Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Anthony Albanese bans TikTok on government devices

A gross invasion of free speech. Even banning it on government devices only is dubious. The fact that is is Chinese-owned seems to be the problem for the government. Sounds racist to me. Racism and paranoia are often companions. The whiff of racism should help the High Court to reject any widespread such ban on free speech grounds

All government and department issued devices used by politicians and public servants will no longer be able to have the TikTok app installed, however the ban signed off on by the Prime Minister does not apply to use on private devices.

Similar restrictions have already been introduced by Australia’s Five Eyes security partners the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada, as well as the European Parliament.

Security officials have raised concerns the Chinese Government could access data collected by TikTok, who’s parent company ByteDance is based in China.

TikTok general manager Australia and New Zealand, Lee Hunter told News Corp on Monday night the company was “extremely disappointed” by the reported decision, suggesting if confirmed it has been “driven by politics, not by fact”.

“We are also disappointed that TikTok, and the millions of Australians who use it, were left to learn of this decision through the media, despite our repeated offers to engage with government constructively about this policy,” he said.

“Again, we stress that there is no evidence to suggest that TikTok is in any way a security risk to Australians and should not be treated differently to other social media platforms.”

Mr Hunter said TikTok’s millions of Australian users deserved a government which treated all businesses fairly, “regardless of country of origin”.

The US Congress is currently consider a bill that would go even further by banning TikTok and any other platforms with links to foreign governments entirely.

Australia is not currently considering any widespread bans on TikTok.


Capitalising on climate anxiety: what you need to know about 'climate-washing'

People are increasingly making choices about which products to buy and which service providers to use on climate change grounds. With concerns about climate change now affecting most Australians, businesses that promote climate-aligned practices and make emissions-reduction promises have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.

But sometimes these claims fail to live up to reality. Climate-related greenwashing, or “climate-washing”, communicates a message that exaggerates or misrepresents climate credentials through advertising, branding, labelling or reporting.

Examples include where corporate marketing and government campaigns promising “net-zero emissions by 2050” are not backed by a credible plan. Or products are promoted as “carbon neutral” or “climate friendly” when they’re not. It also includes where banks and other investors claim to fund a “cleaner future” when this is not completely true, potentially masking climate-related financial risk.

Climate-washing is a problem because the offending businesses capitalise on climate anxiety. It also allows businesses lacking robust credentials to gain customers and market advantage on false pretences. Ultimately, it also hinders rather than helps progress towards emissions reduction goals.

In March, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced a crack-down on climate-washing and greenwashing. This followed an ACCC report revealing claims made by more than half the 247 Australian businesses reviewed in an internet sweep raised concern. The ACCC has said it will now undertake enforcement, compliance and education activities.

On Wednesday the Senate agreed to establish an inquiry into greenwashing by corporations in Australia. The inquiry will investigate the impacts of greenwashing on consumers and the environment and will identify the legal and regulatory actions needed to stop it.

The credibility gap

The imperative to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century has been consistently reinforced by climate science. This includes, most recently, this month’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

One of the upshots has been a deluge of net-zero strategic marketing. Particularly in the case of large climate change contributors – such as fossil fuel companies, airlines and the meat industry – adopting a net-zero narrative switches public perception that the company is part of the solution, rather than the problem.

Climate-washing essentially describes a gap between what’s promised and what’s likely to be achieved. This “credibility gap” can be due to factors such as over-reliance on speculative technology, offsetting, and modelling that’s outdated or hasn’t been properly verified. Although there’s a big global push toward transparency, many entities don’t adequately disclose the data and assumptions behind their promises.

Complaints and court cases

Last week, a group called Flight Free and their lawyers approached the ACCC over Etihad Airways advertising that said, “flying shouldn’t cost the earth” and “net zero emissions by 2050”. The ads were shown prominently at a soccer match in Melbourne last year. Flight Free says the advertising is misleading.

The Etihad complaint follows the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility’s Federal Court proceedings against gas company Santos. Currently afoot, this complaint challenges Santos’ “clean fuel” and “net-zero by 2040” claims.

