Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Leftist moral blindness rolls on at New Matilda

Lissa Johnson, the tame psychologist at New Matilda, ignores most of the facts in her latest essay.  Someone has criticized her writing without getting to the heart of what she gets wrong so she gives a rather supercilious reply.  I excerpt the introduction to it below.  The last paragraph below encapsulates what she refuses to see and it doesn't get better from there on.  She deplores the Islamist attacks in Paris but adds:

"Our grief must be grief for all humanity, and all innocent victims, including victims of our own collective violence. I cited civilians killed and injured by US drone attacks in Yemen as examples"

Get it?  American attacks ON terrorists are as bad as attacks BY terrorists!

To adapt a saying by Mao, terrorists are fish that swim in the sea of the people so they are hard to kill without killing bystanders.  But we have to kill them before they kill others.  And the solution to that dilemma adopted by the American forces has been a very consistent one.  The Obama administration has been most careful in vetoing strikes where there is a likelihood of civilian casualties involved.  On some accounts two out of three target requests from the military are turned down.

The information available to U.S. military planners is of course not always perfect so some civilian casualties do occur.  The only way of totally avoiding civilian casualties would be to do nothing and let the terrorists continue on in their murderous ways. I guess that's what Lissa Johnson wants.

And American caution is not a recent development, the "JAGs" were regularly a great problem for American military men on the ground in Afghanistan.  Has Lissa ever heard of the JAGs?  If so, she promptly forgot it.  JAG stands for the Judge Advocate General's Corps, a branch of the U.S. military that aims to keep the actions of U.S. troops ethical and legal.  And in JAG guidelines, killing civilians is NOT legal. So in Afghanistan they refused many targeting requests on terrorists because it was not totally clear that they were terrorists -- sometimes leading to loss of life among American troops.

So our Lissa sees no difference between the actions of an armed force that goes out of its way to AVOID civilian casualties and an armed group who deliberately aim to INFLICT civilian casualties. Can there be bigger ethical blindness that that?  I can't see it.  She is not so much a disgrace as a pathetic Leftist fraud

I have recently been asked by news website the Tasmanian Times to respond to an article by freelance journalist Shane Humpherys, critiquing my analysis of the psychology behind the tragic Paris attacks.

Given that replying offers the opportunity of a case study in the psychology of systemic violence, and the metaphorical head-kicking that can come from challenging the status quo, I thought it was worthwhile providing a response.

My initial article outlined the shared psychological foundations – and human cost – of all intergroup violence, state-sanctioned or not. One main point was that victims of Western violence are just as human, just as dead or injured, and their families just as bereaved as victims of terrorist attacks.

I argued that if the Paris attacks are to be an attack on all humanity, then our grief must be grief for all humanity, and all innocent victims, including victims of our own collective violence. I cited civilians killed and injured by US drone attacks in Yemen as examples.


Turnbull government wants power to make internet companies do 'things' for national security

This is dangerous legislation. The powers it gives could fall into the hands of a future Leftist government and be used to censor criticism of that government

The Turnbull government is aiming to pass controversial new laws by 2016 that will give Attorney-General Senator George Brandis unprecedented powers to make phone and internet companies do unspecified "things" if he believes they are hindering national security.

Senator Brandis and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield on Friday afternoon released the second draft of the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR) Amendment Bill, which is designed to stop spies and criminals from using equipment and services to hack into telecommunications network.

But industry sources are worried the bill also gives sweeping and unspecified powers to the Attorney-General to force phone and internet providers such as Telstra and Optus to do whatever the government of the day wants.

"The Attorney-General will be provided with an additional directions power to direct a [telco] to do or not do a specified thing," the bill's explanatory memorandum says. "The types of things the Attorney-General can direct a [telco] to do or not do are not specified or limited, with the exception of the limitation imposed in section 313B.

"Section 315B provides the Attorney-General with the option to give a written direction requiring a [telco] to do, or refrain from doing, a specified act or thing within the period specified in the direction."

Under the current laws, the Attorney-General can already shut down any service that causes or helps acts that hurt Australia's national security.

But the new overarching laws add more layers of nuance to the off-switch, potentially affecting everything from the equipment being bought by telcos to the executives they hire and everything in-between.

