnibus of misogynist violence and routine child rape in central Australia. Reviewers, although shocked, continued to blame European impact and insist that Nowra's white-male view was inherently skewed.

What, does rape look different if you're brown? Does it feel different? Matter less? Is that what we're saying?

Reviewer Jan Richardson voiced the standard view. Rather than seek the root of violence, she argued, we should try to improve indigenous men's grasp of capitalism, hoping that "social inclusion and … positions that bring men the kind of esteem and authority they earned when their cultural milieu was unhindered by a foreign philosophy might promote fulfilment and reduce anger". Our fault, our responsibility.

But Nowra's question - whether indigenous male violence was intrinsic to pre-contact tribal culture - is core, and should shape our entire policy approach to indigenous development.

If violence is endemic, self-determination emerges as an error of tragic proportions.

White liberalism habitually sees all criticism of indigenous culture as right-wing racism. This effects a self-censorship that is profoundly racist - talk about anything, just not this - and, argue Jarrett and Johns, breathtakingly cruel.

We've had the stories. With a care and acuity one can only wish was more typical of academia, Jarrett and Johns array the evidence. Sadly, it is compelling.

Alice Springs politician Bess Nungarrayi Price, who writes the foreword in Jarrett's Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence (Connor Court Publishing 2013), was raised in traditional culture and has the scars to prove it. "Men had the power of life and death over their wives," she recalls. "Young girls were forced into marriage with older men."

Jarrett documents many current instances of the "customary rape of young women (often as part of a group deflowering ceremony) and sexual abuse of children".

Official statistics show black-on-black violence to be three times higher in remote communities than urban, and four times higher against women than men. Hospitalisation for family-related violence is 30 times more likely for an indigenous person than a non-indigenous.

There's also paleopathology showing that cranial injury from attack was almost four times higher, pre-contact, in women than in men.

It's not just booze. Indigenous alcohol consumption is falling, but the violence rises. Men who are peaceable in the city revert to routine violence in remote cultures. Women who are young and successful in the city return to tribal culture, becoming trapped in violence and coercion.

Therefore, argues Johns in Aboriginal Self-Determination, the Whiteman's Dream (Connor Court Publishing 2011) current "self-determination" policies are not only massively wasteful - throwing billions of dollars into a black hole of impossible service provision in remote areas - but condemn women and children to lives of unconscionable brutality.

They could be wrong. This could be a massive conspiracy. There could be other explanations of the damaged skulls, the violence, the abuse.

If so, these counter-arguments should be put. Instead, we have emotion, ridicule and snide personal attack.

The Monthly's John van Tiggelen wrote a snarky, gossipy review dissing Jarrett ("tremulous", "slightly posh"), her PhD ("human rights before cultural rights"), Johns ("a Howard man"), their publisher ("a bush operation") and their audience ("white-haired white men"), as though ipso facto outing their secret belief that, in his words, "once a savage, always a savage".

But to talk truthfully of violence is not to undermine Aborigines. Two centuries ago white Australia was also violent and abusive. It is the rule of law that dragged us out, protecting weak from strong.

And that's the crux. Endemic or not, this violence is illegal. Condoning as "customary law" what we would never countenance for ourselves is not autonomy. It's apartheid.

As Price notes, "the best thing about acknowledging … our own traditional forms of violence is that … we can fix ourselves. We don't need to be told what to do by the white man."

So let's have the discussion without the ridicule, since if it can't be discussed, it can't be fixed.


Aboriginal scholar off to Cambridge

Notice how black she is

TASMANIAN Sarah Lynn Rees is among just four people to win a 2013 Charles Perkins Scholarship for indigenous Australians.

Sarah will start post-graduate studies in architecture and urban design at Cambridge University later this year.

A descendant of Dolly Dalrymple and the Plangermaireener people in Tasmania, she grew up in Hobart before achieving first-class honours in a Bachelor of Environments, majoring in architecture, at the University of Melbourne.

The 23-year-old now works for Melbourne's Jackson Clements Burrows Architects and was thrilled to be named a recipient.

"My research proposal was on the concept of nomadic housing and indigenous culture," Sarah said.

"It's still four more years of study and experience to become a registered architect, but I'd become the eighth indigenous person to be an architect in Australia. There are only seven."

Sarah attended MacKillop College at Mornington and Rosny College.

British High Commissioner Paul Madden announced the scholarships in Canberra today. Worth $50,000 a year, they are designed to assist post-graduate studies at Oxford and Cambridge.

In 1966, Dr Perkins became the first indigenous Australian man to graduate from university. [Charlie Perkins was not much more Aboriginal than I am.  He had a nose like a tin-opener and yellow skin  -- and no lips at all!]



1 comment:

Paul said...

We had a weekend of indigenous culture in our street last weekend. The music emanating from the opposite and down 2 Commission hovel first hit my ears at 5:30 on Friday morning when I got up for work. (I didn't know aboriginals were into Celine Dion and light jazz so I suspect someone may have "found" an iPhone). I got home that evening and He Who Must Be Obeyed told me that it hadn't stopped since....By 3AM Saturday morning the booze must have hit critical because then the fighting started in the street with all the attendant screeching and profanities. That marked the limit and the convival party atmosphere of the past 20 hours gave way to very shaky barefoot kickboxing and endless cries of "yawfarkinkun" (which I think means "that was my cask"). The silence since has been a blessing but as cultural events go, while it was not quite Moomba, the spirit and at least two of the colours of Moomba were there at least until 0.15 was breached. The other Cairns indigenous cultural event, the housebreaking tournament seems to be over now that school is back in, thank you welfare reform.