Earlier this year, corporate watchdog ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investment Commission) initiated proceedings against super fund Mercer for allegedly misleading investors into thinking their investments in a “sustainable” investment option excluded fossil fuels.

Around the world, there’s been a recent rise in climate-washing litigation. Multiple complaints allege that the football association FIFA falsely advertised the Qatar World Cup as “fully carbon neutral.”

In aviation, there’s a pending court case against KLM targeting its “fly responsibly” campaign, and there’s also been a successful challenge to RyanAir’s low-carbon campaign.

Product complaints have ranged from allegedly climate-neutral bin liners, to “climate-controlled pork” in Denmark, and “climate-neutral croquettes” in Germany.

How is climate-washing regulated?

Climate-washing is a form of misleading and deceptive conduct, which is regulated in Australia under federal competition and consumer law.

Climate-washing that relates to financial products and services is regulated under securities and investments law.

Both the ACCC and ASIC monitor climate-washing.

Globally, concerns over climate-washing have led to action by the United Nations. A High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities was formed last year to target climate-washing. The group has a “zero tolerance for net-zero greenwashing” mantra, and delivered a report at November’s Climate Change COP in Egypt, which contains a “how-to” guide for credible, accountable net-zero pledges.


Have we militarised medicine?

Julie Sladden

‘In the absence of information, we make up stories.’ These words remind me we need truthful, unhindered, and accurate information to build understanding. The way to get information is to ask questions. And the way to get good information is to ask good questions.

Plenty of questions have been raised over the past three years, even with all the censorship. But things have taken off in recent weeks with ‘corker’ questions being asked in the US Government, the UK Parliament, and even our Australian Senate.

It’s made for some popcorn-worthy viewing.

Questions… Over the Covid era I’ve had plenty of them. Some answered, but most are not.

Questions like:

Why did our governments propagate so much fear during the pandemic?

Why wasn’t there any effort dedicated to exploring early treatment options?

Why were possible early treatment therapeutics banned from use in Australia despite widespread use overseas?

Why did AHPRA feel the need to tell medical professionals to effectively ‘fall in line’ with the vaccine rollout?

Why were healthy populations forced to vaccinate, or lose their jobs, access to education, or essential services?

Why does the provisional approval of the Covid so-called ‘vaccines’ continue despite data clearly showing alarming rates of significant adverse events? Rates that have seen previous vaccines suspended.


Thankfully, I’m not the only one asking questions.

Renowned US cardiologist, Dr Peter McCullough, has been asking questions and has not stopped since the pandemic began. For the past three years McCullough, and doctors like him, have dedicated their lives to researching, treating and ultimately saving the lives of Covid patients around the globe.

I had the opportunity to ask Dr McCullough a few of my questions on his recent visit to Australia. He started with an interesting comparison between Australia and Texas.

‘Texas has 29 million people, Australia, 26 million people. Texas has great cities, like Australia has great cities. It’s the same virus, we’re largely the same people… Texas and Australia would be a fair comparison.

‘Our hospital made its own decisions about the closure of operating rooms and catheterisation laboratories and when to reopen them. Quickly, in Texas, many different doctors and clinics began to learn how to treat the illness. And that took a lot of anxiety away from people and they felt like there was a way in which the problem could be managed and avoid hospitalisation and death. That was really the critical feature.’

He added:

‘Texas was not perfect. We certainly had hospitalisations and deaths. But we had strong advocates. We had a senator, from the very beginning, who reached out to many of us – Senator Bob Hall. And he said: “I want to know what’s going on. I want to have town halls. I want the doctors to get on calls and tell me what’s going on in your ERs in your health systems. Are you learning how to treat it? Are there innovations?”’

In Australia, it was a different story. The ‘top-down’ flow of information involved very little consultation from coal-face doctors who were faced with managing the disease. As Australian doctors watched the pandemic unfold around the world, we had the advantage of learning from doctors abroad who were gaining extensive experience in early treatment. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Watching McCullough testify to the Texas Senate Committee in late 2020, his frustration at the lack of focus on treatments for patients with Covid was clear. Undeterred he, and others like him ,including Dr Pierre Kory who joined McCullough on his visit to Australia, have been instrumental in providing information to the world about how to treat the infection. Their protocols included drugs like hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and repurposed drugs known for their pharmaceutical abilities to address various stages of the disease.