This means Telstra could be ordered to stop buying network equipment from certain Israeli or Chinese vendors if ASIO, with the support of the Attorney-General, decided they were potential security threats. Companies failing to obey would face fines of up to $10 million.

The original version of the bill raised the ire of telcos who warned that stopping vendors from certain countries could limit the pool of potential suppliers and jack up the price of equipment.

As first revealed by Fairfax Media in July, tech and telco giants alike united against the bill, which they described as "regulatory over-reach".

But the bill does come with fresh safeguards, which the government believes will prevent any abuse of power.

The Attorney-General will have to speak with the Communications Minister and negotiate with the telco affected before going ahead with the action. They will also have to work out the potential financial cost of the actions and face the potential of merit reviews.

"The intention is that government agencies and [telcos] continue to operate in the current environment of co-operative engagement," it says. "If national security outcomes cannot be achieved on a co-operative basis, the Attorney-General can consider requiring compliance through the issue of a formal direction."

The government recognises that its moves could raise the cost of doing business and go against the duty of publicly listed companies to do the best thing for their shareholders.

"Fiduciary duties to shareholders can operate as a disincentive to invest in security measures for the purpose of protecting national security interests," it says. "For these reasons, a company board may prefer a clear mandate to govern its decision making."

The Communications Alliance is the telecommunications industry's peak body and its chief executive John Stanton told Fairfax Media that his members were "still digesting" the revised draft bill.

"The amendments that have been made to the draft bill are reflective of the concerns that Communications Alliance and other stakeholders expressed about the original draft, and certainly represent a more balanced approach to meeting the objectives outlined by government," he says.

"Communications Alliance and our members will work through the detail and look forward to engaging with government and the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Intelligence and Security to make any further necessary refinements to the legislation."


Police prey on victims of domestic violence

Victorian police officers have been sexually preying on victims of domestic violence in a dramatic widening of the sexual harassment scandal facing the force.

A Fairfax Media investigation can also reveal that a soon-to-be-released report by the state's human rights agency has found that levels of harassment or discrimination inside the Victoria Police may be on par or worse than that previously discovered inside Australia's Defence Force.

It is understood the abuse or harassment of vulnerable victims of crime, including domestic violence victims, by a small number of police officers has been detected by the force's professional standards unit and Victoria's anti-corruption agency, IBAC. 

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was recently briefed on the issue and the force is considering announcing how it will deal with it when it responds in the next fortnight to the separate harassment and discrimination inquiry conducted by the Victoria's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The abuse of victims of crime involves a small number of police officers attempting to form sexual or social relationships with victims of domestic violence who the officers have met while investigating the victim's abuse.

The abuse of civilian victims of crime by police and the problem of sexual harassment and discrimination inside the force are viewed by senior police as over-lapping issues because they share a root cause - the abuse of power by some police to prey on, harass or discriminate against others. Those harassed or abused are mostly female and victims often do not formally report their abuse, believing it will not be taken seriously.

It is understood some of victims of crime have made initial complaints to the police's internal affairs unit about their alleged abuse or harassment by police, but have later decided not to press criminal charges or make a formal statement.

Police sources have described one of the perpetrators - a suburban officer who formed a sexual relationship with a domestic violence victim he met while on duty - as having repeatedly harassed female colleagues.

"He is a serial offender," said an official who had reviewed the case.

In response to questions about the abuse of vulnerable victims of crime, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said: "Any police member who exploits their position or takes advantage of a vulnerable person will be investigated by Professional Standards Command.

"We do not believe that this issue is widespread across the force. The majority of our officers joined the job because they want to help people.

"We encourage any person who feels that they have been mistreated by an officer to contact Professional Standards Command or IBAC. Protecting and supporting victims is an absolute focus for Victoria Police."

Sources close to Victoria's  Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission told Fairfax Media that senior police officers were recently briefed by the agency and warned that its findings were damning.

"It's going to be a sad day for the police force," a source said. "Some of the issues discovered are even worse than what was found in the ADF."   

Thousands of police officers have reported incidents of discrimination or harassment to  the commission when they filled out a survey sent to them as part of the agency's inquiry.

The  commission's inquiry was set up by former commissioner Ken Lay, who also formed a police taskforce, Salas, to investigate officers for abusing or harassing colleagues. Salas is investigating around 35 cases, including one historical allegation of rape.