Meanwhile, Australia banned hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of Covid on March 2020. March! Ivermectin followed later in September 2021, curiously around the time many mandates came into effect as people were funnelled down the ‘vaccine or bust’ route.


‘I have the same question,’ mused McCullough, who says hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are currently used as first-line treatment in two dozen countries around the world.

I asked McCullough what his thoughts were on the role of medical boards and medical regulation.

‘You’re referring to AHPRA,’ McCullough deduces. ‘The role of that body, in my view, is clinical competence. And then, being sure that the doctor or the professional is free of major behavioural issues, drug abuse, etc. That’s their role. That is the role. Prior to Covid, they had no special stake in any disease… The aberration was Covid. And we saw, both in the United States and Australia, these bodies take a particular interest in Covid. That they were going to determine what can be said and what couldn’t be said they weren’t going to determine what drugs could be used and not used. This is the first time in medicine that these bodies took on this very unusual aberrant behaviour.’

Aberrant is one word for it.

We explored the other ‘aberrant’ behaviours of the pandemic response along with The Spectator Australia’s Alexandra Marshall and historian John Leake. Leake co-authored Courage to face Covid-19 with McCullough. Soon we arrived at one of my biggest ‘why’ questions: why had we been funnelled down a ‘vaccine or bust’ path?

One word: countermeasures.

Countermeasures are devices and strategies used to eliminate an attack by an enemy force.

I first heard this term back in December 2022 thanks to the work of Katherine Watt and Sasha Latypova, who researched the legislative framework that enabled the ‘warp speed’ response to the virus. A framework that had its foundations laid decades ago. Indeed, it’s the only explanation I’ve heard that helps make sense of the ‘aberrant’ behaviours we’ve witnessed over the past 3 years.

‘The military has biological threat programs. There’s one for smallpox, monkeypox, there’s one for anthrax,’ explains McCullough in a recent presentation. ‘The military came up with the idea of messenger RNA vaccines, not Pfizer or Moderna, and NOT operation warp speed.’

Turns out the military has been playing with mRNA vaccines for over a decade. And the combination of three legislative items – Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA), Other Transaction Authority (OTA), and the PREP Act – enabled what many suspect could be the origins of the first worldwide military operation in medicine. The EUA gets rid of the FDA ‘safety and efficacy’ regulations under EUA so the FDA has no oversight; the OTA enables the Department of Defence to order undisclosed ‘military prototypes’ from pharma; and the PREP Act, which enables the plan to be rolled out.

‘A military program was announced by Health and Human Services … and the Department of Defence, who ushered us into this vaccine era,’ continues McCullough. ‘The military emergency use authorisation is a mechanism to get rapid new technology into the military. It’s not a mechanism for the public. Its first application broadly to the public was the Covid pandemic. That’s the reason why the FDA doesn’t seem like they have any ownership over this. They can’t seem to respond to it. Because it’s a military program. This has a military origin to it. And the program is executed like a military program. No one will be spared. There are no exceptions.’

Think about it. If a virus emerged (from a US-funded lab, no less) and was interpreted as an act of ‘bioterrorism,’ what would a response to that look like?

Would it look like a single-minded, fear-fuelled, authoritarian-style military operation to get every man, woman and child ‘countermeasured’?

It might just look like that.

I have more questions.


’Stupid American trucks’: Aussies erupt as hated US trend takes over

I am surprised that vehicles larger than our parking spaces are allowed

Backlash is mounting as the trend of monster US-style pick-up trucks continues to take over Australia, infuriating countless locals and causing havoc by taking up multiple parking spaces per vehicle.

In recent years, sales of American “pick-up trucks” have been booming Down Under, with figures proving the US vehicles – like the RAM 1500 and Chevrolet’s Silverado – are exploding in popularity.

In 2021, General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) reported 2118 Chevrolet Silverado sales, and late last year, the 5000th locally-remanufactured vehicle came off the assembly line in Victoria.

And RAM Trucks revealed in October 2022 that 604 units had been sold in September – up 45 per cent on 2021 year to date, with a total of 17,115 RAMs sold to Australian customers since production began.

This surge in demand has seen other car giants sit up and take notice, with one of America’s best-selling vehicles – the Ford F-150 pick-up – on its way to Australian shores this year, followed by the expected arrival of the Toyota Tundra in late 2023 or early 2024.

Like the popular RAM 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado, the F-150 will also be imported as a left-hand-drive model, and then converted to right-hand-drive locally, with that relatively new conversion capability emerging as one of the major forces driving the surge.

But while more local motorists are embracing the trend than ever before, others are hitting back.

Reddit has been flooded with complaints about the trend recently, with many sharing photos of obnoxiously-parked utes.

In one recent example, a pick up was photographed taking up four spaces at a Jaycar carpark, with the person who snapped the photo slamming the “stupid American trucks”.

Countless commentators responded by arguing that they were “not a tradie vehicle” and that there was little practical use for trucks that size Down Under.

“Not a tradie vehicle. Probs an upper manager of some building group who has never touched a tool other than his own,” one frustrated Australian wrote.

“Not even an upper manager. Can be some eshay kid of cashed-up bogans,” another responded.

“Guy near me has one, I can sure tell you he’s not a tradie. These things seem to be the domain of construction site managers and insecure white collar workers,” another one wrote, with another adding: “And Boomers towing a 200k caravan.”

“I’ll be honest, 99 per cent of tradies I work with f***ing hate these things. It’s usually some 60-year-old grey nomad that thinks his 900kg Jayco popup needs a vehicle that barely fits in an Australian lane to pull it,” another said.

The vehicles have become so ubiquitous they’ve even been given an Aussie nickname – the “emotional support vehicle”, or ESV – mockingly implying owners of these cars only buy them to compensate for their own shortcomings.

A variety of other creatively insulting nicknames have also been termed, including “Seppo” (short for septic tank, which rhymes with Yank), “Yank tanks” and “freedumb trucks”, as well as a string of others that are too crude to publish.

“These ESVs make me irrationally angry. I can’t fathom the type of t*rd who buys these,” another furious Australian wrote.

“They’re not better at anything than more reasonable tradie cars. They’re totally impractical. They stick the middle finger up at the planet. I hate them so much.”

In another example, an ESV was also snapped taking up multiple car spaces in an indoor car park, attracting similar ire.

“ … this isn’t about utility, it’s just being about saying a big agressive f**k you to everyone else,” one person wrote, with another pointing out that these vehicles were “bigger than the Australian Standard parking spaces which were designed to accommodate the largest 4WDs or a small van from approximately 2004”.

“Fun fact: It has a smaller load capacity than a 2WD HiLux Workmate … I don’t understand how these types of trucks are so popular when they’re so woefully incapable,” another posted.

“Carrying capacity sucks, towing capacity sucks, handling sucks, braking sucks, off-road ability sucks, fuel economy seems like they’re actively competing for the worst numbers … and yet they’re still insanely expensive and people are falling over themselves to buy them.”

And in yet another example, another of these vehicles was photographed taking up three car bays outside a BatteryWorld outlet, with a Redditor posting it was likely “used to carry fragile egos”.

Meanwhile, many Australians have suggested printing off insulting stickers and slapping them on the vehicles when they are spotted taking up multiple car parks.

Alex Jeffs, automotive expert at comparison site Finder, recently told news.com.au that there were several reason for the popularity of these vehicles, including Australia’s historic passion for utes.

“Covid for instance saw the rise of the staycation. With more people buying caravans, many of these large trucks have much larger towing capacities than your standard ute,” he said.

“The popular RAM 1500 can tow 4.5 tonnes compared to the Toyota HiLux, which is one of Australia’s favourites and good for 3.5 tonnes.

“You also see a lot of them kitted out with toolboxes and the like in the back and as some of these large trucks are being used for work purposes, there are tax incentives that make them appealing to businesses.”


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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