 The commission's Victoria Police report has made some similar findings as the 2012 report by the national human rights commission into the Australian Defence Force.

The ADF report, which caused significant fall-out for the defence services, found an entrenched culture of discrimination against women. This culture also discouraged the reporting of sexual harassment.


"Paywave" problems: Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Why in 2015 are people still leaving valuables, including credit cards, unattended in their car?

Did anyone else cringe and shake their heads when WA's top cop Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan hit the front page wanting to ban "tap and go" credit cards, claiming the lack of security around the technology is helping fuel the state's rising crime problems?

Commissioner O'Callaghan says the tap-and-go or PayPass cards, which enable purchases up to $100 without a PIN, are highly sought-after by criminals and this was helping to explain why theft offences were soaring.

Why don't we put that another way? We have a cohort of Perth residents who simply lack common sense when it comes to leaving valuables, especially visible ones, in their cars after years and years of advice not to do so. 

We do indeed have a rising theft problem but experience tells us that many of these car break-ins are opportunistic crimes triggered at the spur of the moment when the thief spots a 'golden opportunity'.

How many times do people need to be told not to leave handbags or briefcases on front seats, not to leave car doors and windows unlocked, not to leave visible cash or coins in the console, not to leave sunglasses, not to leave their GPS visible, not to leave mobile phones, not to leave iPads or tablets in full view for thieves to spot and snatch?

Seriously, regardless of whether there is a current increase in the crime rate, for at least the last 20 years people have known not to leave belongings in their car to tempt passing criminals.

When you park in places like train station car parks, sadly, it is a fact of modern life that you do run the risk of your vehicle being broken into. But you also know that by not leaving things on the front or back seats in plain view to an opportunistic thief you are immediately minimising your risk of becoming another statistic.

Even if an offender does smash your window and search through your car they will leave empty-handed and disappointed. But more often than not, if they can't see any 'loot' to tempt them they will just move on.

The Commissioner's comments whipped up a week of media debate about which tap-and-go cards were more at risk, were they attached to credit or debit, whether or not a person's bank could disable the mechanism on the card and the usual range of conspiracy theories triggered whenever banks are in the news.

None of this should matter. The fact is, I don't know anyone who leaves a tap-and-go card by itself in a car in full view to passers-by. Most people would put these cards in their wallets or purses.

If someone is then silly enough to leave a wallet, purse or handbag in full view for a thief, then what on earth do they expect will happen?

Credit card fraud cost the banks nearly $400 million last year. However, that figure is quite low compared with the $650 billion spent by Australians on their cards.

While $400 million is indeed a huge amount, it needs to be put into perspective.

We are living in a society now that is always trying to find a myriad of excuses for things that simply don't deserve any excuses. 

If you do not know by now the common sense rules of life in not leaving your valuables in sight in your vehicle, then if you become a victim of car theft, then you only really have yourself to blame.

WA Police do not keep specific statistics on credit card fraud. The Australian Bankers Association denies there has been a significant increase in frauds linked to the tap and go technology.

PayPass cards are popular because consumers want the quick convenience of literally tapping and going.

Card providers also guarantee to fully reimburse their customers if they become victims of card fraud which increases the appeal of the cards but paradoxically this benefit may be encouraging people to not look after the card as well as they could.

We instinctively don't leave cash lying around. Years ago we were all told that when we got a cheque book we should treat it like cash and always protect it. The same message came with the advent of more traditional credit cards that required a signature which ironically back then at time of purchase was often not done properly anyway.

So why on earth are people leaving these tap-and-go cards all over the place and not treating them like cash, or cheque books or traditional credit cards?

Life is a risk but if you don't heed repeated warnings and choose to flout the well-known rules as if they don't apply to you then you are simply asking for trouble.

Most of us have been victims of theft at some stage of our lives, whether it be our own stupidity or not. I do share Commissioner O'Callaghan's concerns that just over 8,000 cars were broken into last month.

But he needs to call a spade a spade and banning tap-and-go is not the way to go. He needs to tell West Australians to stop being so naïve and slack and start taking more personal responsibility for many avoidable situations.

It is unfair to deny the vast majority the convenience of tap-and-go technology because of the slackness of a few people who won't accept responsibility for their actions and choose not to secure a valuable possession. 


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